Monday, June 25, 2012

Voyeurism, Feminism, and Social Justice

You can call me a creep or a pervert if you want, but frankly, my opinion is that if your panties are visible in public (that is, there exists an unobstructed line of sight from your panties to the open air, regardless of the angle you'd have to be looking at to see them), then you're exposing yourself (literally) to the possibility that someone may see them or, worse yet, get a picture of them. And that's really nothing to get upset about. I mean, who gives a flying fuck if somebody gets off on seeing your panties in public? And if you absolutely cannot stand the thought, then perhaps you should wear pants instead, or at least put on shorts underneath your skirt. It's simple logic to me.

I mean, really, it may creep you out to think that somebody would post surreptitious upskirt shots for the gratification of anonymous perverts online, but who does that really hurt? And how is it any worse than the government and business establishments spying on you every moment you stand within their jurisdiction? Why is voyeurism okay if a person is protecting his personal property or business interests, but not if he's looking for a sexual thrill? Are we all such modest prudes that we think a person is soiled and degraded and violated if somebody else finds them (or parts of them) to be sexually attractive and uses that image or thought to achieve orgasm in a way that doesn't even involve the knowledge, let alone the harassment, of the individual in question?

If you're a woman and you go out topless (assuming you live somewhere where that's legal), nobody has the right to sexually harass you or intimidate you, but you're crazy if you think men ought to be required to avoid checking out your breasts, and neither are you entitled to special protections from the rules of public photography. That's not to say that people can't cross the line into harassment in the course of checking you out and taking photographs of you, but the simple fact of being checked out or photographed (in public) does not necessarily constitute harassment in and of itself.

Wearing a skirt is absolutely not an invitation to harassment, abuse, or assault. But it may very well be an invitation for attention, even if just the visual kind, and there is nothing unjust about that.

If my dedication to feminism seems less than sincere, it's because "women" are probably one of the largest minorities in the population, and there are far more, far smaller minorities, who are being subjected to far greater discrimination and mistreatment than women are at the hands of "the patriarchy". That's not to say that dealing with women's issues is not crucial to the construction of a more just society, but I'm a little bit more concerned about those other minorities - particularly the sexual minorities, who suffer immensely at the hands of the 'morally righteous' who wield a lot of power within the current social structure (with or without constituting a strict majority, thanks to their deeply-ingrained cultural brainwashing - if you think I'm being paranoid, let me ask you this, what sort of attitudes toward sex do we teach children, both consciously and, especially, subconsciously? Not just priests and conservatives, but even the liberals and freedom fighters among us - who are nevertheless still obedient state-fearing individuals. And do we honestly expect our kids to suddenly overturn the entire developmental foundation of their attitudes toward sex the day they turn 18, or whatever the age of consent is in your jurisdiction?).

So although I have nothing but respect for the female half of the population (in fact, I generally like them better than the other half), I am particularly sensitive to attempts to liberate one subset of the population at the expense of another (like how nudists raise themselves up in the process of denigrating sexuality, so as to gain favor in the eyes of the morally righteous who wield so much power over our culture). And so if certain feminist initiatives exist at the expense of a positive sexual outlook (this is obvious in the sex-negative feminist discourse, but more subtle, and thus more concerning to me, in allegedly sex-positive, or sometimes sex-neutral, feminist discussions), I'm going to address that concern. Because, ultimately, the path towards greater social justice is going to have to embrace, sooner or later, a different approach toward sexuality than the one we currently have, and my opinion is that the sooner we deal with that, rather than allow our current dysfunction to fester and spoil every other social advancement we accomplish, the better off we'll all be.

I mean, seriously, wouldn't you rather a guy give you a thumbs up for flashing your panties rather than another woman shout "slut" at you? In what twisted universe is slut shaming no worse (if no better) than the acknowledgement of sexual excitement? Oh, that's right, a universe where sex is evil and all men are rapists. A universe where male desire is but a weapon used to degrade and objectify women, rather than one side of an equation balanced by female desire, both of which can combine, under the right circumstances, to form a beautiful union of flesh and/or soul.

But you don't even need a male and a female to accomplish that. I fail to see why, in this modern age, we are still so overly concerned with gender. Males bonding with males, females bonding with females. And all sorts of persons who don't fall into the gender binary, expressing themselves in unique and creative and sometimes unprecedented ways. If you ask me, 'feminism' is passé. That's no slight against females. It's a recognition of everything else in this radically diverse world.

