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Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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A debate about cruelty, intolerance, and the establishment of delusion

This past Friday I made a post about the geek test. The wonderful tydestra who I had the privilege of meeting on an 80's web site and have since summarily addicted to LiveJournal (83ypfaaajmxg) left me a comment about an ongoing debate that she'd eventually been pulled into (sadly partially by a troll) about whether Wicca was a viable religion.

I found myself curious about the debate that had spurred this thread. I read it and this morning began typing my response. Sadly, due to the limitations of LiveJournal's commenting system, I was greeted with the ever annoying: Sorry, but your comment of 8263 characters exceeds the maximum character length of 4300. Please go back, shorten it, and try posting it again.(Since then, through refinement and editing I have added some 400 characters and 80 words. Thank you jnanacandra!)

So, I will leave you to read the debate entry that was made if it is up to you. I will wonder if the simple statement of the above will lead the questioner back to this journal to see my response... Personally, the below is just my response in answer to their comments... I really haven't stated my personal opinion on the topic one way or another...

Ah, an exercise in attempting to not let one's opinion cloud the logical analysis of someone else's opinion.

My response...
Well after reading the question and the responses to your post I decided you still needed an actual answer to your post.

I think anyone who believes themselves to physically be a fairy/wolf hybrid is either self-delusional or quite possibly psychotic.

Well, a general statement of your beliefs... I figured, I should (as always) go to the Good Book

Delusion: Psychiatric term meaning: A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness. - The American Heritage® Dictionary (source)

Which amazes me when you consider the same source gives us:

Faith: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence (source)

Ah, so once again we have the holy battle of, if I can't relegate your faith, then I must decide you are insane.

But I guess delusion comes down to the "Invalidating" evidence. Which in faith becomes a bit of a sticky wicket.

On the one hand we have those that believe that the instruction of their belief comes from a man (who was born of a virgin) who could be stabbed, injured by thorns on the head, taken several rusty nails through his hands and feet, left nailed to a board with no food and water in the desert, pronounced dead, and yet, still had the gumption to escape from a cave sealed from the outside with a rock and walk around after said death.

We have those that believe that bushes take flame and speak eventually directing them to split the ocean in two.

The horror (and mixed blessing) in this is that we don't call these people delusional, not because we invalidate these stories, but because we have men and women of science who tenaciously are trying to validate these 'miracles'

Most of these people tend to share some traits- social ineptness, serious depression or other psychological problems, a love of fantasy/sci-fi novels and RPGs, and not feeling like they "fit in" in society.

I find myself grinning wryly at your example. It's always wonderful in a debate to begin with a statement of belief and then follow it up with a supporting 'stereotype.' We can over look the countless psychiatrists who have agreed that role-play is not only healthy but a supportive method in psychological growth. We can overlook the percentage of people who role-play and yet still have the (dare I mention it) ability to separate fantasy from reality.

I will agree that there are a number of people who truly believe that one day they will step out of an elevator onto the bridge of the USS Enterprise. And they will also identify who the Captain will be on the basis of which one was the best.

But for each one of these people in High School I can GUARANTEE you was a matching person, who never picked up a role playing game book in their life, that felt that it was absolutely necessary to shave a number into their hairstyle, paint their face 2 different colours and scream letters at scantily clad, under-18-year-old girls, because they knew with all their hearts that there was no way that their team could win without their participation in this all important ritual.

And the irony is that at these so called 'pep rallies'... many of these "overweight, pimply, 16 year-old nerd{s who} would want to escape into fantasy by daydreaming about life as a majestic winged dragon, may themselves perceive this barbaric ritual that they are required to attend "...negatively affects the person's life when they take the fantasy and act as if it's reality. It gives them an excuse to continue in their anti-social ways because now they feel they're "better" than the mean {other school}..."

Sadly, for reference I can only offer "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana.

Bottom line: "Those who dance to the beat of a different drummer are thought mad by those who hear not the music or care not to listen."

Instead of growing up and facing reality, they find online communities that become their only link to other people, and they all reinforce each other's delusions.

It seems interesting that one of your definitions of social ineptness is that, they find online communities that become their only link to other people and yet, your only link to these people you are asking about is from the fact that you, recently came upon an internet sub-culture {you}'d previously been unaware of and felt the need to talk about this by posting a debate proposal in an, online community. By your own logic, what does this say about delusions you may hold yourself?

That being addressed, let us actually look at your question:

But does this vary from typical religious beliefs? Is considering yourself "otherkin" any less delusional than being a Wiccan? A Christian?

Delusion is definitively the wrong word. Until we as a race can prove what a soul is, we can not in any way 'invalidate' what a soul is or is composed of. Such is the enigma of faith. We no more know what 'personify-able forces or energies' are in this universe anymore than we know why light speed is finite or why the electron can be in two places at once.

We have theory and we have guesswork, the rest until proven is faith.

"Otherkin" claim to have souls that are bound with the mystical and the animal. We have no way to prove this or disprove this.

Wiccans (which is admittedly another whole debate onto itself) are people who believe the divine takes on the personification of many old and new avatar God-forms. In Wicca there are so many different beliefs that to categorize "Wiccans" is almost as impossible as categorizing Christians.

Ah,yes, Christians. Or I need to more explicitly point out the pantheon of different religions (Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Adventist, Anglican, Calvinist, Quaker, etc) who believe that divine took human shape and form in the stature of man?

