Un-Asked Questions
© 6 Dec 2011 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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Killing the conversation by assuming an answer without discussion.


For the bulk of recorded history it was assumed that marriage preceded sexual intercourse. At some point in the 1960s this was called into question publicly; it went from assumed to discussed. And then at some point it became assumed again, but assumed in its opposite form. I cannot bring to mind any novels, movies, or other mass entertainment created in the past twenty years targeting teen or adult audiences that even raises as a possibility waiting until after marriage.

I am amazed at how effectively this question was un-asked. How do you go about removing a question from play? I don’t think it is from answering the question; I am awareMy unawareness does not imply nonexistence… of no evidential arguments that fornication is superior to chastity. I suspect that very lack of argument is part of the genius of the change; by assuming an answer the culture changes much more readily and uniformly than it would by debate and argument. But how do you go about creating such an unquestioned alteration?

One answer is through deliberate marketing, in particular propaganda as opposed to informational marketing. N. W. Ayer’s campaign for De Beers corporation See Edward Jay Epstein, The Rise and Fall of Diamonds: the Shattering of a Brilliant Illusian, Simon and Schuster (1982) is a classic example of constructing out of thin air a cultural assumption, namely that betrothal includes a diamond ring. Most other attempts to deliberately change assumptions have been less successful, but it is a common goal to attempt.

But if chastity was un-asked by intentional marketing, who funded that campaign? And if it was more grass-roots, how did so many people producers of entertainment all buy into the assumptions that they now disseminate?

And even more puzzling, what other questions might have been un-asked while still un-answered, but un-asked so effectively I didn’t even notice their demise?

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