In defense of Lena Dunham??

November 3, 2014

Lena Dunham wrote an autobiography which contained a few disgusting passages, which several people on the Right were disgusted by. Apparently one isn’t allowed to express disgust at a disgusting book (and by extension its disgusting author) or to give free publicity to such a book, because Ms. Dunham has lawyered up. 

Lena, dear, I belong to the generation that invented “letting it all hang out”. (Well, almost; I was old enough to identify with the hippies, but too young to actually be one.). We did creative writing in high school, as I’m sure you did. And being the rebellious and hormonal youth that I was, I pushed the envelope on topics. I had a pricky teacher who called me a pervert for it; I had a nice teacher who politely asked me not to write about those topics, because she didn’t want to read about it. Either way, I learned that one wrote for an audience, that one didn’t always have control over who that audience was, and that the audience would draw its own conclusions, so best to try to look through their eyes. You can draw your own conclusions about whether we masturbated or whether we had siblings in bed with us while we did so, or whether we touched their genitals. But that was nobody else’s business. There was a name for those who wrote about it, and a name for the writings:  pornographers and pornography, respectively.

Our teachers were editors, but they were editing us, not just our work.  That’s out of style; teaching morality, or even teaching how to deal with prevailing morality, is now considered to be too much like religion. But surely you had an editor for this book.  Did she pull you aside and say, “Lena, you’re going to have problems over this passage”? Or did she too see absolutely nothing wrong or even socially questionable with these acts? Or that your life was not “about” this; that it was a distracting side plot, that it was “TMI”? If so, this is not just your kinkery… pace Williamson, you ARE the voice of your generation… and that generation is totally depraved.

Now, if people are going around saying, “Lena Dunham is a child molester”, as opposed to saying, “Lena Dunham molested a child”, then you have a moral case at least.  I’m sure you aren’t molesting children now. (Not that that keeps us from haunting every 18-on-15 lover until death.) I’m a Christian; I worship the God of second chances. But that implies contrition and repentance. You don’t sound contrite at all in the book. And you aren’t contrite now; you’re pissed because people now think ill of you.  If these incidents were good enough for the book, why aren’t you proud of them? Why aren’t you doubling down on your right to examine your sister’s cooch?

You know, Williamson was in some ways harder on your parents than on you. You haven’t come to their defense; are they defendable? It probably never occurred to you to take personal responsibility for your words, or for much of anything else. You appear to have been morally crippled by your upbringing.  I’m sorry that my generation raised the generation that raised you in the way we did. But we can’t change that now. All you can do is fix yourself as best as you can. That’s going to require looking to the past through literature and seeing how others did it, and questioning all the assumptions you grew up with.  You won’t be “the voice of a generation” anymore; you’ll be a voice crying in the wilderness. But you’ll be your own person, which is after all what we most wanted in the ’60s.

This isn’t “smoking in the boy’s room”

June 6, 2014

Today’s text is this description of charming play on the school bus.

I‘m not going to dwell on the humorous aspects of this case, though the female under discussion will live in in(ternet)famy under the sobriquet “Teen LaQueefa”.  (Regrettably, her name has been redacted.). But I’m going to start by observing that she was written up for elbowing the young man in the testicles, not for public indecency. Now, in my younger days of bus riding, using my testicles as a punching bag was a near daily occurrence.  And in my later days, it would have been inconceivable that people would have sex on a school bus.  Not that people weren’t having sex elsewhere (so I’ve been told), but they weren’t having it in public. And had the inconceivable happened, the perps would have found themselves in Juvie (or worse) forthwith… which would have been a mercy given that the girl would have been addressed as “Teen LaQueefa” when she was 80 years old.

I think that most of us at least sense that Ultimate PDA is mala in se. The question is: why?  And this is the place at which rational explanations of morality break down. The agreed-upon societal standard for sexual activity is that if it’s mutually agreed upon and doesn’t involve hiding an HIV status or breaking promises to others, it’s fine. So there’s nothing WRONG with boinking on the bus. It might be RUDE,  in precisely the same senses that spitting on the floor or playing music loudly is. But everyone is rude; so what?

