Aristocrats of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your…shame.

by Corey Robin on January 16, 2014

I just heard Ari Shapiro on NPR report on an effort in Britain to “modernize” the aristocracy by allowing women of the nobility to inherit the titles and estates of their fathers. Most titles currently preclude that. No one on the show mentioned the most obvious step to modernity, which would be to abolish the titled aristocracy altogether.

There was a time when the battle against sexism and the battle against the aristocracy were thought to be one and the same. No more. As Lady Liza Campbell, one of the aggrieved heiresses-in-waiting, told Shapiro:

Nowhere should girls be born less than their brother. Yes, it’s the aristocracy. You may want to hold a peg over your nose. But it’s still sexism. You can be an atheist and support the idea of women bishops, I think.


It’s easy to pooh-pooh and laugh at this sort of talk, but as I argued in The Reactionary Mind, one of the chief ways the right defends itself against the left, and preserves its privileges more generally, is to borrow the tropes and tactics, the memes and methods, of the left. Sometimes this borrowing is self-conscious and strategic; other times, it happens unconsciously. Railing against their antagonists, or acting in a world their antagonists have created, the defenders of privilege find themselves mimicking the language, adopting the arguments, of their antagonists. Often without even realizing it.

As if to prove my point, Campbell tells Shapiro at the end of the report that if she and her comrades are not able to change the practice in Parliament, they will take their cause to the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg. As if it were the most natural thing in the world for a member of the British aristocracy to press its case before an international human rights tribunal. Edmund Burke, meet Tom Paine.

Speaking of Burke, Campbell’s comment reminded me of that moment in Burke where he drops all talk of little platoons and local tradition and starts insisting that the aristocracy reinvent themselves as “citizens” of Europe. So “sympathetic with the adversity or the happiness of mankind” should counterrevolutionary Britain be, he writes in the Letters on a Regicide Peace, that “nothing in human foreign affairs”—and certainly nothing in the affairs of revolutionary France—would be “foreign to her.” Were the counterrevolution to think of itself in this way, he sighs dreamily, “no citizen of Europe could be altogether an exile in any part of it.” And the aristocracy might just have a fighting chance of preserving itself.

Aristocrats of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your…shame.

{ 547 comments }

1

L2P 01.16.14 at 1:06 am

“There was a time when the battle against sexism and the battle against the aristocracy were thought to be one and the same. “

This was also the time when the battle for women’s suffrage, the battle to criminalize alcohol, and eugenics were thought to be one and the same. I think we’ve moved on.

It sounds like you think a rich black man can’t suffer racism. Or that a Rothschild can’t complain of discrimination against Jews. I think this post may have finally killed the use of “privilege” as a meaningful criticism.

2

mjfgates 01.16.14 at 1:19 am

I might note that abolishing the nobility in law would allow for the creation of private registrars to keep track of the now-meaningless titles, and that the customers of those registrars could set up whatever rules they liked. A good socialist could really get behind this kind of privatization.

3

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 1:19 am

@L2P

The point is that the battle against sexism or racism is based on the idea that nobody should have privileges because of his birth, so privileges for males or whtes are unjust. This means that aristocracy in itself is uberunjust, if you think that people shuldn’t be discriminated because of their birth the first thing you have to do is to abolish aristocracy as a matter of principle.

This noblewoman of the OP instead is ok with birth privileges, she just wants a larger chunk of it for herself.

4

Barry Freed 01.16.14 at 1:20 am

It’s the Downton Abbey effect. Much of the what there is of a plot is driven by the fact that the estate is entailed thus Lord Grantham’s daughters cannot inherit.

5

bob mcmanus 01.16.14 at 1:32 am

Neoliberalism is a liberalism, about the only one left to so-called liberals who have abandoned economic justice as an equal priority. The focus on the oppression of Lady Liza Campbell (or the Rothschilds) is absolutely the logical and necessary consequence of identity politics since the 80s. Or see some threads below.

And I will see the “aristocracy” as fairly broad and inclusive of UMC and educated elites, until the child of a Harvard graduate has little to no chance of graduating from Harvard.

6

Bruce Wilder 01.16.14 at 2:07 am

“You can be an atheist and support the idea of women bishops, I think.”

That’s a remarkable sentiment. How’s it supposed to work, do you think? How’s the atheist to gain a voice in church affairs?

Ordinarily, membership would have its privileges, including some say in the choice of organizational leadership, where the organization is structured to make leadership depend on the membership. But, not all churches are organized that way. In some, the membership depends on the hierarchy. And, that is how aristocracy is supposed to work too, yes? The serfs depend on the aristocrats.

It’s different for the aristocrats without the title and the land, I suppose — the supporting players, the hapless fifth business, or the mere conduit on the family tree connecting lucky cousins. Proximity must lend a certain poignancy to powerlessness. But, that is how it goes in a world of very great historical particularity. Privilege without particularity is so profoundly random, that its unfairness must rankle.

A bishop without a religious faith to propagate . . .

7

Lee A. Arnold 01.16.14 at 2:16 am

How much loot do these ladies stand to get their hands on?

8

bob mcmanus 01.16.14 at 2:33 am

That’s a remarkable sentiment. How’s it supposed to work, do you think? How’s the atheist to gain a voice in church affairs?

Nancy Fraser Reframing Justice pdf, a section of Scales of Justice

Uhh, redistribution, recognition, and representation three equal principles of justice

Reframe “just representation” from those geographically or institutionally included in a decision process to those affected by the process and it’s outcome.

Then make justice and representation claims based on facts that feminists everywhere (including atheist or non-member feminists) are empowered by women bishops or Lady Campbell’s inheritance rights

9

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 2:39 am

Weird. Queens can inherit the English throne, so how come the same doesn’t apply for the nobility?

10

nick s 01.16.14 at 2:46 am

How much loot do these ladies stand to get their hands on?

As the piece notes, often none at all. The complaint from those with a title but no estate is that the title descends no matter what, and if it doesn’t go to the daughters, it’ll go somewhere, perhaps to a third cousin twice removed who’s a trainee pig farmer in Arkansas. The counter-argument there would be that it’s not your title, but has instead temporarily settled upon you like the aristocratic lurgey, and if strict male primogeniture has an inbuilt sense of humour, so be it.

11

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 2:50 am

I do find it extremely infuriating that atheists have an opinion on women bishops, which is really none of there business, but whatever.

12

roy belmont 01.16.14 at 2:55 am

As if it were the most natural thing in the world…
Except for the obvious ones, the differences, between inherited status through birth alone and inherited status through wealth alone, don’t seem all that pronounced.
Both have their origins in the accomplishment of some ancestor, and subsequent maintenance of the results of accomplishment through legal, cultural, and societal structures built to aid that maintenance. Lots of other parallels.
The obvious difference is access to the castles of privilege.
Present, open to all qualified comers in the kingdom of money, but entirely absent in the bloodlines of nobility, except through marriage.
Just guessing of course, but you’re probably not too interested in some kind of equivalent economic disinheritance, the dismantling of financially privileged birth, total financial start-overs for each generation.
Because the aristocracies of wealth are so much more humane? Natural? Egalitarian?

13

nick s 01.16.14 at 2:56 am

Queens can inherit the English throne, so how come the same doesn’t apply for the nobility?

The short version: each title has its own specific inheritance conditions attached to it. Some titles have agnatic primogeniture where women can never inherit, some allow inheritance by nephews and cousins while others don’t, some allow an eldest daughter to inherit if there are no younger sons, etc.

14

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 2:59 am

I think we should tax these people’s wealth/estates away from them, of course. But once the estate’s gone, I don’t really care if they keep the pretty aristocratic titles for historical purposes, and I suppose women ought to be able to inherit those, why not.

15

Corey Robin 01.16.14 at 3:04 am

Roy Belmont: “Just guessing of course, but you’re probably not too interested in some kind of equivalent economic disinheritance, the dismantling of financially privileged birth, total financial start-overs for each generation.”

Bad guess.

16

chomko 01.16.14 at 3:06 am

@ 10: “I do find it extremely infuriating that atheists have an opinion on women bishops, which is really none of there business, but whatever.”

…this is little to do with the substance of the thread, but you seem to’ve confused disbelief in the existence of a God with disbelief in the existence of the CoE; the existence of a large institutional employer identifying as the latter is fairly well documented, and a number of its bishops hold positions in one of the less-representative branches of a representative government.

17

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 3:07 am

Re: How’s the atheist to gain a voice in church affairs?

In countries like England (and I assume some others) church affairs of the state church are regulated by the state to some degree. Which is how the Church of Denmark is now legally obligated to perform gay marriages, etc..

18

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 3:24 am

“Just guessing of course, but you’re probably not too interested in some kind of equivalent economic disinheritance, the dismantling of financially privileged birth, total financial start-overs for each generation.”

Do you even read the posts here? I mean that is the only way you could be so clueless about Corey’s opinions.

19

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 3:27 am

Re: you seem to’ve confused disbelief in the existence of a God with disbelief in the existence of the CoE;

Yup, I’m aware of the argument ‘take Caesar’s coin, play by Caesar’s rules’. The Church of England should have disestablished themselves a long time ago, I increasingly think.

20

P O'Neill 01.16.14 at 4:02 am

A somewhat related issue is the ban on the British monarch marrying a Catholic or being Catholic. Is the logical position here the republican one that the whole institution is ridiculous and the situation can only be solved by abolition, or that a legacy institution should still be subject to process improvements despite their anachronistic nature?

21

Belle Waring 01.16.14 at 4:30 am

I actually have a friend (well, she’s my mom’s best friend) who suffered terribly from this (now you will all play a tiny violin but in the context of her whole life it was awful). When her father died, the house that she had grown up in with her grandparents, parents and two sisters, a…not castle obviously, whatever, pile of varying eras of edifice but with one nice Palladian section and–just what we have all always wanted and needed in life, a ha ha–in any case, she and her sisters and I think even mother were summarily turned out in favor of a motherfucking second cousin because PENIS. Also AVOID THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. Ditto their house in London, which was fucking fabulous. I used to could stay there even when no one was in town (I only ever took advantage of this as a teenager). And now what would happen if my family were to go to London? We would have to stay in a hotel. The indignities pile upon themselves. My mom’s friend and her sisters weren’t broke or anything, since the dad was not Mr. Bennett, and had been making plans all along that involved something other than “keep knocking the mom up,” and they in any case had careers, my mom’s friend being a maker of documentaries. BUT think how much that sucked, the house in the country where they spent their whole life, and they can’t take their grandchildren there. I wept actual tears when we had to sell my grandfather’s house, and that was a clear necessity (since there’s no conceivable way 9 cousins, each of whom are married and has at least two kids–not yet true of all but presumably–could share a single normal house) –but this fucking mansion could have held them all with room for the next 5 generations so there was no pressing need to sell. (Though I guess the UK has a relatively high estate tax?). Even given that, though, they could have sold some of the land or something, there’s like a drillion acres. You may all start playing your tiny violins now.

22

Collin Street 01.16.14 at 4:37 am

Disestablishment doesn’t actually help, here, Hector: private organisations still use Caesar’s courts, Caesar’s company acts, and Caesar’s trusts jurisprudence.

[all enforceable arrangements are enforced by the state: binding people — and this includes holding any form of property, you’ll note — is done on the state’s terms or not at all.]

23

roy belmont 01.16.14 at 4:37 am

Corey Robin 3:04 am-
Happy to be wrong about that. No, I am, really.
But then it seems a little facile to spend critical thought-time on a relative handful of remnant Lords and Ladies when the social tension’s so enormously coming from the moneyed-up side.
Campbell’s position’s a little anachronistic, but she’s not much of a threat to the well-being of the common people really, is she? I mean even as a representative of some hierarchical class. Which she doesn’t seem to be exactly. She makes pretty cool forthrightly class-subversive art. I don’t think she’s looking to change her position in The Hunt.
Isn’t kind of too easy, laughing at her? Safely amusing, and a little cruel.
Why shouldn’t she take her complaint as high as she needs to to get satisfaction? She’s in the middle of something she didn’t create, whose rules are set to her disadvantage.
Is it the irony of her wanting gender equality in a feudal caste system?
Does the British aristocracy even have much of anything to do with conditions and well-being issues for those under them in that arcane set-up? I don’t know, but it would seem not much different in the UK from the US. Where the nightmare of metastasizing economic disparity seems about to enter some kind of terminal phase.

24

Bryan 01.16.14 at 5:28 am

Dear Crooked Timber, I feel I may have confidence in you. By rights I am a duke!

My great-grandfather, eldest son of the Duke of Bridgewater, fled to this country about the end of the last century, to breathe the pure air of freedom; married here, and died, leaving a son, his own father dying about the same time.

The second son of the late duke seized the titles and estates—the infant real duke was ignored. I am the lineal descendant of that infant—I am the rightful Duke of Bridgewater; and here am I, forlorn, torn from my high estate, hunted of men, despised by the cold world, ragged, worn, heart-broken, and degraded to the companionship of academics on a blog!

25

Zamfir 01.16.14 at 5:36 am

Bryan, perhaps of we advance you some money, you can reclaim your title and repay us back many times over?

26

Nine 01.16.14 at 5:54 am

Bryan@24 – Is there a giant hound somewhere in this sordid story of contested inheritance ?

27

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 6:01 am

Collin,

No, I mean if the Church of England wasn’t established, then religious freedom issues would apply and the state couldn’t make them ordain women , marry gays etc .

28

Suzanne 01.16.14 at 6:25 am

@4: True. Specifically, Lord Grantham’s eldest daughter cannot inherit. I do not see why barring women from inheriting is any more or less arbitrary or discriminatory than preserving hereditary elites in perpetuity by handing over everything to the first child to emerge from Mummy’s crotch.

I see Lady Liza (nice name, was almost the title of “My Fair Lady” until Lerner and Loewe figured out something else) is going to the mattresses on behalf of her elder sister, which is big of her. Can’t imagine Edith doing that for Mary.

29

Corey Robin 01.16.14 at 6:43 am

Roy Belmont: ” But then it seems a little facile to spend critical thought-time on a relative handful of remnant Lords and Ladies when the social tension’s so enormously coming from the moneyed-up side.”

If you scroll through my posts here, you’ll find that the bulk of my attention is focused on the moneyed-up side of things. That should at least earn me the occasional pass to take a poke at the remnant few. I think the revolution can spare me those few hours of guilty pleasure, no?

30

Donna Gratehouse 01.16.14 at 7:03 am

“I do find it extremely infuriating that atheists have an opinion on women bishops, which is really none of there business, but whatever.”

Religious people of all types have an opinion on atheism, which is really none of their business either.

31

John Quiggin 01.16.14 at 7:16 am

I saw a show which claimed (IIRC) that due to some miscarriage of justice during the Wars of the Roses the true king of England is a retired agronomist in Deniliquin (rural Australia). He’s officially a duke or similar, I think.

32

Meredith 01.16.14 at 7:19 am

I think all this addresses comments and post. I recently learned that one of my great grandmothers made 100 loaves of bread a week for two colleges in a midwestern town over a hundred years ago so that three of her ten children could attend one of those colleges (two of those three being girls, btw — and the college idea being hers, not my great grandfather’s). Some recent immigrant, a Swede or German maybe? No, a descendant of New England 1600’s types (as was her husband). Her (and most of the rest of my family’s) consistent and persistent advantage, I’ve come to realize? Always first. First to NE. First to Virginia. First to the next place west, be it Tennessee or Wisconsin, Minnesota or Montana, Washington or California. (Always carefully buying Indian land — legal niceties, so important — they truly were, in an admirable way, yet they were also meaningless, of course. Hello Hilary Mantel on Thomas Cromwell’s legal interests.) British aristocracy: a useful analogue, to a point. But it all gets a little more complicated when we’re talking a kind of middle class aristocracy — a very hardworking middle class , which I think is more what American history has been about much more than British or anyone else has (till recently? hence my “to a point”). All this, plus I’ve been reading Empty Mansions and before that Ebony and Ivy. In the big picture, Corey’s on track. There’s room for all our arguments when there is such a thing as a real and vital middle class (or its analogue — class v. status arguments, and all that).

(The space I have just carved: Wow, so historically narrow. Or maybe not. I don’t know.)

And there’s no imaginable reason women should not be clergy. Or anti-clergy (hello, Anne Hutchinson). Or atheists, too. The end.

33

Chris Bertram 01.16.14 at 8:16 am

But but but ….

So we’ve raised the question about whether “moneyed privilege” is fundamentally different from aristocratic privilege. Then let’s press a little on “moneyed privilege” and make a distinction between those with inherited wealth (who resemble the aristocracy more) and members of the “meritocracy” (who resemble them less). Focus on the latter who are, nevertheless, arbitrarily advantaged in all kinds of ways. Then take a society like ours (UK, US, …) and think about the problem of the “glass ceiling”, that there are many fewer women than men in the boardrooms of top corporations. Is this something that ought to concern people who think of themselves as (in broad terms) egalitarians? I think it should, even though the women who are thereby excluded (executives of the tier below, let’s say) have more than enough to live satisfactory lives. Indeed, I think that the example shows something interesting about our commitments (using “our” to mean people like me of course!), namely that we continue to think that there are problems of injustice even when everyone has enough, just so long as there are some inequalities, suggesting that equality (as a value) cannot be replaced by a standard of sufficiency in a theory of distributive justice.

34

Mao Cheng Ji 01.16.14 at 8:51 am

“namely that we continue to think that there are problems of injustice even when everyone has enough, just so long as there are some inequalities”

Maybe that’s because the concept of ‘equality’, as it has developed, is not useful anymore. Once the equal legal rights for everybody are achieved, we should forget inequality and concentrate on exploitation.

A woman in the second tier of the pyramid is nearly as much an exploiter as the men on top of the pyramid, and therefore she is not a victim but a perpetrator. And the same is true, arguably, for all of the middle-class individuals: men and women, whites and blacks, gays and straight. Not one iota of justice is done by shuffling them around inside the exploiter class.

35

Niall McAuley 01.16.14 at 8:52 am

Bruce writes: “How’s the atheist to gain a voice in church affairs?”

Well, this is the CoE we’re talking about, so atheists get promoted to Bishop in the usual way.

But only if PENIS.

36

Zamfir 01.16.14 at 8:55 am

@Chris, at least for me, I don’t care deeply about the plight of almost-at-the-topwomen for themselves.

Far more about the precedent and message set by a glass ceiling, and the effect on all women in an organization if their leadership is mostly male.

Not that a glass ceiling is not an injustice in itself, just that its importance relative to other injustices is due to effects in the rest of organizations.

37

Chris Bertram 01.16.14 at 9:04 am

@Chris, at least for me, I don’t care deeply about the plight of almost-at-the-topwomen for themselves.

OK, change the example a bit, away from corporate executives to top professors (ie “Professors” in the UK) at elite universities. Caring any more?

38

t.gracchus 01.16.14 at 9:15 am

While an atheist may think women should not be barred from bishoprics, an anticlerical atheist can easily think it makes no difference at all whether women hold the position because the position itself should be abolished. It is also a little odd to suppose that theological commitments are governed by principals of equality. Framed by little violins (and the faux irony) or not, the mom’s best friend story makes no difference: it applies to anyone who loses out. The loss of access to the estates should not have been a surprise. If variation in inheritance — including getting to give your stuff to whom you like on death — is okay, then historical happenstance should be a good enough reason.

39

Zamfir 01.16.14 at 9:24 am

The same, really? Example value, effects on the whole system, all important beyond the people involved.

For the individuals concerned, senior lectureship is already a very nice social position. Further promotions are important matter for them individually, less so for the rest of the world.

40

Zamfir 01.16.14 at 9:25 am

Reply to Chris, not Gracchus

41

lurker 01.16.14 at 9:27 am

@22, Collin Street
Didn’t the British courts force the BNP to drop the clause from their charter that restricted membership to whites only? Equal opportunity for bigots of all races.

42

Katherine 01.16.14 at 9:40 am

FFS, sexism is sexism. You might as well say that women in the west can’t complain about sexism because women in have it worse. I have lots of privilege by reason of my birth – I’m white, I live in a rich country, I’m middle class etc etc. I still get to says sexism sucks, as it applies to me, as well as (OMG, I can think about more than one thing at once!) point out and be active on sexism elsewhere.

This is exactly the type of nonsensical shite used to shut women up everywhere. It’s unworthy of you Cory. There’s always someone worse off, somewhere.

43

Katherine 01.16.14 at 9:42 am

And by the way, I think the aristocracy, and the monarchy, should be done away with entirely.

44

Katherine 01.16.14 at 9:50 am

Although, in the interests of full disclosure, you should know that a similar case in the Spanish aristocracy has already been to the Committee for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and they took the same view as you.

However, although they have some powers of adjudication in certain circumstances, they are not as whole, a bunch of lawyers. Every lawyer I have spoken to about that – which included different colours and political persuasions, thought they got it wrong.

45

Katherine 01.16.14 at 9:51 am

46

Matt Heath 01.16.14 at 10:05 am

How’s the atheist to gain a voice in church affairs?

Traditionally by becoming a vicar. It’s the CofE we are talking about here.

47

GiT 01.16.14 at 10:22 am

“Not one iota of justice is done by shuffling them around inside the exploiter class.”

Doubtful. If every year Asterion gets sent 14 women, this is clearly at least 1 iota less just than 7 women and 7 men going to the labyrinth. Nothing just about arbitrarily being twice as likely to be shipped to Crete than someone else solely because of one’s sex or race &etc.

More generally, if harms and benefits are going to befall people capriciously, less disparate incidence and more evenly distributed propensities to be affected are improvements.

48

Lynne 01.16.14 at 10:32 am

Why, why when injustices are ranked, is sexism always deemed the least. This is an old tactic and I’m sorry to see it here, especially in this gleeful, jeering tone.

49

Mao Cheng Ji 01.16.14 at 10:37 am

GiT, like I said, everyone already has equal legal rights. If, in your example, individuals were selected based on their gender, that would’ve been illegal already.

“…are improvements”

Note that all the examples of sexism above are in the context of power struggle. Yes, eliminating inefficiencies (e.g. sexism) would ensure that the most determined, ambitious, opportunistic individual will get on top. I suppose it could count as improvement in some abstract sense, but I don’t see it as improvement. The qualities that help you get to the top of the pyramid are not the qualities I would like to see in the person sitting on top of the pyramid. And of course ideally I’d prefer to get rid of the pyramid altogether, which would render the issue moot.

50

Haftime 01.16.14 at 10:52 am

Katherine, you’re right that the aristocracy is sexist and we should oppose it. But your solution is to extend the privilege rather than reducing it?
If she wants a peerage, she can buy it with donations to a political party like the rest of us commoners.

51

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 10:59 am

— on female bishops
“And there’s no imaginable reason women should not be clergy. ” [Meredith]

The official Roman Catholic explanation is something like this:
1 – In the day of Pentecost of the year 33 the Holy Ghost descended on the apostles and gave them “bishopic powers”. Them later passed those bishopic powers and the Holy Ghost to subsequent bishops, in a straight line. It is only because of this Holy Ghost thing that there are bishops who can then order priests, so this is not at all a bureaucratic problem but a Holy Ghost problem (Catholics at least in theory believe that the sacraments are a real, and not just symbolic, thing).

2 – There were women also in that Pentecost night but the Gospels say that the Holy Spirit just went on males. Yes, this sound sexist, but who are we to doubt the Holy Ghost? So we won’t order female bishops or priests.

I note this because the official reason Roman Catholics don’t have female priests is theological. The principle of freedom of religion implies that the state cannot enter into matters of theology. Also as an atheist I believe that this argument is very supid in itself, but what can I say to a Catholic who believes it? “I think that your interpretation of the writings of your religion is false, and mine is better, although I think mine is false too because I don’t believe your religion altogether” sounds as a losing argument.
Now if the Pope changes his mind and reverts to a different interpretation, all for the better, but this is not something that I, as an atheist, have much saying in.

— on birth privilege VS moneyed privilege
I think that equality of rights is necessary, though not sufficient, to get to substantial equality. So even if we think that today the real problem is substantial equality, we can’t simply ignore equality of rights issues.

— on the “but this is sexism anyway!” thesis
Not really because the title is based on a certain sexist definition of rights of inheritance, so that if you change the definition you also change the title substantially. For example if we redefine the title of “King of Britain” in such a way that all the descendants of both sexes, including those born out of the wedding bed, of someone who was King of Britain, can claim the title, there is a certain chance that we are all Kings of Britain, wich sorta undermines the whole concept of kinghood.
So if you have claims on a certain inherently sexist title, you can’t have the title but leave down the sexism.
Suppose that we agree that the title in question should not go to the first male heir, but to the first heir: then it is really likely that the chain of inheritance that took the title to LLC’s father would have been different, and thus LLC’s sister would have no claim on the title anyway.

52

Katherine 01.16.14 at 11:05 am

But your solution is to extend the privilege rather than reducing it?

It’s not extending the privilege. It’s shuffling it.

And my solution, like I clearly said, is to abolish the whole thing. Whilst it’s there though, it would at least be better (for a tiny tiny value of better) for the privilege to be more equitably distributed.

53

Katherine 01.16.14 at 11:08 am

So if you have claims on a certain inherently sexist title, you can’t have the title but leave down the sexism.

Nonsense. It’s been done in recent history. The monarchy of the UK used to go direct male heir first, then to direct female heir. Now it’s just direct heir, male or female.

54

Katherine 01.16.14 at 11:09 am

And it was also done in Japan just recently, when it looked like there wouldn’t be a male heir to be Emperor, and the law simply did not allow a woman to inherit at all. Now it does. Simple.

55

Pete 01.16.14 at 11:11 am

@Hector: if the CofE were disestablished, it would cease to be the Church of England; the bishops would have to leave the House of Lords, the church’s role in coronations and state events would have to be disentangled. It would cease to be part of the establishment, cease being the conservative party at prayer. It would be just a place a decreasing number of people go on a Sunday morning.

Like the heiress in the title, being part of the establishment and having the right name is the important thing.

56

Katherine 01.16.14 at 11:11 am

And in the first quarter of this century (and previously) there was a specific type of land title (Fee Tail – yes really) which only allowed a man to inherit land (the source of the problem in Pride and Prejudice). The Law of Property Act 1925 abolished it. Also simple.

57

Collin Street 01.16.14 at 11:12 am

I saw a show which claimed (IIRC) that due to some miscarriage of justice during the Wars of the Roses the true king of England is a retired agronomist in Deniliquin (rural Australia). He’s officially a duke or similar, I think.

The one on the tv died; his son, the fifteenth earl of loudoun, has a twitter account.
https://twitter.com/AbneyHastings

But as a collingwood supporter he’s barred from the line of succession.

58

Haftime 01.16.14 at 11:33 am

Sorry Katherine, missed your middle post. I still think your simple law should get rid of the shower rather than accommodate them.

59

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 11:36 am

@Katherine
Yes, but those changes in the title’s definition were effected on a basis of pratical utility, not on a basis of equality among sexes.

The problem is that LLC uses “equality among sexes” as a rationale to change the title, because this inequality is supposed to be unjust; but the same logic that says that people should not be discrimated because of their sex also says that people should not be discriminated because of their birth (of wich sex is a subpart), so the rationale for the claim implicitly undermines the claim itself.

If the rationale for the claim was “giving women title equality is good for tourism”, this wouldn’t create the same logical short-circuit.
I think that this is the point of the OP, the repurposing of some bits of “progressive-thinking” out of contest in ways that are actually self contradictory if you put them in contest.

60

bob mcmanus 01.16.14 at 11:42 am

FFS, sexism is sexism. You might as well say that women in the west can’t complain about sexism because women in have it worse.

No it isn’t. Some instances of sexism are worse, or more important, or more damaging to individuals, or more deserving of attention than other instances.

Women getting burned alive in a sweat-shop in Bangladesh; or a 14 yr old child bride bleeding to death on her wedding night in Yemen; etc have greater claims on my attention and resources and empathy than Lady Liza Campbell or some wanting a board position on a Fortune 500 corporation.

You can complain; I can ignore you.

The step Katherine makes, probably the recognition step, is pretty interesting. Any particular instance must be generalized to a cosmic rule, then individuated back to her particular claim. Yemen child-bride = Sexism = Lady Liza Campbell. Just the totalitization and meta-narrative feminists supposedly resist, unless it makes them richer.

61

bob mcmanus 01.16.14 at 11:52 am

And even some instances of sexism against upper-class women are important to me, like rape, precisely because they are problems affecting all women. Even some inheritance rights could be important, Japanese farmland is overwhelmingly worked by women and owned by men, because of family law and tradition.

My problem is the insistence on the totality of sexism and the meta-narrative used to make claims of rights or privilege for particular people or groups.

I insist that I be allowed to make distinctions between instances of oppression without being considered wicked or sexist.

62

bob mcmanus 01.16.14 at 12:04 pm

Sorry for three in a row.

The sexism of Japanese farmland inheritance is more important to me than Lady Liza Campbell, even though both are about patriarchy and inheritance of property, precisely because the Japanese instance also touches, or involves more evidently, the issue of redistribution in addition to recognition.

When you can show me that your complaint about recognition will also increase economic justice rather than decreasing it, I listen more attentively.

Sorry Robin.

63

Manta 01.16.14 at 12:47 pm

Corey and Random Lurker @3:

“the battle against sexism or racism is based on the idea that nobody should have privileges because of his birth,”

I suppose you would have nothing against preventing women from inheriting?
After all, getting rich because your parents are is a very large privilege.

On the other hand, what Bob@5 says is also cogent: should we care or not about sex/race/etc inequality among the members of the upper class? If so, why?

64

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 12:58 pm

@Manta 63
I have in fact nothing against preventing women from inheriting, I have a lot against inherited privilege in general.

The problem is that if you say that “also women have the right to inherit aristocratic privilege”, you imply that inheriting aristocratic privilege is OK.

65

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 1:01 pm

Sorry, “I have nothing against preventing…” should read “I have nothing against women inheriting”.

66

hix 01.16.14 at 2:00 pm

Male only inheritance in this sectarian “nobeleman” circles can get very ugly, up to the point where the women can be removed far from any privilege. In a worst case szenario, a stay at home widow with no job record or own social security claims will get no inheritance at all. Some distant male relative who got the inheritance will then send her some monthly money, often not much. If she breaks out of the system, e.g. by declaring welfare or working an “inapropiate” job she then faces complete social exclusion. I dont even know they do it here in Germany, since our inheritance law requires at least to give every child some mandatory minium.

67

Collin Street 01.16.14 at 2:12 pm

The problem is that if you say that “also women have the right to inherit aristocratic privilege”, you imply that inheriting aristocratic privilege is OK.

There’s an interesting interaction here with “abeyance”, where the daughters of a sonless holder of certain noble titles share equally in the inheritance. If there’d been multiple sons, the first one would inherit the lot, but there’s no age discrimination among daughters. The effect here is that if multiple people hold equal shares of a title, noone actually holds the title, only bits of it, so it’s basically suspended.

Introducing a measure where the firstborn girl inherits the lot would introduce age discrimination where none previously exists, though. Hrm.

[this is only a small fraction of titles, I understand]

68

Katherine 01.16.14 at 2:18 pm

The problem is that if you say that “also women have the right to inherit aristocratic privilege”, you imply that inheriting aristocratic privilege is OK.

No you don’t. And you especially don’t when you explicitly say at the same time that the aristocratic privilege is not okay, and you think it should abolished.

69

Katherine 01.16.14 at 2:18 pm

Yes, but those changes in the title’s definition were effected on a basis of pratical utility, not on a basis of equality among sexes.

Not true. The change to the rules for the UK crown were very definitely on the basis of equality among the sexes.

70

Salem 01.16.14 at 2:20 pm

“the battle against sexism or racism is based on the idea that nobody should have privileges because of his birth,”

I don’t think that’s necessarily true. At least, it’s a very partisan way of framing that issue.

A person might be against sexism/racism/etc for the (egalitarian) reasons you give – “male privilege”, “white privilege”, etc are unearned advantages that no-one should benefit from. But a person might equally be against sexism/racism/etc for almost opposite (meritocratic) reasons – in point of fact, being white/male/etc doesn’t make you any better at X, so we shouldn’t favour whites/men/whatever for job X. In reality people may have overlapping beliefs, of course.

Compare, then attitudes to a field where some allegedly “privileged” group may genuinely have an advantage. Egalitarians would say something like “In an ideal world, firefighters would be 50% men and 50% women, but men are stronger so as a concession to reality we accept there will likely be more men than women, but for reasons of fairness we should do our best to encourage the fire department to make that gender gap as small as possible, and/or rectify it in other ways.” Meritocrats would say “In an ideal world, firefighters would be the people best at fighting fires, and if that’s mostly men, there’s nothing wrong with that. Your efforts to ‘reduce the gender gap’ are in fact (1) unfair and (2) likely to get me burned to death.”

