I’ve just noticed something else about the Megan Lane article Peter Briffa posted about two posts down. It says
Conservatives with a small c, too, share this unease about the pleasures of the flesh. In a 1951 letter only now made public, Ronald Reagan revealed his angst about sex. “Even in marriage I had a little guilty feeling about sex, as if the whole thing was tinged with evil,” the man who would be US president wrote to a friend.
Now you’re all thinking that I haven’t noticed that Kerry Buttram has already dealt with all that in a post last Monday. Well you think wrong! So far as I can see the Megan Lane article Peter quoted and the article headed “Reagan had ‘evil sex’ angst” that Kerry quoted are entirely separate.
In other words two BBC journalists independently picked this one-line confession of unease with sex as the most significant excerpt from the letters of one of the most significant presidents in the last half century. Two BBC journalists have misleadingly focussed on that angle and either downplayed or, in Megan Lane’s case, completely failed to mention, that Reagan’s admission of past unease was but the preamble to saying “nothing between her and the man she loves can be wrong or obscene, that desire in itself is normal and right,” a sentiment very different from the repressed attitude that the BBC portrays Reagan as having.
The fact that two BBC writers independently homed in on this one line says it all. There’s no conspiracy. It’s just the BBC worldview. Ronald Reagan simply has to be uptight about sex because, he’s, like, Ronald Reagan. If in reality he wasn’t, so much the worse for reality.
And what’s with the “conservative unease about pleasures of the flesh” lark anyway? Some do, some don’t. Some socialists do, and some don’t – as Robin “penalty rate” Cook and Stephen “socks” Byers could tell you. (You think I’m being crude? Less crude than “To do it is one thing – perhaps whilst wearing a Chelsea strip, or with John Major in a bathtub”) In 1951, when Reagan’s twice-quoted letter was written, the Labour party, outside its metropolitan cadre, was still heavily influenced by Nonconformism. Almost certainly it was more strict in sexual matters than the contemporary Conservative party.
It’s a sign of the BBC’s lack of historical perspective that they thought the story about Reagan revealed in his letters was his sexual angst. Actually the surprise is that he expressed himself so freely. In 1951 most ordinary Britons or Americans (once again, I exclude the literary and metropolitan elites) of either left or right would, if anything, have been somewhat shocked at Reagan’s daring to put down such advanced views in a letter to a woman – and, moreover, one with whom he was not having a relationship. That sort of talk was for the locker room or the public bar.