Monday 2 February 2009


Our teachers at school always told us to avoid the word nice.

They said it was too bland.

Nevertheless, I think 'Nice' is a very underestimated concept. I think 'Nice' is actually something very important indeed.

I often said that I am an admirer of the philosopher Nietzsche. Nietzsche is often misunderstood, but one of his main gripes against Judaeo-Christian morality was that it created a kind of false morality, a kind of inversion of morality.

And in a sense, I agree. It has caused a kind of folding in morality, a creation of a kind of false Good and Evil.
Don't get me wrong, in many cases it's right.

Because it sets up a standard of Right and Wrong based on abstracts, because it denies the logic of sensory experience, it also allows for situations to be created where nice people can be portrayed as villains and nasty people as heroes.

Because ultimately, in any objective systems of values, nice and Good must SURELY be the same.

Now in most cases, these things synthesise. Murder is nasty and it is also wrong. So both the Judaeo-Christian moralist and logic agree. It is therefore, Evil.
Rape is nasty and it is also wrong. So we can all agree it is evil.

However. There are a huge number of instances of behaviour which can be judged wrong by Judeao-Christian morality but which really aren't NASTY.
And therefore, this creates an uncomfortable situation.

For example, picture a group of Puritan soldiers during Cromwell's rule closing down a playhouse. Now in those days, it is true, almost everyone involved would have been 'loose living'. Actresses in those days, were prostitutes, pure and simple. But most of them were undoubtedly very nice people also. Indeed, people who making a living out of selling themselves quite often are. At the end of the day, it does help, if what you are selling is actually YOU. And the actors and the playwrights? Again, probably almost all of them nice people in the way you or I would see it. Pleasant company, charming, fun, intelligent. And had total contempt for the morals of the Puritans, I'm sure.
We can picture the scene, bulldog faced ruffians flinging people and objects out into the street, burning things, generally behaving like Phillistines. And shouting all the while about the judgement of God.

I think this imaginary scene says it all. Nasty people claiming right to victimise nice people who their moral system allows to paint as sinners.

But of course, it still goes on today. One still has moral crusaders complaining about the sexual licentiousness of others. Killjoys sticking their noses in, basically.

And they still get away with what they do. Whenever I hear the word 'immoral' I feel hackles on my back. Why?
Because immoral is a word the righteous use for pleasures they deny themselves to make themselves feel righteous.

Because it is. Ever heard anyone call murder immoral? No, we call it what it is, evil. Ever heard anyone call stealing immoral? No, because we call it what it is, dishonest.

But immoral? Last refuge of the truly unprincipled, a word used by hypocrites to make themselves feel good.
Why? Because, actually they're not nice.

What this warped morality does is devalue the real Good and allows those who can't really claim it to usurp the moral highground and label those who truly own it, to be sinners.

Moral crusaders are Evil people. Of course they are, they're people who take joy in making others miserable. It's a warped system of ethics fails to recognise this.

One case that often springs to mind is people who demand 'justice'. I actually get quite sickened when I see people trotting out the argument that 'justice needs to be done'. If you can do something to make things better, all well and good. But I find something quite sickening in the desire to punish people. You can't change the past and two wrongs don't make a right. When I read stories in the news that read 'The victim's family cheered when the jury gave their verdict', I can't help but shake my head.
Do we learn nothing?

Nice people do not relish anyone suffering, even if the suffering is 'deserved'. If you are cheering the prospect of someone suffering EVEN IF THAT PERSON IS EVIL, then a part of you has been contaminated by that same evil and you don't really have the moral highground.

What we have with this Judeao-Christian ethics is still flawed. Because whilst it's definition of absolute Evil is correct, it's definition of absolute Good is NOT. And this allows for it to be perverted. Because absolute Good and absolute Nice SHOULD be the same thing. But they're not.

