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Morality 
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Post Morality
I don't believe in God. I used to. When I was a child, my Catholic parents told me that the reason humanity exists is because God created us. They told me that there was only one God, that He was a he, and that He looked like us. And they told me that, as well as humanity, He had created everything else. Animals, vegetables, minerals, mountains, oceans, the whole planet. The solar system, the galaxy, the universe were all God's creation. When I was a child, I never asked how they knew all this. They simply did, and that was good enough for me. But then I grew older. My way of thinking and reasoning about things became more sophisticated. And I started to ask questions.

Eventually, I realized that no one really knew if God existed. Those who believed that He did simply chose to believe so. They had no proof. They relied solely on faith. I couldn't do that. Maybe that's sad, but that's just the way I am. I don't know that God exists, so therefore I cannot believe in Him. At the same time, I don't know that God doesn't exist. The existence or nonexistence of God is fundamentally unprovable. There may be a God, there may not. He may be a he, or a she. There may be a pantheon of Gods. God may be omnipotent, omnipresent, and/or omniscient. But who are we to know?

My inability to believe in a God whose existence I have no knowledge of leads me to question what I do believe is the foundation of any society, a code of morals. If God does exist, He/She/They possibly have some kind of opinion as to what is right, and what is wrong. But as we do not know if God exists, who are we to judge what that opinion may be? All we can honestly do is form our own opinions, and those opinions differ from society to society, from person to person. Some are pro-life, others are pro-choice. Some are for capital punishment, others are against. Some are for censorship, others believe in total and unlimited freedom of expression.

What's the point of all this? I'm asking you to take God, whichever one(s) you may or may not believe in, out of the equation. Consider the possibility that morality is a purely human invention, something that we just made up in order to ensure that before we die, we help each other, and not hurt each other. If humanity did not exist, morality would not exist. There would be no fundamental right and wrong. So let's look at some issues here, and let's try and examine them logically. Forget about God, forget about what your society has taught you. Different societies teach different things. Let's just look at why we think that some things are right, and other things are wrong, and see, from a purely logical standpoint, whether WE are right or wrong.

Let's start with a very simple issue, "bad" language. James has a rule on this board that says that we must keep our language within a "PG-13" level. I do not know why James has implemented this rule. I at least hope, and assume, that the reason is because if we were to "curse" willy-nilly, this board would be deleted by the people who run phpBB.

What is "bad" language? English is one of the most widely spoken languages on the planet. There's probably somewhere in the region of a half a million separate English words. Most of these words normally don't cause any offense. But there are some words that are generally considered "bad". Take the word fuck. It's a four letter word that begins with f. So is four. So is food. So is fair. Yet fuck is the only four letter word that begins with f that people tend to refer to as "the f word". Why? What's wrong with "the f word"? Why is it any less acceptable than the word food? Why can I say food any time I want to, but I can't say "the f word"? Is it because of what it means? What does it mean? The verb to "f word" means to make love to someone, to sleep with them. Those ways of putting it are fine. But to "f word" them? Oh no, you can't say that.

What about the word shit? What does shit mean? It means dung, excrement, feces, or, to use a childish euphemism, poo. Some older kids might be allowed to use the word crap, might. But if even they were to use "the s word", watch out. What's the problem? It means exactly the same thing as all those other words. Dung and even crap are reasonably acceptable four letter words. Yet somehow "the s word" goes beyond the boundaries? Please explain to me exactly where those boundaries lie, because I'm confused. Dung, d-u-n-g, dung. Crap, c-r-a-p, crap. ****, *-*-*-*, ****. See where I have the problem? The letters a, c, d, g, n, p, r, and u are all perfectly acceptable. But the letters h, i, s, and t are not? Why not?

Let's take even the most "taboo" word of them all. Let's look at that infamous four letter word that begins with a c. What's wrong with it? It's a collective noun for a woman's private parts. Do you know how many syllables there are down there? Which would you rather say? Would you rather force several multisyllabic words out, or would you rather be able to use a simple, monosyllabic word to describe the whole lot? I, for one, would choose the latter.

Do ya know what I think is wrong with these words? Why they're so "offensive"? Because we CHOOSE to FIND them offensive. We don't have to. So many kids get a kick out of using so-called "bad" language around their elders to get a reaction out of them. If I had ever used "the f word" in front of my 70-something grandmother when I was a child, she probably would have told my mother to wash my mouth out with soap because I had used a dirty word. I never used that word in front of my grandmother, but if I had, I wouldn't have deserved such an archaic punishment. Because "the f word" is not a dirty word. It's a word. It's a combination of letters, just like every other word in the English language. Just a combination of letters. It isn't dirty. Do I contaminate the air by saying it? Do I soil a page by writing it? No. I do not.