In all of these we have to dispense with the categorization of delusion when we have no way to invalidate these claims.

Having said that... There are activities that each of these groups participate in that we can say foster delusional activity.

When the "Otherkin" professes that bestiality is okay because they will breed... we can say that this is delusional under the scientific proof that any animal can not breed outside its physical species.

When a Fundamentalist kills someone because that person is violating their dogma one can point out that it is delusional in our society to believe one will go unpunished for such an act because our society's laws say that you will be punished for murder.

It is not our call to vilify anyone else's belief structure unless they prove themselves to be acting in a manner that is destructive. And spiritual pursuits unto themselves, no matter how much they may differ from our own, are not destructive or delusional.

The delusion and self-destructiveness comes from the extrapolation of their core beliefs by individual and more importantly the implementation.

Side debate: Is it cruel and intolerant to mock these people, or is it good, clean, fun?

Back to the dictionary:

Cruel - Disposed {Willing} to inflict pain or suffering.
Intolerant - Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs.
Mock - To treat with ridicule or contempt; deride.

By definition, to mock someone for their beliefs is not intolerance but could and most likely would be perceived as such. The degree of this is dependent on whether your victim (or target) feels personal injury at such behavior (such as personal suffering or emotional pain) which would as a result define your actions as cruel.

Translation: The cruelty of the act depends entirely on how others take your mocking manners and behavior. As for your intolerance... no one can say for sure but you. However, by comparing the behaviors of the "otherkin" with a disparaging stereotype of an overweight, pimply, 16 year-old nerd would give a strong impression that you are intolerant.

Thus the argument rests.

Personal note: While one may read one way or another into my comments, I personally believe that my comments do not state my personal opinion about the beliefs or general behavioral practices of "Otherkin", "Wiccans", or "Christians". Further, I don't believe for this debate or any other that my personal opinions are anything other than irrelevant :)

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At the risk of sounding simple: "You da Man!"

As both a person and a witch, I appreciate your practical, thoughtful response to an issue that most people cannot help but personalize.

That must be why we're 98% compatible ;)

Seems my reply along with yours sparked a whole topic/debate on Wicca

My reply is somewhere in there.
You know, people like that make me mourn for the Spanish Inquistion. At least they were creative. j/k

Merci for calling me wonderful, cheri ;)

If the key is invalidating evidence, I would challenge the person to whom you responded (and it does sound as though you might have been doing a battle of wits with unarmed folk) to explain a few things for me:

I guess you would term me and my husband Otherkin; both of us possess certain animalistic traits that cannot be explained by simply being human. We don't even feel human most days.

- I have what in humans would be a vision defect; the rods and cones in my eyes more closely approximate that of a cat's vision. The lens is incorrectly shaped for a human but perfect for the vision of a cat.

- I also have unusual dentition; while it's still barely within the realms of human, it isn't normal. Several dentists have suggested either trimming or filing back my elongated canine teeth. My husband shares this trait.

- I have an enhanced sense of smell that goes well beyond human abilities. I can tell the difference via scent between two different people in a dark room even if they were present hours ago. I can tell you what their gender was as well. My husband's sense of smell is even keener. He can actually track individuals via scent through a crowded hall.

- My husband has what in humans would be a defect of the bone; he can, with great pain, walk flat footed like most humans do but his "normal" walk is digigrade. It also shows on x-rays taken of his legs. They more closely resemble a digigrade animal (dog in particular) than a human.

There's one other telling "defect" which I won't mention here because it's TMI....but he has that trait in common with canines and it's NOT something found in humans at all.

All of these have been independently verified by doctors who are unaware of our spiritual status or our furry lifestyle.

We don't fit your "friend"'s stereotype. I lead a busy social life, I'm completely functional, he holds a lucrative programming job with a Fortune 500 company, and neither of us has a history of psychological disorders.

I would guess such a belief only becomes delusional when it does override the expected social functioning of the individual, an inability to use discretion if you will.

Regardless of what I believe myself to be, I still know and acknowledge at the end of the day that the face staring out at me is human and will remain so. With that comes the knowledge that people will EXPECT human behavior.

Therein lies the difference.

Congrats, it seems that you and I share many, many traits. The difference between us is interpretive. You interpret the events of your life and existance from the assumption that you are something other than human, I from the assumption that I am a modern, cultivated version of a wild, ferocious hominid (which, incidently, had pronounced canines and unusual bone structure). Hell, I've got the pancreas to prove it.

For your husband's feet, I would suggest orthotics; they will help some. For his... baculum? perhaps I have a dirty mind... I don't know what to tell, you, save that thee is a huge amount of variation posible within homo sapiens (the irony being that we are, as species go, incredibly homogenized); I myself know several people that would be considered inhuman by your rather rigid standard of humanity.

I feel for you, I do; the modern world is a loud, smelly place when you've got hyperacute senses. Do you wear sunglasses indoors as well?

Well....I acknowledge that I'm closer to the animal realm than most humans want to think about. Humans are, after all, still animals whether they recognize it or no. It's entirely possible that I represent either an advancement or a throw-back.

And yes, I do keep my eyes covered indoors. My glasses have a permanent photogrey tint that will darken when exposed to sunlight. It cuts down on the intense pain. Now if only someone would kindly invent a nose filter....

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