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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
            Friday, November 28 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Frames of reference: 3

Liberal
Conservative
Anything goes ("do your thing")
Re-establish and hold to standards

Writing in 1929, English writer G.K. Chesterton, a convert from skepticism to Catholicism, bested his American counterpart, H.L. Mencken, a liberal secularist, in debate by asserting that if Mencken and other modernist writers continued to insist that there were no ultimate standards on which both sides could agree, that there could be no argument:*

[In] the absence of a standard of ultimate values, the most ordinary functions really cannot be performed.... We cannot really denounce the Service-mongering bond salesman as a swindler, because we have no certain agreement that it is shameful to be a swindler…we cannot really argue about that or anything else, because there are no rules of the game of argument. There is nothing to prove who has scored a point and who had not. There can be a disturbance, but there cannot be a discussion.

In his essay, "The New Yorker and the Pope; Argument is Pointless Without Some Understanding of the Other Side," Mark Gauvreau Judge ( in Breakpoint) concludes that there is now often an impasse between the opposing sides of the culture war (liberal and conservative) because many of the liberal writers and debaters refuse to even engage their opponents. An argument, he proposes, requires that both sides of the arguments present a thesis, support it by evidence in the form of quotation and examples that show the thesis is appropriate to the side under discussion, and demonstrate how it works itself out in social or political consequences. Then the opponent takes the same material, adding his or her own facts and quotes, and argues the opposite point.

The critic of Pope John Paul II, Jane Kramer, writing in the New Yorker, discussed by Judge, proposes that the Pope was so long under the repression of Satalinists in control of his native country, Poland, that in his old age he has become an example of Stalinism himself. Under classical rules of debate and of composition (writing) such an assertion would require evidence of statements and actions the Pope has made and done that prove his Stalinist propensities, or at least expert testimony by witnesses of his Stalinism. The New Yorker writer, however, makes no such case. She just asserts, in effect, that the Pope is not liberal enough to satisfy her and her leftwing colleagues in politics and journalism, so he must have a problem, and since he lived many years under Stalinism, this theory of what's wrong with him is as good as any.

Judge's article serves as excellent corroboration of my first row of items in Monday's table comparing liberal and conservative philosophies: Liberals are into "anything goes/ do your own thing," and conservatives, by contrast, are for finding and re-establishing the standards that have best served civilizations from at least the times of Abraham and Moses. Liberals (like conservatives), come in infinite varieties. Some are more radical in their tolerance of "anything goes," than others, but the fact that it has been liberal organizations (like the ACLU), always, that have defended pornographers in court, and civil rights for homosexuals as though they are a minority when in fact you can't know one unless he or she labels him or her self, as well as liberal plans to sexualize school children (as described here in an article about an appointee to high office in the Clinton Administration) support my thesis. And the call of two conservative writers, G. K. Chesterton and Mark Gauvreau Judge, for the recognition of ultimate standards in debate and writing support the thesis pertaining to conservatives.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Quick reference for this series: First, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh. twelfth.

Fun facts (or "facts," so it says, but take with a grain)

If Barbie were life-size, her measurements would be 39-23-33. She would stand seven feet, two inches tall and have a neck twice the length of a normal human neck.

In ancient Egypt, Priests plucked EVERY hair from their bodies, including their eyebrows and eyelashes.

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.
 
— James Madison
fourth U.S. President, known as
"The Father of Our Constitution"
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