Ethnographical Questionnaire: XII. Questions of Sex

This is actually something I finished and published on an old, non-dedicated blog some time ago (October 2010) concerning this particular piece of my worldbuilding, and for the sake of completeness – and because it ties into some of those issues and attitudes mentioned under Blue and Orange Morality – I’m reprinting it now here so that my worldbuilding category will be properly representative.


So, I’ve recently been working on answering the “Ethnographical Questionnaire” set of worldbuilding questions for my conculture – not quite this version, but another version by the same person, I think – in the interest of, by so doing, expanding on all sorts of areas and possible unconsidered lacunae in my current imaginings.

And since I know at least some of my current readers basically follow along just for the worldbuilding snippets, and the rest of the stuff I post here be damned, I thought I’d share each section with y’all as I got it done.

As it happens, the first of the sections which actually is complete – in the sense that every question in it is answered, not just some here and there, is section XII: Questions of Sex.  So if you’d like to know more than you knew there was to know, and for that matter probably more than I knew there was to know, about sexual mores in the Empire of the Star, well then, read on…


How does your society define incest?

Incest is defined in two ways; or rather, there are effectively two separate concepts both covered by the same English word, in translation.

The first is reproductive incest, which is a matter of genetic hazard.  Once genetic technology became available, technically it’s no longer even a matter of consanguinity – instead of concerning itself with reproduction of people closely enough related to probably cause bad recessive genes to pop up, it concerns itself with any reproductive act that could cause bad recessives to pop up, even if the people in question are entirely unrelated.  It is considered a de facto crime against the child resulting, by causing or risking its exposure to, genetic disease, and is punished accordingly.

The second, intergenerational incest, addresses matters of dubious consent due to familial authority issues.  Under these rules, incest as defined as sex with ancestors (or siblings of ancestors) or descendants (or sibling’s descendants) two or fewer generations away from you; i.e., parents, uncles and aunts, grandparents, granduncles and grandaunts, children, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, grandnephews, and grandnieces.  Stepchildren and adoptive children are considered as blood relatives for the purpose of this calculation.

Sexual relations with more distant generations, even in the line of descent, is not considered intergenerational incest due to the nugatory familial authority exercised at that generational distance, and the practical difficulties posed by the fact that, in a society of immortals, anyone who lives long enough will be related to just about everyone.

Note that by these incest rules, sibling/sibling relationships are permitted provided that all involved are consenting competent adults.  While extremely rare, certainly unconventional, and likely to draw social… curiosity, albeit not condemnation, in the absence of reproductive considerations, there is no compelling public interest in its prohibition.

[How does your society define] Rape? How do people react to these?

Imperial law and custom defines rape as any sexual activity involving another person without their consent, or when consent has been gained through means coercive (including but not limited to duress, and also including pharmacological and other technological coercive devices) or fraudulent.  Consent may be given or withdrawn at any time; there is no non-terminable advance consent (“unlimited right of conjugation”) possible under Imperial law.

As for how people react: well, the penalty for rape under Imperial law is death.  Sometimes, the courts even get to apply this penalty; usually, when it’s reported after the fact and prosecuted as the result of an investigation.  Those caught in the commission of the crime or in hot pursuit thereafter rarely survive the experience; which tells you the public view of things quite definitively, I should think.

(And just to make it completely clear, we’re not just talking about strangers in dark alleys, here.  Anyone unwise enough to believe that they’re safely surrounded by friends, fraternity brothers, or some such is just begging to have a short lesson in the consequences of betrayal added to the lynching which shortly will ensue.)

What secret vice is believed to be widely practiced? What secret vice actually is practiced?

It’s hard to really pin down something as a secret vice.  Seriously.  Again, it’s because this is such a very open society – and most professional procurers of one vice or another are as aware of the value of marketing as any other entrepreneurs, so most vices have fairly public proponents.

Well, I suppose that most people don’t admit to their sexual vices, but that’s not due to shame – that’s because ladies and gentlemen of quality (Eldraeic daryteir) don’t blether on about their sex lives or other intimacies in public, or even group, settings, for reasons that amount to showing a decent amount of respect for a partner’s privacy.  But it’s not like you won’t find information on them everywhere from Introduction to Practical Hedonics (okay, maybe Intermediate Hedonics) to Xenophilia for Beginners.

What sexual habits are widely believed common among foreigners?

