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Sin No More

Sin No More: From Abortion to Stem Cells, Understanding Crime, Law, and Morality in America

John Dombrink
Daniel Hillyard
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Sin No More
    Book Description:

    Sin No More offers a vivid examination of some of the most morally and politically disputed issues of our time: abortion, gay rights, assisted suicide, stem cell research, and legalized gambling. These are moral values issues, all of which are hotly, sometimes violently, contested in America. The authors cover these issues in depth, looking at the nature of efforts to initiate reforms, to define constituencies, to mobilize resources, to frame debates, and to shape public opinion - all in an effort to achieve social change, create, or re-write legislation. Of the issues under scrutiny only legalized gambling has managed to achieve widespread acceptance despite moral qualms from some.Sin No More seeks to show what these laws and attitudes tell us about Americans' approach to law and morality, and about our changing conceptions of sin, crime and illegality. Running through each chapter is a central tension: that American attitudes and laws toward these victimless crimes are going through a process of normalization. Despite conservative rhetoric the authors argue that the tide is turning on each of these issues, with all moving toward acceptance, or decriminalization, in society. Each issue is at a different point in terms of this acceptance, and each has traveled different roads to achieve their current status.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8514-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Changing Moralities: Shifts in American Attitudes and Law in the “Moral Values” Debate
    (pp. 1-30)

    American liberals could be forgiven for thinking that indeed things had turned screwy—or scary—in 2004. Everywhere one turned after the presidential elections of 2004, the Reverend Jerry Falwell was pronouncing the meaning of the election, and why George W. Bush was returned to office. Falwell, who many may have thought had flamed out with his intense and uncompromising conservative religious positions and ubiquitous media role since the Reagan years, was all over the airwaves. One night, he was explaining to Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s showHardballthe failings of an ad campaign by the United Church of Christ,...

  5. 2 Painless Prosperity: The Spread of Legal Gambling
    (pp. 31-52)

    When conservative commentator William Bennett was discovered to be a high-stakes, and often unsuccessful, gambler in 2003, critics and pundits enjoyed skewering Bennett, the former drug czar and education secretary who himself had rarely resisted the chance to act as a leading warrior in the culture wars of the 1990s.¹ Most of the commentary took dead aim at Bennett’s hypocrisy as the author ofThe Book of Virtues² and as a leading moralist. Critics had a field day with the person who had written a book entitledThe De-valuing of America³ and who had written elsewhere:

    Moral education must involve...

  6. 3 Abortion: Contestation and Ambivalence in the Long Era of Roe v. Wade
    (pp. 53-92)

    If the 2004 election were to provide any meaningful spoils for those “value voters” and other foot soldiers of the social and religious conservative movement who helped reelect George Bush, it should come in the form of the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court justices who would one day soon lead to the overturning ofRoe v. Wade.In this context, the announced resignation of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in July 2005 presented a unique opportunity, but also one deeply caught in the context of the ambivalence of American attitudes and government positions toward abortion.

    To most, Sandra Day O’Connor...

  7. 4 Gay Rights: Beyond Tolerance and Privacy to Equality
    (pp. 93-126)

    San Francisco has long been regarded as one of America’s most liberal cities, so it was little surprise that it was there that the gay marriage debate was turned up a notch in February 2004. Newly elected mayor Gavin Newsom, the favored successor of the popular mayor and former state assembly speaker Willie Brown, and most of the Democratic establishment, had narrowly survived a runoff election against a grass roots–inspired county supervisor and Green Party member. As in Berkeley, the smaller city across the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco politics had often been a case of liberals versus progressives,...

  8. 5 Assisted Suicide: The Road to New Rules of Dying
    (pp. 127-185)

    The images of Terri Schiavo, who for fifteen years had been in a persistent vegetative state, and the battle between her husband and her parents over whether to have her feeding tube and hydration terminated, transfixed America in the spring of 2005. As film clips were vigorously interpreted as showing her responding either voluntarily or involuntarily to external stimuli such as light and sound, Americans held what could be considered an extraordinary electronic town meeting for two remarkable weeks in 2005 on a subject—death—that until then had generally been discussed reluctantly and in private.

    Schiavo had collapsed in her home...

  9. 6 Stem Cells: Framing Battles and the Race for a Cure
    (pp. 186-224)

    In 2006, one American state battled to consider an emerging scientific policy direction over which many in the country were conflicted. The issue was the state funding of stem cell research, important because the Bush administration in 2001 had blocked the use of federal funds for research on the promising scientific development, on the grounds that destruction of embryos, a central concern of the pro-life movement, was necessary for stem cell research advances.

    In one television advertisement produced and run by the reformers, a 7-year-old boy appears with his mother. With seeming resignation, the boy reveals that he found out...

  10. 7 Conclusion: To Form a More Purple Union?
    (pp. 225-256)

    The resolution of American morality contests surrounding the issues of the preceding chapters, especially in the 2004–2006 period, has been the focus of this book. In this conclusion, we consider the meaning of these events in several ways. In each section, and overarching the discussion in each, we place our analysis of the morality contests in the context of other scholars who have examined other moral contests.

    In the first section, we return to the constructs presented in chapter 1 to consider the role of ambivalence, moderation, and “purpleness” in a time and place where analyses of the dichotomy...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 257-268)
  12. References
    (pp. 269-310)
  13. Index
    (pp. 311-330)
  14. About the Authors
    (pp. 331-331)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 332-332)