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HonoreDB comments on Traditional Capitalist Values - Less Wrong

38 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 17 October 2008 01:07AM

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Comment author: HonoreDB 26 November 2010 06:38:20AM *  10 points [-]

Orson Scott Card, from whose works my username sort of comes, is a devout Mormon who seems to work a non-religious explanation of why premarital sex is bad into a lot of his stories (often phrased as "like all intelligent people, XX and XY understood that..."). The explanation is completely different each time, and it's never where the conclusion really comes from, of course. Card can speculate as to why God commanded something, but he doesn't need the rationalization in order to believe in the commandment.

Orson Scott Card's arguments (the ones I remember) include:

  • Breaking taboos means you're either a "wolf," who disregards social conventions whenever it suits you, or a "sheep" who can't restrain your own impulses. Both of these are bad.

  • Your parents are probably lying to you about sex in some way, which means you might have some dangerous misconceptions. Don't do it until you can be sure of the consequences.

  • Unless you've had a long courtship and are now married, there's probably an undetected power imbalance in your relationship, which means any premarital sex is actually rape.

  • Unless you've had a long courtship and are now married, how do you know your significant other isn't violently insane?

  • Who'd buy the cow when you're giving away the milk for free?

I got into an argument recently with an evangelical Christian who was trying to do the same thing, but I don't think he came up with anything sophisticated enough to be worth repeating.

I recommend Amanda Marcotte for discussions of why these ideas are not only wrong, but actively harmful.

Comment author: Alicorn 26 November 2010 03:31:52PM *  7 points [-]

Oh, and don't forget:

  • If you don't have the social publicity of your relationship that extended courtship and marriage provides, how will anyone know to warn you that your childhood caretakers drugged you with substances that make orgasm torturous?

That one doubled as an "argument" against homosexuality.

Comment author: Nornagest 01 December 2010 06:23:22PM 3 points [-]

What story was that?

In any case, that's rather remarkably bizarre. I'm trying to think of a real-life condition for which it'd work as an allegory, and coming up with absolutely nothing -- at least without involving some of the more extreme forms of genital mutilation, and I doubt Card's trying to defend those.

Comment author: Alicorn 01 December 2010 06:29:16PM 3 points [-]

That was "Songmaster".

Comment author: TheOtherDave 01 December 2010 07:28:12PM 2 points [-]


The idea that part of a guardian's responsibility is to prepare their charge for the painfulness and unpleasantness of sex on their wedding night was relatively pervasive in the social media I grew up around, and I can imagine what Alicorn describes being an allegory for this (though I read "Songmaster" too many years and too many perspective-changes ago to remember it usefully, so I have no idea whether Card had anything like this in mind).

Comment author: Nornagest 02 December 2010 01:26:38AM *  0 points [-]

I suppose that makes a twisted kind of sense. I'd been exposed to the idea before (though I wouldn't have called it pervasive in the cultural milieu I grew up in), but didn't make the connection -- possibly because Card's setup doesn't seem to work if sex/loss of virginity is ordinarily painful or unpleasant.

It's odd to write an allegory which implicitly rejects the real-life idea it's supposed to point to (ETA: as opposed to tactfully ignoring it). I suppose Card might be trying to write for an audience that he assumes to have already rejected it, but now I feel like I'm making too many speculative leaps to be confident of my predictions.