Culture: December 2005 Archives

To the young lady who waited on me in the department store this evening:

I felt sorry for you, as I walked toward your counter with my purchase. From 30 feet away I could see the bright red spot there at the fold of your nostril. That's a spot that's prone to clogged pores, I thought. It was obviously inflamed, festering. It almost seemed shiny.

When I got to the counter, I realized it really was shiny, and it was a tiny red gem, not a zit. (It might have been a carbuncle, albeit not the kind you lance.)

You seemed to have a flawless complexion, and you must spend a lot of time caring for it. Why would you mess it up with a piece of jewelry that looks like a bad skin condition? Are you wearing it to demonstrate solidarity with your acne-afflicted peers?

I don't get it. Do any of my fellow fortyish fogeys get it?

There's an oddly ambivalent editorial about abortion in today's Daily Telegraph, Britain's leading conservative broadsheet, citing the University of Oslo study on the psychological effects of abortion. The paper calls for tightening abortion laws by making the gestational age limit earlier than the current 24 weeks. The article's headline is "The shame of our abortion laws." The editorial is careful not to condemn abortion:

Abortion, like miscarriage, involves the loss of a baby; unlike miscarriage, the loss is the result of a conscious decision. And the operation itself, as Germaine Greer has taken to reminding her fellow feminists, is a gruesome one. No wonder that a fifth of women continue to feel depression, shame or guilt.

At this point we should stress that those feelings may be (and probably are) inappropriate. This newspaper has never offered a view on the morality of abortion per se.

So, according to the Telegraph, the feelings of guilt, shame, and depression are inappropriate, and they say that presumably because they believe there's nothing wrong with having an abortion. Yet they chide Prime Minister Tony Blair for not supporting an earlier cutoff for late-term abortions:

In the short term, more post-abortion counselling is needed. In the long term, the need for it should be reduced by a change in the law. The current limit of 24 weeks is appallingly high; yet Tony Blair, a practising Christian, has opposed efforts to reduce it even slightly. It is he, rather than women who have been pressurised into having abortions, who should feel ashamed.

While I'm glad to see the Telegraph support any further restrictions on abortion, the reasoning in this piece is incoherent, and it reflects an incoherence that I observe in the British Conservative Party, and in the Republican Party in the "blue states". There's a recognition that sound traditional values are being violated, to the detriment of individuals, families, and society, but there's an unwillingness to contradict the spirit of the age by bluntly calling a practice wrong, immoral, or evil.

Voters who hold to traditional values in Britain and in Blue State America have no political home. No major party is speaking to their concerns and priorities, so they stay home on election day. The Conservative Party in Britain and the Republican Party in the US should be the natural homes of these voters, but they're kept at arms' length by the entrenched party apparatus. In Red State America, these motivated values voters have been able to dominate state and local Republican organizations, but the older, once-influential Republican organizations in the Blue States are designed to resist grassroots influence and keep the same people in control of an ever-shrinking party.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from December 2005.

Culture: October 2005 is the previous archive.

Culture: March 2006 is the next archive.

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