Green Room

Challenge and Respect

posted at 1:29 am on February 3, 2010 by

A recent study, published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, found that a group of sixth- and seventh-graders exposed to abstinence-based sex education was significantly less likely to participate in sexual activity over the following two years, compared to a control group that did not receive such education. This is an intriguing development in the long, bitter war over sex education. It also has implications for the wider debate about the importance of culture, and whether it can be shaped to the benefit, or detriment, of both children and adults.

Conservatives take a lot of heat for expressing concerns about cultural matters. Some prefer to identify themselves clearly as “fiscal conservatives,” advertising their unwillingness to engage on cultural matters. Much of the prejudice against religious conservatives stems from the generally accurate perception that they consider cultural issues important, and address them from the disciplined standpoint of religious faith.

There is a sense that cultural issues are a quagmire for conservatives, a pool of radioactive quicksand that resists all efforts at positive change, and repels vitally-needed independent allies. The Left’s control of popular culture is presumed to be absolute – they spent forty years marching through film, literature, and academia, salting the earth behind them. There’s no way to re-fight the old battles of past decades. Culture only moves forward and down, with today’s Jersey Shore becoming tomorrow’s Brady Bunch. Our grandchildren will laugh about the bygone days of the squaresville Two Thousands, when the worst thing that happened to women on reality shows was a sock in the jaw.

Those who accept this analysis should observe how much effort the Left puts into maintaining its cultural dominance, and controlling the education of children. Why do they pummel kids with so much “green” propaganda, if the tide has forever turned in their direction? The people who assure us we can’t possibly teach kids the logical, sensible virtues of abstinence spend a lot of time programming them to believe in “climate change” without question. They’re also rather desperate to keep our kids penned up in public schools, so they can be thoroughly seasoned by the gestalt and pepper shakers of the teachers’ unions. From the panic over Tim Tebow’s pro-life Super Bowl ad, to the relentless hatred of prominent figures like Sarah Palin, no organ of the Left behaves as if they believe their cultural victories to be eternal.

Culture is a fine clay, to be worked with sensitivity for the weaknesses of human nature… but also appreciation for our soaring aspirations, and our beautiful appetite for nobility and heroism. Even our most pampered and indulged children have an instinctive urge to excel. They find an environment in which nothing is demanded of them to be so enervating that it drives them mad. No young athlete dreams of playing for an outcome-based NFL or Major League Baseball where scores are not kept, and everyone is declared a winner, to avoid damage to their self-esteem. Kids become cynical in response to an adult world that worships their youth, but doesn’t respect them enough to be honest with them.

Small bits of pop culture are harmless amusements, but large doses of it pack an emotional wallop. Pick up a CD from a hard-core rap or death metal group, check out the cover art, and give the disk a spin. No big deal, right? Now imagine yourself listening to nothing but that type of music, day after day, and remodeling your room to resemble the album cover. It would change you. I’m personally fond of horror stories and films, but if I read and watched nothing else, and invited Pinhead over to give my house an Extreme Hellraiser Makeover, it would certainly produce a noticeable drop in my normal levels of sunny optimism. We live in an atmosphere charged with terabytes of sound and graphics… a level of radiation that inevitably produces mutations.

We should also understand how much power the government has to change us. As Mark Steyn puts it, “a determined state can change the character of a people in the space of a generation or two.” One of the unfortunate conceits of the modern age is the belief that we can unleash gigantic social programs on people without reprogramming them. The architects of the modern progressive state, feverishly scribbling cookbooks for the preparation of a new mankind in the early twentieth century, certainly believed a powerful government could reshape its people. The salesmen of the New Deal and Great Society understandably chose not to make that a bullet point in their advertising to the common man.

Conservatives must involve themselves in popular culture, particularly with respect to young people… because otherwise, we’re trying to win a debate with the Left on points, before an audience that is rapidly forgetting how to keep score. It’s tough to persuade a nation when you no longer speak its cultural language. The challenge is not merely to criticize, but to offer something better.

