Repost: Ten Reasons to Legalize ILA

I originally published this post on my now-defunct blog Dispatches from the North in January of 2012.

  1. To reduce the prison population and ease police workloads. As of 2008, more than 175,000 Americans were behind bars for ILA. Statistics for other countries with anti-ILA laws are similar. Anti-ILA laws thus put a tremendous strain on both prisons and law enforcement, giving them less time and fewer resources to deal with other, more important problems, such as poverty and racism.
  2. To combat discrimination. In many countries, those who have been convicted of ILA are forbidden from voting or running for political office. Furthermore, tremendous social stigma is attached to ILA, reducing practitioners’ opportunities in housing and employment, among other things. Laws against ILA are also often used to legitimize institutional racism: In the United States, a disproportionate number of people convicted of ILA are Hispanic or African-American, and again, the statistics for other countries are similar. We believe that the legalization of ILA should be complemented with anti-discrimination laws, mandatory sensitivity training for police and public servants, and the introduction of an ILA History Month aimed at making society more inclusive of ILA and its practitioners. Continue reading

The Denominations of Atheism

All societies are religious. Therefore, atheism always involves, not only the acceptance of a certain worldview, but the rejection of a certain ancestral religion. In fact, “rejection of religion” defines atheism much better than does “absence of religion.” (William Lane Craig often points out that his pet cat’s lack of belief in God does not make his pet cat an atheist—an atheist, unlike Craig’s pet cat, does not just lack a certain belief, namely that there is a God; he also has a certain belief, namely that there is no God.) The relationship between the atheist and the ancestral religion he rejects is often quite complicated. Because the atheist has grown up in a culture saturated by that religion, the biggest influence on his ideas is usually—that religion. Thus, we can talk about pagan atheists, Christian atheists, Jewish atheists, and so forth, observing, e.g., that Jewish atheists are more ethnocentric than Christian atheists because Judaism is more ethnocentric than Christianity.

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Adminutia: The comments policy

I’ve made some slight tweaks and updates to our comments policy. This can also serve as a reminder that we do have such a policy, and that it is enforced.

A couple points worth emphasizing:

  1. The policy is, I think, quite lenient, especially considering the illiberal nature of this blog. This is mainly because we want the Orthosphere to be an open forum for traditionalists rather than just a soapbox for the eleven of us, insightful, interesting, and good-looking though we are. Of course, this presumes maturity and civility on the part of the commenters. Thus, even if you disagree vehemently with something one of us has written, expressing that disagreement in needlessly harsh and insulting terms will only damage the climate of discussion we’re trying to cultivate, as well as making your argument look less credible. You’re among friends here–comment accordingly.
  2. Though the policy is lenient, we’re more concerned about its spirit than its letter. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to try and exploit loopholes you think you’ve found in it, nor to test the patience of the admins.
  3. As the policy itself alludes to, enforcement is mostly left up to the individual contributor, which means it may not be enforced in the same way always and everywhere. Again, the spirit is more important than the letter—this is a set of guidelines, not of explicit rules.

A message to pro-abortion people


This is not addressed to the leaders or ideologues of the pro-abortion movement. They, I suspect, are too far gone to be reasoned with, though I would be very happy to be proved wrong about that. Nor is it addressed to the increasing number of ethicists who argue that the killing of newborn infants ought to be legalized, since what I said about the pro-abortion movement’s leaders and ideologues goes double for them. (Including the part about me being happy to be proved wrong about them.) No, this is addressed primarily to those ordinary people who on balance consider themselves “pro-choice,” and who have repeated or accepted the common slogans and arguments of the pro-abortion movement without giving them too much thought. If you are one of those people—or, for that matter, if you know such people—keep reading.

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Reactionary Composer of the Week: Ralph Vaughan Williams

When I talk about classical music with people, they sometimes ask me who is my all-time favorite composer. I never quite know what to answer, but the name I usually mention is that of Ralph Vaughan Williams. (The “Ralph,” by the way, is pronounced “Rayf,” as with the actor Ralph Fiennes.)

