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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 798

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with questioning the motives of people making an argument on any topic is that it says nothing about the merits of that argument. One could say that among those arguing in favor of the mosque are some who think America deserved what it got on 9/11. However, that would say nothing about the merits of the case one way or another.

I have never suggested that Muslims should not be allowed to build a mosque any place they choose. What I am suggesting is that if they intend this mosque as a bridge-building gesture, their choice of location is a mistake.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2510

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I reiterate: Being prejudiced is not always wrong. That most interpretations of the word are pejorative doesn't change that. And the crux of the post in which I suggested that pre-judgment is sometimes a good thing is that humans ought to act humanely to one another. Is that a prejudgement and thus a prejudice? Yes. Is it wrong? No. It was not a provocation to start a debate on semantics, although I will enter the lists if I must.
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Donna Lea Simpson



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 249
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
@marylski:

I disagree. Although prejudice has come to have a negative connotation, at base it means pre-judging, and we all do it. We all have ethical, moral, religious, social, and personal rules upon which we base our actions and our opinions. On the basis of those rules, we pre-judge some actions and events such as theft, infidelity, lying, drug abuse as harmful. What are laws forbidding certain activities except pre-judgements that those activities are in some way harmful?


How is it 'prejudging' to teach your kids that certain actions - your own examples are theft, lying, drug abuse - are harmful? There are proven past examples that these are harmful to individuals and society as a whole, so teachings and legislation against them are not 'prejudging', but judging after the fact and taking preventative measures against the same societal ills in future.
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Lee



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 215

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@JaneO,
And I think you have to question the motives of people's opinions if you want to get to the truth of the matter. It certainly goes to the merits of an argument if you are arguing with someone who is prejudiced. In fact, I don't see how you get to the merits of an argument if you don't know the other's motives for making an argument.

When people incorrectly and unfairly make every Muslim a terrorist, there is no way to get to the merits of the argument about whether they should build there. But this country has done this in a bigger way before - we actually imprisoned Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during WWII just because they had Japanese born ancestors. At least we haven't gone that far - yet.
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maryskl



Joined: 25 Apr 2009
Posts: 356
Location: Alabama

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
I reiterate: Being prejudiced is not always wrong. That most interpretations of the word are pejorative doesn't change that. And the crux of the post in which I suggested that pre-judgment is sometimes a good thing is that humans ought to act humanely to one another. Is that a prejudgement and thus a prejudice? Yes. Is it wrong? No. It was not a provocation to start a debate on semantics, although I will enter the lists if I must.


When the only means we have of debating on this forum are words, we need to use those words in a way that people understand. What you have described as examples of prejudice, I would understand as examples of aphorisms. Whether a prejudiced opinion is favorable or unfavorable, it is still made without enough facts in evidence to make a sound decision. For example: studies show that attractive people are more likely to be hired for a job than unattractive people. The interviewer may be favorably impressed with an attractive applicant, but that prejudicial feeling might result in the hiring of an employee who is less qualified. The attractive applicant might turn out to be the most qualified, but without any other facts in evidence or giving the unattractive person a chance, we would never know. I personally prefer to have as many facts as possible before I make a decision or judgment.
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 798

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Lee
It certainly goes to the merits of an argument if you are arguing with someone who is prejudiced.
No. It may go to the merits of the person, but not to the merits of the argument they are presenting. It is quite possible on any given issue for a thoroughly despicable person to be correct while the sweet gentle person is wrong.
In fact, I don't see how you get to the merits of an argument if you don't know the other's motives for making an argument.
Simple. You analyze the argument itself. "You're only saying that because..." is never a valid argument for anything.
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Lee



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 215

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@JaneO

We'll have to disagree - I believe that if someone is prejudiced, it's going to color what they think and what they say.
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maryskl



Joined: 25 Apr 2009
Posts: 356
Location: Alabama

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JaneO wrote:
@Lee
It certainly goes to the merits of an argument if you are arguing with someone who is prejudiced.
No. It may go to the merits of the person, but not to the merits of the argument they are presenting. It is quite possible on any given issue for a thoroughly despicable person to be correct while the sweet gentle person is wrong.
In fact, I don't see how you get to the merits of an argument if you don't know the other's motives for making an argument.
Simple. You analyze the argument itself. "You're only saying that because..." is never a valid argument for anything.


