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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bullshit and jellybeans 

Good god, the pressure at work ramps up suddenly (with the impending doom that is several serious deadlines of the non-negotiable type) and suddenly I'm awake at 2 in the morning wondering if I should get on to the computer and resume work (I didn't). Instead I had a glass of wine and continued reading Dawkin's "The God Delusion." It's actually very engaging, even at 3.45 am. Two preliminary criticisms though: (1) the unnecessary, and awkward, colloquial tone in parts clearly intended for an American audience (surprisingly enough, Oxford professors struggle to pull this off); and (2) of the various arguments for god, the one heard most often today concerns the authority and inerrancy of the Bible. Rather longer needs to be spent on investigating this, rather than the now rather obscure philosophical postulates for god's existence.

Anyway, while doing some reading around the traps:

Bullshit 1: The questions to be asked of women in hospitals. In reality, probably close to 100% of the adult population could honestly answer yes to all three. At least two are poorly phrased and somewhat irrelevant. "Have you ever felt controlled or always criticised?" (Who hasn't - what is the connection to abuse here) and "Have you been asked to do anything sexual that you didn't want to do?" (spectacularly irrelevant - there is no harm in asking. The issue is whether individuals have the ability to say no, and have that respected). Some of these points are picked up on in the 19 pages(!!) of comments on the NZ Herald site.

Bullshit 2: Further to the above, I'm very skeptical about all this invoking of "community" (and "community responsibility") for child abuse. It is not at all clear what "community" might mean in this context, and in any case those responsible for addressing child abuse are surely those individuals who know, or have strong reasons to suspect, that abuse is occurring. Many of us are too busy working to worry about, or know about, "community" anyway. I don't really know which of my neighbours have children ... let alone how they treat them.

Update: holy crap, I actually agree with Stephen Franks on this, at least in part. He writes:
“Maori” are blamed collectively for the predictable wickedness of individuals bred by welfare that will not discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.

Surely we must be reaching a nadir of some sort. Only two generations ago we were noted for stoic self reliance. Now every one in “the community” must bear the guilt and responsibility for individual viciousness.

I fail to see what "welfare" has to do with this, one way or the other, but Franks is right to criticize the group think at work.

Bullshit 3: NRT (whose site is rather diminished by the absence of comments) smells National bullshit on the alleged junket to Australia. Good work - still, the damage is probably done, with the compliant media buying another press release. Does anyone know whether Newstalk ZB led with this "story" yesterday? It's right up their alley.

Now where are the jellybeans you ask? There aren't any ... it was all a ploy to get you to read this far.


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