Catherine Delahunty
When will we have real police culture change?

In 2007, the Herald named Louise Nicholas New Zealander of the Year for her brave exposure of police violence against women.

However, as I blogged a couple of weeks ago, female victims of “police misconduct” like Louise have been told they will not be compensated.

This week they also witnessed the edifying sight of former senior sergeant Dave Archibald’s promotion to a senior management role at the Police College despite his compromising involvement with the Brad Shipton case (he was caught accessing the police computer to pass on information that might help with Shipton’s defence). This nightmare seems to have no end for these women.

This latest evidence of the police force not taking this issue to heart is deeply disturbing for all women. It highlights that a culture change is still incomplete. It reinforces our feelings of vulnerability about those who are supposed to protect our rights. With outrageously bad domestic violence statistics in this country the last thing we need is a police force which promotes men connected with pack rape cases by policemen.

Earlier this year I attended the Women’s Refuge Annual Appeal launch, and what struck me most was the depressing need to endlessly repeat the message. Why is male violence endemic across so many cultures and families including from the rich, middle class and the poor? Why did the Minister of Justice tell me that protection orders are free when to make one stick you have to be eligible for legal aid or pay a lawyer? Why is violence by men against women now called “family violence”? Of course there is violence from women too, towards both men and children, but it’s not as culturally endemic.

On the positive side it is great that Turanga Nui a Kiwa Women’s Refuge is supporting a safehouse for men in Gisborne, which provides a space for men who have been removed from the home because of violence. They also need somewhere to go where they will be supported to change. I strongly support this initiative, so long as resources still go to protecting women and children and the police culture actually has changed.

The change will come when all men challenge the abusers to step up and “old Pat” the patriarchy finally clicks to the concept that a fair and peaceful society is better for everyone!

161 thoughts on “When will we have real police culture change?

  1. The change will come when all men challenge the abusers to step up and “old Pat” the patriarchy finally clicks to the concept that a fair and peaceful society is better for everyone!

    Change might also happen when the nice guys are given a shot by the women instead of the “bad boys” who just turn out to be abusive. There are a lot of nice guys out there who would not abuse women, but are constantly single.

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  3. @john-ston When will women give the “nice guys” a chance? Maybe when they get over their own sense of entitlement, stop blaming women for their singledom and look at themselves for the answers as to why they’re still single.

    These “nice guys”, they’re part of the problem too. Women don’t owe it to you to date you.

    And actual nice guys don’t blame the victim as you’re doing here.

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  4. Kia ora Catherine …good blog .I worked for many many years in Womens Refuge and you know what ? nothings changed in over 25 years …apart of course more ads on Tv … ..male perceived entitlement comes from the top as in the case of Shipton,its so corrupt and indicative just how privilaged the system is toward those of a certain gender..
    I have first hand knowledge of a system that does not work for victims of domestic violence ,its a travesty for the Justice minister to say DV protection orders are free ,,they are not,and if you are un lucky enough to need legal aid ,try finding a Lawyer that will take your case…
    Males in this country must take responsibility for their attitudes its simple ..

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  5. I am just hearing an item on the news about the people killed in a police pursuit in Christchurch… The media will never say so, but the police were (once again) acting like little boys – brrmm brrmmm let’s play at being The Stig!
    It’s all part of being a boys together gang…

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  7. “What other evidence do we have that the police have a bad culture?”
    Er, brrmmm brrmm police chases, Steven Wallace, any woman’s experience of trying to interest the police in a “domestic” going on, especially if the woman making the call is a concerned neighbour woken by terrible screams… I could go on.
    Deb

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  8. Vicky32, how about this. Had the peron stopped he may not have caused the deaths. I guess you just want to blame the Police, nd your mind is already made up or do you beleive that people should be allowed to blatantly break the law? Take your prejudice elsewhere.

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  9. @disgruntled at 3:56, could not agree more. john-ston? Google “George Sodini” for a real life example of why your attitude is at best douchey and at worst bl00dy dangerous.

    You know who else felt like they deserved “a shot”? Cops like Brad Shipton who decided a uniform entitled them to rape people.

    Catherine, great post. I can’t think why people think the rape culture of our police force is still a problem, what with Finlayson worried about “opening the floodgates” and Archibald’s promotion.

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  10. Surprise surprise – more putting the boot into police.

    Who wants a bet that our East Coast Green polititian has never ever bothered to go out with Gisborne or Hastings Police at 4am on a Saturday or Sunday morning?

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  11. I am right there with Vickey 32 there are a lot questions to be asked about the police today, the Riccard case? the culture of baldy heads, the police raids acouple of years ago and are these ‘pack rapes’ just ‘group orgies’?

    And who is the arch defender of our police? Non other than Rodney Hide who also has a bald head and is looking more like Mussilini every day! Or is that just my imagination?

    I remember a fellow down the road to me telling me that he was concerned about his son going off the rails selling and smoking marijuanna.
    But wait; then he saw the light and decided to join the police force and hey presto in nine months time (same time as A pregnancy)he became a fully fledged cop! I find it hard to believe but that’s what the old man told me.

    This has very strong parrallels to one of Stanley Kubricks early films ‘Clockwork Orange’ the droogs are out on a rampage of rape and pillage and after they have done over one place one of the droogs smashes a bottle in Alex’s face and runs away. Being temporarly blind Alex gets caught and goes to jail. The other droog joins the police force and later gives Alex a good kick in the groin when Alex finishes his aversion therapy.

    Anthony burgess wrote the book and now it seems like that we are living that dystopic prophesy.

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  12. Drakula says ” the culture of baldy heads”

    What next – a campaign against the culture of brown skin? Or perhaps the culture of goaties. Why not against people with tatoos. Or gingers. Or bald people – oh – you’ve already done that one

    Why not just come out and say it Drakuila – “I hate police” (except if I get a home invasion and need them, then I’ll start being nice).

    If you hate police that much, perhaps we should have a police-free month every year. Send them all on holiday for a month every year. Or perhaps two.

    If they are as bad as you say we will be better off.

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  13. Well, photonz, by and large I am no fan of the police either! (Although individual police have proven to be really nice and kind when our family had a tragedy.) But the police as such, bad culture doesn’t begin to cover it!

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  14. Hey look on the bright side at least we don’t have the New Orleans police force.

    Now that’s a police culture that needs to change.

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  17. Rape Torture Kill…whoooaaa stand back
    Whenever I hear the word Culture
    I reach for my telephone.
    The Filth deserve it eh…eh?

    Culture Change must come from outside the current model; – that means importing a new set of leaders with fresh mission statements.
    It is the Organizational equivalent of a total rebuild.
    To suggest such – one must be saying the Current Model is a write-off.
    I reckon it is – would back anyone willing to Change; moreover, other ‘Offices of Government’ are involved.
    NZ has quite a pervasive “Us and Them” Mentality – parochial and very resistant to change.
    But until those people all become ‘us’
    We’ll keep failing.

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  18. Such liberal hand wringing. I’d say 99% of Police are good people working often under difficult circumstances. You choose to focus on the minority.
    Perhaps if some of you were to put yourselves on the line as opposed to bitching from the edges you may change your opinion. Unlikly to happen though.

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  19. In recent times it seems that all police are being tarred with the same brush.. in regard to the negative aspects of the ‘culture’ as it is seen. I’m sure there are police who bend & break the rules & I believe there is a level of covering it up. What is needed is a TRUELY independant compliants authority.. that will treat the police who break the laws, the same way that the general public are treated.. AS CRIMINALS. The perception that the ‘blue line’ is somehow above the law is being consolidated by issues like : Police bars not adhereing to the same rules as public bars, allegations of drug use & no drug testing, rape cases being ‘swept under the carpet’ etc. etc. etc. Is there need for change ? “HELL YES”…. kia-ora

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  20. Sure it’s a “minority”, si. It’s a minority who continue to go unpunished, whose crimes continue to be swept under the carpet, and who continue to get promoted to some pretty high positions of authority. Which means it isn’t about a minority of rotten apples, it’s about an entire system of supposedly good apples who keep tolerating, nay supporting, their actions.

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  21. Admittedly Shipton and Co displayed a bad culture they should have behaved as an elder brother to a vulnerable young woman rather than seeing her as meat, having said that where (else) is your evidence of a bad culture?

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  22. jh, surely you are kidding. Or didn’t read the post. Because, um, that’s the entire point. Rickards? Promoted. Archibald, who acting unethically to defend Shipton? Promoted. Victims? Denied compensation.

    But given your awesomely paternalistic attitudes (behaved as an elder brother? REALLY?) I’m not surprised you don’t make the fairly direct connection.

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  23. si,

    The police chase in Christchurch was discussed on National Radio on Saturday morning. They’re saying that the police knew who he was, before he fled, and knew that he wasn’t going to stop because of being chased.

    Catherine,

    What if there are known to be some people for whom a fair and peaceful society is known to be worse?

    john-ston,

    I’m also single, and have no expectation that it will change.

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  25. jh, surely you are kidding. Or didn’t read the post. Because, um, that’s the entire point. Rickards? Promoted. Archibald, who acting unethically to defend Shipton? Promoted.
    ….
    Punished, learnt lesson, promoted?
    ..
    I would have thought that most men who get turned on by women they consider a conquest would scurry away with hurt pride, lick their wounds and no way would it have been worth it.
    ….
    Do we have an opinion from inside the force?

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  26. jh, you’re paternalistic because you put things into the context of Protective Elder Brother who wants to Defend Young Woman’s Virtue. Why don’t you opine that Shipton et al should have viewed Louise Nicholas … as a human being deserving of dignity and autonomy and not being, at the most generous interpretation of events, preyed on sexually? But no, let’s bring it back to a ridiculous archaic Family Values setup.

    You are welcome to provide any kind of evidence of Archibald having “learnt his lesson”, if you like. Seems to me that that’s a fairly long bow to draw in the context of the Attorney-General’s “nope, no compensation, floodgates etc.” attitudes.

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  27. Really, jh, I was simply fascinated to know why you think “It seems to me the Green Party is uncomfortable with mother nature (the birds and the bees and all that)?“.

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  28. jh: I’m responding to the one you’ve thought better of, because it seems like a good way into your position.

    I’ve seen ‘culture’ defined as ‘organised resistance to natural selection’. I think it’s a not-bad definition. I don’t see that it’s possible both to embrace something uncritically and to resist it.

    What do you think?

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  30. jh,

    Suffice it to say family members can be rapists too. But generally the Attorney-General won’t say their victims should just suck it up.

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  31. Photon; it may suprise you to know that I don’t hate cops, 95% of them are OK but there is undoubtedly that 5% or so that are rotten eggs. Most of those rotters that I have observed just so happen to have bald heads.

    Maybe there are some policemen who are Budhist monks in uniform, I dont’t know.
    But I would like a policemen to contribute to this post to enlighten me on how long the training period is, and what their salary is when they graduate.

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  32. @jh 8:17 PM

    So there are 3275 fundies and/or bigots in East Coast Bays who voted for Adams. So what? Are you suggesting that the unfortunately large number of people who voted for a fundy bigot in that particular electorate give some credence to their irrationally unscientific ideology?

    Anyone for creation science here (of for climate change denial, for that matter)? Almost certainly the usual suspects – those who hate Maori, hate queers, hate immigrants, and hate women (apart from the compliant women who are happy with a life in the kitchen and do the rooty thing on male demand every time, but don’t demand any more than 5 minutes of that for themselves).

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  33. No answer to if Catherine has ever been out with police at 4am.

    I would have thought every polititian who has a genuine interest in knowing what really goes on would have been out at least a few times.

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  34. Google “George Sodini” for a real life example of why your attitude is at best douchey and at worst bl00dy dangerous.

    I did Google George Sodini, and while what he did was competely abhorent, I can see what the source of his frustration was. In terms of the other point, let us not forget that while women choose the “bad boys” (and let us not forget that except for instances of rape, women choose who they enter into a relationship with), they will carry on getting beaten by those same “bad boys”. It takes two to tango.

    You know who else felt like they deserved “a shot”? Cops like Brad Shipton who decided a uniform entitled them to rape people.

    Rape, or murder, or abuse is not acceptable. My point has always been that women can reduce the incidences of abuse by not dating the “bad boys” who are more likely to abuse them. I would also note that I am not blaming the women for the abuse; this is a preventative measure.

    Perhaps if enough women did it, then the “bad boys” might get the message. While women are falling all over them, they simply don’t get the message.

    These “nice guys”, they’re part of the problem too. Women don’t owe it to you to date you.

    I never said that, nor implied it. The problem is that while women date “bad boys”, those “bad boys” are going to beat them. Don’t date them, not get beaten – it is a relatively simple point.

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  35. john-ston, I’ve often said that where Nice Guys (TM) like yourself are concerned, the definition of a “bad boy” is “man who is getting the attention of a woman which I feel entitled to”.

    You are explicitly blaming women for rape, and blaming the victims of abuse for “getting themselves” abused. Your attitudes are exactly what allow the rape culture detailed in the post above and exactly what allow rapists and murderers – whom you claim to abhor – to go on hurting women. “It’s not my fault, miss, the pretty lady wouldn’t screw me!”

    Which isn’t even to address the fact that apparently you think if Louise Nicholas, or any other victim of sexual abuse by members of our police force, had just found herself a Nice Christian Boy then she would never have been raped. Because you know, then that Nice Christian Boy could have marked her as his territory and Rickards et al would’ve gone to find another vulnerable young woman. Who in your opinion was probably asking for it anyway, what with persistently not sleeping with you.

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  36. toad says:
    “Almost certainly the usual suspects – those who hate Maori, hate queers, hate immigrants, and hate women (apart from the compliant women who are happy with a life in the kitchen and do the rooty thing on male demand every time, but don’t demand any more than 5 minutes of that for themselves).”
    …….
    The worlds just a model in your head Toad.
    The model in my head says a motivated group over over the top (radical/ activist types) have stacked the Green party membership so moderates will either not join, hang on in hope or leave. Meteria confirmed that a lot of people left when te tiritti became holy writ. In the case of East Coast Bays the result would have reflected a reaction to the anti smacking legislation.
    Go in peace radicals I say! Go in peace! And don’t slam the door on the way out!

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  37. You are explicitly blaming women for rape

    Rape is something different – you are largely not in control of the circumstances surrounding it (obviously there are things that make it more likely, such as walking alone at night).

    and blaming the victims of abuse for “getting themselves” abused

    Nope, what I am pointing out is that you can take preventative measures to ensure that you are less likely to get into an abusive relationship. The victim isn’t to blame for the abuse, however, they can take preventative measures to reduce the risk (like you lock your car to reduce the risk of robbery – is the victim in that case blamed? No!)

    “It’s not my fault, miss, the pretty lady wouldn’t screw me!”

    Where did I say that nice people get involved in such activities? My point has and always will be, the “bad boys” get chosen and the “bad boys” turn out to be the abusers – is there not a problem there?

    had just found herself a Nice Christian Boy then she would never have been raped

    I never said or implied that getting a “nice guy” would prevent instances of rape – it would reduce the instances of abuse though.

