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Bloggingheads
01-18-2008, 02:30 PM

David
01-18-2008, 02:40 PM
Please forgive the occasional audio gaps in this diavlog. We did our best to fix them, but the final cut is still missing about two minutes.

--David of BhTV

ohcomeon
01-18-2008, 03:43 PM
well....that was certainly different.

Wonderment
01-18-2008, 04:00 PM
Greatest understatement: "I have to tip my hat to my wife, Kathy. I couldnt' have done it without her."

Greatest overstatement (and cliché): "Every person is a miracle."

Most medieval moment: Rick claims abstaining from premarital sex is a way to honor women.

2nd most medieval moment: "Not everything has to be tested; things that aren't of God can appear as an angel of light. "

Most self-deluding assumption: The 7 kids over 18 are all virgins.

Worst choice of words (Jacqueline): "There are interesting cleavages in that community."

Best question by Jackie and biggest contradiction in philosophy of Rick: She asks him why he rejects "man of faith" Obama and embraces pro-choice Guiliani. While Rick claims that anti-abortionism is his absolute human rights non-negotiable issue, he rules out Obama for being pro-choice, yet admires Guilliani.

ohcomeon
01-18-2008, 04:28 PM
I would like to take a poll among the male commentors here. How many of you believe that all his sons over 18 are virgins? Also, is it likely that of 13 boys and 1 girl, none is gay?

ohcomeon
01-18-2008, 04:30 PM
I also noticed that being pro life is only an absolute rule for democrats.

Wonderment
01-18-2008, 04:44 PM
How many of you believe that all his sons over 18 are virgins?

Or otherwise spilled their seed?



Also, is it likely that of 13 boys and 1 girl, none is gay?

1.4 gay/lesbian :)

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 04:56 PM
The one positive thing that can be said about Rick Arndt is that Rod Dreher no longer has to hold the top slot on the BH.tv List of Creeps.

I find the notion of procreating fourteen children repulsive and irresponsible. We have too many people on the planet for that kind of behavior. If you're the sort that finds the idea of abortion so repellent, then you should be first in line for adopting unwanted children, not siring excessive flocks of your own.

Every religious nut I've ever met with Arndt's attitude has the underlying agenda to outbreed the Others. This attitude makes me sick. Arndt's creation of a cult by insulating his kids from the outside world is nothing short of child abuse. None of them have moved out yet? I'm sorry, that's just whacked. Finally, Arndt's obvious experience in soft-pedaling his message and speaking in code only aggravates the nausea.

I don't know why BH.tv feels compelled to give air time to the proselytizer of such an abhorrent message. There's a lot to be said for diverse viewpoints -- and I'll sit through most of them -- but there is also somethng to be said for not wasting time on wingnuts. Until we also start hearing from members of the Flat Earth Society, PETA, and Nancy Reagan's astrologers, I would like BH.tv to ignore the equally lunatic ravings of Arndt and his ilk.

I'm not going to listen to this. I can only say that I hope Jackie Shire gets in his face a lot more than she did in the first twelve minutes.

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 04:59 PM
I would like to take a poll among the male commentors here. How many of you believe that all his sons over 18 are virgins? Also, is it likely that of 13 boys and 1 girl, none is gay?

ohc:

I'm with Wonderment on the statistical guess for the second question. As to the first, my immediate reaction was to laugh at Arndt's claim. However, five minutes of listening to him made me think there's a possibility that he has been so successful in brainwashing his offspring that he's made them impotent.

Wonderment
01-18-2008, 05:12 PM
I don't know why BH.tv feels compelled to give air time to the proselytizer of such an abhorrent message. There's a lot to be said for diverse viewpoints -- and I'll sit through most of them -- but there is also somethng to be said for not wasting time on wingnuts. Until we also start hearing from members of the Flat Earth Society, PETA, and Nancy Reagan's astrologers, I would like BH.tv to ignore the equally lunatic ravings of Arndt and his ilk.


I have to admit I like this guy a lot more than I like Lake, Frum, Goldberg and Mickey. At least Rick the Patriarch didn't make a religion out of waging a war of aggression on Iraq or hating Mexicans.

zookarama
01-18-2008, 05:12 PM
Science Saturday / Freaky Friday

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 05:39 PM
Science Saturday / Freaky Friday

Nice!

.....

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 05:48 PM
I have to admit I like this guy a lot more than I like Lake, Frum, Goldberg and Mickey. At least Rick the Patriarch didn't make a religion out of waging a war of aggression on Iraq or hating Mexicans.

I can understand your point, Wonder, but from where I sit, I look at the other wingnuts you listed as people I feel like I can at least intellectually respect (excluding Jonah, of course, and okay, maybe not so much Mickey, either, lately). Guys like Arndt are completely devoid of rational thinking or real morality, their agenda and techniques of promoting it are much more insidious, and hence, I find him far more repulsive.

creativepig
01-18-2008, 06:03 PM
I can only say that I hope Jackie Shire gets in his face a lot more than she did in the first twelve minutes.

