“…Because That Is According To My Principles”

I don’t think there was a single year in my academic experience where I was not significantly disciplined for some reason. Sometimes it was for playing elaborate pranks on people, sometimes it was for mocking the administration, and once it was for snap-kicking a fellow shop-class student in the chin after said fellow student tried to hit me with a home-made “bo staff”. (No, smart-asses of the Internet, I didn’t assume the “crane position” first. I wish I had, though!) Time after time, I was told that I would amount to nothing in this world unless I stopped being combative, argumentative, offensive, you name it. Maybe all those nuns, vice principals, and Residence Life administrators were right — but let the record show that they faded into obscurity while I rose to become the second most popular writer on my own website. (The first, of course, is Thomas Klockau.)

After fifteen and a half years of school (skipped two grades, took a leisurely 4.5 years to get my bachelor’s) I learned to sense in advance when I was about to be suspended or expelled, which is why my stomach churned in sympathetic anxiety when I read the above document. It tells a student that he will be subject to an uninterrupted harangue from his peers. In what world is that a reasonable way to treat a university student? And where would someone learn that kind of disciplinary tactic?

Continue Reading →

The Uneasy Romance Between “Black Lives Matter” And Gun Control

Way before “check your privilege”, we had “check your premises.” The phrase is commonly attributed to Ayn Rand and her novel Atlas Shrugged, which tells us that “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

It was useful advice sixty years ago, but it is essential advice in an age where the Seven Deadly Sins have been replaced with the Two Deadly-To-Your-Career Sins of “ism” and hypocrisy. We are absolutely obsessed with hypocrisy nowadays. Neal Stephenson offers a thought-provoking reason for that obsession in his novel The Diamond Age: “It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticize others–after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism?” I would also suggest that modern Americans find hypocrisy comforting, because it relieves our consciences. Why shouldn’t we indulge in the worst perversions possible and permit ourselves every selfish excess? Those priests and pastors and politicians are even worse! Newt Gingrich divorced his wife, so why should we listen to his opinions about abortion? You get the idea.

Today’s political pundits just adore finding hypocrisy in the actions of their opponents. Mark Zuckerberg says we should have open borders, but he has a ten foot wall around his mansion! Donald Trump says we need to restrict immigration, but his wife was admitted under a special program! While there are plenty of actual cases where people are absolute filthy hypocrites, in many cases we can resolve or dissolve the so-called hypocrisy by checking our premises. Here’s an example: It’s often noted that “pro-life” people are often in favor of capital punishment, while “pro-choice” people are often against it. Aren’t they both hypocrites? Probably not. Pro-life people believe that a fetus is a child, and a child is innocent. On the other hand, a murderer is not innocent, and therefore he can be put to death. On the other side of the matter, pro-choice people often believe that a fetus is “just tissue”, while a murderer on Death Row is a fully-formed human being who deserves humane treatment. There is no contradiction in either of those stances. The perceived hypocrisy is a product of deliberately misunderstanding the other side’s ideas.

There’s quite a bit of discussion among the alt-right about the perceived hypocrisy or stupidity of the Black Lives Matter movement. This meme sums it up: BLM supposedly thinks all police are racist and evil — but they also think that only police should be allowed to have guns! Now that is some serious hypocrisy — enough that I decided to take a closer look at what the BLM position on gun control really is. Turns out that things are not nearly that simple.

Continue Reading →

The Lovers, Of Dreamers, And E(lon Musk)

“Two movies on a single screen.” That’s how Scott Adams described the American reality right now. We are all watching the same events unfold, but we are seeing those events from two perspectives. Consider the very popular book and play Wicked; that’s a re-telling of “The Wizard Of Oz” from the perspective of a Wicked Witch. If you’ve read the book, then you now have two perspectives on that story — but you likely prefer one of the two, and consider it to be the “real” perspective.

When it comes to the “Dreamers”, the between 1.8 and 3.6 million illegal/undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents, the “red” and “blue” movies are, as you’d expect, quite different. Rather than get caught up in the numbers of how many “Dreamers” are in the US military (about 900, considerably less by percentage than native African-Americans) or how many are in prison (about 1,500 — which is also considerably less by percentage than native African-Americans), I just want you to look at the two people above. Try to get a sense of who they are, what their story might be, and which side of the Narrative they serve. Then we can talk about them.

Continue Reading →

More Pertinently, When Will They Love Their Kids More Than They Love Getting Raw-Dogged By A Stranger?

Crisis actors. It’s not a phrase I’d heard prior to this week, but after the school shooting in Parkland, FL it’s become a part of the conversation. Some people say that these tragedies are “false flags”, bolstered by a passage in a rather infamous conspiracy-nut buff book in which the author details methods by which the government encourages school shooters. Others are troubled by the idea of an FBI agent’s son giving talking points to victims as he supposedly interviews them right in the middle of the shooting. There’s also something just a bit squicky about the rapidity with which the media rolls out coordinated talking points on gun control even as people are still dying in their classrooms — to say nothing about the insanity of CNN promoting voting rights for 16-year-olds.

