When I got to the end of this article on the Naomi Wolf "scandal" (?), I couldn't help groaning when I hit the "things were different then" excuse. Allow me to engage in a semi-rant here. This type of relativism--we object to these things now, but the standards were all different then--rarely seems accompanied by any awareness of historical complexity. For example. Nineteenth-century Britain may have been rife with anti-Jewish (religious) and anti-Semitic (racial) prejudices, but it was also rife with harsh attacks on those who beat up Jews or even insulted them; for that matter, many evangelicals supported the Jewish Emancipation Act. (Of course, they also wanted the Jews to convert, but you can't have everything.) Similarly, anti-Catholicism was a key "Victorian value"--it helped define Victorian conceptions of political liberty, religious freedom, even the nature of the family--but that didn't stop Anthony Trollope from painting remarkably positive portraits of Irish Catholics, or the Athenaeum from dragging an anti-Catholic novelist over the coals for whipping up hysterical sentiments. Thomas Carlyle's racial attitudes horrified a lot of his contemporaries. One could go on. Now, most of these counter-opinions would not be "ours," either: almost nobody thought Jews as a group were morally equal to Christians; even the most pro-Catholic Protestants still tended to be awfully condescending about the Roman Catholic Church as a whole; Victorian anti-racism can be a pretty awkward business. But you cannot simply say "They were different; we can let X off the hook." It may not be appropriate to bring our own moral standards to bear, but neither is it appropriate to simply erase any sign of earlier dissent. All the more so when the "earlier age" is only about twenty years ago!