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Social Attitudes and Shame

by Christopher Chantrill
August 17, 2006 at 11:10 am

EVEN THOUGH young people in Britain today are regularly drunk as skunks, university students would never think of driving drunk, claims Mary Ann Sieghart. “What a change in a generation!” she writes.

And social attitudes have changed for the better in other areas, too. People are abandoning their SUVs and recycling. It is not so much that the law has changed as a kind of “social revolution that may well save our planet.”

This social revolution is a tribute to the power of shame. It used to be kinda cool to drive drunk and get away with it. Today it is shameful. And as for failing to recycle! In Seattle we are well on the way to making it a crime.

Maybe there are other areas where the power of shame could save the planet.

Russian immigrant Julia Gorin clearly wants a social revolution in attitudes towards abortion. On the website of Ms magazine, she notes, you can sign a petition. “I had a abortion.” Bully for Ms.

But Julia Gorin narrowly escaped being aborted thirty years ago. It was only due to the nurse at the Soviet abortion clinic “who sensed a tinge of reservation [in my mother] and kicked her out.”

Just as well, because Gorin’s only sister was killed in a car crash in 2000.

How about setting up another petition, she suggests helpfully: “I was nearly aborted!”

One of the proud boasts of the twentieth century was its conquest of shame—or rather sexual shame. But it is clear that in the most progressive circles where sexual shame has been most thoroughly banished a host of other shames has been created: environmental shame, sexual harassment shame, SUV shame, racist shame, patriarchal shame, even glass-ceiling shame.

We conservatives should learn a lesson from this. As the consequence of legal abortion becomes more and more clear to women—and in the case of Julia Gorin’s mother it is a lack of “close people,” children and siblings, in her life—it will create an opportunity for another social revolution.

We should learn a lesson from the liberals. The key to a social revolution is not in changing laws. It is in changing attitudes.

We should work to change hearts and minds, and make abortion Safe, Legal, and Shameful.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Socialism equals Animism

Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Physics, Religion, and Psychology

Paul Dirac: “When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion. However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.”
John Farrell, “The Creation Myth”


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill