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Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 9:39pmSanction this postReply
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This is the continuation of the Jeanine Ring related discussion which erupted on the recent Kant and the New Tactics to Destroy Objectivism article thread.  I felt it was time to move the discussion here.

My reaction to George Cordero's posts is a mixed one.  First off, I felt he went over the top by referring to Jeanine Ring as a male.  A transgender individual in our society often goes through serious psychological trauma before they conclude that undergoing a sex change is the only possible way for them to resolve their turmoil.  And assuming the operation helps alleviate these issues, it would be wrong to dig up these past feelings of guilt and confusion by describing her new physiological makeup as illegitimate.  (Interestingly, the topic raises a question for Objectivists: Is gender a choice?)

However, much of what Cordero said was the truth.  Although Jeanine's posts had a unique erudition to them, she said many things that were irrational and an affront to Objectivist ideals.  The problem was not that she made irrational posts - examples of that sort of thing are relatively regular occurences on an open forum - instead, the problem lied in the fact that her positions went virtually unchallenged most of the time. 

Jeanine posted under the assumption that her profession was every bit as normal and moral and as a banker, teacher or plumber, and that hedonism was a not merely an alternative lifestyle for the few willing to bear its risks, but that it was in fact a virtue that should be practiced by all people of all ages! 

Health, wealth and security were not important values to her, as evidenced by the following quote:

Objectivism is ultimately concerned with whether someone embodies the 'rational' values that produce health, wealth, and security, and it is ultimately willing to kill passionate happiness that is not proper to a middle-class society.

Objectivism, as I understand it, is about the effort to integrate all of the above with passionate happiness.  Such integration is by all means a challenge, but the mere existence of some of the people on this site proves it can be done.  Jeanine also makes the claim that others hate her because they can't accept the fact that she is happy with her lifestyle --- I would argue that she hates the fact that others are happy by embracing so-called bourgeois values. A common thread here is that Jeanine outright rejects the concept of acting in the interests of one's long term benefit and happiness.

Moving on, I'd like to tie in a passage from a recent Joe Rowlands article on the challenge of maintaining flexibility in SOLO discussions:

In my experience, this is usually only a problem anyway when non-Objectivists with a particular philosophical fetish try to get every thread to talk about their own topic.  We may deal with these attention-seekers, but the best thing people can do is ignore them, or at least move the discussion to another thread.

Prostitution and hedonism were among Jeanine's favorite pet issues, and she had an annoying habit of introducing those topics too much into threads on totally unrelated topics.  Much of this clap-trap was in fact ignored, but after awhile, someone will eventually say something, hence George Cordero's inflamatory posts and the current discussion. 

Regarding prostitution in general, I, like Hong, am trying to make up my mind intellectually as to its morality.  In the sense that prostitution is voluntary, it is not immoral since it doesn't directly violate the rights of others, but I believe that acting against your long term best interest is also a form of (private) immorality, and a reasonable case can be made that "ass selling" (sorry Linz, that *is* essentially what we're talking about here) fits such a criteria.  Furthermore, the way she views herself as a serious creative artist in her prostitution is ridiculous.  

With all that said, I am sorry to see that she has given up on philosophy and left SOLO for good.  While I obviously have serious disagreements with her, she provided an extremely unique perspective on the issues, and her knowledge of the humanities always impressed me.  I wish her well.         

(Edited by Pete on 12/21, 10:38pm)




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Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 10:50pmSanction this postReply
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Rooster Puke said on another thread about what would Linz pick:

The defender of Objectivism or the hedonistic dissenter?





 

Mr. Puke, if this is your criteria for choosing enemy or friend, you'd be in big trouble. Like there are all different kinds of Christians, there are also all different kinds of Objectivists. To repeat something I said before, being an Objectivist doesn't guarantee that a person is moral or a person will not commit immoral acts.

 

George, Byron and John,

I have come to respect you gentlemen through reading your posts. I am not entirely surprised with your altitude toward Jeanie, though I am still shocked at George’s lashing out which aimed to be cruel, to hurt, and to rid. George, you know the power of your words. They have been superbly effective on a sensitive, intelligent but obviously troubled and unbalanced youth who is absolutely defenseless before such an onslaught.

