Words that get misused: DISCRIMINATION

Same-sex ‘marriage’ proponents usage

If you don’t let us get married then you’re DISCRIMINATING against us. This is basically the same as racism, and you’re treating us like second-class citizens, inferior human beings. This is one of The Worst Crimes.

To discriminate: make an unjust or prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, sex, or age.

Marriage proponents usage

Yes, we are discriminating in this instance, what of it? Let’s revisit the definition:

To discriminate: to recognize a distinction; differentiate.

It is not in itself a negative thing, it simply means to treat different things differently. This is something we do all the time. I don’t prepare for a swim the same way that I prepare for a run, because they’re different things.

Somehow, the negative meaning of discrimination has become conflated with the neutral one. Somehow, even any reasonable distinctions can be classed as “unjust or prejudicial distinctions in the treatment of different categories of people”.

Now, it is certainly possible that there is no significant difference between heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and that treating them differently is therefore an example of an unjust distinction. However, those who shout “Discrimination!” are not just positing the possibility.

The mere fact that people are suggesting that there might be a difference between relationships between two people of the same sex and between a man and a woman is enough to warrant this cry of prejudice. 

Instead of seeing rational debate around whether this is a case of a just or an unjust distinction, we are seeing people outrage at the mere fact that a distinction is even being made. This is not a good place to be.

Words that get misused: EQUALITY

I have been brought out of a long hiatus by the desire to have some way of railing against the overwhelming feeling of helplessness in the face of the widespread embrace of pro-SSM arguments, as well as to clarify my own thoughts.

To start off with, I’m going to rant for a bit about the fact that the different camps use the same words, though in different ways, and this has contributed to some confusion.

First word up for discussion: equality.

Same-sex ‘marriage’ proponents usage

The general gist of many people’s arguments runs thusly:

1. Everyone who is equal with respect to a particular characteristic should be treated as such (both by individuals and by law).
2. Everyone’s love is equal.
3. Therefore everyone should be treated equally with respect to who they love.

This often gets to reduced to simply stating that “everyone is equal”, or “everyone has equal rights”.

I don’t think that they mean to say that every human being is equal in every single way, but because they leave exactly in what way they are equal vague, the matter is open to interpretation, and it often ends up meaning that we’re all equal in every way, which is another way of saying that we’re all exactly the same.

Anyone who thinks about that last statement for half a second realises that this is obviously false. However, because it’s left unspecified, people fill in the blank with whatever their vague notion of equality is.

Thus, instead of the sophisticated debate this issue deserves, we are left with people asserting merely “But Equality! It’s good!” And well-meaning folk feeling there is no other option but to agree. “Well yes, I actually can’t see anything wrong with that statement… I guess I’m joining their team.”

Marriage proponents usage*

These would agree that equality under the law is important, and should be respected. The problem arises when we consider in what way are human beings actually equal?

I would suggest that the only sensible claim to make is that we are equal in dignity, as human persons, in light of our possessing an intellect and will, giving rise to our capacity to reason, discern the good, and to make choices based upon this discernment.

It is in the interests of the preservation of the inherent dignity of every human being that the notion of fundamental human rights comes into play. I’ll go into these in more depth later, but essentially, we have the right only to those things which uphold our dignity as human persons. For example, we have the right to having our basic needs for survival being met, but we do not universally have the right to a sumptuous feast for every meal.

 

*NB: I refrain from using “traditional marriage” because it caters to the idea that there are two equally valid ways of understanding marriage, whereas I think that same-sex ‘marriage’ is an impossibility, hence the inverted commas, and the so-called “traditional” kind is the only kind of marriage.

Technology distances us from reality, and therefore from ourselves

I began some time ago to write up a tentative theology of books, bookish theonerd that I am. I hit a rut, however, because things weren’t satisfactorily coming together for me. The post was sparked by a debate I had with someone over whether real books were superior to e-books, but I realised that my dislike of e-books had less to do with e-books themselves, than with the broader question of the place of technology in the lives of human beings, and my intensely realist philosophical outlook. Hence, it is these thoughts that I will present to you today, before I narrow in on books specifically.

Continue reading

Wish List Wisdom

Foolish Wisdom‘s most recent article is a thought-provoking post on wish lists:

When I saw this detailed array of lists I was rather amused and one of the first things I said was, ‘Why don’t you just go out and buy these things instead of waiting for someone to give them to you’? It dawned on me soon after that my comment said more about my general outlook than Jane’s lists. I realised that the reason I don’t really have a wish list is because if I had wanted a book or a DVD or a paper trimmer I would just go and buy it at that moment – and I mean at that moment – Jane will tell you how I can have an item searched for and purchased via the ebay app before she’s even finished talking about how much she likes it.

The reason Jane tells me she keeps a wish list is because it helps her separate what she actually needs from what she actually wants. I think I have realised then that a properly kept wish list is actually a subliminal sign of patience, it is a list that demonstrates a person’s ability to exist without the ever growing amount of ‘stuff’ that we all seem to compile. 

Definitely going to try to live this!

+AMDG

The real life of a home

The following gem is from Mercatornet. You should really read the whole thing.

