Monday, January 16, 2017

Rambling + Wrong Things Being Wrong

I have edited this post three or four times. I start on it, then get distracted and then I come back and have to update All the Things. So if something makes no sense? Go me.

So a while back I said I wanted to do a post about inherent evils. I may have used the word intrinsic, but I think that's the wrong term now.

A lot of things have happened since then, work is always interesting and my sister is actually getting married in less than a month married. Much luck to her husband, he knew what he was getting into. I'm the maid of honor...matron of honor? Not sure what the right term is, actually. I'm unmarried (clearly), but not properly a 'maid'. *shrug* Whatever. I'm busy killing myself walking around breaking in cowboy boots because apparently my sister is a red neck of the highest caliber.

Let me tell you how miffed I was that I had to buy not one, but TWO pairs of boots because my sister approved the first pair of boots and then blamed her husband and said that they had to be BLACK boots because of reasons. *rolls eyes* And then I break in a second pair of boots and SHE DOESN'T EVEN GET ANY PICTURES OF THE BOOTS I COULD HAVE BEEN WEARING NORMAL SHOES LIKE A NORMAL HUMAN AND NO ONE WOULD HAVE KNOWN.

I took those boots off so fast.

So. Fast.

I just keep telling myself its her wedding, and she's hardly a bridezilla. And I've told her she only gets the one. I also told her fiancee husband he can't give her back. But seriously, he seems like a good guy and he's a cop, which, the irony is thick here. My sister is studying to be a nurse and he's a cop - I look the most like my maternal grandmother out of the rest of the family and we may...have had certain personality traits in common? Seeing as how we are both always right. ;) But my sister is literally recreating my grandparents' marriage, since my grandmother was a nurse and my grandfather was a cop.


There was also the election.

Which is a thing that happened. I don't really talk about politics, and I'm not planning on changing that now.

Moving on.

My boss, who is a great man, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. It's not the treatable kind and I don't know if it's worse to know that you're going to die, here's a timeline or to know that you're not going to be yourself before the end.



Inherent/intrinsic evil.

I listen to a podcast called Catholic Answers Focus. It's related to the Catholic Answers radio show, which I also listen to, surprise surprise. It's more of a one on one interview kind of a thing. Back in August (OMG that was so long ago) they had an episode titled Natural Law and Civil Law. Which was an interesting listen.

While I was listening, I had a minor epiphany?

So, incest. We can all generally agree that it is terrible and wrong and should not happen. But is it because it is typically an abusive situation or is it because there is something so wrong with the act/concept itself that even if it happens in a 'healthy' way it is still evil?

I was thinking through it in my head, sort of like this.

Incest is wrong because

1) it is an abusive relationship. If it is between an older family member and a younger there is an inherent power differential and the pedophilia aspect just makes it that much worse. If it is between relatives of a more similar age, there is still typically a power imbalance where one party is manipulating or controlling the other due to a variety of factors;

2) step back and say that it is a relationship that is not abusive in that way. There are two people, related, who meet and decide to begin a romantic/sexual relationship. They've never met one another before this, they didn't grow up together, etc. There's no possibility of it being a situation like in the first step. Is it sill wrong?

Yes. But why?

My first thought was because they could possibly have children and those children's probability of being born with significant birth defects is higher than those of people suitably distantly related. I know it doesn't happen in every instance, and that inbreeding can take a long time of repeated occurrences to cause the worst sorts on a regular basis, but it's still an unnecessary risk factor to add to an already risky proposition.

So, 3) take it back another step and say that they will not have children. Better yet, they cannot. For whatever reason.

Is it still wrong?

My brain says yes.

But why?

I suppose one could argue that even a scenario such as this serves to normalize the incestuous relationship, thus perhaps making it an nth more likely that someone will abuse another member of their family in the way detailed in the first step. But that seems a stretch to me, and honestly, if someone is that wrongly wired, they're going to do it no matter what justifications they have to make to themselves.

Still wrong?



It just is. It's just wrong. At it's core, there is something wrong with the concept, let along the act itself that sets people's teeth on edge.

