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Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

The Nuclear Option

Why are people who chose 20th-century-style US nuclear families (which aren’t the same as traditional extended families by a long shot) so very certain that other lifestyles lose meaning after 40?  I am in my late 50s and still have so many things to do I will never get to them all before I cross the river.  Lest some of you claim I’m an anomaly: most of my friends are age-peers or thereabouts, many are childless by choice, and I don’t see any meaningful difference in life-satisfaction levels between those who have kids and those who don’t.  Honestly, these people remind me of the dudes who believe that 30 is a “wall” after which women instantly lose all sexual attractiveness.  And frankly, both types seem like they’re trying to convince themselves that their preferences are the only “correct” ones.  Furthermore, even if you’re a person who hates living alone, it’s possible to form partner bonds with people you’re not boinking, and if you really feel the need to care for some else who needs the help, you could choose to commit to caring for a dependent parent or other relative, or a friend who isn’t biologically related.  There’s nothing wrong with choosing to have kids, if you feel you want to.  But if you have them as a kind of insurance policy against boredom in later adulthood, you’re having them for the wrong (and very selfish) reasons.

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I finally figured out why I haven’t started a Substack or otherwise paywalled my writing: it’s a conflict between my whore ethics and my librarian ethics, and the librarian ethics are winning.  It’s no secret that I find paywalls distateful; their existence is one of the reasons most of the links on my blog are now archived versions of the originals (because archive sites circumvent about 95% of paywalls).  I’m not saying I don’t think people should be paid for their writing; not only is that completely untrue, I’d be a hypocrite for claiming it because I do charge for my writing, in book form.  Maybe it’s just that I’m old-fashioned; a book feels like a thing to me, whereas my thoughts seem like…something else?  Look, I didn’t promise you this would make sense; I’m just telling you how I feel, and I only recently figured it out myself.  But at the same time, I obviously need to pull in more money from my writing, since my semi-retirement income has been eaten into by inflation (and other factors I’ve discussed before).  So other than getting a wealthy patron to underwrite me (and if you have a large amount of money you feel like bestowing upon me in order to enable me to keep doing what I’m doing, please let me know), I think the best bet is to start taking advertising.  Here again, there’s a conflict; due to my principles I find the idea of letting just anybody advertise on my blog without my approval (am I misunderstanding how “ad delivery” services work?) utterly revolting, and though my principles won’t pay the bills I refuse to be a hypocrite and allow my readers to be attacked by the same blinking, flashing, jumping, drifting, popping ads which I find necessary to eliminate via an adblocker lest they assault my vertigo and aggravate my anxiety.  So if you know about an ad service which displays static ads that don’t intentionally harass and irritate the viewer, and further can help me get connected with them, please email and let me know.  Please don’t contact me to say, “Oh, you just Google it” or “go to Cash4u.com and sign up” or anything like that, because if I were capable of doing it myself I’d have done it over a year ago.  I know it’s hard for some (many? most?) of y’all to grasp that there are some things I’m really just not good at, but it happens to be the truth; if I’m going to do this I’m going to need my hand held through the whole process.  So if you think you have the knowledge and inclination to help me through this; and you’re willing to take the time and spend the effort to walk me through it step by tiny step (despite the fact that the difficulty of the task will likely fall somewhere between “teaching a cat to swim” and “teaching a gibbon to drive”); and you really respect my work and want me to continue being able to do it, please let me know ASAP.  Or alternately, if you want to play Medici to my Leonardo, that would work too.

