Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ignoring the Christian Point of View

In Wednesday's Daily, Tim Miller of the Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists seriously proposed that 'religious leaders have a bias against certain “sins,” like homosexuality, that they cannot understand,' completely ignoring the parts of the Bible that call out homosexuality as an immoral abomination. This is such a laughable assertion that I was sure there would be a letter from a Christian student the next day explaining how things really work. When no such letter appeared, I just assumed no students had bothered to send in a letter, until I received a copy of a letter that was sent to the Daily early Wednesday afternoon:

"Tim Miller's belief that religious leaders have some mysterious bias against homosexuality is way off the mark. Given that no sin is worse than another, here is an actual Christian perspective on why the sin of homosexuality is considered more serious than other sins.

If a man commits the sin of lust, to use Miller's example, he may sin momentarily, but he does not define himself by it. When a man commits the sin of homosexuality, he is in a constant state of sin, for by identifying himself as a homosexual, he is willfully acting against God's will with the full knowledge that what he is doing is sinful. Thus, homosexuality is moreso a mindset than a single act; this is why it is "singled-out," as Miller puts it. Were a man to come to church and say, "I'm a luster, and I am proud of it, because it is the way I was made," his sin of lust would be considered just as serious as the sin of homosexuality.

The main point of the matter is this: all have fallen short of the glory of God. We can either repent and ask for God's forgiveness, or we can continue in our ways, knowing full well that our actions are displeasing to God. Homosexuals take the latter path, and this is why it is such a serious matter.

Christina Tewes
Carlson School of Management"

I wonder why the Daily has decided not to publish a correct Christian point of view on the subject. I'm intent on finding out, and I hope to have more to report tomorrow. Who knows? Perhaps they decided that the best place for this campus to get its Christian theology is from an atheist.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

You Be the Judge

Below is the full text of my e-mail debate with Karl Noyes about his Secret Service column. His responses and the text from his original article are bolded for easy comprehension. Now you can decide for yourself if I was making degrading points or if Noyes thinks himself too important to respond. Text in red are points I made that Noyes has not yet responded to; be forewarned - there's a lot of red text.

--

There are a few misleading points Karl Noyes's column that I felt needed to be made more clear.

Karl: Thank you for your email. I wish my column was more carefully read but nevertheless, I can clarify a few things for you.

"The artist, Al Brandtner, had the gall to create a panel of enlarged postage stamps with Bush and a handgun lurking in the background."

If by "lurking in the background," Noyes meant "pointed at his head in an execution-style fashion..." You can see the picture here.


Karl: In my mind Bush is the focal point of attention of Brandtner's work, he is the first thing the viewer sees thus I believe it is correct to say that the gun is in the background.

To say that the gun is "lurking in the background" is wholly untrue. It is neither lurking, nor is it visually implied to be in the background. It is physically at the same depth level as the President's head. Do you think that the gun in this picture is lurking in the background? Of course not.

"Who knows how many other anti-art missions the Secret Service has conducted?"

The Secret Service is charged with investigating any and all threats on the President's life. These were not "anti-art" missions; they were doing their job. Does Noyes seriously believe what he writes?

Karl: Do you think exhibits and high school band rehearsals are threats to the President's life?

It doesn't matter if I think so. It matters if the Secret Service thinks so.

From the ABC News article about the "high school band rehearsal" you mention:

"But some students and adults who heard the band rehearse called a radio talk show Thursday morning, saying the song the band sang ended with a call for President Bush to die.
Threatening the president is a federal crime, so the Secret Service was called to the school to investigate. "

When you refer to this group as a "high school band," you are once again being misleading. The song was sang for a talent show, and not performed by the high school's band, as you imply.

Jeff Weise (of Red Lake) made an animation depicting himself brutally murdering about a dozen people with a handgun and then shooting himself shortly before he brutally murdered about a dozen people with a handgun and then shot himself. Do you think his "art" was at all indicative of his future behavior? The phrase "better safe than sorry" comes to mind.

"Some citizens even took a vigilante approach when they had an art show in New York closed because a portrait of Bush made out of monkey pictures and grass was deemed too offensive."

Incorrect. The Secret Service had nothing to do with this incident. The gallery manager closed the exhibit himself after seeing the painting. You can read more about the *facts* here: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04355/429620.stm

Karl: Of course the Secret Service had nothing to do with the New York incident that is why I called it a vigilante approach, outside of law, not through law.