And yes, I am aware that incest has been practiced in other, ancient cultures. Doesn't make it less wrong. People have done a whole lot of things, collectively and individually and made themselves believe that it was okay. That never made these things actually okay.

Some things are wrong and no argument or justification can be made to change that. 


  1. Great post! I'm glad you kept in the old parts. I got a chuckle about you and the task of breaking in new boots. Two pair, too! Haha. I hope the wedding went well. I remember liking a picture or two I saw on Facebook back then. :)

    So sorry about your boss's recent diagnosis.

    About the incest talk, point # 2 in particular. How related are we talking about? Siblings who never met each other until later in life and they happened to come together as romantic partners? And what if they never find out they are biologically related until after they are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary? What do you think of first-cousins marrying because that is actually legal in several states, I believe.

    I'm not a fan of incest at all, but your post did make me wonder more about point # 2. And also, too, why is incest wrong and when did it become so?

    1. #2 - I think any biological relation is too close. I know, technically, go back far enough and we're all related. But if you can talk in terms of first cousins, second cousins, etc. it feels too close to me. I'd feel bad for the people who only find out they're long lost siblings after their 10th anniversary, but putting myself in that situation, I would also immediately stop sleeping with my husband/brother. The thought makes my skin crawl.


      I don't think many people would describe themselves as 'fans' of incest. I hope not anyway.

      To my thinking, incest has always been wrong, though there have been times and places where aberrant thinking about it has gotten it to be accepted in some ways. I think that it's because it's a perversion of two different kinds of relationships that we're supposed to have for our own health. You're supposed to have a loving relationship with your biological family in a certain way, for your development, support, etc. And you're supposed to have a loving relationship with a spouse in a different way. There's some crossover as to the emotional support, but each kind of relationship fulfills those roles in a different way. When you try to blend those two things, it becomes unbalanced and unhealthy. And that's mild language, especially if you consider that most incidences of incest in the modern age are nothing but abusive.

      I know there's the occasional story of people finding out they were related after starting a relationship, but those seem to be fairly rare, thank God.

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  3. I'm conceding the point because I'm uncomfortable enough with the topic in general to delete my previous long comment. :D At the very least, you're right that it's icky and wrong for us today in our culture and the feeling of "ew I really don't want to be arguing this point" is a huge point in favor of that.

    BUT. I do still think we need more concrete, objective reasons to declare something wrong in all situations or to make it law. Our feelings that it's icky are not enough to regulate morality for others.

    1. And it should be said that I think those reasons are probably there. Like you said, a lot of things were seen as okay at one time that we know aren't now. So part of the work of progress is developing more complete and just ethical systems. If we feel strongly that something is wrong and we don't know why, it's probably worthwhile to try and find out.

    2. I think there's a vast difference between just feeling 'icky' about something and it actually being wrong.

      I really wish I'd written this post when I first listened to it, because it was much more articulate at the time!

      We can start with the feeling of wrongness, certainly, and it's pretty well spread out amongst different cultures that incest is wrong. But that's a moral/cultural judgment. And you don't necessarily need concrete evidence that something is wrong in that circumstance. Outlawing it is a different level and I think that does require evidence that it is harmful to individuals and/or to the wider populace.

      I don't think that there are many people who would argue that incest is harmless.

      I did read your original post, and believe me, I understand what you were saying with that. There are plenty of things that people look at culturally and go EW and want to outlaw. But in those instances, are there actual harms that can be pointed to to make their reaction worthy of being a law? Or is it just a cultural/religious (because that's a huge chunk of culture whether people want to admit it or not).

      Being repulsed is not enough of a reason to condemn some things out of hand, but I do agree that it's a clue we should take a look at the thing and seriously consider whether the thing is actually wrong/evil/what have you or if we're balking at something just because of the culture we're living in.

      Incest was not, actually, the main thrust of this podcast, which I doubt would surprise anyone. But it was a path that my brain went down, while I've been rethinking my positions on some things. Because it's a simple example, really.


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