Social Issues

Defining Social Conservatism Up

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Friend of reason Jim Henley notes the withering of social conservatism by pointing to a couple of people who still try to seriously hew to some ancient social-con verities now a-mouldering in the grave, Chronicles's editor Thomas Fleming and radio busybody Laura Schlessinger, and seem unbearably eccentric for doing so.

They both believe that it ain't enough that Sarah Palin chose to bear all those kids, and encourage her daughter to bear hers as well: she shouldn't be doing anything as time-consuming outside the home as governing as a mother.

As Henley notes:

When Fleming was young and I was younger, conservatism opposed married women working outside the home—it meant your husband was a failure either as a provider, or at keeping you in line. While there was no shortage of the Bristol Palin Maneuver, quickly marrying off your pregnant daughter was something done hush-hush, not something you trumpeted as a victory for "Life," for which you could reasonably expect applause. Divorce? A mark of defeat, whose product was a fallen woman. As for single mothers? Jezebels to be driven from the Valley.

Nowadays "social conservatism" means opposition to legal abortion (as it did back then) and gay marriage, but as the Word Publishing spinner rack in your drug store will make clear, working-motherhood, divorce, single-momitude and teenage pregnancy are "issues" and "challenges" for evangelical families to work through—prayerfully of course. As long as there's no faggotry or pregnancy termination, it's all good.

My review of Thomas Fleming's book The Morality of Everyday Life: Rediscovering an Ancient Alternative to the Liberal Tradition from The Freeman can be found on page four of this .pdf. Spoiler: I defend the "liberal tradition."

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  1. Isn’t Ron Paul a social conservative ?

  2. Seems wrongheaded, since faggotry could actually PREVENT said teenaged pregnancy…

  3. Powerfully uninteresting stuff. Although “faggotry” is definitely new and funny. Might have to add it to my vocabulary.

  4. The ad that appeared on my screen says “Free due date calculator”.

    Am I a bad man for thinking the first question should be “When is the last time you had sex that wasn’t anal or oral?”?

  5. Then again a lot of research may discover that for social conservatives, “social conservatism” means something different to everyone. But research takes time and who has time for that?

  6. > Seems wrongheaded, since faggotry could actually PREVENT said teenaged pregnancy…

    Actually, it seems that’s ok, as long as you stop after a while and pray about it.

  7. The only difference between a socialist and a conservative is that one has a utopian view about the future, and the other has a utopian view about the past. Libertarians live in the present, thankfully.

  8. Something I tried to point out to a bunch of disheartened liberals during the darkest moments of the GWB years was that the singular accomplishment of social conservatism in the last decade or so has been the process of making illegal something that was never legal to begin with.

    While I suppose it’s a victory of sorts for the traditional values crowd to make it illegal for gays to marry in, wherever, West Virginia or whatnot, the fact remains that at most, it’s holding the line.

    The national greatness/neocon/whatever conservatives have been considerably more successful at enacting an agenda of change (towards their interests, such as omnipresent surveillance, removal of fourth and first amendment protections, legalized torture, perpetual war, etc.), and it is they we should be worried about. The Christian Right serves as a distraction to the enemies of the Republican party, drawing a lot of energetic opposition despite their near complete impotence.

  9. Very stupid article. I enjoy the first line accusing Dr Laura of being a radio busybody. I thought listeners called her seeking advice, waitning on hold for hours. I wasn’t aware that Dr Laura was the one initiating the phone calls and subjecting unwilling people to her advice. That’s why we have liberal dumbshits like Jim Henley to enlighten us uniformed masses

  10. heh2k:

    >> Seems wrongheaded, since faggotry could >>actually PREVENT said teenaged pregnancy…

    >Actually, it seems that’s ok, as long as you >stop after a while and pray about

    I think you are required to pray each time you change positions, which happens about every three minutes, according to this website I…errr…stumbled on. ;-}

  11. The CREW “Most Corrupt” list:

    Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
    Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
    Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA)
    Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)
    Rep. Vito J. Fossella (R-NY)
    Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-LA)
    Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
    Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
    Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)
    Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    Rep. Gary G. Miller (R-CA)
    Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)
    Rep. Timothy F. Murphy (R-PA)
    Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA)
    Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM)
    Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)
    Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
    Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)
    Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK)
    Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
    Dishonorable mentions

    Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
    Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)
    Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)
    Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)

    First, I’m surprised there a member of the Alaska delegation that didn’t make the list.

    Second, the Senate Minority Leader? The MINORITY LEADER!?! That’s just awful.

  12. “social conservatism”

    I don’t know nothin’ ’bout nothin’ that comes inside quotation marks, but if our womanfolk decide to get married and have kids and tend to the house-chores and then in their spare time decide to run a whole dang state and get the menfolk to elect them, well, I’ll be danged. Good for them!

