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Archive for April 2012


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The following headline caught my eye

The barbaric tradition of ritual baby tossing: Priests hurl children 30ft from temple balcony for ‘good luck’

So what is this barbaric tradition?

In certain parts of India babies are tossed from a temple (as in a generic place of worship; this practice is carried out by Hindus and Muslims) roof (around a height of 30-50ft) and are caught in a cloth stretched out by a number of people. Parents do this because they think it will bring luck and good health to their child.

Here is a representative video


One Lov Verma, from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, says

‘I’m absolutely shocked by this. It’s not simply the government’s job. We need to educate all those who take part in this barbaric practice – the temple priests and the community.’

A similar such incident was covered by the Daily Telegraph a few years ago. There too a goverment apparatchik, deputy commissioner for the Bijapur district, R. Shantaraj, said

“As I am new to the district, I did not know about the unusual ritual, which is inhuman and terrifying for babies. “I intend to prevent the people from indulging in such acts [in future].”

A few thoughts:

  1. How is this inhuman and terrifying for babies? Were any babies interviewed?
  2. As to the baby crying, babies cry all the time. Does the fact that a baby cries justify government intervention into the family?
  3. To the Daily Mail and Lov Verma: What is so barbaric about this practice?
    1. Do you have any data about injuries to babies in this practice?
    2. Do you have any data about the physical and psychological effects on grown up people who were once tossed as babies?
    3. Do you think this practice is more barbaric than circumcision?
      1. If not, why not?
      2. If yes, why are you then not campaigning to ban circumcision? Is it because the pro-circumcision lobby is more numerous and powerful than the pro-baby tossing lobby?
  4. In case anyone believes I am pro-baby tossing, I couldn’t care less what people do to their children in the name of religion, as long as there are no objective indicia of harm
  5. On the question of whether it is stupid that people do it for religious purposes, that is a different question entirely and addressing that would be outside the scope of this post. In short all religion is stupid. Telling children lies that Santa, Easter Bunny, Old Man in the Sky exist and some arbitrary rules must be followed because they are “religion” is also mental abuse and patronizing. Why can’t children be taught the truth from day one?

A wonderful quote from the comments in the Daily Mail article

  • Barbarism is entering other nations and bombing and killing them for democracy. – EUSSR, London, 09/4/2012 12:07

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

April 9, 2012 at 14:38

Posted in Uncategorized

How to repond to luddites

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The next time a luddite tells you, in response to modern technology, the following:

“No thanks. I’ve had it with all this techno wizardry and digital age mania. Whatever happened to a world in which people had authentic human contact, admired the beauty of God’s creations and developed genuine relationships, instead of virtual ones?”

Point them to this wonderful essay and tell them how they too impose costs on society

I talked to a person the other day whose aging sister absolutely refuses to get a computer, an email address or a cellphone. Yes, such people do exist. When siblings want to contact her, they call or write a letter with a stamp. There is no sharing of photos, no video Skype, no keeping up with daily events. Everyone in the family is very close in the way that only digital technology allows, but this one person is the outlier, cut off from what everyone else experiences on a daily basis.

I asked if she feels cut off. The answer: Yes, and she is very unhappy about it. She complains that people don’t travel long distances to see her enough. They don’t call enough. She is losing track of what is happening with the grandkids. She has a constant sense that she is just out of it, and this depresses her.

Exactly. She is not actually happy with her choice. It’s just that making this choice seems easier than learning new things and buying new stuff. So she rationalizes her decisions as a principled stand against the digitization of the world.
My experience is that these people have no idea the extent to which they inconvenience others. In fact, I would say that it comes close to being rude. It is not immoral, but it sure is annoying. Instead of dropping an email or posting on a Facebook wall or clicking a button on Skype, family members have to write out up their communications and stick them in an envelope and find a stamp and walk to a mailbox and wait a week or two or three to get an answer back. It’s all kind of crazy. People do it for a while, but then eventually find themselves annoyed and give up. Then the person on the other end gets angry and upset and feels ignored or cut off. This is their choice, too! It is a direct consequence of refusing to join the modern world.

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

April 7, 2012 at 08:29

Posted in Uncategorized

Censored by The Grauniad

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The following comment of mine on this Grauniad Comment is Free post was censored by the Grauniad mods. Can anyone tell me why?

  1. The fact that 6 million Jews were butchered by the Nazis during WWII does not give their (the victims’) descendants and co-religionists a monopoly on being right
  2. The fact that 6 million Jews were butchered by the Nazis during WWII does not mean their (the Nazis’) descendants are morally responsible and guilty for the Holocaust
  3. Grass was a member of the Waffen-SS in his youth. We all make mistakes when young. The important point is whether we realise we have made mistakes and make efforts not to repeat them, not whether a mistake made in the immaturity of one’s youth taints the future forever
  4. Attacking Grass not because of any mistake in his argument but because of his past is an ad hominem argument and speaks more to the character of the person making such an argument rather than Grass’

The above comment as followed up by a comment to which I replied

What is wrong in writing the poem in a highly personal manner? Given that the only words in German I know are Frau, Fraulein, Herr, Guten Tag, Guten Morgen, Danke, Bitte, Schnell, Gott in Himmel, and Scheisse (and german loanwords in English) I read the poem via google translate and read some commentary, none of which led me to believe that Grass was imagining himself as the victim of an Israeli *nuclear* attack. He was imagining himself as an Iranian who is the victim of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear reactors. Why are we criticising someone who is attempting to put himself in another person’s shoes? I daresay that if the Nazis had done that we may not have had the Holocaust.

Ad hominem is a logical fallacy which conflates the merits of an argument with the character of the argument-maker. You can read more about the ad hominem fallacy here. And why is calling out logical fallacies *nonsense*?

The comment thread was closed by the time I could submit my second comment. After a while I realised that my earlier comment had also been deleted by the Grauniad mods. Did what I write in my first comment offensive in any manner? It had received atleast 10 recommends (last time I checked) before it was deleted. The Grauniad mods move in mysterious ways. The Grauniad comment policy is here and I fail to see what standards were breached.

Note: Since I had not saved my comments, I have tried to reproduce tham from memory as faithfully as possible. While the words and sentences used may be well different, the meaning conveyed by them is substantially the same

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

April 6, 2012 at 04:27

Posted in Uncategorized