Friday, May 5, 2017

Why are racist 'mere words' deeds, but the anti-racist 'mere words' of a university just lip service?

     "Note, too, that the expressivist position suffers from an uncomfortable contradiction.  A university administration that merely condemns hate speech, without mobilizing punitive sanctions, is held to have done little, to have offered 'mere words.'  And yet this skepticism about the power of 'mere words' comports oddly with the attempt to regulate 'mere words' that, since they are spoken by those not in a position of authority, would seem to have even less symbolic force.  Why is it 'mere words' when a university only condemns racist speech, but not 'mere words' that the student utters in the first place?  Whose words are 'only words'?  Why are racist words deeds, but anti-racist words just lip service?"

     Henry Louis Gates, Jr., "Let them talk:  Why civil liberties pose no threat to civil rights," The New Republic 209, no. 12/13 (September 20/27, 1993):  43 (37-49).
     Note, by the way, that, at Middlebury and elsewhere of late, the students (and/or those posing as such), now taking the opposite side, haven't just been uttering "'mere words'"; they have been engaging in forms of low-grade assault.  It is, I suspect, in part for this reason that some have been calling for the application of "punitive sanctions" on the part of college and university administrations.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Those "thick" conservatives

     "Moral foundation theory is one of the more recent and productive models within moral psychology developed by Jonathan Haidt and many colleagues.  Among other things, Haidt has argued that people (across time and culture) have characteristically decided if something is right or wrong using up to six moral dimensions:  care vs. harm, fairness vs. cheating, loyalty vs. betrayal, authority vs. disrespect, purity vs. degradation, and liberty vs. oppression.  One of the intriguing conclusions coming out of this work is the notion that progressives based moral decisions on a subset of these dimensions (largely care and fairness) while conservatives tend to invoke all six dimensions when making moral decisions."

     Rod Bassett, reviewing A house divided:  sexuality, morality, and Christian cultures (Wipf and Stock, 2016), by Geoffrey W. Sutton, Journal of psychology and Christianity 36, no. 1 (Spring 2017):  83 (83-84).