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Drivel, 2018

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Posting Peculiarities of Asinine Proportions          (April 17, 2018)

 

We frequently contribute to commentary threads in the online editions of the National Post and Breitbart News. There are many topics on which we have strong opinions – and a strong opinion – one which, of course, is invariably correct -- does not like to be hidden under a bushel. It yearns to shine forth and lighten the oppressive darkness of popular error and misconception.

The other day – concerning the topic of religious symbolism – a Quebec teenager has expressed a desire to be a police officer while wearing a hijab – an outrage to which we are violently opposed – we tried to respond to another poster. We had initially argued that citizens pay respect to those enforcing the law, not as individuals, but as representatives of the government. The "uniform" that officers wear is an important symbol used to suggest that they are not expressing private opinions and prejudices – they are representing the legal system in the jurisdiction of their employment.

When they wear, in addition to the uniform, religious symbols, political logos, or commercial advertisements – the message of "uniformity" is compromised. The citizen is, apparently, being asked to respect Scientology, the Rhinoceros Party, or Joe’s Diner. This, we contend, interferes with the important task of upholding a cornerstone of our society – the rule of law.

Another poster pointed out that the "rule of law" already allows the wearing of such symbols.

In countering that argument – that such an expression of the rule of law runs counter to our tradition – that we live in a secular society in which church and state are considered separate – and that any legal sanction of religious symbols is a betrayal of the manifest success of our secularism (societies dominated by religion are inferior in opportunities for self-fulfilment, scientific advances, creative accomplishments, and general liberty for citizens) – we wrote the following opening sentences:

Then of course, the rule of law – in that particular instance -- is "a ass" – which is not unheard of. And it is a rejection of the type of "rule of law" upon which our society has been built.*

The term "a ass" – as surely every reader will know – is a quotation from Charles Dickens. Mr. Bumble referred to the law as "a ass," and "a idiot."

Strangely, our comment disappeared shortly after we posted it.

We placed our pitiful brains on the rack of stern enquiry. Why had our post been removed?

The only thing we could think of was that "a ass" had somehow been considered inappropriate. Reference to donkeys – using the term "ass" – from the Latin "asinus" – was forbidden.

 

Assuming that the post had been removed by a minor, uneducated functionary at the National Post – possibly a high school student of modest intellect who had obtained a part-time job because of his close relationship with a reporter or editor – we thought a reference to Mr. Bumble would alert him to the fact that "a ass" was in quotation marks – and that it might be instructive to google: "Mr. Bumble a ass."

Once the dimwit had discovered the literary origins of the term, and realized that a reference to a donkey was not in violation of National Post vulgarity guidelines, we hoped our post would be allowed.

Thus, we re-wrote the sentences as follows:

Then of course, the rule of law – in that particular instance – is, in Mr. Bumble’s term, "a ass" – which is not unheard of. And it is a rejection of the type of "rule of law" upon which our society has been built.

A short time later, our post had disappeared. Either the dimwit was incorrigible, or our enemy was something completely different. The term "artificial intelligence" is everywhere these days – perhaps our post had been removed – not by a dimwit – but by a sophisticated machine, trained to respond to the word "ass" – and commence an immediate post-turfing procedure.

We are nothing, if not determined. We rewrote our post as follows:

My response to this post has been "disappeared" for a second time. I thought it might be because I used a famous phrase from Charles Dickens which refers to a donkey. In case there is actually a living human being acting as monitor, I thought I would point out the literary origin of the term. That has made no difference. But perhaps there is an automatic censor which rejects references to another word for donkey. To test that theory, I am re-posting again:

Then of course, the rule of law – in that particular instance -- is – in Mr. Bumble’s term --"a idiot" – which is not unheard of. And it is a rejection of the type of "rule of law" upon which our society has been built.

Lo, and behold: The post was allowed to stay.

We can only speculate as to the cause. We might conclude that, if there really is a dimwit moderator at the National Post – he has little initiative – and acts exactly as if he were a programmed machine.

If, on the other hand, there is a fancy machine which monitors posts, it has not read Dickens, and does not know how to google. It is no improvement over a dim-witted human being. (Although it is probably cheaper to employ.)
 

*Followed by several paragraphs of exposition.

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2018

The Revolution that (We Hope) Will Eat its Young.

 

The new religion of political correctness is both puritanical and revolutionary. Unlike previous religions, which – rather prudently – promised perfection in the afterlife, political correctness suggests that a similar pleasantness can be mandated in this one: it holds that no one should suffer hurt feelings – it pretends that language can be controlled so that it will not give offense.

We would note, in passing, that the underlying principle behind the desire to protect feelings is that equality is the natural and achievable state of human beings. The reason that feelings must not be hurt is that all human beings should experience "equally" high self-esteem. A hurt feeling – by definition – is of lesser quality than an unhurt one. The hurting of feelings is, necessarily, an insult to the idea of equality.

