Monday, 22 April 2013

An Ethics of Consent

Moral relativism is so passe.  People take it as a worn-out given.  Red truth, blue truth, my truth, your truth.  Yes, we all know that morals are clearly subjective, and it is a heinous thing indeed to impose your morals on someone else.  That’s old hat.
Time for a new absolute ethic.  Enter an Ethic of Consent.
Moral relativism gives no real guidance for how to behave.  Or if it did, well, nihilism would be a real thing.  But most people don’t really like that.  After all, the ending of Lord of the Flies was kind of a bummer.
So, ironically, while nominally clinging to the vestiges of relativism, most young moderns have latched onto a trendy new absolute doctrine by which to order their lives:  If all parties agree, then it’s right.  If not, it’s wrong.  Consent rules supreme.
This ethic is everywhere.  The other day, I ran into this poster stapled onto a lamp post near the Princeton University Chapel:
Kink Positivity
Yep.  That’s the modern sexual ethic for you.  So long as it’s consensual (and not an immediate threat to your life), it’s good, healthy, and dignified.  When a man dressed up as a pink Power Ranger flagellates a black-spandex-clad woman consensually shackled to a bedpost, clearly the health and human dignity of both are thoroughly edified.  Yes, this is where the Ethic of Consent can lead.

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