Free Markets, Free People

Culture

Dope of the day – politically correct edition

I sometimes wonder what the thought process some people use, if any, when they make decisions like this:

On any other day at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Daniel Galli and his four friends would not even be noticed for wearing T-shirts with the American flag. But Cinco de Mayo is not any typical day especially on a campus with a large Mexican American student population.

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal’s office.

“They said we could wear it on any other day,” Daniel Galli said, “but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today.”

The boys said the administrators called their T-shirts “incendiary” that would lead to fights on campus.

I wonder – would Mexican-Americans wearing a Mexican flag to school on the 4th of July be considered “incendiary?” Oh, wait, we’ll never know. The 4th of July is a national holiday and school is out in the United States.

Cinco de Mayo – a “holiday” developed by bar owners as an excuse to sell more Mexican beer. It’s historic significance? It is the date the Mexican army beat the French army at the battle of Puebla in 1862. In Mexico it’s pretty much only celebrated in Puebla.  It’s kind of like us celebrating the battle of New Orleans when we thumped the Brits.  The only thing that might conceivably be considered “bad taste” would be wearing a French flag – and they lost.

I have no idea if this Vice Principal knows this, but he completely blew this out of proportion regardless. Had he simply ignored it, the day probably would have passed without incident. More infuriating, at least to me, is he (or she) decided the celebration of a bogus foreign “holiday” in the United States took precedence over displaying or showing the flag of the United States  – which he considered “incendiary”. I wonder if the school had decided not to fly it on the school’s US flag that day for the same reason?

The good news? The district left the Vice Principle out on that limb all by himself, exactly where he belongs. In their press release they said:

The district does not concur with the Live Oak High School administration’s interpretation of either board or district policy related to these actions.

Good on ya, “district”.

~McQ

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Words to live by or “do as I say, not as I do”?

President Obama at the University of Michigan over the weekend:

The… way to keep our democracy healthy is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate…. we cannot expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down. You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it. You can question someone’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism. Throwing around phrases like “socialist” and “Soviet-style takeover;” “fascist” and “right-wing nut” may grab headlines, but it also has the effect of comparing our government, or our political opponents, to authoritarian, and even murderous regimes.

… The problem is that this kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation. It prevents learning — since after all, why should we listen to a “fascist” or “socialist” or “right-wing nut?” It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things out. It robs us of a rational and serious debate that we need to have about the very real and very big challenges facing this nation. It coarsens our culture, and at its worst, it can send signals to the most extreme elements of our society that perhaps violence is a justifiable response.

So what can we do about this?

As I’ve found out after a year in the White House, changing this type of slash and burn politics isn’t easy. And part of what civility requires is that we recall the simple lesson most of us learned from our parents: treat others as you would like to be treated, with courtesy and respect.

President Obama last November:

President Obama is quoted in an November 30, 2009, interview saying that the unanimous vote of House Republicans vote against the stimulus bills “set the tenor for the whole year … That helped to create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party to where it now controls the agenda for the Republicans.”

Yesirree … no “coarsening of the culture” with that slur. No negative signals sent out to the most extreme elements of the left with that, by George.  Certainly no “vilification” and “over the top rhetoric” contained in those few words or “slash and burn politics”, right?

This is one of the things the current president seems impervious too – understanding that he is as big a part of the problem as those he decries.

As Peter Wehner points out:

Here is the rather unpleasant reality, though: our president fancies himself a public intellectual of the highest order — think Walter Lippmann as chief executive — even as he and his team are accomplished practitioners of the Chicago Way. They relish targeting those on their enemies list. The president himself pretends to engage his critics’ arguments even as his words are used like a flamethrower in a field of straw men. It’s hard to tell if we’re watching a man engaged in an elaborate political shell game or a victim of an extraordinary, and nearly clinical, case of self-delusion. Perhaps there is some of both at play. Regardless, President Obama’s act became tiresome long ago.

For those with the ability to see it, that is.

~McQ

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Political correctness: Will it be the death of Western civilization?

I wonder at times where our western civilization is headed.  I see signs of resistance to the slide toward oblivion, but for the most part I see things which convince me that slide is almost unrecoverable.

While reading the Belmont Club, I find that Richard Fernandez seems to be seeing the same thing.  And he brings two examples to the fore that signal the extent of our decent, not whether or not we’re actually sliding toward the inevitable end.

