Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Brave New World



It's interesting to note how certain things which we now take for granted are actually very new, at least in the United States.

Searching the archives of the New York Times:

The New York Times first mentioned a homosexual residing in New York City in 1944.

The New York Times first used the phrase "genital herpes" in 1969.

The New York Times first used the word "pedophile" in 1974.

The New York Times first used the phrase "serial killer" in 1981.

The New York Times first mentioned the HIV virus in 1986.

It would seem that along with, or perhaps because of, all the sexual liberation and freedom of recent decades, America has also developed a very dangerous, secretive subculture of perversion, disease and death which was entirely unknown only a few decades ago.

How fortunate we Orthodox Jews are to still be almost completely free of this decay, and how fervently we must recite each day the blessing "Blessed are You who has not made me a gentile" (Tosefta Berakhot 6). In the midst of a growing putrid swamp, we are a small, beautiful garden preserved by our Torah .

43 comments:

Garnel Ironheart said...

The NY Times first mentioned:

penicillin in October 20, 1940

an effective treatment for diphtheria Dec 7, 1980

cardiac defibrillation July 3, 1948

So what's your point?

jewish philosopher said...

The point is, it would seem that along with, or perhaps because of, all the liberation and freedom of recent decades, America has also managed to develop a very dangerous, secretive subculture of perversion, disease and death which was entirely unknown only a few decades ago.

How fortunate we Orthodox Jews are to still be almost completely free of this decay, and how fervently we must recite each day the blessing "Blessed are You who has not made me a gentile" (Tosefta Berakhot 6). In the midst of a growing putrid swamp, we are a small, beautiful garden preserved by our Torah .

Anonymous said...

You are free to practice your own bizarre form of Judaism, only because of the free society, this "culture of perversion" that developed here that you so detest.

Would you rather be living in Czarist Russia, the Islamic Calaphate, 17th century Poland, or in the Holy Roman Empire? How about Nazi Germany? Boy, those were the best of times. Or how about America in the early twentieth century when Jews had to work on the Sabbath, and suffered discrimination? And those societies had good values!

What fantasy period are you nastalgic for?

You remind me of the Muslim extremists, who take advantage of and benefit from the freedoms of Western society, only to undermine it and espouse anti-Western venom.

You blog in the name of freedom of expression, while advocating death to atheists, homosexuals and apostates.

You are the ultimate hypocrite.

In a society that you yearn for, you would be hanging from a street lamp by your own tefillin straps.

onionsoupmix said...

Nutcase, the reason pedophelia wasn't mentioned as a problem is b/c it was the norm... read the rambam a bit more.

not convinced said...

The "putrid swamp" is the only reason why you are here and free to be a Jew in the first place.

How about a little hakarat hatov?

jewish philosopher said...

"pedophelia wasn't mentioned as a problem"

It just wasn't mentioned, apparently because it didn't exist.

jewish philosopher said...

"In a society that you yearn for, you would be hanging from a street lamp by your own tefillin straps."

I yearn for the Messianic era, when all mankind accepts the Torah.

"The "putrid swamp" is the only reason why you are here and free to be a Jew in the first place."

I don't see why we can't outlaw, for example, pornography (as was the case until about 1960) while legalizing Judaism.

not convinced said...

"I don't see why we can't outlaw, for example, pornography (as was the case until about 1960) while legalizing Judaism."

1. Even if sexual vice wasn't legal, it was prevelant in some form or another. People will always find ways.

2. The very same constitutional protection that allows pornography, allows you to write a blog advocating death for homosexuals, and purgatory for heretics.

Civics 101.

jewish philosopher said...

Apparently until a few decades ago, religious freedom and sexual restrictions were able to co-exist in America, and I think a lot of people were much better off.

See for example the interview serial killer Ted Bundy gave before his execution, where he revealed that an addiction to pornography has caused his killings.

http://www.pureintimacy.org/piArticles/A000000433.cfm

Anonymous said...

I don't think that 20% of women in America had Herpes 50 years ago. And we didn'y have an aids epidemic.

not convinced said...

"Apparently until a few decades ago, religious freedom and sexual restrictions were able to co-exist in America,"

This was a relatively brief window in history from perhaps after ww2 until the early 1960s. About 15 years, out of thousands of years of recorded history. Before ww2 religious Jews were afraid to wear skull caps and beards, and preferred to keep a low profile. The sexual revolution began in the 1960s.

" don't think that 20% of women in America had Herpes 50 years ago. And we didn'y have an aids epidemic."

So?

