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diagnostic error

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 19, 2009

Folks have been reacting to the Christopher West imbroglio partly because of the ludicrous identification of the early thought of Karol Wojtyla and Hugh Hefner--a comparison that West regrets. But leaving aside any comparison of the pope's and Hefner's early thought is West's extremely curious follow-up explanation of Hefner and American Puritanism:  

Both men began addressing the problem of Puritanism at the
same historical moment -- the early 1950s. As Catholics, we
actually agree with Hefner's diagnosis of the disease: a
Puritanical rejection of the body and sex is utterly contrary to
Catholic faith. But we radically disagree with his cure....

Evidently, West is unaware that Hefner’s problem was not with Puritanism. It was with simple modesty, because modest men do not purchase pornography.

If West were old enough—or studied enough—to have known men who were beginning their families in the US in 1940s and 50s, the "Puritanical rejection of the body and sex" would not have come to mind. Twentieth century American men and women have never been especially puritanical, but before the 1960s, they could be broadly described as being in possession of a bourgeois modesty that the porn industry and Hollywood labored tirelessly--and successfully--to subvert. 

If West wants to treat the disease, he should at least get the diagnosis right. His follow-up is not encouraging.

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