A question of incest

I just got a comment from someone named Sally. Rather than approve it where it was placed, I will copy and paste it here in green, along with the identifying information on it, and attempt to respond to its  points in red.

Sally
sallyfancy@hotmail.com
200.127.106.252

I have a question for you, please don’t consider that I’m attacking you.

Usually when someone opens with something like that, he is about to make a statement that really IS an attack. 

I like how you expose ignorants and bigots in this blog, but I fail to notice something important now you’re bringing up the subject of homophobia. As a bisexual woman myself in a same-sex long term relationship, I am definitely against homophobia, and as a liberal person I condemn any kind of discrimination. I’m also agnostic, so I don’t refrain from critizing religions. So far I guess we pretty much agree in our views, but I haven’t seen you (maybe you did and I’m not aware) critizing the criminalization of consensual incest between adults.

Of course, she would equate the prohibition of incest with the prohibition of homosexuality, since both were condemned in the Bible and in all Abrahamic religions. But just because the Bible condemns something doesn’t make that thing good for atheists to accept. Unless you think atheists should also accept stealing and murder.

Please note that I’m not talking about incestuous rape or incestuous abuse of minors, only consensual incest and between consenting adults. I’m sure you’re aware that consenting adults involved in consensual incestuous relationships are going to jail, punished by archaic laws because of a victimless crime like this.

I wonder if she saw my blog entries about prostitution. But even prostitution is not the same as incest, just as homosexuality is not the same as incest.

I’m not incestuous myself nor planning to ever be, but seeing how a good number of people is threatened with a long imprisonment (until 14 years in Canada, for example) only for loving a person of their family causes me too much indignation, even more noting that almost none of these self-avowed liberal activists seem to care or speak in their favour.

Loving a family member? Sorry, but in fact I do not equate “love” with having sex. If you do, I think you have some serious issues.

Please, if you really hate hypocrisy and bigotry this much, I encourage you to show support to consenting incestuous adults, they deserve to live and love in freedom.

Hypocrisy is when you profess a system of values that you fail to live up to in practice. Since I have never professed support for legalizing incest, I would not be a hypocrite. As for bigotry, that charge would make sense only if it could be proven that incest was something as fundamental to human nature as skin color. All the evidence indicates just the opposite. Unlike homosexuals, who are compelled by their nature to engage in sexual relations with members of their own gender, there is no evidence that people who practice incest are obeying some natural instinct. In most cases, there are plenty of other possible mates for the incestuous partners to avoid having sex with each other.

And I beg you not to perpetuate the offensive “deformed offspring” myth, deformed is NEVER an aceptable [sic] word to qualify a human being. 

Why not? It’s only descriptive of the person’s physical nature. It’s not a racial slur like the N-word is for black people of African descent.

Yes, disabled children may be born from incestuous couples, but most of consenting incestuous couples are NOT interested in having offspring and even if they can’t help loving a relative they’re consciously against inbreeding, besides sex is not longer only for procreation purposes (my partner and I are both women and still have sex, that’s pretty much self-explanatory), and contraceptives and sterilization exist for a good reason.

You earlier called the issue of “deformed offspring” a myth, then admitted it is not so. It seems interesting that you try to make incest more palatable by claiming that incestuous couples need not have children, but in fact there are cases of such couples who do, and often those children ARE deformed. Indeed, ONE such child resulting from such a union would be one too many!

Consensual incest between adults cause no harm to anybody, people shouldn’t be punished for loving or having sex with another consenting adult. Please, help us end the hatred and spread the tolerance, it’s very much appreciated.

Incest is harmful because it limits genetic diversity in the offspring that result from it, and thus it negates the most obvious evolutionary benefits of sexual reproduction, indeed making it pointless.  The accumulation of recessive genetic mutations results in a inbred line being weakened over time. Consider this sad case:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inbreeding#Royalty_and_nobility

  • One of the most famous example of a genetic disorder aggravated by royal family intermarriage was the House of Habsburg, which inmarried particularly often. Famous in this case is the Habsburger (Unter) Lippe (Habsburg jaw/Habsburg lip/”Austrian lip”) (mandibular prognathism), typical for many Habsburg relatives over a period of six centuries.[24] The condition progressed through the generations to the point that the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, Charles II of Spain, could not properly chew his food.[25]
  • Besides the jaw deformity, Charles II also had a huge number of other genetic physical, intellectual, sexual, and emotional problems. It is speculated that the simultaneous occurrence in Charles II of two different genetic disorders: combined pituitary hormone deficiency and distal renal tubular acidosis could explain most of the complex clinical profile of this king, including his impotence/infertility which in the last instance led to the extinction of the dynasty.

And it’s not just humans that are affected badly by inbreeding. Animals like dogs in Japan have also suffered as well!

