May 26, 2008

Madison bumper sticker.

Madison bumper sticker

Because your political opinions are more important than protecting the innocence of children and your terrific sense of humor cancels out any ugliness that might seem to intrude on the sensitivities of repressed adults.

137 comments:

downtownlad said...

Are children so fragile that we can't teach them about renewable energy????

You've really gone off the deep end Ann.

montana urban legend said...

I'll go even further and ask why any ignorance on the part of children is referred to as the "innocence" of children.

Ann Althouse said...

Montana, do you have children? Perhaps you're not familiar with the way they ask questions all the time? They can read too.

Bissage said...
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Bissage said...
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somefeller said...

While I agree with both political sentiments expressed on the bumper stickers, I also think the one that doesn't refer to renewable energy is vulgar and says more about the person who owns the car than it does about any political issue. If you think it's cool to drive around with sexual profanities on bumper stickers on your car or other crass stuff like that (there was a story recently about the charming practice of hanging artificial bull's testicles from the winch or bumper of trucks, because, of course, that shows what a cool, no-boundaries type of person you are), then you've really shown your class, and it isn't one of the better ones.

And while I'm not a "what about the children" type, innocence isn't just a matter of lack of knowledge, it's also about the lack of emotional and intellectual tools that young children have to process certain information. There's a time and a place for everything, and explanations about what a blowjob is shouldn't be triggered by a six-year old seeing some vulgar person's car in front of mine at a stop light.

Bissage said...

I looked at that blowjob bumper sticker and I asked myself a question I ask frequently: Why would anybody ever do such a thing? What were they thinking?

And I was reminded of an odd encounter that happened in 2004, before the last presidential election. (Was it really that long ago?)

I had just parked the car and we were walking through the parking lot to the restaurant entrance when I saw a bumper sticker that read “Bush/Cheney 1984.” It was made to look authentic. (Hey, it’s on the intertubes.)

And of course I mouth off. I say to my friends, loud, something like, “Get a load of this one. About as subtle as a flying mallet.”

Guess who I didn’t see coming the other way?

That’s right, the guy who owned the car and I realize he had to have heard me and I’d better get ready for some trouble. (Okay, it wasn’t so much a restaurant as it was a brewpub where they serve some strong beer and he was coming out as we were going in.) He was in his mid-twenties and I’m in my mid-forties, for what it’s worth.

So, what does he say? He’s all smiles and he says, “Pretty cool, huh? It’s 1984, you know, just like the book.”

Now, I feel kind of sorry for him so I smile back and keep walking.

He continues. “You get it? 2004 is like 1984 because of, like, Bush.”

He’s only ten feet away and I don’t want to be rude so I have to say something so I smile and say, “Yeah, I get it.”

He says, “All right, man!” And he gives me a thumbs up.

Bissage said...

That's a true story.

PatCA said...

Oh, the wag was just being "brave"! That would be "brave" in the sense of shocking and insulting the bourgies, a tradition now as fresh as curdled milk.

Their comment about energy makes about as much sense as Chris Dodd's that giving people more rights and freedoms guarantees our national security.

Chip Ahoy said...

And it's just sooooo important to have everybody behind you know who you hate.

Simon Kenton said...

I'm with Ms Althouse on this one. I well remember thinking, "OK, any direct question gets a direct answer," and settling in to telling my little daughter what a blowjob is. But I was also thinking, "What a loss of a brilliant president. And how ungrateful I am to Bill Clinton that thanks to his behavior I get to explain this years before it would otherwise have been necessary."

former law student said...

First graders are still learning to read, while fifth graders already know about blowjobs, so you only have to worry about the six to nine year olds. Clinton got impeached for lying, so just tell your curious kids "blowjobs" are something you lie about (exactly true if you think about it). If they press you, tell them it's a kind of hair cut, like a blow dry, and that Senator Edwards got in trouble for getting a $400 blow dry.

If they persist, a simple "Ask your father" should do.

Jonathan said...

Bumper stickers are a window on the soul.

Chip Ahoy said...

This hits a nerve actually because it reminds me of a woman who hung around for awhile until I eventually drove her off over a bumper sticker she sports on the back of her new Subaru®. It reads something like, "I don't mind God it's his fan club I'm not too excited about." Something to that effect. After a few weeks of dating we were going somewhere and it was more convenient to take her car, quite naturally she chirps, "Let's take my car." I think, "Here we go." I say. "Let's not." "Why not?" "Because of your bumper sticker." "What's wrong with it?" *pauses for dramatic effect and for phrasing* "Because I don't care to be associated with a ridiculous statement that gratuitously picks a quarrel with people with people who are more interesting, smarter, and frankly, better than yourself."

So that was the beginning of an argument that put an end to our relationship. Suited me just fine. I did hate being in that car made ridiculous by its stupid bumper sticker.

Chip Ahoy said...

I was nothing but questions. My parents, bless them, were full of answers. But one leads to the next. It's how we conversed mostly. My parents would have ended up explaining why it's called a blow job and not a suck job, and if it's a job, do they get paid. etc. etc.

Beth said...

Thank God no children read your blog. The sensitive, repressed adults are on their own.

michael farris said...

"That's a true story."

And we're all a little poorer (and dumber) for reading about it.

vbspurs said...

If kids read Althouse's blog, then they know all about blowjobs.

It's the kids in carpools we need to think about, Beth.

BTW, I once saw a bumper sticker here in SoFla which read: "Enough Bush*t", with the I not starred out, of course.

I always wondered if there was a law against it (public indecency, etc.), or whether it's just the last remaining shreds of human decency that prevents more people from foisting this kind of expression in our faces, in public.

As I have only see it once, and since I don't live in Vermont or Oregon, I'm guessing it's the latter.

Cheers,
Victoria

Lawgiver said...

Bumper stickers are like a target, a big bulls eye on the back of your head. Why give anyone more reasons to hate you and want to kill you?

We drive around in multi-ton weapons called automobiles taunting people we don't know. If you want to play that game do it from the anonymity of a blog.

Simon said...

Bissage - I'm picturing the guy as the annoying server from Chachkeys in Office Space.

michael farris said...

"Because I don't care to be associated with a ridiculous statement that gratuitously picks a quarrel with people with people who are more interesting, smarter, and frankly, better than yourself."

If your goal was to start and argument that would end the relationship then that would certainly do it (no matter what the bumber sticker was).

On the other hand that does leave you open to a calm and collected (and very slightly concerned) "You seem to take bumper stickers pretty seriously" which doesn't leave you with much to say that won't make you sound like an idiot.

Simon said...

Victoria, if a cop actually issued a citation, he would immediately be swarmed with lefties insisting he was repressing political speech and working for the system. Why give them the opportunity to pump themselves up and think they're fighting "the man"?

vbspurs said...

