Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Compared to Jezebel, Richard Dawkins Is A Genius

16 Comments:

Blogger The Mystic said...

This is a fairly thorough little exposition of the hardcore pomofemileftist mindset - something like emotional moral relativism.

Her "generous" characterization of what she seems to believe to be a plausibly rational point immediately takes as its focus the variable profundity of the events' impacts on the respective victims. So subjective and personal is the issue of rape (or any victimization in general), and so critical is that subjectivity to the morality of the issue, that no one can ever say anything objective about moral matters. In fact, as she makes clear with her "has no business railing about" segment, people should be banned from trying.

The whole piece revolves around her insistence upon a correlation of degrees of immorality with degrees of emotional trauma. Even her woeful attempts at counter-arguments rely upon that same implicit assumption. She seems roughly to be trying to argue that because one cannot construct a scale of moral badness that directly corresponds to bad feelings in all victims, morality cannot be an objective matter.

No wonder these people are crazy - if you start off thinking that immorality consists of making others feel bad, you're going to be going nuts 24/7 trying to rectify that with the world. It's pretty predictable, if you ask me, that you'll wind up concluding that reason is a big fascist, sexist social construct because it fails to support the absolutely necessary theory of emotional moral relativism.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Agreed.

It's like the Jezebel author isn't even *trying* to understand Dawkins's point. Or, rather: it's about as clear as it could be that Jezebel is working very, very hard to *ignore* his actual point. You have to work damn hard to misunderstand someone so badly.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

The Mystic wrote:
"The whole piece revolves around her insistence upon a correlation of degrees of immorality with degrees of emotional trauma."

If one reads Dawkins use "bad" and "worse" as statements of the degree of immorality of the act, then yes, Erin Ryan (the "Jezebel Author", also known as "Her") is correlating degrees of immorality with degrees of emotional trauma.

FWIW, I read Dawkins use of "bad" and "worse" as statements about what it would be like to be the victim of a date rape vs. stranger rape at knifepoint. That is I read Dawkins as saying:

"Date rape is bad [to experience]. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse [to experience]."

Under this reading, Ryan's response makes perfect sense.

I am curious, however. Why would one believe that forcing sexual intercourse against the wishes of the romantic partner who trusts is less immoral than forcing sexual intercourse against their wishes upon a stranger ?

Best
Jim

8:35 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Jim,

The point about the relative badness of date rape and stranger rape is questionable--but Dawkins makes it pretty clear that that's not his real point, doesn't he? He even says "reverse it if you want."

His main point is: saying that x is worse than y is not endorsing y.

About that, he is absolutely, unequivocally right.

The other point that is of some importance to him is that there are milder and more severe instances of child abuse. Again, clearly true.

As for which is typically worse, date rape or stranger rape, I have no real opinion. Except...places like Jezebel now want to count so many things as date rape--some of them clearly not bad at all, e.g. two people having drunken sex--that it's pretty hard to deny that, if we really do count those things as rape, then, on average, date rape will be way less bad than other rapes.

Am I missing something?

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

WS,

I do not see where Ryan is claiming that Dawkins is endorsing date rape. Am I missing it, or is it not there?

I also do not see where Ryan claims that the syllogism ("saying that x is worse than y is not endorsing y") is wrong. That is, I don't think Ryan is disputing the syllogism.

Rather, her point is, as I read her piece, that Dawkins choice of example shows that he has no understanding of rape is nor of what it means to experience rape. She tells us that that Dawkins is illogical to state "with laughable certainty that rape can be neatly categorized and quantified in terms of "bad." "

By his example, Ryan tells us, Dawkins shows that he does not understand that "the experience of rape is … subjective and personal to people — women and men — who experience it."

And, yes, Dawkins point was about logic, and not rape. But Ryan's is not attempting to refute Dawkins point. Rather, she is using his choice of example as window into his understanding of rape.

I believe that Ryan might have been better served by saying something like:
"Dawkins logic -- "saying that x is worse than y is not endorsing y" -- is impeccable logic. But, the fact that Dawkins believes that it is reasonable to even *contemplate* rank ordering date rape and stranger rape at knife point in terms of their 'badness' shows that he doesn't have a clue about either. He would be wise to keep his mouth shut on the subject of rape until he gains a clue."

