On Morality

From a recent conversation on Yahoo Message Boards.
(I did some minor editing for clarity and grammar. Red denotes my correspondent's comments.)

"What about the pedophile? It is appropriate for us to condemn his predatory behavior even though he is probably hard-wired to be that way."
They are RAISED that way. Someone did something similar to them. Point to any case and this is in evidence. I have never read of one where it is not.

Not all people who are molested or raped as children act out in similar fashion; even though they may crave to do so. Part of healing from such abuse is accepting what it did to one's mind and learning how to control one's actual behavior.

"This "ear" business (having an "ear" for new languages) is how their brain is. Are they nevertheless not to be pushed to learn English if they want to live in America?"
Highly recommended is learning the native language of the country in which you live (Yoda-ic eh? ;-}) If they can get by w/o it, good for them. A functional point is that I see no problem with a municipality posting official signage in multiple languages in areas which are meant to help such folk integrate into their new society. These might include Airports, Immigration Depts and Motor Vehicle Depts; at least in Metro areas that have large immigrant populations. As you say, adapting to a new language ain't just as easy for everyone.

Of course, if those metros don't want immigrants, leaving out the signage ain't likely to discourage such people. It'll mostly just make headaches for the populace at large.

"I am not suggesting we judge anyone."
LOL! I most certainly am! Of course that has nothing to do with Prejudging anyone. To live is to judge.

"... but people are what their natures are--and their natures are a complex mix of inheritance, culture, spirit, and life experiences--little of which is "chosen."
People have their natures with which to decide who they are. I am Financially iresponsible by nature. There are no laws to protect my kind from a society that demands responsibilty in Financial matters. I pay the extra price on everything it seems. This is, I can scientifically assure you, an emotional issue. I have been "judged" accordingly and must correct this ineptitude myself (there is help as well but, tada!, it COSTS MONEY!!! LOL!)

I say "by my nature" but of course it was by environment as well. My brain seems "wired" for an aptitude with words and broad concepts. My difficulties are with the specificity and exactitude (precision + accuracy) of mathematical proofs. My parents exhibit the same nutterdumb and dutifully passed it on. Kinda sucks that. The emotional factor is HUGE as is evidenced by the fact that my Dad is an exemplary manager of others' money. He has a rational mind for managing the stuff when it is not his own; ie, when he has no personal attachment to how it is spent.

This is why I've gotten Tutors for my s-daughter who is similarly constructed. I don't shame her when I correct her math errors. I laugh with her alot and I judge her gently unless her actions need immediate and emphatic (NEVER violent!) correction and then I reiterate my reasons after all emotions have mellowed. I also find it extremely helpful to get her to talk about why she did what she did. If I know that I can even better help her resolve her difficulties. WE can communicate more effectively and avoid the otherwise inevitable angry confrontations. I've learned that knowing why we do things can help us do something else or something better in the future (wasn't that one of those sideways lessons taught in kindergarten?)

She's a child for whom I am responsible. She deserves my "sweating the small stuff" and my dealing with MY discomfort when she screws up. If my dad had tried that philosophy I'd be a tremendously different person today. He was (and is) a great guy who simply was terrible at dealing with his kids. I intend to be what I'd like to be someday anyhow. It's just a hell of a lot harder internalizing new ideas about habitual behaviours as an adult than it is as a kid. And it is hard enough for them!

To your last point: Yah, morality is "kind of" relative. EVERYthing is relative as a matter of fact. It's pretty stable as far as relativity goes though. Religions have that idea right. They simply have based much of their concepts on false or outmoded premises (do you notice a basic theme in my thinkin' about religion?). Religion evolved before technology because there was always a need for our species to "know" or understand and we can do alot with our brains alone.

When we started adding to our ability to manipulate nature on ever finer levels, certain facts became apparent that religion could not foresee or explain. It is nearing the time to let Religion go because the scientific method exists now and is obviously, yes I do mean obviously, a much better tool for determining Right from Wrong.


  1. Goodness, all the intellectual heat, the rhetoric, ...

  2. Moral relativism is what has given us so many problems. There must be an objective morality, a guidepost for everyone to judge their own behavior against. Otherwise, we have a 'if it feels good, do it' culture, and that's what we have, and that's why corrupters (read: purveyors of immorality) of society exist, like Howard Stern get paid handsomely. They are in league with the AntiChrist.