My parents would have ended up explaining why it's called a blow job and not a suck job, and if it's a job, do they get paid. etc. etc.

Chip, I would've paid dearly to have had your parents in that situation.

From my two physician parents I got a diagramme of the sexual act on a napkin, including very accurate Fallopian tubes.

Being stunned, all I could do was eat my soup in silence, with no followups about suckjobs. I was 12.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

True dat, Simon.

But then, lefties are not that powerful in Miami. :)

SteveR said...

Hey I didn't thimk it was the blow job that got him impeached. Why not, "Why doesn't George Bush lie to a grand jury, so we can impeach him"

Or

Using Domestic Sources of Energy is Homeland Security

montana urban legend said...

I'm not sure what asking questions has to do with the notion of innocence.

I don't see why discomfort or embarrassment on the part of adults in discussing sexual matters with children reveals a fear that they will impart some kind of guilt onto them. Unless, of course, they feel that the Christian notion of original sin - (particularly the sexual part) - is or should be some kind of universal cultural norm. But who argues that?

I don't think adults should be so embarrassed about that stuff. Prefacing remarks with emphasis on what "adults" do, finding a balance between explicit, graphic details and more vague but perfectly functional explanations, etc., should be enough to get over any unnecessary and projected sense of shame. Of course, the decision to do so would be as much their choice as would be our collective decision to perpetuate this whole sex-guilt thing, which I'm sure you would understand that so many people find ridiculous, and why.

In short, embarrassment doesn't imply a moral component. Guilt does. One applies here and the other does not.

vbspurs said...

Speaking of bumper stickers on cars

dr kill said...

The weather here in Miami is truly wonderful today, blowjob or no blowjob.

vbspurs said...

Kinda cloudy where I am, Dr. Kill.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Bumper stickers are a window on the soul."

Yes they are. I have an attorney friend who when picking jurors always asks, after all the other pertinent questions, if the prospective juror has bumper stickers on his/her car and what they are.

It is very revealing. Often the bumper sticker on the car will contradict what he thought his questions had brought out about the person's inclinations in the case.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"I don't see why discomfort or embarrassment on the part of adults in discussing sexual matters with children reveals a fear that they will impart some kind of guilt onto them. Unless, of course, they feel that the Christian notion of original sin - (particularly the sexual part) - is or should be some kind of universal cultural norm. But who argues that?"

Obviously not a parent.

Maybe because parents would like to chose the time and place to discuss such things and driving down the I-10 freeway while trying not to get killed in rush hour traffic would not be the ideal time to discuss blow jobs with your 8 year old??

John Z. said...

Coincidentally, the latest Stuff White People Like is bumper stickers:

"It is a fact that white people will never turn down an opportunity to enlighten other people on the correct way to think. While this is very easy to do through email or face to face conversation, it is exceptionally difficult to do while driving a car. Fortunately for white people there is a solution that is both popular and ineffective: bumper stickers."

vbspurs said...

Maybe because parents would like to chose the time and place to discuss such things and driving down the I-10 freeway while trying not to get killed in rush hour traffic would not be the ideal time to discuss blow jobs with your 8 year old??

I have trouble envisioning an 80 year-old parent talking to his 60-year-old child about blowjobs.

This kinda reminds me of a scene in the film, Kinsey:

Wardell Pomeroy: How old were you when you first engaged in sexual activity with a partner?
Research Subject: 14.
Wardell Pomeroy: How?
Research Subject: With horse.
Wardell Pomeroy: [pause] How often were you having intercourse with animals at age 14?
Research Subject: [stunned] It's true. I f*cked a pony. You are genius, how did you know?
Wardell Pomeroy: You just said you had
[pause]
Wardell Pomeroy: sex with horse.
Research Subject: Nooo... Whores, not horse, *whores*.


Cheers,
Victoria

montana urban legend said...

Obviously not much of a driver.

You seem to take your kids down freeways a lot. The picture was taken of a parked car. And it's perfectly possible that both that car and the car you and the kid (whose very real existence must apparently now be acknowledged and saluted) might be moving at a leisurely 15 - 25 mph pace or so down a residential street. I'm sure those are not the most comfortable places to have conversations but for those who drive (in this era of cell phones, earbuds, Bluetooth, etc.), they're not at all nerve-wracking.

montana urban legend said...

Anyhow, will we get to touch on how this became a matter of guilt versus innocence or did someone else want to throw more red herrings my way first?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"I have trouble envisioning an 80 year-old parent talking to his 60-year-old child about blowjobs."

LOL. Well, obviously the right time and place to discuss hadn't occured for quite some time.

montana urban legend said...

While they're speeding down the interstate.

People shouldn't throw red fish out the window (let alone at others) while they're speeding down the interstate. It's almost as dangerous as explaining the birds and the bees (and their beaks and mandibles) while traveling down the interstate.

Much of the time a 60 - 80 year old might be driving really slowly, and holding up traffic, especially in a Florida retirement community. People complain all the time about seeing knuckles on a steering wheel and nothing else.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Anyhow, will we get to touch on how this became a matter of guilt versus innocence or did someone else want to throw more red herrings my way first?"

It has nothing, zero, zip, nada to to with guilt or innocence. It more has to do with a person displaying what some others would consider an offensive message. It has to do with the right of using free speech to offend others and the right not to be offended. As we know the right to offend trumps the right not to be offended.

It also has to do with the rights of the parents to chose how to raise their children and what information to impart to them. If they don't ever want to discuss sex until they are 80 years old, then that is their prerogative. Obviously we can't keep our children in a cocoon of ignorance, especially with their exposure to television, movies, books and everything else. Smart parents discuss these things with their children.....at the appropriate times and places.

BTW: my "child" is over 30 and can drive herself down the freeway.

Simon said...

John Z. said...
"Coincidentally, the latest Stuff White People Like is bumper stickers...."

I really dislike the misnomer in that site's name. It's more accurately titled "stuff that urban liberal white people like."

Meade said...

Would Somebody Please Give Me $2 For A Bumper Sticker That Demonstrates How Easily Parted A Fool And His Money Can Be?

montana urban legend said...

Being the queen of dust bunnies must entitle one to a lot, but if they're going to comment on a blog, why not entitle oneself to learning how to read?

The original post referred to:

"protecting the innocence of children"

Do you see that word? Notice, I did not make it up. It said "innocence".

Which implies that someone discussing the concept of innocence would respond with something more articulate than:

"It has nothing, zero, zip, nada to to with guilt or innocence."

Follow the comments. Read what's in them before "taking offense". At some point, the thread might come down to reading and the offense taken by intelligent people at others who criticize what they say while clearly lacking either an interest or ability in reading what they say.

