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Political Science & Promiscuity
May 9, 2006 7:01 PM   Subscribe

"The mind-set that invites a couple to use contraception is an anti-child mind-set," she told me. "So when a baby is conceived accidentally, the couple already have this negative attitude toward the child. Therefore seeking an abortion is a natural outcome. We oppose all forms of contraception." Don't even mention the mind-set behind a vaccine for HPV.
posted by missbossy (1194 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
The mindset revealed by these comments gives one pause. There are really people who think like this, aren't there? One can't help but they really don't think sex is a very good idea.
posted by LeisureGuy at 7:08 PM on May 9, 2006




If ever a post called for the use of the "batshitinsane" tag.....

I don't know what to say. I suspect this sort of view can't be reasoned with, and there's no point in trying.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:12 PM on May 9, 2006


"We see a direct connection between the practice of contraception and the practice of abortion," says Judie Brown, president of the American Life League

Well, hells bells, why don't you just come out and say using any form of contraception IS abortion? These people drive me nuts. I mean, could you say anything dumber?

"So when a baby is conceived accidentally, the couple already have this negative attitude toward the child. Therefore seeking an abortion is a natural outcome."

.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:19 PM on May 9, 2006


"We see a direct connection between the practice of contraception and the practice of abortion," says Judie Brown, president of the American Life League

Well, hells bells, why don't you just come out and say using any form of contraception IS abortion? These people drive me nuts. I mean, could you say anything dumber?

"So when a baby is conceived accidentally, the couple already have this negative attitude toward the child. Therefore seeking an abortion is a natural outcome."

.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:19 PM on May 9, 2006


WidgetAlley: Tag added gladly.

The problem with not trying to reason, argue, fight, whatever, is shown in the second link. A vaccine which could potentially save women's lives is opposed in the belief it encourages promiscuity. It's so insane that even batshit comes off looking good.
posted by missbossy at 7:22 PM on May 9, 2006


What - you thought these nutjobs just wanted to outlaw abortions? Do yourself a favor and go to a real fundie church and listen to a sermon, any sermon. Now imagine all the points of that sermon becoming the law of the land, and remember that next time you think about trying to have a meaningful dialog with these dark age cretins.
posted by 2sheets at 7:25 PM on May 9, 2006


I am getting so sick of these idiots. The main medical provider in my community is a 'christian' based one. There was a recent article in the local paper about a 19 year old women who went to one of their doctors not only being denied birth control , but also made to listen to a humiliating lecture.

These freaking moralists want to tell you have to have sex without birth control , but could care less if the babies that predictably come from this kind of idiocy need food, shelter and education because the mothers can't provide for them.
posted by UseyurBrain at 7:25 PM on May 9, 2006


It's not terribly surprising to those of us who have been on the front lines of this battle for 20 years. It is, however, terribly frightening that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum now.
posted by dejah420 at 7:27 PM on May 9, 2006


1. An Iraqi terrorist plants a bomb by the side of the road.
2. The bomb explodes, killing innocent civilians.
3. An American journalist reports this incident in an American newspaper.
4. The journalist is responsible for violence in Iraq.

See? It's really quite simple, actually.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:27 PM on May 9, 2006


I guess this is their answer to the argument "don't want abortion? provide plenty of birth control"....of course they'll seek an end to birth control too. Because sex is evil. And must be punished by the "pain of childbirth". Whatever...this faction is rapidly revealing themselves as the most like the islamofascists. Keep killing each other, fundies of all stripes.
posted by telstar at 7:34 PM on May 9, 2006


I'm unclear on what's wrong with an anti-child mind-set.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:36 PM on May 9, 2006


American Taliban.
posted by homunculus at 7:49 PM on May 9, 2006


Reginald Finger, an evangelical Christian and a former medical adviser to the conservative political organization Focus on the Family, said. "With any vaccine for H.I.V., disinhibition"--a medical term for the absence of fear--"would certainly be a factor, and it is something we will have to pay attention to with a great deal of care." Finger sits on the Centers for Disease Control's Immunization Committee, which makes those recommendations.

If teens were universally rational about fearing death or took no ill thought out risks they wouldn't be teens, they'd be old farts. What is this sadistic, homicidal idiot thinking?
posted by nickyskye at 8:14 PM on May 9, 2006


The problem with not trying to reason, argue, fight, whatever, is shown in the second link. A vaccine which could potentially save women's lives is opposed in the belief it encourages promiscuity. It's so insane that even batshit comes off looking good.

I'm all for fighting tooth and nail any legislation which limits women's choices when it comes to our own damn bodies, and for supporting those that promote health. But I'm not at all sure the people that claim that a HPV vaccine would promote promiscuity would respond to reason. After all, they clearly believe that "promiscuous" women are worth less than the celibate, or else they wouldn't be trying to prevent "promiscuity"[1]. What's more, they also think that their outmoded and unhealthy beliefs regarding "promiscuity" are worth sacrificing lives for (even if the lives sacrificed are those of "promiscuous", and therefore somehow inferior, women.) That stance is just so utterly and completely insane and unreasonable that it makes me doubt the efficaciousness of reasoned argument. (Also the worthwhileness of humanity, but that's another story.) And don't get me started on the inherent contradiction between the supposed "culture of life", and its refusal to accept a vaccine that so far has seemed to be an almost fail-safe way to save lives.

[1] I'm putting promiscuous in quotation marks because, if over half the population of America contract the HPV virus (as quoted in the second link), one need not have sexual contact with very many partners at all to be exposed the virus. I don't call bedding three or four different people in a lifetime promiscuous-- hell, you could have been married to all three of them (... er, not at the same time, obviously, but you get the point.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:23 PM on May 9, 2006


I genuinely believe that people like this are evil. Not mean, or small-minded, or what-have-you, but evil. Intrinsically and irredeemably evil.

...and I'm going to spare us all the rest of that rant, except to say: centrists, this is your enemy. You cannot discuss them into rationality, and there is essentially no limit to what they'll do because they are prepared to dedicate their lives to their cause. Sound familiar?
posted by aramaic at 8:37 PM on May 9, 2006


Not really surprising that for many of those in the movement Pro-life = Anti-sex. Why else would any logical person who claimed to be against abortion be so set against comprehensive sex-ed? Teaching people how to properly use contraception leads to a greatly lower abortion rate, since fewer unwanted pregnancies will occur. Why would someone support such a failure of an education method like Abstinence-only ed?

Unless you don't want people having sex. Unless you think that the only use for sex is to make more babies. Unless you think that women who wants to enjoy sex without the fear of being carrier to something that she neither wants or possibly can support are sluts. That someone who wants to take a step in order to protect themselves from this or from a horrible disease are whores.

dejah420 is right, the knowledge that there are people who hold these views is nothing new to a lot of people in the pro-choice movement. What's scary now is that these people now hold enough power to enact their bat shit views on the rest of us.

Of course, these are views that apply to every one else except them. Many fundamentalist have and will cross the picket lines and walk into the clinic because their situation is different, they're not like all those sluts sitting in the waiting room. And I'm sure plenty of these blowhards leading the charge make sure to wear condoms when visiting their mistresses and/or go to their doctors to receive treatment for their STDs.
posted by kosher_jenny at 8:40 PM on May 9, 2006


Finger sits on the Centers for Disease Control's Immunization Committee, which makes those recommendations.


Now THAT is the scariest thing I've read today.
posted by quite unimportant at 8:41 PM on May 9, 2006


What - you thought these nutjobs just wanted to outlaw abortions? Do yourself a favor and go to a real fundie church and listen to a sermon, any sermon. Now imagine all the points of that sermon becoming the law of the land, and remember that next time you think about trying to have a meaningful dialog with these dark age cretins.

Since I grew up in that crowd for the majority of my life and go back there every couple months for birthdays/what-have-you, I can guarantee you that by and large fundie Protestant attitudes towards contraceptives are "knock yourself out." It's what you do post-conception, including morning-after pills and abortions, that gets their goat. Close friends of my family who I still meet up with maybe twice a year (Christmas and Superbowl, usually) have protested in front of abortion centers, handcuffed themselves together in masses to make it nearly impossible to drag them away, been arrested and thrown in jail, etc.

They've also used condoms without giving it a second thought.

However, and they're very strict and clear on this point (and this same line is taken by literally every single fundamentalist Protestant I've talked to both from in my family's church and outside it) - once conception has occured, any attempts to prevent a natural birth are murder in God's eyes. Period.

So, yes, I do think these nutjobs just want to outlaw abortions. I've attended literally hundreds of services at a real fundie church. Some of the parents of my best friends growing up worked at the Alpha Center (polar opposite of Planned Parenthood). Fundies aren't Catholics Lite when it comes to birth control - they're far more strident, and despite your claims they are most assuredly playing towards a different goal.
posted by Ryvar at 8:47 PM on May 9, 2006


Finger sits on the Centers for Disease Control's Immunization Committee...
posted by taosbat at 8:49 PM on May 9, 2006


I don't appreciate being called a cretin and a nutjob.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:49 PM on May 9, 2006


I wonder how these folks feel about this: Oral and anal sex increasing among teens?
posted by caddis at 8:51 PM on May 9, 2006


I was reading this article in the nytimes mag this sunday and was thinking, damn...seeing as how I am sterile by choice...is there no hope for me?
posted by glenwood at 8:55 PM on May 9, 2006


Why would someone support such a failure of an education method like Abstinence-only ed?

I think I can answer this. When I was in high school my mother single-handedly lead the charge against standard sex-ed in my school district. Starting from nothing outside of a belief that not teaching abstinence as the 'best' method of birth control would lead to pre-marital sex (and therefore legitimize sinful behavior), she started her own crusade.

She spent months digging up statistics from multiple sources highlighting worst-case condom failure rates. STD transmission likelihood when using various forms of birth control, specific details on the symptomology of STDs, etc. Talking to her about VDs in general is still a little frightening, actually. She canvassed neighborhood and neighborhood in the school district gathering around a thousand signatures on a petition towards abstinence-based sex-ed in my school district.

Multiple public hearings were held by the school board, she got tons of parents in the district from our church to attend, had them bring their kids in my own high school along to testify as to their beliefs regarding abstinence (fortunately I was spared, she was wise enough not to even ask me to). She presented all the statistics she gathered.

And, unfortunately, she won.

The district caved and began offering abstinence-based Health classes in addition to the standard ones. I can vouch for the fact that she - a pretty extreme crusader along these lines - has no problem with married couples using condoms. She just genuinely believes that teenagers who are not taught abstinence will somehow think that pre-marital is 'normal' (as if their schooling had anything to do with their actual opinions as regards sex) and therefore be drawn into sin, with a high probability of a compounding sin of abortion due to irresponsibility/incompetence as the result.

In any case, which Health class you got usually had far more to do with how your schedule worked out due to other core classes. While I of course got the abstinence-based class, it was perhaps a supreme irony that my sister could only fit the conventional condom-based class into her schedule.
posted by Ryvar at 9:05 PM on May 9, 2006


seeing as how I am sterile by choice...is there no hope for me?

Not if you're Catholic. As per the above two posts I made, my folks were cool with my vasectomy.
posted by Ryvar at 9:07 PM on May 9, 2006


Uggh, I have relatives who are this insane. It's willful ignorance and hysteria and small-minded bigotry, and surprisingly, it all serves to prove to themselves what wonderful people they are. I actually heard, "We could solve the population problem in Africa if we just handed out lots of thermometers so the women could learn Natural Family Planning techniques." My jaw dropped. The smugness is unbearable.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 9:26 PM on May 9, 2006


If teens were universally rational about fearing death

What's remotely rational about fearing death?

Also: as long as the majory takes their cues on morality from what mommy and daddy taught them, this sort of batshitinsane nonsense will only grow in popularity. The middle-class liberalism of the mid-20th-century is an anomaly; anti-birth-control attitudes will dominate for a long, long time, in numbers if not in influence among the literati. Welcome back to the Dark Ages; we've missed you.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:32 PM on May 9, 2006


Oh yah, one of the other batshitinsane things I heard was that "there simply isn't any health condition that would make it dangerous for a woman to carry a baby to term, it doesn't exist, believe me, this is my 'field.'" (She had plans to go to nursing school at the time.) Since that conversation I've compiled a list of at least 20 health conditions, but it just doesn't seem worth it...
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 9:46 PM on May 9, 2006


Thomist, nobody called you a cretin or a nutjob. You have inferred this by identifying yourself with the sets of people who have been called cretins and nutjobs.

But if it makes you feel better, I will state outright: if you think that contraception should be illegal, you are a cretin and a nutjob and frankly, have no place in any civilized society.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:48 PM on May 9, 2006 [2 favorites]


Many fundamentalist have and will cross the picket lines and walk into the clinic because their situation is different, they're not like all those sluts sitting in the waiting room.
This article describes the different attitudes of pro-life women who have abortions. Some find themselves swayed to be a bit more understanding by their experience; others don't.

I believe the latter is what you would call "cognitive dissonance."
posted by anjamu at 10:03 PM on May 9, 2006


I hereby invite all these nutjobs -- er, I mean fine upstanding highly moral people -- to live in a land where there are no abortions and no contraceptives and certainly no promiscuous sex. It is called Antarctica. Alternatively, they could relocate to the moon, which would have to be closer to Heaven than where they currently reside and has similar benefits.

Damn, I pity their daughters.
posted by ilsa at 10:23 PM on May 9, 2006


"I don't appreciate being called a cretin and a nutjob."

And I don't appreciate cervical cancer. I also don't appreciate little kids being told they'll burn in hell for using their minds, or teaching them fairy tales instead of science.
If that shoe doesn't fit, nobody asked you to wear it.
And spare me the thin skin act, Mr. "Quit your whining, bitches!" .
posted by 2sheets at 11:41 PM on May 9, 2006


Dr. Hager said he feared that if Plan B were freely available, it would increase sexual promiscuity among teenagers. [...] Meanwhile a government report later found that Dr. Janet Woodcock, deputy commissioner for operations at the F.D.A., had also expressed a fear that making the drug available over the counter could lead to "extreme promiscuous behaviors such as the medication taking on an 'urban legend' status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B."

Wow. I mean ... wow.
posted by oncogenesis at 11:47 PM on May 9, 2006


Contraception aside, anyone who believes that withholding a vaccine that can prevent cancer is a good thing is a cretin and a nutjob indeed, and should probably be institutionalized for the good of society. It's really hard to imagine how those against the HPV vaccine are anything other than insane, dangerously so because of what their success would mean.

I can see why contraception is a different issue (I am certainly in favor of unrestricted contraception, but there is a big difference between pregnancy and cancer).
posted by wildcrdj at 12:22 AM on May 10, 2006


Tolerance of religion is like taking a half course of antibiotics.
posted by srboisvert at 12:22 AM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist writes "I don't appreciate being called a cretin and a nutjob."

You know what will really suck? When you realize your grandchildren are ashamed of you. You'll feel absolutely worthless, like you've wasted your life and history has left you behind. Either that, or you'll just get angry and bitter and die with the taste of bile in your mouth.

Just to give you something to look forward to.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:32 AM on May 10, 2006


anyone who believes that withholding a vaccine that can prevent cancer is a good thing is a cretin and a nutjob indeed, and should probably be institutionalized for the good of society.

And by anyone I assume you mean the present administration...
The Administration's opposition runs so deep that at one point federal health officials replaced pages from a National Cancer Institute Web site with information that suggested, without evidence, that there might be a correlation between abortion and breast cancer.
posted by missbossy at 1:42 AM on May 10, 2006


From TFP: "I personally object to vaccinating children when they don't need vaccinations, particularly against a disease that is one hundred per cent preventable with proper sexual behavior,"

What brilliant logic! Let's apply it to other life-saving technologies, like seat-belts:

"I personally object to vaccinating tying up children when they don't need vaccinations tying up, particularly against a disease collision that is one hundred per cent preventable with proper sexual driving behavior,"

See? If you start out with the conclusion you want to reach first, and then make up a plausible-sounding argument, you can convince yourself of anything.
posted by spazzm at 4:13 AM on May 10, 2006


Anjamu's link is fantastic.

"In 1990, in the Boston area, Operation Rescue and other groups were regularly blockading the clinics, and many of us went every Saturday morning for months to help women and staff get in. As a result, we knew many of the 'antis' by face. One morning, a woman who had been a regular 'sidewalk counselor' went into the clinic with a young woman who looked like she was 16-17, and obviously her daughter. When the mother came out about an hour later, I had to go up and ask her if her daughter's situation had caused her to change her mind. 'I don't expect you to understand my daughter's situation!' she angrily replied. The following Saturday, she was back, pleading with women entering the clinic not to 'murder their babies.'" (Clinic escort, Massachusetts)

Somehow it had never occurred to me that pro-life women (especially the grown-up ones) would choose to have an abortion (or help their daughters have one) and choose to continue to be pro-life. Now I'm starting to wonder about the spokeswomen for these groups (like the one above) and whether or not they ever had "the only moral abortion."
posted by mosessis at 5:03 AM on May 10, 2006


Finger, Dobson, Screwtape, Wormwood.
None of these are different.

Hating sex is very unGodly. Regressive policies towards women is very unChristian.
posted by nofundy at 6:02 AM on May 10, 2006


Using contraception predisposes toward abortion? Withhold a vaccine because it might cause promiscuity?

How do the certifiably insane rise to positions of power? These people make me wish their parents had practiced more abstinence.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:32 AM on May 10, 2006


This article made me wonder about what the cretins and nutjobs would say about women who are naturally infertile, through some medical reason-

"We are opposed to sex before marriage and contraception within marriage. We believe that the sexual act is meant to be a complete giving of self. Of course its purpose is procreation, but the church also affirms the unitive aspect: it brings a couple together. By using contraception, they are not allowing the fullness of their expression of love. To frustrate the procreative potential ends up harming the relationship."

By this logic, infertile couples are doomed to have less fulfilling relationships. WTF?
posted by Oobidaius at 6:43 AM on May 10, 2006


Paging Dr. Finger. Paging Dr. Woodcock.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Sorry. I'll stop channeling Butthead now.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:00 AM on May 10, 2006


mr_roboto, what you describe is nothing like what I have observed over the years happening to people like me as they grow older. What I have observed are happy extended families. Of course I have seen some young people fall away from the principles of their upbringing and into depraved lifestyles, but I've also seen most of those young people eventually return to the faith of their fathers. As for my own family, I don't yet have grandchildren, but I expect that will happen soon enough, and I don't anticipate that anything like what you describe will happen, either with respect to my own children or my (future) grandchildren.

Anyway, I find the level of contempt and disrespect shown in this thread pretty impressive. It won't surprise you to learn that my explanation for the uncivil tone of this conversation is that many people are oversensitive about this topic because they do not have clear consciences about it. For such people, having this topic even mentioned feels like someone pressing on an abcessed tooth. Absent a better explanation, that's my understanding of why so many people howl whenever the question is raised of whether contraception is ethically OK.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:41 AM on May 10, 2006


It won't surprise you to learn that my explanation for the uncivil tone of this conversation is that many people are oversensitive about this topic because they do not have clear consciences about it.

It may surprise you to learn that many people take their right to have consensual sex with a significantly decreased risk of having a child very, very seriously, and think that ignorant fuckwads who want to shove their backward morality down a whole nation's collective throat should fuck off and die. If you're actually insinuating that I or anyone else do not have a clear conscience about contraception, you really, really deserve to be called a cretin and a nutjob.
posted by graymouser at 7:58 AM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


It won't surprise you to learn that my explanation for the uncivil tone of this conversation is that many people are oversensitive about this topic because they do not have clear consciences about it.

I guess it woludn't surprise me if this were the case, but really gets my goat is that some would rather 5000 women a year die (this is an empirical certainty) than some unspecified number of women have some unspecified decrease in sexual inhibition.

If you don't understand why such a belief makes people uncivil, maybe you should pick up a New Testament and read why Jesus disliked the pharisees so much. It's hard for me to imagine the cruelty of a mind that wants a death penalty for sex.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:01 AM on May 10, 2006


Ryvar - while the people you know may be fine with sex & contraceptions as long as there're no abortions, it is my impression that they're increasingly unrepresentative of much of the "pro-life" crowd, who've picked up Pope John-Paul II's "culture of life" idea and made it their own. It's certainly not just Catholics - note that in the article, it states that "American Catholics have overwhelmingly disagreed: a Harris Poll in 2005, for instance, found that 90 percent of Catholics (as compared with 93 percent of all Americans) support the use of contraception." Catholics don't account for all or most of the abstinence-only sex-education initiatives, or the pharmacists refusing to dispense birth control... many of those incidents and programs have been associated with fundie Protestant or non-denominational Christian groups.

As the article itself states: "For years — especially since Pope Paul VI's 'Humanae Vitae' encyclical of 1968 forbade "any action which either before, at the moment of or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation" — being anti-contraception was largely a Catholic thing... But no longer. Organizations like the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, which inject a mixture of religion and medicine into the social sphere, operate from a broadly Christian perspective that includes opposition to some forms of birth control... [and more examples.]" Your family and their fellow churchgoers may still be fine with condoms and the Pill, but people in their demographic are increasingly leaning towards the "sex is for reproduction, not pleasure" viewpoint.
posted by ubersturm at 8:21 AM on May 10, 2006


If I intend to use contraception, but umm...haven't...err, had a chance to use it yet, am I going to hell?
posted by NationalKato at 8:28 AM on May 10, 2006


Well this just about sums it up.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 8:36 AM on May 10, 2006


Llama-Lime: It's hard for me to imagine the cruelty of a mind that wants a death penalty for sex.

I'm not sure what you're talking about. I thought this thread was about contraception. What are you talking about?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:58 AM on May 10, 2006


If I intend to use contraception, but umm...haven't...err, had a chance to use it yet, am I going to hell?

Thought crimes are just as deadly a sin as physical crimes. Repent sinner, and ye shall be saved.
posted by caddis at 9:04 AM on May 10, 2006


I don't appreciate being called a cretin and a nutjob.

Easy solution: stop being one.
posted by jon_kill at 9:14 AM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist, unless you clarify that every person who has sex in less than optimal circumstances (impulsive, intoxicated, or even those who are mentally unwell) deserves an increased possibility of infection or even death from a STD (AIDS, cervical cancer), does not actually deserve whatever fate may befall them, some people will argue you're dooming them by denying education or proper contraception and innoculation. I don't agree with that point, but I think it is a much better rhetorical strategy than claiming that abstinence-only education is effective.

As for the claim that there needs to be civil discourse, I'd be glad to speak my part. I wasn't particularly outgoing or sexually active in high school, despite having a good knowledge of specifics and contraception. Since that time, I've had sexual relations that have been responsible (contraception, shared expectations, understanding of what could happen should contraception fail) according to my beliefs. I don't believe I have been emotionally or spiritually harmed by my actions, and I haven't made any enemies or made anyone else feel hurt beyond the normal borders of breaking off a relationship. I have a good relationship with my family and friends and tend to avoid "relationship drama."

I absolutely have a clear conscience. I feel that sex is much more likely to result in pregnancy without intervention by modern means, but I also believe that with our current society that marriage, having children, and having a lifelong partner may not be necessary for every person. I think all of those things sound like something I may want to do at some point, but only when I am comfortable with my life circumstances -- when I'm able to say that I will live in one city for the forseeable future and have a level of financial stability.
posted by mikeh at 9:31 AM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist writes "Anyway, I find the level of contempt and disrespect shown in this thread pretty impressive."

This is how good people respond in the face of evil. Get used to it.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:46 AM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist, I'll attempt to put it in terms you understand. Let's pretend for a moment that telling kids about STDs, contraception, and innoculating them for a virus that can cause cancer encourages sex outside of marriage. (I'd say pre-marital sex, but that's a biased phrase as it implies that everyone plans on marriage.) Even so, those who feel it is immoral will not have sex or seek out religious guidance. If you believe that the material taught by schools -- material that is aimed at directly stating consequences and precautions -- can lure students away from the right choice because of convenience and the fact that it backs up a behavior that they're inherently drawn to, then it is a drawback of their moral education that they ignore their beliefs.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the majority of religions will accept those who have sinned or done things that are thought to be wrong. Anyone who has, as you would put it, strayed, is welcome to return. Would you want those individuals to have a STD as some sort of consequence or punishment for their behavior? What about a condition that can cause cancer that could have been easily prevented by an innoculation? By pretending it's only other, corrupt people who end up with these problems you're discouraging and possibly dooming those who may share your views at some point. That, to me, is morally reprehensible from any belief system that teaches forgiveness and love for the individual.
posted by mikeh at 9:59 AM on May 10, 2006


It won't surprise you to learn that my explanation for the uncivil tone of this conversation is that many people are oversensitive about this topic because they do not have clear consciences about it.

It may surprise you to learn that I personally get extremely tetchy when anyone tries to impose their own purely moralistic, quite possibly religion-based, view of the world on my body and my actions. I'd have the exact same furious reaction if you told me I couldn't work a nine-to-five job because it made me morally reprehensible and worth "less" than another, unemployed woman. And if you tried to impose that stance on me through the law? Heaven help you. Having someone else's personal beliefs about anything forced upon you feels like violation. Just as you wouldn't like it if I lobbied for mandatory contraception, so I don't like it when you try to take my option of contraception away.

(I think every woman who conceives a child because of the unavailability of contraceptives or abortions should go in and have that child on their representative's desk. "Miracle of birth this, asshole, I'm going to get placenta all over your papers!")

Also, what about rape? If I am raped, and contract HPV from the rapist, and then cervical cancer sets in because of it, is that "promiscuity"? Do I deserve it? Or is my life on the line because nutjobs hanging on to unhealthy belief systems wouldn't let me have one vaccine that would have prevented a life-threatening disease, on the offchance that it might lower my inhibitions towards a perfectly natural biological function?

Oh, right, I forgot. ..... If I "let myself" get raped, I deserve it.

In all honesty, I think the right-wing's "promiscuity is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad" rhetoric and stance does more to promote promscuity than anything else. I don't know about you guys, but it makes me want to go out and have sex while I still can. "Well, I was going to wait until marriage, but I thought it'd be best to take advantage of condoms while they're still here!"
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:02 AM on May 10, 2006


I just want to second ND¢'s link to that fantastic Onion piece.
posted by funambulist at 10:08 AM on May 10, 2006


Personally I'd like to see the religious right tie abortion and contraceptives (excuse me - I meant "pre-emptive abortion") together. Go for it. It's hard arguing for abortion - it's not a position anyone wants to have to take, as much as many of us feel that the choice is a necessary option - but when you lump abortion and contraceptives together as one package, all you're doing is making it that much easier for the rational, sane members of society to finally be able to call for a vote against the opression of women without necessarily being labeled a "baby killer" in the process.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:08 AM on May 10, 2006


mr_roboto: in point of fact, manifesting contempt and disrespect is not how good people characteristically respond in the face of evil. Displays of contempt and disrespect are a pretty reliable indicator that something is going on other than good confronting evil.

mikeh: It's difficult for me to know what I am supposed to clarify, because I can't make much sense of the notion of humans judging that some other person especially "deserved" to fall ill or die. I would have thought the Book of Job settled that point pretty decisively, but in any case Jesus says some clear things about it. I've never personally known an opponent of contraception (and I've known thousands) who believed that we could make reliable judgments about who "deserved" what. I hope you can see why it is hard to credit the good faith of people who make such accusations against those of us "ignorant fuckwads" who should "fuck off and die" who raise ethical objections against contraception.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:10 AM on May 10, 2006


I'm glad this article was posted; I read it over the weekend, and found it to be a horrifying confirmation of what I'd long suspected is the motivation behind most 'ant-abortion' rhetoric: the desire to exert control over women's sexuality.

Thanks for bringing it to a wider audience. Let's get this social offal out into the open and look at it for what it is.
posted by Miko at 10:13 AM on May 10, 2006


Sorry, what are the ethical objections against contraception? I've only seen moral ones here so far and that's not the same thing at all. In what way is being "anti-child", in the sense of being personally against having children, intrinsically and objectively negative and unethical?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:19 AM on May 10, 2006


I speak here as someone who has been personally involved in the issue of contraception and abortion.

Six months ago, after much deliberation, my wife and I had an abortion.

We were well educated in issues of birth control, abstience, etc. We were at the time a long-term exclusive couple, but not yet married. I had previous partners, however limited, but she did not. We were using the standard OrthoTriCyclen birth control pill, but were in the tiny fraction for which it was unable to be sufficient to prevent conception.

We were both people who considered ourselves morally opposed to abortion. But we still did it.

Since then I have had many long and sleepless nights, and had nightmares for much of the first two months afterward. There's something for which all the literature in the world can't prepare you.

But it's done now, and there's no going back. Looking back on it, the issues we were concerned with were:
    (in order of importance to us at the time)
  • A 30% chance of birth complications with real risk to my wife's survival of which the doctor informed us.
  • The very real likelyhood that we would not be able to financially support the child.
  • The knowledge of how difficult separation would be if adoption were permitted.
  • The trouble in dealing with her traditional family, which would disown her for a child not aborted that was born or conceived out of wedlock.
We wrestled with these issues for weeks, and finally decided it was in the overall best interests of us to go through with the abortion.

We did not consider ourselves a special case, but rather represenative of troubles that many couples routinely go through when confronting these issues. Although we are morally opposed, and have vowed never again to do so except for the possibility of rape/healthOfTheMother, we believe ourselves to understand the faceat of this problem that fundamentalists will never admit: This is a very real problem facing very real people regularly. No matter what your moral stance, it is not proper to legislate against it. Abortion and contraception should be discouraged when possible, but never illegal and always presented as an option.
posted by mystyk at 10:21 AM on May 10, 2006 [3 favorites]


Correction: In the last sentence, contraception should not be discouraged. I lumped two sentences into one, and warped the context because of it.
posted by mystyk at 10:23 AM on May 10, 2006


Displays of contempt and disrespect are a pretty reliable indicator that something is going on other than good confronting evil.

So now I have to respect and honor child molesters, murderers, rapists, and other such ilk? Or can I disrespect them and hold them in contempt because I think they are evil?

Do you understand why so many here are upset? Do you see why these doctrines cause pain, disease, and death?
posted by NationalKato at 10:29 AM on May 10, 2006


ignorant fuckwads who want to shove their backward morality down a whole nation's collective throat should fuck off and die.

Worth repeating, over and over again.

I feel no guilt at all -- none -- for using contraception. I feel no guilt at all -- none -- for being involved in two partners' abortions. No guilt. None.

And I would feel no guilt -- none -- shovelling lime into a pit filled with ignorant fuckwads as described above.

This is how good people respond in the face of evil.

Also worth repeating. Over and over again.

in point of fact, manifesting contempt and disrespect is not how good people characteristically respond in the face of evil

What colossal bullshit. That's exactly what good people respond, right before they do everything in their power to destroy that evil.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:39 AM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist writes "In point of fact, manifesting contempt and disrespect is not how good people characteristically respond in the face of evil. "

Nonsense. If evil is deserving of anything, it is contempt.

These people are advocating mass murder. They must be treated with the utmost contempt and disrespect, lest they gain more power than they already have.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:46 AM on May 10, 2006


NationalKato: Or can I disrespect them and hold them in contempt because I think they are evil?

I find it more fruitful to treat evil people with love and respect, even if only love and respect for the human nature in that person that has become twisted by their evil choices. I don't see how calling people "cretins" and "offal" and helps anything. The fact that so many of you resort so quickly to such name-calling is, to my mind, the most intriguing feature of this discussion so far.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:50 AM on May 10, 2006


I merely wish to say: Bravo, mystyk, bravo. Thank you for your words and your insight into the meaning of what we're reading here.
posted by mephron at 10:51 AM on May 10, 2006


mystik: We wrestled with these issues for weeks, and finally decided it was in the overall best interests of us

Thanks for sharing your story.

Were you thinking of "us" as including your child? I ask because some people who get abortions convince themselves that the child would be better off dead than being given up for adoption. Or was the "us" you and your girlfriend? In either case, here's what is to me the more interesting question: how did you decide which "us" was the appropriate one to be deliberating about?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:00 AM on May 10, 2006


I'd like to know what the fuck makes peeping_Thomist think he has the right to ask mystyk those questions.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:12 AM on May 10, 2006


Seconded.
posted by NationalKato at 11:14 AM on May 10, 2006


I hope you find it intriguing that you and the rest of the backwards fanatics should fuck off and rot.
posted by puke & cry at 11:17 AM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Faint of Butt and NationalKato, I am trying to understand what mystyk was saying. I quoted what he said, and I asked for clarification about what he meant by what he said. Isn't that just what a conversation is?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:18 AM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist, he listed the issues he and his wife dealt with in this decision. You merely need to read his post carefully. Your question is phrased in such a way as to insinuate that mystyk and his wife did not consider the topic of their decision: the child. Which is just naive....or confrontational, which is how I read your question.
posted by NationalKato at 11:30 AM on May 10, 2006


"The fact that so many of you resort so quickly to such name-calling"

Actually it took me about 32 years or so before I realized that quietly tolerating other people's insane rantings and attempts to replace the constitution with the bible was irresponsible and perhaps un-american.
I was raised in the bible belt with the attitude that I was free to choose my path, and you could choose yours, attend the church of your choice and raise your family as you see fit. But that wasn't good enough for a vocal minority who want to inject their beliefs into every aspect our lives.
And now that this element is in a position of power and actively crafting policy that will result in more death and degradation, you damn well better expect to be confronted on it.
So drop the cry baby conservative act; it's getting old.
posted by 2sheets at 11:32 AM on May 10, 2006


NationalKato, I've heard lots of people give explanations of their abortions. They often differ on precisely the point I was asking about. mystyk's account was ambiguous, and he seemed interested in being as clear as possible, so I've asked for a clarification. I don't think my question was confrontational or naive. I'm interested in hearing how he came to the conclusion he reached, which is what I understood him to be trying to communicate to us.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:35 AM on May 10, 2006


Anyway, I find the level of contempt and disrespect shown in this thread pretty impressive.

Me too!

In particular, I am very cheesed at the level of contempt and disrespect you show toward others. Somehow, you seem to have conceived the idea that you should have a right to interfere with what I do in a consensual adult relationship.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:36 AM on May 10, 2006


five_fresh_fish, I don't know what you're talking about.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:37 AM on May 10, 2006


I hope you can see why it is hard to credit the good faith of people who make such accusations against those of us "ignorant fuckwads" who should "fuck off and die" who raise ethical objections against contraception.

If you want your ethical objections to bind me as law, then as far as I'm concerned you can and should go play in traffic. Seriously. If you think that your morality gives you the right to legislate the sex lives of others, you can in fact fuck off and die. If you have a personal "ethical objection" and your significant other genuinely agrees with you and you practice what you think in your own bedroom then I honestly don't care what you do or think or say. But keep the fuck out of my bedroom. Reproductive rights are phenomenally important as basic human rights. If you think birth control is immoral for personal use, I may think your ideology is full of shit, but I don't care. If you want to outlaw birth control, then you've got a fight on your hands.
posted by graymouser at 11:39 AM on May 10, 2006


PT isn't naive; he's very canny. He's just absolutely convinced that any view on sexuality that is outside his archconservative, deviant belief system is not merely wrong but that anyone who holds such differing views are somehow mentally deficient.

It isn't intriguing, though. It's just kinda sad. But I feel just a little warmer inside knowing that his grandkids will try very hard to pretend that he didn't exist.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:39 AM on May 10, 2006


Arguing with teleological types about sexuality is like wrestling with a pig in shit, but I give you guys credit for trying.

Also, I hear if you hum "Every Sperm Is Sacred" while reading the Summa backwards, Jesus will reappear on earth, drippin' with glory, to provide us with a PowerPoint presentation concerning the "final cause" of the human appendix. Film at eleven.

The 11th century, that is.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:45 AM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


graymouser, you can fight people without treating them contemptuously. Demonizing the enemy is not a tactic of which to be proud.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:45 AM on May 10, 2006


It won't surprise you to learn that my explanation for the uncivil tone of this conversation is that many people are oversensitive about this topic because they do not have clear consciences about it.

It would not surprise me at all: I'm quite certain that that is precisely how you justify your interference with my private life.

In essence, you regard my life choices with contempt and disregard any assertion I make that does not jive with your pre-conceived rationale for my behaviour. Doesn't actually matter that you're wrong, because you don't believe me when I tell you that. You somehow know what drives me, more than I do!

And yet you wonder why I might react hostilely to your unwanted attention, your outrageous lies, your stupid suppositions, your encroachment on my personal rights.

In all honesty the only response I feel truly sums it all up is this: fuck off and die, creep. Ain't your business what I do.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:45 AM on May 10, 2006


Demonizing the enemy is not a tactic of which to be proud.

And yet, religions have done this since their creation.

peeping_Thomist, I'm not going to go back and forth with you over mystyk's post - his comments are not 'ambiguous.' He states, in order of importance, the factors weighing upon his and his wife's decision. Each of them, if you actually consider them for a moment, reflect a different facet of what 'us' he's referring to, from the health of the mother and child, to the child alone, to his family.

Your question intends to pick apart one word and use it to place unnecessary judgement on the unfortunate experience. It's a poor tactic, and in doing so you miss the point of his post.
posted by NationalKato at 11:58 AM on May 10, 2006


Christian Fundamentalism is a mental disorder.
posted by stenseng at 11:59 AM on May 10, 2006


This kind of evil disgusts me. Particually the blocking of a working cancer vaccine. Utterly disgusting behaviour.

To me, the greatest achievement of humanity was not man on the moon, or any of the other usual suspects, but the elimination of smallpox from the face the planet. The vaccine. The toll and suffering of millennia of smallpox was beyond measure. History.

Now, for the first time, a safe and effective vaccine that protects women against a cancer, and WHAT THE FUCK?!!?!

Evil. Indescribable evil.

Draping itself with the name of Jesus no less.

Utterly disgusting.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:03 PM on May 10, 2006


Demonizing the enemy is not a tactic of which to be proud.

And yet, religions have done this since their creation.


Heh, hence the existance of the word demonizing.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:04 PM on May 10, 2006


graymouser, you can fight people without treating them contemptuously. Demonizing the enemy is not a tactic of which to be proud.

I choose not to. The opponents of reproductive rights haven't taken the gloves off, ever, and they've gone from fringe groups in the wake of Roe v. Wade to a sizeable minority. Fuck the theocrats. I'll fight fire with fire if that is what is going to keep your morality out of my bedroom.
posted by graymouser at 12:08 PM on May 10, 2006


NationalKato, I read mystik's post carefully before I asked my question, and I've reread it carefully since then. I still think the passage I quoted was ambiguous, and that my request for clarification was reasonable, not in any way mean-spirited or judgmental, let alone confrontational. I didn't (and don't yet) understand who he meant by "us".
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:10 PM on May 10, 2006


graymouser, you can fight people without treating them contemptuously. Demonizing the enemy is not a tactic of which to be proud.

But it is an often powerful technique that can bring incredible good into the world: Tom Paine, perhaps the most ideologically important (certainly purest) and angrily confrontational of this nation's founding fathers jumps to mind.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:11 PM on May 10, 2006


I'd like to ask peeping Thomist why he thinks that we should have more cases of cervical cancer rather than fewer.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:15 PM on May 10, 2006


graymouser, apparently many people on your side of this fight think name-calling brings credit to your cause. I think in the long run it's a tactic more likely to alienate potential allies than to rally new recruits to your side. Since apparently appeals to civility regarding this matter are destined to fall on deaf ears, I guess we'll just have to wait to see which of us is right about the utility of name-calling.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:18 PM on May 10, 2006



“I genuinely believe that people like this are evil. Not mean, or small-minded, or what-have-you, but evil. Intrinsically and irredeemably evil.” - posted by aramaic

Well, one of many things I’m opposed to is promiscuity. I believe there are certain behaviors people engage in that can be detrimental to their health and it’s been my experiance that commited relationships are healthier mentally and physically.

However I am also opposed to forcing certain kinds of behavior on someone else. There is a spectrum of behaviors where I believe there should be involvment and degrees of that involvement.
I’m sure we can all agree that if someone breaks into someone’s home and murders them, the police should be involved to prevent and redress that.
I’m also certain we can agree - with certain irrational and thus ignorable exceptions - that what goes on between two married people in the privacy of their home is inviolate (given no abuse, and other such qualifications, etc.).

In between there lay certain legal and social concerns and questions of our degree of involvement in them.

While we can agree that younger people often make mistakes, we can also agree that we cannot always be there to prevent them from doing so.
We can also agree that in some cases overprotecting an individual can weaken them.

In cases like this there are certain fundimental truths. Some people are going to have sex outside of marriage. Some people are going to get pregnant (well, the female half of some people, the other half is getting them pregnant).

It is also a fact that human sexuality is in part a social interaction, not solely intended for the creation of a child.
As I eschew promiscuity, I recognize the component of sexuality that binds two people together and builds feelings and associations.
I recognize that as part of a normal and healthy committed relationship. It is when someone engages in sex devoid of any feeling at all that it is unhealthy (nymphomania/satyriasis comes to mind - but there are lesser non-compusive social degrees).
The admonishment here could be considered similar to that on the love of money being the root of all evil. Certainly one can engage in one night stands or casual sex without egregious harm, just as one can build wealth and become rich without suffering overwhelming attachment to money - it is very dangerous to maintain as a standard practice however.

So the dichotomy here is between this recognition that some kinds of sex can be harmful and see a child as a negative unwanted outcome and some kinds of sex is positive and - given a committed relationship - could handle the possibility of a child although that is not necessarialy the aim.

The question then is to what degree are we willing to create pressure towards the latter situation.

I would argue that given the nuances of social sexual behavior, the kind of pressure being brought to bear by the American Life League is (loosely) similar to fetishistic sadistic domination in a sexual relationship. Which is itself very unhealthy as an obsession.

If the aim here is for healthy productive relationships, than the focus would be on modeling those as well as providing adoptive services to families within that model.

Instead the focus is on ego driven denial of other’s sexual desires which in fact brings more attention to those relationships than the healthy productive ones and creates a sort of guilt driven desire for those kinds of relationships and that kind of pleasure bound to guilt.
(Anyone who’s been in the S&M scene sees this as a matter of course*).

So I would argue that, if we’re talking evil and if we’re using Judeo-Christian symbols, pride is the worst of sins, not lust. These people are accusing the lustful from a position of pride, and their pride demands that there must be a lustful.
They interfere with the aims of those of us who actually want healthy stable relationships because we recognize those as conducive and supportive of our own (sort of the ‘plague’ model - if everyone else is disease free, you have less of a chance of contracting anything yourself), not because we want to reveal ourselves as (again, using Judeo-Christian symbols) more worthy or more aware of the word of God.

But with or without the symbols, with or without the sex, that is what this particular business is about. Passing moral judgement upon another.

“Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy. Nor his accepted brethren, whom, tyrant, he calls free: lay the bound or build the roof. Nor pale religious letchery call that virginity, that wishes but acts not!
For every thing that lives is Holy.” -William Blake (Marriage of Heaven and Hell)


*long story as to how I’m aware of this.


My sympathies mystyk
posted by Smedleyman at 12:20 PM on May 10, 2006


I would also like to ask peeping Thomist if he believes that women with cervical cancer who contracted HPV from anyone but their spouse deserves it, and if he sees that disease as God's righteous punishment.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:23 PM on May 10, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: I thought this thread was about contraception. I don't have any developed opinion about a HPV vaccine.

Are there any other examples where we have mandatory vaccination for a disease that can only be contracted as the result of lifestyle choices? I could certainly see making an HPV vaccine optional (much as you get malaria shots if you choose to travel to certain countries), but mandatory? That does seem questionable, especially if there are any side effects to the vaccine. But I'm open to being convinced that mandatory HPV vaccination is the way to go.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:23 PM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist:

I do not make it a point to take courses in tactics from the advice offered by political opponents, especially when their actions (and the anti-reproductive rights camp is a great example of this) belie those tactical niceties. My concern in this particular area is to see this camp's political hopes destroyed completely. This is not accomplished by engaging in a farce of rational debate with the irrational opponents of personal rights.
posted by graymouser at 12:24 PM on May 10, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: I already addressed the question about who "deserves" what. I've never personally known an opponent of contraception who believes that it makes any sense to talk about particular people especially "deserving" to fall ill or die. I think this is a slur against us.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:26 PM on May 10, 2006


graymouser, calling obviously rational people irrational is beneath your dignity.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:26 PM on May 10, 2006


NationalKato, I read mystik's post carefully before I asked my question, and I've reread it carefully since then. I still think the passage I quoted was ambiguous, and that my request for clarification was reasonable, not in any way mean-spirited or judgmental, let alone confrontational. I didn't (and don't yet) understand who he meant by "us".


Bull-fucking-shit you don't.
posted by agregoli at 12:27 PM on May 10, 2006


A calm tone does not a rational person make.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:28 PM on May 10, 2006


I already addressed the question about who "deserves" what. I've never personally known an opponent of contraception who believes that it makes any sense to talk about particular people especially "deserving" to fall ill or die. I think this is a slur against us.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:26 PM PST on May 10


So then you would agree that, if safe, the HPV vaccine needs to be approved by the FDA?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:28 PM on May 10, 2006


agregoli, what do you think he meant by "us"?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:30 PM on May 10, 2006


Ah, in the heat of the thread, I missed your response. I am glad to see that we are all on the sane, rational side here.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:31 PM on May 10, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: certainly as an optional vaccine, along the lines of the malaria vaccine. I'm not yet convinced (thought I haven't thought much about it) that it would make sense to have it be mandatory. But if you're just asking about FDA approval for a safe vaccine that would protect against HPV, with the question of whether it is optional or mandatory to be settled later (or perhaps at the local level), that sounds reasonable enough to me.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:32 PM on May 10, 2006


agregoli, what do you think he meant by "us"?

What the fuck does it matter what I think? I have more taste than to speculate on his post - he can clarify for you if he wants, although I don't know why he should respond to someone as callous and disrespectful as you.

The point of your post was to pick at someone who was openly hurting about the situation, and to bring up in some horribly round-about way the anti-choice idea of the fetus as not being complicit in the choice made.

Your little "I don't understand" game isn't fooling anyone.
posted by agregoli at 12:38 PM on May 10, 2006


agregoli, what do you mean by "complicit"? Seriously, I don't understand what you are trying to say.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:40 PM on May 10, 2006


Agregoli, he doesn't understand what "us" means, or "complicit". I suspect that if you answer him, he'll get confused by the word "means" or "decision" or "it" or "the". You're absolutely right: his game is fooling nobody.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:44 PM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist:

Let me make this abundantly clear. If you want to make contraception illegal, I do not consider you a rational person. I do not have any interest in affording you the courtesy of a rational debate, since your premise in this argument is that I should not have control over what goes on in my bedroom, and neither should my girlfriend. If you have personal ethical objections to contraception but are willing to respect others' right to use and access of it, then we have room for a respectful debate. If you do not respect that right, then fuck off and die.
posted by graymouser at 12:50 PM on May 10, 2006


solid-one-love: what do you think "complicit" means? I looked it up, and all I can say is that what agregoli said doesn't make any sense to me. Do you all have some other dictionary I don't know about?

As for mystyk's use of "us", he could have meant either himself and his girlfriend, or all three of them. Both are very common among people who get abortions, and it wasn't clear which he meant.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:50 PM on May 10, 2006


graymouser, my own view is that right now outlawing contraception would rightly be received by most people as an arbitrary and irrational imposition on their private lives. I think that's a regrettable and mistaken reaction, and I hope the time will come when that reaction is no longer a reasonable one, but so long as it is a reasonable reaction, I think it would be unreasonable to outlaw contraception, even if (as isn't right now the case) it were politically possible to do so.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:54 PM on May 10, 2006


Agregoli, he doesn't understand what "us" means, or "complicit". I suspect that if you answer him, he'll get confused by the word "means" or "decision" or "it" or "the". You're absolutely right: his game is fooling nobody.

YOU are absolutely right. Joke is on me for even bothering to engage with someone like that.

PT - I used it correctly, that I can see. I can't give you clarity, nor do I need to explain further - figure it out yourself.

As for mystyk's use of "us", he could have meant either himself and his girlfriend, or all three of them. Both are very common among people who get abortions, and it wasn't clear which he meant.

One has to wonder why you deem it so important to find out what he meant. What does it matter?
posted by agregoli at 12:54 PM on May 10, 2006


agregoli, could you refer me to a dictionary where I could find a definition of "complicit" as you used it? I haven't been able to find an entry that makes sense of it. See, for example,
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=complicit

The idea of a fetus being complicit in a choice (or not) doesn't make any sense to me.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:00 PM on May 10, 2006


Hey Thomist, don't you have some witches to waterboard or something?
posted by stenseng at 1:03 PM on May 10, 2006


Here's my bottom line, PT:

Regardless whether you religionists get your way in having abortion and birth control banned, there is no way you will ever prevent my wife from doing exactly as she wishes as regards sex and pregnancy. It is simply beyond your means to do so.

I will put my very life on the line to ensure she gets what she needs.

Are you going to put your life on the line to stop her?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:03 PM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist = dhoyt
posted by Floydd at 1:03 PM on May 10, 2006


agregoli, could you refer me to a dictionary where I could find a definition of "complicit" as you used it? I haven't been able to find an entry that makes sense of it. See, for example,
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=complicit

The idea of a fetus being complicit in a choice (or not) doesn't make any sense to me.


Once again - it is not my problem if you don't understand the word or the useage. I don't even understand why you are belaboring this point, except to be a total prick, but you haven't answered that for anyone. So fuck off and figure it out yourself.
posted by agregoli at 1:06 PM on May 10, 2006


Good for you five fresh fish. I feel the same way. Fuck anyone who would stand in my way - I WILL get what I want for my own body and life.
posted by agregoli at 1:07 PM on May 10, 2006


One has to wonder why you deem it so important to find out what he meant. What does it matter?

It's quite obvious why peeping_Thomist deems it important: it's the chink in the defense he's hoping to break through. It's the basis of an argument on his lips just waiting to come out.

It's confrontational and naive to think that the couple did not consider the child in their decision - since the child is the decision.

It's like asking someone who just removed a loved one from life support whether they included said person in the consideration of their actions. It's fucking obscene.
posted by NationalKato at 1:07 PM on May 10, 2006


Of course it's callous, of course it's obscene. Because conservatives - fundies, are fucking nuts. They don't give two shits about the "life of a child." They fucking HATE people. These are the selfsame assclowns that cut free and reduced lunches, fight against nationalized healthcare, and subsidized childcare for single moms.

They don't give two shits about you, your kids, or your wellbeing.

They just want to make sure that no one is having any fun. God forbid you should be able to fuck for pleasure.
posted by stenseng at 1:11 PM on May 10, 2006


To them, god is a big fucking stodgy prick who looks like Chuck Heston, and hates anyone who has a good time. Even their version of heaven is sucky and boring.

They hate themselves, they hate their world, and they're not even sure that the afterlife they're WASTING THEIR REAL LIVES for is all it's cracked up to be, and they sure as shit hate you for getting laid, listening to good music, and smokin' the reefer, while they sit around playing Pinochle and wait for the fucking Rapture.
posted by stenseng at 1:13 PM on May 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


NationalKato, many times people make the decision very much against the baby: us versus the baby. I've heard women say exactly that: it was me or the baby, and I chose me. Other times people make the abortion decision and think of it in terms of what is best for all, including the child. It was not clear from what mystyk said which of these two different ways of thinking about "us" he had in mind. Mystyk seems like a decent, articulate fellow, and he certainly sounded like he wanted to tell us what his deliberations were like. I don't see how it's confrontational for me to ask for clarification; I'm certainly not probing for a chink in his defense, and I have no intention of pursuing an argument against aboriton in this thread.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:14 PM on May 10, 2006


agregoli, I don't think you know what "complicit" means.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:16 PM on May 10, 2006


Enron Hubbard: How do the certifiably insane rise to positions of power?

By having lots of children?
Ironically, this is exactly what evolution predicts.

peeping_Thomist, I'm pretty fed up with your attitude.
You come in here and obliquely criticise people who give honest accounts of their most personal, intimate experiences, yet you take no stand so that you can feign innocence when someone questions your motives.

Riddle me this, peeping_Thomist:
Are you opposed to the vaccine for cervical cancer?
Do you encourage the use of the vaccine for cervical cancer?
Do you lend your support to groups that oppose a vaccine for cervical cancer (apart from the US govt, of course)?
posted by spazzm at 1:17 PM on May 10, 2006


So you hope that at some point, people would not be averse to not being allowed contraception. HOwever, you say that *right now*, they are rightly averse. First, if it's objectively *right* now, woudln't it be objectively *right* later? Second: you seem to imply that outlawing contraception is not arbitrary, but rather rational? How would it be rational?

Third, what kinda fucked-up theocratic (and therefore unamerican, yeehaw that's fun) utopia do you envision that contraception isn't available, and everyone's ok with that?
posted by notsnot at 1:17 PM on May 10, 2006


It's quite obvious why peeping_Thomist deems it important: it's the chink in the defense he's hoping to break through. It's the basis of an argument on his lips just waiting to come out.


Duh, I already said as much. Follow along.
posted by agregoli at 1:19 PM on May 10, 2006


Somehow, I got on agregoli's nerves. Time for me to step out.
posted by NationalKato at 1:22 PM on May 10, 2006


agregoli, I don't think you know what "complicit" means.


I think YOU really don't know what it means, even after looking it up. Stop fucking talking to me about a stupid word you don't understand. I don't care if you understood what I was talking about because you know full well what you were driving at with your comments and they indicate your asshole-ness quite nicely.
posted by agregoli at 1:22 PM on May 10, 2006


notsnot: I draw a distinction between reasonability and truth. I'm a relativist about rationality, but not about truth. So long as there are people for whom a ban on contraception would be unreasonable, it would be unreasonable to impose such a ban. But as spazzm rightly points out, demographic trends are likely to radically transform this discussion in coming years.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:23 PM on May 10, 2006


Is there anyone other than agregoli who can explain what "complicit" means as he used it?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:24 PM on May 10, 2006


But as spazzm rightly points out, demographic trends are likely to radically transform this discussion in coming years.

Not enough so that contraception for anyone would cease to be reasonable.
posted by agregoli at 1:25 PM on May 10, 2006


As SHE used it. I'm a woman, thanks.
posted by agregoli at 1:25 PM on May 10, 2006


Is there anyone other than agregoli who can explain what "complicit" means as she used it?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:28 PM on May 10, 2006


The answer is right in your response:

The idea of a fetus being complicit in a choice (or not) doesn't make any sense to me.

Which is the point it appeared you were trying to make - did they consider the feelings of the fetus on the matter? Which, I am 99% sure is the kind of question you were asking, is about the rudest thing ever, and why you are getting the responses you are.
posted by agregoli at 1:32 PM on May 10, 2006


The demographic trends toward more children being born to the religious nutjobs, yes, but not to those children continuing to be religious nutjobs. Thank you very much, can personally attest that one can be born to radically "pro-life" parents and yet think quite differently.

There will always be people for whom a ban on contraception would be unreasonable. In fact, I'd bet you a Snickers bar that a majority of people, from any time period since contraception became a widespread feasibility, would find such a ban unreasonable. Your point, then, is moot.

Oh, and knock off with the minutiae. It's irritating. I could nitpick the shit out of your use of "rightly" and "radically", but I won't. Don't even fucking ask.
posted by notsnot at 1:35 PM on May 10, 2006



Is there anyone other than agregoli who can explain what "complicit" means as she used it?


Is there anyone other than agregoli who can explain what "complicit" means as she used it?


Is there anyone other than agregoli who can explain what "complicit" means as she used it?


Is there anyone other than agregoli who can explain what "complicit" means as she used it?

*zzzzzrt*


Is there anyone other than complicit who can explain what "agregoli" means as she used it?

*bbbbbbbbbbbbzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzrrrrrt*

SYSTEMS OVERLOAD - PEDANT MELTDOWN

BOOP BOOP BOOOP
posted by stenseng at 1:37 PM on May 10, 2006


*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*
posted by Floydd at 1:39 PM on May 10, 2006


But as spazzm rightly points out, demographic trends are likely to radically transform this discussion in coming years.

I did no such thing. Please stop putting words in my mouth.
posted by spazzm at 1:40 PM on May 10, 2006


DON'T WASTE THAT IT'S GOD'S.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:40 PM on May 10, 2006


*uuughhh*

Too late....
posted by Floydd at 1:41 PM on May 10, 2006


Several people have objected to my asking what mystyk meant by "us". To the people who objected: do you think his decision would be less reasonable if he had meant by "us" him and his girlfriend, or if he had meant all three of them? Is it that you think I'm trying to get mystyk to make some damning admission? My own view is that it's no worse for a person to reason the one way than the other. Some people who get abortions reason the one way, others reason the other way. Some believe they are doing what is best for all, including the baby, while others believe they are sacrificing the baby to do what is best for the mother (and whoever else the mother is taking into account). Since both of those lines of thought seem to me equally unreasonable, it hadn't before occurred to me that people might see a significant moral difference between them. Does the person who says "it was me or the baby" strike people as doing something worse than the person who says "I really think this abortion is what is best for the baby"? I can't quite get my mind around this distinction, but it seems to offer a good explanation of the vehemence of people's reaction.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:41 PM on May 10, 2006


spazzm, sorry about that.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:42 PM on May 10, 2006


My own view is that it's no worse for a person to reason the one way than the other.

Then why ask?
posted by NationalKato at 1:43 PM on May 10, 2006


Oh no, stenseng is crashing! Call the technicians!
posted by agregoli at 1:44 PM on May 10, 2006


Uh, if you consider both lines of thought reasonable and acceptable, why the third degree, Sgt. Friday?
posted by stenseng at 1:44 PM on May 10, 2006


Damn, I pity their daughters.

And their sons-in-law.

I have seen some young people fall away from the principles of their upbringing and into depraved lifestyles, but I've also seen most of those young people eventually return to the faith of their fathers.

These are, of course, not the only two options, nor are they necessarily opposites (or even that far apart). Withholding a vaccine that prevents cancer because it might increase promiscuity is the essence of depravity.

graymouser, calling obviously rational people irrational is beneath your dignity. [emphasis mine]

Source bias.

Regardless whether you religionists get your way in having abortion and birth control banned, there is no way you will ever prevent my wife from doing exactly as she wishes as regards sex and pregnancy. It is simply beyond your means to do so.

Well, you also have the advantage of living in Canada, where your crazies are less crazy, and less powerful.
posted by oaf at 1:44 PM on May 10, 2006


NationalKato has it - YOU'RE the one who is trying to make the distinction - it doesn't matter to the rest of us, and if it didn't matter to you, you wouldn't be asking. I can think of no reason why you'd ask otherwise.
posted by agregoli at 1:45 PM on May 10, 2006


Are there any other examples where we have mandatory vaccination for a disease that can only be contracted as the result of lifestyle choices? I could certainly see making an HPV vaccine optional (much as you get malaria shots if you choose to travel to certain countries), but mandatory? That does seem questionable, especially if there are any side effects to the vaccine. But I'm open to being convinced that mandatory HPV vaccination is the way to go.

The problem, Thomist, is that HPV is not always the fault of the woman. If their partner was promiscuous previous to this relationship and the woman was not, and the woman contracts HPV and then develops the cancer, this is not her fault.

The absolute bottom line is this: there is a vaccine that can almost completely wipe out a form of cancer within two generations (assuming a 45 year period from menarche to menopause). That is an unqualified reason to give this vaccine: that it will remove something that kills people.

The idea that it will somehow give people the OK to have sex is, on the surface, ludicrous. Those who want to have it will continue; those that want to wait will continue to wait. At the age of 15, few hormonally-charged personages will, in fact, consider HPV; look at how few consider the problems of pregancy.

One of my mother's friend has been in chemotherapy for a metastized cervical cancer. Wouldn't it be good if her granddaughter had no idea what it was? Why is the idea of STOPPING A FORM OF CANCER so wrong?

That's the part that I don't understand. Explain to me that part.
posted by mephron at 1:46 PM on May 10, 2006


Does the person who says "it was me or the mass of tissue" strike people as doing something worse than the person who says "I really think this abortion is what is best for the mass of tissue"?

Fixed that for you.
posted by Floydd at 1:48 PM on May 10, 2006


Oaf, keep in mind that abortion wasn't made legal in Canada until 1988, which is 15 years after it was made legal in the US, and that it wasn't freely available in all Canadian provinces until 2004. Whether or not Canadian fundies are less powerful or less crazy than American fundies is debatable.

Like FFF, I will defend to the death my girlfriend's right to choice. My death, if necessary. The fundies' deaths, preferably.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:49 PM on May 10, 2006


Metafilter: young people fall away from the principles of their upbringing and into depraved lifestyles
posted by stenseng at 1:54 PM on May 10, 2006


stenseng rebooted!
posted by NationalKato at 1:54 PM on May 10, 2006


Several people have objected to my asking what mystyk meant by "us".

OK, I'll attempt to guess:
  • A 30% chance of birth complications with real risk to my wife's survival of which the doctor informed us. Presumably, since the complications are at birth, it's the wife's concerns that are being taken into consideration here. A 30% chance of possibly deadly complications is nothing to sneeze at. Even as safe as it's been made, carrying a baby to term is still more dangerous than the abortion pill that was pulled off the market due to several women taking it and dying.
  • The very real likelyhood that we would not be able to financially support the child. The potential parents' concerns are taken into account here, but so are those of the child—should the child have to suffer the effects of its family not having enough money to raise it properly?
  • The knowledge of how difficult separation would be if adoption were permitted. A concern for all three, but probably less of a concern for the child, unless he/she were to develop some sort of complex about being adopted later in life.
  • The trouble in dealing with her traditional family, which would disown her for a child not aborted that was born or conceived out of wedlock. A concern for all three, as they would be shunned by the wife's family for an indeterminate period of time (possibly forever). The child would most likely have to deal with it for a longer period.
So they're not being as selfish as you might like to think, peeping_Thomist.
posted by oaf at 1:55 PM on May 10, 2006


WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME?
posted by stenseng at 1:57 PM on May 10, 2006


I'm sorry, stenseng, I think you missed it. Queen to bishop three, bishop takes queen, knight takes bishop, mate.
posted by Floydd at 2:01 PM on May 10, 2006


oaf, I wasn't trying to suggest anyone was being selfish.

And I don't understand: does this mean that you people think a person who says "it's the baby or me" is being selfish?

Several people have asked why I asked mystyk about his use of "us". I asked because I wanted to understand what he was trying to tell us. It sounded like it was important to him to be understood, and I wasn't clear on something he was saying. I don't think it makes that much of a difference one way or the other as far as evaluating his action is concerned, but my goal wasn't to evaluate it, my goal was to understand it. Which I still think is a worthy goal.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:03 PM on May 10, 2006


stenseng, do a systems check, make sure no data was lost!
posted by agregoli at 2:03 PM on May 10, 2006


SCANNING LOGIC SUBROUTINES - - -

Logic Subroutines Corrupted! Logic board fails! Checksum Fails!

Revert to Catholic/Protestant/Baptist/Evangelical? Y/N
posted by stenseng at 2:05 PM on May 10, 2006


Whether or not Canadian fundies are less powerful or less crazy than American fundies is debatable.

Well, at least they're polite fundies, right?
posted by oaf at 2:10 PM on May 10, 2006


ABORT/RETRY/FAIL?
posted by Floydd at 2:11 PM on May 10, 2006


C:\>
posted by agregoli at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2006


Microsquash(R) JebusOS
(C)Copyright Microsquash Corp 1990-2001.

C:\DOCUME~1\BLESSED~1>c:

C:\DOCUME~1\BLESSED~1>dir\p
Volume in drive C has no label.
Volume Serial Number is 7471-CF7D

Directory of C:
File Not Found

C:\DOCUME~1\BLESSED~1>
posted by stenseng at 2:19 PM on May 10, 2006


WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY AGAIN? > |
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:28 PM on May 10, 2006


GLOBAL THERMONUCLEUR WAR
posted by agregoli at 2:30 PM on May 10, 2006


WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY AGAIN? > |
posted by oaf at 2:31 PM on May 10, 2006



posted by stenseng at 2:32 PM on May 10, 2006



posted by stenseng at 2:34 PM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist: I forgive you.
posted by Sparx at 2:41 PM on May 10, 2006


DOES NOT COMPUTE
posted by stenseng at 2:45 PM on May 10, 2006


Let's do this silliness thing earlier next time. The talibanesque jerks from religionist sects don't deserve the time of day, let alone a forum in which to promulgate their odious religous rule.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:47 PM on May 10, 2006


YOU ARE CORRECT!
posted by stenseng at 2:48 PM on May 10, 2006


Aw, Speak 'N Spell.
posted by agregoli at 2:53 PM on May 10, 2006


five_fresh_fish, you should be more circumspect about declaring that certain people don't "deserve" to be treated with respect. One of the great advantages of American democracy (as opposed to other forms of liberalism) is that we are committed to respecting even views that put in question our most fundamental commitments. If you give up that principle, you've given up quite a lot, and for not much benefit other than the thrill of being able to call people names.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:35 PM on May 10, 2006


Whoa, buddy- I LOVE calling people names!
posted by 235w103 at 3:49 PM on May 10, 2006


I feel neglected. I guess my RFC didn't pass.
posted by mephron at 3:50 PM on May 10, 2006


I'm getting into the thread a bit late today, and I honestly thought I couldn't be more appalled at this administration until I read it. I lost my fiance 5 years ago to cervical cancer, likely attributable to HPV (although honestly we never knew for sure...just that she had the end result). I nearly cried when Merck announced they had discovered a possible vaccine because I knew in my heart that it had the chance to keep a lot of people from having to go thru what Sarah had to. Anything to fight that horrible sickness is welcome in my book, and I'll shout it from every rooftop.
posted by rhythim at 3:52 PM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh, god, rhythim, I'm sorry. I don't know what kind of a monster would willfully fight against a vaccine. It's sickening.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:56 PM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist writes "It won't surprise you to learn that my explanation for the uncivil tone of this conversation is that many people are oversensitive about this topic because they do not have clear consciences about it. For such people, having this topic even mentioned feels like someone pressing on an abcessed tooth. Absent a better explanation, that's my understanding of why so many people howl whenever the question is raised of whether contraception is ethically OK."

