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Q 10-23-2006 05:24 PM

Accountability
 
This thread is a response to a couple of posts in the "Gay Marriage" thread that stated that people can not control their impulses and therefore should not be held accountable for their actions. When I asked if this was just an excuse for poor self-control, the answer was "no."

I think that this train of thought is extremely dangerous. If it is true, then people should not be held responsible for anything that they do, up to and including murder, the very idea of which is RIDICULOUS. People have to be held accountable for their actions in a civilized society for any law to be effective. Without accountability there might as well be no government at all, and while that may seem appealing to myself and others on some levels it's unrealistic in the extreme. Any thoughts, anyone?

edlib 10-23-2006 08:47 PM

I'm not sure if that's really the way anybody meant it. I think what was meant in that particular case was if you can control your libidinous impulses in relation to others? (I.E.: Do you have any conscious control over who you find attractive sexually? For the record I know I don't.)

If you are heterosexual you are often undeniably attracted to many members of the opposite sex. Do you always have sex with everyone you find desirable? No, of course not. (Well, that doesn't stop some folks from trying...) But you are attracted to them sexually. I have long tried to find a way to master this impulse with my higher mind, but have yet to conquer my libido in any significant way.

The same thing is exactly true of folks who are homosexual: just with members of the same gender. Can they control the impulse to be attracted sexually to other folks of the same gender. I doubt it. No more than I can control my eye for the ladies anyway.
Do they always have to act on this impulse? Again: No, of course not. And in the case of those who want to get married who are already in a long term monogamous relationship, that's pretty much the last thing they want. I don't see why we should think that monogamous gays are any less committed to fulfilling the contract of a long-term relationship any less than heteros.

However: Should gays never act on their libido just because society and religion have deemed it "wrong" and "icky"?
I don't think that's fair.

I don't pursue every woman I'm attracted to,.. but I sure as hell don't want anyone telling me to NEVER go after any one because somebody else has deemed it a "sin." I don't see why I should have to deny all my natural instincts and impulses to meet somebody else's strict narrow moral viewpoint and personal hangups about sex.

And I don't see how I can expect someone attracted to members of their own gender to do the same.

If it's fair for me to follow my nature in terms of romance... who am I to say that somebody else is displaying a lack of self-control if they do the same?

But that's simply not the same as saying that we are allowing folks off the hook for committing murder. While there are some people with severe mental illnesses that probably don't allow them the same distinction between right and wrong in terms of violence towards others, they are the rare exception.
Most people raised in our society have been taught the universally accepted societal contract that killing someone else is wrong in all but a few special cases, and are capable of making those distinctions.

Q 10-23-2006 09:08 PM

This is what was said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TK-8252
People can't control their impulses. At least not many of them. Just look at how many teenage girls are pregnant, how many people cheat on their spouse, how many people are ****ing fat as ****, and you'll come to the same conclusion.

To which I asked:
Are you sure that those examples aren't due to an utter lack of personal discipline and self-control? The same could be said about substance abuse or even pedophilia. Too bad the legal system doesn't agree. Truthfully, I can't agree with that either, even though I have rotten self-control.

To which Dagobahn Eagle replied:
No.

Homosexuality was not addresed in the exchange. :)

edlib 10-23-2006 10:15 PM

Hmmm... OK.

This is how I slice it, then:
(This is all just my personal opinion on these specific examples given.)

Teenage girls: The sex drive hormones that flood your system at that age are pretty powerful, and life experiences and rational judgements are lacking. People at that age are more likely to act on the impulses without fully thinking about the consequences of their actions.
Are they responsible for their actions? Yes... BUT: If nobody has ever bothered to educate them fully about having sex, the consequences, and ways to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy before those hormones and drives fully kick in, I would say they aren't fully responsible: The adults in their lives are to be held equally responsible for the consequences.

