The article seems more about choice (such an ambiguous word) than banning.

Ever notice most book “bans” are in schools? It has to do with attitudes toward rearing the young, it has to do with how tax dollars are spent, and it has to do with the appearance of official government sanction/endorsement (like religious issues). For the most part, such issues fall under the purview we allow our legislatures (although, we should allow less). So, it doesn’t surprise me that legislatures get involved.

For me, choice is elimination of coercive policies and laws. Expunge all truancy laws. State clearly to parents that they are responsible for ensuring their children grow in education and the skills needed for life and society. People accuse me of being against government schools, but no. I want better schools for those who choose them. I also want everyone to be able to choose otherwise. Having protections in the state constitution is not the same as being able to execute a choice.

“Choice says: Let’s have the money follow kids. A corollary to that is let’s give educators the autonomy to start different schools, run different schools.” I say make it clear to everyone that armed officers will not show up no matter their choice. I trust parents. I believe mothers will make the best choices for their own children.

Coercion is evil. We cannot hope for a good institution built on the evil of coercion.

And specifically to books: All books are available in the USA. All. There is not one banned. You can get it if you want it, and the FBI will not be raiding your house to find it.

Book banning in America: Censoring literature in US dates back centuries, but this time is different: experts

FOXNEWS.COM

Book banning in America: Censoring literature in US dates back centuries, but this time is different: experts

Nearly 1,600 individual books were challenged or removed in libraries and schools in 2021, the highest number since the American Library Association started tracking bans 30 years ago.

Timeline:
First day of school, Friday, 19 August 2022: Teacher covers classroom library with paper with hand-written statement, “These are the books the state doesn’t want you to read.”
Before Monday morning 22 August 2022, a parent filed an objection to political activism in the classroom.
No earlier than Tuesday afternoon, the school administration met with the teacher. The school determined the teacher had done nothing wrong, though indicated guidelines were offered. The school stated they expected the teacher and class to continue, but the teacher resigned.
However, the night before, Monday night, news reports asserted the teacher had been fired. (The school had taken no action at that time.) The school did not fire the teacher. The school did not suspend the teacher. However, that was the story in the national news by Tuesday, 23 August 2022, the day of a runoff election directly impacted by the events.
How did the national news, including CNN, have the story before the school? Why did the national news pick up the story?

Review the story at the link carefully, particularly near the end, which shows the original tweet “breaking” the story on Monday night, and find a similar story on CNN (Tuesday). The untruths are apparent. The political agenda is clear. The facts of the incident seem to have nothing to do with book banning.
https://okcfox.com/news/local/norman-public-schools-nps-norman-high-school-teacher-summer-boismeir-house-bill-1775-hb1775-american-civil-liberties-union-aclu-first-amendment-critical-race-theories-crt-book-ban-oklahoma-state-board-of-education-race-sex-discrimination

“They bombed us! They bombed us! The bastards bombed us!”

One of our senior technicians threw those words at me as I walked out of the shower that fateful morning.

At that time, I was bicycling to work every morning and showering in the shop facilities. With my towel about me, as I reached for my locker door, I asked him to explain. He realized I must have missed the news, having been isolated in the shower; so, he explained.

I readied myself for the day and found a television and caught up on the grim news. It seemed clear already from the several videos exactly what had happened, but there was little reason or why.

News kept filtering in.

The towers fell.

Three-thousand dead. Many of them hardly aware, many of them quite literally heroes. Many, many more suffering in pain and anguish.

Early that evening, with my family and many others, we gathered at church, and like nearly the entire nation, we prayed.

It was heartening.

It is discouraging, since, to see how little it mattered, how fleeting was the moment of unity. It is discouraging that “Never forget” and “Let’s roll” have been forgotten.

I started writing my thoughts after the leak, before the decision. I finished a couple of days after the decision was published.

It is striking to me, dumbfounding, how hard it is to discuss this very important topic without hyperbole and obfuscation. Shallow and simplistic extremism dominates. We can do better.

