Recently, Robert Bork, a social conservative best known as Reagan’s failed Supreme Court nominee, published a damning critique of America’s march into moral inequity, titled “Slouching Towards Gomorrah.” Dan Savage, the brilliant advice columnist featured in The Onion, responds to Bork’s condemnation of American culture in “Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America.”
In his amusing and surprisingly informative rebuke against Bork and friends, Savage engages in each of the seven deadly sins actively and doggedly, ultimately asking the question: If we’re speeding along the highway to hell, why not enjoy the ride? And tonight, he’ll be taking fans in tow at 1273 Davidson Hall.
Savage begins this celebration of debauchery by turning to the man conservatives esteem most highly, Thomas Jefferson. The writers of the Declaration of Independence considered life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness every man’s right but never specified what particular brand of happiness each American is allowed to pursue. Thus, if Americans smoke a joint, gamble, commit adultery and/or wear pleather green thongs to a gay pride parade to make themselves happy, so be it. They should not be judged harshly by Bork, William Bennett or Jerry Falwell who just happen to choose jelly donuts as their sinful indulgence.
In “Skipping Towards Gomorrah,” Savage recounts his wickedly delightful adventures with a highly refined wit and sense of irony. Unlike many memoirs in which the author touts him- or herself as a unique, special and superior creature, this book cheerfully exposes the author’s vulnerabilities, showcases his ultra-personal life, and reveals his curiosity and appreciation for his fellow man (and woman).
“Skipping Towards Gomorrah” is not for the timid. The “lust” chapter details the swinging sex life of suburbanites, and after reading these cheerful moms and dads’ accounts of bimonthly orgies, I will never look at a housewife in a minivan the same way again. Savage’s journeys into the gambling world and the gun culture of Texas, presenting informative tips on how to play and win at blackjack and how to fire a gun properly. This advice alone merits the cost of the book.
Amidst the amusement, Savage writes a thoughtful criticism of modern political discourse. In advocating an essentially libertarian approach to social policy, he reveals the hypocrisy of both liberals and conservatives. His logic fails only occasionally, once in the “anger” chapter which his litany against Bork’s hypocritical stance for guns and against drugs becomes hypocritical, as well.
Vigorous nodding and uproarious laughing should be expected for this “part travelogue, part memoir, part Bork-and-Bennett bitch slap … a love letter to Thomas Jefferson, American freedom, and American sinners.” As such, “Skipping Towards Gomorrah” is an appealing read, unique for its combination of amusement and thoughtfulness. Given the nature of “Skipping Towards Gomorrah,” tonight promises to provide much enjoyment.