We aren’t animals, or appliances. Sex is sacred; it’s as close as we can come in a physical sense to being God.  But when the sacred doesn’t exist in your world, that doesn’t mean anything. You’re just a cat. And if the bus driver treated you like a cat and sprayed you down with a Super Soaker, he’s the one who’d lose his job for assault.

How we got here, per David Carlin

November 20, 2013

I had to wait for an oil change this morning, so I got aways into David Carlin’s Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.  Of what I read, the most striking chapters were 5-7, which don’t deal with the Church at all, but were the most lucid explanation I have ever seen for how we got to the ’60s, and to our present received truths. Carlin takes sort of a Great Books approach to the debacle, books which held ideas which escaped from academia and entered society in a debased form. Those books and movements are:

1. Cultural relativism ( Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture ; Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa.)

2. Ethical emotivism (A. J. Ayers / Charles Stephenson); antinomianism

3. Suspicion of authority (The Authoritarian Personality, via Erich Fromm, and the Milgram experiment)

I was shocked to realize that most of the intellectual baggage that I’d carried for most of my life, and which many whom I know still carry, had an identifiable pedigree. I might have cracked Mead once. I know that Ayers was discussed in my Intro to Philosophy class in 1977 or 78, but between senioritis and the silliness of Ayers’ proposition, it really hadn’t stuck with me.  Of course I knew of the Milgram experiment, but had never realized the fallacy of equivocation at the heart of it.  Yet the grandchildren of all these works had a profound influence on me (and even the children; Wilhelm Reich’s work can be seen as #3 seasoned with #1).

The point of cultural relativism was that if a moral code worked for a given society, it was just as successful as any other moral code, and that there was no universal set of morals. Indeed, as a young neo-pagan, I believed that other societies’ moral codes might be superior, if they allowed for sufficient amounts of free sex.  And cultural relativism plays into the odd notion that refusing to pay for a strange  American woman’s birth control is a War on Women, but the fate of women in Islamic states is not really a moral issue, because it works for them (at least, if they aren’t women).

In the Ayers/Stephenson formulation, all moral statements are merely statements of feelings, with a persuasive element thrown in. Ultimately, this means “x is right because I want it to be.” Kant said that autonomous morality must be guided/generated by reason, but that implies a reasoning populace, which is not the populace we have.  I was a thoroughgoing Kantian, both as a Wiccan and (insofar as I was one) an Objectivist, but came to the realization that autonomous morality through reason would always be subverted and betrayed by autonomous morality through emotion.  One major problem with this movement is that it makes all discussion of “rights” fundamentally useless. “Rights” are a moral formulation; if one’s rights are determined by one’s morality, and one’s morality by one’s desires, then “I have a right to this” is indistinguishable from “I want this.”, which means that anyone can pull any ‘right” out of their ass  and think it carries as much weight as any other right.

In the theory of the authoritarian personality, there is no model of proper authority. Thus, good is seen as being as far away from the authoritarian mindset as possible: instead of ethnocentrism, forced multiculturalism; for sexual repression, loss of sexual control; for religious dogma, irreligion. Anti-Semitism is also an aspect of the authoritarian personality; ironic, since it is currently most virulent in the Left, which must then be authoritarian.  This was the element that struck me most forcefully. I had never understood the virulent hatred of the Right by the Left, and the portrayal of all non-Leftists as fascists. Under this paradigm, it became quite logical: they literally think we are crazy, mentally disturbed.

There is in Carlin an assumption that it takes 25-30 years for an idea to percolate into common acceptance.  These works all came out in the 30s and 40s.  He mentions Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind (1953) and the founding of National Review (1955) which (though he doesn’t mention this)  flowered into the election of Ronald Reagan by 1980.  Following the pattern, Atlas Shrugged would have set up the establishment of the Libertarian Party in the early 70s. The big LP “coming out” and distribution of the ideas of Rothbard can be defined as the Ed Clark campaign of 1980… which means we would see a popular acceptance of a gutter libertarianism ca. 2005-10, And so it seems to be happening. Now, what is the Big Idea of 1990 which is ready to bite us in the behind or to save us? And how can we, who seek to preserve Western Civilization, unteach the lessons of the last 50 years?