Without being openly hostile (or having to work very hard) she is able to tease out some nauseating comparisons of homosexuality to alcoholism and pedophilia as "objectively wrong." This diavlog tops cop-in-every-mosque for sheer loathsomeness.

thprop
01-18-2008, 06:21 PM
Greatest understatement: "I have to tip my hat to my wife, Kathy. I couldnt' have done it without her."

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar (http://www.duggarfamily.com/) were in the news last August when Michelle popped out #17. I assume she is pregnant again by now - it has been over 5 months since she gave birth. Here (http://cache.bordom.net/images/d2d196f2141095e734dbb747931d677f.jpg) is a picture of the family - along with a message that Michelle should listen to.

Jackie
01-18-2008, 06:31 PM
I want to add just a thought to this discussion. As much as I may disagree with Arndt’s views on the need for chastity before marriage, I have to acknowledge that he is far from alone in expecting it of his children, even among secular progressives. One issue I should have done a better job of discussing is how much common ground I observe in the parenting styles of my liberal, academic friends with Christian homeschoolers—children in both families are incredibly protected and shielded from sex and violence in popular culture for example, and maybe to an unhealthy degree in both cases.

1swellfoop
01-18-2008, 06:34 PM
Although I probably disagree with Arndt's positions on most of these issues pretty strongly, I don't think labeling his views irrational and immoral off the bat is really fair... Nor does labeling his family a cult really speak to the complexities that come with a large family. (Despite what he may say, I am sure that there is more difference within that group than one might think)

I say this because I've spent a good chunk of my life surrounded by people who have made similar choices to Arndt and I've found them to be... Often very decent in a way that I think gets lost in the political rhetoric surrounding these issues. I'd even go so far to say that some of the best people I know have decided to have large, overtly christian families.

Now that isn't to play down the issues of ideological conformity that come up here... Obviously, there are problems implied in that that Arndt really isn't dealing with and that should give everyone pause. And there is the population issue, which is, duh, huge. And his political beliefs are... bizarre at best, potentially disasterous at worst. And the fact that he seems to be using his family in such a public and overtly political way is disturbing.

But describing what he represents as being purely insidious is not just inaccurate, but itself misleading, since it obscures the very real issues that his way of life addresses, namely, fear about anonymity, the complexity of modern life, the loss of meaningful family relations etc., as well as the fact that strong families are now and have historically been an effective tool for dealing with those issues.

So if you're going to attack his politics, by all means, attack away. But if you want to attack his way of life and the decisions they've made on that... I think you loose the opportunity to appreciate what makes this so fascinating in the first place.


(All that said, I didn't feel like this was a terribly effective diavlog. It felt uncomfortably canned too often to be really enlightening...)

Wonderment
01-18-2008, 06:47 PM
Jackie,

You did an outstanding job, and I should have mentioned that earlier.

I totally got your purpose in doing the interview, which you stated up front. It was about parenting and values and only tangentially about religion and politics. Kudos.

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 06:48 PM
Outstanding!

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 07:19 PM
Jackie:

Thanks for jumping into the peanut gallery. Sorry I couldn't stand Arndt, since it meant having to switch you off, too. I look forward to your speedy return, whether you want to discuss arms control or any other topic, but please, no more high fructose televangelists like Arndt.

As much as I may disagree with Arndt’s views on the need for chastity before marriage, I have to acknowledge that he is far from alone in expecting it of his children, even among secular progressives. One issue I should have done a better job of discussing is how much common ground I observe in the parenting styles of my liberal, academic friends with Christian homeschoolers ...

I'm not really disagreeing with you here, but I want to make clear the distinction between Christianist homeschoolers and liberal/secular-progressive/academic parents. The former class is nearly universal in their denial of the realities of human sexuality, especially as it pertains to its development in teenagers. I grant that some of the latter camp aren't much better, especially when it comes to over-protectiveness, but there are also a lot in that second camp who recognize reality, and try to bring their kids up accordingly. It is the latter group who will be much more likely to speak to their kids about birth control and how to avoid STDs by using condoms. It is the latter group who is much more likely not to compel a daughter to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term, let alone not banish her from the house. It is the latter group who is much more likely to deal with a gay child in a loving way.

It's a mistake even to suggest that there is some kind of equivalence between guys like Arndt and enlightened people, even if the distinction between the two groups isn't 100% binary.

nojp
01-18-2008, 08:01 PM
no no no no no no no marriage yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

Wonderment
01-18-2008, 08:45 PM
It's a mistake even to suggest that there is some kind of equivalence between guys like Arndt and enlightened people, even if the distinction between the two groups isn't 100% binary.

I agree with you, Brendan, about the advantages to being an open-minded liberal vs. a fundamentalist.

But I think this kind of dialogue about parenting touches on some other interesting convergences. As my kids grew up in the 90s, much to my surprise, I found myself in agreement more often than not with the homeschooling Christian families.

