The Practice of Free Speech Is a Spiritual Necessity

I almost began by writing that I’m sick of politically tinged topics and wish to dedicate a column to something spiritual… but this one lands me right to the heart of free speech.  Everything, alas, has grown political.

In my nightly meditation (it’s my variety of prayer), I pass a “station” where I ask myself if I have “reached out” that day, because I’m convinced that exchange of some sort has to be an essential part of why we’re here.  We are not finished products.  We cannot allow ourselves to be deposited in a curio cabinet (or deposit ourselves there), safe from dust and errant missiles.  That doesn’t mean that we have a holy obligation to throw our elbows about and shout around the water cooler; it simply means that we must find a way to register our “take” on the truth as events unfold around us in this accelerated, hyper-active, overly medicated e-world of our creation.  Not to speak up in some manner, unfortunately (for the meditative, to whom silence is golden), is these days equivalent to nodding quiet assent to the slanders and inanities that build a dizzy momentum on Twitter, Facebook, and the rest.  “Pushback” is required.

And it was ever so, to be honest.  Monastic seclusion is beneficial only to the extent that it allows the hermit to reflect.  As soon as it favors a suspension of thought and a mind-numbed retreat into daily routine, it shuts down the individual’s opportunity to grow further.  A cow is not the ultimate sage.

I write this as someone with very strong tendencies to flee to an island and sink the skiff that brought me there.  That’s why I have to hold myself to an accounting every evening.  Exchange is required, not just (or even primarily) for the benefit of one’s “benighted” neighbors: it prods one’s soul, as well, into probing questions deeper and framing answers better.

Hence my quoting the word “benighted” above—for we must not think of our intellectual participation as gracing the world with prophetic revelations or as hammering sinners for not falling in with the onward march of Christian (or socialist, or utopian) soldiers.  An exchange not only runs in two directions: it also, in a truly Christian context, must accept limitation and fallibility.  Beings such as we cannot fully grasp ultimate truth, let alone express it.  Though I may be closer to the mark than you, and though I may know well that you won’t accept my correction—however modestly offered—I still need the “exercise in futility” involved in making my case to you so that I may better guard against any straying off target from my side.  When I’m enhancing a digital photo, I always overshoot the point where the lighting or coloring is just right; for how will I know where “just right” is if I haven’t veered into “too much”?

Not that I deliberately go too far in my speech or writing… but I will never “nail” the full truth; and without the evidence of a day’s slight (or gaping) misses, how will I restrain myself from the pride of feeling that I—in my superior silence—understand everything while the others are mere puny mortals?

There, in a nutshell, lies the spiritual necessity of exchange.  And there, as well, lies the wickedness of shutting down exchanges in the interest of “what’s right”.  So you know exactly what’s right, do you?  How generous of God, to loan you His eyes and sit you upon His throne!  But, of course, the people who would shut down such discussion do not regard their perspective as on loan.  In a post-religious world, their vision has become the new god—and they are all his prophets.

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If You’re Male and Have a Pulse, Then Someone Somewhere Could Ruin Your Career (Part Two)

Despite such moments of sublime insight as concluded my previous post, I was an emotional wreck by the time I was awarded a Ph.D.  Once again, I sought refuge among “salt of the earth” types who professed strong religious principles—specifically, in the singles class of a mammoth Baptist church feeding off the small East Texas city where I found work.  I ended up trying to court another strawberry blonde (damn it!), this one as statuesque and serene as the other had been tomboyish and lively.  We had many private conversations which I mistook for intimate, but which, in retrospect, were ice-cold with all that box-checking and “image maintenance” to which young women pay such attention.  When I dared at last to bring my Olympian beauty a lavish bouquet of flowers, the temperature hit Absolute Zero, and I realized that the soles of my shoes again needed cleaning.

Here I will observe (as I begin to aim this long ramble at a destination) that either one of my strawberry blondes—either Baptist Preacher’s Cowgirl Daughter or Celestial Ice Queen—could have charged me with stalking, as the word is now rather carelessly understood.  Yet in both cases, I was only believing the claptrap that I was told and trying to show myself patient and respectful.  One girl was competing with a roommate and a soap opera to stage Cattle Country’s Most Roller-Coaster Romance, the other playing some Duchess of Lonely Hearts game until a dentist finally swept her up in his gilded coach.  I could have done without the “I’m so innocent” act, in the former case, and the “My past has mysteriously wounded me” act, in the other… but I was given no cues outside the context of games that I didn’t know how to play.

