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Author Topic: On Personal Property (from: Florida pastor wants to burn Quran)  (Read 1973 times)

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Online Serephino

Re: On Personal Property (from: Florida pastor wants to burn Quran)
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2010, 10:36:04 PM »
So the argument here is that morality does not play a part in what a person does with their own property?  Am I getting that right?  Interesting concept, but I'm afraid I can't agree.

Let's say I were to purchase all the materials necessary to print counterfeit money.  If I bought the materials and do it in my home, it's all my property....  You may say that such a thing is against the law and doesn't count.  But why is it against the law?  Because society considers such a thing to be immoral and wrong.   

Morality is a sense of right and wrong.  Whether one owns the things they're doing something wrong with or not is irrelevant.  Stealing via my computer and the internet service I pay for is wrong.  Dog fighting in my basement with my dog is wrong....

Of course burning a book is not illegal, unless there is a burn ban in your county, but that's not the point.  The fact of the matter is that even though the Quran is nothing but a book with words to you, it's more than that to many people.  If this man were to burn a few books that he no longer wanted that would be one thing; but that isn't what he was going to do. 

While it is true that what the book represents cannot be destroyed by burning it, there is symbolism involved.  Symbolism is the whole reason the jackass was doing it.  It would be like me flipping you off because I don't like the way you dress.  It's my finger, and only a gesture, but can any of you honestly tell me that that's how you would see it if I were to do such a thing?  Some of you may think me a jerk or idiot; and some of you may actually have hurt feelings, but you would not casually shrug it off as me expressing my freedom of speech with my finger. 

Our world is full of symbolism; from cave paintings of the horned god, all the way to the American flag.  The Bible means nothing to me, so I suppose me burning them isn't a huge deal.  However, if I were to do it in front of a church, that would be disrespectful.  So yes, the world is a bit more complicated than since you own something you can do whatever you want with it.  Your intent matters greatly.  This man's intent was to upset people, and probably gain some attention.  His intent is morally wrong, whether he owns the books or not.     

Offline Jude

Re: On Personal Property (from: Florida pastor wants to burn Quran)
« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2010, 11:02:08 PM »
This guy's stated goal isn't to disrespect Muslims by burning the Quran, but to show that he disapproves of the content therein and how it influences people throughout the world.  If his facts were correct (and the Quran was a dangerous book that created a large amount of dangerous extremists -- which I disagree with) I wouldn't find his actions immoral at all.  I think he's misguided, but I don't know that his intent is wrong.  The reason his actions are wrong is that he doesn't understand that extremists comprise a very small portion of Muslims.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2010, 11:03:28 PM by Jude »

Offline Noelle

Re: On Personal Property (from: Florida pastor wants to burn Quran)
« Reply #27 on: September 10, 2010, 11:04:24 PM »
The argument I'm making is not that morality has nothing to do with what a person does with their own property. Morality has everything to do with it in this case -- the man in question finds Islam objectionable, so he decides it to be within his own morals to show his objection and concern over a religion he sees as evil in order to spread his message and hopefully save people from its perceived evils.

Counterfeit money isn't illegal for the sole reason it's morally wrong, it's illegal because it tampers with our legal tender and can be devastating to our economy. If counterfeit money was being used to donate to charity, that would be a fairly morally confusing situation; breaking the law to benefit the poor is an extremely romanticized concept a la Robin Hood. It's not quite so clear-cut. What can seem obviously wrong in some cases can be incredibly relative to the person making the decision.

As I said above, the pastor probably thinks this is entirely within his moral realm because he's trying to save people from something he thinks will send them to hell. Good intentions aren't always so good. Meaning well just isn't enough.

What I am arguing is that books do not have meaning until human beings give it meaning. By now, I'd wager that a lot of Americans couldn't care less about a burning flag because they have become desensitized to the act. We still imbue the same virtues in the symbol of our flag, but the act of desecrating it is given as much power as we let it have. As I said, burning the physical object in no way eliminates the symbolism behind it. Burning a flag does not burn down American ideals because the object in of itself is just a placeholder. I'm not saying the Qur'an is meaningless, I'm saying the physical object is just a thing. It's a stand-in. Ideas are intangible. Your finger is still just a finger. There's no magical properties about your middle finger or else it would be a universal sign that says "fuck you" across all languages and cultures. But it's not. It's just a finger in those places.

And, in fact, I probably would just shrug it off. You have the right to tell me I look stupid or my hair is funny or you hate the smell of oranges or that you loathe the color green. It also means that I have the right to just not care about your opinion. The freedom of speech is the freedom to hear things you might not like. It's the freedom to express things others might condemn you for. It's not actually a freedom if you set limitations to the things only you want to see and hear about.

Of course his intent is morally wrong to most of us, but to him, he's doing the right thing. The beautiful thing about America is that you have the right to make a complete jackass of yourself. You have the right to have an unpopular or downright idiotic opinion. Disrespect is hardly enough to silence that.

Offline DarklingAliceTopic starter

Re: On Personal Property (from: Florida pastor wants to burn Quran)
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2010, 01:45:06 AM »
Okay, I will try this one more time in as basic of terms as I can manage. This is a teensy bit of an oversimplification, but anything more complex seems to get somehow misinterpreted:

1. Morality consists of doing right or doing wrong.
2. The action of doing right or wrong takes an object.
3. This object can only be another sentient (and that is sentient as opposed to sapient) being.
4. Books are not sentient.
5. Therefore, books cannot be done right by, nor be wronged.
6. Ownership consists in exclusive rights over a property.
7. Therefore, only the owner can be done right by or wrong by re: property they own.

