I'm a fan of Ed Brayton's Dispatches From the Culture Wars blog. He recently had a post about some "moral scolds" going into full pearl-clutching mode over a high school's gender bending day. For those of you who haven't experienced something like this, schools frequently sponsor silly activities. My sons' elementary school had "Pyjama Day" and "Crazy Hair Day." The purpose is to foster a sense of community (shared silliness) as well as relieving what otherwise might be 9 months of unaltered drudgery.
Ed asked the question: “Seriously, where do these people come from? What kind of world do they live in? Do they really think that this one innocuous (and entirely voluntary) event is going to turn their kids gay? Imagine how frightening the world must be to such people every day of their lives.”
My response was this:
These people are afraid because the world is uncertain and ambiguous and they crave certainty. They cling to ancient moral codes and gender roles because they see them as anchors in a sea of ambiguity. At the same time, they recognize that these anchors are vulnerable — that the sea is far more powerful. So, they lash out at any strain on the anchors.
Continuing the analogy, the rest of us don’t cling to anchors. We try to understand the tide and currents and weather and sail to new and exciting places. We don’t always make it to where we wanted to go, and parts of the journey may be very unpleasant, but that’s a part of sailing. Fighting the ocean is a waste of time — it’s a guarantee of failure and unhappiness.
I also feel that these people have become "outrage junkies." They live to be upset, it's what gives their lives some meaning. They get an adrenaline rush with each new insult to their moral sense. They can see themselves as heroic defenders of what is right. We all have internal dialogs and fantasies where we are the brave hero against enormous odds, but most of us understand the difference between fantasy and reality.