  3. I like your rebuttals to the whiners from Yahoo. Nice work!

    As for moral relativism - in the other comment - this is the dilemma that plagues a society and a species in which free independent thought is a characteristic of every member. You can choose to ignore your ability to think, or you can embrace it. You can believe everything you read, or you can challenge the ideas. To a certain degree, there is some objective moralilty: we condemn the physical harm of other people, and we ask that individuals conduct them in a manner befitting what they would expect from someone else. But to condemn everything that comes out of a "if it feels good, do it" is of no use either.

    Relativity is important: what plays in Peoria may not play in Phenom Penh, or Paris, or Punjab. But no matter where you go, you see that people aren't as different as you think. They all want what's best for their family, they all love their children, they all enjoy the company of their friends. These basics are always there; the variances come when you try to blanket a society with one group's ideas about morals - and in our society of free thought, you can't do that. There is an objective morality in everyone; that's our basic humanity. Religion attempts to expand that homogenity, secularism exands in other directions. Both sides need to learn to live with the other.

  4. I like your rebuttals to the whiners from Yahoo.

    The particular whiner seems very much to be an obsessive oppositionalist! (I love new words...) No matter what the post, he finds fault. I should post his reply because I've been "all bent outta shape" over it on & off since reading it. THAT is why I've not posted I suppose. I still succumb to such nutterdumb, especially when it comes from one who is actually quite astute and knowledgeable but uses those merits against his correspondents instead of looking for common ground.

    I point out his value because I wanted to reply that the "abusers were abused" argument that I used is supported by fact and research. The few books I've read are not handy and Google was surprisingly limited in supporting either side of that debate. Weird... If I'm wrong I really want to know, ya know?

    "Religion attempts to expand that homogenity, secularism (expands) in other directions. Both sides need to learn to live with the other."

    Anon is a co-worker who likes to yank my chain. I can't tell if he believes anything he says or writes. I think he kind of does... Regardless, your rebuttal is beautiful. Thank you.

    From the quoted piece above, I think you might just enjoy another blog via Blogspot. A Spiritual Diablog. It's host carries on quite a lively conversation with a variety of contributors.

  5. Hi MB -

    Pedophilia is a tough one. I think the initial gut reaction of most adults is outrage because of the obvious disparity in power and knowledge of the perpetrators/victims. Pedophiles tend to be villified in the public mind.

    The view I eventually came around to is based on a 23 year career counseling elementary kids that ended a couple years ago. So I had to call in my share of child abuse reports, and have been pretty cognizant of the subject of pedophilia.

    As an aside - can't help reverting briefly to the old counselor routine - a lot of people don't seem to be aware of the basic facts about reports of child abuse that come from the public schools.

    Schools are federally mandated reporters. If the school suspects abuse and doesn't report it, staffers are in legal jeapordy. Believe me, schools have a lot of fun working with that word, "suspect," which, unfortunately, is the actual word used in the legal language.

    Which is one reason the decision to report is never taken by one staffer alone. It's typically the principal, the counselor, and often the school nurse. And the information about the situation often originates with another staffer - a teacher or aide who the child happened to disclose to.

    Schools recognize this job has to be done, but everybody hates doing it. So when parents take a report personally, and imagine that an overzealous counselor, principal, or teacher called it in - well, in 23 years I never met anyone who was overzealous. Nobody in the schools took on this part of the job as a career choice. It isn't why anybody goes into public education, even though it's obvious that we happen to be well situated to recognize abuse situations, which, of course, is why the government mandates the reporting.

    Anyway, pedophiles are notoriously difficult to "treat." My conclusion: pedophilia is their sexual orientation. I don't mean by that to equate it with sexual orientations that don't harm others. But I think sexual orientation is what we're dealing with.

    While protecting kids is paramount, I don't think villification of pedophiles, once we get beyond the initial revulsion/anger, makes any real sense. Imagine what a difficult time most of us would have if contact with adults of the opposite sex were outlawed.

    The sex drive is tough to suppress - and that's the challenge faced by pedophiles who want to reform. Becoming a non-practising pedophile should absolutely be their goal, and society has it in its interest to see to it that they are "non-practising." But is isn't an easy thing.

    Also, I did come to know one pedophile well enough to see that this was a man who had any number of truly admirable qualities in other areas of his life. It's just not the case that the guy was simply a monster, even though he was sexually out of control and doing things horrible to contemplate. Makes you wish life were a lot simpler.


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