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Best part? The font.
February 18, 2006 11:07 AM   Subscribe

"You will be naked within 20 minutes of the kids being in bed…You are to do everything that is requested or expected of you, if you do not, you are considered noncompliant." – from Travis Frey's "Contract of Wifely Expectations" which also includes detailed instructions what panties she can wear, what sex acts she must perform, how often and where she must shave and how she can earn "good behavior days." Frey, 33, of Iowa, has been charged with kidnapping his wife.
posted by CunningLinguist (345 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, what is that creepy font?
posted by Nelson at 11:13 AM on February 18, 2006


OK, the font comment was me trying to be lighthearted. Then I read the rest of this "contract' and I'm now seriously freaked out and apologize for trying to even make a joke of it. Man, disgusting.
posted by Nelson at 11:16 AM on February 18, 2006


Sounds to me like she chose "9-1-1" as her safe word.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:19 AM on February 18, 2006


Yeah... wow.
Why- how- I mean, what was that poor woman thinking when she said "I do"?!?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:20 AM on February 18, 2006


I hear ya, Nelson. The more you read, the more disturbing it gets...
posted by VulcanMike at 11:21 AM on February 18, 2006


Boy it sure is a good thing von Sacher-Masoch wasn't born in the United States. Venus in Furs wouldn't be nearly as much fun to read if it were posted on The Smoking Gun.
posted by felix betachat at 11:22 AM on February 18, 2006


The scary part to me is that the guy is out on bail.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:23 AM on February 18, 2006


Well, the decorative caps in context definitely speak to this guy's disturbed nature. This guy has some serious issues.
posted by effwerd at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2006


[This is insane.]
posted by zenzizi at 11:25 AM on February 18, 2006


Oh my God. How could someone receive a document like that and *not* run for the hills? That's the creepiest, sickest thing I've ever seen!
posted by tastybrains at 11:25 AM on February 18, 2006


I guess there are *some* people who like that sort of thing.

Speaking as a happily married new man, of course.
posted by athenian at 11:28 AM on February 18, 2006


Where can I get one of these contracts?
posted by lemonfridge at 11:29 AM on February 18, 2006


Tastybrains: Because running for the hills WITH your children, prior to gaining full custody (good luck with that) gets you jailed and leaves your kids in the care of the nutter.
posted by onegreeneye at 11:29 AM on February 18, 2006


Anyone make software? Paste this into your EULA. Fun times ahead.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 11:30 AM on February 18, 2006


The truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

My gut feeling is [...] that the stories she's telling are exaggerations (and falsehoods) in order to get a measure of perceived justice.


I've heard far more fantastic stories than this from plaintiffs alleging police brutality. Even if this were interesting, which it's not, there's absolutely no reason to believe it's true. The only value of tales like this lies in weeding out people who firmly believe in a presumption of innocence toward any [woman] but instantly accept as fact the most insubstantial allegation against [men] or government authority.
posted by orthogonality at 11:31 AM on February 18, 2006


No, the scary part is that they apparently have kids, go to church, and live in Iowa.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:32 AM on February 18, 2006


instantly accept as fact the most insubstantial allegation against [men] or government authority

Was it the rape or the kidnap part that was insubstantial?
posted by onegreeneye at 11:36 AM on February 18, 2006


well, isn't that special?
did he write this in junior high school or something?
he's lucky he didn't wake up to a knife in his throat.
posted by Busithoth at 11:37 AM on February 18, 2006


Bobbitt.
posted by onegreeneye at 11:38 AM on February 18, 2006


Hey, children, give it a break - the criminal parts of it are child-porn and that the wife says she never agreed to the rules. If so, he is an abuser (and a child-porn viewer).

But if she agreeded to the rules and signed the contract, well then, "consenting adults behind closed doors", that is, none of your puritan business. It may sound strange and surprising to you, but there are lots of women out there who would happily sign such a contract and live by it. If you think the little piece of scanned paper is disturbing, insane, freaks you out and is the creepiest, sickest thing you've ever seen, I'd say you have seem very little.
posted by nkyad at 11:38 AM on February 18, 2006


orthogonality is really weird.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 11:40 AM on February 18, 2006


what a dick
posted by pyramid termite at 11:41 AM on February 18, 2006


there are lots of women out there who would happily sign such a contract and live by it.

You know, I'd type more in response to this, but I really need to go find my jaw, which just dropped out of my head and bounced under the desk.
posted by scody at 11:43 AM on February 18, 2006


Protocols of the Elders of Awesome : "orthogonality is really weird."

Weird I wouldn't know, but certainly subtle in excess of R-17.
posted by nkyad at 11:43 AM on February 18, 2006


nkyad writes "It may sound strange and surprising to you, but there are lots of women out there who would happily sign such a contract and live by it."


Yeah, sure, some women like being dominated and ordered around, or humiliated, or even rough-housed (and we've all dated some of them). But that contract just ain't sexy. There's no fun in it. It's tedious and the guy comes across as a pussy, not a dominant guy.

Blowjobs lasting all of five minutes?? "Good Behavior Days"? It sounds like a bureaucrat or an accountant fantasizing about being a prison warden. It's just not sexy. It's sick, but it's not sexy.
posted by orthogonality at 11:45 AM on February 18, 2006


You know, generally speaking, people who engage in BDSM are treated quite decently here on Mefi. Occasionally I've run into close-mindedness and assholery, but it's been very infrequent. Overall, I'd say that MeFi's been very good to me and to people like me. So I regard this post as rather a large disappointment.

But to get to the point here:

There's nothing wrong with the set of rules he lays out. Yes. You heard me. Nothing at all. I challenge you to point to even one sentence in this document which calls for behavior that is (a) physically harmful to either party (b) illegal (c) harmful to the general public (or any group of people you care to name).

Now, if the wife didn't consent to some or all of these rules and he forced her to go along with them, that's wrong. If he assaulted her (and the police are saying he did), that's wrong. Ditto for the sexual assaults. And if he did any of these things, obviously, he broke the law. But the rules themselves and the document itself are (for people like me, anyway) not all that unusual and certainly nothing to get alarmed about.
posted by Clay201 at 11:47 AM on February 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Protocols of the Elders of Awesome writes "orthogonality is really weird."


Follow the links. I'm quoting some comments from another thread, trying to point out that this story too would be "unbelievable" if not for the contact -- and the guy's lawyer is claiming the contract is forged.
posted by orthogonality at 11:47 AM on February 18, 2006


That contract is gonna go down really well with the jury.
posted by sour cream at 11:48 AM on February 18, 2006


Whether she signed it or not, such a contract is basically one of slavery, or at best servitude, isn't it? Which is to say, not legally binding, right? I mean, even if you signed such a document, which she says she didn't, it's not like he can use it as an affirmative defense in court, right? He couldn't get away with a "she asked foragreed to it" defense, could he?
posted by Gator at 11:49 AM on February 18, 2006


scody : "You know, I'd type more in response to this, but I really need to go find my jaw, which just dropped out of my head and bounced under the desk."

Does it get any better if I tell you that a lot of men out there who would happily sign such a contract and live by it. I mean heterosexual, employed, church-going men. And if you adapt the dressing rules then you get an even larger number of men...
posted by nkyad at 11:49 AM on February 18, 2006


During My Time you -
WILL:
1) Be subservient, submissive, and totally obedient.
2) To do what you are asked, when you are asked, exactly how you are asked.
3) Be cheerful and adoring towards me.


The whole thing's disturbing, but it's that third point that shows his disconnect with reality. It's not enough for him to control her every action, his real need is to control her internal emotional state. If she's someone who wants to participate in this contract, that point is superfluous. And if she's not, it's pointless.
posted by scalefree at 11:51 AM on February 18, 2006


Gator: "Which is to say, not legally binding, right?"

Seems like it will be up to the jury to decide whether the binding was legal.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:52 AM on February 18, 2006


What I found striking was the bureaucratic nature of the document (initial here please) and the almost prissy tone. "You will not be condescending to, or about, me."
And, you know, that 12-year-old girl's font. What, no unicorns and rainbows?
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:52 AM on February 18, 2006


Clay201 writes "I challenge you to point to even one sentence in this document which calls for behavior that is (a) physically harmful to either party (b) illegal (c) harmful to the general public (or any group of people you care to name). "
You are also noncompliant if you start something and can not [sic] or will not finish, even if you state that you are in pain or something huts. If you don't have enough GBD's [sic] to cover the loss, then you will be tied to the bed and I will do whatever I wish to you. This will continue every night until you are ready to be compliance [sic], at which time you will need to apologize and explain how you are ready to be my sex slave again.
According to court records, Frey's wife told police her husband tied her to their bed with a rope and sexually assaulted her at least three times. Frey's wife also provided police with an alleged "marriage contract," which was entitled "Contract of Wifely Expectations." ....

Frey's wife said she never signed the contract.
posted by orthogonality at 11:53 AM on February 18, 2006


But she knew what she was getting into with a man who would present her with such a document.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2006


I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd create/agree to such a contract (perhaps one for men from women could legislate romantic gifts, phone calls, etc). Because dating/sex/relationships is hard and confusing, and the idea of taking the mystery out of it is sort of appealing. But, then again, it also sort of ruins the fun, so I think I'll pass.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


That's the most outlandish thing I've ever read.
posted by Meagan at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2006


Contracts signed under duress are invalid.

The kiddy porn, at least, probably ensures that he won't get custody.

Protocols: I think you need to read the thread ortho linked to. That said, it probably wasn't the best thing to do.
posted by dhartung at 11:57 AM on February 18, 2006


Gator:

You're absolutely right about the legality of such a contract. According to lawyers I've spoken with and articles I've read on the subject, a master-slave (or top-bottom or whatever term you prefer) contract could, concievably, have some arrangments that would be legally enforceable. But these would usually be things that the top would provide for the bottom (say, a place to live or financial support) rather than services the bottom was expected to perform (I'll leave examples of this to your imagination).
posted by Clay201 at 11:58 AM on February 18, 2006


Another piece of information: the contract itself is not supposed to be a legally binding, it is just part of the "role playing" (and I am NOT talking about D&D v3.5).

It's Raining Florence Henderson : "Seems like it will be up to the jury to decide whether the binding was legal."

Or the bondage...
posted by nkyad at 12:02 PM on February 18, 2006


ohhh.......... shit.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:02 PM on February 18, 2006


Clay201: Now, if the wife didn't consent to some or all of these rules and he forced her to go along with them, that's wrong. If he assaulted her (and the police are saying he did), that's wrong. Ditto for the sexual assaults. And if he did any of these things, obviously, he broke the law.

Clay, I think this is exactly why most of us were so repulsed by the contract -- given that she says she never signed it, etc., it doesn't appear to be a mutal, consenting BDSM contract, but rather a unilateral, coercive one. That's the horrifying thing to me.
posted by scody at 12:09 PM on February 18, 2006


I said:

I challenge you to point to even one sentence in this document which calls for behavior that is (a) physically harmful to either party....

orthogonality, in response, points to the section of the contract that reads:

You are also noncompliant if you start something and can not [sic] or will not finish, even if you state that you are in pain or something huts.

That would be a problem if he hadn't given her an out:

...it is not misbehavior to state that there are specific situations requested or expected of you that hurt or cause pain. It is also not misbehavior to suggest ways to avoid these specific situations, other than to propose not to do them[.]
posted by Clay201 at 12:09 PM on February 18, 2006


I think you're doing the BDSM community a disservice by aligning with this guy. There's no safety here. Her only safety mechanism is also a mechanism for control (i.e. GBDs can be taken away at his discretion). This document exceeds closed bedroom doors. If that makes me a puritan, so be it.
posted by Skwirl at 12:11 PM on February 18, 2006


nkyad, you could have made your first post without being an arse, you know. Even with a good amount of experience in dominant/submissive interaction, this guy comes across as extremely creepy. There's a hell of a difference between the dominant partner who's aware of the two-sided nature of their interaction with a sub and is aware that both are getting something they want out of said interaction, and the sort of person who could genuinely control another person against their will, force them to live in misery while waving a legally-binding contract (should such a thing be enforcable) and enjoy it.

This resembles the sort of contract/rules-list that comes up all the time in relatively long-term sub/dom relationships, and can be pretty damn hot when both parties are aware, even if not actively thinking about the fact, that it's not binding and lasts as long as they want it to. The difference is that those relationships are (or should be) entered into consensually - it sounds as if this guy sprung these rules on a woman who'd entered a binding relationship with him on very different terms, presumably those of a marriage where both parties were equal.

If this contract really was part of a role-play or scene, then fair enough. It's certainly not fair that it be presented as something the guy wanted to be permanent and serious. I'm just really not convinced that that's what the situation is.
posted by terpsichoria at 12:11 PM on February 18, 2006


No, the scary part is that they apparently have kids, go to church, and live in Iowa.

Hmm, paging David Lynch?
posted by tweak at 12:14 PM on February 18, 2006


Clay201 writes "It is also not misbehavior to suggest ways to avoid these specific situations, other than to propose not to do them[.]"


Read that more closely: She says, "the ass-fucking hurts".

He says "well, you can propose a way to avoid that 'other than to propose not to do' it.

So it hurts, and she can ask him to try some more lube, but not to stop. And if she complains, she loses "GBDs" until it's "ok" for him to tie her to the bed and rape her any way he pleases.

But the take-home point, Clay, is that she never consented to this shit.

Consensual BDSM is all well and good (although frankly it gets tiresome hearing "lifestyle" folks go on and on about their exploits, believe me, nobody else finds your perversion du jour as fascinating as you do, guys and girls), but this wasn't that.
posted by orthogonality at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2006


Right, except that if you don't realize that something will cause pain, and then you start getting busy, asking to stop is considered misbehavior. I read this as, "if you start something, you're going to finish it, regardless of your wellbeing." The contract does state that negotiations can occur only at certain times -- and one of those times isn't when you're in the middle of meeing your wifely duites. The "out" you've highlighted, Clay, isn't a "safe word" situation.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2006


Skwirl:

I think you're doing the BDSM community a disservice by aligning with this guy.

I'm sorry... why would you think I am "aligning with this guy"? I said earlier that, assuming he did what they're alleging (and I rather suspect he did), he's both wrong and in violation of the law. I don't see how that's "aligning" with him.
posted by Clay201 at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2006


Jesus, this is a terrible story. It reads closely to situations of trafficking and debt bondage, where one party enters a contractual situation with another that she cannot stop. Sadly, I suspect that what makes this situation memorable isn't that it's so uncommon but that the contract is available for us to see. The problem here is the construction of a contract without an exit clause.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:20 PM on February 18, 2006


A guy who knows what he wants.
posted by HTuttle at 12:22 PM on February 18, 2006


wow, it is so refreshing to see so many people explaining precisely what is and is not sexy, or what is and is not acceptable bedroom procedure.

nkyad is right, this contract is precisely the kind of thing that some women and/or men would love to sign. It is a formal statement that says "You are mine. You do what I say, here's what happens to you if you don't." The reason it is so codified and rigid is because part of the fun for some people involved in submissive roles is specifically disobeying the rules and accepting your punishment. If you know what you're in for, you can help make the experience better for yourself by choosing a rule-break that merits a preferred punishment.

For doms, these contracts are an open and honest way to say what kind of dom behavior you prefer and can be expected to engage in.

This isn't creepy, as a document. The question is what went wrong, why is this coming up now, and where did their communication break down enough that the authorities needed to be involved. It is entirely possible that this guy took something that was supposed to be fun and consensual and turned it into a nightmare. Unfortunately, the law doesn't differentiate between the two and the distinction is nearly impossible to prove. But if he did, then THAT'S what's fucked up, not the document itself.

Rapists and abusive husbands don't make documents like these with cute little nymph and bondage letters heading every paragraph. They just rape and beat their wives. It bears considering that if the guy drew this up, showed it to her, and she didn't immediately get the fuck out of dodge, that there's a reason for that.
posted by shmegegge at 12:22 PM on February 18, 2006


On one hand, this guy is clearly an asshole of Gorean proportions. On the other hand, she saw this agreement (even if as she says, she didn't sign it), and married him anyway without demanding a (re)negotiation of terms.

That being said, non-consentual sex is the definition of rape and it seems likely that's what happened.
posted by ilsa at 12:26 PM on February 18, 2006


But the take-home point, Clay, is that she never consented to this shit.

The take home point, ortho, is that you have no idea what she consented to. You also have no idea what actually happened between them. It is entirely possible that this guy took something or many things way too far. If so, hey he'll go to jail, hopefully. But it specifically says in the document that it's not a contract, but a set of rules. The fact that she didn't sign it doesn't say anything. She wasn't meant to. Like I said, we don't actually know what we agreed to. For all we know, she caught him cheating and is taking advantage of their relationship to put him in jail instead of just getting a divorce. It's entirely possible that she even broke a rule one time specifically so that he would tie her to the bed and have his way with her. People engage in rape fantasies sometimes, because their fantasies. This is why crimes that happen in private bedrooms are so difficult to investigate and prosecute and defend. So much of it depends on the preconceptions of the judge, jury, officers and attorneys that an objective ruling or presentation of evidence is damn near impossible.

I think a lot of people in here would do well to put aside their own preferences and comforts before assuming they know what happened between these two people.

I mean, hell, haven't any of you watched law and order?
posted by shmegegge at 12:29 PM on February 18, 2006


It bears considering that if the guy drew this up, showed it to her, and she didn't immediately get the fuck out of dodge, that there's a reason for that.

I disagree. I think this community is significantly more familiar with the fetish community than with victims of trafficking, but I think this situation strongly resembles the latter. Who knows what methods of intimidation he used to keep her from the police. I think it bears considering that she was only able to alert the authorities when he was already in custody and didn't fear reprisal.

We won't know until the trial. However, if she had been repeatedly tied down and raped, I understand why she would be worried about seeking help.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:29 PM on February 18, 2006


we don't actually know what we agreed to

what she agreed to. whoops.
posted by shmegegge at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2006


allen.spaulding:

I agree completely. my point is to say that it's a mistake to assume that we know what happened. A lot of people are saying the existence of the document is all they need to know that this guy is fucked up and doing fucked up shit to the woman, and that's not a safe assumption. Very little is safe to assume in this case. What you suggest is entirely possible, and if it's the case I sincerely hope the guy gets punished to the fullest extent of the law.

also, I agree with Maven, above, when she said that the rules fail to establish a suitable safe word exit situation. You also said this, I think. That's a definite problem. I kind of wonder if it's the result of people new to accepting their fetishes going overboard or the husband legitimately looking for validations for rape and abuse.
posted by shmegegge at 12:34 PM on February 18, 2006


terpsichoria : "nkyad, you could have made your first post without being an arse, you know. Even with a good amount of experience in dominant/submissive interaction, this guy comes across as extremely creepy. There's a hell of a difference between the dominant partner who's aware of the two-sided nature of their interaction with a sub and is aware that both are getting something they want out of said interaction, and the sort of person who could genuinely control another person against their will, force them to live in misery while waving a legally-binding contract (should such a thing be enforcable) and enjoy it."

Creepy? No. Very childish? Yes, in my opinion - the whole point here rests on who is telling the truth. As I said, if she married him thinking she going into a normal weeding just to be made a sex-slave without her consent, nail him, lock him out because he is a danger to any woman who cross paths with him. On the other hand, if she otherwise wanted to play the game and now decided it would be a good lever in divorce the picture changes, doesn't it?

Skwirl : "I think you're doing the BDSM community a disservice by aligning with this guy. There's no safety here. Her only safety mechanism is also a mechanism for control (i.e. GBDs can be taken away at his discretion). This document exceeds closed bedroom doors. If that makes me a puritan, so be it."
First, as Clay said, no one is "aligning with this guy".

I noticed there is no safeguards included in the contract - as someone else said, the contract is quite childish in form and style. It looks like he wrote it when he was 14. I also agree it's loose language ("I will do whatever I wish to you") is very dangerous is such context. But there is very little information to understand what happened. but then again, as I said before, there are plenty of educated, informed people who would sign it.

On preview, what shmegegge said.
posted by nkyad at 12:37 PM on February 18, 2006


shmegegge - Yeah, I have no idea what the motivation behind this was, whether she was ever into it, whether it was ever enforced in the first place, and so on. I don't really care, other than out of some weird concern about the kind of people in the world. This is a job for the courts to figure out, which I imagine will be hard. It's weird that some people are so quick to jump to defend either of them, personally, I think the normal response would just to feel sad. No relationship should have to end this way.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:39 PM on February 18, 2006


orthogonality writes: So it hurts, and she can ask him to try some more lube, but not to stop. And if she complains, she loses "GBDs" until it's "ok" for him to tie her to the bed and rape her any way he pleases.

You've got half a point here. By giving himself authority to do anything he wants, he does open up the possibility that she could be hurt. But the contract also gives her the right to suggest ways of doing things that won't harm her; assuming this right is respected, this could serve to keep things within the realm of safe and sane.

If I were the bottom negotiating this contract, I wouldn't agree to it unless it included a list of hard limits for both parties. Or, if it included a set of clauses like the ones under discussion, I'd insist on some clarifications. But is there anything here that is necessarily bad, provided both top and bottom consent to it? No, I don't think so.

However, orth, you definitely get points for actually looking at the contract to find what's wrong with it instead of just saying "Eww, gross. Throw the bastard in jail."

And of course you're absolutely correct that the "take home point" is that she didn't consent to any of this. [Note to shmegegge: I'm just assuming for the sake of discussion that she didn't consent. You're absolutely correct that we don't know whether she did or didn't. We don't even have a statement from her on this, or any, subject]. It's not the oral sex requirements or the pubic hair shaving or the naked sleeping that make all of this so awful. It's the lack of consent, just as you said. But the lack of consent is nowhere to be seen in this document. Nor is the consent, for that matter.
posted by Clay201 at 12:45 PM on February 18, 2006


IANALP, but I do not pick up a dom/sub vibe when I read this thing. My infantile pervert sense is ringing off the hook, though.

"... there are plenty of educated, informed people who would sign it."
Really? Folks I know would steer clear of this guy, as the contract clearly makes him out to be at best a wannabe poseur, at worst a liability.
Any experienced BDSM person would laugh in this guy's face if he gave them this document; it reads almost like a parody of an actual D/s contract, or a little kid or lame-o's idea of how the real thing would read. If he's played with anyone but himself - and his poor wife, who, for all we know, could have humored him until things became intolerable - I'd be surprised.
Strictly n00b.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:48 PM on February 18, 2006


Rapists and abusive husbands don't make documents like these with cute little nymph and bondage letters heading every paragraph. They just rape and beat their wives. It bears considering that if the guy drew this up, showed it to her, and she didn't immediately get the fuck out of dodge, that there's a reason for that.

Good grief. Spent any time in a Domestic Violence court? Hearing cases of victims of both genders with children and how difficult it is to just leave? Seen the Brame case in Tacoma, WA where the victim did everything she was supposed to and still was murdered, by the chief of police, in front of her children? "Why didn't she just get out of Dodge?" is naive, and also a sad comment on how little people understand the dynamics of abuse inside a marriage, how little the law can really protect a victim, and how difficult it is to just leave, especially when children are involved.
posted by onegreeneye at 1:04 PM on February 18, 2006


you're misinterpreting my statement.

I'm saying that it's telling that she didn't get out of dodge at the beginning of the relationship. There's no information available as to when this document was drawn up and shown to the woman. It is entirely possible that this was something they agreed to a long time ago. The mention of kids could very easily be an assumption that they will one day have children, to account for that possibility.

The point is that she could easily have agreed to this set of rules, early in their relationship, and happily lived by them for years. I've already said that it's entirely possible that the man also just came up with a series of rules he liked and proceeded to use them to abuse and rape his wife. If that's the case, then may he go to jail forever.

But how many domestic rapists and spousal abusers are you aware of that draw up sets of rules like this? I'm not aware of any. Usually they just beat and rape their wives and don't bother making up rules for when they're allowed to.

No, it seems more likely that once upon a time she agreed to these rules. If that's the case (IF) then there's a lot more to this trial than just some guy with a weird set of rules who abuses his wife. That's all I'm saying.
posted by shmegegge at 1:21 PM on February 18, 2006


another possibility: 2 people, married with kids, discover an affinity in each other for dom/sub play. they, as first timers at this, come up with a set of rules (poorly designed) and agree to them. Sure, it would have been much harder for her to leave if she didn't like the rules, but it also would have been much easier to change the rules in a way she liked.

Out of all the possible ways this set of rules came into their lives, the one where he just presents her with a paper 10 years or so into their marriage and says "this is how it is now" is simply the least likely, near as I can see.
posted by shmegegge at 1:25 PM on February 18, 2006


terpsichoria made my point much better than I did. Sorry, I really meant defending the document, as we understand it, was a disservice. If it's taken out of context and they have a real, no-holds-barred safety, then so be it.

