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Why accept self-serving propaganda from governments and religious institutions?

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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:53 PM
Original message
Why accept self-serving propaganda from governments and religious institutions?
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 12:56 PM by Boojatta
For example, some people say that anyone who claims to be a "Christian" is by definition actually a "Christian."

If there's a sham election including a lot of violence against peaceful opponents of a government, then some people might when pressed admit that the election results are "contested", but they say that the country is a "democracy" and that the government "was re-elected."

Yet, surely we are not stupid enough to accept someone's claims of being a "White Separatist and Unbiased Student of Racial Sciences, and Not a Racist."

Why the difference?
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 01:02 PM
Response to Original message
1. Kick to encourage replies, including expressions of incomprehension or disgust.
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 02:10 PM
Response to Original message
2. You have definitions flying all over the place there
In the case of Christians you seem to be trying to suggest that there is a clear definition of what a Christian is. No one can really know who is a true Christian as the founding spokesperson for whom it is named is no longer around. So its all a matter of interpretation. So if someone claims to be a Christian we can only take them at their word and accept the appellation of Christian for them.

In the case of corrupted elections we do not have to wait for a missing messiah to show up and rectify the appellation. Democracy is an abstract construct of our own creation. As such we can look at something and recognize it as either being true or false based on the definition of the thing. Now while we may look at it and recognize that something that does not adhere to democratic standards is not a democracy that does nothing to change the condition of those within the the state controlled by such a system. It does the individual citizen little good to walk up to the halls of power and proclaim "excuse me but this is not a proper democracy". Particularly if there has been a history of the powers that be beating down any opposition.

As to the racist, again we have a clear definition and model to work from. Thus an out and out racist proclaiming themselves not to be a racist is easily recognized as being false or disingenuous. Thus we can call them out on their preposterous claims.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Thank you for taking the time to provide a response.
It does the individual citizen little good to walk up to the halls of power and proclaim "excuse me but this is not a proper democracy".

I agree. However, I don't see how that's connected to the question in the Original Post.
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 07:32 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Perhaps I misunderstood the original intent
Could you restate the question?
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 04:42 PM
Response to Original message
3. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet;
If a revolutionary guerilla group is killing innocents, is it more important to quibble over the label we give them (say, "freedom fighters" or "terrorists") or that we get them to stop killing innocents?
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 07:46 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Some important acts in the Original Post are acts of uttering words.
Edited on Thu Jul-24-08 07:46 PM by Boojatta
If the action in question is using words, then how can the choice of words be irrelevant? There's an important difference between what Shakespeare wrote (e.g. "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet") and what a chimp at a typewriter writes.
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 08:37 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. The original post concerns uttering words about a situation.
Edited on Fri Jul-25-08 08:50 AM by Jim__
My response is that the words being uttered are not about a particularly important aspect of the situation. For instance in the case where we are concerned about violent, unfair elections (as described in the original post) what we label the government is a fairly superficial concern.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 10:40 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Well, if word choice truly doesn't matter ...
... then it shouldn't matter if Katie Couric casually mentions during a news broadcast, after referring to the Pope, that it's unfortunate that he's not a Christian. After all, that wouldn't change the Pope's views about any substantive issue. "Christian" is merely a superficial label and its meaning is open to debate.

... and it shouldn't matter if Robert Mugabe says that the government of Zimbabwe makes no pretense of governing democratically, and that foreigners should stop judging it as though it were trying and failing to be democratic. After all, Mugabe's substantive policies remain as they are. Putting a label on them doesn't automatically make the label true.

... and it shouldn't matter if Senator John McCain says that David Duke has never been a racist. After all, what matters is not McCain's superficial assessment of David Duke, but the actual reality.
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 02:34 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Ah, but that's Juliet's point, isn't it?
Edited on Fri Jul-25-08 02:37 PM by Jim__
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.



Context, of course, is everything.

I'm sure many Catholics would be offended if Couric just came out and said the pope was not a Christian. But, in that case, it's the conversation that is the point. If she said it because, say, the pope were protecting priests that were molesting children; then I think the larger, more important, point is, not what Couric said, but what the pope did.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. If Romeo and Juliet were held apart...
because they were first cousins and their parents considered their potential pairing as incest, then Juliet could say something similar to what she says in the poem. The poem gives the impression of sincere emotion coming up against what is portrayed as an artificial or unimportant convention.

If Romeo had committed a serious crime, then she could use this:
What's a felon? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man.


If I'm not mistaken, in the actual story there is a blood feud dividing Romeo and Juliet, so justice is on Juliet's side. However, does she point out that a blood feud is an example of lawlessness? Does she propose that her marriage to Romeo could be the beginning of the end of the feud and of its violence and lawlessness?
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 04:27 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Juliet's claim really only applies to Romeo's name.
Edited on Fri Jul-25-08 04:29 PM by Jim__
You can change the poem to refer to something other than the name; but it no longer means the same thing.

Her claim is that the problem is specifically his name. Change his name and you change nothing about the thing that is Romeo; but you have resolved the problem.

If Romeo is a first-cousin or a felon, you can change the label of the attribute that is a named "felon" or "first-cousin"; but in those cases, the objection is to the attribute itself, not to the name of the attribute. Change the name of the attribute, and you've haven't taken away the attribute that makes Romeo objectionable.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 05:20 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. "Her claim is that the problem is specifically his name."
Okay, then why doesn't Romeo simply get his name officially changed? Is Romeo and Juliet a dramatic work about a rigid society that has assigned definite, fixed names to everybody and will not permit any changes?
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Romeo is young and in love. Of course he agrees to change his name.
Edited on Fri Jul-25-08 06:36 PM by Jim__
That's not the way the play works out though.
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 06:38 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Actually that is the solution they opted for
The plan was to fake their deaths and then run away together under new identities. They didn't have a system where people could easily change their names back then. It just went kind of wrong in the end. Very very very wrong.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 07:10 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. How did women change their surnames when they got married...
if there was no system?
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 09:23 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. They were treated more as property
But I think you know what is being said. The idea of simply changing his name was not an option then as it is now.
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Occam Bandage Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 12:48 PM
Response to Original message
9. Well, let's look at the definitions here.
Edited on Fri Jul-25-08 12:50 PM by Occam Bandage
Your government terms are defined entirely on process, not on beliefs; a state is a democracy if it holds free and fair elections, not if it simply believes it is a democracy.

Your racist is talking about terminology that is defined on beliefs. If he claims he is "not a racist," and he actually harbors racist beliefs, then he is a liar, plain and simple. He may claim he is a white separatist,

Now, when it comes to Christianity, well--"Christianity" is a pretty big word encompassing many things, and with as many definitions regarding who's in and who's out as there are observers. One might, as many Roman Catholics do, look at James 2:20, and claim that Christianity is defined at least in part on process. One might, as many Protestants do, look at John 3:16, and claim that Christianity ought be defined purely by faith. One might look at Matthew 7:1, realize the futility of plumbing another's consciousness for degree of Christianity, and simply declare (as one does with all other religious or political demographics) that another's profession of belief is adequate to accept his/her belief for any Terrestrial purposes. If you can find any criteria for "Christian-ness" that can be universally accepted, then great.
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