From polygamy to pornography, Americans are getting more permissive

“Libertarian” might be a better term. Gallup documents what can only be called a strong live-and-let-live consensus regarding several practices — birth control, divorce, sex between unmarried adults, gay or lesbian relations, out-of-wedlock child-bearing — that within living memory were either fiercely contested or taboo. All garnered at least 62 percent acceptance in the poll, conducted just a month ago. Doctor-assisted suicide is trending up and now stands at 57 percent acceptance.

Taboos are weakening against pornography (acceptance up six points to 36 percent since 2011) and sex between teenagers (acceptance up four points to 36 percent since 2013). Meanwhile, new taboos are developing against wearing fur and medical testing on animals. Only adultery remains as unacceptable as in 2001; just 9 percent tolerate it.

In short, the culture wars may be ending in victory for progressives, with the caveat that a left-right frame is misleading regarding some issues — opposition to pornography, for example, has at times been a rare point of agreement between the religious right and left-wing feminists.

Americans are not only far more willing to countenance formerly taboo practices, they are also much less interested in government protection of “traditional values” than they were in the not-so-distant past.