I believe consent means every act, every time without duress or fear of retaliation. Therefore, you cannot sign away your consent. In several places, this document attempts to do just that.

In long-term relationships, consent is often implied. But it stops the nanosecond the other person says no.
posted by Skwirl at 1:28 PM on February 18, 2006


But how many domestic rapists and spousal abusers are you aware of that draw up sets of rules like this? I'm not aware of any.

This is my favorite fallacy. "Well I can't imagine it, so it certainly can't be possible!"
posted by odinsdream at 1:51 PM on February 18, 2006


shmegegge: But how many domestic rapists and spousal abusers are you aware of that draw up sets of rules like this? I'm not aware of any.

There was a notorious case in California back in the 1980s where this guy and his wife kidnapped a hitchhiker and held her as a sex slave for many years. They kept her locked up in a compartment underneath their waterbed. They had a "contract" a lot like this one and made the poor girl sign it. Needless to say, the jury was not impressed by the contract.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:52 PM on February 18, 2006


Peeping_thomist: yep, that was the Colleen Stan case (incidentally, I don't know why the Crime Library article doesn't use her real name when she's been public for years about it).
posted by scody at 2:02 PM on February 18, 2006


shmegegge writes "But it specifically says in the document that it's not a contract, but a set of rules. The fact that she didn't sign it doesn't say anything. She wasn't meant to. Like I said, we don't actually know what we agreed to."


shmegegge, when you read the document, did you miss the four places set aside (yet still empty) for her initials?


Or were you too distracted, coming up with excuses to give aid and comfort to as rapist?

Or were you just too busy furiously masturbating?
posted by orthogonality at 2:03 PM on February 18, 2006


I think there are a few female BSDM fans out there who would sign something like this. I remember reading a website by a couple who lived sort of like this. The woman was very fat and ugly I remember. No idea what to google to find it.

The fucked-upness of the document alone is dependant on a lot of things, IMO, including the disposition of the wife. I don't know.

The other charges are a lot more important.
posted by delmoi at 2:06 PM on February 18, 2006


Or were you just too busy furiously masturbating?

Ortho, we really don't know what these people agreed too, the fact that that particular version of the contract isn't initialed, doesn't mean she didn't agree some other way, of course it doesn't mean that she did either.

I kind of find it hard to believe that some guy would just write up a document like that unless he had a pretty good idea that his wife wouldn't freak out, but maybe this guy is a special case.
posted by delmoi at 2:10 PM on February 18, 2006


But the lack of consent is nowhere to be seen in this document. Nor is the consent, for that matter.

I don't see a signature anywhere. Nor do I see initials in the sections marked "Initials_____".
posted by exlotuseater at 2:12 PM on February 18, 2006


oops. ortho got to it first.
posted by exlotuseater at 2:13 PM on February 18, 2006


All skirts no lower then (sic) two inches below the knee (unless it's for Church)

See - rapists aren't so bad.
posted by matkline at 2:15 PM on February 18, 2006


Any defense of this document (such as this person) is a defense of spousal abuse, both physical and psychological---and to excuse this guy is sickening. If saying this makes me naive and puritan, so be it.
posted by jayder at 2:15 PM on February 18, 2006


orthogonality : "shmegegge, when you read the document, did you miss the four places set aside (yet still empty) for her initials?
""


Oh ortho, she signed on the screen, but for some reason it didn't merged into the document. Gimme a freaking break - where have you read shmegegge "coming up with excuses to give aid and comfort to as rapist"? Have you met the guy and the wife? Are you a prosecutor in the case, speaking from undisclosed evidence? Or have you just read what everybody else read and already tried and sentenced the guy because he is a freak anyway? For all you know, the bloody contract could well be some joke he found in the Internet and downloaded, couldn't it?
posted by nkyad at 2:18 PM on February 18, 2006


jayder : "Any defense of this document (such as this person) is a defense of spousal abuse, both physical and psychological---and to excuse this guy is sickening. If saying this makes me naive and puritan, so be it."

Naive, no. Puritan, maybe. You are speaking on the assumption all the wife said is true. In this case the guy is a rapist who should go to jail. What I and some others tried to convey is that there are people who do this kind of thing consensually, nothing else. I was not defendiding the guy or the wife, just pointing that the existence of this contract may mean a lot or nothing.
posted by nkyad at 2:23 PM on February 18, 2006


nkyad writes "For all you know, the bloody contract could well be some joke he found in the Internet and downloaded, couldn't it?"

What a coincidence that "some joke he downloaded" just happened to have his name and his wife's name on it, and referred to their kids.
posted by orthogonality at 2:24 PM on February 18, 2006


For all you know, the bloody contract could well be some joke he found in the Internet and downloaded, couldn't it?

I think we can all agree that that font is no joke.
posted by scody at 2:25 PM on February 18, 2006


There was a notorious case in California back in the 1980s where this guy and his wife kidnapped a hitchhiker and held her as a sex slave for many years. They kept her locked up in a compartment underneath their waterbed. They had a "contract" a lot like this one and made the poor girl sign it. Needless to say, the jury was not impressed by the contract.

Which shows just how fucked up a husband and wife's relationship can be, I mean agreeing to kidnap and rape a woman together is pretty messed up, right? And that happens every once in a while.

So it certainly isn't outside the realm of possible that a woman would sign something like this.

The way I would suspect a contract like this (the one on the TSG) would arise would be a man and a woman find they have an affinity for this sort of thing, and a contract is drawn up, but doesn't include stuff about safe words because they don't know about them, or something. They're just joking around and neither one seriously expects to live by it.

Then, one of two things happen: 1) the husband gets to into it, takes it too far, and the result is the woman flees and the guy gets charged with rape, kidnapping, etc. or 2) The wife just gets pissed off at the guy, decided to leave and uses the contract to prove some outlandish story.

Which one happened? I don't know.
posted by delmoi at 2:26 PM on February 18, 2006


Or, 3) the guy's a sick fuck who figures his wife will be afraid to leave him and he can force her into this.
posted by orthogonality at 2:30 PM on February 18, 2006


I mean agreeing to kidnap and rape a woman together is pretty messed up, right?

sidenote: considering the wife was apparently/allegedly trying to avoid the amount of time she was being beaten/raped/tortured by her husband, I'm not so sure it's just a matter of two people having equal say in "agreeing." "Sure, honey, you want me to stop applying electrodes to your vulva while whipping you? Fine. All you have to do is help me find someone else to do it to."
posted by scody at 2:33 PM on February 18, 2006


jayder wrote: Any defense of this document (such as this person) is a defense of spousal abuse.

Care to defend this statement?

I mean, you've just said that I'm defending spousal abuse (something I loathe more than cockroaches). I think you should back up this accusation with some sort of evidence or argument.
posted by Clay201 at 2:38 PM on February 18, 2006


scody: I'm reading more about that case now, I hadn't know much about it earlier. I figured it was similar to that case in canada, the one with the Laura Preppon movie about it.
posted by delmoi at 2:41 PM on February 18, 2006


scody, yes, it was the Colleen Stan case. I read the book written by the prosecutor in her case, _Perfect Victim_. It was amazing stuff. It's easy to speculate about this stuff in the abstract, but when you read the full details, the picture becomes much, much clearer. And your point about the wife agreeing to the kidnap under duress was on target: she had been seriously abused. The culprit in the Stans case was a seriously messed-up individual.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:42 PM on February 18, 2006


this movie aobut Karla Homolka
posted by delmoi at 2:42 PM on February 18, 2006


But does he have a Powerpoint presentation?
posted by iamck at 3:01 PM on February 18, 2006


if i were someone with the last name "Frey," i'd be looking over my shoulder for the smoking gun.
posted by Hat Maui at 3:14 PM on February 18, 2006


Good lord, how could someone turn this creep's case into some sort of instructional point about BDSM culture? Did you miss the parts about alleged sexual abuse and kidnapping? What do you think, she was consenting and happy all along and then one day decided she was bored and called the cops?
posted by Nelson at 3:31 PM on February 18, 2006


Yeah, every dom/sub contract should come with a powerpoint presentation.
posted by bonehead at 3:42 PM on February 18, 2006


Yeah, every dom/sub contract should come with a powerpoint presentation.

what do you think employee orientation is?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:47 PM on February 18, 2006


So what does that make HR?
posted by bonehead at 3:47 PM on February 18, 2006


The kiddy porn, at least, probably ensures that he won't get custody.
posted by dhartung at 11:57 AM PST on February 18 [!]


Nope!
"In Georgia, you can kill your child's mother and still be a worthy parent."
posted by onegreeneye at 3:48 PM on February 18, 2006


At least he's up front about being a psycho jerk. Most of the time they don't tell you.
posted by fungible at 4:11 PM on February 18, 2006


You know, onegreeneye, Georgia is pretty fucked up, but that article is from 1989.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:26 PM on February 18, 2006


Medieval Maven: If the attitude of the bench has changed in GA since the, great. I doubt it has, however. It's no different in WA or, I'd imagine, many other states.
posted by onegreeneye at 4:32 PM on February 18, 2006


So what does that make HR?
posted by bonehead at 6:47 PM EST on February 18 [!]


the gimp?
posted by Busithoth at 4:34 PM on February 18, 2006


I think the idea of dragging this document into the affair is stupid. It's a BDSM contract which appears to have been mutually agreed to. It's not that different from many others I have seen and I am aware of, and I think it's important to realize that these contracts do not just reflect the wishes of the dom, but of the sub in question, too. The essence of such contracts is willing consent.

I think for her to drag this non-binding, essentially meaningless contract into court as proof of her abuse at the hands of her husband is stupid. I suspect the contract was created with her knowledge and general approval, and that it's likely that she did approve it, or at least approve of his efforts to create it, even if she disapproved of some of the details.

That said... there are a lot of really fucked up doms out there, and this one appears to have been a real asshole who would not respect her wishes and who took things too far.

The trial should stick to the substance of the charges and ignore this dreck.

In short, she may be a victim of kidnapping and non-consentual abuse, but she's also being dishonest, disingenuous, and is acting like the ultimate bratty sub. She deserves -- and would probably appreciate -- a good spanking, but I venture to guess that nobody in the scene would want to give one to her anymore.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:44 PM on February 18, 2006


Can't wait to see Frey's face when he's presented with a 'Contract of Cellmately Expectations.'
posted by Football Bat at 4:48 PM on February 18, 2006


Orthogonality writes:

"The truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

My gut feeling is [...] that the stories she's telling are exaggerations (and falsehoods) in order to get a measure of perceived justice."

Tell you what: I don't think the truth is somewhere in the middle in this case. I think the guy's completely innocent of the charges against him (except for the child porn charges). No middle. Complete innocence. After all, that's how the law works: he is innocent until proven guilty.

In the other thread, I said that my gut tells me that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I realize now that this was completely unfair to the cops who are under investigation. They are innocent. Shame on me for giving that mother of three the benefit of the doubt.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:55 PM on February 18, 2006


It's a BDSM contract which appears to have been mutually agreed to.

What, exactly, are you basing that on? As has been pointed out many times, the contract has neither been signed anywhere nor initialed in any of the spaces provided. I find no evidence anywhere of any sort of mutual agreement.

I agree with shemgegge and Clay201 about the nature of the contract, and that we know absolutely nothing about the circumstances leading to these charges. It may not float everyone's boat, but such relationships are not "sick" if both adults are willing participants in such agreements. Some people like that stuff and the contract, in and of itself, doesn't make the guy a freak or a rapist if his wife was just as eager to be his sex slave as he was to have her, even if he comes across as a little bratty, juvenile, and asshattish.

If this contract was unexpected, unappreciated, and unwelcome, that's an entirely different story. She says that is the case, and why you think she's lying and the contract appears to be "mutually agreed to" is beyond me.
posted by Meredith at 4:57 PM on February 18, 2006


Meredith: such relationships are not "sick" if both adults are willing participants in such agreements

And you know this how?

There's a consensus that such consensual relationships are no business of the state, but why should anyone agree with you that such relationships are not sick? Are you assuming that nothing consensual can be sick? Haven't you ever seen two fucked up people consensually fuck each other up worse? Happens all the time... Of course, on your assumptions, that UNPOSSIBLE!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:38 PM on February 18, 2006


If a guy I was dating presented me with a contract like this, I'd be running far far away.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:40 PM on February 18, 2006


I'm Puritan and naive, I'll admit that right up front. This shit freaks me out. But that said, lemme ask a question to those with more than a passing familiarity with the BDSM culture:

What's the difference between a legitimate assault and one that takes place within the desired confines of a relationship?

If I'm a submissive and a dom slugs me, and I like it or feel I deserve it or I broke the "rules" or whatever, is it not then assault? And here I'm not referring to the specifics of this case or whatever, but: Is it possible that law enforcement might categorize something as abuse or an assault that I or you might not because, well, I broke the rules, so nevermind the anal bleeding or the black eye or whatever?
posted by kgasmart at 5:55 PM on February 18, 2006


"As has been pointed out many times, the contract has neither been signed anywhere nor initialed in any of the spaces provided. I find no evidence anywhere of any sort of mutual agreement."

I also said that the contract was "non-binding" and "essentially meaningless", and that "I suspect the contract was created with her knowledge and general approval, and that it's likely that she did approve it, or at least approve of his efforts to create it, even if she disapproved of some of the details."

Why did I say that? Because, BDSM contracts are always meticulously negotiated between partners. If it ain't carefully negotiated and consentual, it ain't BDSM... it's just abuse.

Does this mean that this wasn't abuse? No. It could be. But if it was, then it had absolutely nothing to do with this piece of paper.

Here is a couple who had been together for nine years, and had obviously had sex before. Are you suggesting that it took this long for her to suddenly notice that he was kinky, and he all the sudden pushed that upon her? Possible, admittedly, but hardly likely.

So, want my theory of what was the most likely to have happened?

1> They had a somewhat kinky relationship for years, with clear signs of dominant behavior from the husband, in which the wife was submissive, either because of her own interest, or simply because that is what her husband wanted her to do.

2> He downloaded pornography and BDSM information from the internet, and was an active internet user. This explains why he had pornography on the computer, some of which was arguably underage, as police claim. That said, there is no clear evidence yet that he was guilty of anything here other than being a highly sexed pervert with a wide interest in sexual deviance.

3> Their BDSM relationship was evolving towards the creation of a submissive BDSM contract -- one that they probably both knew about and tenatively approved of, at least in the creation process, even if it was not signed.

4> This article indicates that "Ruth Frey told Council Bluffs police her husband was angry with her for taking their two daughters to church." In other words, somewhere along the line she found religion, and started to view BDSM and her lifestyle with her husband as being sinful. She wanted to get away from it, but also felt trapped. Sexual and BDSM acts that he previously expected from her, and that she willingly gave him before started becoming obligatory, and from there, unwanted. To make matters worse, if the two did have some kind of general BDSM arrangement -- written or not -- it is entirely possible that he saw this behavior as meriting punishment or harsher treatment.

Really, unless they have a lot more hard evidence rather than he-said-she-said, I can't see the sense in this guy facing the potential for life imprisonment.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:08 PM on February 18, 2006


In other words, somewhere along the line she found religion, and started to view BDSM and her lifestyle with her husband as being sinful.

And if she did, and she told her husband to please stop, and he "saw this behavior as meriting punishment or harsher treatment," and he meted out that treatment... I mean, it's the whole "no means no" thing, even though "no" previously meant "yes." Yes?
posted by kgasmart at 6:15 PM on February 18, 2006


That contract reads like Google Adsense's Terms and Conditions.
posted by Peter H at 6:19 PM on February 18, 2006


"What's the difference between a legitimate assault and one that takes place within the desired confines of a relationship?"

Consent, of course. That said, when you get a situation where a couple practicing BDSM is in the process of separation, and has a messy divorce, there is a very real risk that previous consentual behavior will be repackaged by one partner as sexual assault and abuse.

What the lawyers in the case are going to have to fight over here will ultimately be a matter of reputation. Both parties will probably be thoroughly trashed by the time this is over, but my concern is that the release of this unsigned contract could be horribly prejudicial, and that the resulting public outcry will lead the state prosecutors to railroad the husband. This could easily happen, as it *IS* Iowa, after all, near Omaha. Judges don't understand and won't take kindly to the contract in question.

"If I'm a submissive and a dom slugs me, and I like it or feel I deserve it or I broke the "rules" or whatever, is it not then assault?"

Not if it is consentual and you don't press charges, no. Even if you do press charges later, if it can be shown that the punch was consentual, then there was no crime comitted. That's not always easy to do, however.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:23 PM on February 18, 2006


MetaFilter: Navel-to-anus.
posted by scarabic at 6:27 PM on February 18, 2006


Well, I dunno, I think the worst part of how the entire sex-positive movement turned out is that you can talk about sex all you want, you just can't talk critically about sex. The taboo against saying, "your kink is not ok" has managed to squish a lot of critical discussion. I certainly could say that I've been there, done that, and come out with the conclusion that I don't buy "Safe, Sane and Consensual" as sufficient for defining good sexual behavior.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:31 PM on February 18, 2006


I honestly don't see anything that indicates that this was a consenual thing for the wife. As to her not leaving sooner, psychological intimidation is extremely common in cases of spousal abuse, and it can be very hard for the wife to get up the courage to leave. I have no way of knowing whether this was ever merely a kinky consenual thing, but I just don't see any sign that it was, or that he even thought it was, given the tone of the "agreement". What disturbs me the most is that he seemed to not like her to go anywhere. He really seemed to want her ioslated from her surroundings, which rings a lot of warning bells. I could see the sexual and obedience stuff as being some kind of kinky game, but the isolating nature of some of these rules looks a lot like abuse.
posted by unreason at 6:37 PM on February 18, 2006


orthogonality:

everything you've convinced yourself about this guy is entirely possible. That being said, that doesn't mean it's fact and incontrovertible. He could very well have done everything his wife has accused him of, and if so then I hope he will be justly punished, as I have said multiple times already. That being said, not one thing you've said in this entire thread has shown even the slightest evidence of reason or logic. Further, nothing you've said has disproven my point or added any weight or clarity to your own.

You're being an utter douchebag... again. Stop being such an asshole.

to the guy who claimed I was employing a logical fallacy:

it would be a fallacy if I claimed that it proved the guy didn't do what he was accused of. I did not claim that. I claimed that there was reason to question the accusation because it's exceedingly rare to find documents such as this involved in rape and domestic abuse cases. My ignorance of such documents was not meant to imply that they don't exist, but just to say that it's rare enough that I, for one, haven't heard of them. The existance of such a document at all SHOULD inspire investigators to wonder at the nature of their relationship. For every one of these things that exists in a rape or domestic abuse situation, I would guess that there are somewhere between dozens and hundreds that exist in consensual bdsm relationships. I'm speculating, yes, but I'm only arguing that there's more to the case than an open and shut "sicko rape" situation. There's no fallacy in that logic, because it allows for error and only asks for more open mindedness in peoples' reactions.
posted by shmegegge at 6:40 PM on February 18, 2006


Where are you getting all that from insomnia_lj?

Want my theory of what happened?

1> He coerced her into having BDSM sex against her will

2> He downloaded repulsively hardcore child porn from the internet.

3> He foisted this contract on her with threats of violence.

4> Given that he mentions church in the contract, it seems likely that both were church-goers from the off, but that Sunday he wanted to do the missus up the bum instead of praying.

That's not actually my theory of what happened, but it's just as plausible when all we have to go on is a couple of brief articles and the unsigned contract. (Though it would appear from the article you linked that the police do have hard evidence of the child porn, and that he hasn't entered a not guilty plea to those charges.)
posted by jack_mo at 6:41 PM on February 18, 2006


kgasmart: that's why bdsm relationships SHOULD use safewords and have a clearly outlined avenue for the sub to refuse any activity without question. if this document is real, then it shows that either a) the guy is fucked in the head and wanted to justify rape, subjugation and abuse OR b) he's an amateur or newcomer at the bdsm game, as was his wife, and they made a very unfortunate and costly error.

there might be other explanations, obviously, but those are the 2 most likely that come to my mind.
posted by shmegegge at 6:45 PM on February 18, 2006


So is this the thread where we all proclaim someone innocent or guilty despite having almost no concrete information?
posted by Bugbread at 6:52 PM on February 18, 2006


I certainly could say that I've been there, done that, and come out with the conclusion that I don't buy "Safe, Sane and Consensual" as sufficient for defining good sexual behavior.

How do you define "good" sexual behavior then? The attitude of people like you has made people "want to be bad", its entirely self-defeating.

As for these two, I have no idea what happened between them, and I think the best thing to do would be not to speculate. *shrugs*
posted by delmoi at 7:00 PM on February 18, 2006


"And if she did, and she told her husband to please stop, and he "saw this behavior as meriting punishment or harsher treatment," and he meted out that treatment... I mean, it's the whole "no means no" thing, even though "no" previously meant "yes." Yes?"

Agreed. It's a very unclear situation. There very well could've been assault that took place, but the question of consent for that assault could be quite unclear. If the defence can show that she did have a BDSM relationship with the defendant, then there's also the risk of her being seen as "asking for it" by the jury. If he's allowed to mount a strong defense, it could be a pretty ugly trial that results in "justifiable" sexual assault. If he has a bad lawyer, he could wind up being railroaded for having a BDSM lifestyle.

One thing that I found disturbing about the BDSM "contract" is that it doesn't mention a safeword. That said, a safeword may already have been a part of their relationship, if they had an existing BDSM arrangement, and may not need to be part of such an agreement. There are also some people into BDSM who don't use safewords, though many within the scene argue that it's a pretty stupid thing to do.

I believe this one is an original and unique BDSM "contract"... which is perhaps a good argument that both partners knew of and invested a bit of thought into the making of it, even if both partners may not have approved of it.

It should be pointed out that the terms of this contract are actually not that unusual for BDSM contracts. Compare it to these exerpts from other such contracts, and it seems kinda liberal.

"The slave shall keep her body available for the use of her Master at all times. In addition, the slave agrees that her Master possesses the right to determine whether others can use her body and what use they may put it to. . . The slave agrees that severe punishment may be assessed for any infraction of the letter or spirit of their contract, and will accept the correction gratefully."

"The slave agrees to submit completely to the master in all ways. There are no boundaries of place, time, or situation in which the slave may willfully refuse to obey the directive of the master without risking punishment..."

In many cases, these contracts aren't merely embellished with fonts, such as in the example we've seen in the FPP, but are actually done in a very ornate and ritualistic manner. I've heard of such contracts being bound in special leather books, for instance, and drawn up on handmade paper, signed in blood, etc. Lots of people in the BDSM world take these contracts very seriously, and live very sexually fulfilled lives based on their terms.

(FYI - while I'm hardly sexually vanilla, I don't have any such arrangement with either of my partners. I do know several people who do have master/slave contracts, however, and I know a lot of very knowledgeable, well-known people in the BDSM scene, esp. in San Francisco and Portland.)

Welcome, squares, to the exciting and terrifying world of master/slave contracts!
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:02 PM on February 18, 2006


bugbread: The child porn puts the noose around this bastard's neck, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:03 PM on February 18, 2006


Welcome, squares, to the exciting and terrifying world of master/slave contracts!

Welcome, insomnia_smug, to the surprisingly complex world where many of us without master/slave contracts are still fully aware of their existence and are more than happy to be respectful of other people's consensual sex lives!
posted by scody at 7:12 PM on February 18, 2006


Linking to an actual contract shows how amateurish and insipid Frey's is in comparison, insomnia. He's just an asshole who tried to co-opt the superficial trappings of the BDSM lifestyle to justify/excuse his abuse.

Contracts are fine, swell, great - to paraphrase Homer Simpson and the chore hat, no one's questioning the contract - but rather Frey's motivation for introducing and enforcing its very one-sided terms.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:12 PM on February 18, 2006


Alvy: Yeah, I probably should have said "innocent or guilty of all counts", sorry.
posted by Bugbread at 7:14 PM on February 18, 2006


scody writes "Welcome, insomnia_smug, to the surprisingly complex world where many of us without master/slave contracts are still fully aware of their existence and are more than happy to be respectful of other people's consensual sex lives!"

Scody, I think being one of those people fully aware of their existence means that you are not a square, hence the comment wasn't addressed at you. (I may be reading too much into it, though).
posted by Bugbread at 7:15 PM on February 18, 2006


insomnia Ij: Welcome, squares, to the exciting and terrifying world of master/slave contracts!

If you want an exciting and terrifying contract, try Catholic marriage, where there's no such thing as a safeword. Safewords are for pussies.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:17 PM on February 18, 2006


Too true, peeping_Thomist: "BDSM relationships are all alike; every Catholic marriage is terrifying in its own way."