The egalitarian argument for a gender-blind aristocracy doesn’t make much sense, except as an incremental move to full destruction of “privilege”. But the meritocratic one does. In the past, nobles were expected to lead troops into battle, etc, so it made sense that the Duke of Hoojumaflip had to be a man. Nowadays, the daughter of the Duke can be just as good a noble as the son, so why bar her inheritance?

71

Katherine 01.16.14 at 2:22 pm

Some instances of sexism are worse, or more important, or more damaging to individuals, or more deserving of attention than other instances.

Yes, of course they bloody are. The point is that just because some are more terrible than others doesn’t mean that complaints about Sexism A shouldn’t be swept away just because Sexism B is worse. That way, no sexism ever gets dealt with at all.

And it is of course possibly to complain/do something/bring a court case about more than one thing at once.

72

Manta 01.16.14 at 2:24 pm

Random, I don’t understand: do you oppose or not laws/customs preventing women from inheriting nobility titles? Estates? Privileges?

Do you (at least theoretically) agree with the lady in the OP that cannot get her nobility title, or, like apparently Robin, mock her?

My point of view is: since her plight does not touch me either as a possible victim or a possible beneficiary (i.e.: either way I will not get a nobility title), I feel free to mock her; a different standard would apply if I were one of the potential noble-people.
Similarly, my take to Katherine @42 is that women in the west can complain about sexism and men in the west should take their complain seriously; but people in the third world have no moral obligation to give a fig about it.

73

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 2:25 pm

@Katherine
Well if you use my formulation “also women have the right…”, you are necessariously implying that there is a group of people who have this right, among wich there are at least some women.

I understand that this is not at all your position, but I think your position is somewhat contradictory: how can someone have a right to something that should be abolished?

74

Katherine 01.16.14 at 2:26 pm

The egalitarian argument for a gender-blind aristocracy doesn’t make much sense, except as an incremental move to full destruction of “privilege”.

Just because someone has class privilege, doesn’t mean one isn’t affected by gender privilege. Just as black men can complain about racism, even though they benefit from gender privilege because they are men. Just as white working class men can complain about class privilege even though they are white and male.

Heck yes, I’d like to see the full destruction of unearned privilege. Whilst it exists, it would be better rather than worse if the aristocracy doesn’t also bolster gender privilege.

75

Z 01.16.14 at 2:27 pm

Am I right to believe that freedom of will is the norm under current UK law? That is to say, a will can stipulate anything? If so, then I don’t see this situation as sexism per se: some things (say estates) are transmitted according to some rules. Sucks when you are on the loosing side of these rules, I agree, but too bad for you; any injustice has been declared fair game by definition. That said, I am (in particular for this reason) personally viscerally in favor of some forced heirship system.

76

Katherine 01.16.14 at 2:27 pm

Similarly, my take to Katherine @42 is that women in the west can complain about sexism and men in the west should take their complain seriously; but people in the third world have no moral obligation to give a fig about it.

Yes, and…? Is anyone suggesting that people in the third world should give a fig about this particular case. Was anyone even so much as giving it a sideways glance until Robin showed up to laugh snidely?

77

Manta 01.16.14 at 2:34 pm

katherine @76:
Mine was a similitude:
Her ladyship :: us = us :: third word people.

I was asking about us (as in “us commoners”): should we give a fig about the injustice suffered by the lady? Or can we mock her?

You yourself said “This is exactly the type of nonsensical shite used to shut women up everywhere. It’s unworthy of you Cory. There’s always someone worse off, somewhere.”

78

Z 01.16.14 at 2:36 pm

Random, I don’t understand: do you oppose or not laws/customs preventing women from inheriting nobility titles? Estates? Privileges?

Actually, I recommend reading the NYT article on the topic; it’s an eye-opener. Based on its reading, I can answer easily this question. I oppose laws/customs etc. preventing women from inheriting X, because I favor forced heirship of X (or no heirship of X at all). Now what is the position of the instigators of the online petition to suppress discrimination based on gender? According to the NYT:

Interestingly, no one is campaigning to take the matter even further by, say, requiring that estates be divided among all the children and not left to just one.

So exactly as Corey Robin writes, they seem to want exactly the amount of equality before the law that suits their class interest, and not an inch more. Not my side.

79

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 2:37 pm

@Manta
Sorry, I’ll try to explain it this way:
There are some things, like aristocratic privilege, that simply should not be inherited by anyone; this in my opinion means that I can’t put up a fight to make a particular group able to take advantage of this injustice because another particular group can.

I have nothing against women or men inherithing stuff from their parents, because this has a big emotional meaning, but I dislike the fact that this can create huge inequalities; this should be dealt with through other means such as high inheritance taxes, and more property taxes.

80

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 2:41 pm

Meredith,

I’m agnostic about women priests and can certainly see arguments both ways , but it is by no means a clear cut issue. I’d prefer we did the safe thing and for now, kept the all male priesthood. But unquestionably, I don’t want those who have no stake in the Christian Faith one way or another, and don’t understand the issues at stake, to be blithely pressuring the church to have women priests, or women bishops.

81

Diego B 01.16.14 at 2:42 pm

If an aristocrat is worried that their daughter won’t be able to inherit the family’s country house or whatever, can’t they just abolish the title?* If they can, the solution to their problem is quite simple : since they like so much the commoners’ inheritance laws, they should just become commoners.

*This isn’t a rhetorical question, I’m genuinely curious. Can you just decide you’re not noble anymore? After filling some kind of paperwork, maybe?

82

TM 01.16.14 at 2:44 pm

“This noblewoman of the OP instead is ok with birth privileges, she just wants a larger chunk of it for herself.”

I’m not up to date on the privileges of the British nobility, what are they nowadays? Is it just about the title? Inheritance of loot is obviously involved but that is not in itself an aristocratic privilege. When the argument is that inheritance per se is a privilege that should be abolished, then I’d have to say that this may be true (and not gonna happen any time soon) but it would still be the right thing to oppose a sexist inheritance system specifically for its sexism.

And also, yes one can be anti-religion and still think that sexist churches or religions are worse than non-sexist ones.

83

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 2:45 pm

Salem,

As regards fireman, other jobs, and women’s issues in general I am absolutely a meritocrat, not an egalitarian.

But I don’t think the meritocratic argument for equal inheritance works here, because the nobility is not supposed to be a meritocratic institution any more than an egalitarian one.

84

Katherine 01.16.14 at 2:45 pm

I was asking about us (as in “us commoners”): should we give a fig about the injustice suffered by the lady? Or can we mock her?

It is just possible not to give a fig about this lady but not also feel the need to mock her, you know. There’s plenty to mock about the aristocracy, but cheering on the fact that men get titles but women don’t isn’t my idea of fun.

85

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 2:46 pm

Z,

What’s forced heir ship?

86

Manta 01.16.14 at 2:49 pm

Katherine, I don’t care about your idea of fun or your needs.
I was asking as a matter of moral obligation: you seemed to claim that mocking her is immoral, but don’t explain why.

87

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 2:49 pm

Katherine,

I’ll mock whoever I please. For example, I’m quite happy to mock atheists who think Christian churches should choose their priesthood according to the fads and fashions of the time, rather than according to scripture, tradition and reason.

88

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 2:50 pm

@Salem
I honestly think that my “anti-birth-right” position is a meritocratic one, not an egalitarian one; I think that “equality of rights” and “meritocracy” are more or less the same thing, so I really don’t get your argument.

In fact I think that the argument “female firefighters are on average less efficient than male firefighters, but we should have more of them because equality so that more of them will die while firefighting” is rather stupid. The correct way would be to have an umbiased firefighting exam where the more skilled in fighting fires should win, and if this unbiasedly produces more male firefighters so be it.

Also, I think that your meritocratic argument for (past) male nobes is wrong, because while nobles mostly prided themselves of being the “warrior caste”, in reality they mostly were the “landowning caste”, wich doesn’t require being male.
The “defender of the homeland” was mostly PR, IMHO.

89

Z 01.16.14 at 2:55 pm

Hector St Clare,
When person X dies, what she owns (ore more reasonably a minimal fraction thereof) is passed in a fixed predictable way to some fixed predictable people, whether X wanted it or not. It is the overwhelming norm in inheritance law in the world, I believe, but not in England. When such a system in in force, one can discuss if these fixed modalities are just, unjust, sexist, etc. When no such system exists, it seems to me that every conceivable injustice is part of the parcel.

90

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 2:57 pm

“I’d prefer we did the safe thing and for now, kept the all male priesthood.”

Yes we can’t have all those dangerous women priest wandering around causing car accidents and natural disasters. Much too unsafe.

91

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 2:59 pm

“Katherine, I don’t care about your idea of fun or your needs.”

Chirst, what an asshole.

92

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 2:59 pm

Z,

So your forced heir ship would forbid people from saying ‘f*ck my sons’ and leaving their money to the Catholic Church? That doesn’t seem to be particularly respectful of personal freedom.

I’m all for high estate taxes, but I should be able to disinherit whoever the hell I choose.

93

TM 01.16.14 at 3:03 pm

The Spanish case (#44) is interesting but the committee actually took the opposite view of the OP. They say it’s not discrimination because there is no privilege – a title of nobility is just a meaningless piece of folklore ( ‘of a purely symbolic and honorific nature, devoid of any legal or material effect’). As if symbolic acts had no relevance. Let say a state decrees that streets can only be named after men. Purely symbolic, devoid of any material effect.

94

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 3:05 pm

TM,

As long as there’s no money attached , I agree that honorific titles can be inherited whichever way one chooses.

95

jake the snake 01.16.14 at 3:10 pm

We can attribute at least some of the economic success of the jewelry industry to arbitrary inheritance laws. Because, for centuries, women could not own or inherit property of value (land, houses, etc.) other than personal property such as jewelry,
jewelry became a source of security for women. Thus, engagement and wedding rings,
family jewels, and suchlike. (Diamonds are/were a girl’s best friend indeed.)

96

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 3:16 pm

@TM 82
“And also, yes one can be anti-religion and still think that sexist churches or religions are worse than non-sexist ones.”

While I agree with this, the problem is if you can ethically enforce (or try to enforce through political action) non-sexist beliefs on people whose belief you don’t share, expecially since those people are free to opt out from their religion.

97

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 3:19 pm

The more I think about forced heir ship, the more it infuriates me .

Inheritance is unfair by definition. If you want to be fair, then have estate taxes of 100% starting at a cutoff of $0. We make concessions away from the ideal of fairness to respect personal freedom, and that’s the whole reason we allow some right of inheritance. given that, you should be able to leave the after-tax portion of your estate to your wife, your mistress, your son, your daughter, your best friend, the Roman Catholic Church, Raul Castro’s personal slush fund, Steve Sailer’s blog, or whoever the hell you want.

98

Niall McAuley 01.16.14 at 3:28 pm

Hector writes: I should be able to disinherit whoever the hell I choose.

Depending on your jurisdiction, there may already be legal limits on the amount of disinheritage you can choose to apply to close family and dependents.

99

hix 01.16.14 at 3:33 pm

“Why, why when injustices are ranked, is sexism always deemed the least”

Quite the contrary. It is almost everything else that is ignored or even considered a bonus. Female discrimination has no legitimacy whatsoever. But you sure can keep your job deciding who gets a stipendia when you think its alright to asign most to rich kids because those must have better genes.

Von Gutenberg got Ph.D. admission and an A for cheating with an E in his final and no bar exam (crude translation into anglo saxon system). Class privileged is not just alive, its getting stronger. Male priviledge, not so much. Say welcome to the new world, with Chancelor von der Leyen, another noble from the richest 300 families in Germany and a very disgusting person. But hey, shes female, progress! So why bother this is an all time high in political elite selection through inheritance.

100

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 3:36 pm

@Hector
“We make concessions away from the ideal of fairness to respect personal freedom”

Well this might be the “socialist” view of it, but I don’t think this is an official view.
I personally think that a parent has not a right to disinherit his descendants.

Also forced heirship generally covers just a share of the inheritance.

101

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 3:39 pm

Re: Depending on your jurisdiction, there may already be legal limits on the amount of disinheritage you can choose to apply to close family and dependents.

I live in America, Niall. And in a civilized state, not Louisiana.

Re: I personally think that a parent has not a right to disinherit his descendants.

I don’t really care what you think, but why? Incidentally, it seems to me that by *requiring* people to leave stuff to their descendants, instead of to the public weal, you’re *institutionalizing* hereditary privilege in a way that saying ‘people can just do whatever’ isn’t.

102

Belle Waring 01.16.14 at 3:40 pm

mcmanus: are you really pulling this reverse Dawkins/Muslima jack move? Really? (The rest of y’all too, you’d best pretend I’m a reasonable person like Katherine and agree with what she says, else I may come over all furious of a sudden. You know how women are. I’m having my period right now. Yes, blood is just seeping out of my body this very moment, with hideous clotted flesh in it, and this is surely affecting my ability to be civil to people. This is easily seen from the fact that at all other times of the month I am the least argumentat–what was that? Oh.) The undiscerning or inexperienced reader may think, “oh, it’s mcmanus, who lives under a bridge and waits for the tippy tapp tap of commenters walking across to shout demands. I bet we’re going straight to no woman in any Western society ever can complain about any injustice ever until the practice of FGM is eliminated. Or maybe until western men on business trips stop raping children at brothels in Phnom Penh?” Yeah, you think that, precious little n00b. No. No one can complain about obviously, patently ridiculously sexist inheritance laws in a Western country because we have to care more about obviously, patently, ridiculously sexist inheritance laws as they apply to Japanese motherfucking farmland, about which we will–as it chances to be in this case, and as it chances to be every time, by chance, purely as the result of a chain of events arising from quite random and different causes in each case–not hear even a single tantalizing detail, not even a sprig of curly, tasteless, parsley fact to adorn the sparse plate of “not-caring about sexist laws in countries which are either richer than Chad or not Japan” that mcmanus is serving. Perhaps if we had enough facts it could be an um…what are those…shiso leaf!

But, not-mcmanus people of Crooked Timber, it’s pretty simple. It’s stupid to have aristocratic titles. If the aristocrats have special powers denied to other citizens then that’s unjust rather than stupid. If there is an actual law, across the land, that the stupid titles, though not unjust in and of themselves, be allotted only to one group of citizens and never another, then that’s unjust as well as stupid. What would we all be saying if there were a rule that black people couldn’t inherit titles of nobility? “Sorry. That Duke married a black woman, so his eldest son–and indeed all his sons–are ineligible to become the next Duke. It will have to be his racist half-wit nephew. The law’s the law!” Would we all be sitting here saying, “well, sure it’s racist, but we really ought to abolish the aristocracy,” or would we be saying, “what a shameful, stupid, racist law!” Hmmmm?

It was my impression that Antonia’s grandparents very much wanted her and her sisters to be able to stay, but after her father’s death they all got shoved out the door just the same, cast out of the garden, now only able to look at photographs of the vast central hub of their childhoods and pretty much all their adult lives, all the woods, and silly hiding places inside the house where other children had carved their names hundreds of years ago. There is no angel with a flaming sword at the gates, but rather a snidely triumphant cousin, poorer than they all his life, now that I come to think of it, but only in the sense that he did not have nearly so nice a country estate. It wasn’t as if he had been selling his teeth one by one until then. Not nearly so nice a country estate. Not by half! LOL no, really, this place was spectacular. I imagine he is rather pleased with the whole affair. I think they even have a little thingy on an island in the pond, like a pretend temple or something. I should have gone to stay sooner.

103

bob mcmanus 01.16.14 at 3:40 pm

And it is of course possibly to complain/do something/bring a court case about more than one thing at once.

Not really, or at least not all deserving cases equally. Dockets are crowded, lawyers are expensive, discourse space and time are limited, the effective defense of human rights is not infinite, empathy and emotional energy can get exhausted.

Triage and prioritization are necessary. What people prioritize (or that they claim they don’t have to) can be quite revealing, and is one of our primary sources for empathy and affiliation. Or not.

104

bianca steele 01.16.14 at 3:40 pm

Belle, how can you worry about houses when Hector may have to treat gay people in his congregation with respect?

105

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 3:41 pm

Re: if you can ethically enforce (or try to enforce through political action) non-sexist beliefs on people whose belief you don’t share, expecially since those people are free to opt out from their religion.

I don’t see what’s ‘ethical’ about demanding that Christian churches ordain women. And I’m horrified at the prospect of Katherine, TM and MPA Victoria trying to impose their whims on the church through political action.

106

TM 01.16.14 at 3:43 pm

Lurker 96: You are really asking whether I can publicly denounce sexist practices in an organization that I am not a member of. Yes of course I can.

107

Yods 01.16.14 at 3:45 pm

Re Hector

It is absurdly disingenuous to pretend that only people outside the church care about sexism and homophobia in the church.

108

TM 01.16.14 at 3:48 pm

Hector, your horror is my satisfaction. You made my day. Apart from that: I don’t care what you think, either.

109

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 3:55 pm

Yods,

Gay people are simply incapable of embodying some of the goods that Christian marriage is supposed to be about (procreation, and distinct gender rolles). That is not homophobia, it’s just a fact. In the eyes of God, a man cannot marry another man, any more that I can marry a plant.

I’m fine with the state letting gay people marry- what the state means, and what God means by marriage are too different things.

110

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 3:56 pm

“And I’m horrified at the prospect of Katherine, TM and MPA Victoria trying to impose their whims on the church through political action.”

Awww Hector. I horrify you? I really am a lovely person.
/Bats eyelashes.

111

Yods 01.16.14 at 3:56 pm

Hector, you will find that a great many Christian people disagree with you.

112

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 3:56 pm

MPA Victoria,

Do you believe in freedom of religion, or not? Never mind, I can guess the answer and it already makes me more frightened.

113

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 3:56 pm

“Not really, or at least not all deserving cases equally. Dockets are crowded, lawyers are expensive, discourse space and time are limited, the effective defense of human rights is not infinite, empathy and emotional energy can get exhausted.

Triage and prioritization are necessary. What people prioritize (or that they claim they don’t have to) can be quite revealing, and is one of our primary sources for empathy and affiliation. Or not.”

Okay so maybe YOU can only worry about one issue at a time. The rest of us can contain multitudes.

114

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 3:57 pm

@Hector
well, because I think that parents have a duty to care equally about their childs. Since it is a duty, they can’t discharge it even after death.
And about “*institutionalizing* hereditary privilege”, the problem comes from the fact that different families pass very different amounts of heredity to their descendants; this should be dealt to with measures that diminish inequality among families in general. As I said before, I don’t think abolishing inheritance is a good idea.

@Belle Waring
I don’t understand why you think that “titles” are less bad than racism or sexism – or rather, I understand that you mean that they are bad but not as relevant because their impact is minimal.

But if their impact is really minimal, either the Lady in question has no real claim to make (the spanish case as I understand) or if there is also a substantial economic interest some sort of “forced heirship” should prevail on the title, and split the property equally amongst heirs, or even the father should have the right to give the stuff to whomever he wants as inheritance if you prefer.

[hides in fear of retaliation]

115

TM 01.16.14 at 4:00 pm

Lurker and Corey, I would like to hear your privilege argument in detail. What do you think is the correct position on discriminatory inheritance rules?
a) abolish inheritance altogether
b) abolish only aristocratic inheritance, because it is based on privilege (and others are not?)
c) abolish state-enforced discrimination but let the bequeather decide arbitrarily
d) abolish state-enforced discrimination and limit bequeather’s arbitrariness
e) let’s talk about class privilege in the abstract
f) I can mock whoever I want and I don’t care that you think I’m a jerk.

116

Manta 01.16.14 at 4:00 pm

Belle:
why should we care about “injustices” that:
befall people that are anyhow quite more privileged than us
and do not affect us one way or another?

At least her ladyship provides some entertainment.

117

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 4:00 pm

“Do you believe in freedom of religion, or not?”
Of course I do. I also believe in the health benefits of exercise but, to grab one example, I would not want to be forced into recreating the Bataan Death March. Like most things a balance is needed. If a Church takes government money or benefits than they will have to follow government requirements. Don’t want to allow gay couples to adopt through your government funded adoption agency? Too bad.

118

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:01 pm

Re: well, because I think that parents have a duty to care equally about their childs

When they’re under 18, sure. Not when they’re legal adults. Would your forced heirship end when the kids are 18?

119

bob mcmanus 01.16.14 at 4:02 pm

God I search and search and can’t find Richard Estes’ great formulation, so I will have to wing it.

Neoliberalism is the expropriation, or the colonization, by elites especially minority elites, of the language, discourse, and resources of emancipatory movements as tools for their own status enhancement, privilege, and accumulation (social and political capital as well as economic capital) at the expense of the subaltern and non-elite.

120

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:03 pm

MPA Victoria,

So what tactics would you use to get churches to marry gays, ordain women, and issue position papers defending abortion rights?

121

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 4:04 pm

“So what tactics would you use to get churches to marry gays, ordain women, and issue position papers defending abortion rights?”

If a church takes money from the government there are going to be strings attached. Don’t like it, don’t take the money.

122

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:09 pm

What are examples of taking money from the government?

And do you really want to pressure churches into marrying gays and endorsing abortion rights? This is worse than I thought.

123

TM 01.16.14 at 4:11 pm

hix 99, if German academia is a bastion of aristocratic privilege, that is totally news to me and anybody I am aware of. Pray show us the statistics. What is neither new nor at all controversial is the fact that academic culture, in Germany even more than elsewhere, is strongly male dominated. It’s rather one of the worst examples you could cite for the decline of male privilege.

124

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 4:17 pm

“What are examples of taking money from the government?”

Tax free status for example.

125

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 4:18 pm

“And do you really want to pressure churches into marrying gays and endorsing abortion rights? This is worse than I thought”

Marrying gays and endorsing abortion rights? No.
Discriminating in hiring practices? Yes.

126

Z 01.16.14 at 4:21 pm

Belle, Antonia’s parents got this nice estate because of some rules. If they want the estate, they follow the rules; if they didn’t like the rules, I’m sure they could have said no to the inheritance in the first place and spare their daughter the agony of loosing her childhood home. Personally, I dislike these rules, and even the possibility of formulating them, but I’m not on the side of those who want them corrected only insofar as it favors them (the case discussed by Corey according to the NYT, you tell me if this was the case of your friend).

TM, personally I’m in favor of forced heirship, so in particular in favor of the abolition of all these quirky inheritance laws.

Hector, personally I don’t think that personal freedom extends beyond the grave. By all mean give all your money to the Church while you are alive. Once you’re dead, I believe it is up to the community, so in most cases the state, to manage it, and I think a fraction of it should go to the person in your legal care while you were alive (as a continuation to your obligation), the rest to the community.

127

TM 01.16.14 at 4:23 pm

And hix 99 I agree there is strong economic inequality in the German education system. Just why that should prevent us from addressing the issue of gender discrepancy is a mystery to me. Which is precisely the point you tried to refute:

“Why, why when injustices are ranked, is sexism always deemed the least”?

128

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 4:23 pm

@Hector
“Would your forced heirship end when the kids are 18?”
Actually forced heirship is the law of the land where I live (Italy), so it is not “mine” forced heirship. I think that here forced heirship doesn’t end at 18, though I don’t know for sure.
Also no, I don’t think that all parental duties end at 18 (though a big part does).

@TM 115
Well I can’t speak for CR obviously, but I would basically pick (b).
The point is this: aristocratic inheritance is not based on privilege, it is the legalisation of privilege; the difference between aristocratic inheritance and normal inheritance is like the difference between legalized racism and unofficial racism: the first is much worse than the second.
Now if you can split property inheritance from title inheritance, I think the Lady (or her sister) could make a case for having her part normally, but this is not the case, she is actually asking for the *title* on grounds of egalitarianism (implicit in my opinion in anti-sexism).

129

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:27 pm

Random Lurker,

Remind me not to move to Italy. Out of curiosity, how does your forced heirship idea treat the spouse? I believe that one’s surviving spouse is more worthy of support than one’s adult children.

When your kids get to be 18, you should have the legal right to tell them to f*ck off (sorry for the vulgarity, but I believe it’s warranted).

130

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:29 pm

Re: Discriminating in hiring practices? Yes.

So, you would revoke the tax free status of churches which refuse to ordain women?

I suppose I should expect this: after all, the Lord did tell us we would suffer for witnessing to His truth.

131

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 4:29 pm

@MPAVictoria 125

“Discriminating in hiring practices? Yes.”
The problem is that from the point of view of the believer, appointing someone as a bishop or a priest is not at all an hiring pratice, it is a sacrament. So you are actually asking from the state to meddle with *sacraments* of the Roman Catholic church; I see this as a problem.

132

TM 01.16.14 at 4:30 pm

Thanks at least for clarification Lurker, although I must admit I can’t follow your argument.

133

Z 01.16.14 at 4:35 pm

Hector, regarding the spouse, it depends on many things (say, whether the children of the deceased are his as well). Regarding your children, again you presuppose that your right to treat them the way you want after 18 extends beyond the grave. That is not self-evident, and is in fact considered self-evidently false in a majority of the countries of the world (a very large one, in fact, IIRC).

134

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:36 pm

It appears from a quick google search that US law outside Louisiana does allow you to entirely disinherit your children, but not your spouse. Which at least makes more sense to me than Random Luker’s ideas.

135

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 4:37 pm

@Hector
I checked on Italian wikipedia:
The spouse is also one of the forced heirs, so:
– The spouse always gets the right to use the house up to his/her death (but not necessariously the ownership of it);
– If no sons, the spouse gets at least 1/2 of the patrimony (the rest can be disposed according to the wii of the dead);
– If one son, the spouse gets at least 1/3 and the son at least 1/3;
– If more than one son, the spose gets at least 1/4 and the sons get at least 1/2, divided equally among them.

I have no idea of what happens in case of a divorce, but I suppose the ex-spouse loses his/her rights.

136

TM 01.16.14 at 4:40 pm

“Out of curiosity, how does your forced heirship idea treat the spouse?”

The standard approach is that part – usually 1/2 – of the inheritance is distributed among spouse and children under statutory rules. The other half is distributed as the decedent sees fit. In Germany, the spouse is entitled to at least 1/4 and the children together to at least 1/4. That’s what is called Pflichtteil. I thought that was a rather standard approach.

137

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 4:40 pm

@Hector 134
“Which at least makes more sense to me than Random Luker’s ideas.”

First of all, I never said that one has no duty to his/her spouse, I spoke of childs because I was countering your example, and second, how is this that a parental duty is self evidently less relevant that a spousal duty?

138

TM 01.16.14 at 4:42 pm

Lurker: interesting that daughters aren’t mentioned under Italian inheritance law.

139

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 4:42 pm

“The problem is that from the point of view of the believer, appointing someone as a bishop or a priest is not at all an hiring pratice, it is a sacrament. So you are actually asking from the state to meddle with *sacraments* of the Roman Catholic church; I see this as a problem.”

Eh. Maybe. What about in this case:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/21/seattle-catholic-schools-firing-gay-vice-principal

Anyone else have a problem with this?

140

Ronan(rf) 01.16.14 at 4:45 pm

Bob is taking the pragmatic option again and has decided to commit his time to reforming Japanese inheritance laws, from Texas?
Awesome

141

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:45 pm

Was he sexually active, MPA Victoria? If so, then I have zero problem with it.

If you’re at an institution with a morality clause, and you break it, then expect to get fired.

142

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:47 pm

Re: I thought that was a rather standard approach.

Not in America, thank God.

143

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:53 pm

Re: Regarding your children, again you presuppose that your right to treat them the way you want after 18 extends beyond the grave.

Of course I’m presupposing it, because it is self-evident, at least to me.

144

dn 01.16.14 at 4:57 pm

Hector, what’s your denomination? Episcopalian? (My guess is based on your citation of “scripture, tradition and reason” as authorities.)

145

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 4:57 pm

MPA Victoria: Having read that piece, yes, they did the right thing in firing him. If you choose to blatantly violate Roman Catholic moral teaching, then don’t expect to work in a Catholic school.

146

Manta 01.16.14 at 4:58 pm

Hector, I don’t see why dead people should have any right at all, either morally or for the benefit of society.

147

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 5:05 pm

Because the foreknowledge of what happens with our estate after we die affects how we behave, think, and feel while we’re alive?

In any case, if you don’t think dead people have any rights over their property distribution, and if you don’t buy my argument about how the right to bequeathe as we choose affects us while we’re alive, then the ‘fair’ thing to do is simply nationalize all property of the dead man. The only reason *not* to sieze all the property is because we want to balance fairness to the community against respect for personal sentiments and affections, and if you’re going to do that then you should go all the way and people disinherit whoever they choose.

148

Ronan(rf) 01.16.14 at 5:09 pm

Oh FFS hector, there are plenty of Catholics (male and female) who from within the Church oppose any number of Church policies. One being the hierarchys position on female priests.
So as a non Catholic (although baptised, communed, confirmed etc in that tradition) I would personally, when push came to shove, support that faction over the others – if needed. Personally I think the Church is unreformable so best of to just leave it be, and join a more enlightened branch of Protestantism.
Also your idea that *people outside the Church cant criticise it’s practices* is absolutely absurd considering you spend all your time banging on about feminism.

149

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 5:11 pm

@TM
With “sons” I meant both male and female descendants, maybe this is an english language fail from me, I tought that “son” in english includes the concept of “daughter”.
I think that this is a recent (postwar) developement, but presently italian law makes no distinction between sons and daughters.

Rethinking about the whole “aristocracy privilege is different” thing, I think that the difference is this:
You (and I think most of the pro Lady Liza camp) believe that the title is another par of property, as it is was an old fashonate but important hat, so why shouldn’t this woman inherit that particular hat?
But a title is not at all a property, it is a f***ing legal declaration that you are born superior to other human beings (that’s becaus it is a “feudalism” thing, not a “capitalism” thing). The idea that someone asks for such a declaration on anti-discriminatory grounds is in my opinion completely crazy.

150

Manta 01.16.14 at 5:14 pm

“The only reason *not* to seize all the property is because we want to balance fairness to the community against respect for personal sentiments and affections, and if you’re going to do that then you should go all the way and people disinherit whoever they choose.”

The first part does not imply the second part.
For instance, you may want to respect the personal sentiments and affections of the spouse and the children for the house where they live/lived.

Moreover, society may want to prevent the accumulation of capital among generations favored by allowing “all the inheritance to the first son” customs.
We may agree that forced inheritance is not the best solution, but it’s better than no solution at all.

151

TM 01.16.14 at 5:21 pm

Lurker: “With “sons” I meant both male and female descendants, maybe this is an english language fail from me, I tought that “son” in english includes the concept of “daughter”.”

That’s precious. And so fitting in a thread about sexist inheritance laws.

152

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 5:22 pm

Ronan RF,

If you dissent on the matter of women priests, you’re not being an obedient Catholic, and your opinion means less than the opinion of a particularly ill behaved kindergarten class.

153

Manta 01.16.14 at 5:24 pm

Hector, if there is a truly universal tradition among Catholics of all stripes (liberal, conservative, US, Europe,…) is dissenting with the Church.

154

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 5:24 pm

You can criticize churches for having male-only priests, forbidding gays from marrying, etc.. all you want. The church is under no moral obligation to listen to you, though.

155

dn 01.16.14 at 5:28 pm

“The only reason *not* to seize all the property is because we want to balance fairness to the community against respect for personal sentiments and affections, and if you’re going to do that then you should go all the way and people disinherit whoever they choose.”

The only reason not to have progressive taxation is because we want to balance fairness to the community against respect for personal sentiments and affections, and if you’re going to do that then you should go all the way and abandon your support for any taxation whatsoever.

156

roy belmont 01.16.14 at 5:30 pm

Corey Robin at 6:43 am-
I think the revolution can spare me those few hours…
120+ comments on from your 29 and see, there now, see, that’s what you’ve done with your few hours.
What would have been there otherwise? What discomfiting truth worked slowly to the surface, like a splinter, up through the taut skin and swollen cell membranes of ignorance?
One slight nudge in another direction and…
We cannot know, we will never know.
The mingled injustices of aristocratic inheritance and its gender-chauvinisms make it easy to disregard the humanity of Campbell’s position.
That’s what bugs me.
Ranking that against the verymost ghastly bottom-end of injustice is a profane and diversionary tactic, but elevating Campbell’s relatively comfortable dissatisfaction to piercing immediacy is profane as well I think.
I want insight, not cheap catharsis.
What I already said at the redditor-sex-glurge post (which somebody could make a software thing where you could mash up these vectoring tangents as they blur toward unity and now they’re almost identical headed toward, toward…something) the real inheritance of all of us here is a nightmare of pathology, mostly un-or-mis-diagnosed, treated by its symptoms and never cured.
The language is filled with spells that lock us into patterns of thinking, healthy long-standing traditions have been suborned to serve the very things they evolved to protect us against, and as McManus affirms, that’s the gambit of the neoliberal parasites.
“Oh, you want some liberation yeah? Purple fingers! Pussy Riot! No more chador, no more veils! Condi Rice! Women in Iraq can VOTE!”
Congenital oppression evolves.

