Over at RealClearPolitics, Heather Wilhelm has a very thoughtful and positive review of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America ("a refreshing political book in that it kind of, well, hates politics….an important read with solid insight into today's political mess"). Wilhelm also has an accompanying interview with the authors. Excerpt from that:
Wilhelm: You celebrate the role of pop culture and its role in breaking down barriers and sparking political change. At the same time, you seem pretty blasé regarding the amazing proliferation of "choice" in online porn or in the "complicated and multilayered" sexual exploits of Tiger Woods. Are you concerned at all about the coarsening of culture that more freedom can bring, and how do you bridge this gap with religious conservatives?
Gillespie: There is no question that there is more graphic and sexual imagery available now than ever before. Some of this stuff wasn't even imaginable in, say, the '60s. But there is also no question that violent crime rates and sexual crime rates are also down. So it is clear as an empirical fact that an increase in the graphic imagery has not had the detrimental effect on behavior that most people worry about.
What this means is that people are able to sort more, which is a good thing. Of course Tiger Woods is not a hero; he has fallen from being a hero because of his behavior. But we do live in a nicer, safer, more respectful world now, even though we have a pop culture that trades freely in vulgar imagery.
Welch: It also comes down to who is imposing what on whom. I have no taste for ultra-violent movies—maybe "A Clockwork Orange," but when I think about it, I really don't feel like seeing that again soon—so my solution is that I don't see those movies. No one imposes it on me or removes my ability to see what I want.
You could say that religious expression is in the same way. There is more freedom to express your religious beliefs today, and that makes us as a nation far richer. With freedom, people can choose things that you dislike.
Gillespie: It's really to the shame of America that as the USSR and Cuba were censoring rock music and imprisoning people for playing that music, there were forces in the U.S. with a similar authoritarian impulse—burning records, etc. Pop culture, high culture and low culture have never been so vibrant as now, and violent crimes and sex crimes are down. We need more punk rock if we really want to make it to utopia.