Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reply to Pandagon

The liberal blogger Pandagon links my post about Obama's "punished with a baby" remark, and then says:
Sean Hannity, for one, describes unplanned pregnancies that result in babies as a punishment for sex he doesn’t approve of.
Here's the quote from Hannity that Pandagon uses:
We live in an age characterized by the maxim “If it feels good do it, regardless of the consequences.” It’s a sex-drenched culture -- from movies, music, and magazines to TV, radio and the Internet -- that glorifies premarital sex, promiscuous sex, extramarital sex, kinky sex, rough sex, and gay sex. You name it, you can find it, and without looking too hard.
Notice what's missing? The words "punishment" and "pregnancy."

Even if you disagree with Hannity's critique of cultural hedonism, it cannot be construed as describing "babies as punishment."

Pandagon highlights the word "consequences" in Hannity's quote and then says:
Right wingers who wish to deprive women of the right to choose abortion, of contraception access, and of sex education believe babies are a punishment for sex.
This has nothing to do with what Hannity wrote. He was asserting as a fact that contemporary culture promotes and encourages the pursuit of sexual gratification "regardless of consequences." That is to say, "Never mind the ultimate result of your actions. Never mind who gets hurt in the process."

Hedonism is anti-social and selfish. There are many possible consequences of our actions that a hedonistic culture urges us to ignore. Among those is the possibility that we will become so callous and hard-hearted that we'll describe babies as "punishment," analogous to a sexually-transmitted disease -- something Obama did, and Hannity did not.

1 comment:

  1. In a context where the writer classifies a particular behavior as abnormal or bad, and then makes an argument for forcing people who so behave to accept the “consequences” of doing so, I don’t think it is much of a stretch to equate “consequences” with “punishment.” When thought of as behavior-modification tools—as Mr. Hannity does here—consequences begin to look a lot like punishment. Like Amanda Marcotte, I read it this way, and if Mr. Hannity did not intend this meaning he should write more clearly.

    But I’m actually more interested in your characterization of hedonism as “anti-social” and “selfish.” For one thing, it is not clear to me how seeking recreational sex makes the hedonist more “anti-social” or “selfish” than the wealthy person who continues to accumulate money long after collecting enough to pay for a long life with a high standard of living.

    You think it is because you have accepted a particular normative social structure. Others do not give this structure the same value, and act according to a different one. This does not make them anti-social or selfish. It just makes them different.