July 29, 2006

Stretching the Defense

This Yglesias post strikes me as exactly right. This is why I think it can be a bad idea to engage politely with people who are advocating horrible things. Unfortunately, such people have an immense amount of power in the U.S. today.

Posted by Matt Weiner at July 29, 2006 11:06 AM

Wait, wait. If it's a bad idea (and I see you say it "can be" a bad idea) to engage politely with those people, are you implying it's a good idea to engage rudely/take up arms against them, or it's a good idea not to engage with them at all? I think as a philosopher you should advocate engaging with them civilly. And haven't you done so?

Posted by: Matt's mom at July 30, 2006 01:17 PM

Basically I agree with Fontana Labs on the national conversation. And Mark Kleiman. I think we should say, "You have just advocated genocide. You can't be serious. If you want a discussion, come back when you're serious."

Posted by: Matt Weiner at July 30, 2006 06:58 PM

See Yglesias's new post. Telling that in his new post Podhoretz uses the phrase "victory at all costs," an utterly absurd notion and one that he should already have disclaimed when he said that there are some things we're not willing to do.

This reminds me of something Bernard Williams says in Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, that we would not feel easy working with someone who (talking about a difficult business deal) says "Of course we should rule out from the beginning having our competitors murdered." Williams says that option should not have come into hand to be ruled out. The proper response to Podhoretz is, "You're still not serious. Come back when you're willing to talk about options we should actually take, instead of weaselling around about 'Marquis of Queensbury rules." Which is a decidedly inaccurate way to describe widespread torture, or driving an eighth of Lebanon's population from their homes." Perhaps with a few expletives thrown in.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at July 31, 2006 08:49 AM

Tangent: That very Marquess of Queensbury was the father of Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wilde's (harrumph) friend "Bosie," and so was responsible (along with Wilde himself) for ruining Wilde.

Posted by: Matt's mom at August 1, 2006 11:14 AM