"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Oh, so they're interested in moral formation after all....

Duke's lacrosse team has managed to thoroughly embarrass itself and the rest of the school by hiring strippers for a party and then, allegedly, taunting one of the strippers (who was black, while the team is almost entirely white) with racial taunts and then (again, allegedly) raping
her. A real class act, these guys.

The idea that college atheletes (or college students more broadly) would be badly behaving is hardly surprising, but what's interesting here is the reaction of some of the commentators - they want the team members (and college students more broadly) to understand that hiring strippers is a bad thing in and of itself. It's degrading to women, they say. True enough, but isn't it interesting that this kind of moralism (of which I heartily approve) always shows back up, even when universities try as hard as they can to say that they don't want to take moralist stands. Sure, hiring strippers is a bad thing for women, but so is having coed floors where men are free to roam at all times of the day and night. So is turning a blind eye to the excessive use of alcohol (since almost all sexual assaults on college campuses are related to alcohol use). So is the promotion of sexual promiscuity.

19 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

It's the modern mind. It floats in nothing and thrashes around for some standard when "bad" things happen.

Tlaloc said...

"allegedly, taunting one of the strippers (who was black, while the team is almost entirely white) with racial taunts and then (again, allegedly) raping
her. A real class act, these guys."

You left out that the stripper was also strangled and robbed. Yes a very class act.



"but what's interesting here is the reaction of some of the commentators - they want the team members (and college students more broadly) to understand that hiring strippers is a bad thing in and of itself."

They are wrong. People over react in the face of things that hit them emotionally. This is an example.

James Elliott said...

"Sure, hiring strippers is a bad thing for women, but so is having coed floors where men are free to roam at all times of the day and night."

What? Have you ever lived on a coed dorm floor? Or better yet, lived on one with a coed bathroom? There's nothing more equalizing for the sexes and more likely to kill a nascent attraction than listening to the other person take a dump first thing in the morning. Seriously.

"So is the promotion of sexual promiscuity."

Promotion, wha'?

Tom Van Dyke said...

There's nothing more equalizing for the sexes and more likely to kill a nascent attraction than listening to the other person take a dump first thing in the morning. Seriously.

Unless you're into that sort of thing.

Regardless, putting the sexes into such mundane proximity is not an inherent good. But modernism has long ago stopped asking about what is good. Its concerns are far more fecal, to "even" us all at the lowest common denominator.

Tlaloc said...

"Unless you're into that sort of thing."

Heh. I was going to say the same thing but I thought you guys would find it out of bounds for a family site.



"But modernism has long ago stopped asking about what is good."

With good cause: the question is meaningless as a societal construct.

Tom Van Dyke said...

And if that isn't nihilism, James, I dunno what is.

James Elliott said...

"Regardless, putting the sexes into such mundane proximity is not an inherent good."

How so? At a gut-level, I profoundly disagree, but I know I need to consider why before I go spouting off. I'm honestly interested in why you think close proximity, as in living on the same dorm floor to take the example here, is bad. I want to avoid sinking into the pit of "conservatives hate women/sex/genitalia in general."

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, the problem with nihilism is that it's very difficult to make an affirmative case for anything.

James Elliott said...

"Yes, the problem with nihilism is that it's very difficult to make an affirmative case for anything."

I kind of thought you were referring to Tlaloc's comment, "With good cause: the question is meaningless as a societal construct," when you brought up nihilism. Apparently I had no idea where you were coming from or what you were referring to, because I have a hard time finding anything remotely nihilistic in anything I've written. Rather, I was asking why you think there is no inherent good in "mundane proximity" of the sexes. That's about as honest an inquiry into values as there is, and really quite the opposite of nihilism.

Tlaloc said...

"And if that isn't nihilism, James, I dunno what is."

I have to agree- you don't know what is. Hint: relativism is entirely different from nihilism.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ah yes, I apologize for my confusion. I should have known it wasn't you, James. For the reason expressed above, I do not argue with nihilists, as they do not have arguments, only argumentation.

Still, I invite you to assume the affirmative role and tell me why coed bathrooms are inherently good, and I meself shall retire to the gallery, spitball launcher at the ready. An exchange of roles will do us both some good. :-)

James Elliott said...

"I have to agree- you don't know what is. Hint: relativism is entirely different from nihilism."

I think Tom is conflating ethical nihilism - which is related to moral relativism - with nihilism as a whole. Since ethical nihilism borrows from skepticism, and relativism grew out of some of the same thoughts that led others to nihilism, there seems to be some fallacious semantic generalizing going on.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I don't argue with any of them, either, James, for the same reasons given. Make your case. Or don't. It's all relative. Or meaningless. Or something.

