Author Topic: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?  (Read 210 times)

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Offline flapdoodle64

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Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« on: June 30, 2014, 06:30:02 PM »
I've recently seen some discussions on other sites where there are certain topics, in addition to religion, where broaching a certain subject or posing a certain question seems to be percieved as a personal attack.  That of course, is one of the genius ideas of religion...infect the mind so deeply, that if another person questions or criticizes the belief, it is felt as if a cruel and uncouth personal attack has been made. Permanent acute defensiveness, to prevent faith from waivering. 

But there are other topics where the reaction appears to be about the same.  This is a reaction even stronger than the reaction when someone broaches a political topic...because even the most die-hard partisans have acclimated somewhat to the fact that their hero or party will inevitably be criticized by some people. 

Here are some topics that seem to be sacred cows, at least in the USA...meaning that an attempt to rationally discuss the topic will inevitably illicit a number of very disproportionate, angry and irrational verbiage, of such a nature and persistence that rational persons will tend to withdraw from the topic:

The Ubiquity of Guns in America

The Wisdom of Motor Sports (dirt bikes, 4-wheelers, SUV's, NASCAR, jet-skis, etc.)

The Usage of Personal Fireworks on July 4

Limiting Childrens' Usage of Tanning Beds

Abortion

Circumcision

Capitalism Vs. Socialism

Why do these topics (and others no doubt) set people off like you are talking about religion? Is it that these topics are somehow related to the boogieman of religion (circumcision, for some people, is...and so is abortion) and that is why they override rationality? Or are these topics that are contained within a volatile area of the brain?  Does it have to do with topics related to the individual's concept of identity (seems to be the case with motorsports and Americans)?

Are some of these concepts actually equal to religion within the value system of some populations? Are there people who actually revere, say, guns and motor vehicles more than the totems of religion? And if we understood why those objects rate so highly, would we then understand religion better?

Just thinking is all.

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2014, 06:50:59 PM »
I think you'll find the root of all these things buried deep within tradition.

Family tradition
Religious tradition
National tradition
Social tradition

All different to varying degrees, from family to family, town to town and region to region but no less potent to the developing mind as one grows up steeped in these traditions of the culture they are raised in. I wasn't raised by hunters...no one in my family hunts or fishes or goes camping. It's not a tradition in my family so I don't have any knee jerk reactions to issues surrounding these activities.

However, we always had fireworks on the fourth. As a parent, I have passed that tradition down to my children. It is one of our favorite holidays. However, there is no sense of patriotism or nationalism attached to this holiday for us. We just like the fireworks and food.

I am surprised you didn't include sports what with the World Cup taking place as we speak and how fanatical some people get when you start talking irreverently about their favorite team.
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2014, 06:56:25 PM »
I don't know the answer but in a free society where anybody can state an opinion or hold to a position,how are they wrong? in cases like guns for example if you like or collect them but bring no harm to anybody,where is the problem? Some things are for safety,like kids in tanning beds can bring harm to them....the others I am to stupid to touch on
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2014, 07:39:09 PM »
If you take out religious reasons for thinking things, you are left with emotional attachments, based on patriotism or upbringing as Mr B said. Corporations, governments or other groups use those attachments to gain loyalty or persuade people to do something (spend money, time) they might not otherwise do.

That is why the best persuaders don't tell people to do something directly (Stop women from having abortions! Give more money to medical corporations! Drink overpriced sugar water! Buy a gun! Buy these uncomfortable shoes!) but appeal to emotion (Save cute babies from death! Keep the government regulators away from my health care! Be popular and happy! Protect your family from bad guys! Don't be ugly and alone!).

If not for manipulating emotional attachment all we would have to do is conduct a study of the best ways to accomplish a desired goal (reduce abortion, pay for medical services, protect our families, be less lonely, raise literacy levels, whatever) and everyone would just do it.

In some countries, like Denmark and Japan, they are better at making rational social policies based on research and common sense, instead of emotional appeals. The US is unfortunately not one of those. We are a bit more like Iran, doing what we wished actually worked instead of doing what actually works.
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Offline flapdoodle64

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2014, 02:25:07 PM »
I am surprised you didn't include sports what with the World Cup taking place as we speak and how fanatical some people get when you start talking irreverently about their favorite team.

My list was not meant to be complete...I am sure there are other topics that strike the same nerve.

