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?

Advertisements

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.

Easter Thoughts: Does Hell Exist?

I’m not a “high church” guy these days, if I ever was.  I’m certainly less inclined to Catholicism than I was in my youth; and if I were Catholic today, I would likely be very tempted to walk away from the Church.  The Supreme Pontiff has not a little to do with that aversion.  Pat Buchanan has lately written that Pope Francis seems destined to create an enduring schism among the Roman faithful, and some lifelong Catholics are charging that this Pope is the Antichrist.  He doesn’t hesitate to weigh in on issues that have nothing whatever to do with his scholarly expertise or moral understanding, as in his promoting the exploitative crusade to ban guns spearheaded by our sheltered “safe zone” teens.  (Modest estimates put the annual cost in lives, should the Second Amendment be repealed, in the vicinity of the entire Vietnam War’s—though it’s hard to calculate how many people escape death thanks to a Smith & Wesson’s appearing at just the right moment.)  Yet on matters like the propriety of transgenderism, about which Christian doctrine is both long established and wholly coherent, the papal response is, “Who am I to judge?”

All of that said, I am going to make a case this Easter morning for why Hell is an ultimate irreality, as Francis is reported to have opined in private recently (and has coyly backed away from publicly without issuing an actual denial).  I must say first off that I’m appalled by the number of purportedly conservative mouthpieces who have retorted, “Well, if there’s no Hell, then there’s no reason to seek salvation”—as if the motive for desiring a closer approach to God were really a terror of the shadows at one’s shoulders.  If you read Shakespeare’s collected works because I’m holding you hostage and feeding you only when I see you turning pages, then you’re hardly a bibliophile.

God is all good, and we must believe that He does no evil and could create nothing evil.  (As for His ordering the slaughter of women and children—and livestock, too, just to make it a clean sweep—at times in the Old Testament, you may make of this what you will; I know what I must call it.)  Now, evil exists in this world… so has God therefore not created all that is?  He has.  But evil does not ultimately exist, any more than the other illusions of this world.  Shadows do not exist as material objects—you cannot trap one, bottle one, or stroke one.  Yet during certain long hours of our terrestrial day, there is nothing around us but shadow.

Or consider it from this angle: the practical angle, if you will—the point of view of a sixty-four-year-old man who has seen people at most of their not-so-good moments.  What happens to desperate characters?  They rarely get punished by human laws—not if they’re really good at being bad.  (“The big thieves are arresting the little one,” once quipped Diogenes.)  I know what happens to them: I’ve seen it.  They have themselves.  Having spent their adult life usurping God’s role and creating a universe just to the dimensions of their whimsy—X millions of population making X income per capita with X children per household, Y mandatory visits to state doctors and Y years in state education camps, Z police watching over them to “protect them”—these fantastical egomaniacs arranging their human ant farms end up in a tight, impenetrable cocoon of Self.  They are clinical sociopaths to start with; their dead souls eventually ossify and permanently relegate them to a “safe zone” of utter non-being—a place where any contact with reality and with outward-reaching souls is impossible.

This is what I find so grimly sobering about no-longer-children shaking their raised fists in fascistic salutes to the cause of forcing behavior patterns down people’s throats: I see little “ant-farmers” in the making, eager to assign prison or execution to those who stand in the way of their utopia.  And, no, Pope Francis has not taken the side of reason and free exchange against the goose-stepping utopians, so I am not, alas, in effective agreement with him about anything here.

Yet the evil ones do disappear.  They do not burn in a real Hell.  They define nothingness by dwelling where no vibrant soul can dwell; and in being forever separated from God, they suffer an indescribable anguish beyond any torture of physical flames.  Each is them is a madman trapped for eternity in a labyrinthine hall of mirrors, his own lunacy facing him at every turn, visions of lunacy awaiting him whenever he attempts escape by shutting his eyes.

