“Hopkins: In all my years, I never seen, heard, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about. Hell Yes!! I’m for debating anything!! Rhode Island says Yea!” – 1776, the Musical
My life is a well written novel, with careful attention paid to the threading in of sub-plots and themes. Or perhaps my being human (shuddup. I checked.) I notice things in clumps that make sort of sense together. (Since whatever else the human brain does, every human brain is really good at discerning patterns.)
Kate’s post on Monday happily stomped into “forbidden territory,” i.e. the idea that human behavior might be shaped by heredity and that, in turn, by selection.
Although I disagree with her in the particular instance of the American population with more African ancestry being shaped in a certain way, she could be right. I mean, I think she didn’t take some factors into account and also that this population has more in common (genetically) with the white population here at the time than is acknowledged. (Not that I disagree both populations were affected by natural selection – duh – just the extent of it and how long it takes for such effects to be visible.)
But the important thing about this is that I don’t know, and neither does Kate. Why not? Because there are no large scale population studies, not even at the most rudimentary level.
This is almost astounding, given that we have the capacity to sequence the human genome and how many private individuals are paying for a report of their “deep ancestry”.
You’d think someone with a grant would already have waded in and there would be something like “x percentage of American people descended from African slaves also have significant/more than x percent genetic material from Northern Europe.”
If those exist, they’re buried so deep in geneticists journals that no peep has leaked into the popular science publications. And I have trouble imagining those wouldn’t hit the papers, either as evidence of the “rape” of African populations. (Wags hand. Debatable. Morally rape, perhaps, since there was a strong imbalance of power, but if we’re going to use that gage, then almost every human copulation is rape, since there’s never a perfect balance of power. And women are hypergamic, so they gravitate like magnets to the most powerful man around.) or as proof that ebony and ivory should live together in perfect harmony, or that it’s time to avenge past wrongs, or what have you.
Either the lack of such reports or their being buried deep would come from the same issue: race as a genetic factor, and not as a collection of physical characteristics; race, particularly as it might affect cognitive or genetic characteristics is a huge, horrible taboo.
Part of this is the fear of eugenics, the fear of the human brain assigning a value judgement to statistical racial characteristics.
At the same time, Marxist dialects requires that there be classes of people that struggle against each other, and modern Marxism has substituted races and some cultures for “classes” (the whole third world model of Marxist revolution which turns the people of the “underdeveloped” nations into the proletarians that so disappointed the Marxists.) You’re supposed to be interchangeable with anyone the same race and sex (sex as a class exists, of course. As everything else it’s a “construct” – a biologically illiterate perspective that denies science and also a contradiction that makes my head hurt) and stand in solidarity with them. (This is the basis of calling people race and gender traitors, because you’re enlisted into these neat little armies at birth. I really think progressives suffer from self-induced profound Aspergers. Kind of the opposite about how many people in the spectrum study to appear and be normal. They study on how not to understand human individuality and see only categories and ranks. Go figure.)
Imagine the disarray to this theory if you figured out that those neat races, regardless of expressed characteristics, are not anywhere near as uniform as you’d think. Some people might look like they belong to a race and have more genetics in common with someone of another apparent race. Horrors! Confusion! It would be the proving planned economies are inferior to free ones, all over again.
Anyway, so the same day that Kate broached this “forbidden” topic of genetics as they touch behavior, I happened to traipse onto a forum on a subject I’m marginally attached to (would you believe crochet?) and found a micro-cosmos of the battles in Gaming and Science fiction.
A more subdued micro cosmos, mind, in that someone had stated an “unacceptable to the left” opinion, and this was spreading in ripples through the community.
I don’t know anyone in the community, and the opinion was mild (that 19th century designs are superior to the modern ones) but the pattern of behavior was clear. (And if I could remember the fargin site, reached after searching for one particularly pattern of cherubs and birds which I lost two moves back, I’d link it.)
Someone had said something unacceptable and people who I presume are extreme left (since who else would bring up European “aggression” and “colonialism” in conjunction with filet crochet) were not only denouncing the person who said it, but also denouncing everyone who was INSUFFICIENTLY VITUPERATIVE while referring to this person.
It made me blink, and stare at it. I’ve seen it often enough, of course, and many times I agree that the ideas stated are incredibly repulsive. I always tend to have trouble denouncing the PERSON saying it though, and I often will say something like “Yeah, but the person is just bringing it up for discussion” and thus I end up getting lumped in with the “insufficiently vituperative.”
