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Member since: Sat Nov 29, 2008, 02:55 PM
Number of posts: 17,671

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Hateful words and violence...

There has been concern about violence in the media and its effect on those who view it. I have always thought that if violence were properly portrayed people wouldn't be able to stand to watch much of it. Examples of properly portrayed violence can be found in the movies Irreversible and Unforgiven.

Words, as an expression of intent, work the same way. Some words hurt more than others because of the way they have been used. We choose hareful words according to the amount of psychological pain we want to inflict. Reasons for inflicting that pain depend in the circumstances surrounding the use of the word.

The circumstances surrounding rhetorical use depend on the sensibilities of both the speaker and the listener. Certain epithets may be appropriate even if no epithet was offered first. So it's generally OK to cuss Republicans around here. But in this place we are heard by a lot of people with a wide range of sensibilities. Words can be weapons, and here they can become indiscriminate weapons. Since most epithets work best if used personally against another, they just won't be appropriate here.

But by the same token, it is unfair to control dialogue with claims of one's sensibilities. If we establish appropriate word use based solely on the most sensitive among us language will lose all of its power for anyone but those making the loudest claim of injury. Such passive aggressive behavior is just as manipulative and damaging to effective dialogue.

I think the line we should be looking for is not around use but proper use. Since there is very little possibility of causing serious harm to another on an internet message board most epithets just aren't appropriate here. Some epithets may be directed at those who can do us actual harm.

There are no evil words. Words only have the power we give them with our intent. If someone offends you their words can be hidden from sight by bringing them to the attention to the community at large. It's about the easiest way I can think of to flag those whom we need most to remove. The smarter ones will just use different language.

If, on the other hand, you find your complaints ignored by the community at large that's a sign that your own sensibilities are skewed in the other direction and should be adjusted. While I'm sure there are plenty of trolls, moles, spies, false flags and other nefarious evil doers here in the center of the universe, there aren't many. You're among friends, listen to what they have to say.

It's kind of a drag

bit there are worse things to worry about.

Sometimes it's hard to tell when someone's bashing, poking fun, or offering legitimate critisicm. It'll come out in the wash.

The reality is that the south lost a civil war and has suffered for it ever since. That suffering is manifest in terrible poverty, ignorance, and hate that simply doesn't go away quickly. Add to that the clannish authoritatian nature of Southerners which only serves to ostracize them even more. The huge advantage is that the same clannish attitude that has ostracized the south can be a powerful political force. There are certain churches and political parties who have already discovered that to their advantage.

I find it ironic that the south is portrayed as a cesspool of bigotry and hate with a bigoted and hateful attitude from people who would quickly trumpet their cultural enlightenment. Could it be that the same arrogant regional bigotry and economic myopia that causes such attitudes is so painfully obvious to Southerners that they have been much too easily seduced by the wrong political party?

The south is populated by United States citizens. You may disregard Southerners culturally but you disregard them politically at your peril. Throw them overboard politically and they don't go away, they just vote for your political opponents.

I sometimes wonder how many upscale urbanites who float in an economic stratosphere not too far removed from the "1%" but still use the leisure time afforded by their lifestyle to "stand in solidarity with their fellow 99%ers" simultaneously sneer at millions of other 99%ers who had the misfortune of having been born the wrong color and in the wrong place to suit their own bigoted cultural proclivities.

Telling voters to "fuck off" is no way to win an election. Especially when they have more in common with you than you care to admit.

No. I have no real need

to ever see it again, but there are a lot of good people there.

I have an IQ of 150 and a masters degree and I've had non Southerners look down their noses at me as if I were some sort of illiterate hick the minute I open my mouth.

The racism, provincialism, ignorance, and petty venality so often attributed to the south is alive and well in this country from Portland to LA. The south has had to take the blame for a lot of shit that is just as prevalent everywhere else in this country and I get a little tired of having to wade around in it out here on the "left coast".

I don't understand how liberals can trumpet their weepy concern for the poor and downtrodden and almost in the same breath snort their bigoted derision at some of the poorest people in the country. And the irony is that if and when this country really goes broke the upscale urbanites who have looked down their noses at the south won't have a clue what to do when the real fight starts and they will discover that there is no more fierce and loyal friend to have in a foxhole than a Scotch-Irish redneck. But then it will be too late.

The south is populated by United States citizens. They could, and should, be our political allies but for the arrogance of liberals who should know better if their own self image is to be believed. As far as I'm concerned anyone who harbors such regional bigotry can fold it in three corners and shove it so far up their ass their hat won't fit.

Besides, where the hell else are we gonna get good barbeque?

And there are many who would

claim the use of a word in the interest if their own ideology with little more than umbrage to support that claim. Language is plastic and changes its cultural power through use. Richard Pryor made a fortune retasking the term "nigger", as did Samuel L. Jackson. Joe Jackson uses the term "faggot" in the song Real Men to describe the complexities and hypocrisies in a song about modern male identity.

The meanings of words are determined by their use, and those who stand to profit most from the particular use of a word are those who most want to codify its use for its continued utility.

An "ism" is an ideology shared by a group of people.

While that ideology may be intellectually sound and socially beneficial an ism nevertheless is fueled by emotion. It is a feeling shared by a group of people. That emotional cohesion can be used for good or ill and has been for thousands of years.

Emotional syncronicity can be a wonderful group experience that can motivate people to do wonderful things, but when ideology becomes dogma it can become property. Such intellectual property then becomes intellectual capital used to secure wealth and power for those who promulgate it.

The owners of ideology always seem to want to expand their control of the raw materials that impact their particular isms for good or ill. Ownership of the "good" words rallies people and their money to your camp, while the "evil" words give them a totem from which to flee and demonize.