These days, whenever I hear words like “change”, “meaningful change”, “progress”, “a better future”, and “not good enough”, I catch a hubristic scent of fire and brimstone in my nostrils.  I sense the presence of the void—of that which is not.  But, you protest, the Christian faith is all about change… well, yes and no.  It is about the opportunity of individual souls to return to the self-effacing wonder and joy in elevating mystery that characterize a little child.  One might say that it is about changing back to our Edenic state, about coming home, after a fruitless trek through the surrounding desert. God All Good no doubt made us this way because we cannot appreciate—with mind and spirit, with intellect and imagination—the infinite possibilities of what is until we fill our mouths with a bitter ash of our own arrogant concoction: what is not.  And in this, let us recognize that He did well.  Reality is vivified and deepened when infused with sentient participants who embrace it.  That some, perhaps many or most, prefer a squalid pit of ash wherein they alone rule is not an excessive cost to pay for such an awakening; for life within the ashes does not really exist.

If what I have written today takes the side of Pope Francis against his detractors, then I am happy to lend a hand.  The truth, however, knows no sides, in truth.  The road goes straight, and we fools tumble off it where we may.

Cashing in on Grief for a “Better Tomorrow”: More Than a Little Sick

Love! his affections do not that way tend;
Nor what he spake, though it lack’d form a little,
Was not like madness. There’s something in his soul,
O’er which his melancholy sits on brood…

Hamlet III.i.163-166

It was almost exactly a year ago that a “shooting incident” struck my institution… sort of.  The alarm turned out to be false: someone had dropped a book down a stairwell, and hyperactive imaginations with no real-world experience of a gunshots phoned in the “active shooter” report.  What followed was a fiasco.  Some trembling functionary or other entered my class, interrupted my lecture, and communicated to me in whispers that we needed to evacuate at once.  The hush-hush attitude as we urged students to leave their books and file outdoors “in an orderly fashion” was meant to avert panic, I suppose.  In fact, it naturally induced everyone to picture the worst-case scenario.  Fingers worked feverishly on iPhones.  A few women were almost in tears.

I myself started walking home from the parking lot (having previously gathered up my books as I was advised not to do).  Others told me later that somebody with a bull horn ordered them into an auditorium.  Really stupid idea.  What shooter would have any success trying to run down targets in a vast sea of cars?  But if even a single entry to a crowded interior space were improperly secured… fish in a barrel.

Obviously, there was no coherent plan.  (The original evacuation certainly contradicted the instructions for lockdown posted at every classroom’s door.)  What with the eventual arrival of state troopers by the dozen, all in riot gear and with weapons drawn, I suppose you could say that the event was traumatic for many.

But there was no shooter.  And here I will extend an observation to the Parkland shooting a month ago: for the vast majority of students, the trauma grew out of initial panic and later confirmation that seventeen students had been slain… but more out of the former than the latter.  You’re shocked when you hear that a friend has died in a car wreck—but life on earth is made of such shocks.  Whatever special trauma was stirred into the situation for most came from the mounting suspicion that this wasn’t just another fire drill.

Most students were not shot at.  Quite a few would not personally have known any of the victims in so large a high school.  Nobody who “looked down the bore of the shooter’s rifle” would have been upright to tell Marco Rubio, mere hours later, that his presence inspired the same sensation.

I don’t recall the student’s name who uttered that fatuously theatrical remark on national television, and I’m not going to look it up.  He doesn’t deserve the publicity.  There seem to be two, in fact, whose youthful mugs keep occupying our screens with the same “scolding nanny” look of prophetically monomaniacal dedication.  They’re beginning to annoy me.  I say here and now that their response is an affront to anyone who truly wishes to grieve.  Their immediate and highly rehearsed—sometimes even slur-laced—diatribes are not the normal reaction of someone who has met mortality head-on around a tight corner.  We’re so insulated from life in our various artificial alternatives to it that we no more know the face true mourning wears than we know how to distinguish between a gunshot and a falling book.  A mourner looks into the void.  He has no words… and then too many.  He asks God why the horror happened, why it happened to this one and not that one, and why anyone—in the dark dawn of such nonsense—should believe that there IS a god.  He becomes profane, perhaps.  He rambles.  He remembers.  He weeps.  He shouts furiously and incoherently, accusing the clock for not running backward.

He doesn’t uncork cool, sarcastic indictments of the NRA and its lobbying activities.

This is crap.  I’m sorry, but these two over-exposed young brats have been fed with it by their parents and other handlers… and now they’re spewing it back on cue.  That’s all I see.  Call me insensitive to the grieving process: I’ll see you and raise you in that game, because you’re being inconsiderate of true grief by indulging such a charade.

One more thing—and this is perhaps the main thing.  I have written often before that people opposed to the murder of adolescents in schools should also be opposed to the murder of babies in the womb.  This past month has led me to recognize my error: there is, in fact, no inconsistency of position here.  My confusion arose from identifying  the sentiments expressed with a concern for individual lives.  No such concern exists in the progressive mind.  To make an omelet, you have to break some eggs.  Specifically, X millions of fetuses must die so that, at long last, we may have a society freed of the nuclear family’s retrograde influence.  The state must guarantee women the right to “evacuate” the consequences of rash sexual behavior rather than draw men into a tangle of personal responsibility and investment in the future.  When and if a woman decides to bear a child, the state will raise that child.  Fathers are not needed.  Mothers, indeed, may soon be unneeded as the blueprint grows more Huxleyan.

In the same way, I have done the anti-gun crusade an injustice in assuming that its minions do not imagine scenarios where a woman must endure a brutal rape or a parent cower with the children behind a flimsy door as home invaders rifle the premises.  The gun-banners don’t lack imagination: they just don’t care.  Their imagination is riveted on the higher vision of a futuristic society where only uniformed, designated enforcers carry deadly weapons.  To get from here to there, yes, many women will have to be savaged helplessly and many children abducted and sold into slavery or murdered for the joy of bloodletting.  That’s how you make an omelet.  Eventually, as more and more guns are rounded up and more and more malefactors forcibly donate their sick brains to science, Earth’s one society will make a great leap forward.  Next stop: Mars.

That hard, unblinking stare of the smooth-browed, slick-haired snot who has now become the poster child for firearm round-up says it all: “You egotistical self-defenders deserve to die.  You’re standing in the way of progress!”

Where Dusk Turns Night: The Moral Putrefaction That Infects Utopianism

In recent weeks, I have thought more and more about what I can only call the “spiritual vector”.  It seems that we are surrounded by so very many people telling us that they are so very good and we so very naughty or depraved… they want to throw open our borders to the poor while we Scrooges want only to hoard our wealth, they want to collect and melt down all firearms while we sadists want only for more children to die in school shootings, they want to liberate women and finance the health care and education of minorities while we patriarchalists want only to keep women pregnant in the kitchen and minorities scrubbing toilets and mowing lawns.  We’re bad, so bad… and they are so very good—oh, is even Heaven worthy of them?

This level of hypocrisy has gnawed away at many of us for years, and even decades.  The open-borders multiculturalist professor who gripes incessantly because his students write poor English and his research on Mycenaean tholos tombs is underfunded… the gun-banning crusader for innocent lives who considers the murder of an unborn child tantamount to wart-removal and turns abusive if the word “baby” appears… the woman-and-minority rights advocate who insists that all the sisters must abjectly “vote their genitals” and that all people of color are genetically too unpromising to make their own way… the list’s could grow by dozens with a moment’s reflection.  If Heaven is populated by such whited sepulchers, I’ll take the other place.

Only in the past few weeks, however, has it occurred to me that something significantly directional distinguishes the humble person of faith from the fire-eating utopian.  Faith draws the spirit outward in constant efforts of clarification and qualification—a challenging, intimate struggle with surrounding realities; theatrical self-righteousness draws everything inward like a black hole to orbit a narcissistic core.  The believer finds and expresses his individuality by channeling his conviction through daily opportunities that exact compromises or require courageous declarations; the spiritual poseur strikes an inflexible posture, as before a mirror (or, these days, a lens framing a “selfie”), and demands that reality arrange itself into appropriate background.  Guns, for instance, must be categorically hideous things whose complete abolition is the only morally tenable stance.  If their use were nuanced (as, say, in the defense of children from psychopaths), then our Saint would not show forth with such éclat.  Resistance to the minimum wage can only be processed as overt racism and class warfare.  If the real-life economic catastrophe posed to blue-collar workers by such thoughtless rigidity were weighed, this would-be personification of society’s moral conscience would have no prancing charger from whose saddle to strike a Napoleonic pose.

