True Tolerance

Crush videos feature small animals … being slowly crushed or impaled by a woman wearing stiletto heels. … The Supreme Court decided … the law prohibiting such videos was too broad. As written, for example, the law could be construed to prohibit a deer-hunting video, which, though some might find cruel, relates to a legal activity. …

Obviously, no one ever intended that the free-speech provision of the Constitution protect the rights of deviants to torture animals and then to market videos for the sexual satisfaction of people who, by their tastes, are a probable threat to society. …

[Representatives] introduced a … [new bill] to narrowly focus the [overturned law]. … Although it specifically exempts hunting videos, animal rights advocates worry that it leaves a loophole. Hypothetically, a crush video could be built around a legitimate hunting scene and thus be protected from prosecution. …

The challenge to Congress is…: There is no argument ever to justify torturing animals and no defense — ever — for selling videos created to profit from that torture. Figure it out. Fix it.. (more)

This seems to argue that it should be illegal to distribute a video of a legal activity, e.g., hunting, because this might result in “sexual satisfaction of people who, by their tastes, are a probable threat to society.”  So the claim is either that it is bad to satisfy such tastes, even if no one else is affected, or that satisfying such tastes will intensify their “threat to society.” Perhaps such a threat intensification exists, but I’d need more concrete evidence of it before prohibiting otherwise harmless activities on that basis.

“Tolerance” is a feel-good buzzword in our society, but I fear people have forgotten what it means.  Many folks are proud of their “tolerance” for gays, working women, Tibetan monks in cute orange outfits, or blacks sitting at the front of the bus.  But what they really mean is that they consider such things to be completely appropriate parts of their society, and are not bothered by them in the slightest.  That, however, isn’t “tolerance.”

“Tolerance” is where you tolerate things that actually bother you.  Things that make you go “ick”, or that conflict with strong intuitions on proper behavior.  Once upon a time, the idea of gay sex made most folks quite uncomfortable, and yet many of those folks still advocated tolerance for gay sex.  Their argument was not that gay sex isn’t icky, but that a broad society should be reluctant to ban apparently victimless activities merely because many find them icky.

Someday soon, technology will allow an explosion of possible creatures and behaviors, many of which will seem icky to many others.  No doubt it will be appropriate for some communities to ban some of them, but we face a very real danger of insufficient tolerance threatening our peace and prosperity. The alternative to living peacefully with those we dislike, may be to instead die with them.

Please, in preparation, let us learn to practice tolerance with the smaller variations we face today.  Unless we see a clearer harm from letting some folks watch vids of cruel but legal hunting, let us tolerate it. Same for polygamy, polyandry, or digitally-created kid porn. You don’t have to like them, or approve them, to tolerate them.

Added: Alex suggests “social change is not much driven by changes in tolerance.”

Added 5p: Note that the people who are actually the most tolerant are marginalized folks with strong opinions, like fundamentalist Islamists in the US, or politically-right profs in academia. By necessity, most such folks frequently tolerate bothersome behaviors by others.

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  • Robert Koslover

    Good. I applaud your straightforward libertarianism on this, even if it may not be axiomatic. :)

  • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds

    Sorry if this is slightly off-topic, but I’ve asked this elsewhere with no answers. The SCOTUS said banning crush videos didn’t pass the test for valid exceptions to the 1st amendment. In the main opinion, Roberts compared this law to child porn laws and how the latter are justified by the real harm caused to children. But he didn’t compare it to vague, broad-brush obscenity laws, which still exist, and seem like a much more apt and difficult comparison. What is the supreme court’s justification for those?

    It seems to me like obscenity laws are a better example of society’s intolerance than this narrow, crush video law.

  • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds
  • http://www.bandwagonsmasher.com John

    I was arguing with a friend about Citizens United, and I said that “if you’re really concerned about the electoral results of corporate speech reaching citizens’ ears, then your target shouldn’t be speech, it should be democracy. If you can’t trust a voter enough to let him hear anything related to relevant political topics, then you’re afraid of democratic governance, not speech.”

    This ruling provokes a similar response from me. If you don’t like the activity, outlaw it, not the speech that conveys it. It seems like people think they can resolve the underlying problems with society (which they have to tolerate) by outlawing speech related to it (which they feel they need not tolerate). It should be the other way around, since the speech is often, if not always, less harmful that the underlying subject of the speech.

  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    “Once upon a time, the idea of gay sex made most folks quite uncomfortable”
    I think that’s still true today. An instance where Robin is not giving folks enough credit!

    pdf32s, you may be interested in Eugene Volokh’s writings on this topic. He doesn’t think SCOTUS has a very coherent justification for its standards. In practice we are giving less and less heed to the obscenity exception because restrictions on obscenity have become less popular (at least among the justices).

    John, Robin argued the same thing in his post “Dissing Citizens“.

    • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds

      restrictions on obscenity have become less popular

      I was suprised at how recent the most recent significant cases on obscenity were. Apparently the laws had been pretty much dormant for several decades, but, possibly due to the Bush administration, there were two cases in 2005. (Details at the wikipedia link.)

      In 2005, a porn distributor was convicted under obscenity laws. The US district judge dismissed the case, but his decision was overturned by the circuit court. (He was based in California, but convicted in Pennsylvania, where the authorities downloaded the material off of their website. The area was more socially conservative, making conviction easier under the Miller test.)

      Also in 2005, a web site operator providing text-only stories including lots of BDSM and underage sex was charged and eventually shut down, and the operator eventually pled guilty.

    • Scoop

      I’d agree that Robin gives people too little credit. The idea of gay male sex is seriously disgusting to straight men. Men (well, men who are not serious adherents to a religion that opposes gay sex) have come to support it intellectually and shut themselves off from confronting it on any visceral level to avoid undermining their intellectual opinions.

      It’s rather like parental sex. There’s no level of enlightenment that will make it less unpleasant to envision, so you avoid any visceral confrontation with it and stick with your intellectual conviction that it’s not only not wrong but actually healthy.

      This strategy, making your decisions intellectually and then blocking your mind from any emotional thinking on icky issues, could be the key to creating more of the tolerance that Robin suggests. Most people, in coming to the decision of where they stand on these animal snuff films will envision the film, feel the disgust and decide against them. But that’s not the right way to make the decision. Indeed, those same people made all decisions that way, they’d come out against gay sex, too. So the right way to decide on gag-inducing behavior is intellectually.

