The Art of the Ideological Shakedown: Silencing Speech by Controlling Minds (Part One)

I wrote a little last time about the attempts to hack into the site of The Center for Literate Values.  For the moment, they have ceased—but why did they ever begin?  Fifteen years ago, I would have assumed that some precocious adolescent nerd was simply trying to climb the mountain because it was there, testing his anomist, sociopathic talents for turning things upside-down before tackling the Department of Defense… or whatever.  I don’t know why that scenario no longer convinces me.  Perhaps because on the one occasion (about ten years ago) when my site was successfully invaded, the intruder corrupted everything with vengeful savagery.  There was no mere flag spiked on top of the summit.  What I saw was a raging contempt for all the values we sought to project.

And what were those values?  Individualism, creativity, introspection… not much of the provocative there.  Dedication to the conscientious life orbiting a stable goodness transmitted by a supreme moral being?  Our cybernetic Charles Manson was probably set frothing at the mouth by some such language as that.  For perhaps ten years, you haven’t been able to mention the god of goodness without drawing the flies that breed on manure piles.  The helter-skelter nihilists at their keyboards really hated what we did—or really began to make their hatred public and to give it free rein with a crusading zeal.  Crusading, yes: they were religious zealots, cultic fanatics.  And they remain so, and grow more so every day.

So much of what I write about in this space addresses “offensive” speech whose origin is no more than a bland joke or an unpopular opinion… so much of what stands me upright today like a slap in the face has to do with this self-righteous crusade to shut us up unless we parrot the prevailing cackle. Often I despair of having anything new to say on the subject.  About all I can do, it sometimes seems, is cry out, “Did you see that?  Can you believe they just did that?”

In my brief time on Twitter, for instance, I emerge thus bewildered every time I read some of the comments directed at Dana Loesch, a commentator who dares to write on behalf of the Second Amendment.  Because Ms. Loesch is attractive and has young children, certain people are inspired to share their visions of raping and murdering her or kidnapping and brutalizing her family.  The posts are usually incoherent splashes of “c—t” and “b—h” and “f—k” turned at full speed in a cerebral cement-mixer—or perhaps the diarrhea of an intestine mislocated between the ears.  Now, I don’t own an AK-47 or an AR-15 and have no plans of buying one.  If I can’t defend myself and my wife in six shots, another sixty probably won’t help.  I haven’t fired a gun of any kind for perhaps two or three years.  It’s expensive.  A box of .38 Specials is already almost a month’s worth of milk.

But, really… to assault someone verbally with what would translate, at the very least, into spittle and a blunt projectile if the person were present—and to threaten bodily harm in terms that often satisfy the legal definition of assault… what kind of psychopaths have we raised, and why are they so invincibly convinced of their cause’s virtue?

If belief in a supreme moral being does nothing else for you, it should infuse your consciousness with an awareness of the creeping subjectivity that is forever bidding to erode good judgment.  It should promote a sense of humility, of proportion.  Perhaps the preeminent difference between true faith and fanaticism is precisely the loss of this humility.  The fanatic, though claiming to serve a higher power—the very highest of powers—indulges his selfish impulses more generously than a spoiled five-year-old brat.  If he doesn’t like you, it’s God who hates you.  If your words rub him the wrong way, it’s God who has been blasphemed.  If he wants to smack you, it’s God who has spiritually possessed his right hand on an expedition of mighty vengeance.

You know the type.

But why, I will now ask, is the type now so prominently represented in Leftist politics?  I know, I know… it is supposed to characterize all those KKK and NRA members who flock by tens of thousands to rallies at football stadiums the way Nazis came to hear Hitler in the Berlin Sportpalast—or so Hollywood tells us.  But all the shooting that took place in Las Vegas (remember the Las Vegas slaughter with all its loose ends? No? Neither do the news media) poured from the hot barrels of a far-left lunatic, not from the Redneck Army assembled beneath him to hear country music.  Get on Twitter, if you can endure it: tell me honestly what side of the aisle you see logging sexual obscenities and coprologisms at the higher rate.

Of course, the utter absence on the Left of a restraining god whose immutable principles will not accept passion and petulance as excuses for misbehavior is Reason One for the disparity.  The second reason might be the sudden and complete irrelevance that tradition acquires in a progressivist outlook.  We may agree that the logical derivation of moral absolutes is too laborious a Jacob’s Ladder for most minds to scale.  (For instance, the ongoing exercise of disciplining self with other until a Universal Self—a Golden Rule, a Categorical Imperative—is approached demands too much concentration in The Age of the Smartphone; it never was an easy path.)  Inherited lessons used to provide a shortcut.  Tradition carried a certain weight with most rational observers.  After all, a lot of people have painfully evolved this or that way of doing things over a very long period of trial and error.  Maybe, if custom says not to eat that fruit, we should send it to the lab or give the dog a bite rather than slice it up for the party.

But the progressive zealot says, “No, there’s no justification for the custom whatever, other than training you to jump through hoops.  It’s all conditioning.  It’s the patriarchy teaching you where to go and when to go there.  Always disobey!”

The very concatenation of sensible arguments is enough to ignite this zealot.  Sure, you sound convincing—that’s the source of your manipulative powers, your propagandistic prowess.  That’s the exact moment when the crusader spits in your face and punches you.  Stop trying to cloud the “mission” with your blather!  In the preferred shorthand of Twitter, STFU!