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  38. john-ston, I really can’t put this any more plainly. “Nice boys” rape. Family members rape. Pillar-of-the-community employers rape. Rapists and abusers do not walk around with “Evil Person” tattooed on their forehead. You are pretending there is a distinction which is simple and black-and-white. You are wrong.

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  39. john-ston & jh: there was a slogan I saw on an office wall on Friday that I think sums it up perfectly:

    It’s not about HOW WE’RE DRINKING.
    It’s all about HOW THEY’RE RAPING!

    Women have the absolute right to get drunk, hang out with whoever they choose, wear “revealing” clothes, walk home alone late at night etc, and not be raped.

    Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault.

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  40. jh clearly doesn’t think about my questions, but then he’s not the only one :-)

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  41. jh clearly doesn’t think about my questions, but then he’s not the only one
    ….
    I was making a joke and then (remebering the topic was rape) thought better of it.

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  43. I’m confused, jh. You think “women in general” would agree that if they get drunk they should blame themselves if a man chooses to assault them? Or do you think “women in general” (they’re like “middle New Zealand” only with lipstick) are just as much members of a society which excuses rape and blames victims as anyone else? Just because a majority accept stupid and dangerous rape myths (when it doesn’t impact on them, of course) doesn’t make them right.

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  44. jh, noted. I think my question can be made to stand alone. It becomes something like:

    – how do you think the world should be?
    – in that model, who has what duties, relevant to the topic of this conversation?

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  45. How about we embrace a Culture of Change as being entirely in keeping with the Changes that are constantly evolving in Society.
    That way we may not wind up clinging fearfully to a Law and Order Model that was set by the British Navy 300 years ago – could it be less appropriate?

    Perhaps we won’t wind up with a health system that owes more to the Plague than it does to science (and, like the Police, spends too much time and money trying to cover it’s Fatal Blundering).

    Cath; Entirely correct – our bureaucracies have resisted Cultural Change for so long, they need rebuilding, from the ground up.

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  46. Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault.

    And neither is burglary, but I lock my car doors anyway to prevent my car being burgled.

    john-ston, I really can’t put this any more plainly. “Nice boys” rape. Family members rape. Pillar-of-the-community employers rape.

    QoT, there is a massive difference between rapists and abusers. Rapists can come from all walks of society; abusers have some very telltale warning signs.

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  47. @jh 5:22 PM

    with regard to this topic, it would be interesting to know what women in general think.

    It isn’t difficult jh! Women think that they want to fuck the men (if any) they want to fuck, and they want to fuck them when they want to fuck them.

    Why can’t men like you get that into your heads? Men have the right to make that decision (and do make it). Why shouldn’t women?

    “No, I’m not interested in sex with you” or “Sorry, but I’m really tired and it’s not a good night for it – maybe another time” should be enough for men to accept.

    Do you accept that, jh?

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  48. Do they all look skody and scruffy and make punching motions while they talk? Or are you making another baseless, no-evidence provided claim to back up your preference to believe abused women are just stupid so you don’t have to consider their plight?

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  49. @john-ston 8:47 PM

    FFS, you are trying to make a distinction between rapists and abusers. Can’t understand that – rapists are just a subset of abusers.

    All rape is abuse. Get it?

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  50. @QoT 8:52 PM

    Just waiting for the terms “ho”, “slut” and “slapper” to enter the thread. The direction some of these boys are heading, it won’t be long!

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  51. FFS, you are trying to make a distinction between rapists and abusers. Can’t understand that – rapists are just a subset of abusers.

    All rape is abuse. Get it?

    Toad, rape is not abuse – rape is significantly different to abuse, and in that regard is much much worse.

    Women have the absolute right to get drunk, hang out with whoever they choose, wear “revealing” clothes, walk home alone late at night etc, and not be raped.

    Toad, I also have the right to swim in a lake infested with crocodiles, but that doesn’t stop me from being eaten.

    Or are you making another baseless, no-evidence provided claim to back up your preference to believe abused women are just stupid so you don’t have to consider their plight?

    QoT, here are 28 signs of abusers

    http://organizations.rockbridge.net/projecthorizon/signsofabuser.htm

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  52. @john-ston 9:44 PM

    I also have the right to swim in a lake infested with crocodiles, but that doesn’t stop me from being eaten.

    So you equate the intellectual and emotional brain functions of men with the instinctive feeding frenzy of crocodiles, john-ston?

    I thought evolution had got us beyond that. To my dismay, I keep finding living specimens of Homo crocodilius.

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  53. So you equate the intellectual and emotional brain functions of men with the instinctive feeding frenzy of crocodiles, john-ston?

    Toad, I was just making the point that just because you have the right to do something means that it isn’t always wise to do so.

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  54. Johnson,

    Rape is a form of abuse, even if worse than other forms often discussed. It is a forceful violation of the rights of another, and their body, for ones personal gratification. In a good number of cases it cannot even be considered psychologically distinct; the gratification coming from the abuse itself rather than any sexual release.

    QoT, there is a massive difference between rapists and abusers. Rapists can come from all walks of society; abusers have some very telltale warning signs.

    Actually, the signs are identical; those of antisocial personality disorder. It comes from all walks of life, the difference is that the smart ones gain a position of authority and get away with it while the stupid ones go for brute force and get caught relatively fast.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Toad,

    Women have the absolute right to get drunk, hang out with whoever they choose, wear “revealing” clothes, walk home alone late at night etc, and not be raped.

    No; women have the freedom to get drunk, hang out with whomever they choose, wear whatever they choose, and walk home late at night, etc.. They have the right to not be assaulted, they have the right to not be coerced, and they have the right to not be raped. Pedantic, but worthy of note.

    Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault.

    I think this is a dubious claim. There is nothing that can justify one person raping another for their own satisfaction, but that is not to say that the person raped is without blame.

    If you know that by doing A you increase the probability of B and you do A anyhow, then you are at fault for the increased probability of B. If you have an option between having a few drinks and being totally trashed and you choose totally trashed then you are at fault for any increased probability of an occurrence; this is the same for walking home alone instead of with a trusted associate; this is the same for a whole array of factors. I am not saying that this is how it should be, but that this is how it is. Saying anything else is like saying that a person driving at 200 km/h whom happens to run over a few kids on a crossing is not at fault when they could have been going a safe speed and looking out for said kids.

    The victim sometimes holds blame for the victimising event. That, though, does not excuse the actions of the perpetrator.

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  55. john-ston … I would really love, LOVE to see you explain how those “28 Signs of Abusers” provide any kind of practical guidance for people to avoid abusers.

    Unemployed? In times of recession? And of course no employed people ever hit their partners. Controlling behaviour? Are we talking just locking-you-in-the-house and up, or all the way down to Lady Gaga’s Telephone-esque behaviour? At this point I direct y’all to Julie’s most excellent On Being Believed post. Reliance on pornography? According to your own assessment, or the local bishop’s?

    Even if we take your “women should just put out for me Nice Boys” argument as a given, I am still not clear on how we can all just magically “tell” a person is an abuser.

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  56. As an aside, I see lots about treating females as ‘people’.

    What does this entail?

    What does treating anyone like a ‘person’ entail?

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  57. Sapient,

    Here’s my big, throbbing problem with your contention “If you know that by doing A you increase the probability of B and you do A anyhow, then you are at fault for the increased probability of B.” as it applies to women as victims of rape.

    You know what massively increases my risk of rape? Living with a man, in a heterosexual relationship. We don’t blame women for rape when their partners do it … even though that occurs a hell of a lot more often than everyone’s favourite moral-panic dark-alley scruffy-stranger scenario. I “am aware” that by living with a man, visiting male relatives, having a male boss and going to friends’ places where men will be present all, considerably, increase my risk of rape (vs. say living as a hermit in the Coromandel).

    If I were to be raped by any one of these men (particularly one known to me, in my own home), would you stand there and say “Look, I’m not blaming you, but you knew the statistics about getting assaulted by acquaintances in your residence!”? Probably not. So let’s not draw the line when it comes to behaviours which directly correlate to women being independent, being in control of their own sexuality, and having a good time. Because that’s … just a little suspicious.

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  58. Whew, Toad!
    You’ve been doing sterling service, just jumping in to give you some support.

    And as a regular-ish poster here, I’d like to say a big thank-you to the women who have contributed to this thread who are not frogblog regulars – good to have you here!

    jh, John-ston – yes, I am a woman!

    I consider Cath’s post to be fairly reflective of the state of things that most women are aware of, and of which any woman who has worked to prevent abuse (of which sexual abuse and rape are subsets of violent abuse!) will be painfully conscious.

    I have helped to support (by fundraising on and off campus) agencies who provide support for survivors of rape and domestic assaults; I find even being on the frontline and talking to people about why we work at this, for the duration of a fundraising event, is traumatic enough – there are always people who will tell you stories about what has happened within their lives, and after a while you can pick them as they work their way towards you – and my overriding memory from all this is that there is no one way to tell who is an abuser, there is no one way to avoid abusers (try telling that to someone who’s been abused by a family member since childhood!) and I wholeheartedly honour all those who are working at the bottom of this particular cliff-face day-by-day – they are stronger people than I am, and they are doing a task that is frequently belittled by media, government policy, and public opinion.

    The outrage felt by women when such issues as policy changes at ACC, or ‘executive decisions’ by Commission public servants, lead to failure of counselling and related services for survivors of abuse is huge. So what you see is a 5-second sound bite of a protest that went on for several hours, and none of the really angry or radical voices heard, with media downplaying such events as ‘hysteria’ – and you wonder why it becomes harder and harder for women to take a ‘nice’ single guy seriously when he says the kind of things you have posted here – because your attitudes buy into the victim-blaming misogyny that just enables abusers to continue on their merry way to their next target.

    Until Men stand up and say they won’t tolerate drunk guys in bars refusing to hear ‘no’ or even ‘piss off, I don’t want your company’ from any woman, drunk or sober, wearing a mini skirt or a full burkha, then arseholes like Clint Rickards will continue to romp through the justice system without even touching the sides, while their victims struggle to think of good reasons to stay alive another day – and at least one of the women Rickards, Schollum & Shipton abused has committed suicide since Rickards’ acquittal. I won’t name her here, but I think of her life destroyed every time I see that case referred to again.

    Rape of women is a man’s action, it is a man’s choice to do that crime, and MEN need to ‘man up’ and start to realise that all men will be treated with suspicion if as a group, men continue to condone the actions of a few who are abusers.

    Having said that, I’d also like to thank the men who have spoken up on this issue here, and pointed out that men have responsibility for all of their actions. Drunk, sober, day, night, socially or during work hours.
    Thanks.

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  59. QoT,

    If I was there, the chances are I would be standing there with my hands around his neck and his head rapidly turning purple.

    The funny thing about me is that I do not make such petty distinctions as you suggest I may above. If you associate with males whom are likely to rape you and you end up getting raped then yes, I would consider you to hold blame. These things do not, as people suggest, come ‘out of the blue’; it is fairly easy to tell if someone is likely to do such. If you move in with someone without knowing even that then you hold blame; I would still run him through but I would be thinking ‘you stupid little girl’ like the condescending ar$e I am.

    I do not think that these things should increase the chances of rape, but the fact is that they do. I hold nothing less than contempt for anyone whom would rape anyone else. In fact, chauvinistic though it may be, I hold nothing less than contempt for any male whom would so much as lift a finger against a female.

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  60. My apologies, Sapient. I hadn’t realised I was dealing with another “rapists walk around with neon signs saying Bad Man on their heads” rape apologist.

    More recommended reading for the thread: Schrodinger’s Rapist at Shapely Prose.

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  61. QoT,

    My apologies, Sapient. I hadn’t realised I was dealing with another “rapists walk around with neon signs saying Bad Man on their heads” rape apologist.

    Not neon signs, but close enough. It is damned obvious really. The way they move, the way they smile, the tone of their voice, and especially their reaction to the pain of others. These people are the brood from which come sociopaths and psychopaths.

    Now, perhaps it is easier for me to see this because I study them or because I see people as little more than objects, but the fact remains that the traits are there and not even the best can hide them.

    I have remarked that I see no excuse for rape and my actions speak to this, I am not an apologist; I am merely calling it as I see it regarding blame. I think that it is harmful for us to say that the victim has no blame for this promotes the perception that the very activities which increase the probability do not increase the probability; that it is just a fluke.

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  62. The idea that rapists, abusers, bad people in general are all “a certain way” or can be “detected” by knowledgeable people … is a joke. When 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, most often by acquaintances, the notion that every single one of these rapists is united by some Big Scary Man archetype is simply ludicrous.

    The only worldview in which this is an even vaguely logical proposition is one in which we comfort ourselves that Bad Things Only Happen To Bad People. And I’ll Never Get Raped Because I’m A Good Girl. And Evil People All Look Evil So Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen To Me.

    This is simply completely out of step with reality, where bad people can have Ted Bundy’s good looks or the backing of the entire Catholic Church hierarchy or the respectability of doctors, police officers, senior politicians. All classes of people which have produced abusers and rapists.

    It is very tempting to console ourselves that She Should Have Seen It Coming because that way we never have to face the horrible randomness of violence. But it cannot be borne out with evidence, and that’s the entire freaking point of dissecting rape culture: because rape culture is a litany of lies about who victims and rapists are and how rapes happen.

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  63. QoT,

    The idea that rapists, abusers, bad people in general are all “a certain way” or can be “detected” by knowledgeable people … is a joke. When 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, most often by acquaintances, the notion that every single one of these rapists is united by some Big Scary Man archetype is simply ludicrous.

    There are some people whom will never commit such a crime, there are some whom will do so willingly, there are some whom will do so if angry enough, and there are some whom would do so in the absence of punishment for the actions. It is all a matter of personality. We group the traits that lead to such under the title of antisocial and most individuals fit the description to some degree, the more strongly they fit it, the more likely one is to commit such an assault. There is an estimated incidence of diagnosable antisocial personality disorder of about 3%, but this is the very extreme cases; for many people with such traits (probably the majority of the population) it is just a matter of circumstance rather than a pathological state. Given that rape is a crime likely to cause immense suffering to the individual, inhibited or absent empathy is the major factor. In general, the less the empathy, the higher the likelihood of rape; your gamble.

    The only worldview in which this is an even vaguely logical proposition is one in which we comfort ourselves that Bad Things Only Happen To Bad People. And I’ll Never Get Raped Because I’m A Good Girl. And Evil People All Look Evil So Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen To Me.

    No, the only world-view where this is not a logical presupposition is the incredibly naïve idea that people are good. People are not good, if anything people are very bad.

    This is simply completely out of step with reality, where bad people can have Ted Bundy’s good looks or the backing of the entire Catholic Church hierarchy or the respectability of doctors, police officers, senior politicians. All classes of people which have produced abusers and rapists.

    Because seeking positions of power is not a trait of the antisocial personality? Oh, wait! It is one of the main points and pretty much the motivating factor behind many of the violent crimes committed by such individuals.

    It is very tempting to console ourselves that She Should Have Seen It Coming because that way we never have to face the horrible randomness of violence. But it cannot be borne out with evidence, and that’s the entire freaking point of dissecting rape culture: because rape culture is a litany of lies about who victims and rapists are and how rapes happen.

