It's probably tautological to observe that a public scold obsesses about things that others find no reason to obsess about, but what else is a blog for if not a few tautologies? Ross Douthat is a scold who recently typed a revealingly large number of words -- mind you with both hands -- about pornography:
The notion that pornography, and especially hard-core pornography, has something to do with marital infidelity has been floating around the edges of the American conversation for a while now, even as the porn industry, by some estimates, has swollen to rival professional sports and the major broadcast networks as a revenue-generating source of entertainment ...Heh. He said swollen.
But the attention paid to the connection between porn and infidelity doesn’t translate into anything like a consensus on what that connection is.
All the passive-voiced vague attributions fail to disguise the fact that Ross Douthat is the one doing all the pained musing over the equation of pornography and adultery, concluding, to everyone's complete surprise, that pornography and adultery are, if not tantamount, and if not ugly facets of the same depraved shame, then certainly knocking boots regularly. They're probably sitting side by side in the back row of the movie theater, hands and lips entangled, paying no attention to the feature, a dark coat draped suspiciously over their respective laps.
Somebody call the usher, for the stakes are desperately high:
[I]t's so easy to say that the spread of pornography means that we're just taking a turn, where sex and fidelity are concerned, toward realism, toward adulthood, toward sophistication. All we have to give up to get there is our sense of decency.Wow, really? Ross Douthat just spilled -- my word processor tells me this -- 3,086 words to establish that "our sense of decency" is under threat? Evidently he was tapped out before specifying what "our sense of decency" amounts to, as he conceives it; or why anyone should care about what it means; or why we should care about losing it; or for that matter, who this "our" refers to.
Such is the way of scolds -- so many agonized, alarmist words that say no more than a brief whine of outrage would have said.
(via Eli H.)