Reasons!  Logic!  Tradition!  Of course they’re straining against The Vision!  They are its natural and eternal enemy!  The Vision has human beings doing what they have never done before.  We can reach that pinnacle if only we believe, if only we begin to climb.  And some of us, to be sure, will perish in the ascent; but even they, in the collective achievement of The Vision—in a mission that lifts up the entire species—will partake of the one possible immortality: collaboration in Progress.  Stop listening to naysayers!  Plug your ears!  If we had listened to them in the past, open-heart surgery wouldn’t exist.  The first plane would never have left the ground.  Great cities would not shine on hilltops.  Shout over their obfuscation—trample them down!

And so the jihad against progress-impeding reason is launched; and in its contagious fervor, verbal abuse that shreds every rule of decorum, physical assaults that verge ever closer upon homicide, and deliberately nonsensical theories that enjoy privileged positions in graduate curricula spread like wildfire.  They become the new normal among the “faithful”—the young cultists seduced by the adventure’s romance.  Lost in the intoxicating dance is the fatal irony that new norms have fully occupied the space once filled by old norms—but that the old ones evolved rationally, whereas the new ones are merely successive tests of tribal participation.  Patriarchal, indeed!  The zealous footsoldier has never been more mindlessly programmed in his enlistment to The Cause.  If anything, his acts of insolence and abuse descend (as opposed to climb) a sooty ladder whose lower rungs truly reach cold-blooded murder (as in the joyous Sacrifice of the Fetus).  These anti-social outbursts are an ever more precise analogue of the gang initiate who performs a drive-by shooting of a child on a tricycle.

And we dare say nothing in protest.  Though we witness crimes—sometimes literal felonies—the greater offense is to offer up our outraged testimony.  The process of our silencing, to be sure, is usually gradual.  Today we find ourselves being confronted daily by various “shakedowns” to “soften us up” (or to harden our indecency-receptors), we who still resist the holy campaign of world conquest.  One of these is surely the gay marriage “test”, a failing of which—as in merely uttering, “No, I don’t think it’s right”—can result in loss of livelihood.  Increasingly, another is the “gendered pronoun test”.  I’m told that social workers in New York who refuse the gender pronoun selected by their subject are terminated on the spot; and, of course, I can speak personally to the insane proliferation of muddle-speak like “ze” (to replace the gendered “he” and “she”) in academe.  Most such concessions seem small at the time, especially in comparison to unemployment.  Where, however, do they end?  One might murmur, “The thin end of the wedge…”; but, alas, younger generations will neither recognize the proverb nor the tool.

I’ve never written a line about the National Football League’s “kneel for the flag-raising” protests, mostly because I haven’t the faintest interest in football.  (This stems from my having actually played in high school, when I was left permanently puzzled about how the all-out, multiple attack of the biggest players wearing the thickest pads on the smallest man wearing the thinnest pads—and scarcely allowed to notice his assailants—is supposed to promote “manliness”).  I now incline to believe that the “kneeling” issue may be yet another shakedown.  They’re everywhere, these litmus tests that groom the mind… and this has surely become one, though it may not have been so from the start.  Let me continue next time.

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The Twitter Pope Asail Upon the Garbagy Sea

Pope Francis appears to have grown deeply concerned about the volume of plastic trash floating in our seas.  Interestingly, his inner garbage-lookout has begun crying, “Trash ho!” at just the moment when credible rumors have surfaced that a homosexual clique within the Vatican has been secretly saluting the pedophile Jolly Roger  Seems like a very convenient time to be looking starboard instead of larboard—and the mainstream news media are, of course, sailors first-class at changing screens.  Ever eager to see Francis carry on carrying on about manmade climate change and the diabolical evil of privately owning a means of self-defense, talking heads everywhere have buried Archbishop Vigano’s charges of child-molesting complicity in empty liter-bottles of Coke and shredded Little Debbie packaging.  Utopia’s pope preaches their gospel almost as if they were sharing teleprompters. “Who am I to judge?” opines the Chief Pontiff on the lump-of-flesh removal question… but his view of Parkland High School’s atrocity leaves the holster as quick as a sixgun in a spaghetti western.

And so it goes on, even in the practice of faith: the endless tennis match between the World Propaganda Machine and unsavory fact.

I for one am willing to take my eye off the ball completely this morning.  Let us accept that trash on the tides is a more urgent problem than homosexual seduction (a.k.a. statutory rape) of minors in the sanctuary.  After all, the Green Party has already gained the ascendancy over public school curricula in Germany and is busily teaching little girls and boys whose voices are years from lowering how to conduct sexual experiments.  Maybe Francis’s priests were just helping a few adolescents with their homework.

So back to the trash issue (I mean, plastic trash): may we ponder this one for a moment?  What’s the suggested solution?  Massive plastic roundups conducted by a kind of Green Coast Guard synchronized with a war on plastic products such as Governor Jerry Brown’s criminalization of straws?  And what, may I ask, is to be done with all the rounded-up plastic?  Do we burn it, thus infusing a major new catalyst into the engine driving Global Warming (according to His Eminence et al.)?  Or do we bury it—and there’s a lot of it, remember—thus further destabilizing the Earth’s crust and exacerbating the global epidemic of sinkholes?  (Would you believe, by the way, that southeastern New Mexico, perhaps the nation’s most favored site for dumping nuclear waste, also ranks near the top of the list for sinkhole activity?  Still think your government is good at planning these things out?)