Like us, they eschewed TV, consumerism, violent movies, computer-game addiction, and dressing 9-year-olds like sluts and gangbangers. Like us, they supported music and arts education. Like us, they believed in community service and charity. Like us, they loved nature and the environment (even if they thought God created it 5000 years ago). When our kids played at their houses, we didn't have to worry about the mom planting them in front of the TV for 4 hours to watch MTV, nor did we have to worry about them learning racist jokes, getting into the dad's porno collection or his stash of weed (all of which happened in secular households).

They also had plenty of good reasons for not sending their kids to public schools. My kids did go to public schools where gangs, drugs, alcohol, weapons, exploitative sex, bullying and mindless consumerism were rampant. You may argue that it's the "real world" and a 13-year-old should learn to cope. Maybe so. I'm just saying that the homeschooler can make a pretty good case against public school, even without using the words Sodom and Gemorah.

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 09:33 PM
Wonderment:

Speaking in part from personal experience, shielding a child never works. Delaying confrontation with the truth and the base lures of modern society just makes the real world that much more devastating (and tempting).

Unless, of course, you plan to keep your kids locked in the compound for life.

I understand where you're coming from -- it's instinctive to want to protect your kids -- but the better way to raise a child is to let him or her ease into life while you're there to serve as a guide. Throwing an 18-year-old in at the deep end without any experience in the wading pool threatens a lot of needless splashing about.

bjkeefe
01-18-2008, 09:36 PM
1swell:

I'll go along with your claim that not every Christianist family is as horrible as Arndt's, but not much further. Sorry, I just don't agree with your impressions of such people. Sure, they seem nice when things are going along fine, but let one little wrinkle enter their lives, and it's a mass movement towards jailing or bombing everyone who's different.

Baltimoron
01-18-2008, 10:37 PM
Yes, there were several times I could think only of double entendres.

But then, I'm just an average product of public schools and a secular, nuclear family.

Baltimoron
01-18-2008, 10:42 PM
Generally, I agree with you.

However, there is the salient fact neither 'head has brought up, that the US is the one developed country that also has a positive birthrate. This means that reform will need to come for programs at both ends of life, birth and education, and retirement.

Baltimoron
01-18-2008, 10:48 PM
And, no links! That omission says volumes about the rigor of this discussion.

The topic could have been interesting, but Rick Arndt was not the guy to sell it on bhTV. Not only does he ramble, but Shire just let him talk endlessly about personal details (and talking over and through her). She also got trapped in this culture-talk about Harry Potter, instead of hard economics, or even the politics of home schooling. It's good to have people unharmed by pundit syndrome, but the interlocutor has to has to guide and to organize, and to relate to some spectrum of arguments.

Baltimoron
01-18-2008, 10:54 PM
I'm willing to accept your argument, but neither 'head connected the dots. Andt is good raw material for many subjects: home schooling, abortion, chasteness, and even the greening of the conservative movement. But, Shire was HORRIBLE! This diavlog was like the pre-interview, but then she should have gone back and started organizing her topics and disciplined Arndt into less verbose, personal anecdotes.

Baltimoron
01-18-2008, 10:58 PM
All of us are selfish!??

Leaving aside the question of whether selfishness is economically beneficial, or that I believe a smaller human race is a happier race, Shire just lets Arndt get away with these generalizations disguised as anecdotes.

Shire just makes the Left's quest for a religious identity to woo values voters bankrupt.

Baltimoron
01-18-2008, 11:06 PM
'Gee, Dad, I just want to sit in our house all my life and loaf off my younger siblings! Like you and Mom! Maybe we can hire some people, as long as they don't live here! They can even be non-home-schoolers and unchaste!'

I know this guy: he's Korean. He's building the biblical equivalent of Samsung. One day, one of his sons will buy a judgeship, a senator's seat, perhaps the presidency!

1swellfoop
01-18-2008, 11:24 PM
I'm curious if you have an example in mind here.

1swellfoop
01-18-2008, 11:36 PM
I feel that was really more an issue of format than poor performance on either side... Diavlogs can be great for conversations and debates (see Wright and Kaus), and also do well for straight interviews (The Deported), but when you have these wierd in-betweeners they don't always catch fire... Particularly when one person wants to proseletize, as Arndt so obviously does.

brucds
01-19-2008, 12:35 AM
I can't express how much I don't give a shit what this character thinks.

Taking a pass after the first few minutes...

Baltimoron
01-19-2008, 01:59 AM
I feel that was really more an issue of format than poor performance on either side...

After listening to more of this, it's both poor performance and format. I didn't think highly of Shire even in her "major", arms control. This seemed like indulgence.

TwinSwords
01-19-2008, 05:34 AM
I think one of the problems was that the answers from Arndt rarely had anything to do with the questions asked by Shire. He has so many pre-packaged answers designed to spin the listener away from whatever the question was intended to explore, I got dizzy listening.

bjkeefe
01-19-2008, 09:36 AM
I'm curious if you have an example in mind here.

No, not really. Just a vague impression of the Bush-lovin' fundies.

