Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Defense of Indiscriminate Violence?

The most recent comment I received to my posting on burning the Koran has come from a severely morally challenged individual.

First, note that my previous post was in opposition to the practice of responding to private actions with promises or indiscriminate violence in response to private actions when even discriminate violence is evil.

In that case, what does this commenter think he is doing? DEFENDING indiscriminate violence?

He starts with....

Liberal democracy is the utmost of aim of species that the U.S claims to have and claims that it has a wholly liberal democratic government. Does the end of the world and history conclude in the U.S?

So, we are starting with a premise that is so far from fact it can only be accepted as such by somebody wholly accustomed to embracing fiction as truth.

These statements are paradigm examples of what I have called hate-mongering bigotry. The author seeks to market or sell hatred of a whole group of people and to do so employing the technique of making derogatory overgeneralizations. In this case, the target is “liberal democracy” and “the US” – and the marketing tool is to make claims that all its members are guilty of some set of crimes, ignoring the fact of disagreement and even condemnation by some of the members of the target group.

Even though there are a great many people in the group he has targeted for hatred who do not agree with, and who even condemn what he has selected to use in his marketing campaign, that doesn't matter. Hatred is the goal, and neither truth, reason, nor justice will get in the way.

Of course, one of the common objectives of marketing hatred is to market the legitimacy of indiscriminate violence against the target group. All of them. So, any denigrating qualities have to be overgeneralized to cover the whole group.

We can clearly see the author's love of hate in his statement about "reopen and research about the holocaust case." This person is obviously unwilling to allow the evidence determine his beliefs. He is going to let his love of hatred dictate his beliefs and the "evidence" that will be used to support it.

[W]hat kind of Liberal democracy is this that doesn’t even allow anyone to reopen and research about the Holocaust case?! And according to this case and religious lie, every year hundreds of Muslims are sentenced to death.

This person is truly not living in the real world – and it would be wrong to condemn all Muslims because this person represents all Muslims. He represents one deluded individual.

In that context, I realize that nothing I can say will change that reader's mind. That which does not support his hate will be dismissed. No doubt, I have either been brainwashed or I am a co-conspirator in whatever delusions the author has dreamed up.

Yet, it is still possible to use his letter to illustrate some important points.

One of those points is the rhetorical practice of using the wrongs done by others as justification for being just like the people one condemns.

We saw this in the protests to the Park51 complex (or whatever its name is this week). some people sought to actually defend their protest by pointing out that Saudi Arabia does not permit the construction of Christian churches at all in its country.

How does that argument work? Are you saying that this religious bigotry represents moral virtue and we should seek to match their greatness by adopting religious bigotry in America?

The only moral conclusion to draw from the wrongness of Saudi Arabian bigotry is to resolve to be better than they are by refusing to accept that type of bigotry in America.

I am of the opinion that it would be wrong to move the Park51 complex because it is important that the bigots not win - that they not score any victories in the name of bigotry.

But this so-called liberal government allows any kind of insult to the holy book of Quran. And under the names of liberalism and freedom of speech, and with the aid of its police, offends more than one billion Muslims around the world.

Yes. That is how freedom of speech works. Just as you have the freedom to condemn me and my beliefs, I have the freedom to condemn you and yours.

You want his so-called 'respect' to be a one-way street, where anybody who criticizes you and your beliefs is ripe for slaughter, but they must passively accept any and all criticism you make of theirs.

As for the 'ripe for slaughter' comment, I remind the reader that what I wrote about in my last post and what provides the context for this discussion is the practice of responding to private actions with promises of indiscriminate violence. And I did not condemn 'Islam' - I condemned how it is practiced in some morally backwards and barbaric parts of the world.

This falls under the moral crime of hypocrisy. You want to be treated as special – given to moral rules that apply to you and you alone but which you are not willing to grant to others.

Do you want to deny the charge of hypocrisy? Of demanding some sort of moral favoritism?

Tell me, if I were to discover that some Muslims in Ryadh who objected to something that I wrote printed off copies of this blog and burned them, would you then conclude that this was wrong and I was morally justified in blowing up a public bus in Medina?

Of course not. You’re a moral hypocrite. Whatever morality you have discovered in your religious text, apparently they seem to include sanctioning indiscriminate violence for private acts, hypocrisy, and hate-mongering bigotry in its list of morally permissible – even praiseworthy – characteristics.

There is no law of respect that covers hate-mongering bigotry, hypocrisy, or indiscriminate acts off violence in response to private actions. There can be no respect for these things among civilized people. Civilized people must condemn these things and for Islam to be a civilized religion is practitioners must find support for these principles somewhere in its doctrine.

Those factions of Islam that embrace hate-mongering bigotry, hypocrisy, and indiscriminate violence in response to private actions cannot claim to be following a civilized religion or one worthy of respect.

The right to freedom of speech is not a right to immunity from condemnation. It is a right to immunity from violence in response to speech acts such as the burning of a legitimately acquired book.

NONE OF US have a right to immunity from criticism. NONE OF US have a right to respond to criticism with violence. Those who believe they have such a right are a threat to peace.

I want to close this post by reminding my readers that some Muslims do recognize that there is no moral legitimacy in responding to private acts with violence. While they condemn the burning of the Koran they also condemn violent responses to those who would burn the Koran. Nor do they condone hypocrisy or moral favoritism, nor do they condone hate-mongering bigotry whether practiced against Muslims or when practiced by fellow Muslims against others.

This post is not a complaint against Islam. It is a complaint against hypocritical hate-mongering bigots of all religious beliefs.

Including atheists, by the way.


Anonymous said...

excellent post, you should be writing for a newspaper!

Michael said...

This post is not a complaint against Islam. Not intentionally, but it nonetheless is.

Those factions of Islam that embrace hate-mongering bigotry, hypocrisy, and indiscriminate violence in response to private actions cannot claim to be following a civilized religion or one worthy of respect.

"Those factions" are pretty much the entirety of Islam. They won't be happy that you're misrepresenting their religion by implying there are non-hate-mongering factions. You should name these peaceful factions, otherwise you look like you have zero knowledge of Islam - and hence lose your credibility.

Islam doesn't care about civility as we define it. And respect in Sharia law is painfully well defined as hatred or second-class citizenship for non-Muslims.

If you don't want to name those elusive peaceful Islamic factions then you should probably stick to the fallback argument for liberals i.e. that theology somehow doesn't matter.

dbonfitto said...

Even better, write for a newspaper printed on paper made from recycled holy texts!

What a waste of perfectly good wood pulp all of this burning nonsense is. At the very least, they ought to put the books into a trash-to-steam plant instead of just wasting resources.

Wouldn't it be better to reuse all that paper printing out some nice open curriculum math texts and donating them to public schools in need?

I simply can't get motivated by folks frothing at the mouth about the fate of what are basically very old anthologies of hack novellas. The IRS nailed Capone. Let the EPA take care of these yahoos.

mojo.rhythm said...


Just wondering if you have an opinion on the whole WikiLeaks thing?