It’s almost trite to point out that if you read the Latin poets of classical Rome, one thing you will come across again and again are laments about the moral standards of youth… and any readers of Robert Graves should be equally aware of Augustus’ concern that sexual morals were going to pot. O Tempora, O Mores!
In the aftermath of the US Election, it looks like the release of a film about the pioneering sex researcher, Kinsey, is causing consternation. Writing in the New York Times, Frank Rich informs readers about the latest front in the Culture Wars, the ‘battle against sex in America’.
Rich notes that when Kinsey’s report was released, 75% of Americans approved of his work. A few years ago I was doing some research into religious attitudes towards homosexuality. I was interested to find that mainstream Christian publications such as Christianity Today spent much of the family-friendly 50s bemoaning the collapse of sexual morality. All that jitterbugging, I guess. But back then Evangelicals largely stayed out of politics and the cultural domain. Not so today.
Rich senses a pattern:
Yet even as the “Kinsey” spot was barred in New York, a public radio station in North Carolina, WUNC-FM, told an international women’s rights organization based in Chapel Hill that it could not use the phrase “reproductive rights” in an on-air announcement. In Los Angeles, five commercial TV channels, fearing indecency penalties, refused to broadcast a public service spot created by Los Angeles county’s own public health agency to counteract a rising tide of syphilis. Nationwide, the big three TV networks all banned an ad in which the United Church of Christ heralded the openness of its 6,000 congregations to gay couples.
The technique of the boycott campaign also appears to be selectively applied:
In the case of “Kinsey,” the Traditional Values Coalition has called for a yearlong boycott of all movies released by Fox. (With the hypocrisy we’ve come to expect, it does not ask its members to boycott Fox’s corporate sibling in the Murdoch empire, Fox News.) But such organizations don’t really care about “Kinsey” – an art-house picture that, however well reviewed or Oscar-nominated, will be seen by a relatively small audience, mostly in blue states. The film is just this month’s handy pretext for advancing the larger goal of pushing sex of all nonbiblical kinds back into the closet and undermining any scientific findings, whether circa 1948 or 2004, that might challenge fundamentalist sexual orthodoxy as successfully as Darwin challenged Genesis.
So much for the First Amendment!