Saturday, January 26, 2008


"What the world needs now..."

Dallas and Doc Boone
John Wayne's breakout effort was the John Ford movie Stagecoach, which came out in 1939 based on an Earnest Haycox short story. The movie has since been remade several times, but never as good as the first version. Early in the movie is a scene in which the Law and Order League, apparently composed of bitter, wizened, and judgemental old ladies run two characters out of town. The first is a pretty girl played by Claire Trevor named Dallas, wearing a fancy dress and clearly meant to be a dance hall girl, a woman of ill repute. The second is a drunken doctor played by Thomas Mitchell. As she passes the doctor, Dallas pleads with Doc Boone:
Doc! Can they make me leave town? When I don't want to go?
Do I have to go?
Do I have to go, Doc? Just because they say so?
The Doctor replies with good natured resignation:
We have been struck down by a foul disease called social prejudice, my child.
The women are shown, they are particularly snooty, noses literally in the air, a smug sense of righteousness and presumed absolute moral authority visible. They represent the intolerant, the bigoted, the judgmental in society. These are the kind of people who gossip about someone who dated the wrong sort, dresses the wrong way, does the wrong kind of thing. Every movie or book about a small town seems to have a few of these, the prudes who condemn all who do not fit to a very narrow, stringent concept of right and propriety that they are the final arbiters of.

That girl is dating a negro, have you ever heard of such a thing? That man listens to such awful music! Did you hear, she's getting a divorce!

This sort of person is commonly mocked and attacked in media, and justly so. The kind of person who will hear no alternative to their viewpoint, that will tolerate no differences, and that cannot bear to see things a way other than that which they've chosen. Such people are inevitably shown as religious, holding to a cruel, harsh dogma with brutal strength that even can lead to murder. They are what people often refer to as "puritanical," although it is a misleading and improper label. These folks aren't only shown in movies, they exist in real life: a cold, mean-spirited sort of person who will not accept anyone but someone such as themselves.

Almost always such a person is revealed to have an evil streak in them, or one of strong hypocrisy. The strong moralist in a movie usually also is a pervert, a gambler, a madman, a thief, a drunkard. They're demanding others behave in a way they fail to in the big sin of our age: hypocrisy. The image being shown is deliberate: they're no better than the ones they condemn, and a lot less pleasant to be around, to boot.

Shocked Old LadyThe primary characteristic beyond judgmentalism and intolerance that one sees in such a character - in real life and in movies - is a grim humorless nature. Nothing is fun, nothing is light hearted, everything is judged in the most weighty manner. You cannot laugh at anything because to do so would be to take matters of the greatest import lightly. This is God's word! This is the heritage of my country! How can you consider laughing at such a thing, you are being offensive and frivolous!

There's another kind of prude out there today, though. This sort has been growing in number, loudness, and power for a few decades, primly and intolerantly demanding that all fall in line with their dogma. These are as humorless, judgmental, inflexible, and bitter as the old kind. Here are a few examples:

The Citizen of the West banquet honors someone each year at the National Western Stock Show. Held in Colorado, a speaker told a joke that the audience gasped at, unable to find any humor in:

William R. Farr was pretending to read telegrams congratulating this year's award recipient, University of Colorado President Hank Brown, when he pulled out a piece of paper and said, "I have a telegram from the White House."

Then he added, "They're going to have to change the name of that building if Obama's elected."

Witnesses said they could hear people gasp in the ballroom of the Adam's Mark Hotel.

Oh no! He told a joke that Barack Obama probably would laugh at, but you cannot find any humor that might, in some way, conceivably somewhere offend someone!

Bring Home the Bacon
BaconIn England a cop lost his job over a Secret Santa joke:
A police officer has been forced into resigning after he gave a Muslim colleague a pack of bacon and a bottle of wine as a joke present during a Christmas Day party.

Pc Rob Murrie gave the gift to his colleague as part of a "Secret Santa" at Luton station, though the consumption of alcohol and bacon is forbidden under Islam.

However, even though the Muslim officer did not complain and thought the present funny, senior officers in the Bedfordshire force were not amused. They declared that "behaviour of this nature is not tolerated" and welcomed Pc Murrie's resignation.
Anyone who knows cops knows that they rip on each other regularly - it's how men get along, they mock and poke fun at each other, and this is one more example. But no humor is allowed for the New Prude. This is intolerable, our society cannot bear the weight of someone who so flagrantly mocks the rules and morality of the New Prudes.

