Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Just because I'm tired of arguing with people about dumb things...

... I guess I have to state a moral philosophy of bad form and annoyance.

1. There are individual actions and there are collective actions. They are different.

2. Some individual actions have terrible results when performed often by many people. Often, here, these actions are the result of many individual decisions made in self-interest, and the result does not resemble what we'd choose collectively. Often the harm can be significantly reduced if those individual actions are simply done less often, by fewer people. Sometimes, here, we luck out of disaster because of physical or economic constraints. Other times we need to act collectively to avert disaster. Acting individually in self-interest is human. Acting collectively toward our collective best interest is a really good idea. Acting individually toward a collective best interest is usually futile. Acting individually in self-interest while hoping that others' individual actions toward a collective best interest will solve our collective problems is stupid and annoying.

3. Sometimes the demands of our world are such that we have to do things that wouldn't be good for everyone to do all the time (cf. Kant). Sometimes when we do we run up against constraints imposed on us by necessary collective actions taken to limit the harms caused by such behaviors. It is bad form, in this scenario, to complain about it.

4. We are all responsible for the consequences of our actions to some degree, in proportion to how much of a choice we really have (cf, I dunno, Camus?). Sometimes people with lots of reasonable choices choose to do things that cause a lot of harm relative to the alternatives, simply because these things benefit them. It is bad form, in this scenario, to disclaim responsibility. It is particularly annoying to disclaim responsibility on the basis that these actions or choices are popular.

OK. That's not comprehensive or absolute, but I think it's reasonable. Good enough to stand around as proof of my logical and moral consistency, in order to annoy the bejesus out of people. BE IT PROCLAIMED.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Apparently the OJ documentary won an Oscar?

I haven't seen the whole thing, only bits and pieces of it, and it was a while ago, and I didn't write about it then. Maybe there's some part of it that examines this and ties it in to the thesis that its title (OJ: Made in America) implies. Anyway, there's a part of it that really stuck with me. They were talking about OJ's mixture of success and struggle fitting in with the rich and mostly white world he inhabited after retirement. There was this idea that there was something off with his constant desire to charm people and present a successful image of himself. So they interviewed a bunch of his rich and mostly white friends, and one of them talked about how he was bad at golf, and how he laughingly cheated at it, and how his golf buddies just couldn't get through to him the importance of honor and sportsmanship on the golf course.

Honestly, if I had to play golf to get through my social interactions I would cheat my ass off (while laughing about it). Because, like OJ, I'm terrible at golf, and I'd just be trying to get on to the next hole and not hold up the group. Sportsmanship? This dude is here because he was a professional sportsman! A typical round of golf is just something to do to pass the time with friends. When these things involve sports or games, and one person isn't very good, you give that person a leg up or take it easy on them, if you're decent. Apparently OJ's rich friends cared more about some mythical honor code of golf than being a good friend, which probably reflects more on them than on him. If he was displaying some kind of character flaw by trying to charm his way through stuff he wasn't great at, this would be a common character flaw that doesn't hold the secret key to his becoming abusive, and then a murderer.

The “secret” key to OJ becoming abusive, and then a murderer, is that he always regarded Nicole more as property (as a symbol of his success and status) than as an actual person. This attitude was obvious from direct quotes that the documentary showed, but did not (in the parts I saw) connect to an assessment of his attitudes or character. He abused her for years, covering it up through connections to police and media, before murdering her. The documentary did cover this, but didn't (as far as I saw) connect it to familiar patterns of domestic abuse or the tacit agreements that keep abuse covered up. If there's one thing that's directly tied to his crimes, and also reflects back on American culture, it's these things.