The wording in your original column can be taken in this way:

"Who knows how many other anti-art missions the Secret Service has conducted? Some citizens even took a vigilante approach when they [the Secret Service] had an art show in New York closed because a portrait of Bush made out of monkey pictures and grass was deemed too offensive."

So in your mind, threatening a boycott is vigilante justice? From the article:

"On Dec. 8, however, the day before the exhibit opened, a manager called Turco and said a Bush supporter had threatened to boycott the market if Savido's painting was not taken down.

Turco removed the painting, but he decided to put it back up for the exhibition's opening, which attracted more than 2,000 people.

When the market manager saw the painting, he ended the party."

"Indeed, the true act of art, of creation and not of entrepreneurship, must boggle the mind of many Bush supporters. If you cannot profit or satisfy a power urge through art, why do it?"

Here, Noyes decides to use one of the logical fallacies (the false dilemma; more here: http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/distract/fd.htm ) as an argument. He expects readers to believe the Bush supporters will only commit an act if one can profit from it or satisfy a power urge, which is obviously an incomplete set of options.

"Yet, it is this ignorance of the purpose of art, or perhaps the realization that art is one of the few remaining avenues to subvert the Bush administration, that has inspired Bush’s crackdown."

The Secret Service has not arrested any of these artists, nor has it stopped the art from being viewed. Investigating a possible threat on the President's life does not equal a crackdown on the arts.

Karl: The purpose of the Secret Service visits is not to arrest artists but to create a chilling effect. Just as the tortures in Guantanamo and Iraq are meant to instill fear and take away identity rather than to gather information or punish.

So you're comparing the torture of terrorists to the investigation of threats on the President's life? The tortures in Guantanamo *are* meant to gather information and punish. Why would you say they aren't?

The main point that you're ignoring is that having freedom of speech does not guarantee one the freedom from consequences.

"While Bush is sending out the Secret Service to act like a modern-day Gestapo..."

George Bush is not checking art exhibits and dispatching the Secret Service when he doesn't care for the art; the Secret Service acts independently of the President's personal opinions.

Also, Godwin's Law applies here.

Karl: President Bush sets the tone for his Secret Service and a crackdown on artists is apparently acceptable to him because they keep occurring.

Do you know this for a fact, or are you just making it up? Also, you keep using the word "crackdown." That must mean something different to you than it does to the rest of the world. Can you explain what is being cracked down on?

"For every two-bit demagogue mindlessly spouting Bible quotes, there are youth writing poetry and hip-hop lyrics."

I like the imagery here. Religious types are "two-bit demagogues," but rappers are "youth writing poetry." Just so you know, I am personally offended. Not that Noyes cares, but I thought I'd mention it.

Karl: I do not say that all people who quote the bible are two-bit demogogues, I merely say for every two bit demagogue i.e. Pat Robertson, never implying all who read the Bible. If you are offended that I call people like Pat Robertson two-bit demoagogues, then there is not much I can do.

I'm not so much offended that you don't like Pat Robertson as I am that you use your prejudices against religion to try and make a point that Bush fosters an anti-art atmosphere.

"For every Toby Keith wailing Bush love songs, there are probably 10 underground punk bands calling for Bush’s scalp."

"*Probably..." When you don't have the facts to back up your argument, a good idea is to just preface what you'd like to be true with "probably."

"By the way, another world leader didn’t like unflattering portraits of himself. His name is Saddam Hussein."

Ah yes, a valid comparison, since both leaders had artists executed when they didn't like their work. Oh wait, you mean that was just Saddam? Bush hasn't personally stopped a single artist from expressing themselves? As a "senior editorial board member," I thought that Noyes would have been aware of that, but the fact that he wasn't certainly shows how closed-minded that Daily's editorial board apparently is.


Karl: Bush has fostered and tolerated an atmosphere where anti-Bush art can be removed and exhibits closed and sanctions intimidation of artists. What is the next step?

I believe the next step would be the slippery slope into hell. Soon, anybody who professes to enjoy art will be shot on sight and all expressions of creativity will be burned. Everyone in America will be a soulless, mindless drone, and The Great Leader Bush will tell us what to think. Is that on par with where you're going?

Do you think that the Secret Service has only investigated threats into this President's life? What did they do while Clinton was president - sit around and eat bonbons? What you've done is taken an occurence that has happened during every Presidency in the last fifty years and tried to use it to promote your hatred of Bush. Good luck with that.

