Ethics can be a sticky business. You have to come up with a code by which people can make decisions that will provide some benefit to someone. Ask a panel of ethicists whether I should engage in random acts of wholesale slaughter against innocents, and you will (hopefully) get a chorus of resounding “Nos!” In the field of ethics, taking actions to harm others is typically frowned upon.
Things start to get sticky, though, if you’ve made prior arrangements by which you inflict harm on someone else who has agreed to be hurt. You start to enter the realm of, “Well, whatever makes you happy.” But even that runs into problems. If someone consents to have you kill them because they know how much you love killing people, is it ethical to go ahead and kill them?
I think not. The BDSM community came up with certain guidelines regarding what kind of play was good to engage in, and they seem to have settled on “safe, sane and consentual.” Engaging in murder against a consenting adult is not safe by definitions once they end up dead. Also, the adult who consented probably wasn’t sane to begin with.
It’s a decent guideline, but I don’t think it goes far enough. Sure, murder isn’t safe, but what about cutting off random body parts? A more common example, unfortunately, would be the whole total power exchange thing. If I have total power of you, and I decide that you should systematically lose all contact with the outside world, all friends and loved ones, and become so immersed into our little BDSM world that you simply can’t function in society any more, is that ethical? The answer is fairly obvious, “Hell no!”
Whether this kind of consentual abuse passes the muster of safe, sane and consentual is really sticky though. How can the average fat, white trash couple in Boise, Idaho develop a good handle on what is sane to begin with? It’s just too ill defined a definition to be particularly useful.
Of course, the white trash couple is Boise is going to engage in whatever kinds of crazy shit they want to regardless of what I think about it. So it’s not like a more rigorous ethical definition really serves much purpose here, but what about whe they go on the pages of Fetlife and hold their obviously abusive relationship as a model for others to follow? Now the rest of the yokels are presented