Oddly enough, both parties, though seemingly at cross-purposes, operate from the same presumptions: an excess of zeal, utter humorlessness and an obsession with sex. Most adults know about the puritans' obsession with sex. We have been hearing about it for two generations, usually from the vaguely anti-American critic who thinks that most Americans are ashamed of sensuality and victims of their Pilgrim heritage. For about a generation, perhaps a bit longer -- I think it started in the late 1960s -- the sex proselytizers have been at work on college campuses, in what we call the arts, anywhere they see a chance to advance their mania.
What is their mania? Well, it starts with sex itself. The proselytizers see sex as the answer to all sorts of human interactions from warfare -- "Make Love," they sloganize, "Not War" -- to the arts and related matters: "Sex is a Beautiful Thing" is another of their slogans. Nowadays on university campuses the sex proselytizer is a particularly inescapable nuisance. They hold campus sex weeks. Harvard comes to mind. They bring in crackpot lecturers. They boom films and toys and obscure practices that the puritans of yore once had certified as illegal. At their blandest, they distribute such accouterments as condoms as a hygienic necessity to be available everywhere. At times, they are sources for increased pleasure. In their most absurd moments these lunkheads champion nudity even when they themselves look most unappetizing.
Now, as I say, in the battle between these sex proselytizers and the puritans, the puritans usually win. Certainly, they win on campus. The fate of the young man at Auburn is telling. He thought he was just having a mature experience with the young damsel who moved in with him. To be sure, many of the campus's sex proselytizers would have agreed with him, though they would have been sticklers for the proper use of the condom. Yet things went wrong. He suffered the fate that might have befallen a group of 1920s collegian libertines out on a panty raid. He was expelled from old Auburn. Today, as back in the American Dark Ages, the puritans won. What has changed?