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David Aaronovitch and the social conservative consensus

6 January 2011

6:34 PM

6 January 2011

6:34 PM

David Aaronovitch is one of the preeminent voices of the liberal-left in this country.
He is no social conservative and has been dismissive of those who want a lower time-limit for
abortion. But today he wrote something that reminded me of that famous Peggy Noonan column about the Columbine massacre and ‘the ocean in which our children swim.’

Aaronovitch writing about the Times’ investigation into sex gangs says:

‘Sometimes I look at what the surrounding culture says to our kids and wonder whether we are mad. On the one hand we can be persuaded only with difficulty to give them decent sex education,
so terrified are we by their latent sexuality; on the other, we chuck adult sex and big-money values at them from the moment they turn on the TV or PC. Google “teen girl” and see what
the algorithm of desire offers you. For many, Facebook is a daily trip into the land of WAGs, camera sex and who has given whom a blowjob, on to which they graft their own poignant hopes for love
and romance.

For some girls we seem to offer two choices: boring, dowdy frump, or raunchy Lolita.’

Now, I’m not trying to claim Aaronovitch as a social conservative. But the fact he can see so clearly that there is a problem suggests a growing social conservative consensus. There has been
a move away from the old social liberal and libertarian pieties to a recognition that the cultural and moral environment matters.

The cultural and moral environment is not something that government can, or should be able to, dictate. It is the product of a whole variety of social forces coming together. But in opposition,
David Cameron talked frequently, and to good effect, about this problem. It would be
refreshing to see him use the prime ministerial bully pulpit to call out those companies who are polluting the moral waters of our society.

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