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Argument from truth

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by Sapiens, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. Moral Orel

    Moral Orel Proud Citizen of Moralton Supporter

    United States
    What false beliefs and impressions do you think I hold because I joke about anything?
    Then we agree that even when humor has the purpose of causing emotional harm, it can still be a good thing.
    But so what? If he enjoys the detraction, then no harm no foul. Imagine if Jeff Ross won an award for anything. Do you think he would want whatever ceremony held in his honor to be anything other than a roast? Wouldn't he probably be upset if it wasn't a roast? Is maintaining the solemnity of some occasion more important than making the honoree feel good about the occasion itself?
    That could only be true if I would tell any joke to anyone indiscriminately.
  2. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

    United States
    That everything is a proper subject of humor, that nothing shouldn't be detracted from, etc. Just the things we've been talking about.


    You're sort of stuck on the subjectivity angle--on whether anyone is personally offended by a joke. I haven't really touched that topic in the entire thread because I don't find it very interesting. Suppose, for example, that you tell a reasonably clean joke and someone is offended. That doesn't mean you did anything wrong per se, it just means that someone is too sensitive. Whether people are offended isn't really the point. The point is whether the act is objectively offensive or problematic. The first question of whether subjective offense is taken is indicative of this second objective question, but the relation is only correlative.

    I don't have too much more to say. If you like we could revisit the fact that humor detracts from honor and would be out of place at a ceremony awarding the medal of honor. You responded with the subjective tack: "If the recipient isn't offended then it's okay." I would say that an inappropriate act does not become appropriate due to the fact that some or all do not recognize that it is inappropriate. Further, if you cracked a joke that detracted from the honor of the recipient at the very epitome of his honoring, then many would be offended, and they would be right.

    The deeper drill could produce a radical subjectivism--the idea that you don't believe in objective values at all and therefore are only able to measure the appropriateness of an action according to subjective receipt. I would see that as a false belief, too.

    (Anyway, sorry to rush the conversation but I'm trying to get off the map for awhile and I don't really want to leave this one hanging. :))
  3. Moral Orel

    Moral Orel Proud Citizen of Moralton Supporter

    United States
    But... You were supposed to be explaining to me the harm that comes from treating everything as the proper subject of humor. And you're telling me that the harm is causing yourself to believe that there's no harm that comes from treating everything as the proper subject of humor because that belief would be false. It's a bit circular, ya?
    If some topics are objectively offensive, then all other topics are not objectively offensive. That means that when someone feels offended at something not objectively offensive, they are feeling the incorrect emotions; and if someone remains stoic in the face of something that is objectively offensive, then they are feeling the incorrect emotions. That doesn't seem absurd to you?

    It's sort of akin to telling someone who was pricked by a needle that yelping in pain is the incorrect response. Or someone else is incorrect to not yelp. Some folks have a low threshold for pain, some folks like pain. Who is objectively correct?
    What makes it inappropriate? If Jeff Ross was to receive the medal of honor, I think it would be rude of the crowd to insist that it be a somber event when he wants a roast (and if you're familiar with Jeff Ross, you know he would).
    I believe that happiness is objectively valuable, and so is avoiding unhappiness. The rest is pretty much just juggling all the subjective stuff that comes flying our way. No topic for a joke is objectively offensive. Can you demonstrate that is incorrect?
  4. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

    United States
    Okay, sure, but if we disagree on the root I'm not sure if we will agree on the consequences.

    The consequences of that root error--the false beliefs and impressions that you could lead others into--are the specific categories and instances that humor is inappropriately applied to. So maybe someone is at the awards ceremony, hears your joke during the time that the person is being awarded the medal of honor, laughs, and comes to the conclusion that honor is subordinate to humor (and that jokes of this type are appropriate). Or they hear a joke about rape, or God, or Hell, and come to believe that any of those categories are subordinate to humor.

    Although it is somewhat difficult to prescind from our objective/subjective difference, you can at least see some negative consequences. As more people are subjected to inappropriate humor, that kind of humor will multiply to the detriment of, say, the solemnity of awards ceremonies. At the limit all of life is just a joke or at least the appropriate subject of a joke.

