Category Archives: DADT IV

“Do Ask, Do Tell IV”: Moral Redux, Part 6

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Now I come back to a more personal part. Homosexuality. Frankly, for most of my life, “homosexuality” has been regarded as a rather unreliable proxy for a mishmash of other problems connected to socialization, whether a person fits into a community (starting with the family) as others expect.

Now, the earlier posts in this series suggest that “society” has some kind of “right” to expect the people whom it reared to “fit in” to its common good. While modern, wealthier societies like the West today generally sees morality in terms of personal responsibility following directly from personal choice, older societies, with lower standards of living, generally are more concerned about some common purpose for the entire group, demanding loyalty of all. I think we humans could compare ourselves to other social animals (like wolves or orcas) and see that we have moved away from distributed consciousness to individualism.

I again start by asking why homosexuality of others is such a big deal for some people (remains so in some religious and authoritarian societies, and was so for much of mainline western history until attitudes started a (at first, very) gradual change in the late 1950s, about ten years before Stonewall. Ask why, indeed. The homosexual is not a conventional threat to take another man’s wife or girlfriend, so why the big deal? It seems to come down to procreation. As an only child, this was particularly important for me. A family line dies with me, for all eternity, until the Sun billows out on Earth and mankind has to move to another solar system. In some perspectives, that is a bigger loss than conventional crime causes. This is not like abortion, because there are no children or beings who have rights because they don’t exist yet, so that is a bit of a relativistic paradox. But the family exists, and it dies with me. Ironically, as a conscious being, I have the “power outside” to affect eternity *by denying eternity my parents’ genes) by not having children just as I would by having a family.

What we document as the history of “gay rights” has changed focus over the decades, and younger gay people (especially young men, non-trans) often act unaware of what things were like in the 80s and previous decades. Today it’s put in terms of “marriage equality” (mostly) or opposing deceptively worded “religious liberty” bills in some socially conservative states (with some recent issue on transgender, which us quite different for people who experience it than the “usual” gay world.). Two decades ago (about the time I was seriously into writing DADT I) there was a huge focus on the military issue. Three decades ago, we were in the bulls eye of AIDS, which was like an approaching long-tracking tornado. Previously, centering around Stonewall, it had been about privacy and more conventionally disruptive discrimination.

The real issue for people seems to be socialization. Living as stable heterosexually married adults with children is scene as tying people to the needs of the family and community, in a way that hopefully minimizes government interference, and that also provides some sort of quasi-equality: we all know that raising a family is a difficult challenge, so if we want to be recognized as significant in the community, we should all take our turns dealing with these risks. At an individual level, such thinking seems to admit vulnerability, but it strengthens the resilience of the group as a whole. Sometimes (like Donald Trump’s protégé Troy McClain) one takes one for the team, and that is virtuous in the long run.

Socialization meets needs that change over time. In the most recent decades, life spans have lengthened, meaning that “our parents” may live longer than before and be disabled for a longer time, to be looked after by fewer adult children than in the past. Furthermore, more can be done about diseases which , from early childhood to adulthood, were in the past deadly or incapacitating. But this will be done only if the social support of the extended (and “natural”) family is around. This has an effect on others in the extended family, including those who did not “choose” to have their own children. Especially for children and younger adults, it is true that focused fundraising for specific needs is much more common and effective today (online) than it had been when I was growing up.

Social attitudes are certainly more “liberal” today than when I was growing up. But there is probably more pressure for people to “come together” as families or other groups to meet targeted needs than there was in the past. This seems like a paradox. In the past, the opportunities for people to bond together were logistically more limited, and so the bonds within in nuclear and extended families seemed more important to people for this to happen at all.

The experience of family socialization was seen as seamless. You developed the skills appropriate for your gender, which for men, included physical competence with tools and a certain physical combativeness in protecting others (women and children). That made it more likely you would find the experience of courtship, dating, marriage, and parenthood working and sustainable, even if deep in your psyche you knew you had desires elsewhere (which maybe could be experienced once in a while in special circumstances, like fraternal hazing). Then it was more likely you could participate in the broader needs of your community, centering around your family. It was difficult to meet real needs of other people without having your own domain, which in turn demanded certain kinds of conformity and practical, non-individualized skills. It became a chicken and egg problem. And some of the things young men were expected to do (like take hits when playing football) turned out not to be in their best individual interest later in life. I was “right” on the irrationality of what was asked of me as an individual, even if it seemed necessary that I share the common risks of the group, under the supervision of a gatekeeper, before I was noticed and recognized for what I could do myself.