157

Billikin 01.16.14 at 5:31 pm

Does the inheritance of a purely symbolic aristocratic title matter?

Well, symbolism matters. Where I grew up there is a street named after President Nixon; where I live now there is one named after Martin Luther King. A street is a street, but yes, it matters how we name them.

So, certainly, let us have the Duke of Nowimbroke be a woman. That would be good symbolically. People for whom dukes have symbolic significance would be affected, and affected for the better. But she has to be the Duke for it to be symbolic. We already have duchesses.

158

dn 01.16.14 at 5:32 pm

“You can criticize churches for having male-only priests, forbidding gays from marrying, etc.. all you want. The church is under no moral obligation to listen to you, though.”

On the contrary; if a Church’s policy is morally wrong, then they have a moral obligation to change it. That’s kind of the point.

159

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 5:36 pm

Re: On the contrary; if a Church’s policy is morally wrong, then they have a moral obligation to change it

That’s a big ‘If’. And I wouldn’t accept that there is anything morally wrong about a church either forbidding gay marriages or forbidding women ‘priests’. Indeed, it would seem much more morally problematic to me to allow them.

160

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 5:38 pm

Re: But she has to be the Duke for it to be symbolic. We already have duchesses.

So now you want to move the field of battle from assaults on Christianity to assaults on the English Language?

161

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 5:39 pm

@TM 151

Sorry, I don’t really get the point.
Do you mean that I show some sexism because I don’t care about daughters?
If this is what you mean, then I’m quite sure that this is not the problem, and that mine was just a problem of bad english.

In italian, we use the same word “figlio” that can be declined in “figlia” when speaking of a woman, but is used in it’s male form when speaking of someone of indefinite sex.
If you back-translate what I wrote in italian, it would clearly refer both to sons and daughters.

162

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 5:41 pm

Re: but is used in it’s male form when speaking of someone of indefinite sex.

We used to do that in the English Bible (e.g. ‘Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly”), but I seem to recall a big hullaballoo in the 1960s about gender-neutral language.

163

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 5:50 pm

“120+ comments on from your 29 and see, there now, see, that’s what you’ve done with your few hours.
What would have been there otherwise? What discomfiting truth worked slowly to the surface, like a splinter, up through the taut skin and swollen cell membranes of ignorance?
One slight nudge in another direction and…
We cannot know, we will never know.
The mingled injustices of aristocratic inheritance and its gender-chauvinisms make it easy to disregard the humanity of Campbell’s position.
That’s what bugs me.
Ranking that against the verymost ghastly bottom-end of injustice is a profane and diversionary tactic, but elevating Campbell’s relatively comfortable dissatisfaction to piercing immediacy is profane as well I think.
I want insight, not cheap catharsis.
What I already said at the redditor-sex-glurge post (which somebody could make a software thing where you could mash up these vectoring tangents as they blur toward unity and now they’re almost identical headed toward, toward…something) the real inheritance of all of us here is a nightmare of pathology, mostly un-or-mis-diagnosed, treated by its symptoms and never cured.
The language is filled with spells that lock us into patterns of thinking, healthy long-standing traditions have been suborned to serve the very things they evolved to protect us against, and as McManus affirms, that’s the gambit of the neoliberal parasites.
“Oh, you want some liberation yeah? Purple fingers! Pussy Riot! No more chador, no more veils! Condi Rice! Women in Iraq can VOTE!”
Congenital oppression evolves.”

Roy you have officially failed the Turning Test

164

Mao Cheng Ji 01.16.14 at 5:52 pm

Is the British Nobility more like a public institution or like a private club?

If it’s the latter, then they can discriminate anyone they want in any way they like and that is none of your business. Moreover, no one is stopping you and your friends from issuing your own titles, in any manner you choose.

But of course it’s not exactly a private club, because, for example, they have some seats in the House of Lords allocated to them. So, maybe that’s what needs changing: get them out of the public sphere, and let them do whatever they want.

165

Manta 01.16.14 at 5:55 pm

Mao, even after stripping it of any power, I think both the nobles and the public will still think (and, I would say, correctly) that British nobility is a public institution.

166

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 5:56 pm

I agree strongly with Mao Cheng Ji. If I make a title, I should be able to bequeath it to whoever I choose, just as a private club can choose to be male only.

167

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 5:56 pm

@Hector 162
Yes I understand this but in english this applies only to a few word (son/daughter, man/woman) whereas in italian (and I think in most neolatin languages) this applies to all general nouns and to adjectives, so not only we have student/studentess, cat/catess, owner/owneress, we also have black cat/black catess, thrifty owner/thriftyess owneress, wich makes the riconversion to gender-neutral language very hard.

168

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 5:57 pm

“black cat/blackess catess”

169

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 5:57 pm

“MPA Victoria: Having read that piece, yes, they did the right thing in firing him. If you choose to blatantly violate Roman Catholic moral teaching, then don’t expect to work in a Catholic school.”

Pay for your own schools then.

170

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 5:59 pm

I’d say the same of Christian churches being bullied into ordaining women and gays. their club, their rules, none of your business.

171

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 6:01 pm

So you object to morality clauses again?

Is the NAACP under any obligation to hire a race realist to answer their phones?

172

roy belmont 01.16.14 at 6:11 pm

MPAV-
Hey thanks for the re-post entire!?
It might help your ongoing attempts a little if you would pause to consider that bouncing your own perky self off of me in order to be more acceptable to the in-kids here is only going to work if you understand what I’m saying and also why I’m saying it.
That aside, it sure would be/could be fun and exciting if somebody in the Controlling Authority at CT did a post on Turing’s official “pardon”, and the truly central nature – to the net to the current moment to the topic of West.Civ. sex-pathology – of all that that weird sick brings with it, before the timeliness of it slips past. If it hasn’t already.
I don’t think it has. But what do I know.

173

bianca steele 01.16.14 at 6:11 pm

@120
I can’t speak for MPAVictoria, but the one I’ve seen probably will work pretty well: Encourage priests to announce from the pulpit that active longstanding members of the church just got married at a different church and we’re very happy for them, but not notice that they never show up on Sundays anymore.

174

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 6:17 pm

Bianca Steele,

Actually, the churches which marry gays, ‘ordain’ women, etc. are seeing massive hemorrhages in membership. look at what’s happened to the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutherans since they decided to ordain gays, or other mainline Protestant bodies.

175

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 6:21 pm

“It might help your ongoing attempts a little if you would pause to consider that bouncing your own perky self off of me in order to be more acceptable to the in-kids here is only going to work if you understand what I’m saying and also why I’m saying it.”

And what I am trying to get across Roy is that I can’t understand what you are saying.

176

bianca steele 01.16.14 at 6:21 pm

I should add to my @173: Especially when the couple leaving are two out of fewer than a dozen active church members under thirty-five, and even more especially if they’re taking out a decent percentage of the Sunday School with them.

@174: What happened when the Episcopal Church started ordaining women? A lot of Catholics, especially with daughters, became Episcopalians, is one thing that happened.

177

Plume 01.16.14 at 6:22 pm

Hector 171,

In America, we all pay taxes for churches, even those of us who are atheists and never attend, so we get a say in the matter. And, this being a secular society, not a theocracy, religion doesn’t get exemptions. At least they never, ever, ever should.

Unfortunately, due to the spinelessness of our politicians, they oftentimes do, even though it goes against the Constitution.

For instance, the exemption in the ACA. It was wrong and cowardly of Obama and the Dems to cave on the matter.

First off, health insurance is part of a worker’s paycheck. It’s not up to the boss how the worker spends it. Second, the boss doesn’t get to impose his or her religious views on the worker or anyone else. And that’s what happens when they try to control how that paycheck is spent, based upon their own bizarre ideas of what constitutes “morality.” By excluding certain coverage based upon their own reactionary views, they are engaging in authoritarian behavior beyond the usual built-in authoritarianism, and it’s covered in the law.

It also creates an obvious slippery slope for increased discrimination.

178

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 6:23 pm

” So you object to morality clauses again?
Is the NAACP under any obligation to hire a race realist to answer their phones?”

Are you against any anti-discrimination requirements?

179

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 6:26 pm

Bianca,

Actually, the Episcopal Church has a significant net loss in membership after they started ordaining women, many of them to more conservative churches. I don’t know where you are getting your numbers from. I know some Catholics who became Episcopalian too, but anecdotes don’t cut it.

180

dn 01.16.14 at 6:26 pm

“Actually, the churches which marry gays, ‘ordain’ women, etc. are seeing massive hemorrhages in membership. look at what’s happened to the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutherans since they decided to ordain gays, or other mainline Protestant bodies.”

A trend that a) began long before said doctrinal changes happened, and b) has also occurred in the Catholic Church (the long-term decline in the US has only been balanced out by the influx of Latinos).

181

AJ 01.16.14 at 6:28 pm

I think the Indian aristocracy (God bless their souls) were there first. They may have simultaneously claimed both discrimination (on the part of Britain) and aristocratic privileges (i.e., “we wants our kingdom back”). In the future, every aristocrat will have his or her fifteen minutes of fame – by combining some ‘ism’ and aristocratic privilege. Ageism, bias on the basis of physical disability and bias against sexual orientation are all up for grabs – currently, but I am not keeping close track of this. Aristocrats, please feel free to correct me and we will update the record books appropriately.

182

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 6:28 pm

@bianca steele 176

So, problem solved, why should we force the Catholics to have female priests?
People who dislike it can just become Episcopalians.

The magic of the free market strikes again!

183

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 6:30 pm

Random Lurker,

Actually, I’d like the Episcopalians to dump the female priest business and return to their traditional practice. And I’m terrified by the prospect of Episcopalians marrying gays. This is my church, and I don’t want to see it go down the drain.

184

Plume 01.16.14 at 6:30 pm

dn 180,

Very true. To blame the loss in membership on a liberalization of the rules is absurd. And, to me, anyone who leaves a church based upon increased inclusivity is someone I wouldn’t want in the congregation anyway. It’s obvious they’re not picking up on the message of the founder. At all. They must have skipped the Sermon on the Mount.

185

Hector_St_Clare 01.16.14 at 6:32 pm

DN,

Even if you look just at retention rates, Catholics do better than Episcopalians. though of course the bigger demographic problem for the Episcopal Church is that they have a sub replacement birth rate (though it’s still higher than some European countries).

186

Plume 01.16.14 at 6:34 pm

Hector 183,

Seriously, why on earth should you care if there are women priests or that your church would marry gay people?

Why should you care?

On the first, why wouldn’t you welcome the end of discrimination against women in that particular case? On the second, same thing — with the added point that it doesn’t impact you, personally, one iota. It doesn’t ask anything of you, personally.

Don’t want to marry someone of the same sex? Don’t. Simple as that. But why would you want to stand in the way of those who do?

187

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 6:38 pm

“Don’t want to marry someone of the same sex? Don’t. Simple as that. But why would you want to stand in the way of those who do?”

Yes!

188

Plume 01.16.14 at 6:38 pm

Random Lurker 182,

The issue of “force” seems to be misplaced in your comment. That is being done by those churches that “force” and enforce strict discrimination against women.

I love how apologists for religious bigotry so often try to turn the tables on the people calling for an end of discrimination. They suggest it’s those people who are doing the discriminating. Nonsense.

Kind of like the whole “liberty” issue when it came to southern slave “rights.”

189

AB 01.16.14 at 6:41 pm

As for dead people having rights, there’s the Duke of Norfolk’s Case involving both titles and property. I’m not a lawyer and don’t know the ramifications of the titles part, but the case is still of consequence in terms or property.

190

dn 01.16.14 at 6:46 pm

If one wants an actual explanation for the decline in mainline Protestantism, the answer is not that complicated: pluralism. Starting around the 1960s, the children of mainline Protestants simply began to conclude that non-Christianity didn’t condemn anyone to hell. The rest is history.

191

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 6:53 pm

“The taboo against homosexuality is an arbitrary moral disapproval. Homosexuality harms no one. It’s not, it turns out, a morally bad thing at all. It’s just that lots of people and lots of big religions have subscribed to this taboo for so long that it became acceptable to simply deem gayness immoral. What people really mean when they call homosexuality immoral, for the most part, is either that they find it icky or that their religion forbids it—and for no discernable reason, or at least not one that has any capacity to help make life better or worse for people in today’s world, the true basis of morality. Indeed, despite huge recent advancements in tolerance of gay people, homosexuality stands virtually alone as the one thing Americans are comfortable calling “immoral” without ever having to explain why”

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/01/16/gay_marriage_and_morality_the_oklahoma_gay_marriage_ruling.html

192

Plume 01.16.14 at 6:59 pm

dn 190,

It’s actually amazing that Christianity lasted this long. Its completely absurd mix of Greco-Roman mythology with mistranslated Judaism, sans the actual hard practice of “getting right with god,” along with its export to seemingly non-fertile grounds in Europe . . . . all make for a long-shot.

Of course, no Constantine, and it dies on the vine. We might be worshiping Mithras instead.

For those from temperate zones, a religion from the desert should have been a non-starter. Most likely the hook was the promise of “eternal life” which is going to appeal to many, especially when it takes no effort in return, beyond “belief.”

What a deal!!

193

AJ 01.16.14 at 7:01 pm

The one thing we can conclude from this discussion is that both the Episcopal Church and the Catholic Church are deeply immoral.

194

Consumatopia 01.16.14 at 7:10 pm

“retention” is an absurd statistic. If everyone randomly swapped religions with someone else, the biggest religions would have the most “retention”. People don’t randomly swap religions, but a Catholic is more likely to marry another Catholic than an Episcopalian is to marry an Episcopalian.

195

Plume 01.16.14 at 7:11 pm

MPAV 191,

Boiled way down, the moral spectrum runs from kindness to cruelty. “Morality” is kindness. “Immorality” cruelty.

There is nothing “immoral” about being gay. Of course, a gay person can be “immoral” if he or she is cruel. But never simply due to their being gay.

. . . .

And for those who cite the bible, don’t cherry pick. The bible also condemns, calls the following abominations, and issues death penalties for each:

Eating the wrong foods, like shellfish
Wearing the wrong clothes, like two fabrics together
Tilling the soil in a non-orthodox manner
Working on Saturdays
Talking back to parents
If raped in the city, failing to scream out loudly enough

All get the death penalty, according to the god of the bible. Leviticus and Deuteronomy are key places to look for the above.

Of course, simply failing to worship Yahweh is enough to get you blasted to death as well. The ogre god of the bible ordered the slaughter of 3000 Jews for worshiping a golden calf, and he ordered Joshua to slaughter every man, woman and child in Jericho for their failure to bend a knee to his absoluteness.

Why is it that those moral crusaders against gay people conveniently ignore the hundreds of cases of their god calling so many other things abominations?

Onan was blasted to death by his god for simply failing to impregnate his brother’s widow. The god of the bible didn’t like the way he avoided doing so. Hence the origin of the term, onanism.

Seriously, if one looks closely at all the things that piss off the maniacal, vindictive, jealous and petty god of the bible — if they actually take it all literally — they can’t help but dismiss the entire thing as any sort of guide to morality. It’s just too absurd.

196

EWI 01.16.14 at 7:28 pm

Roy Belmont @ #23

But then it seems a little facile to spend critical thought-time on a relative handful of remnant Lords and Ladies when the social tension’s so enormously coming from the moneyed-up side.

Let me introduce you to the Right Honorable Gideon “George” Osborne MP, who will one day become the 18th Baronet Osborne, and all his Tory aristocracy chums.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Osborne

197

js. 01.16.14 at 7:39 pm

While I am in general very sympathetic to the points raised by Katherine, Belle, et al., I think the following, from Z @78, is pretty troubling (first para is a quote from NYT):

Interestingly, no one is campaigning to take the matter even further by, say, requiring that estates be divided among all the children and not left to just one.

So exactly as Corey Robin writes, they seem to want exactly the amount of equality before the law that suits their class interest, and not an inch more. Not my side.

I can and do fully admit the sexism of the relevant inheritance laws, and that it would be better, though still suboptimal, if they were reformed (the optimal solution being abolishing aristocratic titles). Nevertheless, the above does make it pretty hard to support the petitioners’ position.

198

Plume 01.16.14 at 7:46 pm

js 197,

Sounds perfectly fair. Divide it equally. Since no one chooses to be born, and no one “earns” their birth position. It’s all just dumb luck. Why should first-born children of either gender be guaranteed the lion’s share? Or all of it?

Split it all up evenly, without regard to gender, and then tax those estates above a certain amount — more the bigger they are. Several brackets, progressively, etc. The tax being split evenly as well.

199

hix 01.16.14 at 7:46 pm

No effort beyond believe is some American protestant sub-groub interpretation, not mainstream protestant/catholic thaught in the rest of the world. Early christian communities were the first to introduce universal basic welfare. That it would seem to me is a very strong appeal we can still relate to today. The gody/prophet continuity stuff is always rather ridiculous in religions. No special bad place for christians there. Catholicism is particular concerned with continuity. Anything beyond microscopic baby steps that make it look like its always been that way question the direct line to god one true way interpretation. That always riskes to push away the most hardcore believers.

200

Bruce Wilder 01.16.14 at 7:47 pm

Approaching 200 comments! Unbelievable.

Titles of nobility are the subject of litigation in several European countries. The German courts have been asked to intervene in cases in which a potential heir has married “beneath” his class, which is even more remarkable to me than primogeniture, in its antique, anti-egalitarian implications. The Princes of Fürstenberg (yes, the family of the fashion designer), who lost sovereignty in 1806, only a few years ago closed the major public park in the town of Donaueschingen, claiming it as the palace gardens and their personal property, so sometimes it’s about property and power, too — shocking, I know.

I think I like the French solution the best: people just make stuff up; many experts (!?), I understand, believe that more than half of the titles of nobility in social use in France are based on fraudulent claims. I’m not sure why that wouldn’t work in England, too. The lady should just claim to be the Duke, or whatever, and move on. The worst thing that can happen is heated arguments at cocktail parties. Such a strategy is not unlike the evolution of religions of conscience into highly idiosyncratic “spiritual beliefs” in the U.S.; every woman her own theologian! Why not?

201

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 7:47 pm

“Split it all up evenly, without regard to gender, and then tax those estates above a certain amount — more the bigger they are. Several brackets, progressively, etc. The tax being split evenly as well.”

This seems fair to me.

202

bianca steele 01.16.14 at 7:52 pm

I agree with Katherine and L2P when it comes to the first part of the OP. On the second part, that it’s ironic, presumably, that members of the aristocracy are proposing to submit themselves to the justice of the international courts, Corey has a point, if the point is that they’re illustrating the decreased power of aristocracy and the absurdity of defending aristocracy while submitting to extranational courts. (If the point is that they shouldn’t be allowed to petition to the courts because they are supposed to be opposed to international courts on principle, or because courts should defend poor people and not the rich, which could be read into the OP if it were read quickly, but which I think is probably not what Corey meant–though what do I know–then what Katherine and L2P say is very relevant.)

203

bianca steele 01.16.14 at 7:54 pm

Tho I think the analogy to The Reactionary Mind would be better if it were men asking for gender equity. That part of the OP puzzled me.

204

Plume 01.16.14 at 7:55 pm

Ms. Waring’s story above (21) reminded of a wonderful movie, Summer Hours, directed by Olivier Assayas.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0836700/

From the blurb on above site:

Two brothers and a sister witness the disappearance of their childhood memories when they must relinquish the family belongings to ensure their deceased mother’s succession

The family in question isn’t “aristocratic.” Upper class, most likely. But the home is beautiful and it’s sad to think of the loss to that family of memories, touchstones, the stability that a home can bring. The gathering place for memories and love, etc.

A really great film.

205

Plume 01.16.14 at 8:04 pm

I have a soft spot for homes. Actual homes, as opposed to houses.

In my egalitarian hoped-for world, the home exists outside the commons. The commons is everywhere else. The means of production are owned by the people, in common, equally. Not by political parties, representatives, juntas, dictators. All the people, literally, legally. Equally. But one’s home is free-space, private.

To me, there should always be a place to go where nothing follows you. Whether in a capitalist system, or in that egalitarian utopia. Everyone needs this. Everyone needs a space of safety from the outside world. A place to gather one’s energies and concentrate love, memory, dreams.

Businesses should be held in common, for the common good. Homes? Our little castles.

206

Antialias 01.16.14 at 8:13 pm

I do find it extremely infuriating that atheists have an opinion on women bishops, which is really none of there business, but whatever.

I do find it extremely infuriating that bishops have an opinion on abortion, which is really none of their business, but whatever.

207

Plume 01.16.14 at 8:21 pm

But it is our business. All of us, including those of us who are atheists, pay taxes to support churches and religious establishments. We pay so they don’t have to, which is wrong right off the bat. We pay for their infrastructure, property protection, courts, etc. etc. They don’t pay a dime in taxes to support the public goods and services they receive.

On our dime. Yes, we have a say, if for no other reason than that. The other being that this is supposed to be a democracy, not a theocracy. Religious organizations are under that umbrella. They shouldn’t get exemptions from our laws, etc.

208

dn 01.16.14 at 8:32 pm

Plume @192 –

You know, a lot of what you’re describing there is a caricature of what pre-Constantine Christianity was really like; the evidence from 2nd/3rd/4th century sources suggests that the whole “faith alone” thing which we associate with “born-again” religion today was actually not characteristic of most early Christianity at all (an interpretation also supported by New Testament writings such as the epistle of James and certain gospel passages). Heavy consequences for wrongdoing are well-attested; long excommunications were apparently not uncommon, and various sources describe the early practice of reconcilation for serious sins (adultery, idolatry, murder, sometimes other crimes) as something which could only be done once in a lifetime, generally involving a years-long period of penitential humiliation and asceticism – public confession, fasting and sleep deprivation, sackcloth and ashes, being forced to wait outside the church door, etc. The watering-down of penance was a centuries-long process that lasted well into the middle ages.

209

Laurens Dorsey 01.16.14 at 8:41 pm

@Plume 205

To me, there should always be a place to go where nothing follows you

(heh) But that is not home. Home is where everyone knows what a gnarly little monster you’ve always been. Some may love you despite that, the rest hold on to the photos for leverage.

Anyway, aristocrats. pfft. But why are shows about the British royal family so popular among PBS viewers?

210

Plume 01.16.14 at 8:48 pm

dn 208,

I’ve read a ton on early Christianity. Geza Vermes, Bart Ehrman, Crossan, Pagels, Armstrong, Rubenstein, Wright, etc.

And while I oversimplified the Pauline revolution, given the brevity of the comment, it’s basically true. Paul and his followers did their best to extend their new version of Judaism to non-Jews. In order to do so, in order to make it more appealing, they had to get rid of most of the requirements of Jewish law. Those requirements were simply deal breakers for “gentiles.” Adhering to food laws, dress codes, farming codes and the like were deal breakers. So Paul emphasized belief in Jesus above all else. Belief. Faith.

Christianity, in fact, is the most “faith-based” faith among all the major religions. It is the least concerned with actual morality in the here and now, for the here and now. Buddhist ethics and morality, for instance, put Christianity to shame.

Now, I’m not saying that certain Christians didn’t develop “Christian ethics” of their own, on their own dime. They did. We have a long history of “social justice” Christianity. But the church proper — the Pauline church — wasn’t established on those grounds. It was established as a breaking away from Jewish law, custom and practice.

211

Plume 01.16.14 at 8:54 pm

Laurens,

Yeah, I’m speaking in ideal terms.

But each of us should have that space. It would improve our psychology immensely.

Personally, I don’t think we were meant to live with others in such close contact. We need space, and then we need social interaction. Space to gather ourselves up again before going back out into it. It. Social interaction. That dynamic.

Though being all inside isn’t so good, either. The contrast, the change is what keeps us fresh, alert, alive. Dare I say happy?

212

nvalvo 01.16.14 at 9:04 pm

This might be a good moment to share my favorite thing, which is the Jacobite succession to the British Crown. http://jacobite.ca/kings/index.htm

It gets seriously hilarious when you scroll down. Modern aristocrats are ridiculous.

213

Mao Cheng Ji 01.16.14 at 9:08 pm

“All of us, including those of us who are atheists, pay taxes to support churches and religious establishments.”

AFAIK, churches (that qualify) are not different from any other non-profit organizations that qualify. You pay for Hectors church, he pays for your favorite non-profit that he may not like. That’s how the system works.

214

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 9:10 pm

“You pay for Hectors church, he pays for your favorite non-profit that he may not like. That’s how the system works.”
Ah yes but my non profit doesn’t claim that it has the right to exclude women from the managing board.

215

MPAVictoria 01.16.14 at 9:19 pm

“This might be a good moment to share my favorite thing, which is the Jacobite succession to the British Crown. http://jacobite.ca/kings/index.htm

It gets seriously hilarious when you scroll down. Modern aristocrats are ridiculous.”

Wow. Thank you for sharing that.

216

clew 01.16.14 at 9:23 pm

Don’t aristocracies (theoretically, once?), though rooted in their sovereign like URIs to their TLD, adhere to common rules of, oho, Christendom, like RFC 2616? And RFC 2616 practically implies the IETF. So perhaps the appeal to the Strasbourg court is not too inconsistent.

I don’t know whether I think making female inheritance* of aristocratic position is a good thing, if we must maintain the aristocratic positions, because I can’t decide what net effect I think it has on injustice among the non-aristocrats.
*(only if no sons? or inheritance by legal children in order of age? or by any provable children? Hybridized aristocratic genes might be the most useful ones!)

Laurens Dorsey, I think Downton Abbey and steampunk are both popular partly because our eyes are bored; most of us can only afford inexpensive mechanical reproductions, most of the time, and are indoors, so we’re starved of visual complexity. Weeding takes more looking-at than an iPod does. Plus also how pleasant to imagine being rich, of course, unless one is rich enough to imagine being poor and virtuous instead.

217

clew 01.16.14 at 9:31 pm

Yes, thanks, nvalvo. (Of course it goes through Savoy, Bavaria and Lichtenstein. Is there a musical?)

218

TM 01.16.14 at 9:43 pm

js. 197, just for the record, what sparked most of the controversy on this thread are not the details of this lady’s claims (which hardly anybody really cares about) but the bold statement from the OP, nailed and refuted right in comment 1:

*“There was a time when the battle against sexism and the battle against the aristocracy were thought to be one and the same.“*

Because most of us who have some acquaintance with the history of “the battle against sexism” know that that battle is not the same as, nor is it to be subsumed under, the fight against aristocracy or capitalism or racism or any other form of oppression or injustice. It’s a battle on its own and has had, and still has, to be fought over and over again on its own, and not rarely against supposedly progressives espousing precisely the view that sexism doesn’t need all that attention because it’s really part of the larger battle, which is actually, when you really think about deeply enough, much more important than sexism, if that even exists, and so on.

And the thread has totally vindicated L2Ps argument and those of Katherine and others later and your quibbles about this or that wrinkle of inheritance law are really just a distraction of what this thread is about and I’m not the least interested in going further down that path. I think everybody here with sense and decency, including Corey, should be able to come out and admit, that asterisked statement was BS, that’s no way of thinking about sexism. Then you can go on and debate how best to go about abolishing aristocracy.

219

dalriata 01.16.14 at 9:49 pm

Katherine @56:

And in the first quarter of this century (and previously) there was a specific type of land title (Fee Tail – yes really) which only allowed a man to inherit land (the source of the problem in Pride and Prejudice). The Law of Property Act 1925 abolished it. Also simple.

Downton Abbey spoiler alert?

220

Plume 01.16.14 at 9:49 pm

MPAV 214,

Very true. And my favorite non-profit doesn’t seek, and doesn’t receive, a religious exemption so it can avoid laws and regs every other institution must adhere to.

We either have anti-discriminatory laws and regs, or we don’t. If we do, then everyone has to adhere to them, as members of this society. No religious exemptions. Period. End of story.

If they seek carve-outs in order to continue such reactionary policies, they need to relocate elsewhere.

221

Laurens Dorsey 01.16.14 at 9:52 pm

@clew 216

Sounds plausible. But I haven’t seen Downton (tho I did catch a couple episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs several eons ago, which I’m told is much the same thing).

Anyway, in the NE — Boston area anyway — PBS regularly plays things like: backstage at Buckingham Palace; history of the kings of England (narrated by one of the current heirs); and I’m blanking. One or two series a year, anyway, dealing with the royals their yachts, palaces, polo ponies, democratic sympathies and general good-heartedness, etc. I had thought most of the loyalists had gone north after the unpleasantness of ’76-’83, but I wonder…

(Wouldn’t it be nice if CT had a righteous response system…? I mean seriously, in a thread of hundreds of comments…)

222

bob mcmanus 01.16.14 at 10:15 pm

218: Feminism has come such a very long way since Sylvia Pankhurst

I couldn’t find much of a quote on the nobility or aristocracy, because foe the most part, like Lenin, feminists used to not even bother with them. There is a correction to the Irish Communist Party platform (not just the estates, everything).

But heck, maybe Emmeline would chain herself to the Buckingham Gates for the rights and privileges of Lady Liza Campbell

Sylvia Pankhurst to Belle Waring/Katherine in 5 generations of heroes of feminism.

Right to the vote to the right to inherit a title as bleeding-edge radicalism.

223

bianca steele 01.16.14 at 10:31 pm

@221
Yes, good old channel 13 style documentaries are kind of thin on the ground in Boston, though you might get one on the occasional Saturday.

224

TM 01.16.14 at 10:34 pm

bob mcmanus, if only the most primitive of strawMAN arguments can save your case, it’s time to abandon it.

225

CJColucci 01.16.14 at 10:44 pm

All hail King Francis!

226

roy belmont 01.16.14 at 10:50 pm

The thing about bishops is they can only move diagonally.
Reputable scholars have said that the Book of Job was written by at least three different (human) hands. One of whom didn’t contribute much to the stark weird poetic strength of the story. More like a monotheistic “Eat at Manny’s – best lunch in town!” kind of co-option deal.
So that the book, and the book it’s in, becomes seeable as itself less a thing than a collection of things, not all of them superstitious horse feces.
-
The inverse of this whole aristo-feministo dust-up might be expressed in the goal-achieved celebrations of the careers of women like Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton. Power hitters of the patriarchy, but women. So victory.

227

LFC 01.16.14 at 10:50 pm

Haven’t read all the comments, but re this passage from the OP:

Speaking of Burke, Campbell’s comment reminded me of that moment in Burke where he drops all talk of little platoons and local tradition and starts insisting that the aristocracy reinvent themselves as “citizens” of Europe. So “sympathetic with the adversity or the happiness of mankind” should counterrevolutionary Britain be, he writes in the Letters on a Regicide Peace, that “nothing in human foreign affairs”—and certainly nothing in the affairs of revolutionary France—would be “foreign to her.” Were the counterrevolution to think of itself in this way, he sighs dreamily, “no citizen of Europe could be altogether an exile in any part of it.” And the aristocracy might just have a fighting chance of preserving itself.

There is what I presume to be a typing error here — “human foreign affairs” in the Burke quote should read “human affairs.”

Substantively it’s an interesting observation and prompts the thought that there were periods when the aristocracy was a sort of transEuropean class in at least some respects. I’ll leave it at that; someone else may want to get more specific.

228

Ronan(rf) 01.16.14 at 10:53 pm

Yes bob, but what was Sylvia Pankhurst doing to stop the Russo-Japanese war?

229

dn 01.16.14 at 10:57 pm

Plume @210 – It’s perfectly fine to argue that Christian ethical thinking is compromised by otherworldliness, apocalypticism, faith in predestination, etc., but to assert without qualification that earliest Christianity was ethically lax or did not demand moral effort is a misreading of the sources; even in the Pauline and pseudo-Pauline corpus there are moral condemnations and exhortations aplenty. To the extent that Paul’s obscure and idiosyncratic thinking in the letters (as we have them) can be understood at all, a denigration of ethics is not a part of it. What evidence we have rather suggests that early Christian ethical practices were varied but generally not lacking in rigor.

230

Bruce Wilder 01.16.14 at 11:04 pm

One of my weirder fascinations concerns the Dukes of Norfolk.

In theory, the title, Duke of Norfolk and the associated hereditary position of Earl Marshal, as well as all the subsidiary titles (there are like 8, I think), save one, descend to “heirs male”. In 1975, the 16th Duke died “without male issue”, as they say, and the title passed to his second cousin, once removed, who became 17th Duke. Which stands as a measure of how far they’re willing to take it. (We’re now on the 18th Duke, the son of the 17th.)

What’s weird is that, historically, they were not that fussy, and inheritance has repeatedly passed through the female line, when it was convenient, which is how the title lasted long enough to emerge as among the oldest in the English peerage.

The title originated with the so-called Bigod Earls of Norfolk. That title and its lands returned to the Crown, and Edward II gave that title and the hereditary position of Earl Marshal to his brother, the third son of Edward I, Thomas of Brotherton. When Thomas of Brotherton died, the titles, Earl of Norfolk and Earl Marshal went to his daughter (!), the formidable Margaret Mowbray, granddaughter of King Edward I. When Richard II made her grandson, Thomas Mowbray (along with Bolingbroke, one of the Lords Appellant Richard didn’t execute) Duke of Norfolk, he made the long-lived Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk in her own right. Thomas Mowbray died in exile, and was supposedly stripped of his title by Richard, but Richard shortly lost out to Bolingbroke, and the Mowbray family held on, until the fourth Duke “died without male issue” as they say, and Edward IV attempted to get the title back by marrying his four-year-old son to the 4th Duke’s three-year-old daughter and heir (!). That didn’t work out as Richard III put that son in the Tower and he was never heard from again. Richard III resolved the inheritance muddle by making his supporter, John Howard, Duke. John Howard was the son of another Margaret Mowbray, this one the eldest daughter of the first Duke, Thomas Mowbray and Elizabeth Fitzalan. (Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I all descended from this couple.)

That first John Howard was promptly killed at the Battle of Bosworth, defending Richard III, beginning a long family struggle to hold on to the title, despite conflict with the monarch, repeated thru the following generations. The son, a Thomas Howard, was wounded on the field at Bosworth, and imprisoned for three years, but rehabilitated by Henry VII, and, after the victory at the Battle of Flodden, was restored to the Dukedom by Henry VIII. His son, another Thomas, served Henry VIII, but, a Catholic conservative, got on the wrong side of the Protestant Reformation and narrowly escaped execution, when Henry VIII died before the sentence was carried out. The fourth Howard duke, still another Thomas, this time, unusually a nominal Protestant, not that it did him any good, married Mary Fitzalan, daughter and heir of the 19th Earl of Arundel. Thomas, executed for treason, in part for scheming to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, lost the title of Duke. But, his son with Mary Fitzalan, Philip Howard, inherited the title of his maternal grandfather, as 20th Earl of Arundel and the Howards took as their seat, Arundel Castle. Philip Howard, who died Elizabeth’s prisoner in the Tower of London, was canonized as a Catholic martyr. The 22nd Earl of Arundel married a Stuart, and his eldest son, though a mental defective confined to an asylum in Padua, was restored to the Dukedom upon petition of most of the House of Lords during the Restoration in 1660, with the understanding that an influential and well-respected younger brother would play the role, and eventually inherit the title, which Henry Howard did.

I’m not sure what my point is, except to note that the legalistic insistence on male primogeniture is apparently rather a late development.

231

Mao Cheng Ji 01.16.14 at 11:05 pm

“We either have anti-discriminatory laws and regs, or we don’t.”

I hear ya, man: live free or die! I hear, they brazenly refuse to ordain Buddhists as Bishops. And some Synagogues (I still can’t believe it!) wouldn’t consider Christians for their vacant Rabbi positions. What a travesty.

232

Plume 01.16.14 at 11:07 pm

dn 229,

I asserted nothing without qualification. My comment was comparative. As in, compared with X religion, etc.

Also, there is the issue of what your interpretation of “ethics” and “morality” happens to be. The meaning of the words. As mentioned before, mine is based, boiled down, on the arc of cruelty to kindness. Kindness and compassion toward all things, etc. being at the top of the heap.

Given the treatment of the early Christian fathers toward one another, I don’t think they make for very good guides. They accused each other of the most vile acts, if one though the other a “heretic.” And the bible we have is the one the winners left us. The losers in the factional disputes were all but written out, and we mostly know them based upon the accusations made against them by the winners.

They had each other assassinated. They had each other thrown in jail and tortured. They started little wars over dissent and differences over doctrine. In one famous case, over the presence or absence of a single letter in an essential word. And when the early church fathers talked about “morality” and “ethics” I find very little in this regarding kindness and compassion. Most of what I see is prudery and a ton of discrimination against women.

Since you are defending them, perhaps you can present an example of their words of wisdom on ethics and morality?

233

Plume 01.16.14 at 11:10 pm

Mao Cheng Ji 231,

Hmmm. So how many times has that “problem” arisen? That a Buddhist was turned down for Bishop? I’m guessing, oh, say, never.

(I’m a lapsed Buddhist meself, and have never bumped into a case of any of us seeking to be a Bishop — lapsed or not)

Same goes for Christians and Rabbis.

Come on, you can do better than that. As in, drawing from the real world.

234

Random Lurker 01.16.14 at 11:14 pm

@Plume
Sorry for the late reply.
I think the point about male only priesthood in Roman Catholicism is that it doesn’t really disadvantage anyone who is not a Roman Catholic (since a woman who is not RC could not become a RC priest anyway) and if you are a Roman Catholic, believing in the RC church interpretation of your religion is part of the deal – if you don’t believe in it, you should not call yourself a RC.

So this is very different from the “slavery is freedom” thing, wich impacted the slaves a lot even if they disagreed.

235

hix 01.16.14 at 11:36 pm

“Substantively it’s an interesting observation and prompts the thought that there were periods when the aristocracy was a sort of transEuropean class in at least some respects. “

Yes of course. The catch is that this was mainly before there was much interaction between people that extended beyond 30 kilometer of their home. A time before national identity. A time where local dialects could be hardly understood some villages further and the aristocracy spoke latin, later French with each other. The modern nation staate required that elites were less detached from their local environment and pushed back on aristocratic power. Willhelm II still thaught England would not attack Germany in WWI due to kiniship. Problem is, he was wrong to think whoever was king/queen of England that time or he himself would have much of a say in that decission.

236

Bruce Wilder 01.16.14 at 11:56 pm

hix @ 235

Willy had a bit more say than was good for Germany or Europe.

237

js. 01.17.14 at 12:43 am

TM @218:

1. The CR bit you quote links to Wollstonecraft, in which context that’s not at all a crazy thing to say. This is of course a minor point, but:

2. In general, I completely agree with you that feminism, or the struggle for women’s equality should not be “subsumed” under other struggles. At the same time, I think it’s quite right, and also important, to note that feminism isn’t and can’t be unrelated to other struggles for social equality (in a given social context). This cuts both ways—a feminism that doesn’t acknowledge how class distinctions affect the differential oppression of women is thereby weaker, a class analysis that doesn’t see how women or other minorities are specifically oppressed is pretty hopeless, etc. So seeing all these struggles as linked is I think quite right.

I’m not sure if you would disagree with any of the above, but:

3. The post is about a particular petition being forwarded by Liza Campbell et al. That’s the actually existing case under discussion. I really don’t see how pointing to the specific demands contained in this petition is a quibble or a distraction. The question, or at least one important question, is precisely to what extent this petition represents a genuine demand for social justice vs. a narrow attempt at a gaining of a differential privelege. I think you have to abstract away from the specifics of the petition to make it a case of the former, and I think that’s a genuine problem.

238

john c. halasz 01.17.14 at 12:51 am

@230:

B.W. , that was a tour-de-force of pedantry. Perhaps you still have left some undiscovered talents. If so, the market value of such pedantry might solicit an astonishingly high price, provided you’d be willing to trim it to the suitable occasion.

239

Corey Robin 01.17.14 at 1:46 am

Belle: “But, not-mcmanus people of Crooked Timber, it’s pretty simple. It’s stupid to have aristocratic titles. If the aristocrats have special powers denied to other citizens then that’s unjust rather than stupid. If there is an actual law, across the land, that the stupid titles, though not unjust in and of themselves, be allotted only to one group of citizens and never another, then that’s unjust as well as stupid. What would we all be saying if there were a rule that black people couldn’t inherit titles of nobility? ‘Sorry. That Duke married a black woman, so his eldest son–and indeed all his sons–are ineligible to become the next Duke. It will have to be his racist half-wit nephew. The law’s the law!’ Would we all be sitting here saying, ‘well, sure it’s racist, but we really ought to abolish the aristocracy,’ or would we be saying, ‘what a shameful, stupid, racist law!’ Hmmmm?'”

My assumption was that many of the titled nobility did in fact have access to privileges that others in society did not have, by law. Hereditary peerages in the House of Lords, for starters. I thought, mistakenly as it turns out, that the number of hereditary peers there was much higher than it in fact is: fewer than 100, as it turns out. Anyway, assuming that it was much higher, that seemed like a prima facie case of injustice. Not merely stupid, but unjust. So the response to that, to my mind, was not trying to open up access to participate in that injustice but to eliminate that injustice. And my response to a system of titles that were prohibited to black people would be exactly the same.

In the US, there used to be restrictive covenants against Jews, blacks, sometimes Catholics, and more. I would never join a campaign just to get rid of the restrictive covenant against Jews, so that Jews could join a community that could then implement restrict covenants against blacks and Catholics and others; as a Jew, I’d want to be part of a campaign that got rid of restrictive covenants.

All that said, I think people are misreading me, assuming I think the battle against sexism does not have its own distinctive elements, or that it can be subsumed under the battle against class or something allegedly more universal. I really don’t think that at all — going to grad school in the 90s kinda knocks that shit out of you — and nothing in my work has ever even suggested that — in fact, quite the opposite. No reason readers here should know that; just stating my orientation.

When I made reference to the time when the battle against sexism and aristocracy were one and the same — I was referring to Mary Wollstonecraft. Perhaps “one and the same” was too strong. I apologize for that. But I’d be hard-pressed to think that her answer to these kinds of gendered distinctions within the titled aristocracy would be that women should have access to them too. She thought women should have access to education, property, and much else, for the very same reason that she thought hereditary titles were not something anyone should have access to.

I think Katherine and others here have a point re “so long as these institutions are here.” I guess what I was really trying to get at is how much our political vision has been attenuated that even something like a titled aristocracy, with all the legal and political privileges some of them still seem to have, has become yet another institution that we have to assume is going to be with us for a very long time. I mean I’m used to these kinds of arguments when it comes to the military: of course gays or blacks or women should be able to join the military and assume all its privileges. For the very reason Katherine sets out above: these institutions, no matter how much we may dislike them, aren’t going away. Not in our lifetime. So I’m used to that argument and agree with it. That the titled aristocracy must now be part of that concession to reality seems, well, sad. Perhaps this is an American thing?

Anyway, as Bianca suggested above, the real point of my post was to make a comment about conservatism and the way it adapts to or incorporates arguments from the left. As I said, I certainly don’t think sexism or gender is just something that can be subsumed under other modes of domination. That was my bad for suggesting that it was; not what I think.

240

Belle Waring 01.17.14 at 1:49 am

TM: PREACH!
And look, to the extent that these people still want primogeniture they’re assholes. This woman sounds like an asshole. There should be regular old division of inheritance and there should be estate taxes. But bob mcmanus’ Wollstonecraft comment is merely the reductio of the sentence TM quoted from the OP, to wit, “where’s your precious feminism now?” (This is generally said by the sneering bad guy right before a super-powered person comes in, so I guess I’ll just have to hope Storm from the X-Men is about the blow the door off its hinges.) If blackamazon or someone wants to start a new “solidarityisforwhitewomen”-style tumblr/hashtag I’m happy to read it and maybe shut up and learn a thing or two, but when white liberal guys want to set up such a tumblr to explain to me which possibly feminist causes are OK and which should have their heads pushed under water in favor of class issues? Not so much with the liking. Is my mom’s friend Antonia a poster child of tragedy or something? No. Is it sexist to have a law that forbade her grandparents to leave their property to her because she doesn’t have an important penis? Yes. Duuuuhhh. Are we even needing to argue about this for any reason?

241

bob mcmanus 01.17.14 at 1:59 am

239: I should have known better

Jonathan Harker willingly returns to the Vampire Castle and the attractions of the weird sisters.

240: bob mcmanus’ Wollstonecraft comment

It was the Pankhursts, not Wollstonecraft.

242

Belle Waring 01.17.14 at 2:00 am

Cross-posted Corey, yes, I see your point. As I say, my only experience with the situation was having someone I know being made very miserable so perhaps I’m pointlessly sympathetic to them (like the Bush I officials who were my parent’s friends in DC. It’s harder to think people you actually see being normal are evil, but there it is). I know there’s only a few Lords that can vote on anything and they can be overridden anyway, right? I agree that it may seem like a sad retreat of liberalism for people to be saying, “hang on, can’t some of us be courtiers also, pleeease, it would give us better self-esteem!” I didn’t mean to be unpleasant about it and don’t think you were advancing a necessarily sexist line. I’m often unpleasant about things without entirely 1000% meaning to be, though, so, probably sorry.

243

Belle Waring 01.17.14 at 2:02 am

Pankhursts. Indeed. That’s what you use to make tonkatsu, right? Mmmm, tonkatsu.

244

Crouchback 01.17.14 at 5:23 am

I think what you’re seeing in the push to make aristocracy gender neutral is a kind of trickle down feminism. The logic is that if we get elite women into top positions, this will somehow eventually benefit women further down. In practice nothing good ever seems to trickle down so women in general don’t get very enthused about the prospect. You can see that in the last NYC mayoral race, when Frank Bruni and Maureen Dowd wrung their hands over how working class women in New York just didn’t appreciate Christine Quinn and insisted on voting for de Blasio. Never mind that de Blasio promised to do more for them – what about the symbolism of a female mayor?

A previous poster argued that elites are ok with gender equality as long as class privilege is preserved. A previous poster was wrong. Male elites – genuine patriarchs – would have to yield almost literally half their kingdoms to make things equal with women of their class. That’s not happening. They’re perfectly happy to pay lip service to feminism and yield on symbolic issues but they’re not going to willingly give up half the CEO slots, half the law partnerships, etc. If elite women want that to change, they’ll need to build broad support and they can’t do that without tending to the needs of ordinary women. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the Scandinavian countries that have achieved the greatest equality for women are also the most egalitarian in socioeconomic terms. American women in the top few percent need to choose between keeping class privilege and gaining sexual equality. So far most have chosen the former.

A tangential note on Catholicism – Constantine didn’t make Christianity into the religion of the empire – he chose it because it was (regardless of merits) a strong and rapidly growing faith. The idea that the whim of one autocrat could overwhelm the beliefs of millions always struck me as a bit peculiar. Mithras never had mass appeal. Also, the first female Speaker and thus far most powerful American female politician, Nancy Pelosi, is a Catholic and a product of Catholic education. I’m sure her work for women’s equality doesn’t compare favorably with progressive atheists such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens but I think she deserves some credit.

245

clew 01.17.14 at 5:48 am

mfjgates, in the second post, had a very likely answer, as groups that decide to assign titles among themselves have been known to enjoy the hell out of it for decades already. And I am Marie of Roumania!

246

dn 01.17.14 at 5:49 am

Plume @232 – you did, in fact, assert without qualification at 192 that earliest Christianity offered eternal life “sans the actual hard effort of ‘getting right with God'”, and you maintain that this was “basically true” though an oversimplification. It is not; the texts of the NT and the known history of the early churches amply demonstrate otherwise. As this is rather off-topic, I don’t care to get into a deep discussion, but I will note that there are many passages of Paul and pseudo-Paul which exhort the Christian believer to precisely the virtues you describe. In the words of the letter to the Galatians: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law… Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ… And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Virtually every letter offers similar passages; the gospels likewise are filled with moral exhortation and are plainly opposed to the idea of faith without works. (“Why do you call me Lord and not do what I say?”)

Certainly, it’s true that Christian moral thinking also includes ideas most of us would criticize; chief among them its frequent contempt for this-worldly happiness, as well as the intertwining of ethics with theological orthodoxy. And yet this does not in any way support the insinuation that Christianity is somehow morally lazy. Sometimes we agree with its particular moral demands, sometimes we don’t, but plainly the violation of those demands was taken seriously.

(You may be interested in some of the “Sayings of the Desert Fathers“, which provide a nice sense of one ancient Christian ideal of the holy man. Some are inspiring, others less so. That’s how it goes with most “ancient wisdom”.)

247

Suzanne 01.17.14 at 6:08 am

230: “I’m not sure what my point is, except to note that the legalistic insistence on male primogeniture is apparently rather a late development.”

Entailment goes back a very long way – it’s feudal in origin.

Women could inherit if no male heirs could be found. Mrs. Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” isn’t worried only about the family property passing to a male heir and outsider, because she and her five daughters would still be in a pickle even if there were no Mr. Collins. The estate would have to be subdivided among all five girls (rather than Jane inheriting the lot because she happened to be first past the post, as it were).

(Perhaps it should be noted that little Anne Mowbray, who married Richard, Duke of York, was the only surviving child of her parents. Eleanor of Aquitaine and Constance of Brittany, great heiresses of an earlier century whose holdings were managed in their name by husbands and/or sons, were also the surviving/only children.)

248

Plume 01.17.14 at 6:14 am

dn 245,

Yes, the statement you noted first, the offer of eternal life sans ethical and moral practice as conceived of by Jewish tradition of that time . . . yes, that is in fact the case. I am not wrong in saying that. That was, in fact, the case with early and later Christianity, and still is the case.

If one accepts Jesus as their savior, they do not need “good deeds” to gain heaven, according to central Christian tenets. And accepting him as that savior is the only way to gain heaven, according to those tenets. You can’t, even if you live the most ethical, moral and beautiful life possible, unless you accept Jesus as your savior. There is no way around that.

Think about it. A Buddhist, or an atheist, or a Hindu, etc. etc. who lives the most beautiful, moral, compassionate existence, full of the most giving, generous and loving heart . . . overflowing with kindness . . . . they can not gain heaven, according to Christian belief.

It’s not about the works, or non-Christians could gain heaven, too. It’s about belief. And this makes Christianity a lesser religion, when it comes to morality and ethics, as far as I’m concerned. And I say so having grown up in a Christian household, but deciding early on (age 9, roughly) to leave the church. Reading and later studying mythology and then comparative religion made it impossible for me to “believe” any more.

249

Ed Herdman 01.17.14 at 6:43 am

Just to stir the pot a little, Japan allows for some interesting possibilities regarding inheritance and adoption. While it’s only open to men (in at least the normal case), many family businesses cope with the problem of underperforming male heirs by adopting in a male from another family. He trades family names and gets the business.

Obviously if your concern is that “winner takes all” inheritance is fundamentally unjust, then this will not help. However, in the case of a long-standing family business, quite often more is at stake than just the fortunes of family members.

It is at the very least an interesting departure from genetic dynasticism, although it hasn’t obviously served as a straightforward waypoint on the path to a straightforwardly meritocratic corporate model, either.

250

Ed Herdman 01.17.14 at 6:46 am

@ Plume: As dn says, you would be much better off to make the case against any particular Christian ethics, but trying to argue against the whole structure is unproductive because there are many cases of shared morals that serve as obvious counterexamples to your narrative. Overall I find your insistence on denigrating our Christian friends to be not valuable.

251

Mao Cheng Ji 01.17.14 at 8:31 am

@bob
“Neoliberalism is the expropriation, or the colonization, by elites especially minority elites, of the language, discourse, and resources of emancipatory movements as tools for their own status enhancement, privilege, and accumulation (social and political capital as well as economic capital) at the expense of the subaltern and non-elite.”

But the language of group-victimization is as old as hills. It’s been practiced for the tribal, religious, and every other identity, from times immemorial. I don’t see how it’s ‘expropriation or colonization’ of anything.

This days I think it’s just a response to “proletarians of the world unite”: ‘Don’t unite with the fellow proletarians, folks, for your whites oppress your blacks, your men oppress your women, your straights oppress your gays. Better unite with your own kind, and we are your best friends.’ This seems like a very natural way (divide and rule) for the upper classes to protect their “earned privilege” (comment 74 introduces “unearned privilege”, which implies “earned privilege”). But especially for the men-women antagonism, cultivating it can’t work very well because these two groups are well-integrated. Anyway, this too shall pass.

252

bob mcmanus 01.17.14 at 9:17 am

248: In Tokugawa times it was illegal for samurai to marry commoners, but this was evaded by the adoption of women, usually the daughters of merchants, into neighboring or friendly samurai families. It was also used to bring money into poor samurai families. Fairly common.

It should be understood that the adoption of male heirs was not just a middle-class or UMC practice, but extended down to the lowest peasant farmer land-owning family. Although officially the family head, in actual practice because of the nature of adoption and the nurture of 2nd and 3rd sons, women had more autonomy and decision power in such situations.

I think the practice of heir adoption is declining as precipitously as the Japanese birthrate and shortage of younger sons, but is still common in the craft and artisan traditions.

253

William Berry 01.17.14 at 9:38 am

Hector St. Clair agrees with Mao Cheng Ji!

To quote the Late , Great Gomer Pyle: “Surprise! Surprise!”.

254

Random Lurker 01.17.14 at 10:01 am

@Belle Waring 240
“Is it sexist to have a law that forbade her grandparents to leave their property to her because she doesn’t have an important penis? Yes.”

But the problem is that, as far as I can understand, there is no law that forbade her grandparents to leave their “property” to her – the problem is that said property was attached to the title, and the title is not property – which is the reason they couldn’t leave it to her.

In my mind, there is this really clear distinction:

a) property -> capitalism -> equality of rights but usually not of substance.

b) title -> feudalism -> stupid divine right legal infrastructure, based on the feudal concept of “privilege”, that is localized rights -> we don’t even understand what equality of right means, which makes a lot of other questions (like equality among sexes or among “races”) quite moot.

If the Lady of the OP said: Hey, I (or my sister) want to inheir my parent’s home, and I don’t think that only people with a penis should qualify – I would get her point.

But she is asking for the stupid title, that works according to the (b), and simply makes no sense outside of (b), and she asks it on the grounds that it doesn’t conform to ethical rules of (a), such as no penis based discrimination.

So in my opinion when you say “a law that forbade her grandparents to leave their property to her” you are totally missing the problem

255

Z 01.17.14 at 10:53 am

Yep, I exactly agree with Random Lurker (again). Is it sexist to have a law that forbade her grandparents to leave their property to her because she doesn’t have an important penis? I don’t think there is such a law, though: it’s more, someone, ages ago, decided that his material belongings and the symbolic titles going with them would only go to people with a penis (of course, a sexist position, but I don’t think anyone here denied that sexism exists). Personally, I find the possibility of fine-tuning inheritance law unjust, and I’m all for the system outlined @198. But if one agrees with the possibility of attaching properties and inherited wealth with arbitrary conditions (such as having a title), as Mrs Campbell and the petitioners do according to the NYT, then I see no injustice in the rules being enforced (after all these are the rules they, on their complete free will, assented to; if they didn’t, the simplest way is not to participate in the system in the first place and refuse the inheritance) and I quite understand why Corey Robin would find it not a little ironic that they propose to argue their case in front of the European Court of Human Rights, when their proposition amounts to “we want to replace this injustice, which is sexist, by that injustice, which is based on who was born first.”

256

Ed Herdman 01.17.14 at 11:10 am

@ bob mcmanus

So if heir adoption is declining (I don’t know if it is or not), then would female heirs be replacing that? (I guess that’s a rhetorical because this is Japan we’re talking about.) In at least two cases adopting out would still seem to be the better choice: One would be an important business with only a suboptimal male heir, and the other is the case where there isn’t any male heir at all and they want to adopt out. I don’t see how the declining birth rate would make adoptions less likely, except so far as titles go extinct and class distinctions are rigidly maintained.

257

Random Lurker 01.17.14 at 11:21 am

@Z

Thanks! I was starting to believe to be crazy.

258

Belle Waring 01.17.14 at 12:19 pm

I don’t think there should be primogeniture either, as I said earlier. The estate should be divided among the various heirs.

259

Belle Waring 01.17.14 at 12:31 pm

Could it really have been the case that had her grandparents said, “we both are willing and actively will that that no one be the Duke of Earl” they could have left their property to whom they wished? I sort of got the impression not. I.e. that someone was going to be the Duke of Earl, and whoever he was he would have all the properties, etc. My mom’s friend’s sisters were willing to share evenly together were it possible, along with their first cousins (selling various things for cash to parcel out as needed), and didn’t want to be…fuck, I dunno Countesses or something–it was the second cousin swooping in at the close for all the marbles that was painful. As I say, this is not the saddest story ever told, it’s just a stupid law, insofar as it rests solely on the gender of the heirs.

260

Belle Waring 01.17.14 at 12:32 pm

I’m only pressing this point because I wanted to solve a mysterious jewel-theft and murder at their country home.

261

hix 01.17.14 at 12:35 pm

Inheritance laws as such are deaply routed in local culture and customs. Much more so than other civil law. Even within the UK, Scotish inheritance laws are very different from the English ones. The English is a one can inherit everything to whoever one wants law. The Scotish has more of a requirement to give to all direct relatives.

The trick with the home rights court i would think is that it does not mention inheritance at all because no one could agree on an international consensus, but does explicitly mention gender discrimination(?). Considering the EU court has ruled its gender discrimination to charge women more for insurance becaus they live longer or men more because they drive riskier, a ridiculous decission is not that far fetched.

262

Layman 01.17.14 at 1:14 pm

“I’m only pressing this point because I wanted to solve a mysterious jewel-theft and murder at their country home.”

It was the laudanum. Franklin walks in his sleep when he uses it. He took the Moonstone.

263

Manta 01.17.14 at 1:20 pm

Most of the people miss Marple knew were murdered.
(how come they did not arrest the obvious serial killer?)

264

Manta 01.17.14 at 1:24 pm

I mixed up miss Marple with Jessica Fletcher.

265

djr 01.17.14 at 1:26 pm

Belle: Presumably the second cousin was as closely related to the person who was originally awarded the title as your friend, though? So your friend grew up there and the second cousin didn’t, because she was descended from a first-born son and the second cousin wasn’t. Turnabout is fair play?

266

Z 01.17.14 at 2:04 pm

Could it really have been the case that had her grandparents said, “we both are willing and actively will that that no one be the Duke of Earl” they could have left their property to whom they wished? I sort of got the impression not.

I think you are right, as I understand it, the property is tied to the title and the title survives independently of its owner’s will (perhaps even forbidding some things to be sold, I don’t know). What they could have said is “even though I’m born with this title and the accompanying right to enjoy this nice property, I understand that it came to be and not my brother because I was born first and that it will go to my sons (or nephews, or cousins…), and not my daughters, and I don’t like that, so I want no part of it.” The house would have presumably gone to the second cousin anyway (so no change in the final situation) and no one would have felt robbed of cherished childhood memories (because your friend would have grown up in a house whose ownership did not rely on gross unfairness). Turning your previous analogy around, isn’t this what you would do if you were offered substantial advantages for a lifetime (far exceeding your current wealth) on the tiny small condition that everything you own at your death would be given to the Foundation of the Aryan Homeland in the Pacific Northwest? But I admit I’m as cold-hearted as it gets when it comes to the emotional attachments some people feel towards material objects which just happened to be very valuable.

djr’s remark @264 is also quite pertinent.

267

Ronan(rf) 01.17.14 at 2:41 pm

268

dn 01.17.14 at 4:54 pm

Plume @247 – Again, you are incorrect (and also engaging in some serious goalpost-shifting; “sans ethical and moral practice as conceived of by Jewish tradition of that time” isn’t what you originally said at all). You’re not distinguishing between “faith is necessary” and “faith alone is necessary, works are not”. The former is a central Christian tenet, but the latter is in fact roundly rejected by most of the world’s Christians. And the NT supports them; or else what was Paul saying when he wrote that “He will render to each one according to his works” (to cite just one passage among many)? The idea that early Christians thought good works unnecessary is only possible to hold if you ignore the Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Plain, the Sheep and the Goats, the parables, the epistle of James, large portions of Paul, extracanonical documents like the letter of Polycarp or the Didache, the evidence of the early penitential system, etc., etc.

You don’t like the theological exclusivism. I get it. Neither do I. That doesn’t justify completely misinterpreting actual Christian practice, which is something that alienates potential friends and allies. I will say no more on this topic.

269

Plume 01.17.14 at 5:40 pm

dn 267,

The context of the comment should have been assumed by you. We were already talking about the Jews of that time. I added nothing and move no goal posts. Just clarified in case you had not already made the right assumption.

Ed Herdman 249,

I am far from “denigrating our Christian friends.” I said nothing about individual Christians alive today, in 2014. All my comments were directed at Christian dogma and doctrine, as established, roughly speaking, from the late 1st century thru the 3rd. For the most part.

My criticism is the lack of ethical and moral demands placed on Christians, above and beyond “belief,” and relative to other religions. Or, for that matter, relative to those of us who are secular humanists, to use an old term. Not the individual ethics and morality of currently existing Christians.

No denigration occurred or was intended.

270

Plume 01.17.14 at 5:57 pm

The key here is that we make a big mistake when we seek a kind of equality of exploitation. As in, working hard to bring about a kind equality of access to power over others. Gender-based, race-based, etc.

Rather than trying to end apartheid (and aristocracies), we work hard to make it so previously locked out groups get a shot at the top of the pyramid, so they can join the exploitation club. And they still leave their former peers behind in the process.

Better thing to do:

get rid of the pyramid altogether.

There is no real gain in human rights, no real revolution, if we just make it possible for women (and minorities) to be exploitative bastards, just like men, at the top of some institution. The thing to do is end the ruling class, period. Not add to it.

So, again, divide up the estate equally. Tax it, progressively. No differences in place for gender. All genders should have equal rights under the law, and we need to stop allowing massive concentrations of wealth — which means massive concentrations of power.

271

Mao Cheng Ji 01.17.14 at 6:06 pm

“My criticism is the lack of ethical and moral demands placed on Christians, above and beyond “belief,” and relative to other religions.”

Hmm, I got exactly the opposite impression. Too much and completely unrealistic. As in: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” And so on. Unreasonably harsh ethical and moral demands.

272

Plume 01.17.14 at 6:15 pm

Mao 270,

But I don’t see that as having anything to do with “morality” per se. Having “lust” in one’s heart is a matter of biology — and subject to further clarification and definition. It’s wired in to us as a species. Making sure it’s 100% mutual before one acts is an aspect of morality. But the lust itself?

To me, the arc of morality goes from cruelty to kindness. Immorality is the former. Acting with kindness and compassion is the latter. Forced abstinence or adherence to “no sex except in marriage” etc. etc. . . . . that’s not “morality.” That’s just silly, arbitrary denial of natural impulses.

273

Mao Cheng Ji 01.17.14 at 6:26 pm

Fine, what about this one:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

This one has something to do with cruelty, and it’s very harsh too.

274

Plume 01.17.14 at 6:38 pm

Mao 272,

I would say the punishment is absolutely cruel. It’s literally overkill. To condemn someone to hell for saying “you fool”?

The punishment, as is the case throughout the bible, doesn’t fit the “crime” in the slightest. It is actually an insane overreaction and certainly not “moral”.

The god of the bible kills Lot’s wife for merely looking back on the genocide that god just committed. He kills Onan for failing to impregnate his brother’s widow. He wipes out the entire human race, sans Noah and his family, because he thought they were “wicked.” He slaughtered 3000 Jews for worshiping a golden calf. He ordered the total annihilation of every man, woman and child in Jericho for failing to bend a knee to his most highness.

(If you take the bible literally, of course)

Massive problem with “proportional response,” to say the least. And that is part of the foundation for Christianity, and rears its ugly head most violently with the End of Days. As in, everyone who does not accept Jesus as their savior is damned for all eternity. Of the living, that means some 5 billion humans slaughtered. At least.

Sorry, but I have a real problem taking objections to criticism of Christianity seriously when all of that is on the table.

275

Plume 01.17.14 at 6:45 pm

“Raca,” btw, is Aramaic for “empty.” It’s like calling someone empty-headed. Which, of course, is not a nice thing to say. But does it warrant being brought before a council? And who knows what that council would then decree as punishment?

But the bible makes “you fool” an even worse offense in that case. They both sound pretty similar. Why would “empty-headed” bring about a lesser punishment? And why on earth would someone even remotely think that an insult like “empty-headed” should send someone to hell?

The bible is filled with the most bizarre responses to things. Again, most are irrational overreactions, often entailing the most sadistic of punishments.

Sorry if I don’t accept it as any kind of moral or ethical guide.

276

Mao Cheng Ji 01.17.14 at 6:55 pm

How are you supposed to convey your ethical and moral demands, then? Please turn the other cheek and love your enemies, or a little angel will cry? I’m afraid it might turn out less effective than scaring me by Fiery Gehenna.

In any case, whatever incentive is given to comply with the demands, I still dispute “the lack of ethical and moral demands”.

277

dn 01.17.14 at 7:03 pm

Okay, one more. If that’s what you meant, it’s pretty hard to get it from what you actually wrote: you said Christianity was Greco-Roman mythology mixed with mistranslated Judaism sans the actual hard practice of getting right with God, taking no effort in return. This last phrase provided a perfectly reasonable ground to interpret “sans hard practice” as an absolute, not comparative, expression – and you confirmed it by following up with “If one accepts Jesus as their savior, they do not need ‘good deeds’ to gain heaven, according to central Christian tenets.” On the contrary, this is a radical misunderstanding of central Christian tenets; so far as we can tell it is neither the position of Paul, nor of the other NT writers, nor of the pre-Nicene churches whose documented teachings and practices suggest that they considered morality quite important to salvation.