  • Ian

    I get that we should tolerate the distribution of a video showing legal, but morally questionable acts, but you seem to be awfully close to advocating tolerance for the act itself. It seems that, in this situation, most people would be offended by the overt and meditated act of cruelty to small animals, not the distribution of a video. I certainly find the act un-tolerable for the simple fact that it is not victimless by definition. Gay sex, polygamy, and polyandry are victimless and synthetic child pornography has no direct victims, and so I don’t see the direct relation.

    • Dave

      You obviously didn’t pay attention to the article at all. It clearly states that you don’t have to agree with something or even think it’s good in order to tolerate it.
      That “most people by the overt and meditated act of cruelty to small animals” is not the issue. The issue is: is it legal?
      (I do agree with you on the synthetic child porn situation: if no children are harmed in the making of it, why shouldn’t it be legal? Obviously, there are freaks out there and they’re going to respond to things, but we can’t impinge on first amendment rights just because there are freaks out there.)

  • Zeb

    I confess I’m having a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around the intent of this post. First of all, it’s stated that the Washington Post argues that videos of hunting should be prohibited because they might be used by some for the purpose of sexual gratification. This is clearly and blatantly not what the Post article says; rather, the article says that it’s the possibility of a crush video being wrapped within a hunting video which is a potential matter of concern. Hanson goes on to write: “So the claim is either that it is bad to satisfy such tastes, even if no one else is affected, or that satisfying such tastes will intensify their ‘threat to society.’ ” I take objection to the first half of this statement, and I would think that again the objection should be blatantly clear: there is, with regard to crush videos, an obvious effect being felt; it’s felt by the animals involved. The gratuitous torture of animals is generally accepted as being “bad,” i.e. morally indefensible, hence the introduction of laws meant to prohibit such behavior. Moreover, those who object to crush videos do so not because they find them “icky,” but because of the moral indefensibility of acts of gratuitous torture. As opposed to, say, computer generated images of such behavior, which might well be thought “icky” by a majority of people, but which should I agree be tolerated.

    John writes: “This ruling provokes a similar response from me. If you don’t like the activity, outlaw it, not the speech that conveys it. It seems like people think they can resolve the underlying problems with society (which they have to tolerate) by outlawing speech related to it (which they feel they need not tolerate). It should be the other way around, since the speech is often, if not always, less harmful that the underlying subject of the speech.” Acts of gratuitous torture against animals are already generally prohibited under animal cruelty laws. While it’s arguable that the original law regarding crush videos was overly broad (though it’s also arguable that it was not, as it only addressed behaviors defined as “animal cruelty” by pre-existing law), in the case of these videos the activity committed and the “speech” involved, i.e. the videos used to convey that activity, are inextricably intertwined. Animals are tortured for the express purpose of filming the torture; the filming occurs only because the act of torture is being committed. Why this is deemed different from the argument used to prohibit child pornography, beyond the fact that one shows the abuse of humans and the other of nonhumans, is a mystery to me. In both cases the speech is equally harmful as the underlying subject of the speech because such acts would not be committed as and how they are except for the express purpose of their being filmed.

  • http://robertwiblin.wordpress.com Robert Wiblin

    So where do you stand on videos of animal torture?

    • http://ptaipale.blogspot.com Pekka Taipale

      So where do you stand on videos of animal torture?

      At least my view on it is that it should not be banned, but it should be used as evidence.

      There’s a lot of evidence (videos, pictures of autopsies, etc) that I thoroughly do not enjoy seeing, but which should definitely not be banned.

  • bock

    others are harmed by this behavior
    , if you view animals as others. if people can make money selling videos of animal torture, it will motivate animal torture.

    why is tolerance, per se, a virtue? i’ll side with intolerance on this one.

  • http://www.ksrtconlinebooking.in ksrtc

    yae, it’s sad, but many public schools have, in the name of “tolerance,” stifled free speech and true diversity by silencing students of faith, and those with …

    • Tyrrell_McAllister

      and those with …

      . . . and those with what?

  • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

    It’s all about what I want really. I’m affected by this. And I don’t care what you think or about your arguments. It’s not a matter of fact but a matter of taste.

    I’ve already written this in response to a comment over at lesswrong.com: There does exist no goal that is of objective moral superiority. Trying to maximize happiness for everybody is just the selfish effort to survive, given that not you but somebody else wins. So we’re trying to survive by making everybody wanting to make everybody else happy? What if the largest number of possible creatures is too different from us to peacefully, or happily, coexist with us?

    Some thoughts on peace, democracy, freedom and neutrality…
    http://xixidu.tumblr.com/post/266184363/some-thoughts-on-peace-democracy-freedom-and

    Ethics in the light of godly beings
    http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu/5758/Ethics-in-the-light-of-godly-beings

    • http://rudd-o.com/ Rudd-O

      Through your statement “There does exist no goal that is of objective moral superiority”, we can confirm that you are in a pre-moral state.

      I suggest you read Eliezer’s The Fallacy Of Grey. That will help you abandon the belief that all moral rules are equivalent. There ARE superior, more logically valid, moral rules than others (such as “Oh, it’s about what *I* want”, which seems to be your favorite), just as there ARE engines that consume less fuel and output more power. Until and unless you understand that, issues of morality cannot be discussed with you, and you should not intervene in topics of morality.

      • http://rudd-o.com/ Rudd-O

        If you still disagree, ask yourself a really obvious question:

        Is “thou shalt not rape” better, equivalent or worse a rule than “thou shalt rape”? Ask yourself, not from a perspective of outcomes alone, but from a perspective of logic too.

        And then you’ll quickly find out how foolish this idea of “moral subjectivity” is. Or you’ll become a rapist. It’s one of the two, really, at least if you are not a hypocrite.

      • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

        First of all, I’ll read all of lesswrong.com and EY writings at some point. But I’m going to build my own opinions on the journey.

        Believing what I said and being sure about the absoluteness of our volition, I’m a strict vegetarian. So why would I become a rapist because of the same beliefs? Becoming a rapist is a matter of goals. Ask yourself, is it a first-order goal for you to rape? Then what would hold you off from doing so? If there was anything, then that reason would be more important to you than raping.

        There are no logically valid goals. There are only logically valid ways to reach goals. I wrote a bit about that here:
        http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu/5744/Why-choose-the-future-over-the-present

      • http://williambswift.blogspot.com/ billswift

        >There are no logically valid goals.

