Saturday, October 16, 2010
British or American Moral Depravity?
These were the signs that greeted me at the Hyde Park Corner tube stop after getting off my 3+8 hour flight home.
Guess I'm not the only one thinking about this issue. However, I think the "con" sign makes weak arguments. How about that in addition to involving young girls who are usually the object of abuse if not trafficking, that prostitution is morally wrong? Can that be said here without more philosophizing?
I have come to believe that sex is to Americans what violence is to Europeans. You certainly find both in either culture, but violence (in all its forms) is more tolerated in America whereas sex and sexiness is more tolerated in Europe. You can see it on billboards, in movie ratings, and even in political debate. While us American-bred Puritan-types find the blatant sexual references here (such as the "page 3 girls" - bare-breasted models found daily on page 3 of trashy but widely-circulated magazines) appalling, my British friends (those of the non-Mormon variety) often will simply shrug it off as indecent, but not approaching the status of utter moral depravity.
Yet the British and European response to our American appetite for violence is visceral, while the American response is grudging acceptance. While I admit that violence is not good, I will admittedly see an action flick with almost continuous violence (as long as I don't have to see blood and guts) without thinking much of it. This is quite shocking to my poor friends here. Perhaps I should be similarly concerned with my own moral depravity and desensitization...