    For the most part it is not random. People are targeted because they are susceptible; because they are drunk, alone, dependent, stupid, or simply just there. In fact, of all the cases I have been involved with only a single case could be considered ‘random’; one where a childhood friend of mine was raped by a guy whom walked in to her house from off the street with his friend; even then it was hardly random because he was her most recent ex.

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  64. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  65. Sapient,

    Trevor Morley, the Wellington private detective, said something interesting about employees once, which isn’t exactly the same, but I think it’s related. He said that 25% will never steal from you; it’s just not in their nature. 25% will steal from you if they possibly can. 50% will look at what the boss does; whether he pays (the tax man) for the stock he takes out of the shop, etc. The numbers won’t be the same for violent crimes, but I suspect that the effect is; that we look at our reference population and decide what’s normal.

    QoT,

    I went looking for something you mentioned, and found relevant-looking content, but I’m reluctant to post links, in case someone uses them as how-to-sneak-up-before-pouncing guides. Please advise.

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  66. “Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault…

    “And neither is burglary, but I lock my car doors anyway to prevent my car being burgled.”

    (Sarcasm warning) Yeah, and if women just wore burkas, never went out to bars or pubs, locked the door (several times), avoided male family members and lived in women-only communities from birth they wouldn’t get raped, so it’s partly their own fault, right?

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  67. “I would have thought that on a timescale …Emily Pankhurst…. Germaine Greer……. now , we were past most of that. It seems however we are in the thick of the fight ”

    Quite right.

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  68. JC2,

    Yes, it is similar. There is certainly a social element both in terms of the wider community and ones close associates. For the predators, though, I doubt that the community accounts for much other than the self-interest element in the ; these people are pretty much defined by their tendency to disregard social norms. That said, the community is likely to account for a lot with the more borderline, sub-clinical, cases; as we see with societies which condone rape or even encourage it.

    If we look at people whom commit felonies, we have 80% to 95% of that population having antisocial personality to a diagnosable degree. That is, to a degree where it is pathological. The number is obviously far lower in the general population (~3% in males) but that it is so high among felons would seem to speak to its importance. That said, sub-clinical cases are still dangerous and likely incredibly proliferate.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Sam,

    In this respect the agoraphobics have it right (even if they tend to avoid the panic brought on by social interaction rather than the people themselves). Everything we do in life carries its risks, if you choose not to minimise those risks then you share the blame when something happens as a result. I certainly do not think that anyone should have to cower at home in a fortress of solitude or cover up for fear of being raped, but the reality is that some actions do increase the chances of an undesirable outcome and you take those actions at your own risk.

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  69. There has got to be something pretty weird wrong when I find myself in agreement with Sapient – again! :O
    However, when he says : “If you know that by doing A you increase the probability of B and you do A anyhow, then you are at fault for the increased probability of B. If you have an option between having a few drinks and being totally trashed and you choose totally trashed then you are at fault for any increased probability of an occurrence” I have to agree. Women are not at fault if they are raped, however if they have left their common sense at home, then they may well be at fault for having increased the probability of something bad happening.
    And this “The victim sometimes holds blame for the victimising event. That, though, does not excuse the actions of the perpetrator.” – agreed!
    Deb

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  70. QoT – you said “When 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, most often by acquaintances, the notion that every single one of these rapists is united by some Big Scary Man archetype is simply ludicrous” – well, I am a woman and quite an old one, and I am not one of those 1 in 4, and neither to the best of my knowledge are my two sisters. Not all rapists/abusers have ‘dangerous’ stencilled on their foreheads, but nevertheless some caution can lead to surprisingly good luck! Men are not the enemy…
    “or the backing of the entire Catholic Church hierarchy” – wow am I sick of hearing this particular allegation! Who remembers the man who was prosecuted about 6 years back, for fraud? He’d got $umpteen thousand from the “Church hierarchy” to compensate him for abuse that, it turned out, he’d made up, invented – and had never happened. (That was because the Catholic church in NZ had and as far as I know still has, a policy of paying out on the merest allegation, so as to not traumatise anyone by asking them to prove it.) Were they not quite so kind, perhaps the whole world and her husband wouldn’t believe that priest=abuser. :(
    Deb

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  71. I’m sure it all sounds very reasonable to commenters above that hey, everything carries risk! And we all take risks when we do anything! That’s totally not the same as victim blaming!

    But here’s the problem. When [sober] people are killed in car accidents, you don’t get a giant public outcry about how “well if you’re going to leave your house and get into an automobile, you knew you were at risk of a fatal accident!” You don’t have the wives of Mitsubishi executives on the front cover of Women’s Weekly talking about Why I Stand By My Man. When huge issues with the Toyota Lexus were discovered we didn’t get people saying “Well sure Toyota did wrong, but people were putting themselves in vulnerable situations!” and you don’t get Toyota’s lawyers saying “Our clients shouldn’t compensate people, what do these drivers expect if they’re going to drive around like drivers?”

    This oh-so-rational, oh-so-”just saying it like it is”, oh-so-”not blaming, but you have to admit you have some responsibility” attitude is only ever applied to rape and abuse victims. We only ever see you crawling out of the woodwork when it’s women whose behaviour is counter to barefoot-and-pregnant patriarchal dogma are the victims involved.

    Not rugby players, who apparently need to be protected from aggressive fans jumping them in bars – nope, no cries of “well if you’re going to be famous in public you’re making yourself vulnerable” then. Not Chinese politicians who need to be violently protected by peaceful political protest – nope, no “well if you’re going to represent a country which violates human rights for fun in our democratic state you’re setting yourself up for trouble” there.

    Nope, it’s just the female victims of sexual violence who get the “well I’m not blaming you but it is totally your fault” treatment. Funny how suddenly that makes it not-so-reasonable an attitude.

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  72. Vicky … congratulations on your luck in not being sexually assaulted. As for the church … wow, one case of faked abuse! That totally cancels out every single other case throughout the world over the course of decades!

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  73. @Vicky32 5:40 PM

    That was because the Catholic church in NZ had and as far as I know still has, a policy of paying out on the merest allegation, so as to not traumatise anyone by asking them to prove it.

    It is not to “not traumatise anyone by asking them to prove it” – it is to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church, whose theological leadership have conspired from the foundation of Catholicism to subjugate women to the power of the penis.

    FFS, look at the Catholic Church’s historical and current stand on contraception and abortion, and ask yourself why the latest incarnation of Il Papa still won’t let women become Priests.

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  74. “It is not to “not traumatise anyone by asking them to prove it” – it is to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church, whose theological leadership have conspired from the foundation of Catholicism to subjugate women to the power of the penis.”
    I am sorry, I couldn’t possibly agree less! For as long as it has existed, the Church has provided an alternative for women, to marrying at 14 and having 18 children. Look at Mediaeval Europe for instance, and woman ran businesses (although they were known as nunneries), educated girls, and made them independent of the male structure – turning them from pawns of husband and father, to independent women. Have you heard of Julian of Norwich and Hildegard of Bingen for examples?

    “FFS, look at the Catholic Church’s historical and current stand on contraception and abortion…”
    I will agree with you about contraception, although the Church’s stand on that is about an ideal, sadly not the real world – but I am unimpressed with the abortion argument. IMO, abortion is not a right, it’s a wrong – and something that most women don’t want! My sister and I both have had unmarried (not unwanted) pregnancies – a total of four between us) – my sister who was effectively bullied into not just one, but two abortions, lived to regret it mightily… I wouldn’t consider abortion for a moment – and I still believe I was right!

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  75. “Vicky … congratulations on your luck in not being sexually assaulted.”
    Thank you, I have been lucky – but to be fair, I have never gone out and got legless – I have always exercised a reasonable degree of caution…
    That being said, I was unlucky enough to marry an alcoholic, and I am here to tell you, there are things that are much worse than rape/sexual assault. Sorry, Sapient and others – abusive men are not always easy to detect…
    ” As for the church … wow, one case of faked abuse! That totally cancels out every single other case throughout the world over the course of decades!”
    One that we know of… In fact, not in media beat ups, allegations against priests are no more numerous than accusations against sports coaches, neighbours, Scoutmasters, and has been shown here in NZ, St John’s ambulance officers! (However, and I think this is obvious – there are people who are willing, nay eager, to believe the equation priest=abuser…. Just have a look at some of the scurrilous and actionable (!) cartoons on atheist web sites,
    Deb

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  76. @Vicky32 6:14 PM

    I wouldn’t consider abortion for a moment – and I still believe I was right!

    I respect your choice as to what was right for you. But do you want the law to deny other women making the choice as to what is right for them?

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  77. QoT,

    This oh-so-rational, oh-so-”just saying it like it is”, oh-so-”not blaming, but you have to admit you have some responsibility” attitude is only ever applied to rape and abuse victims. We only ever see you crawling out of the woodwork when it’s women whose behaviour is counter to barefoot-and-pregnant patriarchal dogma are the victims involved.

    As I said earlier, I make no such petty distinctions. I apply exactly the same reasoning to pretty much everything. I do not know how long you have been on this blog but given that your only interaction with me is on this single topic, I think it is a little hasty to assume that I would not be so consistent in my reasoning; if anything, following the logic to the conclusion is my main trait. The times I’ve been hit by cars I accept that it is in partially my fault because I was not wearing a reflective vest or I myself was not being as attentive as I should have been. The number of times I have been assaulted, I accept that it is partially my fault for conducting myself in the manner I did. The list goes on, but none of my experiences can be compared to something so severe as rape (even if I have been drugged).

    Nope, it’s just the female victims of sexual violence who get the “well I’m not blaming you but it is totally your fault” treatment. Funny how suddenly that makes it not-so-reasonable an attitude.

    No, you are just blinded by your need to externalise blame.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*

    Vicky,

    but I am unimpressed with the abortion argument. IMO, abortion is not a right, it’s a wrong – and something that most women don’t want!

    If you would want it is irrelevant. It is if you are willing to deny it to someone whom does want it.

    Sorry, Sapient and others – abusive men are not always easy to detect…

    No, they are not. If I said it was always easy then I misspoke.
    My point was that they can be detected, even if for some it takes a lot of effort. One would expect that as you allow someone in to a position where they have more power over you one is more careful about that person. That is to say, you don’t need to screen everybody but if you’re going to move in with someone or be totally trashed with them then you should really do your best to make sure that you are going to be safe with them.
    I don’t know how other people work but for me to trust someone I have to have interacted with them heavily and they have to have passed a great deal of tests and inspections; not even the best stand up to that level of scrutiny. I am not saying that one needs to do this with all, but sometimes it pays to err on the side of safety and to do so relative to how much power you grant them. Then again, being too paranoid would make finding love rather difficult; trade-offs I guess.

    Just have a look at some of the scurrilous and actionable (!) cartoons on atheist web sites,

    I take it you have seen the new ‘pedo-pope’ posters set to come out?
    Actionable? Because we all know how well that works. If anyone tried to do that the atheist corps would march and, if defeated, the army of the anonymous would descend. The anonymous are undying.

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  78. Sapient, whether you’re the most consistent rational logical commentbot that ever commented is actually not the point. This post is about culture. This is about how a perfectly non-judgemental pragmatic outlook such as you claim to apply universally does not exist in our culture. It is not how wider society treats victims of rape, especially those who were apparently meant to “just know” that Shipton et al were scum despite wearing uniforms which good little girls and boys are meant to respect.

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  79. Toad, yes, I do – because abortion doesn’t affect only the woman. It’s a myth that it’s just her body that’s involved or that “it’s just a bunch of cells”… and that’s without considering the father, the woman’s parents, her other children if any – but most of all, the woman’s only future physical and mental/emotional health…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_Exploited_By_Abortion Just one of the many sources of information (though obviously I would prefer it if it were not an American group)
    Deb

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  80. QoT,

    If this is what you are trying to get across then I have misunderstood. My point is that it is rational and logically consistent to say that a person does hold some degree of blame if that person could have taken a different route with a lower probability of the undesired event.

    I do agree that this is not why most of society holds this position. Most hold it because of underlying bigotries and a partial need to justify the event, just as those whom say that there is no blame say such because of political motivations. I have attacked both of these positions in saying that there can be no justification for a rape of self-gratification and that the victim does, none the less, hold some degree of blame because of paths they have likely chosen to follow.

    One could call it a middle ground to which the only logical alternative is fatalism.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Vicky,

    I will have to come back to that when I have more time. For the mean time, I would like to see how Toad dances. This is one I would expect him to do relatively well in.

    As an aside, though, how do you consider things to be moral? I am trying to gauge your approach here. Are things innately wrong or right? Are they wrong or right because god says so? Are they wrong or right based on their ultimate contribution to a greater cause?

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  81. “how do you consider things to be moral? I am trying to gauge your approach here. Are things innately wrong or right? Are they wrong or right because god says so? Are they wrong or right based on their ultimate contribution to a greater cause?”
    Essentially, all of the above!
    I believe that things God says are wrong, are wrong because they harm other people – by and large, I can’t think of anything God says is wrong, that is purely arbitrary. Before we proceed, I want to point out that (a) I am not a Catholic, so no, I don’t consider contraception is wrong, and I don’t believe that God said so…
    Also, I am a Christian, so I am unimpressed with the Jewish laws about mixed fabrics… and I hold no brief for such laws…
    Murder, killing, war, adultery, theft, abortion, all these violate the commandment to love one’s neighbour as oneself…
    Deb

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  82. Vicky,

    So things are wrong because they hurt other people, God’s word simply reflects this reality?

    If this is your position then that places you, most likely, as a deontologist or a utilitarian.

    Next, are things which are wrong always wrong? That is to say: is killing always wrong; is rape always wrong; is abortion always wrong; etc..

    Say that there was a fork in a set of train tracks, down one set of tracks was tied two people and down the other there was tied three people. If a train was coming down the tracks toward the three people and the only possible way to avert the train was to flick the switch and send it to the two people, would you do it? Would you choose to save the three people by actively killing two or save the two people by allowing three to die?

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  83. @Sapient 7:52 PM

    For the mean time, I would like to see how Toad dances.

    Badly! I suffer from chronic pain syndrome, and it causes pseudo-sciatic pain in my left leg, which cramps up all the time and makes me look like a dork on the dance floor.

    It does the same during sex sometimes, which is embarrassing. I guess the one bonus is I can still get my dick up…

    Now, where where we going, Sapient? I’ve had the snip, so at least the abortion issue isn’t one that could personally involve me. But Vicky32, if by some chance a woman were to get pregnant by me, it has nothing to do with me whether she decides to abort the fetus or not.

    Men have the choice of buggering off and providing little or no support for their children, and the Child Support Act facilitates that.

    A woman who gives birth to a child whose father is no longer around doesn’t have that choice.

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  84. @Vicky32 8:10 PM

    Um, how do you know what God says? Or how do you know God even exists?

    Trying to enter theological superstition in to epidemiological discussions doesn’t help. Stick to the evidence, because you have no more evidence for God’s existence than I have for her his non-existence.

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  85. Toad,

    By dancing I, of course, mean debating.