If I were running for public office, could an incident of this sort not be dredged up out of my past to prove me a creepy pervert?  Or what about the woman (no longer a girl, by any measure) who threatened to accuse me to my new bosses of being a predator?

I had met her through a book club, of all things (this was a bit before the Internet and Match.com).  I was well into my thirties now myself; and as disgusted and embarrassed as I was by my own lack of progress in these matters, I had acquired greater powers of observation.  I knew very early that Cynthia was a seriously damaged subject.  She spoke to me once of her father (with whom—and her mother—she still lived) knocking her cold with a fire poker as if it were the kind of thing every child goes through; and her fondness for alcohol and cigarettes was hard to hide.  Yet there was a sensitive, genuine person on the flip side of her fiercely sarcastic and vindictive alter ego.  I could add that she was an attractive blonde… but that would explain nothing at this point, for our initial acquaintance had smoothly advanced though the mail.

When I severed this always prim and proper relationship, I knew well that I might be accused of rape, kidnapping, child-cannibalism, and burning candles at an altar to Adolph Hitler if Cynthia were having one of her bad days.  I haven’t forgotten that lesson.  The claim made currently in the press and other highly politicized circles that women never lie about such matters isn’t laughably wrong: it’s dangerously, criminally wrong.  It’s the equivalent of a loaded gun placed in the hands of a drunken psychotic. Does no one remember Potiphar’s queen, or the tragic Phaedra?

I met my wife shortly thereafter: a brunette, who was visiting the singles class in a Baptist church!

The ancients, having survived a disaster at sea, would take their tattered clothing and their salty oar and nail it all to a post in Poseidon’s temple.  I offer my past miseries up to God for anyone to see who’s of a mind to learn.  The Seventies and Eighties did not liberate women.  Those times left them abused, confused, resentful, eager to fight, and quick to run for cover.  We cannot undo the damage by burning a few—or many—males at the cross.  If the typical male has now become predatory and if gentlemen are in very short supply these days, it is because yesteryear’s feminists trashed all lady-like qualities and attempted to be predators themselves. The result was as predictable as a foolish wildebeest’s charge into a lion’s den.

Our culture remains, in sexual matters, a smoking Chernobyl, and a garden hose won’t accomplish the necessary detoxification.  Just this past week, I found a series on Netflix titled Godless—brilliantly produced and even very poignant at times, but heavily embedded in the notion that women could be gunslingers in the Old West or, as prostitutes, could make out as well as a Wall Street tycoon.  I could name at least half a dozen other serials, movies, or Netflix gems that sell the same Kool-aid—and I’ve only seen the trailers and teases, for the most part. Women “whuppin’ ass” in a world where whimpy men can’t pry themselves loose from their coffee mugs… really?  So that kind of Never Never Land fantasy is going to help us get everyone’s head straight? Including the male’s?

The old Virginia Slims ad propaganda needs revision: “You’ve got a long way to go, baby…” except that—pardon me, progressive marketers—a gentleman doesn’t address a lady as “baby”.

If You’re Male and Have a Pulse, Then Someone Somewhere Could Ruin Your Career (Part One)

Having begun a few disclosures about my own experiences of the dating game last time, I’m prepared to lay before the public the entire body of wisdom that has accrued to me from my amorous adventures of yesteryear.  But I must post a warning: if death by boredom is possible, my accounts may pose extreme risk to the reader.

(Seriously, there’s a highly relevant point to this excursion—but I won’t be able to reach it in one post, so please stay tuned.)

I was sent to a rich kids’ school by two hard-working parents whose means were very modestly middle-class.  To everyone concerned but them, it soon became painfully obvious that I didn’t belong on the campus of that elite K-12.  An uncomfortably memorable event occurred when I was in sixth grade. A blonde girl whom I was sweet on—but had never found the courage to speak to—told me with a high dose of vitriol that she hated my guts and wished I wouldn’t return next year.  The abuse was so random and vicious that it entered where there was no armor to slow down the arrowhead.

