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Golden Rule

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Perhaps one of the most widely-cited and attributed pithy sayings in the whole of the Western canon, the Golden Rule has been stated and restated a hundred times. It's important for Discordians to be aware of, because like just about everything else that Everybody Knows, it's a memetic virus that you're going to have to fight or jam time and time again. The most common version of the Golden Rule is as follows: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Wikipedia has a pretty good page on the whole deal, too, under its more formal name: The Ethic of Reciprocity.

"But wait," you (person that I've made up for this purpose) object. "Isn't the Golden Rule basically a good thing?" "Ahh, no," I sagely reply, in my deep, masculine, authoritative voice. "Because said that way, it justifies basically anything you could ever want to do to someone."

ImplicationsEdit

There's a famous fastball rebuttal of the Golden Rule that goes like this. "Oh my, that's a pretty girl there. I sure would like it if she kissed me." (Still hunting an attribution for this.)

If the only limitation on what we can ethically do to others is what we'd like done to us, you're on a very short gangplank to, say, rape becoming ethically justifiable. Of course hardly anyone actually interprets it that strongly, but here's a bit more believable of a story from the Houston Voice:

“I called the number last month because friends of mine heard rumors that Exodus was coming to Houston, and it seemed like the easiest way to get a phone number for Exodus so we could ask, ” he explained.
Faircloth referred to the “Love Won Out” conference to be staged in Houston Feb. 19 by Focus on the Family. Graduates of Exodus, a program that claims it can turn people away from homosexuality, or ex-gays are among the speakers at the conference.
This time, Faircloth, now 20, was shocked and angry after the call. “I told the man who answered what I wanted and that I was gay, but it wasn’t a problem. He insisted on quoting Bible verses to me, so I quoted some right back, ” He said.
At the end of the conversation, after an hour of dueling with Bible verses, Faircloth asked the hotline volunteer, “How would you feel if some lonely kid in the middle of Nebraska, who had never heard anything except that he is a sinner killed himself after talking to you?”
He was shocked at the man’s answer: “Sometimes the devil makes things happen.”

This has been alternately referred to as the, "I would want to be told if I were going to hell" version of the Golden Rule.

VariationsEdit

The Golden Rule has been reprised a thousand times or more. Very similar statements exist in Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam, as well as many less-popular religions.[1] Philosophers as diverse as Confucius, Epicurus, and (perhaps most famously) Kant have come up with their own variations.

These formulations vary in quality and applicability. The one famous in the West, the "Christian" version, is a permissive form -- it tells others to do to others. Other forms are prohibitive, and tell us not to do to others things we wouldn't want done to us. This is marginally better, but overall, the whole boat's a wash. Even if only because it forms the alpha and omega of so many folks' ethical reasoning.

JammingEdit

Jamming the Golden Rule is difficult in a sense: it's survived because it's simple and intuitively appealing. However, because it's so common, it's also something few people ever expect to be challenged. So if you can pull the rug out from under them, they'll actually have to do some thinking to find their feet again. And that's what jamming is all about.

GENERAL NOTE ON JAMMING: Jamming techniques are time-bombs. They almost never have immediate effects on someone. Peoples' reflexive defenses are too good for that. What you're looking for is a tiny hitch in their gait, so to speak: if they're flustered for just a second, you know it got in. But don't over-jam someone, or they'll shut out all the noise.

GENERAL NOTE THE SECOND: Use at your own risk. Like, for real. Acting like a Zen Master and bopping someone on the head sounds hilarious, until you get hit back. It will happen.

Here are some techniques.

  • Zenarchy. This is a situation in which at the right time against the right person, an absurd koan can actually work. It's best if this is mid-conversation and you haven't used any other absurdities so far -- they have sharply diminishing returns. Wait for them to state the golden rule, and reply with something like, "Then should my cat eat me first?" It's not the strongest method, but not one to forget, either.
  • Reducto ad absurdum. This is the bread-and-butter of conversational jamming, and it works just as well here. Hit 'em with the bit about justifying rape above, and then see where the discussion goes.
  • Hypocrisy. There are two versions to this one. The first is to have a ready example of someone doing something they clearly would not want done unto them, and press the point. You've got to drive it home that they are clearly not applying this universally, and if it's not a universal, what's the point? The second version is to spout out the Golden Rule all the time and act like a prick. (And if you do that unhypocritically, without ever even violating the golden rule, you'll be super effective.)

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