Well, many less cosmopolitan citizens are of the opinion that since so much of the rest of the Galaxy is “a hotbed of strutting would-be authoritarians and deluded self-abnegating submissives eager to sell their precious sophont rights for a handful of shiny beads and some dubious promises” – to indulge briefly in stereotyping of rather doubtful quality – then they’re probably bringing their thoroughly nauseating ideas about dominance and coercion to bed, too, and just… ewww.

They are, however, and fortunately for foreign relations in general, aware that even acknowledged jackboot-analog-wearing discipline addicts still find overt coercion in this area pretty damned icky, though.  At least in public.

How do people react to homosexuality? Is it frowned on? Encouraged?

Pretty much the same way they do to heterosexuality, or bisexuality, or asexuality, or xenosexuality (incidentally, for anyone pondering mechanics at this point – and to borrow a note from a Spider Robinson book – every sophont species has fingers, tentacles, or some other sort of manipulators; anything else is gravy) for that matter.  Love’s a funny thing, and not all that common in this universe.  When the lightning strikes, don’t let go of it.  Mere bodily issues can be sorted out later.

(And, hey, these days when the exowomb and high biotechnology have solved the reproduction problem, uploading/downloading has made bodily gender the next best thing to a fashion choice, and psychedesign can rewrite your sexuality any time you want if your desires don’t match up neatly with your affections, then really, not only are the last qualms of the heir-desiring dealt with, but the whole question has almost been reduced to meaninglessness.)

Or, to put it another way: Their gods never said no.

Are premarital sexual relations allowed? Extramarital?
Is sex confined to marriage? Or, is it supposed to be?

Premarital, yes.  There is a notable societal preference that sex should take place within some kind of emotional relationship, however, but not necessarily marital, or even cohabitatory.  Imperial social custom provides for a number of semi-formal degrees of such things, scaling all the way down to delesessqámél, which can be approximated as but not precisely translated as “friends-with-benefits”, provided that the friends in this case actually do care about each other, even if not to the extent of love.

“Hooking up” and the one-night stand, however, are socially disfavored, not so much as a matter of morality, but as a matter of bad taste [and, yes, that applies to both sexes equally] (although a reasonable case could be made that anything called out by the Names, Numbers, and Novas as bad taste is probably in an even worse social position that something called out by the moral mavens).  There’s also an aspect of pity involved: much as a doughnut lover might have for someone who insists on only eating day-old doughnuts with the powdered sugar scraped off.  Sure, they can enjoy doughnuts that way, but one can’t help but feel they’re missing a large part of the point of the exercise.

As for extramarital, well, that depends entirely on the wording of the marital contract in question.  Virtually all of them mandate exclusivity, it is fair to say, whether dyadic (again, the majority) or polyadic.  To explain this, recall that the highly self-willed eldrae weren’t born a species of calm, serene, honor-bound ur-logicians; they achieved it through centuries of bloody strife and trying to put an end to same.  Promises of exclusivity secured on a daryteir’s iron-clad word serve to prevent society from tearing itself into shreds in fits of jealous rage (also, note, the property of no particular sex), and thus the cultural tradition is established and maintained.  Frankly, you’re much more likely to see an option to add a member to a polyad – or convert a dyad to a polyad – by mutual agreement in a marital contract than an “open-relationship” clause.  (Not that those are strictly necessary; you could just mutually agree to recontract, but some people like to put these things out there explicitly.)

That said, every probability curve has its ends, and so there probably are a few open-relationship contracts out there.  They may not have all that much luck finding extramarital partners in practice – since, well, everyone knows about the fit-of-jealous-rage thing, and even if someone claims to have set all such things aside, one may well prefer Not to Taunt – but there’s no ethical or social injunction against them.  Remember, the sin in adultery is the contract-breaking/betrayal, not the having of the sex.

How is adultery defined? What (if any) is the punishment? Who decides?

Adultery, sayeth Codex of Imperial Law, 114th ed., is defined as breach of contract, specifically, breach of a marital contract.  This is both broader and narrower than the definition here, inasmuch as it does cover non-sexual infidelities which our definition of adultery does not, if they’re specified, and it does not cover sexual infidelities unless exclusive rights of conjugation were specified in the marital contract as written.