A couple of years later, I conceived the same sort of steal-a-glance-now-and-then obsession for another lovely blonde thing.  (I’ve thought many times since those days about the “not me-ness” represented by the blonde and blue-eyed, as if I were attracted to features as far from the stigma of my own dark-eyed person as possible.)  This girl was of a classier sort, and we were all rather older; so when she became the first and last person I would ever ask on a date in high school, she turned me down very gently.  God bless her soul!  She already had her sights set on a college lad who was Pre-Med—and whom she would marry and divorce in one chapter of what must really have become a Hallmark Channel kind of life.

Meanwhile, the sexual revolution was raging.  I was so eager to depart my high-rent penitentiary that I graduated after eleventh grade (I’d taken extra classes and made top marks in most of them), against everyone’s advice.  Free at last!  What I didn’t know was that I, an innocent of almost unbelievable naïveté, was entering a land where the bad rap on Sodom and Gomorrah had been rehabilitated by a new “love” amply supplied with long hair, weed, and guitars: the academic world.

In the interest of safety, I will skip over the years that left me with three degrees and a fiercely reclusive, misanthropic nature: otherwise, I might bore myself to death.  A single skirmish might well summarize many: an absurd date with the daughter of a Baptist preacher.  I thought she, at least, might be just about my speed.  To my mind, everything had gone great in that initial encounter.  It took me almost half a year to figure out that Miss Sunshine and Salvation really didn’t want to see me again—that she’d expected not to spend that fateful evening at my digs and held me accountable for an extreme humiliation before her roommate.  But… her father was a Baptist preacher!  This just couldn’t be!

Since I’m keeping score… yes, she had strawberry-blonde hair.

I caught on quicker in ensuing episodes of similar caliber; and there were also one or two comedies where the “desperately single” tried to haul me in.  I was lonely, but my life raft wasn’t growing loose and squishy.  While I reached the ripe age of thirty almost as socially inept as I had been at fifteen, I’d managed to become a pretty shrewd observer of people, if only because I personally was seldom more than a supporting actor in any scene.  I wasn’t interested in someone who just needed to check a box in order to win the esteem of a certain social circle.

In any case, graduate school offered few specimens of this kind: on the contrary.  The “best and brightest” were all about building a career and squeezing in diverse romantic interludes as time allowed.  And they were horribly miserable, which probably accounts for why so many had drug and alcohol problems.  The males who hunted through their lives like cavemen looking for just enough meat to last a week were moral invertebrates.  They took responsibility for nothing, though you might mistake them as having principles to hear how they railed against “bourgeois hang-ups”.  Of course, the would-be feminist free spirits who supplied most of their sexual diet’s menu claimed to endorse the same lofty utopian goals; but a girl has to know subliminally when she is being used, even when she keeps repeating to herself that she’s getting even more use out of her user.

As much as I wanted to curl up in a self-pity of utter isolation, I could never convince myself that these “successfully socialized” creatures were were happier than I was—were not, in fact, agonizingly unhappy.  No wonder some of them decided to seek companionship only in the same sex!  That decision was being driven by cultural, not biological, conditioning… and the culture was in a state of advanced decay.

Thanksgiving Lite vs. True Gratitude

Like just about every other thoughtful person, I’m a little queasy when I hear all the Christian-lite bromides at this time of year. “Thank you for our health.” So the ailing are hated of God? “Thank you for our family.” Pagans have families, too; so do murdering drug-cartel kingpins. “Thank you for peace.” Well, sort of… only don’t go for an evening walk without a concealed weapon unless you live in an exclusive gated community; and if it’s peace in the world to which you refer, I guess you mean, “Thank you for not making me Mexican, so that I don’t inhabit a nation that produced 21,000 murders last year and 30,000 surviving casualties.”

That’s a little Pharisaical, don’t you think? “Thank you for not making me like that filthy publican at the altar.”

And then we have the unnerving fact that what we fear and loathe most is often what we most need. We don’t know what to be thankful for. Maybe our raise is just going to plunge us into a more materialistic lifestyle. Maybe being bumped to part-time will make us become more creative and independent. Should we be thankful that we can afford to view more trashy Hollywood movies and stuff ourselves on more sweets and fats… or should we be thankful that we’re now having to read books for amusement and grow potatoes and beans in the back yard? How we hate being forced into virtue! When that doesn’t happen, we’re so damn thankful!

I have enough of the old pagan in me that I’m almost afraid to be thankful for anything, lest I make a target out of myself. “Thanks for our prosperous investments… oh, my God! Did you see how much the Dow just plunged?” There’s an Irish saying that runs, Mol an là um trathnóna—“Praise the day as the sun goes down.” It’s the same sentiment that we find at the end of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and ascribed to Solon by Herodotus: “Let no man be called blessed before he is safely dead and secure from the world’s shocks.”