50 years ago you got polio instead. Or strokes and heart attacks because we didn't treat cholesterol then. And lung cancer because everybody smoked. And AIDS is not an epidemic and is treatable. No American has to die of HIV infection now due to effective drugs.

You want to go back to the 1950s?

One thing I really don't understand- why you guys are SO OBSESSED with other people's sexual habits. It's almost like, you're uncomfortable with your own impulses, and you project them onto other people.

jewish philosopher said...

"This was a relatively brief window in history from perhaps after ww2 until the early 1960s."

I would say about 300 years. Jews settled in New York City in 1654

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_history_in_Colonial_America#The_Brazilian_group

Playboy was first published in 1953

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Playboy

Anonymous said...

nc:

Are you saying that HIV and herpes are not bad things? Fifty years ago, we didn't have medicine to treat heart attacks and stokes.
But STD's can be very easily avoided by the application of some old fashioned morality.

not so convinced said...

"Are you saying that HIV and herpes are not bad things? Fifty years ago, we didn't have medicine to treat heart attacks and stokes."

I am not talking about "good" and "bad", just reality. There were problems then and there are problems now. Some things are worse now and some things are better. Most things are better. We live longer, healthier, and wealthier, by any measure.

"But STD's can be very easily avoided by the application of some old fashioned morality."

And heart disease could frequently be avoided by regular exercise, strict diet and weight control. Are you advocating that the morality police patrol that, too?

I have no problem with advising abstinence. But your focus on sex as the source of all societal problems is naive and out of context.

"Jews settled in New York City in 1654"

Yes, but most early American Jews were not ultra-orthodox meshuganas like you but rather assimilated. Even the eastern european immigration of the early 20th century-- those people wanted to assimilate. My grandfather came from Poland in 1914. He has to work on the Sabbath, shaved his beard, and sent his kids to public school. He lost his wife at age 30 due to pneumonia, and lost a daughter who died at childbirth.

Not exactly the kind of life we long to return to. Do you?

I still don't get it. Do you guys want to turn the clock back? What do you want?

not at all convinced said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention, about my grandfather: Due to the level of telecommunications and the expense of travel at the time, he lost all contact with this family in Europe, save one letter that he received from his brother, asking him to send a pair of shoes.

We don't know his family's fate-- most likely they died in the holocaust.

Oh, how I yearn to return to the good old days....

Anonymous said...

Orthodox Judaism is free from herpes and HIV? Really? Tell that to Public Health. After they finish laughing at you they'll tell you the frumbags hide their condition and tend to infect their wives since their yiddishkeit won't allow them to use protection.

And no pedophiles? *snort* *snicker*

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!

The Black Hats PROTECT pedophiles. They act just like the Catholics, moving around rabbis and rosh yeshivot. The vengeance they take against children who come forward and their families is legendary. They won't go to the police and refuse to even do sexual predator background checks on the teachers at their madrassas. Sorry, yeshivot.

jewish philosopher said...

My point is that while in the 1950's Playboy seemed like a little innocent fun, now, 60 years later, with cemeteries filled with AIDS victims and prisons filled with child molesters,I wonder if it doesn't seem a little less harmless.

From today's news:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66I42520100719

"The Black Hats PROTECT pedophiles."

Everyone gets this one wrong. Rabbis don't have sex with kids; they kill them and drink their blood. Now that't really awesome!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_libel_against_Jews

not convinced said...

Let's remember the simple facts of life:
1. We will all die.
2. Bad things sometimes happen to people, at the hands of other people or nature.
3. Some people are good and some are bad.
4. Nature is unpredictable and thus so is our welfare.
5. In other words: life isn't fair.
6. We don't know how we got here.

Now in man, unlike his smaller-brained mammal relatives, this is conscious knowledge, and causes anxiety and existential angst. So what do we do with this?

Modern humanist/atheist: Accept our limitations and fate with humility, wonder and humor. Use the tools of science to learn more about ourselves and our environment, and use this knowledge to improve man's welfare.

Ancient man/religionist: invent fairy tale stories about law-giving gods who created us, control nature and non-physical souls, and administer justice. Thus, nature is in fact not random, bad things happen to people either because they deserved it, or the events were not actually bad but good and part of some divine plan. Our "souls" survive our death and people get their rewards and punishments after death. So, life is in fact fair, bad things don't happen to good people, bad people always get their punishment, and we don't really die. Therefore, there is no reason for anxiety.

JP, that's all there is to your religion and every other.

Take your pick

Anonymous said...

