Inhuman Swill : Morality

Frothing at Santorum

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No politician more consistently makes me yell at my radio than Rick Santorum. Every time I hear him frothing at the ass mouth, I fly into an apoplectic rage which can only be vented by abusing the poor inanimate device that channeled his spew into my house. Now that he's come within a devil's whisker of winning the Iowa caucus, it's worth reminding ourselves that—just as we must remind ourselves that Newt Gingrich is crazy, and that Mitt Romney is a shapeshifter—that Rick Santorum is evil.

I'll say it again. Santorum is evil.

It's not just his determination to further cripple America's technological future by degrading our science curricula with more creationism. It's his insistence that morality can only be learned from an ancient, irrelevant book, and that rational thought can only lead us into disaster. It's the dangerous belief that we can do whatever we damn well please to the planet and it's all fine because Jesus will be coming soon anyway to establish his kingdom and roll the earth up like a happy scroll, so we may as well just go ahead and enshrine our Christian extremism in the Constitution.

And it's not just his frothing, kneejerk hatred of homosexuality. It's his desire to use America's irrational fear of gay sex to wedge his way into your home and your bedroom, to legislate against any type of consensual sex that makes him uncomfortable and even to roll back your right to contraception.

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Memo to Rick Santorum

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Fuck you, you dissembling fuck. I heard you this morning on Morning Edition just as I was leaving for work, bloviating about how the reason the question of where our species came from is important is because if it was just random chance then there's no necessity for morality. Let me tell you, sir, that the atheists and evolutionists—not necessarily equivalent sets, mind you—I know have more morality in their fingernail trimmings than you have anywhere within a ten-meter radius of your wizened little heart. Small-minded, bigoted twits like you may not be able to envision a reason to treat each other well absent some authoritarian patriarch in the sky, but that's only because you can't even bring yourself to treat others well after your professed pal J.C. set the example. Compassion and tolerance are so much more important when life on this tiny rock is the only life we'll ever have, but your only idea of compassion is to force the 14-year-old girls you've rendered ignorant into bringing more hungry, poverty-stricken babies into the world, and your only idea of tolerance is to slither your way into one of the most powerful posts in American government and then whinge endlessly about how so-called Christians like you aren't allowed a place in the public discourse. I may not believe in God, but I do believe in evil, and you're its simpering mug. Eat primordial soup and die, but I mean that in only the most compassionate way. Fucker.

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Via Paul Melko by way of David Moles, I encountered this morning a fascinating essay by SF writer and scholar John Kessel exploring and repudiating the morality of intention that underpins Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and attempting to explain the book's enduring popularity.

It's a long essay, and quite worth reading if you have any interest in morality and fiction, but here's a distillation:

The number of times this scenario of unjustified attack and savage retaliation is repeated, not just in Ender's Game but in other of Card's stories and novels, suggests that it falls close to the heart of his vision of moral action in the world.... The same destructive act that would condemn a bad person, when performed by a good person, does not implicate the actor, and in fact may be read as a sign of that person's virtue....

This, I fear, is the appeal of Ender's Game: it models this scenario precisely and absolves the child of any doubt that his actions in response to such treatment are questionable. It offers revenge without guilt. If you ever as a child felt unloved, if you ever feared that at some level you might deserve any abuse you suffered, Ender's story tells you that you do not. In your soul, you are good. You are specially gifted, and better than anyone else. Your mistreatment is the evidence of your gifts. You are morally superior. Your turn will come, and then you may severely punish others, yet remain blameless. You are the hero....

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