Now, there are of course some descriptive nouns that are often used to offend. Words like n*****, f**, k***. Are these words offensive in and of themselves? No. They're only offensive if we choose to find them offensive. If black people stopped being offended by the word n*****, it would no longer be offensive. Who's gonna be offended? A white person? A black person is the only one who has a right to be offended, and if they're not, where's the harm? These so-called "offensive" words should just be absorbed into the lexicon of "acceptable" words. It should be no more offensive for me, a white person, to use the word n***** than it would be for me to use the word black. Why would I want to use the word n*****? Why not? It's a perfectly good word. If we choose to stop finding it offensive. We have to stop being scared by letter combinations.

Some people might say that there are certain words that young children shouldn't be exposed to. Why? When you're teaching your kid about the birds and the bees, why not tell him that one of the words that's commonly used to describe the process is "f word"ing. He's gonna learn it some time. Does it really matter when? If you don't want him to understand it, don't tell him about the birds and the bees. That's all it means. You're gonna tell him that the man places his penis inside the woman's vagina. Why not tell him he places his c*** in her c***? Save all those wasted syllables.

Let's start changing the way we think about language. A word is just a "f word"ing word.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:31 am
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Post Re: Morality
There is a simple underlying explanation to all this: if these words weren't offensive, no one would use them.

They are used to express anger, surprise, pain... basically ever emotion involving adrenaline. And then there are some people who just interject them randomly into everyday conversation. Which is fine, but borders on being annoying and stupid. They should have a purpose and should emphasize things. If everyone collectively agreed to release these words from their taboo, then they would become useless interjections.

I would however agree that at this present time, rules on swearing should be relaxed. We all think in curse words, but our self control keeps us from spewing them everywhere. People shouldn't be so surprised when these words are spewed.

To your earlier question about morality, I think it's all quite simple. Everyone has a conscience that dictates to them what is right and what is wrong based on the golden rule, "Do unto others as they would unto you." Morals are different; morals are what allow you to either follow or ignore your conscience in daily life. Let's say that your friends want you to hang out with them, but you would rather spend the night by yourself doing other things. You know in your conscience that it would be wrong to ditch them, but your morals are what guide your decision-making process. Personally, I would stay home. I see them enough anyways.

If you think about it, the people with the most relaxed morals are the ones with their priorities in order.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:23 am
Profile
Post Re: Morality
You could have made this nice and short and just said 'nihilism'.


On a more serious note, I do like it when one side can admit to it's fallability. People who say they don't believe in God often prefer to think that they need 'proof' to be considered wrong, when really they can't prove that he does not, and that the believers are 'burdened' with proving that point. What good is that, if a Christian freely admits the limits of man himself? I don't disrespect people who disagree with me, no, I feel like everyone has a right to their belief. But the idea that some people have of being on the 'right' side by default of going against the idea of God is laughable. So, I did like your opening paragraphs. I'm glad you're not here to bash, or at least not in public ;)

As for the use of swears here, well, I don't know how useful the rule itself is aside from being a reminder of the standards James has for this iste, which is admirable. I think it's good that he wants to keep the forums enjoyable and clean, and yes, he doesn't want us to offend newcomers, either. I don't know if the forums would go to hell in a handbasket if we cursed more freely - I may have let the 'f' bomb out once or twice without notice - but I always believe a curse word achieves it's most literal 'peak' in language if used when it is truly warranted, instead of being out of mere crudeness (which is a subjective statement anyways, but what can you do?) or even laziness in selecting words to use when describing my ex-girlfriend (who is a dirty, dirty whore - and that is not subjective :) ). I understand your moral quandary, but nevertheless I don't see how the loosening of moral values will improve anyone's life here, or anywhere. Just me.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:31 am
Post Re: Morality
darthyoshi wrote:
There is a simple underlying explanation to all this: if these words weren't offensive, no one would use them.


So, what you're saying is that people only ever use these words in order to offend? Where's the logic in that? Many people see nothing wrong with these words. George Carlin for example. I never met George Carlin, but I'm sure if I had, and I'd made a remark about bush's f***ing economic policy, Carlin wouldn't have been offended any more than if I'd said "bush's economic policy". Might bush have been offended? Perhaps. But I never said bush would have been there, did I?

How are these words inherently offensive? If they were inherently offensive, surely everyone would be offended by them, all the time. But the truth is that some people find them offensive, and others don't. So I really don't get your logic.

