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Culture is the Problem

Part of this post has been copy pasted from a Facebook discussion but not the majority of it.

A strange thing that I have noticed in many western liberals, and I find it perplexing, is a respect for culture as a concept. Personally not only I think culture is not a good thing, I think it’s the real source of all our problems, at least here in Middle East.

Some liberals cringe whenever someone compares developed countries to underdeveloped countries unfavorably to the latter, calling it racist or imperialistic or whatever. One of the most infamous examples is Richard Dawkins’s tweet which mentions that one university has more Nobel laureates than the entire Muslim countries, and while that may not be a good criterion and we can discuss this, what Dawkins clearly means is that Muslim countries are backwards. I’m putting it bluntly, but it’s true. Of course Muslim countries are backward, of course they centuries behind the West and Asian countries like Japan and South Korea. And not only in science, in EVERYTHING. Look at every and single statistics and mention one that we are not in a toilet. I think anyone denying this fact has reality issues.

You may say “Well this is the fault of colonialism”, or ascribe any reason to it, and I guess your reason is true to an extent. This is a valid debate, however if you want to claim that underdeveloped countries are not underdeveloped is simply wrong. Like westerners objecting to the term “third world”. If there’s any problem with “third world” it is that it’s to charitable to shitholes like Iran, and it’s unfair to many much more developed countries, and there are countries in worse shape than Iran out there.

To me, the main culprit is culture. Our culture.

Culture can mean three things. First is the canon of literature and philosphy and other human intellectual pursuits, like what Arnold advocates for in Culture and Anarchy. Clearly we’re not talking about that. Second meaning is foods and clothes and stupid holidays. We’re not talking about those either, they’re inconsequential shit, and although people with their tribalist mentality give them value while they’re entirely worthless, at least they’re not harmful and we can leave people play with them.

The third meaning of culture is the series of rules and values that govern people meaning, and that’s the main cause of all problems in the world. Religion and nationalism are a root of a lot of evil, and they’re both two claws of this fascist entity. Both religion and nationalism are aspects of culture. Racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia are also culture. So I have no idea why atheist globalist feminist equalist people try hard to defend the root cause of all their enemies, it’s like an anti-Catholic person trying to attack everyone except Vatican.

And I don’t think there’s any difference between Western and Eastern cultures on this. Western culture is Christian sexism and fascism and Eastern culture is Muslim or Hindu or whatever sexism and fascism. The differences between the religions is trivial, all of them are about obeying and collective and traits one is born with, all of them opposed to individualism and liberty and equality.

Now I know all these cultures have small and inconsequential differences, but as far as I’m concerned they’re all the same in the areas that matter.

The difference between western countries and our countries is that western countries have been luckier, they have had philosophers who brought them the ideas of liberty and equality and individuality, and the inevitable destruction of culture has begun there, after which another global culture will prevail. We have followed down the same road, but we’re behind. We have actually progressed faster than the west, as I a very young person can see Iran getting more and more democratic in culture in my lifetime, but west had had a huge head-start, so “backwards” is exactly the correct term – we’re advancing towards the same goal and the same ideal society but we’re behind, and we will catch up one day.

This is not because of an inherent difference between our people and the west but because we have been unlucky. We used to be more advanced than the west in some period in history, but we’re behind now.

Now these western liberal I bemoan will say no, we have our own culture and we need to follow our path and it’s “imperialistic” for us to dream to be freer and more economically prosperous because these are “western values”. I feel no kinship with these liberals and they are not my allies. They are tribalist, and think our tribes (nations and cultures are only over-glorified savage tribes), should determine our destiny and if I am an Iranian this should determine my life and my values, and they are defending the main cause of all social evil which is culture.

This can of course get prettier and more academic when people talk of “identity”.

But what I like about Dawkins is that he says “fuck your culture”. Yes, culture is the root of the problem. Not the regime, not the wars, not the poverty, all of those are symptoms, the disease is the culture. But almost all western thinkers I see have a reverential regard for these backward and authoritarian cultures, and it either becomes or approaches tribalism. And it is really frustrating because westerners have rebelled against their own cultures to a successful degree. When Christian fundies say our culture is being destroyed because of the expansion of women and gay rights they are RIGHT. I despise the “Let us all get along” attitude of westerners. A politician is supposed to reform things slowly and from within, but an intellectual is supposed to take on the real enemy that is culture. All I see the western intellectuals do is to take shit on people who actually do this like Obama because he hasn’t been a Messiah solving all problems with a snap of his fingers.

I think Muslim reformists themselves have a better track record than most western atheists. Mousavi himself keeps saying our real task is to change our culture, and one of the clerics said “our fight against the regime is the minor jihad and the fight against the culture is the major jihad”. Muslim reformists disagree with me about the role of Islam but they agree that our culture is the problem, and that is why I have always found them closer to me than western atheists.

Of course I’m very radical on this, reformists vary extensively. I say we need to take culture and flush it down the toilet eventually, some of them think our culture is good and needs to be reformed, and I have no issues with that. What I mean is that we all agree that our culture is troublesome and our real problem is the culture. All of them agree changing the regime won’t change shit until people’s culture also changes. They are my allies because we are on the different scales of the same thought process.

I’m not a fan of our”identity” and I am as willing to preserve it as much as I plan to protect rabies.

Comments

  1. colnago80 says

    Kaveh, the Christian theocrats in the US and the Jewish theocrats in Israel would turn those countries into shitholes if they prevail.

    Actually, Dawkins could have made his statement about Nobel Prize winners even worse by pointing out that one high school in New York City, the Bronx School of Science, has graduated more Nobel Prize winners in the sciences then in the entire Muslim world (9 vs 2). What’s even sadder is that both Muslim laureates spent their entire productive careers in the West, Pakistani Abdus Salam in English universities and in his own institute in Trieste, Italy while Egyptian Ahmed Zewail spent his entire active career (which is still ongoing) at the California Institute of Technology.

    As I have pointed out to you an an earlier comment on another thread, the antecedents of this sorry state of affairs didn’t start in the recent past. It goes all the way back to al-Ghazali in the 11th century CE. Commentary on him by Neil Tyson and Steven Weinberg can be found on Youtube. Before his influence helped stop the advance of scientific knowledge in the Islamic World, Baghdad was the intellectual center of the world, while Europe was suffering through the Dark Ages. There are all too many al-Ghazalis in the US and Israel at the present time and all too many politicians eager to pander to them.

  2. says

    All cultures should be open to criticism, and evaluated on their merits.

    On the other hand I don’t think Twitter is the best medium for that! Even if Dawkins did have a point, a tweet was an absurd way to make it.

  3. Matt G says

    There are plenty of subcultures in the West that are deserving of criticism: rednecks, men’s rights groups, creationists, “family values” groups, etc. Similarly there is (or was) a strongly progressive academic subculture in Iran.

    • Kaveh Mousavi says

      No there isn’t. Academic people are as diverse as other people, most of them are racist and close minded.

      • brucegee1962 says

        Actually, that hasn’t been my experience in the U.S. Perhaps due to the fact that the conservatives have been making the “elite” into their enemies for the last decade or so, and the way in which they cut education funding whenever they get the chance, in my experience (as a college professor), support for conservatives amongst college faculty is currently at an all-time low. At my college, you might find one in twenty who would publicly confess to voting Republican, if that.

        Conservatives, of course, complain bitterly about the liberal bias of most large universities. It’s one of the few things they’ve got right — but after all, they’re the ones who always are talking about people acting in their own economic self interest.

        • Kaveh Mousavi says

          I was talking about Iran.

          There’s a real progressive student movement, but they are not the majority of students.

          • Karakal says

            Hello, I don’t know how I got here but I agree with you 100%. You perfectly stated my opinion on culture, getting along and shit. I find the position of some western people racist, because it’s like they don’t want others to liberate themselves from the constraints of their culture and only them deserve to do that. Only them are entitled to these ”values” when in fact, these ARE universal.
            By the way… how the environment it’s like in iranian universities? Are students more prone to hold western values? That’s the most important thing because I don’t really care if their clothes are modern, it’s says nothing about their mentality. What values are behind the clothes? Could you please explain to us what’s the prevalent ideology behind these students and are they likely to turn non-religious after attending university?

  4. Pen says

    When I read your post, Kaveh, I can’t even understand if we’re using the word culture in the same way. To me, culture is a completely inseparable part of being human. It means everything about us that isn’t biologically determined. No human can not have one.

    I can’t understand if you realize this and you’re complaining about specific cultures or whether you really think ‘culture is shit’ and you’re somehow able to imagine not having one at all. Everything just seems tangled together here, the whole relationship between the individual and the collectivity, the state of cultures and changes within them, where and how changes come from and what their consequences are.

    • sonofrojblake says

      Perhaps you missed this:

      the inevitable destruction of culture has begun [in the West], after which another global culture will prevail

      Personally after the comma I’d like to have seen the word “culture” given an initial capital…

      • Pen says

        What? Just what?

        Now I’ll admit that we’re about as ignorant about culture today as the 18th century was about biological evolution, but all of that reaches new heights of incoherence.

    • atheist says

      @Pen – July 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm (UTC 0)

      You and I have the same understanding of culture, Pen. Culture may be a problem, but it also something that nourishes us. Outside of some kind of culture, our individuality would be irrelevant.

  5. says

    In a subtle sense, this excessive respect for the backward aspects of non-Western cultures could be considered racist. Back when the West was dominated by Christianity, it was dirty and disease-ridden, convulsed by incredibly violent religious wars, and brutally repressive of homosexuals, women who didn’t stay submissive, and independent thinkers. We don’t consider those things inherent in Western culture, and modern liberals are proud of the fact that we’ve overcome them. By treating the same traits as immutable or praiseworthy in non-Western cultures, they’re really saying that non-Western people can’t, or shouldn’t, achieve the same self-liberation from them that we have — that they’re less capable or worthy of freedom than we are.

    I do think this attitude is becoming less pervasive with time among Western liberals, and many will retreat from it when directly challenged. But we need to keep challenging it. I’ve made the point that the struggle between secular modernity and what I call “malignant traditionalism” (including religion) is basically the same fight all over the world, even if the reactionary forces are much stronger in some countries than others.

    • atheist says

      @ Infidel753 – July 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm (UTC 0)

      I think you’re confusing a demand for empathy with a defense of traditionalism.

  6. Jeff_onislam says

    Many factors you mention are involved in the worldly unrest as you’ve pointed out.
    I think differences in culture are for the most part a good thing; excepting ones that cause abuse to other cultures or peoples. And while I agree that nationalism and religions can appear to be the root of evil; many or even most times they are not the root. And I completely disagree with your statement that religions are evil. Far from it; most religions preach and practice against evil. There are nations misled by the wrong leaders at a given time but not representative of its people. Even in America, once someone is elected, that leader may “dictate” an order of war or some other action that is totally out of the control or desire of its people. We then have to wait four years to get that person out of office and hope that the next candidate is not lying to us about his/her belief system as our most recent leaders do. I’m afraid for America and the world because America is no longer ran by morally decent people as it had been “much of the time”. Sadly many of America’s peoples are also morally bankrupt and are those same immoral or at the very least uninformed peoples whose vote elects the immoral liars. We no longer have honest news media either, so many people never know the truth about political people they support. Most Americans are good, decent people though. Just some are glazed over and beguiled by the shroud and promises by evil at the moment.
    There are evil actions performed “in the name of” a religion. It does not make the religion evil or the source of evil. For example, we have lying dirtbags here in America who call themselves “Reverend”. Some of those people are no more a Reverend than I am and perhaps even less so. They lie for a living and to support their non-religious agenda. If I were someone interested in religion, I might say to myself, “that religion is full of liars, so why should I be interested”.
    Bottom line; if a religion or state kills or advocates killing; that is evil. “Though shalt not kill”; “love thy neighbor as thyself”; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” would go a long way in this world.
    THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
    Any book or person that says for one human being to kill another, is a book of evil or a person influenced by Satan. These ideas are so self evident that I think it does take excessive cultural brain-washing to have someone believe that killing by order of a book or some authority’s decree and most of all, against our natural human grasp of right and wrong is the greatest of evil. And before you say it – “yes, the U.S. military kills”. My hope has always been that if we have to, we do so in self-defense. I personally wish America would be much more restrained about getting into the affairs of other nations. However, where terrorism is concerned; when peoples say they are going to kill us and do kill us; then I personally would fight a war with that entity until it were destroyed.

    just my opinion, if this intolerant world allows me to have one.

  7. Pen says

    Let me try and approach the topic this way. Like most people, I am not in any way a cultural relativist. I think evidence-based cultures are best and I strongly subscribe to a notion of human equality (the details don’t matter). That rules out all religion-based cultures as good.

    But then I try to apply that evidence-based approach to culture and cultural change as best I can. (I have a degree in that field, which makes me a bit more than an amateur, but frankly, our level of certainty about anything in this area is weak). To me, the evidence suggests that ‘Fuck your culture!’ rarely if ever has progressive results, that revolutionary approaches to cultural change usually result in bloodbaths and that the attempted imposition of cultural change from outside is rarely more than skin deep and generally leads to a backlash. Even criticism is shown by some research to strengthen the views of those at whom it is directed.

    Apart from that, all cultures have cultural methods of bringing about and resisting change. It’s worth noting some of the western approaches – as Kaveh notes, it’s unlikely they’re completely separate from any advantages westerners may enjoy. They include systematic tolerance of a wide variety of beliefs, developed by common consent among the elites, specifically to avoid pointless bloodbaths and rebellions and the sense of martyrdom that fuels them. Also, the west is noted for its individualism and cultural change is often promoted by humanizing or de-humanizing individuals, by emphasizing or de-emphasizing their connection with other people who don’t share some aspect of their culture. We see this with gays, women, the poor and disabled, atheists… From my point of view, this has nothing whatsoever to do with evidence-based culture, but barring future change, it is what it is. There is also a strong assumption (perhaps rooted in the rationalism of the Enlightenment or capitalism or both) that the best way to modify people’s behavior is to present them with a clear advantage to themselves.

