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Idiotic and Dangerous

Entry 1981, on 2019-05-27 at 17:15:32 (Rating 3, Politics)

Some people have, what is in my opinion, pretty stupid opinions and beliefs. Some might be said to extend to idiocy, and some might even be labelled as dangerous. But I think it is important to realise that what is considered idiotic or dangerous is itself, to a significant degree, a matter of opinion. And having strong opinions that other people's opinions are idiotic or dangerous is itself often idiotic or dangerous!

I hope you followed the logic of that rather convoluted argument. Essentially it comes down to this: having an opinion which shuts down other people's opinions should be acknowledged as a bad thing. And saying that the other person is intolerant, hateful, or even a fascist should be changed to saying that from your perspective that is the case. The ultimate extension of this concept is that one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.

At this point it might seem like I might be heading down some sort of relativist rabbit hole, but I'm not, because I think some ideas are inherently better than others, but it's not always clear which they are. That's why it's important to give all views a fair hearing to judge which are intrinsically good, which are bad, and which might be argued both ways.

Can anyone really live up to such high ideals? Well, to a varying extent, yes, they can, because I do!

Let me give some examples...

It should be very clear to my regular readers that I am no great fan of religion, and consider it both delusional and harmful (or idiotic and dangerous - see above). So you might think that when religious people make statements or try to advance ideas that I disagree with that I would want to shut them down. But no, I don't.

In fact I have "gone into bat" against quite hateful opposition to religious people recently. Just in the last week there were two quite prominent examples of this. First, was Israel Folau's "little disagreement" with the Australian Rugby Union, where he was fired as a player for suggesting that certain types of people (including gays and atheists) should repent or they might go to Hell. Second, was the establishment of a new Christian-based political party by self-styled bishop Brian Tamaki and his wife.

Of course, as an atheist, I don't have a great deal of respect for people's religious views, but I do have a lot of respect for a system which allows them to be expressed. Many people, who are just unthinkingly following the established politically correct norms, have utterly rejected not just these people's ideas but their right to even present them. So, in that case, who is acting in the more totalitarian way: the person with the conservative views, who just wants to offer alternative ideas, or the person trying to repress their right to make those views known? I think the answer is clear.

It's true that some groups may feel aggrieved when certain views are made public, but so what? It's time people started growing up and accepting that contrary opinions exist. And the criticism is always so selective too, for example Folau said both gays and atheists would go to Hell, and there was huge criticism of his alleged "hateful" opinion regarding gays, but almost no mention of the fact that it also extended to atheists (and many others as well).

And I don't think his opinion is hateful anyway. If someone genuinely believes that Hell awaits people with certain ideas or lifestyles he could react in two ways. He could just think "OK suckers, I don't care about you and you can go to Hell, but I'll be OK" or he could think "those poor people need my help to avoid Hell so I will warn them". The second course of action seems the more compassionate to me. So you might make a case to say Folau made those comments because he cares about gays and atheists, along with a whole list of others.

The fact that it seems to me that his ideas are utterly ridiculous makes no difference, because maybe I'm wrong, and unless I have the open-ness to look at alternative views and evaluate them, how would I know? And other people are on even more shaky ground, because those who are Christians but still reject a conclusion which could very easily be said to originate from the fundamental text of that religion, really are presenting their own arbitrary opinion and rejecting another which is no less arbitrary.

And the new religion-based party lead by Hannah Tamaki should be viewed the same way. While exact policies are uncertain, her views are that abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality should be discouraged. Many people, including me, disagree. But why should anyone deliberately ridicule or attempt to shut-down those views just because of a matter of disagreement in opinion? Let's hear their ideas and the voters will decide how much merit they have.

And it's not just individuals illustrating this inability to cope with diversity of opinion because the news media, as always, are showing their usual utterly atrocious bias. I listened to part of Tamaki's initial speech live and then saw what was presented on the MSM. The editing was done deliberately to misrepresent what she said, and to ridicule her ideas. Again, I disagree with her, but the media should be at least giving us a fair picture of what's she's saying instead of making some sort of judgement about how her ideas should be interpreted (or, more accurately: deliberately misinterpreted).

And this dangerous social manipulation extends even further beyond individuals and companies, because the government is not averse to dabbling in this area as well. Our current prime minister is particularly fond of pushing her extreme ideas on to everyone else through censorship and manipulation of the media. There is absolutely no excuse for making the material relating to the mosque shooting illegal to possess, or for trying to shut down free speech on social media. I also disagree with the way she embarked on a pro-Islam propaganda campaign, but I do accept she has the right to do that, because we will judge her as a result.

So I disagree with the "extreme right" represented by Folau and Tamaki, and the "extreme left" represented by the PM. But I want to see both, because seeing the idiotic and dangerous opinions of the PM without seeing the equally idiotic and dangerous opinions of people like Tamaki and Folau just makes the whole process even more idiotic and dangerous!


Comment 1 (5132) by Anonymous on 2019-12-07 at 16:29:38:

viewed this briefly and will have something to say about this later; or rather view my complete blog on free speech.


Comment 2 (5136) by Erich on 2019-12-08 at 23:24:42:

It is not that I disagree with the principle of your argument, but you have weighted your supporting "evidence" unevenly. There is much about Tamaki's and Folau's "follies", but what is the PM's failing other than supposedly being on the extreme left and engaging in Islamic propaganda. Has she really in showing compassion? Maybe it was theatrics but it could also be seen as good raison d'etat. In any case, setting up a contrast requires balanced evidence.


Comment 3 (5137) by OJB on 2019-12-09 at 09:22:18:

Yes, I wasn't necessarily trying to present a balanced view, I was taking one side and showing why I think that argument has merit. This is a blog of my opinions, not a perfectly balanced and objective analysis, I admit that!

As far as the PM's show of "compassion" is concerned, I realise she has got a lot of support for that, but there are many people (most too scared to say so) who think she went overboard in her actions. Many doubt her sincerity (since she often seems more intent on gaining world fame rather than solving problems back here in NZ), and she emphasised some of the worst aspects of Islam (compulsion in wearing head coverings) which seemed to go against any feminist ideals.


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