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.