Vice as Virtue
The Choice Between Virtue and Vice (Frans Francken)

Vice as Virtue

I used to quip that the best way to eliminate crime was to legalize it. Now vice has almost reached the status of a virtue. What had been considered shoplifting is treated as mere shopping, as long as it is under $900. Randomly beating people up on the street, in some circles, is just good old American exercise. And even pornography is a high form of entertainment. As they say in Las Vegas, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This almost sounds like the hotels, gambling casinos and risqué shows have all taken a vow of secrecy or what the Mafia calls omerta.

I have written before of my disdain for gambling, which dates back to my lost weekend of bubble gum card flipping. I lost over a 100 cards, some of which were singles. I still haven’t gotten over that. So I hardly ever wager on anything, except with my savvy wife, who knows a sucker when she sees one.

Professional sports used to be terrified of gambling, especially baseball and football. Gamblers and even the underworld was a constant threat to their integrity. If fans thought their sports were fixed, it could destroy their golden goose. By now everyone should have heard of the infamous Chicago Black Sox, who threw the World Series in 1919. This resulted in the lifetime banishment of eight of its players, including a dumb rube from South Carolina, Shoeless Joe Jackson, a shoe-in for the future Hall of Fame.

Years later professional baseball suspended many luminaries of the game, such as Pete Rose, who was hit with a similar ban as the dirty Sox players because he merely bet on games. After their playing days, stars like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were suspended from any public service for major league baseball for simply working for gambling casinos in Atlantic City. Their ban was later rescinded by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth in 1986. 

Football is not immune from the taint of the gambling vice. In 1963 football luminaries, Paul Horning and Alex Karras were suspended by commissioner Pete Rozelle for betting on games and associating with undesirables. Today football has done a complete reverse turn and even held its Super Bowl in Las Vegas, the home of legalized gambling of all kinds. Perhaps Vegas, which is often called Sin City, will change its name to Virtue City someday. 

Sports betting parlors will be legal in every state in America before the end of the decade. Who knows how many people are not betting food and rent money. We all know gambling addiction is almost as prevalent as alcohol and drug addictions. I have to laugh when after several high-powered online gambling ads, they run public service mentions with an 800-hotline number for gambling addiction. This is akin to pharmaceutical ads being followed with emergency numbers for overdoses. 

The legalization of marijuana, one of the biggest taboos in our culture, has caught American standards by surprise. Big Pot has hid behind a façade of marijuana for medicinal purposes to serve as the entry ticket to where pot is legal for any reason. It is now legal in several states with most to follow. Despite the Left’s arguments, pot is definitely an entry level drug for more powerful drugs like cocaine and the highly-addictive pain pills, OxyContin and Fentanyl. The latter may be responsible for approximately 100,000 overdose deaths each year, mostly of young adults. While our influencers still condemn people who smoke cigarettes, puff on a pipe or draw on a big, black cigar, smoking weed is healthy and just great for the body.

The biggest changes have come among the area of sexual behavior. Few parts of the human body are more prone to sin than one’s endocrine system which can cause a powerful sexual allurement. St. Thomas Aquinas once wrote that all sins should not be illegal. Many sexual sins, which used to be illegal, such as adultery, divorce and homosexuality have been off the books for many years. 

While I wholeheartedly agree with the brilliant moral theologian, today many of these behaviors are not considered sinful in most circles, including a number of Catholic ones. And more importantly, when vices, in effect, become accepted as secular virtues, they have profound and I think deleterious consequences on American culture. The first thing that pops into my mind is George Orwell’s Winston Smith and his Ministry of Truth where war is peace and freedom is slavery. One can easily add the idea that virtue is vice and its mirror image vice is virtue to his long list.

Something has seriously gone wrong with a society where prostitutes are now respected as sex workers. I remember when Johnny Carson once quipped that they were sidewalk stewardesses. When coupled with a high sexualized culture, the 1857 legalization of divorce and the institution of no-fault divorce years later, have provided society with an atmosphere where menage a trois, wife-swapping and serial monogamy where couples change partners like one would do during the Virginia reel, are more commonplace. Generation Z frowns upon marriage and substitutes serial hook-ups, which have become ubiquitous and the sexual choice du jour

Abortion has attained the reverence, not just of a virtue, but it has an aura usually reserved for holy sacraments, since both focus on a human sacrifice. In what may be described as a Satanic twist, one Victim died for our sins, while the other millions of victims have to die to erase the sins of its parents. 

I remember writing about Canadian author, Ginette Paris, who wrote a book many years ago, entitled The Sacrament of Abortion. Her title echoes the abortion advocate Gloria Steinem’s quip that if men could have children, abortion would be a sacrament. Paris’ other work included such titles as Pagan Meditations and Pagan Grace. Today, many women think abortion is not only a moral good, but a sacred act. Professor Vincent Ruggiero has called it a Democratic Sacrament.

Since the Gay Lobby pressured the American psychiatric Society to rewrite their categorization of same-sex behavior from a perversion, to a normal act between consenting adults in 1973, homosexuals have achieved a great deal of political clout. It became legal everywhere, thanks to a Supreme Court decision, Bowers v. Hardwick decided by a 5-4 vote that the states could not outlaw sodomy between two consenting adults. Since then, homosexual ascendancy and social acceptance has gone off the charts. Pederasty, or sex between men and under-age boys is still on the books, though the movement has been working to lower the age of consent to as low as 12 years-of-age. 

