The Week: Most Recent from Damon Linker recent posts.en-usFri, 19 Dec 2014 06:08:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent from Damon Linker from THE WEEKFri, 19 Dec 2014 06:08:00 -0500Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.<img src="" /></P><p><em>Rolling Stone</em>'s catastrophic journalistic malfeasance in the UVA rape story is unquestionably the Big Media Scandal of the past two months. But surely a little attention must also be paid to <em>The New York Times</em>, which last week pronounced on the front page that Pope Francis told a boy that he would see his dog in heaven &mdash; when, in fact, the pope said no such thing.</p><p>Far more interesting to me than the question of how such a mistake could have been made by America's newspaper of record was the giddy reaction to the story in the days before it was revealed to be false. The guy who tweeted, ...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:08:00 -0500The age of miracles is over -- even for the religious<img src="" /></P><p>The modern world can be hard on devout religious believers. Its pluralism denies any one faith the power to organize the whole of social life. Its skepticism about authority undermines the efforts of churches to impose doctrinal discipline on their own members, let alone impose it on those outside the fold. Its economic dynamism unleashes human appetites, and gives individuals the freedom to choose among an ever-expanding range of ways to satisfy them. And its deference to scientific methods of determining the truth erodes received scriptural and theological beliefs.</p><p>All of this tends to place...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 17 Dec 2014 06:07:00 -0500Dick Cheney's America is an ugly place<img src="" /></P><p>I used to like Dick Cheney.</p><p>I can still remember watching him on NBC's <em>Meet the Press</em> back in the early 1990s, when he was serving as defense secretary under President George H. W. Bush. Whether he was talking about the collapse of the Soviet Union or making the case for expelling Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait, Cheney was impressive. Unlike so many career politicians and Washington bureaucrats, he came off as charming, sober, smart, unflappable, and sincere.</p><p>Today? Well, I'll give him this: He still seems sincere.</p><p>Some day I hope some psychologically gifted writer will turn his attention...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 16 Dec 2014 06:02:00 -05003 points in the CIA torture report that ought to make conservatives livid -- but probably won't<img src="" /></P><p>Is 21st-century American conservatism a principled, thoughtful ideology that consistently applies its ideals across a range of cases and revises its judgments in the light of confounding facts?</p><p>Or is it a thuggish, tribal mentality that places fear, ruthless power, narrow-minded nationalism, and bald-faced partisanship above consistency and principle?</p><p>If you had any doubts about the answer, the reaction of the right to the Senate Intelligence Committee's torture report settles the matter.</p><p>Want proof? Let's consider three aspects of the report that should (but in all likelihood won't) prompt...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Thu, 11 Dec 2014 06:05:00 -0500What the haters don't understand about The New Republic<img src="" /></P><p>Let's take a moment to imagine an alternative American reality.</p><p>In this imaginary America, there are two ideologically pure political parties &mdash; the Liberty Party and the Equality Party.</p><p>The Liberty Party opposes government power everywhere except where it is absolutely necessary &mdash; mainly a minimal military for national defense (just big enough to protect the borders of the United States from invasion by foreign armies), and national infrastructure projects too large in cost and extent for any private entity to undertake. Other than that, the Liberty Party advocates allowing the private...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 09 Dec 2014 06:04:00 -0500Leon Wieseltier: The last of the New York intellectuals<img src="" /></P><p>So this is how it ends &mdash; not with a bang or a whimper, but a bloodbath.</p><p>When all the gossipy stories about the death of <em>The New Republic</em> (where I was a contributing editor until last week) have been written, when the news of its demise has ceased to shock, and when Frank Foer and the other good and talented people who resigned rather than transform the magazine into a "vertically integrated digital media company" have landed elsewhere &mdash; then we will be faced with the grim prospect of tallying what our culture lost last week. And that is when, I hope, Leon Wieseltier, who served as...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Mon, 08 Dec 2014 06:03:00 -0500The lesson of Eric Garner: No more get-out-of-jail-free cards for cops<img src="" /></P><p>I certainly didn't expect vindication quite <em>this</em> soon.</p><p>Just over a week ago, in the wake of the non-indictment of officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed Michael Brown, I wrote a column in which I asked why it's so hard to secure indictments for police officers who kill unarmed suspects, and I suggested that it might be because Americans on the whole defer too much to the cops. I concluded by calling on prosecutors and citizens impaneled on grand juries to stop giving them quite so much benefit of the doubt.</p><p>Well, it hasn't happened yet.</p><p>Writing an indignant column about the non...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 05 Dec 2014 06:07:00 -0500No, I'm not the Rick Santorum of punditry<img src="" /></P><p>The young, punky Elvis Costello once claimed that his "ultimate vocation in life is to be an irritant."</p><p>Judging from some recent Facebook and Twitter comments, many of my liberal readers and friends apparently think something similar about me &mdash; at least when I write about what I call moral libertarianism.</p><p>Why, these readers wonder, do I continually highlight such trends as the acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, polyandry, the mainstreaming of porn, consensual brother-sister incest, and bestiality, while also insinuating that they're all somehow connected? In doing so, aren...