« Coffee Snorters: Crime And Punishment Edition | Main | Maridise Lost »

January 23, 2008

An Interesting Dilemma

Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a Soul?

- John Keats

Ymarsakar pointed me to a post in which Bookworm poses a parenting question:

We just discovered that one of my daughter’s “best” friends has been lying about her computer use to her parents. She tells them that she’s going to an approved kid website, such as Club Penguin, and then, when they’re not looking, goes surfing for sex sites. (Did I mention that she’s ten?) My daughter, bless her heart, told us what’s going on, because she was made very uncomfortable when shown a website with “naked people.”

...Here’s the issue: I think I should tell the girl’s parents. My daughter is, of course, worried that her friend will figure out that she is the source — even if the parents claim to have discovered the problem through browsing the computer’s history. I appreciate my daughter’s concern, and I certainly don’t want to turn her into a social pariah, but I still find unnerving the thought of a child, too clever by half, wandering around alone in the big, ugly world of the internet. Do you think I’m right to want to tell the parents? And if you do think I’m right, how would you broach the subject? Should I recommend to the parents a strategy (such as saying that they discovered the problem by checking the computer’s history), so that my daughter doesn’t get nailed as the stool pigeon? Or do I just reveal the problem and hope that the parents don’t disclose my daughter’s identity?

I found the post interesting for two reasons. The first was that, as this new father just realized to his dismay, it is almost impossible to protect children from pornography in today's culture. I've been told, often in my own comments section, "Oh, that's not a problem - we have filters on our computers and I monitor my children's activities." That is, not to put too fine a point on it, utter nonsense. As children grow older, they spend less and less time with their parents. Their circle of acquaintances grows wider and they are gradually allowed more freedom: the freedom to go to public libraries, the houses of new friends they meet at school, sleepovers - all places over which parents have no control. And the problem is not likely to get better. With the advent of smart phones, cable TV, cell phones, and iPods, porn (and unfortunately the seamy world of Internet predators) has become more accessible and more portable than ever. How many parents stop to think, when they provide their child with a cell phone, of the implications of some of those bells and whistles - cameras, internet access, and text messaging?

It's a new market for the adult video industry: surfing the web from cell phones. Experts predict sales for pornography will jump from a half-billion dollars in 2004 to $2.5 billion in 2009.

And many of the viewers are underage teens, often getting samples for free, or finding it marketed by porn stars on the website we so often hear about.

And kids aren't just watching pornography on their cell phones, they're using cell phones to make their own.

I know I wouldn't have when my boys were growing up. Such things weren't even on my radar screen. But any parent who hasn't been sleepwalking through their children's formative years quickly realizes that normal, healthy children are active and curious, and the trouble they can't get into hasn't been invented yet.

The problem with the Internet, cable and mobile communications is that they bring the outside world - with all its attendant dangers and temptations - right into our homes. They put it into your child's backpack. They make it impossible for you to exert any real parental control over what your child sees or hears, who your child talks to when you're not around; because it's no longer a case of just monitoring the devices your child owns.

It's a case of monitoring every PC, cell phone, cable channel, or iPod owned by every one of their friends. This is why arguing that it's up to parents to monitor their child's exposure to the objectionable material so they don't infringe on the freedom of consenting adults makes so little sense. That argument has been overcome by events: modern technology has rendered good faith efforts to mind our own business effectively impossible. Even if we want to look the other way, pop up ads, increasingly explicit advertising, and spam ensure that is no longer an option:

My point was more that the line between private and public is blurring more and more due to multimedia like the Internet. Things that were truly of a more limited effect are now more pervasive ... and so you are seeing people want to limit them whereas before maybe they wouldn't have cared, because it truly didn't touch them. It's the same phenomenon as what happens when areas get more crowded. No one cares when people live far apart. It's when your next door neighbor is blaring loud music and you can't escape it that it bothers you, not when he lives 2 miles away and you never hear it.

The question is, can you get away from what he is doing, or is he ramming it (so to speak) down your throat?

This is an interesting side effect of the demand for unbridled liberty. As adults have demanded more and more freedom to do, watch, and say what they please where and when they please, they have eroded the best argument for preserving that very freedom: that their behavior was essentially private and affected no one but themselves.

However gripping the whole porn aspect may be (or not :p), ironically that was not my main interest in Bookworm's post. The other question I found of interest was her entirely natural desire to shield the Little Bookworm from the unpleasant consequences of alerting the other girl's parents to her sex surfing ways.

I've often commented, though none of this is to be attributed to the Bookworm, whom I don't know well enough to begin to draw into this, on how differently modern parents seem to regard their duties with regard to preparing children to withstand the hard knocks of life. Increasingly, one sees in the media and coming from the lips of parents who seek to maximize pleasure and minimize discomfort in their own lives, a disturbing (to me at least) belief that it is good for children to make their lives as smooth and easy as possible; that pain, loneliness, and discomfort are to be avoided like the plague; that children are fragile flowers who will crumple up and expire if we don't grant them their every wish, clear away every obstacle in their path.

The folly of that approach is well refuted by this rather long essay in praise of melancholy. It often struck me, in raising two sons, that previous generations actively sought out challenges and ordeals for young men. Such trials, though often painful and dangerous, gave growing boys a chance to test themselves, to learn from adversity, to realize that suffering, fear, and hardship can be overmastered. They were a great 'test run' for that larger adventure called life, in which the way is decidedly un-smooth; they gave children the chance to develop inner resources against the slings and arrows fate would certainly toss their way later in life.

And all this was done while still under the protection of loving adults. But the lesson was clear; some dangers had to be faced head on and a child who was too weak to do so while still under the protection of his family was ill equipped to enter the often fractious world of adults alone and unprotected.

Today's world is less dangerous, at least on the outside, yet in an interconnected world, tests of character are perhaps more prevalent - and important - than they were for our forebears. And yet our current culture of squishy moral relativism, unthinking tolerance and PC squeamishness, and rampant multiculturalism make the adult who stands on principle more the exception than the rule: he is 'thrusting his beliefs onto others' rather than remaining true to his own conscience.

So, how to teach a child to know (and do) the right thing in an oft-confusing world?

Posted by Cassandra at January 23, 2008 08:09 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1950

Comments

I am a menial toiling under these two blog mistresses, Bookworm and Cass. Woe is me...

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 23, 2008 09:48 AM

All snark aside, I am the Parent Nazi and even I,
omnipotent and all seeing, have been blindsided.

I don't have filters or netNanny and yet, just
like with a toddler, all you have to do is turn
your back for a second.

The reason I DON'T have 'cyber help' in this regard is because in teaching children, they
will not always have that safety net of mom and
dad. They will have to learn the danger signs
and avoid them on their own after they have been
taught correct principles by precept and example.

We call that being smart and having common sense.

Which is why the laptop is NEVER in our room; it is on the kitchen table. Right now, two children
are finishing up their breakfast and the teenager
is sewing up replacement pockets for his jeans.
Yeah, I teach my boys home ec. Get over it.

The children can see where I go; what I do and
with whom I interact while on line.

We have had brief chats about 'bad people' and
good behavior online.

I would expect a parent to tell me. The flip side to that, as a parent, is that you take what
people tell you about your children with a grain
of salt and give your kids the benefit of the doubt but see if there is anything to the allegations beyond perception.

I would tell.

Period. Browsing history aside, what if someone
else told the parent or worse still, got social
services involved? Some things can be nipped in the bud. Internet porn can be one of them.

It is a sensitive issue, but being direct as to the dangers out there is the best approach.

What the child does after the legal age is up to the child. The law considers him or her an adult
and able to take the consequences. However, the
privacy that is so highly regarded comes at the price of someone else: child porn, exploitation
of women, and ultimately, a marriage or a relation
ship.

Transient pleasure isn't worth it.

As to montitoring, my sons' friends have iPod
garbage that would curl your hair. He has told
us, and we have laid down the law: What his friends do with their iPod or handheld is the concern of his friends' parents and to refuse
if they hand it to him to see something. He can't trust them, you see, and he prefers to
not have that garbage in his head. I have to trust him to do the right thing. He KNOWS the
right thing.

This is a young man who refuses to date until he
is 18, doesn't like girls calling him and will
only go to dances or group activities.

I am proud to say that his friends complain that
they have to behave like gentlmen around him, no
cussing or kissing and telling. He just won't stand for it. And he is popular, for all that,
because the girls just love him...he treats them
all like ladies, regardless of how they behave.

And I can't take any credit for that; his dad
is the same way.


Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2008 09:55 AM

I mark a difference between what I want to do and what curiosity and outside/internal forces want me to do. People that are obsessed with sex or turn their head just because they hear the sound of a high heel clicking on the floor, are not really all that independent. They are closer to the animal, that can be put down by the state when it deems you are a threat, than to a human being with free will.

In the end, deciding to see porn or watch what your friends are watching is not just a societal peer issue, but a question of how strong you want to be in mind and spirit.

There was a story I heard in France a few years ago, after or during the Muslim riots, about how a Jewish kid went to a social setting, saw a girl who came over to chat with him, and left with her. He, the Jewish kid, ended up being dead cause she was bait for hardcore Islamist youths.

My response? What do you expect when you become so weak a girl can lead you to your death and you go willingly? As one of my peers once asked me, "what would you do if a beautiful girl was waiting on your bed, naked, that you've never seen before"? My instinctual response was to say that I would check my back for assassins, but of course that wouldn't be the correct social response. Call me paranoid, but I had that response before the Paris incident.

Picture taken 17 February 2006 rue Prokovief in Bagneux, an outer southern suburb of Paris, of the cellar of a building, where Ilan Halimi, 23 is believed to have been held and tortured.French police were hunting Friday for the mastermind of a kidnapping ring suspected of using sexual advances to lure a young man to his death, following the arrest overnight of twelve suspects, aged 17 to 32, in Bagneux, and a 13th in Belgium. They are suspected of abducting Halimi, and subjecting him to horrific tortures before dumping his naked and mutilated body in the street near a suburban train station on Monday. Handcuffed, gagged and covered in burns and torture marks, he died on the way to hospital.

It's a harsh world, but then again just telling children that might not convince them. They have to see that this is what is going to happen to people if they fall for age old tricks. They're not paying attention to their surroundings, they are paying attention to the cleavage. Like dogs conditioned to salivate when they hear the bell ring. Such people are prey, sheep even if they live to become productive citizens.

Animals don't have a choice of becoming human. While humans do have the choice of becoming animals.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 23, 2008 11:01 AM

Link

There's the link for those interested in more. The Religion of Peace and Tolerance strikes again.

The government won't protect you. You're going to have protect yourself.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 23, 2008 11:03 AM

Well, that is what is interesting here Ymar. On the one hand, I completely agree that we have to teach our children to do the right thing and to live by their own standards, regardless of what society may wish them to do. That is what I tried to do with my sons.

But then on the other we do recognize that there are some temptations that are too much even for adults, like alcohol, cigarettes, etc. Many adults handle them just fine but for some portion of the adult population, these things are addictive.

So it is not unreasonable to want to shield children, at least to some extent, from these things. We make adults show ID to buy alcohol, and you can't walk down the street in most places with an open bottle of whiskey or openly intoxicated because we do recognize that (just as with graffitti and other apparently harmless things) what gets eroded is people's general sense of what is acceptable public behavior. IOW, that minority of the population that always loses control is encouraged to cause too many problems for the rest of society.

It's always a weighing test among competing rights - you don't want to take away too much freedom, but on the other hand if your fellow humans can do anything they like (including nuisances like accosting you while drunk in public or urinating on storefronts and public sidewalks as happened in Annapolis not too long ago) you're really not all that free to go about your daily business. People who want to drink in public - to excess - have imposed unacceptable costs on those who don't. For people to say "It doesn't hurt anyone" at this point is clearly untrue. It does.

The question is, how much and how much should we limit individual freedom as a consequence? When children are involved, I think (despite the storm of derision such pronouncements inevitably produces from the assembled villainry here at VC) the cost/benefit equation changes a bit.

Posted by: Thing me a thad, thad thong... at January 23, 2008 11:51 AM

The lad is not a fool; he will not be alone with
a young lady (as he calls them) because he wants
to avoid the very appearance of evil. This was his choice that he made once he turned 12.

He emulates his late older brother in many respects; throws tomahawks and knives, is a crack
shot with a rifle and shotgun (earning both merit
badges at Scout camp), but he has always had a
sense of refinement where the older brother was
just quiet. There is a huge difference.

Both of them are/were popular and well liked, but
that was because they both made correct decisions
about their behavior. The shy one I had to watch
like a hawk because his mantra was 'Don't get caught' and 'It is easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission.'

But for all that, both boys never gave me reason
to lose sleep or worry about their safety.

I have the 15 year old nearly ready with his pockets and he is caterwauling about not eating
girly food like tuna salad with greens and crackers. He wants man food...pizza and root beer.

Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2008 11:57 AM

Cass, I have to agree with you on that one. Libertariansm aside, you are not free to do everything you want because there is a cost,
and if you don't control yourself, there will
be rules with consequences to ensure that you
do.

Make 'em aware of the consequences. The ten commandments are not the Ten Suggestions.
They are there to protect a society.

This is a great subject but I now have to jump in the Precious and make a pizza run.

We usually make it, but the kitchen is full of computers, sewing machines and books.

Sigh.

Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2008 12:03 PM

I know kids are "growing up faster" these days, but am I the only one hearing alarm bells over the idea that a 10-year-old is seeking out porn??

Posted by: FbL at January 23, 2008 01:11 PM

Well, here is where I get jumped all over (or people decide I'm unbearably perverse).

Alarm bells why? Because a 10 year old is interested in what the grownups are doing (and that's precisely how this will be interpreted by her)?

Because a 10 year old (and we're talking a girl here too, and they mature earlier) may be feeling stirrings she doesn't quite understand yet? A ten year old girl is often beginning to develop. I was, near about that age. And I distinctly recall that's about the age I started thinking about sex.

Not all the time. Not even often. But I did. And I didn't live in a sex-drenched culture. Adults are made uncomfortable by the fact that children (to some extent) are sexual beings too. Kids play doctor, they have childish crushes, they also - disturbingly - act out adult sexual behavior if they are exposed to it and girls are no different from boys in this regard, let me assure you. In fact, I think they may be far *more* attuned to what the adults are doing than boys are. Hence the problem.

I definitely noticed it when, at the ripe old age of 11, sailors started whistling at me when I walked down the street. I noticed. I was partly embarrassed, and partly annoyed.

And partly thrilled and fascinated. This meant I was becoming a woman. Men found me attractive. They noticed me, wanted me. Luckily I wasn't particularly desperate for attention, but that's not something that can be said of many young girls.

Children may not be *ready* for sex yet, but it most assuredly is ready for them.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2008 01:26 PM

I love Cricket's comment, because it illustrates several things:

1. It's possible to raise kids who hold whatever line you draw in today's day and age.

2. If this is truly important to you, you're not going to do it by winking at popular culture and crossing your fingers.

3. Different children raised in the same home will respond differently. This was my experience. One child may be biddable. Another may challenge you constantly. A third may be doing all sorts of things and you ne'er the wiser. Some kids are like that.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2008 01:32 PM

Yeah, I teach my boys home ec. Get over it.

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly."

"Specialization is for insects."

Posted by: Bob Heinlein's Ghost at January 23, 2008 02:13 PM

"Posted by Bob Heinlein's Ghost at January 23, 2008 02:13 PM"
Heheh. Be it ever so humble, there's no place like 127.0.0.1
Ok, I confess that in order to avoid the first item as often as possible, I was willing to test my prowess in the area of the next to last item (walkin' boss almost always won), the rest are checked off with the exception of the last item for which I'll have to wait and see if the Fates conspire to bring it to fruition...

As far as children and maturity goes, one other thing to keep in mind is that although we consider children of say 12 to 15 (give or take for the individuals level of maturity) to still be children, and if they are ours, to be innocent in thought and deed. We might remember that not so many years ago, for instance when my parents were growing up on the family farm in the early 20th century, children of 15 were often expected to perform adult work and to behave as emotionally mature adults.

As Cass says, children being the curious and active beings that they are will grow up in some ways, much, much faster than we want or expect. This will include their exploration to some extent of outside influences, both good and bad which they will encounter as they grow. They will investigate and test those values that we teach them and how we as parents behave against what they find outside.

Anyway... IMO, FWIW, the best we can work towards and expect as parents, is that through our example and guidance they will become the type of person and adult that we hope they become. Regardless of what they encounter outside of their home and the boundaries that their parents set.

SIDEBAR: Today it seems (based on my observations and conversations with other parents/folks my age) as if late 20 and 30 year olds who still live at home are not considered to be, ahhh, unusual. Might this be a cultural moving of the first down markers such that we further obfuscate what is expected of and when it is expected of our offspring? Maybe? It's all very confusing to me, having recently seen the endgame that is my girls growing up and flying the coup. I may just have to go to the garage for a while.

A squid whistling at you when you were 11?! Sheesshhh... Squid are best kept in a dark, deep pool away from polite society... =8^}

Posted by: bthun at January 23, 2008 02:33 PM

In all fairness, at that age people often mistook me for a 15 or 16 year old. There's a tremendous range of what girls look like at that age. Some are plainly still little girls and some look far older.

Also, I am not convinced that you need to be all that wonderful looking to have a sailor look twice at you :p They're pretty much aware of anything even vaguely female-shaped.

Posted by: Cass at January 23, 2008 02:42 PM

"Also, I am not convinced that you need to be all that wonderful looking to have a sailor look twice at you :p They're pretty much aware of anything even vaguely female-shaped."
That training is in the Bluejacket's Manual. =8D

Posted by: bthun at January 23, 2008 02:48 PM

As I suspected! :D

Posted by: Cass at January 23, 2008 02:59 PM

"If this is truly important to you, you're not going to do it by winking at popular culture and crossing your fingers."

This, actually, was precisely my father's approach. His assertions were, essentially:

1) If he's not old enough to understand it, he'll ignore it. (This is true: I have often rewatched movies I first saw as a child, and been shocked to realize how much cursing, sex, and so forth I simply didn't register as a boy.)

2) If he is, he needs to learn to deal with it, because he'll encounter it everywhere else when he's not home. Might as well encounter it here, where he can ask me questions.

Now, I was a male child, and people tend to be more willing to let them take risks in this area. Still, there is something to be said for the approach; and I wouldn't go so far as to say that I haven't been raised to hold a certain line, in terms of public behavior at least.

That's not to say that it's the only way, or the right way; just that it is an approach that can work.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2008 05:50 PM

All of that is undoubtedly true, Grim. And I agree with you.

However, the fact remains that today's world is a far, far cry from anything you experienced as a child. For instance, nothing you ran into in Playboy was in the least comparable to "Watch teenaged sl*ts get an*lly raped LIVE!!!".

That sort of thing is NOT the sort of thing a 10 year old child is either going to ignore because they don't understand, or (hopefully) encounter other places.

Nor should he or she. And I sure as hell wouldn't want that to be my son, daughter, or grandchild's first exposure to the wonderful, wacky world of adult carnal pleasures.

Posted by: Cass at January 23, 2008 06:07 PM

Sorry for the asperity Grim, but I hear that all too often. The world is NOT the same as it was when we were young.

Kids are NOT being exposed to the same things we did in kind, form, or intensity. Live hardcore (and especially violent or sadistic) images are different from some picture in a girlie magazine which as we've discussed before, concerns me not in the least. And there is a difference - a huge difference - between double entendre and innuendo, and things which cannot, under any circumstances, be mistaken for anything but what they are.

It's not the same as when we were kids. It just isn't.

Posted by: Cass at January 23, 2008 06:12 PM

AND ANOTHER THING!

Seriously Grim, you and I have talked about this before. I know you don't endorse (in any way) what I'm talking about. But the fact is, it's out there, whether in the form of the real thing or people pretending to the real thing (a distinction unlikely to register with - or matter to - a small child, or even a teenager seeing it for the first time). And we've discussed, in the abstract, the desirability of allowing people to simulate illegal acts on film because after all it's "just fantasy".

This is one reason I can't say I'm thrilled about that, especially when we're talking child pornography.

Posted by: Ve Haf Vays.... at January 23, 2008 06:46 PM

Be that as it may, I'd *really* like not to discuss this aspect a whole lot. It gets into squirrel caging and emotion.

I am more interested in the issue of how do you reasonably protect your child? I agree with part of what you said earlier. The problem, I think, is that you are defining 'popular culture' as the panty display at VS whereas I am trying to get you to admit that popular culture now includes the mainstreaming of pornography in ways that our parents did not have to deal with when they were raising us.

This stuff has been around since the Roman Empire and before, but I think it is not really honest to pretend it's exactly the *same* stuff, in terms of invasiveness or intensity. An outline of a phallus scrawled on a wall isn't the same as a webcam - especially if it turns out it's your kids sending images of each other via cell phone or the Internet from their own bedroom when you'd think they were 'safe'.

Technology has changed things and it's had a magnifying effect on age-old problems, all of which means that the assumptions that held true for our parents don't necessarily hold true any longer.

Posted by: Cassandra.. at January 23, 2008 07:04 PM

"Technology has changed things and it's had a magnifying effect on age-old problems, all of which means that the assumptions that held true for our parents don't necessarily hold true any longer."
Just an affirmative... And a thank goodness that mine are grown. I did not have a TV for the first 5 years after my separation from the USN in the late 70's. Returning from extended sea duty and tours overseas and then seeing the garbage that passed for entertainment on the tube convinced me that it was not much of a hardship to do without.

Marriage and then several years later the first daughter's appearance on the scene swayed me to disconnect the cable feed for a set of rabbit ears until my last child was ~12.

Being a tech type (with strong Luddite leanings)I had no problem with firewalls, filters, blocks and key-loggers on the home network to insure that the kids did not gain access to trash on my watch. Best laid plans, they trundled into much of the garbage I attempted to shelter them from in the school yard and through their friends. It's out there and there is no way to absolutely protect your kids from it.

I recall almost going to blows with a young fellow in Rehobeth Beach one summer long ago after I asked him politely, in the restaurant where Walkin' Boss, my 5 year old and I were eating, to clean up his language. Luckily for all concerned, the restaurant manager saw the commotion brewing and tossed the, ahem, gentleman.

Decorum and civility, that sense of appropriate public behavior, has sadly declined over the years. Cascading is a term that comes to mind.

Posted by: bthun aka Mr. Anachronism at January 23, 2008 07:34 PM

Just a note about 20 and 30 somethings still living at home: my oldest (younger) sister is moving out for the first time, and she will be 27 next month. She has wanted to move out for a long time ago, but is only now able to, and she'll have a roommate. This are a lot more expensive now than when I was her age and in a small apartment on my own, or actually moving out of state. I know my parents (Mom in particular) sometimes seems to forget my sisters are adults, but they haven't been living at home because they like still being there...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 23, 2008 08:16 PM

It's interesting that we've all had basically the same reaction to modern Television: shut it off. I can't stand the stuff. I watch old Maverick TV episodes online, so it's not like I can't enjoy television-style formats; it's just the modern versions leave me cold.

That said, my father's basic problem was the same as mine, even if the culture is different, and in spite of the problem of technology. The problem is this:

The world is what it is, whatever it is; and your child has to grow up into a man or woman who can handle the world as it is.

Sheltering them leaves them without context. As you know, much of a child's learning is from seeing behavior modeled by their parents. This is how you get to a situation in which their first exposure to sexuality really may be Internet porn, seen in secret at a friend's house, with no adults around to provide a model of what to do with it.

What you want instead is, I would think, a child who has grown up with a healthy introduction to sexuality, as demonstrated through his father's affection for his mother. Not that you would invite them into the bedroom, of course; but they should have a fairly deep-set sense that relations between men and women are marked by physical and emotional kindness and tenderness.

If you've provided them with that context from their earliest years, they should be OK. They'll realize that violent pornography is not the real thing, because they'll have lived the real thing: a loving family.

The ones to worry about are those who don't have the loving family experience underlying their upbringing. If you've done that part right, I don't think pornography (or the diluted but more pervasive modern culture) is a very great threat. I think children will know what is real and of worth, if they've been rooted in it from the beginning. They will be able to tell, with a little experience, that this -- like any vice -- may be all right within certain limits; but that limits are necessary to protect things of greater value.

I honestly believe that. I suppose it's why I've never been too worried about these things. We've all managed to turn our backs on modern culture, and identify the things of real worth. I think our children, and grandchildren, will be able to do it too.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2008 08:33 PM

Miss Ladybug,

I sorta diverged on to this tangent (apologies, the though of relative maturity and children in the same thread brought this on) as a result of hearing my daughters and their friends discuss their expectations over the years. How they would live the life styles of the rich and famous, sans working for a living like most of us poor ignorant slobs had to do...

Again, this is nothing more than my opinion based on my observations and conversations with others... But I think that in many cases the issue is the expectation of a certain standard of living based on mum and dads level of prosperity.

My oldest just recently was married and left the house. She is pushing 27. The daughter and her hubby thought that they would graduate from college and each find an $80k+/year career opportunity just waiting, nae begging for them. I have repeatedly mentioned (cautioned) that they might have to start somewhere other than near a high five figure salary, at least at the beginning. But hey, I'm an old methane eruption, what do I know.

I'll not talk about pushing my little Fiat Brava, uphill, both ways, to work, through the snow, as a newly married bloke. Nor the tiny garden apartment in which Walkin' Boss and I settled, as our place to live right after our wedding.

It's all relative, except for maybe the imagined/perceived verses the reality of a starting point one lands in as a freshly minted grown up.

Grim,

"What you want instead is, I would think, a child who has grown up with a healthy introduction to sexuality..."
Being a father to daughters, I allowed, well *negotiated* with Walkin' Boss to deal with the discussions regarding that part of the puzzle. A man has to know his limitations.

Posted by: bthun aka Mr. Anachronism at January 23, 2008 08:48 PM

Unsurprisingly, I agree with you Grim.

I don't worry so much about kids whose parents are paying attention. It's all the ones whose parents *aren't* paying attention, or who don't provide a healthy example, that I worry about. There is, however, a lot of research that indicates that our kids have very different ideas about a lot of this stuff than their parents and that furthermore their ideas are primarily driven by popular culture.

That's a bit of a problem.

I also think that the number of parents who do shut of the TV is extremely limited - more the exception than the norm. So while the answer for "How do I keep MY child safe..." is somewhat comforting, I'm not sure I think the same thing for the question of "How do we keep OUR children safe..."

