Re: female circumcision

Bryant (
1 Dec 1994 16:11:14 -0700

In article <3bjh3o$>, L. William Franke <> wrote:
>Bryant ( wrote:
>: Jeesh, Bill, give it a rest. "Torture"'s in the dictionary. I didn't
>: say anything about absolute truths. I said that I sympathize with the
>: little girl being cut, that objecting to that sympathy as myopic
>: intercultural intolorance is silly, and that your reasoning
>: leads rather quickly to an acceptance of genocide (so long as it's within
>: culture).
>I wasn't objecting to your sympathy for obvious victims of most times
>painful and unsanitary practices that also deprive the victim of living a
>life that is natural in that one respect, just to the moral objections to
>it. I find compelling both arguments against the practice for what I
>think are obvious and commonsense reasons to most educated westerners and
>arguments against condemning it on moral grounds because that smacks too
>much of self-righteousness.

When it comes to torture and murder, I'm pretty self-righteous, I guess.
To my mind, it seems more self-indulgent to throw up one's hands and say,
"when in Rome..." Religious systems, food taboos, marriage and sexual
practices, etc. leave plenty of room for intercultural (and
interpersonal) tolorance.

>Bryant: My objection to torture is subjective and personal. Just like any
>: stance. It is no less valid than your moral decision to ignore her
>: screams and sit contemplating navels on the lofty ivory tower of cultural
>: relativism.
>If I can't do anything about her screams without imposing my own cultural
>and moral values on another society, then I'm afraid that I have to walk

We increasingly live in a global village. We increasingly have to deal
with the actions of members of other cultures. Tolorance is the only way
to avoid war, I agree, in such a situation.

But norms (like what you refer to in a snipped portion as "so called"
human rights against torture, execution without trial, etc) will also
have to be agreed upon. Membership in the UN implies a willingness to
engage in a manner consistent with its mandates. This applies as easily
to the holding of political prisoners in the US as torture of girls in