        Slight disagreement, there are logically invalid goals – those that are internally inconsistent. There are also conflicting goals, they are not inconsistent themselves, but conflict with other goals their possessor has. Logic is valuable in evaluating goals in case of these kinds of conflicts (the latter type of which is extremely common).

      • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

        Having read your suggested article now, I don’t see how what I said contradicts with it? Maybe you mean that all goals have some deep similarity?

        Of course there exist goals of intersubjective moral superiority, like not destroying the universe with a false-vacuum bomb. At least for every agent whose goal isn’t to destroy the known universe. Maybe you could call that objective. But I would have never disagreed about that in the first place.

        So what’s your point? That most rational-minded humans want the same? I doubt that. Also, Robin Hanson seems to take far-future scenarios into account. I also doubt, that once we reach such a future, we’ll be able to rely on human motives to create a adequate legislation to please anyone.

      • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

        @billswift

        Yeah, that came to my mind after hitting ‘submit’. Of course, you are right. What I mean is that there are no logical invalid tastes. And about contradicting goals, sure. You have to set priorities then.

      • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

        Eliezer’s “Fallacy of Grey” is insufficient to make your point. It doesn’t say anything about meta-ethics. Eliezer has also written about that elsewhere, though not of course sufficient to sway me from non-realism (though its questionable whether the two of us actually disagree).

        I’m sympathetic to Hanson’s “Dealism” not because it is in any objective sense superior to other schemas (such as my own preferred Stirnerite egoism) such as being lacking in the logical contradictions alluded to by Bill Swift, but because it can help me get things I want and is more realistic than insisting that others place my own demands above their own.

      • Douglas Knight

        TGGP,

        Eliezer is a moral non-realist, but he is a cognitivist, while I believe you have said that you are a non-cognitivist (perhaps an emotivist). I guess he says that in the thread you linked, but I prefer this, where he explicitly contrasts them.

  • Bill

    Would PETA have been prosecuted under this law for distributing films of animal cruelty at cattle slaughtering plants?

    Speech can be unpleasant, and be meant to be unpleasant in order to motivate change.

    Should video footage of a firefight in Iraq taken by a US solder showing US soldiers exercising poor judgment in the heat of battle shooting civilians be censored by the military?

    Speech can have unintended (or intended if you are on the other side) consequences.

    Free speech is one thing–the right of the recipient of the speech to receive it. But, can society make a judgment about the attitude of the recipient of speech in interacting with that individual. Yes. Think about a prisoner convicted of a violent crime 20 years ago who says he is now reformed, but has a passion for animal crush videos. Should the parole board consider this?

  • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

    Would PETA have been prosecuted under this law for distributing films of animal cruelty at cattle slaughtering plants?

    You are not prosecuted for killing in self-defense. Humans care about motives. There are people who take photos of children’s genitalia for medical purposes too.

    Because one is free to say, depict or do something under certain circumstances and based upon certain motives, someone else is not permitted to do the same within another situational framework. That’s arbitrarily, it must be.

    • Jen

      This is also called a viewpoint-based distinction, an evil of the first order in First Amendment law. To the extent this law bans footage of animal cruelty used to make the point that animal cruelty is enjoyable, but not footage of animal cruelty used to make the point that animal cruelty is an evil, it is even more unquestionably unconstitutional.

  • http://rudd-o.com/ Rudd-O

    Zeb can’t get past the confusion between an evil act and a video of an evil act. Pay close attention — here is when he does the bait-and-switch:

    I take objection to the first half of this statement, and I would think that again the objection should be blatantly clear: there is, with regard to crush videos, an obvious effect being felt; it’s felt by the animals involved.

    It’s a fairly common error — confusing the thing for its symbol. Too bad this error invalidates his point.

    • Zeb

      Ostensibly then, going by your line of argumentation, child porn should also be legal.

      • Aaron

        Yes, child porn should be legal to distribute. And the authorities should study each one they can find to find out who were the sick fucks that coerced children when creating it, and put them away.

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      It’s not about confusing the depiction of an act for the act itself. But people are concerned about perceived intention and motivational lineage. That is, if for what reason was it depicted and how is it entangled with the original subject matter being depicted. You are reducing human agents and their goals to an extent that does not accommodate human motivation. Human moral judgement is much more complex than the simple identification of direct harm. Although that isn’t the case for some people with brain defects:

      No harm, no foul
      Study of moral judgment finds that patients with a specific brain defect lack the emotional reaction necessary to find fault with attempted murderers
      http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2010/moral-judgment-0325.html

      • idiot

        No, actually, that article you link showcase that morality IS simple. It’s ‘icky’, therefore it must be morally wrong.

  • idiot

    Wait, icky isn’t the right word. “I feel some sort of strange emotion when I see this act, therefore this act must be morally wrong.” That should do the trick.

    Our morality shoudl not be based off emotions. It should be based on logic. Otherwise, ‘ickiness’ becomes a very valid argument for banning, well, anything icky.

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      `Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. `Tis not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. — David Hume

      http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Paperclip_maximizer

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      Psychopaths can teach us a lot about the nature of morality. At first glance, they seem to have perfectly functioning minds. Their working memory isn’t impaired, they have excellent language skills, and they don’t have reduced attention spans. In fact, a few studies have found that psychopaths have above-average IQs and reasoning abilities; their logic is impeccable. But the disorder is associated with a severe moral deficit.

      So what’s gone wrong? Why are psychopaths so much more likely to use violence to achieve their goals? Why are they so overrepresented in our prisons? The answer turns us to the anatomy of morality in the mind. That’s because the intact intelligence of psychopaths conceals a devastating problem: the emotional parts of their brains are damaged, and this is what makes them dangerous.

      Psychopaths and Rational Morality

  • lemmy caution
  • another commenter

    to pdf23ds

    child porn is not protected even if the child porn would otherwise pass the tests for obscenity. In other words, the child porn exception to 1A is broader than the obscenity exception. Thus, child porn is a closer analogy to cruelty videos than is obscenity.

  • Grant

    One reason to prohibit crush videos (like child porn) is that it reduces the profit one can gain by selling them. This reduces the incentive to make those videos in the first place, which is where the harm is.

    • Captain Oblivious

      Sort of like how prohibiting sales of recreational drugs reduces the profit one can gain by selling them?

      • Doug S.

        I’m willing to bet that there’s more money spent every year on tobacco than there is on cocaine.

