Sunny Hundal website



  • Family

    • Liberal Conspiracy
    • Sunny Hundal
  • Comrades

    • Andy Worthington
    • Angela Saini
    • Bartholomew’s notes
    • Bleeding Heart Show
    • Bloggerheads
    • Blood & Treasure
    • Campaign against Honour Killings
    • Cath Elliott
    • Chicken Yoghurt
    • Daily Mail Watch
    • Dave Hill
    • Dr. Mitu Khurana
    • Europhobia
    • Faith in Society
    • Feminism for non-lefties
    • Feministing
    • Gender Bytes
    • Harry’s Place
    • IKWRO
    • MediaWatchWatch
    • Ministry of Truth
    • Natalie Bennett
    • New Statesman blogs
    • Operation Black Vote
    • Our Kingdom
    • Robert Sharp
    • Rupa Huq
    • Shiraz Socialist
    • Shuggy’s Blog
    • Stumbling and Mumbling
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • The F Word
    • Though Cowards Flinch
    • Tory Troll
    • UK Polling Report
  • In-laws

    • Aaron Heath
    • Douglas Clark's saloon
    • Earwicga
    • Get There Steppin’
    • Incurable Hippie
    • Neha Viswanathan
    • Power of Choice
    • Rita Banerji
    • Sarah
    • Sepia Mutiny
    • Sonia Faleiro
    • Southall Black Sisters
    • The Langar Hall
    • Turban Head

  • Afghanistan to amend rape law, probably


    by Rumbold
    17th April, 2009 at 8:43 am    

    Recently, a law which legalised rape in marriage in the minority Shia community of Afghanistan was heavily criticised. Now, President Karzai has promised to change some of its provisions. However, it may not be in the way that human rights groups want:

    “Karzai told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that he and others were unaware of the provision in the legislation, which he said “has so many articles.” Karzai signed the measure into law last month.

    “Now I have instructed, in consultation with clergy of the country, that the law be revised and any article that is not in keeping with the Afghan constitution and Islamic Sharia must be removed from this law,” Karzai said.”

    A statement which gives him massive leeway to not change the most appalling aspects of the law.


                  Post to del.icio.us


    Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Sex equality,South Asia






    35 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. pickles

      New blog post: Afghanistan to amend rape law, probably http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4271




    1. Ashik — on 17th April, 2009 at 8:58 am  

      Does it really matter what the law says in Afghanistan? The governments writ barely runs outside Kabul and some large cities.

      Most Afghans have minimal contact with state structures like the courts. What Afghanistan needs is an evolution of view regarding the place of women in society.

    2. nick — on 17th April, 2009 at 9:13 am  

      So Karzai was unaware of what he was signing into law, because it “has so many articles”. The man is unfit to be president.

    3. fug — on 17th April, 2009 at 9:16 am  

      its not quite rape though is it.

    4. Rumbold — on 17th April, 2009 at 9:28 am  

      Agreed Ashik. Though how one affects a cultural change is beyond me.

      Nick:

      I found that worrying too, until I remembered that few politicians read the laws they passs- our Europe Minister hasn’t even read the Lisbon Treaty she put through the Commons.

      Fug:

      No, it is rape.

    5. Shamit — on 17th April, 2009 at 9:29 am  

      At a dinner party in our house last weekend a rather dumb bloke put it pretty much exactly the way fug put it at #3…and all the women (pretty much of all colour and creed) — lets just say weren’t happy to say it very mildly.

      So fug, you just don’t get it do you.

    6. The Common Humanist — on 17th April, 2009 at 9:35 am  

      “its not quite rape though is it”

      I really hope that you are playing devils advocate otherwise I fear for your current or future partner/wife, I really do.

    7. Ravi Naik — on 17th April, 2009 at 9:41 am  

      So fug, you just don’t get it do you.

      This reminds me of a recent controversy, where Sarah Palin’s choice for Alaska’s attorney general was turned down because among other things, he said “If a guy can’t rape his wife, who’s he gonna rape?”.

    8. fug — on 17th April, 2009 at 9:55 am  

      Its a whole different system of encultured sexual relations into which you opt upon marriage. You weren’t expecting Fazlur Rahman to randomly step out of the crumbling ruins of Afghan religious thought were you? I dont expect you to begin to be able to see where its coming from and its not my particular religious tradition. Yet I saw an aljazeera or press tv report on this, plenty of female support for it in the relevant community.

