Sex, lies, and self-delusion: The sad state of social conservatism

From poor education rates to frequent porn searches, right-wing states have the majority of America's left-wing problems. How come? Photo: Communities @WashingtonTimes.com

FLORIDA, May 1, 2012 — In their 2010 book Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, academics Naomi Cahn and Julie Carbone noted that many families residing in states which lean toward social liberalism are financially secure, sufficiently educated, well cultured, and planned long in advance.

Families from states that are skewed toward social conservatism, however, tend to have a broad share of America’s out of wedlock births, low education rates, poorly paying jobs, forced situational marriages, and gender imbalances.

The authors attributed this to the “blue paradigm (being) the other end of the sexual revolution” with its “families….remade….(as) a huge success.” The red paradigm, meanwhile, has families that are living in the past with children that simply cannot live up to grand expectations, which results in highly counterproductive consequences.

I approached the subject from an economic standpoint, rooted in the idea that those in dire straits tend to be more self-destructive than those who are not. After all, if one is impoverished in the present, and has little hope for the future, then this can easily lead to feelings of low self-esteem or worth. Should one be in such a position, what incentive is there to be inpidually productive? 

The anger stemming from this scenario can make social rightism especially attractive as it all too frequently portrays societal minorities as scapegoats for one’s misery or perceived cultural degradation.

From my experience, the fact that many social rightists cannot live up to their own standards is, quite frankly, unimportant to them. The standards in question merely serve as symbolic guidelines, and are not meant to be attainable in any practical sense. This, of course, allows for rank hypocrisy to develop on a myriad of levels.

Enter a new factoid about pornography consumption by state. Not just any kind of pornography, though. 

According to Google’s trend index, Mississippi, an internationally recognized bastion of hardcore social rightism, leads the nation for the search of “gay sex”. It has some close competitors, however. In descending order, these are Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, Nevada, and last but most certainly not least, Texas. Needless to say, all of the aforementioned states, with the exception of Nevada, have some of the most stringently antigay laws in the entire country, and generally pride themselves on their traditional values.

Maybe this is because they have populaces fearful of glaring social realities that lie under the veneer of ‘traditionalism’; whatever that is supposed to mean these days.

At any rate, the old adage of “do as I say and not as I do” seems to be strong as ever in a good number of the United States. While I am not one who is by any means an advocate of social leftism, there is far too much wrong in the world of social rightism to render it as anything approaching a viable alternative.

Perhaps the best path forward for this country can be found in the non-fundamentalist aspects of social libertarianism. Turning “do as I say and not as I do” into “live and let live” sure seems like a good plan to me. Actually, I have trouble imagining any rational alternative to it.

The question is this, could a majority of those who want to legislate morality on the right or subsidize personal choices on the left ever possibly agree? Honestly, I do not know.

Much of this article was first published as The real Cost of Family Values? Rightist States, Leftist Problems, and Failed Economies on Blogcritics.org


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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