September 23, 2002
WHERE'S JAY?: I saw writer-director Kevin Smith speak at Cornell about a year ago, and he mentioned that his next role for Jason Mewes would ditch the Jay and Silent Bob schtick. I'm interested to see this, but it probably won't make it to film unless they can find the guy.
September 19, 2002
PERVERTS, PART 6
PERVERTS, PART 6: I can't believe I almost missed it. Sunday, Mickey Kaus reacted to this Wired piece on an arguably overzealous federal child porn sting. Eugene Volokh gives some of his professional legal insights into the issue (for my amateur legal opinions see here and here; see here for my thoughts on policy, and here for my thoughts on why adult-child sexual relationships are wrong.)
Kaus notes that there are other forms of entertainment that hurt those involved (car crash videos, for example) which we don't outlaw, and Volokh follows this line of reasoning to opine that a ban on animal "crush videos" is unconstitutional. Are you surprised that I've written about crush videos, and sex-driven animal cruelty in general, here?
Volokh draws a distinction between child porn and crush videos because of the seriousness of the crime involved, i.e. child molestation vs. animal cruelty. I basically agree with his analysis, but as I noted in the post linked above (the most recent "here"), animal cruelty in the form of sexual abuse isn't really about animals, and introduces unique policy questions.
Steve Silberman, who wrote the Wired piece, emailed Kaus (see the update at the end of his post) to say that he agrees with the logic of banning child porn with which Kaus quibbled. "But then [Adam Vaughn, Silberman's] poster-boy victim belongs in jail, no?" Not necessarily, Mickey. I agree with the logic of traffic signals at busy intersections, but that doesn't mean I think running a red light should warrant five years in prison with no parole. Vaughn, who has no apparant pedophile inclinations, downloaded super-human amounts of porn, most of it legal, and left some of it (which was not legal) in a "Too Young" file. He should probably get some long and unpleasant probation, but there's a point where "setting an example" goes too far.
September 17, 2002
IMAGINE: "If you are asking did I support the Third Reich, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Third Reich, and I think the disappearance of the Third Reich is the biggest catastrophe of my life. If there was a Third Reich today, we would not be having this conversation about plunging into a new war in the Middle East, and the US would not be rampaging around the globe."
LIKE MOM ALWAYS USED TO...
LIKE MOM ALWAYS USED TO SAY: Drink your latte! Smoke those Marlboros! Do you want to get Parkinson's?
September 14, 2002
ADAM & EVE & FRIENDS
ADAM & EVE & FRIENDS: Rod Dreher passes along a solicitation for papers from the The Journal of Bisexuality (presumably a scholarly version of the alt-bookstore favorite Anything That Moves). It's quite funny, especially since, among other things, they're soliciting connections between polyamory and "vegetarianism, veganism" and "ecology." What the hell does not eating dairy have to do with sex with multiple partners, you may ask? My guess is it has something to do with undermining the "patriarchy." Do postmodernist leftists even enjoy sex, or are do they just "construct" relationships for ideological reasons?
Laughing at academic pretentions can be loads of fun. Leave it to Stanley Kurtz to insist that this is in fact "serious," because it illustrates the evil of gay marriage and the slippery slope to (gasp!) group marriage.
It's not even true that arguments for gay marriage must apply to polyamorous marriage (I have no particular problem with either, but Andrew Sullivan, for example, favors only the former). Moreover, polyamorous groups will never be as widespread as even the relatively small gay subculture. It's hard enough to get two people to stick to the terms of a relationship, imagine what it must be like with three or four. A few (very few) might be able to handle it, but the relationships had better be built on mutual respect, understanding, and desire; some Michel Foucault books and extreme dogmatism won't cut it.
I don't think gay couples or polyamorous groups should be getting marriage bonuses in the tax code or anything like that, but I feel the same way about straight couples. The family units people choose to build (about as private as any aspect of life) are seen by social conservatives like Kurtz as legitimate targets of regulation, presumably because of some collective interest in traditionalism. Somehow, I don't think that people will abandon their traditional marriage in droves no matter what gays and bisexuals are doing; indeed, the case that Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch have made that gays would likely become more domesticated and less promiscuous with the option of marriage is quite strong.
Moreover, problems with families, whatever their composition, are matters for the family, and very rarely have a place in the realm of public policy. There's nothing wrong with starting a church (or a scholarly journal on a sexual orientation) to proselytize your ideas of what a family should look like. There's a big problem with asking governments to forcefully impose your ideas on people with no interest in them.
FREE ADVICE: Janet Reno is following the "I demand a recount!" strategy of the Gore campaign in Florida. This failed in 2000; instead of using it again, she should be making the sorts of bold gestures that she's become famous for.
Instead of just asking for recounts and praying, she should go the whole nine yards: get the Secretary of State to order votes for her counted twice and votes for McBride dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. To do this, simply puncture the walls of his office building with tanks and pump in the tear gas until he yields or kills himself. Remember, fires burn best on dry, windy days.
The state elections canvassing commission may be reluctant to do her any favors, so she might consider kidnapping their children and sending them to Cuba.
