Society must be defended!

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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186 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Why the hate for Van Morrison?Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    I dunno dude. I am starting to believe that humans must always have scapegoats, and the best we can ever hope for, is to get the right ones *this* time.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to Glyph says:

      This. We will always need to have an other. Whether it is race based, class based or vehicle based humans always hate. Its a good part of how we set up our pecking order and we always have a pecking order. Its hard to show how good we are if we don’t have something to contrast it to.

      And there is never a good scape goat, just an other.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to aaron david says:

        I’m hoping the alien invasion comes soon, so we can turn our hate away from each other and toward the extraterrestrial species that is systematically wiping us out.

        That, or the robot uprising.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

          You’re sounding a bit like Adrian Veidt there, Chris…Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

            Had to look that up.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

              You just won the award for least nerdy OT member.Report

            • Avatar Zac in reply to Chris says:

              This makes me indescribably sad. Read Watchmen, dude! It’s way better than the movie, I swear!Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Zac says:

                I’m not really a comic books guy. I’m sure I’m missing out, but it’s not like I’m not filling that time reading other wonderful things.Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Chris says:

                To be clear, I am also not a comic books guy; I never read any of that stuff growing up or as an adult. Superhero comics are pretty much universally juvenalia, as far as I can tell.

                Watchmen, on the other hand, is only a comic book in the narrowest technical sense. Arguably, it’s really more like illustrated literature (and quite an indictment of superhero comics at that). Believe me, do yourself a favor and give it read someday. You’ll be really glad you did.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Zac says:

                @zac , do you mind if I ask your age? I ask because the two reasons the story resonate with me are that I am a comic guy and memories of the Cold War. I get the impression that you’re younger than me. If so, and you’re not a comics guy, what do you like about it?

                @chris, I would truly love your thoughts on V for Vendetta (moreso than Waychmen). Both V and Watchmen do stand alone quite well, should you ever change your mind. You don’t need to read anything else to give them a try. Just sayin’…Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Will Truman says:

                @will-truman: Not at all. I’m exactly four months out from 29. As to what I like about Watchmen: well, I’ve always found the whole ‘costumed superhero’ idea somewhat risible on a number of levels, and Watchmen completely deconstructs the concept. It is an adult approach to a juvenile mindset (that all problems can be solved by punching the right people/things) and I love it for that.

                If it helps clarify at all, KotOR II is one of my favorite games of all time for the same reason (although I was a huge Star Wars nerd in elementary and middle school, at least until the prequels broke me of that): few things please me more than a good, cerebral deconstruction of a simplistic mythos.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Zac says:

                Huh, you are younger than I would have guessed.

                I get the impression Moore doesn’t hate superheroes, though he may hate what is often done with them.

                Has anyone watched the “Ultimate Cut”, that interpolates the “Black Freighter” stuff? I know even more of that movie doesn’t seem like a good idea, but I wonder if it would improve it, since then whatever the film’s other flaws (most notably, pornifying violence when the book does not) it would at least mostly preserve Moore’s structure (and hoo boy, the man is good at that; among other things).Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Glyph says:

                @glyph “Huh, you are younger than I would have guessed.”

                Do you mind if I ask what gave you that impression? I ask because I regularly hear this from people in real life (my friends all joke that I was born at the age of 55) and feel fairly sure why that is, but those qualities wouldn’t seem to translate into the internet.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Zac says:

                Oh, nothing specific. It’s just that you like a lot of the things I do. Though I AM pretty immature for my age…Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Zac says:

                Pity about the KoToR II ending. There’s a lovely Let’s Play out there of it, that includes the missing elements. (You DO have to look past the fact that the guy doing the playthrough decided on a blaster-wielding Jedi he dubbed ‘Jedi Jesus’).Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

                Does the movie count?

                I may try it some day.Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Chris says:

                @Chris I can’t speak for anyone else, of course, but I personally thought the movie was a travesty. The book really isn’t that long; if you’re a reasonably fast reader you could knock it out in a day or two.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Zac says:

                Is it better than this?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                The movie was a noble failure. It was interesting for those who loved the book… in the same way that the first Harry Potter movie was interesting for those who loved that particular book.

                The book was so much better but if you wanted to have your daydreams about the scenes realized externally, well, the movie gave that to some extent.

                If you just see the movie without knowing the book, I can easily see the assumption that the book must be responsible for this particular hot mess when, seriously, the book was a lot better.

                Terry Gilliam was offered the franchise and he said “I couldn’t possibly film this in less than five hours.”

                Zach Snyder’s movie was 162 minutes.Report

              • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Zac says:

                @zac
                Given that @chris is not a comic book guy, Watchmen is the Alan Moore book I’d be least-likely to recommend. I get that it’s one of his best works, but it’s one of his best works partially because it resonates with readers who grew up reading superhero comics.Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Alan Scott says:

                I agree it’s probably even *more* resonant with those who grew up on comics, but speaking as someone who didn’t, I found it extremely powerful nonetheless. YMMV, of course.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Alan Scott says:

                I’ve given it to multiple non-comics readers (heck, even I’m not the biggest comics reader in the world, having stopped reading them when I was a kid and not picking them back up again until college, and then somewhat selectively) and they have without fail been blown away.

                I don’t think more than rudimentary comics knowledge is needed at all – yeah, the characters are based on some old obscure ones, but they are also intentionally conceptual analogues for some of the big modern archetypal ones (Dr. Manhattan as Supes; Rorschach and Nite Owl as two halves of Batman, and so on).Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

                That Ted Kord is obscure is to our great social detriment. Ditto Vic Sage.

                (Seriously, a TV show of The Question would be gangbusters!)Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

                Unfortunately, the fact that you even use the word “gangbusters” undercuts your position considerably.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

                You just wait till you hear the words with which I would describe a crime mystery series starring the Martian Manhunter!Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                The two halves of Batman? Adam West vs Michael Keaton?Report

              • Avatar aaron david in reply to Chris says:

                @chris
                Michael Keaton vs. Val Kilmer.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    What truly bothers me about the new cultural norms that I will be invited to never, ever break is that I don’t know what the required reading is.Report

  4. Avatar greginak says:

    Of course any society will have deviants. Society implies having some set of rules and mores. Deviants break those. People are fine with punishing deviants. No problem at all. And that is good. Murderers, child molesters, rapists etc are all deviants. Now if you want to define deviant as people who don’t’ commit crimes against others but just play to the tune of different accordion then that is a pretty meaningless definition of deviant. There can be a huge range of deviancy from crimes against others to putting ketchup on hot dogs. They are all wrong and bad, but only some of that affects others.

    Our key problem in the good ol us of a is we have used such high falutin words and principles to define what we should aim for that it is really hard to live up to them.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to greginak says:

      I think @greginak is on the right path. It matters less what we define as “normal” and “deviant” and matters far more how we respond to those we label as or whom behave in a manner that is “normal” or “deviant”.

      Do we give greater rights to the “normal” folks? Do we jail the “deviants”? Well, if that is the case, it becomes *really* important how we define our society’s rules. But if we more or less treat people equally regardless of how far from the center they are (which itself is a societal rule!), then we don’t have to worry all that much about defining who is what.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Kazzy says:

        @kazzy @zic

        I think @greginak is on the right path.It matters less what we define as “normal” and “deviant” and matters far more how we respond to those we label as or whom behave in a manner that is “normal” or “deviant”.

        Do we give greater rights to the “normal” folks?Do we jail the “deviants”?Well, if that is the case, it becomes *really* important how we define our society’s rules.But if we more or less treat people equally regardless of how far from the center they are (which itself is a societal rule!), then we don’t have to worry all that much about defining who is what.

        I wonder if you would apply this same analysis elsewhere.

        I’m going to press you to think about women’s issues as they stand in America now. Currently, there is still unequal workforce participation with women tending to work fewer hours and in lower paying jobs. A lot of this is due to social expectations and pressure for women to have kids and shoulder a greater part of the load in the bearing and raising of children. A lot of this is background culture that tells women that they are no good at certain kinds of jobs.

        Now, none of their rights are being violated. Do you still want to say “nothing to see here, move along”? or are you going to say that we should have different norms?

        Let’s bring up another example. Suppose in Singapore, Ikea hired an openly gay stage magician to put on a children’s show (which we can assume is a generic magical show aimed at children) and the Christian community threatened to boycott Ikea unless they cancelled the show. Suppose that Ikea did not cave in (so nothing concrete came about as a result of such protests). Might we still not find such calls for boycotts unseemly (apart from the fact that they are mistaken about the wrongness of homosexuality) and morally problematic?

        While the above was the story as I was told, what actually happened was the reverse. The stage magician was a homophobic anti-gay activist and conservative Christian pastor
        (whose show contained no elements pertaining to his political or religious views). The people who threatened boycotts were the LGBT community. That makes this a repeat of the Brendan Eich issue. Clearly some significant segment of gay activists want homophobes to lose their jobs merely for being homophobes.

        Gay rights like most, if not every other political issue is a matter of conflicting interests. Justice is going to require that some people’s interests trump other’s. Nevertheless attempts to exact financial or occupational retribution over political differences is not healthy for the fabric of society. If, in society, people are to live and work together, according to some common and mutually acceptable set of rules, we must keep political differences separate from other commercial and person decisions we make.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

          @kazzy I’m not sure you meant to tag me here, but: I’d define deviance a bit differently than most people, I think. I don’t care how people dress, and probably wouldn’t care if people didn’t bother to dress to go out in public, for instance. I also don’t care who people opt to have sex with, who they want to form families with, or what religion they want to pursue — right up to the point of my ‘deviance,’ which would be caring so much about other people’s dress/relationships/sex that they limit other people’s freedoms or caring so much about pursuing their own dress/relationships/sex that they harm people directly (me pedophile, for instance).

          My brother’s marriage does not harm Rod Dreher. So in defining deviant there, I’d pin it on Dreher, not my brother. And that’s very much the root of my version of libertarian.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to zic says:

            @zic

            I didn’t tag you. @murali did.

            To his point, I’d say that we can certainly respond on the individual level to things we disagree with. And there are probably certain times it is appropriate to respond at a broader, societal level.

            Saying, “This person is deviant from our culture because he believes in paying women less or denying rights to gays,” is acceptable. Denying that person voting rights or access to public services? Not so much.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Kazzy says:

              I’m sorry, @kazzy commenting interrupted reading scotus live blogging this morning.

              @murali you, too; I’m not sure why you tagged me here; was there some reason from something else I said on this post?Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

                @zic

                I was under the impression that you agreed with the substance of Kazzy’s comment. Your subsequent reply to Kazzy does not disconfirm that. If I am mistaken do tell me.

                It seems to me both you and Kazzy are willing to be thin libertarians about what happens to deviants just as long as the deviants are really deviant according to your lights. I doubt that either you or Kazzy are willing to be so libertarian when you think that the people being treated as deviants are not really exhibiting behaviour that is, according to you, morally deviant. As Tod, says, I’m pointing out an instance where you are using this principle as a soldier to help your side win an argument but not willing to embrace the implications of applying the principle consistently.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

                I don’t see where I originally replied to kazzy in this subthread until after you tagged me.

