Thought

Just as the modern world uses ‘science’ to describe any idea it likes (whether or not it is or could be justified by the scientific method) so it uses ‘prejudice’ to describe any idea it doesn’t like (even when the person who holds it is speaking from experience and the accuser is speaking from preconceptions).

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The Secret to Absolute Power

I notice most of the problems held up by people who talk about ‘social justice’ tend to be either very subjective and nebulous (i.e. equality, racism, sexism, any form of ‘phobia’) or insanely complex with no clear end goal (i.e. ‘income inequality’ and ‘climate change’). It’s either an inner disposition and hence impossible to either check or affect with any kind of reliability (especially when you factor in ‘unconscious bias’), or something too complicated or vague to even know what you’re trying to achieve.

I suspect this is intentional. You see, the only reason people accept anyone as a leader is that they expect him to solve a problem. In the ancient world, tyrants achieved power because they promised to protect the people, the social order, tradition, and so on. Even in street gangs and organized crime, the leader is not the toughest, strongest, or meanest; he’s the one who can get things done and who the others rely on to look out for their interests. The modern dictatorships all arose to solve problems: the communist dictators to impose ‘social justice,’ and the fascist dictators to protect against the communists (and to impose social justice). Leaders are always essentially problem solvers, whom people follow because they think this person or this group of people knows how to solve a certain set of problems they need solved. They have power to the extent that the problem remains and people remain convinced they can solve it.

So, if you can convince someone that you can solve an unsolvable problem, you effectively have an infinite supply of power. As long as people remain convinced that the problem is important, that it can be solved, and that you know how to solve it, there is quite literally no end to what they’ll let you do. Because, in truth, it can’t be solved, you’ll always have a justification handy for anything you care to do. Also, because it can’t be solved, you’ll never lack for ‘victims’ to parade before your supporters to remind them why it’s so important to solve it. Because you’ll never lack for victims, you’ll never lack for villains, all the more so because, since your promise is, in fact, impossible, you’re sure to have someone trying to point that out. Then all you need is a semi-plausible motivation for why he wouldn’t want the problem solved and you have your villain. This has the added benefit of giving you an excuse why the problem isn’t being solved (because the villains are preventing you) and protects against any doubts on the part of your supporters that perhaps you’re going too far.

That’s the secret to absolute power: find an unsolvable problem and convince people that you can solve it.

How Did This Happen?

With the ongoing flood of celebrities, politicians, and people in power being accused of sexual harassment, some people are wondering how this happened? Well, there are a few things that might have factored in:

You said that sex didn’t have to mean anything.

You said monogamy was outdated and unnatural.

You said pornography was harmless fun.

You said that one’s sexual habits were an entirely private and personal affair.

You said that sexual constancy was impossible.

You elevated sexual pleasure to the level of the highest good.

You said that one’s sexual preferences were the defining feature of his personality.

You encouraged children to ‘experiment’ with sex.

You encouraged people to base their relationships on how good the sex was.

You said that adultery was ‘just another kind of marriage.’

You held up sexual predators and deviants as heroes.

You praised depictions of sexual depravity as high art.

You mocked and derided anyone who called for morality in sex.

You hailed contraception as liberation and condemned anyone who opposed it.

You hailed abortion as freedom and condemned anyone who condemned it.

You hailed pornography as liberating and raised pornographers to the status of folk heroes.

You made ‘Pimp’ a compliment.

You made contraception a fundamental human right.

You made sodomy a fundamental human right.

You made not having you sexual habits questioned or criticized in any way a fundamental human right.

You mocked and derided courtesy and chivalry.

You condemned the teaching of virtue as ‘judgmental.’

You forbade religion from the public square.

You condemned any special treatment offered to women as an insult.

You condemned anyone who pointed out that men and women are different and ought to be treated differently.

You mocked anyone who said that women should take special precautions and have special protections simply because they are women.

You repeatedly mock the idea that men should protect women.

You denied that there is even any substantial difference between men and women.

You celebrated imprudence, self-indulgence, and the exploitation of others as ‘self-discovery.’

You encouraged men and women to abandon or never start families in the name of ‘independence.’

You teach children about the beauty of sexual perversions.

You advocate for men to be able to use the women’s bathroom.

You hold personal desire up as an unquestionable good.

You deride any safeguards, precautions, or prudential habits as ‘repressive.’

You accuse anyone who suggests ways a woman can minimize her risk of being assaulted of ‘blaming the victim.’

You sneer at the customs, laws, and teachings of ages that didn’t have this problem.

You spent four generations stripping away more and more boundaries, advocating greater and greater transgressions, and claiming that you were virtuous for doing so.

You spent four generations mocking and deriding morality and elevating a person’s animal desires as the truest part of himself.

You spent four generations telling people that only they could decide what was right or true for them.

 

What the hell did you think was going to happen?

