Trope-a-Day: Bondage Is Bad

Bondage Is Bad: Actually, yes, this one’s played straight.  It’s an Imperial prejudice, and for once, it’s a prejudice which they don’t really have a rational justification for – essentially, as you may have noticed in this series, they have a really strong libertist ideology that holds that coercion is bad, bad, bad stuff.  Therefore, sexual coercion, all the more so.

Now, of course, this doesn’t really apply to BDSM, which can be entirely Safe, Sane and Consensual, but in a place and time that has very, very high standards of consent, that prosecutes batteries far too de minimis for a Terran legal system to bother with, and that has a formal criminal charge (meddlement) for just using someone’s property without their consent, never mind taking it —

Well, look; it may be Sane and Consensual, and it may be entirely ethical even by their standards, and wholly legal, and you may be able to take an alethiometer and the ethical calculus and prove that to the last significant digit, but so far as decent society is concerned, you’re still screwing around with simulations of how slavers get their jollies, and that suggests to many people’s heart and gut that there’s something distinctly creepy going on in your cranium, whatever the noetic mathematics might say about your mental stability.  Icky.

Or so says the last gasp of the “Wisdom of Squick”, a theory which they would treat with appropriate intellectual disdain in almost every other context.  But nobody’s perfect.

8 thoughts on “Trope-a-Day: Bondage Is Bad

  1. I’ve often thought that there is a hard kernel of “wisdom of squick” that is impossible to completely rationally bypass or eliminate. If one was to have a hypothetical mind with *zero* external a-rational motivators and avoidances, said mind would sit and do nothing at all, and have no ability to make any judgement or decision at all.

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    • I’d certainly agree with that in the case of a complete lack of such things – indeed, they’ve canonically run the experiment. (I described that in an old snippet which, comment-inspired, I’ve revised and posted as today’s fic-a-day, “The Four Unlaws”.)

      And certainly plenty of people have broken their minds quite thoroughly by such incautious uses of desire control technology!

      But I’m not sure that it can’t be effectively eliminated, or at least brought into accord with rational preferences; dealing only with the general case, they have made alterations to their motivation systems in such areas as deleting evolutionary race- and species- preference, having concluded that it was both unethical and unuseful, and removing fear of darkness as unuseful, and replacing it with caution around standard warning signs, and suchlike. Which are still a-rational motivators, but are _in accord with_ what reason would dictate under those circumstances.

      (In this particular case – well, the catch-22 with desire control is that you have to desire to alter your desires. The general consensus that xenophobia was bad was powerful enough to get that instinct put on the chopping block. This one, alas, still squicks too many people – who don’t feel bad about being so squicked, more to the point – to generate the same sort of consensus.)

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      • The *interesting* problem of your current desires regarding editing your desires to affect your future desires are somewhat explored in some of Greg Egan’s fiction. The one most on point and yet with the least insight is “Chaff”.

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  2. I also just realized an amusing difference between Imperial social squicks and contemporary Terran social squicks. Most contemporary human societies would be a significantly less willing, after thinking through the implications, of so completely deleting and changing xenophobia squicks. Ref “boldly coming” and some of the less (ahem) “socially acceptable” porn of some aspects of Furrys…

    You’ve mentioned just a bit how much it bugs other members of the Accord the apparent dissonance between how stuffily proper and yet at the same time how twisted and *perverse* the Imperial society is.

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  3. Pingback: Fear: the root of prejudice, blame, contempt, hatred, hysteria, phobia & paranoia « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

  4. Pingback: Odious Sovereign Debt | The Eldraeverse

  5. Pingback: Worldbuilding: Nonconsensual Robot Sex | The Eldraeverse

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