Protecting people "like us" from people "like them"

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by S.A.M., Jan 12, 2011.

  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Does distance matter for social convention? Is it "okay" to strip and rape women convicts in a far away colony if not at "home"?

    A far away colony is only as good as a concentration camp or a reservation or a prison or a <insert mode of segregation>

    Why does segregation make degradation more acceptable?

    So it was legal to send cruel men there and it was legal enough that not one of them was held accountable for it. Why?

    Neither is rape or domestic violence in any of the societies. But it seems that the law registers these cases and hence provides confirmation that they are not legally supported. Were the rapes and transactions of the female convicts illegal enough to be registered? Are they recorded as crimes?
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    What punishments did the offenders receive for the "honour" killings listed by Bells above, SAM?
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  5. Bells Staff Member

    Does distance matter for social convention in India and Pakistan?

    Of course not.

    But it happened.

    There is no justification for it. And as my fellow countryman pointed out, this was back in the late 1700 and early 1800, a time when women did not really have that many rights to begin with.

    It was not acceptable then as it is not acceptable now. But it happened, just as rapes happen today. Does that mean it is okay today for a man to strip and rape a woman or a female prisoner? No.


    No one is arguing with that.

    Those who were lucky (or unlucky) to survive the voyage endured horrid conditions.

    As I said. People are cruel and some are twisted.

    Back then, convicts were deemed to have no rights. Some were barely classified as being human. Look at slavery as a prime example. If ever there was and is a true horror of human treatment, it is slavery. And yet, in some areas of Africa, it is deemed socially acceptable, just as it was deemed legal and acceptable in our history. Do you think it was illegal to have a cruel slave master back then Sam? No. In fact, like in the story of that poor couple murdered for being in a relationship, it was deemed acceptable and owners valued having cruel staff to keep the 'animals' in line.

    But most are never reported and even if they are, some are ignored.

    It may not be legally supported, but the people accused of committing such crimes rarely ever see the inside of a courtroom. Why do you think that is?

    You do realise that this is close to the start of colonisation? Do you honestly think that the authorities would have reported crimes against those they deemed criminals or whores? Many of them were deemed breeding stock.

    You are applying the modern concept of reporting rape to a time where raping a female convict was not deemed a crime..
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  7. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    No more than it does to any other place, in my opinion

    Corruption, mostly. Cops and authorities can be paid off. Just as they are for almost all other crimes in the same societies.

    Do you see the irony of raping and enslaving women convicts for the purposes of populating a land where the natives are colonised against their will? Do you see the aspect of human psyche I am addressing?

    Exactly. So can we focus on why humiliating and degrading these women was considered justified for the purpose of social stability [the colony] and conflict resolution [punishing the convicts] ?

    Especially since they were not even real criminals?

    And why it is no longer considered justifiable?
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member


    Thats an interesting remark. One of the points that is stressed about urban mixed socities is the sense of anonymity, the feeling that "other people" are not "in your face".

    Do people care less about the opinions of others in a "modern" society? Is the changing social scenario an expression less of greater tolerance of differences and more reflective of caring less about the outcome?

    Although, I have to say, the responses to this thread indicate that such tolerance seems illusory and dependent on maintaining some "self evident truths"
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Not considered a crime by whom? The law? Or the people who administered the law? Or some of those people? Or the convicts themselves? Or all of the above?
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I think that the more relevant point is that many interactions you have with other people in large societies are one-off and/or brief. If you cheat somebody, or are rude to them, chances are that the news won't flow back to the people you really care about or that you interact with regularly. And you probably don't cheat and disrespect those people.

    In a sense, people can afford to be impolite to others who they (usually rightly) feel can have no major impact on their lives in future. When people lived in small villages, you really couldn't afford to disrespect other people. If you lost the respect of somebody, chances are that you'd need their help or support at some point in the future, and you'd pay for your past disrespect then.

    As I said, I don't think that "modern" is the point here. The more salient characteristic is "large". The more people you interact with, the more you can afford to care less about the opinions of (some of) those people.

    I'm not sure what you include in this "changing social scenario". Regarding a lack of respect, it's almost certainly the latter.
  11. Bells Staff Member

    It was more a case that these women were considered to be "whores" and prostitutes.. They never reported it and if they would have reported it, they would have been ignored. The authorities did try to stop men from gaining access to the female accomodation and and some may have been shot trying to gain access to these women in their accomodation, but rape? If one was married and another raped her, then maybe. Otherwise they were just ignored for the most part.

    In an ideal world such crimes and such treatment would not exist. But we do not live in an ideal world. In our world there are some who do commit such crimes.