Back to the future

October 31, 2012

So what is this allergy that the Obots have about the 1950s?

This has been a recurring theme in the Obama campaign, and I really don’t understand it. It works because most Americans didn’t live through it and don’t know their history.

1950s: near full employment.  Married women didn’t HAVE to work (but could). Lower crime. Stable families. Much lower rate of divorce and out-of-wedlock births. HIgh point of the Catholic Church in America, and a better time for churches in general. Strong unions that weren’t Communist, and a Democrat Party that was not a wholly-owned subsidiary of the CPUSA. Real money made out of precious metals. Journalists who at least pretended to report. Millions of babies not being murdered in the womb. No War on Poverty programs creating a permanent underclass. A vigorous space program. Mail-order guns. Classical music on commercial TV and radio. Ven. Fulton Sheen. Few chain restaurants.

Negatives: segregation. Restricted access to birth control (not sure that’s a negative, but I’ll give it to them). The Cold War (we have one of those too, only it’s religious). High taxes to pay off WWII. Nightmares about mushroom clouds. More boring (but healthier?) food. The beginning of Richard Nixon’s career. Electric coffeepots that cost as much or more than the modern ones in fixed dollar terms, but brewed less good coffee (they did last longer though).

Technology doesn’t count. No society has ever willingly abandoned a technology, so if Romney takes us “back to the 50s”, we’ll still have Internet, cable, MRIs, etc.

Given that, just why again shouldn’t I regard this as a Romney campaign ad?

Pretty normal, for a Master’s degree

January 25, 2012

How Thick Is Your Bubble?

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Score » 14 out of 20  (70% )

On a scale from 0 to 20 points, where 20 signifies full engagement with mainstream American culture and 0 signifies deep cultural isolation within the new upper class bubble, you scored between 13 and 16.In other words, you don’t even have a bubble.

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Bourgeois Marxism and Folk Marxism

November 29, 2011

Recently, via Ed Driscoll and Stacy McCain, there’s been new attention (in the context of Occupy) to a pair of 5 year old essays by Arnold Kling about “folk Marxism”, that is, the set of working assumptions shared by the general populace that have their roots in the work of Karl Marx.  I’ve had a nearly-congruent concept called “bourgeois Marxism”, so named because one needs to have a certain level of education and income to subscribe to it, and because believers in bourgeois Marxism are nice people who totally ignore the violence required to implement even the mildest of Marxist proposals. They’ll deny that they’re Marxists because they don’t believe in the gulag, yet they are perfectly fine with prison for de jure economic crimes.  They’ll support income redistribution while visiting the entertainments who advertise in the local so-called “alternative newspaper”, even though those businesses rely on surplus income to survive.  “Folk Marxism” is, I think, a broader category in that it deals with fundamental cultural memes more than actions in the world.

Kling mostly focuses on class warfare as a chief manifestation of folk Marxism. But us vs. them has always existed; it’s just that in former times, the nation and the domestic society was always us instead of them, but to the folk Marxist, the United States is them. (to the extent that “the United States” is coterminous with its government, I may share more folk Marxism than I think).  But the manifestations reach deeper, into fundamental moral assumptions about fairness, and broader into Marxism, into the points of the Communist Manifesto.

To take one example, consider #2 of the 10 demands of the Manifesto: “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax. ”  Most Americans believe that a “fair” tax system involves taking a higher percentage of income from “the rich” than from “the poor” (however we define those terms). Both American political parties accept this; Republicans believe that the tax rate of the rich should not be too high, as it might squelch economic growth, while Democrats believe that economic growth is created by the poor having lots of money from the rich to spend. Even the so-called Fair Tax accepts that the poor get a break. In either case, it’s a pragmatic rather than a moral argument, and pragmatically, if you want power, you have to go where the money is. When asked why it is “fair” that the rich pay more, most people, if they don’t lapse into silence or total incoherence, will argue that it’s because “the rich CAN pay more, and they won’t miss the extra money. ” But values are individual, and you cannot know what another human being will miss.

