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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Forbidden Fruit: Obsessing Over What You Hate

Forbidden Fruit: Obsessing Over What You Hate
Image © Austin Cline
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Sex sells, but sex seems to sell best to those who claim to hate sex the most. In a culture that is comfortable with sexuality and doesn't try to treat sex as something forbidden, there isn't as much value in trying to associate cars, beer, or anything else with scantily clad women (except maybe lingerie?). Sex becomes most valuable as a commodity when it's kept taboo on various levels. Is that why sexually explicit adult entertainment is such a big hit among conservatives and especially conservative Christians — or is it instead the case that they work so hard to ban it because they know they are more tempted by it than others?

Perhaps both are true, but I'll doubt we'll ever know for sure. All I can say with some confidence is that people generally, and I think conservatives in particular, seem far more obsessed over that which they claim to hate than is psychologically healthy. The connection here is so strong that it might be possible to predict what they hate the most by what they spend the most time fussing over and what they spend the most fussing over by what they claim to hate most. Or, if you don't think that's much of a prediction, we may be able to predict what they'll soon be spending more time fussing over by any increases in their protests about what they hate.

Let's look at some of the examples of his phenomenon...

Sex & Pornography

Obviously the best examples of this behavior can be found with sex and pornography. People in the Bible Belt consume more sexually explicit, "adult" entertainment online than in any other region — though Salt Lake City, Utah, is giving them a run for their money! Whenever the Republican convention is in town, it's apparently a boom time for local prostitutes. Conservatives have to know that suppressing sexually explicit material doesn't actually eliminate it and they have to know that they are among the biggest consumers of that material. So who are they trying to fool?

Newt Gingrich is embarrassed at having tried to give a "stimulus" award to a company that produces pornography, which is understandable given his record at trying to ban pornography, but do you think he stopped to think about why such a company that was eligible for such an award? If a porn company earns money and produces jobs, shouldn't conservatives cheer? Indeed, how much have the actions of Gingrich and his colleagues ultimately helped this company by making its products more appealing?


I suppose this might be a subset of "sex" generally, but there are few specific topics that get as much attention from conservatives as homosexuality — or perhaps I should say "homo-sex." Whether the issue is gay marriage, employment rights for gays, or anything else connected to homosexuality, for conservatives it always comes back to the "homo-sex." Conservatives seem obsessed over the mechanics of gay sex, the frequency of gay sex, the numbers of gay sex partners, and everything else even remotely connected to gay sex.

It's little wonder that the more a person professes to hate homosexuality, the more it seems that they are likely just closeted and in denial about it. If one of their reasons for being so obsessed with partitioning off naturally occurring homosexuality from the sphere of acceptable human behavior is that they themselves are drawn to it but can't otherwise control their desires, then it's hard to avoid the conclusion that something similar is at work with other obsessions of theirs.

Big Government

This isn't the most obvious area where conservatives appear to be obsessed with eliminating something that they are also obsessed with having, but it's one of the easiest to find examples in. There's no end to conservatives insisting that it's necessary for government to be smaller and to spend less money, but there's also no end to conservatives insisting that it's necessary for this or that aspect of government to get bigger and to spend more money.

John H. Richardson writes about the South:

...this is the region that fought government intrusion upon its freedoms by forming its own government to intrude upon its freedoms, that imposed the Fugitive Slave Law on other states in the name of states' rights, that fought for slavery in the name of liberty. None of this was particularly logical, but then again, logic is just another iron law of compulsion.

There are plenty of other areas where the same principle holds. Few issues come anywhere close to abortion in terms of how obsessed the Right is about it, but the south leads the nation in teen pregnancy and abortion rates. Conservatives love to talk about protecting marriage but evangelicals and the South lead the nation in divorce rates. Conservatives hate feminism but have several women as popular pundits and politicians — you'll almost never see a conservative suggest that any of these leading women go home to bake cookies instead.

Wouldn't you love to see them try?

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  1. Oh yes - especially Phyllis Schlafly - I would love to see ol' Newtie try to put her in her place! He'd get his ass handed to him - deep-fried on a platter!

  2. Comrade Clineheimfarbdorfstein:

    FINALLY! Jumpin' JESUS on a jetski! I was wonderin' if you had blood in your veins. How much is that beauty in poster size?

  3. Don't buy the poster, Demo. If you've looked at it closely, as I have, you'll notice that there are white blotches where the good bits should be. If you hang the poster on the bedroom or bathroom wall of your hovel, you'll have to draw the important parts on with flesh-coloured crayons. While that's not rocket surgery or anything, it takes the thrill out of the visuals...

  4. Bukko in Australia:

    Not iff'n you squint.


We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.