Some impressive writing I’ve come across recently:
– David Allen Green on sex working and criminal law, making a lot of sense about the simplistic “there ought to be a law” attitude that commonly holds sway on matters of undesirable behaviour.
[T]o “ban” something is not to eliminate it; it merely means that future incidents of it may be attended by different legal and other consequences than it otherwise would have.
This is actually really important. There are certain activities which most of society would rather people didn’t do. But if the solution is to simply make those things illegal, it’s a complete illusion to suppose that they’ve all now been neatly tidied away and aren’t really happening any more. For some behaviours, there’s absolutely no reason to assume that they’ll happen any less just because you’ve banned it. And in fact you’ve just created a huge number of criminals out of nowhere, which is even more of a problem in itself.
Obviously some things need laws against them, but the assumption that that’s going to be enough to fix something over-reachingly social and complex – anything to do with drugs and sex, for a start – doesn’t appear to be founded in reality, judging by the extent to which these problems still exist.
– The problem of gay teens committing suicide reaches much farther than the playground. Young people suffering because of their sexual identity – from both their own guilt, and the taunts or attacks of others – is directly related to the attitudes of politicians and public figures across the country. However much more enlightened the western world is supposed to have become about this, policies like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the number of government officials who think a person’s sexual preferences matter a damn to something like whether or not they can teach a class of kids, all add up to a constant message to gay people that they are inferior, or broken, or not fully human. That message isn’t just coming from other teenagers, and needs to fuck right off.
– Speaking of not fully human, did you know test tube babies have no soul? It’s true! You might not expect much sensible, rationalist insight from the “Faith and Reason” section of USA Today, but they’ve got that little factoid right on the money.
Where it falls down, of course, is that they seem to think this makes such children different from the rest of us somehow.
This is where magical thinking can lead you. Invisible, unknowable, non-existent essences become more important than people, and articles get written in major national publications suggesting that the continued existence and lives of millions of people might be an affront to God, worthy of “ethical condemnation”. Here’s PZ at his best:
And it’s incredibly offensive to go further and suggest that the parents of these children, who have gone to extraordinary expense and trouble to conceive, are mere “shoppers”, as if people who get pregnant in a casual evening’s rut are somehow necessarily conscientious ethical philosophers and serious about their children, while someone who sinks $10,000+ dollars into invasive medical procedures and subjects their body to a few months of stressful hormonal treatments must be getting pregnant on impulse.