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  1. #101

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    Quote Originally Posted by nlloyd View Post
    You might argue that these women have still made a choice, between their spirituality and what others see as their "autonomy," but until they have actually been able to explore the alternative - equal partnership with a spouse - that choice is not the same kind of choice as women who have.
    What if they don't want to explore the alternative? They ARE able to explore the alternative, and choose not to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nlloyd View Post
    However to posit the notions that it is not helpful to evaluate belief systems that don't pose a threat to society, that all of us live under the illusion that we make choices when we are actually equally restrained by other kinds of belief systems, or that all choices are similar, is IMO helpful neither to understanding religionists - who don't see it this way - nor to the broader society.
    I actually do think that it is helpful to the broader society to remind ourselves that our belief systems aren't this pure thing that grew up from free will and choice and that we have our prejudices and our blind spots too.

    I also think that understanding where they are coming from can be helpful. To us. Not to them because their agenda isn't to get along or to come to a common understanding but to assimilate as many as possible.

    I think for me it comes down to two things. When the cameras get turned off, are the Duggar children being treated in a way that CPS needs to be called in (because they aren't when the cameras are on I assume or people would have said so). And, is their belief system actually dangerous.

    For the first one, I don't know and I don't know how we'd know. I'd like to think that, if there was true abuse going on such as children being beaten, being molested, being starved, that someone around those kids who isn't in the movement would do something about it. I'd also think that there'd be signs and rumors and there doesn't seem to be.

    For the second, I think it's pretty clear the Quiverfall movement is one of those belief systems that isn't just foreign to me or that I don't agree with but that falls into the category of beliefs that society should consider dangerous. But they aren't the only ones and I suspect a few of you belong to some churches I'd take some issue with as well. For one thing, any church that teaches people that who they are is a sin is dangerous IMO. I also think that some of the teachings of the Quiverfall movement are perilously close to slavery and that that is dangerous and wrong as well.
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  3. #103

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    I actually do think that it is helpful to the broader society to remind ourselves that our belief systems aren't this pure thing that grew up from free will and choice and that we have our prejudices and our blind spots too.

    I also think that understanding where they are coming from can be helpful. To us. Not to them because their agenda isn't to get along or to come to a common understanding but to assimilate as many as possible.

    I think for me it comes down to two things. When the cameras get turned off, are the Duggar children being treated in a way that CPS needs to be called in (because they aren't when the cameras are on I assume or people would have said so). And, is their belief system actually dangerous.
    I agree with you that it is important to debunk the myth of unimpeded free will and choice in any belief system, including secular and liberal religious ones; I just don't think all belief systems are equal in this regard or that it is helpful to represent them in this way. I also agree on the importantce of understanding religious traditions within their own terms of reference. With regard to this latter, I would actually argue that "freedom of choice" isn't the primary consideration for conservative religionists much of the time. Even by framing the argument in this way, we have imposed our own values on these communities. While the notion of freedom of will occurs in some of their doctrines, a far more appropriate category of analysis for these religionists is obedience to God. It is knowing God's will/Word and being obedient to that that influences day-to-day life, not what choices are available and whether they have explored them fully. The fact that God has mandated certain practices/beliefs renders "choice" less important.

    So, if we really want to understand these communities on their own terms, we need to examine our categories of analysis. I think this is what is happening in this discussion, to some extent, when people argue that all belief systems place limits on people's freedom in some way. However, I think that to take this argument to its logical conclusion, one would have to argue that "choice" is not necessarily an important component of an individual's happiness or of the wellbeing of societies. That argument can and has been made, but I think it presents quite a slippery slope when individuals with these freedoms argue that those without them may be better off that way. They may PERCEIVE themselves to be better off, but they may not be. I am arguing for the importance of "outsiders" having the right to make this distinction and making it (just as conservative religionists make it of "outsiders"), rather than simply saying, "who are we to impose our values on these communities/belief systems if they seem to be working for their members/adherents?" Of course, taking this position does not entail coercing religionists to change; the latter is a futile and misguided venture. However, in order to allow for the possibility of change within belief systems, and to safeguard the gains societies have made in opposing religiously-based discrimination, one has to make the critique.