    It seems uncertain how easily any of these western approaches to internal cultural change transfer to other cultures. Methods of cultural change by ‘conversion’ are also at work in the West but less mainstream. They may be more typical of other cultures and there may be other approaches. At any rate, I do think these western approaches add up to most of what Kaveh calls ‘respect for other cultures’.

    • Kaveh Mousavi says

      I have never said I think we can change culture in a revolution. Penn is right about authoritarian people who tried to manufacture culture from above, I completely agree that culture should change slowly and during centuries, by convincing one person at a time.

      But why I think it’s useful? This is copy/pasted from a Facebook discussion:

      However, there’s this use to ask people to “mind their culture”. People usually try to blame everything on things other than themselves. Like, if the regime falls, paradise automatically follows, if you just remove the colonial power, whatever.

      One of the major crusades of people like me is against those people, to say “No, we need to change OURSELVES, even if the Islamic Republic falls tomorrow we won’t have democracy because Islamic Republic is a symptom of an authoritarian culture”.

      Western liberals whom I decry in this post enforce these people who want to say all problems are confined to the regime and people are saints, and this is the root cause I have issue with them.

      • says

        Western liberals whom I decry in this post enforce these people who want to say all problems are confined to the regime and people are saints…

        Again, I have to ask which Western liberals you’re talking about.

  8. says

    It seems to me that it remains very much an open question how best to transform a culture so as to replace its traditional values (e.g. sexism, heterosexism, religious privilege, adherence to faith-based moral codes, etc.) with enlightenment values (e.g. sexual equality, LGBT equality, religious neutrality, ethical free inquiry, etc.). We have seen European nations and their cultural progeny make great strides in all these areas, but we have only rarely and more recently seen these enlightenment ideals successfully exported to other cultures. What cultural path are you hoping to see Iran take in the future? Have other culturally-comparable nations already mapped it out?

    • Kaveh Mousavi says

      Well, I don’t think they can be exported, I think they should grow organically.

      I think we have made great strides too, but we are behind. Like, if you compare Iran with Iran ten years ago, the cultural progress is amazing, but if you compare it with USA, it lags seriously behind.

      So I’m very hopeful that enlightenment will prevail here too.

  9. Jeff_fl says

    Recognizing that cultural differences are a problem is in my view a broader manifestation of the more core issue. That is that people get easily set in their ways and most human beings don’t naturally welcome into their own little tribe people who behave differently. I really believe it can be boiled down to that level of simplicity. Culture almost sounds like a national or at the very least, regional term. I think you’re just talking about human nature.
    In any case, as a conservative. it seems that the overall flavor of progressivism is complete intolerance of any other view than the progressive view. No religion for example. I understand why a person might not like religion; I really do. I wish history were not replete with examples of oppression in the name of religion. But, to condemn all religion and also people with conservative principles is wrong.
    I know my views are not welcome here and that’s ok I guess; it’s your blog. I just think you’re making things more complicated than they are. You say culture is the problem and someone else responded intelligently stating that everything is culture. I totally agree; including my culture which includes the Christian religion and conservative principles. The problem is not culture. The problem is intolerance of other cultures. But from what I read here; many of you are intolerant. If you think culture is the problem, what you really mean is that people who don’t think like you are the problem. That’s intolerance.

    • Kaveh Mousavi says

      But then you ask WHY people don’t welcome them and then the answer will be culture. ;)

      I don’t think “thinking the ideas are cause of a problem” means I am intolerant of people. I don’t want to use any authoritarian tactic, whether legal or cultural. I agree some (many) liberals use authoritarian tactics like character assassination and attributing motives to their political opponents and I stand against that. But ultimately I think Abrahamic religions and most conservative values are intolerant, so I can’t pretend to respect them.

      You are welcome here as is anybody else. I will strongly disagree with your opinions though.

      • Jeff_fl says

        I appreciate the welcome then Kaveh. Hello.
        I look at statements like this from Damion – “It seems to me that it remains very much an open question how best to transform a culture so as to replace its traditional values”. That isn’t tolerance. It’s “make everyone think as I do”.
        Your reply was at least someone reasonable. Let it happen on its own….e.g. organically. That is assuming that it happens in the good time that you might have patience to wait for. What happens if it takes too long? What happens if never? Personally, any culture as strange as it may be to me is welcome to me as long as it does not kill, oppress or harm. Thomas Jefferson said it well – ” It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” But with some of you; there is no tolerance as Jefferson is suggesting is the correct course. Instead, some of you must make the other bend to your beliefs, it seems. Read all these posts and you might just change the title to – “How do we change everybody else to think the way we do because they’re all wrong and we know better”.
        This is the argument I have with my own government. The current oppressive banana republic in the White House wants to make everyone think and do as they do. Whereas our founders had in mind via the 10th Amendment to our constitution and other aspects of the Constitution to empower more locally, e.g. the states and local governments. I imagine some of you are removed from this idea, but it equates to tolerance. Let each state do as they will. If one state wants to allow gay marriage, then so-be-it. If another state wants to allow marriage between people and baboons, then ok that’s what some majority in one of the states decided. If a state doesn’t want gay marriage then so-be-it. The beauty of that plan is that “most” everybody is happy and tolerant except for the ultra extremists on both ends of the spectrum. I probably won’t have to travel to the baboon state which would likely be Vermont or California and they don’t have to come to where I live to annoy me with their “cultural peculiarities” and visa versa. Everybody’s happy. But in reality, everybody’s not happy and I mean everybody. Our country is so divided it’s sad and that division is what Obama wants. He wants strife and division and I’m guessing if he had his way kaos and I think he really would love violence in this country. Mind you; I personally am a pacifist. I’ll get my point across like Martin Luther King did. Anyway, sorry so long winded.
        Lastly, the problem with government that has no morals, is that the degree of evil only increases with each “accepted” evil deed that goes unpunished. We are watching that now here in the U.S. As the corruption increases and our most high law enforcer “Eric Holder” lies and protects the wrong-doings in his crony government, the magnitude of evil increases in defacto acceptability as “the get away with it factor”. Eventually it will become communism or fascism just like Russia or Nazi Germany. Then Gulags and murder by the millions will follow. We are two steps from there and I fear for the world.
        That’s where I disagree with you. Progressivism will bring nothing but death and misery because man was not meant to be stuffed into your mold. Man was meant to be free to choose.

        • Kaveh Mousavi says

          “What happens if it takes too long?”

          Then I have done my own share and will die happy.

          “What happens if never?”

          The movement of culture is very clear in this regard.

          As for your statement about gay marriage, I don’t think what you support here is tolerance, it’s the dictatorship of the majority. Things like that are rights, and it shouldn’t be left to a majority to decide them, they belong to an individual automatically. If you are willing to challenge your assumptions and your reading of the topic of tolerance, I highly recommend reading “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill.

          Also, if you don’t want to offend people, don’t compare gay lifestyle to bestiality. Bestiality is wrong because animals are not able to give consent, while gay love is between two consenting adults.

          • Jeff_fl says

            I wasn’t making a statement about gay marriage. Just using it as an example of laws that could be handled at a state level as some of it is now. I was not evaluating whether it is right or wrong. There again, you have only tolerance for what you believe. True that in “natural law’ everyone has the right to choose. But when you start talking about man’s laws; no you don’t automatically have rights and they are determined by majority. That’s how laws are made in a “democracy”. What you’re looking for is a dictatorship where you can tell everybody else how it’s going to be.
            I also was not comparing bestiality; just using it as an example. I can imagine a woman arguing with you that her relationship with a male orangutan is consensual and that the ape approaches her when he wants some. Who are you to decide whether bestiality is wrong? Seems rather hypocritical to me. Why can’t you be tolerant of how other people feel? You want that from people you don’t agree with, but there is none from you in return. Are you always right and nobody else’s feelings, thoughts, culture, social norms matter to you?

          • Kaveh Mousavi says

            But orangutans are not able to give consent. If you can prove to me that animals are able to give consent, I will change my mind.

            As I have said before, if laws are only determined by the majority, then it is not a democracy, it’s majority dictatorship. Democracy should also protect the rights of the minorities. Or if not, it will not be free. Imagine there’s a country where 90% of the people are atheists, should they be able to vote and ban religion because of their majority? Of course not, because practicing religion is the right of an individual, and if that is done, then the country is a tyranny and not a democracy. John Stuart Mill says: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” I implore you to read “On Liberty” and see for yourself why your reading of tolerance is wrong.

            I don’t think I’m intolerant of other people’s feelings or thoughts. If gay marriage is free, it makes no straight people to marry gay people. But by banning gay marriage, some people, a minority, are forced to live their own way. So when people want to ban gay marriage, they are actually not living their own lives as they want, but dictating how their neighbors should live, and this is where they are doing the thing you seem to decry. You are free to live your life as you like, but as soon as you try to force your neighbor to live like you, you’re repressing them, and then a democratic country is the one which stops you.

            Let me ask you this, if they held a poll today in Saudi Arabia, and people voted that they want even a stricter version of sharia law forced on everyone, would that be a democratic country? Of course not.

            I leave you with another quote from the book you should read:

            “The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            If you are willing to challenge your assumptions and your reading of the topic of tolerance, I highly recommend reading “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill.

            You are my new favorite person for the day. Suggestion strongly seconded!

          • Jeff_fl says

            I read enough of the book and wiki about Mill to know that I don’t agree with utilitarianism as an influence to my life in a number of regards.
            I do like this quote from Mill in the book –
            “In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth, we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility. To do as one would be done by, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality.”

            It seems you wanted me to read “On Liberty” to understand some alternate definition of tolerance.
            By definition of utilitarianism, it seems that anything that causes a utilitarian the slightest displeasure, they are intolerant of since it does not bring pleasure. Sounds like human nature to me, just as doing what makes you feel good is human nature and in my view must sometimes be personally discouraged in order to do things that we don’t necessary like to do, but need to do. I don’t personally have any problem with people pursuing their own pleasures but there is great argument on Gore’s interweb as to whether someone else’s seemingly benign pleasure will cause anyone else discomfort. One example might be someone collecting unemployment or disability checks from our government when they are able-bodied and can work. Because the government will give people food and money in exchange for their vote and just because that happy person is getting that money legally from the government does not make others happy to pay for it. Because it is others whom are paying for that person to lead their happy, lazy, utilitarian lifestyle. Well, they didn’t make the rules, so they’re not doing anything wrong or harming anyone, right? So how do you feel about that example. Do you side with the lazy person who is legally in the right and wants to make themselves feel good all the time by not working because s/he doesn’t like work?

            side note – Did you know that more white people are on food stamps than African Americans? I’m just posting that tidbit as a preemptive for the race baiters.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Rather than reading an inaccurate summary, you could read the book. It’s available online.
            Google finds this offhand:
            http://www.bartleby.com/130/
            (And no, this is not illegal. No copyright infringement. It’s been at least a hundred years, and so it’s out of copyright.)

            Kaveh Mousavi already quoted the IMHO most important bit in the post above.

          • Jeff_fl says

            Thanks; I’ve got the free, downloadable pdf file. The premise of only natural laws with no spiritual or supernatural is not of interest to me. I realize that most folks on this blog don’t like religion and that is their choice. I believe in God and therefore Utilitarianism is not of interest to me.
            I read enough to know that it’s not something I agree with in many aspects. Some of it I obviously do agree with.
            You should be able to verbalize your views if you think there is something I’m not getting.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            You completely misunderstand utilitarianism, and/or it is completely irrelevant to the book On Liberty.

            The basic thrust of On Liberty was cited above. Let me merely rephrase: You can use force against someone to prevent a harm to someone else. You can use force to compel someone to action for the benefit of someone else (although the bar is much higher than the first). You cannot use force to prevent someone from taking an action or use force to compel someone to action if it is merely for their own benefit. “In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.” That is what Kaveh meant by tolerance. Maximal tolerance is to follow the Harm Principle. It is to let people do what they want, unless it hurts someone else (or unless they have a positive duty to help others in that case, such as paying taxes, giving testimony in court, etc.).

            Finally, let’s talk about divine command theory, because you brought it up.

            Divine command theory rests on an equivocation. An equivocation is a fallacious argument that combines two premises by using one definition of a word, and another definition of the same word, and switching between the two to construct a fallacious argument. Ex: The sign said “fine for parking here”, and since it was fine, I parked there.

            The equivocation in divine command theory is on the word “good”. Either you can define “good” as “that which we should do”, which then leaves open the question of “what should we do?”, or you can define “good” as “that which is god’s nature”, which then leaves open the question “should be act according to the dictates of god’s nature?”. You cannot have it both ways. To have it both ways is equivocation.

            For example, suppose I grant your premise that “god’s nature is good”. I then ask “Why do what is good?”. The reply “because it’s good” is equivocation. You haven’t demonstrated that it’s good yet in the sense that we should do that.

            Every moral system needs a moral axiom. Anything else violates Hume’s is-ought distinction and is the “appeal to nature” fallacy. See:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

            Let me put it a few other ways.

            How did you come to the conclusion that god is the good one and Satan is the evil one? Also, how do you know that one is good? Couldn’t both be evil?

            Let’s talk about the problem of evil. If your god exists, and it is not a miserable excuse of a creator, then why does it allow needless suffering?

            If you bring up free will as an excuse, I will note that this is also an argument against having police. Do you think it’s an abridgement of your free will to have police trying to stop murder? If you make this argument, are you really so shallow that all you think there is nothing more to life, to free will, beyond deciding between good and evil? Think of all the learning you can do, laughing, exploration, art, etc. There is so much space left for free will without any evil at all.

            If you bring up free will as an excuse: Do you think heaven is better than life on Earth? Is there free will in heaven? Is there evil in heaven? Either there is no free will in heaven and heaven is better, which means free will isn’t that important, or it’s not. If heaven is better than life on Earth, why not make life on Earth like life in heaven? Thus, your god allows unnecessary evil.