                To your substance, I think your reading of my response, I’m pointing out an instance where you are using this principle as a soldier to help your side win an argument but not willing to embrace the implications of applying the principle consistently. is fraught with problems; the primary one being that ‘applying the principle consistently’ is something that can be done consistently unless viewed through the lens that the very act of applying principles means applying principles to what your principles are.

                I don’t view the world as fixed points, but as flux. We apply, and hopefully try to apply consistently, principles to flux and change, and that means our principles are themselves fluxing. In fact, I’d argue that flux is the only constant.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

                @zic

                I’m referring to the reply you made after I tagged you. Of course you didn’t participate in this thread until I tagged you. But, we have had this discussion (or a very similar one) before in one of my previous posts where I was making a similar point to Rufus.

                I think that the most fundamental moral principles are universal. That’s because those universal principles are just what we mean by morality – a set of universal standards that we mutually appeal to in (non-coercively) regulating our own and other people’s behaviour.

                For instance, if I don’t want Peter to kill Paul, I appeal to a shared standard that killing is wrong. Then since ordinarily, people are somewhat motivated to avoid wrong actions, Peter will, if he also acknowledges the standard not kill Paul. Morality is at the very least the social practice whereby people mutually regulate one another’s behaviour according to such a shared standard. What makes something a moral standard, in part, is that it the set of people it is supposed to apply to is everyone.

                There is also a more pragmatic reason to think that principles should not be in flux to the extent that would warrant such inconsistency. When people simply assert that one principle applies in one situation but that the other doesn’t, we commonly suspect that such a person is engaged in special pleading in his own case.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

                @murali honestly, we have precisely the same value here, with one simple difference:

                I think that the most fundamental moral principles are universal. That’s because those universal principles are just what we mean by morality – a set of universal standards that we mutually appeal to in (non-coercively) regulating our own and other people’s behaviour.

                The universal standard here meant that my grandmother, when born, couldn’t vote. That was a moral discussion of her childhood. The standard changed, the morally correct thing was that women, indeed, should have the right to participate in the civic process. By the time she reached voting age, she could vote.

                Our understanding of what is universal means that, at this point in time, we thing this is morally universal. The flux is the change in that meaning over time. Because that flux is there, I suspect prudence would require examining any notion of what’s universally within the context of understanding it fluxes, and our goals would be to have ‘universally moral’ would be examined not just from traditional morality (which you get to pick the point of tradition to stand on,) but from changing concepts of morality.

                Rod Dreher would define moral based on traditional, catholic morals, and abhors me for espousing a different meaning to universally moral. Yes, we both believe murder immoral. He, abortion. Me? I’ve long argued a woman’s control of her own body is moral, removing that control immoral.

                But maybe I’m missing some specific meaning of ‘universal morals,’ and if so, please inform me. But I think that without the context of flux, it’s a vague statement, a place where you get to fill in whatever you think is moral, combined with a few generally agreed upon points like thou shalt not murder.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

                @zic

                You are confusing what people believe to be right with what is actually right. In the past, we had false beliefs about gender equality. In fact, I would bet that the worry lies the other way. Once we are fine with saying that the moral principles that apply to Zic don’t apply to Murali, then we are more in danger of saying that it is okay if Zic doesn’t get to vote but Murali does. Or if we think that morality can change at the fundamental level, then we can say that in the past it really was morally right that women could not vote even though now it is not right if only women did not get to vote.

                Only by saying that at the fundamental level moral principles are invariant are we even able to begin saying that people in the past were mistaken about gender equality issues.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

                I get what you’re trying to say, @murali

                Perhaps we’re both saying the same thing, but I’m stuck on thefundamental level moral principles that [are] invariant.

                What are those principles? Why is limiting by gender immoral now, but moral once upon a time?Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

                I’m saying that limiting by gender was never moral, no matter what people believed, in pretty much the same way that it was never the case that the world was flat no matter what people believed.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali says:

                As to what those principles are, that’s a much tougher question to answer. I’ll see if I can do a post on it some time soon. For now, I’ll say welcome to moral philosophy, it doesn’t get easier and it screws with your head all the time.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Murali says:

                @murali

                “Never” is a long time. It would include tens of thousands of years in which human beings existed in approximately their current physiological form, in societies or social groups nearly universally marked by strict sexual division of labor. This division was necessitated, it is thought, by numerous interconnected facts of life, observation of which remind us that we remain members of the “animal kingdom.” Though the necessity has ebbed or is perceived to have ebbed, the biological basis for some sexual division of some labor is still evident even for us, who sometimes act as though we are already living in an age of universal production and re-production of human beings from genetic mixing vats or some other even more biologically remote process. As for particular features of our form of government, such as the so-called “voting franchise,” to say that it is truly a universal moral imperative would be the same as saying that mass liberal democracy is a universal moral imperative. If the voting franchise and the refusal of the sexual division of labor always were the only morally acceptable arrangement, then are we to presume that they will eternally be the only morally acceptable arrangement for all conceivable human societies? I don’t think either are supportable arguments actually.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                @ck-macleod
                It would include tens of thousands of years in which human beings existed in approximately their current physiological form, in societies or social groups nearly universally marked by strict sexual division of labor.

                This is, in fact, wrong. Early humans did not have a ‘strict’ division of labor.

                Homo sapien sapiens appears to have noticed that women often had less upper body strength than men, and thus *often* a better use of her time would be gathering or hunting small game, while men hunted large game. This is opposed to Neandertals, which had everyone doing everything, or everyone just picking a job, often to their determent.

                However, it was never ‘strict’. We have no evidence it was even really upon gender lines. Weaker men probably did the same thing as women, and stronger women probably did the same thing as men. If there was no large game, everyone would do the ‘women’s work’. If there was no small game and nothing to do, everyone goes on the hunt.

                Though the necessity has ebbed or is perceived to have ebbed, the biological basis for some sexual division of some labor is still evident even for us

                Considering it took us *millions* of years of being human before we decided to divide labor like that for about 30,000 years, there is absolutely no evidence that this division is something we biological fall into. In fact, all the evidence is actually the other way around: All genders want to do all sorts of labor, and it takes deliberate effort to create a society with specific rules, to exclude people from things. Even things they are physically less suited for.

                And, what’s more, the *current* sexual division of labor, that we are trying to remove, has almost *nothing* to do with that division. To what extent women were allowed to work, and what jobs they were allowed, have varied to an almost absurd extent over the thousands of years since we stopped hunting big game, and almost no modern job is even slightly like a life-and-death struggle with a gazelle that requires a man’s upper body strength so he can jam a spear in deeper.

                Hell, what jobs were ‘suitable’ for women has varied very quickly in *very short* periods of time. Computer programmers were originally expected to be women, because it looked like secretary work. As it became clear it wasn’t, they became men, *even as* computers required less manual work.

                Likewise, on farms, women often ended up the ones hauling water and feed and all sorts of things around, while the men…sat on a cart and rode into town to sell it, a much less physically demanding job. Or washwomen, which usually were women, having the extremely demanding job of collecting and washing clothes.

                Basically every modern division of labor these days can be traced back to pure sexism. The men get the ‘better’ jobs, period, although how ‘better’ is defined can and will vary from time to time and society to society. The women got whatever jobs were left over.

                It has nothing to do with the division of labor thousands of years, and isn’t based on inherent body differences, barring some *extremely* specific jobs like blacksmith, which did actually require large amounts of upper body strength.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc

                Last I checked, just now in fact, archaic forms of homo sapiens are thought to have evolved around 300,000 years ago, while the earliest “anatomically modern” fossils date to around 100,000 years ago.

                However, if we widen the view to millions of years and our biological cousins, according to the only paleoanthropologist I have known personally, speaking in very general terms, the degree of strictness of sexual division of labor would depend especially on environment, following somewhat the same patterns observed in other primates, the savannah apes not being in a position to enjoy as much cross-gender sociability and exchange as the jungle or mountain apes. That males and females will often occupy distinct roles, however, across the animal kingdom is clear. Ask the mantis.

                As for more recent and human history, can you describe a major civilization in which sexual division of labor, and other social divisions according to gender (“labor” being a somewhat plastic concept), have not been a normal feature of everyday life?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                @ck-macleod
                As for more recent and human history, can you describe a major civilization in which sexual division of labor, and other social divisions according to gender (“labor” being a somewhat plastic concept), have not been a normal feature of everyday life?

                Nope. Not buying the framing where ‘other social divisions according to gender’ is allowed. You’re trying to include *sexism* as a counterexample of things I said *were solely due to sexism*. Of course women were treated different in society. This has nothing to do with some ‘biological sexual division of labor’, and everything to do with sexism.

                Meanwhile, you want a ‘major civilization in which sexual division of labor’ has not happened? Try the lower classes at the start of the industrial revolution, where women ended up working as much as anyone else, in exactly the same dangerous factory jobs. In fact, lower classes often have no division of labor.

                However, I must point out how completely bogus your argument is. You can’t just claim *any* division of labor proves your claim. Your claim was that there is a *biological* basis for some sexual division of some labor.

                A *biological* basis would mean it would be *the same* over time. That would mean there was some type of jobs that women kept gravitating to, and another type of jobs that men did. Throughout history.

                But this is exactly wrong. The jobs consider for women vs. for men have never been divided up in any systematic way, in all of history. The split, in fact, appears to be almost completely along prestige lines, and which jobs are men’s and which jobs are women’s end up almost *randomly* distributed from society to society.

                If it was a *biological* basis, that would mean there was, at minimum, some sort of pattern. Please name that pattern.

                And notice I’ve always pointed out that the pattern ‘men do taxing the physical labor’ is not actually correct. Women often end up doing more manual labor in general than men.

                Now, it is true that men do the jobs that require specific upper body strength, and women do the jobs that require smaller frames or smaller hands. Everyone knows that, everyone admits that, and if your argument is ‘it is physically impossible for some genders to do some jobs’, you have no argument. But that’s, at most, 0.01% of jobs, probably less, and hasn’t been a very high percentage since civilization started. (In fact, civilization can probably be defined as the point where we started making our labor easier for us.)Report

              • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc

                A quick check of Brown’s compilation of sociological human universals reveals that division of labor by sex is indeed a human universal.

                http://condor.depaul.edu/mfiddler/hyphen/humunivers.htm

                I will agree that woman have been actively exploited by the stronger sex, especially in Farming societies ( See Morris’ new book Foragers, Farmers and Fossil Fuels for an extended analysis of how and why).

                One other point. It is entirely possible that higher prestige job bias can be explained in two ways. One is that one sex had the power and discriminated. Another complementary reason is that the sex driven by testosterone to pursue status and privilege via millions of years of evolution was more attracted to higher paying and higher prestige jobs. I’ve seen plenty of evidence of both.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                What makes you think women don’t pursue status?
                Are you trying to say that as testosterone levels have fallen, men have been LESS driven to seek status and privilege??

                Looking at looms and weaving, it’s easy to see how a High Status job was for Men and when it became Low Status, it became Women’s Work. (despite the idea that women were probably better suited for the task, due to fine motor skills…)Report

              • thanks @cardiff-kook That’s a useful reference!

