Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The morality of stupidity

Via Andrew Ian Dodge, I find this irritatingly preachy article by Jenny McCartney, on the subject of computer games.
The f-word might be everywhere now, from playgrounds to the titles of BBC documentaries, but it's the m-word that can render people really twitchy. Opinion-formers will squirm to avoid an argument that is seen to be based on moral considerations: they will grope instead for the comfort-blanket of scientific data, and "pragmatic approaches", and "natural concerns".

Look, love, morality is a personal thing: your morality may not be the same as my morality. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it. Therefore it is entirely wrong that you should enforce your morality on me via legislation, which is what you would like to do.
Yet the truth, surely, is that the majority of us would indeed recoil from the idea that our teenage son or daughter was upstairs playing Manhunt 2, a recently licensed game in which the protagonist, an escaper from an experimental asylum, tortures and murders other players in the most graphic ways.

Well, don't fucking buy your fucking kid the fucking game then, you arse. Or, if they have the ability to buy it themselves, then forbid them to buy it as long as they live under your roof. I think that is perfectly acceptable: your house, your rules.

But don't bitch and whine to me about your blasted morality.

27 comments:

bintyd said...

The breakdown of moral absolutes and the breakdown of society are not coincidences.

The UK edition of TIME magazine is running an interesting article about youth crime, it posits that for the first time in our nation's history, we are afraid of our own children (and for good reasons). Your philosophy of life does not allow you to criticise their lifestyle, you can not use your "subjective" moral viewpoint to condemn the state of our society, you may (with some fudging of moral relativisms logical conclusions) be able to condemn the final products of their lifestyles (what their lifestyles may lead to) - i.e. some kid kicking a goth/swan to death - but in the run up to that event, you cannot criticise them, you cannot stop them. This is the problem. Because you cannot say that an ASBO teen's choices and moral compass is off until they actually curtail another person's freedom, means that you allow everything that runs up to that event, simply because they have not done anything to harm others...yet. This is why we are in the situation that we are in this country.

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Binty

Exactly. I've got a friend who was up in court yesterday for "Threatening Behaviour" for verbally sorting out a bunch of thugarettes who had just assaulted his daughter, kicked his back gate in and a few other little niceties of modern behaviour. And all he did was give them a verbal beasting.

They're still wandering around as a gang though.

xoggoth said...

TBH, although I am familiar with the dictionary definition, I have no real idea what morality means.

I have no belief in any sort of religious or other higher authority. If asked I would say I am driven by practical considerations, I do not steal or assault people because I can understand what it feels like and do not want the same done to me.

This is mostly nonsense. The reality probably, as for many, is that I do not because I was raised not to, although there was no particular religious imperative behind it.

It is quite possible to raise children as good citizens without the absolute moral imperatives of religion or any of the political isms that substitute for it.

The problem is not so much lack of morality, but the lack of any guidance of any sort.

bintyd said...

xoggoth,
by the act of your parents teaching you the difference between "right" and "wrong", they were in a very real sense giving you moral teachings, and an absolute moral framework. As soon as you say that something is "wrong", you are assuming that it's immoral standing is objective and seperated from the subjective relativism DK espouses. It doesn't have to come from a religious mouth to be a moral absolute (although the very laws we accept and live by today are based on Judeo-Christian foundations through people such as Blackstone, Coke etc..)

"Stealing is wrong, don't do it or you will get a good hiding" is something my parents used to say and might still say. This had the effect of 1) telling me that stealing was morally wrong, and, 2) that I would be responsible for my actions and be punished if I stole. Two things which are sadly lacking in modern parenting, and by golly are we seeing the results in today's teens.

DK and the rest of the radical loonies preach this moral relativism crap because for them it is the ultimate freedom to do whatever they want, and on the face of it, it does seem freeing doesn't it?

