Moral Consistency

Everyone considers themselves ethical. Even if their declared ethic is to do whatever feels right in a situation or to use the concept of ‘deep down’ to excuse things, which aren’t actually ethics at all.

The confusion over Islam in western liberal circles stems from not trying to be morally consistent but to instead always be nice.

The problem is that nice isn’t inherently good. Being nice when a women in North America wants to wear a hijab is easy but it clearly isn’t for the greater good.

And this where people start to double think.

A women should be able to wear a bikini without being treated like a sexual object. We all agree because a woman shouldn’t be treated as a sexual object

The problem is that wearing religious garb is treating her like a sexual object. It’s saying that her body is inherently and only sexual and must be hidden. It’s puts the responsibility for men’s actions on women. It doesn’t get more rape culture than that.

So there’s a big conversation to be had if you want to be morally consistent about a woman’s right to be treated as a whole person while wearing very little and how to treat her as a whole person while she’s being culturally pressured to cover up.

If you’re the sort who just can’t bare a white guy – and an atheist to boot – speaking up about women, race, or religion I’ll link to Sarah Haider talking to Sam Harris going into detail and interesting ethical debate on the topic of Islamic dress. Sarah is a women, she’s brown, and she lived as a Muslim for the first 16 or so years of her life so if you’re regressive leftists she has a pass on saying all the things I just said.

A conversation so difficult that people burying their head in the sand with moral relativism about race and religion because it allows them to act with faux certainty.

I’ll Christian bash for a minute too in the name of equality although this point will be true of any sacred text or instructions. It says in the bible that the punishment for homosexuality is death. And I’ll just cut to the chase and link to Megan Phelps who talks about leaving the Westboro Baptist Church with Sam. Her family, like any truly religious people, believed that faith isn’t easy and they trusted god meant what he said and they struggle to reconcile all the instructions while never having the hubris to question god.

Megan grew up and realized there was no way to be moral consistent basing one’s life on this book and she gave it up. It cost her most of her family and life long friends. But she did it because it was the right thing to do whereas most other people cherry pick other, more vague, gibberish from the book in the spirit of being nice and never take their faith seriously enough to worry about reconciling it all.

I can respect someone who truly thinks about what is right and does something about it. On the one hand I’ve already vilified the nice folks who pretend right and wrong is too big a question and slouch around in excuses and relativism, so I’ll take something from far left field and by talking about people who hate vegetarians.

I hate people who hate vegetarians.

I imagine the moral equation looks like this to someone who bitches about vegetarians: we all know factory farming is a daily animal holocaust and we all see the hypocrisy in loving our pets and other cute animals while devouring others arbitrarily. Plus there’s a huge commercial industry pushing meat on us the same way it pushes pretty much everything – you’re more of man the more you love eating meat, and if you truly love your kids mom you give them tons of meat. And as is my usual aside I’ll again point out how much it disgusts me that we use the most powerful persuasive techniques discovered so far to dupe people into spending money.

Anyway back on point I know giving up meat is difficult, even investigating if the meat you’re getting every meal of every day is a bigger opportunity cost than most people will accept, myself included.

What perks up my social scientist spidey sense is when people who rant and rave about annoying vegetarians are talk about the one’s they know personally. They talk about how they’re not the ‘bad kind’, they’re not ‘preachy’.

For all the cartoonish imaginary debate I have to hear on the topic it’s odd that I seem to never hear discussion in the real world. Except the douche who says “For every piece of meat you don’t eat I’m going to eat three”everyone is delightfully respectful about it.

And I don’t think it’s people being hypocrites entirely, or even suppressing their ‘true’ feelings. I suspect that people are aware of the ethical questions they’re not dealing with and feel judged by those who are striving to deal with them. Our internal society mirror that thinks everyone is thinking about us can’t do cognitive dissonance so we have to someone on that mirror who’s opinion we don’t care about.

And that’s what you’ll see with everything once you know it’s there. People afraid to discuss Islam draw the character of the oblivious bigot, people who hate gays draw the sexual predator, people who resent intellectuals draw the pretentious beatnik.

But if you talk to people, see them as an entire person rather than just what shows through from the character you’ve drawn on them and then realize that the world is full of individuals not demographics, and that people are only judging you for being wrong when it looks like you’re choosing to stay wrong, you’ll find there are no simple answers and that’s fascinating.


Singer/songwriter, jerk.

Posted in Pragmatism
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