The Crowhill Weblog - Content

Views and opinions on the news, culture, politics, beer, art, science, education, religion and ethics

Sites endorsed by Crowhill:
Crowhill Publishing
The Krehbiel Report on Publishing@gregkrehbiel

Someone like Putin!

by Greg Krehbiel on 17 August 2017

I find this really funny. What every dictator needs.

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-17  ::  Greg Krehbiel

“Righteous Lot” and Robert E. Lee

by Greg Krehbiel on 17 August 2017

Lot never struck me as a good character. When the men of Sodom wanted to rape the visiting angels, Lot offered his daughters to the men.

That’s disgusting. Maybe he viewed his daughters as his property. Or … I don’t know what he was thinking, but he’s hardly a hero in my book.

A similar story happens in Judges 19, where a hospitable old man offers his virgin daughter and his guest’s concubine to a band of homosexual rapists. The guest ends up giving over his concubine, and the men rape her to death.

It’s disgusting stuff, and it probably shows that, back then, certain women were viewed as property, to be disposed of as the men decided.

So … are these people “righteous”?

General Robert E. Lee is reported to have been an exemplary man in many ways. He graduated West Point with no demerits, which was pretty remarkable. He was (so people say) a gentleman’s gentleman, and a man of sterling character.

But he supported slavery, and he supported the Confederacy.

The lesson I take from all this is that we are products of our time and we absorb cultural assumptions somewhat uncritically. Being a good person doesn’t exempt you from that. Or, to put it another way, a person can be good in a lot of ways and truly awful in others. We all have blind spots, it’s ridiculous to try to judge people from the past by contemporary standards.

I’m not saying this to defend statues of Robert E. Lee. I’m totally okay with removing them.

My point is that we need to be humble in our judgment of other people. The folks who live a hundred years hence might think we’re all horrible people for something we assume and take for granted.

1 comment  ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-17  ::  Greg Krehbiel

“Very fine people” do not participate in rallies with Hitler quotes, racist slogans and Nazi flags

by Greg Krehbiel on 17 August 2017

Trump is an absolute bumbler with his language. He spouts off about things, expecting people to get the emotional gist of what he’s saying, in context. He doesn’t seem to pay attention to the actual words he uses, which is incredibly foolish, since he knows the press will pounce on him immediately.

“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” he said.

“You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists,” Trump said. “The press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

“You also had some very fine people on both sides,” he said.


It’s quite clear what he means. Some people at the rallies were not Nazis. (Remember, in Trump lingo, there are two kinds of people: very great, wonderful people, and very bad, horrible people. It’s just the way he talks.)

It’s almost certainly true that some of the people there were not Nazis. Some of them might have only been there to object to the removal of the statues. Some of them might believe that “affirmative action” has gone too far, or that whites are under attack, or something relatively mild like that.

But when they saw Nazi flags, they should have left.

The media is definitely mistreating and misrepresenting Trump. They are not paying attention to what he says, in context, and in the context of his verbal style. It’s dishonest reporting.

Still … Trump should not be saying these things. It’s one thing to say “they weren’t all Nazis and racists.” Fine. It’s another to call them “very fine people.” And he should know better.

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-17  ::  Greg Krehbiel

What’s the real threat, and “bothsidesism”

by Greg Krehbiel on 16 August 2017

Trump stirred up the media again yesterday by saying there was fault on both sides in Charlottesville. He might have had somebody like this — one of the counter protesters — in mind.

Does it look to you like he was intending to engage in civil public discourse?

The counter protesters brought balloons filled with paint, urine and feces. They brought baseball bats. At least one of them brought an aerosol can and ignited it like a flame thrower. (Update: he claims somebody threw it at him and then he lit it.)

Is there any fault there? They were clearly preparing for violence. Is that okay?

Most sensible people believe that the proper response to bad speech is good speech. But there does come a time when the proper response to bad speech is violence. If there are five Nazis holding a rally, we can just laugh at them and move along. But if there are 100,000, it’s not funny any more, and in that case it might be time to start throwing punches, or taking more serious measures.

This dispute over “fault on both sides” — or “bothsidesism” — comes down to whether you think either or both of these groups is a genuine threat.

If you think white nationalists and Nazis are an actual threat in America today, you will probably think the counter protesters were doing exactly the right thing, and there is no fault whatsoever on their side. They were provoked, and they responded appropriately.

