Monday, April 24, 2006

If you want to feel contempt for puritans...

...then read this article. It about southern states that have banned the sale of sex toys. Really. In the United States. In 2006. Some sadly humorous scenarios that could result are spun out here. It's this sort of thing that makes me think that apart from ending slavery, winning the Civil War was a big waste life and limb. I feel the culture gap in this country is a gaping abyss, and I don't see how it can be bridged.

Some, such as Andrew Sullivan here, have proposed a more robust federalism as a solution. Traditionally, federalist and states rights arguments have been used by reactionary conservative forces to inveigh against federal civil rights laws. But when Congress and the White House are controlled by corrupt Republicans beholden to Christianist Theocons, while many state governorships and legislatures are trending Democratic, states rights ends up having a nice liberal ring to it.

Let the puritans legislate themselves into a Taliban-like society of repression and morality police. And then let people vote with their feet. But then, what about all the people who can't move away, or who have a true connection to their homeland in the Bible Belt and don't want to be exiled? Isn't the right to buy a sex toy free from government interference at the very core of what it is to be an American, no matter where they reside? Or am I just wrapped in a ridiculously delusional, sex-positive, Berkeley-hippie-leftist-bubble world? Maybe lots of Americans want hypocricy and denial when it comes to sex. Who am I to deny them their pathology?

How far can the cultural left and right drift apart before our nation's polity is torn to shreds? How far can states drift apart and still feel part of the same country? Do rural Kansas and urban Massachusetts belong in the same country?

Probably they do. Consumerism, sports, language, television, etc. probably unite us more than morality and religion divide us. Maybe what unites us is shallow, but I'll take shallowness over open strife any day.


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