Derbyshire thinks Playboy is conservative

John Derbyshire expends 1,600 words sharing with us his rambling thoughts about Playboy magazine. His main insight is that Playboy has not changed in any significant way since the Sixties, in its aesthetics, its ideas of sexuality, its centerfolds. It is, therefore, ďconservativeĒ:

I suppose there are social conservatives who find Playboy objectionable on moral grounds, but it all seems pretty harmless to me. I donít think Iíll be buying any more issues, but itís strangely comforting to know that it, and its progenitor, are still around, fixed points in a changing world. Nerís [Hugh Hefner] revolution was of the kind that, once accomplished, requires no further changesóinsists, in fact, that no further changes be made, for fear of losing the affections of what must be a fairly stable market segment. In that respect, Playboy is a conservative magazine. With that in mind, from an employee of one fifty-something conservative magazine to the founder of another, I offer belated birthday greetings to Ner. Party on, guy.

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Jacob M. writes:

Thanks for pointing out that ridiculous article by Derbyshire; I donít know how I missed it. Derbyshire used to be one of my favorite writers at NRówhen I first started reading the magazine, as a college student in the nineties, I had the impression of him being reliably socially conservative and quite traditionalistic. Somehow, over the past few years, he seems to have morphed into a de facto materialistic reductionist. He thinks that evolutionary biology explains the full range of human behaviors; that the field of neuroscience is soon going to disprove the existence of a soul and reveal the precise physical mechanism of all human thoughts, feelings, and desires; and that genetic engineering, spurred on by research mainly in countries like China which donít have the ethical quandaries over it that the West does, is soon going to make possible all kinds of previously unimagined wonders/horrors. While he claims not to like or desire these things, and in fact, as far as I know, still claims to believe in God and even call himself a Christian, his attitude seems to be that they are inevitable, so inevitable that it is foolish to the point of deserving mockery to resist them. This attitude also shines through in his pieces on intelligent design and evolution, which, although again he claims to be religious, reveal an unmistakable condescending, even sneering, scorn for traditional religious devotion that to me is indistinguishable from that expressed by the most ardent atheists.

So, as a result, I am no longer surprised when I read stuff like this from him. Instead, Iím surprised when he says one of the rare traditionally conservative things he still sometimes says. Incidentally, would you believe the CafePress NRO store is still selling shirts featuring his quotation ďPop Culture is FilthĒ? In light of his views on Playboy, I canít figure out what that would mean.

LA replies:

Someone sent me this article of Derbyshireís today as well, written in June 2001, about a certain sexual practice. He goes on and on about it, but doesnít seem to have anything to say. He seems to feel that simply unloading his mind of whatever chance thoughts happen to occupy it at the emoment is a valid way to write an article for publication.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 01, 2006 01:30 PM | Send

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