Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Goddamned Podcast #11:
April 17, 2008


THIS WEEK – Abortions, Faith-Based Initiatives, and Debating the Debate

As surprising as listeners may find this, Ex is pissed off! He tears into the recent Compassion Forum (renaming it the Compulsion Forum). Although he has several beefs (or is it "beeves"?) he and Philly zero in on the candidates' responses to questions on abortion. (0:00)

Obama says that abortion is a "moral decision" and a "wrenching choice." Are there any actual moral issues involved in abortions early in the pregnancy, or is the word "moral" just Obama's way of pandering to the religious? (15:57)

Faith-based initiatives and Establishment. We all pretty much agree with James Madison, even though he was not an atheist blogger. (32:18)

Attacks on Obama: why has he shown an utter inability to handle them better? Does he appear as un-Presidential to you as he does to Ex? What should he be saying in his own defense? Evo wonders whether Obama modifies his debating style because of perceived racial prejudices that he faces. But OG counters that it's really Hillary who has a tougher bias to overcome. The boys gang up on OG, badgering her to accept there is no anti-feminist sentiment in the electorate. Then, Philly tells the herd why he would accept an invitation to a religious forum if he were a candidate. (51:07)

Normally, this spot in the podcast would be devoted to out-takes. In this podcast, however, it's just more in-put. During a long break, the Herd can't seem to abort its discussion. (1:10:54)

Opening Music [00:00]: excerpt from "Another Goddamned Draft"
Bridge Music [14:34]: excerpt from "One of Many"
Bridge Music [31:01]: excerpt from "Disco is Not Dead"
Bridge Music [49:51]: excerpt from "Child of the 80s"
Bridge Music [1:04:01]: excerpt from "Arkansas Traveler"
Closing Music [1:10:16]: excerpt from "As Jazzy as I Get"
(All music: copyright 2008 by Rachel Murie)


32 comments:

Venjanz said...

Wow, in the US, Muslims are twice as popular as yall:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/106516/Americans-NetPositive-View-US-Catholics.aspx

John Evo said...

Venjanz - call me PollyEvo, but I actually take heart in the fact that 54% actually are either favorable or neutral on atheists. I would have suspect much more than 45% with a negative view of us. I bet 40 years ago it was more like 70% negative.

The Exterminator said...

Venjanz said:
Wow, in the US, Muslims are twice as popular as yall.

Were you saying that Muslims are twice as popular as atheists, or twice as popular as Another Goddamned Podcast?

OLED said...

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the OLED, I hope you enjoy. The address is http://oled-brasil.blogspot.com. A hug.

Venjanz said...

Atheists, so by extension, your podcast hehe.

the chaplain said...

Hey, that stats counter is pretty cool. I've never played with it before. Don't worry, I really am listening while I play.

the chaplain said...

RE: abortion. Once again, progressives are allowing conservatives to define and control the terms of the debate. The conservatives define "the" moral issues of abortion as those pertaining to the fetus' rights. Progressives are not speaking clearly enough, or often enough, about the "other" moral issue involved in abortion: female autonomy. The near-silence regarding women's rights infuriates and alarms me.

the chaplain said...

RE: faith-based initiatives. I generally think this is a bad idea and believe that there should be a healthy distance between religious ministries and governments. Here's something to consider though: I sure as hell don't want my taxes to pay for the Iraq war; nevertheless, that's where most of my tax contributions are going. How does forcing me to pay for a war that I've never supported - and for which I would not elect to pay, if I had a choice - differ from siphoning off a comparatively small part of my tax money to pay for faith-based charities, which arguably do a lot more good for American society than our military is doing for Iraq?

the chaplain said...

You know that I agree with OG regarding the Hillary question. Yes, I know there are lots of legitimate questions one can raise about her ethics, judgment, values, etc. None of those things change the fact that the gender is playing a more overt role in this election than race is.

Having said that, race is probably playing an ugly role in this campaign too, and a large part of its ugliness lies in its subtlety. The sexism is more overt and easily recognized than the sexism. It's possible that the Obama/Muslim connection is a backhanded way of sneaking race into the conversation. That sort of talk is much more subtle than bitching about Hillary's whiny voice or crocodile tears.

PhillyChief said...

First off, I think you may have just set up a false dichotomy, but you did say "arguably", so I must argue against the assertion that a faith based charity does more good than the military in Iraq.
Bottomline, federal funds should be awarded on merit, so the church groups can get cash IF they show they're doing positive things, NO STRINGS ATTACHED, and they open their books.

I also side with female autonomy for the most part.

I don't see what the fuss is about Hilary. The gender thing is silly since she's the biggest man of the 3 of them.