I apologize for the over-generalization. At the time of posting that last comment, I was still seething from my 12 minutes of listening to Arndt.

Bloggin' Noggin
01-19-2008, 11:17 AM
The one positive thing that can be said about Rick Arndt is that Rod Dreher no longer has to hold the top slot on the BH.tv List of Creeps.

I find the notion of procreating fourteen children repulsive and irresponsible. We have too many people on the planet for that kind of behavior. If you're the sort that finds the idea of abortion so repellent, then you should be first in line for adopting unwanted children, not siring excessive flocks of your own.

Every religious nut I've ever met with Arndt's attitude has the underlying agenda to outbreed the Others. This attitude makes me sick. Arndt's creation of a cult by insulating his kids from the outside world is nothing short of child abuse. None of them have moved out yet? I'm sorry, that's just whacked. Finally, Arndt's obvious experience in soft-pedaling his message and speaking in code only aggravates the nausea.

I don't know why BH.tv feels compelled to give air time to the proselytizer of such an abhorrent message. There's a lot to be said for diverse viewpoints -- and I'll sit through most of them -- but there is also somethng to be said for not wasting time on wingnuts. Until we also start hearing from members of the Flat Earth Society, PETA, and Nancy Reagan's astrologers, I would like BH.tv to ignore the equally lunatic ravings of Arndt and his ilk.

I'm not going to listen to this. I can only say that I hope Jackie Shire gets in his face a lot more than she did in the first twelve minutes.

I don't really get the anger here. It is possible that Arndt somehow coerced his wife into having so many children, but it certainly seems quite possible that she wanted this too. He specifically denies that he has "insulated his kids from the world", and he tries to offer some backing for that denial. Perhaps he's not telling us the truth, but how, Brendan, do you know otherwise?
So far as we really know, then, Arndt has done what most people want to do -- had children and tried to inculcate his values in them. What parent doesn't believe in bringing up his/her children to share what he/she regards as the right values?
You and I disagree with some of Arndt's values, but the mere fact that we think his values are wrong doesn't show that he must have been unduly coercive or deceptive in the methods he used to inculcate them in his children.
So far as we really have any reason to believe, then, Arndt has not mistreated anybody personally. At most you can say that not everyone can have so many children. But most people in the 1st world are not having anywhere near so many children, so that's not really a problem. He says he's concerned about the environment -- it seems quite possible that he and his family make more of an effort than most people to reduce their carbon footprint. Anwyay, your argument that Arndt ought to adopt orphans rather than have his own children is a form of argument that would condemn most of us. Wh should I buy this new iPhone rather than sending the money to Bangladesh? I suspect your reasoning would condemn you along with Arndt, but maybe you are a saint -- I know it would condemn me, even though I've had no children at all.
Certainly the actual harm done to the environment by Arndt having 12 children instead of 2 is minuscule. It would be bad if everyone did this, but more needs to be said. Not everyone can become a university professor or we'd have nothing to eat, but that's not by itself an argument that no one should become a university professor. In any case, I'd be much more willing to judge Arndt as harshly as you do on the basis of a less abstract harm than this -- an actual harm to some individual or group of individuals. You suspect him of such harms (undue coercion or deception with respect to his children -- maybe coercion of his wife into having all these children), but I don't think you have any evidence of this.

Maybe "the personal is political", but I think we should strongly resist the assumption that the political is, and always should be, personal. If democratic discussion is to be possible, we need to resist taking our differences with others so personally.

jstrummer
01-19-2008, 12:03 PM
Wow, this guy's nuts. In another context, he'd be considered insane. In America, he can say nonsense like virginity is a "way to honor women" and "the sacrifice of Jesus washes you whiter than snow" and be considered part of a coveted voter bloc.

Wonderment
01-19-2008, 03:20 PM
You and I disagree with some of Arndt's values, but the mere fact that we think his values are wrong doesn't show that he must have been unduly coercive or deceptive in the methods he used to inculcate them in his children.

Values? Or beliefs?

bjkeefe
01-20-2008, 12:04 PM
BN:

I'm not surprised that you didn't agree with my attack on Arndt, but I am glad to hear from you.

Sorry, though, I am not going to budge from anything I said my original comment. Procreating fourteen children is irresponsible, and proselytizing about that being an admirable thing is abhorrent. There is an enormous difference in what he's doing and my not sending every last nickel to some poor bastard in a third-world country. I have no iPhone, and no wish to own one, but I think other people buying them has some positive benefit for others. Arndt's lifestyle, on the other hand, is all bad.

Having all your kids still living at home well into adulthood is also just plain wrong. I'll grant I don't have proof positive of Arndt's machinations, but the suggestion of inculcation, if not downright brainwashing, is inescapable. This is a perfect example of what Richard Dawkins means when he talks about religious upbringing being a form of child abuse.

