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  1. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    Prejudice

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by yagr, Feb 20, 2014.

    I am having an issue with prejudice in my life. The most spectacular part of this experience to me, is the complete lack of awareness of said prejudice by the offending group. I've spoken to people within this group whom I consider, in all other matters, to be intelligent and open-minded, and yet they continually fail to see it. I have also spoken to others who would count themselves amongst those who are outside this group and they have, to a person, shared my perspective.

    During a recent discussion, I was reminded of the investigative shows such as 60 Minutes or 20/20 in which an episode featuring a man and a woman applying for the same job, or a black and a white person applying for housing, gay and straight, Muslim sounding name versus John Smith, etc. In each case the offending party didn't even seem to be aware of their prejudice, though it was all too obvious to the audience. Too, there are numerous studies (i.e. which face is more trustworthy and then showing faces from multiple racial groups, etc.) which indicate that people are, regardless of their self-image, more prejudice and less tolerant than they might otherwise think.

    Do you believe that prejudice by the dominant group in any society to be something that the minority groups will always have to deal with? Is there any way, minus beginning ones own investigative journalist show and showing, through hidden cameras and mikes, to show these folks examples of their prejudice that they can actually accept as prejudice?
     
  2. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    There will always be prejudice and you don't have to be a majority group to practice it. There are black places where white people aren't welcome, biker bars where hippies are forbidden, etc.
    If you believe behaviors are are at least partially genetic, there is no reason to not apply the same logic to prejudice. It is natural for like to prefer like.
     
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  3. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    I've no doubt that you are correct when you say that prejudice is here to stay but in your example you say that "There are black places where white people aren't welcome..." but this seems to me to simply be more of the same. If it is a 'black place' then blacks have created a place where blacks are the majority...or bikers who created a space where they are the majority, etc. In both examples, they have created a scenario where they are the majority group and have simply carried on the prejudicial treatment that they have received.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I too have experienced prejudice in my life. I'm gay and latino. But I think at one point or another, every flavor of human experiences the cold grip of open prejudice. Everyone.

    Here's me playing devil's advocate:

    Your premise sounds good on the surface. How to uncover prejudice in order to show it to people and either shame or shock them into changing. But what about when people are perfectly aware of their prejudices, perhaps naming the paradigm differently when self-referencing in order to mask the bitterness that comes with the word prejudice. Your premise assumes that if people were more aware, they would stop. I don't think that's the case at all. Some people love their prejudices, adore them, make groups of like minded individuals out of them.

    At least in America, we're supposed to be living in a free society. You are supposed to be allowed to think whatever thoughts you want to think, believe in whatever you want to believe in, hold whatever ideals are important to you proudly to your bosom. You can be, in your head, an abject racist. Not only is there no law against it, there are laws protecting that paradigm, that thought. You're just not allowed to act upon that thought in a way that is detrimental to the object of ire.

    And there's the Catch 22.

    We're allowed to think it, believe it, even worship it, just not act out on it. Does that sound like a contract humans are really able to keep, to you?
     
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  5. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Humans seem to be hard-wired to treat people on different levels based on certain characteristics. Physical attractiveness is one of them. A beautiful man or woman is going to be treated better than an ugly person. If a person is on 'auto-pilot', and not consciously thinking about it, these instincts will take over.
     
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  6. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    This kind of relates to the thread I started on why do we have to like each other. The idea of this utopia where we all like everybody and everybody is equal is as great as catching the train to Hogwarts and just as realistic.
    Sorry if there is a group of people out there that doesn't like you (or me).

    The constant message of everybody is equal has led me to produce a hypothesis that sociopathy is a natural inherent trait in our species (around 4% of the population) that creates leaders that are not swayed in their decision making abilities based on emotion but logic, rational thinking, and empirical evidence. Studies have shown that some of the most successful businessmen and world leaders show signs of sociopathy. Maybe it takes a dog to herd the sheep.
     