I tend to think it works the other way around. It's not hard to wonder about the consciences and motivations of the people who obsess about the righteousness of other people's sex lives. Who made it your business?
posted by krinklyfig at 3:59 PM on May 10, 2006


If elected as your benevolent dictator I promise anyone against the distribution of contraception or the HPV vaccine qualifies for immediate sterilization.

I also promise retro-active abortion will remain painless, safe, and legal through-out my tenure as your benevolent dictator.
posted by tkchrist at 4:24 PM on May 10, 2006


five_fresh_fish, you should be more circumspect about declaring that certain people don't "deserve" to be treated with respect.

No I shouldn't.

One of the great advantages of American democracy (as opposed to other forms of liberalism) is that we are committed to respecting even views that put in question our most fundamental commitments.

No you aren't.

If you give up that principle, you've given up quite a lot, and for not much benefit other than the thrill of being able to call people names.

No I haven't.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:50 PM on May 10, 2006


I've been gone for several hours. Sorry.

Since I've somewhat accidentally become a major topic in this thread, I thought I'd go ahead and answer the question.

What do I mean by my use of "us"? That changes depending on what you examine. Part of it was the best interests of my wife. Part was the best interests of us as a couple. Part of it was the best interests of us as a nuclear family (child and all) and part of it was the best interests of us as an extended family. It doesn't have to mean only one, super defined thing. I would say that the particular instance of the word you were referring to means all of those simultaneously. Why? because all of those were our legitimate concerns.

If I had to guess, based on a particular comment of yours, I do not think that any embryo would want to be aborted, assuming you magically imparted on it the cognitive ability to comprehend the action. Even then I still think we made the best choice possible. There's a lot more to consider than just what a child would theoretically want.

I'll leave the thread soon, but there's a bit more I wanted to share. We were looking into the possibility that the birth control, and continued use of it before we knew she was pregnant, could have been the cause of the possible complications. I never did get a definitive answer on that from the doctor. Also, we are planning to try to have children in a while, once we're better situated. We have decided that all of our children deserve the right to know about their unborn sibling, once they get old enough to really comprehend the whole situation. Maybe I'll just show them this thread.
posted by mystyk at 5:07 PM on May 10, 2006


Let me summarize:

peeping_Thomist: You are all going to burn!!! Don't put your penis there!! don't put that into/pull that out of your Vagina!!!



Everybody else: FUCK OFF!! YOU FUCKING FUCK!!

oh, and bad Joshua/WOPR impersonations


Have I got that about right?
posted by Megafly at 5:09 PM on May 10, 2006


The seat belt analogy is spot on and is exactly what popped into my mind as I read the Unruh quote.
posted by bz at 5:19 PM on May 10, 2006


mystyk: We have decided that all of our children deserve the right to know about their unborn sibling, once they get old enough to really comprehend the whole situation.

How old do you envision that being?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:29 PM on May 10, 2006


One of the great advantages of American democracy (as opposed to other forms of liberalism) is that we are committed to respecting even views that put in question our most fundamental commitments. If you give up that principle, you've given up quite a lot, and for not much benefit other than the thrill of being able to call people names.

Uh... No. Nope, sorry, wrong.

We are committed to accepting and allowing any cockamamie form of speech you and other screwballs out there wish to foist upon us.

Ain't nowhere says we have to respect it, you backwards, cretinous little nincompoop. =)
posted by stenseng at 5:34 PM on May 10, 2006


How old do you envision that being?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:29 PM PST on May 10


Describe to me in detail your wife's favorite sexual positions and if you've done anal, since it's apparently Inappropriate Personal Questions Hour.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:35 PM on May 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist writes "It won't surprise you to learn that my explanation for the uncivil tone of this conversation is that many people are oversensitive about this topic because they do not have clear consciences about it. "

Hey, if thinking that gives you the warm snuggly sense of self-righteousness you so obviously live for, knock yourself out. It does not, however, give you any real insight into why any of us feel so strongly about this issue.

I have used birth control for most of my adult life because I believe that it is the most moral choice I could realistically make. I wasn't emotionally or mentally stable enough to make a good mother. I drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, ingested recreational substances and had a crappy diet. I dated a lot of jerks. Not having access to birth control would not have been an incentive for me to straighten up my act, contrary to what you might believe. The child that a lack of access to birth control would have eventually produced would have been stuck with me as a mother and one of my loser ex-boyfriends as a father. The person I was 15 or 20 years ago would have been a terrible parent.

On a more positive note, I have been in a stable, monogamous relationship with a wonderful man for 8 years. Late last fall, my husband and & decided to get pregnant. I was ready to get pregnant much earlier in the relationship, but respected my husband's desire to wait. Again, I made this choice because I believed that it was the most moral one - I wanted him to be fully ready to be a father.

Two reasons to use birth control - preventing the creation of a child I couldn't adequately physically or emotionally nurture, and respecting another person's right to fully choose when they were ready to be a parent. My conscience is absolutely clear.

The world that you and your ilk want to create would rob me of the ability to make the choices that I feel were the most moral I could make, all the while with the smug self-assurance that *you* know what's best for me and everyone else who would be affected by a lack of access to birth control. You're not the person who would have to deal up close and personal with the consequences of an unintended pregnancy in the midst of an already miserable and chaotic life, and somehow I doubt that you're the type to try to intervene in another's misery for any reason other than to quote platitudes or clearly establish that you are their moral better. Hope that adequately explains my "uncivil tone".
posted by echolalia67 at 5:37 PM on May 10, 2006


stenseng, shouting down views you don't agree with, calling people names, and repeatedly lying about people (e.g. saying that they hate sex, or that they are insane, or that they believe people who get sick "deserve" it) is incompatible with minimal civility.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:45 PM on May 10, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, how about this: just as a general question for anyone to answer who cares to, how old do you think a child would need to be before it would be a good idea for his or her parents to tell him or her that he or she had an older sibling who was aborted? No doubt there's going to be a range, but what would you think would be the factors that would determine when it was appropriate?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:50 PM on May 10, 2006


"...is incompatible with minimal civility."

You don't say.

Sorry, screwhead.
posted by stenseng at 6:00 PM on May 10, 2006


how old do you think a child would need to be before it would be a good idea for his or her parents to tell him or her that he or she had an older sibling who was aborted?

Well, if it were my kid - because that's the only one whose upbringing I should have any control over - I wouldn't tell him or her. I also wouldn't tell him or her the details of his or her conception, if you follow. If pressed, I'd wait under he or she were an older adolescent who had been thoroughly instructed on human sexuality and birth control, and the pitfalls of sexual behavior. I hope that answers your question and that it concludes your efforts to pry into the lives of people like mystyk who have a lot more to offer MetaFilter than you do.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:12 PM on May 10, 2006


amen to that.
posted by stenseng at 6:36 PM on May 10, 2006


All this handwringing is for naught. Abortion is one thing; even many in the right to choose camp are uncomfortable with the act itself, they just are more uncomfortable with taking away a woman's control over her own body. However, when it comes to birth control I think the right to lifers are going to find it an awful lot harder to put this genie back into the bottle. It dilutes their message and shows them to be rather narrow minded.
posted by caddis at 6:48 PM on May 10, 2006


how old do you think a child would need to be before it would be a good idea for his or her parents to tell him or her that he or she had an older sibling who was aborted?

You're question seems to imply there should be some generalized rule. Why? What's wrong with trusting the parents, who one would reasonably expect to know the child and their circumstances better than the rest of us, to decide when and if it's appropriate? In other words, it's none of our business.
posted by normy at 6:52 PM on May 10, 2006


You're Your
...must ...make...coffee ...

posted by normy at 6:57 PM on May 10, 2006


normy, I wasn't thinking of there being some general rule. I guess I'm more interested in what sorts of considerations would make someone think their child either was or was not yet ready to learn of such a thing. If you had decided you wanted to tell your children, what sorts of factors would push you in the direction of thinking "now" is the right time to tell them.

With regard to human sexuality in general, there's a lot of variation, but I feel like I had a grip on how to decide when to start talking with my children about sex. But the "you had an aborted sibling" message strikes me as significantly different.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:16 PM on May 10, 2006


However, when it comes to birth control I think the right to lifers are going to find it an awful lot harder to put this genie back into the bottle. It dilutes their message and shows them to be rather narrow minded.

Absolutely. And those in favor of reproductive freedom can and should demonize the "right to life" movement because of this opposition to birth control, which reveals the underlying hostility toward sex and a woman's right to control her body that underlies the whole edifice. The politics of anti-choice lead right down the path of anti-birth control, and the pro-choice movement can and should hammer this point whenever and wherever possible.
posted by graymouser at 7:19 PM on May 10, 2006


graymouser: which reveals the underlying hostility toward sex and a woman's right to control her body

Apparently the idea is that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:25 PM on May 10, 2006


The people on your side, Thomist, clearly believe that a woman does not have a right to control her body. In addition, they spread misinformation about the safety and effectiveness of condoms, promote abstinence pledges that don't work, and call for abstinence-only sex education, which also does not work. You can't get much more hostile to sex than that.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:59 PM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


"you had an aborted sibling"

Yeah, I'm not sure this conversation ever needs to happen. An aborted fetus is not a 'sibling'.

My grandmother had three miscarriages before having my mother and aunts. We don't call the miscarraiges 'siblings'.
posted by Miko at 8:32 PM on May 10, 2006


Just for the record, here at the two posts that started this entire peeping_Thomist idiocy:
What - you thought these nutjobs just wanted to outlaw abortions? Do yourself a favor and go to a real fundie church and listen to a sermon, any sermon. Now imagine all the points of that sermon becoming the law of the land, and remember that next time you think about trying to have a meaningful dialog with these dark age cretins.
posted by 2sheets at 7:25 PM PST on May 9 [+fave] [!]

I don't appreciate being called a cretin and a nutjob.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:49 PM PST on May 9 [+fave] [!]
Buddy, you laid claim to that title.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:32 PM on May 10, 2006


Peeping Tom=voyeur.

Voyeurism is a practice in which the individual derives sexual pleasure from secretly observing other people.

I guess that out buddy Thomist's sexual predilections ensure that birth control and abortion will always be uneccessary in his life. Good for him.

(I'm fully aware that Thomism is a philosophy bases on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas. It's still a pretty racy handle for such a non-racy guy)

Seriously, though, rather than spending time and energy debating the creepy little sedated woman-hater, why don't we just pretend he's not here? He'll scuttle off soon enough.
posted by cilantro at 8:38 PM on May 10, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: The people on your side, Thomist, clearly believe that a woman does not have a right to control her body.

Unless this is code for opposition to abortion, it is false. And if it is code for abortion, it can hardly be what underlies opposition to abortion, which was the slur against us.

they spread misinformation about the safety and effectiveness of condoms,

There have been cases of misguided people doing that, but I don't see what that has to do with hostility to sex.

promote abstinence pledges that don't work,

My understanding is that abstinence pledges have been shown to delay the onset of sexual activity though not to decrease the likelihood of premarital sexual activity. Have you heard something different?

and call for abstinence-only sex education, which also does not work.

I guess everything turns on what counts as "working".

You can't get much more hostile to sex than that.

That would be true if hostility to contraception were equivalent to hostility to sex. But it's not, and in any case if you claim that it is, then you have to give up the claim that hostility to sex underlies hostility to contraception, since something can't underly itself.

Seriously, the "hates sex" and "don't want women to control their bodies" lines are outright lies, sheer propaganda. Given that more than 95% of the population endorses contraception, it's hard to see why some people feel the need to lie about the few of us who oppose it. When I see such lies--over and over and over again, and apparently taken as a dogmatic article of faith immune to revision in the face of contrary evidence--it makes me wonder what is really going on.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:52 PM on May 10, 2006


Thomist, based upon what I've seen of your cockeyed worldview, you're going to wonder what is really going on for some time to come.
posted by stenseng at 9:05 PM on May 10, 2006


That would be true if hostility to contraception were equivalent to hostility to sex.

You can see your own tonsils, can't you?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:16 PM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


peeping_Thomist is simply using rhetoric that undermines the beliefs of the majority in very obvious terms, by disrespecting views that are fairly obvious by wording but contentious to him. To question a plain use of English is, to me, more insulting than yelling epithets at a stranger.

As for the ethics of denying a HPV vaccine, read the FPP. It was the second link, at least attempt to notice what's going on before starting up your agenda. This is about crappy "anti-child mindset" rhetoric and HPV.

I'm great that your life choices have worked for you. As the recent ask.mefi post about empathy explained, there's a good in understanding that others are not like you and that there are benefits to understanding other perspectives. I can understand the idea of waiting until marriage for sex, not using contraceptives, and sticking with your spouse through thick and thin. I have friends and relatives who have done that, some with more success than others. Where are your friends who have been promiscuous then come around to a religious view? Do you have friends who followed your own formula yet still had a failed marriage? They may be in the minority according to your uncited studies, but they're still people and worthy of consideration.
posted by mikeh at 10:09 PM on May 10, 2006


I have to wonder - since Thomist seems to think it would be okay to force people to live without contraceptives, I wonder how he would feel if society forced him to use contraceptives.
posted by rougy at 10:31 PM on May 10, 2006


mikeh: peeping_Thomist is simply using rhetoric that undermines the beliefs of the majority in very obvious terms, by disrespecting views that are fairly obvious by wording but contentious to him.

I don't have a clue what you are saying here.

As for HPV, about which I think I do understand what you're trying to say, I found the second link in the FPP both biased and uninformative. A HPV vaccine sounds like a good idea to me, assuming that it is safe. I'd be interested in hearing actual details about the ongoing controversy rather than an attack piece in a liberal publication.

In response to your questions: I have friends who have been promiscuous and have then come around to a Catholic view of human sexuality. I also have friends who have tried to live according to the Church's teaching but have ended up with a failed marriage. I'm not sure what your point was in asking, but yes, I know a pretty wide range of people. I don't know what would lead you to think that I don't think of them as "people and worthy of consideration".
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:33 PM on May 10, 2006


rougy, I don't think the conditions exist in any modern nation-state that would make it reasonable to outlaw contraception, not because of opinion polls, but because of the modern nation-state's lack of moral authority in such matters. Simply getting "enough" people to agree to such a proposal wouldn't suffice to give the state moral authority to implement it. And while I think it is possible that there could, at least in principle, be a political order that had the moral authority to outlaw contraception, I don't, for obvious reasons, think any political order could ever have the moral authority to impose contraception upon its citizens. But the discussion is moot, since the modern nation-state isn't going anywhere any time soon.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:41 PM on May 10, 2006


Gosh - Thomist - which passage of the Bible did you pull that from? Maybe we should outlaw the Bible instead....
posted by rougy at 11:01 PM on May 10, 2006


"And while I think it is possible that there could, at least in principle, be a political order that had the moral authority to outlaw contraception, I don't, for obvious reasons, think any political order could ever have the moral authority to impose contraception upon its citizens."

Moral authority? What difference does that make?

Does the word "overpopulation" mean anything to you?

You'r an eloquent, albiet shallow person, Thomist. You're looking at the world through what appears to be a small hole.
posted by rougy at 11:06 PM on May 10, 2006


rougy: Moral authority? What difference does that make?

It makes this difference: recognizing inherent limits on the state's authority to impose its will at gunpoint is the only way to avoid a political order that is arbitrary and irrational.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:45 PM on May 10, 2006


"You're looking at the world through what appears to be a small hole."

Yeah, guess which one...
posted by stenseng at 11:51 PM on May 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


: graymouser, my own view is that right now outlawing contraception would rightly be received by most people as an arbitrary and irrational imposition on their private lives. I think that's a regrettable and mistaken reaction, and I hope the time will come when that reaction is no longer a reasonable one, but so long as it is a reasonable reaction, I think it would be unreasonable to outlaw contraception, even if (as isn't right now the case) it were politically possible to do so.

...earlier:

: And while I think it is possible that there could, at least in principle, be a political order that had the moral authority to outlaw contraception, I don't, for obvious reasons, think any political order could ever have the moral authority to impose contraception upon its citizens. But the discussion is moot, since the modern nation-state isn't going anywhere any time soon.

But you really wouldn't mind if it did go, wouldn't you?
posted by uncle harold at 1:20 AM on May 11, 2006


"...recognizing inherent limits on the state's authority to impose its will at gunpoint is the only way to avoid a political order that is arbitrary and irrational."

Like denying people access to birth control, for instance?
posted by rougy at 1:27 AM on May 11, 2006


rougy: Like denying people access to birth control, for instance?

Given the current political order, yes. But in itself having a state deny people access to birth control can be a perfectly fine thing.

uncle_harold: But you really wouldn't mind if it did go, wouldn't you?

No, I wouldn't mind if modern nation-states passed away, so long as they were not replaced with chaos (which is the only obvious available candidate right now).

I wouldn't mind living (heck, would love to live) in a political community in which contraception had been reasonably banned. But there's no straightforward path from here to there, and if there were an attempt to ban access to contraception given our current situation, that would be a very bad thing. Not just because people would be angry (though clearly they would), but because they would have good reason to be angry.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:13 AM on May 11, 2006


Unless this is code for opposition to abortion, it is false. And if it is code for abortion, it can hardly be what underlies opposition to abortion, which was the slur against us.

Well, braniac, if you oppose a woman's right to abortion, you oppose a woman's right to control her body. Would you force people to donate blood under penalty of jail time? Would you force them to donate their kidneys while they still live? It would save lives, after all.

There have been cases of misguided people doing that, but I don't see what that has to do with hostility to sex.

Don't be coy. Any informed person knows that the scientific consensus is that condoms are safe and effective. Anti-contraception advocates spread lies about their effectiveness because they feel that lying is an appropraite tactic to stop sex outside of marriage or sex for any reason other than procreation.

My understanding is that abstinence pledges have been shown to delay the onset of sexual activity though not to decrease the likelihood of premarital sexual activity. Have you heard something different?

Do you have your head in the ground? You might try reading something: (1, 2)

I guess everything turns on what counts as "working".

If it doesn't prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs, it doesn't work. How's that for a handy definition?

Seriously, the "hates sex" and "don't want women to control their bodies" lines are outright lies, sheer propaganda.

Mmm, nope. Maybe you don't hate all sex - but you definitely hate all sex that is not procreative and within a heterosexual marriage. That is definitely true.

it makes me wonder what is really going on.


Yeah, why would we be mad? The conservative Christian right is against an HPV vaccine, wants to ban sex toys from being sold, are teaching kids that condoms don't work, oppose distributing condoms in the most AIDS-ravaged countries in the world, and promote sexual education that may be worse than no sexual education at all and is certainly worse that a rational, scientific education that takes into account the realities of adolescence. Now why would we be mad?

You're not stupid. But you are incredibly ingorant and deeply misinformed. The fact that I had to bother looking up the Columbia-Yale study and the Guttmacher study for you is deeply depressing, as anyone advocating the kind of world you advocate should probably take into account what's going on in the real world. But how stupid of me to give you the benefit of the doubt.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:37 AM on May 11, 2006


peeping_Thomist, having just read mystyk's explanation for his use of the term 'us' and seeing how several of us picked up on this waaayy prior to having mystyk explain it (and since a few of us broke it down for you), do you now see why your repeated nitpicking was a bit much?
posted by NationalKato at 7:09 AM on May 11, 2006


Good on PT for representing the nigh on indefensible position of the anti-contraception christian mind set.

I would respect Christians (and I hope I am not assuming too much here as regards PTs faith) a whole lot more if they practiced what he (Christ) preached. Christ seemed to be fairly into living a modest life, caring for others, giving up any possesions, spreading god's love. He didn't seem to have much to say on the subject of contraception, abortion or anti-cancer drugs.

I mean, if you are going to believe the story of Christ and examine your faith and seek out the true meaning of love go for it. Just shut up about it.

I am ignoring the bulk of the book, which I think shares similar themes to the other Abrahamic religions and as such is kind of manual for keeping the faith when your tribe is having a particularly difficult time of it for a few generations. They certainly kept the faith, but then some came to the conclusion that it was the faith that kept them. Difficult times can bring on strange mental contortions; witness the conspiracy theories associated with any recent event in American history.

Personally, I think the ideas that people should be ashamed of their naked bodies, enjoying sex, drugs and rock and roll have not been beneficial to the mental well-being of the human race.
posted by asok at 7:11 AM on May 11, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: The fact that I had to bother looking up the Columbia-Yale study and the Guttmacher study for you

I was aware of both those studies before you "looked them up for me". I did not say anything about the efficacy of abstinence-only education other than it all depends what counts as "working". The claim I made was about abstinence pledges, and how they have been shown to delay but not reduce the incidence of premarital sex. (Did you notice that people who take abstinence pledges have fewer sexual partners and marry earlier?) Your claim that I am "incredibly ignorant" and "deeply misinformed" is baseless, but just the sort of slur that is to be expected in this forum, where name-calling substitutes for reasoned discourse.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:48 AM on May 11, 2006


Did you notice that people who take abstinence pledges have fewer sexual partners and marry earlier?

Heck, if I'd taken a pledge of abstinence I'd want to hurry up and get married, too. Quickest way for me to have some sex. The human species is hardwired to want to procreate.
posted by NationalKato at 7:55 AM on May 11, 2006




The claim I made was about abstinence pledges, and how they have been shown to delay but not reduce the incidence of premarital sex.

The point is not if it reduces or delays premarital sex, because that being a good thing is your personal contorted moral view (that you are perfectly entitled to).

What counts is lives saved and less STDs, and when you have proper sex-ed and no artificial inhibitions against condoms or talking about sex, you can have all the premarital sex you want and still save lives and lower teen pregnancy and spread of STDs. See also: pretty much the rest of the developed world outside the US.

Did you notice that people who take abstinence pledges have fewer sexual partners and marry earlier?

Chicken, meet egg, egg, meet chicken.
posted by uncle harold at 8:03 AM on May 11, 2006


uncle_harold: The point is not if it reduces or delays premarital sex [...] What counts is lives saved and less STDs

But of course your views about what "the point is" and of "what counts" aren't the product of "your personal contorted moral view (that you are perfectly entitled to)", but are instead the unambiguous verdict of pure common sense. Right?

Is there no limit to how unreflective is it possible for people to be?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:13 AM on May 11, 2006


PT, what counts more to you: lives saved or less sex?
posted by caddis at 8:15 AM on May 11, 2006


Thanks, caddis. Because if people having less sex is more important than saving people's LIVES, then I fail to see how that is a fantastic moral position to have.
posted by agregoli at 8:20 AM on May 11, 2006


(Did you notice that people who take abstinence pledges have fewer sexual partners and marry earlier?)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:48 AM PST on May 11


I'd rather marry someone who used a condom with ten parters than someone who didn't use a condom and had only two partners. But hey, less sex and more STDs must be great. I hope that works out for you.

Check this shit out: Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge.

The pledging group was also less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested for STDs, the study found.

Last year, the same research team found that 88% of teens who pledge abstinence end up having sex before marriage, compared with 99% of teens who do not make a pledge.


Hmm, 11% more don't have sex before marriage, but those who do are less likely to use protection or get tested for STDs. I can't possibly see how you feel that the benefits outweigh the risks here.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:28 AM on May 11, 2006


caddis: what counts more to you: lives saved or less sex?

Your question has faulty assumptions. Ethics isn't primarily about counting things. Given a straight choice between two outcomes, one in which more people die and another in which more people have illicit sex, I'd rather more people have illicit sex. But in performing actions we don't directly choose between outcomes, we have to actually bring about those outcomes by doing things. Much turns on what we are willing to do in order to achieve desirable outcomes. Counselling people on how to do things that are immoral is not something it's OK to do, even though there would be some good consequences from it. I think the evidence is still ambiguous about how good the consequences of promoting contraception are, and am inclined to think there are many very negative consequences that people are inclined to gloss over. But my opposition to teaching contraception to children doesn't turn on the state of that evidence. The perversion of treating one's own body and the bodies of others the way contraception requires one to treat them is what makes contraception an unacceptable means to whatever ends you think it will help you achieve.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:34 AM on May 11, 2006


Counselling people on how to do things that are immoral is not something it's OK to do, even though there would be some good consequences from it.

You think that sex is immoral because of your religion. Kindly keep it out of my life, thanks.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:36 AM on May 11, 2006


The perversion of treating one's own body and the bodies of others the way contraception requires one to treat them is what makes contraception an unacceptable means to whatever ends you think it will help you achieve.


Oh, please do elaborate on why using contraception creates a situation where there is a perversion of treatment towards the body. Please, oh please.
posted by agregoli at 8:45 AM on May 11, 2006


The perversion ... is what makes contraception an unacceptable means to whatever ends you think it will help you achieve.

We're not making soylent green here. We're not doing some truly heinous SciFi movie Nazi medical experiment. This isn't the work of Dr. Frankenstein on his "monster." We're teaching people who are going to do these things either way (a fact, as shown repeatedly in study after study that you even acknowledge) how to do them safely, and we're not removing abstinence as an option to be taught.

You've already stated that you think it's morally acceptable for a country to outlaw contraception, just not technically feasible at present. You've also said that you think it's morally unacceptable for a country to similarly mandate contraception, regardless of circumstances. This is where you give up your inherent hypocritical bias. You think that government intrusion is overstepping bounds when it goes the way you don't like, but is perfectly ok when the same level of intrusion goes the way you do.

I don't care if you tried to pick at my story or not. Really, I don't mind, because my goal was to relate my experiences so others can learn from it, not care if others disagree. All comments made to or about me aside, the cognitive dissonance you're showing for the issue overall is simply pissing me off.

That's it. We're done. You've lost all legitimacy with these inane arguments.
posted by mystyk at 9:15 AM on May 11, 2006


I think the evidence is still ambiguous about how good the consequences of promoting contraception are,

... as is the evidence that teaching people about contraception increases sexual activity. In your opinion teaching someone how to protect themselves and their partner in immoral activity is wrong, while I am of the opinion that it is perfectly acceptable to counsel them to act morally and avoid the behavior, but that if they are weak and succumb to temptation to at least take some precautions. Is that a fair assessment of your position?

Another question for you, do you think it is acceptable for married couples to use contraception?
posted by caddis at 9:24 AM on May 11, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: You think that sex is immoral because of your religion.

That's not true, and I've told you it's not true, but you keep saying it anyway.

Optimus_Chyme: Kindly keep it out of my life, thanks.

Yes, let's do talk about keeping things out of people's lives. You all want to take money from me, at gunpoint, to pay for things that are immoral. Please explain to me how that's not a clear case of your "religion" infringing on my life. Do I get to opt out of paying property taxes if you get your way and schools are required to teach my neighbors' children how to defile their own bodies?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:29 AM on May 11, 2006


caddis: do you think it is acceptable for married couples to use contraception?

Of course not.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:31 AM on May 11, 2006


Do I get to opt out of paying property taxes if you get your way and schools are required to teach my neighbors' children how to defile their own bodies?

It's called the social contract, PT. If you don't like it, you get to leave the society. You don't get to opt out of parts of the contract.

Please explain to me how that's not a clear case of your "religion" infringing on my life.

You don't know what "us" or "complicit" means, so I guess it was too much to suppose that you knew what "religion" meant, too. Or "defile". Or "immoral".
posted by solid-one-love at 9:35 AM on May 11, 2006


solid-one-love, if you'd told the founders of the United States that the "social contract" included taxing people to pay other people's children how to use contraceptives, they'd have laughed you to scorn. The principle you are operating on is clearly "might makes right": you have enough people on your side to oppress a small minority, so the act of oppression stands in no further need of justification. "Social contract" my ass.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:38 AM on May 11, 2006


if you'd told the founders of the United States that the "social contract" included taxing people to pay other people's children how to use contraceptives, they'd have laughed you to scorn.

Trans-temporal telepathy is a wonderful thing. James Randi will pay you a million American dollars for a demonstration under scientifically-controlled conditions.

I think it's much more likely that the deists who made up the majority of your founding fathers would have gladly beaten the shit out of you for your narrow-minded, anti-freedom idiocy.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2006


caddis: do you think it is acceptable for married couples to use contraception?

Of course not.


Which goes to show that your argument is all along about your dislike of contraceptives in general. I suppose my wife and I are going to burn in hell for that, huh?

So, then, if you just want to stop all contraceptives, why bring up issues of abstinecne? Was it a red herring?

You proceed to claim it's wrong on moral grounds. A religious perspective, and nothing more. Who are you to decide another person's morality, if it doesen't effect you personally? That would be akin to mandating their religion.

Since you brought up payment coming out of taxes, let's continue that thread. You claim it's immoral to tax you, but the government isn't working from a point of morality. You know, that pesky wall of separation that Jefferson used to spout off about. The one he made clear must exist, but that you want demolished (as long as your religion is the one controlling things). The government is operating under the ideas of social goods, and the facts have been in for decades now that contraception has many, many social benefits (detailed pretty well in this thread) even if you consider it immoral. It has also been proven conclusively that abstinence-only education and blocking contraceptives has many social drawbacks, even if you consider it moral. Get off your high horse and look at what these programs actually do and you'll realize why so many people view your ideas of what's moral on this issue to be completely off-the-wall.
posted by mystyk at 9:45 AM on May 11, 2006


That's not true, and I've told you it's not true, but you keep saying it anyway.

Then what the fuck are you talking about when you say "Counselling people on how to do things that are immoral is not something it's OK to do, even though there would be some good consequences from it"?

So sex is not immoral, but contraception is? You think it's better for teenagers not to use condoms than to use them? You're all over the place.

Do I get to opt out of paying property taxes if you get your way and schools are required to teach my neighbors' children how to defile their own bodies?

Teaching adolescents - the vast, vast majority of whom will have sex whether you like it or not, no matter what you tell them - that condoms are a safe and effective way of preventing pregnancy and STDs is not defilement.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:45 AM on May 11, 2006


I think I've witnessed some of the best trolling MeFi has ever experienced.

I say this because it would really upset me to learn that PT is for real. I know his particular breed of religious lunacy exists; I just prefer to deny that it can make its way to MeFi.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:24 AM on May 11, 2006


We're not being trolled, FFF. Reading from his posting history is like listening to Pat Robertson, without the charm, humour, insight or intelligence.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:32 AM on May 11, 2006


mystyk: Who are you to decide another person's morality, if it doesn't effect you personally? That would be akin to mandating their religion.

I haven't proposed any such thing. I haven't proposed taking away your ability to get access to your precious contraception. Yet you guys want to point a gun at me (which is how governments ultimately enforce laws) and make me pay for other people's kids to use contraception. Real open-minded, folks.

I haven't asked for the government to prohibit the use of contraception, and I don't have any problem with an optional HPV vaccine. You people are freaking out because someone in your midst actually believes that contraception is wrong. The image I used earlier seems apt: you guys are howling as though I'd pressed on an abcessed tooth.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:42 AM on May 11, 2006




Yet you guys want to point a gun at me (which is how governments ultimately enforce laws) and make me pay for other people's kids to use contraception. Real open-minded, folks.


Huh? That doesn't make any sense. How is teaching kids how to use contraception the same as buying it for them with your tax dollars?
posted by agregoli at 10:48 AM on May 11, 2006


Yet you guys want to point a gun at me (which is how governments ultimately enforce laws) and make me pay for other people's kids to use contraception.

Yeah, and I help pay to bomb Iraqi children. Doesn't mean that I'm going to pull some bullshit whiny crap about not paying taxes.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:51 AM on May 11, 2006


agregoli, you're taking money from me, at gunpoint, to pay teachers to teach perversion to other people's children. What gives you the right to take that money from me for that immoral purpose?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:52 AM on May 11, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, how do you feel about your tax dollars being used to bomb Iraqi children?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:53 AM on May 11, 2006


That's the funniest thing I've been told I'm doing ever.

I can't even respond. For real. Oh my god that is hilarious.

I'm sorry, but this is starting to be too surreal and hysterical to continue talking about - I can't take PT seriously any more at all. From now on I'll be laughing from the sidelines.
posted by agregoli at 10:53 AM on May 11, 2006


Out of interest, peeping-Thomist, what are your views on natural birth control?
posted by kar120c at 10:56 AM on May 11, 2006


Have a seat by me, agregoli.
Here, have a beer.
posted by Floydd at 10:57 AM on May 11, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, how do you feel about your tax dollars being used to bomb Iraqi children?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:53 AM PST on May 11


It sucks.

But in contrast to the contraception "debate," at least there are good reasons for teaching adolescents the basics of human sexuality. Public health costs will be decreased, and lives will be saved, and fewer children will be born to unprepared parents.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:59 AM on May 11, 2006


Huh? That doesn't make any sense. How is teaching kids how to use contraception the same as buying it for them with your tax dollars?

I guess teaching it is not only the same, but even worse: educated children might, one day, start to think for themselves. The horror!
posted by uncle harold at 11:03 AM on May 11, 2006


Aw, thanks, Flyodd.
posted by agregoli at 11:04 AM on May 11, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, I agree that it does suck. And there's no reason for me to be any happier about being forced to pay for teaching perversion to children than I am about being forced to pay for killing innocent children.

If you all want to engage in perversion in the privacy of your bedrooms, by all means feel free; we live in a society in which we've agreed to allow each other to make such decisions. If you want to teach your children to engage in perversions, that's your responsibility, just as it's my responsibility to teach my own children how to respect their own bodies and the bodies of other people. But if you want to point a gun at me and make me pay for your perversions, or to pay people to teach your children how to indulge in your perversions, I say you are overstepping the bounds of the social contract, and not by a short distance, either.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:16 AM on May 11, 2006


What gives you the right to take that money from me for that immoral purpose?

It's not an issue of 'rights'. You have given your consent by your choice to remain a citizen. Seriously, are you that stupid?
posted by solid-one-love at 11:18 AM on May 11, 2006


"I wouldn't mind living (heck, would love to live) in a political community in which contraception had been reasonably banned."

I'd be more than happy to start a collection to send you to Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia. I can't really think of another place on earth that would live up to your standards of purity.
posted by 2sheets at 11:27 AM on May 11, 2006


solid-one-love: seriously, do you see any constraint on a government's power to tax for abritrary purposes?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:35 AM on May 11, 2006


2sheets, neither Afghanistan nor Saudi Arabia is "a political community in which contraception has been reasonably banned". Banned, yes. Reasonably, no.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:37 AM on May 11, 2006


seriously, do you see any constraint on a government's power to tax for arbitrary purposes?

If there is one single purpose at all that is not arbitrary for a government to raise taxes for, it's public health.
posted by uncle harold at 11:42 AM on May 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


Of course there are restraints. Those restraints are determined by elected bodies, and you have the franchise to vote for who makes up those bodies. And I'm pretty sure you also don't know what "arbitrary" means.

In any case, complaining that you're being forced at gunpoint to fund perversion is, at best, merely ignorant. Whatever homeschooling you got was worth what you paid for it.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:44 AM on May 11, 2006


Using words like "immoral," "defile," and "perversion," doesn't square with peeping_Thomist's claims to not be arguing on religious grounds.

Oh, please do elaborate on why using contraception creates a situation where there is a perversion of treatment towards the body.
Well, condoms do look pretty silly [SFW].

posted by kirkaracha at 11:49 AM on May 11, 2006


How is contraception perverse?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:54 AM on May 11, 2006


PT- so what would constitute a "a political community in which contraception has been reasonably banned"?
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:54 AM on May 11, 2006


IZ: one in which everyone thought as he did, I imagine, where secular thought had been bred out of the populace or some such nonsense fantasy.

But we're arguing with a guy who on the one hand advocates some Bizarro-world strict constitutionalist view where Roe v Wade was decided by activist judges giving people rights that they don't have, while out of the other side of his mouth he maintains that children have the right to live in a household with two married parents of different genders.

Where it suits his paleo-xtian mindset, he'll cling to the most fucktarded argument like a tapeworm egg clinging to a dried turd. And when the holes in his "reasoning" are pointed out, he relies on forgetting the meanings of simple English words.

Can I pull up a seat, agregoli?
posted by solid-one-love at 12:07 PM on May 11, 2006


InfidelZombie, it would have to be a political community in which the government did not see itself as implementing a divinely commanded law, but instead through a rational dialogue the community became aware of the ways in which contraception undermines human flourishing and decided to take appropriate steps to guard against it. It would have to be something other than an imperialist modern nation-state.

Taliban types are scary, and the repeated accusations that I am some kind of religious fanatic are evidence of pretty poor reading skills on some people's part.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:08 PM on May 11, 2006


*comes back in and hoists a case of beer*

What'd I miss?
posted by NationalKato at 12:16 PM on May 11, 2006


...it would have to be a political community in which the government did not see itself as implementing a divinely commanded law, but instead through a rational dialogue the community...

In other words, a represenative democracy with a strict separation of church and state? I wonder where we may find a country with a constitution like that...(I guess as I look at it, under the current administrators and with the strong push of religion behind it, ours fails to qualify any more. Perhaps there is a political party in this country that actually opposes religious interference in government affairs)

...the ways in which contraception undermines human flourishing and decided to take appropriate steps to guard against it.

human flourishing includes issues of public health. By allowing contraceptives, they are taking exactly the appropriate steps to guard public health.
posted by mystyk at 12:18 PM on May 11, 2006


Can I pull up a seat, agregoli?

Solid-one-love, I'm thinking of making margaritas. This is too incomprehensible to miss. I'm starting to think that PT's favorite word is "perversion" because he's used it like 50 times. It's like some gross fetish.

Those dirty lawmakers forcing a gun to my head to make me pay to teach perversions to children!

Doesn't it sound naughty?

I've never heard anyone talk in this way about these subjects, ever. Even with all the fucktard fundie shit I've read over the years. It's fascinating.
posted by agregoli at 12:20 PM on May 11, 2006


What does Kirk Cameron think about all this?
posted by NationalKato at 12:20 PM on May 11, 2006


*starts slicing limes*
posted by Floydd at 12:24 PM on May 11, 2006


Once again, NationalKato asks the REALLY important questions...
posted by agregoli at 12:30 PM on May 11, 2006


but instead through a rational dialogue the community became aware of the ways in which contraception undermines human flourishing

There are 6.5 billion humans alive on this planet. We are the most successful species of our size to have ever lived. We use forty percent of the planet's terrestrial net primary productivity. The last thing we need is for all of us to forgo birth control, especially when it means there are children who will be born only to die desperate and hungry. How many people is enough for you? Ten billion? Twenty billion? A hundred billion? The planet does not have the resources to support all of humanity at the current growth rate. You can have it two ways: sane policies on family planning and contraception, or a world torn by wars for fresh water, land, and energy, where 95% of the children born will know nothing but thirst, starvation, and misery.

You pick.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:34 PM on May 11, 2006


OC,

Amen to that!
posted by mystyk at 12:56 PM on May 11, 2006


contraception undermines human flourishing

!!

!

*pulls up another seat*
posted by funambulist at 12:56 PM on May 11, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: How many people is enough for you?

There are effective ways to regulate family size without resorting to contraception.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:03 PM on May 11, 2006


Coming on her tits for one.
posted by longbaugh at 1:04 PM on May 11, 2006


I've heard that called "The Sin of Ohhhh-Man!!!"
posted by Floydd at 1:07 PM on May 11, 2006


Effective? Not as effective as contraceptives.
posted by agregoli at 1:11 PM on May 11, 2006


(I think we're back to the ol' abstinence, agregoli, since it's so easy for peeping_Thomist. Besides, he'd rather just watch)
posted by Floydd at 1:15 PM on May 11, 2006


Oh, I hope not. That's so sad - to think of a married couple not having sex because it's not for a baby.

It makes me want to run home and do my husband right now. Hooray for birth control pills! I can't wait until I get off of them though, and do something permanent about the situation. Hooray for no kids and tons of sex always!!!
posted by agregoli at 1:18 PM on May 11, 2006


There are effective ways to regulate family size without resorting to contraception.
posted by peeping_Thomist 15 minutes ago


This is the real world. Try telling the undeveloped countries with a boom in the younger population that because a few fat, wealthy, spoiled American Christians think condoms are a perversion that they should just stop fucking. When you have a realistic alternative that acknowledges that people will fuck no matter how often you tell them not to, and no matter what threats you make, then maybe I'll give half a shit about what you have to say.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:22 PM on May 11, 2006


instead through a rational dialogue the community became aware of the ways in which contraception undermines human flourishing and decided to take appropriate steps to guard against it.

I find it hard to concieve of a society where everyone would come to that conclusion through discussion, at least one of more than a few hundred people at best.

Personally, I think contraception contributes to human flourishing by allowing us to control our fertility. This creates opportunities for personal development that would otherwise be unavailable due to the necessity of child rearing. It also allows us to be more responsible in choosing when and with whom to create a new life, without having to sacrifice sexuality.

From your posts, I doubt you would be swayed by arguments along this line. I have found your position above to be equally unconvincing.

If we both agree that a free society is what we want, isn't a little "live and let live" appropriate? That is best served by allowing people the opportunity to make "moral" decisions themsleves, and would mean that things like contraception should remain legally available for those who reach different conclusions than you.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:24 PM on May 11, 2006


Atta girl, agregoli!! Take one for the team!!!
Apparently, according to peeping_Thomist's philosophy, God made it feel so good just so He could punish us for doing it.
Like any good parent would, of course.
If by "good" you mean "psycho nutjob."
posted by Floydd at 1:24 PM on May 11, 2006


It actually disturbs me more than pt claims to have no religious basis for his confused position - it means he came up with it all on his lonesome.
posted by agregoli at 1:30 PM on May 11, 2006


There are effective ways to regulate family size without resorting to contraception

You could kill your grandparents rather than let them waste valuable resources in the nursing home. You might also consider drowning your kids in a bucket if they don't maintain a steady 4.0 GPA. Alternatively I could go and kill some people at random to ensure that their families don't grow too large. I hear those Mexicans breed like rabbits. Wouldn't want them to outbreed the white-people-who-believe-in-one-particular-version-of-a-supreme-being*.

*'cos that's basically what the biblical reason is to be fruitful and multiply is about. Outbreed the "others", ensure your children's mindspace is infected with one particular meme-set. It's like God needs to have supporters to ensure his existence. Just for that I am worshipping Odin because he needs some more support in this day and age.
posted by longbaugh at 1:30 PM on May 11, 2006


It actually disturbs me more than pt claims to have no religious basis for his confused position -
Actually, agregoli, peeper's being disingenuous in this thread. (surprise)
He's an admitted Roman Catholic, who also seems to think "The Internet is great if you want porn..."
posted by Floydd at 1:45 PM on May 11, 2006


Oh ok. So he's a liar too. How can you have a conversation with someone that constantly whines that civil discourse is not possible with us because we called names, yet outright lies about the basis for his beliefs?
posted by agregoli at 1:49 PM on May 11, 2006


Aha! I get it! Our batshitinsane friend here is recommending that we practice bad mothering!

Don't use contraceptives, kids: eat your young instead!

Honestly, how do people ever develop such looney damned ideas? I mean, it must take some sort of special effort to be so clueless. Is it a deliberate act, or accidental? Nature or nurture? Idiocy or insanity? And is it curable, or is PT doomed for the remainder of his life?

Any which way you slice it, it is a sad and unfortunate thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:50 PM on May 11, 2006


Ah, now I get it, the perfect society in which contraception could reasonably be banned would be one in which everyone is Mel Gibson. And Mel Gibson self-reproduced by parthenogenesis. So that perfect society would be full of little and big Mel Gibson clones. And the only films in the theatres would be Braveheart and What Women Want.

Come on admit it, human flourishing never sounded so good!
posted by funambulist at 2:02 PM on May 11, 2006


Floydd: God made it feel so good just so He could punish us for doing it.

Do you realize you just said that having children is a punishment? Everyone was outraged when the FPP said that contraception is anti-child, and here you are, confirming it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:03 PM on May 11, 2006


agregoli: So he's a liar too.

More name-calling.

I never claimed to have no religious basis for my beliefs about contraception. I said that religious beliefs should not be a basis for government policy. Which I assume you agree with.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:06 PM on May 11, 2006


...
posted by NationalKato at 2:06 PM on May 11, 2006


Nice try, peepers, but oh so wrong.
Actually, no. Not even a nice try.
With the wonderful God-given gift of contraception we rational people can separate the act of love from the act of childbearing.
posted by Floydd at 2:07 PM on May 11, 2006


Do you realize you just said that having children is a punishment?

Uh, I think he meant that God supposedly views non-procreative sex as a sin in certain backward interpretations of christianity, the punishment being hell, not children.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:07 PM on May 11, 2006


Do you realize you just said that having children is a punishment?

That's not what he was talking about, retard.

You can't even discuss this any more. You just latch onto one thing and misinterpret it until you've derailed the whole fucking thread again.

Would you care to tell us your brilliant methods of population control without contraceptives? Maybe you could explain how contraceptives are "perverse." You could tell us how contraception prevents humans from flourishing.

Or instead, you could take someone else's sentence out of context and run with it like the torchbearer at the Special Olympics.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:07 PM on May 11, 2006


Honestly, how do people ever develop such looney damned ideas? I mean, it must take some sort of special effort to be so clueless. Is it a deliberate act, or accidental? Nature or nurture? Idiocy or insanity? And is it curable, or is PT doomed for the remainder of his life?
  1. Not every crayon is the brightest one in the box.
  2. Nobody develops views like this by accident. They have to want to believe it.
  3. Nature doesen't indoctrinate, nurture doesn't know much else.
  4. Can't it be a bit of both?
  5. Only if the victim wants to be cured. Sort of like addiction to brain-rotting drugs
posted by mystyk at 2:09 PM on May 11, 2006


agregoli: Hooray for no kids and tons of sex always!!!

Because maybe we can all pretend that we'll never get old and unattractive and then die! Or maybe we can re-engineer human nature so that we don't have to get old and unattractive and die after all! Hooray for no kids and tons of sex always!!! Awesome plan!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:14 PM on May 11, 2006


I said that religious beliefs should not be a basis for government policy.

And yet you advocate for changes in government policy about contraception availability based on nothing more than *gasp* your religious beliefs!

Get over it. You want the government to stop allowing something because you consider that thing immoral, but refuse to acknowledge the fundamental religious nature of that view of what's immoral. Then you also claim that government should not be influenced by religion.

The only way to do that is to allow a separate standard for your morailty. A double standard. Hypicritical.
posted by mystyk at 2:17 PM on May 11, 2006


Correction: hypocritical.
posted by mystyk at 2:18 PM on May 11, 2006


More name-calling.

Yep. When the shoe fits...You know you're being disingeneous when you say you never claimed to have no religious basis for your beliefs. You have dodged all sorts of questions in this thread, whined about "proper discourse" instead of explaining your positions, and framed the debate in hysterical rhetoric like "perversions" and "holding guns to your head." Please explain why we should respect you or your beliefs or take them seriously considering how you've behaved.

Metafilter might be a little harsh sometimes, but it's a fair place. I've seen tons of respect given to people with logical arguments who will engage with others instead of repeating odd points. Your arguments simply don't make sense, and you seem bent on not explaining them or being honest about the basis of your beliefs, although you've been asked about it several times.
posted by agregoli at 2:19 PM on May 11, 2006


Most couples who use contraception eventually have children, Thomist. The contraception is for the times when they're young or poor or emotionally immature or all three. The human race is in no danger of extinction from the availablity of contraceptives, and we do children a disservice by having them when we're not prepared for the cost and commitment.

Now, can you answer the question I posed to you?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:20 PM on May 11, 2006


agregoli: Hooray for no kids and tons of sex always!!!

Because maybe we can all pretend that we'll never get old and unattractive and then die! Or maybe we can re-engineer human nature so that we don't have to get old and unattractive and die after all! Hooray for no kids and tons of sex always!!! Awesome plan!


Thanks, it IS an awesome plan. =) I love my life. I never said I pretended that death isn't inevitible. I've faced that just fine. I don't care that I'll get old and unattractive. I don't mind that I'll die. We all die.

How will kids prevent me from dying? Or from becoming old and unattractive?

Oh, that's right, they won't. So pardon me if I'm going to have fun while I'm here.

It really bugs you that I won't have kids and will have all the sex I want, doesn't it?
posted by agregoli at 2:21 PM on May 11, 2006


I can't believe I'm getting sucked into this.
I'm leaving to have some fun non-procreative sex and a margarita.
(on preview) What, you think old folks don't enjoy a full and vigorous sex life, peepie?? You ARE ignorant!
posted by Floydd at 2:21 PM on May 11, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: Would you care to tell us your brilliant methods of population control without contraceptives?

Sure. Natural Family Planning is very effective, and promotes mutual respect between spouses. If you don't want to have a child, you make it a point not to have sex during the time when the wife is likely to be fertile. There are several methods of monitoring fertility, and many of them are more effect than contraceptives. Precious little research money has been directed into research on NFP, but there's been enough to establish its effectiveness. For an objective discussion (with several conclusions with which I do not agree), see
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/rt21/race/HARTMANNCh14.html
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:24 PM on May 11, 2006


Sure. Natural Family Planning is very effective, and promotes mutual respect between spouses.

Do you think there can't be mutual respect between spouses when there is contraception involved? Because that's ludicrous.

We've got all the mutual respect we need.
posted by agregoli at 2:26 PM on May 11, 2006


At this point I think I'm pretty much reduced to pity for peeping_Thomist. At first I was annoyed, then disgusted, then a little frustrated.

But now it's just pity: it surely must be a living hell to have the beliefs he has, particularly in this modern world. And more's the shame that it's all for naught.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:28 PM on May 11, 2006


Floydd, yes, many old people do enjoy full and vigorous sex lives. (I'm becoming one of them myself.) But that wasn't my point. agregoli's response did a good job of highlighting what I was getting at. She asks, "how will kids prevent me from dying?" Amazing.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:29 PM on May 11, 2006


What's amazing about it?

Kids won't prevent death. You acted like they would with your sarcastic response to my post. May I ask what on earth you meant instead then?
posted by agregoli at 2:30 PM on May 11, 2006


Sure. Natural Family Planning is very effective, and promotes mutual respect between spouses.

There's no difference between that and a condom. With a condom, the sperm are contained in the reservoir tip, and you throw it out. With NFP, the sperm wind up in either your bedsheets or pajamas after a week without ejaculation. So why not use condoms instead?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:36 PM on May 11, 2006


Thomist -

"Given the current political order, yes. But in itself having a state deny people access to birth control Bibles can be a perfectly fine thing.

Get the picture?
posted by rougy at 2:36 PM on May 11, 2006


Oh, this I can't resist: "If you don't want to have a child, you make it a point not to have sex during the time when the wife is likely to be fertile."

That "likely" bit is where the whole scheme falls apart around your ankles, buddy.

I prefer my solution: got knackered and now there's absolutely no chance I'll ever procreate. And thank small miracles (and the doctor's knife) for that: another one of me would be a terrible thing for this world.

Colour me as another who doesn't understand what you mean by "agregoli's response did a good job of highlighting what I was getting at." I can not make sense of that any which way I try to think about it.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:38 PM on May 11, 2006


Hey, seeing as we had an "inappropriate questions" meme going on earlier in this thread, I gotta ask this:

Peeping_Thomist, does your wife have orgasms?
posted by five fresh fish at 2:40 PM on May 11, 2006


"I said that religious beliefs should not be a basis for government policy."

peeping, I'd just like to point out that since your definition of "perversion" is religiously-founded, that legislating or enforcing it is beyond the purview of a non-religious democratic state - and from your statement, you agree with me.

Since those things you consider to be "drawbacks" of this "perversion" are not clearly quantifiable, they cannot be acted on or restricted by a non-religious democratic state.

However, the benefits to the state, that is to the entire citizen population, of educating people about contraception and sex are indeed quantifiable, and have been quantified in clear and unambiguous terms - and this is something the state, for the good of all the people, can, should, and IMO must act upon.

I'd say you should remove the beam from your own eye before you go after the motes in ours. Also, since you seem willing to cast that stone, you must be free of sin, eh?

That said, I'm all for allowing religious nuts who want to home-school to get a break on their local property taxes, which pay for most of public schooling, and a bit on their Federal taxes, proportionate to how much money the Fed puts into public education. That seems fair to me.

Then again, I'm also for fundies being divested of all benefits of modern science, since they refuse to acknowledge the sciences of biology, chemistry, and geology...

----------
Last night my girlfriend and I once again avoided creating an unwanted child (well, 99.5% sure of that) by using a condom... and boy, did it feel gooooooooood. Yeahhhh. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 2:42 PM on May 11, 2006


DAD:
Wait! I've got something to tell the whole family.
MUM:
Oh, quick. Go and get the others in, Gordon.
CHILDREN:
What could it be? Shhh...
DAD:
The mill's closed! There's no more work. We're destitute.
CHILDREN:
[talking]
DAD:
Come in, my little loves. I've got no option but to sell you all for scientific experiments.
CHILDREN:
[whining]
DAD:
No, no. That's the way it is, my loves. Blame the Catholic church for not letting me wear one of those little rubber things. Oh, they've done some wonderful things in their time. They preserved the might and majesty, the mystery of the Church of Rome, and the sanctity of the sacraments, the indivisible oneness of the Trinity, but if they'd let me wear one of those little rubber things on the end of my cock, we wouldn't be in the mess we are now.
BOY:
Couldn't Mummy have worn some sort of pessary?
DAD:
Not if we're going to remain members of the fastest growing religion in the world, my boy.
MUM:
Ehhh, he's right.
DAD:
You see, we believe--
[piano music]
Well, let me put it like this. [singing]
There are Jews in the world.
There are Buddhists.
There are Hindus and Mormons, and then
There are those that follow Mohammed, but
I've never been one of them.

[music]
I'm a Roman Catholic,
And have been since before I was born,
And the one thing they say about Catholics is:
They'll take you as soon as you're warm.

You don't have to be a six-footer.
You don't have to have a great brain.
You don't have to have any clothes on. You're
A Catholic the moment Dad came,

Because

Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

CHILDREN: [singing]
Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

GIRL: [singing]
Let the heathen spill theirs
On the dusty ground.
God shall make them pay for
Each sperm that can't be found.

CHILDREN: [singing]
Every sperm is wanted.
Every sperm is good.
Every sperm is needed
In your neighbourhood.

MUM: [singing]
Hindu, Taoist, Mormon,
Spill theirs just anywhere,
But God loves those who treat their
Semen with more care.

MEN: [singing]
Every sperm is sacred.
[clunk]
Every sperm is great.
WOMEN: [singing]
If a sperm is wasted,...
CHILDREN: [singing]
...God gets quite irate.

PRIEST: [singing]
Every sperm is sacred.
BRIDE and GROOM: [singing]
Every sperm is good.
NANNIES: [singing]
Every sperm is needed...
CARDINALS: [singing]
...In your neighbourhood!

CHILDREN: [singing]
Every sperm is useful.
Every sperm is fine.
FUNERAL CORTEGE: [singing]
God needs everybody's.
MOURNER #1:
Mine!
MOURNER #2:
And mine!
CORPSE:
And mine!

NUN: [singing]
Let the Pagan spill theirs
O'er mountain, hill, and plain.
HOLY STATUES: [singing]
God shall strike them down for
Each sperm that's spilt in vain.

EVERYONE: [singing]
Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is good.
Every sperm is needed
In your neighbourhood.

Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite iraaaaate!

DAD:
So, you see my problem, little ones: I can't keep you all here any longer.
GIRL:
Speak up!
DAD:
I can't keep you all here any longer! God has blessed us so much, I can't afford to feed you anymore.
NIGEL:
Couldn't you have your balls cut off?
DAD:
Hohh, it's not as simple as that, Nigel. God knows all! He'd see through such a cheap trick. What we do to ourselves, we do to Him.
GIRL:
You could have had them pulled off in an accident.
CHILDREN:
[talking]
DAD:
No. No, children. I know you're trying to help, but, believe me,...
CHILDREN:
Ohh...
DAD:
...me mind's made up. I've given this long and careful thought, and it has to be medical experiments for the lot of you.
CHILDREN:
Ohh. Oh. Oh...

CHILDREN: [singing mournfully]
Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,...
MR. HARRY BLACKITT:
Look at them, bloody Catholics, filling the bloody world up with bloody people they can't afford to bloody feed.
MRS. BLACKITT:
What are we dear?
MR. BLACKITT:
Protestant, and fiercely proud of it.
MRS. BLACKITT:
Hmm. Well, why do they have so many children?
MR. BLACKITT:
Because... every time they have sexual intercourse, they have to have a baby.
MRS. BLACKITT:
But it's the same with us, Harry.
MR. BLACKITT:
What do you mean?
MRS. BLACKITT:
Well, I mean, we've got two children, and we've had sexual intercourse twice.
MR. BLACKITT:
That's not the point. We could have it any time we wanted.
MRS. BLACKITT:
Really?
MR. BLACKITT:
Oh, yes, and, what's more, because we don't believe in all that Papist claptrap, we can take precautions.
MRS. BLACKITT:
What, you mean... lock the door?
MR. BLACKITT:
No, no. I mean, because we are members of the Protestant Reformed Church, which successfully challenged the autocratic power of the Papacy in the mid-sixteenth century, we can wear little rubber devices to prevent issue.
MRS. BLACKITT:
What d'you mean?
MR. BLACKITT:
I could, if I wanted, have sexual intercourse with you,...
MRS. BLACKITT:
Oh, yes, Harry.
MR. BLACKITT:
...and, by wearing a rubber sheath over my old feller, I could insure... that, when I came off, you would not be impregnated.
MRS. BLACKITT:
Ooh!
MR. BLACKITT:
That's what being a Protestant's all about. That's why it's the church for me. That's why it's the church for anyone who respects the individual and the individual's right to decide for him or herself. When Martin Luther nailed his protest up to the church door in fifteen-seventeen, he may not have realised the full significance of what he was doing, but four hundred years later, thanks to him, my dear, I can wear whatever I want on my John Thomas,... [sniff] ...and, Protestantism doesn't stop at the simple condom! Oh, no! I can wear French Ticklers if I want.
MRS. BLACKITT:
You what?
MR. BLACKITT:
French Ticklers. Black Mambos. Crocodile Ribs. Sheaths that are designed not only to protect, but also to enhance the stimulation of sexual congress.
MRS. BLACKITT:
Have you got one?
MR. BLACKITT:
Have I got one? Uh, well, no, but I can go down the road any time I want and walk into Harry's and hold my head up high and say in a loud, steady voice, 'Harry, I want you to sell me a condom. In fact, today, I think I'll have a French Tickler, for I am a Protestant.'
MRS. BLACKITT:
Well, why don't you?
MR. BLACKITT:
But they-- Well, they cannot, 'cause their church never made the great leap out of the Middle Ages and the domination of alien episcopal supremacy.
NARRATOR #1:
But, despite the attempts of Protestants to promote the idea of sex for pleasure, children continued to multiply everywhere.

posted by caddis at 2:51 PM on May 11, 2006


But if you want to point a gun at me and make me pay for your perversions, or to pay people to teach your children how to indulge in your perversions...

So I guess that means you won't be putting an envelope in the basket at Sunday mass ever again, huh? According to my biology professor back in college, the catholic school system does a far better job of providing comprehensive sex ed to it's students than public school does. My catholic high school gave us very detailed information on birth control methods, always followed by "and the church oppposes the use of this method for the following reasons...". That in combination with the NFP training ensured that didn't get pregnant until I wanted to. Thank you, catholic school system!
posted by echolalia67 at 2:53 PM on May 11, 2006


fresh_fish_five: it's not your business, but yes. Did you know that married people have better (and more) sex than unmarried people? Sadly, according to studies, evangelical married women have it best of all, but Catholic women do OK as well, and the answer to your question is yes.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:54 PM on May 11, 2006


Floydd: we rational people can separate the act of love from the act of childbearing.

Unless it works out like it did for mystyk.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:55 PM on May 11, 2006


zoogleplex: since your definition of "perversion" is religiously-founded, that legislating or enforcing it is beyond the purview of a non-religious democratic state

Unless there's a secular version of that concept. Which there is.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:57 PM on May 11, 2006


I swear I never understood the kind of religious people who would oppose contraception but think "natural" methods are fine. First, what's so "natural" about it? It's still a conscious human choice not to have children! It's only much less effective and more limiting than condoms or pills etc. What's the big difference that makes one kind of family planning Wholesome and Respectful and the others a Perversion? The higher risk and restriction? Does it all boil down to that kind of sadomasochism once again?
posted by funambulist at 2:57 PM on May 11, 2006


Did you know that married people have better (and more) sex than unmarried people? Sadly, according to studies, evangelical married women have it best of all, but Catholic women do OK as well, and the answer to your question is yes.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:54 PM PST on May 11


Local Lutheran Minister Loves To Fuck His Wife

November 19, 1997

NASHUA, NH—Pastor Bob Snowdon, of Holy Christ Almighty Lutheran Church in Nashua, is a man of deep religious and moral convictions. He derives great satisfaction from his various parish duties—reciting the liturgy, giving holy communion, and performing the sacrament of baptism. But nothing delights him quite like his favorite activity of all: fucking Emily Snowdon, his holy-wedded wife of 19 years.

"The Holy Bible sanctifies the bond between a man and a woman in matrimony as a sacred union," Snowdon said. "And there is nothing so smiled upon by our Lord than the love and caring that is shared when a man fucks his lawfully wedded bride. Just thinking about it makes me want to zip home for a few minutes and fuck Emily right now."

According to the 53-year-old "Pastor Bob," even though he typically fucks his wife twice each morning, he still very much looks forward to fucking her again when he gets home.

"After a long, hard day of worshiping in the house of our Lord, tending to the emotional needs of my parishioners, and visiting the sick and elderly so that they too might know in their hearts the light of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," Snowdon said, "there is nothing in this world I enjoy more than coming home and fucking the red out of my wife's hair. I love to give it to her any way she wants it, as hard as she can take it. My favorite is when she climbs on top and jerks her hips up and down on me as she fucks."

What's more, it seems that Emily enjoys the fucking almost as much as her husband. "I've got to admit it," she said, "I love to get fucked."

Emily stressed, however, that the sort of wild fucking in which she and her husband regularly partake is only acceptable when performed within the confines of a church-sanctioned marriage. "I am saddened, deeply saddened, when I hear of the young girls of today, engaging in sexual activities such as heavy petting or necking before they are wedlock-bound," she said. "It is so sad to see the beauty and purity of the act of fucking despoiled by this sort of premarital impropriety. If only these young girls would wait until they have taken the marriage vows and then, and only then, start fucking like there was no tomorrow."

According to Snowdon, some of his favorite places to fuck his wife include the pantry, shower, woodshed, basement laundry-room area, living-room sofa, and even, he added with a sly wink, the bedroom. "All of our children are grown now and have families of their own, God bless them," he said, "so we can pretty much fuck anywhere we please in the whole darn house."

So enamored is he of his wife-fucking hobby, Snowdon said he would recommend fucking to just about anyone. "So long as the fucking is done within the sacred bond of matrimony, I say, 'Fuck away.'" Snowdon said. "But if you're not married, please, whatever you do, don't fuck anybody. An eternity of sin and punishment await those who fuck without church sanction."

Though fucking has been a lifelong interest for Snowdon, he stressed that he had faithfully abstained from sex and resisted the intense urge to fuck women until his bond with Emily was formally cemented with marital vows before the eyes of God 19 years ago.

"Naturally, before my marriage, I wanted to fuck other women: Sally Lindemier, my senior-year prom date; Susan Helgstrom, the receptionist at my parents' church; even Sheila Bernhauser, my old Bible-study teacher. I would have gladly fucked any one of those lovely, God-fearing women. Yet I knew that my fuck-urges were impure and sinful, and that it was my duty as a Christian to resist them until the day of my wedding to my beloved Emily."