I agree with you on the merits Jane...but I think the REASONS for the argument have a bearing on motivation. What is the reason one is debating an issue in the first place? For arguments sake? To change minds? To support your dearly held convictions? If you know what motivation a person has for taking the stance they do, then the tact you take might differ according to that motivation. If one is motivated by fear, then using a logical argument might not suffice. One would have to find a way to assuage those fears first (providing they have the means to do so). If it is a personal conviction based on your own set of mores, then there will be few arguments that could sway a person.

If you sense that someone's stance is motivated by a prejudicial opinion (and we all have them), then placing facts that would help to more clearly define the issue might make a difference. I think that some of our prejudices are so deeply ingrained that we hardly realize a prejudice exists. Some we acknowledge freely. I am a big fan of college football and love the Alabama Crimson Tide. I freely acknowledge my prejudice in favor of them. In a controversial call by referees, I will be more apt to take the side of my football team vs. their opponent. Is that right? No. Is my prejudice harmful? Probably not. In the grand scheme of things, the outcome of a football game is not going to have a great impact on the world.

Perhaps MY prejudice in this matter is my knee-jerk concern for the underdog. When I see people/groups with more power go after those with less power, my initial reaction is to support the less powerful. What I have failed to acknowledge or consider is the motivation of the Muslims wanting to build the mosque. IF their motivation is more subversive and the true reason they want the facility at that location is to stick out their tongues at the "infidel" or use it as a base to foment more discord, then I would lose any sympathy while still acknowledging their right to build that facility. If their motivation was to use the mosque as a site to launch another terrorist attack, then I would openly and actively oppose them.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2510

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@marylski: Yes, all we have is words. But we also have to take the entirety of a statement into account. I stated that prejudice is not always bad. I went on to explain what I meant by that statement. However, in your response you took only the word "prejudice" into account, arguing about prejudice rather than the point I was making. That's a shift in the argument.

However, I can defend the idea that prejudice is not always wrong. Indeed, you gave an example, mild though it might be, in your response to JaneO, so you must think that some pre-judgements are OK or at least not terribly bad. Most people, if asked, would say, lying is wrong. We all lie on occasion, usually to keep discord at a minimum, as when we don't tell another, when asked, that they look lousy in that color or agree that yes, the clothes they're wearing have style, when we actually think they're frumpish. So, if sometimes lying is OK, why would most insist lying is wrong? Why would anyone make that pre-judgement about lying, even though they probably do lie, even if for a fairly good reason?
And it is a prejudgement, isn't it? For what is the factual evidence that makes lying wrong, when the evidence suggests that it just as often serves a somewhat valuable purpose?
Yes, it may be aphoristic to insist that lying is wrong. It's nonetheless a prejudicial statement. And a great part of the functioning of our society depends upon those prejudicial beliefs...or aphorisms, if you will, codified into rules and laws.
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maryskl



Joined: 25 Apr 2009
Posts: 356
Location: Alabama

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
@marylski: Yes, all we have is words. But we also have to take the entirety of a statement into account. I stated that prejudice is not always bad. I went on to explain what I meant by that statement. However, in your response you took only the word "prejudice" into account, arguing about prejudice rather than the point I was making. That's a shift in the argument.

However, I can defend the idea that prejudice is not always wrong. Indeed, you gave an example, mild though it might be, in your response to JaneO, so you must think that some pre-judgements are OK or at least not terribly bad. Most people, if asked, would say, lying is wrong. We all lie on occasion, usually to keep discord at a minimum, as when we don't tell another, when asked, that they look lousy in that color or agree that yes, the clothes they're wearing have style, when we actually think they're frumpish. So, if sometimes lying is OK, why would most insist lying is wrong? Why would anyone make that pre-judgement about lying, even though they probably do lie, even if for a fairly good reason?
And it is a prejudgement, isn't it? For what is the factual evidence that makes lying wrong, when the evidence suggests that it just as often serves a somewhat valuable purpose?
Yes, it may be aphoristic to insist that lying is wrong. It's nonetheless a prejudicial statement. And a great part of the functioning of our society depends upon those prejudicial beliefs...or aphorisms, if you will, codified into rules and laws.


So are you saying that EVERYTHING in society is prejudicial? That there can never be enough facts to make an unqualified statement? That there is always some exception that disproves the rule? If that is the case, then why the distinction between "judging" and "prejudging" in our vocabulary? Is our language an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable? Perhaps if we got down on a very philosophical level we could argue that all meaning is based on human frailty and is therefore an artificial construct.