Quote:
They are used to express anger, surprise, pain... basically ever emotion involving adrenaline. And then there are some people who just interject them randomly into everyday conversation. Which is fine, but borders on being annoying and stupid. They should have a purpose and should emphasize things. If everyone collectively agreed to release these words from their taboo, then they would become useless interjections.


Let's take the adrenal argument. I'm Irish. Say I'm in a 70 year old woman's kitchen in Dublin, fixing the plumbing under her sink. I slash the back of my hand. I yell out "F***!" If I had instead yelled out "FECK!", which is a common "substitute" in this country for the word f***, she probably wouldn't have batted an eyelid. Even the elderly use feck. Even priests use feck. But I don't yell out "FECK!" I yell out "F***!", and because of that, I have to apologize to her before I leave her house. Why? Because I substituted the letter u for the letter e? Gimme a feckin' break.

I agree with you that these words shouldn't just be used for shock value. They should be used for a purpose, as should every word, as should the words "shock value". I wouldn't have used those words if I didn't want to get a particular meaning across. So yes, these so-called "curse" words should have a purpose. But, why should they only be used for emphasis? Why shouldn't I use the word f***ing to describe the process of "love making"? To be honest, I think the word f***ing makes more sense than "love making". Love is an abstract concept. How can you make it? You can't "make" love. If you could make love, surely you could sell it. It could become a commodity. You might say it already is for prostitutes. But they don't sell love, they sell sex. Sex is something lovers often engage in, but it's not synonymous with love. Or take the phrase "sleeping together". Let's say I'm in the Arctic, and it's f***ing cold, and before going to sleep one night, I huddle up against somebody else for body heat. Surely you could say the next morning we slept together. We didn't f*** though. F***ing is a simple, no-nonsense word. When not used for emphasis, it only has one other meaning, engaging in sex. Now you might say that making love only means engaging in sex. Sleeping together only means engaging in sex. No one finds those phrases confusing. No one asks the question, how do you "make" love? Well what's confusing, or offensive, about f***ing?

Finally, you say that if people stopped finding these words offensive, then they'd become just useless interjections. No they wouldn't. It'd be useless to use them for the purpose of offending anyone. But they could still be used for emphasis when angry. They could still be used as expressions of sudden pain. They could still be used as nouns. F***ing could be used to describe f***ing. S*** could be used to describe s***.

Quote:
To your earlier question about morality, I think it's all quite simple. Everyone has a conscience that dictates to them what is right and what is wrong based on the golden rule, "Do unto others as they would unto you." Morals are different; morals are what allow you to either follow or ignore your conscience in daily life. Let's say that your friends want you to hang out with them, but you would rather spend the night by yourself doing other things. You know in your conscience that it would be wrong to ditch them, but your morals are what guide your decision-making process. Personally, I would stay home. I see them enough anyways.


I would argue that you've gotten it the wrong way round. I would say that everyone has morals. We know what's right and what's wrong in certain situations based on that golden rule you mentioned. We then behave in certain ways, and our conscience is what tells us whether what we've done is right or wrong. If it's wrong, we feel guilty. If it's right, we feel OK. Of course, then there are sociopaths, who know the difference between right and wrong, and just don't care.

Quote:
If you think about it, the people with the most relaxed morals are the ones with their priorities in order.


This I agree with.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:49 pm
Post Re: Morality
Evenflow8112 wrote:
You could have made this nice and short and just said 'nihilism'.


On a more serious note, I do like it when one side can admit to it's fallability. People who say they don't believe in God often prefer to think that they need 'proof' to be considered wrong, when really they can't prove that he does not, and that the believers are 'burdened' with proving that point. What good is that, if a Christian freely admits the limits of man himself? I don't disrespect people who disagree with me, no, I feel like everyone has a right to their belief. But the idea that some people have of being on the 'right' side by default of going against the idea of God is laughable. So, I did like your opening paragraphs. I'm glad you're not here to bash, or at least not in public ;)

As for the use of swears here, well, I don't know how useful the rule itself is aside from being a reminder of the standards James has for this iste, which is admirable. I think it's good that he wants to keep the forums enjoyable and clean, and yes, he doesn't want us to offend newcomers, either. I don't know if the forums would go to hell in a handbasket if we cursed more freely - I may have let the 'f' bomb out once or twice without notice - but I always believe a curse word achieves it's most literal 'peak' in language if used when it is truly warranted, instead of being out of mere crudeness (which is a subjective statement anyways, but what can you do?) or even laziness in selecting words to use when describing my ex-girlfriend (who is a dirty, dirty whore - and that is not subjective :) ). I understand your moral quandary, but nevertheless I don't see how the loosening of moral values will improve anyone's life here, or anywhere. Just me.