We need to be plain and frank. We need to embrace the pain, for there is pain all around, in all aspects, and for everyone touched by it. We are all limited and finite.

Ultimately, everyone will have to compromise. Ultimately, we need clear lines and limits, and there will have to be means of adjusting and clarifying. No one will be happy with all of it. Comfort is not an aspect of this topic. Acknowledge the discomfort and deal with it honestly and with as much love, the conscientious kind, as musterable.

We can’t compromise if we don’t have an agreed-upon set of facts and a starting point.

The first fact I’d like to establish is that once two human gametes combine into a zygote with typical DNA structure, the new thing is a new living individual human. Of course, we can argue in good faith (potentially) from historic and factual and philosophic grounds about when this new individual human becomes a person (particularly a person protected under our civil law), but humanness and living cannot be denied. The new zygote is most certainly alive, and the new human is absolutely unique in all of time in all of the universe. We really need to assent to this fact because it helps us avoid hyperbole and obfuscation. We cannot reason together if we will not affirm such rudimentary observational facts.

Further, to describe a human organism in objective terms, we are fundamentally dependent on DNA. We scarcely understand the full human genome, and there are nuances to DNA that force us to consider just exactly how to define an organism as human. Biologically, we generally allow for a great deal of variation and “defect” in the DNA while still defining the individual organism as human. Genetic variations range from the barely perceptible to the extreme. Down syndrome seems an unavoidable example. Down syndrome is defined as the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21, and there are variants, and there are other similar alterations that can occur in DNA to greater or lesser obvious effect. Medically we tend to refer to these alterations and other noticeable atypical characteristics as birth defects, but we don’t assert that such differences in DNA result in nonhumans. I recall a speech not long ago given by a fellow human with Down syndrome, and he declared he didn’t want to change laws, he wanted to change hearts. His heart was broken knowing that many children were aborted because of the extra chromosome, and these children were otherwise wanted and loved until the genetic difference was known.

Roe v Wade was bad jurisprudence. It was unconstitutional in multiple ways. As a corrupt decision, it had to be struck down because anything built upon it was also damned to corruption.

Roe v Wade established a “royal” privilege that belonged solely to a pregnant woman.

It didn’t establish a right. There is no absolute right to end a human life. We, our culture overall, acknowledge that circumstances can justify the taking of a human life, but it is not an absolute right. The right to life is an absolute, and it can only be taken by the state, and only after due process. We agree, mostly, that circumstances can arise, and often do, to justify the taking of a human life. The clearest example I can think of is the hostage-taker holding a knife or a gun to a young child. No one can fault the sniper who ends the hostage-taker’s life and saves the child. There are still moral gray areas, but the kill was “righteous” in our vernacular.

Roe v Wade established a privilege belonging to every pregnant woman; it allowed her to abort the pregnancy at any time for any reason. Further, no one, no one at all, had any say whatsoever in the decision. The father responsible for the pregnancy had no say. The parents and other relatives of the woman had no say, no matter how capable, willing, and eager they might be to raise the child as their own, even with honest intent to hold the woman under no obligation at all and to help as possible. No one had any standing before the law. The woman could abort for any reason at any time. If the woman was madly in love with a kind, providing, loving husband, and for whatever reason decided to leave him and abort the pregnancy, she could, and no one could stop her. No one could call a judge for an injunction. No one could hire a lawyer to bring suit. No one had any say whatsoever.

That is no longer the case. Women have lost no rights. They lost only a special privilege; a privilege that can only be described as royal. Sorry, ladies, but you are no longer queens in that regard.

Now, we must talk about it.

Hopeful, we can all approach the subject with honesty and open hearts.

Women are not second-class citizens. Women have the vote. Women have full standing before the law in all regards of our society and our politics. Women are in the majority, and women register to vote in a higher proportion compared to men. If it is merely a women’s issue, women have the upper hand. I trust the large majority of all of us will accept it as an issue for all of us, not just women. We are, and have always been, in this together.

It seems to me that the point to start with is an unplanned pregnancy.