As for punishment, that is a matter for the default law of contract, if not explicitly specified, and if explicitly specified, it’s determined to the marital contract as written.  It should be noted that the Imperial law of contracts doesn’t place any cap or limit on penalty clauses (since freedom of contract is a matter of public policy), so punishments can be quite severe; nonetheless, if you promise to forfeit it and still can’t keep it in your pants, well then, no-one can say you didn’t set yourself up for that, eh?

Is prostitution legal? How are prostitutes viewed? Is this accurate?

Well, it’s legal.  Just about everything that doesn’t involve coercion is, after all.  However, it never really caught on en masse, and I’ll give you the simplest reason for that: telempathy.  You tell me how well your sex drive works while basking in the cold glow of naked commercialism, and imagine just how good the market is for said service, except among the insignificant number of people who have that particular kink.

What is the greatest sexual taboo?

Coercion.  Which, yes, in its most obvious form is rape, but that may well not count as a sexual taboo, simply because it is a sexual crime, which is a whole other order of magnitude.  However, in taboo terms, the generalized taboo on coercion spills over onto sadomasochism and dominance/submission – while legally and ethically acceptable when consensual, they steer too close to the forbidden waters to be socially acceptable (in, for example, much the same way as indentured service contracts, only to an even greater extent, as more personal).

(While it might be thought that the opprobrium of coercionism would, in such cases, attach itself principally to the dominant partner, there is a matching opprobrium attached to willful submission to force, lack of the valxíjir proper to a free citizen, etc., that attaches to the voluntarily submissive.  Recall, please, that this is a culture which considers even the relatively small loss of autonomy inherent in the time-sale employment common elsewhere to be inadequate to truly support a freeman’s dignities.)

What does this society mean by the word “virgin” and how important is it?

It’s a medical term of art meaning ‘someone who has not yet had sex’, and unless you’re a doctor specializing in one of the related fields or possibly a lawyer involved in one of a rare type of lawsuit, it’s probably not of any great importance to you.

What constitutes aberrant sexual behavior?

As a general rule, “aberrant” sexual behavior falls into one of these four categories, in decreasing order:

  • Coercionism (not so much aberrant as Just Plain Evil)
  • Anything that, while it may be consensual, causes actual harm to someone.
  • Anything that, while it may be consensual, all parties involved aren’t enjoying.
  • Bedpost-notching without emotional involvement.
  • Non-consensual cession of privacy, or as one might put it without the legal jargon, “frightening the horses”.  Also covered here might be ungentlemanly sexual chit-chat that violates one’s partner’s reasonable expectation of privacy in their affairs, but that’s more a social deficiency than a sexual aberration.

Are there any cultural or religious strictures, norms or taboos that specifically address sexual conduct?

On the religious side, Cálíäh, eikone of desire, encourages, well, desire.  Although no more specifically for sex than for anything else.  Cinníäs the Reveler, eikone of hedonism (among other things), and Édaen, eikone of joy and recreation, want you to enjoy yourself – or more accurately, want a good time to be had by all.  Éjavóné, eikone of vengeance and protection, has some really harsh things to say about anything and everything not strictly consensual and, if relevant, intracontractual.  Lanáraé, eikone of romantic love (among other things), and the Lover Gods want you to find the right person to have it with. Medáríäh, eikone of fertility, industry, production, and therefore reproductive sex, wants you to make people with it.  Rúnel, eikone of etiquette and civilization, wants you to respect each other in the morning.  Véválíäh, eikone of hearth and home, wants couples to enjoy each other.  And Ithával, eikone of awesomeness, wants you to be really good at it.

Culturally – well, see the rest of these answers.

Are there secular laws that control or restrict sexual behavior?

There are laws against:

  • rape (no consent, or consent gained through coercive or fraudulent means);
  • bestiality (defined as sex with non-sophonts, including non-sophont intelligent machines; no capacity for consent);
  • necrophilia (again, no consent or capacity for same, although a case might be made if they bequeathed you their body specifically for the purpose, but fortunately no-one’s brought that particularly extremely gross case up before the Curia yet);
  • sex with currently unoccupied bioshells (not without consent of property owner, and eww);
  • sex with minors (i.e. not age-based, but all people who don’t meet the IQSC requirements; no capacity for competent consent);
  • reproductive incest (genetic hazard, and defined in terms of probability of same); and
  • intergenerational incest (i.e., sex with ancestors or descendants two or fewer generations away from you, due to familial authority issues.  And, well, genetic hazard, but that’s already covered).