If you think the “alt left” is a genuine threat, violently shutting down speech they dislike, then you will think there is fault on their side.

The media and liberals on Facebook clearly believe that white nationalism and Nazi ideology is a growing and serious threat, so they think it’s about time somebody started throwing punches, and other things. There’s no fault in that. In fact, it’s virtuous.

Conservatives tend to think that white nationalists and Nazis are a small group of idiots and don’t believe the threat is all that real. But they believe Antifa and BLM and other violent leftist groups are a serious threat to free speech.

Honest people have to admit that there is some truth to both sides here. Nazis and white nationalists are a problem. And so are people who shout down speakers, cause mayhem, and chant “What do we want / dead cops / when do we want them / now.”

But which is the bigger threat? That will determine how you fall on this question of “bothsidesism.”

I’m starting to wonder if maybe neither of them are all that serious of a threat, and that partisan media is just using them as a convenient bad guy as part of their propaganda efforts. See, e.g., this video: The 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine.

I find the message of that video to be a little overblown and exaggerated, but it does make some good points that we should keep in mind. “All is well, details at six” doesn’t get your eyes on the telly, but “the growing threat of ____” does.

The media does like to have an enemy, or at least a “growing threat.” The left-leaning media likes to scare us with Trump, and with the alleged rise of white nationalism, Nazis, and various kinds of intolerance. The right-leaning media likes to scare us with violent immigrants, Islamic terrorism and violent left-wing thugs.

Are these things actual problems? Or are we just being poked and prodded?

5 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-16  ::  Greg Krehbiel

I said ye are gods

by Greg Krehbiel on 15 August 2017

There’s an attitude I’m seeing in posts the last couple days. (Not here.) I might summarize it like this.

You must love what I love and hate what I hate. You must condemn what I condemn, when I want you to condemn it, in the words I want you to use, without any distractions, ifs, ands or buts. And if you don’t, I’m morally justified in imputing to you whatever evil motive I think you may have. And it’s entirely your fault.

2 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-15  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Social pressure is good, but have we entered an era of mob justice?

by Greg Krehbiel on 15 August 2017

Social pressure is what keeps most people from doing or saying rude, obnoxious stuff. Generally speaking, that’s a very good thing.

But social pressure also causes people to be silent in the face of horrible injustices, like the people who would not speak out against the Klan, or the Nazis.

Just recently we have two interesting examples of social pressure.

First, there’s Google’s Sundar Pichai. As David Brooks recently said,

“(Pichai) could have wrestled with the tension between population-level research and individual experience. He could have stood up for the free flow of information. Instead he joined the mob.” [Emphasis supplied.]

Glenn Reynolds says Silicon Valley has become “a flabby collection of near-monopolies, now busy enforcing gentry-liberal norms on their employees and customers.” Like, for example, the times that big corporations have threatened boycotts over bathroom laws.

I’m not comfortable with big corporations imposing their social agendas on society, but it could be even more troubling. Reynolds again ….

When you use Facebook or Google (or Twitter, or Amazon, or Netflix) you’re sharing a lot of data with a company that you have to trust won’t abuse that. It’s much harder to trust a company that has decided to aggressively pursue thoughtcrime. [Emphasis supplied.]

Just as some people say “freedom of the press is for those who can afford a press,” “social pressure” may be for those who control the social networks.

The second example of social pressure is the people who are trying to out the protesters in Charlottesville and get them shamed or fired — or possibly harmed by vigilantes.

Is that a good or a bad thing?

Let’s start with the easy stuff and say that “harmed by vigilantes” would be a bad thing. But is it right to try to get these people fired?

If some white nationalist is doing a perfectly fine job changing oil somewhere, should he lose his livelihood over his political views?

I have mixed feelings on this. I do want society to be able to judge various ideas and hold people accountable if those ideas are considered loathsome. I don’t want Nazis to feel safe and comfortable and warm and fuzzy.

But at the same time, I believe in free speech, and that words and ideas don’t hurt anybody. “Sticks and stones” and all that. And weaponizing the public to rat people out does sound a little Nazi-like, doesn’t it?

Where do you draw the line?

3 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-15  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Tweeting sermons?

by Greg Krehbiel on 14 August 2017

This is weird. In Germany, Churchgoers Are Encouraged To Tweet From The Pews

Also, we’re coming up on 500 years since good old Brother Martin nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. What should happen to celebrate?