Eva said...

My husband has the blowjob bumpersticker on his car. But I think he did it just so I won't ask to drive his car anymore.

Kirby Olson said...

Someone stencilled the f. word all over my village and my kids think the word is therefore in play.

It's embarrassing to have things like that come up. Parents in general are trying to keep their kids from thinking about stuff like that.

Kids can only take so much. Monta UL would probably show his kids snuff films as part of their education.

Kids just aren't ready for that sort of thing.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Montana, you might also learn to read the complete sentence instead of just picking out the part you want to quibble about.

The original post also referred to...."your terrific sense of humor cancels out any ugliness that might seem to intrude on the sensitivities of repressed adults."

This is the part that "I" feel like quibbling about. The right to offend and intrude. That part doesn't necessarily have anything to to with innocence of children.

Personally, I'm not so much offended by the blow job part as I am offended by the lack of knowledge about the Clinton impeachment, on the part of the bumper stickee.

Nevertheless, some people are offended and others think it is OK to do so.

montana urban legend said...

Which, if I don't say so myself, is a mighty opportune point given that we're discussing the issues involving kids who, um, apparently know how to read.

knoxwhirled said...

I remember a bumper sticker from when I was a kid that said "Ayatollah kiss my ass-a-hole-a."

montana urban legend said...

Yes, we can talk at quite some length and detail about the right to offend, etc. But from the second comment on, I quite specifically pointed out constructions utilizing the term "innocence" when referring to what kids know, especially regarding sex. No one's forced to respond to that comment of mine or comment on that point, but if that's the case they might want to either: say why not, or ignore the fact that that's all I'd focused on from that second comment onward.

I actually think the "taking offense" angle is a dodge (that everyone's entitled to), but to me, it's quite telling that we use phrases like "innocence". I think it's deliberately tied up with all that other stuff to which people supposedly take offense, which is something we can either discuss, or not. That's all.

Simon said...

Montana, you've not answered Ann's question: do you have kids?

montana urban legend said...

Whether or not I have kids is irelevent to the question of what sex has to do with conceptions of guilt or innocence. If you prefer to incorporate ad hominem angles into your viewpoints, that's one thing, Simon. But it doesn't make them relevent.

montana urban legend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
montana urban legend said...

Or how about I make you this bargain: Once you answer what conceptions of guilt/innocence have to do with sex then I'll take seriously the unlikely possibility that they have any any bearing on the discussion, let alone what that bearing is.

montana urban legend said...

That last comment's obviously directed at Justice Scalia's avatar.

blake said...

I was reading well before first-grade, montana. Started somewhere between 2-3 years old.

You may not be aware of the full definition of the word innocence:

The state, quality, or virtue of being innocent, as:

1. Freedom from sin, moral wrong, or guilt through lack of knowledge of evil.
2. Guiltlessness of a specific legal crime or offense.
3. Freedom from guile, cunning, or deceit; simplicity or artlessness.
4. Lack of worldliness or sophistication; naiveté.
5. Lack of knowledge or understanding; ignorance.

6. Freedom from harmfulness; inoffensiveness.

reader_iam said...

Hey! It's a teachable moment! "Son, you will meet a large number of assholes in life. One marker of such people is putting juvenile bumperstickers on the back of cars."

Ironically enough, it's the childishness of such bumperstickers that exasperates me most, to the degree I notice them at all (unless forced to ... say, by a request for explanation).

More seriously:

I can certainly understand why parents would prefer the point of entry for a conversation about sex not not be an explanation of a blowjob. Really, is that how most people would want to commence discussion of the overall topic? Forget about embarrassment or whatever; it's just an incoherent, out-of-order way to approach things. And it doesn't really lend itself well to explanation in a vacuum.

Montana, surely you can understand why driving down the road, even at 5 mph, is the best forum for conducting serious conversations with kids. For one thing, "Answering Questions 101" on topics that may be confusing to a kid involves being in a position to look your kids in the face and note the body language and expression. Parents use those cues to, you know, make sure they're getting through, that there's no discomfort that a kid might not be able or willing to express but that parents need to address, or at least be aware of. (Obviously, I'm talking about children, not so much middle-schoolers or teens.) This is an example of just a PRACTICAL issue.

Having a kid (7, soon to be 8) who seems to notice everything, reads very well indeed and is a question-box, I can't expend a lot of energy worrying about bumper stickers myself, because I wouldn't have to time to do anything else. Best, for me and us, to go with the flow. But I can certainly appreciate why this offends and aggravates other people, especially parents. And that this is part of the very reason that vulgar-bumpersticker lovers love to stick 'em on their bumpers.

P. Rich said...

The only bumper sticker I've ever seen that I truly appreciated was on the back of a van. It was alone on the bumper, in white with blocky black lettering, and it said:

Van

I thought, Like Zen, only different. Or not.

blake said...

If the bold doesn't make it clear, it's #4 and #5 we're talking about here, not so much #1 and #2.

That said, discussion of sex is almost entirely about parents not being ready to talk to their kids about it, not the other way around.

It's quite rude. Like a bumper sticker that said "There is no Santa Claus"?

montana urban legend said...

Blake, you really think that definitions 4 and/or 5 account for the way people intend to use the term when they do?

Simon said...

Montana, whether you have kids has a lot to do with whether you understand the concerns of parents. Your evasiveness and attempt to avoid answering the question suggests that you understand that point full well, and, moreover, gives us a strong hint what the answer is. Your 1:38 comment also suggests that you don't know what "ad hominem" means.

reader_iam said...

... driving down the road, even at 5 mph, is NOT the best forum ...

vbspurs said...

My, blowjobs sure are popular on Memorial Day.

vbspurs said...

That wasn't meant to imply negativity about blowjobs, BTW.

I like, err..., never mind.

montana urban legend said...

Also Blake, the tree of knowledge was in reference to the knowledge of the difference between good and evil. So obviously naivite itself, absent notions of guilt and innocent, can't be the primary reason why we incorporate the term "innocence" into that concept.

This was what I was going to post in response to Simon:

I mean, come on Justice Scalia wanna-be. Seeing as how you like to pose other people's questions surely you can defend their significance. What does a copper-age goat herder's story to The Supernatural Being about how the talking snake convinced the woman made from his ribs to eat an apple that made him want to have sex with her (which brings new meaning to the concept of an aphrodisiac) have to do with conceptions of guilt or innocence today? And what does being a parent have to do with that? Precocious minds (and merely rational adults) want to know!

Anyways, I'm heading off to enjoy the rest of the day. Have fun at this stumper; I'll try to check back on y'all later.

reader_iam said...

Blake, you really think that definitions 4 and/or 5 account for the way people intend to use the term when they do?