I think we should set aside the reasons for getting to an unintended pregnancy and start by addressing it as the start point. We likely will get to this point less often if we make oral contraception (the pill) available over the counter without a prescription. I support that.

I know some consider the life-of-the-mother to be an inadequate reason, but I hold it as sufficient. I’m sure the majority in our society do, also, especially when there is no hope for the child to live, such as an ectopic pregnancy. I expect many a mother given the either-or would choose the child, but it isn’t a rational choice, and any mother should be supported who would choose to abort when the double-checked medical opinion asserts the mother is likely to die otherwise. Again, some few will take the contra position, and there are valid arguments to be made, but we, as an entire society, must find the compromise that we can all live with, and live at peace with. Likewise, rape. Coercion is evil. It seems to me, that we, cooperatively and supportively, should give the benefit of any doubt to the mother in the case of rape. Some few will want the baby, others will opt to allow adoption, but some will have the emotional requirement to end it. I don’t suppose I can see it one way or another. However, I am convinced two wrongs never make a right, so I hold that we must allow rape as an exception. Leave that to the woman on her own time. These things run deep. Liberality is in order.

When a woman finds she is pregnant it can be a joy or a terror. We idealize it as one of the greatest joys and greatest honors of all, but the reality of our finite exitance makes it less, sometimes much less, sometimes even the opposite.

What do we do for the individual woman who finds herself pregnant and in turmoil and fear? It is easy to hold up lofty goals, but can we, as a society, deliver for every individual woman?

Can we justify setting criteria for a status of “unplanned”? I think that would cause more problems than it could solve. It would certainly be divisive, and it would probably result in legal challenges for years. I don’t see a way to justify establishing procedures for a woman to go through to terminate the pregnancy.

Frankly, we need a limit. Most countries have limits.

What shall it be for our country?

Some will say a beating heart, but I find that inappropriate. The growing human is essentially independent from conception. The heart beginning to beat isn’t any more clear demarcation than any other point of development. The only point before human and before living is before conception. There isn’t any place to draw a line based on physiology, biology, or any other quantifiable objective point of “science.” We must pick a point arbitrarily. We need the limit set where the majority can say with a clear conscience, “I can live with that.”

Many people assume, even still, that Roe v Wade made the matter merely a matter of a woman’s private decision in the first trimester, the first 13 weeks. Sadly, the ruling was applied throughout the pregnancy. Essentially, unless the baby breathed, and an official autopsy established that the baby breathed before being terminated, it was treated as nobody’s business. Given that many people assumed 13 weeks was the notional limit, perhaps we should start there. I suggest 100 days. Why 100? No particular reason, but it is slightly longer than that first trimester that seems to have been nominally assented to. Fifteen weeks was the time limit in the case challenged, and that is 105 days.

Note, I’m saying as a matter of legislation voted on by our representatives or by plebiscite, we as a people should allow a woman to abort her pregnancy as a personal and private matter through the first 100 days.

As a matter of historical record, abortion has been with us always. Most societies have had various methods of contraception and abortion, and many have practiced exposure. As reprehensible as it seems to most of us moderns, exposure was simply a matter of the midwife taking the newborn, and rather than giving the bade to the mother, taking it out to the woods and leaving it on the ground for the wild animals. We’ve all heard of unsafe, illegal abortions. They happened and suffering often resulted. Suffering is our lot, but we need not make it worse. It is immoral to inflict suffering intentionally. Some women who want an abortion will choose to do so even if it is unsafe and illegal.

I want to minimize that potential.

We moderns, in this country and most every other, hold life as dear. We generally consider killing to be immoral.

“It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.” [The character, Will Money.]

That is the reality. Terminating a human life is never to be taken lightly, but we find sometimes it is necessary. Don’t we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to discuss it openly and in good faith and arrive at a consensus? I believe we must.

We must compromise to some point near this limit, something like it.

And one more thing: We must have guidelines and requirements for exceptions. Our legal system has means of due process in all things handled in criminal and civil courts. I think we can compromise there, too. Our legal system fails from time to time, but it usually works out. Our “speedy” requirements fail too often, but end results tend to work out, even if they proved expensive. I think we can set the rules and leave it to the courts. Due process works. We should let it.

