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Sunday, August 15, 2004
Sex, Lies and Blogger

By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:16 am

(OK, no lies, per se, but I couldn’t think of a substitute that would maintain the symmetry).

I concur with James Joyner: this story is simply depressing.

And really, I don’t mean that in one of those “oh, where is our society going?” kind of ways (although the story does demonstrate a variety of things about our society) or in terms of moral indignation (although there is plenty in the tale to object to on moral grounds). Basically I find it depressing for Ms. Cutler specifically. Yes, fame and fortune are knocking at her door, and no doubt she doesn’t see the situation as depressing, but what a remarkably vapid and self-abusive way to achieve notoriety.

And the WaPo piece is rather exulting:

She is an American uber-individualist demanding the right to tell her own story her own way.

I am not sure that essentially prostituting oneself is the apex of individualism.

The article then starts to take itself quite seriously and tries to analyze the deeper meaning of the affair. To honest, my skimming stopped at about that point.

The bottom line is simple: sex is a big deal in the lives of human beings and has been from the beginning. People have always liked to talk about sex, even if th

ey don’t like to admit it/the mores of the time forbid it. Due to a confluence of issues in the modern world, most notably birth control and mass communication down to the ability of individuals to publish to a wide audience (i.e., blogs), it is now possible for the small percentage of the society who is willing to both engage in various activities, and tell us all about them, to do so. From there because of a desire to be scandalized, salacious interest, or whatever, the citizenry at large is going to pay attention in the tale. And so you get stories like this one. Further, this one has not only sex, but politics and this strange new thing called “blogs” (which, as you may know, is short for “web logs”—and what a relief if was WaPo to let us know that).

Birth control methods provide the illusion of sex sans consequences and photography and video then the internet provides the means to “share".

As they say, sex sells, and this should be no surprise: it is a powerful force in human behavior. Indeed, given that none of us would be here without it, its significance is rather hard to deny.

And, certainly, modern philosophies and ideologies have broken down many long-standing taboos so as to expand the potential pool of persons engaged in activities like those detailed in the Cutler story, and, more specifically those willing and able to talk about them in public.

I have long thought that while it is true that the public discourse on matters sexual has become radically more open in the last several decades, that the idea that sexual adventurism is a wholly twentieth century phenomenon is patently false. What has changed has been the ability to deliver and consume, in mass, the information.

One needs only read the biographies of the founders of the United States to see that, like today, there were those who held strict views on sexual morality (e.g., John Adams, who was shocked to find on his first sojourn in France that one of his prominent acquaintances had a live-in mistress who seemed to be friends with the man’s wife) and those who did not (e.g., Benjamin Franklin who sowed wild oats in his youth, including the siring of a son out of wedlock-and who, in turn, would have a son who would do the same, and, indeed his son would do the same as well). There is, of course, the example of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemming, and the list goes on.

Indeed, Plato wondered as to the state of the youth of Athens. Read the Old Testament for that matter. There’s a reason that one of the Ten Commandments is a prohibition on adultery—it ain’t like that was the first time the Israelites had heard of the subject. Some problems aren’t as new as we think they are. Has any generation ever thought that the new generation was better than their own? The predilection is clearly to look at the youth and decry the degeneration they represent. But, as we know, it is true that the music kids today listen to is nothing more than fancy noise. And what’s with those haircuts? (Although on a serious note, the tend for little girls to dress like tramps is rather disturbing).

Now, while I do not think that Washingtonienne is a sign of doom for the times, I will say that it is sad that we have gotten to a point where such behavior results in fame and fortune (or, at least, infamy).

(Note: it wasn’t my intention to “go essay” on this topic. My initial post was to be an agreement with James that the story was depressing, and then I got carried away :).

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