 

Byron said, and George quoted him:“If ...withdrawing moral sanction for what we believe to be immoral is "prejudiced" or "bigoted", then so be it.” I agree with this. However what exactly is that you consider immoral? Dissenting Objectivism or prostitution? I need you guys absolutely clear on these.

 

What would be you reaction to Jeanine’s posts were she not a transgender escort and had not flaunted her profession/life style ever so often? What else from her that you "have had enough" and could not tolerate any more?

 

If it is your conviction that prostitution is immoral and you’d have none of it. Fine, have the courage to just say so and I won’t fault you for it.

 

To make my own stand clear, I am 100% agree with what Linz said in his post (yup, go ahead, call me an ass-kisser), though his use of language is still a bit too colorful for me.

 

Yours,

 

Hong


(Edited by Hong Zhang on 12/21, 10:54pm)




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Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 11:29pmSanction this postReply
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  I really dislike trying to speak in Jeanine's name---since that's something that only she herself can really do properly---and I dislike even more contributing to making a person a topic of debate. But I keep seeing people attributing to Jeanine viewpoints which she has never espoused and has in fact explicitly denied on several occasions, so I feel compelled to say something.

Jeanine posted under the assumption that [...] hedonism was a not merely an alternative lifestyle for the few willing to bear its risks, but that it was in fact a virtue that should be practiced by all people of all ages!
  I know there was a thread where Jeanine spent several posts explaining that hedonism as she advocated it does not mean that one should do whatever feels good right now, but that one should pursue the maximal pleasure possible (in either the short or the long term). I can't find that thread right now, so I can't quote Jeanine's exact words on the topic, but I believe that everything she said about her conception of hedonism was compatible with the Objectivist principle that happiness is the moral aim of a man's life. Now, there are valid disagreements between Jeanine and mainstream Objectivism on what, properly, constitutes happiness, but that is a distinct issue. Her advocacy of hedonism, as she defined it, was not in itself contrary to Objectivism.

 
Health, wealth and security were not important values to her, as evidenced by the following quote:

Objectivism is ultimately concerned with whether someone embodies the 'rational' values that produce health, wealth, and security, and it is ultimately willing to kill passionate happiness that is not proper to a middle-class society


  No, she says nothing here about those values being unimportant. Her argument---in this quote taken alone, and I believe in its context as well, and consistently in just about every other similar debate she's been involved in here---is that Objectivists tend to think of "health, wealth, and security" as primary goals in life, and in doing so make "passionate happiness" a secondary concern; and that this is an error in thinking, because it is "passionate happiness" is the end, and "health, wealth, and security" are merely the means.


It probably comes down to the fact that Jeanine outright rejects the concept of acting in the interests of one's long term happiness and well being).


  And this is just plain wrong, as evinced pretty explicitly by her own words:


What we need is the rational planning of gratification- the intelligent living of a life that is both a continuous, structured pursuit of joy and the shameless congruent indulgence in the pleasures of the moment that are part of the good life.  I have no admiration for mindless grabbing of any pleasure in sight at the cost of a ruined life, but I have not the slightest bit more respect for the mindless postponement of every pleasure in sight, which also leads to the ruin of life. 


  I don't know; maybe I'm just looking too hard to see the Objectivist sense of life, or maybe I'm just not reading the same posts that everyone else seems to be, but I have never seen anything in any of Jeanine's posts that strokes me as being fundamentally incompatible with Objectivism.

  (And no, before anyone asks, my attempt at clarifying Jeanine's viewpoint should not necessarily be taken as an endorsement of that viewpoint.)

  (And is there any way for a person forced into using IE for a time to turn off this editor and use the Gimpy Netscape version that one can actually type in? Or am I just too weird for preferring typing HTML and hex character codes to clicking buttons?)




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 12:44amSanction this postReply
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Nature,

What exactly is preventing you from using Firefox?

