Muggles for Harry Potter

McMullin, Elise emcmullin at kl.com
Wed Jun 21 12:46:20 EDT 2000


Chris asked:
If the creationists are so patently wrong why
>aren't you feeling sorry for them rather than protesting about them being
given
>the right to make fools of themselves?

Jennifer replied:
I think the problem would be that innocent (non-science-background)readers
might take them seriously, not realising that they were arguing from a
religious and not scientific viewpoint, because they use scientific-sounding
words. The creationists misrepresent their position, and try to make fools
of other people. They are too powerful, especially in America, to feel sorry
for them. The consequences of their ideas being bolstered up and taken more
seriously in any society could be very repressive and unpleasant. When a
religion is in power it does not tend to be tolerant of dissenters.

The Handmaid's Tale anyone?

But this connects to censorship as well.  Take fundamentalism, which I don't
think I am alone in finding so unappealing that I would rather not think
about it; however, I also think that it makes more sense to fully
investigate it and not react to it by closing off the mind, dismissing the
arguments from the outset and doing one's best to ignore the existence of
those ideas.  Yet, don't think by this that I am in favor of a relativism so
complete that everything is rendered amorphous (despite my litcrit
background).

Instead, I am advocating a several pronged investigation.  What is the
argument?  How are they making the argument? Why are the making the
argument, what motivates it overtly and covertly?  What am I repulsed by?
Why am I repulsed?  How am I repulsed?
In this way, I hope to get behind the surfaces of the thing and address what
is unstated and underlying.

I can't say I've made tremendous progress yet, but I was housesitting last
week and popped into an aol chat to pass the time (it's a rare day when I do
this). There were a few people in the room whose idea of conversation was
quoting the bible (arrr), so I decided here was an opportunity to work a bit
on my ideas of approach and I simply started asking them what they thought
of the quotes they presented and how they understood it. (I don't want to
know what the Structuralists think woman! What do you think!)

As far as hoping for real progress in making someone out there in cyberspace
think about what they reel off - please, that would be foolish.  But I can
examine them and work toward a deeper sense of what is going on with them -
and with me.  Anyway, the result was mildly suggestive - where they leaped
on those who took issue with them, the three who were quote, quote, quoting
got very quiet when I asked them questions.  Seemed to take the wind out of
their sails.  My current premise is that the vociferous words and
statements, browbeating and proselytizing is just surface - and if it
weren't one thing it would be another - and the way to address it is to see
and address what's behind the curtain.

Anyway, censorship is the outward action resulting from the rejection of
ideas which repulse one.  As several have pointed out, it's an impulse one
feels regardless of orientation.  And I think the solution is the same
whether you are censored or censoring - to neither ignore nor stop at being
threatened/mastered by the ideas, one must put them on the workbench.  To
teach people that ability of feeling free to work over ideas and fully
investigate them - i.e. as Mary Ann mentioned her amazement that her
students had never been introduced to critical thinking skills.  She did
them the service of their lives to put those tools in their hands. It's one
of the things for which I am grateful to my own college professors.

Of course, whether you like how people use those tools or try to withhold
those tools in hopes people won't be able to find their way through the maze
you build... another question.  And it annoyed me no end in school when
people used their reasoning only to bolster an opinion of their own which
was too precious to be examined. I suppose that's very human, but it's
something to be alert about in ourselves as well as others.  Spoken like a
liberal arts student.

I agree with Chris about voting with the feet.  And I agree with Jennifer
that Reservoir Dogs was very disturbing!  I don't like stories where it
isn't just that degrading things happen in the story, but rather the artist
is coming from a life-degrading place.

Now that Rowena has shared her cricket explanation... I can see I am doomed
to befuddlement!

Elise
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