    No; why would it sound absurd? Emotions are not infallible or non-rational, they are just physiological extensions of rationality (and can, to that extent, be right or wrong). Once one understands that emotions are based on perceptions it is easier to see this, for if one's perceptions are accurate then one's emotions will be in accord with reality.

    I could push this further, but it is really the common view. It is precisely why people who are deeply offended at one of your jokes believe there is something wrong with you. I suppose you would have to say more about where the absurdity is supposed to lie.

    Pain, sadness, pleasure, and joy are primary emotions and are therefore closer to infallible than things like fear or anger. There is often less intellectual coupling between the primary emotions and the response. Humor isn't like that. It is worth noting that to change one's emotions requires changing one's perceptions, and that does usually take time.

    It detracts from the purpose of the event: honoring someone for valiant deeds. Because it is obvious that it does detract from the event to one extent or another it becomes clear that the only way in which it would not be inappropriate is if awards ceremonies are themselves inappropriate. An awards ceremony is not a roast. They are mutually exclusive events because of the mutually exclusive nature of humor and honoring.

    Again, you could probably make some small jokes about the recipient and get away with it. Small detraction might be okay, depending on the nature of the event, but it is still detraction. The essence of an awards ceremony is incompatible with the essence of humor at the recipient's expense. If you mix them they will only mix as oil and water does.

    But all you're saying is that he doesn't want an awards ceremony.

    If there are things that are incompatible with humor and those things are valuable then humor is objectively offensive when it undermines one of those things.

    Edit: I am trying to think of a simple example. Suppose you are at an awards ceremony for Christian Schilt, who evacuated wounded Marines while under fire. You turn to your friend at your table, "Boy, he always was a teacher's pet!" Your friend laughs, but someone behind you overhears and is offended. Who's right?
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  5. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer Supporter

    Why should anyone be right? One person was offended; another was amused. That's it. That's the total; the end. There needn't be one final answer.
  6. Moral Orel

    Moral Orel Proud Citizen of Moralton Supporter

    United States
    Rape itself isn't subordinate to humor itself just because someone finds a rape joke funny. I laugh at rape jokes, that doesn't mean that I'll choose to walk into a comedy club before I stop a rape. I think you could say that rape as a topic of conversation is subordinate to the effects of humor, I guess, but that kind of loses any impact, doesn't it?
    Well, ya, any aspect of life is an appropriate subject of a joke depending on your audience. Imagine a world where no one ever was offended by any joke. What would be so bad about that?

    Solemnity of awards ceremonies is a subjective value. Some people like their awards ceremonies to be entertaining too.
    Nope. People can have 100% accurate perceptions of something, understand it the exact same way, and still feel differently about it. There was a story in the news section a while back about a kid who made light of slavery to make a Promposal sign. Everyone understood that the kid was making a joke and wasn't advocating for re-enslaving blacks. Yet some folks felt offended that he did it, and some folks didn't care.
    Oh I know full well that my view isn't popular, but that doesn't make it wrong, just like the fact that your view is popular doesn't make it right. Appealing to emotion is the most persuasive argument anyone can make, that's why everyone thinks that the things which offend them are special and objectively offensive.
    Well, that's kind of my point with the pin prick analogy. You say that pain is less fallible, yet different people still respond differently to the exact same stimulus which they all perceive exactly the same way.
    Nope. The Academy Awards is an awards ceremony and it's filled with humor, often mean humor, and people love it. Even though a roast is mean and nasty at times, it's still honoring the roastee. People say terrible things, then they say something nice at the end, so that ultimately the roastee feels honored. Hand him a medal or plaque or something, and now it's an awards ceremony too.
    I would agree that in that specific example folks shouldn't be cracking jokes. You went into the event expecting a somber affair, so you should expect other folks to be upset if you aren't conforming to the event. I tell my awful jokes at work, on break, outside in the smoking area where most employees frequent. Depending on who's out there, I don't tell some jokes.

    Now there's two problems I see with how you're framing your thoughts here. First, the topic of rape isn't the same thing as rape itself; just using rape as an example, insert any other topic you would find objectively offensive. Much like how people distinguish between fantasy and reality while watching a movie or playing a video game, you can't compare acts depicted on a screen to real acts, just like you can't compare listening to a topic of a joke to witnessing the actual occurrence of that topic.