There is a good bit more, such as the moral question of personhood and equal protection under the law, and it is all complicated, but we will be a better nation, a better society for facing these issues and actually working them out.

An afterthought, viability is a meaningless concept regarding setting a limit. A rational, logical argument can be made for any time during a human’s life to be called the point of viability.

Oxford English Dictionary:

“the fact that something can be done and can be successful”

“​(biology) the fact that something is capable of developing and surviving independently”

Or “ability to survive or live successfully”

Dictionary.com has:

“ability to live, especially under certain conditions”

Success is subjective, and conditions are arbitrary. One cannot define viability quantitatively and objectively with regard to an isolated human life.

Humans cannot be expected to be successful independently and in isolation under most circumstances that might actually try them alone. Any human at any point in the life of that human could be declared to be nonviable with appropriately defined conditions for success, especially with an appropriate definition of success.

Viability is not a useful word in discussing abortion.

“the fact that something can be done and can be successful”

“​(biology) the fact that something is capable of developing and surviving independently”

Or “ability to survive or live successfully”

Dictionary.com has:

“ability to live, especially under certain conditions”

Success is subjective, and conditions are arbitrary. One cannot define viability quantitatively and objectively with regard to an isolated human life.

Humans cannot be expected to be successful independently and in isolation under most circumstances that might actually try them alone. Any human at any point in the life of that human could be declared to be nonviable with appropriately defined conditions for success, especially with an appropriate definition of success.

Viability is not a useful word in discussing abortion.

I keep thinking I need to write my thoughts out more.

Perhaps I will get to that. I obviously haven’t been diligent about it.

I don’t know that I will get around to reading the subject book, but this article was quite useful.

https://www.jaymedenwaldt.com/2020/12/weirdest-apologetic.html

A good write up of what I expect is a good book, good information.

https://looker-dashboards.ok.gov/embed/dashboards/76

81% of deaths in Oklahoma asserted to involve COVID-19 are over 65. Adding from age 50 pushes the total to 96%. The disease is not dangerous to people less than 50 years old. It isn’t.

Oklahoma reports its first death asserted to involve COVID-19 was 18 March 2020, thus 260 days to 03 December 2020, for an average of 7 deaths per day. The fact that the average death rate has gradually increased throughout the period since would concern me if I had any confidence in the data. First, the case data is only misleading. It offers only obfuscation. Case numbers are demonstrably a linear function of testing numbers. (Check the mathematics for yourself.) Case numbers provide no useful information whatsoever. Death numbers are affected by the case numbers, and death numbers are corrupted by government influence due to politics and due to monetary compensation considerations. Further, panic and fear drive mistakes and bias. Finally, the unimaginable numbers in the quantity of testing and results and the ever-increasing involvement of more and more people results in inevitable honest mistakes that are not caught and corrected for many reasons, not the least of which is simply lack of time for checking and double checking. (Not to mention all the money being made by testers and laboratories.)

https://oklahoma.gov/coronavirus.html

As is obvious from the graphic from Oklahoma, deaths have been growing very slowly and steadily [no jumps, no causes for alarm], with hospitalizations growing only slightly faster, but steady, while cases increase at an ever-increasing pace. Rationality dictates that these data force us to conclude the case numbers are meaningless. Further, nearly all the cases are recovered. Obviously, the virus is not significantly lethal for anyone younger than 65.

Panic is unjustifiable. Fear is the only thing we have to fear. Fear that disables and isolates, causing long-term detriment to us all, especially our young and our poor. The least among us bear the brunt of the burden we impose with coercive restrictions and mandates pretending to protect them.

