We need to define our terms, here.
[Note: there are a very few “bad” and uncomfortable words contained herein, and if such words cause you grief, please read no further. ~ HW]
Allow me to make a very late addition to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary:
Erotic, n.: MY sexual fantasies.
Perversion, n.: YOUR sexual fantasies.
Will the adults stand up? Didn’t think so.
Horny makes you stupid, but, evidently YOU being horny makes everyone else crazy.
The “crime” that Anthony Weiner is accused of is masturbation.
Our Eternal American Adolescence
Let’s run down some of the adjectives that have been used in the media and blogosphere in the past week, shall we? Disgusting. Lewd (making a comeback from the Victorian Era), mental illness, perversion, “perv” (NY POST, evidently having zero notion as to WHERE the original word was truncated from or what it actually means), disturbing, insane, etc. etc. etc.
And, the insanity of a nation pretending that they do NOT masturbate, nor that anyone has “cybersex,” “phone sex,” “tweetie sex,” “facebook sex,” or other forms of MUTUAL masturbation helpline communique beggars description.
The whole sad, sick, twisted nature of American sexuality comes roaring out of its deeply disturbed, repressed and clueless cavern, and I remember that here in Oregon, where they loves them some bringing back the memories of the Great Rajneesh Scandal of the 1980s, the one thing that is never mentioned is “sex,” even though that’s the genesis of the whole thing. Them free-lovin hippies were a’comin’ to Orygun ter FORNICATE WILDLY!
When you break it down, it’s the same M.O. as ever, except without the juicy “hand from the grave” stuff from the dying wife who was cheated on by that no-good, two timing CALIFORNIA woman!
Which, by the by, suffers from the same unexamined assumption that every other scandal seems to, going back to Clinton: the woman is automatically held harmless.
Because only men want that disgusting SEX thing. Women are pure and noble and oppressed and all that stuff, but they DON’T LIKE SEX.
A few don’t. That’s true. But that’s true of men, too.
Kind of like baseball. Without a pitcher AND a catcher, you don’t have a game.
Now, add an umpire who’s gone batshit crazy and a batter who is just into the mindless spectacle of battery and we’re right back to the present day.
I am reminded of the old Woody Allen Joke:
Is sex dirty?
Only if it’s done right.
Yeah. Right. Sure. There is a deep pathology in that joke that makes it exceptionally funny because it’s TRUE.
We have never bridged the chasm between the instincts of the body and the brain-created myth that the brain is in charge.
No. The brain is not exactly always in charge. If you’ve ever been VERY sick, you might have noticed the body switching off the brain to focus its attention on the illness. It may need the brain other times, but right now, it’s superfluous. And by “brain” I mean that part of you that you consider “You.”
Horny makes you stupid is a simple way of putting it, but the words are carefully chosen and the meaning is NOT glib. I was listening to “Don Juan in Hell,” by George Bernard Shaw — the old Columbia version with Charles Laughton, Agnes Moorhead, Charles Boyer and Sir Cedric Hardwicke*. And that perfect line from Don Juan — reflecting from the afterlife — came and reminded me:
[* note, Hardwicke was knighted in 1934, and was a “Sir” when this version was recorded in 1952.]
DON JUAN […] I made curious observations of the strange odors of the chemistry of the nerves. The visions of my romantic reveries, in which I had trod the plains of heaven with a deathless, ageless creature of coral and ivory, deserted me in that supreme hour. I remembered them and desperately strove to recover their illusion; but they now seemed the emptiest of inventions: my judgment was not to be corrupted: my brain still said No on every issue. And whilst I was in the act of framing my excuse to the lady, Life seized me and threw me into her arms as a sailor throws a scrap of fish into the mouth of a seabird.
THE STATUE You might as well have gone without thinking such a lot about it, Juan. You are like all the clever men; you have more brains than is good for you.
THE DEVIL And were you not the happier for the experience, senor DON JUAN?
DON JUAN The happier, no: the wiser, yes. That moment introduced me for the first time to myself, and, through myself, to the world. I saw then how useless it is to attempt to impose conditions on the irresistible force of Life; to preach prudence, careful selection, virtue, honor, chastity-
And it’s true. Which is WHY horny makes you stupid.
The fact that starfuckers want to fuck stars should not lay all the onus on the star being fucked.
Of Cotton, Connecticut and Cucumbers
But Alabama recently had its criminal prohibition of the sale (and transport?) of dildoes upheld in Federal Court.