About Jeanine:

I think that she came here expecting to find a virtual community of people who took The Fountainhead seriously. What she found was a mixture: Linz, Chris, I, Nature, Robert and several others do take The Fountainhead as the foundation of our own individual ways of relating to the world. Then there are others - George, Rooster, Byron - who never grasped what is so very wrong with the kind of Bourgeois "success" that Peter Keating reveled in. Who claim, moreover, to be authorities on things of which they are manifestly and deeply ignorant. George, born and raised on Long Island, claimed to know more about totalitarianism that I, who lived for 10 years in Communist Poland. Rooster claims to be an authority on "Objectivist" parenting, yet endorses a coercive parenting style suited better to producing collective-factory drones - than to growing, as I successfully have, several authentic, responsible, self-actualizing, passionate young individuals. And so on.

I would venture so say that Jeanine made a bad mistake in taking that crew for representatives of a Randian virtual community. She would have been better off ignoring them, because the rest of us were benefiting from an exciting intellectual engagement with her very different, and therefore critically useful, take on Rand and Objectivism. Compared with her, the loss of the whole crew of conservatoid carpers would be negligible - they have clones by the dozen, and we will never run short of their kind.

Jeanine is an Individual, and losing her is a significant blow to the usefulness of this forum.



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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 5:46amSanction this postReply
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Hong,

Please do not lecture me on friendship, especially when it has nothing to do with my remarks to Perigo.  As every Objectivist should know, context is everything.  This is a forum on philosophy -- Objectivist philosophy to be precise.  What I said to Perigo had nothing to do about who we should pal around with and everything to do about properly identifying what falls within the realm of objective morality and what does not.  Such as ...

Adam (per your request),

You do me an injustice.  My most pointed remarks about parenting were clearly in the context of Jeanine's advocacy of parents letting children have sexual relationships.  What Objectivist can seriously argue the morality of sex with children or even among children?  A parent would have to despise a child to let him or her loose into such an emotional tumult inviting only disaster.

My remarks were also in the context of the story you posted.  Frankly I have little sympathy for the complaints of child who feels constrained by his parents' rules when he is mature enough to fend for himself yet prefers the comforts of mom and dad's largess.  In fact, I think an Objectivist can recognize such complaints not as a sign of maturity but of immaturity.  The bottom line is that you don't bite the hand that feeds you.  If you reach that point, it means it's time to feed yourself.

At no point, Adam, did I make any statement that could be construed to support restraining the intellectual and moral growth of a child.  You and I agree that is an abomination.

Pukszta




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 5:57amSanction this postReply
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Rooster wrote:
Frankly I have little sympathy for the complaints of child who feels constrained by his parents' rules when he is mature enough to fend for himself yet prefers the comforts of mom and dad's largess.  In fact, I think an Objectivist can recognize such complaints not as a sign of maturity but of immaturity.  The bottom line is that you don't bite the hand that feeds you.  If you reach that point, it means it's time to feed yourself.
Amen, brother!  I second that sentiment -- specious accusations of "spiritual murder" notwithstanding.


Luke Setzer




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 6:19amSanction this postReply
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Jeanine is an Individual, and losing her is a significant blow to the usefulness of this forum.
 
Everyone on the planet is an individual.  How does someone that rejects virtually every tenet of Objectivism contribute to this board's usefulness?
 
George, Byron and Rooster are correct. Tolerance of the views of others does not demand an infinite patience with mischaracterization, insult, smears and disingenuously argued criticism. At some point it becomes obvious that an individual's purpose is not simply to persuade or be persuaded, not merely to discuss or explore, but instead to include a little verbal slap in the face, a little finger poke in the eye, with every communication.  Sooner or later one is going to get a haymaker in return. 
 
I congratulate George (and the others) on having the wherewithal to return fire.






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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 7:31amSanction this postReply
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Hong,

You asked me the following:

"However what exactly is that you consider immoral? Dissenting Objectivism or prostitution? I need you guys absolutely clear on these."

You know me to like blunt questions.  Short answer?  I do not consider disagreeing with Objectivism immoral, especially since I disagree with some of it.  I do consider hedonism immoral.  On prostitution, it should be legal, but it is immoral only because it is only made possible by hedonism.  Nothing I have said to Jeanine is personal.  I said before I did not hate her.  I pitied her.  I pity her even more so because I believe she may have psychological problems and she may need professional counseling.  With those possibilities in mind, it did not making arguing with her pleasant.  George drew a line in the sand and I wanted to stand behind it.

