Sunday, June 14, 2015
The 1960s and the destruction of British manners
When I spent a Sabbatical in Britain -- mostly in London -- in 1977, traditional English manners were still alive. If you saw a drunk in the street, you could be reasonably certain he was Irish. That has now changed. On Friday and Saturday nights in the city centres you see a lot of seriously drunk young people who are English. Why the change?
It goes back to the famous '60s. I know. I was there. The contraceptive pill became widely available in the '60s and that destroyed the whole basis of sexual morality.
Sexual instincts are exceedingly strong but throughout history, resource shortages meant that they had to be kept within strict bounds. Children are expensive to bring up and men have always wanted to be sure that they were incurring such expenses for THEIR child. So there was a strong economic and social need for sexual fidelity. You had to be sure that the woman in your life was sleeping with no-one but you. That was the ONLY way you could be certain of the paternity of your child.
And expecting sexual fidelity in women was not a goer unless men accepted a similar code of restraint. It takes two to tango so breaking up undesired tangos was best achieved by having neither partner interested in such tangos.
But the interest was there -- in both men and women. Sexual fidelity does not come easily or naturally. Because sexual attraction is strong, it tends to be elicited by multiple persons in one's environment. A man who finds one woman very attractive will find others attractive too. So keeping such instincts within bounds was a big ask. It required most severely enforced social codes and pressures. And the codes WERE severe. An ex-nuptial child (a "bastard") was a great disgrace. And for a code of sexual restraint to be effective, it helped if there was a custom of general restraint.
And in Britain there certainly was. Self-abnegation and restraint were once near-universal behaviour expectations in Britain. Among the elderly (who grew up before the '60s) one still hears "Mustn't complain" as a form of self-reproof for many sorts of dissatisfaction. And great politeness still to a considerable extent survives. People still "queue up" (line up) submissively and will apologize if you bump into them. Both parties will normally apologize in such a situation. Even a glare at the offending party is rare.
And a major area of restraint was in alcohol consumption. Total abstention was rare but good discipline was common. An Englishman could, for instance "sit on a pint" all night. He could take a whole evening to drink one pint of beer. There would normally be more that one pint to an evening out but the Englishman would "sit" on each for a long time. Some still do.
There is of course still a great deal of restraint, reserve and politeness among the English. Social codes fade slowly. They do not vanish overnight and civilization generally requires certain restraints. But the vanishing of the need for sexual restraint has been seen as generally liberating. Liberation became the watchword of young people growing up in the '60s. I had a lot of fun then myself.
But if the pill disconnected sex from child-bearing, there came along something even more liberating: A great expansion of welfare payments from governments. England had Clement Attlee and his "welfare state" and the USA had Lyndon Johnson and his "great society". That, basically, liberated men from supporting their own children. So ex-nuptial births did not even need to be avoided any more. The great expansion of prosperity that industrial capitalism had brought about had built up to the point where goods and services were now abundant enough to be substantially redistributed without imposing great hardship on anyone. It no longer required the devoted labours of a husband to support a child. There were enough resources in the community for that task to be undertaken by the taxpayer.
So a culture of self-discipline was replaced by a culture of irresponsibility. And it shows: In crime and elsewhere. Wise people still defer gratification but many do not.
And the decay has been greater in Britain than in the USA. Why? It is because religion has long been used to prop up the moral order. An erring penis risked the immortal soul of its possessor. But the only time when England was very religious was from the Tudors to the time of the "Glorious Revolution" (which wasn't a revolution) and the establishment of a new monarchy. The gory excesses of the Tudor period and the severe restraint of Cromwell's Puritans did a pretty good job of discrediting religion among the English.
The Church of England still meandered along and social custom and an appearance of respectability still mandated Sunday attendance for most -- but the sermons were drowsy and an ability to handle a teacup without spilling anything was the main expectation of the clergy. Almost the whole of English literature from the 18th to the 20th century portrayed the clergy as either dimwits or rogues. Though sometimes the cleric was a figure of fun -- as in "Tristram Shandy". Only the humble country parson was spoken well of (e.g. in Gray's "Elegy").
In America, by contrast, the religion had always been heavily evangelical and hence had (and has) a much stronger grip on the people. So in England, religion was hardly any reinforcement to the moral code at all while in the USA it still fulfils that traditional role for many. The decay of conviction in the Church of England has meant that the glorious old buildings built by believers are now temples to celebrate homosexuality, feminism and environmentalism. But those are secular creeds. Redemption might get a mention at Easter but that is it.
A small anecdote from my life in Australia may help illustrate where the Church of England is these days. I am a great fan of the 39 "Articles of Religion" that to this day are supposed to define Anglicanism. They are a marvellously vigorous statement of Protestant faith. So when I was at a dinner party that included an Anglican clergyman some years ago, I began to ask him about his view of the 39 articles, to his evident discomfort. Being merciful and not wanting to ruin the party, however, I soon said to him, "But I am an atheist, of course". He visibly relaxed and said "Ah, I can deal with that a lot more easily". He was comfortable with an atheist (He probably was one himself) but not with a traditional Protestant.