James Elliott said...

"Still, I invite you to assume the affirmative role and tell me why coed bathrooms are inherently good, and I meself shall retire to the gallery, spitball launcher at the ready. An exchange of roles will do us both some good. :-)"

Uh, sure, why not. It keeps me from completing a tedious biopsychosocial assessment.

If the whole hang up here is coed bathrooms, then allow me to clarify: I personally didn't live with them for more than a few days and found the whole experience profoundly uncomfortable. Despite what one might think about the titillation of showering in the same proximity as nubile young women, the whole bowel movement thing totally desexualizes the experience. Which may or may not be a good thing. Me, I like the mystery of female bathroom activity (like showering and hair combing), rather than being confronted with the reality of the rest of what goes on in there (like bodily necessities).

My question, rather, centered around my understanding (perhaps erroneous) that Tom and Michael were opposed to coed dormitories: young men and women living on the same floors. That certainly seems to have been Michael’s intent (“Sure, hiring strippers is a bad thing for women, but so is having coed floors where men are free to roam at all times of the day and night.”) and I interpreted Tom’s statement (“Regardless, putting the sexes into such mundane proximity is not an inherent good.”) in the same vein. Now, if Tom was referring to the whole bathroom thing, then he and I don’t disagree at all. I can barely tolerate public men’s restrooms. I prefer that some things remain intensely personal, for the sake of us all. The only places I’ve been to that had unisex bathrooms with multiple stalls are Paris, UC Santa Cruz, and Reid University – all pretty weird places, really. Some things should just remain a mystery. I, for one, would have liked to have clung to the belief that ladies don’t poop like men a little longer. Childish, I know.

So, let us assume that Tom and I agree, and no conflict of vision occurs there. I will then address Michael’s apparently broader swath.

Whole dissertations could be written around that single sentence’s assumption of young men as sexually aggressive, and in other forums, I’d indulge myself. Suffice to say, I think such characterizations, especially when shared and perpetually reinforced by a broader swath of culture, are inherently self-fulfilling in ways that are profoundly damaging to adolescent boys and young men and society as a whole. The base assumption is that exposure to the other sex at a time of hormonal excess and continued development, sans parental control, is inherently bad. On the contrary, I feel that such exposure encourages a level of egalitarianism and understanding of one another unseen in previous generations. That this may enable the fulfillment of naturally occurring desires towards sexual and emotional experimentation in ways that are different than previous generations is an invitation for more frank, open communication between parents and children, not an inherent negative within the experience. The risks of sexual experimentation and aggression can be mitigated and controlled, while the benefits of exposure to the other sex are substantial. In the interest of brevity (too late!), I’ll stop there unless asked to continue.

James Elliott said...

I'd like to say that I wrote this comment

"I think Tom is conflating ethical nihilism..."

before I read this one

"Ah yes, I apologize for my confusion..."

from Tom.

I probably wouldn't have written mine had I seen his first. I definitely would have paid far more attention to tone, which came off as offensive.

Thanks for the opportunity to change seats, Tom.

Michael Simpson said...

"That this may enable the fulfillment of naturally occurring desires towards sexual and emotional experimentation in ways that are different than previous generations..."

It's quite nice when a 'critic' makes your case for you. Thanks, Mr. Elliot.

Tlaloc said...

"On the contrary, I feel that such exposure encourages a level of egalitarianism and understanding of one another unseen in previous generations. That this may enable the fulfillment of naturally occurring desires towards sexual and emotional experimentation in ways that are different than previous generations is an invitation for more frank, open communication between parents and children, not an inherent negative within the experience. "

Nicely put. Mixing girls and boys means that both get to interact, learn how to behave toward each other and how to form friendships and yes even romantic connections.

Infintely superior to rigidly segregating them, denying them any life experience before demanding they get married for life to a partner they don't know and can't communicate with. A slight exaggeration, but not by much.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well done, and much more fun, Mr. Elliott. Mr. Simpson does point out the virtue of the exchange of affirmative arguments. One can't just fire something off. =:-O

(Yes, I myself was thinking of the bathrooms. It's amazing how much of life comes down to poo-poo.)

I can't say you're wrong about proximity resulting in greater respect, but I fear that it achieves just the opposite effect. Familiarity breeding contempt.

James Elliott said...

"It's quite nice when a 'critic' makes your case for you. Thanks, Mr. Elliot."

When you completely remove it from the context of the rest of the statement, yeah, it might do what you suggest. Too bad it does quite the opposite. You're taking my words completely apart from the premise they were presented in. I don't view the situation as an inherent negative, unlike you.