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Culture War Roundup for the week of October 24, 2022

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I definately do not want to imply that you or any other blue here is a pedophile. I do not believe I or @naraburns has claimed that you or any other blue here is a pedophile. I have never understood the word "groomer" to be a synonym for pedophile, and in fact it is not a synonym for pedophile. It is explicitly a term for people who violate trust in an attempt to harmfully and secretly modify children's sexuality. Up until very recently, the only people who would even dream of doing that were in fact pedophiles, but it's the abuse of trust and the clandestine modification that's being objected to, not sex with kids. If the consernation is over percieved equivocation in language, allow me to be the first to apologize.

If you and others object to this so strongly, because suddenly conversation becomes impossible if one uses terms in a specific and unambiguous way that you don't agree with, let's not allow it to interfere with our communication. Give me a word. Give me a word and I will use it. you pick the fucking word to encapsulate "a person who is motivated to grossly abuse my trust and their authority in an attempt to fuck with my child's head, damaging their sexuality and their sanity, in secret and against my expressed wishes, to a degree that makes keeping them and anyone who associates with or supports them as far away from anyone I care about as possible", and scout's honor I will use that word unfailingly from now on. I will even translate quotes from others into that word, because I sincerely believe that is the idea most of them are trying to communicate.

This offer is open to any blue here. Pick the word that you think fairly encapsulates the above concept, and you will never hear "groomer" from me again. Make it as anodyne as you like, as anodyne as possible; it will pick up all the negative affect it needs in very short order.

(8 letters or less please for convenience, please and thank you.)

I have never understood the word "groomer" to be a synonym for pedophile, and in fact it is not a synonym for pedophile.

The word groomer is used because to most people it codes to pedophile. It is an effective political attack for that reason. If I were still in politics and working for the Republicans I would certainly be encouraging them to use it as an attack, but if it didn't have that connotation it would not be an effective political attack in the first place. Fascist is an effective political attack on right wingers because people generally think Nazis are bad. Groomer is an effective political attack on left wingers because people generally think that people who groom kids for sex are bad. They wouldn't be used if they didn't carry that emotional valence.

As for other words you could use, how about priest, or vicar, or Rabbi or sunday school teacher. Not in the pedophile sense again, but in the sense that this is how sexual morality in adults was formed. By teaching kids that masturbation is sinful, that homosexuality is sinful, that sex before marriage is sinful and so on. And for a long period of time this was the dominant waters that kids growing up swam through, even if their parents did not want that. That is the genesis of the woke movement you are criticizing. The rebellion against this enforced cultural teaching and the harm (as they see it, but see below) it did to kids who did not do well in that system. Hold onto that idea for a moment.

You mention it being done secretly or against your wishes but that is not relevant to the groomer tag in this scenario. I could teach your kids how to fish against your wishes and secretly and you are unlikely to call me a groomer. The key must then be WHAT is being taught. Would you call these secular teachers groomers if they were teaching your kids secretly that America is great even if you thought it was terrible? So to answer the question what do we call people who try to adjust and manipulate the sexuality of kids? Society, priests, nuns, teachers, parents, peers, televangelists, therapists, writers, and yes pedophilic groomers. It's one of the core roles of society, to set and teach boundaries on all sorts of human interaction and that includes sex and relationships. Which doesn't mean that we can't make a value judgement about which are better and which are worse, just to be clear. But almost everyone trying to mold the sexuality of kids are not pedophiles, they are not grooming them for abuse.

My RE teacher taught me about how Onan was sinful and I very much did not want to be there to learn that. If teaching a kid that is ok to be trans or gay or to masturbate is grooming, then teaching the opposite should also get the same brush. Are nuns at Catholic schools groomers when they teach not to do X or that Y is bad and will get you sent to hell and have you grow hairy palms?

I come to you as a veteran of the Atheist wars. There once was a passion burning bright in my breast about religion. I would literally call religious parents and priests child abusers. Not for pedophilia (though that was of course a useful weapon!) but because they are teaching kids what (in my opinion!) is utter nonsense. They are damaging their mental and intellectual and moral development. They are monsters. Or so my old self would have told you long and loudly and quite possibly whether you wanted to hear it or not.

Now that fire has dimmed with age and experience, and I no longer think religious parents and rabbis and the like are evil child abusers. I still think they are wrong, but I now understand they are doing their best to try and raise their kids and other peoples kids with values they think are beneficial. Indoctrination isn't in itself bad. All societies must indoctrinate their children into something. It's the only way to get a cohesive polity. So even though I think they are harming these children (albeit without meaning to), I accept it.

To go back to the original question I would suggest not using any new term at all. Anytime we put labels on groups we don't like it makes it more difficult to be charitable and welcoming to that group, and for me the most important rules of this space are those around writing like we our opponents are reading and we WANT them to be here. My suggestion is simply to address particular instances of behavior without using a particular term for those doing it.

"I find it very worrying that there are teachers who have been revealed to be secretly supportive of kids transitioning without telling their parents. I think this is bad because it robs the parents of their agency, it assumes they are bad people, and because I believe that trans behavior is likely socially conditioned and no child would know at that age. I think that kids supported on this route may well have irreversible harm done to them through puberty blockers and other treatments. I find this to be infuriating at a visceral level."

Now that is a lot wordier than "Did you hear about those groomers trying to sterilize our kids" but it at least gives us specific actions to discuss rather than whether telling kids that masturbation is natural is grooming or whether telling kids masturbation is sinful is emotional abuse. And we are after all at The Motte so we're not scared of a little wordiness are we?

To add on a little more, I do think that both the people who want to teach kids that sex is ok and nothing to be ashamed of and the people who want to teach kids that sex is sinful and shameful both can attract actual pedophiles and abusers. In one case it gives an excuse to broach a subject that can deflect suspicion and in the other it can allow the idea of the shame to coerce kids into not revealing their actions or because the kids don't even realize what it is that is happening through ignorance. Predators will use different tactics in different situations and both situations have failure modes. This absolutely should be kept in mind in both scenarios by everyone who is involved. Most people who want to teach either thing are not pedophiles but both absolutely can and do give cover for "real" child sexual exploitation.

As someone who was involved in anti-CSE activities in government I also am a little worried that using groomers in this context conflates the two and will lead to both false positives and negatives and thus leave kids at more risk of harm. But that cat is probably out of the bag and about to drop a dead bird on the doormat in the wider context unfortunately.

My RE teacher taught me about how Onan was sinful and I very much did not want to be there to learn that. If teaching a kid that is ok to be trans or gay or to masturbate is grooming, then teaching the opposite should also get the same brush

Unlike the UK, US public school teachers are in theory prohibited from religious instruction. But the new religion is of course exempt from such rules.

Well wokeness isn't a religion. Rather the opposite a religion is just an ideology with a supernatural skin on top which is why the behaviors are so often the same. But that doesn't mean it actually IS a religion. You can after all teach trickle down theory and that socialist policies don't work.

I've always thought the distinction between religion and ideology was a crock. Both make claims about the objective world which may or may not be true, and normative claims which are unfalsifiable. If Confucius was born today we'd call Confucianism an ideology; if Hitler lived in ancient Assyria, we'd call him a prophet and Aryanism his religion.

You're right generally but clearly there's something different about the modern 'religions' that don't actually worship any deities, observe any miracles, sacrifice goats, etc, right?

I honestly think that's just presentism. Our ancestors had different magical beliefs than ours. The ancient mediterraneans believed the seas were controlled by fickle entities which could be assuaged with worship, sacrificing goats, etc. We on the other hand believe in an invisible property to human organisms which makes it evil to treat them in certain ways and which ties them normatively to objects. Both ancients and moderns become emotional and angry if you question these beliefs, despite not really being able to justify them.

Assuming our civilization continues to develop, future historians (probably no longer human) might consider this a change in religious fashion, must like how at various periods religions went from mostly animist (no gods there) to mostly polytheism then monotheist (in which gods and God share a word, but serve a different role), then whatever we have now. Changes in the manner of religion usually stem from changes in people's way of life. We post-industrials are in a similar boat to the Romans circa 200, who no longer really believed in the pantheon anymore and were primed to convert to something unrecognizable -- in their case, involving a benevolent omnipotent father surrogate.

There are significant differences between past religions and current progressivism that this doesn't capture, but you're decently correct here. A distinction between religion and ideology in a legal sense, like 'separation of church and state', is sort of incoherent.

Have you read how dawkins got pwned or UR generally? I'd guess so.

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As it happens, whether Confucianism really qualifies as a religion is very debatable…