I guess I am kinda nihilistic, in the sense that I believe that if God doesn't exist, life is ultimately meaningless, and has no value other than what we ourselves attribute to it.

As for how the loosening of moral values could improve people's lives, moral values should be based on logic. If someone's moral values can be torn apart with basic logic, what value do those moral values hold? I would argue none. If you're gonna think that certain things are right and others are wrong, that's fine. But at least have sound, thought out reasons for those beliefs. Don't just absorb and accept society's programming. We need to be individuals, not sheep being blindly led along by those in control.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:55 pm
Post Re: Morality
Morals, in the big, broad strokes, are products of evolution. In the smaller quirks, morals are products of culture. Morals can't rise from logic on a large scale, because humans aren't logical by nature.

Bad words would fall into the smaller, quirky category. Words are tools used to express certain things that are on our minds, and different tools are used to accomplish different things. Sometimes, we need an ugly word to express an ugly thought, and we need a shocking word to punctuate a shocking idea.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:06 pm
Post Re: Morality
I completely agree with your view on cursing. Arrangements of syllables have no inherent meaning, but instead it's the context that people use them in. If somebody who's angry at me says "Bug off!" in the same manner that they'd say "F*** off!", then I should be equally offended with both. Unfortunately, most of society would think that the latter is much worse, and I have no explanation for that.

With respect to your God quandary, I'm also an agnostic, but I still try to be "good" for two reasons. The first is the obvious karma / Golden Rule principle, and it's nice to do good for goodness' sake. Second, I follow Pascal's Wager. If I think that there's a one-in-a-billion chance that there's a god of some form (and it's impossible to put a probability on that), and I in turn lead an evil life, then in that one-in-a-billion scenario I would experience all that fire and brimstone stuff and eternal damnation. Yet one-in-a-billion times infinity (the punishment value of eternal damnation) is still infinity, so acting good as if there's a god watching me statistically makes sense. Is this selfish, and am I just covering my ass? That's one way of putting it, but if I didn't believe this, I'd still be good just to be good.

In terms of what constitutes being "good", or what set of morals we should follow, that's a bit more tricky. Different societies have different rules, and it's hard to say who's correct. I believe in avoiding certain definite wrongs (i.e. murder, rape, etc.) but for tricky issues like abortion, I'm not sure to be honest.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:17 pm
Post Re: Morality
Ken wrote:
Morals, in the big, broad strokes, are products of evolution. In the smaller quirks, morals are products of culture. Morals can't rise from logic on a large scale, because humans aren't logical by nature.

Bad words would fall into the smaller, quirky category. Words are tools used to express certain things that are on our minds, and different tools are used to accomplish different things. Sometimes, we need an ugly word to express an ugly thought, and we need a shocking word to punctuate a shocking idea.


Humanity is capable of thinking logically though. Were it not for logic, we wouldn't have the scientific method. I think if we all start looking at our values with logic as our guide, as opposed to religion, or societal norms, we might go some way towards fixing the many problems that we have in this world.

As for words being ugly or shocking, when you look at language logically, there's no such thing as an ugly word. The word s*** isn't any uglier than the word poo. They both mean the same thing. It's what they mean that's ugly, not the words themselves. If I had a son who said to me in the middle of the night, "I need to do a poo", I'd turn on the lights, and open the bathroom door for him. If he said to me, "I need to do a s***", I wouldn't first of all tell him not to use that word. Both sentences mean the same thing. Why should I reprimand him for using one word instead of another?

Now, if we stop finding these words offensive, does that mean that they'll become less effective? I don't think so. Those who do find them offensive will probably stop listening. How then to get the point across. As for those who don't, look again at George Carlin. Look at all the fans he had, and all the audience members at his shows who were never offended by the words he used. Was he not able to get his point across to them effectively? I think he was. Judging by all the laughter and applause, I think they all understood him very well.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:35 pm
Post Re: Morality
JamesBond007 wrote:
How are these words inherently offensive? If they were inherently offensive, surely everyone would be offended by them, all the time. But the truth is that some people find them offensive, and others don't.


Yes, they are merely sounds, collected syllables, etc. So no they are not offensive in and of themselves. But clearly, there is some sort of standard in America, where, for most people, crap is the "okay" version of shit. Swearing is not wrong (and the Bible doesn't say it is either, for the record). But following the accepted practices of society is not an inherent bad thing either. There are bigger battles to fight than this.