"But once I was married, my lust became sanctified in my heart and in the eyes of the Lord," he said. "And, from that day forth, I began fucking the holy heck out of my wife whenever and wherever I could, as often as possible. It is a practice I continue to this day."

"Emily is a good, kind, Christian woman," Snowdon added. "But let there be no mistake: She is also one furious fuck-mama, as well."

Pastor Bob and his wife both stressed that, of course, abortion is a terrible sin, as is homosexuality, group sex, anal sex, oral sex, phone sex, pornography, and all forms of contraception.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:02 PM on May 11, 2006


"Unless there's a secular version of that concept. Which there is."

Here is the contents of the dictionary.com lookup page for the word "perversion:"
per·ver·sion Audio pronunciation of "perversion" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (pr-vûrzhn, -shn)
n.

1.
1. The act of perverting.
2. The state of being perverted.
2. A sexual practice or act considered abnormal or deviant.

per·versive (-sv, -zv) adj.

[Download Now or Buy the Book]
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

per·ver·sion (pr-vûrzhn, -shn)
n.

A practice or act, especially one that is sexual in nature, considered abnormal or deviant.


Source: The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Main Entry: per·ver·sion
Pronunciation: p&r-'v&r-zh&n, -sh&n
Function: noun
1 : the action of perverting or the condition of being perverted
2 : an aberrant sexual practice especially when habitual and preferred to normal coitus

Source: Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

perversion

n 1: a curve that reverses the direction of something; "the tendrils of the plant exhibited perversion"; "perversion also shows up in kinky telephone cords" 2: an aberrant sexual practice that is preferred to normal intercourse [syn: sexual perversion] 3: the action of perverting something (turning it to a wrong use); "it was a perversion of justice"
You can see, I'm sure, that any definition of "perversion" then depends on what one's definitions of "abnormal" and "deviant" are.

I'll just go after "abnormal" here:
ab·nor·mal Audio pronunciation of "abnormal" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (b-nôrml)
adj.

Not typical, usual, or regular; not normal; deviant.


[Alteration (influenced by ab-1), of obsolete anormal from Medieval Latin anormlis, blend of Late Latin abnormis(Latin ab-, away from; see ab-1 + Latin norma, rule; see gn- in Indo-European Roots), and anmalus; see anomalous.]ab·normal·ly adv.

[Download Now or Buy the Book]
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: 1ab·nor·mal
Pronunciation: (')ab-'nor-m&l
Function: adjective
1 : deviating from the normal or average; especially : departing from the usual or accepted standards of social behavior
2 : characterized by mental retardation or disorder —ab·nor·mal·ly /-m&-lE/ adverb

Source: Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Main Entry: 2abnormal
Function: noun
: an abnormal person

Source: Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

abnormal

adj 1: not normal; not typical or usual or regular or conforming to a norm; "abnormal powers of concentration"; "abnormal amounts of rain"; "abnormal circumstances"; "an abnormal interest in food" [ant: normal] 2: departing from the normal in e.g. intelligence and development; "they were heartbroken when they learned their child was abnormal"; "an abnormal personality" [ant: normal] 3: much greater than the normal; "abnormal profits"; "abnormal ambition"
It seems the operative definition of "abnormal" is "departing from the usual or average."

So, since it's abundantly clear that having sex is in fact "normal," for humans at any age past puberty, then obviously NOT having sex is abnormal, and therefore a perversion.

Also, since the desire to not have a child right now is also "normal," since most people would like to be in a proper place in life (as they define it) before they have children, then it follows that a desire to have a child immediately, no matter what the circumstances, is abnormal and a perversion.

Therefore following this line of thought, the use of contraceptives can be called not only "normal," but darn prudent as well.

However, I'm just logic-chopping (for fun and profit).

The reality is that there can be no objective "secular" definition of "perversion," because there has to be a "norm" to judge it against - and everyone's got a different idea about what that "norm" is.

Some people think oral sex is perversion; they're in a small minority. Some people thing anal sex is perversion; that minority is larger, but still pretty small. Some people think any sex outside of marriage is perversion; another minority. And some people think teaching children socially responsible sex practices is a perversion! Imagine that!

And if you stick to rigid and quantifiable definitions of these words, based on the study of how humans actually behave, then you have to admit that since most humans have sex quite a lot, that it's normal and not perverted at all.

Your OPINION of what's perverted - even if it's shared by lots of people you know - cannot be applied to everyone.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:22 PM on May 11, 2006


I've always thought of condoms less like birth control and more like sperm wranglers.
posted by 235w103 at 4:55 PM on May 11, 2006


PT: Cool. My partner and I also have great sex.

The bottom line for me is simply this: whatever it takes for someone to have as good a time as I do, so long as it involves consensual, informed adults, is a-ok with me. I have experienced nothing finer than orgasmic sex, and I wish everyone to have plenty of it.

And that, at least, seems to be one thing we can agree on: sex is damn fine stuff, to be wholly enjoyed in a responsible manner.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:22 PM on May 11, 2006


"according to studies"

Citations please. You can argue semantics all day but if you want to claim scientific support for your views let's have a link right here, right now.
posted by 2sheets at 5:28 PM on May 11, 2006


Something occured to me: Peeps says that teaching kids how to use rubbers is to teach them how to "defile" their bodies. Assuming most people are gonna have sex anyway, how is it that a means to *not* get cooties is defilement, but letting them get cooties is not defilement? Whattafuck?
posted by notsnot at 5:35 PM on May 11, 2006


These folks like to bask in the comforting but entirely fictional idea that if people aren't given any information about sex outside the "moral" instruction provided by their religion, they won't actually have any sex other than that which is condoned by their religion.

Which is a complete fantasy. There are too many people on Earth now, too many sources of information. There's no way to eliminate the knowledge.

They don't even remember their own Bibles; Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, not just some random apple. Once knowledge is known, even God can't take it away from someone... otherwise he could have erased Adam and Eve's memories and put them back in the Garden to be his loyal little sheep.

What they think they want is impossible, but they're going to try to make it happen anyway, the stubborn arrogant moralistic hypocrites.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:17 PM on May 11, 2006


Those dirty lawmakers forcing a gun to my head to make me pay to teach perversions to children!

Like that dude on The Sopranos.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:18 PM on May 11, 2006


zoogleplex: These folks like to bask in the comforting but entirely fictional idea that if people aren't given any information about sex outside the "moral" instruction provided by their religion, they won't actually have any sex other than that which is condoned by their religion.

What an idiotic claim! I've never known anyone who believed that. People are free. There's probably never been a generation born that didn't have some significant incidence of premarital sex.

I guess it's just easier to pretend that people who disagree with you are idiots.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:48 PM on May 11, 2006


Still looking for those studies. Over 60 posts in 2 days on this subject - now are you going to back up your claims?
posted by 2sheets at 9:11 PM on May 11, 2006


funambulist: What's the big difference that makes one kind of family planning Wholesome and Respectful and the others a Perversion?

Here's a longish passage from http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0002.html that addresses your question:

Now, a lot of people say, “What's the difference?” You have two couples who don't want to have a baby and want to have sex and they're doing the same thing. They're trying to have sex without trying to have babies or without wanting to have babies. They're doing the same thing. And that's a very common confusion and a very common complaint, and I'm going to try and help you think about it.

The first thing I want to say to such couples, such people, is, “Well, if contraception and Natural Family Planning are the same, why not just use Natural Family Planning?” And you know what they say, “But that would be completely different. I'd have to change everything.” I say, “Wait a second. You just told me there's no difference and now you tell me it'd be completely different.” But, of course, what they mean is no moral difference, but they recognize that there'd be an enormous lifestyle difference. I say, “But wait a second. If there's an enormous lifestyle difference, then that may be a hint that there's some kind of a moral difference as well.” At first, I try to point out to them this simple principle in ethics that the ends do not justify the means. Stated another way: “You must have good means to good ends. Not only your goal must be good, but also the way you get there must be good.” So consider a couple who doesn't want a child for probably a very good reason. A couple who is contracepting. Another couple using Natural Family Planning. Consider two men, or individuals, who both want to support their family. One robs a bank and one gets a job. They're both doing the same thing — they're both supporting their family, but they've chosen very different means.

I've tried to indicate why I think contraception is wrong. It says no to God in His creative act. It says fertility is a bad condition as opposed to a wonderful condition. It puts a wedge between the giving between a husband and wife. And it has dreadful consequences for society. I want to claim that Natural Family Planning is not open to those same kinds of objections. It does not do those same things.

Most couples are frightened about using Natural Family Planning, and frightened is the right word. They are frightened of using Natural Family Planning and largely for two reasons. One is they think it doesn't work. But they are wrong. In an article in the British Medical Journal, September 18th, 1993, a doctor reviews the evidence on Natural Family Planning and says it's more effective than the most effective contraceptive. More effective! He cites studies from, of all places, Calcutta. And you know who it is who is teaching Natural Family Planning in Calcutta? A diminutive Catholic nun. The author has found out that most of those whom she teaches are Muslims and Hindus. Natural family planning has what is called, a virtual zero pregnancy rate, .004 pregnancy rate.

Still, such information doesn't seem to convince people. Many confuse NFP with the old 'rhythm method', which was some 27% ineffective. There is a huge difference between the 'rhythm method' and the modern methods of Natural Family Planning. I will give a review course on them in a minute.

The second reason that couples are afraid is the abstinence that is required. They think the abstinence will just be too hard. It's mostly the women who are afraid of it and they're afraid of it because of the males. They think, “My husband will get too irritable, he'll get too grumpy. He'll be removed and distant and won't be affectionate and will stay away from me during that time. And, how will we make up our fights? And, how will we talk? And I'm nervous about what's going to happen.” Men think they will feel greatly deprived. “Who can go that long; who can go seven to twelve days. It's not right. That's not what I got married for.” These fears are most common among those who have contracepted before marriage. Those who have used contraception before marriage and used contraception within marriage are very frightened of the abstinence because sex has become key to their relationship. They think that when you take the sex out of a relationship, where's the love going to be? Where's the intimacy going to be?

Couples who've abstained before marriage, have little or no problem with Natural Family Planning. Little or no problem. In fact, they think that abstinence is a way of expressing love. It's not this huge deprivation. The reason that they abstained before marriage was not because they weren't attracted to each other, not because the hormones weren't raging, but because they loved each other. They said, “I'm not going to have sex with you before marriage because I love you. I don't want to hurt you. I don't want to have a stronger commitment than I've made here. I don't want to put us in danger of having a baby when we haven't really prepared for that baby. Marriage is preparation for those bonds and marriage is preparation for that baby. And I love you and I can wait. That's how much I love you.” Within marriage, abstinence has that same aspect. “It's not a good idea for us to have a child right now. We can abstain. We did it before. We know how to show our affection at this time. We know how to be loving to each other at this time because we've done it before.” And they can do it.

Women who use Natural Family Planning have an amazing sense of self-respect and well-being. They think that their fertility is revered by their husbands and they think that they've got themselves particularly good husbands. “I've got my husband who's particularly good. He's a wonderful man. He's got high moral standards. He doesn't treat me like a sex object. I can trust him. He likes me even when we're not having sex together. He's a great guy. I got myself a good one.” And males have a great reverence for their wives, for their fertility. They don't want to damage her body. The don't want her to take all these pills and use these devices. They say, “No. I love her. I wouldn't put her through those risks. And this willingness to have a baby for me, that's a wonderful thing. What a woman puts herself through! And I am going to respect that.” So, there is this deep bond between the two of them.

And NFP doesn't say no to God. You see, NFP respects a woman's fertility, has no bad social consequences (in fact wonderful ones — there's almost a non-existent divorce rate among couples using Natural Family Planning) and NFP doesn't say no to God because God has said, “I want to be there at the fertile time. I made the fertile time for bringing forth new human life. If you engage in the sexual act, I want My option of making new human life. But I gave you a half of a month, three quarters of a month, where you're infertile and if you want to pursue the bonding power of the sexual act without babies, do it then. I'm asleep. I'm out of town. I don't expect to be invited at that time. I'm not around. You can't even make Me come. I won't come. I can't. I made your body in a certain way.” There's no saying no to God. NFP couples respect the fertile period as if they're on sacred ground. You don't walk there unless you're prepared for the consequences.

People say Natural Family Planning is like dieting. We have this phenomenon now of bulimia. People eat and they throw up. That's a bit like contraception. You want the pleasure but you don't want the consequences. You engage in the act and you violate the act. Whereas Natural Family Planning is a lot like dieting but a lot better. When you diet, you can't eat the chocolate cake; you have carrots and celery. Sex during the infertile time apparently is a lot better than carrots and celery. The options are better. There's a pinch in it. It's difficult, but it's not impossible and it does great things for marriage.

Couples will tell you, they've always told me this, you read this in all the NFP literature: Those who use Natural Family Planning communicate better with each other. I've always wondered what that meant. Does it mean that people are either having sex or talking, but not both and because they're not having sex during the fertile time does that mean they're talking more? But there's something to that. I read somewhere that couples, I'm not married and, of course, I'm envious in many respects of marriage, especially for companionship, but you read something like people say there's twenty-seven minutes a week on the average that couples talk to each other. And I say, “Gosh, if that's all it is, it's not worth it.” Twenty-seven minutes!

But, anyway, these Natural Family Planning couples must use that twenty-seven minutes well. I've figured this out, what they're talking about. It goes something like this. They have this conversation once a month maybe twelve times a year. And it happens on that weekend when the mother-in-law takes the children or you have a nice little business trip and you're looking forward to this nice weekend together. A little quiet lunch, maybe some shopping, a movie, a romantic dinner, and a nice evening of relaxed lovemaking with no children, no stress, just a nice night. And the woman gets up in the morning and says, “Darling, I'm afraid I've entered the fertile phase.” So, there's this deflation, this disappointment. The weekend is not going to be everything they thought it would be.

This little conversation ensues which usually starts with the question, “Why are we doing this? Why are we abstaining?” And sometimes that provokes a conversation about contraception and why or why not, but usually that's settled. And usually the question means, “Why did we decide it's not a good idea to have a baby? Why are we abstaining?” And the husband might say, “Well, you know, the reason we decided not to have a baby right now is you said you're too tired. You've got too many little ones or you've got a job now and you're really fatigued and you really can't imagine having another child. Are you still tired?” And she might say, “Well, no. As a matter of fact, I'm not too tired right now. The younger ones are a little bit older and you know I think I may be able to handle another baby. Let's take a risk. Let's really enjoy this day in the way we planned.” Or she might say, “Of course I'm still tired. You never help. You said you'd give the kids a bath; you don't give them a bath. You said you'd let me have Saturday afternoons free; I've never had a Saturday afternoon free. Of course I'm still tired.” And he might say, “I'll start bathing them tomorrow, dear.” Or she might say, “The reason we're not having a child right now is you said your financial burdens are too great. You can't imagine supporting the family we already have, let alone any more. Are you still financially burdened?” And he might say, “Well, no, I'm not. We refinanced the house and I was kind-of panicking. I'm getting a promotion. Things are OK. Let's take a risk.” Or he might say, “Of course I'm still financially burdened. Your friend, Jane, gets a fence around the house, you have to have a fence around the house. Your friend, Jane, gets a new kitchen, you need a new kitchen. Your friend, Jane, gets new dishes, you need new dishes.” And she might say, “I don't need those new dishes.” But the important thing is that they're having this conversation and it's a conversation that's focused around the most important things, which is why they're having babies and why they are not having babies. And how their life is going together and are they sharing the burdens or not.

Couples using contraception tell me they can go for a very long time without having that conversation. They can say, “We're not going to have babies for another three to five years and we'll talk about it then,” and that's when they talk about it. And they go apart. They go to their jobs and come back for dinner and go to their jobs and come back for dinner. And that's about all there is.

So I'm saying Natural Family Planning does not have bad social consequences. It's very difficult to use outside of marriage. It does not say no to God in His procreative act. It treasures a woman's fertility and it enhances, not alienates, the relationship between spouses. It is not subject to the same objections as contraception.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:13 PM on May 11, 2006


So tell us, PT, what exactly is it that makes contraceptive use so perverted?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 PM on May 11, 2006


Whoa. Nebbermind, I'll read that first.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 PM on May 11, 2006


2sheets, you sure didn't look very hard. It was in all the mainstream media. E.g. http://www.slate.com/id/56724/
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:18 PM on May 11, 2006


addressed as if it accurately represents what you wish to write yourself

One robs a bank and one gets a job. They're both doing the same thing — they're both supporting their family, but they've chosen very different means.

Blink.

That's a non-sequitor. It's simply absurd to interject that. One of the acts harms no one non-consenting, non-informed, or non-adult person. The other does. It's apples and small gemstones from the third moon of Jupiter. A complete non-sequitor.

I've tried to indicate why I think contraception is wrong. It says no to God in His creative act.

Except that you've absolutely failed to present an even halfway rational argument, instead favouring the use of irrelevent shock analogy in an attempt to distract us from critical thinking.

Fortunately, you reveal yourself in the second sentence: this is all about your interpretation of what you want your God to be. Or whatever. Any which way you care to present it, it has every bit as much validity to me, as my faith in pink unicorns have to you.

Honestly. You probably can not believe how absolutely irrelevent the very concept of a diety is to me, let alone the one you're so convinced is The Right One.

And then it rambles on and on. And, sure, I get the point: for those couples that choose it, NFP can be a wonderful way for a couple to engage in a form of bonding.

I'm happy for them.

My participation in this silly-assed pile-on can be terminated very quickly:

Simply state for the record that you have no desire to force your religious moral structure and practices upon me, and do not care to use your political vote to do accomplish the same goal, and I'll be perfectly happy to live and let live.

Honest to your god, I have absolutely no desire to force my morals and beliefs upon you. I only ask that as you use our community resources — including education, because all those public school pagan kids are the ones who are going to invent the stuff that our community requires as this world changes — you pay into the tax system, abide by public law, and try to be nice to others.

If we're in the same headspace regarding that, we're cool. We'll both have very good lives.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:31 PM on May 11, 2006


five_fresh_fish: I have absolutely no desire to force my morals and beliefs upon you. I only ask that as you use our community resources — including education, because all those public school pagan kids are the ones who are going to invent the stuff that our community requires as this world changes — you pay into the tax system, abide by public law, and try to be nice to others.

Sorry, dude. You're trying to use our community resources to promote evil.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:07 PM on May 11, 2006


Sorry, dude. You're trying to use our community resources to promote evil.

As I said before: you will not stop my wife from obtaining the health services she requires. You had best be willing to personally die for your cause, because I am ready to die for mine. I will not be forced to toe your religious line.

All else stems from that. If you won't die for your personal beliefs regarding abortion, you do not get to control our schools.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:14 PM on May 11, 2006


Actually, that's all a lot of huffery, given that I've been snipped and thus will never be in a position to have to fight you mano-a-mano for my rights.

But the spirit lives on.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 PM on May 11, 2006


And, yes, I do sincerely and honestly believe that people with your attitude toward private acts between consenting adults is the very definition of evil.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 PM on May 11, 2006


five_fresh_fish: I do sincerely and honestly believe that people with your attitude toward private acts between consenting adults is the very definition of evil.

Now that we've got that clear, the question is how people who regard each other as promoting evil policies (I don't think _you_ are evil, of course, because I assume your ignorance isn't your fault) manage to live together. And the answer isn't that the larger group imposes its will on the smaller group. Yet that's just what you are claiming is the right solution. Get the government out of the business of promoting perversion, and I won't complain about private parties engaging in such actions and corrupting their children. Spend all the private money you like promoting contraception. But that's not a tolerable solution for you: you require that the government take money from me at gunpoint to promote your (evil) agenda.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:33 PM on May 11, 2006


I said, I won't complain about private parties engaging in such actions and corrupting their children.

Sorry, of course I'll still complain about it. I just won't (as I don't in any case) try to use governmental power to stop people from privately engaging in contraceptive acts.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:37 PM on May 11, 2006


So wait, in all that patronizing verbiage from the Catholic Sex Ed manual, I missed the part that established why Natural Family Planning (TM) is dandy but other contraceptive methods are a sick perversion.

Unless it had something to do with the dieting/bulimia analogy. By which I take it that dieting is like giving something up for lent, but bulimia isn't a dangerous disease/eating disorder but some sort of willful, hedonistic self-indulgence?

In my experience, birth control requires quite a bit of self discipline and sacrifice--men seem to complain about the loss of sensitivity from the use of condoms, and for a girl who's a bit disorganized and forgetful, remembering to take a pill every day three weeks on and one off can be a supreme exercise in discipline. Or did I miss the part that explained how an STD barrier and a pill are a dangerous disease/sexual disorder?

I'm so confused now.
posted by cytherea at 10:52 PM on May 11, 2006


cytherea, there are two main points, both of which were implicit in the passage I quoted.

First, contraception involves a kind of dualism. Our fertility is seen as a merely biological reality that is made human by being brought under the rational control of a disembodied will. (Recall the person in this thread who said we rational people split apart love-making from reproduction; the splitting implies a faulty anthropology.) This is a perverted way of relating to one's own body, and to the bodies of others. It leads us to see bodies as mere objects to be used for whatever ends we happen to have.

Second, the ethical theory advocated by defenders of contraception is a form of consequentialism, which claims that any means are permissible so long as they lead to desirable outcomes. Consequentialist theories are seriously in error.

NFP differs from contraception on both these points. I quoted the longer passage instead of simply saying what I just said because I thought it was a more accessible statement of these two points.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:22 PM on May 11, 2006


PT, here's some food for thought that's been said before, but you avoided making the mental links like toxic waste:
  • Providing contraception is a recognized social good.
  • The government has a direct stake in providing social goods, for which financing comes from the citizen taxpayer.
  • Social goods are an amoral issue. That's amoral, as in not tied to morality either way.
  • Morality is subjective and religious.
  • You claim that blocking contraceptives is proper of the government because of your subjective religious claims to its supposed immorality.
  • You claim that the government should stay out of religious matters.
Are you seeing the disconnect yet? This is, quite literally, a textbook case of cognitive dissonance. You want the government out of all religious matters, except for the "special case" of your moral claims. You try to mask the claims from their inherent religious ties in order to slip them past.

The dissonance comes in because your choice of words suggests that you genuinely don't feel you have a "special case" but rather the only acceptable one. You view your subjective morality as objective when it is not, and try to use that view to push it on others. People correctly disagree with the universality of your personal moral views, and to continue pushing them is no less than religious persecution.

Oh, and keep in mind that this contraceptive availability that is being "held to your head like a gun" (now that is some impressive bullshit for you to spout roughly 50 times) is nothing more than the availability. The government does not use your tax dollars to hand out condoms. Non-profits fund those. Shut the fuck up about being made to pay for something that you're not.
posted by mystyk at 12:59 AM on May 12, 2006


I think I'm starting to get it. Well, I'm still not quite sure how your points derive from the text, but I'll take your word for it. But I find your points to be much more accessible.

As to your second point, I'm in complete agreement. The ends do not justify the means. I appreciated that argument from my Catholic high school and your words “You must have good means to good ends. Not only your goal must be good, but also the way you get there must be good” echo one of my favorite teachers with a wistfull nostalgia. Is that a famous phrase?

But I take from your first point that I was to wrong to have just brushed my teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste (and fluoridated tap water, no less!), or worn shoes today (I always suspected the inherent evil in high heels, dammit!)

Or, wait. I may not be quite getting it. Because my teeth really want to decay, and I have to take active steps that involve a distinction between by body and my mind to prevent that--brushing and flossing twice a day is a huge pain my mind could live without and I wish my body could as well. And while my feet want to be free, I've got to take care of them living in the city unless I want bloody stubs at the end of my legs. Is the distinction because actively preventing disease and discomfort is okay as long as my activity isn't sinful? We're talking about good means to a bad end in point number one? But if my sex is within Holy Matrimony, isn't it a good (or at least okay) end? What is the difference between time-based contraception and barrier- or hormone-based contraception for a married couple if I'm still allowed to brush my teeth with fluoride and wear shoes?

And let's not even get into tampons.

If God had really wanted me to get into heaven, you'd think he would have made me smart enough to understand these incredibly subtle distinctions between my body and mind--I mean, do we even have a workable definition of life? I just don't understand why a condom is sinful, or whether "Thou Shalt Not Kill" includes the little HPV thingies.
posted by cytherea at 1:11 AM on May 12, 2006


And before you say that teaching proper sex-ed counts as the perversion, the "gun", or the mis-use of tax dollars, I'm going to say a bit more.

1. It is a fact that abstinence-only sex-ed does not change the likelihood of an individual engaging in pre-marital sex, simply the age at which they do so.

2. It is a fact that those who engage in pre-marital sex after abstinence was their only training are significantly less likely to take any precautions.

3. It is a fact that those who engage in pre-marital sex after abstinence was their only training are significantly more likely to get STD's.

4. It is a fact that the increase in #3 is directly related to #2.

5. It is a fact that those who engage in pre-marital sex after abstinence was their only training are significantly more likely to have unwanted pregnancies.

6. It is a fact that the increase in #5 is directly related to #2.

7. It is a fact that those who engage in pre-marital sex after abstinence was their only training are significantly more likely to seek abortions.

8. It is a fact that the increase in #7 is directly related to #5.

So, simply put, abstinence-only training is an overall social ill, for which the government has a good reason to block. It even increases the rates of some of your moral no-no's, which should make you pause if you bother to connect all the dots. If you need articles, look back through all the things others have linked for you in this thread; that's where I got all of it.

By the way, rational minded people aren't arguing for abstinence training to vanish. They only want it aside real-world training that has been proven to save lives.
posted by mystyk at 1:19 AM on May 12, 2006


Here's a longish passage from http://www.catholiceducation.org

Hehehe...

We have this phenomenon now of bulimia. People eat and they throw up. That's a bit like contraception.

!!

And you know who it is who is teaching Natural Family Planning in Calcutta? A diminutive Catholic nun.

Right...

The second reason that couples are afraid is the abstinence that is required. They think the abstinence will just be too hard. It's mostly the women who are afraid of it and they're afraid of it because of the males.

Okay...

Well, thanks, that was very enlightening!
posted by funambulist at 1:56 AM on May 12, 2006


mystik, none of the facts to which you point supports the conclusion that the government should be in the position of taking money from some of its citizens to pay for educating the children of other people about how to use contraception. That is what the people in the "batshitinsane" FPP links are opposed to, and none of you has even tried to address it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:07 AM on May 12, 2006


Tolerance of religion is like taking a half course of antibiotics.

That... is beautiful. And it sums up the situation perfectly. To allow a form of profound, seductive irrationality rights and respect beyond that of other ideas, opinions and beliefs is to suckle a viper. This shit is insidious and pernicious. We tolerate it at the risk of it growing into what we're now seeing: the disturbing first shoots of a new dark age. And meanwhile Bob Jones sends its well-programmed little robots into our institutions and laboratories and offices of government, and we nice, tolerant liberals smile and nod and say, "Hey, aren't we so tolerant?" while they strip away our hard-won rights.

Latest Harris poll shows that 47% of Americans oppose Roe v Wade. Meanwhile, I get shit for relentlessly abusing the religious. Because that's, you know, uncivil of me. And nice liberals really don't like incivility.
posted by Decani at 6:38 AM on May 12, 2006


Decani: profound, seductive irrationality

Oh grow up. You can disagree with people without calling them insane.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:51 AM on May 12, 2006


Oh grow up. You can disagree with people without calling them insane.
You're right.
But when disagreeing with the insane it's sometimes helpful to let them know you know just how crazy they are.
posted by Floydd at 7:19 AM on May 12, 2006


Floydd, what strikes you as the advantage of calling insane people who clearly are not insane? Apparently there's some deep satisfaction to be had from it. But how do you see it helping to defeat your enemies? Are you that insecure that you have to call insane anyone who disagrees with you?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:23 AM on May 12, 2006


It's like you live in Bizarro World, PT. It's as if the truth is the opposite of everything you say. You and your kind are clearly irrational and insane. There's nothing insecure about saying this. We're not the ones who are insecure or riddled with issues. We're not the ones who need to grow up. We're not the ones living unreflective lives.

So, where is it you're from? Bizarro World? Mirror Universe? Acirema? Or is there a physical cause to your inability to distinguish truth from reality? Brain lesion? Weird tropical disease of some kind?

You're not rational. There's no point debating you. Marginalizing your kind and working towards legalized game hunting of your kind is likely to be a much more effective solution.

In conclusion, fuck you and everyone who looks like you.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:03 AM on May 12, 2006


solid-one-love: It's like you live in Bizarro World, PT. It's as if the truth is the opposite of everything you say.

Dude, welcome to living in a pluralistic society. This is the problem American democracy was designed to solve. You clearly didn't get the memo.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:44 AM on May 12, 2006


Natural Family Planning:rhythm method::Intelligent Design: creationism

I'm still interested to know the difference between semen ending up in a condom v. it ending up in your bedsheets or pj's, Thomist. Don't forget to spin us a tale about how you never have nocturnal emissions and that you never masturbate.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:47 AM on May 12, 2006


Oh grow up. You can disagree with people without calling them insane.

Sure you can. But it's kinda hard to when they believe patently insane things - as in this case of religious believers.

Another "grow up" jibe, is it? Ah well, makes a change form "sophomoric", I suppose. It really is endlessly amusing how the apologists and defenders of belief in sky pixies and magical mystery powers seem to be so devoid of the sense of irony that they happily suggest those who disrespect such notions are being immature. Kinda like being called childish by someone who still believes in Santa. Oh, it burns, it burns!
posted by Decani at 8:50 AM on May 12, 2006


Kudos to you peeping_Thomist for your contributions to this thread. Effort alone probably earns you kudos, but I found your discussions here interesting. I hold a contrary view, and many of your responses were more verbal Ju-Jitsu than direct responses, but there is lots of good stuff. I think we often learn more from people who's views differ from our own than from the echo of our own opinions.

By the way, did you ever address the issue of why you oppose contraception within marriage? This thread has become huge and I may have missed it. I assume based upon your moniker that you feel it to be against nature to interrupt natural process of creating life. I never really quite understood this line of reasoning. If it is yours, would you be so kind as to expound upon it and its basis?
posted by caddis at 8:53 AM on May 12, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: NFP is a great boon for many couples, many of whom are not religious. I have known lots of secular Birkenstock-and-granola-types who don't appreciate ingesting chemicals or separating themselves from their beloved by barrier methods who have found NFP fits quite well in their lifestyle. People who use NFP are required to communicate about their feelings a lot more and a lot more frequently than people who use contraception, and many couples find this strengthens their relationship. Some women who use the pill (obviously not all, but enough that it's not an isolated phenomenon) feel that they are being treated with chemicals like farm animals to make them more suitable for meeting the desires of the men in their lives, but they are afraid of what would happen if they didn't.

Anyway, as to your question about nocturnal emissions and masturabation, your idea that I would have to "spin you a tale" about how I don't masturbate or have nocturnal emissions shows just how limited is your awareness of the full range of the human experience. I've talked to and known intimately many people who live the way you do. You clearly don't know intimately anyone who lives the way I do. So here it is, and it's not some tale I'm spinning: no, I don't masturbate, and I don't have nocturnal emissions. And, in case you are wondering, yes I have a very strong sex drive. But there have also been times in my marriage when for health reasons we've had to refrain from having sex for several months at a time. It has been difficult, but the idea that it would be so intolerable that I'd be driven into masturbating is just not how I have experienced sex in my life.

But apparently if you can't imagine yourself living a certain way, you can't imagine anyone living that way. And you want to use the coercive power of the government to act as though I don't exist.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:08 AM on May 12, 2006


Much of this discussion reminds me of why the constitutional separation of church and state is so incredibly important to the health and survival of our nation.

There are theocracies in the world - the ones which Bush has accused of "hating freedom." In this case he hits the nail on the head - a theocratic government inevitably leads to a loss of freedom, and further abuses of human rights.

The more people wake up and realize that there are a great many people in our country working hard to take our nation down this road to theocracy, and realize what that will mean for our children and our children's chlidren's freedoms, the better chance we will have to not face a certain kind of hell on earth.

Of course, our constitution also guarantees that the people working to make the government an arm of their preferred church can work within the system to try to make that happen - I can only hope and pray that our system will self-correct as it is meant to, and the people will stop the slow erosion underway before too many have to suffer for it.

The most important thing is to not give up, and to keep fighing for what we believe - whatever we believe. The system isn't completely broken yet.
posted by JAHxman at 9:08 AM on May 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


And you want to use the coercive power of the government to act as though I don't exist.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:08 AM PST on May 12


No, I'm interested in the government having a rational plan toward reproduction and population rather than rely on some cockamamie ideas that ignore reality and endanger public health.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:20 AM on May 12, 2006


I still want to know the difference between time-based and all other forms of contraception.
posted by cytherea at 9:31 AM on May 12, 2006


caddis, among Catholic thinkers, there have been some who have tried to argue that using contraception in acts of fornication or adultery does not make the acts worse. All sexual acts outside of marriage are immoral, of course, so these thinkers have argued that since the act is already bad, maybe contraception doesn't make it worse, and in any case it has some good effects, such as preventing disease transmission.

Those arguments haven't carried the day, but they do highlight that the main point of the Catholic teaching about contraception has always been to condemn using contraception within marriage.

Think of it this way: if people are fornicating or committing adultery, they have much more serious moral problems in their lives than whether or not they are using contraception. This is true even though contraception, in my view, does make acts of fornication and adultery worse. If someone has a severed arm (fornication or adultery) and a broken toe (contraception), you work first on reattaching the arm, and worry later about fixing the toe.

So, what's so bad about contraception within marriage? Here's one kind of argument that many people find they can understand pretty easily: in the marital act, I say with my body that I am entirely for my spouse. I say with my body that I give myself completely to my spouse: I am here before you, and everything that I am is for you. The very way the male and female body come together signifies this mutual self-giving; it has led some people to talk about the "language of the body": our bodies are so constituted that in the marital act we fully become gift to the other person.

Contraception makes this act of self-gift into a lie. With the bodily meaning of the marital act I say "everything I am is for you", but with my act of contraception I say "well, not quite everything: everything except my fertility is for you". An act of total self-gift is transformed into a lie.about contraception has always been to condemn using contraception within marriage.

Think of it this way: if people are fornicating or committing adultery, they have much more serious moral problems in their lives than whether or not they are using contraception. This is true even though contraception does make acts of fornication and adultery worse. If someone has a severed arm (fornication or adultery) and a broken toe (contraception), you work first on reattaching the arm, and worry later about fixing the toe.

So, what's so bad about contraception within marriage? Here's one kind of argument that many people find they can understand pretty easily: in the marital act, I say with my body that I am entirely for my spouse. I say with my body that I give myself completely to my spouse: I am here before you, and everything that I am is for you. The very way the male and female body come together signifies this mutual self-giving; it has led some people to talk about the "language of the body": our bodies are so constituted that in the marital act our very bodies declare that we fully become gift for the other person.

Contraception makes this act into a lie. With the bodily meaning of the marital act I say "everything I am is for you", but with my act of contraception I say "well, not quite everything: everything except my fertility is for you". What looks like an act of total self-gift is transformed into a lie.

People who deny that there is a language of the body typically deny that the body has any intrinsic human significance; they believe that the body is mute, and that whatever meaning it has is the result of our decisions. This is what I meant earlier when I spoke of dualism. They distinguish between their bodies (the "mute" object to be used for whatever purposes they happen to have) and themselves (a disembodied rational will). This profound error is what gives rise to contraception. In my experience, most people who contracept eventually can be brought to acknowledge that they are dualists about human nature.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:33 AM on May 12, 2006


crap, sorry about the mixed up paragraphs above. I hope it's clear how it was supposed flow.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:36 AM on May 12, 2006


But by your argument, NFP should be even worse than a condom or a pill.
posted by cytherea at 9:44 AM on May 12, 2006


I wouldn't say worse, but it's not any better: the rhythm method is saying everything I have is for you except on those days when we're both likely to conceive. Same difference.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:52 AM on May 12, 2006


Furthermore, if my parter catches a cold, is it wrong for them to cover their mouth when they cough or take an anti-biotic? Or would that be "Well, not quite everything; everything except my cold for you?"
posted by cytherea at 9:53 AM on May 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Worse because they're not just denying me their fertility, but also their hot, holy sex for a week at a time.
posted by cytherea at 9:57 AM on May 12, 2006


I like to wrap my feces in sparkly paper and a nice big bow and leave it on the breakfast table for my beloved.
What better way to say: "everything I am is for you"
posted by Floydd at 10:01 AM on May 12, 2006


PinkStainlessTail and cytherea, to stick with the "language of the body" idea, those who contracept perform an act that says one thing (they perform the marital act that says I'm all for you), while denying that very meaning by their act of contraception. The couple who use NFP simply refrain from performing that act when it would say something they wouldn't mean. The users of NFP refrain from performing an act that would say something they aren't in a position to say, while the contraceptors lie.

It's certainly possible to use NFP badly (i.e. immorally), but it's not possible to use contraception well, because it is an intrinsically disordered act.

cytherea, you speak as though our procreative powers were only accidentally related to the marital act. More dualism.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:03 AM on May 12, 2006


The reason you are being tagged as batshitinsane, PT, is that you have such obvious and unresolvable contradictions in your worldview that you literally have to be insane — or at least incapable of simple logical thinking — to maintain them simultaneously.

And one fundamental difference between us is that I do not want to force you to use any particular birth control method, while you very much want to restrict my access.

Further, my wife DOES NOT WANT ALL OF ME. We are in complete agreement on this point: she does not want my sperm in her fallopian tubes.

Yet you would have us forced to share it. You want to force us to become pregnant.

For the umpteenth time, we do not buy into your cockamamie religious bullshit. Each and every one of your religious arguments is absolutely and wholly rejected: you may as well be telling us pink unicorns want us to do things in a certain manner.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:11 AM on May 12, 2006


The users of NFP refrain from performing an act that would say something they aren't in a position to say, while the contraceptors lie.

I still don't see the difference: the rhythm method is saying "I'm all for you except when we're fecund" and contraception is saying "I'm all for you except for my fecundity". The body and it's qualities are being deliberately withheld in both cases for reasons outside of sharing love.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:12 AM on May 12, 2006


Another kind of argument about contraception that some people find helpful has to do with the contraceptor's volitional relation to the possible fruit of the marital act. The contraceptors have done something to "unwant" their child, if they have one. They have performed an act that projects forward toward a possible child, and they have done something to say "no" to the existence of that child. If they accidentally become pregnant, they may, like mystyk, follow up their initial "no" with something much more definitive, namely murder.

The couple that uses NFP refrains from performing an act that is likely to result in a new life, and when they do come together in the marital act, if the gift of new life is given, they have not done anything to say "no" to that gift. A child conceived by people who use NFP (to avoid conception) is a surprise, a child conceived by people who contracept is an accident.

Contracepting says "no" to the possibility of a gift; every child conceived as the result of a contracepted act is necessarily an "unwanted" child, because the couple has literally done something to "unwant", to be inhospitable to, the gift that is that particular child.

Many people who see nothing wrong with contraception find it almost impossible to make sense of the idea of human life as a gift. They think of children as products, and many of them think of children as consumer items. Contraception makes this kind of confusion unavoidable.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:13 AM on May 12, 2006


So, it would be just as wrong to take an antibiotic pill before sex as an estrogen pill? I'm trying to be holistic here.
posted by cytherea at 10:14 AM on May 12, 2006


that the government should be in the position of taking money from some of its citizens to pay for educating the children of other people about how to use contraception.

See, the thing is, anyone - including you, as you made abundantly clear - can hold whatever views about sex and contraception and family planning and they are rightly free to act as they best please according to their ideas. There is no coercion being advocated there.

When you're talking about education, though, the "children of other people" are not the exclusive property of those people, as if they were a thing, with no individuality and no rights of their own, at the complete whim of their parents and their beliefs, otherwise, the law would allow parents to do all sorts of things by taking advantage of their legal status as parents. Say someone believes any form of education and any form of contact with the outside world itself is a corruption, and they refuse to provide it to their children, and lock them up in a room all by themselves. Should other people, as represented by "the state", just stand by and watch?

Those children will one day become adults and legally autonomous citizens of their society too.

If you accept there are some limits to parental authority and that there is a good case for making education compulsory, then you accept two principles at issue here: the children have a right to be provided with the means to choose their own path in preparation for adulthood; the rest of society has an interest in providing those means as much as possible.

In this case of contraception, this means teenagers have a right to be informed of all the options and means available to avoid unwanted pregnancies and STD's if they have sex; and society has an interest (in terms of health, social consequences, economic consequences, etc.) in providing that information because it has an interest in having less unwanted pregnancies and STD's.

There is no coercion being advocated there, either.

Parents who believe all contraception is perversion and sex without marriage is wrong are still free to educate their children according to those beliefs, what is unethical is for them to demand the right to deny their children access to information that takes into account not just beliefs but realistic possibilities and "in case of" scenarios in the public interest and in the interest of health and autonomy of those teenagers.

I don't see the big THREAT of making that information available, if your beliefs are so strong and you trust them so much you should trust your ability to persuade your teenage kids to follow them, but they possibility they may not be persuaded or that despite their persuasion they may act differently is always there, and it's in their best interests to be informed and prepared should that happen.

It's also sorry idea of parenthood to expect those kids just accept your beliefs without question and without reaching their own conclusions after getting all the information you won't give them. It's also a sorry idea of society to expect to be given special treatment in considering kids like robot clones of their parents, against their own best interests.

Actually, I do understand why sex ed can be seen as a "threat" with that kind of beliefs, precisely because teenagers are seen as easily brainwashable idiots, and the two things - parents religious beliefs and sex education - are seen as equal and competing means of brainwashing. There's no other reason to oppose it.
posted by funambulist at 10:15 AM on May 12, 2006


The couple that uses NFP refrains from performing an act that is likely to result in a new life, and when they do come together in the marital act, if the gift of new life is given, they have not done anything to say "no" to that gift.

They were deliberately trying to avoid conception. They were very much saying no to that gift.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:15 AM on May 12, 2006


PinkStainlessTail: The body and it's qualities are being deliberately withheld in both cases

But they aren't. Contraceptors are still performing the very act that _says_ "I'm all for you", even though they don't mean it! There's nothing equivalent in the case of NFP.

The only way I am aware of to resist this conclusion is to declare that the body is in fact mute, that whatever meaning it has is the result of my projecting meaning onto it, but that in itself it is just an object to be used as "I" (apparently a disembodied rational will) see fit.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:16 AM on May 12, 2006


PinkStainlessTail: They were deliberately trying to avoid conception.

How am I trying to avoid conception when I fuck my wife during her infertile period? What am I doing to avoid conception?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:17 AM on May 12, 2006


But they aren't. Contraceptors are still performing the very act that _says_ "I'm all for you", even though they don't mean it! There's nothing equivalent in the case of NFP.

Refraining during ovulation is equivalent.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:19 AM on May 12, 2006


How am I trying to avoid conception when I fuck my wife during her infertile period?

And if you miscalculate, or fall victim to the very common variances in fertile periods and conceive when you had no intention of doing so? It is absolutely no different from a condom breaking or the pill failing.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:20 AM on May 12, 2006


And exactly how does NLP not say no to a child? That's much more of a willful act than taking a pill.
posted by cytherea at 10:22 AM on May 12, 2006


fresh_fish_five: my wife DOES NOT WANT ALL OF ME.

Of course she doesn't. She wants something from you, and you want something from her. And so long as you can both provide what the other wants, you'll have a mutually satisfying exchange of goods and services. That's what capitalism is all about, baby.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:23 AM on May 12, 2006


What am I doing to avoid conception?

Let me guess: using NFP to make sure your sperm don't meet her egg?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 AM on May 12, 2006


Contraception makes this act into a lie. With the bodily meaning of the marital act I say "everything I am is for you", but with my act of contraception I say "well, not quite everything: everything except my fertility is for you". What looks like an act of total self-gift is transformed into a lie.

Bullshit, you absurd irrationalist. For a start this patronisingly suggests that the decision to use contraception is only that of one partner - insulting enough in itself for one who so pompously bangs on about "marital acts" and "mutual self-giving" like some throwback from Miss Cicely Dustquim's Nice School for Nice Young Ladies - but quite apart from that, the "bodily meaning of the marital act" does not say "everything I am is for you whether you want it right now or not; whether it is a good idea or not".

Stop oppressing women, you retrograde little sexist. An individual's fertility should be under their control: no one else's.
posted by Decani at 10:26 AM on May 12, 2006


How am I trying to avoid conception when I fuck my wife during her infertile period? What am I doing to avoid conception?
If you're keeping track of her fertile periods, and you then deliberately fuck her while she's infertile, you are trying to avoid conception.
By your standards, you're going to hell.
posted by Floydd at 10:27 AM on May 12, 2006


PinkStainlessTail: And if you miscalculate, or fall victim to the very common variances in fertile periods and conceive when you had no intention of doing so? It is absolutely no different from a condom breaking or the pill failing.

Of course it is different. In the case of NFP, the child is a surprise. In the case of contraception, where I have done something to "unwant" the child, the child, literally, is an accident. I can change my mind and decide I want the child after all, but that won't change the fact that I did something to unwant it. When I contracept, I imagine the fruit of this particular marital act, and I said "no" to that fruit. There is nothing equivalent to that act of unwanting for users of NFP.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:27 AM on May 12, 2006


What am I doing to avoid conception?

Let me guess: using NFP to make sure your sperm don't meet her egg?

Which is, y'know, exactly the same thing as my wife have been doing: making sure my sperm don't meet her eggs. Just like you. Any distinctions on technique are moot: they're just ways of trying to fool yourself and your god.

You make no logical sense whatsoever.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:28 AM on May 12, 2006


Floydd: If you're keeping track of her fertile periods, and you then deliberately fuck her while she's infertile, you are trying to avoid conception.

I'm not trying to avoid conception when I fuck my wife. I'm trying to avoid conception when I don't fuck my wife. When I fuck my wife (believing she is infertile), avoiding conception is not something I am trying to achieve. I don't have to fuck my wife in order to avoid conception. Sheesh.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:30 AM on May 12, 2006


Of course it is different. In the case of NFP, the child is a surprise. In the case of contraception, where I have done something to "unwant" the child, the child, literally, is an accident.

No. they are absolutely equivalent. Using the rhythm method, you were actively trying to not conceive. You did not want to conceive. If there is an accidental conception during this period, there is the same level of "unwanting." The distinction between "surprise" and "accident" is incorrect.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:32 AM on May 12, 2006


five_fresh_fish: Any distinctions on technique are moot

Except that you're performing acts that say one thing while you mean something entirely different by them.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:33 AM on May 12, 2006


That's like when a HS friend of mine started working at McDonald's. Apparently his managers said "Don't think of it as an accident. Think of it as a surprise."
posted by cytherea at 10:33 AM on May 12, 2006


Think there's some point where PT's bogosity meter will finally ping off the red line, and he'll finally see the contradictions and self-delusions in his internally inconsistent worldview?

"Except that you're performing acts that say one thing while you mean something entirely different by them."

No, I'm not. How on earth do you figure that?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:35 AM on May 12, 2006


PinkStainlessTail: If there is an accidental conception during this period, there is the same level of "unwanting."

What is the act of unwanting that I perform?

In order for what you say to be correct, it would have to be the case that what I am trying to achieve in an act includes not only what I am trying to achieve in the act, but also whatever I am not trying to achieve in the act. But this is a non-starter.

In fucking my wife during her infertile period, I am not trying to achieve not having a child. I am trying to achieve loving my wife, and have judged that this is a propitious time for doing so.

In using contraception, I am taking an act of loving my wife, and adding on to it an additional goal: the goal of avoiding conception.

When I use NFP, there is no act I perform that (1) tends to produce children, and (2) is an act of unwanting a child. When we refrain from the marital act, we are not saying "no" to the possible fruit of any particular marital act that we are performing. We are simply not performing any marital acts that are not in a time that we deem appropriate.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:39 AM on May 12, 2006


And exactly how does NLP not say no to a child? That's much more of a willful act than taking a pill

Any distinctions on technique are moot

You know, that's probably why there are long-winded treatises and religious proclamations on the matter, to cloud and obscure through a ton of sophistries that little obvious fact.

It seems to me the only coherent anti-contraception position is to consider immoral any form of willful human intervention, including "natural family planning" (and that willful aspect already doesn't make it a "natural" thing, natural things happen without human control, and the only truly natural form of family planning I can think of is fertilised eggs being expelled from the body without the woman even noticing). Of course, even the Catholic church had to concede on that point because preaching that even a married couple joined in holy matrimony etc. must simply take any number of children that come through marital sex would be even more of an unpopular position than those they currently hold, and at philosophical level it would clash with the belief about humanity being made noble by divine incarnation, since it would reduce humans to animals at the mercy of biology and without any recourse to intellect and free will. But, they couldn't go as far as endorsing condoms and pills - yet - because of the role the pill played in 'sexual liberation' and women's rights and feminism. So it's just a very cynical and hypocrite position. But, each to their own, if there are people who truly believe it is the most morally coherent position, then so be it. What's at issue here is education and that's a whole other matter.
posted by funambulist at 10:41 AM on May 12, 2006


five_fresh_fish, well actually you're not, because you aren't contracepting. You've mutilated yourself, but that doesn't mean that the marital act is a lie when you perform it, because you aren't, in that act, doing something to mutilate yourself. It's already done.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:41 AM on May 12, 2006


I'll be away for some time, but will be happy to answer everyone's questions when I get back! :)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:43 AM on May 12, 2006


I'm sure I'm full of my own set of inconsistencies. The difference is that I wouldn't want my children to catch AIDS because they were ignorant of or afraid to use a condom. And it's not fair for any child to have to go through that because of the Magic Dragon in their parent's garage.
posted by cytherea at 10:44 AM on May 12, 2006


I can't believe we've gotten to nigh on 400 comments without any pictures. You're slacking people.
posted by longbaugh at 10:48 AM on May 12, 2006


Except that you're performing acts that say one thing while you mean something entirely different by them.

But "meaning" is a rather arbitrary thing. By the way, since you're a Catholic, even the Pope & co. expounded in official letters and statements on the role of sex in marriage and considered the purpose of sharing and affection between partners as valid in itself, even as maintaining the belief sex should remain open to procreation or something like that. If there was no emphasis at all on that affection for its own sake part, if it was all about requiring fertility in the picture, sex between sterile couples would be sinful. There are many levels of, shall we say, philosophical subtleties here that allow rather contradictory positions to be held.
posted by funambulist at 10:49 AM on May 12, 2006


Thanks PT. However, I don't find those arguments very persuasive, and I doubt many people do. Perhaps that accounts for the chasm between the shepherds and the flock on this issue within the Catholic Church.
posted by caddis at 10:52 AM on May 12, 2006


Semantical subtleties, rather...
posted by funambulist at 10:54 AM on May 12, 2006


In fucking my wife during her infertile period, I am not trying to achieve not having a child. I am trying to achieve loving my wife, and have judged that this is a propitious time for doing so.

That this is the time she is least likely to have a child is surely a coincidence.
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:57 AM on May 12, 2006


PinkStainlessTail: If there is an accidental conception during this period, there is the same level of "unwanting."

Peeping_Thomas: What is the act of unwanting that I perform?


If you accidentally conceive during what you thought was an infertile period there is "unwanting" involved. Otherwise you would not have been avoiding the fertile period, because you were okay with conceiving. It's very simple.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:59 AM on May 12, 2006


Thanks PT. However, I don't find those arguments very persuasive, and I doubt many people do.

I'm reminded of the time a member of the LDS church tried to explain to me the Declaration of 78, which allowed blacks to be ordained for the first time in the history of the church (well, Smith personally ordained a few, but that's another matter). His arguments were heartfelt, meaningful and complete within the context of his faith, and utterly unpersuasive to anyone outside it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:05 AM on May 12, 2006


This sophistry about the difference between NFP and other forms of birth control strikes me as a lame attempt to justify that which is clearly an attempt to prevent conception, (which is apparently a "bad thing" as far as the church is concerned.)

It reminds me of an alcoholic friend of mine, who maintained that he had 20 years of sobriety, despite the fact that he always reeked of all the mouthwash he drank daily to get his fix. He truly believed that he wasn't "drinking" because it was mouthwash, and couldn't accept that it was really no different from throwing back some real booze (mouthwash is often at least 20% alcohol.)

Keep using NFP and believing you're doing what the big Guy in the Sky wants you to do if it makes you feel better about yourself. You have a right to your denial, I understand how it is dude. I won't judge you for it.
posted by JAHxman at 11:16 AM on May 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


You've mutilated yourself, but that doesn't mean that the marital act is a lie when you perform it, because you aren't, in that act, doing something to mutilate yourself.

Well, isn't that a relief!

I also damn near cut off my finger the other day on the tablesaw, although I suppose that doesn't quite fall into the category of desired self-mutilation.

My wife's earring holes, however, probably do fall into that category. Damn her sinning!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:21 AM on May 12, 2006


You've mutilated yourself, but that doesn't mean that the marital act is a lie when you perform it, because you aren't, in that act, doing something to mutilate yourself. It's already done.

Anyone else having serious difficulty parsing this? all I know it is sounds so very rumsfeldian, I feel like it's 2003 all over again.
posted by funambulist at 12:32 PM on May 12, 2006


I think he's saying that when five fresh fish swims upstream to spawn with Mrs. five fresh fish, five fresh fish isn't actually sinning at that moment even though he's not spewing milt due to his miltectomy. The sin was committed at the time of the miltectomy, not at the moment of spawning.
But peeper's pretty darn delusional, so he could mean almost anything.
posted by Floydd at 1:02 PM on May 12, 2006


Whoa, there: let's not go jumping aboard the "vasectomies are a sin" bandwagon. PT said nothing of the sort.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:03 PM on May 12, 2006


Oh. Sorry.
I went off half-cocked.
posted by Floydd at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Wow. I've been gone for a while...

Before anything else, peeping, I want to go on record telling you that I don't think you're an idiot, since you're obviously quite intelligent and articulate.

However, from reading all your statements here, I do think you are completely irrational, and that you are an extremely narcissistic, controlling and domineering personality - which means I think you're evil. Your narcissism makes it impossible for you to imagine that you could ever be insane or irrational or even just plain wrong. I invite you (and everyone else here) to read People of the Lie, a book by a Catholic priest, which I found very helpful in learning how truly evil people actually function.

Your arguments about the government spending your tax money on this don't wash. The government spends more than half your tax money on the military, and plenty more of it on non-believers's Social Security. You've got bigger fish to fry, so get cookin'.

I'm glad people like you are a minority... thankfully the rest of us are strong enough to resist if not ignore you. You go ahead and live your life as you see fit, that's your right as a human being, which I accept and respect. I will take no action to stop you from living your life as you wish.

However, since you don't respect my right to the same, and you think it proper to take action to stop me from living my life as I see fit, don't expect me to roll over and let you do it. I must consider you my enemy in this respect.

You do not now and will never have power over me, or any of the other people in this thread who are fighting you.

Now that my position is clear, I have a practical question for you. Since you're not an Apocalyptic Christian, what do you think is going to happen if everyone stops using contraception? How is it good for humanity to keep reproducing geometrically?

And by the way, I agree with all the above posters who shoot down your embrace of NFP. Since you and your wife are fully giving each other love for the glory of God, you should never, ever, ever be making any attempt to not have sex when she's fertile. You are avoiding conception when you abstain from sex during her fertile period. You've come up with a convoluted narcissistic self-justification for not trusting God to either give or not give you a child.

You shouldn't use any contraception, and you shouldn't hold back yourself from your wife at any time. You should be trusting God. Since He's in total control of everything, only He knows how many children you should conceive and have, isn't that true? Why then do you withhold your seed from your wife at any time? God will take care of whether she conceives or not!

Now, since you're highly intelligent, you know that people having sex when the woman is fertile is highly likely to create a baby. Since you believe we should all stop using contraception and are of course opposed to abortion, you must acknowledge that the birth rate would skyrocket immediately - probably escalating to something like the Saudi Arabian average of 4 children per woman.

And thus, we return to my question above. How, then, should the world deal with that explosion of population? We'd go from 6.5 billion to 12 billion within a decade, at that rate, and to 24 billion even faster afterwards. How do we deal with all those people?

Are you trusting God to handle it all for us? You don't seem to trust him with your own family's fertility, so that seems like a bit of a stretch!
posted by zoogleplex at 2:47 PM on May 12, 2006


Oh and by the way, there's nothing at all "natural" about Natural Family Planning.

From this site:

"By avoiding sexual intimacy during the window of fertility, pregnancy can be avoided."

Do you see that? AVOIDED. Abstinence from sex during fertility is contraception.

Also: "To determine the window of fertility, these methods use such things as temperature, mucus, and cervical changes."

Thermometers are not in any way natural, especially those sensitive enough to discriminate the small changes that denote ovulation.

Also note that the scientific sort of investigation which figured out NFP is not natural either.

As I recall, people all over the world figured out that having too many children was a bad idea a very very long time ago, and tried for hundreds if not thousands of generations to avoid it. It's only in the last 100 years or so that truly effective avoidance methods (other than abstinence) became possible, and humans have seized onto them wherever they could get them... and it's been a great boon to freedom for everyone, most especially women.

You've seized onto this NFP thing to justify your own avoidance of having more children, when your church and your God say that contraception is unGodly and sinful.

Stop denying your wife all of yourself when she's fertile. Your beliefs demand it of you. God will determine whether you have more children, and will provide for you if He gifts you with more. You don't have the right to interfere with God's will; interference with God's will is sin!

It's entirely unnatural of you to not be breeding as rapidly as possible, peeping. Get to it.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:13 PM on May 12, 2006


There's a word for PT, and it's not "idiot;" it's more like "doublethinker." That is, one who engages in doublethink. Man, those sure are some mental gymnastics you go through to convince yourself that you're righteous. But hey, to each his own I guess.

But where you really lose me is when mystyk posts this and you come back with "mystik, none of the facts to which you point supports the conclusion that the government should be in the position of taking money from some of its citizens to pay for educating the children of other people about how to use contraception."

No, actually they do. That was the entire point of his post. Contraceptive education represents a public good in that it reduces the occurence of STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and abortions. Therefore, it is the state's duty to act in the public interest and provide contraceptive education. All of the religious gobbledygook in the world is completely tangential. Where exactly do you not follow this argument?
posted by ludwig_van at 3:42 PM on May 12, 2006


funambulist: But "meaning" is a rather arbitrary thing.

I hope you recall that this is what I said someone who wanted to resist the argument about the "language of the body" would say: namely, that you would deny that there is any significance to the marital act that is not imposed upon it by human will. You see the body as mute, and any meaning the act itself might have as beeing arbitrary, projected, imposed upon it. In other words, you have a fundamentally dualistic conception of personhood.

In my experience, most people believe that it makes sense to talk about the physical structure of the marital act as having non-arbitrary meaning (something along the lines of "I'm all for you"), even though many of them do not see how this insight leads to a rejection of contraception as a kind of lie.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:43 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig van: Where exactly do you not follow this argument?

Where it leads to having the government teach people to do immoral things. There are lots of immoral things we could have the government that might have good consequences. E.g., forced abortions for people who cannot afford to rear their own children. That doesn't make such proposals acceptable.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:45 PM on May 12, 2006


zoogleplex: there's nothing at all "natural" about Natural Family Planning.

In one sense that's true, in another not. We can contrast medicine against nature, and say that all art is not natural. That's the sense you're using. On the other hand, we can distinguish between interventions upon nature that recognize and work with the meaning-structures that are already there, and interventions that treat nature as mere raw material. In the second sense of the natural/artificial distinction, NFP is natural.

For example, cookies are not natural. There are no cookies in nature. But we can and do distinguish between cookies made of natural ingredients and cookies confected out of chemicals that have never seen the light of day.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:50 PM on May 12, 2006


I hope you recall that this is what I said someone who wanted to resist the argument about the "language of the body" would say: namely, that you would deny that there is any significance to the marital act that is not imposed upon it by human will. You see the body as mute, and any meaning the act itself might have as beeing arbitrary, projected, imposed upon it. In other words, you have a fundamentally dualistic conception of personhood.

First, this is a completely fallacious leap in logic. You're saying that any assertion of self-determination equates to dualism.

Secondly, what of it? Any religion that includes the idea of a soul or an afterlife is fundamentally dualist, isn't it?
posted by ludwig_van at 3:51 PM on May 12, 2006


zoogleplex: what do you think is going to happen if everyone stops using contraception? How is it good for humanity to keep reproducing geometrically?

That's not the alternative. There are effective means of regulating family size that aren't contraceptive.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:51 PM on May 12, 2006


There are lots of immoral things we could have the government that might have good consequences. E.g., forced abortions for people who cannot afford to rear their own children. That doesn't make such proposals acceptable.
posted by peeping_Thomist 7 minutes ago


If you can't tell the difference between sex education and forced abortions, you're fucking stupid.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:54 PM on May 12, 2006


zoogleplex, I remember reading M.Scott Peck's books People of the Lie and The Road Less Traveled back when they were big news, more than 20 years ago. He was not a Catholic priest, but there were genuine insights in those books. I was sad to hear about how his life ended up.

Trying to perform amateur psychology on people you know only via a forum like this is a waste of everyone's time. Perhaps a more fruitful use of your energy would be to meditate on what psychological problems would lead a person to try to make a judgment about a person's moral state based solely on a discussion in a forum like this.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:58 PM on May 12, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: you like to call names. Care to explain what is stupid about what I said? Many people don't think forced abortions are evil. China has forced abortions. Obviously there are differences between the proposal to teach contraception and the proposal to have forced abortions, but they are both examples of having the government do something evil in order to achieve some desirable goal.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:02 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van: Any religion that includes the idea of a soul or an afterlife is fundamentally dualist, isn't it?

No.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:04 PM on May 12, 2006


Where it leads to having the government teach people to do immoral things.

And you don't think that this is a weak argument? You've admitted that your morality is religiously derived, that the government should stay out of religious matters, and that contraceptive education is in the public interest. How can you cling to this argument?

You assert contraception is immoral. I assert that it is not. Therefore, you can feel free not to use it and tell your kids not to use it, if that's what you want. But your argument that it shouldn't be taught holds no water.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van, to elaborate, Christians believe in the resurrection of the body. If the body is not resurrected, then we will not survive this life, because we are our bodies. The soul is a spiritual principle, but I am not my soul. If only my soul survives this life, then I do not survive this life.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:06 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van: I haven't claimed that my views on contraception can only be derived from religious premises. I claim that, in addition to being taught by revelation, they are also knowable by reason, and that I know by reason that contraception is immoral. That provides me an adequate basis for opposing government involvement in contraception, exactly the same kind of basis I have for resisting the proposal to have forced abortions.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:08 PM on May 12, 2006


I claim that, in addition to being taught by revelation, they are also knowable by reason, and that I know by reason that contraception is immoral.

Well, if that's the case, you haven't demonstrated any of that reason in this thread. Or can you point me to the comment where you explained this rationale? Because it seems clear to me that all of your objections thus far have been theologically-founded. When confronted with the explicit rational reasons for why contraceptive education is in the public interest, you dismissed it with a blunt "you're wrong." In the absence of the reasonable argument to which you allude, I have to assume that you don't have one.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:19 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van: Because it seems clear to me that all of your objections thus far have been theologically-founded.

The argument about the language of the body and contraception being a lie is not based on revealed principles.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:24 PM on May 12, 2006


The argument about the language of the body and contraception being a lie is not based on revealed principles.

You're right, it's a completely fabricated justification. How can the body have a "nautral" language? If God doesn't provide the meaning and people don't provide the meaning, who does? The body has no language and contraception is not a lie outside of a religious context. This argument has no substance. It's the definition of "grasping at straws."
posted by ludwig_van at 4:27 PM on May 12, 2006


"We can contrast medicine against nature, and say that all art is not natural."

Art is not natural. That's why it's the first syllable of "artificial." Art is by definition man-made.

"we can distinguish between interventions upon nature that recognize and work with the meaning-structures that are already there,"

The "meaning-structures" you refer to are entirely based in your subjective opinion, and have no application in actual nature. Some species mate in male-female pairs for life, others breed with many different mates. Some species lay eggs and fertilization happens entirely ex corpus. Some species are asexual, some are bisexual. Some species mate only during female estrus, for reproductive purposes, while others also have coitus for pleasure. This generally correlates with intelligence development, but not completely. There is no "structure" in nature that can be compared to the male-female emotional relationship you describe.

Your statement is meaningless with actual respect to nature; you are making this up out of your head. You seem to be forgetting that religion is also completely artificial. Nature did not create it, nor your concepts of male-female human relationships.

"In the second sense of the natural/artificial distinction, NFP is natural."

No it isn't, because the second distinction is meaningless in reality. Anything created by humans is, by definition, artificial.

