IO 88: For Shame—Speech Crimes and Ideology
Fifteen years ago James Twitchel’s For Shame: The Loss of Common Decency in American Culture argued for the socially redeeming character of shame: “Shame is the basis of individual responsibility …It is where decency comes from… shame inhibits behavior— that’s the point. It retards action, it increases reticence, it invokes self‑censorship. Its final object is not banishment, but reintegration.”
Twitchell’s book describes a past moral ethos eroded by an ideology of radical sexual freedom that shamelessly rejected the “old ways.” In 1996 Senator Fred Thomson said of Bill Clinton: “He is a man of his times…He literally has no shame.” And Bill agreed, saying: “I do not regard this impeachment vote as some badge of shame.”
But shaming has not disappeared. It is now used to punish speech against the new reigning orthodoxy of politically correct relativism, rather than to condemn personally reprehensible moral acts. People lose their jobs because of one misplaced word. Pat Buchanan recently observed: “The new mortal sins are not filthy talk or immoral conduct, but racism, sexism, homophobia and nativism. The establishment alone defines these sins and enforces the proscriptions against them, from which there is no appeal, only the obligatory apology, the act of contrition and the solemn commitment never to sin again.”
Ideologues control the cultural discourse, and have become the new thought police. This new shaming seeks to seed the collective conscience with new principles of acceptable human behavior, thereby integrating “dissidents” into the reigning new “social conscience.”
Steven Goldstein, of the homosexual Garden State Equality, spoke of a verdict passed on Daharun Ravi, an 18 year old student at Rutgers who was sentenced to ten years in jail for filming his male roommate having sex with another man. This “verdict,” said Goldstein “should serve as a warning to homophobic bullies.” “Kids will be kids,” is no longer a valid excuse. Daharun Ravi was found guilty of “bias intimidation” and “homophobic bullying.” His roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide, which is indeed tragic.
Ravi’s actions were judged as a hate crime, though he threatened no violence. A juror admitted: “You can’t know what someone is thinking. You have to get inside their head.” This is where hate crime legislation and court cases are going—into the heads of a population with new norms of morality— in particular, the unquestioned inviolable right of publicly endorsed homosexual activity.
The speech police were also out in full force against Rush Limbaugh, calling for his removal for labeling Sandra Fluke a “slut.” With no shame, Fluke publicly supported mandated insurance coverage for the contraceptive costs of the busily promiscuous lives of single female Georgetown students like herself. Angelica Huston was beside herself—against Rush. “It’s the Dark Ages,” she shrieked. Her moral outrage was due to her horror that anyone would make a moral judgment about a woman’s sexual behavior. Any such reflection is hyped as a “war on women.” The right to promiscuous sex is endorsed by President Obama, who telephoned Fluke to make sure “she was OK,” and stated that her parents should be proud of her.
Anti-Limbaugh ads urged listeners to call their local station to say “we don’t talk to women like that in our city.” Ironically, liberated college students do talk about themselves that way, having adopted “Slutwalks” as statements of freedom. But all this is child’s play. Hard-core feminists declared years ago: “we must re‑establish the consciousness of the Sacred Prostitute.” Their daughters have listened well.
Fluke’s moment in the sun lifts the veil from what is really going on among our students. The title of an article says it all: “Dorm Brothel…College as Sex Carnival.” At Oberlin College in Ohio, founded in 1833, where Charles Finney served as its second President, every year one third of the student body attends the college-sponsored, administration-approved “Safer Sex Night,” an orgy held on campus during which students sit in booths in g-strings and halter tops, or naked, and visit the “Tent of Consent.” “Slut” is too mild a word.
The real ire is not against the offensive word (a delicious pretext), but against those who presuppose and support the sexual morals of the recent “Dark Ages.” The sleeping giant of feminism has been roused to action, threatening to silence anyone who dares to question its now dominant values.
The hypocritical shaming of those who live by the old standards, seeks to integrate the general public into the new standards of “decency” and “shame”—where evil is good and good is evil–standards that take us into an immoral morass from which we may never extricate ourselves. May God in His grace keep us from a collective conscience “seared as with a hot iron.” Pray for conviction of sin and for repentance, so that we are not utterly judged.