I have been known to urge the world at large, “Behave better so that I can feel like I’m being naughty!”
Nature meant me to be naughty. Not a fallen woman or a strumpet, merely naughty. I am the sort of woman who in another era would have been a king’s mistress. Had I lived in an era when respectable women wore only face powder, I would have worn rouge. Had I lived in an era when ladies did not smoke or drink spirits, I would have done both. Had I lived in an era when good girls let their hair stay whatever color their chromosomes had inflicted on it, I would have dyed it. Had I lived before the 1960’s, I would have had a collection of French postcards and perhaps a copy of The One Thousand and One Nights. I’m reminded of my saintly grandmother, who shocked her fellow churchgoers by boldly stating that she had read Forever Amber. (It had no observable effect on her behavior.)
Nowadays, of course, the sort of art and literature I find titillating is quaintly old-fashioned, preteen girls routinely enhance the coloring of their hair and faces to hues never found in nature, someone who (like myself) has never used illegal substances is considered square, and the double entendres with which I could have had a ball shocking people pale before the obscenity found in shampoo commercials. At least I can still shock people by smoking.
This is on my mind partly because today the blogs I follow yielded several posts about something that should not be a political issue: homosexuality. In saner times, homosexuality was a perversion indulged in secretly by some people who just couldn’t help themselves. If an unlucky king had this affliction, the misfortunes of his subjects were blamed upon his sin, but aside from that, it was a trivial matter that hardly anybody cared about.
Nowadays, thanks to the completely inappropriate politicization of homosexuality by the Frankfurt School, homosexuality has become something it never was before: a threat to civilized society. I cannot imagine that this has done homosexuals any favors. Essentially, the result is that most of them believe that if they do not join with the forces of evil, they will never be left to carry out their perversions in peace. This political exploitation of people who are already saddled with a difficult burden by nature is shameful. It has also been quite successful. Take the case of these children who have been put in the care of a gay couple despite having grandparents eager to care for them. (Hat tip Irish Tory.) The only possible reason for this immoral interference in the biological family is that the social workers believed that the gay couple would do a better job of indoctrinating the children in leftist ideology than their own grandparents would have. They are probably correct, but I cannot help but think with amusement of a Log Cabin Republican of my acquaintance who is one of the most right-wing people currently drawing breath. (She likes to say that Rush Limbaugh would be perfect if only he were a little more conservative.) Had she been one of the prospective adoptors, I rather think that the social workers would have deemed the biological grandparents to be young enough to care for children after all.
Another politicized vice is that of fornication. In the past, everyone understood that given fallible human nature, some people would have sex before marriage, in which case the couple were expected to marry posthaste in most cases. Adultery was also accepted, not as something morally permissible, but as something which would unfortunately happen from time to time, and most people’s reaction to an unfaithful spouse was to find some way of keeping the marriage functioning so as not to damage the children, the social position, and so on. Nowadays, of course, adultery is a reason to tear the home apart, because the pleasure of the adults is considered more important than the needs of their children. And fornication is considered such a basic human right that women are even believed justified in murdering any consequences that inconvenience them in their pursuit of physical gratification.
The unfortunate result is that by contrast, civilized people (known as “conservatives” or “tradionalists”) have been forced to demand unrealistically high standards of conduct of people in a society that does not support even the barest amount of self-control. This reactionary puritanism is probably inevitable, but it deters many people who would rather live in a civilized society from joining us; they find the saintly standards we are having to hold up quite understandably daunting. Once when I expressed disapproval of prostitution, someone else reminded me of one of my own vices and informed me that it ought to make me “more open-minded”. People have come to believe that only a saint can have any standards.
In times when general standards were higher, conservatives had a matter-of-fact acceptance of vice, because we understand the fallibility of human nature. Indeed, to an extent, we still have it. Ann Coulter cheerfully acknowledges that at times she has lived on cigarettes and champagne and that in her days of gainful employment, she and her then-boyfriend used to “make out” in the stairwell. Republicans laughed long and hard a few years ago at the vaporings of liberals when it was discovered that a prominent conservative whose name I cannot recall was a poker player, as was the late Senator McCarthy. P. J. O’Rourke was driven to invent the “Republican Party Reptile” to describe conservatives who are not entirely chaste.
On the other hand, we are forced to waste time arguing about people’s sex lives, and we can’t avoid it because progressives are using the “right” to sexual indulgence as justification for legislation. Gay marriage is the least of it (and the institution of marriage is now so damaged that I can’t see why homosexuals would want any part of it anyhow); it’s used to support abortion, easy divorce, the legal preying of grown men upon fourteen-year-olds of both sexes in some European countries, entrusting helpless children to porn stars, sex education that involves such things as forcing young children to tell their classmates their sexual fantasies and telling kindergarteners about the most extreme acts, and the “right” of billboards, television and magazines to make pornography, not availabe to adults, but inescapable by anyone. Fighting all of this requires stating the traditional sexual ethic in pure, undiluted form. In the past, an author writing a novel about adultery was a trivial matter; today, progressives will seize upon the slightest irregularity as a wedge for their unbridled debauchery.
I do not have a solution for our current excessive puritanism, except to remind my fellow conservatives and traditionalists that it is a reaction, not our proper habit.