Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Stupidity of Absolutism

Prison debates often begin, and end, with declarative emotional absolutes - they should have no privileges, they should have no rights, give them nothing, life should mean life... Until we shift from these absolutes, the debate remains in the hands of idiots.


  1. This happens in every debate in politics.

    No Privatization.
    No Immigration.
    No Spending cuts
    No Tax rises
    No xyz policy.

    The trouble is that a slogan "no cuts no job losses" fits in a nice sound bite. Ditto "Don't tax workers anymore."

    The slogan "preserve the integrity of our nations treasury bonds to prevent rises in real interest rates in the economy and therefore causing job losses in sectors dependent on investment" doesn't.

    Political debate has to fit in a TV interview. Moderate viewpoints don't.

  2. The obverse side of 'absolutism' is 'moral relativism', which has proven to be as destructive, especially to culture.

    I suspect that absolutism maybe a reaction to the frustrations caused by moral relativism.

    Any crisis becomes more threatening with the greater sense that there is no right or wrong to the quandary; c.f. Pavlovian circle-ellipse flux. Thus the natural response is to throw out reason, which has effectively betrayed you.

  3. Life should be life and I am no idiot. I have been following this blog now for sometime, Ben u had all my sympathy until u got busted for s phone and admitted u had used one in the past. Published and be dammed took on a whole new meaning then. Back to my original point. If you murder you stay in prison forever . The one true thing the yanks have got right.

  4. brian...Him a battyman as well?

  5. Brian,

    So, murders should be rehabilitated and released to contribute to society, unless they try to maintain their relationships on the outside so that they have something to be returned to, in which case, fuck 'em the murdering bastards?

    What a depressingly short-sighted view. Not to mention the fact that, by criticizing Ben for admitting he has used a phone, you have committed the classic mistake of pushing phone use further underground. You don't seriously believe that punishing prisoners for using them will stop it happening do you?!

  6. JG,

    I didn't know anything about moral relativism until someone accused me of it in an obviously angry way one day. I looked it up and thought, "well, yes... and...?!". I still don't really understand why it is such an unpopular idea, although your post above does suggest a good reason. It strikes me a quite a human reaction to reject reason because we don't like what it tells us. Not that that solves the problem, of course, what is fact is still fact, even if we don't like it, and it is undeniable that morality is not an absolute and people disagree over what is and is not "right". That may be unsettling, but it is still true.

  7. If absolutism reigned, then Kevin Wbster plaintive question would imply that he is either in favour of gays and wishes to solicit support, or he is not gay, and wishes to convince himself of that.

    If moral relativism abounded, then Kevin Wbster plaintive question would only have one meaning: that he as bagged a two-for-one deal at Anne Summers for self lubricating butt-plug, and wishes to share his good fortune with a fellow soul.

  8. @Brian.
    Firstly, the US Prison System
    Example to anyone?

    Secondly, on life meaning life and sentencing in General. Judges do have the power to confine someone with no chance of parol. They don't use it very often. Why not?

    Well firstly, it is a recognition that it is possible for people to be remorseful and to change their ways. To murder does not require any foresight or planning. It is a horrible horrible thing, but is it really right to give someone no chance of ever redeeming themselves for one moments stupidity? (Bear in mind the intention part of the crime of murder is merely to be virtually certain as you commit the act that it will do serious harm, no need to desire to kill).

    Secondly, a High Court Judge (who generally preside over murder cases) will have spent at least ten years at the bar becoming a QC, then at least another 10 years either still serving as a barrister or on the Circuit Bench. They will have seen many many cases, and will have the experience and be in the best position to judge what sentence the crime actually deserves, taking into account all the facts of the case.

  9. Jimmy, lube's just for battyboys,real men do it dry..well, saliva can be employed on occasion but only so that we may refer to ourselves as spit lubed disco-pigs.

    and it was Clone Zone rather than Ann summers - I feel it's important to be correct in the details.

  10. Anon @10.21

    Please point out where I was abusive and I will gladly apologise. As for "patronising": I suggest you go and look it up, because it clearly doesn't mean what you think it means.

    Hint: this time I *am* patronising you.

  11. Wigarse - I guess you posted the comment above and then realised that again you were being patronising... Just read through your comments for many more examples. The one above was typical of your patronising and condescending approach. Just scroll up to find the specific example I was referring to but it's a general observation.

    Why don't you try and add to this blog by posting something worthwhile or debating points sensibly rather than just repeatedly trying to denigrate others?

    I am sure it some kind of insecurity that leads you to treat others in this way but please stop it's just not at all pleasant.

  12. Anon,

    Errr, no... I deliberately set out to be patronising the second time to highlight the point that I wasn't the first.

    So far, I have been called "patronising", "abusive", "insecure" and I've been accused of "repeatedly denigrating others".

    All I have said to deserve that was that I found the views of Brian "short-sighted". Not that he shouldn't hold them, or that I think there's something psychologically wrong with him because he does, merely that I do not agree and an explanation for why that is. Admittedly it was robustly put, but none-the-less it was neither abusive nor patronising. Yet apparently it's me that is in the wrong here. Go figure.

    Please remember that comments on the internet do not include tone or body language and what you interpret from what is written is coloured by your own personality and state of mind.

    If you really want me to apologize, then please give specific examples because "just scroll up" doesn't cut it.

  13. It's interesting that absolutism is a form of cognitive distortion often used to justify imprisonment or commitment.

    Tends to go hand in hand with overgeneralisations, jumping to conclusions and wishful thinking. Perhaps those that promote those viewpoints should be subjected to some of their own psychoanalysis.


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