    While I understand the argument that these critiques are only really necessary when the communities are engaging in dangerous practices, I don't think this is the best ground upon which to make the argument for the importance of critique (as opposed to a relativist acceptance). For me, it is important to start the work of understanding and evaluating these religious traditions long before this. Not because I think I can change them, nor because I want to impose my own belief systems on them (a futile venture, as I say), but 1) to ensure that there is a critique of the limits they place on individuals' freedoms out there as part of the broader social debate and 2) as part of a process of enabling those who want to leave to see and understand why that may be the case. How individual religionists negotiate the latter change is obviously up to them; it is not, nor should it be, a case of simply adopting a "secular" set of values or of having these values imposed on them.
    Last edited by nlloyd; 03-15-2013 at 05:41 PM.

  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by nlloyd View Post
    With regard to this latter, I would actually argue that "freedom of choice" isn't the primary consideration for conservative religionists much of the time. Even by framing the argument in this way, we have imposed our own values on these communities. While the notion of freedom of will occurs in some of their doctrines, a far more appropriate category of analysis for these religionists is obedience to God. It is knowing God's will/Word and being obedient to that that influences day-to-day life, not what choices are available and whether they have explored them fully. The fact that God has mandated certain practices/beliefs renders "choice" less important.
    I already argued that upthread. It's why I disagreed with Prancer that the Duggar girls would say the same thing about their parents as Zemgirl (or some other poster) said about theirs and how they were raised.
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  5. #105

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    Yes, you did. I wanted to take that argument one step further by suggesting that not only are there different types (orders) of choices offered to the Duggar girls and Zemgirl, but that the Duggar parents probably don't see "choice" as a priority; their belief system places more emphasis on obedience to God. The relativist argument should be conducted on those grounds, rather than on the issue of choice. In other words, if you want to argue that there is no difference between these communities and more secular or theologically liberal ones, it is necessary not simply to say that the young women in both sets of communities are given choices, but to argue that "obedience to God" is as effective a safeguard to individual happiness and the wellbeing of societies as freedom of choice. Those comments were addressed to the general discussion; my apologies if they appeared to be addressed to you.

  6. #106
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    I don't think Prancer was making a relativist argument. Could be me, but I see Prancer as critiquing the lack of internal consistency in various arguments being made, and that being missed over and over by people responding to her.

  7. #107

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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    I don't think Prancer was making a relativist argument. Could be me, but I see Prancer as critiquing the lack of internal consistency in various arguments being made, and that being missed over and over by people responding to her.
    Well, this is the part of the discussion to which I'm referring:

    Quote Originally Posted by Zemgirl View Post
    They did not tell me to do anything other than to make sure I leave myself a variety of options (=do well enough in school). Other than that, I made my own choices and if I ever wanted their advice, I asked for it. Certainly they never imposed their beliefs on me.
    I see this response as relativist:

    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    I'll bet the Duggar girls would say the same of their parents. Because your parents impose their beliefs on your every single day of your life with them--whether you realize it or not. There is no way to avoid it. I impose my beliefs on my children by living in the way that I think I should and raising them as I believe they should be raised. That's what parents do. You are your beliefs. It can't be any other way. If I believe that my children should make their own choices about their adult lives, then I am going to raise them that way--and impose upon them the responsiblity of making choices rather than choosing for them.
    Here it seems to me that the argument is being made that the two belief systems are similarly valid in that both entail the imposition of parents' beliefs on their children. Differences in the kinds of beliefs being imposed on the children is neglected for an emphasis on the fact of their imposition.
    Last edited by nlloyd; 03-16-2013 at 12:22 AM.

  8. #108
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    I think that's a misread. There's no claim to equal validity, but rather the necessary mechanisms by which all parenting occurs. That's not a relativist argument, it's a structural one.

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    Josh and Anna will be moving to D.C because Josh has a new job! Working for the Family Research Center, an organization that is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those Duggars are such kind folks.

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    First of all, it's the Family Research Council, not Center. Second of all, Duggar merely met with them -- he hasn't been hired yet. Third, if you want to talk about "hate," you might recall that Floyd Lee Corkins II saw Family Research Council on that SPLC list, went there, and shot security guard Leo Johnson -- a good man whom I happen to know personally.

