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However - you can still apply reality-based reasoning to all of those topics.

E.g. if the argument is that nuclear power provides free, safe energy, it's entirely reality-based to debate if it really does.

If capital punishment is supposed to be the ultimate deterrent, you can ask if it really lowers crime rates.

And so on.

But the authoritarian argument is either 'You should agree with me because I will bully you unless you don't' or 'You must agree with me because I'm right.'

When I linked to Mary Whitehouse earlier it was to remind everyone that it wasn't all that long ago that we had someone famous in the UK appoint themselves as a guardian of public morals based solely on their personal religious prejudices, who took it upon themselves to harangue creative people if they produced anything she didn't like.

The argument - ultimately - was the same as Katrin's, i.e. 'This offends me so no one should do it.'

While a lot of people aren't happy about the state of public morality in the UK at the moment, I doubt many outside of religion feel that porn on TV, gay sex and swearing are the major moral challenges of the day.

The real breakdown has been in the morality of authority - and it was already starting while Whitehouse was fulminating.

All she did was distract from it with emotionally charged trivia that threw red meat to the 'moralists'.

I find a lot of TV ethically unwatchable - either too stupid to bother with, or too loaded with subtexts about greed and cutthroat competition to be comfortable viewing.

Whitehouse was never interested in facts to support her assertions. If she didn't want simulated gay sex in a theatre, she'd start a court case against a play.

Meanwhile the real horrors were happening elsewhere. And she was always far more obsessed with sex than with everyday social violence.

I can't help thinking that seems to be a familiar outcome when you let religious arguments drive your ethics.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 3rd, 2012 at 02:23:43 PM EST
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