The most frightening words in the language are these: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." --Ronald Reagan (paraphrase)
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda, is now well- remembered for his remark that "Whenever I hear the word culture I reach for my gun." Since I find myself at least a little sympathetic with Dr Goebbels' attitude, particularly in view of the dumpster-loads of government-supported pop-art, op-art and slop-art that assault our senses omnipresently, I do not hesitate to echo his quotation in expressing my own feelings about a recent piece by the principal Jewish minister of neo- conservative propaganda, Irving Kristol, ubermensch of a pompous pulpy periodical called The Public Interest: Whenever I hear the phrase it's for your own good, I reach for my pen.
Now let me begin by stating my bias: I like sex and violence, at least of the cinematic variety. And I deeply resent the pontifications of a pretentious and pusillanimous piffle-brain like Mr Kristol which asseverate, on the basis of the flimsiest possible evidence, that it is time to shred the Constitution (actually, "only" the First Amendment) in order to "help" society, and particularly for the good of "the children" ("Sex, Violence and Videotape", Wall Street Journal, 31 May 94). In particular I feel compelled to respond to Mr Kristol by quoting the only genuine reprobate to ever be depicted on a government postage stamp, Henry David Thoreau, who said, "When you see someone coming toward you who wants to do you a good turn, run for your life." And to this I would add that, if the do-gooder in question is trying to do it "for the children", then one can be pretty sure that this do-gooder occupies approximately the same moral position as a rapist who makes his escape by shielding himself with his victim's offspring.
Now as I have long maintained, there is really only one good reason for prudery, and that is to make sex more exciting. That is, good sex requires a certain amount of tension and shock, and if everybody and their sexy sister is walking around in a state of deshabille -- or even worse, naked (Have you ever experienced the sterility of a nudist camp?) -- then sex becomes ratha boring, dahling. And that is why I am against bearing the teats and fucking in the streets, even if there are no horses to frighten nowadays. So if conservatives -- or neo-conservatives, as I understand Mr Kristol calls himself -- were only out to make sex better, then I might not react so strongly. But the fact is, conservatives don't usually care that much for sex, and in fact a good many of them probably can't even get it up, which may have something to do with the fact that so many of the so- called censors in days gone by seemed to be people whose primary motivation was to revel in the "smut" that they had taken away from others in the line of "duty", perhaps in hope that they might one day get it up again. But even if the motivation of would-be censors is not to excuse their reveling in feelthy peectures, it is surely guided by HL Mencken's observation that the greatest fear of the puritan is that somewhere, somehow there is someone who is having fun.
But whether you agree or not with the above disquisition, the fact remains that the strongest argument against Mr Kristol's argument is Mr Kristol's argument. True, he begins with the eyebrow-raiser that violence among youngsters took a big jump after the introduction of tv, but then goes on to admit that the "overall, average response" to tv was "indeed weak". He justifies his censorial attitude, however, by the declaration that censorship is directed toward those "on the margins", who are presumably pushed over the edge by tv violence and whatever-the-hell-else it is that Mr Kristol wants to chuck down the memory hole. Or to put it in other words, because free speech doesn't work for those "on the margins", it's just fine and dandy to take it away from everybody. Should we label this kind of illogic "Kristol Blue Movie Persuasion"?
But Kristol's argument is really weaker than this. For one thing, as Mr Kristol's co-ethnicist/religionist Benjamin Disraeli once noted, there are lies, damned lies and statistics. This was brought home to me as a first- year physics major at college: When a lab experiment didn't turn out quite the way we in the class expected it, the student assistant showed us how to manipulate the figures to improve our putative results -- all quite proper from a mathematical standpoint, but frankly rather shocking from the viewpoint of someone so naive as to believe that science was all about discovering Truth (Note: I later changed my major to math). This matter of the fallibility of statistics has been impressed on me again and again in my profession as a commodity trader, where if the conclusions of the statistics were all true, then everyone in my profession who bought and followed just one of the systems whose ads I receive in the mail almost daily would be as rich as Croesus -- a fact which impels me to suggest that a requirement for anyone doing statistical work is that he be required to wager a substantial amount of money on a prediction based on the conclusions.
What I am getting at is this: Even the simplest phenomena of this world are potentially of infinite complexity, this being because there are a potentially infinite number of variables which may have a significant impact on the data, from air temperature and electromagnetic fields to the effects of the stars and the planets. So even finding a statistically significant correlation among data is hardly a discovery of "cause", as is demonstrated by the syllogism "Whiskey and water cause drunkenness; beer and water cause drunkenness; wine and water cause drunkenness; hence water causes drunkenness"; and even "cause" itself cannot be discerned beyond mere statistical correlations. So to assert as Mr Kristol does that tv violence "causes" socially pathological behavior in certain segments of the population is at best fatuous, and is a weak reed indeed to support the manufacture of Constitutional confetti. As a so-called conservative, surely Mr Kristol should be the last to wish to dispense with a legal tradition of more than two centuries' duration, but then perhaps the color of Mr Kristol's conservatism is the same as that of the livery in which the Establishment dresses its most effulgent toadies.