Not to be picking on the leather people; it just seems like every Dom/sub enthusiast I encounter winds up reminding me of that guy you met who doesn't own a television, and boy, does he want you to know about it!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:22 PM on February 18, 2006


Welcome, squares, to the exciting and terrifying world of master/slave contracts!

Well, whatever floats your boat. I don't personally subscribe to the notion that the utter fulfillment of one's sexual fantasties is a necessity for a happy life, because there's ultimately a tremendous amount of selfishness involved - fine if you've got a "consenting" thing going, but then I think this case illustrates how those lines can be blurred, and how one person's pursuit of sexual fulfillment may infringe upon another person's well-being.

I don't begrudge anyone their carefully considered lifestyle, but I do tend to wonder if there aren't those who go along with the things we've read about here because it's expected of them or they feel they have no choice, and whether such a thing might ever dawn upon a dominant partner who may ultimately be so fixated upon his or her own satisfaction that they might not ever wonder about any potential misgivings on the part of their partner.
posted by kgasmart at 7:24 PM on February 18, 2006


try Catholic marriage, where there's no such thing as a safeword.

yeah, and when you get out of that contract, you get damned to hell!
posted by scody at 7:27 PM on February 18, 2006


This just in : Everyone with the last name Frey will get into trouble for things they've written.
posted by grex at 7:37 PM on February 18, 2006


grex: getting into trouble might not be so unpleasant if you get to make several million dollars first.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:40 PM on February 18, 2006


Not to be picking on the leather people; it just seems like every Dom/sub enthusiast I encounter winds up reminding me of that guy you met who doesn't own a television, and boy, does he want you to know about it!

That makes perfect sense, as the people who aren't concerned with your knowledge of their viewing habits or sex lives aren't likely to tell you.
posted by cytherea at 7:41 PM on February 18, 2006


Those with their panties in a bunch about this poor soul facing felony time for the rape of his wife will be happy to know that it's for the kidnapping and kiddie porn that he's facing felony time. The domestic battery offense date is on a different and earlier date than the attempted kidnapping, and the domestic battery charge appears to be filed as a misdemeanor per the court's website public info.
posted by onegreeneye at 7:43 PM on February 18, 2006


Ah, Metafilter, where people speculate both ways on negligible information in order to confirm their biases!

"I like BDSM, so obviously, she's a lying bitch!"

"I think this is fucked up, so he should go to prison forever!"

"You're a square douchebag!"

"You're countancing abuse!"
posted by klangklangston at 7:51 PM on February 18, 2006


peeping_Thomist: I thought I made it pretty clear by the couple of sentences following : such relationships are not "sick" if both adults are willing participants in such agreements, that two people who are able to fulfill their sexual fantasies with each other in a mutually respectful and consentual way doesn't make them "freaks" or "sickos." I said:

Some people like that stuff and the contract, in and of itself, doesn't make the guy a freak or a rapist if his wife was just as eager to be his sex slave as he was to have her, even if he comes across as a little bratty, juvenile, and asshattish.

Are you arguing with me for the sake of arguing? Of course I have known fucked up people who make each other worse by being together, but I thought it was obvious that is not what I meant. Not everyone likes it vanilla, and I believe those people who are willing to fulfill each others sexual desires while catering to their own, is a pretty healthy way to get off as long as respect and consideration are key. What's fucked up about that?
posted by Meredith at 7:55 PM on February 18, 2006


Interesting: The court file also shows (online) that his bond for allegedly raping his wife on one date and attempting to kidnap her on another, is $10K. But the bond for 12 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor is $6,500. And, he's gone back to live with his parents. I hope they have parental controls on their computer.
posted by onegreeneye at 7:56 PM on February 18, 2006


"I honestly don't see anything that indicates that this was a consenual thing for the wife. . . I have no way of knowing whether this was ever merely a kinky consenual thing, but I just don't see any sign that it was, or that he even thought it was, given the tone of the "agreement".

You don't have any familiarity with the master / slave BDSM mindset, so I'm surprised that you can arbitarily judge that the contract was non-consentual.

Do you honestly think that a sane husband goes up to a wife of nine years who has never expressed a strong interest in submission and kink, surprising her with a master/slave contract for Valentine's Day, or perhaps as an anniversary present?

Sure, it's entirely possible, but is it likely? No. He would probably be too ashamed to openly admit to such a desire if he felt that his churchgoing wife would be repelled by it.

There are several clues in the contract that indicate to me that it wasn't formed in some kind of one-sided void, as suggested by you.

1> The contract talks about "special events" that she is to "dress up for" to his approval. This, to me, seems to indicate a high likelihood that the two have attended BDSM parties, fetish events, taken part in public sceneing, or possible sex parties in the past. This is perhaps further indicated by his odd statement about how she should be naked at bedtime if they go somewhere to stay with others, or have other guests over as company.

2> The contract specifically mentions special purchase of sex toys and sexy attire on birthdays and anniversaries. That, to me, indicates a likelihood of an established non-vanilla relationship.

3> The whole section on taking nude photos reminds me of many things I have seen before in the BDSM scene. There are many journals on LJ (and elsewhere...) which are created by submissives on order from their masters, where they anonymously share news about their sex lives, often share pictures, and act out on their exhibitionist tendencies. Likewise, there are many non-private BDSM diaries which are kept which contain such things. These diaries are often seen as a way for the submissive to process their feelings. Keep in mind that the sexually submissive mindset is often very fragile, based in many cases on a background of sexual abuse. They often have a lot of issues to work out, and diaries are one way they can do this, and deal with their dark desires.

Really, I know submissives who would love to have a relationship such as this with a loving master. It's wrong to look at one of these contracts and see only horrible abuse, rather than two people getting what they want and need to feel good.

The contracts that I cited in my prior comment clearly indicate that the desire is there amongst both dominants and submissives for these arrangements. To look at one such contract without any real knowledge of the powerful, consentual, and ideally loving exchange of power going on here and call it a likely sign of abuse is simply a sign of not knowing much about the subject in question.

In any event, I don't think this "contract" should mean a damn thing in court. It's not evidence of abuse. On first glance amongst those who know nothing of such things, the contract appears to be horribly prejudicial, but if it is handled by a skilled defense team capable of communicating to the jury that this is, infact, pretty normal behavior in some BDSM relationships, then it could even indicate to the jury that the two were engaged in a pretty kinky relationship whether the contract was signed or not, and it could be used to justify any sexual misconduct on his part, whether he was guilty or not.

So, really, it can cut both ways. I think it would be best for it to not be entered into evidence, frankly.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:57 PM on February 18, 2006


The contract talks about "special events" that she is to "dress up for" to his approval. This, to me, seems to indicate a high likelihood that the two have attended BDSM parties, fetish events, taken part in public sceneing, or possible sex parties in the past.

Whoa, that's a biiiig stretch. Domestic violence victims often describe rules their abusers set out defining
who they're allowed to talk to, when they can use the phone, how they're to speak in public and specifically how they are to dress, especially when this could reflect upon the abuser, i.e., going out to parties, work get togethers, family gatherings, etc. These rules often go so far as to dictate how to wear makeup, whether to wear nail polish, approval of hairdo, whether or not to smoke, etc. Isolation followed by increasingly controlling behavior are fairly typical of most domestic violence situations, and don't necessarily by any means indicate participation in "BDSM parties and fetish events."
posted by onegreeneye at 8:15 PM on February 18, 2006


Which, once again, leads to "this contract could mean really normal BDSM thing A, or really normal domestic abuse thing B, so there isn't enough evidence to call it one way or the other".
posted by Bugbread at 8:23 PM on February 18, 2006


Delia Day had a contract. She also shot her husband in the chest with a shotgun.
posted by klangklangston at 8:27 PM on February 18, 2006


"Linking to an actual contract shows how amateurish and insipid Frey's is in comparison, insomnia."

The contracts I linked to *weren't* actual contracts, though. They were the BDSM equivalent of "form letters" -- examples of what they feel that an ideal contract should look like. It's like comparing a picture perfect "sample resume" against a real one. A real resume might be much more informative in some ways, but it is also likely to be less professional and to have more errors.

In any event, the guy isn't being charged with being a kinky, misogynist pig the last I looked. He either abused his wife or he did not. I would feel much better about the charges if they were backed up with DNA evidence from a rape kit.

As for the half dozen child porn charges, it sounds to me like he probably had a large porn collection on his computer -- many kinksters do -- and had his computer seized by the police, who found a half dozen pics of minors on it, amongst everything else. That's not much really, and could be entirely accidental. Last I heard, "hot teens" was a pretty popular search online, but there's no guarantee that you're going to get pictures of someone over 18 or not.

It seems odd and inane to get charged for molestering an innocent yoot whose picture could be stuck in your browser caches, especially when they are probably an adult by now.

My wife and I have a few porn vids, but I can't say that either of us asked how old the stars were at the time we bought the movies.

"I don't personally subscribe to the notion that the utter fulfillment of one's sexual fantasties is a necessity for a happy life..."

It may seem odd for me to say this, given that I live with my wife and my girlfriend, but I completely agree with you. A lot of those I know who are kinky or who are interested in multiple relationships have problems with the mainstream poly and BDSM scenes, as those who are well known and most active are... well... "well known" and "most active".

It's hard for them to identify with a scene that is often profligate and flighty, without a lot of emphasis on loving relationships, when what they really want is a reliable, dependable source of love... albeit in a slightly different flavor than others might prefer. I think it's the same, really, whether you're talking about the gay community, the lesbian community, the bisexual community, or just about any other sex-oriented scene you could define.

So, no... for me and a whole buncha people who live "deviant lifestyles", it's much more about the love than the sex.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:34 PM on February 18, 2006


Delia Day had a contract. She also shot her husband in the chest with a shotgun.
posted by klangklangston at 8:27 PM PST on February 18 [!]


Oh! Bratty! Wait...does that earn good or bad time in the BDSM world?
posted by onegreeneye at 8:37 PM on February 18, 2006


Not being allowed to laugh at this is like not being allowed to laugh at Mormon underwear.
posted by johngoren at 8:40 PM on February 18, 2006


Domestic violence victims often describe rules their abusers set out defining
who they're allowed to talk to... Isolation followed by increasingly controlling behavior are fairly typical of most domestic violence situations...
posted by onegreeneye at 8:15 PM PST on February 18 [!]

Woah, thats a BROAD Generalaization. My wife is controlling and likes to tell me who I can call on the phone, and tries to tell me how to dress when we go out. I ignore her and aside from her childish attitude, whining and acting like I dont care about her because I dont give into her childish demands, I dont necessarily find her to be abusive and violent.

Its the abuse and the violence that make me find her abusive and violent.

Point being, just because someone is a little childish and controlling, doesnt make them violent. This guy seems like he never grew up, and his wife seemed ok with it for a while. She got tired of his crap or he went to far, and now she is bringing up all of his weirdness to further her case.
posted by subaruwrx at 8:43 PM on February 18, 2006


"The contract talks about "special events" that she is to "dress up for" to his approval. This, to me, seems to indicate a high likelihood that the two have attended BDSM parties, fetish events. . .

Whoa, that's a biiiig stretch."


Not if they're kinky, it ain't! It's de rigeur that she dress sexily.

I only get involved in dressing my wife up to go out somewhere occasionally. Those times, however, have mostly been for fetish-related events.

If you're marginally kinky and go out with someone to such events, it's usually a matter of going in fetishware, leather, or lacing them into a corset. It's fun and sexy.

If you're in a master/slave relationship, however, you may want to bring them on a leash and collar.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:59 PM on February 18, 2006


Want to know a big stretch? Proposing a serious BDSM contract to someone who has no interest at all in a submissive, kinky relationship and whose only extracurricular interest is taking their kids to church on Sunday... with or without panties.

It's almost like uptight hetrosexuals thinking that just because someone is gay, they want to salivate all over your body and bugger your bum.

Odds are, the evil perverts in question would rather find other evil perverts to get jiggy with.
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:14 PM on February 18, 2006


Yeah, I'm going to break the 'thou shalt not criticize someone else's fetish' commandment of the sex-positive religion and say that if you get off on dominating another human being then yes, you are fucked up.*

* That being a value judgment made by me. That said, I wouldn't want to befriend you.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:47 PM on February 18, 2006


MetaFilter: Maybe the bitch was asking for it.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:48 PM on February 18, 2006


subaruwrx: The point was to illustrate that his controlling behavior, penned in his contract, mirrors that which occurs in domestic violence relationships (and thus the battery, kidnapping and rape allegations eventually) vs. it instead being "Ah ha!" perfect evidence that the wife was involved in the BDSM community, the latter seeming to me a stretch. Your equating the allegations of rape and kidnapping on different occassions with the accused being immature and the victim being conniving ...well I cant even begin to address that.
posted by onegreeneye at 9:58 PM on February 18, 2006


The child porn puts the noose around this bastard's neck, as far as I'm concerned.

Remember that he hasn't been convicted of downloading the child porn yet, either. For all we know his wife may have downloaded the porn to set him up, perhaps as part of a design to assure for herself custody of the children.
posted by soiled cowboy at 9:59 PM on February 18, 2006


this?

this is a very very self righteous thread, right now.
posted by shmegegge at 10:36 PM on February 18, 2006


there are plenty of educated, informed people who would sign it.

Yeah, but are they mentally healthy going into it? Are some of them victims of abuse? What kind of "consent" can someone who has been abused in the past meaningfully give?

Lots of people in the BDSM world take these contracts very seriously, and live very sexually fulfilled lives based on their terms.

So you're saying they all live happily ever after? That the bottoms who sign contracts saying they will always be 100% available to do whatever, whenever for their masters never ever have a moment when they don't feel like it, and are not permitted to say "no"?

Keep in mind that the sexually submissive mindset is often very fragile, based in many cases on a background of sexual abuse.

Ding! Ding! Getting these people to agree to be someone's sexual toy is not the same as dealing with an emotionally / sexually "whole" person who enters into such a thing willingly.

I have some really icky personal history in these realms which colors my interpretation. Let's just say I can't believe some of the shit I "agreed" to when I was manipulated into it. And no, there were no safewords. Any limits I tried to set were mocked mightily ("oh, she won't do X? hahaha, okay, you won't have to do X, but I'll make you do Y and Z, which are much more humiliating!"). Luckily I wised up and got the hell out, but not everyone is so strong. Don't kid yourself that they're *all* living wonderful fulfilling sex lives. Some of them are just recapitulating abuse from when they were younger, and it's incredibly unhealthy, and leads to further mental and emotional damage.

In other words: people can superficially "agree" or "go along with" things that are really, horribly bad for them, that damage them, and that they regret mightily.

People who indicate they want that level of control over another human being (such as that seen in the contract in this case) are not fit to be a part of civilized society, imho. Seeking to remove another person's free agency is a sign of being a monster. Why is an agreement or contract necessary if the person really wants it? If it's freely chosen, and consent is revocable later, then no contract is needed.
posted by beth at 10:42 PM on February 18, 2006


In other words, to me, the necessity of a contract implies that the beneficiary (the top) is afraid the other person will change their mind later, and wants to nail them down so they can't get out of what they agreed to. What a load of bullshit. People change their minds all the time, and reasonable people respect others enough to let them revoke their consent. Only control freaks are afraid of this happening.
posted by beth at 10:44 PM on February 18, 2006


That's fair enough, soiled cowboy.

But I don't care about "For all we know". All we know is very little indeed; if we only commented on what we knew, there's be a lot less than 147 comments here.

I am saying that I take a dim view of a man who attempts to impose what I think are ludicrous and abusive rules on a spouse who obviously no longer wishes to be controlled in such a manner, apparently pursued her when she attempted to escape him, and who, on top of it all, is accused of participating in child exploitation.

The 'Well, who can keep track of all their porn?' doesn't fly with me; I've DLed my share of mistitled smut that proved to be quite disturbing, and I didn't leave it to linger on my hard drive for very long. I can see no reason why a healthy person would, unless they were participating in a police investigation. Mister Frey doesn't strike me as the Dudley Doright-type.

I have no problem with people enjoying and exploring alternative sexual lifestyles (Alternative in name only; there truly is nothing new under the sun, and BDSM is no exception). I have a problem when deviants try to hide their perversions and cruelty behind legitimate practices and cultural phenomena. If Frey ever was an actual member of that subculture(I doubt it, and once again, I think Frey's contract is proof. Aside from being incredbly detailed as to what he wants, the thing is a mess - if he was as serious about the lifestyle as he is about his own gratification, it would read as something more than a glorified wishlist.), he ceased to be when he tried to keep his wife under his thumb, despite the fact that she had moved on and didn't want to play anymore. He should have found a new toy.

Frankly, I don't have to be fair or evenhanded - in fact, when it comes to child abuse, it's impossible for me to be so.

Fuck him; he gives good perverts a bad name.

And cytherea: could you please take my comments more literally? It was a tongue in cheek response to insomnia's somewhat smug "Squares" remark, and how a lot of the folks I've met who "play" are slightly less exciting than watching an accountant paint a fence.

In short, the dude with the ball gag in his mouth has four right angles too.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:45 PM on February 18, 2006


Beth basically said in a reasoned, thoughtful way what I was trying to say in a harsh, concise way.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:57 PM on February 18, 2006


Regarding insomnia_lj's repeated point-missing...

Even if this couple's relationship had included BDSM, there's a big difference between a BDSM relationship and full-out Total Power Exchange, which seems to be the kind of relationship this guy wanted, based on his homegrown contract.

His wife apparently wasn't interested in that type of relationship, as we can infer based on the fact that she's pressing charges against him. Since he appears to have tried to enforce the terms of a total power exchange on her without her consent, as we may infer based on the kidnapping charge... well, that would be abuse, whether or not their relationship had ever included BDSM in the past.
posted by Zettai at 11:11 PM on February 18, 2006


In any event, the guy isn't being charged with being a kinky, misogynist pig the last I looked. He either abused his wife or he did not. I would feel much better about the charges if they were backed up with DNA evidence from a rape kit.

That dosn't even make any sense. No one is arguing that they never had sex.
posted by delmoi at 12:15 AM on February 19, 2006


Thank you Zettai and Nelson for your clarity.

There are many variations of the codependent and abuser kind of relationship including folie a deux. Some women, like Karla Homolka, who are "sexuoerotically turned on only by a partner who has a predatory history of outrages perpetrated on others" are said to have hybristophilia.

Albert Einstein also attempted to impose a controlling marriage contract on his first wife, Mileva Maric. The following is taken from the book by Marie-France Hirigoyen,
Stalking The Soul. It is the contract Einstein wrote for his wife to follow.

"A. You will see that :
1.My underwear and sheets are kept in order
2.I will be served three meals a day in my office.
3.My bedroom and office will always be well maintained and my worktable will be left untouched by anyone but me.
B.You will renounce any personal relationship with me except when necessary to keep up appearances. In particular you will not demand that:
1.I sit with you at home.
2.I travel with you.
C.You will explicitly promise to obey the following stipulations:
1.You will not expect any affection from me and you will not reproach me for it.
2.You will answer immediately when I speak to you.
3.You will leave my room and office immediately and without protest when I should so ask.
4. You will promise not to diparage me, with words or deeds, in the eyes of the children."
posted by nickyskye at 12:21 AM on February 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


From what I have read on Metafilter, it seems that there's something about BDSM culture that clouds the judgment of its adherents and makes them defend clear-cut cases of abuse as just misunderstood manifestations of BDSM.
posted by jayder at 12:30 AM on February 19, 2006


Damn! If I wasn't so new, I would have cornered the market on a 150+ comment post!

ARRRRRRGH!

Crawls back into his cave...
posted by roguescout at 12:37 AM on February 19, 2006


"What kind of "consent" can someone who has been abused in the past meaningfully give?"

The same that any non-minor can give. I agree to X because it's what I think I like/want. Last I heard, there wasn't a mandatory test for the ability to make up one's mind.

"So you're saying they all live happily ever after?"

No. Absolutely not. As I made abundantly clear here, submissives can sometimes face abuse if they're so obsessed about their desires that they fail to take proper care who their partners are.

Ultimately, people make their own decisions, and deal with the repercussions. You seem to be suggesting that we need some kind of nanny state for those judged incapable of deciding what they want. I know plenty of submissives who have gone through therapy for things in the past, and others who have had a healthy sex life without abuse, but who simply want to give away permission to someone they trust to let go. Not all power exchange is based on abuse, though admittedly some is.

The ultimate truth though is that *everyone* is permitted to say no. If they're with a partner who doesn't respect their wishes, however, they're being abused. If they choose to stay with them, they're choosing to be a partner to that abuse.

"Don't kid yourself that they're *all* living wonderful fulfilling sex lives. Some of them are just recapitulating abuse from when they were younger, and it's incredibly unhealthy, and leads to further mental and emotional damage."

I completely agree with you. That said, sometimes these people meet others who love them and respect them, who can both satisfy their desires and help them to heal and recover, and become stronger people in the process. I've seen both the positive and the negative of these kinds of relationships. Not everyone who is sexually dominant is a predator. Some are really incredible people.

"People who indicate they want that level of control over another human being . . . are not fit to be a part of civilized society, imho."

And yet, they're all around you. I have known my share of frat boys who have felt no mercy about getting women "panty peeling" drunk, and having them and their buddies use them. That's 100% pure American rape of the most disgusting variety, and yet it was revoltingly common when I was in college. I knew someone who pledged a frat and turned a blind eye to such things, until he heard the stories of his entire fraternity doing it to his girlfriend.

Do you really feel that it's fair to judge those who engage in consentual, loving relationships equally with those who do such things?

"Seeking to remove another person's free agency is a sign of being a monster."

...but helping them to relinquish contro, relax, and give in to their fantasies and desires can be a blessing, IF it is consentual.

Most of my sexual experience is neither dominant or submissive, though I have been both with partners who were interested. It is a rare thing for me to find a woman who I can be submissive to, but to be able to have someone you can trust so totally that you can give that kind of control over your body... that can be a very incredible, liberating gift. It's also a very emotionally powerful thing, and it puts the submissive in a vulnerable situation, as they can be highly reliant on the satisfaction and pleasure of their dom(me).

D&S works best and tends to bring the most happiness when the sub(be) has a strong enough personality to make responsible decisions as to who they give that degree of control to... but, of course, it can go very badly too. Most of the time, though, the real failing of a D/S relationship isn't that the person is abusive, but simply that they aren't capable/qualified to effectively do the power exchange at the heart of such relationships... that they don't want a dominant relationship as much as they merely want a sexual relationship.

"Why is an agreement or contract necessary if the person really wants it? If it's freely chosen, and consent is revocable later, then no contract is needed."

Many people in BDSM relationships don't have contracts. That said, many people in BDSM relationships -- both doms and subs -- *WANT* a contract because it allows the sub the freedom to say, "Yes, I love you and trust you. Do with me / let me do with you as you will/I see fit, knowing that I want to please you and trusting that you will please me as I desire."

In most cases, the person really controlling a D/S relationship aren't the doms at all, but the subs. They ultimately have the choice and the say over what happens or does not happen in a healthy D/S relationship.

"the necessity of a contract implies that the beneficiary (the top) is afraid the other person will change their mind later, and wants to nail them down so they can't get out of what they agreed to."

I disagree, as I clarified before. It serves a definite purpose for both dom and sub. That said, I *DO* agree that people change their minds all the time, and that reasonable people respect others enough to let them revoke their consent.

"All we know is very little indeed."

Indeed. What we know, however, is highly prejudicial and largely irrelevant to the provable facts of the matter.

"I am saying that I take a dim view of a man who attempts to impose what I think are ludicrous and abusive rules on a spouse who obviously no longer wishes to be controlled in such a manner, apparently pursued her when she attempted to escape him, and who, on top of it all, is accused of participating in child exploitation."

And yet, this person you take a dim view of is a straw man, until real evidence comes forward to show this is the case. It's a person the prosecutors in question would no doubt like you to believe exists, but whether he does or not is a matter that hasn't been determined, with little hard evidence to support the existence of.

"The 'Well, who can keep track of all their porn?' doesn't fly with me; I've DLed my share of mistitled smut that proved to be quite disturbing, and I didn't leave it to linger on my hard drive for very long."

And yet, in most cases it's still there. The very act that you downloaded that mistitled smut, no matter whether it is mislabeled or not, means that you are a child molester in the eyes of the state, especially if it strengthens their total case against you.

The game is that they throw the entire book against you, and you cop a plea. They save money, and still satisfy the public that dangerous predators like you are behind bars. And if you aren't actually a dangerous predator, well...

"Mister Frey doesn't strike me as the Dudley Doright-type."

He doesn't strike me as any particular type, because I know very little about him other than the fact that he's into BDSM, browses the web, and occasionally likes porn.

"I have a problem when deviants try to hide their perversions and cruelty behind legitimate practices and cultural phenomena."

Me too, if they victimize others. That hasn't been established, however.

"Fuck him; he gives good perverts a bad name."

...even if he's potentially just like them?! Perhaps all good perverts should use a degausser on their hard drive, and not marry someone who becomes a born again Christian.

Based on what you've said, I wouldn't allow you to be a juror if I were on the defense. Your beliefs would make you too prejudiced to fairly judge my client.

"Even if this couple's relationship had included BDSM, there's a big difference between a BDSM relationship and full-out Total Power Exchange..."

Admittedly there is, but are you saying that total power exchange is somehow unacceptable?

"His wife apparently wasn't interested in that type of relationship, as we can infer based on the fact that she's pressing charges against him."

You can't reasonably infer that. You can infer that she is no longer interested in that kind of relationship, but not that she wasn't previously interested in or a party to it.

I'm not saying there wasn't abuse, nor am I trying to defend the actions of predators, but the contract in itself means nothing.

It ain't good evidence of abuse. It is, infact, the kind of evidence that, if applied in a geeralized and prejudicial manner, could potentially lead to the conviction of many innocent people in the future.

What better way to divorce your dom(me) and guarantee that you get custody of the kids after a bad breakup than to send them to prison?
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:47 AM on February 19, 2006


Which, once again, leads to "this contract could mean really normal BDSM thing A, or really normal domestic abuse thing B, so there isn't enough evidence to call it one way or the other".

You know, this seems to describe the sides being chosen here and I just think it's a false distinction that allows people like insomnia to talk about BDSM (and others to criticize) without realizing that the two are probably overlapping in this instance.

If she didn't have a safeword/exit ability, and if she was forced to perform some of these acts described in the contract when she no longer consented, then this is marital rape, spousal abuse, kidnapping, and so on. And it's probably a pretty normal occurance within the BDSM world.

insomnia, you're welcome to defend whatever has brought you happiness in the past, but you describe a lack of a safeword as a "pretty stupid thing to do." I call it a set-up for institutionalized rape. I think we're discussing the very point where normal BDSM and spousal abuse overlap.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:12 AM on February 19, 2006


Beth basically said in a reasoned, thoughtful way what I was trying to say in a harsh, concise way.

While still civil, Beth's arguments are anything but reasoned and thoughtful. They are, in fact, narrow minded and self righteous. Her argument is that anyone who would willingly agree to be the sub in a relationship is mentally ill, and anyone who wants to be a dom is a pervert. To hell with beth's argument, which is both ignorant and fallacious.
posted by shmegegge at 9:20 AM on February 19, 2006


allen.spaulding: well said. I agree, and would like to add that the distinction here is especially difficult for anyone to ever determine because it lies mostly in the mind of the wife, who may be maliciously falsely accusing her husband OR justifiably prosecuting him for a crime. It seems to me, as I and others have already said, that rigidly defending either side in this case is to assume one knows and is sure of far more than is possible given the information present.
posted by shmegegge at 9:22 AM on February 19, 2006




Nothing really new there, except perhaps for the suggestion that at the time of their marriage, the "contract" wasn't yet in play.
posted by Gator at 9:46 AM on February 19, 2006


i have been annoying my girlfriend all evening by working the phrase "vaginal slit" as much as I can into tonight's conversation.

It's psychological S&M.
posted by dydecker at 10:00 AM on February 19, 2006


And cytherea: could you please take my comments more literally?

I shall do my very best, Sir.
posted by cytherea at 10:01 AM on February 19, 2006


that's a good robot wife.
posted by dydecker at 10:13 AM on February 19, 2006


It's so disappointing to find comments in this post made by people I admired, only to find out they're narrow minded, self righteous asshats.

If you're opinion is that sex is only okay if it fits your definition of appropriate sex acts, than you're no better than the homophobes telling the GBLT community they're wrong and deviant because it's supposed to be man and woman only.

This was a sick man who perverted a lifestyle to further his sickness, married to a woman who may or may not be using the lifestyle to bring sensationalism to her cause.

The lifestyle itself is not what makes this case wrong.
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:51 AM on February 19, 2006


Try reading about the lifestyle by some of the people actually living it.

http://www.spankingblog.com // http://www.spankingbethie.com/blog his & her blogs

http://creativespankedwife.blogspot.com couple blog wife mostly writes)

http://www.collarpurple.com couple blog wife mostly writes)

http://www.bondageblog.com

http://no-undies.net couple blog

http://burblings.typepad.com // http://randomness.typepad.com husband and wife blogs

http://bliatz.typepad.com // http://urbanstud.typepad.com/urbanstud husband and wife blogs

http://submissivereflections.blogspot.com newlywed and pregnant couple blog written by wife husband appears in comments)

http://mistressmatisse.blogspot.com pro-domme

http://www.luvbight.com/adult couple photoblog husband snaps, wife models)
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:59 AM on February 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


FunkyHelix, I agree. The thing that skeeves me out about it is that there is very little in the way of consent going on, and as has been previously stated, there is a lack of any safety mechanism in this contract. Maybe it existed outside the contract? Who knows? Certainly not us. And, this is something I don't really know, and maybe someone can elaborate, but are all Dom/Sub contracts this one-sided? I gather they're typically more precise, but this seems to be all about the husband -- again, I'm not sure if this is normal for this type of contract. Given what I've learned about legit BDSM, it seems that this guy was at best a n00b at at worst, an abusive asshole.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:01 AM on February 19, 2006


It depends. There's play partners, dom/subs, and master/slaves. What the contract looks like depends on the negotiation between those involved in the relationship.

From what we're given, there doesn't seem to have been negotiation beforehand. So yes, he could have been new to it.

But it could also be just a case of an abusive asshole looking for new tools to be abusive.

Hammers are tools, but you can use them as weapons.
posted by FunkyHelix at 11:13 AM on February 19, 2006


Nuclear weapons are also tools and I wouldn't want anyone to play with them either. BDSM without a safeword is something for which I just can't find support. If you want to call legitimized rape without the ability to leave (and in this case, without consent) a lifestyle, go right ahead, but you're cheapening those who engage in BDSM with limits.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2006


allen.spaulding: Very well said.
posted by onegreeneye at 11:28 AM on February 19, 2006


People who like to play cops and robbers don't need to defend the real robbers.

People who like to play as sick fucks and victims are doing the real victims a disservice by defending the real sick fucks.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:32 AM on February 19, 2006


delmoi: How do you define "good" sexual behavior then? The attitude of people like you has made people "want to be bad", its entirely self-defeating.

As for these two, I have no idea what happened between them, and I think the best thing to do would be not to speculate. *shrugs*


I think that given how I've been very limited about my position and experience in regards to BDSM, that the best thing to do would be not to speculate hrm?

My concern is that the BDSM community is loaded with double-meanings. BDSM should be consensual in the form of well defined out-of-scene space for discussion, mutually agreed limits, and safewords. But at the same time, I've experienced a strong amount of pressure that the ideal slave shouldn't need these things. IME there are lots of cases both within and outside of BDSM relationships where two people can "consent" but still be on shaky ethical ground.

But you've provided another example about what really bothers me is that you can't even ask questions about the "Safe, Sane and Consensual" dogma? I don't buy the claim that because a behavior is private, that it's above criticism and question. After all, we can question what doctors and lawyers do behind client privilege, we can question voting choices in spite of the privacy of the voting both, and we can question people's musical tastes in this age of private headphone MP3 players.

insomnia_lj: No. Absolutely not. As I made abundantly clear here, submissives can sometimes face abuse if they're so obsessed about their desires that they fail to take proper care who their partners are.

Which is a refreshing admission that IMO does not happen frequently or not.

Ultimately, people make their own decisions, and deal with the repercussions. You seem to be suggesting that we need some kind of nanny state for those judged incapable of deciding what they want.

You know something, this is another example of what really bugs me. There is of course a middle ground between "it's none of your business behind the bedroom door" and "nanny state." It is open and frank discussion and criticism of sexual behavior and sexuality. It is possible to both argue that most forms of sexual behavior should be legal, and argue that some choices in sexual behavior are problematic on a moral or ethical level.

There is a wide gap between what is legal, and what is good. Much of this discussion falls into that gap.

FunkyHelix: If you're opinion is that sex is only okay if it fits your definition of appropriate sex acts, than you're no better than the homophobes telling the GBLT community they're wrong and deviant because it's supposed to be man and woman only.

Well, I came out as Bi in the early 90s, and I seem to remember a heck of a lot of discussion inside and outside of the community regarding sexual ethics in relationship to the AIDS crisis. It was possible to talk about things like barebacking, anonymous parters, risk management, and how much you choose to tell or not tell. At that time it was possible to take the position that "anything goes between consenting adults" was a weak justification in the face of an epidemic without getting hit in the face with a taboo against saying, "your kink is not ok."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:46 AM on February 19, 2006


"If she didn't have a safeword/exit ability, and if she was forced to perform some of these acts described in the contract when she no longer consented, then this is marital rape, spousal abuse, kidnapping, and so on."

Exactly. It's fun, until it's not fun anymore... stopping relies on three things:

1> Having a safe word.
2> Having a partner who will honor the safe word.
3> Being a strong enough person that you are willing to upset the dom by cancelling everything abruptly.

For this reason, it's possible that he was abusing her for quite some time, but didn't know it until she finally left and sought the help of the police. Does that make him an abuser, if he thought their behavior was consentual, and if she previously agreed to it? I don't think so.

The truth of the matter is probably somewhere in the middle. He's probably abusive. She probably bought into a submissive lifestyle to some degree -- enough for him to feel comfortable suggesting the contract to her.

But really, until the trial plays out, I hate to speculate too much. The guy is innocent until proven guilty, and people calling this guy a sicko and a perv and having their "five minute hate" session because he proposed a master/slave contract to his wife... well, that's stupid and highly prejudicial.

It's hard enough for someone like him to get a fair trial in the middle of Iowa, but for this contract to be released to the media and aired widely, both locally and nationally, with some pretty hateful terms in the headlines... my fear is that he'll find himself railroaded, and that it could cause a witch hunt against others in the BDSM community who freely enter in to such contracts.

Are you a Bible-thumping grandma who doesn't like the fact that her daughter and grandsons live in a house with "that man?" Are you a politician in the rural Midwest who got caught in a fundraising scandal, and needs an issue to drumbeat on and propose legislation for which will garner you some votes and win back the voters to your side?

Guess what? You've got a few new options to pursue that maybe you haven't thought of before.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:03 PM on February 19, 2006


insomnia_Ij: that's stupid and highly prejudicial.

Or maybe it's healthy people having a natural reaction to degeneracy and perversion. You apparently think consent makes morally OK whatever sick shit you do in your bedroom, but most people don't, never have, and never will see it that way. They may agree not to use the force of law to stop you from doing your perverted shit with your wife and girlfriend or whatever, but most people will always regard what you are doing as sick. Consent doesn't change that.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:42 PM on February 19, 2006


In the 40's and 50's, there were manuals designed to teach young women how to be good wives. Suggestions included: having dinner ready when hubby got home; making sure the children were clean and quiet upon his arrival; wearing makeup and clean dresses to greet him at the door; feeding the children earlier so you could devote all your attention to him and how his day went...etc. So here's a thought...Perhaps they were a church going couple who met while young (schoolmates, perhaps?) They dated an appropriate time, married young (early 20's is young). They had the appropriate number of children. He believed in the "husbandly" role of provider, she was subservient enough to think that was how it was supposed to be. They experimented privately, maybe she just went along with it, maybe she enjoyed it. As time goes on, and she perhaps gets more confidence as she gets older (lots of us do), he gets nervous that he's losing control and starts to clamp down. He thinks the only way to keep her under control is to control everything-the way she dresses, what she can and can't do, etc. She is maybe a stay-at-home-mom, maybe can't get a job where she can afford to just take the kids and leave. She feels trapped. So maybe he wasn't this way when they married, and just got steadily worse as the years passed. It's just a theory.
posted by annieb at 2:01 PM on February 19, 2006


I keep coming back to this thread hoping I'd understand something. insomnia_lj, where do you ever get the idea this case has anything to do with consensual BDSM? There's nothing in the news article about it that I can see. Are you making a guess based on how the contract reads to you? Because to me, it just reads like a really creepy thug who's abusing his wife and forcing her to do what he wants. Nothing here sounds like some clever role playing consensual kinkiness; it just sounds like an awful, awful man.

Did I miss something about how these people are actually in the scene?
posted by Nelson at 2:01 PM on February 19, 2006


1> Having a safe word.
2> Having a partner who will honor the safe word.


My safe word, or actually safe sentence would be "Knock it off or I'm going to bludgeon you to death in your sleep, motherfucker". I imagine most partners would honor that.
posted by Devils Slide at 2:12 PM on February 19, 2006


nickyskye : "Albert Einstein also attempted to impose a controlling marriage contract on his first wife, Mileva Maric. The following is taken from the book by Marie-France Hirigoyen,
"Stalking The Soul. It is the contract Einstein wrote for his wife to follow. "


The things one has to do to develop the whole infra-structure of modern physics...

jayder : "From what I have read on Metafilter, it seems that there's something about BDSM culture that clouds the judgment of its adherents and makes them defend clear-cut cases of abuse as just misunderstood manifestations of BDSM."

From what I have read in Metafilter, there is something about most people that clouds their text interpretation abilities when dealing with sexual themes - I haven't read any one person here really defending the guy (although I saw many implying he should already be in jail for life without parole or even judgement). What I saw was some people trying to explain why the existence of such a contract shouldn't be immediately interpreted as a clear indication of guilty. I also notice that every person who tried to point to this fact also made a clear exception that the man in question could well be a wife abuser but there was not enough evidence to make this call. And finally I also saw many displays of sexual intolerance, but those are probably well bellow the expected average for the population as a whole.
posted by nkyad at 2:34 PM on February 19, 2006


insomnia - I share your concern that this guy is being tried unfairly in the court of public opinion. However, there is one point on which we still disagree.

Does that make him an abuser, if he thought their behavior was consentual, and if she previously agreed to it? I don't think so.

I think it does make him an abuser. 100% This is the risk that you run if you engage in submission play without a safeword and you have to take the consequences for it. Even if it was consentual at the beginning, he was playing with fire by denying her an out. It may be possible to enter into a healthy relationship without a safeword or well-defined exit terms, but this is the risk and you can't have your cake and beat it too.

You've implied that some doms feel that a safeword ruins part of the pleasure and I'm sure you're right. But it's like getting your jollies out of playing Russian Roulette, it might be worth drawing a line here. I'm sure this is an issue that is often contested within various communities, BDSM being only one.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:35 PM on February 19, 2006


Or maybe it's healthy people having a natural reaction to degeneracy and perversion. You apparently think consent makes morally OK whatever sick shit you do in your bedroom, but most people don't, never have, and never will see it that way.

A healthy person is not so quick to condemn the moral choices another makes in their search for happiness and fulfillment.
posted by cytherea at 2:45 PM on February 19, 2006


Thomist: natural reaction degeneracy and perversion sick shit force of law wife and girlfriend most people always regard sick waffle waffle blah.

It's outright funny to see someone talk about the will of 'most people' with such certainty when the Western world's standards of acceptability (for what they're worth) have been moving rapidly toward privacy and acceptance of consensual acts for decades. Carrying around what appear to be such rigid notions of what constitutes degeneracy and perversion strikes me as nothing more than poor engagement with the changing world and society you live in. Let's check back when we're both old, and see which of us is confused and crying, wondering where the world left him behind.

With regard to the contract and the charges against this guy: in the end, we don't know which of them is lying or to what extent, but we can be certain at least one of them is. I'm not sure it's possible to make any sweeping statements based on this case, with so many open possibilities and so little evidence.
posted by terpsichoria at 3:03 PM on February 19, 2006


Space Coyote writes "People who like to play as sick fucks and victims are doing the real victims a disservice by defending the real sick fucks."

Well, from what I can see, there are two groups of people here.

1) People who think the wife is telling the absolute truth, and that the husband is therefore guilty.
2) People who think the wife might be telling the absolute truth, and that the husband might therefore be guilty, that the wife might be telling a partial truth, and the husband might therefore be partially guilty, and that the wife might not be telling the truth, and that the husband might therefore not be guilty.

I think position 2 makes a lot more sense than position 1, what with having almost no evidence to go on. Position 2 is just as much about condemning a potential sick fuck as not defending a potential non-sick fuck. I have a hard time understanding how people can overlook the first half so easily and frame position 2 as being the opposite of position 1. And, man, jury selection must be a bitch, considering how hard it is to find people even here on supposedly-intellectual-Mefi who understand that "Maybe guilty, maybe not guilty" does not mean "Definitely not guilty".
posted by Bugbread at 3:04 PM on February 19, 2006


I think that contract just freaks people out. And yes, I know, Dom/Sub and all that. Each to his/her own, but man, does it ever look tedious. I really can't think of a relationship as as dull as one where one person makes all the decisions and the other just gets off on obeying. BOORRRRRING. Just sayin'.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:22 PM on February 19, 2006


terpsichoria: the Western world's standards of acceptability (for what they're worth) have been moving rapidly toward privacy and acceptance of consensual acts for decades.

Privacy is a legal notion, not a moral one. The "acceptance" you're talking about is not anything remotely like approval. Most people in our society think that those who want to do what that contract describes are perverts, but that they must be legally allowed to do it because of the benefits of privacy for everyone else. You seem to be mistaking tolerance for approval. We've decided as a society to tolerate perverts.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:29 PM on February 19, 2006


I really wish you would refrain from speaking for other in our society.
posted by cytherea at 3:34 PM on February 19, 2006


others.
posted by cytherea at 3:36 PM on February 19, 2006


peeping_Thomist:

you are an ass. You have officially made the most vile and offensive comment in this discussion. The next time you feel the need to tell people what is acceptable sexual behavior based solely on your wholly uninformed opinion of what "most people" think and feel, please feel free to shut your ignorant fucking mouth instead. You are a syphilitic boil on the ass of this site, you abominable shit stain, you.
posted by shmegegge at 3:49 PM on February 19, 2006


shmegegge: The point I was making was about the difference between tolerance and acceptance. It seems pretty clear to me. Do you find it confusing?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:04 PM on February 19, 2006


No, you were making a point about the difference between tolerance and approval, not tolerance and acceptance. There's a big difference. Do you find it confusing?

I think the only thing shmegegge and anyone else is confused about is why you feel like you have the authority to speak for "most of society" and assume they feel the same way you do.
posted by Meredith at 4:11 PM on February 19, 2006


Meredith: the distinction was drawn above, by someone in the scene, between "squares" and those in the scene. Most people, by definition, are going to be squares, and most people, most places, most times, reason from how they live to how other people should live. That does not justify such judgments, but it certainly does make them fairly intractable.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:15 PM on February 19, 2006


peeping_tommy has a point. If insomnia can whip out the word squares, it seems no worse for peeper to submit to the label. I don't agree with his other points, but it seems like he didn't bring the us/them distinction into the discussion, he just whipped it out when he felt like pounding home his point. Perhaps we should just bend over and accept it and get back to the discussion at hand, which is, uh, I forget.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:40 PM on February 19, 2006


This person should be sent to the electric chair. First his penis should be amputated. Then he should be allowed to almost die from the loss of blood. Then he should be electrocuted.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:50 PM on February 19, 2006


During My Time, you WILL NOT:
  1. Argue about anything with me or to me.
  2. Complain about anything to me or about me.
  3. Cry, sob, whine or pout.
  4. Sigh, moan, sulk, or otherwise show displeasure or unhappiness.
  5. Raise your voice at or to me.
  6. Be condescending to, or about me.
  7. Ask for anything from me or for me.
  8. Be distracted from my by other things
I don't understand why he didn't just get a dog.

And as for Einstein's requests, they sound pretty reasonable to me (except the 3 meals part). Basically, "shut the fuck up and get the fuck out." For a guy as deep in his thoughts as Al, I'm not surprised.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:51 PM on February 19, 2006


MetaFilter: natural reaction degeneracy and perversion sick shit force of law wife and girlfriend most people always regard sick waffle waffle blah.
posted by exlotuseater at 4:52 PM on February 19, 2006


"... I figured out it is absolutely impossible to rape someone who refuses to withold consent."

--Tim explains why he's submissive, Spider Robinson's Lady Slings The Booze
posted by Paddle to Sea at 5:38 PM on February 19, 2006


peeping_Thomist : "Most people in our society think that those who want to do what that contract describes are perverts, but that they must be legally allowed to do it because of the benefits of privacy for everyone else...We've decided as a society to tolerate perverts."

The same goes for people who eat spinach. Most people think those who like spinach are sick, disturbed people, but that they must legally be allowed to eat spinach because of the benefits of food selection freedom for everyone else. We've decided, as a society, to tolerate spinach eaters.

Where are my sources for this declaration? I have none. I mean, it's just common sense.

On the other hand, pretty much everyone I know "tolerates" people with different sexual tastes, not because of the benefits of privacy for everyone else, but because they understand that someone liking something different than yourself doesn't mean that they are bad. I guess American society is just generally cooler with stuff like that than the society of whatever country it is you live in, peeping_Thomist.

peeping_Thomist : "Most people, by definition, are going to be squares"

You've got a different dictionary than I do, too, then.
posted by Bugbread at 5:45 PM on February 19, 2006


bugbread: pretty much everyone I know "tolerates" people with different sexual tastes, not because of the benefits of privacy for everyone else, but because they understand that someone liking something different than yourself doesn't mean that they are bad.

Interesting. So you must find the perennial failure of gay marriage at the ballot box utterly inexplicable, because "pretty much everyone" you know would never vote against gay marriage. But we're not talking about homosexuality here, we're talking about a particular BDSM "contract". And "pretty much everyone" finds homosexuality much less repulsive than the stuff described in that contract.

Your use of the phrase "sexual tastes" (and your comparison to spinach) shows how out of touch you are with us squares. We squares don't think of what's described in that contract as a "taste". We think of it as a perversion.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:59 PM on February 19, 2006


I wrote: His wife apparently wasn't interested in that type of relationship, as we can infer based on the fact that she's pressing charges against him.

Insomnia_LJ wrote: You can't reasonably infer that. You can infer that she is no longer interested in that kind of relationship, but not that she wasn't previously interested in or a party to it.


I can infer that based on the fact that she didn't sign the contract, and based on the fact that even the guy's own lawyer isn't trying to say that she agreed to any of this. The lawyer's position is that it can't be proved that his client wrote the contract.

Neither of us knows for sure what happened. You seem to say that the existence of the contract implies a consensual BDSM relationship. I say, the fact that there are blanks on the contract for the wife to initial... blanks which have glaringly not been initialed to show consent... implies the opposite.

And no, I was not saying that Total Power Exchange is evil or wrong. But even in BDSM circles, there's plenty of debate over whether TPE is realistic or healthy, and there's just no reason to think that consensual TPE is what was happening here, in face of the other information at hand.

What better way to divorce your dom(me) and guarantee that you get custody of the kids after a bad breakup than to send them to prison?

I don't think custody was going to be in contention here, since the guy is already up on charges for possession of child pornography.
posted by Zettai at 6:01 PM on February 19, 2006


peeping_Thomist : "And 'pretty much everyone' finds homosexuality much less repulsive than the stuff described in that contract."

I'm from Texas. I have no idea what "pretty much everyone" thinks (my post was intended to be a bit of a sarcastic jibe about how you're talking with some detail about what most people think and why, yet you offer no source for your declarations of fact). However, the vibe I've gotten is that there seem to be way more guys who think homosexuality is grosser than having a female sex slave, and way more women who think that a woman being a sex slave is worse than a guy being gay.

My comment wasn't seriously comparing spinach to anal sex or dripping hot candle wax on people. It was just pointing out that you can provide your own opinion, and that of your friends, but if you make blanket statements about what "everyone" thinks, you can sound pretty stupid. They way I sounded to you is the way you sounded to me.
posted by Bugbread at 6:36 PM on February 19, 2006


bugbread: My comment wasn't seriously comparing spinach to anal sex or dripping hot candle wax on people.

I don't think people's visceral reactions to the contract have much to do with their attitudes toward either anal sex or candle wax. I think the reactions have more to do with "good behavior days" and the contract's description of how he is sometimes allowed to tie her to the bed and rape her. This guy is a sick fuck. You apparently prefer to pretend that such bullshit is just a matter of "taste", but it's not. It's sick. And it would be sick even if it were consensual.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:49 PM on February 19, 2006


You apparently prefer to pretend that such bullshit is just a matter of "taste", but it's not. It's sick. And it would be sick even if it were consensual.

