Who's the most guilty of corrupting today's youth?

If you will forgive the Socratic dialogue and the cheapshot classical allusion, I'll give a hint. The answer is not Socrates! (You will just have to read on.)

I live in a college town, and I have lived in one college town or another for most of my life. I don't know how related it is to seeing young people for so long, but I have two pet peeves, which are somewhat contradictory.

As I have tried to explain, a longtime problem I have had with young people is when I have sensed that their thoughts are not theirs, but are being parroted. A friend who refused to follow the thinking of others opined years ago (back in the unenlightened days before Godwin's Law) that many of the mindless subscribers to politically correct doctrine would have fit in just fine in the Hitler Youth. Anyway, it really makes me lose patience with people when I can tell they're reciting the thoughts of others and haven't really thought them through.

OTOH, the counter to this is that I also believe that people should be held accountable for their thoughts, and should be given credit for them. Others -- including the originators of whatever the idea is -- are not responsible. Even in the case of the most unoriginal idiot who parrots Karl Marx or Noam Chomsky, I would insist on blaming him and not the men whose thoughts he has adopted. To do otherwise negates free will, and creates what I see as a threat to freedom. 

A familiar pattern I have seen over the decades is that when young people's opinions diverge from those of their parents or an older generation, their elders tend to look for a scapegoat in the form of an evil leader; a pied piper who led them down a path of ruin. Timothy Leary (and the Beatles) made them take LSD. Herbert Marcuse and Alfred Kinsey are to blame for sexual hedonism, Playboy, pornography, and homosexuality. Interestingly, in many cases these sinister pied pipers are seen as still leading astray later generations who never even heard of them.

Sorry, but regardless of who might be blamed for coming up with an idea, I hold the people who think what they think responsible, and I must give them credit or blame as if they are their own thoughts. To do otherwise leads to a never-never land of no one being responsible for anything. It is tedious, but once again,

...it is our responsibility to think for ourselves. If we cannot do that, then we cease to have free will and we are in need of protection by authorities. At that point, we cease to be free citizens.

What reminded me of this was Conor Friedersdorf's "The Torture Apologists Who Corrupted America's Youth." He blames favorite villains of the left -- Bush, Cheney, Yoo, and Addington -- for the "normalizing" of torture in the minds of young people today, and his argument reads like a screed against culture rot or gay marriage from Concerned Women for America or WorldNetDaily:

Outrage at the immoral acts of these men, however personally decent or well-meaning they may be, is appropriate. They played a more pernicious part in corrupting America's youth than any gangster rapper or pornographer. But responsibility isn't theirs alone. The members of a single administration cannot transform public attitudes on a matter this important without a cadre of apologists and a larger population that is basically complicit in its silence. So when historians look back on this era, let them assign blame more widely. Every Member of Congress who did nothing to stop these techniques bears some culpability. So do the purveyors of popular culture - most notably the producers of the show 24, though many Hollywood movies are guilty here too - that romanticized torture in a way that misled Americans about its efficacy.

I see a clear pattern here. The same Hollywood that corrupted young people into accepting gay marriage with films like "Brokeback Mountain" has also corrupted them into accepting torture. (Hardly an original observation; years ago Robert Knight and his outfit blamed Howard Stern, women in the military, porn, and the homos for Abu Ghraib.)

Like his counterparts on the cultural right, Friedersdorf supplies charts to graphically demonstrate his point:

torture full.jpg


I don't feel like making pie graphs showing support for gay marriage by age group, but I think this will work just as well:


Clearly, the young people have been corrupted into accepting the monstrous twin evils of torture and gay marriage.

And guess what major villain supports both?

Barack Obama, you say? Perish the thought; he is only a minor villain who only went along with torture because the evil Republicans had already corrupted the culture:

And Barack Obama, who succeeded a torturing administration, is complicit in normalizing the practice insofar as he instructed his Department of Justice to forgo prosecuting the illegal acts of the previous administration, in violation of treaty obligations endorsed by Ronald Reagan and duly ratified by the United States Senate. Obama is also complicit in the cruel and inhumane punishment of Bradley Manning, an American citizen who hasn't even been convicted of a crime.

So, if we are to determine who is most responsible for corrupting the youth, we have to ask ourselves a simple question:

Which major Republican villain was for the twin evils of torture and gay marriage even before Barack Obama was for them?

Dick Cheney, that's who!

Connect the dots, people! For years one of the most powerful men in the country, he is clearly to blame for the evil thoughts that young people think today. What could be a more compelling example than the way he has cleverly brainwashed the youth into accepting the monstrous twin evils of torture and gay marriage?

I realize he's not as hip as Leary, not as intellectual as Chomsky, and not as twisted as Kinsey, but hey, I didn't have all day to write this blog post, and we have to blame someone for the corruption of youth, don't we?

As to the substantial minorities of young people who disapprove of torture and gay marriage, how are we to know whether they too, weren't "corrupted" by one influence or another depending on the POV of whoever is disagreeing with them? No doubt Friedersdorf would believe them to be morally pure on the torture issue, but "corrupted" on the gay marriage issue.

How much life easier would be if I could smugly conclude that those who disagree with me are victims of others!

posted by Eric on 04.16.11 at 01:56 PM


I think the theory of "who is responsible" offered here parallels Christian theology. We are responsible enough for punishment, but not responsible enough to evade punishment on our own virtue.

This is why we believe God sent the Savior.

Tim McNabb   ·  April 17, 2011 9:47 AM

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