Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration Part VI: Responding to a Comment

I am still not clear on how you get to come up with the judgment of "bigot" on the writers of the Manhattan Declaration.

A bigot is a person who unfairly or unjustly identifies a group of people as being 'inferior" in some way - morally inferior, or inferior in capacity. The bigot pre-judges their inferiority, and then goes around looking for evidence that will lend legitimacy to this judgement.

In light of this, one of the ways to identify a bigot is that the bigot will embrace poor arguments - absurd premises or invalid inferences - simply because they support his prejudice (or pre-judgment).

In this series of posts I have identified a number of arguments in the Manhattan Declaration that fit this description. They are arguments that no fair and just person would embrace. That the authors of the Manhattan Declaration embrace those arguments strongly suggests that they are driven blind to the flaws in those arguments by their craving for something that will give even a shadow of legitimacy to their pre-judgment (their prejudices).

This is the behavior of a bigot.

If you find sufficient evidence to convict somebody of forcefully having sex with another person without her consent, it is quite legitimate to call him a rapist. And if you catch somebody struggling to convince others of something the speaker knows to be false then you are within reason to call that person a liar. Similarly, if you catch a group of people blind to gaps of logic because they are driven to the conclusion by their own prejudice, then it makes perfectly good sense to call those people bigots.

I would think twice before labeling people you don't really know are wrong in their beliefs.

Bigots never see themselves as being wrong. Bigots always see themselves as great benefactors of society, targeting some threat that others in society simply refuse to see. White supremacists see themselves as trying to save the white race from contamination from the inferior races and think that their beliefs that the white race is superior to the other races to be perfectly justified. The anti-gay bigots see themselves as saving marriage from the contamination of inferior unions and think their beliefs that heterosexual relationships are superior to homosexual relationships are perfectly justified.

I wonder how you would feel if someone labeled you a "bigot" simply because you don't believe in God.

It does not matter how I would feel. Truth is what matters, not feelings. I imagine that the rapist feels quite poorly when he is called a rapist. But the real question to ask is not, "How does it make the rapist feel?" What matters is, "Is he really a rapist."

I have made my charge. I have defined my terms. And I have presented sufficient evidence for a conviction. I have identified the specific arguments that support the conclusion that the authors of the Manhattan Declaration embraced arguments that no fair and just person would embrace - purely because those arguments support the authors' pre-judgment in the inferiority of others.

I rest my case.

Well, not quite yet. I have a little more to say and a few more posts to say it in.

In my dictionary, bigot is defined as one who is intolerant of the opinions of others.

So, how tolerant are you of the opinions of the Nazi, or of the child molester? How tolerant of you of the drunk driver who assures you that he can make it home, or of the person who flies airplanes into sky scapers because he sees America as a threat to Islam?

How tolerant are you being of my opinions here? In writing this comment, are you not demonstrating intolerance of my views?

As far as I can tell, what you are saying is, "Anybody who calls somebody else a bigot is a bigot." If we take this argument to its logical conclusion, you are calling yourself a bigot because of your intolerance of my views.

If you want to avoid these types of problems then you need a better definition 'bigot'. I would recommend the one that I use - a person who embraces blatantly false premises or makes grossly fallacious leaps of logic to reach the conclusion that some group of people are inferior. With this definition one can then prove bigotry by identifying those blatantly false premises or grossly fallacious leaps of logic. Which is exactly what I have done in these posts.

And before you bite back, consider this, if there is no God, then there is no equality either. You can't have it both ways. The party with the biggest mouth and biggest stick is the winner, and the losers will just have to put up and shut up. Is that the kind of world you want to live in?

Well, this is one of those wild leaps of logic used to view others as inferior.

It is as absurd as claiming that if there is no God then there is no reason to establish a fire department that will rescue me if my house shall catch on fire, or no reason to establish a police department who will secure my property from theft and vandalism. It is as absurd as claiming that if there is no God then there is no reason to promote a culture that condemns rapists, thieves, and murderers because (sarcasm on), as we all know, atheists have no reason to want to avoid being raped, robbed, murdered, censored, enslaved, imprisoned without trial, or tortured.(sarcasm off).

The type of person who would believe these things is somebody who craves viewing himself as better than others, and for the sake of that prejudice is inclined to grasp onto any absurdity that says, "you are morally inferior to us."


Emu Sam said...

Expression of praise to reinforce this sort of blog-speech.

