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On Tolerance

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Postby Eureka » Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:08 am

Paul wrote:
Eureka wrote:But anyway, your attitude that it's okay to push your views onto others if it's via the

law is basically just another form of might is right.


What?? If someone urges you to, say, join their Poseidon cult and reap the eternal benefits thereof, why can't you simply say "No thank you. Please don't bother me again"?

How is "might makes right" in any way entailed by such an exchange?

3G was basically saying it would be alright for the Poseidon cult to force other people observe their cultist rules by writing those rules into the law.

If they were just trying to convince people of the validity of their cult and its rules, that would be different matter.
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Postby edonnelly » Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:34 am

Eureka wrote:3G was basically saying it would be alright for the Poseidon cult to force other people observe their cultist rules by writing those rules into the law.


But isn't this true of all laws (at least criminal laws)? One group (those writing and enforcing the laws) are forcing everyone else to obey them. Do we not just define a "cult" as those people whose views are the most different from our own?
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Postby Eureka » Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:46 am

edonnelly wrote:
Eureka wrote:3G was basically saying it would be alright for the Poseidon cult to force other people observe their cultist rules by writing those rules into the law.


But isn't this true of all laws (at least criminal laws)? One group (those writing and enforcing the laws) are forcing everyone else to obey them. Do we not just define a "cult" as those people whose views are the most different from our own?

(I wasn't calling Christianity a cult, I was just following the wording of Paul's analogy.)

And yes, that is the case with all laws. I think it was Socrates who asked,

"Does morality require reference to an authority?"

In other words, do those with the power to write laws have the right to dictate what is and isn't moral to the rest of the population?
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:47 am

Eureka wrote:
3G was basically saying it would be alright for the Poseidon cult to force other people observe their cultist rules by writing those rules into the law.

If they were just trying to convince people of the validity of their cult and its rules, that would be different matter.


To use your analogy, if vegetarians try to make eating meat against the law, they are going to have do a helluva a lot of convincing other people to conform to their beliefs. Okay, they could stage a millitary coup, but that would be outside the limits of tolerance. Under the law of the United States as most people interpret it, those vegetarians will have to sway a majority of elected officials, judges, and voters. Since banning meat for consumption would probably require a constitutional amendment, that majority would have to be big and residing in almost every region of the nation. I suppose if such an amendment and ensuing laws were passed, there would remain an unwilling minority who would be forced to not eat meat (or to do so illegally), but they would have had the oppurtunirty to speak out and protest the unfairness of the amendment. For that matter, that Poseidon cult would have to get a constituional amendment passed too, which would be the same enormous effort.

Technically I suppose this is using laws to force somebody's beliefs. There are currently some laws (such as anti-prostitution laws) which are mostly founded on morality and tradition, so there is precedent for doing this when it is overwhelmingly approved. If there were an effort to push either of these two amendments, I would oppose them by my ballot, and perhaps other means. However, I think even if I did this, I could still count as "tolerating" them. I could still say "Good morning" to my Poseidon worshipping neighbor, and loan her sugar if she needs it after the grocery store is closed.

Perhaps your definition of "tolerance" is broader than mine.
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Postby Eureka » Thu Sep 01, 2005 7:03 am

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:To use your analogy, if vegetarians try to make eating meat against the law, they are going to have do a helluva a lot of convincing other people to conform to their beliefs. Okay, they could stage a millitary coup, but that would be outside the limits of tolerance. Under the law of the United States as most people interpret it, those vegetarians will have to sway a majority of elected officials, judges, and voters. Since banning meat for consumption would probably require a constitutional amendment, that majority would have to be big and residing in almost every region of the nation. I suppose if such an amendment and ensuing laws were passed, there would remain an unwilling minority who would be forced to not eat meat (or to do so illegally), but they would have had the oppurtunirty to speak out and protest the unfairness of the amendment. For that matter, that Poseidon cult would have to get a constituional amendment passed too, which would be the same enormous effort.