Social development really got into the head when it came to sexuality. You were expected to remain interested and passionate about a marital partner for a lifetime, regardless of what misfortunes may detract from the partner’s physical appearance (which could include war or aggression by others or “victimhood”). You actually needed to function in a family bed to be able expand out into the community. Furthermore, if you really were less well off than others, then you still needed to be able to find a marital partner (particularly if you were a woman in the days before women could earn like men in the workplace). Any kind of distraction from the outside that kept you from this – even the sensation of being “scoped” – would be most unwelcome.

Surrounding the marriage was the larger family, where you learned to “love” people who weren’t always simply first on your list of personal choices. Being a married parent was supposed to give you “the power outside” to develop this capacity in your children. The marital bed worked because of the social context around it, a lot of which was eusocial, identifying with the common mind of a family group. So you resisted any public distraction from this “long process piece” of a whole adult life.

In any world where personal values are heavily shaped by personal context, personal motives are often influenced by the idea that everyone else “has to do it, too”. It may sound circular, and it certainly invites manipulation by gatekeepers, by those whose “job” it is to enforce the norms. But some experiences that involve some surrender of independence to others make sense precisely because everyone else must accept living under the same rules. The rules give the social experience and “sacrifice” new meaning, and then reinforce the meaning. So, again, dilution of the meaning meets resistance.

Modesty is a case of context.  Cultures make rules about public exposure and nudity partly to make (marital) sexuality later more rewarding and satisfying.  In fact, there is concern that pornography contributes to sexual dysfunction, especially for men, with real partners.

A particular notion of the past was that the experience of sexuality must be confined to heterosexual marriage when there is openness to having more children.  The idea was supposed to be imposed on everyone.  In the minds of some people, this made “a marriage” more important to have, and could feed jealousy.  It also led to unrealistic expectations of “monopoly” of affection by marriage.  Another idea is that “you” shouldn’t be heard from unless you have a family to support (or have had one).  These sorts of ideas are seen as “equalizing” things for an otherwise “unfair” world.   (Men who gained pleasure other than from physical complementarity were seen as somehow “cheating” others who “followed the rules”.) They emphasize the idea that people need to do things together, and that solidarity can become its own virtue, even if the outside purpose turns out to be wrong (example: West Bank settlements). Enforcing this kind of discipline on members of a group (particularly on gender matters)  has been thought to make the group more resilient to outside threats, and this is a big deal for outliers like me.  What I say and do indeed affects what others think their family lives “mean”.

There was a flip side, in this notion of “meaning”, in the way I perceived others in the gay world into which I emigrated. The idea of “standards” of “masculinity” was important to make this whole “process piece” of upward affiliation work. So I could understand, too, not liking to see other dilute the meaning of the experience I had. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” could have many contexts indeed.

(Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2016, at 10:30 PM EDT)

“Do Ask, Do Tell IV”: Moral Redux, Part 5

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Today, I’ll give a list of functional components of personality, at least as it seems to me. Call them “functionable” instead if you like.

These are personal functions that go beyond the narrower western idea of immediate personal responsibility for personal choices. The validity of some choices can be affected by external circumstances and common needs. Around the world, the idea of a “mooch” seems to be a much bigger deal, inciting indignation leading to personalized rage, than it usually is in modern western culture. It is often put in religious terms (what “God” wants) but used to be phrased in secular ideas like “class warfare” or even national destiny. It tends to invite authoritarianism if not recognized in time.

So, if we want to keep a reasonably free and open society, we have to recognize what is on each and every one of us.

In this piece, I’ll refer to the individual as “you”. That’s the impersonal “you” or “vous” in French, not “tu”. Understand that these are assertions, essentially in subjunctive mood. Foreign languages have a lot to teach us about how to express things.

(1) INTERDEPENDENCE:

“You” will learn to meet the real needs of others in a social environment, usually at first the family you are born into. This is not something that waits until you cause children to be born. In many families, you might start with aging relatives (eventually your parents) or younger siblings. Gradually, you move out and address real needs in various other communities, dealing with their own norms. You won’t hang around them just to cherry pick.