  • Sarah

    Robin, what is the purpose of tolerance?

    I’m asking seriously, if naively. What do you, or anyone, gain by being open to disturbing ideas?

    I ask because I used to be an unreflective liberal, and also faithfully religious. I’ve lost confidence in both faiths, I have nothing to replace them, and I do not see that I have become in any way a better person. My philosopher friend will tell me that uncertainty is a virtue — but I cannot believe even that. I’m not a philosopher, I’m just lost. And it sucks.

    The thing about thinking is that it cannot be unthought. Doubt is stabler than certainty. Once you begin to doubt, you’re stuck with your doubts. But is doubt superior just because it’s stabler? I just feel that I’ve lost everything of importance.

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      The purpose of tolerance is either to be tolerated yourself in return or self-contained if it is your honest desire to grant other people freedom from restrictions that might arise as side effects of opposing goals that you may pursue.

      What a ‘disturbing’ idea is, is relative. Even if only there were rational agents, I believe humans differ in their taste to a notable extent. Thus some extent of tolerance is mandatory for any society of human beings to allow for a relatively peaceful coexistence.

      Have you asked yourself ‘what is my problem’? Is there an obstacle that prevents me to be happy?

      There are more things that terrify us than there are that oppress us, and we suffer more often in opinion than in reality — Seneca

      Forget about uncertainty, it’s not what matters. There is introspection to find and convey meaning. The ultimate purpose on which all meaning is based is the subjective first-person knowledge of volition. A truth which is self-evident. Volition is a truth that is adequately proven by circular reasoning. I want what I want, by reason that’s what I want. Consequently, any action that helps to enforce your will is the only preferable action.

      Maybe I’m wrong, but you sound a bit sad. This might help you: http://lesswrong.com/lw/1yi/the_scourge_of_perversemindedness/

      What can we make of someone who says that materialism implies meaninglessness? I can only conclude that if I took them to see Seurat’s painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” they would earnestly ask me what on earth the purpose of all the little dots was. Matter is what we’re made of, in the same way as a painting is made of dried pigments on canvas. Big deal! What would you prefer to be made of, if not matter?

    • Doug S.

      In regards to tolerance. (Note: Read both part 1 and 2.)

  • Sarah

    Of course I’m sad. I want to love, and belong, and believe. I want to feel good about myself. I can’t do that any more. (Well, I never felt good about myself to begin with, of course, but I could get close, vicariously, when I was really into politics. At least I was on the side of the angels.)

    I agree… humans differ. I alternate between “Crush the bastards under our iron heel!” and “Live and let live.” These days I’m less likely to find “Crush the bastards!” believable, but “Live and let live” is tragic in its way. It’s permitting boll weevils in Eden. I guess you have to, but it bothers me.

    Meaninglessness is not my issue. Obviously atheists get along okay, behave morally, enjoy life, and so on. I’ve seen them do it! All I can say is that they miss out on something. I’m missing out on it too, except the difference between me and an atheist is that I feel the absence acutely.

    Maybe I want something that everybody else is stoic enough to do without.

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      There’s a lot of love out there, it sometimes makes itself seem rare, but that’s passing. Who do you want to belong to, what do you want to believe and why wouldn’t you feel good about yourself? I mean, what is it that you lost, that cannot be unthought. How valuable was it in the first place if mere thoughts could take it away?

      Everything of beauty in the world has its ultimate origins in the human mind. Even a rainbow isn’t beautiful in and of itself. — Eliezer Yudkowsky

      The uncertainty you talked about is exactly what makes room for belief. And what is it that bothers you about ‘evil’? Good and evil are conditional upon each other. Sounds like a overused cliché, but it’s the truth.

      I doubt that you actually miss out on something, that you lost something. For example, I never believed into free will, it always seemed wrong to me. Then a few years ago I became really bothered about it anyway just to figure out how stupid the whole idea was and that I really didn’t want to be free. Surprisingly I changed my opinion again and now believe that there are phenomena that earn this concept more reputation than I previously thought possible.

      I’m just saying that there is really more to most things than meets the eye, but more often than not much less than you think.

      And even if you wish for the impossible, it’s something you can try to change. Even if things seem hopeless on an emotional level, on an intellectual level you’ll find enough clearance to besiege the strongest emotions. On average you just want to be happy and how you reach it in the end won’t matter in retrospect, because you’ll be happy.

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu
  • Sarah

    There are three things that trouble me, really. One is religious, one is entirely personal, and one is political.

    Politics: I no longer find it possible to be a dogmatic believer in any complete ideology. What do I lose? a community, and a confident sense that I’m in the right. I think, lately, that I’m willing to give those things up. That’s not the worst thing to lose. It’s not much fun, but I’m reconciling myself.

    Personal: this doesn’t sound like it has much to do with philosophy, but somehow to me it does. I was in love, not too long ago, with someone I idolized. Now it seems to me that he wasn’t worth loving. If I were to live without making idols of people, where would love go?

    Religious: there are parts of the Bible that, taken literally, make no sense to me, logically or morally. Therefore, either my religion is wrong and my own judgment is right (which I dare not think, because it’s incredibly arrogant and I am an inferior person) or I am wrong. And if I am wrong then the most basic logic I use is wrong, and the main basis of my daily moral choices is wrong, and I don’t know how to live while doubting myself so severely.

    It’s normal to think of ourselves as mostly right, but fallible. To look to authorities for guidance, but to expect to find the guidance sensible. Here, though, that isn’t working, because the guidance from the highest authority sometimes makes no damn sense to me. What I think, and what the God of Abraham thinks, are diametrically opposed. So I either have to be incredibly arrogant, and set my own opinions above those of wiser people, or I have to be incredibly humble, and give no credence to my own common sense. I don’t know what’s worse.

    • Eneasz

      So I either have to be incredibly arrogant, and set my own opinions above those of wiser people, or I have to be incredibly humble, and give no credence to my own common sense.

      Or maybe you can just have enough humility to recognize you were wrong when you thought that these were wiser people. The ancient Hebrews may be much wiser than the typical American in terms of animal husbandry or agriculture or tribal warfare, but they are infants when it comes to their knowledge of morality. Stop thinking of them as wiser than you, that was wrong.

      If you submit to someone else’s declarations when you know they are wrong, you are no more than a slave. There are FOUR lights.

    • Doug S.

