A couple of weeks ago, when discussing conspiracies, our Daily Links pointed to Crisis Magazine’s “The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims,” bringing you the story of poor Danny, downtrodden and confused by the culture the hippies forced him to live in, despite the best attempts of his staunchly (perhaps blindly?) morally upright extended family. Well, now there’s a second act to this tragedy, written once again by contributor, Anthony Esolen. The story this time around is a little more sympathetic than the first (due to the fact that this time the author doesn’t play an active role that he either misunderstands or misrepresents). But, the start to the article is worth noting: “One thing that defenders of the sexual revolution will not understand,” it reads:
“…is that, although the act of intercourse is private, everything else about sex is public… It is that our customs and moral directives regarding the sexes and their union determine what kind of people we will be. They are the language we all must speak. There is no such thing as a private language.”
Other than the fact that properly participating in both involves having a functioning and responsive tongue (yes, Mr. Esolen, that’s a reference to non-procreative sex, the WORST KIND), The Revealer has to say that it doesn’t see the correlation between language and sex quite so clearly. Sex is only public for celebrities. And even then it’s just, “who’s having sex with who,” not “what are they doing in there!?” But language about sex, now that’s a different story. And since, as Mr. Esolen is so quick to suggest, “moral directives regarding the sexes” (read: language about sex) determines what type of people we will be, let’s take a look at what kind of people our moral friends on the Right and at Crisis are helping to create (yes, yes, I’m lumping them all into a mega-Right conglomerate to make a point!).
Let’s start with the language surrounding the word “homosexual.” It turns out that the Knights of Columbus, long the staunch paternalist protectors of the immigrant in America, have quietly been donating over $15 million to support anti-marriage equality amendments and organizations since 2005. What’s more, the $2 annual membership assessment for the “Culture of Life Fund,” gets put toward these donations, donations which are categorized as going to organizations that support “religious liberty.” Since religious liberty involves not having to see other people enjoying life if that life doesn’t align with your religious convictions, I guess.
But wait, there’s more. In the past we shared a link concerning the American Family Association’s attempt to stop “Mix-it-up-at-Lunch” Day; this one suggests that it was all part of the AFA’s on-going attack on the Southern Poverty Law Center, who organized the event.
The Religious Right can’t possibly have a problem with the impoverished, right? I mean, there’s at least the misunderstood Leviticus 22:10 to fall back on when asked for “justification” of their treatment of homosexuality, but last time I looked through the New Testament, I seem to remember an entire gospel dedicated to loving the poor and helping those less fortunate than yourself. It seems, however, that some Republican members of the state legislature of Pennsylvania have other ideas.
Couched in the terms of “Temporary Assistance to Needy Families” (emphasis on Temporary), the PA legislature proposed an amendment this week that would eliminate those already receiving benefits from receiving an increase of the funds they “enjoy” when they have a child. There’s an exception in place for women who are pregnant as the result of a rape. But only if they reported it and can prove it. This comes from the state that responded to the Affordable Health Care Act by ratifying a bill banning the coverage of abortions in government-granted insurance policies without buying into an additional insurance policy. Pennsylvania is also the state with the most high-profile Democratic defector in the Senate’s vote on contraceptive rights in March. Glossing over the number of sexual assaults not reported — 54% — (and thus not eligible for increased aid under this proposed law), there’s also the simple fact that the logic of cutting social services in creative ways to “decrease the deficit” results in horrific individual situations.
This view, propounded by the likes of John Boehnor and other Republican Senators as the only available solution on the national level, has received a unique form of verbal justification in recent days, as well: Jonathan Haidt’s new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. As this link to the Boston Review’s take on the book shows, Haidt develops a six-pronged theory of morality… and then throws in the gem that liberals are engaged with about one and a half of them and have no appreciation for the others, while conservatives are strong on all six. He then sums up his argument by saying that, “conservatives rightly value stable communities; liberals are blinded by the needs of individuals.” I’d like to congratulate the Boston for putting up a review of the book so complete that no one needs to bother buying it.
So this really does come down to a matter of language. For conservatives the “sexual revolution” has created a failed, unstable societal system, one in which the fat (social spending) needs to be trimmed to reinstill a little order. It’s funny, though, because that’s a big mouthful of words, and what The Revealer sees can be summed up with four: Legally legitimated cyclical poverty. Good ol’ Anthony over at Crisis isn’t wrong about the language we use and how it creates subjects in the world, he just doesn’t go on to announce that the only subject his language accommodates is at least middle-class, heterosexual, and committed to outdated (excuse me, traditional) modes of sexual practice.
But conservatives aren’t the only ones engaging in rhetorical screwjobs. The liberals sometimes jump on the bandwagon, as well. And then there’s Amy Sullivan who has an intelligent article over at The New Republic that sums up liberal reactions to Richard Mourdock’s recent statements about abortion and rape. She makes an excellent point. If the problem is the policy being put in place, then why get all bent out of shape about the language used to justify it? It’s the lack of compassion in these statements, not the specific viewpoints expounded that matter. Say what you will about “speaking to large cultural forces,” etc., but the simple fact remains that jumping on soundbites is a popular technique on both the left and the right because it’s easy – easier than soberly addressing the “larger cultural forces” and oligarchic legal and political tendencies at play.
But enough depressing talk of language and oppression and other ills in the world! We’d like to leave you on a happy note. So we’ll start with this excellent interview of Cornel West by Revealer summer intern Joe McKnight for Vice magazine. Check out that first image. Between the ‘fro, dapper outfit, and effusive (dare I say, “Charismatic?”) manner, it’s easy to imagine that West is one who gets, if not a lot of public sex, at least a lot of public offers. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Esolen.