- McSpotlight -

Sex, drugs and ...

Posted by: Gideon Hallett ( n/a, UK ) on April 16, 1998 at 12:33:31:

In Reply to: be about your merry way posted by Stuart Gort on April 13, 1998 at 12:18:27:

: : I agree. They're called "governments"

: I'm inclined to agree as I hold to the old slogan "The government
: that governs best governs least." Mine is a fear of left wing bleeding
: hearts in control of such a thing as a government. You seem to have
: helped me make that point.

As a committed left-wing bleeding heart anarchist, I can't say I find the experience of life under the right-wing centralized state any more fun. The thing that really trickles down from big governments is bullshit. Quite where any government thinks "a profit" comes from is beyond me.

To me, there is no such thing as a material profit. There is merely a redistribution.

While utility _may_ be added (obviously, a spade is more use than a lump of iron ore, even if the byproduct of producing it was an amount of pollution), the amounts of vital resources is pretty much constant for the planet Earth.

: : Ah, Stuart takes on humanity's two oldest past-times. It would be too much of a red rag to wave Marx's famous quote around...

: Apparently it wouldn't. But lest you think it is a religous arguement
: I make, consider the Netherlands as an example for your children
: to emulate if you are so blessed.

The Netherlands? One of the most contented, socially advanced, family-oriented countries in Europe? Fair do's. If you're going to have a big government, the Dutch one is probably the one to emulate.

Stuart, have you ever been to the Netherlands? Do you know any Dutch people? I _do_, and in my opinion, they're one of the least screwed-up bunch of people around. The Dutch word "gezellig" pretty much sums it up - it means "pleasantly neighbourly" and basically means "act with consideration for those around you and don't judge".

It works. The Dutch have, as has been said, one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, if not the world.

: Your cavalier dismissal of prostitution as a pastime comes straight : from a male centered viewpoint which is many miles from a grieving : father's viewpoint.

Hmm. So, a woman's or mother's own choice or feelings in the matter are irrelevant? I'm not condoning prostitution - it's usually based on male-dominated exploitation of women and thrives under the regime of repressive male-dominated moralities. Yet, to some level, a woman has a right over her own body to do what she wants. Are you saying that you would condemn non-exploitative prostitution?

Oh, and it's not just humans. A wide range of animals - from monkeys to penguins - use implied sexual promises or illicit sexual relations for personal gain. So I'm not kidding when I describe it as one of the oldest pasttimes. It probably predates humanity by millions of years.

: You ought to be ashamed of yourself for your tactit acceptance of the
: practice.

Is it better to condemn it out of hand and tar-and-feather the wretched whores or to try and make life better for them so they don't have to prostitute themselves? Also, as I said, for some women it is a personal choice made of their own free will.

: With respect to drugs - again; How many destroyed lives
: must you see before you decide it affects more than the user.

Stuart, that's something for the user themselves to deal with. If you are doing something that may end your life, then you should consider the effects. Consider them long and hard, including the effects on friends and relatives. Ultimately, though, they are considerations, as the choice is yours as a free being. You can't (and shouldn't) try to control another's life to that extent.

Of course, that goes for any potentially life-threatening activity. Like driving a car, or rock-climbing, or going to war.

: How selfish it is to suggest otherwise. By the time I was 18 I had : five friends dead from drugs. You suggest they should have the right : to kill themselves with this stuff.

Unfortunate. I only had one friend dead from rock-climbing and another dead from swimming (some mystery one-in-a-million waterborne bug which killed her in five hours).

Ultimately, what is the best way to prevent overdoses? Prohibition?

No! Read the history books. The "war against drugs" is doomed to failure and always will be. You can't avoid the simple fact that people _like_ to get off their heads on something, be it cocaine or caffeine. As such, just saying "ban drugs" is high-grade escapism.

I might believe otherwise if you can give me one example of a society that does not indulge in mind-altering activities of some form or another, be it through drugs, meditation or revivalist preaching.

(Before you get steamed about that, all three stimulate similar areas in the brain and get the endocrine system to produce serotonin. They're all "drugs" from that perspective).

Surely it's better to accept that and educate people thoroughly about the good and bad points of various drugs rather than just throwing a hissy fit? It should be noted that many of the people who are most against drug "education" indulge in drugs themselves.

: I say they don't understand what they are doing and they're too young : to know it. Past-time? Only in a very irresponsible, unloving home is : drug use a past-time. You think about the grieving parents of : children who get involved in drug use and prostitution for a while.

Here, kids of 10 are pretty sussed about drugs. While it might be a moral blasphemy to you, it means that far fewer of them are likely to die from, say, solvent abuse ("glue-sniffing"). Drug education works.

