Conversations are always enjoyable times, and for a rebel like me, arguments are much more pleasant. The ability to speak about something openly, to disagree with your interlocutors is a right humans should not take lightly. However, people tend to conflate the seemingly inalienable right of free expression with the entitlement to be deliberately and unnecessarily offensive to others. And the excuse is often cultural relativism Understand that you may have the right to be a bigot (or to make bigoted remarks to your heart’s content), but everyone else, who isn’t a bigot, has the right to disagree with you and offensively if necessary.
If you know the mythology behind my name, then you can see why I encourage people to disagree with each other. I want people to challenge authority whenever possible, but I want them to do it properly. We must stand up to the wrong kind of power in critical ways.
No, I do not defend the question everything mantra, which is more an excuse for cynicism than an emblem of critical thinking. You can’t question some facts, as the evidence for them is just that – evident.
Anytime we present opposing ideas, we have to provide evidence of the value of that idea or, at the very least, a sound and valid argument for it.
As an example, I’ll share the anecdote of a conversation with an acquaintance who, in his desperate attempt to demonstrate his liberalism, erred on the side of cultural relativism. I have to submit here that his motives were noble, but his methods directly conflicted with the very principles he tried to defend.
As a point of conversation, I brought up a social media trend in which families of different ethnicities show themselves beating their children (and aggressively to the point of hearing the children cry in agony) for misbehaving. You know the videos I refer to; some have millions of views and as many likes. He argued that no one had the right to tell the people in the videos that what they were doing was wrong – and only because their videos invoke a cultural reason for their actions.
Some of the more popular videos show a child waking up from unconsciousness caused by an angry parent. Others offer a parent violently beating a stuffed toy implying that the same will happen to the child if they don’t listen to the parent. I refuse to post any of these videos here to avoid giving more exposure to the ignorance that drives them.
My rebuttal or my rebuke to his position was simple: saying that no one has the right to object to such a cultural stipulation is to admit that there is a context in which violence against children is acceptable. And unfortunately for all the bigots celebrating these videos, mistreating children is never good. Child abuse, and beating a child is always abusive, is never right under any circumstances.
This is the problem with cultural relativism or any kind of it: it allows for sub-optimal behaviours, like the mistreatment of weaker humans to go unchallenged under certain contexts.
If you disagree with me here – if my objections hurt your cultural feelings – you have a bigger problem. My human form hails from a culture rife with the same child abuse those videos glorify, and if it spares one child from suffering and pain, I am willing to sacrifice any cultural norm.
A concerned Devil