One has to do with a school teacher in the UK who was hounded by students to the point that he finally struck back violently.  The situation developed over months.  It was apparently known to all of those in positions of responsibility in the school.  Yet the solution apparently didn’t involve disciplining the children, but instead, having the teacher take 5 months leave of absence.  Of course, the fact that those who were behaving badly were left untouched by the authorities only meant the 5 months delayed the inevitable end:

Hounded for months by a group of students who decided to see what it would take to make him snap; tripped up, shoved him into hedges and followed home threateningly, Harvey went on a 5 month leave of absence because he feared he would lose his mind. Punishing the gang leaders was out of the question. Traditional classroom disciplinary measures were no longer available to him. No more harsh words, no more corporal punishment, however slight. Teachers had been sentenced to jail for striking students in a country where the police were called into classrooms 40 times a day because the schools had lost control. Upon his return from leave the same group decided to secretly record him going over the edge and arranged to goad him after which they planned to distribute the video to complete his humiliation. They didn’t reckon on the 7 pound dumb bell. The result was a 14 year old with a skull fracture and a man accused of murder.

Fernandez believes that political correctness has created a “new morality”.  Going on he says, “[t]hings are now ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ for reasons which only 20 years ago would have been regarded as completely crazy.”

The situation with teacher Peter Harvey points to this evolving morality of political correctness that completely changes the hierarchy of what is “acceptable” and “unacceptable” behavior.  It is the re-institution of a stratified society:Underlying the new morality is not some notion of good or bad, but the preservation of privileges in an unstated but obvious hierarchy. Things are now ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ in the old courtly sense. Did you forget yourself? Rise above your station? The idea that animals should not be filmed in their burrows is founded on the idea that  their relative ranking in the PC universe should be revised. “What does it say about our assumptions about animals?” That we think we’re better, hence we’re bigots. QED.

That formula (simply change “animals” to your favorite PC favored group and “bigot” to your favorite PC charge) brings us to our second example, again from the UK.

A Muslim protester who daubed a war memorial with graffiti glorifying Osama Bin Laden and proclaiming ‘Islam will dominate the world’ walked free from court after prosecutors ruled his actions were not motivated by religion.

Tohseef Shah, 21, could have faced a tougher sentence if the court had accepted that the insults – which included a threat to kill the Prime Minister – were inspired by religious hatred.

But – citing a loophole in the law – the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to charge him with that offence and he escaped with only a two-year conditional discharge and an order to pay the council £500 compensation after admitting causing criminal damage.

So, since he wasn’t “motivated by religious hatred” according to CPS, his crime was less heinous than had it actually been motivated by such hatred. The fact that he scrawled “Kill Gordon Brown” on the memorial is just plain vanilla hate, one supposes and much less worrisome – although had Shah carried out the threat, I’m sure a dead Gordon Brown wouldn’t particularly care what his motivation actually was.

Shah showed no remorse for what he’d done in court. And although his lawyer contends there was nothing religious about the act and it has nothing to do with his culture – “he’s just an ordinary guy.” But who is it he sends out to speak for him?

[H]e appointed Abdullah Ibn Abbas, who described himself as spiritual leader of a group called Road to Jannah, to speak on his behalf.

He said: ‘It really doesn’t concern us how the British people feel about the graffiti he wrote – the real outrage should be about the thousands of Muslims who are being killed and butchered as a result of British foreign policy.’

Very conciliatory, wouldn’t you say?  Certainly nothing to do with his culture or religion, right?

But the authorities are hoist on their own petard. They were unable to act because of the fear of being “politically incorrect” which is obviously much worse than confronting the crime for what it is and punishing the perpetrator. Why Shah isn’t in prison orange and physically cleaning the graffiti off the monument right now as he would have been 20 years ago, is something only those who let him walk with a fine can answer.

As Fernandez notes:

Everything, guilt or innocence, morality or immorality is judged not by what is done, but by who did it. Alternet has an article by a rape victim who thinks her Haitian attacker was justified because she was white and deserved to be punished. Others are above it all. If Roman Polanski does rape, is it really rape? The need to judge every act within the new hierarchy means only one real crime is left in the world: not knowing your place.