You didn't ask me, but yes, in context.

What is up with you?

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"Once you answer what conceptions of guilt/innocence have to do with sex then I'll take seriously the unlikely possibility that they have any any bearing on the discussion, let alone what that bearing is."

See Blake's reply, above. Your position rests on being unaware of a common alternative definition of the word "innocence."

reader_iam said...

Ah. I see the troll already answered the question.

Simon said...

Reader - what's up with him? Easy. He didn't know that the alternative definition existed, took a position that looks silly to everyone who did know what the word means, and now he's trying to bluster his way out of it.

montana urban legend said...

Simon, your evasiveness at answering the question of what sex has to do with conceptions of guilt or innocence suggests that, regardless of your parenting status or your knowledge of the "concerns of parents", you either don't like or don't know how to answer questions. If they make you feel uncomfortable, that's ok. Just don't shift the question into something it wasn't and then pretend that your appeal to authority made your own question material to the question you evaded.

blake said...

Blake, you really think that definitions 4 and/or 5 account for the way people intend to use the term when they do?

About children, and in this context? Yes. No one is suggesting that children become guilty by learning about this stuff.

Now, I do wonder about the Christian use of "innocent children" in the sense of #1, since we're all born in sin, so it must be #2 that they mean when they refer to (e.g.) "innocent children being killed".

blake said...

My, blowjobs sure are popular on Memorial Day.

Not that I've done a wide amount of scientific surveying on the subject, but I don't think it's just Memorial day.

reader_iam said...

No one is suggesting that children become guilty by learning about this stuff.

Except for--though he apparently doesn't realize it--Montana (a.k.a. the Sean Penn wanna-be; Simon, you missed the obvious opportunity).

LOL.

montana urban legend said...

So Simon, you believe that the "alternative definition" is a common one that people have in mind and has nothing to do with the Adam and Eve story that obviates it? Not looking silly is easy when you care more for being popular in front of your own audience than coming up with an explanation that makes sense. See 2:33 comment for details.

montana urban legend said...

Blake, the only way to take that explanation seriously is to deny the "Judeo-Christian" influence on American culture. If you want to argue that, fine, but does Justice Scalia want to? That's my question.

Reader, at some point it's impossible to deny the question of where and how naivite became interchangeable with innocence. If one term has completely replaced another in a limited context, that's one thing. But it doesn't mean the concept which it represents has.

And you're all dodging the inevitable question of how innocence, even if it means naivite, came to be valued in the first place. If it's simply for the sake of convenience on the part of parents, that's what I've stated all along.

Ralph said...

I remember Dad taking us to see "Patton" when I was 9. First there was a trailer with Hot Lip's shower scene from MASH. Real blonde? What's so funny? Later I asked my father, "shoveling what?"

There was a time when a cop had the authority to tell people to remove or stop doing something offensive, and they would have.

montana urban legend said...

Reader, I rather like the Sean Penn avatar. Do you really think that Spicolli was made to look as foolish as Simon Scalia believes I (or he, or whomever) am/are making me out to be?

Context. Context.

blake said...

If it's simply for the sake of convenience on the part of parents, that's what I've stated all along.

You have a cantankerous way of agreeing.

Reader, at some point it's impossible to deny the question of where and how naivite became interchangeable with innocence.

This discussion isn't it, I think. However:

It is one thing to knowingly and consciously do no evil, that's one form of innocence. It's another thing to be unable to do evil, because one has no concept of it.

That's at least as old as the English word "innocence" and probably goes back a lot farther.

AllenS said...

When I was a kid, in the 1950's my father had a trailer that had a bumper sticker on it that said: Dim It, Damn It.

I though that was really cool.

reader_iam said...

simply for the sake of convenience on the part of parents

I'd say, "you've got to be kidding!, except it's become clear that you're not.

/troll feeding.

montana urban legend said...

Glad we agree on that, Blake - sorry if you found it cantankerous that I pointed out that I had said as much throughout the thread. And your point on what knowledge has to do with innocence is well-taken, even if I think it's different from the point I'm getting at. As for the etymology of the word "innocence", my take (from my ostensibly idiotic, Jeff Spicoli perspective, of course) would be, that it's likely a French word - imported into England after 1066. In other words, long after either William's or Harold's kingoms had converted to Christianity. Just a guess, of course.

montana urban legend said...

Reader, just because you don't understand somebody's point doesn't mean they're a troll. But you can keep saying it if you want to.

Cedarford said...

While coarse or worse bumper stickers Drivers have some "free speech" protections against "The Man", they don't against offended motorists.

Years ago, a friend, normally a calm nice guy, was set off by being behind someone in a nice Acura sporting a huge bumper sticker "Don't Like My Driving? - Call 1-800-EAT-SHIT". He was with his kids in the car.
A week later he saw the same car parked in an adjoining town. He wrote a note and stuck it in the windshield wiper.

Then went down one side from headlight to tail-light, plus trunk, with a sharp screwdriver, cutting the paint down to bare metal on 5 car panels.

His note mentioned the obscene bumper sticker, his kids reading it, and if the driver was offended, to call 1-800-EAT-SHIT. He told me later that he regretted it and felt he overreacted.

I asked him if he felt bad enough to turn himself in and offer to pay for repairs.

"No, not that bad."

mrs whatsit said...

Montana, when people use the word "innocent" in connection with adults, they are probably thinking most often of the definition you've selected -- that is, guilt vs. innocence. But used in connection with children, especially with children who have done nothing but read a bumper sticker on somebody else's car, it ought to be obvious that the word is meant to carry the connotation directly associated with childhood -- lack of worldliness, naivete, and most of all, lack of adult knowledge of the ugly side of the world. What's puzzling to me is why you would spend a whole thread protesting that the meaning you chose to attach to a word with several meanings must be the same and only one that Ann intended -- even though the meaning you're insisting on is inconsistent with what she says she meant and also with the context of the rest of the post. Kinda mysterious.

somefeller said...

I can, and do, curse like a sailor in the proper circumstances. One shouldn't use profanity excessively, because then it blunts the force of when you are using it to really make a point.

Here's the thing - why is it so hard for people to go through life without putting vulgar and profane slogans on their car? This isn't a liberal or conservative issue, as I've certainly seen some pretty crass right-wing bumper stickers and, including references to Hillary as a bitch, or this gem: "I'll forgive Jane Fonda when the Jews forgive Hitler" (seen on a car in Tampa, Florida), and I suspect a lot of right-wing libertarians would defend the right and propriety of displaying such bumper stickers as would many liberals. It's one thing to make a political statement with a candidate or partisan sticker, including one that has a bit of bite to it (like "And I didn't vote for his daddy, either!"), but it's another to basically display the equivalent of trashy graffiti on your car for all to see, including those who aren't interested in seeing it. It's not just a matter of protecting children, it's also a matter of adults showing some modicum of class.

vbspurs said...

