Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

On excitement and violence

Wanted to link to a discussion on Crooked Timber, but it's been down for ages. There was a discussion there about Volokh's post about torture. One anti-torture advocate said 'we must acknowledge the sexual interest some people have in torture - myself included', to which a pro-torture advocate responded 'that's disgusting - anyone who admits to sexual interest in torture should be imprisoned' (hyperbole I assume) and later 'You (liberals) are anti-torture because you find it sexy and attractive, while we neocons are pro-torture because we can trust ourselves not to get excited by it'.

I think this argument is completely spurious, but it does add an interesting additional dimension to the debate. I personally am not excited by torture, though I am quite excited by fighting - a practice which is almost as destructive and negative. Many fanfiction writers do put scenes of torture and suffering into their work, as do professional writers of all genres. It can be hard to read, but it can also enhance the work - often both things are true.

I think there is a difference between being excited (or otherwise positive) about the representation of violence, and wishing to promote violence in real life. My guess is that people who are clear to themselves about what they are excited by are more able to keep a distance between their own shady desires and destructive actions in real life. Being clear that I like films where men fight each other, I think I am less likely to cheer on a war.

In contrast I suspect that some people who advocate war, torture, the death penalty etc. do so for sexual reasons which they have repressed quite tightly.

Having said all that I think that I would be wary of trusting a guy who said he was excited by thoughts of dismembering women. I know I contradict myself.
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