August 29, 2016

"The color of a lobster is no more important than the color of a person. This lobster is like all the others in the ways that matter."

"And all that matters is that lobsters want to be free to live their natural lives just like us, not cooked alive and eaten. Sending a yellow lobster to an aquarium while killing the rest isn’t praise worthy except in a society that fails to grasp the concept that all animals matter equally."

But people do care intensely about the color of their various pets and often choose one or the other based on color. Should we stop that because of the actual real-world human problem of racial prejudice?

Even with respect to human beings, we have lots of color preferences that aren't part of the race-prejudice problem. You might love seeing a woman in a red dress. You might want to dye your hair blue. You might want to see multicolored tattoos on other people's arms. You might adore Elizabeth Taylor because her eyes were a color that it seemed nobody else had.

Are all these pleasures something about which we should become self-critical?

If you want to be be self-critical, how about being self-critical about your precious attention to your own morality — that wonderfully named sin called scrupulosity — and consider whether likening the everyday joys of color perception to the age-old suffering of racism is itself a racist error.

46 comments:

Wayworn Wanderer said...

Liz in her prime was the single most beautiful woman of the 20th Century.

Char Char Binks said...

This post should have a scrupulosity tag.

rhhardin said...

Color of people is a marker for race, from which other statistical facts that fill in for missing information will be used. Bayes's theorem applies.

Color of lobsters for all I know is a marker for taste or texture, in which case it's important in the same way.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

A yellow lobster is mildly interesting and people like to look at it in an environment designed for display, such as an aquarium.

No one cares about looking an a normal red lobster.

All animals do not matter equally in my belief system. Animals are a commodity. We ought to be humane to them where possible, yes, because we are human and capable of that.

I loved the Chesterton quote that someone brought up last night. I enjoy my pets and try to give them a pleasant existence, but I won't worship them or any other animal.

And, sorry Professor, but I did not complete the background reading. I couldn't get through the entirety of that absurd article.

Ann Althouse said...

"This post should have a scrupulosity tag."

There wasn't an existing tag with that name and there's only one other post where I've used the word, but you convinced me to create one.

I do already have a "sin" tag, so it's kind of duplicative, but it's an important concept and I'd like to have this incentive to continue to pursue it.

Gabriel said...

In so far as coloration is a clue to new genes, yes there are objective reasons.

But progs only have the one lens with which to look at anything, they are always imposing their human standards on nature and calling it "science".

Unknown said...

That last sentence is terrific!

traditionalguy said...

Color of eyes, hair and skin and cheekbones and eyes and we're all useful as an ID system necessary for the control of the enslaved work force taken at gun point.

Tattooing prisoners, tagging ears or other intentional mutilations were necessary when skin color and other markers were not enough and blended together.

Speech patterns could also work well is ID markers as GBS wrote about in Pygmalion.

But a man's a man for all of that is enshrined in our Scots-Irish culture. We need to hold onto that against the intentional divide and conquer strategies of Charles Manson and George Soros.

rehajm said...

When you put lobsters in a tank they often resort to cannibalism, pinning and flipping a smaller peer.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I'm not sure that scrupulosity is a sin.

Fernandinande said...

The color of a lobster is no more important than the color of a person.

If some person's color appeared in 1 out of 30 million people it'd be important, or at least interesting, and that person should be put in an aquarium and gawked at.

This lobster is like all the others in the ways that matter.

Except for the weird color.

Rusty said...

Relax, Bob. It's just a crustacean.

Bad Lieutenant said...

As said above, a yellow lobster might taste different or potentially offer other valuable differentiation. Actually perhaps it is poisonous which would be worth understanding. And, what color does its shell turn when cooked?

All arguments to Consider the Lobster

...on one's plate.

Bad Lieutenant said...

and rhhardin,

Color of people is a marker for race,

This is of course imprecise and a measure of the limits of language. What color was George Hamilton? What color is Colin Kaepernick?

cubanbob said...

Just read the comments at that site and wonder how many of the commenters are actually vegans.

dreams said...

