The Valley of the Squinting Windows is still with us, but now it operates on social media
The new breed of moralisers have Facebook pages rather than the traditional blackthorn stick
Responsibility for ‘sins’
Essentially, Clifford is telling the young woman to take full responsibility, though on a tactical basis, for her “sins”. He anticipates a fresh onslaught of judgmentalism if she seeks mitigation by reference to the actions of the other parties. He is playing not so much for an explosion of truth as the manipulation of public sympathy. His advice, in effect, is: confess and beg for forgiveness.
But, given that our values are supposed to have changed in the new dispensation of openness and freedom, what exactly does the young woman need to apologise for? By the standards of our new permissive culture, she has committed no offence. Indeed, she has taken the reigning culture at its word and given full vent to her desires. In some respects, taken by the measure of this culture, she might be regarded as an object of envy, having engaged in an experience that others merely get to fantasise about.
In the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation, pardon and peace are granted unconditionally to the sinner by God, provided the sinner exhibits sorrow of the soul, detestation for the sin and a resolve not to sin again. In the new “liberal” dispensation, pardon is available on condition that the sinner publicly attest to the extent to which she is hurting by virtue of engaging in actions which, although valorised by the reigning culture, continue to be disapproved of by the community (perhaps because they involve experiences that are beyond the reach of most of its members).
In Catholic culture, repentance is predominantly an interior process. In the new liberal dispensation, it’s an exterior procedure, conducted for the pacification of the community, which requires to be appeased by anyone who appears to have scaled the culturally-supposed heights of human longing. The act of “reconciliation” here is not with God, but with the eavesdropping community, which has been in equal measure titillated and threatened by reports that one of its members has achieved something it defines as close to the optimum experience of freedom.