    So why do some communities consider it acceptable?

    Look at the case I linked in India as a prime example. They were murdered because they dared to go against the norms of the village and marry within the village - even though they weren't related. And yet, the village was proud of the actions of their murderers and her own father proudly admitted that he was directly involved. Why was she and her child so unworthy of any rights? The family were protecting their own reputation in murdering them because to that community, the family had become tainted by their union.


    And also consider that these police officers come from these communities.

    I would be amazed if anyone did not see it. But it happened. So what are you going to do about it?

    Although these days, in many societies, it is more about social order and ensuring people marry who they are meant to marry and marry within their religion or social circle. And if they do not, then they face the ire of their family and community and possible death. Back then, women and natives were barely considered to be human. And in some cultures today, women are still deemed to be property and have no rights. Think we'd have learned from the past, but it would seem not.

    Could it be because women were not deemed equal and in most instances, had no rights to begin with?
    By today's standard. But back then, they were. Some were transported for stealing the equivalent of a block of butter or a bottle of milk.

    The irony of course is that we condemn it now, but many communities and countries have legal systems that have a 3 strikes and you're out, where some are being jailed if they are caught stealing minor things on 3 separate occasions. The difference now is that we send them to jail instead of shipping them off shore.
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I'd say it is more about confusion and insecurity.

    I have no idea how to test this experimentally, though - but consider studies like these: /

    I don't think modern people are more tolerant, just more (morally, spiritually, practically) disoriented and vulnerable, which may externally look the same as tolerance.

    (Note how the loudest promoters of tolerance are not rarely quite viciously intolerant themselves.)

    ... which are not self-evident after all.
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    It is interesting that you use the concept of "affording" here.

    I would formulate the above statement as
    The more people you interact with, the less able you are to care about the opinions of (some of) those people.

    "Affording" implies that the person is actually doing a cost/benefit analysis about the way they behave toward others. I'm not so sure people generally do this.
    "This person is just a stranger in the street. It won't cost me anything if I'm not particularly kind to them." -?
    I would tend to think that most of how people behave toward others is without much forethought in the individual instance, but rather a reacting, a kind of autopilot.
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The ideas on what a human life is worth are changing over time and circumstance.

    For example, it seems allright that a child with a congenital heart defect is worth spending a lot of money on when the child is from a rich family, but not when it is from a poor one.
    When there is a medical crisis, doctors or those in charge perform triage. But this might seem unfair to those whose relatives have been injured.
    Then the considerations for abortions.
    A boss' decision on whom to fire when they have to cut staff.

    It seems to be a relatively modern conception to emphasize thinking of the value of human life in a decontextualized, abstract manner, aspiring for an ideal.
    Whereas in the earlier times, they seemed to have been more practical, with more regard to the actual circumstances of what is actually likely to be doable, worthwhile and what isn't.

    Look at the hunger crisis in Africa: much of the problems that Africa is facing nowadays is a result of the efforts to "help" them.
    It was a decontextualized, abstract, idealistic thinking that said "Everyone should have enough food, so let's feed these poor hungry people". Look where it lead - the situation is worse than ever, with numerically more people starving.
    Someone with a more practical outlook would say that simply much cannot be done, given the poor natural resources, and the conviction that the only way to have a stable society in a particular geographic region is that it produce its own food, however little that may be.

    Can you tell what it is in your psyche that makes you balk at the thought of not helping those poor hungry Africans?
  15. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    Re feeding Africans.

    Compassion here is great. But it needs to be tempered with practicality, and the world's greatest aid agencies are trying hard to do that. Thus, the approach is no longer simply handing out food. There are much more comprehensive programs of building local economies - helping farmers develop more effective systems, creating better distribution systems etc.

    Sure, we have a long way to go, but that does not mean we should not start.

    I also add that the biggest problems in Africa are not caused by aid programs, even stupid and ineffective aid programs. The biggest problems are caused by corrupt and self serving politicians. Look at how Zimbabwe, once a food exporter, under the corrupt and stupid control of that evil a$$hole, Robert Mugabe, has turned into a nation of starving people. I sometimes think, tongue in cheek, that aid would be better delivered in the form of selective assassinations.
  16. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I have to disagree with that. When the focus of "aid" is to destroy local employment and when loans are given forcing people to accept foreign imports even at the cost of local health and education, it has repercussions far into the future. Its not only the person who takes a bribe that is criminal, but also the person who offers it.

    But thats a topic for a separate thread.

