Thursday, May 24, 2018

Munk Political Correctness Debate

I recently stumbled across the video from one of the “Munk Debates”. You can get more information about what those are here at Munk Debates Info , and go to the particular debate referred to here at Political Correctness Debate.

In general, the affair was to be a discussion of political correctness, and if or how it stifles open public discussion. The thesis of the debate was “be it resolved, what you call political correctness, I call progress”. There were two teams of two participants who would argue in support of the premise, and against it. The team making the supportive argument was made up of Michael Dyson and Michelle Goldberg, while the opposing team was composed of Stephen Fry, and Jordan Peterson.

It’s rather long to take in unless you’re in a comfortable chair (I wasn’t) and I have no interest in trying to recount the whole business here. But there is one point that Ms. Goldberg brought up that I’d like to comment on.

She mentioned that during the 2016 presidential campaign, as a journalist, she had had the opportunity to attend many Trump rallies all over the country and had used that opportunity to ask fellow attendees why they supported Donald Trump. Being tired of all of the political correctness, she said, was often mentioned. However when asked to specify examples most of her subjects could not. I thought about this for a bit and decided that it was quite understandable for an average person talking to a reporter not to be able to recall any specifics. I couldn’t immediately come up with anything myself. So I set myself to thinking, and came up with the idea that political correctness doesn’t produce major wounds. It’s more like a death from a thousand cuts, as it is meant to be.

The idea, of course, is that if you change the language that people use then you can change their perception. You can actually change the way people think. Linguists, politicians, and social engineers have been aware, and Orwell warned us of this in his book Nineteen Eighty-four.

In any case, even though people may not be able to easily articulate their feelings on the matter there are many examples. At one point we were told that we were no longer to use the term “Miss” when addressing women of unknown marital status. It was dismissive we were told and there was no masculine analog and so it was inherently sexist. It had to go. And then we were told that we were not to use the word “girl” to refer young girls either as this was also dismissive. These are women, we were told. At one point we saw a female United States senator berate a high ranking military officer for answering a question “yes ma’am” just as he would have used “yes sir” to her male counterparts. It was stupid and petty, and she pretended to take offence for the benefit of a television audience even though no possible disrespect could have been implied. It was a minor annoyance, but it left a scar.

In my life time (not that I’m so aged) I have seen the reference go from “colored people” to “Negros” to “blacks” and finally to African – Americans. Of course the National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People (NAACP) won’t change its brand. The very purpose of a hyphen is associate two things while keeping them separate. It’s an annoyance.

Mechanics can no longer have “pin up” calendars in their work spaces as it creates a “hostile work environment” for any women that happen to be there. It’s an annoyance.

Children are sent home from school for having “bubble guns”; for nibbling toaster pastries into the shape of a gun; for pointing their finger at a classmate as if it were a gun; for invoking the powers of a magic ring in a threatening manner; for kissing a classmate; for having the wrong snack or packed lunch, or for picking up a brass shell casing off the ground and taking it to school. It’s an annoyance.

We don’t refer to homosexuals as homosexuals any longer, now they’re “gay”, and they’re seemingly everywhere. If someone is uneasy seeing public displays of affection between same sex couples, or if they aren’t totally supportive then they’re immediately tagged as homophobes, haters, and bigots. It’s an annoyance.

I had never heard the term “wet back” until my family moved from the city to a more rural environment in the Midwest. It wasn’t really used as a pejorative, it was just a matter of fact. It described a Mexican citizen who had come to the U.S. without the benefit of passing through the immigration apparatus. No one really cared much that I can remember. They were minding their own business working on local farms and ranches. They weren’t a drain on social services because there weren’t that many social services to drain. Of course all of that has changed in the last few decades. Now “illegal aliens” can apply for and receive a number of social services. Students can receive “resident” status at whatever university they might want to apply to, and have access to well-endowed scholarship funds while citizens have to struggle to pay “out of state” tuition. You see them on the news reports marching, carrying the flags of their native countries, demonstrating against the laws of the country they have chosen to squat in. And the twisting of the language is fairly obvious in this case. The description went from the legally precise illegal alien to illegal immigrant to undocumented immigrant to undocumented citizen in some places. Suffrage for illegals is now being considered in some localities. Rights and privileges which do not exist are demanded. It’s an annoyance.

We were exposed to the “Piss Christ” and most of us were offended. Even the atheists among us. Even those who routinely worked in and around the offending liquid. Although certainly allowed, it was an unnecessary, provocative insult to Christians everywhere. We were told that we had to accept it as an artistic expression, and begrudgingly we did. Now fast forward thirty years (yes, it’s been that long) and we’re told that we may not criticize Islam. We may not be concerned about a radical minority or Islamists who have sworn to, and do on occasion, kill us. If we do express our concern, we’re labeled as Islamophobic. If we have reservations about supporting unlimited access to the country by and the provision of benefits to economic refugees, political asylum seekers and their extended families we are labeled as hysterical haters and bigots. And if we produce any sort of likeness of the Profit Muhammed we are accused of making an unnecessary, provocative insult to Muslims everywhere and we have no right to be surprised and no redress if someone tries to kill us for that. It’s an annoyance.