Indeed, most of us accept the idea of parental authority to the point that the child needs to learn skills (and self-discipline) to make a living first and how to make choices in a consequentialist world. But interdependence goes beyond that, to accepting the idea of what it means to belong to a social unit. It may mean living in close proximity to others that sometimes one might not have chosen. It means accepting help as well as giving it.

“You” don’t have a right to pretend to be “better” than those in y0ur cohort just by avoiding the risks that they face.

Interdependence requires that “you” develop some judgment in when to “take care or your own” first and when to branch out of your safe zone culturally. But the world should not be “us v. them”.

(2) INHERITANCE:

As an individual, you may benefit from the family and surrounding environment (country) that reared you. But you also bear some personal moral responsibility for what the society you depend on does.

This idea is sometimes put in terms of political participation and voting for the most responsible candidates (and supporting these with taxes). Why that is valid, another component is sharing the risk that your family and other groups above it (country) incur. We are used to separating this out with the idea of uniformed military and law enforcement, who knowingly take more of the risk. That separation, sadly, is not absolute. The controversy over the male-only military draft and various (family and academic) deferment systems of the past illustrates the point. It’s important to understand this history. The fact that, in more rural areas, firefighting is “volunteer” makes us ponder this point. Civilians can find themselves within the sights of the rage of others. On a certain reality level, however rarely and tragically, sometimes civilians “pay” for this with their own lives. (“It is what it is.”)

(3) INEQUALITY:

Capitalism and a money system allows people to separate their “wealth” from the labor that earned it, at least temporarily and situationally. Capital therefore gives people the flexibility to innovate, gradually raising standards of living for others around them (sometimes “trickle down” does indeed trickle). Absolute socialism or communism has the problem that political structures really can’t do a very good job of allocating wealth by need “fairly” and destroy the desire to innovate.  “According to needs” is much easier to assess in a local environment, starting with “natural family”.

That said, most “successful” people have to realize that they have sometimes benefitted from the unseen sacrifices of others in the distant workplace. That’s like saying, “Most people walk in the direction they’re heading.”

So, “you” have sometimes exploited others without fully realizing it.
“Equality” is a very loaded term. Generationally, it is logically impossible. Biologically, it’s impossible – and sometimes the actions of others make it worse (like the recent lead poisoning issue). Equality before the law should be attained, with respect to traits that do not really matter. Race is absolutely irrelevant as to personal worth in every area. Religious practice is a personal matter to be left alone. Sexual orientation is a matter usually irrelevant in every area except reproduction.

So who we think about others as individuals, given circumstances, becomes an issue.

The only resolution is that “you”, once able to do so, will gradually restore toward equality by giving back to others, sometimes in personal ways as well as with money – more or less a payback for what was done for you, even before you were aware of it. The world is changing in this respect. Today, “raising up” someone who previously could not contribute as an independent adult is considered a virtuous activity, that “sells” and is popular. But that was not the case in the world in which I grew up. That is a big cultural perspective change for me to deal with.

Freedom really depends on people taking this challenge up in a personal way, so that government does not have to do as much in allocating finite resources among the needy in maintaining a safety net. This is a heart of conservative thought. And much of this develops in the traditional family at first.

Imagine the impression our world makes on people who grow up in authoritarian cultures with lower living standards.  The inequality and evasion of shared risk creates a world that doesn’t make sense to them, and they cannot compete in a world of hyperindividualism. No wonder some want to join gangs or, worse, militant groups like ISIS.

In my young adulthood, I encountered this kind of anger, more from people on the secular radical Left.  I did “spy” on meetings where radical people said that sitting on (unearned or inherited) hoarded wealth was stealing or a crime, and that expropriation by force could be appropriate.

However, as Eric Hoffer pointed out back in the 1950s, the concerns about inequality go beyond just incomes or unearned unequal wealth.  The very idea that one person can view himself as superior to others in the group is anathema. Belonging to, and accepting the goals of and sharing the perils of the group, especially when a “cause” or mass movement, becomes a moral virtue in itself. This observation links back to demands that everyone accept interdependence within the group (the first topic).

