Tag Archives: Reality-based world

Why we talk about “reality-based world”

Stupid is as stupid does – as Ta-Nehisi Coates lays bare in this withering response to a recycled apologia for racism appearing in the National Review.

His main point: Advising the assumption of criminality for all young black men one encounters fails not only because it is morally bankrupt, but because it is factually false. If the purpose of the advice is “safety,” it is not and cannot be effective. “That is not surprising,” explains Coates with great restraint, “given that this is the kind of advice which betrays a greater interest in maintaining one’s worldview than in maintaining one’s safety.”

The problem is the same with this world view as it is with the one that encourages parents to rely on filtering software to control what their children see on the internet. The problem is the same with the world view that insists “abstinence-only” sexuality education is the solution to teen pregnancy and STIs, and the one that believes LGBT people will disappear if only we can be denied equality, dignity and safety. Setting aside the obvious moral problems, they are wrong because they don’t work. None of these approaches can do the things they purport to do, because none of them have a basis in reality.

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The most significant event for equality in recent memory – and it wasn’t the president’s endorsement of marriage

Crossposted at Equality Loudoun

Before somebody starts yelling at me, let me just say that I’m not diminishing the significance of President Obama’s historic endorsement. It matters. A lot. Go read Andrew Sullivan’s cover essay in this week’s Newsweek for a good summary. “To have the president of the United States affirm my humanity —and the humanity of all gay Americans — was, unexpectedly, a watershed. He shifted the mainstream in one interview.”

But, as a measure of how far the mainstream has actually shifted, nothing beats this much less reported, but must-read document. As Sullivan points out, this is the GOP establishment addressing, bluntly, the GOP establishment. The warning from “highly respected Republican pollster” Jan van Lohuizen really couldn’t be more factual and dispassionate about the situation they are now facing:

In view of this week’s news on the same sex marriage issue, here is a summary of recent survey findings on same sex marriage:

1. Support for same sex marriage has been growing and in the last few years support has grown at an accelerated rate with no sign of slowing down. A review of public polling shows that up to 2009 support for gay marriage increased at a rate of 1% a year. Starting in 2010 the change in the level of support accelerated to 5% a year. The most recent public polling shows supporters of gay marriage outnumber opponents by a margin of roughly 10% (for instance: NBC / WSJ poll in February / March: support 49%, oppose 40%).

And this is what that looks like graphically:

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An embarrassing eccentricity

Would be crossposted from Equality Loudoun, except we’re down for maintenance and migration. Returning soon.

What a ridiculous story this is.

Scouting (like the military, like every other part of life) includes people who are openly gay. That means parents who are leaders and volunteers, and scouts themselves. For the most part, participants act as if those embarrassing prohibitions on people simply being who they are no longer exist. In fact, they will no longer exist for service members as of September 20.

The two women get it exactly right, I think. At some point a quasi-public organization practicing overt discrimination like this finds itself so out of touch with its members and community that its bottom line is affected, and incidents like this only create a humiliating awareness that these policies still exist.

The best part of the story, though – the one that shows the Boy Scouts will be just fine – is this perceptive remark by a friend of the family, after reciting the scout law (a scout should be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, etc.).

“I mean, when the leaders of the troop hear that, how does it feel? Were they loyal to Denise? It certainly wasn’t kind what they’ve done to her,” [Eric] Ianson continued. “It absolutely isn’t brave. The brave thing to do would be to take a stand here and say this isn’t right, this person has been great to our kids and it’s time to stand up for her and be great for her.”

This is an Eagle Scout who has internalized the values of scouting and understood them much better than the reactionary leadership at the top of the hierarchy. The right thing to do is to acknowledge the truth you can see for yourself, and to stand up for your friend. There are many more like him.

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Fundamentalist postmodernism

The clip below is a near-perfect illustration of the fundamentalist mind at work. Notice that Perry doesn’t even seem to grasp the concept of empirical evidence as something that ought to be considered in formulating policy, and is flummoxed that the question is framed that way. As an abstract idea, “abstinence works.” Pointing out that abstinence-only education doesn’t actually work in practice is missing “the bigger and better issue.” To the fundamentalist mind, it’s making sure that the correct ideology is expressed – not an actual reduction in teen pregnancy – that has become the policy goal.

This is not “conservatism.” It’s a form of insanity that rejects evidence from the observable, material world, and it’s undeniable that it has fully infected the Republican party. When it’s welcomed as a “brave act of political suicide” for a Republican candidate to stand up to the anti-science know-nothings claiming to speak for his party, there is an obvious problem.

In the interest of having a series of adult conversations about policy in the real world (and not a situation in which anyone thinks the best long term solution is to accelerate the implosion of the infected GOP by voting “for the most right-wing crazy-crack-pot candidates”), is there a Jon Huntsman figure in the house? Anyone? Or will we just get more of this: A primary race in which none of the candidates can be distinguished from Dick Black. A slate of candidates willing to suck up to Eugene Delgaudio, a man who has not only shown himself to be morally unfit to hold office, but whose persona is entirely driven by a postmodernist rejection of empiricism, an emotional caricature who makes up his own facts. Or how about this classic response to a policy question about protecting the source of Loudoun’s drinking water from silt and pollutants: “God gave us the land to use. Are you against God?”

As can be seen from the comment thread on the previous post, it’s possible for people of good will to disagree and struggle with each other about what works best to solve problems in the real world. The only premise required is that there is an actual real world in which to test those solutions. Is anyone willing to insist on that?