I think the important context to watch for is exactly who or what is actually being insulted by a given term. If a person is being insulted, the insult would be evaluated based on that individual's actions or character. But if the ideology is insulted, no actual person is injured. The only things threatened are the property rights of the owners of the ideology.

In the strictest and most limited sense, yes.

Such a law would have to apply strictly in the most empirical sense apart from any exigent circumstances and have the capacity to be applied evenly regardless of those circumstances. I'm not aware of any way to craft such a law since humans aren't omnipotent or omniscient.

It is possible to produce the concept of an absolute good to which one might aspire. I expect that's how we wound up with ideas like God and Kant's moral imperative. Zombiehorde's reference to projection is quite accurate. We've been thinking in terms of forward movement both physically and intellectually since we walked out of Africa. For the vast majority of us where we are is almost inconsequential to where we are going. Some of us have even developed a way of thinking that refutes the imperative of forward projection which takes years of study and practice to achieve proficiency. Of course those who engage in such practice would probably not use the term "proficient " since it implies that which they are trying to avoid (another term which does not apply). Since language is a projective tool in itself it is impossible to accurately discuss that experience at all I guess. It seems we are so specifically designed to project we can hardly discuss any other option.

The term "law" assumes the possibility of an infraction, which assumes an act that has already occurred. When coupled with the term "moral", which is projective, the phrase "moral law" refers to what we should do based on a canon derived from precedent. The only moral law I can think of that might be considered universal would be the an interdiction against incest, and in the light of advances in genetic engineering and cloning it might not apply much longer.

I'm not sure I can adequately answer that question.

But I'll try.

Everything that happens inside our heads is the result of an electrochemical process. For me to be convinced of any seperate essence we might call a soul I would have to see empirical proof.

Buy does the lack of physical proof make the concept of a soul any less magical? We can give souls to imaginary characters and call it fiction. How barren would our lives be without literature, drama, art, music and poetry?

We can give souls to animals and I think we frequently do. We call them pets. Would that we treated the rest of the animal world with such compassion. All we have to do is give them souls.

What would the world look like if we gave it a soul? What if we treated it as if it had an essence as unique as our own, or at least tried to?

On the other hand, if we conceive of a soul as a thing that belongs to us but is separate from us it quickly becomes a commodity. Then sooner or later there will always be someone willing to tell us what to do with it and punish is for doing otherwise. I think I'd rather music have soul than to sell my soul to the company store.

For my part it pleases me to consider the perception of my essence my soul. I am as I see myself and I can allow others that same privelage. Our souls are something we can give away and never miss, receive and never own, share and never lose.

That's about as close as I can get just offhand typing with one finger.

It's still the same problem.

Technology follows science as surely as night follows day. And we use technology to facilitate more science. You can't build precision insturments without engineering and the industrial processes that support it. And all that stuff has to be paid for. Just think about how much science and technology used in our daily lives began as a weapon of one sort or another. We have stolen most of the resources that have facilitated our technological and scientifec prowess.

It isn't just about science either, but the common denominator between science, technology, emotion, and religion: people. We developed marvelous mythologies and used them to burn each other alive. We developed marvelous technologies and did the same thing.

The practice of science, like the practice of faith, is a discipline that requires us to set aside ego in the exploration of the unknown. It's what we do and we are no more able to avoid one than the other.

A new energy source of some sort will surely be found. The question is will it be an economically viable source able to fuel the lifestyle we currently enjoy before we start burning each other alive for the luxury of satellite enabled Tweets and reality tevevision.

People were able to treat each other fairly and compassionately before the development of clean linen and asphalt shingles and I expect us to have to learn to do so again because the wealth that supports the science is going to disappear.

I have no idea what will be left. Maybe we'll have iPads on saddle horns. But the practice of science won't make us any more humane than the practice of religion in the face of our ability to exploit the wealth of resources around us. We just weren't designed to manage abundance, and both science and religion facilitate its exploitation.

I find your optimism appealing

but I'm afraid I don't share it.

I don't think we'll return so some pre industrial Mad Max dystopia, but science runs on oil and there's no ready replacement in sight. Religion on the other hand only needs the most abundant resource on the planet - human emotion. That will never run out.

I think it will be the way it always was. Those with the most resources will enjoy the most genteel lifestyle. Right now that means a 100,000 square foot house when it used to mean silverware.

It seems we largely use science and technology to define the attainment of civilized behaivor. That doesn't mean we can't be civilized without it. We will just have to use something else as a canvas for our humanity. Is there really that much difference between sitting in front of a computer screen and sitting in prayer?

I wonder if we are on the cusp of another axial age when human values will be globally redefined. That's an exciting notion. The road to that place though will be an ugly one I'm afraid.

"I urge you to persue that feeling".

Those are the last seven words of the video. The encouragement to seek emotional involvement is no different from that offered by any clergyman in any house of worship anywhere. The practice of religion is just synchronized emotional involvement.

I dig that whole series. Quantum mechanics, string theory and all the rest are fascinating even though most of it just bounces off my forehead when I hear it. It makes sense in the broad strokes, but I have to take the nuts and bolts of it on faith. I simply don't have the time, equipment, training or inclination to reproduce the experiments. Those people with the white coats and Nobel prizes are, in a way, functioning as high priests or clergy for me. They offer me a window into the human experience that I would not get without their work.

Religious leaders do the same thing with our emotions. Or at least they're supposed to when they're not out making money, corrupting politics and molesting children. People have feelings that get into everything they do. If they didn't feel some sort of way about things like science and engineering they wouldn't do them. Religion was developed to help us understand why we do the things we do.

We've gotten pretty good at science since the enlightenment, but the practice of religion has either ossified or has been corrupted by wealth. It will have to be redesigned to be brought up to date with the world we live in.
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