The best approach would be to combine modern technology and medicine with Jewish Morality. This way, we treat heart disease, and we don't have STD epidemics.

jewish philosopher said...

Not convinced, how about this:

God obviously exists. A watch must have a watchmaker.

Jewish response: embrace the obvious truth and accept God and the God given law revealed to millions of people at Mount Sinai.

Atheist response: invent some ridiculous fairy tale about amoebas turning into people and Ezra fabricating the Torah which was then accepted by millions of mindless zombies known as Jews.

Therefore there is no reward or punishment, everything is permitted so long as you don't get arrested and there is no need for any anxiety.

Not Convinced said...

Fair enough, how about this:

The existence of life is a wonder. We have to decide on how we acquire knowledge and what rules of evidence we require to obtain this knowledge. What do we do with this?

Ancient man/JP: There are thousands of different religious traditions, oral stories, holy books and holy men which claim to know what happened billions of years earlier. These traditions are based on primitive and ignorant understanding of nature. Now, out of these thousands of traditions, pick one. Use analogies, conspiracy theories, third hand testimony and arguments by authority to decide on which one. Then accept all of that tradition's claims without question.

Modern man: Using the tools of modern technology, observation, rigorous mathematical logic, and statistics, hypothesize and test. Accept only those hypotheses that hold up to testing and reject those that have a low or no probability, or have no basis in evidence.

Anonymous said...

Don't even get started JP. You've already demonstrated an abysmal ignorance of the simplest basics of science. You aren't even at the level of the "Creation Scientists" who at least try to make sciency-sounding apologia for their literal reading of Genesis.

Your posts have shown that you understand nothing about the subject aside from Fundamentalist shoot the arrows, then draw the circles flimflammery. Your ignorance of physics, geology, astronomy, philosophy of science, archeology, paleontology, biochemistry, genetics and evolutionary biology is equally lacking.

The simple fact is that millions of man-years of independent research by the best minds in all these fields and more point towards the same conclusions. The facts are available to anyone. They don't depend on holiness or yiddishkeit. There are methods for self-correction which demonstrably work.

Blind faith, which is what you have, assumes its conclusions and must by necessity reject anything which doesn't support them. It rests entirely on obedience and fear. The entire "argument" rests on one simple statement. Comply or Die. Toe the line or you're in cherem. Believe or you will be tortured for eternity.

According to frum historians Jews did not generally believe the literal truth of Genesis until well within the last thousand years. It was considered a metaphor, something which pointed limited human minds at greater truths. What we've seen since is an adoption by Jews of goyishe religious principles.

The Gemara and the writings of many poskim are full of the same sort of nonsense. No matter how much you protest beetles don't have four legs. There are more than seven planets. There are no tunnels bringing water from the Heavens to the clouds below. Mice are not spontaneously generated from mud or lice from sweat. Electricity is not fire. Rabbits do not chew the cud. Yaks and llamas do. The stars don't have set courses in the heavens. There was no worldwide flood.

And so on.

Alex said...

not (so)convinced writes: "one thing I really don't understand- why you guys are SO OBSESSED with other people's sexual habits...Do you guys want to turn the clock back?

Why the plural?

Mahla said...

JP, this question is in earnest and not any type of veiled insult.

As a convert, do you feel hurt or odd thanking God every day for not having made you a gentile? :^O

Or is it that Jews believe a Jew can accidentally be born a gentile, and that a convert is really a 'revert' returning to his or her true faith?

I'm not really certain of the details on how the conversion process works. I have read that Jews actually discourage people from converting, but I have not actually heard that from the horse's mouth.

jewish philosopher said...

"Accept only those hypotheses that hold up to testing and reject those that have a low or no probability, or have no basis in evidence."

If so, evolution is certainly rejected.

Take global warming, for example.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

Global warming may lead to a mass extinction of life on earth.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/04/0412_060412_global_warming.html

We know from the past that mass extinction events always were followed by huge increases in biological complexity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event#Evolutionary_importance

Evolutionists should be thrilled by global warming since there is no other mechanism known to so rapidly accelerate evolution. Rather than stopping global warming, evolutionists should demand it.

Of course, no one is, because no one really believes in evolution.

"Believe or you will be tortured for eternity."

You make that sound like a problem.

As far as Torah and science go, I've got all the answers:

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/10/biblical-deluge.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/02/torah-and-archaeology.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/01/splitting-hares.html

Regarding the Talmud and science, the Talmudic sages' comments about science are not part of the Oral Law and are not necessarily correct.

