Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Defending Milo

So CPAC has cancelled Milo’s speaking invitation. Which was predictable enough. Organizers of conservative conferences have their role, Milo has his.

More troubling in my mind is that Simon & Schuster has cancelled his book deal. It’s obvious they’re afraid of backlash, but I think they will regret it. If he doesn’t burn out, Milo almost surely has a brilliant future ahead of him.

In any case, the haters are jumping around in glee. And who has haters like Milo?

I’ve been a fan since I started following him not long ago, around the time Twitter banned him. Yes, I find problems with some of his shtick, but in general I’ve been sympathetic. Such deeply paradoxical characters usually grab my attention, but this one was also managing to play a few important roles at once.

Now in fact I’m even more sympathetic. Because one brilliant blogger, Rachel Fulton Brown, has made clearer what I was responding to--namely the infectious combination in Milo of dangerous truth-telling and being utterly himself, painful contradictions and all. (I came upon this piece via Rod Dreher's blog, where a pitched battle is going on over Milo as conservative.)

Brown begins as follows:

Everybody hates a bully, or so we say. Yesterday, the national media bullied into silence a young man who had risen to fame speaking to audiences of young women and men about the lies that the grown-ups had told them for decades.

Lies about the relationship between women and men. That women don't need men. That all men are potential rapists. That women should aspire to something other than motherhood or they are wasting their lives. That women should like casual sex with strangers, hooking up just for the sake of the orgasm. That the children will be fine if their parents divorce. That abortion is morally good.

Everyone knows these are lies. The young woman who wakes up in the morning having lost her virginity to a man who isn't there and will not marry her. The young man who is tempted into exciting and transgressive sex with an older man and finds himself trapped by his desire in a lifestyle he cannot leave. The young woman who spends her most fertile years working in a career that leaves her childless at forty because she can no longer conceive and has no husband. The young man who has no ambition to work because he has no wife to care for or children to feed.

But the grown-ups tell them to shut up, not to complain. Don't they know how awful it is that women don't earn as much over the course of their lifetime as men? Don't they know that men are still the ones with all the power, even though the number of men completing higher education has continued to drop? Don't they know that nobody should be able to force a woman to bear a child she does not want, even if she did enjoy the sex by which the child was conceived?

And then a young man comes along and tells them, they were right all along. The young women wanted to be pretty, not grotesquely overweight. The young men wanted to be strong and vigorous and manly. The young women wanted babies as well as careers, and were willing to make adjustments to their ambition in order to stay home with their children. The young men wanted to be challenged to be gentlemanly and chivalrous.

"Gender roles work," the young man told them. "Feminism is cancer. Abortion is murder." And the young women and men cheered for him, because they loved him for telling the truth.

But one really must read the whole thing. Her piece only gets better. Bravissimo, Rachel!

Milo has himself explained his taped remarks that led to the book and speaking cancellations, and I think he’s being honest. His words on that taped segment moved into dangerous territory, as he has acknowledged, but I don’t think the interpretation put on them by many who only hear the clips stands up to the context Milo’s other work provides.

I trust Milo’s honesty. It’s in some ways his main salient characteristic, the very reason he is such a paradox, and surely the reason he drives our fake-ass left out of their minds.

We need Milo, more Milos, if only to help fight the authoritarian poison being pushed by SJWs and their millions of brainwashed cheerleaders. Nobody is fighting this fight as well as he has. This is his key role.

But he has another important role, though it’s hardly noticed. If it weren’t for the somewhat novel fact that this time it is a gay man taking up this persona, he’d be more easily recognized as a 21st-century version of a central Western type: the court jester, the Rabelaisian carnivalesque joker, a character like Robert Browning’s “Fra Lippo Lippi”. These characters, in their willingness to boldly embody the most troubling paradoxes--central among which the paradox that we are spiritual beings trapped in flesh--are a necessary part of any vibrant Western culture. As Catholic "with issues", Milo is playing this role, though, as I say, the fact has so far gone unnoticed.

Milo’s “dangers” are a sign of life, and compared to the dangers represented in the SJW crowd, they’re small beer.

Or in other words: Fascist my ass.

Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. at Amazon.com and begin the long, hard reckoning.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Barronelle Stutzman Case: Shame on the Washington Supreme Court

I’m deeply disturbed by the logical ineptitude of our courts whenever the case concerns religious liberty vs. LGBT rights.

Predictably, the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled against Barronelle Stutzman, the beleaguered 72-year-old florist who thought her religious liberty counted for something in America. I’ve been following this case since the beginning, and it has sickened me since the beginning. (Cf. Gay Marriage and the Bigotry of American Liberals).

Consider this element of the state’s argument against Stutzman, as reported in the CBS News piece on Stutzman’s court loss:

But the court held that her floral arrangements do not constitute protected free speech, and that providing flowers to a same-sex wedding would not serve as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.

“As Stutzman acknowledged at deposition, providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism,” the opinion said.

As even a smidgin of thinking would reveal, the state is making a false parallel here. Stutzman's religious beliefs would never in any case include the tenet that Muslims or atheists cannot marry. So of course making flowers for such weddings wouldn't offend against her faith regardless of what she thought of Islam or atheism. But her faith does include a basic tenet that she has bravely refused to offend against. Namely: Marriage is by definition between man and woman.

Amazingly, the Washington Supreme Court is lacking in basic ability to distinguish between categories necessary for even understanding the case. Such inability to think in such a body can only have two explanations: it’s either a result of rank stupidity or ideological animus. It’s pretty clear which we’re dealing with here.

And consider this:

Gov. Jay Inslee lauded Thursday’s ruling, saying it was “in favor of equality for all Washingtonians.”

“By ruling that intolerance based on sexual orientation is unlawful, the Court affirmed that Washington state will remain a place where no one can be discriminated against because of who they love,” Inslee said in a written statement.

Uh-huh. What in the hell is he talking about? Stutzman has never discriminated against anyone “because of who they love”. What she has done is simply refuse to make the flowers for a wedding she considers impermissible. Which is something completely different. For years she had been arranging flowers for Rob Ingersoll, the gay man suing her, all the while knowing he loved other men. In short, she never rejected the person because of what he was, but simply refused to take part in a wedding that her religion considered an offense against the meaning of marriage.

The right of the customer to be served regardless of who he is or how he lives should in the Stutzman case be recognized as secondary to the right of religious liberty: the right of the person of faith not to be compelled into actions that offend against that faith.

Shame on our courts. That our secular government, out of the blue, decided to redefine marriage does not entail that all citizens must agree on the redefinition. American laws are capable of balancing the rights of LGBT people and the rights of religious conservatives. So far, our courts have failed dismally in finding this balance.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ENDGAME: Why I’m finished with our liberal left

Maybe you’ve noticed this too.

I'm fifty now, and have been on the left my whole life. I remember clearly in the '90s and early 2000s how the single most infuriating thing about debating with Republicans was that they never allowed the conversation to stay on the point under discussion. Whenever you'd get them anywhere near giving a clear answer on something, or recognizing the simple facts you'd raised, they'd quick shift to some tangential issue: "But what about . . . ?" The constant derailment was maddening.

Just this week I've realized how many hours during the past year I've fallen into discussions just like this with Democrats. I've been voting Democrat my whole life, and used to have substantive policy discussions with other Democrats around me. But for a long time now, I keep running into fellow Democrats who are almost zombielike in the mechanical way they deflect. Jittery bullshit machines. It's the same runaround I used to face with most Republicans. The same nervous refusal to get anywhere near certain facts. And worst of all: it feels the same.

Which has finally convinced me of something I began to suspect around 2012. Democrats are the new Republicans. Standard issue GOP Republicans are still the old Republicans, I’d say. But Democrats are the new dumb kids on the block.

Of course now the Democratic topic du jour is the horror of Trump, of his every step and move and utterance. I agree with them on many of these things, but not all. But the key thing they still refuse to recognize: It was our own party’s choice to run Clinton that got Trump elected. It was our own party’s systematic snubbing of Bernie Sanders that led to Clinton’s win in the primaries.