Further, we don’t normally use capacity as a measure of justice. If I gave the eldest of my granddaughters a bigger piece of cake because she’s bigger, her stomach is bigger, and she could eat more, the others would object. We don’t, in this country, adjust speeding tickets to the driver’s income, as they do in Finland.  We do treat the mentally impaired with leniency in criminal proceedings, but that’s an issue of moral competence rather than fiscal capacity.

So why not the same percentage of income? Oh, that would be too tough for the poor. But we could make it a low enough rate so that the poor could pay. The arguments against that are pragmatic, not moral; we’d have to have a much smaller government. For that matter, if government is a service that we purchase, why not charge an absolute dollar amount? We don’t charge the rich more for a steak; that would be totally impractical. Yes, some services are sold on a sliding scale, but it’s not more for the rich, it’s less for the poor, and it’s up to the poor to prove that they’re worth of the break. It’s charity, not an issue of fairness. We’d have to charge even less for government then. But it would be fair.

It seems that whenever I have ever challenged anyone on a basic assumption rooted in Marxism or other forms of collectivism, they slither away without addressing the issue.  In this society, I’ve not had that liberty. They shouldn’t either.

All over but the Sumter

February 23, 2011

I’ve been depressed the last several days. It seems like the social fabric is falling apart already…and times are still good. I’m the alien on Facebook. 60 Tea Partiers vs. 1000 union members in Canton. Mitch Daniels showing himself as a punk coward. Talk of a general strike, to toy with the lives of the poor and unfortunate. Talk of >$200 oil. Talk of the Pres__ent training mob leaders this summer.

It’s not about wages. That’s Team Blue’s game. Who am I to say that somebody makes “too much money”? Teachers are well-paid everywhere, union or no. It’s been claimed that if they were paid babysitter wages for each of those kids, they’d be making more. But I don’t begrudge them. I understand why the state can’t pay though; I suspect that STRS hasn’t been any better managed than Social Security. And we can’t talk about “fair wages” in an area where they can’t be ascertained because market forces are not at work, because of access restriction through licensure, and because public employees elect their own management. That’s the real issue here. The kids have Dad’s wallet, and not only are they going to set their own allowance, but they’ve got an allowance for all their friends too.

And what about this “right” to collectively bargain? Where’d that come from? If a “collective” imposes itself on a deal between two people in a state of nature, that collective is a MOB. Now, if homie wants to play that, OK, but there are a lot more workers in the private sector…and these days they have a lot less to lose. Sure, in a state of nature, a bunch of guys could see the boss and say, “We’ll all only work for this much”. And the boss could say, “No sale”, and hire others, and they’d go elsewhere, assuming they aren’t a mob.  Or are they discussing a legal “right” (privilege) that didn’t exist until the 1960s? If rights are so crucial, why is it that the same political party that the unions have designated as their bargaining agent is so cavalier about other rights, like the rights to private property, self defense, religion, travel, search and seizure, among others? At the very least, they’ve been around longer, and one can make a better case for them being intrinsic to the nature of man.

And they’re complaining about old books and computers. OK, the textbook industry is a huge scam, especially at the collegiate level. The canon of Western art music doesn’t change every three years, so why should the Norton Anthology? But at the lower level, there are so many approval hoops to jump through. Whey can’t we have open source textbooks? They could have alternative chapters to choose from, and could either be read online, or printed through Lulu, and they would still be cheaper than what the big publishers peddle…and probably more interesting. And if in fact teachers don’t have the supplies to properly do their jobs, why isn’t that a matter for collective bargaining? Or is it one of the things they throw in as a chip, to be discarded the first day?

The  Pres__ent is sending in Organizing for American goods to stir the pot. And everyone has to take a side, it seems. Civil War II is here, and it’s not state against state or even race against race, but neighbor against neighbor. And when the shooting starts, as it will, they’ll drive the conservatives out of Cleveland Heights just as liberals will suddenly feel unwelcome in Windham. Then the invasions begin.