Response

Original article here

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Apparently, John makes good points. I disagree, but OK.

Re: John;

“The “father” of a zygote experiences no sacrifice of bodily autonomy, while the “mother” does. It makes sense, then, that the mother has more options regarding the position she is in.”

I have agreed with this, ad nauseum. I disagree in saying this is equal treatment under the law, but I see it as a case of justified (due to the “situation”) inequality. Calling it equal is just a misuse of the term; men and women aren’t treated equally, they are treated differently based on the different biological facts in play. Your subsequent analogy makes no sense in this context.

My thought experiment about, as Eric dismissively termed it, “children in jars“, isn’t some sophists pipe dream; we have the technology now. We obviously can’t do this for everyone, but I’m not talking about time-warps or wormholes. This is a nascent science, it provides a relevant perspective on equal treatment of mother and father, and it’s an obvious counter-example to the claim that differences in gender do not justify differences in treatment under the law. That’s not to say one instance justifies all possible instances, as in most of Sharia Law(which I have repeatedly derided here and elsewhere), but it does mean you can’t rest your case on the principle of “equality” alone. Thus, to simply moralize against unequal treatment is inconsistent with your own position regards many aspects of western society. This is in response to your “original point…which was to question the claim…that it makes sense to have separate restrictions on women that do not apply to men just because women are different.”

“As for it is women’s fault they are in the situation they are in, I doubt you apply such logic to all your own misfortunes. What a convenient trick.”

Gratuitous, and baseless, character slander in lieu of an intelligent response.

“My rights as a potential father are subverted by an unfair gender system, but their problems are of their own making.”

I don’t choose to be male; they choose(more often than men) to put quality of life before career, even choosing lower-paying careers, and that has been well-documented. Indeed, there’s even a push to make businesses more family friendly in order to stop-gap the “opt-out revolution”. I think this is potentially disastrous unless we can enforce such a change across the globe; just as unionizing only local labor contributed to employing millions of Chinese and Indians rather than Americans with the advent of globalization, forcing a change in the business model that hurts an American-staffed business’ capacity to compete on the global stage could do the same(offshoring).

Will it? y’know, I don’t know, there’s even some research to suggest that it won’t, but the vanishing labor market due to outsourcing at the low end should be a lesson not soon forgotten or ignored. And even if we institutionalize this change, there will still be more men than women who simply ignore their family(or don’t start one), which will allow them to pull ahead of their competition, and as a result will still have a better shot at those top slots.

re: Eric;

“women are different and don’t really belong in the fields dominated by men”

I never said women can’t hack it, they clearly can. They just choose not to, in much greater numbers than men. Women do as well or better in many managerial positions, but they either choose a low-impact field (eg 85% of schoolteachers are women) for the time off and fulfilling work, or leave that high-impact rat-race before they reach the top in order to settle down and raise a child or three before their biological clock shuts off. These are choices <i>they</i> make, freely and happily, so yeah, I’m not all that keen on fixing a problem like “women make less on average” or “too few women CEOs” when the real cause is the better quality of life that women enjoy over men. Call that woman-bashing if you wish, but there is little, if any, evidence of discrimination or “second-listing” of women.

You call the disparity a problem; I call it a question, and it has an answer.

You said high-risk jobs aren’t high-status and high-paying, and you’re half right(many are  high-paying for the skill-set required). Women just don’t choose high-risk as often as men, and this accounts for some of the disparity between wages when you correct for skill-sets. You want low-risk, high-status, high-pay, you get long hours, frequent travel, and little-no family life. Ask a high-powered woman, they’ll line up and tell you that these are the sacrifices you have to make, and most women(and almost as many men) just don’t. Hell, they’re better for it; look at the male CEOs, they’re all type-a workaholics with bad ulcers, broken families, and little more than a fat paycheck to nurse their miserable egos into an early grave. This level of competition isn’t going away just because it doesn’t equally cater to women’s choices.

We’ve got a couple hundred-thousand years of evolutionary history in which men wrecked their bodies in protecting and providing for women, yet somehow this is all just forgotten in the course of historical revisionism, and it’s <i>society</i> or <i>patriarchy</i> that’s enabling men to continue this and subordinating women to the same lifestyle choices their ancestors were selected for. Women put home and hearth above career, not because(according to the evidence) they’ve been doing it for umpteen generations, but because(according to the narrative) modern western society has codified gender rules created by men. This is precisely the sort of short-sighted, narrow-minded, factually unsupported, and logically fallacious dogmatism that we object to in the religious mindset. I fully agree that women should have the choice one way or the other, but lets not now pretend that they aren’t exercising that freedom in ways that appear consistent with their biology and priorities.

The problem with approaching real world problems with fantasy ideologies is easily recognized when we talk about religion, but completely ignored when the topic turns to gender. This can be seen in the rising disparity between primary and undergrad performance between boys and girls, in the rising disparity between unemployment of men and women, and in fantastically stupid public policy decisions.

The more effort we put into fighting a non-existent problem, the more we violate the very equality that underpins our efforts. We need to approach these questions practically, not politically, or we risk moralizing our economy even further into the crapper and disenfranchising an entire generation of citizens.

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EDIT:  Having read through the AAUW report “Behind the Pay Gap” that I linked to above, you notice that even once you correct for all of the factors one might apply, including life choices, there remains a 5% disparity in wages between men and women.  That’s the all important difference, but what causes it?  I’m certainly open to the idea that I’m wrong, that there is real, systemic discrimination against women, but we need to dig into that 5% and analyze it.  How do we eliminate it?  CAN we eliminate it?  The closing lines of the consad report suggest that this may not be possible:

As a result, it is not possible now, and doubtless will never be possible, to determine reliably whether any portion of the observed gender wage gap is not attributable to factors that compensate women and men differently on socially acceptable bases, and hence can confidently be attributed to overt discrimination against women. In addition, at a practical level, the complex combination of factors that collectively determine the wages paid to different individuals makes the formulation of policy that will reliably redress any overt discrimination that does exist a task that is, at least, daunting and, more likely, unachievable.

