We're in a strange place culturally today. Its been quite a while since moralistic prudes have tried so hard to control private and public behavior and instill specific, exact legalistic codes on society. And the oddest thing about it is that this new push is coming from the exact people who just a few years ago told us "if it feels good, do it."
The people who gave us raunchy sex comedies like Porky's in the 80s and American Pie in the 00's are now telling us that anything remotely like that behavior totally disqualifies you from public service, let alone private life.
The people who told us "love the one you're with" and "if her daddy's rich take her out for a meal, if her daddy's poor, just do what you feel" are now telling us that you have to get signed proof for every stage of sexual contact and even if you do, if she regrets it later, it was rape. The people who created Animal House are now wondering if its even okay to laugh at it. People routinely say "that could never get made today" about films like Blazing Saddles, but could you even make Pretty in Pink? Not according to its star Molly Ringwald.
Russ Douthat recently wrote about this odd shift in of all places the New York Times:
The world of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford’s youth, the world that's given us this fall's nightmarish escalation of the culture war, was not a traditionalist world as yet unreformed by an enlightened liberalism. It also wasn’t a post-revolutionary world ruled by social liberalism as we know it today. Rather it was a world where a social revolution had ripped through American culture and radically de-moralized society, tearing down the old structures of suburban bourgeois Christian morality, replacing them with libertinism. With "if it feels good, do it" and the Playboy philosophy.
After spending 50 years tearing down everything everyone held dear, mocking morality, breaking apart a system of ethics and behavior, cynically undermining all sense of public etiquette and cultural norms... now we're being told everything they said to do is all wrong.
Suddenly what pretty much everyone has done in the past is grounds for dismissal and attack. Went to parties and got drunk? Now you're a sinister potential rapist. Got a diary accounting for where you went and what you did? Got witnesses? You might need them now; all it takes is a woman to suddenly remember something she says you did, and a political benefit and you're doomed.
I've written about this in the past, how the left tore out the skeleton of our culture, leaving it unable to stand or function. They've taken every pain to remove all traces of what was once the system of ethics and behavior the nation generally agreed upon and which makes up the very core of a society. Now, they want to suddenly replace it all, with something new and even more prudish.
It started in the mid 80s, with the PMRC led by Democrat wife of Al Gore Tipper, holding her committee meetings telling everyone that lyrics were so bad on albums that they should be printed on the back so everyone can read them instead of buried in songs barely comprehensible against the music. This made sense to them, at the time.
Then in the 1990s, in a push to control men, sexual harassment suddenly was the focus, telling men that if they hit on a girl, they're harassing her. That any contact or behavior she didn't care for was sexual harassment because that helped build up their attack on Clarence Thomas. Then came President Clinton dragging a clanking long chain of sexual harassment, molestation, assault, and rape charges and the idea suddenly vanished from the pop culture and news media mavens.
Now they're marching to restrict and end fun, for a super rigid, absolute code of behavior -- one that changes almost daily. The problem here isn't that all of the left are this crazy and irrational. Most aren't. Its that there's a sort of shark frenzy of trying to top the previous norms and the most crazy, unhinged voices get the biggest megaphone. And its all a push to destroy what was once standard, to change the paradigm, to tear it all down and start over, but this time without white men.
Meanwhile the bulk of America is stepping back aghast as people in crayola hair scream about "front holes" and tell men that they need to shut up and let women accuse them of anything, because we always have to "believe women."
In particular I have to wonder about black Americans for whom the "you have to just believe the white girl and face the noose" probably sounds awfully familiar and sinister. This assumption that because bad people do bad things to women then all men do bad things to women and no woman ever lies is not just historically nonsense, its insulting to women. Imagine being a mother, a sister, a daughter in this setting. Now just on the word of one woman, your dad, brother, uncle, son, cousin, nephew can be destroyed and he must not fight back.
How much longer the crazy can build up I really don't know. To my knowledge this kind of curve is unheard of in history, or if it existed, it was in short bursts of crazy such as the Salem witch hunts, the French revolution denouncements, and devil worship scares. Instead of being isolated its now global: the crazy is everywhere and incredibly loud.
I suspect that, like with the mafia, the only way to deal with this is going to have to be to take out the leadership and their funding: find the people behind this, pushing it, funding it, giving it voice, and deal with them and their money. Then it will dry up.
Because the crazy has always been with us. There have always been shrieking harpies and demented men who have been saying things that make everyone roll their eyes. They just were relegated to the free "alternative" newspaper with all the hooker ads in the back, the streets mumbling into a paper bag, the university assistant nobody likes. What's changed is not the presence of these people, but their voice and how credibly they're treated in popular culture.
And until it becomes politically damaging and costly to promote and embrace the crazy, its going to only get worse.