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Read this.
April 2, 2001 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Read this. No, really. It's worth your time.
posted by baylink (14 comments total)

 
Why does anyone who thinks something is important decide that it's a right?

Rights are very special things - they give people the chance do to do wrong (having a right to do something that is good is pointless - no-one will stop you anyway).

Free speech and life are the two fundamentals. IMHO the UN has already stretched things too far; adding pleasure (for goodness sake!) is turning something important into a joke...

I'm not saying that the arguments in that article aren't correct or sensible, but claiming yet another right weakens something we should keep strong.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:24 PM on April 2, 2001


Free speech and life are the two fundamentals

Says who? The American Declaration of Independence says our "unalienable" rights are "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", which sounds to me like it includes pleasure but doesn't even mention "free speech".

Just for comparison's sake, here's a link to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which does mention free speech, but not until Article 19.
posted by briank at 1:46 PM on April 2, 2001


It says the "pursuit" of happiness, not pleasure. You can try to get it, but you might not.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:59 PM on April 2, 2001


Oh my GOD! That is the first cross reference to perhaps my favorite passage out of my favorite book by my all time favorite author! I have searched high and low, the internet at least, for reference on Prescott and his stated study. Thank you for that link. At this distant date from Cosmos' publishing and Prescott's study, I thought the whole issue was relegated to obscurity and distrust of 1970's "feelgood" science, sociology and psychology.
posted by crasspastor at 2:01 PM on April 2, 2001


Of course all that searching was before Google. Jeez. It's just been awhile since I'd thought about it.
posted by crasspastor at 2:09 PM on April 2, 2001


Indeed, Cosmos' is an excellent book. It's been a long time for me too since I've read from it (only remember Broca's Brain at this point)

I suppose pleasure's a good thing to protect. I'm never too fond of the 'hangover effect' (pain) that directly follows. As many pointed out on K5, it's that pain, or forseeable consequence, that makes us dissatisfied with the social contracts we have learned to accept from birth. On the other hand, it is the pleasure in itself (or lack thereof) that is found in the many roots of social discourse and violent acts. We covet what we cannot have, or separate from society due to the private nature of pleasure seeking, and condemn those that deviate from what is acceptable.

Unlike free speech, I think pleasure seeking is by far, a more personal right, and deserves the same treatment as privacy...unless the acts deviate from what is acceptable by law. And I only mean that for the sake of law itself as it is useful in curbing social discourse.
posted by samsara at 2:37 PM on April 2, 2001


Tis true, I never looked at it as legally implementable social change myself. And still don't. I really don't know where they're going with that one. More of a moving sermon on humanity--if you dare to care, I suppose.
posted by crasspastor at 2:54 PM on April 2, 2001


I hate that summary. Convince me, seduce me, make me WANT to read the article. Telling me it's for my own good just makes me feel ornery and uncooperative.

That said, I read this article before I saw it on metafilter, so I can pontificate anyway without sacrificing my contrarian principles.

Basically, I think talk about "rights" is somewhat pointless. "Rights" are arbitrary phantoms. One can argue forever about what should constitute a "right"; it's basically just a pragmatic decision wrapped up in the language of morality and absolutes. Underneath the fluff, the question is, what rights do we need to protect in order to have a functioning society? And that is a question about human needs. So let's stop talking about rights, which can be any arbitrary collection of privileges we choose, and talk about the reasons for picking them. What is it that human beings need in order to live happy, harmonious lives?

It's focus on Rights and Wrongs and Oughts and Shoulds that got us into the mess the writer is complaining about. More focus on those things is not going to get us anywhere.

That is the message I get from this article. The author is using the currently fashionable language of law and rights, most likely because his audience is used to thinking in those terms, but what he's really calling for is a decoupling of pleasure and morality - a recognition that people want to have sex, and that a society which prevents people from getting what they want destabilizes itself.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:07 PM on April 2, 2001


go Mars.
posted by th3ph17 at 4:16 PM on April 2, 2001


The author is using the currently fashionable language of law and rights, most likely because his audience is used to thinking in those terms, but what he's really calling for is a decoupling of pleasure and morality

the author is not calling for a decoupling of pleasure from morality; that would be implying that pleasure is immoral, which would taint his entire argument.


And that is a question about human needs. So let's stop talking about rights

focusing on human needs instead of rights will get us nowhere. if I need a drug, but it's illegal for me to acquire it, what good is my need when it is not a right?

he discusses needs, but the point of it all is to change our rights: "Turning [the work by Dr. Prescott and his colleagues] into political action may be the only way to prevent humanity from falling back into a new Dark Age of irrationalism and violence... We -- the few people behind the site, including Dr. Prescott -- need volunteers."


while the pictures of abused children on the second page of Prescott's Hustler article are extremely disturbing, I don't think his idea of what is essentially pedophilia should be legal. sexual abuse would replace physical abuse. why can't we all just hug each other?
posted by register at 6:07 PM on April 2, 2001


register:

You're apparently using "rights" to mean "actions for which one will not be prosecuted", as in the following:

focusing on human needs instead of rights will get us nowhere. if I need a drug, but it's illegal for me to acquire it, what good is my need when it is not a right?

Perhaps it's living in America and talking with lots of Americans, but when I hear "rights" I think of something a bit more substantial - things that are so fundamental, so important, that they are not only legal but protected. It's something that society is obliged not merely to allow, but to enable.

My point is, talking about rights suggests the question: "should there be a right to take drug $foo"? I think the resulting discussion does not help us very much, and that what we should be asking instead is "Does drug $foo fill some human need?" The latter is an easier question to answer, as it is amenable to research. Yes, of course we need to do something about it after we find the answer, and if you want to call "what needs doing" by the name "rights", then we're in agreement on all but the choice of words.

the author is not calling for a decoupling of pleasure from morality; that would be implying that pleasure is immoral, which would taint his entire argument.

Care to expand on this? I don't understand how your argument works.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:23 PM on April 2, 2001


You're apparently using "rights" to mean "actions for which one will not be prosecuted"

yes.


what we should be asking instead is "Does drug $foo fill some human need?"

I see what you're saying now; in that scenario, it would make more sense to discuss needs than rights. I thought you were asking if we need $foo instead of why we need $foo. knowing why we need $foo makes for more effective political action.


Care to expand on this? I don't understand how your argument works.

I picture the decoupling of pleasure from morality as being something like "we know it's wrong, but it's for the greater good!" as in sex with minors is morally wrong, but it pleases us and it deters violence, so its morality is insignificant.


if you want to call "what needs doing" by the name "rights", then we're in agreement on all but the choice of words.

I have a feeling that we're in agreement. it is an interesting article, and your original comment got me to read it, so thank you!
posted by register at 6:44 PM on April 2, 2001


Free speech and life are the two fundamentals

Says who?

Says no-one, without them.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:13 AM on April 3, 2001


Oooooooh
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:03 AM on April 3, 2001


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