Toward the end of April when the official case count exceed 3000, the death rate was 6%. By early June, cases exceed 7000 with the death rate at 5%. Nationally, we had a bit of a bump early in the summer as the expected second wave hit. By the first week of August cases exceeded 40000, but the death rate was below 1.5%. Here at the beginning of December, the official case count is over 204-thousand, with the death rate having fallen below 1%. Obviously the case count provides no information, no useful predictive indication. Case numbers only provide confusion and fear. We need to stop it. We need to be testing only people who have the most significant symptoms at significant levels, and we need two tests of differing types so as to eliminate the false positives. Still, it is too late. There is no hope. The virus will have to fade into the background of its own accord, or perhaps because of vaccines, but our nonsensical fear and panic will continue to cause suffering for far longer than we will ever admit; suffering we caused ourselves. Regarding COVID-19, the least harmful action was no action; a possibility politicians refused to consider for fear of being accused of not trying.

“Inherent factors have predetermined the Covid-19 mortality:”


Primary fact found: the higher a grouping’s life expectancy, the higher the death rate due to COVID-19.


It is an extensive paper you won’t bother reading. Perhaps you could read the introductory paragraphs.


My summary is nothing governments did helped. Lockdowns didn’t help. Mandates and other restrictions didn’t help. Call it the luck of the draw, but that isn’t right. What mattered was where people lived and how dependent people were on government. The more the government mattered in the society, the worse things went regarding the virus.


Sadly, of course, what most people will conclude is they need more government involvement in their lives.


Another tidbit one can conclude from this study is that economics really does equal lives. That is, the better off the economy, the more lives are saved (and vice versa). And, frankly, the more decadent people get, the more susceptible they are to stresses, like a new infection. Which, of course, means good economics also tends to make us lazy, which kills us. I suppose, in the end, we all die regardless.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2020.604339/full

If you recall, Matthew related this incident similarly. John recounted it with significant differences. I like Mark’s account. Some interesting nuances.
Most of Jesus’ listeners would have been aware that Jesus was referencing Deuteronomy 15 in regulations for dealing with the poor and people who had suffered loss.
I think in our day, we need to extend the analogy to the sick, and to those who are feared for potentially being sick.


Mark 14:3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”


Would have Jesus accepted the close and intimate offering if he’d known the offeror was infected with COVID-19? Wouldn’t the naysayers have reacted the same if the woman wasn’t wearing a mask?

I think we all understand Jesus wouldn’t have drawn back. The example took place in the house of a leper. Jesus never refused the sick. He never will. Of course, those who took offense would have been just as offended as those who, today, take offense at maskless passerbys.


If the virus runs unhindered, we humans will pull through stronger than ever. If fear and isolation continue to hold sway, well, I don’t think future generations will remember the alarmists as favorably as we remember this supplicant.

A thoughtful fellow commented on how someone could argue for mandating a moral good. He pointed out how nearly everyone agrees religion is a moral good, but we all insist on freedom of religion. Of course. (Wise man, isn’t he?)

I add that available evidence shows clearly that individual religious observance is beneficial for the individuals and their groups. On the other hand, available evidence shows masks have no benefit with regard to viruses, and they result in grave harm to individuals and groups in psychological factors. Masks and distancing interfere with what makes us human; we are communal, and masks break the communion.

I here provide a link, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article, to a definitive study from authoritative sources that establishes mechanistic measures do not impede virus transmission. Masks do not slow the spread of viruses.

The study was completed before politics entered disease research. If you look, you can find several older studies concluding the same, though most aren’t as thorough and definitive. I’m not offering any supporting evidence regarding religious practice, but you all know that, and you can look for yourself if you want evidence. When religions are abused for evil, it is by authoritarianism. Authoritarianism is always bad regardless of the level of application or the means. Authoritarianism can be inflicted by science and experts as easily as by religious officials. It can be wielded by bosses or politicians or police or menial bureaucrats. The result is the same, coercion. Coercion is evil.

Masks don’t help. Please don’t mandate masks. If you call for the imposition of masks and other socially harmful measures, understand I define your actions as evil; you are causing unnecessary, unjustifiable suffering. Perhaps you don’t care about my opinion, but if it is evil, are you willing to live with that? Are you intentionally inflicting evil on society and your fellows? I say so.

