the basis for what social scientists sometimes call “convergence”rnor “domain expansion.” The terms may sound technical,rnbut the concepts are straightforward enough. In essence,rnpressure groups take advantage of public acceptance of a knownrnand accepted problem by expanding the scope (“domain”) ofrnthe problem to include other behaviors that had not hithertornbeen viewed as dangerous or threatening, fiowevcr, placing thernlesser issues in this threatening context makes them appear sinisterrnand lethal, especially if extreme claims can be buttressedrnwith frightening statistics (and they invariably can). Thusrndrunk driving is a deadly menace, and so are behaviors associatedrnwith this, such as teenage drinking of any kind, or heavyrndrinking in bars, or perhaps even the sale and advertising ofrnhard liquor of any kind. The domain of the problem expands,rnand the groundwork is laid for legislatie change and for new socialrnattitudes. Our hypothetical man from the 1940’s would bernsure to believe that he had misread the increasingly commonrnbar notices insisting on a two-drink maximum. Shouldn’t thatrnread minimum, as in his own day? By no means. The signsrngenerally declare that, to prevent excessive drinking, no customerrnwill be served more than two drinks, and that patronsrnshould not embarrass servers by requesting more. If it is suggestedrnthat this might be an intrusion into the liberty and presumedrnpersonal responsibility of the individual, the answer isrnclear: liberty does not extend to causing harm by an act asrnheinous as drunk driving, and this is “reallv” part of the samernproblem.rnUnder whatever name we choose, the idea of domainrnexpansion goes far toward explaining the construction of contemporaryrnvices and problems, which are consistently portrayedrnin the context of some generally accepted danger or evil,rnsuch as rape, child abuse, or AIDS. It explains why a countryrnmusic label withdrew a song in which a woman declared,rn”Sometimes I say no when I mean yes.” (The logic runs as follows:rnRape is an unquestioned evil. The attitude expressed inrnthe song supports male assumptions that lead to rape. Ergo thernSardinesrnby John Nixon, Jr.rnA dozen silver corpses,rnEmbalmed with oil, reclinernInside the sardine tin.rnAt rest, symmetrical.rnShapely as when thev died.rnNeatly decapitated.rnThey lie in state. They allrnAppear to take group pride.rnClan satisfaction, inrnThe ultimate design.rnsong is part of the rape problem.) It explains why looking atrn”dirty pictures” is no longer wrong because it leads to the sinrnof Onan and the condemnation of God. (The pictures treatrnwomen as objects, supporting attitudes that lead to rape.rnErgo. . . .) Sexual propositioning or teasing is harassment,rnwhich is part of the rape problem. Reacting to a hostile Nationrnre’iew of her bizarre and badly argued book on pornographyrnand free speech, feminist ultra Catharine MacKinnon has nowrndeclared that the review itself is morally equivalent to a directrnsexual assault upon her person. The logic of such argumentsrnis often so contorted that a term like the “New Puritanism”rnappears woefully inadequate. If historical analogies are sought,rnwhy not the New Scholasticism, or Neo-Casuistry?rnThe banners and prohibitors have their own systematicrnpatterns of logic and rhetoric, but the true motivation ofrnthe movement remains uncertain. Why did matters begin tornchange so sharply in the early 1980’s? It might be suggestedrnthat there were objective changes that led to the social environincntrnbecoming more dangerous and requiring greater caution.rnAIDS was a newly recognized phenomenon at this time,rnand the social use of cocaine probably did reach unparalleledrnheights around 1980, with penetration into upper- and middleclassrnwhite circles. It was also about this time that scientific evidencernof the deleterious effects of passive smoke inhalationrnhad accumulated to the point where it had to be taken seriously.rnOn the other hand, it is difficult to avoid the impression thatrnthe media at least were already looking for such menaces to terrifyrnpeople into sobriety. In the two or three years before thernimmense publicity accorded to AIDS, exactly the same rhetoricrnhad been developed on the subject of herpes (“uncontrollable,”rn”incurable,” “imminent epidemic”), and the cocainernpanic had already been preceded by a scare campaign over therndeluge of nearly pure heroin that was allegedly about to sweeprnthe country in the 1980’s. Does anyone today remember eitherrnheroin or herpes? Both problems were briefly used as ideologicalrnterror weapons to encourage sobriety and sexual restraintrnbefore the appearance of the still more effective moral deterrentsrnof AIDS and cocaine. MADD, founded in 1980, achievedrnan instant respect that had not been accorded to the cranks ofrnthe Woman’s Christian Temperance Union since the collapsernof their favored panacea of Prohibition in 1933.rnRather than a considered or rational response to newly perceirncd problems, the recent wave of puritanism can more plausiblyrnbe seen as a revival of deeply entrenched attitudes withinrnAmerican culture, ideas that are ultimately religious in theirrnorigins but that survive vigorously after the decay of the overtrnreligious and moral contexts that would eadier have been usedrnto justify them. Without such explicitly religious warrantsrn(“The Bible says it’s wrong”), prohibitions have had to be justifiedrnin utilitarian terms that become ever more questionablernas definitions of “harm” are stretched to their limits and be-rnond. Attempts to formulate secular warrants for moral enforcementrnhave led advocates to profoundly antidemocraticrnand majoritarian conclusions, which neglect long-acceptedrnassumptions about the right of the individual to pursue his orrnher own moral course.rnObservers of contemporary social conditions will find muchrnthat is familiar in the circumstances that gave rise to JohnrnStuart Mill’s 1859 tract On Eiberty, which remains the classicrndefense of individual rights in the face of morality laws. Dur-rn22/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn