Contraception flap ‘defines deviancy down’

March 10, 2012   ·   By   ·   2 Comments

A graphic to illustrate promiscuity (Credit: Critica Roja)

In 1993, then Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan published a paper in which he coined the phrase “defining deviancy down.”

He was ringing an alarm about what he saw as a dangerous social unraveling as a result of our redefining deviant behavior as normal, rather than doubling down on traditional standards of behavior.

It’s through this lens that we should view the Obama administration mandate that employers provide free contraception and sterilization and its refusal to grant an exemption to morally opposed religious institutions.

Our audacious president, as part of his ongoing enterprise to transform America, has gone beyond defining deviancy down. Abortion, sterilization and sexual promiscuity have not just been redefined as normal. They are considered “reproductive rights” for which we all should foot the bill.

Consider Rush Limbaugh’s much ballyhooed verbal assault on a Georgetown law student for testifying before Congress in favor of forcing her Jesuit university to provide free contraception to students.

In a 1969 Gallup poll, 68 percent of respondents said premarital sex was wrong and 21 percent said it was not. Few young women then would have felt comfortable to publicly declare they slept around and it’s doubtful that any politician or media personality would have condoned the behavior.

By 2009, in response to the same question, 32 percent said premarital sex was wrong and 60 percent said it was not.

Are we a fairer and more progressive nation today, or have we defined deviancy down?

If you think we’re a better nation today because sexual promiscuity is viewed as normal and acceptable, you must also be comfortable with the social developments that go along with this — most notably, the transformation and breakdown of the traditional American family.

In 1960, 72 percent of American adults were married. Today, 51 percent are.

The most dramatic transformation has taken place in communities most likely to support Democrats and President Barack Obama: blacks and Hispanics.

In 1960, 14 percent of white adults had never been married — not much different from the 17 percent of never-married blacks and Hispanics.

By 2008, the percentage of never-married white adults had increased to 23 percent. But the proportion grew to 44 percent among blacks and 34 percent among Hispanics.

If you see family breakdown as a negative development, it is clear that defining deviancy down has had the most deleterious effects on those communities in which traditional institutions were weakest to begin with.

As part of the process of defining deviancy down, the words don’t change — only their meaning does.

So the website of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, the organization of Sandra Fluke, the young woman Limbaugh attacked, says “all people are entitled to equal protection of the law, the free exercise of rights, and the enjoyment of economic, political and social well being.”

These noble words, which sound as if they could have been written by Thomas Jefferson, are perversely interpreted to mean religious freedom may be denied to a Catholic university, while forcing it to pay for contraception and sterilization for students.

Our nation is drowning in debt, with unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare programs estimated in the range of $70 trillion.

Yet Fluke’s idea of injustice is a student relating “how embarrassed and powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter, learning for the first time that contraception wasn’t covered….”

This warranted a personal call from the president of the United States to assuage her hurt feelings from Limbaugh’s tough language.

Today, deviancy has been defined so far down it has been turned on its head. The Obama administration’s idea of deviant is any presumption to religious liberty and any sense that individuals should be personally responsible for the costs and consequences of their behavior.


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Star Parker is president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education and author of the new book White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay. Prior to her involvement in social activism, Star Parker was a single welfare mother in Los Angeles, California. After receiving Christ, Star returned to college, received a BS degree in marketing and launched an urban Christian magazine.
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  • retiredday

    Star, thank you for your insightful article.  Back in 1969, the year you cite for the Gallup Poll, I was a young man in my twenties.  Even most non-religious people my age knew that premarital sex was wrong.  But drugs and “The Pill” were changing that.  Your statistics are significant because “The Pill” had only been available for a few years but had already radically changed sexual mores.

    The process of “defining deviancy down” has gone so far beyond our wildest “dreams” (nightmares?) of the sixties.  In places like San Francisco, sex change operations are seen as appropriate medical services for municipal employees.  And as the nuclear family has disintegrated over time, the Left simply redefines the meaning of “family”.  Now they are redefining marriage.  

    Bottom line, regardless of what a person’s morals are, regardless of one’s sexual proclivities, when a government finances the lifestyles of every defined-down deviant, the vast majority that remains has been made their vassals.  The majority becomes the slaves to the minority.  That is the antithesis of freedom. 

    ObamaCare, or any other health care system that promises full coverage for everyone — even for those we once called deviants — is nothing more that a lie from the pit of hell.  And that is why so many don’t get it.  They are deceived by a spirit of deception, sent by the enemy.  Some people may think that’s crazy talk, but it’s the only way I can explain the total depravity and perversion that passes for rational thought these days. 

    The depraved are deluded by a spirit of deception.  They need our prayers and they need to hear the truth spoken to them. 

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