Across the board frustration at Washington, DC, will characterize this November’s elections. The question on the minds of many is why, despite the promises to the contrary, nothing gets done and the situation gets worse and worse with every passing year. To answer this question, one first needs to examine Washington culture in detail. To begin, it is insular, frequently secretive, and suspicious of outsiders. Capitol Hill dictates a more or less common mindset among everyone who lives here. And, in all fairness, one really needs to get involved on the inside to totally understand its riddles. I firmly believe that reform is possible, but, on the difficult matter of a solution, the analogy I always use is that of the Gordian Knot of Greek mythology. This was an impossibly entwined knot that was eventually undone by a bold stroke of the sword, rather than through a probably hopeless desire to devote hour upon hour in the hopes of eventually untying it.
Sep 11 2010
Jan 26 2010
I recently came across, through a YouTube video, a rather unique French public service announcement. It encouraged heterosexual men to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS by using a condom before engaging in sexual contact. Predictable enough subject for a PSA, one might think, but the video’s concept was both amusing and novel. While the American mind would likely appreciate the humor, it would also deem it too graphic to be aired on network television and probably cable as well. American liberalism has, I realize, a long standing Francophone tradition, just as American conservative thought has an equally lengthy history of criticizing it, so my point is not to cater directly to either camp. Somewhere between the two is something close to the truth and as such I seek to find it.
To get to my point, in France, sex is everywhere, and yet attitudes towards sexuality in one’s personal life are often more traditional than in the United States. While on the continent, one often encounters nudity on billboards, street signs, and shop windows while out and about, but the attitude of most residents is that the body is a natural entity, as are public depictions of it without the benefit of clothes to disguise the objectionable parts. To us, of course, the only truly socially acceptable manner of presentation regarding the unveiled human body is in the art gallery and even then some people have been known to register their visible discomfort. Furthermore, we deem nudity or frank depictions of nudity in any form to often only be granted as a privilege based on reaching a certain age and with it some perceived degree of maturity, believing that children and minors ought not to be exposed to its supposedly corrupting influences until the age where they can make an informed decision whether or not to partake. Put that way, it sounds almost as though nudity is some health hazard, like smoking or consuming too much alcohol. Still, for all the energy we expend spinning out cautionary tales and guilt-laden commandments, one would think we ought to expect more for our efforts.