[Fortunately, cucumbers are still legally sold in markets in Alabama, so the burden is not as onerous as it might at first appear.]
This lunatic presumption of some commonly-held prudery over “perversion” (as defined above) has been deeply ingrained in the American consciousness at least since the day that Cotton Mather, the legendary Puritan minister whose Boston (the Boston that teenage Ben Franklin ran away from) was such a theocracy that the BAPTISTS were largely responsible for the First Amendment “freedom of religion” clause.
Cotton Mather, it is reported, went to relieve himself against a wall one day, forced to give in to the gross physical body and “nature’s calling.”
And a dog walked up to the wall and did the same thing.
cucumber (pre pickle)
This so APPALLED Mather that he thereafter resolved (he tells us) to always PRAY to GOD whenever he obeyed that shameful calling of the body.
My teacher (who had designed sets in the Moulin Rouge in Paris in the 1920s) used to say that America was the only country that ever BOUGHT Victorianism. “The English never actually practiced it themselves,” he would add.
And in my travels, I have always found that Americans’ conception of sex never seems to rise much above a junior high school bathroom graffiti sensibility.
Is sex dirty: Only if it’s done right?
That’s still Cotton Mather. We must “surrender” to nature’s calling and it REALLY PISSES US OFF. Many take that same vow that Mather took, and try to pray as they “do their duty” to replenish the Earth. “Be fruitful and multiply,” Mark Twain said, is the only commandment that humankind has ever obeyed with any seriousness, and THAT commandment we obey enthusiastically.
On June 7th, it was just the 46th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court case* that held the ASTONISHING AND CONTROVERSIAL notion that the state didn’t have any business prohibiting married American women from information about birth control. Holy crap! Will this sexual degenerateness ever cease?
[* And note that it was Planned Parenthood that was the plaintiff. The same Planned Parenthood the GOP just tried to defund in congress, and which WAS defunded in Indiana.]
It is a testament to the enduring madness of Cotton Mather that we have better contraception for our pets than we have for American men and women. At least it’s more sane.
But this underlying notion that sex is a thing “men” want — and its corollary, that WOMEN have a right to decide and determine what men fantasize about when they masturbate — are sheer Victorian nonsense.
Women as the “fair” sex, and the “noble” sex and men as the grubby, dirty-minded debauchers of women and stealers of maidenheads is Victorian in its coinage and insane in its formulation. We already know that, should we take a moment to think about it, but we pointedly do not.
Anthony Weiner got caught masturbating with WILLING accomplices who were (GASP) women!
And the unspoken presumption is that a) it was OK to strip away the congressman’s privacy and that b) we will not worry about the WOMEN’S privacy, since women, by definition can’t be sexual, nor make moral sexual choices, and, therefore, are not having THEIR privacy stripped away by jackals like, say, INSIDE EDITION, because they didn’t have anything to DO with the masturbati0n scandal.
I’m not going to describe the various things involved further. Endless commentary on “perversion” will be made, have been made and are being made. I’m here to take the discussion in a slightly different direction than the delight in sexual pathology that all prudish discourse inevitably ends up in — which is, itself, a form of sexual pathology.
No: the underlying presumptions of this tempest in a tosspot are fundamentally crazy, and we need to look at those unspoken assumptions driving the “debate.”
Because this is the debate we have NO MATTER WHAT the sexual “scandal” is.
- Women aren’t moral agents and have n0 free will. (Because “sex” is a thing that only men always want to get.)
- Men are completely in charge of their sexuality. (And, therefore all bad choices are, by definition, theirs)
Look: the classical world had a well-known symbol for that LACK of choice that humans have in matters sexual. We call him “cupid.”
Cupid by Caravaggio, 1601
He is a baby (the consequence) who fires “arrows of desire” into the hearts of men and woman, forcing us to love where we must and not where we will, to quote Theodore Sturgeon’s famous observation from “The World Well Lost.”
We even have a word derived from it, “cupidity” [emphasis added]:
Word Origin & History
mid-15c., from Anglo-Fr. cupidite , from M.Fr. cupidité , from L. cupiditas “passionate desire,” from cupidus “eager, passionate,” from cupere “to desire” (perhaps cognate with Skt. kupyati “bubbles up, becomes agitated,” O.Slav. kypeti “to boil,” Lith. kupeti “to boil over”). Despite the erotic sense of the Latin word, in English cupidity originally, and still especially, means “desire for wealth.”
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
And even in our English derivation, our fundamental schizophrenia about sexuality comes to the fore: somehow sexual desire becomes confused with the desire for wealth. If Hugh Hefner is defined by his cupidity, we are not talking about his bunnies. No: we are talking about his private jet.