    Secondly, you're arguing that giving someone an award should be a solemn affair, as though it is an objective fact. So you can't just give me one specific example where people are expecting that isolated event to be solemn. You've got the difficult case to make, I'm the one who gets to show one outlying scenario which makes awards ceremonies not inherently solemn. That's why I brought up Jeff Ross. I value the honoree's enjoyment of the affair more than I value the affair itself. You seem to see it backwards: that there is an objectively correct way to run an awards show, and the feelings of the honoree are subordinate to that.
  7. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

    United States
    I don't really have time to parse the logical aspect in which my statement is true, but someone who does not tell rape jokes understands the rape-humor relation differently than someone who does, and the second person's understanding has a greater subordination of rape to humor.

    The problem with your position, by the way, is that you are not admitting moderation of any kind. You are saying that no jokes are inappropriate (or "no types of jokes," as you like). That's a strange position, but counterexamples might get me banned from the forum. :D

    That strikes me as absurd. :scratch:

    I mean... What are jokes? On your conception they are basically a subset of stories. Stories are value-laden, intellectually-contentful things. And it seems to me that, on your understanding, a joke is just a story told with the intention of creating humor. Someone could tell a terrible, terrible joke, and it would still be a joke as long as they intend it that way, right? So for all intents and purposes any (short) story could be a joke. Thus a world where no one was offended by any joke implies a world that accepts pure subjectivism, complete absence of communal values, and no intellectual integrity. ...lol. I realize that more argumentation might be needed here, but your comment is very surprising to me.

    The two groups inevitably have drastically different perceptions about humor, slavery, and intent just to name a few.

    Sorry, emotion is correlated to reality. Evolution helped us with that. When 99.9% of people are angry with you, there's a good chance you did something wrong.

    Pain isn't equated with a stimulus on any definition. Pain is a subjective perception. When one person feels more pain than another doctors don't jump to the conclusion that the stimulus is different (though this is often the case). There are physiological and neurological differences between people that can alter their perceptions of equal stimuli. If you could clone an exact replica of yourself you would both feel the same pain at the same stimulus. Pain is objective/infallible in that theoretical way. But I already admitted that our emotions are correlative, not infallible. Your argument doesn't prove otherwise.

    I wasn't talking about the Academy Awards, though. That's a long ways from the medal of honor.

    Right, but extrapolate. If there are events that are incompatible with humor then there are topics/types that are incompatible with humor. The event is somber for a reason, and all somber things are incompatible with humor. If you try to mix humor and a somber topic it won't work.

    Obviously this is a spectrum. Less somber things can be the subject of humor more than more somber things. Suppose you make light of a mildly somber topic via humor. 70% of the audience laughs, 20% does not laugh (but is not offended), and 10% are offended. Now you make light of a moderately somber topic via humor. 33% laugh; 34% don't; and 33% are offended. Now you make light of a extremely somber topic via humor. 5% laugh; 20% don't; and 75% are offended.

    If you find that kind of scenario credible then you must admit that people's perceptions and emotions indicate a negative correlation between humor and somberness. Maybe people's perceptions and emotions are wrong, but you're the significant outlier here. I think it is obvious that the reason a somber event is incompatible with humor is because somberness is incompatible with humor. If you disagree then you must give a better reason why the somber event is incompatible with humor.

    Of course you can compare them. That's why people watch pornography when they want to be sexually aroused. A symbol is a pointer to a reality. They aren't the same thing but they are related, able to be compared, and perfectly relevant to the topic at hand. The concept of Jesus' words in Matthew 5:21-28 isn't controversial. Laughing at a live rape is not the same thing as laughing at a video of a rape, and that is not the same as laughing at a pretend rape, and that is not the same as laughing at the idea of a rape, and that is not the same thing as laughing at an aspect of an idea of a rape, but they are all related.

    No, I argued that giving the medal of honor to someone who performed virtuous and life-threatening deeds is a solemn act. I never said that every awards ceremony is solemn. You gave the categorical statement; I'm giving the counterexample. Your categorical claimed that any type of joke is appropriate. Therefore I can be as specific and extreme as I like in crafting my counterexample.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  8. Moral Orel

    Moral Orel Proud Citizen of Moralton Supporter

    United States
    I'm going to take a less than standard approach to your last post. Let me know if there was something I missed, but I'm not going to break it down into bite-sized quotes this time.

