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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Word Play

Allow me to illustrate the problem of language using some extremely common terms we see thrown around these days.
Bigotry: Intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.
We all know what bigotry is. Like the dictionary says here, it is intolerance towards those who differ with our own view. But wait! I think we need to examine "intolerance".
Tolerant: showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. From a Latin term meaning "to endure pain"
So, "intolerance" is not-tolerance. But tolerance is the willingness to allow the existence of views with which one does not agree. It is not the willingness to allow views that one agrees with. That's just normal operation, not tolerance. Tolerance is not embracing a view with which you disagree or it is not tolerance by definition. So a bigot is someone who does not allow to exist views other than his own. Someone who disagrees with them but allows them to exist -- the definition of tolerance -- cannot be called a bigot. Do you see the problem?

Let's try another.
Prejudice: an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason; any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
As all of us know, prejudice is bad. We must not be prejudiced. The error of prejudice, according to the definition, is "opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason." That is, our opinions ought to be informed by fact, not by pre-judging without the facts or without cause. So I ask, what if I have an unfavorable opinion of something or someone based on knowledge, thought, and/or reason? Can I then be termed "prejudiced"? Not according to the definition.

Here's a popular one.
Judgmental: involving the use or exercise of judgment; tending to make moral judgments.
We're not supposed to be judgmental. Of course, the definition of "judgmental" is located in its root, "judgment".
Judgment: the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion
Do you see the problem here? If "judgment" is the ability to judge objectively, authoritatively, and wisely -- having good sense -- then why would we not want to be judgmental? How is "judgmental" bad? Why are we being told, "Don't be wise in your decisions"? "Don't have good sense," doesn't make sense.

In my youth, when I wasn't allowed to use swear words, I amused myself by listening to how other people used them and laughing to myself about what they actually said. It turns out that paying attention to what people say can be funny when they don't have a clue what they're saying. Today our society is pinning its primary assaults on us as intolerant bigots, prejudiced and judgmental. They keep using those words. I don't think those words mean what they think they mean. If only they weren't so intolerant (not allowing a different view to exist) and non-judgmental (not making wise decisions), concluding what words mean without knowledge, thought, or reason (prejudiced).

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

One recent online article is judgmental of Trump supporters because David Duke supports Trump. I had to chuckle over that, because anybody can play that game. For instance, I've read online that Unabomber Ted Kaczynski is pro-Clinton.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

All these words have been redefined by the LEFT nowadays, in the same way they've redefined "marriage," "hate," and even "racism." George Orwell saw it coming.

Stan said...

Ah, yes, the "guilty by association" game. As long as you can link an opponent to someone everyone hates, you win!

Stan said...

Yes, Glenn, I think it is axiomatic that he who controls the language wins the argument. Orwell saw the writing on the wall where not only are the terms redefined, but they're redefined as their opposites. He was right; we're there now.

Danny Wright said...

It has occurred to me as of late that that word "prejudice", which was so prevalent when we were young, is almost unheard of today.

Stan said...

It's such a broad term, including racism, sexism, hetero- vs homo-sexual, and anything male and caucasian, apparently. So maybe they're using specifics rather than the generic "prejudice".

I did a quick search. I saw, for instance, an article yesterday entitled Is Feminism in danger from unconscious prejudice in politics? Indeed, The Huffington Post has an entire secion dedicated to "Prejudice". So does Newser. Maybe we're just not hearing it like we used to because it's just assumed. (Against us, obviously. The other "known fact" about prejudice is that only those in power can have it.)

David said...

Glenn, I'm no fan of the left, but I think laying all the blame at their feet goes too far. The right is just as guilty for agreeing with the new definitions. I always become cautious when someone accuses the other side fully for something. The other day I heard that the Dem's were leading this country because they have thoughtful, reasonable ideas and Rep's were the ones arguing from emotion. Both sides argue from emotion, and the failure to understand the fault of your own side doesn't help the situation. Finger-pointing doesn't help the discussion.

Craig said...

I've found that those on the left are much more likely to make assumptions based on prejudices than those on the right at this point. First, I think that the right has been beaten about the head and shoulders enough that we go out of our way to avoid it. Second, so much of the leftist worldview revolves around treating people as members of groups rather than as individuals. It's just much easier to lump people together based on perceived similarities rather than to deal with people as individuals.

Stan said...

"treating people as members of groups"

That happens a lot, and just not on the left. It seems to be just about anyone with whom one disagrees. But that procedure would be the definition of "prejudice", wouldn't it?

Marshall Art said...

But can we be truly "prejudiced" against the left when we are knowledgeable about who and what they are?

BTW, I don't have a problem grouping people if the grouping is justified. "The left" is a group of people who share similar actions, ideas and ideologies. The same goes for "the right". It's more a matter of speaking in generalities, which is simply a convenience, but not one that is conveniently too simple.

Danny Wright said...

David, I understand what you're saying, I think. But, if you look at issues on the basis of a platform, and examine each plank in the platform, and listen to all the arguments for and against each issue, the left's arguments are vacuous. Yes, I see right wingers make bad arguments and resort to emotion all the time. But in the final analysis, those rightists (may I use that word?) are using bad arguments because they don't know or understand the good ones or how to make them. That's not a slight on them either. Many are too busy working, raising families, paying bills and such to spend a lot of time exploring the arts of debate. For the leftist on the other hand, bad arguments are all they've got.

I'd be interested in seeing some examples of your point that are outside my explanation.

Stan said...

That was my point, Marshall. If we are not drawing conclusions based on ignorance or without reason, then it is not prejudice.

You would think that "the Left" was a monolith, but it's not, any more than "the Right", "conservatives", or even "Christians" are. As a generality I'm fine with the generalization -- the grouping together. But I'd prefer to find out what an individual thinks before I simply group in individual with a crowd.