How about if we say that lying is TYPICALLY wrong, but there may be instances in which it is better to do so? So by the same token, prejudice is TYPICALLY wrong, but there may be instances in which it is acceptable to do so.
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maryskl



Joined: 25 Apr 2009
Posts: 356
Location: Alabama

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="dick"]@marylski: Yes, all we have is words. But we also have to take the entirety of a statement into account. I stated that prejudice is not always bad. I went on to explain what I meant by that statement. However, in your response you took only the word "prejudice" into account, arguing about prejudice rather than the point I was making. That's a shift in the argument.

Quote:


I think I responded to the empathy/sympathy argument several times and did so again in that particular post. How is that shifting the argument when I responded to both of your points: prejudice is sometimes a good thing and your prejudice had nothing to do with religion but with the feelings of empathy you have with the victims and their families?

If I had said that murder was sometimes a good thing, most people would have jumped on me with both feet. We can find exceptions for almost anything, but that still does not mean that in the majority of cases certain things are wrong and destructive. I believe pre-judging falls into that category. Your provocative statement about prejudice seemed to me an attempt to deflect and place your opinion in a more positive light...that you are more favorably prejudiced towards empathy. Yet I see no empathy toward the millions of Muslims who do not espouse violence and hatred toward the US. Is your empathetic prejudice confined to those you can identify with? Do you feel it necessary for all Christians to be apologists for those fringe Christian groups that incite violence? I am responsible for my own behavior and not those who I might be connected with through some group. So why do we continue to think it is OK to blame the entire Muslim religion for the actions of a few?
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2510

PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@marylski:
"So are you saying that EVERYTHING in society is prejudicial?"

I don't think so. I'm saying that most social rules and a great number of laws are prejudicial statements. It's the guilt or non-guilt of the perpetrator which is not.

"That there can never be enough facts to make an unqualified statement?"

Definitely not saying that. "He is dead," after testing which demonstrates it, for example.

"That there is always some exception that disproves the rule?"

I think that, in the great majority of cases, that's probably true--which hedges a bit, but I'd stand by it.

" If that is the case, then why the distinction between "judging" and "prejudging" in our vocabulary? Is our language an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable? "

Language represents, it doesn't establish anything. That's why, I guess that we have waffling words like "maybe," and "perhaps." Isn't the intent of this discussion an attempt to establish one or the other points of view? I've always found the Biblical passage about Pilate asking "what is truth" and not staying for an answer ironic because it suggests there is one and he doesn't want to hear it. But it may be that there is no answer, so what would be the point of staying.

"Perhaps if we got down on a very philosophical level we could argue that all meaning is based on human frailty and is therefore an artificial construct."

That's probably accurate.

"How about if we say that lying is TYPICALLY wrong, but there may be instances in which it is better to do so? So by the same token, prejudice is TYPICALLY wrong, but there may be instances in which it is acceptable to do so."

Were I to find that unacceptable, I would have to rescind my statement that prejudice is not always a bad thing, wouldn't I?
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Sterling_95



Joined: 04 Oct 2008
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
However, I can defend the idea that prejudice is not always wrong. Indeed, you gave an example, mild though it might be, in your response to JaneO, so you must think that some pre-judgements are OK or at least not terribly bad. Most people, if asked, would say, lying is wrong. We all lie on occasion, usually to keep discord at a minimum, as when we don't tell another, when asked, that they look lousy in that color or agree that yes, the clothes they're wearing have style, when we actually think they're frumpish. So, if sometimes lying is OK, why would most insist lying is wrong? Why would anyone make that pre-judgement about lying, even though they probably do lie, even if for a fairly good reason?
And it is a prejudgement, isn't it? For what is the factual evidence that makes lying wrong, when the evidence suggests that it just as often serves a somewhat valuable purpose?


I can certainly see Dick's point. To illustrate, here's a question for all the liberal readers on this thread: what comes to mind when I say "Glenn Beck watcher"?

For the conservative readers: what comes to mind when I say "socialist"?

Chances are, the second you read about the quoted section, you had a knee jerk reaction and that reaction is likely rooted in prejudice. We all make prejudgments in the world and we all have our prejudices. The only thing that can be done is be aware of them and when they can hurt and hinder rather than help. Prejudices are sometimes just a negative label for gut reactions/instinct.