            Finally, if you bring up the argument that “evil and suffering is necessary in order to grow as a person”, I want to remind you of this. There are several examples of women being held in basement dungeon prisons, in the modern day, for their entire life, 20+ years, and raped daily by their father. I want you to go to a friend or loved one, look them in the face, and say strongly that you believe that it was necessary for this women to be kept chained in a basement and raped daily for 20+ years in order that she grow enough to be capable of getting into heaven. — If you can do that btw, then you are a miserable excuse of a human being and I want nothing more to do with you.

            I happen to be a humanist. As a presupposition, I value the happiness, safety, freedom, self-determination, well-being, etc., of conscious creatures.

            I can conceive of evidence which would convince me that your god exists. It is possible that you could argue me out of being an atheist. However, you can never convince me to be a Christian if it means I have to give thanks to the moral abomination that is described in your “holy” book.

            If your god exists and stands in the way of the values of humanism (and if we could not talk your god out of it), then it would be necessary to destroy your god. Nuke god!

            What’s that you say? I cannot destroy god? Says who? Your god? It could be lying. I do not trust it. If you know the show Stargate SG-1, the evil aliens masquerading as gods, the goa-uld, said the same thing, but nuking them worked just fine. Maybe your god does exist, but is resistant to conventional high explosives, like the evil aliens called Ori from the same show. Then, we have to do research for the proper magical explosives in order to blow them up, just like the heroes in the show did.

            Finally, if all fails, and if your god happens to squash me like a bug, I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I am morally superior to your god. I will have the satisfaction knowing that I did not fall into line, obey its evil orders, and harm others – that I was not a party, an accessory, to evil. “I die free.”
            http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IDieFree

            That sentiment is very much part of the American sentiment – if you pay attention.

            “Give me liberty, or give me death!” – Patrick Henry, in a speech which arguably was a primary cause of the whole American war of independence.

            “Live free or die!” – Official state motto of New Hampshire.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            My reply is stuck in moderation. Sorry. Give it some time. Hopefully Kaveh gets around to it soon.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Jeff_fl
            Meh. I’m too lazy to retype all of that. Here’s a shorter version.

            Ignore everything you think you know about utilitarianism and Mill. Mill’s relevant position is: We have the “right” to use force to stop someone from hurting another, but not if he merely hurts himself. We have the “right” to use force to compel someone to action for the benefit of someone else, but not for merely his own benefit. It is wrong to use force to prevent someone from harming himself, and it is wrong to use force to compel someone to do something for his own benefit. Finally, the standard for compelling someone to action for the benefit of others is much higher than the standard for preventing harm to others in order to guarantee significant self determination. That’s the Harm Principle.

            That’s what we mean by maximum tolerance. You should let people do what they want to do, as long as it doesn’t hurt others.

            Under this rule, you are free to persuade and argue. I hope you do so when you care, and I hope you care. It’s just a position against using force in those cases.

            Of course, this does not apply to children. Children are wards of their parents, and do not have full legal protections.

            I think you mentioned you’re a Christian and you do what your god says. 1- Your god does not exist. 2- Even if you god existed, I know enough about your god from your holy book to know that it’s unlikely that we could reason with it, and thus we would have to destroy it. If the fictional show Stargate SG-1 has taught me anything, it’s that the proper response to an evil god is not to bow down and worship, but to blow it up. Nuke god!

            What’s that you say? We can’t nuke god? Says who? Your god? It could be lying. The fictional aliens of Stargate SG-1 called the goa’uld said the same thing while “masquerading” as gods, but nuking them worked just fine. Or maybe your god is resistant to conventional explosives, like the Ori from Stargate SG-1. Well, then we should try to research the proper magical explosives to blow up your god like the heroes of SG-1 did to blow up the Ori.

            And even if it’s all doomed to failure, at least I have the satisfaction that I am morally superior to your god. I would have the satisfaction knowing that I was not an accomplice to the evil that your god commits.

            A faction of heroes from Stargate SG-1 had a saying when they were about to die: “I die free”.
            http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IDieFree

            Something very similar also exists in American culture. “Give me liberty, or give me death!” was part of a speech which was a primary cause of the whole American war of independence. “Live free or die” is the official state motto of New Hampshire.

            Related: “I am Spartacus!”

            It’s possible that you could give me evidence and argument and convince me that your god exists. It is possible to change my mind and convince me to not be an atheist. However, you can never convince me to be a Christian, because I will never worship that miserable excuse of a thing that is described in your Christian bible.

            PS: If you want a takedown of Christian biblical morality or divine command theory, please let me know, and I’ll write up my preferred version. If you want a fuller explanation of my morality, I’m also happy to oblige.

          • Jeff_fl says

            @EnlightenmentLiberal

            Stargate SG-1 huh? You got me chuckling this morning.
            I guess it’s generational. This “original” Star Trek episode (url below) reminds me of people who do only what they want, not what they should do in order to be productive members of society. Do they have the right? Sure, but not if someone else has to pay for their livelihood in order that they can get high all day. I guess it depends on whether you think man is here to be a self-centered, vegetable or to be productive in some way.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Side_of_Paradise_%28Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series%29
            you said : “Ignore everything you think you know about utilitarianism and Mill.” What you wrote is generally what I already understood with the exception of the term “Harm Principle” Nothing new there and as you can see from general internet searches on the subect, it’s very debatable as to what harms and what doesn’t.
            In that regard; I’d like to re-pose this question since Kaveh didn’t answer it. I’m just curious how either or both of you or anyone else would answer: Is this person described below harming anyone?

            I said earlier : “One example might be someone collecting unemployment or disability checks from our government when they are able-bodied and can work. Because the government will give people food and money in exchange for their vote and just because that happy person is getting that money legally from the government does not make others happy to pay for it. Because it is others whom are paying for that person to lead their happy, lazy, utilitarian lifestyle. Well, they didn’t make the rules, so they’re not doing anything wrong or harming anyone, right? So how do you feel about that example. Do you side with the lazy person who is legally in the right and wants to make themselves feel good all the time by not working because s/he doesn’t like work? ”

            I’ll stop here so that we can address this question and also because it’s pointless for us to banter religion because faith is not the answer you’re looking for or will accept. I get that, no need expound on it. The big question in that regard is: “Do you tolerate my religion?”, or if you were the benevolent dictator of the world and could make any and all laws that everyone on Earth had to follow, would you make it illegal and punishable to worship God as one sees fit.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Because the government will give people food and money in exchange for their vote and just because that happy person is getting that money legally from the government does not make others happy to pay for it. Because it is others whom are paying for that person to lead their happy, lazy, utilitarian lifestyle. Well, they didn’t make the rules, so they’re not doing anything wrong or harming anyone, right? So how do you feel about that example. Do you side with the lazy person who is legally in the right and wants to make themselves feel good all the time by not working because s/he doesn’t like work?

            1- You’re misusing the word “utilitarian”.

            2-
            Taxes are violence. Taxes are the taking of property – sometimes with violence, and mostly with the mere threat of violence. However, the mere threat of violence is still basically morally equivalent to actual violence. For example, if you do not pay your taxes for long enough, eventually a man with a gun will come to your house.

            This hypothetical lazy bum is living off the benefits of someone else. I’m not yet going to assign moral blame for a variety of reasons, some of which you identified (such as the collective action problem).

            However, we can talk about fixing this broken system. No person has the right to mooch off aother involuntarily. The harm principle does not guarantee that. It is a gross misreading of everything I just wrote. When Mill says at least 4 different ways that this protection applies to conduct which only concerns the person and no other, how can you interpret that to include a scenario where money is being transfered by one person to another involuntarily and with violence? I am beginning to doubt that you are engaging honestly.

            Of course, I have to clarify having wrote all of that, lest I be confused for not a socialist. Again, the harm principle is not there to allow someone to nakedly involuntarily mooch off someone else through violence. However, the harm principle does allow us to use violence to compel everyone to action for the benefit of other citizens. For example, taxes to pay for police, fire, army, courts, etc.

            The thrust of the harm principle is just to identify which actions are protected. For the non-protected actions and non-actions, it does not specify further. Running a red light is not a protected action under the harm principle, but that doesn’t mean that a sane moral or legal system would allow for the death penalty for running a red light. The harm principle just sets out a class of actions which are to be protected, and leaves the rest for some other rule to clarify what we should do.

            Let me lay out some additional rules. I would say that in the United States, there are plenty of people who want to work, but cannot find jobs, and regularly go without food. IIRC, the statistics are 8(?) million people in the U.S. who regularly go without food. I think it’s patently obvious that a large portion of those people who go hungry are not lazy bums. The statistics also back me up here. In a modern first world country, this is unforgiveable. If there was a possible government plan whereby with taxation we could end hunger in the United States by a mere 1% income tax, I say it is morally obligatory to do it. Even if 90% of the money went to support mere lazy bums, it would be morally required. Even if another 90% of the remaining money went to government corruption and inefficiency, it would be morally required. For that low, low cost, ending hunger for people who cannot help otherwise? It is hard to think of a more morally reprehensible course of action than letting those people go hungry when we can do something about it.

            Again, I said that no one has the right to involuntarily mooch off another. However, if some plan accomplishes a laudible goal, such as ending hunger in the U.S., and it has a negative side effect of supporting some moochers, that’s different. The system is not designed to support moochers. That’s not its goal. It has another goal, and supporting moochers is an unfortunate side effect.

            I’m also a rather strong “socialist” in the sense that I strongly favor wealth disparity reform. This is not incompatible with the harm principle. The harm principle does not require private property rights. I do support limited private property rights, but you must remember that all property in the world is finite, and thus one person’s enjoyment of it is a violation of someone else’s liberty to enjoy property. For this and other reasons, I believe it is a duty of the government to redistribute wealth to some degree, and especially to end the filthy rich. For example 90%+ tax rates on the filthy rich, and even higher estate taxes on the filthy rich. This can also be filed under the exception “people can have positive duties to help their fellow citizens and we can use violence to compel these duties”.

            Again, I must emphasize that nothing I have written here contradicts the basic idea of the harm principle that if some consenting adults want to enjoy whatever hobby in the privacy of their own home, they should be welcome to it. It does absolutely no harm to me, and it cannot be a violation of their duty to anyone. The point of the harm principle is to guarantee as best we can individual sovereignty and self determination.

            For example, the idea that you have to pay taxes to ensure other people go hungry is not a real violation of your right to self determination, but denying you the right to have sex before marriage, same-sex sex, alcohol, tobacco, marijuanna, etc., would be denying you the right to live your life as you see fit. In general, a general income tax or a general sales tax are not violations of the right of self determination.

            “Do you tolerate my religion?”, or if you were the benevolent dictator of the world and could make any and all laws that everyone on Earth had to follow, would you make it illegal and punishable to worship God as one sees fit.

            The most important position of Enlightenment philosophy can be summed up with this paraphrase of Voltaire: I might disagree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.

            Of course, I can still argue that you are wrong in the public space, and try to persuade others to change their mind.

            PS:
            One other thing – children are an exception. Children are not the property of parents. They are the wards of their parents. We as a society have a duty to ensure that children are brought up to become informed citizens. We also have a duty to protect the children from their parents in extreme cases. I do not think that parents have free reign to indoctrinate their children with nonsense.

            I currently favor Dan Dennett’s proposal on this issue. Parents can tell their children whatever they want, indoctrinate however they want, as long as all children of the country (and hopefully eventually the world) have to take comparative religions classes for all of the world’s modern religious (and some extinct ones too), starting at an early age, and continuing throughout their schooling. The religion classes would not be indoctrination of values. It would not be claiming things as fact unless they are undeniably facts according to the modern consensus. The classes would teach the creeds, (purported) claims, moral stances, history, beliefs, theology, apologetics, etc., of every world religion. And as long as that happens, parents can add on whatever other teachings they want to their children. The idea is that noxious beliefs cannot survive in the face of the truth.

          • Jeff_fl says

            @EnlightenmentLiberal

            1- You’re misusing the word “utilitarian”.

            I don’t think so. I used it as an adjective.
            u·til·i·tar·i·an

            adjective
            adjective: utilitarian

            Philosophy
            of, relating to, or adhering to the doctrine of utilitarianism.
            “a utilitarian theorist” or in my usage ” utilitarian lifestyle”

            2-Taxes are violence.

            Not germane to the discussion because they are part of the example. I really am talking about
            a current, real-world example.

            I am beginning to doubt that you are engaging honestly.

            Come on now; I just asked a simple question that is a valid and current problem.

            I mentioned that this hypothetical bum is able bodied “for work”; with the implication being
            that he WON’T job hunt. He’s either faking a disability or stays on
            unemployment as long as possible without making a real effort to find a job.
            What’s so dishonest about that question? Nothing sneaky there and it is something
            that causes other people pain; not to mention degrading the country.
            I’m not wanting to argue whether there are people who fit this description.
            There are; and this is the example I chose.
            That hypothetical person would collect money from a corrupted government who will just keep paying
            him forever if there were not a balance of power to limit it. In return, that
            corrupted “progressive” government expects his vote. That’s the wash.

            This hypothetical lazy bum is living off the benefits of someone else. I’m not yet going to assign moral blame for a variety of reasons

            Ok, so you don’t assign moral blame to this person who can work but won’t work and is living off of the work of others. Do I have that correct, because that was what I wanted to know. We differ then because I have a huge problem with that. Even from the utilitarian definition, that person is causing me and others harm. One could argue that it’s indirect harm, but I think it’s fairly direct. Money is extracted from me by the governmental party and handed to the bum. I’m working while he’s fishing.

            I disagree about society having responsibility for raising someone else’s children. I agree that a child is not the parent’s slave, although I felt like one when I was growing up. It is the parents inalienable right to raise their child as they see fit (excepting abuse) until adulthood when the child is then free to choose different behavior. The last thing I would want is for some Godless entity with no morals (from my perspective) to force their belief system on my family. We just disagree on that. You don’t have to try to justify your reasons for believing otherwise.

            I’m pleased that you would respect my right to religion. Although there’s an off-topic question whether absolute power vested in you would not then corrupt absolutely, wherein you say – “Changed my mind folks ! ; NO RELIGION !” :-)

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I am unsure how you are unable to read what I wrote. You seem to have a reading comprehension problem. Let me say it again skipping details and justifications.