    I can not argue with someone whom believes something is right because God says so other than to question the basis of that claim. Likewise, I can not argue with a deontologist other than to suggest their philosophy is severely lacking. You on the other hand, should be able to debate such quite well. That, and I had guessed that abortion would be one of your strong points; I don’t really know why.

    I would note here, that I tend to apply the term deontology to all non-utilitarian moral philosophies rather than strictly to the non-consequentialist rule-adhering lot.

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  86. @Sapient 8:45 PM

    It probably is. But this thread is about rape. Much as I would like to engage in a debate about abortion here (and from her blog I know QoT would too), that would be threadjacking.

    What’s more, as a man, I am much more passionate about the issue of rape than I am about abortion. That is because rapists in the vast majority are men, and it is up to men like us who consider the abuse of women unacceptable to challenge our peers and try to stop it happening.

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  87. I believe that things God says are wrong, are wrong because they harm other people – by and large, I can’t think of anything God says is wrong, that is purely arbitrary. Before we proceed, I want to point out that (a) I am not a Catholic, so no, I don’t consider contraception is wrong, and I don’t believe that God said so…
    Also, I am a Christian, so I am unimpressed with the Jewish laws about mixed fabrics… and I hold no brief for such laws…
    Murder, killing, war, adultery, theft, abortion, all these violate the commandment to love one’s neighbour as oneself…

    Just in case you don’t understand Sap’s explanation of why there’s no point in arguing with someone who holds your views, try to understand that what you said above boils down to: Nothing god says is wrong, so long as it’s my god were talking about. Brings to mind a favourite quote from Stephen Roberts:

    I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

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  88. Stick to the evidence, because you have no more evidence for God’s existence than I have for her his non-existence.

    Hey toad, I agree with the sentiment when it comes to arguments on blogs, but some like Victor Stenger argue quite strongly that there is more evidence for non-existance than existance, at least for an Abrahamic god. See Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/the-evidence-against-god_b_682169.html

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  89. My point is that it is rational and logically consistent to say that a person does hold some degree of blame if that person could have taken a different route with a lower probability of the undesired event.

    Which is a fine point, I just really, really respond poorly to it in the context of an issue where “blame” isn’t simply an objectively-measured thing. Also, I return to my earlier points about “probability” – when the probability of my being assaulted is *massively* increased by being near *any* man, in my own residence, I simply reject any notion that drinking/wearing “slutty” clothing/going out at night is somehow a clear and obvious increase of risk. Personal anecdata, since Vicky already brought it up: I have gone out late, worn stilettos, gotten off-my-face drunk and walked home in the dark. And the only time in my life I have felt close to being at risk of sexual assault occurred in my own home, with a then-good friend. If there is any black-and-white risk system for determining one’s chances of rape, it is certainly not the “behave like a good girl” model put forward by basically everyone.

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  90. QoT,

    Indeed, I was arguing an ‘is’ while you were arguing an ‘ought’.

    If there is any black-and-white risk system for determining one’s chances of rape, it is certainly not the “behave like a good girl” model put forward by basically everyone.

    Indeed, though historically, and probably now, the “behaving like a good girl” model also involves not speaking up about it.

    I think there are ways to essentially nullify the chances, they are just not palatable (i.e. a fortress of solitude). From there we get greater risk with more and more palatable options. I think the best tactic is to study humans and learn what to look out for and then be very careful about whom you let close; but then again I am the kind of person whom frequently burns bridges.

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  91. No fear, Sapient, we’re still entirely at odds when it comes to this magical “you can tell a rapist from miles off” talent you claim to have.

    And acting like it’s an intellectual exercise when it comes to “all things carry risks” arguments is still something I’m really never going to let slide in rape-culture discussions because wow, this context thing is totally important!

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  92. Mention rape and some people start falling over themselves to assess how much the survivor is to blame. Criticise the cops and people come back with the “take them (presumably warts and all) or leave them” response, or the “few bad apples” response. How can you understand these issues if you have to individualise each case? The problem is a culture – the cops are trained to be coercive, to lie, and to dominate in order to get answers to their questions and control people’s behaviour. I wonder if – in their nine months – they ever get trained how to leave this at work when they go home or go out for the night. I have seen ridiculous behaviour by cops because they can’t get out of this coercive mode from the trivial (“Who’s in charge here?”) to the appalling (slipping into a coercive mode when interviewing someone whose friend had just died in an accident). I have little doubt many if not most cops are coercive in their relationships – it’s what they are trained in.

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  93. QoT,

    No fear, Sapient, we’re still entirely at odds when it comes to this magical “you can tell a rapist from miles off” talent you claim to have.

    I can, but to be fair I have studied humans my whole life, am far more intelligent than most people, and am working on my second degree in the subject area. I think we have established that you will not accept my claims regardless of what I say and thus there is little point continuing the conversation.

    And acting like it’s an intellectual exercise when it comes to “all things carry risks” arguments is still something I’m really never going to let slide in rape-culture discussions because wow, this context thing is totally important!

    It is an intellectual exercise; the assignment of blame is purely philosophical and, once we have established that nothing excuses the rape, it has no bearing on the world apart from how it informs actions. We can say that the victim shares blame or that they do not share blame, we can do so regardless of the truth of the matter. Ultimately, we must chose the path which will minimise harm and I would suggest that the best, and most effective, way to do this is to acknowledge that there is some degree of blame. By acknowledging a position that can actually be backed up logically we have a solid foundation and from there we can attempt to bring to peoples minds the idea that rape is not okay even if the victim did increase the odds. By saying that they have no blame we take an illogical and ideological position and have no chance whatsoever of convincing those partisan to that position. As an added bonus, acknowledging that there are things that increase the probability allows us to encourage behaviors which will prevent rape; I believe that there are presently a number of adds trying to do just this by targeting binge drinking and walking home alone.

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  94. “Say that there was a fork in a set of train tracks, down one set of tracks was tied two people and down the other there was tied three people. If a train was coming down the tracks toward the three people and the only possible way to avert the train was to flick the switch and send it to the two people, would you do it? Would you choose to save the three people by actively killing two or save the two people by allowing three to die?”
    Always with the hard questions, hey? :D Well, let’s see… Yes, things which are wrong are *always* wrong – I can see no possible justification for rape for instance – ever! Or murder. As for that dilemma, the Beeb had a prorgramme about it recently – I heard the trailers but missed the programme sadly. I’d love to go for a 3rd option, me, if there was such a thing – but lacking a 3rd option, I suppose I’d want to save the greater number of people – that is, save 3 at the expense of two..
    Thank God I’ll never be in such a position!
    Deb

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  95. ” Nothing God says is wrong, so long as it’s my God were talking about. Brings to mind a favourite quote from Stephen Roberts:

    I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
    Hello Valis, I have to say I don’t know who Stephen Roberts is… I understood your quote to have come from Douglas Adams, or was it Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens? They all claim to have originated that quote… :D
    I’m willing to bet that I have read more atheist books/sites than you have read religious ones… still, it’s all off topic hey?
    However, I’d just like to say that God isn’t “my” God, God is (potentially) everyone’s God. There ain’t a plethora of gods running around waiting to be claimed. Of course I can’t prove God’s existence, and truth isn’t decided by majority vote – but surely there’s something meaningful in the fact that theists of all sorts out-number atheists/agnostics world-wide by probably 1000-1!
    Deb

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  96. Vicky,

    I have no idea what the beeb is, but that mind game is probably the most common way to distinguish between deontologist and consequencialist ethics. There are a number of variations. The deontologist, believing actions to hold the virtue themselves, would claim that through killing the people be your action you are committing evil even though you are saving more people than you would have done through your inaction as inaction is not an action. The consequencialist would save the three rather than the two (assuming equal per person value) as they believe the virtue to lie in the results rather than the action itself and thus action and inaction are the same.

    You seem to display an interesting split here. You say that murder is always bad, that is it can never be good, but you would choose to kill two so that you may save three rather than back away. So you are speaking as a deontologist but your statements as to why gods word is good and what you would do in that situation suggest you are a consequencialist. I, as a utilitarian (a form of consequencialist), do not see anything as inherently wrong; even murder can be justified and good if the good done by the murder outweighs the bad (i.e. kill one person save a entire city of people from a nuclear bomb).

    As a utilitarian I look at the consequences for society as a whole rather than the individual and I justify abortion based on the harm that would result from not allowing women such control over their own reproduction.

    Hello Valis, I have to say I don’t know who Stephen Roberts is… I understood your quote to have come from Douglas Adams, or was it Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens? They all claim to have originated that quote…

    Well, really, it is incredibly old. The quote is just attributed to that individual because he was the first person to phrase it in that manner and he did so in a signature at the dawn of the internet. Just luck really. It was rapidly adopted by many because it is a brilliant and simple way to phrase it.
    The people you cite have certainly said similar things, but that exact wording belongs to Roberts. As I said, the theme is really quite old, being one of the most popular routes to atheism.

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  97. P.S In NZ we have 56.5% theist, 34.3% non-religous, and the remainder are non-theist religions or not identified(as of 2006).

    Given that many followers of the Abrahamic faiths are not actually theistic so much as deistic, it is likely far bellow 56.5%.

    If one wants to look at numbers as evidence; education and degree of theism are inversely correlated both on the individual and nation-wide scale, and atheism is the worlds fastest growing form of religious identification. Additionally, atheists are the third largest identified group world wide (1.1 billion atheist, 1.5 billion islam, and 2.1 christianity).

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  98. The Beeb is the BBC, in this case, the World Service…
    “The deontologist, believing actions to hold the virtue themselves, would claim that through killing the people be your action you are committing evil even though you are saving more people than you would have done through your inaction as inaction is not an action”
    There’s my problem! Inaction in this case is an action… but killing people is evil, even if one is more or less forced into it, such as in this situation. Hence my desire for a 3rd option…
    No, murder (any killing, so I am against all war as well), is *always* an evil. Period as my Mum used to say.
    It’s goes without saying, that I oppose your equation of atheist = clever, educated person, believer = moron. It’s just not true!
    Atheism may be the fastest growing belief system, but as I said, truth isn’t a popularity contest! I simply suggested to Valis and people like her, that although they’re currently the top fad, that doesn’t really mean anything…
    Deb

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  99. However, I’d just like to say that God isn’t “my” God, God is (potentially) everyone’s God.

    They all say that! And all with no evidence.

    There ain’t a plethora of gods running around waiting to be claimed.

    Certainly no plethora in reality, I’d say not even one, yet people claim them, hundreds over human history, and all just as likely as any other.

    Of course I can’t prove God’s existence, and truth isn’t decided by majority vote – but surely there’s something meaningful in the fact that theists of all sorts out-number atheists/agnostics world-wide by probably 1000-1!

    Sap has put paid to your numbers, but there is something meaningful, I agree. There are good evolutionary theories for why we believe in things that have no evidence, like that early human children who believed what they were told by their parents were more likely to survive their youth and reproduce. But that didn’t require that they distinguish between what was true and false. Also, being the first species that can ask profound questions, it seems we must also have answers and will make them up where they don’t exist.

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  100. Oh Valis, I so don’t want to have this argument with you here! I go to the Dawk site, and so far have seen no argument from you that I haven’t previously seen there…
    “like (sic – should be ‘such as’) that early human children who believed what they were told by their parents were more likely to survive their youth and reproduce.”
    Do you remember being a child? Have you ever had a child? It’s child nature to reject everything your parents tell you, especially about religion! All these evo-psycho (as Elaine Morgan calls them) ‘just-so’ stories make me laugh…
    Deb

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  101. Vicky,

    There can be no third option, though everyone would desire one. The entire point is the forced choice.

    I would suggest that inaction is an action, as you mention. If you allow the three people to be killed then in a very real sense you are killing them, even though it is through choosing not to do something. Likewise, if you divert the train, you are killing the two.

    Even if you consider killing to be inherently immoral, so long as you perceive inaction to be an action, you are committing a gross immorality, relative to if all were to survive, in both instances rather than just when you divert the train. Thus, the options a equal in terms of how blameworthy you are. So, assuming that the lives are valued equally, you are faced with committing two persons worth of evil or three persons worth of evil. Given that you have no third option, if you choose to do three persons worth of evil you are maximising the evil done and thus doing both gross and net evil. If, on the other hand, you choose to do two persons worth of evil you are minimising the harm and doing gross evil but not net evil. In fact, you are doing net good as compared to your only other choice you have done negative one evil. Because of this, killing those two people may actually be considered good, indeed it may be the only good choice one could make. In this situation the act of killing those two has become good because the result of the killing those two is more favorable than the result of not killing those two. Killing, thus, can be moral.= given the correct circumstance and cannot be inherently bad as that would necessarily introduce contradiction.

    ~*~*~*~

    I am not saying that atheist = smart and theist = moron. I am saying that there is generally an inverse relationship. This happens because smarter people tend to question more thoroughly while stupid people tend to want the, apparent, simplest answer. Smart people tend to find god-did-it unsatisfying and stupid people tend to find “this because of this because of this” unsatisfying. It is not a universal but a general rule; my best friend is quite intelligent but a devout theist.

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  102. Oh Valis, I so don’t want to have this argument with you here!

    Your choice, but I’m betting you’re not done yet.

    I go to the Dawk site, and so far have seen no argument from you that I haven’t previously seen there…

    So?

    “like (sic – should be ’such as’) that early human children who believed what they were told by their parents were more likely to survive their youth and reproduce.”
    Do you remember being a child? Have you ever had a child? It’s child nature to reject everything your parents tell you,

    Yup, three kids, all very gullible when they were young about things they couldn’t know otherwise. So you and your kids didn’t believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny? I did and mine sure did. Telling them about god is no different.

    especially about religion!

    So just how does the religion meme (since you like Dawkins) get transmitted from one generation to the next? Are you a christian because you made a totally independent, rational decision as an adult, or because you were born to christian parents who planted it in your head when you were a child? Have you any doubt that you’d be a jew or muslim if you were born in another country?

    All these evo-psycho (as Elaine Morgan calls them) ‘just-so’ stories make me laugh…

    Laugh if you want, but I offered a theory that can claim to be logical at least. You have offered nothing at all.

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  103. Valis,

    If I remember correctly, Vicky claims to have been brought up atheist, to have had atheist parents, and to have converted only after childhood.

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  104. I see and sorry I missed that, but that some change their beliefs later in life doesn’t change the the argument at all, not that you’re saying it does.