The success of the abstinence program reported in The Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine is an encouraging example. I wonder how many of the kids in that program responded to it because they appreciated being given something to aspire to, instead of one more weary load of training to manage the damage from surrendering to their worst instincts. Our young people have shown a remarkable tenacity in the face of a sedative culture. You can find plenty of evidence – from the graduating classes of universities to the battlefield valor on display in Afghanistan and Iraq – that the transformation of American society is far from complete, or irreversible.

There is a growing appetite for the wisdom and traditions we conservatives are working to conserve. Our children should expect more than a life of standing in line for their ration of a rapidly dwindling economic pie, or tending the dying embers of a civilization that made itself forget how to burn. We can begin by teaching them how love is an act of faith, loyalty is an act of courage, and passion mixes with fidelity to become immortality. We honor ourselves by showing respect to others. The boys and girls in those abstinence classes aren’t being given easy answers to the problems of adolescence, but they’re receiving the respect of honorable men and women. It’s said that asking kids to embrace abstinence is “unrealistic.” The future needs people who view unrealistic expectations as a challenge, rather than a eulogy.

Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.

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Kids become cynical in response to an adult world that worships their youth, but doesn’t respect them enough to be honest with them.

Very insightful as always, Dr. Z.

Disturb the Universe on February 3, 2010 at 8:24 AM

Doc, you make the truth sing.

publiuspen on February 3, 2010 at 9:48 AM

Culture is a fine clay, to be worked with sensitivity for the weaknesses of human nature… but also appreciation for our soaring aspirations, and our beautiful appetite for nobility and heroism.

This is a shared delusion of the far left and the far right. Maybe even the shared delusion.

Culture is the cumulative expression of individual will. If culture is a fine clay, it can’t be molded without leaving a big boot-print in it. I’d rather not live in the shadow of either extremity, thanks.

RightOFLeft on February 3, 2010 at 1:19 PM

This is a shared delusion of the far left and the far right. Maybe even the shared delusion.

Culture is the cumulative expression of individual will. If culture is a fine clay, it can’t be molded without leaving a big boot-print in it. I’d rather not live in the shadow of either extremity, thanks.

RightOFLeft on February 3, 2010 at 1:19 PM

I sympathize with your desire to live outside of it, but there’s no question that a popular culture exists, and has a profound effect on the attitudes of many. Even with the incredible reach and easy access of the Internet, there are still only so many people who can attract and hold an audience – and beyond the Internet, there are still only a limited number of mass-media outlets.

In an interconnected country, dominated by a State that recognizes few theoretical limits on its power, withdrawing from a despised popular culture is tantamount to unconditional surrender. You may not be interested in culture, but it is very interested in you.

Doctor Zero on February 3, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Kids become cynical in response to an adult world that worships their youth, but doesn’t respect them enough to be honest with them.

Kids will also become cynical if they find out that adulthood is far from the wonderland that has been advertised to them for the majority of their lives, or if their elders are telling tall tales in order to get them to do/or not do something.

Things to think about in the age of the Internet.

Dark-Star on February 3, 2010 at 1:42 PM

An excellent prescription from the doctor, once again.

pugwriter on February 3, 2010 at 8:14 PM

Kids become cynical in response to an adult world that worships their youth, but doesn’t respect them enough to be honest with them.

As a 23 year old, I must admit I registered this sentiment early and have yet to let it go…as people have no stopped lying to me just because I look older. For once a point of agreement between us has caught my attention.

Personally, i’ve given up caring about culture in a political sense. So long as the more repugnant cultural characteristics (like ethnic bigotry or chauvanism), people are entitled to encourage whatever cultural makeup they wish in this country. So long as our administrative move towards anarcho-technocracy continues unabated, y’all do whatever you want ;-)

ernesto on February 3, 2010 at 8:16 PM

People that have witnessed the change in our culture since the ’30′s have seen the influence of movies, TV, etc. have played in lowering our standards of conduct. It is frightening to anticipate how our standards of conduct will be in another 60-70 years.

Herb on February 3, 2010 at 8:18 PM

You may not be interested in culture, but it is very interested in you.

Doctor Zero on February 3, 2010 at 1:36 PM

That’s why I fight back. I will never surrender to the statists.

BottomLine5 on February 3, 2010 at 8:22 PM

Doctor Zero on February 3, 2010 at 1:36 PM

You can be a critic of popular culture without withdrawing from it. In fact, a lot of popular culture started out as criticism of what came before it.

Western civilization will survive kids learning about birth control methods in grade school (or not learning about them, for that matter). It will survive obnoxious music and rude language. It might not survive selling billions of dollars of debt to the People’s Republic of China. Let’s take care of that, first. Culture will take care of itself if you let it.

RightOFLeft on February 3, 2010 at 9:51 PM

Our children should expect more than a life of standing in line for their ration of a rapidly dwindling economic pie

QOTD
Thanks, Doc

Blacksmith8 on February 3, 2010 at 10:19 PM

My husband has been in corrections for many years, first in a maximum security prison, and now in a juvenile facility, both in California.

He says the kids have rap running through their brains almost continuously. They are embarrassed if their peers observe them not acting out a culture that glorifies crime, defiance, and nihilism.

The adults had the same problems, but worse.

I agree, it matters very much. There are consequences.

jodetoad on February 3, 2010 at 10:51 PM

Once again, a brilliant piece Doc. I make it a point to print out all of your essays and encourage as many people as I can to read them. You speak so well for so many of us.

noworldcitizen on February 3, 2010 at 10:56 PM

so they can be thoroughly seasoned by the gestalt and pepper shakers

feverishly scribbling cookbooks for the preparation of a new mankind

Love it.

Culture is a fine clay, to be worked with sensitivity for the weaknesses of human nature… but also appreciation for our soaring aspirations, and our beautiful appetite for nobility and heroism.

There is a growing appetite for the wisdom and traditions we conservatives are working to conserve. Our children should expect more than a life of standing in line for their ration of a rapidly dwindling economic pie, or tending the dying embers of a civilization that made itself forget how to burn. We can begin by teaching them how love is an act of faith, loyalty is an act of courage, and passion mixes with fidelity to become immortality. We honor ourselves by showing respect to others. The boys and girls in those abstinence classes aren’t being given easy answers to the problems of adolescence, but they’re receiving the respect of honorable men and women.

Your words touch the heart Doc. This post may just be your best yet.

beachgirlusa on February 3, 2010 at 11:10 PM

My husband and I have not allowed our kids to participate with the popular culture, as much as possible, from the time they were little. We have our son in a Christian school and his friends go to that school as well. It doesn’t mean that he is perfect nor are his friends. As a matter of fact we had to stop his association with one friend because of repeated problems…lying to his parents, breaking their rules , poor grades and so forth… My daughter is autistic and has to go to a public school. We’ve had to be vigilant to make sure she isn’t being negatively influenced. We have been very fortunate with her in this regard. We have great kids and they have good values and that is because as thier parents my husband and I took a christian conservative approach. We didn’t let society tell us what was cool, we haven’t tried to be their “friends” but we haven’t been ogres either. We just controlled their entertainment and schooling because that is where the danger has been… Tht is what our responsibility is.

CCRWM on February 3, 2010 at 11:25 PM

My husband and I have not allowed our kids to participate with the popular culture, as much as possible, from the time they were little.

It doesn’t mean that he is perfect nor are his friends.

We have great kids and they have good values and that is because as thier parents my husband and I took a christian conservative approach. We didn’t let society tell us what was cool, we haven’t tried to be their “friends” but we haven’t been ogres either. We just controlled their entertainment and schooling because that is where the danger has been… Tht is what our responsibility is.

CCRWM

Well said. This is exactly what I’ve done with my 16 yr old son.

beachgirlusa on February 3, 2010 at 11:41 PM

Culture will take care of itself if you let it.

RightOFLeft

No, it won’t.

beachgirlusa on February 3, 2010 at 11:44 PM

Western civilization will survive kids learning about birth control methods in grade school (or not learning about them, for that matter). It will survive obnoxious music and rude language. It might not survive selling billions of dollars of debt to the People’s Republic of China. Let’s take care of that, first. Culture will take care of itself if you let it.

RightOFLeft on February 3, 2010 at 9:51 PM

No, it won’t.

We’re a far cry from generations past, and the ravenous state was invited first in the door, then allowed to the kitchen. Now we beg morsels from our own larder. The scope, scale, and unstopping creep of the state allows relativism in all flavors to grow like kudzu in the Overton window.