Doug S. said...

I think you meant "Part VI" and not "Part IV".

Eneasz said...

Masterfully done!!

Anonymous said...

That's the whole point. I don't think I am inferior or superior to anyone, and that includes you, my friend, and also criminals and rapists. I only wanted you to consider that the viewpoints you express are not necessarily correct for everyone, and for all time. Just because you think they are, doesn't make them so - even as you have so thoughtfully decided that mine aren't correct either. Every point of view blinds each of us to the points of view of others. Just as in a room, if you are looking west, you cannot see what is east, we seldom have the whole picture.

I believe that all people are equal, but can only believe that if I consider there is a God who is in common to all, and loves us all the same, warts and all, whether we acknowledge Him or not :)

Alonzo Fyfe said...


First: you seem to forget that I am criticizing a declaration written by people who are trying to justify real-world harms that they cause to real-world people. This is not an abstract discussion on the aesthetics of some appartment. This is a discussion about the actions of a group of people who think they have the God-given authority to impose great harms and burdens on others. At the same time they accept no burdens for themselves other than the burden of ensuring thir continued liberty to impose great harms on others.

Why are you here criticizing me and defending them?

It is like coming upon a rape in an alley and telling the young girl who is struggling against the rapist that she must submit. After all, you tell her, she has no right to impose her views on the wrongness of rape against the rapist. She must, instead, respect the views of the rapist or she is guilty of bigotry against rapists.

Then you go to the person who would try to help the young girl and say to him, "You must not interfere, because all world views are equally valid, including the world view of the rapist. You must not condemn or criticize the rapist in any way because, if you do so, then you are a bigot."

I am writing here to criticize an injustice - to criticize the actions of a group of people who inflict great harms on others. Then you come here and tell me that it is wrong to interfere - that I must respect the point of view of those who inflict harm and ignore the point of view of those who are made the victims of this harm.

This is exactly like telling me that I must respect the rapist and ignore the rape - thus ignoring its victims.

Second: when you wrote your comment you wrote it very much in the tone of somebody who says, "What I write is true, and anybody who would deny these claims is mistaken." Yet, you deny that there is a truth or that there is the possibility of mistake.

You insist that all points of view are equally valid, but you refuse to apply this to the idea that all points of view are not equally valid. If your premise is true, then is it not also the case that "all points of view are not equally valid" is, itself, equally valid? If it is, why do you criticize it. If it is not, then you are denying your own premise that all points of view are equally valid.

Your extreme relativism is absurd and self-contradictory.

It is only made worse by your decision to put this absurd and self-contradictory philosophy to work for the benefit of those who would impose great harms on others, and against those who would protest against those harms.

Third: Just before starting this series I was objecting to atheist bigots who make huge, unjustified leaps of logic in order to justify condemning religious moderates for the actions of religious extremists.

Against this, I argue that this is as absurd as giving religious extremists moral credit for good deeds of religious moderates.

I objected that, instead of unustly targeting religious moderates for giving moral cover to religious extremists, that these critics should target (secular) moral relativists instead.

Your posts here have provided me with a living example of exactly what I was talking about - a case that I have used to illustrate just how moral relativists provide moral cover to the religious fundamentalist.

I wanted to point this out for the sake of those who have read the previous series.

Anonymous said...

You really read a lot into what I write... There is this self-serving feature of the human race that sometimes will not bend to the will of another. You can try to force an issue, and in so doing, you can end up trampling the rights of others. For one human to assert his/her rightness and another's wrongness can be subjective, especially if there is an opposing viewpoint. (I'm not talking about crimes against innocent victims). THAT IS NOT TO SAY THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE TRUTH. None of us are so IMPARTIAL that we can clearly, and truthfully speak for the whole group UNLESS there is a higher authority that has an equal, impartial, and personal interest in every member of the group (humans of the world) and they speak THAT. Without fair rules and a fair referee, the game is not fair. Which team are you on?
I know you are trying your best to represent an ethical viewpoint of the world, and I commend you for that. Your reference to people you disagree with, however sincerely you believe they are wrong, as "bigots" concerns me. The thing that struck me about the declaration, is that this group does not want to perform acts, or be compelled to perform acts, or be made to think and agree with things that go against their individual ethics and consciences. I can certainly see their point in that.

Eneasz said...

Without fair rules and a fair referee, the game is not fair.

