erated intellectual who despises traditional piety and who questionsrneven the power of the gods themselves. His rashness andrnmoral arrogance bring destruction to his family and a plague tornhis city. Infatuated by science (the dialectic and materialism ofrnfifth-century Sophists), he does not even know, as the prophetrnpoints out to him, who he is. Science has liberated him evenrnfrom the traditional Greek concern for ancestry and lineage.rnHe is a child of fortune, the man who can make his own destiny,rna man (until he is taught better) without shame.rnIn The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Dorothy SayersrnFleming’s Lord Peter Wimsey meets a physician who plans “tornmake everybody good by glands.” A Chestertonian priest isrnironically enthusiastic: “My dear man, if you can cure sin withrnan injection, I shall be only too pleased,” but he warns thernmedico to “be sure you don’t pump in something worse in thernprocess.” Wimsey should not have been surprised to discoverrnthat the physician had murdered an elderly patient in order tornget money for his clinic.rn”The study of nature makes a man at last as remorselessrnas nature.” The apothegm belongs to H.G. Wells’s DoctorrnMoreau, but it probably expresses Wells’ own opinion. Therngood doctor, you will remember, had found a means of acceleratingrnevolution and was turning monkeys, cats, and pigs intornhumanoid creatures. The process involved a good deal of painrnbeing inflicted upon the helpless creatures. In the film version,rna transparently homosexual Moreau, played by CharlesrnLaughton, enjoys the suffering he inflicts, but sadism, while itrnlies just over the horizon of scientific materialism, is not thernpoint, but moral obtuseness. In fulfilling his dream of progress,rnwhich is to make all the world’s creatures exactly like himself,rnthe scientist must deaden himself against his own conscience.rn”Don’t worry, I’m a scientist,” exclaims Peter Sellers as a psychiatristrnassaulting one of his female patients, “I understandrnthese things.” The film—a 1965 sex farce—was scripted byrnWoody Allen, an entertainer known for his kindness to children.rnEven when Mr. Allen’s seduction of his wife’s adoptedrndaughter became a scandal, his career went on without interruption.rnA sex scandal destroyed the career of Fatty Arbuckle—rna comic genius compared to Allen—and even in the 1950’srnpoor “Rock Hudson” was forced to marry a woman in order torndivert attention from the obsessive homosexual activities thatrnwould kill him several decades later, but by the mid-90’s virtuallyrnevery actress in Hollywood is either winning an award forrnplaying a tart or, more often, acting out the fantasy in real life.rnIn Hollywood, nobody is anyone unless she’s had at least onernbastard; to fail in this duty might be construed as judgmental.rnAt one level, there is no reason to care what these women do.rnEvery society has to tolerate a certain number of courtesans,rntrollopcs, and sluts, and it was a mistake—a very grave mistakern—to attempt to burn out the Old Adam from our fleshrnwith fire and sword. That was the dream of oversexed Puritans,rnwho preached the most severe chastity while tolerating therngross peasant familiarities of bundling which, even when theyrndid not lead to intercourse, were hardly incentives to chastity.rnOur current moral numbness is as much a product of the Puritanrnlegacy as the social idealism, bad cooking, and concupiscencernthat have characterized American life since the post-rnPuritan ascendancy of the 1860’s.rnFor the Puritan, a thing must be either bad, and thereforernprohibited, or good, and therefore encouraged by church andrnstate. So long as Puritans were in some sense Christian believers,rnthev were merely irritating killjoys who banned archery andrnbowling on the Sabbath and bullied the imperfect into submissionrnto their clerical masters. Once they turned Unitarian, thatrnis anti-Christian, they began to have doubts, not about theirrnduty to regulate private life, but only about the virtues to be encouraged,rnthe vices to be repressed. When they were hot, theyrncondemned fornication. Sabbath-breaking, and heresy. Theyrneven condemned the toleration of heresy. Now that their faithrnhas cooled and frozen solid, thev condemn anyone who isrnmorally judgmental or intolerant of diversity. Dante locatedrnlust in the pleasantest outlying neighborhood of Hell; when itrncame to sexual sins, however, the Puritans lived up to theirrnname. But if fornication was once a sin of devastating consequence,rnto be repressed by scadet letters and public obloquy, itrnis now (since it cannot be as bad as all that) a positive virtue, arnsign of liberation and personal expression. Sex is good for yournand ought to be promoted in schools through special courses,rnand the consequences ought to be subsidized by AFDC payments,rnthe rewards and incentives for the practice of the newrnmorality.rnAmerica is neither Eden nor a New Jerusalem. At best, wernwere Old Europe springing to life on new soil. In turning ourrnbacks both on the practical morality of Dante and on the moralrncynicism of European degenerates, we have turned the UnitedrnStates into an erotic Disneyworld, a glossy pornography shoprnwhere nothing is real, nothing is sacred. We do not have nudernbillboards—yet, but when we do, they will be justified eventuallyrnon moral and scientific grounds. Social scientists will receiverngrants to show how public nudity decreases rape and encouragesrna healthy respect for women, marriage, and family,rnand conservatives will write articles proving them wrong, withoutrnever challenging the undedying assumption. Meanwhile,rnthe rates of sexual violence, divorce, and abortion will rise fromrntheir currently very high plateau, but these regrettable statisticsrnwill be explained away as residues of patriarchal superstitions,rnbecause being shameless, we are also liars. • -trnAliensrnby William BaerrnIn, then out, of deep hypnotic regression,rnshe told her sympathetic Harvard researchrnprof about the ship’s white, sterile roomrnin which they’d probed her naked body asrnshe lay out flat and perfectly immobilernin order to assist the world—her IvyrnLeague psychiatrist explained—to reachrna higher level of consciousness.rnBut never did she reveal—she recollectedrnlater, driving past that selfish bastardrnBob’s new condo, with a condescendingrnsneer—that one of her abductors hadrnattempted to impregnate her, and just how goodrnit felt, both then and now, to be more specialrnthan anyone else on earth—^who’d had the world’srn(the galaxy’s) most extraordinary lover.rnOCTOBER 1996/11rnrnrn