When subjectivism and relativism become the state religion, there is really no argument for morality or truth. This fact is written over and over in history, and truth is a hill worth dying on.

Doc; Bless you and your family. Your writing means much to me, as your voice is that of Conservatism, beauty, and truth.

roscopico on February 4, 2010 at 12:01 AM

No, it won’t.

beachgirlusa on February 3, 2010 at 11:44 PM

Awesome. Great minds?

Best regards,
rosco

roscopico on February 4, 2010 at 12:04 AM

It might not survive selling billions of dollars of debt to the People’s Republic of China. Let’s take care of that, first. Culture will take care of itself if you let it.

RightOFLeft on February 3, 2010 at 9:51 PM

You might want to consider that if our culture prized financial common sense, and rewarded self-reliance, that we wouldn’t be selling our debt to China.
Culture comes first.

CSK on February 4, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Rome did not die from debt to Chin

Culture is significant, because it represents what is held in common. That is why we have sub-cultures

The problem today is a populace wealthy enough to pasture their children in front of entertainments and educations created by others. We also have a system which forces most children into public schools.

The schools are being used, not to teach children the culture of their parents, and not, as done by the great educators of the past, to acclimate children to the greatness of the culture which parented our system, but these schools and entertainments are being used to rip the cultural training of the past out of our collective memory. Mind rape

An adult may be able to resist cultural pressures, but a child is in the process of absorbing the culture. The child has little understanding of what may not be good for their health, their wealth or their liberty

Parents can counter this, but many parents cannot, and many do not understand the scope of the job being done on their kids

The new babysitters used to celebrate Western values. They now work to remove these values

entagor on February 4, 2010 at 12:59 AM

p.s. I also enjoy Dr Zero’s analyses. He is a good thinker and a good fellow too.

entagor on February 4, 2010 at 1:02 AM

Dr. Zero, I salute you.

I think it would be an interesting challenge for you to put together some kind of conservative manifesto. Something with a solid structure to it; a formalism, almost fortress-like in its foundations and on such bed-rock you could erect, by the consequences of necessity, position points clearly expressed as only you can do.

A work such as this could be a guide for us to follow in framing the debate. It could even be skeletal, that is better than anything we have at the moment.

Geochelone on February 4, 2010 at 1:25 AM

Conservatives take a lot of heat for expressing concerns about cultural matters. Some prefer to identify themselves clearly as “fiscal conservatives,” advertising their unwillingness to engage on cultural matters. Much of the prejudice against religious conservatives stems from the generally accurate perception that they consider cultural issues important, and address them from the disciplined standpoint of religious faith.

Not quite Doc. Much of the prejudice against religious conservatives stems from the generally accurate perception that they consider cultural issues as more important than any other priority, and are willing to force their faith upon the community.

Now I know their are a bunch of you ready to scream “Not true!” but pause for a moment and consider why so many so-called conservatives felt it was necessary to mention Mitt Romney is Mormon or that Obama hasn’t attended services since whenever- as if that had some bearing on their qualification to be president.

Or better yet, ponder this unlikely possibility for a moment:

What if in 2012 President Obama is challenged by a proven fiscal conservative (not necessarily a Republican) who also happens to be Homosexual or perhaps a Dianic Pagan. How many of you social conservatives are going to vote some minor party that even you know has no chance of winning, or not vote at all, simply because you haven’t been given a Christian candidate to vote for?

Oh, and just how many of you social conservatives would accept the legalization of abortion if it were made legal by legislation rather than SCOTUS over-reach?

It’s not that you have faith, it’s that we see too many social conservatives willing to put their faith over our freedom.

Browncoatone on February 4, 2010 at 3:54 AM

Small bits of pop culture are harmless amusements, but large doses of it pack an emotional wallop. Pick up a CD from a hard-core rap or death metal group, check out the cover art, and give the disk a spin. No big deal, right? Now imagine yourself listening to nothing but that type of music, day after day, and remodeling your room to resemble the album cover. It would change you. I’m personally fond of horror stories and films, but if I read and watched nothing else, and invited Pinhead over to give my house an Extreme Hellraiser Makeover, it would certainly produce a noticeable drop in my normal levels of sunny optimism. We live in an atmosphere charged with terabytes of sound and graphics… a level of radiation that inevitably produces mutations.