            As a matter of complete principles, I hold that there is no duty to provide for someone who can work but chooses not to. (However, as I mentioned before, this is not an accurate description of any government program in the U.S. as far as I know, making it a hypothetical only, and a possible strawman.)

            Welfare is funded by taxes which are violence. In other words, the relationship between someone on welfare and other taxpayers is one of violence, which means that the harm principle does not protect the receipt of welfare. The harm principle alone does not guarantee a right of welfare, although it would not prohibit it either – one can argue that welfare programs are allowed under the exception that we may compel people to act (pay taxes) for the benefit of others.

            I also argue that welfare – especially food assistance programs like “food stamps” – are morally obligatory (for countries like the U.S. where it’s cheap and easy to do). I reach this conclusion from the basic values of humanism.

            As for children, let me give an example. It would be child abuse to raise a child by telling them that left is right, and right is left.

            We have a right and duty to prevent criminal mischief, such as preventing murder, theft, etc., even when we are not personally involved, and for the same reasons, we have a right and duty to prevent a parent from purposefully and maliciously teaching a child that right is left and left is right.

            It is the parents inalienable right to raise their child as they see fit (excepting abuse)

            I politely disagree. The parent has no right over the child. None. The child is not the property of the parent. The parent has the obligation to raise the child. The parent has a duty to raise the child to be a functional, competent, and independent member of society.

            Instead, the default arrangement is that the parents are the wards of the children. Or at least this should be the legal reality. They have the perogative to control their wards, but only until such time that it has been demonstrated that they are strongly acting against the child’s best interests. (I don’t know what the exact standard should be. Something like that.)

            I believe Dan Dennett’s proposal is a compromise far in favor of “parental rights”. Who can possibly object to teaching children undisputed facts – and only facts – no values – about all of the world’s religions? The facts about what they worship, how they worship, what apologetics and theology they have, etc. It would be like disagreeing about teaching basic history. Add it to the list of ‘R’s, reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion. In one sense, it’s almost libertarian in ideals – the parents get to teach whatever they want, as long as they also teach simple, indisputable facts about all of the world’s religions.

            I say again – it is not the right of the parent to keep a child ignorant about important material facts of this world. It is child abuse to purposefully keep a child ignorant about such an important topic. To do so would damage the child’s ability to function in our culture, and so we have a duty to prevent that because of the interests of the child and because of the interests of everyone else in ensuring a competent and informed voting public.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I’m pleased that you would respect my right to religion. Although there’s an off-topic question whether absolute power vested in you would not then corrupt absolutely, wherein you say – “Changed my mind folks ! ; NO RELIGION !” :-)

            Again, you seem not to understand the harm principle nor Enlightenment philosophy altogether. Let me again emphasize. As I have been explaining, the point of the harm principle is to guarantee self autonomy, self determination. If you want to be religious, that is your prerogative. As Thomas Jefferson once said: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

            PS: I do not guarantee that all “liberals” value this as much as I do, but this is what I fight for, and it is a common belief amongst some strains of liberals.

          • Jeff_fl says

            @EnlightenmentLiberal

            Again, you seem not to understand the harm principle nor Enlightenment philosophy altogether.

            I don’t need to understand the principles that guide your belief system. That’s why I am so befuddled as to why you keep putting the definitions out there. They are YOUR ideals, not mine. I don’t care if you believe that “Taxes are Violence”, or how that then fits into your equation. When I ask a question, you should simply answer the question based on those ideals, whatever that answer may be. I know from my belief system that when I have to pay for someone else’s living because they are lazy, that harms me (that belief system is my gut). And if that sense of the word harm doesn’t register into your definition, then sobeit. Just state that and say “That doesn’t constitute harm under the definition of the Harm Principle, so you ain’t harmed and I do agree that the bum whom you’re doing all the work for to keep alive is doing you no harm”. Please, if you do respond; no more quotes from Mill. I don’t care how you arrive at your answer. I’m only interested in the answer, not what you used to formulate it.
            If you really can conclude that the “Harm Principle” does me no harm in this example, I’d love to go back in time and have Mr. Mill pay for my living. Then I wonder if the definition of the Harm Principle would have changed.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Jeff_fl

            I know from my belief system that when I have to pay for someone else’s living because they are lazy, that harms me (that belief system is my gut). And if that sense of the word harm doesn’t register into your definition, then sobeit. Just state that and say “That doesn’t constitute harm under the definition of the Harm Principle, so you ain’t harmed and I do agree that the bum whom you’re doing all the work for to keep alive is doing you no harm”.

            And now you’re just being a jackass. Learn to read. I’ve already stated it is a harm in what … at least 2 posts? What the hell man? It’s like I’m talking to a brick wall.

            Examples from me:

            No person has the right to mooch off aother involuntarily.

            I hold that there is no duty to provide for someone who can work but chooses not to.

            the relationship between someone on welfare and other taxpayers is one of violence, which means that the harm principle does not protect the receipt of welfare. The harm principle alone does not guarantee a right of welfare, although it would not prohibit it either – one can argue that welfare programs are allowed under the exception that we may compel people to act (pay taxes) for the benefit of others.

            PS:

            @Jeff_fl

            I don’t need to understand the principles that guide your belief system.

            “Need” is a strong word without context.

            If you want to take part in this discussion as an informed participant, and if you want to ask questions about my position – which you have done – then you do have an onus to try to pay attention and understand my position, just like I have an onus to try and understand yours.

            @Jeff_fl

            When I ask a question, you should simply answer the question based on those ideals, whatever that answer may be.

            Nope. This is borderline dishonesty. I’m currently more than happy to answer questions, but not if you’re going to actively ignore my answers and avoid comprehension. That seems to be contrary to any point of discussion.

          • Jeff_fl says

            I had high hopes that despite our differences, name calling was beneath you. You know, you also are not getting my point. I’ll also try for the last time.

            And now you’re just being a jackass. Learn to read. I’ve already stated it is a harm in what … at least 2 posts? What the hell man? It’s like I’m talking to a brick wall.

            You obfuscated a yes/no question with probably thousands of words of B.S.. because you’re afraid to answer the question. You accused me of posing an underhanded, dishonest question which is also absurd.

            I am beginning to doubt that you are engaging honestly.

            IT AS ALWAYS AND ONLY A YES OR NO QUESTION. I noted all of your thoughts along the way, but the closest thing to straight answer from you I saw was this:

            This hypothetical lazy bum is living off the benefits of someone else. I’m not yet going to assign moral blame for a variety of reasons

            YES OR NO – Is it ok for a work-capable bum to live off of my labor …. because the corrupt gov legally pays him to do so?

            YOUR answer please; not Mill’s. Yes or No.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I refuse to submit to overly simplistic black/white moral reasoning. This kind of naive moral reasoning is a flaw very often found in the religious (for example: see where Jesus said that he prefers you hot or cold, and he will spit you out if you are mild). Why is this request naive? For example, sometimes killing someone is justified, and sometimes it’s not. For example, sometimes theft is justified, and sometimes it’s not.

            I say again, generally it is not justified for the government or any third party to use violence (taxes) to take property to provide food and shelter to another person who is capable of working and finding work, but chooses not to do so. I would generally be against any such government policy which had that as its goal in today’s world.

            However, I am very much for some government policies which would use violence (taxes) to take property from citizens to provide food and shelter for other citizens who are willing to work but who cannot find work and for citizens who are incapable of working. I am only in favor of these policies with the current facts of great excess material wealth that is true for the current United States (and which would also be true in many other countries today). These policies would invariably support able-bodied people who can work and can find work but choose not to, but that is a reasonable and very small price to pay to feed and shelter those who cannot find work and those who are incapable of working.

            If that is not a clear and concise enough answer for you, then I say that you are not ready to have adult conversations about real-world problems.

          • Jeff_fl says

            @EnlightenmentLiberal
            “No”, with a short explanation works just fine and what a joy not to get a lecture about the Harm Principle.
            I also believe that people who cannot find employment or people with real disabilities should
            be taken care of, but of course the unemployed should continue to pursue a job.
            We have that here and I think it is a good thing. However it and a slew of other
            government programs are being abused by the progressives, essentially making
            slaves of our people in return for votes. The democrats are buying the public,
            making them apathetic, dependent and progressively useless. Even low paying jobs
            are good experience and are good to keep one in that mentality to try to better themselves.
            Some people are so removed from the idea of ever working for a living, that they have become
            forever useless to society. After a decade or more of unemployment, they’re essentially ruined as individuals thanks to the government. I like and agree with Benjamin Franklin’s assessment below. It makes sense because he’s addressing human nature and also simply observing the results of making people too comfortable, e.g. no limits to unemployment compensation, etc. People have admitted that they hadn’t started looking for work until a limit was finally placed on their unemployment compensation. Why should they.

            “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

            This statement – “I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themsleves, and of course became poorer” – is precisely what has happened in America, particularly to our cities. We keep throwing billions into Chicago and it just gets worse because people don’t know how to work and the family unit is nearly non-existant.

            Thanks for replying succinctly. I don’t know what maturity has to do with me asking for a concise and specific answer, but disparaging remarks are apparently allowed on this blog.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I haven’t looked at the rules. I may be in error. At the moment, I don’t much care. It’s unreasonable that I should have to repeat myself 3 times. If this wants to be fixed, then Kaveh can fix that.

            I think you are wrong. I do not see how preventing people from going hungry, and giving them a simple shelter, makes them dependent on the government. I believe that you are repeating demonstrable and evil fictions from the Republican party. Are you for, against, or neutral w.r.t. food stamps or some equivalent government program to prevent hunger? Anything but a “I am for” answer means that you are a despicable human being – one who would let people go hungry rather than require a stupendously small tax to provide food. Practically no one goes hungry because they are too accustomed to not working.

          • Jeff_fl says

            I already stated the paragraph below, which means “I AM FOR”. You accused me of reading comprehension issues; how about you?
            I also believe that people who cannot find employment or people with real disabilities should
            be taken care of, but of course the unemployed should continue to pursue a job.
            We have that here and I think it is a good thing.

            However, I am not in favor of unlimited giveaways. I’m not a republican. They do tend to want to limit social programs to a degree so that we don’t turn the needy into lazy people who become trained to accept scraps and who won’t do for themselves. I trust Franklin’s assessment a whole lot more than yours. Did you know what a giving person he was? He had quite a good handle on the situation with the needy and with the false needy. And before you jump on the slave owning founders thing; yes he owned slaves but realized his wrong later on and freed his slaves and became an abolishonist. Nobody’s perfect. Here are his thoughts on the things he patented. Franklin unselfishly created many useful items for everyday folk.

            Of the numerous inventions Franklin created, he did not patent a single one. Franklin believed that “As we benefit from the inventions of others, we should be glad to share our own…freely and gladly.”

            My thinking is quite more extreme than Republicans for good reason. I believe that the (ruling class) progressives want as many dependent people as possible and do not want the lower classes to work, or at least not steadily to where they can move into a state of self-sustainment and growth. Progressives want and need slaves to maintain power. Here’s a link to a book you might want to read.
            http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=please+stop+helping+us&tag=googhydr-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=36627248066&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=11058900322045470597&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_8uyk7bahwd_b
            It’s written by an African American author and the book is entitled “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed”. Description of the contents:

            Why is it that so many efforts by liberals to lift the black underclass not only fail, but often harm the intended beneficiaries?

            In Please Stop Helping Us, Jason L. Riley examines how well-intentioned welfare programs are in fact holding black Americans back. Minimum-wage laws may lift earnings for people who are already employed, but they price a disproportionate number of blacks out of the labor force. Affirmative action in higher education is intended to address past discrimination, but the result is fewer black college graduates than would otherwise exist. And so it goes with everything from soft-on-crime laws, which make black neighborhoods more dangerous, to policies that limit school choice out of a mistaken belief that charter schools and voucher programs harm the traditional public schools that most low-income students attend.
            In theory these efforts are intended to help the poor—and poor minorities in particular. In practice they become massive barriers to moving forward.

            Please Stop Helping Us lays bare these counterproductive results. People of goodwill want to see more black socioeconomic advancement, but in too many instances the current methods and approaches aren’t working. Acknowledging this is an important first step.
            Note that I said the “ruling class” progressives want to make as many slaves as possible of the public. The majority of the LOW INFORMATION voting liberals have hearts in the right place but they don’t realize how they are being used or don’t care. The average liberal has little in common with the progressive oligarchy who rule them.
            What do LOW INFORMATION liberals think about the debt? How about the Weimar Republic? Has anyone noticed how expensive everything is? Gee, I wonder why that is? Could it be that our dollar doesn’t buy as much as it used to? Gee, I wonder why that is? Any liberals have an issue with the American credit rating being downgraded twice under Obama ? Oh, right; Bush did that. Bush must have because Obama has never done anything except kill Bin Laden. How could he? He doesn’t read the newspaper in time to react to anything.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Jeff_fl

            “I AM FOR”.

            However, I am not in favor of unlimited giveaways.

            I’m sorry. I’m seeing mixed signals like this. I ask again, you would allow someone to starve when we could have a government program provide them food? Is there a time limit on this? Like we feed them for a few months, and then let them starve?

            As for the rest of it, I don’t even know where to start. Our views of how the world works are so diametrically opposed it’s like I’m talking to a Christian young Earth creationist fundie. I’ve done that conversation enough so I know some good opening moves, but here I’m just at a loss.

            I guess I’ll start with this. This conspiracy by the progressives to make people into slaves who vote for them – or something. Is this a willful conspiracy amongst the progressive elites and elected representatives? Who is in on the conspiracy? Or is it not a conspiracy? Is it some sort of self organizing movement where individual progressive elites happen to be working towards the same goals for their own personal reasons?

          • Jeff_fl says

            You know very well that I’m talking about “abuses” of the system. For you to suggest otherwise is a lie. The question I posed was about able bodied persons cheating the system and accepting unemployment benefits and not actively searching for work. However, no one in this country should starve or be denied food from some source or another, government, church, etc. Help should always be given to those who deserve it. The able-bodied when denied will get off their butts and go back to work. But you know that’s what I meant as that is what I said.