Now some people would argue that "we" do not have children. And they are right. However, the kids who fall through the cracks have a way of causing problems for everyone else :p And so, I think even if this doesn't bother someone personally, it ought to concern them.

Posted by: Cassandra.. at January 23, 2008 08:51 PM

Being a father to daughters, I allowed, well *negotiated* with Walkin' Boss to deal with the discussions regarding that part of the puzzle. A man has to know his limitations.

As a mother to sons whose husband was gone most of the time, books with LOTS of pictures are invaluable in that regard :p And then they can ask you questions if they need to, which I gave them ample opportunity to.

Posted by: Cassandra.. at January 23, 2008 08:56 PM

Cass,
What I did and do is take precautions.
There are times when I can't be with them,
but they have access to a cell phone. We have
done role play when they were younger, and
when they go to well supervised activities,
we don't take it for granted that everyone
is going to behave. We have told them what
to do and we have had to intervene a couple of
times because of a couple of nasty iPod incidents,
but they generally Obey The Rules.

We do our best to live as we teach, because nothing is more irritating and more damaging to
a child's trust in his or her parents than to
see 'Do as I say but not as I do.' In some
instances, if the child comes from a home where
the parents drink and smoke, that the child
will be taught to understand that there are legal
limitations on the age at when they can start.

Communication is important and so is trust.
It has to be built over a lifetime and naturally
all children will push those boundaries to see
if you will respond and how, as well as to see
if their parents' teaching holds water.

I have seen my both my sons' friends really work
to regain their trust and friendship when a line
was crossed. They were cordial to the offenders,
but limited their contact until the point was
made and the air cleared.

I was stunned that they determined to do that
on their own...when they told us that that was
how we treated them; we never stopped loving them, but we imposed certain restrictions until
they fully understood the error and did better.

Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2008 08:57 PM

There really ought to be Haynes or Chiltons Shop Manuals for Parents, or maybe a Parenting for Dummies set of manuals.

By the time I felt really comfortable as a parent, mine were grown.

Thankfully for all involved, we had Walkin' Boss.

Thank heaven...

Posted by: bthun aka Mr. Anachronism at January 23, 2008 09:14 PM

But then on the other we do recognize that there are some temptations that are too much even for adults, like alcohol, cigarettes, etc. Many adults handle them just fine but for some portion of the adult population, these things are addictive.

A person can only try to be the best he can be. The goal shouldn't be to avoid certain things, the goal should be so that you don't have to avoid certain things. Given the state of things as it is, I think in the long term this strategy would bear better fruit.

Life is a bit short to be afearing so many things.

So it is not unreasonable to want to shield children, at least to some extent, from these things.

I think it is reasonable to a certain extent, since in any spectrum, you will tend to get your outliers in both directions. As a personal philosophy, I've always prefered to look at that which other people were cringing over, for whatever reasons. Such things as violence, war, and psychological warfare seemed scary and mysterious and powerful at first, but the more you study them, the more they simply appear like anything else in life. Or at least, the more I studied them. Obviously people aren't like every other person, though.

The question is, how much and how much should we limit individual freedom as a consequence?

Since each case is different and each person is different, I tend to treat it as I do plans in warfare. Expect a couple of things to go wrong due to unforseen events and decisions. Given the case with individual children, the problem is
often with predicting how they will respond to proposed actions. Certainly human behavioral models apply to children in general, but I start from the basis that since there is something untypical about a 10 year old, just to use an example, girl seeking nudy/porn sites all the time, I would also have to assume that her reactions to normal parenting might also be less than predictable. In those situations, my natural impulse is to acquire more information about the person and the situation. For the people that have to deal with this problem, they have all the information at their hands, they just have to get it or use it.

As for limiting individual freedom, a person makes that choice for himself through the risks he takes and the things he accomplishes.

To be clear, the example I gave concerning France is simply an alternative way of communicating why certain actions are important. And not just because your parents say so.

In fact, I think they may be far *more* attuned to what the adults are doing than boys are.

That may be due to the fact that when hormones hit boys, their thinking stops essentially. While for girls, they still may be doing thinking, of a sort, concerning the subject.

In all fairness, at that age people often mistook me for a 15 or 16 year old. There's a tremendous range of what girls look like at that age. Some are plainly still little girls and some look far older.

Jailbait.

And we've discussed, in the abstract, the desirability of allowing people to simulate illegal acts on film because after all it's "just fantasy".

Hollywood is usually fantasy.

Btw, the only tv I watch is Japanese TV. Primarily anime, but also those Ninja Warrior shows and some other practical joke stuff.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 23, 2008 10:18 PM

My point, re: the jail bait thing, was not so much that (I can't recall ever chasing them back :p) but that sometimes a child might not be thinking anything in particular until exposed to something by someone older. For instance, a girl or boy may not think much about the opposite sex until the opposite sex begins to notice them.

Or, until they see something that just can't *help* but make them think.

I think that definitely had an effect on my thought process as a teenager. It's easier, as Cricket has said, to keep your kids squared away if they aren't put into too many situations they aren't ready for. You can only tempt fate so many times, especially with some kids.

I had the same experience with my sons - my rule was that they were trusted by me until they showed they couldn't be. If one of their friends was not trustworthy, I told them it was THEIR responsibility to follow our rules, not their friends.

Posted by: Cassandra.. at January 23, 2008 10:31 PM

"As a personal philosophy, I've always prefered to look at that which other people were cringing over, for whatever reasons."

This is a fundamental philosophical point -- it's at the division between Plato's own thinking, and his earlier writings (which appear to have more accurately reflected Socrates' teachings).

Socrates, in the earlier dialogues, appears to have believed in inquiry into everything -- as you say you do, and as I do myself.

In the later dialogues, the ones that arose from Plato's own thinking, Socrates instead begins to argue for a severe sort of censorship. In The Republic, he advocates not teaching children anything that can cause them to start down the wrong road -- not even legends or great poems.

In a sense, it's the first version of the argument here. Socrates would probably consume a fair amount of pornography for the intellectual adventure, just as he famously could drink any amount of wine without losing his reason.

Not everyone is Socrates, of course. Some people have been known to get a little drunk on occasion (not, of course, any of our fine present company).

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2008 10:42 PM

I think that's a good point.

You do need to watch what kids are exposed to, and it's not always the things you'd think that cause problems. But if even mundane things can do this, think about the effects of things that aren't.

Case in point. When I was just a young girl I watched a made for TV movie that romanticized running off to a commune. Well, darned if I didn't imagine myself heroically running away, living the "free life", away from those buzz kill parents of my who kept trying to harsh my mellow with their tiresome insistence that I act like a human being instead of some ponytailed Hottentot.

Sure enough, as a older but still foolish teen, I did run away from home. I can tell you right now that my parents did NOTHING to cause this. The reason was simply that I got it into my fool head that it was cool to 'assert your independence' from authority figures.

Yeah. I was an ass. I was also just a foolish kid. It's damned lucky I didn't end up on a roadside, dead somewhere with my little throat slit. But I was adventurous and didn't fear anything, and sure as blue blazes no one could TELL me anything.

So yeah. I worry about influences on kids, because I know that even the best and most watchful parents in the world can be saddled with a boneheaded kid who thinks they are ready to be an adult.

And they're not.

Posted by: Cassandra.. at January 23, 2008 10:53 PM

Well, OK.

On the other hand, the book that has probably gotten me into more trouble than anything else was The Hobbit.

The core message of that book is: never turn down an adventure, even though they are miserable, hard things. And I never have.

Now, I've seen some pornography in my life, but I've never attempted to replicate any of it in reality. I've seen plenty of movies romanticizing drug abuse, and never used drugs of any illegal variety.

But that darn Tolkien...

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2008 10:57 PM

The reason, of course, was that Tolkien was right. If you want to talk about things that really put young men in danger, it's the true lessons of life. Life, properly lived, is very dangerous. The most dangerous things you can do are also the best things: Marry. Join the Marines. Have a child.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2008 11:00 PM

"Socrates would probably consume a fair amount of pornography for the intellectual adventure"

Ahh ha! So that's where the good ole 'for the articles, of course' justification started! I thought that it originated with Hugh Hefner. =;-)

Posted by: bthun aka Mr. Anachronism at January 23, 2008 11:01 PM

That's the only story of my misspent youth that's on offer tonight.

There have been piles of studies that show kids are immensely influenced by pop cult*re, and that it affects their actions in very direct ways. I can find them if I have to, smart aleck :)

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2008 11:03 PM

No need. I never doubt a claim that there are studies that show something, whatever that thing may be. :)

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2008 11:06 PM

Posted by: bthun at January 24, 2008 01:13 PM

So yeah. I worry about influences on kids, because I know that even the best and most watchful parents in the world can be saddled with a boneheaded kid who thinks they are ready to be an adult.

If you ask me, such things as the teenage rebellious spirit is genetically programmed to activate when in the presence of stability. It was a way to renew and reinvigorate a community, whether because some new kid thought up a new hunting trick or an explorer went and found new trade roots, but essentially it used the risk taking impulse of young people for the good of the community. I think it was supposed to balance the know it all wisdom and conservatism of the elders, to ensure that the elders are not tunnel visioning the tribe to extinction. The cost, of course, was that only a few risks paid off in equivalent or higher rewards. Most risks produced bankruptcy, and in the hunter-gatherer life, bankruptcy meant death. Literal liquidation. Most revolutions ended in blood, fire, and red ruin, not the Pax Americana.

Our way of life and our technology level has changed, but basic human nature is still the same. One reason why people get obese and why people still take risks, when there is no genetic reason to do so, not at that level. I mean, compare and contrast this to the political "no risk taking" bureacratic nightmare that is in the upper echelons of all government. If teenage rebellion is one side of the spectrum, and the 60s exemplified this, then bureacracy and "covering your ass policies" is the other side of the spectrum. Of course, the timeline is perfectly consistent given that the rebels of the 60s are now the ones maintaining the corrupt status quo. Dan Rather, Soros, and Enderlin and lots of other folks.

The most dangerous things you can do are also the best things: Marry. Join the Marines. Have a child.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2008 11:00 PM
Mitsu over at Neo-Neocon's comment section said something to the effect that "if taking out Saddam was an easy task, then it would have been worth it, but since we have all these bungled strategies and plans while taking out Saddam, Iraq, as a prior current or future strategy, isn't worth the resources put into it."

My reply was that worthwhile things, in war specifically, are not easy. When you take a town and it was easy, with no strong resistance or unexpected events, then expect Murphy to come acalling soon.

Again, a basic philosophical difference. Differences that people tend to purposefully overlook in favor of arguing about political differences or similarities, as if they matter more than people's philosophy.

Or, until they see something that just can't *help* but make them think.

What's kind of funny is that I said "jailbait" because my immediate reaction to your description was John Ringo's description of Calley in his Posleen series.

Deep down in that genetic and human free will matrix, any kid will have to ask him or herself "who they are". Are they what their parents think or expect of them? Are they simply a reflection of what their peers want and are? When a person can't seem to find a solid foundation for themselves that they believe in and are comfortable in, then I tend to think they latch unto self-destructive tendencies and groups.

A lot of the Hollywood stuff is corrosive, I believe, not because it is about nudity, which Europeans call us prudes on, but because Hollywood lifestyles are self-destructive. It is not just Brittney Spears or the guy from Brokeback Mountain that died of a drug overdose, but it is the basic philosophy itself, not just the actions derived from it. It might be too much to call "nihilism" a basic philosophy, but once a person believes in such things, all else comes naturally.

So it's hard and challenging trying to find subsitutes or alternatives that can fullfill the need for identity and self-respect in people, in the face of so many alternatives that are powerful in direct proportion to their self-destructive tendencies. Who knows what the effects of people picking up on the New York Times myth that military retired veterans are just killbots waiting to be activated and set off by the most innoculous things, will be? Will children grow up disdaining the use of violence because their early life environment had stigmatized any use of violence, for any purpose? Just one example of a problem that is not solved through refusing to offer a stronger alternative.

Grim spoke somewhat on the stronger alternatives available, but deep down, people in their genes know what is successful or not. If only because they have observed the consequences one way or another. If society or the "mental environment" is able to convince people that becoming stronger in order to protect yourself and your loved ones is evil and should be shunned then it makes the stronger alternative the weaker alternative. If the media could convince America it had lost the Vietnam war because of Vietnamese nationalism then this is also feasible. Humans have free will, thus our genes can only guide our actions, they do not determine them. Which means we are susceptible to self-fullfilling prophecies in which people, like in San Francisco, rejects the US Marines as the scourge of their god, which if you allow such things to continue it may end up causing the US Marines to be what San Fran leaders want them to be.

The best example or analogy I could think of was the conflict between police and organized crime, the mob. The mob believed themselves and their system to be superior and more righteous. The police thought the same of their system. The people caught in the middle, went with whoever had the most power over their lives. Some sided with the police and spied/ratted on their fellow mobsters. Some accepted bribes from the mob and gave information on FBI safehouses and witness locations.

The ultimate question, in the end, was which system was stronger? The side seen to be the side that will ultimately win, that becomes the side the folks caught in the middle would choose. And when one faction gains support in this way, their chances of being stronger, relative to others, increases. A self-fullfilling prophecy.

Socrates would probably consume a fair amount of pornography for the intellectual adventure, just as he famously could drink any amount of wine without losing his reason.

