I’m not talking about things that are bad but widely acknowledged to be bad like, murder or the Dallas Cowboys. And I’m not talking about things that I’m confident are bad but as to which I grudgingly acknowledge that marginally reasonable minds could differ, like mayonnaise or light beer. I’m talking about things that allegedly smart people in allegedly polite company seem to have no problem with but that are completely morally indefensible.
Peter Singer. This guy is a philosophy professor at Princeton who advocates killing infants with disabilities. Seriously. I’m not sure this guy is on anyone’s radar outside the black-turtleneck-and-tweed world and the disability rights world, but now you know: Princeton has on its faculty a professor who favors infanticide for disabled kids, largely based on his utilitarian approach which is based, in turn, on the sound philosophical principle that upper class white guys with tenure can judge the quality of life experienced by the rest of the world and make life and death decisions based on that judgment. I’m all for academic freedom and the First Amendment, and I don’t advocate that this guy be fired or punished for these absurd views. I’m just wondering why on earth he’s taken seriously. It’s like Princeton deciding to hire a Holocaust denier or “intelligent design” advocate — or really someone who offered a principled, philosophical defense of slavery. I would defend any of those hires in the name of academic freedom, but I really think that many more people would join me in puzzlement as to why the hell such a person has a chair at Princeton.
The Tomahawk Chop. Atlanta Braves fans spend a large part of each game making gestures designed to mimic a tomahawk and humming a tune designed to mimic what antediluvian Hollywood thought was Native American music. This is just gross racial mockery.* I have to confess (sorry, Bruce) that I feel the same way about “Redskins.” I don’t have a problem in general with Native American team names — Braves, Indians, Seminoles — because there are plenty of other groups-of-people names: Padres, Vikings, Patriots, Mariners, Royals, Twins, Pirates, Rangers, Canucks, Canadiens, Packers, Texans, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Raiders, Senators, Kings, Celtics, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, Warriors. And, um, Wizards? But “Redskins” is an epithet, not a generic group-of-people name. Sorry.**
Flying the Confederate flag. What part of treason is unclear to these folks? Seriously. I love the fact that throughout the south “United We Stand” bumper stickers are pasted side-by-side with the stars & bars. Again, I have no problem, as a First Amendment matter, with flying whatever flag you want. Just don’t asked to be taken seriously when you display the Confederate flag and question other people’s patriotism.
“Free Mumia.” Give the man a fair trial, but damn, it sure looks like he shot a cop. Let’s not free him til we’ve tried him fairly and he’s been acquitted.
This is a very very partial list. Feel free to share your contributions in the comments! (Really! I LOVE comments!)
* I always loved that Jane Fonda, during her Ted Turner period, could regularly be found in the Braves’ audience chopping away. For you conservatives who hate her for being a liberal, the joke’s on you: she’s just another shallow celebrity looking for attention — and you give it to her!
** I predict that this will engender more brotherly ire than all my liberal political rantings put together.