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The Embarrassment of Morality

by Rebecca Bynum (May 2011)


There once was a time, not so very long ago, when Americans felt the need to express a moral viewpoint or to reach for the moral level in art, literature, popular entertainment and politics. Watching old movies or television shows from fifty years ago, one is immediately struck by the moral tone which then prevailed even when, or especially when, these stories depicted immoral acts. In the 1950’s parents felt perfectly safe leaving their children to watch the “Andy Griffith Show” or “Gunsmoke” or pretty much anything else on television. We didn’t need specialized children’s programming then. We were unified by our values. But perhaps by the time Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town, America was already passing out of what my 99 year-old friend calls “a simpler time.”
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