                One philosophical view would be that those two complementary ways of explaining “higher prestige job bias” are only facets of a primordial principle of which sexuality, or biology at all, is itself a kind of epiphenomenon.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                The second way of explaining it (testosterone) won’t explain it, as higher levels of testosterone produce status-seeking behavior in both men and women, and it is not absolute levels (which would make men higher) but relative levels. The evidence for gender differences in the effects of testosterone on status-seeking behavior specifically is limited, perhaps non-existent (the studies that purport to show it are small and methodologically problematic for this conclusion, in part because they weren’t designed to study this particular correlation).

                Of course, among the other human universals there are attempts to control the weather, anthropomorphization, and divination.Report

              • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to Chris says:

                Chris,

                I could provide plenty of links on studies relating to status seeking differences by gender for humans, apes and other mammals. Granted they may be due to other things than just testosterone, but that is beside the point. I’ll discuss it if you really want to. My guess is you don’t.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                If you have evidence that gender differences in status-seeking are innate, I’d love to see it. You don’t, because that data doesn’t exist, but I’d love to see it if it did.

                And nonhuman primate behavioral data is only valid when used for comparative purposes.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

                Chris,

                Remember back in the old days when you’d occasionally hear a rape apologist argue that primate males engage in rape, so it’s natural, so it’s normal, so it’s moral?

                This is like that.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s standard EP reasoning, unfortunately.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater says:

                No, it’s exactly not “like that,” Stillwater, and your statement is offensive.

                What it – by which I mean @murali’s original statement on a universal morality, somewhat lost in this sidebar – would be like is observing that, since we (or the vast majority of us) have no doubt that rape is immoral, or that forced sexual intercourse is wrong, it always must have been “immoral” for primate males to engage in it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                CK, I was replying to Chris’s comment in response to the Kook.

                Adding: Do you still find it offensive? Cuz people used argue that line all the time.Report

              • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to Stillwater says:

                Chris and SW

                This crack is simply unacceptable.

                Consider our dialogue closed once again.

                The cheap shots never end with you two.

                RegardsReport

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                Is it not typical EP reasoning? Apes did it, [insert speculative hypothesis about the EEA here so that choosing this particular ape behavior is relevant], produce vague and generally unfalsifiable empirical prediction, test prediction with ambiguous survey data, draw strong conclusion about the universality of hypothesized human version of behavior.

                I used to go to EP job talks. I was embarrassed for the poor bastards. More cultists than scientists.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater says:

                Whether the statement was directed at me or at @cardiff-kook , it was offensive here and now, since it seemed to be aimed at diminishing and distorting an argument by associating it with would-be justifications of rape,and by implying that those taking the side that I think both the other CK and I have been arguing must have some bizarre and disgusting political agenda. If that wasn’t the aim, then it was an offensively careless interjection.

                I don’t have much to say about “EP” now and even less in regard to however someone somewhere may have argued it once upon a time. It strikes me as the kind of view that arises in the attempt to fill in deficits in scientific models as popularly understood, to no great purpose or effect, but Chris and you apparently have had more to do with its proponents than I have.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                If that wasn’t the aim, then it was an offensively careless interjection.

                Hesu Kristo, dude. Straighten your spine. I haven’t even read any of our comments on this thread CK, except the one where you responded to my response to Chris responding to Roger. But if you want I can read em and insofar as they deserve it copy/paste my earlier comment as a response. At least then you’d have something to complain to me about.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                I went to grad school at one of its two hubs, and have written a bunch about it in the past.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

                Rape is pretty normal in the animal kingdom. Sometimes deliberately painfully so. This doesn’t mean it’s acceptable in humans, who appear to have developed the capacity to have both sexes enjoy sex.

                It is also not acceptable, and frankly, disturbing, to put the sounds of dog sodomy into your video games.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

                While human primate behavior is most evident during papal elections.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                @cardiff-kook
                A quick check of Brown’s compilation of sociological human universals reveals that division of labor by sex is indeed a human universal.

                As I said, the claim is that there is a biological basis for it, not that it generally happens. We generally live in places with roofs, also, but that’s not biologically determined.

                Moreover, I feel I must point out that, anthropologically, a lot of what was believed in fricking 1991 is completely wrong.Report

              • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to DavidTC says:

                Dave,

                This is a list of human universals found in every society ever studied. Not a general tendency. I assume it is updated, but honestly don’t know.

                One task that humans have is feeding infants. Are you suggesting there is no division of labor on this one too? Please do provide details.

                And yeah, I think we can attribute this one in part or whole to biology.

                The odds of women just happening to sorting into similar roles across hundreds of societies is astronomically low. Indeed, the very idea that men are insistently sexist brutes is itself evidence of sex differences.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                One can get men to nurse babies. It’s not done often, and may be more possible with the high amounts of pseudoestrogens floating around our rivers, but it is doable.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to DavidTC says:

                We generally live in places with roofs, also, but that’s not biologically determined.

                Sure it is. We build roofed shelters, using our biologically endowed abilities, to satisfy biological needs like a warm, dry place to stay. Even animals seek shelter from the rain. I’m not sure what definition of “biologically determined” you would use that fails to apply to the propensity to build roofs without being so narrow as to apply only physical characteristics like having two legs.

                Also, having a biological basis does not at all imply that something must not change over time. Take obesity, for example. Some people are more prone to obesity than others, but although this has some genetic basis, it didn’t show up until the environment changed enough to allow it to manifest in the form of widespread obesity.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to DavidTC says:

                DavidTC: Your claim was that there is a *biological* basis for some sexual division of some labor.

                A *biological* basis would mean it would be *the same* over time. That would mean there was some type of jobs that women kept gravitating to, and another type of jobs that men did. Throughout history.

                The main “job” allocated to women on some biological basis would be the job of bearing children, rather often further associated with care of childbearing women up to and especially including childbirth; with nursing, feeding, and initially educating children; and with related “jobs” within the so-called “domestic arts.” My paleoanthropologist friend – who, incidentally, at the time was committed to a feminist interpretation of the facts, designating women or among primates females the principal role of passing on everything we think of as “culture” – likened the modern forms of this social as well as economic division as having descended in a more or less direct and unbroken lineage from savannah life typified by preservation of main gathering areas occupied by women and children, frequented only periodically by men (or mature males) who spent or were believed to spend most of the year roaming.

                That in some societies or major civilizations this job or set of jobs is “unpaid labor,” or labor paid for by other means than monetary (“money” as we know it not being a universal characteristic of human social life), or more than a job but a lifelong identity passed on generation by generation, points to what I called the plasticity of the labor concept. (I’m setting aside the peculiar usage in English that uses the same word for the act of giving birth that it gives for paid employment, but it’s interesting in this context.)

                To my mind “the lower classes at the start of the industrial revolution” do not constitute a “major civilization.” They represent a socio-economic group during a particular epoch of one major civilization.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                @ck-macleod
                My paleoanthropologist friend – who, incidentally, at the time was committed to a feminist interpretation of the facts, designating women or among primates females the principal role of passing on everything we think of as “culture” – likened the modern forms of this social as well as economic division as having descended in a more or less direct and unbroken lineage from savannah life typified by preservation of main gathering areas occupied by women and children, frequented only periodically by men (or mature males) who spent or were believed to spend most of the year roaming.

                I figured that was where you are coming from. That is called evolutionary psychology, and parts of it are fairly contested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_evolutionary_psychology

                But, setting that aside and just accepting it for now, evolutionary psychology has basically nothing to do with division of labor. At all. Why? Because, it *can’t*. The evolution talked about evolutionary psychology happened much much *much* too early.

                ‘Living on the savanna’ was millions of years ago, whereas vague-ish division of labor didn’t show up, in all of human history, until the Upper Paleolithic era, approx 50,000 years ago.

                The Upper Paleolithic is when humans started living in the same place and having ‘gathering places’, (Although they move repeatedly from place to place during the year, until the invention of agriculture at the end of the Paleolithic) and women started getting left behind with kids. Before that, everyone did everything, as far as anyone can tell. (The groups tended to be *really* small. Division of labor likely wasn’t even possible.)

                Claiming anything that evolved between 50,000-10,000 years ago is some sort of biological feature of humans makes no sense, because there’s no way that such genes could become distributed around the world. Humans already occupied Australia, Asia, and Europe by the start of that, and the Americas by the end. (And possibly were in the Americas even earlier, new research has show.)

                You can attribute differences in sexual behaviors for men and women to the savanna. (Although I personally think a lot of that theory is nonsense.) But you can’t attribute division of labor to that, because that didn’t start until *millions* of years later.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc

                “Before that, everyone did everything, as far as anyone can tell.”

                I hate to have to be the first person to inform you of this, but there are certain things that women can do that men can’t do, and vice versa, as almost everyone or every adult can tell. Furthermore, many of these certain things that either men, but not women, can do, or that women, but not men, can do, are things that men and women have taken very seriously in diverse or rather in all historical and so-called pre-historical settings. These things taken very seriously are not only “built in” biologically, they are the basis of human biology, the things without which there would be no human bios at all.

                You seem to consider yourself a scientifically very well-informed individual. No doubt you are quite well-informed in your areas of study, probably far better informed than I am. You operate, however, according to certain presumptions, logical as well as terminological ones, that make discussion difficult. For instance, I have nowhere made any mention of genetically determined predispositions or of evolutionary psychology. To whatever extent notions of genetically effectuated evolutionary psychology are relevant, the fact that they are “contested” is un-illuminating. The question would be whether they bore upon the main argument in any useful way, contestably or not. As far as I can tell, genetics and evolutionary psychology are at most only indirectly relevant, if that, to the main question under discussion. Genetic and theoretical evolutionary-psychological changes might follow as effects, not causes, or possibly serve as evidence, not premises.

                You also persist in relying on an inappropriate and insufficient narrow definition of “labor.” That at some point in the history of the species some very small social groups of human beings may in general, in theory, have required everyone to do almost everything would be irrelevant to the argument, and wouldn’t help to explain the “human universals” – their origins or their functions, concerning precisely those questions that the “almost” leaves out – as observed above. To declare that those human universals on the other side of “almost” are somehow unimportant or merely arbitrary is, aside from being absurd, to beg the question.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                @ck-macleod
                For instance, I have nowhere made any mention of genetically determined predispositions or of evolutionary psychology.

                Well, apparently not. Instead you appear to be pretending that ‘likened the modern forms of this social as well as economic division as having descended in a more or less direct and unbroken lineage from savannah life typified by preservation of main gathering areas occupied by women and children,‘ is even slight *plausible* without some sort of genetic predisposition. That is sheer, utter nonsense.

                Society was a certain way tens of thousands of years ago. This was, I must point out, *pre-history*, so we didn’t even know this until recently. The only way this can influence things in the modern world is:

                a) this structure has not changed over the millennia (provable false)
                b) some sort of collective unconcious or other woo-woo theory where we can somehow remember what our ancestors did, or
                c) evolutionary psychology, or something close to it, where certain behavioral differences of the genders were evolutionary selected for and remains in our genes to this day.

                If you have some *fourth* way that explains how things that happened tens of thousands of years ago can affect society, we’d all like to hear it.

                Otherwise, you’re arguing EP while pretending to not argue EP. (And, as I pointed out, while EP is probably crap, even if it’s not, it doesn’t even *pretend* to work for things that happened tens of thousands of years ago, because, again, humanity had already spread out too wide for genetics.)

