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I remember reading somewhere that in early America, the way a couple knew they were serious is that they were, uh, you know. But they'd normally get married thereafter, especially if one of them got pregnant (which one was not made clear in the source material, but I'm pretty sure it was the woman).

I understand the concerns about premarital sex, because it is within marriage that sex fulfills its deepest meanings, both spiritually and biologically. However, I personally believe that more important than the timing issue is the numbers issue: monogamy. Even serial monogamy is safer, both emotionally and physically, than the multiple partner mania that the Cultural Revolution ushered in (thanks again, you stinking filthy hippies, for messing up a good and decent culture!).

Tom, I'm really surprised by you sometimes. Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but I thought you were Christian. I realize, of course, that there is great variation within that designation, but even so, I find it surprising that you find it so easy to laugh off the decay of moral values, especially since morality in America has always meant Christian morality.

People complain about the "repression" of the 50s, as though the norms of public decency that the Cultural Revolution of the 60s destroyed were somehow harmful. Are we really better off now? Is our society a safer, healthier place because little girls dress like prostitutes, Madonna frenches Britney, Janet Jackson has "costume malfunctions," and people are free to get a wide array of STDs through casual sex?

By the way, speaking of Republicans, when are you going to write an entry on all the Republicans who complained about "stolen elections" and "massive fraud" in November? I'm guessing it'll be about the 15th of Never, because Republicans don't make false accusations of wrongdoing when they're defeated. Unlke the wimps in the Democratic Party, Republicans accept their defeat with a modicum of decorum and decency.

It would be both manly and decent of you to retract your statement that the Republicans were going to engage in the same cry-baby tactics that the Democrats love so well.

Thank you, Squidley, for reminding us that only Republicans are good Christians. Oh, and you should be thankful that, by nature, Democrats question injustice. You're welcome for civil rights, women's suffrage, etc.

And what is decent about back pedaling on staying the course, the minimum wage and so on now that the nation has sent a message to Washington that we don't want what the Republicans are selling anymore? Way to be a strong leader, W.

Squid says:
"Tom, I'm really surprised by you sometimes. Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but I thought you were Christian. I realize, of course, that there is great variation within that designation, but even so, I find it surprising that you find it so easy to laugh off the decay of moral values, especially since morality in America has always meant Christian morality."

Tom replies:
I am a Christian, and it's not your role, Squid, to question that. I'm a very bad Christian, admittedly.

My issue with sanctimonious Christians is their sanctimony, their willingness to judge the faith of others when they've been specifically enjoined by the Savior from doing that.

My point in this particular posting is, assuming the data to be true, there are an awful lot of sanctimonious Christians out there who've done just what they're adamant that others shouldn't do. Instead of shutting up and proclaiming the love Christ unambiguously instructed them to proclaim, they're holding themselves up in judgment of others.

I do that, too, by the way. As I mentioned, I'm a very bad Christian.

And as for "the decay of moral values," you might reread the posting. The whole point is that moral values haven't decayed as much as some people think. There are simply more sanctimonious hypocrites out there bemoaning the behavior they themselves have indulged in.

Recognition of that is recognition of irony; humor, in other words, one of the great gifts of our Creator. Perhaps you will celebrate the Lord by enjoying that gift one day.

And I thought I was the only one who could start a "Flame War"!


You seem to be reading something other than what I wrote. I wrote one comment about morality, and another, unrelated one about politics. I made no link between political party and one's ability to be a good Christian.

You mention Civil Rights and women's suffrage. Here's one that'll throw you for a loop: have the Civil Rights movement and women's suffrage been good for America?

Before you knee-jerk a "yes," pause to think about how both have changed our society. Are racial preferences--oops, I mean Affirmative Action--a good thing? Has the destruction of the moral legitimacy of the historic white majority been beneficial? Have racial group rights and the demand for equality of results made America more fair? Has the feminization of the service academies (West Point, Annapolis, etc.) made our armed forces better prepared for battle? Has the quasi-socialistic nanny-state agenda pursued by many female politicians been of net benefit for the country? Has the increase in both the size of the government and the amount of its spending that accompanied female enfranchisement made this a better place to live? Does the non-judgementalism that both movements engendered improve society at large?

