/ When do you speak up for your values?

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Ben Sharp - on 13 Jul 2013
I was reading Malala Yousafzai's UN speach and it got me thinking about values and standing up for them. I always feel in this country if you dare to say you don't appreciate discriminatory views in conversation then you get ostracised and isolated from colleagues/aquaintences for being too up tight and serious. I guess it doesn't seem like much of a price to pay when in some places you just get shot.

It should be easy to have your serious face for serious conversations and your jokey face for the rest of the time but it isn't. Discrimination is rarely open, it's insidious and usually hides behind a joke instead of being soberly expressed. People casually slip little quips into conversation which in isolation seem inocuous but get repeated till they're harmful. Then if you say something you're over-reacting and told to "lighten up".

I always question the point in bothering to bring these things up because most people are so paralysed by a fear of having an argument/discussion that it's pointless. You'd think if someone criticised something you said you'd just defend it but that's not how it works in my experience. People seem to hate finding a point of disagreement and run from it. But if you don't say anything you're tacitly approving of something you despise and adding fuel to a country already smouldering with narrow minded bigotry and discrimination.

Maybe it's a cultural/generational thing. My Gran would go out of her way to disagree with someone but people these days seem quite sensitive to speaking their mind and often just guard any thoughts they have that aren't definitely universally approved. Sometimes it seems that the fear of standing out makes people avoid confrontation and just pretend to be friends with people they don't like (then diss them behind their back obviously). Maybe if you disagree with someone then they just assume you must want to fight them because they're not used to it. Welcome to the Britain I suppose.

I'm not sure what my point was meant to be
Timmd on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

It might depend on who you happen mix with, ie people who aren't friends as such?

I've found most people I've mixed with over the last couple of years to be the opposite, and are more against people who are in favour of or aren't very against discriminatory views and practices.

Though that's more recently, my IT tutor seemed insecure in his sexuality as a straight man, and once called the tour de France riders in lycra in a jokey way, and wondered aloud if there was something wrong with him in not fancying Jordan.

For me I speak up if it's not going to mess up a working relationship with somebody who I'll be doing things with for the next few months/year etc.

I will try and broach the subject in a roundabout way though, put forward an argument or the reasoning in an 'I guess you could see it like this' kind of way, and give the other person space to still think what they think, rather than saying I'm against what they think and turning it into more of an issue or 'situation'.

To my surprise I found I'd rather work along side somebody who was a bit bigoted and intolerant about certain groups, rather than somebody who was more liberal but less 'straight forward' as a personality, a bit argumentative and things. So long as I stayed away from certain topics, the bigoted guy was okay to work along side, where the liberal guy could be out to score points or prove his knowledge and 'wonderfulness', as he saw it.

I did actually agree with the liberal guy on things more often, but he could be funny to spend the day with too. Spending a lot of time with people you wouldn't choose to socially can be weird sometimes.
Simon4 - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

> you're tacitly approving of something you despise and adding fuel to a country already smouldering with narrow minded bigotry and discrimination.

Other people might regard what you consider to be "narrow minded bigotry and discrimination" to be standing by their values and you to be "smouldering" with preachy intolerant self-righteousness. Are you ready for them to speak up for their values that are totally contrary to yours, or would you react in with aggression, violence or confrontation when they do?

> I'm not sure what my point was meant to be

Your point was about cognitive dissonance, and imagining that you have a monopoly on morality, intelligence or strong views, or that thinking that you have some unique tunnel to "the truth" and that views at variance with that "truth" should be denounced, suppressed and something unpleasant done to the holders of these views.

It is an inherently anti-democratic perspective, because you seem not to concede that there can be men and women of intelligence and honesty who hold radically different views to you. A willingness to accept the decency and intelligence of your opponents while still strongly disagreeing with them is a pre-condition of democratic intercourse, otherwise we just have competing mobs, each equipped with an an unquestionable belief in their own contradictory certainties, the outcome to be judged by who is the most extreme, manipulative or violent.
Timmd on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
>
> [...]
>
> Other people might regard what you consider to be "narrow minded bigotry and discrimination" to be standing by their values and you to be "smouldering" with preachy intolerant self-righteousness. Are you ready for them to speak up for their values that are totally contrary to yours, or would you react in with aggression, violence or confrontation when they do?
>
> [...]
>
> Your point was about cognitive dissonance, and imagining that you have a monopoly on morality, intelligence or strong views, or that thinking that you have some unique tunnel to "the truth" and that views at variance with that "truth" should be denounced, suppressed and something unpleasant done to the holders of these views.