"Where it leads to having the government teach people to do immoral things. There are lots of immoral things we could have the government that might have good consequences. E.g., forced abortions for people who cannot afford to rear their own children. That doesn't make such proposals acceptable."

The definition of "moral" is not absolute, any more than that of "perversion." It is entirely subjective. It can be defined individually, or it can be defined by social consensus. Absent intelligence, there is no morality. We are the only species we know of that can abstract "morality" and apply it to life either individually or by social consensus.

Most of us don't agree with you that contraception is immoral, therefore the social consensus drives government - that is, public - policy.

Your argument about morals is meaningless in discussion of what government should control. Your opinion is noted, but we're not going to act upon it.

Once again, you are showing us your towering narcissism.

"That's not the alternative. There are effective means of regulating family size that aren't contraceptive."

Yes, and one of them is infanticide, which is still rather widely practiced in places where poor people have little or no access to birth control.

Another method is starvation, which is what happens when you have too many children and not enough food.

War is also a popular way to control population, and one of its major causes (other than towering narcissistic ego among "leaders") is having too many people with not enough resources to support them.

You would bring these back with a vengeance, eh?

The little Godly Utopia in your brain cannot exist in a human world, mostly because the rest of us would find it hellish slavery of our bodies and minds. Again, evidence of your narcissism. You believe you know better than everyone else on earth.

Also, you haven't addressed our assertions that you are indeed holding some of yourself back from your wife by failing to make love to her while she's fertile - and my personal assertion that you're turning your back on God's will by not doing so.

I understand that you feel "abstinence" does not equal "contraception," but I challenge that. Why should it make any difference to you whether you impregnate your wife every time she's fertile and not pregnant? Don't you trust God to handle things for you?

If all contraception is sin, then why isn't failure to inseminate also a sin? I mean, are you forgetting about Onan?

"But we can and do distinguish between cookies made of natural ingredients and cookies confected out of chemicals that have never seen the light of day."

I'd like you to show me some, because I've never seen a cookie whose ingredients weren't mostly flour, sugar or corn syrup, salt, and some kind of emulsifier like butter. They add in all sorts of other stuff like preservatives and flavor additives, but there are no cookies manufactured solely from artificially-synthesized chemical compounds.

"Perhaps a more fruitful use of your energy would be to meditate on what psychological problems would lead a person to try to make a judgment about a person's moral state based solely on a discussion in a forum like this."

Pot. Kettle. Black. I think my take on you is pretty accurate, and I have no problem with having a judgement of you. You want to control my mind and body. I won't let you.

"He was not a Catholic priest,"

Then I have remembered poorly, for which I apologize. In the book he wrote about being present at exorcisms, if I recall correctly (though I may not), so perhaps I assumed. I'll have to go re-read that and refresh my memory, and also look up what happened to him later.

"Many people don't think forced abortions are evil."

This is a moral judgement, and depends on the person involved. I personally think forced abortions are evil, as do you. I don't think contraception is evil, whereas you do. Our lines are drawn in different places, to be sure.

The term "evil" itself is artificial (as is "good"), and is not absolute, except in each of our minds as we define it personally - most of us get our definition of evil from an external moral structure, like a religion, or our laws, and others solely define it in their own minds.

"Obviously there are differences between the proposal to teach contraception and the proposal to have forced abortions, but they are both examples of having the government do something evil in order to achieve some desirable goal."

In your opinion.

"ludwig_van, to elaborate, Christians believe in the resurrection of the body. If the body is not resurrected, then we will not survive this life, because we are our bodies. The soul is a spiritual principle, but I am not my soul. If only my soul survives this life, then I do not survive this life."

I don't believe that's the Roman Catholic opinion, but I'll be happy to be proved wrong.

"I claim that, in addition to being taught by revelation, they are also knowable by reason, and that I know by reason that contraception is immoral."

Yes, you've shown us the reasoning that you've based this on, and we've all read it and found it entirely irrational - so what you call "reason" we rightly call "nuttiness." This claim is narcissistic as well. You got one hell of an ego there, buddy!
posted by zoogleplex at 4:45 PM on May 12, 2006


You see the body as mute, and any meaning the act itself might have as beeing arbitrary, projected, imposed upon it. In other words, you have a fundamentally dualistic conception of personhood.

Nonsense, I didn't say or imply that, no one else did, and its a very long way to go from "meaning is arbitrary" to "you see the body as mute", whatever you actually mean by that.

(You're really skilled with playing these tricks of shifting the meaning of words though. Kudos to you. It's a skill much sought after in many professions, not just the clerical ones!)

Section from the department for the redundant explanation of the obvious: sex is human interaction of the most direct personal kind and can "mean" or rather express anything from intimacy and affection and communication and fun and kinkiness and curiosity and whatever (at least in consensually enjoyed sex, which is what we're talking about here), in its own right; most people don't even have to think about what exactly it "means" on some ideological level unless they want to attach convoluted justifications to their sexual practices.

The "meaning is arbitrary" here is specifically in response to the fact you view sex as necessarily requiring fertility or at least the option of fertility - even though, in practice, you do take steps to avoid it and do all sorts of verbal acrobatics to justify that, but it's your right to do so, for yourself, at least, not for others - while other people have no problem whatsoever embracing even at level of principle, not just in practice, the separation of sex and fertility (except when they're actively trying to have children, that is). You call that "perversion", but that's the meaning you attribute to it, and you do that only to the safer and more practical methods of contraception, not the ones approved under the umbrella of "natural" family planning. So it's double arbitrary.

If that separation, if that goal to enjoy sex without wanting children is what you call "dualistic conception of personhood", you're engaging in it too already, furthermore, it's really not "dualistic conception of personhood" to pursue an action with the conscious intent to avoid one of its possible outcomes, otherwise putting on gloves (eh) while going outside in winter or wearing seatbelts while driving would be a "dualistic conception of personhood" too. Not that there's any real comparison between sex and going outside in winter or driving, or having children and a car crash or a cold, so don't try and pull a "see, you see this and that as blah blah". The comparison is only insomuch as it's ridiculous to define "wanting to do x without it resulting in y" as 'dualistic conception of personhood', unless you think y - in this case, procreation - is the only meaningful purpose of x - sex, or personhood itself! -, but then, you wouldn't be speaking of enjoying sex and you wouldn't be speaking of family planning either.

The department never runs out of work with this kind of stuff, does it?
posted by funambulist at 4:50 PM on May 12, 2006


"ludwig_van, to elaborate, Christians believe in the resurrection of the body. If the body is not resurrected, then we will not survive this life, because we are our bodies. The soul is a spiritual principle, but I am not my soul. If only my soul survives this life, then I do not survive this life."

Hmm, woops, I read this incorrectly. I'd like to retract my response please, with sincere apologies.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:57 PM on May 12, 2006


I find this "language of the body" idea to be weirdly fascinating. What the English translation of "malignant brain tumor"? How about "hernia" or "ingrown toe nail"? Can really sweaty palms be translated into a human language?
posted by mr_roboto at 4:58 PM on May 12, 2006


Where it leads to having the government teach people to do immoral things.

Like I said, it's fascinating how the simple fact of making available useful information in the interest of individual and public health gets translated as a coercive thing, and sex education is seen as competing on the same level of the kind of brainwashing fundamentalist religious conservatives engage in. It's like there's not even a concept that individuals should make up their own minds after getting all the information they can get. Nice authoritarian idea.
posted by funambulist at 5:00 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van: How can the body have a "natural" language?

That's a great question, but not one I need to be able to answer in order to see that contraception is evil. All I need to be able to do is to see that the body does have a natural language, and that the marital act has a natural meaning (something like "I'm all for you"). And, as I said earlier, in my experience this is something that most people can recognize. Some of the posts above, in which people say there is no natural meaning to the marital act, or that it can mean anything anyone wants it to mean, give a good flavor of what sorts of things you're driven to say if you deny this point.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:06 PM on May 12, 2006


"...of the kind of brainwashing fundamentalist religious conservatives engage in."

Or really any kind of religious dogmatist. It's that same ol' narcissism, funambulist - from which authoritarians derive their claim to authority.

Of course, the Bible says God gave man Free Will. But clearly, those who think they're Godly feel we shouldn't have it.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:08 PM on May 12, 2006


zoogleplex, how were you misreading what I wrote about the resurrection of the body, such that you thought it wasn't what Catholics believe? Just wondering what you thought I was saying.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:08 PM on May 12, 2006


I think I'm going to start worshipping zoogleplex. S/He has made some of the best posts I've ever read, lately. Zoogleplex, it is a distinct pleasure to read you!

The conversation, wrt "language of the body" has taken a distinctly bizarre twist now. We have now entered a zone I'd call "so desperate to reconcil this mass of contradictions we try to hold as our worldview, that we're gonna make shit up."

Good luck with that plan, PT. Hope you can make it stick through the length of your life.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:09 PM on May 12, 2006


Many people don't think forced abortions are evil.

???

China has forced abortions.

Ah, I see. Well. Let me check if the Department for the REOTO is still open... yes, it is, and here is what they have to say on the matter: China is not a democracy and the enforced demographic control policy that includes forced abortion and sterilisations has its own internal opposition as well as being practically universally condemned as a human rights abuse.

Nice try conflating a human rights issue with contraception.

Next, may I suggest a little casual analogy with genocide? Just to make the argument against contraception even more logically rigorous and coherent, like.
posted by funambulist at 5:12 PM on May 12, 2006


That's a great question, but not one I need to be able to answer in order to see that contraception is evil. All I need to be able to do is to see that the body does have a natural language, and that the marital act has a natural meaning (something like "I'm all for you").

PT, surely you don't think this passes for the rational argument you alluded to earlier? You're still just making bald assertions. How is it that you can determine that the body has an objective language, and that the marital act is meant to communicate "I'm all for you?" Completely putting aside the issue of whether contraceptions "give lie" to that act while NFP does not. How can this assertion be justified besides theologically? You've yet to explain this.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:12 PM on May 12, 2006


zoogleplex: the social consensus drives government - that is, public - policy.

You seem to have forgotten that we live in a pluralistic society, and have taken steps to insure that majorities do not trample on the rights of minorities. There have to be constraints on the principle that "consensus drives policy".

I keep coming back to this point: this is not an argument about whether the government will allow people to use contraception. It is an argument about whether the government will use its coercive power to promote contraception. Several people have claimed that I am literally "insane" because I don't think this is a legitimate government function.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:16 PM on May 12, 2006


You seem to have forgotten that we live in a pluralistic society, and have taken steps to insure that majorities do not trample on the rights of minorities. There have to be constraints on the principle that "consensus drives policy".

PT, you're dodging the point. We've already established that contraceptive education is sound policy because it's in the public's best interest because it reduces the rates of unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and abortions. You didn't disagree with that before.

Several people have claimed that I am literally "insane" because I don't think this is a legitimate government function.


Questions about your mental state are much more likely to be prompted by the fact that you seem completely oblivious to (in fact, willing to engage in long-winded rationalizations in order to ignore) the glaring logical inconsistencies in your positions; meanwhile you promote those same positions with an air of self-righteousness.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:20 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van: How can this assertion be justified besides theologically?

Huh? What are you talking about? Most people are able to look at the marital act and recognize that it has a natural meaning along the lines of "I'm all for you". Some people (not enough) go on from there to recognize that contraception involves saying something with your body that you don't actually mean, and thus is a kind of lie. And then there are those, like you, who most certainly are _not_ in the majority on this matter, who freak out at this talk of a "language of the body" and deny that the marital act could possibly have any natural meaning because all meaning is arbitrary and all that other bullshit.

Where does theology enter into this discussion?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:21 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van: We've already established that contraceptive education is sound policy because it's in the public's best interest because it reduces the rates of unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and abortions.

That doesn't establish that it is sound policy, any more than the benefits of forced abortion establish that forced abortion would be sound policy.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:22 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van: the glaring logical inconsistencies in your positions

Why don't you take some time, and try to lay out some of the "glaring logical inconsistencies". Not in a rant, but just a list. I know a thing or two about logic and the nature of consistency, and I'm starting to think you don't.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:24 PM on May 12, 2006


Most people are able to look at the marital act and recognize that it has a natural meaning along the lines of "I'm all for you".

So that's all you've got? This is your idea of reason? A weak appeal to common sense? You haven't proven anything.

Where does theology enter into this discussion?

That's the only place your whole "language of the body" bit comes from. It's not an objective reality at all. The long Catholic explanation that you quoted earlier didn't seem ambiguous at all about whether or not its arguments were religiously-derived; so how come you are?
posted by ludwig_van at 5:25 PM on May 12, 2006


The conversation, wrt "language of the body" has taken a distinctly bizarre twist now.

Ok, someone wanted pictures, right? Then this is the right moment.



Don't blame me, blame google. There's also this, which is a LOT sexier.
posted by funambulist at 5:26 PM on May 12, 2006


That doesn't establish that it is sound policy, any more than the benefits of forced abortion establish that forced abortion would be sound policy.

You're wrong, and your analogy is invalid. If we were talking about forced contraception, you might be making sense. But we're talking about education. Why are you so afraid of education? Since contraceptive education has shown itself to be beneficial to society, it is good policy. If you want to make the argument that it is not actually benefitting society by reducing unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and abortions, then please do so. If
not, stop arguing this point.

Why don't you take some time, and try to lay out some of the "glaring logical inconsistencies".

1) You believe in the separation of Church and state and individual freedom.
2) Your assertion that contraception is evil only has validity within a specific religious context.
3) You don't disagree that contraceptive education is beneficial for society.
4) You don't think public schools should offer contraceptive education.

Something doesn't add up there, PT.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:30 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van: This is your idea of reason? A weak appeal to common sense? You haven't proven anything.

You haven't been reasoning about moral questions very long if you think the criterion for a successful argument is whether you convince those who are determined to disagree with you. Being able to link up my views about contraception to commonsense views about the language of the body strikes me as a significantly better result than is usually achieved in discussions about controversial moral questions. In my experience, many people who initially regard criticism of contraception as absurd or unintelligible find that discussion of the language of the body goes a long way toward at least making the criticisms make sense, even if they don't ultimately agree with them.

Aristotle famously said that it was a big mistake to expect the same kind of proof in ethics as in geometry. You seem to have adopted the stance that unless I can force you to agree with me, I will have failed. That's not how moral disagreements have ever worked, and in any case my goal has never been to force you to agree with me.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:37 PM on May 12, 2006


1) You believe in the separation of Church and state and individual freedom.

Yes.

2) Your assertion that contraception is evil only has validity within a specific religious context.

Bullshit.

3) You don't disagree that contraceptive education is beneficial for society.

I don't grant that it has an overall preponderance of benefits, but I am willing to grant for the sake of argument that it has some benefits. A policy of forced abortion would also have some benefits, or there wouldn't be governments that adopt such policies.

4) You don't think public schools should offer contraceptive education.

Right. And the "glaring logical inconsistencies" you were going to point out are? What exactly?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:40 PM on May 12, 2006


The idea that the "marital act" has any "natural meaning" is nothing short of laughable. Only humans get married. Therefore, marriage is wholly artificial. Therefore, it can have no "natural meaning". His entire "language of the body" argument -- an argument which is based solely, entirely, completely and only on Catholic dogma, putting the lie to the idea that it can be arrived at by mere reason.

Irrational and full of shit. And insane.
posted by solid-one-love at 5:43 PM on May 12, 2006


solid-one-love: Only humans get married. Therefore, marriage is wholly artificial.

That doesn't follow.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:45 PM on May 12, 2006


"All I need to be able to do is to see that the body does have a natural language, and that the marital act has a natural meaning (something like "I'm all for you")."

Well, "the marital act" has lots of other "natural" meanings among humans, too; meanings like "I think you're hot, I'm horny and would like to have sex with you, but I really don't want to get to know you" or "Hurrr, you look like prime breeding stock for my DNA, let's do it" or, sadly, "I must fuck you whether you like it or not, because I need to dominate you and assuage my hate." There are many others as well.

In the rest of Nature, sex is pretty much about one thing: breeding. The meaning you're advancing is anything BUT natural; it's an artificial meaning created specifically by you in your own head.

"Most people are able to look at the marital act and recognize that it has a natural meaning along the lines of "I'm all for you"."

You are flat wrong about this.

"You seem to have forgotten that we live in a pluralistic society, and have taken steps to insure that majorities do not trample on the rights of minorities. There have to be constraints on the principle that "consensus drives policy"."

In fact I haven't forgotten that at all! Your rights are not impinged upon in any way by public policy providing information to people about contraception - and I've already asserted that I'm fine with you getting a break on your taxes so you personally don't have to pay for such education. Others in this thread have shot down your idea that contraceptives are being provided by the public school organizations themselves. So, as pertains to me personally, you have no argument here.

This is indeed a pluralistic society, which means that I must accept that you life your life the way you see fit - and you must accept the same for me. As far as I can tell, you do not; you have scenarios in your head under which your way of life would be the one that I'd be forced to live, and you're fine with that.

Again: I have no wish to interfere with your way of life and your right to follow it. Nor do I have a wish to have public policy interfere with it. I don't believe any of the other posters here wish this to happen either.

From what I can see, no public policy here in America interferes with your way of life (apart from your objections about your tax money, which I've addressed).

"It is an argument about whether the government will use its coercive power to promote contraception."

Promoting contraception is entirely different from forcing people to use contraception. "Promoting" contraception is like promoting soft drinks. People don't have to drink soft drinks, and plenty of them don't. In fact, due to legitimate and scientifically-backed health concerns, the government - that is, public policy, the will of the people - will soon be restricting the promotion of soft drinks in schools. This is for the public good, wouldn't you say? Healthier kids, that's good!

Nobody is forcing kids to use birth control. Nobody is stopping you from teaching or even indoctrinating your own children against its use. Nobody is even stopping you from going out and talking to every family in your town about your objections to birth control.

You, on the other hand, would like to force everyone to not use birth control. You are the coercer here, sir.

"That doesn't establish that it is sound policy, any more than the benefits of forced abortion establish that forced abortion would be sound policy."

Boggles me. So, you're saying higher rates of unwanted pregnancies, STDs and cervical cancer are good for the public?

Do you understand that there could be conditions where, however horrific and repugnant it would be to any of us, forced abortions might indeed be sound public policy? They would be extreme and ghastly, but it is theoretically possible that such a heinous practice would be better overall than allowing unrestricted birth? Ghah... turns my stomach just thinking about it. :(

"Being able to link up my views about contraception to commonsense views about the language of the body strikes me as a significantly better result than is usually achieved in discussions about controversial moral questions."

That's because you're irrational.

"In my experience, many people who initially regard criticism of contraception as absurd or unintelligible find that discussion of the language of the body goes a long way toward at least making the criticisms make sense, even if they don't ultimately agree with them."

That's probably because they're irrational, too. Most humans are, which is why our world is such a mess.

FFF: "I think I'm going to start worshipping zoogleplex."

Uh, thanks, but no thanks. I already got reamed by KirkJobSluder in a science-type thread, where he thought I should start a cult of "science believers," likening that to any other religious fundamentalism. That's the last thing I would ever want; human beings cannot accept worship, or even power over other humans, without being corrupted, and I'm no exception. Worship is for God and God only. :)

Be happy to call you my friend, though. I have similar admiration for your own posts, for as long as I've been reading them. :)

PT can and will have a happy life, within his limits, and I none of us should begrudge that.

That said, I think we all agree that attempts by PT and those like him to control our lives should be resisted with every last ounce of effort possible.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:46 PM on May 12, 2006


You seem to have adopted the stance that unless I can force you to agree with me, I will have failed.

Wrong. You claimed that you had an argument based on reason rather than theology. This is your justification for describing contraceptive education as "immoral," which is the lynchpin of your argument.

You have consistently failed to provide any sort of rational argument. Your entire argument boils down to a bald assertion - that everyone agrees on this whole "language of the body" idea and on the meaning you assign to sex in particular; and to a logical fallacy, since your assertion is that because it's a common idea it must be true. Your argument is non-existent by any standard.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:47 PM on May 12, 2006


Well said, ludwig_van.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:50 PM on May 12, 2006


zoogleplex: I think we all agree that attempts by PT and those like him to control our lives

I am not trying to control your life. I don't want to control your life. But the fact that you are in the majority doesn't give you the right to use the government to promote your perverted agenda.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:53 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van: your assertion is that because it's a common idea it must be true

That's obviously not what I have asserted.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:54 PM on May 12, 2006


zooglex, if private parties want to use their money to promote contraception, they are well within their rights. That isn't what this dispute is about.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:56 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van, I'm still waiting for those "glaring logical inconsistencies".
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:57 PM on May 12, 2006


That's obviously not what I have asserted.

No? Then what is your assertion, exactly? What is your rational argument for the existence of this "objective language of the body" which can be reliably understood to indicate that contraception (but not natural family planning) is a lie, and therefore immoral, and therefore evil? Please explain how you arrive at this conclusion, if not by the bandwagon fallacy and if not by appeal to religion.

And also, if that's not what you mean to say, stop saying things like:

Being able to link up my views about contraception to commonsense views about the language of the body strikes me as a significantly better result than is usually achieved in discussions about controversial moral questions.

And then there are those, like you, who most certainly are _not_ in the majority on this matter, who freak out at this talk of a "language of the body" and deny that the marital act could possibly have any natural meaning because all meaning is arbitrary and all that other bullshit.

posted by ludwig_van at 6:00 PM on May 12, 2006


That doesn't follow.

it follows precisely. But, again, I am not surprised that you do not understand the meanings of simple words like "artificial" and "natural". I no longer think that you pretend not to understand. You so clearly have no clue.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:01 PM on May 12, 2006


ludwig_van, I'm still waiting for those "glaring logical inconsistencies".

I already laid them out for you and you haven't responded. I'm being very straightforward with you, and you keep trying to sidetrack the argument. Your objections are all subjective and religiously-derived, and yet you claim they are objective and rationally derived. However, you haven't provided more than a shred of rationale, and what you have offered was demonstrably fallacious. Your position has no internal consistancy and you're being disingenous about it.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:03 PM on May 12, 2006


Private parties are not the ones ultimately responsible for of public health.

Out of curiosity, though, I guess that means you would be ok with allowing said private parties to present information in schools, at their own expense, no tax dollars, just their own privately acquired funds through donations or sponsors?

(Note: not saying that I believe that would be what should be done, as I don't believe a government should abdicate its public health responsibilities and pass them to private organisations, just wondering if your objection is really on the tax part).

Btw, still not addressing the difference between coercion and providing information, amongst other things. Repeating words like perverted is not a substitute.
posted by funambulist at 6:05 PM on May 12, 2006


solid-one-love, humans are the only animals that have sex out of estrous. Therefore having sex out of estrous is artificial. Great argument there. Not.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:05 PM on May 12, 2006


funambulist, do you think schools should teach people how to build powerful bombs out of household items? It's just information!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:07 PM on May 12, 2006


... also, what about the parents who are perfectly fine with sex ed in schools? Why should they and their children be deprived of this information just because you want your kids to be deprived of it? I mean, the nerve in talking about coercion here...
posted by funambulist at 6:07 PM on May 12, 2006


solid-one-love, humans are the only animals that have sex out of estrous.

Uh, it's "estrus". Estrus refers only to females, explicitly does not refer to humans, and the point you're trying to make -- that no animal has sex when not in heat -- is just wrong, regardless.

You are amazingly ignorant.

Not only that, but estrus has nothing to do with marriage! It's a complete red herring! If you can find a species other than humans that gets married, then I may concede that marriage is natural rather than purely artificial.

Therefore having sex out of estrous is artificial.

Not only wrong, but a further red herring, since you explicitly referred to "the marital act" as a subset of sexual activity. I have shown you in an iron-clad fashion how the 'marital act' cannot be natural.

Better read your bible, Chuckles. I don't think you have enough years left in your life to atone for the lies you've told in this thread alone. You gonna burn.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:15 PM on May 12, 2006


do you think schools should teach people how to build powerful bombs out of household items

Ah, knowing how to build bombs being exactly like knowing about contraception eh?

Cool, then the genocide analogy must surely be next! I'm very flattered you've taken my suggestion about rigorous coherent argument so seriously, peeping!

It's also awe-inspiring to see you being so evasive, awfully selective in responding to comments, putting yourself and your like-minded in the persecuted by government camp, talking about taxes as extortion and always going back to repeating the perversion mantra while claiming to be arguing from reason rather than religion. It's a lot of fun but it's terribly repetitive as well.

I really hope your chosen method of contraception works, in the public interest of your fellow citizens. Good luck!
posted by funambulist at 6:19 PM on May 12, 2006


Metafilter: I don't think you have enough years left in your life to atone for the lies you've told in this thread alone. You gonna burn.

sorry, but that was just too cool
posted by funambulist at 6:21 PM on May 12, 2006


solid-one-love writes "Not only that, but estrus has nothing to do with marriage! It's a complete red herring! If you can find a species other than humans that gets married, then I may concede that marriage is natural rather than purely artificial."

I thought that he was just using the term "the marital act" as a polite (oblique?) way to refer to coitus?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:23 PM on May 12, 2006


In fucking my wife during her infertile period, I am not trying to achieve not having a child. I am trying to achieve loving my wife, and have judged that this is a propitious time for doing so.

But you judged the time to be the best based on your "family planning" to NOT have a child. Your choice of timing is designed for the purpose of trying not to have children. You are contradicting yourself. Period.

Or are you going to now claim that you DON'T stop fucking her when her fertile period comes around?

"I will fuck my wife, utilizing [x] to do my best to not have children."
1. NFP
2. Condom
3. Pill

All three exist for the same purpose. They allow all levels of emotional intimacy while doing the best possible job to avoid offspring from the particular union. One uses a physical barrier, one chemical-based, and one time-based.

NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING IS A TIME-BASED CONTRACEPTIVE! NO AMOUNT OF "DANCING" AROUND THE ISSUE IS CAPABLE OF CHANGING THIS FACT. ANY CATHOLIC WHO USES NFP IS NOT FOLLOWING CHURCH DOCTRINE ON STRICT CONTRACEPTIVE AVOIDANCE, AND BY THEIR OWN STANDARDS IS COMMITTING A SIN.
posted by mystyk at 6:23 PM on May 12, 2006


Oh man, how did I miss this phrase the first time around?

In fucking my wife during her infertile period, I am not trying to achieve not having a child.

You're "not trying to achieve not having a child." Wow. That is one hidiculous (hilarious/ridiculous) specimen of semantic wrangling.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:26 PM on May 12, 2006


"But the fact that you are in the majority doesn't give you the right to use the government to promote your perverted agenda."

Ah, the teeth are bared. I can almost hear you spit the word "perverted" at me.

The majority does, in fact, have the right in America to keep minority opinions which the majority finds to be inappropriate to the public good from becoming the law of the land.

You are entitled to your opinion, entitled to shout about it to anyone you know, and even to try to convince enough people to your side to make it a majority opinion! Go ahead! But we are entitled to resist your opinion, especially when it's plain that it's against the common good to let it become policy.

But that doesn't mean we have to let you do it. This country protects minority rights, not minority opinions. Deal with it.

Actually, I believe people like you are perverted and even evil; I might have the opinion that you should be institutionalized and treated as a mental patient. However, I'm not going to try to make that public policy, because that would infringe upon your human rights rather appallingly. Fortunately, we still have (I think) social methods for dealing with people like you, which is to attack your position with rational logic and quantifiable evidence.

If I throw in a bit of ridicule, well... I'm only human, and I'm a sinner. I hope you can forgive. When I say you're irrational and narcissistic, I'm trying my best do do it without rancor. I may fail in that respect.

That "my agenda" is "perverted" is your subjective opinion, which you're allowed to have. However, your subjective opinion can be ignored by the majority, since in terms of quantifiable measures of public benefit, what you want would be a disaster for society.

By objective and quantifiable measures of public benefit, "my agenda" is a good thing and will help society in numerous ways. If you don't believe that, you might want to study countries around the world where birth control is hard to get, not the subject of any public education, or just flat out illegal, and see how well they're doing.

Also, you seem to forget that in the US, at least for now, the "government" means "the People of the United States." We don't have a king (yet, I hope); public policy is not being made arbitrarily (I hope). Part of the government's job is to administer to the public health based on quantifiable measures of that health - we've elected to give it that responsibility, created various Departments of Health, and most people are fine with that. We oversee that responsibility through our representatives, in theory. And the result of this government job has been greatly positive for the health and well-being of all of us.

In this case, the majority can indeed rule and ignore the minority. Your Constitutional rights of freedom of expression and religion are not being infringed, though you keep claiming that they are. You are wrong.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:27 PM on May 12, 2006


(actually, mystik, the CC does indeed endorse so-called "natural" family planning, which is just one of their contradictory stances)
posted by funambulist at 6:32 PM on May 12, 2006


The Catholic Church has always been pro-rhythm method, haven't they? Works great, huh? ;)

Y'know, I've been going off in this thread without saying that I and one of my ex-girlfriends - who was Catholic - used what was pretty much NFP, plus coitus interruptus, and we were completely successful with it. She had a very very regular period and more-obvious-than-most signs of ovulation. Of course, we weren't married,

So let it not be said that I feel NFP is an invalid technique of birth control. It certainly can work, in some cases!

I don't recommend it for everyone, however. I much prefer the newer technological methods.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:42 PM on May 12, 2006


"Educating people about the truth" == "Perversion"

This is a perfectly common religious stance, completely derived from the fact that religions don't want their constituents completely informed. When that happens, they start thinking for themselves. Then they become hard to control.

PT views education of contraception as a perversion because he doesn't want people to grow up being able to decide whether they agree with him, he wants them to have his opinion be the only one they get presented with.
posted by mystyk at 7:02 PM on May 12, 2006


Oh and:

"solid-one-love, humans are the only animals that have sex out of estrous."

This is not true. Ever hear of bonobos? Dolphins, too. You can dump that idea from your mind-set.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:06 PM on May 12, 2006


Oh, and don't get me wrong. He may genuinely believe that contraception itself is a perversion. That's a different component of the overall picture we see here. I'm only referring now to education of it, which is all the public schools are doing.

PT, are you finding your "flock" getting hard to control as they actually use their "god given" minds and "god given" free will?

"Ah, LoneStar. Now you see that Evil will always triumph because Good is dumb." The evil ones in this conversation can be easily identified. They're the ones who intentionally want the rest dumb so they can run things with ease.
posted by mystyk at 7:08 PM on May 12, 2006


"PT views education of contraception as a perversion because he doesn't want people to grow up being able to decide whether they agree with him, he wants them to have his opinion be the only one they get presented with."

Yes, mystyk. This is clear evidence of the narcissism to which I've been referring.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:08 PM on May 12, 2006


funambulist, do you think schools should teach people how to build powerful bombs out of household items? It's just information!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:07 PM PST on May 12


They already do. Any sharp, curious kid can figure out how to make both explosives and poisonous gases with the knowledge of chemistry that a basic education provides. I know because I was one of them. Yet, somehow, there aren't legions of kids blowing up buildings and poisoning their teachers across the nation.

Besides, the information you hate so much - "Here is how to protect yourself if you decide to have sex; also, don't have sex" - is a good thing. I don't know why you think ignorance is going to protect someone from STDs.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:14 PM on May 12, 2006


Those of you who think my views on contraception are insane should acknowledge that no argument that doesn't persuade you that contraception is wrong could ever succeed in persuading you that opposition to contraception isn't insane. This is unfortunate for you, because it doesn't allow you to acknowledge that there are people who see things differently than you do, yet are not insane.

I certainly don't regard support for contraception as insane, even though I do see it as profoundly wrong and harmful for people! I said earlier in this thread that I'm a relativist about rationality but not about truth. Those of you who insist that my views are "insane" would do well to consider what your views about pluralism really are. There have been accusations of "narcissism" flying around here, but you have to wonder about the level of narcissism of a group of people who insist on calling "insane" those with whom they have deep-seated disagreements.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:45 PM on May 12, 2006


because it doesn't allow you to acknowledge that there are people who see things differently than you do, yet are not insane

Ah, the fallacy of generalization. Old and tired when I first heard it as a child, and still only used by children.

but you have to wonder about the level of narcissism of a group of people

No, we don't. About twenty times you have trotted out the old "you should examine what's wrong with you if you call me and people like me insane or narcissistic or whatever" canard.

And it has not been compelling even once. Partly because you're nuttier than a filbert tree in September.
posted by solid-one-love at 7:59 PM on May 12, 2006


There's no rational basis to your opposition to contraception, only a religiously-based moral opinion. Your opposition is irrational, as are a number of your other opinions.

"Insane" and "irrational" don't always necessarily mean the same thing.

I don't think you're certifiable and an immediate danger to society or anything, but I do think you have dangerously irrational points of view, that's all.

OK I'm going home now. Have a good night, all.
posted by zoogleplex at 8:03 PM on May 12, 2006


Bizarre. Simply and purely bizarre, all of it.

Zoogle, you're off the hook for worship, then.

PT, I hope you have a great time fucking your wife during all her non-fertile periods, and I hope you accomplish your goal of not having any children.

Me, I'm going to log out, watch some comedy news shows, have a hot tub, and go to bed.

Peace out, y'all.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:50 PM on May 12, 2006


# A 30% chance of birth complications with real risk to my wife's survival of which the doctor informed us.
# The very real likelyhood that we would not be able to financially support the child.
# The knowledge of how difficult separation would be if adoption were permitted.
# The trouble in dealing with her traditional family, which would disown her for a child not aborted that was born or conceived out of wedlock.


Those are all lame excuses, if you really belive abortion is "morally wrong".
posted by delmoi at 11:17 PM on May 12, 2006


He's so polite. But he keeps judging others and using the word perversion. It's the two things together that make it super creepy. Oh that's terrible of me to say. But so true. Is this really the face of the Catholic Church?
posted by cytherea at 3:14 AM on May 13, 2006


Those of you who think my views on contraception are insane should acknowledge that no argument that doesn't persuade you that contraception is wrong could ever succeed in persuading you that opposition to contraception isn't insane.

You're deceiving yourself, PT. Your position has been shown to lack internal consistency. Your argument is not rational. You were given many opportunities to make your case, and you failed. You consistently dodged direct questions and gave dishonest replies. Your attempts to externalize the blame do nothing to make your reasoning any more sound. If you can respond to the arguments made against you, do so. Otherwise, stop making desperate excuses.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:17 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, you still haven't pointed out any "glaring logical inconsistencies". It should be easy to list what they are. Simple numbered propositions will do nicely, thanks very much.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:20 AM on May 13, 2006


Although, PT has given me a renewed appreciation for the capacity of the human mind to concoct absurd justifications for irrational beliefs. "By not fucking my wife, I'm not trying to achieve not having a child" is quite brilliant.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:21 AM on May 13, 2006


zoogleplex, the sense in which you are using the word "irrational" is a peculiar one. In the sense in which you are using it, most people's beliefs about most things will turn out to be irrational. In particular, any opinions about morality other than straightforward moral nihilism will turn out to be irrational.

I don't have a problem with you using the word in this sense, but you should just acknowledge that pretty much everyone's moral beliefs, including the ones on which our society operates, will turn out to be irrational.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:23 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, you still haven't pointed out any "glaring logical inconsistencies". It should be easy to list what they are. Simple numbered propositions will do nicely, thanks very much.

Actually I've done that several times already and you keep ignoring it in order to keep the argument going in circles. But hey, I'll explain it again, for your sake, although I'm not saying anything new.

1) You believe in the separation of church and state.
2) You don't disagree that contraceptive education provides tangible benefits the public.
3) You've failed to make the case for contraception being immoral outside of a religious context.
4) You don't think public schools should provide contraceptive education.

Same problems as before, PT. Last time you disagreed with premise 3. I challenged you again to make your case, and again you failed, providing nothing more than an unsubstantiated assertion and a bandwagon appeal, and then denying that's what you did. If you can do better than that, go for it. If not, give it a rest, because I'm getting tired of treading over the same ground.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:26 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, I've been holding this back, but I have to say it: you're an idiot. Not only is what I said about not trying to achieve not having a child not "quite brilliant," it's the sort of thing you would have heard about in an introductory ethics course if you had taken an interest in how people other than yourself think about the world. You show no interest in how anyone but yourself thinks about things.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:26 AM on May 13, 2006


1) You believe in the separation of church and state.

Yes.

2) You don't disagree that contraceptive education provides tangible benefits the public.

So would lots of crazy policies.

3) You've failed to make the case for contraception being immoral outside of a religious context.

No I haven't.

4) You don't think public schools should provide contraceptive education.

Right.

And where again is the contradiction?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:27 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, you think "failed to make the case for X outside of a religious context" is equivalent to "failed to persuade ludwig_van".
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:28 AM on May 13, 2006


"glaring logical inconsistencies". Idiot.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:29 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, you think "failed to make the case for X outside of a religious context" is equivalent to "failed to persuade ludwig_van".

Jesus fucking Christ, do you get tired of saying the same things? You're not actually trying to make an argument, are you? You're just trying to continually deflect me from showing why you're wrong so you never have to acknowledge your failure.

No, it is not equivalent to "failed to persuade ludwig_van." It is equivalent to "failed to make any argument whatsoever."

Most religious people don't have trouble understanding that their religious mores may not necessarily be universal. It's extremely perplexing to me why you can't understand that contraception is not objectively, universally immoral. If you could admit to this then you could go on thinking it was immoral, I could go on thinking it was moral, and we'd have a peaceful, pluralistic society.

And yet you continually claim that it is in fact objectively, universally immoral, and that you arrived at this conclusion rationally rather than religiously. And yet when challenged, you have been unable to offer any rationale.

Either provide a coherent argument, or admit that you're wrong about the universal, objective immorality of contraception. Stop fucking around; it's gotten old.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:34 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, I've already provided such arguments. You have not shown that they are religious arguments. You apparently think that unless you are persuaded by a moral argument, the conclusion of the argument is insane, or irrational, or whatever.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:37 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, I've already provided such arguments.

No, you haven't. I don't get it; are you counting on the fact that I'm retarded or something? Do you think that I don't remember what you've said earlier? Your argument for the immorality of contraception is thus:

1) There is a natural, objective language of the body
2) In this language, the act of sex is meant to communicate "I am all for you"
3) The act of contraception (but not Natural Family Planning) makes sex into a lie
4) Therefore contraception is immoral

Every single premise is 100% bullshit. Completely irrational. Completely unjustifiable. The only defense you've offered is that "everyone would agree with you." First, no, everyone would not agree with you. Second, trying to prove your argument by saying that everyone would agree is a logical fallacy.

That's all you've provided in the way of argument. Therefore, you have failed. It's not because you haven't forced me to agree with you; it's because you're wrong.

You're dishonest and have a poor grasp of rhetoric. I've given you far more benefit of the doubt than you deserve. You have repeatedly and utterly failed to make a coherent, reality-based argument despite being given more than ample opportunity. Now you've obviously gone into extreme desperation mode because you're just repeating yourself. I've got nothing more to say to you if you have nothing new to offer. You truly are an impressive example of doublethink in action.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:46 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, you are confusing "I don't agree with it" and "it's completely irrational". All three premises of the argument you recited are reasonable, and in fact they are all true. I don't claim that "everyone" acknowledges the truth of all three premises. But it is possible to recognize these three premises as true without appeal to religious premises, hence the argument is not religious.

As I said before, you will not accept as evidence of the rationality of my views any argument that does not persuade you that my views are true. That is not a reasonable standard in a pluralistic society.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:08 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, you are confusing "I don't agree with it" and "it's completely irrational".

You've already said this. You're wrong. "I don't agree with it" and "it's completely irrational" are both true. What rational argument are you under the impression that you've made?

I don't claim that "everyone" acknowledges the truth of all three premises. But it is possible to recognize these three premises as true without appeal to religious premises

This is false. If it were true, you have not demonstrated as much. You're simply asserting that it's true and then claiming that you've made a rational argument for its truth.

Sophistry and repetition is all you've got.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:31 AM on May 13, 2006


Also, the long article which you quoted, from http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0002.html, didn't seem to be confused about the fact that it was making a specifically Catholic argument rather than some kind of objective, universal one. I'm really perplexed as to why you can't understand that, except that perhaps you've realized that to admit as much would cause your entire argument to crumble, and so you just stubbornly refuse to acknowledge it.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:34 AM on May 13, 2006


MetaFilter: By not fucking each other, we're not trying to achieve not having children.

In other news: I am not my body.

Earlier in this thread PT made some claims about his body. I can't be arsed to track it down, but it was to the effect that his physical body is essential to his self, and must be resurrected or all is for naught.

The topic of the mind/body duality has been done to death by some of the most brilliant minds in philosophy. The Mind's Eye is a compilation of essays exploring the nature of the mind and body.

Thought experiment time, kids! If you lose a finger to the tablesaw, have you lost your essential self? Of course not: you are not your finger.

Those of us who are bright will have already chased that thought to its natural end, losing bits and pieces of the body along the way, and ultimately discovering that certainly no body part below the neck is one's self.

One can play the same game with brain injuries, and come up with the same result: there appears to be no one place above the neck that contains one's self.

The book contains a dozen other approaches to the same topic (brain transplant! beam-me-up transporters! replicators!), and they inevitably come to the same conclusion:

Our bodies contain us. Our bodies provide us a physical existance. Our bodies even affect our perception of our value and ability. But our bodies do not define our essential "self." We are not our bodies.

The Mind's Eye. Well worth reading.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 AM on May 13, 2006


Your argument for the immorality of contraception is thus:

1) There is a natural, objective language of the body
2) In this language, the act of sex is meant to communicate "I am all for you"
3) The act of contraception (but not Natural Family Planning) makes sex into a lie
4) Therefore contraception is immoral

Every single premise is 100% bullshit.


Yup.

PT, please provide a bunch of good links to recognized and respected non-religious authors/philosophers/whatever that support your claims here.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 AM on May 13, 2006


peeping_Thomist: it is possible to recognize these three premises as true without appeal to religious premises

ludwig_van: If it were true, you have not demonstrated as much.

Of course I have. What I haven't done is compel you to recognize these premises as true. But there are plenty of non-religious people who can recognize (1) the existence of a language of the body, (2) what the natural meaning of the marital act is (something like "I'm all yours"), and (3) that contraception is a kind of lie. Not everyone who recognizes some of these premises recognizes the others, and not everyone who recognizes all of them goes on to draw the conclusion that contraception is wrong (because many people don't think that the fact that a speech act is a lie is conclusive proof that it is wrong), but religion just doesn't come into it. You are mistaken to keep claiming that it does.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2006


five_fresh_fish: Our bodies contain us.

That is indeed what dualists say. And it is false. But you don't hear me saying that dualists are irrational or insane. They're just wrong, not insane.

Let's be clear about this: this is not a dispute about whether contraception is or isn't wrong. It's a dispute about where the people in this forum get off calling insane people who think contraception is wrong.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2006


Our bodies contain us.

Vice versa.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2006


Of course I have.

No, you haven't. If you had, you'd present an argument instead of continually saying "yes I have" or "just because I haven't forced you to agree with me doesn't mean I'm wrong."

But there are plenty of non-religious people who can recognize (1) the existence of a language of the body, (2) what the natural meaning of the marital act is (something like "I'm all yours"), and (3) that contraception is a kind of lie.


Once again this is the bandwagon fallacy. Asserting that there are "plenty of non-religious people who can recognize my premises" does not support or prove your premises.

For the last time, PT: your argument that contraception is immoral, which is based on your "natural language of the body" concept, may have validity within a Catholic framework. I'm not Catholic, and I really don't care. But it has no validity outside that Catholic framework. The only argument you've provided in disagreement with this is that "plenty of non-religious people recognize it." To repeat the same objections I've been making in the last 20 or so posts:

1) I don't believe you that lots of people recognize these premises. Continually saying it's true doesn't make it true.
2) Even if a lot of people really did believe these premises, that fact alone would not make them valid premises.

Your argument is fallacious. Stop trying to make this about me. It has nothing to do with me setting the standard too high or refusing to acknowledge something that you've sad. It has everything to do with the fact that your argument is deeply flawed, and therefore your position is internally inconsistent.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:33 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van: Once again this is the bandwagon fallacy. Asserting that there are "plenty of non-religious people who can recognize my premises" does not support or prove your premises.

Of course it's not the bandwagon fallacy. You claimed that my premises were only acceptable in a religious context. The fact that many non-religious people accept them is conclusive evidence that what you said is not true. Deal with it.

Of course the fact that non-religious (or any) people believe these premises is not evidence that the premises are true! It's evidence that your claim about the premises is false.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:37 AM on May 13, 2006


Something that you've said, rather.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:39 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van, by the way, you are ignorant of what the Catholic Church teaches if you think that the Church teaches that the reasons against contraception are religious. The Church teaches that the wrongness of contraception is part of what is called the "natural law" that can be known by all human beings, without having to rely on revelation.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:40 AM on May 13, 2006


Hang on a second, how is Catholicism, or any Christian denomination for that matter, or any major religion even, not inherently dualist? All that talk of soul and body and the need to control and subjugate the body's desires to God? For that matter, the concept of God/humanity itself, of submission to God's will, not dualist? What peculiar definition of dualism have I missed?
posted by funambulist at 9:43 AM on May 13, 2006


You claimed that my premises were only acceptable in a religious context. The fact that many non-religious people accept them is conclusive evidence that what you said is not true. Deal with it.

Of course the fact that non-religious (or any) people believe these premises is not evidence that the premises are true! It's evidence that your claim about the premises is false.


More pathetic sophistry.

My claim is not that one must be Catholic to believe in something that is not true, for example your reasoning for contraception being immoral. I would think that this is obvious. I could tell you right now that I believe that communion wafers are the physical body of Christ, but that wouldn't make me Catholic. I don't have to be a Catholic in order to believe that.

Of course, that's all utterly irrelevant to the point that your justification is completely false and fabricated.

There is no "natural language of the body" in which the sex act means "I'm all for you." Contraception does not make this into a lie and is not immoral. Contraception is in the public's best interests. Your objection to it is that it is immoral. This objection is based on premises that, while not necessarily religious in origin, are wholly subjective and unproveable.

Deal with it.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:44 AM on May 13, 2006


Hang on a second, how is Catholicism, or any Christian denomination for that matter, or any major religion even, not inherently dualist?

funambulist, I brought that up awhile ago and PT explained why he thought it didn't apply, but I don't think it's really all that relevant. Better to focus on the fundamental logical holes in his argument than get drawn into a debate about religious dogma, I think.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:48 AM on May 13, 2006


It's a dispute about where the people in this forum get off calling insane people who think contraception is wrong.

You wish, martyr complex. Firstly, most, if not all, of the people who have used "insanity" in relation to beliefs of the kind you espouse have not done so purely in relation to the bald statement of belief "contraception is wrong". They have done so in relation to the thoroughly irrational arguments you have used in your attempts to back up that statement. Now, holding an irrational argument is not by itself evidence of insanity or mental deficiency. Continuing to hold it in the face of having the utter fallaciousness of it clearly and repeatedly pointed out to you, arguably, is. Which is why you, and people like you, get called insane. Because your mental equipment is clearly wired in such a way that some of your key belief structures are impervious to reason, balance or perspective. Whilst the term "insane" carries a lot of weight that might make many people feel it excessive in such cases, it is defensible if one is using it in the sense of a person who demonstrates mental incapacity to the point at which it might reasonably be called "deficient".

Of course, the precise location of such a point on the sanity graph is a debatable thing. Are people who believe in UFOs insane? Are Rosicrucians beyond the point of insanity but Anglicans not? Are people who voted for Bush a second time insane or merely stupid? And so on. Debatable. But the reason "insanity" is being applied by some in this case is as explained above: they feel you've crossed a line of mental incapacity that at the very least marks one of the many boundaries of sanity.
posted by Decani at 9:52 AM on May 13, 2006


Oh come on, peeping, 'natural law' was the Church Fathers reworking of pre-christian philosophies for religious purposes, and how can what a church teaches not be grounded in religion! You don't seriously expect the teachings of any specific religion to be taken automatically as neutral, objective universal truth, just because they say it is, do you? What happens when you argue with someone from a different religion with different beliefs?

It's just too funny, all the silly semantics games you're employing here, it really is something to see such sustained dedicated sophistry.
posted by funambulist at 9:53 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig: oops, you're right, it was mentioned before, I just lost track by now! :)

It's just, you know, it strikes me as rather preposterous to claim that such a religion is not dualist, then again in peeping's view I guess dualist, like contraception or 'natural' or 'language of the body', can also be made to mean anything and its opposite.
posted by funambulist at 9:56 AM on May 13, 2006


Now, holding an irrational argument is not by itself evidence of insanity or mental deficiency. Continuing to hold it in the face of having the utter fallaciousness of it clearly and repeatedly pointed out to you, arguably, is.

Indeed. The next time you feel an urge to say "You're confusing 'my arguments are irrational' with 'I haven't forced you to agree with me,'" please re-read Decani's post until you understand.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:56 AM on May 13, 2006


Yeah but there's a difference between insane as in batshitinsane of a political/ideological view, and insane as mental illness and I for one don't like to equate the two. Contradiction, duplicity, denial, claims to authority, tautology, evasiveness, repetition, straw men, wild analogies, etc. - it's the tactics of people holding on to authoritarian beliefs as absolute self-evident unexaminable truths they want to impose on others (while claiming they're the ones wanting to avoid imposition from others, martyr complex indeed). I have too much sympathy for the certified insane to associate them with this sort of willful ideological deception.
posted by funambulist at 10:14 AM on May 13, 2006


And I'm still wondering how having kids will keep me from dying...
posted by agregoli at 10:19 AM on May 13, 2006


And I'm still wondering how having kids will keep me from dying...

Oh that. Just a bunch of handwaving about immortality through one's legacy I suspect.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:33 AM on May 13, 2006


It's a dispute about where the people in this forum get off calling insane people who think contraception is wrong.

I believe that this is entirely my fault, and I sincerely apologize, PT. Insane people are, IMO, those who are a threat to themselves or others, due to a mental disorder that is well beyond their control.

You are not insane, not by a long shot.

You are every bit as sane as the Time Cube dude, the Etheric Warriors, and the Hollow Earthers.

Which is to say I think you are delusional. But, heck, that's okay: you're not likely to harm yourself or others.

This entire thread has really been something else. I wonder if we can get Time Cube guy to join MeFi?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:37 AM on May 13, 2006


Decani: they feel you've crossed a line of mental incapacity that at the very least marks one of the many boundaries of sanity.

Right. And I know a thousand people who would say exactly the same thing about the people on this list. ("You'd have to be insane not to see that the body has a natural language! They're really just pretending they don't see it because they don't want to think through the consequences of acknowledging it!") And they'd be just as wrong-headed, offensive, and obnoxious as you all, and I have just as hard a time trying to persuade them not to call you insane.

Treating people with whom you disagree as though they are insane is a bad idea all around, no matter who's doing it. And even if there were contexts in which it were OK, it's not a luxury we can afford in a pluralistic society.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:40 AM on May 13, 2006


PinkStainlessTail: Just a bunch of handwaving about immortality through one's legacy

It's charming to see how you guys talk as though you were the first generation ever to think about these questions, and that the things people before you have thought and said about such matters couldn't possibly have anything to teach you about them. The....innocence of it all is quite impressive. Nietzsche truly is the philosopher of our age!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:44 AM on May 13, 2006


I just turned on Animal Planet, and there was a woman who dances with dogs (don't ask me what that's all about), and she was saying that the key to success is that "the dog reads your body language". How could such a thing be? The body doesn't have a language!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:57 AM on May 13, 2006


Yes, body language exists. No shit.

Please give us a primer on "the natural language of the body," with specific emphasis on all this "giving" and how it relates to copulation, and why contraceptives of all kinds short-circuit it, or stop fucking saying it; it's the most boring line of argument you've used thus far.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:59 AM on May 13, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: Please give us a primer on "the natural language of the body,"

Or else I'm insane, right? Fuck you.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:04 AM on May 13, 2006


Right. And I know a thousand people who would say exactly the same thing about the people on this list. ("You'd have to be insane not to see that the body has a natural language! They're really just pretending they don't see it because they don't want to think through the consequences of acknowledging it!")

So now your argument is that this "natural language" BS is just self-evident, huh? I'm not sure whether that's worse than asserting that it's true because lots of hypothetical people supposedly believe it. It's still not even close to a rational argument, though.

It's pretty funny that you can continue to be so smug when you still have yet to make any rational case whatsoever.

Also, you're making a false equivalency. Our argument is rational because it is based on reality; the reality that contraceptive education reduces occurences of STDs, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. Yours is irrational because it's based on a bunch of shit that someone made up and you can't seem to provide any support for other than repeatedly asserting that it's true.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:05 AM on May 13, 2006


ludwig_van: Our argument is rational because it is based on reality

That's great. It's not based on your values, or on your interpretation of reality, but it's based directly on reality. Pretty damn impressive. And, as I said, I know thousands of people who say that exact same thing about conclusions that you regard as insane. You are all (that is, both you and the people who agree with me and think you all are insane) failing to grapple with the most basic "reality" of our situation, which is radical pluralism. If you don't allow for a kind of relativism about rationality, your discussions with people with whom you disagree will be sterile and reduce to name-calling. Politically, that is a recipe for arbitrary uses of power in which "sane" majorities oppress "insane" minorities. Read some Foucault, asshole.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:11 AM on May 13, 2006


Or else I'm insane, right? Fuck you.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:04 AM PST on May 13


No, or else it's clear you don't want to participate in a honest discussion. The phrase "natural language of the body" makes no sense to me in that specific context, so please be so kind as to explain exactly what it's supposed to mean.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:14 AM on May 13, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: or else it's clear you don't want to participate in a honest discussion.

It's not an honest discussion when accusations about insanity are being thrown around. You guys are no better than people who hunted witches.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:15 AM on May 13, 2006


Peep, could you explain how the means by which you claim correctness differ from those of Time Cube guy?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2006


It's not an honest discussion when accusations about insanity are being thrown around. You guys are no better than people who hunted witches.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:15 AM PST on May 13


You call us perverse, we call you insane. Chill the fuck out and either give us a primer like I asked or stop talking about it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2006


five_fresh_fish, I'm not familiar with Time Cube Guy, but I'll take a stab at it: I'm appealing to features of experience that resonate with many people. Many people recognize that there's a natural language of the body. It's built into the ordinary way we talk about things. The idea that the marital act has a natural significance is also something that makes sense to lots of people. Many times people end up feeling betrayed by people with whom they've had sex, because they feel that the person said something with their bodies that they didn't mean. For example, many people would say that mystic and his girlfriend said with their bodies something they didn't mean, namely "we're prepared to receive the gift of human life!", with tragic results. Many people can recognize that contracepting is like promising something while crossing your fingers behind your back. ("I'm all for you, wink wink") And many people think that lies are wrong.

These are all commonly held views, though not everyone holds all (or even any) of them, and not everyone who holds all of them goes on to draw the conclusion that contraception is wrong. So I am appealing to a range of different features of common experience. Believe it or not, that's how moral argument typically works. The idea of moral arguments proceeding geometrically is an illusion. Nearly all of the objections people have raised here would work equally effectively (that is, not at all effectively), mutatis mutandis, against arguments for any substantive moral conclusion. Why should I recognize the claims of other people to dignity and respect? There's no compelling rational argument for that conclusion, in the sense of rational that you guys have in mind. But it doesn't stop you from calling me insane. You all should be ashamed.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2006


Why should I recognize the claims of other people to dignity and respect? There's no compelling rational argument for that conclusion, in the sense of rational that you guys have in mind.

Altruism and respect are selected for in many, many animals, but I'm guessing that you think that Intelligent Design is how the world works, so I'm not going to go there.

Many times people end up feeling betrayed by people with whom they've had sex, because they feel that the person said something with their bodies that they didn't mean.

You can't be betrayed when you agree upon the conditions beforehand and all parties abide by them.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:34 AM on May 13, 2006


But it doesn't stop you from calling me insane. You all should be ashamed.

Cram it, Mr. You're All Perverted. Don't act like you're some fucking angel.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:36 AM on May 13, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: You can't be betrayed when you agree upon the conditions beforehand and all parties abide by them.

That's one of the silliest things I've ever heard. You've never heard of exploitation? People in desperate situations often agree to exploitive conditions, and that doesn't deprive them of the right to feel betrayed after the fact.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:37 AM on May 13, 2006


Well, I'm off to go spend some quality time with my people, where I'll have to repeatedly intervene and tell them to stop calling you all insane! Have a great weekend!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:41 AM on May 13, 2006


Ugh. You can't be betrayed when you agree upon the conditions beforehand and all parties abide by them and no party has a problem with it after the fact, as is the case in my relationship, fff's, agregoli's, and every other person you've been railing against. You're looking for exploitation where it does not exist. Everyone is happy with their own situation, and here you come, the white knight, ready to let us all know, male and female alike, that's we're secretly deeply unhappy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:43 AM on May 13, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: Altruism and respect are selected for in many, many animals

By the way, surely you don't think this is an argument for why I should recognize the claims of others to dignity and respect. The most it could be is an explanation for why most people do recognize such claims. It wouldn't give you any leverage against someone not inclined to recognize such claims.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2006


Well, I'm off to go spend some quality time with my people, where I'll have to repeatedly intervene and tell them to stop calling you all insane! Have a great weekend!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:41 AM PST on May 13


We'll miss you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, I didn't say that anyone here had partners who felt betrayed. I said that sometimes people did feel betrayed after the fact, and that's true.

And now I'm really leaving. I'll check back tomorrow night to see if anything worthwhile has been added.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:45 AM on May 13, 2006


PT, You, sir, are incredibly full of shit. Yes, my argument is based on reality. The reality is that contraceptive education reduces rates of unwanted pregnancy, abortion, and STDs. You haven't disputed this yet, so I presume you agree with it. If that's the case, kindly shut the fuck up about it already.

Your argument is not based on reality. It is based on your personal moral conviction that many others do not share. You can insist all you want that this "natural body language" crap is self-evident, but it's not, and you have done absolutely nothing to support your assertion with a rational argument. You're insisting that your view of reality is the only correct one, and your view of reality seems pretty fucked up from where lots of other people are standing. Your insistence that both arguments are equally rational is blatantly false.

You're the one who is causing the strife in this pluralistic society, and yet all you're doing is complaining and accusing everyone else and arguing dishonestly and desperately clinging to inconsistent logic. That's why people think you're crazy. Now stop your goddamn whining.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:46 AM on May 13, 2006


peeping, body language is a common phrase for the way humans can express themselves through their body rather than words. Duh uh! Of course no one is denying such a thing exists. God it feels so stupid even having to say something so obvious.

You were using that phrase in quite a different way so stop swtiching meanings constantly. What you were saying there, and your long quote from that site, is that there's a 'natural language of the body' which requires that contraception is evil and denies the personhood because supposedly every sexual act must include the acceptance of the random possibility of pregnancy, a position contradicted by any conscious attempt to avoid pregnancy by any method, but supposedly "natural" family planning respects the 'language of the body' because, paraphrasing, it's seen as less invasive than a condom or pill, hence birkenstock hippies also practice it, it's seen as more respectful of the natural roles of man and women, of the nature of marital sex which is the only a-ok sex, it includes periods of abstinence which is like fasting, etc. I got it, ok? You don't have to repeat all that.

The thing, is, the jump to there from "humans can express themselves through body language that even dogs can 'read'" (and we don't need anyone on Animal Planet to tell us that, do we?) is a big jump that has only been put for as tautology. It is like that because the body language means contraception is against the natural wholesomeness of the body. It is like that because of a lot of premises of a religion that has a long tradition of obsessing over sexuality, condemning it as a sin unless it's between married man and woman, and incidentally, counting for its own survival and power on the numbers of followers which are drafted in as soon as born, hence, that position of opposing the safest contraceptive methods is hardly disinterested.

And all the "most people recognise" - well, actually most people including Catholics (over 90% of which support contraception if I recall right? US poll) recognise it's just more practical to have a more effective contraceptive method if you want to do family planning rather than one which is less effective, they don't see a difference in principle, only in practice.

The idea that the marital act has a natural significance is also something that makes sense to lots of people.

No shit, with "marital act" as euphemism for sex, and "natural significance" as another way of saying sex communicates at the very least reciprocal interest and attraction if not affection and love and so on. It'll be different for everyone and for every sex act, otherwise we'd all be robots. But yeah, an amazing discovery there, people who consensually engage in sex do so because they're into each other at some level and are communicating with each other through their body! Incredible!

Now, how is that supposed to prove the supposedly self-evident truth that contraception is perversion? Hint: switching from the obvious above defined Animal Planet-endorsed meaning of 'body language' to that Catholic quote of the phrase 'language of the body' to condemn contraception is not proof and is not an argument.

The whole position you support is just based on circular logic. Once the premise that trying to avoid pregnancy is ok is accepted, then all the distinctions between this method and the other are spurious, they're just made to uphold a particular religious conservative view of sexuality, that's all. That's the context in which "natural family planning" is advocated ideologically, as a policy, and the supposed birkenstock types who don't like latex or hormones are not trying to ban sex education in public schools. And that is the issue here. So let's not deny the obvious, please.
posted by funambulist at 12:10 PM on May 13, 2006


I am bookmarking this thread. I think I'll share it with a lot of people that I know.

One thing that People of the Lie (Amazon link above somewhere) says about narcissistic dominators, IIRC, is that they will do everything they can to twist every interaction that they have with everyone else into a power play, with them necessarily as the "victor." This would extend to manipulating a conversation via various rhetorical tricks and domination tactics, "draining energy" from the other party(ies), whether in the form of browbeating them around to the dominator's own view (achieving submission), or in the case of reasoned and indomitable disagreement, dragging out the exchange with every trick possible until the opposition is exhausted. Either way gives a feeling of victory and empowerment to the dominator.

Actually every human being does things like this to some extent, just not to this sort of extreme.

The book also marvels at the sheer uncreative boringness of the extreme version of narcissism... it's all the same, all the time. It makes no sense but every trick and device and tactic is repeated ad nauseam even when it doesn't work - and of course the fact that it doesn't work is never, ever acknowledged by the narcissist, because he or she is completely incapable of being wrong.

Anyway, I think almost 600 posts represents enough of our collective energy expended on peeping. He's not going to change his mind, and I think the demonstration of irrationality is abundantly clear to anyone who reads this, so I'd recommend we resist his kind via other methods and in different forums. I'd urge everyone to let this one go. It's a beautiful day outside! (Well, here in LA it is anyway...)
posted by zoogleplex at 12:28 PM on May 13, 2006


Here in the interior of BC, too.

PT, I know you're typing words and making sentences, but they make no sense. This whole "natural language of the body" silliness, for instance. It carries no meaning whatsoever. It is made-up nonsense that is directly comparable to that of the Time Cube guy.

And, again, I apologize sincerely for calling you insane. You have far too much functionality to warrant that label. I implore others to quit using the word, too.

However, I remain convinced that you are a deeply deluded man who has constructed a weird, wonderful, and completely flawed worldview.

But it brings you peace of some sort, so go at it, buddy. We only have a few short years of existence; it makes no difference what you believe in the long run.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:57 PM on May 13, 2006


Nietzsche truly is the philosopher of our age!

Who? We're the first generation ever to think about these questions, and the things people before us have thought and said about such matters couldn't possibly have anything to teach us about them.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:54 PM on May 13, 2006


Stop AIDS (possibly NSFW).
posted by homunculus at 9:41 AM on May 14, 2006


five_fresh_fish: I know you're typing words and making sentences, but they make no sense.

I agree. But from that fact that my remarks do not make sense I do not draw anything like the conclusions that you do. In order to see why, I should say something more about the phenomenon of making sense.

Thomas Kuhn wrote that the research that resulted in his epoch-making The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was made possible by an important insight about the methodology he should use. The fundamental problem in writing the history of intellectual inquiry is how one is to understand the thought of peoples who are distant from us in time or place (or, in a pluralistic society, our next-door neighbors). For example, during the period when Kuhn was becoming Kuhn, the mid-1950's, the standard line on Aristotle's cosmology was that there were significant parts of the Aristotelian corpus that didn't make any sense, but that there were also many parts of Aristotle that did make sense, and that the best way to read Aristotle was therefore to assemble and study the parts that made sense while politely ignoring the parts that didn't make any sense. The hoped-for result was that you would understand what in Aristotle was worth understanding, that is, you would understand what in Aristotle made sense (even though, of course, everyone knew going in that whatever Aristotle taught had long since been surpassed by modern science).

What Kuhn realized, and what allowed him to write SSR, is that this widely accepted way of reading alien texts did not allow for a genuine encounter with them. A better approach to the problem of understanding alien forms of thought, Kuhn realized, is to focus precisely on those parts of a thinker's corpus that seem to make no sense at all. For example, Kuhn reasoned that when you reach the point where you can finally see what Aristotle was getting at with the more bizarre and nonsensical parts of his cosmology, maybe you will be in a better position to interpret the parts of Aristotle that everyone agrees already make sense.

