Tag Archives: humanity

Unraveling

I won’t sugar-coat this – society is more polarized than a stack of Ray-Ban lenses and I’m getting heartily sick of it. But even worse are all the nauseating lies people tell about it.

When you are a single person, a small company, or a private forum, your exercise of the freedom of association doesn’t really cause any loss or inconvenience to anyone else. A person who can’t get a cake at my place can get it two blocks away. A person who can’t post on my blog can make their own.

But if an entire industry blackballs you? That’s a difference of kind – the choice to block someone else on Twitter is a lot different than Twitter itself banning a user. The one is idiosyncrasy, the other is policy; and both law and common understanding can recognize that a policy that is neither objective nor transparent is trouble.

Yet we’re told exactly the reverse: personal choices that must be controlled and enforced, while public policies are beyond reproach.

This inversion of term and meaning is the norm in other areas as well. If I express a different opinion it’s called violent, but if I’m punched in the head it’s called just an expression of opinion. If someone is provoked, they can’t fight back, but if they are attacked, it’s because they provoked it. Journalists openly alter, edit, and lie; those who merely report as is are called “not real journalists” who “distort the facts.” Misandry is called “feminism” and propaganda is called “education” and one’s sex is a matter of subjective declaration rather than biological fact.

This is the reason why I am often dispirited about the society my child is going to inherit. He is growing up in a world where terrible problems are growing worse and nobody can begin to solve them because the attempt to even talk about them is shouted down as “hate” and “bigotry.” It’s to the point where even the attempt to NOT talk about them, in favor of talking about just about anything else, is itself banned; and further, nobody who has disagreed about such things may be allowed to mingle. The common ground we used to have as a starting point has been seized by force.

This wonderful article makes this point (and more) about the recent decision of Ravelry’s founders to banish all pro-Trump users from their site. Note, this isn’t a decision to ban pro-Trump commentary, which would at least be arguable (if still ultimately unhealthy). It’s the people themselves, and anyone who protests the decision.

Those of us who are old enough to remember the 60s, 70s, and 80s remember the problems we faced far less than the ideals we faced them with, because we shared those ideals and faced the problems together. Such things were far bigger than any difference of opinion. We put unity into practice by setting aside differences to do things together – worship, watch the big game, listen to music, pursue hobbies, learn, explore, play – and we grew as people. We learned that many of those differences weren’t a matter of right and wrong, some very different people were actually pretty cool, our hearts were broadened and our minds were sharpened as we heard new ideas and explained our own.

A place like Revelry served as that common ground to grow together. Twitter, Google, YouTube, Amazon, Facebook – all the major players – grew into what they were precisely because at one time they WEREN’T “players.” They were the playing ground upon which the game was set.

One by one, all of them have become polarized, declared off-limits to the Wrong People by would-be kommisars. Now there are all these odious gatekeepers -who join these communities and assume control of them, then demand conformity of everyone else. They even dictate terms to anyone they’ve chased off. It’s more than just “We won’t read what you wrote, we won’t buy what you’ve knitted, we won’t listen when you sing,” it’s “You must never write, knit, and sing ever again. You will be punished for having done so by losing your job, even if you stop. You can lose your kids or be doxxed and attacked if we really feel like it, so you must not protest either.”

Worst of all is that this sort of anti-thought is now in government. People are winning office or lobbying the state or advocating in public to enshrine, in law, an official sanction against unapproved ideas. They have already begun a little ad-hoc private enforcement of same via their costumed mobs called Antifa.

They then claim that all of this is diversity, love, and inclusion. One might as well claim that arson, poison, and fasting are forms of good cooking.

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A familiar driver

If you spend a lot of time commuting, you have seen something just like this guy.

Maybe you’re trapped behind a semi and he’s the one zooming around you despite your blinker and your patient wait for passing room. Maybe you were already passing, in which case he’s riding your bumper like you hitched him up, eager to dart through a gap approximately six inches larger than his own car. Maybe you’re stopped altogether and he’s rolling the shoulder.