This is our world as it is evolving today. It is a crippling disease that turns the current western concept of justice on its head.

Political correctness is gradually replacing common sense and natural law with an unstated but controlling code of manners. Certain things cannot be said; certain illegal things are legal and vice versa; things though evident may not exist.

The problem, of course, are the results of such nonsense and avoidance. Dead 14 year olds because their behavior was excused regardless of how abhorrent or destructive it was. A situation that was allowed to spin out of control. The obvious sin to those who allowed this to manifest itself over those months of hell for the teacher was the possibility of being charged with damaging the fragile egos and trashing the self-esteem of the hooligans who perpetrated the crime by making them behave in a civilized manner. Instead, the responsibility was shifted to a teacher who had no power to correct the situation or stop it other than the way he eventually did.

The authorities in the case were more terrified, for various reasons, of taking on the perpetrators than stopping the abuse. And the perpetrators continued to be abusive because they knew they could get away with it. The results speak for themselves.

In the case of Shah, the same thing seems evident. He knew, based on recent history, that his chances of being punished in any meaningful way were minimal if caught. PC demands that authorities pretend that the motivations of political or religious minorities be considered pure as the driven snow or ignored. Punishing them is bad form. Consequently:

In brief the politically correct world is becoming very much like Mr. Peter Harvey’s classroom: a “caring place” seething with hatred; a place of forced gaiety, of smiles as mirthful as the Joker’s, a place you want to take five month’s vacation from knowing nothing will have changed when you get back.

And one in which those who know their behavior will be excused, no matter how vile, abhorrent or excessive, will continue to take advantage of the situation.

~McQ

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The Religion of Peace II

The US Army has disinvited a Christian evangelist from attending a National Day of Prayer event, because in a recent interview, he referred to Islam as a violent religion.

Clearly, he was unaware of the official designation “Religion of Peace”.

I guess he got all confused by all the beheadings, honor killings, and flying airliners into buildings and whatnot, to properly understand that these acts have no relevance to Islam at all.

And, clearly, he fails to understand how revealing the actions of Eric Rudolph are, vis a vis the fundamentally violent underpinnings of the Religious Right.

One must, after all, learn the approved lessons, and mouth the accepted pieties. And by “one”, of course, I mean “certain people”. I mean, we can hardly expect the same rules to apply to everyone.

Buy this book

And no, I wasn’t asked to put this up. In fact, I knew nothing about this book until I literally discovered it all on my own from a random link referral. The author has no inkling this is coming. Or that I know about the book.  However, having read McPhillips for years, I’m sure that it is an excellent read.

Congrats, McP.  I look forward to reading it.

~McQ

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Krugman needs to get out more

I’ve seen Paul Krugman write some pretty dumb things over the intervening years.  Jon Henke used to take particular delight in pointing them out in the earlier days of QandO.  But I have to admit I’ve never seen anything quite as clueless as this statement by the man:

All of this goes far beyond politics as usual. Democrats had a lot of harsh things to say about former President George W. Bush — but you’ll search in vain for anything comparably menacing, anything that even hinted at an appeal to violence, from members of Congress, let alone senior party officials.

Hey Paul, they made a whole movie about assassinating Bush.  They even wrote about it in the New York Times.  We even had a Nobel peace laureate, Betty Williams, weigh in on the “love”:

“I have a very hard time with this word ‘non-violence’, because I don’t believe that I am non-violent,” said Ms Williams, 64.

“Right now, I would love to kill George Bush.” Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.

Most excellent, right Paul? Nothing at all menacing about that and it certainly doesn’t at all appeal to violence (well unless you think the act of “killing” is somehow a non-violent act).

And, as Greg Polowitz suggests, google “kill George Bush” and be properly chastized.

Not that I actually expect Krugman to do so – it would take an effort and, of course, it would puncture his narrative like nothing before.  But just for grins, why not make a short pictoral trip down memory lane that clueless Krugman could have made had he at all cared about the accuracy of his claims.

For instance, here’s a favorite of mine:

Straight, to the point, and with an option I’m sure some would have hoped law enforcement might have availed themselves. Of course the crowds last weekend were just littered with signs like that, weren’t they?

No? Well how about this one?