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  7. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    Agreed.

    Certainly. Your point is well taken though it was not these folks that I am speaking about. I live dangerously close to a number of white supremacist groups who would certainly frame their prejudices differently than I would. But there are large groups of people who are simply unaware and while they profess a great disdain for prejudice, practice it subtly.

    :)
     
  8. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    To play the devils advocate for the devils advocate, you are still allowed to be an outward racist, just not in areas prohibited by law. You can get together with other like-minded individuals, and as long as you don't incite violence, you're perfectly within the freedom we enjoy in this country.
     
  9. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    I wasn't trying to suggest that we are realistically going to wipe out prejudice. My curiosity was surrounding those folks who honestly don't see their prejudice - even after the behavior which is so obviously slanted in their direction is pointed out to them.
     
  10. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Honestly, because prejudice is a natural function of the brain, every example would have to be examined specifically. For example, do we have an issue with a women crossing the street to avoid a man she doesn't know?
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    But what you mention isn't immediately detrimental to the object of ire, as I mentioned. I'm sure there are many who would argue that a peaceful KKK rally is in some way detrimental to the peace of mind of individuals with which the KKK takes exception, but I won't be treading those shaky sands. ;)
     
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  12. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    How true this is, eh? But JJ, what about those folks who have it pointed out to them and still can't see it? The phenomenon that I'm talking about is (and this is an example only) when you've got ten black employees and ten white employees in a company and every single member of one race believes that they are being discriminated against and can give examples while every single member of the other race, even after hearing the examples, can't see it. Or perhaps better yet, in your attractiveness example: how could it be after it is pointed out (by say, sitting in a car in the parking lot and video-taping your friends last twenty trips to Walmart) that he didn't hold the door open for the last ten frumpy women who reached the door just as he did, but held the door open every single time an attractive woman reached the door at the same time that he did - how, after witnessing the tape, could he still believe that he is not treating folks differently based on attractiveness?

    If he has no problem with that behavior, then right on, continue unmolested by me... but I'm talking about him being completely unable to see it - even after watching the tape. That is what throws me.
     
  13. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Sounds like cognitive dissonance to me. But again, if there is any other possible explanation, you have to consider the possibility. If there are 10 black people and 2 white people working at a company, and the 2 white people get promoted, you can't really claim prejudice, because those two people may have been actually most deserving.
     
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  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sad to say, there's no cure for prejudice, or stupidity... bigots will remain bigots and the stupid will remain stupid...

    that is, other than genetic fiddling to create a race incapable of bias, that will have no contact with, or knowledge of the present human race... if that were possible...
     
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  15. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    I so wanted to avoid this but feared that it would be impossible... so forgive me for being specific:

    I am a member of a twelve step group. Our traditions are our guiding force as we have no rules per se nor do we have a governing body to insure that these guidelines or traditions are followed. One such tradition states in part, 'No group or member should ... express any opinion on outside issues, particularly those pertaining to ... or sectarian religion.' One of the key successes of this and all twelve step programs is the inclusiveness that is written into the program. All are welcome regardless of age, race, sexual identity, religion or lack of religion, etc.

    In other words, if you are black, you are just as welcome as a person who is white or Indian or Asian or... - a Muslim is just as welcome as a Christian, Atheist or Buddhist, etc., and on and on.

    But when I mention that closing a meeting with the Lord's Prayer might just be a bit off putting to a Muslim, it falls on completely deaf ears by the Christian community who makes up the core of this rural community. I recentl was asked to close a meeting and did so by beginning to recite the Fathia which begins, "In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate..." and you'd be amazed how quickly hands stopped being held and the audible outcry drowned me out.

    Apparently they understood that this was a tradition violation. They understood why it was important to not promote one religion or belief system over another very well at that point - but continued to fail to see how closing with the Lord's Prayer was equally a violation of our traditions. It just blows me away and I can't see how they cannot see it even after it is pointed out.
     