What this means is that it creates a loophole. A loophole for people aren't really THAT nice to indulge their unpleasant side in the name of virtue and to actually castigate NICER people. Look at some of the saints. I don't think all of them actually were one hundred percent nice people. St Dominic for example. Burnt Heretics at the stake. I'm sure he probably was a good person on the whole. Burning heretics was acceptable at the time. So he probably could give himself a clear conscience. But totally nice? Totally? So one hundred percent nice he went straight to Heaven and avoided Purgatory?? Burning people alive?
Sorry, to my mind if you stand and watch people burn, even if you are doing it with supposedly pure motives, a part of you is still not QUITE good.

Jesus would not have watched people burn.

I think sometimes Judaeo-Christian morality fails because it hides the wood with trees. Its seven deadly sins. The sins of the body, the world and the devil. This is where it goes wrong. Because the sins of the body, lust, gluttony, sloth, I can't really see them as evil. Faults maybe. But Evil? And lust, I don't even see as a fault. By allowing this viewpoint to exist, we have allowed the righteous-but-not nice a stick to beat the nice-but-not-virtuous with.

And obscure the fact that the nice-but-not-virtuous tend not to be affected by the two sins which actually motivate the righteous-but-not-nice.

And Wrath.

The real evils.

And so we allow a whole group of people to go around who don't do anything that we can categorically point to as being evil, even though we know damn well they aren't making life pleasant for those around them. Because we don't seem to have the sense to realise that actually, it's quite simple. They're not behaving nicely. They are unpleasant and tedious. And we shouldn't have to put up with it.

Your aim in life should be to have as many friends as possible and have no enemies. That's it really. If that's your aim, you're a good person. If it isn't, you're not.

I think my general view on people is this. I don't much care what you do, as long as you don't rape women, abuse children, rob people, harass people, cheat people out of their livelihood or otherwise cause misery to people knowingly and intentionally.

As long as you're nice. And as long as you're interesting.

Truth is beauty, beauty truth.
That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.


Anonymous said...

I would call murder - the deliberate or even simply callous taking of another's life - immoral, as I would stealing.

My aim in life isn't to have as many friends as possible and I think if one speaks their mind, it is impossible not to make enemies. I don't know where on the niceness scale this places me. I'm not sure I care. I used to think I was evil because no matter what I did, there were people unhappy with me. Being nice is overrated. I'm just gonna be me.

Anonymous said...

One man's nice is another man's rude. Some people have no clue how horrible their behavior is, not to mention how much they are hurting other's feelings.

I also don't think nice should be confused with law abiding. People who break the law should be held accountable. I would not feel joy at the sentencing of a law breaker. But I would feel relief that the person was held to the standard we should all be living under.

I personally try to be nice to everyone I meet. Which to me equals respectful, and sensitive. If that person loses my trust, they have a nearly impossible road to regain it.

Oh No...Does that make me Not Nice?

Anonymous said...

Because immoral is a word the righteous use for pleasures they deny themselves to make themselves feel righteous.

I agree with this statement. But I would not go so far as to say moralists are evil. I'd say they are just a wee bit pathetic and even cruel to a point.

I find it fascinating that people we applaud in history as being wonderful and heroic could actually participate in very nasty situations and actions. Not many were just simply 'nice'.

Good post crushed.

Anonymous said...

Sadly you can be a good person and still make enemies. So being nice doesn't always bring its just rewards. But treat people as you wish to be treated, that simple statement most often works and for me, the bottom line is to be able to live with yourself.

Anonymous said...

Some types of murder are surely amoral, though? I am often sickened when I hear a victim's family say they are "happy" with a verdict and even more so by the self-righteous who call for punishments worthy of the Spanish Inquisition. And I always used to wonder about people like Longford, who, for his famous Pornography Report, read loads of the stuff. How come it was going to harm everyone else who read it but not him?
Interesting post, Crushed.

Anonymous said...

Crushed, if someone appears to be "nice", and yet they lie, doesn't that classify them as not being nice at all?

Justice is the only thing which seperates the hypocrits from the culprits.

Without it, people could be nice all day long and continue to victimize others without having to pay for the consequences of their actions.

