This essay is a continuation of my childhood musings. Here I attempt to discover the roots of the taboos, how did they get started, are they still necessary?
|Taboo||Original Purpose||Continuing Necessity|
||Some societies eat the dead as part of funeral rituals, however, diseases such as Kuru are easily passed that way.|
||With the emancipation of women, there is no need for this taboo any longer.|
||Modern day McDonald’s restaurants in Los Angeles place the toilets in the middle of the room where there is no privacy at all. They use the taboo to discourage any washroom use, presumably to reduce the costs of cleaning and upkeep. With modern plumbing, the taboo is no longer needed.|
||India, where this taboo is in place, is now overrun with cows. It no longer makes sense to never to kill them or never to prevent them from breeding. However, generally avoiding meat does make sense on ecological grounds.|
||With modern inspection and proper cooking, this is no longer a danger.|
||With modern monitoring of water quality and refrigeration, shellfish are no longer that dangerous to eat.|
||Now the planet is overpopulated, the taboo is obsolete. Safe sex procedures greatly reduce the risk of promiscuous sex. Closeted homosexuality may have been a way of allowing alpha males to breed more and gay beta males less, while still using the gay beta males to raise the children. In most other mammal species only a small number of males sire the next generation.|
||With better birth control, this taboo could be relaxed, so long as no breeding were attempted. Eventually genetic engineering could make this taboo obsolete.|
||People live much longer now so there is less problem. The issue of informed consent still applies.|
||This has been dropped except in backwaters like rural Alabama.|
||Now the planet is overpopulated, the taboo is obsolete. Condoms could prevent disease in the same way as with humans. The issue of informed consent still applies, though the notion of informed consent is a bit silly given that all animals manage to give or refuse it with body language.|
||Many societies do without it. We have clothing optional beaches and resorts.|
||The average age of puberty was 18 in the 1800s. Today it is 13. Sexual desires start gradually developing somewhat ahead of puberty. It might make sense to look for technology to delay puberty back to its more natural time. This would give children more time to mature emotionally before being hit by the hormone onslaught of puberty. We tend to lump into one basket adults to succumb to the seductions of horny 15 year olds with adults who predate on 8 year olds. With better birth control, I see no reason for continuing the taboo against post-puberty sex.|
Once the reason for a taboo no longer holds, it is only a matter of time before it is relaxed. This can feel very threatening to people still holding the taboo. Once it is relaxed, the ancestors who were holding it look ridiculous and uptight.
The transition as any taboo is relaxed is awkward. The old guard feel threatened. The taboo was conditioned at a very early age. It is thus not subject to logical analysis. The new guard are impatient to get on with the change to a more rational approach.
Even though I suggest that many of the taboos I mention above are obsolete, I personally will feel very uncomfortable if someone starts trying to relax some of them.
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