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  105. Sapient, I am amused that you concede your theist friend to be ‘quite’ intelligent! Does s/he know you feel so patronisingly toward them?
    I follow your somewhat tortuous reasoning according to which killing can be moral, but I disgree. In this forced choice, killing is still wrong – but unavoidable. A lesser evil if you want, but still evil… like Yuri Gagarin crashing the plane he was test-flying – he could have landed safely had he been prepared to kill a number of other people. As it was he killed one person (himself). Still a bad choice, still killing, still wrong, but less wrong than killing 50 people!
    Valis, as I said, I don’t want to have this argument with you, and I stand by that. (The discussion with Sapient is different, as it’s about issues much more intrinsically interesting.)
    You said: “So you and your kids didn’t believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny? I did and mine sure did. Telling them about god is no different.”
    No and no. My kids didn’t believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny. Neither did I as a kid. (In fact, my father took me aside when I was 9 and asked me to let my little sister down gently but explain to her that Santa wasn’t real. Kind of him – not!)
    As for God, I was brought up by parents who were then, atheist and agnostic. So, maybe when I went in search of God I was proving my point and rebelling against what the parents told me?
    “So just how does the religion meme (since you like Dawkins)”
    I read Dawkins, I never said I like him!
    ” Are you a christian because you made a totally independent, rational decision as an adult”
    Yes
    ” or because you were born to christian parents who planted it in your head when you were a child? Have you any doubt that you’d be a jew or muslim if you were born in another country?”
    Sapient has answered you (above). I was brought up by an atheist father and an agnostic mother. Yes, I do doubt that very much – religion is something Sir Lord Herr Dawkins likes to call a meme, but that’s just his little sneer. Religion and the desire for it is innate in human nature, and takes a lot of suppressing (as you no doubt know). I am not a Jew and I am not a Muslim, because I am unpersuaded of the truth of these faiths.
    “Laugh if you want, but I offered a theory that can claim to be logical at least. You have offered nothing at all.”
    Neither am I going to… I am under no obligation to spoon-feed you! You’re an intelligent woman (or more likely, man) so you can find the pro-God arguments for yourself, if you wanted to, but it seems to be you’d much rather not…

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  106. Valis, as I said, I don’t want to have this argument with you, and I stand by that.

    Of course.

    (The discussion with Sapient is different, as it’s about issues much more intrinsically interesting.)

    So why waste so many more words on this issue?

    You said: “So you and your kids didn’t believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny? I did and mine sure did. Telling them about god is no different.”
    No and no. My kids didn’t believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny. Neither did I as a kid.

    Did your parents tell you they were real? And how is a child’s belief in god any different?

    As for God, I was brought up by parents who were then, atheist and agnostic. So, maybe when I went in search of God I was proving my point and rebelling against what the parents told me?

    You say you made the decision as an adult, yet see it as rebelling against your parents? I find that odd. But no matter, as I accept there are people who do change their beliefs, just as I was raised a Catholic.

    ” or because you were born to christian parents who planted it in your head when you were a child? Have you any doubt that you’d be a jew or muslim if you were born in another country?”
    Sapient has answered you (above). I was brought up by an atheist father and an agnostic mother.

    He didn’t answer my question, only informed me I had the orientation wrong. It doesn’t matter what belief was planted in your head. The question is did it come from your parents and did you believe it (for however long, apparently into adulthood). So in your case, the question is were you an atheist when young and if so, was it for a reason other than that you lived in a house with people who talked about there being no god rather than there being a god?

    Yes, I do doubt that very much – religion is something Sir Lord Herr Dawkins likes to call a meme, but that’s just his little sneer.

    You read his stuff, but don’t seem to understand it. He refers to any culturally transmitted idea a meme and there’s no reason to sneer at the idea. And religion is obviously culturally transmitted – but then you’re arguing it isn’t and that each person comes to their beliefs independently? How do you explain that christians tend to be concentrated in certain geographic areas, muslems in others, hindus etc?

    Religion and the desire for it is innate in human nature,

    A god gene is an interesting possibility, but I don’t think it obviously true. It could be just a huge desire for answers, with a preference for delusion to no answers at all – all those creation myths can’t all be correct, right?

    and takes a lot of suppressing (as you no doubt know).

    Most religions in the world (all?) require the suppression of scientific fact to maintain the faith. In my own case, the struggle was to maintain my religion for a time, until the weight of fact and logic could not be denied.

    I am not a Jew and I am not a Muslim, because I am unpersuaded of the truth of these faiths.

    Like Roberts says, we’re both atheists, I just go one god further than you.

    “Laugh if you want, but I offered a theory that can claim to be logical at least. You have offered nothing at all.”
    Neither am I going to… I am under no obligation to spoon-feed you!

    Your choice of course, but arguing without solid logic or evidence does rather open you to some derision.

    You’re an intelligent woman (or more likely, man) so you can find the pro-God arguments for yourself, if you wanted to, but it seems to be you’d much rather not…

    Silly, I’ve read every pro-god argument I can find, but none are convincing. Frances Collins claimed to offer evidence even, and he’s a very respected scientist so I read with interest, but all he had was recycled CS Lewis. But I’m always on the lookout for new arguments. Got any I could consider, or just the same old discredited stuff as everyone else?

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  107. Vicky,

    Sapient, I am amused that you concede your theist friend to be ‘quite’ intelligent! Does s/he know you feel so patronisingly toward them?

    What do you mean by patronising in this context? ‘Quite’ is not patronising, especially as I have incredibly high standards relating to intellect. I know that some people seem to think the word to mean ‘a little’ or ‘small, just in case you are one such person, I attach a definition below.

    1) (manner) Completely; wholly; entirely; perfectly.
    2) (degree) To a great extent or degree; very; very much; considerably.
    3) (degree) To a moderate extent or degree (tone of speech will often indicate this almost conflicting usage)

    If you mean, however, my opinions relating to theism then yes. He knows what they are and he frequently asks questions regarding them and the science that informs them. Unfortunately, he has decided that whatever is in the bible must be true and thus that God only wants it to look like the earth is as old as it appears, etc..

    I follow your somewhat tortuous reasoning according to which killing can be moral, but I disgree.

    Yes, that was my first time writing that argument and in all honesty it just happened to turn in to one by itself half way through. I will have to work on that one.

    Still a bad choice, still killing, still wrong, but less wrong

    Hmm, okay. So, hurting people is wrong and killing is wrong because it hurts people? If this is so then is there a point where you will kill one person to save the suffering of others? Will you kill one person to save 20 from torture if, again, your only choice is between those two? I am rather interested in your answer to this.

    religion is something Sir Lord Herr Dawkins likes to call a meme, but that’s just his little sneer.

    Well, no. A meme is a legitimate existence; meme propigation being very mechanism through which our culture is transmitted. Religion is certainly a meme in that it is a cultural phenomenon. Calling it a meme does not imply that it is a negative.

    I am not a Jew and I am not a Muslim, because I am unpersuaded of the truth of these faiths.

    What is it about these faiths that you find unpersuasive? What is it about the Christian faith that you do find persuasive?

    Religion and the desire for it is innate in human nature, and takes a lot of suppressing (as you no doubt know)

    I was kicked out of my Catholic intermediate/secondary for debating with the religious education teacher in an honest attempt to see what others saw as the evidence for God. My heritage is Irish Catholic, all of my family is Irish Catholic, and at that point all of my friends were Catholic or Christian. I never believed in God; I desperately tried to and never could. I believed some pretty wacky stuff but even I could not convince myself of Gods existence despite years of trying. For me what took suppressing was reason, what was innate to me was not religion but atheism. I wanted to believe in God not because of a pull to God but because I was chronically depressed and nihilistic while all the Christians around me appeared happy and with purpose; I thought “maybe if I find God I can be happy”. I have solved my nihilism long ago and I have learned that my depression is not a result of not having God in my heart but of neurotransmitter problems; with this I feel absolutely no attraction to God what-so-ever. It is a myth that humans are drawn to god; humans are drawn to what the religious promise, be it company or the many things they are unable to provide.

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  108. Vicky,

    I should clear up that thing relating to my theist best-friend.

    He is intelligent: he can easily solve problems, see answers others cannot, and understand.

    He is also stupid/naive: he does not question the world, he just takes it as it is; he falls for all of the fads like homeopathy, raw-foodism, etc.; and he is constantly being exploited by people with less than pure intentions, he is learning in this respect but it has taken a while.

    He can understand and formulate arguments for and against God but, as he says, he has surrendered his mind to God. If it is in the bible it must be true and as far as he is concerned that is satisfactory.

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  109. “Did your parents tell you they were real?”
    I don’t think so… Possibly. I know my father wasn’t too keen on the Santa/Easter Bunny thing, my mother might have been, I put that down to different cultures (my father was from England, my mother from an upper class NZ/Scottish background.

    “You say you made the decision as an adult, yet see it as rebelling against your parents? I find that odd. ”
    I said ‘maybe’, and if we were speaking face to face, you could have heard that I was mostly being humorous…

    ” So in your case, the question is were you an atheist when young and if so, was it for a reason other than that you lived in a house with people who talked about there being no god rather than there being a god?”
    No, I wasn’t an atheist when I was young. I remember when I was 5 years old asking my father to tell me about God, and being very taken aback by his answer. So, I do remember that as far back as I can remember, I took God’s existence for granted, and couldn’t understand why my parents didn’t. Before you ask, no, I didn’t have grandparents, aunt, uncles etc from whom I could have learned theism. Elderly, immigrant parents who died young, so I have no clue about where they formed their ideas!
    “How do you explain that christians tend to be concentrated in certain geographic areas, muslems in others, hindus etc?”
    Simple – that’s not so! (Except broadly – but not in detail..) The kindergarten where I taught had parents from the Pacific Islands, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, and no way of discerning what religion anyone followed from their race or nationality. We had some interesting discussions over morning tea!

    “A god gene is an interesting possibility, but I don’t think it obviously true. ”
    I say nothing about God genes. Obviously, you and Sapient don’t want to accept it, but people are more than meat machines… :D
    “Your choice of course, but arguing without solid logic or evidence does rather open you to some derision.”
    If derision is your choice, knock yourself out – but it just confirms my experience of the superiority complex atheists tend to have, and reinforces my theories about one of the reasons they cling so adamantly to atheism. After all, theism requires some degree of dethroning oneself from centre of the Universe status…
    ” But I’m always on the lookout for new arguments. Got any I could consider, or just the same old discredited stuff as everyone else?”
    So you can practise some more derision? Don’t thnk so! :D
    Deb

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  110. “3) (degree) To a moderate extent or degree (tone of speech will often indicate this almost conflicting usage)”
    (That’s my understanding of the meaning of the word ‘quite’ and the way in which I use it. BE as opposed to AmE and New Zealand English, which are both used in New Zealand – New Zealanders are culturally American, which I absolutely am not, which can be awkward.)
    “If this is so then is there a point where you will kill one person to save the suffering of others? Will you kill one person to save 20 from torture if, again, your only choice is between those two? I am rather interested in your answer to this.”
    I seriously hope and believe I shall never be in a position where I have to make such a choice. I might actually do that, kill one person to save 20, if I had no choice, but I would have to recognise that killing that one person was wrong. Necessary but wrong.
    “I thought “maybe if I find God I can be happy”. I have solved my nihilism long ago and I have learned that my depression is not a result of not having God in my heart but of neurotransmitter problems; with this I feel absolutely no attraction to God what-so-ever. It is a myth that humans are drawn to God…”
    I am sorry to hear about your depression – I had a family member who had the same neuro-transmitter issue…
    It’s really not a myth that human beings are drawn to God, I know I was! So were my parents, before they died and my brother and one of my two sisters… even though in the case of my sister, it took more than 35 years after I became the first…
    Deb

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  111. Vicky,

    If derision is your choice, knock yourself out – but it just confirms my experience of the superiority complex atheists tend to have, and reinforces my theories about one of the reasons they cling so adamantly to atheism. After all, theism requires some degree of dethroning oneself from centre of the Universe status…

    I am sorry, but that is one of the most absurd things I have heard/read recently. Yes, theism involves admitting God, a higher being. That, though, does not mean it is dethroned relative to atheism. Theism postulates that we are created with a purpose in mind and that this entire universe and all of history was for us. While it is true that atheism does not acknowledge a higher being in the form of God, it does not in any way deny the possibility of far more intelligent life forms and, when it comes down to it, pretty much just says we are star-dust. As Carl Sagan once said “We are start dust contemplating star dust”.

    That’s my understanding of the meaning of the word ‘quite’ and the way in which I use it. BE as opposed to AmE and New Zealand English, which are both used in New Zealand – New Zealanders are culturally American, which I absolutely am not, which can be awkward

    I cannot stand American English, I adopt British English (not English English :P). The meaning for ‘quite’ which I use is number 2. I do not believe that I have seen number 3 used to any meaningful degree.

    I seriously hope and believe I shall never be in a position where I have to make such a choice. I might actually do that, kill one person to save 20, if I had no choice, but I would have to recognise that killing that one person was wrong. Necessary but wrong.

    I think that most people would hope never to make that choice, but such mental games are of great utility and it is certainly something worth contemplating; if only for ones personal moral development.

    This is interesting, you appear to act as if a utilitarian in that you choose the lesser evil, but you appear to attribute value as if a true deontologist in that you still consider the action of choosing the lesser evil to be bad. I guess the next question has to be: if, theoretically, allowing abortion caused less harm to society, and the individuals of which it consists, than not allowing abortion, would you choose to allow abortion? Here, ignore the facts of the matter and decide based solely on this theoretical situation where allowing abortion is the lesser evil.

    It’s really not a myth that human beings are drawn to God, I know I was! So were my parents, before they died and my brother and one of my two sisters… even though in the case of my sister, it took more than 35 years after I became the first…

    It, perhaps, would have been more clear for me to say that it is not the case for all humans rather than that humans are not drawn. Even if you say you felt drawn to God, I must wonder if it was God you were drawn to or something else such as the sense of purpose and meaning, the possibility of an afterlife, or the other things offered by religion.

    Do you pray and how frequently? Do you attend church and how frequently? Do you read the bible and how frequently? Do you help with charity, church events, etc., and how frequently? What I am asking, really, is how far do you go in your devotion. For what reason do you do these things? Do you do them because you genuinely desire to? Because of love for God? Because of love for Man? Because you desire entry to an after life? Etc.?

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  112. “it does not in any way deny the possibility of far more intelligent life forms and, when it comes down to it, pretty much just says we are star-dust. As Carl Sagan once said “We are start dust contemplating star dust”.
    No argument there! My late brother (a Christian) and I, both science fans and writers all our lives… There are squillions of Christians who far from being anti-science, embrace it. The Vatican has an astronomy department, and New Scientist profiled the Vatican’s chief astronomer. Much to their chagrin they couldn’t get him to say anything that would have enabled derision.
    I am reminded that on the Dawk site and others, atheists rather testerically and regularly accuse Christians of solipsism. Methinks they protest far too much! Atheists are like children in that they see themselves as the sum of all things, Christians see the value in other people.
    “(not English English :P )”
    Well, I *am* English, what can I say? :D
    “if, theoretically, allowing abortion caused less harm to society, and the individuals of which it consists, than not allowing abortion, would you choose to allow abortion? Here, ignore the facts of the matter and decide based solely on this theoretical situation where allowing abortion is the lesser evil”
    I am glad you said “Ignore the facts” because there is no world in which what you say could possibly be true. If abortion was the lesser evil, it would have to be allowed *but it would still be evil*!
    “Even if you say you felt drawn to God, I must wonder if it was God you were drawn to or something else such as the sense of purpose and meaning, the possibility of an afterlife, or the other things offered by religion.”
    Deffo, I was drawn to God. I took the existence of an afterlife for granted, so I didn’t need to find religion to find that. In fact, I was a believer in reincarnation, which is not (necessarily) theist, so I separated the two, much as the late Martin Gardner did, when he declared his belief in God but *not* an afterlife…
    “Do you pray and how frequently?”
    Yes, every day.
    “Do you attend church and how frequently?”
    No, I don’t, and haven’t for about
    “Do you read the bible and how frequently”
    Yes, and prolly daily.. I don’t know.
    ” Do you do them because you genuinely desire to? Because of love for God? Because of love for Man?”
    Yes.
    Deb

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  113. “How do you explain that christians tend to be concentrated in certain geographic areas, muslems in others, hindus etc?”
    Simple – that’s not so! (Except broadly – but not in detail..)

