Postmodern Prudes

Photo Credit: National Review

More than 500 people were murdered in Chicago last year. Yet Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel still found time to berate the fast-food franchise Chick-fil-A for not sharing “Chicago values” — apparently, because its founder does not approve of gay marriage.

Two states have legalized marijuana, with more to come. Yet social taboos against tobacco smoking make it nearly impossible to light up a cigarette in public places. Marijuana, like alcohol, causes far greater short-term impairment than does nicotine. But legal cigarette smoking is now seen as a corporate-sponsored, uncool, and dirty habit that leads to long-term health costs for society at large — in a way homegrown, hip, and mostly illegal pot smoking apparently does not.

Graphic language, nudity, and sex are now commonplace in movies and on cable television. At the same time, there is now almost no tolerance for casual and slangy banter in the media or the workplace. A boss who calls an employee “honey” might face accusations of fostering a hostile work environment, yet a television producer whose program shows an 18-year-old having sex does not. Many colleges offer courses on lurid themes from masturbation to prostitution, even as campus sexual-harassment suits over hurtful language are at an all-time high.

A federal judge in New York recently ruled that the so-called morning-after birth-control pill must be made available to all “women” regardless of age or parental consent, and without a prescription. The judge determined that it was unfair for those under 16 to be denied access to such emergency contraceptives. But if vast numbers of girls younger than 16 need after-sex options to prevent unwanted pregnancies, why isn’t there a flood of statutory-rape charges being lodged against older teenagers for having consensual relations with younger girls?

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