This is exactly what Kuhn did, and the result was the single most influential work in the social sciences since the second world war (as measured by SSI citations). The lesson Kuhn drew from his reasearch was that when you encounter obviously intelligent, functional people saying strange things, only a few of which make any sense, the better approach is NOT to work from your understanding of the things they say that make sense toward an understanding of the things they say that don't make sense, but instead to work on understanding first the things that don't make sense, while bracketing or setting aside your original understanding of the things that apparently do make sense. This allows you to work from the inside of their thought outward, that is, from the parts that initially don't make sense to the parts that initially do.

What you discover when you proceed this way, Kuhn claimed and generations of researchers have since confirmed, is that what you originally thought made sense only seemed on the surface to make sense, because it almost always turns out that you didn't actually understand those things very well to start with. (For example, in the 1950's hardly anyone actually understood much of anything about Aristotle's cosmology, even though lots of experts claimed that they understood the parts of Aristotle that "made sense" and hence were worth knowing--though of course none of these people ever thought of Aristotle as a serious rival to modern doctrines about cosmology.) When you finally understand things from the inside out, Kuhn discovered, what originally made sense ends up making much less sense from your original standpoint than it did at first (which can be a drag), but the whole alien system, as understood from within your new, imaginative appropriation of it, now makes sense through and through (which is a huge benefit). You finally can understand what the other people are saying, and you can see how different what they are saying really is from your own way of thinking. Instead of seeming to be a willy-nilly mix of sense and nonsense, what the others say now seems perfectly intelligible through and through, though radically different from, and perhaps even untranslatable into terms framed by, how you yourself think about things. You may even find yourself able, drawing on your imaginative resources, to say what the other people would or should say to questions that they do not directly address, because you are able to project yourself into that mode of thought.

Some of the people mentioned in the NYTimes article in the FPP are thoughtful and intelligent. (Some of them are brutal political hacks to whom I wouldn't give the time of day, but some of them actually understand what they are talking about and have something to say worth hearing.) Some of the things they say may appear to make sense, but much of what they say will not make any sense at all. If you want to understand what is going on with these people, the better way to do it, Kuhn would argue, is to stop assuming that you understand significant portions of what they are saying, and instead to set about trying to sympathetically understand the things they say that clearly don't make any sense at all. And if you are able to do that, you'll find that you had originally misunderstood most of the things they said that seemed to make sense, and in particular you will discover that you originally misunderstood the true relationships between those things and the apparently much weirder things they say. And you may even be able to reason from what they did say to what they could or should say.

Compare such splendid results (successfully helping an alien community to fruitfully develop its own self-understanding, where the measure of success is whether they can recognize and affirm that you have correctly understood them) with, for example, the clumsy efforts by some in this forum to convict me of "hypocricy", or to prove that, by my own principles, I should believe that my wife and I should have tried to have more children than we did, etc... These crude attempts to expose "glaring logical inconsistencies" in my views betray abject ignorance of how adherents to traditional sexual morality actually think about things--which explains why they have so frequently been followed by accusations of irrationality and insanity. (A related but more general point: if someone insists that a certain conclusion does not follow from what he has said, that stands as prima facie evidence, assuming you have tested him or her for miminal logical competence, that you have misunderstood what the other person originally said.)

Imaginatively immersing oneself in an alien conceptual scheme is difficult work, and often unpleasant. (I go to the extreme of reading Metafilter in order to keep abreast of how people who say they have no souls are thinking about things these days.) But, unfortunately, it is also the only way of which I am aware to avoid the mistake of systematically misinterpreting what other people are saying.

Given all the difficulty and unpleasantness, however, one might wonder what is the point of bothering to sympathetically understand what other people are saying. One answer is simply that human beings are interesting, and that it's usually interesting to understand what other human beings have to say, even when you are convinced that you can show in some non-arbitrary way that your own views are superior to theirs.

That's something, of course, but it's not exactly a compelling reason for taking the trouble to understand things that don't make any sense. A much more compelling reason, however, for trying to sympathetically understand what other people are saying is that it is far from obvious how one is to determine in a non-arbitrary way whether one's own conceptual scheme actually is superior to its rivals. Each conceptual scheme has its own standards of success internal to it, so how can one conclude from the fact that one is reasoning successfully by one's own standards that one is therefore reasoning well or in a way that is at all likely to lead one to truth? The answer, of course, as nearly everyone who takes seriously the problem of pluralism has concluded, is that you cannot.

Of course ludwig_van's way out is always available: simply declare that the vindication of your own substantive moral views requires no further engagement with the substantive moral views of others, because your substantive moral views, unlike those of the "irrational" and "insane" others, are based directly upon reality! Retreat and declare victory!

That's certainly a very popular way to evade the hard task of trying to understand the nonsensical things that other people say. (It's so popular, in fact, that zeal-filled advocates of every conceivable moral view embrace it as the clear light of commonsense. As I already mentioned, I know literally thousands of people who would regard you all as completely irrational for failing to acknowledge the manifest reality of the language of the body.) So ludwig_van's declaration of victory-through-reality-basing is always an option.

But it is not a very good option. Given the current state of play both in contemporary meta-ethics and in contemporary society, ludwig_van's gambit is a non-starter for any serious person who is at all well-informed about the world around us. No person at all familiar with the history of ethical disagreement or the realities of moral disagreement on the ground can in good faith claim that his own moral views are directly based upon reality. The fact that none of you has yet roused yourselves from your dogmatic slumbers long enough to speak in a truthful spirit about this crucial matter is shocking and dismaying.

By the way, I wait in eager anticipation for the "rational proof" that we should accept other people's claims to treat them with respect. (Or the "rational proof" that we shouldn't torture children for fun, or the "rational proof" for any other popular--or unpopular--moral opinion you please.) You know, a "rational proof" of the sort that will satisfy the sorts of "rational" demands you all have been urging against traditional views on contraception.

But in point of fact, there are no such proofs for any substantive moral claims, and everybody knows it. Your collective bloviation about demands for "rational proof" for moral claims would ultimately force you, if any of you actually took any of it seriously, to reject all substantive moral claims as "irrational". Which is, of course, a reductio ad absurdam of your demands.

So, how does all this apply to the discussion about whether or not people who reject contraception are irrational, the point which was the occasion for me to enter this thread?

For starters, I don't see much possibility for fruitful discussion on this forum, though I continue to give it my best effort. (That is why I would never try and have never tried to argue against contraception in this forum; I have only ever argued here that those who reject contraception are not irrational, not that contraception is wrong.) The problems with this forum are not (primarily) due to bad faith on your parts, though there is some of that. The set-up is just wrong. For example, I regard the argument against contraception based on the "language of the body" as the weakest argument against contraception (though it is still a valid and sound argument), but I brought it into the discussion because it is the only argument against contraception that I thought any of you had a prayer of understanding and acknowledging as not irrational. (I certainly didn't delude myself into thinking any of you would actually accept it.) But claims that make perfect sense to someone who has received one kind of intellectual formation will strike another person, a person who does not possess that kind of intellectual background (and who has not been willing, or perhaps able, to acquire an imaginative apprehension, a la Kuhn, of that background), as literally making no sense.

Yet, as I keep insisting, the basic fact on the ground is that we live in a pluralistic society. Many of the people around us, no matter who we are, say things that do not make any sense (very often we literally do not even understand the language they speak). The urgent practical question is how we should respond to that fact. The response of most of the people in this forum, at least with regard to traditional Christian views about sexual morality, has been to reject out of hand the requirement that one must understand what others say before rejecting it. And, unfortunately, the notion that I should (or even could) give you a "primer" on some aspect or other of my views, and that then you would be able to "make sense" of what I've been saying, is a harmful pipe dream. It would be like Kuhn trying to investigate Aristotle by focusing first on the parts that seemed to make sense. The end result would continue to be a blend of sense and nonsense.

If you care to understand traditional Christian teaching on human sexuality, my advice would be to focus your attention on an aspect of Christian doctrine that strikes many if not most non-Christians as straightforwardly unintelligible: namely, the procession of divine persons within the blessed trinity. The traditional Christian insistance that the second person of the trinity is "begotten, not made," provides an important entry point for thinking about contraception.

Please keep in mind that the distinction between begetting and making is a philosophical distinction, just as the traditional Boethian definition of "person" as "individual substance of a rational nature" is a philosophical definition. Yet both the begetting/making distinction and the definition of person were developed, as a matter of historical contingency, in order to work out fundamental Christological controversies. If you care to understand traditional views about contraception, keeping in mind that understanding a view does not at all imply agreeing with it, my advice would be to follow Kuhn's method and start by seeking a solid understanding of the history of Christology. The end result may be an ability to recognize (and even formulate) properly philosophical--not theological--arguments against contraception. Whether, having reached that kind of understanding, you continue to reject the conclusions of such rational arguments must remain an open question, just as it remains an open question for me every time I encounter arguments supporting contraception whether, having finally understood the pro-contraception arguments, I will come to regard them as rationally superior to the philosophical arguments I now find compelling.

I have tried to describe a method of inquiry I think is appropriate for members of a pluralistic society. I'm interested in hearing how you all propose to deal with the fact that reasonable people disagree about matters of crucial importance. If your answer continues to be "use the coercive power of the state to educate everyone about all available alternatives," please keep in mind that this too is one of the matters of crucial importance about which reasonable people continue to disagree.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:29 PM on May 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


That was an interesting read.

Am I interpreting you correctly were I to summarize your last message as saying "There is no objective reality by which you can judge others' beliefs; the best you can do is hope to understand them from the mindset/context of the author"?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:57 PM on May 14, 2006


five_fresh_fish: Am I interpreting you correctly were I to summarize your last message as saying "There is no objective reality by which you can judge others' beliefs; the best you can do is hope to understand them from the mindset/context of the author"?

No, that isn't something I would agree with.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:50 PM on May 14, 2006


That is why I would never try and have never tried to argue against contraception in this forum; I have only ever argued here that those who reject contraception are not irrational, not that contraception is wrong.

I suggest you start your participation using those exact words next time.

The reason: the thing that has everyone's nose out of joint is simply the implication that busybodies like those in the original FPP link are trying to prevent us from having the choice to use contraception.

What any one individual does in their own private lives, most of us could not care less about: ain't nobodies business if you do is the good motto.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on May 14, 2006


Another attempt to summarise:

"To fully understand what another is saying, you must first understand the most difficult aspects of what they are saying, so that you may understand also the subtleties of the the things you think are the most simple aspects of what they are saying."

Closer?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:36 PM on May 14, 2006


A related but more general point: if someone insists that a certain conclusion does not follow from what he has said, that stands as prima facie evidence, assuming you have tested him or her for miminal logical competence, that you have misunderstood what the other person originally said.

Huh. So if you say you're right and I say you're wrong, it means that you are in fact right and that I must have misunderstood you. Interesting.

I have only ever argued here that those who reject contraception are not irrational, not that contraception is wrong.

That seems to me like an extremely dishonest characterization of the argument you've put forth.

Similarly, you attacked a strawman version of my position in an extremely overlong and minimaly relevant post rather than actually answer any of the pointed questions aimed at the positions you've been defending.

You can attempt to ignore the distinction between individual, subjective beliefs and empirical, objective, quantitative measures, but the difference is remains.

PT, you've made a poor showing here. Waxing eloquent about Aristotle isn't making it better. Not that all of that stuff wasn't interesting, mind you, but it's tangential at best, and it only makes you look like you're dodging, which you are.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:57 PM on May 14, 2006


the difference remains.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:00 PM on May 14, 2006


And perhaps we miscommunicated about this "language of the body" stuff. Yes, of course there's something known as "body language," even though if the common idea of "body language" is what you were referring to you did a very poor job of being clear about it. But the idea that a given physical act has some kind of universal, immutable meaning is absurd. Sex doesn't necessarily mean "I'm all for you, including my fallopian tubes" any more than clenching a fist necessarily means "I'm going to hit you." That the sex act means as much is your own personal interpretation of it. People mean very different things when they have sex. Based on your own quote from before, how can you tell people what they actually mean when they have sex if that's not what they say they mean?

However, the fact that contraceptive education lowers rates of STDs abortions, etc., is an objective fact. It reflects an observation of the real world. It is an amoral statement. It is in no way a reflection of my own personal values. Saying that it benefits society by reducing STDs and abortions is a reflection of my values; namely, that STDs and abortions are undesirable. However, you still haven't disagreed with those values yet, so I assume you agree with them.

That is the difference between our arguments.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:13 PM on May 14, 2006


PT vs. FF vs. LV.
posted by homunculus at 7:33 PM on May 14, 2006


I'm the one on the left.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:36 PM on May 14, 2006


I don't see any fish in that picture.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:25 PM on May 14, 2006


five_fresh_fish: I suggest you start your participation using those exact words next time.

I started posting by saying "I don't appreciate being called a cretin and a nutjob." That is as true now as it was when I first posted it. The namecalling in this forum has been completely inappropriate for members of a secular, pluralistic society.

five_fresh_fish: the thing that has everyone's nose out of joint is simply the implication that busybodies like those in the original FPP link are trying to prevent us from having the choice to use contraception.

The "busybodies" in the FPP link want to get the government out of the business of promoting contraception. I don't expect the government to teach systematic theology in the schools, and you shouldn't expect the government to teach about contraception in the schools.

Should they succeed in getting the government out of the business of promoting contraception, the "busybodies" in the FPP link hope to create a shared national culture that rejects contraception. That is a dispute about which the government has no business taking sides.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:14 PM on May 14, 2006


five_fresh_fish: To fully understand what another is saying, you must first understand the most difficult aspects of what they are saying, so that you may understand also the subtleties of the the things you think are the most simple aspects of what they are saying.

That's pretty good. Still, the point I'm making isn't about difficult versus simple. The things that make least sense at first may turn out to be the simplest things to understand in the end; understanding them may just require a kind of gestalt or (Kuhn's term) paradigm shift.

I'll bet you've had the experience where you finally "get" the basic principles someone is operating by, and suddenly are able to reliably predict what they are going to say even before they say it. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. It's like when the tumblers of the padlock finally are in alignment, and the lock opens up: in a single glance you can see everything the person is saying arrayed before you, and you can see clearly how all of it hangs together. When someone asks you "what would so-and-so say about such-and-such?" and you can answer effortlessly, and be right, that is what I'm talking about.

What someone like ludwig_van is doing is like pulling harder and harder on a closed padlock, as if that were the way to open it up. (If you ever do get it open that way, it will only be by breaking it.) If you've ever watched a child struggle with a padlock, you know that the comparison is apt. First you have to align the tumblers, which may or may not be difficult depending on circumstances, but when they are finally aligned, the lock opens up with no effort at all. (The image is from Wittgenstein.)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:34 PM on May 14, 2006


ludwig_van: So if you say you're right and I say you're wrong, it means that you are in fact right and that I must have misunderstood you. Interesting.

That's not at all what I said.

In a situation of what Quine called radical translation, where you do not yet understand what another person's utterance means, one of the most important ways of determining meaning is to figure out what inferences the other person does and does not draw from the utterance in question. If you claim that P follows from what a person has said, and he repeatedly tells you that it does not follow, that is prima facie evidence, assuming that the person displays minimal competence in basic logic, that you have not yet understood what the other person said. How you could twist that into what you say here is something I do not yet understand. Perhaps you could elaborate.

By the way, I'm still waiting a clear, numbered statement of my "glaring logical inconsistencies".
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:41 PM on May 14, 2006


ludwig_van: the fact that contraceptive education lowers rates of STDs abortions, etc., is an objective fact

This statement is not adequately specified, and after you specify it further it will no longer be an objective fact. Social scientific generalizations depend crucially upon particular cultural contexts, and those contexts are hardly "objective facts". There are no "natural" human beings available upon whom we could experiment to discover the effects of contraceptive education. Your ideology blinkers you from seeing this.

Perhaps you could make up for the defects in your formulation by saying that contraceptive education has benefits for "people like us". But that would just raise the question of what "people like us" are, and that is not a question that can be settled objectively. In fact, it is precisely that question about which you are in disagreement with the people discussed in the FPP link. Since you are utterly lacking in resources for addressing this question, you are forced to pretend it does not exist.

Oh, and by the way, where is that rational proof that we shouldn't torture children for fun?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:51 PM on May 14, 2006


PT: Aha! Gotcha, now. I can see where you're coming with the Kuhn stuff.

I gotta say, though, there are times where understanding the other person is utterly irrelevant. An excellent example: homeopathic medicine. Regardless the internal consistency of the logic used in asserting its truthfulness, the reality is that it does not work in the real world.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 PM on May 14, 2006


five_fresh_fish, homeopathic medicine is not a good example. In fact, it is an example widely used in the sociology of science literature to illustrate the baleful effects of overly simplistic popularizers of science upon the general population. I expect you have imbibed some pretty crappy philosophy of science from hacks like James Randi, who is a laughingstock among people who seriously study the sociology of knowledge.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:03 PM on May 14, 2006


No. No, he isn't. Please, keep lying.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:45 PM on May 14, 2006


In fact, it is an example widely used in the sociology of science literature to illustrate the baleful effects of overly simplistic popularizers of science upon the general population.

I think I need you to rewrite this if I am to accurately understand what you are saying:

My interpretation of what you have said is this: according to those who think about/study the subject "sociology of science," the
a) popularisation of homeopathic medicines?
b) popular debunking of homeopathic medicines?
has caused harm to the general population.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:58 PM on May 14, 2006


According to mainstream people who work in the sociology of knowledge, the popular debunking of homeopathic medicines is crude propaganda in the service of an overly simplistic and ultimately dangerous conception of how science works.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:32 PM on May 14, 2006


solid-one-love, I'll just bet you keep up to date in contemporary sociology.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:38 PM on May 14, 2006


Your response, then, doesn't really follow from what I wrote.

Let me try again: do you think there is any point in deeply understanding the promoter/promotion of homeopathics when deciding public policy on medicine?

Substitute "flat earth theory" if that's happens to be less aligned with your personal beliefs.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:44 PM on May 14, 2006


Huh. So if you say you're right and I say you're wrong, it means that you are in fact right and that I must have misunderstood you. Interesting.

Yes, ludwig_van, and you misunderstand due to lack of knowledge, you ignorant pleb, because obviously in his impressive combination of realism and humility, PT is assuming that prior to his showing up to enlighten us all, no one here could *possibly* have any previous direct acquaintance with this kind of anti-contraception "traditional Christian teaching on human sexuality", it's really like Aristotelian cosmology when it was still poorly understood, you know?

And you know what, I think he's right, I finally see the light, and likewise I urge you all to start reading Aristotle and theological treatises on the Holy Ghost if you really want to understand why condoms are evil and sex education in class is a perversion.
posted by funambulist at 1:44 AM on May 15, 2006


If you claim that P follows from what a person has said, and he repeatedly tells you that it does not follow, that is prima facie evidence, assuming that the person displays minimal competence in basic logic, that you have not yet understood what the other person said.

First, I'm not convinced at all about your basic logic skills, but I'll let that one go. Second, this is still just an embarassing attempt to avoid acknowledging that you're wrong. We're not speaking different languages, PT. We're not from different time periods. We're talking about the same things here. I've given you plenty of opportunity to explain your positions, taking pains to make sure I have your position accurately pinned down, but you're just trying to weasel out of everything. It doesn't matter what language you speak, if your speech contradicts itself, you've got problems.

But again, based on your own argument: If someone says that they mean one thing by having sex, who are you to tell them they actually meant something else and were lying?

Should they succeed in getting the government out of the business of promoting contraception, the "busybodies" in the FPP link hope to create a shared national culture that rejects contraception. That is a dispute about which the government has no business taking sides.

This is incorrect, as we've already established. You may as well say that the government has no business providing any kind of education. Since it is demonstrably in society's best interest for the public to be educated, including educated in the use of contraceptives, it is very much the government's business. Again, why are you so afraid of an educated populace?

This statement is not adequately specified, and after you specify it further it will no longer be an objective fact. Social scientific generalizations depend crucially upon particular cultural contexts, and those contexts are hardly "objective facts".

Huh. You seem to be making some sort of awkward argument to the effect of "in an ideal world, we wouldn't need contraceptive education." Which is, of course, completely irrelevant. In this world, the facts are clear enough. Contraceptive education benefits society. Abstinence-only education does not. Perhaps some day in the future those facts will be different, although I doubt it. Regardless, it's utterly irrelevant. You're not going to escape the fact that one argument is based on the real world and one argument is based on a subjective reading of the real world.

Stop going on tangents; this isn't about homepathic medicine or torturing children. Regardless, the fact that you don't think there's a rational reason for not torturing children is pretty scary.

By the way, I'm still waiting a clear, numbered statement of my "glaring logical inconsistencies".

Hey, if you keep repeating that, maybe everyone will forget about your shoddy arguments! Good tactic!
posted by ludwig_van at 4:45 AM on May 15, 2006


solid-one-love, I'll just bet you keep up to date in contemporary sociology.

I read voraciously on many subjects, including criticism of the skeptic movement. As such, I know you're a lying sack of shit, just as you were when you invented that whole 'only humans have sex out of estrous [sic]' story out of whole cloth.

If you want to baffle 'em with bullshit, you should start from a position where you're smarter than your opponent. Since none of us are retarded schoolchildren, that isn't gonna happen.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:16 AM on May 15, 2006


I expect you have imbibed some pretty crappy philosophy of science from hacks like James Randi, who is a laughingstock among people who seriously study the sociology of knowledge.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:03 PM PST on May 14


Which people? Name them.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:18 AM on May 15, 2006


optimus_chyme, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_program.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:24 AM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: maybe everyone will forget about your shoddy arguments!

In order for your claim that my views are irrational or insane, you have to do much more than show that my arguments are shoddy. Of course you have not even done that, but don't lower the bar for yourself.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:25 AM on May 15, 2006


optimus_chyme, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_program.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:24 AM PST on May 15


Ctrl-F | Randi

No results. I'm pretty interested in all this major evidence you have that Randi is a "laughingstock" among anyone who doesn't believe in ghosts or dowsing. But thanks for the link to Wikipedia it was really great!!!!!
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:28 AM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: If someone says that they mean one thing by having sex, who are you to tell them they actually meant something else and were lying?

The point isn't "you meant something else," but rather "you said something you didn't mean". And if meaning were "in the head" somehow, you might be able to reformulate your objection so that it had some force. But meaning isn't "in the head", so you won't be able to do that.

If someone comes up to you and pummels you to a bloody pulp and then says "by that I meant 'hello, have a nice day'," something fishy is going on. People who recognize the language of the body believe that contracepted acts have a similar logical structure. You do not have to accept what such people believe in order to acknowledge that it is not irrational or insane.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:34 AM on May 15, 2006


If someone comes up to you and pummels you to a bloody pulp and then says "by that I meant 'hello, have a nice day'," something fishy is going on.

Except in this case two people say "hello, have a nice day" to each other, smile, and are on their way. You, witnessing this, then call the police to report a terrible assault.

The line of discussion you insist on is boring, stupid, and useless, and sounds like every goddamn hippie philosopher who says "like, you can't prove anything, man."

You jump around from topic to topic, changing your tactic when you're pinned into a corner, occasionally lashing out with a PERVERSION! or two, and it's very, very sad.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:39 AM on May 15, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, maybe you should try talking to some people who are part of the "strong programme". If you did, you'd find out that I'm not misrepresenting anything. I am not part of it myself, and have serious objections to parts of their agenda, but I've been to enough conferences with people who are part of the "strong programme" to be able to assure you of the low opinion in which people like Randi are held by mainstream sociology of knowledge researchers. Feel free to see this as evidence that sociology of knowledge types are irrational and insane, as I'm guessing that's the direction you're headed anyway.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:40 AM on May 15, 2006


The point isn't "you meant something else," but rather "you said something you didn't mean".

No, the point is that they didn't say what you're claiming they said. They claim that they said something else entirely. By your own argument, their own claims about what they said take precedence. QED.

If someone comes up to you and pummels you to a bloody pulp and then says "by that I meant 'hello, have a nice day'," something fishy is going on.

That's a completely invalid analogy. If someone beat me to a pulp, I would probably not agree that they were saying "hello, have a nice day." However, if two people have sex and they both agree that it means X, you cannot step in and tell them that they actually meant Y.

And get off this "I'm not irrational" whining already. Defend your rationality by making rational statements, not by playing the victim.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:42 AM on May 15, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, maybe you should try talking to some people who are part of the "strong programme".

I'm not doing your fucking legwork for you, lazy ass. Either defend your statements or don't make them.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:44 AM on May 15, 2006


Sex means different things to different people. That is the lesson that you need to take away from this. Just because it means one thing to you does not indicate that it always means the same thing for everyone else. There is absolutely no way for you to prove that other people's sex means what you say it means and not what they say it means. Your failure to recognize this is the cause of your failure in this argument.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:45 AM on May 15, 2006


fresh_fish_five: do you think there is any point in deeply understanding the promoter/promotion of homeopathics when deciding public policy on medicine?

That's exactly the right question. I think the idea of having formal excommunications from the scientific community, as when The Lancet publishes "The End of Homeopathy", is a sign of a group of people attempting to function as a priesthood. If we can all agree on anything it should be that priests must not be allowed to set public policy.

The public has to cope with huge amounts of information, and it isn't reasonable to expect them to "deeply understand" the details involved in every decision they are required to make. But there have to be at least some people who have such deep knowledge, even though not everyone can or should.

What many people (such as ludwig_van) want to do, however, is to bypass the messy process whereby various claims to expertise get evaluated by the public and decisions are taken democratically, by instead having a group of priests tell us what "reality" requires us to do.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:57 AM on May 15, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, did you actually read the Wikipedia article to which I linked? Did those sound to you like the sort of people who would have any tolerance at all for someone like Randi? Get real.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:59 AM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: There is absolutely no way for you to prove that other people's sex means what you say it means

There is "absolutely no way for you to prove" that we shouldn't torture children for fun, in the sense of "prove" that you are using. By "prove", you mean "convince someone who doesn't already see". But a position's failure to convince opponents is not a reasonable standard, in a pluralistic society, for labelling it as "irrational" or "insane".
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:02 AM on May 15, 2006


Did those sound to you like the sort of people who would have any tolerance at all for someone like Randi? Get real.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:59 AM PST on May 15


These people probably don't have a tolerance for him either, but that doesn't make it a good fucking source. You repeatedly refuse to provide any evidence for your claims, and you continally evade questions and change the subject. You are fundamentally dishonest. Why should we care what you have to say?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:03 AM on May 15, 2006


fresh_fish_five, as you may know, in Europe the political situation with regard to homeopathy is significantly different from what it is in the United States. (I've been assuming that you're in the U.S.) Is your view that the European public policy debate is irrational, and that the matter could be easily settled if they would just look at the facts?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:09 AM on May 15, 2006


Is your view that the European public policy debate is irrational, and that the matter could be easily settled if they would just look at the facts?

Yes. The most important facts are that homeopathy has never been shown to work in a controlled environment and that no study claiming otherwise has ever been successfully repeated.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:12 AM on May 15, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, researchers in the strong programme, acknowledged by friend and foe alike as the most successful research program in the sociology of knowledge, routinely make fun of Randi and people like him. In their books and articles they describe the work of debunkers in highly unflattering terms. They see such people as buffoons, as I must say I do as well.

I assume you will now want to add sociologists of knowledge to your list of "irrational" and "insane" people.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:13 AM on May 15, 2006


What many people (such as ludwig_van) want to do, however, is to bypass the messy process whereby various claims to expertise get evaluated by the public and decisions are taken democratically, by instead having a group of priests tell us what "reality" requires us to do.

Wow, just when I thought you couldn't characterize my statements any more dishonestly! This doesn't even bear a passing resemblance to what I've said.

There is "absolutely no way for you to prove" that we shouldn't torture children for fun, in the sense of "prove" that you are using. By "prove", you mean "convince someone who doesn't already see". But a position's failure to convince opponents is not a reasonable standard, in a pluralistic society, for labelling it as "irrational" or "insane".

No, you're still deeply confused. Replace "prove" in that statement with "support" if that's easier for you to understand. I can support the idea that we shouldn't torture children with many pieces of evidence; for example, the fact that it would violate that child's consitutional rights, that no one wishes to be tortured, that it causes pain and provides no tangible benfits, that it would cause those children to become twisted adults, etc. Do you dispute any of these things? Somehow I doubt you do. I'm not sure why you keep clinging to this awful example as though it's scoring you points.

However, you cannot prodive a shred of support for your claim that the sex act universally has the meaning that you ascribe to it. Not only that, but your own argument about people's statements of their intentions contradicts it. If two people have sex and claim that in doing so they were saying one thing, there is no support, no evidence, no argument whatsoever for you to claim that they were actually saying something else. It's your word against theirs, and again according to you their word must win.

I give more weight to arguments that can be supported with tangible, empirical evidence. Obviously you don't. That's where the whole "irrational" thing comes in.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:13 AM on May 15, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, who decides what the most important facts are?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:14 AM on May 15, 2006


I can't even believe you're making me explain this shit to you. Your argument is akin to insisting that the sound of the English word "dog" universally refers to the hairy, four-legged animal, regardless of what language is being spoken or what the speakers understand that they mean.

You cannot tell people that you know what they mean better than they do. You've already made this claim yourself. It's absurd, stupid, and a waste of everyone's time. Give it up already.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:16 AM on May 15, 2006


I assume you will now want to add sociologists of knowledge to your list of "irrational" and "insane" people.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:13 AM PST on May 15


When "sociologists of knowledge" do something relevant and important I will happily place them with physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians and engineers. But until then, it's just the same old Social Text post-modernist bullshit relativism that produces nothing of value for anyone.

Optimus_Chyme, who decides what the most important facts are?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:14 AM PST on May 15


One would think that "DOES NOT WORK" is a self-evidently important fact.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:19 AM on May 15, 2006


I give more weight to arguments that can be supported with tangible, empirical evidence.

So apparently you believe phrases like "constitutional rights", "torture", "tangible benefit", and "twisted adults" are empirical. Ab-so-fucking-lutely unbelievable.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:21 AM on May 15, 2006


As an aside, is there anything you don't believe, PT, or are all beliefs equally valid? Do you think that the Dracos, in league with the Annunaki, are secretly abducting people for bizarre experiments? Do you think that JFK was assassinated by South African nihilists? Do you think that tape recorders can provide evidence of dear departed Aunt Hilda's afterlife? Where do you draw the line?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:21 AM on May 15, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, "self-evidently important", huh? I thought you drew a distinction between facts and values. How could a value, like importance, be self-evident?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:23 AM on May 15, 2006


So apparently you believe phrases like "constitutional rights", "torture", "tangible benefit", and "twisted adults" are empirical. Ab-so-fucking-lutely unbelievable.

Are you joking? Do you know what empirical means? How about tangible?

The statement that torturing children for fun would violate their constitutional rights is an objective, empirical observation. It is not my opinion, it's not a fuzzy impression I get; it is a fact.

You're still confused, PT. It's like you're trying to argue for complete moral relativism but at the same time assert that your own morals are the one correct set. Drop the child torturing argument, and stop posting until you get your thoughts in order.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:26 AM on May 15, 2006


How could a value, like importance, be self-evident?

Statements that most people would accept at face value as being true can be called "self-evident," even though they are not literally axiomatic.

How do you even have a conversation with your wife? Do you bug her about the semantics of every phrase and bore her to tears with dumb stoner shit like "How could a value, like importance, be self-evident"?

It's pretty funny that you don't believe that whether something works or not is important, though. I'd love to go to the doctor with you.

"I don't need heart medication, doc! I'll just apply some Wite-Out to the soles of my feet! It's all the same!"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:29 AM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: Your argument is akin to insisting that the sound of the English word "dog" universally refers to the hairy, four-legged animal, regardless of what language is being spoken or what the speakers understand that they mean.

No, it's akin to saying that there's a natural language of the body, and that hence bodily actions (or at least some of them, such as pummelling someone to a bloody pulp) can't serve as inherently-meaningless vehicles for absolutely any arbitrary meaning. Feel free to go on from there to disagree about the specific range of meanings that people like me regard as compatible with the natural language of the marital act. That will put us back in "disagreement between reasonable people" territory, which is my only goal in this conversation.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: Statements that most people would accept at face value as being true can be called "self-evident,"

Most people who have ever lived have accepted at face value that the marital act has a natural significance. Many if not most people alive today accept that at face value. So what? That's not by itself reason to believe it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:35 AM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: The statement that torturing children for fun would violate their constitutional rights is an objective, empirical observation.

No it's not. There's no way to translate talk about constitutional rights into an observation language, or anything close to it. Do you know what "empirical" means?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:36 AM on May 15, 2006


No, it's akin to saying that there's a natural language of the body, and that hence bodily actions (or at least some of them, such as pummelling someone to a bloody pulp) can't serve as inherently-meaningless vehicles for absolutely any arbitrary meaning. Feel free to go on from there to disagree about the specific range of meanings that people like me regard as compatible with the natural language of the marital act. That will put us back in "disagreement between reasonable people" territory, which is my only goal in this conversation.

No, that is an argument by false analogy. Please give this statement your full attention and try to understand it:

Your example of pummelling to a pulp implies a non-consensual act. Non-consensual acts where one party is a victim and one party is an aggressor are not equivalent to consensual acts in which both parties agree on the meaning of said act.

You are claiming, and please tell me if I've got you wrong, that despite the claims of millions of people who engage in consensual sex with the mutual understanding that it means one thing, it actually means something else.

This is an unreasonable, irrational, baseless claim. I've been very patiently reading your posts. Nothing you've said contradicts this fundamental flaw in your position. You cannot claim the authority to specify the meaning of consensual acts between adults in contradiction with their own intentions and mutual understanding. Period. The end. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you resolve this issue.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:39 AM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: It's like you're trying to argue for complete moral relativism but at the same time assert that your own morals are the one correct set.

I have repeatedly here used the formula that I am a relativist about rationality, but not about truth. I don't see any real alternative for someone who takes seriously the problem of pluralism. You and Optimus_Chyme seem to prefer beating your chests.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:40 AM on May 15, 2006


Is there anything you don't believe, PT, or are all beliefs equally valid? Do you think that the Dracos, in league with the Annunaki, are secretly abducting people for bizarre experiments? Do you think that JFK was assassinated by South African nihilists? Do you think that tape recorders can provide evidence of dear departed Aunt Hilda's afterlife? Where do you draw the line?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:41 AM on May 15, 2006


Wait a second. If I and my wife make love with contraception, we are lying to each other "in truth", if not in our own minds?

Is that your position?
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:43 AM on May 15, 2006


No it's not. There's no way to translate talk about constitutional rights into an observation language, or anything close to it. Do you know what "empirical" means?

Yes, I do. Obviously the fact that something is in the consitution doesn't mean it's a true statement about the world. I never claimed as much. That doesn't mean that "it would violate their constitutional rights" is an irrelevant argument for not torturing children. The way this country works is that we assume that the principles of our government are valid, and if they aren't then we try to change them. If you want to campaign to make torture legal, go for it.

This is another irrelevant tangent though. Again, you're obviously not arguing for complete relativism, so dragging me into these stupid epistemological digressions is an obnoxious waste of time.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:45 AM on May 15, 2006


Somewhere in PT's basement is a 2200-page manuscript consisting only of


posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:46 AM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: You cannot claim the authority to specify the meaning of consensual acts between adults in contradiction with their own intentions and mutual understanding. Period.

Ah, but how do I figure out what their intentions and understanding are? If intentions and understanding were private mental items about which there was unassailable first-person authority, then you would have a point. But they aren't, so you don't. We live in a messy world and we must do the best we can to make sense of other people's intentions, mutual understandings, and consensual acts. So you are just going to have to learn to live with the fact that many people find that the best way they can find to make sense of your contracepted acts is as a kind of lie. Get over it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:47 AM on May 15, 2006


What many people (such as ludwig_van) want to do, however, is to bypass the messy process whereby various claims to expertise get evaluated by the public and decisions are taken democratically, by instead having a group of priests tell us what "reality" requires us to do.

Is this the same public that believes in ghosts, witches, UFOs, and astrology? This is the means by which you would like to see science decided?

Science is Not a Democracy.

The public has to cope with huge amounts of information, and it isn't reasonable to expect them to "deeply understand" the details involved in every decision they are required to make. But there have to be at least some people who have such deep knowledge, even though not everyone can or should.

Yes. These people with deep knowledge, we call them "scientists."
posted by five fresh fish at 10:47 AM on May 15, 2006


Ah, but how do I figure out what their intentions and understanding are?

Again you leave me blinking in disbelief. But I'll try to be direct: you ask them. And if their interpretations disagree with yours, they are not wrong, you are.

Again, your own words:
If you claim that P follows from what a person has said, and he repeatedly tells you that it does not follow, that is prima facie evidence, assuming that the person displays minimal competence in basic logic, that you have not yet understood what the other person said.
So you are just going to have to learn to live with the fact that many people find that the best way they can find to make sense of your contracepted acts is as a kind of lie. Get over it.

I could not possible give less of a fuck about what you think of my contracepted sex acts, you thickheaded twit. I do give a fuck about the fact that you think you can assert that your idea that my sex act is a lie is somehow truer than mine and my girlfriend's idea that it is not. This argument is a dead end. You are wrong by absolutely any conceivable standard.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:55 AM on May 15, 2006


five_fresh_fish: This is the means by which you would like to see science decided?

You asked about public policy. And the answer is yes, I prefer public policy to be decided democratically. Don't you?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:58 AM on May 15, 2006


And the answer is yes, I prefer public policy to be decided democratically. Don't you?

Don't be obtuse. The United States is a representative democracy. In this very thread you were whining about the tyranny of the majority.

Regardless, the majority of the country supports contraceptive use, so you're wrong either way.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:01 AM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: Again, your own words

My own words included the phrase "prima facie". Do you know what the phrase "prima facie" means?

ludwig_van: You are wrong by absolutely any conceivable standard.

Please explain how that impressive-sounding phrase means anything more to you than simply "I disagree with you vehemently".

I think I have a pretty good understanding of how reasonable people can disagree about important matters. You strike me as having no resources for grappling with that question, which is unfortunate given that you live in a pluralistic society.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:04 AM on May 15, 2006


Peeping Thomist, charter member, Liars for Jesus.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:10 AM on May 15, 2006


Please explain how that impressive-sounding phrase means anything more to you than simply "I disagree with you vehemently".

You're arguing so dishonestly that I wouldn't be surprised to learn at this point that you don't actually believe any of these things.

I'm perfectly willing to agree to disagree in terms of our own personal views. You can think contracepted sex is a lie, and I will think it's not. That's perfectly fine and dandy.

You are the one who is claiming that my statements about my own sex acts are wrong. You are the one who is saying that public policy should be based on your view rather than mine, in spite of all the tangible evidence to the contrary. You are the one who is taking this beyond disagreement and asserting the authority of your viewpoint. That is what you're wrong about. Endlessly trying to lead the argument in circles by saying "I'm not wrong just because I haven't convinced you" is a pathetic tactic.

If you claim that your interpretation of the meaning of my sex act is more true or valid than mine, you are wrong.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:10 AM on May 15, 2006


You know that unwashed guy who sits in the back of the bus every day rapidly scribbling in tiny print in a stack of notebooks? The guy no one will sit next to because he has a tendency to ramble on about how evil other peoples sex lives are and a certain, shall we say, "scent?"
In this case, it's MetaFilter instead of the notebooks.
posted by Floydd at 11:13 AM on May 15, 2006


Does PT's sex logic remind anyone else of Moonie sex logic?
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:15 AM on May 15, 2006


Again, why are you so afraid of an educated populace?

*roll of drums*

Peeping_Thomist, in all seriousness, who are you trying to pretend that these "people who recognize the language of the body believe that contracepted acts have a similar logical structure" are?

Other than the conservative Catholic/Christian religious people as those in the FPP article and you, by your own admission?

It is a religious position, there's no getting around that. Why even try and deny that, really? Those people in the article don't! The church you follow certainly doesn't, either!

You seriously cannot be thinking no one ever heard of this stuff before you showed up here.

The whole position is predicated upon the beliefs that a) only God can decide when to give life and conception is an intervention by God b) sex is only ok when in a marriage between man and woman and, barring any medical conditions, marital sex must be open to procreaction. Because no church that wanted to survive into a modern age could preach that any kind of family planning itself is evil and every married couple must give up any attempt to get in the way of God's plans for them to have children, they found a way out by endorsing "natural" family planning and opposing the more reliable methods of preventing conception, not least also because they're associated with sexual liberation etc. You don't see this contradiction, fine, agree to disagree!

But surely no reasonable person can disagree that that position does require a belief in God. It's a God-based notion of sex, marriage, procreation. If you're religious, you should be *proudly defending* this fact, not trying to deny it.


Now, no one is expecting or demanding that you personally change the way you see all this and how you embrace that position. You're not the Pope, really, you're not any kind of religious leader, so no one is making political demands on you and your responsibilities towards the masses of your followers. You're just another of those followers and you have sacrosanct right to be. Everyone - except you! - is happy to disagree on each person's respective choice of beliefs, lifestyle, marriage, sexual practice and contraception practices.

What's at issue is sex education in schools and in a working society in which everyone must coexist as best as possible you just cannot have any religious group demanding that society's and public health interest comes after their own particular beliefs, demanding that the children of others be deprived of education they personally don't subscribe to.

Having all of society, including people from other religions with different beliefs on this, submit to that notion that contraception is evil is *not* in the public interest because contraception is *good* for society, and condoms save lives and prevent diseases as well as preventing unwanted pregnancies, and societies with a higher level of diseases and unwanted pregnancies create *more* problems than societies with less of those things. This is not opinion, it's fact. We've all agreed on that.

You want abstinence only education with no information on methods of contraception? That's been shown not to work in preventing teenage pregnancies and STD's, because a given percentage of teenagers will have sex anyway, sometimes even more so the more repressive an education they received. There's an abundance of studies and statistics on that. So adopting an abstinence only program in all schools would be irresponsible and not qualify as education, which requires all information be given, especially the more useful kind.

You don't want your tax money used for a purpose that is undeniably in the public interest of reducing diseases and social problems? Sorry, there's no amount of whining about being a persecuted minority that can hide the extreme anti-social selfishness of that demand.

And there's no amount of disingenousness that can equate a position entirely predicated on acceptance of religious authority with a position predicated on facts, figures, and public interest, as if they both were arbitrary brainwashing aimed at indoctrinating people into accepting and enacting codes of behaviour without question. Only one of them qualifies for that.

Why are you afraid of an educated population, indeed?

I know this has all been said already and I am under no delusion you will ever acknowledge the difference between holding your own religious-based position and demanding it be the default for all society, but I just felt like saying all this again and again.
posted by funambulist at 11:18 AM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: In this very thread you were whining about the tyranny of the majority.

Oh, I certainly believe there need to be constraints on the rule of the majority. The idea that scientists should be the ones to provide that constraint is, I think, a mistake.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:22 AM on May 15, 2006


Oh my stars and garters; I just went through PT's posting history, and he is honestly the most insecure individual I've tangled with here. He makes a billion posts in any thread about sex, marriage, or contraception, talks about how great his marriage is, and about how shitty everyone else's is. That is the only topic he's interested in. Oh, PT, you protest way, way, way too much.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:24 AM on May 15, 2006


funambulist: It is a religious position, there's no getting around that. Why even try and deny that, really? Those people in the article don't! The church you follow certainly doesn't, either!

The Catholic Church teaches that the wrongness of contraception is part of the natural law that can be known by all men without having to have recourse to revelation. I've already addressed this point.

funambulist: Having all of society, including people from other religions with different beliefs on this, submit to that notion that contraception is evil is *not* in the public interest

That is not what I or the people in the FPP are demanding. We are demanding that the government get out of the business of promoting contraception, not that the government should "submit to the notion that contraception is evil". That would require outlawing contraception, which we do not demand.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:28 AM on May 15, 2006


"The most striking feature of contemporary moral utterance is that so much of it is used to express disagreements; and the most striking feature of the debates in which these disagreements are expressed is their interminable character. I do not mean by this that such debates go on and on and on--although they do--but also that they apparently can find no terminus..."
Alasdair Macintyre, After Virtue
posted by generalist at 11:29 AM on May 15, 2006


You asked about public policy. And the answer is yes, I prefer public policy to be decided democratically. Don't you?

Good god, NO! What you describe is mob rule.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:30 AM on May 15, 2006


PT, do you think there is any practical means by which we can form a society in which the vast majority of people do not have sex before marriage, choose NFP over condoms or the Pill, and engage in sex only if they are willing to accept the potential of pregnancy (which, of course, would be taken to term)?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:34 AM on May 15, 2006


five_fresh_fish, I hope people who share your views will be much more forthright about their anti-democratic character.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:35 AM on May 15, 2006


talks about how great his marriage is

Based on the general truthfulness of his posts, I'd put a hundred bucks on him never having been married. Or having sex. And I can't imagine anyone who's ever gotten laid ever referring to it so vehemently as "the marital act".

PT is the crazy-eyed conspiracy buff, wheezing at the public library computer, lips lightly flecked with drool, shirt not quite large enough to cover his navel. He's read enough to have a store of knowledge, but he isn't smart enough correlate it or draw logical connections bitween bits of data. Giving PT a book of philosophy is like locking a monkey and a machine gun in a bathysphere.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:36 AM on May 15, 2006


five_fresh_fish: do you think there is any practical means by which we can form a society in which the vast majority of people do not have sex before marriage, choose NFP over condoms or the Pill, and engage in sex only if they are willing to accept the potential of pregnancy (which, of course, would be taken to term)?

My own view is that there are no such means, or not any that would not be arbitrary and irrational, because there is no "we" in a modern nation-state with a sufficiently unified identity to make that possible.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:38 AM on May 15, 2006


The idea that scientists should be the ones to provide that constraint is, I think, a mistake.

And this is where you're confused. Scientists shouldn't dictate morality, but they should dictate science. Public health is a scientific issue. The facts don't lie.

We are demanding that the government get out of the business of promoting contraception, not that the government should "submit to the notion that contraception is evil".


You are demanding that the government stop promoting contraception, with the full knowledge that this will have a detrimental impact on public health. This is irrational.

No one cares about your moral claims, how you justify them, or how reasonable they appear to be. Your policy ideas, however, are irrational and dangerous to society.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:39 AM on May 15, 2006


sold-one-love: I can't imagine anyone who's ever gotten laid ever referring to it so vehemently as "the marital act".

Of course you can't.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:40 AM on May 15, 2006


Good god, NO! What you describe is mob rule.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:30 AM PST on May 15


Don't be too hasty, fff. Think about how hilarious NASA or the NSA would be if entirely run and staffed by PT-types.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:40 AM on May 15, 2006


Of course you can't.

Yes, the evidence is so very strong that I have no imagination, isn't it? Gimme a fuckin' break, you friendless, lying fanatic.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:44 AM on May 15, 2006


Sure, it'd be funny until the Space Shuttle crashed in your yard....
posted by Floydd at 11:44 AM on May 15, 2006


Sure, it'd be funny until the Space Shuttle crashed in your yard....
posted by Floydd at 11:44 AM PST on May 15


It has to take off first. You honestly think PT & company can tell the difference between rocket fuel and regular unleaded?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2006


So here's the second post in this thread:

I don't know what to say. I suspect this sort of view can't be reasoned with, and there's no point in trying.

And then we get about 630 posts' worth of proof. Nice.
posted by COBRA! at 11:53 AM on May 15, 2006


Third post. Nice going, wiseass.
posted by COBRA! at 11:54 AM on May 15, 2006


"You asked about public policy. And the answer is yes, I prefer public policy to be decided democratically. Don't you?"

Requires an educated public with skills of critical thinking and logical analysis... which is something that holders of all types of control-domination dogma don't ever want.

A pluralistic society still needs to operate within some set of consensus rules, which need to be determined as objectively as possible - which is of course very difficult, especially when a majority of the population processes information emotionally before processing it logically or rationally.

A lot of what PT has been saying is based on personal emotional processing - that which "feels" right to him, or to others, based on his/their own personal experiences - this is his offered support for the "language of the body." This would be equating feelings with the determinations of investigations of quantifiable information.

It's true that many of the policies we embrace are not "strictly rational" or logical - the example of child torture being wrong based on violating Constitutional rights merely points out that the Constitution defines parts of a social consensus framework that we use as a baseline reference. However, that consensus framework, along with all the laws based upon it (and the previous social constructs which it is based upon) represent long experience of humanity in creating various social consensuses (consensae?). Societies MUST agree on something - or they wouldn't be societies. In the Western world since the Renaissance, our societal consensus is based on a long history of human laws, which are informed by scientific investigation of observable reality and actual events. We have deliberately tried to put aside religious thoughts of many kinds, though our system of laws codifies many concepts that came from religion.

For example: "The Catholic Church teaches that the wrongness of contraception is part of the natural law that can be known by all men without having to have recourse to revelation." That's great, but the Catholic Church is a religious source, and therefore our social consensus requires that such a claim be investigated and supported by a great deal of good quantifiable evidence before we act upon it relative to social policy.

It's an artificial system, and it's imperfect in that it doesn't agree with everyone - which is true of every social construct.

The thing to remember is that social constructs must take into account both logic and emotion, and try to balance the two as best as possible. We have determined via history that a good social construct that promotes the best situation for the most people must first use logical methods to determine what's best for the populace, and then re-examine those methods in context of emotions before trying to put them in place, to find workable compromises.

I think PT et. al. would want to process emotion first, going by what "feels" right, and put logic second, if not ignore it completely. I think they forget that doing this is to revert to the animalistic world of the strong few dominating the weak many, since fear is so much more easily engendered and dominated than any other emotion.

If anyone read that Kirk Cameron evolution thread a while back, you'll recall this is exactly what those folks advocated. PT's just saying it with a lot of big words and appeals to his chosen authorities.

And no, science is not a democracy. Science finds stuff out to the best of its ability, provides the information, and the social consensus works with it. Sometimes the determinations of facts run counter to a current social consensus, and it takes time to educate the populace as to the harm or benefit represented, and engineer change. Tobacco smoking is probably a good example of that.

This is still very interesting to me, for reasons totally unrelated to contraception and the morality thereof. And note that all these convolutions are still dragging out the debate and dominating your time...
posted by zoogleplex at 11:58 AM on May 15, 2006


The Catholic Church teaches that the wrongness of contraception is part of their own belief system which includes their own idea of natural law that can be known by all men without having to have recourse to what the Catholic Church believes in and calls divine revelation.

There, that's more like it. It's the Catholic Church's own philosophy of natural law! It's their own view of morals and ethics as developed by them as a foundation for their own theological doctrine! It's their early theologians's appropriation of pre-existing philosophies and reworking of them into Christian theology! The Church makes no mystery of this.

Just because a church says there should be beliefs in some universal truths that everybody else should subscribe to, beliefs that incidentally, what coincidence!, support their theology, doesn't make them universal, in fact, kind of reinforces their religious nature! Every religion does that! How much more denying the obvious can you go?

Why should the Christian natural law be more universal than Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist principles really? What makes it so special? Oh wait, you think it's special because it's the religion you subscribe to, duh. Which makes your talk of a pluralistic society a bit meaningless really.


We are demanding that the government get out of the business of promoting contraception, not that the government should "submit to the notion that contraception is evil". That would require outlawing contraception, which we do not demand.

I got that, and how generous of you, but see, the thing you don't want - and it's promoting useful knowledge and information about contraception that has been proven to reduce unwanted teenage pregancies and STD's - you've made clear you don't want it because you do consider it an evil perversion according to that religious view, and the only reason a goverment would abdicate to its responsibilities in education to do you a favour instead of looking out for the interests of everybody is if they deliberately embraced that sectarian view. That's what I meant. It's so obvious you just had to pretend you didn't get it, eh?
posted by funambulist at 11:58 AM on May 15, 2006


"And then we get about 630 posts' worth of proof. Nice."

Yep, it's good for us to demonstrate very clearly just how the sort of people who advocate such extreme positions think, process information, and debate. Know the tiger by its stripes, as it were.
posted by zoogleplex at 12:00 PM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: Public health is a scientific issue. The facts don't lie.

You did not address the argument I made earlier against this claim. Here's what I said:

This statement [i.e., that it is an "objective fact" that contraceptive education has this or that benefit] is not adequately specified, and after you specify it further it will no longer be an objective fact. Social scientific generalizations depend crucially upon particular cultural contexts, and those contexts are hardly "objective facts". There are no "natural" human beings available upon whom we could experiment to discover the effects of contraceptive education. Your ideology blinkers you from seeing this.

Perhaps you could make up for the defects in your formulation by saying that contraceptive education has benefits for "people like us". But that would just raise the question of what "people like us" are, and that is not a question that can be settled objectively. In fact, it is precisely that question about which you are in disagreement with the people discussed in the FPP link. Since you are utterly lacking in resources for addressing this question, you are forced to pretend it does not exist.


Care to address it now?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:09 PM on May 15, 2006


My own view is that there are no such means, or not any that would not be arbitrary and irrational, because there is no "we" in a modern nation-state with a sufficiently unified identity to make that possible.

Ah.

Well, with the revelation that you don't think your own ideas have any practical application in this imperfect world, I guess there's nothing left to discuss. I'm disinterested in your utopia: I prefer to deal with real life.

In real life, promotion of contraceptive use and, particularly, rubbers reduces the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted children. This may not be the "ideal" situation, but it is one helluva lot better than the alternative you offer. Which, by your own admittance, has no practical value.

Finally, it has become quite obvious that you are just jerking us around. You keep dodging questions, reiterating proven lies, promoting your personal opinion as objective truth, and basically try to bullshit your way through everything.

And having read a good chunk of your posting history, I come to this singular conclusion:

You are just another net loon.

What a fucking waste of time this was. I should have stuck to my gut instinct, instead of trying to give you the benefit of the doubt.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2006


five_fresh_fish: with the revelation that you don't think your own ideas have any practical application in this imperfect world

I didn't say that. You asked about what "we" could do together. You and I can't do much together, except perhaps keep a government running that doesn't arbitrarily and irrationally oppress minorities in the name of unquestioned dogmas. But that doesn't mean my ideas have no practical application or that my thinking is in any way utopian. The question is what is the scope of "we". I hate to keep saying it, but this is the fundamental problem of pluralism. What I and those who think like me believe is very definitely part of real life, as is evidenced by the FPP links.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:22 PM on May 15, 2006


You did not address the argument I made earlier against this claim.

Actually I did address that. 600+ posts in of mostly articulate people trying to show you why you're wrong, but not only do you not budge, you're still running in the same circles, desperately trying to wriggle out every time you get pinned down on something.

Trying to turn any appeal to actual statistics into some kind of espistemological argument is a pathetic tactic. The claim that "contraceptive education has this or that benefit" is perfectly adequately specified. Studies have shown that contraceptive education results in decreased occurences of STDs and unwanted pregnancies. You've been continually trying to weasel out of acknowledging this fact without actually challenging it. It hasn't worked, and it's not going to.

The fact that there could be a hypothetical society in which contraceptive education did not provide benefits to public health is completely irrelevant to the policies in question. Stop weaselling.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:23 PM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: The claim that "contraceptive education has this or that benefit" is perfectly adequately specified.

Of course it isn't. Contraception will have benefits or not depending on what kind of society is in question. And that is not a factual question, but one about identity: who are we?

ludwig_van: Trying to turn any appeal to actual statistics into some kind of espistemological argument is a pathetic tactic.

Trying to suppress epistemological questions whenever an open inquiry in them might jeopardize the cultural hegemony of your priesthood is not pathetic, it is evil.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:34 PM on May 15, 2006


Contraception will have benefits or not depending on what kind of society is in question.

Oh really. I didn't know you were confused about what society was in question. I'll help you out: it's the US.

Your arguments have been thoroughly and repeatedly demolished, peeping_Thomist. You've had more than enough opportunities to save face by acknowledging where you've been wrong, but you just shoot back with more simplistic sophistry. I'm not replying to you anymore. Good day.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:39 PM on May 15, 2006


ludwig_van: I didn't know you were confused about what society was in question. I'll help you out: it's the US.

And what kind of society is the U.S.?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:41 PM on May 15, 2006


oh, I don't know, a society which has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the developed world?
posted by funambulist at 12:46 PM on May 15, 2006


Yay us.
posted by Floydd at 12:52 PM on May 15, 2006


Here's a development everyone, including opponents of contraception, can celebrate: progress is being made toward developing microbicides to prevent sexual transmission of HIV. Very exciting stuff.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:53 PM on May 15, 2006


funambulist: oh, I don't know, a society which has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the developed world?

Why is that?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:57 PM on May 15, 2006


"Why is that?"

Because teenagers are having sex, and not using contraceptives.

See, you want to fix the first part of that, which is impossible. Alternatively, you don't want to fix that, and you think that all these teens should be having babies, perhaps because it's God's will.

We think teens having babies is bad, and we know that the second part is something we can work on, so we're doing the best we can.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:02 PM on May 15, 2006


Microbicides may also prevent other sexually trans-mitted infections, such as syphilis and gonorrhea, and some act as contracep-tives as well.

I wouldn't count on that celebration starting anytime soon...
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:07 PM on May 15, 2006


InfidelZombie, why not? It would surprise me very much if there were people who would oppose HIV-and-other-STD-targetting microbicides. What a great boon for the many women at risk for HIV infection! I predict that, so long as the government doesn't do anything to promote contraceptive microbicides, there won't be any problem.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:48 PM on May 15, 2006


zoogleplex: We think teens having babies is bad, and we know that the second part is something we can work on, so we're doing the best we can.

It's not good enough.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:49 PM on May 15, 2006


And how will these women find out about these wonderful things if the government does not promote them? Since they are in the business of public health and all?

I can't believe this conversation is still going on and it's still so stupid.
posted by agregoli at 1:50 PM on May 15, 2006


agregoli: And how will these women find out about these wonderful things if the government does not promote them?

Why wouldn't the government promote them?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:53 PM on May 15, 2006


I'm glad that after 700 comments we learned that the criteria for determining a sexual encounter's morality are based on whether or not it's bareback and if you can get pregnant doing it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:58 PM on May 15, 2006


Why wouldn't the government promote them?


I predict that, so long as the government doesn't do anything to promote contraceptive microbicides, there won't be any problem.

They would, thankfully. I was pointing out that you wouldn't want them to, which I find shameful. That you can applaud such advances, be pleased they can help people, but then not want their use promoted or taught to the very people they could help. It's so anti-Christian.
posted by agregoli at 2:02 PM on May 15, 2006


InfidelZombie, why not?

Did you read the link in the FPP on the HPV vaccine? Same arguments will be used by those people to oppose this way of preventing disease, which is seen as just desserts for those who do not conform to their particular religious morality.

Also, I think the "some" in the sentence I quoted will probably turn out to be "all" in practice, since sperm are just particular microbes.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:11 PM on May 15, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: the criteria for determining a sexual encounter's morality are based on whether or not it's bareback and if you can get pregnant doing it

How about this: the criteria for determining a sexual encounter's morality include whether or not you have tried to render the act infertile. This does not exhaust the criteria, any more than saying that the criteria for determining a speech act's morality include whether or not the speech act constitutes a lie. There are lots of ways for a speech act to be wrong other than by failing with respect to truth! E.g., a speech act can be uncharitable, cruel, unjust, etc... Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows that sometimes the most evil thing you can say is 100% true.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:14 PM on May 15, 2006


agregoli: That you can applaud such advances, be pleased they can help people, but then not want their use promoted or taught to the very people they could help. It's so anti-Christian.

Perhaps you misunderstood what I said, or maybe I wasn't clear. I don't have any objection to having the government promote the use of non-contraceptive microbicides that target HIV and other STDs. Furthermore, the objection against the HPV vaccine, so far as I can tell, has to do with its being proposed as something mandatory. The second FPP link is quite biased, and not very informative on this point, but so far as I know the resistance has to do with mandatory vaccination.

There are plenty of legitimate uses for non-contraceptive microbicides and, so far as I can tell, for an optional HPV vaccine. I'd be very suprised to see any significant resistance to them.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:19 PM on May 15, 2006


InfidelZombie: Also, I think the "some" in the sentence I quoted will probably turn out to be "all" in practice, since sperm are just particular microbes.

I hope that's not true, because microbicides sound very promising.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:20 PM on May 15, 2006


What about those contraceptive microbes? That's what I'm talking about, since it's what was mentioned a few posts above. Are we even reading the same things?

Even now I can't tell if you're obtuseness is purposeful or not. It's hard to believe you are that clueless in your reading and speaking comprehension skills.
posted by agregoli at 2:21 PM on May 15, 2006


"It's not good enough."

Your opinion is noted, and I respect it. I do understand why you feel that way.

Under the circumstances, promoting abstinence (which is also being done by the government, that is, public policy) and, if a person chooses not to abstain from sex, the use of contraceptives, is the absolute best we can do given the current social consensus in the Western world. People in the West are free to live their lives and make choices, including teenagers who are faced with the choice of having sex or not.

We can't force them to have sex, to be abstinent. We can't force them to use or not use contraceptives - promotion of their use may be good public policy (IMO), but the use is still optional and dependent on the person. We can't force girls and women to have abortions, or to give birth, or to give up babies they decide to bear. They have rights under our social consensus, and those rights restrain society from forcing them to do anything. It's their choice.

So what we're doing now is all we can do, given that we have facts in our possession stating that a high rate of teen and other "unwanted" pregnancies is harmful to our society.

If what we're doing isn't enough, what measures would you suggest taking, PT?
posted by zoogleplex at 2:22 PM on May 15, 2006


agregoli, the government doesn't have any more business promoting contraceptives than it does teaching catechism.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:22 PM on May 15, 2006


So much doublethink. You know what, forget it, no need to respond to me. I re-read the latest things and you don't make any sense when you talk. You say one thing, are asked a question, and then say the opposite.

I'm back to sidelines. I really need to unplug my keyboard on this thread. I'm amazed that myself or anyone else is still engaging with you at all, really.
posted by agregoli at 2:23 PM on May 15, 2006


agregoli, the government doesn't have any more business promoting contraceptives than it does teaching catechism.

And it's been explained to you ad naseum why they DO have business teaching contraceptives. If you disagree, just say so, but stop stating that opinion as fact.
posted by agregoli at 2:23 PM on May 15, 2006


(I meant to say promoting, not teaching. Although I believe in teaching contraception to kids in school because it has been proven to reduce disease and pregnancy.)
posted by agregoli at 2:27 PM on May 15, 2006


zoogleplex: what measures would you suggest taking, PT?

School vouchers! :)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:29 PM on May 15, 2006


*ahem* "OR to be abstinent." sorry.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:30 PM on May 15, 2006


zoogleplex, I laughed (or at least used an emoticon) when I said "school vouchers," but it actually is one of the things I think would help. Your kids could go to a school where they teach advanced anal sex techniques, or whatever it is people like you think is crucially important for living a fulfilling life, and my kids could go to a school that teaches something more along the lines of what people in my community think is important for a well-lived life.

There've been serious proposals along these lines with respect to health care. Probably the most prominent guy to read on this is named Tristram Englehardt. A system of health-care centers catering to different ethical identities would have many advantages over the current arrangement, in which very few people get what they want out of their encounters with medical institutions.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:40 PM on May 15, 2006


That name was Tristram Engelhardt; sorry for the typo.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:48 PM on May 15, 2006


You haven't read Engelhardt very closely (or, I suspect, at all). I doubt that you would agree with any course of action that not only continued to maintain the status of fetuses as non-persons but expanded this to infants and the developmentally disabled. In fact, his views on infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, and many other issues would seem to be completely counter to what you believe.

And his "Foundations of Christian Bioethics" is often criticized as being anti-Catholic.

Seriously, do you just throw out concepts, names and ideas that you don't actually have any familiarity with?
posted by solid-one-love at 2:49 PM on May 15, 2006


Wow, 666 comments. *eyes peeping_t very suspiciously*
posted by zarah at 2:51 PM on May 15, 2006


"School vouchers! :)"

Oh please. Now you're trying to force us to spend our tax money on private schooling for your children?

Yer makin' me laugh, buddy. :)

Seriously, it doesn't go that way. The social consensus, public policy, determines public school curriculae. If you want to send your kids to public school (i.e., darn near free schoolin'), you have to deal with public policy. The fact that you disagree with the consensus makes no difference, if you wish to take advantage of the services provided by the consensus.

Note that you are free to teach your kids whatever you want, including that you believe contraception (and of course, sex outside of heterosexual marriage) is immoral, and that they should disregard anything that public school will teach them to the contrary. Society will not stop you in any way from doing this!

However, since they have the same rights as all kids, they are free to ignore you completely, should they choose to.

You are also free to send your kids to a religious private school which teaches things more in line with your beliefs. I'm sure there are Catholic schools near you. If not, you should move to where there is one. Also, if you can't afford it, you're free to find a better-paying job by whatever means you think necessary, so that you can pay for it.

One thing about America is that you're free to do whatever you want, as long as you can afford it (and it's not illegal).

