Originally Posted by Necris
It blows my mind that at one moment people will argue in support of the state supported discrimination towards and murders of atheists in Muslim countries and then will decry the state supported discrimination and murders that took place in Nazi Germany during the holocaust. Have enough people not died for the former to be sufficiently outrageous to you?
This is a really good comparison. Although, I don't know that I've ever heard these nations actually decry the actions of The Third Reich.
.... cultural relativism and anyone who brings it up as an argument in support of what amounts to senseless murder.
I'm going to go ahead and assume that this was said out of frustration and, as such, may not be articulated as well as you wanted. With that being said, I'm going to knit-pick a little bit, if only for the mental exercise.
I know that for the majority of people, moral relativism, culturally or otherwise, is frustrating. They want a universal, black-or-white set of rules/values. Indeed, your statement shows just that. But what it also reflects, and what I think most people miss, is the ethnocentricity of the speaker. How is it ethnocentric? Stating ".... cultural relativism" implies that there are some things that transcend culture, in your opinion, and you have the right view on said things. As an example, you stated that their actions would be "senseless murder". The "senseless" portion is the point of contention here. I'm sure for the people committing the murder, it makes a great deal of sense. Your cultural views on the matter, however, are different. So, you call their actions senseless, because you don't agree with their values.
Now, I'm not going to speak for anyone else, but I'm very much a cultural/moral relativist. And when I bring it up, it's usually in response to absolutist claims on morality, etc. That does not, however, mean that I'm using it to support the group these claims are being leveled at. I find the thought of this atheist being executed rather infuriating. If I were to spout my opinion of these people, it'd wind up being a long-winded rant full of disgust. And it'd be my opinion. And I know
that. I'm just as ethnocentric as the people I'm arguing against. Which is the point that I'm trying to bring up when arguing against absolutist claims: We're ALL ethnocentric. And that's okay. Just know that you aren't any more right than the people you're condemning(in an absolutist sense).
A common complaint about that idea is: "Well, then how do we have rules? How do we charge people for crimes if no one is ever wrong?" The mistake these people are making is in thinking that you can't have a right or wrong if there isn't an absolute. The answer, though most people won't like it, is: The most powerful group makes the rules. Usually, this is the majority. Sometimes it can be a very powerful minority. Theoretically, a single person could do it. The problem here though is that without the illusion of absolutism, people start to feel like bullies for enforcing their rules on those who disagree with them. And that
is why I argue against absolutism. People should always remember that, though they may be part of the moral majority, they are still just the biggest bullies on the playground. And I think this would give most people pause before they decided to make and/or enforce their rules on those who are different.
Aaaaaand that turned out longer than I meant it to be...