Search This Blog

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some weirdoes at Volokh again.

I have been gently chastised by Glenn Reynolds for an occasional negative comment regarding the Volokh Conspiracy. It’s not the “conspirators” themselves who are the problem so much as the audience they attract. Glenn wisely, perhaps, does not allow comments. The people who have posting privileges are – mostly – law professors, so their posts are sane. The same cannot be said for the comments that follow. Why this concerns me I’ll get into a little later.

David Bernstein posted an essay entitled HRW's Whitson Defends Fundraising in Totalitarian Countries

The subject was Human Rights Watch soliciting funds from the Saudis. But the comments swerved into a discussion of evangelical Christians with this comment by someone calling himself “Seattle Law Student” who said

I might well be a republican were it not for the Messianic Christianity of their base*. I lived in Germany, they are good people, it took one charismatic douchebag to turn them into raving lunatics. I look at the republican base and see that waiting to happen.

Right now there is an odd confluence between far right wing Christians who want to see the temple rebuilt to hasten the end times and Israel. That is not a stable pairing.

* that and the party's absurd stance on personal liberties and other social issues.

He got some pushback.
That was followed by this comment:

I was characterizing why I'm not a Repbulican,[sic] based on my perceptions of Movement/Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christianity, not Christianity itself. Christianity in its many forms is a beautiful religion held dear by many millions of good people.

If I offended you, I apologize.

That said, to outsiders elements of Movement/Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christianity are genuinely scary. As is true of fundamentalists of any stripe, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, environmentalist, libertarian or whatever. When absolute certainty erodes doubt there is no room for rational discussion. I'm uncomfortable with people with whom I cannot hold such a discussion.

Which then led a commenter calling himself “Jukeboxgrad” to raise the level of discourse:

The Left Behind series has sold 65 million copies. A major theme of these books is that non-Christians are doomed, and this doom is portrayed in gory detail. The associated video game "rewards children for how effectively they role play the killing of those who resist becoming a born again Christian."

Jukeboxgrad lets his paranoia out for a stroll:

The video game embodies the former. And it's a short leap from the latter to the former. Once I believe that someone deserves to die, it becomes fairly easy to convince myself that I might as well kill him. Exhibit A: Scott Roeder.

And lots of people who aren't willing to pull the trigger are content to provide various forms of support to the person who is.

Infidels like me are an offense to and a potential target of all violent fundamentalists, and not just the ones that live in a cave on the other side of the world.

And compares these books to Mein Kampf

If we suddenly discovered that millions of copies of Mein Kampf (or some book expressing a similar philosophy) were flying off the shelf, we would probably not gloss over that by saying readers just found it "diverting." We would rightly be concerned. Because as a general rule, works of popular culture (books, movies, music) succeed when they find an audience which feels an affinity to the perspective expressed in that work.

Why do I consider this disturbing?

Because it’s a law blog.

People who are attracted to this blog are lawyers or lawyers in training. This is disturbing because it exposes a level of ignorance, hatred or virulence that is dangerous in the legal community. As a student of history, it bothers me that many of the leaders of the French Revolution were lawyers. These were the leaders who created the Great Terror in which thousand died because they were the wrong religion or the wrong birth. And they were superbly logical - and thorough. We expect a certain fustiness of our lawyers. Like a friendly dog, it’s unsettling when we find out they are rabid.


Anonymous said...

logic is a method not an end in itself.if your initial assumptions are insane then you will get insane results-see Third Reich.
that and power attracts the worst sort , manipulation of the law is a kind of power.

Anonymous said...

Messianic Christianity? I am part of the Republican party base, and am an Orthodox Jew who was raised in a non-Orthodox almost secular family that had been affiliated for generations with the Democratic party. I have met plenty of other Republicans who are not evangelical Christians. I don't know whether to be more flabbergasted by Seattle Law Student's stereotype of Republicans or julkeboxgrad's stereotype of evangelicals. - Yankev