It's not rape if it's consentual. You know, posts like these make me wish you hadn't tied me down last night. I didn't feel dirty until now.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:54 PM on February 19, 2006


allen.spaulding, the "contract" says nothing about consent.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:58 PM on February 19, 2006


peeping_thomist:

my problem with your post was that you are an ass, ignorant, and should learn to stop speaking for other people when you have no idea what you're talking about. Was that not clear?
posted by shmegegge at 8:00 PM on February 19, 2006


smegegge, you don't have any idea what I do or don't know about.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:11 PM on February 19, 2006


allen.spaulding, the "contract" says nothing about consent.

No but your post does and I quoted it, buddy. You're annoying people because you are lumping together non-consentual acts, such as rape, with the idea of two consenting partners engaging in BDSM play and calling both sick.

You: Rape is not a matter of taste, it's sick, still would be if it was consentual.
Me: If it was consentual then it wouldn't be rape. The sickening part must be the act then, not the lack of consent.

The MF community does not seem to share your taste, nor your assertion that most people do. I certainly do not.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:22 PM on February 19, 2006


Each to his/her own, but man, does it ever look tedious. I really can't think of a relationship as as dull as one where one person makes all the decisions and the other just gets off on obeying. BOORRRRRING. Just sayin'.

So totally true.
posted by dydecker at 8:24 PM on February 19, 2006


One does not consent to being raped. One may consent to participating in a rape-centered fantasy, but because it's a fantasy, it's not rape. You're not actually going to be forced to do anything you don't want to do within the bounds of the fantasy play.

Actuallybeing raped, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of giving any kind of consent. At least be precise with your terminology.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:30 PM on February 19, 2006


also roffling here at being called a square for not keeping my gf in a compartment under the bed.
posted by dydecker at 8:32 PM on February 19, 2006


allen.spaulding: You're annoying people because you are lumping together non-consentual acts, such as rape, with the idea of two consenting partners engaging in BDSM play and calling both sick.

I can live with that. They are both sick.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:32 PM on February 19, 2006


You're going to run out of air in that little bubble world you live in, pT.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:42 PM on February 19, 2006


smegegge, you don't have any idea what I do or don't know about.

of course I do. I know that you believe that anything other than vanilla heterosexual sex is sick, perverted, deranged. I know that you're against homosexual marriage. I know that you're wrong in thinking that either of those things are sick, perverted, deranged. I know that you have no actual basis for believing anything you believe about "most people" except for your own revulsion and your groundless belief that you are just like "most people." I know that you're narrow-minded, offensive and ignorant.

All of these things are things you've demonstrated in this thread. Hence my entirely merited response to you.
posted by shmegegge at 8:45 PM on February 19, 2006


smegegge: I know that you're narrow-minded, offensive and ignorant.

You're not even close.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:47 PM on February 19, 2006


peeping_Thomist : "it would be sick even if it were consensual."

Sources, please.

peeping_Thomist : "you don't have any idea what I do or don't know about."

Exactly. Which is why when you're talking about what you know, as opposed to what you think, and what you know is an issue being disputed, you should provide some sort of evidence that what you say is true. Otherwise the conversation is just a playschool "Did too" "Did not" "Did too" "Did not" discussion. I don't have any idea what you know, so there's no reason for me to believe something just because you say it's true. If you say "I think it's sick", then fine, you're probably telling the truth. You know more about what you think than I do. But if you're going to say "It is sick" or "Most people think X" or any other factual appeals like that, which are in contention, then you need to back up what you say.
posted by Bugbread at 8:49 PM on February 19, 2006


You're not even close.

A quick survey of your previous comments on sexuality and on the nature of religion in the public sphere indicate narrow-mindedness pretty clearly.

You make the unsupported claims that consensual BDSM relationships are "sick", "perverted", and abhorred by the majority. You haven't been able to back up those claims (and won't be able to, because DSM-IV defines what behaviours are sick, and that ain't it); thus 'ignorant' fits as well.

I'm not offended, but others are, so 'offensive' fits, too. We're not only close, but dead on.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:55 PM on February 19, 2006


peeping_Thomist: For a man against kinks, you've chosen an odd name!
posted by onegreeneye at 9:30 PM on February 19, 2006


onegreeneye, I'm not a man against kinks.

solid-one-love, you cling to that DSM-IV all you like. I'm certainly not ignorant of what it says.

bugbread, I think most people think the contract in question is sick. What do you think most people think of that contract?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:21 PM on February 19, 2006


It is ignorant to think that one knows better than decades of peer-reviewed science does.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:25 PM on February 19, 2006


I think most people think the contract itself is sick or crazy weird. I think most people think BDSM is either scary, icky, or just plain goofy, depending on the degree and type of person involved. I think most men think the sex slave thing sounds like it would be kinda fun, if it were time to time. I think most people think that the whole dominance/submission thing is really weird, but as long as the folks involved are all cool with it, hey, different strokes for different folks.

Basically, I suspect a lot of people think it's bizarre, and are probably squicked out by it, but don't think it's sick.
posted by Bugbread at 10:37 PM on February 19, 2006


I rather agree with bugbread in that there are multiple versions of events. In my mind it boils down to:

A) Husband forced wife to do this stuff. She did not consent to it. The reason that she did not get out of the relationship was because she was trapped and/or feared for her life. Some portion of group A believes (like peeping_Thomist) that BDSM is inherently against someones will or wrong in some sense.

B) She agreed to some portion of the "contract." In some combination she either:
Got in over her head
or
Went along with the contract or was in a consensual BDSM relationship when something happened that we are not yet privy to, causing her to got to the police.

I find it odd that there are no direct quotes from the husband or wife. The trail of the husband will most likely be highly publised however, so we can look forward to more details about whatever hapend
posted by Suparnova at 11:37 PM on February 19, 2006


perhaps this is a symbol of a deteriorating marriage between a previously subservient wife and a control freak. Perhaps she grew more sure of herself and confident, as she matured, and this threatened his safe little male dominated world. So he comes up with this one-sided contract to try to keep her under his thumb even more. How do we know the wife didn't just throw it at him? Maybe he tried this idea, and she wouldn't go for it. Did he then turn to internet porn for some sort of release, or was he involved in porn all the while? And I believe she was unable to leave him-if any of you have ever been in a bad relationship with kids involved, you know how hard it is to just leave. I hope to God that he never touched his kids at least. And if she knew about the child porn, then I don't think either one should have custody of their kids. It's entirely possible that as he became more desperate to control her, that she basically blew him off (no pun intended) and took no part in his dominant abuses. And yeah, when he was caught with the porn, and the kidnapping charges came to light, she will make damn sure to use all evidence she can present to the law, to be finally free of him. If he was this controlling with his wife, how do you think his daughters would have been treated in the future as they hit puberty?
posted by annieb at 5:10 AM on February 20, 2006


"This person should be sent to the electric chair. First his penis should be amputated. Then he should be allowed to almost die from the loss of blood. Then he should be electrocuted.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:50 PM PST on February 19"


I agree. So, when do you want to have your penis amputated, PP?

"I can infer that based on the fact that she didn't sign the contract, and based on the fact that even the guy's own lawyer isn't trying to say that she agreed to any of this."

First off, there is no "fact" that she didn't sign the contract. That's merely her story. It appears that the document that the police received from the woman was a copy of the original document, which, of course, would not be signed.

As for the defendant's lawyer not trying to say (as yet) that she agreed to the contract, that makes perfect sense. If he says that she agreed to it now, before the judge approves the document as evidence, then he is saying that his client wrote it. He's not willing to cede that point, and is saying that the prosecutors must prove that the defendant wrote it if they want the judge to allow the document to go forward as evidence in the trial. If this document is merely a supposed copy that could've just as easily been written by the woman, the document could very well be dismissed entirely by the judge, and never find its way before the jury... and, as the lawyer indicates, that burden may be very hard to prove.

"You seem to say that the existence of the contract implies a consensual BDSM relationship. I say, the fact that there are blanks on the contract for the wife to initial... blanks which have glaringly not been initialed to show consent... implies the opposite."

While the existence of a master/slave contract does suggest a possibility (I'd even suggest a probability...) that the two of them shared at least a passing interest in kink, enough so he would approach her with such a contract, the fact that the document she provided to the police had no signatures on it means absolutely nothing about her approval or disapproval of that document, unless they can show that the defendant printed out that document.

If the wife wanted a divorce, custody of the kids, and simply wanted to get away from a situation where she felt too controlled, yet powerless to get away from, she could've printed out a backup copy of the contract from their home PC, where it was probably saved. She could've also destroyed the original signed contract, so that the husband would have no evidence to provide which would show her prior approval of the contract.

I think it's pretty likely the document was saved on the home computer, because the terms of the document itself indicated that they would be regularly reviewed and potentially changed, possibly to the point where she could opt out entirely. As it says "You can within two weeks prior to the end of the quarter request a change."

"This is the risk that you run if you engage in submission play without a safeword and you have to take the consequences for it."

Yes, but it hasn't been established that they didn't share a safeword, or, for that matter, that he wouldn't stop if she merely said no in a determined manner. We just know that such a thing wasn't documented in the contract provided by the prosecutors -- a contract we do not know for certain was written by the defendant.

"maybe it's healthy people having a natural reaction to degeneracy and perversion."

Note that I made a legal argument, while you made a moral argument. I'm not saying that you and others won't find other people's sexual practices distasteful, but that doesn't change the fact that it's horribly wrongheaded, ignorant, and prejudicial to judge a defendant and possibly even sway his case when they are still presumed innocent. The fact is, the great majority of sexual acts that they perform are probably identical to the ones that you perform too.

"I don't think people's visceral reactions to the contract have much to do with their attitudes toward either anal sex or candle wax. I think the reactions have more to do with "good behavior days" and the contract's description of how he is sometimes allowed to tie her to the bed and rape her. This guy is a sick fuck."

Well, to clarify, the contract said that he would, under some circumstances, tie her to the bed and do whatever he wished to her. That's not necessarily rape, however. One of my partners has indicated to me in the past that they fantasize about getting precisely this from me.

Have you ever engaged in an act of sodomy with a significant other? Keep in mind, the term "sodomy" has been defined in the past as including other non-anal sexual acts such as oral sex, masochism, sadism, or fetishism. Many states had sodomy laws on the books effecting both homosexual and heterosexual members of society until as recently as 2003, so I think it's pretty relevant to the discussion to inquire as to whether you are a sodomite -- and whether you were a criminal sodomite in the past.

If my point doesn't seem obvious, let me be clearer. Your right to be a partner to acts of sodomy is intrinsically linked to the right of others -- straight, gay, bi, kinky, furry, etc. -- to do what they want to do too. Your sexual freedom is theirs, and their sexual freedom is yours. When their freedoms are curtailed, yours may be curtailed too, or face greater jeopardy.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:03 AM on February 20, 2006


I noticed anal is excepted in the sex demands....so she’s got that going...

Seriously, how does some creature like this get someone to marry him?
posted by Smedleyman at 6:53 AM on February 20, 2006


solid-one-love: decades of peer-reviewed science

DSM-IV came about as the result of a controversial political process. It is a political document. Some of the people who were involved in the politics that resulted in DSM-IV now regret their involvement. I am not saying that DSM-IV is useless, but your faith that it is solely the result of objective science, and that nothing is sick unless it is listed in DSM-IV, is misplaced.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:57 AM on February 20, 2006


insomnia_Ij: She could've also destroyed the original signed contract, so that the husband would have no evidence to provide which would show her prior approval of the contract.

A signed "slave" contract would not show prior consent. Love letters from a "slave" to her "master" would not show prior consent. The defendant in the Colleen Stan case had both of those, and he's still behind bars. Why? Because he was a sick fuck, and when you put a sick fuck like that in front of a jury, he's going away for a long time. All she has to do is tell a credible story about how she was coerced.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:03 AM on February 20, 2006


DSM-IV came about as the result of a controversial political process. It is a political document.

The Bible came about as the result of a controversial political process. it is a political document.

I am not saying that DSM-IV is useless, but your faith that it is solely the result of objective science, and that nothing is sick unless it is listed in DSM-IV, is misplaced.

It is the final authority. To suggest otherwise colours your contributions, in their entirety, as ignorant at best.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:05 AM on February 20, 2006


In my mind it boils down to:

A) Husband forced wife to do this stuff. She did not consent to it. The reason that she did not get out of the relationship was because she was trapped and/or feared for her life. Some portion of group A believes (like peeping_Thomist) that BDSM is inherently against someones will or wrong in some sense.

B) She agreed to some portion of the "contract."

posted by Suparnova at 2:37 AM EST on February 20 [!]

What about C) Husband drew up this contract (after lots of fantasizing) but never showed it to her. The minute she found it on his computer she went running to the police.

I find it interesting that he writes
"You will give me all non-thong panties, all tights, all knee-high and/or ankle-high nylons. You be able (sic) to keep 5 pairs of non-thong panties of your choice for use during menstrual cycle.
So something changed after 9 years of marriage. She possessed these items of clothing, but he has now decided he does not want her to wear these at any time.

Similarly, I was struck by him specifying how often she was to shave. I shave my legs every day because I like the smoothness; three days seems a little long to go between shaves if he is seeking the perfect sex object. On the other hand there is nothing about how often she has to wash her hair. Perhaps she wasn't shaving often enough to please him.

I'm a little confused as to the stipulation that
Every saturday you are to use the wahl clippers with a guard no greater than 1/2" and then present yourself to me for measurement checks.
Could this be referring to the hair on her head? Or is it referring solely to that regulation-size pubic hair patch?

But the real issues of control that jumped out at me was:
You are to have your sleepwear on within 20 minutes after the kids are in bed. This pertains to anytime we are alone as a family whether or not I am home
He doesn't seem to fit the abusive husband profile because there are no stipulations about her household duties-- no mention of his shirts being ironed or meals on the table at specific times. But it is a frighteningly one-sided fantasy because he doesn't want a flesh and blood lover with her own desires and rhythms, he wants a sexual robot who will allow him to do whatever he wants (including inserting foreign objects) whenever he wants (including first thing in the morning.)

The section that really raised my hackles (aside from the foreign object insertion) is:
GBD-14 for anal intercourse not expected
7 for anal intercourse expected
"not expected" sounds very painful.

I'm left feeling pity for the wife. Whether or not she had consented to his demands in the past, now everybody she knows will have an image of her as a sex slave. Her mother will know what her husband wanted in the bedroom, her co-workers, her children. This contract will color her relationships for the rest of her life.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:18 AM on February 20, 2006


solid-one-love, let me get this straight. You say that to suggest that DSM-IV, the result of a controversial political process, is anything other than "the final authority" is "ignorant at best"? Does that mean that all the mental health professionals who have problems with this or that part of DSM-IV are also "ignorant at best"?

Oh, and do you anticipate that there will ever be changes to future versions of DSM? How could there be, since everyone who isn't "ignorant" is already locked into regarding DSM-IV as "the final authority"?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:23 AM on February 20, 2006


There's something vaguely humorous about an attempt at a legal document using the word "cum", instead of say, "semen" or "ejaculate".

*cough*

Anyway. There's plenty of tards like this out there. This one just happened to get caught.
posted by Target Practice at 8:25 AM on February 20, 2006


solid-one-love, let me get this straight. You say that to suggest that DSM-IV, the result of a controversial political process, is anything other than "the final authority" is "ignorant at best"?

I'm saying that the idea that you know better than the agreed-upon reference of psychological disorders, a reference which is referred to by every psychologist in the Western World and has additionally been the source of legal jurisprudence for decades is ignorant at best.

You don't get to decide what is sick. You get to decide what you think is sick. The experts, of whose number you are not included, get to decide what is sick.

You don't get a vote in the determination of what is sick.

And, FWIW, I also find BDSM abhorrent, even when contractual between consenting adults. But I'm not some ignorant dolt who thinks that my opinion is somehow greater than the expert opinion, whether that opinion is political derived or not -- and it's irrelevant whether it was derived from a 'controversial political process' (which it wasn't).

Oh, and do you anticipate that there will ever be changes to future versions of DSM?

Of course there will be. Science changes as new evidence is discovered. Only your ridiculous and unsupported beliefs are unchanging.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:04 AM on February 20, 2006


What about C) Husband drew up this contract (after lots of fantasizing) but never showed it to her. The minute she found it on his computer she went running to the police.

Let me rephrase that for you:

The minute she found herself tied to a bed and forced to have sex against her will she went running to the police.
posted by Orb at 10:15 AM on February 20, 2006


solid-one-love: Science changes as new evidence is discovered.

The change in how homosexuality and other sexual disorders are categorized from DSM-III to DSM-IV was not a response to "new" evidence; it was the result of a highly controversial political process that reflected changing social mores.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:59 AM on February 20, 2006


The change in how homosexuality and other sexual disorders are categorized from DSM-III to DSM-IV was not a response to "new" evidence; it was the result of a highly controversial political process that reflected changing social mores.

So you say. I don't believe you, and again, it's irrelevant.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:14 AM on February 20, 2006


I am baffled and disturbed by the growing tendency for people to take as-yet-unsubstantiated evidence from a trial they are not participating in to make blanket statements of guilt or innocence about people they don't know. Sheesh.

And for those of you who think BDSM is always sick and wrong ... frankly, I doubt you know what it actually generally involves. 99% of it is good clean fun.
posted by kyrademon at 11:36 AM on February 20, 2006


The change in how homosexuality and other sexual disorders are categorized from DSM-III to DSM-IV was not a response to "new" evidence; it was the result of a highly controversial political process that reflected changing social mores.

Again Peeping Thomas, sources would be great. If you're going to cite noteworthy political scandals, surely you shouldn't have a problem finding authority to back it up.

And, putting on our critical thinking caps for just a sec here, why would any adjustment/response resulting from "changing social mores" be "highly controversial" in the first place? If social mores had truly changed, then only the minority, by definition, would register this change as controversial.
posted by applemeat at 12:50 PM on February 20, 2006


solid-one-love, if you think DSM-IV was the result of something other than a thoroughly politicized process, have a look at Making Us Crazy by Kutchins and Kirk.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:56 PM on February 20, 2006


applemeat: why would any adjustment/response resulting from "changing social mores" be "highly controversial" in the first place?

There was this thing called the 1960's. You may have heard of it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:58 PM on February 20, 2006


Your point being?

Ohhh right, Woodstock, the Age of Aquarius. That huge homosexual event!
posted by applemeat at 1:03 PM on February 20, 2006


applemeat, my point is that the 1960's were a time of great upheaval and controversy about basic questions, hence answering your question of how the changes that resulted in DSM-IV, derived as they were from "changing social mores", were at the same time "highly controversial". Did you forget the question I was answering?

Seriously, I've never heard anyone who knew what they were talking about deny that the way sexual disorders were handled in DSM-IV was much more a response to changing social mores than it was a response to improved scientific evidence. And that goes for people who supported the changes. What new scientific evidence do you think they were responding to, anyway?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:08 PM on February 20, 2006


Ahem.
No. Psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals agree that homosexuality is not an illness, mental disorder or an emotional problem. Over 35 years of objective, well-designed scientific research has shown that homosexuality, in and itself,is not associated with mental disorders or emotional or social problems. Homosexuality was once thought to be a mental illness because mental health professionals and society had biased information. In the past the studies of gay, lesbian and bisexual people involved only those in therapy, thus biasing the resulting conclusions. When researchers examined data about these people who were not in therapy, the idea that homosexuality was a mental illness was quickly found to be untrue.

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association confirmed the importance of the new, better designed research and removed homosexuality from the official manual that lists mental and emotional disorders. Two years later, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution supporting the removal. For more than 25 years, both associations have urged all mental health professionals to help dispel the stigma of mental illness that some people still associate with homosexual orientation.
A more detailed write up here.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:15 PM on February 20, 2006


That can't be right, MM. Surely the APA doesn't "[know] what they are talking about." There couldn't have been any new scientific evidence because the process was so highly politicized, after all.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2006


Yeah, the UC Davis psych department also is imagining that the first study involving homosexuals who were not actively seeking treatment occurred in 1957 . . . which is slightly before the earthshaking homosexual hotspot of the 60's.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:36 PM on February 20, 2006


Have any of you guys actually read anything about how the DSM came to be changed, and how the procedures for changing the DSM were themselves changed? You might think it's good that the changes were made, or that it's a bad thing they were made, but I don't see how a responsible person could come away from a look at the details of the process and think it was about responding to new scientific evidence.

Are you really committed to this kind of Orwellian "memory hole" history in the service of your righteous cause?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:19 PM on February 20, 2006


The DSM was changed to be as correct as doctors can make it. The problem with that is...?
posted by swerve at 3:43 PM on February 20, 2006


The DSM was changed in response to militant protests that disrupted the annual APA meetings, not in order to make it "as correct as doctors can make it".

Sheesh.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:48 PM on February 20, 2006


The DSM was changed in response to militant protests that disrupted the annual APA meetings

That's one interpretation, held by a distinct minority o observers. The other, held by the APA as a body, is that you're wrong.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:23 PM on February 20, 2006


solid-one-love, in your experience do large, powerful institutions accurately present their own histories? That certainly hasn't been my experience. If, as many of the participants in the events leading to the changes in the DSM claim, the APA cravenly changed its diagnostic criteria in response to pressure from militant protesters, would you expect the APA to describe it that way today?

Anyway, why are you so invested in the "official" version of APA history? How impressed are you, really, by the "science" of psychology? Have they found their Galileo or their Newton yet, or are they still in the dark ages, scientifically speaking? Why does it even matter to you what the APA thinks about sexual disorders?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:03 PM on February 20, 2006



solid-one-love, in your experience do large, powerful institutions accurately present their own histories?


Generalizations are irrelevant. Provide evidence that this particular institution has done so. As yet, you have not.

Why does it even matter to you what the APA thinks about sexual disorders?

Because they're the ones consulted on determinations of mental disorders as they relate to the law.
posted by solid-one-love at 5:44 PM on February 20, 2006


"Generalizations are irrelevant. Provide evidence that this particular institution has done so. As yet, you have not."

Would you like to count the fallacies in your argument, or shall I do it for you?
posted by klangklangston at 5:51 PM on February 20, 2006


solid-one-love: Provide evidence that this particular institution has done so.

The man who negotiated the compromises that eventually resulted in dropping homosexuality from DSM himself had no expertise in the topic of human sexuality. He did not consult with the scientific committees of the APA and the language he finally came up with, on his own, was not the result of any scientific research. He was primarily concerned to reach a compromise between militant gay activists and the (by then largely out of favor because of a number of ideological and economic reasons) psychoanalytic faction of the APA. The guy who wrote the compromise language was not on anyone's account an expert, and he did not consult experts. It was a political job through and through. There have been many histories written of this political process, including by people who ultimately endorsed the outcome because it reached a conclusion they morally agreed with.

The idea that the APA was responding to changes in the scientific evidence is simply not based in fact, and so far as I know is not held by anyone familiar with the events of those years who doesn't have a stake in upholding the Orwellian "official" version. I've linked above to a book that has a good, objective description of that history. The authors aren't interested in taking sides, just in getting the chain of events clear. On the other hand, I'm happy to take sides: the APA capitulated to perverts.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:02 PM on February 20, 2006



Would you like to count the fallacies in your argument, or shall I do it for you?


I predict that it'll be a cold day in hell before you ever address any point I make.

On the other hand, I'm happy to take sides: the APA capitulated to perverts.

Yeah, I think we're done here.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:04 PM on February 20, 2006


Right, because no one who thinks there are moral problems with homosexuality could possibly make a valid point about how the APA came to eliminate homosexuality from the DSM. So instead of looking into whether what I claim is true (which is verified by any number of independent histories of the events), you assume I'm distorting things somehow.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:07 PM on February 20, 2006


It shows your inherent bias; you have ceased to be a credible source on the subject. It is a safe assumption that you are distorting things.

You have fun with that.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:10 PM on February 20, 2006


So you think people who have moral objections to homosexual behavior are so biased that they can't accurately describe historical facts? Yikes. I hope you'll actually look into the history for yourself.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:12 PM on February 20, 2006


Solid-one-love: I disagree vehemently with Thomist's view of homosexuality. That said, you're arguing from authority, you're arguing against a distributed middle, you're ignoring the information that exists (as easily available as a google search) that DOES state that there were political considerations in revising homosexuality out of the DSM (which happened in the DSM III, not IV), and that's even leaving out the Foucault arguments dealing with this very case (of which there are MANY MANY).
Your arguments are deeply flawed and make you less of a credible side by your insistence on them. Further, the fact that politics did play a large part in the removal of homosexuality from the DSM does not mean that it was wrong to do so, or that it was wrong that politics played a part in doing so. The way to rebutt someone like Thomist is to ask for evidence that justifies homosexuality's inclusion, and then point out the multitude of studies that empirically refute any such rationalization that he comes up with (and since this has been a scholarly popular topic, any database search should come up with a mountain of cites).
posted by klangklangston at 6:25 PM on February 20, 2006


Secret Life of Gravy : "'not expected' sounds very painful."

