[extropy-chat] Moral Relativism Theory and Practice

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Fri May 27 17:22:55 UTC 2005

On May 27, 2005, at 7:35 AM, John-C-Wright at sff.net wrote:

> On May 11th, Samantha Atkins wrote: "Careful who and what you claim  
> as your own.
>  Do you claim Pat  Robertson as your own? If so I don't think it is  
> in my nature
> to be insulting enough."
> Surely I should have answered this in a more timely fashion. I hope  
> you will
> forgive me if draw the conversation for a moment back to a point it  
> has past,
> and a small point at that.
> Television evangelists are certainly figures of fun to modern  
> intellectuals,
> what with their high hair and southern accents. We can all get a  
> moment of
> cheap, malicious pleasure from contemplating our superiority to  
> them, can we not?

This hardly has anything to do with it.  Especially for me.  I am  
from the deep south originally and I still have a bit of the Southern  
drawl and speech patterns almost three decades after leaving that  
part of the country.   But I digress on top of your digression.  Why  
would you start with such a pointless and utterly false  
characterization of what I find utterly contemptible about Brother Pat?

> But look at the other side of the equation.
> I know a man who gave up cigarettes and strong drink because he  
> heard Billy
> Graham preaching. I have heard of a man who was comtemplating  
> suicide, who had
> the pistol loaded and sitting next to him, but who decided to watch  
> one last
> television show before doing himself in: by coincidence (though I  
> call it
> providence), the television station happened to be carrying a  
> southern preacher,
> preaching against suicide. He put off his dark deed for a time:  
> when next he was
> tempted, he again loaded his pistol, and again snapped on the  
> television for one
> last show before his end. By coincidence (though I call it  
> providence), the
> television station had made a mistake, and rebroadcast the same  
> sermon. This
> coincidence and this sermon changed the man's mind, his heart, and  
> his life, and
> he put his pistol and his desire for self destruction away.

So what?  I could recount such anecdotes from all sots of proximate  
causes all day myself.  But if you have listened to and read the  
books of  Brother Pat you know that he preaches a level of hate and  
fear mongering of when the "culture war" fills the streets with blood  
that is far beyond any "Good News" or conversions.  He has done so  
and been very influential for a good number of years.   It is for  
these reasons that I brought him up as the icon of all I doubt that  
you or any rational good human being would want to be associated  
with.  It would have been good if you had done your homework about  
the man before assuming such trite objections on my part.

> Now, you may feel free to mock these men and what they do: but as  
> for me, I have
> never saved anyone's life by my words, nor convinced anyone to give  
> up a bad habit.
> To insult others is also in my nature, Miss Atkins: indeed, a  
> lifetime of
> practice has made me expert at it, and it is only with the greatest  
> effort that
> I forebear when barbed and petty wit rises to my lips or bubbles  
> from the end of
> my pen. My humble suggestion is that if you are interested in your  
> own spiritual
> development, or if you wish to live the life worthy of a  
> philosopher or a hero,
> a life of reason, self-command, temperance and justice, that you  
> also forbear. I
> apologize if this bit of advice sounds condescending, for I do not  
> mean it in
> that way; but the danger of indulging in a malicious nature is that  
> malice soon
> begins to seem normal: we come to enjoy it.

Thanks for the moral advice.  What I said was no insult.  This  
creature has earned a place at the deepest level of whatever hell may  

> To answer your question, I am happy and proud to claim Pat  
> Robertson or any
> other Christian as one of my brothers. For that matter, I am happy  
> and proud to
> claim men of other religions, even shallow modern inventions, as my  
> brothers,
> or, if they will not have me, as my cousins.

You utterly miss the point.  I am one of the most inclusive and  
generally altruistic people you could wish to meet.  This isn't about  
me.  It is about how you separate wheat from chaff in your new found  
faith.  It is about where you stand.   It is about whether you retain  
the ability and willingness to draw important distinctions.

> Perhaps you have in mind a list of every wicked or embarassing thing a
> television evangelist has ever done, so you wonder how I can claim  
> kinship with
> such Tartuffes. It is because I have in my mind a list of every  
> wicked thing I
> have done, and I leave to a judge more stern and more just than I  
> am to deal
> with the sins of other men.

Thanks for the hackneyed philosophy.  Please respond again when you  
know enough and are honest enough to actually address the question.

- samantha
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