            The idea that progressives want to control their voters is by observation. We’re well past conspiracy; we’re all watching Obama implement Alinsky, Clower-Piven in real time. Decade after decade of expensive failed social programs. The cities are destroyed, the people still lacking job skills and education despite record spending on education and other programs. Obama’s economic policies have crippled America by over-regulation. I want a clean Earth as well, but to just shut off all coal and oil and spend billions on solar power that failed, should tell you something. What I’d like to know is of these failed companies;
            who benefited? http://nation.foxnews.com/obama/2012/10/20/list-36-obama-s-taxpayer-funded-green-energy-failures

            Obama has been masterful at overwhelming and overloading the welfare system as has been taught him by his radical mentors. Everything Obama touches fails and further racks up more debt. But, who benefited? Which one of his cronies enriched themselves from these failed programs? I’m betting all the top brass enriched themselves.
            My question when I first heard about Solyndra was “will China produce cheaper solar panels or the U.S.?” Everything is cheaper in China, so why would anyone think that a company like Solyndra was ever going to fly? Only an idiot like Obama or someone who is following Alinsky, Cloward and Piven. I believe Obama wants to destroy Capitalism in America and that means collapsing the system. Rules for Radicals is just part of it, but that helps explain it. I believed this for years and it’s nice to see that mainstream populace is catching on finally as they more closely scrutinize the Liar-in-Chief.

            I saw the movie “America” today and you’d love about the first thirty minutes. You’d probably close your ears and walk out after that, but I still recommend you see it.

            So do you think it was limited book sales from Cosco that made them remove D’Souza’s book from their shelves? Nevermind that they didn’t do that for other much more obscure books that are selling less. Just coincidence eh? Nevermind that Obama is big buddies with Cosco’s Jim Sinegal; a big Democrat donor.
            Sinegal and Cosco are full of crap. Having said that; and I’ll say it again as I said it above. Like Cosco, I think the minimum wage must be increased due to the devalued dollar (caused by Obama virtually printing money).

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            But you know that’s what I meant as that is what I said.

            I didn’t, actually. How do you structure the program to kick out the lazy bums without penalizing good but unfortunate people? Any program that cuts off the lazy bums will cause innocent people to starve. Food should be free to those in need. I think we need a very wide margin of error to ensure that we don’t allow innocent people to starve.

            About the conspiracy theories. You didn’t answer my questions. You dodged them. Please answer my questions. Is it a conspiracy? Who is in on the conspiracy? If not a conspiracy, please also explain further.

            D’Souza

            You know he’s a convicted felon, right? He cheated on his wife, got fired from his university, knowingly and willingly broke campaign finance law (in a really stupid way might I add). He’s an incompetent and lying scumbag. This shows clearly in his debates too. He’s like the worst or one of the worst Christian apologists out there. I’d take even Kent Hovind or Ken Ham as more honest and competent than D’Souza.

            Having said that, I don’t see how this relates to anything. Are you saying that the owners of Costco are part of the conspiracy with Obama? What other large business owners are part of this conspiracy? I’m not sure what this has to do with any other part of the conversation. Again, if you could explain please more details about the liberal conspiracy, who is in on it, what they stand to gain, etc., I might be able to comment further.

          • Jeff_fl says

            I said – But you know that’s what I meant as that is what I said.

            You replied – “I didn’t, actually.”

            Ok, I see what you mean now; pardon. So we’re not just talking about the able-bodied bums any more. If an able bodied person refused to look for work, yes they could sit and starve. They tend not to do that though. They go get jobs after they are absolutely forced to, as in the employment compensation benefits
            having expired. Obviously that doesn’t apply to everybody, but it sure does apply to many.

            Regarding how to weed out the “bums” from folks who truly need help… The short and most important answer is that you have to want to. You meaning the government. A work requirement clause is naturally frowned upon by democrats. That should tell you whether they want to or not. For the most part no questions about one’s assets are required these days. I’ll bet there’s very little oversight of 48 million people. It leaves the program rife for abuse and democrats want it that way because they’re buying votes.
            I know SNAP and other programs unquestionably help many deserved people, but I maintain that it makes many other people less motivated to better themselves. This is the bum category of the chronically unemployed. Everybody’s worked with someone or have been serviced by someone whom you thought must be wanting to get fired. I’m sure many do while making every possible effort to not get employed again.
            I have mixed feelings about a guy’s situation I read about on some blog wherein his wife worked, he went to school and they were granted food stamps for their family of two children. It’s nice that the young man could get food stamps, but in the past, people got a job and went to school at night. Sure it was harder, so yeah it is a great thing if we could afford it. It’s a lot more sensative issue when our economy is on the verge of collapse. Frankly, if Obama’s fiscal programs were good, then this issue would not be so front and center. But, Obama destroys from all directions.

            =======

            Being brief today but yeah D’Souza screwed up. That doesn’t mean that the content of his movie are false. Feel free to critique it if you want. I know that there were parts of it that one could argue opposing views, but there was some degree of truth in each of his points to. I thought the movie was well done and recommend it to anyone; even critics of America’s less than perfect past.

            The comment about Cosco was pertinent to what this country is turning into under Obama. I have no proof at
            all that Obama may or may not have called his Cosco buddy and asked him to take the book off the shelf, but I thing it’s entirely possible if not entirely plausible, knowing Obama these days. To me it’s not such a small or irrelevant issue as you make it to be. To me, it’s akin to book burning, the IRS targeting of conservatives, NSA spying, executive overreach, a partisan, corrupt attorney general and corrupt government in general. I’ll get back to some of what you call the conspiracy at a later date.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            It is unsustainable to allow very large portions of the potential work force to not work, and require others pay for them. I agree some thing needs to be in place to prevent this to some degree. However, the better question I have for you is how far are you willing to go to punish those who cannot find work in order to ensure bums don’t game the system? As I’ve said before, if 90% of the recipients were lazy bums, but 10% were honest people who could work but cannot find work, and it costs a small fraction less than 1% of tax revenue to do so, then I say on those facts it’s morally obligatory to support the lazy bums in order to prevent hunger in the honest people. Do you agree?

            As for the conspiracy theoriests. I’m sorry. I can understand the idea that Democrat party politicians are pandering to their base, and their base is purportedly those on welfare. (In the real world, the facts disagree, and often the most disadvantaged people vote Republican more than Democrat. One of many inconvenient facts for your conspiracy theory.)

            It’s hard to tell if this is merely your position when you’re using so many superlatives and seeming exaggerations.

            Like calling people on welfare “slaves”. To compare “people are kept in chains, and beaten with whips when they do not jump when ordered by their owners” to “people who are given free food, and made lazy, and vote for those that give them free food” – that comparison seems to deny all human agency. I find it distinctly disgusting. I find that the comparison unfairly elevates slavery to “not so bad”. There is a real and honest – and huge – difference between being a slave and merely being “conditioned” to be lazy via free hand outs. I question your moral reasoning if you cannot see the huge important differences.

            If you are merely being provocative , sure, your right, but this particular example and others like it are impeding clear communication. If you’re not merely being provocative, then I think you’re a horrible monster for actually conflating actual slavery with welfare recipients – and someone who is completely detached from reality.

            PS: I have not the inclination to review some work by D’Souza. His several miserable and dishonest debate showings are enough for me, plus the several fun scandals in his life. Also largely irrelevant to this discussion. His points should stand or fall with or without him. If you think he’s being censored, I’m going to need to see some evidence for that assertion. Rather, it seems equally plausible that the stores didn’t want to carry a Christian apologist book written by a convicted felon for moral reasons, and/or the demand for Christian apologetics from convicted felons is low, and so the store decided not to carry it.

          • Jeff_fl says

            Just more of your deceitful misrepresentations of what I said…

            You said – “the better question I have for you is how far are you willing to go to punish those who cannot find work in order to ensure bums don’t game the system?

            AGAIN, as I indicated, the government doesn’t want to seriously vet recipients. They are purchasing their votes. If it’s that belief that you would like to question, then go ahead and disagree. I don’t care. In any case, if the government were serious about vetting each potential recipient, then some reasonable degree of earnest research on each applicant would suffice to curtail the majority of offenders. Some abusers would probably get through because as you say; you don’t want to keep people from getting the support they deserve. Each case should be able to be reasonably proven. If someone felt they were unjustly declined, then I should hope that SNAP would have some means to re-investigate cases. If I ran the show, I’d have some kind of parachute like that.

            Additionally, I would not make SNAP available to illegal aliens unless they had been in this country for some time. There has to be a way to discourage people from coming here, unless it’s done legally. Instead, programs like SNAP for illegals lure them here, amongst other things like the DREAM act and the fact that this nation is the greatest on Earth…still and despite progressives who want to trash it.

            As for the conspiracy theoriests. I’m sorry. I can understand the idea that Democrat party
            politicians are pandering to their base, and their base is purportedly those on welfare. (In the real world, the
            facts disagree, and often the most disadvantaged people vote Republican more than Democrat. One of many
            inconvenient facts for your conspiracy theory.)

            Above – TOTAL MANURE; I never said that. In the real world the Obama administration is pushing SNAP to whomever they can; buying votes. The Progressive Republicans were doing the same thing, but not as successfully. Obama has changed the eligibility of SNAP to allow more people in though…many more.

            About the use of slave as a metaphor like “slave wages”. I can’t even begin to answer such a ridiculous diatribe. I’m talking about the end result after we allow our rights to be dispossessed by this gigantic, oppressive government. In fact it may be worse than slavery if we end up a country without the Constitution.

            In closing – I’m done with your straw man bit. Tired of having to correct all your misquotes and tired or restating questions over and over to a deceitful person. You can do more of your childish name calling, but that does not change the fact that Obama is a Marxist liar, apparently hell bent on destroying America.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I fail to see how it’s a strawman when it’s part of a series of questions about what position you actually hold. If you want me to not ask ridiculous questions, then please describe in some detail your actual opinions on this matter please. I’ve been asking this for a while now.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Err, wrong emphasis. I meant to emphasize that I’m asking questions because I don’t know what your actual position is. I meant no implication otherwise. I do not know what your actual position is. I’d like to know. Thus far, you’ve hinted at a far-ranging liberal conspiracy – which initially strikes me as preposterous as the Reptilians-in-government conspiracies. I’d like to know what your actual beliefs on the liberal conspiracy are.

        • says

          This is the argument I have with my own government. The current oppressive banana republic in the White House wants to make everyone think and do as they do.

          Dude, you sound like a flaming racist git.

          • Jeff_fl says

            That comment is to be expected from you. Devoid of truth; that’s all the left has. Anything anti-Obama always generates the race card. It’s so old at this point, that it is far beyond pathetic.
            I’ll tell you what though; I almost voted for him the first time around. I came really close because I wanted change of decades of cronyism and corruption. The more I looked into what he was saying, the more I realized what he was about. Thank goodness I didn’t vote for him. I’m guessing you think I almost voted for him until I found out he was half black, right? Truthfully, I only voted for his white half. (that was a joke).
            Here’s the deal and it is true of I’d say about 95% of the non-African Americans who do not like Obama, + or – a percent or two. We don’t like his destructive policies. I don’t like that he’s a Marxist. I don’t like that he’s a chronic liar. I don’t like that he “supposedly” finds out about major world events in the newspaper days or weeks after a real president would have reacted to the event. Unlike many people including Fox News, I don’t believe he’s incompetent. He’s destroying American in a very methodical and exacting way.
            Since I know he’s a liar, I also don’t believe that he finds out about major world events from the newspaper. He just ignores them. I don’t like his economic policies. Let me pause for a second to agree that the remaining 5% or so leftover from the above figure ARE probably racists and don’t like him because he’s 1/2 black. The majority of us could care less what color he is. I really wish that you all would get that. I think you really do, but like to try to keep that excuse going. Eric Holder for example, yesterday. What a disingenuous, corrupted race baiter.
            Ok, back to what I don’t like about Obama. Forgetting about how much he has contributed to the debt (along with George Bush), the real destructive thing about Obama is his fiscal policies that don’t allow for job growth. We can’t pay down the debt nor barely keep up with the deficit because there’s little tax money coming in. That goes hand in hand with the increased amount of people on food stamps and other gov programs. A record number of people stubbed their toes last year and are now on disability. It is my belief that he does not want the economy to recover, at least not to where people won’t need his programs. Gainful and happy employment means voters likely to vote Republican. People who have become used to sucking on the Obama nipple will vote for the Democrats. So why would he want a really healthy recovery that would help middle and low classes of Americans? Did you notice how wall street is doing? Obama’s fat cat friends are happy I can tell you. Hmmm; stock market at an unprecedented level above 17k. Remember though, it’s that high because the dollar is worth much less than it used to be. The real stock market might be at 13 or 14,000 if we had the dollar before Obama got ahold of it and started printing money. And that brings up the question about raising the minimum wage. Normally I would not be in favor of that. I believe people should work those jobs until they can move up to better jobs; not work in the fry station at McDonalds one’s whole life. HOWEVER, I believe the minimum wage should be increased just because of the dollar having been devalued by Obama. Look at the price of everything. Food, gas, everything gone through the roof with Obama. We have to raise the minimum wage just to keep up with that….in my opinion.
            Did you see the little reduction in unemployment numbers last month? Hey things are looking up, the Obama folks say. Did you know that it coincides with the unemployment compensations being cancelled instead of further extended? Yeah, folks had to get off their parasitic butts and go back to work. Now, I admit that the jobs many had to take are probably also lame. That’s the only kind of jobs we’re seeing these days from Obama is low-paying, or government, or reduced hour jobs. If anyone seriously thinks we’re out of the recession, you’re dreaming. What little money I have ; I don’t have in stocks for a reason. Yeah, the 401k’s look great right now. Wait til the next crash, then take a look at your 401k. I also don’t like that Obama side-steps congress and the Constitution and makes or modifies his own laws. I particularly don’t like that he’s delayed gigantic Obamacare taxation that will have to be paid after the mid term elections. If those taxes had kicked in already like they were scheduled to, there would be a revolt. But, he has illegally put it off til after the election. I don’t like that he will not perform his sworn duty by securing our borders. Instead, he keeps them open and invites young children to risk their lives by traversing the southern continent to get here. What his voting left doesn’t understand is that he’s not doing that because he loves those people. He’s doing it for power. Just look at Chicago. The African Americans there have now said Obama is the worst president in history. They all voted him in. He doesn’t care about African Americans. He just keeps them down by keeping job availability low and the paltry handouts coming in. Hey, it wasn’t me that said all this. It is the African Americans whom are wising up to the democrat methodology. As you can see, I’m long winded. I could type all day long and into tomorrow about what I don’t like about Obama. But lastly, he does not like America. That’s the biggest reason I don’t like him. America is flawed, yes. Show me any country that has not had injustices. I’ll choose America for my country every time. Why do you think so many people want to come here? I’m more of a Libertarian these days though. I wish America would keep it’s nose out of world affairs except where absolutely needed and that constitutes defense when being attacked and possibly in some cases supporting human rights abuses and treaties, but ideally involvement should be with other countries. We should not being going it alone for the most part.
            So where do I sort of agree with the left –
            The Oligarchy that runs America – the top 1% filthy rich who call most of the shots and keep the people like us busy fighting with each other, should not exist. Our freedom is gone because of them and our apparent inability to vote out their supporting government crony’s. Just once, can’t everybody just choose somebody different? Government employment was never intended to be a lifetime appointment. And will our congress ever vote for term limits for themselves; heck no.
            All those damned corporate and union execs and government people, VA, et al giving themselves lavish unbelievable bonuses while the rest of us suffer. Even when they do an awful job, those corrupt SOB’s enrich themselves at our expense. Trust me though; it isn’t the ruling elite’s love for you. They just need your vote. That’s why for now they don’t care about African Americans. Right now, they want the Hispanic vote. They’ll fool the African American community later to appease and get them back on the left track.
            And I can tolerate some of the progessive ideas as long as the left can tolerate some of mine.
            Lastly, wait until the collapse that Obama is ushering in. Once marshal law kicks in, you won’t have a voice any longer. And Marxists don’t like lazy people. Then you’ll see how much the Oligarchy likes you.