Once this is understood, the inevitable failure of political correctness becomes clear. "Equality" is not in the blueprint of nature, and will not be found among living creatures. Only dead things have the remote possibility of being considered "equal." Indeed, the essence of life is struggle – its necessary and inherent goal is not equality – but the inequality -- of outcomes.

Political correctness, then, is a new religion which pretends to transform the very nature of existence. It attempts to attain the impossible; it represents a revolutionary ideal which can make no compromise with reality.

It is interesting to watch the process – the attempt to achieve the impossible – in action.

We have to look no further than the University of California for examples. That august institution has recently published a list of unacceptable "microaggressions" on its official website. (Breitbart News March 17)

Among these microaggressions are saying: "the most qualified person should get the job."

We assume this is a "microaggression" because it suggests that merit is more important than equality. The current politically correct thought is that jobs should be obtained based on the principle that every possible group be represented in every field of endeavour in the same proportion as it appears in the total population.

Similarly forbidden is a statement such as "America is the land of opportunity." This is – apparently – because it perpetuates the "myth of meritocracy." Few are naive enough to think that the "best" person is always hired for a job – but it is common sense that success is more likely when employees are hired on the basis of demonstrated skills and abilities – rather than on the basis of their membership in a group.

As if such insanities were not sufficient, the University also admits that certain remarks are considered benign or oppressive depending upon the person to whom they are addressed. For example, it is perfectly legitimate to ask a Caucasian student: "Why are you so quiet?" But the same question asked of an Asian, Latino or Native American is offensive: it suggests that the individual has insufficiently assimilated into the "dominant culture." Hmmm. How’s that for "equality?"

It will be immediately seen the absurd limits to which the principle of protecting feelings – based on group identity – may be taken.

 

 

It would appear that the priests of the new religion – we suspect they must be university professors teaching courses such as "Ethical Trendlines in Big Rock Candy Mountain Villages" " Unicorn Theology," or "Social Justice Achievements of Shangri-la Aboriginals" – must spend some considerable portion of their waking hours in imagining ways in which the members of "vulnerable" groups might be offended.

The trouble with such searches is that – with sufficient ingenuity – there is no limit to success.

Even a compliment, viewed through the politically correct lens, can be interpreted as a microagression. The most infamous example we can recall is the "new shoes" compliment. Saying, "I love your new shoes" to a woman in a position of authority is a microaggression – because it focuses on the superficial, and fails to recognize the more substantial qualities of intellect, wisdom, or competence.

The principle thereby established is that any compliment which is not sufficiently effusive and all-encompassing is likely to be insulting. Do not compliment your hostess on the roast beef; her Yorkshire Pudding angst may be significantly enhanced.

Now -- you may think: "This way, madness lies" -- and you would be correct.

But there is, of course, a certain method to the madness. The priests of the new religion are not entirely fools. They recognize that the establishing a labyrinth of impossibly complex rules gives them a significant degree of control. If they create the rules, and can convince people that they represent virtue rather than stupidity, they have gained great power. They will be able to shape discourse – decide who is victim, and who is oppressor. Enforcement bodies, tribunals, social justice courts loom on the horizon. They will require chairpersons, administrators, and functionaries. All faithful ministers in service of "Equality."

If the proposed scenario sounds vaguely familiar – it should. Does not the pursuit of an unattainable perfection inevitably lead to great abuse of power? Did not the Inquisition torture people with the noble aim of saving their souls? And were not witches burned at the stake in order to remove evil from a Godly society?

And there is a certain snowball momentum to the crusade. The earnest desire to find a well-travelled broomstick in the garden shed leads to the discovery of many a rake and digging spade that seems to serve the purpose: the owner of the shed may be found just as guilty – and will burn with an equivalent, satisfying, brightness.

During the time of the French Revolution, Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud observed, "Citizens, we have reason to fear that the Revolution, like Saturn, will successively devour all its children, and finally produce despotism, with the calamities that accompany it."

Revolutions – the ones based on the notion that radical change can be achieved – that human nature can be refined in a purifying fire, that corruption can be – with the scourges of virtue – irrevocably transformed into sweetness and light -- must, initially, achieve less than satisfactory results. The solution, of course is even more radical perfectionism – the orthodoxy will be narrowed, re-defined to reveal new heretics, to justify higher, more impressive bonfires. Inevitably, the early revolutionaries will be condemned with a vigour and ruthlessness with which they will not be unfamiliar.

We think the same will be true of political correctness.

But madness cannot persist forever. Eventually, as the demands of "virtue" become more widespread and encompassing, as the destruction wrought becomes more devastating and complete, the futility of the whole enterprise will become apparent. The Equality Tribunals will be disbanded; the Microagression Reporting Centres will disappear; the doors of the Courts of Correctness will be quietly closed.

For the time being.

Virtuous revolutions – puritanical impulses – religions – whether secular or divinely inspired – may be – like extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds – a part of our genetic legacy.