This of course happened with the blog that shall not be named and the misnamed organization (unless the initial S stands for Socialist-Fiction.) I can’t get anyone on the other side of politics to UNDERSTAND that there are no unacceptable thoughts, and there are no unacceptable words. There are unacceptable actions. But that’s something else. Words, no matter how horribly offensive are not in themselves a crime. (Also in that particular case, if you’re going to criminalize certain class of words you have to do it regardless of who says them. Or in that particular case, if you’re going to throw one of the sides of a stupid argument out, you throw out both of them.)
It’s very important to me that there be no word-crimes and no thought-crimes.
Before you say “but you block some people for saying certain things.” Why, yes. My blog is my living room, and the commenters are my guests. To allow certain discussion in this PRIVATE venue, owned by me, is to invite the sort of chaos and unpleasantness that will drive off decent and well behaved commenters whom I prefer to have around.
OTOH the things I ban people for aren’t things I think it should be illegal to say in public venues, or to promulgate in one’s own blog.
Look, it’s not that I don’t think there are ideas so horrible, so evil that my mind shies away from them. Say child-rape. I think it’s a horrible, atrocious idea which makes me cringe and which I frankly don’t want to listen to.
It was also a “respectable” psychological opinion in the seventies, in Europe at least. If you read psychological journals at the time (yeah, I was an odd kid) you’d come across the idea that having sex with adults was good for children.
The root of it wasn’t hard to find, either. If you were serious about the various bastardized versions of Freudianism and believed that most neurosis came about through sexual repression much of it pre-puberty, you’d believe that helping the children not be sexually frustrated was good for them.
In various ways, and sometimes painfully, we’ve since found this was very, very wrong and the results of such things horrific.
So, should the topic not be discussed at all and no studies ever done on it? No.
Part of the reason that this became an acceptable “scientific” theory was that sex has always been sort of taboo so no serious studies/literature had accrued to it, and so it was easy for the bastard children of Freud to tell just so stories about ‘sexual repression’ being the font of all ills.
As horrible, as evil as the topic is, I don’t think it should be shut down, particularly if it’s a topic of discussion, not endorsement. If it’s a topic of endorsement, provided the person endorsing it is not acting on it, it too is not a reason to shut the person down.
Yeah, it’s horrible. Yeah, it would offend me. Yeah, it might convert some soft custard-heads into thinking it’s a reasonable thing. BUT it gives the sane people a chance to counter it, and, more importantly, to sharpen ones arguments against it.
If it’s never discussed, then in a hundred years it will be all new again, and no one will have any ready arguments or examples against it.
To the extent that science fiction (as opposed to fantasy) serves a useful societal purpose (not, understand , that I believe literature has to be useful to be good. That’s a stupid Marxist concept. Literature has to be felt at a deep, resonating and universal level to be what I consider good, but it doesn’t have to “be good for society” or “the community” to be good. Mostly because, who the h*ll judges what is good) it is the examination of these, otherwise difficult topics in a construct that allows people to think of them as they would not be able to otherwise.
In science fiction you can examine such things as “would the involuntary sacrifice of some individuals be worth it if it bought happiness for all other people?” or “Would an alien species have the moral right to replace humans with something more acceptable?” or “Would it be acceptable to eliminate all males/females in the cause of universal peace?”
All of these ideas are or should be difficult and repulsive to many people, but all of them involve moral judgements that each generation needs to stay clear on.
Because when you stop talking about evil, it sneaks in in another way, wearing moustache and sunglasses. Our obsession with (great) evils of national socialism, for instance, allowed many to blind themselves to the equally great if different evils of international (which somehow always means Russian-national) socialism. Our horror of eugenics allows things like abortion which targets certain ethnic neighborhoods to fly under the radar.
I don’t think there is any circumstance under which child-rape would be considered good. Now maybe future humans will think this is my own cultural blindness. I’m fine with that. I don’t think there is any way to consider it good and would be deeply suspicious of any society that endorsed it.
But not barring discourse on it makes it possible for us to keep our thought on why it’s evil sharp and prevents that (imho terrible) child-rape-condoning civilization from arising.
It’s curious that the left thinks it should not only disapprove of but shut discussion on anything they disagree with. It’s curious that they suffer the totalitarian impulse to persecute people for “thought crimes.”
It is almost as though they believe their ideas are a fragile construction that will only survive so long as it doesn’t come in contact with opposing opinions or even with any evidence that reality might, in any way contradict them. And that they’re so hyper-sensitive to it that they wouldn’t allow even discussion of things in which they are probably right, as according to a vast swath of rational thinking people.
Because, you see, robust philosophies with broad contact with reality and how things work, encourage discussion which can only prove them right.
It is lies that are so frail the slightest breeze of dissent will blow them away.
As though they’d never been.