Regarding circumstances previously mentioned:
-Cannibalism is not immoral. The dead are not sentient. The non-sentient cannot be wronged. Cultural and emotional promptings lead us to show the dead consideration, but it is a choice without moral quality.
-Counterfeiting is immoral. It defrauds, thus wrongs other people.
-Stealing is immoral. It deprives, thus wrongs other people.
-Setting up dogfights is immoral. It harms, and thus wrongs the dogs (sentient albeit not sapient creatures).
-Flipping people off is not immoral. It harms nobody. It wrongs nobody. Just because it is an assholish thing to do, doesn't mean the action has a moral character.

It is really very simple. Morality is concerned with the freedoms, suffering, and interaction of sentient creatures. You can not wrong inanimate objects. Protests, of any kind, are not wrong if they do not harm anyone. If these people were stealing the books they burned, that would be wrong as they would be wronging other people. You can not wrong paper. If they were binding Muslims to chairs and forcing them to watch, they would be causing psychological harm and wronging other people. If people are free to ignore you, you cannot cause them harm merely by doing something in bad taste.

To forcibly stop them would deprive these other people of their freedom. Thus it would be wrong.

Morality is a characteristic of an action and its consequences. Intent does not play into it. You can intend weal or woe all you want, but that doesn't determine the moral character of your actions. The best intentions in the world can still lead to great wrongs. The action and its consequence are what matter here, and if there is no harm or restriction of freedom, there is no wrong.

Things can still be good or bad ideas. We can still have opinions. We can still be repulsed by things or emotionally moved. But those things alone do not grant a moral character to an action.

EDIT: Tacking this on here. There is no inherent connection between legality and morality. Law derives from principles laid down in the interest of a society which are not always within the purview or interest of morality. When they do line up we can call a society moral. When they do not, we can call it immoral. It is also possible for their to be laws with no moral character. The existence of the law does not change the nature of the inherent morality or immorality of actions and consequences.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 01:54:47 AM by DarklingAlice »

Offline Lithos

Re: On Personal Property (from: Florida pastor wants to burn Quran)
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2010, 02:23:30 AM »
I do not think that there is any problem with burning the book itself, more about the publicity and the attempt to effect public opinion by it. I bet everyone who smokes has found bible useful when running out of cigarette paper at times when shops are closed, I sure have :p

How I see it is this: If someone wants to burn a book, go ahead and do it, can do it in your own property and on your own time and can be quiet about it. If you want to burn a book and get media attention on it and affect peoples opinions by it, then do not wonder if you get opinions from public back, and not just positive ones. Fans of the book will probably diss you, those who do not like the book will probably cheer you, and some people needing media to give them opinions might think that cause you burn a book, it must be bad. Public has a lot of people like that so that part makes such things done publicly some times dangerous.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 02:37:52 AM by Lithos »

Offline Imogen

Re: On Personal Property (from: Florida pastor wants to burn Quran)
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2010, 04:53:54 AM »
I'm agreeing with Lithos on this one. It's much the same as with many related issues: It's not what you do, but how you do it. The act in itself is hardly noteworthy but the media hype and masses diving upon the matter are. There will be those in favor and those against, and often the most fanatical ones on either side of the fence will shout loudest.

At least, there's a crumb of consolotion in this whipped up attention. If there's nothing more interesting to cover, that's quite a good sign for today's state of affairs.

Offline Brandon

Re: On Personal Property (from: Florida pastor wants to burn Quran)
« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2010, 05:23:34 AM »
Do try to learn the meaning of terms before using them <_<

The dispensation of a person's property by that person (regardless whether it be a piece of land, or book, or anything), is a morally (and therefore ethically) neutral act. It is wholly self-referential unless we choose to make it otherwise (thank you mass media >_<). Now, we can say that it is in bad taste all we want, but that is morally irrelevant. There can be neither good nor evil in the dispensation of what a person owns by that person, when no one else has a claim of ownership over it. This is core to the concept of ownership and the whining of great many people that certain things are sacred or magic (whether they by holy books or pieces of land or flags) does not a claim of ownership make.

I find it interesting how people always seem to miss the underlying tones of what Im trying to say as well as the blatantly obvious stuff. I tend to make my arguments from a philosophical point of view that considers every side I can think of when approaching a problem (thats not to say its every side) but really its not rocket science so I fail to understand why so few people "get" it. It makes me wonder if people are just looking for an argument. Am I just some kind of convienant target or something to that accord?

I was quite clear that for me ethics are in essence what is lawful or unlawful (Read: chaotic) and morales fall within the purview of good and evil. I was also quite clear that morales vary from person to person and just so I dont have to say it later ethics are determined by cultures accept in the case of personal codes or other things I havnt considered. You need only to look at history to understand ethical evolution and have a basic understanding of human interaction to understand the idea of varying morales.

I have little to no desire to discuss the discussion of personal property because I would just be repeating myself for the 100th time. I only want to ask that, in the future, if you want to challenge my points of view and make a counter argument at least try to make some attempt to understand where Im coming from (maybe you did and didnt translate through but it doesnt seem like you did to me)
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 05:32:28 AM by Brandon »

Offline Trieste

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Re: On Personal Property (from: Florida pastor wants to burn Quran)
« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2010, 07:36:11 AM »
In the future, please make such statements in PM, since they don't really need to be in the thread. I'm leaving the post there rather than deleting it and PMing you because it's just simpler that way.

Since this has already been split once, please do try to stay on the thread topic.