Sunday, February 3, 2013

Manhattan for Beads, Mankind for Condoms

Tradition generally holds that in 1626, Peter Minuit, leader of the Dutch colony in the New World,  purchased the Island of Manhattan for about 24 dollars worth of trinkets.  Today, this is often presented as a classic example of American Indian ill-use at the hands of European colonists.  I do not dwell here on potential errors in this view (1), but am here content to let it stand as an example for purposes of illustration.  Similarly, moderns regret how European colonists would sometimes attempt to cause Indians to become drunk and dependant on alcohol in order to cheat them in trade.  In essence, colonists knew that by causing Indians to become dependent on alcohol, they would abandon their freedom.  Drunk men are easily cheated. 

Modern man is just as drunk as the Indians of Colonial America.  Where the Indians were drunk on alcohol, man today is drunk on something else.  The modern world is drunk on sex.  A man can scarce think otherwise when condoms are widely handed out on college campuses and in high schools, or given the popularity of Playboy (magazine and digital content) and cheap romances.  One might likewise point to the widespread use of sex in advertising, on TV, and in movies, to sell all manner of nonsense to a drunk public.  For a drunk man is a man with little sales resistance. 

Just like colonists wanted the American Indian drunk and dependant on alcohol, so too do modern “colonists” want man drunk on sex.  Advertisers want man drunk in order to sell him trash.  Sex sells cars, tools, soap, perfume, and alcohol (the better to get one doubly drunk).  The reason is simple enough.  As the American Indians gave something up for the alcohol on which they became dependant, so man gives something up by his drunkenness on sex.  He gives up some degree of his freedom and some degree of his humanity.

Advertisers are not the only ones who want man drunk on sex.  The federal government does as well.  The US government has commanded that all employers, even those with religious objections, must provide free contraceptive coverage to their employees.  Desperate for the free contraception, and drunk on the need to gratify his sex instinct, man, like American Indians dependant on alcohol, gives something up.  Among other things, he gives up his conscience.  By declaring that religious entities must provide contraception though it violates their religious beliefs and consciences, the government has claimed authority over man’s conscience.  It has claimed the power to tell man when he may follow his religious beliefs and when he may not.  In exchange, it offers free contraception, the ability to further gratify one’s sex instinct.  Alcohol for trinkets and land, contraception for one’s conscience, both for man’s freedom. 

Man often sells himself too cheaply; the flaw runs deep in human nature.  But when he sells his conscience away for free contraception, when he prizes the gratification of the instinct over his conscience, he gives up himself for too mean a price.  As Fulton Sheen said, "Our hopes and our liberties are sold too cheap when they are bartered away to him who feeds the body and leaves the soul naked." Judas sold God for 30 pieces of silver; when man gives himself to the government for free contraception, he is little better.  Judas thought he sold God, Who really gave himself for man.  When he sells his conscience for 30 shekals, though, man gives himself for nothing. 

(1). This would consist of about $1000 dollars today, that the event is only badly attested in one source, that the claim the Island was sold for beads and trinkets is not in that early source, and that the concept of sale for the Dutch was probably different from modern concepts of sale. 

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