By Chic Hollis – Philosophical Musings
The Marquis de Sade (1740 to 1814) was a keen observer of the “odd balls” of the human race. In his famous books: Justine (the Misfortunes of Virtue) and Juliette (the Fortunes of Vice) he described the licentious times of late 18th Century France. His writings were initially banned in the U.S., but they were published in English here as a consequence of the growing post-WWII interest in sexual freedom. De Sade depicted the sexual deviates of society who were locked up like him in prison for their sexual predilections.
His weirdness was not tolerated by the Catholic Church, and he spent years in jail and sometime in the Bastille. Reading his works years ago caused me to question what society considers to be “proper behavior” for the unbalanced crazy folks among us.
An earlier visit to an insane asylum by my Modern Social Problems class during my last year of high school made me wonder how society arrives at the legal definition of an “insane person.” During that asylum visit, three different inmates were interviewed by professionals in order to provide the student audience with evidence of the anti-social behavior of these “patients” classified then as “legally insane.”
Such institutions are no longer considered the correct way to house social deviates. The more tolerant and compassionate humans among us object to such treatment. Nevertheless, there is a growing need to isolate the uncontrollable citizens, who aren’t yet considered criminals, from the more controllable ones. It isn’t exactly clear how a responsible, humane society should go about identifying the folks who should be locked up because they could harm themselves or other members of the general society.
Who are the dangerous radicals who pose a threat to mankind? The leaders of Iran and North Korea? The Taliban and the devout Sharia Law proponents? The communist party members in China and their leaders who resist diplomatic interference and foreign intervention? The dictators of the African countries who control their masses with fear and violence? The al Qaeda terrorists? The Somali pirates? Or the powerful law enforcement authorities in our Democracy who insist that U.S. law is just and anyone who violates a law should be incarcerated?
Isn’t it “insane” to run a public deficit that cannot be paid? (The Argentines were severely chastised for their federal government’s insolvency in 2002.) Shouldn’t the Federal Government of the U.S. be equally punished by the International Monetary Fund for their profligacy? Are our debts more acceptable because OUR leaders promise to pay? Who are the crazy risk-takers: the foreigner creditors buying U.S. obligations or the government agencies that burn the money being borrowed under whatever political pretense: war against drugs and poverty, famine, homelessness, unemployment, healthcare for the uninsured, or creating temporary jobs?
What is logical? What is rational? What is acceptable or “sane” behavior for humans in our modern societies? The ancients asked “Who judges the judges?” Likewise, I ask the reader to consider the following:
1. Who knows which God is supreme in the Afterworld or the Underworld? (Anyone?)
2. Who knows what is the most efficient way of ruling the turbulent masses? (Communism, socialism, democracy, plutocracy, or some other form of enacting laws that must be obeyed without civil disobedience?)
3. Who knows what the future will bring to those wealthy nations that are suffering from bad economic administration and threatened with potential insolvency?
4. Who can tell whether the Earth’s ecosystem is doomed because of care-less human behavior?
5. Who knows if abortion, same-sex marriage, and forcing the uninsured to buy health insurance are examples of sanity or insanity?
6. Who decides the official boundaries to a country, the winner of a war or some elite meddlers who represent the United Nations fortified with NATO troops?
7. Who knows what are the right amount of taxes to be paid by local citizens who must adhere to the decrees of some cruel and prejudicial taxing authority?
8. Who can recognize a terrorist in an airport who is unarmed, shoeless, and smiling?
9. Who knows how any human punishment actually “fits a crime?”
10. Who knows if breaking a law made by clueless atheistic humans would be classified as a sin by any omnipotent Deity?
11. Who can guess what will be considered “sane” behavior 100 years from today? (Wearing a helmet if you are driving an electric car on a paved surface? Praying 5 times per day for a new entitlement program to be authorized by your local government and paid for by others?)
12. Who knows if colonizing the Solar System is a futile exercise in gathering useless information or one that citizens are demanding because they are flush with spending money and will cough up the revenue to support such an expensive enterprise?
If you are absolutely certain that answers to these dozen questions are undebatable and unworthy of further consideration by your peers, may you live long and prosper in the chaos that produces the wild human behavior that is generously adjudicated sane in the world today by members of the numerous courts assigned to decide what behavior is socially and constitutionally acceptable and what isn’t.