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
shows do contain violence and sexuality. Drug abuse and
might be problems, but are they as bad as the conservatives
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
at other countries, however, you may find the reverse is true. A
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.
- Italian, French, German and
English television routinely displays nudity and sexuality in their
programs. Nudity and sexuality to an extent that if it were in an
American film, it would earn a rating of "R". Surprisingly,
violence is much less common than on American television.
- Holland has legalized
prostitution and many drugs have been decriminalized.
- "Adult" stores are common in
most european countries, and are popular with most sectors of society.
- In most of Europe, alcohol and
tobacco have not been demonized to the extent that they have been in
the United States.
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.
when tobacco and alcohol companies do their best to advertise their
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.
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
Research Lab and the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research
It features five one-page stories about five of the research scientists
the subjects of their studies. All is well and good. Then,
the fourth page where we are learning about how Sulphur is good for us,
a frame that you would NEVER see in a comic designed for children in
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
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
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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