Karl: Do you support what is being done in Guantanamo and Iraq with prisoners?

To what exactly are you referring? Do I support the interrogation of al-Qaeda and Taliban members? Or are you asking me if I support the a few isolated incidents of prisoner abuse? Perhaps if I support Lyndie England or if I'm rooting for a guilty verdict? I don't exactly see what my support or lack thereof of the military's prisoner interrogation tactics has to do with your defense of your column.

Karl: Your support of Guantanamo or the Iraq prisoner policy has a lot to do with whether or not you are rational human being.

In other words, if someone doesn't agree with you, then they are not rational? Give me a break. You never even clarified what it was you were asking me if I supported. Here's a question: Do you support what is going on in America? Yes or no please.

Karl: I support that people have the rights to have boycotts. People can boycott all they want, the point is that government policies are fostering unjust boycotts. Sure people can boycott and protest, but I think it is pretty sad when that is used as an excuse not to debate the issue.

Unjust boycotts? You think the government should be able to tell people what they can and cannot boycott? That is ridiculous!


Karl: I think it is a travesty that the exhibit promoters in these cases gave in to them. I don't care who is suppressing art, I don't support that suppression.

So you're arguing against the exhibit promoter's freedom to have the choice of what art he displays in his own exhibit? That's unconstitutional.

Karl: As to the rest of your points, I feel they degrade the value of this argument and are not worth even addressing.


Ah, now I get it. Given this stance on addressing reader's complaints from the Daily's senior editorial board member, I now more fully understand why the Daily's editorial section works like it does. If you don't like the points made by a reader in his submission, it's just a degrading piece and it goes in the trash, right?

If you didn't take the time to read through my points, you can say so.

If you don't have the time to respond, you can say so.

If you don't feel that you can respond, you can say so.

If you don't know how to respond, you can say so.

If you just don't want to respond, you can say so.

But if you honestly believe that the points I made are degrading and not worth addressing, then God help you.

This Explains A Lot

I've been e-mailing back and forth with Karl Noyes, trying to get him to explain his recent column regarding the Secret Service. In a recent e-mail, rather than answering some questions I had posed to him, he asked me, "Do you support what is being done in Guantanamo and Iraq with prisoners?" I asked why it was relevant, and this is the answer I got:

"Hello Mr. Finke,

Your support of Guantanamo or the Iraq prisoner policy has a lot to do with whether or not you are rational human being.

I support that people have the rights to have boycotts. People can boycott all they want, the point is that government policies are fostering unjust boycotts. Sure people can boycott and protest, but I think it is pretty sad when that is used as an excuse not to debate the issue. I think it is a travesty that the exhibit promoters in these cases gave in to them. I don't care who is suppressing art, I don't support that suppression.

As to the rest of your points, I feel they degrade the value of this argument and are not worth even addressing.

thank you,

Karl Noyes"

His response pretty much speaks for itself: "If you don't agree with me, you are irrational. If I don't agree with a boycott, it is unjust, and the government should end it. If I don't agree with your argument, it is degrading."

I may post the full text of our e-mail debate later, but given that Noyes is the Daily Editorial Board's senior member, this kind of fingers-in-ears, "la la la I can't hear you" attitude explains a lot about how the Board functions.

Informed Minds Think Alike

It appears I was not the only one who saw through Karl Noyes's fantasy piece about the Secret Service as the anti-art brigade. The Daily printed a letter from graduate student Ben Ellingson today that brought up many of the same points I did in my letter, but in a much more reader-friendly manner. If you want a good summary of the misleading points in Noyes's article but don't like my play-by-play style, Ellingson's letter is a must read.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

No Bias at the Daily, No Siree

There are a few misleading points Karl Noyes's anti-Bush, anti-facts column that I felt needed to be made more clear.

"The artist, Al Brandtner, had the gall to create a panel of enlarged postage stamps with Bush and a handgun lurking in the background."

If by "lurking in the background," Noyes meant "pointed at his head in an execution-style fashion..." I've attached a picture of the exhibit, and you can read more about it at PowerLineBlog.


"Who knows how many other anti-art missions the Secret Service has conducted?"

The Secret Service is charged with investigating any and all threats on the President's life. These were not "anti-art" missions; they were doing their job. Does Noyes seriously believe what he writes?

"Some citizens even took a vigilante approach when they had an art show in New York closed because a portrait of Bush made out of monkey pictures and grass was deemed too offensive."