Not cupidity, but the common Victorian stereotype of DC
But that uncontrollable sexual desire STILL bothers us at least as much as that dog bothered Cotton Mather. You still hear it in the anti-gay diatribes. How dare they NOT love where it is acceptable? Well, nobody gets to CHOOSE what they desire. We can only deal with it. (Preferably with less lunacy than Cotton Mather dealt with the uncomfortable truth of his having a body.)
And so we don’t talk about it. But when someone ELSE is revealed to have “erred” we go at it with a savage gusto that is not rationally explained by the facts. Something else is going on, and we don’t talk about that, either.
That is the reason for our conception of “privacy.” We demand the space to shield our secret lives and secret fantasies from a “common sense” howling that the public outcry over Congressman Weiner’s masturbatory adventures has created. We fear the firestorm, and so, order to function, a deeply ingrained notion of privacy, and what the government’s role and the public’s “right to know” in our lives is carefully shielded and defended.
The outrage against public morals OUGHT to be the peepery of a vicious Peeping Tom who launches his monstrous invasions of privacy from behind an anonymous sock-puppet (I will allege, but I welcome Mr. Breitbart’s correction as to who “Publius” actually is, since he has proven that he himself has no right to privacy through his salacious and immoral actions.)
Perhaps the ONE public moral that we can all agree on here is that peeking and publicly announcing anyone’s sexual privacy without their permission is a crime and recognized as such in virtually every legal jurisdiction in the land — INCLUDING Alabama, Scourge of Dildoes.
A denouement, Wiktionary tells us, is the “The conclusion or resolution of a plot.”
The plot here is quite transparent, if anyone cares to look: the plot is to politically destroy Congressman Anthony Weiner of Queens, New York.
The “sin” is masturbation, and now we watch as the Usual Suspects pursue the sidetracks and ethical byways, trolling for anything “illegal” that might be used to adminiaster the coup de grâce, the killing blow (OK: technically, the “stroke of mercy”):
Originally referring to a merciful stroke putting a fatally wounded person out of misery or to the shot delivered to the head of a prisoner after facing a firing squad … A final blow or shot given to kill a wounded person or animal.
Fortunately for the plotters, a significant portion of the American public was not particularly aware of the circus of the mid-1990s, as the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy did everything in their power to destroy President Clinton over a blow job (ironically, only made possible by the shut down of the government by Newt & Co., and while Newt himself was banging his secretary in the Speaker’s office, before divorcing his wife and marrying his mistress. Is there any wonder that the current Mrs. Gingrich won’t let Newt out of her sight, nor that he spent $500,000 on jewels and baubles for her from Tiffanys?)
But it’s pretty much the same thing. Not our business, but now, each and every “victim” is having THEIR sexual privacy stripped away in the witch hunt for SEX! SEX! SEX!
Ah, scandal so mundane, so whitebread, so vanilla.
I would comment on the fundamental insanity of the implied statutory rape/underage aspect of this, but it would only drive the mad further into madness, and, as we all know, underage persons (i.e. under 18) are not sexual in any degree and always have their ID’s posted on their internet profiles. Just ask Traci Lords.
No: this is madness, but it is madness with a calculated intent to destroy, using a subject that the American public can’t go crazy enough on when raised, coordinated and timed. First, with the initial release by anonymous Breitbart sockpuppet “Publius” at a few minutes past midnight on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (12:24 AM according to the time stamp), and then, having given the Left a week to “defend” Mr. Weiner and his assertion that he was “hacked” releasing the OTHER pictures Breitbart had in hand BEFORE the original posting.
Calculated much? Plotted much?
The Roman coin that Brutus had minted, to commemorate
the assassination of Julius Caesar, with the “liberty cap”
And the “inadvertent” release of Weiner’s naked wiener pic. (Breitbart always has plausible deniability — the picture came from a “source” he stated when he got in trouble for flashing it around and two shock jocks released it while Andy the Peeper pretended astonishment that there was a “camera” in the radio station!!!)
Which Breitbart had TOLD the TODAY show he was holding as blackmail material if the congressman attempted any “retaliation” the morning before.
But this does not disgust us. This rape of privacy does not bother us.
(Oddly, yesterday, I saw an old Craig Ferguson Late Late Show with Julie Andrews (May 18, 2011), and a rerun of Saturday Night Live from March 5 of this year,– again in the monologue — and BOTH featured jokes about someone tweeting pictures of his naked penis, so ubiquitous has it become.)
