- The Attorney General wants to ban pornography from the Web, not just child pornography but even depictions of adults doing their biological part.
- The government’s new abstinence education programs extend even to adults. Anyone who is unmarried (and only male-female unions are recognized) may have sex.
- Parents want to ban Harry Potter for "teaching witchcraft."
The people writing breathlessly about this stupidity are both well-meaning and correct. All these efforts are madness.
But in one way they are very good news indeed.
They are proof of excess.
Whenever a political myth reaches its sell-by date you will see attempts made to extend it in ways the majority has no wish to go:
- The New Left extended liberalism beyond where people wanted to go.
- The Smoot-Hawley tariff extended economic nationalism beyond where people wanted to go.
- The 1895 Gold Bond extended the power of Wall Street beyond where people wanted it to go.
- The Dred Scott decision extended the power of slavery beyond where people wanted it to to.
The real excesses of our time, of course, are Iraq and the so-called "War on Terror," which is bankrupting our nation morally, militarily and financially. The reaction against this has already started.
And it is in an attempt to stanch that reaction that the New Right has launched these, and other crusades. The idea is to win back the loyalty of the hard right and thus (it is hoped) an off-year election where turnout is lower then.
What you need to remember is that every action above had roughly the same motive. (The 1895 bond came after a disastrous mid-term for Democrats.) By isolating itself to its base, and depending on that base to carry the day at a time of rising anger against the center of power, every American political myth dooms itself.