Free speech and expression are under attack. On many college campuses you can’t pass out copies of the Constitution on Constitution Day without a permit, and then only from the confines of the designated “Free Speech Zone”. Students require “trigger warnings” so that they can cover their ears or get up and leave before they hear anything that would make them feel uncomfortable, regardless if they have a need to know it or not. They need puppy rooms to help them cope with the stress of a pampered life. They are excused from exams and passed regardless so that they may participate in social activism. Some of this activism is spent protesting the high cost, and low value of a college education. The irony here is almost too rich. They borrow money (essentially from the government) fail to learn anything useful because they spend too much time out of class and then protest that they should owe so much and have no useful skills to sell in order to pay back the cost. That they fail to see the irony is pathetic. It’s an annoyance.

Halloween costumes are no longer allowed as they require too much thought. Animals and inanimate objects are all that’s really left. You virtually cannot fart without culturally appropriating someone’s culture, or micro aggressing someone. Any sufficiently imaginative plaintiff can find fault with anything you say or do. It’s an annoyance.

We are told, and expected to believe, that men and women are interchangeable and that any perceived differences are the result of cultural indoctrination by the male patriarchy. Outside of their biological differences that have developed over five million years they’re exactly the same. As if you could swap men and women’s brains en masse and expect a good outcome. People know this intuitively to be false even if they can’t quite express it. And yet we are still bombarded with the idea that it has been the “patriarchy” and not five million years of evolution that has shaped our existence. It’s an annoyance.

In short, the complaint about political correctness isn’t about one word, or two, or even a list of words. Political correctness is an assault on our rationality. It’s a progressive attempt to tear the fabric of our lives so that it can be resewn in a form more to the liking of some academic and political elite. It’s an attempt, through language, to control the way we speak and thus think. People can feel this in their guts. Taken one at a time these things are just annoying. Added over a lifetime they have become a potent political issue.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.




Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Two Minutes Hate (George Orwell)

“The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s neck. The Hate had started.

As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared. The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure…

Winston’s diaphragm was constricted. He could never see the face of Goldstein without a painful mixture of emotions. It was a lean Jewish face, with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard — a clever face, and yet somehow inherently despicable, with a kind of senile silliness in the long thin nose, near the end of which a pair of spectacles was perched. It resembled the face of a sheep, and the voice, too, had a sheep-like quality. Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines of the Party — an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it. He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed — and all this in rapid polysyllabic speech which was a sort of parody of the habitual style of the orators of the Party, and even contained Newspeak words: more Newspeak words, indeed, than any Party member would normally use in real life…

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides, the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically. … But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were — in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police. He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State…

In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O’Brien’s heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave. The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out ‘Swine! Swine! Swine!’ and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein’s nose and bounced off; the voice continued inexorably. In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp. Thus, at one moment Winston’s hatred was not turned against Goldstein at all, but, on the contrary, against Big Brother, the Party, and the Thought Police; and at such moments his heart went out to the lonely, derided heretic on the screen, sole guardian of truth and sanity in a world of lies. And yet the very next instant he was at one with the people about him, and all that was said of Goldstein seemed to him to be true. At those moments his secret loathing of Big Brother changed into adoration, and Big Brother seemed to tower up, an invincible, fearless protector, standing like a rock…



The Hate rose to its climax. The voice of Goldstein had become an actual sheep’s bleat, and for an instant the face changed into that of a sheep. Then the sheep-face melted into the figure of a Eurasian soldier who seemed to be advancing, huge and terrible, his sub-machine gun roaring, and seeming to spring out of the surface of the screen, so that some of the people in the front row actually flinched backwards in their seats. But in the same moment, drawing a deep sigh of relief from everybody, the hostile figure melted into the face of Big Brother, black-haired, black-moustachio’d, full of power and mysterious calm, and so vast that it almost filled up the screen. Nobody heard what Big Brother was saying. It was merely a few words of encouragement, the sort of words that are uttered in the din of battle, not distinguishable individually but restoring confidence by the fact of being spoken. Then the face of Big Brother faded away again, and instead the three slogans of the Party stood out in bold capitals:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH"

George Orwell

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Why NOT Lock Her Up ??

So I’m wondering, see? Because that’s all I can do is to wonder. And I’m wondering about how bad it would be to “Lock Her Up”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “one of those” people. Actually I’m one of those other people but that’s a subject for a post on that private page. No, this isn’t about that. This also isn’t about the so called “third world” practice of using ex post facto laws to go after and or persecute or prosecute former political opponents for the “crime” of opposition. This is about the law and how far the rich and powerful are allowed to go in pursuit of their goals before they are held to the same legal standards as the rest of us.