      I dont see what business human rightists and sexually liberated Shamits have to dictate religious laws of a community in Afghanistan. He’s not even pompous new convert tony blair to say that to the pope.

      Hamid Karzai is unfit to govern Afghanistan because he was annointed byt the Barrel of an American Tank. The west should get out of Afghanistan now and stop obfuscating matters and pleasuring itself with this liberation show.

      6. mighty presumptuous of you. :-)

      I’m hardly advocating, just wondering how you browns and jew-browns concieve of rape. Seeing as you (presumably) have no concept of zina i guess rape must catch everything. Is your judgement of the circumstance based on what youve been fed by certain human rightists or do you know more than that?

      I’m not trying to rape you, dont get the wrong idea. I ‘get’ your disgust and your use of the term (to show your civility). But im not sure of your competance (or even your right) to judge the entire system of shii marriage laws in that time and place and for those people.

    9. Jai — on 17th April, 2009 at 10:26 am  

      I’m hardly advocating, just wondering how you browns and jew-browns concieve of rape. Seeing as you (presumably) have no concept of zina i guess rape must catch everything. Is your judgement of the circumstance based on what youve been fed by certain human rightists or do you know more than that?

      Fug, human beings do have an instinctive sense of moral right & wrong (even animals such as dogs do, to an extent). Whether this instinct is something people listen to, or whether it is overriden by the person’s life experiences (and the impact on their personality), external influences etc, is of course often a different matter. Women have historically been regarded as practically chattel in many parts of the world, and unfortunately many areas of the West were no different in this matter until relatively recently in global history.

      But the internal conscience is still there, hard-wired in us as a species. You do not need a “holy book” (or any other external reference point) to tell you that forcing another person to let you have sex with them against their will, to violate their body and potentially penetrate them physically when they do not desire it, is morally completely wrong. Even if the other person is your wife. In fact, given the level of trust and intimacy that is (or should be) involved in a marital relationship, in some ways one could even say “especially your wife”.

      A man does not own his wife’s body. She does. In fact, a man does not even own her emotionally or mentally. She does. On all counts, a man has no right to force or coerce her to do anything she does not wish to, particularly in sexual matters, because he does not have that authority over her and the presumed “ownership” of her mind and body. That right rests solely and completely with her.

      Knowing this isn’t a matter of being “fed by human rightists”, or external cultural influences, or the dictates of any particular religion and its associated scriptures. It’s a matter of instinctive understanding, your inner conscience, and basic human decency.

    10. Jai — on 17th April, 2009 at 10:28 am  

      Shamit,

      There have been some developments here on PP while you’ve been away. Check out the “Fatwa to Jihad” thread when you have some spare time.

    11. Sid — on 17th April, 2009 at 10:39 am  

      But im not sure of your competance (or even your right) to judge the entire system of shii marriage laws in that time and place and for those people.

      I accept that you are eminently more competent than I in understanding how the Shii tradition of temporary marriage is conducicive to protecting the consensual rights of *both* the man and woman who are entering into the agreement.

      But do you think you can actually explain it to a layman like me?

    12. damon — on 17th April, 2009 at 10:48 am  

      I keep meaning to buy this book called ”Kabul in winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan”.
      http://www.amazon.com/Kabul-Winter-Without-Peace-Afghanistan/dp/0805078843
      But so far have only read reviews of it.
      One figure that shocked me was this one:

      ”Ninety-five percent of Afghan women are subject to violence: they are bought and sold, beaten and raped, preyed upon and betrayed by their own flesh and blood”.

    13. Ravi Naik — on 17th April, 2009 at 10:49 am  

      Fug, human beings do have an instinctive sense of moral right & wrong (even animals such as dogs do, to an extent). Whether this instinct is something people listen to, or whether it is overriden by the person’s life experiences (and the impact on their personality), external influences etc, is of course often a different matter.

      Jai, we disagree. I do not believe that human values are absolute, and the morals that dictate good and evil are universal. Hence, I do not believe that our morals are guided by instincts, but are rather heavily conditioned by culture.

      For instance, I love meat even though I am fully aware how animals are treated and killed. It is very likely that future generations will look at us with contempt. The same way we look at the Crusades and think how “demonic” these people were, to kill Muslims in their lands - even though they thought they were doing the right thing.

      It is therefore not shocking that such laws have even been proposed in places like Afghanistan where women are conditioned to be property of men. What is shocking though, is people who live in the West - like our friend fug - who thinks that raping your wife is more acceptable than being raped by someone else.