          • says

            He’s destroying American in a very methodical and exacting way.

            Yeah, America was booming economically and at peace with everyone and had a balanced budget right up to the day Obama took office, right?

            Drone on, boy, you’re only proving my point that you’re a racist git.

          • Jeff_fl says

            @Raging Bee
            I pointed out that the debt belongs to he and Bush. Is Bush black? I also
            pointed out that I don’t like Obama because of his policies. I equally loath Harry Read and
            Nancy Pelosi amongst other white folk. I also pointed out that I almost voted for Obama because I was sick of
            corrupt government. That implies sick of white corrupt government.
            The personal insults are also to be expected since as usual you have nothing else.
            As Kaveh correctly put it above –
            ” I agree some (many) liberals use authoritarian tactics like character assassination”

          • Jeff_fl says

            I’m happy to debate subject matter, but that is not what you’re interested in.
            So, lets just disagree and call it a day.

  10. Jeff_fl says

    About the orangutan and the gal that he’s dating. He walks up to her “aroused” and because they’ve done it before; she welcomes his advances. Consent is implied. The human didn’t force him into anything. He’s just horny.
    Anyway, I understand what you’re saying about bestiality. I think it’s wrong in every way you can imagine including this example above.

    About tolerance; the book will likely be an opinion beyond the definition, but I may check it out some time.
    “TOLERANCE: the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.”

    I wish that everyone could do everything that they wanted to including the one person who has a different view than the entire rest of the world’s population. It just kind of depends on what that difference is and how it affects others. So, I can’t as a blanket statement say that I agree with that notion. Life is not a test tube nor a college lecture hall. You would ultimately learn that that one person having all the rights they want, despite that seven or so billion other people disagree with him, may not be a good thing. For example; that person decides that they will urinate on everyone’s leg when he first meets them because he’s decided in his lunatic brain that the act will bring two people closer….or whatever. You know that isn’t going to fly. There are a quadrillion endless examples of what one person might come up with.
    In any case, religious folk consider marriage to be a divinely inspired relationship between a man and woman, so I can understand why they don’t want the term “marriage” to be used where gay unions are concerned. I think the religious are just going to have to get used to the idea that other people can use the term marriage as well. Christians or Jews should really be able to rationalize it as – simply not a religious marriage and not worry about it. The real problem comes when a gay couple wants to get married in church. I fully side with the religious in this case. At least for the Christian Religion, the Bible is very clear on the subject. So, why should gays have issue if their marriage is called a marriage and has the same license and rights but is a state-sponsored event? If they feel they are Christians, then I can see the problem, but I have no answer except that there are churches that will probably ignore what the Bible says in that regard. Personally, I don’t think churches that don’t follow scripture are valid, but as long as the couple does, that’s all that matters to them. Then of course we get into the slippery slope of marriage privatization and I won’t go there. Anyway, I do sympathize with the issues gay people are having in this regard. As a Christian, I can’t condone homosexuality, but I don’t fully understand it either. I have gay friends and what they do is their business including getting married or whatever. If it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, I generally don’t care.
    DEMOCRACY : control of an organization or group by the majority of its members
    I would hope that Saudi’s would vote to get rid of such an outdated and horrible thing as Sharia. How about letting the women vote as well and see what the answer is.
    Kaveh, about the last paragraph you posted. I enjoyed it after I burned off a couple hundred calories trying to understand it. :-) Pshaw ! Why do intellectuals have to try to impress everybody with their prose?? Here’s what the author said:
    “If a person neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, then they can do and think pretty much anything that makes them happy”.
    I particularly like this line “He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so” If only our ex-NY mayor Michael Bloomburg would learn that lesson. If I want to drink a 64 oz caffeinated beverage, then I will. I certainly don’t need a nanny to limit me to 16 oz.
    Anyway, we have a winner. Totally in agreement on that one. Hope everyone has a nice weekend.

  11. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @by Kaveh Mousavi
    I completely agree. One term you may be looking for is “moral relativist” or “cultural relativist”. I similarly despise those people, and say academics and liberals in the west make up a huge portion of these cultural and moral relativists.

    Unfortunately, we have to walk a very fine line and write an essay every time it comes up, lest we be confused with racists. I completely agree that it’s culture, not genetics. I’d add that economics is probably a contributing factor too – not sure if you include that as part of culture.

    For example, often people accuse me of “anti-Islamophobic racism”, as though Islam was a race. No, Islam is cultural, and my problem is with Islam in most or nearly all of its forms. I have basically the exact same problems with nearly all forms of Christianity. And you nailed it exactly on the head – the people in the west have the benefit of the European Enlightenment which took away power and prestige from religion in the culture, and with any luck it will continue to do so until Christianity is dead. I have similar hopes for Islam.

  12. atheist says

    @post

    The third meaning of culture is the series of rules and values that govern people meaning, and that’s the main cause of all problems in the world. …

    Of course I’m very radical on this, reformists vary extensively. I say we need to take culture and flush it down the toilet eventually, some of them think our culture is good and needs to be reformed, and I have no issues with that. …

    I’m not a fan of our”identity” and I am as willing to preserve it as much as I plan to protect rabies.

    From my perspective, our individual achievements are matters about which we are justifiably proud, but they are also dependent on culture to give them meaning. Outside of some form of human culture our individuality would be a dead letter. However I heartily agree that human global culture needs to be changed in order to avoid species decline.

    I understand you have a fraught relationship to your culture and you have damn good reasons to attack it. However your desire to do away with culture entirely sounds extremely radical to me. I don’t see the advantage of such a scenario. To me, that sounds like just another form of species decline.

  13. says

    I’m not sure which “Western liberals” you’re talking about, but it doesn’t sound like anyone this Western liberal has been in communication with. The only people I’ve heard “try hard to defend the root cause of all their enemies,” are other religious/cultural authoritarians.

    Culture can mean three things…

    Yes, and it’s the good bits Western liberals tend to defend: the music, the art, the previous accomplishments that Western bigots and authoritarians tend to ignore and disdain (and on which many of our own best accomplishments are based). We don’t defend the bigotry, authoritarianism and brutality — though we do oppose US military intervention against such culture, mainly because it doesn’t make things better, not because we think the Islamists are right.

    What you are saying sounds a LOT like the ridiculous lies that Western reactionaries and hatemongers tell about liberals: we’re all terrorist-loving peacepussies who hate America and love Khomeini and want to read terrorists their rights and give them counseling. And for that reason, I, for one, do not find it all that credible. Could your reich-wing authoritarians be telling you the same lies as our reich-wing authoritarians are telling us?

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      Really? When I say that western culture is better than the Taliban culture, I get all kinds of rebuttals and contrary replies.

      Purely anecdotal, but IMHO informative: Sam Harris:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/moral-confusion-in-the-na_b_517710.html

      I then made what I thought would be a quite incontestable assertion: we already have good reason to believe that certain cultures are less suited to maximizing well-being than others. I cited the ruthless misogyny and religious bamboozlement of the Taliban as an example of a worldview that seems less than perfectly conducive to human flourishing.

      As it turns out, to denigrate the Taliban at a scientific meeting is to court controversy (after all, “Who decides what is a successful life?”) At the conclusion of my talk, I fell into debate with another invited speaker, who seemed, at first glance, to be very well positioned to reason effectively about the implications of science for our understanding of morality. She holds a degree in genetics from Dartmouth, a masters in biology from Harvard, and a law degree, another masters, and a Ph.D. in the philosophy of biology from Duke. This scholar is now a recognized authority on the intersection between criminal law, genetics, neuroscience and philosophy. Here is a snippet of our conversation, more or less verbatim:

      She: What makes you think that science will ever be able to say that forcing women to wear burqas is wrong?

      Me: Because I think that right and wrong are a matter of increasing or decreasing well-being–and it is obvious that forcing half the population to live in cloth bags, and beating or killing them if they refuse, is not a good strategy for maximizing human well-being.

      She: But that’s only your opinion.

      Me: Okay… Let’s make it even simpler. What if we found a culture that ritually blinded every third child by literally plucking out his or her eyes at birth, would you then agree that we had found a culture that was needlessly diminishing human well-being?

      She: It would depend on why they were doing it.

      Me (slowly returning my eyebrows from the back of my head): Let’s say they were doing it on the basis of religious superstition. In their scripture, God says, “Every third must walk in darkness.”

      She: Then you could never say that they were wrong.

      Obviously, this woman is morally insane or highly deluded.

      Now, I admit that I don’t see this attitude all the time, but I do see it far more often than I quite like. When I see it, it is almost always from highly educated liberal western people. It seems like some weird combination of white guilt, colonial guilt, and post-modernism, fused together, leaving a kind of moral nihilism aka moral relativism and cultural relativism.

      Preemptive clarification: Obviously whites are not better than non-whites. However, obviously the vanilla western culture is better than the culture under the Taliban. This is not genetic. This is a matter of economics and culture. It is an accident of history that “whites” happened upon it before other cultures. Arguably other small niche cultures around the world also happened upon it, but the history books have awarded claim to Europe and its Enlightenment, and that’s why I use terms like “western”.

      Why do I use the Taliban as an example? Why focus on them? The group most harmed by the Taliban and that culture are the people living under the Taliban. I write about this because I care about them, and they are the ones most hurt by the insane culture. I am barely inconvenienced by comparison.

      • says

        Obviously, this woman is morally insane or highly deluded.

        Actually, no, it’s not that obvious. Nor is it obvious that Sam Harris is much of a reliable source.

      • says

        Here is a snippet of our conversation, more or less verbatim…

        I notice that “snippet” doesn’t exactly begin at the beginning. What did Harris say to prompt “She” to ask “What makes you think that science will ever be able to say that forcing women to wear burqas is wrong?” If Harris had said “SCIENCE proves that women shouldn’t be forced to wear burqas” or something like that, then he partly has himself to blame for getting the conversation off on the wrong foot.

        That little omission from this quote is telling, given Harris’ well-known ham-fisted rhetorical clumsiness and intellectual dishonesty.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          Doesn’t change the rest of the conversation, where she refuses to agree that putting out the eyes of children for mere (false) religious reasons is wrong. That’s insane. “Only someone who went to college could say something that stupid.”

          Also, IMHO politely disagreed about Sam Harris. He’s said one or two truly idiotic and hugely amoral things in his time, but overall his work is brilliant, and I completely support his thesis, with perhaps some quibbles about pedantic phrasing.

          In short, all you have to grant me is that it is “objectively wrong” or undeniably wrong that the describable universe where every conscious creature suffers as much as possible, for as long as possible, is bad. Throw on a little intellectual honesty, and it follows that morality is about the well-being and suffering of conscious creatures. Then, it follows that science can and does tell us what is objectively moral and immoral, just like any other scientific fact.

          Sam has said this quite clearly in several talks, although to my annoyance he doesn’t stress this particular structure which makes it sound.

          I very much thank Sam for doing away with any remaining notions I had about cultural relativism and moral relativism.

          • says

            Doesn’t change the rest of the conversation…

            How do we know that, if we don’t know how it started? If Sam Harris came into the discussion sounding like a racist, due perhaps to poor or dishonest choice of words, then I’d find it hard to blame this person for being reluctant to find herself agreeing with a racist. I’ve found myself in similar situations, where some idiot would make idiotic generalizations about “those people,” and then mention a specific bad thing “those people” were known to do, and in the context of the argument we were in, it was hard, or impossible, to agree that that particular thing was bad, without the racist taking it as agreement with his entire idiotic opinion. Bigots can be manipulative, and they often go out of their way to make it hard to agree with any one thing they say without it being taken as acceptance of the whole package of their stupid BS.

            Also, what “She” said was “It would depend on why they were doing it.” She wasn’t necessarily agreeing with the practice; she may have been trying (albeit halfassedly) to get the conversation back on a more factual ground, by looking for a rational reason to accept or reject the practice in question.

