Books: The Pile Grows...
Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Jim Brady of the Washington Post: A Case for Professional Help?

Stanley Fish's Antimoral Philosophy

I think we have a new frontrunner in the Stupidest Man AliveTM contest: Stanley Fish with another case of this-is-so-funny-because-it's-so-sad.

Two "religions." One of them believes in free speech: that people who think differently should engage each other, learn from each other, and try to get along. The other believes that people who think differently should be hated, terrorized, and scorned. Stanley Fish declares he favors the second: that it is to the discredit of liberals that their faith doesn't hold that you should cut the throats of infidels who blaspheme. That it is to the credit of those he calls "Muslims" (but are, I believe, not so) that they believe in "fighting... to the death"--which would seem to imply killing others--for their faith:

Our Faith in Letting It All Hang Out - New York Times: [Some say] it is hypocritical for Muslims to protest cartoons caricaturing Muhammad... cartoons vilifying the symbols of Christianity and Judaism are found... in the media of many Arab countries.... [But] the difference is that those who draw and publish such cartoons in Arab countries believe... Jews and Christians follow false religions and are proper objects of hatred and obloquy.... [T]he editors who have run the [Muhammed] cartoons do not believe that Muslims are evil infidels... they [publsh them] gratuitously, almost accidentally. Concerned only to stand up for an abstract principle — free speech — they seize on whatever content happens to come their way.... The fact that for others the content may be life itself is beside their point.

This is itself a morality — the morality of a withdrawal from morality... different from the morality of those for whom the Danish cartoons are blasphemy and monstrously evil... the difference... is to the credit of the Muslim protesters and to the discredit of the liberal editors....

[C]alls for "dialogue," issued so frequently of late by the pundits with an unbearable smugness... depends on the assumption (central to liberalism's theology) that, after all, no idea is worth fighting over to the death....

[But] dialogue is not a tenet in his creed, and invoking it is unlikely to do anything but further persuade him that you have missed the point — as, indeed, you are pledged to do, so long as liberalism is the name of your faith.

The best way to deal with this is, I think, via cartoons:

And by a captioned picture of Stanley Fish:

"The splendrous blond beast, avidly rampant for plunder and victory"

But I suppose we have to use words as well:

Note that to Fish the problem with those he calls "liberals" is not that they are unwilling to die for their faith: it is that they are not willing enough to kill others--to "fight" for their faith, and to fight "to the death" for it. Fish admires rather than laughs at those whose theology is "Believe in a loving God, or die!" That's sad. That's perverted. That's funny.

That Gail Collins thinks this is worth publishing is, on the other hand, only sad.