When I was a kid, in the 1950's my father had a trailer that had a bumper sticker on it that said: Dim It, Damn It.

Honkey cracker caucasian white boy.

Pogo said...

The bumper sticker here is more evidence that our society, and much of the Western world, has lost the very thin veneer of civilization.

Tact, decorum, timing, selectivity, rejecting the crass and low, and all forms of manners are now sneered at. Some families have gone 2 or 3 generations without anyone knowing enough not to TALK AT THE TOP OF THEIR VOICE IN EVERY POSSIBLE SITUATION WHASSAMATTA YOUGOTTAPROBLEMWITDAT?

We thus make another step into barbarianism.
(Oh, don't be so dramatic)


I'll put it this way. People under 40 often don't seem to be embarrassed by anything they say or do. The sense of shame is lost, and with it, hope.

montana urban legend said...

Thank you, Mrs Whatsit. That's more like the kind of thought and analysis that makes misunderstandings meaningful opportunities for learning. The "whole thread" I've contributed to stems from precisely this misunderstanding, as I had never heard anyone in the circle of my family, extended family or friends use this definition. Ever. I know it is used in the popular culture and it is difficult for me to accept that that usage doesn't stem from the much more common definition - to such a point that I have always assumed the two uses to be semantically linked, even if some here think there is some gain to be gotten out of a display of ridicule over their contention that there isn't.

So what remains mysterious to me, if you can stomach the possibility that people have different experiences in life, is that while the consensus on this thread is to contend that the two definitions are completely unrelated, why, for instance would you use an expression such as "most of all...the ugly side of the world" in explaining the less common definition? Especially if we are to remove the meaning from Western religious sexual prejudices. Ignorance is not by definition ignorance of specifically "ugly" things. Why is it that, outside of any legal context, the word "innocent" is never used in reference to ignorance of anything other than sex? If I am wrong on that count then any link to three citations through a search engine as ubiquitous as GOOGLE, for instance, of such a use would convince me otherwise.

So in the end, maybe what I've posted here might strike you as bizarre, which I can accept. But what is difficult for me to accept is that someone who is struck by that would find it so odd to witness someone for whom such usage was not the norm, immediately tracing the definition back to all the cultural baggage regarding unrealistic attitudes toward sex, undeniably common among most of the country, that almost certainly represents at least its provenance, if not, at least in many cases, its possible metaphor. Would you really find such speculation all that contentious? And if not, would you really find my assumption that on some level it's likely the case to be so objectionable?

Simon said...

reader_iam said...
"Except for--though he apparently doesn't realize it--Montana (a.k.a. the Sean Penn wanna-be; Simon, you missed the obvious opportunity"

Sorry - he was boring me. I went to see Iron Man instead.

Ann Althouse said...

Pogo said..."The bumper sticker here is more evidence that our society, and much of the Western world, has lost the very thin veneer of civilization."

And consider that this is undoubtedly someone who perceives herself (or himself) as altruistic. You see the stick figure in the lower right corner? That sticker says: "Children are people too."

Other stickers on the same car: "Coexist," "God Bless the Freaks," "Native Pride, Native Power, Native Vote. Your Voice Counts," "None but ourselves can free our minds," "If u can read this, roll me one" (upside down), "Karma happens," "Make art, not war," and, of course, "Impeach Bush."

Ann Althouse said...

Is that Spicoli guy talking about anything?

mrs whatsit said...

I didn't find it objectionable so much as mystifying. It never occurred to me that you'd be unfamiliar with the usage, which is -- in my experience -- extremely common.

As for usages of the word in the context of childlike unworldliness with no sexual connotation, here's one -- from Wordsworth's classic meditation on the loss of childhood innocence: "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood." This is not the whole poem; I don't have time to fiddle around making a URL for the link. Just Google the title if you want to read all of it.

. . . Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.

mrs whatsit said...

"Why is it that, outside of any legal context, the word "innocent" is never used in reference to ignorance of anything other than sex? If I am wrong on that count then any link to three citations through a search engine as ubiquitous as GOOGLE, for instance, of such a use would convince me otherwise."

There is no reason somebody else should do this work for you. But if you don't know how, try this: Click over to Google advanced-search, put in "innocent" and "child" for the words you want, and put in "sex" for a word you don't want. You will find thousands upon thousands of uses of the word in a non-sexual context, which is absolutely routine and common. For instance, on a web page for a non-profit organization:

War Child International is a network of independent organisations, working across the world to help children affected by war.

War Child was founded upon a fundamental goal: to advance the cause of peace through investing hope in the lives of children caught up in the horrors of war.

War Child works in many different conflict areas around the world, helping hundreds of thousands of children every year.

Please find out how YOU can help these innocent victims of war!


No War !

And now I have other things to think about.

dr kill said...

Hahahaha. Thanks for reading the rest of the hatch on that old Volvo stationwagon. Those poor 35-40 somethings who missed the sixties are still trying to make up for it all these years later.

This is what to tell your kids during a sidewalk civics lesson.(And the owners of the Volvo).

To be correct, it wasn't that the blowjob was impeachable, but the oh-so-totally lying about it under oath. That and the Paula Jones OOJ thing. And actually, the US Senate was cool with the lying and OOJ. Only the House voted to impeach.

And to politically correct, there are no Native Americans, only First Americans.

SMGalbraith said...

I have an attorney friend who when picking jurors always asks, after all the other pertinent questions, if the prospective juror has bumper stickers on his/her car and what they are.

Yep, I've served on jury duty twice.

And on each occasion during questioning, we were asked by the defense attorneys if we had bumper stickers on our car and what they were.

Joan said...

Unless, of course, they feel that the Christian notion of original sin - (particularly the sexual part) - is or should be some kind of universal cultural norm.

mul: original sin has nothing to do with sexuality. Original sin is man's disobedience and subsequent ejection from the garden. It signifies man's separation from God, the literal fall from grace.

The tree from which Adam & Eve ate, against orders, was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Sexuality was among the things they gained knowledge of, but it wasn't the only thing.

montana urban legend said...

Joan,

Are you serious? Christianity doesn't view sexuality in a sinful light? Are you sure about that?


Whatsit,

I'm obviously familiar with the usage. Just not with anyone using it purposely, at least not from personal experience.

Thanks for the poem. If that indeed literally had no sexual connotations, then I would not be surprised if such usage was more common in earlier times, especially closer to the Victorian era. The question is why it should only persist to this day in a sexual manner. Because out of the "thousands upon thousands of uses of the word in a non-sexual context" which you mention, the only one you cite (children and war) didn't relate to ignorance. That was the other definition- pertaining to guilt, not knowledge.


