Saturday, February 16, 2008

Governor Barkley

Charles Barkley, the former NBA star, tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he's pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and that he's running for governor of Alabama in 2014. Good luck. I'm sure those will be very popular positions among the Alabaman electorate.

Mr. Barkley also calls Christians hypocrites for opposing abortion and gay marriage. The word conservative, he attests, makes him sick in his tummy. After all, Christians, according to Mr. Barkley, aren't supposed to judge others.

Well, this is as wrong-headed an opinion as it is widespread. Set aside that Mr. Barkley is doing to Christians and conservatives exactly what he condemns them for doing, he's just wrong about Christians violating their creed when they pass judgment on the moral conduct of others. In fact, Christians are among the few groups of people who have any basis at all for making moral judgments.

If people do wrong why is it wrong to point that out? Indeed, it's a sign of a morally vigorous society that it's people recognize the difference between right and wrong, and it's a symptom of moral decrepitude if they cannot.

There's nothing wrong with making moral judgments. What is wrong is to make those judgments without knowing or caring about the relevant facts. That's judgmentalism and that's what Christians are proscribed from doing, but there's no reason to think that opposition to abortion or gay marriage is due to an ignorance of the critical facts.

To say that because someone is a Christian they shouldn't assess the conduct of others is absurd. It would mean that Christians could never condemn the holocaust or slavery or child abuse or anything else. Christians might be mistaken in their opposition to abortion and gay marriage, but Barkley doesn't offer any reason for thinking that they are. He only suggests that they're hypocrites for doing so, and he leaves us with the impression that his definition of a hypocrite is someone who disagrees with him.

It seems that Barkley is not himself a Christian, I don't know, but if that is so, I wonder on what grounds he bases his own belief that judging other people's behavior is wrong. If he's not a theist of some sort then his own judgments are rooted in nothing other than his subjective likes and dislikes. A non-theist, as we have pointed out at this site on numerous occasions, has no grounds whatsoever for saying that anything anyone does is wrong in a moral sense. So when Barkley criticizes Christians and conservatives all he's saying is that they make him sick because they don't hold the same views he does, which is a pretty silly position.

In a world without God there is no moral right and wrong. There are only things one likes and things one doesn't. There are things which work and things which don't. Whatever one has the power to do one can do and nothing one does is "wrong."

It is only the theist, or in the context of the present discussion, the Christian, who has any moral constraints placed upon his will and his power. Those constraints are placed there by God who desires not that we refrain from judging but that we always judge with justice and compassion. There are no such constraints acting in the lives of those who do not believe that they're obligated to God or anything else. For them, if they were consistent, the only ethic would be might makes right.

But consistency is probably not something Charles Barkley worries himself about very much. Nor can he afford to. He aspires, after all, to be a politician.


Saving Conservatism

Joe Carter is doing a series of posts on how to save the conservative movement in America, and he says a lot of good stuff. The first of the four posts on the topic can be read here and the others can be found here, here,and here.

If you're interested in politics, and especially if you incline toward conservative politics, you'll find Carter's suggestions very interesting.


Just Not Serious

Last night at midnight the Protect America Act expired. The PAA enabled us to maintain surveillance of terrorists in foreign countries who were using our communications networks. A 2 to 1 bipartisan consensus in the Senate agreed that it was crucial to our national security that it be renewed and voted to do so last week. President Bush thought it so important that he yielded on a number of points that Democrat senators insisted on in order to get their votes. All that was left was for the House of Representatives to follow suit. Our national security depended upon it.

What the security of your children and mine were subordinated to, however, were Nancy Pelosi's vacation plans. Ms Pelosi refused to bring the bill to the floor where it would have passed overwhelmingly. Instead she adjourned the House for a week's vacation.

As a result there are gaping holes as of midnight last night in our ability to monitor the machinations of those who wish to perpetrate another 9/11. Ms Pelosi demonstrates yet again why it is imperative that Democrats not be entrusted with our national security. They're just not serious about it. Indeed, the Democrats spent hours of the people's time this week harrasing former administration officials over a matter that nobody but the zealots at cares about (the firing of Department of Justice attorneys) and hounding a major league baseball pitcher over allegations that he used steroids, but to enhance the safety of our children the House leadership could not find a few extra minutes to take a crucial vote before running out to begin their tax-payer funded vacations.

Andrew McCarthy explains this abrogation of responsibility at NRO.

One important point that McCarthy doesn't mention is that:

[O]ne of the signal virtues of the PAA is the fact that it provides liability protection to private companies, like telecoms, who cooperate with the government and aid surveillance efforts. Companies like AT&T already face multibillion dollar lawsuits from leftist activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who charge that the companies broke the law by assisting government efforts to prevent terrorist attack. With the expiration of the PAA, these companies will lose their legal protections. In the current litigious climate, it is more than likely that they will simply stop aiding the government in its intelligence work....[T]he most likely consequence of the PAA's lapse is that, starting this Saturday, the country will be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

How do these people keep getting elected to public office?