At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Losing the Language: How the GOP Undermines Itself–and Liberty

posted by Jack Kerwick

As the mid-term elections approach, it’s high time for Republican commentators to walk the walk.

Just the other morning, Mark Steyn, busily promoting his new book, made an appearance on Bill Bennett’s radio program. The latter agreed enthusiastically with the former that in order for conservatives to prevail culturally, it is imperative for them to prevent the left from assuming control of the language.

Newsflash for Bill and Mark: That ship has long since sailed beyond the horizon.

From at least the time that neoconservatives came to dominate the Republican Party—and perhaps even earlier—so-called “conservatives” have been ceding the language to the left. This, in all fairness, may have not a little to do with the fact that, intellectually and ideologically, neoconservatives are the products of leftist traditions themselves.  But the point remains:

Courtesy of GOP-friendly commentators like Bennett and Steyn (and countless others), the left has achieved nothing less than a monopoly on our language.

Examples of this phenomenon are too plentiful to recount here, but a select list should suffice to make the point.

(1)GOP mouthpieces routinely decry “multiculturalism” while insisting that “we are all Americans,” and yet they never cease to describe, say, blacks and Hispanics as “African-Americans” and “Latino Americans,” respectively.

(2)While paying lip service to the need to secure America’s borders, so-called “conservatives” either advocate on behalf of “comprehensive immigration reform”—i.e. amnesty—or, if they do not explicitly call for this, they nonetheless tirelessly proclaim their support for legal immigration—regardless of the Third World from which it originates.

(3)In championing immigration, Republican media figures can be relied upon to echo the leftist mantra that “America is a nation of immigrants.” Few leftist sound bites are as idiotic as this one.  And few are as instrumental to the “fundamental transformation”—the destruction—of the country.

(4)GOP talking heads are just as ready to cry “racism” as are their leftist counterparts. Thus, they legitimize the Big Lie that (white) “racism” is an omnipresent threat to everything that Americans hold sacred.  But it isn’t just that this is a bold-faced lie; more so than any other device, it is a lie that the left has exploited in the service of facilitating its “progressive”—i.e. its socialist-totalitarian—agenda.

What’s even worse is that self-declared “conservatives” don’t just accuse those to their left of being the real “racists.”  They’re at least as eager to throw one another under the bus at the first sign that one of their own may have made a remark that could be construed as “racist.”

As for those to their right—libertarians and genuine or traditional conservatives—our “conservatives” reserve unmitigated contempt.

(5)What’s true of “racism” is no less true of “sexism”: neoconservative Republicans, far from debunking it, actually legitimize the notion that there is a “war” on women.

Just this week, Rick Santorum was a guest on Michael Medved’s radio show. Santorum’s rejoinder to the charge that Republicans war against women is a familiar one: It is actually the left, with its detestation of traditional sexual mores and avid support for abortion and the like, that really hates women.

Again, rather than mock or dismiss the language of the left, faux conservatives accept its terms.

(6) “Conservative” Republicans remain intent upon invoking the idiom of “rights” when discussing every moral issue—even though this idiom has long been the left’s preferred manner of speaking about morality. Leftists know well that abstractions like “human rights” are ready-made to grow government while coercing society into serving their agenda.

In accepting the idea of universal rights (whether they’re called “natural,” “moral,” or “human”), Republicans sanction the moral machinery underwriting the Big Government program of the left.

(7)Republicans ache for leaders in Washington behind whom they can rally.  However, the idea that politicians—government office-holders—should be leaders is a staple of leftist thought.  Just the firing of a few neurons goes some distance in seeing why this is so.

First, and most obviously, leaders are expected to, well, lead. But lead who, and lead where?  If politicians—those with a monopoly on both the authority to coerce the citizenry into doing their bidding as well as the power to insure that it does so—are expected to be leaders, then it is to some imagined political promised land or other that they are supposed to “lead” the rest of us.

What this in turn means, though, is that to be effective leaders, politicians must be visionaries, aggressive activists who compel citizens to part with their property, time, and maybe even their very lives in the service of fulfilling the leader’s plans for a better tomorrow.

In other words, there is no scheme that is more antithetical to individual liberty than one involving government office-holders who are leaders.

Second, if politicians are expected to be leaders, then the left is right and politics trump all other considerations.  Culture is secondary to politics.  Politics make the world go round, for all that is needed is that we elect real leaders.

These are just some examples of how “conservatives” have indeed relinquished the language to the left.