Maimonides wrote in the Guide to the Perplexed part 3 chapter 14: "You must, however, not expect that everything our Sages say respecting astronomical matters should agree with observation, for mathematics were not fully developed in those days: and their statements were not based on the authority of the Prophets, but on the knowledge which they either themselves possessed or derived from contemporary men of science."

http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp150.htm

Also, many Talmudic teachings are allegorical, not literal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggadah#Literal-allegorical_teachings

"do you feel hurt or odd thanking God every day for not having made you a gentile?"

Converts don't say it.

not convinced said...

Mahla,

The offensiveness of some sections of Jewish prayer has either been blunted by apologists, or outright changed by liberal streams of Judaism. You ask about the "goy" blessing, what about the one thanking god for not making us a woman? We'll wait for JP's response but I think I know what to expect. The truth is that fundamentalist Judaism, like extreme forms of all religions, has many offensive ideas.

Judaism general has discouraged conversion, at the early stage. It has always been suspicious of ulterior motives. Yet if the candidate seems earnest, he is welcomed into the community.

Alex-- I was referring to JP and his anonymous supporter sidekick.

Anonymous (1:16)-- When the rabbis were demonstratively wrong about something, JP says that either they were counting on the science of their day, or there is a deep mysterious, unknowable meaning. In either case the rabbis are infallible.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

Grasshoppers have four legs, foru is included in six. The Torah mentions the other pair of jointed legs.

And spontaniously generated mice was the cutting edge science of the day. If the Rabbi's questioned it, you would say they were wrong for questioning the consensus.

And rabbits don't chew their cud, but they do recycle their feces, which is the physiological equivalent.

And there are ocean floor sediments all around the Indian Ocean, thick flood sediments in Mesopotamia, evidence of catastrophic flooding in several midwestern states, the coastline of the Black Sea got bigger in historic times due to a catastrophic flood, and the geologist are having trouble explaining the origin of the Grand Canyon. And hundreds of cultures have flood legends that closely parallel the Torah.

Mahla said...

Ah, okay! That makes perfect sense. The last part of your post made me think everyone has to say it. :^) Thank you for responding.

Not convinced said...

Anon 2:28
Your apologetics are what give fundamentalists
such a bad name. Don't you have any self awareness
and realize how you are twisting the meaning
of text in absurd ways to justify yourself?

Then, regarding the Talmud, you are inconsistent.
Sometimes when they say something odd, you'll say
it has some deep meaning, then other times, when it suits you, you say that the rabbis were just following the science of the day and using everyday metaphors.

Anonymous said...

Where did I say that the Rabbi's statements about science were metaphors? I said they were following the science of the day. If they didn't you would say they were wrong.

And I'mjust reading the text as it is printed. The posuk about grasshoppers talks about extra jointed legs, which they have. And the whole point of the posuk is to include grasshoppers in sherotzim, which have four legs. And grasshoppers walk primarily on foru legs, just like the Torah says, the extra legs are used for hopping.

And the point of the posuk about the rabbit chewing is to correct an error someone might have. He migbnt think that since rabbits do something which the equivalent of cud chewing, it might be kosher. And male gero, means to bring up what was swallowed. The rabbit does just that by eating its feces.

Anonymous said...

HIV is a relatively new virus in humans. In previous eras, other STDs were more prevalent. Does it make you feel better that people used to die of syphilis instead?

Also - are you trying to argue that if a phenomenon isn't mentioned in the New York Times, it doesn't exist in the world?

jewish philosopher said...

I think that if let's say pedophiles or serial killers were rampant in New York City in 1920, the New York Times would have run an article.

Anonymous said...

The New York Times apparently missed these stories, according to you:

The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders (1928 in California)

Carl Panzram (executed in 1930)

Amy Archer-Gilligan

jewish philosopher said...

So your theory is that 50 or 100 years ago, people were on one hand so sexually liberal that they often had sex with children. But they were so sexually conservative that they could not speak about it, therefore no mention was made in the press.

Serial killers did exist, for example Jack the Ripper. However apparently the behavior was so rare it had no special name.

Crime rates have dropped in recent years since we have incarcerated huge numbers of people.

Anonymous said...

Please do some basic social science research.

Child abuse and violence against women was far more common, and somewhat protected by law.

Having sex with children was not a matter of liberalism. It was a matter of power and control - children were a convenient target.

Serial killers are not new, and they are still a fairly rare phenomenon. What has changed is the nature of reporting, along with the sheer increase in the population.

Children have rights, and means of protection, today that they did not have 50 or 100 years ago.

There were no laws about mandatory reporting of child abuse (including sexual abuse) 50 or 100 years ago.

