Defining “Culture War(s)”

Right Wing crazies often talk about how they are fighting a “Culture War” here in America. But they haven’t taken the time to actualy define what these wars are or whom they are being fought against. From the outside it looks like it’s traditional values being replaced by the newer generation’s culture. But haven’t we seen this time and time again? Over and over for many generations? What makes this so special that it needs the term ‘war’ attached to it?

I know exactly why: the right-wing Christies want to keep their culture this way permanently,  with laws. Outlaw abortion, keep eroding Church & State, and outlaw homosexuality. Sound crazy? Maybe, but after Boycott Ford was launched yesterday, it seems all too possible. Launched by the American Family Assosciation, America’s newest hate group, Boycott Ford intends to get people to boycott Ford because they refused to discriminate against their homosexual employees. Yes, you read that correctly.

While this is hardly known to the general population, it is well known by numerous homosexual organizations. In fact, the Human Rights Campaign (a national homosexual organization whose goal is homosexual marriage) gave Ford a 100% corporate rating.

Emphasis mine. I initially thought that this culture war stuff was just a ploy to get people to pay attention to the right-wing expidentures. But this is a war. The US is pretty much as divided right now as it can be without being at a civil war. A culture war is the first step to a civil war.

In fact, history repeats itself (well, duh, but stay with me here). Peter the Great used his superpower in Russia to change its culture and westernize the country. The same can happen here if we let the right-wing evangelicals gain too much power. No more contraceptives or abortion, public hangings of homosexuals, God everywhere. And this war isn’t totally metaphorical either. There are madmen bombing abortion clinics, and kids getting beaten up in school for not believing what their Christian schoolmates do. Christians are getting libraries to practice censorship by banning books they don’t like (i.e, sexuality books that say Homosexuality is ok).

Of course, it’s possible that the Christians are suffering from Arborary Vision Imparement (they can’t see the forest for the trees), but I find that highly unlikely. I was going to conclude this post with “if it gets too bad, we can always move to Canada”. But after reading Socialist Swine’s blog, I think the same thing could happen there too. And in the next country. And the next. Christian craziness spreading like a tumour so much that the only safe place left is New Guinea.

But then, you never know…

58 thoughts on “Defining “Culture War(s)”

  1. Funny, I thought the goal of the Human Rights Campaign was to secure the protection of human rights throughout the world!  You know, since human rights is in the name!

    Also: Ford?  Ford is a pretty conservative company, no?

  2. I don’t feel like starting a topic on this simple question so I’ll post it here.  What do you base your system of ethics on?  What ethical system do you follow?  This isn’t a pointed question.  Are you a utilitarian?  If so what type?  Do the consequences you look for have a certain aim(eg happiness, pleasure, justice, freedom, etc.)?  Are you an egoist?  A deontologist?  Other?  Why or on what basis have you decided why certain things are or are not wrong?

  3. I am a former member of the Roman Catholic church so their views are pretty much scarred into my brain. I do agree abortion needs to end, but not by making it illegal.

    I hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men (and women) are created equally. My views on ethics are pretty much the same as most SEB readers.

    My basis on what things are right and wrong are based on logic and common sense. We’re only human, though. No one person’s views are entirely correct.

    Ford is a pretty conservative company, no?

    Read the last line of the article.

  4. What do you base your system of ethics on?  What ethical system do you follow?

    It may not be that simple.  I can’t speak for the rest, but I don’t think I have an easily labeled ethical system.  Some of my beliefs tend to coincide with Taoism, but not all.  “An it harm no one, do what you will” is also a guideline I try to use, although I’m not Wiccan/pagan.  At times I’d like to just say something like I’m Taoist, or Hindu, or whatever.  But I do not, b/c I don’t believe in forcing myself to live in a particular box that I don’t fully fit into. 

    If pressed, I’d probably go with Sub-Genius, just b/c I get to make up my own damn religion. wink  Essentially, Sub-Genius could be viewed as a “none of the above” answer, so don’t think that I’ve put myself in a box – more of a big sack.

    Speaking of a “variable” container, another of my favored phrases getting through life is Clint Eastwood from “Heartbreak Ridge”: “Improvise, overcome, adapt”.

  5. One cannot hold two contrary views simultaneously without rationalizing or justifying them so that they become complementary. To do otherwise causes a state of tension referred to as ‘cognitive dissonance’ in the psychological literature.

    Consequently, I would say that the Christian Right refers to these events as a Culture “War” because while “at war” for a ‘just’ because it allows them to justify (“just-as—if-I’d-never-done”) all sorts of acts and words that are profoundly contrary to core “Christian”  values of love,  kindness, compassion, truth and so on. (Sound familiar Mr. Bush?) 

    On the question of personal ethics (and a whole lot of other things), I would say that who I am (and who most of us are) is the result of a biology X social experiences interaction. Predisposed to social support and raised as an over-functioning first-born Catholic daughter, my first inclination is to care for others and be concerned about the consequences that my actions may have on others. Nothing mystical about it.

  6. Dang, I hate it when I type faster than my brain thinks. That should be, “Consequently, I would say that the Christian Right refers to these events as a Culture “War

  7. What do you base your system of ethics on?

    Theo, the Balinese have a saying: “We have no art.  We just do the best we can”.

    I say: I have no ethics.  I just do the best I can.

  8. Arborary Vision Impaired… made me smile, but I think the Cranial-Rectal infarction may be a little more to the point, as these people have their heads firmly planted up their ***es. As for a system of belief, I’m a Stylistic. You know, “You are everything… and everything is you…” Hey, at least you can dance to it!!!

  9. Great post, Bo$$!  Everything that I have read agrees with your assertion that the ideological differences between the two poles of America are deepening.  What is somewhat ironic is that Bush claimed during his first term that he would be the “Great Unifier”, healing the rift, ad nauseum.  I haven’t seen this mentioned in any articles recently, just like so many of his political gaffes, it sank back down below the radar.  Whatever happened about Spygate?
      Theo, philosophically, I am an ethical emotivist.  In practice, Kant’s Categorical Imperative is a pretty accurate summation of how I comport myself.

  10. TheBo$$: Sound crazy?

    Yeah, pretty much.

    TheBo$$: Keep eroding Church & State.. ..Launched by the American Family Assosciation, America’s newest hate group.

    You’re aware that the American Family Association defends the rights of Wiccans and Satanists to worship without government interference, right?

    You’re aware that they do this because like most Evangelicals, the last thing in the world they would ever want is for government to stick its big, clumsy mitts into the world of religion.  Right?

    Here’s their most recent pronouncement about the separation of Church and State: “The parents have the right to raise their child in [the Wiccan] faith, just as I have the right to raise my child in the Christian faith.

  11. Does Ford currently market any hybrid vehicles? I’m going to be in the market, I want to go hybrid, and this seems a fairly good reason to buy Ford (all other factors being roughly equal).

  12. to understand that homosexuality is an unhealthy lifestyle choice

    See? This is one of the bigest problems with religious conservatives and those who generally prefer personal ideology over research.

    For the vast majority of people in the world, sexual orientation is not a choice!!! Do the research and look at the science. But wait—before you do that, go out and take several advanced statistics courses, courses in research methods, psychometry, biology, and critical thinking. Then you’ll be in a position to make a reasonable evaluation of the literature on sexual orientation.

    And perhaps you’d like to share with us the story of your personal decision to become a heterosexual?

  13. LM, Ford has one hybrid vehicle at the moment and that would be the Hybrid Escape. Haven’t heard much about how good or bad it is as I’m not a big fan of Ford products, but that’s just me.

  14. DC said:

    You seem outraged that parents are taking an interest in what books their children read.  Maybe we should have books in school libraries that say polygamy is ok?  Or bestiality is ok?  Or that if your 44 year old piano teacher likes to touch you when Mom leaves the room, that’s ok?

      Errr… at what point did he say anything about being outraged about parents taking an interest in what their children read?  I re-read his post to make sure that I hadn’t inadvertantly missed it, but still can’t find his “outrage” over parents knowing what their children read.  I think that was the point, people other than the parents are trying to determine what is best for your child.  Being exposed to an idea doesn’t equate espousing the idea.  In addition, your attempt to make a connection between homosexuality and bestiality and pedophilia ia asinine, disingenuous, and pathetic.  What consenting adults do between themselves is incomparable to an adult forcing himself on a child or an animal.  As for polygamy or polyandry (which you excluded for some reason), sure why not, as long as all parties involved are in agreement.  It has been practiced (and is still practiced) in some cultures.
      One of the (very) few valid points you made is that not all conservatives are Christians.  You even managed to bungle that point by turning around and calling liberals “wackos”.  The generalization that most conservatives (in America) are Christian probably holds true more often than most liberals are “wackos”.  Of course, it is hard to judge since “wacko” could mean anything.  For all we know, you might think that any person who doesn’t believe what you do is a “wacko”.  Before you climb back up on your soapbox, I do not really consider myself “conservative” or “liberal”.  Some of my views mesh with conservatives, some with liberals, and some with neither.  I view myself as a radical individualist.  Having said that, I do find that “liberals” tend to be mroe open-minded than conservatives and more willing to concede a point if they are shown valid logical arguments counter to their points.
      BTW, I think that you need to go polish your statue of McCarthy- it looks like it’s a little tarnished. wink

  15. From Daryl Cantrell:

    You’re aware that they do this because like most Evangelicals, the last thing in the world they would ever want is for government to stick its big, clumsy mitts into the world of religion.  Right?

    Oh, so THAT explains why the streets here in the Beltway are filled with Evangelicals protesting “faith-based initiatives”! And why they universally condemned Judge Roy Moore for erecting a monument to the Ten Commandments in his courthouse! And why you always hear them saying that this should be a secular country, since the dollar bill has “Novus Ordo Seclorum” printed on it! Thanks for clearing that up, Daryl!!!!1!

    Here is how wackos on the left see the world: Four unelected people impose their will on an entire state, inventing a new legal right out of whole cloth — that’s “democracy

  16. Or that if your 44 year old piano teacher likes to touch you when Mom leaves the room, that’s ok?

    WHO TOLD YOU ABOUT THAT??!! *runs off crying* (Although, I did have a piano teacher a couple years ago who was around 44 years old, but he never touched me.)

    Of course the AFA defends the Wiccans. It’s good PR.  Or Karma if they believe in that (which they probably think is satanic, because they are uneducated, and being stupid eventually leads to being hateful).

  17. Daryl appears to be unable to think outside of his black and white box so I’m not sure how successful sarcasm is going to be with him, Ulfrekr.

    We all know that anyone who is “perceptive enough to understand that homosexuality is an unhealthy lifestyle choice

  18. Give Daryll more credit, guys. Most trolls just come in here and spew a bunch of bible verses and call us morons. At least he took the time to respond to each part of the article, instead of it as a whole.

    Or maybe I’m going to easy on him?

  19. No, Daryll is not a troll.  He’s an intelligent, though patriotic and bigoted, guy.  Some time ago I started a thread here just after the election entitled “Why are Americans so Stupid?” and we heard a lot from him.  Hi Daryll, and welcome back!

    I’ll just tackle one point here:

    We’ve had the same experience here in Massachusetts: One day we woke up with same-sex marriage crammed down our throats.

    I’ve heard of people having other things crammed down their throats, but same-sex marriage?  Did it hurt?  It must have stuck in your craw, or you wouldn’t be complaining.

    Seriously- I wasn’t aware that the Massachussetts law made same-sex marriage mandatory, which I would oppose too.  But if you don’t want to marry a person of the same sex, don’t.  As far as I know, people in same-sex marriages are no more likely to become murderers, bank robbers, child molesters, or spammers than you or I.  If you know of any evidence to the contrary, show it.  If you can’t, then I would say it’s none of your business whom anyone else wants to marry.

    This is a classical distinction between liberals and conservatives.  The liberal says: I live how I want to live, you live how you want to live.  The conservative says: I live how I want to live, you live how I want you to live.

  20. This thread reminds me why CNN has mercifully cancled CrossFire:

    The problem with this post is it places an extremist lens on contemporary US politics.  This is the same type of “end-o-times” rhetoric the RightWing uses to rally the masses, just injected with a secular flavor by the ConsumeristLeft.  It’s important to remember this:  American politics were a lot more radical, uncivil, polerized and verging on armed conflict in the 1890’s or very-much-so the 1960’s than they are today in 2005.  It’s important to remember these and other far more divisive eras in American history.

    This thread is yet another example of political hyperventilating.

    Seriously, count to 10, breath deeply, and then consider….
    If you want to get upset, and really hyperventilate, about America’s future, don’t be misled by all these Consumerist Politicos (of Leftist or Rightist ilk).  There’s is just a momentary rhetorical campaign of this particular political-cycle.  Some of the *real issues* that should concern America:

    [] America’s steel industry
    [] Chinese defense spending
    [] Nationalization of various East LA gangs
    [] WhiteAmerica’s general inability to speak non-English languages

    (Also, i *love* how people gleefully toss around “Troll!” accusations.  Maybe we can emboss a big giant yellow “T” onto their avatars or posts?  Maybe we can ban Trolls.  Maybe we can make em disappear.  Please people.  (Dialogue sometimes happens with people whom you disagree.))