                In fact, I feel I should point out that because humanity had already spread out, this stuff you seem to think ‘humanity’ did was, uh, not actually done by ‘humanity’. It was done by parts of humanity, in various places, in various ways, at various times. Sometimes it was skipped entirely, and no one bothered settling down until agriculture required it. Because those people left much better traces than the humans that roved *without* returning to the same location, we know they are over-estimated. (In fact, it’s looking like we’ve seriously underestimated the date humans got to the Americas precisely because they didn’t create any settlements.)

                It is theoretically possible that most groups of people that tried this did that died out. And the first successful human settlements were after they invented agriculture, which was the *end* of the whole ‘women stayed home, men went on the hunt’. So we really have no evidence that *any* significant amount of our actual ancestors did that. (Which is, again, why EP stays away from that time period.)

                Granted, we don’t have any evidence that they didn’t do that, but pretending that this is some sort of lynchpin of human history is really dumb. In fact, pretending we know exactly how society was structured is really dumb. The best evidence that it worked that way is that most men, and few women, appear to be hunters. That’s it. That’s the basis of your entire theory of the sexual division of labor.

                I hate to have to be the first person to inform you of this, but there are certain things that women can do that men can’t do, and vice versa, as almost everyone or every adult can tell. Furthermore, many of these certain things that either men, but not women, can do, or that women, but not men, can do, are things that men and women have taken very seriously in diverse or rather in all historical and so-called pre-historical settings. These things taken very seriously are not only “built in” biologically, they are the basis of human biology, the things without which there would be no human bios at all.

                And now, as always happens in these discussions, the EP-means-men-and-women-have-different-jobs people have moved the goalposts to where everyone agrees: ‘The women gave birth and nursed the babies’

                This is, of course, what they assert they have *always* meant by ‘sexual division of labor’. (Despite that not not actually being what the term means at all.) That’s it. That’s now the full extent of their claims. They aren’t claiming that men and women have different, biologically-determined social roles besides that, despite having *just* argued that repeatedly. Nope. It’s always not just ‘only women can give birth’.

                Mainly because, as I pointed out, while men and women almost always *do* have different social roles besides that, those roles *change haphazardly* from society to society, so it’s insane to pretend they’re biologically determined. (You could, at best, make a claim that men and women naturally segregate from each other. Although I think my ‘women get lower status jobs’ claim makes more sense.)

                But, hey, while you’re move the goalposts, perhaps you’d like to explain what *exactly* the social structure of the savannah has to do with the biological fact of men and women? You know, the *very first* thing you mentioned?

                Last I checked, biologically, only females had children well before that. Well before we were humans, or, hell, well before we were even *apes*. So why, *exactly*, were you talking about the savannah?

                Oh, right, because you were trying to make the case for *more* than just ‘only women have children’.

                You also persist in relying on an inappropriate and insufficient narrow definition of “labor.”

                Whereas *your* definition of ‘labor’ appears to be ‘things done via the primary and secondary sexual characteristics of women, and *nothing else*’.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc

                That you do not understand why your point “a)” is begging the question is why this discussion is so difficult. This entire discussion or sidebar discussion is over the question as to whether some “structure” or “structuring principle” – inherent in biology as “life on Earth” – has survived (or must survive) “over the millennia” in some observably important way.

                As for b and c: Genes and memory do not pass on the conditions for life on Earth. The conditions for and of life on Earth happen to allow for the passing on of human memories and of human genes within the evolving human genome, among other genomes.

                If human beings and their genome as we know them were erased from the planet, but some successor species evolved, capable among other things of formulating good and bad ideas and discussing them sociably, it might develop many of the features we identify as human – including something resembling gender roles – without ever “remembering” anything about the vanished species, or receiving any direct inheritance from the human genome or from what might be identified as the uniquely human portion of it. The race of intelligent lemurs or sentient jellyfish might end up dividing, roughly, on average, in relation to biologically discreetly identifiable genders, into masculine super-lemurs and feminine super-lemurs – Mr. and Mrs. Super-Lemur to you – or into roaming aggressive status-seeking jellyfish and domestic cooperative baby-jellyfish-tending jellyfish without ever once having been touched by one of the vanished race of homo sapiens. It not only might develop in this way. It might necessarily develop in this way or approximately this way, according to a “gendered” “structure.”

                To dismiss this speculation out of hand would be merely, once again, to beg the question in the way that you do when you simply assert that the “structure” (I presume you mean social structures relating to gender roles) has “provably” “changed.” The question isn’t whether the “structure” has changed at all. The question is whether it has changed, or can change, in such a profound way as to constitute a different structure fundamentally, and whether such changes are or would be, in relation to social life, exclusively internally driven – via relatively arbitrary choices – or are in any important sense, and necessarily, externally determined or co-determined or significantly conditioned and constrained, by biological (or ecosystemic) factors that are, at an even higher level of abstraction or wider circumscription, themselves biophysically or “naturally” determined or conditioned.

                What makes this discussion somewhat comical is in that list of human universals: The individual observing that obviously that “structure” has survived, and does so apart from any noticeable effort on our part, or need for it, is in the position of trying to explain that the sky is usually blue, water is almost always wet, night is usually darker than day, and the seasons change, to someone who seems, for familiar reasons, to be determined to deny such old-fashioned notions.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                @ck-macleod
                The question isn’t whether the “structure” has changed at all. The question is whether it has changed, or can change, in such a profound way as to constitute a different structure fundamentally

                …which you appear to freely have accepted it changed *into* that a mere 50,000 years ago.

                But, again, you refuse to actually state what this *is* besides ‘Women physically birth babies’, which is something not actually up for discussion. The reason you refuse to state anything else is somewhat obvious: Because it is trivially easy for me to provide counter-examples.

                What makes this discussion somewhat comical is in that list of human universals:

                I have *already* explained that ‘sexual division of labor exists’ is *not* what you are arguing. Everyone admits societies have sexual division of labor.

                As I have repeatedly pointed out, sexual division of labor *actually* appears to almost entirely be entirely based on prestige of the labor involved, and can vary *completely* from society to society. Hell, sometimes it can vary in a very short period of time within the same society if the prestige of a certain job changes quickly. (Again, computer programmer.)

                You, however, are arguing that labor tends to be divided in a *specific* manner, which is, in some manner, based on biology, which you think has some link to how you think savannah life was. (Although who knows what you think now, you’ve completely ignored the fact I’ve utterly dissected your nonsense about how savannah life was.)

                But, hey, you just came somehow *close* to stating a pattern: roaming aggressive status-seeking jellyfish and domestic cooperative baby-jellyfish-tending jellyfish

                I am assuming you think that the first one is men and the second is women.

                This is, almost completely, ahistoric. It’s a mapping of mid-20th century onto the past.

                First of all, in that time period of 50,000-10,000 you think all this was decided in? There’s *absolutely* no evidence of aggressive status-seeking by men. In fact, there’s no evidence that skill at a *job* had anything to do with getting a mate, because those societies were almost completely communal.

                In fact, the idea that men had to be status-seeking to attract mates is something that, historically, is false much more often than it is true? Why? Because throughout all of human history, women have *very very rarely* been given the chance to choose their own mates. The entire idea that men become rich and powerful to attract mates is some dumbass projection from, as I said, the mid-20th century. It might have been true there, and true in any other society where women had some level of self-determination, but those societies were few and far between.

                And I have no idea what you mean ‘domestic cooperative’. Are you implying some sort of creche, where children were raised by a group of women? While such a thing is extremely popular in fiction, it has only *very* rarely existed in fact.

                What is much more common, and what happened on the Savannah, is that elder *men* and women provide child case while everyone else did their job. (In fact, such a thing long predates us being humans, and is theorized as one of the reasons we live so long past reproductive age compared to other animals.) And everyone goes home to their family.

                Or do you just mean that women are more ‘cooperative’ than men? That, also, is pretty easy to disprove by looking at societies where women *could* status-seek…they do it as quickly and as viciously as men. It’s just that they’re usually not *allowed* to do that. (Hell, they sometimes managed it in places they theoretically weren’t allowed to. E.g. ancient Rome.)

                And that is as close as you’ve actually come to trying to explain what you’re talking about…a stupid analogy with jellyfish. You refuse to actually, you know, say it.

                You just *really strong feel* that there’s some biological difference that causes men and women to assume specific social roles, but you are unwilling or unable to actually explain this. You don’t understand why other people don’t just believe the same thing you do about the difference between how men and women act without any evidence at all?

                Do you know what that’s actually called? Prejudice. That is, literally, what prejudice is.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc Where in the above comment you’re not attributing arguments to me that I have not made, in order to ridicule them, or ignoring the arguments I have made, you’re busily conceding the major elements of the argument I have in fact made, and calling them contradictions – an interesting strategy! If we continue this discussion a bit longer, I expect you to be copying my comments in full and introducing them as your own, in order to embarrass me.

                I like this one especially:

                What is much more common, and what happened on the Savannah, is that elder *men* and women provide child case while everyone else did their job. (In fact, such a thing long predates us being humans, and is theorized as one of the reasons we live so long past reproductive age compared to other animals.) And everyone goes home to their family.

                Once we subtract “elder *men* and women provid[-ing] child care,” who is left to make up “everyone else”?

                What an interesting way of contradicting someone else’s argument, contradiction by forceful re-statement and re-presentation. I’d call it original, except that it’s based on duplication, so that might produce confusion.

                Oh, wait, there is a major difference between us on this matter of definition: “Providing child care” doesn’t qualify as a “job” or “labor.” After all, as far as we know “elder *men* and women” weren’t punching timeclocks constructed out of twigs and rocks, at least none that survive, so what they were doing can’t be called “labor.” Maybe it was… a hobby!

                But thanks for explaining to me that history does not apparently know of super-intelligent jellyfish organized according to mid-20th Century American family ideals. That really clears up some uncertainty on my part.

                Thanks also for clearing up how division of labor according to sex has nothing do with sex, how a biological basis for some sexual division of some labor does not reflect a biological basis for some sexual division of some labor, and how a different perceived practical connection to childbearing and -rearing for women than for men, in general, is purely the product of sexism, with no possible necessary or rationally explicable and justifiable effect on the differentiation or roles in any society or social group, whether of primates, early humans, humans since the establishment of agriculture, humans in our own time, or sentient jellyfish.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                Once we subtract “elder *men* and women provid[-ing] child care,” who is left to make up “everyone else”?

                Well, there are the normal adult-aged men and women, you twit. Who *both* would leave the settlement and *both* wander around all day, doing the jobs they were best suited to.

                You have *absolutely* no understanding of how pre-historic settlements worked, do you?Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc
                Your punctuation emphasized one of at least two possible readings of the phrase “elder men and women provided child care, the one in which the adjective “elder” modified the noun emphasized with asterisks – suggesting “women providing child care were joined by elder men” as opposed to “the elders, both male and female, joined in providing child care.”

                I’m not sure where you get this particular sketch. Feel free to provide some references. From my reading even the leading voices favoring the revision of the old standard model agree that sexual division of labor (SDL) in human beings, as defined in the literature somewhat narrowly (for good reason, I’m not making this observation in order to attempt a criticism of their work), was effectively universal by the time of the Upper Paleolithic. There are competing theories about likely gender roles among anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals, with the crux of the discussion having less to do with some notion that that “what women did” and “what men did” was identical, but with the notion that classic hunter-gatherer arrangements (typical of the standard model) may not have been prevalent across different environments (and, if I’m not mistaken in my reading, may have been largely absent among Neanderthals).

