Monday Smackdown II: Sady Doyle Smacks Down Doug Henwood

Monday Smackdown I/Hoisted: Stanley Fish's Antimoral Philosophy

God! Stanley Fish is such an ass! And so are Gail Collins and company at the New York Times for wasting their opinion-hole on him. Have they no shame?

From a decade ago: 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, really not so--it's not an appreciation for the teachings of Muhammed, peace be upon him, and his doctrines of submission to God that motivates them) that they believe in 'fighting... to the death'--usually others' death, not their own--for their "faith":

Stanley Fish: Our Faith in Letting It All Hang Out: "[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.

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, in a sick way, somewhat funny.

That Gail Collins and company think this is worth publishing is, on the other hand, only sad.