How can you limit yourself so much, to the point of saying, 'it is of unique importance to focus on the plight of women' in today's society? The plight of women is no more or less important than the plight of homosexuals, the plight of transgender and transsexual individuals, and the plight of any number of minorities, the smallest of which is the individual. To be a humanitarian is not to focus on one to the exclusion of others, but to embrace them all with equal respect. Of course, I recognize that your interest and personal experience will lead you to one or another plight above and beyond the others. But in your pursuit of social justice, you must not neglect the plights of others, and be careful not to advocate change that benefits you over the rights of some others.

True equality is not gender equality but equality of the individual, whether man, woman, gay, straight, androgynous, gender fluid, republican, democrat, ex-patriot, otherkin...or anything else that exists somewhere in the grand database of human imagination.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Line Between Discomfort and Harassment

There is currently a lot of debate in the atheist blogosphere, of which I've only been vaguely attentive to, on account of my following Greta Christina's (amazing) blog, about the alleged problem of sexual harassment at skeptics conferences and in the skeptical community at large (which may not be unique to the skeptical community - on the contrary, the skeptical community may be unique in confronting the issue rather than ignoring it). Though I'm an atheist, and am skeptical by nature, I don't really absorb myself in that community, simply because I'd rather spend my time thinking about sex. So normally I'd avoid addressing an issue like this one, not least of which for the reason that I'm not familiar enough with it to make any kind of informed or authoritative statements or suggestions. But in casually reading up on some of the discussions, which touch on topics of sexual harassment and the battle between liberty and safety in the public square, there was one thing nagging at me that I felt in a unique position to address, given my background.

Naturally, the discussion is deeply rooted in feminist issues, specifically involving sexual harassment and victimization and male privilege and the male sex drive as a predatory impulse. I don't enjoy criticizing feminism, because doing so makes you seem extremely insensitive to women's issues (which I am not), but on the other hand - and as a skeptic, this should be important - feminism, like religion, is not sacred, and is not above criticism. As an arguably transgender person, who inarguably dresses like a girl in public, and frequently feels uncomfortable on account of my fears that someone might see me as a man in a dress, get offended, and decide to hurt me, I understand what it's like to go out in public and not feel entirely safe. But where I do like to argue about the behavior and attitudes people have that contribute to a paranoid, unfriendly environment, I'm careful not to let my claim to "victimization" give me an unfair advantage at the cost of other people's fundamental rights and liberties.

So, for example, if a mechanic whistles at me, that may make me feel self-conscious, but I'd be a fool to describe it as "harassment". If, on the other hand, the mechanic walked up to me and grabbed my arm because I ignored him, that's assault, plain and simple. But just because one person's form of expression makes me feel uncomfortable, doesn't mean that I have the right to suppress it. I like the idea of there being 'safe spaces' where I don't have to feel on edge, but the fact of the matter is, it's a dangerous world out there, and the public is a space that's shared by many different people with many different perspectives.

But there's another issue to all of this, and that's one that touches on ingrained sex negativity (to add to all of the ingrained misogyny flying around), and is therefore of more interest to me personally. And because the focus of the debate is all on the misogyny, the sex negativity (which is, after all, an old tradition in certain strains of feminism) gets unfairly ignored.

I'm a fan of the peace and love attitude engendered by the hippie generation, and there's a quote I've always liked that's spoken in the Woodstock film documentary (I was unfortunately not born until well after the Woodstock event, and therefore could not attend). I don't remember it word for word, but to paraphrase, it was something like this: "if you're afraid to even walk out your door, what kind of a world is that to live in?" And I absolutely agree. I think we should foster and encourage attitudes that are more tolerant of diversity, while shaming and discouraging attitudes that promote judgmentalism and conformity (even if people are, ultimately, free to hold those antisocial beliefs).

But the problem I have, as pertains to this discussion on sexual harassment, is how sexual desire is conflated as a predatory and hurtful sort of thing. I'd argue that it's a result of all the inaccurate and distorted views on sexuality that we're taught from a young age within a very sexually dysfunctional culture that values things like virginity and sexual purity. But from a feminist perspective, there's all this talk about rape and harassment and how women can't feel comfortable because men are always perving on them. Is that not how sexuality works? Why is it bad to be "perved" on anyway?

