This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Mutual Assured Destruction
John Loftus has been defending ridicule. I wonder if he has seen all the implications of his position.
OK, but consider people like Holding, Hays, and Ilion. These people are Christians who regularly use ridicule. Ilion, for example, thinks that I am way too nice, and says so on a regular basis. I say that niceness isn't the real issue, that in discussions of this type ridicule tends to feed the suspicion that the objects of ridicule are not being adequately represented. If you can ridicule and accurately represent at the same time that's quite an accomplishment. Effective critique of an opposing viewpoint requires the use of, for example, the principle of charity, which just doesn't go together with ridicule.
But do you now see that your arguments for ridicule could just as easily be used by Christian apologists. If I remember correctly, you wanted me to ban one of more people on my site who you thought weren't civil. But if your argument works for you against, say, Jeff Lowder, it means that, in the in-house debate on our side, my ridiculing colleagues are right and I am wrong. I need to get nastier.
Now I suppose you can say that since my arguments are good and my colleagues' arguments are bad, that you have earned the right to use ridicule but they haven't. But THEY think they also have good arguments, and that gives THEM the right to ridicule. We would then be, on my view, headed on the road to mutually assured destruction.
Now I suppose you can take the Dawkins line and say that "our ridiculers are smarter and wittier than your ridiculers."
RD: You might say that two can play at that game. Suppose the religious start treating us with naked contempt, how would we like it? I think the answer is that there is a real asymmetry here. We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can’t lose!
But I wonder how well that would hold up against the Outsider Test for Ridicule. Is Dawkins maybe a little biased? Has he read J. P. Holding? I'll bet not.
And do you really want the issue settled on these grounds in any event?