Friday, September 12, 2008

Society Must Lose to Rights and The Unethical DSM

So often in my discussions on various rights issues, Disability rights, potential genocide of Aspergers, Trans rights etc, the subject of Society is brought up.

Usually in notions that society is not ready for some things or that acknowledging certain rights will place an excessive burden on society or that certain things are wrong because they are contrary to society or to common views or taboos in society.

These seem strong arguments, after all for many people without much understanding of the principles behind what makes something ethical (and therefore right) or unethical (and therefore wrong) take instead their rules and boundaries from the commonly held rules and strictures of those around them.

It looks like a strong argument but it is not.

Firstly there is the fallacy of the value of stability. That the status quo should be maintained. From an evolutionary perspective such an inflexible society is damned to extinction. If the purpose of society is to serve the populace then clearly it is not at a state of perfection. If it is not perfect then it can be improved and in fact must be to serve it's purpose. Those who object to the potential risk of such experimentation on a large scale can simply start applying measurement, a sadly lacking concept in social and political ideology - results based assessment!

But more importantly there is a cornocopia of precedents! Slavery was a norm of many societies for thousands of years. Society could and did adapt swiftly to it's removal. Women were far less equal in many societies for thouisands of years. Society could and did adapt quickly.

Arguments that society cannot handle change are false. Clearly while many in a society do not want it and may object society can adjust to dramatic change. As for readyness it sounds reasonable but is it? It places an additional burdon on the oppressed or unequal to change the minds of the better off. There are examples where this has occured but is it a right or justifiable argument? Not really. An objection that society is not ready is often made without supportive measured data. So when that is the case it clearly is an appeal to a perception, an imagined estimate or generalisation.

Even if backed up by data it does not make it right to oppose doing the right thing just because the right thing is unpopular! Even in a democracy! This is because the official placed in such a position is obliged to do what is right by their duty to the position. However that does not mean they should apply their personal morality and do what is right by that, this is a violation of their duty! Instead they are obliged to follow the ethical principles of protecting the rights of all citizens not just the views of the majority or their personal morality. So again rights trump society.

What about the burden argument?
Now that really is a hard one to discuss with a calm mind. It makes me want to break out serious quantities of sarcasm. After all the idea that some people may be inconvenienced by doing what is right? It might cost people money to ensure everyone has the same access to amenities? Haven't they been saving money for generations by not doing so? But they weren't aware they were profiting? Hardly an excuse is it. Some people may be uncomfortable? Awww... those poor people might find treating others as equals difficult, they might become unnerved around the unfamiliar, scared by the different, they might feel threatened being around them.

I want to screm 'for crying out loud you morons!' but we really should acknowledge that it is a real discomfort, even a profound one that effects these people.
These people may indeed have their heart race, break into a nervous sweat, feel panic even.

But then when they desegregated race from public toilets I bet they felt that way then too. Plenty were concerned about letting aboriginal children into public swimming pools after all, when that was changed I bet a lot of people were uncomfortable. After all they used to say that Aboriginal people were dirty, carried diseases that people could acquire from pool water. Some even said that Aboriginal men being primitive bestial and unmannered would think nothing of ejaculating in swimming pools when women were swimming and that the sperm would enter the white women and produce half-caste babies!

I bet a lot of people were uncomfortable when that discrimination was ended!

What no-one wants to admit is that this discomfort is an inevitable price of any removal of discrimination! People will be uncomfortable! But they will get over it!

Such discomfort is as comparable to the injustice the removal of which may cause the discomfort as a feather is comparable to the weight of the known universe. And that's likely understimating it a little.

Sure the discomfort is real! It's just temporary, not as bad as the suffering being removed which if not removed is not temporary and really, really is the most cowardice and pathetic excuse for maintaining a grave injustice. It's a cry-baby routine, the whining of the most spoiled petulant child. The upset is real but the reason behind the upset is invalid. Like the child who cries because their siblings also have icecream!

The crybabies need to get over it! And they will, if we let them! Protecting them from the discomfort of fairness is not going to fix anything, it just makes things worse.

Even if real harm is a result of fairness and equality it would not excuse doing wrong or not doing right! Especially if that harm is less than the harm being relieved by the inequality!

Now in my title i mntion the DSM.
Thats because I hear over and over disturbing facts about the most basic failures of philosophical understanding related to the DSM and some working upon it.

Clearly as society will perpetuate any wrong untill that wrong is reformed then social 'mores' cannot be considered a valid measure of what is good, normal, healthy nor right! Society has supported slavery, bigotry, human sacrifice and pedophillia at various times all of which are clearly unethical! Diversity and difference, even when unpopular and discriminated against in society so long as it is ethical is useful to society, is valid within society and needs supporting not removing.

Here's a simple idea for those on the DSM: No ethical practice or action or experience, nothing which does not interefere with the rights of others should be considered to be wrong or needing to be fixed! then secondly The primary goal for those who are infringing on the rights of others is to be able to not infringe on the rights of others and then finally thirdly If someone wants to change some aspect of themselves no matter what it is if it does not interfere with the rights of others then the option of helping them live with and maximise the integration of such ethical differences must remain on the table as the first reccomended option and always an option even though the patients choice whether to integrate their difference or to minimise or alter it is the right of the patient!

Cause frankly, any other standpoint is unethical! The job of the psychologist is not to make the patient normal, average, integrated in society or to achieve a certain outcome considered best! The duty of the psychologist is to maximise the choices and capacity of ethical behaviour of the patient! To give them the maximum autonomy! To ensure they have the capacity for giving informed consent!

When Human Rights conflict with Society then Society is in need of reforming. To defend society is to defend injustice, to fight for a wrong against a right! Just as the defenders of Slavery were wrong, of segregation were wrong, of women as goods and chattel without a vote were wrong then so too are all those who oppose fairness and equality and Human Rights for All.

And if your one of the ones who feels discomfort around public displays of affection between gay couples while comfy with the same displays from straight couples, if your uncomfortable about sharing amenities with transgender people or interacting with Autistic people ar anything else of that nature... Stop running away from it or trying to protect yourself from that discomfort you cry-baby cowardiced pultroons! You'll get used to it if you allow yourself to but not if you keep running away from it. A little bit of gradual exposure and you'll become immune and it won't be a problem for you anymore.

If you don't though you'll be choosing to remain not just a spoiled brat but downright wicked. You'll be choosing to perpetuate a wrong, one that invalidates your own claims to what you deny of others because of your squeemishness.

Sure the discomfort is real, sure it feels bad and feels powerful. It was for past generations when they undid injustice too. It's the price you have to pay! It's the price you owe! You benefited from that injustice or participated in it's continuance whether you knew it or not! So now you owe the others, whoever they are, your discomfort to end your share of your injustice against them! Your discomfort will go away after a little while when you do! Their suffering will only end when you suffer a little, such a lesser amount! Therefore unless you are willing to suffer a little for a little while then you are responsible for them suffering a lot forevermore!

Simple inescapable truth.

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