[LMB] Is Barr a rapist? or I'm misunderstanding beguilement?

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Thu Aug 1 21:46:44 BST 2019

On Thu, Aug 1, 2019 at 4:32 PM Federico Bergstein <
almirantenaismith at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm reading Knife Children and while Barr is likeable character in it, I
> can't keep out of my head that he is a rapist, I mean, he mind controlled
> Bluebell into having sex with him did he not?.

No, beguilement isn't mind-control.  Particularly not the kind Barr was
using, which doesn't involve affecting the mind directly.  The term is
rather broadly used to encompass both a targeted compulsion and the
side-effects of non-reciprocal ground sharing; Barr's action was of the
second kind.  It is a kind of coercion, though.  In our world, we don't
quite have conceptual categories for what Barr did, which makes it hard for
us to discuss it.

Essentially he cause Bluebell to be motivated to act in a way her normal
inclinations might not have been sufficient to induce her to do.  It's not
like giving a roofie-spiked drink to a woman.  But it's also not like
offering alcoholic drinks in the hopes of reducing inhibitions, since
drinking would be a choice and people know the effects of alcohol, while
Bluebell doesn't know about ground or the details of beguilement enough to
sense the attempt or know she's been affected.  Perhaps a good comparison
would be offering someone a beverage that's been secretly spiked with
alcohol - as the old tradition of putting booze into non-alcoholic punch.

The problem with evaluating Barr's action is that we're told Bluebell found
him attractive and was actively flirting.  So it's hard for us to know the
degree to which her actions were truly changed.  I'd describe them as
between dishonorable and despicable - not a Moral Event Horizon, but
questionable and wrongful.  Perhaps, to use more theological language,

Matt G.

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