    Me thinks most Americans, both Left or Right, need to relax and believe the world isn’t always coming to an end.

    rob@egoz.org

  21. Some of the *real issues* that should concern America:
    []Nationalization of various East LA gangs
    []WhiteAmerica’s general inability to speak non-English languages

    ??? Nationalization of various East LA gangs?  I don’t know anything about this so tell me: are they actually trying to become a nation unto themselves?

    How is it a problem that “White” America seems inable to speak non-English languages?  Is it only “White” America that has this problem?  At my job, I deal with a population that is 90% “Black” Americans, and I do not see them able to speak in a non-English language at all (unless you want to include slang as a language, which I don’t).  Is this a problem as well?

  22. If you want to get upset, and really hyperventilate, about America’s future, don’t be misled by all these Consumerist Politicos (of Leftist or Rightist ilk).  There’s is just a momentary rhetorical campaign of this particular political-cycle.  Some of the *real issues* that should concern America:

    [] America’s steel industry
    [] Chinese defense spending
    [] Nationalization of various East LA gangs
    [] WhiteAmerica’s general inability to speak non-English languages

      Actually the *real* issues to worry about are:
    overpopulation, ozone depletion, soaring cancer rates (even in children younger than previously recorded), global warming, deforestation (the above are all tied together), peak oil, desertification, the Sixth Great Extinction, the loss of potable water, and finally the fact that the public has let this Administartion undermine the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  The current regime has turned the US into more of a police state than ever before.  The FBI has expanded powers that allow them to request information from banks, libraries, enter your home, all without your being notified of these searches.  Habeus corpus and the posse comitatus act are nothing more than a hollow shell of themselves.

  23. About the troll thing, it was the last sentence in Daryl’s post that set off my troll detector, not the general arguing.

    WhiteAmerica’s general inability to speak non-English languages

    Yo hablo Español, y’all!

  24. First off Daryl didn’t post about the White American language “problem”, TheBo$$.  rob did.

    Originally posted by TheBo$$:
    My basis on what things are right and wrong are based on logic and common sense.

    So if we could determine what is morally correct by what is most perceivably correct in the sociological, biological, chemical and physical realms of this world could we agree on an absolute set of moral values?

    Originally posted by rob adams:
    Some of the *real issues* that should concern America:

    It’s my opinion if we(the USA) helped the third world countries advance out of the third world lifestyle a lot of our own problems would be put in perspective and some of them may even go away.  My question is what should we do to encourage worldwide utopia?  Isn’t that the ultimate goal of humanity?  Shouldn’t it be?

  25. Some of the *real issues* that should concern America:

    [] America’s steel industry

    Let the steel industry live or die in the free market. Tariffs will just make steel more expensive, which will make every domestic industry that buys steel less competitive. Subsidies reward poor performance while punishing successful people and industries with higher taxes, making them as an aggregate less competitive.

    Check out the world map of economic freedom. Free markets work, socialism (a rose by any other name …) does not.

    [] Chinese defense spending

    Considering that the US spends more on defense than the next seven to fifteen nations combined, this is not a major concern.

    [] Nationalization of various East LA gangs

    Considering that most crimes are committed within the same ethnic group, I would be a lot more concerned that they are on the streets instead of in jail.

    [] WhiteAmerica’s general inability to speak non-English languages

    If people can’t communicate they can’t enjoy the benefits of mutual cooperation, whether that is in the business world or socially.

    Option A: White Americans become fluent in Spanish, Laotian, Indonesian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese.

    Option B: non-white Americans all become fluent in English

    While I am aware that liberals espouse transnational progressivism, it is tantamount to denying access to American society to immigrants.

  26. Haha!  Justin that map of world economic freedom is a joke.  However I am going to prefer to leave it alone for the moment to see if Socialist Swine can live up to his name to explain why.  If not away it goes if I get at.  I normally wouldn’t bother with a tangent like this but seeing as my own political philosophy takes many of its own cues from socialism I feel a need to defend it.

  27. So if we could determine what is morally correct by what is most perceivably correct in the sociological, biological, chemical and physical realms of this world could we agree on an absolute set of moral values?

    Not that I think you suggested this, Bo$$, but theo’s question is a good one (not the first time I’ve agreed with you, theo, at least about the questions we should be asking).  There is no humanly achievable absolute moral code that can be logically and scientifically defended.

