The self-censoring Hays Office in Hollywood cleaned up the risque I920s. In 1939, it had to approve Rhett Butler’s “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” in Gone with the Wind. By the 1960s, US self-censoring went the way of Britain’s. (Oh, for a few innocent damns, in place of what we have today.)
Paul Johnson (in his book, Intellectuals) pointed out that 1960s culture had three themes: 1) uninhibited sex; 2) violence; 3) drugs; and 4) victimhood. He illustrated “victimhood” by using James Baldwin as an example. Baldwin went to Harlem schools when blacks were urged to work hard and succeed. He became a success, but when victimhood became fashionable, he claimed that he was a deprived and mistreated “victim.”
Johnson stated that Baldwin “reinforced Sartre’s rhetoric that violence was the legitimate right of those who could be defined by race, class or predicament, to be victims of moral iniquity.” Or, perhaps, claim to be the victims of merely “perceived inequity.”
At a time when ideas are so at odds with sanity and reality, crisis is bound to ensue that will overturn the idiocy. In that distant century that mirrored ours, as it turned to 1500, such a crisis period of righting began (as in Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror). The righting began—not because the “powers-that-be” came to their senses, but in spite of them—because the Providence of History and the underlying law of balance and sanity prevail in the end. In the meantime, mankind, with its “after the fact” politics, can do a very effective job of tipping the scales to delay sanity, thereby causing more pain than is necessary.
When will we learn?