In general, I buy some of your idea that not every personal choice needs to be treated as political, but in this case, I have no problem with saying what I said. Arndt is holding himself up as a representative and a symbol of a way of life that he wants others to adopt. He is the one that is making a set of personal choices into a political statement. I think his way of life is disgusting, and his advocacy of it makes him fair game for any amount of vicious response.

rcocean
01-20-2008, 01:58 PM
Excellent diavlog and an interesting one. But next time Rick needs to give direct answers to direct questions.

HankMorgan
01-20-2008, 04:23 PM
The irony in the comments so far is part of a common pattern. Liberals tend to paint themselves as the tolerant ones, while painting people like Arndt as "insane," "irrational," and "abhorrent." Arndt clearly has strong views, but he appears to express these views in a tolerant, upbeat way, while demonstrating respect for those who might disagree.

Judging from many of the comments posted here, perhaps it's not conservatives who display judgmentalism, but those on the other side of the aisle.

Bloggin' Noggin
01-20-2008, 04:42 PM
It's disgusting to have more than 2.5 children? Extended families living close together (some of the older sons had separate apartments) is disgusting?
It seems to me that you are being highly ethnocentric here -- these living arrangements etc. are not "normal" in the US at this time, but they are in other places (even Kennebunkport and Hyannisport) and have been at other times. Children often live with their parents longer now than they used to -- it's certainly becoming more normal even here and now.
Arndt did take some care to treat the number of children as a personal decision. Insofar as that's all it is, and insofar as his wife and his children are not being coerced in any way, it seems rather illiberal to me to say we know how he and his children should run their lives better than they do.
Insofar as this is one of Mill's "experiments of living," and insofar as the participants in the experiment find that the results suit them, I find it hard as a good liberal to say they shouldn't live this way. I certainly don't find having chidren "disgusting". Are you horrified by couples who use fertility treatments and end up with sextuplets?
Insofar as he's recommending that others do the same, and especially insofar as he would restrict the availability of birth control, I'd certainly have some disagreements with him.
But I don't see how a good liberal can object to his personal choice of life without knowing that he is actually coercing or harming someone.

TwinSwords
01-20-2008, 05:20 PM
The irony in the comments so far is part of a common pattern. Liberals tend to paint themselves as the tolerant ones, while painting people like Arndt as "insane," "irrational," and "abhorrent." Arndt clearly has strong views, but he appears to express these views in a tolerant, upbeat way, while demonstrating respect for those who might disagree.

Judging from many of the comments posted here, perhaps it's not conservatives who display judgmentalism, but those on the other side of the aisle.
This is a tired, trite conservative bumper sticker, used any time anyone disagrees with them.

Being tolerant of something doesn't mean agreeing with it. No one is challenging Arndt's right to live his life or raise his kids as he wishes. But we don't feel obligated to approve of it, either. This is in stark contrast to conservatives, who use the law to impose their own narrow views on everyone.

It's a lot more straightforward than you think: Advocating toleration means condemning intolerance — by definition. If you're an agent of intolerance, liberals will criticize you. Liberals are under no obligation to be tolerant of the intolerant, except insofar as every last one of us would defend to the death his right to express his intolerant views, and raise his children to do the same.

HankMorgan
01-20-2008, 05:54 PM
This is a tired, trite conservative bumper sticker, used any time anyone disagrees with them.

Being tolerant of something doesn't mean agreeing with it. No one is challenging Arndt's right to live his life or raise his kids as he wishes. But we don't feel obligated to approve of it, either. This is in stark contrast to conservatives, who use the law to impose their own narrow views on everyone.

It's a lot more straightforward than you think: Advocating toleration means condemning intolerance — by definition. If you're an agent of intolerance, liberals will criticize you. Liberals are under no obligation to be tolerant of the intolerant, except insofar as every last one of us would defend to the death his right to express his intolerant views, and raise his children to do the same.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't disagree and criticize Arndt. I disagree with many of the political views he expresses as well. But that disagreement should be couched in the same form of respectful dialogue that he himself uses. There's no need to label him as "insane" or "irrational" or a "nut." Those are epithets, not arguments.

bjkeefe
01-20-2008, 08:02 PM
BN:

There is a big difference between 14 and the number you plucked from thin air (2.5). That's a borderline straw man argument, and beneath you.

There is also a big difference between "extended families living close together" and the insular compound of the Arndt cult. Your pointing out that some of the robochildren live "separate apartments" doesn't impress me any more than it did when Arndt said it. This isn't new families being near Grandpa, it is captives imprisoned by mental chains.

As for your resorting to your tactic of accusing me of "illiberalism" and not being a "good liberal" every time I call a wingnut a wingnut, you should know by now that that technique doesn't impress me. I don't form my opinions based on group dogma, especially when someone else attempts to define that dogma for me. The spirit of tolerance is not a blank check for offensive behavior.

bjkeefe
01-20-2008, 08:11 PM
Hank:

Twin said most of what I would say. I'll add one thing.

Those are epithets, not arguments.

