Friday, April 17, 2015

Repression And Rebellion

     Commentator and television host Greg Gutfeld notes an important development today:

     Hosted by Kevin Hart, guests on the Comedy Central Bieber Roast included the aging Snoop Dog, the salty Natasha Leggero, the forgettable Ludacris, and the good sport that is Martha Stewart. Many of the jokes were likely written by Redeye favorite Jesse Joyce, or maybe Kurt Metzger. The jokes won’t be retold here, but to summarize: the barbs directed at Martha were filthy, Leggero was referred to as a whore multiple times, Ross compared Shaquille O’Neal to King Kong, jokes were made at the expense of a comedian’s dead father (some by the comedian himself) – who died on 9/11. The content was racist, sexist, sizest, homophobic, transist (not sure that’s a word), and most of all hurtful. It was all a disgusting mess, for the most part (it’s a roast, people).

     In short, if any of this stuff had been said anywhere else — on campus, or twitter – the speaker would be shamed into oblivion.

     (Unless, of course, you’re Trevor Noah, and have Jon Stewart’s blessing).

     It’s the only place – and perhaps the last place for now, where you can still make jokes about illegitimacy, suffering, and death – and get away with it.

     I got the sense from watching it, that the roast has become less about ripping apart of a famous celebrity, but more a release valve in an increasing uptight, suffocating culture. The spread of manufactured moralism – where a joke or hypothetical situation (as rebel thinker Gavin McInnes posits) takes on the appearance of a threat greater than actual physical harm – is now driving real, authentic freedoms into careful pockets. The roast is more cathartic than funny.

     There’s a reason for the similarity between the words repression and pressure.

     That which we repress has a tendency to mushroom inside us. Should the pressure build beyond our capacity to withstand it, the eruption can be dramatic...and violent. This is as true of legally or socially-enforced norms as it is of a bad belch.

     The Left’s current campaign to control our thinking by controlling what we may say is having exactly this effect. Think of all the individual words their forces have tried to ban. I’ve written about this before, of course, but the Left’s campaign has moved into even higher gear in the most recent years. A good example is the attempt by the supporters of Hillary Clinton to forbid a wide range of criticisms of Her Royal Majesty as “sexist” – in truth, as verbal lese majeste.

     A bit after the original “Shamans” post cited above, I wrote in a coda:

     Linguistic taboos, bad enough in themselves, are an entering wedge for other sorts of controls. When the taboo crosses from being cause for castigation to being a justification for punishment, genuine censorship has arrived.

     Does anyone doubt that this is the next stop on the Left’s crusade? But equally, does anyone doubt that a backlash is building – indeed, as Gutfeld strongly hints, that safety valves, though they’re already opening, will ultimately prove insufficient – and that the eventual rebellion will be horrible?

     The dynamic that fuels censorship is bifurcated. For some, it’s a tactic employed in the implementation of an agenda. For others, it’s merely a way to enjoy what they find most pleasurable: the exercise of power.

     He who lusts for power over others is inherently evil. I trust this requires no great argument in its justification. The evil man, once he has some degree of power, will use it to acquire more, for power is a drug that doesn’t sate. However, the enjoyment of power requires that it be used. For, as O’Brien said to Winston in 1984, to enjoy your power, you must be actually coercing your victim at the moment:

     ‘How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?’
     Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he said.
     ‘Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.’

     But this sin, like many others, carries the seeds of its own comeuppance. Driving critical and hostile speech underground makes it even more dangerous to the ruling elites than driving a religion underground. It increases otherwise uninvolved persons’ interest in what's being said, and why, and why it’s being suppressed, and whether it might be true. Of course, you can’t expect the ruling elites or their protected mascot-groups to realize any of that; they’re getting too much of a thrill out of the power they wield.

     It often seems to me as if Tyrant's Disease has a built-in antibody in the form of Tyrant's Arrogant Stupidity. This is such an occasion. Unfortunately, the cure is at least as unpleasant as the disease itself.

     Nothing under the veil of time is truly stable. Every life, however long, will end. Every institution, however mighty, will eventually fall. Even black holes will collapse through quantum evaporation. Even baryons will eventually decay. The one thing we can count on is that “this too shall pass away.”

     The Left’s burgeoning censorship regime, today being imposed mainly by excoriation rather than by law, will pass away as well. What follows could be unbelievably ugly; let us pray that it not be so. But the probability of a horrifying result increases with every word or phrase that’s deemed unspeakable, and every thought that’s deemed beyond the pale. It is our right and our duty to resist, not merely for the preservation of freedom in our time, but to minimize the destruction that will follow when the Left’s house of cards collapses.

     “Inevitable” is a word one should use only with great caution. But if all things must pass, then the collapse of the Left-imposed regime of speech and thought is inevitable, as is the backlash that will follow should it not be fought back while we still possess the numbers, the means, and the will.

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