Confession of Confusion
I was told as a child that confession is good for the soul. In order to make myself more humble before my mother’s god and more suitable as a vehicle of its will, I needed to periodically sit inside of a darkened booth and confess my sinful deeds to a priest, who would then provide me with a suitable penance. Since I was far too young to have any real opportunities to sin and my penance was invariably to say a few more prayers than usual, this process didn’t make complete sense to me. Other than possessing more than a little stubbornness and an especially keen sense of curiosity, I was a pretty good kid. I took care of my belongings and those of others. I cleaned up after myself. I was polite. I was patriotic. I was respectful. I didn’t lie and I didn’t steal. In fact, I largely obeyed my parents in all things — even when they didn’t make complete sense to me.
In time I learned that all sins were not created equal. As I leafed through the movie reviews in my mother’s copy of The Catholic Sentinel I noticed that it strongly discouraged people from seeing movies where people killed each other – but outright condemned the viewing of movies with any kind of sexual content. This did not make complete sense to me. Surely murder was always worse than lovemaking. Not so, I was assured, for although murder is certainly wrong — unauthorized pleasure is even more wrong. This made absolutely no sense to me.
I’m seeing the same kind of logic demonstrated today. The scar down the center of the United States glowed red and blue on November 2nd when nearly half of the country decided that “moral issues” such as gay marriage and sex education were more important than presumably amoral issues such as the economy, health care, the war in Iraq, civil liberties, and telling the truth. I don’t understand this. Why is there so much fear in the thought that a child might get an unexpected look at Janet Jackson’s splendid breast but not in the fact that we’re leaving future generations with the largest deficit in the history of our country? Why are television stations afraid that the FCC will punish them for airing Saving Private Ryan — not because of its chilling recreation of the butchery inherent in WWII but because some mothers’ sons uttered the word “fuck” as they faced the mud and death? Why is it more important to make sure Rob Black and Extreme Associates stop shooting porn than it is to remember that it was bin Laden who turned airplanes into projectile weapons? Why is it so much more vital to refuse to provide sexual information to schoolchildren than it is to teach them how to think analytically?
I was raised to believe that confession is good for the soul and although I have emerged from the darkened booth and excused myself from the priest’s presence, I still feel compelled to confess. I confess that I do not understand why sex and pleasure must be our enemies. I confess that I do not understand why I feel guilty about enjoying the process of having Ksiniy, the Russian seamstress for Spartacus Leather (http://www.spartacusleathers.com), make my titleholder’s vest — but feel no guilt about watching 40 porn tapes a month as part of my work load. I confess that I do not understand why people who claim to consider sex sacred are so fascinated by the private lives of others. Most of all, I confess that I do not understand why we seem so committed to exalting conflict and misery while dismissing love and desire.
– Originally published in Playtime Magazine –