                This view would somewhat square with the view of my old friend and with the modern philosophers, who both treated gender roles as adaptation to environment, with scarcity or types of scarcity/abundance being the key variable – thus the former’s distinction between savannah and mountain apes, while the philosophers reached similar conclusions without reference, of course, to modern genetics or Darwinian theory. (“Evolutionary psychology” is utterly a red herring in this discussion.)

                However, as I was saying, even the revisionists, in arguing that Middle Paleolithic or Mousterian social groups may have been more cooperative or less gender-segregated in broad terms than seems to have become the universal tendency later on, do not claim – in fact dismiss the claim – that men and women hunting together played the same roles. Adult males and females, they will suggest – see http://anthro.vancouver.wsu.edu/media/Course_files/anth-490-edward-h-hagen/kuhn-and-stiner-2006-whats-a-mother-to-do-the-division-of-labor-among-neandertals-and-modern-humans-in-eurasia.pdf – may have gone out together, but the actual roles they played in hunting large game were likely differentiated, in other words “an” SDL, but not the same as “the” classic SDL. Somewhat more provocatively, Kuhn and Stiner strongly suggest in the linked paper that the classic SDL may explain or be a major part of the explanation for the success of homo sapiens (or modern humans) and the extinction of Neanderthals (considered by some a subspecies of h.s., as you will be aware, but this question is irrelevant for us I think).

                Now, we’re not in this comment thread or others in a position to carry on a precise or likely even very interesting discussion of these questions as archaeological or paleo-anthropological questions. The fact remains that the SDL is still generally acknowledged for all human societies known to human history, and its existence is still believed characteristic for human social groups as of “late pre-history.” As for how other, some, or earlier “pre-historic settlements worked” neither you nor I nor your favorite professors nor anyone else knows precisely how they worked. We possess theories of how they worked, but even leading proponents of the alternative hypotheses do not deny the existence of SDL in relation to selection advantages that do not admit of diminution, since they seem to explain why we’re here and not another species.

                Finally, for purposes of a broader discussion of the question of the biological structuring or pre-conditioning of gender roles, the definition of SDL used by archaeologists or paleo-anthropologists, or even by primatologists, is not obligatory. How in particular paleolithic human beings arranged their affairs is potentially of interest, but does not and cannot exhaust the subject.

                The original statement that I offered in response to Murali, and to which you took exception, was this:

                It [the period covered by “never”] would include tens of thousands of years in which human beings existed in approximately their current physiological form, in societies or social groups nearly universally marked by strict sexual division of labor. This division was necessitated, it is thought, by numerous interconnected facts of life, observation of which remind us that we remain members of the “animal kingdom.”

                I would amend that statement by adjusting the word “strict.” The SDL appears to be universal for “us” for tens of thousands of years. Its degree and generality of “strictness” varied enough over this period for the fact to be worthy of observation, if to no [edit!] clear effect on my thesis in relation to Murali’s moral philosophy.

                The next statement was closer to the core of the the point I was arguing :

                Though the necessity has ebbed or is perceived to have ebbed, the biological basis for some sexual division of some labor is still evident even for us, who sometimes act as though we are already living in an age of universal production and re-production of human beings from genetic mixing vats or some other even more biologically remote process.

                Please note that “some sexual division of some labor” already pointedly diverges from “sexual division of labor” either as described by social and economic theorists since the 19th Century, or as used by those specifically studying hunter-gatherers or foragers in relation to their distinctive economic practices according to the available evidence.

                The claim I made there is not, I believe, actually a very strong claim. Even you eventually concede it, while attempting to dismiss its possible importance out of hand – or in other words while begging the question, which is nothing other than of its significance. Understanding how it may be significant, in relation to moral or social and historical questions, is not something you will find in archaeology textbooks, nor in comment-thread coup-counting.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                @ck-macleod
                Feel free to provide some references. From my reading even the leading voices favoring the revision of the old standard model agree that sexual division of labor (SDL) in human beings, as defined in the literature somewhat narrowly (for good reason, I’m not making this observation in order to attempt a criticism of their work), was effectively universal by the time of the Upper Paleolithic.

                Erm, yes. That’s what I said. When hunter-gatherers switched to moving from location to location, instead of just wandering, they also finished switching to sexual division of labor, as in, the men hunted big game and the women gathered and hunted some small game. This is probably due to the fact the communities got bigger. I’ve said this like three times now.

                This has nothing to do with who *cared for children*. Children were still generally left behind with the people who weren’t doing either because they were either too old or too young or injured or something.

                It’s sorta funny how earlier you kept complaining about how anthropologists keep ignoring the ‘labor’ of childrearing when talking about ‘sexual division of labor’, when you keep making the opposite mistake: Assuming that just because a society has a sexual division of labor means that include who does childrearing. (Which you assume is women.)

                There’s a *reason* anthropologists discuss that separately, and it’s because who raises children is often *completely* unrelated to what adult works where. Men might go out doing X, and women go out doing Y…and they’re both raising the kids as much, with extended family or ‘left-over’ people watching all the kids during the day. Or whoever had the job that took place in one spot watched the kids…and that could be either the men’s or the women’s job. Men might be farming, and women making jewelry, so the woman watched them…or men might be making copper tools, and the woman farming, so the men watched them.

                It’s only in very recent history, like *last century*, that a majority of women ended up relegated to the house, and thus ended up spending more time with children. (And in some previous high-wealth societies, this happened in the upper classes.) You seem to be assuming this is what anthropologists are describing when they say ‘sexual division of labor’, that men work and women watch kids. It’s really not. When they say that, they mean that men had one job, and women *had a external job also*…it’s just they had different types of jobs they tended to do.

                However, as I was saying, even the revisionists, in arguing that Middle Paleolithic or Mousterian social groups may have been more cooperative or less gender-segregated in broad terms than seems to have become the universal tendency later on, do not claim – in fact dismiss the claim – that men and women hunting together played the same roles.

                See, and this is where you pivot back to talking about *actual* sexual division of labor, instead of childrearing. You can’t keep moving back and forth:

                a) You are talking about what is traditionally sexual division of labor, which has little to do with childrearing.
                b) You are talking solely about childrearing.
                c) You are talking about both, which means you actually have to prove *both*.

                You can’t run around and use examples of (b) as proof for (a). You can’t use (a) as proof for (b). You can’t keep conflating them back and forth.

                And moreover, if you’re arguing (a), you have to, *at some point*, address the fact that the 99% of the roles for men and women cannot possible be biologically determined, because different societies have assigned them to *different* genders.

                Though the necessity has ebbed or is perceived to have ebbed, the biological basis for some sexual division of some labor is still evident even for us,

                The claim I made there is not, I believe, actually a very strong claim.

                Ironically, you completely skipped over *why* it’s such a strong claim, and the actual problem I have with it: The phrase ‘biological basis’.

                You aren’t just claiming SDL *exists*. Of course it exists.

                You are claiming there is a *biological reason* it exists. A biological reason that, for example, more women are secretaries than men are.

                Of course, I have no idea if this is what you’re including under (a), because you refuse to actually *state which gender labor roles* you think have a biological basis. Every time we go near *there*, you switch over to talking about (b) and thinks it proves your point.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc

                I think we may be closing in on a clarification of differences that will at least allow us to cordon off the more disagreeably disagreeable areas of our disagreement, although, on the basis of my prior discussions with others wrong on the internet in relation to these issues, like Chris and Stillwater ferinstance, I’m not going to predict a new era of full mutual comprehension, appreciation, peaceful coexistence, and unprecedentedly rich symbolic exchange. Still, I am sure it would be interesting to me, I hope it might be useful for you, and I think it might even be useful and interesting to others.

                However, I need to solve some site problems, and need to run an errand. If comments on this post shuts down, as it is likely to do soon, I would consider posting a new post on this subject or sub-topic, which I think touches on several subjects of broader interest. Since setting it up will take some work, I don’t want to bother if a) you’re not interested, and b) you’re not interested in playing at least as nice as you now are: avoiding distractingly personalized declamatory interjections and digressions, operating according to apparent presumption of mutual interest in advancing the inquiry for its own sake without prejudice as to its conclusions or implications – you know, the usual internet standards 😉

                Also, you appear to have written another comment that was eaten up or disappeared somehow. I’m not sure how or why, but it’s in my email inbox, but not on the thread. Maybe you trashed it on your own? Or maybe the site trashed it… Do you want me retrieve it? Do you care if I quote it?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                I would consider posting a new post on this subject or sub-topic, which I think touches on several subjects of broader interest.

                Yes, please do that.

                Also, you appear to have written another comment that was eaten up or disappeared somehow

                I have not deliberately deleted any comment, so go ahead and post it.

                Looking back, it appears my *other* comment yesterday vanished. Maybe Lazarus still has that, I’ll try after this.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

                Found it. This was supposed to be attached to your May 1 comment. Posted unaltered except I censored a curse word in case that was why it didn’t post.

                @ck-macleod
                Where in the above comment you’re not attributing arguments to me that I have not made, in order to ridicule them,

                No s***. I’m doing that because you literally just keep saying there are ‘differences’ without actually *saying what they are*.

                Thanks also for clearing up how division of labor according to sex has nothing do with sex

                Didn’t say that.

                how a biological basis for some sexual division of some labor does not reflect a biological basis for some sexual division of some labor

                I have, in no way, admitted there is a biological basis for the division of labor beyond some *very specific* roles involving actually *physical* differences. I.e., of course mothers nursed infants, and there were a few professions only men were suited to.

                and how a different perceived practical connection to childbearing and -rearing for women than for men, in general, is purely the product of sexism

                So let me see if I understand you clearly. Your argument about ‘division of labor by sex’ is *ONLY*, entirely, about childraising?

                Well, not only are you *still* wrong, but it means half the crap you’ve been talking about was completely unrelated. For example, that list of ‘human universals’, when talking about ‘division of labor by sex’, was *not* referring to child-rearing. That is *not* when anthropologists are talking about when they say that phrase. (And you may take issue with how they define ‘labor’, and it’s a valid point, but that is how they define it, and you can’t magically make them retroactively be talking about something different when *they* talk about ‘division of labor by sex’.)

                with no possible necessary or rationally explicable and justifiable effect on the differentiation or roles in any society or social group, whether of primates

                Wrong.

                Because young primates, exactly like humans, cannot walk, they must be carried around. Which often is, indeed, the job of the mother…except when it’s not. Like with marmosets, for example, which have the *father* carry the children around on their back. In fact, because there are often twins, one father isn’t enough, and often *another* father will join the family, both of them carrying the children, while the mother carries *none*.

                But marmosets are fairly far away on the primate family tree. Let’s check our closest relatives, the chimps. First, let’s note that chimp and human development milestones are pretty close..walking by two, able to basically feed and water themselves by five, first estrus about 10 for females. So when we talk about developmental age, they’re basically the same as humans, maybe 10% sooner for chimps.