No more, I’m done. Really.

278

Sebastian H 01.17.14 at 7:08 pm

“Of course, no Constantine, and it dies on the vine. We might be worshiping Mithras instead.”

Arguably we already do. A huge portion of the militancy (in the sense of actual military arm) of Christianity appears to have come from the absorption of the Mithras cult. It dramatically changed the emphasis of Christian teaching.

279

Plume 01.17.14 at 7:23 pm

dn 276,

Christianity evolved waaay beyond the writings of Paul and the words (and deeds) of Jesus. Obviously. And those words were often contradictory. So choices had to be made. Christianity became organized, bureaucratized and codified certain tenets. Set them in stone. It couldn’t leave the all obvious ambiguities and contradictions of the source material as is. It had to choose (and choose that source material) and then interpret and then add to those interpretations. Which also meant cutting certain things out of the dialogue, and this was further exacerbated by factionalism and the eventual winners of those battles.

We have certain gospels, epistles, stories and so on, but not others. The winners decided. And even the things we have (as the official bible) contradict one another at times. They were also edited, copied, mistranslated, edited again and again. There are known forgeries, like certain of Paul’s letters and the ending of Mark. Scholars have found literally tens of thousands of discrepancies between the various copies — which were done by hand, until Gutenberg.

Bottom line: When you say X was the position of Paul, that doesn’t mean it was necessarily the position of the early church fathers. And much subsequent Christianity strikes me as a radical departure from the Sermon on the Mount especially. Is there anything in all the sayings of Jesus that would even slightly encourage the development of the church as a massive, complex and very wealthy worldwide bureaucracy?

280

Plume 01.17.14 at 7:29 pm

Sebastian H 277,

That’s interesting. The cult of Mithras having a connection to Zoroastrianism as well. Likely one of the sources for the good versus evil absolutism. Militancy and militarism flows from that. The eternal battle of good versus evil.

Which one is which gets scrambled, of course, when the supposed good guys have the mother of all genocides as a major part of its foundation.

281

GiT 01.17.14 at 7:33 pm

@109 “Gay people are simply incapable of embodying some of the goods that Christian marriage is supposed to be about (procreation, and distinct gender rolles)”

Sorry to spoil this, but (some) gay people (or couples, rather) regularly inhabit ‘distinct gender roles.’

And they’ve also figured out ways of procreating, though they’ve always been able to engage in child rearing. It seems a bit daft to think the former is more important than the latter, though.

282

Plume 01.17.14 at 7:45 pm

GiT 280,

And, Hector’s comment brings up some rather obvious problems. If the lack of the ability to procreate is the reason for denying gay people the chance to marry, then the same must be done to infertile hetero couples, or hetero couples who don’t want to have children.

Basically, this would entail reserving marriage solely to those who want to have children, can have children, and do have children.

Some people just want to exploit religion to cover their own irrational bigotry. Unfortunately, the three monotheisms of the Levant do a good job of setting the table.

I hope someday that we outgrow the need for gods and masters.

283

Mao Cheng Ji 01.17.14 at 7:55 pm

Hmm, I dunno. The good/evil dichotomy is extremely appealing to human beings and is present in most religions. Zoroastrianism is cool, as far as I’m concerned, and Manichaeism even more fascinating. And the Sasanid empire was one of the most cosmopolitan of them all.

284

clew 01.17.14 at 8:07 pm

Ambling back, the entail as I understand it was an intergenerational contract designed to keep one generation from selling or just overexploiting the land. Worked well for wooded plantations, sometimes, not so well for keeping up drainages. I don’t think it would be theoretically impossible to combine entail with division among the heirs, but it would be very hard in practice. One of the ag-based explanations of the nineteenth c. is that England’s primogeniture produced a few men in position to become capitalists, where Napoleonic (?) division of estates impoverished everyone gradually (made worse by salt-farming, cam0flauged by centralizing wealth at the court).

285

dn 01.17.14 at 9:13 pm

How do you think we know about the demanding penitential practices of the 2nd/3rd/4th centuries? From Church Fathers: Tertullian, Origen, etc. And if the later church concluded that works didn’t matter at all, why the continuation of Christian moral philosophy into the middle ages? Why the development of the doctrine of purgatory? Why the continuing debates over Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism? Why was “sola fide” anathematized during the Reformation?

If anything, it was antinomianism that lost out during the internecine battles of the first centuries. Marcionism, though opposed to OT law, is thought to have had its own strict moral code. Same with some gnostics. Other powerful populist Christian movements in the first centuries promoted moral rigorism: the Donatists, the Novatianists, the Montanists. Early Catholic Orthodoxy developed a popular ideal of the holy man based in ascetic morality and charity, as illustrated by the Desert Fathers (St. Anthony, the most famous desert monk, lived in the late 3rd century). There’s a whole genre of documents known as Church Orders, starting with the Didache, that emphasize the importance of moral conduct, particularly for clergy but also for laity. (They’re part of the biblical canon in the Ethiopian church.)

Obviously there’s not much in the NT to support what the Catholic Church, as an institution, became. But that’s because there’s not much in the NT to support the idea that we should still be here at all. Paul obviously thought the world would be ending soon. He and the Jesus of the Gospels have little moral advice for people in positions of worldly authority because it was not expected that Christians would end up ruling the world (except in an eschatological sense). The evidence of the NT suggests that it was probably the decline of apocalyptic fervor that produced the idea of the Church as a this-worldly institution, which in turn produced the authoritarian hierarchy, which in turn produced the institutional corruption we so lament.

286

mattski 01.17.14 at 9:38 pm

dn,

Very glad you’re not done. Your erudition is much appreciated.

287

MPAVictoria 01.17.14 at 10:04 pm

“The evidence of the NT suggests that it was probably the decline of apocalyptic fervor that produced the idea of the Church as a this-worldly institution, which in turn produced the authoritarian hierarchy, which in turn produced the institutional corruption we so lament.”

Really, really interesting.

288

etv13 01.17.14 at 10:59 pm

Fee tail, tail male, and male primogeniture are three different (but related) things. Fee tail originated as a way for people to make family settlements; it could be used, for example, to provide a landed estate for a marrying couple while making sure that if they had no kids, the estate would revert to the grantor. (The English translation of the name of the statute that made it possible is “Of conditional gifts.”) You could grant a fee tail estate that could be inherited by daughters as well as sons, and based on the 13th and 14th-century yearbook evidence, lots of people did. (This is what I did my third-year paper on in law school.) “Tail male” is a variant where you limit the inheritance only to male heirs. There was no “law”, as such, saying only males could inherit; the law did, however, authorize private actors to convey their property subject to such a restriction. (At the time, by the way, you could sell or give away your land while alive, and your heirs could inherit it by operation of law, but you could not leave it to anyone in a will.)

Male primogeniture is sort of an overlay (okay, it actually antedates fee tail by quite a bit) where all the land in fee tail or fee simple goes to the oldest son; if there is no son, unless it’s a tail male, it is divided equally among the daughters. My understanding (based on reading a Wikipedia article a couple of years ago) is that the older English titles of nobility follow that same practice, but since they can’t be held by more than one person at once, it would go into abeyance if there were no sons and more than one daughter. Sometime around the sixteenth century, though, the monarchs started writing most grants of titles so that they could only be inherited by (and sometimes through) males. (Sometimes they didn’t, though, which is how the Duke of Monmouth’s wife got to keep her title of Duchess of Buccleuch and pass it to their children despite a bill of attainder against him.) It may well be that tail male for land tenure became more common around the same time, and that post-feudal English society got more sexist vis-a-vis inheritance rights than it had been earlier.

I understood Mr. Bennett’s estate to have been a tail male, which means his daughters could not have divided it up in the absence of a Mr. Collins. If there were no male heirs anywhere in the descent of the original grantor, it would have reverted to the crown.

The fee tail was abolished as a legal form of land tenure in 1925, so Belle’s mom’s friend’s family estate must have been restricted in some other way (maybe a trust?).

Until I read the Wikipedia article on the Duke of Norfolk’s case just now, I did not know that a title of nobility was ever devisable (and I’m still a bit sceptical).

Finally, in the whole history of English land tenure going back at least to the Norman conquest, it has never been the case that women could not own land or property. What they could not do, if they were married, is control it.

289

bob mcmanus 01.17.14 at 11:26 pm

Well, since I have absolutely no interest in Xtianity, I’ll finally respond to Herdman at

255: I don’t see how the declining birth rate would make adoptions less likely, except so far as titles go extinct and class distinctions are rigidly maintained.

Because there aren’t any kids to adopt?

1970: under 14 81% of population
2010: under 14 35% of population

Titles? Ain’t no titles in Japan, except for the Royalty, maybe a dozen people. Not sure if the Emperor’s brothers are Princes, but that is as far as it coyld go. The nobility was dissolved by the occupation authority and it stuck, because nobody liked them anyway. I am slightly curious if they get any recognition at all at hoity-toit parties, but I doubt it.

(Some exception to the below during Imperial Era, when closeness to the Emperor endowed status. Meiji had only one noble active in policy, and Konoe became Prime Minister because of competence more than connections. Around half Meiji-Showa were promoted capitalists or military.)

The nobility never was much in Japan since Heian times because since around 1250 they had very strong status competition from the samurai class, and weaker competition from the merchants, artisans and farm landlords. The nobility had a certain cachet by being close to the Emperor and as carriers of ancient culture, but never any wealth or power.

Japan was/is an occupational society, in which tea mastery, accountant to lord of Kaga, and beggar in SE Tokyo were patrilineal inherited titles. The beggar could outsource the actual work, but remained responsible. “But my milkwoman has always been named X, and my druggist always named Y” It is I suppose related to the emphasis constructed in Japan on personal relationships and social continuity.

The fourth consecutive adopted head of Suzuki is not inheriting the business so much as carrying on a brand name. Now I don’t claim to understand exactly why it is so important that the 17 generation potter or Noh actor carry the family name, but it is. Nor do I understand why Japanese so readily change names and family.

And yes, since the potter’s actual son might want to be an actor, and there aren’t a lot of young people, young women, though a very small percentage, are increasingly being adopted to carry the occupational brand names.

290

Plume 01.17.14 at 11:45 pm

dn 284,

I agree with your last paragraph, and it’s very well put. Jesus, though this is arguable due to the lack of evidence of his actual existence, is thought to have been a Jewish apocalyptic preacher himself, who preached the imminent coming of the kingdom of god. Not that he himself was god, as that would have gone against all Jewish tradition. There is no tradition of a god-man or man-god in Judaism. The idea of a demi-god, or a dead and resurrected deity, comes from the so-called Pagan religions, including Greek, Roman, Babylonian, Egyptian, etc. And the Messiah was a human being only, according to Jewish tradition. Anointed by god, but not a god himself.

So, yes. He and Paul didn’t expect to be on earth much longer, which is also why Jesus said that the End of Days would happen before his audience of that time passed on from this earth. Obviously, it didn’t happen, which means Christianity is based upon a failed prophecy of their god’s return. The church had to do a lot of scrambling in the wake of that.

Most of the NT was written after the sacking of Jerusalem, which seemed to be end of the world to many at the time, but they came out the other end intact. And the official version wasn’t put in place until roughly 379AD. Or, some 350 years after Jesus was crucified, give or take a year or two.

I’m guessing the source of our disagreement is in the definition of “morality and ethics.” I don’t see what the church demanded as either. They were very strict and stern when it came to punishing what they saw as “moral” failures. The key is their definition of said.

291

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 12:06 am

Plume,

Why would you assume Jesus followed ‘Jewish tradition’? The Gospels tell us that he was clear he was speaking on his own authority, not on the authority of the Jewish sages, and there’s also plenty in the Gospels that indicates he explicitly proclaimed himself to be God. He spoke to the Jews in terms that they understood, but as much as He was Jewish racially and culturally, he was certainly not one religiously. The Trinity and the Incarnation are completely alien to traditional Judaism.

Of course I think the Jews were wrong about what they expected of the Messiah, just as they were wrong about strict monotheism (as opposed to trinitarianism) so I’m not sure why a study of what the Jews believed then, or now, is going to cast any useful light on Jesus.

MPA Victoria,

Re: Are you against any anti-discrimination requirements?

No, but I’m against human laws overriding the laws of God. Divine law is more important. That said, I can also see a better case for anti-discrimination laws based on unchangeable attributes like race, than on a person’s behavioural choices. That person in Seattle is being fired because of his behavior, not because of his race. (Gender is of course also something we’re born with, but here I think the religious freedom of the church is more important than ‘anti-discrimination’.)

I’ll pose my question to you again: do you think that the NAACP should be required to hire a race realist? If not, then why do you want to force the Seattle Catholic school to hire someone who enters a same-sex marriage?

292

SoU 01.18.14 at 12:44 am

how is it that, by and large, the people who are most dogmatic about conforming to their religion’s doctrines are simultaneously those most oblivious to the origins of those self same doctrines? or is this just a thing within western monotheism?

293

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 12:59 am

Re: Most of the NT was written after the sacking of Jerusalem,

I’d dispute that strongly, for the same reasons John A.T. Robinson does in ‘Redating the New Testament’. In essence, almost nowhere in the New Testament does there seem to be any realization that Jerusalem has fallen. You’d expect that to make it into the consciousness of the writers, somehow.

294

Plume 01.18.14 at 1:02 am

Hector 290,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

He was clearly a Jew, reared as a Jew, preached and healed as a Jew, remained in the Jewish tradition throughout his lifetime. And, yes, the trinity and the incarnation are alien to Jewish tradition. But he never said anything about either. That was said by those who followed him in order to turn him into a deity.

Ironically, the two concepts come straight out of Paganism, and are the result of Roman and Greek influence primarily, showing the shift to Roman centrality in early Christianity. As you move through the four accepted gospels, you can see the change from a Jewish conception of a messiah, to a gentile one. You can also see the change from Judaism to anti-Judaism, with the Romans being let off the hook for the crucifixion, and Jews blamed instead. From what we know about Pilate, that whole scenario is laughable. He wouldn’t have left it up to the crowd.

It is not a stretch to say the roots of anti-Semiticism are to be found first in Luke.

G’night, all.

295

Plume 01.18.14 at 1:03 am

Quick add:

The Trinity is nearly a clone of the Triple Goddess. See Robert Graves and Joseph Campbell.

296

MPAVictoria 01.18.14 at 1:18 am

“No, but I’m against human laws overriding the laws of God. “
My God demands that you send me all your money.

“That person in Seattle is being fired because of his behavior, not because of his race.”
Homosexuality is not an choice.

“I’ll pose my question to you again: do you think that the NAACP should be required to hire a race realist? If not, then why do you want to force the Seattle Catholic school to hire someone who enters a same-sex marriage?”

A real racist couldn’t work at the NAACP while being gay does not effect teaching. Plus I say again going for a brisk jog is not the same as recreating the Baatan Death March.

297

Collin Street 01.18.14 at 1:56 am

I’ll pose my question to you again: do you think that the NAACP should be required to hire a race realist?

“Race realist”. The NAACP has people who are hostile to their mission and the label Hector choses to apply to them, the label I presume he thinks is the most accurate description, is “race realist”.

Also, he wants to engage in “age-disparate relationships” with “traditional power structures”, and… the rest of it.

298

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 2:31 am

MPA Victoria:

Homosexual *behavior* is absolutely a choice. No one’s talking about being fired because of their orientation. This teacher was fired because of behavior he freely chose to engage in.

I said ‘race realist’, not racist. For example, someone who believes in racial differences in IQ. You can be a race realist and subscribe to all of the NAACP’s policy goals.

In the case of the fired teacher, he was presumably engaging in behavior that runs counter to Catholic moral teaching about sex, so that might cast doubt on his ability to fulfill his role at a Catholic school (which does include moral formation of youth, as well as academic instruction). It’s not even the sex per se that is the issue, if he’d been discreet about it he might not have been fired, but by getting married he brought his (presumable) sexual behavior into the public eye.

Teaching is viewed as a form of ministry for the Roman Catholic Church, as well as for other churches, and should be subject to ministerial exemptions, if freedom of conscience is to mean anything.

299

godoggo 01.18.14 at 3:02 am

Don’t know much about history, but I do know that you don’t make a compelling case about it by saying, “See Robert Graves and Joseph Campbell.”

300

Layman 01.18.14 at 3:33 am

“Homosexual *behavior* is absolutely a choice. No one’s talking about being fired because of their orientation. This teacher was fired because of behavior he freely chose to engage in.”

Hector, is it your view that, when churches are employers, they are immune to employment law by virtue of their religious freedom? In other words, that the state may not regulate their employment practices when those practices are grounded in faith?

301

Layman 01.18.14 at 3:39 am

“I’d dispute that strongly, for the same reasons John A.T. Robinson does in ‘Redating the New Testament’.”

Almost no one else (besides you) dates any of the Gospels earlier than about 60 CE. Do they?

302

Belle Waring 01.18.14 at 3:40 am

Clew: I believe my statement, “because PENIS and AVOID THE FRENCH REVOLUTION” is more parsimonious.

303

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 3:50 am

Layman,

Robinson is hazy on dating Matthew, but he dates John to sometime in the mid to late 60s, Luke in the mid 60s, and I think Mark in the 50s. Religious conservative scholars generally hold to an early dating, liberal/secular scholars to a late dating. I’m somewhat familiar with arguments offered on both sides, but generally think the former set are stronger. For what it’s worth, Robinson was a liberal Anglican who started out believing in late dating and pseudonymous authorship, but ended up being convinced, quite against his initial presuppositions, that the Gospels, Acts, Apocalypse, and most of the letters were written early, and in many cases by people who intimately knew the subject matter. His key arguments are that the New Testament books generally don’t show an awareness of the fall of Jerusalem and related events, even when it would have clearly been germane to the text.

http://richardwaynegarganta.com/redating-testament.pdf

304

Belle Waring 01.18.14 at 3:52 am

And wait, in the example above, I get to be a billionaire, and the Aryan Brotherhood gets the money when I’m gone, and they wouldn’t have had it otherwise? Or I’m enjoying the Aryan Brotherhood’s billions during my lifetime which then revert to their previous dickwad owners? Gotta be the former I assume. God, either way, have I ever mentioned to you people that in the fictional storybooks about Harry Potter, I myself would be sorted into Slytherin house due to my excessive in-group loyalty, willingness to bury bodies for cousins and so on? I promise I’d be robbing them blind the whole time, trust me people. Their accountants would be as naught.

In any case, I thought of not posting at all earlier on my granddad’s dying on the zero-out year as it’s–tasteless yes, but perhaps pertinent and Americans’ total unwillingness to discuss personal financial matters at any times contributes to the government being able to pull a lot of bullshit, as no one knows what’s going on in even their closest friends’ lives, but no–rather–unlucky! since I am superstitious as you know, and you will be happy to know (well, that’s mean-spirited and you’re probably not like that, interested that my irrational beliefs are true maybe) that within the same 24-hour period I was notified of tax problems in my grandfathers estate. I knocked wood like all get out, but not enough, apparently.

305

LFC 01.18.14 at 4:12 am

HSC @297
‘Race realist’? WTF?! ‘Realist’ implies or suggests that their beliefs match reality, doesn’t it, hence not exactly a neutral label. (This thread is becoming even worse than the other one.)

306

Layman 01.18.14 at 4:14 am

Hector,

Mark is generally regarded as the earliest gospel, and it references both the Jewish revolt and the destruction of the Temple – thus after about 70 CE. Robinson’s view seems to be a minority one.

307

Helen 01.18.14 at 5:11 am

Women getting burned alive in a sweat-shop in Bangladesh; or a 14 yr old child bride bleeding to death on her wedding night in Yemen; etc have greater claims on my attention and resources and empathy than Lady Liza Campbell or some wanting a board position on a Fortune 500 corporation.

(and similar comments) –

Ahem.

http://crookedtimber.org/2011/12/07/10-problems-women-need-to-fix-before-they-can-complain-about-problems-with-popular-new-software-on-a-blog/

#NeverSaidBetter

308

Plume 01.18.14 at 5:23 am

godoggo 298

Don’t know much about history, but I do know that you don’t make a compelling case about it by saying, “See Robert Graves and Joseph Campbell.”

Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and his Masks of God series, are respected works of scholarship. I first read both at the age of nine, and returned to them often through the years. Campbell was a scholar of comparative myth, religion and cultural anthropology, and was one of the most learned men of his generation. As for Graves. He was both poet and novelist, as well as a scholar of comparative myth and religion. And while his idiosyncratic (some say poetic) readings of those myths has its detractors, if you read his Greek Myths, you will no doubt find much to agree with and much (footnotes and bibliography) that sends you on many wonderful journeys of discovery.

I could have picked other scholars. But I chose two highly accessible popularizers of the study of myth, which I’ve read often and with great enjoyment. Given that you admit little knowledge of history, you might want to look first before you leap. Especially when I never said they were “historians” in the first place.

For more on the Triple Goddess, here’s Wiki on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_deity

309

MPAVictoria 01.18.14 at 6:05 am

“Homosexual *behavior* is absolutely a choice. “

No.

310

godoggo 01.18.14 at 6:31 am

Plume: grrr.

311

bob mcmanus 01.18.14 at 6:49 am

206: You are confused and misreading. Note I said “my attention, resources and empathy” rather than Waring’s or yours.

To quote myself.

You can complain; I can ignore you.

I insist that I be allowed to make distinctions between instances of oppression without being considered wicked or sexist.

When you can show me that your complaint about recognition will also increase economic justice rather than decreasing it, I listen more attentively.

I didn’t tell Waring what to post. I told what and who I would bother to read.

I didn’t participate in the “mean guys say bad stuff” thread.

312

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 6:55 am

MPA Victoria,

What the hell do you mean? Of course it’s a choice. you can choose to have sex , 0r not.

And if you choose to indulge in behaviors that the Catholic Church considers immoral (not without reason) then don’t expect a job with a Catholic school.

313

bob mcmanus 01.18.14 at 7:13 am

In any case, before Robin had at 239 accepted correction from the proprietress of the blog and performed self-discipline, I had assumed it was Robin’s thread, not Waring’s and Katherine’s.

314

Meredith 01.18.14 at 7:20 am

All property is theft, I guess, except maybe my kidneys. They’re my “own.” Or do they belong in part somehow to my parents? To the social underpinnings — other people– that enable me to eat and sustain them? How much societal capital should go into treating my diseased kidneys? (This is just an illustration, btw. My kidneys are fine, as far as I know.) I refrain from the uterus-embryo-fetus example (though maybe this is the example Corey’s post truly suggests), but I choose a body part intentionally. Bodies. How limited and huge our imaginations. How vast yet distinct the body, my body, each body.

My question: how are we to think ownership (or all the related conditions, from possession to various liens)? That kind of question seems to me to underlie Corey’s post. The authority that creates “ownership,” with all that condition’s individual rights and obligations: what are the source and nature of that authority? Its relation to individuals’ or groups’ “own-ness”? Why in matters of succession is priority given to some people (including “corporate entities”) and not others? I don’t believe there are grand, -ism answers to these questions. We’ll have to muddle through them. But I think they are pressing today, whether we’re talking claims to Arctic seas, intellectual property rights, or what it might mean that the NSA is taking this comment into its maw. Not to mention that distribution leaves a good portion of the world hungry, and that distribution isn’t the whole story (Chris Bertram).

Time to revisit the very idea of the patent? In my recent amateur researches, I’ve been struck by the way the English respected land patents already granted by the Dutch in NY and NJ. Why would they do that? Not just convenience, but (my intuition) some sense of a divine order of kings and nations (hence the religious thread here in comments is maybe not as strange as it first seemed to me when I came back). Of course, even with the European “claims” distributed through the haze of overlapping and competing patents, the Indians always had to be compensated properly, at least by the English and Dutch (I don’t have any idea how the French and Spanish handled this — well, I have an inkling with the Spanish). The idea of “first-ness.” Indians here first. Got to acknowledge that. Isn’t that an interesting impulse? (Seen here, too, in threads about early Christians and such.)

And I want Belle to know that my heroic (yes she was) great grandmother, baker of loaves and maker of babies, was born in Alabama. (In all honesty, I have to add that her father was some crazy CT son, who went south before the war and took his family north right after the war, and that she mostly grew up in the upper midwest. But in the world she grew up in, she and her extended family stood out as “from the south” — and were all much loved and respected by the once cappie-wearing veterans around them nonetheless. It was a sad time, and people went on, happy for kind and good folks.)

315

godoggo 01.18.14 at 7:22 am

Anyways, coincidentally there was a blog post this morning about Jesus and Mithras. Maybe someone here will have something interesting to say about it.
http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/mithras-and-jesus/#more-6216

316

Mao Cheng Ji 01.18.14 at 10:23 am

“The evidence of the NT suggests that it was probably the decline of apocalyptic fervor that produced the idea of the Church as a this-worldly institution, which in turn produced the authoritarian hierarchy, which in turn produced the institutional corruption we so lament.”

Hmm. Apocalyptic fervor is a function of the religious doctrine, and the Church as a this-worldly institution is a way to organize and maintain the social order (it has to be, just like any this-worldly institution). You pick a doctrine, modify it to suit you needs, and build an institution. I agree that an apocalyptic fervor would make this particular doctrine problematic, but I don’t see the direct cause and effect here; it’s not like the true believers decided: the second coming is not imminent, so let us build a this-worldly institution. But perhaps that is not what you meant by “produced the idea”, so, just to clarify.

317

guthrie 01.18.14 at 12:21 pm

Hmm, so heterosexual behaviour is a choice is it? That doesn’t explain why all these celibate priests throughout the last thousand years or so managed some heterosexual behaviour.
The difference being that priests are expected to be celibate, teachers, not.

318

Layman 01.18.14 at 1:19 pm

“And if you choose to indulge in behaviors that the Catholic Church considers immoral (not without reason) then don’t expect a job with a Catholic school.”

If you work for me, and I consider blood transfusions immoral, and you have a blood transfusion, can I fire you for it?

(yes, I know we’re both in the US, where I can pretty much fire you for any damn reason I want, but pretend for a moment we’re in a civilized country)

319

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 4:20 pm

Layman ,

Should I be entitled to a job with the National Organization of women? Should race realists expect to be hired at the National Organization for the Propagation of Political Correctness?

Mark and other biblical books contain *prophecies* of the fall of Jerusalem as a future event (and a prophecy of when it would happen, close to the exact year). none of them include references to it as an event that had already happened. John, in particular, even where it would be germane to the narrative (both in his Gospel and Apocalypse) lacks any reference to the fall of Jerusalem, speaks about the temple as though it still stands, and shows intimate knowledge of details of the city as it stood before the Roman assault.

320

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 5:34 pm

Your idea of a civilised country clearly differs somewhat from mine.

321

Plume 01.18.14 at 5:34 pm

Hector 318,

How convenient. To write about a prophecy after the fact. The bible, both in the OT and the NT, is filled with that sleight of hand.

Mark was written roughly 40 years after the death of Jesus. The four official gospels run the gamut between 70-100 AD, roughly speaking. The writers never met, never knew, never had any contact with Jesus or the disciples. It’s all second, third, fourth hand stuff, and a good bit of the wisdom sayings comes from oral histories tied to a host of prophets and sages.

This, too, was common in the ancient world. Hero-names were often titles, rather than actual individuals, and stories gathered around them that were actually based on dozens of individuals, if not made up entirely. In the case of Jesus, the stories built up around him were very similar to those that followed the dozens of other “messiahs” who roamed the Levant in his day, before it, after it, etc. And the dead and resurrected god comes straight out of Pagan myth, going back at least to Osiris.

Personally, I think Jesus existed, was a man, a Jew, a teacher, a Rabbi. But he was no more a god than I am. Unfortunately, we have virtually no proof that he existed. He was not mentioned by any contemporary historians. And the only one who mentioned him decades later, Josephus, is untrustworthy, and his supposed works filled with forgeries.

It’s all about faith, man. You either believe or you don’t. Cuz there’s not real “proof” one way or another. And “faith” should never be able to dictate public policy.

322

dn 01.18.14 at 5:58 pm

Mao – to elaborate: In the NT there are 13 purported letters of Paul. Only 7 are now accepted by most scholars to be “genuine”. Among the distinctive hallmarks of these 7 are a) an eagerness for the second coming, expected within the present generation, and b) a lack of reference to Church organization or to the idea of “the Church” as a universal institution (as opposed to the purely local assembly). In the other 6 letters, considered to be by one or more forgers, there is something different: the anticipation of an imminent end fades, but there is a new concern for “the Faith” and “the Church” conceived of as lasting institutions. The three “pastoral epistles”, in particular, are concerned with the selection of church leaders who are of good character (described in terms of very conventional morality rather than spiritual charisma) and will be responsible for combating heresies and what you might call “keeping the Faith”. Shepherding the flock, in other words.

There are also hints that the lack of a second coming posed something of a problem even in NT times. The spurious 2 Thessalonians, for example, appears to be modeled on 1 Thessalonians, except that its second half is a wholesale revision of the eschatology of the earlier letter; the new version gives us the famous “son of perdition” and the prediction of a great apostasy before the end, which the writer assures is still to come (so don’t you fall away!). Among the non-Pauline letters the spurious 2 Peter also urges the reader to avoid heretics and directly attacks “scoffers” who are skeptical of the second coming (“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”).

The few sources we have from the immediate post-NT period appear to show further signs of the early development of the hierarchy. Pseudo-Paul in the NT writes of “elders” (presbyters) or “overseers” (bishops) who are not yet clearly distinguished. The purported letter of Clement, probably the earliest non-canonical text known, also fails to make the distinction, but urges its readers to follow said leaders. The seven purported letters of Ignatius, from the early 2nd century, provide the first evidence of the monarchical bishop as the singular head of a community, with presbyters under him, that became the basis for the subsequent development of the hierarchy we know from later history.

Obviously this concept of church leadership didn’t just spring out of nowhere. Tradition has it that authority in the Church derives from the “apostolic succession”, an unbroken line of leaders from the “apostles” themselves. Probably, as the less-formalized authority of the founders of the churches passed to succeeding generations, the institutions of leadership became the way of holding the community together and enforcing orthodoxy as the hope of an imminent end faded.

323

Layman 01.18.14 at 6:10 pm

Hector,

“Should I be entitled to a job with the National Organization of women? Should race realists expect to be hired at the National Organization for the Propagation of Political Correctness?”

Never mind that. Should you be expected to give a clear answer to a direct question, that’s the real mystery.

“Mark and other biblical books contain *prophecies* of the fall of Jerusalem as a future event”

I’d say Occam’s Razor applies. You’re free to believe in the miracles if you want, but using them to counter much more plausible evidence for dates of authorship seems perverse to me.

324

Plume 01.18.14 at 6:17 pm

dn 321,

And that apostolic succession was angrily debated. Sometimes violently. Bart Ehrman does good work on that in his Lost Christianities, which is, IMO, his best work and the one least given to a search for a popular audience.

He notes that that succession was almost always locally based, and that the texts pursued by each may eventually have been cast out of the canon. The winners decided. The losers were almost completely written out of the story.

It’s often forgotten that the term “heretic” was not some objectively constructed thing. It was generally applied by opposing forces in doctrinal battles, hurled back and forth across the bunkers. Who and what was deemed “heretical” wasn’t established, officially, until much later. Roughly the end of the 3rd century. Again, by the winners.

325

r 01.18.14 at 7:19 pm

Any discussion of Christian sex rules, or any such rules, that doesn’t include an analysis of them as breeding program guidelines is just wankery noise.
The nonsense trope that humans are humans and have been since prehistorical when is just obfuscating crap.
Humans can be bred toward qualities, like any other domesticated animal, selected toward qualities, and, equally, bred away.
Toward obedience and acceptance of illogical nonsense, away from independent thought and self-assertion, etc.
Any institution running the who-gets-to-breed-with-whom rules for 1700 years or more is going to be running a de facto breeding program.
-
Solving the who inherits what puzzle, according to Belle, is best done by everyone gets a piece of an evenly divided pie, sized to the generational output. . But of course that’s what happened to begin with, way back, early days of owning things like land and stuff… then, oh.
2000 hectares amongst 10 sibs? 200 each.
And then each one has 5 kids? 40 hectares – countdown continues.
My .5 hectare home place in the Cotswolds, split soon between my son and daughter and their respective families. La, off to the colonies and fresh opportunities.
Same-same for hyphenated surnames. Pomo infantiles in permanent now so it won’t matter that baby great-great-grandaughter’s got x-teen hyphens in her last name. Can’t see the outcome from here.
Everything goes somewhere.
So let’s make inheritance a show on TV!
Like Survivor!
Heir! All New Season!
The heirs must vanquish, they must overcome, they must Dominate!
Thus a return to Darwinian proof-in-the-pudding fitness.
Everyone a winner.
Everyone left after the scuffling anyway.
-
I don’t believe there are grand, -ism answers to these questions. We’ll have to muddle through them. But I think they are pressing today, whether we’re talking claims to Arctic seas, intellectual property rights, or what it might mean that the NSA is taking this comment into its maw.
That whole comment is beautiful, and encouraging.
Every single ism, every seat-of-the-pants let’s-do-this moral response, has a goal.
Stated implied or unglimpsed by anyone, it’s there.
We’re presently not able to state the goal of our muddling ethics with anything like a unified voice. Clearly. So it goes to default.
The default’s the murk and slop of personal survival aggregated into group survival, but we’re now looking at effectively controlling what was once the entirely unseen and unconscious selection of us by a greater hand than the human.
So now it’s a contest to be the God In Charge Of Who Lives And Who Doesn’t.
Thus these austerity pimps rising up, the tightening of group delineators of all type and manner, and lots of other fun symptomologies of blindly confused but urgent something forcing its way into the future.
Including the religiousizing of practical matters – like what form of breeding software one employs, where, and with whom.
Consumer-choice sex isn’t the evolutionary on-ramp it’s being presented as, but hive-determined reproduction isn’t the only alternative to it, either.