And remember, my personal position is that if you don't send your kids to public school, you should be able to apply for a reduction in your taxes to reflect your not taking advantage of that service. That would merely be a paperwork problem, requiring some changes in a bureaucracy. Note that such a tax reduction may not cover private school tuition - but that's America for you.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:56 PM on May 15, 2006


Your kids could go to a school where they teach advanced anal sex techniques, or whatever it is people like you think is crucially important for living a fulfilling life

Hmm . . . .

Anyway, I find the level of contempt and disrespect shown in this thread pretty impressive. It won't surprise you to learn that my explanation for the uncivil tone of this conversation is that many people are oversensitive about this topic because they do not have clear consciences about it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:41 AM PST on May 10


What are you telling us, PT?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:08 PM on May 15, 2006


solid-one-love: In fact, his views on infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, and many other issues would seem to be completely counter to what you believe.

And yet I have been able to learn from him, both via reading and in person. I can actually disagree with someone without assuming they are insane, and still profit from talking to them! You should try it!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:45 PM on May 15, 2006


The fact that you said that there might be "many advantages over the current arrangement" without mentioning the massive, major disadvantages that I brought up -- disadvantages which would automatically discount the idea from being workable in your utopia -- suggests to me that you did not in fact "learn from him", and that you may have received some kind of quicksheet in point form from some fellow traveler.

Had you known about those disadvantages before you namedropped Engelhardt -- and you know as well as I do that you didn't -- you would have studiously avoided mentioning him at all. Saying that Engelhardt's ideas have many advantages would be, to you, like saying that 1939 Germany's health care system had major advantages.

And now, like others, I wash my hands of you, and of anyone else who continues to rise to your bait.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:05 PM on May 15, 2006


solid-one-love: Had you known about those disadvantages before you namedropped Engelhardt -- and you know as well as I do that you didn't -- you would have studiously avoided mentioning him at all.

I knew exactly what I was talking about as regards Engelhardt, thanks very much. Maybe you imagine I have high hopes for the moral function of the United States government, but I am quite attracted to many of Engelhardt's proposals. Your pointing out that Engelhardt is perceived as anti-Catholic is insulting: apparently you think I can do nothing other than parrot an official "Catholic" line on things.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:21 PM on May 15, 2006


I just want to reinforce something that I said in more roundabout fashion above, namely that since we live in a pluralistic society, sometimes things aren't going to go the way one particular person or group wants.

Since public school is a part of the social consensus, it's only proper that public schools teach information that the social consensus feels is appropriate and beneficial to the population as a whole.

I think what folks like PT are unhappy about is that the social consensus is that certain subjects that contradict some peoples's religious or moral viewpoints should nevertheless be taught to all children, in the public interest.

So a large aspect of what we're talking about here is that some people are afraid of their children learning something which the parents beliefs say is immoral, and thus creating grounds for the children to go against their parents's teaching. It is, once again, an issue of information control, the desire to suppress different points of view.

The reality is that in a pluralistic society, sometimes you have to put up with things you don't like - or take extraordinary measures, and incur extraordinary expense (of money, time, effort, etc.) to avoid them.

It doesn't go both ways. You can't have the advantages of the pluralistic society (like very inexpensive public education) without the drawbacks (like having that public school teach things you're unhappy about).

So, either find a school that fits your standards, or start up your own school, or home-school, and teach your kids whatever you want. That's the simplest workable solution to your problem, PT.

Of course, changing the social consensus is another possibility, but that's not simple at all.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:23 PM on May 15, 2006


zoogleplex: So a large aspect of what we're talking about here is that some people are afraid of their children learning something which the parents beliefs say is immoral, and thus creating grounds for the children to go against their parents's teaching. It is, once again, an issue of information control, the desire to suppress different points of view.

You are right that there are people who think this way. I've known many people who think of these issues precisely as you describe, and they are very concerned to control their children's access to information. I am not one of these people. So, for example, I happily send my kids to public schools and am aware of what they are exposed to and talk with them about it.

My objections to the current arrangements ("the government tells you all the options and then you choose") are somewhat different. The fundamental problem of moral education, as both Plato and Aristotle saw, is not information control, but rather character formation. Simply giving people a list of options and telling them to choose is a recipe for disaster; you end up with morally and culturally resourceless people of the sort that inhabit Internet message forums.

Our current American predicament, as I see it, is that our government does not have the standing to offer its citizens moral instruction, but the government is also required, by the press of sheer necessity (the problem of managing so much biomass), into taking on roles it is not equipped to fulfill. As many of you have been saying, and rightly, public health is an unavoidable task for a modern nation-state. But we Americans have so arranged things that our political institutions lack the character-forming capacities they would require in order to make and implement rationally defensible decisions about public health. Hence, anyone who inquires seriously into the matter quickly discovers that, as MacIntyre declared, modern moral discourse is rationally interminable. Something has to give.

I would see as more tolerable an Engelhardt-style system in which public institutions teach catechism to some communities, and secular humanism to others. That way you would get a finished product out of both sides of the public education factory that actually had the opportunity to do something more impressive with their lives than, as is now the case, simply to fall under the spell of irrational ideologues like Jerry Falwell (for the one community) or James Randi (for the other).
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:51 PM on May 15, 2006


our political institutions lack the character-forming capacities they would require in order to make and implement rationally defensible decisions about public health

This is approximately 50 gazillion times more true of the Catholic Church than of the US Government. 'Ok Dave, show me on the doll where the priest touched you.'
posted by boaz at 8:07 PM on May 15, 2006


boaz, I'm using "rationally defensible" in the relativistic sense I've described earlier.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:31 PM on May 15, 2006


Does it somehow not apply in that sense? Or is it that being molested truthfully (i.e in the absolute sense) builds character?
posted by boaz at 9:07 PM on May 15, 2006


"But we Americans have so arranged things that our political institutions lack the character-forming capacities they would require in order to make and implement rationally defensible decisions about public health."

This post above is the best thing you've written yet, and really does get to some real "meat."

I have to eat dinner so this will be short, but part of this American Experiment is that "morals" and "character" are also parts of life that can and should be determined by the social consensus, rather than from any one source - because these are relative qualities. We can all choose from where we get our morals, as part of our "pursuit of happiness." In kind, the social consensus sets its own limits on our exercise of our chosen morals; should our morals exceed the virtues of the consensus, that's fine. Should they fall short, the consensus has many mechanisms through which to handle transgressions.

Our system isn't perfect, and of course some transgressions happen and are gotten away with. I'd agree that there are some moral and/or ethical deficiencies here in the US at this point.

That part of the Experiment may not be going very well. However, on the whole I'm all right with the way the social consensus here handles the plurality!
posted by zoogleplex at 9:09 PM on May 15, 2006


zoogleplex: We can all choose from where we get our morals, as part of our "pursuit of happiness." In kind, the social consensus sets its own limits on our exercise of our chosen morals

Your proposal cannot stand.

Either one's choice of where to get one's morals is rationally justifiable or it isn't.

If the choice is rationally justifiable, then the choice must have taken place in a context of habituated patterns of thought, feeling, and action that gave appropriate kinds of salience to certain features of the source chosen. Such salience-creation requires substantive character formation, of which the social consensus you describe is, self-avowedly, incapable.

If the choice is not rationally justifiable, then whatever it is that results from the choice is not morality, because morality has authority over us, whereas rationally unjustifiable choices have no authority whatsoever.

Either way, your proposal fails.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:43 PM on May 15, 2006


zoogleplex: That part of the Experiment may not be going very well.

You think?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:49 PM on May 15, 2006


Metachicken: This thread was a massive disappointment to me for about the first two thirds. I avoided it for the longest time, but it just kept going and going, so I figured 'what the hell -- I've got a couple hours to waste, and I might learn something'.

The reason it disappointed me was that almost the only person who seemed calm and reasonable for the first two thirds was peeping_thomist. The rest of you, for the most part, were leaping around like Kubrickian apes, apoplectic and insensate with rage. Totally irrational, and insulting besides.

But I noticed that p_T seemed to be carefully avoiding telling us why he held the beliefs he does, and exactly what those beliefs were, and almost no-one was sensible enough to push him on it.

Once that started happening, though, and he actually did get hooked into detailing the structure of his beliefs, things got more interesting, and a couple of things became clear -- that he's eminently rational, but (as always) that instrumental rationality can take you into almost any direction, blind alley or otherwise, if you pursue it diligently enough and have faulty, poorly-thought-through (or simply incorrect) premises.

I was taken back to Jon Ralston Saul's fierce attack on instrumental reason in Voltaire's Bastards. I highly recommend the book to those of you who think p_T is irrational. He's not. The instrumentalist way in which he and many others think has gotten us into most of the problems our societies face, and it's totally rational. Of course, the screeching hatemonkeys (like many in this thread, especially at the start) so threatened by someone with a different belief system are far worse, but that's another thing entirely. If I were forced to choose, I'd rather have a discussion with intelligent thoughtful people I think are utterly wrong than with the 'fuck off and die' brigade any day.

That said, there was much good work done in the latter part of this thread, and much as I disagree with many of peeping_Thomist's premises (about religion and about the sophomore philosophy idea of 'potential persons' and about much else) and his methodology (his grasp of epistemology and the nuances of moral and ethical thinking are pretty tenuous, in my humble) and his conclusions (which range from uncontroversially libertarian to truly mindboggling, to me at least), I must say that his tenacity and (at least early on) placidity in the face of insults and threats has been both admirable and educational.

Still, and all, although he's someone I'd like to actually talk to, to try and get where he's coming from and learn from it, I think I'd come away from the experience a little creeped out and a lot depressed about humanity and the ways in which people of good faith may so fundamentally disagree on the most important things. And how few people of good faith (and I don't mean Faith) there seem to be. Ah well.

Anyway, it was nice to see that not every MeFite is a hooting poopflinging ape when their cherished beliefs are challenged. Too many are, but enough aren't.

And now, I've got to get back to work.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:19 AM on May 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


I would see as more tolerable an Engelhardt-style system in which public institutions teach catechism to some communities, and secular humanism to others.

What does secular humanism have to do with anything about contraception and public health issues?

How is secular humanism something you can teach other than in history of ideas? How on earth it's equivalent to religious catechism? Where are these catechism classes of secular humanists?

And how do you think the people from another religion or no religion like use of public funds to teach the catechism of your particular religion? Other religious groups with political demands would want their preachings, no matter how sectarian and wacky, incorporated in the curriculum too. This is a sure recipe for disaster. This is exactly why you have that principle of separation of church and state.

Finally, what prevents parents from teaching their own religious morals to their kids without demanding public money to do it?

a finished product out of both sides of the public education factory

Yeah, that's a very moral view of education, a factory churning out products. Products, vouchers, gee, why don't you turn over public education entirely to private corporations, that way you can just demand anything and they'll give it to you as long as there's a niche market for it. Surely that's the best way to reinfoce a shared ethical and civic spirit in a pluralistic society!

Man, the hypocrisy and selfishness there is really something.
posted by funambulist at 12:29 AM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: Yeah, that's a very moral view of education, a factory churning out products.

Traditionally, (e.g., in Plato's Republic) education was thought of as having two phases: the first, in which the young person's character has imposed on it a certain "imprint" or "seal", and the second in which the young person is invited to inquire into whether the "imprint" he or she has received is rationally superior to known alternatives. For the first phase it makes sense to talk about the "product" of education; for the second phase it does not. I had this distinction in mind when I used the word "product".

When the first phase of education is abandoned and left in private hands, as is the case in our present situation, the second phase of education has no starting point. Such aborted efforts at education as remain can do nothing more than engender morally and culturally resourceless people like ludwig_van, Optimus_Chyme, and all the other poopflinging monkeys around here.

To put it bluntly, you can't ask whether what you have been taught is true if you haven't learned anything. You'll end up either living a completely unreflective life, or else self-consciously embracing emotivism, but in either case your mode of life will be ultimately arbitrary and lacking rational justification. And that's the way most of you prefer it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:39 AM on May 16, 2006


Stavros, have you even read PT's posts? WE've been called perverted, told that we want advanced anal sex techniques taught to children, called perverted again, call morally and culturally resoucreless - whatever that means - and called perverted again. And again and again.

I didn't make anything approaching a personal attack until here, when PT started to deliberately misrepresent other people's words, and well after he started second-guessing other people's marriages.

I have a reputation as a religion-hater and attack dog, and that's pretty much true. But to claim that PT has behaved well while the rest of us are just mean jerks who say "fuck you fuck you lalalala" is absolutely not true.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:17 AM on May 16, 2006


Traditionally, (e.g., in Plato's Republic)

We don't live in Plato's world. In our world, education as a factory and students as a product has a very real, non-ambiguous meaning: the application of commercial and consumerist practices and mindsets to education. Parents want this and that, they get it.

Now, since you're the one saying you'd like a situation where parents get vouchers and they get their own public-funded choice of sectarian education for their kids, I think you're very much envisioning education as a purely commercial enterprise, which makes your talk of morality less impressive to me.


Is that clearer now? Cos I have a feeling it was already, but you have an uncanny ability in dodging the actual points and questions anyone else makes (again, how do you envisage your tax-funded voucher system working in a society with as many religions as you can name, including Scientology?) and shifting the discussion from real, practical issues to philosophical abstractions that have nothing to do with the matter at hand: how the state should use educational means to reduce unwanted teen pregnancies and STD's.

Let's not talk about the disparity between the US and other developed countries with less incidence of those phenomena and higher levels of sex education in schools. Let's talk about Plato, Aristotle, and St Thomas of Aquinas. Yeah, that's a fruitful way of approaching that issue.

Such aborted efforts at education as remain can do nothing more than engender morally and culturally resourceless people like ludwig_van, Optimus_Chyme, and all the other poopflinging monkeys around here.

Yeah, heh, those barbaric pervs, attacking unprovoked for no reason at all. They should all take lessons in morality, culture, honesty, civility and genuine interest in discussion from you, obviously. Hey maybe you could start your own school! You can even get public money for it, no?
posted by funambulist at 6:39 AM on May 16, 2006


And, this:

...your mode of life will be ultimately arbitrary and lacking rational justification. And that's the way most of you prefer it.

So the only possible rationality, ethics and morals is to be found in your own system of thought, everyone else is perverted, right? Is that what you mean? This whole discussion on contraception, no one but you put any forth rational and ethical reasons for positions you don't subscribe to?

Well, in that case, rather interesting for someone who started out saying "I don't appreciate being called a cretin and a nutjob".

If you don't subscribe to common principles of rationality, ethics and morals that reasonable people of all religious persuasions or none can - and as it happens, with the exception of fundamentalists, often do! - share in a pluralistic secular society, then, I don't know how you can say you're the one fighting total arbitrariness.
posted by funambulist at 7:12 AM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: the application of commercial and consumerist practices and mindsets to education. Parents want this and that, they get it.

Ah, I see what you had in mind. No, that's not at all how I was thinking about it. My point had to do with what is required for community-formation, not with parents as consumers. Fuck parents as consumers.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:16 AM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: So the only possible rationality, ethics and morals is to be found in your own system of thought, everyone else is perverted, right? Is that what you mean?

I keep telling you that I am a relativist about rationality. What do I have to do to get you to believe me?

funambulist: This whole discussion on contraception, no one but you put any forth rational and ethical reasons for positions you don't subscribe to?

Wow. I honestly do not see how you could have gotten that out of what I've said. Maybe you could focus on something specific I said.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:19 AM on May 16, 2006


But to claim that PT has behaved well while the rest of us are just mean jerks who say "fuck you fuck you lalalala" is absolutely not true.

I made no such claim.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:22 AM on May 16, 2006


stavrosthewonderchicken: The instrumentalist way in which he and many others think has gotten us into most of the problems our societies face

It's a mistake to think that I reason instrumentally, but I can see why you'd think that. Throughout this discussion, I've been having to "translate" my comments from a context in which they are justified by appeal to substantive criteria of rationality into a context in which the only available shared conception of rationality is instrumental. That's why I've repeatedly said things like "I would never argue here that contraception is wrong, only that people who think contraception is wrong are not irrational or insane." I certainly am able to argue that contraception is wrong, but I'd never be stupid enough to try to do it here. So I interpret your comment above as being more about the limitations of instrumental rationality than it is about me as someone whose thought is constrained by instrumental rationality.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:28 AM on May 16, 2006


No, that's not at all how I was thinking about it. My point had to do with what is required for community-formation, not with parents as consumers.

Except, that's exactly what you're advocating with the vouchers thing, not that you'd ever acknowledge it, I know, or even address it, but that was my point.

I keep telling you that I am a relativist about rationality. What do I have to do to get you to believe me?

Oh no, I do totally believe you on that, but thing is, you are advocating an educational system where instead of sharing and accepting common ground, as happens or should happen in a secular society, every specific religious group gets public-funded endorsement for their own religious beliefs (or only for yours, not the Muslisms or Jews or Scientologists? I don't know cos you still haven't answered that) which means despite your talk of natural law and universal truths and meanings you are in practice a moral relativist, not just a relativist about reason. You're happy with the idea of a balkanised non-secular society where your/every religion gets special treatment and public endorsement, and with the govermnent caving to religious groups pressures rather than looking out for everybody based on those common principles.

And yet, you're accusing others of wanting a society where both rationality and morals are totally arbitrary and fragmented.

But no, you couldn't be possibly coming across as highly contradictory, that's just other people's biases, no?

Wow. I honestly do not see how you could have gotten that out of what I've said

Ok then, let's play this game for another 200 comments, yay! I mean, nevermind all you said through the whole thread and all the talk of perversion, this is right after you called the people who debated with you "morally and culturally resourceless", attributing to them a preference for a totally arbitrary society with no shared principles.

Now, pray tell, in what other way do you think that should be read other than you don't think there is a rationality and moral outside the specific version you subscribe to? hence, "This whole discussion on contraception, no one but you put any forth rational and ethical reasons for positions you don't subscribe to?"

You just said you are a relativist on rationality, then you practically deny it. That's some extreme-sport version of relativism, dude.
posted by funambulist at 8:43 AM on May 16, 2006


I made no such claim.

Um, stavros, you said:

the only person who seemed calm and reasonable for the first two thirds was peeping_thomist. The rest of you, for the most part, were leaping around like Kubrickian apes, apoplectic and insensate with rage. Totally irrational, and insulting besides.

So I guess we could argue B.S. semantics since that seems to be the theme of this thread, but my hyperbole wasn't all that far off.

Also, natural language of the body.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:08 AM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: instead of sharing and accepting common ground, as happens or should happen in a secular society

You and I don't share substantive common ground. Haven't we already established that?

funambulist: or only for yours, not the Muslisms or Jews or Scientologists? I don't know cos you still haven't answered that

No one ever asked, that I can remember. I'm all for having as many public institutions catering to particular ethical identities as there are viable communities to support them.

funambulist: with the govermnent caving to religious groups pressures rather than looking out for everybody based on those common principles.

"Common principles" are something you demand that I acknowledge when you have your boot on my neck. Fuck your common principles.

Have I mentioned yet that there's a problem in our society about pluralism? Maybe I forgot to mention it.

Whatever common ground you and I have is going to have to be very minimal, and is sure as fuck is not going to involve teaching children how to use condoms.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:33 AM on May 16, 2006


Narcissistic personality disorder
posted by Floydd at 9:52 AM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: in what other way do you think that should be read other than you don't think there is a rationality and moral outside the specific version you subscribe to?

Just because your tribe, the advocates of a particularly clueless kind of liberalism, cannot mount a serious challenge to Catholic views doesn't mean that there are no communities that can. Apparently you think of your community as the only one there is, while you at the same time try to pretend that it is not a community at all but only a collection of individuals united under "common principles" for mutual self-interest.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:55 AM on May 16, 2006


Just because your tribe, the advocates of a particularly clueless kind of liberalism, cannot mount a serious challenge to Catholic views

My tribe cured smallpox and went to the moon. I'd say that's pretty good.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:02 AM on May 16, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, pretty good as measured how?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:05 AM on May 16, 2006


You and I don't share substantive common ground. Haven't we already established that?


You were more than willing to participate in the discussion, if all you wanted to say was "we don't share any common ground, now fuck off", you could have stopped right there.

This discussion is not about you and I, though, or you and any other commenter. It's about education and contraception in relation to the whole of society.

If you want to make it a "you and I" situation, then just imagine you and I both had kids in the same public school, and you were part of a group picketing and protesting that said school has a sex ed programme where contraception is taught alongside with abstinence, so as to provide all information with the realistic expectation that no matter how much you recommend waiting some teens are going to have sex anyway.

You and your group would protest and demand that said programme be scrapped. In addition, like you stated in this thread, you and your group would demand that the school teach catechism for parents who get the vouchers for that, and the others can get other vouchers and so on.

How would we, general, as a society, be going to resolve those differences for the purpose of living together, ie. in the scope of shared spaces such as public institutions, if we abdicate the principle there is and should be a common ground based on a separation of church and state?

No answer needed, it's a rhetorical question. Plenty of examples in past and recent history to show exactly what happens when that principle is abdicated. I guess those risks are not really important for you as long as the evil evil condoms don't get into schools.

I'm all for having as many public institutions catering to particular ethical identities as there are viable communities to support them.

Ok then (and yes I asked about three times at least). I already said what I think of that.

I just find it curious you are against paying taxes for an education that presents also information on contraception, but you would be ok with paying taxes to benefit other recognised churches, no matter how much more radically different from your positions they may be, in comparison to common education.

I'm sure that's a much more reasonable approach than allowing all those poor innocent students to hear more about condoms and the pill.

But you know it's never gonna happen anyway.

"Common principles" are something you demand that I acknowledge when you have your boot on my neck.

Oh yeah right I forgot you are being persecuted, crucified like Jesus, by the modern-day Romans and Jews who talk about secular common principles while actually preparing their knives and pitchforks. Sure.

Fuck your common principles

Oh well. They're the principles that allow you to exist and maintain your beliefs and identity. If you didn't live in a secular society, you'd be at the actual, not imagined, mercy of whatever other group gained control by force and decided your religion was verboten.

History lesson in order here, Mr Fuck Your Common Principles.
posted by funambulist at 10:17 AM on May 16, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, pretty good as measured how?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:05 AM PST on May 16


As measured by those who believe that Catholic-stoner epistomology is useless and boring, and that it should be ignored in favor of physical reality.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:22 AM on May 16, 2006


Fuck your common principles.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:33 AM PST on May 16


*stavros applauds*
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:23 AM on May 16, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: As measured by those who believe that Catholic-stoner epistomology is useless and boring, and that it should be ignored in favor of physical reality.

And how is that a non-arbitrary standard?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:26 AM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: I just find it curious you are against paying taxes for an education that presents also information on contraception, but you would be ok with paying taxes to benefit other recognised churches

I'd be willing to pay taxes for schools that teach only contraception and not abstinence, so long as there were also available public schools catering to different communities. What is curious about that?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:29 AM on May 16, 2006


And how is that a non-arbitrary standard?

God told me it was the One True Path.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:32 AM on May 16, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, that doesn't strike me as a non-arbitrary standard.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:35 AM on May 16, 2006


God is the Ultimate Reality; therefore it is not arbitrary.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:53 AM on May 16, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, where can I find your claims elaborated in more detail and defended against objections?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:58 AM on May 16, 2006


They come to me in revelations from the Throne itself.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: They come to me in revelations from the Throne itself.

So then how do they function as the organizing principles of your community?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, for example, how do the other members of your community find out about your revelations? How do they distinguish between your revelations and what you say when you are drunk? And so on.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:11 AM on May 16, 2006


So then how do they function as the organizing principles of your community?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:10 AM PST on May 16


We wrote them down in a secret book. I am not the first person to get the revelations. We distinguish between them and false revelations through secret methods that you could not possibly understand.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:17 AM on May 16, 2006


Then they do not prove a public rationale for your shared way of life.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:20 AM on May 16, 2006


Oh I missed that, I have a tribe now, woo hoo!

For the record, and god please let me forget about the existence of this thread so I stop coming back here wasting time: peeping_thomist, I come from a largely Catholic background. You don't get to present yourself and your incredibly sectarian, convoluted and narrow-minded views as THE self-appointed representative of "Catholic views" anymore than I could, because among ordinary Catholics the world over there's many more views than what you account for, including a big chunk that uses and endorses contraception; what you're doing is trying to parrot official Catholic views from the actual spokesmen of the Roman Church, but you're not doing a great job of that either, despite your delusions, not least because you're trying to pretend their official stance on contraception is not really religious-based and can be justified by non-religious arguments, which would be laughable to anyone in an actual official position to defend that stance.

And you don't get to define what my "community" is either, you shining example of the virtue of humility.

You don't even want to understand the meaning of "secular", you just build it up as the straw man fundamentalists use, the kind of straw man where scientific theories are on a par with non scientific ones and secular principles on a par with fanaticism. You are ignorant by choice. Enjoy it, and thank your God you weren't born in a country that has not attained even the most basic level of secular democracy, or you would have learnt your lesson the hard way.
posted by funambulist at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2006


Then they do not prove a public rationale for your shared way of life.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:20 AM PST on May 16


No, they do. The Throne is the highest of all judges. It is Ultimate Reality. It has revealed that all must obey the Will of the Throne under penalty of death, including you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:25 AM on May 16, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, that's all well and good for a community living in isolation. But the problem of rational justification does not arise until after you encounter rivals. But you cannot display your rational superiority over rival communities if you cannot describe how your revelations function as organizing principles for your society. All you can do is pretend you have not noticed that you live in a pluralistic world. Which you've been doing a pretty good job of so far, not to your credit. You seem to be confused about how the problem of rational justification (as opposed to the brute fact of received authorities) works.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: you're trying to pretend their official stance on contraception is not really religious-based and can be justified by non-religious arguments, which would be laughable to anyone in an actual official position to defend that stance.

I don't know how Catholic or not your background is, but apparently it didn't include actually reading the documents in which Church teaching is formulated. The teaching about contraception is explicitly presented in such documents as something that can be known on the basis of non-religious arguments.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:02 PM on May 16, 2006


But you cannot display your rational superiority over rival communities if you cannot describe how your revelations function as organizing principles for your society.

no kidding
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:08 PM on May 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Optimus Chyme, you rule.
posted by agregoli at 12:10 PM on May 16, 2006


So, Optimus_Chyme, back to my question: by what non-arbitrary measure is your community doing a "pretty good" job of doing whatever it is communities are supposed to do?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:18 PM on May 16, 2006


Well played, OC.
Well played.
posted by Floydd at 12:18 PM on May 16, 2006


Seriously, are you guys wondering how Christian revelation serves as an organizing principle of Catholic communities? I would have thought that was a matter of public knowledge.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:22 PM on May 16, 2006


*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*
posted by Floydd at 12:24 PM on May 16, 2006


Floydd, would I be right in interepreting you as suggesting that considering what counts as a good community and what counts as a non-arbitrary standard for answering that question are both forms of mental masturbation?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:24 PM on May 16, 2006


"on the basis of non-religious arguments" as defined by the Catholic church itself, ie. not so non-religious at all.

Quiz time, it's called Which Clever Celebrity Are You:
If the Church of Scientology tells us their aversion to psychiatry is based on non-Scientologist arguments, does that make the Scientologist position against psychiatry totally non-biased just because Scientologists say so?

If you answer yes, you're a moron or you're taking the piss, and Fuck you and your common principles©. If you answer no, congratulations, you finally accepted a point so obvious it hurt, but Fuck you and your common principles© for wasting everyone's time to get there.

By the way, I obviously lied, I was brought up as a Scientologist and I recommend vitamins.

PS - God doesn't exist because he didn't prevent me from posting to this thread again. I prayed and prayed so hard. I wanted to abstain. But knowing that I could post here and no one would bother to read except the few stoic souls still making it after 700 comments, I couldn't resist the urge. Metafilter is much like sex education that makes teenagers go wild and engange in anal perversion. This thread needs an exorcism or a psychiatrist, let's roll a dice to see who we shoud call, it's all relative, so it's all the same. Prrrr.
posted by funambulist at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: "on the basis of non-religious arguments" as defined by the Catholic church itself, ie. not so non-religious at all.

You had said that no one "in an actual official position" would ever say that the teaching against contraception can be justified by non-religious arguments. That was just plain wrong.

In any case, your response here misses its target.

Suppose your math teacher, by the name of Fermat, tells you in his last letter to you that a particular theorem can be known on the basis of arguments other than arguments from authority. If you subsequently fail to prove the theorem, you would not infer from this that your teacher had misunderstood the difference between arguments from authority and other kinds of arguments. You would probably infer, instead, that either you hadn't yet hit upon the proof he had in mind, or else you had hit upon it but he was in error about whether it proved the theorem. And you certainly wouldn't start blabbering about Fermat claiming that something was knowable "on the basis of arguments other than arguments from authority as defined by Fermat".
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:52 PM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: If the Church of Scientology tells us their aversion to psychiatry is based on non-Scientologist arguments, does that make the Scientologist position against psychiatry totally non-biased just because Scientologists say so?

No, and I have never claimed that the fact that the Church claims that something can be known without appeal to revelation counts as evidence in this forum that it can be known without appeal to revelation. The only time I have mentioned what the Church teaches on this matter is to clarify that the Church does teach that contraception can be known to be wrong without having to make appeal to revelation, in response to uninformed people like you who had denied it. And what I claimed is true, and easily verified.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:58 PM on May 16, 2006


Wow, OC. That was impressive. *claps*

PT, math is not in any way comparable to religion, because numbers always work the same way every time you use them. Fermat's last theorem may have begun without a mathematical proof, but that doesn't mean the proof isn't mathematical, or that any kind of non-mathematical proof can exist for it alongside a mathematical one.

Besides, an appeal to authority is not proof, it's a logical fallacy.

Apples to oranges.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:18 PM on May 16, 2006


Floydd: great link! Thanks.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:33 PM on May 16, 2006


religious opposition to contraception [not the same as] mathematical theorem

church says x [where x equals "contraception is wrong"] can be known without appeal to revelation as defined by said religion [not the same as] scientific standards of rationality by which contraception can be evaluated as useful, said standards don't even have a concept of sin, revelation, or natural law; as for ethical standards, none outside religion can consider contraception a sin against the natural order of God because they don't have a belief in God as their foundation.

Contraception is considered a sin by the Roman Church. Sin is a religious concept. It's about men cannot put obstacles to God's plan to create a new life. Humanae Vitae etc. RC does also argue against it in terms they claim are universal and non-religious, but universal natural law in a theological system where nature is seen as God's creation is still a religious concept, and only a major twit with a diabolically trollish bent would argue that the RC is denying that the very basis for their position is belief in on God, as that'd be juuust a little self-defeating for a CHURCH passing itself as THE representative of God on earth.


Trivia pause to lighten the mood: totally unrelated non-news.
posted by funambulist at 3:41 PM on May 16, 2006


This kind of question requires from the teaching authority of the Church a new and deeper reflection on the principles of the moral teaching on marriage—a teaching which is based on the natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation.

No member of the faithful could possibly deny that the Church is competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law. ...For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men's eternal salvation. (3)

.... God has wisely ordered laws of nature.... The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine.... the natural law of God


- from the flippin' horse's mouth

natural law = faith-based Catholic morals, you obfuscating fwapping fool
posted by funambulist at 3:53 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex: math is not in any way comparable to religion

That claim would be relevant if I were comparing math to religion. I was not. I was comparing two quite mundane propositions ("the formula 'x^n + y^n = z^n' has no non-zero integer solutions for x, y and z when n > 2" and "contraception is wrong"), and pointing out that for each of these propositions there either is or is not a valid and sound proof that does not appeal to authority. Neither of the propositions in question inherently has anything more to do with religion than the other. For medieval neo-Platonists, in fact, the mathematical proposition might have more to do with religion than the moral one.

Why is what you want to say not adequately articulated by saying that you think the Church is in error when it claims that contraception can be known to be wrong on the basis of reason? What is added by this nonsense about "non-religious as defined by the Catholic church itself"? I really don't get it.

As for your claim that there can't exist a non-mathematical proof alongside a mathematical one, that's just stupid. Of course it can. When I turn in my geometry homework, I give a mathematical proof. When my teacher gives the thumbs up (or thumbs down), that's a proof from authority. Those two kinds of proof routinely coexist. Maybe you had some other claim you were trying to make, but if so I didn't catch it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:59 PM on May 16, 2006


funambulist: natural law = faith-based Catholic morals

That's not what the Church teaches.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:01 PM on May 16, 2006


funambulist, the phrase "the natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation" has a very specific meaning in Catholic theology. I don't blame you for not knowing about that meaning, but it is a huge mistake to claim that the Church teaches that "natural law = faith-based Catholic morals". The Church teaches that the natural law is known to all human beings on the basis of human reason, not revelation. That's why, when the Church teaches on moral matters on the basis of divine revelation, she is in a position to "illuminate and enrich" the natural law. As I told zoogleplex, feel free to disagree with what the Church teaches, but please don't misrepresent it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:07 PM on May 16, 2006


Try this, Funambulist.

"It was reported that 4,450 Roman Catholic priests have been accused of sexually abusing children since 1950." Over ten thousand children molested by priests in the USA alone.

Pope Ratz is largely responsible for helping protect child-raping Priests. Evil bastard.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:20 PM on May 16, 2006


five_fresh_fish: Over ten thousand children molested by priests in the USA alone.

How does that compare, per capita, to children molested by schoolteachers or den leaders or other authority figures in contact with children? Oh, I forgot, it doesn't matter!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:29 PM on May 16, 2006


Only one of those groups had institutional support to help them escape punishment.
posted by sonofsamiam at 4:32 PM on May 16, 2006


So I guess we could argue B.S. semantics since that seems to be the theme of this thread, but my hyperbole wasn't all that far off.

Read what I wrote (the entirety of my comment, rather than a cherry-picked phrase), read what you wrote. They do not say the same thing.

*stavros applauds*

Bad faith, OC. It seems to me that you are part of the larger problem, not of any kind of solution, no matter how much you pride yourself on being on the 'right side'.

The sad thing is, for me at least, is that much as I may dislike the way you quickly moved to demonize, oversimplify and marginalize my comments (which you mistakenly took as supporting your adversary rather than you), that I have many more and deeper problems with what peeping_Thomist says and appears to believe.

Which lands me back in my customary position of broad and committed misanthropy. Fair enough. It's about the only defensible position left, most days.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:32 PM on May 16, 2006


"Why is what you want to say not adequately articulated by saying that you think the Church is in error when it claims that contraception can be known to be wrong on the basis of reason?"

Actually that rather adequately sums it up. I believe the Church is entirely in error by claiming that.

I also believe the Church's working definition of "reason" is different from mine, which would be fairly well described as "processing numerically or statistically quantifiable information observed within the physical world using the rules of logic, while doing one's best to set aside emotional influences that may interfere with acceptance of data and/or conclusions therefrom."

That's where "non-religious as defined by the Church" comes in. I believe what funambulist means is that he believes that the Church's definition of what is religious or not cannot be accepted at face value. And I agree with him. I do not accept the Catholic Church as any kind of authority applying to my existence, or to anything else in existence.

"When my teacher gives the thumbs up (or thumbs down), that's a proof from authority."

Erm, I don't think that's true. He's not proving anything, he's just saying you're wrong or you're right. If he says you're wrong, your next question should immediately be "why?", and an actual proof should follow - if he doesn't volunteer the proof before you even ask. That's how people learn from their mistakes.

"As for your claim that there can't exist a non-mathematical proof alongside a mathematical one, that's just stupid. Of course it can."

Not for a mathematical theorem.

"Those two kinds of proof routinely coexist."

Not for a mathematical problem. Just because an authority says some mathematical concept is true doesn't mean it is; mathematics requires that a mathematical proof be found.

Fermat's last theorem and the concept that contraception is wrong are not "mundane" items.

The former is a mathematical equation that is either objectively and definitively true or false, and can be proven so (or not) objectively, definitively, and unambiguously, using mathematics alone. In addition, that proof or disproof is repeatable by anyone on earth who learns mathematics.

On the other hand, the latter is a moral concept, which cannot be shown as an absolute truth or falsehood except within the rules of a moral framework. Since not everyone works within the same moral framework, any moral framework must be defined as subjective, as well as elective. If morals had the level of absoluteness of mathematical equations, everyone would be affected by them the same way we are all affected by gravity.

Therefore these items cannot be compared in terms of what is objectively true or false.

A more comparable item would be another concept, such as "for any physical harm visited on a person, let the attacker suffer the same physical harm," i.e. the old "eye for an eye" maxim, and whether that concept can be objectively shown to be right or wrong.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:37 PM on May 16, 2006


sonofsamiam, that's a very good point.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:45 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex: Therefore these items cannot be compared in terms of what is objectively true or false.

Here's where the distinction between relativism about rationality and relativism about truth becomes important for my position.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:48 PM on May 16, 2006


How does that compare, per capita, to children molested by schoolteachers or den leaders or other authority figures in contact with children?

Sweet jaysus, you were dead serious when you said you're a moral relativist!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:52 PM on May 16, 2006


five_fresh_fish, don't get me wrong. The way bishops handled child abuse cases makes my blood boil. That, not the number of cases of child abuse (which is what you posted about), is what is so offensive.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:01 PM on May 16, 2006


"Here's where the distinction between relativism about rationality and relativism about truth becomes important for my position."

Oh, okay, well please explain in detail how the distinction becomes important?
posted by zoogleplex at 5:02 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex: On the other hand, the latter is a moral concept, which cannot be shown as an absolute truth or falsehood except within the rules of a moral framework

I assume it won't surprise you that I think you are relying on a fact/value distinction that has long been discredited. The many philosophers who tried to rationally sustain that distinction failed. Now most philosophers either take the distinction (as you clearly do) as an article of faith or they reject it. I reject it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:04 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex, I think there's an objective truth in moral matters, every bit as much in mathematics. The same kinds of arguments that can be (and have been) made against objective moral truth can be (and have been) made against objective mathematical truth. I think such arguments fail all around. Sorry for not spelling it out.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:07 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex, as for whether there are proofs other than mathematical proofs for mathematical theorems: your point seems to be that there are no mathematical proofs other than mathematical proofs for mathematical theorems. To which I say: yes, but why would you think that's the only possible kind of proof?

I'm using "proof" in a very homely sense. You clearly have something much more elevated in mind. Replace "proof" with "argument" if it helps you see the point.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:13 PM on May 16, 2006


"The many philosophers who tried to rationally sustain that distinction failed."

Please provide links to places where I can read about this.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:14 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex, for example, if we have a computing machine that does machine proofs, we can look at the result it spits out, and, relying in part on our knowledge of physics, conclude that a certain mathematical theorem is true, even though we cannot reconstruct--or even follow--the proof generated by the machine.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:15 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex: Please provide links to places where I can read about this.

You might try here or here or here.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:21 PM on May 16, 2006


"To which I say: yes, but why would you think that's the only possible kind of proof?"

Well, I don't think that a mathematical proof is the only kind of proof - but it is the only kind of proof for a mathematical theorem. You can make any argument you want about a mathematical theorem, but until and unless you show it with mathematics it isn't relevant to the proof of the theorem.

I guess where I'm going is that when you can demonstrate your concept of absolute morality to me (and everyone else) in the same way I can demonstrate how the speed of light is invariant with respect to the motion of a light-emitting body or an observer thereof through space-time as considered via Einsteinian relativity, then I'll accept it as a well-supported and for all intents and purposes "true" idea.

"zoogleplex, for example, if we have a computing machine that does machine proofs, we can look at the result it spits out, and, relying in part on our knowledge of physics, conclude that a certain mathematical theorem is true, even though we cannot reconstruct--or even follow--the proof generated by the machine."

That's interesting. However, the machine still did the math, and it is possible for humans to eventually take it apart and understand the math. It's just a lot faster to program a machine to do the job and let it do the grunt work.

Thanks for the links. Probably take me quite a while to get through them, so it's unlikely I'll be able to respond in this thread.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:36 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex: it is possible for humans to eventually take it apart and understand the math.

Not necessarily. Some proofs can have more steps than you could read in a lifetime, let alone understand.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:40 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex, lighten up, it was a joke. You asked for "links to places where I can read about this". :)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:41 PM on May 16, 2006


Heh, well it's not really a joke, that does seem to be where I would start reading about where you're coming from, eh? I am interested, so it's probably worth my time to look a bit of this up. As you say, it makes sense to try to understand where someone's coming from when you think he's not making sense. :)

"Not necessarily. Some proofs can have more steps than you could read in a lifetime, let alone understand."

True. I should have said that it is technically possible for humans to understand the math, but not always practically possible.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:08 PM on May 16, 2006


zoogleplex: it is technically possible for humans to understand the math

But it's not technically possible for humans to understand the math. The human lifespan is not infinitely malleable. Plus, there's a limit to our cranial capacity. The changes needed to overcome these two limits sufficient to be able to read and understand any arbitrarily large machine-generated proof would result in beings other than humans. Perhaps those beings could understand such proofs, but then they could also tell us about them too, and we could believe the theorems on their authority.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:29 PM on May 16, 2006


Furthermore, such beings (with sufficiently longer lifespans and larger brains) not only could inform us about theorems that they could prove that we ourselves could never prove, but they could tell us about theorems that we have not yet proved, but could in principle prove. In addition, they could tell us which theorems we could prove and which ones we would have to trust them about because we could never prove them.

The Church teaches that the wrongness of contraception (unlike, say, the divinity of Christ or the trinity of divine persons) is something we can prove for ourselves, but she does not tell us which particular proof we should use to prove it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:08 PM on May 16, 2006


So if I haven’t proved to myself that contraception is wrong outside a religious context I’m just not looking hard enough?
posted by Tenuki at 10:06 PM on May 16, 2006


I believe what funambulist means is that he believes that the Church's definition of what is religious or not cannot be accepted at face value.

zoogleplex, yes (it's she, btw), you read correctly :)

But it's not just that, it's that this particular sophistry, quoting Mr Fuck You Common Principles:

ludwig_van, by the way, you are ignorant of what the Catholic Church teaches if you think that the Church teaches that the reasons against contraception are religious. The Church teaches that the wrongness of contraception is part of what is called the "natural law" that can be known by all human beings, without having to rely on revelation

is just a trick of semantics such as the many we've seen in this thread.

Let me explain, for the interest of people who may still be following this thread and be in any doubt as to the intellectual honesty of Mr FYCP.

The Catholic use of "natural law" is not a way of reaching out to people that do not belong to the Catholic religion, and telling them, hey folks, we know you don't believe in all this revelation stuff and Jesus and the Gospels/Bible, or you may believe it in but you're a different Christian denomination and you don't recognise our moral authority to interpret the words of Jesus and the Bible, but here, we offer you this concept of natural law that applies to you too, because natural law is universal and completely detached from a belief in God, or our particular brand of God, so you should recognise our moral authority anyway and follow our pronouncements on all matters of morals even if you're not a Catholic.

The Catholic Church has universal aspiration but is not that demented to undercut its own religious foundation and start talking about morals as completely detached from God.

The passage I quoted in the previous comment is from the Humanae Vitae encyclical which in 1968 was the first official pronouncement on contraception, and whose argument has only been reinforced recently, it has not changed.

Did you notice I specifically quoted references in it to "natural law"? Did you notice how Mr FYCP latched on in his response only to one phrase that he twisted his own way, playing semantics again to muddy the waters all the while accusing me of misrepresentation?

Did you notice he forgot to take in phrases from HV such as "the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men's eternal salvation" and even more unambiguously clear: "the natural law of God"?

How can anyone claim that that Catholic concept of natural law is not dependent on belief in God, and that arguments against contraception are not religious, when you have the fricking POPE telling you it's the natural law OF GOD that dictates contraception is wrong?

If we want to avoid misrepresenting the position of the Catholic Church, whose word do you think we should take on the matter, the Pope or Mr Semantics here?

You know, I thought saying he's a narcissist was a bit like, rude and uncivil and poo-flinging, but if someone thinks he has more of an authority on what the Roman Catholic Church teaches than the Pope himself...

"Without having to rely on revelation" [absolutely not the same thing as] "the reasons against contraception are NOT religious".

From the point of view of the Catholic Church itself, the distinction between "natural law" and "divine revelation" in the Catholic Church's own thinking and arguing on these matters, or any matter really, is due to the fact that the Catholic Church makes pronouncements and rules and dictates for its followers that are not contained in the Bible and do not come from Jesus' preaching as in the Gospels, ie. revelation.

The Catholic Church therefore makes that distinction to justify its own moral authority, in this case, it's not authority in interpreting the direct preaching of Jesus, ie. revelation, it's authority in making its own moral laws that do not have an explicit basis in those preachings, ie. not directly revealed to mankind through the words of Jesus.

They're preachings the Church develops on its own, but always based on the premise of God as creator and themselves as interpreters of His will as manifested in nature which is created by God. Duh!

The concept of "natural law" is functional to the existence of the Church and its role as moral arbiter for its followers.

There was a schism on that, as we all know. If the Roman Catholic Church abdicated to the concept of "natural law" as the law of God of whom they see themselves as representatives on earth, everyone would be a PROTESTANT and the RC would have no reason to justify its existence!

To recap and go back to the point of contraception: the content of the HV encyclical, the first and still valid RC official pronouncement on contraception, is very clear on why contraception is against God/the natural law of God, same thing - again quoting straight from the source: ...an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will. But to experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator.

God is never out of the picture there for a single second, and to claim otherwise is playing games with words. To claim that "the Church teaches that the reasons against contraception are NOT religious" is plain old bullshit.

This is what happens with bullshit based on arrogance and semantics games, it takes just one sentence to do that, pulling things out of one's own magic hat (to be polite), it takes 9,000 words to show it for the bullshit it is. And the funniest thing, I needn't have written all this at all anyway!, because the Humanae Vitae encyclical and all following pronouncements that reinforced its stance on contraception are more than CLEAR enough to anyone with basic reading capabilities that it's a religious argument based on belief in God. Pope or Metafilter user peeping_Thomist? You choose who's the one with the credibility to speak on what the Pope's own church actually teaches.
posted by funambulist at 1:33 AM on May 17, 2006


And for the record, I would be even more passionate in refuting that bullshit and stressing that God-based foundation of the argument against contraception if I actually believed in it and supported the moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church. For obvious reasons, beacuse if you're not prepared to defend your religious beliefs as religious, then wtf are you doing being religious anyway?
posted by funambulist at 1:39 AM on May 17, 2006


If I may return very briefly to the natural language of the body. What constitutes this natural language of the body? You can't mean something like American Sign Language--because that's really not much different than spoken languages, and appears, to me at least, as arbitrary in its particulars as any given written or spoken natural human language. Outside of some (fashionably questionable) Chomskyesk substrate, these gestures simply mean what we've agreed they mean.

Can you mean something like a smile, or laughter? But there are so many different kinds of smiles--the bright smile upon seeing a close friend, the wide grin from hearing a good joke, and the clever smirk of the hypocrite secretly pleased with himself. So many different, subtle variations, it's often quite difficult to tease apart exactly what the meaner meant. And who's the final authority? The possibly subconscious inferer, or the often perplexed inferee, or some smugly authoritative third body with an agenda? So many context-dependent interpretations of a single act? You can't mean that.

You can't mean something like that, because there is such an unfathomably broad spectrum in the emotions, gestures, and spirit in the manner of enacting the marital act, even excepting those acts of perversion--and I'm even assuming that they include, far beyond say, two women in love, such heterosexual unmentionables as oral sex, the tweaking of another's nipple, or the gentle biting and sucking of the partner's neck so as to result in, dare I say it, a hickey. Pity sex the same as makeup sex the same out-door-on-the-isolated-beach-adventure sex the same as gentle-and-exploratory-first-time sex the same as deeply-in-love-passionate sex? You can't mean something like that, since only an unimaginative fool who's never had sex twice could think that. Pity-sex-on-the-eve-of-a-painful-separation means I'm all for you? You can't mean that.

I know what I would like you to mean. But I'm a hopeless romantic. Because, during many (but not all, of course, of course) of my fucking gestures of love, I come always the to the very same feeling. It's kind of like I'm all for you but much, much more intense. Really, it's kind of frightening, on par with say, the overwhelming desire to permanently lose one's ego. I suppose you might just call it a perversion and dismiss it as belonging outside the sanctioned, acceptable emotions, and to the dung-heap along with all those vile acts and the people who just can't seem to find it in their God-given heart to love the correct, Godly sanctioned sex.

You could say that, but then I'd probably think you were some sort of deeply repressed and clueless asshole and never want to speak with you again. Because that feeling is holy to me. At the time, I mean it wholly, I emote it with my entire being. On the other hand, I know, with my rational self, that to feel that way all the time, to try to live that way, would be very bad for my growth--spiritual, practical, and emotional--as a person. I cherish that feeling because it is the deepest glimpse I'll ever have into my very core, and probably the closest I'll ever come to God. But even He would not want me to sacrifice every other aspect of myself to cater to it. And not even my church sanctioned lover has the right to interpret the meaning of that feeling for me, though it's often insightful and reassuring to discuss it with them. But it has nothing to do with wanting or not wanting children by that person.

Well, I've thought hard, and that's the best I can come up with. I suppose you mean that some people will agree with this natural and only language of the body concept, and your particular interpretation of it. And you are absolutely right--all that is entirely possible without Catholic Dogma sticking its nose in. But to me, it really seems like you're reaching here. Like, instead of asking yourself whether contraceptives are wrong, one tried to find some, however flimsy, justification for the preset stance of the natural family planning method of contraception being cool, but some pill or terrible-disease-preventing-barrier contraceptive measures being a God-damn perversion. And I suspect that has more to do with misogyny than anything else.

The time came when the love of my life was terribly ill. They said, "You shouldn't kiss me. You shouldn't even be in the same room as me." But I really didn't care. All that concerned me was making them feel better. And of course, after they got better, I got sick. And it was indeed a terrible flu. You may remember it from a December a few years back. Well, that cold wasn't as life changing as children. But some colds are. If I had been smart, I would have taken a pill or gotten a shot so I could take care of them and not get sick myself. I'm not particularly smart, though.

You said that when a metafilter member with two many f's got a vasectomy, he din not sin, for lack of a better word, when he made love to his wife--the sin was at the moment of his terrible, horribly disfiguring mutilation. So I take it, that when a person receives a two year contraceptive implant, or swallows a daily pill, that that--in and of it self, is the sin--deciding at that time to prevent the very conception of a child, since at the time of, ahem, the marital act they do nothing different than our effing-well-endowed friend? Even though it's ok to try and avoid having a child by not avoiding times of fertility? Just how is receiving an implant or a pill, as forethought to preventing a child, any different than the forethought of measuring and avoiding fertility?

One more thing before we get back to the wretched math. And I'm terribly curios about this. Is it ok if I take an antibiotic before having sex with an ill spouse (feeling much better and quite horny, but still quite contagious?)

Suppose they contracted something an antibiotic wouldn't stop. A virus, say. Would it be okay to use a condom so I wouldn't get sick during that feeling-so-much-better-but-still-contagious phase?

And now, back to the maths. Honestly. We have the gift of abstraction. We've built a towering Tower of Math Babel with it. Your incredibly long proof is reducible to abstraction, and thus, to us. Aristotle couldn't deal with infinity, but Cantor numbered them. And what on earth has epistemology or morality to do with sex, anyway? Knowledge or love, I could understand.

Oh, but before I go, I just want to say that I hope you don't take anything I say the wrong way, because I really do enjoy talking to you. But in all honesty, this isn't the best audience. You might do better with a wife with terminal cancer contracted from HPV from her spouse, or perhaps a child born with aids. It would do them a world of good to know that their pain and their life cut short was worth avoiding the unfathomable horror of a piece of fucking rubber.
posted by cytherea at 3:15 AM on May 17, 2006


Sigh. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that this is still going on. But come on guys, isn't it clear enough by now? The bizarre false analogies, the discursive tangents, the question dodging, the semantical games, etc.? p_T isn't trying to mount a coherent defense of anything, he just wants you to keep arguing with him. It's not that hard to get to the heart of this matter; but p_T doesn't want that, he'd prefer to keep going in circles and tangents and invalid analogies where he can divert attention from the facts and create the impression that he has something insightful to contribute. He'd like you to confuse his eloquence for his rationality. So stop.

He may seem articulate, and for all I know he may be quite intelligent on other subjects, but I think it's been clearly established that he is not willing to be swayed by rational argumentation here. Direct contradictions in his own arguments are like mere pebbles in the path of the steamroller that is his doublethinkingness. I suppose he deserves credit for his persistence. Way to stick to you guns, buddy! I mean, cythera, well-said and all, but I think we covered that ground some 200 posts ago, and to no discernable effect.

Also, my sex life has improved since I stopped posting in this thread! Guaranteed results within 24 hours, or your money back!
posted by ludwig_van at 4:53 AM on May 17, 2006


Tenuki: So if I haven’t proved to myself that contraception is wrong outside a religious context I’m just not looking hard enough?

Either that or the Church is wrong in teaching that the wrongness of contraception can be known without recourse to revelation.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:32 AM on May 17, 2006


cytherea: Because, during many (but not all, of course, of course) of my fucking gestures of love, I come always the to the very same feeling. It's kind of like I'm all for you but much, much more intense.[...] that feeling is holy to me. At the time, I mean it wholly, I emote it with my entire being. On the other hand, I know, with my rational self, that to feel that way all the time, to try to live that way, would be very bad for my growth

Why do you trust your "rational self" about this matter? That feeling you describe is holy, and it probably is the closest you have ever come to God. When you use your body, and the bodies of others, in a way that is not true to that holy feeling, you are, perhaps out of fear of intimacy, defiling your body and the other person's body you are using. Your way of speaking reveals that you understand this point. Obviously you are the one who must interpret what that holy feeling means, and the interpretation you just gave sounded perfectly good to me. But where does this stuff about your "rational self" come into your interpretation? It sounded like an external overlay that you are using to defend yourself against the overwhelming power of that brush with the holy that you have experienced. The marital act is naturally about giving yourself completely to another person. Where did you get the idea that it is "rational" to perform an act that signifies complete self-gift while at the same time not really completely gifting yourself?

Anyway, thank you for your honest description of the natural significance of the body language of the marital act. I'm sorry that you see that significance as something your "rational self" needs to defend itself against rather than give itself to.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:14 AM on May 17, 2006


funambulist: the Humanae Vitae encyclical which in 1968 was the first official pronouncement on contraception, and whose argument has only been reinforced recently

That is incorrect. There were plenty of official pronouncements about contraception in the Catholic Church prior to 1968, going back almost 2,000 years. See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_contraception. There has been contraception at least as long as there have been Christians, and the Catholic Church has always rejected contraception. How you could say that HV was "the first official pronouncement on contraception" is beyond me. But it should give readers a sense of how poorly-researched your remarks are. If you are interested in the history of Christian teaching on contraception, you might look at John T. Noonan's Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists. I do not agree with his theological conclusions, but he does a good job of gathering the historical evidence, about which you are misinformed.

funambulist: Mr FYCP latched on in his response only to one phrase that he twisted his own way, playing semantics again

Yes, and I did that because I know what that phrase "natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine revelation" means in the context of Church documents, while you clearly do not. It is not your fault that you do not know, but your response upon having it pointed out to you is misguided.

How can anyone claim that that Catholic concept of natural law is not dependent on belief in God

No one ever claimed that. I tend to speak precisely, and would never say what you just said. I claimed that the Church teaches that all human beings can come to know what the natural law teaches, not that the concept of "natural law" can be adequately understood without reference to the notion of God. I didn't say people could come to grasp the concept of natural law without belief in God. By the way, the existence of God is another truth that the Church teaches can be known without having to rely on revelation. The Church teaches that the existence and something of the nature of God can be known by the light of natural reason, without recourse to revelation. You would know that if you had ever seriously inquired into what the Catholic church teaches.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:17 AM on May 17, 2006


ludwig_van: Direct contradictions in his own arguments are like mere pebbles in the path

Several times I've invited you to clearly articulate, in numbered propositions so we can discuss them, these supposed contradictions. You have failed to present anything close to contradictions.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:19 AM on May 17, 2006


Actually he started to but then you started to do that fantastic avoidance thing whereby you go off on a tangent. I'm impressed with your knowledge p_T but not your argumentation which is sadly lacking compared to others in this (way too long) thread.

I will sit on the sides with stav now and throw things at the participants of the thread that only a decent education in contraception could have stopped.
posted by longbaugh at 8:45 AM on May 17, 2006


longbaugh, if I'm contradicting myself, it should be possible to demonstrate it. As you say, ludwig_van started to show that I had contradicted myself, but somehow he never quite got around to showing it. If I'm contradicting myself, I would appreciate having someone demonstrate that fact. I've heard a lot of chest-thumping (and poo-flinging), but no clear statement of how I am contradicting myself.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:51 AM on May 17, 2006


I've seen about 20 examples of people explaining why you have been contradicting yourself. It's not their fault if you fail to read or comprehend them. The rest of us understand it quite well.
posted by agregoli at 9:25 AM on May 17, 2006


agregoli: It's not their fault if you fail to read or comprehend them. The rest of us understand it quite well.

I get the impression that you are not aware of how serious a logical problem self-contradiction is, or how difficult it can be to demonstrate. Yes, many people have casually tossed out the accusation that I'm contradicting myself, but no one has actually done the work to show that that I am contradicting myself. Perhaps this is just because people don't want to be bothered doing the work, but I believe it is because the accusation is false. I believe it complicitly. :)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:36 AM on May 17, 2006


Tenuki: So if I haven’t proved to myself that contraception is wrong outside a religious context I’m just not looking hard enough?

PT: Either that or the Church is wrong in teaching that the wrongness of contraception can be known without recourse to revelation.


Or you're wrong that there is such a thing as an absolute morality.

(I think the answer is behind door #3.)
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:46 AM on May 17, 2006


I think you really just like to tell people they don't understand things - especially moi.

but I believe it is because the accusation is false. I believe it complicitly. :)


I don't care what you believe - go ahead and believe whatever you want. The point is, everyone here believes you to be completely ignoring your logical inconsistences and it's getting totally boring.
posted by agregoli at 9:52 AM on May 17, 2006


InfidelZombie, I don't see how that is a third option. It just seems to me like the second option, together with an explanation of why you chose the second option.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:55 AM on May 17, 2006


agregoli: everyone here believes you to be completely ignoring your logical inconsistences

I'm not convinced you understand what logical inconsiency is.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:56 AM on May 17, 2006


I'm telling you guys it's worthless. If p_T cared about arguing in good faith and giving off a semblance of rationality, he'd have conceded his more hardline points several hundred comments ago. I thought about responding to him again, but then I scrolled up and confirmed that all the important points have already been made quite explicitly, regardless of whether or not p_T continues to blithely pretend that he hasn't been refuted.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:27 AM on May 17, 2006


ludwig_van: all the important points have already been made quite explicitly

So it should be easy to construct a inconsistent set of numbered propositions to which I've committed myself.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:37 AM on May 17, 2006


agregoli: everyone here believes you to be completely ignoring your logical inconsistences

I'm not convinced you understand what logical inconsiency is.


Har, har, har. Yeah, you're a laugh and a half.

Shrug.
posted by agregoli at 10:46 AM on May 17, 2006


Yes, it certainly was easy to do when I did it several hundred comments ago. Bye!
posted by ludwig_van at 10:47 AM on May 17, 2006


So it should be easy to construct a inconsistent set of numbered propositions to which I've committed myself.


Except that no one feels the need to provide that for you. Maybe you could read the thread again? Why should anyone bother to lay it out for you again when it's already been done?
posted by agregoli at 10:47 AM on May 17, 2006


ludwig_van, more than once you offered us an inconsistent set of propositions, but each time it included at least one proposition to which I had not committed myself, let alone explicitly asserted! Your lists contained propositions that you believe but that I do not.

If all you mean by saying that I have committed "glaring logical inconsistencies" is that I have said things that are inconsistent with what you believe, why don't you say so? I thought you were saying, as people do who know what "logical inconsistency" means, that I had contradicted myself, not that I had contradicted you!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:51 AM on May 17, 2006


PT, i'm willing to engage you as a fellow member of a pluralistic society. like stravos, i'm quite convinced that you're sane, and, like you, i'm very interested in ways that reasonable people with deep-seated disagreements can come to find common ground. i think it's a deadly important issue.

having said that, let me summarize your position as i understand it, so i can engage it without confusion:

1) having sex with someone implicitly says "i'm all for you"
2) saying "i'm all for you" implies "let's get pregnant right here and now"
3) trying not to avoid pregnancy (through contraception) while saying "let's get pregnant right here and now" is inconsistant.

3 would indeed follow from 1 and 2, but 2 doesn't make sense to me at all. let's say i grant 1, for the sake of argument. how in hades do you figure that saying "i'm all for you" implies anything about wanting to get pregnant right here and now? the opposite is frequently true!
posted by sayke at 10:52 AM on May 17, 2006


sayke: 2) saying "i'm all for you" implies "let's get pregnant right here and now"

I don't believe (or perhaps understand) proposition 2.

I do, however, believe another proposition from which the wrongness of contraception follows:

2': saying "I'm all for you" implies "I am giving all of myself to you, that is, holding back from you nothing about myself that is good."

If I withold my fertility from you in a sexual act, then I am implying that my fertility is not something about me that is good (as, for example, if I have an STD I might encourage you to use a microbicide to protect yourself from it).

If you and I perform the marriage act during a time when one of us is infertile, I do not in so doing perform an act that both says "I am all for you" and at the same time holds something back. I am not holding anything back in such a situation, because I am (or at least can be) giving you everything good about myself in that act that I can give. And when a couple refrains from the marital act during the fertile period, they do not in so doing perform the special act, about which cytherea was so eloquent, that says "I'm all for you."

This is why the FPP mentioned that contraception is an anti-child act. Even if one has a generally positive attitude toward ones fertility, in that particular contracepted act one is saying "I am giving to you everything about me that is good" and at the same time withholding one's own fertility, as something that is not good.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:12 AM on May 17, 2006


sayke, there is a big difference between (1) recognizing something as good but not being in a position to responsibly choose it, and (2) denying that something is good. Contraception is an act that denies that one's own fertility is good.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:21 AM on May 17, 2006


And if one's response is to say that contraception is OK because one is not holding back anything good because one's own fertility is not in fact, in the context of that act, good, then don't get angry when people point out that contraception is an anti-child act.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:24 AM on May 17, 2006


thank you for your response, but 2' doesn't make sense to me either - because who says fertility is always good? on the contrary, many people clearly think it is only good under certain circumstances.

in fact, when you refrain from having sex if your wife seems fertile, you implicitly acknowledge that fertility is not always good - that under those circumstances, it is in fact something to be avoided.

while i seriously doubt that you think it would be good for all women to be constantly fertile, i can't help thinking that your stated rationale leads in that direction... or do you actually think that fertility is not always good?

surely you think women should have the ability to control when they are fertile, right? wouldn't it be cool if we could develop technology which empowered them to do that? ;)
posted by sayke at 11:37 AM on May 17, 2006


InfidelZombie, I don't see how that is a third option. It just seems to me like the second option, together with an explanation of why you chose the second option.

Only if you assume contraception must be either right or wrong, and that the answer must be the same for all people in all circumstances.
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:50 AM on May 17, 2006


If I withold my fertility from you in a sexual act, then I am implying that my fertility is not something about me that is good (as, for example, if I have an STD I might encourage you to use a microbicide to protect yourself from it).



My fertility is not something about me that is good, as I never want kids. The same goes for my husband.

So yes, you're right. We don't like our fertility. That is not a problem for us, however, nor does it stop us from "giving" ourselves to each other wholely, because neither of us wants the other fertility.
posted by agregoli at 11:51 AM on May 17, 2006


sayke: surely you think women should have the ability to control when they are fertile, right?

No. I repudiate the mindset that leads people to seek that kind of manipulative control over their bodies. It seems to me a manifestation of the dualism I talked about earlier, where the body is seen as an inherently meaningless instrument to be manipulated according to the dictates of a disembodied rational will that is, supposedly, oneself.

One traditional way of thinking of medicine is as the art that imitates nature and allows us to restore health where it has been lost. That makes sense to me. What you are talking about is grotesque, though I believe I understand the series of errors that have led to people believing that it is not grotesque, and hence I think I can make sense, in my own terms, of your thinking it is not grotesque. I also think I can imaginatively project myself into the conception of rationality on which such a thing is not grotesque, although as I said above, it is difficult and unpleasant to do so. Certainly no less difficult and unpleasant than it must be for you to imaginatively project yourself into the conception of rationality in which my claims about contraception make sense.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:03 PM on May 17, 2006




How you could say that HV was "the first official pronouncement on contraception" is beyond me. But it should give readers a sense of how poorly-researched your remarks are

Boo hoo!

Let me unravel the blindingly obvious once again for your pedantic Highness:

1) It is the first and most explicit encyclical - that being the highest official statements - entirely focused on modern contraception, the kind we're talking about, pill and condoms.