      Religious: there are parts of the Bible that, taken literally, make no sense to me, logically or morally. Therefore, either my religion is wrong and my own judgment is right (which I dare not think, because it’s incredibly arrogant and I am an inferior person) or I am wrong.

      You’re overlooking the third option.

      You don’t have to be smarter than Aristotle to know more about physics than he did, because you were born more than two thousand years after he was. You have the advantage of being able to read two thousand more years worth of history and science. People used to think that the Sun goes around the Earth. People used to think that malaria was caused by bad air. It’s not just your own judgment, it’s the cumulative judgment of thousands of years of human history that you’re relying on when you decide that the writers of the Bible got plenty of things wrong. As Isaac Newton himself put it: “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

      And this doesn’t just apply to science. We’ve made made moral progress, too. People used to keep slaves. People used to believe in the divine right of kings. People used to think that it was perfectly fine for a bunch of men with weapons to go to kill a bunch of strangers and take their stuff. People used to think that setting a cat on fire was a nice, fun thing to do.

      You are not alone in your judgments. Whatever your religion is, a majority of the people on this planet believe that it is wrong. And regarding the God of Abraham specifically, well, here’s what Richard Dawkins has to say:

      “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

      (Incidentally, is there any chance we could get you to join the community at LessWrong.com? You sound like exactly the kind of person we want to reach.)

      • Jayson Virissimo

        People used to believe in the divine right of kings. People used to think that it was perfectly fine for a bunch of men with weapons to go to kill a bunch of strangers and take their stuff.

        Now they believe in the divine right of crowds and think it is only okay for “a bunch of men with weapons to go kill a bunch of strangers and take their stuff” if they wear the right kind of uniform. 2,000 years of progress indeed…

      • fburnaby

        Jayson, progress is never (will never be) absolute, but that doesn’t mean we can’t measure it on some relative scale [(Steven Pinker @ TED on violence)](http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html).

        The fact that the people in the funny uniforms have to pay lip service to us is a start. Before long, they’ll be coming up with semi-reasonable excuses, and maybe some day even withholding on a few of their violent escapades. We might as well give it a try.

      • Doug S.

        People living in the 17th century had a much higher chance of being killed by another person than a person living in the 20th century. And that’s in spite of the fact that the 20th century included two world wars.

        I’ll call that progress.

  • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

    Morality is subjective. That is, morality is invented. We all have the ability to fathom what our ‘heart’ is telling us. That isn’t arrogant, it’s a matter of fact to each of us and a matter of taste to everyone else.

    You are your own highest authority in matters of taste. Your taste is what you want, what you want either being to please somebody or being opposed to somebody. In both cases decisions are based upon the authority of your own ruling.

    Morality can be instrumental, as a means to an end. At that point reason can be used to objectify the validity of one moral compared to another with regard to certain goals stated in advance.

    When it comes to matters of fact the highest authority is reality. You can assess your data with practicability. If a drug makes you think that you can fly you can jump from the next bridge and be brought back down to earth by reality.

    What you have to do, indeed all you can do, is your best. That is what we all do and all we can do. You don’t have to be arrogant or humble. All you have to do is what you think is the best to do at any given moment and at the same time stay open minded towards the possibility of being wrong and to be corrected. We are always right and wrong at the same time. We just have to try to be less wrong. If only the slightest feeling favors one action over another, why would you not decide for what feels less wrong?

    And don’t worry about a lost community devoted to some ideology. There are more communities than ideologies. And those that favor the well-being of their members, those that favor the community itself over some abstract ideology are those that give real confidence. Not that you and your community is in the right but confidence in the community itself.

    About love, have you considered to love certain qualities opposed to the whole? As I said above, we are all right and wrong at the same time. The same can be said about our qualities. If you idolize a subject and not its qualities, you seek ideal perfection of a conglomerate of qualities that can not be attained. If I idolize Eliezer Yudkowsky for his wisdom I wouldn’t be disappointed to learn that he’s not a top-model or that he farts during lunch. I still admire certain authors for their prose even though I learnt that they are not vegetarian like me.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    Sarah, many of us love without making unreasonable idols, and join communities without unreasonable confidence in their politics or religion. If our lovers and communities seems unsatisfactory to you, perhaps the reason is that the most attractive and highest status folks are unreasonable, and demand that you be unreasonable to join them. If so, choose if you can, reason or them.

  • Sarah

    Thank you, all. I’m amazed that a total stranger’s question actually got a response… it must say something about this group of people. The world is warmer and more intelligent than I thought.

    I’ll manage, one way or another, and try not to get too messed up in the head. My reason isn’t going anywhere — I’m stuck with it — and maybe I’ll learn to put a positive spin on that reality.

    Robin, I suppose you’re right, life can go on without unreasonable extremes. Sensible people, come to think of it, go ahead and make reasonable judgments when it matters, never mind that it violates scripture or a particular set of political principles. That’s what my parents always did; they were not nearly as rigid as I tend to be. I’ve been foolish.

    Eneaz: it appeals to me to say “there are four lights.” Maybe I’ll try that. There’s a terrible nobility there, which I have tended to believe has nothing to do with me, but I have met it in person and so perhaps it’s not as distant after all.

    XiXiDu: thank you. You seem to have found something that works. That’s all I’m looking for: some way to live that isn’t so heavily doused in shame. (I’m a scientist, but I’m no Feynman; that’s the kind of life that invites one to wonder if one’s just a waste of space.)

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      Is humanity even worth saving?
      As opposed to what?
      …hmm.
      — #sl4

      A waste of space? There is enough space for everyone. Note that there isn’t always a third option, sometimes not even a second one. There’s no choice but to choose life. Any other option is effectively a non-option that doesn’t change anything. The least happiness is better than none at all. Also, things can always change unexpectedly.

      More important, at the basis of all such thoughts, i.e. to be a waste, lies an error in reasoning. You never asked to be born into the world. You haven’t signed any contract. The world has chosen you, not vice versa. You are without responsibility, you are under no obligation. You are not held accountable for the world, only your own well-being. If you decide to make the world a better place, make other people happy, it’s the world that does owe you a debt of gratitude for your generosity. In the first place it is yourself who you should be careful about, for that is the birthplace of meaning. Without you, what will be gone isn’t a waste but meaning and value itself. You imprint reality with a pattern of volition. You give meaning and value to things that, on their own, are naturally void of meaning. You are the conveyor of meaning and value, the most important occupation in all of reality.

