Wednesday, March 11, 2015

You may do whatever you want to your body - a valid proof against moral proscriptions

If you are a regular reader of my behavioural ratiocinations then you have been exposed to my admonishments about ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots.’ Most of these are related to achieving the best child custody results, parent-parent and parent-child relationships, and optimum physical health. My discourse today is in the domain of mental well-being, this being seeking life fulfilment. My presentation and sage advice within embraces libertarian principles which you may voluntarily choose whether to accept.

In the proposition that you may do whatever you want to your body there is the limit of up to and until what you desiderate contravenes the liberty of another. Prohibitions on personal liberties are generally founded upon an ambiguous moral code imposed by sanctimonious do-gooders who are not as good as they pretend. Morality in the pervasive sense can be no greater than do no/least harm to others. The rest is subjective to person, time, and place. Thus, if it will harm someone else then abstain but otherwise have at it.

Before proceeding further it is necessary to clarify actual definitions that may conflict with those perceived by people through ordinary usage. Right and wrong are terms measuring degree of moral acceptability. They are properly used as correct and incorrect with the added qualifier of moral content. It is right [righteous] to say that we shall not murder. It is not “right” to say that George Washington was the first United States President. That is merely factually correct with no moral connotation. Although it is elementary knowledge “may” and “can” still confound. ‘May’ denotes liberty while ‘can’ denotes ability. I think anyone can murder but may not. The adjectives ‘alive’ and ‘living’ both reflect the state of being not dead. However, living possesses a qualitative state wherein it could be said that a comatose person whose metabolic stasis is maintained by machines is alive but not living.

In this gainsay I endeavor to prove that most interdictions or admonitions about personal behaviours, habits, or actions are based upon a false premise which cannot be ubiquitous. These shall nots are nothing more than efforts by people with ulterior motives to impose a moral code upon others that would not be applied to self. So it is hypocrites to whom I refer who often base proscriptions on a deontological premise. This may include you.

Let me prime you with a quote by Tony Montaña from the movie Scarface [1983]
What you lookin' at? You all a bunch of fuckin' assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So... what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say goodnight to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!

The hypocrites proclaim that it is wrong to; be fat, smoke cigarettes/use other drugs, sunbathe, be sexually liberated, gamble, engage in violent sports, view pornography, listen to profane music, abstain from cult dogma, or to not vaccinate. There is, of course, more but I am unlikely capable of providing the litany of "immoral" behaviours. Their platitudes, like a catechism, are usually based upon rote regurgitations of spoon-fed proscriptions instead of a heuristic method.

I feel that most people walk around passing each day in a semi-comatose state accepting the casuistry as rational without ever seeking its proof. It is by seeking a proof though that we will find that those proscriptions have no rational basis and all fail.

I want for you to examine why you may consider these actions to be wrong. Each of these behaviours or activities is fulfilling a desire of the individual, the ego. It is a truism that adults are where they are in life and do what they do because that is what they have chosen. For some it has been extremely challenging. For instance the meth-head who maintains a meth induced high while living out of a dumpster in an alley does not do so easily. It goes against law, the ethos, is financially difficult, and is not supported by community or government resources and programs. Try contacting various agencies about getting a ready supply of methamphetamine and directed to an alley which includes a dumpster behind a restaurant to serve as your domicile and see how much help you get. Seek the opposite and watch the resources open up. Yet those who seek the former are more likely to succeed than those who are pressured into seeking the latter. This is because people get what they want. Thus, what I propose can be reduced to this: Dissolute individuals are not immoral because they are not harming anyone.

Let me kick it off with the fat people. Obese folks are the new smokers for the purposes of being labeled as the bane of societies’ health. It would be a stretch to say that fat people could harm others based upon them congregating together and collapsing a floor as a result of the combined weight. That would be based upon a false premise that the individual’s weights caused the collapse when in actuality it was the total load. I know I am well supported in the reasoning that deduces obesity is physiologically unhealthy. From a hedonism perspective though obesity can be healthy. My latent accumulation of mental health assessments tells me that the fat folks have fewer mental health problems. It’s those who are preoccupied by their physical appearance that have greater incidents of anxiety related disturbances. I have searched my mind but have been unable to find a direct correlation between obesity and harm to others. I came close by finding that obese people use more calories and thus consume more food which presumptively means more fuels used in production and transportation [both to the store and to the home], more pesticides, and more animal effluent into watersheds. But a big fat organic food eating vegetarian who has a huge garden and goes to the grocery bi-monthly would have a far less environmental impact that the person who goes for a coffee daily.

