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Enforcing Gorean Ritual

Subject: Enforcing Gorean Ritual
by Simon on 2007/5/16 19:47:58

Greetings, Folks.

Every once in a while the issue is raised of whether the moderator(s) of a Gorean themed forum should actively enforce Gorean behaviour and ritual. Usually, this subject is introduced by questions like "should slaves be allowed to change status and declare themselves free?", "should slaves be allowed to interfere in discussions among the free?", or "should slaves be punished publicly for disrespectful behaviour toward the free?". For some, these matters are utterly irrelevant, yet, for others they gnaw at the core of their identity; they cannot be dismissed or neglected, and so they return, over and over again, in the in-boxes of moderators, to exhort either a change in forum rules, or a well written explanation of the decision to remain impartial. The latter is my current objective.

Mostly, the requests to coerce Gorean ritual are founded upon one or more of the following four arguments:

  • "I am a Gorean life-styler, and on a Gorean forum I expect Gorean rules to apply".
  • "If you choose to base your life, actions and attitudes upon Gorean philosophy, others, specially those who share that life-style, have the right to expect and if necessary, enforce the compliancy to the prescribed etiquette of a Gorean relationship."
  • "It's in the books, and to honour John Norman, a Gorean website should promote Gorean ideals and adhere to Gorean ritual."
  • "Slaves have a different set of standards and ideals than the free. They should be separated and only allowed to talk amongst themselves."

I will address these four arguments separately.

The Fundamentalist Argument

Quote:
I am a Gorean life-styler, and on a Gorean forum I expect Gorean rules to apply.

Whatever belief system one chooses to follow, be it religious or philosophical, that choice itself is strictly a personal one, and one should be very cautious and prudent when propagating ones own belief system amongst others. Preaching, expounding and convincing is one thing, but commanding, enforcing and penalizing are totally different terms. The right to choose ones own, private worldview, ethics and morality automatically implies the equal right of others to choose differently. The labels and categories one attaches to such psychological systems are merely superficial, stereotypes, abstractions of a reality that goes far beyond the reaches of language and understanding. In finding ones own, personal place within that intricate, unintelligible, violent, relentless and yet so very beautiful and satisfying world outside, one should first and foremost strive to achieve insight, to acceptance and understanding, righteousness and integrity, honour, respect and above all, love, faith and hope. The urge to actively enforce certain behaviours and rituals upon others, without addressing the internal drives and dispositions from which these behaviours should naturally arise, is both counter-productive in a educational sense, and reprehensible in a instinctually humane, well-balanced adult, traditionally ethical sense. Freedom, after all, is the foundation of the human state.

The Peer Pressure Argument

Quote:
If you choose to base your life, actions and attitudes upon Gorean philosophy, others, specially those who share that life-style, have the right to expect and if necessary, enforce the compliancy to the prescribed etiquette of a Gorean relationship.

This peer pressure, itself, perhaps, forthcoming from a genuine and deep-felt desire to purify and protect a shared belief system, might well be justifiable within the constraints of small, real life groups or societies of followers of John Norman's writings. The Internet, however, and hence, this website, is a world-wide phenomenon. As with all philosophies, different people tend to interpret and react to it in different ways; some strive to follow it by the letter, other by intent; some incorporate it in their day to day activities, others are content with contemplation and analysis; some feel they should adopt all its rigid rules and regulations; other pick and choose, you might say, only those aspects that seem important to them. With such a degree of variation and multiplicity of interpretation and acceptance of the Gorean philosophy, even within the boundaries of those that clearly state to 'be' Gorean, it must be obvious, I hope, that on the even broader scale, a world-wide scale, that of a fan-site, a website not only for experienced life-stylers, or role-players, but also, and equally importantly so, for just plain fans of science fiction and fantasy, for novices and strangers alike, for those who are merely interested, or perhaps, simply intrigued; the diversity of this website's public obliterates the peer pressure argument. Diversity, after all, is a cornerstone of the Gorean world-view.

The Honourable Argument

Quote:
It's in the books, and to honour John Norman, a Gorean website should promote Gorean ideals and adhere to Gorean ritual.

To many, even to the author himself, the Chronicles of Gor are not meant as a how-to-live-ones-life type of manual or guide-book; on the contrary, the series, though surely targeted upon recognition and the rational acceptance of previously unknown, perhaps even suppressed, emotional and instinctual needs and motives; is surely to be seen as a conceptual dislocation, an imaginary society and culture that does not in fact exist, but is predicated on one's own, known society; a society that develops and advances out of one's own in some awkward way, perhaps, you might say, intentionally exaggerated, perpendicular kind of way; to make the reader unsure, confused about one's own opinions and prejudices, and their application in different, yet unforeseen, environments and situations; tousled and tangled about the perceived yet unexpected resemblance between what seemed to be real and what seemed to be mere fantasy, and finally, in a convulsive shock of dysrecognition, the acceptance of knowledge, the enlightenment, the relief and satisfaction of an enhanced form of vision, a new way of seeing; a new set of colours; each more beautiful then one could ever dream of. To learn from these books, after all, is to truly honour its author.

The Discriminating Argument

Quote:
Slaves have a different set of standards and ideals than the free. They should be separated and only allowed to talk amongst themselves.

Sometime in our human history, Europeans were seen as different, and regardless of their origin or skills, they were separated and silenced, slandered and sacrificed, treated like mere animals, and, at a whim, by the thousands, simply killed. Sometime in our human history, white, yellow, brown, red, and black skincolor was seen as different, and regardless of their origin or skills, they were separated and silenced, slandered and sacrificed, treated like mere animals, and, at a whim, by the thousands, simply killed. Sometime in our human history, the female gender was seen as different, and regardless of their origin or skills, they were separated and silenced, slandered and sacrificed, treated like mere animals, and, at a whim, by the thousands, simply killed. Let's not make those mistakes ever again. Let's be proud upon our differences and cherish our equality. After all, we're still human, right?

To be sure, the answer is no - we will not enforce Gorean behaviour and ritual.

Take care,
Simon (The Elder)

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