The fall of Governor Eliot Spitzer due to his patronage of a prostitution ring has produced much insensate libertarian boilerplate. The libertarians, taking inspiration from their drunken midnight viewings of Pretty Woman, bemoan a world where sex cannot be openly sold for money.
Ross Douthat essays an attack on those who would treat sex no differently than any other human act. Be forewarned, Douthat quotes some base fellow named Will Wilkinson who writes in crude praise of mutual self-abuse. These are often the same people who treat all sex acts as equal. This habit reflects the leveling tendencies of extreme egalitarianism and echoes the jaded indiscrimination of a long-time john.
Douthat brings up the case of incest, alluding to Leon Kass' "wisdom of repugnance," and asks how the levelers can condemn such an act based on their standards, or lack thereof, which treat sex as just another form of labor.
While such a reductio ad absurdum is well and good for brief debating points and blog entries, this habit of invoking the worst grotesqueries encourages social conservatives to be lazy.
The "wisdom of repugnance" is useless unless it can be clearly stated what positive good is being repugnantly perverted.
Such an enormous good is implicit in the standard conservative argument about the relevance of sex to reproduction. While this relevance is obvious to parents and the self-reflective, the porn-saturated singletons one finds on the internet have successfully blinded themselves to this point.
"Reproduction" in sex talk is a word that can cover over what is being reproduced, namely man. With the exception of Jesus and test-tube babies, all of us were conceived through a certain ordinary sex act.
Treating all forms of sex equally means treating the sex act by which we came into the world as no different than any other.
To deny the importance of that act is to deny the importance of its product: every dead, living, and unborn man and woman.
Perhaps there is enough humanism remaining to find this general denigration of mankind repugnant. Even the most self-regarding parricide must flinch at so blaspheming his own origins, and by implication himself.