I’ve been wondering for several months now (when I wasn’t wrestling with how to extract gender allusion from pronouns or how to eliminate “race whistles” from animal names)… why should we do anything more with the ocean’s drifting islands of plastic than encourage their formation and “sculpt” them?  Islands are useful.  Among other things, an island would be invincible as land-bound coastal cities succumb to Al Gore Armageddon.  It could also evade hurricanes like Katrina, if it is mobile: this is a point made in earnest by engineers who have had island-communities on the drawing board for years.  The basis of those designs, to be sure, was not old bottles of Jiff and forlorn ring-nets once holding six-packs of Coors together… but who’s going to notice that Plastopolis is floating on garbage bags rather than sleek pontoons?  And the pontoons might always rupture—but garbage bags, we have good assurance, are forever.

Or if the feeling is that encouraging wayfarer island-towns would only disseminate civilization’s toxicity more thoroughly around the globe… then why not populate the islands with verdant forests? If one component of Climate Change is the depletion of the rainforest, then why not multiply these artificial islands so as to restore the planet’s green cloak in some measure?

We’re stuck in and with a high-tech world.  I don’t like it, personally, and I’ve done more to resist capture than most people I know… but the reality of pollution will not be dispelled with the wave of a magic wand (or by papal edict, or even by a Jerry Brown initiative).  Indeed, those who would most aggressively repress the commercial and industrial activity responsible for forming our postmodern cesspool are situated (as I notice again and again) at points well beyond the real stench and fully insulated against the lean times sure to follow repression.  Francis and Governor Brown will have a running shower with plenty of hot water, though the rest of the world be sponging off from muddy goat tracks.

We will not solve any environmental problem by banning entire industries and cultural habits.  As I wrote a while back of my own struggles on a would-be farm, you can’t defeat water by bullying it into reversing its course: you can only channel it into less destructive directions.  The trash in our oceans is a problem… so let us imagine ways to transform trash into life-nourishing productivity.  We who created it surely have the ingenuity to steer its life cycle’s last stages down a more benign path.

In contrast, this crusading (or, if you prefer, jihadist) zeal to annihilate the enemy—to leave his foundations smoking (in stratosphere-friendly gasses) and his chattel eviscerated—is an insane pantomime intended to convince us, and everyone within earshot, of our own high virtue.  The cost of such virtue is usually the magnification of the original problem to catastrophic proportions; and, of course, it isn’t really virtue at all, but the mortal sin of vain pride.  We kill our souls as we kill our planet.

One would think that the Catholic pope, even an example of as dubious a pedigree as Francis, would recognize this.  But he is the world’s first Twitter Pope.  Grit doesn’t find its way into his shoes because they never touch real earth.  His visions, and ours, float and drift like the leavings of a child’s Christmas presents… or like Swift’s floating island of air-headed speculators, the Laputans.  With guiding ideas like this, who needs a Styrofoam garbage invasion?

The “Offense-Eligible” Class and the New Age Shakedown

The pressure upon even very minor public figures to bend a knee to radical progressivism is nearing terrorist proportions.  It’s reminiscent of the Mob’s glory days, when store-owners would pay “protection money” to local thugs so that their merchandise wouldn’t end up out in the street and their right arm in a sling.  Does that overstate the rawness of today’s intimidation-dealers, do you think?  I admit that every pronouncement on current events seems hyperbolic in the Twitter Age, which thrives on the “I’ll find your kids and sell them to a cartel pimp” kind of utterance engineered to get views.

Yet when a robust young man virtually breaks into tears during a press conference—and this merely because he Tweeted, “You’re Gay!” to a friend while both parties were high school students—the look and smell of terror cling to the incident.  Everything this boy in his early twenties has ever worked for not only teeters over the abyss, but its threatened plunge beyond the edge would leave him professionally stigmatized forever in our sad, twisted world as “the gay-bashing kid”.

My reference is to baseball player Trey Turner—one of a growing list of boy/men in that sport whose Twitter past is being researched with NSA-caliber rigor by unnamed Thought Police and punished with Kafkaesque solemnity by ESPN’s mind-control goons.  Another lad named Sean Newcomb was targeted on the day when he almost threw a no-hitter, as if to send the message, “Feel comfortable in your success?  Don’t.  We’re watching you, and we can come for you whenever we like.”  A somewhat more mature victim this week, All Star outfielder J.D. Martinez, refused to present his throat to hounds of the press corps when questioned (read “harassed”) about a Tweet from five years ago featuring Hitler’s mug.  The contention appears to have been floated that Martinez was high-fiving the Fuehrer, even though the post clearly connected the Nazi policy of collecting privately owned firearms with the birth of a civil nightmare.  Logic isn’t required in these terrorist assaults, however.  “I mean… you want individuals to have the right to own guns, correct, J.D.?  So why are you not a Nazi?  See, there’s Hitler’s pic in your post.”

A “defense” I read of Martinez even rebuked him for being so indiscreet as to employ a Fuerher-image.  What?  This “off-limit association” code was apparently violated within hours from another quarter, when Florida representative Ron Desantis flirted with “racism” by using a morph of the phrase, “monkey around”.  “I mean… I mean, everybody knows that white folks think of black folks when they hear the word ‘monkey’—right?  I mean, those white folks, not the ones like me.  I mean, I don’t have those thoughts… but I know they do, and we need to slap those people down or they’ll start lynching by torchlight.  Just like the Hitler photo.  I know how Martinez intended that—don’t give me that crap about reading his Tweet!”