      Perhaps fug can clarify whether being beaten by your husband is not the same thing as being beaten by a stranger.

    14. The Common Humanist — on 17th April, 2009 at 10:57 am  

      Fug,
      What Jai said at 9 in spades.

      And whats this ‘browns and jew browns’ stuff?
      Why the need for, am guessing, the racist/anti semitic little needle at people?

    15. Jai — on 17th April, 2009 at 11:08 am  

      I do not believe that human values are absolute, and the morals that dictate good and evil are universal. Hence, I do not believe that our morals are guided by instincts, but are rather heavily conditioned by culture.

      Sorry Ravi, I have to disagree with you on that front too. There are some areas where culture is indeed a strong influence but there are others where it’s to do with being a human being first and foremost, intrinsically and instinctively, irrespective of where and when the person concerned may be. Meaning, it’s about us as a species, anthropologically. Whether one is talking about “absolute and universal” human moral values will obviously also depend on one’s philosophical & theological views, but that’s a slightly separate (albeit overlapping) issue.

      For instance, I love meat even though I am fully aware how animals are treated and killed.

      Mate, that’s because human beings are physiologically designed to be omnivorous. You can subsequently make a moral decision on why you shouldn’t eat meat, and in many cases the revulsion becomes a conditioned response (culturally and/or individually), but as a member of homo sapiens you enjoy meat because you’re physically built to do so.

      The same of course also applies to our other negative instincts, such as the lust for war, power etc. Or, conversely, positive instincts such as cooperation, empathy, compassion, concepts of justice and fairness, familial & fraternal affection and bonds, etc. These things go back tens of thousands of years.

      The human story is a complicated business…..But like I said, we do have inbuilt instincts, and some of them involve basic morality.

      Regarding your point about people “thinking they’re doing the right thing”…..Well, apart from instances of cultural/environmental conditioning, people frequently know deep down that what they’re doing is morally wrong — they just find ways to intellectually rationalise it.

    16. Ashik — on 17th April, 2009 at 11:50 am  

      Any kind of rape is wrong. Full stop.

      Marital rape will surely have more severe traumatic consequences than stranger rape because the former can occur continuously and often span years and both parties will continue to live with each other. I think cultures where it’s more socially acceptable to hit your other half, it’s probably more socially acceptable to force sex within marriage.

      Given that the final draft of the Afghan legislation has not been made public, an informed debate is not possible. Therefore various individuals on this thread have simply taken up their own time-worn ideological positions about the role of religion in society. Lest we forget it was only in 1993 that all 50 states criminalised marital rape in the States.

      Rumbold’s articles have been somewhat superceded by:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/5165858/Shia-cleric-defends-law-said-to-legalise-marital-rape.html

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1170175/New-Afghan-law-does-allow-marital-rape-lets-men-refuse-feed-wives-deny-sex-says-cleric.html?ITO=1490

      The Shia clerical chap sponsoring this law is clearly opposed to marital rape.

    17. Ravi Naik — on 17th April, 2009 at 12:39 pm  

      There are some areas where culture is indeed a strong influence but there are others where it’s to do with being a human being first and foremost, intrinsically and instinctively, irrespective of where and when the person concerned may be. Meaning, it’s about us as a species

      What specific areas are you talking about? If History is any indication, is that empathy towards you fellow men is learnt behaviour. Were slave owners going against their human instincts when they were using slaves in their fields? Are the countless wars, ethnic killings against human instinct? Much to contrary, such actions are demonstrably because of our instincts, not our morals.

      Mate, that’s because human beings are physiologically designed to be omnivorous. You can subsequently make a moral decision on why you shouldn’t eat meat, and in many cases the revulsion becomes a conditioned response (culturally and/or individually), but as a member of homo sapiens you enjoy meat because you’re physically built to do so.

      Well, I am built to eat fish and drink white wine, but I do not enjoy both.

      Anyway, I do not know to what extend the human instinct formulates morality - isn’t morality a rational trait? The reverse, however, seem to be true: morality controls our human instinct - aggression, violence, sex. You know that it is wrong to kill, but in a situation where resources are scarce, human instinct trumps morality for survival. You mentioned Lord of the flies, I believe that is the moral of the story.

      Regarding your point about people “thinking they’re doing the right thing”…..Well, apart from instances of cultural/environmental conditioning, people frequently know deep down that what they’re doing is morally wrong — they just find ways to intellectually rationalise it.

