Bristol Palin and the Underestimating of Social Cons


Some hack needs to coin the phrase "Juno Vote," and it might as well be me. Kibbitzing about the Bristol Palin story yesterday with a delegate (a lady!), I got another whiff of 2007's surprise hit for social conservatives. "Of course I don't approve of the behavior," this delegate said, "but I think they're making the right choice, and this humanizes her."

I don't feel one way or another about the behavior or the choice, and I'm even not a big fan of humans, but it reminds me of why on the topic of good ol' American humpin', I sometimes feel more sympathy for social conservatives than for people I agree with politically. I don't subscribe to the idea of trying to rein in all sorts of private erotic behavior, but I can respect their view of sexual desire as something destabilizing, crazy-making, unpredictable, and fundamentally threatening to plenty of social norms. That, in my view, is an argument for free love and wild sex, not against. But at least the social cons have a sense that eros is more than just another boring political issue or side in the culture war. (Not to mention that I'm unsure being reluctant to have some public school time-server teach your kids how to screw in a sex-ed class marks you as a knuckle-dragging naif.) As his comments the other day indicate, Dan Savage is one of the few people who can hold both a politically mature view of sexual freedom and a realistic idea of how wacky and uncontrollable sexual desire is (and I'm not just saying that because Dan Savage is fine).

Put another way: It's inevitable that everybody's first response to the knocked-up story focuses on political calculus, given that the grandmother-to-be is trying to become the vice president. But if your first reaction to hearing about this is to say "This is the result of abstinence-only education," and you actually believe that, your view of sex is as goofy and clueless as that of any bible thumper who worries that electing the wrong president will cause men to leave the natural uses of women and burn in their lust one after another.