            Besides, this woman wasn’t explaining herself at a press conference or a meeting with a boss or client; she was in an off-the-record argument about something outside her field of expertise (I see no indication that she was any kid of political activist), with no actual policy consequences. Taking her words to a wider (unintended) audience and pretending they’re “representative” of anything, is really kinda dishonest.

            PS: “Pedantic phrasing” is not just a peripheral complaint — the validity of one’s message is entirely dependent on one’s choice of words. If you say something stupid or dishonest, you don’t get to say you were right but you just used the wrong words.

          • says

            Another thing about Sam Harris: he once said, in an interview, that the Afghan Taliban was “the true face of Islam,” despite the fact that a) the Taliban are a tiny fraction of the overall Muslim population, and b) Afghanistan is an extraordinarily isolated, backward, brutalized, and war-torn part of the Muslim world. This is no less vile and dishonest than pointing to Crips in maximum-security prisons and calling them “the true face of Hispanic-Americans.”

            Sam Harris is a bigot, and nothing he says can be trusted unless it’s independently corroborated. So that’s one more good reason to discount this out-of-context anecdote of his.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Raging Bee

            then I’d find it hard to blame this person for being reluctant to find herself agreeing with a racist.

            Something like the fallacy fallacy mixed with the ad hom fallacy. See also “stopped clock”. If a racist says something which is right, it’s still right, and disagreeing just because the speaker is a racist is fallacious, and intellectually dishonest, and incompetent.

            to agree that that particular thing was bad, without the racist taking it as agreement with his entire idiotic opinion.

            And you’d rather tell statement you know to be false, aka lies?

            Also, what “She” said was “It would depend on why they were doing it.” She wasn’t necessarily agreeing with the practice; she may have been trying (albeit halfassedly) to get the conversation back on a more factual ground, by looking for a rational reason to accept or reject the practice in question.

            There is no reason to put out the eyes of every third child. I am as confident of that as I am that the Sun will rise tomorrow, give or take a little. There is absolutely no reason to bend over backwards to defend a horrid policy just because it’s in another culture. It is a sign of moral cowardice, or moral nihilism ala cultural relativism.

            Imagine if I proposed that we should put out the eyes of every third child in the United States. Are you going to ask why we should do it? Or are you going to properly conclude that I’m almost certainly full of shit? Your extreme modesty here is rather at odds with your epistemology in other threads where you claim infallibility on topics.

            Besides, this woman wasn’t explaining herself at a press conference or a meeting with a boss or client; she was in an off-the-record argument about something outside her field of expertise (I see no indication that she was any kid of political activist), with no actual policy consequences. Taking her words to a wider (unintended) audience and pretending they’re “representative” of anything, is really kinda dishonest.

            I cited this as an anecdote. I was clear that this was not evidence of a wider phenomenon. I cited it to ensure we’re all talking about the same thing. I was clear that the evidence that this is widespread is my own personal testimony – itself rather anecdotal with several probable biases, but at least better than a sample size of 1.

            PS: “Pedantic phrasing” is not just a peripheral complaint — the validity of one’s message is entirely dependent on one’s choice of words. If you say something stupid or dishonest, you don’t get to say you were right but you just used the wrong words.

            You assume too much, and you assume wrongly.

            My pedantic quibble with Sam Harris is that the does not explicitly start with Münchhausen trilemma and argue that it is an undeniable presupposition that morality is about the well-being of conscious creatures. Rather, he takes a different tactic, which IMHO is ill-formed. To that extent, he is wrong.

            However, once you accept as a premise that morality is about the well-being of conscious creatures, then nearly all of what Sam Harris has written and spoken about on this topic follows.

            Another thing about Sam Harris: he once said, in an interview, that the Afghan Taliban was “the true face of Islam,” despite the fact that a) the Taliban are a tiny fraction of the overall Muslim population, and b) Afghanistan is an extraordinarily isolated, backward, brutalized, and war-torn part of the Muslim world.

            Last I checked, a bigot is someone who holds an unjustified prejudice against a certain group. Last I checked, it’s more than reasonable and justified to hold that Christianity in whole and Islam in whole are miserable and should be destroyed (through open communication and dialog).

            I would say the true face of Christianity is the Spanish Inquisition and the crusades. Does that make me a bigot? This is just playing the “No True Scotsman” game, and I’m not much interested. It depends on your definition of a True Scotsman, e.g. True Christian.

            At least going by the holy books, I and Sam Harris are right. I am also thankful that most Christians and to a lesser extent some Muslims have figured out ways to ignore the bad bits of their holy books. I just wish Muslims would “get with the program” and start a piece-meal approach with their holy book like more or less all modern day Christians.

            This is no less vile and dishonest than pointing to Crips in maximum-security prisons and calling them “the true face of Hispanic-Americans.”,

            Last I checked, being Muslim is not a race or ethnic group, unlike Spanish people. Being a Muslim is a voluntary choice. Being Spanish is not.

            Last I checked, Spanish people do not have a complete consensus that a particular book defines their culture and identity. Last I checked, Muslims do have a complete consensus that a particular book is the defining characteristic of their group. Further, the holy book of the Muslims commands many, many great evils which would make the Crips look like a volunteer group that cleans up public highways. (The Christian bible too would make Crips look wonderful compared to Christians.) I don’t think you fully appreciate the evil of those books, and the incredibly dishonest tricks that you have to do as a Christian or Muslim to get out of those horrid bits.

            Your analogy is not applicable.

          • says

            If a racist says something which is right, it’s still right, and disagreeing just because the speaker is a racist is fallacious, and intellectually dishonest, and incompetent.

            Like I said, it was an informal conversation on a subject outside her expertise, with no audience who needed to hear her say anything. She was under absolutely no obligation to engage with Harris at all, or to be prepared to argue with him, or to waste any time or effort trying to argue with him, especially if she had any reason to suspect that he was badgering her and was not willing to argue in good faith. Just like I’m under no obligation to answer any of your questions when you repeatedly misrepresent what I say (as you’ve done in two threads so far in a mere week).

            Last I checked, being Muslim is not a race or ethnic group, unlike Spanish people. Being a Muslim is a voluntary choice. Being Spanish is not.

            So fucking what? That doesn’t make Harris’ allegation any less bigoted or false. Seriously, what part of Afghanistan isn’t really identical to the rest of the Muslim world do you not understand?

            Last I checked, Muslims do have a complete consensus that a particular book is the defining characteristic of their group.

            You didn’t check very well — it’s not a “complete consensus,” there’s shitloads of disagreement about how to apply the book’s rules. That’s why so many Muslims loudly condemn the Taliban, Boko Haram, and ISIL. And that’s also why groups like them kill so many more Muslims than infidels; and why so many Muslims want to live in non-Muslim secular countries.

            The fact that you would say such a thing, bloviating about Muslims as if they were all indistinguishable to you, once again proves you’re just as much a bigot as a liar. No, your bigotry may not be “racism,” but that doesn’t matter — it’s the same in all other ways, including the “those people are all alike” fallacy. So yes, my analogy IS applicable: same ignorant bigoted thinking, same kind of false conclusion resulting from it.

            However, once you accept as a premise that morality is about the well-being of conscious creatures, then nearly all of what Sam Harris has written and spoken about on this topic follows.

            No, it doesn’t — he’s still a bigoted simpleton, and he’s still demonstrably wrong about the “true face of Islam.” Also, being right about one thing does not give you an excuse to be a total disgraceful bigoted ignoramus about everything else.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Raging Bee
            Should I bother quoting the sections of the Christian bible which give commandments that would put the Spanish Inquisition to shame? Selling your daughter into slavery. Stoning disobedient children. Giving chemical concoctions to your wife (effective property) if you even suspect she’s been unfaithful, which can cause abortion and sterilization. War crimes including genocide, mass rape, taking child sex slaves, and so forth. Remember that Jesus in the Sermon On The Mount explicitly confirms that all of the old laws are still in effect.

            Sorry. Christians don’t get a pass, any more than a modern day person who identifies as a Nazi gets a pass. And yes – I went there. Both groups committed mass genocide. Well, the Nazis actually did. The Christians only purportedly committed several genocides. The archeology indicates that several of the genocides as recorded in the bible probably didn’t happen. – But that’s besides the point. If the Christians are going to celebrate a book which celebrates genocide, mass rape, and other war crimes, they deserve only my ridicule and scorn.

            Finally, ignorance is only a partial excuse. What’s the phrase … “Intent is not magic”?

            So yea, maybe I was too easy on Christians when I said true Christianity is defined by the Spanish Inquisition. The actual Christian bible is far worse.

            Or what – you’re saying it’s unfair to define Christianity according to the (purported) recording teachings of their goddamned Christ? Strongly disagreed.

            Like, for example, if there was a good person who just happened to call himself a Nazi, and (wrongly) say Nazis were misunderstood, are you going to let that fly? I hope not. Yet you’re going to let Christians get away with exactly the same shenanigan? Bullshit.

          • says

            Should I bother quoting the sections of the Christian bible which give commandments that would put the Spanish Inquisition to shame? Selling your daughter into slavery. Stoning disobedient children. Giving chemical concoctions to your wife (effective property) if you even suspect she’s been unfaithful, which can cause abortion and sterilization. War crimes including genocide, mass rape, taking child sex slaves, and so forth. Remember that Jesus in the Sermon On The Mount explicitly confirms that all of the old laws are still in effect.

            Should I bother pointing out the obvious fact that there are huge numbers of Christians — including most of my extended family and all but the most deranged Christians I’ve known in my life so far — who show no sign of supporting ANY of the policies you mention?

            (Also, please cite and quote the bit where “Jesus…explicitly confirms that all of the old laws are still in effect.” I’ve heard that allegation before, and so far, all I’ve seen to support it is a blatant misreading of the Bible passage. Furthermore, that alleged confirmation by Jesus is flatly contradicted by his own actions — he bent and broke old laws many times, and explained his actions to those who questioned him about it.)

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Raging Bee

            Let’s talk about some of the big incontrovertible ones.

            Your god has commanded genocide and human sacrifice. Armies in the name of god, often acting under explicit orders of god, have committed various war crimes, including genocide and mass child rape. Thus, being a Christian is a celebration of a creature who has explicitly commanded genocide, rape, child rape.

            Hell, your god purportedly killed off every living creature in the world ala Noah. Biggest mass murderer ever (by percentage of world population).

            Slavery is clearly condoned and allowed in the old testament. Rules are set up for selling your daughter into slavery, for raping an unwed woman to force her to marriage which was effective slavery. Rules are set up to convert your indentured servitude fellow Jews into permanent slaves which can be passed down to your children.

            The new testament changes nothing. Time and time again slavery is explicitly condoned, and even supported!

            Ephesians 6:5

            5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.

            1 Timothy 6:1-2

            6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slaves.

            Luke 12:47-48

            47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

            Let’s not forget it was Jesus meek and mild who introduced the concept of hell, that either you suck up to your eternal celestial tyrant or you suffer miserably for eternity. That supreme evil – the evil of hell – was introduced only in the new testament.

            Anyone who celebrates this purported Christian god creature is either grossly ignorant or sick in the head.

            I am glad that your extended family are apparently ignorant, and don’t know what their own holy book says. You seem equally ignorant about the book or in denial. The world is a better place because of it. It’s better than actually following the commands of the book like a lot of modern Muslims. I just wish all of them would stop being willfully ignorant, read their holy book, and then go the distance and completely disown the entire horrid book and the “Christian” name and “Muslim” name. (Jews too.)

          • says

            Slavery is clearly condoned and allowed in the old testament.

            So what? Christians believe in the divinity and primacy of Jesus, whose teachings supercede the OT. (Also, where did Jesus say you can’t abolish slavery?) You seem to be confusing Christians with ultra-orthodox Jews. That’s what happens when you listen to the extremist liars you pretend to oppose.

            Your god has commanded genocide and human sacrifice. Armies in the name of god, often acting under explicit orders of god, have committed various war crimes, including genocide and mass child rape. Thus, being a Christian is a celebration of a creature who has explicitly commanded genocide, rape, child rape.

            First, what makes you think it’s “my” god? And second, there are plenty of Christians who celebrate a lot of things that have nothing to do with any of the atrocious crap we find in the Bible. The Bible is not a guide to what Christians really believe today, any more than it can tell you who will be the next president of Uzbekistan.

            Here’s a rather obvious truth you’ve clearly missed or ignored in your simpleminded bigotry: Christians are not a monolithic bloc who all believe the exact same thing. And what a given Christian believes is not always easily discerned from reading a book that was written thousands of years before he/she was born. (Also, the Bible is, as we all know, a muddled contradoctory mess, so even those Christians who get their beliefs from the Bible can still have contradictory beliefs.)

            I am glad that your extended family are apparently ignorant, and don’t know what their own holy book says.

            How the fuck do you know what anyone in my family knows? Sweeping overgeneralizations based on zero knowledge are a hallmark of bigotry. Did it ever occur to you that a statement like that might need a little fact-checking? There’s no point in trying to explain anything to someone as closed-minded, ignorant, pretentious and dishonest as you.

          • says

            PS: I’ll get to your Bible quotes in a bit more detail later, but I will say now that the Luke quote does not “condone” slavery. Ever hear of something called “analogy?” If you can’t recognize one, then you can’t possibly pretend to know what the Bible says.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            You seem to want to focus on the weaker arguments and ignore the strong arguments. Ok. Here are only my strong arguments.

            All Christians – more or less without exception – celebrate a book which celebrates a purported “god” creature which committed the largest mass murder in history, ala Noah’s mass flood. I win on this point alone. Even if we take this as a metaphor and non-history, it’s still an atrocious story. Also see: Job.

            All Christians – more or less without exception – celebrate a book which celebrates a purported “god” creature which requires worship, and which punishes non-believers in some fashion. This includes the standard hell believers, annihilationists, and even reconciliationists. As long as there is some punishment for nonbelief, that is a wicked position to hold, and anyone who celebrates that position deserves my scorn and ridicule.