                So how do young chimps spend their time? Well, the mothers do indeed carry the babies around. Even after they can walk, until age five or so, they rarely leave their mother’s side. That is, indeed, true. And past that?

                They are raised by *their own gender*. Female chimps raise young female chimps, male chimps raise young male chimps.

                At best there (if you’re trying to assert we’re the same as something with millions of years of evolutionary differences), you’ve got evidence that women have some biological basis for raising babies and toddlers…and past that point, *men* are the ones that are biologically suited for raising boys once they hit school age.

                early humans, humans since the establishment of agriculture

                If you’re talking *only* about child-rearing, you’ve managed to become even more wrong.

                There is anthropological evidence that hunter-gatherers, at the *very end* of that existence, sometimes distributed the workload by gender. As in, men hunted, women gathered. This didn’t last long because, as I said, it happened at the end, when humans started moving from settlement to settlement. (And then they discovered if they seeded the ground before they left, they’d get better results…and if they put animals in pens, they wouldn’t have to leave *at all*, and thus hunting-gatherering was over.)

                But if you’re *only* talking about childrearing, you’re just completely making crap up. There is *absolutely no evidence* that they distributed the child-rearing by sex. None. At all.

                Now, it’s a valid point we don’t much evidence they *didn’t*. But you’re the guy making the assertion.

                Scoring a zero on anthropology *and* biology today.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                The main “job” allocated to women on some biological basis would be the job of bearing children,

                “Hey Sarah! Why you having that baby?”

                “It’s my job. Women were chosen to perform this task during The Great Job Allocation….”Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

                My last statement came off sounding more condescending than I intended. Sorry about that.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

                well, both @ck-macleod and @murali totally missed my point.

                Replace ‘gender’ with ‘slavery’

                Does that help?

                Again, I simply do not believe there is a universal morality. Who’s to say your interpretation is more moral than mine? This is an ongoing process of, perhaps, revealing and refining morality; but that also splinters it. Rod Dreher’s all a aghast at what the sexual licentiousness of modern society; he sees it as immoral. Yet the lands highest court essentially debated the immorality of denying gay and lesbian couples the dignity of marriage today.

                So I’d love to see that list of universal morals, but I don’t believe that it’s universal, and I do believe that the thing one age or culture views is moral might well be construed as universally immoral by another, as gender and slavery and education and countless other things suggest.

                And my proof that there’s no universal morality is the very notion that you cannot come up with a list; not even one started by ancient philosophers and honed through the ages into a current gold standard. If it were universal, everybody would know it.

                I’d argue the only universal morality is that most people think they know what moral is, and more importantly, that they recognize immoral when they see it.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

                @zic

                You are missing my point. There is no reason to think that if there was an independent moral reality that applied to everyone, everyone would be aware of it. People have been collectively mistaken about lots of things. There is no particular reason why we should think that just because there is a fact about something, everyone therefore has true beliefs about it. The problem with your view is that once you stop thinking that there is an objective universal morality, you’ve stopped talking about morality at all. I could in fact come up with an argument to show that Kant’s formula of universal law is the (or at least a) fundamental moral principle. It is somewhat long, but I’ll get down to it one of these days.

                Once you stop talking about things that are (at the fundamental level) universal, you’ve stopped talking about morality and are instead talking about fashion instead. But morality has authority over me in a way that fashion doesn’t and perhaps ought not to. I’ll see if I can get a post out of this by the weekend.Report

              • Avatar J_a in reply to Murali says:

                If there is a universal immutable morality, but neither me nor anyone else can find out what that morality is, then it’s the same as if the morality list doesn’t exist.

                Either there is a deductive or inductive method that will yield an irrevocable, universal, answer before before the sun turns Nova, or, for practical purposes there is no universal, eternal, external, morality.

                In that case you are stuck with what you can negotiate with your fellow humans. I propose the following: 1. the interactions between you and other humans must be consensual; 2. every consensual interactions must, in principle, avoid harm, particularly harming third parties, and, for the avoidance of harm, societies might oppose certain consensual interactions ; and, 3. when harm occurs, there should be mechanisms by which society tries as best as possible to remediate the harm.

                You can build a lot out of these three (and a half) principles, and they are flexible enough that they can be moved around different circumstances. However , i don’t know if they are THE universal principles.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to J_a says:

                @j_a

                I’m not claiming that we have no way of ever finding out. I’m only claiming that it is possible that most people don’t know it yet. Of course I’m confident that it has something to do with the formula of universal law but perhaps I am un justified in that belief.

                I also think that there is an important distinction between does not exist and does not know if exists. A lot of new atheists like to pretend that there isn’t one, but that belies their claim that they are only interested in the truth. The only situation in which does not exist and cannot know if exists are the same is when one is concerned purely with the pragmatics of a belief and not its truth value.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

                @murali

                The problem with your view is that once you stop thinking that there is an objective universal morality, you’ve stopped talking about morality at all.

                Now that is quite an assumption to make. And I’ve noticed you’ve forgotten your “universal.”

                First, I know what morality is, and I haven’t stopped talking about it. Instead, I’ve asked you to talk about it. I asked you to define universal morality. I asked for a list of things that were that are considered universally moral.

                Now I’ll ask a third question: How do we humans figure out what is universally moral if it’s so hidden from us?

                Murali, morality is not a concept outside of human; if there are other species on Earth or off with the potential to construct a morality, it won’t be like your construct. And your construct will never be a bit like mine. The only think that makes something universally moral is that something being generally accepted universally — and that would mean by humans.

                Now maybe there’s this universal morality that’s revealed over time; that it is our function to grapple with and understand as a species, that’s certainly the foundation of much religious belief. But I am skeptical of that notion.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

                @zic

                In fact slavery supports my point even better. Was there ever a time when slavery was actually morally justified instead of only thought to be justified? If slavery was actually justified then but not now, then it would follow that slave owners were not doing wrong by keeping slaves then, though they would be doing wrong now if they kept slaves today.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Murali says:

                Murali
                If biodiversity counts as a good reason, then the answer is “the future”.Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    One wonders if @rufus-f is attempting to define “society” as a system by which deviants are identified as contrasting from prevailing norms. In the absence of deviants, do norms have any meaning, and if not, then does “society” have any meaning? I can see the conundrum, but the solution is to not define society as a system by which in-groups are segregated from out-groups.

    Far better to define “society” as a cultural, legal, and social structure that permits people who hold different sets of norms to nevertheless coexist peacefully. Participating in society sometimes requires partially subordinating your own norms for those of the larger society’s, a behavior that frequently goes under the sobriquet of “tolerance.”Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Society is a system that allows large numbers of people to live together without killing each other. Every social system ever invented from the most hierarchical and authoritarian to the most free and radical ones like the utopians that want to smash whatever out of existence are attempting this.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I think the issue is more how do we treat people/groups that don’t follow group norms. If nothing is outside the norm, then the norm doesn’t actually define anything. Co existing peacefully is a great norm. Of course as you say that does require coping with stuff you don’t like.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:

      “In the absence of deviants, do norms have any meaning, and if not, then does “society” have any meaning?”

      Now this is an interesting question. I’ve always been found of the paradox that Freud presents in Civilization and Its Discontent. Civilization/society/laws are what allow for safety and mass prosperity and comfort but it also requires a sacrifice of individuality or comfort to fit in the laws. This causes rebellion. Now it is very subjective towards which rebellions we consider good or not. I am not much sympathetic to the rebellion of Bohemians and artists than I am to a guy who keeps flying the confederate flag because he knows it goes against the mores of society but both groups are rebelling. I just appreciate the rebellion that produces Howl and Abstract Expressionism more.

      “Far better to define “society” as a cultural, legal, and social structure that permits people who hold different sets of norms to nevertheless coexist peacefully.”

      I agree and I think the norms (and geographic space) of liberal democracy in the United States are largely good for this. Lee is right when he talks about liberal democracy and the “illiberal problem” There is always going to be a chunk of the population that refuses to play by the rules and norms of liberal democracy and is going to want to place their values as dominant. I often see these people on the right but that is my liberal-bias.

      One thing that is interesting though is that people often think of NYC as being cold and not friendly. A friend of mine pointed out that this is because you have a lot of different groups with very different ideas and they live in very close proximity to each other. These groups come from all over the world, they are religious, they are secular, they are Western, they are Eastern, they often can’t understand each other quite literally. The coldness that turns off a lot of non-New Yorkers is a kind of detente of just letting each other be even though I suspect that a lot of groups would like to scream “You are doing it wrong…..” at other groups.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I don’t think society, ours or any others, is at risk of doing away with deviance or deviants anytime soon. For the most part, the definitions haven’t even changed, and to the extent that they have, they’ve simply done what they tend to do: flip. C.f. Georg with no silent e, and Ortega.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Great point, Burt. I think the first definition is how the sociological literature was defining society. I’m curious if we could move towards the second, so that certain deviations are something we just do not engage with, as opposed to running people out of town.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I’m not really sure how this will work. How do you go from a society that goes from persecuting LGBT people to treating them as full citizens without ostracizing people who really hate LGBT people for a variety of reasons? It seems like your trying to square the circle with this one.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to LeeEsq says:

      We have gone through bigger changes then accepting gay people. There was that whole treating black people as fully equal thing. See also women, native americans etc.

      It takes some laws and some teaching and just some putting up with nasty people being nasty. Just thinking about the my jewish family and friends, they always knew some people hated them but it wasn’t’ think big of deal as long as they could live and work and play where they wanted. Sure the grocer might be an anti-semite but he had good fruit and the butcher had good cuts and nobody was stopping them for shopping there so who cares. They even gave out green stamps and were polite, so all in all, my relatives lived a normal public life even if some of the people in their periphery had some nasty beliefs.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to greginak says:

        I actually think that accepting LGBT people was a much bigger change than accepting African-Americans and other people of color in many respects. The foundational book of much of Western civilization is the Bible. Both the Jewish parts and Christian parts of the Bible aren’t exactly favorable to LGBT rights even under their most generous interpretation. In contrast, there isn’t much in both parts of the Bible that give sanction to racism even if the Bible has been used to justify racism. Many quotes in the Bible call for the acceptance and tolerance of other people and kindness to the stranger. Accepting African-Americans and people of color did not require going against a lot of the foundations of Western civilization. Bringing LGBT people into the mainstream, especially gay men and the transgendered, required going against thousands of years of Western wisdom. The fact that it happened in a relatively fast way was a miracle.Report

        • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

          @leeesq

          Noah Millman has a partial dissent from that view. I’m not sure how much I buy his argument, but he has a point.

          One way in which accepting LG, and perhaps B and T, people might go better than accepting people from different races is that most people probably know and are probably very close to people who are L or G. Self-segregation, while not impossible, is getting harder once the basic obstacles are out of the way.

          Or at least I hope so. Nothing is guaranteed….Report

        • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I disagree Lee. Race is both highly visible and highly clustered; homosexuality is diffuse. A racist can indulge their racism generally secure in the belief of where their own loved ones and circle of acquaintences vis a vis that racism. A homophobe can abruptly discover that a beloved brother, uncle, aunt or niece is suddenly (or rather always has been) one of those hated “homos” and that shakes people in their prejudices. Once homosexuals comitted to abandoning the closet and becoming visible a moderation on peoples stances towards them became very hard to fight.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Lesbians simply aren’t mentioned in the bible, and gay guys are only “discriminated against” because of their presence in non-Judaic cults.
          *shrugs* they still are obligated to have kids, but … it’s not nearly as bad as you’d thinkReport

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to LeeEsq says:

          @leeesq
          Both the Jewish parts and Christian parts of the Bible aren’t exactly favorable to LGBT rights even under their most generous interpretation.

