Those who would like to see traditionalists and progressives compromise on issues should be asked how it advances us to be ruled by half- rather than fully lunatic policies—for progressive discourse has become lunacy seasoned with childish derision.
In the wake of several new YouTube videos revealing the rampant leftist bias of the college classroom, I thought a transcript of a very informal exchange in the Ivory Tower might not be taken amiss. Here follows a conversation overheard the other day in a small college’s lounge—between two men whom I shall call the Traditionalist and the Progressive.
T: I’m not denying that she’s a very attractive girl. I’m just distressed that she doesn’t seem to have a stronger moral character.
P: Because she’s not married to her boyfriend yet she lives with him—is that your objection?
T: Well, part of it. She also appears to have had more than one boyfriend. Some of them—maybe most of them—aren’t around much longer than a weekend. At least, that’s the way she tells it. And I’m bothered, by the way, that she tells all these things out in the open where anyone can hear, as if she were talking about the weather. We don’t really know each other, but I know all kinds of details about her personal life.
P: So honesty is something else you don’t like about her?
T: You can call it honesty if you like. I could tell everybody the details of my last trip to the bathroom, and that could be honesty, too.
P: So you think having sex is like having a bowel movement?
T: It seems to be for some people, doesn’t it? Something you just have to do once a day—an involuntary behavior, forced upon you by the healthy functioning of organs.
P: But you think it’s something dirty—something smelly and disgusting. Don’t you?
T: Why would you say that? Because I don’t think it should be discussed publicly? You seem to think that honesty is as simple as sharing all of one’s private life with the world. Can you not think of any reason for holding something back other than that it’s dirty and smelly?
P: Actually, no. I wouldn’t shout my credit card number to the world, but… but that’s another matter. A matter of self-preservation. But in matters of lifestyle, I don’t know why a person shouldn’t be free to say what she wants. Yours is the crowd that’s always screaming bloody murder over the fate of the First Amendment.
T: I’m not saying she doesn’t have the right to recite her catalogue of boyfriends; I’m saying it’s in bad taste, and that it doesn’t show her moral character in a good light. Come to think of it, yours is the crowd that doesn’t want people to utter racial slurs—and it’s not just a matter of taste with you. You go as far as criminalizing speech that you find offensive. You want students expelled from campus—and faculty dismissed from their positions—for saying things like… I don’t know… like, “Lauren is attractive.” If I said that in her presence, I could be fired for sexual harassment.
P: Yes, if she found it offensive. You could be making her feel that she’s just a piece of meat on the counter—which is crudely put, but that’s exactly the way those remarks make some women feel.
T: Yet these same women, in some cases, chatter on and on about their latest sexual partners without any hint of binding commitment or spiritual attachment. And the rest of us have to hear which dog has most recently salivated over the meat.
P: You perceive what she’s saying in that light because you’re obsessed by what you feel is the dirtiness of sex. She’s actually trying to share her happiness with people she considers her friends.
T: Well, maybe I’m trying to share my happiness when I say, “Lauren, how pretty you are in that blouse!” Isn’t it kind of obsessive in a woman to think that such remarks are always about her boobs? There’re a lot of plain-looking people in the world. Maybe I’m just trying to thank a friend for not being one of them… and then she makes a beeline for the Title IX Compliance Officer.
P: As I’ve said… you have to consider how your remarks are received by the other person.
T: And as I’ve told you, the other person should give a little thought to how her remarks are received by me, and by others who honor their wives and families and believe in monogamy and in a life dedicated to sacrifice rather than pleasure.
P: Oh, please! Would you feel better if we gave you a medal?
T: No. You see, people who give things up for higher alternatives don’t do that for medals. Medals are just garbage. But we would feel better if you would show a little respect for the struggle. If you were a smoker and had decided to kick the habit, would you appreciate my lighting up right in front of you?
P: So now you’re saying that sex is a kind of addiction, and that you married guys are recovering addicts?
T: As a matter of fact, if you want to reduce it to those terms, I won’t object. Yes, when you’re trying to stay on the straight and narrow, it doesn’t help to have revelers splashing you with Champagne from both sides. That’s part of what was once called common decency—a large part. I understand your position, believe me—probably better than you do. People like you think that people like me are hypocrites and perverts who hate all the things that are naturally pleasant. We don’t. And it’s really very arrogant of you to think we do. Maybe you just like belittling us for the feeling of superiority. But you’re right that we do try to suppress certain pleasures in order to build things that require focus and dedication.
