virus: showers

Reed Konsler (
Mon, 22 Feb 1999 14:46:40 -0500

>Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 18:53:27 -0500
>From: "joe dees" <>
>Subject: Re:virus: Showers

>No, but brutal authoritarianism is, due to their
>meme structure, a temptation they must perpetually
>struggle against, and many times they lose. BTW,
>the people shooting the guns are Catholics, Baptists,
>Methodists, and Assembly of God-ers.

Yes, joe. It is a temptation we must all struggle against. It isn't a religion thing, it's a human thing. People loose patience with each other. We have to learn and we have to teach others to focus...everyone. There is no special group which is immune to Platonism, that's why there can never be "philosopher-kings". No person is wise enough to argue for everyone's self-interest over the long term.

>>Lets try to be the macrophages of culture, and not
>>an autoimmune leukemia, how 'bout?
>How do we get them to excise the "my way or the highway" meme?

Creative interpretation. Rule bending. Salesmanship.

>Is that possible...?

It is possible.

>>I never made such a claim. I said that the killing of human
>>babies has never been in keeping with the teachings of
>>Jesus Christ, as I understand them. I stand in resolute
>>opposition to anyone who would claim otherwise:
>>Christian, Athiest, or Martian.
>But not as THEY understood them. To change their actions,
>you must change their understanding, but this can prove
>adamantinely resistant to such change. How do you infect
>intolerance with respect?

That is what memetics tries to understand. Repetition is a proven method. It is costly, and can be dangerous, especially if your target is violent...but if you repeat something often enough, most people will accept it. Skeptical people will at least contemplate it. The first move is to sell the unreflective on skepticism, and then the rest is easier. But the unreflective are, by definition not rational. They don't accept the premises, so you have to help them to build those premises from the basis of their simpler perspective. That perspective is, almost always, a religious one. You have to deeply understand their worldview first, and build a rapport with them. Then you lead them towards yours. But if you are going to be a teacher you can't demand that your students come to you already speaking the lingo...that is the first mistake of the academic.

>Slaveholding is in opposition to the American principles
>of freedom and equality for all...

Killing people is in opposition to the Christian principles of brotherly love and mercy.

>, but many had to die in a brutal civil war in order to
>validate this principle, which was imperfectly understood
>and enunciated by our founders.

Yes, and I would like to avoid another war, if you don't mind. Can we try talking to them again? Not the crazies, I mean, but the calmer, more peaceful faithful? Maybe we can find allies. If we can find people to argue that we are on the side of God, faith, and morality it makes the attractiveness of authoritarian sects that much less. We have what they have, and freedom too! Two for the price of one! Hey...that's level 3 again, isn't it?

>Can the basically illogical tenets of transcendent
>monotheism survive without the "convert or else"
>intolerance submemeset?


>It violates the principle of "your freedom to swing
>your fist ends where my nose begins." This is a valid question.

Sure, all questions are valid. A question is a statement which is neither true, nor false, but which is still meaningful. Do you understand? Could you elaborate on this principle a little? Maybe we can find a way to avoid the contradiction.

>Being an advocate of personal freedom, I have no opposition to this.

See, we have all kinds of things in common. We just have to stop always trying to "prove" things. Hell, most of the time you can just say "I think...X" And, as long as X is mostly positive people accept it as truth. Unfortunately, most people will accept almost anything as truth...which is why it is imperative that we teach them to be skeptical. But this requires that we understand how they think now, which is based in faith. Can you see that? Could you accept that it might be a useful way of looking at the world?

When I say understand, I don't mean like an observer understands a subject: with clinical detachment. I mean the way one human understands another.

>Regrettably, many contemporary trancendant monotheists
>carry the Dark Age mindset around in their crania today,
>and demand that others adhere to it also or suffer their
>wrath; this is unfortunate but true.

If I had the ability to show you what was in your mind a CAT scan of your soul...I think you would be surprised what has gotten in there. We are all carrying baggage. KMO showed me my unreason in mocking philosophers of science. Tim reminded me that the key to persuasion was accepting the other person. David demonstrated that I can get pushed too far, and lash out in anger. I accept this feedback greedily. How much the better that it only took an e-mail to show me the right path.

>Nietszche once said, "Faith is not wanting to know."
>But it is much worse than that; the faith of the
>contemporary fundamentalist is wanting NOT to know
>, if it contradicts their beliefs, and furthermore, so
>vehemently demanding that others not know that they
>are willing to wage cultural jihad and sabotage the
>education of our young in order to achieve this end.

Would you ban the teaching of Creationism in schools, had you the power? Do you deny the Creationists the same right to advocate for their beliefs? The children are all our love, protect, and teach as best we know how. And no one person holds the perfect solution. Now, I think there should be rules. We love the children first, and the ideology a distant second. But we have to get people to agree to these rules. Legislation is ineffective is the people do not respect the law...prohibition demonstrates this, as does the endemic "war on drugs"...speeding tickets. Good people disregard the rules all the time, and yet the culture stands.

And why? Becuase we have faith in our fellows. No matter how ugly things get. We trust that, on the whole and in the end, human nature will overcome ideology. We let people bend the rules with a wink, becuase we trust that they aren't hurting anyone most of the time. We implicitly recognize that we want people in charge of their lives, not some set of cold clinical lethal rules, be they rules of law or rules of religion.