As for Trump himself, putting aside the very serious flaws in his character, which may well prove fatal to his administration, the fact is he has already done three things that should immensely please the left: he summarily killed TPP, he granted union leaders a more cordial and substantive meeting than any Democratic president has given them in decades, and he signed an executive order banning his administration staff from lobbying for five years after their tenure is up.

Would Hillary have dared do any of these things? I highly doubt it. Yet each of them, looked at in itself, is a step in the right direction for American workers and government. Amazingly, on these three fronts Trump is actually to the left of Obama or Clinton.

I say I’ve voted Democrat my whole life, but I did not vote for Clinton this time. I just couldn't. The gulf has grown too vast. In fact I can hardly even talk to lifelong Dem friends about politics these days. They are unhinged. I don't see it as a symptom of fear in the face of Trump either. I see it as a new, uncanny, almost essentialist self-righteousness beyond argument. They assume they were "right", are "right" and will always be "right". Just because they are themselves.

What has happened to the party I long supported? I’m disgusted at the shallowness of political discussions among most Dems. Everything is identity politics and SJW cant. As for any substantive vision of America as a nation of particular people with a tradition and history, forget it. The only history they see is the history of grievances of this or that identity group. Some of those groups have real grievances, yes; others are clearly just riding the grievance cart for all it's worth.

Regarding serious issues, namely the hollowing out of the working class and the corporatization of everything, it’s clearly all peripheral to most Dems. They’re almost uniquely interested in ensuring people don’t say mean things, or offend people through “microaggressions”, or question this or that sub-doctrine of this or that SJW orthodoxy on immigration, LGBT rights, trans bathrooms, whatever. If you don’t agree with the whole list of their established doctrines, they look at you askance and start calling names.

The supposed left party in my country is no longer even on the left. It has become little more than a virtue-signaling gaggle of corporate puppets. And its full-throated adoption of neocon foreign policy makes it harder than ever to distinguish it from the original neocons around George W. Bush.

Last year much of the talk before the election centered on choosing the “lesser of two evils”. My thinking on this question hasn’t changed. Where Trump represents a kind of flailing, all-too-human evil, Clinton represents an incremental, methodical evil: the evil of a steady corporate takeover of what was once a democratic nation and is hardly so any longer.

But the corporate corruption of the Democratic Party is obvious and has been widely discussed. What hasn't been discussed is the intellectual corruption of so many Democratic voters and media talking heads. I don't see any hope for these folks. They've become machine-like in their knee-jerk reactions. This tangible shift, starting around 2012, has pushed me steadily away from this American “left”. And how would it not? I don’t share their social vision, I don’t share their corporate globalizing plans (as in TPP, now thankfully obsolete) and I don’t share their newfound hatred of open debate and free speech. It's this gang that poses the real authoritarian threat to our republic, more so than Donald Trump.

I am no longer with them. I'm actually glad they got their asses kicked in 2016. I will not be helping them in word or vote from here on out.

Check out my book Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos vs. America's So-Called Left: Front Lines in the Free Speech Battle

Let’s face it. The American left is a sick joke. I don’t even call it the left anymore. The “left” rather.

The current American left retains none of the positive aspects of the 20th-century left, but virtually all of the negative ones. It cares little about the serious social problems engendered by crony capitalism, focusing instead on the minutiae of political correctness vis-a-vis this or that clan of professional victims. It’s not so much interested in anyone’s actual rights. No, it is interested in groupthink and authority and its own ability to invent new “rights” to impose on society so as to demonstrate that authority. It is a cult, almost a new religion, of political correctness.

And worst of all, our left is now actually proud of the fact that it hates free speech. Its idea of progress--stated over and over in manifesto and university policy paper and demand list--is to ensure that every walking, breathing citizen agrees to its every ideological demand, and it will bully and silence them until they do so. It claims to champion diversity, but the only kinds of diversity it values are race or sexual preference. Diversity of thought is forbidden. Pro “diversity”, it is anti-pluralist and anti-liberal.

This left was on prominent display again last week at Berkeley, when SJW students threw a hissy fit that ended in a riot in protest against fact that Milo Yiannopoulos was going to speak there. And must of the left press gets it almost exactly wrong. Here’s David Kaye in the Guardian: "Our constitutional commitment to debate, dissent and freedom of expression is bumping up against hateful, attention-seeking speakers who rush up to, and often cross over into, incitement to violence, harassment and hatred."