The Homosexual Lobby is very powerful because its members are often extremely wealthy, creative and well-educated. Consequently, they have bought themselves a great deal of popularity and have used their influence to establish themselves within the cultural hierarchy of the 21st century. Their alphabetical nomenclature has expanded to LGTBQ, for lesbian, gay, transgendered, bi-sexual and queer. Their rainbow flags are everywhere and their annual parades are near universal. Once the love that dare not speak its name, today it is the love that never stops shouting.

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to recognize same-sex marriage, which to me is a contradiction in terms. By 2015, all 50 states were on board. The first gay couple, ever legally married, was Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who were united in their home in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1971. 

Gay unions have had a negative effect on traditional marriage, which will never recover I fear. A marriage had always been defined as exclusively between a man and a woman. Men have been traditionally called husbands, while women were known as wives. Today, the gay culture sees these defined roles as fungible. One day one man may be the husband and the next day he could be the wife, rendering their roles, as well as the idea of marriage, absolutely meaningless.

The Transgendered are their latest category. Many gays have jokingly yelled at parents that we are coming for your children. To me this is a reminder of a headline from a gay newspaper, The Blade in San Francisco, I read about in a book, 25 years ago, If No Sex by Eight, Too Late. The Transgendered Movement proves that their chants were no joke. Children are literally being seduced to their twisted thinking in public schools as guidance counselors often encourage children to question their assigned gender.  

This has created a crisis on the elementary school level, where kids are being whisked away to medical personnel who will offer them gender-affirming hormonal treatments and even organ surgeries that will ruin their lives forever. And they often do this without the parents’ consent or even knowledge of what they are doing. This is tantamount to child abuse. 

All of this reflects how far Marxist praxis has infested American culture. Now I think most of us can understand why Karl Marx listed the public school, along with his economic tenets, the progressive income tax and the confiscatory estate tax in his historic work, The Communist Manifesto in 1848.

Sex education in the public schools has also introduced our children to the pleasures their bodies can give in a judgment-free environment, where hedonism is the guide to one’s sexual life, clouding their reason with the hormones of youth. The introduction of masturbation and free love at an early age will undermine their families and taint their lives forever.

Ideas, such as these, echo the thinking of Marxists, like Che Guevara, second only to Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution in 1959, when he said: children were malleable clay with the new man, without any of the previous defects, can be formed. Che also wrote in his essay, Man and Socialism in Cuba that their mission was to do away with everything that had come before. Their new society was in the process of formation and could not compete with the past. So it was better for the revolution to erase its history as Soviet Russia did in the 1930’s.

This sounds remarkably like Pope Francis’ attacks on Catholic traditionalists and their concern for the past. I think it does raise the question is our 87-year-old pontiff a Marxist. Pope Francis was raised in Argentina, an authoritarian country. In the 1970’s the Jesuit Order adopted the principles of the revolutionary praxis, known as Liberation Theology, which stresses the liberation of the oppressed. It engages in socio-economic analyses with social concern for oppressed peoples and addresses other forms of inequality, such as race or caste. Like many of his positions, the pope’s stance is fuzzy at best and confusing at worst. 

I remember having a short chat about the school’s adoption of a program of courses on it years ago with Father John Brooks, the long-time president of the College of the Holy Cross, my alma mater. This sounds very much like the Church’s teachings on social justice, which Professor Ruggiero dissected in his recent essay Catholicism’s Unfortunate Embrace of Social Justice.

Just a few words about the decline of the traditional vices as promulgated by the Catholic Church. I am talking about anger, pride, envy, gluttony, lust, sloth and greed, the so-called Seven Deadly Sins. Apparently, these sins have drunk the Kool Aid and have become transformed, so they are no longer sins but signs of victimhood. Progressive society has done more than encourage virtually all of them, thanks to the Marxist’s idea of political correctness. For example, it is harmful to single out an obese person’s weight, even though it could shorten his or her’s life. Anger, violence and even arson are often excused because of one’s social or economic situation. 

The Democratic Party has been promoting Class Envy since the early days of Franklin Roosevelt. Greed only comes up for reproach when talking about Wall Street and the rich who allegedly never pay their fair share in taxes. Not once have we ever heard about a greedy government who would tax our air if they could get away with it or about Labor Union presidents, who seem bent on destroying their employers as long as they get their raises. Government hand-outs and policies, instituted a long period of overall laziness and a workers’ shortage, which became a national situation during and after the Covid-19 shutdown in 2020.

Collectively, this has resulted in a society, dominated by what Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger calls an Over-the-Top Epidemic during the Biden administration. The only word he could find that adequately catches the frequency of adult-age Americans, acting like self-absorbed jerks, is crazy.

All this is ostensibly done in the name of Progress. Progressive ideas have proven to be a toxin that has infected virtually every aspect of our culture from the lack of free speech on college campuses, the chaos that is the American political system, its economy and even the altars of our churches. In very few public places can one find images of God, His teachings and anything that appeals to our spiritual sense as well as our intellects? If this is progress, I can honestly say that America and even our Church as we know it, will be irreparably changed. This certainly isn’t my mom and dad’s country or Church. Can that be a good thing?

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Written by
William Borst