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This column is inspired by a commentary by Rush Limbaugh last week.
I’ve written columns like this frequently over the last 20 years, but Rush coined a phrase last week, probably without even realizing it, that says it all: “The descent into depravity.”
He didn’t actually string those words together, but he came close. So I’m going to do it for him today.
Now, Rush is hardly known as a moralist in the traditional sense of the word. He’s a gifted entertainer and a brilliant commentator. Whether he knows it or not, he is rapidly becoming the conscience of America, as Americans, more and more, lose theirs.
Rush was talking about a news item, as he usually does. The headline on the story was “Florida Man Accused of Killing Wife.”
If one of my editors had written that headline, he or she would be looking for a job, because it hardly captured the essence of the story. As usual, the real story was in the details.
Here’s Rush telling the story: “A South Florida man who authorities say fatally shot his wife … was charged with first-degree murder [last] night after turning himself in. Do you know how they caught him? He posted a photo of her dead, shot-up body on Facebook. I’m going through this today and I said, ‘OK, that’s trash, absolute trash. If I start talking about this, the Stick-to the-Issues Crowd is going to inundate me.’ But something stopped me halfway to the trash bin and I said, ‘No, this dovetails with precisely a point that I’ve been making for I don’t know how many years,’ and that is this social media – this desire for fame, this desire to get noticed, this desire that so many people have to get on TV or to be talked about – is causing some really dangerous things to happen.”
That’s how the guy got caught. He posted a picture of his murdered wife on Facebook!
But it gets worse.
“On his Facebook page, Medina claimed to be a supervisor at a property management company and to have appeared in the Miami-based crime drama ‘Burn Notice,’ though his name doesn’t appear in online credits for the show. But he’s out there bragging: ‘I was on TV! I was on “Burn Notice”! I killed my wife; I put it on Facebook! Hey, Facebook friends, I’ll he see you later! You’ll be seeing a lot of me!’ My brother, David, sent me a note. He says, ‘You’re right about one thing, wrong about the other. We’re experiencing no greater depravity today than ever. It’s the same, because human nature is human nature.’
“Then he said, ‘I think there is a striking difference now in America, in that our politically correctly liberal culture is condoning and glorifying all of this and calling it ‘tolerance,’ and you know, that is right. That sort of rings the bell for me. That’s what it is. It’s not that it’s happening; it’s always happened, this kind of depravity. ‘There’s nothing new since Genesis.’ You’ve heard the old thing. What is bothering me is that it doesn’t bother as many people.
“It’s [Daniel Patrick] Moynihan, the ‘defining deviancy down’ business, and we end up condoning this stuff – and if we don’t condone it, we glorify it, because the left wants to take every one of these acts of depravity and use it to advance their agenda or an element of their agenda, such as guns or what have you. ‘We have to understand the rage,’ it’s said. ‘We have to be tolerant of people who have come from unfortunate, low-class socioeconomic circumstances.’
“It’s called tolerance and acceptance and understanding, rather than some of this stuff being condemned and dealt with, and that’s what’s disturbing. Then you add to it that the secular left, the people that traffic and love immortality, love throwing standards out the window; they don’t want any standards. That’s exactly what it is. It is the lack of being shocked, lack of revulsion, and even the laughing at and acceptance of this stuff. ”
Rush used the word “depraved.” He also described the news item as an example of the way “the descent our culture is taking [us] toward the sewer.” All of this is very accurate.
But we should recognize it for what it is: “The descent into depravity.” Of course ugly, sinful, immoral and repugnant behavior has been going on since Genesis. But today, it’s normal. It’s not even news.
And that’s how a nation, a culture, a society descends into depravity.