Political Correctness and Ebola

posted by Jack Kerwick

That there is a sensationalistic dimension to the Ebola coverage is something of which I have no doubt.

Sensationalizing events is what the media does best. There may even be a sense in which it can be said that sensationalism is intrinsic to mass media.  Sensationalism serves the interests of two groups of people: media personalities and the politicians with whom they collude.

Both the reputations and wallets of media figures are likely to inflate as long as they continue creating “news” that arrests the attention of citizens who find it increasingly difficult to attend to anything for very long.  And the politicians on whose behalf journalists and commentators advocate (in one way or another) are well served by the manufacturing of “crises.”  This, to be sure, is a bi-partisan phenomenon: Virtually every politician—particularly at the national level—agrees wholeheartedly with Rahm Emmanuel’s belief that a “good crisis” is something that must never be permitted to “go to waste.”

This being said, the fact remains that no more than a month or so ago, President Obama declared with all of the assuredness with which he prefaces all of his errors, that Ebola had basically no chance of making its way to American shores. And now that Obama has been proven wrong once more—and with such neck-breaking speed!—he not only refuses to concede having stuck his foot in his mouth; he has dug in more deeply, refusing to appropriate the most elementary measures, like a travel ban vis-à-vis such Ebola-ridden “hot zones” as Liberia, to protect Americans from this deadly disease.

There are reasons for this, ideological reasons, that shouldn’t be lost upon us.  Yet lest we misunderstand, it must be noted that the ideology supplying the conceptual lenses through which Obama and his fellow partisans view this phenomenon (and every other) is, to a not insignificant extent, shared by many of his Republican opponents.

For the sake of simplicity, we can call it “Political Correctness” (PC).

That’s right: for all of their bellyaching against PC, GOP politicians and their mouthpieces in much of the so-called “conservative” media have imbibed hook, line, and sinker this leftist claptrap.

First, Ebola originates in Africa. Thus, a travel ban would adversely impact blacks who desire a better life in America.  But for a (still) predominantly white country, especially a superpower like the United States, to do anything, for any reason, that could be so much as remotely construed as harming blacks sounds suspiciously like “racism.”

Beyond this, courtesy of the pernicious (to say nothing of idiotic) doctrine of “disparate impact” that, in one way or another, has long been exploited by “liberals,” “conservatives,” and “libertarians” for ideological and political purposes, the very fact that there is an “unequal” distribution of Ebola among Americans and Africans, whites and blacks, may be read as implicating white Americans as the actual culprits!

And if we denied just these poor, disease-ridden Africans entry into America, wouldn’t we be guilty of engaging in the “racist” practice of “profiling?”  Or, what’s infinitely worst, wouldn’t we be guilty of “segregating” ourselves off from these people of color?  Why, from this vantage point, the imposition of a travel ban would make Bull Connors of us all!

Secondly, to restrict immigration in this respect is to imply that we could restrict it in all respects. In other words, something like a travel ban on flights from West Africa speaks not just to the issue of “racism” toward blacks, but to the issue of immigration as well.

Of course, considering that the overwhelming majority of immigrants that has been flooding the country since the middle of the 1960’s consist of non-whites from the Third World, immigration has become a race-related issue. Yet it is precisely because of this fact that it is enthusiastically welcomed by those—like our esteemed President—who regard America’s historical white majority as a cause for lamentation.

The absolute last thing that immigration enthusiasts want to do is to show Americans that immigration can be halted.

Make no mistakes: the PC Zeitgeist regarding “racism” and immigration compose the paradigm through which the Ebola “crisis” is being approached.

But there is another prevalent idea that also serves to impede our efforts to deal sensibly with Ebola carriers from the Dark Continent.

This is the idea that America is not a historical country, but, well, an idea, a universal concept or ideal.

Here’s the problem: ideas do not—because they cannot—have borders.

An idea is an immaterial or incorporeal entity, and as the Christian philosopher Boethius once noted, it is self-evident that “incorporeal things cannot exist in a place.

If America is an idea, then Americans are citizens of the world. This in turn means that all of the world’s citizens who affirm “the idea” that is America are Americans.

Borders, then, to say nothing of—horror of horrors!—bans, are egregious.

As we watch the national debate over the topic of Ebola unfold, we should bear in mind that the forgoing constitutes the framework within which it transpires—even if no one will admit, or maybe even notice, it.

Capital Punishment Revisited

posted by Jack Kerwick

For a discussion of capital punishment, with no thinker is there a better place to begin than Ernest van den Haag. It is with justice that the latter’s seminal analysis of this topic is a staple of textbooks in college ethics courses nationwide: the author addresses the thicket of issues that are at stake in the debate over “the ultimate” penalty.