The problem is that we're conflating different things, like discomfort with harassment, and sexual compliments with insults. If you listen to the feminists, you'd think that every expression of sexual desire was tantamount to "harassment". If you're a woman, and a man expresses their sexual desire for you (in an otherwise polite manner), is that harassment just because you didn't solicit the sexual attention? If somebody bothers you for the time, is that harassment of a nonsexual variety, and are there similar legal or civil recourses against it? Is it different because we spend so much time talking about how men are pigs and perverts and predators, and so every man who pays attention to you is a potential rapist, and must be treated as such? How does that view do any more to fight 'rape culture' than men slapping themselves on the back for their sexual exploits? If you presuppose a man to be a rapist, he's more likely to prove you right in the end, not least of all because it fosters a confrontational divide between the sexes.

One of the specific instances of 'harassment' at one of these conferences given was a man carrying a camera at the end of a monopod, and the suspicion that he was or might be using it to take photos up women's skirts. Now, when you walk out into public (and if this conference isn't considered public, then we can relocate the debate to the street corner the 'monopod guy' would likely be removed to instead), you have to accept the fact that a roaming photographer might snap your picture. And that isn't illegal. As a photographer, I've been exposed to so much discrimination against people who take pictures, so this bothers me more than the average non-photographer. If you absolutely don't want anyone seeing up your skirt (or managing to get a picture up your skirt), then don't wear skirts in public. Or, at the very least, wear shorts underneath.

I'm not saying that women who wear skirts deserve to be harassed. I'm saying that your false modesty is ridiculous. When I wear skirts in public, I'm concerned about people getting a peek at my underwear. But do you know why? It's not because someone might get a thrill out of it, and that that would be 'creepy', and oh my god I would feel 'violated'. I worry that someone might get a peek who is ultra-modest, and get offended or disgusted by it, and decide to fling insults or, worse yet, fists, at me for being a slut or what have you. That is clearly harassment, possibly even to the point of assault. But how is somebody liking to see my underwear, for sexual reasons, harassment? It's a freaking compliment!

Are we so scared about rape that we can't even foster non-rapacious sexual interest? How does that patch up our ailing sexual attitudes? If 'fighting rape culture' means fighting sex, then you've already lost. You're not going to beat sex, and the more you try, and the more women who try, the more frustrated men there are going to be, with the most antisocial and aggressive among them being willing to turn to rape to take by force what they can't get by more friendlier means.

This is in no way saying that all men are willing to become rapists if denied sex, nor that all women must spread their legs and do their part to quell the raging fire of collective male desire. But sex is ubiquitous. If you really don't like sex, you're absolutely welcome to shun it. But I know a lot of people probably like it, or have the capacity to like it, but are screwing themselves and each other over because they aren't willing to be honest about their desires. Seriously.

And the culture of slut-shaming only feeds into it. Who honestly gets hurt if somebody gets a peek up your skirt? If somebody gets a picture up your skirt? If somebody gets that picture and posts it online? If somebody posts that picture online so that countless other strangers can jack off to it? There's a good chance your identity is hidden anyway, but even if it isn't, where's the harm? A tarnished reputation? Only because we permit the cultural attitude that sluts deserve to be shamed! But they don't. And the only way to fight it is to stop doing it. Flash your panties in front of a voyeur and then be proud that people are responding to your sexual allure. Better yet, do it without panties! And if anyone tries to shame you, tell them to fuck off. Or better yet, politely inform them how what they're doing is destroying the fabric of a very naturally social, naturally sexual society.

I'm just sick of all the tacit assumptions we make everyday in our casual speech that presume the dysfunctional sexual mores that have us clinging desperately to purity, asking God above to cleanse us of our sins, instead of embracing the joy and pleasure of our sexuality.

And for those who are fond of attempting to discredit every argument for liberty by conflating it with anarchy (or every argument for freedom with total chaos, to put it in less political terms), I am not saying that issues of harassment do not exist, are not important, and should not be dealt with. I am only saying to consider what does and does not constitute harassment, and not to let our desires to remain totally safe and unmolested invade the public's rights to freedom of expression and association.

I see on both sides of this debate, people talking like the issue should be ridiculously simple, and the fact that we're even arguing about it as evidence that something is fundamentally wrong (and often that the opposition is fundamentally stupid). The truth is, it's not that straightforward, and involves some very subtle distinctions, as well as some very basic misunderstandings of human nature. So it doesn't surprise me at all that it's become such a huge debate, full of contention. The solution is not to oversimplify, which will only alienate, but to embrace a more nuanced approach to the topic. One that, skeptically, evaluates one's biases and gives weight to opposing standpoints, even when they seem, at first glance, to be utterly insensitive and irrational (the opposite may prove to be the case). Because I think the ideal solution will ultimately prove to be something of a middle ground between "men deserve to rape women" and "women deserve not to be viewed with sexual interest by men".