Adam said that I did not understand "The Fountainhead", or what was wrong with Peter Keating.  He believes me to be not an individual, but some clone.  He believes I advocate parenting that "represses" children, forcing them to be obediant servants and not independent adults.  He is wrong on all counts.  I don't mind arguing back, but anyone who can make any of these assertions probably has not read and understood my posts in their full context, so arguing would be a futile gesture.  If someone else wants to quote me in support of any of the above assertions, I'll either explain myself or apologize and take back what I said.




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 8:31amSanction this postReply
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It is quite obvious no one seems to have taken the time to read Judith Levine's HARMFUL TO MINORS, else there would be a discussion of the issue regarding sex among the younger which is befitting to objectivity rather than continuing the paternalistic 'demonization' that a number commenting herein have expressed at least in implication.

 The notion, erroneous that it is, that prostitution is somehow a consequence of hedonism is another of these fictions fostered thru the paternalistic mode of social cohesance foisted by the decending tribalistic cavemen upon the matriarchial societies which were the first civilizations, and from which - thru the temple observances of fertility rites - spawned the idea of sex as a positive, a celebration of being human.

Jeanine served a valued position in seeking to bring forth this positive - allbeit uncomfortable - viewpoint to Objectivists, and it is a shame that the neolithic mindset is so strong, even among those in this forum.  As such, it only goes to show how adulescent civilization still is, and how much more thought is need in critical areas which only in recent years have come forth to serious inquiry.




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 9:58amSanction this postReply
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Yeah, we should go back to worshipping Dionysus and Bacchus.  When's the next orgy?



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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 10:13amSanction this postReply
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Bad joke.  What I should have said that it is false to say that it is either promiscuity or abstinence - a false dichotomy between Dionysus and Jehovah.  Jeanine tried to foster that dichotomy.  I believe what Ayn Rand wrote about sex (not what she may have practiced):

"I say that sex is one of the most important aspects of man's life and, therefore, must never be approached lightly or casually. A sexual relationship is proper only on the ground of the highest values one can find in a human being. Sex must not be anything other than a response to values. And that is why I consider promiscuity immoral. Not because sex is evil, but because sex is too good and too important."

John was kind enough to quote this in another thread and I believe it is appropriate to quote it again here.  I remember similar enough passages in "The Fountainhead", "Atlas Shrugged", "For the New Intellectual", among others (I don't have any of those books available so I can't provide it word-for-word).  If someone can argue that prostitution and promiscuity can somehow compatible with Objectivism, I'd be very surprised.  Otherwise, please don't pretend it is anything but a different view.

Wait, there is a quote I can paraphrase.  It comes from my second favorite character, Francisco D'Aconia:

"Tell me about the woman a man sleeps with and I can tell you about his moral character."

Not word-for-word, but close enough.  When I get my hands on a "Atlas Shrugged", I'll revise this post as appropriate.




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 10:37amSanction this postReply
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Malcolm,

If you have bought into what Levine is selling in "Harmful to Minors", then I have bridge in Brooklyn I'd like you to take a look at.  Bring cash.

For those who haven't read Levine's book, she sets up a straw man (fearmongering or silence in teaching children about sex is wrong) and then not only knocks it done, but pushes the inverse of her straw man (hey, pedophilia is OK because it does not actually physically harm a child).  What is lacking in her book is any shred of objectivity.  She is a leftist with the typical feminist anti-family agenda.  Her book reeks of it.

Why is it the so many Objectivists oppose in a knee-jerk way anything that is traditional about sexuality, marriage, parenting, and children?  How is it Objectivist to embrace pedophilia as the only alternative to Bible-beating demonization of sex?  Little wonder so many regard Objectivists as libertine cranks.  Not everything that is traditional is wrong.  Some of things are traditional because they have been proven to work over the generations.

When it comes time to reviewing how we do things, we don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Especially if that means turning the baby over to the buggerers.  (That's a joke.)  Objectivism means we RATIONALLY consider what works and what doesn't.  It doesn't mean opposing everything non-Objectivists believe and do.