Your thoughts?

Best
Jim

11:25 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Hmmm.... That's not the way I read it, but I read it fast and tired.

Will go back and re-read asap.

Needless to say, you could be right.

6:44 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Well, Jim, the reason I thought he was talking about badness in moral terms is because of his parallel assertion:

"Mild pedophilia is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of mild pedophilia, go away and learn how to think."

It doesn't seem to me to make much sense to think he's talking about the experience of the victim (which would, I suppose, be absent in cases of "mild pedophilia").

I think it's just building context into Dawkins' statements to add those "[to experience]" portions. I don't see any evidence that they should be there.

Of course, this is part of the problem with the Twitterfication of dialogue...

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

Mystic,

It may very well be that Dawkins was originally talking about badness in moral terms. Later, he appears to be refering to the badness of the experience rather than moral badness:

Yes, I can imagine circumstances where rape by a friend is worse than by a stranger. The logic remains. It doesn't imply approval of either..

------
WS and Mystic,

Since I originally read the tweet as refering to the experience, then (of course) I find it reasonable to belive that Ryan might have read it the same way. Let us look for evidence to support or refute this interpretation.

1) She never claims Dawkins is endorsing rape. So, she is not doing what Dawkins is complaining about in his tweet.

2) She never disputes logic of the syllogism. Rather, she disputes the assertions within it.

And, Ryan says things like

"Dawkins, who himself suffered sexual abuse when he was fondled by a school staffer as a child, believes he has the right to quantify and describe the experiences of others who have also suffered sexual abuse. Which most people would consider ridiculous. But not Dawkins!"

Followed by
"I'm so close to winning my Richard Dawkins Railing About Something He Has No Business Railing About Bingo",

Together, her words are clear (at least to me) that her point is not a response to Dawkins point. Rather than disputing Dawkins syllogism, she is mocking him for considering it reasonable for him to claim one type of rape is worse than another type.

------

Mystic,

You characterized this as "a fairly thorough little exposition of the hardcore pomofemileftist mindset - something like emotional moral relativism." If so, it is a "hardcore pomofemileftist mindset" that Dawkins himself ultimately accepts, as shown by his tweeting
"Yes, I can imagine circumstances where rape by a friend is worse than by a stranger."

You also write:
"[I]f you start off thinking that immorality consists of making others feel bad, you're going to be going nuts 24/7 trying to rectify that with the world."

So, I am curious. Other than obedience to a diety (which Dawkins can't claim), what basis is there for assessing the morality of an act beyond the harm it inflicts on, or the benefit it gives to, others?

Best
Jim

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

WS,

it is intersting to go back and read your first comment:
It's like the Jezebel author isn't even *trying* to understand Dawkins's point. Or, rather: it's about as clear as it could be that Jezebel is working very, very hard to *ignore* his actual point. You have to work damn hard to misunderstand someone so badly."

Clearly, you are expecting Ryan to address Dawkins point, and she is not. In fact, if my read is correct, Ryan is finding very easy to ignore his point!

Frankly, I think that his point is not very interesting. If date rape and stranger rape at knife point can be rank-ordered, the syllogism holds. The important question is can they be rank ordered? And, in the end, Dawkins agrees with Ryan on that question.

Best
Jim

8:34 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Hmmm...

Not sure I agree, Jim.

I'm going to start a new post about this instead of trying to deal with it here.

9:18 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Well, Jim, I just don't think Dawkins' tweets indicate that he was talking about the experience of the victim. Even the passage you quote in support of your position doesn't seem to me to support it very much.

But I don't think you're WAY off base here or anything. As the Twitter platform virtually entails, Dawkins' assertions are a bit vague in the relevant respects, but I lean in the direction (especially knowing Dawkins' character) that he was speaking of moral degrees and not degrees of unpleasantness of experience.

