27 November, 2005

We Shall Forgive Him His Commenters: For They Know Not What They Say.

Hat tip to Pharyngula for this sprinkling of spice.

Perhaps there is little point to this post as so few people take him seriously, a condition I share wholeheartedly with him: we are brothers in mediocrity, if little else. But sometimes the man seems to intentionally try to personally reach me, his sexist slurs beckoning, his delightfully prickly prose teasing with my sense of propriety. One should not pretend such attentions go unheeded, even in the polite company of fellows which is the Internet.

Vox Popoli is not only ignorant of
Latin, but of the concepts of justice, crime, immorality, moral relativism and rape. The bold sections will be quotations from Vox unless stated otherwise.

I will begin by suggesting that I find the implications of this argument (Vox's paraphrase of Camille Paglia):

...a woman who gets drunk and goes to a man's bedroom deserves no more sympathy or understanding from society than the man who leaves his unlocked car running with the key in the ignition or the woman who leaves her purse unattended on a public park bench.

Rather more indicative of the kind of reasoning which feminists are usually ascribed by those opposed to and ignorant of feminism. Are all men obviously potential rapists and women 'stupid' for trusting any of them at times of personal vulnerability? Is Vox Day, in short, a shrieking,
anti male feminazi?

I agree with the notion that people can engage in risky behaviour and that there is the potential for someone to take advantage of it. I do think that we should take better care of ourselves and that we have some responsibility for our own well being, as Vox does. I am pleased that he does not think this removes the culpability of the person who takes advantage one iota.

However, I think it is ridiculous to suggest that this somehow means that the victim of malfeasance is undeserving of pity or sympathy. There are ways to minimise the risk to one's self, but to what extent we should protect ourselves is rarely blatant or clear cut. Should we all avoid going outside at all for fear of rape or sexual assault, obtain a rape alarm, learn self
defense? Do we refrain from placing trust in friends of ours whose sexual orientation would suggest us as possible sexual partners, and therefore possible rape victims, as Paglia and Vox outright argue?

Whether a given action is a 'stupid' risk or one of the thousand ordinary ones we take daily is generally far more obvious with hindsight, and rather more difficult to uncover through the filter of inebriation. I find it incredibly difficult to condemn an individual for trusting another human being to refrain from bloody raping them, particularly if the individual is one they know fairly well, as is the case with date rape. The assumption of no
rape should be a reasonable one, even in the dark and sinister world of a woman flirting with a man.

(I use the term "genuine rape" because most so-called "date rape" is not rape nor a crime of any kind, because he said-she said is no basis for a system of justice.

It occurs to my refined and powerful legal mind that a crime is not ameliorated, and sex is not magically rendered consensual, by the difficulty it takes to prove that such an act happened in court.

If sex without written permission is a crime...

Personally I would be happy with the coherent, informed permission from an individual of sound mind and legal age (as would most other teenagers, I am sure.) Vox's feminist reading (and reading of the act in question) may be somewhat more expansive than mine though, so perhaps it is my expectations as to what constitutes consensual sex which are the ridiculous straw man. Furthermore this is a bizarre complaint of Vox's given his adversity to 'he said-she said' systems of justice.

Women have demanded freedom from paternalistic protection they enjoyed/endured in the past. Now they've got it, and many of them are finding that they don't like it and thus have, as usual, turned to the State in search of the security they crave so badly.

Vox seems to blame womens' past 'freedom from paternalistic protection' at least in part for rape. The sheer depth of evidence he presents may threaten to cause you - as it did me - to actually accept that he was making a reasonable point, a horrifying prospect to be rejected a priori. The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests that violent crime rates, including sexual assault and rape specifically, have been on the decline in America for decades (with only murder remaining higher than UK rates, incidentally.) Does this mean that Vox's argument must be turned on its head? That it is the
rejection of paternalistic protection which has led to a decline in sexual assault? Should we then thank the state for doing a better job of protecting women than the well-defined, almost scientific methodology of 'paternalistic protection'?

Alas for my figure, I am not Vox Popoli.
I do not even know the meaning of the term Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, let alone have the ability to practise it.

I'm just curious what basis the moral relativists have for condemning rape in the first place. If I deem the slaking of my desire for lust - or violence, if you prefer that theory of rape - to be an intrinsic good, who are you to condemn it? Certainly, one could argue that it is a violation of private property rights, but then, what of those moral relativists who reject the notion of private property. If all property is held in common, then how can a woman object if I decide to make use of that which belongs to me?

The fact that one individual (or even many individuals,) find rape acceptable need not change one's own sense of ethics. Moral relativism simply means that one recognises that morality is not an intrinsic universal reality but a concept constructed by humans. This means that a moral relativist does not need to necessarily refrain from judging the actions or ethics of others at all. Vox is attacking a very specific kind of relativist, one who wouldn't attempt to impose their own sense of ethics on anyone anyway. This is the rough philisophical equivalent of attacking the terrifyingly imposing bloc of the Amish in response to environmentalist pressure.

Moreover, one's own ethical construct is the reference from which we make judgments anyway, whether we are absolutist, relativist, or couldn't give a damn about ridiculous metaphysics. Ist. I do not know whether there is an objective morality: I am entirely unaware of any empirical research affirming the reality of absolutist morality, and certainly know of no way of finding out what it actually is. Unless God really is the prankster creationists judge Him to be, neither does Vox. What I know for a fact is that humans' concepts of ethics differ wildly and the ones they express probably are their personal constructs, based as they may be on the culture or tradition of their communities. It is these constructs - our own and others - that we must deal with on a daily basis.

-The Rev. Schmitt.


Anonymous said...

"(I use the term "genuine rape" because most so-called "date rape" is not rape nor a crime of any kind, because he said-she said is no basis for a system of justice."

I don't know about Vox...if I go out on a date...its ok for the guy to rape me?

Anonymous said...

"date rape" is a case of buyer's remorse? I hope to God that his little girl is never taken out, has something slipped into her drink, or has her boyfriend park next to a tree so she can't get out of the car and violates her. Will he remember this post he came out with in his ignorant, youthful, ignorance?