March for choice in April

by Eszter Hargittai on November 12, 2003

A March for Freedom of Choice is being organized by several big organizations for this coming April in DC. There’s a Meet-up day next week for those interested in getting involved.

Salon has an informative piece today about some of the bills in the pipeline that would curtail abortion rights. If you’re not yet really concerned about the state of reproductive rights in the U.S. then go read it. And see you in DC on April 25th.

Today in Instapunditry…

by Ted on November 12, 2003

we learned that opponents of the Iraq war are unpatriotic ghouls who are glad when Americans die.

I actually got several variations on this theme, from antiwar types who always seem glad when people die in Iraq, so long as they’re Americans or our allies. They’re usually the same people who puff up if you “question their patriotism.”

I don’t question it. They’ve put its existence beyond question by wishing for America to lose.

Oh Brave New Media, that has such Pundits in it!

(via Matthew Yglesias)

P.S. Oh, and don’t try to excuse it by saying “he wasn’t talking about everyone who opposed the war.” Glenn Reynolds and Lt. Smash have taught me to see right past that kind of tricksiness.

Televising philosophy

by Chris Bertram on November 12, 2003

I’ve just happened upon a “piece in Guardian on the difficulties of televising philosophy”:,12241,1077474,00.html . It is full of interesting anecdotes about the attempts that have been made.

bq. The director took him to Richard Rogers’ Lloyd’s Building in London and filmed him going up and down the escalators while he expatiated about Plato. When I met Rorty recently, I asked why they shot him there. “I have no idea,” he said. “It had nothing to do with what I was talking about so far as I could tell.”

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8:00- 9:30 Breakfast (check ticket for meal time)

9:45: (Deck 2) Two Minute Sneer: Joseph Wilson, long-haired “Ambassador” (led by Jonah Goldberg)

10:00 (Lounge 1) Seminar:

Charges of Anti-Semitism = Real Ultimate Power!

Criticism of anti-Semitism isn’t just for criticizing anti-Semites anymore. The National Review has been a pioneer in aggressively pursuing charges of anti-Semitism, which can be an essential part of a conservative media strategy to get through the filter of the liberal media.

Many people feel uncomfortable accusing others of anti-Semitism without real evidence. We can help! Criticizing Israel, using the term “neo-conservatives”, opposing the war in Iraq, being French: Joel Mowbray and Donald Luskin will show you how these offenses (and many more) can be labeled “anti-Semitism” for a powerful rhetorical punch.

Donald Luskin also has a few tips on accusing a Jewish person of anti-Semitism without giggling.

(Note: Rod Dreher will fill in for Donald Luskin, after last night’s unpleasantness)

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Sex selection banned in the UK

by Chris Bertram on November 12, 2003

The Guardian “reports that”:,2763,1082860,00.html

bq. Selecting the sex of a child is to be banned in the UK after a consultation exercise found the public outraged by the idea.

This is a recommendation from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to the British government and admits of some exceptions to cover families with sex-specific genetic disorders. The HFEA chairwoman, Suzi Leather expressed the body’s reasoning:

bq. We are mindful of their far-reaching nature. Nevertheless, it is clear that there is a substantial public consensus against sex selection for social reasons. We are not persuaded that the likely benefits of permitting sex selection for social reasons are strong enough to sustain a policy to which the vast majority are overwhelmingly opposed.

I don’t know whether there are other, good reasons, for banning sex selection, but I do believe that the reasons as stated are outrageous. The HFEA is arguing (and the Secretary of State is agreeing) that acts should be prohibited where a majority opposes them unless permitting those acts would have definite benefits for society at large. But this is to get the burden of proof completely the wrong way round. Whatever majorities think about some aspect of individual conduct, in a liberal society it has to be clearly demonstrable that an action would be _harmful_ if prohibition is to be justified. No such justification has been produced.

A rose by any other name

by Maria on November 12, 2003

Daniel Davies lives in the south east of England and likes Brahms.

There, I’ve said it.

Now, how much could I be fined for breaking data protection law? If I also mention that, perhaps, one of Daniel’s legs is longer than the other, or that he’s a poor sleeper (invoking protections for sensitive medical data), I may be liable for a 450 euro fine.

Sounds crazy? Well, the European Court of Justice handed down last week a ruling about a Swedish parish council that should put the fear of god into bloggers who make comments about us Europeans and our hobbies.

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Greatest Marxists redux

by Chris Bertram on November 12, 2003

Norman Geras has some further thoughts on the “greatest Marxists” question discussed below. Norm’s list set off a train of thinking last night as I noticed how many of the books “he lists in his latest post”: are “meta-” studies: books agonizing about the Marxist method or about the history of Marxism by Marxists. Surely it can’t be right that the best examples of Marxist thought are not attempts to think about the world using the resources of Marxism, but rather Marxist books about Marxist thinking? Norm’s cricketing interests led him to mention C.L.R. James’s “Beyond a Boundary”: , but the book by James that I most value is his study of the slave revolt in Haiti, “The Black Jacobins”: — a work of history. So where are all the historians on our lists? E.P. Thompson, Albert Soboul, Christopher Hill et al? A striking and unwarranted omission by all of us.

Leiter’s criticism of Solum

by Micah on November 12, 2003

Apparently, some of the panelists at the Rawls conference were unhappy with Larry Solum’s coverage. Brian Leiter voices their “criticisms”: and adds some of his own. Leiter’s main concern is

bq. whether it’s fair to presenters to translate their ideas and arguments, and then present them to potentially thousands of students and faculty elsewhere via a blog. It is [fair] if one is consistently on the money, as Solum was in the session on public reason. But it’s unfair, and does a disservice, when the accounts produce the kinds of [negative] reactions from presenters quoted above.

Solum has “replied”: to this criticism in what I think is a thoughtful and, to my mind, persuasive post. Those who take issue with his coverage can certainly write to him about it. I’ve never seen Solum shy away from objections to what he writes, and I have no doubt, as he says in his reply, that he would engage the merits of any serious criticism.

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Rhetorical Moderation for Thee…

by Kieran Healy on November 12, 2003

But not for me. David Bernstein today:


Soros believes that a “supremacist ideology” guides this White House. He hears echoes in its rhetoric of his childhood in occupied Hungary. …

Yes, the Nazis were at war, and the United States is now at war. … What all this has to do with a “supremacist ideology” in today’s U.S. is beyond me, and I’m sure beyond Soros as well. Just goes to show that the fact that someone is a brilliant businessman and philanthropist doesn’t mean he always exhibits common sense.

David Bernstein yesterday:

bq. But my ultimate concern is that the radical Left would like to bring to society as a whole the kind of authoritarianism they are constantly trying to, and sometimes succeeding in, bringing to universities … [their] ultimate goal, to be achieved through “harassment” law, hate speech rules, and changes in First Amendment jurisprudence, is to have the government enforce PCism throughout society. … By 2003, Robert Martin, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Western Ontario, commented that he increasingly thinks that “Canada now is a totalitarian theocracy.”

Just goes to show that [fill in the blank yourself]. On mature recollection, Bernstein has edited his post to tone down — I mean, clarify — its more wild-eyed bits, in response to several critical comments.