In 1992, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) penned an article in The American Spectator titled “Defining Deviancy Down: How We’ve Become Accustomed to Alarming Levels of Crime and Destructive Behavior”. In it, Moynihan addressed the permissive decline of society in the 1990s. If he was alive today, he would wonder if the country had fallen into a crevasse with no possibility of escape.
Moynihan was a bipartisan moderate, serving in the Administrations of Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford. But throughout his career in the Senate, he was known for his independent streak. He was an open critic of President Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy, opposed both President Bill Clinton’s health care plan and welfare reform, and President George H.W. Bush’s Gulf War decision. He had his own mind.
This is why he spoke out and wrote about his alarm with the public’s tolerance of both bad behavior and crime that was on the rise in the waning years of the 20th century. In the process, he coined the term “defining deviancy down.” In the article, he noted this.
“In one of the founding texts of sociology, The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), Emile Durkheim set it down that “crime is normal.” “It is,” he wrote, “completely impossible for any society entirely free of it to exist.” By defining what is deviant, we are enabled to know what is not, and hence to live by shared standards.”
Specifically, “defining deviancy down” occurs when the standards of social order are routinely ignored or violated and put before society a choice: either enforce the standard or change it. And in that regard, things were clear to Moynihan. “We are getting used to a lot of behavior that is not good for us,” as William Raspberry of the Washington Post recalls Moynihan saying shortly after the Senators’ s article was published.
Fast forward to America today. We have become what Moynihan feared would be the case in our willingness to accept declining standards in society. Crime is through the roof. The institution of the family is being undermined by an unrelenting assault on traditional values. We have fully embraced hedonism. Racial strife is tearing our nation apart. Our border laws and others are unenforced. And our financial deficits have never been worse, a burden that will haunt our children and grandchildren for the next century. To say we have departed from the norm is to understate the degree to which we have veered off-course into a realm of disorder that threatens our national survival. We have become very “enabled to know what is not a good standard”, indeed deviant.
Worse yet, we are among people with little regard for our constitutional rights, chiefly free speech. When the speech commissars can decide what is acceptable and unacceptable to say, they assert control over our lives that threatens the very nature of freedom. Moreover, the people who want to control our speech also want to control our thinking. These people could not care less about the truth of a matter. They simply want to blot out anything that might criticize their views. Facts mean nothing. Their feelings are more important to them than hearing countervailing arguments that call into question the aberrant things they assert. And frankly, their new standards represent a significant deviation from the norm.
No longer are you to regard the gender of your birth as a scientific fact. Now if you “feel” or “identify” that you are other than you biologically are—a function of your chromosomes—you can simply be that other identity. Poof, you’re something else. With changing standards like that, if you “identify” as the owner of an automobile dealership and decide to steal one off the lot, you are not really a thief, but rather simply an owner taking one of your cars for a spin. If you “identify” as a doctor, you can treat people for ailments and avoid any need to go to medical school.
We are no longer satisfied with defining deviancy down, we are now crushing reality under our feet and grinding it in the dirt. What’s worse, if we are not obeisant to deviant standards with no roots in reality or morality, we are accused of being intolerant, insensitive, and unjust. Unfortunately, the people who reside in the never-never land of their deviant imaginations can be deadly.
One was in Nashville Tennessee this week, mercilessly slaying six people, three of whom were 9-year-old children. Why? Because, we are told, those murdered believed in a reality completely alien to their murderer. Now that killer’s reality is perdition. Let’s hope we can begin now to return our nation to one where virtue matters, as well as scientific facts. It is well past time to clearly define what is deviant.
PS: Just 32 years ago this month, the 1st Infantry Division, the famed Big Red One, liberated Kuwait from Iraqi forces. It’s a perfect time to read about that experience and you can in my book Desert Redleg: Artillery Warfare in the First Gulf War. Order one today at this link and I will personalize and autograph it for you. Then use these last chilly days to read about an American Army at its best!
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”
The deviancy is not only defined down it is made actionable through mistaken righteous ignorance and violence. The entire lgbtq believes entitled to play games with other people’s children – and that normalcy is evil incarnate. As Governor Sarah H. said this is the war of crazy versus normal, and there are lots of people who hate America and are thus pushing crazy. (And they post here)