No: prudes and bluenoses never get in trouble, no matter what destruction they engender. Anthony Comstock was feted for years, as he controlled the Postal Morality of the Nation. No one ever seemed to care that he drove poor Ida Craddock* to KILL HERSELF after her release from the brutal women’s prison, and Comstock’s promise to RE-imprison her for every single count of selling the book he had, and he had hundreds.
[* Who wrote a very chaste book on the wedding night that suggested males might engage in some foreplay.]
But we refuse to understand that the “thinking” that automatically discounts any female moral responsibility in this matter is the SAME thinking that has launched a 49-state blitzkreig to value the lives of imaginary babies above the lives of actual human women.
You know: legally enshrining the principle that the State’s rights to use a woman as a brood mare overwhelm and negate a woman’s right to CHOOSE whether or not to go through the hell of a pregnancy and the consequences of that act of manufacture. Cows, sheep, dogs and horses are treated in much the same manner, except that the human woman is given her choice of breeding studs (except in cases of rape or incest, of course, but that’s not the imaginary baby’s fault, now, is it? IS IT!!!?).
If it happened that somebody killed themselves over this, you can bet your bottom dollar that Andrew ‘The Peeper’ Breitbart would be on Greta van Susteren that night to explain how he was completely blameless in all of it. And how he regretted nothing, because he was just being a good “journalist.”
As for Andrew Weiner?
Oh, he has checked into “rehab” — because, as the Mad Doctor Drew tells us, sexuality is an addiction and you must be rehabilitated from this terrible desire.
I wonder what the twelve-step program for getting off of masturbation is?
(Frankly, I always thought masturbation highly preferable to the consequences of virtually ANY acting out of the fantasies involved, no matter how mundane. There’s no better way to get in trouble in America than to transgress any sexual taboo. Here, we register “sex offenders” for life, but don’t bother with mundane criminals like murderers and embezzlers. Kind of tells you where our priorities lie, don’t it?)
There is no guarantee that they still won’t get their wish in destroying the congressman — whose great transgression, truth be told, is that he fought back against the Republican smear machine. And if you don’t believe there’s a Republican smear machine, what are you doing out of your padded cell?
But, for the time being, the new form of penitence is to go into “rehab,” the New Purgatory of Secular Forgiveness. Go through “rehab” and don’t sin again, and we all pretend that there was never a problem in the first place. Just ask Rush Limbaugh.
Ironically, Rush Limbaugh was protected from investigation for doctor shopping by the American Civil Liberties Union (the dreaded ACLU) over concerns for his “privacy.”
But privacy which is denied to Anthony Weiner, and ANYONE who had sexting communications with him has NO right to sexual privacy. (Of course, SOME are running to the media to get their 14 minutes of fame, a form of sexual exhibitionism that anyone who’s ever been around commercial pornography will recognized. Linda Syndrome, actually.)
Nonetheless, if ever there were a time to think about NOT casting the first stone, this is probably it. Worse, if karma is real, I have to feel compassion for the shitstorm that Andrew Breitbart’s peeping tommism (but Non-Thomism) has unleashed, headed straight for his own life, like a crude cruise missile.
That’s going to hurt.*
[* Here, I ought to mention the fundamental cravenness of the Left in backing off completely, and either disavowing all knowledge of Weiner’s existence, else calling for his resignati0n, as Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz did in finest, Kraven Kabuki tradition. But it’s pointless”: It goes without saying that the Democratic Party forms the single largest class of invertibrates on the North American Continent. The GOP goons counted on it, and they were gratified in their hopes. We move onward.]
A Final Thought on Priorities
Speaking of masturbation, anybody notice how when the Weiner “scandal” isn’t dominating the news, the “news” of the Republican nomination bumper cars contest dominates, even though the election is well over a year away, and the first caucuses in Iowa don’t happen until next year?
At least we’ve got out priorities straight. Clarence Thomas’ ethical questions, and why he ought to recuse himself from the upcoming health care case? Crickets.
The Republican refusal to behave like adults and either work to deal with our economic near-meltdown or allow anyone ELSE to deal with it? Crickets.
The immediate question of perhaps withdrawing from our seemingly endless wars in the Middle East? Crickets.
But in all of this, who is making money off it? And more money, the more notorious this story becomes? Andrew Breitbart, the Peeping Tom. THAT is the cupidity here.
After all, we know what’s important.
Peeping Toms tell us so.
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog, His Vorpal Sword (no spaces) dot com.