 

The Land Before Time and the Proper Approach to Prejudice

Over the weekend I posted my first video review, of The Land Before Time. I discovered how time-consuming such things are to make, and so I wasn’t able to address everything I wanted to. In particular, I glanced over the film’s approach to prejudice, partly because it’s actually kind of a minor theme compared to its dealings of faith and love (Cera’s the only character who evinces any real bigotry), and partly because it’s not a subject that really interests me that much. Everyone and their dog talks about the evils of prejudice these days; that and global warming constituted the main bulk of my public school education. It’s gotten to the point where I think it actually does more harm than good: people are so sick of being lectured about the evils of racism that they actually start to wonder whether the racists have a point. At least, that’s my experience.

(And for  the record, no, the racists don’t have a point. In the first place, a cursory knowledge of history shows that virtue and excellence are to be found in every race under Heaven. In the second, the Christian faith is clear both in Scripture and Tradition that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, but all are the children of one God, made in His image and likeness. And finally, any differences in accomplishment observable between the children of Europe and the rest of the world are explicable culturally and vanish to the extent that that culture is expanded. That Christendom was long limited to Europe and hence to ‘white people’ is a historical accident brought about by the Muslim conquests).

Anyway, I oppose racism, but I also oppose our chosen method of combating it, which is to view everything through the lens of race and insist that some races are naturally racist and need to own that fact, which will somehow lead to racial harmony. In other words, we fight racism with racism. Call me crazy, but I always thought that would backfire.

(By the way, if whites are ‘born racist’ wouldn’t that, by LGBT logic, mean that racism is okay? I mean, if they can’t help the way they feel, that means there’s nothing morally wrong with it, right?)

What I would propose instead is something more like what’s shown in The Land Before Time, and was a popular notion before critical race theory became the order of the day. Cera’s an unrepentant bigot for most of the film. Littlefoot responds by trying to make friends with her. He doesn’t demand she change before he’ll have anything to do with her; he just tries to be as nice to her as he can, partly because that’s just the kind of person he is, and partly because he recognizes they’re in the same boat together. Even when she’s being a complete jerk, he still shows her kindness, as when she refuses the food they’ve gathered in favor of trying to get her own, and he just tosses her down some anyway.

I’ve always been of the opinion that prejudice and bigotry ought to be met with good-will and, well, tolerance. People don’t change their convictions overnight, and they’re not likely to change if you just arbitrarily demand they do so while constantly insulting them. Instead, it’s best to prove them wrong by your own actions. What changes Cera in the end is the fact that her friends do show her great kindness despite her bad attitude. She sees for herself that she was wrong because her friends have proven her wrong; that they’ll be there for her when she needs them, even if she won’t be there for them.

The point is that you can’t just demand someone change: you have to give them a reason to. Constantly telling someone he’s a horrible person who can never change is unlikely to inspire him to reform.

Doctor Who and Swiping Male Characters

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You know, I’m not really a big ‘Doctor Who’ fan. I’ve watched several episodes from both the classic and the modern series (Tom Baker’s my favorite), and enjoyed them, but I just haven’t really gotten into it.

That said, I do have an opinion of this ‘making the Doctor a woman’ gimmick. And make no mistake, that’s what it is: a gimmick. It’s not a groundbreaking development, nor a brilliant twist of storytelling, and certainly not an kind of (ugh) great step forward. It’s a gimmick, pure and simple; a way to grab attention, and try to shore up their feminist credentials so that the right kind of people won’t turn on them.

I will say, in their defense, that given the nature of the Doctor, this one makes a little more sense than, say, making Thor a woman (not making that up, by the way; they actually did it) or, God forbid, making James Bond a woman (more on that below). The Doctor of course periodically regenerates into a new body and personality, so you could argue this works given the rules of the story. But…no. Even with a character like the Doctor you need some continuity of personality, so suddenly switching him to being a woman just doesn’t work. You can’t fundamentally alter a character in that way, even one like the Doctor and expect people to be happy about it, especially when it’s accompanied by insulting accusations of misogyny (because the only way the Left knows how to argue is ad hominem).

It’s a similar problem to Ghostbusters: on paper, a new all-female team of Ghostbusters actually isn’t a bad idea. But one, it was so obvious they were doing it as a ‘statement’ rather than because they actually cared about the characters, and two, the execution was horrible beyond belief.

The real problem with this practice of switching a character’s sex in an attempt to be ‘relevant’ or whatever the current term is, is that it’s basically the equivalent of swiping one kid’s toy because another kid is crying that she wants more, when the obvious thing to do would be to just buy her some toys of her own rather than stealing someone else’s. To the fans of the Doctor who have stuck by him all these long years, having him drastically altered in this way to appease non-fans must seem like a complete slap in the face. Now, if they came up with a really cool female Time Lord and gave her a spin-off show, and did it well (that’s really the key to any story: doing it well), the fans would eat it up. It has nothing to do with misogyny: it has everything to do with seeing a beloved character twisted to score political points.