Friday, June 15, 2012

Children as a Gambit in the War on Freedom

In response to the "think of the children" argument, which many people attempt to use to dumb down public culture to a level suitable (read: safe) for children, and to sanitize the public square of any potentially offensive content; someone might ask me, if I choose to wear a dress in public (and this question could also be asked of homosexual couples, nudist protesters, etc.), whether I have any concern for the children who might see me and then become confused or, worse yet, traumatized by what they see.

Quite the contrary. If you want to indoctrinate your kids with harmful beliefs like 'men don't wear dresses' (or 'gays are evil', or 'naked bodies are disgusting', or what have you), then you'll probably view me as a public menace for daring to express my individuality in public. The reality is that I'm performing a public service, by providing children (as well as the rest of society, but the children especially, who are still constructing their beliefs about the world, and have had less time being bombarded by mainstream dogma) an example of alternative views and lifestyles.

If you object to that, then you're free to exercise your nearly omnipotent parental powers and lock your kid up at home, refusing to allow him to go outside. But the moment you step into public, you relinquish your control over the surrounding environment, as well as your monopoly over the kind of media and stimuli you and your kids are going to be exposed to.

So no, your right to raise your kids the way you see fit does not extend to limiting the freedom of expression of others who have differing viewpoints (including about how to raise their kids). Whether it's sex, violence, nudity, drugs, swearing, drinking, smoking, spitting, fashion of all kinds, anything at all that you might be offended by and want to "protect" your kids from being exposed to, it is not within your rights to ban any of it from public spaces, much less the private homes of others.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Judge What I Do, Not What I Say

I usually view my own liberalism in a pretty positive light. But every once in awhile, my mind is clouded by a paranoid doubt, fuelled by a lifetime of social brainwashing, that leads me to question whether the sort of people who think liberty is equivalent to anarchy may be right - and that I may be heading down a bad path to becoming a dangerous person because I don't adhere to a conservative moral code. But the one thing that always saves me from that pit of despair is the knowledge - which I see evidence for everyday, all around me - that conservatively minded individuals are constantly committing atrocious evils I wouldn't be capable of even were I given the opportunity, and they're getting away with it, because those acts are justified by those same conservative morals (see: slavery, lynchings, spousal abuse, gay bashing, bullying, slut shaming, clitoridectomy, honor killings, etc.).

Well, you know what? To those people I just want to say, "fuck you!" What does it matter what our beliefs look or feel like, regardless of whether we're liberal or conservative? What matters is how we treat other people. So I don't want to hear your petty arguments about what acts my beliefs might lead hypothetical evil people to commit, when evil people of all beliefs commit evil acts (by the very nature of their evilness), and with the understanding that, like the similar case that just because some people justify their evil acts with bible passages doesn't mean everyone who follows the bible acts evilly, that just because somebody might use my liberal beliefs to commit evil doesn't mean that I intend to behave the same way, or that there is no good in those things I believe in, that some others have perverted and corrupted to suit their evil designs.

To simplify my point, it doesn't make a damn difference whether you support monogamous relationships bound by the institution of Christian marriage, while forbidding premarital sex, or if you intend to have a dozen wives, sampling each one before you marry her, or if you want to rent access to your body to strangers on the street, or if you engage in ritual orgies around a bonfire in the woods late at night, or whatever else you believe in or however else you choose to live your life. What matters is how you treat other people. And if you treat people poorly, what the hell difference does it make that you're "a good Christian" who values "the wholesome virtue of chastity"? You're a bad person. But if you treat people well, then what the hell difference does it make if you believe that people should be allowed to fornicate openly in the public square? You're a good person. And fuck anyone who tries to tell you differently just because your beliefs are 'weird' or, worse yet, 'disgusting'.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Between Fine Art Nudes and Porn

Perhaps due in large part to the taboo on sex, photographers who take to producing fine art nudes often eschew the erotic appeal of naked bodies, focusing on the technical and aesthetic qualities instead. On the other end of the spectrum, pornographers are usually concerned solely with the erotic appeal of the media they produce, all too frequently ignoring the technical and aesthetic qualities of the naked bodies they document, because their (narrow) focus is on what will sexually arouse the viewer.

