Defining Deviance Down

The occurrence of Defining deviancy down as it manifests itself in a social order, happens when the social order standard is violated with such regularity that the inhabitants of the social order are forced to make a decision to either enforce the standard or to change the standard. As enforcing a standard that is routinely violated is almost impossible apart from draconian measures what typically happens is that the standard is changed. Once the standard is changed then a new definition of deviance is embraced, a standard that allows what was previously defined as deviance to be now normalized.

One reason that defining deviancy down works is because eventually there becomes a money interest that supports the new deviancy. The legalization of drugs finds a host of cottage industries that profit by the legalization and soat are willing to contribute money to politicians who will support the new deviancy. In such ways deviancy becomes the new standard.

The consequence of this is that those who refuse to embrace the new definition of deviancy will now be the ones who will be seen as “puritanical,” “mean,” “uncharitable,” and “bigoted.” Once deviancy is defined downward far enough those who refuse to accept the new definitions of deviance will become social outcasts and will suffer economic displacement. Defining deviancy downwards happens because the social order does not have an anchor that will not allow them to drift with the tide. The only place that anchor can be found is in God’s Law word. Disallow God’s Law word as the norm that norms all norms and the consequence will always be a “defining of deviancy down.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who popularized the phrase “Defining Deviancy Down” gives an example

“Consider the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. In 1929 in Chicago during Prohibition, four gangsters killed seven gangsters on February. The nation was shocked. The event became legend. It merits not one but two entries in the World Book Encyclopedia.”

Moynihan goes on to explain that in our current social order we experience a “St Valentine’s Day Massacre,” nearly daily and no one blinks. As a social order we have come to accept a higher level of deviancy.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

One thought on “Defining Deviance Down”

  1. Moynihan’s also responsible for the ingenious formulation that there’s an r = .52 correlation between a state’s test scores and its distance in miles from the Canadian border.

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