Monday, December 26, 2011

Should White people be permitted to use the N-word?

First of all, let me begin by stating how much I hate the phrase “the N-Word.” It makes me feel like I’m infantilizing everyone I talk to. We are adults; we can use adult language when appropriate. But I also know that lots of people will not be very happy if their blog feeds suddenly flash the word “nigger” on their screen. Kids, bosses, and many others may be looking over readers’ shoulders. The word is poison and people should be prepared for the controversy they are about to encounter.

But look at what I did. I used the actual word in the first paragraph. Am I allowed to do that? My short answer is “sometimes,” although as we shall see, the brilliant and very funny blogger at Yo, Is this Racist? is going to disagree with me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is infidelity just another product to sell?

It is no secret that people cheat in their relationships (although it may be a secret to their partners). Given that infidelity is so frequent, it is worth asking whether it is moral to sell cheating and whether it is acceptable to celebrate those who have affairs. Famously, the website advertises their find-someone-to-cheat-with service using the tagline “Life is short. Have an affair.” Now they are using Newt Gingrich as their poster boy. I have to admit, I love their billboard (pictured above).

Monday, December 19, 2011

Is hypocrisy a vice?

 Amy Koch, the Minnesota State Senate Majority Leader resigned a couple of days ago, after she was confronted about having an affair with one of her staff members. This is nothing new; it feels like every month there’s a new sex scandal. I myself don’t really care what people do on their off hours and I’m unconvinced that fidelity has much to do with how good of a leader a person is. What bothers me is those who engage in behaviors that they preach or legislate against. You know what I’m talking about: the anti-gay rights politician who ends up getting caught while a male escort “lifts his luggage,” or a family values governor who claims to be hiking the Appalachian Trail while actually flying across the world for extramarital sex. Amy Koch was one of these. As the blog Towleroad sums it up:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Is consistency a virtue?

Scott Simon just broadcast a fabulous obituary for Christopher Hitchens, focusing on the late author’s willingness to reconsider what he believed. Unlike today’s politicians who refuse to ever admit that they change their minds, Hitchens took great pride in holding differing opinions and different times in his life. As Simon explains “…I wonder if always making consistency into a virtue is wise for anyone. Why strive to enjoy a rich life, filled with the deep, transforming experiences of family, travel, learning, love, daring, triumph and loss if you're determined just to cling to the same ideas that you've always had?” I certainly couldn’t have said it better.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What is the difference between teaching religion and teaching diversity?

Today, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher asked me a question that I knew would come eventually: do I want to visit her classroom and show students how to play Dreidel? Dreidel is the “official” game of Chanukah and Jewish parents all over the country are asked to give demonstrations to the younger grades in an effort to “even things out.” Teachers give Christmas assignments but parents have to present the alternatives; I declined the invitation. Adina is not just the only Jewish kid in her class, I’m pretty sure she’s the only one at her school. But I believe that religion shouldn’t be taught in schools and this includes my own religion, not just other people’s. I can’t make an exception just because I agree with myself.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How should we argue about the legitimacy of marriage?

In honor of tomorrow’s WHY? episode, people have been sending me links about the nature of marriage. Two stick out from the pack. The first sent to me by a reader named Jay, is a tongue-in-cheek video arguing a version of what our guest will claim, that “traditional” marriage is not actually between one man and one woman. The second, posted by a bunch of people on Facebook, is a heartfelt defense of the rights of lesbians to marry based on their child’s experience of what it means to be a good person. It is noteworthy that no one sent me anything defending traditional marriage, but I’m not sure if this indicates anything about PQED’s audience, me, or if it doesn’t mean anything at all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Next Episode of WHY? "Philosophy of Marriage," with Stephanie Coontz. Sunday, December 11, 5 p.m. central

 For a free, high-resolution poster advertising this episode, click here.

Stephanie Coontz argues that the union between one man and one woman has not been the most valued marriage throughout history. Join WHY? as we discuss the traditions of marriage and family, and the morality behind them.

Is it okay to hate another person?

This post is a follow-up from the last one in which I asked about the morality of video games. In that entry, I focused on a possibly-fake game about Christians killing Jews and atheists after the rapture. First, it turns out that there does appear to be a real game that the story is based on, although the article seems to be an exaggeration. (Thanks to our reader Kay, for the heads up.) Second, I suggested that while the game may be wrong to teach hate, hateful opinions aren’t illegal and therefore the game should be allowed to exist.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Can video games be immoral?

A 2006 article about a “new” video game is once again being circulated on the internet. It’s probably a fake, although doesn’t have anything about it. The alleged game is based on the Left Behind series of books, and involves the player pretending to be in a gang of Christians killing Jews and atheists who refuse to convert. The (probably fraudulent) story has sparked outrage both from people who are offended at the violence against particular groups and by people who feel it misrepresents Christianity. There are also, predictably, people who argue that the Jews and atheists in question deserve it and others who claim that this is entirely consistent with the history of Christian power.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What moral obligations do we have toward our date?

Business Insider reports a story of a 23-year old woman who used to pay for her meals. She and her roommates set up spreadsheets and created ground rules for how to get the most meals out of their dates. After a while, she was saving $1200 per month by having someone else pay for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She did it because she wanted to live more lavishly than she could afford.