Apart from that, so long as you’re consenting competent sophonts, go for it!

(Oh, except in the street, or other public volume not intended for the purpose.  Sorry.  It’s kind of distracting.  Remember, kids, the property line is your friend.  Addendum: vehicle hulls count as property lines, but please, tint the windows.)

At what age is it considered normal to engage in sex? Are there taboos against sex with children?

It’s not so much a matter of age, except by default.  Specifically, like all matters of majority and competence, your competence to engage in sex – which is one of the extremely short list of competences actually regulated by law – is determined not by age, but by the sufficiency of your self-signed (which is to say, held and paid for in your own right) tort insurance to cover the potential consequences.  Anyone holding this minimal quota of tort insurance is legally and socially empowered to have all the sex they want, provided that anyone else involved also does.

In practice, most people achieve their IQSC (Insurance Quota for Sexual Capacity) sometime in late adolescence.

Should sex be a one-to-one experience? Or are groups allowed?

There is no particular moral freighting either way, per se.  Of course, what’s already been said above on the topic of exclusivity rather settles the matter for dyads, and the social disfavoring of “hook-ups”, etc., answers the question for the casual orgy.  Polyadic relationships, or at least the smaller ones where the logistics don’t become impractical, do prefer to find ways to involve everyone, though.  It’s just plain nicer that way.

Not Quite a Trope-a-Day: Blue and Orange Morality

I’m posting this one out of order, mostly because I’m finding more and more coming up in the list that reference it – the psychological differences between the eldrae, and indeed the Imperial, on the street and the humanity we’re used to and their effects on their sense of ethics is something that’s rather significant in the ongoing series of things. So here the main examples of this are, and intelligent commentary is welcomed!

Blue and Orange Morality: Well, sure, from their own point of view morality – or at least ethics – is pretty much Black and White Morality, but then, here, we’re looking at these things from a human perspective, at which point it looks very much more blue – or orange – than white.

Which is to say that – even aside from the issue of incomprehensibility of transsophont and postsophont minds to regular old baselines, or of the lack of transparency of thousand-year or ten-thousand-year plans to people who lack the relevant time horizon – it is a morality very much suited for people who are:

Intensely propertarian (coválír).  For the eldrae, a soph’s property is perceived very much as an extension of himself; “my house”, “my car”, or “my book” are as much a part of “me” as “my hand” is.  Property ethics, property law, and the appropriate delicacy a chap should observe around other people’s property follow appropriately.  You never appropriate or use someone else’s property, no matter how casually or trivially, without their consent, upon which you may never presume.

As a corollary to this, as a propertarian culture, they are comfortable assigning and quantizing value (not necessarily in monetary terms, since money is, after all, merely the quantum of exchange-value, which is a subset of value; and some values may invoke transfinite terms) even to intangibles and abstractions.  (Which is not to say that it despises sentiments and principles, or is cynical about non-material things; it merely requires that its adherents understand their own values in these areas.)  Nor do they devalue trade in the same way as human cultures, historical and present, do; entrepreneurship is very highly regarded.

(To give some other examples: In this paradigm, relationships, love included, are seen as an exchange of values.  To steal some text for this example from elsewhere, this means that in their idiom, “How much is your love worth?” is a strict cognate for “How much do you love me?” And, of course, the entire series of human romantic ideals about the pure and romantic nature of loving in spite of one’s partner’s lack of values, the more so the more they lack any discernible excellences, and suchlike, are nothing but one big does not compute.

Our materialism requires a small pile of footnoted background to make sense, inasmuch as our definition (preferring material objects of value to intangible objects which are somehow above value) makes no sense whatsoever in a paradigm in which everything has a value.

And while I suspect that the in-world translators wouldn’t actually be programmed this way, the purpose of language being communication and all, I invoke Artistic License to point out that many words have different value judgments attached to them.  Greed, for instance, still fundamentally the rapacious pursuit of values (such as wealth, status, and power), but is both (a) readily applicable to the pursuit of non-material values, and (b) an unambiguously positive quality.  Yes, Greed Is Good.  (Of course, greed is also often negentropic – see below.)  And, conversely, altruism is definitely not a compliment.)