But what you're essentially saying is that they could have the ability to change the laws under certain circumstances. This I do not disagree with, but to have the ability is not the same as to have the right.
GlottalGreekGeek wrote: Technically I suppose this is using laws to force somebody's beliefs. There are currently some laws (such as anti-prostitution laws) which are mostly founded on morality and tradition,

Anti-prostitution laws exist for pragmatic reasons in almost all cases (as do laws that facilitate prostitution). It's hard to come up with another example of a law that seeks to override one side's moral compass in favour of another's over such an ambiguous moral question. The only other examples I can think of are blasphemy and heresy laws.
GlottalGreekGeek wrote: However, I think even if I did this, I could still count as "tolerating" them. I could still say "Good morning" to my Poseidon worshipping neighbor, and loan her sugar if she needs it after the grocery store is closed.

You're not properly distinguishing between the characteristics of a group and the characteristics of each individual within that group.

If a movement to ban the building of walls taller than two metres were initiated by members of the Poseidon cult, even if it was supported by a majority of members of that cult, it would still not be fair to blame your neighbour, who may have nothing to do with it. That's why I always distinguish between fundamentalist Christianity, evangelical Christianity, etc. and the religious right. They are not the same thing, even if they share many members.

Besides, even if she did support it, I think it was Socrates (again) who said,

"No one is evil, some are merely misguided."

I genuinely think that Socrates was wrong, there are some evil people around (depending on your definition of "evil"), but, for the most part, his statement is correct.
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Postby Bert » Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:46 am

Eureka wrote:Disagreeing is one thing, but without agreeing to disagree it is an act of provocation. That's why I'm surprised by Bert's complaint that the progressives hate the religious right.

I said that?
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Postby Eureka » Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:51 am

Bert wrote:
Eureka wrote:Disagreeing is one thing, but without agreeing to disagree it is an act of provocation. That's why I'm surprised by Bert's complaint that the progressives hate the religious right.

I said that?

Unless I misread you, yes:
Bert wrote:(1) There certainly are leftist people who think that the 'religeous right' is evil personified.
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Postby PeterD » Thu Sep 01, 2005 6:53 pm

Hi, Paul.
Paul wrote:Peter I know you to be a generous and compassionate guy. You are quick to recognize and identify with the plight of "the victim". But do I detect in this compassion for the victim a tendency to identify and vilify the seeming "cause" of the victim's suffering? You are quick to move from the plight of the victim to the responsible villain. Your array of villains seems to include capitalists, Republicans, the rich, conservatives, etc. I worry that the plight of the victim is a pretext that provides you access to a darker, more subterranean, revolutionary drive, namely revenge against "those responsible". Please say it ain't so.

It ain't so, Paul. My "villains" are crooks, liars, and hypocrites, no matter what their political or religious affiliation may be. The only difference between George W, the "conservative," and Bill Clinton, the "liberal," is that the latter can read & write; other than that, both are crooks...

Paul wrote:
PeterD wrote:I read it. Where does he say that America got what it deserved? And why do you call his remarks hateful? Please explain.


I cannot. If you cannot smell the mephitic air of hatred on this man, then nothing I say will make any difference.

Nice going, Paul, using a Latin word on me. You know my distaste for anything latin. :wink: As for WC, he simply tried to explain the 9/11 tragedy. He did not in any way justify it. Which American war crimes and atrocities that WC listed do you not acknowledge?


Paul wrote:
PeterD wrote:And speaking of tolerance, how can you compare the brutal reaction Churchill got by the mainstream media (especially Faux News) to something like, "A female MIT scientist walks out during Summer's speech."


Fox News is not mainstream. It may lead among cable news networks, but the big 3 (ABC, NBC, CBS) continue to dominate the nightly news.

Hence there was no "brutal treatment" by the mainstream media. As I said, most of the media (TV and print) and many academics asserted Churchill's right to free speech. :P

I hate to be the one to tell you, Paul, (truly, I thought you knew!) but there are no differences between most, if not all, of the media -- print, radio, or tv -- in America: Faux News just happens to provide better entertainment coverage, that is all. All major news networks and most cable news outlets are under the direct control of a few corporations. There is barely a free and independent voice in your country today. It's why a talentless, ignorant, coke-snorting fool like GWB got elected/reelected and why your country is bogged down in a hopeless situation in Iraq.

And speaking of horrible disasters, where are the National Guardsmen of Louisiana and Mississippi??? You don't suppose they are too busy elsewhere?

Take care.

~Peter

p.s. Unfortunately, my time is limited and I can't comment on Summers right now -- another time.
Fanatical ranting is not just fine because it's eloquent. What if I ranted for the extermination of a people in an eloquent manner, would that make it fine? Rather, ranting, be it fanatical or otherwise, is fine if what is said is true and just. ---PeterD, in reply to IreneY and Annis
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Postby Bert » Thu Sep 01, 2005 11:22 pm

Eureka wrote:
Bert wrote:
Eureka wrote:Disagreeing is one thing, but without agreeing to disagree it is an act of provocation. That's why I'm surprised by Bert's complaint that the progressives hate the religious right.

I said that?

Unless I misread you, yes:
Bert wrote:(1) There certainly are leftist people who think that the 'religeous right' is evil personified.

Ah. That! Yes, you misread me.
What I meant was; There are leftist people who hate the religious right.
Not: The left in general, as a group, hates the religious right.
I don't think that I have to defend the first statement. You have probably run across instances of this.
The second statement I would not want to defend.
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Fri Sep 02, 2005 1:51 am

Hmmm, very well. I could still tolerate the group of Poseidon cultists (accepting their right to exist), but not tolerate the specific action of trying to impose a law about walls being two metres tall.

My point on the whole constitutional thingy was that they would have to convince almost everybody (though not everybody) in the United States, which was to tie into your thing about it being okay for the Poseidon cultists to convince people to join them

I suppose this sub-debate originated from a misinterpretation of your original questions

Does tolerance of vegetarians require tolerance of people who try to have the eating of meat banned by law? Would hatred of such people be an act of intolerance? So, would tolerance of a religion require tolerance of those who try to force that religion's laws on you and yours?


In the first question I thought that you were saying that vegetarians as a group should not be tolerated because a portion of them would like to see a law banning the consumption of meat (and the wording implied that all vegetarians want to see the eating of meat banned). Looking at it again, I see that your point might have been that the action of banning meat consumption should not be tolerated, not the people who support it. I would like you to confirm if this new interpretation is correct.

As for the second question, well, I think "hatred" is an extreme word to use. If your use of "hatred" means a strong dislike or disgust, then I do not think it is intolerance. But if "hatred" is on the level that the KKK hates African Americans (which I doubt was the way you used the word hatred), then I think "hating" vegetarians who try to change the law is intolerance.

In the third question, I misinterpreted the word "force" as some verb of lesser strength, partially because of the drift of the first two questions. Now that I realize the strength of the word you used, I agree that the religion trying to force the laws of the religion on you is not practicing tolerance, and are voiding any requirement to tolerate them.
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Fri Sep 02, 2005 4:30 am

Tolerance is a progressive concept because conservatives have proved with acts throughout history that they are violent towards those who are different.

The world is full of idiots, evenly spaced. If all the idiots were conservative, we would have it too easy. When smart conservatives demonize tolerance, as if being tolerant would mean that one would have to tolerate being f###ed up the #ss, they are working their crowd of idiots. Shameful.
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Fri Sep 02, 2005 4:40 am

"... where are the National Guardsmen of Louisiana and Mississippi???" ~PeterD

No punches under the belt, please.
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Postby Democritus » Fri Sep 02, 2005 5:39 am

Rather than focusing on the difficult disagreements, it makes sense to focus on areas of ethics where most people are in agreement.

Every religion condemns the following, in most circumstances:

    stealing
    murder of innocents
    neglect of the weak, young and elderly
    cannibalism
    torture
    needless pain inflicted on animals
    incarceration of innocent people
    disrespect for the bodies of deceased people
    disrespect for the possessions and dwellings of others


I'm sure you folks can complete and tailor this list. The point is, there are many actions which are not tolerable, and which everyone can agree are not tolerable. So, there are limits to tolerance. It doesn't extend forever.

Many differences between religions and cultures are stark but less consequential. (Is it ethical to eat a cow? Or a pig? How about a dog? Or a dolphin?) Others seem to be more consequential, but still are normally not of life-or-death importance (Can a woman expose her face in public? How about her thighs? How about her chest?)

There are some ethical disagreements between religions and cultures which are quite difficult to resolve, and it should be no surprise that people are involved in heated debates and sometimes in battle over these tricky issues (e.g., abortion, marriage customs). I think that the definition of "tolerance" in these particular cases can be quite difficult.

One some issues we face a genuine dilemma -- do we assert our moral principles and impose them on others, or do we concede that the other side might possibly be right, even though we don't agree with them? On certain questions (not all questions, but on certain questions) the answer is not clear.

My way to resolve this is to concede that, as humans, we do not have perfect and complete knowledge of right and wrong. We should not be so surprised to find that ethical principles partly different from our own are articulated not only by criminals and devils-on-earth, but also by intelligent, well meaning, even quite religious people. Of course we have trouble seeing the truth all the time. We are human beings. Who thinks that we are perfect?

This acknowledgement does not remove our responsibility to live up our principles. But we must not fool ourselves into believing that our principles are perfect and flawless. Sometimes we will be the ones in error. To explain it using other words: The dilemma is not imaginary, the dilemma is real. Sometimes we will not know for sure just how far the limits of tolerance should extend. We just have to pray, use our god-given brains and hearts, and make the best judgements we can.
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Fri Sep 02, 2005 5:51 am

In response to Democritus

*applause*
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Postby edonnelly » Fri Sep 02, 2005 1:11 pm

Democritus wrote:Every religion condemns the following, in most circumstances:

    stealing
    murder of innocents
    neglect of the weak, young and elderly
    cannibalism
    torture
    needless pain inflicted on animals
    incarceration of innocent people
    disrespect for the bodies of deceased people
    disrespect for the possessions and dwellings of others

The problem with such a list is the way in which the items are qualified with words that different cultures will define differently:

Sure "stealing" (taking what is not yours) is wrong, but taking what you believe to be yours, but which you do not posses, is not. Thus, the Palestinians don't see the taking back of land from Israel as "stealing" while the Israelis do.

Murder of "innocents" is wrong, but who defines "guilt" and "innocence?" I'm told that if a taxi in Saudi Arabi is in a car accident, it is the passenger who considered legally at fault (because the taxi would not have been there had it not been for the passenger). Not all people define guilt and innocence the same. Or look at Iraq, who there is "guilty" and who is "innocent?" Don't you think you will get different answers depending upon who you ask.

The same is true for most of the other things. When you say "needless" or "disrespect" it all depends upon how you define the terms. Is it needless to brutally sacrifice an animal to a pagan god?

In additiion, if you look throughout history, and not just modern times, many of these things were quite acceptable. A Roman general dragging the body of a defeated enemy was cheered by huge crowds. And Stephen Douglas, Democratic candidate for US President, was cheered by huge crowds when he made many of your same arguments, stating that the country should be tolerant (not his word) and let each state define the civil rights of African Americans.