    While I said “tend to be concentrated”, I could have said “broadly – but not in detail”. These mean the same thing! Of course people move around now more than ever before, but look at any map or set of statistics of concentrations of world religions and you’ll see the main feature is that they are broadly lumped together.

    Sap and I contend that this is because religions are transmitted culturally. Parents are the main vector, but could be other family or associates. Further that while a few never accept the beliefs of their culture and anyone can decide to change their minds later in life, place of birth is statistically the main determinant of which religious beliefs one holds.

    “A god gene is an interesting possibility, but I don’t think it obviously true. ”
    I say nothing about God genes. Obviously, you and Sapient don’t want to accept it, but people are more than meat machines…

    You keep assuming our intent without any reason to do so. It’s not that we “don’t want” to accept it, but that there is no good reason to do so when the evidence runs in the other direction. The only obvious thing is that we won’t just take your word for it. That is only reasonable.

    – but it just confirms my experience of the superiority complex atheists tend to have,

    It’s not about people. But arguments based on logic and evidence really are superior to those lacking these things.

    and reinforces my theories about one of the reasons they cling so adamantly to atheism.

    I go where the evidence takes me. It is the religious who cling to unsupported beliefs no matter what.

    After all, theism requires some degree of dethroning oneself from centre of the Universe status…

    I’m sorry, but this is silliness as the opposite is true. People used to believe the Earth was the centre of the universe. Then came discovery after discovery showing we were not so special. Scientific progress has been described as a process of knocking humanity of its pedestal. How else could we get to the idea we are meat machines.

    Atheists believe there is nothing after death. Couldn’t get further than centre of the universe status. That is the domain of the religious.

    ” But I’m always on the lookout for new arguments. Got any I could consider, or just the same old discredited stuff as everyone else?”
    So you can practise some more derision? Don’t thnk so!

    Sap and I are being pretty polite I think. You’re obviously up for an argument, so that you don’t want to offer anything of substance can only lead us to conclude you haven’t got anything to offer. Sorry if that offends you.

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  114. It’s really not a myth that human beings are drawn to God,

    It’s quite obvious that his is your opinion and we accept it as such. But it is a wholly inadequate in persuading us to your position.

    There are squillions of Christians who far from being anti-science, embrace it.

    They embrace science to the degree it doesn’t challenge their core beliefs. Quite happy to ditch it otherwise.

    The Vatican has an astronomy department, and New Scientist profiled the Vatican’s chief astronomer. Much to their chagrin they couldn’t get him to say anything that would have enabled derision.

    They should have asked him about natural selection.

    Atheists are like children in that they see themselves as the sum of all things, Christians see the value in other people.

    Ridiculous. Show us a position most atheists would hold that could lead anyone to think such a thing.

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  115. Vicky,

    Agreed, to be a Christian, in the broad sense, is not to deny science. To be a Christian whom takes the bible literally, however, is to deny science by necessity.

    I would make two notes here: The first being that Christianity is founded on misology, the promises of Jesus talk about destroying the wisdom of the wise (referring to those whom utilise logic and reason) and the Book of Revelation talks of Babylon (widely agreed to be Greece and Rome, in this context) as the incarnation of evil itself (being societies based in the application of logic and reason). Indeed, under Christianity scientific progress came to an effective (though not total) halt and those whom held reason above scripture were considered heretics; as were those with a differing interpretation to the church. Which brings me to my second note, if it were not for Saint Thomas Aquinas (and the acquisition of Spain as the Islamic world fell in to their Dark Ages) and his concept of applying reason to scripture and the world to come to know the glory of God, Scholasticism, (applying methods repressed for over 1000 years by the church its self) it is questionable as to if we would have ever emerged from the Dark Ages. Science has its roots in the discovery of God, even if the seed is one of Greek thought. It did not take long to discover that there was no need for God to explain what we observe.(e.g. “I had no need of that hypothesis.” – Laplace)

    I am reminded that on the Dawk site and others, atheists rather testerically and regularly accuse Christians of solipsism. Methinks they protest far too much! Atheists are like children in that they see themselves as the sum of all things, Christians see the value in other people.

    I would hardly accuse Christians of Solipsism, in fact to be a Solipsist (in the commonly used sense) and a Christian are mutually contradictory as a Christian must accept the existence of God, a being other than themselves. In the actual meaning of the word it is not so contradictory but few whom reach that stage actually still believe.

    There are certainly many immature atheists. There are certainly many atheists whom are atheists simply due to rebelling or pain. What, though, do you mean by the sum of all things? I am a atheist and I simply see myself as a device resultant of billions of years of evolution selecting the combinations of genes best able to replicate themselves. I am just a step and if I cease to be the universe cares not. I doubt the universe would care in the slightest if all of humanity suddenly disappeared or warred with nukes. There is certainly a perception of superiority of one over the other. This, though, is the case with every in-group. Christians think it of atheists, atheists think it of Christians. It is a fundimental part of the formation of in- and out-groups.

    I am glad you said “Ignore the facts” because there is no world in which what you say could possibly be true. If abortion was the lesser evil, it would have to be allowed *but it would still be evil*!

    Interesting. I guess the only thing left to ask is what you perceive such evil would do to your future. Would committing such evil, despite it being the lesser of all possible evils, count against your entry to heaven? Would it even support your entry to heaven as you have minimised the evil?

    I took the existence of an afterlife for granted, so I didn’t need to find religion to find that. In fact, I was a believer in reincarnation, which is not (necessarily) theist,

    How did you take the existence of an after life for granted, why did you believe there must be one?

    If you mean cyclic reincarnation then that is not addopted by any theist religion and is decidingly non-theist. If you mean a one-off reincarnation in to your old body (Jew) or a new heavenly body (Christian) then it is almost solely theist (the exception being the one whom has obtained nirvana in some forms of Buddhism).

    I say nothing about God genes. Obviously, you and Sapient don’t want to accept it, but people are more than meat machines…

    For me the meat machines thing is not a conclusion I am trying to support, that is not how science works. The meat machine is merely the conclusion that all the evidence points to and I am unable to refute; it is the conclusion and posistion I am, as a scientist, bound to take.

    As an aside, when quoting it is generally tidier to use [blockquote] … [/blockquote] (replace the square brackets with angled brackets).

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  116. “People used to believe the Earth was the centre of the universe”
    Interestingly, Valis, that’s widely believed by atheists, but it’s actuallhy not true. Aside from crackpot groups in, where else, the USA, no one ever believed in a flat earth, earth as the centre of the universe etc..
    “and the Book of Revelation talks of Babylon (widely agreed to be Greece and Rome, in this context) as the incarnation of evil itself (being societies based in the application of logic and reason).”
    Sapient, I fear you’re jumping to an unwarranted conclusion here… Agreed that Babylon meant Rome, but it wasn’t because Rome was a place particularly devoted to reason and logic, but because it was a place devoted to expansionist terror-mongering (somewhat like Washington today..) :D
    “Would committing such evil, despite it being the lesser of all possible evils, count against your entry to heaven? Would it even support your entry to heaven as you have minimised the evil?”
    I really don’t know – entry to heaven is contingent on, I believe nothing more than God’s grace. I do not that committing such evil would have a bad effect on my psyche…
    “How did you take the existence of an after life for granted, why did you believe there must be one?”
    I really don’t know, I just did! It’s possible my parents did also, I don’t know. But the only time I discussed such things with my mother was after she had become a Christian, and my father was long dead… My baby brother died when I was 3 years old – I am now the only person alive who remembers him… but at that time (when I was 3 years old) that I first remember thinking about it – and I just took it for granted that he had “moved on” to somewhere/something…

    “If you mean cyclic reincarnation then that is not addopted by any theist religion and is decidingly non-theist”
    That’s what I meant, cyclic reincarnation…
    “As an aside, when quoting it is generally tidier to use [blockquote] … [/blockquote] (replace the square brackets with angled brackets).”
    Thanks, I will try that next time… I gather that there are instructions at the bottom of the page, but I have eyesight issues, so I am grateful that you have given those instructions in a font size I can actually *see*! :)
    Deb

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  117. Interestingly, Valis, that’s widely believed by atheists, but it’s actuallhy not true. Aside from crackpot groups in, where else, the USA, no one ever believed in a flat earth, earth as the centre of the universe etc..

    I guess Wiki has been overrun by atheists then. I’m pretty sure Copernicus would disagree with you too, and he never even lived in the US.

    Really, you do make some outlandish claims and I’m starting to wonder if you’re just making things up for fun. But the truth of my other arguments wouldn’t be affected even if you did have this one right.

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  118. Vicky,

    Interestingly, Valis, that’s widely believed by atheists, but it’s actuallhy not true. Aside from crackpot groups in, where else, the USA, no one ever believed in a flat earth, earth as the centre of the universe etc..

    No, that is true for the most part. What is not true is that the flat earth was the only idea around during the dark ages. A round earth was proven well before Christ and certain documents prove that even during the dark ages there were people whom thought the earth was spherical; though it was certainly common thought among the peasantry that the earth was flat. The earth being the center of the universe was a central part of church dogma, though the conclusion was arrived at through Greek thought. The trial of Galileo was over this very matter. The phrase “Eppur si muove” (and yet it moves) is attributed (dubiously) to Galileo upon the church forcing him to recant his idea that the sun, not the earth, was the central feature.

    Sapient, I fear you’re jumping to an unwarranted conclusion here… Agreed that Babylon meant Rome, but it wasn’t because Rome was a place particularly devoted to reason and logic, but because it was a place devoted to expansionist terror-mongering (somewhat like Washington today..) :D

    This appears a reasonable interpretation. To reply I will just link to a Philosophy Professor I happen to watch whom specialises in the Philosophy of Religion and can cover the matter of misology in Christianity more thoroughly than I could hope to. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DETWZ8aKKI0

    entry to heaven is contingent on, I believe nothing more than God’s grace.

    What does God’s grace entail?

    I really don’t know, I just did! It’s possible my parents did also,

    Ah, there is one of the problems with atheism; all it describes is an absence of belief in gods. It does not mean that they do not believe in the supernatural or that they adopt reason. I prefer the term ‘naturalist’ or ‘bright’ over ‘atheist’ any day, ‘naturalist’ or ‘bright’ referring to someone whom holds a world view that does not appeal to supernatural phenomena. Better yet, I prefer the term ‘Pearlist’; these are my people and those I am willing to associate myself with. A ‘Pearlist’ is someone whom considers the best way to derive truth to be through “Physical Evidence And Reasoned Logic”.

    What I am saying, I guess, is that if your parents thought there was an afterlife of some sort and, indeed, you bore the assumption that there must be then they may have been atheists but you were certainly not free of the supernatural meme Valis is talking about.

    I gather that there are instructions at the bottom of the page,

    There are, but they are both overly complex and incomplete.

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  119. “that even during the dark ages there were people whom thought the earth was spherical;”
    Any sailors knew otherwise! (My father’s family came from such a background.)
    ” The earth being the center of the universe”
    Aaarrgghhh! American spelling! Where are my holy water and garlic?
    “The trial of Galileo was over this very matter.”
    Except that it’s pretty well known that his trial was *actually* about political machinations – and his having stuck his neck out too far in political directions…
    “I prefer the term ‘naturalist’ or ‘bright’ over ‘atheist’ any day, ”
    Well, *of course you’d prefer the term bright!* Atheism is a huge ego-boost for you, hey? :D
    “There are, but they are both overly complex and incomplete.”
    I am glad to hear you say that, because I can’t follow them, and the small font size is only part of the problem… I have never studied computing in any way, and every I know I have learned by experiment. In this context however, I am wary of experiment…
    As for God’s grace, that’s a complex issue! If you’re open minded enough, I’d recommend the book “Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning – it’s awesome, and it is the only book which I have ever bought a second copy of. to give to someone else (so as to keep my own copy, which have been read to literal pieces since I got it on sale for $5.95 in about 2001…It’s written for Christians, specifically Catholics, but it has a perfect description about what grace is, and why Christianity is not about rules (even if many people, believers or otherwise, think it is…)
    Deb

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  120. Vicky,

    Any sailors knew otherwise! (My father’s family came from such a background.)

    Any sailors knew otherwise? They knew that the earth was not spherical? I know that there were certainly myths relating to sailing off the edge, are you hinting at that or did you phrase your comment incorrectly?

    Aaarrgghhh! American spelling! Where are my holy water and garlic?

    Indeed, I am at university and I do not have sufficient privileges to change the in-browser auto-correct to British English. As a result, I occasionally miss it when the browser turns my ‘centre’ in to ‘center’ and my s’ in to z’.

    Except that it’s pretty well known that his trial was *actually* about political machinations – and his having stuck his neck out too far in political directions…

    That his heliocentrism was used to attack him and his contemporaries is the telling point, far more so than the motivations behind said attacks.

    I am glad to hear you say that, because I can’t follow them, and the small font size is only part of the problem… I have never studied computing in any way, and every I know I have learned by experiment. In this context however, I am wary of experiment…

    Most tags require a closing tag (in fact, I think they all do according to the latest standards), that is not even mentioned below. To use the ones listed below you need only the opening tag, the content, and the closing tag. A closing tag being the tag type with a / in front of it.

    To make a link, for example, you use [a href="" title=""] … [/a] (with angled brackets) where the href is the link and the … are what you want the link to say. the “title” part can really just be left out.
    The only other ones that are useful to know, really, are [i] … [/i] (italics), [b] … [/b] (bold), and [strike] … [/strike] (text with a line through).

    I’d recommend the book “Ragamuffin Gospel”

    That will have to go on my reading list: the one that includes dozens of books, including all of Dawkins, that I have not yet read as a result of my study. That is to say, I will get around to it in a couple of years :P .

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  121. “Any sailors knew otherwise? They knew that the earth was not spherical? I know that there were certainly myths relating to sailing off the edge, are you hinting at that or did you phrase your comment incorrectly?”
    Well spotted, Sapient, that was me messing up… my comment ought to have been attached to the bit about peasants! The point being that the “lower orders” often knew more than their “betters”… :D
    “Indeed, I am at university and I do not have sufficient privileges to change the in-browser auto-correct to British English. As a result, I occasionally miss it when the browser turns my ‘centre’ in to ‘center’ and my s’ in to z’.”
    Oh I know how that feels… frustrating! I remember years ago when I was studying at UNITEC, being foiled by Microsoft Word – wanting to use the term ‘fora’, (plural of forums) in an essay and being unable to stop Word from turning ‘fora’ into ‘for a’…
    Last week I was relieving at a school, and had the log in and ID card of the bloke I was relieving for – so I created a few documents in OpenOffice (he had it on his computer but didn’t use it!) and set the default to UK English…. I gather he hadn’t noticed or didn’t mind – I saw him on Monday when I was in relieving for the guy at the next desk in the staff room. If he’d minded he could have said! :D
    Deb
    Do read Ragamuffin Gospel when you can get around to it. Manning is a very interesting guy, a former priest who got married, (to a former nun, just like Luther…) a former alcoholic who makes many of his anecdotes about grace in the context of rehab..