Incorrect. The Secret Service had nothing to do with this incident. The gallery manager closed the exhibit himself after seeing the painting. You can read more about the *facts* here: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04355/429620.stm

"Indeed, the true act of art, of creation and not of entrepreneurship, must boggle the mind of many Bush supporters. If you cannot profit or satisfy a power urge through art, why do it?"

Here, Noyes decides to use one of the logical fallacies (the false dilemma) as an argument. He expects readers to believe the Bush supporters will only commit an act if one can profit from it or satisfy a power urge, which is obviously an incomplete set of options.

"Yet, it is this ignorance of the purpose of art, or perhaps the realization that art is one of the few remaining avenues to subvert the Bush administration, that has inspired Bush’s crackdown."

The Secret Service has not arrested any of these artists, nor has it stopped the art from being viewed. Investigating a possible threat on the President's life does not equal a crackdown on the arts.

"While Bush is sending out the Secret Service to act like a modern-day Gestapo..."

George Bush is not checking art exhibits and dispatching the Secret Service when he doesn't care for the art; the Secret Service acts independently of the President's personal opinions.

Also, Godwin's Law applies here.

"For every two-bit demagogue mindlessly spouting Bible quotes, there are youth writing poetry and hip-hop lyrics."

I like the imagery here. Religious types are "two-bit demagogues," but rappers are "youth writing poetry." Just so you know, I am personally offended. Not that Noyes cares, but I thought I'd mention it.

"For every Toby Keith wailing Bush love songs, there are probably 10 underground punk bands calling for Bush’s scalp."

"*Probably..." When you don't have the facts to back up your argument, a good idea is to just preface what you'd like to be true with "probably."

"By the way, another world leader didn’t like unflattering portraits of himself. His name is Saddam Hussein."

Ah yes, a valid comparison, since both leaders had artists executed when they didn't like their work. Oh wait, you mean that was just Saddam? Bush hasn't personally stopped a single artist from expressing themselves? As a "senior editorial board member," I thought that Noyes would have been aware of that, but the fact that he wasn't certainly shows how closed-minded that Daily's editorial board is.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

To Sean P. Corcoran

Regarding Sean P. Corcoran's slanderous attack on the conservative and religious sectors that the Daily chose to run today:

Bill Frist never said that HIV can be contracted from sweat and tears; rather, he said it would be very difficult to get HIV from sweat and tears. He said, and I quote, "It would be very hard. It would be very hard for tears and sweat, I mean, you can get virus in tears and sweat but in terms of the degree of infecting somebody, it would be very hard."

You can, in fact, find HIV in sweat and tears, if you believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since you quoted the phrase "secular terrorists," I'm going to assume you have a source for it. Would you mind sharing?

Also, how exactly did Congress "attempt to rewrite the constitution in the name of God"? Do you have any facts to back up your bigotry against conservatives? All that Congress did was make it possible for a federal court to hear the Schiavo case. Don't let that get in your way though.

"The right has proven itself adept at exploiting the death of Pope John Paul II to spread its message." Oh really? Do you have any proof? No?

"Many pharmacists throughout the nation are intimidated by religious radicals to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control." Proof? No?

"Often public school teachers shirk the subject of evolution, fearing a backlash by conservative parents." Proof? No?

"It is time to recognize that the rise of theocracy here is just as frightening as it is in Baghdad." Yes, since the leaders of our government are also the leaders of the state-mandated religion, just as they are in Iraq. Oh wait - you mean neither the United States nor Iraq has anything resembling a theocracy? My bad. Just because the majority of the people in the United States want to be represented by politicians with morals and ethics does not make our government a theocracy.

If you're going to make things up, at least make up some facts to support them. But then again, perhaps you're just trying to prove your adage that "The Daily sucks because it's run by a large number of amateurs, many of which lack the experience and time to check their facts and edit their work before printing."

Reserve Your T-Shirt Today!

Reserve your "Liberal Bias: I Get It Daily" t-shirt today. Once there are enough requests, an order will be placed. The cost per shirt should be somewhere around $7; e-mail fink0120@umn.edu with your name, phone number, and t-shirt size, and you'll be contacted when the shirts are goign to be ordered.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Nick Woomer Cartoon

Do you ever get the feeling while reading one of Nick Woomer's columns that all he is trying to do is inflate his own self-importance? Me too: