In the last century, Senator Pat Moynihan coined a term for the creeping erosion of our standards and values - he called it defining deviancy down, and it referred to our escalating acceptance of abnormal behavior in mainstream society. One of the handmaidens of this worsening tendency is the media which exposes us to a barrage of borderline perversity as if that were just another lifestyle or artistic choice. An example is the front page article in the Style section of the NYTimes (2/28) titled, “A Hush-Hush Topic No More.” The accompanying photograph is of two people in what appears to be a cage: the seated woman sports a prim hairdo, blouse and jacket, her bare legs in shiny patent leather pumps rest on an ottoman while before her, an unclothed man lies bent over, head at her feet, in a submissive pose. The article details the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, a documentary called Kink, a student group devoted to kinky predilections at Harvard called The Harvard Munch Club, and The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense & Education Fund (surprisingly not acronym friendly) which seeks to pressure the American Psychiatric Association to depathologize certain sexual practices so that people who enjoy them don’t face discrimination. One can only wonder what questions would come up in a job interview or a real estate purchase that would result in such discrimination, but the truth is that the organization is seeking something else and that is normalization.
Following on the trail of the LGBT movement, we now have the patrons of the BDSM movement (Bondage,Discipline,Dominance,Submission, Sadism and Masochism). Apparently it is no longer enough in the free-range climate of America to indulge your fetishes at various clubs and online without harassment - this group wants to wave its flag and force our approval as well. If you’re asking where’s the harm when consenting adults agree to sexual games, consider the case before the court right now. A former policeman is being tried for conspiracy to kidnap, rape, roast and eat several women whose pictures he posted on the kinky website he frequented; one of the women was his wife - others were his friends. The most frightening part of this case is that a thousand people are online having these conversations and making these plans. The defense claims that this was strictly fantasy but real people were put in harm’s way and understandably, in fear for their lives. The most depraved fantasies of disturbed people have now become the stuff of newspaper headlines and articles that schoolchildren can read. Is this what deserves protection from discrimination? Is this what deserves the protection of the First Amendment?
The NY Times is one of the worst offenders in the race to define deviancy as low as it can go. Their reviewers have covered dance performances involving lewd sexual acts, autobiographies of pornographers and today’s lengthy article which becomes a manual for where to go in the city and online to enjoy these activities. Parents who monitor their children’s reading material would probably be pleased to see their teenagers perusing the Times instead of Penthouse - how misguided they would be. For a newspaper as concerned about rape victims and abused children as their editorials claim, the focus on and tacit approval of perversions bespeaks a cognitive dissonance that doesn’t withstand moral scrutiny. Pretending that this article deals with folks just like you and me, the writer states: “Many in the kink communities see education as an essential part of breakiing down people’s assumptions as well as for creating best practices among participants. The Eulenspiegel Society offers workshops and demonstrations on activities ranging from caning to waterboarding (”Bringing the infamous torture technique out of Gitmo and into your dungeon,” the organization’s Web site states.”) All the news that’s fit to print? Even the prescient Senator Moynihan could not have predicted a decline as precipitous and noxious as this. Our zoning boards prohibit bars from being in proximity to schools. The odds of children being hurt by alcoholics are miniscule compared to the danger of their contamination by the insatiable salaciousness of the NY Times.
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