Sunday, April 10, 2005

My Privacy Manifesto

Cross-posted at CultureKitchen

I, Lorraine Berry, assert my right to privacy as a basic human right that I will not allow to be compromised by my political party, which has allowed notions of privacy to be hijacked by those who call them “moral” values.

We are allowing ourselves to be dominated by a Republican ruling party of scolds, prudes, and control freaks, who believe, somehow, that their claim to eternal life is tied to their control of all the chaotic elements that make us human. They want to regulate in others what they consider to be sin: sin, for them, separates them from God, it is the source of suffering, it is our very humanity they seek to tame and take away. Why? Well, because I am prone to meta-explanations, I would argue that they’re seriously afraid of death, and think, somehow, if they control other people’s behaviours, they won’t have to die. I know that sounds horrendously illogical. But I’d like you to think about it.

Bernardino da Siena, the Franciscan Observant preacher, went from town to town in the 1420’s, warning inhabitants of each of the towns he visited that those who tolerated sin within their city walls would be punished by God for allowing that sin to exist. “So will I destroy the cities” is foretold in the Book of Malachi, and so it would be for Christians, thundered Bernardino to his flocks. Who did he urge them to root out? Sodomites. Usurers. Witches. Later in the century, fellow Franciscan Observants such as Bernardino da Feltre would add Jews to this list.

The fifteenth century bears strange similarities to our own century. The greatest threat to Christian Europe was the Turk, Muslims, who, it was thought, would overrun Christian Europe, slaughtering the men, making women their concubines. In absolute terror that the advancing Turks were the scourge inflicted on Christians by an angry God, communities looked inward for their enemies, and started offering up their friends and neighbors for private acts that were seen as publicly dangerous. Sometimes, I don’t think that rhetoric sounds any different than what we hear coming from right-wing pundits and preachers. We’re marching lock-step back into the Dark Ages.

So, here’s how I intend to counteract the attacks on privacy. Perhaps if enough of us were to do it, we can change the nature of the debate. This is not about moral values. This is about insecure people hoping to somehow gain eternal life by destroying the lives of others.

So, the next time someone calls abortion a moral choice, I will ask him the results of his last prostate exam, or her the results of her pelvic exam. I expect they’ll tell me it’s none of my business. To which I’ll reply, “exactly.”

The next time someone argues against gay marriage, I’ll ask him or her when the last time he or she made love with their spouse. I expect they’ll tell me it’s none of my business. To which I’ll reply, “exactly.”

The next time somebody defends pharmacists refusing to dispense birth control pills, I’ll ask them what prescription medicines they are currently taking. I expect they’ll tell me it’s none of my business. To which I’ll reply, “exactly.”

The next time someone says that Terri Schiavo was murdered, I’ll ask them if they’ve made arrangements for a local government official to be in their loved one’s hospital room making final decisions. I expect they’ll tell me it’s none of my business. To which I’ll reply, “exactly.”

The next time some legislator proposes banning sex toys, I’ll ask them what method of masturbation they prefer. I expect they’ll tell me it’s none of my business. To which I’ll reply, “exactly.”

The next time someone talks about family values, I’ll ask them to tell me what the last thing they disciplined their child over. I expect they’ll tell me it’s none of my business. To which I’ll reply, “exactly.”

We cannot allow our panic at being out of power to lead us to separate abortion rights, gay rights, end-of-life-decision rights, parenting rights, medical rights from the basic human right to live free of someone else butting their nose into our personal lives.

We need to explain that even if they could live in their perfect world where human beings lived the types of lives that the moral scolds imagine, the moral scolds are still going to die. If they control everything, they’re still going to die. It is the ultimate form of addiction to think that if you control-freak yourself all over other people, you can be happy. But it doesn’t work for addicts, it won’t work for them, and it makes the rest us pretty fucking miserable. Can we please stop enabling the control freaks? Please?


aqualung said...

Dear LB,
I'm not sure I buy that these scolds believe they will actually die physically if they do not tell the rest of us how to live our lives. I do think, however, that they may fear not being able to "enter the kingdom of heaven", that they may be denied "everlasting life" with the Lord JC. Eternal nothingness is what motivates most who believe in all of this supernatural mumbo-jumbo. Scares the shit out of them. I don't see why.

FunkyB said...

First let me say, DAMN!!! This is one of the best things you've ever written in terms of me being able to use it NOW!!!!

Now, as someone who has "been there and done that" I can tell you this much: Most every Christian says they can't wait for their heavenly reward. But in the closets of their minds they are scared shitless of it. They are scared to die, because all they know is life on earth... and because some fucked up preacher has planted this idea in their brains that if they're not good enough - and who but JC really knows if they are - they may just end up in hell...or purgatory...or some Mormon will pray them into Mormonhood...
It's not the concept of nothingness that scares them...oh there is a something... but what that something is, even if it's heaven, is so unknown that they spend all their earthly lives trying to make sure they win the world for JC...just in case they haven't been good enough to get there... and they don't give a shit if we like it or not...

aqualung said...

OK, eternal nothingness or eternal fire and brimstone. Not sure which they fear more, but the idea's the same I think...

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