Dennis Prager

Yet the difference (which is lost on some conservatives as well) is enormous, aside from what children will see. For those -- conservative or liberal -- who do not see the difference between public and private behavior, I cite the simple example of a man relieving himself. In private it is perfectly appropriate; in public it is highly inappropriate.

In all liberal societies, people are losing a sense of what is appropriate. For most liberals today, the issue of appropriate behavior pales in comparison to prescription drug prices and other economic concerns. That is why Janet Jackson's breast baring at the NFL Super Bowl and the ABC promo are no big deal to most liberals. Yet, to most social conservatives, they represent a society in decline. If you wanted a clear values difference, that is about as clear as it gets.

Third, regarding the fan-inspired riot in Detroit, it is widely believed that alcohol played a major role in the fans' behavior -- such as screaming obscenities at players and throwing objects at them. The availability of alcohol at sporting events despite the fact that fan behavior obviously deteriorates as games progress and self-control weakens is another example of big business putting profits above everything.

But there is a deeper lesson.

From the beginning of the crusade against tobacco I have argued that the war against tobacco was a sign of a morally confused, if not morally lost, generation. That this generation chose to make war on smoking (which is dangerous to one's health but leads to no evil) rather than on alcohol (which accompanies most child abuse, spousal beatings, acquaintance rape and other violent crimes) was almost all one needed to know about the elite's changed moral priorities since the last crusade against a vice (Prohibition).

When I was a kid, people got dressed up to go to ballgames, and the worst words fans screamed were "you're a bum" or "kill the ump." But, of course, many people smoked. Today there is no smoking even at outdoor stadiums, but many fans scream obscenities and routinely act like lowlifes. This is because we have substituted preoccupation with smoking for preoccupation with cursing. We have, in short, put concern with health over concern with character.

One can learn a lot about life from sports. Unfortunately, however, as far as professional basketball and football are concerned, the lessons to be learned are largely negative.

Maybe we should stay home for a while.

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”

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