A bit rambling and long.  You have to go all the way to the third line to find the “Kill Bush” sentiment.  At least he refrained from spelling out the “F bomb”.  I suppose that’s more Joe Biden’s territory anyway.  So again, were these the type of things to be seen in the crowd on Sunday?

No again?  This then?

A little more subtle than the others.  That “nuance” liberals love I guess.  So is this more like what has Krugman saw or heard about?

Or did it have more to do with urban legends that he and the left have chosen to believe (even while the vast majority of the supposed incidents seem to have no foundation in fact or require true super human feats of strength – such a chucking a rock through a window 30 stories above the street)?

Oh, I know why Krugman doesn’t remember any of this – you see, this was when dissent was the highest form of patriotism.

Apparently, that’s not the case anymore.

~McQ

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Fess Parker 1924-2010

I’m not a big follower of celebrities and frankly don’t really care about most of them.  But Fess Parker is an exception.  Mostly because he was my first hero as a kid.  He was Davey Crockett.  And Davy Crockett was someone to emulate and admire.  And, like Andrew Malcolm who writes a great tribute to Parker, I was a coonskin cap kid and even sang the Ballad of Davey Crockett (“Born on a mountain top in Tennessee ….”) at a school function in the first grade – coonskin cap and all.

As a self-confessed coonskin-cap-wearer (tail snapped on), we momentarily set aside our health-threatening talk about healthcare to fulfill a sentimental obligation to a childhood icon, Davy Crockett.

Crockett, who also used the non-cinematic name of Fess Parker, died of natural causes Thursday at the age of 85.

The problem for many of us is that we cannot separate Davy and Fess or vice versa. Nor, frankly, do we want to. Sure, Fess went on to a successful business career and grew grapes and hotels. But he’ll always also be Davy. The link to politics here is that Davy actually served time in Congress, 1826-1835, back before the U.S. House of Representatives consisted of two partisan herds.

Yes, yes, the 6-foot-6 Parker later played Daniel Boone with the trademark hat. But for the first American generation to grow up with television, the fact was Parker looked and acted more like Davy Crockett than Davy Crockett himself.

Malcolm is exactly right – to an impressionable kid, Parker was Crockett and always will be. And he taught some pretty good lessons to us:

In the days before Bart Simpson became a reverse role model, Davy held that you always said what you meant, meant what you said and went down swinging for what you believed in. Twenty-first century corner-cutting deal-making was not actually an option.

Rest in peace, Davey Crockett, er, Fess Parker – this coonskin cap kid will miss you.

~McQ

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Tom Hanks should stick with film making

I’m not going to go on a rant about Tom Hanks recent remarks about why we fought the Japanese during WWII, but I do have a comment or two to make.  He said:

Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as ‘yellow, slant-eyed dogs’ that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different. Does that sound familiar, by any chance, to what’s going on today?

It is easy to make ignorant statements like that when you decide you need to make a political point. We see it everyday in the three-ring circus we call politics. Bending history to fit your ideological point of view is nothing new and there’s certainly nothing so special about Tom Hanks that he’s above such nonsense. But he ought to know better, especially after making this new HBO miniseries about the Pacific war.

My dad served in the Army for 36 years and was on Saipan, Leyte and Okinawa. Unlike Hanks, he actually fought the Japanese in some very tough battles – especially the last one. He never talked about it much when I was a kid, although when old friends would stop by at the posts where we were assigned, I’d hear some of the stories by getting myself in an unobserved position in the next room and quietly listening.

I don’t remember he or any of his friends ever reflecting the sort of attitude Hanks would have us to believe was prevalent then.  Sure, they referred to them as “Japs”, but not because they thought it was derrogatory or because they believed them to be “different”, but because, well, that’s what they were.  The story I remember most concerned Saipan.  As he told it, you could tell the memory had an effect on him.  He told about Japanese families – women, kids – jumping off a cliff to avoid capture (“Suicide cliff” in Saipan). You could tell he thought it was awful and it was clear in the telling that the memory was vivid.  They’d brought in Japanese speakers to try to talk the families out of jumping, but the indoctrination and the culture were so strong that they jumped anyway. 

If you want to “annihilate” someone, you don’t make that sort of effort to save them.  If you consider them as “different” in the way Hanks intimates, such things wouldn’t shake you as it obviously did my father and those he was with.