As to your question about morality, harm is certainly something to be considered in judging the morality of an action. However, this depends on an objective assessment of harm and not a subjective impression of it. If we base morality on the latter, it seems to me we're stuck with absurd conclusions. For example, stealing someone's favorite toothbrush could be construed as being more immoral than raping someone if the toothbrush-holder were sufficiently traumatized by the incident.

So in short, it's hard to determine how great the focus on harm caused by an act must be when judging the immorality of the act, but I think it's relatively certain that we can't have a moral system in which immorality is determined entirely by the "victim's" subjective impression of the act.

11:59 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Additionally:

For what it's worth, I think Jezebel is misunderstanding Dawkins because her comprehension of morality is completely crazy and she doesn't realize that's even a possibility. I don't think it's out of a particularly intentional effort on her behalf to ignore Dawkins' specific points in this specific instance.

I think it's correct and proper, Jim, to point out that she isn't doing the things Dawkins is defending himself against. I think she is, as you understand her, primarily trying to argue that one cannot order immoral acts in the way Dawkins is proposing.

And for all I know, all of this is just too vaguely and half-assedly written to be taken in any significant fraction of the seriousness with which we are examining it. I imagine that Jezebel would ultimately acquiesce to SOME degree of objectivity in assessing morality, but here, I think she betrays a pattern I see as common among her Internet ilk, and that is to radically relativize morality based on the victim's subjective impression of the world.

It's similar to the way in which the whole transsexuality thing tries to relativize the biological concept of sex based on the person's subjective impression of himself or herself.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

Mystic,

You say, "I think she [Ryan] is, as you understand her, primarily trying to argue that one cannot order immoral acts in the way Dawkins is proposing."

I don't that is Ryan's point. I think her point is that one cannot order the "badness" of date rape vs. stranger rape at knife point. She is (I believe) reacting to the specific comparison Dawkins made between two specific acts he cited. One can make statements about how they can (or cannot) be compared without making or using a generalized statement about "ordering immoral acts".

As to morality and harm. I would say that subjective harm *is* harm. The problem is how to handle an action that causes harm, but the degree of harm is either quite variable between victims, or the degree of harm is impossible to objectively assess.

Then, if one feels a need to order immorality (as, for example, in a system of laws and courts), one has to find a workable solution. That workable solution might impose punishments that scale with some "expected" or "externally perceived" level of harm. Or something else.

Finally, let me repeat my question.
Other than obedience to a diety (which Dawkins can't claim), what basis is there for assessing the morality of an act beyond the harm it inflicts on, or the benefit it gives to, others?

So far, you've said that "harm is certainly something to be considered in judging the morality of an action" but you haven't given any other basis. If there isn't, then the harm/benefit to others is all we have (excluding theological bases).

Best
Jim

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

Mystic, WS,

So far, I'm the only one to refer to the author of the piece at Jezebl by her name (Erin Gloria Ryan).

Care to join me?

Best
Jim

4:24 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"So far, I'm the only one to refer to the author of the piece at Jezebl by her name (Erin Gloria Ryan).

Care to join me?"

Jeez, that's an odd thing to say, Jim...what am I missing?

(actually, as I said, I'm writing a new post on this, in which I do refer to the author as 'Ryan'...but...why should that matter?)

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

WS,

Well, FWIW, I found it odd that I was the only one refering to Ryan by name, but we all were refering to Dawkins by name.

Certainly, common courtesy would have one refer to both parties by their name, or neither.

Furthermore, I belive that using the author's name (Ryan) instead of labels associated with her publication ("Jezebel", "the Jezebel author") makes it easier to avoid attributing to Ms Ryan words that she did not write, or publishing decisions she did not make.

This is important when the comment thread includes statements like:

"[I]t could be that Jezebel is working very, very hard to *ignore* his actual point." (where "Jezebel" refers to Ryan)

and
"Except...places like Jezebel now want to count so many things as date rape" (Where "Jezebel is *not* referring to Ryan)

I don't think it is reasonable to assess Ms Ryan's words in the context of material written by others in the same publication. Calling Ms Ryan by her name helps avoid such a conflation.

Best
Jim

8:51 PM  

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