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Thu, 04 Dec 2014 06:10:00 -0500Could religion survive contact with extraterrestrials?<img src="" /></P><p>I'll be honest with you: I think it's extremely unlikely that humanity will ever make contact with intelligent life from another planet. I possess no special expertise on the subject. It's just that my inveterate skepticism tells me that the stupefying vastness of space combined with the relative rarity of evolution producing species capable of interstellar communication &mdash; let alone travel &mdash; will make such contact extremely unlikely.</p><p>My skepticism isn't widely shared. Aside from the UFO industrial complex and the enormous number of science-fiction novels, films, and television franchises...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 02 Dec 2014 05:57:00 -0500After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops<img src="" /></P><p>Several years ago, a friend of mine was pulled over by the police a few blocks from her house in Milwaukee while driving home from the airport following a business trip. Her crime? A few unpaid parking tickets. When my friend expressed dismay that they would bother to pull her over for such a minor infraction, the cops called for a paddy wagon. When it arrived, they told her to exit her car, handcuffed her, and shoved her into the van. Stunned, my friend first offered to write a check for the unpaid tickets. When that didn't win her release, she became agitated, asking about her rights as a citizen...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500Is it now OK to have sex with animals?<img src="" /></P><p>I have a very 2014 question for you: How would you respond if you found out that a man living down the street regularly has sexual intercourse with a horse?</p><p>Would you be morally disgusted? Consider him and his behavior an abomination? Turn him in to the police? (This would be an option in the roughly three-quarters of states that &mdash; for now &mdash; treat bestiality as a felony or misdemeanor.)</p><p>Or would you perhaps suppress your gag reflex and try hard to be tolerant, liberal, affirming, supportive? Maybe you'd even utter the slogan that deserves to be emblazoned over our age as its all-purpose...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 25 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500It's official: The religious right is calling it quits<img src="" /></P><p>What a difference 10 years can make.</p><p>In the weeks following George W. Bush's re-election to the presidency in November 2004, with exit polls saying that the election had been decided by voters who were moved primarily by "moral values," the religious right felt giddy. Its push to get states to adopt referenda banning same-sex marriage had been wildly successful and helped to mobilize conservatives. With the greatest political champion the movement had ever known assured of four more years in the White House, the religious right began to dream of passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:04:00 -0500Let us now praise Billy Joel<img src="" /></P><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false"></iframe></p><p>Read more on this story.</p><p>Listen to a Billy Joel podcast comprising the songs Damon Linker mentions:</p><p><iframe width="300" height="380" src="" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"></iframe></p><p><strong>Listen to more of</strong> <strong><em>The Week</em>'s mini podcasts</strong>:</p><ul><li>Rise of the machines</li><li>Your weekly streaming recommendation: <em>Nebraska</em><em><br /></em></li><li>This week I learned a major U.S airline once settled a legal dispute with arm wrestling, and more</li></ul><p> </p><p ><strong>*You can also find <em>The Week</em>'s mini podcasts on iTunes, SoundCloud, and TuneIn.*</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:20:00 -0500On immigration, Obama is flirting with tyranny<img src="" /></P><p>A democracy dies by a thousand cuts. A particularly deep one may come later this week, administered by none other than Barack Obama.</p><p>As has been widely reported for months, the president plans to make "changes to the immigration enforcement system" that "could offer legal documents to as many as five million immigrants in the country illegally." And as <em>New York Times</em> columnist Ross Douthat has provocatively and persuasively explained &mdash; often in painstaking and illuminating exchanges with Obama's defenders &mdash; those changes would constitute an unprecedented and quite likely unconstitutional...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 18 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0500Is devout faith a blessing -- or curse?<img src="" /></P><p>Among the devoutly religious &mdash; fervently pious Catholics, fundamentalist Protestants, Salafist Muslims, ultra-orthodox Jews &mdash; you'll sometimes hear it said that the rampant anxiety, depression, and other forms of emotional suffering in modernity are a product of the decline of faith.</p><p>"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you." That's how St. Augustine famously put it: we want, we crave, we long for God, with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might. When we find him, we rejoice, at last feeling at home in the comforting arms of a...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 14 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500The 3 best arguments against legalizing pot -- and why they all fail<img src="" /></P><p>America is going to pot &mdash; and no one much seems to care.</p><p>Sure, Florida opted on Election Day not to take the plunge into full marijuana legalization, but that made the state an exception to the trend. Oregon and Alaska (along with the District of Columbia) joined Colorado and Washington state in permitting the recreational use of marijuana. Together with the states that already allow pot for medical purposes, that's a total of 23 states with some form of legal weed.</p><p>As with the lightning-fast evolution of the country on gay marriage, the change in judgments about pot use has been accomplished...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 12 Nov 2014 06:06:00 -0500