(4)  RESILIENCE:

This is the most difficult point and central to everything. “You” can’t count on the “system” to protect you 100% of the time.
I have great respect for the idea that people should be able to defend themselves and others if challenged, but as a policy matter access to guns is still a bit of an open issue with me.

More relevant is the ability to take care of oneself and others in more primitive circumstances, the “doomsday prepper” idea. That would even subsume fining a new meaning for one’s existence in a world where one’s props had been taken away, either by natural forces or by others (enemies).

But what strikes me as the most critical part of resilience, beyond interdependence as above, it the ability to make and sustain personal relationships (and find new directions) after being maimed or disfigured in a way that would normally challenge the idea of being loved at all.

During the Vietnam era, I used to say I did not want to come back if maimed (I escaped having to go), and other people said that, too. But one can see how saying that simply makes people even more inviting targets for enemies. (Relevant post here, Aug. 12, 2014). My own father’s proverb from the 1950s, “To obey is better than to sacrifice” seems particularly disturbing now.

Of course, I can “screw up” and throw everything away by poor choices or behavior. But the idea of having it yanked away by force over the indignation of someone else is disturbing in ways “you” won’t recognize until you have to face it.

(5) SUSTAINABILITY:

The usual notion is that “you” don’t have to worry about what happens after you’re gone. Now, I think there are good reasons to think there is an afterlife of some sort, and you will know what is happening and may regret not being able to do anything about it (unless being reincarnated – “born again”).

But the way “you” use resources can be viewed as a moral issue. If you are single, living close to work, biking or using public transit are all morally preferable. Renting a car alone and driving long distances might not be tolerable forever – unless we can go to completely green energy.

All that said, I think we can innovate our way around these problems – to have clean energy, with an infrastructure to support the mobility people want to go with it, and a much safer and more resilient power grid (and communications grid – the Internet).

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We’ve had a technological civilization that allows someone like a good life, partially on the backs of others, to flourish for maybe less than a century. What will things look like in 100 years, 1000 or 10,000, or even one billion? How far into the future does this matter? Maybe when I go, I do find out. Time in the afterlife may behave very differently than it does on this plane. Some day, future generations will have to find other planets for homes, and will have to deal with the moral problems of handpicking people for the journeys. People may have to sustain themselves for generations on a spaceship ark. Life could become much more collective again.
And my genes, and the legacy of my parents’ marriage, will not be part of it, since I am an only child.

(6)   REVERENCE FOR LIFE:

The obvious concern is, of course, abortion. But that really lets a lot of us off easy. It could never affect me, right?

The deeper point is the value of life that has been reduced in potential, by natural accident, tragedy, or the actions of others. How important personally is the life of someone with Alzheimer’s? In the past, we didn’t have to think much about that question, but today people live much longer, so we have to deal with a new generation of dependents that did not exist much in the past.

A more divergent point considers non-human personhood. At last one other groups of species, dolphins and orcas, seems to have risen to about our level of self-awareness. Orcas can’t make tools, and may have a much more distributed sense of personal consciousness than we do.

And one day, we may have to deal with how we value intelligent life that did not originate on this planet. It could even be here without our recognizing it.

(Published: Thursday, March 24, 2016, at 3:30 PM EDT)

“Do Ask, Do Tell IV”: Moral Redux, Part 4

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The last story in my DADT-III book starts with a reference to someone like me as a “Pharisee”.  I’ll come back to that.

The simplest formulation of personal morality in modern western culture is simply personal responsibility.  One is responsible for the outcomes of the choices he or she makes, insofar as they affect others.  Harmlessness, in a direct sense, can often defend otherwise gratuitous behavior.  This is the simple libertarian outlook.  But it is modified by the idea that one has to make a living, so one will need to perform services or goods that people need and will pay for.  That provides some practical incentive to be temperate in choices, as well as the development of self-discipline necessary at least to hold down a good job.  Indeed, this libertarian formulation can often take us quite far.

But sometimes people have to respond to external threats of influences that they would not have chosen to be placed under.  Often this requires working together in new ways and the ability to make sacrifices, to defer to the needs of others.  This kind of development tends to call for social conformity, and taxes those who perceive themselves as “different” more than others.