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People who aren’t total moral imbeciles often make the mistake of believing that politicians create, support, or vote for laws because they believe those laws will accomplish something positive.  Time and again we’re told that statutes which grant cops new powers to harass, spy upon, invade the privacy and homes of, defame, brutalize, rob, rape, abduct, maim, and even murder peaceful citizens for doing normal, consensual things politicians have decided to “send a message” about are “well-intended“, regardless of how many facts, studies, and witnesses they are presented with to demonstrate that empowering sociopathic thugs in the aforementioned manner accomplishes nothing except more violence and societal harm.  The politicians who mastermind such prohibitions are evil megalomaniacs who openly want to harm those they’re bigoted against, but there aren’t enough of them to ram these abominations down the throats of their subjects; to accomplish that, they need the support of others whose moral compasses are so dysfunctional they can’t even manage to be consistently or effectively evil.  These people operate way down in moral stage one or two; they say whatever they think will get them elected, and aren’t even capable of a more complex moral calculus than “things that make me rich, powerful, or well-liked are good”.  One easy way to tell a politician operating from this moral ooze is that they often assume everyone else’s brains are as primitive and undeveloped as theirs are, and will therefore respond to promises of material gain or the collectivist warm-fuzzies that come from being part of a “winning team”.  Remember the bizarre competition among politicians to claim their state or city was “one of the top sources/destinations for sex trafficking”?  A reasonable person would think twice before bragging about such a dubious distinction (if it were true), but as I pointed out above, we aren’t discussing reasonable people.  To those operating in this moral basement, being “top” at something – anything – is a pure good, even if it’s “most carceral”, “most authoritarian”, “most violent”, “most inhospitable”, “cruelest”, “most hateful”, “most ignorant”, etc.

All this may help y’all to understand why politicians compete to produce the strictest, most draconian, most brutal laws on any given topic, as in this recent example:

Indiana lawmakers approved a near-total ban on abortion…some GOP members…opposed the bill because of…exceptions…in cases of rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormality or when the procedure is necessary to prevent severe health risks or death…

The article provides examples of both of the types of moral atavisms described above.  The ones who opposed making exceptions for the life of the mother are typified by people like John Jacob, who probably regularly forgets how to walk upright; in arguing that the law should condemn women with dangerous pregnancies to slow death, Jacob vomited out the moronic slogan, “Not her body, not her choice.”  But it’s unlikely that the majority who voted for the bill are so unambiguously fanatical; most are probably like Wendy McNamara, who told reporters she supported the ban because it “makes Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the nation.”  And to a mind so unaccustomed to independent thought, being part of a group that can be said to be the “most” at anything is something to be proud of.

 

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I’ve noticed some people seem to be laboring under the delusion that if one of the schoolyard culture war “teams” temporarily espouses some position which happens to look something like one of mine, that means I “belong” to that schoolyard team.

No.

I am an individual, and my positions are derived from decades of ethical consideration based in one simple a priori principle:  Every individual owns themselves and the fruits of their own effort, and nobody else (individually or collectively) has the right to control either, regardless of excuse.  So if your preferred law, policy, regulation, politician, gang, or whatever claims the right to control any individual without their consent in any way, even if you claim it’s for “the greater good” or “their own good”, I am against it.  That’s it.  It’s really quite simple.  And yes, harming others is a form of controlling them, so please let’s have no whataboutery involving violent crime, or sophistry attempting to equate some consensual, nonviolent behavior to actual violence in order to excuse the State violating an individual’s rights.

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It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide…care [to kids impregnated by rape].  –  Caitlin Bernard

Property of the State

Such pro-life, very protecting children:

…three days after the Supreme Court issued its…decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, took a call from a colleague, a child abuse doctor in Ohio…[where sociopathicc politicians] had outlawed any abortion after six weeks. Now this doctor had a 10-year-old patient in the office who was six weeks and three days pregnant…abortion providers [in Indiana] have…experienc[ed] a dramatic increase in the number of patients coming to their clinics from neighboring states with more restrictive policies…

If Men Were Angels

It’s striking how much the sexual behavior of “pastors” resembles that of cops:

A Florida pastor has been arrested for exposing himself and masturbating outside a Starbucks…Enginio Dali Muniz-Colon…is a pastor in Kissimmee and…[w]as…previously…charged over a similar incident at the same Starbucks…

Stalkers in Blue (#814)

If this shocks you, you haven’t been paying attention:

