Saturday, August 22, 2009

A passed test of loyalty? Or a failed test of ethics?

     Genesis 22 tells of a story about the biblical god commanding Abraham to offer up his son as a sacrifice. Now, I have heard many people point to this as a demonstration of admirable qualities of loyalty and obedience. But it has never sat well with me. This seems exactly the sort of order that one should never obey.
     Among human rulers, only the pettiest want such devotion. If there is a god and there is any truth to the story, it seems much more likely that the god would be testing to see if Abraham would have the courage to say "no" to a blatently wicked command. Perhaps we need to learn to be able to refuse even an "ultimate authority" when we know the command is no good. If that is the case, Abraham was simply not ready. I look at the world and see that many people are not ready.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Wow, it's like Randall Munroe knows me.

     Except that I don't drink alcohol at all. I guess he changed details to avoid any threat of a lawsuit.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

On censorship

     It is often difficult to navigate the boundary between when someone should and should not be able to block certain types of discourse he may find offensive. The extremes are easy. Anyone should able to block the hurling of epithets in his own home if he finds it offensive. Contrariwise, no one should be able to block any type of speech that he would not even know about if he were not looking for an excuse to be offended.
     On my own blog, I will delete any comment in which the language turns blue. (I delete all of Clostridiophile's comments because it reached a point where everything he posted was a foul-mouthed string of personal insults. Someday, he might put forward a decent post. But I will not know. I have no desire to sift through that and will delete them without reading them.) But on other blogs, I do not focus on language turning blue for how it turns the language blue. I will note, for example, when it is turning an "admission of a mistake" into sarcasm. But then I am calling on the inappropriate sarcasm.
     There are some people whose idea of entertainment is a 30-minute, non-stop barrage of four-letter words. I have even been told that I have "no sense of humor" because I am not impressed with that sort of thing. Now, I do wish that that wasn't quite so prevalent. I like sublety and depth to my entertainment; and it is just difficult to find. The people who like that sort of thing are welcome to have it. I do not begrudge them their tastes. I just don't like the way it has become so ubiquitous that finding anything else is nearly impossible. It is as though the entire artworld were taken over by nothing but "the blue duck."