I ask why? Why are you willing to coerce your neighbor when coercion is certainly evil? Are you afraid? Then I say grow up.

Thoughtful with good information and reason. In short, we are probably alone in our galaxy, but we are nowhere near being sure about that. We have reasonable evidence we are alone. The calculations discussed in the video are useful, and they imply there are many reasons to seem alone if we aren’t quite alone.

Fundamentally to me, the purpose of the universe is to use enthalpy to do work and use it up, increasing the entropy with every moment. The purpose of the universe is to make entropy.

If you think of entropy as chaos, you won’t understand. Entropy isn’t chaos, it is used-up energy. It cannot be used again, but it is still energy. Order and disorder are poor analogies. It is not correct to say order doesn’t arise from disorder. The statement is simply false. Order arises from disorder all the time in various ways depending on enthalpy and work.

Because living systems use enthalpy much more effectively, I expect living systems everywhere they can be. Further, I expect living systems to expand and maximize as much as possible. 99.9% of all predecessor examples we have accomplished that and passed on. The only example we have exactly like us (we ourselves) seems to be ever-expanding and increasing capacity. It may be that other “like-us” examples exist intent on minimalization, but that is counter to the ever more effective use of enthalpy that seems to be the sole purpose of the universe as a whole.

Beyond our galaxy, we have no data. It is too big with too many possibilities to support any conjecture. Within our galaxy, so far, the only reasonable assumption is that we are alone. We can hold out hope, but the universe doesn’t seem concerned with wasting space. It does seem concerned with using up enthalpy and increasing entropy as fast as it can figure out ways to do it, and ways emerge, figuring out how to do it. Emergent self-organizing systems arise from unbalanced systems. That is physics, not psyche. Supposing consciousness is some sort of emergent physical self-organizing system is contra factual. Consciousness is much, much more than a self-organizing physical system. We know less about our minds inside than we do about all that is outside. Consciousness may be the key. Consciousness may be so exceptional that it arising even once in a galaxy is long odds. No consciousness, no engineering. No engineering, no world-building and expanding into otherwise deadly environments. No world-building, no new worlds. That could be the great filter.

Paul VanderKlay generally says things worth listening to and incorporating.

PVK comments on the video below, and he quotes from Andrew Klaven toward the end. Yeah, good stuff. https://www.andrewklavan.com/

I’m adding Klaven to my “hope to read” list.

“If we concede that one thing is morally better than another, it can only be because it is closer to the Ultimate Moral Good, the standard by which it’s measured. An Ultimate Moral Good cannot just be an idea. It must be, in effect, a personality with consciousness and free will. The rain isn’t morally good even though it makes the crops grow; a tornado that kills isn’t morally evil—though it may be an evil for those in its way…True, objective good and evil, in order to be good and evil, have to be aware and intentional. So an Ultimate Moral Good must be conscious and free; it must be God.” Andrew Klavan (The Great Good Thing)
The same goes for rationality and reason.

https://youtu.be/FNzupCSz02Y

Yes, exactly.
Key takeaway: Nature is dealing with plastic without regard to us.

As George Carlin sagely pointed out, humans may exist solely for the purpose of making plastic. 😉

Think back to when plants first started making cellulose. Cellulose would not have been biodegradable initially. After plants started making it, creatures evolved to eat it. The same goes for plastics. Plastics are rich in fuel potential. It is inefficient for us to use plastics as fuel, but we can, and do, but microbes can, and do, and will more, eat plastics as food. There is no threat to the biome from plastics.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/10/25/computational-hubris/

I have erred. There is hardly a more axiomatic truth than, “coercion is evil.” Some draw the line at physical violence; some at aggressive, insulting, in-your-face shouting-level speaking, but I draw it at knowingly, intentionally manipulating or deceiving, no matter how politely.

I trust I haven’t deceived anyone, but I have grown manipulative. I’ll do my best to correct that.

Laws, in general, are coercive. Yes, I hold that most laws are evil. Perhaps I should say most laws are more evil than the thing they were intended to prohibit. (Authoritarian prohibition doesn’t work.)