  13. I’ve always said this is how conservatives work.

    50 years ago it was contraception that was bad, now it’s all abortion, abortion, abortion.

    50 years ago it wa adultery that should be illegal, now its gay marriage.

    The nature of conservatism is that most people who call themselves “conservatives” if magically transported 50 year to the past would be appalled at what “conservatives” of that time would be pushing.

    Conservatives are all like “well of course attempts to prohibit contraception are going too far, but abortion is another matter” or “of course the Hays Code was a ridiculous at times, but censorship of out right pornography is another matter” etc. They disavow the now obviously crazy positions their conservative ancestors pushed for but swear up and down their current reactionary position is totally different. They often say “well, of course no one is talking about doing x but y is a far cry from x.” If banning x became common place they would move the goalposts back to wanting to ban x in a heartbeat.

  14. joe
    Weren’t you here the other day when someone argued that McConnell was an intellectual light among Republicans and a man of courage and integrity? It was pretty funny then, but funnier now.

  15. No New Jersey, no Rhode Island, no Nevada?
    Man, things have changed.

    No, MNG, I missed that. Mitch McConnell? Really?

  16. I’m on the wrong thread.

  17. But no one notices.

  18. @Mr. Nice Guy

    I’ve always said this is how conservatives work…..

    OTOH, if JFK could be magically transported to today with his philosophy intact (no pun intended), he would probably be to the right of McLovin’ At least he cut the marginal tax rate.

  19. And here’s how liberals work: Once permissive attitudes about x become common place they move the goalposts, and want to permit y in a heartbeat.

    They are both just two sides of the same old, tired dichotomy. Appealing in a populist manner to people’s ingrained, thoughtless prejudices in order to 1. get elected 2. distract the sheeple

    Meanwhile, in all the areas that really matter, they are all on the same corrupt, statist page.

  20. As the man said, “The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow”

  21. You should see Fleming’s group’s blog and the internecine pissing matches that go on there. Attacks on spelling and grammar. They go at it over “jots and tittles” of Catholic doctrine at times. Big language Paleo Site for the sake of big language. Great place to spend about one minute and get the hell out of there.

    I met Fleming once at an event for the Rockford Institute, a Tom Roeser(great on Illinois and Chicago politics) speech over dinner at a great Irish pub in Rockford, IL. Dr Tom could hardly contain his disgust when I told him I was more of a Reason Magazine Libertarian than whatever they were pushing. He blah-blathered about Virginia Postrel as I recall. This was around 10 years ago. There was apparently bad blood, maybe he lost a debate way back when?

    I think it must have to do with religion, all truth and morality must come from God you know.

  22. That’s why we have liberal dumbshits like Jim Henley to enlighten us uniformed masses

    No, you have liberal dumbshits like me to “defend against small stateless bands of terrorists.” Someone hasn’t been checking their dead-tree reason table of contents.

  23. I am curious, inre the CREW report.

    70% on the list are Retardicans. Is this
    a) a current anomoly
    b) bias on the part of the CREW, or
    c) are the Turd Sandwiches inherently more corrupt than the Giant Douches?

    Comments? (Don’t bother Joe, I know what you will say)

  24. On the fun facts front, though, I sold a couple poems to Chronicles back in the 1990s.

  25. And here’s how liberals work: Once permissive attitudes about x become common place they move the goalposts, and want to permit y in a heartbeat.

    Right. Now, let’s think about how the word “progress,” the root word of “progressive,” comes into play here.

  26. Now YOU are putting lipstick on a pig ;-}

    Don’t get me wrong, Joe. I would be waaaaay down on a list of “social conservatives” by ANYONE who knows me.

    But, many politicos and pundits, in order to avoid telling the truth about their real agenda, will often self-define as “progressive” because the dictionary definition has no negative connotations. Just because you are “progressing” in a given direction, it doesn’t follow that it is the CORRECT direction.

    I am sure that Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, etc. would self-define as progressives. *snark*

  27. Joe, your statements about redistribution in the community organizer thread revealed you for what you really are. Sorry

  28. “The CREW “Most Corrupt” list:

    Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
    Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
    Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA)
    Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)
    Rep. Vito J. Fossella (R-NY)
    Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-LA)
    Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
    Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
    Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)
    Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    Rep. Gary G. Miller (R-CA)
    Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)
    Rep. Timothy F. Murphy (R-PA)
    Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA)
    Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM)
    Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)
    Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
    Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)
    Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK)
    Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
    Dishonorable mentions

    Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
    Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)
    Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)
    Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)

    First, I’m surprised there a member of the Alaska delegation that didn’t make the list.

    Second, the Senate Minority Leader? The MINORITY LEADER!?! That’s just awful.”