(The conspiracy theorist in me says that this “16-year-olds should vote” crap is part of a general campaign to normalize pedophilia, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

For the moment, however, let’s use Occam’s Razor and let the simplest explanation suffice: these school shootings are real, they are not the product of hypnotism or even violence-inducing anti-depressants, and they are happening in more or less the reported fashion — in other words, there are no mystery shooters or deep-state agents getting involved. The question any sane person would ask is simple: why are they happening?

As it turns out, there are some simple statistical correlations that lead to some extremely unpleasant conclusions.

Continue Reading →

If You Have Powerful Enemies, Watch Out For The “Head Shot”

I’m in the process of watching The Wire all the way through again, mostly because I’m doing a lot of air travel and I’m too lazy to read all the books I should be reading during that time. One of the more interesting aspects of the show is how often its creator, David Simon, used real people from the Baltimore streets instead of trained actors. The most commonly-cited example was Snoop, who actually killed someone on the streets prior to acting on the show, but there are at least six Baltimore cops, including two former commissioners, who are on the show in one role or another.

During the first season, a fellow named Ed Norris plays a wisecracking cop who keeps saying that someone needs to fix the department. It’s an inside joke; Norris was actually the police commissioner at the time. After his time on “The Wire”, Norris did six months in jail thanks to a prosecutorial technique known as the “headshot”.

I didn’t know what the headshot was until this morning. I kind of wish I still didn’t know. If you’re ever owned a home or a rental property, you’ll want to, as they say, read all about it.

Continue Reading →

Turns Out That W Is Just Alright With Us Now

You knew it was just a matter of time, right? That good ol’ boy, George W. Bush, is now seen favorably by nearly two-thirds of the nation’s populace. According to the latest CNN poll, W has a 61% approval rating, as opposed to just a 33% disapproval rating. If you’re playing along at home, this is almost a complete flip from where he was on Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day, when he had just a 34% approval rating. Freaking democrats approve of W, 54-41.

Even more mind-boggling is the fact that W had the highest disapproval rating of any president in history during his final year in office. 71% of Americans disapproved of Bush’s job performance in May of 2008. So what gives?

In your humble author’s opinion, it has a lot more to do with the current president than W, himself. In order to understand a little more, let’s take a look at how we viewed another president of the recent past—William Jefferson Clinton.

Continue Reading →

The Next American Civil War, Like The Last One, Is Blue Vs. Grey

Last week, one of our readers suggested that I read “I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup”, a long and detailed post by psychiatrist Scott Alexannder on his Slate Star Codex site. You’re encouraged to read the whole thing if you have time — it’s about 10,000 words — but if you don’t I’ll boil out the three critical parts for you in bite-sized portions. They are:

0. Tribal America
1. Never A Coward Where The Muezzin Calls
2. Just A Touch Of Grey

I will also do something that Mr. Alexander does not do, and that is: attempt to pinpoint the reason for our transition from communities to tribes.

Continue Reading →

Five Thousand Keywords For Redneck

Tomorrow I’m going to write a longer post on the idea of “Red Tribe” and “Blue Tribe” as discussed in an article recommended by one of our commenters here. Before I do, however, I want to pre-discuss an idea that figures very large in the essay: the idea that very few of us have any regular and significant acquaintance with people who possess a genuinely different set of beliefs from ours. Never before has our society been quite so completely segmented — not by race, color, or religious creed, but by adherence to common fundamental assumptions. If you believe that “no human is illegal” and that there should be no barriers whatsoever to immigration, chances are that you don’t have regular interactions with people who want to Build! That! Wall! and so on. If you think that owning a personal firearm is an essential part of being an American citizen, then chances are that you don’t hang out on the weekends with people who donate to anti-gun causes.

The reasons for this are many, but I’d suggest that the primary and most substantial force behind this voluntary segregation is our move from physical communities to virtual ones. And before you tell me that your life isn’t like that at all, I’ll explain further.

Continue Reading →

What I Learned From Watching The Gorilla Channel

If you’re a “citizen of the Internet”, or one of the “Twitterarti” — in other words, if your job is so short on actual work that you can spend your day on your phone or computer keeping up with the latest tempest-in-a-teapot — then you’ve no doubt heard about the “Gorilla Channel”. If you haven’t, here’s the story in a nutshell. The author Michael Wolff has written and released a book about President Trump, whom he calls “aberrant” although he sang a different tune when he was writing the book. Although I haven’t read the book (and probably won’t, I don’t care for detailed psuedo-insider portraits of things that happened just months ago) it is being widely reported as being thoroughly critical of Trump, often to a degree that worries pundits on both sides of the aisle.

Yesterday, a Twitter humorist who goes by the handle of @PixelatedBoat decided to publish a fake “excerpt” from the book. It’s far from the first time he has done something like this, as you’ll see. But this time was special — because his parody page, which claimed that Trump spent 17 hours a day kneeling in front of a television and talking to gorillas, was taken as absolute gospel by a variety of heavy-duty left-wingers, including a few writers at the New York Times.

Continue Reading →