P: Actually, only the “suppress” part is what I think of you…
T: Good. Then at least you understand that suppression involves a certain effort. And it’s not very nice of other people to complicate the effort casually and without a thought. Common decency doesn’t tell the rest of you that you can’t burn the candle at both ends. It just requires that you not do so in our presence, and especially in our faces.
P: No. You don’t like light. I get that part. In too much light, one runs the risk of seeing. That’s why you have to wear blinders.
T: As a matter of fact, blinders are better than the alternative. Those clinical studies you love to cite have shown that heavy consumers of pornography just want more and more, and finally want to do something besides look at pictures.
P: Oh, really? Which study would that be? I’d be impressed if you could come up with one… though the Organization for the Biblical Overhaul of Reality has probably published several, come to think of it.
T: Well, I’m sure that few organizations measure up to the objective purity of the Kinsey Report. But say that I accept your snarky comment about blinders. Don’t you wear blinders, too? Doesn’t everyone? The guy who feeds constantly on porn is precisely the guy who can’t see that a strawberry blonde looks good in her green blouse. He’s just gaping at her boobs—he couldn’t tell you green from polka-dot. So it turns out that Title IX crusaders are trying to protect women from the very sex-crazed men that the freedom crusade created, in the first place. You guys need the blinders—and the curb and the tight rein—of a whole new set of laws to keep your hands where they belong.
P: Whoa, there, Silver! You’re assuming that what you call heavy porn consumers are the friends of sexual emancipation. From where I stand, it’s just the opposite. The guys who need a permanent drool rag in front of their video monitor are the Christian soldiers who can’t break ranks publicly to go a-courting.
T: As the studies show… you forgot to add that final fantasy to your fairy tale.
P: And so they do. That’s exactly what they show.
T: Oh, for crying out loud…
P: “For crying out loud”… you make me think of my grandmother…
T: Yeah, okay. Take language. Take venting your irritation with a few “f” bombs. I’m guilty sometimes—but I don’t do it in public. Because other people may be trying to preserve something like civil discourse, and if they hear me giving up the cause, then they’re that much closer to giving it up themselves. The end of common decency…
P: May she rest in peace… in her unmarked grave.
T: And who ever—back to your other flimsy contention—managed to use fewer foul words by using more? If a revolving door of sexual partners makes a man less inclined to look at porn, then letting out a blue streak of cussing should make him less apt to cuss in mixed company than a guy who’s bottled it all up. Do you really believe that?
P: About as much as I believe that a guy who goes shooting every weekend is less likely to go postal than a guy who never touches a gun. That, I think, is your position, is it not?
T: No, my position is that a guy who knows how to handle deadly force is less likely to use it than a guy who’s had no practice with it. A karate black-belt, or whatever they call themselves, is less likely to get in a deadly brawl than someone who has a lot of anger and no skill.
P: And a skilled lover—a black-belt in lovemaking—is less likely to glaze over in front of a porn site than somebody who never gets the real thing.
T: For the umpteenth time… it’s no wonder we get nowhere! You can’t keep your mind fixed on the main point. It’s not about never… we were talking about monogamy versus promiscuity, not lifelong celibacy versus having an intimate girlfriend. I’m not making a case for a celibate priesthood, or something, which is a whole different issue.
P: Just as well. We all know where that ends up.
T: This isn’t about life without sex—it’s about a life not dominated by sex, but by real caring for one’s partner and raising children and other such things.
P: You’re right, I’d almost forgotten. This is all about what a hard time you have being faithful to your wedding vows because Lauren’s a slut. Is that because her lifestyle makes you think you might have a chance with her?
T: I’m not going to let you piss me off today. You have a well-worn pattern of being the last man standing in an argument because you insult your adversary until he’s tongue-tied. Instead, I’ll just volunteer for a little more rudeness by telling you this. When I was single, I could never get interested in a girl who was tumbling around with a different guy every month. She just wasn’t even a possibility to me, because I could see clearly that she wasn’t after what I was after.
P: A mother for your children and a maid for your kitchen. Right. It’s a shame to imagine how many girls must have missed out on that grand prize.
