Quote of the day–Martin Duberman

Americans have a very low tolerance for differentness, whether it’s racial, ethnic, or sexual.  Despite our rhetoric about individualism, we are a desperately conforming people.

Martin Duberman
[My QOTD from yesterday was on this same topic. As I was laying in bed last night I had a lot more thoughts on the topic and decided to make a post on the subject. When looking for a QOTD for today this one jumped out at me. I’ll try to get the post out sometime this morning.–Joe]


5 thoughts on “Quote of the day–Martin Duberman

  1. You know you have made this point several times and each time it makes me think. I used to think that all other gun owners were like me. Then I noticed that we don’t agree on much at all EXCEPT for guns. Kim wrote a post that called BDSM practitioners deviant. I pointed out how light BSDM such as spankings is considered very normal in America, and yet both Kim and Connie replied that such “play” was morally reprehensible in nature.

    Up until then I thought that I would see eye to eye on every issue, but alas it is not so. But the lesson is that people who can work out their own reasons for nonconformity are going to be that rugged individual who cannot work out a reason not to conform. Conforming to someone else’s expectations is a good way to hurt yourself mentally and emotionally.


  2. I disagree with this sentiment. Americans are much more diverse than practically any other nation out there. We don’t mind melding other cultures into our own (hence the celebration of St. Patricks day, Cinco De Mayo and Coissandwiches). What we’re not tolerant of is wholesale change that doesn’t take into consideration cultural norms (and even those are as varied as it gets).

    It is a natural thing for humans to bond with those who are similar and, at the same time, conform in order to continue to fit into the social group. It’s a survival mechanism.

    We’re not individuals in the aspect that we wish to be hermits. We generally desire the company of others and in order to effectively communicate with them in a manner that is effective, we must conform to language, social standards, and the such.

    You could “be an individual” by instead of shaking someone’s hand as a greeting, picking your nose and wiping the booger in your eyebrows. Or, you could conform to their expectations and extend your hand. I’m not Japanese, but when we have members of our Japanese office drop by, I bow slightly.

    Not everyone shares the same morals. Some people find it moral to treat women as lesser people. Some people find it moral to try to better every body else’s lives by micromanaging them. Some people feel morally obligated to teach children not to steal (even though theft is a perfectly logical system of obtaining what we need). Just because someone doesn’t share your particular belief system doesn’t make them close minded or a non-individual.

    Yeah, the cultural norm in America is sexually … uh… screwed up. More along the lines of ultra hypocritical. But that’s not anything to do with our individualism.

  3. I’ll agree that Americans are as or more diverse than just about any other nation. Canada, the Netherlands, and perhaps others pride themselves on diversity and tolerance a great deal too. But my point is that even when a person’s activities have virtually no impact on someone else, such as recreational drug use, homosexuality, or prostitution, and a host of other victim-less crimes a great many people want to use the force of government to criminalize non-conformity.

    The same thing happens with gun ownership. There are a lot of people that believe they should be able to enforce their non-gun owning beliefs on everyone else. And this is regardless of the utility or benefit of firearms in society.

  4. Ah, nanny-statism! THE disease we should be aiming to cure.

    The problem is that there is nothing that is sacred when it comes to using the state to force a view on someone. Being green, eating “correctly”, the proper sexual positions to utilize when wearing lavender laced crotchless underwear and a pair of stirrups.

    That requires a little more thought, but I understand your point better. If I get time I might write up something about this on The Line is Here.

  5. James, Just to point out a distinction; there is a world of difference between viewing a behavior as “deviant” on one hand, and trying to use force against its practitioners on the other hand.

    That is a very important distinction. I may thing a lot of things are deviant, and even morally reprehensible, but I’ll fight for your right to do them. Gambling, drugs, and prostitution, for example, are not even exactly “victimless” either, but here’s the important point: They do not violate the rights of others.

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