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Monday, August 19, 2002
Cultural relativism

My esteemed blogmother Lynn has posted a review about a book on cultural relativism, sparing us a rant (something to do with the weather, she tells us). I had been thinking for some time about making a slightly different contribution on precisely this subject but, for the moment, this is all there is in my 'outbox'...

In general, I too thoroughly deprecate the view that 'If it's cultural, it's all right'. However, this does not entitle us to take the attitude that, because we have a generally enlightened and humane society, we are automatically beyond criticism. No society is.

In the late 80s, on W. 23rd St New York, I came across a group of Muslim protesters outside Viking Penguin's office. They were protesting about Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses. I spent a lively half hour remonstrating with them about the relatively mild nature of 'the blasphemy' of which they were complaining. However, their minds were closed but they made the point that they thought that their religion was 'underprivileged' but it was a perception, not a fact.

This made me particularly aware that all religious/social systems, if based unthinkingly on ancient books or teachings, are likely to be ‘currently inappropriate’. This is especially true if applying reason and citing evidence is deemed heretical.

Scientology anyone?

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