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Monday, August 23, 2010

Going Full Metal Idiot on the GZM

The lamest thing to see recently is for Democrats/liberals making fact-immune defense of the Ground Zero Mosque (GZM).  Two recent examples of this is a blog post from Robert Ebert and

So let’s take Ebert on first.  He creates a post called Ten Things I know About the Mosque.  The irony is that he doesn’t seem to have done basic research or even talked to someone who criticizes it, or even read too many blogs on the subject.

So his first truth:

1. America missed a golden opportunity to showcase its Constitutional freedoms. The instinctive response of Americans should have been the same as President Obama's: Muslims have every right to build there.

Now I have said that I think we have a right to stop it.  I have advocated using the Historical Sites Act to take over much of the area and make sure appropriate messages are sent.  I have said that if it is built with absolutely the best intentions, that it will be interpreted rightly or wrongly by our enemies as a Victory Mosque and as such, as a matter of the powers of war, we have the right to stop it at least until the war is over.  And there is good reason to think they do not have the best of intentions.

But here’s the thing.  I am distinctly in the minority on that point.  Most Americans agree they have the right to build it wherever the hell they want.  They just don’t want them to do it.  A perfectly reasonable position: you can do it, please don’t.

Now, the funny thing is that ordinarily Ebert gets that, which is demonstrated in his second “truth” that the first amendment doesn’t mean: that “[t]he First Amendment gives me the right to repeat the N-word 11 times on the radio to an inoffensive black woman, and when you attack me for saying it, you are in violation of my First Amendment rights.”  We agree, Roger, but see, the thing is, that is all most of Americans are saying on this.  Sure, you are legally entitled to say the n-word, or to build a Mosque at Ground Zero.  But please don’t.

His third truth posits a prediction that it will be moved, but also says, “[t]o oppose it on the grounds that it is Muslim is religious prejudice and nothing else.”  Its funny how liberals claiming that the only reason to oppose this mosque don’t even demonstrate awareness that Muslims have come out in opposition to the GZM.  And if you follow the link, its more than just our Miss USA.

He goes on repeating himself a little and then pointlessly swipes at Sarah Palin comparing her, to egads, Hitler.  What is the rule called that says that first person to invoke Hitler loses the argument?  Anyway, he claims that a pair of tweets from her employ the method of “Big Lie, defined in Mein Kampf as an untruth so colossal that “no one would believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.’”  Mind you this is the same guy who claimed that everyone wants to outlaw the mosque and the only reason to do so is anti-Islamic bigotry.

Then after telling us he agrees with strippers, he then tells one more Big Lie: “I wonder how many Americans realize the community center is not intended for Ground Zero.”

Well, it was chosen because debris from the WTC fell there.  Specifically and early they stated that.  And that begs the question: what counts as ground zero?  Is it reasonable to say “if the debris landed there, it counts?”  I would say so.

There is a concept in law called estoppel.  That is not a misspelling, that is a real word.  And the idea is this.  You can’t talk out of both sides of your mouth.  Let me illustrate this with an example: The Amityville Horror case.  You might or might not know that the movies by that name were based on allegedly true events.  In short, the families there made this bullshit up but did a reasonable job convincing a lot of people it really happened.  So they get themselves in national magazines and the like.  Then at some point they chose to sell the house, and found some out-of-towners who had no idea that this was the Amityville Horror House.  The new owners find out after the sale and sue.  The question was, did the previous owners have a duty to disclose?

The court spent way too much time having fun with the concept using bad puns like “ghost of a chance” and so on, but their point was serious.  First, they said, the previous owners cannot deny now that the house is haunted, because they spent so much time telling the whole world it was.  And second, given that as a matter of law, the house is haunted (yes, they had way too much fun with all of this), they had a duty to disclose.

Well, just like the losers in that case, the founders of this GZM spent too much of their time emphasizing its proximity to disclaim it now.  They billed it as the Ground Zero Mosque.  They also called it Cordoba House, after a famous victory mosque in Moorish Spain.  They have forfeited their right to complain we are calling it the Ground Zero Mosque.

Speaking of Ebert, Benjamin Kerstein publishes this harsh criticism of Ebert’s criticism.  Honestly, I think this doesn’t make a lot of sense.  First, yes Ebert does see his role as telling you whether he liked it or not.  That isn’t a bad thing.  He is not writing an academic piece, the kind of criticism you write when everyone has seen a movie and they are debating what it means.  What he does is more akin to Consumer Reports, where he sees his job as trying to give you an idea whether you would like a movie before you go and see it.  And if you know his tastes and tendencies, you can find him pretty informative.