    Theo and I both have transrational answers to this dilemma, but there the resemblance ends.  Theo’s answer is the Bible; mine is doing the best we can, remaining flexible and humble in the face of necessary imperfection.

    Of course, there’s stuff about being flexible in the Bible, too- the people who wrote it may have been deluded, but at least some of them weren’t idiots:

    Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 2 Corinthians 3:6

    This is Paul’s admittance of the imperfection of all law and the necessity for flexibility (in my humble godforsakenatheistdarwinist opinion).  If only more Christians took this to heart, and devoted more energy to making the world a better place for all of us, instead of making meanspirited attacks on gays and other religions.  Of course, it goes without saying that some Christians are on the forefront of the fight against injustice.

  28. Oh, and Justin- I checked out the “map of economic freedom”, and while I agree with the superiority of free markets in some ways, the enthusiastic pursuit of laissez-faire capitalism has been a major factor in:

    -environmental destruction.  For one small example: here in Austria the transit of goods across the country has increased tremendously since joining the EU, for instance yogurt produced in Germany sent to Italy to be packaged, back to Germany to be distributed, some of it sold back to Italy, crossing Austria three times- this sort of idiocy is a result of the new free market.  Not that “socialist” countries are innocent of environmental destruction- far from it.  But we can and must afford to do better for our grandchildren.

    -the increase of the gap between the rich and the poor, a major factor in terrorism.  When markets are entirely governed by money, most of it goes into the pockets of the already-rich and/or powerful.  Sure, the Third World countries engaging in trade with the West have more cash, but the peasants don’t see much of it.  Uncontrolled laissez-faire capitalism leads to child labor and other abuses of economic power.

    The “map of economic freedom” has some good points, for instance about the futility of using war to achieve peace. But the homeless in the US might not be thankful for the “economic freedom” they enjoy, which the “welfare states” of Canada and most of Europe deny them.  Of course, there are problems with welfare, and with any system that attempts to mitigate the problems of capitalism.  And free markets do have many advantages.  But human rights and the environment must be respected, and that means some controls are necessary, because we’re not angels.

  29. Originally posted by zilch:
    There is no humanly achievable absolute moral code that can be logically and scientifically defended.

    Why not?  Certainly if we made it subject to empirical methods it could work.  For simple example, as far as we can tell we perceive we have free will so actions that take away another person’s free will would be considered wrong.  Kidnapping, rape and murder are now absolutely wrong until someone can prove that we don’t have free will.  An ethical system like this could be extrapolated a long ways if we took from what is known about humanity through sociology, anthropology, psychology, biology, chemistry, and physics.  Complaints?

  30. You all will not believe how I came across this thread…lol. I was actually searching for nutritional information on a Quiznos salad I ate for lunch when I stumbled across this site. Now why my search engine even took the time to include this thread in my search results puzzles me still, yet after carefully reading through the many and various post and opinions thus stated on this tread and its topic, I was lead to write my perspective on the matter.

    In general a lot of excellent points were made in this thread thus far. Some I had absolutely no prior knowledge of while yet others I was all too familiar with. In any case my perspective is uniquely my own and does not seek to impose itself on anyone. It’s just a brief personal observation of my human experience, thus far, as a Black-Christian-Gay man (can anyone say oxymoronic?) in these United States of America.

    I am not sure where to begin on the whole “Culture War(s)

  31. Justin- I too suspect (from other posts as well) that our positions are not that far apart.  I’m still not convinced of the ability of the free market to deal with environmental issues, however.

    Rather than having 100 million tiny engines it would be more efficient to have a few dozen or hundred large power plants making energy out of oil.

    Yes, but we don’t have that technology yet.  And there are good reasons to produce and consume locally besides the reduction of emissions: the increase in traffic, and the concommitant building of roads, the noise, the danger (lots of previously quiet roads in villages here now have trucks roaring through, to avoid paying highway tolls).

    The beauty of price theory is that if it is cheaper to produce good by shipping it to a large factory halfway across the world a couple times then it is to assemble it locally then that is the most efficient, most environmentally friendly solution. Of course, that assumes that the government has properly assessed the external costs of damage to the environment from transportation with the proper market-based regulations.

