Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Pixilated Side-Boob....

...Morality Politics, and Ultrarunning

Well, the 23rd season of Survivor is history.  One might quibble with Sophie winning the $1M rather than Coach, but hey, it’s just an entertaining game (that many contestants and fans take far too seriously).

The bride and I quite enjoy the show and faithfully watch every episode.  Two of my noontime running buds also are fans, and we have many a spirited discussion while we run the perimeter of our military base.

Anyway…back to the title of this post.  Last week’s Survivor episode was interesting in that there were multiple camera shots in which one of Sophie's breasts was somewhat visible in profile through the armhole of her tank top.  The Survivor producers pixilated that part of the image, but it happened across multiple shots and so the pixilation became a technological distraction.

I get it—CBS needed those scenes of some key interplay in the game, and to make the shots usable for a prime time show they had to blur the image out.  No problem, they did the right thing for a family show.  But the pixilated side-boob got me thinking about morality politics, and that can be dangerous.

I thought again of just how the Republicans as a group to me seem abnormally fixated on morality issues, and not just of a sexual nature.  Witness the near fetish they have for trying to endow fertilized eggs with personhood as a way of torpedoing Roe v. Wade and abortion rights; fervent support for public displays of the Ten Commandments; pushing for (Christian) prayer in schools; promoting school vouchers as a way of keeping kids from being tainted by the public school environment; reflexive inclusion of the Pledge of Allegiance--to include of course, “Under God”--at as many public venues as possible.

All of this comes under the symbology of the pixilated side-boob.  It’s a proxy for the moral failings of the unwashed Democratic masses.  All the while the righteous right ignores the fact that the economy is in the toilet, poverty is at an all-time high, millions of people still are without jobs or health care, and saber-rattling in the direction of Iran is becoming a steady drumbeat.  But watch out for those pixilated side-boobs.

Never mind, too, that the Congress has utterly forgotten the absolute truism that “you can’t legislate morality.” Incoming freshmen and freshwomen should have that slogan tattooed on the back of their writing hand so they will see it hundreds of times every single day.  You. Can’t. Legislate. Morality. [see note 1 below]

So give it up, dear leaders. Forget about the various pixilated side-boob issues that fall under the umbrella of trying to prescribe morality. Just focus on people’s basic welfare and needs. Sorta like that new testament dude talked about.

Oh, and the link to Ultrarunning? I’ve been in many trail races, where both male and female competitors are out there for dozens of miles and hours. We eat, burp, pee, fart and poop and guess what? We’re all athletes using our working bodies and so it’s not a big deal. The pixilated side-boob would be such a non-issue on the trail.

[Note 1].  I was curious who first said this, that you can't legislate morality.  The quote used the word "precribe" instead of "legislate", and appears to be attributed to R.M. MacIver (1882–1970), Scottish sociologist, educator. The Modern State, ch. 5, Oxford University Press (1926).

What then is the relation of law to morality? Law cannot prescribe morality, it can prescribe only external actions and therefore it should prescribe only those actions whose mere fulfillment, from whatever motive, the state adjudges to be conducive to welfare. What actions are these? Obviously such actions as promote the physical and social conditions requisite for the expression and development of free—or moral—personality.... Law does not and cannot cover all the ground of morality. To turn all moral obligations into legal obligations would be to destroy morality.

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