Definitions of terrorism poured in for the benefit of the "Readme" audience. The "Dialogue" on patriotic songs was also contentious—"Thankfully no one has suggested we ought to have a national anthem we can dance to, not even in The Fray," Joseph Britt said. And "The Breakfast Table" proved controversial this week, for some reason …
Subject: Perspective on Terrorism
Re: "Readme: Defining Terrorism"
Date: Thu Oct 4 8:28 p.m. PT
What's wrong with defining terrorism as "violence committed against innocent civilians for political reasons"? Originally the word was used to describe the actions of the revolutionary French government against their own citizens, so it wasn't originally confined to actions committed by non-governmental agents. Of course, as Kinsley mentions, the "problem" is that such a definition would include a great many actions supported or committed by the United States. I have no problem with that. Sooner or later (usually about 100 years after the fact, so that no one alive at the time can squawk about it), we recognize that some American action was a monstrous crime. I'd prefer we recognize it sooner rather than later.
Subject: Perspective on Islam
Re: "Today's Papers: Recovering All Bases"
Date: Thu Oct 4 12:26 p.m. PT
Muslim countries do tend to be undemocratic [but] 25 years ago, one might easily have said the same thing about Spanish-speaking countries, which were almost all ruled by military strongmen at the time (including Spain itself, under Franco, until 1975). Did this mean there was something about Hispanic culture antithetical to democracy? It certainly doesn't look that way today, when most of those countries are democratic.
Subject: Truth on the Web
Re: "Tangled Web: 4,000 Jews, 1 Lie"
From: The Bell
Date: Mon Oct 8 8:52 a.m. PT
I continue to remain amazed and amused how people who are completely cynical to virtually anything they hear on network and cable television and/or printed media, accept virtually anything they learn through the Internet as truth. This phenomenon intensifies with e-mail chains. … The only thing the 4,000 Jews story was missing was the promise of a free trip to Disney World or 1,000 free minutes of long distance if you just forwarded it to 10 of your friends.
Subject: Deconstructing "Covert"
Re: "Explainer: How Overt Are Covert Operations?"
Date: Mon Oct 1 3:40 p.m. PT
I think that "covert" has become less a secrecy classification than a brand name, and that, as a brand name, it has to be put before the public on a relatively continuous basis to stay "on message." The word, you see, no longer means what it denotatively stands for (i.e., "secret"), but what it connotatively implies, which is sniper rifles, laser sights, night-vision assassination missions and general high-tech butt-kicking of the sort featured in action-adventure movies. Thus, when the President alludes to "covert" or "clandestine" operations, he doesn't mean that they're "secret" (the very notion is absurd!). Rather, all he means is that they're going to kick some butt.
A producer from the Evolution TV series came to argue with Chris Mooney's "Darwin's Sanitized Idea." Susan K. Lewis says the series did explore Darwin's "complex struggle with religious faith." Mr. Mooney defended his review here.
The Ghost of a-z claimed to find his/her favorite ever Slate sentence in Dahlia Lithwick's "Supreme Court Dispatch": "Even sexy corn cannot keep them awake." The Ghost is ever one for a contest, but it is left to us to suggest that we will read your nominations for favorite sentence (whether from an article or a Fray post) with interest. The same poster got an enormous response by listing "My favorite five non-star posters." We're filleting the thread for names to watch out for.
Ender is worried about the Fray Search Engine: We're all hoping it will be back very soon, and if anything can restore it to life, Ender, your post might do it.