John Evo said...

Chappy said: The near-silence regarding women's rights infuriates and alarms me.

The problem is, we tried framing the argument that way for 40 years and got slammed because it SOUNDS so damn selfish when you compare it to a "right to life" argument. So we have to approach it with a certain amount of nuance. Acknowledge that there can be a moral consideration when dealing with a viable fetus - or, at least, very late term. That undercuts their holier than though moral position, allows you to make the claim that a zygote is not a moral issue, and THEN we can begin discussing exactly WHAT the moral issue is in late term.

PhillyChief said...

What Evo points out is a perfect example of the Privacy Fallacy undercutting secular arguments. If you take the position that religion is a private matter, then to talk of it, especially critically, seems unseemly. However, the religious have no such inhibition, so they'll gladly argue their points with a moral backing, one derived from their religious belief. So where does that leave us? It leaves us with an argument of morals vs rights. That's a mistake because it takes the strength of one's argument and their ability to argue it almost completely out of the picture because if the population is more swayed by morals than rights, then what? Spinning wheels in the mud.

On the podcast I said there is a moral issue involved in abortion, because people say there is. That may sound absurd, but think about it. If we ignore that people THINK there is, and refuse to address that, once again we're spinning wheels in the mud.

John Evo said...

To expand of Philly's remark - to address the moral issue can NOT mean simply talking about why they don't have any point. It means personal introspection to see where morality may play a part.

As I said, for me it would play some part at the point of viability and a larger part in very late term.

If a baby is born 2 months premature, there is a high probability that it goes on to live. I don't think we can run from that fact.

PhillyChief said...

I certainly think it CAN mean saying they don't have a point, but you have to argue why rather than simply taking that for granted or worse, refusing to take on someone's religious;y motivated view. In other words, you can't pull a "talk to the hand" or anything similarly dismissive.

I think the way to go is to calmly nod along and say, "uh huh, yeah, uh huh" as we listen to their "moral" arguments and then when they're done, calmly reply, "yes, well this is why none of that matters..." :)

They can't argue rights, only morals. We can do both, but refuse to. We CLEARLY have the unfair advantage yet we yield the floor to them. Stupid. Dissect their moral objections and they have nothing.

Ordinary Girl said...

I wish you'd used something like "consciousness" instead of "viable" in the poll.

the chaplain said...

Phillychief - I agree completely with this statement: Bottomline, federal funds should be awarded on merit, so the church groups can get cash IF they show they're doing positive things, NO STRINGS ATTACHED, and they open their books.

The Exterminator said...

Philly:
... [T]here is a moral issue involved in abortion, because people say there is. That may sound absurd, but think about it. If we ignore that people THINK there is, and refuse to address that, once again we're spinning wheels in the mud.

OK, I'm going to alter that paragraph slightly:
... [T]here is a scientific dimension to creationism, because people say there is. That may sound absurd, but think about it. If we ignore that people THINK there is, and refuse to address that, once again we're spinning wheels in the mud.

Here's another version:
... [T]America is a Christian nation, because people say it is. That may sound absurd, but think about it. If we ignore that people THINK it is, and refuse to address that, once again we're spinning wheels in the mud.

Ummm, you can see that my two examples are just SO fucking wrong, can't you?

I don't think we should allow theists to dictate morality any more than we should allow them to dictate science or history.

OG:
I wish you'd used something like "consciousness" instead of "viable" in the poll.
I used viability because "Only after the fetus is conscious" didn't sound right to me. I think we'd need a whole new definition of consciousness; obviously fetal consciousness is not the same as post-natal human consciousness.

Philly & chaplain:
There's ALWAYS subliminal proselytizing when a religious group does charitable work. There's a big difference between getting help from, say, The Neighborhood Helpers' Association and The Neighborhood Christian Helpers' Association -- or, even worse, The Christian Neighborhood Helpers' Association.

PhillyChief said...

My point was simply ignoring people's opinions, however wrong headed, doesn't accomplish anything, especially if those opinions are in the majority or at least dominating the discussion.

Rather than telling people they're idiots and dismiss them, you have to explain why they're wrong. You explain why assertions that creationism is scientific are wrong, you explain why it's wrong to say the US was founded as a christian nation or precisely what it means to say the US is a christian nation (the same way it's a white nation, and a heterosexual nation, and a car driving nation, etc) and you explain why the moral issue of abortion is suspect.

We can't simply pretend there isn't a moral argument against abortion and ignore that entirely and just argue rights.

The Exterminator said...

Philly:
We can't simply pretend there isn't a moral argument against abortion and ignore that entirely and just argue rights.

