You Can’t Say That!

But I did say it

” But you are not allowed to say that! That is not acceptable! You are not allowed to have those opinions! We forbid it! ”

We? Who is this ” we ” that you write about?

”  Me and all the other the moral people! The people who are caring and sensible and good and right and virtuous! The people who demand that you toe the line and conform to our moral standards and only print our opinion! ”

So no other opinion is permitted?

” No! We are a free country and you are free to think as we do or suffer our displeasure! ”

Do you always speak in exclamation marks?

” Yes! We are never wrong! “

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The Morality Machine – Part Four – One Size Doesn’t Fit All

No-one today can be unaware of the gulf between the requirements of Muslim moral codes  and those of some other cultures or religions. Oh, they may run rather in parallel with those of other fundamentalist religions and some severe non-religious institutions, but there is still a wide berth on many grounds.

Many Muslim people will tell you they are correct and many non-Muslim people will tell you that they are not – and you must decide for yourself how much truth either of these sides is telling. If you are a Muslim person yourself you may not have a chance to debate the question or even to change your mind about it without danger to yourself- but that is another story. I suspect that may be the case for other religions or social structures too, in some cases.

But we are not here to judge a particular religion for its tenets – we’re here to bag all of ’em. And atheism too – honest to Godless, some of the atheists make me want to scream…

If you can’t get one single absolute moral rule that goes everywhere for everyone – and you can’t* – what can you get? You can get the sort of thing with which every ward-heeler, British politician, and Southern Democrat is most comfortable; the compromise. You’ll need to agree to this before I tell you what it is…just breathe regularly and I’ll take that as full agreement.

You need to do the most good for the greatest number in a reasonable time in a defined area. This sounds a lot like 18th century enlightenment, and so it is. I propose that it also be combined with the Teddy Roosevelt dictum of doing what you can with what you have, where you are. In short – if you are going to drive world, do it with a pragmatic transmission. It’s easier to get it to go over a cliff.

This means that you have be prepared to put up with the Sultan of Brunei chopping off hands or the Pope piously wringing his with the same aplomb. You need to be able to accept Donald Trump walling off the Mexicans if you equally want the Hungarians to tear down their border fence. You must be able to take the sweet with the sour – except in the case of the British Royal Succession. We’re starting a petition to have the country ruled by Basil Brush after Her Majesty passes on.

*  Is inhospitable murder universally abhorred? Not in the Andaman islands…

I Prayed For Guidance

And then that darned ‘ol God told me to do something different from what I wanted to do. Talk about annoyed. I mean, what’s the point of having a God if they’re going to boss you around…

So I switched gods. The second one I chose allowed the thing I wanted to do – indeed made it into a virtue instead of a vice. And then snuck up on me and hit me with dietary laws that meant I couldn’t cook my favourite recipes. Not only that, I had to not eat all day for a month. Not even a chocolate bar.

So I decided to ditch the Almighties and find a guru, sage, or wise man  ( or wise woman ) to tell me that I could do whatever I wanted to do without guilt. Took a bit of shopping but I got the combination I wanted. And then the bill hit me – it turned out the guru’s idea of tithes was my pocket open all the time to pay for his Rolls Royces.

So I’m back on my own again. My People have rejected me and they talked to Everyone Else and they’re not having a bar of me either. I’m either going to have to become an atheist or start my own religion. Neither idea seems really appealing as they would both require a good deal of thinking. And you never can tell where that might lead to – like as not I would be forbidding myself from things. And then where would I be when it came to being happy?

Do You Go To Church?

…asked the Muslim social worker of the old Jew in his living room, as she filled out a form for aged care assistance…

Really one of the oddest exchanges that I have had recently. The form seems to have the logo and imprimatur of the Australian federal government in a special department for the aged, and a logo from another organization that may offer help. In this case the help they offered seems to be a booklet and a note that my goal is to get my injured leg back to good health.

From the church question, I am assuming it is a pious hope…

As no more was done all week, at my latest visit to the physician, he short circuited the whole departmental rigmarole by ringing up the local chemist to see if they sold pressure bandages. They did, I called in and bought one, and pulled it on myself. We’ll be checking in a week to see that healing is progressing.

In the meantime I will keep my phone on and my ears open for the assistance that the bureaucratic department will offer. But I shall not hold my breath. Nor expend it singing hymns, for that matter…

When You Have To Be Honest…

When you have to be honest about some particular thing, you might just as well surrender yourself to the whole vile experience and be honest about everything. You’ll be cleaning up a damned mess, of course, but the thing won’t be any different than if you just told a little bit of the truth and clammed up about the other things you know.

