Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. “The Playboy Philosophy”

Firing Line Videos, Hoover Institution, taped on September 12, 1966, uploaded to YouTube on May 10, 2010.

Guest: Hugh Hefner


Between these two antagonists one might have expected a heated debate, but what we get instead is a serious discussion of sexual ethics in the latter part of the 20th century. Hugh Hefner: “The philosophy really I think is an anti-Puritanism, a response really to the Puritan part of our culture.” Buckley: “I’m not worrying about whether you reject Cotton Mather’s accretions on the Mosaic Law, but whether you reject the Mosaic Law. Do you reject, for instance, monogamy? Do you reject the notion of sexual continence before marriage?” Hefner: “Well, I think what it really comes down to is an attempt to establish a . . . new morality, and I really think that’s what the American . . . sexual revolution’s really all about. It’s an attempt to replace the old legalism. It’s certainly not a rejection of monogamy as such, but very much an attempt–in the case of premarital sex, there really hasn’t been any moral code in the past except simply that thou shalt not. And . . .” Buckley: “Well, that’s a code, isn’t it?” Hefner: “Well, perhaps. I don’t think it’s a very realistic one.”