      In my view, people have different morals, and they know they are doing something wrong only if they break their morals, not yours or mine. Abortion, pre-marital sex, etc. are some of the things that people do, but they only feel it is wrong if it breaks their code of conduct.

    18. Verbal_Reciprocity — on 17th April, 2009 at 9:03 pm  

      &OP

      “Recently, a law which legalised rape in marriage in the minority Shia community of Afghanistan was heavily criticised. Now, President Karzai has promised to change some of its provisions. However, it may not be in the way that human rights groups want:”

      Lets not kid ourselves. Afghanistan is not governed by laws, it is governed by tradition and “honor”. Marital rape is an accepted practice in Afghanistan, some scribbles on a piece of paper matters little.

      Afghan women still live in the 11th century:

      http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/flash_point/afghanistan/index.html

      http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/flash_point/afghanistan/index.html

      @FUG
      “I dont see what business human rightists and sexually liberated Shamits have to dictate religious laws of a community in Afghanistan… But im not sure of your competance (or even your right) to judge the entire system of shii marriage laws in that time and place and for those people.”

      So the West had no business in pressuring, for example, the Saudis to give up slavery in the 1950s when their religious laws allowed for it because they were sexually liberated? Please.

    19. fug — on 18th April, 2009 at 10:57 pm  

      interesting.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/18/afghanistan-shia-law-women

    20. Jai — on 20th April, 2009 at 1:36 pm  

      Ravi,

      I don’t want to go too far off-topic as that would entail quite a lengthy, in-depth philosophical and theological debate, so we should try to keep this tangent as brief as possible.

      What specific areas are you talking about?

      Long off-topic debate.

      If History is any indication, is that empathy towards you fellow men is learnt behaviour. Were slave owners going against their human instincts when they were using slaves in their fields? Are the countless wars, ethnic killings against human instinct? Much to contrary, such actions are demonstrably because of our instincts, not our morals.

      Human beings are inherently evil “by default” unless they rationally decide to act otherwise, and/or if there is sufficient environmental conditioning or sufficient external restraints to keep them in check ? That’s a very cynical view of mankind, Ravi ;)

      It reminds me of the following quote by Daniel Defoe ( http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Tyranny ):

      “Nature has left this tincture in the blood, that all men would be tyrants if they could”.

      You may be learning the wrong lessons from history. The examples you’ve given weren’t people acting against their human instincts, but acting in accordance with their negative instincts, especially those involving the concept of “might is right”. We have positive instincts too, including empathy towards fellow human beings. This isn’t just a philosophical issue, it’s a biological, psychological and anthropological fact related to human evolution. We’re not just blank slates driven by our worst instincts unless externally conditioned otherwise.

      Taking this further, especially involving wars etc, these are examples of people with certain personality types taking control due to a predisposition towards power, dominance etc and exerting an influence beyond their numbers. I’m sure you know about “Type A” personalities, “Alpha Males” and so on. The history of imperialism and warfare worldwide is full of such people. So is the modern political world, along with some sections of the business arena (the investment banking sector is riddled with such individuals), especially the more senior/prestigious sectors and corporate areas.

      There is also a common thread of empathy and other positive traits amongst individuals throughout history, often vastly separated by time and geography, and in some cases, due to their intuitive conscience, acting in considerable opposition to the dominant external cultural environment which, according to your logic, one would have expected to condition them to react very differently indeed. I can give numerous examples, but since you’ve mentioned slavery, I suggest you read “Team of Rivals” which is a biography of Abraham Lincoln combined with an overview of the events and motivations involved in the American Civil War; bear in mind that in both the Union and the Confederacy respectively, there were people whose interpretation of Christianity and their own “instinctive conscience” both caused them to oppose or support slavery. One could suggest that they interpreted Christianity’s teachings on the matter depending on their own personality types and the influence of their own inner conscience. (Tangentially, I also mentioned this on another topic last week: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4093#comment-158757 )

    21. Jai — on 20th April, 2009 at 1:38 pm  

      (continued)

      Ravi,

      Well, I am built to eat fish and drink white wine, but I do not enjoy both.