    So anyone interested in why societies do a 180 on degradation of the other? What are the transitions which result in these changes in perception?
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    And you who can't tell the difference, despite its fundamental significance to the issue you wish to discuss.

    If you want to discuss why people mistreat other people, in general, then have at it. But the "dehumanization" part is immediately misleading along with the legalities, and the "othering" part irrelevant, as so much mistreatment fails to include such aspects.
    In England the turn on slavery was at least partially a result of concerted intellectual and political effort by Western educated elites - a side effect of Western humanist education and increasing valuation of thought or reason.

    The question makes no sense applied to your examples above, as the "society" involved is not coherently identified. There was no "180" on the treatment of women in the society from which the women came, and the degraded, dehumanized society to which they were transported was simply replaced - no 180 there either.
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    This is the problem we've had since the Neolithic Revolution. We're programmed with the pack-social instinct: we only instinctively care about the small extended-family unit we've lived with since birth. We've been using our uniquely large forebrain to override that instinct, to include in our "pack" people we don't know as well, then complete strangers, then people we've never met, and finally people who are only abstractions to us. We do this because despite our instincts we are still highly rational, and through reasoning and learning we have discovered that respecting the rules of civilization and treating everyone more-or-less like a pack-mate makes life better for everyone.

    As I noted in an earlier post, the problem is that our Inner Caveman is still there, and he occasionally has a bad day and doesn't feel like being civilized. Arguably the most common reason for that is that he doesn't feel like he's getting enough out of civilization to be worth enduring the constant stress of stifling his pack-social instinct.

    The Stewards of Civilization need to take this seriously. A certain level of uncivilized behavior is inevitable and a well-run civilization can easily tolerate it. But if the level rises, or the civilization is not well-run (and the two causes tend to exacerbate each other, don't they?), then we have a problem.
    Only sociopaths do, and by definition they don't have the pack-social instinct: they are the "lone wolf," to use the metaphor of the one species that has adapted better to civilization than we have, because they've had more generations to evolve new instincts. (Dogs have two breeding cycles per year. We have four or five in a whole century.)
    This is exactly the point of transcendence from the Neolithic Era (agricultural villages) to the Dawn of Civilization. We had to develop the discipline to live in harmony and cooperation with strangers. We had to accept the logic that if people have to spend a significant portion of their attention, labor and other resources to protect themselves from each other, then there won't be enough left to produce the surplus of goods and services that is the essence of civilization.

    This is something that children have to be taught in infancy. We each have to believe that civilization is a good thing and that it merits our loyalty and our obedience to its rules. If children grow up with a shaky moral foundation, they will always feel like it's okay to cheat as long as they don't get caught.
    I posted an excerpt from an article in the Washington Post on this subject on another thread. One of the things we need to start doing is acknowledging progress when it occurs. The ten countries that contain the overwhelming majority of the world's poor (China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, several African nations and others I don't remember) have undergone incredible economic growth in the last fifteen years. (If you think China is doing well, the last time I checked the Vietnamese economy was growing at something like 12% annually, and the new "micro-loans" are bootstrapping the Bangladeshi economy.) The number of people living in poverty has fallen by 50% since the mid-1990s. This was the U.N.'s 30-year goal, and it now looks like in the next 15 years it will halve again: exactly double the progress they were hoping for!

    Africa is still the saddest place, with its culture in a shambles after the imposition and then collapse of colonialism. Yet the poverty rate in Africa just dropped below 50% for the first time ever. It is expected to fall to 40% in the next ten years.

    Of course we weep for the people who are still poor--at least we should, because caring at least minimally for everyone on this planet is a sure sign that we are, indeed civilized! But let's not lose sight of the fact that this is not a problem that can be solved overnight, and lately we seem to have found the way to make remarkable progress toward a solution.

    Whatever we're doing, it's working. Just don't lose heart, and keep it up! (And excuse me if I didn't quote the article accurately here, you can navigate the URL to my original post.)
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011
  19. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    The example of China, India etc shows that defeating poverty is something that is best achieved internally. In other words, the outside world cannot impose prosperity through aid or other interventions. The affected nation must adopt the enlightened policies that allow them to raise themselves by their own bootstraps. Outside aid can help, but the most important influence will be the actions of the nations own leaders.