The Argument from the Mal-distribution of Capital Punishment

Van den Haag is a proponent of capital punishment. Yet he doesn’t just argue for his position; he seeks to meet the objections that are typically raised against it.  And the first such objection to which he speaks is what we may call the argument from the distribution of the death penalty.

The death penalty, opponents contend, should be abolished because of the capricious or arbitrary manner in which it is administered. According to this line of reasoning, that, say, black and poor murderers are put to death more frequently than are white and wealthy murderers, or that one and the same crime may or may not be a capital offense depending on the location in which it is committed, prove that the death penalty is unequally applied and, hence, unjust.

Van den Haag charges the advocates of this view of confusing two fundamentally distinct considerations, what we may summarily identify as the considerations of equality and justice. He remarks: “If capital punishment is immoral in se, no distribution among the guilty could make it moral.  If capital punishment is moral, no distribution would make it immoral.  Improper distribution cannot affect the quality of what is distributed, be it punishments or rewards.”

In other words, whether there is an “equal” share of this or that is morally irrelevant to the goodness or badness, rightness or wrongness—i.e. the “justice”—of the thing in question. Regarding the death penalty, the point is this: while it may be more desirable that, say, everyone who deserves it receives it, those who are deservedly executed suffer no injustice. The only morally relevant question is whether the person in question deserves to be put to death.

Think about it: Suppose that students Jones and Smith are equally deserving of an “A.” That only Jones received this grade surely would go no distance toward establishing that an injustice had been done to him. Jones, after all, got what he deserved.

Similarly, van den Haag reasons, as long as a person deserves to be executed, this is all that counts from the standpoint of justice. It matters not that others who should have been executed failed to get their just desserts.

In short, “equality,” van den Haag concludes, “seems morally less important than justice.” He adds that “justice is independent of distributional inequalities.”


While it seems true enough that the character of a thing is not determined by its distribution, it also seems true enough that incorrigible and severe distributional inequalities could warrant rejection of an activity.

Take, for instance, a campaign finance law that’s designed to prevent the wealthy from exerting a disproportionately large influence in politics. Yet this same law, (ostensibly) designed to rectify one inequality—inequality between the wealthy and non-wealthy donors—gives rise to another inequality, the inequality between incumbents—those who are guilty of “hording” their offices—and challengers.  Assuming for the moment that there should be a limit to what citizens can legally contribute to the coffers of their candidates of choice, prudence, if not justice, may still dictate the abolition of this law.

In like vein, a sufficiently intractable distributional inequality vis-à-vis the death penalty, while failing singularly to establish its injustice, might still, nevertheless, call for its abolition.


Argument from Miscarriages of Justice

Opponents of capital punishment claim that it should be abolished because innocents can be and have been executed.  The premise, though, van den Haag replies, does not support the conclusion.

For one, there are all sorts of activities—trucking, lighting, and construction, are examples that he supplies—that result in loss of innocent life, and yet we preserve these activities because we recognize (or at least believe) that their moral and material advantages outweigh their costs. We could reduce the number of people killed in car accidents each year to zero if we abolished cars.  That we have not eliminated automobiles means that we are willing to pay the cost in the loss of innocent lives for the benefits we will reap from driving.

In the case of capital punishment, the risk that innocents will be executed is the cost we are willing to pay for “the moral benefits and the usefulness of doing justice.”

A second consideration that van den Haag invokes is this: If the death penalty is unjust in itself, as opponents of capital punishment usually hold, then whether it ever miscarries is utterly beside the point.



Van den Haag’s last remark is unanswerable: if a person thinks that the death penalty is unjust irrespectively of whether the person being executed is guilty or not, then it is immaterial if that person is innocent.  In fact, capital punishment itself would be the miscarriage of justice.

However, as I suggested before, van den Haag seems to imply that all opposition to the death penalty is motivated by a belief in its injustice. This, though, is not necessarily the case: one can desire the abolition of capital punishment while conceding that murderers do indeed deserve death.

To put it another way, what’s morally desirable and what’s legally desirable aren’t necessarily one and the same.

For instance, while one can hold that some kind of punishment is indeed befitting adulterers, and maybe even hold that, ideally, the government should be authorized to administer this punishment, one may nonetheless oppose vehemently actual laws aimed at punishing adulterers.  That is, if there was a law against adultery, I could demand its abolition even while conceding that the punishment is appropriate to the crime.

