The front page headlines about Donald Trump’s lewd conversations 10 years ago have been so salacious that you may have overlooked another milestone of lewdness.
Ashley Madison, the website which organises affairs for married people (85 percent of them men), is back! Last year prudish hackers dumped the personal information of its 37 million members onto the internet. It turned out that as much as 5 percent of the American population had an Ashley Madison account.
It seemed like a life-ending catastrophe, but the brand has bounced back. In fact, it has more users than ever and is adding about 20,000 a day.
Its bottom line was pummelled, but it still stands to bring in US$80 million in revenue this year. The new owners have repositioned the brand in the marketplace and plan to tailor the product to their subscribers’ tastes, including chat, fantasy, kink, and threesomes.
With this in mind, Mr Trump’s “locker-room” conversation with an old buddy sounds decidedly old-fashioned by comparison. He wasn’t paying a website to chat about smutty fantasies or organise threesomes.
American journalists and politicians are calling for the smelling salts to expel the stench of Mr Trump’s sexism from their nostrils. I agree that his language, tone and morals are deplorable.
But, let’s face it, they are the language, tone and morals of a very large segment of the American people. How else do you explain the success of the bondage romance 50 Shades of Grey? The book sold more than 45 million copies in the US and the movie grossed US$166 million.
I found Mr Trump’s conversation appalling. But neither surprising nor hypocritical. Crude sexism has always been a very public part of his character.
On the other hand, the holier-than-thou, O-my-goodness-gracious horror of the chattering classes is just plain creepy. There is a double standard here because there is no lack of crassness in the progressive media. The syndicated gay sex-advice columnist Dan Savage writes op-eds in the New York Times. Publications like the Huffington Post are overflowing with discussion of sex.
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that nothing in the lives of Trump’s Democrat critics would bring a blush to the maiden cheek. But they are indifferent to the effects of divorce, single motherhood, pornography, explicit sex education, kinky sex and more on other Americans.
Is Mrs Clinton planning to do anything about America’s increasingly sexualised culture? Yes, she is. She is going to give the morning after pill and abortion rights her unqualified support.
Hillary simply does not care that her policies are creating a moral ecology in which the vulgarity of men like Donald Trump (and Bill Clinton) flourishes like kudzu. The English writer Laura Perrins gave her a well-deserved tongue-lashing in her blog:
“But for the social liberals to be decrying this conversation, which took place in private, just takes the biscuit. The language used was debased for sure, but the culture ushered in by the social liberals created this language and this objectification of women in the first place.
“On the one hand they defend the ‘all of the sex all of the time’ moral-free-for-all. Don’t ever judge me when it comes to sex. But if someone is caught on tape using crude sexual language, it’s all, ‘please, not in front of the ladies’, my ears are burning.”
And what kind of politicians will Americans have in 20 years’ time, when the young men who are now students on America’s college campuses are serving in Congress and running for President? After decades of exposure to pornography and promiscuity, they are bound to make Donald Trump (and Bill Clinton) look positively angelic.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.