"Hey, I'm cool, you're cool, just let me do whatever I want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone" Is probably similar to the kind of McPhilosophy that comes out of DK's mouth, but it is decieving. While letting him get on with his drinking and occasional drug-taking might not have any visible direct negative effect on those around him, the reality is that they do. What do you think would be the logical conclusion of allowing drugs to be legal DK? Would we see lots of careful teens and adults taking drugs in a socially responsible way (whatever that means!!) or would it be a disaster to society, a drugs equivalent of the current binge-drinking shambles we currently have to live with? Do you think we would see less or more crime as a result of the inevitable increase of crack and heroin addicts whose arms are going necrotic because of the needles?

The kind of ideas DK espouses do not build a cohesive and good society, it breeds selfishness, a lack of responsibility, and alienation. we see the results of such thinking all over the country.

It's all about self interest. DK will never change his ideas because they allow him to justify doing whatever the hell he wants to do.

Ask anyone who was alive during the 50s if society was better then, or better now, I guarantee they will be waxing nostalgic about those good-ol-days when there was no such thing as ASBOs, low teen pregnancies, practically zero drug use and crime, and the only teen in the local jail cells were college students caught pulling a prank on their head teacher's car.

Life sucks in Britain today, primarily because of the liberal progressivism which continues to wash away the frameworks which held our society together in the past.

Bogart said...

Binty,

Agreed. If there weren't so many violent computer games, rap music glamourising the use of guns and gangs, or movies where lives are taking at a whim, then you know what?? We might just see less teen crime on our streets. But NO! to you, Devil's Kitchen, it is more important that people have the right to do whatever they want regardless of the consequences to society. You will literally watch this nation go down the toilet for the sake of being able to say that no one is restricting your freedoms. One day, people will be marvelling at how incredibly stupid the people of our age actually were.

Jules said...

^well, it IS April Fool's day.

Anonymous said...

Let's just follow the Saudi model - set up a Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Suppression of Vice. Then Bindy can be Britain's first Grand Poobah of Morality. They can take away all those icky civil rights that allow some of us to do things that Bindy, Jenny McCarthy & Co. disapprove of.

The thing we need, more than anything else right now, is a bunch of self-loathing pants-pissing insecure pompous fuckwits telling us exactly what to do and explaining that they know how we should live our lives. Oh, wait - we already have that; it's called the Labour government.

defender said...

It seems to me though that the state has removed the freedom of the individual to deal with their responsibilities in a responsibale manner. They are told in minute detail whats right and whats wrong.
Its a main reason for revolting.
I am seriously waiting for a little red booklet to be issued to us for our daily guidance.
There is a point at which each of us revolt, some are more tolerant than others, but we all have a point when enough becomes enough for real.
To bring up arguments that its computer games, drink, drugs, films as the reason is to me missing the argument.
We have lost our collective morality to the state , the EU and to big multinationals.

killgarden said...

Oh anonymous, that's hardly what bindy was advocating was it. Its fuckwits like you who hear an argument, then compare it to some extreme regime in order to undermine what is a least a well argued piece, well you just sound like a dipshit. Go and spend some time with your bastard children before they go and throw rocks at some firemen. Honestly, some people are such tosspots.

xoggoth said...

Ok, bintyd, if that's morality, I agree, although I would have called it practical instruction in citizenship myself. I rather assumed, although you did not say, that you came from a religious direction.

As for "moral relativism", that is something everyone suffers from, like the many Christians who should believe in love and turning the other cheek but are very quick to believe in justifiable wars even when thousands of innocents get killed.

Maybe there is nowt wrong with it, surely we should weigh relative consequences of our actions? I would certainly have supported shooting Mugabe 15 years ago if I had known all the misery he would inflict rather than just say murder is wrong. One could come up with numerous other examples but in my view there should be no absolute rules or standards, it depends on the circumstances. There is a greater good and that is moral too, just not absolute.

As for the drugs, that is really a practical issue, we know darn well that legalisation would end up with even more unable to hold down a job. DK's public admissions of illegal acts are pretty unwise in my view but I doubt if they have any impact on others and if he can handle it and afford it that is his business. Drugs do not make inadequate dependent people, rather inadequate dependent people resort to drugs.

defender said...