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/28/business/28dogs.html?pagewanted=all

Rare dogs are highly prized here, and can set buyers back more than $10,000. But the real problem is what often arrives in the same litter: genetically defective sister and brother puppies born with missing paws or faces lacking eyes and a nose.

There have been dogs with brain disorders so severe that they spent all day running in circles, and others with bones so frail they dissolved in their bodies. Many carry hidden diseases that crop up years later, veterinarians and breeders say.

Kiyomi Miyauchi was heartbroken to discover this after one of two Boston terriers she bought years ago suddenly collapsed last year into spasms on the living room floor and died. In March, one of its puppies died the same way; another went blind.

Ms. Miyauchi stumbled across a widespread problem here that is only starting to get attention. Rampant inbreeding has given Japanese dogs some of the highest rates of genetic defects in the world, sometimes four times higher than in the United States and Europe. 

<snip>

Hirofumi Sasaki, a pet store owner in the western city of Hiroshima, has seen so many defective dogs that last year he converted an old bar into a hospice to care for them. So far he has taken in 32 dogs, though only 12 have survived.

One is Keika, a deaf 1-year-old female dachshund with eyes that wander aimlessly. Her breeder was originally selling her for about $7,500 because she is half-white, a rare trait in dachshunds.

“That is an unnatural color, like a person with blue skin,” Mr. Sasaki said.

The breeder told Mr. Sasaki that he had bred a dog with three generations of offspring — in human terms, first with its daughter, then a granddaughter and then a great-granddaughter — until Keika was born. The other four puppies in the litter were so hideously deformed that they were killed right after birth. 

Therefore, my decision is that I will NOT support legalizing incest. I don’t want to see any more people like Charles II or those unfortunate puppies in the future.

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The ultimate blow to global warming denialism

Denialists are not interested in truth or consistency of any kind. Instead, they have a dogma and an agenda and will take advantage of any arguments that serve these things, even if those arguments don’t really fit together. Nowhere does this become more obvious than in the issue of global warming.

John Cook, who runs the website Skeptical Science, has assembled a long list of contradictions made by global warming denialists. With this, he and other contributers totally wreck what little credibility these political and pseudoscientific hacks ever had!

http://www.skepticalscience.com/contradictions.php

 

Rebecca Watson vs Stef McGraw

The controversy over “Elevatorgate” just keeps getting more riotous. Now Rebecca Watson has gotten into a catfight with another “freethinking” blogger and student named Stef McGraw.

First, McGraw attacked Rebecca for her supposed hypocrisy:

http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/06/fursdays-wif-stef-32.html

Someone who truly abides by feminist principles would, in my view, have to react in the same manner were the situation reversed; if a woman were to engage a man in the same way, she would probably be creeping him out and making him uncomfortable and unfairly sexualizing him, right? But of course no one ever makes that claim, which is why I see Watson’s comment as so hypocritical.

If you really want social equality for women, which is what feminism is, why not apply the same standards to men and women, and stop demonizing men for being sexual beings?

Continue reading

Why peace activists (and critics of religion) sometimes fail

I just read something interesting in this article:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4749/why_liberal_religious_arguments_fail/

I participated for a time in a Los Angeles-area peace and justice group, an interfaith group filled with good and righteous people. Following the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, it was decided that we should be reaching out to area congregations to ask if we could provide them with guest speakers who would then tell the members of those congregations just how wrong and pointless the war and occupation was. There were few takers. Meanwhile, but on a separate track, this same group was establishing relationships with returning soldiers and military family members who opposed the war. I suggested that we might ask congregations whether they would care to hear from a service member or a military family member, someone who would simply tell their story, rather than hear from one of the well-briefed peaceniks. My suggestion was rejected, as this would have deprived the peaceniks of a chance to sound off about how wrong (how very wrong) George W. Bush and Don Rumsfeld had been in regard to principles of international law. I withdrew from the group shortly thereafter.

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Keith Olbermann responds to a stupid “tweet”.

christine espinosa
aller3 christine espinosa
@KeithOlbermann Tell you idiot friend O’Donnell that we will fight socialism. Nothing in life is free. Social programs have failed dumb dumb
Keith Olbermann
KeithOlbermann Keith Olbermann
@aller3 Kindly send the government the tolls you didn’t pay on all free highways. Also all of your relatives’ social security, Medicare etc
Make of that what you will.

A denialist makes seductive, but hollow, claims

Check out this comment at the Intersection blog at the Discover Magazine website:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/08/18/will-you-shut-up-just-a-second-will-you-stop-shouting-hard-lessons-in-science-communication/#comment-67676

39.   Steve Says:
August 19th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

AGW proponents argue from a faith in models, implying that we can only postulate what will happen because a real experiment cannot be run. Sadly for AGW proponents, Earth has run the massive atmospheric CO2 experiment. Proxy data shows that atmospheric CO2 has been 10 – 20 times what it is today. The result? The planet survived. It even thrived. Was it warmer than today? For certain periods, yes, it was. But, for other periods, it was colder. These facts alone should be enough to educate an open mind that CO2 is NOT strongly correlated to temperature and catastrophic global warming is impossible.