Lynch Mob
Nooses and lynching have become the new forbidden concept after the now-discredited claims of blacks in the Jena Louisiana beating case. Just ask the Dave Seanor, editor of Golfweek magazine who was fired for daring to put a noose on the cover to illustrate a story. The story started with a joke by a commenter at a golf game about the only possible way young golfers could possibly defeat Tiger Woods in the tournament:
Faldo and Tilghman were discussing young players who could challenge the world's No. 1 player toward the end of Friday's broadcast at Kapalua when Faldo suggested that "to take Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up for a while."

"Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman replied.
There used to be groups of people in ancient time who'd kill someone for blasphemy, for uttering incorrect words or phrases about that which was considered holy. We're returning to those times: say something that offends a black person or Muslim, face the penalty. It doesn't matter if anyone is actually offended or not. The mere possibility that someone could be, particularly a hyper-sensitive, humorless, bitter and mean-spirited New Prude, and you're history.

Little Piggies
In Great Britain, judges of a government agency awards panel have rejected one book for consideration for an award not due to the story's lack of quality or poor storytelling, but because it has pigs in it:
The digital book, re-telling the classic story, was rejected by judges who warned that "the use of pigs raises cultural issues".

Becta, the government's educational technology agency, is a leading partner in the annual Bett Award for schools.

The judges also attacked Three Little Cowboy Builders for offending builders.
Which cultural issues would those be? It might offend "Asians:"
But judges at this year's Bett Award said that they had "concerns about the Asian community and the use of pigs raises cultural issues".

The Three Little Cowboy Builders has already been a prize winner at the recent Education Resource Award - but its Newcastle-based publishers, Shoo-fly, were turned down by the Bett Award panel.

The feedback from the judges explaining why they had rejected the CD-Rom highlighted that they "could not recommend this product to the Muslim community".

They also warned that the story might "alienate parts of the workforce (building trade)".

The judges criticised the stereotyping in the story of the unfortunate pigs: "Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?"
Because, naturally, no one could comprehend that these books for children were not to be taken literally. Our culture has had entirely too much portrayal of builders as pigs, and the line must be drawn before we offend someone.

Pig Lessons
In Amsterdam, the pig theme continued:
Asscher told newspaper De Volkskrant: "A primary school in Amsterdam-Noord has decided no longer to teach about living on a farm. Various pupils began to demolish the classroom when the pig came up for discussion. Apparently it has gone that far. These children, 9, 10 years old, have not been given even the most elementary rules at home about why they must go to school."
The lesson here being children who go berserk in class must not be taught to tolerate differences and behave, they must be heeded and teachers silenced on certain topics.

Silence Dissent
The Canadian case in which a portion of Mark Steyn's book America Alone were printed in the magazine MacLean's is infamous in blogs and Canadian press now. Canada has had a human rights tribunal for decades now which has the singular accomplishment of having never lost a case. Every single time, without fail, they bring a case to a hearing, they find the offenders guilty. Every time. They pulled up the MacLean's editor for just such a hearing:

The plaintiffs allege that Maclean's advocated, among other things, the notion that Islamic culture is incompatible with Canada's liberalized, Western civilization. They insist such a notion is untrue and, in effect, want opinions like that banned from publication.

Two separate panels, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, have agreed to hear the case. These bodies are empowered to hear and rule on cases of purported “hate speech."

The hate speech in question involved quotes from Muslims in Europe and statistics on birth rates, frequency of names, and data on Muslim expansion in law and culture. Can you feel the hate?

Cartoon Violence
Muhammad CartoonSimilar to this is the case in Belarus where a man was sentenced to three years in prison for a cartoon portraying Muhammad. The cartoons he published were the Danish ones that Muslims - without seeing them, and months later after being carefully organized and given English-language signs - spontaneously and unanimously rose in protest:
President Alexander Lukashenko ordered the paper shut the following month, calling the publication of the cartoon "a provocation against the state." Sdvizhkov was arrested and charged with "inciting religious hatred" in November 2007 when he returned to Belarus following several months of living in Russia and Ukraine.
Is this because the Muslims are so overwhelming in the country and demanded the action be taken? Not exactly.
Belarusian Islamic leader Ismail Voronovich called the sentence excessively harsh.