 

 

 

The Equality Lens  (March 4, 2018)

But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom. (Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805 - 1859)

That all men are equal is a proposition to which, at ordinary times, no sane human being has ever given his assent. (Aldous Huxley, 1894 - 1963)

Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive. (William F. Buckley, Jr. 1925 - 2008)

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. (Aristotle, 384 B.C.- 322 B.C.)

The trouble with "equality" is that it sounds so good! It suggests a kind of heavenly perfection in which all invidious distinctions have been bleached, like unsightly and accusatory stains, from the fabric of society: no man is more important, powerful, valued, or talented than any other. And no man feels the angst of inferiority, the rebukes of failure, or the corrosive pangs of unalleviated envy.

Such a state of "equality" is abstract, theoretical, and unattainable – and everyone knows it. But there are truths so awful, so overwhelming, and so unpleasant that no one dares utter them. This is one of those truths. Further, it is considered the height of virtue to praise "equality," and to be seen working, with unstinting diligence, towards it.

Indeed, we suspect that the status of "equality" – as a pre-eminent goal and virtue – has never been higher than in the present day.

These reflections arise from an article in Breitbart News of March 2,* which refers to an educational policy of the administration of that fount of infelicitous folly, Mr. Obama. It threatened to investigate school districts where it appeared that disciplinary measures disproportionately affected minority students. As with many "feel good" policies – facts were no defence: it was irrelevant that the behaviours for which students were disciplined were, in fact unacceptable. The aim was "to help schools prevent and address discipline practices that discriminate against students of color."

This policy will be seen as revealing a determination to find "equality" where it dos not exist.

It does not seem an unreasonable proposition that minority cultures and low income backgrounds may  be factors in how students behave. They represent "unequal" inputs – challenging elements in adaptation to mainstream culture.

But the solution – viewed through the "equality lens" -- is not to recognize that unequal inputs will result in unequal outcomes. Nor is it to focus on dealing with the unequal inputs – seeking to modify or counteract the cultural deficits. Rather, it is to put equality of result first. This, of course, cannot be achieved by treating bad behaviours equally. To do so would result in the horror of inequality -- a disproportionate number of minority and low income students being disciplined. No, the only solution is to treat students unequally – to give special consideration, and make special allowances so that it appears that students from all backgrounds are "equally" well-behaved.

 

In this way, the myth of cultural "equality" can be preserved, and the idea that there is "discrimination" against minorities can be, virtuously, refuted.

It is a wonderful, classic example of political correctness – a situation in which the unpleasant truth – that minority cultures may predispose students to unacceptable behaviour – is made to vanish. The unacceptable behaviour is simply not recognized whenever it threatens the preferred narrative – that cultures are "equally" worthy.

Of course, by failing to make an issue of bad behaviour -- perhaps alerting the police when it seems required -- the behaviour is encouraged and facilitated. No matter. At least no one will be accused of discrimination, and the myth of the equality of cultures will be, thankfully, preserved.

The "equality lens" – the perception of a state of "equality" where it does not exist is, in fact, widespread in our society.

Consider the oft-heard complaint that women have lower incomes than men, or that they are under-represented on boards of company directors. No one seeks to understand the factors which might lead to this result. No one who has any claim to a moral compass could point out that women are often less ambitious than men, and may seek jobs that pay less and are not as "life-consuming" as those which have higher salaries. Perhaps it is that women, by and large, would rather teach than climb a corporate ladder, or be nurses rather than firefighters.

No, the immediate assumption is that of "equality." Women’s and men’s interests are exactly equal, and exactly alike. The disparity in income – or the fact that relatively few women are employed as bicycle mechanics, or stevedores – is the result of the malign forces of discrimination. Evil men spend every spare moment -- when they are not otherwise employed being nakedly ambitious -- in erecting barriers to the natural outcome of equality. Every effort, therefore, must be made to raise the salaries of women, and force them to become directors of corporations, firefighters, and bicycle mechanics.

Consider, again the unfortunate fact that more indigenous persons are incarcerated, proportionately, than others.

Does anyone have the temerity to suggest that living on reserves – often in remote locations with little opportunity for employment – is a factor in leading to hopelessness, despair, and anti-social behaviour? Why the very suggestion is "racist," vicious, and unconscionable.

No, the immediate assumption is one of equality: indigenous people are exactly the same as non-indigenous people – they should be incarcerated at exactly the same rate.

It will be seen that the "equality lens" – the assumption of equality where it dos not exist – is counter-productive. It may be well-intentioned, sound good, and wear the mask of virtue -- but it draws attention away from the real causes of problems – and suggests that there are problems which do not, in fact, exist. The engineering of "equality" ignores pertinent truths and  tends to be coercive -- favouring some by restricting or limiting others.

When you do not understand the cause of a problem – your solution will simply become part of it.

 

*Teacher Coalition Seeks to End Obama School Discipline Policy: ‘A Lot of Fear in Schools’ (Breitbart News, March 2)