To paraphrase no less a figure than Thomas Aquinas, a society that set for itself the goal of criminalizing all evils would give rise to evils greater than those it was determined to extirpate.

Van den Haag also analogizes the death penalty with other hazardous activities that we nevertheless permit. Are these, though, genuinely strong analogies? In the context of, say, trucking, people lose their lives, it is true, but these deaths are wholly unintentional. No one would think to say otherwise.  In the context of capital punishment, however, it is nothing more or less than the death of the condemned person that is intended. And it is intended, not in the heat of the moment or in self-defensive, but in the most carefully calculated of ways.

Might not this distinction be of at least some moral relevance? At any rate, it is entitled to at least a bit more attention than what van den Haag pays to it.

Argument from Deterrence

Critics of capital punishment typically assert that there is no proof that it is adeterrent to murder.  Van den Haag acknowledges this inconclusiveness while noting that this works both ways, making it impossible for proponents and opponents of the death penalty to avoid essentially gambling on their respective views: partisans of both sorts will have to make a trade-off in light of this uncertainty.

And what is at stake? According to van den Haag, the choice to support or oppose the death penalty for reasons pertaining to deterrence boils down to the choice to value either the lives of murderers or those of their potential victims.

In van den Haag’s estimation, opponents “appear to value the life of a convicted murderer or, at least, his non-execution, more highly than they value the lives of innocent victims who might be spared by deterring prospective murderers.” Even if there is only the possibility that innocent lives will be spared a murderous death courtesy of the execution of a convicted murderer, the latter (all things being equal) would have been worth it.  “Surely,” van den Haag writes, “the criminal law is meant to protect the lives of potential victims in preference to those of actual murderers.”

In any event, although statistically the evidence for the deterrent effect of capital punishment is inconclusive, van den Haag thinks that, intuitively, the promise of death tends to deter more so than does the promise of life imprisonment.  Upon quoting James Fitzjames Stephen, he asserts that our shared intuition that murder is the most egregious of crimes is at least in part the product of the fact that murder has generally been punished more severely than has any other crime.


The mere possibility that some innocent lives will be spared may not be a morally compelling reason for capital punishment—the act, mind you, of deliberately killing someone who is powerless to fight back.  Some could argue that the potential moral benefits in such a situation simply don’t outweigh the costs.


The execution of a convict is more expensive than is the penalty of life imprisonment, it is often said. Van den Haag is not convinced by this claim for two reasons.

First, such studies as are often cited to substantiate it are “flawed” for implying “that life prisoners will generate no judicial costs during their imprisonment.”

Secondly, monetary expenses can only be of secondary importance when compared to the moral imperative of meting out justice.


In point of fact, while we’d like to think otherwise, none of us, in our daily lives, ascribe categorical priority to justice. When “doing justice” becomes prohibitively costly, we don’t “do it.” If it was the case that executing convicted murderers were an outrageously expensive exercise, if, in other words, it became infeasible to continue this activity, then it would be imprudent (and maybe even impossible) to do so. Changes of some kind would need to be made.

The point is that van den Haag appears here to be resorting moralistic rhetoric when he implies that if the conflict boils down to a contest between “money” and “justice,” the latter must always prevail.

Relative Suffering

Others contend that capital punishment violates the principle of “lex talionis” which demands that a punishment be proportionate to the crime: the executed murderer, from this perspective, suffers more than his victim.

Van den Haag answers that whether the murderer suffers more than his victim is anyone’s guess. Ultimately, however, this is irrelevant, for the murderer deserves his suffering; his victim most assuredly did not.

Moreover, this argument from the principle of “lex talionis” reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the character and purpose of this principle. The latter is a principle of retribution, i.e. a social principle, meant to usurp the role that private or personal revenge had historically played.  Retribution has nothing to do with vengeance against an assailant or compensation for a victim.  Rather, its function is to “vindicate the law and the social order undermined by the crime.”


Opponents of the death penalty charge that through its practice, we collectively legitimize murder.

If this is true, van den Haag replies, this would mean that through imprisonment, we legitimize kidnapping, and through fines, we legitimize robbery. Of course, no one would think to make these assertions, for it is widely recognized that material equivalence is not synonymous with moral equivalence.  As van den Haag puts it: “The relevant difference [between murder and execution, kidnapping and imprisonment] is not physical, but social.”

Murder and kidnapping are “unlawful and undeserved,” while executions and imprisonment are “lawful and deserved punishment[s] for…unlawful act[s].”