Just some thoughts. Further exploration of them here:



Even if you don't follow the other links, check out this graph:


My apologies. I do not mean to question your faith, and I do not mean to offend you. However, I point out contradictions where I see them; whether or not they are there is another matter.

What I was trying to point out was that your apparent lack of concern over societal decay (a decay that is far more advanced than you seem willing to admit) is perhaps not congruent with Christian faith. Traditionally, Christians have stood for morality, both public and private. Yes, many people are bad Christians, and some even hypocritical, but that doesn't detract from the ideals we should be striving to reach.

You may be surprised to know that I am considered by those who know me to have a good sense of humor. It's just that I don't find the constant degradation of, and attacks against, our culture to be particularly amusing. (No, I'm not accusing you of those particular "crimes," though you do aid and abet. And yet I read your blog anyway! Strange....)


Another couple of thoughts. Just because I question the value of something, e.g., universal suffrage, doesn't mean I'm necessarily against it.

Also, I think we'd probably agree about W. I find him to be more dishonest than Clinton, and one of our worst presidents ever. Throughout his life, he has squandered what his predecessors have worked so hard to build. He continues to do this in his current position.

Finally, minimum wage laws ultimately hurt entry-level workers by depriving them of employment. Is that a good thing? There's a reason why most economists oppose such laws. The free market works a lot better than a socialist command economy.

Squid: I'm gonna need a day or two to get over my shock that a person would write such things in 21st century America before I construct a response. "Have the civil rights movement and women's suffrage been good for America?" Wow. I'm all for intelligent debate and discussion, but if you would even approach that with a mindset of arguing "no" then there's probably little use in the discussion at all.

I'll ponder and repost later. Have a happy holiday, if you can stand one in a world with women and minorities.

Just because most people do a certain thing doesn't mean it should be the ideal in a society. The question is is it right or wrong to try to encourage or discourage forms of behavior. Western society (and probably most societies) have discouraged pre-marital sex for centuries at least. Conditions change, but out-of-wedlock sex meant and still means in many cases a child in a single-parent family. Up until the very recent past, this was a bad thing for the child. It may still be, but I'll admit that's open for discussion.

Tom's simplistic laugh at the apparent hypocracy of "the cultural right-wing" just because everybody does what they supposedly frown on is ridiculous. Maybe he's right to condemn an outdated cultural restriction maybe not, but he gives zero justification for believing one thing or another. Tom, if everybody jumped off a cliff...?

OK, let's take it from the top:

Squidley: my "apparent lack of concern over societal decay" is accurate in the same sense that it's been a long time since I stopped beating my wife. It's not simply that I refuse to admit the decay; it's that the kind of civilization-threatening societal decay your statement presumes doesn't exist.

Every generation in human history has decried the morals of the following generation. The 1950s exemplar upon which Republican social conservatives are fixated was broadly condemned by the generation to come before. Read, sometime, the condemnations during World War II of the salaciousness of B-17 nose art, the obscenity that was the jitterbug, and the open sluttiness of artificially curled hair. Quaint, by modern standards, but each a subject of vehement public debate and absolute sureness that the world was going to hell. Somehow, it didn't.

Condemnation of certain behaviors is only one side of the moral coin, however. Remember also the conditions the old morality accepted. Remember that those up-in-arms about patent leather shoes and transparent silk blouses had no moral problem with institutional racism, religious discrimination, and an economic system that allowed employers to carelessly endanger the lives of their employees if it meant a few extra dollars of corporate profit.

