Something I’ve been thinking about a ton recently:

People invested in social change often use arguments of the form “you should do this or else you’re a bad person,” presumably because they think that this will motivate people to do it more effectively than arguments like “you should do this because here are all the ways it would make the world better,” or “you should do this because you would benefit from it yourself,” or others.

But in my experience as a writer and educator, this actually gets in the way because it paralyzes people. The thought of being A Bad Person looms so prominently in their minds that rather than reevaluating their opinions or behavior, they protest and get angry and resentful. The idea of being judged A Bad Person by someone they don’t even know makes them indignant, and that’s not a situation conducive to learning or social change.

That’s why I’ve largely been moving away from labeling people Good or Bad, both out loud and in my own thinking. Yes, sometimes it’s unavoidable to think that someone is A Bad Person, but I find that these thoughts *get in the way*. A Bad Person can be written off forever. A Bad Person can also be abused and treated cruelly with no ethical qualms, and you can probably see how this easily leads in a really bad direction. 

Why is it that if an intoxicated driver collides with a pregnant woman thus imposing consequential injuries that result in the death of her unborn child, this drunk individual can be legally charged with involuntary manslaughter, yet if this pregnant mother were to travel to a clinic and abort her child voluntarily at the same point in development, it would be completely legally acceptable? 

The issue of abortion is not rooted in legality or politics, although the law so blatantly fails to protect our young; it is a problem of morality and conscience, both of which we seem to lack. Our sense of value has been lost in the struggle for convenience, and with it the sanctity of human life. 

Feminism dares to expect more from men. Feminism expects a man to be ethical, emotionally present, and accountable to his values in his actions with women—as well as with other men. Feminism loves men enough to expect them to act more virtuously and actually believes them capable of doing so. Feminism is a vision that expects men to go from being ‘just guys,’ accepting whatever they might happen to do, to being just guys—capable of autonomy and authenticity, inspired by justice.
—  Michael Kimmel, ‘Guyland’

Brain scans reveal how people ‘justify’ killing

A new study has thrown light on how people can become killers in certain situations, showing how brain activity varies according to whether or not killing is seen as justified.

The study, led by Monash researcher Dr Pascal Molenberghs, School of Psychological Sciences, is published today in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Participants in the study played video games in which they imagined themselves to be shooting innocent civilians (unjustified violence) or enemy soldiers (justified violence). Their brain activity was recorded via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they played.

Dr Molenberghs said the results provided important insights into how people in certain situations, such as war, are able to commit extreme violence against others.

“When participants imagined themselves shooting civilians compared to soldiers, greater activation was found in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), an important brain area involved in making moral decisions,” Dr Molenberghs said.

“The more guilt participants felt about shooting civilians, the greater the response in the lateral OFC. When shooting enemy soldiers, no activation was seen in lateral OFC.”

The results show that the neural mechanisms that are typically implicated with harming others become less active when the violence against a particular group is seen as justified.

“The findings show that when a person is responsible for what they see as justified or unjustified violence, they will have different feelings of guilt associated with that – for the first time we can see how this guilt relates to specific brain activation,” Dr Molenberghs said.

The researchers hope to further investigate how people become desensitised to violence and how personality and group membership of both perpetrator and victim influence these processes.

Mass Effect moral alignment

Choose your side:

Chaotic Paragon: “’Sir?’ I may have reinstated you, but that doesn’t give you permission to go all formal on me.” – David Anderson

Lawful Paragon: “We’ll fight and win without it. I won’t let fear compromise who I am.” – Commander Shepard (depending on player’s choice)

Neutral Paragon: “We can disobey suicidal orders? Why wasn’t I told?” – Garrus Vakarian

Chaotic Neutral: “Everyone wants something, and because of that, everything is fair game.” – Jack (Subject Zero)

Lawful Neutral: “Why is it whenever someone says ‘with all due respect’, they really mean ‘kiss my ass’?” – Ashley Williams

True Neutral: “Trapped inside a Reaper. Could be worse. Don’t know how but… I guess it could be full of rats.” – Kasumi Goto

Chaotic Renegade: “You can either fight at my side or get crushed under my heel, but you will not stand in my way!” – Commander Shepard (depending on player’s choice)

Lawful Renegade: “Now we can get back to doing what krogan do best: saving everyone else from giant monsters.” – Urdnot Wrex

Neutral Renegade: “Rage is a hell of an anesthetic.” – Zaeed Massani

I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.

Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

Being pro-life means so much more than being against abortion. It means standing up for life at all its stages.

All these people talking about how they feel bad about this lion and how hunting is wrong, and how animals do not deserve this. I entirely agree with them. But yet, these hypocrites still go out and have dead animals on their plates and paying other people to raise their food for slaughter. Seriously, shut the fuck up with your hypocrisy.

I wish it was “not mentioned once”; then we’d have to guess how the Jewish god feels about abortion. Unfortunately, we don’t have to. The bible talks about abortion quite a bit. 

Sometimes it’s allowed to happen, sometimes it’s clearly implied (in that women who have been impregnated might very well be pregnant), and sometimes god orders the “pregnant women” of the enemy to be “ripped open”

Do Christians think they’re morally superior to their own god? At least Kirk Cameron does.  

Like anybody can tell you, I am not a very nice man. I don’t know the word. I have
always admired the villain, the outlaw, the son of a bitch. I don’t like the clean-shaven
boy with the necktie and the good job. I like desperate men, men with broken teeth
and broken minds and broken ways. They interest me. They are full of surprises and
explosions. I also like vile women, drunk cursing bitches with loose stockings and
sloppy mascara faces. I’m more interested in perverts than saints. I can relax with
bums because I am a bum. I don’t like laws, morals, religions, rules. I don’t like to be
shaped by society.
—  Charles Bukowski, South of No North”
I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
—  Robert A. Heinlein