      I think you misunderstood my previous example. Human beings are designed to be omnivorous (and therefore enjoy meat) because from a dietary perspective we have evolved to require some degree of meat in our diet in order to extract some proteins and other nutrients which are either unavailable in vegetarian food sources or more difficult to digest (and require larger amounts to be consumed). Your body does not physically need white wine or other forms of alcoholic drink in order to extract mandatory nutrients for optimal physical health.

      Anyway, I do not know to what extend the human instinct formulates morality - isn’t morality a rational trait?

      Not entirely. To some degree, we have an inbuilt basic intuitive conscience too, as I keep saying. Even animals such as dogs do, to some extent, as I mentioned earlier. This is an actual anthropological and medical/psychological fact relating to neurology and the way our brains our wired, it’s not just me speculating on the matter.

      The reverse, however, seem to be true: morality controls our human instinct - aggression, violence, sex.

      This is certainly true in many ways, but my point is that we do already have an internal instinct for basic morality too, even if the extent to which this is manifested or acted upon will vary according to the person’s basic personality type, life experiences, external environment, level of “emotional intelligence” etc.

      Taking this back to the main topic, one does not need external conditioning or sources of references to know that sexually penetrating another person – or indeed any sexual physical contact all – against the latter’s will is intuitively wrong. One can certainly convince people otherwise if a sufficiently plausible-sounding argument can be constructed, particularly if they’re already predisposed towards this kind of attitude and/or the social environment condones and supports such ideas, but underneath it all the instinct is still there. This instinct may be overridden or less pronounced in some people for various reasons, but it’s common sense, basic human decency, and not confined or unique to any particular cultural background, religious affiliation, geographical location or timeframe in history.

      In layman’s terms, “it’s not rocket science to understand that raping someone is morally wrong”.

    22. Arif — on 20th April, 2009 at 10:41 pm  

      Jai, would you argue that we all have the same moral intuitions, and if one person says they believe x is morally wrong and another says x is morally fine, then one of them is, in some way, lying?

    23. Don — on 20th April, 2009 at 10:53 pm  

      Your body does not physically need white wine…

      True, but if you are having fresh caught trout baked with a couple of bay leaves and a squeeze of lemon, it would be wrong not to have something chilled and crisp. Just wrong.

      It’s late. I’ll be more considered tomorrow. Interesting by-way to be going down.

    24. Ravi Naik — on 20th April, 2009 at 11:20 pm  

      In layman’s terms, “it’s not rocket science to understand that raping someone is morally wrong”.

      What does you “moral human instinct” tells you about abortion? Is it morally wrong? What about killing an animal for pleasure (sport) or just for food? What about euthanasia? Is there only one good answer for these questions?

    25. Arif — on 21st April, 2009 at 6:51 am  

      Jai, another way of asking my question: how can you tell whether the basic underlying morality is that you should do x, but that someone is incapable of perceiving it because of their personality, life experience, various kinds of intelligence and psychological resistence. Or that the basic morality is not-x and it is other people who are unable to perceive it because of their personalities etc?

    26. Jai — on 21st April, 2009 at 10:25 am  

      Ravi,

      What does you “moral human instinct” tells you about abortion? Is it morally wrong?

      Yes, except in certain extreme cases (I’ve detailed my thoughts extensively on previous PP discussions on the topic so I’m not going to go into further detail here).

      What about killing an animal for pleasure (sport)

      Yes.

      or just for food?

      No, as long as it’s done humanely if possible (although this can obviously be difficult if you’re actually hunting a animal). Personally I think it’s best not to kill an animal for meat if you have sufficient alternatives, but if this isn’t the case, then go ahead.

      What about euthanasia?

      No, if it’s the patient’s decision and they’re in a satisfactory position to be able to make the choice (or have left instructions beforehand, eg. DNR in the US).

      Is there only one good answer for these questions?

      Sometimes, although it depends on the specific situation.

      However, there is a pattern running through all of this (including the thread’s main topic), if you’ve noticed it. It’s to do with the necessity for one’s moral compass in certain situations to be guided by instinctive compassion for the vulnerable along with not falling prey to the concept of “might is right”.

    27. Jai — on 21st April, 2009 at 10:51 am  

      Arif,

      Jai, would you argue that we all have the same moral intuitions,

      At a fundamental level, yes, generally, although not in all aspects of life, and there are many areas which are “grey”.

      and if one person says they believe x is morally wrong and another says x is morally fine, then one of them is, in some way, lying?