Such actions, of course, will require a strike force that's not too particular about such distinctions as "military" and "police" (the old "peace officer" methods of subduing people with the least amount of force necessary are so trite; soldiers, trained to kill, are much more effective in any police action). Surely, Reno must have some contacts from her days as AG who can hook her up.
May the assault begin!
September 13, 2002
THE PERMENANT CAMPAIGN
THE PERMENANT CAMPAIGN: Apparently, Bill Clinton's spin army is having some success. The comment board on "OUT OF THE WOODS" below, filled mostly with messages to the effect that James Woods is cool, contains one dissenting note; my response is a little long to leave in the comments section. One "David" writes
Clinton might be a SOB, but he sure is articulate. I can't imagine Bush dealing with the issues raised in such depth or with such clarity.Well David, I don't know what you saw, but the parts of Letterman I caught weren't exactly brimming with "clarity."
I'm sorry, but its true.
It seems Clinton thinks that weapons inspectors and sanctions worked fine, so we should definitely attack Iraq, unless the UN doesn't want to. Got that?
Then he basically implied that there would be peace in Israel if only someone as smart as him was there and "both sides" would stop "digging" themselves into a hole with (evidentally morally equivalent) violence.
I agree, I could never see Bush trying to talk like Clinton, but I think that's a good thing. A lot of people mistake Clinton-speak for "depth" because things that should be simple are treated with relativistic complexity. David seems to think that the interview was somehow spontaneous; I can assure you it was not (they rehearse even more than usual when a politician is the guest). Bush has delivered scripted lines much better than any that Clinton has. The "unmarked grave of discarded lies" will make the history books. The "new covenant" and "bridge to the 21st Century" probably won't. As for ad libs, I'll admit that the "I can hear you..." line from Ground Zero has tough competion in "it depends on what the meaning of the word is is."
I have little appetite to talk about Clinton. Sure, it's important to remember how we got into this mess-- that is, by telegraphing, with ineffective, antiseptic cruise missle launches at random targets, that there was little to be lost by trifling with the U.S. Yes, it's Clinton's fault, but I'd rather learn from his errors and move on than keep on blaming Clinton; I wish we could all just forget about him.
But he's not gonna let that happen, is he?
September 12, 2002
WELCOME INSTAPUNDIT TRAFFIC
WELCOME INSTAPUNDIT TRAFFIC: For a while the infamous Blogger archive bug was sending some of you to the wrong post, but it's fixed now. Apologies.
OUT OF THE WOODS
OUT OF THE WOODS: Bill Clinton was on Letterman tonight satisfying his unbounded need for attention, and John McCain, whose need for attention is marginally more defensible (he is a sitting Senator, after all), was on Leno. While the world's most infamous cigar aficionado needed Dave's entire show to impart Wisdom, McCain yielded the floor to actor James Woods. Woods, who felt "ashamed to be a Democrat" during the Clinton years (but loyally showed up at the Gore/Lieberman convention), was by far the most entertaining interview of the evening.
Today is the first day when Sept. 11 no longer has to signify a particular traumatic incident [traumatic incident? Three-thousand Americans were murdered, Woods pointed out]; it can refer now to a new day, Sept. 11, 2002. The United States will always be, to some extent, imprisoned by its power. But if it can show the world that it can be humble and ready to change, some good may yet come of all it has suffered. Perhaps the best thing we can learn from older nations--Vietnam, say, or Japan--is that the most useful response to loss is to start looking beyond our wounds and toward how we can avoid hurting others, and getting hurt, again.Paraphrasing Woods:
In other words if we're all nice little boys and girls and don't make trouble, then maybe we won't be attacked by psychos-- you know, I hope I never meet this guy [Pico Iyer, who Woods didn't name on the air], because if I do, I'm gonna smack him.Right on.
September 11, 2002
ONE YEAR LATER
ONE YEAR LATER: That Day I woke up early for some reason, a few minutes before my phone rang. It was my parents; the second plane had already hit, and it was clear that this wasn't an accident. I turned on my radio (I didn't have a TV), and listened while I showered. I heard over the radio that the Pentagon was hit, too. I called my parents back. "We're at war," my Dad said; he was the first person I knew who figured that out.
I went downstairs to look for a TV, which I finally found in the bar I was living above at the time. I called Ryan, who's a very deep sleeper, and left a message (his roommate was out) telling him to turn his set on. Then I caught a bus up to Ryan's apartment; I had to knock on his bedroom window to wake him.
"I was just going to say that," Ryan said when the anchor mentioned Tom Clancy. (He'd read Debt of Honor, which ends with a 747 plowing through the Capitol.)
Naturally, I chastised a professor for her mush-headed reaction in the one class I went to that day.
That was a day different than any other. Today is not; no matter what the networks tell us, today is just another day. KBO.
September 05, 2002
WRITER'S BLOCK: Each of the past few days, I've started a blog entry, and every time, I've concluded halfway through that what I have to say isn't that interesting (or I don't have time to make it that way) and close the browser.
Now that the notoriously slow news month of August is over, there ought to be more inspiration coming, so perhaps I'll have more to add. In the meantime, if you missed Brink Lindsey's debate with fellow-Catoite (and Liberty contributing editor) Gene Healy about war on Iraq, start here. (I'm with Lindsey on this one.)