In my more Christian moments, however—truly Christian—I know that I must die to this world some day, and I am grateful for the little clues that alert me to a “winding down”. I am grateful that I can see a way to start tying loose ends together—to leave some sort of legacy that will warn others against living just for the here and now. And, yes, I’m grateful for something to put on the table. “Let each day’s worries be sufficient unto itself.” I am grateful that we get by, that the sun and the rain fall on good and evil alike, and that the means of survival are always within reach of the humble and hard-working. I want to learn more about those means in my final years, and I want to do more about passing them along. Simply feeling the days lengthen and then shorten, simply studying how the earth grows food and then gives it up to those who know her secrets, is a vitally important part of understanding bountifulness and feeling gratitude for it.

I am not grateful to this culture we have created which has carried us so far away from such understanding and such gratitude.

 

Girls Need More Prudence in the Post-Polite World

I would begin, “Please don’t misunderstand…” but I have long learned that those words are always wasted.  People who want to misunderstand will surely do so, as on the day when three senior English majors were pleased to construe a perfectly anodyne joke I hatched (to cover my irritation about rampant absenteeism) as a crude sneer at suicides.  (I had murmured, “Absent again?  Question 5 must have driven them to suicide!”)  These prissy censors decided to be offended rather than opt for a more civil, friendly, and obvious interpretation of my words; and as for me, I will never forget the offense I felt at being so zealously cast in a villain’s role.  No, I didn’t feel “raped”: I just felt slapped in the face.

So misunderstand, if you will… but listen: women who don’t wish to lure into the open their male colleagues’ Inner Swine probably shouldn’t leave dozens of photos on Google images showing themselves buck naked (or peu s’en faut), with the skimpiest of remaining strings or veils, perhaps, serving only to emphasize what isn’t in plain sight.

The Tweeden woman who is protesting Al Franken’s multiple molestations—and rightly so—might have considered that when you ring a bell in Professor Pavlov’s lab, all the dogs within earshot start to salivate.  I had no idea who this young woman might be; someone wrote that she was a newscaster.  I did a quick search… and my iPad’s screen started to blush.  Ms. Tweeden, I second your outrage, and I have decried the degeneration of male manners over a lifetime twice the length of yours… but if you don’t want the neighborhood strays nipping at your heels, don’t go jogging wrapped in strings of fresh sausage.

For fifty years and more now, feminism has been encouraging young women to flaunt conventions of decency (if not to advertise an overtly licentious lifestyle).  This was always a nasty pit-trap into which the most impressionable girls took hard falls.  Here they were told by academic mentors that they were going to gate-crash male lairs of privilege…. and all they accomplished was the rush-delivery of more low thrills to the worst kind of man.

I don’t know if the news desk and the Hollywood “casting couch” are distinctly different pieces of furniture any more, at least for young women.  If a daughter of mine were considering a broadcast career, I would warn her to develop a thick skin and study karate.  And if Megan Kelly, who hasn’t stopped protesting her harassment at FOX since her exit therefrom, really believes that she was originally hired only for her interviewing skills, then she must be the most naive human being ever to utter the words, “Tonight we begin our coverage…”.

It’s not right, of course, that women in particular should have to be eye-candy in order to land such positions.  Ratings rule, however, at the end of the day.  The profession is invincibly sordid in that regard.

Teaching isn’t so very different.  You can possess the knowledge of a Henry Kissinger about international affairs—but if you conduct your Topics in Diplomacy seminar in soporific monotone, you’ll soon be looking for a new gig (unless, that is, you are actually Henry Kissinger).

I wish we could recover some vestige of manners.  Few people loathe the moral and cultural cesspool in which we dwell more than I.  But as I recall my single days in the Eighties, when women never wanted to see you again if the first date didn’t end in bed, and as I now read of actresses feeling “assaulted” when a nonagenarian in a wheelchair slips his arm around their waist, I can’t help but conclude that today’s girls—for their own good—need to do their calculations all over again.  This world of “rights” and “freedoms” has grown dangerously pathological.  Don’t assume that any space is safe, ladies, and learn to keep your guard up better.  Listen to your grandmothers.

