Category Ethics

Jack Reacher, Remembering the Victims

I recently watched a Tom Cruise star vehicle called Jack Reacher. It is not a good film. But there is one particular part, a tiny little sliver, that could have been the seed of a truly excellent story. Jack Reacher is a mysterious maverick with supernatural detective skills who lives completely off the grid and […]

Marx’s 200th Birthday

So, let’s start with the obvious stuff. The followers of Marx made the Nazis look like amateurs on the whole “mass murder” thing, the public ownership of the means of production has, whenever tried, either collapsed or led to authoritarianism and the economic part of Marx’s theory is charitably described as a confused version of […]

Guns

Gun control, especially on the political left, is almost universally framed as a matter of safety. The typical leftist argument for disarming the public goes something like this. “Guns are only used for killing things, they are often used by accident and they help people commit the mass shootings that terrify us so.” On the […]

Threats to Democracy

We tend to think of democracy as an inevitability. Indeed, Violet Brown, the current oldest person alive, was born in 1900, 124 years after the establishment of democracy in the US. Even my host country, South Korea, has been democratic longer than my sister has been alive. However, our current wave of democracy is only […]

#Me Too, Historical Context

  Me Too, which began in 2006 but exploded into the mainstream only with the various Hollywood sex scandals of late 2017, might seem like a novel thing, a shiny new movement unprecedented and out of context, but I promise it is not. Depending on your views you might love or hate the movement, but […]

Seneca and Trigger Warnings

  I took part in a community discussion a few years ago. The rules asked me to label anything “potentially hurtful” with something I’d never heard of before, a so-called trigger warning. I asked what this meant and learned that the mention of certain topics “triggers” painful, often unbearable memories in the audience. For example, […]

The Saturn Five Rocket and Human Suffering

Look upon the Saturn V rocket. It is 110.6 meters tall, taller than the Statue of Liberty. It’s 10 meters in diameter, weighs nearly 3 million kilograms and cost 700 million dollars in today’s money. The first stage of this rocket created more than 3.4 million kilograms of thrust and consumed 2.3 million kilograms of […]

A Short Meditation on Victim Blaming

Victims deserve pity not blame. It is almost impossible to respect someone you pity. I would rather be blamed. “It is the spirit of our times to honor the victimized. They, the downtrodden, the deliciously injured, the erotically disempowered – how lovely is it to shower our pity down on their bowed shoulders? How fervid […]

Why We Hate, Part Two

Click here for part one of “Why We Hate.” See this dude here? He knows a lot of things. Far more than you, though he pities you enough that he would never say so and risk hurting your little feelings. He wouldn’t have to say anything, if you just spent a few minutes in his […]

Beyond Christianity, Part 3

I recently asked a group of writers how I could write a convincing homophobic character who is himself a closeted gay. Since I’m a novelist asking this question to a group advertising itself as a resource for writers, it seemed to me a pretty reasonable question. I didn’t get anything useful for character development, but I […]