revered and protected.rnToday shame—and chastity—has all but disappeared, evenrnamong religious zealots. At some Evangelical revival meetings,rnit is all too common to hear members of the congregation publiclyrnconfessing to extramarital affairs with other members’rnwives. Obsessed with the need to cleanse themselves, theyrnthink nothing of ruining the woman’s reputation by publicrnscandal. Some years ago I attended a splendid conference givenrnby Opus Dei to commemorate the anniversary of Humanaernvitae, Paul VI’s prophetic encyclical on human life. But evenrnhere, among these conservative Catholics and Protestants, wernhad to be exposed to Judith Reisman’s child pornography slidernshow. Several nuns, I was happy to see, walked out in horror, asrndid I who saw nothing I had not seen many times before. Atrnlunch, we listened to a man talk about natural family planning.rnWith his wife present, he discussed in concrete, albeit circumlocutoryrnterms, the intimate details of their payments of thernconjugal debt. I am sure thev were good Catholics, pious people,rnbut chaste? Hardly.rnSocial scientists will receiverngrants to show how publicrnnudity decreases rape and encouragesrna healthy respect for women,rnmarriage, and family, and conservativesrnwill write articles provingrnthem wrong, without ever challengingrnthe underiying assumption.rnIt is sometimes at “right to life” conferences that the worstrnoffenses against shame and modesty occur. Terrifying picturesrnof unborn babies are everywhere, and at some protests, the fanaticsrnflmg the corpses of aborted babies at their adversaries. Ifrnthey really want to be creative, why don’t they come up with arnbook, 500 Uses for a Dead Baby—something both sides couldrnenjoy?rnSeveral years ago I heard ex-abortionist Bernard Nathansonrncheerfully excoriating doctors for doing what he used to do torntens of thousands of unborn babies. Dressed in an expensivernsuit with designer shoes, Nathanson was passionate (eloquentrnhe was not) in expressing his moral outrage, but gave no sign ofrncontrition. He had made himself rich and successful killing babies,rnand now he was making himself famous by attacking abortionists.rnIt is a wise investor who knows how to make out goingrnin and getting out, and people like Nathanson are nothing ifrnnot wise investors in the volatile marketplace of popular morality.rnNow he says he is a Catholic convert, but blames his evilrnways on an abusive father. Before long the fault will lie withrnJudaism, the Y chromosome, or the Prince of Lies himself, anyonernand anything but Bernie Nathanson. “Ain’t that a shame,”rnwent the 50’s song, “you’re the one to blame.” I’ll believe himrnwhen he sells all that he has and gives it to a home for unwedrnmothers, and I’ll be willing to listen to him after he has dischargedrna vow of ten years’ silence.rnThere are murderers on death row with more of a consciencernthan Dr. Nathanson, with more of a conscience than the Christianrnright-to-lifers who flock to his lectures, squirming with horrifiedrndelight at the horrors he narrates. Here is a pornographyrnworse than anything Judith Reisman has ever pored over.rnAnd now, thanks again to the wonders of science and medicalrnresearch, we have an FDA-approved pill that will kill ourrnkids. From what I gather, the main concern is that women whorndispose of their unborn babies may have to see their victims, ifrnthey use the pill instead of the knife. What a shame! Thernwhole object of American culture is to produce moral numbness.rnAfter six episodes of Seinfeld, the viewer can be bothrnbrain-dead and shame-dead. (Speaking of which, a neoconservativernjunior recently attacked the immorality of Seinfeld whilernconceding that it was “brilliant.” There’s a wattage problem,rnhere, and it is not confined to Jerry Seinfeld.)rnIdo not wish to be naively apocalyptic. Nothing is more childishrnthan the pro-life civil disobedients who go about denouncingrnthe United States as a Nazi regime because ourrnjudges allow mothers to kill their babies. There have alwaysrnbeen mothers who killed their babies, born as well as unborn.rnWhat is almost unique about our own society is that so farrnfrom hiding their sin, so far from showing any signs of shame orrnembarrassment, our latter-day Medeas want not just publicrnmonies but public approbation. Instead of slinking into thernback alleys where they belong, they march in parades and testifyrnin Congress. They go on Oprah and Sally Jessy Raphael tornvent their outrage at anyone who refuses to celebrate their heroismrnand wisdom. Blinded by the lights and deafened by applause,rnthey close their minds to the still small voice of consciencernthat tells them to repent, and so long as they keep theirrnminds closed, they are damned, damned by their own deadnessrnto shame, damned in Christian terms but equally damned asrnnatural women who have repudiated the purpose of their existence.rnThe ancients exposed newborn babies, often with legitimatern(if never sufficient) reasons: the infant might not be viable or itsrnsevere deformity might make it seem portentous; impoverishedrnparents sometimes might have to make the agonizing choice ofrnwhether to rear another child, possibly at the expense of existingrnchildren. Besides, they were aware that a healthy child, ifrnexposed in one of the conventional places, stood a good chancernof being picked up and reared, either by a childless couple or,rnmore likely, by a slave dealer. These were pagans, following therndictates of nature without the light of revelation, but even theyrndid not celebrate either exposure or infanticide as a virtue.rnLaius and Jocasta exposed Oedipus, perhaps because of a deformedrnfoot or, in Sophocles’ play, because he was destined tornkill his father and marry his mother. The servant who was givenrnthe job, however, turned out to be too tenderhearted, and hernhanded the baby over to a shepherd.rnThere is no hint from Sophocles that the servant’s kindnessrn(as disastrous as it was in the result) was misplaced. The moralrnwrong in the play is on the shoulders of Oedipus himself, a liblO/rnCHRONICLESrnrnrn