Archive for October, 2011

SoCal Objectivists Second Meeting

by Jason Stotts

I’m happy to report that the second meeting of the SoCal Objectivists on Saturday night was a great success!  We had 13 people and a lively discussion.

I want to thank Don Watkins for coming and presenting a very good lecture primarily on Ethics, with some Politics thrown in.  I also want to thank all of our new members.  It was nice meeting each of you and I look forward to seeing you at future meetings.

I encourage everyone to email us your feedback about how you think things went in terms of the lecture itself, the venue, announcements, ease of RSVP’ing, and anything you think we should know.  We’re working hard to get SCO going and any feedback you can give is appreciated.  You can email either Earl [Earl.Parson(at)gmail.com] or me [Jason(at)JasonStotts.com].

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 12th in the OC area.  We need to find an acceptable venue before we can host down there, so you OC people who want a meeting in your area, help us out finding a good venue.  For details about what we look for, please email us.

We’re working on putting together the calendar for 2012 now.  If you’re interested in presenting a lecture to the SoCal Objectivists, please drop us a line with the subject and a short description.

SoCal Objectivists is taking off!  If you’re in the area, please join us for great times and rousing discussions.

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Little Poundcake

by Jason Stotts

Hilarious, but terrifying to children.

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Dan Savage on STI’s

by Jason Stotts

I’m a big fan of Dan Savage’s podcast “Savage Love.”  While there are some things I find distasteful, he is a staunch democrat and very socialist leaning, on sexual issues we largely agree.  Even though we have differences, I think there is great value in his podcast and I recommend that people interested in good practical advice about love and sex check him out.

Recently he did a podcast (#256) about STD/STI’s with Dr. Anna Kaminski, one of the medical directors from Planned Parenthood. They took an objective look at the risk and dangers of many STI’s and they did it without the sort of moral hysteria that is all too common when people talk about these issues.  Indeed, I think that all too many people think of STI’s as a punishment for a moral failing instead of thinking of them as simply a medical issue.  Consider that we think of oral herpes as just “cold sores” and really no big deal, but we think of genital herpes as a disaster, the end of one’s sex life, and a recurring reminder of one’s shameful and base nature.  That’s a pretty strange position to hold for the same virus, depending on where you get it.  The strangeness of the position is further complicated by the fact that you can get “oral herpes” on your genitals and “genital herpes” on your mouth.  So, there really is no difference.

I heartily recommend that we open up discussions of STI’s and do so in a way that treats them as simply a medical issue and not as a moral failing.  I think we need to get more objective information out there on these issues and change the way they are talked about today.  One way to begin that process for yourself is to listen to episode #256 of Savage Love. Afterwards, consider how your own views on sexually transmitted infections is influenced by ideas from our culture on the shamefulness of sex and the disgustingness of the human body that has come to us from the christian hatred of this world.  This is the first step to freeing yourself from these misconceptions and beginning to think about these issues objectively.

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Formspring: Sex without Love?

by Jason Stotts

Another question from a reader from Formspring:

What are your thoughts on relationships that are purely sexual in nature and in which there is no expectation of romance or dating?

This is a complicated question. From a moral standpoint, this can be done perfectly morally.  I’ve talked about the criteria for this kind of relationship before (see “On Polysexuality“), but briefly you need to be open and honest with the other person, share fundamental values, and make sure you don’t treat sex too lightly.  If you can pass these hurdles, then it can be moral.  (For more information on this, see Peikoff’s Podcast, #174 where he states clearly that as long as you share values, it can be moral).

Now, the treating sex lightly one is important as if you only ever have sex without there being a deeper relationship, then you can damage your capacity for intimacy and make it harder, or impossible, to really get close to a person who you do care about. This is the problem that some porn stars and prostitutes complain about, saying that they feel like sex doesn’t have that same kind of intimate connection for them like it does for most people and used to have for them.  Now this is less of a problem if you’re in a pre-existing relationship and you’re being non-monogamous, since you already have a partner you love and you have love and sex wedded together there.  If not, then you can still engage in a purely sexual relationship, but you need to be very aware of what you’re doing, how you feel about it, and work to make sure you’re not devaluing sex.

