It’s okay to be judgmental — as long as you’re making the right judgments

Facebook intifadah“You’re so judgmental, Mom,” my teen told me yesterday.  The reason for this statement (and he totally missed the irony of his judging me for being too judgmental) was the distaste I expressed for Mark Zuckerberg.

I didn’t defend myself against my teen’s charge.

“You’re damn right I’m judgmental.  Zuckerberg deserves to be judged.”

When my teen expressed incredulity at my claim, I elaborated.  I told him that groups such as Hamas frequently use Facebook to disseminate incitement to kill Jews.  They put up cartoons, videos, instructional posters, and just about anything else that tells Hamas’ Facebook friends to slaughter Jews on Israel’s streets.

That’s bad.

What’s worse is that Facebook isn’t doing anything to stop this outpouring of genocidal antisemitic incitement.  It’s gotten so bad that thousands of Israelis have joined Shurat HaDin – The Israel Law Center in a lawsuit against Facebook demanding that it remove this material:

Shurat HaDin wants to force Facebook to not only remove the terrorists’ pages, but also to better monitor and block users who post videos glorifying and encouraging terrorist attacks, and publish messages with instructions on how to carry out an attack.

“The terrorists do not come on their own; they write posts and encourage their friends to kill Jews,” Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin, told Fox News. “Facebook has been transformed into an anti-Semitic incubator for murder.”


The lawsuit says that since Facebook uses algorithms that match users with personalized ads and connect them to potential “friends,” the company should have the ability to monitor and block such postings.

Facebook’s defense is that it can’t possibly do what is asked of it because there’s just too much going on.  Cry me a river. . . .

The fact is that, as every Facebook user knows, this is a company that (a) has such sophisticated algorithms that it constantly provides ad content that’s precisely matched to the user’s interests and (b) that gets involved in such minutiae as removing remarkably innocuous pictures of breast-feeding.  Perhaps,though, the latter pictures will be allowed to stay now that Mark Zuckerberg is about to be a father.

After all, as I told my teen, Mark Zuckerberg is Facebook’s CEO and  is still its largest single shareholder.  Which gets to my not liking the man and judging him harshly.  My case against him boils down to this:  Some situations are binary, without shades of gray.  The current intifada against Israelis is one such situation.  Israel is the only truly pluralist democracy in the Middle East, one that grants equal rights to all citizens, regardless of race, color, creed, country of national original, sex, or sexual orientation.

With Facebook’s help, Israel is under attack  — bloody, deadly attacked — from people who hew to a supremacist ideology that wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.  This ideology is aggressively antisemitic, anti-Christian, anti-Hindu, anti-Bahai, anti-Buddhist, misogynistic, and homophobic.  When it comes to religions other than Judaism, radical Islam seeks to convert or enslave those religions’ practitioners.  Women are chattel.  Jews and gays are to be slaughtered.

Because the situation in Israel and the Palestinian controlled territories is binary — good versus evil — those who do not do not actively support the good end up siding in very concrete ways with evil.  Such is the case with Mark Zuckerberg.  Because he refuses to use his enormous power within Facebook, as both CEO and the largest single shareholder, to prevent genocidal ideologues from using Facebook as a bully pulpit for their incitement, he is actively colluding with these Muslim fanatics.  In my eyes, Zuckerberg has been weighed and found wanting.  I judge him and I do not judge him kindly.

All of this brings me full circle to a post I wrote earlier about a study purporting to show that religiously raised kids are less altruistic than atheist kids.  One of the authors’ conclusions was that Christians are more judgmental:

Research indicates that religiousness is directly related to increased intolerance for and punitive attitudes toward interpersonal offenses, including the probability of supporting harsh penalties [22]. For instance, within Christianity, fundamentalists tend to be more punitive and advocate for harsher corrections than non-fundamentalists [23]. Moreover, Christians are also argued to view the moral wrongness of an action as a dichotomy and are less likely to discriminate between gradients of wrongness, yielding equal ratings for a variety of transgressions.

It’s apparent that the study’s authors view this alleged judgmental behavior as a bad thing. I don’t. Sometimes the only moral thing to do is to be judgmental. Too often, if you refuse to judge behavior, you’re essentially giving evil a pass.