The ex-Soviet republic is overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian; less than 1 percent of the country's 10 million is Muslim.
Newspapers in the United States almost without exception declined to run the cartoons.

Axe Murderers For Peace
Sometimes the New Prudes become more than simply litigious, they don't restrain themselves to running the offenders out of town for not fitting the demanded, rigid code. Sometimes they get violent:
A U.S. citizen has confessed to using an axe to kill a Dutch student after failing to find a soldier to attack, his lawyer said Tuesday.

The suspect, Carlos Hartmann, 41, of Tecumseh, Mich., has confessed to the Sept. 8 killing on a train platform in the southern city of Roosendaal, defence lawyer Peter Gremmen said.

Gremmen said Hartmann wanted to punish the Netherlands for its support of the war in Iraq.
He couldn't find a soldier, so he just attacked a man waiting for a train. He was Dutch, the Dutch government supported Iraq. How else could a man fight for peace? He had to make a statement about the evil of warfare and killing. With an axe. Good thing gun laws are so strong in the Netherlands, or he might have attacked someone with a lethal weapon!

What's that you say, he was a lunatic, an extremist, a fringe nutcase who chose this as his cause? That it doesn't condemn the anti-war movement? That's all true, and I agree. The problem is, when some crazed pathological anti-abortion type blows up a clinic or kills a doctor 10-20 years ago, forever after that's the defining characteristic of anti-abortion activists. Neither is correct; I simply suggest consistency.

Certainly we cannot allow anyone to stray off the Politically Correct plantation, why someone, somewhere might get offended - at least, someone that counts, a minority by some definition. Yet there are deeds and behaviors that we must tolerate, no matter what:

9/11 Not So Bad
I wrote a mocking piece about the LA Times article that tried to portray the reaction of the west to 9/11 as extreme, after all so few people really died, it was just one incident! A former Nobel Prize winner in Britain pointed out that compared to the IRA's attacks on England, 9/11 was no great shakes:
"Some Americans will think I'm crazy. Many people died, two prominent buildings fell, but it was neither as terrible nor as extraordinary as they think. They're a very naive people, or they pretend to be," she said of the Americans.

"I always hated Tony Blair, from the beginning," she said. "Many of us hated Tony Blair, I think he has been a disaster for Britain and we have suffered him for many years.

This, of course goes along with a previous Nobel Peace Prize winner who called for violence against President Bush.

Strange Love
And of course we have the lesbian leftist who admitted that she had a "little Crush" on Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, although this was before he claimed there was no homosexuality in the entire country of Iran. At least, no living homosexuals.

My Hero
At the UK Guardian blog, journalist Neil Clark found folks to admire:
The true heroes in Iraq are those who have resisted the invasion of their country.
Sure, they hack the heads off journalists, they strap a bomb to children and people suffering from Down's Syndrome, they set bombs off to prevent voting and kill civilians, but they're the good guys because they're fighting against invasion. After all invading any country for any reason is wrong, so we must always side with the resistance, in all circumstances, everywhere. At least when the US invades.

Oh Archie!I could keep doing this for hours, I could fill ten pages with examples of people who can't take a joke, who demand without exception perfect fulfillment of their absolute moral code of behavior and punish mercilessly anyone who dares waver in the slightest. Humorless, bitter, mean-spirited, cold, and totalitarian folks who cling to their ideology with a zeal and fervor that previously has only been portrayed in the religious.

As I've said in the past, it used to be Archie Bunker who held this kind of position in society, who damned anyone that was different, who rejected tolerance of something they were troubled or offended by, who used irrational, inconsistent arguments for their absurd positions. It was once the John Birchers who held this position. Today it's the modern left.

What happened to the happy hippie who would slip a flower in a gun barrel, hug their enemies, call for peace and love, and smile? What happened to the joy-filled youth who wanted to make a better future? They grew old and bitter, filled with inflexible dogma that as they grew older became more and more central to their very existence.

How did they get there?

The primary problem these people face is that they were too successful in tearing down the old. When you strip away tradition, destroy moral foundations, attack and mock successfully the old reasons for behavior, eliminate moral bases from education, law, and media, and in every realm and every instance push the boundaries of what is permissible or even right or wrong, you face a dilemma.

