Notes from the lava pit
53 minutes ago
There was a widespread and bipartisan impulse, in the wake of yesterday’s health care ruling, to cast John Roberts’ exercise in political finesse as a potentially significant long-term win for conservatism. Variants of this case were made by George Will and Jay Cost on the right, Jonathan Chait and Tom Scocca on the liberal side of things, and many others besides....
I would find this perspective considerably more persuasive if I could envision how, exactly, this war of “slow constriction” is supposed to play out. Does anyone really believe that a Roberts-led Court is likely to revisit the constitutionality of the major post-New Deal social programs? That it’s going to overturn child labor laws and minimum wage laws, or shutter regulatory agencies? Whatever precedent was set yesterday, that kind of genuine counter-revolution seems highly unlikely.
Likewise, does anyone believe that a host of new Obamacare-style programs — crucial to liberalism’s ambitions, but vulnerable to constitutional challenge — are likely to pass Congress in the next decade or two? If we were entering an era in which an aggressive, ascendant liberalism were poised to push through more sweeping social legislation, then Roberts’ line in the sand might matter enormously for a whole series of looming debates. But the state of our finances (and our politics) makes it much more likely that the Obamacare contest will be remembered as a last lurch forward for welfare state liberalism than the first of many attempted government expansions like it. The manner in which liberals won yesterday could theoretically cost them opportunities to further expand the administrative state, but they probably weren’t going to have those opportunities anyway.
In an intellectual sense, the logic of the health care mandate may indeed have been “pregnant with rampant statism,” as Will puts it. But in terms of practical politics, the health care bill was itself the most statist act that’s likely to pass Congress over the next decade at least, and maybe in John Roberts’ lifetime. And by upholding it, Roberts handed liberals a victory in the scope-of-government war that matters most to them, while at worst setting them up to lose some less important skirmishes somewhere down the road.
The abstract legal question has been under discussion for a while. The new part is not that a circumcision counts as bodily injury. German courts have always helt that basically every medical treatment is a "bodily injury" under section 223 of the criminal code. There are however legal justifications that make the act of bodily injury legal. The most important one is consent, which is why doctors are still in business.There's more in the full post about the specific context, how the case progressed, and the likelihood (apparently high) that legislation will be passed to make it clear that circumcision is a protected religious practice. Go read the whole thing.
Now the question is if parents can consent to their children's circumcision. The general rule is that they can consent to medical procedures if they are in the child's best interest. What exactly counts as the child's best interest is not defined by statute and basically left to the courts. Most German legal scholars think circumcision is in the best interest of a child growing up in a religious setting that demands it, because in that context it's an important part of socialization. A minority think it isn't, because an irreversible damage is more important.
Unlike common law systems, the German legal system doesn't officially have binding precedents. So no new law has been created and any other court or theoretically even the same one could find different in different cases. But this specific court has made its opinion known and presumably would find child circumcision criminal in other appeals from its district.
I am ashamed for my country. Obviously a statute in need of interpretation should be interpreted in the light of the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty. And I think it's pretty obvious that circumcision wins for every religion prescribing it.
But in this case it's especially bad because of our national history with the Jews. A German court declaring it a crime to practice the Jewish religion is even more heinous than it "just" failing to get religious freedom. A week ago I would have thought this impossible and people in other countries are fully justified in downgrading their opinion of Germany.
Still, please keep your sense of proportion in the extent of how far you downgrade your opinion of Germany. Idiotic court rulings happen in all countries and the principles of this one will not stand.
The idea of curling up with a good book has increasingly come to mean flipping on an e-reader, not flipping through the pages of a leather-bound novel in a book-lined room.
Yet the home library is on the rise, having become something of a cerebral status symbol. Affluent homeowners are buying quality books in quantity to amass collections for private personal libraries. These rooms are as much aesthetic set pieces and public displays of intelligence as they are quiet spaces to reflect and retreat. Some people are also seeking the services of experts to help pull together notable collections or to advise on the look, feel and content of their home libraries.
