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Lord Rennard, Cardinal O’Brien and Inappropriate Behaviour

Roger ScrutonBy Roger Scruton, Conservative Home

Our society has not come to terms with the sexual revolution, and one proof of this is the extent to which people seem now free to accuse each other of sexual misdemeanours and ‘inappropriate’ advances, without knowing or caring whether these constitute a crime. This matter is of great concern to conservatives who, for all their reticence in the matter, are well aware that sexual life ought not to be a free for all, and that conventions, manners and a certain distance between the sexes are fundamental to both individual happiness and social peace. Like other modern people, however, they stumble through this dangerous territory without the light of religious principle to guide them, and leaning, when it is necessary to lean, on an entirely makeshift philosophy. Indeed, it seems to me that the absence of a robust view of sex is one reason for the ideological weakness of the Conservative Party. The hesitation over family values, the sudden and unexplained enthusiasm for gay marriage, the easy toleration of ‘non-discrimination’ laws that marginalise the old morality – all these are ways of papering over an enormous hole in the conservative vision, and one that simply did not exist when the founding fathers of conservatism wrote in the 18th century.

[...]  In most other areas of human life we are well aware of the distinction between crimes and misdemeanours. And, before the days of sexual liberation, we equipped our children with those habits of modesty, reticence and respect that prevented the worst abuses and gave them the means to protect themselves against them. Now, lacking any real understanding of what sex means, we have also lost all sense of proportion. Every offence is at once construed as a crime, with devastating consequences for those who are accused of it. And the worst of it is that conservatives, who should know better, are as confused as everybody else.

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