    Those Southern Poverty Law Center people are such kind folks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyliefan View Post
    First of all, it's the Family Research Council, not Center. Second of all, Duggar merely met with them -- he hasn't been hired yet. Third, if you want to talk about "hate," you might recall that Floyd Lee Corkins II saw Family Research Council on that SPLC list, went there, and shot security guard Leo Johnson -- a good man whom I happen to know personally.

    Those Southern Poverty Law Center people are such kind folks.
    How is the SPLC responsible for that man's actions? They published a list of groups that fit under their definition of "hate groups." Did they tell Floyd Lee Corkins II to go over there and shoot someone?

    BTW, the FBI uses that listing and other resources that SPLC provides for research on hate crimes throughout the country.

  12. #112
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    First of all, it's the Family Research Council, not Center. Second of all, Duggar merely met with them -- he hasn't been hired yet. Third, if you want to talk about "hate," you might recall that Floyd Lee Corkins II saw Family Research Council on that SPLC list, went there, and shot security guard Leo Johnson -- a good man whom I happen to know personally.

    Those Southern Poverty Law Center people are such kind folks.
    Yes I did hear about that, and I am very sorry for your loss, but that can't be blamed on the SPLC. The FBI publishes a list of most wanted criminals, if someone killed one of them because they saw their name on the list, would that be their fault? Of course not.

  13. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    I think that's a misread. There's no claim to equal validity, but rather the necessary mechanisms by which all parenting occurs. That's not a relativist argument, it's a structural one.
    I'm not sure that it is, actually. It's important to situate that part of the dialogue within the context of the broader discussion, which was not simply about parenting. The discussion commenced with Milanessa arguing for a "live and let live" approach to the Duggars and Japanfan asking her whether there were "any situations of racism, misogyny, exploitation, and injustice that she would give as an exception to the rule." Milanessa answered that there were, but that this wasn't one of them. Ziggy suggested it was, because the Duggars were exploiting their daughters and that their patriarchy and misogyny limited the daughters' potential. Prancer then argued that most people don't reach their potential and that all people are the products of the belief systems of others (and of parents in particular).

    It was within this context that Prancer suggested that the Duggar girls would say their parents had given them choices much like Zemgirl's parents had. She also argued that all parents hold particular beliefs and impose these beliefs on their children regardless of their belief system. The Duggar parents have a right to formulate their values and pass them on to their children, much like any other community, and therefore we, who do the same, have no right to criticise them. (In this discussion, the "live and let live" approach included desisting from criticism.) Similarly, because both sets of parents gave their children "choices," it was not acceptable to criticise the Duggars.

    This is, for me, a relativist approach. It depends on the notion that because there is no absolute truth, the perceptions of individuals/communities - in relation to their communities - are all of equal worth. The Duggar parents have one belief system that they impart to their daughters, the Zemgirls have another; the Duggar parents perceive "choice" in one way and Zemgirls' parents perceive it in another way. Ultimately, though, each belief system is equally valid because it is valid to the individual community. The validity of the belief system to the community exempts it from criticism in a relativist approach. I am arguing that while, by definition, these belief systems seem valid to the communities, they are not and should not be exempt from thoroughgoing critique.
    Last edited by nlloyd; 03-16-2013 at 05:47 AM.

  14. #114
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    Again, I think you missed the crux of the argument, and are basically creating a fictive opposing view in this discussion in order to pursue a personal agenda (arguing against relativism).
    Last edited by agalisgv; 03-16-2013 at 07:28 AM.

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    You two are reminding me of grad school and why I said let me study the dead people and not do cultural.
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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    Again, I think you missed the crux of the argument, and are basically creating a fictive opposing view in this discussion in order to pursue a personal agenda (arguing against relativism).
    And yet you are offering nothing to the discussion yourself.
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  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by nlloyd View Post
    This is, for me, a relativist approach. It depends on the notion that because there is no absolute truth, the perceptions of individuals/communities - in relation to their communities - are all of equal worth. The Duggar parents have one belief system that they impart to their daughters, the Zemgirls have another; the Duggar parents perceive "choice" in one way and Zemgirls' parents perceive it in another way. Ultimately, though, each belief system is equally valid because it is valid to the individual community..
    Um, I do not believe in cultural relativism, or at least not to the idea that all things are equal in all ways. I think a lot of people here are aware of this--snoopy even alluded to this somewhere back in the thread. I have certainly argued against it enough in the past.