Minds “vast and cool and unsympathetic”, to purloin a phrase.  While not a natural attribute – if anything, the state of nature was originally quite the opposite – talcoríëf, literally cold-mindedness, but implying rationality and self-mastery, is highly prized.  Emotions are nothing more than input data, possibly erroneous, to the computer of the mind.  Input informs the output, it does not control it.  One who cannot properly master their passions in all circumstances is at best temporarily incompetent and at worst a danger to everyone around them.

(And yes, by Imperial standards, Earth’s emotionally logohorreic societies desperately need to get in touch with their rational sides.  Which is what they’d tell you if they were being polite, and comments about “ranting hysteria” therefore aren’t in play.)

Profoundly individualistic.  While not so to the ultimate extent of the rijzh (whose predatory nature makes it almost impossible for them to associate) or the járaph (whose solipsism is such that they do not recognize the existence of not-self) – they can and do cooperate and form organizations and societies, which those species cannot – personal and abstract liberty is one of their most cherished values, up there with self-integrity.  Depriving someone of their ability to choose is the single worst sin in their moral system (for example, even criminals are offered the choice to die as themselves rather than submit to correction, but they would never consider using prison as a punishment).

This also, obviously, means that they don’t care much for peer pressure or social consensus, and would find humans’ instinctive habit of defining moral as normal and normal as majoritarian good for a laugh, although quite possibly a got-to-laugh-not-to-weep one.  An eldrae will fight any group, if not indeed the whole of society, uphill to prove a point, if he believes that it’s right, and society would be rather disappointed if he didn’t.

(The social effects are fairly obvious – after all, it’s no guess that people like this find it a considerable pleasure to watch slavers and tyrants – by their admittedly generous definition – receive their just desserts, and an even greater pleasure to make that happen.  One that is worth noting is with regard to employment; employment as we know it is practically nonexistent – not because it actually violates the strict moral precept, but just because selling off chunks of your time in which you will work under orders, vis-à-vis contracting to perform a particular task at your own will, is insufficiently dignified for a free man.)

Preoccupied with mélith – balance and obligation.  As obligation, this is generally quite clear; pacta sunt servanda is the rule of society, and I Gave My Word is in full play.  Promissory statements have the force of contract law – indeed, in the Empire, promissory statements are the basis of contract law, hence the general term oath-contract.  (They do warn people about this at port of entry, clearly and distinctly.)  And while, being exceptionally rational, they are careful to hedge appropriately and are exquisitely good at Exact Words when necessary, all the Galaxy knows that a promise from or a deal with an Imperial is something you can take to the bank.  Always.  Whatever it is, and whatever your relationship is, and however much of an utter bastard he might be in other respects.

(And, socially, you receive more credit for fulfilling an obligation than for doing something you aren’t obliged to do, because as all know, “obligations met are the foundation of civilization”.)

As balance, this manifests as a need for balanced exchange.  It doesn’t particularly affect trade – by definition, any transaction in a free market is a balanced exchange, but in everything outside the markets… well, a favor for a favor is the rule, and while it might not be written down, any Imperial has a very good idea of exactly to whom he owes favors, and from whom he is owed them.  And there is a large part of the below-mentioned complex etiquette that deals with the giving, receiving, and prestation of such things.

(Of course, “a slight for a slight” is the flipside of “a favor for a favor”, but it’s one less talked about.  Relatedly, consider the distinct preference for “clemency” over “mercy” in their culture – which does create a favor-debt.

This also defines the nature of charity in this paradigm; leaving aside for a moment those direct-action organizations which do what they do simply because it fulfills their valxíjir or estxíjir – for which see below – and therefore receive internal balancing rewards, it tends to take the form of investment, or venture altruism.  Your typical venture altruist will invest in improving someone’s life and capacities in expectation of a return on investment, contractual and/or patron-client style.

Indeed, it has to be that way, because altruism, like parasitism, is an unbalanced and therefore immoral exchange.  By definition, therefore, anyone who would receive it is insufficiently moral to merit it.)

Driven, obsessive, or, if you like, bloody stubborn.  Whether classified as valxíjir, the individual form – which you could approximately translate as uniqueness, excellence, will to power, or forcible impression of self onto the universe – or estxíjir, the cooperative form – which you could approximately translate as wyrd, destiny, devotion-to-ideals, or dharma – or simply as qalasír, “the driving energies of the individual”, the eldrae tend to acquire a purpose, a loyalty, an interest, a focus, and however trivial the matter may seem, take it to the limit and if possible beyond.  Sometimes this is epic.  Sometimes this intense focus turns on (relatively) trivial things.  But for the eldrae, at least, and quite commonly for people who get caught up in it, there is no escaping the demands of qalasír… and “my qalasír required it of me” is an often-unquestionable and as often acceptable answer as to why one happened to do anything in particular.