You seem to be saying that the rules are fair, and that a fair referee exists, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Do you have any evidence to back up your claim, or is this just blind assertion?

Life is only as fair as we humans strive to make it be.

Your reference to people you disagree with, however sincerely you believe they are wrong, as "bigots" concerns me.

You are misrepresenting the post. Alonzo is not referring to people who disagree with him as bigots. There are plenty of people who disagree with him that are not bigots. Rather, he is referring to people who ARE bigots as bigots. And he provided supporting evidence of that claim, which you don't bother to address and simply repeat your "but they just have a different opinion!" squawking.

Also, your fake "concern" is laughable. No concern for the victims of oppression, only the oppressors? Spare me.

The thing that struck me about the declaration, is that this group does not want to perform acts, or be compelled to perform acts, or be made to think and agree with things that go against their individual ethics and consciences.

And again you misrepresent the situation. No one, or at least certainly not Alonzo, is arguing that anyone be compelled to perform any acts they don't wish to perform, or think things they don't think (is the latter even possible?). Much like the white supremacist isn't forced to marry other races, or even think of them as equal. The only thing that's being advocated in this post is that people who wish to do harm to others - such as the bigots who wish to deny civil rights to their jewish/gay/black/whatever neighbors - must provide a good reason for doing so.

Unless you wish to fall back into the pit of "Well, not-raping is against the rapists individual ethics/conscience, so we shouldn't compel him to not rape."

Alonzo Fyfe said...


I'm not talking about crimes against innocent victims.

I am.

I am talking about people and organizations putting huge amounts of resources and going to a huge amount of effort to pass and preserve unjust and discriminatory legislation.

These are moral crimes against innocent people - just as immoral as slavery, the Japanese internment, denying women the right to vote, segregation, and other moral crimes of bigotry - made no less immoral by the fact that they were written into the law.

For one human to assert his/her rightness and another's wrongness can be subjective, especially if there is an opposing viewpoint.

Can be, yes.

But is it?

It can be the case that I am in Witchita. But am I?

The possibility of error is exactly why the accuser is duty bound to present the evidence supporting the accusation. I am not merely making an assertion. I have backed that assertion up with evidence, and that evidence is freely available for others to examine and to respond to.

You choose to ignore the evidence and speak only to the vague possibility of wrongness.

It's like a defense attorney who, after the prosecutors have presented their eye witnessess, their forensic evidence, their video tape from the security camera, responds by saying, "You know, we all make mistakes. It is possible that the defense attorney is mistaken. We have two people here with two different points of view, and who is to say who is right and who is wrong?"

How about we look at the evidence?

If there is a problem with the evidence, tell me what it is.

Your defense can be applied to every type of bigot - in fact, every type of moral criminal imaginable. Hitler could have used the defense, "Well, we all have our different points of view, you know. I was merely acting on my sincerely held beliefs in the inferiority of the non-Ayrian populations. That's my point of view, and you have to respect that." The child rapist can also say, "Well, I have my own point of view, of course. Who are you to say that your point of view is right and mine is wrong?"

It's not a case of crimes against innocent victims, you say? That is exactly what we are disputing here - whether the attitudes adopted against homosexuals (leading to actions that deny them fair and just treatment under the law) are crimes against innocent victims or not.

Your reference to people you disagree with, however sincerely you believe they are wrong, as "bigots" concerns me.

You can't respond to what I actually wrote so you make things up - effectively bearing false witness against me because what you claim I have done is false.

I do not call somebody a bigot because he disagrees with me. In fact, everybody disagrees with me about something, and I do not think that everybody is a bigot.

I call somebody a bigot because they unjustly and unjustifiably casts a whole group as inferior or defective. I prove my accusations by providing evidence of huge leaps of logic that no fair and just person would ever accept, concluding that the person who uses those arguments is not a fair and just person. It's the same standard that I apply to all bigots - even atheist bigots (and they do exist).

Anonymous said...

We will have to agree to disagree. I don't care to comment here any more. You have shown that you believe that you alone are right, and as long as you feel you can justify your opinion, you are above reproach. There is always a body of evidence that is not examined in any case, however, in some cases there is enough and clear evidence to make a correct judgement. I disagree that this is the case here. You clearly have a strong bias. The Christian community has stood up for the rights of the oppressed. In this document, the behaviors / willful actions of people are of concern to the writers, not things which cannot be helped / changed.

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