You may or may not have heard of Vaughan Williams before—he’s considered a national treasure in the UK, particularly in England, but is much less well known on my corner of the continent—but even if you haven’t, chances are good that you’ve heard his music. For example, his Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis for—get this—two string orchestras and string quartet has been used in several film scores. Many of Vaughan Williams’s works have a nationalist tint, and often take their inspiration from English folk music and Tudor-age hymns and dances. (Apart from composing, Vaughan Williams also did groundbreaking work in the collection and study of English folk songs, and was one of the editors of the first English Hymnal.)

I can pinpoint the moment Vaughan Williams became one of my favorite composers Continue reading

Reactionary Composer of the Week: Stefania de Kenessey

Today’s reactionary composer, Stefania de Kenessey, is a recent discovery of mine. De Kenessey is a Hungarian currently living in the United States, and is the founder of the Derriere Guard, an affiliation of anti-modernist artists whose best known member is the author Tom Wolfe. While I’ve heard de Kenessey’s highly tonal music described as “neoclassical,” it differs in some very important ways from the compositions of the original neoclassicists, an early to mid-20th century school whose most notable representatives were Igor Stravinsky and the group of French composers known as Les Six. (No bonus points for correctly guessing how many members Les Six had.) For one, it seems completely free of the winking, self-conscious irony typical of the original neoclassicists. For another, de Kenessey is not, as many of the original neoclassicists were accused of being, a dry and unemotional composer. Her music is earnestly lyrical, as neoromantic as it is neoclassical. The name that kept popping into my head as I listened to this CD of her chamber music was Schubert’s; in particular, I hear strong echoes of the first movement of the “Death and the Maiden” quartet in parts of the first movement of the clarinet quintet Shades of Darkness. My one major complaint about the music on the CD (which is my only exposure to de Kenessey so far) is that I found it a little tiring in large doses, as she has a tendency to overuse certain motifs and ideas. (To see what I mean, listen back-to-back to Shades of Darkness‘s “Death and the Maiden”-ish opening and the very beginning of the piano trio Traveling Light, or compare the first entry of the clarinet in that same movement to the first entry of the flute in The Passing.) I couldn’t find excerpts from the CD on YouTube, but on Amazon and, you can listen to some free samples and buy full MP3s for a pittance.

Time for another levity break!

Q: What do Leonid Brezhnev, Sherlock Holmes, and the Chinese have in common?

A: They’re all regular characters in the fount of humor that is Russian jokes.

Not jokes about Russians, that is, though there are plenty of those as well, but jokes from Russia, or anekdoty. Wikipedia has a good selection with some background information. Some of them rely on puns or cultural references that don’t translate well, but most are hilarious even to a non-Russian with no particular familiarity with Russian culture. (Be warned, by the way, that many of them also are not family-friendly by any stretch of the imagination.) I especially like the older ones poking fun at Communism. Here’s a Stalin joke from the page about Russian political jokes:

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Reactionary Composer of the Week: Ottorino Respighi

On the last RCOTW post before the feature went into hiatus, a commenter questioned whether any of the composers I’d highlighted could really be described as “reactionary.” His reasoning seemed to be that if we apply the same definition of “reactionary” to the arts as we do to politics, morality, and metaphysics, the only composer worthy of the term would be one who had returned to writing exclusively Gregorian chants. (My own views on what constitutes a traditionalist or reactionary aesthetic are a bit more lenient, and close to Larry Auster’s. Scroll down to his reply to Karl D. to see the post I’m talking about.) Today’s reactionary composer, the Italian Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), didn’t quite go that far, but he certainly came closer than most, basing many of his works on the church modes of the Middle Ages and Renaissance rather than the major-minor tonality of Classicism, Romanticism, and the better part of the Baroque, and sometimes even using actual Gregorian chants as thematic material.

Respighi is by far best known for his “Roman Trilogy” of orchestral suites, but he composed many other works as well. Here, I want to highlight the final movements of his Concerto in Modo Misolidio (Concerto in the Mixolydian Mode) for piano and orchestra and his Concerto Gregoriano for violin and orchestra. Aside from illustrating what I said about Respighi’s use of church modes and Gregorian chant, these movements also show that the man could really write a barnstorming finale–both have the complexity of good classical music and the sweep and emotional directness of film music.

Concerto in Modo Misolidio – Passacaglia (Allegro energico). Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Howard Griffiths (conductor), Konstantin Scherbakov (piano).

Concerto Gregoriano – Alleluia (Allegro energico). Performers not named in description.