Monday, February 11, 2008

Ted Koppel is an idiot

I know, in other news, Earth orbits Sun. Still, Snopes today mentions Koppel's 1987 commencement speech to Duke University including this gem of stupidity.
We have actually convinced ourselves that slogans will save us. Shoot up if you must; but use a clean needle. Enjoy sex whenever and with whomever you wish, but wear a condom. No! The answer is no. Not because it isn't cool or smart or because you might end up in jail or in an aids ward, but no because it's wrong, because we have spent 5,000 years as a race of rational human beings, trying to drag ourselves out of the primeval slime by searching for truth and moral absolutes. In its purest form, truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder. It is a howling reproach. What Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions.
Take a moment and savor the irony of the bolded sentences.

We have, as a race, spent all of 87 minutes searching for moral absolutes. We've spent at least half of the last 5,000 years (if not ten or a hundred times as long) killing each other over the moral absolutes du jour, and the rest redefining the truth so that it fits the personal prejudices and interests of whoever had the biggest club or the better artillery.

Koppel goes on to assert that
The sheer brilliance of the Ten Commandments is that they codify, in a handful of words, acceptable human behavior.
This is complete idiocy. Singling out just ten of the commandments (which ten? there are three versions) out of the thousands that Yahweh endorses seems like cherry-picking to the extreme. Out of these ten, a third have to do with Yahweh's murderous insecurity, and one (no images) is so absurd that only the Muslims take it literally. The other five or six are decent enough advice, I suppose, long pre-dating the Old Testament, but quite vague.

"Thou shalt not murder" means, of course, "Thou shalt not kill anyone without permission." Given that Yahweh demands that people be snuffed left and right, from human sacrifice to capital punishment to outright genocide, reading a respect for human life into this commandment is ridiculously absurd. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife or his ass" does, I suppose, concisely codify Yahweh's commandment that we treat women like domestic animals. And "Thou shalt not commit adultery" means that only one Hebrew gets to rape the twelve-year-old virgin sex slaves whose parents they murdered justly killed in war.

Oh yeah, gotta love those Ten Commandments.


  1. The original Ten Commandments were actually pretty good. I'm referring, of course to Solon's Ten Commandments.

  2. Take a moment and savor the irony of the bolded sentences.

    I don't think you understand the meaning of the word irony.

    killing each other over the moral absolutes du jour

    Well, if it's a moral absolute, it's not "du jour." This is pretty funny; an instance of irony from a blogger who doesn't seem to understand irony.

    Given that Yahweh demands that people be snuffed left and right

    Ah, I see that your grasp of Judeo-Christian theology about equals your understanding of irony.

    Have you ever considered the possibility that your presentation is actually destructive to the very ideology you propose to advance?

  3. Wow! What a completely retarded comment!


Please pick a handle or moniker for your comment. It's much easier to address someone by a name or pseudonym than simply "hey you". I have the option of requiring a "hard" identity, but I don't want to turn that on... yet.

With few exceptions, I will not respond or reply to anonymous comments, and I may delete them. I keep a copy of all comments; if you want the text of your comment to repost with something vaguely resembling an identity, email me.

No spam, pr0n, commercial advertising, insanity, lies, repetition or off-topic comments. Creationists, Global Warming deniers, anti-vaxers, Randians, and Libertarians are automatically presumed to be idiots; Christians and Muslims might get the benefit of the doubt, if I'm in a good mood.

See the Debate Flowchart for some basic rules.

Sourced factual corrections are always published and acknowledged.

I will respond or not respond to comments as the mood takes me. See my latest comment policy for details. I am not a pseudonomous-American: my real name is Larry.

Comments may be moderated from time to time. When I do moderate comments, anonymous comments are far more likely to be rejected.

I've already answered some typical comments.

I have jqMath enabled for the blog. If you have a dollar sign (\$) in your comment, put a \\ in front of it: \\\$, unless you want to include a formula in your comment.