From a recent conversation on Yahoo Message Boards.
(I did some minor editing for clarity and grammar. Red denotes my correspondent's comments.)
"What about the pedophile? It is appropriate for us to condemn his predatory behavior even though he is probably hard-wired to be that way."
They are RAISED that way. Someone did something similar to them. Point to any case and this is in evidence. I have never read of one where it is not.
Not all people who are molested or raped as children act out in similar fashion; even though they may crave to do so. Part of healing from such abuse is accepting what it did to one's mind and learning how to control one's actual behavior.
"This "ear" business (having an "ear" for new languages) is how their brain is. Are they nevertheless not to be pushed to learn English if they want to live in America?"
Highly recommended is learning the native language of the country in which you live (Yoda-ic eh? ;-}) If they can get by w/o it, good for them. A functional point is that I see no problem with a municipality posting official signage in multiple languages in areas which are meant to help such folk integrate into their new society. These might include Airports, Immigration Depts and Motor Vehicle Depts; at least in Metro areas that have large immigrant populations. As you say, adapting to a new language ain't just as easy for everyone.
Of course, if those metros don't want immigrants, leaving out the signage ain't likely to discourage such people. It'll mostly just make headaches for the populace at large.
"I am not suggesting we judge anyone."
LOL! I most certainly am! Of course that has nothing to do with Prejudging anyone. To live is to judge.
"... but people are what their natures are--and their natures are a complex mix of inheritance, culture, spirit, and life experiences--little of which is "chosen."
People have their natures with which to decide who they are. I am Financially iresponsible by nature. There are no laws to protect my kind from a society that demands responsibilty in Financial matters. I pay the extra price on everything it seems. This is, I can scientifically assure you, an emotional issue. I have been "judged" accordingly and must correct this ineptitude myself (there is help as well but, tada!, it COSTS MONEY!!! LOL!)
I say "by my nature" but of course it was by environment as well. My brain seems "wired" for an aptitude with words and broad concepts. My difficulties are with the specificity and exactitude (precision + accuracy) of mathematical proofs. My parents exhibit the same nutterdumb and dutifully passed it on. Kinda sucks that. The emotional factor is HUGE as is evidenced by the fact that my Dad is an exemplary manager of others' money. He has a rational mind for managing the stuff when it is not his own; ie, when he has no personal attachment to how it is spent.
This is why I've gotten Tutors for my s-daughter who is similarly constructed. I don't shame her when I correct her math errors. I laugh with her alot and I judge her gently unless her actions need immediate and emphatic (NEVER violent!) correction and then I reiterate my reasons after all emotions have mellowed. I also find it extremely helpful to get her to talk about why she did what she did. If I know that I can even better help her resolve her difficulties. WE can communicate more effectively and avoid the otherwise inevitable angry confrontations. I've learned that knowing why we do things can help us do something else or something better in the future (wasn't that one of those sideways lessons taught in kindergarten?)
She's a child for whom I am responsible. She deserves my "sweating the small stuff" and my dealing with MY discomfort when she screws up. If my dad had tried that philosophy I'd be a tremendously different person today. He was (and is) a great guy who simply was terrible at dealing with his kids. I intend to be what I'd like to be someday anyhow. It's just a hell of a lot harder internalizing new ideas about habitual behaviours as an adult than it is as a kid. And it is hard enough for them!
To your last point: Yah, morality is "kind of" relative. EVERYthing is relative as a matter of fact. It's pretty stable as far as relativity goes though. Religions have that idea right. They simply have based much of their concepts on false or outmoded premises (do you notice a basic theme in my thinkin' about religion?). Religion evolved before technology because there was always a need for our species to "know" or understand and we can do alot with our brains alone.
When we started adding to our ability to manipulate nature on ever finer levels, certain facts became apparent that religion could not foresee or explain. It is nearing the time to let Religion go because the scientific method exists now and is obviously, yes I do mean obviously, a much better tool for determining Right from Wrong.