Cold Takes

Here’s a list of stunningly cold takes. Enjoy, or don’t.

  • Here’s a fun little thing you can do if you’re a liar: Do everything in your power to stop something from happening and then when it happens despite your best efforts send out a bunch of self-congratulatory promotion emails to your constituents about how you made the thing happen.
  • We’ve internalized neoliberalism in such a short time to such a degree that it seems natural to talk about a free speech marketplace of ideas. But we know that markets naturally tend toward monopolies, and the only effective-ish tool we have to prevent that is regulation. Libertarian markets aren’t free in the larger sense, as monopolies naturally stifle freedom. That’s not to say that even supposedly libertarian-leaning ideologies won’t regulate speech, even the ones that claim to be free speech purists. Liberals want to regulate by social pressure under the rubric of anti-bigotry, but conservatives are more than happy to legislate speech when they have the opportunity do so under the rubric of anti-anti-bigotry, recently rebranded as religious freedom. I don’t think the metaphor of a marketplace of ideas really works. I don’t think it can ever do what it says on the tin. It might be time to roll back to the idea of speech as embedded in social contracts instead, or develop new ways of thinking about how we approach speech in general.
  • Horseshoe theory is dumb. I prefer the Feral AI theory where totalizing ideologies tend toward violence and destruction in the same way that an AI made to create paperclips with no other constraints will eventually end up killing everyone for the iron in their blood. Because the ideology is totalizing (aka all-consuming), the path of least resistance to ideological superiority is violence, which helps explain why tankies and fascists both end up with the same means to very different ends.
  • Remember the ludicrous rumour about Proctor & Gamble being satanists? That was a big deal in my childhood. When I had the opportunity to look this stuff up for myself it led to a larger discussion of the whole Satanic Panic where I discovered that the entire thing was nothing. All made up. All lies. And a lot of folks I know believed it hook like and sinker. Not a sceptical bone in the lot of them.
  • There is no ideology so pure and correct that destroying lives in its name is a good thing.
  • I’ve seen a few infowarrior-style trucks with F*CK TRUDEAU painted or taped on them lately. It’s not a good sign when people decide to be that aggressive; it feels like they’re just waiting for a confrontation so they can explode and hurt someone.
  • Conservative accusations are confessions.
  • Secular liberal democracy is the worst system except for all the others we’ve tried.
  • I’ve said before that the American (and lots of the Canadian) evangelical church is apostate. I meant what I said. Now we have data that “evangelical” is being adopted as an identity by non-religious folks. If your brand of Christianity can be adopted wholesale by folks who don’t even attend church or do any of the stuff associated with your religion, it’s not what you think it is.
  • Identity politics is something everyone does, as everyone has an identity and your identity drives your politics.
  • Conspiracy theories are a gateway drug for fascism. And we are absolutely rife with conspiracy theories right now. It’s honestly pretty terrifying how many people are in that pipeline, and how many more are being gently eased into it by algorithms that are only too happy to radicalize you, as long as you keep watching.
  • OAN looks like what you’d see on a TV in movie like Starship Troopers. It’s bizarre how anyone could watch it and take it seriously. It looks and sounds like satire, but it’s somehow not.
  • Religion is something we need to take way more seriously. It drive so much of what happens in the world. And it’s not going away, much to the consternation of everyone who thought increasing secularity would rise like a tide and overtake all the deluded sheep. Sorry guys. That’s not to say there aren’t an increasing number of people who don’t take part in organized religion. Data says that part of the population is increasing. But even in that group of “nones”, there’s a lot of loose spirituality and belief happening.
  • Coming out of fundamentalism, you still have a fundamentalist brain. It’s easy to recreate this dogmatic approach in whatever you do after. Study history, study diversity, learn about the variety of human experience, stop taking hard stances on everything.
  • Speaking of which, if you’re a Christian, stop taking such hard stances on doctrine. The history (and present!) of Christianity is rife with variety. You think the Westminster Confession got everything right the first time? Come on. Just because you find something attractive or you were raised a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the one right way. It’s time to accept that for a lot of stuff there just isn’t one right way. There’s better ways, sure. There’s worse ways, sure. But look at the variety of belief all nominally drawn from the same book and the same church fathers and you might find that believing your tradition is the only right one is kind of the height of hubris.
  • The ESV was created to inject conservative (read: patriarchal) dogma into the Bible, pushing back against perceived liberal (real: non-patriarchal) dogma being injected into the Bible. It’s a pretty cunning if not exactly honest strategy.

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