I don't think (from the rest of the context about "not expected") that that's what it means.
From my reading, "expected" basically means "times when the husband expects it". I imagine that would mean whenever the husband asks for it, or on his birthday, or Anal Tuesday, or the like.
"Not expected" appears to mean "times when the husband doesn't expect it", like if one day she answers the door with a smile on her face and a bottle of lube.
posted by Bugbread at 6:31 PM on February 20, 2006


OK so you took it to mean when HE expects it and I took it to mean when SHE expects it, i.e. when she has been told in advance of their love making session that she should ready herself for anal sex. Unexpected sounded to me like no advance warning--here just takes this--which would make it worth more points. But then I have never dawn up a BDSM contract. Perhaps you know better than I.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:47 PM on February 20, 2006


Nope. I'm not into BDSM either.
posted by Bugbread at 6:55 PM on February 20, 2006


(Am I the only one curious as to why an apparent homophobe going by a voyeuristic moniker here apparently wants to repeatedly debate the topic of homosexuality in a discussion thread that's supposed to be about a bdsm-steeped heterosexual rape allegation?)
posted by applemeat at 7:09 PM on February 20, 2006


Applemeat, some people just have issues.
posted by Suparnova at 7:20 PM on February 20, 2006


I would like to congragulate this post (in my mind at least) for most tags used even remotly applying to the subject. More posters should use that many tags.
posted by Suparnova at 7:22 PM on February 20, 2006


applemeat: an apparent homophobe going by a voyeuristic moniker here apparently wants to repeatedly debate the topic of homosexuality in a discussion thread that's supposed to be about a bdsm-steeped heterosexual rape allegation

There is such a thing as homophobia; I've known homophobes (who not surprisingly have turned out to be deeply closeted gays.) I'm not a homophobe.

The nickname is a reference to a philosophical joke by Mortimer Adler.

I keep talking about homosexuality because people defending BDSM point out, correctly, that according to DSM-IV BDSM isn't a sign of a mental disorder. (Of course neither is raping children, according to DSM-IV, unless you also happen to be conflicted about it.) There's no way to understand why the DSM on BDSM is unreliable without understanding how the DSM process got decisively corrupted. And the pivotal event in that story was the APA's political capitulation to militant gay activists.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:32 PM on February 20, 2006


Aaaand the score so far:

"Consensual" (right): 26
"Consentual" (wrong): 19

So far consensual is winning, but if consentual manages a touchdown, it's anyone's game...
posted by kindall at 9:49 PM on February 20, 2006


Based on a google search I had just assumed that "consentual" was a term of art used by BDSM people. After all, "Safe, Sane & Consentual" is the BDSM credo.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:48 PM on February 20, 2006


No, it's just wrong (or, for descriptivists, nonstandard). AFAICT "consentual" as used in BDSM circles means exactly the same thing as "consensual." If they spell it differently on purpose for some reason, it's not to distinguish any shades of meaning.
posted by kindall at 11:01 PM on February 20, 2006


Turns out "concentual" is a real word. It means "possessing harmony; accordant". Even if this guy's "contract" is consensual, it still won't be concentual.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:11 PM on February 20, 2006


"Right, because no one who thinks there are moral problems with homosexuality could possibly make a valid point..."

Couldn't the argument be made just as easily that there are moral problems with heterosexuality? After all, we're talking about a committed, longterm heterosexual relationship here... with children. I hear far more often about abuse in heterosexual relationships, heterosexuals are far more likely to be child abusers... etc.

Nobody becomes a child abuser in this society because of societal approval for child abuse, so for you to suggest that an erosion of traditional Christian, male-dominated, hetrosexually-biased societal beliefs (such as tolerance for consensual homosexual relationships, consensual heterosexual or homosexual sodomy, alternative family structures, consensual BDSM, sex without the goal of procreation, etc.)

I find it amusing that the only other animals we know of that have sex for pleasure are bonobos and dolphins, which are considered the most intelligent non-human lifeforms on this planet.

All I can theorize is that either there are a lot of deviant dolphins and bonobos out there, who wantonly embrace their moral weaknesses, or that sex for pleasure is a sign of enlightened, natural sexual behavior for higher life forms, rather than sex for reproductive purposes only, which stems from our lowest, most bestial natures.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:20 AM on February 21, 2006


I left a sentence above unfinished accidentally, but you can guess the ending, I'm sure.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:54 AM on February 21, 2006


I agree with Suparnova, this post is tagged excellently.
posted by Bugbread at 2:10 AM on February 21, 2006


Happy Anal Tuesday, everyone.
posted by Paddle to Sea at 4:49 AM on February 21, 2006


insomnia_Ij: I left a sentence above unfinished accidentally, but you can guess the ending, I'm sure.

You were clearly heading toward a non sequitur with that sentence, so I'd actually like to hear how you would try to finish it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:34 AM on February 21, 2006


Um, it's not really possible to head towards a non sequitur.
posted by cytherea at 8:29 AM on February 21, 2006


"concentual" is a real word

Perhaps, but nobody's using that spelling... and both are so obscure you'd need an unabridged OED to find them.
posted by kindall at 9:09 AM on February 21, 2006


cytherea: it's not really possible to head towards a non sequitur.

I wouldn't have thought so either! It was clear from the context what he wanted the conclusion to be, yet nothing he said in the sentence supported the conclusion. I guess that's why he trailed off and didn't finish it. How's this: he believed he was heading toward a certain conclusion, but then started saying things that in no way led to the conclusion. So you're right, he wasn't heading toward a non-sequitur, but I'm right that he couldn't finish the sentence without committing a non sequitur.

kindall: you'd need an unabridged OED to find them

Or the free unix utility "dict" with the proper free dictionaries installed, both of which come standard with any distribution of Linux.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:21 AM on February 21, 2006


peeping_Thomist : "The nickname is a reference to a philosophical joke by Mortimer Adler."

I confess I smiled everytime people pointed to your nickname as "voyeuristic" implying the common meaning of the word, without even blinking at the "Th" giveaway.

peeping_Thomist : "There's no way to understand why the DSM on BDSM is unreliable without understanding how the DSM process got decisively corrupted. And the pivotal event in that story was the APA's political capitulation to militant gay activists."

The World Health Organization ICD-10 also excludes homosexuality while including Sadomasochism as a disorder of sexual preference. While the Americans may rely on the DSM, the ICD-10 is pretty much the reference for the rest of the world. But that is not the point. The point is that insisting as you are that the sole motivation for the DSM change on homosexuality was political gives away an homophobic bias: first, the GLTB movement never had all that political influence, you sound like those crazy Christians crying "The homos are destroying our families" without ever seeing a gay person in their lives. Second, your heavy attack on this particular modification implies that you think homosexuality is a mental illness (besides the your more colorful use of adjectives such as "sick" and "perverted") and that goes against the modern literature (on one hand understating people sexual behavior in a more holistic way, on another receiving many precious insights from recent [as in the last 10 years] advances in Biology).
posted by nkyad at 9:23 AM on February 21, 2006


peeping_Thomist: You were clearly heading toward a non sequitur with that sentence

me:Um, it's not really possible to head towards a non sequitur.

peeping_Thomist:I wouldn't have thought so either!

Apparently I was wrong. You know, I find that taking a few oxymoronic pills each moring really helps with my latent gay panic.
posted by cytherea at 10:02 AM on February 21, 2006


nkyad: The point is that insisting as you are that the sole motivation for the DSM change on homosexuality was political gives away an homophobic bias

It won't surprise you that I don't agree. The change on homosexuality was a watershed event; it decisively changed the mechanisms by which the DSM is changed. That is not to say that the DSM was good before and bad later; it seems to me that there are fundamental questions about the nature of psychology that would have to be answered before that could be determined, but my own layman's view is that the fewer conditions that are medicalized in the first place, the better. BDSM scenesters and active homosexuals strike me as having moral problems, not medical ones.

nkyad: first, the GLTB movement never had all that political influence

The GLTB movement nearly shut down the APA convention three years in a row. Since the number of members of APA who cared one way or the other about the issue wasn't all that large, and since psychoanalytic theory was already losing power within the APA because of economic and ideological factors, the external militant activists had a much deeper impact than they ordinarily would have had.

nkyad: your heavy attack on this particular modification implies that you think homosexuality is a mental illness

One of the main drawbacks of forums like this is that it's almost impossible to get a full sense of what a person thinks in these little sound bites. I don't think the phrase "mental illness" is very well-defined. I do believe that same-sex desire is objectively disordered, though I don't have any stake in what the source of the disorder is. I think that glorifying homosexuality is sick and perverted in the ordinary sense of those words, not as a diagnosis of mental illness. I don't think the DSM was particularly scientific before the change, and I don't think it's particularly scientific now. The idea that "science" has shown that homosexuality and BDSM and whatever else are "OK" strikes me as stupid. Of course the APA has always officially said that they cannot address the question of better or worse, desirable or undesirable, but no one pays attention to those qualifying statements.

As for the modern literature and biology, the literature strikes me as potentially helpful, but often driven by ideological agendas. The biology, on the other hand, for good reason frightens many gay people. I'm appalled at the thought, but it can be predicted that as soon as a reliable test for the genetic defect that causes homosexuality is found, selective abortion will be used on a wide scale to eliminate it, just as there is an open war right now on people with other genetic problems. I can promise you that many of those of us who now oppose selective abortion for people with birth defects will extend this opposition to abortion for people with the "gay gene", if there is one, but we are a very small minority. Most people don't see any fundamental problem with killing the weak and vulnerable among us.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:16 AM on February 21, 2006


peeping_Thomist : "As for the modern literature and biology, the literature strikes me as potentially helpful, but often driven by ideological agendas."

I should have been clearer - that should have read "scientific literature".

peeping_Thomist : "The biology, on the other hand, for good reason frightens many gay people."
peeping_Thomist : "but it can be predicted that as soon as a reliable test for the genetic defect that causes homosexuality is found, selective abortion will be used on a wide scale to eliminate it"

While I do extend you the benefit of doubt on "homophobic", I'd say you should refrain from let your hands run so free on the keyboard. Using "genetic defect" in conjunction to "homosexuality" will at best lend you vulnerable to easy psychoanalytical attacks, at worst send us back to square one name calling.

My mention of Biology was a reference not only to the (still debated) genetic basis for homosexuality but first and foremost to the discoveries about homosexuality in other species (so making it clear it is not merely a human "cultural" phenomenon) and the (maybe consequent) recent hypothesis about the evolutionary role of homosexuality.


peeping_Thomist : "The GLTB movement nearly shut down the APA convention three years in a row. Since the number of members of APA who cared one way or the other about the issue wasn't all that large"

That's nothing a small display of state enforcement wouldn't have solved if APA wanted it solved. You say yourself, APA didn't care one way or another - ie, for most members it was not an issue. My reading is that APA had made a mistake (along with the rest of the world) a long time ago, by classifying homosexuality as a mental illness. As the public at large and the professionals involved with the issue started noticing it was wrong, a debate (probably involving more moral issues than scientific ones) issued, ending with the withdrawn. But it started with the inclusion being perceived as wrong by a large part of the scientific establishment.

peeping_Thomist : "BDSM scenesters and active homosexuals strike me as having moral problems, not medical ones."

I won't ask if you think passive homosexuals are ok, no matter the itch... Now seriously, while your position on moral issues is important to you, why should anyone else care (or be forced to live by it)?
posted by nkyad at 10:40 AM on February 21, 2006


nkyad: discoveries about homosexuality in other species

My understanding is that the correct interpretation of that is still very much a hot topic, not something settled in scientific circles.

nkyad: while your position on moral issues is important to you, why should anyone else care (or be forced to live by it)?

Because these issues are about what kind of a community we're going to have, and what kind of culture we transmit to our children. Take drug use, for example. You could argue that it's a completely private matter. But the fact is that if a large enough percentage of people are sitting in their private rooms getting high and not actively contributing to a shared way of life, that will have a decisive effect on what your culture looks like a few generations down the road. So I don't agree that this contract, for example, if consensual, is, in your earlier words, none of my Puritan business. The contract is depraved, not just boring, or silly, or whatever.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:59 AM on February 21, 2006


"The idea that "science" has shown that homosexuality and BDSM and whatever else are "OK" strikes me as stupid."

That would be stupid. However, that's not how science works. What it can do is show that there is no real correlation between BDSM or homosexuality and personal or societal harm, and that the onus is on those making the claims to present evidence of harm.

So what we do have is someone with moral views that have no rational justification arguing against a behavior that disturbs them. Further, we have a person with no rational justification making the classic "slippery slope" argument about moral depravity.
We already had an experiment in what would happen if a large percentage of the population took drugs. The results are boons for arts and culture with very little detriment outside of interminable guitar jams, a tendecy to believe in the power of crystals, and a generation of children named Moonbeam.
posted by klangklangston at 12:21 PM on February 21, 2006


Or a tendency to believe in the power of the Moon and a generation of children named Crystal, whichever suits you better.
posted by nkyad at 12:54 PM on February 21, 2006


klangklangston: the onus is on those making the claims to present evidence of harm.

This illustrates one of the many temperamental differences between conservatives and non-conservatives. For a conservative, the onus is always on those who propose significant changes to the way we do things to prove that the traditional ways are no longer reasonable. For a liberal, the onus is always on those who support traditional limits on behavior to show that such limits are still justified. Obviously neither temperament will be suitable for every situation, so the question is what kind of situation we're in.

The way you describe it makes it sound as though human beings don't have thousands of years' experience at making communities that are able to survive, or that in any case it isn't very likely that such accumulated experience will be helpful to us now. From this it would seem to follow that inherited customs should be regarded as suspect until proven otherwise.

Anyway, I guess the only thing I want to say is that who the onus is on is one of the questions about which there is disagreement. I think a society in which large numbers of people become interested in signing contracts like the one we're supposedly still discussing is a society that is losing or has lost something quite important, something that almost surely is not going to be revealed by scientific studies of the sort you're describing. I'm tempted to say that what is lost is the ability to see others as persons rather than objects, but I don't have the wherewithal to cash out that vague formulation. I was quite struck by the person in this discussion who said that what makes "loving relationships" valuable is that they are a "reliable, dependable source of love". That way of describing the love between husband and wife is, I believe, despicable. It makes another person, whom you supposedly love, sound like an oil well or some other artifact designed to "deliver" to oneself a natural resource, "love". I don't understand how anyone who has ever loved another person could think of marriage as being primarily valuable as a "source of love". Do people really see others only as a source of some kind of gratification? What if your husband or wife becomes gravely ill, and can no longer reciprocate? I guess then the basis for the "loving relationship" disappears...and you move on to the next "source of love". When one hole dries up, you move on to the next hole and start digging.

Am I really the only one who sees how a contract like this perverts at a fundamental level the relationship between husband and wife? If two people consent to degrading each other, that takes away other people's standing to point out that they are degrading themselves?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:14 PM on February 21, 2006


Every time you post, peeping_Thomist, my stomach turns. I don't brush up against intolerance like yours in my daily life, and I count myself lucky for that.

But I'd like to thank you.

You see, I don't fight hard enough. I don't speak up enough, call my congressman enough, or write angry letters enough. I have, until now, not done enough.

I'm not sure why. I guess it was out of sight, out of mind. People talking about those like you seemed like they were talking about made up things like the bogeymen. The cases on the news were just the exception.

Better things were around the corner without me having to lift a finger.

Now I know differently, because here you are, making me sick and pitying you for being so filled with hate for everyone and yourself.

So while you think you're using words to make others understand you, to bring them to your line of thought, what you've done is made someone useless into someone useful.

For every disgusting thought you voice, I'm going make mine just as loud for something better.

Congratulations.
posted by FunkyHelix at 3:59 PM on February 21, 2006


Thanks, FunkyHelix! At least we both agree that better things are not around the corner without anyone having to lift a finger.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:25 PM on February 21, 2006


"This illustrates one of the many temperamental differences between conservatives and non-conservatives. For a conservative, the onus is always on those who propose significant changes to the way we do things to prove that the traditional ways are no longer reasonable. For a liberal, the onus is always on those who support traditional limits on behavior to show that such limits are still justified."

Wrong. For a liberal, the onus is always upon those who would restrict freedom to justify that restriction. For an authoritarian, the onus is upon those who would exercise that freedom.

"The way you describe it makes it sound as though human beings don't have thousands of years' experience at making communities that are able to survive, or that in any case it isn't very likely that such accumulated experience will be helpful to us now. From this it would seem to follow that inherited customs should be regarded as suspect until proven otherwise."

For thousands of years, sacrifices of humans were made to deliver good crops. For millions of people, picking heads after 10 tails flips in a row makes one more likely to win. People have hundreds of thousands of years of basing decisions on superstition, bias, guesses, fallacies and appeals to narratives that do not exist. You're the one invoking the snake-oilers, the faith healers, the leechers and the astrologers to run your society. If my belief in liberal utilitarianism and humanism leads to sodomy in the streets, then yours leads to witch burnings and ideologies of racial superiority. Place me on the side of Galileo and Columbus, on the side of Washington and Jefferson, on the side of progress, freedom and the Invisible College. You can have your Ratzingers and your Father Caughlins, your Lt. Gov. Danforths and your Joe McCarthys.

The appeal to tradition is one of the most pernicious and insidious fallacies available, and one that is presented with vehemence by those who should realize how hollow it truly is. If there is no good reason save "We've always done it" to continue to do something then there is no good reason to continue to do something.

"I'm tempted to say that what is lost is the ability to see others as persons rather than objects, but I don't have the wherewithal to cash out that vague formulation."

No, you don't. Heidegger argued, in his essay on the spirit of technology, that the danger technology presents is that we will no longer see people as people, but rather as "standing reserve," as objects intended toward a purpose. But you're not arguing this, you're arguing based on the idea that somehow love isn't something recieved, something to be sought. If not for love, then why marry? Or, as you seem to think, if one party no longer loves another— they should stay together and not divorce? They should both be unhappy rather than decide for themselves what their marriage means? Because of the strength of tradition? It's you who aren't seeing people as people, but rather as some sort of construct based on what you believe tradition to be.
If two people decide that they want to, with mutual consent, destroy everything a traditional marriage stands for, why shouldn't we let them? Because somehow the idea of marriage has been extended to a place that you wouldn't like it to go? If they both agree to be burned and broken, or traded for cash or convenience, if that's what they both want, by what power would you coerce them?
I have no problem with saying that there are consensual relationships that are unhealthy, and I have no problem saying that there are relationships which pervert norms. But for the first, my remedy is to not get into them and to make my opinion known if people around me are in what I percieve as trouble. For the second, my remedy is knowing that there is no norm that has not already been perverted, and that no harm will befall me by their actions and that by attacking norms that constrain all of us, there is the opportunity for me to choose which norms I feel are beneficial and which I feel are detrimental. And, to bring back a Sartrian answer to Heidegger, that choice is what makes us human and distinguishes us from objects.
posted by klangklangston at 5:27 PM on February 21, 2006


klangklangston: If not for love, then why marry?

I assume you mean, "if not to receive love, why marry?" I assume that's what treating "loving relationships" as a "source of love" entails. The answer, I would have thought, would be to love. And if for some reason my wife becomes unable to reciprocate that love, I don't see how that would release me from my promise to love her unconditionally.

klangklangston: They should both be unhappy rather than decide for themselves what their marriage means?

I want my present self to be able to make commitments that are binding on my future self. It's like Odysseus having his crew tie him to the mast when they sail past the sirens: no matter how much I complain and tell you to untie me, don't do it. So, do I want people to decide for themselves what their marriage means? Of course. But for most people the time for making that decision is long past by the time anyone starts thinking about jumping ship.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:50 PM on February 21, 2006


And if for some reason my wife becomes unable to reciprocate that love, I don't see how that would release me from my promise to love her unconditionally

If you love her, you would let her go.
posted by cytherea at 7:09 PM on February 21, 2006


"And if for some reason my wife becomes unable to reciprocate that love, I don't see how that would release me from my promise to love her unconditionally."

No, but it's a pretty good argument for divorce from her standpoint. (Which, to take the cheap dig, you might have noticed if you didn't treat her as an object to be loved).
posted by klangklangston at 7:11 PM on February 21, 2006


cytherea, klangklangston, I have in mind situations in which one spouse becomes seriously ill. I've seen husbands bail out on their sick wives because their "needs" weren't being met by their crippled or otherwise-incapacitated wives. That's bullcrap, but it's what comes of thinking of "love" as a commodity and "relationships" as a "reliable, dependable source of love". Why should I stay with her after her well runs dry? If that's really how people see marriage, the economists are right who say there is no difference between marriage and prostitution.

cytherea: If you love her, you would let her go.

Of course! Jeez, did you think I'm talking about dragging her back into my cave by her hair? I'm talking about staying with her when she needs me.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:35 PM on February 21, 2006


I have in mind situations in which one spouse becomes seriously ill.

Oh! Common ground! That's a sentiment that I truly do admire. A friend of mine was married to a rugby player who was injured and lost the use of his arms and legs, but she stayed with him. While I hope that I will never have to make such a decision, I hope I will have the strength to match her integrity.

Of course! Jeez, did you think I'm talking about dragging her back into my cave by her hair?

Well, you could always keep her in a box under the bed.
posted by cytherea at 10:30 PM on February 21, 2006


cytherea: but she stayed with him. While I hope that I will never have to make such a decision, I hope I will have the strength to match her integrity.

A decision is required only when there are available alternatives. Once you've promised yourself to someone, what's the available alternative supposed to be? To go back on your word?

I realize that's not how most people who have posted to this discussion think about marriage. Yet if you don't think of marriage that way (the conservative, traditional way), why do you mention your friend's integrity? Where does integrity come into it? If "loving relationships" are just a matter of consensually getting from another person what you want, how would integrity enter into the matter at all? "You've lost the use of your arms and legs? Wow, what a shame. Too bad for you, and too bad for me too, because now you're no longer in a position to give me what I need. Oh, well, I'm off to find someone who can give me what I need. Best of luck! It was great while it lasted!" Where's the lack of integrity in that particular "decision", given your understanding of what "loving relationships" are about?

At the deepest level, that's my objection to the "contract" we supposedly are still discussing. The premise of BDSM is that good sex is properly understood as the result of a negotiation between two rational wills who arrive at some temporary agreement about who is to do what to whom, when, where, how, how hard, etc... If the negotiations fail (as they seem to have in this case), each party remains free to look elsewhere to find someone else with whom they can negotiate an acceptable "power exchange". (Sounds like Enron!) In other words, both parties remain isolated from each other throughout the entire process, and trade with each other using their bodies as an exchange medium. After all, it is a truism that consent is the only moral standard a free market can acknowledge.

The Western tradition of thinking about marriage that everyone here seems so eager to get away from proposes that that good sex is possible only within the context created when two people unconditionally and irrevocably give themselves to each other, and thereby become one so long as they both remain alive. Bodies are not the medium of exchange between two disembodies rational wills, but in fact two embodied persons unite to become one flesh. On the traditional view it makes perfect sense to admire your friend's integrity. In fact, "integrity" is exactly the right word: she is keeping whole the unity created when she and her husband gave themselves to each other.

But that explanation of your friend's integrity isn't open to you. So how do you explain your invocation of integrity? (Is it just the result of traditional conditioning that you haven't yet been able to shake?)

By the way, how is a spinal cord injury different from any other kind of problem that makes it impossible for the "exchange" between you and your husband to be fully reciprocal? Do you just feel sorry for cripples, but not for people with, say, emotional problems? Is that why you think it would be a sign of "integrity" to stay with a crippled husband but you would freel free to dissolve your "relationship" with an emotionally troubled husband?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:27 AM on February 22, 2006


Mistress Matisse, a well-known BDSM blogger, has blogged on this topic this morning, including a reference to the current thread. Some excerpts:
We don't know if she ever did consent to these rules, but it doesn’t matter one little bit. Even if she thought this contract was the sexiest thing in the world on a Tuesday and signed it in her blood, she could change her mind Wednesday morning, and she has the absolute right to do so. You cannot sign away your right to withdraw consent, ever.

...

To some degree, the imagery, culture, and vocabulary of BDSM has become part of mainstream consciousness. Bad people are going to use it to create a frame and a justification for doing bad things, just as they’ve used other cultural institutions.
posted by matildaben at 6:57 AM on February 22, 2006


If a spouse is so emotionally troubled that they are no longer able to "unconditionally and irrevocably give themselves" to their partner, then it would appear that by your own definition of the Western tradition of marriage, it should be dissolved.