      Depends on the specific circumstance. However, the answer would be “yes” in the case of — for example — rape, incest, murder, sadism, gratuitous/unprovoked attacks on the innocent (physically or verbally), deliberate hypocrisy, betrayal of trust, subjugation and/or exploitation of the weak or vulnerable, etc.

      Jai, another way of asking my question: how can you tell whether the basic underlying morality is that you should do x, but that someone is incapable of perceiving it because of their personality, life experience, various kinds of intelligence and psychological resistence. Or that the basic morality is not-x and it is other people who are unable to perceive it because of their personalities etc?

      Life experience, common sense, emotional & intellectual maturity & honesty, emotional intelligence, and so on. A good understanding of human nature, psychology and (if possible) psychiatry also helps. It’s an ongoing learning process.

      ****************************************

      There is another interesting angle to this, which I’ve noticed and which various other people I know or have met over the years have also picked up on: People belonging to “Abrahamic” religions (and cultures originating from them) sometimes seem to appear to need heavy external guidance for moral matters, whereas those from — for example — some of the religions originating in India (or belonging to/influenced by the more mystical versions of the aforementioned Abrahamic faiths) are often more inclined to believe in the idea of “the truth lies within you” (which can obviously lead to more anarchic situations, and people can make very wrong decisions indeed due to the comparable lack of detailed “instructions”, but there’s a greater emphasis on personal development and figuring things out for oneself).

      Just an observation, and absolutely no offence is intended to anyone. Since these examples also apply to people who ostensibly may not be very religiously-inclined at all (in the strictly-observant sense), I think that the influence of culture and familial/social background may well be a strong factor in affecting one’s mindset in this manner.

    28. Jai — on 21st April, 2009 at 11:02 am  

      In a nutshell, I think all this is basically an internal battle between the benevolent and malevolent aspects of our nature.

      At a really fundamental level, it’s a complicated tussle between a) those aspects & instincts (both positive and negative) which are the legacy of the 90,000 years between the “arrival” of Homo Sapiens in its current evolved state about 100,000 years ago (notwithstanding subsequent superficial racial changes) and the rise of civilisation about 10,000 years ago, b) subsequent external cultural influences people are subject to, and c) [if you believe in such things] our souls and the influence of whatever deity/deities may exist.

    29. Ravi Naik — on 21st April, 2009 at 11:18 am  

      What does your “moral human instinct” tells you about abortion? Is it morally wrong?

      Yes, except in certain extreme cases

      So, Jai, you believe that the pro-choice stance is morally wrong? What about those who believe that women have the right to choose what happens with their body? Does it not clash with your morality on abortion? Supporting pro-choice is against our “moral human instinct”?

      What about killing an animal for pleasure (sport)

      Yes.

      So, deep down people who kill animals for sport, deep down, they know they are doing something evil, because it clashes with their “moral human instinct”?

      to require some degree of meat in our diet in order to extract some proteins and other nutrients which are either unavailable in vegetarian food sources or more difficult to digest (and require larger amounts to be consumed)

      All major western dietetic institutions have said that vegetarianism satisfies all nutritional needs - you do not actually need meat to be healthy - and it has several added benefits, like lower risk of cancer and heart disease.

      It is very unlikely - in my view - that future generations will rely on animal meat for their diets. Instead, as we learn more about animals and how they are similar to humans, and as technology advances to synthesise meat in labs, or find alternatives to meat - I am sure future generations will look at us with contempt at how we treated animals, the same way we now look back at our ancestors and try to interpret how could they be so insensitive to human suffering (slavery, ethnic violence, gruesome torture and deaths).

    30. Jai — on 21st April, 2009 at 11:39 am  

      Ravi,

      As I stated clearly in my previous post, I have said all I wish to say on the issue of abortion during previous discussions on the subject. If you wish to reacquaint yourself with my thoughts then I suggest you go through the archives and read those threads instead.

      So, deep down people who kill animals for sport, deep down, they know they are doing something evil, because it clashes with their “moral human instinct”?

      Yep, unless you think there’s nothing intuitively wrong with taking another being’s life just for “sport”. Even most animals don’t do that.

      All major western dietetic institutions have said that vegetarianism satisfies all nutritional needs - you do not actually need meat to be healthy - and it has several added benefits, like lower risk of cancer and heart disease.

      Correct, but you’re misreading what I said originally. There are some nutritional requirements, particularly in relation to particular proteins, which are more easily obtained from meat and which the human body finds easier to digest compared to vegetarian sources.

