The Instapundit festival continues. But it’s worth it — this is compelling, because it speaks to the amoral libertarianism that is so dominant on the Internet. My favorite blogger Glenn Reynolds, boxed-in Giuliani-like* by his posture on “social issues,” has been on a positively libertine tear the last couple of days, and you have to wonder at a certain point if someone as smart as he is is speaking from the heart, or if part of him feels to need to toe the “anything but social conservatism” line with comments like this one:
IN THE MAIL: Carole Platt Liebau’s Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!). I would venture that the real problem isn’t sex as such, but the puerile way it’s treated. I think actual porn is more honest and healthy than the pop-culture treatment of the subject.
Do poor lighting techniques and cheap sets equal “honesty”? Does anything about filmed prostitution bespeak “healthiness”?
Then, yesterday, there was this one:
IN THE MAIL: Kingsley Browne’s new book, Co-ed Combat: The New Evidence That Women Shouldn’t Fight the Nation’s Wars. Kingsley’s a smart guy, but I’ll take some persuading on this topic.
For a fellow who posts as much cheesecake [UPDATE: Ah, hoh! UPDATE 2: Ugh, hah!] on his blog as Glenn Reynolds does, you’d think he’d have the natural differences between boys and girls down really cold. Those differences don’t amount to proof of fighting ability — but from an intuitive point of view, the burden of proof is, to most intellectually honest people, on the side that insists that, ceteris paribus, women and men make soldiers of equal quality.
I’m not here to argue the substance, but just to point out this soft spot in the social liberal worldview: They like strong defense, free markets, and free speech; but drag in “gender issues,” and their steely analysis turns into fragrant pink mush.
UPDATE: Glenn, back from Vegas (I was registered, but some of us still do billable work around here!) and catching up with this Technorati links, picks up on this insightful comment by the great Jaymaster in his defense:
I thought he was saying that “real porn” is probably less damaging than the kind of crap that Brittany, Madonna, gangsta rappers, etc. flout to our young folk as “sexuality”.
I follow the argument, and it’s an interesting one and undoubtedly has some validity (like most of what JM has to say). But I believe the effect of real pornography is to make sex disgusting and soulless, and to virtually dehumanize it — not to mention what it does to the participants. I believe social libertarians are very casual about this, and while I am in agreement that the debasement of the larger culture is a tragedy as well, the casual acceptance and promulgation of pornography, in my book, has no aspects whatsoever of either healthiness or honesty.
*Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
UPDATE:We all enjoy an Instalanche when it comes, even a baby one like this one — but should I be a little less, er, sanguine about it considering this?: