Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Friday, December 01, 2006

educating women may be very very very hazardous to your health.

I've had this story on my desktop for a couple days now, and it doesn't get any easier to digest. I wanted to write something about it, but every thing I have to say seems self-evident.

Except, maybe, for the fact that nobody else is talking about it. While every one's wrapped up in the fact that we're losing the Iraq War, virtually no one even remembers that there was another war that we thought we had won that apparently we're also starting to lose.

When I imagine a utopia, I imagine a society entirely free of coercion. Stories like this, and the one I mentioned last week about the Congo, remind me just how pitifully, astonishingly far we are from that as a species. I sometimes fantasize of a land where everybody who wishes to subject people they don't know to laws about morality are left to themselves and given no one and nothing to have power over, and everybody else is left to do what they want, provided they don't inflict violence upon anybody else.

Sigh, enough of that. Anyway. Off to spend a lively Friday night in front of the computer doing animation!


Blogger Todd Stadler will consume all blogs! said...

You realize that in such a utopia, by your own rule, you would be left to yourself as well, right? Since, that is, you are subjecting the subjecters (whom you don't know) to a rule that says they can't subject others to their morality.

It sort of reminds me of people who get upset with moralists of one stripe or another, crying "there are no absolutes" or "you can't tell others what to do". There is necessarily one glaring exception in each case.

That said, you'll get little disagreement from me that society would be best off with a minimal set of rules, chosen only so as to maximize freedom.

Anyhow, there's little I can say that will add or subtract from the horror and shame of what's taking place in countries we nominally control, or at least occupy in part. But honestly, what can you do at this point?

2/12/06 7:59 AM  
Blogger dd said...

In my own utopia I wouldn't rule. So that doesn't worry me. The minimal government would (as I noted) cover issues of "violence" (which I would extend to theft and damage of shared resources) but little else, and enforce law only insofar as violence was inflicted upon others. I suppose instead of saying "morality" I should have said "morality that posits control over other people who are doing no harm towards you".

Of course, the precise definition of what constitutes violence (cf abortion) is still laden with questions and such.

Also, were it not clear: my utopia would be one where people were free to opt out and leave, should they prefer to live in a coercive environment. If fifty people all want to live in a village elsewhere from Utopiaville where they disembowel people for teaching women, that's fine. Just don't expect any women or teachers to come with you, and we'll see how long your village lasts.

(I of course am eliding some of the true nature of power and control here but anyway. I suppose the main message is this: I think it's a tragedy that people aren't able to opt out of a society that undeservedly promotes harm towards them.)

I also don't pretend to have the whole thing worked out - where do traffic lights fit in such a picture? - but anyway.

As far as horror and shame and despair: there's a bit in AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH where Al Gore argues that most people go directly from denial to despair without lingering in the "there's something we can do" department. (He had a pithier name for it, admittedly.) The fact is, the continued and unremitting outrage about the situation in Iraq is at least part of the reason for the electoral results this year, which will hopefully result in concrete change in American policy sooner rather than later (albeit much later than is desirable). Apartheid is another good example where international pressures, often fueled by passionate otherwise disempowered individuals, led to actual change. By contrast, when you have no less a lefty figure than Michael Moore describing the current status of Afghanistan as "everyone lived happily ever after", when people are being disembowelled for daring to teach women, the chance for any impact on American policy in Afghanistan is negligible.

2/12/06 9:34 AM  

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