If you have friends who died of drug abuse, why did they die? Because they took the stuff, or because they weren't sufficiently informed of the risks _before_ they took the stuff?

: After that tell me how these practices should be relegated to adult : participation only and make a case that if they are, they won't hurt : anyone. They hurt everyone. Open eyes can see that.

What is basically harmful about sex? It's the exploitation surrounding prostitution that makes it quite so repugnant - the fact that women see no alternative but to sell themselves for money. Of course, would you have moral problems with prostitution if it involved no exploitation?

*JimmySwaggart* - oh, sorry, bit of a cough there...*grin*

And as for drugs, we pump our kids with them from Day 1 - be it phenylalanine (chocolate), caffeine (coffee and tea), tanneine (tea and wine), acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). Many of the chemicals that are added to food are in some measure addictive, not to mention the fact that a surprisingly large number of "foods" are drugs as well - for example, nutmeg will give you an LSD-style trip in the right quantities (but a really dry and nasty taste in your mouth)

As I said, free and frank education is the only way to make things better.

Open eyes can see nothing if they're too fixed on the Sun to see the world around you. Or the Son.

: : Oh, and you could try reading the works of Terence Mckenna?

: Who? Is that my prof in sophistry 101?

No. The basic thrust of his theory is that abstract thought in humans arose from the consumption of psychoactive substances - magic mushrooms. That our civilisation and thought are based on drugs.

It might be interesting to know that a number of Neolithic burial sites contain human remains which themselves contain spores from the psilocybin mushrooms (i.e. magic mushrooms).

: : As for religion; There are things we can do to our minds as
: : people which lead to the mental decline of a society. Free and
: : unrestricted use of churches is one of them. Sophistry is another.

: The reader will note that Gideon has changed the subject from moral
: to mental in his attack of Christianity. Not having a standard other
: than his own opinion to base his "moral" code on, he proceeds to lambast those : who claim an immovable standard as those who attribute to the mental decline : of our world.

I think the word you were looking for was "contribute". To attribute something is to place the blame, which rather screws up the intended meaning of your sentence.

The reader will note that Gideon was merely indulging his taste for satire by quoting Mr Gort (albeit with two words changed). Speaking seriously, people are welcome to go to churches if they want to. As long as they don't expect me to a) go with them. or b) act as if their moral code was my moral code.

: To that I answer; If a person who argues that there is no moral : distiction to be made between killing a man or a tree suggests that : you contribute to the mental decline of the world, just smile and say : "have a nice day" and be about your merry way.

A life is a life, as I said before. Of course, trees don't pollute (one of Ronald Reagan's greatest moments, that!), neither do they take more than they need, neither do they disturb the planetary balance dangerously. I knew there was something about them I liked.

Oh, and they have a very good reason for being as thick as two short planks, whereas humanity seems to do it just for fun...

"Have a nice day"?

Do you have any idea how much that phrase represents the very _worst_ face of American cultural imperialism?

It's a weak point of mine, so I'm going to go into it...

[rant mode:on]

As a fraction, how many times is that lamentable phrase said with real feeling as opposed to just being trotted out by a brainwashed corporate slave? To quote Billy Connolly (on America);

"It just comes out bleeurgh, like vomit. They don't actually listen to your reply. You can say anything in response and they just go 'you're welcome'...So, you go up to this person behind the counter; they go 'Have a nice day', you reply 'show us your willy!' and they _still_ reply 'you're welcome'. Veery odd"

And in the American multinationals in the rest of the world the employees are forced to say this, regardless of how appropriate it is.

I come from Bath in England. The city is 2000 years old. In the last five years a Disney store has landed its foul feet on one of the main street. So, every day, there will be some hapless teen McJobber on diddly squat per hour standing on the door. Whose function is to open the door for people, to welcome them into the store and, on the customer's way out, to say "have a nice day". The customers couldn't give a toss. The staff feel like prats having to say it (and couldn't give a toss about it either). The only apparent function it has is to make Americans feel at home and annoy the locals.

Now, just one moment. This is the 20th century, right? We have automatic doors? There is no actual need for that person to be there, yes?

Not only is it resented by every Bathonian I've ever talked to about it, it's a gross imposition of an alien culture on a city _four times_ as old as America. And what's their characteristic phrase? Four words that are vacuous(it's a nicety), insincere(how many people put feeling into it?), meaningless(what is a nice day, and how is some wage slave going to make it any nicer by parroting junk language at me?) and a waste of energy. As such, it's a perfect microcosm of American society.



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