Home/Rod Dreher/The Sacred Mission To Destroy Normality

The Sacred Mission To Destroy Normality

The kinky section of the Stockholm Pride Parade (Coalcandy/YouTube)

Here’s a story from them, an online LGBT magazine published by the magazine giant Condé Nast, in which the author argues against those who say that kink practitioners and those into BDSM (bondage, domination, sadomasochism) should be excluded from Pride parades because they’re too dark, especially for kids to see. Excerpt:

Those opposed to public representations of queer fetish culture treat it as a taboo and an inherent sexual risk to youth, but this both oversimplifies BDSM and underestimates the intellectual capacity of young LGBTQ+ people. “My understanding of BDSM is actually very far from sexual, because everything that I saw as a kid wasn’t sexualized to me,” says Sunny Hitching, a 19-year-old second generation queer who has attended San Francisco Pride and grew up with kinky, poly, queer parents. Sunny’s mother openly practiced both lifestyle and professional BDSM for most of their childhood, and while Hitchling considers themself to have had multiple parents, they say their most influential parents are their mom and their chosen stepdad Moo, a queer trans man who was formerly their mother’s 24/7 lifestyle submissive.

Moo, a queer trans man who was formerly their mother’s 24/7 lifestyle submissive. Okay. More:

Sunny feels their upbringing gave them a more comprehensive sexual education than most of their peers, as their parents would openly discuss subjects of sexuality, gender, and kink with them. When Sunny expressed interest in engaging in bondage and breathplay (erotic asphyxiation) with their longtime partner, their mother took the time to explain how to do it most safely.

“There’s a very big difference between people who want to spice things up and people who are literally part of a culture that has been here for decades,” Sunny says. “It’s traditions that are passed down and relationships that are built on trust and love and care. And if someone tries to tell me otherwise, I’m literally an example of that.”

Sunny was raised by these freaks, and as a teenager, taught by his/her mother how to choke and be choked for erotic pleasure. This is what Condé Nast wants to bring to the mainstream, in part for the cause of liberating children. Condé Nast isn’t some fringe outfit: it’s as big and as mainstream as magazine publishers get. 

CN also publishes Teen Vogue which, under the leadership of Phillip Picardi, a gay man who is now the editor-in-chief of Out, distinguished itself with articles like publishing consumer guides to vibrators, and graphic how-to articles about anal sex. For teenage girls. Picardi has moved on, but recently Teen Vogue published an essay by a physician making a moral and legal argument for prostitution — this, again, in a magazine for teenage girls.

If we lived in a sane society, this would not be possible — if not legally, then certainly not morally and (therefore) commercially. The idea of a mainstream digital magazine publishing articles teaching teenage girls how to have anal sex, and why they should aspire to become prostitutes, would be clearly seen as a threat to the common good. Similarly, a mainstream digital magazine that published articles arguing that people who torture and are tortured for sexual pleasure ought to be brought into the clear light of day and celebrated, in part because it is good for the children, would be widely condemned.

But that’s not how we roll in Weimar America. Here’s Condé Nast’s announcement of the launch of them:

Condé Nast today announced the launch of them, a next-generation community platform. them chronicles and celebrates the stories, people and voices that are emerging and inspiring all of us, ranging in topics from pop culture and style to politics and news, all through the lens of today’s LGBTQ community. Acclaimed editor Phillip Picardi, digital editorial director of Teen Vogue and Allure, is the chief content officer of them. Additionally, launch partners of them include Burberry, Google, Lyft and GLAAD.

“There is a cultural revolution happening that is — as always — spearheaded by young people who believe in fighting for equality, and we want to create a space that’s reflective of this moment,” said Picardi. “We’re excited to showcase the voices and perspectives of people in the community, and prove through our storytelling that, by celebrating them, we’re really celebrating all of us.”

The editorial launch team of them is anchored by Meredith Talusan, who recently won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism, and agender media personality Tyler Ford, who was recently named to Dazed’s 100 visionary talents shaping youth culture in 2016. The Facebook and Instagram handles for them are launched in tandem.

“We’ve been reimagining our titles and creating new ones to more broadly reflect our culture today, and them is a perfect example of how we’re thinking differently about our audiences,” said Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast. “Phil has brilliant insight into how people are engaging with each other through the content they read and watch, and he has once again identified important and influential voices and stories to bring to the forefront.”