Perspective might suggest that you should balance your hell-in-a-handbasket tirades with an acknowledgment of the ways in which society has morally improved. I think it's a great moral leap forward that inter-racial marriage is legal in all 50 states. It was barely a generation ago that courts accepted unwanted homosexual solicitation as justification for murder. There is no doubt in my mind that the best aspects of the environmental movement are a moral improvement over the poor environmental stewardship of the past, when poisoning your neighbor for your own convenience was pretty much how the world worked.

It's also worth remembering that when the Titanic sank, the crew thought nothing of locking the poor people in Third Class below decks to drown while the First Class passengers were escorted to lifeboats. Surely that's a moral transgression, and surely you can't be nostalgic for a world in which rich people enjoy a different basic right to life than the rest of us.

All societies have moral ups and downs because all societies change and much change has a moral component. My complaint about moral crusaders is that they fixate on a few changes of particular significance to them, and ignore the rest. In the case of today's cultural conservatives, that means the right is in a nearly constant tizzy about sex, even as they ignore other moral issues that don't tickle their personal neuroses. Hence we have politicized Christians ignoring Christ's teachings about caring for the poor in order to dedicate themselves to getting Howard Stern off the air.

Perspective, while valuable, does not, alone, solve the problem of politicizing morality. That's because it's not possible to get people to agree on whether some obvious societal changes are improvements or symptoms of decay. For example, I, personally, believe that the gay rights movement is highly moral. Today's open, monogamous homosexuality is a vast moral improvement over the furtive, guilt-ridden, destructive homosexuality that exists in societies that use government to repress homosexuality. Societies, I should point out, like the one culture warriors like you, Squidley, advocate.

Also, just to have a go at another of Squidley's pet peaves, I believe that immigration is a moral issue, and that the anti-immigrant default position of the right is morally wrong. This country exists to welcome the tired and poor of other nations. Accepting immigrants is one of our country's core moral missions, and it is one that the far right would abandon entirely for the sake of freezing our culture in a kind of amber, stopping change in a way that change has never been stopped in any society in the history of the world -- with the possible exception of Imperial Japan. Is Imperial Japan what you really think the United States should be?

All of that said, let me cite another moral imperative: Squid, you've got a right to rail against anything you want. Put a sign on your yard, buy TV time, or stand on a street corner and speechify. Just don't try to get the government to enforce, literally at the point of a gun, your own personal interpretation of what's right and what's wrong. You don't have the right to do that and, under our highly moral governmental system, the majority doesn't have the right to do that, either.

Which brings me to Mark and his statement: "Just because most people do a certain thing doesn't mean it should be the ideal in a society. The question is is it right or wrong to try to encourage or discourage forms of behavior."

I, certainly, am not talking about holding up premarital sex as an ideal. I'm simply advocating against turning it and its aspects into crimes. That is, without question, the position of the far right, which in the name of improving us all wants to outlaw sodomy, vibrators, and dirty websites, among many other things, always in the name of "protecting the children." The sex statistics cited in the above posting indicate that we surely have moral transgressors who -- like the spawn of immigrants who now want to build a wall around the shining city on the hill -- wish to use the mechanisms of government to inflict punishment that they, themselves, avoided.

There is considerable gap between holding something up as an ideal and criminalizing it. That considerable gap is where, in a free society, most human behavior belongs.

Tom, I accept that you're not trying to hold pre-marital sex up as the ideal. But, the Ideal you were condemning is Not having pre-marital sex. That's the ideal that you're arguing we should tear down. And I haven't heard of anyone being prosecuted for pre-marital sex in...decades at least? So, let's forget your strawman that Squid is conveniently setting up for you. What you're talking about is social conservatives hypocritically condemning pre-marital sex. I'm saying it's not hypocritical, it's an Ideal that should still be the Ideal, even if it's not observed to a great extent. Do you think condemnation of underage drinking should be abolished too? Everyone does it, so no problem? Though I don't have statistics to throw at you, I'm sure statistics can be found that shows children born to single-parents have far more trouble in life than those born to two parents. Probably trouble on par with underage drinking. So, no problem, right? Condemn those hypocritical ex-underage drinkers who now criticize and pass laws against things they themselves once did?