Angeli Rose Gomez, the mother who ran into Robb Elementary School to save her two young kids during the [Uvalde, Texas school] shooting, says she’s since faced a barrage of frightening harassment from [cops] in retaliation for her rightfully harsh criticisms of them in the media.  Gomez’s lawyer, Mark Di Carlo, announced plans this week to take legal action…and also offered specific, chilling details about what their harassment of Gomez has entailed…Gomez was recently pulled over…and…falsely accused of having “illegal immigrants” in her car…police parked outside Gomez’s house for 45 minutes and flashed their lights at her and her mother as they took a walk…police approached an unnamed family member of Gomez’s, and told the[m]…to tell Gomez to stop speaking to the media…

Welcome to the Future (#1052)

No, it can’t.  And scientists who create weapons of oppression like this are moral imbeciles:

An artificial intelligence can now predict the location and rate of crime across a city a week in advance with up to 90 per cent accuracy.  Similar systems have been shown to perpetuate racist bias in policing, and the same [is] true in this case, but the researchers who created this AI [deny it]…Ishanu Chattopadhyay at the University of Chicago [is the chief badge-licker on this project]…

The Convergence of Censors

I’m sure the “freeze peach” morons will vomit out something about fires and theaters:

A [spook] and two p[igs] showed up to a North Texas woman’s house on Thursday morning…to…threaten…he[r]…after she posted in anger over the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.  The feds’ letter to Madeline Walker [ignored the fact that hyperbolically]…tweet[ing] about burning government buildings [does not constitute a credible threat or any other category of speech that is considered unprotected by the First Amendment]…and…threaten[ed her]…with…criminal charges…Joshua Henry, a [thug] for DHS, confirmed the letter’s authenticity…Walker [pointed out that]…“Pastor Dillon Awes of Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth is allowed to preach that gay people should be ‘lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head.’ when people reported him to the police they said, ‘free speech’”…Henry [responded by threatening her again for] sharing the letter on Twitter…[and demanded a US citizen be] “remorseful” [for exercising her civil rights rather than kowtowing to the precious fee-fees of petty bureaucrats]…

The Vultures Descend

Some tyrannies are too loathsome even for some cops:

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano commented…on her office’s role in the recently passed law that essentially bans abortion after six weeks.  The state legislature [demands] abortion providers to send sheriff’s offices reports of women who were impregnated by rape or incest and are trying to terminate the pregnancy.  “I want the public to know that while these providers are now mandated by law to send us these reports regardless of the will of their patients, we will not contact the patient if she doesn’t want us to…sexual assault…is traumatizing, and my agency will do everything we can to offer…respect to these women who are seeking health care”…

Thought Control (#1240)

If you support restrictions on “offensive” speech, you helped create this lunacy:

Virginia Beach [shyster] and [politician] Tim Anderson is suing publisher Oni Press and author Maia Kobabe on behalf his client Tommy Altmann, a[nother politician]…claim[ing] that Kobabe’s work is damaging under the state’s obscenity lawsGender Queer and A Court of Mist and Fury–the other book being challenged in this suit–do not fall under obscene materials in any definition of the law[, but Anderson fully admits his intention is to be a nuisance]…

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This is how you guys get killed.  –  Florida cop (identity hidden by the State)

We’ve been rewatching the Looney Tunes lately, as you may have guessed from my musical selection of three weeks back.  This is another one referenced in a number of ’40s cartoons, especially by Bugs Bunny (“My mama done told me/A buzzard is two-faced…”) and Daffy Duck.  It later became a blues standard (the gender is easily reversed), but here’s Cab Calloway’s version.  The links above it were provided by Radley Balko, Jesse Walker, Rose Alliance, Cop Crisis, Mistress Matisse, and Cop Crisis again, in that order.

From the Archives

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As I wrote almost two years ago,

The ACLU of old is, alas, no more.  Gone is the organization so passionately devoted to civil liberties that it paid for a team of Jewish lawyers to defend literal Nazis’ right to free speech; in its place is an organ of the Democratic party whose main concern is keeping its cash flow as high as possible by parroting its primary donors’ beliefs (often in childish tweets repeating some a priori statement in all caps, over and over, without a word of justification), and never ever ever challenging those beliefs, no matter how anti-civil-rights and factually wrong they may be