T: Are you or are you not capable of being civil? And to think that you’re the big defender of campus speech codes, the enemy of offensive language…
P: I hadn’t realized I had turned you into a victim—white, male, and empowered though you are. Perhaps you should be included in a legally protected class… but, oh, I forgot! You don’t believe in protected classes.
T: And I’m not asking for yet another one…
P: Good, because I’m damned if I see what right you would have to it.
T: I’m only claiming that I should have the right—since you mention rights—to believe that Lauren’s conduct is immoral.
P: Oh, you can cuddle that little right and take her to bed with you, as far as I’m concerned.
T: No, that’s really not true. If I want to rear my children to believe as I do, I can’t, since you guys have taken my right away. The right to a belief isn’t simply the right to think privately, because a belief isn’t just a thought hidden away secretly in your heart. It’s something you impart to your children. The privacy of thought isn’t a right, but a fact. Thoughts are private, by definition—though your utopian technicians are laboring to change that. The right to a belief is the right of parents to transmit a view of reality to their children. And your bunch refuses to let me teach my children my way rather than your way.
P: I really don’t know what you’re talking about—sounds like more neo-Nazi paranoia. Nobody controls what you teach your kids. But you don’t control what trained professionals teach your kids, either. You can’t blame the Establishment for raising children to be socially integrated and considerate of others. Just because your beliefs, as you call them, divide people and create dissension doesn’t mean that society has an obligation to stop teaching harmony and cooperation to its young.
T: There’s no arguing with double-talk. I only wish you could hear just how sinister those sanitized abstractions of yours sound.
P: I’m too far gone, though… no point in talking to me!
T: Not much. So let me put it this way, instead. Say that I’m a Muslim. If my daughter ran off with a boy for even one weekend, I would smack her silly and lock her in her room for a year. That’s assuming that I didn’t kill her. Let’s say I’m a moderate Muslim, so I only take away all my teenage daughter’s privileges and never let her leave home except to go to school. Would you say that I was… ah, what was it, now? That I was dividing people and creating dissension? Would you?
P: I wouldn’t like what you were doing… but that’s your culture.
T: Which is to say, those are my beliefs. So why does the game suddenly change if I’m a traditional Christian rather than a moderate Muslim?
P: Because… because you’re part of OUR culture—the broader, dominant culture you see in our movies and TV shows. American culture.
T: No, I’m not! That’s exactly what I’m telling you. Believe me, I’m not. Your ways are not my ways.
P: But they should be. You’ve lagged behind. Our forefathers were all Christians of your Neanderthal stamp… but some of us came out of the caves at last. Most of us. That culture is now this culture. It’s the same culture, but you’ve refused to be a part of it.
T: Are you really arguing that because our great-great-grandfathers were all Christian, therefore our generation today is required to be post-Christian?
P: Why do you make it sound so ridiculous? Of course that’s what I’m arguing! That was then and this is now. We all once believed—or our forefathers did—that the earth was the center of the universe. That was okay for then; but if you now say that the sun orbits the earth, then people will look at you like you’re crazy—and they’ll be right. Our culture moved, and you should have moved with it.
T: But the Muslim is excused from moving, because…
P: Because Western science was not part of his heritage. He’ll come along later.
T: Oh, I don’t think he’d like that formula! But what interests me is you. The Muslim is allowed to lord it over his daughter because… because his culture is inferior, and he has to be treated like a little child or someone with Down Syndrome.
P: I didn’t say that.
T: What in hell do you think you said?
P: I didn’t say he was stupid. I said he was…
P: His culture is backward.
T: So you’re judging his culture now? Because his values are not your values, you’re going to tolerate him in this condescending way until he learns to exchange God for progress?
P: You’re right. It’s completely impossible to carry on a conversation with anyone who speaks in double-talk. Anybody else would get it, and I think even you get it—but you enjoy not getting it. You always have to be the caveman. Well, enjoy your cold rocks and your wet fire.
I admit that I supplied most of this exchange from imagination rather than memory. In fact, I feel that there may be a one-act play looming in the shadows. For brevity’s sake, though, I would just say to those who dream of compromise… forget it. Wake up. I could extend this dialogue for a hundred pages, and the two sides would never agree on anything fundamental. Compromise would require the traditionalist to pull the central floor beam out from under his house—and the progressive would rest content with no compromise short of the house’s collapse. The middle ground between the Grand Canyon’s two sides is a fatal plunge into the abyss; and only one side’s residents, I might add, ever seem tempted to take that terminally naive step.