 

How to Hide in Plain Sight: Surround Yourself in Conspiracy Theory

Societies have always been vulnerable to blindness induced by their own prejudices.  If a child were born under the “wrong” alignment of the stars, or if a crow flew left instead of right as an expedition started out, then human ingenuity and determination could be negated by an invincible sense of doom.  To our own time of mass communication, instant dissemination, and absence of rooted values, however, belongs a special susceptibility to “being handled”.  Devious people can lead us all around by the nose with a bridle of two or three words… or even just one.

The idiotic coinage “judgmental” has been such a word since my early youth.  So we are not to judge anything?  But are we not judging, then, those who practice judgment?  And how does anyone abandon judgment without surrendering consciousness?  Don’t we still advise our children not to climb into cars with strangers?  Don’t we pass on eggs and yogurt if their container declares them out of date?

Of course, the whole idea behind “non-judgmental” is to judge very harshly and rashly a person or group designated by our handlers as caught red-handed in the exercise of principles.  It’s an easy sell to such as we have become.  Simply by turning off our brains, we ascend to the ranks of the “best” people.  We didn’t really want to think, anyway.  It’s painful.

Or take the phrase “conspiracy theory”.  Who wants to be detected in entertaining a crackpot idea?  That’s the only kind ever known to have been hatched by “conspiracy theorists”, you know.  They believe that reptilian aliens living in Inner Earth slipped Lee Harvey Oswald his rifle, shape-shifted to become Dick Cheney, and loaded the 9/11 jetliners with robots.

The truth is that a conspiracy is any plot to maneuver a person or persons into a certain behavior by withholding critical portions of situational truth.  Two or more must be involved in the subterfuge.  A lad who bribes a girl’s best friend to praise him lavishly to her has launched a conspiracy.  A dad who promises his son a new video game if he votes that the family should vacation in the Rockies instead of at the beach has created a co-conspirator.  Conspiracies are a fact of ordinary life.  To hear the “conspiracy theory” theorists, you’d think that all the laws on the books against conspiring to commit criminal acts would be redundant.  Few people would ever be stupid enough to conspire, and nobody would be stupid enough to believe them if they tried!

Labeling intelligent suspicion of official accounts a “conspiracy theory” has now become a favorite species of disinformation.  If you and your cronies design a lie for feeding to the public, and if some group of skeptics indicts your veracity, play the CT card.  “Oh, sure, that’s right… we wanted to cover up the existence of an alien spacecraft at Roswell, even though its discovery would have revolutionized modern living.  We want to stay in the Dark Ages—and we lied about the Lizard Men who fought us for the wreckage, too!”

A dismissive documentary about the Roswell incident quoted a high-ranking general testifying before Congress in almost exactly these terms—and the narrator obligingly rated the testimony “devastating” to the conspiracy crowd, though it had no more substance than I have portrayed.  All you have to do is sniff, be a little snarky, and tilt your head in the direction of “the troglodyte set over there”.

An infinitely subtler use of the technique, however, is to finance your own “conspiracy theory” clique, broadcast, or website to cry out against the very conditions you wish to hide.  Instead of cozening interviewers for the Roswell documentary to ignore the evidence of an extraterrestrial encounter, play the thing up to the hilt.  Make your own film.  Carry it far over the top.  Spread rumors that one alien pilot survived and conferred with President Truman.  Create a list of everyone in the county who died over the next decade and speculate that government agents “took them out”.  Disgust the public with your lunacy.

I sincerely wonder if some of the more extravagant serials and documentaries about the Kennedy assassination, alien visitors, 9/11, and the rest do not have their roots in this more subtle kind of dissuasion: the “make the believers look like psychos on crack” approach.  But that, of course, would just be another conspiracy theory.

 

The Dark Elite (Part Six)

As I wrap up these remarks (at least for now), I find that one observation leaps immediately to the fore. I wrote in beginning this series that we must deprogram ourselves from viewing multinational corporations and Nanny State politicians as adversaries, for in fact they are two sides of the same coin (and a counterfeit coin, at that). In the same way, we must no longer automatically view a utopian progressive building a staircase to heaven as the opposite of a dogmatic neo-bourbonist awaiting the return of a rightful king. For what were Stalin and Mao if not the most despotic kings imaginable? The progressive is always waiting for a master, whom he calls Beloved Leader. On the coin’s other hollow-ringing side, the ultra-conservative who wants God’s ways (as understood by him) to intrude into the management of the body politic produces, in his Richelieu or his Metternich, nothing but a Stalin or a Mao clad in holy garb.