Pukszta




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 10:41amSanction this postReply
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What I should have said that it is false to say that it is either promiscuity or abstinence - a false dichotomy between Dionysus and Jehovah.  Jeanine tried to foster that dichotomy.
  I think the dichotomy which is often assumed is more accurately described as between promiscuity and monogamy. And far from fostering such a dichotomy, I believe that Jeanine has always advocated an intermediate position: that of the permissibility of sex with multiple individuals, in response to and in proportion to the values embodied by each individual.

  So the point of disagreement is really whether sex is a response to value in general, or a response specifically to the highest value.




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 10:50amSanction this postReply
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Setzer,

Thanks for the thumbs up.  I appreciate it from someone who had to put up with a lot of guff for speaking commonsense in thread about Adam's youthful indiscretions.

It baffles me how some Objectivists can twist things so around when it comes to sex that sexual "liberation" for children is more important to them than the parental responsibility of preparing children for genuine independence.  I look at my own situation where in the space of a decade I have the awesome task of getting my youngsters ready so that they can fend for themselves in the world.  Yet, that's supposed to take a backseat to letting them "hook up" and make babies on MY dime?

Pukszta




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 10:58amSanction this postReply
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Leseul,

I think an important divide among Objectivists is whether exclusivity in sexual relationships is an objective value to be pursued or merely a personal preference.  My problem with those who argue that exclusivity is no better than a personal preference is that they cannot cut loose from the hedonism that anchors their position.

Pukszta




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 1:09pmSanction this postReply
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Rooster,

Let me make a list of what is false in your response. First, you write, "What Objectivist can seriously argue the morality of sex with children or even among children? A parent would have to despise a child to let him or her loose into such an emotional tumult inviting only disaster."

But neither Jeanine nor I were writing about children. A sixteen-year-old adolescent is not a child, and hasn't been for years. You are setting up a straw man.

You write: "Frankly I have little sympathy for the complaints of child who feels constrained by his parents' rules when he is mature enough to fend for himself yet prefers the comforts of mom and dad's largess."

The characterization of parental support of the adolescent (or child) as "largesse" is also a falsehood. Support is an unconditional obligation voluntarily undertaken by the parents, and unless the adolescent initiates force against the parents, that obligation must be kept. The adolescent has no corresponding obligation to the parents, since her association with them is not of her doing. As long as she does not initiate force against them, she is a free person and, having reached the age of reason, their moral equal.

You write, "At no point, Adam, did I make any statement that could be construed to support restraining the intellectual and moral growth of a child." But to be able to act in accordance with one's own judgement, particularly in something as essential to the self as a romantic relationship, is an integral aspect of the adolescent's intellectual and moral growth. Moral growth, in particular, is impossible without the freedom to exercise one's judgement, choice, and moral agency. I recognize that once the adolescent has reached the age of reason, further denial of her moral agency is an abomination. Do you?
(Edited by Adam Reed on 12/22, 1:34pm)




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 1:48pmSanction this postReply
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Byron,

You have expressed agreement with Rooster on the points I discuss above. Specifically, you have asserted that parental support to adulthood may be legitimately conditioned on the adolescent's surrender of her own moral agency to the parents'. Let's start with the above.



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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 2:05pmSanction this postReply
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Adam,

You wrote: Specifically, you have asserted that parental support to adulthood may be legitimately conditioned on the adolescent's surrender of her own moral agency to the parents'. Let's start with the above.

No, I did not.  I said that parents should unconditionally support the child's biological and safety needs (e.g. food, clothing, shelter) until adulthood (for clarity, I eventually said that the law should define adulthood not on age but as when an individual can reasonably support himself financially).  Anything above and beyond providng for those needs is conditional.  I do not count providing a graduate or professional education among those basic needs, regardless of how much the parent's income or net worth is.

What I did say that may construe some to believe that I do not advocate unconditional support is that I also believe a child should respect the fact the parents are providing for him (even if it is legally required), just like I respect the police and the military, even if it is their job to defend my rights.  This this mean 100% agreement 100% of the time?  No.  It only means that they should prepare for the consequences (e.g. not having their college education paid for).  Freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand.  So do choices and consequences.