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  16. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I believe this thread brings together many views from recent arguments in our lovely debate forum. I must preface however, that it should be understood that the views expressed in these forums may not actually reflect the views of the person posting.

    In recent threads we have discussed certain behaviors and morality being inherent or at least partially so. I believe that we should also admit that some forms of racism and prejudice also share the same proportion of nature/nurture as any other part of our behavior and do not necessitate negative connotations; after all, they are natural and therefor must serve some purpose for our species.

    However, prejudices have earned a negative badge while other feelings or actions are being pushed into the 'we must accept them' category. This brings into the argument inherent morality. Why would an inborn judging system deem one natural behavior bad and the other good. Why would we be programmed with heritable hypocrisy?
     
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  17. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Ah, I see. I think the issue is not in them reciting the Lord's Prayer, but not embracing your prayer and being as equally respectful toward your beliefs. They should strive for inclusion or remove the prayer part altogether, dependent on who is funding this program. If it is a church-sponsored 12-step program, then you might just have to accept certain portions of it that you may disagree with. The other issue is to look inside yourself to see why exactly you are 'put-off' by another religions prayer, and then think it wrong when they are put-off by yours. Seems like there is a lot of 'off-putting' where there should be acceptance.
     
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  18. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    JJ,
    The Fathia is not my prayer; I just chose it to illustrate a point to the group. I am, in fact, atheist. The point, for me, was never about the group respecting my beliefs but is that we profess an all inclusiveness and state at every meeting that the newcomer is the most important person at any meeting. When I arrived 22 years ago, my life was on the line. A new member who is in a similar position but is Muslim (for instance) might decide, after such an introduction, that they shall not find a solution here and go back out to their death. My use of a Muslim prayer was only because a Jewish prayer might have found a more sympathetic reaction and wouldn't have been such a poignant example.

    The group itself is self-supporting and no twelve step program is church supported though we frequently do meet on church properties. Another of our traditions states that we shall always be self-supporting so that we pay our way and are not indebted to any group (like a church that we meet in). I agree that all but a generic prayer (if any) should be removed and at the world level, the organization agrees but at the local level it is not seen as divisive and I simply can't understand why it is not.
     
  19. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Aside from being taught to hate certain groups by the very society we live in, it's easy to perpetuate prejudice because it's at the core of most immature defence mechanisms that humans use in order to elevate their own sense of worth, deal with low self-esteem and feeling threatened or inferior. Also, humans have a knack for setting everything up in such a way as to refuse to deal with their own issues. The defence mechanisms that come to mind most readily are:

    1. Repression. This is the root cause usually, because this means burying socially unacceptable urges into one's unconscious. This gives rise to maladaptive behaviours which serve to try and keep the urge repressed.

    2. Projection. It's one of the most common maladaptive behaviour patterns which makes us 'project' our own inadequacies and complexes or even urges that we refuse to accept onto other people, and then judge those people based on our projections.

    2. Reaction formation. This is essentially behaving completely opposite from what our unconscious urges order us. Reaction formation is usually apparent in exaggerated responses, for example radical homophobia in a latent homosexual, or on a small level, a cheater who is showering his wife with gifts.

    3. Denial. That wonderful river in Egypt that we all know so well.

    So anyway, I think prejudice is the end result of all those maladaptive behaviours, which is why humans always seek to legitimise discrimination towards a group of people because then they can legitimately make themselves feel better through no effort whatsoever (my life sucks but at least I'm not fat, ugly, hirsute, Pakistani, transexual, black, immigrant, mentally ill etc) Law is always chasing this tendency, and as soon as we outlaw abuse of one group of people, new groups are identified as 'pariahs' until they can no longer be legitimately abused, at which point we come up with something else. And any difference will do, no matter how small and insignificant it may be, as long as it's fairly immediately apparent.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
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  20. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    In any self-help program, faith is usually a very positive tool to help in the process. I see no reason why any faith should not be respected and included. This doesn't seem to be your position, rather, it bothers you that these people pray to a God you don't personally believe in. I think you should do some soul searching to find the root of your own discomfort. I have Muslim family members and I respect their beliefs and customs. Why do you think that the Muslims and Christians should change what they do because you chose to be atheist? Would it hurt you in some personal way to respect other beliefs? It doesn't seem like they are trying to convert you so I really don't see the issue, unless there is something deeper that the offense is stemming from.
     