326

dn 01.18.14 at 7:27 pm

Plume – of course. I don’t mean to say that apostolic succession was the neat and clean process that tradition would have us believe it was, or they all shared the same “orthodoxy”, or that they were particularly good at enforcing it. Merely that the concepts developed, and that it became more of an issue as “keeping the faith” in the face of the non-arrival of the end became more important.

327

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 7:40 pm

Re: Never mind that. Should you be expected to give a clear answer to a direct question, that’s the real mystery.

If you want a clear answer, then if you work in a job where you’re supposed to be promoting the values of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and then get a blood transfusion, then absolutely they have a right to fire you.

Of course, that clown out in Seattle who had a same sex marriage is somewhat different, because blood transfusions are generally a public act. The Seattle vice principal chose to get ‘married’ to a same sex partner, which is a *public* act, and in so doing makes a public witness of the fact that he disagrees with Catholic moral teaching. If he got divorced right now, he would get his job back.

328

Plume 01.18.14 at 7:56 pm

Hector 327,

What does same-sex love or marriage have to do with “morality”? People are born gay. It’s their biology, same with heteros.

The only reason fundamentalists inject “morality” into the mix is so they can cover for their own bigotry with condemnations based on supposed choice. But it’s not a choice. It’s biology. And bigots know it’s much more difficult to condemn people for that.

Given the fact of all the things your god considers “abominations,” found most readily in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, one would think you would have stopped this cherry-picking farce by now. It’s 2014, for goddess sake!!!

329

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 8:13 pm

Plume,

Homosexual behavior is absolutely a choice, as is heterosexual behavior. Unless you’re raped, of course. We have the choice to act on our inclinations, or to abstain.

Same-sex ‘marriages’ may be marriages in the eyes of the state, but they cannot and will not ever be marriages in the eyes of God, any more than I can marry my horse. And for much the same reasons. They don’t reflect complementary gender roles, with a dominant (usually male) provider and a submissive (usually female) dependent, and they aren’t open to procreation. Thus, they don’t fulfill or reflect what a marriage is supposed to be. I’m not sure what is so difficult for you to understand here. I assume your question “what about straight couples who choose not to procreate!” is a joke, since obviously I think those people are trashing the Christian definition of marriage, and that no church should marry a couple who has no interest in fulfilling the purpose of marriage.

Whether all same sex activity is immoral or not, in general, is something I’m agnostic about, leaning towards probably not. There are various reasonably convincing arguments (to me, anyway) that anal sex (straight or gay) is immoral, though. Specifically, that it doesn’t respect the purposes for which the relevant organs are designed, that many of us (at least at first glance) and most societies through history have viewed it with some degree of disgust/distaste, and finally that it’s a reasonably dangerous activity from the point of view of disease transmission. Of course, not all gay men engage in this activity, and some straight people do (which Christianity has historically condemned as well).

330

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 8:23 pm

Also, my concern for defending traditional gender rolles against the gender-egalitarian fads and fashions of our time is also a big part of why I’m troubled by women priests.

I believe in gender complementarianism, not egalitarianism.

331

Plume 01.18.14 at 8:25 pm

Hector 329,

I haven’t read your posts for that long, so it’s difficult for me to know. But, are you writing satire, or do you actually, honestly believe the things you post?

As for same-sex marriages being okay in the sight of your god. Hmm. Since he doesn’t exist, except in your mind, all we’re talking about here is human beings who say they speak for him, and they change over time, and change doctrine. So, I guarantee you this:

Some day, in the not too distant future — I’m guessing in the next 10-20 years — the church will recognize same-sex marriage. No question in my mind about that.

And, remember what “marriage” was in biblical times and during the formation of Christianity:

A forced “arrangement.” Often this consisted of one man and several women, none of whom had any say in the matter. And those women were often very, very young, and the man rather old. The “traditional definition of marriage” has changed over time, and will change again. It’s now seen as a voluntary choice between two consenting adults, when it was anything but, and that for thousands of years.

Your god didn’t seem to have problem with the virtual slavery involved when it came to women, the multiple wives, the “girls” involved. Of course, one of the Ten Commandments says “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Slave” . . . so this is understandable.

There is no such thing is timeless, unchanging “tradition.”

332

Plume 01.18.14 at 8:30 pm

Also, no, the question about straight couples who can’t procreate or choose not to . . . no joke intended. It’s a serious question.

If the criteria for disallowing same-sex marriage is based upon the inability to have children, then you’d logically be in favor of denying any straight couple the marriage ritual if they can’t or won’t have kids.

You’re not alone, of course, in that inconsistency of application. But it’s irrational to the point of absurdity, regardless.

333

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 8:41 pm

Plume,

Of course I would deny them the marriage ritual. The Catholic church, today, for example, considers a marriage invalid if the two people entering into it are not open to procreation.

334

MPAVictoria 01.18.14 at 8:52 pm

Hector do you ever wear clothes of mixed fabrics? Or eat shell fish?

335

Plume 01.18.14 at 8:57 pm

Hector 333,

Can you link to any official Catholic teaching that says a marriage is invalid if the couple is not open to procreation?

I’m looking for it here, for starters, and can’t find it, other than the possibility that the pope can nullify a marriage if it hasn’t be consummated. Not that he must. He can.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_%28Catholic_Church%29

It is also worth remembering how Paul pushed celibacy, preferred it, and Jesus seemed totally indifferent to marriage, while asking his disciples to leave their families to join him. Jesus never married, as far as we know. And since the foundation of the Christian religion came out of a belief in the imminent end of the world, and that new ties on this earth were unnecessary . . . .

it strikes me as a huge leap to say a marriage is invalid if procreation is not the aim. Paul basically suggested that celibacy was best, but if you can’t control your “passions,” go ahead and marry. The implication was that marriage was license for sex. If you don’t need to have sex, no need to marry, etc.

Again, please link.

336

Plume 01.18.14 at 8:59 pm

MPAV 334,

I listed those before. Perhaps in another thread.

You can add these “abominations,” subject to the death penalty:

Working on Saturdays
Talking back to one’s parents
Saying to someone, “You fool!”
If raped in the city, failing to scream out loudly enough

337

Mao Cheng Ji 01.18.14 at 9:15 pm

Plume, but organized religion these days is a voluntary activity, and it doesn’t do death penalty. Some people collect post stamps, or play some virtual life game all day, and that is difficult to understand too, but how is it any of your business? They are free to define ‘marriage’ any way they want, and to spend their Saturdays as they like, no?

338

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 9:19 pm

Re: Jesus never married, as far as we know

I thought the official line among cultural liberals was that he boinked Mary the Magdalene and sired the Merovingian House. Good to know.

As for the goal of [Christian] marriage being procreation, see here:

“Grounds for nullity include: Simulation of consent; that is, the conscious and positive exclusion at consent by either or both of the contracting parties of one or all of the essential properties or “goods” of marriage: a) exclusivity of the marital relationship; b) the permanence of the marital bond; c) openness to offspring as the natural fruit of marriage (canon 1101§2).”

The Book of Common Prayer also lists procreation first among the purposes of marriage, and not by accident.

Re: Hector do you ever wear clothes of mixed fabrics? Or eat shell fish?

Of course, I’m Christian. Not Jewish.

Anal sex (straight or gay), by contrast, was condemned not just by the Jews, but by the early Christian church. (As was oral sex, for what it’s worth). I don’t know if either of them is a sin or not, but I also think the matter is definitely not clear cut, and reasonable people can disagree.

339

Plume 01.18.14 at 9:30 pm

Mao 337,

No. This is a secular society, not a theocracy. Churches and other religious organizations shouldn’t get to opt out of societal rules, established via democratic process. They don’t get to have a shadow government of their own, though too many spineless politicians have let them to some degree.

We either have anti-discriminatory laws, or we don’t. If we do, then they need to apply to everyone, all citizens, regardless of “faith.” No exceptions.

Now, as for their beliefs. They can believe anything they want. That’s up to them. But they can’t act on those beliefs via discrimination against others. And when they do, yes, it’s “my business.”

Of course, if we were smart, we’d do the following:

Go around them. Bypass them and make them irrelevant in this case. People would be officially considered “married” via state (federal) sanction. A religious ceremony would be in addition to this, if people chose it. Whether or not a particular church “recognized” a marriage would have zero effect on the couple, legally. That church would have absolutely no power over the couple, could not deny them anything under law. All across the country, they would be considered fully and completely, legally “married.” If some church doesn’t recognize this, it would have absolutely no bearing on the couple one way or another. It would be, for all intents and purposes, a silly, empty, futile gesture of condemnation, without effect.

Eventually, they’d grow weary of this and stop their bigotry.

340

Plume 01.18.14 at 9:34 pm

Hector 338,

Grounds for nullity isn’t the same as the church considering a marriage invalid before hand. Nullity is upon request of the couple, or half of it. It’s so they can get out of the marriage. Unless I misread you, the Catholic Church doesn’t start out saying this or that marriage is “invalid” if there is no complaint from the marriage participants.

341

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 9:37 pm

Plume,

No, you badly misunderstand the issue here. Whether one or both party wants to get out of the marriage is, for good reason, utterly irrelevant to whether the marriage is valid or not. Marriages are ‘presumed’ valid as an administrative convenience, but the teaching of the Catholic church is that if you have no intention of being open to procreation, then you aren’t validly married.

342

dn 01.18.14 at 9:39 pm

“I thought the official line among cultural liberals was that he boinked Mary the Magdalene and sired the Merovingian House. Good to know.”

Good God, Hector. And you wonder why you have trouble getting the time of day here. Few things about religious conservatism are more annoying than the traditionalist habit of insisting that “we’re all about Timeless Deep Truths while y’all are just a bunch of shallow, rootless fad-followers.” Maybe consider that you’re on a blog full of actual scholars who, yes, are actually capable of telling Dan Brown apart from a historian, and maybe have even thought a little bit about matters of philosophy and religion?

343

Mao Cheng Ji 01.18.14 at 9:45 pm

Well, first of all, government shouldn’t be in the marriage business. If the government wants to incentivize people to form families, they can (and should) do it without invoking any religious terminology.

As for discrimination, they don’t discriminate. They have rules, essential to their doctrines. Religions don’t serve the public, they serve their followers. You’re free to opt out, any time.

As for the democratic process, if you demos is religious then the demos’ religions will inevitably affect the democratic process. If you don’t like that, I guess you’ll have to dismiss this demos and get yourself a new one, more to your liking.

344

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 9:53 pm

Plume,

I’ll raise your ’10-20′ years, and say this: no one knows the future, but I’m confident that in the next hundred years, the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and most Protestants will not perform same sex marriages. Maybe they will recognize some sort of blessing of same-sex relationships or some other ground (a policy which I would favour), but that’s where it will end.

I don’t know if the Episcopal Church and the Church of England are going to officially recognize same sex marriage, but I suspect that if they do, they’ll split, and whichever offshoots don’t recognize same sex (Christian) marriages will be demographically healthier than those which do.

345

Plume 01.18.14 at 9:58 pm

Mao,

Sorry, but again, this isn’t a theocracy. Religious organizations don’t rule. They don’t get to discriminate based upon their “beliefs.” And, yes, it most certainly is discrimination. If a gay couple wants to get married, and a church denies this, they’re discriminating against that couple based on some silly ancient bigotry. A secular society trumps that nonsense and a good society ensures that religious organizations have no power to oppress others according to their belief system.

Also, it sounds like you want it both ways. You don’t want the government involved, but you do want churches to have power over who gets to marry and who doesn’t. F that. That’s religious tyranny, leaving no way out for those whom religious organizations deny. And since marriage confers legal status, with legal repercussions, government must obviously be involved. Obviously. Since it must be involved, its laws, including anti-discriminatory laws, must apply.

To everyone.

Again, best way to solve the problem is relegate the church’s place to the ceremonial, when it comes to marriage ceremonies. They shouldn’t be allowed one iota of power over American citizens who seek marriage. It’s not up to the churches to confer legal status. It’s up to us, the demos, as you called it — in this system, via the government. And that includes non-believers and people from a host of different religions. You know, pluralism and all of that.

346

Plume 01.18.14 at 10:01 pm

Hector,

Please post a link to actual Catholic doctrine that says a marriage is invalid before hand if the couple is not open to procreation. That sounds too absurd, even for a church.

Again, we’re not talking about grounds for nullity put forth by one or more of the married couple. To get out of the marriage. Your claim is that the church itself does not recognize the validity of the marriage even if the couple is absolutely fine with the situation.

347

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 10:05 pm

Plume,

Why would the desires of the couple have anything to do with whether the marriage is valid or not?

This is really pretty well known stuff, and I’m surprised that you’re ignorant of it, but here:

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/for-catholic-marriage-to-be-valid-couples-must-be-open-to-children-reaffirm

348

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 10:08 pm

For the record, I don’t mind that the government confers the ‘legal status’ of marriage on gay couples. The government can define marriage how it wants. I object to churches doing the same, because Christian marriage is supposed to mean something very specific.

349

Plume 01.18.14 at 10:08 pm

Hector 344,

Well, you’re probably right about the splits. But I think you’re wrong about how that will play out, given the demographic changes sweeping across the world.

Young people are leaving the church in droves, largely because of such teachings against same-sex couples. Even young evangelicals are increasingly bothered by the obsessive gay bashing and discrimination. This seriously turns them off. If that split happens, the only people left in those (rump) churches will be old folks, happy in their bigotry, but a dying breed all the same. You’ll have the beginnings of the end of organized Christianity. Or at least its marginality.

Since I’d love to see the day when we have “no gods, no masters,” go for it.

350

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 10:10 pm

For my part, Plume, I find absurd your idea that a voluntarily childless couple is validly married if they want to stay together, but invalidly married if they don’t.

The whole point of Christian marriage is that it’s supposed to tie you together for life even if you fall out of love, and even if you don’t want to be married any more.

351

Plume 01.18.14 at 10:11 pm

Hector, thanks. I stand corrected.

What a loony “teaching.” And, as with using birth control, it’s likely that it’s completely ignored by 98% of Catholics.

As if they have to tell the church about being open or not.

352

Plume 01.18.14 at 10:14 pm

Hector 350,

For my part, Plume, I find absurd your idea that a voluntarily childless couple is validly married if they want to stay together, but invalidly married if they don’t.

I never even remotely suggested or implied the latter. I sought clarification about your claim, regarding Catholic doctrine. It’s not my view. I thought you were saying it was the Catholic view. That Catholic doctrine allowed for nullity in certain cases, etc.

353

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 10:24 pm

Plume,

The churches that are most dominated by older people, are the ones which tend to be the most open to things like gay marriage. Trust me on that, lots of people have looked into this. I don’t think this is *because* of gay marriage, per se. I think both the demographic decline in the Episcopal Church, and the increasing cultural liberalism, are due to common factors, rather than the one causing the other. (Low birth rates are a bigger problem for the Episcopal Church than people leaving). Nevertheless, it is what it is, and I don’t think the demographics are on your side here.

Having said that, religion isn’t a popularity contest, and I hope that churches will do the right thing (i.e. maintain the traditional definition of marriage as a heterosexual institution oriented towards procreation, with distinct and defined complementary gender roles), whether or not it’s popular.

354

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 10:29 pm

Also, Leviticus and Deuteronomy are rather beside the point here. I don’t think all of the Old Testament is divine in origin, and I certainly don’t think any of it is as reliable as the New. Even if the Law of Moses was in fact entirely revealed by God, though, Jesus overturned and abrogated it when He died on the cross, so it’s entirely irrelevant to anyone today. The problem for the ‘liberal’ side, though, is that St. Paul, St. Jude, and the early church all condemn unnatural sex acts, and the traditional reading of that covered anal and oral sex whether between straight couples and gay ones. Quite possibly they were wrong, but I don’t think it’s immediately obvious that they were, and there is ground for disagreement (and that’s before we even start on the natural law arguments , etc.)

355

Mao Cheng Ji 01.18.14 at 10:31 pm

“If a gay couple wants to get married, and a church denies this, they’re discriminating against that couple based on some silly ancient bigotry.”

If they don’t like this church, why do they want to be married by it? They should go and join a different church. And if they do like this church, then why would they want to get married, knowing that it’s against the church’s rules? I don’t really understand what you’re complaining about here. It sounds like your gay couple is bit schizophrenic.

Now, if what they want is a record in the cityhall’s database and the tax deduction, that thing shouldn’t be called ‘marriage’, and then there is no problem.

356

hix 01.18.14 at 10:31 pm

Rather optimistic to think churches only rely on official legal priviledges to hold power over people. Id go much further to keep them in line than cutting those privileges to overcome their outside legal power to sanction. Getting the quasi monopoly religion under direct government as they did in the UK and some Nordics is quite clever in that regard.

357

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 10:37 pm

Re: Id go much further to keep them in line than cutting those privileges to overcome their outside legal power to sanction.

Be more specific, Hix. I’d love to hear what you would do to, uh, ‘encourage’ churches to marry gays. You might find some good suggestions in the history of Spain under the anarchists (the ones who lived by Plume’s beloved ‘no gods, no masters’ slogan).

The church today is faced with a situation not unlike that which faced Pontius Pilate on the first Good Friday: whether to listen to the voice of conscience, or to listen to the howls of the mob. It is my hope that they make the right decision.

358

Random Lurker 01.18.14 at 10:38 pm

@Plume 352

“nullity” is not the same thing as divorce. The idea is that one of the spouses “cheated” at the act of marriage, and implied that he/she was open to have childs, so that the marriage was contracted in bad faith, and thus not valid from the beginning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annulment_%28Catholic_Church%29#Grounds_for_nullity

359

Plume 01.18.14 at 10:40 pm

Mao,

Why should that couple have to leave, if they like their church except for that one issue? If it’s illegal in that particular society to discriminate, then it must be illegal for that church, too. The church does not exist above or outside the society or the law. We are not living in the Middle Ages or Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The church is subject — or should be — to all the laws of the land. All of them. No exceptions.

Again, this is not a theocracy.

And it’s especially galling that they want their cake and eat it to. To be exempted from the law and taxes. The latter requiring that the rest of us pick up the tab for that exemption.

Again, F that.

360

Plume 01.18.14 at 10:42 pm

Random Lurker 358,

I never said it was the same thing as divorce. Without looking, I’d say that’s the first time I’ve used the word in this thread.

361

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 10:44 pm

Re: If they don’t like this church, why do they want to be married by it? They should go and join a different church

To be fair, I’d prefer if *no* churches practiced same sex ‘marriages’.

362

Plume 01.18.14 at 10:46 pm

Hector 357,

Notice the changes in the four official gospels regarding that day and Pilate’s part in it. From what we know of Pilate, he never would have let the crowd decide anything.

That was clearly included, in Luke first (I think it was), in order to shift the blame from the Romans to the Jews. Luke being the likely origin for the anti-semitism to come. That was an expression/indication in the shift in power away from Jerusalem to Rome for the early Christian church.

363

Random Lurker 01.18.14 at 10:53 pm

@Plume

Sorry, I did misread your comment.

But, another argument:

You think that churches shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate.
Bublic offices usually cannot discriminate because of religion, for example they can’t fire you for being an atheist or a muslim.

Do you think that, say, the Catholic Church should be forced do marry non-catholics, if asked (like, marrying two muslims)? How would this make sense?
If you think the CC can discriminate on people based on their religion, what’s the difference with dicriminating on sexual orientation?

364

Mao Cheng Ji 01.18.14 at 10:54 pm

“Why should that couple have to leave, if they like their church except for that one issue?”

They shouldn’t if they rather stay and not get married. And they should if they rather get married. They can organize their own church: exactly like that one only with the gay marriage. Or you could become the Pope (or Ayatollah or whatever) and make your own rules. Because this is how the rules are made, not by a democratic process. But it’ll take some time and effort. I still don’t see what the controversy is.

365

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 10:58 pm

Re: Do you think that, say, the Catholic Church should be forced do marry non-catholics, if asked (like, marrying two muslims)? How would this make sense?

More to the point, the Orthodox Church will to this day deny communion to an Orthodox Christian who marries a Jew, a Muslim, a Scientologist, or a member of a New Guinea cannibal cult. As is their right. Maybe Plume wants to take that away too.

Re: “Why should that couple have to leave, if they like their church except for that one issue?”

Because the church is answerable to timeless moral truths, not the fads, fashions and whims of its members.

366

Layman 01.18.14 at 11:13 pm

“If you want a clear answer, then if you work in a job where you’re supposed to be promoting the values of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and then get a blood transfusion, then absolutely they have a right to fire you.”

Thanks for the clear answer. In effect, then, as an employer, I may legally and morally force my employees to conform to my own religious or ethical views, on pain of termination? For any religious views I hold? That seems quite a radical notion, if you don’t mind my saying so.

367

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 11:15 pm

Layman,

No, not unless it’s relevant to the job. If you’re working on the editorial staff of The Watchtower, then conforming to JW doctrine might be relevant to your job. Same with a Catholic school, etc..

368

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 11:17 pm

I don’t think a Catholic-owned furniture company has the right to fire a carpenter for being seen buying condoms at Walmart, for example. A Catholic school or publishing house, sure.

369

Layman 01.18.14 at 11:19 pm

“More to the point, the Orthodox Church will to this day deny communion to an Orthodox Christian who marries a Jew, a Muslim, a Scientologist, or a member of a New Guinea cannibal cult. As is their right. “

Don’t you think some of them would really rather burn such people at the stake? In fact, is it not secular authority which reins in such excesses of zeal? And if secular authority can reasonably constrain how religions treat their fallen, why can’t secular authority prevent them from firing lay employees?

370

clew 01.18.14 at 11:21 pm

Belle Waring: I have lost track of what statement was under discussion, but “PENIS and AVOID THE FRENCH REVOLUTION”

(a) is worth repeating

(b) sounds like a good plan for the weekend.

On it.

371

Layman 01.18.14 at 11:25 pm

Hector, I’m confused by 367 & 368. Surely a carpenter, or janitor, or cook, or driver, etc, needn’t promote religious doctrine to do their jobs. Why should a parish which needs to be cleaned dictate the religious beliefs or personal behavior of the cleaning staff?

I can understand they’d fire the priest if he took up marriage, or perhaps dancing, or reading Darwin aloud in the park. But the maid? The cook?

372

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 11:28 pm

Layman,

Well, partly because I think the morality of homosexuality is something on which reasonable people can disagree. And partly because in some cases, hiring someone who has blood transfusions, buys condoms, has a same sex marriage, etc., would interfere with their ability to do the job. This is why I keep coming back to the question of whether, for example, if someone believes that African-Americans are genetically less intelligent than whites, if the NAACP is within their rights to refuse to hire him.

373

Layman 01.18.14 at 11:29 pm

“You might find some good suggestions in the history of Spain under the anarchists”

Good grief! When was Spain ‘under the anarchists’? Why didn’t they invite me?

374

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 11:30 pm

N.B. Such a belief wouldn’t necessarily make it impossible for you to *do your job*. You can believe in the race realist thesis, and also agree with the NAACP about all their policy goals, because science and morality are separate issues. The NAACP would be within their right to fire you, though, because your beliefs might indirectly hurt their brand.

375

Hector_St_Clare 01.18.14 at 11:35 pm

Layman,

I agree about carpenters, cooks, etc., though I’d have to think about it a bit more. A teacher (and more so a principal) is in a different position though. Every Catholic school I’ve ever heard of says that their goals include values formation as well as academic teaching.

376

Layman 01.18.14 at 11:36 pm

“Well, partly because I think the morality of homosexuality is something on which reasonable people can disagree.”

Frankly, I don’t think that’s enough. There are lots of ways people can be immoral outside of their job with no effect on their job performance. They could blaspheme. They could mix meet and dairy products in one dish. They could touch the skin of a dead pig, tossing it back and forth with their child. They could paint the fence on Sunday. They could covet their neighbor’s ass, or his wife for that matter. Why is it just this particular one which matters so much to you?

377

Mao Cheng Ji 01.18.14 at 11:42 pm

“But the maid? The cook?”

They probably have different kinds of employment. Some are like staff members, chosen by strict criteria; others like contractors, who are only expected to do certain functions (like cleaning), with no other requirements.

378

Mao Cheng Ji 01.18.14 at 11:52 pm

“Don’t you think some of them would really rather burn such people at the stake? In fact, is it not secular authority which reins in such excesses of zeal?”

Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if burning and torturing was, historically, initiated and maintained mostly by kings/queens (e.g. Ferdinand&Isabella?) for political purposes, and against the pope’s own inclination. Too lazy to look it up.

379

Layman 01.18.14 at 11:57 pm

Hector & Mao

What I’m asking you to do is articulate rules which can be evenly applied. You clearly want (some) religions to be able to constrain (some) behaviors of (some) employees. I’m asking which religions (can I invent one?), what kinds of behaviors, and which employees. I’m assuming, perhaps wrongly, that you agree there are some religious views that don’t count, some behaviors that can’t be prohibited, and some employees who shouldn’t be so constrained. If you want to argue for exception from legal or societal standards, spell out the exception.

380

Layman 01.18.14 at 11:58 pm

“Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if burning and torturing was, historically, initiated and maintained mostly by kings/queens (e.g. Ferdinand&Isabella?) for political purposes, and against the pope’s own inclination. Too lazy to look it up.”

Well, ignorance is surely restful. Relax!

381

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 12:01 am

Layman,

OK, I’ll concede cooks and carpenters are different. What about teachers, publishers, administrators, etc.? They ‘represent’ their institution in a sense.

I think we can have a civil debate about this, and you make some good points, but when I hear people like MPA Victoria and Plume blather on about ‘bigotry’ and how there is no reasonable case to be made that homosexual marriages are immoral, or aren’t really marriages, then that makes me fear for the future of Christianity all the more, and makes me more insistent on drawing lines to protect the church from the state.

382

dn 01.19.14 at 12:03 am

The issue of the teacher in the Catholic school is actually one where Hector is basically right. It’s a Catholic school; its curriculum includes religious instruction, and its mission statement makes no bones about the fact that they’re out to inculcate Catholic faith and morals in the kids. For that, they want anyone in a position of authority over students to be an exemplar of Catholic morals, since said morals are what they’re trying to impart to their charges.

Like it or not, this is a big selling point for such a school – religious people want religious morals incorporated into their kids’ education, and as things stand they have a constitutional right to that, so long as they don’t try to force it into the public schools.

383

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 12:05 am

Layman,

As far as I know, it’s legal to fire people for touching dead pig skins or blaspheming. MPA Victoria and Plume want to make it illegal to fire people for violating moral teachings about sexuality.

384

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 12:19 am

Plume,

By saying that you don’t think Pilate would have offered to release Jesus on the Passover, you’re basically depending on the accounts of his character in Philo and Josephus. And considering that testimony more reliable than the Gospel accounts, as well as the one in the apocryphal first-century ‘Gospel of Peter’, which exonerate Pilate of responsibility. Josephus, for what it’s worth, we *know* was writing well after the fall of Jerusalem, whereas I would dispute that any of the Gospels were written that late. John’s Gospel makes clear that the responsibility for Jesus’ death belonged first and foremost not to Pilate, but to the Jewish authorities. (Of course, Pilate’s moral cowardice is from some points of view more morally outrageous than the religious authorities’ fanaticism).

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go with the Gospels, and even with Pseudo-Peter, before I trust Josephus and Philo. Even if they were right though, and Pilate had little but contempt for Jewish customs, that doesn’t rule out that he decided to throw a bone to the mob in this case. With tragic results.

On a more general note, I find your attempts to ‘Judaize’ and ‘contextualize’ Jesus to be historically incorrect, as well as incredibly tiresome. If there’s anything that the Gospels make clear Jesus *wasn’t*, it’s a reforming Jewish rabbi of the first century.

385

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 12:21 am

“so long as they don’t try to force it into the public schools.”

If it is funded with tax payers dollars it IS a public school.

“MPA Victoria and Plume want to make it illegal to fire people for violating moral teachings about sexuality”

Damn skippy!

386

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 12:24 am

Re: Damn skippy!

And yet you think it’s OK to fire people for making politically incorrect & unfashionable remarks about gender and race.

Where is your moral consistency?

387

Layman 01.19.14 at 12:28 am

“I think we can have a civil debate about this, and you make some good points, but when I hear people like MPA Victoria and Plume blather on about ‘bigotry’ and how there is no reasonable case to be made that homosexual marriages are immoral, or aren’t really marriages, then that makes me fear for the future of Christianity all the more, and makes me more insistent on drawing lines to protect the church from the state.”

In these examples, you’re arguing that the ‘right’ to their own brand of moral rectitude enjoyed by Christian institutions actually trumps the religious freedom of the individuals who are employed by those institutions. That’s not religious freedom, it’s promotion and sponsorship if the institution by the state.

You want to carve out exceptions to law and practice, but apparently only for Christian institutions. I don’t see you arguing that members of mosques should be permitted to have multiple wives, despite prevailing law and social custom. Why not? Because you’re arguing for state sponsorship of Chrustianity, not for state separation from religion.

MPA and Plume are right to call such prohibitions bigotry. The other examples I gave – dietary rules, cleanliness rules, the commandments – are prohibitions with clear liturgical grounds, yet those apparently aren’t sinful enough to compel employment termination (despite being grounds for actual termination in scripture!) , and you’re not bothered by them. It’s just the gay that seems to rise to that level. Why?

388

SoU 01.19.14 at 12:30 am

@382, re: Catholic schools

I went to a Catholic, all male, high school, and we had a Spanish teacher who was gay ( this was in MA so people were starting to see the light on these issues). Most of us suspected he was gay, told jokes accordingly, but he never, y’know, came out and told us, for obvious reasons. The only reason that I know this because one of my good friends was at the time working out his own sexuality (gay), which you can imagine in an all male, Catholic high school is a very, very difficult thing to do. My friend found the friendship and advice of this teacher particularly helpful in sorting out his confusion re: his sexuality. This is something that would not have been possible had this Spanish teacher been very strictly screened out before hand.

Schoolkids are not some homogeneous lump of clay to be moulded into smooth, identical, dogma-approved shapes. They are real human beings with all of the problems and challenges that come with it. In so far as your discussion on this question is only about respecting the opinions of stodgy church leaders, and not about respecting the well-being and needs of the students themselves, you should be dis-included from any discussion of school policy.

389

SoU 01.19.14 at 12:34 am

also worth noting is that homosexuality has been, is becoming, and will be acceptable according to Catholic faith. it is not a coincidence that people who insist Catholicism is against homosexuality seem to be stuck in the 1950’s in other ways like in politics and gender relations, etc, as well. there is a difference between a true Catholic and a reactionary, even if the latter loves to garb himself in the vestments of the former.

390

Layman 01.19.14 at 12:36 am

dn @ 382

“The issue of the teacher in the Catholic school is actually one where Hector is basically right. “

I’d say he isn’t even wrong. The argument seems to be ‘if it is OK for the church to teach that homosexuality is a sin, then the church can expel homosexuals from their ranks’. If you reject the premise in that argument, the whole thing collapses. Hector can’t see that, because he’s unable to examine the premise.

If the church wants to behave like the Klan, should the state allow it? I think not.

391

Layman 01.19.14 at 12:37 am

“And yet you think it’s OK to fire people for making politically incorrect & unfashionable remarks about gender and race.”

Bigoted remarks, you mean? Why mince words?

392

Suzanne 01.19.14 at 12:48 am

“I understood Mr. Bennett’s estate to have been a tail male, which means his daughters could not have divided it up in the absence of a Mr. Collins. If there were no male heirs anywhere in the descent of the original grantor, it would have reverted to the crown.”

@288: My recollection is that Mr. Bennet’s estate was a fee tail. I could be wrong about divvying it up among the daughters, but that was also from memory and I didn’t bother to check that before posting.

393

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 12:58 am

Layman,

On the contrary, I think religious institutions should be able to fire people for lots of moral choices and behaviours. Not all of them sexual, either.