  • Corum

    On the crush videos issue, specifically, I must admit to feeling a sense of unreality about all the outrage being expressed. After all, hundreds of millions of us routinely eat meat which, if you have even the most casual knowledge of how factory farming is done, involves the most horrific torture of animals on a massive scale. Given what is routinely done, en masse, to chickens–beaks ripped out, fattened to the point they cannot walk–cows (and especially veal)–pigs, etc.–I find the disgust at a single mouse being crushed under a heel difficult to understand.

    I should qualify, I am neither a vegetarian nor a fan of crush videos. I just find the weird combination of attitudes here disorienting.

    –Corum

  • Bill

    We live in a world where a courtroom of judges needs to tell us not to torture and kill small animals on video tape for our own amusement.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • http://www.aguanomics.com David Zetland

    Robin — By coincidence, I posted something similar to this today. I was accused of ripping you off, but that’s not true (I wrote it a few months ago). I am, OTOH, quite pleased that we’ve written similar things. (I didn’t use bambi killing as a motivation, tho :)

  • Corum

    Bill, your post is rather unresponsive, given what’s already been said.

    Can you explain the reason for disgust over “crushing” but the lack of disgust over our routine torture of animals in factory farms? I mean, that courtroom of judges you refer to, doesn’t even bother to tell us not to trap infant cows in boxes too small to move in so that they won’t grow; not to skin adult cows while still alive; or not to rip the beaks out of the faces of chickens. (All by the tens of millions.)

    What’s so special about the crush case?

    –Corum

  • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

    I’d like to draw attention to this article, regarding all those who think moral is based upon rationality and can thus be adequately captured by law. That is, law can be created in a generally convenient way that will work but not one that feels right on a intersubjective level.

    The results emphasize that although psychopathic patients show no deficits in reasoning about other people’s emotion if an explicit evaluation is demanded, they use divergent neural processing strategies that are related to more rational, outcome-oriented processes.

    Psychopaths can teach us a lot about the nature of morality. At first glance, they seem to have perfectly functioning minds. Their working memory isn’t impaired, they have excellent language skills, and they don’t have reduced attention spans. In fact, a few studies have found that psychopaths have above-average IQs and reasoning abilities; their logic is impeccable. But the disorder is associated with a severe moral deficit.

    So what’s gone wrong? Why are psychopaths so much more likely to use violence to achieve their goals? Why are they so overrepresented in our prisons? The answer turns us to the anatomy of morality in the mind. That’s because the intact intelligence of psychopaths conceals a devastating problem: the emotional parts of their brains are damaged, and this is what makes them dangerous.

    Psychopaths and Rational Morality

  • Zeb

    The accusation that greater outrage over the treatment of animals raised for food should be expressed is, if applied to society as a whole, surely appropriate; directed at those who have posted here, however, it’s disingenuous at best, and diversionary/divisive at worst. There are innumerable web sites, articles and postings delineating the cruelties involved in factory farming, expressing everything from concern to outrage to disgust. The discussion here however is about crush videos. Hence the outrage is about crush videos. Surely the chain of cause and effect is not hard to follow. More simply put: it’s a matter of staying on topic.

    And speaking of a “weird combination of attitudes,” if you, Corum, believe that factory farming “involves the most horrific torture of animals,” and are capable of giving multiple examples as to why this is so, why in the world are you not vegetarian? It’s curious . . .

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      As Jen wrote here, a viewpoint-based distinction seems to be an evil of the first order under U.S. law. Thus regarding law, people like Corum are right. But as I wrote several times above, law frequently is psychopathic as it does not appeal to human morality.

      I think this indifference towards motives cannot be found in German law. But I’m not sure. I know that, for example, I’m allowed to display Nazi symbols for the sake of historic illustration but not as admiring propaganda. I think even the U.S. law knows such distinctions when it comes to free speech. But I’m not sure. I was never a fan of boundless free speech anyway.

  • Corum

    Zeb, I am not a vegetarian, because I am not particularly convinced by animal rights arguments or moved morally by animal rights issues. My moral sentiments are largely confined to the human side of the ledger. So, I am not particularly incensed either by meat loaf or by the occasional small rodent crushing. (My description of factory farming as ‘horrific’ was my attempt to engage the question from “inside” the animals rights orientation.)

    My aim wasn’t to accuse anyone of anything, so I find your charges of divisiveness…well…weird again. I simply found all the venting about Crush videos strange, given that I didn’t get the sense from the discussion that it was coming from a more general animal rights orientation (i.e. one that would also entail vegetarianism).

    My suspicion is that the outrage is stoked by the fact that people are getting sexual pleasure from these Crush videos. For some reason, whenever that topic is mixed in with anything, Americans go a bit bonkers.

    –Corum

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      I doubt there is a ‘human side’. I wrote a bit about it here. If you care, I don’t feel like repeating it all.

      And here is a little appeal to emotion:

      What is it that should trace the insuperable line? …The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? – Jeremy Bentham

      Because one species is more clever than another, does it give it the right to imprison or torture the less clever species? Does one exceptionally clever individual have a right to exploit the less clever individuals of his own species? To say that he does is to say with the Fascists that the strong have a right to abuse and exploit the weak – might is right, and the strong and ruthless shall inherit the earth. – Richard D. Ryder

  • Corum

    XiXiDu:

    Sorry, but I don’t find any of the material on that link compelling. I am happy to admit to being a speciesist. I come from the side of moral philosophy that does not believe that ethics derives from reason (I actually teach these subjects for a living, so my position, while certainly debatable, is not an un-thought-out one), so I would not be inclined to accept either Utilitarian based moral principles or appeals to Kantian or Lockean conceptions of “rights.” I am more inclined to agree with Hume, who maintained that morality is grounded in sympathy and that sympathy is grounded in resemblance and other forms of likeness. Hence the reason why people tend to have greater sympathy for primates and higher mammals that are “like us” than for rats and other vermin, which are not.

    It’s all very well to call people “fascists” and to conflate rodents with handicapped children, but that’s all it is…talk. And unpersuasive talk at that.

    –Corum

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      My position pretty much isn’t a well-thought-out one. More an approach by intuition. I have no formal education at all. I’m just writing this stuff because it helps me to put my thoughts together and to build my own opinion on the way towards a more informed one. So I’m often having a little sense of indebtedness when learning that I actually wrote somebody who’s many levels above mine. I’ll continue to do so though, as it has been a great way to capture educated feedback. If I steal your time, just ignore me ;-)

      Anyway, I have never called somebody a fascist? I don’t think. And the persuasiveness of an argument by cognitive capabilities is, or should be, very high as those qualities can be objectified, at least in theory. So can suffering.

