Rebirth of Reason


The Right to Inconsistency
by Joe Trusnik

Voltaire instructed the world that those who believe absurdities would commit atrocities.† In many ways, weíve seen this happen time and again.† From smaller occurrences, such as abortion doctors being shot for performing their jobs with consistent success, to larger events that history will not soon forget, such as the Holocaust.

But, Voltaire, unfortunately, had his clauses in the wrong order, and this order, taken the way he wrote it, can bring about atrocities itself.† What he should have said was:† those who commit atrocities believe absurdities.

An absurdity is an idea that is not just inconsistent with reality ... it is not that it is not true; itís that it cannot be true.† The world is objective, and no evidence can be raised in the defense of an absurdity.† A small list of absurdities could prove the point here, such as the belief in god, taxation, and the military draft.† None of the so-called arguments for these positions actually has any relation to reality, society, or the rights of people, which is where arguments pertaining to reality, society, and rights must logically begin and end.

Now, I will grant that some absurdities will lead to atrocities; indeed, it would be absurd to argue to the contrary.† For example, the belief that the state knows best is an absurdity that leads to a whole slew of atrocities, the degree of the atrocities being dependent on the state and time in question.† What I argue is that belief in absurdities does not, ipso facto, cause one to commit atrocities.

An atrocity only occurs when the rights of another person have been violated in some way; for something to be atrocious, it must be atrocious to somebody.† For example, if during a war, a country were to bomb a thriving mosquito pond (weíll up the ante by claiming itís the entire population of a rare endangered mosquito), itís not a particularly atrocious act, even if the war is being undertaken on absurd premises.† If, however, a civilian center was targeted, without reason to believe that enemy combatants are within that area, and then obliterated, it would be an atrocity even if the war is being waged for just reasons.

The act is what is atrocious, not the reason behind the act.† There are no atrocious thoughts, because a thought, by itself, does not violate anybodyís rights.† Indeed, I can think of many thoughts Iíve had that, if translated into action, would violate the rights of others, and Iím sure others can as well.† For example, I once had an employer who irritated me at her every opportunity; once, when I was getting particularly annoyed, I imagined running her hand through the office paper shredder.† I would never do such a thing to anybody, but the thought ran through my brain, never to be translated into action.† Have I violated her rights?† Of course not.† Actions are the result of a process of thought.† The process of thought is informed by the expectations and understanding of the acting agent; certain actions are taken to bring about certain end results.† But, just because actions are the results of thoughts does not mean that thoughts automatically translate into actions.† Thoughts are, themselves, non-moral.

Having beliefs that are inconsistent with reality, or that may even threaten the rights of others, does not, by that fact alone, make a person a threat to other living beings.† Acts of restriction, and acts of justice, occur because of events that have taken place that have violated the rights of others.† They target actions, not the thoughts behind them.

Therefore, to censure or violate the rights of people who belong to a group with inconsistent premises is itself an unjust act.† Unless the specific individuals targeted have committed atrocities, they are not guilty of a rights violation simply because of the fact that they believe in absurdities.† They are still human; as such, they still have rights.

One objection I see to this is the notion of an imminent threat.† I will list this as a caveat:† pre-empting an imminent threat IS an act of self-defense.† If there is substantial evidence that an atrocity will occur, and cannot be diverted by other means, pre-emptive action may be taken to protect the lives and property of those whose rights will be violated.† The difference between pre-emptive action and after-the-fact defense is merely a difference of timing and of damage done.

But, pre-emptive action is only done in self-defense if a credible threat, not merely a possibility, is present.† Otherwise, the pre-emptive attack is nothing but an attack.† This is what I meant when I wrote that, if we were to follow Voltaireís original clauses, new absurdities could arise.† Though those who violate the rights of others are to be punished by measures determined by objective laws, the rights of a man, as a human being, are not to be threatened or violated for his thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, for any reason.
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