ExileOnDaytonStreet
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    • ExileOnDaytonStreet

      IMO, you might be missing the real value in Dawkins’ logical puzzle here: There is something to be said about the assumptions that people make when reacting to discussions about taboo subjects. Think of how difficult it is to have discussions about sensitive subjects. There’s a lot of walking-on-eggshells, and rhetorical sandbagging that has to go on because, especially on the internet, people will take offense and make assumptions about you simply for saying anything about the topic to begin with. People will hear an argument, and make an assumption about “what he’s really saying” and respond to that straw man instead. Topics of conversation get derailed, and suddenly no one is getting anything out of the experience. We can all probably cite numerous examples from personal experience*: Shoot, just look to a political thread on your discussion forum of choice and you’re likely to see all sorts of “well you must be a liberal union thug/bigoted republican/whatever” non-sequiturs from people responding to arguments that others haven’t really made. The idea that someone can say “Y is worse than X”, and get met with a “why do you like X?” response is right in line with that brand of (lack of) logic. To me, it makes it more difficult to talk about problems than they need to be. Just look at this story here, and all the wild tangents the comments section has taken from people that are offended by ideas that Dawkins never even mentions. (I’m sorry but since no-one is advocating “to limit resources for rape victims to those who ‘really’ need it”, I’m afraid even elements of your otherwise excellent statement fit the bill here) By making it harder to talk about difficult things (like rape, Israelis and Palestinians, Justin Bieber, etc.), it makes it more difficult for us to ever get something out having those conversations. It makes it that much harder to (for example) have a conversation about how locker room culture feeds the “rape culture” of many of our nation’s athletically inclined young men, when you know that the discussion is going to take strange detours because some people are offended that we’re neglecting to mention prison rape or backwoods incestuous rape. And when the conversation is difficult to have, how are we ever supposed to learn from it? * A few of my recent examples: 1- I’m fairly moderate politically (more liberal than anything, really), but in recent weeks I’ve made comments about (a) Bill Clinton probably should’ve come out stronger in some of the humanitarian crises that hit Africa during his presidency and (b) sometimes unions can overdo it and when that happens it can be a real pain to work in a company that has one. In both cases, I got reactions that made me out to be the third Koch brother. 2- A month or two ago, when the Donald Sterling scandal broke out and the NBA had just announced that they would force him to sell his team, I had a debate with a guy at a sports bar about the legality of the NBA kicking him out of the league and forcing him to sell his team. The other guy had started it with an idiotic “it’s a free country/free speech” comment, and I was rebutting that the NBA has every right to deal with people that give them bad publicity (like if you were a car salesman who got fired for telling customers that your cars suck). His reaction? Somehow he got to ranting about Jesse Jackson, hypocrisy and the idea that you need to have a history of being reliable before people should “have” to listen to your opinions (kind of an ironic topic for this guy to land on, really).

    • ExileOnDaytonStreet

      Okay, so this is a general thought that’s been percolating in my mind ever since I got tired of people using the term “sellout” in the mid-90s… Is it just me or are comments like this… “Fuck Miley Cyrus. Praise Kathleen Hanna. I’m so mad that 14 year olds are gonna try to ruin Bikini Kill for me now.” … just flat out stupid? If Miley is tweeting about Hanna/Bikini Kill (or really, any indie/underground/not-quite-mainstream-but-still-has-a-recognizable-name act you want to think of), in all likelihood it is going to mean that there’s going to be a group of teenagers and slow adults out there that’s suddenly discovering it for the first time. That’s life. That progression of MAINSTREAM THING INADVERTENTLY BUILDS TEENAGE FANBASE FOR INDIE/UNDERGROUND/LESSER KNOWN ARTIST is actually pretty common. It’s how I heard of Motorhead (thank you, Metallica) and Archers of Loaf (because most teenage guys my age and in my brand of suburbia went through a Kevin Smith phase and maybe bought the Mallrats soundtrack). Lots of people didn’t listen to The Screaming Trees until Mark Lanegan was in Queens of the Stone Age. I’m pretty sure that 95% of the people out there listening to The Pixies either (a) were first fans of Nirvana and heard about them through Kurt Cobain making no secrets as to how big of an influence they were on him, (b) are into one-hit-wonders and were curious to know what one of the people behind “Cannonball” did earlier in her career or (c) watched “Fight Club” and thought they’d give a shot to that band that sang that “Where’s my mind” song. So here’s what I want to know: How exactly is this a problem? How does it “ruin” Bikini Kill? Does it hurt your appreciation of Bikini Kill to know that other people appreciate it as well? Will you find it a burden to suddenly have to defend that you might *shock* have something in common with an impressionable Miley Cyrus fan? Does it frustrate you that there will be other Bikini Kill fans that haven’t been on the train as long as you, and therefore aren’t as “dedicated” or might be a “poseur” for whom it’s just a phase? How on earth does this impact the way you listen to the band? Do you suddenly hear “Party in the USA” in the back of your mind the next time they come up in your playlist? Does it change anything about what Bikini Kill is or what they used to mean to you? Does this knowledge that a 15 year old girl in Topeka suddenly likes Bikini Kill somehow go back in time to whenever you first discovered them and kick you in groin or something? Or is it possible that maybe (MAYBE) that indie-aesthetic you love to cling to actually has nothing to do with what the music is like? That there isn’t really a message behind Bikini Kill that you identify with, that they don’t connect with you in a unique and interesting way? Could it really be that you just want to be the only person who likes something, and the moment it gets too popular, you’ll decide that it’s lame and move on to something else? Because at that point, being “indie” (or whatever) has nothing to do with being independent of popular culture. It’s just another weird, warped way for you to let popular culture dictate your tastes to you.

    • ExileOnDaytonStreet

      For Devil’s advocacy: To a point, I can understand the argument that all crime is crime, all sin is sin, etc. In that case, the only point in saying one is “worse” than the other is to determine what a fair punishment would be for each. But even then, we as a society (or at least, the courts that our elected government runs) do make that decision, since not all crime is punished the same. Even when it is punished on a similar scale, we often FEEL differently about some crimes versus other crimes. And even then, it doesn’t really address the simple logical problem being addressed. Saying that Y is worse than X is in no way saying that X is okay/good/ideal/etc. To put it mathematically, if X > Y, we don’t know if X is greater than or less than or equal to zero. We only know that it’s greater than Y.

    • ExileOnDaytonStreet

      I wasn’t comparing religion to public infrastructure, I was comparing the self-centered attitudes that go into “what’s MINE is MINE” and the idea that one can be totally self-reliant. You can say that the metaphor doesn’t make sense all you want (and that’s fine) but your original post said “while the rest of us enjoy life to the fullest”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I read that as making a connection between rejecting God and enjoying life that quite frankly doesn’t exist. To my experience, your belief system and your ability to enjoy life don’t really have much of a direct connection.

    • ExileOnDaytonStreet

      To trust wholly in yourself is to make the grave error of ignoring your own imperfections. We’re all imperfect, we’re all human. Having the humility to accept that is one of the best things you can do, and not just as a part of your relationship with God. Your life is enriched, not diminished, by the trust you give to those that love you and that you love. To put it in a more secular perspective: what do you gain from the belief that what you have is YOURS and that what you have comes from YOU and only YOU? (Imagine, say, the Walton family or the Koch brothers every time they whine about their taxes or having to pay their employees) What kind of person is it that refuses to acknowledge the help that they’ve gotten along the way, and believes themselves to be truly self-made? There’s an arrogance to that, and it’s a seed that grows into selfishness and greed.

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