There are, certainly, fine art photographers who recognize the erotic appeal of nudity, and even pornographers who make an effort to produce artistic porn (though this seems particularly rare). But on either end of the spectrum, you have to cater to an audience that has certain expectations. Connoisseurs of fine art, being enmeshed in a culture of high society, generally spurn the base appeal of sexuality, while typical consumers of pornography consider any distraction from their sexual response unforgivable.

How then, does the erotic photographer position himself on the narrow balance between fine art and porn? With much difficulty. As an erotic photographer, I am interested in both sex and art, and most especially the art of sex; I am genuinely concerned with producing art that is sexual. If, then, I ask a model to get naked for me, there are two points to note. First is that, unlike the fine art photographer, I have no intention of hiding the fact that I am interested in sex. But second is that, unlike the pornographer, I really am interested in art, and I'm not just using that as an excuse to persuade the model to take her clothes off.

There is a euphemism for people who do that. The 'Guy With a Camera' probably (but not always) has minimal talent or experience as a photogprapher, and moreover, his primary motivation is to get you naked, not to take great pictures of you. As an artist, my genuine motivation is to take great pictures of you - even if my interest in eroticism dictates that the sort of great pictures I want to get are the sexy and/or naked kind. But I have no intention of abusing your trust or exploiting you or making inappropriate sexual advances toward you like the GWC is wont to do.

For Art

What does "For Art" mean? Some people have gotten the impression that "For Art" is a cheap excuse guys use to trick naive girls into taking their clothes off "for a good purpose". While there are bound to be those out there who use it in that way, this is not what it stands for, and this abuse should not reflect poorly on the proper use of the phrase. "For Art" means that the primary purpose is art - not getting girls to take their clothes off and get naughty, but to create art. This may involve girls taking their clothes off and getting naughty, or just taking their clothes off, or even leaving their clothes on. The point is, whatever happens - which is never to exceed the boundaries of the model's comfort zone - or doesn't happen, what matters is the art that results. This takes the pressure off of the model to "perform" in any way she is not comfortable. It reassures her that what she's doing - whether it includes sex or not - really is For Art, and that "For Art" is not simply an excuse to get her to do those things.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Few Distinctions

I hold these truths to be self-evident, that the nude state is not intrinsically lewd, that embracing a sexual aesthetic is not equivalent to committing the sex act, and that incidental arousal may not, necessarily, be accompanied by intentional stimulation.

I hold, also, that each of these cases ought to be dealt with as is, and that each one of them should not be criticized indiscriminately just for having a relation to that most horrible of concepts: human sexuality.

Allow me to elucidate these few points, briefly, as the lines between these distinctions are far too often blurred.

As the nudists always say,

nude =/= lewd

Nude is a state of being.
Lewd is a form of behavior.

As long as you are not behaving in a lewd manner, the state of simply being nude should not be interpreted as something perverted or indecent. This goes a long way in explaining how a resort filled with naked people can be utterly lacking in any sexual atmosphere.

In the same vein,

sex =/= sexy

Sex is an act.
Sexy is an aesthetic.

Yes, they are intricately related, but they are not equivalent. Therefore, if a girl wears a miniskirt, and flirts with you, she may look sexy, and she may be acting sexy, but this is not to be construed as an invitation to stick your penis inside of her. Similarly, a person's fashion choices should not be confused with sexual promiscuity.

Following that line of thought,

arousal =/= stimulation

Arousal is an involuntary response.
Stimulation is an intentional act.

Arousal may result from intentional stimulation, but it also may result from an unexpected trigger (just as a sneeze may arise unexpectedly, or from the direct application of pepper to one's nose). A person should be held responsible for the conscious decisions they make (e.g., holding pepper to one's nose), but not the involuntary responses of their body (e.g., a sneeze unbidden).

If something (say, a performance or exhibition) incites sexual feelings in its audience, this is not, strictly speaking, a sex act, and is not on the same level as sexual contact. To follow, a man caught in a pleasant daydream is engaged in a very different sort of act than the man who is deliberately stroking himself.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these truths, and please try to keep them in mind the next time one of these issues comes up on the news or in your daily life.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Liberty is no more Anarchy than it is Totalitarianism

If it's true that sex is becoming more visible in our culture (and the internet makes that position at least plausible), then naturally we're going to become aware of a much wider variety of sexual tastes and practices than we otherwise might have.