That's not hypocritical; that's knowing what's right for society. And sometimes we can be hypocritical, but still right in what we say. Nuance. Get some.

I lived a year with my wife before I married her. My pastor noted that the church frowns on that behavior, but then married us. My son is living with his fiance. Our pastor noted to them that the church frowns on that behavior, but he will marry them this Saturday.

Don't get your panties in a knot over the hypocracy.

Just wanted to shout out a big "Amen" to Tom's last entry.


I suppose I should have phrased the question differently: have the Civil Rights movement and women's suffrage been good, without reservation, for America? I'd say each has brought both good and bad changes.

As for universal suffrage, in an agrarian society, in which the family is the basic societal unit, it makes sense to have one vote per family. However, one of the many changes that industrialization brought about was the emergence of the individual as a competing basic societal unit, and it makes sense--and is just--that women, too, should have the vote in an industrial (or post-industrial) society.

However, has female suffrage been, on the whole, a Good Thing for society? Given the increase in both governmental spending and government interference in private lives--the Nanny State--that followed universal suffrage (see the links above), I think it's a legitimate question.

Notice that nowhere am I calling for denying women the vote.

As for Civil Rights, well, as a direct result of the Civil Rights movement, we now have the Supreme Court telling us that racial quotas are in the Constitution. Why is it that these quotas are applied almost exclusively in favor of blacks and against whites? Why aren't Asians subject to quotas that would restrict them to their percentage? I thought racial discrimination by the government was a Bad Thing, and that's (part of) what the Civil Rights movement was about. Is it really OK for the gummint to discriminate against Ol' Whitey as long as it's discriminating in favor of blacks? Was that the real point of Civil Rights? What happened to MLK's dream of his children being judged not "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character"?

Notice that nowhere am I calling for denying minorities their rights. "Equal rights for all; special rights for none." I was taught that's the American way, but the group rights movement--a direct outcome of the Civil Rights movement--is changing that. Is that a Good Thing?

As for being able to stand "a world with women and minorities," are you accusing me of being racist or sexist? If so, please back it up. Show us all what a racist/sexist I am. Otherwise, please refrain from such insinuations. (By the way, thank you for the politically-correct holiday wishes; I sincerely hope you had a Merry Christmas. I actually mean that, without rancor or any other ill feeling.)

Squidley: Your response to my racist/sexist insinuation was appropriate and I apologize for the insinuation. However (see below) there are hints of it in your language.

I do recognize that you have points to your arguments, though I struggle to agree with them or see the validity of them because they sound like an intellectual attempt at saying women shouldn't vote and the Civil Rights movement was fruitless.

Reading your posts and your questions, it almost sounds like you would argue that if left to white men, America would have been just fine. And quite frankly, I don't agree. Your question, "Has the destruction of the moral legitimacy of the historic white majority been beneficial?" reeks of prejudice. So the insinuation then, I would content, is of your own doing, not just my flippant remarks.

As to your other arguements, one case in point -- women's suffrage was passed in 1920. The chart you provided shows increased government spending during the subsequent decades. But this chart insinuates women voting had everything to do with it and the fact that the U.S. population increased from 92 million people in 1910 to 179 million people in 1960 plus the U.S. added two states in that time span had little to do with it. Not to mention we fought a couple of World Wars, went through a depression, began "big government" social programs to bring the country out of the depression, etc.

On the civil rights issue, correcting centuries of racial prejudice with a couple of congressional acts alone is impossible. It's a larger, societal change that must occur. But even with some unforseen bumps in the road, having our government validate that minorities have rights that should also be protected should never be construed as a negative thing, in my humble opinion. Even if there are some corrective swings of the pendulum the other way along the way.

And I think you'll find (though I'm not 100 percent positive) that racial quotas do include minorities of all races, not just blacks.

