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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

That’s Not Right

I was going to lead this story with something like this: “I found myself wondering if they had been inspired by So You Think You Can Dance.” Then I realized that it doesn’t really fit my mood right now; not that there isn’t room for humor, but that it isn’t how I want to see this story today. So, instead, this:

I continue to insist that I not only can judge other cultures, but I must judge them so that we maintain a clear-eyed understanding of what distinguishes us from them. We’re told we aren’t supposed to judge and we aren’t supposed to think in terms of us and them--I know this because, like the rest of you, it has been hammered into me from the time I was a child.

It just isn’t done. The problem is that what we were taught is wrong. It is vital for us to be honest and open about other cultures in the world--not in deifying or demonizing those cultures, but in being earnestly critical in the same way that I hope we consider our own culture and politics. With that said, imagine what I think about the culture that gives us a news story like this:

A group of young Muslim men have been publicly flogged in Sudan after they were convicted of wearing women’s clothes and make-up.

The court said the 19 men had broken Sudan’s strict public morality codes.

Police arrested them at a party where they were found dancing “in a womanly fashion”, the judge said.

We need to judge because we need to constantly remind ourselves of what it is that we value as a society and what it took to create something as grand and diverse as the United States of America.

Read the rest.

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Admit it, if the news article said they were dancing to Broadway showtunes, you would have been less sympathetic to them ...

on Aug 04 2010 @ 08:39 PM

"Thou shalt not judge” is logically incoherent. In my culture, there is an imperative to judge the cultures of others.  Telling me that I shall not do this would violate the prohibition on judging other cultures.

I’m rather a fan of General Napier’s response to sati (or “suttee"):

“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

on Aug 04 2010 @ 09:16 PM

Absolutely right. Wonderful quote.

on Aug 04 2010 @ 09:25 PM

Moral relativism is utterly antithetical to the concept of universal human rights. It is a justification for racism, sexism, homophobia, and other assorted bigotry.

There’s no excuse for flogging people who are into Priscilla Queen of the Desert, I don’t care if it is camp.

on Aug 05 2010 @ 06:51 PM

DF, you have the right of it, and that’s what makes me angry when I am faced with people who tell me that I can judge other cultures.

Yes. Yes, I can.

on Aug 08 2010 @ 07:53 PM
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