    A big assumption indeed.  What, pray tell, are “proper market-based” regulations?  The only ones I know about firsthand, being a resident of Austria, are the ones imposed by the EU, which have led to the transit situation I mentioned, and also degradation of other environmental standards.  If by “market” you mean “profit for business”, then I see black, because that’s the situation that we have, and environmental protection is not sufficient when it depends upon the goodheartedness of business.  Of course, the goodheartedness of governments is not always to be trusted either.  The environmental destruction by the Soviets and Chinese (and just about everyone else) is sobering too.  Another problem is that it’s notoriously difficult to put a price on environmental destruction.
    There are no easy solutions here.  The only way we have made, and can make further progress against environmental destruction, is by making it simply unthinkable, at all levels: personal, business, and governmental.  Sort of like religion.  And if profits are cut by observation of standards, so be it.

    Slavery in America was also governed by “market-based regulations”.  Should the government have refrained from taking action?  Lots of people lost money when it was outlawed.  You did say “proper” market based regulations, and I assume you would consider slavery “improper”.  But what’s proper and improper cannot depend upon the free market alone- we’ve seen where that leads.

  32. Welcome to SEB, aclearchannel!  Oxymoronic indeed!  Yes, I agree with what you find good about America and the Christian Church.  If there’s any simple answer to all of our problems, or at least a motivation to seek solutions, it can only be Love.

    And theo-

    Zilch:  There is no humanly achievable absolute moral code that can be logically and scientifically defended.

    Theo: Why not?  Certainly if we made it subject to empirical methods it could work.

    Short reply: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”- H.L. Mencken

    Long reply: well, I’m not going to give a long reply, because it would be too long.  But the short long reply is that what’s good and bad is always going to be moot, because there’s your good, and my good, and Bozo the Clown’s good, and they’re not all the same.  Of course, there’s a lot of overlap- pretty much everyone agrees that murder is bad, and food is good.  And it’s out of this overlap that we try to build society, using morals, religion, laws.

    Absolutes, however, do not obtain.  Partly because people will never agree about what’s good and bad, and partly because even when they do agree, how to achieve it is often an intractable problem.  For instance: say we agree that alcoholism is bad.  What do we do?  Merely forbidding alcohol didn’t work very well, did it?

    Not simple, this business of being human.

  33. Don’t be sucked in by the Never-Lovers.  Aloof cynicism might be sexy to some, but it kills civilizations…

    Absolutes, however, do not obtain.  Partly because people will never agree about what’s good and bad, and partly because even when they do agree, how to achieve it is often an intractable problem…

    Actually, what we have seen over the millenya of civilization is that, with enough communication, consensus does happen.  “Never” is such a strong, absolute term.

    I believe in progress, and most importantly, that Reason creates unity.

    A Consensus of the majority is not only possible, it happens all the time.  For example, i think on a national level there is a very, very, very large consensus against incest or, say, recreational cannibalism, or that the Khmer Rouge-esque penal system isn’t morally or economically sound.  The consensus on these issues was not achieved over-night, but mostly due to increased communication between humans.

    Incest and recreational-cannibalism might seem like simple issues with which to arrive at common agreement.  But, this has not always been the case—until humans started living in fairly large groups.  Thus, the spark of exponential communication on an issue.

    It might seem that consensus will “never” be achieved on such things as economics, social-regulation, or environmental-industrialization vs conservation.  But, as our civilization communicates more and in greater and greater quality, these issues shall become relative non-issues.  Arguements (don’t be such spelling-fundamentalists) to the contrary are very, very weak, examining history.

    The future belongs to those that dis-believe in Never, and that teach their offspring likewise. 

    rob@egoz.org

    The purpose of grammar and spelling is communication, not some fundamentalist excersize to stay within the lines.

  34. rob, you apparently did not read my whole post. I also said:

    Of course, there’s a lot of overlap- pretty much everyone agrees that murder is bad, and food is good.  And it’s out of this overlap that we try to build society, using morals, religion, laws.

    When I said “people will never agree about what’s good and bad”, perhaps I was unclear.  I meant that there will never be complete agreement, not that there will never be any agreement.  But given what I said about overlap of agreement, I would say that you are not justified in pigeonholing me as a “Never-Lover” (sounds pretty awful- whatever that is, I’m sure I don’t want to be one).  That’s what I would characterize as quote-mining, or at least being rully picky.

    Tit for tat:

    The purpose of grammar and spelling is communication, not some fundamentalist excersize to stay within the lines.

