Sexual Mores in America
Karen Abbott is a journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Sin in the Second City, an exploration of the role of brothels in the cultural and political life of turn-of-the-century Chicago. Prior to publishing Sin in the Second City – which took her three years to write and research – Abbott worked for Philadelphia magazine and for Philadelphia Weekly. Abbott, a native of Philadelphia, received her BA from Villanova University in 1995. The critically acclaimed Sin in the Second City tells the story of Chicago’s Everleigh Club, a famous high-end whorehouse that was known as the “finest brothel in the land.” Abbott lives with her husband in Atlanta and is working on her second book, a portrait of Gypsy Rose Lee and Depression-era New York.
Karen Abbott: That’s an interesting question. Definitely. Sometimes I would come across quotes, and it would . . . it’s like something you could have read in the New York Times yesterday. There was a quote from one of Clifford Rowe’s supporters talking about how we can’t . . . “We can’t bend to pressure from the infidels and Jews from Europe. This is a Christian nation. Our courts have decreed it so. We should make sure that our schools are Christian schools.” And it was sort of right when that whole debate was going on about . . . about the Constitution and, you know, prayer in schools and that sort of thing. And it was like, you know, something from Focus on the Family ended up 100 years earlier in these archives I was looking at I do think it will always be the case . . . Part of my . . . One of the main themes in the book I think is the cyclical nature of religious fundamentalism that’s a constant stream for this country. And it’s just sort of as much of our fabric as you know . . . you know the idea that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I mean I just think that that’s something that’s always going to be running through our blood, is this sort of . . . this struggle between these puritanical roots. And I think it’s going to keep reasserting itself, and you know I think we’ve seen that in the last few years too. I mean the fact that a candidate’s religion is constantly on the top of the list of whether or not they’re electable; you know the fact that an atheist will never be elected in this country – not in our lifetime anyway, I don’t think. So I do . . . For the foreseeable future I think it’s something that’s gonna be a recurring theme in our country. That’s a . . . That’s a fun question. I . . . You know I think it came from the Bible . . . you know “to lie with”. You know I think that that evolved into a euphemism to “get laid”. But the Everleigh sisters . . . So of course that’s been around for a very long time, but I think the Everleigh sisters very calculatedly picked their name . . . their surname knowing that it would sort of be adopted as a pun. And although it wasn’t the origin for the phrase, it could be a link to it. And it sort of furthered the use of that phrase. So they just sort of jumped on the bandwagon of it I think; but they weren’t . . . Their adopted surname wasn’t the actual impetus for that, so . . .
Recorded On: 1/22/08
Will the country ever shed its Puritan origins?
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
A little goes a long way.
- A recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 80 percent of Americans don't exercise enough.
- Small breaks from work add up, causing experts to recommend short doses of movement rather than waiting to do longer workouts.
- Rethinking what exercise is can help you frame how you move throughout your day.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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