[FoRK] 911 - The war on understanding

Luis Villa < luis at tieguy.org > on > Tue Sep 12 18:04:50 PDT 2006

On 9/12/06, Tom Higgins <tomhiggins at gmail.com> wrote:
> Ok so your saying if we can all find a common ground then we can maybe
> , just maybe, live in proximity with each other without ripping each
> differing group a new orifice daily?

I don't think much common ground is needed, beyond certain basic
ground rules. Much of what we think of as crap happens because of
ignorance, poverty, fear, etc., of many followers of Islam, and not
because of the Islamic religion per se (Christianity was no better
once upon a time); and that we should not withdraw into our shells
because 'we can't know what is right'. Instead, we should realize that
certain Enlightenment values (scientific method to establish objective
truth where possible, democracy to resolve most conflicts, basic
guaranteed civil rights, etc.) *are* right, or as right as we can
reasonably hope to be, and we should strive to build institutions,
policies, etc., (perhaps under certain very specific conditions, even
nations) that reflect those values, not just in our own country, but
abroad as well. To aim at merely 'not killing innocents' is a very low
goal, and one that reflects a defeatism and all-encompassing moral
relativism that I can't accept, even though I accept that in many
cases moral relativism is the right path to choose.

[Concrete example of that last case: I accept that in many places, a
true democracy (inc. freedom of speech and the press) would vote to
have a mostly sharia-based system of law. I'm OK with that; as Ian
says, it is hard to know what is 'right' when speaking of moral law
and punishment, though I have a fair amount of faith that such a
system would eventually evolve into a form we're more comfortable
with.  I am not OK with a *dictatorship* that would put the same
system of law in place; I think denying people the right to regularly
elect their government is unambigously wrong.]


> Ok, so factor this into your mix.....
> http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article1433344.ece
> " Religious police ban cats and dogs
> By Donna Abu-Nasr in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
> Published: 10 September 2006
> Saudi Arabia's religious police, the Muttawa, are normally tasked with
> chiding women to cover themselves and ensuring men attend mosque. Now
> they are turning to a new target: cats and dogs. They have issued a
> decree banning the sale of the pets, seen as a sign of Western
> influence.
> The prohibition on dogs is unsurprising, since conservative Muslims
> despise the animals as unclean. But the cat ban has astonished many,
> since Islamic tradition holds that the Prophet Mohamed loved cats ­
> even in one instance letting a cat drink from his ablutions water
> before washing himself for prayers.
>  The Muttawa enforce Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic code, prowling
> streets and malls to ensure unmarried men and women do not mix,
> confronting women they feel are not properly covered and urging men to
> go to prayers. But they have wide leeway to enforce any rules they
> deem necessary to uphold the social order.
> The new decree, which applies to the Red Sea port of Jeddah and the
> holy city of Mecca, bans the sale of cats and dogs because "some
> youths have been buying them and parading them in public," says the
> Municipal Affairs Ministry.
> "
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