    That is part of my issue with criticism of the Duggars, actually; that cultural relativism is applied rather freely by posters in other contexts, but not in this one.

    The idea that people can't criticize the Duggars is rather . Of course people can criticize the Duggars. People can criticize anyone and anything they want. But the criticisms made should, at least in my mind, have some sort of logical consistency to them.

    In terms of the Duggar girls and their choices, what I responded to was this:

    They did not tell me to do anything other than to make sure I leave myself a variety of options (=do well enough in school). Other than that, I made my own choices and if I ever wanted their advice, I asked for it. Certainly they never imposed their beliefs on me.

    And I stand by my assertion that the Duggar girls would say the same--that their parents did not impose their beliefs on them, but that they have chosen to live this life.

    They may change their minds about that; they may even lie about it now. But an important part of belief systems involving subjecting yourself to God's will is that you must CHOOSE to subject yourself to God's will or else it is pointless. God knows what is in your heart. If you are not sincere, then your subjection is worthless.

    So I would be surprised if the Duggar girls did not say and believe that they have made the choice. Most people here would say they have not because they can't. I do think there is truth to that, but not because the girls are unaware that other choices exist. I find that argument completely .
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  18. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    But an important part of belief systems involving subjecting yourself to God's will is that you must CHOOSE to subject yourself to God's will or else it is pointless. God knows what is in your heart. If you are not sincere, then your subjection is worthless.
    Well okay, I didn't realize that is what you were saying. I agree with you then. I am sure the Duggar girls who believe in God and their way of life do believe they have chosen that just as we all believe that we have chosen our own beliefs.

    I was making a different point. What I think some people (just some, not everyone in the thread) don't realize is that not everyone approaches life the same way and thinks of choice from the same perspective.

    And definitely there have been studies that show that people don't actually really want so many choices. I run into this my job when I try to tell my business clients that UI designs that are completely flexible and let users do things in any order with tons of choices are not necessarily easier to use. They don't believe me because "everyone wants choices" even though there is tons of evidence that they don't. This is a trivial example (web UI) but it expands out to every aspect of our live IME.

    I think the issue here about choice runs into a tricky balance between giving people the benefit of the doubt that they have freely made their own choices -- we'd all be quite indignant if some stranger came up to us and told us that we didn't really freely come to our belief system but had been brainwashed into it (as I think you are getting at) -- and knowledging that some people can be brainwashed and that some religions and are actually set up to do just that.

    I think people look at Quiverfall and see it as such a system and therefore reject the idea that anyone raised in it could come to those beliefs if they had free choice. But adults join Quiverfall too. Are they all fools who were tricked? Is it a cult with a charismatic leader and everyone in it a pawn of that leader? There are certainly aspects of the group that meet that criteria but, unless there is a lot going on that we don't know about, it doesn't meet it enough that I'm willing to stage an intervention and rip those kids out of there "for their own good."

    At least not at this point with what I know right now.
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  19. #119

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    Prancer, let's see, then, whether we can agree on the crux of this debate. For me it was Ziggy asserting that a "live and let live" approach to the Duggars was not adequate because the Duggar parents' patriarchy and misogyny limited their daughter's potential. He and others suggested that it was necessary to speak up against religious misogyny. You argued in response (and I found this a little ) that few people reach their potential (as if the prevalence of a negative phenomenon renders its remediation unnecessary). You then argued that the girls had choice, including the choice to leave their families, just as Zemgirl's parents gave her choices about her future.

    I stand by my argument that not all choices are equal. The Duggar girls' choice is far more limited 1) because the stakes are so high (to "leave" or to deviate from their parents' teachings is to risk the loss of their family, faith, and faith community) and 2) because in making their "choices" they are not able to explore the various alternatives - as someone like Zemgirl might do - the stakes entailed in such experimentation are too high.

