Monday, November 07, 2011
God, Lawrence Auster can be dense sometimes
In a notice on his blog, Lawrence Auster indulges in a crotchet he's mentioned several times before: namely, the ostensible hypocrisy of the double standard which liberals engage in when on the one hand they champion sexual freedom (including a belief that morality should not constrain such freedom in the public marketplace of popular culture and politics), and on the other hand they sieze upon the sexual indiscretions of a conservative politician. (In this case, it involves Herman Cain; and it should go without saying that the issues of making allegations unfairly before evidence is determined, and whether he really did the things he's accused of, are important in their own right, but tangential and irrelevant to the matter at hand here.)
Sure, if that was all that was going on in situations like this, Auster would be right. But he's like a monomaniacal bulldog with blinders on, who sees only one tangent, and chomps down on it with a vengeance and won't let go ever again.
The painfully obvious and elementary additional factor going on here, to which Auster is in his typically eccentric way remaining utterly, blissfully oblivious (if a hectic obsession may be termed "blissful") -- a factor that is relevant with perhaps all the cases similar to it (like, for example, the notorious foot-tapping-in-the-rest-room-stall incident involving Republican Larry Craig, or the liaisons with prostitutes by conservative evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, etc.) is this:
1) It's a fact that conservatives (including certain rather actively vocal and visible conservative Christian representatives along with many of their followers) regularly reiterate the principle of limiting sexual freedom through a morality that in many ways directly contravenes the counter-morality of more sexual freedom (deemed simply "immorality", of course, by their conservative opponents, who have a point but not a simplistic one) espoused by the liberals.
2) When, then, a given conservative who represents that morality is discovered to have been indulging in sexual freedom (albeit covertly to escape notice), that is simply a blatant case of hypocrisy, of failing to live up to the standards by which they routinely condemn liberals -- in short, of abysmally failing to "practice what they preach".
3) Liberals who seize upon any of these indiscretions by conservatives that happen to come to light (and/or which have been ferreted out by diligent research-cum-investigations) are simply putting 1 and 2 together, and richly exploiting the hypocrisy.
And it's understandable why liberals would do it: after all, politics has been a fiercely competitive dog-eat-dog world not only for years and decades, but centuries. Indeed, when one reads about the political harangues and acrimony that went on in this great Republic throughout the 19th century, our current imbroglios rather pale in comparison with the red-blooded, robust gusto of the political wranglings of yore.
The broader fact which Auster's blinkered focus seems unable to see is that, in their respective contexts, both sides are wrong. The liberals are wrong for being so promiscuous (pun intended) with the supposed virtue of free sex without regard for its various effects on society. And conservatives are wrong for not owning the abject shame of the hypocritical double standard whenever one of their peers indulges in precisely the sexual freedom his, and their, ideology is supposed to oppose with such valiantly lofty integrity.
And, as should be clear, both sides are right. The liberals are right for pointing out the hypocrisy of the conservatives when these incidents happen. And the conservatives are right for continuing, on a different level unrelated to the hypocrisy, to articulate the principles of public morality (even if in this or that instance or point they may not always be cogent or correct). It is a mutual dilemma, with four "horns", so to speak, apportioned out among the two sides. The unremarkable degree of intelligence it requires to discern these four aspects of the issue evidently escapes Auster.
In this regard, Auster is not only being obtusely monomaniacal, not only rhetorically reckless; he is only exacerbating the shame of the conservative hypocrisy. There is only one way to salvage the conservative integrity of their stand on morals with regard to sexual freedom: Whenever one of their peers gets caught red-handed violating those morals, he should be roundly condemned, and not a peep should be uttered against liberals in that regard.
Only once did I hear a cogent, and interesting seeming exception to this: but it was delivered in a calm, mature and intelligently reserved manner; by William Bennett, some time back in the late 80s I believe. He was referring to this same issue, of the hypocrisy of particular conservatives who are caught violating their own principles. And Bennett responded something to the effect of, "Well, at least we have principles to violate."
But Bennett's witty riposte only acquires rhetorical verve when the particular violation in question is handled by conservatives with appropriate shame and opprobrium against their own; not with antics of juvenile mud-slinging back at the liberals.