It’s even more galling when you consider that the other kid has lots of toys of her own, but keeps menacing her brother’s.

The days (assuming such days existed: this topic invites selective blindness like few others) of a lack of female heroes is long over. Women headline about half the shows on TV. Wonder Woman just came out and was fantastic. Marvel fans have been clamoring for a Black Widow movie for years. The last two Star Wars films were headed by women. There’s obviously a huge market for well-done female leads, so there’s absolutely no need to co-opt existing male characters.

The only reason, as far as I can see, for trying to swipe male characters and turn them female is because they generally have better name recognition. So, certain people think “everyone knows who James Bond is, so if we turned him into a woman (Jean Bond?) we’d have a ready-made super-popular female icon!”

Except it doesn’t work that way, since male and female characters are typically written and characterized very differently. One of the reason Wonder Woman was such a good film is that she was written as a very feminine character. Yes, she could throw tanks around and engage a dozen men at once, but she was also warm-hearted, kind, and nurturing. Black Widow is an engaging character because she’s not just a deadly spy, but she’s also the nurturing heart of the team; the one who gives them pep talks and warm hugs when they’re feeling down. The contrast between her cold-hearted behavior on the battlefield and her warm-hearted behavior off it is what makes her so much fun to watch.

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Well, that and the…obvious reasons.

If you tried to write James Bond as a woman, it would be grotesque. No one except an obsessive feminist would want to see a woman act the way Bond acts. He’s fundamentally a male fantasy figure: the cool man of action who sleeps with every beautiful woman he meets, kills bad guys left and right, and defends king and country with his wits and sheer badassery. He works because he speaks to the male psyche. Make him a woman doing more or less the exact same thing, and it would be unbearable. Most women don’t fantasize about acting that way, and most men don’t like seeing women act like that.

Now, if they wanted to make a female equivalent of Bond: a super-competent and alluring female spy who defends queen and country with wit and moxie, and (once again) if they did a good job of it, that would be great. Female spies can be a lot of fun: just think of Honey West, Emma Peel, or, again, Black Widow to name a few. But there’s no need to coopt male characters out of a misguided feminist urge. There are already lots of good female protagonists running around, and nothing at all preventing anyone from making more. But leave established and beloved male characters alone if you don’t mind.

 

On Being the Prodigal

Our Lord doesn’t specify how long the prodigal son was away in His parable, but one must imagine it to be a fairly long time, given that he had the chance to spend all his money, enjoy the company of harlots, live lavishly, and so on. I bring it up because I think that parable applies aptly, not just to us as individual sinners, but to the civilization formerly known as Christendom in general.

Like the prodigal son, the last few generations have taken our inheritance (the wealth, grandeur, and security that our fathers labored to produce), told our ‘Father’ to go to Hell, and set about spending every cent we have on lavish living, fondly imagining the security and wealth piled up before we were born will last forever without our having to do anything about it. Thus, we declare anything inconvenient to our chosen lifestyle to be ‘outdated,’ imagining that the results will continue even after the cause is removed. We toss off the family, free enterprise, hard work, letters, tradition, and the most basic ideas of culture in favor of a ‘do what you want, welcome everyone’ attitude. We think nothing of tearing up the basic foundations of society, like marriage, the church, and the community, because we fondly imagine the stability they created will continue without them. We preach multiculturalism because we assume that the results of our cultural norms are permanent and will endure if the culture changes.

In short, we squander our inheritance.

The sin of the prodigal came in dishonoring his father by taking his inheritance for granted as a right rather than a responsibility. Whatever he had from his father, he threw away because he assumed he didn’t have to do anything to maintain it and it was simply his to do with as he liked. We moderns do the same with the rich inheritance of the west, assuming that the relative peace, security, and wealth that we enjoy is ours by right, rather than the hard-earned product of labor which is our responsibility to maintain.

I can picture the prodigal son at his lavish parties telling his new friends all about his father and brother; how his father was a senile old fool and his brother a stuck-up hypocrite, much as we treat our forefathers with contempt and ridicule even as we enjoy the fruits of their labor and despise our ‘brothers’ who actually try to live up to their responsibilities.

Now, as you know, this isn’t to say the ‘elder brother’ is model to follow: he has his own failures and temptations. Perhaps, in the end, it is better to be the prodigal, but only after the prodigal returns. At the moment, we’re still living it up, though there are signs that the great famine is coming, where we’ll long to eat the husks that are given to the pigs. Perhaps after that we’ll come to our senses and seek forgiveness, and maybe then we’ll be in a position to criticize the behavior of the elder brother.

At the moment, though, we’re not in much of a position to criticize anyone.