Regarding polygamy, you certainly should have the legal right to live with four women or men if you want. I don’t think that the state should recognize polygamous marriage, for reasons of fairness: I believe scarce goods should sometimes be rationed, and it makes sense to ration access to women , and men, so that they aren’t all monopolized by a few people. But at a personal level (not a legal level) I’m more comfortable with polygamy than gay marriage. If we didn’t have a 50:50 gender ratio, I’d say polygamy should be legal.

A Muslim organization should absolutely have the right to fire someone who says things like ‘Islam should reform itself to get rid of polygamy.’

394

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 1:01 am

SOU,

Catholicism isn’t a democracy, thank God, and the church based it’s moral teachings on rather more weighty considerations than which way the winds are blowing today.

395

Layman 01.19.14 at 1:02 am

“A Muslim organization should absolutely have the right to fire someone who says things like ‘Islam should reform itself to get rid of polygamy.’”

Exit speech rights, stage left.

Does it not even matter to whom he or she says such things, or where?

396

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 1:05 am

“I believe scarce goods should sometimes be rationed, and it makes sense to ration access to women”

Women are not “Goods”.

397

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 1:06 am

Layman,

Should the Smith college English department should be able to fire someone who says that men are naturally more drawn to, and suited to leadership than women, and that in an utopian society most of the political leaders would be men?

Does it matter that his opinion is, you know, probably true?

398

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 1:06 am

What if the gay teacher had purchased an indulgence ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence

399

SoU 01.19.14 at 1:08 am

@394
i always appreciate your ability to address the heart of your interlocutor’s post, rather than just incidentally touching upon the topics raised with your bleating about select pet issues. it consistently makes for enlightening discussions which keeps threads on-point.

400

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 1:09 am

MPA Victoria,

Yes, they are, in the relevant sense. as are men. do you have anything more morally or intellectually mature to say?

401

Layman 01.19.14 at 1:13 am

“Should the Smith college English department should be able to fire someone who says that men are naturally more drawn to, and suited to leadership than women, and that in an utopian society most of the political leaders would be men?”

Thanks for demonstrating my point @390.

402

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 1:16 am

“Yes, they are, in the relevant sense. as are men. do you have anything more morally or intellectually mature to say?”

Anyone who views people as “goods” would do well to avoid questioning the moral maturity of others.

403

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 1:27 am

Layman,

I’ve never made any pretense to respecting free speech rights *in general.* like I’ve said to Plume, I believe in rule by an authoritarian vanguard party. My concern isn’t with protecting the right of everyone to say what they want, but specifically in protecting the rights of people to defend truth , virtue and morality as I see them. So no, I wouldn’t give feminists the same political rights as I would give gender realists. what is permitted to God, is not permitted to the cow, as the Latin proverb goes.

404

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 1:33 am

‘quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi,’ in the original Latin, which I’ve always found a refreshing way to shut down democrats, feminists and politically correct types.

405

dn 01.19.14 at 1:34 am

SoU – “Schoolkids are not some homogeneous lump of clay to be moulded into smooth, identical, dogma-approved shapes. They are real human beings with all of the problems and challenges that come with it. In so far as your discussion on this question is only about respecting the opinions of stodgy church leaders, and not about respecting the well-being and needs of the students themselves, you should be dis-included from any discussion of school policy.”

Did I say that schoolkids are homogeneous lumps of clay? I don’t agree with Hector’s moral judgments and I wouldn’t send my kids to that school if I had any. I agree with him only in recognizing that Catholics have, at present, the legal right to run schools and to enforce their preferred morals in those schools as a matter of religious freedom. Obviously those of us who don’t share those morals may see this as an offense against the rights of children, but that has nothing to do with the rights of the teacher who was fired, which was the topic under discussion. If your contention is that such a school should not exist at all then that’s another issue entirely – but to legally do away with a parent’s right to send their kid to a religious school would be a major change to religious freedom in the US. (What if the shoe were on the other foot? What if you wanted to send your kids to a school with a liberal policy toward LGBT people but found that this was not allowed?) I’ll add also that I don’t share your rosiness on the topic of doctrinal change re: homosexuality in the RCC.

Layman – “The argument seems to be ‘if it is OK for the church to teach that homosexuality is a sin, then the church can expel homosexuals from their ranks’.”

Well, yeah. So is it okay for the Church to teach that homosexuality is a sin, not in an absolute moral sense but as a matter of legal religious freedom, or not? If so, does this religious freedom extend to K-12 education? Serious questions here.

406

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 2:04 am

“‘quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi,’ in the original Latin, which I’ve always found a refreshing way to shut down democrats, feminists and politically correct types.”

Yep. You told me.

407

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 2:20 am

Then why haven’t you internalized the lesson?

408

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 2:31 am

Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione Hector

409

Layman 01.19.14 at 2:38 am

“Well, yeah. So is it okay for the Church to teach that homosexuality is a sin, not in an absolute moral sense but as a matter of legal religious freedom, or not? If so, does this religious freedom extend to K-12 education? Serious questions here.”

It is in fact legal. If that’s your point, fine, but you’re joining an argument about whether it ought to be, not whether it is.

410

Layman 01.19.14 at 2:40 am

“I’ve never made any pretense to respecting free speech rights *in general.* like I’ve said to Plume, I believe in rule by an authoritarian vanguard party. My concern isn’t with protecting the right of everyone to say what they want, but specifically in protecting the rights of people to defend truth , virtue and morality as I see them. So no, I wouldn’t give feminists the same political rights as I would give gender realists. what is permitted to God, is not permitted to the cow, as the Latin proverb goes.”

Oh, you’re a nut then. In that case, never mind.

411

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 2:41 am

Layman, what would the laws say in your ideal state? Regarding the ability to churches to teach that homosexual acts are immoral.

412

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 2:42 am

Lyman,

No , I am an anti-democrat.

413

dn 01.19.14 at 2:53 am

Layman – Okay, then, should it be legal? Should religious freedom extend to the education of children? Again, serious question. Pluralism is something we all have to deal with; secularists do have to come to grips with the fact that they don’t speak from a neutral perspective on moral issues. Nobody can. That’s why religious freedom is a hot topic.

414

SoU 01.19.14 at 3:13 am

imagine a situation where there are these religious schools regularly practicing corporal punishment, citing the relevant scripture to defend the practice. if the state steps in to stop this, is it infringing on the religious liberty of the institution? or is it protecting the freedom of the children who will no longer be beaten in public? would this banning restrict the freedom of parents to send their children to schools that share ‘their values’, or is it reasonable to expect those parents to not always have schooling options that conform to their beliefs 100%?

Whenever i hear: “we must be permitted to continue practice X, because freedom!”, and practice X is widely and properly acknowledged to be limiting the freedom of another, outsider, group, many people roll their eyes and tell you to f-off for such duplicitous behavior. like (in the american context) with “states’ rights to self-determination” and the issue of slavery/jim crow. or what if say BYU didn’t allow black profesors, because they are seen as lesser in the eyes of god? (this is not an idle ‘what if’ – the mormon church for a long time disallowed black clergy) if the state tells them they have to accept blacks in teaching positions, is this a step to far in infringing upon religious liberty?

if the intolerant aspects of your religion are so central that these sorts of regulations by the public sphere threaten the core of its teachings, then i have no qualms about that religion be incrementally annihilated by the march of history.

415

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 3:19 am

@414

Well and truly said.

416

Plume 01.19.14 at 3:21 am

The battle against gay people and same-sex marriage is among the silliest, most absurd and ridiculous “culture wars”, evah. For sooo many reasons. But perhaps the biggest one is this. There is no chance of any loss for heteros in the process, even if gay people “win.” None, whatsoever.

An analogy:

You love ice-cream. Most particularly, vanilla. There is a really good shop nearby that your frequent, religiously. The owner there, for some reason, has always limited flavors on tap two just three: chocolate, strawberry and your favorite, vanilla.

So, one day, while you were asleep, the owner is struck by this idea that he should start offering more, that more flavors actually exist in the world. So he brings in new tubs of ice-cream. Butter pecan, mint chocolate chip, coffee, cookie dough, blueberry, raspberry swirl, etc. etc.

Yesterday, you stopped by for your usual two scoops of vanilla, and you were stunned to see all the new flavors. You saw the owner standing there, and you started to scream at him:

“How dare you bring in that filth to this store!!! How dare you!! I will picket you until the cows come home and you go back to the holy trinity!!”

And the owner looks at you and then points to the big fat tub of vanilla ice-cream, looking up at you, just waiting for someone to take it home and love it. And he says:

“I made sure none of the tubs comes in contact with each other. Your favorite vanilla is just as fresh as it always was. Here, let me fix up the usual two scoops.”

“No!! All those flavors contaminate my beloved vanilla!! You’ve been warned!!!”

And you march on out of the store, ready to do battle against the hordes of new flavors oppressing you, relentlessly.

. . . . .

See, the thing is, if you don’t want to order some new flavor, don’t. Order your vanilla. It’s just more variety and it can’t hurt you. You lose nothing, nothing at all with the added choices. Ignore them. Don’t look at them. Let them be.

Or is it that you just fear the temptation? Devil’s Food Cake ice-cream, anyone?

417

SoU 01.19.14 at 3:21 am

“Obviously those of us who don’t share those morals may see this as an offense against the rights of children, but that has nothing to do with the rights of the teacher who was fired, which was the topic under discussion. “

these sorts of practices ARE infringements on the rights of children to have a safe space at school, and they ARE an infringement on the rights of the teacher fired. and acting like we can compartmentalize these issues in such a way is in effect a mechanism for silencing certain groups whose issues ‘aren’t currently up for discussion’. we find the call for ‘religious freedom’ to be stronger than the corresponding calls for freedom from these two groups not because one of these freedoms is more fundamental than another, but instead because the first 2 groups – children and gays – have little voice in this society when compared to the outreach and messaging capacity held by religious organizations. outside of this particular historical context, there is no natural or obvious reason why religious liberty is more important than the other

418

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 3:25 am

MPA Victoria,

Are there *any* sexual choices that you think people can be fired for? What about if a Tamil immigrant working for you decided to marry his second cousin? (Assuming it’s legal). this is a practice that Tamils are especially notorious for, and has become a big dysgenic problem in England.

419

Plume 01.19.14 at 3:30 am

SoU 417,

Exactly. Why is it that religious groups, pretty much all by themselves, are the only group that receives these exemptions? Why is that? What did they ever do to earn those exemptions? Right off the bat, excluding all other groups from “waivers” for this or that law or regulation is discrimination, not to mention the discrimination then practiced by the group with the waiver.

It sets up a massive mess of double-standards added to double-standards.

Only way to be “fair” is to eliminate exceptions and exemptions for altogether. Or, give them to everyone, thus negating the laws.

No organization should be a law unto itself. If they’re in this country, a part of this society, they need to conform to our laws, just like everyone else. That, of course, includes zero exemptions for the rich, for politicians, for X, Y, Z.

There is no rational reason to grant those exemptions to religious groups. Especially in order to discriminate against others.

420

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 3:30 am

Plume,

I don’t want churches to ‘marry’ gays, because it waters down and trashes the Christian ideal of marriage. Gays can’t procreate, they can’t demonstrate complementarity of the genders, and there is at least a reasonable argument that they may engage in immoral sex acts.

I don’t have an opinion on the morality of the sex acts involved, but I don’t want to encourage voluntarily childless marriages and egalitarian gender roles among straight Christians.

421

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 3:40 am

Fugite in malam crucem Hector.

422

SoU 01.19.14 at 3:40 am

re: Christianity and gay marriage – they have married men together in the past.
http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/11/us/beliefs-study-medieval-rituals-same-sex-unions-raises-question-what-were-they.html
whether these older ‘spiritual brotherhoods’ (etc etc) are directly comparable to modern same sex unions is beside the point. the classic charge is that marriage is explicitly and uniquely defined as the heterosexual union, and as such any deviations from this model inevitably dilute the status of the true form of marriage. but if we prove that there were, in the Church’s history, myriad forms of interpersonal union, then this charge is demonstrably false, for how else do you explain the perfect model of marriage you so espouse surviving these past 1000 years if it had to coexist for centuries with that scourge of gay marriage?

423

Plume 01.19.14 at 3:42 am

Hector, but it doesn’t “water down” or “trash the Christian ideal of marriage.” As mentioned before, that has changed over time, and adding a new flavor to the mix doesn’t impact the old flavors one iota.

You can ignore the new, easily. No one is forcing you to get “gay-married.” And that would be the ONLY way you could make a legitimate case against it.

As in, if that shop owner told his customer that she MUST order some other flavor beside vanilla.

But that’s not the case. As in, complete coexistence is easily attainable and only one side of the issue refuses to even try.

It’s not too dissimilar to the idea that whites couldn’t share their drinking fountains with blacks. If a black person drank from a fountain, it would have zero impact on the ability of the next thirsty white person to do the same. But it was outlawed for for more than a century after the Civil War in much of the south.

Honestly, you have no rational argument in opposition to gay marriage. None. If you don’t want to be “gay married,” don’t. No one is forcing you to.

424

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 3:50 am

MPAV: your Latin is better than mine, though I can’t say the same of your morality.

425

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 3:51 am

I.e. You quickly ran through the extend of my feeble Latin knowledge.

426

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 4:21 am

“MPAV: your Latin is better than mine, though I can’t say the same of your morality.”

Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur

/those who think of other people as “goods” don’t get to lecture the rest of us on morality.

427

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 4:23 am

Ok that was unfair MPAV. For all I know your personally a moral saint, though some of your ideological views are horrible.

428

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 4:25 am

I would not trust you with political rights , but you might be a fine person in your personal behaviour.

429

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 4:32 am

“I would not trust you with political rights , but you might be a fine person in your personal behaviour.”

Pretty much the same right back at you.

430

dn 01.19.14 at 4:34 am

SoU – Point taken, to a degree. Part of the issue here is that if we’re going to talk in terms of “rights” for kids, then we need to make sure we’re not actually just talking about the rights of grown-ups stepping in to dictate unilaterally what is good for kids. If it’s about respect for kids as unique and autonomous human beings, you might justify restricting them from being subjected to potentially-harmful religion as a matter of rights. Then it’s a matter of where you think this is justified, in other words what sort of autonomy you conclude kids have a right to at what age. On the other hand, if it’s just a matter of protection from abuse apart from the question of autonomy, that’s a lot different and it opens a big can of worms. Is simply getting anti-gay teaching out of schools enough? What about in churches or homes? Do you censor all moral opposition to homosexuality as hate speech? This would go against precedent here in the US, where even neo-Nazis and the Klan have the right to speak their foul minds. What are you prepared to do to stamp out ideas you find harmful and offensive?

431

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 4:36 am

Since we are on the topic:
“In December 2013, in a 6-1 vote, the City Council of Shreveport, Louisiana passed a non-discrimination ordinance which covered LGBT people. The one vote against was a councilman by the name of Ron Webb.

Webb recently introduced a motion to repeal the non-discrimination ordinance.

Transwoman Pamela Raintree turned up to the City Council meeting where Webb’s motion was to be debated, and this happened:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2014/01/18/open-thread-1757/.

In her speech against the motion Raintree said, “Leviticus 20:13 states, ‘If a man lie also with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death.’ I brought the first stone Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn’t just a smoke screen for personal prejudices.”

Webb withdrew his motion, which might just go to show that it’s not entirely impossible for a godbotherer to feel shame.”

432

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 4:36 am

I wouldn’t really trust myself with political *power* either, I’d make a g*dawful leader.

433

Layman 01.19.14 at 4:47 am

dn @ 413

On reflection, I’d say people are free to teach what they want to teach, and that must include churches / religious people. My objection is in giving them exceptions to laws others must follow. It should not be legal to fire employees on the basis of sexual orientation, and if it were not legal, churches / religious persons should not be given any exemption to the law in this manner, regardless of what they teach.

Giving them any such exemption is clearly a slippery slope. If they can discriminate against gays for religious reasons, why not women, or minorities? If they can be exempted from the requirement to include birth control coverage in their employee health plan, why can they not be exempted from including anything at all in that plan?

434

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 4:58 am

Layman,

This has nothing to do with orientation. This whining little clown of a vice principal was fired for his behaviour and his sexual choices. He was offered his job back if he divorced his partner.

A society where a Catholic school is forced to hire people whose chosen behaviour violated their core moral teachings is not one that I want to live in.

435

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 5:03 am

Layman,

Contraception is actually a morally fraught issue (as is gay sex) where there are legitimate arguments on both sides.

436

Layman 01.19.14 at 5:09 am

“This whining little clown of a vice principal was fired for his behaviour and his sexual choices.”

You really are a disagreeable shit, aren’t you? I’ve tried to avoid saying that, but apparently you insist.

437

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 5:15 am

“A society where a Catholic school is forced to hire people whose chosen behaviour violated their core moral teachings is not one that I want to live in.”

A catholic school funded with public money!

“This whining little clown of a vice principal was fired for his behaviour and his sexual choices.”

Where is your heart man! Is it really so small that you have never felt love? You sadden me. I am beginning to think that not only are your politics and ideology evil but your personal behaviour as well.

438

godoggo 01.19.14 at 5:15 am

Maybe his key mistake was not molesting the students.

439

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 5:17 am

Fortunately, Layman, I couldn’t care less about the opinions of folks like yourself.

I don’t actually know that he protested the decision, so maybe he’s not a self indulgent whiner after all, if he accepted his fate with good grace then I admire him.

440

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 5:23 am

Godoggo,

No, his key mistake was getting married. the church offered him the deal of staying with his gay partner, and having a commitment ceremony, and presumably having sex, and doing everything but calling it a marriage. If he’d done everything but call it a marriage, he would have his job today.

I don’t take his side (nor for any employees of Catholic schools who are caught buying condoms, remarrying after a divorce,refusing to bear children, or committing other sexual sins). I do hope he finds a new job, and is happy with his partner. just not in the Catholic Church.

441

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 5:25 am

I don’t see this as any different than the National Organization of Women refusing to hire me because of my gender realist views. of course, I have enough contempt for that outfit that I wouldn’t work for them if they were the last employer around.

442

SoU 01.19.14 at 5:26 am

@430
“If it’s about respect for kids as unique and autonomous human beings, you might justify restricting them from being subjected to potentially-harmful religion as a matter of rights.”
from a prescriptive standpoint, this is actually a very tough question for me, and something i have vacillated about a lot. from the more social-policy standpoint i think we are speaking from here, it is clear that such a strong restriction would be un-enforcible and an extreme curtailment of the rights of parents. still – children should have the option of escaping an environment which subjects them to abusive hate-speech, religious environments included, and we should strive to make this possible. there are a number of children in the US currently who are born into religious cults of various types, at extreme psychic costs, so this is not just a bunch of hot air. but then something like the Catholic doctrine of original sin – while problematic for the guilt complex it inculcates in people – hardly measures up to this because it is a view of the human condition generally, rather than a specific condemnation of a distinct group of persons.

“Is simply getting anti-gay teaching out of schools enough? What about in churches or homes?”
good questions.
first, i want to note that schools and churches should be evaluated differently, as they serve different social functions. schools are primarily and fundamentally there for the cultivation of knowledge and good practices in children. any other aspects of a school’s identity are necessarily secondary to this objective, and therefore i am fully in favor of closing schools which insist on continuing practices in the name of some secondary or tertiary aspect of their identity which impede this primary goal. therefore, churches have a distinct set of criteria.
second – if a church leader gets up every sunday and says ‘gays are going to hell,’ that is their prerogative and should be the target of private action, but not state action. but if that same leader gets up and says ‘gays going to hell, and it is our job to expedite the process’ – well, you bet i would be dropping the wrecking ball. invocations to violence are themselves violent in their effects on the targeted party.
thirdly – the tax exempt status of many churches, in my mind, should subject them to a greater purview of state regulation than other private organizations not receiving the same subsidy. any churches who do not want state interference should also be talking about giving up their special protections from the state, at least if they expect me to really listen. i know that in the US, especially recently, getting tax exempt status is not that stringent of a thing, but my opinions on that matter mimic mine here.

fourthly – and this is the kicker here – i have personally witnessed Catholic schools teach that homosexuality is a sin in a way that does not unduly subject gay students to abuse/psychic pain. i have heard explications of (conservative) Catholic doctrine, from a member of the clergy, which in my mind (and in the mind of others who were much closer to these concerns) were even-handed and innocuous. there is a large space of gray area in this sort of thing, and it should be explored. to act as if ‘don’t persecute people for their differences’ is identical to ‘you can’t hold moral beliefs’ is sophistry of the highest order, and those out in the public sphere making these arguments know it.

incidentally, a school teaching that gays go to hell is a lot less hostile of a space when that same school has a gay faculty member who (actual and potential) gay students can speak to about their concerns.

443

godoggo 01.19.14 at 5:26 am

Or he could have just molested the students.

444

godoggo 01.19.14 at 5:27 am

Troll fight!

445

godoggo 01.19.14 at 5:35 am

Sorry SoU, didn’t notice your comment. I’m sure it was very thoughtful.

446

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 5:38 am

I don’t know if sex acts A and B are sins, SOU, but I’m very certain whacking off is a sin. do you want to forbid Catholic schools from teaching that it’s a sin to whack it?

447

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 5:43 am

SOU,

This seattle dude is welcome back at the school if he divorces his partner and has a commitment ceremony instead.

448

SoU 01.19.14 at 6:11 am

@445
hah, thanks. i realize what im up to here is largely an exercise in futility. exercise nonetheless tho, right? …

449

dn 01.19.14 at 6:13 am

SoU – Thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree with your first paragraph pretty much completely. With regard to your subsequent points:

“schools are primarily and fundamentally there for the cultivation of knowledge and good practices in children” – True, of course, but from the perspective of conservative Catholics “good practices” would include Catholic sexual morality, no? Who decides?

“invocations to violence are themselves violent in their effects on the targeted party.” – Fully agree, no reservations. “any churches who do not want state interference should also be talking about giving up their special protections from the state, at least if they expect me to really listen” – Ditto.

“to act as if ‘don’t persecute people for their differences’ is identical to ‘you can’t hold moral beliefs’ is sophistry of the highest order, and those out in the public sphere making these arguments know it. ” – True. Beliefs about personal morality can be combined with respect for autonomy where the actions in question cause no harm to others – but here again we run into the issue of children’s autonomy vs. the rights of parents, who are trying to inculcate their preferred morality in the children. Always the same challenge; we want to give kids the freedom and support they need to form their own beliefs and meet their own individual needs, yet it’s the parents who are the roadblock.

450

SoU 01.19.14 at 6:27 am

‘“good practices” would include Catholic sexual morality, no? ‘
very true – i guess what it comes down to for me is that i see education as a presentation of the facts, but not inculcation of beliefs.
so the Catholic school should present their case regarding sexual morals, but work hard to not bring undue amounts of pressure, and certainly not coercion, to bear in this discussion. so it is perfectly acceptable to ask of students: ‘what is the Vatican’s view on gay sex, and cite relevant scripture’, or even ‘ write an essay explicating the Catholic view that homosexuality is a sin’ . but once you get to ‘homosexuality is evil, explain why and how’ you have crossed the line.

I’ll admit it is a hard brightline to draw, but i do believe that discerning adults can tell the difference. especially if you are trained as an educator, you should be able to do this. we train and expect our teachers to be able to discuss american politics without unduly inserting their own perspectives into the classroom – we can have the same expectation regarding the presentation of moral beliefs. I have this faith because, as i said above, i have seen it done before.

“here again we run into the issue of children’s autonomy vs. the rights of parents,”

you are very right to bring this up as a major issue, and sadly i have little to say here other than ‘yeah, that’s a stumper’. but part of the reason i support tolerance in school hiring practices is because i think that cultivating tolerant spaces outside of the home is helpful to those who face hardship within the home. i personally found my high school a very safe space, or at least certain parts of it, and i think this is something that should be true for all children.

451

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 7:08 am

I wonder if I can legally fire someone for having an abortion, or letting their daughter have one.

Now that’s the kind of religious exception I could really get behind.

452

CharleyCarp 01.19.14 at 7:20 am

This seattle dude is welcome back at the school if he divorces his partner and has a commitment ceremony instead.

Wait, I thought the line was that civil society could do what it wants, making civil marriage whatever it is that the people want it to be, so long as they didn’t make the church perform the weddings. So what’s the difference between a commitment ceremony and a civil marriage, to the religious institution? I’m not seeing this as a difference society needs to respect . . .

As for discrimination in general, I know it’s not perfect, but the concepts of protected categories and BFOQ have proven pretty useful over the last several decades. A society could decide to put discrimination because of race into a different conceptual category than discrimination based of preference for certain flavors of ice cream, with none but unfrozen caveman lawyers to complain about inconsistency. Obviously, membership in the religion would be a BFOQ for a pastor, and pretty obviously not for a janitor, speaking of another issue resolved long long ago.

453

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 7:26 am

Charley Carp,

That’s *my* line, not the Catholic Church line. I don’t give a damn how the state defines marriage, as long as it doesn’t involve genetic dangers (incest), alter the gender ratio (polygamy), or involve people who shouldn’t be having sex (children). I’ve never voted against same sex marriage. the Catholic Church has a different view though.

454

CharleyCarp 01.19.14 at 7:26 am

451 Not in Montana you couldn’t. Less civilized jurisdictions (ie, the 49 states with at will employment) you have to look at whether the Civil Rights Act applies, or a state analogue. EEOC said 30 years ago that the answer is no, so if you’re bound by that, it’s a no.

If you don’t want to live in a society where these are the rules, you’re more than welcome to try to find a different one.

455

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 7:41 am

That’s extremely depressing, Charley. Though of course I have much more contempt for the doctors who perform abortions than for the mothers, generally the mothers are victims as much as perpetrators, and not fully responsible for their actions.

456

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 8:02 am

And no, I definitely don’t want to live in a society where those are the rules.

457

Plume 01.19.14 at 3:34 pm

Hector,

Did I read correctly that you were a Marxist? Gotta tell ya, I’ve never bumped into a Marxist with your views, even remotely, anywhere. You sound far more like some ancient Tory, a hard-right, High Church extremist, and pretty much the opposite of a Marxist.

Marx being one of the great emancipators in history. Your views, in contrast, lining up with those who would suppress, repress and oppress minorities and the powerless, based upon reactionary religious precepts. From your posts, at least, I would place you at the opposite end of the political spectrum from old Karl.

. . . .

Also, a nice quote for you.

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

One could apply this to same-sex marriage as well. As in, it doesn’t impact your ability to live your life one iota. Why on earth should anyone care if gay people can marry too?

458

godoggo 01.19.14 at 3:39 pm

There are some pop punk bands that I really really really like. Some of them even wore skinny ties.

459

Plume 01.19.14 at 3:42 pm

godoggo 458,

Wrong thread? Or as you might say, “grrrr”?

460

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 4:23 pm

Re: “Race realist”. The NAACP has people who are hostile to their mission and the label Hector choses to apply to them, the label I presume he thinks is the most accurate description, is “race realist”. Also, he wants to engage in “age-disparate relationships” with “traditional power structures”, and… the rest of it.

What do you want clarification on, Colin Street? I’ve been up front about my views on my preferred age range and gender rolles in relationships. Race realists are (broadly) people who believe that there are innate, biological differences between racial groups in terms of physical, physiological, cognitive and behavioural traits. I.e. that race really means something, and is not a ‘social construct’. I am personally strongly in favour of what I call ‘gender realism’, the analogous belief about men and women (which I would use to argue in favour of semi-traditional gender roles).

461

Plume 01.19.14 at 4:33 pm

Hector, your definition of “race realist,” especially the part that says race is not a social construct, but a biological category, is the essence of racism. It’s the fundamental building block and launching pad for racism, just one small step removed from racism full blown.

All it takes to go from your definition to full blown racism is adding the belief in superiority and the natural right of domination of one racial group over another.

It’s not even a “slippery slope.” It’s basically just the inevitable transition from a prelude to Chapter One: Racism defended.

462

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 4:33 pm

Re: As in, it doesn’t impact your ability to live your life one iota. Why on earth should anyone care if gay people can marry too?

You’re wildly missing the point, as usual. A same sex couple *cannot* participate in Christian marriage, any more than a man and a tree can. They’re completely incapable of fulfilling one of the goods (procreation) that marriage is supposed to be about. Nor do they reflect complementary gender roles, the union of opposites.

If Christian churches are allowed to ‘marry’ gay couples, then they are saying that neither procreation nor complementary gender roles are essential to the definition of marriage, and that a nonprocreative relationship characterized by egalitarian gender roles is the moral equivalent of a procreative relationship that follows the dominant-male, Ephesian model. That would be the death of Christian marriage, and it is an evil that I will fight against to my last breath.

Christian churches should, ideally, deny religious marriage not only to same-sex couples, but also to interreligious couples, to divorced people with a living former spouse, and to those who obstinantely refuse to have children.

463

Plume 01.19.14 at 4:42 pm

Hector 462,

You are projecting your extremist, extremely narrow conception of “Christian marriage” onto all conceptions of said.

That is obviously not the way that MOST Christians see marriage. They do not see it as invalid if your criteria aren’t met. That’s just you, and a few hard-line, hard-right fundamentalists. It’s not “Christian marriage” defined. Just your definition of that. And it’s a fringe definition to boot.

Again, if your go back to your Paul, he was indifferent to the idea of marriage, as was Jesus. They thought the world was coming to the end, and it wasn’t such a good idea to become further entangled here, now. Paul preached celibacy, and the only reason he thought that people should get married was if they couldn’t curb their “lust.” It wasn’t about “procreation.” It was about giving official cover for our natural drive for sex. And there was nothing in there about making it all invalid if the couple didn’t want children or wanted to raise them in a unisex fashion.

Jesus didn’t talk about that. Nor did Paul. A few prudish, extremely bizarre “fathers” may have, and that may be fringe Catholic dogma, but the vast majority of the two billion Christians on this earth don’t see it that way.

Just as with contraception, with its 98% adoption rate among Catholics, they’re not listening to your version of Christianity.

464

Plume 01.19.14 at 4:44 pm

And, Hector, I think you know all of that, and are just playing a role of the provocateur here. It’s satire and spoof. You can’t actually believe what you’re writing.

465

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 5:02 pm

Plume,

98% of Catholics (in this country) don’t use contraception. It’s closer to 85% or so. Among those who attend church regularly, between 50%-60% believe contraception is OK. So, still a majority, but not an overwhelming one. (For what it’s worth, I think some forms of contraception are moral, I’m uncertain about others).

Why is it so difficult for you to believe that some people hold themselves, and others, to higher moral standards than you appear to?

466

dn 01.19.14 at 5:02 pm

SoU – “i guess what it comes down to for me is that i see education as a presentation of the facts, but not inculcation of beliefs.” I think I disagree with this, to be honest. Education is about teaching facts, yes, but it’s also about teaching ways of thinking and judging – or else this wouldn’t be such a hot topic.

I agree that religious education can be tolerant and positive when done right; I had a public-school education myself, but I’ve known Catholic-school kids who’ve had experiences not unlike yours. One possible route might be that a Catholic school should make it a point to hire some openly non-Catholic faculty and make it clear to students who they are. Maybe even be required to do so. This would be an excellent way of teaching about religious tolerance and would open the door to dialogue – and if one of said faculty were gay, so much the better. (It might be that conservative parents would revolt at such a requirement – but I think they would have trouble making the Wisconsin v. Yoder defense; unlike the Amish, who consciously separate themselves from all aspects of English society and therefore can justify keeping their kids away from English education, Catholics live in our midst in a pluralist civil society and have to make accommodation.)

In the case in question, though, as Hector noted somewhere back amid all the bile, the teacher in Seattle was fired not for being gay per se, but specifically for marrying his partner, which if he is Catholic would be a conscious and public decision to flout the religious positions on homosexuality and marriage being taught at the school. If the teacher himself weren’t a Catholic that would be one thing, as it ought to be recognized that as a non-Catholic he would not be bound to follow the Vatican. But if he is a Catholic, as I assume is the case, the message this sends to the students is “you can ignore the teachings of the Vatican and still be a Catholic” – which is, in fact, against official doctrine, whether we non-Catholics like it or not.

467

Plume 01.19.14 at 5:19 pm

Hector 465,

Why is it so difficult for you to believe that some people hold themselves, and others, to higher moral standards than you appear to?

Oh, I have no doubt that some people do. I don’t see myself as a secular saint, by any means. But you have yet to speak in terms of any rational form of “morality” that makes the least bit of sense — at least to me. IOW, attempting to impose one’s prudish, repressive, oppressive ideas is not “moral” in the slightest. And the ideas themselves fall far short of that.

Sex, for example, is not immoral, in and of itself, unless it is without consent. Sex before marriage, outside of marriage, is not in the slightest bit immoral, as long as it is consensual. Having sex while seeking to prevent pregnancy is also not immoral in the slightest. It’s the responsible thing to do, and highly “moral” in that sense, if one doesn’t want children. Contraception, etc.

