Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The last refuge of a scoundrel

When those who would suppress the expression of other opinions adopt the rhetoric of pluralism to defend their positions, it means they already know they've lost, and are making a final desperate stand before they join the Sadducees and the Essenes on the losing side of history.

"There will come a time when Lord Voldemort will seem to fear for the life of his snake."
"For Nagini?" Snape looked astonished.
"Precisely. If there comes a time when Lord Voldemort stops sending that snake forth to do his bidding, but keeps it safe beside him, under magical protection, then, I think, it will be safe to tell Harry."


  1. Mind telling us the context?

  2. BZ is clearly talking about those JTS students who use 'pluralism' as their excuse to celebrate the anniversary of the ruling on ordination of gay rabbis without providing for their host institution to articulate an alternative viewpoint.

  3. Ha ha, but no. The power dynamics of the situation don't lend themselves to moral equivalency. Machon [sic] Schechter has the power to articulate whatever viewpoints it wants whenever it wants, and frequently does so.

    The students in question never actually invoked "pluralism", nor do they need any "excuse" to hold an event in parallel with this week's celebration at JTS. (In fact, we don't hear from the students at all in the JPost article; the article is primarily cribbed from Dolores Umbridge's press release, which is full of misinformation about what actually happened.) The event was not a "personal celebration with their friends" or a "ceremony", but was a lunch-and-learn with an opportunity to hear Yonatan Gher about his personal experiences (and incidentally, he had uniformly positive things to say about his experiences in the Masorti movement). The event was not sponsored by Schechter, and was never intended to be a Schechter-sponsored event. It was organized independently by JTS students, who asked permission to hold the event on the Schechter premises, and then held the event elsewhere when this permission was denied.

    The craziest thing is that the Schechter administration issued a press release merely to say that they had denied permission to hold this event on the Schechter grounds. Were it not for this press release, the whole episode would have passed without public attention. (The students did not contact the media about the event.) The insecurity displayed by Schechter in going to the media to trumpet their response to their own students who they felt stepped out of line is a sign of deep deep desperation. (If the students had gone to an Orthodox institution asking permission to hold this event there, the answer would likely have been no, but I can't imagine the Orthodox institution would then have sent out a press release or claimed that their no answer had anything to do with "pluralism".)

  4. The students in question never actually invoked "pluralism"

    ...regardless of how the Israeli student quoted in the article characterized them.

  5. Orthodox institutions invoke "pluralism" all the time to defend their decisions to forbid certain behavior because of "frummest common denominator" rationales. They just call it "yotzei kol hadeiot" or "we're trying to make everyone comfortable." Meaning comfortable (as you have noted in your pluralism series) for the people who already have power and/or are already privileged by the established 'norms.'

  6. This is obviously off topic, but AddeRabbi:
    1. Since when is restricting the rights of others pluralistic? I don't really think any pluralist would say yeah, sure, lets give the Klan an opportunity to demonstrate in front of any civil rights march?
    2. Since when does a student group need to give their institution an opportunity to respond to anything? they're nothing but a student group!

    Also, why does machon schechter not understand they are completely irrelevant to the ISraeli public: the datiim think they're in there naked (except for talitot on women) eating pork cheeseburgers, and the chilonim think they're inauthentic backward half-religious idiots.
    They issued a press release to placate a public that doesn't exist.

  7. DafKesher:

  8. Using Harry Potter is very creative...nice.