An Honest Moral Question

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Hobbit, Jan 27, 2006.

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Is slavery itself evil? (please read before answering)

  1. Yes

    14 vote(s)
    70.0%
  2. No

    1 vote(s)
    5.0%
  3. Depends on its execution

    5 vote(s)
    25.0%
  4. Not sure

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    Now, allow me to explain myself before I get to the question at hand, allow me to explain myself. I have seen, time and time again, hostile atheists attempt to villify the Bible by pointing to the verse that intructs slaves to obey their masters. "The Bible condones slavery," they say, "and since slavery is one of the greatest evils of the world, the Bible must be evil and wrong, along with all who follow its teachings." Nevermind that this verse simply tells that those who find themselves slaves should strive to be good slaves rather than rebel, not that one should own slaves. However, that brings me to a rather honest moral question that I have been thinking about. That is:

    Is slavery truly wrong?

    Now, I'm sure that many of you have simply skipped the introductory paragraph and plan to reply based only on the question above, but I emplore you, hear me out. Whenever we Americans mention slavery, it instantly brings up images of African slaves dieing in stuffy cargo holds on their way to the New World, then being sold on auction blocks and being treated as animals, if even that well. Frequent beatings and painful punishments instantly leap to mind as we think of Roots and the brutally scarred backs portrayed in many movies as being typical of former slaves.

    Few men can seriously argue that the racial, animalistic view of African slavery during the European expansionist era was not a travesty, however, this comprises a very small portion of the history of slavery. Most of the recorded history of slavery actually lies with the Romans and other civilizations of Mesopotamia. Their idea of slavery was much different for the Romans. First off, it was not racially motivated. Any man of any race could be made a slave, given certain conditions. The recently conquored held the greatest chance while Roman citizens held the least, but it was possible for any man. In those times, conquoring armies were not known for the kind of mercy the United States shows today, In fact, the concept of the friendly, liberating army rather than the conquoring horde was a fairly revolutionary concept when the allies entered Europe in WWII.

    In ancient times, conquored cities would be looted of all valuable possessions, all males would be killed, and all women, after the soldiers were done 'fulfilling their desires' would be made into love slaves and maidservants, with those who were unsuited to these tasks being forced to join the men. However, more merciful armies who intended to occupy the area, rather than plunder, would sometimes move the conquored into exile, as either second class citizens or slaves, as the Babylonians did. The Romans would take a certain portion of the population of many conquored nations and sell them as slaves, with the proceeds being given to the soldiers to prevent them from looting as much. The rest of the population would then be brought under Roman rule.

    There were also two other ways a man could become a slave, both for his own gain. If a person could not repay a debt or was a dependant of one who could not pay, he/she could be sold into slavery to pay off the debt. A man could also sell himself into slavery voluntarily to create a better life for himself by moving into a more stable region (selling yourself in North Africa and later being sold in Rome was typically a step up, even if you became a slave in the process). Slavery was rarely permanent, and after a certain number of years (I think 7), a slave owner was required, by law, to offer his slave freedom. Freedom was also often given as a gift for good service, and, in accordance with Biblical law, any Hebrew slaveowners had to release all of their slaves on the day of atonement (Yom Kippur) in the sabbath year. In the age of exploration, a similar arrangement called "indentured servitude" allowed many poor to go to the New World in exchange for service.

    So, with all this in mind, is slavery, in and of itself, truly evil?

    I don't really have an answer for this question myself, but I think it's not anywhere near as black and white as it often appears.
     
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  2. GotZoom
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    GotZoom Senior Member

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    From Dictionary.com:

    slav·er·y Audio pronunciation of "slavery" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (slv-r, slvr)
    n. pl. slav·er·ies

    1. The state of one bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household.

    1. The practice of owning slaves.
    2. A mode of production in which slaves constitute the principal work force.
    3. The condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence.
    4. A condition of hard work and subjection: wage slavery.


    slavery

    n 1: the state of being under the control of another person [syn: bondage, thrall, thralldom, thraldom] 2: the practice of owning slaves [syn: slaveholding] 3: work done under harsh conditions for little or no pay

    ---

    Slavery itself is probably not bad, providing it doesn't fall into the second definition's # 3 listing - harsh conditions, etc.

    There are many people who are into the BDSM lifestyle where the term slave (and submissive) are thrown around alot. The ones who call themselves slaves and submissives thoroughly embrace and enjoy their postion.

    I think what makes slavery a negative is how said slave is treated. One could say that a nanny, housekeeper, etc could be considered the same as a slave but by a different name.

    I wonder how things would be if that term was never used with African-Americans back when there were slaves. What if they were called "Farmhands" or "Cooks" or "Butlers" and "Maids"......would those terms have a negative connotation today?
     
  3. liberalogic
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    liberalogic Member

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    I think it is kind of "black and white": Slavery is an act that objectifies the human being. Regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, etc., it implies that the slave is under the ownership of the master. No human being should be forced into this act; even if a country has invaded another.

    The only slavery that I would condone would be someone who is WILLING to do it (I'm all for freedom of action as long as you don't infringe upon the rights of others). I could see that happening in the debt example that you give. But by no means, regardless of the situation, should anyone be FORCED into this act.

    And I'd venture to say that it is evil: we are human beings, not property.
     
  4. no1tovote4
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    no1tovote4 VIP Member

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    One cannot own another human without taking from him the natural state of freedom with which he is endowed. Each time slavery has created a revolt, or small ineffective revolts, in all its forms from serfdom to the bestial-assumed slavery of the US's past.
     
  5. dmp
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    dmp Senior Member

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    so does Porn.
     
  6. GotZoom
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    GotZoom Senior Member

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    And we all know that Porn is bad.
     
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  7. liberalogic
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    liberalogic Member

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    Not that porn has anything to do with this, but are you kidding me? Porn is entertainment and most porn stars (at least in the US-- i'm not referring to illegal sex trade) get paid to screw. To compare that to slavery makes no sense.
     
  8. dmp
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    dmp Senior Member

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    I compared it to Slavery for a couple reasons:

    1. Objects. Shows the participants as objects - generally tools to enhance the viewers experience/horniness/whatever.

    2. Both can control people's lives.

    3. I can't think of a 3rd off-hand, but I hate only having 2 numbered statements in a list.
     
  9. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    Many women in the porn industry are entrapped in the industry through drug addictions, shame, pimps, etc. It's not like they can just 'leave the game' - though I'm sure there are many who are in the business by their own decisions. Not to mention the prostitution industry, especially overseas, which enslaves women outright.
     
  10. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    To answer the OP, I would say that it depends, only because if someone entered into slavery on a voluntary basis, then it would be their choice. But to enslave someone agaist their will, or to own someone who has been thusly enslaved, would be morally wrong.
     

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