Comment Of The Day: “The Tangled Ethics Of Men, Women, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Discrimination, Romance, Common Sense, And ‘“Vive La différence!”’

[I’m especially very grateful to have an inventory of strong Comments of the Day—two more to post after this!–since I woke up today with painful stiff neck that makes everything from walking to chewing painful, and looking down at a keyboard ridiculously difficult.]

In response to fair, reasonable, liberal commenter and mother who had just written that when it came to looking out for her daughters, extreme caution was the rule, meaning that heterosexual men were regarded as inherent potential threats if the were strangers…even the fathers of  her daughter’s friends (maybe even—this is my thought, not hers–a Vice President!).reader Chris Bentley raised several interesting points. As with many Comments of the Day, this one was not strictly on topic; workplace sexual harassment and discrimination was the subject of the post, except on the broad issue of the different genetic wiring of man and women,

Here is CB’s Comment of the Day on “The Tangled Ethics Of Men, Women, Sexual Harassment,Sexual Discrimination, Romance, Common Sense, And “Vive La différence!”:

Having said that, why is it OK  to profile, stereotype, to pass judgement on someone, solely because of their gender, and the statistical likelihood that someone, due to their gender, would cause harm to your daughters, if that specific person has given you no reason to see them a a threat?

Everyone stereotypes, especially when A) the stakes are too high to be wrong; and B) it’s unlikely the “recipient” of our stereotyping will ever know what we’re thinking..and if they do, refer back to A. But we all still do it.

I get that the percentage of people who are pedophiles is disproportionately in favor of men, and any good parent isn’t going to play fast and loose with the safety of their kids, just to appear to be “fair” to a stranger. And it’s okay for women to take precautions when out jogging alone, and they come across a man who, regardless of what they’re doing, make them feel uncomfortable, because, again, disproportionate percentages. In these situations, how you feel when safety is involved legitimately trumps any other possible facts in the situation, of the feelings of the other people involved, because the stakes are too high to be wrong.

But, then, why is it not okayto do this to other demographics, when there is a genuine, sincere fear that the stakes are too high to be wrong? I know that men aren’t a protected class, but so what? I have previously been a preschool director; my job was literally to convince parents to entrust their children to me, and I was damn good at it. I have proven to be more trustworthy with children then ~80-90% of the adult population…but if someone didn’t know me, they’d be justified (which I understand) in not trusting their child around me, because I’m a male who’s a stranger? But not justified in their distrust of me, if it was because I was black and a stranger?

Even if they sincerely believed that the disproportionate statistics of blacks and violent crime gave them good reason to be distrustful?



25 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “The Tangled Ethics Of Men, Women, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Discrimination, Romance, Common Sense, And ‘“Vive La différence!”’

  1. Now I’m glad I never got around to replying to Spartan’s comment that sparked Chris’s COTD, because the issue deserves its own thread. Spartan, as is her right, has played the Mommy card (I can’t find the exact comment right now) saying that when her daughters are involved, she reserves the right to be hyper-vigilant and even irrational.

    Yet as Chris politely avoid coming right out and saying, what she’s describing is bigotry, using the odds as justification. Remember when Jesse Jackson, in a moment of candor, said that even he was nervous when two young black men were walking behind him at night?

    Apply this principle to, say, a hypothetical devout religious group that has a Holy Book advocating the murder of non-believers, and radical fringes that take that to heart, launching many attacks all over the world, including here. Just a thought exercise, mind you. Let’s get REALLY creative and say that certain members of that group have formed a terrorist cult and may have planted lone wolf terror cells in the US. And lets’ say, just for giggles, that that cult is especially active in certain countries where there is currently an urgent need to get families who are adherents of the same religion out of harm’s way.

    And what if an articulate POTUS (see, this is REALLY a wild hypothetical) decides that members of that religion require some special caution in public policy, saying, “My job is to protect each and every one of the citizens of the nation that elected me President, I’m sorry if it offends or hurts the feelings of the innocent, but when American lives are at risk, I am going to be wary of groups that are more of a threat to do violence than other groups, and this group is. If you want to call that bigotry, go ahead. Protecting the lives of Americans is more important to me, and should be, than fear of looking politically incorrect.. That’s why I’m going to place travel restrictionss on the following countries…”?

    American public=Spartan’s girls
    Muslims=heterosexual men
    Unvetted Muslims=Friends’ fathers
    Sleepover policy=Refugee Policy


    • Exactly. Political correctness will be the death of us all that is if the North Koreans don’t get us first. Tolerence is not a virtue when the lives of Americans is at stake.