Professor Althouse,

I believe some of the individuals commenting on your blog were talking with me about the uses of language. I just responded to two of them.

montana urban legend said...

Joan - I see where you're coming from insofar as sin (eating the apple) led to knowledge, which led to sex. And therefore sex itself was not the sin in question. But aren't those events still seen as related from a theological perspective?

Pogo said...

"When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainment, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk: culture-death is a clear possibility."
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, 1985, p155

Here Postman was talking about television, but the trivialization of discourse he laments also describes the bumper sticker, especially one laced with profanity.

In his book The Disappearance of Childhood, Postman also covers the idea that childhood itself, a relatively modern creation, is in fact disappearing, furthered along bit by bit, by TV, by Hannah Montana (whose career is furthered and not shortened by appearing bedded) and drugged Britney and Bratz, and by stupid and malevolent bumper stickers like these.

According to Postman, childhood is primarly a social construct. It existed among the ancient Greeks, but vanished during the Dark Ages. He argues that when literacy disappears and childhood as a distinction is rejected, civilization soon follows.

Michael_H said...

Those wacky Progressives and their bumper stickers! They always crack me up. Solving the world's problems, one slogan at a time.

Once they make enough money to buy a really nice car, like a BMW or Porsche, no more bumper stickers. It's okay to Coexist or to Visualize Whirled Peas on a Subaru or six-year-old Tercel, but not on a new car.

That car with the 'give Bush a blowjob' bumper sticker - I'd bet it's owned by a lesbian, which makes it doubly funny to her friends. Yawn.

I didn't see that bumper sticker on any of the cars I saw at the Memorial Day Ceremony today at the Wood National Veterans' Cemetery in Milwaukee.

Come to think of it, there weren't any veterans' cemetery photos or comments today on this blog. Too busy snarking about blow jobs, I guess, to be interested in Memorial Day.

vbspurs said...

Coexist

Oh GOD yes. Everywhere. Especially on Minis -- the wannabe-hippie car du jour.

Cheers,
Victoria

Pogo said...

Too busy snarking about blow jobs, I guess
Last year, when returning home, I was stopped by a smiling young TV reporter and her cameraman. I had tried to avoid them, but she stepped into my path and asked, Do you know what day it is today?

I only knew it was Flag Day because someone whom she had just asked was muttering to a friend aloud, I didn't know it was flag day, she said. So the reporter asked me and I said, That's a pretty cheap trick to play just to get a more-observant-than-thou piece in time for the 10 pm news, isn't it?

They didn't use my comment on air. It was a predictable lament about nonobservance.

P.S. Ever notice the only one that cannot coexist is the crescent "C"?

reader_iam said...

Michael H: I doubt you have any real knowledge of what people here were or were not doing this weekend or today, off-line. But assume all you like.

reader_iam said...
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reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

And if you're going to get all purist about things, where's the reference to Decoration Day? And why not weigh in on the May 30 vs. last-Monday-in-May-so's-we-get-another-three-day-weekend controversy?

By the way, I assume you participated in NO conversation today unless it was [added] specifically related to Memorial Day. Right?

Sheesh.

former law student said...

I assume you participated in NO conversation today specifically related to Memorial Day

For interest, my wife and I did. None of our uncles was killed in World War II, even though hers were all in the Marines (one uncle fought on Iwo Jima) and mine was a paratrooper. I put out the flag, but I always forget to take it in until after dark.

The funny thing about those we know who fought in WWII is that none of them spoke about their service in the war till they were at least 75. The unit my father-in-law was in had a reunion almost a decade ago, and they used the internet to find him. On the web is a picture of him as a young marine, handsome, bare-chested except for dog tags, wearing some sort of pith helmet.

reader_iam said...

FLS: I later corrected that exerpted part to restore the skipped, intended words. But I still really, really appreciate your story.

montana urban legend said...

Pogo (9:50), you bring up a potentially interesting idea. Childhood being a social construct and all. But as long as you're going to base your ideas on the decline of civilization on openness, and particularly sexual openness - which is what prompted the discussion in the first place - don't you think it's disingenuous to confirm not only its (civilization's) existence among the ancient Greeks but its decline during the Dark Ages? The ancient Greeks were pretty hard-core into sodomy and pederasty (often in combination and in a very open manner), and the Dark Ages came after the rise of, well, you know, that "civilizing" and sexually repressive religion in question.

I mean, I know you Midwesterners and Southerners like to feel morally superior to the East and West Coasters - perhaps in retaliation to their own attitudes, which, in turn, frame yours as representative of cultural inferiority - but don't you think the ideas you latch onto, in order to bolster your own thoughts on "civilization" should at least make sense?

Just wondering.

Michael_H said...

reader - I made no assumption in my post about what you did or did not do off-line today. None.

I commented about the lack of any mention of Memorial Day on this blog and in this topic. Period.

Save your indignation for another time.

Inspektor Friedrich said...

Hi, Amanda.

Great job! Haha!

Palladian said...

I was having breakfast with my mother yesterday at the Bob Evans in my conservative southern Pennsylvania hometown. Being Sunday morning, most of the clientèle was elderly people fresh from church. I pointed out to my mother a handsome tattooed young man hauling a baby with a pregnant woman in tow. He was wearing a t-shirt that read:

"The only job I want is a good blow job."

I was torn between disgust at the uncouth shirt and the desire to oblige the young man.

Theo Boehm said...

Well, if you would have something for Decoration Day, here is a photo of some Civil War graves not far from my house.  Note the GAR badge.  This is a wider view.

Here is Louisa May Alcott's grave, with the medallion indicating her service as a Nurse during the Civil War.

This is a wider view of the same simple grave.  I was moved to tears when I first saw it.

Here is the monument to Company K, First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery.

I am very fortunate to live within walking distance of this cemetery.  It is a good hike, however, so my Decoration Day carbon footprint is usually larger than mere shoeleather would make.  I do not, however, have any bumper stickers on my car.  I have to tell you it is a Subaru.  I live where you can see, and I use a Macintosh computer.  This all paints a picture for some people, so, unlike Bronson Alcott, I feel a certain amount of Yankee restraint about announcing my high-minded Concord principles too loudly.

reader_iam said...

Michael H: Not indignant. Exasperated, yes, a long with a tad amused. And you conveniently are overlooking this part of what you wrote--the part, by the way, which led to my response--Too busy snarking about blow jobs, I guess, to be interested in Memorial Day.--so come off it, dude.

Now I'm way, WAY more amused than exasperated. Thanks for that.

reader_iam said...