I am indeed “different” in a sense that is meaningful here.  My own goals tend to be self -expressive. Yes, I like recognition, or at least the belief that my writings make a difference in the outcome of debate, that my fiction and later my music can have emotional impact.  I am probably seen as aloof and diffident, and unresponsive to many personal situations that normally require more emotion from others.  In my sexuality, there is a lot of upward affiliation and fantasy, which sometimes can set up situations that can actually work.  There is a tendency for me to believe that my interpersonal choices and decisions really do matter to others, and have an expressive effect.

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In the New Testament, the Pharisees liked to be heard for their much speaking.  But they were also socially cohesive as a religious group.  I don’t represent any particular group.

Even given the legitimacy of my purposes, I am capable of ineffective choices.  But, over the years, and especially in recent times. The bigger people of properly belonging, of being prepared to share community risk with others, has grown as a moral issue, compared to “personal responsibility” in a narrower sense.  This is partly because of the occurrence of external events and demands as they affect me, and as a result of threats to our way of life as a whole, particularly from force and possibly terrorism.  Indeed, the “doomsday prepper” mentality has some effect;  is it morally sufficient to assume that the “system” will always work for me when it hasn’t for others?

This is a disturbing observation: politicians often push the idea that they can achieve more social and economic stability by advocating more personal discipline from the outliers of society, expecting them to stay in their proper place.  It’s upsetting, maybe offensive, but I do get the point.

“Moral principles” would refer to things we must do, or avoid doing, in certain contexts.  We sometimes do have to respond to “knocks on the door”.  Although actual incidents are rare for most of us, how we respond to combativeness of others, when we could indirectly endanger others, is a critical moral issue that we must all own individually.

Before going on, let me give a couple specific references from Blogger that prepare this argument; one from today  and one from January 11 

So what are these Extended Moral Principles that should apply to “someone like me”?

In math, you start out with definitions and postulates, and then prove theorems.

I’ll start out with a few postulates.

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(1) Subscription to a specific religious creed (concerning the nature or wishes of God/Jehovah/Allah is not by itself a moral issue.  These principles will probably comport with moderate forms of most faiths, and comport with the idea of people living together in as much liberty as is possible and sustainable.  The underlying operating principle is “karma”.

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(2) One starts out in life by inheriting some moral responsibility for what his “family group” did, particularly if one benefits at the expense of others outside the family group.

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(3) “It is what it is” and “You are where you are” when you start.  If you start in terrible circumstances (as many people do) it is up to “you” first to pick yourself up.  Then, others may gradually occur moral obligations to help you.

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(4) Related to the idea above, there is nothing inherently honorable about victimhood.  Even though an aggressor may and should be brought to justice separately, the “victim” still continues to experience the cost of what was inflicted as part of his or her reality.  Two wrongs don’t add up to a right.

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(5) It is morally legitimate for families, groups, tribes, religious bodies, and countries or nations to be concerned for their long term sustainability and viability. Within reason, legitimate political authority may try to implement these goals upon citizens.

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(6) It is legitimate to be concerned about personally evasive behavior that is likely to be enticing or set a poor example for others with fewer advantages and following normal ideas of immediate self-interest.

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(7) It is legitimate for families (and above) to be concerned with the purposes of unusual behavior, or with what makes someone “tick”, if the apparent endpoint appears to be destructive.

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(8) People will have their own personalized challenges to step up to. In civilization, there is no way to remove this kind of “inequality”.

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So I’ll jump to some conclusions first.  The post following this will enumerate some principles that constitute a kind of “proof”.

Here they are:

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(1) It’s important to meet the real needs of others with what one does.  This is obviously a lot easier to reconcile with personal expressive goals for some than for others, and a lot of it depends on native talent as well as practical skill levels.

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(2) If one has benefited by the unseen sacrifices others (from within or without the group) then one will need to “give back” later in life when having the opportunity to.  This is a concept some people call “rightsizing”.  The opposite would constitute permanent mooching.

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(3) In a free society, it is difficult to criticize the “freeloading” of someone else without being guilty of the same sins oneself.  But a proper free market will encourage “giving back”, and in recent years generous behavior has become much more associated with ultimate economic gain than used to be the case in the past.  Those with inappropriate gains, however, sometimes find that what they have gets expropriated, by those (“revolutionaries”) not concerned about legal penalties themselves, and in these cases, such persons are unlikely to recover their losses.