How about those sun worshippers, the servants of Ra? Sun bathing may lead to skin cancer. That is certainly harmful to the individual but skin cancer is not a communicable disease. Thus, there is no threat of harm to others. Have at it.

Certainly the ethos that condemns the illicit drug user must be based upon some actual harm. However, the proposition that so-called illicit drugs produce negative outcomes suffers from the hysteron proteron fallacy. This stupid argument for drug prohibitions is based upon indirect adverse outcomes such as violence in the drug trade or children being neglected by imbibed parents. Here the contributory variables are ignored. Violence in the drug trade is not the result of the growth, possession, sale, or use of drugs. Drug sales occur on a frequent basis in pharmacies. The difference is that in pharmacies the price, quantity, and quality or efficacy, plus liberty to engage in commerce are all standardized. That is, there is trust established through a legal framework that allows parties to contract, establish a set price, ensure quality, and ensure that accurate quantities are delivered as priced without fear of arrest and imprisonment. Thus, the violence is induced by legislative action. Similarly, child neglect is not the result of drugs. If drugs were the cause of child neglect then all children filiated to illicit drug users would be neglected. Such is not true. The proposition that drugs cause child neglect suffers from the personification fallacy. That is, it attributes the human characteristic of intent to the drug. Children are also neglected by parents who do not use drugs. If you can use illicit drugs without engaging in additional actions which harm others then have at it.

The libertine or licentious individuals often come under attack as immoral, especially when their pursuits are contrary to law or hypocritical. Even the most sexually perverse is not harming anyone by engaging in consensual sexual acts. But be a President of the United States letting a young intern perform fellacio on you and you get branded the apogee of immorality. Oh but what about the philanderer or adulteress -- do they do harm as alleged? Sure they do but the harm is not from unbridled sexploitations - it’s the violation of trust, it’s the neglect of the spouse or the children, and it may be psychological abuse imposed upon the family by them. Consensual sexual activity does not harm people.

Proscriptions against gambling seem to suffer from the same deficiencies as drug use. The demarcation line between legal and illegal is drawn arbitrarily and is not based upon sound reason. Legal gambling venues, be they casinos, race tracks or lottery tickets, are regulated and the winning margin of the host is controlled through known odds. Illegal gambling venues suffer from the same deficiency as illegal drug sales in that a sense of trust is not ensured and there is the fear of arrest and imprisonment. Just to be sure that you understand and know that gambling does not cause harm, envision this common scenario. A group of friends gather together in the home of one where they divide the poker chips and then play poker until one wins all the chips. With that win comes some bragging rights and, possibly, some type of prize or nominal financial reward. All of this occurs without anyone being harmed. Thus, gambling does not harm anyone. Have at it.

There is a false attribution fallacy that is applied to the correlation between those who engage in violent sports [or violence based video games for that matter] and actual acts of violence against other people. This fallacy posits that it is the stimulus that precipitates of causes the actual acts of violence against other people. The purported causation fails to consider an organic predilection toward violence which is satisfied for most by engaging in violent sports. If violent sports caused people to commit violent acts against each other then all who are engaged in them would be criminally violent -- which they are not. Thus the argument that violent sports are immoral fails. If you are into violent sports or games be so with a free conscience.

One of my favourite methods of exposing hypocrites is the viewing of pornography. The development of on-line live video streaming and all preceding video based formats was the pornography industry. Quite a stunning feat for something for which only a few percent of the population is engaged in using. That is, unless there is a much larger percentage who is sanctimonious about this issue. If, however, viewing pornography is immoral then the trail of victims who were harmed follows from there. Such is not the case though as a link between the viewing of pornography and a subsequent harm to an individual has never been established. If viewing pornography gets you off then enjoy at your whim as no one is harmed by that.

I feel compelled to include something as absurd as listening to so-called profane music. The concept that words can be immoral is so illogical that no reasonable person can comprehend such idiocy. I recently wrote If this offends you then your child custody case may have a problem in which I explained how so-called offensive words or actions are figments. It is absolutely impossible for a word to harm someone. The purported defenders of morality charge that it is the delivery of the words being directed to someone. However, that is not the word, it is the attitude. Dogs don’t understand our grammar rules and syntax but scold or praise them and they get it. Try this experiment to see whether you feel words actually do harm. Have someone sing this song to someone who doesn’t understand English but replace ‘sunshine’ with a profanity and observe the listener.