Unsurprisingly, free speech is the area in which ACLU’s position has degenerated most shamefully, because it’s no longer popular with their “progressive” authoritarian base.  But fortunately, there’s a younger civil rights organization which is now expanding its remit to take up the ball ACLU has not merely dropped, but actively cast aside…and it’s doing so to the plaudits of former ACLU heavweights:

…The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is renaming itself the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression and keeping the “FIRE” acronym as it launches a drive to promote greater acceptance of a diversity of views in the workplace, pop culture and elsewhere…the group’s president, Greg Lukianoff, said…FIRE has raised $28.5 million for a planned three-year, $75 million litigation, opinion research and public education campaign aimed at boosting and solidifying support for free-speech values…FIRE’s new expansion is…a challenge of sorts to the ACLU, which has faced criticism in recent years for drifting from its unapologetically pro-free-speech roots and taking a more direct…partisan [role]…Many of FIRE’s founders and backers are former leaders of the ACLU who have grown disillusioned with the group under its current executive director, Anthony Romero, who left the Ford Foundation to take over the storied civil liberties organization in 2001.  In 2020, FIRE released Mighty Ira, a laudatory documentary film about Romero’s predecessor, Ira Glasser, focusing on the ACLU’s work from the 1970s through the 1990s.  Glasser, who serves on a FIRE advisory board, said in an interview that he “strongly encouraged” FIRE to broaden its free-speech work in part because the ACLU seems to be abdicating that role…
I’ve long admired FIRE’s steadfast viewpoint-neutral defense of free speech on campuses, and I suspect they’ll be just as dynamite in their new, larger mission.  Let’s hope their new drive brings in enough new money and talent to mount a successful war against the censor-morons dedicated to lobotomizing our society.

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A friend told me that when he’s out of town, his girlfriend goes on paid dates with other men.  She claims that there is no sex involved, but he’s unsure and asked me if compensated dates without sex are really a thing.  My response was that if he can’t trust her, that’s the bigger problem, but I figured I’d ask you about the sexless dates.

The short answer is “no”.  That isn’t to say that some compensated dates don’t involve genital-diddling; however, it’s not really possible for an escort to make a living by putting “no sex” in her profile or repeatedly disappointing clients’ expectations.  Sexless escorting is mostly a fantasy of white bourgeois American women which is not found in nature; my tag “Delightful Conversation” collected cases, but I haven’t seen one in six years and figured it had mostly dried up.  But most importantly, your advice to him was correct.  The problem isn’t that she’s an escort; the problem is that she doesn’t trust him and vice versa, which doesn’t bode well for a relationship.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I’m a virgin who will soon be 40, and I’ve been wanting to engage the services of an escort.  I read your piece on the topic in Reason, but I don’t know if going the sex worker route would make me feel any better.  I realize she wouldn’t be hot for me, but I dread the thought that she’d just not want to be there at all.  Sensing that I’m just a chore to get through would make me feel worse. I don’t want to rent a living sex doll, I want…I don’t know how to articulate what I want out of the experience.  I know I want a woman to have sex with me for free, just because she wants to, but it isn’t happening.

The concept of “free sex” is largely a male fantasy.  As Billy Crystal once humorously expressed it, “Women need a reason to have sex.  Men just need a place.”  Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but waiting for a woman that you personally find attractive who just wants sex with you because she’s “hot for you” to come along is kinda like refusing to demolish that old barn on your property because you figure that that sooner or later it’ll be struck by lightning and burn down.  The great majority of women are going to want something else other than the mere physical act, partly because we’re wired that way and partly because it’s so easy for most women to get sex from men that the chances of one picking you in particular, without any effort on your part, resemble those of winning the lottery.  For the typical woman, the “something else” is likely to be some kind of romantic relationship; for the more pragmatic sort, it’s likely to be money or some other means of support.  And women who are specifically looking for a husband rather than a mere boyfriend combine the two.  You haven’t given me enough to determine why you’ve never stumbled into a romantic relationship over the past two decades, so I’m going to guess you’re shy and lack the self-confidence to ask girls out on traditional dates.  And I further suspect (unless there’s something you aren’t telling me) that the origin of your fear that an escort would view seeing you as especially laborious is that same lack of self-confidence.  Truly professional escorts, women who view sex work as a career and proceed accordingly, have professional ethics and standards; they are no more “living sex dolls” than boxers are “living punching bags”, and the only reason you believe otherwise is all the anti-sexwork propaganda permeating American culture.  Given that, I think you need to adjust your thinking a bit if you’re to correct your problem.  I suggest you peruse my column “From the Top”, which includes links to a number of columns for newbies; also this essay from a guy in a similar position to yours.  If you don’t find anything to help you there, I suggest buying my book Ask Maggie (both volumes) and reading all the essays whose leading questions speak to you (there are probably more of them than you think).  And once you do stop making up excuses to avoid seeing a professional (because that is what you’re doing, honestly), I think you may find the mystique around sex will start to evaporate, and your problem with it.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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This is the conclusion of my series on the classic BBC sci-fi series Blake’s 7, which ran from 1978-81.  The first part appeared the last week of January, and four other installments on the series’ characters and writing followed in successive weeks.