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  122. Vicky,

    Let us assume that the least evil is always the most desirable path, morally, to pursue; that is, let us assume that the pursuit of the least evil is always the most right, regardless of what one assumes to be evil.

    If we take this premise then any act which is not in the pursuit of the least evil is less right than the pursuit of the least evil and thus, morally, less desirable than an act in pursuit of the least evil.

    If we may apply this to the train situation then saving the three while sacrificing the two is the most moral choice as it is the least evil. Saving the two while sacrificing the three is not pursuing the least evil and is thus less right than the pursuit of the least evil; that is to say, that choice is wrong.

    We could extend the story further and provide a third route by which nobody gets hurt. If we do this then the third route becomes the lesser evil and thus right while both of the previous options become wrong.

    In a world, though, where you have only those original two options, would a just God see fit to punish you for choosing the lesser evil? I would suggest no as by choosing the path of lesser evil you are minimising the degree to which God’s commands are violated to the best degree you are able. A just God would see that lesser of all possible evils as the better choice and thus, in that situation, the act of killing two people would be the act condoned, indeed commanded, by God and by utilitarian thought; that act of killing would be both right and good.

    The above reasoning jumps around a lot, but what I am trying to convey is that only if God was manifestly unjust would an act always be evil. Assuming evil to be defined in relation to the will of God.

    Given that your statement that what God says is wrong is wrong because it hurts people assumes a just God, the moral status of an act must logically be flexible.

    Killing may be something to avoid as much as one is able, as a general rule of thumb, but it can not be called something that is innately evil.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Valis,

    Please point out any flaws in that argument.

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  123. violence against men is a traditional and basic organizing Principle of our Government.
    If we start at the start we may, in fact, stop.
    A Royal Commission Imho, an ongoing enquiry into such behaviour, may well be overdue.

    Laws are being passed so that Rugby World Cup celebrants may behave worse than the Locals.

    WTF?

    This thread seems durable Cath; mayhap you rapped a Nerve – fairly true!
    Stay with this conversation!
    Me think it long passed due. and we author a needless demise
    Poor Fella my country

    “No man survives when freedom fails, The best men rot in filthy jails, And those who cry ‘appease, appease’ Are hanged by those they tried to please.”:
    Hiram Mann

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  124. No flaws in your logic from where I sit, Sap. I might use stronger language around the avoidance of killing – more than just a rule of thumb – but solely for purposes of packaging.

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  125. It’s incredible that I must agree with Valis, Sapient, but I also, see no flaws in your argument… I think that God is capable of seeing that some situations demand violation of any given ‘rule’ in order to globally do the right thing – as I have said, I don’t think Christianity is about rules, despite the etymology of the word religion…
    Killing is wrong, always has been and always will be – but in judgement God is not unrealistic – and is aware of more than we can ever be – circumstances that may exonerate us when we judge ourselves too harshly. My insistence that however necessary, killing is always evil, has nothing to do with judgement or the fear of it, but is about knowing that the two killed to save three are absolutely not going to be fine about it! Everyone has the right not to be killed – especially for being in the wrong place at the wrong time! So, if circumstances were to force me to violate their right to life – it’s still wrong, however necessary…
    Deb

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  126. Vicky,

    Rights are an interesting concept in and of themselves. I would consider them insufficient in judging an action wrong, though. This is because rights are human creations enforced by society and the state because society, and the people of which it consists, view it as right or moral to grant those rights and in doing so confiscate liberty. To justify something as right or wrong based on the violation of rights thus becomes a circular argument with no force behind; it is only true if you presuppose it to be true.

    You say that killing is always wrong because it harms people, even if in harming those people the least evil is pursued. I would like to demonstrate why this is odd by applying it to other situations not so emotionally loaded.

    Say that you are walking down a street and you have a ten dollar note on you. You pass by two people begging for money so that they may survive. You have the option of keeping the money for yourself or giving it to one (and only one) of the people begging. You can survive fine without that ten dollars. One person, a male, is obviously worse for wear and may experience hunger should you not give him the money. The other person, a female, clutches her child; if you do not give her the money they will probably both experience that same hunger. Hunger is an aversive experience. In this scenario the least evil would probably be to give the money to the female and her child as to give it to the male or to keep it to yourself would increase the harm done. By giving it to the female and her child, however, you deny yourself the use of the money and you deny the male the use of the money and thus sentence him to hunger; in doing so you have caused harm both to yourself and to the male. Regardless of the choice made you cause gross harm. If causing gross harm is always wrong, regardless of the specific situation and even if there is no net harm, then every choice you could possibly make here is to be always wrong.

    Do you see what I am trying to get at here? There is almost always (maybe even always) harm done by every action you make. If the merit of an action is to be judged in the presence of gross harm rather than net harm then we are in a Catch 22 situation where pretty much everything we can do is wrong.

    As an aside, do you consider the intention or the consequence of an action to be what matters? It is something I often wrestle with. For example, if you could only save one of the two sets of people we have been talking about (in the train situation) but you think that you could save them all and you try to save them all but fail to save any, did you do the right thing in that you tried to save them all or did you do the wrong thing in that you failed and the three people died anyhow?

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  127. As far as the two people begging in the street goes, I’d go for a 3rd option here! (Nip into a shop and get change, and give the woman and her child $4.50, the man $3.50 and keep $2.00 for myself… ) There’s something wrong about a society where people have to beg, however, and this is where I would normally put on the anti-capitalism hat…
    Intention or consequences? I tend to, on first thought, go for intention. I would want to save them all, and so I would try and fail… I believe I would have done the right thing providing of course that I was genuine in my belief that I *could* save both sets… If I had merely made the attempt knowing I’d probably fail, then I am wrong – I was just trying to help myself in that instance!
    Deb

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  128. Vicky,

    That third option (actually a forth) does not nullify that gross harm is done, it merely displaces it; even if that solution is the least evil. You have still done harm to the female in that you have given her less money than you could have and thus her ability to avoid starvation is compromised more than it would have been were the full amount given to her. The exact same thing goes for the male and a similar thing for yourself. If you were to withdraw a further ten dollars you would be depriving yourself further and you would still be harming the one you gave the first ten dollars to in that you did not give them the additional ten dollars.

    Yes, that is approximately my position also. Is the solution, though, judged on the knowledge the person has, the knowledge available in retrospect, the knowledge the person could have had if they waited longer to act, the knowledge the person could have had if they had listened at school, etc.. I think the answer is somewhat murky and a lot less definite logically.

    Capitalism is merely a system. I do not like it in the least but it is a lesser, though not the least, evil given the present state of humanity. It is my hope that we can move to a superior system as the species and our technology advance. The big thing we are off on at present is the culture that operates within the system; capitalism could work very well with a different cultural outlook among the individuals which make it function. Socio-capitalism, as NZ has, could work almost as well but with a far wider range of cultures; though we still do not meet said cultures sufficiently.

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  129. I really would like to think you’re right, Sapient that capitalism could work well with a different cultural outlook – as things are, it’s not working at all! The dilemma of the beggars shows that. As things are, if private charity is needed, it inevitably fails and harm is done! (As your example shows.) In reality I can’t even give $1.50 to a (very good!) busker on Queen Street – I am on UB…
    Deb

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  130. Vicky,

    Meh, I borrow $160 per week to live. But I suppose at least I get a few qualifications out of it, so its not so bad.

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  131. I’ve been there done that… I have the qualifications, and I am still trying to get the job, sigh….
    Good luck! What are you doing – philosophy? (Presumably not as a major, if so..) :)
    Deb

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  132. Vicky,

    No, at the moment I am doing my Masters in Psychology and also training up in Neurophysiology. I only ever took a single philosophy paper in undergrad; I could not really justify taking more. I would love to do so, just as I would love to learn post-grad level physics, but I really don’t have the time or the money for, at the least, the next three years.

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  133. I’ve done psychology as part of a degree in education, and two other courses in teaching (so I have done psychology 3 times but never in depth) – for people with disabilities and ESOL… It’s a pity that the system constrains us to consider money first…
    Deb

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  134. Vicky,

    What aspects of psychology have you covered? It is a very wide field.

    When I start my doctorate I intend to start a you-tube video series covering many of the important areas of psychology. Targeted, of course, at students of psychology and the layman but covered in sufficient depth that one can come to understand how humans really operate. To be completely honest, an undergraduate degree in psychology is incredibly general and incredibly shallow; it is mostly about acquiring critical analysis and reading skills and learning how to write. The skills are useful, but one does not gain that much knowledge past what one can read on wikipedia except when one pursues the 300-level assignments (and even then it is still not in much depth). That said, people tend to perceive themselves as having gained little while they have gained lots, so I may just perceive that the coverage is such.

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  135. Capitalism is merely a system. I do not like it in the least but it is a lesser, though not the least, evil given the present state of humanity.

    What we see about us is not Capitalism as I know, and what it to be….its a mixed economy at best…capitalist creativtivity crushed and shackled by socialist deadweight focusing on the irrelavances of “equality (of outcome)” and “social(-ist) justice”.

    It is my hope that we can move to a superior system as the species and our technology advance. The big thing we are off on at present is the culture that operates within the system; capitalism could work very well with a different cultural outlook among the individuals which make it function.

    I agree….and that outlook is rational individualism,benevolance,free trade and recognition of the individual rights of all people.Capitalism is not only the economics..its all consenting human interaction…be it friendships and love as well.

    Socio-capitalism, as NZ has, could work almost as well but with a far wider range of cultures; though we still do not meet said cultures sufficiently.

    A true free market capitalist society allows all cultures to thrive as they can best manage as long as no one culture is imposed by force upon any other.It allows people to “opt out” and do their own thing within the bare limits of recognising the exact same right of all others to do the same.In a FM you can live as a Green,a communist,a fascist,a free market liberal,a christian,a muslim, an atheist,gay,bi or straight etc etc…FM capitalism in fact is the ONLY type of societal arrangement that is non contradictory re real human rights and in tune with mans nature as man.Nothings perfect but its by far the closest you are going to get.

    I know you will disagree with the rights point sap but they are indespensible if you are even contemplating creating any kind of civil and functioning society.

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  136. @john-ston When will women give the “nice guys” a chance? Maybe when they get over their own sense of entitlement, stop blaming women for their singledom and look at themselves for the answers as to why they’re still single.

    These “nice guys”, they’re part of the problem too. Women don’t owe it to you to date you.

    True…but then don’t whine and bleat on about how badly you are treated by the bad ones….you hitch up with them and you get what the law of cause and effect always promised you you would.Take some personal responsibility sometime please!

    And actual nice guys don’t blame the victim as you’re doing here.

    Tough.Sometimes the victims need telling to their face as they seem incapable of working it out for themselves.

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  137. James,

    What we see about us is not Capitalism as I know, and what it to be….its a mixed economy at best…capitalist creativtivity crushed and shackled by socialist deadweight focusing on the irrelavances of “equality (of outcome)” and “social(-ist) justice”.

    No, it is certainly not true Capitalism. That is why I referred to it as Socio-Capitalism. It is, as you rightly say, a mixed economy.

    In a Capitalist society with adequate culture there would be no need for forcing people to cede some of their money. However, we are very far from that culture and, frankly, working as if we did have that culture can only cause increased violation of the rights and liberties of others as people are inevitably forced in to poverty. By adopting some degree of ‘Social Justice’ we increase the range of cultures with which the pseudo-capitalist system can function and we minimise the violation of the liberties and rights of others. As per the discussion, regarding the lesser evil, with Vicky, above, the forced confiscation of some income may be justified in that that violation of liberty is less than the violations of liberty likely to happen in its absence given the present, and likely, culture/s. Exactly how much violation is justified is somewhat more dubious.

    I agree….and that outlook is rational individualism,benevolance,free trade and recognition of the individual rights of all people.Capitalism is not only the economics..its all consenting human interaction…be it friendships and love as well.

    I think that benevolence needs to be a central component. Individualism in the sense that the individual ought be able to pursue their own goals would probably also need to be a central component, though there are obvious times where a violation of this principle is justified; crime and war being examples of such. Free-trade really depends on the actual form of the culture, though one could say yes as a general rule.

    A true free market capitalist society allows all cultures to thrive as they can best manage as long as no one culture is imposed by force upon any other.It allows people to “opt out” and do their own thing within the bare limits of recognising the exact same right of all others to do the same.In a FM you can live as a Green,a communist,a fascist,a free market liberal,a christian,a muslim, an atheist,gay,bi or straight etc etc…FM capitalism in fact is the ONLY type of societal arrangement that is non contradictory re real human rights and in tune with mans nature as man.Nothings perfect but its by far the closest you are going to get.

    When I discuss culture I am not referring to different Cultures so much as the mindset prevalent in society toward interaction with others. If the predominant culture, in this sense, in a purely capitalist society is one of selfishness and greed then there is going to be substantial violation of all peoples liberties as a result of the cross-generation impoverishment likely to result. For a purely capitalist society to function it requires that the dominant culture be one of benevolence toward ones fellows.

    I know you will disagree with the rights point sap but they are indespensible if you are even contemplating creating any kind of civil and functioning society.

    The maintenance of liberties and rights is certainly an important part of any functioning society. I, however, do not see any convincing argument as to why humans have innate rights independent of what society chooses to grant; Rand certainly provides none. Instead, as a civil libertarian, I believe that liberty should be the default and rights -that is denials of the liberties of others in certain circumstances- should be granted only where the benefits to the individuals, of which the society exists, in granting those rights exceed the benefits of maintaining the liberties. That is to say, I take a ‘lesser evil’ utilitarian approach to liberty and rights.

    If you wish to discuss or debate liberty and rights in a rational and thought out manner then I am happy to do so. I would point out, though, that this is not the route our previous discussions have taken on this matter.

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  138. Gee, James, I can not imagine why women aren’t lining up to suck your c0ck, you sound like such a sympathetic, caring guy!

    And of course with attitudes like yours I find it equally baffling that anyone can think we don’t take sexual assault seriously in this country!

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  139. Sap: In a Capitalist society with adequate culture there would be no need for forcing people to cede some of their money. However, we are very far from that culture and, frankly, working as if we did have that culture can only cause increased violation of the rights and liberties of others as people are inevitably forced in to poverty.

    I would counter with the point that its the existence NOW of the welfare state and state interference in peoples lives in general that is the cause of this absent “culture” you speak of.And we will never see it come to be while we are doing what we are already doing….that is taking peoples money by force to redistribute to other supposedly in “need”,leaving people with the feeling that “They have already done their bit” and actually hardening them against their fellowman who they are encouraged to see as a threat to their own wellbeing..