Regarding sports:

My native state is Pennsylvania (currently live on the Left Coast), where there is an aura of religious intensity regarding Penn State Football.  A few years ago, when it was revealed that Coach Joe Paterno had, in effect, aided and abetted a pedophile, I noticed the classic extreme defensiveness...virtually the same thing Catholics exhibited in the 1980's and  1990's (some even now still) when it was revealed that many priests were  pedophiles and that the Church had aided and abetted them.

I saw facebook posts and related items with Penn State Football Fans blaming the victims of Gary Sandusky, blaming the 'liberal media', accusing the police of fabricating a case, etc.  When Penn State, in response to national outrage and disgust at Paterno and Sandusky removed a Joe Paterno statue from the campus in 2012, Penn State Football Fans represented the action in a way where Joe Paterno and/or Penn State Football was the victim...rather than a bunch of children. 

It was a classic case of morals becoming inverted, logic abandoned. Just like religion. 

Offline flapdoodle64

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2014, 02:30:03 PM »
I don't know the answer but in a free society where anybody can state an opinion or hold to a position,how are they wrong?

(I'm not saying one side is necessarily right or wrong in my examples, although I have my position in some of them...rather, I am saying that they are subjects which cause such strong emotional reactions in certain people, that reasonable debate usually becomes impossible...)

Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2014, 08:19:11 AM »
I found this true a couple of days ago when I got into a facebook debate with a vegan cousin on mine (not the same one who was here visiting a couple of weeks ago...she is, at least, a very "live and let live" vegan who stands by her on personal convictions, but also has no issues with someone else choosing whatever sort of diet they find works best for them). This other cousin is more of a "militant vegan" (her own description) and some of the friends supporting her side seemed even more extreme. completely demonizing anyone who chooses to continue to consume even the most "humanely" farmed (they find that whole idea laughable in the extreme) animal product. Here's one typical response:
Quote
Wow, you seem to have a few trolls on your page! Well, at least I hope they are trolls, otherwise they are spectacularly misinformed as well as brainwashed and lacking in compassion. Meat eaters are so predictable, always come up with the same misinformed, boring, pathetic and dismaying clich├ęs they have heard somewhere else. Can't you at least be original? Can't you at least stop regurgitating what the meat industry and TV are telling you? Can't you read the scientific studies, read the environmental papers, watch the documentaries that are "too hard" to watch, be disturbed by it, be upset by it, be angry by it, have the courage to change. Or else, have the courage not to change, but the spine to say " I don't give a toss about animals, my health, the planet or anything else". That would be more courageous instead of coming up with inane arguments.
And NO, it is not a question of choice! "Live and let live" and all this spineless bullshit. It is not your choice to cause torture and suffering

And this one:

Quote
Yep!! Heard all the arguments before, many times. There can never be any justification for eating animals. I sometimes wonder if some people would eat babies if someone told them they tasted nice.

Yep...got a kick out of that...not only am I a baby-eating atheist, but now also apparently a baby-eating carnivore.

The debate petered out after a couple of days, but by that time it had even gotten to the point of the vegan camp trying to claim that vegan cat foods could be a perfectly healthy choice for Fluffy.

All in all, a lot of very similar rhetoric to what we see here. If anyone is interested in reading the debate, pm me. I'm happy to have some of you as facebook friends. Ironically, the only person from this forum who IS already a fbf is Magic Miles.

Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2014, 12:18:33 PM »
I try not to debate with my actual friends on FB but I have gotten into it on threads with commenters.  Some of them are bullheaded beyond reason.  I'll be fbf with anyone who isn't a spammer.  I also do Twitter.
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Offline jetson

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2014, 12:35:30 PM »
Seems logical to consider:

tradition
culture
identity
emotion

I would also like to add:

What if some of this behavior is rooted in our evolutionary past? Suppose we act in these ways because "technology" is outpacing our evolutionary past in terms of how we are biologically wired to survive? By technology, I refer to things that gave humans an edge over all other species outside of our physical abilities.

I know, that's a large swath of stuff to consider, but I see no reason to think it isn't at least a part of what we see in this space.


Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2014, 01:21:55 PM »
I try not to debate with my actual friends on FB but I have gotten into it on threads with commenters.  Some of them are bullheaded beyond reason.  I'll be fbf with anyone who isn't a spammer.  I also do Twitter.
I very rarely will get into a debate on FB, but in this particular case she posted something which really seemed to invite debate, and I simply put in two cents worth, partly in the spirit of a sincere question, then it all sort of snowballed. I did make a couple of new friends on the omnivorous side of the debate, though :)

This particular cousin is one who is virtually unknown to me, though, as the last time we actually saw each other was some 45 years ago, and even though we ended up as FB friends some years ago, we have really never talked or caught up. We are just very, very different people, and have never had much of anything in common, so it was practically like debating a stranger.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2014, 03:16:41 PM »
Seems logical to consider:

tradition
culture
identity
emotion

I would also like to add:

What if some of this behavior is rooted in our evolutionary past? Suppose we act in these ways because "technology" is outpacing our evolutionary past in terms of how we are biologically wired to survive? By technology, I refer to things that gave humans an edge over all other species outside of our physical abilities.

I know, that's a large swath of stuff to consider, but I see no reason to think it isn't at least a part of what we see in this space.

There was a time I would have discounted or minimized evolution as a factor.  But I recently read a book titled "Predisposed" which advances the theory our core political outlook is genetic.  The authors make a compelling case and, for me anyway, it explains why some people just don't care to expand their beliefs.  An interesting read and one I highly recommend.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline flapdoodle64

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2014, 10:39:46 AM »
It occurs that at least two of the sacred cows have something in common.

In America, in many towns and cities, the emphasis on sports, especially football, is essentially a tribal thing. The identity of the football team, it's rivalries and triumphs, are bound with the sense of collective identity. This seems especially true of small towns and places like Pennsylvania, where the economy and the prospect of the future has been pretty much destroyed. So to criticize Joe Paterno for aiding and abetting a child molester is, in the minds of many people, subconsciously experienced as an attack on Pennsylvania itself.

And of course Jahweh is the Elvis of all tribal gods, exterminating all previous tribal gods and issuing orders to pre-empt other tribal gods. The Israelites, then the Romans, then the Europeans and now the Americans...all possessed by the myth of making war on behalf of Yahweh, each tribe tied together by its never-ending war agains the infidels, like a small-town football team, in never-ending rivalry with the neighbor town. 

Offline DVZ3

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2014, 11:23:47 AM »

Patriotism toward imaginary boundaries drawn on all of the earths dirt, sand, rocks etc... All because of other sacred cows mentioned like culture, traditions, beliefs etc again... It's such a sacred cow that Americans actually accept and glorify the use of force and our troops when they are sent off to war. Killing we all know is evil not only by common sense morals without religion but of course is one of gods commandments. There wasn't a footnote or an amendment that proclaimed it was ok to protect these imaginary boundaries....

But it's totally acceptable and supported with patriotism, god bless our troops mentality. To question this ironic hypocrisy is out of the question.
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Offline flapdoodle64

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2014, 01:13:01 PM »
This piece from Chris Hedges echos your sentiments DV:

https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/07/08-1

This quote in particular I like:

Quote
The collective euphoria experienced in stadiums, especially among those struggling to survive in the corporate state, gives to many anxious Americans what they crave. They flock to the temples of sport while most places of traditional religious worship in the United States are largely deserted on the Sabbath. Those packed into the stadiums feel as if they and everyone around them speak the same language. They believe those in the crowd are one entity. And they all hate the same enemy. To walk through Fenway Park in a New York Yankees shirt is to court verbal abuse. To be identified as a Yankees fan after a game in one of the bars outside the park is unwise. The longing to belong, especially in a society where many have lost their sense of place and identity, is skillfully catered to by both the professional sports machine and the military propaganda machine.

Offline DVZ3

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Re: Other Sacred Cows Besides Religion?
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2014, 07:00:41 PM »

^^^ Thanks for that link as it hits home, quite literally.  I've lived in Boston (right outside Cambridge) for almost 3 years now (originally born and raised in Michigan about an hour just north of Detroit) and now right around the corner from where they caught the younger brother of the Boston Marathon bomber.  Our area was one of the towns on "lockdown") told not to leave your house or office) while the police, swat, and military did their jobs to catch him (a Blackhawk helicopter landed in our nearby shopping center with Best Buys logo in news shot real.

It wasn't long after that he was captured (shot him in winterized boat by about a dozen officers). I can understand the emotional battle of wanting revenge etc.... And I also understand why "patriotism" can quickly turn into something very evil.

Rooting for you sports team to win and/or win a championship and mock the others is the tiny little bit of evil everyone I believe.  War over imaginary cultural boundaries just shows you how far that emotion goes...  :-\
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