What can I say to that?

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The Pious Have Bills To Pay, Too

Colorado shooting: tragic. I don’t know why it occurred, where “blame” should properly lie outside of the lone gunman, or how any of the victims might feel. I tend not to spend much time reveling in the gory details, but Facebook has once again delivered a religious proclamation that makes me despise the religious mindset all over again.

The article that cropped up in my timeline is here, where a local pastor relates the story of a woman whose brain had a “defect” which allowed a piece of a shotgun blast pass through her grey matter, seemingly without any permanent cognitive damage. Said pastor calls this “miraculous” when they hear the tale from the operating doctor. He claims it was an instance of “God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future.”

He has received some mild pushback from the skeptical, to which he has constructed a forked approach, first saying, “If we are honest, we must admit we cannot explain everything.” Later, he justifies God’s non-intervention in the case of the shooter, saying, “We are free to act for good or evil.” Why? Because “Choice and freedom are removed if I[God] jury-rig the consequences.” He goes on to completely contradict himself when he says, “God interacts in the normal course of events in such a way that outcomes are changed from the normal workings of the universe.” This, in and of itself, represents a stark example of self-refutation that (nearly) renders any effort of mine superfluous. However, it’s actually even worse.

I will presently argue three basic points:

A) There is no more reason to suppose that God created the miraculous channel in Petra’s brain than that he failed to create those same channels in the bodies and heads of the other victims.

B) The very idea of contravening the natural course of events violates the Christian claim that God cannot prevent any of the evil presently in the world.

C) Even if this special case was the work of God, the adulation of God is utterly misplaced in the aftermath of this event.

In defense of A, I would simply point out that to claim we have discerned the “beneficence” of God through sparing one woman’s life while dozens fell around her, is to say that good fortune suddenly grants us some special insight that misery denies us. If God’s ways truly are mysterious, we are in no position to attribute the outcomes we prefer to God’s actions and the outcomes we do not prefer to some void of confusion. If we can, for a moment, admit that we do not know the mind of God, we immediately see that the 6-year-old whose body did not have special bullet channels, for example, is the failure of God’s non-intervention. Where was he when this child was formed, and his internal organs were placed directly into the future path of destruction. Busy carving the virgin mary into a tree in New Jersey, apparently.

In defense of B, I will point out an example used by Christian apologist William Lane Craig in support of the consistency between God’s existence and the existence of evil. It has been suggested, by his opponents, that God could turn some bullets to rubber, or butterflies, before they hit their target. In this way, choices might retain their moral content, while no innocent has to suffer for this moral freedom. Dr. Craig responds that this would turn the world into a playground, where no bad choices have bad consequences, and thus bad choices would not retain their moral content. If you fire at someone in this playground world, no one would be hurt, so why would firing in such a way, in that world, be a “bad” thing? This pastor’s miracle is but one example, but the principle is the same. If he can create one mind with special bullet-channels without stripping us of our freedom or moral responsibility, why can he not create all minds, and bodies, similarly? By Craig’s argument, he cannot even do this once without violating creaturely freedom, and so if God modified Petra’s brain in such a way, then the concept of creaturely freedom in the Christian context is rendered false. Since said freedom is a necessary component in the Christian religion (i.e. it cannot be false while Christianity is true), this event is either not miraculous, or the Christian God is a fiction.

In defense of C, let’s consider what it means for an action to be morally praiseworthy. If a man’s actions provide some benefit to someone else, at no cost to himself, we intuitively view this as mildly praiseworthy. Yes, he did something good, but it isn’t as though he went out of his way to do anything. The recipient may be thankful, but should anyone else view this as all that morally praiseworthy? I don’t think so. Now consider another man whose actions provide some benefit to someone else, and significant cost to himself. We immediately recognize the difference in how much praise each man deserves. The first may give $100 to a charity, yet possesses millions that he does not donate. The second may give the same $100 to a charity, and have to walk to work for a week because that was his gas money. Obviously the cost of an action to the actor is directly proportional to the level of praise we might visit on the actor.

In the wake of this tragedy, we have received (at least)two claims of praiseworthy behavior. In the first, a “good” God who fiddled with some woman’s biology in order that she might be spared death at the hands of a gunman. God has sacrificed nothing to do this, his powers, such as they are, remain unaffected, and his person unmolested. In the second, we have a man who shielded his friends from gunfire so that they might be spared death at the hands of a gunman. The second man sacrificed everything that he has and could possibly give in order to save his friends. Now I submit, on C, that while we may, perhaps, lend light praise to God, we might also wonder why he did not do more. In contrast, on C, the men and women who gave their very lives have so far outstripped the pathetic effort of an all-powerful deity in moral terms that to spare even that light praise on God is a complete waste of time.

Of course, if you read the article, you’ll notice that the lion’s share of the pastor’s time is spent extolling the virtues of God, likewise his supportive commenters. True courage, true sacrifice, truly morally praiseworthy action is readily available, and what does this pastor focus on? God. It’s almost as if he has a stake in keeping God in the picture; as if, perhaps, he might benefit from highlighting a supposed “miracle” from God rather than the actions of some brave men and women.

This sort of blatant opportunism makes me sick. A church is a business, and this is an instance of capitalizing on tragedy. It is the (socially acceptable) equivalent of slapping a gun advert over a still shot of the carnage.