Phil Picardi, a man of “brilliant insight” who made his career in part by trying to convince teenage girls to live like gay men, is the media prince who goes from strength to strength in this decadent culture. He and his mission are supported by giants of Woke Capitalism like Google, Lyft, and Burberry. There is an incalculable amount of money and cultural power behind these campaigns.

All of them hate what is normal and good, and are determined to destroy it. And get this: there is no limiting principle on the Left. To be sure, some liberals — people I know, and some who read this blog — will draw a line at some of this. But I can’t think of any left-liberals with a meaningful voice in the public square who will say that this stuff is wicked, and should be rejected. None will say that nine-year-old drag queens are a demented idea, not something to be encouraged or celebrated. If Pete Buttigieg and his spouse had children, I doubt that they would want those kids to grow up with leather daddies or erotic chokers as role models — but would Buttigieg have the courage to see and to declare enemies to his Left? I doubt it.

HuffPo says that kids need to go to Pride parades to see the kink. Excerpt:

Politics have a prominent place in Pride, Rayside said, but “it is also about outrage,” a time when some in the community express this “in ways that confront normal sensibilities.”

The freedom to do so is embedded within LGBTQ+ culture and history. These expressions are the most colourful during the parade.

Bergman defended these elements and their right to exist at a kid-friendly event.

“First of all, nobody likes nakedness more than children,” Bergman said.

“On the list of things that I don’t want my children ever to be exposed to are: Compulsory heterosexuality, demonstrations of sexism, demonstrations of racism, demonstrations of ablism, violence. These are all way higher on the list than some homosexual’s tuchus.”

Putting on her sex therapist hat, Ren emphasized that Pride, from kink to nakedness, is an excellent opportunity for parents to do unbiased sex education. Bergman also pointed out that many children don’t even interpret most of what they’re seeing in a Pride parade as sexual, but rather as dress-up or fun.

“Children benefit from seeing people loving one another, from seeing diversity and inclusion. Children suffer from seeing violence and fear, hatred and divisiveness,” Ren said.

It seems that the only taboo left is pedophilia, but give it five years — the Desmond Is Amazing brigades are working hard to tear that wall down. 

Those who object to any of this are to be targeted and scapegoated as enemies of the nihilistic revolution. As Roger Scruton wrote in Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands: Thinkers Of The New Left:

Almost all the thinkers I have discussed in this book have adopted the same annihilating approach to their opponents as leftist parties in power. For the opponent is the class enemy. Should he put his head above the parapet in the culture wars he is not to be argued with, for he cannot utter truth … . Such an enemy is not to be the object of negotiation of compromise. Only after his final elimination from the social order will the truth be perceivable.

In order to drown the still small voice of disagreement communist parties have had recourse to ideology — a set of doctrines, for the most part doctrines of staggering imbecility, designed to close the avenues of intellectual enquiry. The purpose of ideology was not that people should believe it. On the contrary, the purpose was to make belief irrelevant, to rid the world of rational discussion in all areas where the Party had staked a claim. The idea of a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ was not supposed to describe a reality; it was supposed to bring enquiry to an end, so that reality could not be perceived.

What the editorial directors and staff of these publications, and the Woke Capitalists who fund them, want to achieve is closing off the ability to see moral reality, to see what is good, what is true, what is beautiful … what is normal. 

The ideology of staggering imbecility is “diversity and inclusivity,” which is the justification for opening the door to valorizing teenage prostitutes and high school porn stars (read Caitlin Flanagan’s recent account of the latter), bum-stickers, child drag queens, perverts parading down the street in bondage gear, and kinkster moms teaching their children how to be strangled by their partners for the sake of orgasm.

Honestly, people: what more do you need to see to grasp that our culture is in terminal velocity downwards, with seemingly no resources left to pull out of its death dive?

I mean, look: In Ireland, a Catholic primary school has decided to embrace the new world by allowing little boys to come to school dressed as little girls.

A Catholic school.

In Ireland. 

Eventually, even the most blind traditional Christians will see the desperate need for the Benedict Option among us. We are already seeing among some churches a vindication of Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics: “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.” (Just the other day, I heard from an old friend whose family had been part of a well-known theologically conservative congregation that prided itself on being apolitical, but which is now speedily endorsing wokeness.)