(Even their word for dilettante is probably closer to polymath, in practical meaning.)

One of its most notable forms, of course, is…

FOR SCIENCE!  Yes, very much for science.  And with a sense of ethics that – these days, renegades excepted – pretty much manages to encompass informed consent, sophont/prosophont rights and externality, but which considers considerations of Potential Applications, social consequences, humanity(-analogs), or squick, to be the sort of pathetic mewlings one expects to hear from the WEAK, the INFIRM of PURPOSE, the too COWARDLY to FACE the FUTURE!  FOOLS!!  You DARE to stand in the WAY of PROGRESS!!! I’LL SHOW YOU, SHOW YOU ALL!!!!

Ahem.  We’ll continue when our narrator returns from The Madness Place.

(Incidentally, much the same applies in the alternative forms For Art!, For Craft!, For Engineering! and For The Humanities!)

Opposed to entropy in all its forms.  Obviously, as natural immortals, that includes death as the most obvious and also most blindingly wasteful form (hence the missionary groups in favor of spreading said immortality); but includes ideological opposition to chaos (vis-à-vis emergent order), loss of information, disease, biosphere loss, waste, damage, and destruction in general.  And they take their negentropy seriouslyRecycling is morally laudable, as a way in which the old is used to produce the new, and unlike most environmentalist interpretations, you can consume vast quantities of energy to produce aesthetic effects, and so forth, and terraforming and the artificialization or use of nature is all perfectly acceptable…

…but if you aren’t offended by carelessness, guilty at accidentally dropping glassware or scraping things in passing, appalled by neglected maintenance, and morally outraged by concepts like inbuilt obsolescence, you’re doing it wrong.  (To use a more active example, if terrorists flying loaded airplanes into occupied buildings with a death toll in the thousands sends us to war with controversy and protest, then contrastingly, in their paradigm, people flying completely empty airplanes into likewise empty buildings with a death and injury count of zero sophonts would be quite adequate to label said group a bunch of irredeemable entropy-cultists in dire need of killing in the public zeitgeist, with little fear of contradiction.  Adding the death toll back in, of course, would only makes it more so.)

And then there is also teir, which while glossed “honor” and in fact terrifyingly idealistic, has a lot more to do with self-integrity, intellectual integrity, contractual integrity, and the proper ways to go about all the other aspects of morality mentioned herein than it does with many of the things Terrans would ascribe that name to: inasmuch as it avoids gender-imbalanced chivalry (Eldraeic culture has always been pretty gender-egalitarian), says almost nothing about sexuality, deplores martyrdom, while it does preach courage is also appallingly Combat Pragmatic (they would agree with Mass Effect’s salarians about the stupidity/insanity of declarations of war/telling your enemies that you’re about to attack them, for example; and consider assassination one of the best methods of fighting, which ought to be unfair, or you’re doing it wrong), and is absolutely not ever to be confused with face (i.e., does not depend on what other people think of you; that’s reputation, or dignitas, which may be  important, but is (a) not relevant to one’s honor, and (b) distinctly subordinate to it, in that one should always throw it away to preserve one’s honor; see also Who You Are In The Dark) or thar (bloody-handed primitivism).

Lovers of excellence, in all its forms.  Thus, pride is a virtue, as long as it can be justified, and humility is very much not.  And the proprietary outright sneer at those who do not strive to shine (note the distinction, here, encapsulated in the word strive) and their “dullist” apologists is an expression of morality.

Self-consciously civilized; Eldraeic language, etiquette, social rituals, and civilization in general is baroque, complex, grandiose, and exceedingly polite, even to non-sophont machinery – including the careful separation of social relations from each other, when different ones exist between the same individuals – in at least a semi-deliberate attempt to cultivate, reinforce, and demonstrate local notions of the civilized virtues, and thoroughly repress any atavistic impulses that might try to crash the party.  (After so much genetic and memetic engineering and self-reinforcement, this is probably unnecessary, but for the same reasons, inevitable.)  Besides, it’s beautiful – and beauty, too, is an expression/symbol of positive morality.

(Which is why cacophiles also end up in the long, long list of barbarians whom society disapproves of.)