Stan said...

Funny, Danny. On an entry about "word play", you make up a word ... "rightists". I like it.

David said...

As an example leaving politics behind, creationists are accused of being blindly beholden to myths while evolutionists are wisely holding to science, when in fact both are holding to a faith based worldview and interpreting the data to match, only their starting premise is different, and since neither is willing to admit that basic tenat, true discussion can never happen.

Danny Wright said...

Spellcheck didn't snag it. That was a surprise.

Danny Wright said...

I agree with you, David. Your example isn't what I had hoped for but I can make my point using it anyway.

I don't think people like, say, Ken Ham, use as a starting point, science. But Ham--and many others also, do answer the evolutionist's assertions according to the basis of their assertions, which they claim is science. He also makes a counter argument using science. think, generally speaking, that the creationists are generally consistent. They don't deny the faith that brought them to their conclusions but can get there using the same methods that the "scientist" does. The evolutionist, on the other hand, is inconsistent. He denies the faith required to get to his conclusion and goes so far at to impugn anyone who claims faith as a basis for anything at all.

So, while perhaps most Christians can't defend creationism all that well, nor can evolutionists for that matter, it doesn't follow then that good arguments haven't been made, or that the ignorant on both sides exemplify the basic arguments.

Marshall Art said...

Stan,

One can't categorize without first interviewing the individual. I'm aware that some on the left might possess a few "right-wing" beliefs, and indeed, I find that most are far more conservative then they are even aware. Certainly a lefty will insist HE should be judged on his merits, whereas that same lefty will be strongly pro-union, which gives raises to everyone regardless of merit (as an example).

But I tend to use the terms, "left" or "right" as generalizations in discussing various issues of the day. I don't see a better way to do it when referencing who is supporting what and for what reasons.

And in general, I think it's safe to say that those who use those terms you mention are generally guilty of being bigoted, prejudiced and intolerant, just as you suggest. Typically those people are center-left in my experience.

Stan said...

"I tend to use the terms, "left" or "right" as generalizations in discussing various issues of the day."

Exactly. In this sense you've indicated "the group" -- a generalized set of beliefs, opinions, positions, whatever -- that we all know. Any individual can place themselves in that group if they wish. What actually amuses me is when "the group" generalization doesn't fit the individual, but the individual is offended that the group has been so characterized.

Me? When the characterization of "Christian" (of which group I am) fails to match biblical Christianity, I have no problem saying, "I agree that that is wrong." In so doing, as an individual, I step outside the generalized group. Doesn't bother me. Seems to bother some.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

David,

The LEFT is to blame for inventing redefinition. SOME of the Right goes along with it for PC reasons and because they are cowards. The majority of the Right does not go along with the new definitions. The blame is indeed on the LEFT.

David said...

I find it hard to believe that a majority of the Right does not agree with the new definitions. Homosexuality as a orientation rather than choice appears to be widely agreed upon. The redefinition of marriage, I could agree with you on that since the population seems to consistently vote to keep the old way and the courts shoot it down. But for the most part, it appears that one side is pushing for new definitions and instead of arguing against the new definition, the other side is trying to argue using the same definition. In my eyes, that puts both sides to blame since arguing against there definition stops the acceptance of the new definition. Maybe the majority of Rights you know don't agree with the new definitions, but the appearance seems to be that the wider populace has.

Stan said...

I think that the majority of Americans have unconsciously bought into the new definitions. Very few are talking about them ... pointing out that they aren't the definitions. For instance, while 50-60% of Americans favor "gay marriage" and another 10% have no opinion, I'd argue that the remaining 30% mostly oppose it on moral reasons, not definition. Most of the Right understand "homosexual" to be a condition rather than a sexual choice. Maybe the Right tends toward a better understanding of the unborn as humans, but still not "in the image of God".

I'd say that the Right holds the better position, but very, very few see the shift in language that has been foisted on us.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Well, every conservative Christian I know personally does NOT agree with "orientation" vs "choice" with homosexuality.

Stan said...

Yeah, I get that, Glenn, but I'd guess that every conservative Christian you personally know probably constitutes a small percentage of the group.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Well that could me, but all the conservative sites I follow also refuse to say it's just an orientation.

Stan said...

How many, do you suppose, would say it is purely an act?

I noticed a shift in Bible translations for 1 Cor 6:9-10. They don't disagree, but they shift.
King James: "abusers of themselves with mankind"
Darby: "liers with mankind"
Young's Literal: "sodomites"
New American Standard: "homosexuals"
English Standard Version: "men who practice homosexuality"

They all agree, but the change between the NAS and ESV was necessary because so few understood that "homosexuals" was not a condition, but a practice. It's just the world we live in. Even if we do understand it, communicating it to a world that does not is difficult.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

And see, that's just the thing. It used to be the word "homosexual" DID mean the act, but the "gay" activists stole it to make the word a noun, identifying the person. Another one of those redefined words. I can't even remember which decade of the 1900s that took place in, but even the Bibles began using it as a noun because culture accepted the new definition. I try most of the time to make it a verb ("people who practice homosexuality [or homosexual behavior]) and only on rare occasions when I'm trying to save verbiage/time will I resort to using the word as a noun and then unusually try to remember to put it with quotations -- "homosexual."

The point is, whether or not one is "oriented" towards homosexual behavior is irrelevant because we are all "oriented" towards sins of various kinds. Acting on "orientations" is a choice.

David said...

Also, there's a difference between conservative Christian and Right. You're probably correct, a majority of conservative Christians don't agree with the new definition, but I still don't believe the same is true for the majority of the Right. The majority of a subset still a minority of the group.