What happens when we run out of taboos?
The question arises thanks to a column in Salon.com from one Jenny Kutner, an assistant editor "focusing on sex, gender and feminism." This particular column focuses on an 18-year-old woman who is currently dating. That wouldn't be odd, except that she is dating her biological father. Apparently, this woman's father left her family when she was 4; when he came back into her life, she was 16. "It was so weird and confusing," she said. "I was seeing my dad for the first time in forever but it was also like, He's so good looking!"
Days later, they had sex. "We discussed whether it was wrong and then we kissed," the woman said. "And then we made out, and then we made love for the first time. That was when I lost my virginity."
Kutner, naturally, describes the activity as merely a manifestation of Genetic Sexual Attraction. She adds, "As sensational as the whole interview might seem (and, admittedly, as it is), it actually forces one to do some rigorous double-checking of one's own beliefs."
Why, exactly, would one double check one's own beliefs when faced with the reality of incest? Any normal society would immediately question the evil father, who abandoned his child, only to come back into her life and take advantage of her sexually. Any normal society would recognize the evil of a father having sex with his genetic offspring. Any normal society would place the onus on those arguing for incest to explain why society is bettered by normalization of incest, rather than placing the onus on the traditionally moral to explain why incest should remain taboo.
But we are not a normal society any longer. We are a society of love.
Love, we now believe, conquers all -- including basic standards of morality. As Attorney General Eric Holder said this week in explaining why the Supreme Court should strike down traditional marriage laws, "It is time for our nation to take another critical step forward to ensure the fundamental equality of all Americans -- no matter who they are, where they come from, or whom they love." Who are we to judge those who love one another? So long as they can always abort their damaged offspring; so long as the couple believes itself to be operating under standards of consent; so long as an incestuous relationship doesn't affect you directly, who are you to judge?
The normalization of incest does not spring from the normalization of homosexuality, of course. Both the normalization of incest and the normalization of homosexuality spring from the destruction of objective standards of morality in favor of validation of subjective feelings. Society is bettered by heterosexual marriage because man and woman can exclusively create and best raise children. The same is not true of any other form of relationship. But that doesn't matter, because radical relativism is our new standard.
And so we search for new taboos to break. Undoubtedly, the next standard will be normalization of younger and younger teens having sex with older partners. After that, we will see polygamy.
Eventually, the only true taboo left will be responsibility. But that's a taboo no one will be willing to violate, given the social stigma attached. Better to live free, basking in the glow of transgressive bravery. After all, if you're truly brave, you fight the system. And when there is no system, you fight the meaninglessness. And you lose.