Again, I recognize that you have valid points. I have trouble seeing them, though, because the whole starting point of your arguments touch on the fringes of thinking that, in my opinion, is based on fear and hate and not on achieving the best result for all involved.


Thank you for the retraction. I don't have time now to go into a full response, but I would like to assure you that I most certainly do not hate minorities. In fact, I have compassion for the poor, among whom blacks represent a greater proportion than whites. This is part of why I am so opposed to the presence of illegal aliens: by driving down wages and, in some cases, actually taking Americans' jobs, they hurt the poorest Americans worst. Case in point: many blacks lost their jobs and their homes to Katrina. They got temporary jobs rebuilding New Orleans--until the Mexicans arrived, and then all the blacks who had been working on those reconstruction projects were jobless, because the Mexicans would work for less. (Incidentally, Tom, I fail to see how that is moral.)

As for fear, you are correct: I fear that white people, who have achieved great things, including nearly all the scientific and artistic achievments of the past couple of millennia (see Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment), have so lost their sense of legitimacy as a people that we are slowly committing suicide. It's not that minorities are taking it away from us; it's that we left a void in the societal power structure that others are gladly filling. We kowtow to the blacks who constantly cry "racism!" and claim victimhood, when white America is less racist than it has ever been and the biggest public racists are all black (Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton being the worst of them all).

Let us not forget that in addition to art and science, whites have also always led the way in humanitarian projects. Blacks and Moslems already had slaving networks in place when whites arrived in Africa, but it was whites who ultimately ended the slave trade and forced abolition upon unwilling blacks and Moslems. More recently, who opens their wallets and gives of themselves when disaster strikes, regardless of where it strikes? More than anyone else, Americans, and not just the government, but private citizens, too. The list goes on and on.

Racial quotas, evenly applied, would not allow for 41% of UC Berkeley's student body to be Asian when Asians are only about 4.2% of the population. QED.

More later.


I obviously hit a nerve; my apologies. It was not my intention to upset or provoke you.

You spent a lot of time on issues I have never mentioned here, like the environment. I'm not going to take up most of the topics you mentioned.

However, I must disagree, in the strongest terms, with your assertion that "This country exists to welcome the tired and poor of other nations." That has never been the point of this or any country. This country exists for the sake of Americans. I'm surprised I even have to say this to someone of your obvious education and erudition. If a certain kind of immigration is good for America, then we should have it, but if another kind is not, we should refrain from harming ourselves. I intend to show just how harmful much of the post-1965 immigration has been--another time.

Furthermore, your assertion that "Accepting immigrants is one of our country's core moral missions" is so far out of line with anything resembling common sense that I have difficulty believing you said it, much less that you mean it.

However, it is late, and I must arise early tomorrow. I will return to this topic, but until then, please accept my sincere wishes for a Happy New Year. We may disagree, but I hope we can do it without being disagreeable.

Here is my rebuttal to Tom's radical, subversive assertion that "This country exists to welcome the tired and poor of other nations."

Exhibit 1:
"We the people of the United States... establish this constitution for the United States of America."

Nope, no mention of foreigners there. In fact, it explicitly mentions "ourselves and our posterity," in other words, us and our children. This country is for Americans and their descendants. QED.

"Moral immigration" would mean allowing in only those people who can demonstrate both their ability to contribute more than they take and their willingness to assimilate to us. Furthermore, the numbers would be small enough to allow us--Americans--to accept them. None of these conditions are met by the current immigration mess. What we have instead is preference given to those least like us, least able to assimilate, and those who suck the public teat.

Did you know that the ship captains who brought immigrants to Ellis Island had to sign an affadavit affirming that those they brought were not criminal, not ill, and would not become a public burden? Does that describe the Third-World illegal aliens who molest children, rape, and murder; who bring drug-resistant TB, malaria, plague, polio, dengue fever, and chagas disease; who as a group collect $86 billion more in public welfare benefits than they pay in taxes?