The difference in level and quality also becomes apparent when one remembers that Socrates refused to be broken out of jail by Plato and his supporters. Socrates, via Plato I believe, was said to have willingly accepted the sentence of death because he believed that no man could simply pick and choose which laws they will or will not obey. Down that path, was anarchy, which is why Plato disliked majority rule and democracy so much. He had seen the consequences to someone he loved personally, of the consequences of people making choices that they did not have the wisdom to make, but did have the power and authority.

That may have affected Plato's views on how much information and freedom should be given out to people in a city, state, nation.

No need. I never doubt a claim that there are studies that show something, whatever that thing may be. :)

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2008 11:06 PM

I am sure, if you had enough money, you could commission a study studying the question of whether any studies had in fact ever existed on our dimensional plane.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 24, 2008 01:37 PM

> This is why arguing that it's up to parents to monitor their child's exposure to the objectionable material so they don't infringe on the freedom of consenting adults makes so little sense.

1) I've long been an advocate of a "children's web" -- which would be used to control access of children to material. Defining what goes on that is going to be interesting, but I think you can, at the least, define what does NOT go onto it. I think those "other things" (i.e., sexual information such as abortion, etc.) can be handled directly by the parent themselves if they desire for their child to have access to it. As long as the contents were transparent to the responsible adult, the limitations could be transcended by the RA's further allowances under constrolled circumstances

2) The above said, I consider this currently widespread notion that people fall into two classes -- Adult and Child, with the divider being "18" to be ridiculous. Look back only 100 years and you find that a teenager - *any* teenager -- can be quite responsible for themselves. It was not unusual for frontier 10yos to go hunting by themselves. That's not the ideal, but it points out that our current notion that a 16 or 17 yo is not ALREADY PART ADULT to be really spectacularly ludicrous. I consider this to be a major source of highly justified teenage resentment (some of it is overweening arrogance about how much they understand, yes) about their place in society. In reality, as a teen ages and is given more and more responsibility, they should be allowed to make their own mistakes, too -- your chief goal as a parent is to try as much as possible to shield them from THE CONSEQURNCES THEY CAN'T HANDLE -- let them get smacked -- just don't let them get smacked hard enough to BREAK them.

Sexuality USED to be something they were aware of from early on -- if you think a 10yo on a farm has never seen animals having sex, you're deluded. So why would you think that a picture of someone (or an animal) having sex would be damaging to a 10yo NOW? Are "modern children" so much more vulnerable? Or do we just have somewhat more silly concerns?

Trust me, porn is not that big a deal. Teens have been able to get access to weird stuff all along -- they used to just have to make it up themselves (try the graffiti in a Middle School locker or bathroom)... and trust me, their imaginations have never been lacking.

You should teach your children to avoid it because it can become an obsession, but that's about it. Content is largely irrelevant, and becomes even less so the older they get.

As far as ratting out the daughters' GF, I would simply suggest to them that they might want to check on their daughter's surfing activities -- you heard something "vague" that had you wondering -- "it might be nothing, but better safe than sorry". If the parents don't come down on their daughter, then you know you either have to carefully consider your own daughters' involvement or at least advise her appropriately.

Posted by: obloodyhell at January 25, 2008 01:55 PM

It's interesting to me that Orson Scott Card posited that very idea years ago in Ender's Game (that children wouldn't even have access - or at least unrestricted access - to the web by themselves because they couldn't handle it). It's an idea that makes a lot of sense.

Insofar as Internet porn not being a problem I disagree with you, and vehemently. I don't (and never did) have a problem with my sons seeing nudity. I didn't even much care if they saw people copulating. But that is not what I am talking about. When it starts getting into the perverse stuff, yes I absolutely DO have a problem with it.

I don't want kids seeing that. I don't think they're prepared for it. Hell, I"M NOT PREPARED FOR IT. I have felt shocked and physically ill at a few things I have seen on the 'Net, and I am not really all that easy to shock, OBH. Sorry, but I don't think kids need to see this stuff.

Images can be very hard to get out of your head, especially for women. We don't think the same way you guys do. For instance, I don't scare easily - at all - but I will never forget being on the receiving end of an obscene NetMeeting when all I was doing was trying it out for my firm. The image was really disturbing and it took MONTHS for me to get it out of my head. And I'm an adult.

Ugly things like that shouldn't be forced on children. Period.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 25, 2008 02:07 PM

"I will never forget being on the receiving end of an obscene NetMeeting when all I was doing was trying it out for my firm"

Those sales meetings are obscene...

Posted by: Celene deMadre at January 25, 2008 03:35 PM

Psssst. Hey meester!!!

Jou hwan to buy my...

Oh never mind.

Posted by: Chinese Jewish Mexican-American Lawn Chica at January 25, 2008 03:48 PM

Whoa!

Hey thar CJM-ALC!

Whuts that thar Ipadress?
Ole Larry'll sho ya sum conetry via that thar netmeetin'.
Then run ya thru the conetry vershun uf ante-viri.

Posted by: larry at January 25, 2008 04:36 PM

"When it starts getting into the perverse stuff, yes I absolutely DO have a problem with it."

A little while ago, I said something about Socrates finding intellectual adventure in pornography. I meant something by that, which is that there is doubtless a real window into the truth of human nature on offer here. Perhaps especially in the "perverse stuff," which is apparently wildly popular in spite of being socially unacceptable.

There is a market for this stuff, and apparently a strong one. It isn't only in pornography, though it is perhaps most strongly expressed there. Do you remember this piece?

I suspect that the sex points to the same thing as the violence. There is something very dark lurking underneath us, and it takes tremendous courage to explore and confront it. In a very real sense it is us, in that we are defined either in the way that we yield to it, or in the way that we hide from it, or in the way that we master it.

There's a work of history and anthropology by John Grisby, called Beowulf & Grendel. It explores the sex/death cult that existed in pre-Christian Denmark. It was a cult that used psychotropic drugs made from ergot, in which a priestess acting as the goddess Freya had sex with and then murdered a man filling the role of the god of barley -- often, apparently, the king himself. This ritual killing to fertilize the land united real sex and real death, surrender and murder, in ways that the most violent pornography barely shadows.

In the Greek festival Prorea, and in the festivals of Bacchus... but you know, perhaps.

That is the beginning of a very dark road, and only the beginning. When we see something at work in the Commanche and the Greeks, the Norsemen and the modern European, we're looking at something with deep roots. I suspect that here, too, clean hands are only an illusion.

The response to that concept, when proposed in "The Smell of Death," was for people to be thankful that others had gone and seen on their behalf. And people are usually much more upset by sex than violence -- we see that in everything from the way we rate movies, to what we allow on television, to the fact that anyone would rather be beaten than raped.

This concept may not be welcome, then, applied to sex as it was to violence -- but I think it may be equally true. I suspect these things that upset you are not perverting human nature, but revealing it.

That leaves us in the same place: how to train.

Posted by: Grim at January 25, 2008 07:20 PM

And people are usually much more upset by sex than violence...

Well, not me Grim.

But then I am used to not thinking the same way as a lot of people. As I said, I didn't mind my boys being exposed to nudity, or people copulating so much. So long as the WAY it was done was loving or wholesome. As someone pointed out earlier, a kid would have to be really dumb in this day and age not to know that people have sex, and how it is done and I was always pretty practical on that score. I didn't try to make my kids believe in Santa Claus one second past the point where they were ready either. I didn't see the point.

But to paraphrase the Reese's peanut butter commerical, no sex in my violence please, and vice versa.

It's when you conflate the two that my stomach turns. Because you're right: there's a real human switch there that can get flipped all too easily, and I don't WANT that flipped on in my child. Don't take this as being aimed at you Grim, women are all too conscious that there are way too many guys out there who don't mind forcing a woman, or roughing her up. In fact, they enjoy it.

And let's face it, the idea of being tied up or whatever can be all kinds of titillating... but I don't want some sicko to really hurt me (or anyone else) in real life. That isn't fun anymore. It is sick.

And it doesn't take any courage at all, in my book, to "confront" what any moron knows is already there. I've read history books. Anyone familiar with Goddess worship knows what matriarchal societies used to do to men. Ugly, ugly stuff. No wonder so many men instinctively fear women and unbridled female sexuality - we can be a vicious, vicious lot. So can men. This is why we keep sex under wraps. Like all our other basic urges it isn't entirely rational and if we don't control it, it controls us and we don't really behave terribly nicely.

I keep arguing this point, but somehow people keep wanting to argue that we can just do whatever the helk we want and unicorns and butterflies will land on our noses and everyone will make nice.

I happen to think that's utter crap. People are not nice unless they are taught to be. I love my kids, but I spent a hell of a lot of time and energy teaching them to be decent human beings. That included teaching them not to be a little jerk like their mother was at their age. Hopefully they are better people for it - I know I am a better person because my Mother taught me right from wrong. My Mom is the best person I know.

She gave me a solid moral foundation in life. She is kind and gentle and loving and she thinks the best of every person she meets, even people like me ;p

Without her tutelage, I'd probably be the biggest bonehead on the planet. That I'm still a fairly big bonehead is not her fault. I am just stubborn. But you have to look at what she had to work with. I give the woman all the credit in the world.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 25, 2008 08:23 PM

I think it takes quite a bit of courage to recognize the depth of evil that is basic to humanity. Looking in your own heart and finding a black pit is... well, if you are honest about it, very deeply humbling.

On the other hand, it clarifies. One learns not only why the walls are there, but why it is personally important to defend them. Not just important to 'some others' who 'are sick,' but important to me -- because by choosing this path, and not that one, I am making an election.

Posted by: Grim at January 25, 2008 08:48 PM

I guess it depends on whether you were denying the pit was there in the first place, Grim :p

I have always assumed it was. And that it was vital to defend against it. And that we have the strength to do so.

I also believe what the ancients believe - that in very many ways, some things are better not named and better not wakened. It think that is a basic truth. There are things inside of us that are there, that we know are there, but if we don't dwell on them and don't feed them, will never bother us. But if we insist on poking the beast in the cage...

Is it "courage", or foolishness to provoke a rabid beast that you already know may savage you if it wakes? And what is the point, really?

You already know the difference between right and wrong. There is no real question.

You do know it. No one has to "prove" to you that sickness and depravity is sick and depraved. It requires no special character to face what common sense tells anyone is so. A stove is hot. Cliffs are dangerous to jump off of.

If you like the thrill, go ahead, but don't try to tell me there is some especial virtue in what you are doing because no new and special knowledge is being gained. You can make that moral election without facing down the temptation personally. I think it is more a case of risk-taking activity. As someone who has been known to engage in just that sort of thing in her younger days, I recognize the behavior.

And there is nothing necessarily wrong with it. Maybe it means more to you, saying "I won't do this" if you admit that part of you wants to. But why is it even important to you (if you are going to do the right thing) that it "mean more to *you*"? Isn't that a bit egotistical? Why isn't doing the right thing for its own sake good enough?

Why risk the chance you might do wrong to others just for the satisfaction of being able to say "I gave up something part of me wanted to do"? To me, that is wrong - you impose a risk on others, however slight, because part of you enjoys risk taking activity. That is not moral or courageous - it is the opposite. Because you could so easily have fallen.

But then I'm female. Go figure. I think about what the consequences are to other people first, always. And I never assume I am infallible.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 25, 2008 09:07 PM

Oh, and FWIW, I am speaking in hypotheticals :)

I don't assume that you are going about doing any of these things - my "you" above is a generic "you".

I assume, as always, you (as in Grim) understood that :) We usually understand each other, but I wanted to make that clear.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 25, 2008 09:11 PM

It's always a very interesting discussion, and if I may say so, very entertaining as well as thought provoking when you two get going.

I was going to inject something along the lines of anthropology, metaphysical walls, pornography, men, women, desire, will, training or that listening to you two recalls memories of being a young fellow discussing Pirsig or Castaneda in one of Hotlanta's pubs with some of my buds who were doing that philosophy major thing.

But my sense of humor would have had its way with me such that it would have come out as nagual's shape-shifting to influence the drawing of the mega-game numbers or having the crow sit on a window sill outside the women's dorm... And I know that if I did that, Hume would kick my butt this evening in dreamland, so I won't. Instead I'll seek out the strongest blade of grass that I can grasp. =;^}

Posted by: bthun at January 25, 2008 10:13 PM

Grim just enjoys kicking my philosophical butt in public.

Men are such exhibitionists... heh. I let it happen because he's interesting.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 25, 2008 10:16 PM

I think people are disturbed by what is personal to them. Meaning, to most people violence is just something they see on the tube, a one filament stimuli, that they can ignore, rationalize, or just think "it would never happen to me". However, if you introduce sex into violence or along with it, then people automatically can empathize and thus are affected more by it.

Most of the stuff shown on tv, whether convenience store robberies or not, isn't real asocial violence. Meaning, it's not a person that knows what he is going to do to a person and then does it. A lot of those criminals use a weapon or a gun for intimidation purposes, not because their primary goal is to use the tool of violence on as many targets as they can reach.

Most of the HOllywood stuff is fake violence and can desensitize a person to visual illusions, of no use in a real violent encounter. The other video shots of robbers and thugs show incompetents attempting to use the tools of violence, which again does not prepare on for how to deal with real violence, violence used by people that go into churches to kill everyone, or go into schools and kill as many as you can before you kill yourself, or the DC double sniper incident with people taking potshots at folks getting gas and exiting convenience stores.

I suspect these things that upset you are not perverting human nature, but revealing it.