(Published: Sunday, March 20, 2016, at 11:45 PM EDT)

 

“Do Ask, Do Tell IV”, Moral Redux, Part 3

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Before getting more specific as to how these ideas apply to individual s like me, let me present this chart:

There is a related posting on Blogger March 2 which credits the original Vox essay Feb. 5, 2016 by Emily Ekins and Jonathan Haidt on Moral Foundations Theory, especially as it relates to the moral view of people who support Donald Trump compared to the other more mainstream candidates.

Moral cat antonym Consol cat color candidate Nolan chart comment
caring harm empathy blue Sanders, Clinton(somewhat less) liberal but sometimes communitarian tends to stress groups, sometimes faith-based fellowship, too
individual fairness cheating, mooching proportionality green Cruz, Rubio conservative to libertarian personal responsibility an absolute
liberty oppression personal freedom orange Paul, Cruz and Kasich less so libertarian to classically liberal emphasizes personal autonomy, choice
loyalty betrayal hierarchy red “The Donald” Trump authoritarian us v. them, belonging to the group
authority subversion hierarchy red Vladimir Putin authoritarian, both in communism and fascism military values
sanctity degradation, desecration hierarchy red Huckabee authoritarian/fascism but curiously relects self-expression “body fascism” paradox; also, often tied to religions fundamentalism

On March 15, David Brooks, in the New York Times, developed this theme further with an essay, “The Shame Culture“,  having nothing to do with shamans.  Paul Rosenfels has said “shame” is a feminine emotion, “guilt” is masculine.  Brooks connects shame to the group, guilt to the individual.  But individualism is as likely to be feminine as masculine; it is more a matter of having an unbalanced personality.

 

(Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at 1:30 PM EDT)

“Do Ask, Do Tell IV”: Moral Redux, Part 2

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In this series of essays, I am focusing on the question, what should be expected of someone (like me) who perceives himself as “different”.

That’s not quite the same thing as asking how politicians and the rest of the establishment should treat me, or articulating their moral theories, which may be self-serving for “their” purposes. Yes, if I want to be recognized by others, there are ways I “should” behave. It’s especially apparent that people have tended to regard me a possible burden on others who take the risks I run away from, when at the same time I draw public attention to myself. That seems to be the heart of the matter for me. And, yes, one can apply inductive reasoning and imagine a philosophy of handling those who are “different” altogether. Maybe that sounds scary. It should.

So my approach, when starting my book series, first emphasized “rights”, particularly what should be sacrosanct from government and public interference and coercion. I want to review here how that notion progressed in the book series. My thinking went inside out. It did start with, so to speak, “gay rights”, most specifically at first the debate over gays in the military as the issue had evolved in the 1990s. It was immediately apparent, even then, that “gay rights” was a proxy issue for something much bigger, about the proper relationship between an individual’s self-definition and the “collective” needs of the concentric societies (note the plural) containing him. Again, what’s “proper” (or lawful or “constitutional”) isn’t the same matter as what is right for the individual to do and expect.

I proposed, as a core principle, on page xiii, “do we believe in the principle that every adult person is totally responsible for himself or herself?” I could speculate on a lot of reasons why we often don’t. Then, on p. xiv, I wrote “Homosexual curiosity allegedly obstructs the socialization of men in collective pursuits (like the military) that protect society, and male homosexual practice is believed to endanger public health.” Of course, a statement like that convey an artificial reality created by power-sustaining politicians needing scapegoats. I connected my experience in a freshman dorm in a civilian college to the “privacy” (and later “unit cohesion”) arguments made against lifting the gay ban, and I also connected it to some civilian workplace and family issues. There seemed to be an issue with connecting sexuality to later family responsibility, and the idea that gays could “lowball” the system, otherwise “freeload” on it and undermine the socialization of those who make the real personal sacrifices for common good.

In the last chapter, I proposed a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that would become the eleventh of the “Bill of Rights”, in thirteen sections. I guaranteed the “right to privacy” for consensual adult sexual relations (even in the military in most cases), eliminated the draft, protected the woman’s right to choose in the first trimester, and protected speech in some ways. But I was naïve about the ability to keep living a double life (I didn’t yet realize how the Internet would plat out), and about allowing censoring material children could find, believing filters or adult screening could work (as of 1997). I had proposed a 27th Amendment on “Marriage” which may sound like DOMA, but I wanted to let the states experiment and encourage variation. I did not grasp how quickly the marriage equality fight could progress once it would reach a tipping point ten years later.

