Wagging fingers

By Sean Carroll | August 14, 2005 2:46 pm

Eugene Volokh has inspired a useful and uplifting blogosphere meme: condemnation of groups of people whom, although nobody is claiming that they are numerous or influential, we can nevertheless agree are worthy of our scorn. (Indeed, the search for actual examples hasn’t been very fruitful.) His own entry in this game was “Westerners who side with the Iraqi resistance.” As he explains (after some prodding),

Fortunately, the group being criticized is not a vast group. So? They’re still worth condemning.

Capital idea. Next to join in was Belle Waring:

I points the fingerbone of scorn at those inhumanly cruel Republicans who drink puppy blood for breakfast. When I consider the sharp, tiny milk-teeth of those puppies, protruding from gums now white with blood loss, I am filled with a righteous and long-abiding anger.

Again, she is quick to note that there are very few Republicans who fit such a description, but they should surely be denounced. (Lindsay Beyerstein, playing the contrarian, denounces Belle’s denunciation, but is clearly just trying to score some intellectual-virtue points.)

Since one can never denounce such heinous activities too fervently, Brad DeLong chimes in:

I for one, would like to also denounce adherents of the Republican Party who pretend to “adopt” kittens from animal shelters, and then kill them and dissect their little kittenish bodies with knives. I acknowledge that rather few Republicans are in this category, but I insist that these people are very bad.

How true that is.

Not to pile on, but I can’t help but offer my own humble contribution to the rare-but-worthy-of-scorn category. To wit, we should condemn Republicans who attempt to justify the capture and long-term detention of prisoners who are denied counsel and not charged with any crime, and then tortured, sometimes to death, in a misguided attempt to extract useful intelligence from them, even though they may be perfectly innocent. Likewise, Republicans who make fun of such practices by selling witty T-shirts. Oh, and those who advocate public torture of criminals in order to satsify the public’s bloodlust — wouldn’t want to forget them.

Of course, nobody would suggest that such people comprise a vast group. So? They are still worth condemning.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Internet, Politics
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  • Sam Gralla

    What, we’re only condemning repulicans? How about democrats (or really Europeans, mainly) who say Bush is as bad as Hitler? Not even such a small group.

  • shhiggins

    Gee, it seems that the number of Americans (not just Repugnicans) who support long-term detention of prisoners without charges or due process and then torturing them sometimes to the death is actually quite high; why else is there no resounding hue and cry, forcing the administration to cease and desist?

  • Zero

    Thanks for the post. It reminded me that I need to order one of those Club Gitmo tee-shirts pretty soon if it is going to get here in time for my Dad’s birthday. Maybe I should also buy one for myself, and wear it to my next astro seminar. Ah, got to love Club Gitmo! Where else can you have buxom female interrogators brushing against you as you savor your glazed chicken and rice pilaf? Moreover, I’d bet that the “guests” down there have more freedom of religious expression than your typical public school student does. Amazing what passes for torture these days.


  • Scott

    I for one would like to condemn people who take a small part of an argument and address it in a way that makes the entire argument seem rediculous without addressing the argument for example using the idea of using the detainies religous attitude toward women to torture them with a womens touch in order to denegrate the confirmed(FBI report) of the chaining of detainees in the fetal position for large periods of time (24 hrs ect) allowing them to sit there in there own piss and feces while the temperature is either raised or lowered to unbearable temperatures all while in solitary confinement among various other torture methods. People that do this type of argument are few but they deserve condemnation anyways. Actually almost everyone argues this way but only when they are obviously wrong but are unwilling to come to terms with their wrongness.

  • The Anti-Zero

    Moreover, I’d bet that the “guests” down there have more freedom of religious expression than your typical public school student does.

    I’ll take that bet.


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .


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