Of course nobody should cheer when the guilty get punished.

But then the fucking guilty shouldn't have committed the crime to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Vicarious Rising- Yes, you're right, it does seem to be impossible not to make enemies.
Shame though.

Generally you come across as nice. And I judge people how I say them.

Sweet Cheeks- You're right yes, some people really don't have a clue.

Nice and law abiding are not the same thing, no. It depends on the law. I mean, I think rapists are nasty by any definition. Whereas most pot smokers are actually on the whole nicer people than those who've never touched it. Not sure why that should be so, but it is.

No, I think that's the right way round. that's generally how I am.

Kate- Pathetic yes, Pathetic isn't evil. Cruel, yes. and cruel IS.

They're also usually hypocrites.

I guess one can often find that life does impose hard choices on people, sometimes indeed good men have had to do evil things.

It isn't always straight forward, sadly.
I guess I suppose it all boils down to striving for the greatest possible happiness of the greatest possible number.

jmb- This is- unfortunately so, as I have myself discovered.
Sometimes one can do the right thing and still be misrepresented.

I can live with myself, certainly. I can always look myself in the eye in the mirror, and that's what matters.

Welshcakes- Well, anything evil is immoral by definition.

But when the stronger word- evil- is available, we use it.

The only time people use the word 'immoral' they use it because they CAN'T use the word evil.

You make a good point about Longford. But isn't this why the Vice squad in the Met has always been corrupt? It's founded on a hypocritical premise in the first place.

This is the danger of any system of ethics NOT based on moral relativism.

Shelly- On the whole, yes. Though we do have the concept of a white lie; as in there are occasions when to tell someone the truth isn't actually the nice thing to do.

Justice separates hypocrites from culprits...
Not sure I get that one.

Nice is, as nice does.
As in, behaving nicely to people.

Do as you would be done by.

Anonymous said...

'Do as you would be done by' -

That's the nice way of seeing it Crushed.

How does it work if you have been done by not as you would do? Personally, I only have the four cheeks. But the two fingers I still have, work quite well. One per eye.

Sometimes even the 'Nice' have to stand up for themselves you know - even if it isn't nice.

Anonymous said...

I like Dalton's advice in "Road House."

Be nice. Until it's time to not be nice.

Anonymous said...


If your teacher was anything like some of mine then, I figure they probably considered punctuation and spelling as old fashioned unnecessary bolt on extras to 'creative writing'.

One of mine had a real bugbear about the word 'decent'.

You are using nice to mean pleasant, mildly good. Knowing you, I bet you know it means precise or accurate too and that the other meaning developed from that. Like you might say, "nicely judged".

Also sorry to blow a hole on your "nasty" Roundheads, your prejudices showing? But, and I may be open to correction here, any actors would probably all have been male then. I think it was considered a male profession up to the reign of Chuck #II of the restoration who liked the ladies, think Nell, and got them on the stage. I think actresses may even actually have been prohibited by law up to then.

There were of course prostitutes of the female persuasion. I bet the great and good (all guys wouldn't you bet?) would have been keen to patronise them on Saturday night and denounce them on Sunday morning. So your actual overall argument about it holds up, I guess I am just arguing details.

Ask me another time about very expensive prunes in Southwark ^_^

Now as to justice being done. You say "I actually get quite sickened when I see people trotting out the argument that 'justice needs to be done'" Hmmnn. Did you listen to yourself when you were out-doing the Mail/Sun/Mirror on anyone vaguely suspected of being a paedophile deserving death, or possibly anyone over 40 going out with any girl under 25.

So maybe dial back on the holier than though (or at least holier than Roundheads^_^) a little bit?

There are some pretty good points in most of the comments that I can't help but agree with.

Me. I figure, be polite, show the consideration to others you would like to receive.

If you live by and recognise in others the rules/rights of Self ownership, exchange labour and property only by voluntary mutual consent. You don't initiate force or fraud against others and defend yourself against it then you can't go too far wrong.