He said that the only Japanese captives they ever took were those who’d been either knocked unconscious before capture or were so badly wounded they couldn’t avoid it.  Certainly they were “different” in the sense that their honor and culture called upon them to do things American culture would never call on its soldiers to do, but that didn’t make them less than human to my father. He certainly wasn’t at all pleased with the way the Japanese treated prisoners of war and held a hell of grudge about that. But I got the impression that he considered the Japanese barbaric because of that, not less than human.  He held them responsible for that conduct because they were human beings.  And after the war, we shocked them with the most humane occupation imaginable and the rebuilding of their nation.

The reason my dad and hundreds of thousands of other Americans fought the Japanese wasn’t because they were “different” racially or believed in a different god.  Nor did they do it with the aim of “annihilating” them.  It was because the had attacked the United States, were the enemy and that enemy had to be defeated.  Period.  My father and his comrades would have fought the Germans with the same ferocity they fought the Japanese had they been in Europe.

Tom Hanks is a fine actor and an excellent film maker.  But he should stick with what he knows.  Deciding how those fighting the Japanese thought of  their enemy isn’t one of them.  Making a film about them doesn’t suddenly make him some sort of expert in that regard either.  And, pretending to know what motivates those of us who fight our enemies of today is just as mistaken.

~McQ

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Smearing The Religious

This is a favorite pastime of many on the left, and libertarians of all stripes. When in it’s the nature of busting biblethumpers’ chops, I get it. I mean, The Great Flying Spaghetti Monster? That’s just funny. As for those who simply question religion, well there is certainly a lot to question. I’m Catholic, a religion with plenty of black marks in its history, some of which rival (if not surpass) the Nazis in sheer disregard for human life and dignity. So, again, I get it. But sometimes the criticism and ribbing is nothing more than outright bigotry, designed to stoke popular hate against those who are religious.

The Huffington Post offers one of those latter critiques in a post entitled “American Family Association: Stone To Death Killer Whale Who Killed Trainer” about the tragedy at SeaWorld:

The American Family Association, a religious right group, is urging that Tillikum (Tilly), the killer whale that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, be put down, preferably by stoning. Citing Tilly’s history of violent altercations, the group is slamming SeaWorld for not listening to Scripture in how to deal with the animal:

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” (Exodus 21:28)

However, the group is going further and laying the blame for the trainer’s death directly at the feet of Chuck Thompson, the curator in charge of animal behavior, because, according to Scripture,

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:29)

SeaWorld has no plans to execute Tilly.

If you read nothing else other than the HuffPo piece, then the post’s title and implications make perfect sense. However, if you read the actual post being ridiculed by HuffPo, you may have a different opinion:

Now there are all kinds of theories as to why the “killer whale” did what it did, to include one which says it was just playing.

That could be, but whatever the reason it was an animal acting like it should. It kills things and eats them. It doesn’t moralize about what is or isn’t “good” or “evil”. It does what it is hard wired to do without thinking about it and certainly without concerning itself with the consequences. It certainly isn’t unreasonable to expect such an animal to act like it should.

Hmmm … actually, no. That wasn’t from The American Family Association, but instead from our very own Bruce McQuain. Here’s the AFA:

According to the Orlando Sentinel, “SeaWorld Orlando has always know that Tillikum…could be a particularly dangerous killer whale…because of his ominous history.”

The Sentinel then recounts that Tilly, as he was affectionately known, had killed a trainer back in 1991 in front of spectators at a now defunct aquarium in Victoria, British Columbia.

Then in 1999 he killed a man who sneaked into SeaWorld to swim with the whales and was found the next morning draped dead across Tilly’s back. His body had been bit and the killer whale had torn off his swimming trunks after he had died.

What about the term “killer whale” do SeaWorld officials not understand?

You see the difference? McQ honed in with that laser-like focus that only Army Rangers possess on the most salient fact of the matter, i.e. that this was a wild animal known as a killer whale, while the AFA chose the lesser fact of … oh right, the same thing. So, now you know: McQ is a biblethumpin’ m’OH-ron.

To be fair to HuffPo, the AFA did cite scriptures as guidance for how people should live their lives when everybody knows they’re just for displaying on placards at football games. How silly to think that religious people who believe in the same things as the AFA would look to the word of God as having some wisdom that might imparted.