Specifically, Hillary Clinton violated the Espionage Act when she received, retained, and resent classified information from the boot leg server that she set up for herself as Secretary of State in her basement. Many Information Technology professionals believe that network was less secure than google mail, and was almost certainly penetrated by the hostile foreign governments.

The server was set up immediately upon her appointment and inarguably to thwart Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records, another violation of law.

The improprieties that took place during the FBI investigation are bad enough as to make J Edgar Hoover look good in a calf length silk skirt and a midriff halter top, five o’clock shadow and all. But this isn’t about the particulars, or whether or not James Comey predetermined the outcome of the investigation because he knew that because everyone in the White House including the President knew that the Secretary of State, the future president, was acting illegally and that they were complicit in the crime. They were as guilty as she was.

So. What of the law? Were they just political crimes? Crimes that only mattered in the context of an election, or were they real crimes. Right now, there is a former Navy submarine sailor in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, his life ruined, for the crime of having a few photos of piping on a nuclear submarine on his phone. He mishandled classified information. Why is it that Hillary Clinton, who operated a boot leg email server in the basement of her home, and who trafficked in classified government documents is on a book tour explaining to everyone that it’s the racists, misogynists, and Russians that kept her from being elected president?

Is it excusable because it was just politics? And if that’s the case, how serious would a crime have had to have been before she was liable for prosecution. Armed robbery? BANK robbery? Kidnapping? Murder? What crime could Hillary Clinton and her minions have committed that would have exposed them to the same jeopardy that the rest of us face every day, and why would it be improper, unseemly, or “third world” for her to be held accountable for violating federal law?

But that's just what an average guy thinks.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Rehabilitation

So. I just turned around and heard some republican lawmaker or other, but it doesn’t really matter who, saying that our criminal justice system is good at removing criminals from society but that we need to do a better job at making sure that when inmates are released from prison that they have been rehabilitated and can be reassimilated back into society. Well. Allow me to express an alternative opinion.

To begin, according to the United States Sentencing Commission in 2014 fully 36% of the federal prison population was made up of illegal aliens. Or, if I need to be more sensitive and tolerant, they were citizens of foreign countries who are in the United States illegally and have been convicted of violating our laws. These men and women don’t need to be rehabilitated so that they can be reassimilated back into society because they need to be biometrically identified and deported immediately upon the completion of their sentences. In fact, since they are to be deported back to their country of origin, there is no benefit for us to rehabilitate them at all as their reassimilation back into society is none of our concern. We don’t need to provide them with psychological or career counselling or educational services. We can apprehend them, try them, incarcerate them to extract the payment to our society prescribed by our laws and then hand them over to the civil authorities in their home countries to do with as they see fit.

Next is the term “rehabilitate”. As defined by the Cambridge dictionary the word means: to return someone to a good, healthy, or normal life or condition after they have been in prison, or been very ill. So to rehabilitate someone presumes that they were good, normal, and or healthy to begin with and just made a thoughtless mistake in a moment of haste. In the culture we live in today this is clearly not the case. Many, if not most of the men and women who currently inhabit our prisons were never good, or normal to begin with. And again, to exhibit at least a little compassion, I’m willing to admit that this may not be entirely their fault although it hardly matters whose fault it is.

Since it is well known that 40% of children are now raised in homes without father present it is logical to assume that the condition of having been raised by a single mother is at least as common in the prison population and is likely higher. It is also well established that the presence of a father in the home is where children learn to respect authority and to understand how men and women properly interact with one another. This familial socialization takes many years and is generally taught to children by those who have a genetic stake in their safety, and wellbeing, starting when an infant’s brain is not fully formed and connected and they know nothing. How is the prison system supposed to raise a child who comes to it as a disrespectful adult? How is the prison system supposed to make whole again that which was never whole to begin with?

Lastly, the words Criminal Justice System sort of hung in my mind. The phrase implies that society has laws, that if you determined to have violated one or more of those laws you are a criminal and that society has the right to mete out to you whatever justice is specified by the law. Now when a child violates some rule of family behavior they may be subject to a timeout or some other form of punishment. But this isn’t referred to as “unruly child justice”. Children who behave badly aren’t rehabilitated. It’s referred to as punishment, and it is employed as negative reinforcement. It is given out in order to reaffirm where the authority in the family unit lies, and to help a child to understand that if they violate family norms (laws) that there will be unpleasant consequences. The severity and nature of those negative consequences has changed over the years, some would say for the better, some would say for the worse, but the principle is still the same: bad behavior equals unpleasant consequences. But it does no good to send a child to his or her room if they enjoy being there alone.

One has to wonder if hard labor were put back into prison sentences, if prison were made to be a really uncomfortable place to be, if people wouldn’t be a little more careful to avoid the sorts of behavior that were likely to get them sent there.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks