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The EYE Was In The Bedroom And It Stared At Trudeau

Max Ernst. The Whole City.
(Max Ernst. The Whole City. Source)

1) Explanation of the title

The title of this article is a double oblique reference. Firstly, a former prime minister of Canada, Pierre Eliot Trudeau, is famous for having said that the State had no business in the bedroom of consenting adults.

The second oblique reference concerns "Conscience", a famous poem by Victor Hugo which talks about the punishment of Cain, Mankind's first murderer [Gn 4:8]. Even summarized, this poem is a bit long, and to make things worst, there is no way my sloppy English translation can duplicate the chilling doom of the French original, but nevertheless, give it a try, it's worth it!


CONSCIENCE

[When] Cain had fled from Jehovah's face,
As the night was falling, the sad man arrived
At the foot of a hill set in a rolling plain;
His exhausted wife and out-of-breath sons
Told him: "Let us lie on the ground and sleep."
Cain, unable to sleep, pondered at the foot of the mountain.
Having raised his head, far away in the dark skies,
He saw an EYE, wide open in the darkness,
Which stared at him in a fixed way.
"I am too close", said he, trembling.
He woke up his sleeping sons, his tired wife,
And once more began to flee through the dark spaces.

[...]

And, as he sat down, he saw in the gloomy skies
The EYE in the same place at the bottom of the horizon.
So he shook, grasped by a dark trembling.
"Hide me!" he screamed

[...]

So Tubalcain, Father of blacksmiths,
Built a huge and superhuman city.

[...]

They gave to the walls the thickness of mountains;
On the door they engraved: "God Not Admitted".
When they had finished walling in and shutting out,
They put the ancestor in the center of a stone tower;
And he remained gloomy and gaunt. "Oh, my Father!
Has the EYE disappeared?" said Tsilla in a shaky voice.
And Cain answered: "No, it is still there."
Then he said: "I want to live underground
Like a solitary man in his tomb;
Nothing will see me, and I won't see anything anymore."
So they dug a ditch, and Cain said: "That's good!"
Then he descended alone into that dark hole.
Then when he had sat down on his chair in the shadows
And that over his head they had closed the vault,

The EYE was in the grave and it stared at Cain.

2) The State must respect the privacy of consenting adults

Everybody agrees that, in general, the State has no business sticking its nose in the bedroom of consenting adults.

Why? It seems that the general principle is that the State exists for the good of the citizens. But the private life of citizens is a great good, since it's one of the elements of the peace and freedom required by citizens to fulfill themselves. The State must therefore respect the private life of consenting adults.

On the other hand, I think this principle has been often abused over the past few years.

3) Pierre Eliot Trudeau's magic wallpaper

The consent of adults is not some kind of "magic wallpaper" which covers the walls of Canadian bedrooms, and which prevents the notions of good and evil from penetrating inside.

Let's imagine a few examples to convince ourselves:

3.1) Smoking. If all Canadian adults decided to smoke in their bedrooms, it wouldn't change a thing if they were all consenting! The lungs of Canadians would deteriorate, the costs for the health care system would rise, absenteeism at work would increase, and so on.

3.2) Obesity. If all Canadian adults started to gulp down huge quantities of junk food in their bedrooms, once again, the consent of adults wouldn't protect Canada against the harmful social effects of generalized bad eating habits.

3.3) TV brain softening. If all Canadian adults decided to stop reading, and only learn in bed by watching silly TV programs, our country would suffer sooner or later. Among other things, citizens would become easier to manipulate by large multinational corporations who produce the ads, and who also often decide of the contents of the programs.

3.4) Collective suicide. As an extreme case, we could imagine the case of a religious cult which would spread to the whole country, and which would manage to convince all citizens to commit suicide in their bedrooms (between consenting adults, of course!).

It seems obvious to me that on the one hand, the State must respect people's private lives, but on the other hand, the State can't just do as if nothing was going on, when the Common Good is threatened by private behaviors between consenting adults.

4) What is the Golden Mean between the Bedroom and Parliament?

That's a good question! It appears to me reasonable to assert that:

If a sufficient proportion of consenting adults embrace private behaviors which threaten the Common Good, and that the State can detect and correct (or at least mitigate) these behaviors without overstepping the just limits of people's private lives, then the State must intervene.

The actual application of this principle seems delicate. On the other hand, the State is not powerless, even when not "overstepping the just limits". See among others The Three Different Kinds Of Political Power.

5) Conclusion

So far, we haven't mentioned sex in this article, even if Trudeau's statement specifically targeted immoral sexual behaviors.

Some persons might have laughed when they read item #3.4 above, where I talked about the case of a religious cult which convinced citizens to commit a consensual collective suicide.

Is that case really so far-fetched? Keep in mind that as we speak, French-Canadians are quite simply committing collective suicide, with the contraceptive pill, abortion, divorce, unmarried cohabitation, and the legal glorification of homosexual acts. This "suicide" occurs in private, between consenting adults, but the disastrous results are public and can be observed by anyone.

Trudeau might be in his grave, but the EYE hasn't stopped staring at him.

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