Culture Briefs

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

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“Sex, it seems, is everywhere. It pops up in every nook and cranny of our day-to-day lives. We see sex on our television, in our magazines, and on our computers. It is used to sell everything from shampoo to jeans. While once viewed as a sacred mystery, today it has become just another consumer product that can be bought or sold. Sure, people have sold sex since the beginning of history (they don’t call prostitution the oldest profession for nothing). What’s different now is that the very idea of sex has been commercialized and in the process cheapened.

“People today approach sex just as they would approach buying a widget. The focus is on ‘your’ satisfaction and ‘your’ pleasure. A man thus fantasizes about his next ‘purchase.’ After that hook-up gives him the pleasure he was seeking, he shops around until he finds another person that can satisfy the urge. When he gets tired of that woman, or he sees a better and higher-end model, he trades-in that person and goes after the upgrade.”

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“In a carefully hedged statement, [Sen. Barack] Obama said he ‘respects the decision of the California Supreme Court.’ He respects a decision that disregarded the will of the people in California, as expressed by a 2000 referendum that defined marriage as between a man and a woman; he respects a decision that excoriated his own position of support for civil unions and (theoretical) opposition to same-sex marriage; he respects a decision that rejects the sort of political compromise he extols. It’s like a professed abolitionist in 1857 saying he ‘respects’ the Dred Scott ruling.

“Obama’s tone noticeably differed from John Kerry’s in 2004. Kerry criticized the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage and said he’d support a constitutional amendment banning it. In contrast, Obama patted the California court on the head and said nothing about a proposed referendum in the fall to amend the California Constitution to overrule the court. Obama makes Kerry look like a staunch cultural conservative.”

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“When Mai and I were back in Hong Kong, I mentioned to Tom that the whole time we’d been on the mainland I’d hardly heard the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 mentioned.

” ‘That’s no surprise,’ Tom said. ‘Tiananmen Square is where the abdication of the last emperor was proclaimed in 1912. It’s where the student demonstrations, which led to the formation of the Chinese Communist Party, were held in 1919. It’s where the Japanese occupation government announced its East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, where Mao declared victory over the Kuomintang in 1949, and where a million Red Guards swore loyalty to Mao during the Cultural Revolution.

“When the Chinese see a bunch of people gathering in Tiananmen Square, they don’t go all warm and fuzzy the way we do. The Chinese think, ‘Here we go again.’ ”

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