    But you repeat yorself.

  29. Wow! Another Reason Palin Piece!

    Reason

    All Palin! All the time!

  30. I’ve always said this is how conservatives work.

    50 years ago it was contraception that was bad, now it’s all abortion, abortion, abortion.

    50 years ago it wa adultery that should be illegal, now its gay marriage.

    well, conservatism. conserve.

    that sort of makes sense, what with people having to live in the world they live in.

    progressives aren’t hyping eugenics, whut whut.

  31. MNG & dhex tie for last place

  32. Whew! Thanks Joe. Sheila Jackson Lee wasn’t on the list. [Mental Note: vote for Sheila Jackson Lee]

    Good God I almost considered an alternative!

  33. “Whew! Thanks Joe. Sheila Jackson Lee wasn’t on the list. [Mental Note: vote for Sheila Jackson Lee].

    You must not have read the Reason Group Blog Rulebook. Joe wasn’t talking to you. Therefore you have no right to comment on his post.

  34. Very stupid article. I enjoy the first line accusing Dr Laura of being a radio busybody. I thought listeners called her seeking advice, waitning on hold for hours. I wasn’t aware that Dr Laura was the one initiating the phone calls and subjecting unwilling people to her advice.

    Was the advice she gave you when you called in useful in dealing with your ED problem?

  35. Damn. Speaking of Joe, he must be taking a nap. I can’t believe he didn’t rise to the redistributionist bait like a trout to a royal coachman.

  36. Do trout actually hit Coachmen? Or is it one of those flies people tie to impress other anglers?

  37. “well, conservatism. conserve. that sort of makes sense, what with people having to live in the world they live in.”

    Oh yeah, and what a world it’s been throughout their history.

  38. “Damn. Speaking of Joe, he must be taking a nap. I can’t believe he didn’t rise to the redistributionist bait like a trout to a royal coachman.”

    Maybe he finally got a job.

  39. Perhaps. This being an election cycle, I’m sure there are plenty of vacant “community organizer” positions right now.

  40. Jim, they do hit them. They REALLY hit nymphs, but I was afraid if I used trout, rise, and nymph all in the same sentence, Feministing would have me upside down on a cross.

  41. ignorance of the haiku contest is no excuse

    Paultards are Paultards
    On that we can agree
    Worse things to be, eh?

  42. “Perhaps. This being an election cycle, I’m sure there are plenty of vacant “community organizer” positions right now.”

    No, he said his work history is former city planner.

  43. Shit!

    Paultards are Paultards
    On that we can all agree
    Worse things to be, eh?

  44. You attack fiercely
    I defend with grace and speed
    Aikido prevails

    Joe, what a dumbass
    You fail in comparison
    To my mighty brain.

    I will make Red Hats
    Out of your bloated organs
    After I skin you.

  45. Does anyone have a link to those Laura Schlessinger nude photos? I used to enjoy posting that around whenever her bloviation came up.

    progressives aren’t hyping eugenics

    Most people think most people are morons. Eugenics is what happens when they decide to act on that problem.

  46. Very stupid article. I enjoy the first line accusing Dr Laura of being a radio busybody.

    The good doctor has been on the skids for years. Her listenership has dropped like the proverbial lead dipsy, proving, I suppose, that even talk radio listeners have some standards…

  47. She’s not a busybody. Laura’s a porn star just like Paris Hilton only not as hot/explicit, only for some reason — as with Paris Hilton — nobody calls her a porn star.

  48. The Republicans have, incredibly, managed to define abortion as the norm…to their advantage. That way Bristol – and by the power of association, her mother – get to look like heroes for ‘deciding’ to have the baby, which decision should involve no actual choice at all, since the decider(s) is/are anti-abortion as a matter of principle.

    It used to be that ‘family values’ meant that you didn’t have premarital sex or babies out of wedlock. Now premarital sex and out of wedlock births just give you an opportunity to burnish your family values credentials!

  49. It used to be that having 5 children was looked down upon as something “papists” would do. A lot has changed since my parents were young, most of it for the better.

  50. which decision should involve no actual choice at all, since the decider(s) is/are anti-abortion as a matter of principle.

    Deciding to act in accord with your principles is still a decision, and thus a choice. A, how do they say it, principled choice, and therefor laudable for at least avoiding the sins of expediency and hypocrisy.

  51. There’s nothing surprising in this. Conservatives are traditionalists (hence the word, duh). In a nutshell, they want things they way they were (or perceived them to be) as a kid. Thus each new generation of conservatives has a slightly more progressive tradition to insist we go back to.

    This also means that the next generation of conservatives will be demanding the traditional big government interventionism of Clinton and Bush.

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