This in no way means that you should abandon someone after the first little tiff, or even serious conflict. You work to fix it, sure. Talk things out. Get a therapist. Whatever.

But at the end of the day, if you're standing next to a ticking time bomb, and the guy from the bomb squad is unable to defuse it and starts running for the hills, you don't talk to the bomb and attempt to persuade it not to explode. You don't make a silent vow that no matter what happens, you will never leave the bomb. You don't say to yourself, "It's a good bomb, it won't really hurt me."

You run for your fucking life.
posted by quantumetric at 8:59 AM on February 22, 2006


So we had to get this far for you to finally start hinting the subjacent point, peeping_Thomist - you clearly do not believe people outside the "the conservative, traditional" or dare we say, religious way can really have firm moral grounds to stand on. And that is a lie, a fallacy created out of thin air by religious people to criticize those who wouldn't live under their rules. That "good sex is possible only within the context created when two people unconditionally and irrevocably give themselves to each other, and thereby become one so long as they both remain alive" is not a "Western tradition of thinking" but the Christian definition of marriage (actually, the way you phrase it leaves it open for gay marriage, but that's another thread). The fact is, there are clear rational grounds for moral behavior outside religion. Leave the Middle Ages, stop being a Thomist and start trying to be a Kantist - maybe then you will begin to understand your "adversaries" a little better.
posted by nkyad at 2:03 PM on February 22, 2006


quantumetric, there are clearly times when married couples need to be separated. Sometimes one spouse has to move away for a job to send money back to the family. And sometimes one of the spouses becomes emotionally unstable or physically or psychologically abusive, and it may not be prudent for the other spouse to live with him or her during that time. It's not uncommon for one spouse to separate and require that the other spouse achieve certain goals in order to be reunited. "You have to go X number of months without a drink," or "you have to complete anger management training and get permission from your therapist for us to reunite," or "You have to go X number of years without being unfaithful," or whatever.

So while I agree that there are times when you have to run for your life, I don't see how that suggests that the marriage should be dissolved. I have in fact seen some incredibly long-suffering spouses who have had to live for several years separated from their spouses, but who eventually reunited with them.

If you promise yourself to someone for better or for worse, and then that other person reaches their worst, you discover whether you are in a real marriage or just a commercial exchange between consenting adults.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:21 PM on February 22, 2006


nkyad: you clearly do not believe people outside the "the conservative, traditional" or dare we say, religious way can really have firm moral grounds to stand on.

I don't equate conservative with religious. It's possible to have "firm moral grounds to stand on" without accepting any particular religion.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:24 PM on February 22, 2006


By the way, nkyad, you must have read an abridged Kant, in which God, Freedom and Immortality are not necessary postulates of practical reason. The Kant who wrote the second critique is not the person to whom you want to appeal if you're trying to extricate morality from belief in God.

What are they teaching in the schools these days? Apparently not Kant's ethical writings.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:55 AM on February 23, 2006


Instead of [or in addition to] Kant, people who want a "firm, moral ground to stand on" might try reading Hume, Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, and Singer. That is, if they wanted to make an argument that "extricates morality from belief in God". The Categorical Imperative is only a start.

Speaking to the subject at hand, it looks to me, based upon what little info is given us, that this guy is at least a controlling scumbag, at worst a rapist. While I have no problem at all with BDSM, I think that the argument appealing to the whole "Safe, Sane and Consensual" mindset might be misplaced here. There is zero evidence that's what's going on here. Even if it was, TPE relationship notwithstanding, once one member of the dyad says "No.", all bets are off.

The Western tradition of thinking about marriage that everyone here seems so eager to get away from proposes that that good sex is possible only within the context created when two people unconditionally and irrevocably give themselves to each other, and thereby become one so long as they both remain alive.

I think some people want to get away from it because they largely reject that the construct of 'marriage' is the only way to create that situation, they reject the "so long as they both remain alive" part [that is, given the arguments concerning totally failed marriages/relationships due to abuse, drinking, et. al.] or they reject the premise outright.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:19 AM on February 23, 2006


exlotuseater, whatever Nietzche tried to extricate from belief in God, it certainly wasn't morality--as he was the first to say. And as for Hume, Bentham, and Mill, Nietzsche remains in some ways the best place to look for trenchant criticisms of them and their ilk (including such lesser lights as Singer who weren't even born when Nietzsche eviscerated them). Nietzsche I can take seriously. The others not so much.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:02 AM on February 23, 2006


If you promise yourself to someone for better or for worse, and then that other person reaches their worst, you discover whether you are in a real marriage or just a commercial exchange between consenting adults.

The implication there is that things will change for the better between two people... eventually.

Well, I write as the now-adult child of parents who have been there and done that. I had a long comment ready to post in the affair thread last week explaining the experiences behind my position, but it got eaten by the internet and I didn't have it saved. I'm not going to write it again because frankly, it exhausted me.

I'm not going to argue philosophy or religion or debate which morality is better for who, because I will admit that I am not that well read and you can assuredly talk circles around me in those departments. All I have is my life and the experiences it gave me. And those experiences taught me that no matter what you try or how much effort you exert towards a goal, sometimes you will not succeed. Maybe that was the wrong lesson to take away. I don't know. What I do know is that I am entirely too biased to continue this discussion, and I should step out and let the cooler heads carry on.

Gee, was this a mini-flameout? Is that a record, or something?
posted by quantumetric at 9:28 AM on February 23, 2006


quantumetric: The implication there is that things will change for the better between two people... eventually.

I don't believe I implied that; I certainly don't think it is true. I should not have mentioned only examples in which people do reunite, because there are plenty of cases where that doesn't happen. Like you, I've seen people who have been separated from spouses and not been able to reunite, or reunite and then separate again. Jobs, or jail, or addiction, or abusive personalities, adultery, etc... can keep people apart, and sometimes, perhaps often, there's no happy ending.

quantumetric: And those experiences taught me that no matter what you try or how much effort you exert towards a goal, sometimes you will not succeed.

On the one hand, who could disagree? But on the other hand I wonder what you think the "goal" is that we're talking about? If I promise myself to someone, I'm committing myself to being exclusively for that person, "forsaking all others" as they used to say. I've committed myself to promoting her good. I'm available for her. So long as we're both alive, I remain bound to her. She might have to separate from me because I can't or won't stop drinking, or I might have to separate from her because she can't or won't stop beating me up, but I remain bound to her. So there's a real sense in which success is always within my grasp. However much we may fail each other, it remains within my power to continue to be exclusively for her. She may run off to gay Paree and do whatever she likes with whomever she likes, but it's still within my power to remain faithful to her (even if I have to get a restraining order against her to keep her from beating me up again, and set up elaborate conditions she must satisfy in order for us to reunite). Remaining exclusively for a particular person is a goal--and certainly not a trivial or easy one!--that is always within my grasp. And if someone asks me what I think I'm doing, when I go to get that restraining order, the answer is that I'm loving my wife as best I know how. Surely that is the kind of faithfulness people have in mind when they get married, no? I assumed that's what Cytherea was getting at by her comment about hoping to have the strength to act with the integrity of her friend whose husband had become paraplegic.

Let me ask this question again, since no one has answered it: what's the difference between a spinal cord injury and an emotional problem that leads to addiction or abuse? We admire the person who cares for his or her debilitated spouse, but somehow think that bad behavior by one spouse gives the other spouse good reason to attempt to dissolve the bond between them. In these days when we look at things holistically, and realize that physical and mental problems are not so different, why do we admire the one spouse who stays by his or her paraplegic spouse, but encourage the other spouse to "get on with your life" and pretend you're not really married to that bum? I really don't get it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:37 AM on February 23, 2006


peeping_Thomist : "Let me ask this question again, since no one has answered it: what's the difference between a spinal cord injury and an emotional problem that leads to addiction or abuse?"

You're proposing that a mental problem is equivalent to a physical problem - sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't. An addiction can be far less demanding to the partner than a spinal cord injury - an addiction can be treated and controlled, a person with a spinal cord injury usually won't get better. Addictions are more "exciting" as they required quick and violent interventions at some points and a constant vigilance thereafter. Abuse is different matter because it can be life-threatning to the the partner and some mental states leading to or facilitating abuse are not even understood much less treatable. All situations are quite demanding to the partner willing to help, and abuse is probably out of line with the other two (and many others). The mistake here is yours, saying abuse or addiction are instances of "bad behavior"

But then again, your examples are misguided (borderline insulting, even) - you're accusing everyone who disagrees with your Christian marriage stance of thinking marriage/partnership/whatever is only about sex then. It is obviously not the case. But it is also obviously not the case that love must somehow be forever and there is no reason to force the situation when the very basic emotion that put two people together is not there anymore. People make mistakes, life moves on, sometimes in different directions, sometimes in different speeds for each partner. Forcing two people to stay together just because some tradition says so is not a rational action in any way.
posted by nkyad at 10:15 AM on February 24, 2006


What Nykad said.
posted by klangklangston at 12:36 PM on February 24, 2006


nkyad: you're accusing everyone who disagrees with your Christian marriage stance of thinking marriage/partnership/whatever is only about sex then.

No, I'm not. I'm accusing them of thinking that faithfulness to one's spouse makes sense only so long as it promises a happy life, and that one's spouse can be thrown under the bus if continued fidelity threatens one's own personal fulfillment. I guess I'm not actually accusing, because this is how people talk.

nkyad: there is no reason to force the situation when the very basic emotion that put two people together

We're getting somewhere here. Love is not an emotion.

nkyad: People make mistakes, life moves on, sometimes in different directions, sometimes in different speeds for each partner.

The idea that the act of promising oneself to another person can be a "mistake" is unintelligible. A person might attempt to promise oneself to another but for whatever reason be unable to do so (e.g. if the person is already married but hasn't told you), but the idea that one could do it but have it be a mistake makes no sense. Such a promising isn't a means to some further end, it's a taking of a certain kind of stance toward a particular other person.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:41 PM on February 24, 2006


Love is not an emotion.

What, pray tell, is love?

The idea that the act of promising oneself to another person can be a "mistake" is unintelligible.

Unintelligible means "cannot be understood". I can understand this idea, hence it is not unintelligible.
posted by Bugbread at 7:32 PM on February 24, 2006


bugbread: What, pray tell, is love?

According to the Yoga Atlantic website, "Love is the most profoundly integrated state in the universe. It is simultaneously the highest, deepest and most powerful state of consciousness.

Love contains the potential of all possibility. Love is God. God is Love."

That sounds about right to me, although I don't think I'd call love a state so much as an act or an actuality.

bugbread: Unintelligible means "cannot be understood". I can understand this idea, hence it is not unintelligible.

There are lots of unintelligible forms of words that people claim they understand; it doesn't follow that those words express anything intelligible.

The act of promising something can be rendered null by certain conditions. For example, if the person lied to you in order to get you to promise. So you could say that you were mistaken about whether you were in a position to make the promise. (E.g, I've more than once "promised" to be at one event after I've already promised to be at a conflicting event, because I forgot about the earlier promise.) But if you have successfully promised something to someone, without any conditions that nullify the promise, I don't see how it can be said that you have made a mistake. You've made a promise.

posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:18 PM on February 24, 2006


peeping_Thomist : "We're getting somewhere here. Love is not an emotion."

I may have been betrayed by English as a second language, so please enlighten me. Are you playing with semantics here or you actually have some deeper point to make?

peeping_Thomist : "The idea that the act of promising oneself to another person can be a 'mistake' is unintelligible. A person might attempt to promise oneself to another but for whatever reason be unable to do so (e.g. if the person is already married but hasn't told you), but the idea that one could do it but have it be a mistake makes no sense. Such a promising isn't a means to some further end, it's a taking of a certain kind of stance toward a particular other person."

And herein lies your answer. When you say "promising oneself to another person" or "it's a taking of a certain kind of stance toward a particular other person", you are talking about two particular individuals in a particular time expressing their desire to live together and build a unity for the rest of their life. But, unless you propose people are unchangeable quantities, you should be able to see that there many, many situations that would make such a promise impossible to fulfill or even false. One of them may have been pretending to be something he/she isn't, just to extract the promise (it is a classical situation, even: many cases of abuse start just after marriage, without any hint before that) . One or both of them may change so much they become, for all practical effects, someone else (and not the person who made the original promise). It is not, as you say, an hedonistic stance towards life as whole. I am not saying there aren't people who will change spouses as you change shirts, just that the opposite, some absolute requirement to stay in a miserable situation just because you said you would is just as wrong. It is not a problem of pursuing pleasure at all costs, just an acknowledgement that what you want and think when you're 20 may not be what you want and think when you're 40 or 60.

peeping_Thomist : "I'm accusing them of thinking that faithfulness to one's spouse makes sense only so long as it promises a happy life, and that one's spouse can be thrown under the bus if continued fidelity threatens one's own personal fulfillment."

I think our difference is between "I will try hard enough by any reasonable measure" and "I will try forever". Since I believe there are some barriers in the Universe that can't be conquered, I tend to think people who adopt the first sentence are good enough, people who adopt the second are either trying to make themselves into martyrs or just being delusional. And yes, I know "hard enough" is not objectively measurable, so there will be room for slackers. So be it, each to his/her own. While I wouldn't commit myself to someone who jumps ship at the first hint of an iceberg in the horizon, there are people who prefer it this way. I am not judging them.
posted by nkyad at 8:35 PM on February 24, 2006


nkyad: Are you playing with semantics here or you actually have some deeper point to make?

Deeper point rooted in a semantic point: emotions are called passions because they are something one undergoes or endures or receives. (This is clear etymologically: the Latin word passio also is the root of the English passive.) An act is something one does. The claim that God is love does not mean that God undergoes or endures or receives something, but rather that God is actively self-communicative. Likewise, we love by giving ourselves to others. The act of self-giving (namely, love) is accompanied by various emotions in its various phases, but it does not logically depend on any of them. Hence it is a category mistake to say "I don't feel emotion X, therefore I don't love person P any more."

Think it this way: if the marital promise to love the other person in the future were a promise to have a certain emotion in the future, it would make no sense as a promise. I cannot possibly promise to have a certain emotion in the future. Maybe this misunderstanding is the source of people saying that marrying was a mistake: they think of the promise as a kind of prediction. I predict that I will have this emotion in the future, and as it turned out I was wrong. But a promise is not a prediction. And if love were an emotion, we could not possibly promise it.

nkyad: many, many situations that would make such a promise impossible to fulfill or even false.

Many of the examples you give are of conditions that in the Catholic Church would be a solid basis for a declaration of nullity: that is, that there never was a real marriage.

The only example you give that doesn't fit that pattern is the "I'm a different person now, not the person who made the promise." And, to be blunt, I think that kind of talk is nonsense. Much about a person may change, but it makes no sense to say I could become a different person.

nkyad: I think our difference is between "I will try hard enough by any reasonable measure" and "I will try forever".

(1) You don't really mean "by any reasonable measure", because "forever" is a perfectly reasonable measure. You don't have the right to call other perfectly reasonable people delusional.

(2) When people really marry, their promise is to try forever. And if you talk to divorced people, they nearly all admit that they originally intended to try forever. It won't surprise you to hear that I think that people who cross their fingers when they promise to forsake all others until death parts them are never really married. They've merely entered into a convenient contract that can be dissolved at any moment.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:08 AM on February 25, 2006


peeping_Thomist writes "And if love were an emotion, we could not possibly promise it."

No, it's exactly that. People promise stuff they can't deliver on all the time. "I will make you happy" "I will never leave you" "I will never cheat on you". And people are really really sincere when they make these promises, they're just incredibly naive and wrong. Love is an emotion, and yet people promise it all the time.

peeping_Thomist writes "And, to be blunt, I think that kind of talk is nonsense. Much about a person may change, but it makes no sense to say I could become a different person."

To you, this may be nonsense. To someone who doesn't believe in a soul, the converse would be nonsense. Unless you can prove whether or not we have souls, it would be safer just to say "I disagree". Calling it "nonsense", like your use of "unintelligible" above, is saying "this is nonsensical because I don't understand it". If we use that meterstick, we may as well call Swahili, advanced calculus, and object oriented programming "nonsense", because I don't understand them.

Or, rephrased, every time you say something is wrong because you don't understand it, you're merely making an opening for someone who does understand it, but doesn't understand your position, to say that your position is wrong because they don't understand it.
posted by Bugbread at 4:36 PM on February 25, 2006


bugbread: People promise stuff they can't deliver on all the time.

Yes, people often promise what they can't guarantee, but in order for it to be intelligible as a promise rather than a prediction, it has to be something that someone, somewhere could guarantee. It's unintelligible for a community to establish a practice of "promising" to experience future emotional states. The fact that people all the time promise future love therefore proves that love is not an emotion. QED.

bugbread: To someone who doesn't believe in a soul, the converse would be nonsense.

Huh? I wasn't assuming anything about souls. I'm assuming that you count persons by counting human bodies (or perhaps only relatively mature human bodies). I've read enough books about personal identity theory to be confident in my claim that the notion that "the person who got me into this marriage wasn't me but rather another person" is nonsense. John Locke is the best-known classical philosopher to articulate the "psychological continuity" theory of personhood and Derek Parfit is the best-known contemporary philosopher to develop the theory in full detail. But in the end that theory is nonsense because it does not hook up in the right way with ordinary language. It all has to do with what you think is the point of having a philosophical theory of personhood. And the point can't be to give a scientific theory in contrast to "the manifest image"; "person" will not be a term in a complete scientific theory, so the test of a theory of personhood, unlike the test of a good scientific theory, has to be how well it makes sense of our ordinary modes of discourse. And both Locke and Parfit fail on that count.

It's the psychological continuity theory that has the spooky assumptions, not the theory that we count persons by counting human bodies.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:56 PM on February 25, 2006


Online video connected with the Travis Frey Pottawattamie County "kidnapping case".
posted by nickyskye at 5:09 PM on February 25, 2006


It's unintelligible for a community to establish a practice of "promising" to experience future emotional states. The fact that people all the time promise future love therefore proves that love is not an emotion. QED.

It's not unintelligible to promise something you can't deliver. Love is an emotion. People promise that emotion. It's a promise that they can't keep. People promise stuff they can't keep all the time.

Regarding soulhood, you're right, to continue the thread I started would just be to play a game of semantics. The test of a theory of anything has to be how well it makes sense of our ordinary modes of discourse. And by the same token, your saying that love is not an emotion is just playing a game of semantics that distances the words "love" and "emotion" from our ordinary modes of discourse. You saying that love isn't an emotion is the same type of intellectual wanking that me saying that "you aren't the same person you were yesterday" is.
posted by Bugbread at 10:05 PM on February 25, 2006


bugbread: It's not unintelligible to promise something you can't deliver.

Of course it's not. But that isn't what I said was unintelligible. What I said was unintelligible was promising something that no one anywhere could guarantee. Obviously people all the time promise what they in particular can't deliver, but in order for it to be something promise-able, it has to be the sort of thing that some people some times can guarantee. And emotions are not something one does, they are something one undergoes. One can predict one's emotions, but cannot promise them.

You're not yet responding to my argument, which was about what is required in order for a community practice to be intelligible. In other words, what it takes to "make sense of our ordinary modes of discourse," among which promising is one of the most significant. I grant you that, against the background of an intelligible community practice of promising certain kinds of action (say, to do a favor for a friend), individuals may promise what they cannot do. But there is no such background here. Nobody can promise to feel tomorrow the way they feel today. There's a whole genre of pop songs devoted to this theme, speaking of ordinary modes of discourse.

Your retort assumes the point at issue, and thus fails to address my argument. Since love is something we can and do promise, it is not an emotion. There are emotions associated with it, some of which we call by the same name, but none of them is something we can promise.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:32 PM on February 26, 2006


Anyone can promise to feel tomorrow the way they feel today. People do it all the time. There is, as you say, a whole genre of pop songs devoted to the theme of feeling tomorrow the way they feel to day.

But, to be fair, I'll admit that love is not necessarily an emotion, because "emotion" itself is hard to define. To be more precise (while sounding more vague), love is a convoluted batch of chemical and electrical processes in the brain. With current levels of scientific ability, we can promise all we like that certain neurons will fire in certain ways at certain times, but we can't carry out our promises. Perhaps in the future, we'll reach a level where we can promise to love someone for the rest of our lives, and sign a contract with a neuro clinic to ensure it. Maybe not.
posted by Bugbread at 6:27 PM on February 26, 2006


bugbread: Perhaps in the future, we'll reach a level where we can promise to love someone for the rest of our lives, and sign a contract with a neuro clinic to ensure it.

But in fact we can right now promise to love someone for the rest of our lives, because what we promise isn't to be in a future emotional state.

You're confusing predicting with promising.

The ordinary language, which we both agree is normative in these matters, isn't all that complicated. We draw a distinction between two ways of speaking. On the one hand, we say "I love you". There, love is a transitive verb. Loving someone is clearly doing something. We also talk about being "in love". There, love is something like an emotion, not something one does.

The way marriage vows are phrased makes clear which sense of the word "love" is intended: I promise to love you, forsaking all others, until death parts us. I don't promise to be "in love" with you until death parts us, because I couldn't promise that.

If I thought traditional marriage involved promising to have certain emotions forever, I'd agree with you that such a promise is unreasonable. But people who advocate traditional marraige don't see it as that kind of "promise", because such a "promise", even for the short term, goes beyond what either party can deliver. It's nothing more than a prediction plus an expression of hope, not a solemn vow.

Marriage demands something you always can deliver, but delivering it is sometimes quite difficult.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:59 PM on February 26, 2006


But in fact we can right now promise to love someone for the rest of our lives, because what we promise isn't to be in a future emotional state.

You're confusing predicting with promising.


No, I'm keeping "predicting" and "promising" separate, I'm just disagreeing about what love is, so my conclusions are different.

The ordinary language, which we both agree is normative in these matters, isn't all that complicated. We draw a distinction between two ways of speaking. On the one hand, we say "I love you". There, love is a transitive verb. Loving someone is clearly doing something. We also talk about being "in love". There, love is something like an emotion, not something one does.

Then are we positing that love works differently for people who speak different languages? For example "to be angry at" is a transitive verb in Japanese. So is "to be jealous of". Are we positing that neither anger or jealousy are emotions? "To be happy about" is also a transitive verb. Is happiness no longer an emotion?

I guess I just don't buy your use of linguistic quirks in English to say that there is some overarching "love" thing which is separate from the electrical and chemical signals that make up our emotions, thoughts, and feelings.
posted by Bugbread at 2:04 AM on February 27, 2006


bugbread: I guess I just don't buy your use of linguistic quirks in English to say that there is some overarching "love" thing which is separate from the electrical and chemical signals that make up our emotions, thoughts, and feelings

It's bizarre that you are bringing in a scientific theory, which many if not most of the people who speak don't English don't accept, to explain ordinary English usage. I think it makes good sense to say that the love promised in marriage is a kind of voluntary stance or attitude of self-communication that implies action and is accompanied in its various phases by various homonymous emotions. This is also the standard explanation of the practice of promising love that is given to people who are preparing for marriage.

On the other hand, you think that the traditional marriage vow is unintelligible because of some talk about electrical and chemical signals. (I see no reason to think "love" will be part of or reducible to a final scientific theory.)

Which of these two "theories" does a better job of making sense of our ordinary discourse?

You say you are keeping promising and predicting separate, but you haven't been able to give an explanation of how anyone can promise future love, short of hypothesizing some future sci-fi world in which we can pay to have our brains programmed. I claim that when you took your marriage vows in Japan, you promised something you could deliver, namely to love your wife, but on your account this makes no sense. On your account you were confidently predicting you would continue to feel the way you felt then, and expressing a profound hope that your prediction was correct. That's not a promise.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:02 AM on February 27, 2006


It's bizarre that you are bringing in a scientific theory, which many if not most of the people who speak don't English don't accept, to explain ordinary English usage.

I'm not trying to explain anything about English usage. You are defending the definition of love based on English usage. I'm saying the two are not strongly related. That's not explaining ordinary English usage, any more than if you say "a pineapple comes from a pine tree, because it has 'pine' in it", and I counter "That doesn't make sense, it's just a quirk of English", that I am explaining ordinary English usage.

I see no reason to think "love" will be part of or reducible to a final scientific theory.

And I see no reason how it could be reducible to anything else. Science is the study of reality. If something is real (physical or intangible), it can be eventually reduced to science.

you haven't been able to give an explanation of how anyone can promise future love, short of hypothesizing some future sci-fi world in which we can pay to have our brains programmed.

If I failed to give an explanation, I apologize. Here is my explanation: they can promise something that they can't deliver.