I saw the military ban as inimical to “people like me” because it seemed like a proxy for the idea that the “me’s” of the world didn’t carry our weight. I didn’t see marriage as a pivotal issue in the 90s, because I had come to equate procreation [under conditions of prior “managed courtship”] with having more responsibility for others (anyway). I also said that government-subsidized benefits for relationships should be given only when there are real economic dependents in the family.

When I followed up with “Our Fundamental Rights” at the end of 1998 (Feb. 11, 2016), I focused on categorizing various kinds of rights at various levels, and then enumerating in my own way the rights that in a constitutional sense should be “fundamental”. We were still living in the world of Bowers v. Hardwick then; Lawrence v. Texas has not yet been written. But the first chapter of the booklet I devled more into the moral paradoxes of “self-ownership” in a somewhat larger sense. In a general way, richer societies place a greater value on personal autonomy or individual sovereignty, compared to smaller, tribal, and often religious cultures with lower technology, where “enemies” and the survival of the group as a whole is a much bigger priority, calling on the discipline and containment of every citizen. Still, that provides fodder for moral theories imposed by leadership.

In 2000, I had printed another booklet called “Bill of Rights 2” which I “withdrew” after 9/11 and instead replaced it with a second “Do Ask Do Tell” book at the end of 2002. I included the intended chapter on BOR2, but also provided a sobering assessment of the response to terrorism. I covered areas like conscription or national service, objections to gay rights when under stress, censorship, and the new issues associated with the permissive and increasingly efficient technology of self-publishing, equals self-broadcast. But here I was building on an idea I had thrown out in just one sentence near the end of DADT-1 in 1997, a “Bill of Responsibilities”.

I waited until 2013 to write my DADT-3. At this point, I had turned the tables around, and reviewed all the expectations on me to conform to the expectations of the “groups”, regarding chore or risk sharing, sexual values, the new opportunities to be heard (or “listened to”), the modern workplace, and the new challenges of eldercare given population demographics. The introduction talked about the importance of our strengthening ability to function together as “social creatures”, largely out of sustainability concerns. There are fiction stories in the second half of the book to reinforce the ideas.

(Published: Thursday, March 3,  2016 at 11:15 PM EST)

“Do Ask Do Tell IV”: Moral Redux, Part 1

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I’m creating a category “DADT-IV” to map through all my concerns over moral issues.  No published book this time, just a series of linked blog posts.

But I need to introduce the series by being a bit blunt. OK, I landed out of my eldercare situation relatively well, with control of “inherited wealth”, something that I didn’t earn (although I could argue about a good portion of it).  There are situations where external events could cause this to be “taken away” from me, by force.  I might not get it back. That can lead to situations where others could bargain with me about the course of the rest of my life.

At my age, 72, there are always risks – we think most of them are medical.  Maybe so, but pure momentum can help out with those:  you really don’t need to give in to the way the medical establishment can mess with your life.  (I’ll skip the political debate on Medicare and Obamacare right now, but you can imagine where I could go with it.) I’m more concerned about natural catastrophes, which provide a more significant risk than I am prepared for, and particularly with external hostility – whether armed aggression, asymmetric terrorism (religious or not), or more conventional crime (which has become more brazen in recent years), or even being framed, a security risk than a lot of us realize. All of these things are relatively unlikely at any particular point, but can lead to catastrophic, life-ending results.  I would categorize the overall risk as “marginal”, maybe even bordering on “slight” that one of these events would eventually (not frequently) happen.

The other side of this problem is what others want – more focus from me on their specific needs, rather than continuing to function as a public pundit.  More skin in the game in terms of relationships (even age-appropriate intimate relationships for anchors) that are “real”.  More solidarity. One problem is that the “example” I set could reinforce the belief in some others who are less “lucky” that there is no point for them in “playing by the rules”, that the world they’ve inherited is meaningless to them.

I have become more conscious of the idea of having to respond to force or coercion in recent years, especially since 9/11 and then my eldercare issue.  When I was working on my main long-track career, I had more sense of control of my own “fate”.  But earlier in my life there was a setup that seems parallel.  I was perceived as a “sissy” who was willing to leave the “mandatory” risk taking to others in the group.  I wanted to focus on my own “special” talents that included music and academics but that did not require competing socially with other people or protecting people in a gender-related matter.