A ﬁrst-octavo set of John James Audubon's 'Birds of America' The equivalent of owning a Damien Hirst spot painting.
Anything by Charles Dickens Says: 'I really do read books.' Extra points if displaying 'Barnaby Rudge.''
A Visit From the Goon Squad' by Jennifer Egan Owner is conﬁdent enough to display pop ﬁction, and likely reads it, too.
'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins Says: 'I am very current with what the kids are into,' for better or for worse.
But, that wasn’t my point.
My point was that I have been doing the – (deep breath) – school supplies - does your uniform fit? – your teacher wants what? we just bought all the school supplies – book covers? Why do we have to do bookcovers? - welcome to our SCHOOL FAMILY – parent/teacher meeting – beginning of the year orientation – parent/teacher conferences – giftwrap sales – please return these papers signed on Tuesdays – please return THESE papers signed on Mondays – I have to find an article for music class – but I get extra credit if you go to the PTO meeting! – make an adobe model out of sugar cubes – is your field trip shirt the green one or the blue one? – yes, I signed your planner – wait,don’t throw that away, we need the box tops – SCHOOL FAMILY – you need a check for what? – do you have hot lunch today or not? – candygrams – wait, is it a jeans day today – boosterthon? Try not to run too many laps, okay? - please send cupcakes/cookies/goldfish but NO PEANUTS – POSTERBOARD – SCHOOL FAMILY.- thing for twenty-five (25) years.
Perhaps the most serious accusation against pornography is that it incites sexual aggression. But not only do rape statistics suggest otherwise, some experts believe the consumption of pornography may actually reduce the desire to rape by offering a safe, private outlet for deviant sexual desires.
“Rates of rapes and sexual assault in the U.S. are at their lowest levels since the 1960s,” says Christopher J. Ferguson, a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University. The same goes for other countries: as access to pornography grew in once restrictive Japan, China and Denmark in the past 40 years, rape statistics plummeted. Within the U.S., the states with the least Internet access between 1980 and 2000—and therefore the least access to Internet pornography—experienced a 53 percent increase in rape incidence*, whereas the states with the most access experienced a 27 percent drop in the number of reported rapes, according to a paper published in 2006 by Anthony D’Amato, a law professor at Northwestern University.
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But your statement that the more porn => less rape correlation is "very loose" requires pushback. The fact is, those two trends have been observed together all over the world: whenever porn availability goes up, rape goes down. Everywhere. So:Given the shoddy nature of the "research" which Joel has quoted thus far, I rather doubt that there's any convincing research being done on the topic that would support Joel's pet claim, but I'll toss out a couple of minimum requirements to suggest that the availability of internet pornography has anything like a real effect on the incidence of rape:
1) You are actually telling us that this is coincidence? Really? It happens again and again, and you still say, "Coincidence"?
2) There's a simple and straightforward explanation as to why this is in fact causation: The safety valve effect of porn is real.
So tell me: what evidence would it take to convince you of this? Consider your answer carefully, because some researchers are probably looking into it right now, and you may rest assured that I will notify you when their results are published.
I’m still confused about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, I still need to do a lot of work to accept gifts graciously, and I still love steam engines.It's good to have her coming into the fold, and she'll certainly continue to be in my prayers.
Starting tomorrow, this blog is moving to the the Patheos Catholic channel (the url and RSS will remain unchanged). Meanwhile, I’m in RCIA classes at a DC parish, so you can look forward to more Parsing Catholicism tags (and after the discussion of universalism we had last week, I think it will be prudent to add a “Possibly Heretical” category).
This post isn’t the final word on my conversion. I’m sure there’s a lot more explaining and arguing to do, so be a little charitable in your read of this post and try to give me a little time to expand my ideas over the next few weeks. (Based on my in-person arguments to date, it seems like most of my atheist friends disagree two or three steps back from my deciding Morality is actually God. They usually diverge back around the bit where I assert morality, like math, is objective and independent of humans. As one of my friends said, “Well, I guess if I were a weird quasi-Platonist virtue ethicist, this would probably convince me”).