    Take away the force and you may be surprised the response you get…that is people,free to sort themsleves out will then willing help their fellows out with no need of a gun in the back.If the State welfare system disappeared tomorrow morning and everyone had their tax moneys back to use as they wished I would bet you money that before the day was through some people would already be setting up charitible delivery agencys for the poor and needy….its what we as humans would do.

    History shows it works…

    By adopting some degree of ‘Social Justice’ we increase the range of cultures with which the pseudo-capitalist system can function and we minimise the violation of the liberties and rights of others.

    Not by violating the liberties and rights of others you can’t.No one is put on earth as a means to the ends of others no matter how great their need….slavery of others is not a right anyone can morally claim.

    As per the discussion, regarding the lesser evil, with Vicky, above, the forced confiscation of some income may be justified in that that violation of liberty is less than the violations of liberty likely to happen in its absence given the present, and likely, culture/s. Exactly how much violation is justified is somewhat more dubious.

    None.Right and wrong are just that irrespective of any scale…

    In your train example my response would be…I would see what I could do to help but if I couldn’t I am still not to blame for any deaths…nor would I feel guilt.I was under no obligation to actually do anything to help in the first place….my life is my own and its not a disposable resourse for the ends of others no matter how great their need nor how sad the results may be.Don’t get me wrong…I would want to assist and would try to do so within my abilities…but in the end I bear no burden of unearned guilt for not saving those people…after all i didn’t put them in harms way in the first place.

    If you wish to discuss or debate liberty and rights in a rational and thought out manner then I am happy to do so. I would point out, though, that this is not the route our previous discussions have taken on this matter.

    Hmmmm….maybe.I think the need and indespensibility of rights to human beings tring to co-exist and prosper in a civil matter is a no brainer.Indeed I could show you many examples in your own life and how you deal with others where its blindingly obvious….but lets agree to save some rsi and leave it there for now.

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  140. James,

    I would counter with the point that its the existence NOW of the welfare state and state interference in peoples lives in general that is the cause of this absent “culture” you speak of.And we will never see it come to be while we are doing what we are already doing

    I would counter with the point that human nature is fundamentally different to that you propose would come about. Humans, essentially from birth, learn to create in- and out-groups; we are agents of discrimination programmed to see a us and a them. There are certainly motives to share with those in need within our groups but those outside are actively exploited and ‘othered’. Given the size of society, and the tendency for humans to split themselves in to classes (those in need being in a different class to those with the ability to provide), it hardly seems likely that a culture would come about under that system which would allow it to function.

    that is people,free to sort themsleves out will then willing help their fellows out with no need of a gun in the back.If the State welfare system disappeared tomorrow morning and everyone had their tax moneys back to use as they wished I would bet you money that before the day was through some people would already be setting up charitible delivery agencys for the poor and needy….its what we as humans would do.

    As above, that is simply not how human societies work. It works on the level of a nomadic tribe (though even they tend to have the gun to the back for many other actions), and that is about it. Past that the group is too large and it is too easy to create factions.

    History shows it works…

    Where? The history of what state? If we go right back to the start of the welfare state, to Egypt, and to a more modern version, Rome, we see that that basic welfare system was implemented exactly because desperate people are dangerous. The welfare systems were implemented because the charity of the citizens was insufficient to prevent the poor from starving and because, as a result, unlawfulness becomes appealing.

    Not by violating the liberties and rights of others you can’t.No one is put on earth as a means to the ends of others no matter how great their need….slavery of others is not a right anyone can morally claim.

    In the absence of society all men are free. There is nothing scarier. In the absence of society man is free to kill and be killed, to rape and to be raped, to produce and to have stolen. Regardless of if man thinks he should have the right to live, his existence is at the whim of others. In coming together to form a society men give up their freedoms; they surrender them to the greater good. By agreeing not to kill other members of the society each member of the society gains a freedom from being killed by other members of society. By giving up that freedom, the right to life is gained. All of our rights come around in a similar manner; society agrees what is to be and those whom violate that agreement are punished. Society can not exist without freedom being compromised.

    This is the defining feature between liberalism and anarchism; the libertarian sees that the society must limit some freedoms. The acknowledgement that the state needs to provide a police force of some kind is an acknowledgement of this very point. To say it must stop at killing or at private property is entirely arbitrary; the restraint of freedom should continue so long as there is a net benefit demonstrated.

    As to slavery, that is exactly what the Capitalist system is. The child being born into the world must work to survive as they have no means of production. If they do not work they do not get feed and they die. It is only through dedicated slavery that the youth may come to own some of the means of production and slowly become emancipated. Property rights, James, are a right to enslave via the right of exclusion.

    None.Right and wrong are just that irrespective of any scale…

    Then you are not a Libertarian, you are not even a Randian; you are an Anarchist.

    In your train example my response would be…I would see what I could do to help but if I couldn’t I am still not to blame for any deaths…nor would I feel guilt.I was under no obligation to actually do anything to help in the first place….my life is my own and its not a disposable resourse for the ends of others no matter how great their need nor how sad the results may be.Don’t get me wrong…I would want to assist and would try to do so within my abilities…but in the end I bear no burden of unearned guilt for not saving those people…after all i didn’t put them in harms way in the first place.

    You are making a distinction between action and inaction. You may not have put the people on the track and thus cost them their lives, but through your inaction you have. As you could have saved them but chose not to, you are the reason they are now dead rather than alive; while you may not have an obligation, you are at fault none-the-less.

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  141. Gee, James, I can not imagine why women aren’t lining up to suck your c0ck, you sound like such a sympathetic, caring guy!

    Sympathy is for people who get broadsided by life through NO fault of their own….people,who through their own failure to think and consider the obvious consequences of their actions ….less so.We do these people no favors by withholding moral judgement of their actions.How else will they learn and change? And quite frankly I am happy to skip a BJ from a whiny,self absorbed evader of facts and reality who wants life to work a she wants it to…..no thanks.

    And of course with attitudes like yours I find it equally baffling that anyone can think we don’t take sexual assault seriously in this country!

    No problem with nailing bastards who assult others….but that doesn’t change the responsibility on the victim to at least think on her own behalf and for her own wellbeing.If a Woman gets herslf blind drunk,strips naked and walks into the local Black Power fortress and gets gangbanged I will still not be able to work up the same level of sympathy for her as I would have for the woman whos woken in the night in her own house by an intruder whos broken in who then proceeds to rape her.

    Judge…and be prepared to be judged.Thats a fact of life as a human being in a social setting.

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  142. James … I’m a little confused that you seem to think those two scenarios are equally likely to occur, or that they are the only two possible scenarios for sexual assault.

    But I guess actually acknowledging that we live in a society in which rape is simply not that clear-cut, and (as mentioned God knows how many times already in this thread) rapists do not walk around with “I will assault you” signs on their heads, would make it too hard for you to feel smug and superior to stupid little women.

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  143. James … I’m a little confused that you seem to think those two scenarios are equally likely to occur, or that they are the only two possible scenarios for sexual assault.

    Sigh….the point you seem unable to grasp is the one about personal responsibility for ones actions and the effects these can have on ones outcomes.The first women contributed greatly to getting the outcome she did…had she not done what she did her chances of being raped were far far less….in the second example the Woman had done nothing to increase her chances of being raped.She didn’t put herself in potential harms way…it had to make an effort to come find her.No these are not the only scenarios possible but they represent the whole crux of this debate….how much,if any,responsibility should a victim of rape…or any other crime for that matter, take for actions they may have carried out that contributed to what happened…?And why should we not be able to pass judgement on these actions?

    But I guess actually acknowledging that we live in a society in which rape is simply not that clear-cut, and (as mentioned God knows how many times already in this thread) rapists do not walk around with “I will assault you” signs on their heads, would make it too hard for you to feel smug and superior to stupid little women.

    As sapient has previously posted it IS possible to recognise warning signs where abusers and rapists are concerned….I have dispaired at some of the blindness female associates of mine have displayed in the choice of the men they choose to be with.The controlling behaviours and mannerisms that were overtly obvious to me and others just never registered with these women…and the results were predictable…

    Maybe its a guys intuition thing…we can see the arsehole factor in other men easier than Women can….who knows?

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  144. James, it would probably help if you read comment threads before repeating the same old crap already discussed on them.

    It’s fairly simple: rapists rape. Rapists choose to rape. Rapists rape regardless of what their victims are doing or wearing or where their victims are. And that’s all true of other types of abusers too. The people who need to take personal responsibility? Are rapists and abusers.

    My sincerest apologies, but I’ve filled my quota of tolerating victim-blaming, slut-shaming bullshit for the month.

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  145. QoT,

    Rapists rape and abusers abuse, this is true as it is a tautology. I think that situation does account for something though; these police gang-bangs are hardly likely to have happened on the street in the middle of town and someone whom abuses their partner tends to do so based on their perception of ownership or desert. Some rapists and some abusers will do so with little regard to circumstance, but I would suggest that they are, by far, in the minority and tend to be imprisoned due to their shear stupidity.

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  146. Sapient, rapes occur in broad daylight. We do not change culture by controlling women’s behaviour. That’s all there is to it, and if you’re going to continue pretending that rape and abuse are easily predictable and easily avoidable and women are just stupid it would be awesome for you to back that up with anything that isn’t just “I’m Sapient and I’m so smart and I say so.”

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  147. OoT….its you who doesn’t read nor,I suspect,really care to think and consider other views.

    Rape is bad…no argument…and no-one here has said otherwise as far as I can remember.

    But many times the victims can often lessen the chances of it happening by applying a bit of thought and preventive self asessment to situations.

    Im a big guy able to take care of myself and I still think twice about where and what I do judging by the context Im in.I don’t walk down dark alleys without being on high alert for trouble and I remove myself from situations when my radar starts pinging.If I do run into trouble my conscience is clear that I didn’t contribute to the situation by my preceeding actions…and if I did I am honest enough to reflect on that and learn a lesson.

    And we don’t have a rape culture in NZ…what we have is some people who rape and they are univerally regarded as scum by decent people of either sex.

    We also have child molesters who fiddle with kids and no-one would say we have a child molestation culture…in the sense that its tacitly regarded as “sort of ok” by a significant number of the populace.

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  148. QoT,

    Of course it does, I provided a topical example of one which would not have happened under those circumstances and thus displayed that situation does matter in some cases. That is to say, I demonstrated that your statement was false.

    I can quote countless examples from personal experience but you will not believe me regardless of what I say and the research that would be required for citation would never get past an ethics committee simply because of the implications.

    What James said about male intuition is quite an interesting point and made me remember a seminar I attended recently on antisocial personality disorder: When it comes to the smarter males with the disorder, a female psychologist will often perceive the individual as charming and not detect anything particularly wrong while the male psychologist will perceive them as manipulative and deceitful. Manipulating females is, after all, what these people do. That deceitfulness and use of aliases is a part of the diagnostic criteria for the disorder and there is controversy over the criteria because they do not include enough emphasis on that superficial charm (as discussed briefly on wikipaedia). In fact, I take the below description from the open-access (an thus legally reproducible while the more in-depth psychologists version is restricted) DSM-5 site (http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=16#).

    Individuals who match this personality disorder type are arrogant and self-centered, and feel privileged and entitled. They have a grandiose, exaggerated sense of self-importance and they are primarily motivated by self-serving goals. They seek power over others and will manipulate, exploit, deceive, con, or otherwise take advantage of others, in order to inflict harm or to achieve their goals. They are callous and have little empathy for others’ needs or feelings unless they coincide with their own. They show disregard for the rights, property, or safety of others and experience little or no remorse or guilt if they cause any harm or injury to others. They may act aggressively or sadistically toward others in pursuit of their personal agendas and appear to derive pleasure or satisfaction from humiliating, demeaning dominating, or hurting others. They also have the capacity for superficial charm and ingratiation when it suits their purposes. They profess and demonstrate minimal investment in conventional moral principles and they tend to disavow responsibility for their actions and to blame others for their own failures and shortcomings.

    I would make the point that personality disorders exist on a continum. That is to say, everyone displays these traits to some degree and there is no threshold over which these become dangerous. The degree to which the individual if manipulative or deceitful can usually be justified fairly easily, but, for those more adapt at hiding it, it can be approximated by reading their other signs and accounting for things like intellect, ability to read and show expressions, reaction to certain stimuli, etc.. Wikipaedia as an adequate page under ‘Psychopathy’, dealing with the most extreme cases.

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  149. “What aspects of psychology have you covered? It is a very wide field.”
    Hello Sapient – at Uni in 1982, it was educational pyschology, with a large helping of child development, then in the late 90s at Auckland College of Education, a general overview followed by the psychology of disability – and then in ’03, a general overview followed by the specifics of linguistics/language aquisition. Our lecturer at A.C.E seemed to be trying to talk us into moving out of the disability field and into transferring what we learned to a business qualification! (It was remarked even by other lecturers that she didn’t quite fit into the culture of “special ed”. :D
    Your YouTube idea is brilliant! Good luck with it…
    Deb

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  150. “If the State welfare system disappeared tomorrow morning and everyone had their tax moneys back to use as they wished I would bet you money that before the day was through some people would already be setting up charitible delivery agencys for the poor and needy….its what we as humans would do.

    History shows it works…”
    As Dickens showed – the treadmills and workhouses worked very well – for the Boss class!
    Then there are the categories of ‘deserving’ and ‘un-deserving’ poor…
    James, as Rand herself seemed incapable of understanding sarcasm, and you may share her defect – I’ll just say “er – no, it didn’t work.”
    Deb

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  151. Vicky,

    Ah, so you would have covered a lot of behavioural psychology? I hope, for your sake, you did not waste too much time on Freud for the developmental or Chomsky for the language acquisition; both nuts.

    The psychology of disability is an interesting area but I would not really call it psychology, it is so culturally and socially determined, and so far away from actual topics of mental functioning, that it is far more in the realm of sociology.

    Skinner’s behaviourism has essentially won out in the form of the cognitive-behavioural approach. The cognitive aspect being a set of heuristics that essentially work as behavioural shorthand and make it easier to understand for the therapists whom do not understand verbally mediated behaviour (but then again, who does).

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    I thought this poll of the three worst philosophers, by philosophers, was particularly telling.

    They are voting, by the way, for the worst.

    http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2009/03/now-heres-a-tough-poll-to-answer.html

    Leo Strauss 5%
    Jacques Derrida 19%
    Ayn Rand 76%

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  152. Hello Sapient,
    Thankfully no Freud! (Yet he was covered in the German paper I did, which was actually about history and culture :) )
    The disability paper also covered such things as autism/aspergers/clinical depression and general mental health issues – fascinating!
    Thanks for that poll information, it’s priceless. I juts went and voted myself – for Rand of course, as I know nothing of Strauss and I don’t think there’s anyone alive who takes Derrida seriously or has been since 1976!
    Deb

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  153. Vicky you would love Freud. :-) A typical women hating dysfunctional misogynist. Has many counterparts today.

    I like Rand for the female counterpart.

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  154. Absolutely right Kerry! From what I know of Freud, he had serious issues about women… It’s fortunate that no one now takes him seriously (or at least I hope they don’t) and Rand’s odd misogyny is well known! (I say odd because it amounts to self-hatred.)
    Deb

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