(Birth control methods have been around for ages, yes, indeedy, longer than the Church itself, but the contraceptive pill was not around before the 1960's, and condoms were not as widely available either, especially not in Catholic countries, duh-uh, and between 1930 and 1968 a lot of things had changed.)

2) It is the one most authoritative reference for the Catholic position on contraception, and in it, natural law is spelled out clearly as being entirely religious based.

Ok? Is that better? Do we need to be more precise now and define the meaning of "is" as well? You want fries with that too? Just say it, we'll be at your command. I'm very generous with trolls, as you can see.


Yes, and I did that because I know what that phrase "natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine revelation" means in the context of Church documents

Oh, right, thanks for deliberately ignoring my long response on that revelation/natural distinction, and thanks for ignoring the other references to natural law as "natural law of God" or "the natural law, too, declares the will of God". They do make it a bit harder to deny that "natural law" = code for "faith-based Catholic morals".

And thanks for admitting to playing selective quoting and semantics, that's mighty nice of you.


How can anyone claim that that Catholic concept of natural law is not dependent on belief in God

You: No one ever claimed that


These are your own words, again, in your comment to ludwig_van:

you are ignorant of what the Catholic Church teaches if you think that the Church teaches that the reasons against contraception are religious

Now pay attention: the Church teaches against contraception based on an argument about natural law, and natural law put for as explicitely dependent on a belief in God ("the natural law of God") = the Church anti-contraception position is dependent on a belief in God.

Now please, let's hear how "religious" is not equal to "dependent on belief in God".

I guess your "fuck your common principles" attitude extends also to "fuck your common dictionary".

We're in full dadaist territory here, only not as fun.
posted by funambulist at 12:04 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli: My fertility is not something about me that is good, as I never want kids.

You're assuming that your wants determine what is good. That is something about which reasonable people disagree.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:05 PM on May 17, 2006


InfidelZombie, my second option did not assume that contraception is either right or wrong. I still think your proposal (no absolute morality) is a specification of my second option.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:09 PM on May 17, 2006


One traditional way of thinking of medicine is as the art that imitates nature and allows us to restore health where it has been lost. That makes sense to me. What you are talking about is grotesque

I never understand the approval for medical intervention for some things (stopping fertility) but not for others. If it's so grotesque to hinder one's fertility, then why is it not similarily grotesque for a diabetic to give themselves insulin? For a schitzophrenic to take anti-psychotic medication?

I mean, their bodies are natural and how your god made them - so why is it ok for them to do this?

A diabetic from birth is not "restoring health" that has been lost they are changing their present health because that's how their health always was.

Can you explain further why certain medical interventions are deemed ok in your world?
posted by agregoli at 12:12 PM on May 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


funambulist, I distinguished (1) knowing contraception is wrong from (2) having a conception of natural law. I've never claimed one could have a conception of natural law without believing in God. But, because natural law exists, people who have never even thought about whether God exists can come to know that contraception is wrong.

I'm not sure why such distinctions should be so difficult to understand, but apparently they are.

You still have not addressed that fact that the Church has always taught that it is possible for all human beings to know that God exists, and something of God's nature, without any reliance on revelation. Apparently it doesn't fit with whatever point you think you are making.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:14 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli: My fertility is not something about me that is good, as I never want kids.

You're assuming that your wants determine what is good. That is something about which reasonable people disagree.


I'm assuming that because it is correct - the only reasonable people that matter in my life are myself and my husband. So it really doesn't matter to me what some other "reasonable people" might say. It's my life and I'm the only one in charge of it.
posted by agregoli at 12:16 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli, I draw those distinctions because I think of health as a natural norm, not a mere matter of satisfying ever-changing desires. We can distinguish between sick and healthy animals, for example, without asking what this particular animal might want or not want. Health is something like the well-working of the organism as a whole, and the criteria for distinguishing healthy individuals from sick individuals are species-specific.

Pregnancy is not a disease.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:17 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli: I'm assuming that because it is correct

I can see that you want it to be correct, but I don't see how it follows that it is correct.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:19 PM on May 17, 2006


(What makes people resent your view is the assumption that these other "reasonable people" could be correct in making assumptions about other people's lives - which I think that no one on earth can do. To each their own and all, but I reject anyone who feels they can know what's going on in my life and relationship better than I).
posted by agregoli at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli, I draw those distinctions because I think of health as a natural norm, not a mere matter of satisfying ever-changing desires.

However, health is NOT a natural norm. Not everyone is born healthy - I don't follow how you can say that.


Pregnancy is not a disease.

Who said it was? That said, I will avoid it like the plague and that is my right, and I'm not bizarre for not wanting kids. Many "reasonable people" don't.

agregoli: I'm assuming that because it is correct

I can see that you want it to be correct, but I don't see how it follows that it is correct.


Because you aren't the arbitrator of what is "correct" in the universe. If it's correct for me and my husband, it is. And no one can tell me different. I don't see how you get to decide what is correct for everyone else in the world.
posted by agregoli at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2006


sayke: many people clearly think it is only good under certain circumstances.

Did you not find helpful the distinction I drew between (1) recognizing something as good but not being in a position to responsibly choose it for oneself, and (2) rejecting something as not good?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:24 PM on May 17, 2006


I can see that you want it to be correct, but I don't see how it follows that it is correct.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:19 PM PST on May 17


i'd prefer that you never had children but it would still be wrong for me to cut off your dick

but it's nice to see that you see women as nothing but baby factories whose own desires are second to that of your religion's commands

i wonder how you feel about women who are infertile through no fault of their own

you're a fucking theocrat, thomist - you feel that the state should be run according to religious edicts, and you feel that the state should have more control over a person's body than the person him- or herself

you can go to saudi arabia and see how awesome it is i highly recommend it

i'm done with you - the only good thing about this thread is that it keeps you preoccupied so you can't shit up the rest of the site
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:26 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli, it's just typical trollish behaviour, as well as incredibly arrogant and childish, to demand a newly-made bulleted recap of a 700+ comments thread in which the troll shows all remarkable signs of deliberate avoidance, selective quoting, semantic games, flat out denial, etc. He just wants to do it all over again, no, to get everyone else to do it all over again for him, to exhaust everyone's patience and then just repeat like a robot "oh you are ignorant".

ludwig_van: yes it is absolutely worthless, in respect to him, but the people posting are not the only ones reading this thread.

I am never under any delusions to change anyone's mind on anything and get bullshitters to acknowledge they're bullshitting. I just think it's never worthless to counter it.

But yeah, there is a repetition limit on that too, but it was probably passed about 500 comments ago, so, what the heck.



Comedy relief: more totally unrelated news (also, more).

The findings have raised the ire of Concerned Women for America, a conservative organization that endorses adolescent sexual abstinence.

"The Harvard report is wrong," said Janice Crouse, a fellow at a Concerned Women for America think-tank.


This Janice, she sounds a lot like someone in this thread, doesn't she?
posted by funambulist at 12:27 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli: However, health is NOT a natural norm. Not everyone is born healthy - I don't follow how you can say that.


I meant "norm" as in a standard.

agregoli: I don't see how you get to decide what is correct for everyone else in the world.

I'm simply pointing out that you are assuming a principle (wants determine goods) about which reasonable people disagree. Each person has to decide for himself how to think about these matters, but it doesn't follow from this that it is impossible to be wrong.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:27 PM on May 17, 2006


You still have not addressed that fact that the Church has always taught that it is possible for all human beings to know that God exists, and something of God's nature, without any reliance on revelation

Hehehe, and that "it is possible to know God" of course is not a religious concept, nooo!

You are not stupid, or autistic, or medically insane, or incapable of processing human language, you are simply an obtuse disingenous troll.
posted by funambulist at 12:30 PM on May 17, 2006


I'm a reasonable person (I don't know why you keep using this stupid phrase) and I disagree with you. So? What bearing does that have on anything to say that people disagree with me? I don't care. What bothers me, and why I was drawn into your rude posts again is that people like you think they have the right to say what is "right" regarding my own life.

I can't be wrong in regards to my own life. So think what you want, but it makes no sense to tell me I might be wrong about my choices - as I am the only one who can decide if I'm wrong or right.

agregoli, it's just typical trollish behaviour, as well as incredibly arrogant and childish, to demand a newly-made bulleted recap of a 700+ comments thread in which the troll shows all remarkable signs of deliberate avoidance, selective quoting, semantic games, flat out denial, etc.

I agree, and I apologize for engaging him yet again. It's truly remarkable, the arrogance.

I'm done. Let this thread die.
posted by agregoli at 12:33 PM on May 17, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: i wonder how you feel about women who are infertile through no fault of their own

What a bizarre question! I've known lots of infertile couples who have adopted children. How do I "feel" about the women in those couples? (They're the only women I know are infertile, since it isn't the sort of thing people typically announce to the world.)

Well, I know that many of them have found being infertile to be something very difficult in their lives. I wish there were more effective treatments for infertility. But I don't think I have any particular feelings about infertile women as a class of people.

Do you?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:33 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli: I can't be wrong in regards to my own life.

Of course you can. You should talk to a wide range of old people. In my experience, there are two kinds: those who admit they have made mistakes and have learned from them, and those who believe they haven't made any mistakes. The ones who have learned from their mistakes, in my experience, are a much happier group than those who don't acknowledge having made any.

Aristotle said that the bad person in old age is full of regrets about everything except his own bad decisions. Persistence in the opinion that you "can't" be wrong about your own life strikes me as a recipe for an unhappy old age.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:38 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli: I can't be wrong in regards to my own life.

Of course you can.


And reasonable people disagree with you.

I'm done.
posted by agregoli at 12:39 PM on May 17, 2006


"i'm done with you - the only good thing about this thread is that it keeps you preoccupied so you can't shit up the rest of the site"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:41 PM on May 17, 2006


Wow. You guys still here??
I'm mixing up another batch of margaritas....
posted by Floydd at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2006


I agree, and I apologize for engaging him yet again.

no you shouldn't agregoli, well, if you think you should then I should too, cos I've done that too... so let's all apologise to each other and pledge our abstinence from posting again in response to the troll from now on! Call it the Metafilter 51500 Virginity Pledge. Unlike those teenagers who can't be taken at their word, I know we can make it work.
posted by funambulist at 12:45 PM on May 17, 2006


funambulist, I am a reasonable person, and I agree with you.

And to celebrate, I will bone my husband tonight! Twice!

Hooray! =)
posted by agregoli at 12:52 PM on May 17, 2006


*engages funambulist orally*
That doesn't count, right?
posted by Floydd at 12:53 PM on May 17, 2006


funambulist: "it is possible to know God" of course is not a religious concept

Religion has to do with the practices and doctrines by which we honor, obey, and serve God. What is often called "the god of the philosophers" is not typically thought of as a religious concept.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:59 PM on May 17, 2006


Hey, Optimus_Chyme, you were going to give us a non-arbitrary standard by which your tribe was doing a "pretty good" job of mounting a challenge to Catholic views. You may recall that I said

Just because your tribe, the advocates of a particularly clueless kind of liberalism, cannot mount a serious challenge to Catholic views doesn't mean that there are no communities that can.

Any progress on identifying that standard?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:07 PM on May 17, 2006


I'll bite one last time.

Systematic inquiry yields tangible results.

Okay, now I'm done.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:10 PM on May 17, 2006


See? Virginity pledges never work....
posted by Floydd at 1:16 PM on May 17, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: Systematic inquiry yields tangible results.

Holy crap, that's a fortune cookie, not a non-arbitrary standard for determining whether your tribe's conception of a good community is superior to its rivals.

But it's not your fault. You've been reared to think in ways that make it almost impossible for you even to recognize certain questions, and, when they finally are brought to your attention, resourceless to answer them.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:17 PM on May 17, 2006


Isn't he so cute and patronizing, guys? =)
posted by agregoli at 1:19 PM on May 17, 2006


Holy crap, that's a fortune cookie, not a non-arbitrary standard for determining whether your tribe's conception of a good community is superior to its rivals.

don't eat the fruits of reason then, ingrate
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:23 PM on May 17, 2006


Did you not find helpful the distinction I drew between (1) recognizing something as good but not being in a position to responsibly choose it for oneself, and (2) rejecting something as not good?

i did not find it helpful, because because if someone is not in a position to responsibly choose a good thing, that would then be a bad thing (for them, under the circumstances). things are not good or bad in isolation - they are good or bad for specific people, in specific circumstances. the fact that you choose to avoid sex with your wife when she's fertile makes quite clear the fact that you think initializing that fertility would be bad under those circumstances.

or do you think it would be good? you obviously didn't think it would be good, because you avoided it. you obviously chose to avoid pregnancy for some reason - what were those reasons?

why are/were you so determined to avoid your wife's fertility?

and what's wrong with people controlling their own fertility, anyway? our ancestors would have killed and died for such an valuable ability, and people have tried all kinds of magics in order to achieve the results we're now capable of.

body shapes mind; mind shapes body - there are going to be feedback effects. it seems quite clear to me that the mind is something the body does, and as such can be conceptually seperated from the body, in the same way that software can be conceptually seperated from hardware. that's a red herring though...

what's not a red herring is this: why are you opposed to giving people the tools for better self-control?

i ask, because that is exactly what contraception is: a form of self-control.
posted by sayke at 1:29 PM on May 17, 2006


What we have in peeping_Thomist is a person who is very smart in a very specialized way, and utterly retarded in every other way. He is a brilliant, even masterful, debator... at least if you measure mastery by its ability to deceive, divert, and distort.

Once you realize that most everything he says is bullshit, though, it all comes across as pretty damned empty.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:37 PM on May 17, 2006


He's been master debating in this thread, that's for sure.
*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*
posted by Floydd at 1:41 PM on May 17, 2006


Noooooo! Every sperm is sacred!
posted by agregoli at 2:01 PM on May 17, 2006


Don't panic, young lady! It's perfectly moral, due to the fact that I'm horribly mutilated.
(No sperm were injured by the fwapping in this thread)
posted by Floydd at 2:09 PM on May 17, 2006


sayke: if someone is not in a position to responsibly choose a good thing, that would then be a bad thing (for them, under the circumstances).

I disagree. We can recognize as real goods many more goods than we can ever responsibly integrate into our lives. Part of the beauty of life is seeing the different complex patterns of goodness people create in their lives. We create these complex patterns by choosing goods responsibly.

I have chosen the married life, which is good, but if I had chosen the life of a monk, that would have been good as well. I do not deny the goodness of a monk's life by my choice of the married life, even though there are certain goods available to a monk that I cannot responsibly integrate into my life as a married person. Even though I cannot responsibly integrate into my life, for example, the good of keeping all the liturgical hours that monks keep, I do not regard it as anything other than good. I would never perform an act that manifested contempt for it, or that declared by its logical structure that the monk's life is not good.

Pretending that something good is evil merely because we cannot in a particular action responsibly integrate that good into our lives is, not to put too fine a point on it, perverse. It is calling good evil and evil good.

To return to our main topic, contraception is an act that by its logical structure says "I am giving you every good thing about me", while at the same time withholding from you my fertility. This manifests contempt for a good merely because I am not in a position to responsibly integrate it into my life in my current action. It declares "if I can't responsibly choose this good in my current action, then let my current action refuse even to acknowledge its goodness!" And that declaration is evil.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:15 PM on May 17, 2006


*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*fwap*
posted by Floydd at 2:20 PM on May 17, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: don't eat the fruits of reason then, ingrate

That raises the question of who gets credit for the emergence of modern natural science. It won't surprise you, I hope, that I don't think your tribe gets nearly as much credit as you claim for yourselves.

There's a recent book by Rodney Stark about this topic about which I have only read reviews of but that looks very promising: The Victory of Reason : How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. I've liked some of his other books.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:25 PM on May 17, 2006


:::spews water all over the monitor at that book title:::
posted by agregoli at 2:27 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli, you might want to try moving beyond reading book titles to actually reading whole books written from approaches with which you disagree. It would help you to understand that people can disagree with each other about important matters without one or the other of them being irrational or insane or stupid.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:34 PM on May 17, 2006


And what exactly did I say about the book?

Someone's getting defensive and craaaaaanky.....!!!!
posted by agregoli at 2:37 PM on May 17, 2006


agregoli, you might want to try moving beyond reading book titles to actually reading whole books written from approaches with which you disagree.

yet you said

There's a recent book by Rodney Stark about this topic about which I have only read reviews of but that looks very promising

Maybe you should actually, you know, read the books that you propose will invalidate our points. Or you could use your own arguments instead of talking about sources you haven't read like some shitty high school debater.

I'm not claiming that Western science invented systematic inquiry; indeed, it is older than man itself, and used by our cousins the primates and even non-primate species.

However, it has for the last few thousand years been challenged by religion in general and Christianity specifically. Luther said "Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees it must put out of sight, and wish to know nothing but the word of God."

Most Christians believe that God created the world pretty much as it is today, and that the fossils that we find, the geological evidence we uncover, and the echo of the cosmic background radiation are all either simply wrong - without giving a reason why other than "it contradicts the Bible" or claiming that they are deceptions created by Satan.

This is nothing new. While there are many individual Christians who believe in the tools of systematic inquiry, the most powerful and influential Christians and the groups they lead seek only to undermine them, for reasons I will never understand.

Yet these same people who rail against the evil atheistic agents of Western science will happily take antibiotics that have been modified to deal with resistant bacteria, even though they call lies the mechanisms that made bacteria resistant in the first place.

You want to split us into tribes, that's fine. You want to cast your lot with the fearful and the ignorant, that's fine. I reject your morality and depend solely upon reason; I ask that you reject our science and live solely upon that which your dogma provides.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:20 PM on May 17, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: Maybe you should actually, you know, read the books that you propose will invalidate our points

I mentioned I had not yet read Stark's book (though I have read other books by him) because this was the first book I've mentioned in this thread that I couldn't discuss at first hand, but only on the basis of having read several reviews of it, some of them quite lengthy, in publications from diverse political and philosophical perspectives. Why you think it's inappropriate for me to mention a book on that basis is not clear to me.

Optimus_Chyme: it has for the last few thousand years been challenged by religion in general and Christianity specifically.

You then go on to cite instances in which Protestants of one stripe or another have rejected reason. I propose that you are not very well-informed about the role the Catholic Church has historically played in both nurturing and defending reason.

Your pathetic efforts to respond to me yesterday about your "revelations", and inability to respond to the questions I asked you about rational defensibility in relation to authority, make it clear that you are accustomed to sparring primarily with evangelical Protestants, for whom reason has never been a strong point.

You accused me today of being a theocrat. What bullshit. What theocrat is willing to have the government fund education for communities other than his own?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:45 PM on May 17, 2006


This is like the Olympics for mental gymnastics.

And p_T gets the gold medal! Who's the big winner? p_T is the big winner! Yaaay! Our little boy is all growed up! Have some funfetti cake!
posted by ludwig_van at 5:37 AM on May 18, 2006


As I see it, we (by which I mean citizens of the United States) face a choice between two futures.

In one future, secular humanism remains our established religion, and sectarian groups continue to withdraw into private schools, home schooling, and the like, where their resentments against society's supposed "common principles" can fester, and they are compelled to say things like "fuck your common principles". The end result of this, I predict, is that we will have more actual theocrats making a run at reshaping society to fit their vision of a good society. These are the people most of you rightly fear. You'll get to teach contraception in the public schools up until the day when the Christian reconstructionists (or whoever) take over, at which point there is reason to be very afraid (myself included).

In another future, we develop policies that acknowledge the legitimate pluralism that exists in our society. We fund education that is appropriate for the different communities in our society. We try to build consensus around the shared understanding of pluralism that makes possible such policies. As a result, some public schools teach contraception and others don't, but there aren't people hidden off in the dark corners of society plotting to take over and impose upon us their substantive vision of the common good.

The second future seems to me much more benign, from every perspective I am prepared to accept as rational, than the first.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:35 AM on May 18, 2006


So we should vanquish equal education for all because there might be boogeymen hiding in the wings to destroy us if we don't?
posted by agregoli at 7:56 AM on May 18, 2006


agregoli: So we should vanquish equal education for all because there might be boogeymen hiding in the wings to destroy us if we don't?

agregoli, when the Christian Reconstructionists (or whoever) take over, they will ask exactly the same question. Dominant groups always believe that they are dishing out "equal education for all," and cannot fathom why anyone would want to deprive their children of an "equal education". What you mean (and they will mean) by "equal education" is "equal indoctrination into the pieties of the dominant group". But since you suppress your awareness of the reality of pluralism, you are unable, on your official story, to acknowledge this fact.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:09 AM on May 18, 2006


I'm so unable! I don't understand the meanings of words! I am to be pitied!

Your constant patronizing comments are really getting old. Do you look down on everyone?

Yawn.
posted by agregoli at 9:00 AM on May 18, 2006


agregoli, I haven't seen any evidence that you have grappled with the nature of pluralism, or considered what grave constraints it places on what can count as a rational set of social arrangements. I'd be thrilled to be wrong about that. Rather than complaining that my pointing this out is patronizing, perhaps you could respond to the substantive point.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:23 AM on May 18, 2006


Some of you may have been confused by funambulist's bizarre misreading of the phrase "natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine revelation". There are many resources available online for understanding Catholic teaching about natural law, such as this old
Catholic Encyclopedia article. Here's an excerpt from that article that makes it clear that the Church teaches that our knowledge of the natural law is not effaced even by the denial of the existence of God, because the natural law is written on the human heart:

Founded in our nature and revealed to us by our reason, the moral law is known to us in the measure that reason brings a knowledge of it home to our understanding. The question arises: How far can man be ignorant of the natural law, which, as St. Paul says, is written in the human heart (Romans 2:14)? The general teaching of theologians is that the supreme and primary principles are necessarily known to every one having the actual use of reason. These principles are really reducible to the primary principle which is expressed by St. Thomas in the form: "Do good and avoid evil". Wherever we find man we find him with a moral code, which is founded on the first principle that good is to be done and evil avoided. When we pass from the universal to more particular conclusions, the case is different. Some follow immediately from the primary, and are so self-evident that they are reached without any complex course of reasoning. Such are, for example: "Do not commit adultery"; "Honour your parents". No person whose reason and moral nature is ever so little developed can remain in ignorance of such precepts except through his own fault. Another class of conclusions comprises those which are reached only by a more or less complex course of reasoning. These may remain unknown to, or be misinterpreted even by persons whose intellectual development is considerable. To reach these more remote precepts, many facts and minor conclusions must be correctly appreciated, and, in estimating their value, a person may easily err, and consequently, without moral fault, come to a false conclusion.

So, what is the relationship between knowledge of the natural law and belief in God? Perhaps perfect knowledge of the natural law requires belief in God, but ignorance of the existence of God does not erase from our hearts knowledge of the natural law. Even though the fool may say in her heart that there is no God, nonethless she does not thereby completely lose knowledge of the natural law, because every choice she makes, insofar as she brings reason to bear upon it, is made sub ratione boni, or under the aspect of good.

Hence, funambulist is mistaken to attempt to infer from the fact that the Church teaches that the wrongess of contraception is part of the natural law to the conclusion that the Church teaches that the wrongness of contraception can only be known if you assume religious concepts. The Church perfectly well envisions that there are people who deny the existence of God who will be able to see the truth of the Church's teachings on contraception. I have personally known people who have seen the truth of the teaching about contraception without believing in the existence of God.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:54 PM on May 18, 2006


Rather than complaining that my pointing this out is patronizing, perhaps you could respond to the substantive point.

No thanks, this discussion has become quite boring and pointless.

And even your response I just highlighted was patronizing - "my pointing this out?" as if you're completely right and I'm not "enlightened."

Not interested. I don't talk to people who talk down to me.

Have fun! =)
posted by agregoli at 2:12 PM on May 18, 2006


agregoli: And even your response I just highlighted was patronizing - "my pointing this out?" as if you're completely right and I'm not "enlightened."

Have I missed some evidence that you actually have grappled with the nature of pluralism?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:26 PM on May 18, 2006


I've been saying all along that the second link in the FPP seemed to be biased and uninformative. Now the FDA panel has voted on it, and the results are unanimous.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:39 PM on May 18, 2006




Yeah, that's really chapping my ass.
posted by agregoli at 6:43 AM on May 19, 2006


While most of these recommendations are well known to women who are pregnant or seeking to get pregnant, experts say it's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.

Sounds like sound public health policy. It's not mandating anything, it's just asking.

Other groups involved include the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the March of Dimes, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention's Division of Reproductive Health and the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

That doesn't sound like a bunch of right-wing nutjobs.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:16 AM on May 19, 2006


Hey, but there's good news!

Since the article says that half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it's clear that using contraception could really make a dent in unplanned pregnancies!

Which is kind of the point. Not conceiving unplanned babies would reduce that infant mortality rate rather massively.

Which is good for our society, by anyone's measure.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:32 AM on May 19, 2006


zoogleplex: Since the article says that half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it's clear that using contraception could really make a dent in unplanned pregnancies!

You might want to ask mystyk about the reliability of contraception in avoiding unplanned pregnancies. When you're using contraception, every pregnancy is an unplanned pregnancy.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:35 AM on May 19, 2006


Using contraception may not be 100% reliable, but NOT using contraception of any kind is exactly zero percent reliable.

NFP methods, if used very carefully, have decent reliability. I've used it myself, and it worked perfectly for us, so it's not to be discounted... though it doesn't work for everyone. It's still contraception, in that sense.
posted by zoogleplex at 12:34 PM on May 19, 2006


To return to our main topic, contraception is an act that would have been good in their lives. Part of a monk's life by choosing goods, many more goods responsibly.
I am not regarding it as real goods responsibly.
I do not deny the good into my current action, then let my fertility manifest. This manifests contempt for it, or that good as well. I would have been good merely because I do not, to put too fine a point on it, perverse. It declares "if I had chosen the married life, for a married person." Even though I do not responsibly integrate it into my fertility. This manifests contempt for example, the beauty of a particular action refused even to our lives is, not good.
To return to our main topic, contraception is evil good.
To return to responsibly integrate into my fertility. This manifests contempt for it, perverse. It is calling good into my life, for a point on it, or that monks keep, I would have been good as anything other than we can recognize as a monk, that declaration is calling good as a monk that manifested contempt for example, the beauty of a good in my life by its logical structure says "I am giving you every good evil good."
posted by Floydd at 12:59 PM on May 19, 2006


Floydd, you've opened my eyes. I see the light now! I will change my life!!! THANXX0RZ!!!!!!11!!112!!!ONE!!1WTFBBQ!!
posted by zoogleplex at 2:05 PM on May 19, 2006


Go thou, and sin some more.
posted by Floydd at 2:18 PM on May 19, 2006


zoogleplex: Using contraception may not be 100% reliable, but NOT using contraception of any kind is exactly zero percent reliable.

Maybe you missed my point. The article said that half of pregnancies are unplanned. When you are fucking during your fertile period without contraception, it's pretty hard to say that the resulting pregnancy, should it occur, is unplanned, assuming you understand the connection between sex and babies.

I understood you to be saying that more use of contraception would decrease the proportion of unplanned to planned pregnancies. It seems to me that something like the exact opposite is true. When people who are using contraception get pregnant, it is unplanned.

More widespread use of contraception would (1) decrease the total number of pregnancies, and (2) increase the ratio of unplanned to planned pregnancies. Unless I'm missing something.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:05 PM on May 19, 2006


When you are fucking during your fertile period without contraception, it's pretty hard to say that the resulting pregnancy, should it occur, is unplanned, assuming you understand the connection between sex and babies.

Of course with abstinence only sex education that understanding shouldn’t be taken for granted. (Pushing through to 1000 posts!)
posted by Tenuki at 4:37 PM on May 19, 2006


Tenuki: Of course with abstinence only sex education that understanding shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Huh? I thought the message of abstinence-only sex education is "don't have sex until you are ready to have babies, because having sex results in babies, just ask mystyk. If you don't want babies, don't have sex." Have I been misinformed?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:24 PM on May 19, 2006


Maybe you missed my point. The article said that half of pregnancies are unplanned. When you are fucking during your fertile period without contraception, it's pretty hard to say that the resulting pregnancy, should it occur, is unplanned, assuming you understand the connection between sex and babies.

I understood you to be saying that more use of contraception would decrease the proportion of unplanned to planned pregnancies. It seems to me that something like the exact opposite is true. When people who are using contraception get pregnant, it is unplanned.


You're misunderstanding what people mean when they say "unplanned pregnancies," then, hence your confusion.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:12 AM on May 20, 2006


ludwig_van, do you mean there are people fucking when they're fertile who aren't planning to get pregnant? Now that sounds like a real failure of sex education!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:37 AM on May 20, 2006


ludwig_van, do you mean there are people fucking when they're fertile who aren't planning to get pregnant? Now that sounds like a real failure of sex education!

It sure does! Gee, I wonder what kind of education would help these people!
posted by ludwig_van at 8:47 AM on May 20, 2006


ludwig_van, I don't know. Why don't we ask mystyk?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:54 AM on May 20, 2006


You're an asshole, PT. No one likes you. Go away.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:57 AM on May 20, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, apparently no one likes being reminded that when you have sex you are telling mother nature that you're ready to have babies. But whether you like it or not, it's still true. Just ask mystyk.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:10 AM on May 20, 2006


Absolute class - someone posts a story about a very difficult time in his life - and you attack him, personally, for 11 days and two hundred comments. You are disgusting.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, I'll bet it was "a very difficult time" in his child's life, too.

Anyway, the big question, as I see it, is what kind of institutional arrangements we can have for living with people whose mores disgust us.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:26 AM on May 20, 2006


oh fuck off, you irrelevant impotent nobody
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:29 AM on May 20, 2006


I suggest you give up living amongst those of us who disgust you, PT. Either move to a less secular country, or go get yourself dead. Both solutions will get you the hell out of our society.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:23 AM on May 20, 2006


Anyway, the big question, as I see it, is what kind of institutional arrangements we can have for living with people whose mores disgust us.

Leave them the fuck alone as it doesn't actually concern you would probably be a fine suggestion, particularly since by "us" you mean "you". If you mean "us" as in "MeFi" then on average I'd say "we'd" rather you put the kettle on and make yourself a lovely hot mug of shut the fuck up.
posted by longbaugh at 10:24 AM on May 20, 2006


longbaugh: Leave them the fuck alone as it doesn't actually concern you would probably be a fine suggestion, particularly since by "us" you mean "you".

You guys are clueless. You assume that since most of the people you know think a certain way, most people must think that way. It isn't so.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:01 PM on May 20, 2006


That's not really what I meant to say. Clearly most people in the U.S. don't have a problem with contraception. But there are also communities within the U.S. that do, so it's not just a matter of one individual here or there.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:02 PM on May 20, 2006


Yes, but the communities that do are wingnut fuckups who would far prefer to engage in promoting impossible utopian dreams of epistemological consensus on terms that the majority of us will never accept.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:57 PM on May 20, 2006


five_fresh_fish, if name-calling makes you feel better, have at it. But people like those described in the first FPP link are already having an effect on the world you live in, and calling them names won't change that.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:22 PM on May 20, 2006


You've done your share of name-calling, asshat.

Calling you perverts for what you are marginalizes you, just as calling racists for what they are marginalizes them.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:59 PM on May 20, 2006


The condom: shortcut to withholding ejaculation (a practice in some Taoist churches.)

The Pill: withholding menstruation.

NFP♂: withholding ejaculation periodically. Or, I suppose, getting blowjobs. Hey, you know, I could make that work for me... :-)

NFP♀: withholding eggs periodically. And bleeding monthly, a not entirely natural state of affairs.

The whole point of sex is to orgasm, not have children. Children are a side effect.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:17 PM on May 20, 2006


five_fresh_fish: The whole point of sex is to orgasm, not have children. Children are a side effect.

If by "the whole point of" what you mean is "what attracts me to", that makes good sense to me. But I wonder why you think that what attracts you to a particular activity exhausts "the whole point of" that activity.

We might "trick" a child into learning to play the piano or to play chess by offering her candy for practising. She might say to herself "the whole point of practicing piano / practicing playing chess" is to get candy." And from one angle, that's true. From the angle available to a child. And at some point we would expect the child to come to a deeper understanding of what "the point" of her activity has been.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:30 PM on May 20, 2006


The whole point of sex is to orgasm, not have children. Children are a side effect.

(I can't believe I'm still reading this, but) in a thread where a dazzling list of astonishingly dumb stuff has been said (and some undumb, it must be said), that's just painfully unsmart, fishy.

Or are you trolling p_T now? (in which case, it was pretty funny)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:48 PM on May 20, 2006


stavrosthewonderchicken, I am untrollable! :)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:05 PM on May 20, 2006


stavros: both. But consider this: if children are not a mere side-effect, but are instead the main goal, why would one be having sex during a known unfertile point in the cycle?

If the point were not to orgasm, why would one not be content with a mere cuddle during those infertile periods?

If our sex drive were evolved with the sole goal of begetting children, why do human females have no distinct estrus? Why do woman have the apparently unique ability to orgasm at length? Why do we engage in so many sexual positions? Why foreplay?

All these signs point to one thing: the primary purpose of human sex is to have orgasms.

Or perhaps in other words, the "natural language of the body" tells us quite clearly that in other mammals, sex is specifically for the purpose of breeding: that's why they have sex only when the female is fertile, why there's no foreplay, why there's only one sexual position, and why it shows no signs of pleasure for the female.

There's a pretty sharp contrast between human and animal sex. And the reason: we're in it for the orgasms.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:32 AM on May 21, 2006


Yeah, or maybe all this talk about "natural languages" and "primary purposes" is complete nonsense, unless you're a "God has a plan for us all" type.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:35 AM on May 21, 2006


That, too. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 11:13 AM on May 21, 2006


five_fresh_fish: If our sex drive were evolved with the sole goal of begetting children, why do human females have no distinct estrus?

Question: Who said that the "sole goal" of sex is begetting children?

Answer: No one said that.

Question: Why would a reasonable person think that denying that begetting children is the "sole goal" of sex requires saying that begetting children is a "mere side effect" of sex.

Answer: A reasonable person wouldn't think that.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:37 AM on May 21, 2006


Feel free to replace "sole" with "primary" or "preferential" or "evolved" or whatever you please. At any rate, the begetting of children is a secondary, if not tertiary, reason for human sex.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:50 PM on May 21, 2006


five_fresh_fish: the begetting of children is a secondary, if not tertiary, reason for human sex.

If by "reason for" you just mean "motivation for", then sometimes it is not even that.

I think it makes sense to talk about begetting children as the primary end of the marital act, and the unitive aspect of the act (including pleasure) as a secondary end, even though any particular person's motivation could be solely pleasure or solely to have children, or solely to make money, or solely any of a hundred other goals that could motivate one. You've made it pretty clear that what motivates you is the prospect of pleasure (just for you?). Other people have all kinds of motivations, but that's not what people are talking about when they talk about the primary or secondary end of sex. Instead, when people talk that way, they are thinking about how sex fits into the species-specific human life form, regardless of how any particular person is motivated. And it at the very least makes sense to think of the power of begetting children as an important part of what makes sex an important part of the human way of life.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:40 PM on May 21, 2006


Pish-posh.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:54 PM on May 21, 2006


five_fresh_fish, have you ever had sex with someone while the two of you were trying to get the woman pregnant? That information would make it easier for me to contextualize your comments.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:17 PM on May 21, 2006


Wow.
You guys still here??
posted by Floydd at 9:40 AM on May 22, 2006


Most parents want sex ed taught in school. At least in BC.

That information would make it easier for me to contextualize your comments.

I think you misspelled "disregard." And, besides, what do you care what some — and I quote you — evil, immoral pervert has to say?

Perhaps a more fruitful use of your energy would be to meditate on what psychological problems would lead a person to try to make a judgment about a person's moral state based solely on a discussion in a forum like this.

Indeed.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:14 AM on May 22, 2006


five_fresh_fish, earlier you were marginalizing me by calling me evil (among other things). Now you agree with my admonition that it's not a good idea to make judgments about people's moral state based solely on discussion in a forum like this. What gives?

I haven't called you evil or immoral or perverted, that I can recall, though some of the policies you support are exactly those things. I've been operating on the assumption that your inability to see the wrongness of contraception is not your fault, but due to your having grown up in a culture that has lost its way.

Anyway, I wasn't looking to disregard your comments. I'm sorry I wasn't able to make that clear.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:00 PM on May 22, 2006


Five fresh fish, give up.

When one "operates on the assumption that your inability to see the wrongness of contraception is not your fault," one has decided that no one else can be right on the issue except for them.
posted by agregoli at 12:52 PM on May 22, 2006


You are a godhead indeed, peeping_Thomist. "Grown up in a culture that has lost its way." Wow. Pompous is just one of the words that comes to mind.

Thank goodness we have earnest and, most of all, morally right missionaries such as yourself to save us ignorant savages.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:03 PM on May 22, 2006


agregoli, you're not acknowledging that I have articulated a conception of rationality on which it is possible that I am wrong about contraception.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:19 PM on May 22, 2006


Huh?
posted by agregoli at 1:24 PM on May 22, 2006


Oooo, I was comment 888. That was fun.
posted by agregoli at 1:45 PM on May 22, 2006


Yeah, you may have been comment 888 but you still haven't acknowledged that he has articulated a conception of rationality on which it is possible that he is wrong about contraception.
I mean, sheesh.
posted by Floydd at 1:57 PM on May 22, 2006


Maybe you remember all that stuff about "relativism about rationality but not about truth"?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:02 PM on May 22, 2006


Floydd, can you stay awake through all this conception of reality crap? I thought the discussion was about contraception, after all.

I need a beer.
posted by agregoli at 2:18 PM on May 22, 2006


I'm sorry, conception of rationality. Same difference.
posted by agregoli at 2:18 PM on May 22, 2006


I think it's contraception of realty, agregoli. Something about spilling seed on fallow ground or such.
Want a Spotted Cow? It's got sea monkeys in it, something my body needs anyway!
posted by Floydd at 2:22 PM on May 22, 2006


Floydd, if I'm not mistaken, "contraception of realty" has something to do with zoning laws.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:11 PM on May 22, 2006


Iron Hymen, the anti-sex pledge for girls.

Sex is for Fags, its male counterpart. (A title which is not nearly so amusing as "Iron Hymen.")
posted by five fresh fish at 6:05 PM on May 22, 2006


five_fresh_fish, both those sites misrepresent what advocates of abstinence-only education say. What pro-abstinence people say should be funny enough, from the standpoint of the people making such websites, that there should be no need to make up stuff. But instead we get "vile private parts" and "vaginas are totally gay!" What bullshit. How can you get any satisfaction reading parodies that don't get right how the target actually talks?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:23 PM on May 22, 2006


Did I mention that married people have more and better sex, and that married evangelical and catholic women have more satisfying sex?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:24 PM on May 22, 2006


In fact right now your wife is probably having sex with a plumber whilst you waste another two weeks arguing with people who will not be convinced by you.
posted by longbaugh at 5:16 AM on May 23, 2006


Did I mention that . . . married evangelical and catholic women have more satisfying sex?

I just figured they'd be more likely to lie about it so they don't get the belt.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:29 AM on May 23, 2006


Did I mention that . . . married evangelical and catholic women have more satisfying sex?

Figures. Of course, the Bible doesn't condemn lesbianism, so I guess it's O.K.
posted by Floydd at 6:33 AM on May 23, 2006


Optimus Chyme, you are so right and still my hero.
posted by agregoli at 6:42 AM on May 23, 2006


Optimus_Chyme and agregoli, of course you assumed that the women in that study were lying. You've made it quite clear that your lives are all about the pursuit of pleasure, so it would kill you to admit that people who reject pleasure as the primary goal of their lives have more satisfying sex lives than you do. That's why you have to lie and say that anti-contraception people hate sex.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:25 AM on May 23, 2006


Oh, don't be mad, 'toine. Honestly, if you have a more satisfying sex life than I do, I would be way, way surprised. Of course, maybe Mrs. Thomist is happy with once-a-month missionary, your rank breath in her face and your hairy gut spilling over her hips. Or at least, happy that it's not more often.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:43 AM on May 23, 2006


people who reject pleasure as the primary goal of their lives have more satisfying sex lives than you do

ROFL.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 AM on May 23, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: if you have a more satisfying sex life than I do, I would be way, way surprised.

That was my point.

Let me make a comparison. Have you ever had the experience of eating a fine meal with good friends at a festive occasion? The conversation is delightful, the wine flows freely, and the food is perfect. You aren't primarily paying attention to the food and the wine, but you enjoy them, and your enjoyment of them contributes to an overall experience that is one of the most satisfying of all human experiences, the enjoyment of what are traditionally called "the pleasures of the table". Because the gustatory pleasures are properly subordinated to the properly human pleasures of the table (namely one's friends and the conversation), they attain a kind of richness and depth that is quite remarkable.

Compare that with the experience of going off by oneself and taking some tasty food such as ice cream or cake, and deliberately trying to wring out of the experience every bit of pleasure possible. People often report that when they approach food and drink this way, the pleasures that result are hollow, and ultimately unsatisfying. They don't resonate as deeply as do the pleasures of food and drink when they are properly subordinated to higher goods.

This contrast between two different ways of enjoying the pleasures of food and drink is a well-entrenched part of common sense. Why would anyone expect the pleasures of sex to be different? Why should it surprise anyone that married people have more and better sex, and that evangelical and catholic women have more satisfying sex than do people who say things like "I'm only in it for the orgasms?" And why do you (and yours) keep returning to the idea that people who oppose contraception don't like sex? We like sex.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:44 AM on May 23, 2006


"Did I mention that . . . married evangelical and catholic women have more satisfying sex?"

What's the baseline to which you and they are comparing that?

If these women are "true believers," then the only person they've ever had any sex at all with is their husband, and they've never masturbated. In theory they have no idea what sex can encompass. Oh, yes, there's that natural language of the body that they can know, which should inform them as to how to be better satisfied by sex. Right.

Of course some people have "chequered pasts" before Seeing The Light™, but consider that in a Perfectly Moral Society™ there would be nothing to which to compare "the marital act," which means women would have to be satisfied with whatever they got. Ooo, that's empowerment!

I do recall back in the More Moral Times of America's Past™, that doctors used to treat women for "hysteria" by applying "manual massage" to their "labial area" until the woman experienced "paroxysm," and that this involved women visiting the doctor monthly or more frequently. Of course, since women could not work, the husband was paying for this treatment.

What a racket, huh? :)

"Because the gustatory pleasures are properly subordinated to the properly human pleasures of the table (namely one's friends and the conversation), they attain a kind of richness and depth that is quite remarkable."

So, my girlfriend and I will have better, more satisfying sex if we share it with a bunch of friends who join us? Hey, that's a great idea! Maybe your God is cooler than I thought!!
posted by zoogleplex at 10:51 AM on May 23, 2006




I once had an near-orgasmic experience whilst eating a chocolate crêpe in a fine French restaurant. Fortunately, only my wife noticed.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:27 AM on May 23, 2006


Because the gustatory pleasures are properly subordinated to the properly human pleasures of the table (namely one's friends and the conversation)

Any chance you practice mortification? Romans 8:13: "For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live."
posted by five fresh fish at 11:31 AM on May 23, 2006


Optimus_Chyme and agregoli, of course you assumed that the women in that study were lying.

I never said that. I think it's a pretty stupid study though - there is no way to quantify who is happier with their sex lives - it's all subjective.

You've made it quite clear that your lives are all about the pursuit of pleasure,

Not ALL about. But yes, I do seek pleasure in my life. So? Valid way to live, as far as I'm concerned.

so it would kill you to admit that people who reject pleasure as the primary goal of their lives have more satisfying sex lives than you do.

I really don't give a shit. Honest.

I don't care who thinks they have a "better" sex life than me. More power to you. Just don't tell me I'm missing out, or that my sex/love life isn't as satisfying as yours. Because I'm happy, my husband is happy, and we don't need anything else than that. I certainly don't need someone else's approval or acknowledgement that we're happy to be happy.

That's why you have to lie and say that anti-contraception people hate sex.

Hmmm, that's funny - I never said that either. I think that anti-contraception people have some uptight ideas about sex that make me sad, but to each their own.
posted by agregoli at 11:33 AM on May 23, 2006


Thomist, your gourmand comparison makes no sense. I have have truly excellent food prepared by truly excellent chefs with truly excellent company. I have also eaten chocolate yogurt, alone, while watching a rerun of Star Trek (the one where Picard is trapped on the planet with the dude who just keeps saying "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra"; highly recommended). I am honestly not sure which experience was better. They're both great in different ways.

Why should it surprise anyone that married people have more and better sex

Because statistically they don't.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:18 PM on May 23, 2006


trapped on the planet with the dude who just keeps saying "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra"

Oooo, I know that one! That's a good one!
posted by agregoli at 1:08 PM on May 23, 2006


zoogleplex: back in the More Moral Times of America's Past™

America has always been deeply messed up about sex. Give me a France or an Italy, thanks, where people historically have had a better appreciation for the relative gravity of sexual sins as compared to other kinds of sins (for example, killing hundreds of thousands of innocents in an unjust war).

I believe many of you are reacting much more to America's puritanical roots than you are to anything I've said. You assume that anyone who recognizes the truth of traditional sexual morality must advocate some kind of Puritan society. But in doing so, you carry forward the sad legacy of dualism you have inherited.

Floydd, I don't know if you read that article before you posted it, but the study did not strongly support the claim you made. The authors pointed out that the finding was contrary to previous research, and then qualified it further by pointing out the linkage between the level of commitment and satisfaction. The time horizon is crucial: " Men who had multiple
partners were less likely to be satisfied with their relationships, but more likely to believe that sex was important." That hardly supports the "I'm only in it for the orgasms" crowd.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:30 PM on May 23, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, the authors of that one study acknowledge that their result runs counter to most of the previous research. Further, their study compared people from many different societies, including ones in which the ideal of companionate marriage has not yet caught on.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:32 PM on May 23, 2006


You guys'll never make 1000.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:24 PM on May 23, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: I have have truly excellent food prepared by truly excellent chefs with truly excellent company. I have also eaten chocolate yogurt, alone, while watching a rerun of Star Trek (the one where Picard is trapped on the planet with the dude who just keeps saying "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra"; highly recommended). I am honestly not sure which experience was better.

The distinction I was drawing wasn't about the quality of the food or the company, it was about the way sense pleasures are in some experiences more than other experiences subordinated to higher-level goods. Given everything you've said so far, it hardly comes as a surprise that you are oblivious to this distinction. I contend that the distinction is nonetheless deeply embedded in common sense, and that this way of talking about sense pleasures (as richer or more hollow depending on how they stand in relation to higher-level goods) resonates with most people.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:33 PM on May 23, 2006


Gosh, yes, we've all seen how well your ideas are resonating here on MetaFilter. Look, over there! I can see it resonating now!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:24 PM on May 23, 2006


This MetaFilter, it resonates?
posted by Floydd at 6:04 AM on May 24, 2006


five_fresh_fish, some of the ideas I've talked about are mine, but others of them, such as the point about the depth of sense pleasures being determined by their relation to higher goods, are so well-known and widely accepted that it wouldn't really be fair of me to take any credit for them. Thanks for offering, though.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:49 AM on May 24, 2006


What did I offer?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:01 PM on May 24, 2006


five_fresh_fish, keep up.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:11 PM on May 24, 2006


I've kept up and I don't see what he offered either.

I suppose offering up the idea that all the ideas are yours?

You have an odd way of phrasing things, PT.
posted by agregoli at 8:00 PM on May 24, 2006


agregoli: You have an odd way of phrasing things, PT.

Complicitly.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:28 PM on May 24, 2006


Well that was cryptic.
posted by agregoli at 6:34 AM on May 25, 2006


Fortuitously.
posted by COBRA! at 7:09 AM on May 25, 2006


Assininesly.

We WILL get to 1,000 posts at this rate.
posted by agregoli at 8:01 AM on May 25, 2006


Regrettably.
posted by COBRA! at 8:02 AM on May 25, 2006


What's to regret?

A waste of everyone's time, sure, but we all have free will and likely a lot of boredom/extra time to kill to read and engage in this nonsense.
posted by agregoli at 8:05 AM on May 25, 2006


agregoli: we all have free will

Not you, apparently. You've sworn off this thread several times.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:30 AM on May 25, 2006


Free-associatively.
posted by COBRA! at 8:33 AM on May 25, 2006


Wow, PT. Why the low blow?

I'm not allowed to come back?

I have free will. I chose to come back. See how that works?
posted by agregoli at 8:36 AM on May 25, 2006


Besides, since the thread seems to have devolved to word games, it's a lot more fun these days.
posted by agregoli at 8:37 AM on May 25, 2006


Undoubtedly.
posted by COBRA! at 8:40 AM on May 25, 2006


agregoli: I have free will. I chose to come back.

You and I have different conceptions of freedom. For me, the highest expressions of freedom come when you make a choice and then stick with it. For you, apparently, being blown about by your passions is true freedom. They're both legitimate conceptions of freedom, though mine is able to make sense of yours while yours isn't able to acknowledge mine.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:40 AM on May 25, 2006


P_T's just frustrated because he can't have the last word.
posted by Floydd at 8:41 AM on May 25, 2006


You and I have different conceptions of freedom. For me, the highest expressions of freedom come when you make a choice and then stick with it.

We have different conceptions about a lot of things - including CONTRAception! Ha, ha! Whew.

For you, apparently, being blown about by your passions is true freedom.

It really is. It's a gorgeous way to live and I will live that way until I die. I can't think of a more beautiful way to live a life.

I don't see where I've ever not acknowledged your right to live the way you want to. I've never said your way of life isn't legitimate. Only that I don't agree with it.

So why do you have your panties in a twist as if I'm trying to deny that you are entitled to live the way you want? You really want to believe that I'm against you or something, and that's not the case at all. I've told you several times now that I don't give a shit.
posted by agregoli at 8:45 AM on May 25, 2006


I am going to enjoy the natural language of love with my wife and some friends this weekend. I hope they don't think I'm telling pork pies when I start making with my xxx crazy spooge face painting game.
posted by longbaugh at 8:47 AM on May 25, 2006


You know, it was easier to ignore braindead, unkillable threads back when they didn't keep popping up on the "My Comments" page.

This is the fucking Terry Schiavo of threads. Someone pull the plug already.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:48 AM on May 25, 2006


Here's a recent story that's relevant to this thread: Rhythm method criticised as a killer of embryos. I'm surprised no one has posted it before me.

What this story highlights, I believe, is how different moral theories have radically different methodologies. Consequentialists think only in terms of outcomes. So to them it seems like a relevant argument to say that (1) anti-abortion people are concerned about embryonic life, (2) the rhythm method results in many embryos being brought into existence that cannot be brought to term, therefore (3) anti-abortion people should be opposed to the rhythm method.

What this way of proceeding (namely tallying up desirable and undesirable outcomes) misses is the crucial distinction (crucial that is according to the methodology employed by a rival moral theory) between what we do and what happens as a foreseen but unintended result of what we do.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:49 AM on May 25, 2006


Hey, ludwig_van, I'm still waiting for that list of contradictions! :)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:51 AM on May 25, 2006


*flogs eohippus*
posted by Floydd at 9:18 AM on May 25, 2006


I'll bet you are, dumbass! :)
posted by ludwig_van at 9:20 AM on May 25, 2006


For me, the highest expressions of freedom come when you make a choice and then stick with it.

That doesn't even make sense. "The highest expression of freedom?" What the hell does that mean?
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:25 AM on May 25, 2006


What the hell does that mean?

It's one of those idioms from the natural language of the body that doesn't translate so well into English.
posted by COBRA! at 9:37 AM on May 25, 2006


agregoli: It's a gorgeous way to live and I will live that way until I die.

I hope you have read, or get the chance someday to read, the first volume of Soren Kierkegaard's great work Either/Or. Volume One is dedicated to describing in full detail what he calls the aesthetic life, while Volume Two is given over to a description of what he calls the ethical life. The goal of the work appears to be to provoke in the reader a choice between the aesthetic life and the ethical life, but it's written pseudonymously, so you can't directly attribute any views to Kierkegaard himself. It does seem fair to say that he uses these pseudonyms to advance radically different conceptions of a life well lived. Many people who share your views about what makes life worth living regard Volume One of Either/Or as the greatest ever description of the "gorgeous" life to which you aspire (and which you have already to some extent achieved). You don't need to read Volume Two unless you're interested in the ethical life, but I promise you that if you aspire to living a gorgeous life, you'll benefit from reading Volume One. Here's a quote from an Amazon reviewer:

"Kierkegaard's brilliance lies in his ability to take such deeply personal experiences--love, lust, sorrow--and comment universally in a way that is at least unmatched in philosphy and probably in all of literature. He understands life in a way that seems obvious but is in actual fact merely fundamental to all of us. The book is a collection of papers and texts on a variety of subjects that at first seem disconnected but in the end all tie perfectly together with the truly brilliant "seducer's diary". Philosophy is a literary discipline that generally provokes either intimidation or a feeling of pointlessness (by this I mean that people wonder why should I care what someone else thinks if it is all unprovable anyway). I feel that Kierkegaard represents everything that is good about philosphy and is worth an attempt at least even if one is trepedatious. This book will not overwhelm you in complex language or termanology, rather it will leave you invigorated with fresh ideas and new questions about everything around. Everyone should read this book."
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:38 AM on May 25, 2006


I wish you'd been born without hands so no one would have to read your stupid posts.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:46 AM on May 25, 2006


ludwig_van, you don't have to read my posts, let alone respond to them.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:57 AM on May 25, 2006


Since the invention of speech recognition software, ludwig_van, we're stuck with him.
I don't think they've succeeded in being able to machine translate the "natural language of the body," though.
posted by Floydd at 9:58 AM on May 25, 2006


Indeed, and yet I still wish you had no hands. Wild, huh.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:00 AM on May 25, 2006


Forty nine to go guys.
posted by longbaugh at 10:03 AM on May 25, 2006


ludwig_van, since you can't make good on your repeated claim that I have contradicted myself (as opposed to having contradicted you, which I certainly have done), you wish physical harm to me? My teenaged kids have moved past that developmental phase. I hope you come to grips with whatever is troubling you.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:10 AM on May 25, 2006


I know we can do it if we believe in ourselves.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:11 AM on May 25, 2006


Maybe if someone would actually bother responding to the point I made about the different methodologies that characterize different moral theories, we could sail right over the top.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:14 AM on May 25, 2006


Metafilter: I wish you'd been born without hands so no one would have to read your stupid posts.

It's longer than the usual tagline, but it works for me!
posted by zarah at 10:15 AM on May 25, 2006


Maybe if someone would actually bother responding to the point I made about the different methodologies that characterize different moral theories, we could sail right over the top.

Consequentialists think only in terms of outcomes.
(44 to go!)
posted by Floydd at 10:31 AM on May 25, 2006


Floydd, you've finally redeemed your participation in this thread. :)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:39 AM on May 25, 2006


PT, book recs are cool. Can't promise I'll read it. I'm not one for philosophy.

The goal of the work appears to be to provoke in the reader a choice between the aesthetic life and the ethical life, but it's written pseudonymously, so you can't directly attribute any views to Kierkegaard himself. It does seem fair to say that he uses these pseudonyms to advance radically different conceptions of a life well lived.

If your point in all of this is to say that I need a better understanding of different ways to live a life well, I don't get that. I'm very live and let live. I accept you might have a very full and satisfying life the way you do - but it's not right for me. At any rate, thanks for the rec.

Many people who share your views about what makes life worth living regard Volume One of Either/Or as the greatest ever description of the "gorgeous" life to which you aspire (and which you have already to some extent achieved).

To total extent achieved, baby. I'm in awe every day. All we need for the future is a little more money to go globe-trotting, and we're set.
posted by agregoli at 10:58 AM on May 25, 2006


agregoli: If your point in all of this is to say that I need a better understanding of different ways to live a life well

That wasn't my point. My point was that Kierkegaard gives what is almost universally acclaimed as the best ever description of the kind of life you admire.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:00 AM on May 25, 2006


Floydd, you've finally redeemed your participation in this thread. :)
It's more "presence" than actual participation, but I'm glad I could brighten your day a little.
posted by Floydd at 11:36 AM on May 25, 2006


That wasn't my point. My point was that Kierkegaard gives what is almost universally acclaimed as the best ever description of the kind of life you admire.

You'll forgive me for being suspicious since you've slammed my way of living more than a few times now.
posted by agregoli at 11:54 AM on May 25, 2006


uh agregoli you have to remember that it would be a perfect world if only everyone were a boring old prig and you're messing it up so
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:52 PM on May 25, 2006


Optimus_Chyme: it would be a perfect world if only everyone were a boring old prig

No it wouldn't. I've been accused of utopian thinking, and it's just not true.

agregoli: You'll forgive me for being suspicious since you've slammed my way of living more than a few times now.

Well, I hope you'll trust me on this one. I've known lots of aesthetes who dote on Kierkegaard's treatment of the life of immersion in immediacy that you say you admire. Even though Kierkegaard himself thought that the aesthetic life was only one existential phase that was surpassed by the ethical life and then ultimately transcended by the religious life, there are plenty of people who reject both the religious life and the ethical life who very much admire Kierkegaard's richly textured account of the aesthetic life. Honest.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:26 PM on May 25, 2006


agregoli, on my view it's always a good thing when people explore more thoughtful versions of their own standpoints, even when I myself completely reject those standpoints. Defeating in argument a position that hasn't been very well articulated is no great achievement; much better to encounter the strongest possible version of views with which we disagree.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:41 PM on May 25, 2006


Ah, so it's my argument that needs work.

Believe me, I've spent a lot of my time on earth thinking about my philosophy on life and how I want to live it. I might not express it as well as a great philosopher, but who cares? I'm not trying to convince anyone so I don't think I need to learn how to tell people about it differently.

There's no "argument" coming from me. It's hard to respect your views and what you've presented here simply because with things like that, you show you want to "defeat" an opposing view.

Do you really care that other people have different ways of living their lives?

Besides, there is a lot of value in speaking plainly. Shrug.

If I'm going to read Kierkegaard (and I should, I haven't read any) I don't think I'll start with this one. I have some different recs from a friend (today) that I think would be a better start.
posted by agregoli at 1:59 PM on May 25, 2006


agregoli: If I'm going to read Kierkegaard (and I should, I haven't read any) I don't think I'll start with this one. I have some different recs from a friend (today) that I think would be a better start.

If your goal is to understand Kierkegaard, that's certainly appropriate. But why are you interested in the historical origins of Christian Existentialism? The reason I was recommending Volume One of Either/Or wasn't to help you understand something about Kierkegaard, but because Kierkegaard had one of his pseudonyms assemble a book by another of his pseudonyms that is widely regarded as the definitive statement of the philosophy of life that you've advocated as your own. I've never heard an advocate of your views about the meaning of life complain that Kierkegaard misrepresents them.

As far as getting to know something about Kierkegaard as a "philosopher", the four starting points are usually Fear and Trembling, The Sickness Unto Death, Philosophical Fragments, and Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments. They're all great, but you won't find views expressed there that you'll recognize as already your own. When you read "Immediate Stages of the Erotic" or "Diary of the Seducer" from Volume One of Either/Or, you may well recognize someone thinking through at the most fundamental levels your own views about the meaning of life. And that is always a good thing, I believe, even though I deplore those views.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:52 PM on May 25, 2006


Either/Or is a good Elliott Smith record.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:02 PM on May 25, 2006


agregoli: Do you really care that other people have different ways of living their lives?

I've been insisting that I think this is the most important point we have to deal with in contemporary political discussions.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:19 PM on May 25, 2006


If only we had a society in which we could just ensure people have the information they need to make an informed choice, and then let them live by whatever choice they desire so long as it does not harm non-consenting and/or non-adult others.

What you do that does not cause harm to me is none of my business. And vice-versa.

I do not understand why that should not be enough for people. But noooooo, they want to either squelch the information or control the choices. Bloody stupid.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:15 PM on May 25, 2006


five_fresh_fish: If only we had a society in which we could just ensure people have the information they need to make an informed choice

No one responded to it when I made the following argument against zoogleplex's comments about the glories of the American experiment, but it's the same argument I'd make against the point you're trying to urge here:

Either one's choice of where to get one's morals is rationally justifiable or it isn't.

If the choice is rationally justifiable, then the choice must have taken place in a context of habituated patterns of thought, feeling, and action that gave appropriate kinds of salience to certain features of the source chosen. Such salience-creation requires substantive character formation, of which the social consensus you describe is, self-avowedly, incapable.

If the choice is not rationally justifiable, then whatever it is that results from the choice is not morality, because morality has authority over us, whereas rationally unjustifiable choices have no authority whatsoever.

posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:22 PM on May 25, 2006


I simply do not see that as any sort of argument against what I said. So long as it takes place between informed, consensual, adult people, it is not my place to judge their decision.

Not. My. Place.

Yes, it is a terrible shame that I'm not the king of everything and able to inform everyone in such a way that their consensual, adult choices are exactly those that I feel they should make.

For starters, I'd inform you in such a way that you'd acquiesce to my feeling that you should STFU and mind your own business.

But in all fairness, I'll allow this: when you get to be the king of everything, you will surely be able to inform me that my consensual, adult choices of lifelong monogamy and guaranteed-childless future are wicked sins, and that I'd best get my balls stitched back together.

Until then, though, I guess we'll both have to settle for being happy that I can tell you to fuck off.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:47 PM on May 25, 2006


five_fresh_fish: it is not my place to judge their decision.

Forget their decisions. You have your own decisions to worry about.

You're making a move that characterizes contemporary moral discussion. When the question of what to do arises, you switch the topic to the question of who decides what to do. That does not address the substantive question.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:29 AM on May 26, 2006


I think the point is that you need to stop concerning yourself with the perceived morality, or lack thereof, of other people.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:34 AM on May 26, 2006


If your goal is to understand Kierkegaard, that's certainly appropriate. But why are you interested in the historical origins of Christian Existentialism?

I'm not. Even that question bores me.

The reason I was recommending Volume One of Either/Or wasn't to help you understand something about Kierkegaard, but because Kierkegaard had one of his pseudonyms assemble a book by another of his pseudonyms that is widely regarded as the definitive statement of the philosophy of life that you've advocated as your own. I've never heard an advocate of your views about the meaning of life complain that Kierkegaard misrepresents them.

And thanks for the rec, but it doesn't really interest me. I've read some reviews and found an excerpt online and I think it would put me right to sleep. Sorry, not my bag.

They're all great, but you won't find views expressed there that you'll recognize as already your own.

I don't read only to hear my own views?

When you read "Immediate Stages of the Erotic" or "Diary of the Seducer" from Volume One of Either/Or, you may well recognize someone thinking through at the most fundamental levels your own views about the meaning of life. And that is always a good thing, I believe, even though I deplore those views.

I'm not sure why you want me to read stuff confirming my world view - I don't need confirmation or validation or agreement from anyone about my life. I'm all set, thanks.
posted by agregoli at 6:55 AM on May 26, 2006


I think the point is that you need to stop concerning yourself with the perceived morality, or lack thereof, of other people.

And that's all that bothers me. I don't care how anyone else lives their life. But I care when they decide how *I* should live my life. Nuh uh, no way. Get your morals off of me.
posted by agregoli at 7:00 AM on May 26, 2006


agregoli: But I care when they decide how *I* should live my life.

But you don't see that that itself is a moral view? Are you really that unreflective? You don't care about how other people live their lives, except when you do.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:43 AM on May 26, 2006


Yeah, it's that whole "individual freedom" thing.

Man, you're so tiresome.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:00 AM on May 26, 2006


You guys are a riot. "Individual freedom" is great. I'm all for it. But then the question arises: individual freedom for what? That's not a "who decides" question.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:16 AM on May 26, 2006


Yeah, individual freedom for things like a) reproduction and b) shutting the fuck up.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:32 AM on May 26, 2006


But you don't see that that itself is a moral view? Are you really that unreflective? You don't care about how other people live their lives, except when you do.

Gosh, that's almost as wise as saying it's wrong to be intolerant of bigots because, y'know, that's bigoted.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:33 AM on May 26, 2006


five_fresh_fish, surely you realize that the question of tolerance has special point precisely when it is a matter of tolerating bigots. That was one of the main conflicts worked out at the beginning of the history of liberalism, and the decision was made to tolerate bigots. You didn't get the memo, apparently.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:35 AM on May 26, 2006


ludwig_van, no one is making you read or respond to anything here. So please stop complaining.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:36 AM on May 26, 2006


I guess it's kind of like the whole Schroedinger's cat thing, where before I look at the "My Comments" page you're suspended somewhere between douchebaggery and non-douchebaggery. But then every time I look at "My Comments," the waveform collapses, and bam, you're a douchebag. So I'll say as much if it pleases me at this point in the never-ending thread of stupidity, thank you very much.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:43 AM on May 26, 2006


ludwig_van: the waveform collapses, and bam, you're a douchebag.

