Virtual Morality Questions

The era of electronic entertainment has given rise to all sorts of interesting moral questions, questions that bring shades of gray to hitherto black-and-white issues of right or wrong.  Here’s one:

I was going to file this silly thing under INSIGNIFICA when I decided it wasn’t that silly, after all.

We might think that this is a modern morality question, but of course it isn’t.  People have been sending “love letters” to each other pretty much as soon as we discovered writing, only now the communication is electronic over the Internet rather than on paper and by messenger / through the mail.  In days gone by, therefore, a husband discovering racy love letters from another man in his wife’s possession would justifiably, in my opinion, be suspicious of his wife’s fidelity — and certainly so if the other man was a mutual acquaintance, or someone living close by.

Of course, the further the distance between writers, the less likely would actual adultery take place — but, to address the above question, is virtual adultery any different from actual adultery?

Note that I’m not talking about flirty communication here;  there’s an enormous difference, in my opinion, between “I’d love to take a walk on the beach with you someday”  to “I want to suck your penis”, although some might argue that the difference is only in degree.

The arrival of the telephone added sound to the situation — and one has only to see how many “phone sex” lines there are to see the effect of that.  Still, I suppose that one might argue that such activity is purely impersonal — I’m reminded of a scene in some movie of a young woman having phone sex on one of these lines while doing her ironing and watching her baby play on the kitchen floor — and it’s all just fantasy, not adultery.

What has changed, of course, is that communication nowadays can include video, where love letters never did.  Now we are talking about a whole different ball game, aren’t we?  Or are we?

Does adultery have to require actual physical contact to be classified as adultery?

I have to say “yes” to the above — although that said, I understand that virtual adultery has all sorts of “moth and candle” implications, especially if it’s between people who know each other.  As one woman of my acquaintance once put it:  “Virtual sex has replaced foreplay when it comes to fooling around”, and she’s absolutely right — if, that is, the couple are not just strangers getting a cheap thrill out of the thing.

And there, I think, is the crux of it.  It’s not the virtual aspect of it;  it’s who you’re talking to.  Which is more dangerous to a marriage:  talking sex to a complete stranger in a chat room, on a phone sex line or on a video call, or talking sex with a neighbor, a guy from the office or a friend’s husband?

I think we all know the answer to that.

Genetic Slavery

From GeekWithA.45, commenting at this post:

One of my old friends, a scholar of Talmud and Kaballah, once opined that there was a really important reason $DEITY lead Moses and the Israelites around the desert for 40 years between their deliverance from slavery and arrival at the promised land, and it had little to do with petty Divine annoyance on the subject of golden calves.  It was, he explained, to give that society time to let the slave generation die off and train the new generation to conditions of self reliance, to become people fit to determine their own fate.  I think there’s a lot to that.  Slave instincts of servility are pernicious, and difficult for even the hardiest to shake off.

There’s more than a lot to that.  There is so much truth in that brief summation that I’m mortified that I’ve never put it into words.



From the Comments to yesterday’s post about the two- vs. three dimension concepts came this, from Reader Harry (no relation):

Vertical projects (buildings, towers) do have 3 dimensions. They are described as vertical projects, even though their height does not always exceed their length or width.
Horizontal projects (roads, airfields) also have 3 dimensions. They are described as horizontal projects, even though their length does not always exceed their height or width.

I understand that perfectly, especially when viewed in Platonic terms.  You may call a table a “quadripod eating-surface”, but that does not negate its “table-ness”, which exists outside any definition.

A road, almost by definition, needs no thickness — it is a line that connects a starting point and a destination, and thus requires no third dimension.  (This is not true in Britishland, however, where a road can start in the middle of nowhere, meander all over the countryside and then just expire — probably out of sheer exhaustion — never having reached an actual destination.  And one may still encounter traffic jams on said roads because while they are theoretically bi-directional, their width is usually less than that of a single car — thus proving the statement that a line may have length but not width.)

Because buildings have no ending point (projecting upwards into thin air), they must have a third dimension.  A wall cannot exist without thickness — even when joined to the ceiling.  (Just because you need only two of its dimensions when hanging a picture, for example, doesn’t mean it needn’t have a third, as a moment’s thought will show.)

And now I need to quit, because I’m starting to get a headache.

Oxi Day

From Longtime Reader Brad:

You tell of your Grandfather on a yearly basis… his quiet determination to live his life, support and protect his family, etc.
Perhaps you recall columnist John Kass from The Trib — he’s indie now — he bailed earlier this year immediately after lefty vulture “capitalists” bought The Trib.
I give you this

I always liked to read John Kass back when I lived in Daley City, and this ranks up there with his best.  Wonderful, and humbling.

Thanks, Brad.

Choices, Choices

Found this at Knuckledragger’s place, and it got me thinking:

If the next meteorite was going to strike a U.S. city, which one would get your vote?

Suggestions in Comments, with a BRIEF rationale.

Unless you nominate Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle or Portland.  Then no explanation is necessary