          No.

          The ‘Christian pasts of the Bible’ (Aka, the New Testament) don’t actually say anything about homosexuality at all. There’s two (fairly recent) translations of a made-up word we don’t know the meaning of, and one example of God causing an orgy. (Not kidding there.)

          And the rules in the Old Testament have never actually applied to gentile Christians anyway. Ever. There was a huge discussion about this in the early Church, and the answer was ‘They do not apply’. And even if they did, or if there were really any ‘Jewish Christians’ still around, Jewish law would apply not by ‘reading the text’, but via the centuries-old Jewish interpretation of the law of rabbis and whatnot…which, at this point, seems to have no problem with homosexuality.

          Now, people can feel free to disagree with that. (Although the New Testament stuff is actual linguistic fact, and ‘don’t have to follow Jewish rules’ is something Christians settled 1900 years ago.) So they’re wrong, but, hey, they can disagree.

          But what they say is *not* the only interpretation of the Bible. In fact, it’s a pretty crappy textually, and clearly-politically oriented, interpretation.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DavidTC says:

            In Acts of the Apostles, the Council of Jerusalem specifically held that the rules against fornication in the Torah do apply to Christians. This presumably includes the law against lying with a man like you would a woman. I believe that Paul also rallied against effeminate men in his epistles.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to LeeEsq says:

              The Council of Jerusalem was just the first of *many* breaks with Judaism. Hell, all that was about was circumcision.

              But a more relevant thing is perhaps here:
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_the_Old_Covenant

              To quote: Many Christians believe that only parts are applicable, others believe that none are applicable, dual-covenant theologians believe that it remains valid only for Jews, and a minority have the view that all are still applicable to believers in Jesus and the New Covenant.

              Basically, it’s a complicated issue in Christianity, but, as Wikipedia correctly says, the idea that *all* the laws are still applicable to believers is a fairly small minority.

              And ‘only parts are applicable’ is a bit of an over-simplification. Generally, the idea is that some of the old laws were *recreated* under the new laws, not that the old laws actually apply.

              These laws may, or may not, have been specifically stated in the New Testament. And may, or may not, be specific laws that were distinctive under Jewish law, like the laws of given to Noah, or the Ten Commandments. None of these laws have anything to do with sex, IIRC. (Although for some reason Judiasm seem to think the laws given to Noah laws forbid fornication, and are a lot longer than they are in the actual text I’m reading. I’m not sure what’s going on there.)

              Basically no actual Christian denomination thinks, and hasn’t thought for ~1900 years, that actual ‘Jewish law’, aka, the Old Covenant, applies to Christians. And most think that if any of those law have been re-applied, it’s the big ones, not the little ones.

              But, I will admit, some of them *do* indeed think that the fornication laws in Leviticus *were* recreated under the New Covenant, which would include the rules about homosexuality. I’m not sure why, specifically, they think that, and it doesn’t really make much sense to me. Because, like, seriously, of all the existing laws Jesus objected to it, half of it was that sort of thing. He’s against stoning adulterers, he hangs with prostitutes. There’s even a bunch of stuff in the New Testament about how people shouldn’t get married, and how people should be able to get divorced in violation of the law.

              But the point isn’t that ‘those fornication laws have been recreated’ denominations exist, the point is that the *opposite* also exists, and has a pretty well distinguished history of interpretation that way. It’s not some rare ‘most generous interpretation’.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to DavidTC says:

            Also worth noting that not all the passages that people think are about the gay actually are. The crime of Sodom was not buggery: it was inhospitality, specifically to the poor and needy. How do I know this? The Bible tells me so: Ezekiel 16:49 to be precise. The people who claim it is about sex are either not paying attention or are dissembling.

            Similarly, it takes a special intellect to read the opening of Paul’s letter to the Romans and conclude that he is laying down the law about homosexuality.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Oh, I am definitely trying to square the circle with this one, I admit. But, looking at it from a historical perspective, it seems totally conceivable that within a decade or less these people who really hate LGBT people will be essentially irrelevant, outdated, and the world will have moved on. I’m saying maybe we just treat them like we would flat earthers and not more seriously.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Flat earthers do not commit acts of discrimination though. They aren’t threatening to use their property to commit petty and big acts of discrimination against LGBT people. The homophobes do commit acts of discrimination. They want to make it more difficult for same sex couples to plan their weddings. Homophobes launch law suits to prevent LGBT rights from progressing further. If a legislature is considering passing anti-discrimination laws that are applicable to LGBT people, the homophobes work against such laws. Homophobes show actual malice and willingness to use every tool available to cause acts of harm against LGBT people. This is why they can’t be tolerated.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I can understand the sentiment, but it’s still very hard for me to get from: “They want to make it more difficult for same sex couples to plan their weddings” to needing to run them out of business. The worst case scenario I can think of one where a couple especially wants this pizza place to cater their wedding; maybe they went there for their first date; and so it’s particularly hurtful. But, even there, I don’t see why we don’t just say “Fish you, buddy!” and patronize the businesses that like making money. And also, to be honest, it’s hard for me to see how putting them out of business advances the cause of gay rights one whit.Report

          • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Rufus F. says:

            Rufus F.: And also, to be honest, it’s hard for me to see how putting them out of business advances the cause of gay rights one whit.

            It doesn’t. And worse, it just feeds into the “persecuted Christian” meme/fantasy that so many of them love so much. It just ends up validating the crazies that claim SSM will lead to Christianity being outlawed. How much better to be a martyr holding fast for your faith than be seen as just… sort of a dick?Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Rufus F. says:

            You know, this is a meme — the ‘put-them-out-of-business’ that actually deserves some frisking.

            I can’t speak for the pizza shop; but in NM, with the wedding photographer, the plaintiff did not seek monetary damages (which might have suggested an intent to put the photographer out of business,); they sought to have NM laws enforced.

            While there might be a fringe of people who seek the ‘put them out of business,’ in a capitalist economy, voting with where you spend your money is a time honored tradition. Not shopping is a right, the one you suggest be followed. But you can’t know where to ‘not shop’ if people also don’t spread the word.

            I purchase a lot of crafting material, but I won’t shop at Hobby Lobby. I also don’t shop at WalMart, but more because I’ve had friends and family members who worked there and listened to their complaints about how the company treats employees than anything. My intent isn’t to ‘put them out of business,’ however, it’s simply to not support their business. My dear friend P. is socially conservative, and I have no problem with her spending her money at either place.

            Not patronizing a business or suing a business to enforce civil rights laws doesn’t equal trying to put them out of business.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to zic says:

              Voting with your pocketbook is one thing. Seeking a $130,000 fine is another. Voicing your objections to a pizza place is one thing, but actively obstructing their ability to do business is another.

              Depends on what, precisely, we are talking about.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

                @will-truman my point is that when all complaints of businesses who want the right to discriminate are treated as ‘shutting the business down,’ we are stepping toward a world of some weird, forced capitalism; you must shop here or your trying to shut the business down.

                I have filed complaints with our state DEP about landowners I knew were breaking environmental laws, most particularly, improper disposal of oil (and oil containers, particularly chain-saw oil containers) in the woods.

                This isn’t an attempt on my part to shut the business down, it’s an attempt to protect ground water supplies from oil contamination; which just happen to be protected by the force of law.

                In Indiana, some people obviously went too far; but just maybe it was important for business owners to notice that customers vote with their wallets, too. Having lived through the marriage debates here — remember, the Maine legislature approved SSM, Christian groups gathered signatures and forced a referendum where that was overturned, and than SSM supporters gathered signatures and and forced a second referendum which was overwhelming approved — I noticed a funny thing. After the first referendum, a handful of businesses publicly rejoiced. And most people stopped shopping there; I know of a couple that lost enough business that they failed.

                And then nobody bothered about it; even the very religious and conservative folk I know who think SSM and homosexuality a sin, decided it wasn’t their business, and making it their business wasn’t good for their businesses. And now, it’s a non-issue.

                Yes, I object to violence, vandalism, harassment, and ordering a pizza you never intend to pick up or pay for. But that is not the majority of people, either. It’s no different from the crazy people who scream at every woman walking into a family-planning clinic; most people who think abortion wrong do not go out and harass women in public about it. Conflating those few with all is stupid.

                I don’t object to boycotting a business you find offensive; experience here suggests that people figure out how to separate their religious views from somebody else’s life pretty quickly.

                And that’s the way it oughtta be.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to zic says:

                I don’t object to boycotting businesses either. A six-figure fine is not boycotting a business. We’re past the whole “voting with our dollars” thing and in to “bake that cake or we will use the state to try to ruin you” territory.

                These are not the same thing. “Forced capitalism” is only an issue in the former case.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

              Not patronizing a business or suing a business to enforce civil rights laws doesn’t equal trying to put them out of business.

              Is the penalty for violating these laws light enough that it’s feasible to continue to run a business in open violation? Do you want it to be?

              It seems to me that the goal of these antidiscrimination laws is to make sure that nobody is able to run a business while discriminating in certain ways. In other words, to force them to comply or be shut down. If that’s what you want, own it.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I’m between you on this. While I’m sympathetic to Lee’s position and also sympathetic to yours I think the brouhaha over this is still badly overblown. Left out of your analysis of Memories Pizza, for instance, is the fact that the owners of the store got a massive cash payday or that the most visible and violent of their harassers got terminated from their job as a result of their misbehavior. In another month I would submit that Memories Pizza could reopen with the same name and location with little difficulty. The internet’s tiny lizard brain will have moved on to their next five minute hate.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to North says:

          Sorry, North, I should’ve updated that. It does support the idea that this did more for the target of condemnation than for their opponents though. I think I also have a different take on this because I’ve been on the receiving end of a campaign to ostracize me from polite society for a far more minor offense.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Rufus F. says:

            No worries, it happens. I know the screechers on the moral right or social justice right can be deafening and traumatizing but their powers truly are limited principally to shrieking. Where I bridle is the idea that the rise of screechers on the left is the sign of an impending pogrom against the cultural right. I (and the overwhelming vast majority of people) have zero interest in nailing Christians up to a cross; even assuming that I put just one through both feet and then one for each palm they wouldn’t be worth the nails let alone the effort.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I think Lee is on to something here. The Civil Rights movement did not get rid of racism, racists, or people willing to vote on racist sentiments. What it did do for a while is get people to express their racism and bigotry in more muted ways. The GOP adman Lee Atwater and a famous quote about this:

    “You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.'”

    Only this might not be completely true. We have seen a resurgence in the past few years of a really overt racism. You had the whole Derbyshire debacle during Trayvon Martin. We still have stories about towns in the South with two proms. The official one is attended by African-American students and the white parents throw a private prom for the white kids. Vox Day/Theodore Beale is a noxious racist who talks about how blacks are genetically inferior to whites. And you have people here (not Will but others) who will glowingly link to a trollish racist like Steve Sailer.

