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March 31, 2008


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I think the idea that some people are not worth defending, or shouldn't be defended is rooted in a rather Manichean way of view of humanity-- that some people are good, and some evil. (Hence the comments on Jeralyn's blog about the ease of defending children).

I've been writing my thesis on representation, and specifically the representation of Iranian president Ahmadinejad and what I've come to believe is that people are really more complex than how they are represented, and especially moreso than what they say and/or do in a specific instance. To say that some crimes or people ought not to be defended, I think, is to buy into the Manichean myth-- this is good, that is evil-- and ignore the world of context.

Sometimes in my thesis it seems like I'm defending Ahmadinejad, and I guess to a certain extent I am. Still, that doesn't mean I can't hold up singular or repeated actions or statments and say I would not have done the same, or I find them objectionable. I'd tend to think that everyone should be defended to the extent an accurate reading of the context of an action or remark will allow.

This is rambling and may seem tangentially related but I do think the basic concept applies-- that people are complex while words or actions may be less so, and that people deserve a good defense, even if it does mean all sorts of uncomfortable ethical questions have to bubble up to the surface.

I don't think it's tangential at all - I think it goes to the heart of what I was trying to say. Thanks for the comment. :)

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