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Our public sphere, which should have displayed and preserved the grandeur and beauty of our civic ideals and moral excellences, is instead inane and vacuous when it is not utterly mean, ugly, or indecent (p. 4). Troubled by the tawdry nonsense circulating in the public sphere-and she wrote before learned enquiries into whether the President's genitals had any distinguishing characteristics- Rochelle Gurstein turns to history to understand how we arrived at such a sorry destination. Hers is a tale of decline: The Victorians "we moderns" so routinelyd eridef or theirP uritanicalr epressivenessu nderstoodf ull well that certain things have to remain private, even shameful, in order to retain their sacred value-and in order to protect a public sphere worth having.