As always, an excellent and insightful essay. But the paragraph I quoted above is (for me anyway) the take-away. This is as clear an explanation of Democrat-leftist-liberalism’s use of perpetual victimhood on minorities and the poor to keep them down and as an enslaved voting bloc as I have ever read.

Why is it that every (legal) immigrant group and minority that came to this country assimilated into society within a generation except for blacks? The civil rights movement ended by the early 1970′s. Where are they 40 years on? The welfare state has replaced the family, crime and illiteracy are rampant, and the supposed representatives of the black community are the likes of Sharpton, Jackson and Farrakhan. People like Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice and Thomas Sowell are vilified while scum such as Snoop Dog, Chuck D and Kanye West are to be emulated. Self-reliance and personal responsibility are characteristics of Uncle Tom, since racism has and always will exist and to try and make it in the white man’s world makes you “not authentic.”

Racism and slavery still exist. But it’s vast majority of blacks who reflexively vote “D” at every election who can’t see that they are still in chains every time they pull that lever in the voting booth.

J.J. Sefton on February 4, 2010 at 6:16 AM

It’s not that you have faith, it’s that we see too many social conservatives willing to put their faith over our freedom.

Browncoatone on February 4, 2010 at 3:54 AM

Perhaps we see the two as being inextricably linked?

It is the fact that the foundation of our society was built upon the principles of faith that has allowed it to enjoy such broad freedoms without descending into anarchy.

Cylor on February 4, 2010 at 6:42 AM

Perhaps we see the two as being inextricably linked?

It is the fact that the foundation of our society was built upon the principles of faith that has allowed it to enjoy such broad freedoms without descending into anarchy.

Cylor on February 4, 2010 at 6:42 AM

Wrong. Our nation was founded upon the idea you attend your church and I’ll attend mine, and you don’t burn me at the stack and I won’t drop a box of rocks on your chest. Our country wasn’t founded by the tenants of your faith, it was founded on the idea that state established religion is tyrannical. By freeing every person to find their own way to God rather than enforcing one particular tradition over everyone, America has, for the most part, been fortunate enough to avoid civil wars over which church will dominate our shores. This simple bit of history is cast aside routinely by the social conservatives who want nothing more than to legislate the strictures of their faith into law.

Already we have laws that forbid working on Sunday, prostitution, public nudity, oh, and my favorite, eating of snakes, scorpions and spiders on Sunday. Laws that make even our cousins in Australia snicker. But the social cons aren’t satisfied. Muslims want all alcohol banned- yeah cuz that worked so well the first time. Christians want abortion banned- nevermind if the ban is constitutional or by judicial fiat. And Athiests (and their close allies the Pagans/Neopagans) want Christianity banned.

The more you shove your faith down our throats the less we trust you on more mundane matters like tax policy. If you spent more time on tax policy and personal freedom maybe people would be more interested in how your faith supports reasonable tax policies and personal freedom. As it is all we hear from you is “don’t do this” and “don’t do that”.

Browncoatone on February 4, 2010 at 7:54 AM

I sympathize with your desire to live outside of it, but there’s no question that a popular culture exists, and has a profound effect on the attitudes of many.

Doctor Zero on February 3, 2010 at 1:36 PM

He didn’t deny the existence of popular culture. What he was objecting to was the notion that it was possible for any entity to mold the popular culture with just fine pressure. It takes big boot heels to do that.

MarkTheGreat on February 4, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Doc,

I don’t know where you get your ideas from, or how you put it together so well, but I deeply hope that you continue to take steps to circulate your writings as broadly as possible. Our country and our world need the common sense of a Judeo-Christian logical thinker.

Have you ever written about the Classical method of Education? My kids go to a Classical Christian school and the results are outstanding.

ksm on February 4, 2010 at 8:47 AM

Doc —

Care to expound on your topic? A broader look at the creeping assault of “Western values” (aka European, coerced conformity) on American Judeo-Christianity (individualism) upon which this country was founded, and its impact on culture and education.

publiuspen on February 4, 2010 at 9:46 AM