Mr Kristol sings us a siren song -- both a siren of alarm over violence, and a song of temptation that we might accept the deadly embrace of the harpies of censorship. His mellifluous penis flytrap croons sweetly of "modest limits" on expression, but once the monstrous mechanism of censorship is in place, there is no such thing as "modest limits"; for free speech is offensive speech, and once the thin edge of the wedge of censorship has excused its way into the crevice between men and ideas on the basis of offensiveness, there is little left to prevent the malleus maleficarum from pounding it all the way to the bone.
But not only does Mr Kristol not hesitate to sacrifice the wisdom of the Founders to the greater glory of the holy prostitutes of the Temple of Statistics, but he embraces the Grand Vision which tells him that not only will censorship significantly reduce teen violence, but also sexual promiscuity, teen illegitimacy, and teen rapes. For Kristol, the desideratum is "lowering the temperature of the sexual climate"; and if his idea doesn't work, perhaps he will be back in time with another editorial advocating the addition of hormone-lowering drugs in the water supply -- in "modest quantities", of course. Kristol may be right in his assertion that censorship is not "immoral", since the morality a person subscribes to may or may not include a censorship clause. But immoral or not, there is one thing I am certain of: If the government is giving out condoms in the schools, there is no way that giving the government the power to determine the content of the media -- as Mr Kristol explicitly advocates -- is going to change things one iota -- except to give the big-government Kristol- heads more power.
But even beyond dispensing with a tried-and-true tradition, Kristol is making a fundamental mistake; for he views law not as prohibiting certain forms of intolerable behavior, but rather -- after the fashion of his supposed political enemies the liberals -- as a device for social engineering. It is this conceit, this hubris, this chutzpah if you will, which makes both liberals and the neolithic neos like Mr Kristol so dangerous, for it is they who are rushing toward us, all aglowing, ready to do us a good turn. Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn; Heaven hath no worry like a liberal born.
Now I am not going to be so foolish as to say that censorship does not work -- after all, it worked for Stalin, Hitler, and several other very nice fellows. But there are some very good reasons to avoid censorship, not the least of which is that the regimes of Stalin, Hitler and the others who turned it into an art form are no longer around. In fact there are good scientific arguments for avoiding censorship, which Mr Kristol may read in some of my books, particularly Systems Theory and Scientific Philosophy. But since Mr Kristol is so busy telling everyone else what to think, it may be difficult for him to find time to examine ideas whose authors have the temerity to disagree with his own.
In understanding the differences between freedom and fascism, what most people do not realize is that freedom is a system, ie, a free system works well when it remains free, but when part of that freedom is restrained, the system takes on the appearance of having "problems" -- problems which cannot be solved by restraining freedom, but only by removing the impediments to freedom. America in the present day is suffering from all kinds of problems, but they are problems not of freedom but of restraint of freedom. Unfortunately, however, such problems often cause the enemies of freedom to say that freedom is the cause of these problems, and that is basically what Mr Kristol is doing in calling for additional restraints on freedom. To be specific, the "teen violence" problem which Mr Kristol wants to solve by censorship is largely a problem of government-mandated welfare: Welfare encourages male (and particularly black male) irresponsibility, and without a male presence in the home, young "testosterone-poisoned" males run wild (Statistics have shown that most criminals come from mother-headed households). The problem is also exacerbated by government-forced race-mixing, since it has been government laws and government subsidies which have allowed and encouraged the spread of black crime into white areas (Blacks commit nine times the crimes that whites do per capita.) Thus it is government which is the cause of "teen violence", and for this reason I do not look with equanimity on Mr Kristol's suggestion that yet more government will provide the solution to this problem.
But not only is government the cause of the problem, but so is censorship; because with government-mandated race-mixing and all the anti- discrimination/anti-white baggage that has come along with it, the major media have usually avoided any mention of the nasty facts about blacks, and as a result the official reason for black failure and black crime is "white racism" rather than blacks themselves. Gradually, of course, the message is getting out, but it has cost us precious time which has almost destroyed our society. So if Mr Kristol is so in love with censorship, then let him take a good long look at its effects.
In conclusion I would like to say that if Mr Kristol wants to take away my freedom of expression, then I would just like to say one thing to him before he does: Kiss my ass.
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