. . . Thursday December 9, 2004

Where We’re At

Back in 1948, Alfred Kinsey made quite a splash when he wrote and released a report titled Sexual Behavior of the Human Male. There was some controversy of course (Kinsey was a Harvard trained zoologist; think of him as the old school intellectual elite), but even back then, nearly three-quarters of Americans approved of his work.

Now let’s cut to, say, five years ago. It’s impossible to imagine that anyone of any note would cry foul at the notion of discussing Kinsey’s work at that moment in modern history.

And yet here we are, five years later, and the release of the movie about Kinsey’s life and work is a really, really big deal in some circles. We’ve seen trends like this before, as Frank Rich explains:

While “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” was received with a certain amount of enthusiasm and relief by most Americans in 1948, the atmosphere had changed radically by the time Kinsey published his follow-up volume, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female,” just five years later. By 1953 Joe McCarthy was in full throttle, and, as James H. Jones writes in his judicious 1997 Kinsey biography, “ultra-conservative critics would accuse Kinsey of aiding communism by undermining sexual morality and the sanctity of the home.” Kinsey was an anti-Soviet, anti-New Deal conservative, but that didn’t matter in an America racked by fear. He lost the principal sponsor of his research, the Rockefeller Foundation, and soon found himself being hounded, in part for his sympathetic view of homosexuality, by the ambiguously gay homophobes J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson. Based on what we’ve seen in just the six weeks since Election Day, the parallels between that war over sex and our own may have only just begun.

For many Americans, the idea that anyone would still be offended (and we’re talking about boycotts and protests here, folks) is so insane that it seems impossible. Well, it’s time to wake up. We have entered a new age in which we must re-fight the battles that we thought were long ago won. There are currently challenges to the teaching of evolution in schools in 40 different states.

And it pays to be really wary of those politicians and media outlets that pander to this new insanity masquerading as morality. Consider this. We all know that Fox News loves to pander to these regular Americans who fear sexuality and loathe reason. But take a look at which company released the movie Kinsey. It’s Fox. See both forms of entertainment make money. And that’s fine. But one of the forms of entertainment is helping to set us back decades because there are people out there (millions and millions of them) who don’t know it’s just entertainment.

Concentration is important!