On the topic of the mosque, I think the founders of Park51 expressed my feelings perfectly:
Quote:

You're free to open whatever you like. If you won't consider [Muslim] sensibilities, you're not going to build dialog


This was said in response to a joke about opening up a gay bar right next to the community center. Although the community center people are not forbidding anything, they were clearly offended as they saw it as insensitive to their sensibilities. Likewise, although there's no legal reason to forbid the community center, building the community center so close to the site clearly stepped on some sensibilities. Getting mulish when challenged didn't help their case. Calling the movement the "Cordoba Initiative" was either a deliberate provocation or a spectacular example of someone not doing their research.

I dislike curtailing freedom of religion in any fashion and I deplore the political correctness that declares if all faiths can't be represented, no one's will be. If a douchebag like Fred Phelps is entitled to parade around airing his views at people's funerals, there should be no reason why Muslims can't build a community center wherever they feel like, so long as it's not being funded by the government and violating separation of church and state. However, my practical side thinks that Daisy Khan and Imam Rauf may want to remember that saying about discretion and valor and instead devote their funds to building the community center adjacent to one of the existing mosques. This would:

- Make the point in a small, but significant manner that Muslims have been a part of this community for a while
- Get rid of the accusations that this is meant to be a symbol of conquest
- Disperse some of the media attention. Right now, the media - both right and left - are putting Islam under a microscope. That is not a good thing.

Right now, as things are going, it's becoming a media circus and things are going badly. If the point was to build dialog, that's long since gone. Ditto hurt feelings. And according to my Muslim friends, they are long past the point of build the community center or don't - they just resent being the political cause du jour in the latest conservative vs. liberal dogfight.
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LizE



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 253

PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:32 am    Post subject: Re: Ya' know... Reply with quote

dick wrote:
I'm pretty much in sympathy with the groups that want to keep the mosque from being sited near ground zero. Seems a rather tacky thing for the Muslims to do, don't you think? It certainly shows very little empathy.


So, Dick, you think the Muslims are insensitive, do you? Even though everyone agrees that 9/11 was the work of a small band of terrorists, all Muslims should refrain from all behavior that non-Muslim Americans might find in any way offensive? After all, when it comes to 9/11 and subsequent events, we're the only victims here. Right?

12 US soldiers face trial after Afghan civilians were 'killed for sport and their fingers collected as trophies'


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/travelnews/article-1310540/Twelve-US-soldiers-face-trial-Afghan-civilians-killed-sport--whistle-blower-originally-ignored.html

US Admits role in February killing of Afghan women

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/05/world/asia/05afghan.html

Are US Forces Executing Kids in Afghanistan? Americans Don't Even Know to Ask

http://pubrecord.org/world/6451/forces-executing-afghanistan/

Iraqis Angered as Blackwater Charges Are Dropped

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/02/us/02blackwater.html?_r=1

I hope you'll take the time to read these articles, then compare the level of American sympathy for these victims with the vigils that were held in Muslim countries after 9/11. Compare the air time these stories receive with non-stop coverage of this mosque. How about comparing the 'insensitivity' of Muslims who only want to exercise their constitutionally protected right to build a house of worship with Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder who told his mercenaries in Iraq that this was a crusade? Then tell me...who has the empathy problem here?
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LizE



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 253

PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to add that in re-reading this thread, it strikes me as incredible that the fact we have been at war with Muslim countries for the past 8 years has been ignored. And that far from stopping, these wars continue to escalate, just as George Bush predicted when he said, "This crusade, this war on terror, is gonna take awhile."

The mosque and Koran burning are not taking place in a vacuum, and people around the world--Muslim and non-Muslim--view these issues in the context of the reality they see around them. This includes the stories I posted earlier and many, many more--Abu Ghraib, Bagram, the refusal of US courts to grant habeas corpus rights to Bagram detainees, or legal redress to victims of rendition and torture, or in the case of the Blackwater victims, the unprovoked murder of civilians in a public place in front of many, many eyewitnesses. Not to mention the invasion of Iraq on the basis of what can at best be described as a tragic mistake and at worst a deliberate lie. Either way, it has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, the displacement of millions, and the wreck of an entire country.

In light of all this, to point to public reaction to building mosques in NY and burning a book in Florida as representative of American attitudes toward Muslims seems a bit bizarre.
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