      Instead, as we learn more about animals and how they are similar to humans, and as technology advances to synthesise meat in labs, or find alternatives to meat - I am sure future generations will look at us with contempt at how we treated animals, the same way we now look back at our ancestors and try to interpret how could they be so insensitive to human suffering (slavery, ethnic violence, gruesome torture and deaths).

      Quite possibly, although the course of history can be very unpredictable and it will depend on the balance of power in the future, which society/cultural influences are dominant, and the events that occur between now and then. Your predictions are one possible outcome but certainly not guaranteed (including the very last sentence in brackets). Societal concepts of morality do not always head in a “progressive” direction, even if accompanied by technological advances. Global history during the past 100 years and indeed during the past several thousand years are proof of that.

    31. Ravi Naik — on 21st April, 2009 at 12:39 pm  

      As I stated clearly in my previous post, I have said all I wish to say on the issue of abortion during previous discussions on the subject. If you wish to reacquaint yourself with my thoughts then I suggest you go through the archives and read those threads instead.

      The issue is not your particular position on abortion, but rather the fact that people have different morals and beliefs, which helps them decide right from wrong.

      If we believe that our morals are universal and part of “human instinct”, then when the other side does not follow, they are “evil”. In the case of abortion, pro-choice and anti-abortion positions are the products of two different set of values - you can’t accuse either side of being “evil”, or thinking that deep down they know they are doing something wrong.

      Societal concepts of morality do not always head in a “progressive” direction

      Agreed. But if the concept of morality does move, then it cannot be universal or absolute.

    32. Jai — on 21st April, 2009 at 1:42 pm  

      Ravi,

      If we believe that our morals are universal and part of “human instinct”,

      Some morals, Ravi. The examples I listed in the second paragraph of my post #27 are included in this. Incidentally, I’d add “torture” to that list too.

      Agreed. But if the concept of morality does move, then it cannot be universal or absolute.

      Some aspects of the concept of morality, as above. Ideas about morality per se are of course often continuously in flux and vary according to the specific culture and location, but there are some basics which are (or should be) universal and absolute, again as listed above.

      If you read enough about global history, you notice certain patterns and areas of commonality in individual and societal human behaviour, both positive and negative. Many aspects of human conduct (in a positive sense, including altruism and the defence of the weak/vulnerable) and reactions to maliciousness and injustice are neither recent developments nor unique to any particular location or timeframe.

      then when the other side does not follow, they are “evil”.

      Not necessarily. “Evil” is a strong word, particularly as people have both positive and negative aspects to their characters, to varying degrees. “Misguided” is frequently a more accurate term, except when people are being deliberately malicious towards another party, in which case they are indeed being “evil” in that particular situation.

      And to try to take this back to the thread’s main topic yet again, this includes rape both within and outside marriage, along with any situation involving forcibly imposing oneself on an unwilling innocent third-party.

    33. Shamit — on 21st April, 2009 at 1:55 pm  

      I concur with Jai.

      There are some basic rights and wrongs where there should not be any moral relativism — those values express our common humanity. Those universal values also create the concept of Human Rights and when we start breaking those sacred principles in the name of culture, religion and so forth — it is simply wrong.

      As many of you may be aware of, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights now have clauses added which disallows anyone to say anything critical of Islam. This act undertaken by OIC and supported by other members show that the world is bit oblivious to how fanatics are twisting religion to sanction their atrocities. Now more than ever is the time for the world to stand up for those basic human values.

      This law is an abomination and needs to be changed — similarly, someone needs to do something about Taliban in Pakistan as well.

      ***************************************

      On Munir -

      Rumbold@44 — very well put.

      But knowing our acquaintance Blah/Munir — he would fail to notice the inherent wisdom in your advice.

    34. Ravi Naik — on 21st April, 2009 at 3:07 pm  

      There are some basic rights and wrongs where there should not be any moral relativism

      I am not arguing that we should be tolerant to other moral views, specially when they go against basic human rights. What I am arguing is that morality is relative, and that you only know you are doing something wrong if you break your own morals, not some universal code of conduct that is hard-wired in your brain, which is what Jai is defending.

      This is a long conversation to say something that I think is rather obvious: it is not just the law that needs to be changed in Afghanistan, it needs to be enforced as well. But men will continue to enforce their will on women until society values are changed so that women are put in equal footing as men, and thus, anything that goes against that is seen as bad or evil. And that takes time.

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
    With the help of PHP and Wordpress.