Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Siege Has Lifted

I’ve solved my work problem, for the moment at least, and am now free to discourse on important stuff again. Let’s see: Ebola, Iran, ISIS, the economy, the emasculation of the military, the drive for amnesty for illegal aliens, same-sex to choose, how to choose...

Ah! I have it! Something of genuinely universal interest!

Brace yourselves, Gentle Readers. Here it comes, in glorious Technicolor. Or perhaps that should be “Here she comes.”

I don’t spend a lot of time on the travails of celebrities. Such folks enjoy blessings beyond those bestowed on the rest of us, and anyway, their troubles are mostly of their own making. Yet now and then, a case will strike me as worthy of the attention of a Certified Galactic Intellect...though not always because of its intellectual rigor.

I style myself a libertarian-conservative: politically libertarian (though with exceptions), but conservative in personal practices. But as the years have passed, I’ve detected an increase in mean-spiritedness among vocal conservatives that makes me uneasy about asserting even a personal inclination in that direction.

I’ll grant you that there’s mean-spiritedness in every political family. I’ll go further: quite a number of persons in the public eye are their own worst enemies, should be smart enough to know it, and therefore deserve no sympathy for their self-inflicted ills. But:

  1. There are a few celebrities who, appearances notwithstanding, should receive “the benefit of the doubt” when events turn against them;
  2. There are excellent reasons never to speak ill of anyone with whose conduct one is not personally, even intimately familiar.

The recent pirated nude photo scandal, which affected several entertainment celebrities, is a case in point. Just incase you’ve spent the last month in a medically induced coma, the outline of the thing is simple: the aforementioned celebrities unwisely left nude photos of themselves on a “cloud” server; some enterprising hacker broke the server’s security; and the photos made their way into wide circulation to the consternation, whether real or pretended, of those depicted. Outrage ensued.

Prominent among those whose nude shots have been glommed and redistributed is double-Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence is currently the number-one box office draw in movies, and for very good reasons: she’s beautiful, immensely talented, personable off-camera, and has had the good sense or good fortune to land the most striking and appealing roles imaginable, including Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games movies and Mystique in the X-Men prequels.

Lawrence has expressed unconditional outrage at the violation of her privacy:

Vanity Fair released the full interview with actress Jennifer Lawrence in which she discussed the nude photo scandal that rocked Hollywood in late-August.

Lawrence, a primary target in the scandal, reportedly called out celebrity blogger Perez Hilton for sharing explicit images of her on his website. He removed the photographs shortly after he posted them and apologized by saying he's often forced to make "quick decisions" at work.

“He took it down because people got pissed, and that's the only reason why,” she said. “And then I had to watch his apology. And what he basically said was, ‘I just didn't think about it.’ ‘I just didn't think about it’ is not an excuse. That is the exact issue itself.”

This “Perez Hilton” creature is a scandal-mongering gossip columnist, a flaming-queen homosexual activist, and unrestrainably vicious toward persons who disagree with his political views. He has no genuine accomplishments to his name.

You would think, given the violation of privacy involved and the publicly known characters of the principals, that good-hearted, well-raised persons would automatically side with Lawrence over “Hilton.” It ought not to require any thought. But it would seem that some of the vocal self-styled conservatives who comment at the Breitbart/Big Hollywood site are neither good-hearted nor well-raised. Read the comments and decide for yourself.

I smell rampant envy. I smell worse than that: big-mouthed hypocrites who are eager to see the high brought down, even if it’s by a despicable specimen such as “Hilton.”

The “she ought to have known better” crap is exactly that: crap. The companies that promote the use of their “cloud” services are forever telling us about the depth and power of their security measures. Is a very young professional actress, highly unlikely to have been schooled in the technologies and their vulnerabilities, supposed to be more aware of the risks than the average non-technical American? If the same thing were to happen to any of her detractors, would they enjoy the degree of opprobrium that they’ve heaped upon Jennifer Lawrence? Would they feel their naivety had earned it?

Let’s not neglect the other aspect of the matter: that Lawrence photographed herself in the nude so her boyfriend would have a sensuous reminder of her when the two of them were far from one another. There are “conservatives” reproaching her for that, too. Apparently that Lawrence would permit someone – someone other than themselves, that is – to see her in all her unclothed glory grates unbearably across their neo-Grundyish sensibilities.

Glory be to God! What is wrong with these people? Have they never been young and in love, even if unwisely? Have they never wanted to keep a lover mindful of them when far away? Are they aware of how their blue-nosed priggishness makes them look to the young Americans who will soon be this nation’s governing cadre?

I can’t help but quote what Robert A. Heinlein said in Glory Road: “Some people disparage the female form divine. Sex is too good for them; they should have been oysters.” Perhaps it’s that; perhaps it’s the old “Madonna or whore” dichotomy returned to feast upon the good sense of the living; perhaps it’s more of the envy that fuels their all too obvious Schadenfreude over Lawrence’s victimization. It could well be all three.

If a freedom-respecting conservatism that’s aligned with American traditions is to make a comeback, the sort of venomous backbiting the “conservatives” above have allowed themselves must cease. Indeed, it must be whipped back in to the cur’s kennel from which it issues. It’s time we learned true tolerance, not merely tolerance for private behavior of which we’re willing to approve where others can hear us.

To those inclined to cross swords with me on this issue:

  • Don’t prattle to me about religion. Religion is a personal choice. I have mine; you have yours; Jennifer Lawrence has hers. I doubt we agree on very much, even if we tout the same labels.
  • Don’t rant to me about “public decency.” The public’s decency is very much in question. At any rate, it’s the hackers and the “Perez Hilton” vermin who violated it, not Jennifer Lawrence.
  • Don’t bore me with any fantasies about what your daughter would or wouldn’t do. The odds are about nine to one that your conception of your daughter’s convictions and preferences is a protective fantasy – protective of you, not her.
  • In fact, just don’t argue with me about this. Learn some charity and humility, and learn to practice them, especially when it seems the hardest.

Case closed.