Not that honesty is required all the time, mind. If you are dealing with magistrates and police officers and coroners and such you’ll have to be completely truthful, of course. Likewise you are going to want to be open and forthright with your physician, dentist, optometrist, etc – otherwise your own body will betray you. But there are other places in society where you can get a rest from being honest:

a. Facebook. No-one really expects to see a 100% honest day on Facebook. There are so many political, religious, and social memes out there just waiting for shares, and most of them are either too good to be true or too true to be good – the former ones outnumber the latter…

b. Instagram. You are encouraged to make things look better than they really are to attract the interest of people who want to attract your interest with their visual lies. Fortunately it makes a nice change from Pokemon and people are less likely to step into traffic while looking at Instagram. Unless it makes them really depressed.

c. The pub. Well, if you can’t tell lies in a place that serves diluted alcohol, what’s the point of going there?

d. Political rallies. Whichever side you are on and whomever you are against, you are never expected to be unbiased and fair at a political rally. You are there to root for your side and howl the rest down. You are often allowed to hold up offensive signs. You are never required to dress well. You are permitted to espouse the foulest creeds and howl the vilest insults. If it had nap time, it would be like kindergarten.

e. Religious meetings. You are required to be honest to God and honest to yourself, but everyone else there can be played like a harmonica. Profess anything that they want you to profess and damn anything that they demand you to damn. Recite creeds, prayers, anthems, and shopping lists if that is the custom of the place. Bob, weave, dance, sing, and perform any gestures that seem to be required.

It’ll all be the same thing. Would I lie to you?

 

 

 

 

It’s Like Funny In The Bank

If you can tell a joke that no-one expects, you can sell it for more money than they’d normally pay.

I know – I do this daily. Not here – you get this stuff for the price of the electricity to open your computer – but over on the column I write for the Perth camera store. They pay me to stay away from the place and write good things about stock and events they sell. If I ever stop writing they’ll just pay me to stay away…

Every daily post contains a product or service that is being touted – and I do so on a fair and honest basis – but every post equally contains one unexpected yock. Mostly I make fun of myself, as being the safest target. Of course, if I suspiciously look and sound like someone else and it puts the readers in mind of another figure in the photo trade…well that must just be a trick of the light. So far no rocks through the editorial window – from either inside or outside.

Some trades would be notoriously difficult to write humorous pieces for. I should not attempt the funeral trade, nor any crisis service or legal business.  I did poke fun at dentistry while I was a dentist, but have left it alone since retiring. This way I cannot be accused of dated humour.

Likewise, some topics bear little laughter from outside the fold – religions and political movements are a good example. People involved deeply in any of those fields are not inclined to laugh at themselves nor at anyone else. Laughter invites relaxation and friendliness and few religious or political figures want to be tainted with that sort of accusation.

As for writing jokes for other people to present…well, bring it on. But be warned that if I am going to get other people to laugh with you, I will also be providing them with an opportunity to laugh at you. Are you stalwart enough to join with them on both occasions?

Do It Yourself Blasphemy Kit

I have often wondered if you could make a decent income selling a do-it-yourself blasphemy kit by mail order. I’m not entirely sure what would be included in the box – because let’s face it – there so many different gods that seem to be able to take offence – but I am sure there will be people in various religious organisations who can advise me.

I am prepared to accept the fact that it will be a difficult product to sell in certain markets. Saudi Arabia for one…Arkansas for another. Ireland seems to have laws against it, though I suspect that they are only concerned that it may affect the quality of the Guinness. If that is actually the case I would be loathe to risk it there.

I am uncertain about another aspect of the business; why an omniscient and omnipotent being should need protection from something as frail as a human voice or pen. Indeed, why does the Divinity ( of whatever stripe ) not strike the blasphemer dead with lightning, or volcanos, or goldfish…instead of relying upon priests, mullahs, rabbis, and Irish courts to do the punishment? A good public lightninging would do more for public relations than a cartload of writs.

Of course it has been pointed put that anti-blasphemy laws are really there to prevent distress to humans who don’t want their invisible friend in the sky sneered at. In that they are kind, but I am wondering if they would be as kind to believers of different religions – protecting their invisible friends as well. I suspect not, given that the adherents of one friend generally try to slaughter the adherents of another friend, and frequently succeed. The invisible friends never seem to step in to prevent it…one wonders whether or not they actually enjoy seeing it take place. Is there a rather cruel reality show taking place on Divine Television Network and the contestants are winning coffins…?

I must investigate the business of blasphemy kits further – selling them may be a simple as mailing out religious texts…