For example, being non-judgmental requires little kids to conclude that, as between the Nazis and the Jews . . . well, they really can’t take sides, because that would be unfair and judgmental against the Nazis, who might have had a good reason for what they’re doing.

If these open-minded little kids were alive and kicking in the 1940s, their non-judgmental passivity would have aided the Nazis because their passivity would have stopped them from defending Jews against antisemitic depredations. When there are only two courses of action — aiding good or aiding evil — refusing to act for good invariably means aiding evil.

Mark Zuckerberg is apparently the grown-up version of those brainlessly open-minded little kids.  Despite his smarts and his Harvard education, he’s incapable of distinguishing good from evil, strives for non-judgmental neutrality, and ends up helping to place knives in the hands of Palestinians who see it as a good day’s work when they stab old women and men to death.

מנא, מנא, תקל, ופרסין, Mark Zuckerberg.

The real trick with being judgmental is figuring out whether you’ve made the right judgments. Although I’m not particularly religious, I believe that the Bible — both Old and New Testaments — is a very good start for figuring out moral rightness.  And within the Bible, a good place to start is the Ten Commandments. Whether they’re from God or man, they’re remarkably helpful at maintaining a civil society — with the Sixth Commandment (“Thou shalt not murder”) ranking particularly high on the list.

Children who are still struggling to learn the world, may err on the side of being too judgmental. There is comfort, after all, in the surety of being judgmental. Tonestaple makes a good point in that regard:

Christianity is not simple and is really not something that can easily be explained to children. I think it’s something that you have to grow into. All children are narcissistic little buggers, who have to be told to share, ordered to share, ordered to be polite, and very specifically taught to be kind. None of these behaviors comes naturally to children, and with Christianity being a very sophisticated belief, I don’t even know if 12 is old enough to really understand the Beatitudes, as an example.

Just as learning the rules is tough, so is understanding, interpreting, and applying the rules. The great thing is that once they’re interpreted, they are incredibly effective rules that cover a broad range of situations.

Think about it this way: Getting started in Microsoft Word is really easy, because it’s got great templates and a lot of visual aids. Problems arise when you try to master MS Word. Then it’s a very challenging program that sees even sophisticated users struggling with all of its invisible codes. Good old Word Perfect was different. There was a steeper learning curve, but if you buckled down, you could readily acquire complete mastery — and once you acquired mastery (which revolved a lot around that “reveal code” command), the sky was the limit.

Or here’s another example distinguishing easy learning with poor long-term outcomes from hard learning with good long-term outcomes. If you’re trying to go somewhere across town, I can just print up a set of directions telling you where to turn (“left on Main, travel two blocks, right on Oak, go three miles,” etc.), or I can give you a map and a compass. The written directions are easy . . . right until you make a wrong turn, at which point, if you’re unable to backtrack, you’re utterly lost. However, with the map and the compass, once you figure out how to use them, you’re never lost.

Like MS Word or that list of instructions, atheism has an easy learning curve insofar as it provides a very specific set of operating instructions: Always share; don’t poke fun at handicapped people, trans people, gay people, or people who are a different color, unless of course they’re Republicans, in which case you can savage them to your heart’s content; and always vote Democrat. And remember, it’s always about your feelings, rather than some absolute goodness.

A perfect example is this post that March Hare found. It explains how two impossibly precocious 9-year-olds were supposedly so incensed by Disney’s horrifying racial and gender stereotypes that they were inspired to write a long, sophisticated letter explaining how Disney is engaged in wrong-feeling activity.

Once you’ve read it, I bet you’ll agree with me that Leftists sure do love to use kids as their mouthpieces. I mean, how many nine-year-olds actually write sentences such as this one? “With the Princess Makeovers, we think you are excluding other people who might want a makeover to be something else, including boys and transgender people.” (For another example of adults putting words in children’s mouths, in this case filthy words, go here.)

The Judeo-Christian system is much more complex, with people having to learn the Commandments, which are quite nuanced; to internalize Jesus’s message from the Sermon on the Mount, as well as his other teachings; to respond to a variety of different moral situations; and to be answerable to a stern, but loving, God. These are difficult things for children to grasp and, unsurprisingly, they’ll often err on the side of extremism until they get it right. Once they do get it right, though, you end up with societies that recognize the difference between true goodness and true evil, and are willing to take sides with good.

So yes, I’m judgmental, and I hope my children are too!