Well, as is often the case when you and I disagree, we actually agree on ideas but disagree about the semantics. I think it's dangerous to grant that there is a moral dimension to abortion in the early stages of the pregnancy. The theists make an anti-abortion argument that they claim is based on morality, but it isn't. It's based on something else they're calling "morality." I do think their argument ought to be addressed, but I don't think we should grant them the "high ground" by allowing them to dictate the terms of the debate or impose their definition of "morality," a value that most of us -- atheist and theist alike -- think of as positive. So at very least, we should always put them in the position of defending "their idea of morality," as opposed to "morality" in the abstract. Then they should be challenged to show why their idea of morality dictates that the state should immorally force a woman into maternity.

Semantics is important.

PhillyChief said...

More than mere semantics, what you're asserting is "their idea of morality" isn't morality, because it's not yours. We can't on one hand say there's no objective morality and then on the other argue something isn't moral without explaining why since that sounds precisely like asserting the existence of an objective morality.

What's at issue here isn't whether there is a moral issue, but what is moral or more precisely, whose morals are better which is exactly the argument liberals haven't directly engaged in but clearly one we should. So there is a moral issue at play.

I think phrasing things like "their idea of morality dictates that the state should immorally force a woman into maternity" is precisely what's needed. Simply arguing rights can sound cold, but infuse it with a moral tone and look how different that argument sounds. But I think simply shouting each other's morals back at one another won't work either. We have to argue WHY our morals are better or why their morals are flawed, insufficient or not applicable to a given situation. Personally, "because the bible says so" sounds to me like all three.

John Evo said...

Ex said: Ummm, you can see that my two examples are just SO fucking wrong, can't you?

I know you didn't mean to phrase it that way -

Nevertheless, I DO INDEED agree that your "two examples are just SO fucking wrong".

I don't think Philly phrased it as well as he could have. But I'm stuck if I want to defend what he said, so let's go with it and your 2 examples.

I'm not sure which logical fallacy you are caught up in; I only know is IS a logical fallacy! Maybe it's the Red Herring fallacy.

Anyway, on the two supposedly related examples, it is clear that opinion is overriden by facts. Scientific facts are on the side of Evolution. Historical facts demonstrate that America was not founded as a Christian nation.

What are the "facts" that you can demonstrate that there is no moral issue involved in abortion? First, there is the problem that (even though our opponents would deny it) there is no objective truth to morals! WE are obliged to acknowledge this, due to our world-view. Therefore, the two examples are very poor choices.

The Exterminator said...

Evo:

Why don't you read the ENTIRE quotes to find out why they're SO fucking wrong? They're SO fucking wrong because there are some things that are not open for a majority vote. One of those things is science. Another is history. A third -- I'd argue -- is morals.

Now, the unfortunate thing about morals is that to most of us atheists, they're not objective -- at least some of them are subjective and relative to their culture. But theists claim that morals ARE objective. I don't think we should accept that framing of the argument, whether the morals are majoritarian or not. Do you get it now?

The only way abortion in the early part of the pregnancy is a moral issue is if you accept that it's a moral issue. I don't. I'm not interested in playing the theists' game. And I'm also not interested in arguing whether my set of morals is a more moral set of morals than their set of morals. That way madness lies. So let's remove the word "moral" from the debate, and start over.

On the other hand, if you're not comfortable doing that, you ought to at least accept this construct: their idea of morality dictates that the state should immorally force a woman into maternity.

PhillyChief said...

Psst, Evo, he's afraid he'll lose the moral argument. That's why he doesn't want to allow it to become a moral argument. ;)

I don't know why though. He had a nice line there earlier.

John Evo said...

Ex - you CAN'T just "re-frame" the argument so that it is no longer a moral one. There are problems from both sides.

As Philly states, they see a moral argument and, whether you ignore that or accept it, they will stick with it. Secondly, since you (I believe) admit that there is a moral dimension once you get to viability then you might as well battle on moral grounds (and even if you don't admit to it, many of us who have no religious agenda do. Thus, if you continue to ignore it you are battling both theists and free thinkers).

You want keep harping on "no moral issue in first trimester" but if there is a moral issue with abortion at ANY juncture then you have to deal with it as such.

And, regardless, your analogies were inadequate to bolster your point.

I do like the idea of "their idea of morality dictates that the state should immorally force a woman into maternity." THAT is one way to take the moral high ground - particularly prior to viability. Another would be to use the scientific data supporting what we are talking about with a blastacyst or even a zygote.