Blimey! How did you read all that into his OP?
Timmd on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Timmd:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)

> Though that's more recently, my IT tutor seemed insecure in his sexuality as a straight man, and once called the tour de France riders in lycra in a jokey way, and wondered aloud if there was something wrong with him in not fancying Jordan.

Called them fagots in a jokey way that should be...
Timmd on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: Essentially the bigoted guy was happier to quiet with his thoughts.
Ben Sharp - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Simon4: Wow, you've made a lot of assumptions about me as a person there, all inaccurate btw.

If you reread my OP you'll see I complained that people weren't open to discussing things. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone but I made it clear that I have a problem with people expressing discriminatory views and then laughing them off and refusing to discuss them. (This is the opposite of trying to suppress people by the way, which I'm not sure why you accused me of doing. Heaven knows why you think I want to get violent about it!)

Oh yeah and FWIW there's nothing wrong with thinking you're right to be anti-racist/sexist/homophobic for example.

Timmd:
> For me I speak up if it's not going to mess up a working relationship with somebody

I guess that was the question I was asking, when people risk their lives for what they believe it's so easy to avoid confronting things you should because it negatively affects your social/work life.

> To my surprise I found I'd rather work along side somebody who was a bit bigoted and intolerant about certain groups, rather than somebody who was more liberal but less 'straight forward' as a personality, a bit argumentative and things

That's a different point about generalising peoples personality from their beliefs though. There are liberals who like a laugh as well!
Ben Sharp - on 13 Jul 2013
>That's a different point about generalising peoples personality from their beliefs though.

It is a good point though, maybe part of what makes us not want to discuss these things is that the people who do are generally poor company!
Timmd on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
>
> That's a different point about generalising peoples personality from their beliefs though. There are liberals who like a laugh as well!

It's got nothing to do with liberals not liking a laugh (I never said liberals didn't like a laugh) and more peoples' different personality quirks.

It is a bit of a tangent though.

Timmd on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> >That's a different point about generalising peoples personality from their beliefs though.
>
> It is a good point though, maybe part of what makes us not want to discuss these things is that the people who do are generally poor company!

It might depend on how you discuss things I think, whether as ideas or topics to be chewed over, or two people having opposing/differing points of view. It needn't turn into agro or make for a bad atmosphere if one knows when to bite one's tongue.
MG - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

> If you reread my OP you'll see I complained that people weren't open to discussing things. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone but I made it clear that I have a problem with people expressing discriminatory views and then laughing them off and refusing to discuss them.

It read to me that you would still have a problem with them if they did discuss things and that actually what frustrates you is that people won't let you try and convince them of your viewpoint. The "smouldering" bit in your post hardly suggests *you* are open to persuasion on these matters! Maybe people prefer not to discuss some things with you because they don't want to be lectured about the "right" way to think?
Jon Stewart - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
>
> [...]
>
> Other people might regard what you consider to be "narrow minded bigotry and discrimination" to be standing by their values and you to be "smouldering" with preachy intolerant self-righteousness...

Although there is something 'neat' and symmetrical about your logic, it unfortunately doesn't relate in any way to reality. We can only guess what the OP was referring to specifically, but he did call it 'discrimination' which is quite an important point that you seem to have missed. The point about discrimination is that it is not just a view, valid as any other, which should be defended rather than challenged. You obviously understand why that's the case, so I won't bother setting it out.