    Rape jokes and actual rape are related to some extent, sure. But is it significant in any way? If laughing at rape jokes doesn't make you any more likely to rape or turn a blind eye to rape, then so what? In one context the topic of rape is subordinate to humor, and in another context humor is subordinate to actual rape. Without using precise language to describe exactly what you're speaking of, it's inaccurate to apply a blanket statement of "rape is subordinate to humor". All things are related in one way or another, simply stating that things are related isn't sufficient.

    I stand by my position that any topic, including rape, is okay to tell a joke about. As a counterexample you offered up a situation that it isn't okay to joke in loosely tying in that the topic is the honoree's heroic deeds. I agree that somberness and humor don't mix, but you're arguing that some situations should be somber. I agree, but the determining factor is the audience and the honoree which is why it's all subjective. You never really addressed my Jeff Ross counterexample and instead tried to claim that it wouldn't be an award ceremony. That's why I brought up the Academy Awards. If Jeff Ross pulled a bunch of babies from a burning building, and someone offered to throw an event for him to honor that deed, he would insist on it being a roast. Why would it be an incorrect way to honor him by throwing the event that he wants?

    In your example of the marine it should be somber if the marine wants it somber, and most people probably would. That doesn't mean they're correct. Most people like sugary snacks and evolution had a hand in that. That doesn't mean that chocolate ice cream is objectively tasty no matter how much I insist it is. If the event is advertised as somber, then it should stay somber. If Jeff Ross won an award no matter what for, it would be advertised as a roast. People would go into each event getting what they expected when they walked in the door. There are events that humor shouldn't be a part of, but that's because of the audience, not the topic. But hey, maybe that marine is a huge Jeff Ross fan, has all the Comedy Central Roasts on DVD, and would want a roast but wouldn't ask for one simply because he doesn't want to offend people. Would he be wrong for wanting what he wants?

    Now, you brought up perceptions, and I sort of assumed you meant it in a Three's Company kind of way. Mr. Roper would have a limited amount of information that affected his perception that Jack was gay. But you responded that the folks I mentioned have different perceptions about humor, slavery, etc. Are any of them objectively correct, or are they just subjective perceptions? I'd use the word "opinions" in that instance, "perceptions" is misleading. Note though, that in my example there are not differing opinions on the intent, that was part of the point.

    Jokes are stories, and some stories are just for entertainment value. Not all stories are "value-laden". A script for an episode of "Beavis and Butthead" is a story, and it is not value-laden. When you compartmentalize entertainment and other values, you can have a life where every well-crafted joke is funny and you still hate evil people doing evil things. Pure subjectivism in the context of being offended by words does not require a spill-over into real things. Are you trying to argue that I'm being logically inconsistent by being against actual rape and being for rape jokes?

    Last points to wrap up... I used pain as an example because you said it's less fallible than emotions. If even the less fallible thing is subjective, how is the more fallible thing not subjective?

    And I would love to hear your counterexamples of jokes that you think should never be uttered. PM me. I'll match you joke for joke if you like. I am always in the mood to swap jokes.
  9. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

    United States
    I appreciate your change of presentation, but for now I will continue to block-quote you. By the way, I found a fun string of jokes, here.

    I would say that laughing at something implies at least partial condoning of that thing, and therefore laughing at a rape joke would make it more likely that you would turn a blind eye, etc.


    Sufficient for what? Someone who is willing to make jokes about rape is subordinating rape to humor more than someone who is not. That's what I was thinking.

    What's the difference between a topic and a situation? Is it possible that situations can be off-limits to humor, but topics cannot? Finally, if some situations are problematic then some jokes are impermissible--namely the jokes that would be told in a particular situation.

    No, certain events are of a certain nature regardless of the audience and honoree. An award ceremony for the medal of honor is always 'somber' regardless of the attendees.

    Would he? Joking about that act disrespects people who save babies and the value of babies themselves. It's not funny that babies are saved from death.

    Sugar is essential to human health, whether you like chocolate or vanilla.