COVID-19 has created a catastrophe in the USA. While the virus itself is tragic and horrid, the aftermath has weakened our society such that I believe we are in the last days of the American experiment. Lincoln feared we would not long endure at only four score and seven years. We have made it a ways past that, but I think we’ve lost the plot. I am not optimistic about the world we are leaving our children and grandchildren. They may have their own bloodlettings, tragedies that might make the world wars and the communist slaughters seem trivial in comparison.

Still, humanity has been in sad shape before. No matter how bad it gets, brighter days lie beyond. I weep because I believe my generation and the current generation should have seen it coming and avoided it.

For those with apocalyptic suppositions consistent with Pentecostalism, I do not suppose we are in those last days. I’ve grown to suppose we should take the promise to Abraham as more literal than the description of the end times common among the tribe of my upbringing. That is, I expect the descendants of Abraham to number as the stars before that great and terrible day of the Lord. No time in history has better matched the premillennial interpretations better than WWII. We are still here.

To the point: I am firmly convinced that persuasion is an illusion, and the only true persuader is the pain and suffering resultant directly as consequence of one’s own belief and actions. When we suffer, when our children suffer, directly as a result of our choices, then we change our minds and our practices. Nothing else persuades, at least nothing humans can wield in any sense.

It seems to me we all unconsciously understand this fact; though I’ve yet to meet anyone who humbly accepts it. (I have much to grow into regarding that particular humility.) People pretend persuasion is real. People like Scott Adams admit most of it is hypnosis and trickery, but that is simply manipulation. Such persuasion techniques lure some into one’s fold, but nothing like rational mind-change and growth is involved. Argumentation never convinces anyone. The rare instances of seeming persuasion result only from truth-seekers who happen to find better truth while in your presence and under the sound of your voice. Your arguments didn’t convince them. They were already convinced, and you just happened to help them realize it. Because one’s effort to persuade are ultimately frustrated, everyone degenerates to coercion, or at least the desire to get one’s own way. Consequently, when we can’t persuade people to do what is right, we attempt to force them for their own good. It is the foundation of all the evil humans commit against each other.

I tend to forget persuasion is an illusion. I intentionally commit myself to truth and reality as best I can manage, and I tend to assume my arguments, my presentation of facts and rationality, can somehow lead people to better truth. It is easy to be fooled into thinking there are means of persuasion. No.

No matter how sound my argument, no matter how demonstratable and replicable my facts and figures, they mean nothing to the one who wasn’t already approaching them to begin with.

Facts do not matter.

Truly, to us humans, facts don’t matter.

We pretend to “believe” in facts. We assent to science. Still, to most people, science is merely a secularized religion and blind faith. Facts do not matter to us in general.

You can’t understand something when your livelihood depends on not understanding it. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/11/30/salary/

What applies to understanding applies to persuasion. People believe whatever they want to believe for whatever reasons (or emotions) they find sufficient at the moment.

One cannot get from an is to an ought. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80%93ought_problem

We all know that. We all pretend our science, our reasoning, our facts, our data, “clearly and obviously” show what ought to be done. Yet, policy is merely politics. There is no science nor facts involved except by happenstance.

I’m above average regarding what is. Really. As haughty as it is to say so, I do understand the is of things better than average. That is, odds are I understand whatever it is we are talking about better than you. You can take offense at that, or we can continue.

Regardless of how well I understand a thing, even if my understand is closer to ultimate reality than all other observers, I have no authority to impose what you ought to think about it. Whether I am perfectly right or absolutely wrong about it, there is no difference with regard to what anyone ought to do about it. My rightness or wrongness regarding the facts does not usually affect the morality of it.

The COVID-19 virus caused political panic, and our governments imposed grave hardship on our society. The least among us suffered most, and the infection spread unabated, and many died despite illusions of control.

Because facts don’t matter, I’ll not compare the infection-epidemics of the last century. Any story anyone wants can be woven from the history and the scant data. What is clear is our governments overreacted. It matters not how much or what might have been done differently or better. The fact remains, our governments overreacted at all levels, but facts don’t matter.