Or it is just that it is revealing the perverse side of human nature, in the hands of people that have embraced their inner darkness without limits or seals.

Don't take this as being aimed at you Grim, women are all too conscious that there are way too many guys out there who don't mind forcing a woman, or roughing her up. In fact, they enjoy it.

The usual causes of that are malignant narcissism, sadism, inferiority complex (shame cultures), and traditional dominance or societal expectance (gangs).

And it doesn't take any courage at all, in my book, to "confront" what any moron knows is already there.

With cognitive dissonance and with the ability of humanity to practice self-deception to the moon, it is not really guaranteed that they really do know that it is already inside them.

For there to be courage, there has to be more than just curiosity at stake. A person also must be afraid... of themselves and that dark part of themselves that derives pleasure from battle, killing, and so forth.

No wonder so many men instinctively fear women and unbridled female sexuality

Most of the witch burnings around the Reformation occured in Germany, from one source I read. I don't what that might signify, but misogyny usually comes from men being unable to control themselves and their environment.

This is why we keep sex under wraps.

Sex is like aggression. Society has an interest in putting them to use for the greater good, because such things unrestrained tend to produce the 1960s and then disease and other things start occuring to the tribe. Too much aggression and you end up with too many wars and burned fields, producing famine and hunger.

As to the topic of "training" that Grim brought up, my response is here. Link

As a good example about the duality nature of human nature, you can see some of my dark side in the comment I left there. It is not that I have a death wish or have something to prove, that is not the motivation behind my desire to injure and kill the Three Thugs. No, the main motivation is that I felt a kind of elated joy and pleasure when contemplating terminating them. I can only guess that this is what people feel when they have obtained their revenge, but I have no reason to revenge myself upon those Three. No personal reason at least.

I am afraid of death just as the next person is. I just have an appreciation for the fact that you will never feel as alive as when you are fighting the good fight against people that need killing and are trying to kill you.

And therein lies the danger, the threat, and the fear. If I use violence and gain pleasure from even contemplating killing them, am I not the same as them, the Three Thugs? If we as a nation torture to get information, will this not make us as bad as the terrorists that torture (for fun)?

These are real and serious questions. The thing is, I've asked myself such questions before 9/11, thus when the Left says "we are as bad as them", my immediate response is "are you serious?". The moral equivalency doesn't work with me because I have already accepted how close I am to the enemy I fight. And in accepting it, I can control it. If I rejected the use of violence, if I rejected the need to eliminate threats, then I would become increasingly angry and frustrated with this internal soul conflict. Because I can't shut off my emotions, I can't shut off my belief that it is wrong to go into places and randomly start killing people and their daughters. My dark side is controlled by my conscience because it exists because of my conscience. Thus, differentiating my dark side from the behavior of rapists, mass murderers, and terrorists that just can't seem to help themselves.

I can easily see how someone brought up in civilization's shackles can start thinking that they are "bad" because they feel this anger and need to destroy certain people. That is just not done in civilization. You go to the courts to solve problems and the police. You don't solve it yourselves. That would be unilateralism. If you grow up being taught that hitting and being angry enough to hurt people is bad societally, then you will eventually have to ask yourself whether you really are a bad person for hitting bullies back or getting angry at folks. In the end, people make their own choices. Some people try to elevate themselves to the Clean Hands level of never having to feel a need to kill or destroy or war or whatever. "Don't lower yourself to the criminal's level just give him what he wants in return for your life", is the choice some folks have made. It wasn't the choice I made.

I liked the connections Grim made in the Smell of Death post, concerning what motivates people into analyzing, incorrectly, human nature.

I have often noted that political differences started first off with philosophical differences, and philosophical differences began first as different outlooks on what human nature is. If you cut down the gap between war and utopia advocates and welfare/planned parenthood organizations, what you tend to get is a common set of beliefs and assumptions concerning human nature. What human nature is, what its limits are, how often it changes or even whether it ever has changed.

For some people, they may simply lack information to make a wise judgement. People like Neo-Neocon or Bookworm, who believed in classical liberalism but trusted the Democrats to fight for liberty and security based upon misleading information.

It is certainly possible for a person that thinks Iraq is worthless, to have his opinion be changed by seeing the lives affected, positively and negatively, in Iraq directly. It is one thing to ignore and be cynical about what one sees on tv, but it is quite another thing to directly challenge another, face to face, when they speak the truth of their life experiences in Iraq. It is very hard to derive a bad judgement, with the benefit of such things, just from misleading information and lack of factual data. For a person to still stick to his guns that the only thing BUsh is doing in Iraq is enriching himself, it is a matter of deeper division than simply being ignorant of the cost in lives.

Such an example is not hypothetical even, since I have heard those opinions aired exactly, to me and others.

To Grim,

I haven't heard you mention anything about TFT, so I'd like to know what you thought of the program, in connection to the various mental scenarios you wrote about before.

There are a couple of videos at the bottom of this ad that might be interesting

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 26, 2008 12:47 AM

I think it takes quite a bit of courage to recognize the depth of evil that is basic to humanity.

I think Cass is only addressing the people going to porn sites or trying to find rape porn on the internet, when she said it didn't take courage to indulge or partake in one's "dark side".

And that we have the strength to do so.

Others believe that only the government has the power to fight the evil in men's hearts.

And what is the point, really?

The point is to make yourself stronger. That is a means unto itself. rather than a means to an end.

You already know the difference between right and wrong. There is no real question.

But people don't start out knowing the difference. If they did, enemy propaganda would be more or less useless in this war over Iraq liberty and American power.

Get corrupted at an early enough age or at a period of vulnerability and you will turn out believing that kicking US Marines out of San Fran is "right" and attacking Chavez, Syria, and Iran is "wrong".

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 26, 2008 01:20 AM

"And there is nothing necessarily wrong with it. Maybe it means more to you, saying "I won't do this" if you admit that part of you wants to. But why is it even important to you (if you are going to do the right thing) that it "mean more to *you*"? Isn't that a bit egotistical? Why isn't doing the right thing for its own sake good enough?"

The answers to your questions -- which are "no" and "because" respectively -- turn on the concept of 'indoor' and 'outdoor' philosophy. You may remember the debate (it's how we got Joe roped into Grim's Hall). We'll start with the "because."

The concept is that an 'indoor philosophy' -- however rationally considered and well-tested in laboratories -- abandons an entire set of empirical evidence: the actual experience of the world. That set of experience arises and is interpreted by filters -- eyes, brain, and instincts -- that have themselves been long tested and proven in the world.

An outdoor philosophy goes and sees, and rejects anything that doesn't prove out.

Now, in the particular case, we're talking about a defense, not merely of yourself, but of others as well. We are, in effect, proposing to maintain a wall that keeps out a lion.

Who will do that more effectively: the man who has never seen a lion, but has heard stories of one from his grandfather? Or the man who has hunted lions?

Who will know how to build the wall? Who will understand how important it is to maintain the wall?

You point out the risk to the man who goes out to hunt the lion: wouldn't it be better if he stayed inside the walls? If he falls, who will feed his children, love his wife?

Yet if no one goes out to hunt, we lose the sense of lions. You will end up with the man whose grandfather hunted lions, but who has never seen one; and he will be the only one to protect your children.

No, if you are to have men who are lion slayers, they must go and slay lions. It is the only way to prove the knowledge and test the strength.

The vehemence of your own argument here demonstrates the point: you declare that you yourself ran risks, and perhaps caught a glimpse of a lion now and then.

Some people who 'go out' will, of course, be eaten by the lions. This is not avoidable: if you are to have the benefit, you must have the risk.

So, 'doing the right thing for its own sake' is not adequate. It is not adequate because 'doing the right thing' is not enough. You must understand why it is the right thing -- and you cannot really know that until you've seen the lion.

As for the first question, "isn't it egotistical?", I believe the answer to that question is, "No." If I am correct to assert that you can only have deep, reliable wisdom by experiencing the reality of the world, then it is not wrong to seek that experience. It may even be a duty; in fact, I would say it is what men are for.

Posted by: Grim at January 26, 2008 07:09 AM

I don't mean that merely for defensive purposes, by the way. I mean that this pursuit of wisdom strikes me as the fundamental purpose of life. This is it: the whole thing is for that.

Ymar:

I'm not familiar with the guy you ask me about, and having not seen his method, I can't tell you if it works. The concept is right -- you should be able to kill another man in a few seconds with minimal training. I could teach you how in fifteen minutes.

But I wouldn't. :)

As for whether or not he can teach you, I can't say. I've no idea what he's teaching.

I will tell you that his marketing method is the one that Matt Furey sells. Now Furey's work is overhyped but perfectly effective; the concept is to extract a lot of money out of you to teach you three good things.

That system only works because he has three good things to teach. I don't know if this guy does or not.

Posted by: Grim at January 26, 2008 07:19 AM

Oh, I see the videos now.

What he's teaching there is fairly mainstream jujistu (as opposed to judo). The hip throw used is the O Goshi, for example. Several of the techniques they are indicating rather than applying properly, which suggests they think they are good enough that they don't need to bother practicing correct form.

Unlike in its sport forms, jujitsu normally uses grappling techniques to set up strikes on sensitive areas -- either with a hand or, generally in the Samurai era, a knife.

It's a perfectly servicable concept, but you're better off finding someone who teaches in person. Having a community of people with whom to study will be of great benefit, as well as letting you practice more effectively.

Posted by: Grim at January 26, 2008 08:57 AM

To paraphrase Sesame Street Grim, "One of these things is not like the other".

Hunting lions is not an immoral act last time I checked, now is it? Bad analogy.

The point was that you don't have to actually go out and DO a bad thing to know it is bad and refrain from doing it. The better analogy would be the married man who high mindedly tells us that he won't sin again because he has colored outside the lines and "now knows why it's wrong".

Well bully for you, big guy. You and 20 million other people. Oh, and you had already promised not to, not to mention that everyone knows that is wrong.

Or someone who just thinks they have to watch child pornography to "discover" that DUH, many people are slightly turned on by that stuff but... again, DUH... IT'S WRONG TOO. Well, you also were just complicit in a crime. No moral superiority points are awarded. You knew it was going in, you know it is STILL wrong coming back out. And now your hands are twice as dirty as they were before and by the way I would not have any respect for such a person making such an argument. You don't need to wade into a sewer to smell the stink, and if you are so arrogant that you won't trust your own nose nor anyone else's but have to actually wallow in the muck before you can see what's right before you, then I really have to wonder.

And as to the last argument (that I went out and did some of these things) I never did anything I knew to be immoral or depraved. There is a difference between risk taking behavior (which as I said there is nothing inherently wrong with) and immorality. I was content to trust that certain things *are* wrong. Rape is wrong. Murder is wrong. Child molestation is wrong. Hurting people who don't enjoy it for pleasure is wrong. I don't need to do (or view) these things to know that. Period. End of story.

Lions have nothing to do with it. Some things are pretty plain, Grim.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 26, 2008 09:13 AM

Lion hunting isn't immoral? Have you asked the lion?

How about PETA? Or, for that matter, the Quakers?

The one philosophically untenable position on the table here is the concept that people "know" what is right, that these things are "plain." That's one principle we can test against the world and discover is false.

As for the question of immorality, I'd say that it's possible that some (but not all) of the behavior you're citing as "sick," "perverse," and so forth is not merely immoral but evil; some of it is immoral, but in the fashion of a vice; and some of it may not be wrong at all.

But it begins to become hard to examine the question. For example, in our recent discussions you have conflated pornography with child pornography; pornography with rape; consensual pornography with pornography made by forcing women to appear in it; and now, pornography with adultery.

The problem with putting all those things in the same box is that they are so dissimilar that it becomes impossible to usefully discuss them. Child pornography is of demonstrably different character from that which involved consensual adult activity, even that consensual adult porn that may depict violent acts. And violent pornography is of a different character than non-violent pornography; at least, you said so at one point.

The lion-hunting analogy works fairly well, because this begins to sound like a description of a monster heard of only from tales: like a chimera, where you are conflating lions and tigers and cougars.

And maybe housecats; and now that you've built a wall to keep them out, the others inside that wall will be thinking, "Why do I need a wall to keep out housecats? We can do away with this silly thing. No more walls!"

Moral rules meant to bind yourself can be as tight and heavy as they need to be; but the ones designed to bind others should always be as narrow as possible. They need to be that to survive, because otherwise people who disagree -- who have a different idea of what "plain" morality requires -- will just throw them off.

I share your desire to protect the weak: enough that I would gladly execute a man who raped a child or a woman, for film or for any other purpose. I would not even condemn a man who watches a film where two adults cavort consensually and playfully, or even violently-in-play; no more than I would condemn a man for smoking a pipe, which is probably worse for him.

To me it appears there is a whole scale of things of different character, some of which are evil; some of which are minor vices; and some of which may be harmless fun.

You can't know which is which, though, if you just lump them all together.

(An aside: I do think, however, that almost none of the behaviors on offer here are "sick." As we were discussing, most of these behaviors appear to be wildly popular, which is why there is a persistant and global market for the product. Near-universal human desires cannot be an illness, anymore than we would say it was abnormal to have eyesight. Sickness is when the body does not function as nature normally would have it; when it does, we may rightly condemn immorality, but we ought not to conflate it with illness.

