We're lately in the midst of a massive wave of social hysteria
focused on pornography, which spills over into art and other
cultural spheres. Through a strange-bedfellows alliance of the
religious right, the feminist right, and cultural conservatives,
pornography has become an all-purpose whipping person. From
the Spenglerian scoldings about cultural decline to holy-roller
excoriations about the pornographer-terrorist-homosexual lobby,
you'd think that pornography has single-handedly brought down
Western culture. At the same time, for certain feminists, por-
nography has become a convenient way to symbolize the omni-
presence of rape and violence to women.
The panicked tenor of this new moral bloc has filtered
down through the social structure, and the frenzy doesn't stop
with pornography proper. Museum curators are put on trial.
Parents are arrested for taking naked pictures of their kids. Sex
and AIDS education are under assault. The National Endow-
ment for the Arts is defunded by Congress after charges that it
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