You Have Your Penis Pierced!

You Have Your Penis Pierced!

Jonah Goldberg’s column entitled America Through The Lens of Reality, appeared in the South Bend Tribune (12/17/09). In it he discussed the decade of the “reality show” and decried the reflection of  America’s moral condition in that” mirror”.

Golberg provides examples of our moral decline through media depictions and through actuarial data depicting our collective behavior (sex, violence, profanity, births out-of-wedlock and more).

A sample of his comments is enough to get you started. I invite you to then tabulate your own examples of America’s moral decline and think of some things that you could do to reverse this disastrous trend.

The following words in bolded quotes Jonah Golderg’s words:

On an MTV program, a girl is cheating  on her boyfriend with another guy. At the moment of truth the girl delights in her stunning discovery:

‘You have your penis pierced. I love it’, “the drunken vamp exclaims”.

He further notes that: “British historian Arnold Toynbee argued that civilizations thrive when the lower classes aspire to be like the upper classes, and they decay when the upper classes try to be like the lower classes. Looked at through this prism, its hard not to see America in a prolonged period of decay.”

He then observes that:

 “society has embraced  what social scientist Charles Murray calls ‘ecumenical niceness.’ A core tenet of ecumenical niceness is that harsh judgements of the underclass..or people with underclass values…are forbidden. An added corollary: People with old-fashioned notions of decency are fair game.”

“Out-of- wedlock birth was once a great shame; now it’s something of a happy lifestyle choice.”

“The cavalier use of profanity was once crude; now it’s increasingly conversational. Self-discipline was once a virtue; now self-expression is king.”

“Reality-show culture has thrived in that moral vacuum, accelerating the decay and helping to create a society in which celebrity is the new nobility.”

“Paris Hilton, famous for being famous thanks in part to a “reality” sex tape released days before her 2003 reality show ‘The Simple Life,’ is now a cultural icon of  no redeeming value whatsoever.”

End of Golberg’s quotes.


Perhaps next, Mr. Golberg can do an analysis of America’s moral decline through our televised  advertisements.

Remember, “If your  erection lasts longer than four hours”—-call your doctor.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.   12/20/09


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2 Responses to “You Have Your Penis Pierced!”

  1. vtmawhinney Says:

    Frank, with all due respect and much respect is due; I am unable to join you in your general dislike of Goldberg’s comments.

    First of all, he speaks of the problem of “ecumenical niceness”, as Charles Murray called it. This tendency not to be judgmental about moral conduct has also been called moral relativism, perhaps it most current manifestation is called “political correctness”. From all that I can tell, failing to exercise any judgement in such matters leads to moral chaos, which is the point of Goldberg’s article and my own position on all such matters. Though I know you to be a man of great integrity and character, by trying “not to be judgmental”, it would appear that you are being “ecumenically nice”.

    You and I both know that the decline of great civilizations occurs for many complex and interacting reasons. Based upon my own research into the decline of numerous cultures, I have yet to find that one decline is exactly like any other. However, moral decline may be commonly associated with cultural decline. I suspect that it sometimes precedes, sometimes is concurrent with, and sometimes is a consequence of cultural decline. That may be hard to tease out of history. In the U.S. moral decline appears to me to have been a result of the convergence of many culture-altering structural and infrastructural evolutions (I.e., Marvin Harris’ Cultural Materialistic analysis). In turn, moral decline has become a contributing determinant of a host of other economic, social, and political problems.

    Whether Toynbee’s assertion(about downward imitation) applies to all declined empires or not is certainly debatable. However, during our current decline in the U.S., all one need do is open their eyes to see the imitation of lower socioeconomic styles and behavioral conduct by middle/upper class youth. It has been easy for me to see general decline in our moral conduct (as reflected in population actuarial data controlled for population growth) and also to see that the middle/upper class is increasingly mirroring lower class conduct in terms of dress, language, and moral conduct, by simply watching the media and the behavior of this nations youth.

    Regarding the Victorian Era, Queen Victoria lived from 1819 to 1901. The Victorian Era ended with her death. The British Empire had its greatest expansion during the height of her power. By 1922 the Empire was the largest in history with one quarter of the world’s population under its influence. It is reported that WWII accelerated the decline of the British Empire, which ensued after that. My reading, thus far, does not suggest moral decay during the Victorian Era caused the decline of that Empire. My reading also suggests that the lower class worked very hard to enter the middle class, while the middle class worked very hard to gain admittance to the upper class.

    A few years ago I read The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values by Gertrude Himmelfarb (1994). The Victorian virtues were numerous and had to do with more than sex (honesty, hard work, thrift, individualism, capitalism, family, patriotism, cleanliness, self-reliance, and neighborliness). There is much more to this.

    Margaret Thatcher was reportedly interviewed during her 1983 election campaign and was derided by the interviewer for seemingly approving of Victorian values. To this she answered: “Oh, exactly. Very much so. Those were the values when our country became great.” This quote is found on the first page of the Prologue of Himmelfarb’s book.

    Thanks for your comments. This is an interesting topic.



  2. Frank Fujita Says:

    As someone who tries not to be judgmental about those who like different types of books, movies, and other culture, I wonder how the decline of the British, Spanish, Roman and Greek empires were preceded by the upper classes trying to be like the lower classes. If we postulate that there was decay in the British empire prior to its decline, then the decline happened DURING the Victorian era — a time famous for its strict sexual mores and the middle class desperately trying to emulate the upper class.

    I don’t find Goldberg’s analysis convincing.


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