Deep in the human heart is the desire to be together with people that we love. Human happiness is always a shared happiness: shared especially with a small number of people. For most of us a fulfilled life will only be found in walking its hills and valleys in communion with family, and a few friends.

We don’t need the latest study to show us that we are losing the ability to live in communion, even with those closest to us. And not only does this problem start in our homes, it grows there. Home—the very word should resonate with feelings of warmth, belonging, togetherness. It should be the most reliable place of real personal intimacy, the surest antidote to the great bane of human existence: loneliness. But more and more, it is not.

Family home done right

Perhaps the central reason that we are not really living-together in our homes is that we are hardly living there at all. For starters, most of us spend very few hours of the day within, or near, our homes. But even more to the point, how do we spend those hours that we are at home?

If Aristotle is correct that the truest human intimacy takes place in good conversation, then here we have a prism through which to consider our customs of home life, beginning with meal times. Though cows usually feed in the vicinity of other cows, they are not particular about eating together. Household meals, on the other hand, can be configured to be regular occasions for communion between family members. But given the various pressures on home life today, such a configuration will need to be a conscious object of intention. Otherwise our meal practices might tend toward the bovine.

Outside of meal times there are two other main household contexts that can be suited to rational and personal communion: work and leisure. But both of these have been largely removed to venues outside the home, while what is left behind has taken forms less conducive to communion.

Households were once the primary locus of human work. Much of what was needed for human life was produced, as well as consumed, therein. Even after the industrial revolution removed much production from the home, traditional “home arts” retained a significant place in household life for a number of generations. Yet the last couple of generations have seen a notable drop of even these activities. The art of cooking seems more associated with dining out, or edgy parties with peers, than with keeping a family well fed, around a table spread and seasoned with love. The arts of growing and preserving foods, while certainly not dead, are far from commonplace. The same can be said of home carpentry, sewing, knitting and the like.

Apart from other negative consequences of the demise of these arts, our home life suffers the loss of a natural context of human presence, of being-together in a meaningful way. Indeed, not only does such work provide the satisfaction of communal achievement and shared competency, it also often allows for regular, sustained conversation. Who would not start to speak with a fellow potato-peeler, or sander of wood? The repetitive yet varied and fruitful work of such arts is one of the great hidden treasures of a way of life that for many of us can only be had by re-discovering what has been lost.

If one were to judge by the sales of flat-screen TVs and the like, it might seem that the life of leisure is alive and well in the home. But Aristotle distinguishes leisure and amusement. In a rather remarkable line, he reflects: “It would, indeed, be strange if the end (goal) were amusement, and one were to take trouble and suffer hardship all one’s life in order to amuse oneself.” Amusement—of which what we call entertainment is surely a kind—has a place in the home. It serves work by providing a break, a necessary relaxation. But such is no replacement for leisure, which is a time of richer activities.

Leisure time in Aristotle’s sense, while indeed relaxing, is much more than relaxation. Its activities are rich in meaning, and consequently have an unmatched power to unite the people that engage in them. A group reflection upon blessings received; the reading or performance of a drama; stories of family history or great heroes; music appreciation; common prayer. Here a family community is especially alive, present to one another in a unique way.

Salt gives seasoning to food. But good conversation, especially that occasioned by the rich and regular activities of the home, does more than give seasoning to life. It is the beating heart of a real communion of persons, of a happy life-together with those we love.

+AMDG

Excessively Diverting Fridays: Monty Python Edition

Heeellllooooooo!! (in the voice)

Uni is over for the year at last, so I am back in business! It’s a bit belated, but I don’t want to miss an EDF, so here’s something you might not have heard about (or maybe you have):

MONTY PYTHON TO HAVE A REUNION IN LONDON!! (read and watch)

There are rumoured possibilities of a show in the Sydney Opera House though… imagine seeing the dead parrot sketch LIVE!!

If you’ve been living under a rock, Monty Python are basically a comedic group who did most of their work in the 70s. Their style takes a bit of getting used to, they’re generally rather crazy, and some sketches aren’t particularly impressive, but others are just pure gold.

Some of my favourites:

THE FOUR YORKSHIREMEN:

DEAD PARROT:

ARGUMENT CLINIC:

THE CHEESESHOP:

THE MINISTRY OF SILLY WALKS:

What are your favourite Monty Python sketches?

+AMDG

 

Excessively Diverting Fridays: Amadeus Edition

It’s that time of week again, and this time it’s a movie!! And if I had to pick a favourite, as difficult as that is, it would probably be this one. If I were basing it purely on number of times viewed, this would win… it must be up to at least 25 by now.

The film Amadeus is based on a play about the life of Wofgang Amadeus Mozart, which delves into the conspiracy theory that his contemporary composer, Antonio Salieri, orchestrated (pun intended, ha!) his death. There is a degree of creative licence taken with the facts, but it matters not.

This movie is awesome because:

  • the acting is superb
  • the music (nearly all Mozart’s) is stunning
  • the music is ingeniously utilised to convey Mozart’s genius
  • it ranges between intense and lighthearted moments

Everything you want in an excellent movie, no?

Notice how much Salieri struggles to compose this short piece (a welcome march in Mozart’s honour, when he comes to meet the Emperor), and what Mozart does with it:

And then this on top of it:

The Emperor’s catch-phrase

+AMDG