We have faith in that, you well know, sometimes the evidence is overwhelmingly against it. Sometimes it seems very dark. And in that place it is faith that is most important.

>People who value freedom of thought and knowledge
>for knowledge's sake simply cannot, in good faith,
>allow these coercions to stand.

Agreed. Eliminate the word "these".

>>>Why should lies work simply because they're happy ones?
>>What lies? I don't understand.
>You're the one who told a story about clerical isolation and
>madness, then added the caveat that you didn't insist that it
>was true, just believeable; remember?

Is there a difference between a lie and a story? If I tell you a story about "freedom" and "democracy" am I lying to you, or am I helping you to see a critical but intangible component of our modern culture? Were is <freedom>? Is it centered on the Statue of Liberty? If the Statue were destroyed in an accident would we also lose <freedom>? If the Constitution burns in a fire would we lose <democracy>? Of course not. These things are ideals which we aspire to, which we each try to embody in the best way we know how. Now, I would have to think very hard before I held <democracy> as more significant than a single human life...I would have to recognize the inherent evil associated in ending life. But, I just might be willing to die for it...and it is possible that I would kill to defend it. I pray that I am never placed in a situation where I must make those decisions. Since the lord helps those that help themsleves, I try very hard to convince people that democracy and freedom are some of the best memes in town.

>>And in the heat of that confrontation, you cannot let your
>>faith in those principles waver. You commit to action,
>>and see it through. In is here, at a more refective place,
>>that we can put off that armor for a moment and inspect
>>our wounds.
>They are considerable. I was consoling my wife after she
>was called horrid things by these self-righteous thugs, and
>some fellow from across the line called out, "Hey, baby,
>come over here, and I'll show you what a REAL man's like!"
>I lost it and went after him, screaming, "You Fuckwad!",
>and it took six other escorts to restrain me. He ran like a
>rabbit, laughing. Three clinics were firebombed here a
>few years ago, within hours of each other, on Christmas
>Eve, as a present to Jesus on his birthday. These are

We agree on this point. The things you describe are evil things. We may call the people evil, or deranged...but whatever the case they are dangerous. While it is our duty to teach, we also have to watch out for our saftey and for the saftey of others. I don't know that trying to go after the guy was the best strategy. But, I do understand it. In the same situation...who knows what I would do? I'm quite a non-violent person by nature, but anyone can be pushed too far.

>I will post something much more explicit for your
>perusal. They ,sure of the righteousness of their
>cause, have no shame about it.

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to read it. Talking to you about it...I think that serves some purpose. Even though the stories you tell aren't pretty ones, I feel that by sharing them with you I might be able to in some very small way make things seem a little better.

I can't see any purpose in reading the diatribes of madmen, and I trust you when you say it is disgusting.

>>Who says those insane bastards know anything about
>>Christ? Did Christ ever lift a hind to strike in anger?
>The Moneylenders in the Temple comes to mind.

I thought about that, too. Did he strike anyone? I remember that he overturned tables and shouted a lot. Who knows anyway, right? It's a parable. Maybe the lesson we should take is that even exceptionally good people can be pushed too far?

>We have been fired upon in this city many times.
>The only time these people turn cheeks is to show their asses.

Ouch! I mean't metaphorically. See how aphorisms can be both true and false? I meant you have to have faith to fight faith. I wasn't recommending violence.

>>>It has always been an us/them system, and only the us's
>>>get the brotherly love; the rest get the rack.
>>Too true. But, remember, even a violent conflict is just
>>an exchange of information. Be careful that you don't
>>find yourself infected with that same "us/them" meme.
>>I'd hate to see you spit on an innocent.
>I hate seeing them spit on too, especially when I know them

I hate to see innocents spit on in general. I hate to see people spit on. I think spitting is a bad habit.

>The message was that those who don't oppose evil when
>it's young and weak get rolled by it when it's older and

That's a message I try to act on every day. Sometimes it leads me to make people uncomfotable for a while. But I have faith that these are very good people who have, sometimes, been pushed a little too far.

>>>A local Catholic priest Rev. Trosch...

>>Do his superiors know about this? Have you contacted
>>them to ask what a raving lunatic like that is doing
>>wearing a frock?
>His parish was removed from him and he refused the silencing.

Well then, he isn't a Catholic anymore, is he? He can say whatever he likes, but the Catholics want nothing to do with him. The Catholics are as disgusted by him as you are.

>Half of his congregation left with him.

Like I said: unfortunately, most people will accept anything as truth. This is why it is imperative that...and so on... You remember the rest, right?

>There is no institutional restraint on their radical tendencies now.

Oh, but there is. We have each other. We have formed a governement for our mutual protection. The rule of law is in tension with freedom, and in democracy there are many voices which must be satisfied...but these people are not beyond our institutions, only the dead are.

We are scrupulous about the use of force against them becuase we recognize our own weakness. We recognize that, no matter how good we are, we can be pushed too far. We recognize that the use of force has it's own seductive quality and that authoritarianism is always a possibility.

But we do not shirk from force when we can find no other solution. We don't hide from the thin end of the wedge. We are pragmatic, and sometimes we resolve to push back, with care.


  Reed Konsler