As for the binge drinking, our kids are warming up for a bit of a fight in the near future, believe it or not, whats going on in England is beginning to piss them off. But guess what, they are our kids, they have been treated like shit compared to when I was there age and as the grow older they are not going to be happy with their lot.
Tommy Atkins comes to mind. God bless them all.

Anonymous said...

Something which I do think has had a big effect on the breakdown of society is the big city. I think the anonymity and alienation which come from such large numbers is truly damaging to the entire concept of community. Small towns suffer much less crime ratio simply because there is a sense of collective identity and a communal closeness which is totally lost in cities. A violent attack in a small town is likely to ripple out and touch most of the people who live there. In the cities there is just a sea of faceless victims, anonymous people.

Sir Henry Morgan said...

DK

It was me who sent your link (not your email address - just the site link) to The Line is Here suggesting they try and get a entry from you for their Libertarian Carnival the other day.

Thank you for responding to them. I will remember.

bintyd said...

xoggoth,

I was coming at it from a religious perspective, but there are plenty of people out there who aren't religious, but who believe in absolutes, they just don't use the same discourse.

This is not a forum for preaching, but I think that the whole "turning the other cheek" is widely misunderstood. It doesn't mean that you should let people walk all over you, in fact it has a deeper cultural meaning: At the time of Jesus, striking someone deemed to be of a lower class with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance. If the persecuted person "turned the other cheek," the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. The other alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality, by turning the other cheek the persecuted was in effect demanding equality.

The big JC was the original rebel, an archytype at subverting cultural traditions and discourse.

But then again, you get someone like Bush who starts a war and says that God told him to. So Christians can't win.

Your argument about shifting morals is perhaps a nice one, but it is idealistic. When morals aren't teathered to the ground, they can be used to permit either good works or indeed atrocities. Hitler shifted a whole nation's conception of what it was to be human. In a world of moral relativism, whoever makes the most convincing argument shapes the beliefs of the masses.

I spoke of drug legalization because DK has said on numerous occasions that he thinks it would be a good idea. I think he is wrong.

DK, you heard it here... You are inadequate!

Budgie said...

You can almost hear Marvin: "Truth, don't talk to me about Truth".

Now I believe Truth must be absolute otherwise the concept has no meaning.

But when someone says "Truth is absolute" in practice he usually means " MY Truth is absolute - so you must all obey ME". And the sequel is authoritarianism or tyranny.

xoggoth said...

I did not say DK was inadequate as he seems a successful sort who can take it or leave it, but that is not true of the majority of drug users.

Unfortunately, there is nothing about morality "being tethered to the ground" that guarantees good. Is cutting off a thief's hands ok? That isn't even practical but it's pretty absolute morality.

The argument on Hitler's nature has been going on for decades and we will not solve it here but I would have called Hitler's public views, what people most condemn in him, very much absolutist morality - Jews, mental defectives, homosexuals were to be eliminated. I think saner people, regardless of their predudices, might vary their view depending on the individual.

I prefer to mostly go with nature, the goals that society should have are those that people instinctively want and the means should be whatever works in practice.

Ok, nature is not always the best guide to society, step fathers would probably end up eating their step children as lions and many other predators do, but it's generally a sound starting point.

Jones said...

The bad news is that Truth with a capital 'T' and Morality with a capital 'M' are often harbingers of Oppression with a capital 'O'. Acceptable rules vary, and we should be very careful about legislating morality. Besides, I have found that 'Truth' is often no more than an opinion, and 'Morality' a shifting Chimera. Neither worth trusting your life to.

Now, apart from the basics of don't hurt, kill, lie, cheat or steal; where would you start forbidding people what to do in the comfort and security of their own home? And how many such similar strictures are you willing to accept for yourselves?

lettersfromatory said...

Parents obviously need to step in if their children have inappropriate games, but it does beg the question of why we allow sadistic games to be freely available on computers.

Jules said...

Because there's a market for them, and no-one is harmed in their production, neither do they cause harm when used by their target audience, and indeed no evidence exists that they cause harm to anyone in any way.

Hardly a strong case to sanction against a product wouldn't you agree.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Heh heh. My son from my first marriage wanted me to buy Manhunt 2 when he was about 13.