When conservatives refrain from calling every Muslim an "Islamofascist," every Latino an "illegal," and every opponent of the Iraq invasion a "traitor," you might have some moral standing for this statement. Until then, Twin is right: it is an empty talking point to say that liberals are intolerant, and it's completely fatuous to think that conservatives are less intolerant than liberals.

As I pointed out to BN above, the spirit of tolerance for different lifestyles does not mean condoning all forms of behavior without exception.

HankMorgan
01-21-2008, 11:11 AM
Hank:

Twin said most of what I would say. I'll add one thing.



When conservatives refrain from calling every Muslim an "Islamofascist," every Latino an "illegal," and every opponent of the Iraq invasion a "traitor," you might have some moral standing for this statement. Until then, Twin is right: it is an empty talking point to say that liberals are intolerant, and it's completely fatuous to think that conservatives are less intolerant than liberals.

As I pointed out to BN above, the spirit of tolerance for different lifestyles does not mean condoning all forms of behavior without exception.

I don't think there are many conservatives calling EVERY Latino "illegal." Once again, you are the one painting an entire group of people -- conservatives -- with a broad brush. Even if there are some conservatives who engage in this sort of name-calling, Mr. Arndt seems to be a refreshing exception to that sort of politics. Thus, it is intolerant to engage in name-calling against him simply because he is a conservative.

If we want to move forward in this country, we need to be able to engage in political discussions without personal attacks. The lack of respect shown for someone with a different perspective on this discussion thread is, therefore, fairly depressing.

bjkeefe
01-21-2008, 11:53 AM
Hank:

I don't think there are many conservatives calling EVERY Latino "illegal."

True. And I don't really believe that. I merely offered that to show what it feels like when you make equally sweeping statements about liberals.

... it is intolerant to engage in name-calling against him [Arndt] simply because he is a conservative.

I didn't call him names because he's a conservative. I called him names because I found him utterly repugnant.

If we want to move forward in this country, we need to be able to engage in political discussions without personal attacks. The lack of respect shown for someone with a different perspective on this discussion thread is, therefore, fairly depressing.

Tell it to Fox News, AM radio, the Republican leadership, and the televangelists.

And tell me, would your politeness for a different perspective extend to someone who joined this thread and put forth the proposition that raped women should be subject to "honor killings?" Or that all non-Caucasians should be deported? Granted, Arndt isn't quite that bad, but I offer these extreme examples to illustrate that a line does exist. We all draw that line in different places and for different reasons. I found Arndt to be on the other side of my line. I find his behavior unacceptable and his proselytizing of it worthy of personal attack.

Sorry to depress you.

January
01-21-2008, 03:15 PM
Yes, direct answers would have been nice. I appreciate Ms. Shire's efforts in this. I'm sure she was hoping for more than Mr. Arndt's wall of repetition. Arndt has clearly reeled off the same answers before, over and over, and probably can't be shocked into taking any respectful question seriously. He gave only one explanation for the docility of his offspring and it was weak (that his household offers a better deal than pop culture). No corporal punishment? No sending them to bed without their supper? Surely his children tested the limits at times, so what did he and his wife do? Arndt never really opened up to Jackie, because for him, I daresay, the exercise was one of advertising, not disclosure and certainly not an exchange of ideas.

HankMorgan
01-21-2008, 05:10 PM
Hank:

I didn't call him names because he's a conservative. I called him names because I found him utterly repugnant.

Tell it to Fox News, AM radio, the Republican leadership, and the televangelists.



Great. Let's show how bad the televangelists are by labeling certain lifestyles to be "repugnant." Solid rhetorical move there.

bjkeefe
01-22-2008, 02:28 AM
Hank:

Your criticism of my use of "repugnant" might have had a whole lot more substance had you addressed the final paragraph of my previous comment.

HankMorgan
01-22-2008, 09:12 AM
Hank:

Your criticism of my use of "repugnant" might have had a whole lot more substance had you addressed the final paragraph of my previous comment.

Your final paragraph was a red herring, and I assumed anyone could realize that. You gave examples of people advocating certain POLICY choices -- the killing of rape victims or the deportation of non-whites.

If someone advocated those policy positions, I would be the first to label their views as going beyond the pale. But even in that case, I would steer clear of labeling someone's LIFESTYLE repugnant or insane. There's a difference between disagreement over public policy and personal attacks.

bjkeefe
01-22-2008, 10:14 AM
Hank:

If someone advocated those policy positions, I would be the first to label their views as going beyond the pale. But even in that case, I would steer clear of labeling someone's LIFESTYLE repugnant or insane. There's a difference between disagreement over public policy and personal attacks.

So, are you saying you would NOT condemn someone who murdered his sister after she was raped?

I'll also point out that having fourteen kids is not just a private matter. Overpopulation is everybody's problem, and everybody's responsibility.

Finally, Arndt isn't just living a private life. He is a public figure actively promoting such a lifestyle.

Bloggin' Noggin
01-22-2008, 04:50 PM
There is a big difference between 14 and the number you plucked from thin air (2.5). That's a borderline straw man argument, and beneath you.

My point was that, 14 children is not currently "normal" in the non-evaluative sense, but we should be very careful about jumping from "not usual" to "abnormal" and even "repulsive". How large must a family be before it ceases to be a charming group of people who love each other and becomes "repulsive"? Bob suggests my standing up for Arndt is surprising, but it isn't surprising that I would be sensitive to this kind of slide from "unusual" or "not what we would like" family arrangements to abnormal and "repulsive" ones. I disagree that I was being unfair.

It seems to me that you have to be assuming things about Arndt's actions and motivations that you are simply not in a position to know -- or at least far more than I know. If you have information from Arndt's website where he makes it clear that he forced his wife to bear all those children and that he waterboarded those virginity pledges out of his children, then I'll join you in your vituperation against him. Until then, "innocent until proven guilty" seems to me more liberal than the opposite policy.

There is also a big difference between "extended families living close together" and the insular compound of the Arndt cult.

What is your evidence that this is a cult? He claims to have shown his children a lot of the world and to have tried to sell his values to his children by making them appealing rather than by rigid proscription of all outside influences. Perhaps you know better, but I'd like to know how you know.


Your pointing out that some of the robochildren live "separate apartments" doesn't impress me any more than it did when Arndt said it.

Again, what is your evidence that they are "robochildren"? Children often end up believing what their parents believe, especially when they love and admire their parents. Are most children robo-children? Is all parental teaching "indoctrination"? If you brought up your children to be liberals, would you be indoctrinating "robochildren" -- or just trying to teach them the truth as best you can see it? Are all attempts to protect one's children from influences one thinks of as "bad" really bad? Think of a liberal parent trying to raise his children in a racist society.

This isn't new families being near Grandpa, it is captives imprisoned by mental chains.

Your powers of long-distance psychoanalysis seem to rival Bill Frist's long-distance medical powers in the case of Terri Schiavo.
Or do you know the Arndt children personally?
As far as I can see, what you know is that his children seem to agree with their parents and to want to continue in close association with them -- whether because they like being with their parents or for some other reason. You seem to think that, because our current social and economic arrangements involve children leaving their parents upon adulthood, that this is "the natural way" for all human beings. As I pointed out, this doesn't take account of the way other people have lived in the past and live now in other parts of the world. At least, given the evidence you have mentioned so far, I conclude that you are reasoning in this way from what is usual in our society to what is "normal" -- i.e., "natural."

As for your resorting to your tactic of accusing me of "illiberalism" and not being a "good liberal" every time I call a wingnut a wingnut, you should know by now that that technique doesn't impress me.

It is not a "tactic" -- and you didn't just call him a "wingnut" -- you said his family arrangements were "repulsive". When you said that was it a "tactic"? I assume you were actually saying what you thought. I too was saying what I thought when I said your vituperations struck me as illiberal.
If you can say his family arrangements are "repulsive", I don't see why it's out of bounds to say that such attacks are "illiberal" -- seems rhetorically a good deal milder than what you were saying about Arndt. Whether you were "impressed" or not, I think you were certainly fair game.

I don't form my opinions based on group dogma, especially when someone else attempts to define that dogma for me.

I'm not trying to define your views for you. I was appealing to the standard Millian view of liberalism according to which society (NOT just the state) should be very cautious about second-guessing the individual's life-choices, where those choices are not DIRECTLY harmful to others for fear of diminishing individual freedom. You apparently assume that Arndt is directly harming his children by manipulating them, but as far as I can see, that is just your assumption.
If you don't like Mill's version of liberalism, what's your conception of it, and is it really consistent with your excoriation of Arndt and his family?

The spirit of tolerance is not a blank check for offensive behavior.

I'm still at a loss as to how you can regard the Arndts' personal decisions about family size as "offensive behavior" -- offensive to you?

Wonderment
01-22-2008, 05:53 PM
My 2 cents:

Although woman's rights and religious beliefs influence how people decide the big ethical question, this is primarily a debate about responsibility regarding overpopulation. It seems fair and productive to ask Rick the population question, which he could answer (or not) to the satisfaction of Brendan and the rest of us.

How many children should a couple have?

The classic answer is the ZPG replacement number: 2.

Some people would say even 1 is too many (adopt instead).

Some people would say, "As many as you can afford, provide for".

Some people would say, "It doesn't matter how many YOU can afford. You have to think in terms of what the planet can afford, and the consumption of finite resources per capita."

Some people would let Big Brother sanction those who overpopulate (China being the most draconian of the states that sanction or offer small family incentives).

Some people would use "common sense" to decide: "Well, 4 seems okay, but 14 is ridiculous. "

Some people would say, "Mind your own friggin' business."

TwinSwords
01-22-2008, 06:39 PM
My 2 cents:

Although woman's rights and religious beliefs influence how people decide the big ethical question, this is primarily a debate about responsibility regarding overpopulation. It seems fair and productive to ask Rick the population question, which he could answer (or not) to the satisfaction of Brendan and the rest of us.

How many children should a couple have?