Laws at the time made it far more difficult for a woman to leave her husband and be able to support herself and her children.

Schools had the right to use corporal punishment, and the government also supported the existance of orphanages, residential schools for natives, and institutions for those with developmental disabilities. The legacy of abuse, including a substantial amount of sexual abuse, in these settings from 50-100 years ago has been documented. The stories simply weren't reported until more recently.

Laws and court procedures have changed. The names of rape victims aren't publicized anymore. In an era where reputation was everything, there was widespread pressure to keep sexual abuse hidden. Some families also dealt with it in other ways, such as through vigilante justice (see Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings")

jewish philosopher said...

I think what happened is that starting about 1960, as society began shifting toward atheism, the Biblical sexual prohibitions were dropped and all types of sexual behavior started becoming more widespread - sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, sex with yourself (masturbation), sex for money, sex with the same sex, sex with children, sex during or after murdering someone, oral sex, sadomasochistic sex, sex by force (including "date rape"), etc. I think across the board there has been an increase in sexual behaviors, except probably regular married sex which has taken a hit.

Anonymous said...

Premarital sex became more socially acceptable.

Please provide actual evidence for your other claims, beyond what you "think".

For example, there is evidence that prostitution rates actually decreased during the sexual revolution - demand for paid services went down since more was available for free. I found some old "marriage education" books from the early 1960s which talk about how the man would generally have gained experience prior to the wedding from "professional women".

Nietzsche advocated sexual violence in his writings. Then again, he also died of syphilis. I guess problems pre-dated the 1960s.

Both of my grandmothers told me plenty about extra-marital affairs prior to the 1960s.

Terms like "date rape" were not used. The laws in most places allowed men to legally rape their wives, and the victim's sexual history was admissible in court to discredit her. Therefore, such cases were never prosecuted.

jewish philosopher said...

"Please provide actual evidence for your other claims, beyond what you "think"."

I believe that the number of people, in proportion to the population, convicted of these behaviors, and/or references to them in the media, has increased exponentially since 1960.

The state registries of sex offenders are starting to get so long, I think in another decade or so we might more efficiently just list males who are not offenders.

This post is using the New York Times as a simple barometer.

Anonymous said...

Again, I'm questioning the accuracy of that barometer.

I'll make it easy for you. Why don't you contact an editor at the New York Times, tell them about your research, and ask them if they would consider a search of the New York Times index for the terms that you used, over the dates that you mentioned, to be a reasonably accurate reflection of the prevalence of these issues in American society. When you get a response, just cut and paste it here, complete with the name of the editor that you contacted.

Anonymous said...

I also had some fun playing with the NYT archive search. You just have to know some old-fashioned language.

For example, type in "ill repute", and you'll find within the first 10 articles stories going back to 1872, detailing raids on whorehouses, men found dead in these places, etc. Yeah, those were the good ole days.

jewish philosopher said...

"I'm questioning the accuracy of that barometer."

I remember America of 40 years ago. Nobody was afraid that children playing alone in wooded areas, for example, would disappear. Seemingly things have changed and not for the better.

"For example, type in "ill repute","

Prostitution has always existed in New York. Also, interestingly, the Times did a big article about heroin abuse in I think 1914. At that time you could apparently just buy the stuff over the counter in any pharmacy. However when you consider the level of prostitution now going on over the web, I think even that has increased over what was happening pre-1960.

Anonymous said...

How much of that fear is due to a change in perception?

You didn't have 24 hour news stations 40 years ago. You had local news coverage of crime, but didn't hear every single detail of crimes across the country. There was no Nancy Grace or America's Most Wanted.

Random murder of children strikes terror into every parent's heart - but it's not a common event. Murders are far more likely to be drug/gang related, and common things like driving and swimming pools pose a far greater risk of death to children.

jewish philosopher said...

Even 150 years ago newspapers were common place in Western Europe and the US. I think sexual behavior has changed dramatically.

Take for example the so called "Jack the Ripper" killings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_the_Ripper

In a poor London neighborhood, five prostitutes were murdered over a period of two and a half months, between 8/31/1888 and 11/9/1888. The bodies were badly mutilated. At that time, the murders were a huge international sensation. Even to this day, books are still being published about it.

http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Ripper-Casebook-Richard-Jones/dp/023300257X/

But that was in 1888. Today, would a few dead prostitutes make the news at all? It might get an episode on "48 Hours Mystery". Considering how many violent perverts are around these days, dead prostitutes are almost routine.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/crime/prostitution/murder.htm