The problem? The left has no “constitutional commitment to debate, dissent and freedom of expression". Kaye’s piece goes on, predictably, to blame the victims: Milo and those conservative students who wanted him to speak, and some of whom were seriously beaten by left protesters.

“Hateful, attention-seeking speakers”? “[Crossing] over into incitement to violence”? That is a description in this instance of the protesters, Mr. Kaye, not the conservatives who criticize those protesters.

University campuses are regularly visited by hateful speakers, employ hateful professors and are rocked by hateful gangs of students. But hateful as they are, and provocative as their speech might get sometimes, they are almost never called out as hateful and their comments are never called "harassment" or "incitement". Why not? Because these groups target, mock, or “call for action” against 1) men; 2) white people; 3) Christians. It’s not hate or harassment if you’re target isn’t one of the protected identities beloved of our SJW left.

I have spent plenty of time in these milieus, and the hatred that motivates these people is palpable. Yes, most of them do not call for actual violence in their pronouncements, but they do everything they can to shut up or ruin the careers of anyone who does not repeat their mantras. That this is true in our universities is depressing, but not surprising. But it is growing almost equally true in the corporate world.

Milo has never to my knowledge encouraged his admirers to engage in violence, but he has encouraged them to engage in scorn and laughter, neither of which (sorry kids) are "hate speech”. Scorn and laughter are elements of ridicule, and they fit with biting criticism, a necessary part in any democratic society. Ridicule or criticism is in fact what scorn and laughter ARE called when they come from the left. When Milo employs them, however, suddenly it is “hate speech”, and he must be shut up or shouted down or, if a lot of those Berkeley students had their way, beaten to death.

Let's be clear: Milo doesn’t consider black people, or transsexuals, or whatever group of people ridiculous or deserving of mockery per se. He doesn’t consider people ridiculous because of what they are. This is obvious to anyone who takes the time to listen to even a couple of his talks. Rather, what Milo seeks to ridicule are the hypocritical ways different groups politicize what they are through the playbook of our current left politics.

In America we have plenty of hard-edged satirists. One of them, a brilliant satirist on the liberal left, was Jon Stewart. Stewart employed the same arsenal of tropes and tricks used by Milo to make great fun of and throw scorn at: 1) political conservatives; 2) southern people; 3) rural people; 4) religious conservatives. But America called Stewart's work "comedy" or "satire", not "incitement" or "hate speech".

The lesson is: If you are on the left and point out the hypocrisy and stupidity of the left's favorite punching bags (southern whites, rural folks, Christians) it is “comedy”. If you are on the right and point out the hypocrisy and stupidity of left-wing campus ideologues, you are "inciting violence", "harassing", etc.

Our universities are in dire need of reform. It’s getting more obvious by the year. Universities must provide space for speakers or students or professors to speak their minds as long as they do not call for violence. But our campus administrations, fearful of the ire of the student left, functions by a glaring double standard. They do not apply the same standards to speakers on the left as it does to speakers on the right.

University administrations should enact strict policies ASAP that make it clear that protesting visiting speakers is any student’s right, but disrupting their talks or shutting down their talks through mass bullying is censorship and will not be tolerated. Campus police need to start monitoring events and protests and identifying those who seek to disrupt and censor in this way. I’m thinking: One strike and you’re warned, two strikes and you’re expelled.

In fact I'm not optimistic. Most American universities already are going out of their way to implement authoritarian speech codes so as to make everyone feel "welcome" and "safe". This is a grave mistake. University must be a place where young adults debate, where they are challenged out of their comfort zones and shaken out of their preconceived notions. University is not a place where students come to be coddled and celebrated.

It is time to stand up strong against this debased political movement that calls itself the left. Respect for open debate and free speech must be re-established in our public square and especially on our campuses. We need to recognize that free speech is not valuable when it protects popular opinions, but becomes valuable when it protects marginal opinions from being censored. Milo’s talks are well within the bounds of protected free speech. Universities that cannot protect his right to address students who invite him have failed in their most basic mission: to foster open debate between competing social or political views.

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