But it’s worse than that. Whether or not you agree with the religious aspect of the advice offered by the AFA, the actual Bible quotes cited in the ridiculed post weren’t referenced as literal commands to action, contrary to what HuffPo would have you believe. Instead, they were cited as guidance (there’s that word again) in how people should live their lives:

If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed, Tillikum would have been put out of everyone’s misery back in 1991 and would not have had the opportunity to claim two more human lives.

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” (Exodus 21:28)

So, your animal kills somebody, your moral responsibility is to put that animal to death. You have no moral culpability in the death, because you didn’t know the animal was going to go postal on somebody.

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:29)

If I were the family of Dawn Brancheau, I’d sue the pants off SeaWorld for allowing this killer whale to kill again after they were well aware of its violent history.

I’ve highlighted that last sentence because, in complete contrast to what HuffPo would have you believe, the AFA author never demanded, nor even suggested, that the killer whale or anyone else should be stoned. Instead, he suggested that the aggrieved party should sue through the civil system — and he’s right. There’s a doctrine known as the “one bite rule” which, while not exactly what people think it is, does pertain to domesticated wild animals in certain situations. And, in fact, the legal underpinnings hue quite closely to what the Bible scriptures say as far as assigning guilt is concerned:

Restatement [of Torts] § 519 states the general principle for liability, and § 520 provides several evaluative factors. Section 519 provides for strict liability for one “who carries on an abnormally dangerous activity” causing harm to persons or property even if he “has exercised the utmost care to prevent the harm.” Section 520 suggests evaluative factors to assist in determining if an activity should be termed abnormally dangerous, and includes (1) the degree of risk of harm; (2) the magnitude of that harm; (3) the inevitability of some risk irrespective of precautionary measures that might be taken; (4) the ordinary or unusual nature of the activity; and (5) the activity’s value to the community in comparison to the risk of harm created by its presence.

In short, when a known dangerous animal is mixed with humans in that animal’s natural environment, there is a pretty good chance that the owner of that animal will bear blame for any harm that befalls another party, without any excuse (that is, with “strict liability”).

Of course, I don’t mean to say that the tragic death of the animal trainer was unequivocally the fault of SeaWorld or anyone else. There are plenty of legal doctrines (“assumption of risk” comes to mind) that could exonerate the owners of Tilly, despite the Restatement of Torts passage above. The point is that what the AFA suggests — that the animal should have been put down after it demonstrated it was not entirely domesticable — using scriptures as its guidance, shouldn’t strike anyone as particularly strange or outlandish. The common law quite agrees with that verdict. Indeed, if evidence were produced that the slain trainer was never made aware of Tilly’s violent tendencies, then the common law might very well find that SeaWorld is legally culpable for the death to the tune of several millions of dollars.

Getting back to the point, what the AFA argues is not that anyone (other than the killer whale) should be put to death, but that Biblical scriptures provide common-sense guidance (again with that word!) as to how to peaceably conduct ourselves as a community of mankind; the emphasis being on “common sense.” No one other than HuffPo claims that stoning is the appropriate penalty, or that the owners of Tilly should be killed, contrary to what HuffPo would have you believe. At most, the AFA author contends that SeaWorld should have used the Bible’s counsel when it comes to protecting human life from wild animal aggression, and that the victim’s family should avail itself of the civil court system for SeaWorld’s failure to do so. One can disagree with that presumption, but it’s pretty difficult to argue that anyone other than SeaWorld (or whomever) would have been better off for not disposing of the killer whale after the first death. Whether anyone is guilty in the eyes of God for that failure is not for us to decide, but it’s certainly not delusional to think that a mortal judge may arrive at such a decision.

Whatever problems one might have with religion, I just don’t see the utility in deriding people of faith for suggesting that their tenets have practical advice to offer. That goes double for harangues that have no basis in reality. With just a little bit of investigation, one would find that most religious texts offer an enormous amount of practical advice of the type that even the non-religious take for granted. There’s lots of goofy stuff in there as well, including prescriptions that shouldn’t be taken literally in this day and age, but that doesn’t mean the principles aren’t sound. When someone of a religious persuasion offers advice pertaining to those common-sense principles, and counsels adherence to those principles, then no fair critic would claim that such person is instead calling for a literal interpretation of ancient penalties. But then, HuffPo isn’t striving for fairness, but for bigotry.