    Humor involves a twist by definition. If people get exactly what they expect then there is no humor.

    Humor also involves context, so your point applies in some cases. I don't think it applies in the case of the medal of honor ceremony.

    Sorry, I don't know that show very well, but either Jack is gay or he is not, and the humor is stapled to that fact. Whether the person is fooled or not influences the humor...

    Thank you. This is a great point that I sometimes miss.

    I don't agree with this. N.T. Wright writes on this topic in the context of cultural stories and myths, but I think his point applies here as well.

    They can't be compartmentalized. That's a fundamental error of our culture. We think we can binge watch superhero movies and not come away acting like superheroes.

    Thoughts and words are real things that refer to real things...

    I wouldn't call it logical inconsistency. I would call it a mis-alignment of your emotions and sense of humor with your sense of morality.

    Pain and fear occupy a place between objectivity and subjectivity. Objective things elicit them and yet we experience them subjectively.

    I'm sure you are, but that would be immoral for me. :p

    (This last sentence is an example of a joke that we can both laugh at for different reasons. I can laugh at myself because I do not know if my position is correct, and you can laugh at me because--in many cases--I do not mind being laughed at. Some jokes are funny for a variety of reasons. I like that kind of a joke.)
  10. Moral Orel

    Moral Orel Proud Citizen of Moralton Supporter

    United States
    It took about a month for you to cook up a reply. I must be on to something if you have that much trouble trying to refute me ;)
    Loved those. I went to work and immediately told the meteor shower joke. When I tell people clean jokes it always throws them off, lol. My boss and a few of us were talking about allergies the other day, when I mentioned that I'm not allergic to anything, my boss quipped, "Maybe to clean jokes". So I said, "Did you hear that McDonald's is coming out with their own meatless burger, called the Beyond Burger? They had to delay the launch though because all the patties were stolen by the Yamburgler!"
    Yes, laughing at a rape joke is condoning rape jokes and makes you more likely to turn a blind eye to rape jokes. Now if I was saying that it's okay to laugh at an actual rape in progress, then that would be condoning actual rape, but that's clearly not what I'm saying. I think you meant that laughing at something that is related to something else condones that something else, but you see how that already starts to sound silly, right?
    Wait... You just agreed that actual rape isn't subordinate to humor, only the topic of rape is subordinate to humor...
    A topic is the thing you're talking about, the situation is where, when, and who you tell it to. Just because I wouldn't tell a Jewish joke inside of a Jewish Synagogue during church services doesn't mean that the joke should never be told.
    I agree that medal of honor ceremonies have traditionally been somber, but you're trying to show me that they should be.
    He would. He likes to say, "I only roast the ones I love". He had a little series on Netflix called "Historic Roasts" where he and his dais would dress up like folks from history and roast someone acting as some historical figure. He roasted Anne Frank and Gilbert Godfrey was there dressed in a Hitler Youth uniform. He's just as tasteless as I am. And I know that you and most folk don't think there's anything funny about saving babies, but there is a whole genre of jokes devoted to dead babies. Most of which rely on pure shock value as a crutch, but a few are actually clever.
    I didn't say anything about human health, and I specifically avoided using a word as vague as "good". Chocolate ice cream is not objectively tasty.
    That's like saying there's no such thing as a magic trick, because if people expect to be tricked, then it isn't a trick.
    ....Someone agreeing with me is so rare around here it always sounds like sarcasm. That wasn't sarcasm was it?
    So then what sort or values do I derive from watching an episode of Beavis and Butthead? I mean, I value the entertainment, but I think you mean something more by "value-laden", right? I thought you just agreed that some stories are just for entertainment...
    They can be compartmentalized, and I do compartmentalize them. We've been talking about rape jokes, but I've never witnessed an attempted rape. However, I tell spousal abuse jokes, and those should fall under the same sort of argument you've been making, ya? Here's another fun anecdote.

