Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A totalitarian wind

The best commentary I’ve run across on the Duck Dynasty and Justine Sacco matters.

Mark Steyn:

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, in his career-detonating interview with GQ, gave a rather thoughtful vernacular exegesis of the Bible’s line on sin, while carefully insisting that he and other Christians are obligated to love all sinners and leave it to the Almighty to adjudicate the competing charms of drunkards, fornicators, and homosexuals. Nevertheless, GLAAD “the gatekeepers of politically correct gayness” as the (gay) novelist Bret Easton Ellis sneered saw their opportunity and seized it. By taking out TV’s leading cable star, they would teach an important lesson pour encourager les autres that espousing conventional Christian morality, even off-air, is incompatible with American celebrity.

Some of my comrades, who really should know better, wonder why, instead of insisting Robertson be defenestrated, GLAAD wouldn’t rather “start a conversation.” But, if you don’t need to, why bother? Most Christian opponents of gay marriage oppose gay marriage; they don’t oppose the right of gays to advocate it. Yet thug groups like GLAAD increasingly oppose the right of Christians even to argue their corner. It’s quicker and more effective to silence them.

As Christian bakers ordered to provide wedding cakes for gay nuptials and many others well understand, America’s much-vaunted “freedom of religion” is dwindling down to something you can exercise behind closed doors in the privacy of your own abode or at a specialist venue for those of such tastes for an hour or so on Sunday morning, but when you enter the public square you have to leave your faith back home hanging in the closet. Yet even this reductive consolation is not permitted to Robertson: GLAAD spokesgay Wilson Cruz declared that “Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe.” Robertson was quoting the New Testament, but hey, what do those guys know? In today’s America, land of the Obamacare Pajama Boy, Jesus is basically Nightshirt Boy, a fey non-judgmental dweeb who’s cool with whatever. What GLAAD is attempting would be called, were it applied to any other identity group, “cultural appropriation.”

In the broader sense, it’s totalitarian.
Rachel Lu:

If Robertson were the hapless hick he was intended to be, he probably could quote controversial Bible passages without getting the boot. But viewers like him, and GLAAD can’t allow Americans to like a homophobe. He is in the rare position of being an entertainer who was fired for being too popular.

It’s more than that, though. Phil Robertson was fired because the overlords of liberal media can’t handle the idea that a professional funny man might come out of the back woods of Louisiana with a long, unkempt beard and a shotgun. It’s ridiculous to them to suppose that he could be deserving of the same license that they extend to the much-ballyhooed “creative class.” In dozens of denunciations on Robertson’s “coarse, offensive” remarks on sexuality, almost nobody notes the obviously relevant fact that Robertson is a humorist.

This controversy is as much about anti-redneck prejudice as it is about anti-Christian prejudice. America shouldn’t stand for an entertainment industry that permits and perpetuates this kind of bigotry.
John Nolte:

Why Sacco?

Why did BuzzFeed and others gin up a journalistic assassination squad to hit some nobody named Justine Sacco?

If you'll pardon the mixing of metaphors, why was this private citizen plucked from obscurity by The Online Statsi for a trip to Room 101?

What we have seen happen to public figures, like "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson, who dare offend the political/media left-wing elite is frightening enough. Is this group now so addicted to the taste of bloody scalps that no one is safe -- that any obscure citizen with only 174 Twitter followers can have their social media door broken into and lives ruined by the likes of BuzzFeed: Speech Detectives?


The sixties radicals were once culturally disfavored and so championed the maximum possible freedom of thought and expression. But they're not culturally disfavored anymore -- thanks to Gramsci's long march through the institutions, they are the culture.

And so now it doesn't appear quite so important that people be permitted a large zone of free movement in the sphere of thought, belief, and speech.

Now the Cultural Deciders -- like Mayor Bloomberg -- understand that to the extent people will be compelled to speak, think, believe and feel a certain way, they'll be compelled to speak, think, believe and feel the same way as the Cultural Deciders themselves, and what's wrong with that?
Or, as Instapundit put it, the Left abandoned free speech when They no longer needed “an ostensibly-neutral ideal to shelter communists anymore.”

That’s why we see putative liberals like Rachel Maddow implicitly endorsing the rationale behind the Hollywood blacklist.

Nolte and Ace deserve credit for fighting the good fight against the Twitter mob.

Stephen Koch on the essence of totalitarian power:

An essential tenet of the NKVD was that the system needed the arrest, torture, and death of thoroughly obedient-- therefore 'innocent'-- people, since without random terror, the innocent would never be afraid, and (even ideologically) the Soviet state was made coherent by fear. From this perspective, some of the motiveless malignity falls into place.
Double Lives: Spies and Writers in the Secret Soviet War of Ideas against the West
Donald Rayfield,:

Chekisty and poets were drawn to each other like stoats and rabbits-- often with fatal consequences for the latter. The found common ground: the need for fame, an image of themselves as crusaders, creative frustration, membership of a vanguard, scorn for the bourgeosie, an inability to discuss their work with common mortals. There was an easily bridged gap between between the symbolist poet who aimed to epater le bourgeois and the checkist who stood the bourgeois up against the wall.
Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him
I think Tom Wolfe gave the best explanation for the mob action against Justine Sacco:

From the outset the eminence of this new creature, the intellectual, who was to play such a tremendous role in the history of the twentieth century, was inseperable from his necessary indignation. It was his indignation that elevated him to a plateau of moral superiority. Once up there, he was in a position to look down on the rest of humanity. And it did not cost him any effort, intellectual or otherwise. As Marshall McLuhan would put it years later: 'Moral indignation is a technique used to endow the idiot with dignity.'
Hooking Up


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