Archive | January, 2015

No sense of humour

14 Jan

I once said that if anyone had an overwhelming desire to be offended they should contact me and I would be happy to oblige. Given what happened at Charlie Ebdo I’m not sure that was a wise statement. Let me start at a very basic statement, killing people is wrong. I can imagine in times of war that killing one person might save many, but we are not at war. There are some situations in peacetime where someone might make a decision to sacrifice their own life to save others.
As for a response to insults, well, sticks and stones might break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Of course, insults do hurt. What is in question here is proportion. An eye for an eye is proportionate, even if it leaves us all blind. To kill twelve people for a perceived insult to an legendary person according to rules invented centuries after that person is supposed to have lived is bizarre and ridiculous and completely disproportionate. The perpetrators of this massacre were looking for an insult because of their political views. Morality and religion do not come into the mix. Just because someone sincerely believes in their religion does not make them right, nor can it justify their actions.
If someone not of your religion chooses to publish a cartoon you disapprove of, get over it. Theses things happen. You are under no moral obligation to react. I’m sure the Prophet would be looking down from heaven, crying at the actions of those who claim to follow him, if he existed.
Not only does it show that extremists have no sense of proportion, they have no sense of humour.

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Tolerance and intolerance of intolerance

12 Jan

I heard Vince Cable, the Lib Dems deputy leader on Question Time last Thursday. He quoted from Voltaire that the only thing which can’t be tolerated is intolerance. I looked it up and it isn’t Voltaire.. Sorry, Vince, but it does sound like the sort of thing he would have said. Though he did write his  “Treatise on Toleration” in 1763. A better explanation is in this article in Wikipedia about the paradox of intolerance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

Quite a lot has been said by Karl Popper, Michael Waltzer and John Rawls.

Oh, and by me in a previous post.

If we are to live in an open and liberal society, we can never afford to tolerate certain types of intolerance.