Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Changing Definitions and Ending Civilization

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Cardinal Keith O'Brien's protests against gay marriage are utterly silly and laughable if not for the fact that human beings use such a stupid argument to cause harm to others.



If same-sex marriage is enacted into law what will happen to the teacher who wants to tell pupils that marriage can only mean – and has only ever meant – the union of a man and a woman? Will that teacher’s right to hold and teach this view be respected or will it be removed? Will both teacher and pupils simply become the next victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics, whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs?


(See: The Telegraph, We cannot afford to indulge this madness.


See, not long ago the American Astronomical Union changed the definition of "planet". Under the new definition, Pluto would not qualify. There were some protests and complaints about it - particularly from people who were sentimental about the idea of Pluto being called a planet. However, I can imagine that Cardinal O'Brien must have been entirely beside himself!



If this new definition of 'planet' were to become accepted by the International Astronomical Union, what will happen to the teacher who wants to tell pupils that 'planet' has always meant - and and has only ever meant – a large ball of rock or gas orbiting a sun that is naturally round. Will that teacher’s right to hold and teach this view be respected or will it be removed? Will both teacher and pupils simply become the next victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics, whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs?


Gad! The horrors of it all! The very essence of civilization and all of our human rights are bound up in the fact that the meanings of words cannot change! Allow the meaning of a word to change, and the next thing you know you have absolute tyranny! Never before, in all of human history, has a civilization been able to survive the re-definition of a term!


Well, we will ignore the fact that 'malaria' used to mean 'bad air' - and was used to refer to a disease that people simply assume was caused by . . . literally . . . bad air. Ancient caretakers of the sick would wear these long flowing robes with hoods that had long pointed snouts soaked in perfume to sweeten the air that the wearer breathed. It was assumed to keep those who wore them from breathing in this bad air and getting sick. However, one of those midevil doctors complained that the only thing these robes were good for was to keep the mosquitos off.


Then there was the time that chemists changed the definition of "atom". In its original meaning, "atom" meant "without parts". It was thought that matter was made up of a smallest particle that, itself, had no parts. After all, you couldn't split matter indefinitely into smaller and smaller parts. It had to have an end somewhere. The name they used for this smallest and unbreakable particle of matter was "atom".


Then some people came up with this absurd theory that the particles they had been calling atoms since the days of the ancient Greeks actually had parts. The new theory said that atoms had a nucleus made up of protons and (usually) neutrols, and was (usually) circled by one or more protons. Atoms could be split!


Now, as we well know, as soon as the definition of atom changed, this brought in a new era of tyranny and oppression. Freedoms were thrown out the world over as those who once used the term 'atom' to mean 'without parts' were forced to their knees to yield their very lives and freedom to those who said that hanceforth, atoms had parts.


That era of great tyranny is now known as . . .


. . . as . . .


Sorry, I can't think of it right now. I am sure it must have happened, just as Cardinal O'Brien says.


The ability of these primative superstitious beliefs to clog rational thought on matters where people do harm to others is amazing.


I would hold that a decent, moral person gives others the benefit of the doubt. I would hold that others be given the freedom to decide how to live their own lives as they see fit - that a presumption always be given in terms of liberty - and that liberty is only to be restricted when the evidence is such strength that it compels us to remove it.


The primative superstition of the Catholic Church has brought them to come up with the most absurd and irrational defense of denying others the life those others will choose for themselves. O'Brien writes that we are about to bring down civilization itself, merely because a word changes definition and people are given the liberty to harmlessly pursue a relationship they judge to be suitable to their nature.


It does not matter that the Catholic Church declares that gay marriage is not suitable to human nature. To the Catholic Church, It is not your life - and thus not your decision to make for others. Leave these people alone.


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