The chap in the shop said it was unsuitable and had an 18 certificate. I asked whether it was the sort of thing that would horrify his mother (with whom he lives) and the chap confirmed, yes, it would. So I said 'Great, I'll buy it then'.

To my knowledge, my son hasn't murdered anybody in the last four years.

monoi said...

Well Mark, according to bintyd, it is only a matter of time.

I'm with DK on this one, and particularly because I think that the main problem we have at the moment is the abdication of responsibility for one's actions. So deferring to "people who know whats good for you because their morals are better" is really the problem.

As for drug legalisation, where do you know that it would make the situation any worse than it is now ? With the amount of resources it consumes, the "legal" industry it has spawned and the illegal industry it has created out of the way, it would be much less costly to deal with the excesses. Those by the way should be the responsibility of family and friends 1st and foremost.

Anonymous said...

I grew up before the days of computer games. We ran around with toy guns, made bows and arrows and generally play acted killing each other. Of course we did other things as well. I don't kill or hurt people, I don't steal and I give back the money if I am given too much change. I am not religious, apart from weddings etc I have never been to church.

I was taught the difference between reality and play by my friends and family. I also found if we took things too far then someone did get hurt, not seriously, but you learnt the limits.

That what playing was about, learning. Computer games lose that link with real life. I play some of these games; Medal of Honour etc, it does not make we want to do it in real life, but then I had the opportunity to learn.

I am with DK, forcing someone else's morality on me by legislation is wrong. It will not give me a 'moral compass', the ability to decide what is right or wrong and when to stop. It just gives me another rule to follow. Once you start that then then you have to have a rule to cover every situation, which is where we appear to be heading now in this country.

James said...

“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.”

Winston Churchill

Rory Meakin said...

"xoggoth said...
I did not say DK was inadequate as he seems a successful sort who can take it or leave it, but that is not true of the majority of drug users."


This is such utter bullshit. Most people around my age I know take illegal drugs (not to mention legal ones), or at least used to and have grown out of it. Almost all without consequence. It is highly debatable whether the problems of those who did experience them are as a result of the drugs or simply a result of their addictive personalities and weak characters.

Seriously - where do people get this idea from that more than a small minority of drug users (whether currently illegal or legal) have problems?

And anyway, what the fuck business is it of some busybody interfering cunt what substances anyone other than themselves or their own children take into their bodies?

xoggoth said...

Leaving aside all your swearing (what is it with people on here that they cannot indulge in debate without pointless abuse of anyone they disagree with?) I do wonder what sort of drug users you meet rm. If your acquaintances are mostly reasonably intelligent sorts with jobs I don't disagree. I also agree that if people can handle the consequences themselves it is their business.

However, those drug users I have met through voluntary work are a very different type. They tend to drift in and out of council accomodation, mental hospitals and prisons and have no more ability to kick drugs on their own than they have of winning Apprentice. Week after week we delivered locally to people like that and I live in a nice area of Sussex. I do not know the statistics TBH but if they are a tiny minority of regular users I would be very surprised. f they

Unfortunately, the rest of us pick up the bill for them.

xoggoth said...

PS By "delivered locally" I meant I was delivering furniture not drugs!

Rory Meakin said...

“drug users I have met through voluntary work”
Doesn’t that make you stop and think. You met these people through voluntary work. Ie, they are charity cases. Now – how many intelligent, successful drug users did you ever think you’d meet among the people your charity was helping? I am pretty sure the majority of people under 35 have taken. How many of the people you describe are there? The truth is that most people who take them are normal – some successful and others not so. There are some self-destructive people who are drawn to drugs and who develop addictions. Most young people who go to late-night night clubs take drugs. Very few of them have a ‘problem’.

“Leaving aside all your swearing”
Yes – apologies for my intemperance. My posts are normally more mild-mannered.

“(what is it with people on here that they cannot indulge in debate without pointless abuse of anyone they disagree with?)”
I can’t speak for others, but I invariably find myself arguing with people who want to steal my property so they can spend it on things which take their fancy and/or lock me up for doing things they don’t approve of (but which don’t affect them).