When it comes to discrimination that you encounter in British society today, unless you're talking about religious nutters, it's not an expression of someone's values, it's almost always just laziness of thought, ignorance and a lack of empathy and experience. Next time you hear a bunch of teenage lads calling one another 'faggot', 'gayboy' in public, ask them what they actually think of gay people. They probably won't say they hate gay people and think that gay people deserve to be insulted as they're inferior and should be ridiculed. They just haven't thought about how to behave politely. The type of discriminatory language I think the OP is talking about is connected with a lack of values, or people behaving in a way which is actually contrary to the values they nominally hold.

And if people are genuinely racist or homophobic or whatever, then they have values which are not of equal merit to those which improve society for all. The idea that everyone can and should express through their actions whatever values they happen to hold, regardless of whether those values are destructive to society is a completely ludicrous position not held by anyone except the barking mad.

Have you noticed for example the the law reflects a certain set of values? Do you think that the whole concept of law is anti-democratic(!), and everyone should just be wandering around doing what the f^ck they like?
> [...]
>
> Your point was about cognitive dissonance, and imagining that you have a monopoly on morality, intelligence or strong views, or that thinking that you have some unique tunnel to "the truth" and that views at variance with that "truth" should be denounced, suppressed and something unpleasant done to the holders of these views...

The rest is just rambling and has nothing to do with the OP.
MG - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Simon4)
The point about discrimination is that it is not just a view, valid as any other, which should be defended rather than challenged.

I suspect that was rather Simon04s point. You have just there dismissed pretty much all thinking in all parts of the world (including today) and asserted that your belief is self-evidently right and deserves special respect and can't be challenged.

It is only in the last 50 (arguably 20) years in some western countries that discrimination has become unacceptable. The fact is that thinking all people are equal is very much the exception in human thinking.

If you really want free discussion, you can't start putting your beliefs off limits.
Jon Stewart - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
> The point about discrimination is that it is not just a view, valid as any other, which should be defended rather than challenged.
>
> I suspect that was rather Simon04s point. You have just there dismissed pretty much all thinking in all parts of the world (including today) and asserted that your belief is self-evidently right and deserves special respect and can't be challenged.
>
> It is only in the last 50 (arguably 20) years in some western countries that discrimination has become unacceptable. The fact is that thinking all people are equal is very much the exception in human thinking.
>
> If you really want free discussion, you can't start putting your beliefs off limits.

Well there is a way to evaluate different values that has advanced in the last couple of centuries, and it is called reason. This is where Simon4s point falls on its arse. If you can justify a view, with reason then it has validity in a discussion. If you can't justify a view, it is a pile of worthless tripe that needs to be ignored. I honestly do think it's that simple.

Until the last century or so, everyone based pretty much all their values on unjustified tosh that was made up for a variety of purposes (usually the advantage of the people in positions of power in whatever society, mixed with various stuff intrinsic to human nature). Now we have the tools to look into questions using finely tuned reason, in the context of understanding what the world is and how it works. We are now in a position of evaluate whether a view is worth listening to, or whether it's harmless baloney, or whether it's a view that is destructive and should be challenged using reason.

The relativism favoured by Simon4 would be OK centuries ago when the tools of reason were not sufficiently developed to evaluate ideas and values. But to stand by this relativism today is completely absurd. I fancy going around killing babies - that's fine; I fancy working day and night and giving all my earnings to the hungry - that's equally fine. It's blatant garbage.


MG - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: Well in that case what have you to fear from someone advocating discrimination? Why do you need to put it off limits of discussion? Surely you could refute their arguments easily? In reality it's not that simple, as you know. Do you really think all the MPs opposing gay marriage, for example, were irrational? And all those in favour purely rational?

If people really want debate they have to accept differing viewpoints respectfully. That doesn't mean all are equally correct of course, merely that all should be open to criticism, not just those you disagree with. Otherwise you are just lecturing people and it will hardly be surprising if they don't want to listen much.
Jon Stewart - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) Well in that case what have you to fear from someone advocating discrimination? Why do you need to put it off limits of discussion?

I don't recall ever suggesting that it was off-limits for discussion. What I said was that discrimination is not a view that deserves the same treatment and protection of expression as views which aren't harmful to society.

> Surely you could refute their arguments easily?

Yes I could.