Really sick of this, my friends… and yes, it’s nascent terrorism—and yes, it’s getting worse.  For the record, may I say in a small voice that I am extremely offended at the arrogantly implied association of the loaded Ruger at my bedside with Nazi politics?  The chances of a squad car reaching our remote rustic dwelling on a treacherous dirt road in timely fashion if someone should kick in our window at midnight are… well, about the same as getting the Nazi-calling lynch mob to pipe down and hear me out.  My previous house, located smack between a state university and a city school in a town of almost one hundred thousand, had its back door kicked wide open in broad daylight one beautiful November morning.  After discovering the raid on all of our portable electronics when I returned for lunch and calling 911, I waited (wondering if the looters were truly finished or would reappear) for an hour… whereupon a lone officer—a young woman who seemed to be on her first assignment—took a quick stroll through the main hall and then asked me if I’d interviewed the neighbors.  Not exactly the protocol that The First 48 had led me to expect.

So… do I get to register offense if you not only tee up my wife and me for murder by home-invaders, but call us Nazis because we want a six-shot piece handy to give us a chance?  No, I’m out of order.  I don’t belong to an “offense-eligible” class.

Actually, I get offended all the time by the maniacally violent movie-teasers with which I’m assaulted while trying to watch an episode of Expedition Unknown before bed.  Curious and ironic, isn’t it, that the very people who want me utterly disarmed also grind out an incessant stream of sadistic claptrap glorifying counter-conformist, bullet-spraying outlaws.  I don’t watch movies.  I haven’t paid to see a film since we took our son (in early youth) to Wallace and Grommet and the Wer-Rabbit.  What offends me, I emphasize, is the twenty second blitz on my evening’s peace by punks waving guns in people’s faces, shooting off smart-ass remarks, skidding cars over bridges, and disrobing women on the kitchen counter.  It all happens too fast even for me to sit up and grab the remote stick (which does everything but probate your will).  Why do I have to put up with this?  It’s offensive.

Too bad.  Any offense I register is deserved.  I belong to the “unoffendable class”.

The new series of Sling commercials offends me in a different way.  These silly skits obviously bank upon the viewer’s being versed enough in street lingo to catch some allusion to “swing” or “swinging”: I’m supposed to guffaw, that is, as the idiot male starts to strip while other people in the room are watching Sling on TV.  Takes me back to my first days teaching high school, when you couldn’t use the word “come” because it had some connection to coitus.  I don’t turn the box on for a few minutes in order to be transported back into the world of eighth-grade bathroom stalls.  I’m offended.

So deal with it.  No one cares.

—But the #MeToo movement demands that every male behave like Beau Brummell… and this kind of humor…

—You don’t have any sense of humor, man. Your ignorance of the urban dictionary is really tedious.  Nobody cares about your dead Puritan white guy hang-ups.  We’ll tell you when to laugh and when to turn to stone. So watch for the cues. Otherwise, just f— off!

I’ve spent too much time in this column’s space, perhaps, chronicling my irritation at how the Confederacy is portrayed in popular culture.  The vast majority of Southern soldiers owned no slaves, the Emancipation Proclamation did not liberate slaves held in Northern states, miscegenation laws existed in the South rather than the North because (as Tocqueville and others remark) a Northerner would not ever have dreamed of so “degrading” a union… Richard Robert O’Madden witnessed a budding riot when he was observed attending mass with black Catholics in New York City two decades before the Civil War, which was itself a looting expedition that left blacks and whites alike destitute throughout Virginia and the Carolinas… but no, but no, I’m all wrong again.  Southerners are bigots and racists.  The war was fought only so that these redneck degenerates might keep their slaves: even Glenn Beck insists upon this staple of Hollywood historicizing, and hits his period hard.

So… take your Southern-fried offended feelings and shove them, buddy.  We’re tearing down all those racist statues and purging all those racist names from school books—except as examples of racism.  The KKK march in Charlottesville showed all of you for what you are.  We don’t care about your objections, about your counter-arguments and documented evidence.  You don’t belong to that class.

And who, exactly, belongs to the “offense-eligible” class?  Women and blacks, of course—but not black women whose politics are wrong, like Mia Love and Candace Owens; gays, lesbians, and “trans” people—but not those like Milo Yiannopoulos and Tammy Bruce whose politics are wrong; any religious people whose faith claims only a small minority in a Christian society—but not those like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser and Dr. Qanta Ahmed whose politics are wrong.  Politics, it appears, plays a decisive role.  Why, you can even be a white male born of Angles and Saxons yet enjoy protected status if your politics is proper.  You might feel Cherokee or African today, and you can always declare yourself representative of an undiscovered gender.

Are you laughing?  Were you once laughing, perhaps, as a boy of fifteen?  Then we’ll have your carcass.  The Turner boy’s career was almost ruined in a trice, though his public apologies were so abject that he seems to have earned probation.  Martinez’s fate is probably secure just because Boston’s hope of a pennant hangs heavily upon him.  These fellows, you will have noticed, are not public figures in any sense that might affect policy.  They have not even been engaged in that celebrity advocacy of political positions so familiar in Tinseltown.  All the better to make the point, to transmit the message: “Don’t you cross us.  Don’t you dare even joke about us—even as a child.  All you children, watch closely if you want to survive as adults.  We closed up all the shops on that side of the street.  We can do your side, too, if you don’t give us the free choice of your merchandise when we walk in.”

This is definitive thuggery.  Are there enough adults with vertebral columns left to tell these punks to stop waving their guns?