    LGBT rights have done a huge leap forward in my life time and even in my adulthood. When I was 24, SSM was an effective wedge issue which probably caused Bush II to squeeze in a reelection victory. 11 years later and the Supremes are going to hear a case on whether SSM bans are constitutional or not on Thursday. Many people in my age group and younger are very pro-LGBT right but this doesn’t stop Pittsburgh High School students from holding an anti-Gay Day.

    Things will get better but there will always be homophobic and transphobic people out there and they will probably be stigmatized to a certain extent or a large extent.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I remember quite well from what circles arose the first spasms of overt racism at the mere thought, as it was at the time, of an Obama presidency.

      Perhaps one of the most important effects of the spasms of overt racism from the American “right” in the face of an actual Obama presidency, has been that it’s allowed the “left” to once again forget that it is a sea of subcutaneous racism.Report

    • Avatar Dand in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      And you have people here (not Will but others) who will glowingly link to a trollish racist like Steve Sailer.

      I’m not sure if you’re talking about me but I only posted that link to disagree with it.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      +1, @saul-degraw

      I’d add that it takes a long time for trends of deviance to change; and even after they’ve mostly changed, people encounter pockets of racism/misogyny/homophobia/ethnophobia. I’m pretty sure, for instance, that my oldest brother still has it out for Irish people (and I have no notion why he ever had it out for Irish people, except that possibly some girl who crushed on dated an Irish kid instead of him.)

      I certainly encounter all sorts of weird misogyny; a man and woman in the pharmacy, visiting town on a ski trip. She’d supposedly had her doctor call in a prescription, but it hadn’t gotten into the pharmacy system, and this was urgent for some chronic, sporadic condition she has. In the course of five minutes listening to the husband rant, I learned that 1) the doctor was a woman; 2) the doctor’s staff were woman, and that 3) the pharmacist, also a woman, not to mention that 4) his wife were, one and all, all incompetent do to our genders. I had heard such a rant on the inferiority of women in general for decades. Funnily, we all made eye contact and shrugged off this oaf’s loud and insulting bullhorning. The store manager approached (a man,) and was going to say something, and the pharmacist shushed him. It was quite a show.

      And that, really, is the end game; when, like Memories Pizza, the ism becomes entertainment.Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      @saul-degraw “Only this might not be completely true. We have seen a resurgence in the past few years of a really overt racism. You had the whole Derbyshire debacle during Trayvon Martin. We still have stories about towns in the South with two proms. The official one is attended by African-American students and the white parents throw a private prom for the white kids. Vox Day/Theodore Beale is a noxious racist who talks about how blacks are genetically inferior to whites. And you have people here (not Will but others) who will glowingly link to a trollish racist like Steve Sailer.”

      I think you may be showing your age here if you see this all as some kind of regression.

      The John Derbyshire rant was far closer to common wisdom among middle class whites in the 80s than it wasn’t. There have always been plenty of Vox Days willing to say those things when they thought they were amongst their own tribe. Steve Sailer’s beliefs used to be far more mainstream even just a decade or two ago than they are now. When I was in college and most of the decade after, sports teams didn’t hire black coaches (or black quarterbacks) for the precise reasons Sailer still claims are science, and most people thought they were correct in doing so.

      (And FWIW, I know of only two commenters here that have ever done anything approvingly in regards to Sailer. One is long gone; the only place I ever see him is over at Rowe’s place. The other is decidedly *not* treated well by others here.)

      As for the recent stories like Trayvon and Brown, your understanding of now as compared to years past is backwards. Those kind of events — and middle class America thinking the police/vigilantes were the good guys — are no more common now than before. What has changed is large numbers is middle class Americans being outraged by it.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.’”

      That’s some pretty sleazy editing. Here it is in context, without cutting out the parts where Atwater’s saying it’s not about race.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Nice try, but that story’s just too good. It’s as much a part of the American Left canon as Sarah Palin saying that she could see Russia from her house.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        …I am unsure what you are defending?

        Atwater’s actual premise is that racism would cause people to vote, but over time you’d have to stop using overt racism, and start using more coded messages, and eventually just start hoping that people could piece together that a policy would mean ‘blacks get hurt worse than whites’ so they’d vote for it.

        So the cuts made Atwater sound more like a racist, instead of a horrible human being who was explaining how to exploit *other people’s* racism to get people elected?

        Now, he does explain that in the end, (because no one is being openly racist) the entire premise stops working, because people stop being racist….but, I must point out, this isn’t really presented as any sort of deliberate end result, or even a *good thing*, just a sorta side-effect of people not being *allowed* to be openly racist.

        So, the full quote makes him look like a manipulative and calculating SOB that had a winning strategy in openly using racism, and now he’s having to recalculate in the future as racism slowly goes away, eventually not using it at all. Meanwhile, he seems to have no *actual position* on racism. (And, incidentally, I think that interpenetration is 100% correct, but I could be wrong.)

        I’m not sure fully explaining the thing makes him look *better*. Racism you can at least explain by stupidity and/or ignorance.Report

      • You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it.

        Yup, not about race at all. Explicitly.Report

  8. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Could a society function with complete tolerance but without deviants?

    Do you mean: could society function with complete tolerance of deviants but without deviants? Sure. I mean, it’s logically possible that people would be tolerant of deviant behavior which no individuals in that society actually express.

    Of do you mean: is it possible for individuals in a society to be constrained in their actions towards others by a conception of tolerance for what they would would otherwise (except for the norm of tolerance) view as deviant? Sure, insofar as they’re motivated by the norm more than by expressing their intolerance.

    Or do you mean something more like what Burt said above: that deviance defines norms? That strikes me as a bit of a logical mistake, if that’s what you mean, since viewing something as deviant is just the expression of a norm. (A norm isn’t necessarily a good, or lead to good things. It’s just a governing principle, yes? Some lead to good things, some don’t.)Report

  9. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/national-youth-front-appalachian-state-privilege

    I remember that there was a lot of talk about how Caucasians are a diminishing group in United States demographics. So there does seem to be a huge freakout among some or many Caucasians about this. I think this is part of the reason the GOP is making such a heavy play to attract Jewish voters.

    Jews did not really achieve full integration into American society until sometime during the 1960s. Many universities kept their “Jewish quotas” until sometime between 1965-68. You can also see this reflected on Mad Men where even in NYC, Jews are not allowed into the Park Avenue set and are just starting to break into the old WASP businesses. 1950s and 1960s New York still had “Jewish” law firms, banks, brokerages, etc because the WASPs wouldn’t hire Jews. But now as we hear about changing demographics, Jews are starting to be seen as just European-Americans with a different religion (even though not all Jews are of European origin or white) because it increases Caucasian demographics.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Its the natural outcome of Social Justice talk. There are always people who want to take good ideas like ending racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry, oppression, and persecution and turn them into the farce. I consider social justice to make a mockery of the ancient goal of the cosmopolitan society.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’ve read a lot of conservative blog-wonderment suggesting anointing Latinos as the ‘new caucasions.’

      Which is freaky weird, but with Cruz and Rubio, you gotta wonder. Maybe it’s just the Cubans?Report

      • Avatar Mr. Blue in reply to zic says:

        Well, there’s the hope that at least some Hispanics (specifically Cubans and those that have been here for more than a generation or two) will be considered “white” at least in the same sense that non-Anglo whites are.

        There’s no “anointing” involved, really, but I think there’s a pretty good chance it happens if a lot of Republicans get their heads out their asses. Eventually. But the party has a lot of work to do.

        There aren’t enough Jewish voters to make much of a difference, except in Florida. Jews are the out-group that the base is most comfortable with, though. For others it presents an opportunity to get the party out of the narrow box it’s presently in. Asian-Americans are similar, though they present more challenges but also have greater numerical potential over time.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Mr. Blue says:

          @mr-blue

          The original neo-cons (who were all Jewish and all former Stalinists!) had a joke in the 1960s that “Jews earned like Episcopalians and voted like Puerto Ricans” So I suspect that part of the appeal of getting Jewish voters is a relatively to very affluent

          Jews can probably swing elections in a handful of places like New York, New Jersey, and Florida. I suspect that if Jews were less solidly Democratic, Republicans could be more viable as Senate candidates in New York.Report

          • Avatar Mr. Blue in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Some of it is the income thing, but a lot of it is the familiarity and similarity. For most people in the party, Jews are seen as only one step removed from ethnic white Catholics.

            If the Republicans swap the Jewish vote with Democrats, getting the bulk of it, then maybe New York and New Jersey become competitive. But I think that’s more than even the most optimistic assumptions of what’s possible.Report

  10. Avatar Zac says:

    “Some choose gayness, apparently, while others have it thrust upon them.”

    I see what you did there.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Dand says:

      I really wish that my side of the debate well understand that people you really disagree with get free speech rights to. The posters were in poor taste but that doesn’t mean you get to eliminate them simply because you want to. Assholes have free speech to.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Dand says:

      Now that was a joy to read; excellent analysis of where, when, and how a poster may or may not be an expression of free speech.

      Had it been me, however, I would have left the posters up; and maybe put some thought into how to use them as my own canvas for free expression with some happy, colorful markers.Report

  11. Avatar Will H. says:

    There will always be insularism and otherness.
    There will always be old people in Florida that want to get rid of any Canadian penny they might get in change on the basis that it’s worthless, even when the loonie floats above parity.
    Identity is like that.

    I suppose it is possible at some stage that mind will become capable of transcending the animal portion of man.
    Not anytime soon though, for better or worse.Report

  12. Avatar Barry says:

    Rufus: “What about half as many pizzas for a marriage of bisexuals?”

    Twice as many. Simple arithmetic 🙂Report

  13. Avatar zic says:

    New rules: so long as it’s not habitual, it’s okay to have a drunken gay fling:

    Report

  14. Avatar zic says:

    Today, Rod Dreher’s adventures in defending Society include Baltimore, marriage equality, and (special bonus edition) reproductive rights.

    This is why what is happening in Baltimore is linked to what is happening on Capitol Hill at the Supreme Court today. America in 2015 is a culture that defines the good as whatever the individual says it is. Justice Kennedy himself told us so in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”). I was trying to explain to my kids on the drive into the city late this morning what is at stake in the gay marriage arguments, and I said that it has to do with what is the meaning of marriage, and what is the meaning of the human person. In the end, I said, it comes down to whether or not there is a standard of truth outside of ourselves to which we must conform, or whether or not the body and the world of matter is inert material upon which we can impose our will.

    So it comes down more or less to the same arguments that pitted the Scholastics against the Nominalists seven centuries ago. The end game is the evaporation of Christianity as anything more than therapeutic sentimentality. We’re living through this now.

    So if somebody else gets to impose their will, Christianity evaporates? Either he’s lost his faith, and doesn’t trust that people will come to it through belief and without force, or he’s completely paranoid from talking about Dante too much; dude’s got a prosecution complex.

    Whichever, he’s starting to smell like Alex Jones.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to zic says:

      To be honest, that excerpt reads like fairly standard religious reactionary sort of boilerplate. All I would say is that, if the evaporation of a meaningful Christianity hinges on this, it’s already long gone. My sense is that he’s in mourning, not defensive.Report

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