Furthermore, what of the cost to American society? What about the poor whose wages are depressed 8% by illegal aliens? What about the rise in housing costs, taxes, and road congestion? What about female white teachers who have to be warned not to chastise Hispanic boys in their classes, or risk being brutalized by those teenage thralls to the culture of macho? What about the loss of our common culture and language? Are any of these changes brought about by the current round of immigration moral?

And before you or Conrad go bringing up the Irish (or whoever else) again, let me point out that 1.2 million Irish over a 60 year period is nothing like 10-20 million Mexicans over 20 years. Let me also point out that everyone is most assuredly not the same, and that the Mestizos who are invading our country are very unlike the Europeans who came earlier. Do you really want to turn the US into a Latin American state, complete with a two-tiered, corrupt society, split between English speakers and Spanish speakers?

It seems to me that the moral issue for immigration means acting in Americans' best interests. It means doing what most Americans want to do: removing the illegals, fencing the border, and cutting back on legal immigration for a while. The current situatation clearly harms America and Americans. I simply cannot fathom how you can call opposition to the current imbroglio "immoral."

Squid. Without immigrants, America wouldn't exist. We're all from somewhere else. But I wouldn't expect you to see that.

Conservatives are very good at simplifying very complex issues to what they think the issue boils down to while dismissing very valid and salient points that make it less than simple. When they meet resistance or discussion, they claim moral superiority and/or claim their stance is based on scripture.

Debating immigration, civil rights and women's suffrage with someone who simplifies each issue to "not for it" "bad idea" and "it has hurt this country" is a moot point.


If you go back far enough, everybody is from somewhere else. Most Americans' ancestors arrived within the past 400 years. So what?

Furthermore, the idea that "America is a nation of immigrants" is not only flat-out wrong, it's subversive. Since its founding, America has always been a nation of Americans. Even now, with massive immigration tearing away at our common culture and language, only 10% of all people here now were born elsewhere. For now at least, America remains a nation of Americans.

The subversive part is that by elevating immigration to the sine qua non of being American, it relegates native-born Americans to second-class status. Does it make any sense at all to put the needs and wants of foreigners ahead of citizens? No country can last long with that sort of topsy-turvy ideology.

You grossly misrepresented my positions with your caricatures. What's more, you got my "simplified" positions wrong! My thoughts are definitely more nuanced than you imply. I'll summarize.

Immigration: against the continued presence of illegal aliens and against legalization for same. Against the continued mass immigration of non-Westerners. In favor of reducing immigration to levels that allow immigrants to assimilate. In favor of allowing in those who bring skills and capital; against family reunification beyond spouses and minor children.

Civil Rights: excellent idea, bad implementation. Has led to group rights instead of individual rights (a central American principle), and racial preferences (in contrast to MLK's vision of a colorblind society). Since the modern, debased form of Civil Rights is undermining individual rights, Civil Rights has turned into a harmful, anti-American Bad Thing.

Women's Suffrage: an essential element of our modern society, with unintended harmful consequences. Women now have greater freedom to pursue a wider range of options than were once available to them--a Good Thing. However, we have failed to adequately resist the feminization of society, which has resulted in the weakening of various organizations (the military, police, and fire departments chief among them) and the expansion of socialist "Mommy will take care of baby" legislation, and even totalitarian "Mother Knows Best" legislation.

Despite your protestations to the contrary, morality and Scripture do, in fact, have a large role to play in Western civilization in general and America in particular. "The essence of the West is its multi-layered understanding of reality, the spiritual and material... This Western Christian vision of existence is, as Eric Voegelin put it, the most highly differentiated articulation of reality that has ever been achieved, requiring effort, intelligence, and spiritual balance to maintain. Therefore there will always be people who rebel against one side or the other of the Western vision."


You say it is "a moot point" to debate with someone whose views are so simplistic. I find it counterproductive to misrepresent others' views. (Incidentally, you may wish to consult a dictionary on the usage of "moot point.")

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