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 The New Taboos 

March 19, 2007 
[Originally published by the Universal Press Syndicate, June 23, 1998]
paragraph indentThere are times when, if I had a sense of humor, I’d be tempted to laugh.

paragraph indentOne of these moments occurred last weekend when I watched a panel of talking heads discussing Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s “gaffe” in calling homosexuality a sin, and likening it to addictions like alcoholism. Not one of these tolerant souls dared to say that of course Lott was right, or Today's column is "The New Taboos" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.even that he held a tenable position.

paragraph indentAll of them agreed with Mike McCurry, Bill Clinton’s press secretary, that “we” have known for 25 years (!) that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. I wish I knew who this “we” is who always “know” so many things.

paragraph indentIt’s really not a matter of “knowing” anything, of course. It’s a matter of social pressure among the intelligentsia, who like to erect a dozen new taboos for every old taboo they manage to raze.

paragraph indentWhat it comes to is that your conception of human nature may be not merely wrong, but impolite. If you think God or nature had a purpose in making two sexes, so that sodomy isn’t quite on a par with making babies, please — keep it to yourself!

paragraph indentIn Washington, sodomy isn’t disapproved; but the word sodomy is, and you can damage your career by using it in public. You are expected to let on that you’d be horrified to learn that your son smokes Camels, but proud to learn that he’s gay. Would these be the reactions of any parent you know?

paragraph indentWhat hypocrisy! But such is sophistication. We display our refinement by pretending not to have natural feelings. In the space of a few years, the tradition of millennia is repudiated. What’s more, the repudiation is mandatory for everyone. You might think that a liberal, tolerant society would leave a little room for what, until recently, everyone assumed, but no! — no trace of the old attitude is permitted.

paragraph indentThe one thing liberalism has “zero tolerance” for is the past. We live in a pluralistic society now, where everyone must think and talk alike, in keeping with the latest federal diversity guidelines.

[Breaker quote for The New Taboos: The fashionable conscience]paragraph indentNeedless to say, there is precious little diversity about all this. What you think of homosexuality depends on what you think about other things. Do you believe in God? In a fixed human nature? In the immortality of the soul? In divine revelation? In the Catholic Church? In hell?

paragraph indentThese are just sample questions. We can’t prescribe one attitude toward homosexuality unless we can assume that everyone is in full philosophical, religious, and moral agreement about prior things. It’s typical of today’s Procrustean liberalism that it wants to destroy the depth and solidity of traditional consensus while demanding rigid superficial consensus on its own pet topics.

paragraph indentThe new morality — pro-sex, anti-smoking — claims to be based on scientific and especially hygienic considerations, without the irrational emotions of traditional morality. And yet it’s become painfully obvious that male homosexuality is hazardous to your health, far more hazardous than cigarettes.

paragraph indentIt’s equally obvious that most liberals, having taken sodomy to their bosom, can’t bear to admit this. They can’t even comfortably admit that lesbianism is essentially different from male sodomy, and a lot safer. These free and easy people are still embarrassed by basic differences between the sexes. (Ask one of them whether it’s fair to ban bare chests in public for women but not for men.)

paragraph indentThe pundits who shook their heads over Lott’s “gaffe” were playing it safe by observing the current etiquette. They weren’t speaking as adults who feel any sense of responsibility toward children and adolescents in need of guidance; they were speaking like adolescents who are chiefly worried about what the other kids will think of them if they say something egregiously square.

paragraph indentLott, to his credit, was speaking precisely out of moral concern, not to damn homosexuals, but to help them. Being fashionable was apparently the last thing on his mind. And Washington already has more than enough people whose consciences are always in fashion.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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