Executions are legal (in some places), it is true, but whether they should be legal is what’s in question.  Similarly, whether they are deserved is also questionable.


Punishment, considered as an institutional or societal practice, exists for the sake of deterring crime. But we punish only those individuals who deserve to be punished.

Punishment, then, is, or at least should be, retributive.

When we consider punishment from the standpoint of its retributive character, van den Haag claims, there is “a sense” in which “the infliction of legal punishment on a guilty person cannot unjust.” In committing a crime, the criminal voluntarily assumes the risk of punishment in the event that he is apprehended and convicted of his crime.

There is a sense, then, in which the criminal can be said to have chosen his punishment.

Thus, van den Haag concludes, “the death penalty cannot be unjust to the guilty criminal.”


Van den Haag equivocates on the word “justice.” That a penalty happens to be affixed to a crime does not mean that it ought to be so.  For example, in the antebellum South, slaves who attempted escaping to the North risked suffering harsh penalties in the event that their plans failed.  However, if such laws were immoral, if they never should have been laws to begin with, then, morally speaking, it most certainly was unjust to treat slaves as criminals for trying to secure their own freedom.

Those critics of capital punishment whom van den Haag addresses regard it as just as legal, and just as immoral, as punishments that were once meted out to slaves who tried but failed to secure their liberty.


To those who object that capital punishment is always excessive, regardless of the crime or crimes to which it is a response, van den Haag replies that since this position can neither be confirmed nor refuted, it is an “article of faith.”

Alternatively, objectors allege that everyone has a “natural right” to life that the death penalty violates.

On this score, Van den Haag, however, agrees with the 18th century philosophy Jeremy Bentham.  The latter referred to “natural rights” as “nonsense on stilts.”




If, as van den Haag says, the notion that the death penalty is intrinsically excessive is just an “article of faith” that, as such, can’t be reasoned with, then can the same thing be said for his idea that the death penalty is (at least almost) always just for the crime of murder?

For that matter, doesn’t life generally, and morality specifically, demand an exercise of faith, faith that our thoughts resemble reality, that we can have knowledge, that there really is a difference between virtue and vice, rightness and wrongness, good and evil?

Finally, even if an idea can be said to be the function of faith, why assume that this automatically immunizes it against reason? After all, some—many—of the most brilliant thinkers have been people of faith who have insisted that genuine faith is reasonable faith.


Some, like former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, argue that capital punishment undermines “human dignity” and “the sanctity of life” by treating “‘members of the human race as nonhumans, as objects to be toyed with and discarded [.]”

Van den Haag replies in two ways:

First, such bright minds and fine ethicists as Kant and Hegel have insisted that, far from degrading the person of the executed, the death penalty actually affirms his personhood by honoring his choices, his standing as a rational agent who, in a real sense, chose his punishment.  As a side note, van den Haag remarks that life imprisonment is more degrading of a person’s dignity insofar as the person is forced to endure an existence deprived of all autonomy.

Secondly, he thinks that, in one crucial respect—and the only respect that really counts—the state of the executed criminal is indeed degraded.  Yet the degradation is self-inflicted.  The execution teaches the murderer “that his fellow men have found him unworthy of living; that because he has murdered, he is being expelled from the community of the living.”

The execution, that is, doesn’t cause the degradation of the murderer.  It is the effect of the degradation that he inflicted upon himself.



Abortion Reconsidered III

posted by Jack Kerwick

Dan Marquis contends that except in “rare cases,” abortion is immoral, and it is immoral, he further argues, because the fetus has a “FLO”—a “future like ours.”

Before arguing that abortion is wrong, Marquis first attempts to show what makes killing in general wrong. Killing is wrong, he concludes, because it deprives the person killed of a “future of value.”  Marquis writes: “The loss of one’s life deprives one of all the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that would otherwise have constituted one’s future.”

Marquis elaborates, explaining that when a person’s life is extinguished, that person is deprived of both what he values presently about his future, as well as what he would have valued later on in his life.

Since a fetus too has a future of value, a FLO, abortion is wrong for the same reason that killing anyone is wrong.

Marquis notes some virtues of his account.

First, it is silent with respect to questions concerning the relationship between such concepts as “human being” and “personhood,” as well as concomitant issues like “natural rights.” Instead, the FLO theory simply notes that a fetus is no different from any reasonably healthy adult in having a future of value. Thus, if it is wrong to kill the latter because of this consideration, it is no less wrong to kill the former because of it.

