Dream of the Dragon

Month: August, 2010

Identifying Evil

by Justin

The first step in identifying an evil practice or individual is to define the word itself. I’ll open with the Wikipedia version as it’s as great (not necessarily wholly accurate) an authority these days as anything else:

the intention of causing harm or destruction while threatening or deliberately violating morality. Largely due to the subjectivity of the word morality (which may refer to a society’s moral code, one’s own moral system, relative morality, absolute morality, etc.), there is no agreement about whether evil is a matter of social custom or universally correct principle that overrides custom.

The harm and destruction bit is pretty straight forward – but then you hit the immediate snag of absolute morality and the challenges of identifying (and condemning) evil across great cultural divides. This is a critical issue in W’s glorious legacy of the ‘War on Terror’. Launching missiles at an idea should have seemed like nonsense from the beginning, but 9/11 and its aftermath were the direct product of an ideological schism. So it almost makes sense. And in that administration’s defense, radical and violent fundamentalism has a near intoxicating stench of evil all over it. Read the rest of this entry »

On Same-sex Marriage

by Justin

Today’s personal revelation, hot on the overturn of Proposition 8 in California (the Cali kids should have known better from the beginning), emerged when I realized that I don’t understand the arguments against same-sex marriage. My belief in equal rights and my opposition to archaic judeo-christian ideals were always enough to bolster my support of gay marriage. Really, it seemed like common sense and a belief in the Golden Rule would be enough to silence the debate.

But I thought to myself, with no expectation of being swayed but in hopes of better understanding what I deemed to be an enemy of freedom, maybe I should read the secular or ‘liberal’ cases for the preservation of marriage as a strictly heterosexual institution. For all I knew, I was mirroring the ignorance I condemned by refusing to understand the opposing view. So I spent an hour reading through the popular arguments against same-sex marriage. I’ll save you the suspense of reading through the whole post to discover my conclusion: they’re more ignorant than I imagined. It’s willful ignorance in the extreme and ultimately falls under one of two headings: zealous adherence to religious dogma or paralyzing fear of change. (Quick note – those are really sides of the same coin, and paralyzing isn’t the right word as the fearful are remarkably well mobilized against the threat to their beliefs.) Read the rest of this entry »