I guess in the circles you travel in when you aren't capable of arguing against someone, name-calling will suffice.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:45 AM on May 26, 2006


Gosh, that's almost as wise as saying it's wrong to be intolerant of bigots because, y'know, that's bigoted.

five fresh fish nailed it.

You want to say I have no morals because I live the way I do. I DO have morals. Just not yours.

And I don't have to ascribe to yours. That's the point. I believe in personal freedom.

I don't care about how other people live their lives - unless they tell me how to live mine. What's so hard to grasp about that? I don't tell fundies how to live their lives - why are they so interested in running mine?
posted by agregoli at 8:48 AM on May 26, 2006


That was one of the main conflicts worked out at the beginning of the history of liberalism...

You are referring, of course, to the Liberal Convention of 1869, when the Kansas Liberals from Liberal, Kansas tried to push through an amendment to the national Liberal Constitution & Manifesto that stated, in part, that "...tolerance of intolerance shall be tolerated insofar as is tolerable."
That motion was returned to committee on a 5-4 vote and, as everyone knows, has languished in committee ever since.
posted by Floydd at 8:49 AM on May 26, 2006


It's a lesson we learn in grade school about our hands: "Keep it to yourself."
posted by agregoli at 8:53 AM on May 26, 2006


If he'd keep his hands to himself he wouldn't have to worry about NFP.
posted by Floydd at 8:55 AM on May 26, 2006


I guess in the circles you travel in when you aren't capable of arguing against someone, name-calling will suffice.

Yeah, everyone was really impressed when you said that 600 comments ago.

I have no interest in arguing with you. I think you're a boring, pathetic sophist. I and others have already argued with you extensively and demonstrated quite clearly why you're wrong, and yet you're still here, raring to go, oblivious to the fact that no one takes you seriously.

Now this is the part where you say something asinine like "ludwig_van, I'm still waiting for the reasons why I'm wrong! :)" and then this thread goes on for another 10,000 comments and then the earth spirals into the sun.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:57 AM on May 26, 2006


I thought the sun was going to spiral into the earth?

Either way, I am concerned.
posted by agregoli at 8:59 AM on May 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Don't forget the numbers, ludwig_van.
The list's gotta have numbered points, or it's not valid.
posted by Floydd at 9:01 AM on May 26, 2006


Everyone knows that the question of whether the sun is going to spiral into the earth or the earth is going to spiral into the sun was settled by Pope Alexander VII when he published his Index Librorum Prohibitorum Alexandri VII Pontificis Maximi jussu editus.
The earth, being the stationery center of the universe, will not spiral into the sun. Most rational people agree that the sun will spiral into the earth.
Some scholars assert that "corkscrew" would be a more accurate term, but that's just the wine talking.
posted by Floydd at 9:09 AM on May 26, 2006


And by stationery center of the universe, I mean the only place in the universe one can purchase stationery.
posted by Floydd at 9:17 AM on May 26, 2006


ludwig_van: you say something asinine like "ludwig_van, I'm still waiting for the reasons why I'm wrong! :)"

I've never said that or anything like it. Many people have offered reasons, many of them quite reasonable, why they think I'm wrong. You claimed something much different. You claimed that I had contradicted myself, which is not true. When pressed, you tried to come up with inconsistent sets of propositions, but unfortunately I hadn't affirmed all of them. Just retract the accusation of self-contradiction, and I'll stop pointing out that you've failed to make the case that I've contradicted myself. I'm still waiting for that list of propositions I've affirmed that is inconsistent.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:32 AM on May 26, 2006


If we hit 1,001 posts this thread will crash into the Sun. The only way to prevent this is to have meaningless sex with as many people as possible.

Bagsy I go first.
posted by longbaugh at 9:49 AM on May 26, 2006


agregoli: I'm not sure why you want me to read stuff confirming my world view - I don't need confirmation or validation or agreement from anyone about my life. I'm all set, thanks.

It's not a matter of confirming or disconfirming your view, but just exploring it in more detail. Hey, it's just a book recommendation, of a book that is widely regarded, by many people who share your view, as one of the greatest explorations of that view. If you're not interested, fine.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:49 AM on May 26, 2006


If we hit 1,001 posts this thread will crash into the Sun.

I'm probably going to be eating lunch when that happens.
I'll miss all the fun.
posted by Floydd at 9:57 AM on May 26, 2006


Don't talk! Hump dammit!
posted by longbaugh at 10:00 AM on May 26, 2006


It's not a matter of confirming or disconfirming your view, but just exploring it in more detail. Hey, it's just a book recommendation, of a book that is widely regarded, by many people who share your view, as one of the greatest explorations of that view. If you're not interested, fine.

Yep. I told you twice now I'm not interested, but thanks for the rec.
posted by agregoli at 10:27 AM on May 26, 2006


BLAMMO!!!!!
posted by agregoli at 10:48 AM on May 26, 2006


peeping_Thomist, it really baffles me that you're still trying to have a straight-faced argument about this. Isn't it obvious to you that no one is interested in engaging with you? It's because it's all already been said, and you've made it clear that you're willing to resort to sophistry and dishonest argumentation.

I've already pointed out the contradictions in your argument. The most significant one is the same as it has been for the whole thread, the fact that you claim to support separation of church and state and yet you defend your assertion that contraception doesn't belong in public schools with Catholic doctrine. And yes, I read your many contorted attempts to weasel out of that, and they were all crap. Your anti-contraception position is not rational. And that's fine with me; you can be as irrational as you want to be regarding your own reproductive choices, but you're flatly wrong in your opinons about the best public policy.

That's your most glaring contradiction. Please keep in mind that I am completely uninterested in any reason you have to offer at this point for why that isn't a contradiction. If you had a good argument, you would've made it already.

Furthermore, even if I were to retract my accusation of a contradiction, your argument is still obviously fallacious on so many levels that it doesn't needs to be self-contradictory to be wrong.

Now I really hope you'll pull your head out of your ass and cut the "won't anyone just respond to my points" crap. We've heard your points, and we think they're stupid.

P.S. 1000 posts motherfuckers!

on preview: dammit, agregoli.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:59 AM on May 26, 2006


yay team!!!
I'm outta here.
posted by Floydd at 11:15 AM on May 26, 2006


ludwig_van: you're willing to resort to sophistry and dishonest argumentation.

Oh, blow it out your ass. You don't know what you're talking about.

ludwig_van: you claim to support separation of church and state and yet you defend your assertion that contraception doesn't belong in public schools with Catholic doctrine.

My position about what should be taught in public schools (namely that there should be different public schools catering to different ethical identities) does not derive from (and is not even compatible with certain versions of) Catholic doctrine. Hence your claim that I've contradicted myself is bullshit.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:16 AM on May 26, 2006


Sorry! It was fun though.
posted by agregoli at 11:17 AM on May 26, 2006


Please keep in mind that I am completely uninterested in any reason you have to offer at this point for why that isn't a contradiction. If you had a good argument, you would've made it already.

Furthermore, even if I were to retract my accusation of a contradiction, your argument is still obviously fallacious on so many levels that it doesn't needs to be self-contradictory to be wrong.


Anyway, we broke the barrier, good effort everyone. Adieu p_T, you monotonous twat.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:20 AM on May 26, 2006


ludwig_van: even if I were to retract my accusation of a contradiction

But for whatever reason you appear unable to actually retract it, even after it has repeatedly been shown to be baseless.

ludwig_van: your argument is still obviously fallacious on so many levels

That's the amazing thing about how multiform rationality is: what seems manifest arrant nonsense to one group of people seems to be the pure light of common sense to another group. Hence, unless you're willing to completely identify yourself with your tribe (something you and several others here seem to be quite willing to do), you face the question of how your group's conception of rationality can be shown in a non-arbitrary way to be superior to its rivals. Simply pointing out how, by your tribe's standards, the rival approach is "obviously fallacious" is a non-starter. Of course it seems obviously fallacious. How do you non-arbitrarily make the move from that fact to the conclusion that it is false?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:28 AM on May 26, 2006


So p_T - what does your position derive from? Is it the tax thing you mentioned (way) earlier? If so then you are hiding your moral position. I don't want my tax money being spent on bombing brown people. It's a moral decision as to how I'd like my money spent, masquerading very poorly as a financial reasoning. I'd actually like to know.

...but only because I am elated that I have apparently survived burning to ashes in the heat of the Sun.
posted by longbaugh at 11:31 AM on May 26, 2006


How do you non-arbitrarily make the move from that fact to the conclusion that it is false?

Please see above 1000 comments. And don't expect any more replies from me, you indefatigable charlatan.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:34 AM on May 26, 2006


longbaugh: So p_T - what does your position derive from?

It derives from thinking and reading I've done about the problems of pluralism. There's a huge philosophical literature on these questions, the vast majority of it not from Catholic or Christian perspectives. As I've said before, I'd like to see young people coming out of public schools with resources to think seriously about pluralism, rather than just spouting slogans about "freedom of choice". The resources needed for grapping with pluralism are not going to be the same for each person or community, because pluralism has to do with how communities are related to each other. Answering the procedural question of "who decides" does not yet address the substantive question of which of our choices are rationally defensible.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:47 AM on May 26, 2006


peeping_Thomist: How do you non-arbitrarily make the move from that fact to the conclusion that it is false?

ludwig_van: Please see above 1000 comments.

How did those comments establish a non-arbitrary standard? I missed that part.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:49 AM on May 26, 2006


Congratulations, folks!
Looks like this is #5.
posted by Floydd at 12:14 PM on May 26, 2006


Really? I don't see it on there anywhere.
posted by agregoli at 12:35 PM on May 26, 2006


Floydd: Congratulations, folks!

Congratulations, "folks"? Is that what people said to the Philadelphia Warriors on the night back in 1962 when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points? "Great job, guys!"

My sense of justice is offended.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:54 PM on May 26, 2006


I asked a deep and sincere question but MeFi ate it. I can't be bothered to post it again. It was good though, trust me. Roll on June 10th and the death of this thread.
posted by longbaugh at 12:55 PM on May 26, 2006


My sense of justice is offended.
We'll happily retire your user number, but remember there's no "I" in "team."
I can get "meat," "me," "met," "mat," "tame," and "meta."
But no "I."
posted by Floydd at 1:27 PM on May 26, 2006


NFP kills more embryos than other contraceptive methods.

Forget their decisions. You have your own decisions to worry about.

Apparently you are granted a special dispensation, such that while all the rest of us should mind our own business, you get to call us "sinners" and "perverts" and so on and so forth.

Do us all a favour and eat your own damned dog food.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:01 PM on May 26, 2006


Tolerating Bigots? Looks like Fred Phelps may end up being made illegal.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:17 PM on May 26, 2006


five_fresh_fish, I already posted a link to that story in this thread, and commented on how it highlighted how different moral theories have significantly different methodologies.

Since then, I've learned that the article in question is not a science article but a medical ethics article, and is just recycling an old accusation from the 1970's against NFP that has been refuted for more than ten years. A 1995 article in the New England Journal of Medicine found no evidence for an association between NFP and increased embryo loss, and the author of the article that is the basis for the news story to which you linked does not, so far as I have heard, add any new evidence.

But there's still the question of what should be done if it is true that using NFP results in greater numbers of lost embryos. My own view is that it probably would not be all that morally significant.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:19 PM on May 26, 2006


five_fresh_fish, about Phelps, that guy is bad news, but I'm not at all happy with the government's move toward marginalizing protest. There are some real horror stories about how the Bush administration has squelched protests.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:23 PM on May 26, 2006


Oh, look! Abstinence ed is an HIV disaster.

And to think, these past few links all came about from my normal, daily news browsing.

Killing embryos, tolerating Phelps, and giving Ugandans the modern-day plague — all in a day's good work for the anti-contraception, pro-meddling asswipes out there!

can you imagine if a law were actually passed that made it illegal to be Phelps, let alone act like him? Oh, to dream!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:27 PM on May 26, 2006


five_fresh_fish: tolerating Phelps

Good heavens, I would assume everyone here would want to tolerate Phelps. Is there anyone here who thinks laws against speech are a good thing?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:48 PM on May 26, 2006


Could someone explain to me why the underlines? I've seen a few users do it. Makes no sense whatsoever to me.

For that matter, why on earth would anyone spell out my entire alias name? FFF or FFFish is eversomuch easier on the fingers.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 PM on May 26, 2006


five_fresh_fish, italics are a recognized way of quoting material. It's a courtesy to the reader, so they can know who is speaking. Many email clients automatically change the appearance of quoted material, by either changing the color or the font or whatever.

As for why I spell out your alias, it just seems a matter of common courtesy. This isn't instant messaging; these conversations get archived and linked to.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:28 AM on May 27, 2006


five_fresh_fish, here's a slightly less biased account account of the current situation in Uganda.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:36 AM on May 27, 2006


five_fresh_fish, by the way, you haven't said whether you support tolerating Phelps. You do, don't you?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:37 AM on May 27, 2006


Italics? I said underscores. In the name. Dipshit.

No, I do not support tolerating Phelps. I live in a more civilized country.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:51 AM on May 27, 2006


five_fresh_fish, the underscores connect the parts of the alias. Otherwise the reader might think I was saying something about five fresh fish. And there's no need for name-calling.

Most Americans believe pretty strongly that the government shouldn't decide what kinds of speech are appropriate or inappropriate, and we're especially opposed to criminalizing speech. Phelps is a jerk, but I think most Americans believe that the proper response to people like Phelps is more speech, not less.

Of course, that's our official line on things. When we actually find speech offensive, we frequently look for ways to criminalize it, but then we feel guilty about it. Making someone like Phelps a victim of probably unconstitutional laws is a bad idea.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:07 AM on May 27, 2006


Nah, no need for name-calling. Instead, let us play the fancy word games that you so enjoy, so that the insults are obfuscated. Should I the word you just used to describe Phelps? Dipshit.

I could not possibly care less what you think about Phelps, free speech, or hate crime.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:55 PM on May 27, 2006


Tolerating bigots? Look, PT, someone else for you to tell to tolerate the bigots!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:15 PM on May 27, 2006


five_fresh_fish, a willingness to obfuscate insults is one of the foundations of civilization.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:44 PM on May 27, 2006


Social Scientist Says Paul VI Was Right

Bradford Wilcox says social science data has “largely vindicated Christian moral teaching on sex and marriage.” Many of his colleagues, even those who are not Catholic, have found the prediction of Pope Paul VI — that contraception would have tremendously negative effects on society — to be true.

Wilcox, a former Episcopalian, came into the Catholic Church in 1995. Assistant professor of sociology at the university of Virginia, he is the author of Soft Patriarchs, New Man: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husband. Register correspondent Sabrina Arena Ferrisi spoke to him.

In Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), No. 17, Pope Paul VI laid out some consequences he foresaw from public acceptance of contraception. He said, “Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” Have lowered moral standards resulted from contraception?

Professor George Akerlof the University of California, Berkeley, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics, writes about traditional-minded woman in the 1960s and 1970s. He says they generally waited to have sex until they got married. But even in cases where they did have premarital sex, they made sure that they would get married in case a child was conceived.

Akerlof also talks about women leading amore hedonistic lifestyle. Prior to the 1960s, women had to be extremely careful about not getting pregnant. The pill, when introduced in the 1960s, allowed “hedonistic” women to have greater power in the romantic market because they could be sexually active without worrying about pregnancy.

This put pressure on traditional and moderate women. A guy could threaten to have sex with another woman if a more traditional-minded women did not have sex with him. Thus, moderate women, who were less sure of their moral beliefs, drifted toward the more hedonistic lifestyle — in order to keep the man.

More than 70% of women today have sex before marriage. This compares to two generations ago, when it was less than 20%. All of this is related to a change in technology. The pill made it so much more difficult to say No to premarital sex.

You’re made the further claim that contraception has another moral consequence: a rise in the divorce rate. How could that be?

Basically, there are two reasons. Contraception allows for marriage to become less child-centered and more focused on the emotional side of marriage. Therefore, people don’t stick together for the child. They stop seeing marriage as intrinsically linked to kids. When problems arise, people think it’s better to divorce — even if they do have kids — because they see marriage in primarily emotional terms.

Second, the introduction of the pill allowed more women to stay in the workforce after they married in ways that they would not have before. Prior to the pill, women typically would have married, had children and stopped working. Thus, after the contraceptive revolution, married women became more career-focused and economically independent. Women thus felt freer to divorce because they had more economic and social resources.

And what about men? Has the availability of contraception, then, made men postpone marriage, maturity and responsibility?

Yes. Indirectly, contraception has increased the adolescence of men and women. Man can get everything they want without marriage and children. They can have sex without the commitment and responsibility associated with marriage, and it has helped men postpone marriage.

In our culture, getting married and becoming a father has been an important rite of passage for men. Men think of themselves as really adult only when they get married. But contraception has allowed men to put it off because they do not have the incentive they had before.

Pope Paul VI also said, “Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.” Has contraception worsened relations between men and women?

People who have many partners report less happiness in their sex life. We know that married people report greater happiness in their sexual relations then non-married people. The key is commitment within their sexual relations. This is true for men and women. There is something about the intimacy and vulnerability inherent to sex that makes commitment so important. Although contraception has made it easier for Americans to have more premarital sex, ironically, it has reduced the quality of sexual relations because it fosters uncommitted sex.

What about married couples?

The research shows that contraception makes marriage more focused on the emotional side of marriage and less child-centered. It allows couples to adopt a more couple-centered or hedonistic lifestyle. Couples put off having children to spend more money on consumer items like cars and clothes, focus on their jobs, have nice vacations and basically life the “good” life. We especially see this in Europe.

It seems axiomatic that contraception helps plan pregnancies. Yet you say it leads to unplanned pregnancies. How so?

In the 1960s, the thinking was that it we made abortion and contraception available, there would be no more unplanned pregnancies. People would be more careful. But, in fact, in the wake of widespread abortion and contraception, there has been a dramatic increase in illegitimacy. In 1960, 5% of births were illegitimate. In 2000, 33% of births were illegitimate.

Akerlof says that this is a paradox because the pill and abortion were supposed to reduce out-of-wedlock childbearing. But the technological shock of the pill was to dramatically increase premarital sex. This increased the possibility of conceiving children because many people used contraception ineffectively or not at all.

Another direct effect was that the introduction of abortion and contraception placed all the responsibility on women. Men could now say to a woman if she got pregnant, “Well, you could have an abortion” — and walk away. In fact, as a consequence of this new mindset, we saw a dramatic decline in shotgun marriage among men in the 1970s that has continued to this day, especially among the poor.

Why especially the poor?

The sexual revolution and its negative consequences fell disproportionately on the poor. Marriage depends on two pillars. The first is socioeconomic resources, and the second pillar is morality or religion. In terms of socioeconomic resources, marriage is a vehicle for building up savings, property and the like. People understand this and are more willing to get and stay married when they have access to resources, especially a good job for the man in the relationship.

For example, if you buy a house together, you will bear a heavy price if you divorce. So it is in your best interest not to get a divorce. It is also in the best interest for the kids, financially and otherwise, not to get a divorce. But if you don’t have these resources, you pay a smaller price for divorcing. This is one reason that the poor divorce more than the middle class.

The other pillar that supports marriage is morality or religion. For instance, people who think that premarital sex is immoral will be more inclined to keep sex within marriage. Because they have fewer resources, the poor and working class have traditionally depended more on the moral pillar to keep the institution of marriage strong in their communities.

Today, the moral pillar has collapsed across the socioeconomic spectrum. Almost everyone has pretty much bought into the ideas of the sexual revolution across class lines. But divorce and illegitimacy is less in the middle and high classes because they still want to protect their money, property and social status, and they want to pass their socioeconomic status on to their children.

— From the National Catholic Register, February 6-12, 2005.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:42 PM on May 31, 2006


Akerlof also talks about women leading amore hedonistic lifestyle. Prior to the 1960s, women had to be extremely careful about not getting pregnant. The pill, when introduced in the 1960s, allowed “hedonistic” women to have greater power in the romantic market because they could be sexually active without worrying about pregnancy.


Hooray! The Pill is such a blessing.

And it's a terrible horror that women have more sexual choices now and don't have to get married to enjoy their bodies with another person! Oh noes!!!!!eleventy111!!!

This stuff makes me giggle. =)
posted by agregoli at 8:13 AM on June 1, 2006


Women thus felt freer to divorce because they had more economic and social resources.

Oh, those bitches! How dare women not be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen!

Couples put off having children to spend more money on consumer items like cars and clothes, focus on their jobs, have nice vacations and basically life the “good” life.

Bastards, all of us! Imagine the audacity of not having children! By the gods, how will humanity survive without us continuing to breed like rabbits!

FFS, peeping, what the hell is that crapload of ridiculous prose supposed to do other than make me roll my eyes and actively desire an end to your silly religion?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:34 AM on June 1, 2006


five_fresh_fish: what the hell is that crapload of ridiculous prose supposed to do other than make me roll my eyes

Well as far as you in particular are concerned, I didn't (and don't) expect the article would lead to much beyond eyerolling; feel free to roll your eyes as much as you please. Nonetheless I thought it was a good article, and would be of interest to at least some people who follow this thread. (I assume, since it is this way most place on the Internet, that many people who see this thread are lurkers.) I was especially interested in the link between the increase in the use of contraception and the increase of the number of unplanned pregnancies. It's an illustration of what in economics is called the law of unintended consequences.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:20 AM on June 1, 2006


Bastards, all of us! Imagine the audacity of not having children!

I KNOW, right?!?!?! How dare I have options and opportunities in life to do what I please with my future and my body?

I'm such a hedonistic slut that way. Loving every minute of it... =)
posted by agregoli at 9:40 AM on June 1, 2006


More than 70% of women today have sex before marriage. This compares to two generations ago, when it was less than 20%.

hahaha yeah i bet
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:01 AM on June 1, 2006


p_T - again I wrote a massive post but deleted it because it'd just be a total waste of time. Just admit to me that you are a whore for the Catholic church and we'll be done. If you'd have been born in Iran you'd be a whore for Islam. People like you will whore whatever theological or philisophical system suits them best. You can dress it up in the nicest language and the finest arguments, honed over the years by other pious fools but basically, the pope is your Pimpifex Maximus.

I'm sorry if this is against the posting rules, what with it being directed at an individual rather than the subject but I have not seen this sort of argument since the days of bevets he-who-shall-not-be-named. Being a religious person doesn't stop you being smart - you've clearly read a lot and have a fine understanding of many subjects, the problem is that you just cannot understand why we all disagree with you. That's your failing.
posted by longbaugh at 10:25 AM on June 1, 2006


longbaugh: Just admit to me that you are a whore for the Catholic church and we'll be done.

I'll admit no such thing. I know of very few Catholics who believe that there should be public schools that cater to different ethical identities, including ethical identities which we Catholics find appalling. Most Catholic intellectuals have believed that either public schools should cater to the Truth, or else that public schools should embody some minimal, shared moral identity that we can all get behind. I reject the former as a form of denial about pluralism, and the latter as a form of naivete about pluralism. But those two options pretty well exhaust the "official" Catholic options on this question.

The claim that I'm just a shill is bullshit. It's indefensible, which is why you don't actually try to defend it, but rather just label me with it and hope no one notices that it's bullshit.

longbaugh: the problem is that you just cannot understand why we all disagree with you.

How idiotic. I've thought more about "why" you all disagree with me, and have studied answers to that question written by people much more thoughtful than nearly everyone posting to this thread, and it simply is not accurate to say that I "cannot understand" why you all disagree with me. I have views about the nature of pluralism that I believe give me perfectly suitable resources for understanding why you all disagree. It is you all, rather, who are calling me names and are flabbergasted that someone who actually thinks things through as carefully as he can could come to different conclusions than you do. So I must be a "whore" for something or other. Nice.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:42 AM on June 1, 2006


I'm not flabbergasted that you think differently than I do. What I wonder is, why on earth I should care?
posted by agregoli at 11:50 AM on June 1, 2006


Nah, you see again I've written a great big long thoughtful post to answer you then deleted it because there really isn't any point in arguing with you. Back to wishing death on this crappest of crappy threads.
posted by longbaugh at 12:56 PM on June 1, 2006


agregoli: What I wonder is, why on earth I should care?

One of the reasons I should care when I find reasonable people who disagree with me is that my own ways of thinking may need to be revised in order to accomodate whatever new insights I can glean from the others' ways of thinking. My ability to have new insights is not completely constrained by the limited expressive powers of my current ways of thinking. Hence, I may have to modify my ways of thinking to make room for such new insights. That is a necessary consequence of methodological fallibilism, and I believe that given our historical situation (in which appeals to self-evident first princples cannot be rationally sustained) is it irresponsible to be anything other than a methodological fallibilist, whether what is under consideration is inquiry into nature or inquiry into the goods we seek in human action.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:00 PM on June 1, 2006


longbaugh, if there's no point in arguing, how are your views any better grounded epistemologically than a fundamentalist's views (which are the paradigm case of poorly grounded views)?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:03 PM on June 1, 2006


I am not arguing with you. That's the point. I have to keep telling myself not to because it's incredibly frustrating reading what you write without wanting to bang my head into a wall several times. I prefer to avoid conflict unless necessary so I see no point in continuing the discussion.

Likening me to a fundamentalist? That's a good one.
posted by longbaugh at 1:14 PM on June 1, 2006


Blahbity blahblah blah. I don't care because I've heard it all already.

The point is, you don't want this thread to die - you've hashed our your position and we have ours - there's nothing left to talk or "learn" about.
posted by agregoli at 1:15 PM on June 1, 2006


I am not arguing with you. That's the point.

That's my point as well. There is no argument here, although PT desperately wants one to continue.
posted by agregoli at 1:16 PM on June 1, 2006


longbaugh: Likening me to a fundamentalist?

How else am I to make sense of people who reject rational discourse as a means of inquiry?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:17 PM on June 1, 2006


Possibly by using that grey matter between your ears. The problem is that by arguing with you I am not entering into a rational discourse because your moral perspective is that of someone who is clearly guided by a religion (this makes you non-rational). So you can see that no matter how flowery your language and well presented your arguments it's like talking to a wall. A very well constructed wall with pretty patterns and so on, but a wall none the less.
posted by longbaugh at 1:25 PM on June 1, 2006


"Professor George Akerlof the University of California, Berkeley, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics, writes about traditional-minded woman in the 1960s and 1970s. He says they generally waited to have sex until they got married."

Economists are not recognized authorities on social practices. Please show evidence to support this extremely vague statement. How many women in the 1960s and 1970s were "traditional-minded," as a percentage of the population?

"More than 70% of women today have sex before marriage. This compares to two generations ago, when it was less than 20%."

Please show compelling evidence to support this assertion. Remember that two generations ago, a large portion of women got married between the ages of 16 and 21 (though I don't have exact numbers at hand), and did not have the opportunity to pursue higher education as the very next generation did (including my mother, who got married at 19 and didn't have sex before marriage).

"Wilcox, a former Episcopalian, came into the Catholic Church in 1995. Assistant professor of sociology at the university of Virginia, he is the author of Soft Patriarchs, New Man: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husband."

— From the National Catholic Register, February 6-12, 2005.

Source of data is clearly biased. Source of report is clearly biased. Please provide other well-supported evidence derived from several peer-reviewed studies from other (and hopefully more impartial) sources.

This part is a good example:
In fact, as a consequence of this new mindset, we saw a dramatic decline in shotgun marriage among men in the 1970s that has continued to this day, especially among the poor.

Why especially the poor?

The sexual revolution and its negative consequences fell disproportionately on the poor. Marriage depends on two pillars. The first is socioeconomic resources, and the second pillar is morality or religion. In terms of socioeconomic resources, marriage is a vehicle for building up savings, property and the like. People understand this and are more willing to get and stay married when they have access to resources, especially a good job for the man in the relationship.

For example, if you buy a house together, you will bear a heavy price if you divorce. So it is in your best interest not to get a divorce. It is also in the best interest for the kids, financially and otherwise, not to get a divorce. But if you don’t have these resources, you pay a smaller price for divorcing. This is one reason that the poor divorce more than the middle class.

The other pillar that supports marriage is morality or religion. For instance, people who think that premarital sex is immoral will be more inclined to keep sex within marriage. Because they have fewer resources, the poor and working class have traditionally depended more on the moral pillar to keep the institution of marriage strong in their communities.
Too many other variables attach to the problems that poor people - especially minorities - have to make blanket statements that contraception has made their lives worse. For instance, how have poor Latin Roman Catholics like Mexicans and South Americans dealt with contraception and divorce? What has the incarceration vs. college graduation rate among African-American men under 40 (which is astronomical compared to non-African-Americans of similar cohort) affected family life among the rest of African-Americans?

Nothing in that article can be considered as rigorous evidence, though certainly it could be a starting point for more investigation by more impartial agencies. By itself it's just some wordy justification of Catholic Church opinion on morality.

Congrats on the huge thread, all! (Uh... I think...)
posted by zoogleplex at 1:34 PM on June 1, 2006


peeping_Thomist's arguments aren't Catholic; in fact they're not religious at all, he came up with them entirely on his own, through his thinking about pluralism (this guy really cares about pluralism). They just happen to be the same as Catholic arguments, and he just happens to quote Catholic documents to support them.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:01 PM on June 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


zoogleplex: Nothing in that article can be considered as rigorous evidence, though certainly it could be a starting point for more investigation

Of course. It was a popular article in a general interest publication.

ludwig_van: peeping_Thomist's arguments aren't Catholic; in fact they're not religious at all, he came up with them entirely on his own, through his thinking about pluralism (this guy really cares about pluralism). They just happen to be the same as Catholic arguments, and he just happens to quote Catholic documents to support them.

Your point?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:25 PM on June 1, 2006


"Of course. It was a popular article in a general interest publication."

To Catholics, and to people who happen to think like them.

It's not going to sway anyone else, so why bother quoting it?

Oh wait, I remember why. 1000+ posts, pluralism, etc.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:30 PM on June 1, 2006


Your point?

lol
posted by ludwig_van at 2:31 PM on June 1, 2006


zoogleplex: It's not going to sway anyone else, so why bother quoting it?

There are two distinct questions. The first is whether what people like me believe about contraception is true. I don't expect to make much headway in swaying anyone here with respect to that question. But the second question is whether it is a sign of irrationality to believe what people like me believe about contraception. That was the question that drew me into this thread, and has kept me here.

So far very few people in this thread have been willing to affirm that what Catholics believe about contraception is not irrational. I think the article I posted is the sort of thing that can help sway reasonable people with regard to the question about rationality. As for the question about truth, I think there are nearly insuperable obstacles to addressing that question in this forum.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:45 PM on June 1, 2006


"The first is whether what people like me believe about contraception is true."

It's subjectively true for you and people like you, and you're more than welcome, in fact you are encouraged, to continue believing that way and living your lives accordingly, as everyone has told you more than once.

It is not objectively true for all people. None of your arguments demonstrate any such objective truth. You're entitled to your opinion, but not entitled to attempt to enforce it upon us. If you want to convince us, you'll have to come up with convincing evidence that your view of contraception is objectively true, in a way similar to how one can show that when you drop a hammer while standing on earth's surface, it will fall with a given acceleration.

That should cover that.

"But the second question is whether it is a sign of irrationality to believe what people like me believe about contraception."

The various respondents in this thread, and (I'm pretty confident) the majority of Americans, believe that it is a sign of irrationality, as it is a belief based either upon religious dogma or upon arbitrary internal determination on your part (individually and/or collectively).

That belief may in itself technically be irrational, but societies have found it useful to establish a baseline somewhere. Compared to the baseline, your opinion is clearly not based on examination of actual quantifiable data.

Whether society as a whole is rational in where it establishes its baseline is a matter for argument, and may indeed form the basic conflict in this thread. Its a matter for the philosophers in any event.

"So far very few people in this thread have been willing to affirm that what Catholics believe about contraception is not irrational."

That's because what Catholics believe about contraception IS irrational, in the same way that what they used to believe about the sun orbiting the earth is irrational.

However, I think we'd all agree that the various societal benefits and detriments related to use or non-use of contraception is worth a great deal of thought and study.

"I think the article I posted is the sort of thing that can help sway reasonable people with regard to the question about rationality."

I believe the rest of us think it's the sort of thing that might sway people who lack critical thinking skills, skepticism, and the ability to discern when an "authoritative" source carries a bias that both distorts the data and is actually irrelevant to the effect(s) being studied.

"As for the question about truth, I think there are nearly insuperable obstacles to addressing that question in this forum."

No argument from me on that one!
posted by zoogleplex at 3:28 PM on June 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


zoogleplex: It is not objectively true for all people.

I'm not exactly sure what you are wanting the distinction between "objectively true" and "subjectively true" to do, but perhaps it is something like the distinction I'd draw between "rational" and "true". Using those terms, I'd say that either what I believe about contraception is true or it is not. I don't really understand what it could mean to talk about something being "true _for_" someone that isn't adequately captured by talking about it being "rational for" them.

I think that what I believe about contraception is rational, as is what many other people who disagree believe about contraception, but that which of us, if either, believes something true about contraception is a much more difficult question. (For example, what if there are no moral facts at all?) Obviously I believe that what I believe about contraception is true, but then I would, wouldn't I?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:56 PM on June 1, 2006


When Catholics go on and on about contraception contributing to a "culture of death", this is the sort of thing we have in mind: babies aborted for not being perfect. Could it be any clearer that these people see their own children as consumer goods, with "defective" ones to be returned?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:22 PM on June 1, 2006


While that's morally repugnant to me, and to you, and to many others, here in America people are allowed to make that reproductive choice within their own consciences - though this article is from Britain, where people are accorded similar rights.

Adult Americans and adult citizens of most "liberal" societies are assumed to be competent to make that choice - even when they may not be. This is part of the societal baseline to which I refer. Allowing people to have rights to make such decisions, even if we don't like them, is a part of the pluralism which you so strongly argue is crucial to our modern lives.

If you want to persuade people that using abortion in this way is improper, I'll help you. I think it's wrong, and I'm as dismayed as anyone that doctors would recommend doing it when a minor "imperfection" can easily be handled with treatment.

However, I won't try to engender legislation against this. As much as I don't like it, I'll defend people's right to make the choice.

It might be interesting to find out what the demographic cross-section of people electing this sort of abortion is - including their professed religious beliefs and socioeconomic status.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:54 PM on June 1, 2006


Could it be any clearer that these people see their own children as consumer goods, with "defective" ones to be returned?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 4:22 PM PST on June 1


God aborts defective fetuses all the time, at a scale far greater than that of his creations. And while I find aborting a fetus for polydactyly abhorrent, I also imagine it's really, really, really rare.

Also you should move to Britain to put a stop to it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:58 PM on June 1, 2006


The reason I brought up the abortion for "defectives" article was to illustrate how Catholics perceive connections between apparently disparate issues. The FPP makes this point, but I thought the recent article from England would help illustrate it.

I'm interested in why zoogleplex and Optimus_Chyme (or any others who have this reaction) find the abortions described in the article to be "morally repugnant" and "abhorrent". I'm not trying to draw you out in order to attack what you say, I'm really just interested. I can see how you'd be able to say "I wouldn't choose it for myself," but how do you move beyond that to "morally repugnant" and "abhorrent"?

I assume there are plenty of people who don't find themselves able to regard such abortions as morally repugnant or abhorrent, on the principle, articulated in this thread, that a person cannot be wrong about such decisions, since they are decisions about what one wants.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:50 PM on June 1, 2006


My position is pretty simple: I think it's wrong to abort a fetus, a potential human being, for a birth defect that is easily correctable or treatable with current medical science.

In fact, I think that many reasons people have for aborting fetuses are wrong or at least questionable - even some of the more common reasons. I personally think that while there are medically legitimate reasons for doing abortions including profound birth defects that have low survivability, that using it as a method of birth control is... well, discomforting to me.

My position may or may not be strictly rational, but it makes sense to me given my personal views on morality and ethics.

However, since I am uncomfortable with the practice of abortion, in order to as completely as possible minimize the possibility of a "birth control" abortion being deemed necessary, I fully support and advocate the use of contraception and sex education which provides all information possible about it (but not necessarily the actual products) and the fact that abstinence is the only 100% method, as well as sex education that does its best to train people about the responsibility they accept when they have sex.

As far as I know, these measures are the only things proven to have a measurable effect on unwanted pregnancies, teen pregnancy rates, abortions, and STD transmissions. No other proposed method seems to work and most make things much worse.

My position re contraception and education is based on independently quantifiable data compiled over decades of research. From that, I consider it to be a rationally-based and realistic position.

And in any event, I don't feel qualified to curtail other people's human and Constitutional rights because I'm uncomfortable with the practice of abortion.

I take that position based on our current societal baseline of human rights, part of which is codified in the Constitution, but which is probably "irrational" by definition.

"I can see how you'd be able to say "I wouldn't choose it for myself," but how do you move beyond that to "morally repugnant" and "abhorrent"?"

The terms "morally repugnant" and "abhorrent" are subjective and, when I say them, I am only describing my own opinion on the subject. I intend no implication whatsoever that the terms are absolute, or even representative of the societal baseline, or that any other person should abide by them.

Does that help?
posted by zoogleplex at 6:36 PM on June 1, 2006


zoogleplex: The terms "morally repugnant" and "abhorrent" are subjective and, when I say them, I am only describing my own opinion on the subject. I intend no implication whatsoever that the terms are absolute

I don't find the distinction between subjective and absolute helpful. Whenever we give our opinions, it is true that we are giving our opinions (and hence there is something subjective going on), but we are also giving our opinions about what we think is true. I don't see how pointing out that it is a subjective opinion gets you out of the bind that it is an opinion about what is true, and that hence there is an implication that what one is proposing is true.

I agree with your point that the fact that you believe something is true doesn't necessarily give anyone else a reason to act one way or the other, but you seem to be collapsing that procedural point into the substantive point about exactly what it is you are (however subjectively) believing when you believe that a certain behavior is morally repugnant and abhorrent.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:07 PM on June 1, 2006


One of the reasons I should care when I find reasonable people who disagree with me is that my own ways of thinking may need to be revised in order to accomodate whatever new insights I can glean from the others' ways of thinking. My ability to have new insights is not completely constrained by the limited expressive powers of my current ways of thinking. Hence, I may have to modify my ways of thinking to make room for such new insights. That is a necessary consequence of methodological fallibilism, and I believe that given our historical situation (in which appeals to self-evident first princples cannot be rationally sustained) is it irresponsible to be anything other than a methodological fallibilist, whether what is under consideration is inquiry into nature or inquiry into the goods we seek in human action.

Dude, I'll bet you are just the life of the party.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:20 PM on June 1, 2006


five_fresh_fish, you and I probably go to significantly different kinds of parties. Dude.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:21 PM on June 1, 2006


I don't find the distinction between subjective and absolute helpful.

Maybe that's why you're so bad at this pluralism stuff.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:43 PM on June 1, 2006


Are you using the word "true" in the sense of absolutely, definitely quantifiable and observable and confirmable by anyone? Such as when electrical current is applied to a light bulb, it is observable to anyone with eyes that the light is on (and can be observed by people without sight that heat is generated, or another effect)?

Or are you using it in the "religious" or "emotional" or "philosophical" sense of the word, where there are many "truths" which cannot necessarily be demonstrated via objective, confirmable, observable phenomena? Such "truths" are usually dependent on one's personal moral view and inner feelings.

From my understanding, you're using the phrase "that you believe something is true" in the latter sense. I do not believe that my opinion is "true" in the former sense in any way, since my opinion can't be quantified. It is a "truth" in the latter sense to me, an emotional truth if you will, but I'd never claim to anyone that it was an absolute quantifiable truth.

So, then: "we are also giving our opinions about what we think is true."

I don't think there should be an "also" there. I think we should stop at "we are giving our opinions." Because that's what it is, an opinion.

When I use the words "true" and "truth," I try to be very careful to use them only as applies to observable and confirmable phenomena. If I slip now and then, it's because I'm a human being. However I never used those words in my explanation of my position, so I think I'm okay.

Plus I've stated that my root opinion about the subject may not be rationally based, which I accept. I don't necessarily feel I need a rational basis for a personal opinion; I'm comfortable working with what I see as the societal baseline as regards this matter.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:50 PM on June 1, 2006


For my opinion, simply re-read what zoogleplex has been saying recently. I strongly support freedom of choice and personal responsibility. There are abortions that I find abhorrent, abortions that I could never support. Nonetheless, I fully support access to them: it must remain a choice.

Abortion rates are in decline, and I believe that as sex education improves, the rate will continue to decline.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:53 PM on June 1, 2006


Entirely off topic: BATTLE OF HASTINGS!!!

Sorry.
posted by zoogleplex at 8:26 PM on June 1, 2006


zoogleplex: Are you using the word "true" in the sense of absolutely, definitely quantifiable and observable and confirmable by anyone? [...] Or are you using it in the "religious" or "emotional" or "philosophical" sense of the word, where there are many "truths" which cannot necessarily be demonstrated via objective, confirmable, observable phenomena?

The idea that the concept of truth is tied to a method of confirmation enjoyed a vogue for a time, but I think it's fair to say that for quite some time it has not been part of the mainstream of either analytic or continental philosophy. The concept of truth is one of the most-discussed in the history of philosophy, and I'm not prepared to take a stand on what theory of truth I endorse, but I do feel confident in saying that the account of truth to which you are appealing is one that has been been given quite a fair hearing and has failed to muster a compelling rejoinder to literally generations of criticism.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:32 PM on June 1, 2006


Boy, you have to give some credit to that good old Wikipedia. I've complained a lot that the Internet hasn't lived up to its potential (after it was opened up to the masses in the early 90's and AOLers started flooding the net, it looked like it would end up being nothing but shit), but Wikipedia is pretty impressive. I know lots of academics who make it a point to monitor the Wikipedia articles that touch on their own areas of expertise, and make appropriate additions, corrections, etc... Maybe there's hope after all.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:38 PM on June 1, 2006


Well, all right then. Even discarding a rigid, "fact-based," confirmable definition of truth, because the universe we perceive is relativistic, or solipsistic, or conveniently illusionary, or consensus-based, it remains that my opinion on what constitutes "morally repugnant" is only a "truth" from my point of view, although it may coincide with other people's "truths."

Even after wading (well, skimming) through all that philosophical stuff, I can find no way to define "truth" as absolute which can be applied universally, especially in a relativistic universe.

And besides, since I know you're smart, you do understand what I mean in any event.

Can we agree that yes, my opinion is what I believe to be "true," philosophically true? Where does this lead you next?
posted by zoogleplex at 9:06 PM on June 1, 2006


Pilate
You're a king

Jesus
Yes you can see I am
I look for truth
And find that I get damned

Pilate
What is truth?
Is truth unchanging law?
We both have truths
Are mine the same as yours?

Crowd
Crucify him, crucify him!
posted by ludwig_van at 4:49 AM on June 2, 2006


zoogleplex, it sounds to me as though you do not believe there are such things as moral facts. This is a perfectly respectable position, though not one I find at all plausible.

Many people who reject the existence of moral facts have tried, as you seem to be doing, to give some account of the meaning of moral statements that would be compatible with the non-existence of moral facts. For example, some have tried to say that moral utterances are statements about the speaker's attitude, or perhaps moral utterances are manifestations of the speaker's attitude (a kind of venting of feeling, perhaps). As with the account of truth to which you appealed earlier, such ways of characterizing the meaning of moral statements enjoyed a vogue for some time, but as the result of their advocates' failure to respond to sustained criticism, the vast majority of both analytic and continental philosophy has rejected such approaches.

It is much more common nowadays for people who believe there are no moral facts to accept what is called an "error theory" about moral statements. The idea is that a correct analysis of the meaning of moral statements reveals that such statements really do assume that there are such things as moral facts, but we have independent reason to believe that in fact there are no such facts, and hence the task of analyzing moral discourse is the task of explaining why we make use of a way of communicating that is predicated on a falsehood. But as a matter of consistency, people who accept an error theory usually advocate abandoning moral language altogether as a holdover from a less enlightened era.

In short, I don't understand what you think you are doing when you say that certain abortions are morally abhorrent. Why not just say that they give you a bad feeling, the way seeing Japanese people eating sushi ice cream gives me a bad feeling? Why bring moral language into it, with the attendant implication that there are moral facts and that you are making a claim about the state of those moral facts?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:18 AM on June 2, 2006


"Why not just say that they give you a bad feeling,"

Since this is both accurate and allows me to communicate more precisely to you specifically, I will affirm that I've said that. Now you should be able to clearly understand what I'm saying.

However, most everyone else out here understands that this is what I mean when I say "morally repugnant to me." Most of us do not operate as you do semantically, in a somewhat rarefied atmosphere of philosophical thought.

You are correctly saying that I'm communicating in a colloquial and imprecise manner, but I live out here in the real world among real people. Since you're a very smart person, you do understand what I'm saying and the intent behind it, but you're having a bit of fun drawing out the conversation by micromanaging my use of the language.

That's dandy, but saying that some applications of abortion give me a bad feeling in no way negates anything I've said recently.

Let me set out some solid foundation evidence of why I am pro-contraception, it's pretty straightforward.

As I'm sure you're aware, any organism within a closed ecosystem which overpopulates that ecosystem and overshoots its resource base experiences a dramatic die-off of the overpopulation until an equilibrium is reached - assuming the ecosystem is still in a condition that will support that organism at an equilibrium level. That equilibrium level is usually 10% or less of the maximum population reached before the crash.

This is something that's been shown over and over again in laboratories and in the real world. I consider this to be a quantifiable and confirmable event or series of events.

In a human society that overshoots its resource base, the result is death, misery, disease, and brutal violence among those competing for the reduced resources, and total demoralization and dehumanization among the eventual survivors. There are no positive outcomes for humans in this situation.

While it's true that if humans were able to collectively come to a level of group understanding where the birth rate could be controlled without contraception - something like what you (p_T) might call a "moral" society, perhaps - then overpopulation and the effects thereof could be avoided. It sure would be wonderful if everyone were philosophers and cooperated with each other.

However in the real world this has not happened and is not likely to ever happen, no matter how hard we try (and it's certainly worth trying, every little bit helps). In reality, the world is full of relatively stubborn, selfish and ignorant people, a large portion of whom are pretty miserable, and who will do whatever makes them feel good without much self-governance or moderation. This includes sex, and the result is more and more and more people, most of whom continue to be miserable and pleasure-seeking.

Since I am not a religious person, I don't believe that humans are "special" as regards our place in this universe, even with our extraordinary consciousness and spirituality. I don't believe God is going to come save us from our sins, or deliver us to Paradise if we are virtuous, or somehow magically hand us the Cornucopia of limitless resources to support an ever-expanding population, if only we become Morally Upright Citizens.

I think we are going to have to deal with our problems on our own. In fact, my personal opinion is that this is precisely what God wants us to do (I do believe in God, you see) - grow up as a race and handle our problems, just like individual people need to do at some time in their lives.

I don't see any other effective way of dealing with this problem except education about sex and birth control, and effective methods of contraception (including NFP and abstinence) available to every person on Earth. I realize this is not a perfect system, but it has been shown to my satisfaction to work better than anything else.

To me this isn't a philosophical question; it's a matter of cold hard reality, based on observation of the real world, natural phenomena, and human characteristics.

In my opinion, a philosophy which unbendingly rejects contraception and the choice of abortion in the face of observed data on overpopulation - not to mention unequal distribution of resources - is a philosophy which will bring disaster to us all on an unprecented scale, here in the real world.

You should be glad, p_T, that the unequal distribution of resources has made America a place where you can spend a lot of time dancing in the fields of philosophical thought. You are living in a luxurious world compared to more than half the humans on this planet, who really don't have time to deal with anything that isn't right in their face.

The effects of too large a world population, and too unequal resource distribution, are now just starting to be noticeable here in the US. Most Americans don't realize that yet, even though some of the effects happen to them every day - although I'd say MeFites are much more aware than most.

Philosophy is great, but I advocate sticking to things that work in the real world. I do respect your position, but I consider it highly impractical - and yes, irrational, given the facts on the ground.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:13 AM on June 2, 2006


zoogleplex: However, most everyone else out here understands that this is what I mean when I say "morally repugnant to me."

No, that's really not true. A lot of philosophical work has been done on this question, and it's simply not true that the meaning of moral statements is translateable into statements about feelings. You are using moral language in ways that represent you as having beliefs about moral facts that you do not in fact have, because moral language presupposes that there are moral facts while you believe there are no moral facts. I believe that it hinders communication for you (and those who believe as you do) to continue to use moral language when you reject the presuppositions of that language. Seriously, there is a freaking huge body of philosophical literature on this topic. This isn't just me (or people who agree with me about moral questions) making this complaint. For the sake of clarity and transparency, I think you should (not morally should, but only for the sake of a non-moral goal, namely clarity) retract your claim that the abortions described in that article are morally repugnant.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:25 AM on June 2, 2006


Wow.
You guys are still here??
posted by Floydd at 11:34 AM on June 2, 2006


Well, that's fine, but I'm not going to.

"I believe that it hinders communication for you (and those who believe as you do) to continue to use moral language when you reject the presuppositions of that language."

It hinders my communication with you, plainly.

"Seriously, there is a freaking huge body of philosophical literature on this topic."

Of which the vast majority of humanity and Americans specifically are either unaware or uncaring. It doesn't affect how the rest of us communicate, for the most part.

"This isn't just me (or people who agree with me about moral questions) making this complaint."

I haven't seen anyone else in this thread complaining.

You are needlessly being a very specific kind of pedant. We disagree about the concept of "morals," and I'm not going to conform my view of "morals" to your own.

If you'll do me and the rest of us the courtesy of translating our much broader, colloquial, and non-philosophical use of the word "moral" into the appropriate definition in your head, we might get more discussion done.

You are not talking to philosophers in Plato's enclave here. You are talking to everyday people. The distinctions you make, while valid in your chosen sphere, are not useful for discussing real things.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:34 AM on June 2, 2006


Goin for 1500, Floydd. ;)

Or something like that.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:43 AM on June 2, 2006


zoogleplex, I'm really enjoying your recent comments. Very insightful and concise.
posted by agregoli at 12:05 PM on June 2, 2006


thx, agregoli. :)

I'm here all week, try the veal! BA DUMP BUMP!
posted by zoogleplex at 12:08 PM on June 2, 2006


Jeez, talk about sophistry. zoogleplex, I don't see why you're still humoring this guy.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:33 PM on June 2, 2006


I'm working on stuff that isn't really my job here at work. Not only am I bored and a bit miffed, our tool takes so long to build the stuff I'm working on that I have a lot of dead time.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:52 PM on June 2, 2006


Well, whatever floats your boat; it just seems to me that his crap semantical wrangling doesn't deserve to be dignified by your considerate replies at this point.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:57 PM on June 2, 2006


Incidentally, the Wikipedia entry on sophism is pretty interesting, and I find some irony there as regards this whole conversation.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:57 PM on June 2, 2006


The idea that the concept of truth is tied to a method of confirmation enjoyed a vogue for a time, but I think it's fair to say that for quite some time it has not been part of the mainstream of either analytic or continental philosophy. The concept of truth is one of the most-discussed in the history of philosophy, and I'm not prepared to take a stand on what theory of truth I endorse, but I do feel confident in saying that the account of truth to which you are appealing is one that has been been given quite a fair hearing and has failed to muster a compelling rejoinder to literally generations of criticism.

This makes me chuckle everytime I read it.
posted by Floydd at 2:03 PM on June 2, 2006


Yeah, apparently the scientific method is lost on modern philosophers, which is a shame since the ancient philosophers were the ones who developed it.

Technically though, our reality may be consensus based, assuming we all actually exist as separate conscious entities, or it may be solipsistic, in which case you are all figments of my imagination... and so on and so forth.

But still, I try to stick with things that are pretty concrete to me and the other people with whom I interact, who I choose to consider as separate valid conscious entities!
posted by zoogleplex at 2:15 PM on June 2, 2006


The Chewbacca Defense seems apropos.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:38 PM on June 2, 2006


More so with every PT reply, IMO.

Here's another silly bit of information: according to a researcher interviewed on Quirks and Quarks, a science program on CBC Radio, couples start off being happy, have kids, are less happy, the kids grow up and away, and the couple becomes happy again. Or, in other words, children are harmful to happiness.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:00 PM on June 2, 2006


zoogleplex: Of which the vast majority of humanity and Americans specifically are either unaware or uncaring. It doesn't affect how the rest of us communicate, for the most part.

But most people do believe in moral facts! So when you use moral language with such people, they naturally assume that you too believe in moral facts. Hence, your "communication" with them consists of statements you in your heart of hearts believe are false. I don't understand why you are willing to continue using moral language when you reject the moral ontology that is built into that language.

If there are deluded people who believe in unicorns or witches, it would seem to be really unhelpful to enter into disagreements with them about where exactly unicorns can be found or what are the best tests to reveal witches. Yet when you say that certain kinds of abortion are morally repugnant, you're doing much the same thing. Why not just be honest about it and say that in fact nothing is morally repugnant or morally praiseworthy, but that certain kinds of actions turn your stomach while other kinds of actions make you feel inspired, optimistic, etc...?

We didn't get rid of belief in witches or unicorns by putting forth a rival set of claims about witches and unicorns, but by systematically eschewing any reference to such entities except as figments of certain people's imaginations. So I'm still confused as to why you want to say that the abortions described in that article are morally repugnant.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:15 PM on June 2, 2006


I'm afraid that I can't help your confusion, though I have tried.

However, if you can forget about me using the words "morally repugnant" and focus on your correct interpretation that what I mean is it "gives me a bad feeling," perhaps the more substantive points of why I support contraception and sex education can be discussed?

"Why not just be honest about it and say that in fact nothing is morally repugnant or morally praiseworthy, but that certain kinds of actions turn your stomach while other kinds of actions make you feel inspired, optimistic, etc...?"

Consider that said, then, if it will advance the discussion past this point. It's an accurate description of where I'm coming from, within your frame of reference - an effective translation, if you will.

"If there are deluded people who believe in unicorns or witches, it would seem to be really unhelpful to enter into disagreements with them about where exactly unicorns can be found or what are the best tests to reveal witches."

This is indeed akin to arguing over whether Superman could beat Galactus in a fight, but that doesn't stop people from doing so. Of course, plenty of people still believe in witches and unicorns.

But that's not relevant to contraception and sex ed.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:13 PM on June 2, 2006


peeping_Thomist: certain kinds of actions turn your stomach while other kinds of actions make you feel inspired, optimistic, etc...

zoogleplex: Consider that said

Thanks.

zoogleplex: perhaps the more substantive points of why I support contraception and sex education can be discussed?

There simply are no substantive points to be discussed once you reject the underlying moral ontology assumed by moral language. So contraception (or the abortions described in that article, or whatever) produces in you certain feelings. Big hairy deal. Those feelings don't afford you impersonal reasons for action; the most they could do is give you a reason for action (assuming you think you always have reason to minimize unpleasant feelings and increase the intensity of pleasant feelings, which is hardly obvious), and perhaps the fact that a certain action produces in you a certain feeling could give someone else who had special reason to care about your feelings reason to act. But the notion of impersonal reasons for action simply evaporates once you stop using moral language (as you've graciously done).

You will no doubt want to argue that it is a "fact" that having a government promote contraception has this or that effect. But these consequences are brought about via intentional acts, acts of interpretation, in which human beings bring to bear on their situation their understanding of what the goods are that they are seeking in their actions. Until you're able to specify the conception shared by a certain population of the goods sought in human action, there is no way to formulate claims about the efficacy of contraceptive education in a way that is rigorous enough to compel assent.

To put it bluntly, if you deprive a population of the resources to think reasonably about how they find meaning in their lives (so that they can only utter banalities about how certain kinds of actions produce in them double-plus ungood feelings), it may well be true that contraceptive education can be shown to have certain kinds of effects on that population, but that does not address the question of whether it would be better to provide such a population with contraceptive education rather than to help provide them with resources for reflecting on the sources of meaning in their lives. As I have said repeatedly, I am a pluralist about such matters, and am eager to encourage people to find meaning in their lives through whatever kinds of communities of shared understanding will make that possible. But fragmenting people into isolated atoms (who think they have to "choose" to believe that anyone other than themselves actually exists) is a recipe for arbitrariness and violence of the sort found in the abortions described in that article.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:29 AM on June 3, 2006


The communication gap between us is far too wide to be bridged, at least by me. We're not even in the same universe, let alone on the same planet. Any further attempts by me to find a common ground for discussion would be absolutely futile.

You either look at the world in a very narrow and bizarre way, or you're just being a clever wordy trickster.

Either way, I'm more certain than ever that you are one of the most extreme narcissists I've ever seen in my life.

And with that, my contribution to this thread ends. Thanks everyone!
posted by zoogleplex at 10:47 AM on June 3, 2006


One has to respect peeping_Thomist's ingenuity, though. it takes a certain skill to defend the indefensible so tenaciously.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:57 AM on June 3, 2006


zoogleplex: We're not even in the same universe, let alone on the same planet.

Thanks for noticing. But what are the consequences of that insight? As I understand it, the question at issue is what kind of political arrangements are appropriate for people like you and I, who are moral strangers rather than moral friends. We do not share common ground, and yet we live in the same pluralistic society. Your idea that the appropriate response to pluralism is to short-circuit the discussion about what goods we seek in our actions and instead recognize the "fact" that contraceptive education has desirable consequences, and that those of us who refuse to agree with you are therefore irrational, would be risible if it were not so harmful.

You call me a narcissist, and yet you believe that other people outside you may not even exist, and that you have to "choose" to believe they exist. That is a clinical sign of mental illness. But our dispute doesn't have anything to do with narcissism or mental illness. It has to do with how moral strangers can arrange their affairs in a way that is just.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote contraception is unjust.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:03 AM on June 3, 2006


And thanks to you, zoogle. You were by far the most patient participant in this thread and expressed yourself well.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2006


Using the coercive power of the state to promote contraception is unjust.

I am fairly certain that should you really not want your children to receive a public sex education, you can choose to deny them that education. In the end, you are not at all coerced.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:10 AM on June 3, 2006


five_fresh_fish: in the end you are not at all coerced

No more than if the emperor required worship from his subjects but allowed for conscientious objectors to decline to pay him homage. The problem would still be that emperor-worship cannot be a just part of the governance of a pluralistic society, even if individuals are allowed to opt out of particular activities (while still paying their taxes, of course).
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:33 AM on June 3, 2006


Yeah, that's just a superb analogy.

fff, please don't egg him on anymore.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:58 AM on June 3, 2006


Ah dammit. I just can't let that last line go.

"Using the coercive power of the state to promote contraception is unjust."

If so, then the following statements follow:

Using the coercive power of the state to promote freedom of religion is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote freedom of the press is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote freedom of speech is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote equal rights for people with dark skin is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote equal rights for women is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote equal rights for different sexual orientations is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote health standards and disease control is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote clean air and water standards is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote healthy food production standards is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote safe transportation systems is unjust.

Using the coercive power of the state to promote laws against murder, rape, theivery and any other kind of crime, violent or otherwise, is unjust.

In fact, using the coercive power of the state to promote absolutely anything at all is unjust.

In your narrow bizarre little philosophical world, you have missed the entire point of about two thousand years of political thought and practice, and the entire point of the existence of the nation where you live that allows you to be the person you are - in fact it defines and enables your "pluralistic society," which never really had much chance to exist previous to the US Constitution. Perhaps you should consider moving somewhere else, since you seem unhappy with it and also rather ungrateful.

Well, we'll tolerate fringe elements like yourself anyway. Don't expect us to be nice to you, however.

So, my final response to: "Using the coercive power of the state to promote contraception is unjust." is:

Tough.

I'll take our thoroughly unjust system, thanks.

Now I'm really outa here. Later!
posted by zoogleplex at 12:04 PM on June 3, 2006


zoogleplex: So, my final response to: "Using the coercive power of the state to promote contraception is unjust." is: Tough.

So might makes right. Why didn't you say so earlier?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:13 PM on June 3, 2006


Ugh, you're embarassing.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:02 PM on June 3, 2006


No one seems to like my idea of having different public schools catering to different ethical identities. What would you think of having a modified version of that: public schools in which students are allowed to encounter full-blown versions of the different ethical identities that make up their society. Instead of teaching students that "such and such people" think "so and so" about a certain controversial topic, allow representatives from the communities that represent those different ethical identities to present and discuss their views in their full setting, not stripped down so as to be homegenous with the other offerings. I could envision students visiting mosques for worship services, receiving altar calls at Baptist events, or discussing Daniel Dennett's latest book at a Skeptic Society meeting.

The reason I mention this is that I'm concerned that students in public schools aren't provided with the resources for dealing with the many different substantive conceptions of rationality that exist in our society, and hence they tend to reel between various forms of fundamentalism espoused by people like Pat Robertson and James Randi.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:02 PM on June 3, 2006




five_fresh_fish, I wish I read Yiddish so I could tell whether that article came across as shrill propaganda only in English. Oy vey!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:16 PM on June 3, 2006


What would you think of having a modified version of that: public schools in which students are allowed to encounter full-blown versions of the different ethical identities that make up their society.

I'd all for that.
As long as we gave everybody a pony, too.
posted by Floydd at 8:25 AM on June 5, 2006


Schools don't have the money to teach things like MATH effectively - learning about different "ethical identities" is terribly low on the spectrum of education.
posted by agregoli at 9:24 AM on June 5, 2006


agregoli: Schools don't have the money to teach things like MATH effectively

That's not a money problem, honey.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:05 AM on June 5, 2006


More and more parents return their defective children: Autism's Parent Trap. As the FPP links point out, once you accept contraception, you fundamentally change your attitude toward your own children. You begin to treat them in ways that only make sense if children are consumer items. And when they don't measure up, you kill them.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:11 AM on June 5, 2006


More and more parents return their defective children: Autism's Parent Trap. As the FPP links point out, once you accept contraception, you fundamentally change your attitude toward your own children. You begin to treat them in ways that only make sense if children are consumer items. And when they don't measure up, you kill them.

Yes, infanticide is a recent invention, and it's all the fault of consumerism.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:17 AM on June 5, 2006


agregoli: Schools don't have the money to teach things like MATH effectively

That's not a money problem, honey.


Please refrain from calling me any kind of pet name. It disgusts me.

Yes, there is a tremendous money problem in a lot of schools when they are cutting extracurricular activities like crazy.

And yes, math is one subject that most certainly isn't being taught effectively in all of our schools, considering the gender gap in the maths and sciences, for one indicator.
posted by agregoli at 10:43 AM on June 5, 2006


As the FPP links point out, once you accept contraception, you fundamentally change your attitude toward your own children.

My attitude didn't change by accepting contraception - if I didn't have pills, I'd feel the same way about getting pregnant - I don't want to, and I don't want kids. I am horrified at the idea of being pregnant and having a child. I won't do it. If I was born at a time when I couldn't control my fertility and got pregnant, I'd probably go insane and disembowel myself at the first movement of baby. If someone forced me to go through with a pregnancy, I might kill myself.

That might sound extreme to some, but I'm trying to illustrate how much I don't want kids. Contraception is a blessing for me.

You begin to treat them in ways that only make sense if children are consumer items. And when they don't measure up, you kill them.

People have been treating their kids poorly for ages upon ages - contraception isn't the cause of that. Children used to be much more a consumer product back in the day - need farmhands, anyone?

Glad to see your posts are getting wilder again though.
posted by agregoli at 10:47 AM on June 5, 2006


You know, this thread is starting to remind me of something horrible...

Every post, including mine, is turning into something akin to:

Malkovich malkovich malkovich. Malkovich! Malkovich, malkovich.
posted by agregoli at 2:50 PM on June 5, 2006


Optimus_Chyme, both infanticide and contraception have been around forever. Historically, the rejection of infanticide was linked to the rejection of contraception.

In our own culture, the taboo rule against abortion fell soon after the taboo rule against contraception. The taboo rule against infanticide is still around, but I'd be (pleasantly) surprised if it lasted very long.

Seriously, why shouldn't people be allowed to kill their unwanted children? I've read feminist philosophers who've argued that women not only have a right to terminate, via abortion, their support for a child, but also have the right to a dead baby (supposing a feasible artificial womb were invented and the child could be saved at no cost in money or discomfort to the mother), in order to exercise control over their reproductive legacy. Why the hell not?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:25 PM on June 5, 2006


yet when I heard him cry again,
his voice seemed emptied of that sense
or any other

- Howard Nemerov
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 PM on June 5, 2006


I've read feminist philosophers who've argued that women not only have a right to terminate, via abortion, their support for a child, but also have the right to a dead baby (supposing a feasible artificial womb were invented and the child could be saved at no cost in money or discomfort to the mother), in order to exercise control over their reproductive legacy.

that's fantastic but i have no fucking idea what you're talking about; i can't even begin to parse that

seriously i want you to reread your words and take some notes because you are becoming increasingly nonsensical
posted by