    • The thing is, is that it is entirely possible that there is a rational reason why discriminating against an ethnicity/nationality/religion isn’t entirely analogous to discriminating against men (a few were offered in the other thread, such as biological differences in men v women, that don’t exist in the other group comparisons. I think the biological argument is irrelevant, though…). Im not saying that there are, and I can’t see what it might be; but it is possible.

      However, even if there are legitimate differences, that doesn’t make the legitimate fear for for safety, in either Spartan’s situation, or the fear for American’s safety, less valid. Which is why it pisses me off whenever someone raises an objection based on a legit fear or concern, and they’re immediately branded an “-ist”, without any consideration of their POV. It’s why those words have lost so much of their effect, and have become jokes on the right; they’re tossed around waaaay to casually.

      I could have easily gone the “-ist” route with Spartan (I want be clear, once again, before I go down this road, that I completely understand Spartan’s POV, and do not object to her having that POV. For her, her children’s well being is atop the priority list, and the world would be a better place if every parent did the same). After all, I belong to the group she’d be “discriminating” against, and have been a recipient of similar treatment in the past. My objection would not be some pie-in-the-sky hypothetical; it would be legit, if I had actually felt it. However, after pausing to reflect on the little bit I know of Spartan (though her postings), and taking the time to understand her rationale, Im fairly confident, she is not an -ist of any kind. She and I may disagree on many views, but she is not the enemy, to be “branded”, or “otherized”. She’s a mom, trying to do right by her kids, in a world where, whether I like it or not, the average man IS more statistically likely to harm her children than the average woman is. Just because I dont like the conclusion she has come to, just because that statistic harms all of the law abiding, great-with-children guys out there, doesn’t make the statistics any less true. I accept that, and resolve to make sure Im not lumped in with those statistics.

      Not trying to break my arm patting myself on the back here, but if everyone who gets “offended” by a comment targeting a group they belong to A) took the time to understand the POV of the person making the comment; B) acknowledged when there is objective legitimacy to the comment, no matter how small; C) and stop denying objective statistics and obvious-as-hell historical trends, even if they are harmful to the cause that you’re defending, discourse might be a little bit easier between opposing sides.

      • If everyone who gets “offended” by a comment targeting a group they belong to A) took the time to understand the POV of the person making the comment; B) acknowledged when there is objective legitimacy to the comment, no matter how small; C) and stop denying objective statistics and obvious-as-hell historical trends, even if they are harmful to the cause that you’re defending, discourse might be a little bit easier between opposing sides.

        Wonderful quote, wise and true.

        • Jack: Have you considered adding a link to your “Rule Book,” to an expandable collection of “Jack’s Favorite Ethical Quotes?” Chris’s comment above belongs there. I only wish that most political leaders in our part of the world would make the effort to recite that comment often, for example (especially!), at town hall meetings.

      • There are many examples of past presidents acting irrationally. Just ask Jack, as POTUS history is his hobby.

        Now that does not let Trump off the hook. He takes things too far, IMHO.

        • The fact that you think that one is needed is terrifying. But why do you think we have age requirements in our Constitution? Obviously, one can be irrational at any age, but the [obvious] idea behind an age requirement is that there needs to be a certain amount of wisdom brought to government service, and wisdom only comes with age. And the age requirements were written before we had weapons of mass destruction. In addition, wisdom and irrationality are like oil and water, so yes, I am doubling down on my statement.

          As for me, I really don’t think I need to defend my personal view — especially given that I have not yet discriminated against ANY single father — but, here are my reasons: 1) One of my best friends growing up was sexually abused by a male relative (my mother knew something was off with him, I was never allowed over there); 2) My mother had a creepy uncle who would sneak into her room when she was a teenager. Once it began to escalate, my mother fled, met my future dad and married him three months later; 3) My OTHER best friend’s brother growing up was sexually molested by our Catholic priest. He was one of those assholes who kept getting moved around. He ended up going to prison — and this was the late 80’s before all the scandals starting hitting, so you know the evidence was pretty damning; 4) Yet another good fried (this was in high school) was sexually abused by a male neighbor. This messed her up for life; 5) My mother’s best friend’s husband was sent to prison for life for sexually abusing his granddaughters (I know this man and used to play at his house as a child); 6) My mother’s other best friend’s son (she only has 2 mind you) also is in prison for life for abusing several young boys. (I used to play over there as a kid too.)

          So yes, for me, sexual abuse is a very real danger that has affected many people in my life. But for the fact that I had very watchful parents, I might not have dodged these bullets. It is something that I am on high alert for all the time because I know what effect it has on people’s lives.

          • Spartan you may want to consider moving and forgetting every one you know right now. The concentration of deviants around you is either bull shit or one of the most dangerous locations in America.

            • Not BS and I did move from there. Sexual abuse is common everywhere sadly so I don’t kid myself that my kids are safe because we live in a more affluent area.

              • I can’t shake the impression that there’s something we could do to prevent people from becoming sexually abusive, without also turning into some sort of dystopia. Punishment and ostracism are obviously not a sufficient deterrent, so it will have to be something more sophisticated. The idea that we just have to accept such a ludicrously high level of terrible crimes is intolerable to me.

      • It’s not necessarily a question of rationality versus irrationality. The choice is whether to protect one’s children by discriminating against a statistically more suspicious demographic or to slightly increase the risk to them by treating all strangers equally. Either decision could be made irrationally, obviously, but either could be made rationally, too.

        The relevant questions are what are your values, and do you consider yourself charged with a duty?

        As a parent, you most likely feel your duty to protect your children outweighs any duty to your fellow humans to judge them by their character rather than their appearance, where the two duties come into conflict. I support that decision.

        What duty do you think presidents have to citizens of other countries that outweighs their duty to protect their own citizens? Note: I disagree vehemently with the idea of “realpolitik”, where each country cares nothing for the well-being of any other country except inasmuch as it directly benefits their own citizens.

        However, if you’re advocating a policy that increases the risk of citizens to your own country, you need three things: 1) a very clear reason based on a decision that a particular benefit or value (e.g. freedom) takes precedence at this level, 2) a reasonable belief that the policy will achieve its objective, and 3) a demonstrated lack of superior alternatives or approaches. If you don’t have all of those, the decision to err on the side of caution is quite rational.

  2. Boy, Jack, that sucks… if you are progressive. I have always thoughts that progressives are progressive until it is their interests on the line. Take a hypothetical progressive, P, as my subject. Note this is NOT directed at Spartan, with whom I agree regarding her children.

    Raise taxes: but P will use every loophole to avoid paying more than he can get away with, even as he derides ‘the rich’ for doing so. The capper is that the IRS will take donations, but P would never think to put HIS money where his mouth is. P is generous to a fault…with other people’s money.

    Sex Education and free condoms should be readily available and paid for by the public treasury. However, P has girls, and they should be protected from such. P is progressive except when it comes to his family. Then he looks a lot like a conservative…

    Public schools are fine for the masses, and P believes they are warehouses for the unwashed masses, and who knows? The indoctrination might make some of them good sheep. However, P’s kids go to private school.

    P works in a high paying job in government, and has body guards, lives in a private gated community with armed security, and has use of a limo and driver. He has protection for his kids in their private school. However, guns should be restricted from the population, since it makes them easier to control. It also worries P in the back of his mind that those peasants with guns could be a threat to himself, in the late night hours. No guns! (Except for P’s bodyguards and security, of course)

    P preaches Man made climate change, and looks for ways to get the peasants out of their polluting automobiles. They are destroying the earth, he says, in conference after conference across the nation. P uses a jet to travel, dumping more ‘pollutants’ each trip than any 10 peasant families in a year. He also has an interest in carbon credits, and make a tidy sum selling offsets to many he forced to buy them through rules he helped write…

    P finds out about laws before they are public, and buys stock in the chosen winners before they are announced. He also cheerfully prosecutes any peasant who does this, calling it ‘insider trading.’

    Seems like P would hate Trump, as a outsider in charge threatens everything P has worked for.

  3. I think there is a big difference between actions of the state, and individual, private actions. I think that while it may be unethical to behave in a discriminatory manner in your private life, it can be understandable on some levels, even if irrational,and from a practical standpoint, impossible to police.

    However, that goes out the window when it comes to state actions. In the United States, we are supposed to prize individual liberty and individual rights. Therefore group punishment and group abridgment of rights is something that should be approached very gingerly, if at all. The state has the literal power of life and death over people in a way that very few private individuals do. And the state is supposed to be properly constrained from exercising bigotry by certain foundational documents that it cannot willfully toss aside when it becomes too inconvenient.

    • Yes, well said. Ideally the distinction should go further but I don’t think we can work out how to draw it. Individuals acting in a private capacity should ideally be completely free to make their own decisions, eg as to who to befriend and certainly who to trust with their loved ones, however biased or bigotted they may seem to be. If, say, they distrust Jack Russells and their owners, that should be their business and they shouldn’t have to justify themselves by showing bite marks. But this same individual in his capacity say as a shop owner cannot be allowed to refuse to serve people based on such a prejudice. There is inevitably a conflict between respecting the freedom of the individual to discriminate, but also not to be discriminated against. (Personally I much prefer corgis.)

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