The Weaponizing of Hurt Feelings (Part Two)

I have entitled these two pieces “the weaponizing of hurt feelings” because the aggrieved “snowflake” turns out also to serve on a kind of SWAT team.  Once you’re accused of being insensitive to race or gender or an alien culture, you have no defense, no recourse, and no opportunity even to present your side of the issue.  You are instantly guilty as charged.  (Sexual harassment law is indeed written in these terms.) The mere perception by one of the “offended” class—a person of color, a woman or gay or transgender, a Latino, a Muslim, an atheist—that you may not be one hundred percent “down for the struggle” suffices to convict you of major thought crimes.  Now you can only go belly-up and present your throat to the predator’s teeth.  Perhaps your life will be spared after your body is mildly savaged… but the terms of such clemency require that you remain forever more in a default position of worthless, despicable offender caught red-handed and shame-faced.

That the female enjoys particularly ready access to these weapons is obvious to anyone who has recently picked through the mine fields of Academe—but detonations may be heard far beyond the hallowed halls of ivy.  The #MeToo movement has already terminated many a career.  Most of the condemned deserved the firing squad, from what I can tell; yet the method of trial and execution remains disturbing to me.  The candidacy of Herman Cain was picked off a few years ago by dubious accusations that were never verified—and the Anita Hill attack on Clarence Thomas was a kind of sniping-school rehearsal for the ambush several decades earlier.

These cases were especially interesting because the sex of the accusers appeared to trump the race of the accused.  As much rhetorical ammunition as the Left has expended in arguing that we gun-and-Bible clingers continue to practice our old-time racist ways unrepentant, it is yet more invested in the notion that women are constantly abused and enslaved.  Judge Thomas was charged with having stacks of Playboy Magazine awkwardly displayed in his apartment, and Cain with having suggestively offered a job-applicant a ride to her hotel: such “horrors” (if they ever really happened) were supposed to concern us more than a black couple’s not being able to secure a home loan.

So who am I to undervalue the magnitude of such atrocities? The male has no right whatever to rate the trauma created by offensive incidents; their victims may be veritable Auschwitz survivors in their own minds, for all he knows.  Assume the supine posture, present your jugular, and shut the **** up.

If this isn’t the equivalent of being visited by the thug-enforcers of a “protection” racket in a Thirties ghetto and having your storefront rearranged, then I’m at a loss for a better parallel. Those men whose reputations and careers lie in ruins beneath the #MeToo movement’s juggernaut would probably have preferred to get off with a broken arm or a few shattered ribs. And while I do not condone their behavior—while I of all men, who lived my youth holding doors open, surrendering chairs in crowded rooms, and declining offers of one-night stands, have earned a title to deplore and condemn male coarseness—I also smell the rat of self-serving manipulation in certain cases. Women who don’t want their fanny pawed shouldn’t wear tight-fitting dresses into crowded ballrooms full of egomaniacs. Women who don’t want eyes leering at their breasts shouldn’t sport low cleavages where alcohol is liberally flowing. Women who don’t want to be chased around the furniture shouldn’t retreat with the producer to his bachelor penthouse. To call forth a man’s baser impulses and then sue him for a quarter of his net worth because he failed to resist… is that so very unlike snapping a photo of some politician in a compromising position with a “plant” and then blackmailing him for a crucial vote? Do you see how these indignant protests can uncomfortably approximate the tactics of the Mob?

If today’s woman is indeed so readily offended, maybe she should make the burqa part of her wardrobe. As a matter of fact, while pondering these issues, I have begun to discern a prickly similarity between the passive aggression of the “hurt feelings bomb” smuggled into our classrooms and boardrooms and the suicide bomber of radical Islam. How else to explain the seemingly nonsensical solidarity that leftwing causes like avant-garde feminism manifest for proponents of Sharia law… how else, but by recognizing the ambition of both to blow up stable, rational social structures?

For there is much passive aggression in most terrorist acts, too: this is another paradox that has nagged at me for years. I could almost agree with the smattering of ill-advised Democrats who professed admiration for the “courage” of the 9/11 murderers: they did, after all, kill themselves as well as thousands of innocents. Yet suicide isn’t so very gutsy, especially when you force others through the exit along with you. I myself knew plenty of alienation as an adolescent. My school days were a daily hell—and, in what would activate a flashing red alarm today, my budding masculinity sought a significant refuge in black-powder revolvers. I learned not only to become a fairly good shot, but also to melt lead and mold Minié balls. Never for the fraction of an instant, however, did I so much as idly fantasize about turning a muzzle on the rudest of my classmates. To my mind, such an act would have justified their contempt for me. I would have demonstrated that I was truly the lowest of the low: a spineless, murderous coward. If I entertained any silly adolescent fantasy at all, it was that I would step up and save the lives of those who would happily have watched me drop dead, they cringing and sniveling and I advancing to meet the threat head-on.

So how could these young men of our new century who crave a manly exit have hit upon such a vile means of defying the world and commemorating their misunderstood lives? How can suicide bombers be such loathsome, wimpy back-shooters—and how can the mass-murderers of Columbine and the authors of all subsequent campus atrocities, slaughtering helpless targets with the ease of snuffing out fish in a barrel, have supposed that they were leaving behind a manly mark? Are these not “feminized boys” seeking vainly a brief and final passage to manhood? With their irremediably hurt feelings and their one-way vengeance upon offenders without any defense, they seem to me a very odd and late development in our global epidemic of moral chaos. These boys aren’t acting at all like men. Why don’t they understand that?

