Spare Us the Lionizing of Hugh Hefner, Anti-Saint of Hedonism and Sexual Deviancy

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, center, poses with a group of current and former Playboy bunnies at the Playboy Club in Los Angeles in 1986. (AP Photo, File)

Hugh Hefner is dead and we’re now being bombarded with myriad stories making him into a modern anti-saint for the cause of hedonism and sexual deviancy. This man was not someone to look up to. Yes, he made a lot of money by breaking up families, feeding addictions, and exploiting young women. But what did he give to our society? The argument can be made that it was nothing but misery. Hefner, who was very politically motivated, contributed to the decline of American morality. Many papers, like The New York Times, can’t help but celebrate that. 

In 1962 Hefner wrote “The Playboy Philosophy,” a 25-installment editorial that was a mix of libertarian and libertine arguments meant to defend his magazine against charges that it was a “cult of irresponsibility and of aiding in the decline of the Western world.” He railed against the repressive influence of the church and championed abortion rights, decriminalization of marijuana, and, most important, the repeal of 19th-century sex laws.

The full extent of what he contributed was not felt until recently when even staunch libertarians started to think, maybe we’ve gone too far. That moment was undeniably Bill Nye The Science Guy’s episode on Netflix about “My Sex Junk,” where some screeching woman gyrated around yelling about “fleshlights” and “power bottoms.” There’s only so much debauchery the public can stand before it starts turning stomachs. A chubby SJW in pleather and a guy pretending to be a scientist while pushing more than two genders seems to have finally done it. In almost every public comment about that episode, people were begging for traditional morality to make a comeback. After watching that train wreck, even atheists were asking for God to make a comeback.

It was Hefner who pushed the widespread use of birth control, abortion and promiscuous sex. As a result, divorce and venereal diseases skyrocketed. His political machinations were far more offensive than his magazine. It’s hard, even for me, to criticize Playboy, vanilla as it was. Recently it even stopped showing any nudity at all. There’s no doubt that Playboy was the best of the worst when it came to pornography in its day. By today’s standards, it’s puritanical! But it was Hef’s political activism that did the most damage. It was a fun sideshow that Gloria Steinem hated him; he pitted himself against militant feminists who are, after all, repulsive — anyone who dares take them on is seen as a cult hero. But there were no heroes in this fight. Both sides were equally evil and the effects of both will haunt us forever.

Both philosophies sought to put women quite literally under men. The only things gained by this sexual advocacy was freeing men from the responsibility of sex and opening us up to the unending cesspit of perversion we are currently fighting (like Teen Vogue teaching teens how to have anal sex). Yet Hefner saw himself as a new moral authority with the power to abolish all the wisdom that had come before him.

“These are the final skirmishes of a retreating army of self-appointed moral authorities who have been defeated again and again for the past five decades,” he wrote. “Americans have rejected these religious fanatics and fought to protect women’s rights, reproductive rights and our right to privacy rather than submit to their Christian view that sex exists for the sole purpose of procreation.”

So the religious fanatics were replaced by sexual fanatics. Are we better off? Let me remind you what has oozed out of that particular think tank. Grab your airsick bag.