      Hence the reason why people tend to have greater sympathy for primates and higher mammals that are “like us” than for rats and other vermin, which are not.

      People have a much broader sense of compassion than that, as many even attribute moral qualities to their PC’s or art and other inanimate objects. Thus I believe that the anthropocentric approach towards ethical conduct is largely a cultural and intellectual one. Both being wrong. Although I can’t prove it. Maybe a game theoretic approach will one day show the advantage of the underlying principles of vegetarianism and other broader approaches to ethical conduct.

      • Corum

        No, it was the article you linked to that referred to people like me as “fascists.”

        –Corum

  • Zeb

    Thanks for clarifying, Corum. I agree that Americans do tend to “go a bit bonkers” over anything that involves sex. But I think that people also tend to go a little bonkers over anything that involves altering established social norms. Crush videos do that by their glorying in sadism – which, if a more or less natural impulse, isn’t a socially sanctioned one, generally speaking: the majority reacts to it with distaste. Though S&M activities occurring between consenting adults may now be seen as marginally acceptable, when it involves innocents – children or nonhuman animals – it falls on the other side of the line. The concern being, with regard to the involvement of nonhuman animals at least, a matter of what sanctioning such activities says about ourselves as much as, or even more than, what it says about the “rights” of nonhumans.

    The question animal rights as an ethical argument raises has to do with extending recognition of similarities between humans and nonhumans beyond what they (animal rights ethicists) would consider to be the merely superficial one of appearances. Handicapped children (or any other human) have similarities to rodents, despite the many external differences; these similarities, it is argued, matter morally. While the ethics of animal rights is postulated via reasoned arguments (as all ethical philosophies are), they arise from an innate sense that the similarities between humans and nonhumans outweigh the differences. Surely you find in yourself some measure of sympathy for the animals being tortured in crush videos? If so, my question to you would be: What is it in you that causes the emotional viability of your response? In what sensibility is the emotion grounded?

  • Corum

    Well, a roughly Humean ethic is going to recognize that a person is never going to have as much sympathy for a rodent as for a child, and this is simply because the rodent does not resemble him/her as much as the child does (nor is as close to me in other relevant ways). For Hume, sympathy radiates out from the agent and wanes as it gets farther away from something that is recognizable. Our capacity to care about strangers and non-human animals is due to the faculty of the imagination: to our ability to imagine that they are like us. The more difficult that becomes, the less sympathy one will feel.

    Being an anti-rationalist in ethics, I also am comfortable with the idea that people are inherently inconsistent. Certainly, if I am actually seeing a person crush a mouse on purpose, in front of me, I will be disturbed, but to merely contemplate such, especially given the rarity of the fetish, doesn’t move me much at all. Distance matters: one’s sympathies are stronger when in the presence of a suffering person/animal than when at a distance.

    It is for these two prior reasons, incidentally, that whenever, historically, one people has sought to destroy another, two things have always been effective: (1) representing such people in images and other forms of propaganda as alien–i.e. not resembling us–and (2) insuring that they are not physically among oneself and ones compatriots–but rather in ghettos, etc.—since proximity is another source of sympathy.

    Obviously, a view like mine is one in which ethical judgments really don’t have any sort of robust normativity, but are instead expressions of feeling and taste. That is just as well, as far as I am concerned, as I think normativity is a concept that is simply impossible to make sense of. I have yet to encounter a moral theory which provided any kind of plausible rational justification for a strong “ought”.

    –Corum

    • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

      I never experienced sympathy based on resemblance or distance. But I doubt that I’m neurotypical. I’ve decided to become vegetarian with 13 and the beef on my dish didn’t resemble me much and the distance between me and the slaughterhouse was also far. I always capture insects and bring them outside too.

      Anyway, I think a position of unreasonable partition between beings of ethical treatment and those without rights is, in the long term, less successful than one that does expand its circle of compassion and rights as far as possible. Once you are willing to grant other beings the same rights that you demand for yourself, you are able to cooperate with all those that subscribe to the same ethical conduct. That is, contrary to those with a narrow range of lawful ascription, who are by definition less trustworthy to those outside of their ethical applicable treatment and therefore not qualified for cooperation.

      • Corum

        XiXiDu:

        I have no doubt that you are an especially compassionate person, with an exceptionally broad range of sympathy. The Humean point–and mine–is simply the empirical one that in human beings, sympathy tends to radiate outwards, on the basis of the capacity of the individual to identify with the object of sympathy. So:

        1. I care about my own children more than about other peoples’ children.

        2. Same point as 1. re: my parents, other relatives, and friends.

        3. I care more about people I know that I do about total strangers.

        4. I care more about people, regardless of whether I know them or not, than I care about animals.

        5. I care more about animals that bear some similarity to me–i.e. mammals–then I do about those that bear less–say, insects.

        I would submit that these things are true of most people (admitting exceptions like yourself).

        Now, those who are invested in a moral philosophy of one kind or another will want to say, “Yes, that may be how people actually feel, but it’s not how they *ought* to feel.” Indeed, this is how Peter Singer, Peter Unger, and other prominent Utilitarians speak.

        What I want to say is that no sense can be made of the claim that one “ought to feel such and such.” Certainly, there are some who would *rather* that most people not feel the way I have described–you, for example, wish that we wouldn’t–but notice, this is just another feeling: albeit a contrary one.

        Moral philosophers will then want to say that one can produce a rational argument or account on behalf of some “ought”, but I have yet to see one that succeeds (the Utilitarians are still arguing with the Kantians, etc), and until I do, all I see are competing sets of wants. Unfortunately, yours–and the animal rights peoples’–comprise only a tiny minority of said wants.

        Moral discourse is an attempt to cheat one’s way out of this inconvenient fact. Rather than saying “I don’t want what you people want” (say, eating animals) and then accepting the fact that there aren’t enough people who don’t want it to make the people that do want it stop, one pretends, instead, that there is some objective fact of wrongness, and then uses this pretense to try and trick those on the other side into acquiescing. This used to be bolstered by warnings of divine punishment for failure to acquiesce, but now, more often than not, involves the more temporal sanction of a kind of shunning from the “moral community,” which is no less a fiction than the alleged moral fact on which it’s based.