I submit that this is a deeply relevant paradox in unmasking the Dark Elite. I strongly suspect, that is, that people with misguided religious convictions may possess all of the qualities essential for participation in such a covert enterprise. They would likely be discreet, fiercely faithful, tirelessly industrious, and steeled against second thoughts by utter conviction. They would be modern Crusaders; and what would make them distinctly modern would be an understanding of advanced technology of the practical variety such as the Space Program generates, or even of the somber variety such as the Department of Defense generates. They wouldn’t be designing video games. They might be invested in delivering the Internet’s instant knowledge via an earbud… but they would be aware, as frivolous people are not, of the potential to filter the Internet’s content and distill coy suggestions into everyone’s ear.

I find the profile of the person I have just imagined not unsympathetic, I admit. Democracy seems to be entering a self-destructive stage. People are expected to arbitrate issues at the ballot box about which highly trained experts disagree—and never has an electorate been more impatient with training itself in our nation’s history. More and more voters, as well, are claiming their right to a bigger and bigger portion of somebody else’s income, while it grows increasingly obvious that all the wallets of the next two or three generations cannot fund the claims made. Infatuation, irresponsibility, selfishness, and outright stupidity characterize the choices made in the broadest and most consequential plebiscites. Wouldn’t we be better off if some Beloved Leader—some Anointed One—would step in and do God’s work?

If you worship the God of Goodness, yet you forget that good ways are only so when freely chosen by thoughtful individuals, you may be tempted to do away with the “folly” of democratic elections—with their susceptibility to trend and their cult of personality. The good is the good; and since people will not reliably select it, it must be selected for them. They must be saved from themselves, the silly children—the bloody fools, some of whom may have to die until the remaining accept that they are silly children. You, as God’s agent, will see that the hard lesson is taught.

There’s not a paper’s thinness of difference, I repeat, between this line of reasoning and that of the utopian ideologue: hence the strange affinity that has evolved between the radical Left and radical Islam, the one boisterously atheist and the other fanatically pious. Even so are there sincere but self-deluded Christians in the United States who would cheerfully adopt a know-nothing attitude as a paternalistic government oversaw and overheard whatever passed in every kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom to “protect” us; and there are those of this same group, as well, who would dutifully undertake the “protecting”.

I don’t mean end my rambles in the assertion that the Dark Elite are a gang of religious fanatics… or perhaps I do. I will accept that characterization of my conclusion if you, in turn, will accept that devotion to the ever-recessive image of a manmade utopia is also a religion—or a cult, to be precise. Our covert Chosen Ones may feel that they are bringing about the eternal life of the soul by fostering a world where downloads may enter an indefinite number of corporeal residences… or they may feel that they are elevating humankind to new evolutionary heights by merging the biological with the robotic. The former idea is Catholic physicist Frank Tipler’s, the latter charismatic secularist Ray Kurzweil’s. Either one of these two would be quite comfortable in a room where the enlightened engineering of humanity’s future by a select, fully initiated few was under discussion.

In my restless thoughts, I keep returning to the Phoenix Lights, an inexplicable display of aeronautic prowess viewed by hundreds and filmed by dozens. Either extraterrestrial craft were aloft that spring day in 1997, or else our government has developed technology capable of what any civilian Physics professor would call impossible. Either way, we have been lied to on a scale that sets our dull world wholly adrift from the futuristic reality known to the Elite. Yet these same “protectors” have overlooked the little matter of securing our power grid against EMP’s… or have they, really? That, I would insist, is a moral impossibility. If we live thus exposed to almost complete annihilation, it can only be because the Dark Elite have already decided that they wish to hold such a trump card in their hand. Perhaps an America of ten percent its present population would be much easier to feed and defend, equipped as she would be with apocalyptic technology; perhaps the Elite have decided that her deadwood simply needs to be pruned.

This subject terrifies me, frankly. Our world is not perfectible, and attempts to force perfection upon it by its human occupants invariably bring Hell a little closer. Our free society was intended to give individuals a chance to work out their soul’s salvation or to squander their mortal time upon things that perish, as they prefer: it was to have been a place where people may learn from failure or simply fail and fail some more. Should the “illumined ones” among us decide to outlaw failure, our grand experiment in freedom will have failed catastrophically.