    A long time ago, when the wife and I were still dating, I moved in with her and she was living with her sister and brother-in-law at the time. Their marriage was on the rocks, mostly because they're both awful people, so I had to watch them fight a lot. One night though, we're all at the house and her sister had a female friend over. The husband and wife get to screaming in the kitchen, I paid no mind because that was normal for them. Then the husband swept a bunch of pots and pans off of a counter top and screamed at her, "You want me to beat the [bleep] out of you right here?!" I hopped up off the couch and spun into the kitchen and stood in the door way, he saw me and shrank. I'm a big guy. 6'3", 300lbs. So he starts inching towards the stairs just saying, "You'll go to jail! You'll go to jail!". So I told him, "For what? No cop is going to arrest me after we all just saw you smack your wife!" And all the ladies got a big grin on their face. I shouted some more threatening obscenities and told him to go hide in his room, in as unkind of a manner as I could muster. I didn't see much of him after that, and he even stopped yelling with his wife. I wouldn't have even cared if they went back to their shouting matches, but I'm not going to let a fella hit a lady. He was too scared to even be on the same floor as me after that.

    So you see, I can laugh at the topic of a guy punching his wife, and still take it very seriously when a guy even threatens to punch his wife. I didn't have to think about it, I didn't hesitate, for a big fatso, I'm pretty spry, and I was in that kitchen in a jiff.

    I'd like to think I'd do the same in any situation. I can't say for certain I wouldn't turn into a coward if someone has a gun, but I've asserted myself physically in a lot of scenarios. I'm not afraid of people. And although I tell a lot of misogynistic jokes, I get extra perturbed when guys are mean to gals. They have a pretty rough existence from the time that they're little, so picking on them in anything but the most playful of ways is a big no-no in my book.

    I know as far as evidence goes, anecdotes aren't all that strong, but I doubt there is any other kind of evidence about this scenario.

    As far as emulating stories go though, I don't act like a superhero, and I keep up on all of them. I mostly enjoy kung-fu movies when I want to see an action flick, but I don't act like a martial arts super star... Well, one time, a long time ago in high school, I dropped acid and watched The Matrix, and afterwards I was practicing kung-fu moves in my bathroom mirror... But in general, no, I don't emulate the movies I watch. I watched Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, but I'm not a junkie; I watched all the Lethal Weapons, and all of the Rush Hours, but I'm not a cop; I watched A.I. and Ex Machina but I'm not a robot.

    In what ways do you think I must emulate the movies or television I watch or the jokes I tell? I just see it as separating fantasy and reality.
    Let me rephrase for precision. The abstract concepts that thoughts and words point to aren't the actual specific acts that occur.
    What's wrong with the way that its aligned, though? I get to laugh at any joke, and still take real acts very seriously. Sounds like the best way to be, honestly. I can act morally, enforce serious infractions of morals, and never get upset by words.
    The funniest part about it was that you phrased it like a moral relativist. What's immoral for you is moral for me, lol.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
  11. Moral Orel

    Moral Orel Proud Citizen of Moralton Supporter

    United States
    @zippy2006 An addendum to my previous post. I thought of another great analogy.

    When researchers were first studying behavioral psychology and conditioned responses, a group of psychologists plucked a kid out of an orphanage to experiment on. They wanted to create a negative response to something so that they could try to reverse it. So they took this kid, gave him a white, fluffy bunny, let him pet it for a bit, then scared the buh-jeepers out of him with a loud noise (I think it was a pair of cymbals, my memory on that is a little hazy). Sure enough, now this kid was terrified of white, fluffy bunnies because he associated them with the scary loud sound.

    But that wasn't all. He was terrified of anything white and fluffy (like a man with a fake Santa beard on) because all white and fluffy things are related by that, even though it was only the bunny that actually had any real connection to the scary sound. Before they could try to fix him, he got adopted, and he went on to live the rest of his life terrified of bunnies, and Santa Claus. But they got another kid, and the experiment worked exactly the same. Only this time they figured out how to fix him. They brought in another child and then let the original kid pet him while the other child held the bunny.

    See, actual rape and rape jokes are related by the way they make you feel, much in the same way bunnies and Santa are related by the way they made that poor kid feel. But they're very different things, and there's no good reason to feel the same way about both things. What if instead of a bunny it was a white, fluffy, snarling dog that scared him? It would be good for him to have a fear of snarling dogs, but he shouldn't keep the fear of Santa beards just because it's related to that dog via its whiteness and fluffiness.