Saturday, April 10, 2010

Outrage and offense

There's a few things I don't actually understand, but one thing in particular. And by that, I mean I understand roughly what they're saying and how it happens, but I don't understand the ontological implications of what they're saying, or more specifically, the human self's epistemological problem that comes from it. And the thing I don't understand is outrage and offense over various degrees of blasphemy.

The most recent example is a cartoon frontpage of some German funny magazine, but the recent years of the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad is an example as well, where people are being outraged and deeply offended by something, screaming and yelling and burning stuff and worse.

How does that actually work? I understand why people find these things disturbing on an ideological level, perhaps enough the feel outraged about it, but not so much on a rational one. We are all rational beings, apparently, so why are we letting our irrational outrage take over the rational being? Why do we feel offended by something that mocks or poke a stick at our idols?

Because they're idols, of course, I get that part. There is this sense that if something deserves our idolation, then it follows that anything criticizing that idol is intrinsically criticizing the idolater.

Ideas are funny things. Ideas or conceptual models we create in our heads, be it moral codes, a business proposal, an act of determining ethic behavior in a given setting, whatever they are, because they are ours, because they are something we have embraced, any criticism of that idea becomes defacto criticism of the person holding the idea.

So, I understand how people gets offended and display and act out their outrage from a rational view point, I just can't for the life of me understand why people would want to embarrass themselves like that. Surely the thought must have crossed their mind that if their ideas or idol is so fragile as to making you outraged of criticism of it, perhaps that idea isn't as strong as your devotion deserves it? That perhaps if you allow yourself to be outraged then perhaps it isn't the criticism that is the problem, but you?

Oh, who am I kidding!? Of course people don't think this way. And that is what I truly don't understand.

1 comment:

  1. Alex,

    I think a lot of this has to do with devotion to persons. Perhaps people who have grown up in, say, a devout Muslim environment, feel as if they have gotten to know Mohammad - in a sense, they feel devotion to him, and love him. Especially when you grow up in a household where you have both a father and mother who you really do think care about you and are good to you. Then, when you combine this with the fact that they live in an honor society, where so much in life revolves around not only your honor, but defending the honor of those you love, perhaps this starts to make some real sense.

    I have a similar story, in that I grew up in a devout Christian household in the United States. Hence a strong personal attraction to Jesus Christ. Even if you talk to many people who are atheists, some of them often have very strong feelings about Jesus. They miss Him - they wish they could believe in Him. This is of course not necesarily true of all who grow up in Christian households of course. Some who grow up in fundamentalist or [Norwegian, for example] Lutheran Pietistic households which were very legalistic may not have such fond memories of Jesus.

    Just to say that I think that who we are, what we believe, and how we believe are all, to a large part, dependent on how we were formed personally as individuals.

    I look forward to reading more of your musings. I probably won't get a chance to comment so often.

    (from NGC4Lib)

    I like to say that persons aren't rational, actually. Our personal relationships are hardly rational, it seems to me.


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