  • The RCC should allow married men to become priests, thus solidifying the Lutheran victory. (They’ve already allowed the liturgy in the vernacular and communion in both kinds — 2 out of 3 of Melanchthon’s conditions for unity.)
  • The pope should officially forgive and rehabilitate Brother Martin.
  • The pope should invite the Lutheran German Bishops to the Vatican for a lunch of meal worms. (A Diet of Worms.)

4 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-14  ::  Greg Krehbiel

My media prediction for the week

by Greg Krehbiel on 14 August 2017

The left-leaning media, and leftists on social media, will be keen this week to associate the alt-right with Nazis.

I’m not sure what to make of it. I don’t trust the left-leaning media to treat the story fairly, so where am I supposed to get an accurate description of the alt-right?

One so-called leader of the alt-right is Milo Yiannopoulos — a gay man who only dates black men. Somehow that doesn’t say “Nazi” to me. And I’ve listened to a lot of Milo’s stuff, and he doesn’t sound like a Nazi.

I usually like what Ben Shapiro has to say, so I put some stock in his criticism of the alt-right. (Also see this.) But generally speaking, when it comes to issues like these I don’t trust anybody to tell the story straight.

By “issues like these” I mean anything where the other side is (allegedly) so wrong that to even consider anything they have to say is thought crime.

BTW, since people get in trouble these days for what they don’t say, yes, I denounce Nazis.

12 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-14  ::  Greg Krehbiel

From “Congress must declare war” to “Can Trump launch a preemptive nuclear strike?”

by Greg Krehbiel on 11 August 2017

We’ve come a long way.

To set the record straight, I don’t think Trump’s erratic, sometimes crazy rhetoric means that he’s crazy enough to launch a large-scale nuclear attack on N. Korea, so please consider this post as a theoretical matter, not something I’m worried about. (I specifically said “large-scale nuclear attack” because one thing Trump might possibly do is use tactical nukes — aka “battlefield nukes” — against specific military targets in the DPRK. But even that is pretty unlikely. I hope.)

With rising tensions, people are asking the question whether Trump can launch a preemptive nuclear strike..

Constitutionally, Congress has to declare war. But since the War Powers Resolution, presidents have been pushing what they can do without Congressional approval. We’ve gotten to the point that we don’t even blink when the president tosses a couple missiles into a country we’re not at war with.

That’s not good, and the situation with N. Korea brings that into sharp focus.

Nobody disputes the president’s authority to act in defense of the country if we are attacked. But preemptive strikes are another matter.

However … as I recall it has been long-standing US policy that, for strategic reasons, we will not rule out the possibility of a preemptive nuclear strike.

Will the war of words between Trump and Kim Jong-un change that? Are people so nervous about Trump having the nuclear launch codes that they’d be willing to change that policy?

Another complicating factor is that some people say we are technically still at war with North Korea.

3 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-11  ::  Greg Krehbiel

“Woke,” “Red Pill,” “Born Again”

by Greg Krehbiel on 11 August 2017

I’m an intentionally and obstinately un hip person. I avoid using new words and phrases. I don’t think I’ve ever said, “my bad,” for example. (And that’s not even new.)

I don’t know why, but such things mildly annoy me. It’s too lemming-like. (And yes, I know lemmings don’t do that.)

So “woke” would have passed me by completely (despite being around for several years now) but for a few friends mentioning it on Twitter. I looked it up and found this: Earning the ‘Woke’ Badge.

It means wanting to be considered correct, and wanting everyone to know just how correct you are.


Earning the “woke” badge is a particularly tantalizing prospect because it implies that you’re down with the historical fight against prejudice.

Can anyone say “self righteous”?

I get it. Everybody wants to feel good about themselves, and they want to feel as if they’ve made some breakthrough and are now with the program. Among men’s rights folk that’s “taking the red pill.” Both of them — “woke” and “taking the red pill” — seem somewhat, but not quite — okay, maybe only a little — like being born again.

You’re a new person. You’re not that old guy who did and believed X. Now you’re a new creation who does and believes Y.

Good for you.

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2017-08-11  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2017-08-09 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
It’s not just carbon, folks
2017-08-08 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
“Harmful stereotypes”
2017-08-08 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Best use of QED ever?
2017-08-04 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
How to lie with wage statistics
2017-08-02 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Why is healthcare so special?
2017-08-01 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Numbers on media bias (or not)