No Ordinary Princess

...anything but ordinary...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Decency in America

Good interview today on AlterNet with Frederick S. Lane, author of The Decency Wars: The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture. Fascinating stuff, really.

It can't be denied that America in the last 30-40 years, and particularly in the last 20, has shifted dramatically to a much more fundamental and puritanical view of "decency," read: anything having to do with sex, sexual choices, sexual freedom or enjoying sex as you wish is immoral. Mr. Lane discusses this and the imperative for a social decency which involves inclusion and acceptance.

Hear! Hear!

Lane comments on the impact of the Mark Foley Congressional page scandal and how the war in Iraq relates to the concept of "decency."

For me, decency involves helping other people, providing for the common good, providing for those who cannot provide for themselves, economic, social and legal justice, acceptance of all people regardless of their race, religion, nationality, gender, etc.

Decency does not involve forcing our political agenda on other sovereign nations, denying appropriate health care aid for a continent struggling to survive AIDS, refusing to bolster the nation's minimum wage unless there's a rider attached eliminating taxes for dead rich people.

For me, it's a no-brainer. There is decency which insists everyone must be decent in the same way and to the same degree and there is decency which allows adult humans to make their own choices and supports them in the life they choose as right for them as long as no one else gets hurt in the process. Which America would you rather live in?

Visit Alternet for more great stuff about America and her culture. The interview was conducted by Celina R. De Leon who is a contributing writer for WireTap magazine, and Interviews editor at, another great place to visit.

tags: American culture / Christian fundamentalism / Christianity / decency / morality / sex / US politics / values


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always figured our culture was simply immature. I don't want to cleanse it, but rather push it ahead a couple of hundred years so we can catch up with France, Italy, etc.

Lest you get all over me, I did triage for my Grandfather, who treated most in Greenwich Village gratis, during the Stonewall uprising in '69. And this just a couple of months after covering a rather nasty conflict in Southeast Asia.

It is remarkable that the nation remains at least somewhat divided over homosexuality issues. I say "somewhat" because polls are rather conflicted though certainly are closing their gaps.

My uncle, also a physician, often treated Mary Martin, with whom Noel Coward appeared in the early days of TV. I probably wasn't much older than 16 at the time, but I very clearly remember dining with Coward, Martin and my uncle at the old Marta, an Italian restaurant in the village. I certainly wasn't quite sophisticated enough to recognized "dashing" at the time, but I can almost recall the repartee between Coward and my father when the latter joined us for coffee at the end of the meal. It may have been much like what I've read about the old Algonquin Round Table.

All of that to say if you've not seen "Mad Dogs and Englishmen," do it.

11/10/06 12:29 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I couldn't agree more that we need to grow up as a nation, realize that we need to share the playground, get rid of the slingshots and start playing nice.

I think the bottom line issue with homosexuality in America is fear of the unknown. Though many people might have daily contact with and like and respect gay/lesbian/etc. people, they often don't realize they're working with or attending church with a big ol' dyke or fag.

That's why it's so important for reasonable gay/les/etc. people to come out in their lives. The more middle-of-the-road average people who are exposed to positive images of GLBT people, the more accepting our nation will become.

Once the straight public comes to realize we are not demons, it's only a matter of time before GLBT people are deemed to be deserving of the same civil rights as every other American.

You have the greatest stories about your family, RfR. I hope you're writing a book about your life and kin!

12/10/06 12:03 PM  
Blogger Refugee from Reason said...

"they often don't realize they're working with or attending church with a big ol' dyke or fag."

Presumably this precludes the Metropolitan Church in W. Hollywood. We've a condo not far from it and I did some writing for the church a few years ago. The quid pro quo a pair of free tickets to the Gay Men's Chorus in LA.

"The more middle-of-the-road average people who are exposed to positive images of GLBT people, the more accepting our nation will become."

It took years for blacks and Jews, as well as others and we're still not there yet. Society is like moving a monolith.

"I hope you're writing a book about your life and kin!"

Actually, I've contract that's being negotiated now for a biography of my Father. The sticking point is singular: deadline. I've got to complete the novel in 11 months and the bio would require at least two, if not three years because of the research involved. And while it's important to me and I believe it would make a compelling read as my Dad never got past the 11th grade, yet spoke a half dozen languages, won a Pulitzer, rose to a full colonel in the Marine Corp and was a personal agent of Roosevelt, among other things, I've got current comittments for which I've been paid or receive progress payments. But thanks.

12/10/06 4:33 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Well, no...I think it would be pretty evident to anyone attending the MCC church in West Hollywood that they were communing with a whole bunch of big ol' dykes and fags. I had something more along the lines of the Lutheran church in Des Moines, actually.

Yes, it did take years for blacks and Jewa and women to make progress but progress, ultimately, was made for all. I don't want a miracle. I expect to plug along getting my civil rights in dribs and drabs but I'm hopeful I will see a significant shift in American attitude toward GLBT folks in the next two decades. I believe we will have gay marriage or its equivalent within my expected lifetime.

Call me a starry-eyed optimist.

So, you can't just write the book for your pleasure and in your leisure then present it to a publisher when it's ready for final editing? I would think writing it would be something you'd want to do for you and your family. Your father sounds like an amazing man.

12/10/06 11:07 PM  
Blogger Refugee from Reason said...

Come on, Cheryl, the reference to the MCC was a bit of a joke...As to "writing for pleasure," my poetry is the closest I come to that diversion, but even that helps my discipline, though my venue on Blogger is somewhat of a diversion.

In Boswell's Life of Johnson, Dr. Johnson is quoted as saying "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." If I didn't make a good living at it, I'd probably be teaching at some university, as I've not the patience for it without compensation. But that's my view and I've quite fortunate to have the skill from which I can derive a living.

13/10/06 8:02 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Oh, I know that you were joking, RfR. As a matter of fact, it was hyperbole because it doesn't get much gayer than an MCC church in West Hollywood. Two cliches in one example!

That's interesting about writing for pleasure. My assumption has always been that most people who write for a living are doing something they would do anyway for pleasure...and getting paid for it. Sort of like yesteryear's professional sports players.

I hope you get that contract to write the book about your dad then because I'd really like to read it. I love hearing about your whole family, really. Such an interesting, accomplished bunch you are!

13/10/06 11:40 AM  
Blogger Refugee from Reason said...

Oh, yes it does. I grew up in Greenwich Village and we own a coop there on W. 9th.

13/10/06 4:00 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Lol, RfR! Good point.

13/10/06 11:08 PM  

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