So, I don’t think they’re ideal, and I do think they could be dangerous, but they can be moral and in the right circumstances they can be very valuable.

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Erosophia is Getting Popular

by Jason Stotts

When I started my blog all those years ago in 2005, when the internet was new and shiny, I never  thought that anyone would actually read it. I was writing mostly for myself; to vent, to ponder, and just for practice writing. Then, somehow, people just started reading what I was writing. I know I’m not a big blog by any means, but look at my new traffic stats:

Those are respectable numbers! Last month I nearly crested 7,000 unique viewers! This month, only 6 days into it, I’m already at 1,450 uniques: not a bad start to a month at all. I’m not sure why traffic is climbing so steadily, but I’m pretty happy about it.

I really need to get my posts on reddit and stumbleupon, but I hate taking the extra time to submit them myself and I don’t know of an automated way to do it (anyone interested in helping out with that? Email me at Jason(at)JasonStotts.com).

In order to keep expanding and reaching new people with my message of a rational perspective on sexuality, I’m considering either starting a podcast or opening a new, possibly restricted, section of Erosophia, called “Erosophia Explicit” where I take on more explicit issues, offer practical sex advice, and generally be a little more NSFW than I’m comfortable being on Erosophia itself.

Ultimately, of course, I hope to use Erosophia to help launch the book I’m writing, Eros and Ethos: The Ethics of Modern Sex, a big update about which is nigh.

I want to know what you, my dear readers, think.  Leave me a comment or email me and let me hear from you.

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It’s About Time

by Jason Stotts

Many people don’t know this, but it is a felony in most places for an underage person to send a nude picture of themselves to another person (manufacturing, possession, and distribution of child pornography) or for any person to receive such a picture (possession of child pornography).  This has landed more than one adolescent in jail and on sex offender lists for life.  This is really an affront to justice and an indication of how uncomfortable Americans are with adolescent sexuality.

Thankfully, now at least some states are starting to rectify this injustice, including Florida where they are working to put new, much less severe penalties in place for adolescent caught sexting.

It’s still illegal for Florida teenagers to send sexually explicit photos, but they can now avoid severe penalties under a new state law that takes effect Saturday.

Previously, a minor who sent or received an explicit photo could have been charged with a felony and been forced to register as a sex offender, said state Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, a Democrat, who wrote the bill.

Under the new law, which passed in June, a first offense is noncriminal and is punishable by up to eight hours of community service or a $60 fine. The second offense is a misdemeanor and the third becomes a felony, carrying a maximum five-year prison sentence. (LA Times)

I laud this legislation and I hope other states follow suite so that we don’t turn a generation of adolescent learning about their sexuality into criminals.

————-Update———–

Someone asked if this means that I support the laws against sexting.  I do not.  I do not support the criminalization of sexuality or punishing people for being their natural sexual selves and failing to adhere to the anti-life and anti-man philosophy of christianity that permeates our culture.  On the other hand, I see this as a step in the right direction and positive in that regard.

Truthfully, I find the whole subject distasteful and a violation of an individual’s right to determine the course of his own life.  Look at what the supporters of the bill think:

Florida state Sen. Charlie Dean, a Republican who sponsored the bill, said the law would help teens understand their responsibilities.

“I don’t want to make it a criminal issue; I want them to understand accountability,” Dean said. “If you step outside the given norm of society, then you will pay a price for that.” [emphasis added]

He thinks that if you don’t conform to society, then it ought to have a right to punish you for that.  That certainly sounds like it conforms to the principles of individual rights to me!  We need to be more aggressive about keeping church and state separate and not letting religion punish those who don’t conform to its irrationality with the law.

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