JamesBond007 wrote:
Let's take even the most "taboo" word of them all. Let's look at that infamous four letter word that begins with a c. What's wrong with it? It's a collective noun for a woman's private parts. Do you know how many syllables there are down there? Which would you rather say? Would you rather force several multisyllabic words out, or would you rather be able to use a simple, monosyllabic word to describe the whole lot? I, for one, would choose the latter.


And you're welcome to use it. But, sorry, I don't know of any females who want you to call it that.

JamesBond007 wrote:
If black people stopped being offended by the word n*****, it would no longer be offensive. Who's gonna be offended? A white person? A black person is the only one who has a right to be offended, and if they're not, where's the harm? These so-called "offensive" words should just be absorbed into the lexicon of "acceptable" words. It should be no more offensive for me, a white person, to use the word n***** than it would be for me to use the word black. Why would I want to use the word n*****? Why not? It's a perfectly good word. If we choose to stop finding it offensive.


But by your logic, you should ALWAYS use the word black because it's shorter. Isn't that why you want to use the c-word? Seems that you're attracted to the "bad" words because you want to offend/shock.

And I really don't think you can just throw around the n-word like people are making a big fuss by being offended by it. Unlike every other word you talk about here, this one was invented by white Americans who sailed to Africa, kidnapped thousands of people, tore their families apart and treated them as property. So I think black people have earned the right to tell you not to use it.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:37 pm
Post Re: Morality
JamesBond007 wrote:
Let's take the adrenal argument. I'm Irish. Say I'm in a 70 year old woman's kitchen in Dublin, fixing the plumbing under her sink. I slash the back of my hand. I yell out "F***!" If I had instead yelled out "FECK!", which is a common "substitute" in this country for the word f***, she probably wouldn't have batted an eyelid. Even the elderly use feck. Even priests use feck. But I don't yell out "FECK!" I yell out "F***!", and because of that, I have to apologize to her before I leave her house. Why? Because I substituted the letter u for the letter e? Gimme a feckin' break.


What if you yell out the work Fanny would that be offensive to the 70 year old woman?

Words tend to change meanings over the course of history, I know that shakespeare hinted at the word c*** in Hamlet because it was an acceptable word in the 16th century. Now in the UK it is a somewhat gender neutral term. I am only assuming this based on watching BBC and in the movie Shaun of the Dead "Can I get you c***s anything to drink?" Profanity is ultimately based on society's acceptance of it. Certain hand gestures have different meanings in different countries.

I mainly use expletives to place emphasis on what I am trying to explain or on my emotions.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:57 pm
Post Re: Morality
JamesBond007 wrote:
Humanity is capable of thinking logically though. Were it not for logic, we wouldn't have the scientific method. I think if we all start looking at our values with logic as our guide, as opposed to religion, or societal norms, we might go some way towards fixing the many problems that we have in this world.
Of course we're capable of thinking logically, but it's unnatural and counterintuitive to the way our brains work. When you're confronted with a choice, you've already made your decision on a subconscious level before you even have time to consider it. The intellectual portion of decision-making is more often a rationalization of your instinctive decision than a decision in itself. This is a well-documented cognitive phenomenon. For this reason, morality borne from pure logic will never take hold on a large scale. Nietzsche was a great wishful thinker.

Quote:
As for words being ugly or shocking, when you look at language logically, there's no such thing as an ugly word. The word s*** isn't any uglier than the word poo. They both mean the same thing. It's what they mean that's ugly, not the words themselves. If I had a son who said to me in the middle of the night, "I need to do a poo", I'd turn on the lights, and open the bathroom door for him. If he said to me, "I need to do a s***", I wouldn't first of all tell him not to use that word. Both sentences mean the same thing. Why should I reprimand him for using one word instead of another?
The word is the medium that conveys the message, and as Marshall McLuhan famously said, the medium is the message. Sh** is a worse word than poo for the same reason that Singin' In the Rain makes a better movie than it would a novel. Different methods of conveying the same message influence the way the message is received.

Quote:
Now, if we stop finding these words offensive, does that mean that they'll become less effective? I don't think so.
If they become globally less offensive, they'll lose relevance and other words will become offensive. On a smaller basis, offensiveness is a matter of individual taste.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:59 pm
Post Re: Morality
El Duderino wrote:
I completely agree with your view on cursing. Arrangements of syllables have no inherent meaning, but instead it's the context that people use them in. If somebody who's angry at me says "Bug off!" in the same manner that they'd say "F*** off!", then I should be equally offended with both. Unfortunately, most of society would think that the latter is much worse, and I have no explanation for that.

