If there is one thing I love doing sometimes, it is what most people would call “trolling.”
Maybe that’s one of the reasons I avoid “grandpa” Loki. Too much trolling between the two of us. Fear the day of our team up. Fear it.
Still, when you’ve studied ethics and philosophy as much as I have and wrestle with the questions of when and how it is acceptable to use your power like I have…you run into situations where if you’ve much in the way of human decency, you come to the conclusion that hurting innocent people to punish the guilty is wrong. This is best encapsulated in Blackstone’s Formulation.
So when I come across a post by someone I kinda knew of facebook whose response to an article about a police commissioner calling Obama the “N” word was the following:
So the town survives on tourism- so just don’t spend dollars there and see how fast they change their racist minds
My only response was literally:
because it is perfectly reasonable to potentially starve an entire town out of existence as punishment because one old man said something people don’t like.
At which point I suppose we could say the shit storm would normally begin. It didn’t get as bad as some “trolling” I’ve been involved in, but here’s the conversation if you want to read. Names are redacted to protect the…ignorant. Bold statements at the end of the long paragraphs summarize…because I can get wordy and people don’t always like that.
VT- Nope starve a town out because this guy is so well known as a racist he is even mentioned in wikipedia- starve the town out because they entire city appears to need to learn this is unacceptable anymore. They just re-elected the guy two months ago.
LS – Well, this was supposed to be a free country where we could believe what we wanted to, regardless of how offensive it is. Equality and tolerance are for everyone, not just the people we like. Plenty of people hate folks like us, hela’s house, the majority would be happy to see people like us silenced and banished because they find us as offensive as this man’s attitude towards certain people. Would you have us silenced in the name of not-offending? Would you have others punished because you voice opinions some do not like? If the answer is no, then why is it then acceptable to do it to these folks because of this man? Why does he deserve to be silenced when we do not? Because we are more “moral,” our position “Superior” to his?
Translation: Free country, everyone has the right to what they believe. We tolerate so we are tolerated, to demand otherwise is to claim superiority over others and risk being silenced. Justify why your ways should be enforced and those you don’t like silenced.
VT – Based on your opinion then if you see someone chanting to kill lets just say jews then it is acceptable not to stop it? WE did at the cost of millions lives 70 years ago. So instead lets just say it gets a little more violent and police are sending dogs out trained gnaw people up – oh yeah Alabama in the early 60’s . of course lets say it goes a little further and in the name of ones God or prophet you incite young people to go kill others in the name of your religion?? Oops blew up a few lebanese, or muslims or catholics- OOOPs Ireland, Lebanon Kuwait, Afghanistan – well that is a bottomless pit of lists. Most folks will tell you I am fairly liberal but there is a major difference between liberal and stupidity. I always loved to listen to people blurb in self righteous indignation when someone has the balls to stand up and say NO you can not scream fire in a crowded theater until it is they themselves who get injured by another’s folly.Then they sit there whining and wondering why they got stampeded because some idiot thought it a hoot to do what they know at the center of their being is wrong.
Translation: “If you see evil, then you must fight evil, rawr!!” It was at this point that Nazi’s got involved. Why is it that when people have trouble defending their arguments, they jump in with Nazis and the whole “you wouldn’t stop the nazis thing?
LS – “Fine, so you wish to stand up and say “No.” Then you may stand up and say “No.” But how then shall you define what it is acceptable to stand up against? By the Laws of Nature? The Laws of a Religion? And how then, shall you claim in a morally objectionable universe that your Law is superior to the Law of another. And if you do define that your way is the way that must be put forwards, then how are you any different from the man above, forcing others to believe as you do.
You say it is good to stand in the path of oppression, and it is…but what if in the act of standing against those you deem to be oppressive, or acting in a morally objectionable manner, you become their oppressor, or you act in a way that is morally objectionable to them? Do they then not have the right to turn on you and say “No!”
One cannot stop intolerance with more intolerance, not without violating the very idea of fighting to ensure tolerance. One is then only fighting for the superiority of one’s moral view in the world, in which case that person has failed to become any different than those he is fighting against. To give a concrete example, let’s say you see a bunch of Nazi’s chanting “let’s kill jews” and you decide to start going “Let’s kill Nazis.” How then, are you different/better? Because the lives of Jews are superior to the lives of Nazis? If all humans are inherently valuable, or at least if all life is inherently valuable, and no lives are worth more than others…then to kill nazis is spiritually or morally no different than killing jews. One can argue that one is acting in defense of an oppressed and threatened people, but even then one should ask who is the more threatened, and who is the more accepted, in today’s society. Either intolerance and violence are unacceptable solutions to life…or intolerance and violence are acceptable solutions, in which case all sides may use them with the same amount of moral justification because by their code of ethics they are acting for the side of Good and Right.
One cannot advocate tolerance of those they like in one breath from one group of people, and in the next condemn and demand hatred and punishment for the group they are insisting show tolerance from. Such action is hypocritical in nature. I mean you no personal insult Vincent, merely to point out a flaw in the application of your beliefs as I understand them. I am here as educator, not judge. Just as I am for the town above. To punish innocent people for the sins of others is not morally justifiable, simply because you find some act by another person to be abhorrent and deem it wrong. You would deem it wrong if innocents were punished in your name because you did something others found offensive, so again I ask: why then is it acceptable to do unto others…what you would not have others do unto you or because of you?”
translation: if you want to fight evil, you can. But how do you define evil, and how do you state that your definition is superior to the one who you claim is evil, but is acting justly in his own eyes. All life is equally sacred. Morals are relative, what give you the right to claim superiority for your moral and not tolerate those you hate, but insist that you be tolerated by those who hate you? In doing so, you become the “evil” you are fighting.
VT – “You k now I hate to tell you this but I have better things to do. You disagree great – go change channels now.”
This is the point where I basically consider myself the victor of the debate. When you can’t morally defend your position…when you won’t even try…that says something very weak about your justifications for your actions.
I figured the conversation was over at that point, but someone else decided to jump in and offer their two cents.
AM – “Lucius – There is a difference between difference of opinion and hate speech. If we tolerate hate speech, we are tolerating the emotions behind the hate. I say – name what’s happening; that quite often puts a stop to the behavior. If everyone who felt that name-calling was wrong would stand up when it’s going on, there would be a lot less name calling.”
translation: hate isn’t an opinion, tolerating hate is bad, what i say is hate is hate. if everyone silenced “wrongs” then there would be less “wrongs.”
LS – “AM, there is a difference between opinion and “hate speech.” The problem is that one man’s opinion is another person’s hate speech. To the majority of Muslims and Christians in this world (and even here in America), my belief and speaking that there are multiple gods is blasphemy and hate speech against Muslims, Christians, and their faith. My point was that in a realm of moral relativity and equality where we are supposed to tolerate the different beliefs of others, regardless of if we find those beliefs offensive, so that our “offensive” beliefs are also tolerated, it is untenable to demand the punishment of the innocent simply because someone says something offensive, and indeed, that we cannot demand that those who offend us be punished while we insist we remain unpunished for that which we do that offends others, and those who are innocent are not punished for our “offenses.”
Simply put, as I said, the action of standing up against “intolerance” is itself an act of “intolerance” so how then is there any moral justification for such an action. Does a Vegan then have the right to dictate how everyone thinks about their food and what they eat, simply because they find the use of animal products offensive? Do the Muslims and Christians then get to silence those they disagree with because they are offended? If those who disagree with us must be tolerating of us, than those we disagree with must also be tolerated, unless we would argue that “our” ways of life are superior to theirs…in which case how are we any different from those we claim need to be stopped? Prejudice is prejudice, hate is hate, supremacy is supremacy, violence and suppression are violence and suppression, regardless of whose hand is using it or what their motivation is.
translation: “one man’s evil is another man’s good, and an evil action in the name of good is still evil. Only through tolerance can evil actions be avoided.
AM – “I’m not even bothering to read your reply because it seems like the same bloviating that is evident in your previous posts – calling someone a nigger is hate speech. Period.”
My translation: “I can’t argue with your philosophical points, so I won’t even try. but I’m right. Period.”
LS – “Fine, ignoring the moral quagmires, we shall agree it’s hate speech. Does the hate speech of one mean it is acceptable to punish others who did not make that speech, that it is acceptable to harm the innocent so as to punish the guilty?”
Translation: “Fine, you’re right, defend your position.”
At this point, the original poster weighed in with personal insults.
VT – “I think she was trying to say you are full of shit- but trying to be nice. Why don’t you just change channels and be done with it?”
LS – “because i ever seek knowledge and understanding, Vincent. If i am full of shit (and it’s hilarious you say this, as these are questions drawn from the philosophies from the greatest minds in both West and East) it is because i am facing a very shitty situation. One, it seems, neither of you can answer, or will answer. IF I am am a full of shit for saying it is wrong to punish the innocent for the offensive actions of one man….then I can only ask in all honesty what does that make you, who deems it acceptable to punish the innocent in the name of punishing those who you deem guilty, especially when it seems that the crux of your argument seems to be “Because I say they are evil, so it is right to punish them.” -shrugs-
Translation: “Because I’m trying to learn. And if my questions are stupid, it is because the situation is stupid and your justification is the same action you claim to be wanting to punish.”
And then it ended with this:
VT – “AM I apologize- he no longer exists in my universe.”
At which point I was apparently unfriended and banned from the conversation. To which I can only really reply with the immortal line “You can silence me but you can’t silence the truth.”
I find it ironic that even though I am a Norseman…I essentially was speaking as a Buddhist. See, people face hatred everyday, and they deal with it differently. When faced with a violent and oppressive regime, rather than violate their belief that all life was sacred and take up arms, Buddhist Monks set themselves on fire to protest what was happening. Even though those they opposed would meet every definition of the word evil…they still saw such lives as sacred. They also knew, no doubt, that by fighting innocent people would be harmed. This was unacceptable to them.
In a weird way, I agree with them. To be completely moral and avoid taking an “evil” action…you should not harm anyone. You should tolerate and accept that people have different views. Even in a political system, tolerance leads to the best path. By allowing others to live as they see right, you gain the right to live your life as you see right. Our founding fathers were brilliant about putting this into place legally. Freedom of religion, philosophy, speech, etc.
That being said, my own Heathen morality teaches me there is a time for violence, and that violence is moral and good. But even then, violence must be taken with honor. Defending your kin, your gods, those are honorable. Responding violently to an insult, is acceptable. Attacking a man simply because he say something that you don’t like…isn’t. Doing your level best to destroy his village simply because you don’t like what he called someone else, and harming those innocent people, isn’t honorable at all.
While what the police commissioner said was an insult to Obama…it is Obama that has the right to seek redresses. It is not the right of random people to punish another person, much less a great number of innocent people, when they themselves received no insult. If that was the case, then I would have free reign to burn down entire cities because someone said that say Steve McNallen is a racist, and I kinda like the dude and disagree with that statement. But I don’t have that right, and it would be wrong of me to do so.
Well, those are my lengthy and rather depressing thoughts. If anyone can answer my questions, or is willing for a crazy philosophical debate about this subject, feel free to post it in the comments.