Monday, June 27, 2011

Overheard at a Denny's - I

“I really don’t see what business the government has prying into people’s sex lives. I think whatever goes on between consenting adults in the privacy of the bedroom should be nobody’s business but theirs, as long as nobody gets hurt.”

“Okay, so you’re for sexual restrictions?”

What? How did you get that out of what I said?”

“Simple. You said consenting, so you’ve ruled out force — that’s one restriction. You said adults, so there’s another restriction — no pederasty, no pedophilia. You said in the privacy of the bedroom, so I presume no sex in the middle of The Ballpark at Arlington, right? You said—”

“Y’know, Derek, you really are annoying when you get like this.”

“Hear me out. You said as long as nobody gets hurt, so there’s four restrictions in this wonderfully tolerant statement of yours. Now, who gets to define rape? Who says who’s an adult and who’s not? Who gets to say what’s private and what isn’t? Last, who gets to ….”

“I get it, I get it!”

“Yeah, well just let me add the Dairy Queen swirl on it. No matter who gets to define these things, it’s all just a pretty sentiment as long as the city, the state or the fed can’t write it into law and use the police to enforce it. I know you want to keep the government out of your bedroom, and I know where you’re coming from there. But even that bare minimum statement of restrictions means nothing unless we grant the government the right to enforce those restrictions … even in our bedrooms.”

“But you know what I’m saying. I just don’t think you can legislate morality.”

Au contraire, mon frère. Not only can we legislate morality, we do it all the time. Just what do you think the law is?”

“Oh, you know what I mean!”

“Yes, I do — you mean sexual morality. And again I say: we do it all the time. Every government recognizable as a government has done it throughout history. How is illegalizing rape or pedophilia or bestiality not legislating sexual morality?”

“But those things are sick! Why should we let them happen?”

“And how do we know they’re sick? From Hannibal Lecter’s point of view, eating a man’s liver ‘with some fava beans and a nice Chianti’ is simply an acquired taste: ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’, you see? We know he’s a psychopath, but we worked backwards to the illness of his mind from the wrongness of his act, not the other way around.”

“So, what are you saying? Every morally wrong act is a product of mental disease?”

“Some people could argue that, but I wouldn’t. But the legal definition of insanity is based on the defendant’s ability to distinguish right from wrong. But if there’s no communal agreement on right and wrong, if they just happen to mean what we like and don’t like, then how can we say that Hannibal, or John Geoghan, or even—”


“The priest in Boston who was accused of sexually abusing more than 130 children. Anyway, if all morality — even sexual morality — is simply a matter of taste, then all of the scandals the Church has seen in the last ten years were about nothing. More to the point, if we can’t legislate sexual morality, then Geoghan was sent to prison for nothing, and he’s as much a martyr to the sickoes of NAMBLA as Harvey Milk is to the gay rights movement.”

“But homosexuality is natural!

“So how does that help us? Psychosis is also natural, in the sense that nothing has to be done intentionally to produce it. Cancer’s natural, in that sense. So’s kleptomania. In that sense, even being a Chicago Cubs fan is natural.”

“Oh, hey, man! Lay off my Cubbies!”

“But you get my drift, right? The fact that nature, society and whatnot combined to produce a particular result gives us no help in deciding whether that result is good or not. We have to have an idea of how things are supposed to work according to spec before we can decide whether this particular example is functioning or malfunctioning. If the wetware is working like it’s supposed to, then a guy doesn’t get a hankering to eat another guy’s digestive organs, or to bugger little boys.”

“The Greeks buggered little boys.”

“And that’s when Greek civilization began to decline. Communities and societies are oriented towards survival, which means growth, which means reproduction. When a society starts turning towards closed reproductive paths — when sex stops being about reproduction and starts being for pleasure — it starts to lose social cohesiveness. You can argue all the live-long day that the boundaries are social constructs, yet they’re constructed for a reason: to hold the society together. You don’t transgress the boundaries or take them apart just because you damn well feel like it.”

“But if sex is only for reproduction—”

“Stop. I didn’t say ‘only for reproduction’.”

“You said, ‘when it stops being about reproduction’, which is near to the same thing.”

“Many societies have made a distinction that has never made sense. In general, you have lovers, concubines, mistresses, catamites and prostitutes for pleasure, but spouses for fruit and the establishment of family lines. Yet the same organs are involved; you can’t shut off the testes or the ovaries when you go from your spouse to your lover. That’s where Christianity — particularly the Catholic Church — has always made the most sense. Instead of making this irrational separation between whom you have fun with and whom you have children with, you recognize that the unitive and procreative go hand in hand, and restrict sex to marriage.”

“Wow. Hey, I gotta get back home. Krista’s gonna wonder where I’ve been all night.”

“That’s cool. Say, Dan, you two coming over to our house for the Fourth?”