> In reality it's not that simple, as you know. Do you really think all the MPs opposing gay marriage, for example, were irrational? And all those in favour purely rational?

Well that's a funny one since it concerns religion and is thus inherently irrational. So neither side could really claim to be arguing on a purely rational basis.
>
> If people really want debate they have to accept differing viewpoints respectfully. That doesn't mean all are equally correct of course, merely that all should be open to criticism, not just those you disagree with. Otherwise you are just lecturing people and it will hardly be surprising if they don't want to listen much.

Yes, all views should be challenged. Those that stand up to the challenge of reason should be respected, those that cannot withstand the challenge should be ignored, or if they are harmful, they should be "educated away".

wintertree - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> Well there is a way to evaluate different values that has advanced in the last couple of centuries, and it is called reason. This is where Simon4s point falls on its arse. If you can justify a view, with reason then it has validity in a discussion. If you can't justify a view, it is a pile of worthless tripe that needs to be ignored. I honestly do think it's that simple.

That's all very circular - the reason is in the context of the society defining *reason*. It always has been. There is no hard, scientific equation to determine the validity of words with respect to words. There is no physical law that says people should be given (or denied) equality of opportune nitty. It is something that a consensus decision of people in higher places have adopted on primarily grounds of feeling that it is more just, with a secondary take that in the long term it will make for a "better" society.

If ugg the caveman had suggested that men and women adopt equal rules in society they would have likely died out and we would never be here - the same people genetically, the same principle and a different validity of the view to now.

We could define one, some quantity that describes the future success of, say, life on earth, against which we weigh and measure every view. I suspect that if we did it would make many of the right-on commentators on here very sad.
Timmd on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to wintertree:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> That's all very circular - the reason is in the context of the society defining *reason*. It always has been. There is no hard, scientific equation to determine the validity of words with respect to words. There is no physical law that says people should be given (or denied) equality of opportune nitty. It is something that a consensus decision of people in higher places have adopted on primarily grounds of feeling that it is more just, with a secondary take that in the long term it will make for a "better" society.

Is it really a consensus decision of people in higher places, or is it from the people discriminated against kicking up a stink because what is happening to them is unjust, and plain wrong?

Slavery being legal, and homosexuality being illegal, for example. It's not just some intellectual argument, if there is a reason, it has it's root in real life.

> If ugg the caveman had suggested that men and women adopt equal rules in society they would have likely died out and we would never be here - the same people genetically, the same principle and a different validity of the view to now.

That doesn't make any sense to me.

> We could define one, some quantity that describes the future success of, say, life on earth, against which we weigh and measure every view. I suspect that if we did it would make many of the right-on commentators on here very sad

Neither does this.
Jon Stewart - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to wintertree:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> That's all very circular - the reason is in the context of the society defining *reason*. It always has been. There is no hard, scientific equation to determine the validity of words with respect to words. There is no physical law that says people should be given (or denied) equality of opportune nitty. It is something that a consensus decision of people in higher places have adopted on primarily grounds of feeling that it is more just, with a secondary take that in the long term it will make for a "better" society.
>
> If ugg the caveman had suggested that men and women adopt equal rules in society they would have likely died out and we would never be here - the same people genetically, the same principle and a different validity of the view to now.
>
> We could define one, some quantity that describes the future success of, say, life on earth, against which we weigh and measure every view. I suspect that if we did it would make many of the right-on commentators on here very sad.

It's an interesting question, and I look at it this way:

I agree it's hard to find an argument derived from more basic (scientific) prinicples that says everyone should have equal rights as a default position. However, ideas need not be justified in isolation from basic principles. Ideas need to compete.

So you show me a racist idea that says black people deserve fewer opportunities and poorer treatment. I'll show you a competing idea that says the colour of your skin shouldn't have a bearing. When we scrutinise the ideas as to what their justification is and what outcomes following these ideas will bring, my idea will win. Applying this process of selection to ideas we will pick out the good ones from the sea of shit that is out there. Some of that sea of shit is represented on this very forum.
wintertree - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> When we scrutinise the ideas as to what their justification is and what outcomes following these ideas will bring, my idea will win.