Why don’t young women understand that it’s not sensitive to be over-sensitive—that obsession with one’s own feelings, almost to the exclusion of allowing anyone else to feel, is the very opposite of sensitivity and, indeed, the emulation of uncivilized masculinity?

Is the objective of the progressive female to transform herself into the worst kind of male? Is the destiny of progressivism’s haphazardly produced males to imbibe the most untutored qualities of a primitive femininity?

And as for suicide, as I wander back to that worst single hour I ever passed in a classroom… is it not significant that the very word is now the subject of a taboo, and that to scorn suicide as cowardly is no less forbidden and anathematic than denouncing abortion as human sacrifice?

The Weaponizing of Hurt Feelings (Part One)

It’s no longer at all original to comment upon the “snowflakes” among us: terminally spoiled late adolescents symptomatic of our lobotomized college community with their demands for safe spaces, comfort animals, and freedom from threatening speech.  I have chronicled more times than a faithful reader would care to recall my personal run-in with these anemic ghosts of intellectual limbo.  My casual use of the word “suicide” compromised an advanced class in English grammar for the rest of the semester, and in some ways the cloud never cleared between me and the “affected” students.  Naturally, I understand that there are many more severe cases cropping up everywhere.  A petition is circulating around the University of Toronto to dismiss Jordan Peterson from his position, not because of what he has said, but because of what he refuses to say: the nonsensical, idly concocted pronoun “ze”.

So there are certain things we must not say lest they have distressing connotations for someone somewhere; and then there are certain things we must say, because not to say them is to imply a disapproval that makes certain people “feel hurt”.  If I’m teaching a Latin class and a need for the word “black” arises, I had better opt for the poetic ater instead of the commonplace niger—or else I risk ending my career (which, mercifully, has now in fact ended).

Say that the Green Movement should decide that everyone must wear a green streak down his/her/zits left sleeve to show “solidarity with the planet” (whatever the hell that would mean—these phrases never mean anything coherent); then I must produce a green streak on the proper sleeve.  If I wear none, then I want to see us all poisoned.  If I streak my right sleeve, then I’m mocking the movement and giving the bird to the endangered Horned Owl.  If I’m a woman in a sleeveless dress (or a man who feels like wearing such a dress that day), then I’d better reconsider… or, at the very least, paint a green streak down my bare epidermis.

Not to salute at the moment scripted for the masses to salute is fatal.  Not to give the right salute is fatal.  To salute close-mouthed, without voicing the party’s condensed two-syllable slogan, is fatal (for cameras are rolling somewhere, and you will be detected).  To move one’s mouth for the cameras without actually saying anything might prove fatal (for party loyalists on either side of one might quickly become a lynch mob of righteous zealotry).

This is our brave new world.  Notice how I have already veered from the passive to the aggressive. The wilting cringe that follows when Cisalpine Gaul reminds young Chelsea over there of “kiss”, which reminds her of a bad date, which reminds her of how cruel the male sex is… the neurotic wave-effect of such occasions, I say, has now become a phalanx of clenched fists demanding the ban of the word “he” from campus.  Our fading flower, in other words, has mutated into a prickly cactus—and even into one of those tropical fly-catching plants that snaps up whatever haplessly buzzes in its vicinity.

I’m sure that this insight, too, isn’t terribly original… but it hadn’t really occurred to me until this past week, or at least had only been fuming in the beaker without crystallizing.  Psychologically, you see, it has really thrown me back on my heels.  I’ve known plenty of spoiled-brat kids who can’t face up to worldly realities—but I would never have fused their profile with that of the foul-mouthed, brick-throwing “revolutionary”.  A feminist might say that I have been held captive by my prejudices, and she/he/ze might be right.  I conceive of the wilting flower as overwhelmingly female and the fecal-friendly Yahoo as overwhelmingly male.  My recent experiences of being called an “idiot” by people I don’t know on Twitter seem to bear this out.  Male Twitterbirds like to shower those beneath their tree with deposits of “idiot”, “stupid”, and “stupid idiot” before passing on to words that I can’t reproduce here.  The female of the species seems much more likely to accuse one of enslaving or slaughtering millions with one’s views, like the aiai oimai wailing chorus of a Euripidean tragedy.

Yet having said this, I also sense a change.  Let us stay with Twitter for a moment.  Dana Loesch, who has put herself squarely in the crosshairs of the leftwing intimidation machine by defending the Second Amendment, receives almost daily threats upon herself and her family… but largely of the veiled variety, when they come from ostensible males.  Her children will be forever reviled and ostracized, she is told—or else her opponent in this “community forum” expresses the pious hope that her kids will be attending the next school to be shot up.  As I say, these passive threats come from what biology would be forced to call the male of the species.  To the female fall the pleasures of showering Dana with the linguistic spittle of a drunken sailor.  “Comedians” like Samantha Bee and Michelle Wolf (I couldn’t pick either of them from a line-up, but their voices appear to resonate for some reason) unleash comments—usually about other women—that blend sexual obscenity with coprology and fifth-grade narrative talent.  A really badly reared and socially stunted adolescent boy is the typical author of such utterances, in my experience… but now they flow from publicly celebrated female figures, and other females in the chatter-class cheer them on.