So social standards are visibly looser in England these days, as the change in alcohol misuse shows. There is little of the high standards demanded of most American Christians. It would be hard to quantify the difference, however, as Britain too now has a substantial sub-population of sub-Saharan African origin -- and their level of behavioural restraint is very low -- to their own great detriment and the detriment of others. So for a meaningful statistical comparison of behavior standards in England and the USA, one would have to collect statistics for whites only, which would produce a disabling storm of condemnation from the faux-righteous Left -- JR.
10 Myths About Redefining Marriage to include homosexuals
Advocates of redefining "marriage" to include same-sex couples use a number of arguments that can best be described as "myths." The reality is often quite different. For example:
MYTH: A "one man and one woman" definition imposes a religious definition of marriage on civil society.
REALITY: The definition of marriage is rooted in nature itself. The sexual union of a man and a woman is what reproduces the human race. The durable commitment of that man and woman to one another is what provides children with a mother and father. This is important for people of any religion or of no religion.
MYTH: Children don't actually need both a mother and a father.
REALITY: An overwhelming body of social science evidence demonstrates that children raised by their own mother and father, who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage, are happier, healthier, and more prosperous than children raised in any other household setting.
MYTH: Marriage can't be about procreation, because infertile couples are allowed to marry.
REALITY: Laws are based on the rule, not the exception. While not all heterosexual couples do reproduce, it is indisputable that only heterosexual couples can do so naturally. No homosexual couples can do so. That fact provides a clear bright line for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.
MYTH: Legalizing homosexual "marriage" would have no effect on other marriages and families.
REALITY: "The law is a teacher," and if we change the definition of marriage we will change what we teach about all marriages and families. For example:
We would teach—wrongly—that procreation is no longer a uniquely important public interest. We would teach—wrongly—that children do not need a mother and a father. We would teach that adult desires, not the interests of society or the needs of children, should drive the definition of marriage.
MYTH: Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is "discrimination."
REALITY: Every individual has the same access to marriage, but no one has been permitted to marry a child, a close blood relative, a person who is already married, or (through most of human history) a person of the same sex. Removing the last restriction would cast doubt on all the others.
MYTH: Homosexual relationships are the same as heterosexual ones.
REALITY: Research shows that homosexuals are less likely to enter into long-term partnerships, be sexually faithful, or have relationships last a lifetime. Legal recognition of same-sex unions in Scandinavia has led to a weakening of society's commitment to marriage across the board.
MYTH: Homosexuals suffer serious harm because they're denied the "protections" of marriage.
REALITY: Many of these "protections" are already available to same-sex couples through the use of private contractual arrangements, such as wills, durable power of attorney, health care proxies, and life insurance policies.
MYTH: Homosexuals are unable to care for their own children if they cannot "marry."
REALITY: A biological parent has the same rights whether the individual is heterosexual or homosexual. States, if they choose to, can provide for homosexual couples to adopt children without changing the definition of marriage. However, recent research shows that children of homosexual parents suffer significant disadvantages. It is not in children's interest for society to actively affirm a family structure that may harm them.
MYTH: Laws "banning same-sex marriage" are the same as the old laws that banned interracial marriage.
REALITY: It is actually the supporters of homosexual "marriage" who resemble the opponents of interracial marriage. Both groups sought to exploit the marriage laws in pursuit of a social goal irrelevant to marriage. Neither racial segregation (in the one case) nor the social affirmation of homosexual conduct (in the other) was or is related to the basic public purpose of marriage, which is promoting responsible procreation and the rearing of children in the optimal family setting.
MYTH: Legalizing homosexual "marriage" would not affect anyone's religious liberty or conscience rights.
REALITY: All taxpayers, consumers, and businesses would be forced to provide financial subsidies for homosexual relationships, whether they want to or not. Schools would teach children that homosexual relationships are an option fully equivalent to heterosexual ones, even in opposition to parental teaching. Faith-based organizations and individuals would be forced to compromise their beliefs, or be punished or driven from the public square.
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on whether the U.S. Constitution includes a "right" to marry someone of the same sex, they—and the public—should be wary of falling for these myths.
Children thrive on risky play: Activities including climbing trees and rough and tumble games help improve their creativity, behaviour and resilience
Taking part in risky outdoor play improves children’s creativity, behaviour and resilience as well as their health, researchers have found.
The benefits come from activities including climbing, jumping, rough and tumble play and exploring alone, they added.
Playgrounds with natural elements such as trees, plants and changes in height are best. Youngsters also gain from being free to choose their own activities without restrictive supervision, added the Canadian study.