    Your argument seems relativist to me because you see the choices as similar - each community offers choices - and you do not evaluate the choices themselves.

    What I really take issue with, however, is women who leave conservative religious communities, gain a new set of freedoms, and then argue 1) that the leaving was "easy" and any/all could do so, 2) that because it was easy, conservative religious women have a set of choices that is similar to those of other women, and 3) that it is thus not necessary to speak out about the way women are treated in these communities. For me this trivialises the misogyny faced by these women, the efforts of their peers who leave the community to challenge that misogyny (which, in the interests of full disclosure, is where I am situated in this argument), and the efforts of feminists more broadly in countering all forms of misogyny, religious and non-religious. I think it also trivialises the importance of their faith to these women. The choice is difficult because it is a choice between their faith as they know it and value it and the pursuit of potential in ways deemed contrary to it. I am thus not talking about the initial choice (for or against God), but of the kinds of choices the girls, like Zemgirl, have in early adulthood. Again, for me, relativism creeps into your argument when you assert that those choices are equal and do not undertake an evaluation of them.
    Last edited by nlloyd; 03-16-2013 at 08:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    What I think some people (just some, not everyone in the thread) don't realize is that not everyone approaches life the same way and thinks of choice from the same perspective.
    I agree with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    I think the issue here about choice runs into a tricky balance between giving people the benefit of the doubt that they have freely made their own choices -- we'd all be quite indignant if some stranger came up to us and told us that we didn't really freely come to our belief system but had been brainwashed into it (as I think you are getting at) -- and knowledging that some people can be brainwashed and that some religions and are actually set up to do just that.

    I think people look at Quiverfall and see it as such a system and therefore reject the idea that anyone raised in it could come to those beliefs if they had free choice. But adults join Quiverfall too. Are they all fools who were tricked? Is it a cult with a charismatic leader and everyone in it a pawn of that leader? There are certainly aspects of the group that meet that criteria but, unless there is a lot going on that we don't know about, it doesn't meet it enough that I'm willing to stage an intervention and rip those kids out of there "for their own good."
    That's pretty much it, although I would add that there is also a rather tricky balance between arguing against the patriarchy and arguing that we know what is best.

    Quote Originally Posted by nlloyd View Post
    Prancer, let's see, then, whether we can agree on the crux of this debate. For me it was Ziggy asserting that a "live and let live" approach to the Duggars was not adequate because the Duggar parents' patriarchy and misogyny limited their daughter's potential. He and others suggested that it was necessary to speak up against religious misogyny. You argued in response (and I found this a little ) that few people reach their potential (as if the prevalence of a negative phenomenon renders its remediation unnecessary). You then argued that the girls had choice, including the choice to leave their families, just as Zemgirl's parents gave her choices about her future.

    I stand by my argument that not all choices are equal.
    I did not argue that all choices were equal. My point was that people overestimate how many choices they actually have and underestimate the choices available to the Duggars.

    Quote Originally Posted by nlloyd View Post
    What I really take issue with, however, is women who leave conservative religious communities, gain a new set of freedoms, and then argue 1) that the leaving was "easy" and any/all could do so
    You may take issue with whatever you like, but I have never said that leaving is easy, nor would I. If you are referring to what I said in SS, did you also read the part where I said that many people who leave engage in extremely self-destructive behavior out of guilt and self-hatred? Does that sound like I think it is easy?

    If so, for the record: Leaving is very hard. It involves a lot of painful questions and agonizing over your own self worth and what you truly believe. It requires you to risk giving up everything you have known for something you don't know. You will have to walk away from your friends; you may have to walk away from your family. You may have a support system when you go, but you very likely will not. And you will probably find out that it's not all that great when you do go, which you suspect before you get out but don't know for sure. I could go on if you need further demonstration of my understanding of the dynamics here and will if you request it, but I think that will do.

    So again, I never said that it was easy. What I argued against was the idea that it is impossible, that it couldn't happen, that the girls cannot walk away. They can. If they want to (which is key) but do not, it is not because they don't have a choice, but because what they would have to give up will cost them more than what they think they might gain. And that IS a choice, even if the range of choice isn't what Ziggy or Zemgirl have.
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