Typically, viruses spread quickly, and deadly viruses tally deaths frightfully. So was COVID-19. Then, it subsided just as viruses typically do, and our governments mostly became more rational again, but the rot is extensive and the loss of the plot of our national story is too far gone. Politics and the fears that drive politicians have held sway, and the madness of the crowds has only grown darker and more destructive.

Lacking control, and politicians find lack of control to be an existential threat, the politicians flailed about for anything to grasp and control. The pain and suffering resultant from lockdowns was sufficient to dissuade many politicians of trying that again, so they settled on ritualistic outward shows. Face it, the mask is no more than a social-religious purity rite. One can point to countless superstitions and religious rituals that are the same. While there is no evidence the rite is at all efficacious for the need, it obviously does something; “it helps” is so easy to say when this or that can be shown to be reliably demonstrated, despite the fact that none of it addresses the disease or the realities of transmission. It looks good to the majority; thus, it must be so. Facts don’t matter.

I can point to many more research papers than you can, but facts don’t matter.

Masks are of no practical value, but facts don’t matter. This is where we stumble from the is to the ought.

Masks are not medically significant, but they are an outward show, and they are supposed (they ought) to be of at least some moral significance. See the difficulty? The fact cannot argue for the ought. The moral significance is not something science or medicine can address. The moral significance is a cultural and religious issue, thus, a social-religious purity rite is the obvious outcome.

In the USA, we hold moral significance in the separation of the church and the state. The government, at every level in our nation, ought not impose any religious practice on anyone. We, as a culture, find it morally reprehensible to impose the beliefs of some onto others. It is our moral consensus, the majority opinion, faithfully held and executed.

Yet, our governments are imposing an outward moral practice, a social-religious purity rite, upon us all regardless of our own individual morals or convictions.

Can you acknowledge that mask-wearing is a moral issue?

If you can, can you not see that many individuals will have moral convictions in opposition strong enough to die for, strong enough to fight for, even kill for?

Why would you want that?

Is your fear of the virus so overwhelming that you will trade the life of the person willing to die for his beliefs over the person who might not be able to overcome an infection, an infection that is likely inevitable eventually anyway?

I started by saying I erred. I tried to manipulate people emotionally with shortcuts to my arguments here.

I hold it self-evident that authoritarian impositions directly harm the lest among us, especially those with less mental stamina than average, those who just might be pushed into suicide or unrecoverable mental illness by the authoritarian imposition.

While mask-shamers assert refusing masks endangers others, I am just as certain mask-mandaters are endangering those who could not resist the power of the state, the police, the fine-collectors, and the jailers.

Thus, I erred, I sinned. I repent. While the mandaters and shamers were trying to coerce me and others resistant to being told what to do, I was trying to coerce them for opposite reasons. The basis is moral. It cannot be resolved without relationships, trust-building, and proven good faith.

Thus, I find the reason for coercion and mandate. Power corrupts, but it temporarily enforces the morals of the powerful.

Get it? Some say, “But not everyone will do what is right.” Of course. Fundamentally, you have no authority to say what is right. While you are so fallible, your highest ideals and notions of what is right are as filthy rags. Of course, not everyone will do it. Many will believe it is wrong to do it. They believe you are morally wrong. You have no authority to assert otherwise; thus, you grab power, you call a vote to rubber stamp your edict, and you make pretenses that your coercive evil acts are justified. No, it is not justified. It is merely hypnotic manipulation of the mob. Mob rule is never justifiable.

No, your evil coercive acts bread more evil and coercion. Soon, it is the Soviet Union. Soon, it is the Gulag and every third person is a government informant seeking some small favor and morsel of the power for turning you in.

Only love can drive out hate. Only relationship, trust, and cooperation can find and build societal moral consensus. Seizing power and forcing mandates, restrictions, and social-religious purity rites may work quicker, but is far more brutal. It is the opposite of humane. We pass more and more laws and emergency edicts at our peril.

It is not just a mask.

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