    I agree.  But I assume you mean “exercise”. LOL

  35. Well, it’s hard to post after Zilch said almost everything that came up in my mind to post!  Grr!

    Though I did manage to find a lot to comment on, apparently…

    First, a digression (back to the original topic):
    Not sure what article you meant, theBo$$?  But I saw the points about Ford’s support of gay organizations on that site.  My comment was more about Ford’s environmental stuff (which I’ll just come out and say I haven’t read about in a long time—though I consider their hybrid a welcome attempt to try and siphon money off where Toyota and Honda pioneered), and also just the general perception of Ford as a small town, down home, uncle Bob sorta company.  It’s a pleasant surprize.

    Second, my morality:
    I’m with Zilch on this one.  The best tactic is to try our best—to treat situations individually as much as possible, to learn as much as possible, to consider carefully as much as possible before deciding.  To respect each party involved.  I don’t believe that anything is inherent, so all we can do is try to be happy and healthy.  To treat others as we’d like to be so treated, and to explore our freedoms in such a way only limited by their infringement upon others’.

    Rob, your ‘complete agreement’ is not only impossible, it’s dangerous.  One thing consistently demonstrated by ethnologists studying cultures—in vastly differing situations all over the world—is that there is no such thing as culture.  The only ethnological absolute is that generalizations are impossible—defining a cultural norm is always thwarted by individual choice, no matter how small, large, connected, or isolated their society may be.

    When such attempts at generalization are made, especially with a goal of ultimate agreement at the end, disaster strikes.  If you think I’m kidding or overreacting, think again.

    In its beginnings, anthropology was dominated largely by rich, white people who never left their own countries.  They basically sat around in their armchairs, making up theories for how evolution and culture worked, with some grand white utopia at the end of it all.  They began by assuming that non-whites would, when exposed to white society for a long period of time, begin to change skin color and language and culture automagically.  Evolution worked on a scale in which white society and appearance was the ultimate goal of every living human, and that the completion of this goal would lead to happiness and peace.

    Obviously, this was not true, and anthropologists gradually came to realize their mistakes and that generalizations of behavior are impossible.  Sadly, they did not realize this soon enough to prevent the race concept and its support of slavery, not soon enough to prevent the oppression of indigenous peoples, and not soon enough to stamp out the rise of eugenics which egged on such wonderful things as the Holocaust.

    Certainly, I am not ranking you with these things.  Please do not take my message that way, because I think that you honestly have the best interest of people at heart, and you seem to have a lot of hope for humanity—I think these are both wonderful things, things for which I also strive.  But my point is that in every generalization, there is a loophole.  Generalizations made with even the best of intents (such as your Truth) have some darker side—something they’re overlooking.  In a very fundamental way, and this is perhaps the only thing we can be sure to see in every human, we are each of us different.  Maybe only slightly, but to deny that difference is to underestimate humans.  How can we act for peace and happiness when we don’t understand their idiosynchratic nature?

    I can only justify your complete agreement by placing it in the realm of the religious—along with Heaven, Nirvana, and the other great gigs in the sky.

  36. Yes, but we don’t have that technology yet.  And
    there are good reasons to produce and consume locally
    besides the reduction of emissions: the increase in
    traffic, and the concommitant building of roads, the
    noise, the danger (lots of previously quiet roads in
    villages here now have trucks roaring through, to avoid
    paying highway tolls).

    I brought up cars to help understand the strange
    behavior of the German yogurt industry. There are two
    ways that it could have emerged in its current form. 
    The first is that having a centralized processing plant
    in Italy brings efficiency gains that more than offset
    the transportation costs. But you are correct to be
    skeptical, I am too.

    A big assumption indeed.  What, pray tell, are
    “proper market-based

  37. shana, I must have been channeling you…
    I’ve noticed, however, that sometimes you channel me, but do I complain? LOL

    Another thought, from Raymond Smullyan:

    What makes you so sure that self-consciousness about right and wrong does not in fact lead to more wrong acts than right ones? Do you honestly believe that so-called amoral people, when it comes to action rather than theory, behave less ethically than moralists? Of course not! Even most moralists acknowledge the ethical superiority of the behavior of most of those who theoretically take an amoral position. They seem to be surprised that without ethical principles these people behave so nicely! It never seems to occur to them that it is by virtue of the very lack of moral principles that their good behavior flows so freely!

    -from Is God a Taoist?.  The speaker here is God.

