Truth as a tool for immoral purposes

The Barefum Bum today used the movie Fitna to discuss the issue of wether accurate information can be used for racist purposes and I have no reason to disagree. However during the course of our short discussion, the issue of whether Geert Wilders is a racist keeps coming up.

Initially, I assumed that this was some kind of subtle Ad hominem, in effect using Wilder’s presumed racism as a way to discredit the movie but the issue at heart, I believe, is more complex.

You see, if Wilders is a racist, he deserves all the condemnation he can get; however, what I see people are trying to accomplish is to argue that because Wilders is/might be a racist, the movie itself should be labeled racist as well and thus condemned. Call me slow, but this does not follow.

Lets say that, given Wilders background, he is indeed a racist. Lets also say that he probably has his own, deeper purposes for making this movie. Lastly, lets assume for now that the movie is factually correct and also that there are no racist insinuations within but rather just strong anti-Islamism (but without any propaganda.)

Do the first two points make the truth (in this case the Movie as I defined it) racist as well? I would argue not.

The truth is the truth. The truth can be a tool.
The fact that the untwisted truth might be used for the wrong purposed does not make the truth wrong in the same sense that because nuclear energy can be used as a weapon, nuclear energy is not wrong.

Someone might argue then, that there are many types of tools and some might be inherently wrong, like, say, a pistol which has no other purpose than to injure and kill humans.Setting aside for a moment whether a tool can ever be inherently wrong, my questions are thus:

  • Is it possible that the truth might be packaged in such a way so as to become a tool suitable only for immoral purposes?
  • Is the use of truth for immoral purposes (not the purposes themselves) condemnable?
  • At the end of the day, don’t all of us have some purposes for which we use the truth to argue for?

2 thoughts on “Truth as a tool for immoral purposes

  1. Again a very interesting bunch of questions, my friend. And I will try to answer them from my point of view as precise as I can. 😉

    1. The problem is that most people who receive information have neither the possibilities nor the competence to check them in far too many cases. So truth is what truth is taken for. In the individual perspective. And as with everything that concerns perception and humans it is indeed shapable in a tool of whatever use, even into one suitable only for immoral purposes. Propaganda loves this.

    2. The morals of one are the immorals of the other. A: “You shot my uncle!” B: “You saved my children!” C: “You woke me up in the middle of the night!” D: “You bought a gun illegally!” E: “You scared my old dog so it got a heart attack and died!” Truth is, someone has been shot by someone else. Does it make the gun use condemnable? I think before we all start blathering about our own self-proclaimed rights and wrongs and discuss the condemnability of the tool we should get straight that the moral factor has to step back on this.

    3. Yes. We do. But I think here the truth is more important than the purpose. I hate seeing lies used for no matter what good the purpose. Its just as the difference if you shoot someone or let him starve to death while buried alive. The method is the key to correct attitude, I think.

  2. You see, if Wilders is a racist, he deserves all the condemnation he can get; however, what I see people are trying to accomplish is to argue that because Wilders is/might be a racist, the movie itself should be labeled racist as well and thus condemned. Call me slow, but this does not follow.

    Ok, I’ll call you slow. 😉 On the one hand, you’re correct, the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises.

    On the other hand, I don’t see the preponderance of criticism in the skeptical/atheist community as directly calling the movie itself racist, or using the argument you specify. The objection is against using the movie in a racist frame; the objections are directed to the frame and context, not the movie itself.

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