Michael H: Not indignant. Exasperated, yes, a long with a tad amused. And you conveniently are overlooking this part of what you wrote--the part, by the way, which led to my response--Too busy snarking about blow jobs, I guess, to be interested in Memorial Day.--so come off it, dude.

Now I'm way, WAY more amused than exasperated. Thanks for that.

Theo Boehm said...

And no matter how he might have felt about President Polk, I'm sure blow jobs would not have entered the discussion for Thoreau.

reader_iam said...

Hey, Theo--was thinking about you earlier today, wondering how you were doing, because I happened to get into a conversation about Powell and Haines flutes, when I was out and about this Memorial Day, and I kid you not.

How cool is this (that)?

Theo Boehm said...

Hi, Reader! Possibly very cool, indeed.

Hope you had a good Memorial Day! The weather was gorgeous here in New England, but I was so tired from last week when my wife was away in California and I had to be Mr. Mom to the boys, that I just sat around and watched the grass grow. Nice day for it, though. Concord center was blocked off because of the usual Civil War reenactors, Memorial Day celebrations, etc., that I didn't venture out of my yard.

We didn't even listen to Charles Ives' Decoration Day, which if you know it, will really raise a lump in your throat, and which I usually blare out at some point during the day.

Hope you did more interesting things!

reader_iam said...

I am indeed familiar with it, and for a very, very long time [ ; ) ], as it happens.

This Ives is not that, but perhaps you'll appreciate my linking to it anyway, for one reason and another.

vbspurs said...

Blowjob talk aside, some of us did commemorate Memorial Day (I had my US Flag draped over my balcony).

Which is more than can be said for Google, who didn't have one of trademarked their cutesy drawings around their name.

Earth Day, St. Paddy's, heck even Secretaries Day. They all get the royal treatment from Google. But the men and women who served and some died for this country -- nada.

Anyone seen a bumpersticker for sale which reads, "Google are commie pinko bastards who don't deserve a blowjob"?

This irate white lady would be grateful.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

/one of their trademarked, cutesy drawings around their name.

blake said...

But as long as you're going to base your ideas on the decline of civilization on openness, and particularly sexual openness - which is what prompted the discussion in the first place - don't you think it's disingenuous to confirm not only its (civilization's) existence among the ancient Greeks but its decline during the Dark Ages? The ancient Greeks were pretty hard-core into sodomy and pederasty (often in combination and in a very open manner), and the Dark Ages came after the rise of, well, you know, that "civilizing" and sexually repressive religion in question.

No, you have the sequence wrong.

"Society enters stoic and exits epicurean" as Will Durant said.

Societies begin repressive and disciplined because that's how they survive and flourish. Having flourished, subsequent generations see less and less reason to adhere to morals of old. But those morals were unforgivingly pro-survival and the new ones evolve from an attitude that "we are indestructible".

This leads us to another Durant quote: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars."

What happens, then, after the society is destroyed from "barbarians", is that the new civilization regresses back to the stoic ways.

In other words, it's not as though the Church conquered the ancient empires of Greece and Rome and imposed sexual repression on them, thus destroying civilization; the ancient empires were more concerned with luxuries (including sexual ones) than survival, and the Church stepped in and created a degree of stability that would not have otherwise prevailed.

Also, when referring to "The Dark Ages" and "The Renaissance", it's probably a good perspective point to recall that the people who called those times "The Dark Ages" or "The Middle Ages" were the people who called themselves "The Renaissance".

The idea that all progress stopped for a 1,000 years may not be an entirely accurate one. There were advances in agriculture and equestrianism, for example. I remember the notion being contested when I was in school, and the pendulum may have swung too far--after all, there was necessarily a decline in quality of life--but it's a point-of-view worth studying.

blake said...

Victoria,

Yeah, the Google thing sucks. Their vaunted "Don't be evil" slogan seems to boil down to "Ya can't be too left wing!"

I've been trying out other search engines for a while, preparing for the eventuality.

Pogo said...

Blake,

Well said.

montana urban legend said...

But Blake, isn't the problem with the narrative you construct, the fact that neither Athens (nor Sparta) had the sort of sexual mores imposed by Christianity? I can see your point about luxury, and even licentiousness, but isn't it true that the Greeks never had the kind of mores that European civilization developed (with the exception perhaps, of those promulgated by Augustus during the death of the Republic), and isn't that really the point? I would link to the Wikipedia article I found last night on "Pederasty in Ancient Greece... in Athens", etc., but am reluctant to do so at work.

The whole point of the bumper sticker post was not that the bumper sticker was encouraging hedonistic frivolity, but that it merely mentioned or made reference to a sexual act in a political context that was all over the media in the recent past. I daresay the ancient Greeks or Romans wouldn't have had such a problem with the mere mentioning of such an act, regardless of the specific period of their civilization. And their own political graffiti?

I never would have argued that Christianity "conquered" the empires of antiquity. Please. I know that much. And your point about the achievements that did occur during the "Dark Ages" is well-taken. I was aware of this too.

Personally, I think the whole relation between licentiousness and civilization is over-stated either way. Or perhaps it's a bit of a Rohrshach test, with people seeing in it what they want to. But at least this helps make the conversation topical.

The most reasonable view is that perhaps a balance is required, assuming you buy into sexual stoicism being a "pro-growth" or "pro-survival" factor for societies, particularly in their inception. I could accept that on the condition that open-ness, tolerance in what they're able to discuss and where is also essential to prevent them from becoming stagnant and irrelevent.

Pogo said...

Personally, I think the whole relation between licentiousness and civilization is over-stated.

Not a surprise.
Yet the West crumbles apace. In Europe, it is being replaced by the strict moralistic Islamists. The licentious Western libertines cannot even be bothered to reproduce themselves, so violence is redundant.

Are you correct about the absence of a link, despite historians having noted the close tie?
I'll place my bet with Durant.

montana urban legend said...

I don't know what I'm "correct" or incorrect about, insofar as neither I nor any historian has a claim to absolute truth. But at first I thought you meant the Wikipedia link, which certainly does make it a point to remind us of how pederasty/sodomy were always a feature of Greek civilization - downfall, rise, you name it. In fact, if you want to get into details, art historians link the ascendence of the female form in the arts to decline, at least chronologically. But should we take that to mean civilization was a male homosexual phenomenon, disdainful of the unadulterous, heterosexual marriages later promoted as a corrective to them by Augustus, at least to people inclined to reading sexual issues into how civilization comes about or declines? Not sure how social conservatives would respond to that, but it looks like they're now conveniently shifting the goalposts to mute their traditional opposition to homosexuality anyway.