It will win with you. Often they don't however win with everyone - those with the hold over the status quo will have a different logic, a different reason, and a strong interest in preserving the status quo. People are not programmed by logic, even static some irrefutable logic based in mathematics is no guarantee of acceptance, let alone subjective areas.

I think one is expecting to much of logic or science to provide these justifications that will work for all, and nature is no guide as most species on the planet practices discrimination, "species-ism", racism, murder and various other unpleasantries.

I think you are right about the testing of ideas though - at least in parts of the world. I suppose people raised with a generic sense of fairness are able to apply that to specific areas of injustice around them. I would further guess that it is easier to develop a sense of fairness in a land of plenty - with the education and opportunities that follow, than a land of extreme poverty, which would suggest that pushing equality on parts of the world is less likely to succeed than pushing education and sustainability on them.
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Jon Stewart - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to wintertree:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> [...]
>
> It will win with you.

It will win within a framework of reason.

> Often they don't however win with everyone - those with the hold over the status quo will have a different logic, a different reason, and a strong interest in preserving the status quo.

When it comes to arguments about discrimination, the arguments that justify it are fallacious. They either appeal to god (I'm shitting on you because my god is on my side) or they go for outright fallacy to dehumanise those being discriminated against (black people are intellectually inferior/savage; being gay is a lifestyle choice, etc). You might call these arguments "a different logic", I call them "demonstrably a load of crap". I understand that not everyone sees it that way, but until I see an argument that does not appeal to god or to outright fallacy, I will hold that view.

> People are not programmed by logic, even static some irrefutable logic based in mathematics is no guarantee of acceptance, let alone subjective areas.

I'm not arguing that the world works the way I think it should. All kinds of crap is justified with entirely fallacious arguments, all the bloody time. Yes, that is how people work. And I understand that in areas that truly are subjective, such as how much I like a certain colour, there is no rational debate. But lots of stuff gets passed off as subjective when a good dose of reason could come in handy in finding useful answers about what is the best thing to do next.

> I think one is expecting to much of logic or science to provide these justifications that will work for all, and nature is no guide as most species on the planet practices discrimination, "species-ism", racism, murder and various other unpleasantries.

I think nature is the only guide (even though it has no moral sense). We have evolved the ability to empathise, and the ability to switch that empathy on and off (which leads to inherent contradictions in our moral choices). We have evolved the ability to use reason. Put these two together and you can work through moral questions to reach outcomes that suit your goals.

> I think you are right about the testing of ideas though - at least in parts of the world. I suppose people raised with a generic sense of fairness are able to apply that to specific areas of injustice around them. I would further guess that it is easier to develop a sense of fairness in a land of plenty - with the education and opportunities that follow, than a land of extreme poverty, which would suggest that pushing equality on parts of the world is less likely to succeed than pushing education and sustainability on them.

When we're under pressure, we tend to turn the empathy off, because it acts against our short-term goals. When we have plenty of resources, our empathy comes to the fore. So aiming for prosperity - which will allow for education - is a good way of aiming for equality.

stroppygob - on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

> If you reread my OP you'll see I complained that people weren't open to discussing things.

Maybe, just maybe, they don't want to discuss your obsessions. Maybe, just maybe, they think you are an opinionated bore?
Timmd on 13 Jul 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

> Timmd:
> [...]
>
> I guess that was the question I was asking, when people risk their lives for what they believe it's so easy to avoid confronting things you should because it negatively affects your social/work life.

I speak up if it's in a social setting, but less so in a work/volunteer setting. Or I'll raise a subject in a different way, though I might not press a point as much.
ice.solo - on 14 Jul 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:


i speak up when someone wants to impose theirs upon mine without my agreement.

im no superman, but my own values happen to include a deep loathing for the values of those more vulnerable being imposed upon, exploited or ignored. indeed this rackles my juices maybe more than having my own confronted and the urge to speak up can become the urge to slit throats fairly rapidly.
Timmd on 14 Jul 2013
In reply to ice.solo: It can/does seem like a simple solution to just remove the nasty people by any means.

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