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 2:26pmSanction this postReply
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Rooster,

You write, "Why is it the so many Objectivists oppose in a knee-jerk way anything that is traditional about sexuality, marriage, parenting, and children?" I don't know ANY Objectivists who are opposed to traditional (meaning naturally evolved over many generations) approaches to these issues. Objectivism IS opposed to those "traditions" that are really based on credal religious beliefs, and for that reason are not coherent with ethical reality.

The traditions of non-credal cultures that grew around Judaism, Buddhism etc. accord quite well with Ayn Rand's own, and subsequent Randian perspectives on the same issues. Here is what Rabbi Michael Gold, writing from the perspective (religious but non-credal) of the world's oldest ethical tradition, writes about adolescents, parents, and romantic relationships (Does God Belong in the Bedroom?, p. 178):

"If they do become sexually active as teenagers, we can hope that young people will have all the tools mentioned above, particularly strong self-esteem, accurate knowledge, and positive moral values. Parents can help them weather these turbulent years by being "askable parents" who listen to their children's questions without anger or intolerance. We do not have to agree with everything our children do to be a loving presence in their lives." "It would be irresponsible for any sexually active person not to have protection. It is a parent's responsibility to make sure that sexually active youngsters have access to adequate birth control." Etc.

All this is of course contextual. When I was young, there was tight censorship, and accurate birth control information was not something that ANY parent could provide to an adolescent. But the Randian demand that parents "listen to their children's questions without anger or intolerance" is not, as a fact of reality, anti- (or non-) traditional. It accords well with some traditions - and justifiably condemns other traditions for being incompatible with objective morality.



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Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 2:26pmSanction this postReply
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Adam,

You asked me, "I recognize that once the adolescent has reached the age of reason, further denial of her moral agency is an abomination. Do you?"

How do I deny a child of mine "moral agency" by requiring her to live according to the rules of the house while she resides with me?  Any child truly capable of mature reason has options if she cannot abide by my rules.  She can emancipate herself (either legally or effectively by running away), she can find a jurisdiction which will permit her to marry without parental consent and set up a household apart from me, or, if she's sensible, she'll endure my tyranny for a few years until she reaches the age of majority.

We agree that it is an abomination for a parent to not respect the rational beliefs a child forms.  While a family is not a democracy, it is not totalitarian either.  Likewise, it is an abomination for any child of mine to make a claim upon my purse to finance choices I do not approve of.  If my sixteen-year-old daughter wants to start sleeping around, under what Objectivist principle am I obligated to let her do so but still fork over the cash when it comes to paying for the abortion or for the care of a new grandchild?  No one has that moral claim upon me.

This is where your argument breaks down, Adam.  You state that parents have an unconditional obligation to support their children.  You and I agree upon this.  We also agree that the child had no choice in this arrangement.  However, if a child truly has entered the age of reason, then he does start to have choices in that arrangement.  Those choices mostly boil down to making himself independent of his parents' finances.  If he does not choose independence (for example, getting a part time job to pay for things his parents refuse to buy for him), then what complaint does he have about the rules he must live with?

Even then, his new independence is still constrained by the fact that he lives in my house.  He gets a job so he can buy cigarettes.  Do I deny him moral agency if I refuse to let him smoke them in the house?  Let's step this up a notch.  Let's say he wants a job to finance a heroin addiction.  Of course, his job doesn't pay enough to cover the hospital bill when he overdoses.  As his legal guardian that bill becomes my obligation, as does the bill when he wants to get off the junk.  Or say my sixteen-year-old daughter wants to become a prostitute so that she can pay for her own abortions.  Very decent of her to want to let me off the hook financially for her choices.  Back to the real world.  What evil am I exacting upon her if I do everything in my power to prevent her from making such an awful choice?

Let's talk about reality and not Planet Adam where sex has no consequences for sixteen-year-olds.

Pukszta

P.S.  Thanks, Adam, for correcting my spelling on "largesse".

(Edited by Rooster Puke on 12/22, 2:31pm)




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