Second, he remarkably says that every movie made, even bad ones, say something about cinema.  Mmm, if you mean that the bad movies (I’m looking at you, Piranha 3d) demonstrate a certain estimation of what audiences will like, at least enough to make the economics make sense, um, sure, I guess.  But certainly actual box office receipts say more.

Third, I really don’t get his picking on Ebert for demanding realism as though it doesn’t matter.  Of course it matters.  For instance, right quick, which are your favor Batman movies?  99% of you probably answered “The Nolan Batman movies.”  And one of the things that makes those movies great is the relative realism of those movies.  I mean no superhero movie is likely to be completely plausible, but there is a gritty down-to-earth element of the Nolan movies that then make the movie that much more powerful.  It draws you into the world, makes you feel like something real is happening, instead of it just being a bunch of movie stars, and guys in silly costume.

Of course it is more than a little hypocritical for Ebert not to care if Michael Moore’s films are full of shit.  I mean the whole concept of the documentary is to tell you the truth, not to make it fiction in another form.  If we want fiction pretending to be a documentary, we could watch The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield or District 9.  Actually I would rather watch any of them, especially D9.  But that doesn’t make his point about seeking realism invalid.

Anyway, as promised, I will switch over to Cracked’s idiocy.  Now we have noticed for a while that Ebert practically swoons at any anti-Bush, anti-conservative movie for some time.  So its not really surprising he would take such a clueless stand.  The annoying thing is when Cracked does.  I don’t know if you read that site, but I do, almost daily, and normally they are very good at finding and discussing truths that most people miss.  Their shtick is to blow your mind with little known facts, mixed with jokes.  Like take this classic from them: Five Real Life Soldiers Who Make Rambo Look like a Pussy.  The “White Death” alone is a real mind blower, and there are four more of them, laced with jokes, and irreverence, but these are essentially true stories.  And normally even when they get political they are pretty even handed, zinging left and right equally.

That is why Three Reasons the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Debate Makes No Sense is such a disappointment.  This time we are treated to only 3 tedious “truths”.  Let’s start with the third point: “You Can’t Simultaneously Acknowledge A Right And Insist That Your Government Suppress It.”

In short he is alleging that some people are saying that they have a right to build it, but the government should stop them from building it.  To this point, he quotes Harry Reid and Sarah Palin.  Let’s take the quote from Palin he attributes that sentiment to: “We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they?”

Yes, that’s it.  She doesn’t call in the jackboots, she just asks if this is the wise thing to do.  In short she agrees with all kinds of people, including the first ever Muslim Miss USA.  Funny that.

And then, God help me they do the unthinkable.  They force me to defend Harry Reid.  Reid is given ownership of this: “While respecting that Muslims have a First Amendment right to religious freedom, Reid ‘thinks this mosque should be built someplace else,’ his spokesman Jim Manley said Monday.”  Again where is the statement that Reid was telling them they couldn’t build it?  All he is saying is, you have the right, but please don’t.

To further highlight his deep confusion on the issue, he then tries to emphasize his point: “Should I say it more simply? OK.  You can’t legally stop people from obeying the law.”  Well, absolutely true, but, um, what the hell does that have to do with anything?  I mean for a guy claiming this debate makes no sense, that statement makes no sense.

Obeying the law is to obey its commands.  That is don’t do X, do do Y.  So don’t murder, but do pay taxes if applicable.  But a legal right doesn’t fall into that category.  I am free to call people the n-word, but I am not obliged or commanded to do so.  I am not disobeying the law if I don’t.

And the funny thing is about two seconds later he seems to get it, with a picture caption that says “We all know people have the right to eat goat rhoti, but the question is, should they?”  This after joking that one should “avoid the goat rhoti.”  He gets the idea between freedom of action and individual discretion.  Indeed, here’s the big dirty secret of the 1st amendment.  The founders gave us freedom not because they wanted us to be obnoxious, but because they didn’t trust anyone else to determine when we were violating social norms.  But they still expected us to exercise our own discretion.  Appealing to someone not to build a mosque at ground zero is exactly that.

Then he goes on to spew the usual other crap.  Its not at ground zero.  Its strictly a mosque.  And you already know the response.

Very disappointing, all around.