I am sorry, dear readers, if my opinions often are disruptive to the status quo or make you feel weird about visiting this site. But I’ve been online for half of my life. I have never thought the internet to be a particularly dangerous place but I do now. We’re building a rat ship here, to quote Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. It’s a rat ship made of newly minted puritans who believe fervently in a new religion that makes sense of their world and that religion does what all religions do – it persecutes non-believers, it forces one to conform or face shunning. On the upside, at least people aren’t being killed – so there’s that. The downside is that we have created a climate of fear.
The people who CAN say something SHOULD say something. I’m old – I have lived a pretty good life so far, all things considered. I now must fight for a better world for my daughter who is coming of age into this psychotic one. She is a creative, brilliant, compassionate, caring person who, like so many of you, has a right to stretch her legs and find some kind of honesty in both the art she receives and the art she makes. But right now, she, like so many others, are being reduced to the ways they can be punished, each and every day for something they do “wrong.” Orwell would call it “wrong think” and we truly are in the era of children spies where we are all constantly being monitored for anything we might say or do to get ourselves shamed publicly or have our platforms removed.
Okay so maybe that isn’t the worst thing in the world, you might think. Try having real problems, you might think. And yeah, I’d agree with that. But I’d add that you can’t even get to the real problems because all of this nonsense stands in the way.
Your choices are to be silent to save yourself, to stand up against it and destroy yourself, or the worst of all of them, to pander to it. Don’t pander to it. If you don’t go along with it, stay silent. Spare yourselves the shame of the future looking back at you and your having to live with having pandered to a force you know in your bones is wrong.
You can’t tell people not to belong to their new found religion. When I was a kid it was “born again Christians” who had seen the light and they wanted nothing more than to convert you to to it. There were cults that rose up in the 1970s after the 1960s mostly collapsed as America flung itself at Ronald Reagan in 1980 for some kind of structured and productive life. And that is exactly what is going to happen now. Why? Because look at how crazy things have gotten with the Left in power. You’d think – wow, we just won the election and hold all three branches of government. Now we can show the American people that we really are the better leaders for this country.
Think again. We are showing nothing of the kind. Why? Because we are not leading in a time where we need leadership. We’re leaving the pushback against the new McCarthyism to the Republicans and to Trump specifically. We’re leaving it all on the table. Why? Out of FEAR. We’re all afraid to be called out as racists or phobes of one kind or another.
If you look throughout history you’ll see that episodes like this repeat themselves. You can read the book Pendulum and you will see very easily how quickly well meaning cultures can morph into punitive, terrified witch hunt cultures. You know, therefore, where all of this is headed. We’re not going to be living in a perfectly controlled Utopia where no person ever makes a mistake and reading Dr. Seuss or Mark Twain is verboten. That isn’t going to happen. Humans, like information, want to be free.
So, it was to my great relief to see Bill Maher speak out on what is happening to our culture right now. I would only add to this that one of the mistakes people on the Left make is that they believe they can have it both ways: they can be opposed to Trump and the GOP and also opposed to “cancel culture.” But I personally believe you have to weigh each case with appropriate consideration. You have to defend those who are losing their jobs because they wore a MAGA hat just as you would someone who lost their job (cough cough New York Times) for saying the “n word” while trying to clarify the meaning of the word in context.
The Trump line means people continue to live in fear of whatever it is Trump represents to them and to most he is the Devil himself, riding into Salem as their greatest fear realized. In Salem, they had no education other than the Bible, which taught them to fear the Devil as the one thing that could break them. They were facing nonstop attacks from Native Americans who (justifiably) were fighting for their land. They were facing a brutal winter and then the witches came. Sound familiar? Much of today’s generation has been educated on a kind of puritanical ideology of “goodness” and “purity” in being on the right political side – no one is offended or marginalized, etc. Trump busted up all of it. And threatened all of it. Usually there is fear and hysteria that follows a threat to a constructed Utopia. In Salem, “the shining city on the hill,” in the 1950s it was Americana threatened by Communism. These accusations are often based on “spectral” evidence that proves a person is secretly a witch, a secretly a communist, or secretly a racist or a transphobe, etc. One tweet proves the guilt and the offender must be persecuted and then purged to maintain the Utopia.
But Utopias never last. They depend on the idea that a fundamentally imperfect species can ever be perfect. Corporations are pandering to it because their survival depends on it, at least for now. The worm will turn on them, as it always does to those who cave to this kind of trial by mob. Corporations do not care about any one person, even a high profile one. They care about their own image and their bottom line. So if all of them, out of fear, affixed a “Black Lives Matter” policy to their website then they must comply when they are accused of being in any way close to an accused [insert offending label].
Thus, as long as Trump is the main warrior against “cancel culture,” because he’s the main person in the public eye fighting against it, so too will the Left feel the need to fight FOR IT, to maintain it as a part of their platform, as you can plainly see by how the Biden administration, or any person in government on the Left is saying nothing about it.
It’s a growing problem for a community that supposedly is about freedom of expression, truth in art, daring and provocative messages. Artists aren’t here to make your world okay. Or to make you feel safe. That isn’t their job. And if we continue to police them, and each other, I’m not sure where all of this ends up.
Most people agree with Bill Maher. They are just afraid to say so. Twitter will dunk on him for having Megyn Kelly on his show or some such. If your only reality is Twitter you will have a distorted view of what most of Americans think. The bottom line is this: we all know it’s wrong. If one out of 10 incidents is justified, that still leaves 9 of 10 that aren’t. Some of us who are brave enough to say so, should say so.