Has the morbidly vulnerable sensitive plant, then, interbred with the hell-raising sociopath because we have inverted gender roles—not erased them, but inverted them?  The more I think about this formula, the more justified it appears to me: not because I understand it at this point, but because it describes what I see.  The flurry of female ruffled feathers in my grammar class didn’t project any inclination to tears or deep, silent pouts.  These were killer-sparrows from an Alfred Hitchcock nightmare.  A rational explanation on my part wasn’t enough.  An abject apology (which I didn’t offer—not for a remark no more hurtful than, “You could have knocked me dead”) wouldn’t have been enough.  Upon reflection, I think the terms of the truce would have run something like this: “You agree hereafter that you are a person of diminished sensibilities who will continue to utter offensive remarks despite yourself, and who will therefore stand in constant need of our sufferance.  We agree, for our part, to tolerate you only to the extent that you admit to the moral inferiority inherent in your nature.”

Or, to put it a little more succinctly, “Shut up!  No, don’t open your mouth to explain.  Are you trying to speak?  What did I just tell you?  Shut up!  SHUT THE **** UP!”

This is how educated young women, increasingly, are “interacting” with their adversaries in public.  It’s been going on a while.  I’m only now, I confess, reading the copy of Professing Feminism that Daphne Patai sent me about twenty years ago… and the book is full of such incidents in Women’s Studies programs of the late Eighties and early Nineties.  Perhaps my comfortable exile in the backwaters of academe insulated me at that time.  Now the piranhas have swum upstream and populated every puddle.

Meanwhile, “men” are copying the feminine style of grievance and victimhood ever more often.  Even school shooters are turning out to claim intolerable bullying as a motivation.  The Mahdi of the anti-gun holy war is David Hogg, holding his slender feminine fist aloft and leading curious chants about defenselessness.  “Protect us!  We cannot protect ourselves, and we shouldn’t have to!  We won’t endure this vulnerability any longer!  We’ve had enough!  Put down all your guns and make us feel safe… or we’ll write down your name and make your life hell on earth!”

And thereafter follows an online shaming and slandering campaign that would lead a less stalwart, more adolescent character than Dana Loesch to… commit suicide.

In the not-too-distant future, will there be a David Hogg shooting the stuffing out of an NRA convention?  Hasn’t that already happened—didn’t something in the genre occur in Las Vegas?  We know that Stephen Paddock was a leftwing-fringe type who thought that Country Music and NASCAR fans needed to die in large numbers.  How different is this from the Hogg message?

So the offended people are now out for blood… and the blood-soaked mass-murderers are now victims of hurt feelings.  I’m not at all sure what’s going on here—but I’m certain that it’s insane, and I’m convinced that it is a manifestation of genuine evil.  I’ll try to parse it a little better next time.  For now, I can do no better than extend Jordan Peterson’s observation.  Forcing me to say or write certain words and never say or write certain others is an implicit species of violence, and not a normal expression of wounded sensibility.  Choosing words carefully is what you do in a civil society; demanding that others banish Word X from their thoughts because it clashes with your subjective vision of harmony is maniacal despotism.

(Since I will be preoccupied with the chore of moving from one state to another throughout this coming week, I’ll post Part Two tomorrow and then go silent for a while.)

Another Slaughter of Children—Another Round of Staged Whining

I wanted my next post to pursue the reactions that I registered during my Denver trip, and I have something all ready to go for tomorrow.  Another high school shooting has intruded into our shared world, however—we who share nothing any more but some real estate on a certain planet—and I need to clear my mind.

More “ban the guns” chanting from the Left, which is too dishonest (among its elite architects) or too stupid (among its tail-wagging minions) to admit that the endgame here is an irresistible centralized authority with an Obama-style “national police force”… more “paid shills of the Nazi NRA” baiting of anyone who proposes a serious analysis of the problem… more staged “how many of our children have to die?” whining from the crowd whose favorite comics and sitcoms joke about slaughtering babies in the womb…

I’m so sick of this.

Here are my questions.  Primo: how does a kid wearing a trench coat on a humid 90-degree Houston morning walk into a high school unchecked in 2018?  How in hell could that ever happen?

Secundo: why do idiot legislators in places like California and Boulder, Colorado, continue to brandish the mean-nothing phrase “assault rifle” in cases like this, where the murders were apparently perpetrated with a shotgun and a pistol (snitched from their legal owner)?  May we not at least converge upon sufficient coherence in this “debate” to admit that the gun designation du jour is arbitrary, and that the real target is every gun in private possession?  This sorry little prick also planned to ignite a number of bombs—but that atrocity, if successful, would likewise not have shifted the tone of whining on the Left in any way whatsoever.

Tertio: is it not clear by now that the bad-boy infamy heaped upon these pathetic ghosts of the social-media Limbo actually draws more of them to atrocious action?  The press dedicated to the Parkland, Florida, butchery has not yet subsided, though the same press corps utterly ignored a machete massacre (with killed and wounded numbers around 30 and 100) about a month ago in China’s contested Xinjiang province.  If you were a sociopathic punk who wanted to post a selfie that no one would ever forget, would you drive over twenty cheerleaders in your dad’s pickup, or would you shoot five of them with your dad’s Glock?