With respect to your God quandary, I'm also an agnostic, but I still try to be "good" for two reasons. The first is the obvious karma / Golden Rule principle, and it's nice to do good for goodness' sake. Second, I follow Pascal's Wager. If I think that there's a one-in-a-billion chance that there's a god of some form (and it's impossible to put a probability on that), and I in turn lead an evil life, then in that one-in-a-billion scenario I would experience all that fire and brimstone stuff and eternal damnation. Yet one-in-a-billion times infinity (the punishment value of eternal damnation) is still infinity, so acting good as if there's a god watching me statistically makes sense. Is this selfish, and am I just covering my ass? That's one way of putting it, but if I didn't believe this, I'd still be good just to be good.

In terms of what constitutes being "good", or what set of morals we should follow, that's a bit more tricky. Different societies have different rules, and it's hard to say who's correct. I believe in avoiding certain definite wrongs (i.e. murder, rape, etc.) but for tricky issues like abortion, I'm not sure to be honest.


I'm not sure I subscribe to Karma. I believe if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you. But I don't think it's necessarily true that if you do good things, then good things will happen.

As for knowing which society's rules are correct, I think if there is a God, only He/She/They can know. If there isn't, then no society's rules are correct. No person or society has the right to say that their rules are correct, because there is no external entity who can give us an objective evaluation.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:06 pm
Post Re: Morality
Shade wrote:
Yes, they are merely sounds, collected syllables, etc. So no they are not offensive in and of themselves. But clearly, there is some sort of standard in America, where, for most people, crap is the "okay" version of shit. Swearing is not wrong (and the Bible doesn't say it is either, for the record). But following the accepted practices of society is not an inherent bad thing either. There are bigger battles to fight than this.


Start small, go on from there.

Quote:
And you're welcome to use it. But, sorry, I don't know of any females who want you to call it that.


But do they have any logical reason for finding it offensive? None that I can think of.

Quote:
But by your logic, you should ALWAYS use the word black because it's shorter. Isn't that why you want to use the c-word? Seems that you're attracted to the "bad" words because you want to offend/shock.


I personally prefer words with less syllables. It should be up to individuals what words they wanna use. That's the whole basis of free speech. I'm not "attracted" to bad words because there ARE no bad words. As Carlin said, bad thoughts, bad intentions, no bad words.

Quote:
And I really don't think you can just throw around the n-word like people are making a big fuss by being offended by it. Unlike every other word you talk about here, this one was invented by white Americans who sailed to Africa, kidnapped thousands of people, tore their families apart and treated them as property. So I think black people have earned the right to tell you not to use it.


Isn't that the whole problem though? The idea that a person can tell another person what words he/she can and can't use? Language is flexible. Word meanings change all the time. Is the word gay ever used anymore to describe a soirée? We can change the meaning of words. Words don't have to stay inherently offensive just because of their original meaning. If black people stopped finding that word offensive, racists could no longer use it against them. If racists then came up with another word, black people could just say they aren't gonna find that one offensive either. If people stop being vulnerable to words, they can't be used as weapons anymore. And isn't that the ideal? That we stop trying to hurt each other?


Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:38 pm
Post Re: Morality
Arsenal84 wrote:
JamesBond007 wrote:
Let's take the adrenal argument. I'm Irish. Say I'm in a 70 year old woman's kitchen in Dublin, fixing the plumbing under her sink. I slash the back of my hand. I yell out "F***!" If I had instead yelled out "FECK!", which is a common "substitute" in this country for the word f***, she probably wouldn't have batted an eyelid. Even the elderly use feck. Even priests use feck. But I don't yell out "FECK!" I yell out "F***!", and because of that, I have to apologize to her before I leave her house. Why? Because I substituted the letter u for the letter e? Gimme a feckin' break.


What if you yell out the work Fanny would that be offensive to the 70 year old woman?

Words tend to change meanings over the course of history, I know that shakespeare hinted at the word c*** in Hamlet because it was an acceptable word in the 16th century. Now in the UK it is a somewhat gender neutral term. I am only assuming this based on watching BBC and in the movie Shaun of the Dead "Can I get you c***s anything to drink?" Profanity is ultimately based on society's acceptance of it. Certain hand gestures have different meanings in different countries.

I mainly use expletives to place emphasis on what I am trying to explain or on my emotions.


