An Inherent Right To Dignity

An early cast member of the Star Trek team referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a blackface clown.This indictment was,among other things,probably meant to wound Thomas’feelings.J.L. has told us that wounding words are damaging and should be refrained from.Justice Thomas is woundable(see Justices/Yale visit this blog)but his self image (whatever that is) seems immune from being affected.Why else would he select the example of slavery to couch his virulent dissent from the “right to marry” supreme court 5 to 4 decision.Certainly his own interracial marriage does not seem analogically relevant to him.
In a world of symbolic interaction one wonders what impact Clarence
Thomas is having on visible minority (especially black)youth.Thurgood Marshall was and is an outstanding symbol by virtue of being an outstanding civil rights attorney and a competent,although not necessarily outstanding jurist.Sonia Sotomayor is both an outstanding lawyer and an outstanding jurist.There appears to be nothing outstanding about Thomas except his turning on his origins and expected group and social class origins.
Thomas’ raging (albeit illogical) dissent makes questionable(once again) his playing the race card in his appointment struggle centering around the charges made by Anita Hill.Perhaps his alleged behavior can be related to his contempt for his origins and his belief that she had no inherent right to dignity.

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6 Comments

  1. Ah, what a good FEELING it is to discourse with bright minds – minds engaged in the process of acquiring life-enhancing clarity!
    Daedal2207 wants to label me as a “positive objectivist”. This may be an obscuring of reality rather than a clarification. “Positive objectivist” as explained by Daedal2207, describes a philosophic process that relies on “ultimate definitional sources, (dictionary, Bible, Constitution)” – and “needs everyone to agree” on these definitions. I understand that the dictionary tells us only what is common usage, not ultimate meaning. The Bible is faith: For the best chance at understanding truths, I advocate the questioning stances of probability rather than the very problematic, written-in-stone inclinations of faith. The Constitution is a contract subject to judgment – serving us well or poorly depending on measured results. I define man’s best effort at “truth” to be a running argument. It is not dependent on what others say. It may not be what the greatest numbers believe it to be. Like an adjustable work in process it is what the best current evidence indicates is most probable. The scientific method is a superb means by which this growth of understanding is enhanced. In this manner we acquire measurable evidence of what ACTUALLY works and what does not. If our feelings bias us to favor that which does not work, we can call those feelings inappropriate. If our feelings bias us to favor that which works, we can call those feelings appropriate. Daedal2207 states that a positive objectivist denies the primacy of emotions in decision making. This does not describe me. There is a wealth of evidence supporting the thesis that emotions are primary. It is for this reason that I focus on the importance of cultivating (adjusting to) appropriate feelings (that measurably work) and the avoidance (eradication) of inappropriate feelings (that measurably do not work). That this is easy or hard is not the issue. For the best results, it is something that has to be done. I think that we can all agree that we want our feelings to be appropriate rather than inappropriate. But, do we? Trouble arises when, like in religious faith, a mind considers its feelings to be solid-as-stone, unassailable; and may take offense, or go on the attack when it is suggested that their cherished emotions may be inappropriate – leading us to a lesser future. Justice Thomas refuses to embrace sentiments (and laws) that support a FEELING BELIEF that race matters. Judged by Daedal2207’s preferred (sacred?) sentiments that enhance the importance of race, this makes Thomas like a heretic, a blasphemer, deemed to be one who is akin to a sinner rather than another specially talented mind with a reasonable alternative – A mind that may have acquired appropriate sentiments worthy of examination, and possible emulation.
    When the thinking mind can make the case that government serves our future best when it tries to guarantee for each and every one of its citizens equal justice and equal rights, it then becomes rational for Justice Thomas to conduct an “assault on affirmative action”. Note that government-directed favoritism (special rights) based on any group affiliation cannot be granted without simultaneously obligating some citizens to defer in some way to others. This IS a denial of equal rights to some individuals. Like math, this is a matter of logic, it is not dictionary semantics. If two plus two is open to subjective interpretation, then anything goes – that is, until actions motivated by inappropriate “feelings” run up against the objective laws of physics/nature.
    Don Spencer

    1. I never used the word objectivist! I do not consider Don one who denies the reality of feelings.A logical positivist ,on the other hand.is one who believes that all of reality including feelings can be formularized in an orderly,logical and indisputable way.
      The defense of Clarence Thomas leads one into error!

