Walker Percy Wednesday 116

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He lights up. “Tom, it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s so simple. All great scientific breakthroughs are simple. One change and presto, all the old hassles, twelve-year-olds getting knocked up, contraceptives in school, abortion, child abuse—all the old political and religious hassles are simply bypassed, left behind. Did you ever notice that the great controversies in history are never settled, that they are simply left behind? Somebody has a new idea and the old quarrels become irrelevant.”

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“A neonate is a human infant who according to the American Psychological Association does not attain its individuality until the acquisition of language and according to the Supreme Court does not acquire its legal rights until the age of eighteen months—an arbitrary age to be sure, but one which, as you well know, is a good ballpark figure.”

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“He’s got bigger fish to fry.”
“What are they?”
“A little item which he calls the sexual liberation of Western civilization. According to Van, the entire Western world has been hung up on sex since St. Paul.”
“I see.”
“We call him our Dr. Ruth, Dr. Ruth of the bayous.”

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“Try to imagine a Harvard and M.I.T. brain who is not an asshole and try to imagine a Texas Humana can-do surgeon who is not an airhead.”

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“Those guys are a bunch of ham-fisted social engineers, barnyard technicians, small-time Washington functionaries, long-distance reformers—you know who they remind me of? They remind me of the New England abolitionists, that bunch of guilt-ridden Puritan transcendentalist assholes who wanted to save their souls by freeing the slaves and castrating the planters. These guys—you know how they produce Olympic weight lifters in the U.S.S.R.? By steroids and testosterone—the same way they do football players and racehorses in Texas. These guys are running a barnyard. That’s no way to treat social ills or to treat people. Those damn cowboys are killing flies with sledgehammers. Do you know the latest they’re up to?”
“No.”
“Okay, so we’ve got a problem with teen pregnancy, children getting knocked up by the thousands right here. Plus a mean, demoralized, criminal black underclass. A real problem, right? But you don’t cure it by knocking back all women in the pilot area into a pre-primate estrus cycle, do you? You don’t treat depression by lobotomizing the patient anymore, do you? You don’t treat homosexuals by dumping stuff in their water supply and turning them into zombies, do you?”

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