They like showing pictures of a fetus in the 5th or 6th month. How about micro-photograpy showing a blastocyst with side photos of a tree cells and yeast cells?

The Exterminator said...

Evo:
I don't know when you're going to get it through that thick prehistoric skull of yours that those people don't give a flying fuck about science. You can show them all the cells you want to; you can explain consciousness till you've lost your own. But they see no science, hear no science, speak no science. Because they have a bigger truth than science.

As far as being a moral issue: Is deciding whether or not to work on the "sabbath" a moral issue? Is not taking the lord's name in vain a moral issue? Is eating the religiously approved foods at the religiously approved times a moral issue? No, no, and no.

I refuse to have other people dictate morals to me or tell me what is or isn't a moral issue. Accepting that something is a moral issue is sanctioning the very morals I find abhorrent. There's no soul, period. A fetus isn't a person at conception. There's no moral issue whatsoever involved in abortion at the earliest stages unless you're ready to implicitly buy into the warped set of values that contradicts reason.

Your majoritarian viewpoint is scary. Some things in this world -- science, history, morality, beauty, justice -- aren't subject to democratic voting.

John Evo said...

First of all you are never going to win an argument against even the most ignorant among us when using a debate style that calls for openings like "I don't know when you're going to get it through that thick prehistoric skull of yours". But I'm not here to teach you how to be more effective with your fellow man. If you haven't figured it out by now, me pointing it out will have little effect.

Second of all, I know you like "framing" things in ways that benefit you - hey, who wouldn't like the entire world framed in the way we "know" is right? But, again, you undercut the validity of your argument when you attribute to me something like the following:

Your majoritarian viewpoint is scary. Some things in this world -- science, history, morality, beauty, justice -- aren't subject to democratic voting.

That's a straw man. I know THAT fallacy in it's about the 3rd one you've committed in the past 3 comments. Now, I'm open enough to consider the possibility that just because you argue poorly that you could still be correct. But if I'm most people, I've stopped paying attention to you by now. By the way, you are actually going to link history and science with morality and beauty and say that these things can't be argued? Science is not in the eye of the beholder, but beauty is.

Question everything, Ex. Even your own brilliant assumptions. Think "I might be wrong". It's a very effective technique for getting closer to the truth. You think your "certainty" about your viewpoint makes it, in fact, the absolutely correct position. That's irrational.

PhillyChief said...

The argument will NEVER be for convincing the hardcore religious. They are the stubborn extreme and actually I think the more stubborn and extreme they are the better for we're speaking to the moderates mostly, people who perhaps haven't bothered to think things through and in their laziness just side with the yahoos because their moral arguments pluck their heart strings. Give those people no alternative, and they're lost. Give them an alternative, one that makes sense AND dismantle the other "moral" alternative as senseless and maybe you win them. That's why I said earlier that it's better that the other side is comprised of stubborn extremists. Most people don't like other people like that.

Also, you have to show the contradictions in their reasoning. You bring up Ron Reagan's point from years ago of asking why they're not screaming "bloody murder" every day as thousands of little souls are extinguished in IVF clinics. And no, I seriously doubt that successfully arguing that will make people go against IVF. Too many people can't breed in this country. I don't care what you say, most people's commitment to their religion wanes when it gets to something like their kids, or the possibility of having kids.

Btw, I do enjoy the old SNL style of Point/Counter-Point being displayed here.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Btw, I do enjoy the old SNL style of Point/Counter-Point being displayed here.

Yes. Me too. Regular listeners and readers might not realize by the tone of the argument that we love each other so much, that when we get together, we like to goose each other.

Except for OG. We're too polite for that.

PhillyChief said...

Actually, wouldn't we be playing into her complaint about women getting special treatment if we don't goose her BECAUSE she's a woman?

Ordinary Girl said...

Except for OG. We're too polite for that.

Hey, why am I always left out?

Actually, wouldn't we be playing into her complaint about women getting special treatment if we don't goose her BECAUSE she's a woman?

Yeah, if you're going to be goosing, shouldn't you want to be goosing the woman anyway? Maybe we should just skip the goosing then, unless you guys just have a thing for goosing each other. Then I guess, to keep all things fair I'll have to participate.

The Exterminator said...

My strong goosing preference would be OG only, or maybe -- to stretch a point -- SI's icon. Call me sexist if you wish, but I don't see any positive value for me in goosing Philly or Evo.

John Evo said...

Aren't we an amazing herd? We can go from punishing debate to sheer silliness in an instant. Some might think we are a bit psychotic. In fact, wasn't there a time when atheists were thought to have mental problems? Maybe we do. Maybe we really DO lack the god gene! Wouldn't that be something?