It's Dangerous to Believe

Religious Freedom and Its Enemies

[Amazon Link]

This relatively short book by Mary Eberstadt documents the efforts here in the US and elsewhere to delegitimize traditional Christian beliefs, to deny their believers an equal place in the public arena, and (what's more) to ostracize and exile those believers from positions of responsibility in private and public institutions.

Ms. Eberstadt explores a lot of case studies to support her views, most of which will be familiar to people following the news. There's Brendan Eich, forced out as Mozilla CEO when it was revealed that he backed the Proposition 8 ballot initiative against same-sex marriage. There's the Obama Administration's attempt to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide "contraception coverage" to their employees. There's the effort to compel Catholic Charities to offer adoption services to same-sex couples. Various efforts to restrict/ostracise religious home schooling. And more.

It's a tough life out there for a conservative Christian, in other words. Eberstadt's anecdotes are many and telling.

I think her argument is slightly off-center; there is some hostility to Christianity, but it drops off significantly for the "respectable" fraction of believers; you know, the ones who mix in a healthy dose of Progressivism and avoid saying much about sin when it comes to matters dealing with the naughty bits.

And (for example) James Damore found himself out of a sweet Google job, not because he was too religious, but because he dared to utter heresies against the Progressive social justice gospel of diversity and inclusion.

So I suspect that it's not Christianity per se that gets one in trouble; it's one's dissent from Progressive orthodoxy that brings out the witch hunt.

That said, after adjusting the target, Eberstadt makes a lot of sense that we need to bring back a modicum of respect into the argument, a willingness to deal with opinions that some might find wrong-headed, in order to (say) put babies into adoptive homes more efficaciously.


Last Modified 2018-04-28 7:03 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2018-04-27

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 13:5 brings the ultimate insult to the wicked: dude, you reek.

    5 The righteous hate what is false,
        but the wicked make themselves a stench
        and bring shame on themselves.

    As often happens, the two parts of the compare-and-contrast don't quite jibe.

    Our Amazon product du jour illustrates a young lady bringing shame upon herself. (Kindle version is free, so click away.)


  • The pictured young lady might find the modest proposal from Jeffrey A. Singer at Reason of particular interest: To Save Lives, Make Naloxone an Over-the-Counter Drug.

    This month Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory that touted the lifesaving potential of naloxone, an opioid antagonist that reverses potentially fatal overdoses. He called for wider distribution of naloxone to opioid users, their relatives, and their close associates.

    Naloxone, approved for use since 1971, works by blocking opioid receptors. It is an effective remedy that can be safely administered by laymen wth minimal training, using either a nasal spray (sold under the brand name Narcan) or an intramuscular auto-injector (Evzio).

    Well, that's one option. Another is to just let these losers die. Most days, I'm indifferent.


  • Drew Cline writes at NR with advice to one of our institutes of higher ed: Take a Hike, Penn State.

    Penn State University’s Outing Club can no longer organize student-led hiking and camping trips, which the club has done for 98 years. This decision is not about the inherent risk of hiking. It is about letting students be independent adults.

    At first, the university explained that the outing, scuba, and caving clubs are “losing recognition due to an unacceptable amount of risk to student members that is associated with their activities,” as a university spokesperson put it.

    The real issue, Drew contends, is that Penn State (like many universities) is committed to keeping its students in a state of perpetual, dependent, irresponsible childhood. He may have a point; it certainly helps explain a lot of other stuff.


  • And it's not just colleges. Richard Epstein writes at the Federalist on a topic we've brushed against a few times recently: Libertarian Paternalism Is A Nice Phrase For Controlling People.

    One of the great academic debates of our time revolves around how people make choices. On the one side, neoclassical theory assumes that individuals generally act in sensible ways in order to advance their individual self-interest. They are motivated to control aggression and monopoly, and to let private parties in competitive markets strike what bargains they like.

    In recent years, this neoclassical approach has come under attack from the field of behavioral economics. Its proponents argue that the neoclassical model of behavior, premised on the fact that human beings are rational decision-makers, does not sufficiently account for the many false heuristics and biases that lead people astray as they make decisions.

    Epstein details why "libertarian paternalism" isn't that libertarian.


  • Our Google LFOD alert rang for a cofessional article by Ted Slowik in the Chicago Tribune, in "honor" of (I am not making this up, unless Ted is) "Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week": I’m guilty of distracted driving, but I will keep trying to stop.

    Last year, I drove out to New Hampshire and visited a friend who lives there. New Hampshire — whose motto is “Live Free or Die” — is the only state that does not require drivers to wear a seat belt.

    Because I could, I tried driving a short distance without wearing a seat belt. The ringing alert was annoying, though, and I felt uncomfortable. I fastened my seat belt, not because I had to but because I wanted to.

    Jeez, Ted. Don't wet your pants. The whole point of LFOD is doing what you want in such matters, according to your own standards of comfort and risk.

    Ted's article is filled, by the way, with the usual horrendous stats about distracted driving.

    Distracted driving kills 10 Americans every day and contributed to the deaths of 37,000 people killed in crashes on U.S. roadways in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    It sounds as if Ted thinks there were 37,000 distracted-driving fatalities in 2016. But that overstates the count by over a factor of ten. You think he could have been trying to scare us?


  • And the latest amusement from Michael Ramirez: