Address Religion On It's Own Merits
When I express my views of religion and it's role in society, and see others express similar views, I often get the accusation of "giving religion a free ride", or that I'm holding religion to a different standard. The Irony of course is that I'm holding religion to the same standard as anything else. If Jack Thompson were to say that violent video games cause violence in the US, then I would require the same amount of proof than if Sam Harris says that religion causes violence in the US. I won't reject Jack Thompson's argument and accept Sam Harris' if I view them to be supported by the same arguments. If they both have the same amount and type of evidence, I'll accept or reject both of them depending on if the evidence is sufficent or not.
To be fair, I don't really have any solid data on this part, such as how many atheists share my view and how many don't. And of those that don't how many make the accusations above. But hey, if you're not one of those, then you don't have to worry about this post right?
Which brings me to several important points, regarding my views of religon that I would like to express and clear up.
Let's work through an example.
Here, a police officer assaulted a student that didn't have their shirt tucked in
Defining Goals And Starting From The Start
What should we do in this situation? Address the irrational rule of having their shirts tucked in? Address the mental health of the police officer?
Well, what we SHOULD do depends on our goals. What are they? Get rid of stupid rules? Reduce police brutality?
I think our goal when dealing with this situation would be to reduce police brutality and I don't think starting with the rule [justification] is going to get us anywhere.
Why not? The rule is irrational, no? Well yes, it is, but is going for the rule first really a good start?
A good place to start would be with the officer himself. Does he have a history of complaints against him? Did he get a psych evaluation after this incident? IF he does have abuse complaints against him [I'm not saying he does or doesn't], then why does he still have a badge? Maybe if the police force ran checks on their officers, than the muscle-brained power jocks wouldn't get through and be able to put down their coffee to abuse some 15 year old.
So I think the police force reviewing their selection/discipline procedures would also help us achieve the goal of reducing brutality.
On It's Own Merits
Now what does this have to do with the subject of the blog title? Am I saying that we should keep the rule? That the rule is rational or benifical to the school? Or am I holding the irrational rule to a different standard?
I hate to tell you this, but the actions of the officer are irrelevant to the rationality of the rule. The rule was most certainly used as justification, but what if the rule wasn't there, and the cop beat the shit out of a kid hot-wiring the teacher's car? Should we re-evaluate the law against Grand Theft Auto?
If I was the parent, I would be evaluating the officer, not the school board. If I waste time on the school board, pleading them to get rid of the stupid rule, what will that accomplish? Now cops have to look for vandals or drug dealers to kick the shit out of?
Where as if I went to the police force, and got them to stop letting these types of officers hold badges, it would help a lot more than letting kids have their shirts untucked don't you think?
In this case, I took a tragic situation, and instead of using it to "fight irrationality", I used it in a much more productive way.
Of course, after the police force has re-evaluated it's recruiting/discipline procedures, I'm free to address the irrational rule.
I mean, Young, Earth Creationists claim that there was a global flood, and the Earth is only 6,00 years old, do we really need any other reason to critisize them?
If Alex Jones says that Obama is a pawn of the New World Order and will take over the world and enslave us all, do I really have to make fallacious arguments such as his radio show causes the brutal treatment of Arabs in Iraq by Americans and Palestine by Israelis, in order to critisize his views?
I would hope not.
If I said that Alex Jones caused US soldiers to torture and abuse Arabs, and you dis-agreed does that mean you think Bush was part of the NWO and the WTC was a controlled demolition?
I would hope not.
What if I said it was possible to take Harris' views of moderate Muslims, and say in the hands of Israel Defence Force, use it to justify bombing civilians in Palestine/Lebanon? What if they bombed a day-care center in Beirut and justified it with "Well, they're Muslims and providing intellectual cover for Hiz'bollah and preventing us from critisizing Hiz'bollah's views. Without them, Hiz'bollah would have fizzled away by now"?
Should I hold Sam personally responsible for it?
No. I highly doubt the IDF consults him for their defence policies.
Making A Difference
I think starting from the start is the best way to reduce prejudice/war.
What if the Allies actually HELPED the Germans after WWI? What if they helped re-build the infastrucutre? What if they helped get the German economy back on track? What if they re-trained the German military to help Germany become self-sufficent again?
What if Hitler didn't have anything to blame on the Jews and Communists? What if he couldn't accuse the Communists of trying to take over Germany? [Ironically that was a self-fullfilling prophecy considering a Soviet flag hanged over the Germany Parliment and Stalin took half of Germany, and lost of previously German occupied countries such as Poland.] How could he blame the Jews on the poverty, if there was little poverty?
Wouldn't that be more effective than trying to de-bunk some guy with a funny moustache yelling?
Sweden has several Neo-Nazi organisations, yet I don't think they'll be making a trip to Poland anytime soon. Why? Because Swedes don't have a reason to follow them. The economy is good, they have health care etc... so the Nazi ideology that previously tried to take over the world and caused so much death and destruction, are now a bunch of idiots yelling at Jews and gays on the streets.
I hate to tell you this, but irrational beliefs are here to stay one way or another, so let's address them on their own merits.