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    some recent posts on the forums pages...

    Michael Bellefeuille
    Aug 24, '05 9:24 AM EST

    Well, I always forget to make new entries here, but I love to post on the forum pages when I'm "working," so here are a few posts. Check out the actual discussions to get the context and other points of view. I'd love to get some feedback too...

    on the state of politics from Cindy "I don't respsect my son's decisions" Sheehan post:

    Pasha, I agree with you that conservatives are in the middle. however, the people who call themselves conservatives today are not true conservatives. for a few years, I tried to call myself conservative, but gave up after having to explain the differences between my view of conservativism and that of the "Christian Right" and those currently in power in the US.

    True conservatives would favor individual freedom, limited government (but government where necessary, which usually means helping those most in need), and restrictions on businesses when such is necessary to protect the common good. Just look at a true conservative (who was also a progressive), Theodore Roosevelt.

    The neo-cons, who are the ones people usually refer to when they say "conservative" these days, do not favor any of these things. They are unwaveringly pro-big business (subsidizing oil, not closing tax loopholes...) and pro-big goverment (Patriot Act, adding unneccessary amendments to the Constitution, revoking state's rights...) and, I don't know how to phrase this one really, but anti-individual freedom (anti-gay marriage, anti-separation of church and state...)

    I agree that there can be some "irresponsible personal freedoms." While I'm not a fan of abortion, I'm not exactly sure how it's my right to restrict someone from having one. I guess this could be considered an "irresponsible personal freedom," and perhaps doing something to encourage fewer abortions would be a good thing. But how is it my right to say that this is an irresponsible personal freedom? You see that's the problem with "conservatives" today.. they're not conservative at all. A true conservative allows the individual to define morality for him/herself, so long as it does not infringe on someone else's rights, etc. Neo-cons today are seeking to enforce a twisted, literalist interpretation of Christianity on everyone. Gay marriage will not harm society, so why should gays be allowed to marry? No one's saying that religious organizations have to recognize these unions, just the government. That's the arguement. Government should not be in the business of regulating morality. No true conservative would ever argue differently. Government should exist only to protect rights and offer necessary services. That's a true conservative stance and it's right in the middle, as you said, Pasha. But until true conservatives can take back that term, which has been hijacked by a fundamentalist, pro-business group then the term is meaningless. There is nothing tolerant about the neo-con position. and it's true that herds develop, but having a forced morality won't change this, and besides an unregulated conformity is at least better than an enforced conformity.

    So-called conservatives today are anything but centrist, though they would like to appear to be. They are far right and seek to create a state that is at best a quasi-theocracy and at worst fascism. (again, I'm not saying they're actually fascists)

    Check out this article too if you've got time. it's sort of off topic, but not entirely...

    "What Fundamentalists Need for their Salvation"


    I don't know where the center is, but neither do you, and I hate to say this, but you were the one who first suggested where the center was. I doubt there is a true center and if there is, no one can define it for anyone but themselves--just as no one can define what morality is for anyone but themselves.

    I make less of that passage than I make of "Blessed are the peacemakes" and countless other references Jesus made to love of one another, forgiveness of sins (defining morality for others according to your fallible interpretation is "throwing the first stone") and the righteousness of the downtrodden. The way I interpret that passage you posted is that Christ is saying that his message of peace and love will not necessarily create peace and love universally among men. There are many who oppose him and his call to charity, poverty and piety, and that opposition will not cause peace. That's just my persoanl interpretation, but it's the only way I can see to fit a rather unusual statement in the New Testament within Christ's larger message of love and holiness. The idea that that passage means that Christ, the Prince of Peace, was promoting, seeking or even condoning violence is absurd and anti-Christian. Furthermore, that very passage points out that while there will be consequences for not seeking God, it is still up to the individual to freely determine whether or not he/she will indeed seek God. Jesus was not saying that anyone on earth should be forced (by God, much less a government) to live according to his moral code, only that there would be consequences in the hereafter for not doing so.

    I should have noted that the article I linked to is far from perfect and I disagree with many aspects of it, but it makes a good point that, though obvious in my opinion, is rarely made, which is that many of these conservatives are essentially "throwing the first stones" while disregarding the most fundamental aspects of Christ's message.

    Both the article's imperfections and the imperfections of the Christian Right and Neo-Conservatives are excellent examples of why government and others should not be allowed to force their morality onto the public. We are all imperfect and flawed; and we all define morality and ethics differently, and unless our morality or ethics infringe on the rights of others, we should not be able to regulate each other's morality. That's my argument and the argument of secularism. It's not atheism or moral bankruptcy, just freedom.

    You may like the idea of the government defining what is ethical and moral (I think there is some distinction between the two, but I'm not exactly sure what it is... maybe there isn't), but what happens when a government comes to power that you disagree with and it seeks to enforce its morality? The idea of whether or not the government should define morality is a fundamental one, and fundamental differences are obviously the most difficult to resolve. I think our differnces of opinion on this matter are really a microcosm of the larger debate in America today, whether its bill that way by the media and interest groups or not.

    Still, in my opinion, I cannot manage to find any way to view a government that regulates or defines morality as a true democracy, whether it is a government made up of elected representatives or not. (A democracy is not just a government by majority rule, but also one that protects minority rights). In my view, any government that seeks to regulate or define morality is either a fascist one or a theocratic one. (A communist government, though also morally bankrupt, would be one that does not seek to define morality, but one that seeks to eliminate it, I think). I believe there can be such a thing as a fascist or theocratic pseudo-democracy, and a government that regulates morality based on majority views or the dominant religion would be one. That doesn't make it a true democracy, however, and I would argue that any government seeking to regulate or define morality would be, rather ironically, immoral itself.


    on architecture from tiring architects vs. real architects:

    I agree with what most of you are saying... I, myself, am often pretty hard on Gehry without having much in depth knowledge of him and his work. I understand aspects of where he's coming from and what he's trying to do, but I have some criticisms of him that I won't get into here. I think being the object of "bashing" is part of what must and always does come with being the most well-known person in a field. You're going to be held to a higher standard and have more asked of you by more people than anyone else.

    That having been said, I have to disgaree with something citizen said, or at least how I interpreted it. I am a student now and will admit to being a bit naive and idealistic still, which I think is fine as a student. I have plenty of criticisms about the aesthetics (which I'm sure I am mispelling right now) of most things being built now, but moreso the way we're building. The small office where I'm interning this summer is 25 years old and I've had plenty of time organizing old files to see all sorts of projects built in all the periods between 1980 and the present. Not only have I found that I appreciate the aesthetics of many of the older projects, but moreso even the way they were planned. They were designed not just as pretty buildings, but as liveable spaces that changed the built environment for the better. Many of the recent and current projects still do this, but often less so or in a less profound way. Some don't do it at all.

    I guess I feel like my minimal experience within this office and my understanding of much of the architectural profession is that we're settling for less; just doing the same things over and over and putting less effort into it. The bold architectural expression and experimentation of early decades by both big name and unknown architects seems to been diminishing, and this cannot be good. I know that I have not built anything yet and that I have very little experience outside of architecture school, but the problem as I see it is that we are being expressive and philosophical about architecture in school and then forgetting it and becoming merely a necessary step for developers and the like once we get out into the workplace. I realize this is an over-simplification, but I don't think it's fair to dismiss students merely because they are students. There is a lot of promise in architecture schools now and I think it would be a real shame to see it squandered on the types of buildings being designed on a large scale in the world today.

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