About a month ago I recorded a video examining the scientific evidence of the lab-leak hypothesis for the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Since then, a heated exchange between Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci has transpired in which the issue of whether the United States, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has funded so-called gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). I was planning on making another video on this subject (and probably will at some point), but after some discussion with a commenter on my earlier video, some more philosophical questions have emerged that I am going to discuss here a bit.
So-called “cancel culture” is the inclination, usually on social media, to draw negative attention toward those individuals who have transgressed certain cultural mores. This is often observed when someone has made a social media post that is construed as bigoted against a marginalized group. This “cancel culture” is an interesting phenomenon that takes something very human – ostracizing transgressors – and cranking it up exponentially.
The first election in which I voted was the 2004 race between the Democrat challenger John Kerry and the Republican incumbent George W. Bush. I voted for Kerry primarily because I was against the war in Iraq. In 2008 I voted for Barack Obama, again because of the war (and because I didn’t like McCain’s hawkishness), but also because I believed Obama to be the candidate that would best preserve the civil liberties that Bush had been attempting to dismantle during his tenure. By 2012, though, I had become disillusioned with the Democratic party – Obama did not deliver on the things I felt were important (getting out of our Middle Eastern wars and upholding civil liberties at home). I could never bring myself to vote Republican, though, since in my mind they were (and still are) the party of neocon war hawks and pearl-clutching social conservatives. So, in 2012 I voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian party candidate (which I did again in 2016; I voted for the Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen in 2020).
I am not a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but I recognize my own cognitive dissonance on the issue. That’s not to award myself any brownie points or anything, just a statement of fact. Indeed, it likely only makes my own cognitive dissonance on the issue even worse.
I think even the most avid hunter or advocate of the carnivore diet would decline to offer any defense of the factory farming industry, which is an important subcategory of the overarching animal rights issue in general. But there is more hypocrisy involved than just the overt acceptance of factory farming imposed by law and the tacit acceptance of factory farming in everyday people as they turn a blind eye to it and continue consuming animal products, thereby maintaining the very demand that resulted in the invention of factory farming.
Recently, the evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins stirred up controversy with a tweet wondering about the differences between transgender identity and so-called trans-racial identity a la Rachel Dolezal. This upset people for many reasons, but one of them is his word choice: saying that transgender people “choose” to identify as the gender opposite to the sex they were born with. The backlash resulted in Dawkins having his 1996 Humanist of the Year award revoked by the American Humanist Association, which caused its own controversy.
I recently read the article on FiveThirtyEight by Hakeem Jefferson and Koji Takahashi titled How The Politics Of White Liberals And White Conservatives Are Shaped By Whiteness. According to the article, and everything else in recent years on the topic of racism and ‘whiteness’, what I have to say will be motivated only by my racism, but hey, I thought I’d take a wack at it, anyway.
When an artist does something heinous (or, at least, is accused of something heinous), can we separate the artist from their art? This conundrum has become more salient in the Me Too era, where many people in film, TV, music, comedy, influencer, and other forms of entertainment and content creation are called out for their bad behavior. There doesn’t seem to be any readily available answers, but that doesn’t mean these aren’t important questions to ask.
When considering the religious aspect of the fanatical MAGA mob and their QAnon conspiracies, I can’t help but be reminded by Kierkegaard‘s leap of faith. Just as Abraham was told to do something heinous in the name of God, and despite the fact that nobody would understand why Abraham had done it, he must still do it.
The article written by Michael Lind titled “The Five Crises of the American Regime” attempts to diagnose the underlying causes of the United States’ current situation – that of increasingly polarized politics and the anger and grievances of the polity. It is a great article, and I recommend reading the whole thing. Here, though, I want to discuss five other crises that are contributing to the decline and fall of the American Empire.
Something tells me the storming of the capitol building wasn’t so much a putsch attempt as just a release of pent-up anger – more Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 and less the takeover of the Winter Palace on October 25, 1917. However, we all know what the Storming of the Bastille eventually led to.
During these declining days of the U.S. Empire, everything has become politicized. People demand political participation, if not full on activism (for their preferred positions, of course), from celebrities, corporations, and family members alike. The politicization of everything is, of course, a prelude to totalitarianism: your every action has political implications, and therefore you must always be virtue signaling, demonstrating your loyalty to the cause. My own deep-seated cynicism about politics has been a blessing and a curse. And it’s also why I voted third party.
Humans seem to be evolutionarily predisposed towards interest in what other people are doing, since this has allowed for the social cohesion that’s been instrumental to our survival. There is also an element that, the more other people there are who care what a particular person says and does, the more people will care what that particular person says and does, creating a positive feedback loop. Social status in the form of notability must have developed as a way of attaining reproductive access.