Thursday, March 27, 2014

10 Ancient-Sounding (Yet Current) Cultural Tensions


How far have we really come?

1. Opponents of gay marriage sometimes argue that legalizing it logically leads to legalizing polygamy -- which wouldn’t bother me, since, basically, (A) as a libertarian I think people should be able to make whatever contracts they like and (B) as a quasi-traditionalist I’m aware polygamy’s about as old and time-honored as monogamous marriage anyway -- arguably on firmer traditional ground than gay marriage, even. 

So, I’m often disappointed when people in favor of gay marriage hasten to add that they would never condone legalizing polygamy.  Why not?  This just makes them sound capricious and emboldens their social conservative foes.

Thus, I was pleased with what happened when (intelligent and patient) foe of gay marriage Ryan Anderson appeared twice on Kennedy et al’s show The Independents.  I’ve met and like both of them, so I don’t really want to see either of them destroy the other.  And indeed, what ended up happening was that Ryan ended his first appearance by pointedly noting that Kennedy (as I’d noticed before) was guilty of the gay yes, polygamy never inconsistency, and she sounded a little defensive about it.  Lo and behold, they had Ryan back on a later show, and Kennedy revealed that she’d changed her mind -- and now embraced legalizing both gay marriage and polygamy. 

I’m going to call that a victory all around. 

2. Fascinatingly, the character of old-timey newspaper magnate T. Herman Zweibel has been resurrected as an avatar of The Onion’s feelings of anti-capitalist guilt over now running sponsored “comedy” (h/t Tushar Saxena), for which the fictional Zweibel does the profit-loving disclaimer.  I can’t really blame them, but they’re sort of going the “if it’s ironic, we’re not really sell-outs” route. 

(This is a slightly less-weird mixed message than the Snickers ad that features construction workers offering messages of female empowerment clearly meant to please real female viewers, followed by the message that people just aren’t themselves if they haven’t had their Snickers.)

3. As if that report of hospitals heated by burning fetuses wasn’t disturbing enough, it appears that even in the twenty-first century, you shall eat your gods’ flesh -- and so the ritual cannibalism literally begins, in the form of a new service offering sausages made from samples of celebrities’ flesh.  At least meat’s not just for speciesists anymore.

4. One of the most prominent anti-sexual-violence organizations is calling for an end to the recent feminist hysteria over “rape culture” (h/t Vulgar Libertarians).  I have been reminded by that whole misguided feminist meme -- according to which we are all guilty of enabling rape every time we accept gendered culture -- of the “I blame society” death scene in Repo Man.  As a thug dies, he makes that claim as an excuse for his actions, to which our protagonist says, that’s ridiculous because you’ve led a pleasant and pampered life just like the rest of us. 

If we want to understand a recurring crime, we should focus on what differentiates the guilty from the rest of us, not throw a warm, aimless blanket of universal guilt over everyone (but then, leftists -- and particularly feminists -- are often too cowardly to hold individuals accountable and thus prefer to drag us all down in egalitarian fashion). 

The worst possible route to responsible individual behavior, then, is blaming society.  Yet, tragically, that’s what anti-rape activists recently chose to start doing -- and just as they had been on the verge of getting almost everything they wanted, in the form of a nearly 90% reduction in occurrences of rape over the past three decades. 

At least the organization that Christina Ricci and others represent seems to be taking the high road. 

5. Cathy Reisenwitz has become the default example of a (still rare) libertarian who plays these blame-everybody campus-leftist-style culture analysis games.  Naturally, these sorts of culture critics (or Social Justice Warriors, as some have taken to calling them) are oddly selective about which cultural pressures they take to task and which ones they accept (in accordance with their own predilections, of course). 

So Reisenwitz deplores “privilege” and “rape culture” -- but is deeply offended if anyone thinks that Duke pornstar (and fellow libertarian) Belle Knox’s participation in rough, violence-themed porn might have something to do with the emotional problems that made her a “cutter.”  Of course, I’m also told that cutting became such a common ritual among “emo” youth in recent years that it’s hard to tell the unstable from the fashionable lately.  None of this will ever lead the Reisenwitzes of the world to campaign against porn, emo, or crazy chicks, of course.  The problem will always somehow be old straight white guys. 

Libertarianism, unnoticed by most of the mainstream, is being destroyed from within by leftists lately, and the real question is whether its impressive simultaneous rightward growth can outpace its leftward dissolution.  Perhaps every tiny movement is doomed to emulate the clashes and stupidity of larger, more dominant ones. 

6. A terrible AlterNet article (h/t Lucy Steigerwald) listed
“...Ten Reasons FDR was [sic] Hot” -- and it did not include “internin’ the Hell out of them Japanese-Americans!”  Let’s not kid ourselves.  The man was a fascistic bastard.  If you like him, you’re probably a jerk.

7. To me, as a media guy, the alarming thing about this call for mandatory college-attendance for all (h/t David Friedman -- the other David Friedman) is that it comes from a Yahoo finance reporter and former U.S. News & World Report chief business correspondent, not to mention award-winner and frequent TV guest. 

Keep on whining that no one’s listening to you if you must, leftists, but pieces like that remind me that individual freedom and markets have almost no allies, even among people tasked with understanding business.  (And maybe markets shouldn’t get too much respect, since such pieces force me to concede that truth is not what sells in media, just as it’s not what sells in politics.) 

It’s amazing, too, that smiling black faces were used to illustrate a piece about legally mandating what adults can do with their time.  Some of us sincerely hoped those days ended back in the 1860s. 

(And before I get accused, despite my obvious message here, of roundabout ethnic insensitivity again, so soon after getting Facebook-unfriended for condoning non-Native-Americans wearing Native American hats, maybe I should preemptively note that I forgot to mention throughout that whole fracas that I’m 1/16th or more Native American myself, if Grandma is to be believed.  Not that I think that matters, but sometimes such credentials seem to be the only thing the left cares about.)

8. Speaking of ethnic hypersensitivity, here’s a stellar round-up of the kind of everyday insanity now found online thanks to the accelerating degeneration of a liberal society into an angry leftist madhouse.

9. In a more inspiring example of old-fashioned artistic ways blending with new ones across ethnic lines, Wu-Tang Clan is releasing exactly one copy of its new album (h/t Carl Oberg).

10. In another victory for personalized goods, the first politician to suggest restrictions on 3D printers, state senator Leland Yee, who is also an advocate of gun control, has been charged with gun-running.  This should not be seen as hypocrisy so much as government pursuing what has always been its first goal: eliminate the competition.

1 comment:

Will Linden said...

If it was really about people's rights to make what contracts they like, or hold what rituals they like, I would not have a problem.

What it is about is invoking the power of the state to force EVERYBODY ELSE to CALL it "marriage", whether they believe it is or not. And I find it exasperating to see purported libertarians lining up with the statist bastards on this (while so many of them have no problem with my polygamous friends being treated like SECOND-CLASS CITIZENS!)

Also: judging from a lot of the rationalizations I see, most people seem to think "polygamy" is just a synonymn for "polygyny" -- and on this basis, abruptly switch from invoking "rights" and "equality" to becoming raving consequentialists carrying on about "the effect on women".

If *I* know living, breathing polyandrists, how many are there I don't know about?