So, I think it is easy to talk in generalities, but when it comes to specific points there often is clearly only one right answer, even if there are very persuasive and eloquent arguments to the contrary and even if it is not necessarily a belief held by a majority of the people at that (or this) time.
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Postby Emma_85 » Fri Sep 02, 2005 8:53 pm

:( :?
I am just totally out of my depths here... I just thought it would be fun to debate :lol: , but I obviously don't know anywhere near enough about the US to really participate much in this debate. I'm just getting things mixed up and wrong. Sorry if I've caused any ill feelings...
I'm out of this debate now and leaving it to the Americans and those who know a lot about American politics as this is what this debate seems to be about most I feel.
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Postby edonnelly » Fri Sep 02, 2005 9:35 pm

Emma_85 wrote:I am just totally out of my depths here... I just thought it would be fun to debate :lol: , but I obviously don't know anywhere near enough about the US to really participate much in this debate. I'm just getting things mixed up and wrong. Sorry if I've caused any ill feelings...
I'm out of this debate now and leaving it to the Americans and those who know a lot about American politics as this is what this debate seems to be about most I feel.

Emma, surely you should feel welcome here in your own forum of all places! Indeed, the original poster invited "come one, come all."

How ironic is it that you feel your opinions are not tolerated in this discussion?

As for American politics, alas, there really is no debate anymore. People on both sides tend to make up their minds, then go hunt out any "factoids" that support their conclusions, ignoring mountains of evidence to the contrary along the way. The goal seems to be to get your own side's "talking points" into the evening news' soundbites. Persuasive speech is absent, and most people you hear on talk shows sound more like they are trying to convince themselves than they are anyone in the audience.

So please, come back and offer us some fresh opinions! No hard feelings, I promise.
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Postby Democritus » Sat Sep 03, 2005 4:39 am

Emma_85 wrote:I just thought it would be fun to debate :lol: , but I obviously don't know anywhere near enough about the US to really participate much in this debate. I'm just getting things mixed up and wrong.


I'm sure you know quite a bit about U.S. politics, but don't worry -- I'm in the thick of it here, and I am also completely baffled as to how to participate. Too many people have drunk the Kool-Aid. I have no idea how to help them.
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Postby Bert » Sat Sep 03, 2005 7:00 am

Democritus wrote: Too many people have drunk the Kool-Aid. I have no idea how to help them.

Those would be people who cannot think for themselves and prove this by disagreeing with you?
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Postby Eureka » Sat Sep 03, 2005 9:32 am

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:In the first question I thought that you were saying that vegetarians as a group should not be tolerated because a portion of them would like to see a law banning the consumption of meat (and the wording implied that all vegetarians want to see the eating of meat banned). Looking at it again, I see that your point might have been that the action of banning meat consumption should not be tolerated, not the people who support it. I would like you to confirm if this new interpretation is correct.

Kind of, I'm saying that not all vegetarians should be blamed, even if a majority of vegetarians supported it.

I think your words, "the action of banning meat consumption should not be tolerated, not the people who support it" sounds a lot like, "hate the sin, not the sinner" which is effectively just saying, "let's pretend we don't hate the 'sinner'. "
GlottalGreekGeek wrote:As for the second question, well, I think "hatred" is an extreme word to use. If your use of "hatred" means a strong dislike or disgust, then I do not think it is intolerance. But if "hatred" is on the level that the KKK hates African Americans (which I doubt was the way you used the word hatred), then I think "hating" vegetarians who try to change the law is intolerance.

Let's not get wound up in semantics.
GlottalGreekGeek wrote:I misinterpreted the word "force" as some verb of lesser strength, partially because of the drift of the first two questions. Now that I realize the strength of the word you used, I agree that the religion trying to force the laws of the religion on you is not practicing tolerance, and are voiding any requirement to tolerate them.

Once again, it's only a word. Whether it is "hate", or merely "dislike" will largely be up to the observer's political bias. The same goes for the verb "force", I'm sure a supporter of the movement would chose to use a friendlier verb.
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Postby Eureka » Sat Sep 03, 2005 9:37 am

Bert wrote:
Eureka wrote:
Bert wrote:
Eureka wrote:Disagreeing is one thing, but without agreeing to disagree it is an act of provocation. That's why I'm surprised by Bert's complaint that the progressives hate the religious right.

I said that?

