Judgement Day has been and gone, and still we stand on earth. No horrifying trials; no catalysmic rains of fire. So, tell me, what is judgement worth?
Every time we look around, we judge. We are deeply judgemental creatures. So many of our fellow citizens have irritating laughs, poor fashion sense, a crappy iPod playlist. So many people everywhere are making bad choices. So we sneer. It feels a bit good to be superior, right? It does come at the cost of our respect for others, but hey.
Urban Dictionary's best definition of "judgemental" is "a way of making oneself feel better by hurting others". But this doesn't even cover the damage caused by judgementalism. Passing judgement actually does more harm to you than to the object of your judgement. Even if you tell them outright that you're judging them, they are more likely to put it down to you being an ass than to any genuine shortcomings on their behalf. And you know what? You are. Ever heard the expression "different strokes"? It's not your business how someone else lives their life. No one said you had to join in.
I have always been a terribly cynical person. I'm pretty smart, I'm good at a lot of things, and I'm terrified someone will find out something lame about me. So I spent years sneering at the interests of others. "Lame... lame... tragic." What's the good in that? If someone loves the music of ABBA, who am I to take it away from them? Happiness is precious. Love is precious. What I really am is jealous.
Social conservatives are the very worst judges in free-thinking society. Despite their tendency to be lovin' open-hearted Christians, they. Judge. Everyone. On. Everything. From diet to income bracket to sex life, nothing is ever good enough. One of the many serious problems in American society is the lack of health care and the impossibility of insurance cover for the poor and infirm. The traditional social conservative response is: they made their beds, so they can starve in them. Hey, the Bible backs it up. "If any will not work, neither let him eat." Because life and health aren't basic human rights.
Something I've written about a few times recently is "slutwear". It's no secret that I think women should be free to make their own fashion mistakes, and that anyone who wants to tell them what to wear or how to conduct their private lives is a Grade A buffoon. This is a clear example of unwanted judgement masquerading as civic concern (how about that - just like Christianity).
Look. I think 13-year-old girls in leggings and thigh-highs look totally incongruous and silly. But it's not my place to tell them what to wear, and their clothing is not an excuse to abuse them. If you get hung up on judging girls by their clothing, you're no better than the men who use it as an excuse to objectify them. If you can't look past the outfit, you're not only shallow - you're flat-out disrespectful.
There's one kind of judgement that is always warranted: moral judgement. As a humanist, I believe deeply in the importance of conscious and reasoned moral judgement. We can't just say "because the book says no". We absolutely must consider the real-world implications of moral actions. Is there harm? Is there malice? Is there damage?
In the case of fashion choices, no. In the case of assault? Yes.
In the case of homosexual desire, no. In the case of gay-bashing or "corrective therapy"?
I hope you know the answer. Judge wisely.
Edit: small correction to the political bit