Free thinkers have been maligned for myriad ills of society. We so-called heathens are purportedly going to rot in hell for our sin of being reasonable people. Yet, it has never been demonstrated how a lack of credulity toward mysticism has harmed anyone. It could be contended that the opposite is true. Consider the crusades, the basis of the pogrom against the Jews that led to World War II, the ongoing fighting between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East, the three decades of terrorism between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Great Britain, the genocide attempt in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Christians against Muslims, or the war for a Christian theocracy in Uganda. From those it could be said that cults harm people but that also would be a fallacy. It is still those individual followers who do the attacking and killing. However, you just don’t hear of free thinkers starting wars to forcefully impose their beliefs, or rather perviousness, onto others. The closest I can think of is Communist suppression of Buddhists in Tibet but it would be a stretch to call a Communist a free-thinker.

For purposes of economy I will end this with vaccinations and not go into a litany or supposed immoralities. Those people who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children for current or once predominant diseases should not be subject to the vituperations of the high and mighty who choose otherwise. Clearly the spread of disease does cause harm but as with many other outcomes cause must be properly evaluated as I have presented in the sections on drugs, religion, and gambling. Not getting vaccinated may leave one susceptible to infection but it takes further actions to spread it. My point is not to assign blame to carelessness but, rather, to expose the hypocrisy in blaming those who choose not to vaccinate. In 2011 an analysis on measles cases revealed that 86% of infected individuals weren’t vaccinated against the infection or didn’t know if they had been vaccinated. [en1] There can be only three categories of people when it comes to vaccinations; vaccinated, not vaccinated, and unknown. So who are the other 14% of cases? People vaccinated against measles. So to say that it is people who don’t vaccinate that are spreading the disease is lying by omission by those espousing their self-righteous indignation. If you believe that your vaccine is effective then you shouldn’t give a damn what other people do.

It is a reality that there is no such thing a addiction to something. That truth has yet to be embraced by profiteers as it is to their financial detriment. There are chemically-mediated states of arousal that self-reinforce patterns of behavior. Addiction is only a label conceived to wrestle control from the individual and blame an outside force that can then be “sold” to the addict. There may be mental states which could be correctly associated to a feeling or biological response labeled addictions. There can also be withdrawal symptoms. There are numerous ways in which one can satisfy the predispositions for, cravings or addictions. I refer to drugs as the lazy man’s high because it is a shortcut to the activity that actually satiates.

You have likely heard the phrase high on life. This refers to the activities, or catalysts, that produce the same biological effect on brain chemistry as a drug -- production of dopamine or endorphins. For some people it may be romantic encounters. Other may get high off the thrill of skydiving or base jumping. Many get a rush from danger or the perception of danger. Anger and revenge also provide a physiological response that leads to craving and recurrence. For me fulfilment comes from heat and exercise. Temperatures below about 75F are uncomfortable for me. This winter has been miserable. A few years ago when Therin and I were in Arizona we hiked down the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River. It was 90F when we departed at 10:00am and 120F at the river. By 6:30pm when we returned to the top it had cooled to 90F. What a thrill though. Everyday we went outside around midday and hiked somewhere. One day it was a 10 mile trek along the interstate to a buffet. Most times it was climbing some protrusion from the earth’s crust. Similarly in the winter I exercise on the various contraptions in my home. There have been days where I am going for six hours and the next morning I ache, have blisters, and feel exhausted. But what do I do, the same thing to alleviate the pain or down feeling. I used to ride a bike 500 miles a week and get cortisone injected into my knees so I could keep going. Self-regulation requires great will. This is the primary duty of a coach -- regulation. It is also what addicts lack.

Those who purport to be imposing their will upon others for the benefit of their unwitting victims are not so altruistic. The “public good” argument is a rationalization for trying to get people to engage in activities that are beneficial to those seeking the prohibition. Socially acceptable is a euphemism for “commercially viable” and in a selfish way. Few who advocate for prohibitions and who ‘know what is best’ for others have actually spent the hours upon hours with these individuals in therapeutic sessions as I have. If they had they would know that there is no universal life fulfilling activities or behaviours. These specious public good arguments can be dispelled in toto.

There is your proof. The people who embrace liberty for all are right. I have no desire to propitiate those who hang onto and support morality based proscriptions. I declare that they are wrong and likely hypocritical while being illogical simultaneously. They do the true harm to society. So embrace liberty and do whatever you want that gives you pleasure while exhibiting the will for self-regulation that preempts abuse. You will likely find yourself having a more fulfilled and pleasurable existence - living.

[1] Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 2012.

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