      1. Error I did. I don’t know how Daedal2207’s “logical positivism” became “positive objectivism”. Thank you for the immediate correction. In spite of the error of name, it was Daedal2207’s definition for “logical positivist” that I was addressing in my arguments. By any name those arguments retain validity until corrected by a better argument. This most recent definition of “logical positivist” as one who believes “that all of reality, including feelings can be formularized in an orderly, logical and indisputable way” is closer to what I believe except for the “all of reality” and the “indisputable” part. The likely-to-remain unknowns will diminish the degree to which refinements can remain free of legitimate dispute. Otherwise, what is the process of science if it is not exactly our effort to formularize and clarify the “chart” that represents our best guesses about reality? Tell me, Daedal2207, what reliable method other than science will do this for us? As for feelings and sentiments, I think that Daedal2270 and every other reader will acknowledge that some will be appropriate to circumstances and some will be inappropriate to circumstances. Our debate then is that of determining their impact for good or ill. It then behooves us to do all that we can to cultivate feelings and sentiments that are appropriate. In fact, that is the gist of my effort.

  2. There are clues everywhere. Sentiments vary even among the brightest of people. Our feelings sprout from the soil of belief – grown from that which is believed to be true. If our grounding is contaminated by false premises or inappropriate sentiments, our judgments are likely to deviate from the probable realities. Even for the very bright, sentiments can become so valued, so cherished that it becomes possible to allow these feelings to dictate what we and what it is thought others should believe is true.
    Let’s examine what Daedal2207 has presented:
    A Star Trek actor accuses Thomas of being a “blackface clown”. This was intended as an insult. Other than displaying the actor’s indignation, what was learned by time devoted to his tirade? In spite of J.L. telling us that wounding words are damaging, all of us should understand that emotionally foolish rantings do not need to be wounding. Daedal2207 observes that Thomas’s “self-image” seems immune from being affected. This indicates that on this issue Thomas is secure. But Daedal2207 believes that such security is unjustified given what follows:
    According to Daedal2207, Thomas’s interracial marriage does not seem analogically relevant to him. If Thomas’s belief system leads him to understand that race is not important why should his interracial marriage be relevant? Daedal2207 asks what symbolic impact is he having on minority (especially black) youth? If the most important values possessed by youth have nothing to do with race, why would racially linked sentiments be of value? In fact, if encouraged, there is evidence that such sentiments are likely to be harmful. “There appears to be nothing outstanding about Thomas except his turning on his origins and expected group and social class origins.” This is a debatable opinion to which is added a sentiment linked to “origins” that is somehow deemed to be important. What if the best future requires us to understand that race and “social class origins” are not important – indeed, may be harmful – more so or less so depending on how they are viewed?
    “Thomas’ raging (albeit illogical) dissent makes questionable (once again) his playing the race card in his appointment struggle centering around the charges made by Anita Hill.” I have read the dissent and deem it to be logical given the premises on which it is based. When an outsider inserts the premises that he would emotionally prefer, the conclusions of this dissent will likely appear illogical.
    Yes, Clarence Thomas effectively made reference to historic, racially-based lynchings when he described the methods used by his accusers. It is true that he was accused of boorishly offending Anita Hill’s “dignity”. But there seems to be unjustified certitude employed by Daedal2207. There was not then or thereafter any proof that his “talking dirty” actually happened – if it happened, the degree of offense it generated, or that it was a totally slanderous invention intended to deny his value system from affecting the court’s direction – think Bork. The truth is that we do not know. Any premise other than truth distorts (prejudges) conclusions. Also, consider that “dignity” itself is a multi-faceted feeling, a feeling capable of being evoked to varying degree by many, often contradictory, conditions and contexts.
    Also, it is true that those of us who believe that race is unimportant must navigate among the subjectively complicated, irregular, emotionally confused trajectories of those who do. Another revealing question follows: Doesn’t the very act of thinking that race is important describe the fundamental essence of racism?
    Don Spencer

    1. There is enough biographical material on Thomas to identify him as a man who works to close for others the doors that have been opened for him! His stewardship of EEOC,
      his assault on affirmative action,(he got to Yale because of Yale’s generous affirmative action program) etc.etc
      .More important is the logical positivism that undergirds Don’s excellent argumentation.Logical positivism relies on an ultimate definitional source.(Dictionary,Bible,Constitution) THAT IS AGREED ON) and denies the primacy of emotion in decision making.If this is the nature of objective reality then educating people as to the facts will invariably change behavior(If the facts can be agreed on!) in a predictably facilitating way.If emotions tend to rule, and most dynamic therapists and testers believe this to be the case,then reeducation is a difficult task requiring re-experiencing charged events in a different way and usually requiring an emotional connection with a facilitator.Race&Nationality(large group membership) and Family &Clan (small group membership)are the settings wherein things are learned that are to be applied to a larger social context.(the world,now 7 1/2 billion people.) It’s going to be hard to undo the evolutionarily protective shell of these memberships merely because technology and world population are pointing to a need for new mechanisms! It’s Hegel and Locke against Hume and Hobbes(Eastern and middle Eastern philosophers are beyond me(maybe Alexander can help?!).If Clarence Thomas’s turning against his origins were in the service of reaching for a new equilibrium that is more inclusive of the world’s billions then he might warrant more respect.

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