"Liz in her prime was the single most beautiful woman of the 20th Century."

I liked her as a young teenager with her very pretty voice. She was extremely appealing in the movie "Life with Father" with William Powell and Irene Dunne.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm not sure that scrupulosity is a sin."

Jesus said it was.

Peter said...

"All animals matter equally"?

A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy? What about a flea on the rat?

So, perhaps all animals are equal in the sense that they may be equally valuable to themselves.

BUT they need not all be equal to us. Which is why even a PETA-phile wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice a flea to save a boy.

So sorry Mr Orwell, but some animals truly are "more equal."

n.n said...

The reason that class diversity does not matter is because human beings have a philosophy of morality derived from the principles or axioms of individual dignity and intrinsic value. The philosophy of science is an observer with an agnostic perspective of class diversity including species, skin color, and fitness.

n.n said...

Scrupulosity is a pathology of imperfect forms. The rational and moral individual will moderate classification of behaviors accordingly.

DavidD said...

" '[A]ll animals matter equally' " and, yet, only Black Lives Matter.

Square that circle for me, please.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Here, they call it a problem.

This Jesus guy sounds kind of overly judgmental of others.

Paul Snively said...

Re: scrupulosity, "To refrain from licit pleasures is no mitzvah." — Jewish proverb

Paul Snively said...

Eric the Fruit Bat: I'm not sure that scrupulosity is a sin.

Well, Catholicism is pretty clear about it, and Lutherans tend to come by it in a somewhat secondhand way, given Luther's personal experience with what many would characterize as scrupulosity prior to his break with Catholicism. Post-break, many of Luther's critics essentially accused him of overreaction, preaching a theology of "cheap grace" divorced from the moral impact of our day-to-day lives, although the specific phrase "cheap grace" was first used self-critically, by the famous Lutheran pastor executed by Hitler, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Martin said...

PETA = People Eating Tasty Animals

Salad isn't food, food eats salad.

Ann Althouse said...

"Here, they call it a problem."

Yes, it's a problem. It's a sin. That's the point!

You're missing the point.

Marc Puckett said...

I agree with Eric the Fruit Bat's suggestion that scrupulosity isn't itself a sin; have always understood it to be a 'psychological condition'. E.g., here (pdf). Whether someone truly intends, with full freedom of the will, to persist in such a condition is very doubtful, to my mind.

I have no patience with the inability to admit that animals aren't people, however true it is that how we treat animals is an indication of the uprightness of our moral life. All lobster lives matter, sure, sure.

Jupiter said...

"the age-old suffering of racism"

What on Earth are you talking about? You mean like the Hebrews and the Philistines, or something? That was tribalism, not racism. The entirety of human history is not encompassed by the dismal preoccupations of a few poorly educated Leftist academics.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Are all these pleasures something about which we should become self-critical?

Yes, Professor, you must. You aren't supposed to NOTICE. That's one shorthand definition of P.C. - the art of not noticing. It's wrong, morally wrong in P.C. terms, to notice differences between groups. This example (being scolded for noticing and acting on a difference in the color of a sea insect) is notable only because it's a seemingly-extreme application, but the general idea--the core concept--is the same as the rest of P.C.
You aren't supposed to notice that people of West African descent seem to be significantly better than other groups at sprinting, nor that people of East African descent seem to be better at long distance running (even adjusting for their high-altitude training). Those things may be obviously true, empirically, but you're not supposed to NOTICE.

Noticing differences means differences exist. If differences exist then people might have preferences (for rare features like Taylor's eyes or a highly-unusual color for lobsters, etc). Preferences mean discrimination--even if that discrimination is as benign as preferring one thing to another. Discrimination, of course, is de facto wrong--is morally bad.

Thus showing special interest in yellow lobsters is a form of racism.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The solutions the Left suggests for this very serious problem (noticing differences between things and groups) tend to run 1 of 2 ways:

1 is what you might call the Harrison Bergeron path--either taking steps to make sure there are no differences or simply asserting and accomplishing by will (power) total homogeneity [for example, everyone gets a trophy, everyone gets a passing grade, etc]

2 is what you might call The Crucible path--people who don't conform (in this case, who notice differences & admit it) are attacked and shunned; they're cast out of society and made examples of in order to discourage that mindset or belief generally.

Because, you know, the Left is all about tolerance. They just can't tolerate racism, and everything they disagree with is in some way racism.

n.n said...

Proponents of [class] diversity schemes believe that "skin color" is a critical issue in all contexts. Proponents of diversity believe that "skin color" is significant in some specific contexts (e.g. aesthetics, evolutionary bias). The mistake that many people make stems from conflation through correlation (i.e. assumption/assertion of independence, uniformity, linearity). Principles (e.g. "content of character") matter.

Darrell said...

We all live in a yellow submarine.

Char Char Binks said...

I've been racked with guilt over myriad small sins, and now it seems I need to add scrupulosity to that list.

traditionalguy said...

Scruples are a self flagellation with guilt. It is all bad news and opposes any good news.

It is bad enough when it's victims incapacitate themselves with its poison, but the foolishness often gets honored by a religion's owners to profit from it. And it is used as the fools' excuse to attack others who are content in Christ.

glenn said...

Mm mm, lobster, delicious lobster. Split and grilled. Boiled alive and served with drawn butter. Lobster bisque. Lobster. Eat it. Love it.

John Tuffnell said...

Arthropod politics.

None of them suffer from scrupulosity. They'd devour you if given the chance.

Turn-about is fair play.

Rusty said...

Bad Lieutenant said...
"As said above, a yellow lobster might taste different or potentially offer other valuable differentiation."

All lobster tastes like butter.

Fernandinande said...

The reason that lobster diversity does not matter is because lobster beings have a philosophy of morality derived from the principles or axioms of individual dignity and intrinsic value. The philosopher is a lobster with an agnostic perspective of class diversity including species, skin color, fitness and claw size.

Proponents of [lobster] diversity schemes believe that "carapace color" is a critical issue in all contexts. Proponents of diversity believe that "carapace color" is significant in some specific contexts (e.g. evolutionary bias, tastiness). The mistake that many lobsters make stems from conflation through correlation (i.e. consumption/assertion of independence, claw uniformity, linearity, tastiness). Principles (e.g. "content of carapace") matter.

The rational and moral lobster will moderate classification of behaviors accordingly.

Mac McConnell said...

Wayworn Wanderer said...
"Liz in her prime was the single most beautiful woman of the 20th Century."

In that league I would include Hedy Lamarr and Vivien Leigh, brunettes with striking blue eyes. Honorable mention would go to Brooks Shields.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

I'd vote for Vivien Leigh or Grace Kelly for most beautiful myself.

Best Back goes to Vikki Dougan though.

n.n said...

"carapace color" is significant in some specific contexts (e.g. evolutionary bias, tastiness)

Both aesthetics and tastiness are evolutionary biases. If only we knew the universal fitness function. From a human perspective, both are evidence of positive progress. Other consumers may be less discerning. Also, moistness matters. No one likes a dry humor lobster.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

You're missing the point.

I believe you.

Iapetus said...

The only thing that matters about a lobster is whether it's got a hard shell or a soft shell. I think the hard shell lobsters taste better. I also prefer "right-handed" lobsters, because they are more uncommon, but they taste the same as "left-handed" lobsters.

Gabriel said...

@Ann:Jesus said it was.

I would like to see that quote. So I can respond with a quote where he said the opposite.

Paul Snively said...

To the extent the oldest families in America tended to both amass wealth and marry each other, often having in mind such politically incorrect ideas as choosing on the basis of power, wealth, and the correlation between sexual attractiveness and health, it's not surprising that Christa Brooke Camille Shields is beautiful: she's a 10th-generation descendant of Elder John Strong, as am I (no, I'm not ridiculously good-looking, unlike cousin Brooke).