My own personal bias adds a caveat. But I don’t seek to impose this view on others. To me, it’s wrong to break faith, if you’re in a committed relationship, in order to have sex with another. It’s made all the worse if it’s in secret. And this has nothing to do with marriage. With or without it. If you have agreed to an exclusive relationship, IMO, it’s is morally wrong to betray that agreement. But, again, I don’t seek to impose that view on others — and I especially don’t want to inflict some call to a deity to support that. To me, that’s an act of desperation, not morality.

I choose not to break faith. My choice. I don’t want to impose that personal rule on others.

Bottom line: What you see as “morality,” I see as reactionary nonsense.

468

dn 01.19.14 at 5:53 pm

As an addendum to my last paragraph: I refer back to the Vatican and official Catholic doctrine despite the existence of self-identified Catholic dissenters because talking about the official doctrine is the only way to make “religious freedom” work. If every yahoo with his own unsupportable beliefs (of whatever persuasion, conservative or progressive) got to say “it’s against my religion to do X”, we couldn’t have a civil society. No. You have to be part of a community, so there have to be agreed community norms, and if different religious communities are to coexist then said communities have to be expected to abide by their own norms consistently. Either conservative and liberal self-identified Catholics agree on Catholic norms, as a community, or else you have to question whether they actually follow the same religion. If they can’t do that then there’s no reason for civil society to respect “Catholicism” as distinct and deserving of religious-freedom protections.

469

Plume 01.19.14 at 6:45 pm

dn 468,

Either conservative and liberal self-identified Catholics agree on Catholic norms, as a community, or else you have to question whether they actually follow the same religion. If they can’t do that then there’s no reason for civil society to respect “Catholicism” as distinct and deserving of religious-freedom protections.

They don’t agree, obviously. And I agree with you. This makes it all the more absurd to grant them “religious protections.” But, to me, no religious organization should be granted any exemptions to civil law. They aren’t shadow governments unto themselves.

It’s one thing for their members to choose to act according to certain religious principles. But if this comes in conflict with civil law, civil law trumps that. And it especially trumps any and all attempts to impose those religious principles on others. We shouldn’t grant any exemptions for that.

Good example: health care coverage. It was a huge mistake for Obama and the Dems to grant any religious exemptions. Health care coverage is part of one’s compensation package. It is part of one’s paycheck. If we allow business owners to pick and choose what can and can not be covered, we are essentially giving them the right to dictate how workers spend their paychecks. This is no different than a boss telling an employee he can’t cash his paycheck and buy condoms with it, on his own time.

Is that the kind of society we want? If I read Hector correctly, it is for him. But I think the vast majority would be against that.

470

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 6:53 pm

Plume,

I think *religious organizations* should be able to fire people for publicly buying condoms. Secular employers should not.

Re: Bottom line: What you see as “morality,” I see as reactionary nonsense.

Yes, I’m aware. We clearly have very different moral frameworks.

471

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 6:54 pm

Re: It’s one thing for their members to choose to act according to certain religious principles. But if this comes in conflict with civil law, civil law trumps that

In which case, why should the Catholic Church, or any other church, tolerate democratic government at all, instead of calling for a revolution?

472

Plume 01.19.14 at 7:05 pm

Hector 471,

I would have no problem whatsoever with the Catholic church or any other church calling for revolution. But you have to know that they would have few followers, even among the flock. If the flock had to choose, they would no doubt pick democracy over the society envisioned by the leaders of those religious organizations. Fortunately for the rest of us.

I honestly think you overestimate the vector of agreement between the top and the rank and file among the religious. It isn’t there. Most people ignore the stern ravings from Catholic leaders — and other religious bureaucracies. Goes in one ear and out the other. Maybe stays lodged in there for a moment or two on Sundays. But then, poof!!

People live their lives according to far more modern precepts. Though I do have to say I hold out some hope for the current pope. He seems to get this. He seems to realize that being all hung up and obsessed with gay people and abortion is a loser for the Catholic Church. And I love what he’s said about income inequality and the capitalist system so far.

473

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 7:19 pm

Re: He seems to realize that being all hung up and obsessed with gay people and abortion is a loser for the Catholic Church.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/13/pope-francis-abortion_n_4587846.html

The Roman Catholic Church will endorse abortion rights the day they endorse nuclear warfare.

474

dn 01.19.14 at 7:29 pm

Plume – I disagree about religion vs. civil law. Religious freedom is by nature a trade-off: you grant religious communities the right to do their own thing, and in return they grant you the right to do yours. You’re exempt from their morals. They’re exempt from ours. So long as neither of you sees yourself as harmed, this is okay; the only reason the Seattle case is controversial is because there are children involved, so there’s a question of who gets to decide whether children are harmed – you? the parents? the kids themselves?

The problem with Catholicism, frankly, is the mealy-mouthedness going on: the rank-and-file have lots of strong opinions both for and against homosexuality, but the people in charge are acting like politicians – they state and restate the traditional line that gay sex is wrong, but aren’t willing to actually do the dirty work of enforcing this in the parishes (by, e.g., enforcing the excommunication of gay parishioners, as they ought to if they really believe in the official teaching that all mortal sins incur an automatic excommunication). It’s to the benefit of the hierarchy that they remain vague on whether a person is or is not a true Catholic in full communion with all the saints – a Church that’s out to “re-evangelize the West” absolutely can’t afford the kind of ugly schism that would result if they took a hard line in either direction. So instead they just let the internal disagreements fester.

One day it’ll all come to a head and there’s going to be an ecclesiastical bloodbath like we haven’t seen in years. In the meantime, though, those of us on the outside can only watch and wait.

475

Plume 01.19.14 at 7:49 pm

dn 474,

But that trade off would only be applicable if we had a quasi-theocratic state or a full blown theocracy. Religions don’t get to “grant me” anything in this society. They have no power to do that. That was settled for good back in the 18th century here. I don’t have to give a damn about anything they believe, by virtue of living in a secular, democratic republic, in which the church holds no legal power. But they should have to conform to civil law. All of it. No exceptions or exemptions.

No religious organization has earned such exemptions or exceptions in the first place, and its discriminatory right off the bat to give that to them, instead of, oh, say, the Masons or Greenpeace or the NFL.

There is no rational reason to single them out for exemptions.

Plus, all of us, we taxpayer, subsidize them with our tax dollars, which they’re exempted from as well. Not only have they not earned their exemptions, they don’t even pay taxes. Why should we agree to let them off the hook for civil laws on top of that?

476

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 8:01 pm

Plume,

Just to clarify, do you believe that, e.g. the Catholic Church should have the legal right to refuse to ordain women, to marry gays, or to in other ways police the sexual behavior of its members? Or don’t you?

477

dn 01.19.14 at 8:45 pm

And they don’t have to give a damn about anything you believe either. Being “right” about religion (in your own mind) does not, in and of itself, make you or any other secularist somehow more neutral than a Catholic. Religious people have actual functioning autonomous human minds too, you know.

And to say “they have no power to do that, because the 18th century!” is bunk. This is why it’s hard to have any patience with your politics. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean anyone will agree with you; and just because they don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they’re powerless to impose upon you, as any kid who’s ever been bullied for being gay will tell you. The 18th century has no direct bearing on the power of people now living – political and religious ideas have power to the extent that people believe them and maintain the institutions to enforce them.

Sure, get rid of tax exemptions. That’s fair. But to go beyond that? You’re basically proposing that all religious people be declared legally insane, since you think they’re too irrational to be moral. Good luck.

478

SoU 01.19.14 at 8:49 pm

dn @466

re: your first paragraph, i totally agree & think that is a great idea. ‘required’ might be too strong, but im open to positive incentives for sure.

re: 2nd, ignore Catholic teaching while still Catholic – this is what we in the debate community used to call ‘non-unique’
there are innumerable Catholics who act in contradiction to proper Church teachings, on a variety of issues. i mean, that is the origin of the term ‘cafeteria Catholic’ is it not? they are not kicked out of the church for these things – and it is only political overtones which give the gay marriage question greater salience than, say, observance of rules about birth control or amassing great wealth. so i guess what i am saying is – i wont buy this argument from members of the church until there is some indication that it is going to be honestly applied, and that means talking about other ways in which people violate catholic morality, or giving a real defense of how gay marriage is uniquely and specifically damaging to one’s moral compass, in a way that say avarice isn’t. and i get that ‘marriage is a sacrament’ and all that, – but so is the priesthood, and that post has been debased in modern times to a revolting degree and we don’t see a lot of contrition from the vatican about THAT now do we.

lastly, i believe to this day that acceptance of gay marriage is not against Catholic teaching, but in fact a fulfillment of its essence and spirit. i say this because the church has historically accepted gay marriage – i say this because Pope Francis is arguing the same thing – and i say this because i have read the Gospels many times and i understand their message(s) pretty clearly, and there is nothing you can do to convince me that Jesus would have shunned and stigmatized homosexuals for their identity.

plus, the dude spent every night for a couple of years living with a dozen other unmarried bachelors? i mean, cmon now! (/sarcasm!)

finally i just want to add that in general i very much have appreciated your comments here and their role in staunching the decent into Hectorial filth.

479

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 9:01 pm

SOU,

If there’s anything in this thread that’s more ‘filthy’ than MPAV’s witless blatherings (e.g. “Homosexual Behaviour is not a choice”, “Women are not goods”, and other greatest hits), I should like to know what they are.

480

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 9:03 pm

Unless it’s the blatherings about how John’s Gospel was written after 70 AD, because methodological naturalism.

481

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 9:12 pm

Plume’s attempt to Judaize Jesus was pretty filthy too.

482

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 9:13 pm

As was the attempt to justify women priestesses. (What’s next, ordaining donkeys?) Oh hell, this has been a filthy thread.

483

Plume 01.19.14 at 9:18 pm

dn 477,

You’re personalizing this. It’s not about me or my views. I’m talking about established law. It’s not established just for some but not others. It’s the law of the land.

Again, I’m all for protest, dissent, civil disobedience, etc. etc. But that runs along with the fact that the laws are in place and religious groups can’t (or shouldn’t be able to) claim an exemption to them without violating those laws. Yes, they have the choice to ignore them. But they don’t get to do that and claim that they are acting legally.

And, sorry, it’s not bunk to say their ability to coerce others ended in this country, in no uncertain terms, in the 18th century. They had that “right” in Europe for a time. But not here. Again, we never had a Church/State power nexus.

So, again, there is no “trade-off” (of the kind you suggested) involved because they never had the power to offer me something in the first place. They can’t offer me the absence of their coercion when they don’t have the power to coerce under our laws. So, you’re basically arguing that we should give them what they want without getting anything in return.

Sorry. No dice.

484

Plume 01.19.14 at 9:27 pm

Hector,

Jesus certainly doesn’t need my help to be what he always was: a Jew, born and raised a Jew, a practicing Jew, a Rabbi, who based all of his teachings on Jewish sacred texts and commentaries.

Accusing me of “Judaizing” Jesus is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read on the Internet. Almost as ridiculous as your most recent assertion that ordaining women is akin to ordaining donkeys.

I’m guessing you get invites to social gatherings by the score. Not.

485

SoU 01.19.14 at 9:27 pm

dear hector – i am continually surprised to log in to CT and find that you have not yet been banned. i eagerly await the day when i can open up my browser and not find your unsolicited filth polluting one of my favorite forums for discussion. a patient refutation of your idiotic claims would be a fully time job, and a Sisyphean task to boot, because everyone here knows you have little interest in an honest dialogue. i ask that you cease to address me by name in your posts, or expect me to reply to your comments. my inability to adequately ignore you postings here is a personal failing of which i am well aware – but does not detract from the fact that i hold you in great contempt and hope to goodness that the mods here will let us vote you off the island soon.

486

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 9:28 pm

Plume,

What they’re offering you, is that they won’t revolt, besiege the capital, and end up by putting your head on a stake. That’s the liberal bargain.

487

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 9:33 pm

SOU, I await the day when you and MPA Victoria are kept firmly in your place, learn something about the virtues of obedience, and don’t distract the discussions of civilised men with your witless blatherings. unfortunately, I don’t think either of us is getting our way anytime soon.

488

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 9:40 pm

If Belle Waring, John Holbo or others request that I shut up, I will of course do so. See, my moral code, unlike some people’s around here, revolves largely around obedience to rightful authority, and on this blog, Ms. Waring and her colleagues are the authorities.

489

Plume 01.19.14 at 9:50 pm

Hector 486,

Again, they don’t have the numbers. And they’re mostly old and frail white guys in floor-length dresses. I’m not worried.

Not sure how many times I gotta repeat this, but your beliefs are fringe, and they’re not accepted by, or acceptable to, the vast majority of the two billion Christians on this planet — much less the rest of us. Just because some old cranks in the Catholic hierarchy still hold fast to ancient, bigoted, reactionary nonsense doesn’t mean they can marshal enough support to threaten the gates.

490

dn 01.19.14 at 9:52 pm

No, Plume; it is about you and your views. You respect no reason other than your own, so the fact that e.g. Catholics really, truly believe that reason itself compels them (or at least permits them) to believe in God and Jesus and Mary the rest means nothing to you. You simply dismiss them as unreasonable – and if they try to base their morals on what they believe to be reasonable religious beliefs, well, that’s not just unreasonable to you, that’s dangerously irrational! Insanity, IOW. In this you liken yourself unto a god; the Great God Plume’s conclusions about what is right and wrong cannot be gainsaid by any man.

The established law of religious freedom, in fact, guarantees precisely the ability of religious people to maintain their own institutions among themselves, even where it conflicts with the civil power. See, for example, the 1972 case of Wisconsin v. Yoder, in which the Supreme Court voted 8-1 to uphold the right of the Old Order Amish to withdraw their children from school after 8th grade, even though the state’s laws required children to attend until the age of 16. (Justice Douglas’s lone consent argued for the right of the children to speak for themselves and be heard, and you may prefer that position, but as a matter of established law you are simply wrong.)

491

Plume 01.19.14 at 10:10 pm

dn 490,

Again, you have personalized this and you can’t see straight because of that. I must have struck a nerve.

And, no, I haven’t dismissed all their beliefs as unreasonable — though in certain cases, I do see that as the case. I’ve simply refused to agree with you that powerful religious organizations have the right to ignore our laws and coerce others into conforming with the beliefs of those powerful religious organizations. I refuse to agree with you that they have the right to discriminate against American citizens, based upon their interpretations of religious texts or dogma. I refuse to agree with you that powerful religious organizations get to be shadow governments and remain above our laws.

I’ve also repeatedly said that the religious can believe anything they want to believe. That’s none of my business and it’s up to them. And I wouldn’t even think of trying to deny them their own thoughts, etc. It’s only when they take those beliefs and put them into actual, concrete practice in contravention to our laws that it becomes an issue for me. As long as it stays in their heads, cool. Just don’t try to impose those views on others.

492

Plume 01.19.14 at 10:17 pm

dn 490,

Also, notice what you’re doing here. On the one hand, you defend the right of religious people to believe what they want and to act on those beliefs. You defend their right to act based upon their conception of morality.

But, you condemn me for acting on mine. Can’t have it both ways.

Sorry to disabuse you of something. But Christians don’t have a monopoly on “morality” or “moral teachings.” Far from it. I’ve spent my life reading and studying ethics, moral philosophy, social justice, etc. etc. And my reading, studies, observations and contemplation over the course of 50 plus years leads me to different conclusions from those you defend.

But you defend only “Christian” beliefs, and want to deny dissent from them. Sorry, but you are the discussant in this dialogue attempting to act like a god. Not me. I’m arguing for pluralism, secularism, dissent and a multitude of interpretations. You? Just one.

493

Plume 01.19.14 at 10:23 pm

In short, dn, I see discrimination against gay people as immoral. I see the attempt to control sexuality as immoral. I see the attempt to tell women what they must do with their own bodies as immoral. I see the termination of someone’s employment based upon their sexuality as immoral. Etc. etc.

But I’m guessing you wouldn’t defend my conception of morality here. Just the one you agree with.

And that rips the rhetorical curtain down, exposing you for what you are.

494

dn 01.19.14 at 10:24 pm

SoU – Thanks for your kind words.

With regard to “cafeteria Catholicism”, I of course agree that there are some serious problems there beyond homosexuality, and I honestly don’t know how to deal with them as a matter of policy. I think it’s an inherent problem of religious freedom; what to do when you find yourself dealing with a religious community that won’t police itself? How can you take on yourself the position of being the judge of a community to which you don’t belong? Again, I don’t have any answers.

Re: acceptance of gay marriage in the RCC – I again have to confess that I just don’t see it. I’m aware of e.g. the work of John Boswell about medieval same-sex unions, but also am under the impression that his conclusions are extremely controversial in the academy, if not rejected outright. Likewise my impression is that Pope Francis has been walking a very fine line between creating an impression of greater welcoming-ness to same-sex-oriented people in the Church while also expressly maintaining the position of Benedict and JPII on the morality of gay sex acts. I simply don’t see a route for change to happen, so I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

With that I think we’ve pretty much said everything that can be said here, so I’ll bow out before Hector gets any more unbearable. Thanks again for a good conversation.

495

dn 01.19.14 at 10:30 pm

Plume – Three straight multi-paragraph posts! Who’s struck a nerve here? Of course, you haven’t paid the slightest attention to anything I’ve said on this thread, or you’d recognize that you are arguing with a 500-foot-tall straw man.

Until another time, sir.

496

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 10:31 pm

“In short, dn, I see discrimination against gay people as immoral. I see the attempt to control sexuality as immoral. I see the attempt to tell women what they must do with their own bodies as immoral. I see the termination of someone’s employment based upon their sexuality as immoral. Etc. etc.”

Damn skippy!

497

roy belmont 01.19.14 at 10:34 pm

The established law of religious freedom, in fact, guarantees precisely the ability of religious people to maintain their own institutions among themselves, even where it conflicts with the civil power. See, for example…
Waco, and the firebombing of the Branch Davidian compound.

498

Plume 01.19.14 at 10:38 pm

dn,

Please reread the following. Talk about straw men.

No, Plume; it is about you and your views. You respect no reason other than your own, so the fact that e.g. Catholics really, truly believe that reason itself compels them (or at least permits them) to believe in God and Jesus and Mary the rest means nothing to you. You simply dismiss them as unreasonable – and if they try to base their morals on what they believe to be reasonable religious beliefs, well, that’s not just unreasonable to you, that’s dangerously irrational! Insanity, IOW. In this you liken yourself unto a god; the Great God Plume’s conclusions about what is right and wrong cannot be gainsaid by any man.

Seriously, the description above is so wildly off base, it’s a wonder you could get through it without laughing. Reading it again now, I know I can’t.

499

Consumatopia 01.19.14 at 10:39 pm

There’s a basic asymmetry in which the secular are exempt from specifically religious requirements (being forced to pray or pay tithes) while the religious can claim an exemption from the law in general, whether or not that law has any religious or anti-religious motivation. I’m not sure why we keep talking about firing a gay teacher, the Supreme Court has upheld, unanimously, what seems to me a far more egregious use of religious exemption–firing a teacher on medical leave then claiming a ministerial exemption because that teacher spent a small portion of their time on religious duties. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosanna-Tabor_Evangelical_Lutheran_Church_and_School_v._Equal_Employment_Opportunity_Commission

No one can claim a neutral view. But that doesn’t mean that no laws are neutral. Those who wrote the law establishing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had no animus towards religion or apparent desire to advance any atheistic doctrine. But the First Amendment still gives religious believers an exception to it and lots of other laws (back in 2006 the NY Times had a good series on this: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/business/churchstate.html Tax deductions are the least of it).

This issue will come to a head eventually. Either some religious organizations will push too far in claiming employees as ministers (e.g. a hospital making all of their nurses into ministers, a factory putting ministers on the assembly line) or we’ll see a proliferation of new kinds of religions so that people who don’t believe in God could still claim such exemptions. (If the Supreme Court is hesitant to decide which employees are actual ministers, they would surely be even more averse to deciding which religions are actual religions.) The First Amendment will likely remain intact, but I think Congress will likely roll back some of the laws that go even further than the First Amendment( e.g. RFRA).

500

MPAVictoria 01.19.14 at 10:50 pm

“SOU, I await the day when you and MPA Victoria are kept firmly in your place, learn something about the virtues of obedience, and don’t distract the discussions of civilised men with your witless blatherings. unfortunately, I don’t think either of us is getting our way anytime soon.”

Ha! I would LOVE to see you try and put me in “my place” Hector.

501

Plume 01.19.14 at 10:52 pm

Consumatopia 499,

The real breakthrough would be if the courts had to adjudicate the basis/foundation for any religion before handing out special privileges. Like something out of Miracle on 34th Street, when they had to “prove” whether or not Santa Claus existed.

Religion is pretty much exempted from requirements of empirical proof, though I can’t see any rationale for that exemption. That we would even think of basing public policy on something so devoid of actual “evidence” is passing strange.

Anyway . . . so what if religious organizations were required to prove their legitimacy in court, before being granted exemptions and exceptions to our laws?

None of the three Levantine monotheisms would pass the test. Other religions, such as Buddhism, which require no recourse to miracles, miraculous births, miraculous origins, etc. etc. would be okay. Most likely. They could show that their Ways are consistent as philosophical practice, without reference to deities. But the three monotheisms rely far too much on the supposed “authority” of a higher being or three.

“You must do this!”
“Why?”
“Because your god says so.”

That wouldn’t cut it in a truly objective court.

502

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 11:29 pm

Plume,

Why am I supposed to care about your morals? Especially when they involve silliness like ‘telling women what to do with there bodies is immoral.’ do you think it’s immoral to tell a five year old to eat there broccoli?

503

Plume 01.19.14 at 11:36 pm

Hector 502,

Talk about silly. You want to try to equate forcing women to give birth against their will with telling a child to eat their broccoli? Are you drunk?

504

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 11:41 pm

MPAV: Your sneering at the concept of obedience to your moral superiors is really giving me a great impression of your moral and intellectual maturity. Not.

This is exactly why I’m troubled by the idea of a world in which folks like you get to vote and enjoy other political privileges.

505

Michael Harris 01.19.14 at 11:44 pm

Shorter Hector: Telling women. Just like telling a five year old.

506

Hector_St_Clare 01.19.14 at 11:45 pm

Not really, Plume. The duties of a woman to her unborn child, even at the embryo stage, are surely far more important than eating ones broccoli, so I’d consider her will in the matter much more trivial than I would the child’s feelings about broccoli. I should expect any civilised and moral people , at least if they are Christians, to agree.

Of course, we live in an age which talks a lot about fashionable buzzwords like ‘women’s right to choose’ and ‘autonomy’ and other things that are neither particularly interesting not consequential to the issue.

507

Michael Harris 01.19.14 at 11:52 pm

See my comment elsewhere on Poe’s Law meets Turing Test.

508

Lynne 01.20.14 at 12:04 am

Corey Robin! Are these really the kind of comments you want to allow in your thread?

@ 504 “MPAV: Your sneering at the concept of obedience to your moral superiors is really giving me a great impression of your moral and intellectual maturity. Not. “

@ 482 “As was the attempt to justify women priestesses. (What’s next, ordaining donkeys?)”

@502 “Why am I supposed to care about your morals? Especially when they involve silliness like ‘telling women what to do with there bodies is immoral.’ do you think it’s immoral to tell a five year old to eat there broccoli?”

I have a pretty high tolerance of Hector St. Clare but this is too much.

509

Hector_St_Clare 01.20.14 at 12:08 am

Lynne,

I thank you for your tolerance, but I believe strongly that these are exactly the sort of comments that feminists need to hear over and over again, until it subconsciously undermines their feminist worldview.

510

Hector_St_Clare 01.20.14 at 12:10 am

If the proprietors of this blog, includeing Mr. Robin want me to stop remarking on gender related threads, I will certainly defer to their authority.

511

js. 01.20.14 at 12:10 am

I am also a bit surprised that HSC is allowed to post what he does here. In general, I’m a big fan of CT’s relatively lax policy re banning commenters, but the extent to which HSC continually derails threads and regularly posts straight-up obnoxious shit seems egregious. (And, Hector, I’ll thank you to not respond to this, since it’s not directed at you in the relevant sense.)

512

Michael Harris 01.20.14 at 12:14 am

Shorter Hector: how to undermine a feminist worldview? Compare women priests to donkeys! Boom-boom! I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.

513

Consumatopia 01.20.14 at 12:16 am

“I believe strongly that these are exactly the sort of comments that feminists need to hear over and over again, until it subconsciously undermines their feminist worldview.”

Surely if there is any line to be crossed this has to go over it–a declaration of intent to not to discuss, reason or argue, but simply repeat oneself until your opponent submits. That’s not even trolling, that’s simple harassment. It’s just noise.

514

Henry 01.20.14 at 12:39 am

Hector St Clare – you are now banned permanently from commenting at Crooked Timber. Any further comments from you will be deleted immediately.

515

Michael Harris 01.20.14 at 12:40 am

And peace was restored to the valley and the villagers did rejoice.

516

Lynne 01.20.14 at 12:59 am

Henry, I’m glad someone was listening. I feel strange that my comment resulted in Hector being permanently banned, though.

517

Michael Harris 01.20.14 at 1:12 am

I don’t think it was your comment in isolation, Lynne, if that’s any comfort.

518

SoU 01.20.14 at 1:21 am

Lynne @516. don’t feel bad – i for one thank you for calling attention to the mods and getting some action on this. i’m pretty certain i am not alone in this.

519

godoggo 01.20.14 at 1:38 am

Of course I trust he won’t be followed elsewhere now. Of course he won’t.

520

godoggo 01.20.14 at 1:39 am

Because that would be insane.

521

Lynne 01.20.14 at 1:46 am

Michael Harris and SoU, thanks! I’m sure it wasn’t only my comment that got him banned. I’m nobody here! And I don’t feel bad, just strange. But it’s passing.

522

Corey Robin 01.20.14 at 2:40 am

Sorry, folks, I hadn’t reading this thread for a few days. Many thanks to Henry for sorting this out, and to others for calling things to our attention. This was definitely not the first time we’ve had this problem.

523

Henry 01.20.14 at 2:49 am

Yes, as Corey notes, this has been a long term problem, so Lynne should not feel bad.

524

JanieM 01.20.14 at 3:21 am

It’s like the fever finally broke.

525

Meredith 01.20.14 at 5:09 am

We need Hilary Mantel to resolve all the disputes here, but oh no! The Mirror and the Light delayed by her The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher!

526

godoggo 01.20.14 at 5:25 am

You know, when Hector used to hang at Yglesias in the glory days when y’all were ever bragging about how superior you were instead of bitching about how the comments were going down the tubes (please), there was a guy who called himself fostert who would go on these long amazing manic-phase rants about Thai prostitutes and Russian gangsters and acing the engineering gre on acid before taking a breath to tear every rightwinger a new asshole, and he’d defend Hector to the hilt. Now I see his name pop up occasionally here and there, well, not here of course, but anyway nowadays it’s always concise and controlled. I miss those amazing rants.

527

MPAVictoria 01.20.14 at 11:06 am

“I miss those amazing rants.”

Go find them somewhere else.

528

Ronan(rf) 01.20.14 at 1:23 pm

So there have been a small group of eccentrics making the same argument online, over and over again, for the last 10 years? Were they all going for the job Yglesias got?

529

Ronan(rf) 01.20.14 at 1:36 pm

I would say I’d be *sceptical* of someone claiming, online, to have any deep links to the Russian mob (!!) and anyone I’ve known who has ‘relocated’ to Thailand has generally been a not exactely romantic figure.
I like ‘eccentrics living on the margin’ (0r whatever) as much as the next man, but this all seems a little feigned. A lot of these people spend a lot of time trying to get themselves out of the hell they’ve dug themselves into. They dont exactely take to boasting at Matt Yglesias’ place. Its all very Mark Ames like – overwrought, nasty, put on ..

530

godoggo 01.20.14 at 5:08 pm

But never mind fostert, although he really was that entertaining. The post is that the endless talk of the quality of comments one finds here implies that it wasn’t always a sewer. This is wrong.

531

godoggo 01.20.14 at 5:09 pm

point

532

MPAVictoria 01.20.14 at 5:47 pm

” The post is that the endless talk of the quality of comments”
Endless? I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

” implies that it wasn’t always a sewer. This is wrong.”
A sewer? Well sorry we don’t live up to your high expectations godoggo.
/Sheesh

533

godoggo 01.20.14 at 5:52 pm

What do have to do around here to get a) banned and b) left the fuck alone?

534

Chris 01.20.14 at 10:51 pm

Well, that escalated quickly.

I have long thought that he believed what he believed with a sincerity and zeal that I for one found, on occasion, genuinely alarming. But maybe I shouldn’t criticize someone who can no longer respond in this forum.

If anyone is still paying attention to the original topic, worrying about injustices in the inheritance laws for titles of nobility seems a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic — the bigger problem is still going to be there regardless of your efforts.

535

Manta 01.21.14 at 5:10 pm

Would it be possible and wise to have a cap on the amount of comments a single person can make on a thread?

Something like: at most 5 comments, plus 1 every 50 other comments?

536

Plume 01.21.14 at 5:31 pm

Manta 535,

Why? In good conversations in the real world, that kind of cap would pretty much shut it down.

Some of these threads go into the hundreds. So you want to ban virtual simulations of (nearly) real-time talk?

If the number of posts per bothers you, skip them. It’s not rocket science.

537

godoggo 01.21.14 at 5:50 pm

“I would say I’d be *sceptical* of someone claiming, online, to have any deep links to the Russian mob (!!)”

Who said anything about “deep?” I find that if you go to places with lots of gangsters you tend to cross paths with them, and also that weird shit tends to happen. However, I haven’t been everywhere and done everything, unlike some people.

538

Ronan(rf) 01.21.14 at 5:54 pm

fair enough godoggo, i misread you. though i’d assume you’re probably right on your 530, but that’s just nostalgia, I guess

539

TM 01.21.14 at 7:09 pm

It seems to me that HSC could have remained trapped in this thread indefinitely, as long as there was no chance of escape.

540

Barry Freed 01.21.14 at 11:10 pm

I remember fostert rather fondly, thanks for the reminder godoggo. I also welcome this latest development. I’ll leave it at that.

541

Manta 01.22.14 at 12:50 pm

Plume @536,
no offence meant (well, OK, a bit), but you are evidence B of why it would be a good policy.

542

Katherine 01.22.14 at 9:11 pm

Geez, I just saw elsewhere that Hector has been banned. Halle-fucking-lujah. It’ll be nice to have interesting debate without wondering when Hector’s going to blunder in and insult me.

543

Lynne 01.22.14 at 9:44 pm

Katherine, it happened in this thread, 514, after a few particularly blatant insults.

544

Katherine 01.22.14 at 11:28 pm

Sorry, I wasn’t clear Lynne. Belle mentioned it had happened, and I hunted around a bit to see where and why. And here it was. I had bowed out of this thread a while back so hadn’t seen it.

545

Eimear Ní Mhéalóid 01.23.14 at 8:06 pm

To hark back to fee tails; as I understand it, and to vastly oversimplify, the England-and-Wales 1925 Act “abolished” them in the sense that no new ones could be created, other than as a trust, and existing ones would continue as trusts instead. So the land and house of Belle’s mother’s friend’s family was probably in such a trust.
In former times these land settlements could be broken with the consent of the next heir, as featured in several Georgette Heyer books. Usually they did so to release some money and promptly resettled it again.
In Ireland fee tails existed up until 2009 although they could easily be barred unilaterally. I have personally had to deal with one in my work: we were afraid that like the rest of the Irish estate it had been blunderingly converted into a base fee but fortunately the property had been omitted from the disentailing assurance and could be dealt with fairly simply by appointing a new trustee of the 1928 marriage settlement. (Probably no-one will read this comment but who knows.)
One further appearance of entails in fiction; in Susan Howatch’s Cashelmara, one plot point is that the particular estate involved is not covered by the then existing 19th century methods of barring the entail. This of course is a stand in for the plot’s being based on the lives of Edwards I, II and III of England.

546

LizardBreath 01.23.14 at 8:33 pm

Also Felix Holt, which I coincidentally read during law school while I was taking Property. It was terribly satisfying having the legal bits of the plot make perfect sense.

547

Eimear Ní Mhéalóid 01.23.14 at 8:45 pm

I haven’t read that, and will check it out.
I had a strange moment recently, when reading a set of title documents I came across a copy letter written by myself 10 years previously (when I used to work for a different firm). The letter was responding to a query and explained that the Duke/ Marquis/ Earl of Whatsit would sign deeds or whatever simply as “Whatsit”. Of course the real reason I knew this already and didn’t have to embarrassingly have it explained by my client, Lord Whatsit, was thanks to various works of fiction. Anyway my letter (deliberately pompous to avoid further enquiries) had been dutifully copied and added to the title documents for each of a bunch of holiday cottages.

Comments on this entry are closed.