        The impression is then given that the forces of morality have won over the forces of wickedness, on the grounds of dispassionate, universal reason, but of course, all that has really happened is that one group of people have managed to make other people acquiesce to their wants, in a particularly clever, because dishonest way. I have no problem with this, but I do think it is nice to be clear about what is really going on.

        –Corum

      • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

        Hah…well, I sometimes make the wrong impression in what I write. Of course I also bow to a gradation of sympathy. Although the code I adopted is rather rational than one based on emotions and not strict. If I probe my emotions I can’t find the stages you described. I’d rather save an adult than a child and a scientist than two others. Emotionally the destruction on knowledge, data and art often does bear greater sorrow than that of living beings. For example, for as long as I know about the destruction of the Library of Alexandria I perceive it as the biggest tragedy in human history. I’ve actually often offended people with my perception before I learned to play along in public. I never felt this greater obligation towards relatives than other people or icky beings in contrast to beautiful ones.

        What I want to say is that no sense can be made of the claim that one “ought to feel such and such.”

        As I’ve written in several comments above, I agree, always did. For example, I wrote about it in the following links and I’d love to hear what you think:
        http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu/5744/Why-choose-the-future-over-the-present
        http://xixidu.tumblr.com/post/266184363/some-thoughts-on-peace-democracy-freedom-and

  • Zeb

    There is, Corum, much that is true in what you have written, and I have no particular desire to dispute it. I wonder, however, how one such as yourself would arrive at a prescription for regulating behavior at a societal level?

    • Corum

      Zeb:

      I have no such prescription. Behavior is only ever regulated by innumerable methods of coercion: soft and hard; physical and verbal. The idea that there is something inherently non-coercive about a certain kind of civil discourse–i.e. the liberal democratic ideal of policy making via rational interlocution–is, in my view, entirely mythical. Reason, in itself, only expresses abstract relations between propositions: it has no efficacy in the causal sense. To the extent, then, that language is efficacious (i.e. is able to get people to do things) it is so because of its non-rational characteristics (which include things like the social prestige that attaches to *appearing* to be rational).

      –Corum

  • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

    Free speech on campus rightly has limits

    Freedom of expression is a precious commodity, but it does not give academics or students the right to break the law

    [...]

    You can attack my religion (Orthodox Judaism). I will defend your right to do so. What you cannot do is to mount your attack in such a way as to incite violence against me. You can declare that Jewish emancipation was a mistake (some Jews on the sectarian-Orthodox fringes may actually agree with you!). What you cannot do is to mount a campaign to limit the proportion of Jews entering your university. Why? Because such a campaign would certainly fall foul of existing legislation protecting ethnic groups.

  • Corum

    XiXiDu:

    I have no idea what this quote–or the article it is from–has to do with our discussion.

    –Corum

  • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

    @Corum

    To my knowledge this blog post was based on a case about the First Amendment. Obviously it was not about tolerance regarding the torture of little children for medical experiments etc.? And that quote is from a recent article, as linked at the top, that specifically talks about tolerance regarding freedom of speech. So I have no idea why you have no idea why this quote/article is related to this discussion/blog post…

  • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

    I just noticed…

    Added 5p: Note that the people who are actually the most tolerant are marginalized folks with strong opinions, like fundamentalist Islamists in the US, or politically-right profs in academia. By necessity, most such folks frequently tolerate bothersome behaviors by others.

    The U.S. must be located on another planet then. I doubt it though. To my knowledge and experience it’s exactly vice versa. And I have/had to do with quite a few extreme people over here in Germany. It’s rather the more marginalized they get the more extreme tendencies they express and outlive. Here we have honor killings, people demanding Sharia law, people killing artists, threatening newspapers and right/left wing groups actively trying to kill each other.

    Some of those religious cranks who wanted to brainwash their children even got asylum in the U.S. lately because we wanted to imprison them for their intolerance…

  • Eric H

    “‘Tolerance’ is where you tolerate things that actually bother you.”

    Should I tolerate more fascism, corporatism, and an expanding state? If not, perhaps tolerance should not be so fetishized.

  • Zeb

    Corum: If I understand you rightly, what you’ve said so far is that, for some people, knowledge of the torture of animals in crush videos inspires, via emotion or sentiment, the desire to create (or lobby for the creation of) laws which require (force, coerce) those who create such videos to cease their activity. You yourself don’t feel so moved or inspired, and you wonder why those who are don’t necessarily feel equally inspired by the treatment of animals raised for food, which treatment could be (and sometimes is) also defined as torture – or at least, gives the appearance of being equally egregious to that meted out to animals involved in crush videos. Would you call that a fair summary of what you’ve stated thus far? If so, I at least have no quarrel with you, nor criticism to make beyond what I’ve said in earlier posts.

    What I remain curious about is what motivates you as a political being. Does the above aptly describe your mode of action as you experience it? Concerning, that is, such matters as inspire you to action?

  • Corum

    Zeb:

    You have characterized my position perfectly. Indeed, you have characterized it more elegantly and clearly than I have been doing through all my long-winded philosophizing.

    I fight for those things that I care about and try to make them happen. That involves both verbal and other forms of coercion. What I don’t do is try to pretend that I am advancing some sort of objective, perspective-neutral, true morality. (Although I might, if I thought it might advance the causes about which I have strong feelings.)

    –Corum

  • Zeb

    Corum: Lol with regards the statement in parenthesis. We seem to be more or less on the same page, generally speaking: that is, I have no quarrel with your viewpoint, and agree with it insofar as I’ve understood it (some of your more philosophical points were too far beyond me for me to intelligently discuss). Thanks for answering my questions.

  • http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu XiXiDu

    I fight for those things that I care about and try to make them happen. That involves both verbal and other forms of coercion. What I don’t do is try to pretend that I am advancing some sort of objective, perspective-neutral, true morality. (Although I might, if I thought it might advance the causes about which I have strong feelings.)

    Same. So I suppose we all agree. That also means that none of us believes into true tolerance.

    Just one additional point:

    …and you wonder why those who are don’t necessarily feel equally inspired by the treatment of animals raised for food…

    Many do, including me. I just can’t stop it right now.

  • Sadie

    I agree with your general point, but I do not, under any circumstances, tolerate animal cruelty or videos documenting it (that aren’t for the purposes of condemnation, perhaps). Thus, I do not defend the “rights” of anyone dispensing such videos.