    I often quote Singapore. This tiny but over-populated nation, with essentially no natural resources, was left in tatters by the Japanese at the end of WWII. They had autocratic leadership with lousy human rights, but leadership that was strongly directed at economic growth. As a result, they developed into a highly prosperous nation, which now has an average standard of living higher than most OECD members.
  20. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Sorry if I'm repeating a point that someone else made, feel free to fling poo at me for skipping most of the thread...
    But I remember my wife drawing my attention to a study done on pregnant women that showed they became more suspicious of "other" ethnic groups during pregnancy...and I believe the suggestion was that it was a sort of social immune reaction.
    Considering that alien bunches of people would be less likely to be hostile or friendly so much as carrying bacteria/viruses to which you've not been exposed to...there would be a big survival benefit in wanting to stay away from strangers.
    Admittedly, you need to outcross to avoid inbreeding...but you also need to avoid killer cooties.
    Kind of clashing imperatives there.

    As far as our ability to live peacefully with each other as one planetary society...that's going to be an interesting challenge, isn't it? Combine that with dwindling resources, environmental degradation, and climate change...and I don't know if our civilization's going to continue or collapse, really. If it collapses it'll be a long way back up, maybe never, as we've used all the easily gettable metals, fossil fuels, and renewables. I'm hoping we won't collapse, and that we'll learn to start bioengineering replacements for a lot of stuff we make from metals now...

    I forget who wrote it, but I remember one sci-fi author's short story about a concocted war with fictional moon-dwellers... That's a wacky idea, but based on what I know about humanity, we really do tend to think in such a rigid us/them fashion that one could almost wish for a bunch of ominous aliens to define ourselves against.

    Maybe we need to make ourselves into the aliens?

    By that I mean some of us become robotic or nanobiotically-altered cyborgs so we can live successfully in the far harsher environs of the solar system? Humans vs transhumans? I'd rather join the transhumans myself, but if we're up there, I think the humies down here would get their crap together.

    I've got medical problems, and if someone could give me a robotic body that worked better than the current meatsack...I'm on board. I like desert, and if I could have friends up there...Mars? yes, I would enjoy Mars with good company. Lots of space in Space, it's a big solar system...mining ores all day, bouncing over the Martian landscape...peace and quiet...come home to my little terraria dome in the sounds nice.

    Maybe that's how to save the world from itself-become the Hated Other-the Aliens from Spaaaace! *waves hand* I volunteer. Not like I fit in down here anyway.
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    These are all symptoms of overpopulation. Since prosperity has proven to be the most effective contraceptive, the second derivative of population went negative about 25 years ago. Perhaps you've noticed that it's no longer doubling every 30 years. When I was young and people first began worrying about this, they predicted that it would be 100B in 2100!

    Physicists even calculated the thermodynamic limit on population, beyond which we would generate waste heat faster than it would radiate into space, and we'd reach equilibrium when people began dying of heat stroke before reproducing. I think it had about 14 zeros, and it was based on the assumption that all other limiting factors could be overcome, such as turning the entire surface into 500-story warrens of living quarters about the size of your office cubicle, and giant solar collectors in orbit beaming microwave energy down to the planet.

    Instead, the rate of increase is slowing and population is predicted to peak at 9B by the end of this century. Then it will begin to decrease. So if we can get through the next couple of centuries we'll be all right.
  22. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Agree we're way overpopulated. Prosperity is a good contraceptive-but more to the point, it's giving women rights and reproductive options that is a better contraceptive. If women aren't forced to marry young, if they're allowed to get an education, a job, if they aren't forced to have as many children as their man wants them to have? Then the birth rate magically starts heading towards replacement value.

    Imagine that. Give women equality, solve our species' biggest problem.

    We need to be deliberately curtailing the fossil-fuel economy-partly due to climate change, partly due to running out of easily-extractable fossil resources...but really and mostly because if we wait until the crap really hits the fan and society is in a state of economic chaos due to skyrocketing energy costs, we won't be able to build what we need to build to keep everything running.

    We absolutely cannot wait until we're in crisis to make the switch to renewables-because by then it's far, far too late.

    When I first heard about the microwave dish in space thing, I thought, "Wow, that sounds daffy and dangerous." Then I read more about it...and, yeah, sure, sounds pretty good. I'm on board.
    Although...would the increase in radiation from space heat up the earth to a worrisome degree? or would it be negligible in terms of climate impact?

    Last night, my wife said something I found logical, and somewhat disturbing...she pointed out that we've got a lot of coal.
    Considering how incredibly addicted we are as a country to fossil fuel, there's a very real possibility we're going to go after that coal, and not care about the results to the air and the rest of the planet...the way we're going after natural gas and not caring about water contamination in the process.
    Coal can make gasoline, you know...
    I'm an asthmatic, and having lived as a child in what's now the rust belt, I can tell you coal isn't my I'm not pleased at the prospect of a coal-fired country.

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