Anti-sex crusaders would have us believe that inundating society with sex is a bad thing. Is it, really? I don't think so - after all, sex is natural. But these people will point to the most egregious sexual activities and say, "see, this is what happens when we don't put a stopper on sex!" But couldn't it rather be the case that we are merely seeing practices that have existed since time immemorial, and that their existence or prevalence is not a direct result of a sexually liberated attitude?

Granted, liberating my sexuality has led me to explore things I'd never have touched if I had remained a prude (although I feel happier and more fulfilled as a result), but that doesn't mean I'm of the opinion that anything goes. The fact that I have wild sexual fantasies, and like to express myself sexually in designated public areas (i.e., the internet), and am not ashamed of my sexuality, are all things that I should be allowed to do anyway. I'm very sexually open and liberated, but I still do not tolerate inhuman acts like rape (which I distinguish from rape fantasy, and consensual nonconsent), or anything else that violates the fundamental civil rights of anyone.

You see, that's what it's about. It's about rights. Each and every one of us (without exception) has the right to express ourselves in the kinkiest fashion possible. At the same time, nobody has the right to violate the sanctity of our person. It's not that there are only two opposing positions - abstinent purity on the one hand, and sexual anarchy on the other - it's that basic liberty demands that a) we be allowed to express our sexuality freely, and b) that we cannot infringe on the rights of others. And these two conditions are not incompatible; though to believe that, you'd have to recognize that while some people may be pressured into pornography, prostitution, and unwanted sexual activity, plenty of other people freely choose to engage in pornography, prostitution, and a great diversity of sexual activity, and it is absolutely their right to do so.

If you want to help the people who are being abused and exploited, taking away everyone's freedom of choice isn't the way to do that. But unfortunately, where the issue of sex is concerned, I've very seldom seen (and especially not among the most vocal and zealous crusaders and organizations) people use the "we must protect them" card honestly - too many of them do it with the hidden agenda of trying to stifle sexual expression and liberty. If you want my trust and support, then you're going to have to prove that you genuinely care about the people you want to help, and to do that, you have to be willing to stand up (publicly) and defend the basic liberty of the individual.

Which means allowing other people to engage in activities you don't like or agree with, and offering to help them the way they want to be helped, not whatever way forces them to live the life you'd choose for them. I refer you to the model of a successful therapeutic relationship: the therapist does not try to enforce his views of what is and is not a healthy way to live, he merely uses his expertise to guide his client toward the sort of life that fulfills the client's goals for himself. Social work, like therapy, is not about control (that's what the criminal justice system is for), it's about aid. And you can't truly help someone you don't honor and respect.

Support, don't protect.

End Demand Doesn't Work

End Demand doesn't work. That's not a moral statement - it's a literal fact. Look at The Prohibition. Look at The War on Drugs. I understand that some people have moral beliefs against things like drugs and alcohol (or pornography and prostitution), but it's not the government's job to legislate morality. Unfortunately, people with an "everyone ought to believe what I believe" mentality have a tendency to actually believe that people who don't live the way they do deserve to be punished - to either be forced to change their ways, or be thrown in jail.

That's not freedom. The laws we have in place are not there to dictate what kind of lives we should lead, so as to force society to become a certain kind of environment - the one admired by the moral majority. No. If we value freedom at all (and I don't think many of us do in this day and age), we must permit others to pursue their individual paths. We have laws to protect people from harming other people, and infringing on the basic rights of others. Forcing other people to live like you do and think the way you do is NOT a right that anyone possesses!

So if it's true that people have a hunger for illicit substances - like mind-altering drugs or pornographic liaisons or what have you - what can we do? Putting up a fence between the people who demand these things and the people who supply them isn't right, because it involves the restriction of individual liberty. But you can disagree with that statement - what you can't disagree with is that, whether right or wrong, it simply. doesn't. work. Instead of fostering an us vs. them mentality, the puritans vs. the depraved, can we not be more forgiving of each other's differences?

If there are dangers in one way of life, then the compassionate thing to do is to educate, and support - additionally, you can apply subtle persuasion, but only that which does not involve forcibly changing another person's life against their wishes. If there are arguments against your way of living, you should consider them, and at least allow them to be aired even if you don't agree. There is enough room in this world for people of all kinds. If you don't like drugs, or you don't like sex, you're welcome to construct a life around yourself that doesn't involve drugs or sex. Meanwhile, another person should remain free to construct his life around drugs and sex if he so chooses - without your interference. Why must everyone in the world live like you do?