[ExI] intolerant minds, a different flavor

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Apr 27 16:03:23 UTC 2009

Damien writes

>> Can anyone suggest an hypothesis that will explain
>> what is going on in otherwise sensible and tolerant
>> minds?  [E.g. folks who'd outlaw holocaust denial.]

 > Yes. We understand memes, cultural contagion and
 > infection, the evolved human predisposition to
 > behave abominably

I.e., people might get ideas and be bad

 > when we have a handy articulated structure of
 > bullshit

I.e., when there are certain widespread opinions

A. that you don't agree with?
B. that are objectively incorrect?
C. that the mass of people don't prefer?

or all three?

 > that's being openly accepted by others.

May I rephrase? You are saying that some ideas
are so contagious, and so harmful, that these
ideas must be suppressed?

 > To be very simplistic, but using a traditional
 > analogy: do you, Lee, really think there should
 > be no prohibition of, or penalty for, untruthfully
 > screaming "Fire!" or "Bomb!" in a crowded theater?

No, indeed there should be no legal penalty
for shouting "fire!" or "bomb!". Outlawing the
act of saying something is unduly restrictive,
and it seldom works anyway.

(Now this is not a constitutional "freedom of
speech" issue. The constitution, as any idiot
should realize, was referring to *political*

So if a community passes a law saying "you
cannot shout fire", or "no one may call the
Mayor's daughter a whore", it's perfectly
constitutional. It's just dumb and ultimately
unworkable, although not living there, I'm
willing to defer to those close to the situation
and who have immediate knowledge.

On principle, however, we should make laws
only when it's absolutely necessary. Freedom
is very important.

Your particular example, "shouting fire in a
crowded theater" is a bad law because it takes
the focus off what the true problem is, namely,
that the theater has been ill-constructed, and
poses a menace to patrons.

In reality, if someone shouts "fire!" or "bomb!",
and there is no such, then he or she'll probably
get roughed up, or spit upon, or something. But
does there REALLY need to be a law?

 > If you'd make an exception for that,

well, I myself wouldn't... but I will defend the
right of a community to pass such (wrongheaded)

 > how about "Jews, Homos and Niggers deserve to
 > die, because they are inhuman scum who are
 > destroying our way of life!"?

That's an easy one. Of course it should be legal.
It is legal. Why not?

Oh, yes. I recall. The stuff about memes. You
are saying that someone might hear that, and
then go surmise that it makes a lot of sense,
and then go repeat it, and then the first thing
you know everyone hates Jews, gays, and black

Whereas if we can just get people to BE QUIET,
then things will be much better.

Strategically (not morally) would it have been
a good idea for the religious people, when they
were in control, to prohibit taking the Lord's
name in vain? To prohibit meetings of freethinkers?
Remember, they felt more strongly about their Deity
than you do about Jews, gays, and black people.

You saying they made a really stupid move letting
us talk?

Strategically, do you think that it is a good idea
to prohibit reasoned attacks on religion, insults
of races, religions, or the Mayor's daughter?
Where do you draw the line?

And beyond strategy, where in a free society do
you draw the line ethically?


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