In its most elemental form, we see here the wicked delirium of playing God.  The utopian seeks to recreate the human universe just as he would like it to be—just in the fashion that puts him, with his superior moral lights, securely at the summit, handing down laws to Moses and the children, thundering away when he is disobeyed.

A sincere believer is probably distressed that guns exist—but he recognizes an overriding interest in preserving through deadly force the lives of innocents, who must not be left exposed to the mercies of a lunatic ready to harvest them with the joy of a wanton grump whacking down roses with his cane.  For that matter, the believer understands that objects in wild nature, though not endowed with free will, should not be destroyed merely to create an amusement park or a speedier bypass; for the soul profits from acknowledging its partnership with the rest of creation and from sensing the imaginative outpouring that we call aesthetic perception.  To ruin things that stir us just to put more cash in our pockets or to save our lazy bodies five minutes of walking is ignoble and degrading.  A lot of self-styled believers spend too little time reflecting upon this.

But is our Saint Utopian any better off?  I saw two unrelated documentaries last month that portrayed the same shocking variety of self-absorption in different venues.  In one case, protesters were insisting (in the streets and at well-funded conferences) that lions, rhinos, and elephants must be allowed to roam free throughout Africa.  In their incalculable ignorance, they obviously did not know that such creatures would starve themselves into oblivion in their already imbalanced ecosystem if not managed—and, of course, there was no detectable awareness of the stresses placed upon the continent’s burgeoning human population.  In the second case, an equal ignorance was fueling a vigorous lobbying effort to let mustangs range free throughout the American Southwest.  Yet mustang numbers are already so excessive that mass starvations occur regularly, while dozens of plant and other animal species are also imperiled by locust-like over-grazing.

Doesn’t matter.  These zealots have their full reward when they pack up their placards to retreat to Olive Garden in the evening or repair to the hotel bar after the day’s final conference paper.  They are better than you and I: more caring, more animated, more “woke”.  The very animals or people on whose behalf they make endless noise (as others of us work for a living) will likely suffer further—if not die—should their protests effect “meaningful change”.  None of that matters.  The mission is, and always was, to establish their moral superiority.  Mission accomplished.

At some point, naive souls foolishly misled into this maelstrom of egotism must either lose their innocence or paddle out of the whirlpool upon recognizing it as a death trap.  At some point, error morphs into evil.  A person whose life is dedicated to a kind of perpetual “selfie” is a corrupt being from whom no good can be expected.  I could float several theories about why such beings are among us today in such abundance.  Perhaps the electronic lifestyle itself is largely at fault, drawing us deeper into the service of mere appearance—the utterly artificial existence of the supporting actor tossing on something from the wardrobe chest and mouthing a few cliché lines.  Or perhaps the steady accumulation of our sins—our history of hook-ups, abortions, slanders, betrayals, and cowardly flights—has left us (certain ones among us) suffering from so severe a self-respect deficit that we crave an instant and constant infusion of moral superiority.  In this, of course, we only mire ourselves more profoundly in moral squalor.

I grieve for our sick society.  I pity the gullible fools who flirt with lapse into real and abiding wickedness.  I wish I could warn the away from the radioactive company of “God-substitutes” who declare that their own heads are tingling with brave new worlds—and that everyone and everything in the real world must be made to comply if “happiness” is ever to come.  Milton’s Satan is brimming with just such visionary futurism when he looks about Hell and decides that the furniture can be pleasantly rearranged.

We need to recognize this pernicious influence for what it is and mount an effective resistance to it, or else the victims of extermination may include more than equids and pachyderms.