How do people know how to act or behave? If there's no longer a shared basis for moral action, if there's no cultural agreement on right and wrong, then a vacuum forms. Who can decide what is proper any more? How can you demand people not do something if you cannot agree on what's wrong? In the end, all that's left is individual opinion and those who have the strength to impose their views on everyone else.

What's left after the successful demolition of previous morality today is Political Correctness. It's no different in concept, PC is simply a way of structuring proper behavior and morality. Instead of right and wrong being based upon an objective, separate code of behavior like the 10 commandments, you have it based on the ever fluid agreements of the left in academia. Yet the results are the same: thus you shall do and thus thou shalt not.

Political Correctness appeals to the same people who reject absolutes and rules and morality and religious judgments because it is not based on religion, it is based upon the tangible and the political. When you begin with the assumption that the majority always oppresses and dominates the minority, then it becomes obvious that the minority are on the moral high ground. The concept of PC is that you must avoid offending or oppressing anyone in any form. Thus, if you yell at someone that they're making more noise than a herd of water buffalo, you're violating the law of PC when at least one person in that crowd is black - because it might in some remote sense be considered possibly racist since Water Buffalo come from areas that are predominantly non-white.

Political Correctness holds the same place as rigid religious dogma in the past. That Law and Order League from Stagecoach was basing their position on a vaguely Christian set of morals: drunkards and prostitutes must be hurled from our society. Of course the movie shows both the drunk getting sober and the prostitute becoming a respectable woman, so it shares this viewpoint, but it judges the judgmental for being so harsh and unbending.

PC ideology holds the same power over people. It gives them a weapon, a bludgeon to hammer all of society until it's shaped like they desire. Those who will not bend will be broken, or driven away until we have the perfect society, ala Dr Raymond Cocteau from Demolition Man:
Now I'll have carte blanche to create the perfect society. My society.

San Angeles will be a beacon of order with the purity of an ant colony. And the beauty of a flawless pearl.
As the villainous Simon Phoenix points out none too subtly in response: "People have the right to be assholes."

The prude and the cruelly, maliciously judgmental are wrong regardless of their ideology. They're intolerant and brutal against people whom tolerance is proper - or if intolerance, then justice and brotherhood, even if they are condemned. It's not wrong to oppose certain behavior or to refuse to tolerate some actions. That's why we have laws and prisons to begin with. It's wrong to do so in a brutal, hateful, and arrogant manner.

Love CandyThis sounds hackneyed and childish, but the song is right in one sense: what the world needs now is love. The problem is what the song means and what society usually understands to be love is far from what we need. Love isn't embrace and acceptance of someone and their actions without question or judgment. That's not love at all, in fact, it's a kind of cold apathy. I don't even care what you are or do, I'll treat everyone everywhere the same until it means nothing at all.

Love means you want the best for someone, even things they don't care for. Love means you will condemn someone's wrongdoing, it just changes the nature, reason, and method of your condemnation. The New Prude and Old condemn with patronizing authority: you do not measure up to my perfection. It's not out of real concern for the person in question, it's out of concern for one's standards. You don't even care if they exist or not or who gets hurt, except in a broad, general sense. If the little guy or the individual is crushed in the system, that's an acceptable price for the end goal: a perfect society that matches your vision.

Love cares about each person, love wants the best for each person, love is interested in each individual. Love will never tolerate anything, tolerance is unloving. Sometimes we have to tolerate what we don't care for, but love will prompt us to try to find a way to help and encourage people to stop what's wrong and improper.

What the prude lacks is love, sweet love.
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Anna Venger said...

What happened to the happy hippie who would slip a flower in a gun barrel, hug their enemies, call for peace and love, and smile?

ummm...they all got Syphilis and started acting crazy?

Peter said...

I enjoyed reading this! But I was puzzled by the penultimate sentence:
"Love will never tolerate anything, tolerance is unloving."
Love, I thought, is the best way to tolerate anything. And I also thought that tolerance was loving - the opposite of loving.
I read it several times, and believe you meant to say
"Love will never tolerate everything. Tolerating everything is unloving."
I also think that bigots are neurotic and vice versa - neurotic people are bigots too frightened to express their bigotry.

Peter said...

I meant to say
"And I also thought that tolerance was loving - the opposite of unloving, which is intolerance."