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MacIntyre: Consent-based morality is a disaster
Gilbert Carrasquillo / Contributor | Getty Images

MacIntyre: Consent-based morality is a disaster

A recent BBC documentary on the life of Bill Cosby has suggested that the comedian should have been able to pay consenting women to take drugs and simulate the act of raping an unconscious female. The corpulent “non-binary” sex therapist Sonalee Rashatwar explained to filmmakers, “Sex negativity is what causes this type of behavior” and that in a sex-positive world, Cosby would not have needed to drug and rape unconscious women because he could have purchased a similar experience from consenting prostitutes.

The fact that anyone, especially a BBC documentary, would turn to such a creature for advice on sex or its moral ramifications says everything about the condition of Western civilization. Rashatwar advocated for letting people purchase such experiences in order to “get their kink out” and emphasized that consent should be the only factor necessary to make the exchange socially and legally acceptable. While the statement feels shocking in the specific context of Cosby and his actions, it is simply the logical conclusion of a standard that is regularly applied in our culture today.

Those in Western nations like to believe that they live in an age of secular enlightenment. Reason has, in theory, replaced the backward and outdated notions of cultural tradition and religious taboo. The individual, freed from the artificial constraints of ancient moral codes, can choose for himself what activities are worthy of his time and deserving of his veneration. The government and its related social institutions are to have no preference for one particular moral vison. Instead, the state’s role is to act as a neutral arbiter, facilitating market transactions by enforcing only the most minimal necessary restraints like mutually agreed-upon contracts between two parties.

With so many differing viewpoints on what constitutes the good, the rational individual’s consent becomes the only standard by which the state, and therefore society at large, can judge the moral validity of the action.

This argument works particularly well on conservatives because they are predisposed to the idea of smaller government and market-based solutions. While your average Republican voters may not agree that religious morality or cultural tradition is outdated, they do like the idea of a neutral government whose primary role is to serve as a night watchman, enforcing only the bare minimum of legal norms that facilitate the functions of the market.

In this conception, the church and the personal religious practice of the faithful should be sufficient to perpetuate the continuation of moral tradition. Many conservatives and libertarians hold to the idea that religion and its values belong in a completely separate sphere, which should have little to no impact on the state. They seem willfully oblivious to the difficult truth that people will always look to authority for moral guidance and will inevitably judge that which is permitted by the state as morally acceptable.

It is this ideological slavery to the notion of the morally neutral state and marketplace, this assent to the primacy of consent-based morality, that drove conservatives to cheer on multinational corporations even as they worked to destroy the family, push critical race theory, and champion radical gender ideology.

Progressives find this position compelling because it allows them to dismantle the oppressive Christian patriarchy they so thoroughly loathe and replace it with their own moral vision. Unlike conservatives, progressives are fully aware that the norms perpetuated by social institutions drive culture and have no qualms about using the power of government.

When Christian morality played a more central role in the identity of the nation, directly attacking the tradition generated poor optics. An emphasis on individual choice, a free market, and institutional neutrality, however, was much easier to sell to the general public.

Progressives may complain about the evils of corporate America or the free market, but they are more than happy to use them to dismantle cultural norms that they oppose. That is why the left can simultaneously allege that a college student cannot meaningfully consent to a student loan but that a child can consent to a sex-change operation. Power is the primary goal of the left, and ideological constancy is subordinate to its acquisition.

Consent-based morality and its consequences have been a disaster for America and the wider Western world. It serves as a civilizational acid, dissolving all traditional bonds and duties, leaving the individual isolated and vulnerable to manipulation by more organized and malevolent forces.

When consent is the only moral arbiter, there is no difference between a faithful wife joining herself to her husband and starting a family and a sex worker selling herself to a celebrity who will feed her drugs in order to simulate unconscious rape. Countless women have been convinced that the virtual prostitution of OnlyFans is just as or even more dignified than a traditional marriage, and because they are consenting adults in the marketplace, conservatives have little to say on the matter.

The argument that two consenting adults should be able to engage in whatever behavior they wish is always the starting point, but never the end. A disturbing number of progressive thought leaders in the areas of feminism and queer theory, like Judith Butler and Michel Foucault, advocated for the lowering of the age of sexual consent, or even its complete abolition. Even as we speak, leftists are attempting to rehabilitate pedophiles under the term “minor-attracted persons” in preparation for their inevitable push toward the legalization of the practice.

If you find that charge hyperbolic, simply consider the path the left has traveled when it comes to the issue of transition surgery for minors. The same chattering class who mocked concerned mothers who fought against men being allowed into the women’s bathroom in Target now actively work to cover up the rape of girls by male students who have declared themselves transsexual.

The progressive argument has gone from “no minors are getting transition surgery” to “some minors can consent to transition surgery” to “minors need transition surgery because affirming care saves lives” in the span of just two years. Puberty blockers are presented as a harmless and reversible choice to which elementary school students can consent. And if 8-year-olds can consent to possible chemical castration, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what other activities progressives will determine children can voluntarily participate in.

Courts are already using the notion that children can consent to gender transition to remove them from the authority of parents who disagree. Declaring a child an autonomous individual capable of consent removes the child from the protective authority of his parents and leaves him vulnerable to whatever predations nefarious actors can justify through the logic of the marketplace.

Consent is an often necessary, but never sufficient, condition for determining the morality of an act. Whether we like to admit it or not, each of us exists under authority, both temporal and eternal. Everyone submits to something, be it God, those who master us through the dollar, or the depravity of being controlled by our own weakness and desire. If we do not acknowledge the moral authority of the eternal, we will make ourselves vulnerable to the predations of worldly powers masquerading as facilitators of our own free choice. Our culture must look beyond the thin veneer of consent that facilitates the victimization of the most vulnerable in our society before that justifying ideology reaches its logical conclusion.

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Auron MacIntyre

Auron MacIntyre

BlazeTV Host

Auron MacIntyre is the host of “The Auron MacIntyre Show” and a columnist for Blaze News.
@AuronMacintyre →