Blake’s 7 was controversial from the very first episode, which featured an unusually-realistic depiction of how totalitarian states deal with dissent; self-appointed Moral Climate Monitor Mary Whitehouse practically had a cow over it.  And the creators didn’t stop there; for four seasons the show’s creators took risks and violated expectations in a way few broadcast TV shows ever dared.  Major characters were depicted in harsh daylight or even killed off, and that included the titular character at the end of season 2; the last episode of season 3, originally planned to be the last, left the remaining crew stranded on a remote planet when their beloved ship, the Liberator, was destroyed.  And when a BBC executive decided to order one more season, the creators seem to have viewed the surprise renewal as permission to color even further outside of the lines, depicting the heroes’ flaws much more clearly and ending the final episode with a bloodbath.  But two episodes earlier than that, “Orbit” had already thrown caution to the winds to produce one of the most realistic and adult episodes of series television ever aired by broadcast.  It was written by Robert Holmes, who is my all-time favorite Doctor Who writer thanks to his gift for characterization.  The basic plot was borrowed from “The Cold Equations“, one of the greatest sci-fi short stories of all time; Holmes, however, does not merely adapt the already-powerful tale, but instead uses it as a vehicle for portraying not one but two abusive relationships.

The story concerns a renegade scientist named Egrorian, who proposes a deal in which he will give his new super-weapon to Avon and Company in exchange for their supercomputer Orac.  The eccentric, narcissistic, treacherous Egrorian has a very elderly assistant named Pinder; the way Egrorian psychologically dominates and physically abuses him is already uncomfortable before we discover the truth: Pinder is only 28, and was prematurely aged due to radiation in an experiment where he was used as a gunea pig. He was a child prodigy who has been in hiding with Egrorian for ten years, and the homoerotic overtones of their interaction, combined with the abuse and Pinder’s being a teenager at the beginning of their relationship, paint a very dark and nasty picture indeed; I suspect the only way it got past the censors was simply that they were too puritanical to grasp what was going on.  But even that pales in comparison with what happens later:  Egrorian has sabotaged the shuttle on which Avon and Vila will return to their ship by hiding a microscopic quantity of super-dense neutronium on board, making the ship too heavy to achieve orbit with the available fuel.  And when they run out of other  things to dump, Avon goes looking for Vila, whose body mass is just over the critical amount they must shed.  Now, Avon does figure out the problem and  jettisons the neutronium instead; however, that does not change the fact that until he does, he is stalking around the ship with a gun, fully intending to murder his crewmate, who only escapes a grisly fate by hiding.  It would be difficult to count the number of unofficial rules of 20th-century broadcast TV drama this story broke; even in a series which had regularly broken rules for four seasons, it was nothing short of shocking.

Those under 40, whose televisual landcape has always included antiheroes, flawed or even criminal protagonists, and morally and factually ambiguous situations, can scarcely grasp how absolutely new, amazing, and even scandalous Blake’s 7 was, and its last season, in which the full humanity of the characters (with all that entails) was laid bare, was like nothing ever before seen on television.  And in its willingness to blow up audience expectations and transgress sharply-drawn boundaries of its time, like nothing since either.

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