(The reason it is important to make this disctinction is that illness has special implications. Illness is a category often misused by politicians, sometimes by others. Because an illness is a malfunction, there is no moral issue involved in repairing it: so, if you can paint a moral issue as an issue of sickness, you can claim your own actions are morally neutral. You are just doing what a doctor would do, setting things right; and any measures necessary to restore the patient's 'health' are justified.

(Thus, moral issues should normally not be conflated with illness issues. This is part of my problem with the 'mental health' industry: it frequently grabs what are really philosophical or moral debates, and tries to make them health debates. That usually does violence both to the truth, and to the philosophy. For someone who has my view of the point of life, that is a serious problem.)

Posted by: Grim at January 26, 2008 11:03 AM

*sigh*

Here we go again.

Grim, you are the one who went off on a tangent about the "dark side" of human nature and people doing things that were hardly harmless "entertainment":

It was a cult that used psychotropic drugs made from ergot, in which a priestess acting as the goddess Freya had sex with and then murdered a man filling the role of the god of barley -- often, apparently, the king himself. This ritual killing to fertilize the land united real sex and real death, surrender and murder, in ways that the most violent pornography barely shadows.

You are the one who was talking about exploring that 'dark side' that lives in all of us. It is this that I was addressing, not looking at the panty display at VS. And I am not the one conflating the two.

You are. My comments were specifically addressing what you were talking about: things any normal person would clearly know to be wrong.

in our recent discussions you have conflated pornography with child pornography; pornography with rape; consensual pornography with pornography made by forcing women to appear in it; and now, pornography with adultery.

No, I haven't. I have specifically and repeatedly distinguished them. That is what aggravates me about this type of conversation: you talk about porn as though it included ONLY the panty display at VS and nothing ever more harmful or problematic than that.

Therefore, anyone who dares to object to small children (or anyone else, for that matter) being exposed to it is a busybody. Sorry, I don't buy that argument.

This is like saying that we can't object to or attempt to pass laws concerning any activity, no matter how extreme it becomes, because any attempt to regulate it will cause life as we know it to end. This argument is (frankly) ludicrous. Adults accept that they have to coexist with other people and they can't do everything they want to in a crowded society. They can drive 70 mph but they can't drive 150.

They can play their stereo loudly indoors but they can't move their speakers outside and blast them at their neighbors at 3 am.

They have to work and play well with others.

And by the way, I don't even understand the point of this:

I share your desire to protect the weak: enough that I would gladly execute a man who raped a child or a woman, for film or for any other purpose. I would not even condemn a man who watches a film where two adults cavort consensually and playfully, or even violently-in-play; no more than I would condemn a man for smoking a pipe, which is probably worse for him.

To me it appears there is a whole scale of things of different character, some of which are evil; some of which are minor vices; and some of which may be harmless fun.

You can't know which is which, though, if you just lump them all together.

Has nothing to do with what we're talking about, or anything I've said in the past.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 26, 2008 11:51 AM

The one philosophically untenable position on the table here is the concept that people "know" what is right, that these things are "plain." That's one principle we can test against the world and discover is false.

Ah. So we cannot "know" murder is wrong until we murder.

We cannot "trust" rape is wrong until we go out and commit rape?

And however can we truly believe it is wrong to violate a child unless we have had that joyous experience for ourselves? The wonderful "outdoor" experience. C'mon Grim.

It's a lovely conceit but it is being strained WAY too far. And you are straining MY argument, which was made QUITE specifically in response to your limited premise that there are dark places in the human spirit that we are afraid to go.

And the panty display at VS is NOT one of them :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 26, 2008 11:57 AM

I never said that you had to personally commit the worst sort of evil to understand it. What I said was that you will not understand evil until you have seen it at work in yourself.

But we have arrived where we always do; you are once again not understanding what I'm saying, and you are asserting strongly that I've misunderstood everything you said.

I'll try one more time.

The lion metaphor was in response to your assertion that it was unnecessary and egotistical to explore the more difficult parts of humanity; you should instead, you said, simply 'do what is right because it is right.'

My point regarding the lions (which are symbolic of the dangerous parts of the self) is that you need to go and see the thing in order to realize just how dangerous it really is; and to understand its mode of operation, so you will know just what you should do to control it.

That act is what real morality is about. It is about trying to understand the true, deep nature of humanity -- the good and the bad parts, fully. One then does not simply know what the rules are, but one understands why they are the rules. Further, one can forgive others more readily for their failings, being more aware of one's own.

Ah. So we cannot "know" murder is wrong until we murder.

Another problem for philosophical discussion is the use of loaded words. "Murder" is defined as a kind of killing that is always wrong; therefore, it makes no sense to say that murder might not be wrong.

All people recognize that there are two categories: a kind of killing that is wrong ("murder"), and a kind that is not. What there will not be agreement about, among humanity, is just which case goes in just which category.

Some people (Quakers, for instance) believe that the second set is empty: all killing is wrong. They believe that the harm done to your soul by hurting another is of greater importance than the harm done to your body if you don't fight back; and so they don't license even self-defense.

It's a tautology to say that things in the category of wrong are wrong; the important questions are just what goes in that category, and why. It is on those questions that there is not agreement -- you can rather plainly observe that there is not, not merely on the question of exactly what constitutes murder, or rape, but on any moral question.

Just asserting that 'people know' what is 'right' because it's 'plain' leaves you with Afghans who believe it is plainly right for them to marry 11 year old girls; and indeed, marriage of that sort was probably the rule through human history. If you want to explain why what seems plainly right and honest to them is in fact wrong, you have to make an argument; and that argument has to stand up against the real world, the one in which they live and the one in which you do.

That's what I'm saying here, and I don't think it's terribly controversial. There simply is no agreed-upon human morality. That's a fact we can observe.

If you want to grapple with the questions of whether their moral certainties are right, or whether ours are -- well, that's just what I'm saying you should do. Activity of that type is just what I think is the real purpose of life. Reaching across cultures and trying to derive the deeper truths, though, requires reaching down into that basic, shared human nature. You have to go and see what is really there, because it was their starting point as well as ours.

Posted by: Grim at January 26, 2008 11:10 PM

Are you sure you have not been sat upon by a horse?

Posted by: Cassandra at January 27, 2008 12:52 AM

It's been almost a year since the last time.

Posted by: Grim at January 27, 2008 02:39 AM

A lion then, perhaps... :p

Dangerous things, lions.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 27, 2008 06:17 AM

I read a work of anthropology once that explored how humanity had developed, in its early evolution, alongside the lion -- and how important that fact was in informing early human cultures and myths. I wish I could recall the name of the work, because it was fascinating; but it's why I chose lions for the metaphor of the darker human drives.

Posted by: Grim at January 27, 2008 09:55 AM

No, if you are to have men who are lion slayers, they must go and slay lions. It is the only way to prove the knowledge and test the strength.

Similar to the belief that the real test of whether a person is a Marine or not rests in combat. Situations in which they want to kill you, and you can't get out of it without killing them.

Some people who 'go out' will, of course, be eaten by the lions. This is not avoidable: if you are to have the benefit, you must have the risk.

Like how Deebow got out of Afghanistan with only abrasion injuries, but got his leg shattered in the States. Safety is only a relative concept, depending upon such things as luck, skill, and what other people are doing, allied or enemy.

The question then becomes "how do you protect children" with the minimum amount of risk and the maximum chance of survival or prosperity? Risk and chance is often at odds with the other. Even risk and safety are often at odds, as Deebow proved.

So, 'doing the right thing for its own sake' is not adequate. It is not adequate because 'doing the right thing' is not enough. You must understand why it is the right thing -- and you cannot really know that until you've seen the lion.

This is reflected in the fact about how people believe that Shariah is a more just and fair system of laws than America's system. Those that like Shariah, often start disliking it when they actually live under it.

I'm not familiar with the guy you ask me about, and having not seen his method, I can't tell you if it works.

I bought his nuclear weapons package, dealing with knives, firearms, and blunt force trauma objects, in the Thanksgiving sale. I was reading his newsletter for awhile before.

To cut through the advertisement and hype, there are some basic concepts and principles behind TFT, emphasized far more than the flashy techniques that they produce because they know people pay attention to techniques.

TFT is very similar to the reason why some people win wars and some people lose. Meaning, it shares many of the same characteristics such as "if you can function, you can fight and win" which is proven out by the Vietcong and NVA in Vietnam after Tet. They were injured, meaning part of their body could no longer function, but they were still fighting and thus won. Thus Tim Larkin puts great importance on the fact that so long as you are alive and conscious, you can fight the criminal and win, regardless of whether the criminal has cut you and you are bleeding all down your face. Regardless of whether you got sucker punched and are on the ground.

Concerning weapons, TFT shares the same philosophy as the Marines. The only real weapon we have is the human brain. Everything else are accessories. This is also an important object lesson in propaganda and psychological warfare fields. Such fields are effective in warfare, even though they avoid the use of conventional firepower, precisely because they target the human brain. Again, Tet has proven that no matter the disparity between strength, speed, tech, firepower, etc, so long as you have targeted and destroyed the enemy's brain, even if it is only his will to fight partition, you can still win.

TFT also breaks down violence into very easy to understand core parts, the Trinity of Violence they call it. This is nice because they are following the KISS principle, which can have very nasty consequences if violated in warfare and I presume it has similar consequences to individuals fighting for their lives. Leyte Gulf is one military example of what happens when you don't keep it simple.

TFT's training also takes into effect the OODA cycle Colonel um B something coined? Anyways, even though they don't say "OODA" loop/cycle, that is what they take into account when training their clients. For example, for you vs multiple enemies, they speak of how if you are trying to watch 2 or more people at once, your thinking speed is outnumbered in addition to your body. If you are up against an enemy, and you have to think about 5 things and he has to think about only one thing, killing you, his reactions and actions will always be faster than yours. This is reason why ROE often kills Americans and favors our enemies. Our enemies don't need to care about killing civilians, they have the media to cover for them. Americans have to worry about civilian casualties and even being prosecuted for collateral damage back home, as seen in the example "The One" written by the lone SEAL that survived a long range recon mission out of 4 total team members.

I brought the subject of TFT up because I found a couple of things they said and demonstrated about unarmed vs firearms to be relevant to what was discussed concerning Virginia Tech and various other incidents people see on the news. Often in military history you will see that weapons and soldiers that are good at a specific range, becomes ineffective past that range or inside that range. Take the Macedonian Phalanx for example. They had the long sarissa spears that was good at keeping heavy infantry, light infantry, and cavalry at bay. But once it got to CQB, then the pike phalanx suffers a major disadvantage. The emphasis on taking cover against opponents armed with ranged weapons, such as firearms, is an application of mobility in my view. If you can't take an enemy head on, then you got to flank them. Taking cover is simply another application of that concept.

TFT wraps up all those various different tidbits and comes up with this. You have to close the distance with an enemy that has a longer ranged weapon than you. Whether that be clubs or knives or guns. A club is really dangerous and fast at the end closest to you. That is where all the kinetic force is if you get hit by it. Get in closer, and the mechanical advantage goes away. The same way for the sarissa armed pike phalanxes. It also applies to ranged weapons such as skirmishers and snipers. Get in close enough to them, and they lose their ranged advantages. Which is probably why bayonets never became obsolete, even when the ranges on our weapons kept going up and up.

For guns, they admit it is a sucky situation having to take one guy down by just going up and getting into his personal space. About 1 and 1 1/2 feet, I think they said it was, where it is the optimum range from which you can injure another human being with your body.

A lot of the stuff about Virginia Tech didn't crystallize until I saw the DVDs. There was a lot of stuff I understood, but they weren't connected very strongly. I already understood that if a mass murderer is coming inside a classroom, the area you need to be is just beside the door, before watching the DVDs. But TFT actually explains why that is good. Instead of me having to figure out good tactics for every situation, their principles apply to every situation. No matter what it is. Which is why it is simple and easy to learn.

Hunnish and Parthian ambush tactics with their horse archers would also work in longhall ways. Just bait the enemy, with the shotgun, to pursue you into a room. The short term goal, is of course, to get close enough that his ranged weapon is no longer effective, because now he is in range of your body, which is your only weapon. He will still have an advantage, perhaps, but it is always better for the enemy to be in range of your weapons rather than hang out where you can't touch him and but he can fire at you. Something that applies to naval tactical problems too, I believe.

The point was that you don't have to actually go out and DO a bad thing to know it is bad and refrain from doing it.

Grim's point is that while this is true, you still get an advantage through experience. No matter how often or well you train, it is no substitute for real life experience. Is training useless? No. Do people have to push teenagers out into the mercenary war fields for them to learn about killing and war? No. In the end, 9/11 has proven that there is nothing more effective than experience in teaching people what they don't know or changing the beliefs of people.

The cost of experience is that often you don't survive it. That's the cost. Which is why veterans, blooded soldiers in war, are much much better at fighting than raw recruits.

The one philosophically untenable position on the table here is the concept that people "know" what is right, that these things are "plain." That's one principle we can test against the world and discover is false.

Morality is often a Brownian motion. In that it goes with the flow of the majority. How that majority ever got on that track of ethics, is of course, a different question.

some of it is immoral, but in the fashion of a vice

You define a vice as doing something that hurts yourself and removes your own happiness, correct?

They need to be that to survive, because otherwise people who disagree -- who have a different idea of what "plain" morality requires -- will just throw them off.

People like Jane Fonday still needs to be exiled from this country, if you ask me.