And, yes, my promise to my wife made no sense. I was also married by a Protestant minister, even though my wife is Buddhist/Shinto/miscellaneous, and I'm basically atheist. I also carried around white gloves which I didn't wear, wore a necktie despite never using it to wipe my face, and cut a wedding cake as my "first joint work with my wife", even though we'd worked on projects before. Weddings are full of things that, when looked at strictly, don't make much sense.

Perhaps as part of the ritual I promised to always love my wife. To be honest, I don't remember the symbolic parts of the ceremony as much as the parts she and I spoke in our own words. But I suppose on reflection, what I have actually promised is to always work to love my wife, to be honest with her, to be kind to her, to honor her. I promised, when the feeling of love is in danger of flagging, to strive to love her, to never give up in that effort (er, unless she does something superinsane like stabbing our kid or the like).
posted by Bugbread at 8:30 AM on February 27, 2006


bugbread: If something is real (physical or intangible), it can be eventually reduced to science.

Thanks for being forthright about your dogmatic scientism. We'll have to agree to disagree on that issue.

bugbread: I have actually promised is to always work to love my wife, to be honest with her, to be kind to her, to honor her.

I'd call that promising to love her: that is, promising to always work to be in love with her, to be honest with her, to be kind to her, to honor her. But we don't need to quibble over words.

Given that that is what you've promised, how could you ever discover you had made a mistake? You could discover you weren't any longer in a certain emotional state, but your promise would bind you to continue working to get back into that emotional state, wouldn't it?

And why would you give up in the effort if she did something superinsane? Wouldn't that be when she would need you most and fulfilling your promise would be the most necessary?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2006


While it may remind you of dogmatic scientism, I don't think that's really accurate. From the page you linked, it seems that scientism is primarily about putting trust in science as a means of betterment. I don't think that is the case. Science is like a brick: it can be used for good (building a house), or for evil (hitting someone on the head).

If you would prefer, I would switch "science" with "non-paranormal". I think love is formed by non-paranormal processes. This is because to me the "normal" is synonymous with "reality", and the "paranormal" with "not reality". So, yeah, I suppose, while I don't fit within "scientism" as defined by the wiki article, if you consider scientism to be someone believing in only the physical world (both tangible and intangible) and no spiritual world, well, yeah, I'm a dogmatic physicalist. I presume, from your argument, that you are a dogmatic non-physicalist (whether that non-physical be some god, or some non-god oriented spiritual realm, or a psychic realm, or whatever).

I'd call that promising to love her: that is, promising to always work to be in love with her, to be honest with her, to be kind to her, to honor her. But we don't need to quibble over words.

Apparently we did, because what you are calling "promising to love her" I would not have called that. And if you define "loving" as including "trying to love", then most of our argument so far has been spinning our wheels. Perhaps we agree with some core beliefs, but it is precisely because we're using words differently that it seems we disagree.

Given that that is what you've promised, how could you ever discover you had made a mistake?

Given what I've promised her? I doubt I could discover I'd made a mistake. I dunno, if I was delusional, and there was no her, and I'd made a promise to a mop or a chihuahua, maybe there'd be a mistake. But that was kind of my point: people, in general, promise to do things that they can't carry out. Those can be mistakes. I tried to avoid that kind of mistake by making a promise that I can carry out. That shouldn't be a mistake.
posted by Bugbread at 6:47 PM on February 27, 2006


bugbread: Science is like a brick: it can be used for good (building a house), or for evil (hitting someone on the head).

Apparently you don't think good and evil are real, since you say everything real is reducible to science. Anyway, so far as I know nothing we're talking about turns on whether there's anything non-physical.

bugbread: I tried to avoid that kind of mistake by making a promise that I can carry out.

That makes good sense to me, and I think it's how most people who get married think about it (if they think about it). You have made a promise (unless you discover something that reveals that your apparent promise was null all along, such as that she was a hallucination, or she was already married, or whatever).

You haven't answered the question of why you would feel free to break your promise if your wife did something horrible like killing your child. As I asked before, wouldn't that be a time when she would most need your support? Why would you stop trying to love her just at the point when she was in most need?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:35 AM on February 28, 2006


Apparently you don't think good and evil are real, since you say everything real is reducible to science.

You're more or less right, but it's quite an involved side discussion, so perhaps best skipped. Suffice it to say that I think good and evil are conceptual products of humanity, but as a human raised in human society, they affect me as if they were real.

You haven't answered the question of why you would feel free to break your promise if your wife did something horrible like killing your child.

I suppose it's because I consider my promise to be to a combination of physical and intellectual entities. That is, I didn't promise the meat that is my wife that I would always try to love her. I promised her mind. There are always things that you don't know about others, but I think there are limits to acceptable range. If she was crazy enough to eat my kid's liver with fava beans, I would (probably) feel that either she had misled me into thinking she was a different person than she was (outside the little misleadings that are common or acceptable), or that I had been terribly mistaken about whom I knew, and that I chose a course of action based on that mistaken apprehension. The promise wasn't a "mistake", per se, but it was a decision made based on faulty premises.
posted by Bugbread at 6:12 AM on February 28, 2006


bugbread: I didn't promise the meat that is my wife that I would always try to love her. I promised her mind.

So you can't see and caress the recipient of your promise. All you can see or touch is meat, and from the behavior of the meat you infer to the existence of a "mind" to whom you vow yourself.

Such contempt for the human body!

Even though you may talk about "meat" and "mind", I hope you don't really live that way.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:37 PM on February 28, 2006


Well, I was trying to simplify things, not cast aspersions on meat. I just meant that, unless you're a teenager, you fall in love with the mind, personality, and character of the person you marry, not their tits and eyes. I have no contempt for tits or eyes, but they are the bonuses to a loved one, not the thing that you love.
posted by Bugbread at 8:05 PM on February 28, 2006


bugbread: you fall in love with the mind, personality, and character of the person you marry, not their tits and eyes.

Here's where we disagree. I would have thought that you fall in love with a person, not with various properties of a person. Apparently you love various properties of your wife. I love my wife.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:09 PM on February 28, 2006


I would have thought that you fall in love with a person, not with various properties of a person.

How is 'person' [in your opinion] distinguished from the 'various properties' that make up the person?

In other words, the 'person' of your wife that you say you love is composed of different properties that make her who she is... if enough of those were to change, would you not then consider her a different person? Or is the quality of personhood something immutable and essential?

Or, to make it less personal, say we have a person X who has a set of characteristics that make him/her identifiable as a 'self' at a moment in time; if they were to suffer a stroke and have a drastic personality change-- in terms of demeanor, attitudes, perceptions and beliefs-- if enough of these change, then do we still consider them the same person?

There are some that would argue that a 'person' or 'self' is not a persistent entity, but rather a collection of shifting beliefs and attitudes that are very tenuously held together...

Really, I'm just curious as to what distinction you make between 'person' or 'personhood', and the 'component parts [properties] that make up the person'.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:25 PM on February 28, 2006


Apparently you love various properties of your wife. I love my wife.

Ok. That seems fair. I'm going to guess my wife thinks the same of me: she probably loves me overall, but she probably doesn't love the crud that forms in my eyes when I sleep, or my occassional dandruff. Since we're on equal footing, though, it works out fine. And it's pretty convenient linguistic shorthand to say "I love my wife" rather than "I love all the aspects of my wife which I love, and not those which I don't, and when weighting those various factors against eachother, the amount of love greatly exceeds the amount of not-love", so I think I'll continue to say "I love my wife", although that doesn't mean the same thing as when you say it.
posted by Bugbread at 10:49 PM on February 28, 2006


bugbread: I love all the aspects of my wife which I love, and not those which I don't, and when weighting those various factors against eachother, the amount of love greatly exceeds the amount of not-love

You have made clear that you are willing to continue your convenient domestic arrangement with your wife only so long as she can efficiently and reliably provide you with access to enough (as measured by some "reasonable" standard, which for you precludes a lifelong commitment) of what you love. Since it is not her that you love but only certain desirable aspects that she brings to the bargaining table, you see nothing wrong in abandoning your wife if the "weighting" of her loveable and unloveable aspects tips decisively in the wrong direction. To speak plainly, she's got what you want, and you've got what she wants, and so long as you both can efficiently and reliably provide what the other wants, a mutually satisfactory exchange of goods and services can continue.

How is this thoroughly commercialized relationship you have with your wife different from prostitution? You don't love her, and apparently she doesn't love you. By your own lights, at least according to your official story, you're both just using each other to get what you want from each other.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:21 AM on March 1, 2006


You have made clear that you are willing to continue your convenient domestic arrangement with your wife only so long as she can efficiently and reliably provide you with access to enough (as measured by some "reasonable" standard, which for you precludes a lifelong commitment) of what you love.

I have made clear that I will continue to love the person I married as long as she remains significantly the person I married.

Since it is not her that you love but only certain desirable aspects that she brings to the bargaining table

My wife is the sum of her aspects. If I love her aspects, I love her. I do, hence I do.

How is this thoroughly commercialized relationship you have with your wife different from prostitution?

Because I love her.

You don't love her

So you say. I disagree. And in any disagreement about what I, myself, feel, between myself and someone I've known for perhaps an hour on the internet, I'm going to tend to believe myself. So, it's a shame you don't understand love outside of your own particular approach to it, but you not understanding that I love my wife does not mean that I do not, in fact, love my wife.

peeping_Thomist, this seems to be a recurring problem with you: You not understanding something does not mean it's false.
posted by Bugbread at 5:41 PM on March 1, 2006


If it helps to put it in perspective (perhaps it won't, I don't know), the argument you are making sounds to me like the declaration of "love" is completely divorced from any aspects of the object of love's character, personality, and the like. If so, that means that one's declaration of love could be to anyone, chosen at random, much like the Moonies with their mass marriages where someone meets their lifelong partner at the wedding ceremony itself.

However, I do accept that, while I don't understand declaring love to a random entity regardless of what they are like, I understand that it can be done, and that some people are very happy that way (there are, for example, successful marriages between Moonies).
posted by Bugbread at 6:02 PM on March 1, 2006


bugbread: I have made clear that I will continue to love the person I married as long as she remains significantly the person I married.

Of course you will. But she remains "significantly the person you married" only so long as she continues to deliver enough of what you want from her ("enough" as determined by some "reasonable" standard other than lifelong fidelity). After all, on your view the "person" who is your wife could never cease to have loveable aspects that "weigh" more than her unloveable aspects. It's an analytic truth: if the "weight" ever shifted past some "reasonable" point, she would no longer be the same person you married, and your promise would no longer bind you to her.

No need to worry about my misunderstanding you; you've made yourself perfectly clear.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:07 PM on March 1, 2006


peeping_Thomist:

It's good that you understand me. Your summary above is fairly accurate. This is why I don't promise love, but only effort to love. Your base beliefs are different, so you promise love. If you are married (I'm assuming you are, but I'm not really sure), then I think we can both agree (if I have indeed made myself perfectly clear) that we both love our spouses now, but that you suspect that your love will last longer than mine, and that I have no idea which of our loves will last longer, or if they will both last to our deaths.

Thanks for the interesting conversation.
posted by Bugbread at 6:29 PM on March 1, 2006


bugbread: This is why I don't promise love, but only effort to love.

What I call "love" you would call an "effort to love". That question is separate from the one about the nature of persons.

If your wife ever changed so that her loveable aspects no longer "weighed" more than her unloveable aspects, you would no longer feel bound by your promise to try to love her, because she would no longer be the same person you married. In other words, she's on permanent probation: so long as she continues to measure up (i.e., gives you enough of what you want), you'll continue to try to love her. Of course, you are in the same situation with respect to her.

The logical structure of your relationship to her is thus not fundamentally different from that of your relationships to your employer, your customers, or any other of the consenting adults with whom you routinely negotiate temporary contracts in order to secure your mutual self-interest, such as with a prostitute. There are certainly differences regarding what goods and services are being exchanged in these various relationships, but the logical structure of the relationships is, for you, the same.

Presumably this is because you assume that no other kind of relationship of equality between adult human persons is possible. Perhaps you loved your child without having to first "weigh" his loveable aspects against his unloveable aspects, but that isn't love for a "person" on your view, since "persons" have to have a stable set of loveable and unloveable aspects, and, really, what wouldn't count as becoming a "substantially different person" when you are a newborn? So I guess your love for your child is akin to your "love" for a pet, since it obviously cannot yet be love for any particular "person".

What must it be like to feel that you remain worthy of (which for you can only mean that you have the legitimate expectation of) your wife's love only so long as you continue to manage to the feat of having your loveable aspects "weigh" more than your unloveable aspects?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:48 PM on March 1, 2006


What must it be like to feel that you remain worthy of (which for you can only mean that you have the legitimate expectation of) your wife's love only so long as you continue to manage to the feat of having your loveable aspects "weigh" more than your unloveable aspects?

Well, it's hard to explain what it feels like (as explaining any emotion is difficult), but I'd say being loved by my wife feels pretty damn good. I can only imagine the opposite position, because I guess my brain isn't wired like yours, but it feels awesome to know that my wife loves me because of the way I am, and not out of a sense of duty because she made some promise when we married (though, to be fair, that was only a year ago, so the two positions are still pretty much the same). I would imagine that, if in 30 years, my wife still loves me because of how I am, that would feel even better, whereas if it were just because "I promised, so I have to", it wouldn't be so great.

So, your kind of love makes you really happy, and my kind of love would make you sad. My kind of love makes me really happy, and your kind of love would make me sad. It sounds like we both have the best of both worlds.

That seems like a good stopping place, so I'm going to go ahead and duck out of this conversation, now.
posted by Bugbread at 5:01 PM on March 2, 2006


Sorry, but I have to ask one last question. I've been thinking about the way you talk about loving a "person".

Suppose your wife flipped out and did something superinsane, like (to use your example) killing your kid. At that point, with the "weight" having decisively shifted, she's no longer the same person, and you are freed from your promise to try to love her. You find another "person" to love, and move on with your life, happy that your new wife loves you for the way you are rather than just for yourself, much as you had been happy with your first wife.

Suppose then that your former wife, as the result of years of helpful medical treatment, has her orignal balance of loveable and unloveable aspects restored, so that the "weight" is now shifted back to what it was before. On your account, it seems we should now say that she is once again the same person she had been before.

Wouldn't you now be in a position where you have promised something to two different people that you cannot possibly deliver to both? And wasn't one of the points we agreed on in this discussion that it was important that marriage vows have to be constructed so that a person can actually keep them? I can't get those two things to go together: (1) promising trying to love rather than love, so that you can keep your promise, and (2) getting in a situation where you can't keep at least one promise to try to love.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:37 PM on March 2, 2006


I guess the direct answer would be that the promise should be "to try to love you, and only you". If that is the case, then even if she becomes "not her", I would still be bound by the second half of the promise, which is to try not to love anyone else, hence the second wife situation would not come to be, unless I broke my promise.
posted by Bugbread at 11:25 PM on March 2, 2006


bugbread: even if she becomes "not her", I would still be bound by the second half of the promise, which is to try not to love anyone else, hence the second wife situation would not come to be

I admire your answer, and think it is the best you could give in light of your theoretical constraints, but I also think it reveals unresolveable problems for you.

If your understanding of your promise is right, then the promise you make is much more drastic than the one I make. I promise only to love my wife so long as we are both alive. If she dies, I am free to get on with my life. You promise to try to love the "person" who is your wife, and only that "person", but you are not freed from that promise by her death, because you have no way to know whether the "person" who is your wife will be restored to you at some future date. Her mind might be reinstantiated in some other body (or computer simulation, I imagine you would have to say), and since what you love is the "person" and not the "meat", then you would continue to be bound to continue to try to love "her" after she's moved to a new physical form. And since you can never know definitively whether "she" will show up again, even the funeral for "her" "meat" will not free you from your promise.

Whereas if my wife dies, and after that some different human body shows up with all my wife's memories, beliefs, desires, quirks, etc..., I am under no obligation to love that person, whoever it is, who, whatever else she is, is not my wife. (I have thought about this question more than most people, partly because my wife of over 20 years is an identical twin, and in the early years of our marriage there were sometimes cases of mistaken identity.)

And, note, that if your wife changes personalities dramatically, you are bound by your promise _not_ to try to love the "meat" that once was your wife, even though your loving that "meat" when it is thus suffering may be the only thing that would restore to you the "person" you regard as your wife! How crazy is that?

So which one of us is making a rash promise now? I am freed from my promise at death. You are never freed from yours, not even by the judgment that your wife's "weight" of loveable and unloveable aspects has shifted, since you can never know when "she" will be restored to you.

You may not be aware of this, but Christians do not believe that the marriage bond survives into the afterlife. Or, to put it another way, we believe that we'll be more intimately united to every person in heaven than we are to our spouses in this life. See Matt 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, and Luke 20:27-40, where Jesus addresses a similar question about the nature of marriage.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:13 AM on March 3, 2006


To be really really accurate, the answer I gave above is a hypothetical, and not the actual promise I made to my wife. The reality is far stickier and harder to pinpoint, perhaps because I never actually put the conditions on paper. In reality, I made a promise which is not perfectly keepable, because I didn't make the promise to love only her ever again. If I really try to nail it down, I guess, I made a promise to love her and only her while she still exists, hence I am freed from that obligation by her death, but I am capable of being put into an awkward situation if she dies and comes back to life, or if she changes radically, I fall in love with someone else, and she changes back again. Perhaps I should have made the promise to love her and only her for as long as she lives, but I'm not a big one for reductionism, and I probably look at things more as a matter of probabilities: that is, if I promise to try to love her and only her forever, then I am 100% capable of keeping my promise, with the drawback that if she dies tomorrow, and I live another 70 years, I will be loveless for all that time. If I promise to love her and only her for as long as she's her, I am 99% capable of keeping my promise (her changing massively, and then changing back, or her personality being built into a robot, or the like, is extremely unlikely), with the advantage that I am capable of loving someone after she dies, and the disadvantage that there's a 1 or 2% likelihood that she'll be robotized and I'll have broken my promise.

I know that probably sounds quite mercenary to you (playing love like one would play the horses), but for me, it's just the most obvious and logical approach to uncertain reality. Much in the same way that I won't promise to love her, but to try to love her, because the future is uncertain, the strength of my promise is also tempered by the uncertainty of the future.

If it helps any, we've already discussed that it's ok for one of us to remarry if the other passes away, and she's fine with that too, so it's not a unilateral decision.

Keep in mind that I'm the kind of person who gets really annoyed when weather forecasters talk about 0% or 100% chances of rain. I'm just pretty much incapable of accepting absolutes without knowing that I'm deceiving myself. I understand that you may be very capable of accepting absolutes.

Again (and this seems to be a recurring theme), given your value system, personality, and way of thinking, my type of declaration of love would seem like a bad thing were you to make it. Given my value system, personality, and way of thinking, your type of declaration of love would seem like a bad thing were I to make it.

And, yeah, I'm aware of the Christian afterlife bond dispersal thing (I was raised Roman Catholic). Folk Christianity puts you back with your family and pets in the afterlife, and everyone plays harps, but I understand that this has little to do with actual Christianity, and is more folk lore. (Though, to be fair, Mormons consider themselves Christians, and accept the afterlife marriage bond. The issue, of course, then, is whose definition of Christianity we're using. Not an issue I want to get into, but one that I do understand, as, being a Catholic in Texas, I am accustomed to having been on the receiving end of the "you aren't actually a Christian" approach. However, I digress, and that's a bigger can of worms which I don't particularly want to get into, if that's ok, since the Mormon thing was just an aside).
posted by Bugbread at 4:52 PM on March 3, 2006


bugbread: I'm just pretty much incapable of accepting absolutes without knowing that I'm deceiving myself.

But the alternative you have chosen, regrettably, is incoherence.

I think I have a way of redescribing things you might find helpful. The way I see it, concepts like "person" aren't scientific concepts. They were designed to have a certain range of application to fit a certain way of life. It is always possible to describe imaginable future situations in which our intuitions about how to apply a concept like "person" break down. The appropriate response to such a hypothesized breakdown, in my view, is to recognize that the concept was designed to have a certain kind of application, and if the world we live in turned out to be radically different from what that application requires, there wouldn't be much point in trying to reconceive that concept; instead we should just register the fact that we had dramatically misconceived the kind of world we lived in.

To apply that to the case at hand, you seem to want to finagle a concept of "person" that will assure that nothing that happens in the future could ever show that you had committed yourself to something that turned out to be completely off-base. But as a consequence, you end up with a concept of "person" that doesn't fit the way you or anyone else actually lives life. (I note that you still haven't responded the point that your love for your child could not, on your view, have been love of a human person--even though it obviously is precisely that.)

In short, I think it's possible to accept absolutes without self-deception, precisely so long as you are willing to specify in advance the sorts of imaginable events that would require you to abandon your views.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:17 PM on March 5, 2006


But the alternative you have chosen, regrettably, is incoherence.

I don't think it's incoherent. I understand it. If it were incoherent, I would not be able to understand it. I would say it is fuzzy. The same could be said about statements like "I like to go to the pool" (Do I always like to go to the pool? Do I like all pools equally? Do I like the going, or just the being-at? etc). It does not include or encompass every possible situation or permutation. Very few statements, except tautologies, ever do. I don't find life incoherent even though it is made up of fuzzy situations.

I note that you still haven't responded the point that your love for your child could not, on your view, have been love of a human person--even though it obviously is precisely that.

True. Part of the problem here is that I'm ascribing a whole lot of personal choice to something which is, in the end, nothing but a bunch of chemicals and electricity. I love my kid because I am the result of an evolutionary chain where loving of one's own kids results in the carrying on of the gene chain, coupled with being raised in a household where I was loved, and in a society which favors loving ones' kids, so my developmental and cultural background and physiological background work together such that I love my kid. Probably a very similar chain describes why I really love my wife.

In short, I think it's possible to accept absolutes without self-deception, precisely so long as you are willing to specify in advance the sorts of imaginable events that would require you to abandon your views.

I guess that makes sense. I, personally, would describe that as "not accepting an absolute", in that by virtue of the fact that you are admitting the possibility of exception, you are not accepting the absoluteness, but I think that may be a semantic point. While I disagree, in content, with someone who says "I believe in absolutes", when it comes to someone who says "I accept absolutes, while specifying what would make me abandon my views", I agree with the contents, and just disagree with phrasing, which isn't too important if we're communicating.
posted by Bugbread at 7:06 PM on March 5, 2006


bugbread: True. Part of the problem here is that I'm ascribing a whole lot of personal choice to something which is, in the end, nothing but a bunch of chemicals and electricity.

Which makes clear that you don't yet have a minimally coherent self-conception. When the incoherence of your account comes to the fore, you gestalt-shift to a completely different genre of account, one in terms of which no one does, because no one can, live their lives. You don't yet have any way to make sense, in terms in which you can actually live your life (rather than merely describe your life from the standpoint of a disinterested observer), of your love for your own child.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:16 PM on March 5, 2006


bugbread: I, personally, would describe that as "not accepting an absolute", in that by virtue of the fact that you are admitting the possibility of exception

That's not quite right. I don't admit the possibility of exception; what I admit is the imaginability of exception. I have views from which it follows that there are all sorts of things that are imagineable that are not in fact possible. The notion that imaginability is the criterion of possibility is something I reject. The widespread acceptance of imaginability as the test of possibility is due to modern confusion about the relationship between the imagination and the intellect.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:57 PM on March 5, 2006


Which makes clear that you don't yet have a minimally coherent self-conception.

And, again, I have to point out that I understand my self-conception, so it must be somewhat coherent. The problem is that you don't understand it. It seems like this is becoming my standard response to your standard response: just because you don't understand something doesn't make it incoherent.

If you're talking about free will, I don't, effectively, believe in it. If there's a flaw in my self-description, it's been in all the attempts to describe why I do what I do as if it was of free will. That is, me switching to "it's just chemicals and electricity" is not me fleeing. If anything, it's me stopping fleeing.

Regarding the admitting of the imaginability of the exception, that's an excellent explanation. I disagree with you on the prevalence of absolutes, but I don't think that's a topic about which either of us can shed much light.

Anyway, it's been an interesting discussion, but I think I'm going to drop out here.
posted by Bugbread at 3:40 AM on March 6, 2006


bugbread: me switching to "it's just chemicals and electricity" is not me fleeing. If anything, it's me stopping fleeing.

But you can't take your stand there because there's no there there. No one actually ever lives his life in those terms, because no one can live his life in those terms. Hence, to the extent that you have been able to articulate them, the terms in which you do live your life are, it should be clear by now, incoherent. The problem isn't that I haven't understood what you're saying. Anyway, thanks for the conversation.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:25 AM on March 7, 2006


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