Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, April 12

Gapers Block

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There is a moral laziness in this country that, if it is not remedied soon, will lead us to a decline worthy of a Gibson study.

We have fallen to a moral welfare state, one that does not test the mettle or reward the hardiness of the individual, but rather doles out protections that encourage a slothfulness in virtue that will never allow them to help themselves.

Nothing can ever be learned or gained through this sort of moral welfare: increasingly, parents and children are being protected from the harsh realities and uncertainties of life by an intrusive and babying federal government dominated by social conservatives. What kind of virtue is it, exactly, if the entire world has been scrubbed clean, sanitized by the cynical Republicans in Washington?

Remember the Scripture:

"The LORD is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell."

And remember also the trials of Job, favored of God, who did not understand the meanings of virtue and faith, as he had never had to face a test:

"Does Job fear God for nothing? [Has the LORD] not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has?"

What value is virtue if it never weathers the storm of vice? Have we allowed our personal ethics to grow so weak that we will wilt at the very sight of suggested sexuality or at the utterance of a curse word? As long as we allow federal bureaucrats to do our society's parenting for us, we will always be a decrepit moral welfare state, so far from the individualist survivalist republic our forefathers envisioned as to be indistinguishable, and a shame to our forebears.

An inclination towards virtue is hardly commendable: duty towards virtue, no matter what the conditions, is what a society should strive for.

Why should those of us with a strong ethical fortitude be forced to put up with an intrusive, pampering government bureaucracy?

There is something particularly un-American about going squealing to the federal government, thumb in mouth, mewling for protection from the temptations of man. Have we really become that weak? Let's not become deluded, believing that there was some halcyon period of American purity when innocent dolls with thick blond curls could skip down the street, all lollipops and kittens.

America was founded by rugged people, settled by thrill-seeking lunatics who pushed westward in pursuit of fortune. And everywhere they went, they brought with them senseless violence, prostitution, alcohol and foul language — and, often, opiates, too. Chicago's early economy was fueled by the faro tables and whorehouses of the underworld, the epicenter for the white slavery of women, there to serve both the westward-bound travelers from the East Coast and the hypocrite fundamentalists of the North Side. The earliest public disturbances in the city were riots over the availability of beer on Sundays.

And the pristine Victorian "novels of manners" we so attentively study now were then passed over for shrieking scandal sheets and lewd pamphlets. And in a time with minimal legal oversight and law enforcement that could be bought off for a measure of booze, temptation flourished. It is a perseverance in the face of temptation that defines the American character, not skipping down the street fancy free, ensconced in the protective arms of the federal government, all the bad guys held at bay.

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About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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