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Libertarian: Stop Politicizing the Pandemic
“There is an all-too-familiar gracelessness in politicized conversations about the coronavirus,” sighs Reason’s Matt Welch. Anti-lockdowners and dour mask fanatics alike “feel surrounded by murderers and denialists,” who “are either intentionally trying to make things worse or just too blinkered to admit there’s a problem in the first place.” The result of these competing attitudes is to turn the virus into a sort of “morality play”: Every event in the course of the pandemic, not least individual cases, must be tallied as the fault of one party or the other. The more human and humane response is “to extend condition-free sympathy and kindness” to our fellow citizens.
From the left: 2020’s Worst Newsroom Wokery
At his TK News blog, Matt Taibbi flags some of last year’s most absurd “woke” stories — signs of “an accelerating newsroom mania for political groupthink that was equal parts frightening and ridiculous.” One piece whined that wine-loving is racist, since its “vocabulary . . . is nearly exclusively rooted in flavors and aromas common to Western Europe”; another described the perils posed by actor Laurence Fox’s declaration that he “does not date woke women.” A Time article assailed the white privilege of Helen Keller; a Vox critic “denounced white vegans who tout ‘recipes . . . that rely on racial stereotypes,’ like “African peanut stew.’ ” An ABC.com writer “railed against the ‘systemic racism’ of America’s ‘Great White Outdoors’ ” — the national park system. The worst of the worst: a Guardian column ignoring the fact that tall buildings simply seek “to fit more people in crammed real estate,” entitled “ ‘Upward-Thrusting Buildings Ejaculating Into the Sky’ — Do Cities Have To Be So Sexist?”
Campus watch: War on Free Speech Isn’t Over
College-speaker “disinvitations” may have declined since 2016, but only because invitations to conservatives are now being blocked from the start, reports Princeton sophomore Adam Hoffman — whose attempts to have Pulitzer Prize-winner George Will and federal appeals judge Neomi Rao address his campus were nixed, he writes at National Review, even as “extreme progressives” were OK’d. “A disproportionate share of university events and commencement speakers around the country are progressive” — and that “belies the purpose of universities” as “truth-seeking institutions.”
Rocker: Why AI Will Never Write a Great Song
At The Spectator, rocker Nick Cave lays down reasons why no artificial intelligence “will be able to write better songs than humans can.” The key issue: “What a great song makes us feel is a sense of awe,” something rooted in “our audacity as humans to reach beyond our potential.” In truly great songs, “we are listening to Beethoven compose the Ninth Symphony while almost totally deaf. We are listening to Prince, that tiny cluster of purple atoms, singing in the pouring rain at the Super Bowl and blowing everyone’s minds. We are listening to Nina Simone stuff all her rage and disappointment into the most tender of love songs.” In short, “what we are actually listening to is human limitation and the audacity to transcend it. Artificial intelligence, for all its unlimited potential, simply doesn’t have this capacity.”
Religion beat: The Wisdom of Kosher Slaughter
Last month, the European Court of Justice upheld Belgium’s ban on Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter. The decision, charges Rafi Eis at First Things, misunderstands how Jewish law has done a great deal “to prevent animal cruelty.” The Mosaic law, after all, prohibited eating limbs severed while the animal is still alive or any flesh while the animal still has “life-blood in it” (Genesis 9:4). The import of these rules was that “the animal’s life and welfare must be respected.” Kosher slaughter achieves this: “The animal is killed with a swift, surgical cut with an unblemished, razor-sharp knife.” More fundamentally, it was Mosaic law that first offered humankind “training to respect the life of the animal.” Europe’s high court, then, “has much to learn about morality from the Bible — not just about the primacy of faith, but about the dignity of all creatures.”
— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board