            They celebrate a book which celebrates the followers of god, and celebrate their actions in a wide ranging campaign of genocide, mass child rape, and other warcrimes. Whether the god commanded it or not (which it did sometimes) is irrelevant. The book still celebrates the actions of these people. Anyone who celebrates warcrimes deserves my scorn and ridicule.

            Again, there are no honest ways to dodge these conclusions. The only partial way out is ignorance, and just like ignorance of the law is no excuse, ignorance of what your damned holy book says is not a good excuse either. Then, if they go divine command theory, or if they go “god has a plan, and I should trust him”, then I get to invoke Nuremberg: “I was just following orders” is not an excuse.

            Ignorance is a partial excuse, and to the extent practicing Christians are ignorant or in denial about the content of their book which they regularly praise, I hold them less morally culpable. However, “I was just following orders” is no excuse at all, and I hold such Christians fully responsible for the evils which they visit on others.

          • says

            All Christians – more or less without exception – celebrate a book…

            “Celebrate a book?” What does that phrase even mean? Are you saying Christians have parties and holidays for a book? Your arguments fail because they’re based on a phrase that has absolutely no specific meaning.

            And if you think “all Christians” believe ANYTHING “more or less without exception” (a self-contradicting bit of waffling there, which further undermines your arguments) then you’re a clueless fucking idiot. Have you ever heard of the different denominations of Christianity? Have you read ANY history?

            All of your major assertions are easily disproven by the sort of simple empirical observation and experience I’ve been doing since I was twelve. It’s not that hard, and you really have no excuse to be so consistently stupid about so many things.

            And the fact that someone as stupid as you is claiming Sam Harris as any sort of source or authority, doesn’t do his credibility any favors either.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Raging Bee
            Seriously. What the fuck is your problem. You need to engage my points. You need to explain what sort of simple empirical observations show I’m wrong. And stop citing Sam Harris. That’s just fallacious right now, some sort of ad hom or poisoning the well.

            I would think it non-controversial that Christians celebrate their god, worship their god, give thanks to their god, look up to their god as a role model, etc. You don’t think this is descriptive of nearly every Christian? What the fuck? Let’s go to the street then and ask that question of Christians. I know what the overwhelming response will be.

            I would think it non-controversial that Christians believe their whole bible is divinely inspired. Want to take a guess what an overwhelming majority of Christians on the street would say to this? Then I get to invoke the evil bits, like Noah’s Flood, Abraham ordered to sacrifice Isaac, and so on. Whether history or metaphor, the only honest reading is evil. Noah’s flood is collective punishment, humans have no inherent worth, god can kill us whenever he likes. Isaac is similar – the lesson is to obey god’s word, even when it doesn’t make sense. That’s sick.

            Let’s ask too if there are any evil parts in the bible which are mere human invention. I can bet on what the overwhelming response would be. And even for the people who say that there are some mere human inventions in there which are evil – why don’t they argue to take those parts out of the bible!? Hypocrites and liars. As soon as you show me a significant movement of Christians who are arguing to reform and rewrite the bible, take out certain books, etc., then you have a point, but we both know that Christians do hold that their bible is at least divinely inspired in whole, and that almost all of them would never even consider taking out parts of the text.

            Punishment for nonbelievers. Let’s go ask Christians if they think that god will welcome believers and nonbelievers equally. In other words, let’s ask them if there are any benefits after death to belief, or any punishments after death for nonbelief. I know what the overwhelming response will be. Any punishment at all for mere nonbelief is sick. Thus the Christian god is sick. Thus anyone who celebrates the Christian god is sick (or grossly ignorant).

            Respond to my goddamned points you coward.

          • Kaveh Mousavi says

            Please stop calling people cowards. You can make your point without all these. Thanks.

          • says

            EL, you’ve flat-out lied about my words so many times you have no integrity left. I don’t “need” to do anything you demand. Kindly take your exaggerated self-importance somewhere else.

            You need to explain what sort of simple empirical observations show I’m wrong.

            I already did: I pointed out that only a tiny minority of the Christians I’ve met (I live in a majority-Christian country) conform to your ridiculous over-generalized smears. And look, I just pointed it out again. Is that not enough explanation for you?

            And stop citing Sam Harris. That’s just fallacious right now, some sort of ad hom or poisoning the well.

            Seriously?! I point out that YOU are defending Harris, and you take that as an “ad hom?” Not so proud to support him now, are you?

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            @Raging Bee
            You never answer my questions. You never address my points. You say I lie. You say I didn’t post a counter-argument (down-thread) despite that I posted an argument in a near-formal format. I wonder why I even bothered you engage with you here after writing you off in the other two threads. I’m done with you, probably for good.

            I’ll come back if you can arse yourself to actually address my points and answer my questions.

      • says

        As it turns out, to denigrate the Taliban at a scientific meeting is to court controversy…

        Well, yeah, it was a SCIENTIFIC meeting, consisting of people who had come expecting to talk about scientific issues, not to get into get into contentious arguments over this or that person’s political passions. (Also, there may have been Muslims at that conference, so it would have made sense not to bring their religion into it.)

    • colnago80 says

      Hey Bee, Khomeini has been dead for 25 years. The current mad mullah running Iran is Ali Khamenei. Try to keep up.

  14. says

    Another important point: since you’ve admitted that the word “culture” can mean a wide variety of things, not all of which you condemn, perhaps you should try to prevent further misunderstandings by dropping the word “culture” and using some other word or phrase that better describes what you consider “the problem.” I suggest we use the phrase “political culture,” since it’s mainly the political and nation-building actions that are most atrocious and harmful: the repressive theocratic laws, the lack of strong secular institutions, the brutality of various insurgent groups, the resistance to any form of civil society or social order that isn’t purely Islamic, etc.

    I believe the choice of words is why Western liberals tend to resist your talk of “cultural” superiority: it’s what we’ve been nearing actual racists say about nonwhites all our lives. “Our culture is just plain better than theirs” has been used to justify a lot of things that never had anything to do with freeing people or improving their lives. I’m sure you’re not a racist, but if you want others to be sure of that, then you need to stop talking like a racist.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      @Raging Bee

      I believe the choice of words is why Western liberals tend to resist your talk of “cultural” superiority: it’s what we’ve been nearing actual racists say about nonwhites all our lives. “Our culture is just plain better than theirs” has been used to justify a lot of things that never had anything to do with freeing people or improving their lives. I’m sure you’re not a racist, but if you want others to be sure of that, then you need to stop talking like a racist.

      Would you be willing to make the life of people under a hypothetical Taliban rule better? Would this not be operating under the premise that your own moral views are better than the moral stances of the Taliban? Would this not require you to believe that you got it right, and the Taliban got it wrong? How is that different than saying that western culture got this one part right, and the Taliban culture got this one part wrong?

      If you were to be born again as a random member of a society, would you prefer to be born in the west today, or born under a hypothetical Taliban rule?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil_of_ignorance
      I know what the only honest informed answer is. Do you?

      Thus far, it seems the choices available to be are: 1- Say the Taliban culture is better than western culture, an evil and absurd proposition, and one you also don’t like. 2- Say western culture is generally better than the Taliban culture, and especially true on specific points like requiring women to wear cloth bags, which you also don’t like. 3- Say nothing, and be an effective accomplice to the evils done by the Taliban. “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”

      Right now, you are acting exactly like the people whom Kaveh (and I) have identified as having a serious moral problem.

  15. says

    Would you be willing to make the life of people under a hypothetical Taliban rule better? Would this not be operating under the premise that your own moral views are better than the moral stances of the Taliban? Would this not require you to believe that you got it right, and the Taliban got it wrong? How is that different than saying that western culture got this one part right, and the Taliban culture got this one part wrong?

    What do any of those questions have to do with my point about speaking clearly and choosing our words more honestly? You really seem to have a hard time staying on point.

    Right now, you are acting exactly like the people whom Kaveh (and I) have identified as having a serious moral problem.

    Either that’s a lie, like most of what you say, or the people you criticize are right, and you’re wrong. Where is the “moral problem” in expecting people to talk sensibly to avoid being misunderstood?

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      I didn’t notice the reply earlier. Indentation was off. Sorry.

      You’re dodging. Please answer my questions. If you were born as a random member of a society, would you prefer to be born in the Taliban society (of a decade ago), or an average modern western society? Is this an arbitrarily personal choice? Or does this reflect some sort of universal values? On what basis do you make your choice?

      The only honest and informed answer is that you would prefer to be born in a modern western society, and that your basis for that decision is that modern western society and culture is superior to the society and culture of the Taliban (of a decade ago).

      • says

        Why do I have to answer any of your questions? My comment was intended to say something about poor choice of words leading to misunderstandings, or outright falsehoods, that could undermine a message, and your questions have nothing at all to do with that subject. If you have something to say about the issue I’m raising, then say it already — no one’s stopping you. Otherwise we’re done, and you can go bother someone else with your self-important diversions.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          What poor choice of words? Modern western culture is superior to the culture of the Taliban. This is an objective material fact which would be perverse to deny, just like hammers fall when released.

          • says

            What do you mean “What poor choice of words?” Was I commenting in Chinese? The fact that you ask a question that was already answered from my first plain-English comment on, once again proves your ignorance is deliberate.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            I read what you wrote. I think you’re wrong. I posted a counter-argument. It would be nice if you would engage with the counter-argument. Rather, you are purposefully not engaging.

            Argument:

            Would you rather be born as a random member of a modern western society, or as a random member in the Taliban society? Do you think there’s a meaningful difference if I changed the question to: Would you rather be born as a random member of a modern western culture, or as a random member in the Taliban culture? There is only one honest answer. Is this some personal preference, or some sort of universal preference which we can assign to every human being? Why do you prefer a modern western society, or culture? Again, the only honest answer is: Because modern western society, or culture, is better in some very important and all-encompassing way than the society, or culture, of the Taliban.

            Thus, your options appear to be:
            1- to agree that our culture is better than the culture of the Taliban, or
            2- to play word games about “culture” vs “society”, or
            3- to argue dishonestly that my position is every facet of western culture is better than every facet of the Taliban culture, or
            4- to throw the women of the Taliban under the bus by arguing that it’s not universally wrong to force them to live in cloth bags and it’s only wrong according to our western cultural notions.

            Of course, I welcome a fifth option too if you can make a coherent case where I went wrong.

          • says

            You did not post a counter-argument, you changed the subject. And you continue to use the word “culture,” long after Kaveh has admitted it’s over-broad and describes far more things than the ones he’s objecting to.

  16. Hubert Lamontagne says

    It’s no coincidence you find the word “cult” in “culture”. I feel that everything you say about how “culture” destroys everything is related to its cult-like aspects.

    Here’s how cults work:

    – First of all, promise big. Common promises are paradise on earth (Communism), eternal life in heaven (all the Christian derived groups like Jehova’s Witnesses), magic powers (Scientology), curing all illnesses (Scientology), guaranteed win in any war (Nazism), eternal life through cloning (Raelians), and so on. If you don’t promise big, people will not join your group.

    – Next, you need a guru, who knows HOW to achieve this big promise, and in his infinite generosity is willing to tell us how to achieve it. This guru may be living (like Rael) or dead (like L. Ron Hubbard).

    – Next, since the big promise is not happening right now, you need high emotional impact activities to show that at least your group is good for something. Common choices include meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions and debilitating work routines.

    – To reinforce belief in the big promise, you need to keep your members as close as possible together, so that they reinforce each other, in a sort of feedback loop of ideas. This means you will demand high commitment from members, such as having them all of their time in group activities, and you should dictate some things like how the members should act, feel, what jobs they should take, who to marry, what clothes to wear, how to discipline children, and so on.

    – People from outside the group will tell your members that their beliefs are stupid and that your big promise is impossible. This is why you keep your members away from them and instill an us-versus-them mentality, where the rest of the world is in a conspiracy to suppress your truth, and only the select few in the group are going to save the world (or go to heaven). Some examples of conspiracies: Satan pulling the strings behind everything (Christian related cults), or Jews (Nazism), or reactionary bourgeoisie (Communism), or psychiatrists (Scientology), and so on.

    The solution for all this is that you must avoid having ideas circulate in a feedback loop (which is a recipe for disaster, as your ideas become disconnected from reality and progressively more crazy and dangerous). Instead, you must bring in as many fresh ideas as possible, through scientists, based on experimentation and hard data from the real world, and also from other people that aren’t in the same echo chamber as you.

    That’s why you have have some liberals tell you that your “culture” has value, even though this “culture” is bad for you. It’s because it has some value to THEM: the ideas that they steal can easily be rejected when they turn out to be false or dangerous, since these ideas are not part of their echo chamber (kindof like how a part of a virus is harmless when it’s isolated from the rest of the virus).

    • says

      It’s no coincidence you find the word “cult” in “culture”.

      Yeah, and listening to another culture’s music, or liking their architectural styles, makes me part of their “cult.”

      Seriously, dude, there’s huge parts of a culture that don’t have jack shit to do with “how cults work.” Thanks for providing such a shining example of how far wrong people can go when they start by using the wrong word to describe what they’re against.

      • Hubert Lamontagne says

        Have you even read the article? Here’s the important part that you skipped:

        “Culture can mean three things. First is the canon of literature and philosphy and other human intellectual pursuits, like what Arnold advocates for in Culture and Anarchy. Clearly we’re not talking about that. ”

        Music and architecture fall squarely into this category so they’re NOT what the author is talking about in this article (and I’m not arguing about these at all either). Kaveh Mousavi is talking about a special, restricted meaning of “culture”. The meaning of “culture” he’s using is the meaning you use when you say that India has much more corruption than Finland because it has a “culture” of corruption, or when you say that Saudi Arabia has a “culture” that promotes the superiority of men and the subjugation of women. This is the kind of “culture” he’s railing against.

        My argument is that “cult-like” societal structures cause people to hold irrational beliefs and magnifies the differences in power and standing between people, which in turn turns out a perfect breeding ground for this kind of deleterious “culture”.

        • says

          Yes, I read the article. That’s what prompted me to ask why the author continued to use a word after admitting it didn’t adequately describe what he was attacking. Did you read my response?

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