ENTRY 0001, SEPTEMBER 5, 2003

I often hear people on the right complain how decadent our society in the United States has become.  They rail endlessly, bemoaning the fact that we have left "traditional values" behind.  They complain that our TV shows are overly violent or, (Shudder in disgust), very naughty.  They cry out that drugs, alcohol and tobacco are destroying our society. 

Personally, I don't think it's as bad as they say.  Sure, we might have problems with crime and violence in our society.  Films and TV shows do contain violence and sexuality.  Drug abuse and alcoholism might be problems, but are they as bad as the conservatives think?  No.  None of these will actually cause the downfall of American society.  However, I think that the things proposed by the right to "correct" these problems might cause damage to our freedoms, and thus, damage our society at its core.

Interestingly, many conservatives will say that our society is terribly decadent, and that no other society is as "bad" as ours.  If you look at other countries, however, you may find the reverse is true.  A few examples:

As I just mentioned, in Britain, alcohol is not the demon that it is in the U.S., thanks to our Temperance Movement and the Puritans (boy has that influence lasted a long time.)  In Britain, going to the pub and having a pint is no big deal.  Children do not drink, but adults do not freak out and try to protect their innocent little darlings from knowing of the existence of alcohol.  Drinking is just another fact of life.  They acknowledge that adults drink, and it's no big deal.  As a result, I don't think they have as many problems with kids going nuts and getting shitfaced, the way it often happens over here.  Eventually, they will be able to have a pint, and nobody will really care.  Thus, it's not a "forbidden fruit" the way it is in the United States.  Most British towns have more pubs than churches.  Not a bad thing, in my book.

One thing I find annoying about American society is how we try to protect children, to the extent we often act like smoking and drinking don't exist.  When we can't hide the fact, we act like they are evil.  They are not.  They might be, in extreme cases, self-destructive, but moderation, especially in alcohol, does not appear dangerous.  So trying to convince kids it ain't happening won't work.  Kids aren't dumb.  They know what is going on, and to them, all of this posturing seems hypocritical.  Especially when tobacco and alcohol companies do their best to advertise their products to the entire planet.

So, how does this relate to the beginning of this entry, where I talked about the right wing being wrong about our country being too liberal and decadent?  Here is a concrete example from our last trip to England.  It's a comic book, designed for kids. 

comic book cover

As you can see, it's one of those freebies that is put out to help kids understand science.  In this case, it is published by the Rothamsted Research Lab and the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council.  It features five one-page stories about five of the research scientists and the subjects of their studies.  All is well and good.  Then, on the fourth page where we are learning about how Sulphur is good for us, comes a frame that you would NEVER see in a comic designed for children in the United States.

Comic frame from page 4

He mentioned Beer!  In a children's comic!  Just like people might actually enjoy a pint now and then, and it wasn't immoral or anything!

So, the next time a conservative, right-wing whacko goes on about how terribly liberal our country has become, and how we are "far worse" than any other country, ask their criteria, then set them straight.

So, are there countries that conservative would consider "more conservative" than the United States?  Places that might be "on the right track" when it comes to alcohol, drugs, sex and  traditional family values?  Sure.  Places like Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, communist China and Afghanistan all have a strict moral code that sounds amazingly similar to what I have heard from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and his cronies.  The only problem, as far as the Far Right is concerned, is that all these guys worship the wrong god.  Other than that, they have it right. 

America will not be destroyed because some kid finds out that adults like beer and there are boobies on TV.  America might well be destroyed if our fundamental freedoms are taken away in a fit of "Think Of The Children" or in the interests of "National Security". 

But "National Security" is another issue, for another time.

Well, I gotta run.

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