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William F Buckley Jr was one of America’s great Catholics.  I still mourn his and his wife Pat’s deaths.

WFB, as he was frequently known in print, founded and published National Review magazine, which gave birth to a modern intellectual American conservatism.  He and Pat alternated between homes in Manhattan and Connecticut.  WFB was a devoted husband, father and employer.  On Sundays, he took those of his servants who wished to attend to Latin Mass in Connecticut. 

WFB also had a television show that ran for many years.  It was called Firing Line.  I used to watch it on PBS on Sunday afternoons.  WFB was a devout Roman Catholic.  His wife Pat remained a lifelong Anglican.  Their son, Christopher, is an agnostic with marital problems.

Recently, I found some Firing Line clips on YouTube, including an entire show from 1966 which features a discussion between WFB and the Playboy empire’s Hugh Hefner.  Here we have two magazine founders and publishers, two smokers (WFB doesn’t light up on screen but he always holds onto his pen), two intelligent men discussing what was known in the 1960s as the sexual revolution.

This interview — the first three parts of which are below — is done in a characteristic WFB style.  Posit questions, develop the discussion such that the interviewee thinks he is winning the argument, then go in for the closer. Also, WFB argues from the outset in support of Judaeo-Christian teachings on the matter. One of the YouTube comments says that it is unlikely we’d ever have such a rich, measured, intellectual televised debate today. Sadly, that person is correct.  Those days are gone. We’d also never see a reasoned defence of Christian teachings today. If you have never seen Firing Line or WFB in action, please don’t miss this.  Parents, especially, will be able to use some of WFB’s reasoning for sexual continence when discussing the subject with their children.

Part 1 (Hefner mentions ‘situation ethics’ (!) at 5:00):

Part 2 (the Kinsey Report — true or false?):

Part 3 (WFB probes Hefner’s sexual ethics — does Hef have a double standard?):

Tomorrow: Parts 4 through 6

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