In any scenario the common denominator is that you are In His Way, much like one of these unfathomable stacks of pixel and polygon:

Same concept, really. Jack Baruth quotes the Last Psychiatrist’s definition of narcissism, that the narcissist is the star of his own movie. Even that, I think, might sell it short, unless the movie is an epic in a Cinematic Universe and he’s the only one with standalone films. But watching that fool in the race video slaloming around all the other drivers put me much more in mind of a video game player. After all, in a movie there may be one major star but the other characters are, at least, characters… in a video game a person might be the only actual human player, and everyone else around him is by definition obstacles to surmount: some enemy to dispatch, or someone whose sole purpose to exist is to give him the geegaw that completes a quest or lets him defeat the level boss. Or worst of all, just something that is stupidly, pointlessly blocking his way when he has Important Him Stuff to be done.

Well, eff you for being In His Way.

I will admit that I haven’t read the comments there yet, so I don’t know if one of those folks has made either of these connections. I was away for a week and missed the column at the time. Still worth bringing up here not only for the video game player angle, but also because it was the first thing I noticed when I was watching the embed at Riverside Green… this guy didn’t notice that suddenly he was torching a track full of cars? Even from the camera I could see the flags he tore past, but more to the point, I also saw that very few, if any, of the other drivers were trying to block him or – and this is key – pass each other. Sure, he’s dusting them so in his mind, haha, they can’t catch me… but they would also be trying to move up all around him. Even in a racing game the CPU drivers are jockeying with each other for position.

So in one way, this guy is worse than a video game player because even that detail misses his notice. But beyond this, I brought up commuting because anyone with even passing familiarity with highway driving recognizes the signs of a whole roadway slowing down, even in mid-pass: it means the State Patrol is waiting on the shoulder, harvesting the ignorant. So even if this gentleman was just a dabbler in his very first road race, he should have picked up on this. It takes no skill. All you need to do is not be obsessed with what’s going on in your own imagination.

(As an added wrinkle – I was on an out-of-state trip to visit with family when I missed Jack’s post. It’s a substantial, all-day-in-the-car affair to make the trip, more apt a comparison to an endurance race like the one shown than is a daily commute, even a lengthy one. You have to keep aware at all times. If the trip’s 12 hours, it’s not good enough to be crash-free for 11:58 and then tell everyone “Eh, what can you do, right?” while they airflight out the family in the minivan you crushed. You are the jockey, not the horse, and cannot drive with blinders on.)

A counteroffensive

Author Sarah A Hoyt is having a small difficulty writing about friendship.

The difficulty is in the tendency of all too many folks to Werthamize everything. There’s no such thing as text, only subtext, and that subtext needs must be sexual. Oh, but not openly… never openly, because the author is secretly a repressed homophobe of some sort who won’t give the fictional friends their proper due. It’s crypto-closeted.

CS Lewis dealt with this sort of unfalsifiable non-argument with the scorn it deserved in The Four Loves, saying that it was akin to stating, “If an invisible cat was sitting in that chair, it would look empty; it looks empty; therefore an invisible cat is sitting there.” He’s right, but of course the debunkers and scoffers don’t care. The argument HAS to be impossible to prove or disprove. That’s a feature, not a bug.

The Four Loves was published in book form in 1960, and as Ms. Hoyt’s difficulty shows, things haven’t gotten any easier for an author… or, for that matter, a friend. It’s part of the systematic campaign to dehumanize all of us and turn us into insects in a hive: all alike, all interchangeable, and above all, easily controlled and herded. There’s only one queen in a hive, easily overwhelmed by sheer numbers if it came to that. It never does. An ant or a bee that starts to behave erratically and out of concert with the others will be set upon by its fellows and destroyed.

That is the method by which the machine runs. Once social engineering and politic correctness take a deep-enough root, our community gets to the point where any deviation from the common doesn’t have to be dealt with by the leaders or tone setters, but by one’s own neighbors and coworkers. Continue reading