Precisely. If all societies just accept these words, then they'll no longer be profane.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:41 pm
Post Re: Morality
Ken wrote:
Of course we're capable of thinking logically, but it's unnatural and counterintuitive to the way our brains work. When you're confronted with a choice, you've already made your decision on a subconscious level before you even have time to consider it. The intellectual portion of decision-making is more often a rationalization of your instinctive decision than a decision in itself. This is a well-documented cognitive phenomenon. For this reason, morality borne from pure logic will never take hold on a large scale. Nietzsche was a great wishful thinker.


I don't see any way that we will ever achieve world peace except through logic. If we don't change the way we think, then, as far as I can see, we're all doomed. And if that's the case, we may as well just give up now.

Quote:
The word is the medium that conveys the message, and as Marshall McLuhan famously said, the medium is the message. Sh** is a worse word than poo for the same reason that Singin' In the Rain makes a better movie than it would a novel. Different methods of conveying the same message influence the way the message is received.


Can you explain to me though WHY s*** is worse than poo? Can you actually explain why one of those letter combinations is "worse" than the other?

Quote:
If they become globally less offensive, they'll lose relevance and other words will become offensive. On a smaller basis, offensiveness is a matter of individual taste.


But we shouldn't find words offensive at all, whether they're words used for emphasis, or labels used to smear entire groups of people. If we stop finding any word offensive, it cannot be offensive.


Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:36 pm
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Post Re: Morality
JamesBond007, this is a touchy topic for you. You have obviously had trouble with this in the past. You have formed an ideology, and when people form ideologies, there is no way to reason with them; they are resolute in their beliefs. I understand your argument, and I remember when I felt the same way that you do now. I am one of the most vulgar people that I know, and my whole family casually drops f-bombs on a daily basis. But when has society as a whole ever accepted anything as a unified body?

I'm not going to continue with the curse words anymore, but I need to address the racial slurs. I know that you are in Dublin, so there is no way that you could possibly understand the depth of the offensiveness of the word n***** in American society. It is offensive not only because it brings up a dark chapter in America's past, but because there are still a handful of people in the south who still toss this word around the same way they did 150 years ago. And there are other racial slurs for blacks, and n***** isn't even the worst one.

What makes words in general offensive? The way in which they are used. Liberal is becoming a bad word. Don't ask me how, but it's pretty sad.


Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:07 am
Profile
Post Re: Morality
Hi there

I could not resist joining in here (hi James Bond007) when I saw the word karma referenced.

From the religion thread I think i may be the only Buddhist on the forum (or at least the only one who admits it!)

Karma is a big deal for us. I switched to Buddhism about two years go and one of the teachers asked us to try an experiment. Our goal was to do something unexpected and good for someone that we don't know every day. Several of us were skeptical. Though I was too new (or chicken) to question it. One of us asked why? I remember it like yesterday, the teacher replied, "why are you here?". We talked about noble truths and finding happiness. A few days later I realized that doing something very small and unexpected for someone every day had become a passion for me. Two years later I still do it.

Seeing someone's surprise and pleasure turn to a huge smile and thanks is one of the most satisfying things I have done. It makes me feel happy. Far happier than most things I do or even pay to do.

Rambling on - Bad language. I was taught at an early age that expletives and obscenity was a sign of poor education and stupidity. The reality for me is that when a word is used repeatedly like c***, in the UK, it ceases to have it's desired effect. The people using it just appear ridiculous

N***** in the US, as has been said a word filled with a history that is troublesome. I recently lived in West Oakland for two years until my next door neighbor was shot to death (strange to see a friend like that) . My neighbors used the N word all the time to address each other. It always felt strange to hang out with them listening to that and never feel able to use the word myself. They were the best people, the most genuine.

Cool thread
Rob


Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:11 am
Post Re: Morality
darthyoshi wrote:
JamesBond007, this is a touchy topic for you. You have obviously had trouble with this in the past. You have formed an ideology, and when people form ideologies, there is no way to reason with them; they are resolute in their beliefs. I understand your argument, and I remember when I felt the same way that you do now. I am one of the most vulgar people that I know, and my whole family casually drops f-bombs on a daily basis. But when has society as a whole ever accepted anything as a unified body?

I'm not going to continue with the curse words anymore, but I need to address the racial slurs. I know that you are in Dublin, so there is no way that you could possibly understand the depth of the offensiveness of the word n***** in American society. It is offensive not only because it brings up a dark chapter in America's past, but because there are still a handful of people in the south who still toss this word around the same way they did 150 years ago. And there are other racial slurs for blacks, and n***** isn't even the worst one.

What makes words in general offensive? The way in which they are used. Liberal is becoming a bad word. Don't ask me how, but it's pretty sad.


