Do decency and discretion have meaning?
As my young grandson and I shared a snack recently in a small city park, a young man sat down nearby whose T-shirt proclaimed loudly, "F--- milk, got pot?"
I believe in an open society based, in part, on the ideal of free speech, where all citizens are free to express their views openly. But the concept of an open society presupposes well-educated, thoughtful citizens.
Then how do we operate in a society like ours in which education and thought become rarer every day and where, quite literally, anything goes?
The open society presupposes that words such as “decency,” “morality,” “appropriateness,” “responsibility,” “sensible,” “manners,” and so on have generally accepted meanings.
Then what do we do when such words have become outmoded, old-fashioned, the objects of snickers and sneers? Do decency and discretion have meaning when everyone’s only consideration is, “I gotta be me. I gotta express myself!”
The traditionally religious among us would respond that they can restore order to the society by making it a theocracy, thus replacing one kind of horror with another. Some of us would also observe that anything goes, dominated by mindless violence and unbridled sexuality, is primarily promoted by commercial interests.
The stupid and irresponsible spend a lot of money on stupid, irresponsible T-shirts.
Is American society destined to die on the garbage heap of inanity, selfishness and thoughtlessness?
BURTON S. GUTTMAN, Olympia