To me it appears there is a whole scale of things of different character, some of which are evil; some of which are minor vices; and some of which may be harmless fun.

I think Cass's point is that, on principle, you don't need to know evil for evil through experiencing and doing evil.

Sickness is when the body does not function as nature normally would have it-Grim

I think the argument can be made that Hollywood and decadent Western culture is a symptom of the sickness in civilizations, when civilizations lose the strength and wisdom to do the right things for themselves and others. If all your energies can no longer be put into wars of liberation or solving internal problems, then porn and decadence is always a "safe" alternative. It's not a good alternative, the good alternative is for people to pour their energies into productive activities. But given nihilism, socialism, Leftism, and people like Soros, that is not really easy. Although it never was easy, because people like Soros have always existed to put their bootheel on the powerless.

Grim, you are the one who went off on a tangent about the "dark side" of human nature and people doing things that were hardly harmless "entertainment":-C

Grim used the example of porn only because you were using it, Cass. His primary point is about the walls civilizaton builds to keep the barbarians out. On that scale, pornography almost doesn't come into the picture. Politics and treachery has a higher chance of opening the gates for the barbarians, than pornography would.

My comments were specifically addressing what you were talking about: things any normal person would clearly know to be wrong.-C

Grim doesn't think there is a "normal person", at least in the way you mean it.

Ah. So we cannot "know" murder is wrong until we murder.

There will be no agreement on murder being wrong, if only because you can't get every Muslim to agree with you. Maybe you could get terrorists to agree that murder is wrong by murdering enough terrorists to the point where terrorists are willing to stop murder entirely, if it means them not dying. That's kind of complex, but the principle is that people usually think "wrong" means what is wrong for them or what they don't like. People "know" murder is wrong because their society and laws has said "it will go badly for you if you murder or kill".

That is a trait of human nature, which I think Grim is pointing out can't be changed, thus not every human being will believe in what you believe, Cass, if only because they don't live in the same nation as you do. Even for those that do live in the same nation, they still make the choice of choosing a different ethics from yours.

hich was made QUITE specifically in response to your limited premise that there are dark places in the human spirit that we are afraid to go.

I think Grim is making the point that every human being has a dark side, thus if you cannot accept your own capacity for violence, hate, etc, then you will either become a Leftist or a terrorist. After all, one of the reasons for violence directed against women, Americans, Jews, and apostates by the Islamic war against goodness is that terrorists don't accept that evil comes from inside them and their actions. They think evil comes from women and the temptation they offer. A father kills his daughter because his daughter did evil by getting a boyfriend, is their justification and rationalization.

As for Leftists, the point about Clean Hands applies to them. Neo-Neocon also made that point, during her various posts concerning her progression from the Democrats to the right.

My point regarding the lions (which are symbolic of the dangerous parts of the self) is that you need to go and see the thing in order to realize just how dangerous it really is; and to understand its mode of operation, so you will know just what you should do to control it.-Grim

Grim, of course, is refering to the meta-concept of civilizatons building walls to keep the barbarians out. And then comes the Regiment to push the heathens out.

In this case, it is a wall built around our human soul by us. If we stay protected by the walls forever, we forget what is outside the walls and why we ever had those walls in the first place. Then we open the gate and in comes the barbarians.

Grim is stating that to protect against evil, whether it be terrorists or criminals, you have to deal with those people instead of ignoring them and going to parties all year like Hollywood does. The point is scaled down when applying to individual human beings, however, instead of macro scale civilizations.

That act is what real morality is about.

"real morality" as you term it, Grim, is better worded by calling it duty. People have certain duties based upon their jobs and roles in life, but this is a duty that all human beings have because they were born human. Again, we enter the realm of philosophy and metaphysics.

and that argument has to stand up against the real world, the one in which they live and the one in which you do.

That factor was always an interesting problem set to me when dealing with re-engineering societies. To a certain extent, people attempt to engineer societies because they believe a certain type of society is best for humanity in the world as it exists. To another extent, this belief is based upon the assumption of those people that the world is as they see it. Bad things can happen to a society engineered or re-engineered by people with blinders on. And yet the good that can come from a society modified by the optimum way of doing things, "efficiency", can be seen in the example of the United States of America. It is unquestionable that it would be a Good Thing (tm) for the entire world to have the same foundations as America. What they do with those foundations in their society, will of course, be their own choice, for good or ill. But having a good foundation is critical to ensuring that future generations don't crap out and burn. And the only really good foundation that we know exists comes from AMerican history, Roman history, and Greek history. I say foundation (singular) because each one was built upon the ruins of the other, sometimes literally but often figuratively.

I read a work of anthropology once that explored how humanity had developed, in its early evolution, alongside the lion

Would and could you summarize their conclusions for me?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 27, 2008 03:30 PM

Grim is arguing several positions I never opposed.

One of them being that everyone has a dark side. This requires no special insight or experience. I had that one figured out before I was 10 or 12. I didn't need to kill any lions, real or metaphorical. All I needed to do was open my eyes and pay my attention bill.

This is why we have rules.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 27, 2008 03:47 PM

Also, because of what I mentioned before, veterans are also smaller in number than raw recruits. Experience kills and that's why we don't have a lot of people with actual experience. Even if you just apply it to the job sector, where experience simply kills incompetence, people with experience are still scarce.

Recalling the thing about optimum ranges, I think .5 feet and 1 feet would be more accurate.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 27, 2008 03:47 PM

Grim is arguing several positions I never opposed.

One of them being that everyone has a dark side.

He is arguing them not necessarily because he thinks you disagree, but because he thinks it is true. Fundamentally, I think he recognizes that most of what he has stated doesn't really contradict your beliefs, but the devil is in the details.

One of them being that everyone has a dark side. This requires no special insight or experience.

But that is where he disagrees. Grim doesn't think people recognize their own dark side in the absence of special "insight or experience". Suffice it to say that people need a special interest to experience and understand themselves. Nobody was born comprehending the fundamental mysteries of the world or about themselves. People raised in certain cultures also don't automatically understand themselves, either. That is where wisdom comes into the picture.

So when Grim attempts to argue why people need experience in order to understand evil or their dark side or the dark side of other men and women, that is indeed an argument against something in your beliefs, Cass.

I had that one figured out before I was 10 or 12.

If everyone was like you, the world would be a different place, Cass ; )

Surely, you recognize this.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 27, 2008 03:54 PM

Oh. And I didn't say you could make everyone believe what you believe.

However, I disagree with Grim. I do think just about everyone (aside from people who are really mentally sick) has a moral sense. We "know" what things are healthy and unhealthy at the margins because most of those things involve the infliction of pain and misery for no real reason. People have an instinctive sense. They may not always follow it, but it is there.

Almost all cultures in the world abhor sadism unless they have found some social utility that they feel somehow outweighs the pain involved.

Almost all cultures in the world think it is wrong to have sex with children, and even little girls before they reach menarche (which can be very early - maybe 11 as in Grim's example). There may be cultures where the birthrate is low enough that social utility outweighs the normal cultural strictures that force people to treat women as barely above the level of animals. But don't confuse what John Kerry likes to call "consensus" with right and wrong. One of the best reasons for not having sex with children, besides the obvious reason that they can't consent, is that it often causes physical damage to their not-yet ready body parts.

Yeah.

However, that is a discussion for another day. Not going there.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 27, 2008 03:57 PM

And I didn't say you could make everyone believe what you believe.

Then why do you believe that people will naturally, if they are normal, believe in the same system of ethics on what is right and wrong?

If you can't make everyone believe in what you believe, then what does that make the people with different ethical systems from ours? Abnormal? Fundamentally different? I say no to the last two.

They are neither abnormal in the sense that normal is what is around them, nor are they fundamentally different, since we are all human beings. Even if some of us choose to be sociopaths.

Almost all cultures in the world think it is wrong to have sex with children

So if you can't make all the world agree on what ages children fall under, what do you make of the ones that expect 14 year olds to be adults?

If it doesn't require any experience with reality that you have and they don't, or they have and you don't, then why do they believe in different things than you do, Cass?

We "know" what things are healthy and unhealthy at the margins because most of those things involve the infliction of pain and misery for no real reason. People have an instinctive sense.

This subject is one that fits under epistemology, of course: the theory of knowledge or knowing how you can know something to be true. However, let's deal with the instincts of people.

Almost all cultures in the world think it is wrong to have sex with children, and even little girls before they reach menarche (which can be very early - maybe 11 as in Grim's example). There may be cultures where the birthrate is low enough that social utility outweighs the normal cultural strictures that force people to treat women as barely above the level of animals. But don't confuse what John Kerry likes to call "consensus" with right and wrong.

As I see it, the point you are making is that there is some fundamental reality or stimuli that human instincts responds to, that determines a universal, or at least global, ethics for the human race. And the foundation for that ethical system is that whatever damages the survival of the species is bad, such as hurting children or being anti-social.

That, however, is very similar to the point Grim was describing.

So what are you two disagreeing about, exactly, disregarding all the side issues such as lions? That reality is necessary ethics? No. That the human race has an instinct for self-preservation that has been produced through endless generations of experience with the consequences of reality? No to that as well.

People have an instinctive sense. They may not always follow it, but it is there.

If you ask me, that "instinctive sense" comes from experience, the same thing as what Grim is advocating for people to acquire. Without experience, there is no instinct, and without instinct, there's no automatic reason to live as opposed to dying.

I think we can agree that there is no automatic way in which people can come to an agreement on what constitutes correct ethics. That there is no automatic way in which a person acquires wisdom through experience, except just doing it.

Because instincts are not automatic, either, to me, I don't agree that people can know things as you, Cass, have refered to. Knowledge is a conscious decision made by people, either to accept or deny. While it is true that their ancestors learned through experience the hardway concerning survival, this is only passed down through the genes. A person won't know what his genes are telling him unless he actively goes out in pursuit of that knowledge and wisdom. And usually he won't get that without some life experiences to tie it to.

I disagree that any instinctual sense allows you to "know" anything, except that you are getting a funny feeling over certain stimuli. A person may feel instant fear at death and believe it to be "bad", but does that mean he knows why death is bad? Or that he has made the choice, the ethical choice, to treat death as bad or evil? I think not. I see people's instinctual responses as self-preservation, rather than ethics, because it isn't usually a choice people can make.

That sort of ties in with Grim's post about the Smell of Death, actually now that I think about it.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 27, 2008 05:15 PM

That reality is necessary ethics?

That should be necessary for ethics, not necessary ethics.

The no in response to what came after is "No, that isn't what the disagreement appears to be about".

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 27, 2008 05:19 PM

It doesn't take a genius to look at torture, rape, or unjustified killing and go "Wow. It would really suck if that happened to me. Maybe, in general, this is not a desirable thing to happen to ANYONE - my mom, my sister, my neighbor. In fact, that's just a really, really crappy thing for anyone to do, any time, for any reason, to anyone."

IT'S CALLED EMPATHY.

Again, you don't have to be a potential MIT grad to figure this one out. I had, at 10 or 12.

Posted by: Linda Greenhouse's House of Thai at January 27, 2008 06:00 PM

Oh.

And the very first time I saw a squirrel get run over by a car, I cried. I didn't have to be run over by a car myself, or know anyone else get run over.

I could make the mental connection: run over by car: not good.

You guys are stretching abstractions to the point where it really makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and the conversation just jumps the shark.

Posted by: Linda Greenhouse's House of Thai at January 27, 2008 06:02 PM

Empathy is not an instinct, or something that everyone has at all times. It's a choice, a choice you make because of your beliefs. It's a choice to feel or to see another entity as being equal to yourself. But that choice has limits. Even if a person makes the choice to live, he can still be killed. He is constrained by reality, and the same applies to empathy.

For others, like narcissists, that don't buy into this belief concerning equality, your system of "this is not a desirable thing to happen to ANYONE" no longer applies. This is due to the fact that narcissists don't see anyone else as even being a person, since the only real person that exists is the narcissist.

This is proto-typically the primary reason why human beings can slaughter each other so well. So long as you demonize the opposition and convince your supporters that these people we must kill are not people like us, then anything is possible.

This is the same point Grim made, that morality is relative, not relative absolutely, but just relative to a person and his situation or choices. If, to a person, he believes that other people he sees are only tools, not people, then that belief will determine his ethics and it won't matter if he is sensitive and empathic. In fact, narcissists are very sensitive to others emotions, like Bill Clinton and John Kerry. That is how they can cause so much damage, due to the fact that they know how you think and feel. But your feelings and thoughts are nothing but inanimate objects to them, less important than a clipped fingernail.

To frame it into the concrete, a person will end up with different ethics than yours, if he doesn't successfully empathize with the plight of others. In order to develop one's empathy abilities so that it is effective in giving a person a specific set of ethics, one must do as Grim suggested. Which is that you must recognize that what can happen to the squirrel or another entity can also happen to you. You may think this is simple or obvious or that anyone can do it. So let's advance it from the squirrel to the more complex interactions of humanity.

Demonization of human enemies states that the enemy does things that are so barbaric and cruel, that it differentiates them from us, the true human beings, that would never do such things. This is why we must kill all of them.