Exactly. It's the meaning behind the word, not the word itself. So change the meaning. Gay people, and this is a paraphrase from Wikipedia, took the term queer and re-claimed it as a means of self-empowerment. Another paraphrase from Wikipedia, there's a movement within feminism that seeks to reclaim the word c***. Tear apart my logic, and I'll listen to you, but right now, I see no reason why I shouldn't keep going on trying to get my point across. Words can only be offensive if we choose to find them offensive. When a racist bully calls a black person a n*****, and the black person's offended by that, the bully wins. If the black person isn't offended, what does the bully win? Nothing.


Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:48 am
Post Re: Morality
Robert Holloway wrote:
Hi there

I could not resist joining in here (hi James Bond007) when I saw the word karma referenced.

From the religion thread I think i may be the only Buddhist on the forum (or at least the only one who admits it!)

Karma is a big deal for us. I switched to Buddhism about two years go and one of the teachers asked us to try an experiment. Our goal was to do something unexpected and good for someone that we don't know every day. Several of us were skeptical. Though I was too new (or chicken) to question it. One of us asked why? I remember it like yesterday, the teacher replied, "why are you here?". We talked about noble truths and finding happiness. A few days later I realized that doing something very small and unexpected for someone every day had become a passion for me. Two years later I still do it.

Seeing someone's surprise and pleasure turn to a huge smile and thanks is one of the most satisfying things I have done. It makes me feel happy. Far happier than most things I do or even pay to do.

Rambling on - Bad language. I was taught at an early age that expletives and obscenity was a sign of poor education and stupidity. The reality for me is that when a word is used repeatedly like c***, in the UK, it ceases to have it's desired effect. The people using it just appear ridiculous

N***** in the US, as has been said a word filled with a history that is troublesome. I recently lived in West Oakland for two years until my next door neighbor was shot to death (strange to see a friend like that) . My neighbors used the N word all the time to address each other. It always felt strange to hang out with them listening to that and never feel able to use the word myself. They were the best people, the most genuine.

Cool thread
Rob


Hi, Rob.

Point taken on Karma. I had always assumed it meant that if you do a good thing for someone, an actual good thing would happen to you, as opposed to a good feeling. So I rejected it as mysticism. But I get the psychology behind it now.

As for "expletives" and "obscenity", George Carlin said (surprise surprise, I agree with him) something to the effect of those who say that people who use "bad" language have limited vocabularies are ridiculous, because what are we doing if we're forbidding the use of these words? We're limiting our vocabularies. These words are part of the English language, and no one has the right to say that the entire language shouldn't be open to us all.

But as I said earlier, I don't think that any words should just be thrown around willy-nilly. Every word has to have a purpose. No purpose, no meaning. No meaning, nonsense. Who wants to speak nonsense? But the idea some people have that some words are just offensive in and of themselves and should never be used no matter what their meaning, no matter what their purpose, is just bulls***.

Now the word n*****; it has been filled with a troublesome history. But we can change its future. We can change the future of all these words, from n***** to f***ing. We don't have to believe that just because a word means something that it always has to mean that. Look at the word marriage, and how many people are trying to redefine that, and there's nothing wrong with that. The idea that a certain group of people should be denied a basic human right because of a characteristic they have no choice about DOES constitute obscenity. You wouldn't say people below 5'6 shouldn't be allowed to get married and have kids. I'm diverging from the point. Better we get on to that later. My point is that word meanings change all the time. No word should be an exception.


Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:08 pm
Post Re: Morality
JamesBond007 wrote:
I don't see any way that we will ever achieve world peace except through logic. If we don't change the way we think, then, as far as I can see, we're all doomed. And if that's the case, we may as well just give up now.
What makes you think world peace is A. achievable, B. a good thing, and C. dichotomous with the doom of mankind?

Quote:
Can you explain to me though WHY s*** is worse than poo? Can you actually explain why one of those letter combinations is "worse" than the other?
No, because the factors that went into making them so are social, historical, and far too complex for a pea brain like me to fully comprehend.

Quote:
But we shouldn't find words offensive at all, whether they're words used for emphasis, or labels used to smear entire groups of people. If we stop finding any word offensive, it cannot be offensive.
If we stop finding words offensive, we'll stop finding words inoffensive. If we stop finding words ugly, we'll stop finding words beautiful. The meaning of a word is defined by contrast--as much by what it doesn't signify as by what it does. Yeah, we can stop finding specific words offensive, but there will always be offensive language of one sort or another.


Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:37 pm
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