Unless I misread you, yes:
Bert wrote:(1) There certainly are leftist people who think that the 'religeous right' is evil personified.

Ah. That! Yes, you misread me.
What I meant was; There are leftist people who hate the religious right.
Not: The left in general, as a group, hates the religious right.
I don't think that I have to defend the first statement. You have probably run across instances of this.
The second statement I would not want to defend.

I realised that you didn't mean it as an all-encompassing statement. I was just saying that it is to be expected.
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Postby Democritus » Sat Sep 03, 2005 5:49 pm

Bert wrote:Those would be people who cannot think for themselves and prove this by disagreeing with you?


I did not deserve that comment. I have no clue why you would say it.
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Postby classicalclarinet » Sat Sep 03, 2005 8:47 pm

Eureka wrote:I think your words, "the action of banning meat consumption should not be tolerated, not the people who support it" sounds a lot like, "hate the sin, not the sinner" which is effectively just saying, "let's pretend we don't hate the 'sinner'. "

Really? I have no hatred of extreme Israelis and Palestinians, although I have a strong dislike to the intolerant, violent, extremism they practice. But then that's speaking collectively.

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:As for the second question, well, I think "hatred" is an extreme word to use. If your use of "hatred" means a strong dislike or disgust, then I do not think it is intolerance. But if "hatred" is on the level that the KKK hates African Americans (which I doubt was the way you used the word hatred), then I think "hating" vegetarians who try to change the law is intolerance.

I personally think strong disgust or dislike does sometimes count as intolerance, when the view stems from self-superiority.
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Postby Bert » Sat Sep 03, 2005 9:06 pm

Democritus wrote:
Bert wrote:Those would be people who cannot think for themselves and prove this by disagreeing with you?


I did not deserve that comment. I have no clue why you would say it.


Democritus, clearly I misunderstood you then. My apologies.
I thought you meant people who participated in this thread but whom you cannot help because they "have drunk the Kool-Aid."
I'm sorry.
Can you explain what you did mean?
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Postby Democritus » Sat Sep 03, 2005 9:35 pm

Bert wrote:Democritus, clearly I misunderstood you then. My apologies.
I thought you meant people who participated in this thread but whom you cannot help because they "have drunk the Kool-Aid."
I'm sorry.


No problem -- I did not have in mind the people on this board. I was thinking of other people and situations, elsewhere. There are such people, but it's not you folks. :( Sometimes it weirds me out, and I feel hopeless about it.

Discussions on this board are not that bad. Sometimes I wish we could raise the tone a bit, but that's as far as my complaints go.
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Postby Paul » Sat Sep 03, 2005 10:54 pm

Democritus wrote:Discussions on this board are not that bad. Sometimes I wish we could raise the tone a bit, but that's as far as my complaints go.


Hi,

I haven't spent much time in "The Academy" so I don't know the board's general tone.

That said, the tone of this thread seems OK to me. It comes across as a living conversation. I've really listened to everyone's posts.

And I get weirded out when I find myself talking about talking. So back to the Kool-Aid - I mean the claret. :D

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Sun Sep 04, 2005 6:47 am

Warning : this post is going off on a tangent.

I recall, when I went to summer school in Southern California, I was impressed at how much more openly I could discuss certain political issues. Probably it was partially the fact that I went to a summer school where the students generally had to be intelligent to get in, but I suspect that it was partially the fact that I was among more moderates who could discuss issues without curling up in self-defence of their beliefs.

Of course moderates are often hidden among the conspicious extremists. The vocal opinion of the Iraq war at my school is "Why the hell are they doing it - besides stealing oil?". But when few years back there was a school-wide assembly where anybody could get on stage and say what they thought about the war, many more moderate, even positive, opinons of the war emerged.

Many people complain about how American politics and political discussions are becoming so polarized and hyped up/dumbed down. I think the discussions in the Academy are on the path to putting politics to the quest for the best way to handle societiy's needs, as opposed to a clash of dogmas. Thanks for being so thoughtful!
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