The above is one example-scenario of what occurs without empathy forged through choice and experience. If you don't have experience, if you haven't actually seen the Jews or know them to be people, you can easily be swayed by such indoctrination at an early age. Then where will your empathy be, Cass? People can only empathize with other people if they can put themselves into the other entity's perspective. But if you have no experience of the Jews, and if you believe in the propaganda that these Jews are blood drinking monsters, then can you really put yourself into the monster's shoes and sympathize with the monster? Maybe one or two might, certainly Leftists do, but as a general guideline it doesn't work. People don't empathize with what they see as monsters, because they don't see themselves as being capable of monstrous acts. And there's a specific genetic reason for that as well. And probably a psychological one as well.

A person can not only choose to ignore another's pain, he can also be incapable of empathizing with another's pain, if he has not been in a similar situation himself.

Cass, you seem to be implying that anyone has this empathy ability, or at least most normal people can be expected to see another in pain and feel it themselves. That is just not true. There are people on this world that don't give a damn what happens to others. And this may not just be because of a choice they have made to become enemies of humanity, it can also come about because they just didn't have the life experiences to understand the pain being inflicted. If you are ignorant of pain being inflicted on another, can you truly empathize with that pain, Cass?

For Leftists in America, did they choose to not empathize with what the South Vietnamese suffered... or were they incapable of empathy because by living in America they could no longer even imagine what other people have to go through in life?

This is not a thing of abstractions, after all.

In fact, that's just a really, really crappy thing for anyone to do, any time, for any reason, to anyone.

That is an abstract belief that all humans can have. But not every human sees other people as deserving of the same consideration that they give to themselves.

The war between Comanche and white settlers around Texas is a great example of what happens to people that lack experience of the life of the other.

Theoretically I can accept that all human beings, even sociopaths to a certain degree, can see another in pain and imagine themselves to be in that situation. But it doesn't necessarily make those people adopt your ethics, Cass. Malignant narcissists are very sensitive to the pain they cause, which is why they are so effective.

That's just one example. In order to summarize, since human beings are fallible, we need as much help as we can. We just can't rely upon instincts, self-preservation, common sense, or empathy to determine what is right or wrong. All of those things can be corrupted. Common sense can be wrong. Tradition can be wrong. Self-preservation in certain situations is evil. Following one's instincts can often destroy a person faster than anything else. Empathy can be turned from compassion to cruelty. We need something more.

What humanity needs is to see with their own eyes what their reality is. To determine whether what they have been told about the Jews truly is true or right. To determine how another culture lives, to better understand the pain or joy those in that culture feel. Best way to do that is to experience and live in that culture.

The world is a violent place. That's why there is a need to learn about violence. The same applies to evil. You do not need to do evil acts to learn about evil, but to the Leftists that supported the withdrawal from Vietnam, few things were as effective as the experience of witnessing mass genocide and the boat people of South Vietnam fleeing to America. I hear many, who were Leftists and Democrats during Vietnam, regret their actions on the comments at Neo-Neocon. And this was for people who only observed the consequences of their actions. They did not "experience it" if by experience you mean live out the fall of Saigon in Vietnam. Nor were they the ones who made the decision to abandon the Vietnamese, which was an evil decision as well as a dishonorable one. They simply supported that decision and thought it was right. Human fallibility right there, which experience might have corrected, but the media did not allow the true story of Vietnam to be told.

It is not guaranteed that people will do the right things. Even if people see the consequences of their actions, they can still reject it as real, and thus destroy the usefullness of any potential experience to be had. Ted Kennedy saw plenty concerning what happened when he and his fellows destroyed South Vietnam. It ain't hurting him none.

The experience of seeing evil, being around it, being part of it, is a powerful lesson. It is not the only lesson or method of learning, however, but it is still one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful.

In the end, I must make the distinction between empathy, putting yourself into another person's shoes, and comprehending another's pain as they felt it. Those are not the same thing. The former is imagining what you would feel, the latter is understanding what another felt. It is loosely connected to psychoanalysis and the concern over whether therapists can help without experience or without putting themselves in their patient's shoes (what did they call it, transference?) I simply think the latter would help human beings more, and you can only get the latter through learning.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 27, 2008 07:50 PM

I didn't have to be run over by a car myself, or know anyone else get run over.

Neo had up another piece in his Change series.

link

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 27, 2008 07:51 PM

So you are telling me that a normal human being, watching someone being raped or tortured (remember that we were discussing EXTREMES of the spectrum of human behavior here, and not lions) would not realize pain was being inflicted?

I cannot think of a single psychiatrist that would agree with you Ymar. What you describe is either a psychopath or a sociopath.

Posted by: Linda Greenhouse's House of Thai at January 27, 2008 07:55 PM

And again, I never said it was guaranteed people would do the right things.

I can't imagine why anyone would advance an argument I have never made and I won't bother to bat it down. Again.

Posted by: Linda Greenhouse's House of Thai at January 27, 2008 07:57 PM

"OODA loop... Colonel uh B something..."

Boyd. :)

I think Cass and I have a handshake agreement to let this subject go, which I'm going to honor. She clearly believes she has been misunderstood to the point that we are only addressing things she didn't say; and actually, I feel the same way about her counterarguments, which seem pointed at arguments I never tried to make. I don't think she's deliberately misunderstanding me in order to set up strawmen; I think she just doesn't understand what I'm saying.

It's plain she feels the same way in return.

Perhaps in a few months, we'll try again and get better results. There's some subtle problem with this subject that prevents us from understanding each other, some term or underlying understanding that is confusing us. This happens occasionally even among friends, usually due to the limitations of language in expressing thoughts.

What matters, for now, is to preserve our friendship, which is more important than any given argument. You're welcome to carry it forward if you like, and if she doesn't kill you, but I'll withdraw at this time. :)

Posted by: Grim at January 27, 2008 11:12 PM

So you are telling me that a normal human being, watching someone being raped or tortured (remember that we were discussing EXTREMES of the spectrum of human behavior here, and not lions) would not realize pain was being inflicted?-Cass

If your point is that "realizing pain is being inflicted" is somehow connected to human instincts and human empathy, then no, I don't think that everyone has the same instincts or the same capacity for empathy.

They may understand the pain they inflict intellectually, but it is not the same thing as empathy, which you mentioned.

And again, I never said it was guaranteed people would do the right things.

But you are saying that people are guaranteed to feel certain things when in extreme situations? Let's assume for the sake of argument that people feel the pain they inflict on others or see inflicted on others. If that was true, for all normal human beings, then why wouldn't all normal human beings be able to do the "right things" and avoid cruelty, etc.. ?

Yet, as we can see, normal people are every bit as capable of insensitivity, abrasiveness, misunderstanding, and the infliction of pain, intentional or not. If it was true that all normal human beings felt what you said they would feel, Cass, then why are the behaviors and beliefs of those human beings so different from each other?

There's some subtle problem with this subject that prevents us from understanding each other, some term or underlying understanding that is confusing us.-Grim

I think there is a slightly higher chance of success by looking outside the box, for conflicts that we can mostly agree upon such as Vietnam, in order to compare the cards on the table.

To me, most of America was normal when they decided to let the South Vietnamese fall. Did Americans feel the pain they inflicted? In most cases, no, because they never saw the consequences of their actions. But there were some that knew what happened and saw it with their own eyes, those people don't feel anything either for the S Vietnamese.

That problem is solved through experience. Meaning, you can't convince either side in a war to feel lovely dovy things for the other. It is only after a victory or defeat that those things can come about, the experience of defeat or victory gives humans a chance to bridge the gap. Most people don't take that chance. Most people and nations don't know how to take it.

9/11 was an experience that convinced many Democrats of the consequences of their actions to real people. But there are just as many Democrats and Leftists that feel compassion and empathy for people in their family, but feel nothing for the plight of foreigners or Others, such as the military. Is their capacity for compassion, feeling, and empathy different from mine or neo-conservatives and classical liberals? I don't believe so. Yet regardless of what their capacity or abstract theoretical potential is, the reality is that they don't feel or seem even aware of the pain and damage they inflict on others.

To make a long point short, a Leftist can watch their enemies being staked, crucified, and raped and they will feel nothing, because they have already deceived themselves to the point where "feeling" is the same as "dying". As the Soviet defectors working in psychological warfare have told us, you can show a useful idiot the death and concentration camps in Russia yourself, they still won't believe you. They won't believe you until THEY are the ones suffering and being put to work on 1000 calories a day. Then they will believe and be capable of feeling empathy for others in the same situation.

The human capacity for self-deception is much greater, in my view, than the human capacity for compassion or empathy. Experience is one of the only advantages the species have in destroying that self-deception.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 28, 2008 11:52 AM

What I said, a long time back Ymar, was that normal human beings realize that certain things are wrong. Normal kids don't torture small animals. That is the marker of a sociopath. An animal is not like them, but they can understand that much, that inflicting pain is not "right" on some level.

Some people do ignore that feeling. They may even come to enjoy the infliction of pain or the sensation of doing wrong. This is really pretty obvious stuff. If this were not so, there wouldn't be violent porn, now would there?

I don't want to go round and round on this. We are not going to agree. I am not (and have not) said that everyone feels these things to the same degree. I specifically said several times that people can (and do) ignore what they ought to know to be right. And again, that's obvious just from our every day experience so it is really hard to see (even if I hadn't said it, which I did - several times) how anyone would think I was advancing that argument. It undercuts my whole point about the dangers of viewing perverse stuff outweighing any potential benefit.

The obvious danger (which Grim didn't really touch on, because it undercut HIS argument) is that some people really DO enjoy that stuff. They come to enjoy doing wrong, inflicting pain, etc. They conflate inflicting pain with sex until they can't enjoy sex without inflicting pain or violence. That is what is perverse - that what should be an act of love becomes the opposite.

That is why we should protect children, who don't yet have experience of normal sex, from having their first "imprinting" experience of sex be that of powerfully violent or perverse images that have the effect even on normal adults of causing them, oftentimes, to cease to enjoy normal sex and only become aroused in the presence of violence and pain.

I really should not have to explain these things. Desensitization is not a new phenomenon. But when I am talking about something specific and people want to talk in euphenisms, that is exactly what happens. And euphenisms are a form of self-deception.

And FWIW, I don't think Leftists, per se, are any different than we are. There are Righties who are just as big wack jobs as anyone on the left. It is just a matter of who holds the whip hand. People are people.

At any rate I agree with Grim. I am not going to talk about this any more because I do not wish to lose my temper. It has been a long week and it is only Monday. So let's let it go, OK? :)

Posted by: Cassandra at January 28, 2008 12:26 PM

Not a problem.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 28, 2008 07:36 PM

Thank you :)

As Grim said, friendship is too enjoyable to risk it over a topic that isn't that important. And I do enjoy your commentary here very much, Ymar :)

I have just had a long week and I don't think we were getting anywhere. This has happened with other topics and other people - sometimes you just get to the point where people aren't communicating anymore for whatever reason, and it becomes time to let it go, even among friends. That is why we always stay friends here, I hope.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 28, 2008 08:01 PM

> Don't take this as being aimed at you Grim, women are all too conscious that there are way too many guys out there who don't mind forcing a woman, or roughing her up. In fact, they enjoy it.

Cass, unfortunately, I suspect there is a measure in some women who either accept such or even enjoy it -- don't get me wrong, I'm most def. not advocating the activity, but I suspect that there is a semblance of masochism in women which balances out with the same sadistic tendencies you note in men.

I think this tendency in women lies behind the unfortunate fact of women who stick around with a wife beater or other abusive, negative relationships. Some of it's environment (i.e., training from youth that "this is love" in a sick/perverse way), but I would not be amazed to discover that there is a genetic component to it, too -- it seems reasonable to presume that, historically, a woman who accepted and/or enjoyed being taken against her will had a survival trait that helped in violent times and places, which is much of human history.

I know that runs counter to the feminist mantra, but I do think it has a ring of rational truth.

I also think it would be impossible to release a study suggesting that, since any author would be pilloried by feminists for daring to suggest it.

*********************************
I believe both tendencies appear to lie on the animal level, and, as **humans**, we ideally learn to rise above them.
*********************************

And there lies the difference. We need to learn to rise above our darker natures -- call it "original sin", or just our animal inheritance, as you will -- but learning to deal with it without succumbing to it is one of the key lessons for parents to teach their kids, and I don't think sheilding your kids from it will prepare them for the Real World.


It's there, it's not going away, and there IS no way to stop its presence. Kiddie porn is, presumably, very hard to find, but the fact that they regularly bust internet rings of this stuff suggests that it's still going to be out there forever -- and kiddie porn can at least be demonstrably connected to the activity of child abuse (people who watch it are MORE likely to act on their impulses) -- unlike even the darker sort of "violent" porn -- which tends to be cathartic (i.e., observers tend to be less likely to act on their impulses, if the society does not condone the actions).

This is the downside of the Internet's freedoms -- with the freedom to speak out against any subject comes the right to speak in favor of any subject, including things like NAMBLA. Granting anyone the power to suppress one meme eventually leads to granting *someone* the power to suppress ANY meme. All that has to be done is to phrase it into a form of "public danger".

...And if you say "that can't happen here", well, yeah, it CAN and does. The fact that RICO was passed "to go after mobsters" has not prevented the Fed from using it to seize the property of random people -- and within six months of the initial passage of the Patriot Act (which I'm neutral on) the DoJ was holding seminars for *local* law enforcement on how they could use it in their own cases (i.e., NOT against terrorists).

Give the government a power, and they will use it to excess. And government excesses are far more dangerous than private, individual ones, pretty much by definition. Always keep that in mind.

Posted by: obloodyhell at January 30, 2008 06:13 PM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)