“Morality” in earlier times had as much to do with sharing risk and responsibility that goes with belonging to the “group” as it did with actually taking responsibility, after the fact, for choices one finally makes. That’s understandable in poorer tribal communities, faced with external threats and enemies. There’s no real choice about belonging, and one needs to be “competitive” enough to have a gender-appropriate relationship of one’s own, and have one’s own children, as an adjunct to “belonging”.  So older, more conservative and perhaps religious cultures don’t tolerate “distraction” or expression that could interfere with others’ ability to have families at all.  (This breaks down, of course, with practices like polygamy anyway.) In that sense, sexual conformity (and anti-homosexual attitudes) becomes a proxy for much bigger concerns about stability and having a place (however unequal) for “everyone”.

So I picked up on the idea of social competition, even though I tended to kibitz as a bystander. There was a logical paradox.  I knew that people have to do some things together, and that someone has to be in charge.  There was then, in my mind, a logical tendency to affiliate with those who “appeared” to be the most competitive (and “appearance” cues could be arbitrary indeed). That meant that those who were less competitive were potentially less “valuable” personally.  (Sounds like Donald Trump already.) That logically could mean less motivation to learn the everyday practical skills in helping others with daily life, leading to openness to “real life” relationships.  This sets up a vicious cycle, which could help explain my “autistic” to “schizoid” symptoms earlier in life.  If this is allowed to be “OK” within the purvey of individual rights, there is a risk that a culture as a whole becomes more vulnerable to fascist beliefs, practices and leadership.

The value of my work is, in many ways, keeping track of history.  I got into self-publishing and “blogger journalism” because of the “gays in the military” issue which was both big and small at the same time.  Though affecting relative small numbers of people directly, it invoked sensitivities about privacy, dignity, and speech – and socialization — like almost no other issue, particularly for someone with my own life narrative involving a civilian college expulsion over dorm issues and later the military draft.  Gradually, I started covering most contemporary news problems in a similar fashion.  I do believe that, mostly with search engines, I’ve called attention not only to inadequately covered aspects of the military problem, but to issues like population demographics and the arcane issue of filial responsibility laws, and also to critical way-of-life issues like security for the power grids.  I think it makes a difference that I am “there”.

Nevertheless, I get pummeled about willingness to be loyal to people closer to my own roots, and to my finding meaning in meeting their “real needs”.   I get approached with the idea, “if you were raising an adopted child, you’d have to go out and work for somebody and sell stuff and manipulate people just like we do, so get real.”  With my unusual life narrative becoming public, it really is difficult for me to go to work for narrow partisan “causes” or to “join” with various groups communicating need.  I would like to work for media outlets in a properly conceived environment on critical problems where I’ve made “discoveries”.

Yes, what I do can be dangerous.  It could make enemies, even though it hasn’t so far.  It could even put others in contact with me in jeopardy.  So far, my relatively obscurity as a “name” (much less notorious than Donald Trump) may have actually worked to my advantage.  If I did “lose everything” due to attracting an enemy, or maybe to an unprecedented natural event, there would be no “go fund me”, no transplants, no commemorative memorial.  An event like that would come across as payback, as karma.  And the next time around, it might not be easy (I do think reincarnation is likely in some cases).  Likewise, I can be pretty aloof when it comes to making someone else who experiences misfortune “all right” with personal interaction.  So a hostile event really could prove very ugly. There is no honor in claiming victimhood.

I know this sort of thought stream invites a religious response.  Part of me doesn’t like the idea of accepting “being saved”.  But I am not above any problem someone else encounters.  I can wind up in a homeless shelter too.  I should not see myself as “above” shouting in a demonstration or even picket line. There is no way to be “right” all the time, and at least stay alive.  Both John Travolta and quantum theory tell us that.

The other main response from others comes from a space of “aesthetic realism”.  Others seem to believe that I am not open to intimate relationships in situations where they could “normally” be expected (factoring age), would provide support, and would narrow my focus on others.  If I really “need” people “that way” to deal with life’s unexpected tribunals (the way others do sometimes), it’s easier if everyone else admits needing people the same way.

(Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 11:50 PM EDT)