Quarto et ultimo: why is “entertainment” a dead issue in these discussions?  I’ve virtually given up on network TV and movies because of the gratuitous violence.  It sickens me beyond my endurance-threshold.  All of my son’s generation, at least among the males, consider Breaking Bad to be a classic.  I’m appalled.  How does a normal human being sit comfortably in his armchair and watch a young woman get executed with a bullet through the back of the head as her gagged lover is forced to look on from a van, on one side, and as her toddler stands in the front doorway, on the other?  This is entertainment?  The weaning of an entire generation on such nihilistic vomit of perverse creativity—on such hard-core pornography of the inner soul—cannot be free of consequences, especially when such “cool” diversions have become the stuff of contemporary tee-shirts and trivia games.

But Brian Cranston, the dark star of this bituminous epic poem, is an outspoken, even virulent anti-gun advocate.  Oh.  I guess all is well, then.

I can’t write any more, unless I am to lapse into a long string of four-letter words.

Playtime in the Asylum: Life on the Left

Yesterday I wrote a piece where I portrayed working in the contemporary university as very like trying to move among the Titanic’s luxuriously dining passengers while she begins to heel over… and being bombarded with scowls if one even hints that something’s amiss.  This insistent mass-denial is definitively infantile behavior—and it characterizes everything happening on the Left today.  One must wonder at some point if leftism is indeed not some pathological kind of clinging to childhood.  I’m going to indulge that wonder at length now.

Back when children used to play imaginatively—and play in real space rather than on screens—you’d occasionally have a group pretending that the “jungle gym” was a fort or that a line of blocks represented the solid walls of a house.  Then some twit named Bart would come along and pull at your leg through the gym’s bars, refusing to acknowledge the game’s solid wall, or step over the house’s fanciful brick facade instead of going through the doorway.  The other kids would howl at Bart for breaking the rules… and he would laugh and mock for a minute before going into exile and seeking some new group of kids to alienate.

People on the Left are kids in that imaginary castle… only they’re no longer kids.  They still treat Bart like a dirt-bag anomist… only now he’s a healthy adult who is trying to keep innocents from being maimed or killed.  The declaration of schools as “gun-free zones” is a perfect example.  We’ve created (if we’re leftists) a little space in our minds where no one may bring a gun.  As long as we all play by the rules, the space is indeed safe, and the game goes smoothly.  Then the Shooter steps over the “wall” without coming through the door.  We all scream, “Bart, go away!  Go away!  All right… everybody throw rocks at Bart because he won’t go away!”  In case you haven’t heard, one Pennsylvania school district was briefly equipping its classrooms with buckets of rocks before public derision made it reconsider—this as a strategy to repel a gunman.  You couldn’t make this stuff up.

I’m surprised, frankly, that fourth-graders are not now being rehearsed in the “go away” chant as a strategy to protect their tender lives.  The Left so loves chants—the link back to playground days is so gilded and palpable!  “Shooter, shooter, go away!  Don’t come back another day!”  Now that, for my money, would have a probability of success at least equal to issuing buckets of tot-sized stones.  (And there’s no chance that those would pose a temptation to little fingers during a normal school day, is there?) Any sane adult would realize that a child would become an instant target once he chucked a rock at a psycho (and most children would realize as much, too: just to be sure, I’d advise my child to circle around to the door while the poor little idiots were chunking pebbles).  But the chant… if the whole group tried the chant, led by their Joan Baez-throwback homeroom teacher, the bad guy might die laughing.

In all seriousness, this is the answer to the question often asked by conservatives, “Why do they hate us so much on the Left?”  They hate you because you’re Bart; or, to be exact (since we’re now talking about adults), they hate you because you are the father.  Fathers make sons and daughters behave.  The last two generations, especially on the Left, have grown up without responsible fathers.  Deadbeat dads abandoned Mom (perhaps several of them for any given mom), and she filled her children’s ears with reproaches of men.  Occasionally a new dad would come along who would give the kiddies anything, just to find a way to Mom’s heart (and her bed); and then there was Real Dad, AWOL when it came to imposing discipline but quick to load the kids with goodies every other weekend just to plant the thought in their tiny skulls that Mom was a villain for ever making them do anything.

With the dismantling of the nuclear family (as per the Frankfurt School’s radical playbook), we now have people reaching biological maturity who have all the emotional poise and objectivity of a six-year-old.  And their politics are progressive.  They want, they need… and everyone who stands in their way with the warning, “No, reality doesn’t work that way,” is a hateful brute who ruins the game by not pretending that the fluffy white cloud is a castle.  If only everyone would agree—if only everyone could be made to agree—that those cumulus columns are turrets, then we could all inhabit Disneyworld forever.  Yet men—not males per se, but adult men who are or would willingly be responsible fathers—keep getting in the way, insisting on guards that carry those ugly, hideous, evil firearms!  “Guns, guns, go away….”

On another day, I could extend this bridge to the hatred of Christianity and relative affection for Islam on the Left: the loathing, that is, of The Father who lays down loving rules to channel growth, and the paradoxical swooning for The Sheik who imposes his rebellious naughty-boy fantasies and forcibly sweeps everyone (but especially females) into it.

Enough to say here, in conclusion, that there is a kind of destiny working in our present decline.  As we have prospered materially, we have created an ever thicker buffer between ourselves and hard realities.  As that buffer has grown thicker, we have been able to prolong childish illusions ever further.  And, of course, as our illusions grow ever more numerous and durable, our survival as a society grows ever more precarious.  Prosperity has destroyed us, as it almost inevitably must do to such fallen creatures as we are.

When leftism plays out this fatal cycle by elevating homicidal tyrants to the seat of authority (as it has already done repeatedly over the past century), then our adult-children will at last find out—too late—what it’s really like to live in a tightly controlled space without personal defenses.