Friday, October 5, 2018

Who Makes The Rules?

     Enjoy a little television history: from the black-and-white days, it’s Abbott and Costello:

     Now you and I both know that no version of the game of poker honors anything like a “kangaroo straight.” Abbott sleazed that into being to collect the pot. Unfortunately, the YouTube clip ends there, because in the very next hand Costello presents a “kangaroo straight” and reaches for the pot, whereupon Abbott says “It’s only good once a game,” and rakes the pot in for himself.

     And with that, we turn to the news.

     Concerning modes of acceptable conduct between the sexes – and, sorry all y’all “genderqueer,” “two-spirited,” and the like: there are only two sexes — what are the rules, who established them, and who has the authority to amend or suspend them?

     Kurt Schlichter wants to know about that and more:

     Forgive my confusion, but I’m trying to figure out how this all works. If rules are going to guide my behavior by providing negative consequences for their violation, it’s not unreasonable to want to know exactly what they are. Except all these rules that I and other Normals are expected to follow, well, they don’t make a lot of sense. I just want to know what they are. Maybe you liberals and Fredocons can help a brother out.

     It’s quintessential Schlichter, so by all means read the whole thing. His point isn’t hard to discern.

     Social rules are not legislated laws. They don’t involve arrests, indictments, and trials. But some of them, historically, have been grounds for ostracism or worse. Woe betide him who violates one of those and fails to make amends. His life might as well end right then and there.

     The old Victorian phrase “That’s not done” is apposite here. It was a way of describing a firm social rule with severe penalties that everyone in Victorian society was expected to observe and enforce. God Himself couldn’t bail you out of a violation – and He would frown most severely upon one who failed to enforce such a rule when it demanded enforcement.

     If that sounds harsh, was. But it had several salutary effects:

  1. Parents were meticulous in teaching the rules to their children;
  2. Adults who sought to violate a rule made sure to do so secretly and with discretion;
  3. Legislated law did not address the realms of human conduct that were covered by the rules.

     Mind you, the rules were violated. Indeed, the rules concerning sexual conduct were violated rather frequently, at least if we can believe the statistics about prostitution during the Victorian Era. Nevertheless, men who patronized prostitutes endeavored to do so discreetly. They strove to keep their wives and children from finding out – and if a man’s misbehavior was discovered, he was expected to display extreme penitence and to make whatever amends he could to his wife, even if she were to divorce him for it.

     The rules demanded all of that.

     Victorian society didn’t possess some sort of board that met regularly to codify the social rules. They weren’t anyone’s conscious creation. They emerged epiphenomenally from other powerful and pervasive social currents, most notably Christianity.

     As the United States was largely the creation of colonists from England, the rules as the English observed, enforced, and promulgated them became our rules as well. We also inherited England’s Christianity, of course; the Christian faith and the rules went together. In consequence, Americans from the Founding Era forward tended toward Victorian norms of sexual conduct. Those norms had overwhelming force until about 1960.

     When the rules lose force, it’s unlikely that anything effective will replace them. Legislated law has sharp limits; a law that more than about 2% of a large population wants to violate or disdains to enforce is effectively null and void. Neither is it guaranteed that new rules with adequate cohesion and social concurrence will emerge.

     However, in recent years we have seen Leftist activists of various kinds attempt to proclaim new rules, founded on their own imagined authority. The militant feminists have tried it. The homosexuals have tried it. The “gender-fluid” camp is trying it as well. In the usual case, their enforcement mechanism is harassment, extortion, or blackmail. (Cf. this piece on “human resources” departments.)

     Owing to Leftist colonization of major commercial, educational, and entertainment institutions, plus the highly confused current state of sexual ethics, those activists have been getting their way...even when they change their rules in mid-stream.

     It is insufficient to wish for the old rules back. They’re not coming back; they’ve been shattered too completely to reassemble. Anyway, the Christianity that underpinned them has weakened too far to sustain them.

     Neither can legislation take the place of the old rules. As I mentioned in a conversation elsewhere, laws against adultery and fornication are on the books in every state of the Union. They’re not enforced; they don’t command adequate social concurrence for enforcement. You might as well try to enforce laws against selling and consuming alcoholic beverages. (Wait, what’s that you say? We’ve tried that? Oh, sorry; my mistake.)

     What we can do is deny the noisy activists their pretenses of authority. They who seek to pillory Brett Kavanaugh for imagined teenage misbehavior, while excusing Bill Clinton for his capric cavortings and Roman Polanski for actual, admitted rape of a young teenager, must be stepped on – hard. If there are no rules, then activists have no authority to make any — and certainly not to compose “rules” that only apply when it pleases them.

     For here we have an uber-rule that must be enforced lest society perish:

If there are rules, they shall apply:
1. To everyone,
2. At all times and places,
3. Regardless of anyone’s preferences.

     That’s the Big Rule: the one that determines whether we have a functioning society or a war of each against all. Verbum sat sapienti.

1 comment:

Michael Houst said...

1. To everyone

And that's a problem in a society where celebrities and those with immense wealth or political power get a bye for their violations.