The classic answer is the ZPG replacement number: 2.

Some people would say even 1 is too many (adopt instead).

Some people would say, "As many as you can afford, provide for".

Some people would say, "It doesn't matter how many YOU can afford. You have to think in terms of what the planet can afford, and the consumption of finite resources per capita."

Some people would let Big Brother sanction those who overpopulate (China being the most draconian of the states that sanction or offer small family incentives).

Some people would use "common sense" to decide: "Well, 4 seems okay, but 14 is ridiculous. "

Some people would say, "Mind your own friggin' business."
There are at least two other types. One is the Mark Steyn type, fearing the West will be overrun by Muslims in the next generation or two. They say stuff like this:

In a very short time, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries we regard as part of the western tradition will cease to exist in any meaningful sense. They don’t have a future because they’ve given up breeding. Spain’s population is halving with every generation: Two grown-ups have a total of one baby. So there are half as many children as parents. And a quarter as many grandchildren as grandparents. And an eighth as many great-grandchildren as great-grandparents. And, after that there’s no point extrapolating, because you’re over the falls and it’s too late to start paddling back.
...
So large parts of the western world are literally dying – and, in Europe, the successor population to those aging French and Dutch and Belgians is already in place. Perhaps the differences will be minimal. In France, the Catholic churches will become mosques; in England, the village pubs will cease serving alcohol; in the Netherlands, the gay nightclubs will close up shop and relocate to San Francisco. But otherwise life will go on much as before. The new Europeans will be observant Muslims instead of post-Christian secularists ...



The other, much more common type was referred to by Brendan in his original post:

Every religious nut I've ever met with Arndt's attitude has the underlying agenda to outbreed the Others.
This may sound like a gratuitous insult, but it really is true. This kind of religious extremist really does believe in some kind of Biblical injunction to grow "our" tribe so that we can defend ourselves against the evil tribe living over the hill. In Biblical times, the evil tribe we needed to out breed was, literally, over the next hill. And we really did, back then, need to breed rapidly to protect our access to water, food, shelter. Today, the Christian fundamentalists have transferred this to an obsession with out breeding Muslims.

I work with a Pentecostal extremist who is just like Arndt, and he is constantly encouraging everyone at work to have kids. On more than one occasion, people have said that their 2 or 3 kids are enough, only to be lectured by my co-worker.

Of course, out breeding Muslims is only one motive: the other is to out breed the secular liberal Marxists here at home -- you know, the ones who grow up to be Hollywood liberals, activist judges, and abortion doctors. If you read what wingnuts say -- even on this forum -- the explicitly declare their expectation that the Godly Red Staters will out breed and eventually overwhelm the nihilistic Blue State heathens.

bjkeefe
01-23-2008, 06:37 AM
BN:

Most of your criticism is well-put, and intellectually, I buy some of it.

Of course I can't prove some of my suspicions. I can only say that I've met enough people who have the same attitude that Arndt conveyed to feel confident in my predictions about life under his roof. You feel a squishing sensation under your shoe and smell something terrible often enough, you don't need a coprologist to know you stepped in dog shit.

The larger part of my distaste, though, is Arndt's preaching. We as a planet are harmed by irresponsible reproduction. We as a society are harmed by people raising their kids with excessive religious indoctrination, not least of which is twisted attitudes about sex. I wouldn't support a law against Arndt's behavior, but if he's going to be pushing his point of view in public, then I'm going to push right back.

Maybe this is prejudice. If so, I'll accept the label. I am prejudiced against all sorts of people whose behavior goes beyond the pale, and yes, where beyond lies is entirely defined by my own set of principles. I wonder, though, if you would be so quick to criticize me for being illiberal if I were to attack a supply-side proponent for bragging about his personal greed, conspicuous consumption, and raising his children to believe that they should never have anything to do with poor people.

garbagecowboy
01-24-2008, 05:52 PM
...but there's a lot of anger here.

As far as I can tell, this guy Arndt hasn't hurt anybody. I won't offer a defense of the man, save to say that I strongly agree with Bloggin' Noggin', but I just wanted to express my surprise at how vicious, personal, and bitter some of the attacks on this guy have been.

Brendan, somehow this guy being an Evangelical and having 14 kids means he'd like to exterminate all the brown people?

You guys need to take a deep breath and go watch Glen Loury and Josh Cohen... your serotonin levels will soon be back to normal.

bjkeefe
01-24-2008, 11:02 PM
Adam:

Brendan, somehow this guy being an Evangelical and having 14 kids means he'd like to exterminate all the brown people?

I don't think I said that, and I don't think he has that specific aim.

I do think part of his mindset is to out-breed the Others, though, yes.

Sorry if my viciousness offended you. I thought about saying nothing, but then I decided that it was better to speak up. As I said to BN above, the tipping point came when I realized that this isn't just a personal and private choice of lifestyle -- Arndt is actively proselytizing in favor of it. I find his views appalling and dangerous, and therefore decided to respond in an equally extreme tone.