THE WOODSTOCKING OF AMERICA
In the mid 1980s a researcher did a study which concluded that human males are simply hard-wired for promiscuity. He cited the adaptive benefits of sleeping around with a lot of women. I read his article in Omni Magazine, and as I checked off his many justifications for male promiscuity it occurred to me that his “scientific evidence” sounded a lot like the excuses of a misanthropic cad. I suspected that he was seeking a rationale for his bad behavior by designing a “scientific” survey around his predilection for being a man whore. My suspicions were later confirmed when his studies were refuted and that which I conjectured the whole time–that the guy was a womanizer–became a footnote to his bawdy studies in human sexuality. (I apologize for the absence of a link, but the article is nowhere to be found in cyberspace. Scientific American recently published an article about a similar study called “The Case Against Monogamy”)
Believe it or not, this example actually helps to explain why the modern political scene is such a maddening hodge podge of piecemeal ideologies frankensteined into new and inscrutible social movements. People are now cherry picking party politics and theories that suit their particular tastes, goals, and moral weaknesses. Political ideologies are no longer fixed lodestars of truth to which individuals conform. They are instead a CiCi’s Pizza line of personal preferences, causes du jour, and, like the the study by the fraudulent sex researcher, excuses for bad behavior.
The confusion that naturally results from the lack of a central, moral objective, spills out in the form of the Occupy Movement. There is no substantive goal to their protests, because there is no unchanging lodestar of ideological certainty upon which they affix their gaze. They are everything from happy hippies, to disenfranchised college students, to union thugs, to the homeless, to upwardly mobile suburban Liberals, to deranged escapees from a nudist insane asylum. Supporters within the Ron Paul movement are all over the moral/political map. Many of them sound like the anti-war protesters that bludgeoned LBJ and Nixon, mixed with a generous dollop of Alexander Hamilton, and garnished with a sprig of Antisemitism.
Even stalwart Conservatives are not immune from this ratatouille of rationalization. Libertarianism, rightly associated with the “legalize pot” crowd, appeals to the Political Right with its Federalism and limited, constitutional government rhetoric. Conservatives love that, being the party of the Founders. But Libertarianism also appeals to young, anti-war, pro-marijuana, Occupy Wall Street malcontents. Libertarians are the new hippies.
My worldview was seismically rattled when I learned that William F. Buckley was a pothead. It just didn’t make sense to me that a mainstay of conservative thought would partake of the weird weed when such behavior is contrary to conservative morality. But Buckley was a man before his time. He, like the “morality of the moment” political movements of today, simply carved out an intellectual defense to support his penchant for smoking pot. He would be comfortable with all the Libertarians who cite “individual liberties” as the rationale for their weakness for getting stoned.
Individual liberties are key, and perhaps marijuana use should be a state issue and legalized locally if citizens want to handle it just like any other market commodity. But those on the far-Right, who claim to celebrate conservative and libertarian values, sully the ideological waters with their self-styled morality. They extol the morality of the Free Market (hear, hear!) and of marriage and family (amen!), of personal liberties (lock and load!) and of Life (it’s a child, not a choice!). These all fit “moral high ground” politics. Where the hell does getting spaced-out on cannabis fit in to the picture?
Smoking pot was wrong when hippie peaceniks were doing it to rebel against “the establisment” in the 60s and 70s, and I still believe it to be wrong. Even if it is not technically illegal, it is an immoral act to smoke pot, or to take any illicit drug for that matter. It was bad when the hippies at Woodstock freaked out, got naked, had public sex, and wallowed in the mud to the throbbing tunes of Santana and Joe Cocker. It is still bad today when the politically conservative and libertarian get baked, discuss the power of the Federal Reserve, and wallow in the mud of moral equivocation to the lilting tunes of Michael Buble.
The Woodstocking of America is not just about pot, however. Every bad behavior that made Woodstock synonymous with the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s, has, to one degree or another, been normalized across every facet of society and within every political ism. So we’re not just talking about the Democrat voting bloc here. Moral conduct, marital fidelity, and sexual purity, having been dismissed for decades by pop culture, have not been terribly valued by Conservatives either. Honesty, loyalty, modesty, and the old fashioned notion of honor have all been tabled in favor of their more expedient counterfeits such as spin, backstabbing, exposure, and compromise.
Americans will never restore the republic to its Constitutional nucleus by picking and choosing ideologies that fit within their moral comfort zones. The Founding Documents, though not of a particular religious dogma, are moral in nature. They make it clear that God has a role in the United States of America, and that ongoing freedom is conditional upon the moral conduct of its citizens. I blame William F. Buckley. And I blame every American who has bought into the normalization of immorality. That which was wrong at Woodstock is wrong still. We’ve just gotten used to it. Too many Conservatives believe the lie that if it happens in private it doesn’t matter. Wrong! Character counts!
People will exercise their agency however they want. Government should never to try to legislate virtue at the national level. But government would never be required to keep bad behavior in check if individuals themselves lived moral lives. We are failing as a moral people, setting terrible examples for younger generations. It’s time to crawl out of the moral mud of Woodstock. Throw away the bongs, take a bath, and put on the armor of God.
By Marjorie Haun 12/20/11