  38. I would have to agree with zilch and shana.  Throughout history, various cultures have had practices that many would feel are “wrong”- state sanctioned sacrifices, incest, infanticide, cannibalism, etc…  So far, only the anthropocentric viewpoint has been brought forth, adding the rest of the earth’s species (even discounting those organisms who have only ganglionic groups or less as opposed to a brain) shows that what is “good” or “bad” is relative.  What if there is extraterrestrial life?  How likely would it be that they would share (generalized) human values?  If you go one further step and look at values from the Universe (or the quantum level), what difference does it make in the grand scheme of things what happens to an individual organism or even a whole species?  One of my favorite song lyrics is :
    “Turn the earth to sand/ And still commit no crime…”

  39. Rob, your ‘complete agreement’ is not only impossible, it’s dangerous.  One thing consistently demonstrated by ethnologists studying cultures—in vastly differing situations all over the world—is that there is no such thing as culture.  The only ethnological absolute is that generalizations are impossible—defining a cultural norm is always thwarted by individual choice, no matter how small, large, connected, or isolated their society may be.

    I can only justify your complete agreement by placing it in the realm of the religious—along with Heaven, Nirvana, and the other great gigs in the sky.

    Human perception and thought is reducable to one organ in the body.  If you connext each human’s brain to the other, through technology (sorry, Heaven’s got nothing to do with this, Shana), then yes, absolute-communication is entirely possible.

    Never fall in love with concept of Impossibility
    That love shall truly fail you, especially when science and technology are involved.

    rob@egoz.org

  40. Human perception and thought is reducable to one organ in the body.  If you connext each human’s brain to the other, through technology (sorry, Heaven’s got nothing to do with this, Shana), then yes, absolute-communication is entirely possible.

      Being able communicate absolutley does not necessitate absolute agreement on what is “good” or “bad”.

  41. Originally posted by warbi:
    Being able communicate absolutley does not necessitate absolute agreement on what is “good

  42. Theo, we’ll start with the Communists.  You have Marxists and Stalinists at two poles and others in between.  That is one reason the Communists never win big elections in Spain- they are too fractured.  Even within closed societies, there will be some disagreement and aberrant individuals.  If you are going to base your ethics on certain logical reasoning whose logic will you use?  Plato’s, Marquis de Sade’s, Kant’s, Rousseau’s, Nietzsche’s, Hobbes’s, Christainity, Buddhism?

  43. Being able communicate absolutley does not necessitate absolute agreement on what is “good

  44. Are you sure?  Closed societies always seem to be able to agree on moral values from what I can tell.  Native American tribes, African tribes, Nazis, Communists, etc. are all examples of closed societies that agreed for the most part within their society what is morally acceptable.

    Quit romanticizing small societies.  They’re no more conformist in ideology than all of America. You only think they agree because their cultures are always presented as one static set than as the dynamic of behaviors they truly are/were.

    Connecting brains does not mean that people will think the same thoughts.  Or is that what you intend?  EVEN SCARIER.
    Really, if my brain were connected to my mother’s, she would still prefer green and I would still prefer blue—and that’s just colors.  Wait until we get to politics!

    Achieving a collective empathy is a great goal.
    The one thing that makes it possible for us to get along is compromise in the form of acceptance—acceptance that your neighbor lives differently from yourself without feeling like you must live in the same way.  But to assume that such understanding would make everyone see the light and adopt the same perception seems naive to me.  How could you be sure that every single person agreed?  What would you do with dissenters?  Some people would be prevented from agreeing by emotional and psychological disorders—what would you do with them?  How would you know that you’d really acheived the goal?

    I think of knowledge as an onion with infinite layers.  No matter how far you penetrate into someone else’s understanding, I think it most unlikely you could penetrate all the layers.  Furthermore, I wouldn’t want someone to know me that way.  It would take away my individuality, quite literally.  Culture would cease to be an adaptation for dealing with new situations; it would instead be dead weight.  What would we do, then, when confronted with something our bodies couldn’t immediately handle?  Do you realize that by adopting all the same perceptions of the world, humanity would lose its creativity?

  45. shana- what you say.  You rummagin’ around in my noggin again?  Be my guest, but avoid the dark corners…

    rob say: As we learn to “communicate

  46. I really liked that quote, btw, zilch!  I meant to say it but I guess I got carried away with all the wonderful thoughts in your head…;)

  47. Sorry to traduple-dip, but I was thinking about this some more!

    I think I was trying to say this also, but couldn’t find the words:  If we were capable of achieving such perfect communication, then upon achieving it, we would cease to be human.

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