Cheating spouses: They entered into a contract with another fully aware of what that entailed: Again, they aren't responsible for their attractions to other people outside the marriage bond, but they are responsible for acting on any attraction... unless pushed away and into that action by the behaviour of their partner. If some poor schlub's wife has completely shut him off from sex for years, then I find it really difficult to blame him for being tempted outside the marriage. They both share the responsibility in my opinion in that type of case.

Fat People: As someone who clearly qualifies as among the overweight part of the population by almost any standard, I don't feel I'm lacking that much in self-control. There are some extenuating circumstances. I could clearly do more and do better to try to control it. But I do have to eat everyday,.. and sometimes choices are limited. So is the time to exercise properly.
With the number of overweight and obese people in this country (as well as the world as a whole...) rising almost exponentially every year, I think there may be a bit more going on there than just a lack of any self control among all those folks. In some, perhaps many cases it may be true... but not every one.
We clearly didn't evolve (or weren't so created, if you prefer...) to deal with the ready availability of foods of caloric excess we have available today,.. or the increasingly sedentary lifestyle modern civilization has rapidly dropped most of us into.

Substance abuse: If someone has been properly educated against the dangers of addiction and getting involved in illegal drugs to begin with, then they are responsible for for whatever happens from that point on. But if some kid is left totally ignorant by their parents and school system, gets involved out of peer pressures, and gets sucked into the downward spiral of addiction's grip, it's hard to blame them for everything that happens. There is also physiological dependency with addiction that is nearly impossible to break by strength of will alone.
Frankly, I blame the parents more, for not being more vigilant and involved in their kid's life. Again, if you are talking about someone young, the rational judgement system isn't fully developed yet... and the idea that you are immortal and that "It will never happen to me..." is still in full effect.
That's something that needs to be taken into account.

Pedophilia: I really can't talk to this one as to whether this is something that falls under self-control or not, as the root causes seem incredibly complex. It seems to me most people guilty of this are found to be psychologically damaged by suffering the exact same abuses when they were children. Can someone psychologically damaged by early trauma of that sort be held to the exact same standards as someone who wasn't? I'm not sure...
That doesn't mean these people shouldn't be locked away from the public for the greater good when they are discovered. I'm not sure any efforts currently exist to get people with this predilection to voluntarily come forward and accept treatment in a non-hostile, non-judgemental way.
The best thing would be to try to identify the kids who have already suffered this kind of abuse when they are still young are try to undo the damage and fix their warped worldview before they grow up and develop a sex drive and start preying on children themselves.

Q 10-24-2006 06:25 AM

Hey, thanks for the insight, edlib. :) Since you were honest about your weight, I'll admit that I have had a substance abuse problem. Nothing major, I just had an affinity for the female flowers of a certain plant for about ten years. Haven't smoked it in a year, though. And my trippin' days ended way before that. That's the reason why I specified substance abuse.

Dagobahn Eagle 10-24-2006 07:55 AM

Quote:

To which Dagobahn Eagle replied:
No.
I thought you meant homosexuality. Sorry, didn't read the thread properly.

Q 10-24-2006 03:41 PM

To clarify on that: No, I don't think that homsexuals can help feeling attracted to members of the same sex any more than I can help feeling attracted to members of the opposite sex. :)

Jae Onasi 10-24-2006 06:30 PM

Weight issues can easily be more than a self-control issue. Some people use food as a sort of legal self-medication that doesn't have the same social/legal issues as alcoholism or other substance abuse.
Others are on medications that promote weight gain. Prednisone (especially in high doses), some diabetes medications, some antidepressants, and a host of other medications can cause weight gain.

Totenkopf 10-30-2006 10:58 PM

We are all accountable for our actions, mitagating circumstances notwithstanding. Everything we do or say is a choice made by ourselves. I suspect the problem isn't merely accountability (except for those that wish to blame everyone else for their problems) but the question of punishment re said actions. If we could all get through life w/out being penalized for our choices (anything from benign criticism to death), I doubt anyone would get excited about the question.


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