Lead researcher Mariana Brussoni of the University of British Columbia in Canada, said: 'We found that play environments where children could take risks promoted increased play time, social interactions, creativity and resilience.
‘These positive results reflect the importance of supporting children’s risky outdoor play opportunities as a means of promoting children’s health and active lifestyles. ‘These spaces give children a chance to learn about risk and learn about their own limits.'
Safety fears were seen as the main reason for limiting risky play, reported the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Researchers found that playground safety standards and too much supervision prevented children from engaging in risky activities.
Dr Brussoni added: ‘Monitoring children’s activities may be a more appropriate approach than active supervision, particularly for older children,
‘We recommend considering policy, practice and built environment approaches to risky outdoor play that balance safety with children’s other health outcomes.’
Black vs. Blue in America
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Half a century ago this summer, the Voting Rights Act was passed, propelled by Bloody Sunday at Selma Bridge. The previous summer, the Civil Rights Act became law on July 2.
We are in the 7th year of the presidency of a black American who has named the first two black U.S. attorneys general.
Yet race relations seem more poisonous now than then, when the good will of America's majority was driving legislation.
Today's issue, however, is not voting rights, open housing or school busing. It is black vs. blue: African-Americans inflamed at what they see as chronic police brutality and police forces feeling besieged in a demagogic "war on cops."
And the media are obsessed with it, and determined to make us equally so.
Consider. On June 9, America's "newspaper of record" ran four stories in the first section about police violence against blacks.
Page one of The New York Times told of black leaders in Cleveland, "distrustful of the criminal justice system," invoking a "seldom-used Ohio law," by going "directly to a judge to request murder charges" against the cops involved in the death of Tamir Rice.
Responding to reports of a man with a gun, a cop, two seconds out of his car, shot Tamir, 12. The gun was a toy.
Yet, though this happened six months ago, the Times went into loving detail again on how Tamir died. It then regurgitated the deaths, also last year, of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner on Staten Island.
On page A11 was a story with three color photos, covering almost the whole page, about a cop who, called to a raucous pool party in McKinney, Texas, drew his gun and wrestled to the ground a 14-year-old black girl in a bathing suit.
"A Party at a Pool, a Jarring Image of Police Force" was the banner over the Times' tale of "powerful and disturbing" images, from video showing "a police officer pointing a gun at teenagers in bathing suits and shoving a young black girl's face into the ground."
Had the girl been white, would the Times have splashed it?
Page A12 was given over entirely to cops vs. blacks, with two fresh stories, plus continuations of the Tamir Rice and pool stories.
The story across the top of A12 told of how a North Charleston, South Carolina, cop, held since April on murder charges, has now been indicted by a grand jury for murder.
Officer Michael Slager shot fleeing suspect Walter Scott in the back repeatedly, a killing caught on video, apparently after a fight over Slager's Taser.
There was also a fresh story on terrorism suspect Usaamah Rahim, shot dead after being confronted by FBI and a Boston cop. Rahim was allegedly wielding a large knife. Blurry video from a Burger King camera shows the cops backing away from Rahim, but not the knife.
Seven Times reporters got bylines for these four stories.
What does the Times' investment of all this journalistic talent and news space tell us? The Times does not want this issue to die.
The Times editors and writers see "blacks being victimized by white racist cops" as a representative truth about America 2015 that we all must address.
But what is the larger reality? First, the vast majority of black males killed violently are killed by black males, and interracial crime in America is overwhelmingly black-on-white, not the reverse.
While not the media truth, that is the statistical truth.
This is reality. Indeed, if the ugliest expressions of racism are interracial assaults, rapes and murders, the heaviest concentrations of racism in America are in the black communities themselves.
But the preferred story of the Times and mainstream media, of most cable channels and social media, is white cops victimizing black folks.
Thus we have all heard about Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray, but few know even the number of black folks gunned down annually in their own black communities.
The press is not interested in ferreting out those statistics.
Why? Such stats would muddy the message the media seek to send and reinforce: I.e., America must confront the crisis of rogue cops.
What is coming is not difficult to predict.
As, invariably, white cops clash with black suspects, the media will seize upon and pump up every episode that fits and advances their scripted narrative. Angry and violent protests will occur. There will be judicial proceedings and trials, like that of the West Baltimore cops coming up.
America will divide and take sides. And the rival "war on cops" and "Black lives matter!" claims will be adjudicated in the election of 2016.
In 1968, Richard Nixon rode the law-and-order issue into the White House. Hillary Clinton seems to be moving to capture the "Black-Lives-Matter!" constituencies.
As for the Republicans, they seem to be acting more like the John Lindsays and Bill Scrantons of yesteryear than the Nixons and Ronald Reagans. But someone is going to pick up this issue.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.