Lest one think that the proxy data cannot be trusted, we have evidence within recent history of the same result. First, however, a primer. It is well known that temperature follows a logarithmic function in the presence of rising CO2 levels. That is, temperature rises more at a lower CO2 range increase (say, from 100ppm to 150ppm) than at a higher CO2 range increase (say, from 300ppm to 350ppm) . From roughly 1940 to present, CO2 has been increasing. If AGW theory is correct (i.e. CO2 is THE major variable controlling global temperature), then there should be a strong, logarithmic correlation between temperatures and rising CO2 levels after 1940. That is, a larger temperature increase between, say, 1940 – 1950 as opposed to 1990 – 2000. What we see, though, is that global temperature actually decreased slightly between roughly 1940 – 1970 (culminating in the ice age scare) before beginning a roughly 3 decade increase (culminating in the AGW scare). In addition, over half of the global temperature increase of the 20th century occurred BEFORE 1940, when CO2 levels were fairly constant. An open mind that follows data to arrive at a conclusion would rightly conclude that CO2 is NOT a major variable in global temperature.

Frankly, I don’t care if any kind of cap-and-trade system passes. Energy use will not dissipate. And since fossil fuel holds the most energy density, it will be used. Cap-and-trade will simply increase the cost of everything. People will either: 1) demand more money for their labor in order to maintain their standard of living or 2) get poorer. In the period of economic instability, several individuals and companies will get VERY rich.

By 2100, CO2 will have increased even more. If the trend of the past 200 years continues, global temperatures will increase steadily with 20 -40 year modulations that follow the warm and cold phases of the oceans. Our understanding of bioshpere mechanics will have increased immensely and enough data will have been gathered to know that CO2 is not the boogeyman that grant-seeking “scientists” thought it was. If fossil fuel usage is not declining, it will be much more costly (even in inflation-adjusted terms). If we are smart, nuclear energy will be much more abundant. If we are even smarter, we will have found a way to reprocess the waste for re-use. Energy storage technology will have increased to the point that wind and solar energy can provide a steady stream of power around the clock. They will, however, still be a niche technologies.

Our great-grandchildren will look back on this time and wonder what the f*#k we were thinking and curse us for putting politics ahead of common sense and sound science.

First, the models Steve refers to are based on the physical and chemical laws that govern all of matter. If you wish to debunk those models, you must show either that the models are incomplete or that the laws are incorrect. He has not.

Second, Steve does not specify when the CO2 levels were 10 or 20 times higher than today. Indeed, we can be certain that the Earth’s atmosphere was full of CO2 about four billion years ago, just as Venus’ atmosphere is today. The critical difference between the two planets is that Venus is closer to the Sun, and it has no oceans like Earth does to absorb some of the CO2 and lock it away. It also does not have life, including plants to absorb even more CO2. The reason the Sun did not burn us up hundreds of millions of years ago when the CO2 levels were much higher than today was because the Sun was also much less luminous, as you would expect with a star that had less helium and more hydrogen in its core (Helium is at least four times denser than hydrogen and helium is also what hydrogen fuses into to produce its sunlight. Denser concentrations of gas in the cores of stars will indeed be hotter. Strange that Steve overlooked that). And at most geologic periods,  Earth WAS warmer than today and the sea levels were much higher. But that was not a problem because our civilization did not exist. The concern today is that our civilization is so highly adapted to the specific global climate of the late 20th Century that ANY significant deviation from that will do great damage to that civilization.

Third, Steve ignores that fossil fuels are nonrenewable and when they begin to grow scarce, the price of them will skyrocket anyway. Indeed, the best way to lower the price of fossil fuels at present is to REDUCE DEMAND FOR THEM!  Which is a compelling reason to switch to renewable sources; the only reason we haven’t yet is because the fossil fuel companies have rigged our so-called “free market” economy to support their perpetual dominance. That has to be stopped, or we will end up with fossil fuel companies only getting richer and richer at the expense (literally) of the rest of us, global warming or no global warming. That’s why we need governments to step in and use some kind of force to stop them.

Fourth, CO2 is not THE only factor in climate change. The drop in global temperatures between 1940 and 1970 could have been a temporary halt in global warming, not a sign of cooling, due to factors such as the advent of nuclear energy which largely replaced fossil fuels for a time before accidents like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl lessened public support for the use of nuclear fuels, making fossil fuels more popular once again. And since we have had reliable CO2 measurements only since the 1950s, we cannot say for certain what global CO2 levels were prior to that decade. So his claim that “over half of the global temperature increase of the 20th century occurred BEFORE 1940, when CO2 levels were fairly constant,” is unfounded.

Steve is not open-minded at all. He is an idiot who beleives the denialist claims without testing them, as I have.