Secondly, Marquis’ FLO account accommodates several moral intuitions of ours.

  1. For starters, he believes that it does not imply that “active euthanasia” is always, or even generally, wrong: a person who is terminally ill or in pain will not suffer the loss of a future of value if his life is ended.
  2. The FLO theory leaves open the possibility that non-human species, whether mammalson Earth or extra-terrestrial entities, may have futures sufficiently similar to ours to make it just as immoral to kill them as it is immoral to kill us.
  3. On this account, it is just as wrong to kill infants and small children as it is wrong to kill adults.

Thirdly, Marquis insists that his approach does not rely upon illicit reasoning of the sort on display in the (all too common) argument that since killing persons is immoral, it must also be immoral to kill potential persons. The relevant moral category of the FLO theory is not personhood, but having a future of value.

Marquis’ position is attractive for its originality, as well as for its author’s desire to avoid the routine cluster of issues that tend to bog down the abortion debate. Yet originality is no substitute for truth.

And the truth is that Marquis’ position is not without its problems.

Marquis rightly recognizes that it is indeed invalid to reason from the wrongness of killing persons to the wrongness of killing “potential” persons. Presumably, what renders such reasoning illegitimate is not that the premise speaks to one type of being while the conclusion addresses a fundamentally different type of being. What renders the reasoning invalid is that it proceeds from what is allegedly true of one type of being—persons—to what is allegedly true of what practically amounts to a non-being: a “potential” person is a virtual no-thing.

But if this is Marquis’ reason for rejecting this argument, then hasn’t he just given a reason for rejecting his argument?

Here’s the point: the future is just as potential, just as much of a non-entity, as a so-called “potential person.” The future has not yet happened.  It is, quite literally, nothing.

There is a further problem: From the fact that a person values X, it does not follow that it would be immoral to deprive him of X. For example, Jones may value an affair with Smith’s wife, but this certainly doesn’t imply that it would be impermissible for Smith (or his wife) to deny Jones the affair.

Simply put, it is far from obvious that the wrongness of killing stems from depriving a person of a future that he values.

Closely related to this last consideration is a third problem. It can be argued that Marquis equivocates on the word “value.”  Though he speaks of a future of value, what he really means—and he says as much from time to time—is a future that one values. However, the difference between these two ways of speaking is not inconsiderable.

Whether or not this is his intention, the phrase, “a future of value,” suggests that the value in question is objective, i.e. transcends the preferences and desires of the person whose future it is.  In stark contrast, the word “value” in the phrase, a “future that I value,” is subjective: the future is valuable because, and maybe only because, I value it.

For as thought-provoking as Marquis’ FLO theory of the wrongness of abortion undoubtedly is, it nevertheless raises at least as many, if not more, of the same problems as those theories that it rivals.



Previous Posts

Losing the Language: How the GOP Undermines Itself--and Liberty
As the mid-term elections approach, it’s high time for Republican commentators to walk the walk. Just the other morning, Mark Steyn, busily promoting his new book, made an appearance on Bill Bennett’s radio program. The latter agreed enthusiastically with the former that in order for conserva

posted 10:16:04pm Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Political Correctness and Ebola
That there is a sensationalistic dimension to the Ebola coverage is something of which I have no doubt. Sensationalizing events is what the media does best. There may even be a sense in which it can be said that sensationalism is intrinsic to mass media.  Sensationalism serves the interests of t

posted 10:26:30pm Oct. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Capital Punishment Revisited
For a discussion of capital punishment, with no thinker is there a better place to begin than Ernest van den Haag. It is with justice that the latter’s seminal analysis of this topic is a staple of textbooks in college ethics courses nationwide: the author addresses the thicket of issues that are

posted 9:11:40am Oct. 14, 2014 | read full post »

Abortion Reconsidered III
Dan Marquis contends that except in “rare cases,” abortion is immoral, and it is immoral, he further argues, because the fetus has a “FLO”—a “future like ours.” Before arguing that abortion is wrong, Marquis first attempts to show what makes killing in general wrong. Killing is wron

posted 6:30:13pm Oct. 12, 2014 | read full post »

The Left, Columbus, and Why This Day is Still Worth Celebrating
Few holidays are as “politically incorrect” as is the day that Americans reserve to commemorate the birthday of Christopher Columbus. Such is the ferocity of the smear campaign to which Columbus has been subjected for decades that he has been made into a villain among villains in the rogues’ g

posted 6:11:01pm Oct. 12, 2014 | read full post »

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