  21. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Unfortunately, yes. Thankfully, our society is [theoretically] set up so that minorities are [theoretically] protected from discrimination by the majority. But at the same time, we can't change the way a person thinks or what he believes.
     
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  22. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    I agree.

    Then I have explained myself poorly. We declare, as a group, that we shall not promote one spiritual or religious belief system above another. In my opinion, if closing the meeting with a Christian prayer is not seen as promoting one religious or spiritual belief over another - then closing a meeting with a Muslim prayer shouldn't do so either. If closing with a Muslim prayer is promoting the Muslim religion, then how can closing with a Christian prayer not be doing the same? It is black and white to me and I am having difficulty seeing the difference - and yet the vast and overwhelming majority of participants (locally) can't seem to comprehend the double standard. Pray to anyone or anything you desire privately - but at the group level, when that group professes to not promote one religion over another, keep it generic or keep it out.

    I do respect their beliefs and would not want them to change. As you said above, faith is a positive tool and I would not want anyone to give up a potentially helpful tool in an attempt to save their life. I also do not want to see the group be associated with any religion or even a lack of religion as that association could get in the way of new members seeking help from an organization that professes to not have any religious affiliation whatsoever.
     
  23. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I think you're blurring your semantics a little bit.

    The group, like society, is made up of individuals with individual beliefs. Expressing those beliefs is not 'promoting' one belief over another. All beliefs should be accepted, rather than all be forbidden. You should be able to express your beliefs in regards to helping you in your journey through this program. Obviously, the people who are Christian feel that these words help them in that journey and that's something you should be encouraging, not trying to forbid. What if everyone could express themselves and we would all respect them and their individualism. If a Muslim has a prayer that helps him or others through life's difficulties, he should be able to pray it. If someone else feels that a special song helps, then let her sing it!

    There's a difference between being a Christian group, and being a group that contains a majority of Christians. The group claims that all are welcome, regardless of belief, but one should not mean that you won't hear anything that runs contrary to your own personal beliefs, only that the group will and should be respectful of all beliefs.
     
  24. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    If you are correct that the group will and should be respectful of all beliefs, and I believe that you are, then my recitation of the Fathia should not have caused an uproar. But it did. In no uncertain terms was I told that it was unacceptable. I was told specifically, "To pray such a prayer at these meetings runs contrary to our tradition of not promoting a specific religion."

    To be clear, I do not have a problem with anyone's personal belief. In fact, I support them. What I have a problem with a the double standard of believing that one religion's prayer is okay-dokey in an organization that promotes no religion or spiritual beliefs while another religion's prayer is unacceptable. That seems incredibly intellectually dishonest to me and I remain baffled that I am a minority with that position.
     
  25. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    You mentioned you've been in this group for a very long time. I assume they know you are atheist? If they did, then they were right in being put off by your Muslim prayer. You were not sincere and were simply trying to prove a point, which is kind of an immature thing to do, in my opinion. Again, if it is indeed true that others don't respect non-Christian beliefs, then they are wrong but I think you must be the example of how to respect and tolerate beliefs that don't match your own. One does not excuse the other. Eventually someone must be accepting and respectful. Why not you?

    And if they do indeed not treat all beliefs equally, then I would weigh whether staying in this group outweighs the negatives and make a decision. If it is a self-funded group under no group authority, then it's majority rule. You either play by the majority rules or you leave.
     
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