Pogo, the point you make is absurd. You say Europe is going into decline because it is being replaced by "strict moralist Islamists", in which case, they now represent civilization. But I somehow don't see you embracing them. You embrace their moralism, but I assume you deny that it is or will soon be associated with a superior civilization - effectively negating your own argument. And what non-existent "moral decline" led to the downfall of Islamic civilization following their retreat from Spain (al-Andalus)? The Muslims have managed to maintain their puritanism for quite some time now, without any discernable link to the cycles of their own glories and falls.

Theo Boehm said...

Reader--Thank you very much for that. I had no idea that recording existed, and that Ives was still in condition to play the piano that well in 1943. He was a fine pianist.

I've always loved the "Alcotts" movement of the Concord Sonata, because, among other reasons, it captures perfectly the psychology and something of the spirit of Bronson Alcott, my absolute favorite among the Concord Transcendentalists. Poor "Necessity's Daughter," Louisa May, had to support Dad and all, but he was so charmingly cracked, so high-mindedly whacked out, that he has cast his shadow across Concord reformers ever since. You can never quite take anyone from Concord with political or social opinions seriously, because floating insubstantially just above them is the evanescent Shade of Bronson Alcott, which never fails to bring a smile to the lips of those sensitive enough to feel his presence.

Also, now that the annual Rt. 62 and Avoiding Monument Street Construction Season is about to begin, I drive by Orchard House and Hillside on my way to work. Orchard House looked a bit spiffier today than the photos in the YouTube link, what with the Spring plantings sprouting out and all.

Anyway, Reader, hearing that music this morning has cast a benediction over what I'm sure will be an ordinary and dreary work day, and so I thank you again.

former law student said...

Victoria: Yahoo (at least their home page) paired their logo with a set of dog tags and a Purple Heart this weekend. So that would be an easy change of search engines.

Pogo said...

You say Europe is going into decline because it is being replaced by "strict moralist Islamists", in which case, they now represent civilization.
No, I say Europe is going into decline AND AS A RESULT (not because) it is being replaced by "strict moralist Islamists".

Strict moralism does not equal civilization. The islamists are barbarians now; they used to have cultural success until they rejected advances in favor of a "return" to some imagined past. Hence their previous decline. Western civilization has repeatedly beaten back the barbarians. But this time the barbarians are winning because the West is dying off. Not unlike the fall of Rome at all.

There is no reason to create a straw man of "strict moralism" in re the fall of nations. Pointing out the excesses of libertinism and licentsiousness and their contribution to the decline of a state are enough.

Hoosier Daddy said...

The ancient Greeks were pretty hard-core into sodomy and pederasty (often in combination and in a very open manner), and the Dark Ages came after the rise of, well, you know, that "civilizing" and sexually repressive religion in question.

Wow. You certaintly made quite a causal leap there. Most historians will argue the Dark Ages (which weren't all that dark to begin with) had a lot more to do with the fall of the Western Roman empire rather than Christianity's sexual repression (whatever that is) Then again, the Eastern Empire (Byzantium) which also practiced that sexually repressive religion flourised.

Hoosier Daddy said...

There is no reason to create a straw man of "strict moralism" in re the fall of nations. Pointing out the excesses of libertinism and licentsiousness and their contribution to the decline of a state are enough.

Well the Islamists may have their sense of morals but they are no less active in the sack as evidenced by their 4:1 birth rates versus the Europeans who simply prevent pregnancies in the first place.

montana urban legend said...

These are all interesting points.

Regarding this one in particular:

"Strict moralism does not equal civilization."

I couldn't agree more.

The interesting idea is what else has led to Europe's decline as a civilization (assuming that notion). How about nationalism in itself? Without a common language linking 20+ states it's not too easy to have a good sense of political cohesion. The competition they experienced before (both in a military, and later, an economic sense) might have been served by higher population densities than those which are necessary now - population densities (and an overall population) that are still much higher than that of the U.S. What the Arab Muslims offer is a common language with which to link a continent that has thus far sought, with varying degrees of success, to integrate itself anyway.

I'd say the dynamics related to European integration are much more pertinent to its transition as a "civilization". That, and assuming Muslim integration will permanently transform Europe in the manner in which you both predict, the continent's proximity to steady populations of Middle Easterners willing to emigrate.

montana urban legend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph said...

At lunch, I was following an old car full of young rednecks with the breast cancer pink ribbon on the trunk, overlaid with "Save the Ta-Ta's."

Montana, as I recall, respectable Greek and Roman men were as protective of their unmarried daughters' chastity and wives' fidelity as any Victorian gentleman or Muslim cleric. Of course there were courtesans and catamites (and rape of household slaves), but the family females were pretty much sequestered.

One of the Saudi kings or crown princes used to load up his airliner with boys and girls so he wouldn't soil their sacred soil. What doesn't happen in Arabia, doesn't happen.

blake said...

The Greeks were rather particular about what their women did, less so their men.

You'll notice that the Wiki refers to the period of pederasty as being after--whaddayaknow--the "Dark Ages". Dark Ages--when reality slaps you across the face and says, "Hey, you're hanging by a thread here"--tend to be when the "sexual repression" comes in.

People get very concerned about what others are doing with their genitals because they have to be. It's a matter of group survival.

Seriously, though, it's wrong to speak of "the Greeks" as if there were only one culture, and this is a bigger topic than this Theatre of Topicks (as Sir Archy calls it) reasonably permits.

I daresay the ancient Greeks or Romans wouldn't have had such a problem with the mere mentioning of such an act

I'm not sure what your point is. We are neither Greeks nor Romans. And as much as we admire those cultures, they would seem to us barbarous and grotesque in ways we can barely imagine were we to actually experience them.

To say nothing of unpleasant.

Indeed, I don't doubt the poorest of Americans could give the richest Athenians and Romans a run for their money, in terms of indolence and epicurean pursuits.

I feel as though we've gotten off point, however. People object to the bumper sticker because it represents a coarsening of society, the elevation of partisanship above any sense of decorum and, yes, because they don't want to have to confront their six-year-old's questions.

And it seems to me the reaction here is just so: Few are arguing that they don't or shouldn't have the right to make the statement; most are just wishing there were fewer assholes in the world.

I don't have a problem with that, do you?

blake said...

And as far as "The Turk" goes, though I'm not an expert, the Ottoman Empire seems to have been undone by a famously corrupt bureaucracy, something common to Rome (if not Greece and Persia).

It has not escaped me that the sort of bribery, graft, licentiousness, etc., that would outrage--OUTRAGE!--us goes virtually unremarked elsewhere.

Morality has many facets. And the Puritans may have something in their valuation of "character".

MySpace Design said...

That sticker is so funny. I must be getting slow it took me a minute to get it.

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Aleena said...

Bumper Stickers