Don't be judgemental? In what context?

The following isn’t a question about the sort of judges who wear robes and make legal decisions. That’s something else entirely. Just to keep things in context, I don’t like it when people judge me either.

At this MB and elsewhere, I’ve seen the accusation of “judgementalism” thrown this way and that, as if the mere charge was sufficient to invalidate anything the accused person had said. Just what is judgement that people don’t like it (when used against themselves, anyway)? Is there an alternative for people who like to have an opinion without suffering the disapprobation of others? Regarding the first question, I believe the part that bugs most people about judgemental behavior is the smug assumption, on the part of the person who judges, that they have a right to exercise some sort of real or imagined authority over those whom they judge. This extends to the extent that they act as though they are empowered to demand behavioral changes in the judged person, as well as dictating the behavior of others towards that person.

It’s human nature to dislike a dissenting opinion. It’s especially irksome when someone you don’t know decides upon too little evidence that you are doing something they don’t like, adding insult to injury by invoking G-d, the environment, or some other authority which they seem to have appointed themselves the representative of. In my opinion, I believe I have the right to decide for myself if some behavior is wrong, but that my right to demand certain types of behavior from others is limited. F’rinstance, I expect (and demand) courteous behavior from others, and attempt to show the same for them. Practically, I am limited in the extent of my authority to make such demands. After all, if I’m getting a speeding ticket, it’s unwise for me to insist that the policeman remember to say “please” and “thank you”.

Likewise, should I decide that homosexual behavior is wrong or sinful, my authority to act on this belief extends only to sharing that opinion and living up to it to the best of my ability. It does not therefore authorize me to hunt down people who practice that behavior and harrass them in the hope it will change their minds or stop them from engaging in that behavior. Except by the most dishonest sort of logic I can’t prove that any such behavior is likely to cause harm to myself or someone for whom I am responsible.

So… When (if ever) is it right to judge? How?


How about when someone makes a spelling error in the topic line?

No need to morally judge anyone. Every action has a rational basis to it in ethics. If we don’t know the rational basis to it and we must act accordingly (“Sophie’s choice”), then we flip a coin, it sure as hell beats making an personal error in judgment and living with the guilt. As Wm. Burroughs once said, “If you can’t be just, be arbitrary.”

Dignan: Gee, thanks! I guess that answers my question, then.

Moderators, you may now close this topic.*[/sarcasm] :wink:


I am constantly judging things—it’s how I gain data for decision making. I’m constantly revising my judgements, too. I have to…I don’t always have all the data when I make my preliminary decision. I can handle being judged if someone bothers to collect the data and revise as they go. Not everything is as it first appears. I present as a perfectly nice girl, but you should see me linedance. In a tshirt reading Friend’s Don’t Let Friend’s Linedance. (I have always expected to be judged harshly for this…the unnecessary and inappropriate use of the apostrophes clearly mark me as undeserving of any kind of academic scholarship, but I won 5 last semester).

IMO, one of the best examples of how to be properly judgmental was in “Stranger in a Strange Land” by R.A.Heinlein, where Jubal asks Anne the Fair Witness what color the house up the hill has been painted. Anne replies, “It’s white on this side.”
AFAIAC, that is how to make judgements on just about everything. I can judge how things affect me, and I can make judgements about things that I can clearly see, but beyond that, I have no direct knowledge to use in making a valid, concise judgement. I can form opinions (and do, all of the time), but not judgements in the absence of direct knowledge.