Beyond the Benedict Option, though, I see in the rapid Weimarization of the American public square the coming showdown between the Sohrab Ahmari and David French schools of conservative thought.

To the extent I favor French’s view, it’s because I believe that liberal democracy is a precious achievement, not one to be surrendered easily. To the extent I favor Ahmari’s view — and I am much closer to Ahmari than to French on these questions — it’s that I am convinced that the pre-political conditions for supporting a healthy liberal democracy, or even a morally sane one, are either gone, or nearly gone. Roger Scruton, in his bookHow To Be A Conservative, writes:

… Burke argued that custom, tradition and “prejudice” [Note: Burke’s use of the word is not the same as the pejorative modern use — RD] are the preconditions of political order, that they contain wisdom that could never be put together by the deliberations of rational individuals, and that without them society would disintegrate into the “dust and powder of individuality.”

All such thoughts were issued as warnings. The freedom won through enlightenment, they implied, was a fragile and threatened thing. It depended upon a cultural base that it could not itself guarantee. Only if people are held together by stronger bonds than the bond of free choice can free choice be raised to the prominence that the new political order promised. And those stronger bonds are buried deep in the community, woven by custom, ceremony, language and religious need. Political order, in short, requires cultural unity, something that politics itself can never provide.

The public order is destroying, and has very nearly destroyed, the culture on which political order is based. Besides which, things like the arguments for deep sexual perversion — e.g., torture for pleasure — as a source of pride and identity, and arguments for teenage prostitution as empowering — these things are evil. Really and truly evil. They cannot be tolerated by any society that wishes to survive.

How do we deal with this politically? Does liberal democracy have the resources to defeat these challenges to it? If you believe it does, you will side with French. If you doubt it, you will probably side with Ahmari. Either way, the fight is coming to all of us. The Benedict Option is not a withdrawal from the fight, but rather a recognition that the fight is broader and deeper than many of us think. The Benedict Option is situated within this observation by Roger Scruton, from Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands:

This does not mean that things have not changed for the worse. But if the problem is abundance, then are we to retreat from it, to a world in which we are once again in need? If the problem is the malleability of appetite, how are we to control it, and by what decrees? The fact is that we know the solution, and it is not a political one. We must change our lives. And to do this we need spiritual authority, the ability to make sacrifices, and the refusal to be degraded into the machines désirantes of Deleuze and Guattari. This changed way of life does not come from politics. It comes from religion and culture, and in particular from the God-imbued culture that the thinkers discussed in Chapter 7 wished to replace with a purely political way of seeing things.

That is, of course, only the first step towards an answer to all the many thinkers who have focused on idolatry, sensuality and materialism as the evils of our time – without using those words, however, since they are the natural words of the existing culture. I don’t deny that people are more lost in addictive pleasures now than once they were, that businesses are ever more devoted to the manufacture of destructive appetites, that kitsch and cliché have silted up the channels of communication as they were never silted up before. But those on the left who have noticed those facts – Adorno pre-eminently – have offered no solution save Utopia, for the very reason that the solution, if it exists, is not political. Of course, we can censor advertising and the media; we can regulate the distribution of commodities; we can, up to a point, direct public subsidies to the kind of art and music that refuses to be kitsch. But this won’t involve rejecting the ‘capitalist’ system, nor will it be effective if people have no spiritual resources that will help them to stand against their fallen nature. Without those resources all the complaints from the left are so many futile lamentations, exhortations to a revolution against original sin.

We have to recover and rebuild the spiritual resources that enable us to stand against our fallen nature, and against the culture of death all around us. We also need to fight politically to give our mediating institutions, within which we learn how to be citizens, the opportunity to exist. The dominant culture of all American institutions — media, art, entertainment, academia, law, military, even many churches — have all been captured by the enemies of the permanent things. It is vitally important to know this, and to act on that knowledge. The culture war is over, and we have lost; what remains to us, for now, is building the guerrilla resistance.

What is at stake is the family. What is at stake is man. As Pope Benedict XVI said:

The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.

You cannot count on the Church being on your side, by the way.  We are in very, very dark times. As I wrote three years ago, we are one major economic crisis away from something extremely ugly taking over. We never, ever learn from history.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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