Friday, February 27, 2009

One of these things is not like the other

It's always interesting to see what fashion makes of public (or, in this case, public-ish) figures after they're dead. What facet of their God given character is singled out for praise or condemnation depending on which way the gusts of popular opinion are blowing; almost invariably in stark contrast to all those other facets--collectively forming what is called the whole, or context--of that same person.

While not entirely devoid of a sense of the apparent tension and complexity of the man's life, author Scott Symons, who died last Monday at the age of 75, has been eulogized almost exclusively along the lines of his being a "controversial" and "groundbreaking" "gay writer" who was "openly gay at a time when coming out was still so fraught it could be the death knell for a career." Emphasis is given to his "acid scorn for what he saw as an oppressively staid Anglo-Canadian society."

Now, as I say, there are hints--in the Canadian Press obit, anyway--that Mr. Symons wasn't just any old gay activist. That, indeed, he might've been one of those complicated and terribly flawed things known as (I believe this is the term) a human being:
"[Symons'] works of the '60s and '70s will stand as a kind of an accomplishment of an odd intersection of the Canadian Tory spirit with the hippie era and the sexual revolution."
Alas, that's about as far as we get.

Enter David Warren:
Symons hated Trudeau, with a real volcanic passion. He hated him for legalizing homosexuality, among other things. He hated "gays," and vehemently denied being one himself. He was unquestionably homosexual -- though I'm not sure women were safe from him, either.

He was, in his political outlook, fairly consistently a "violent Tory of the old school" (Ruskin's beautiful phrase), and incidentally a war monger of the first water, who, back in 2002, was telephoning me several times a day to ask, "When the hell is Bush going to invade Iraq? What is he waiting for?"

In later life, he retroactively explained that his sexual preferences were a red herring, he had actually wished to launch a "male revolution" in retaliation for the "epistemological enormities" of second-wave feminism. His claim to an unambiguous masculinity was iterated in many colourful expressions, unquotable in a family newspaper.

Was he then a misogynist? "Of course! But not as much as the average woman."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Hock Doctrine

The rise of disaster socialism (w/apologies to Naomi Klein):

(I couldn't get the CNN embed of Obama's State-of-the-Union-Addressette to work so you'll have to go to the site yourself. The clip entitled 'Health care reform cannot wait'.)

Aside: How many coronaries do you think Nancy Pelosi's multiple impromptu aerobics routines will cause?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ian Hunter on moral surplus

Will it be a disaster if Canadian courts legalize polygamy? Time will tell. Within minutes of any such court decision the airwaves will be crowded with voices proclaiming that the sky has not fallen. And they will be right. A society can live for a time on the accumulated moral surplus of prior generations; like financial bankruptcy, moral bankruptcy is a gradual process.

Ian Hunter, The Erosion of Marriage.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Barbara Bear

On the subject of his recent appearance at Queen's Park, Mark Steyn observes:
The default assumption of my all-white liberal-left interrogators was that, if it weren't for Ontario's "human rights" regime, the citizenry would revert to their ugliest knuckledragging inclinations. At one level, this is perplexing. If the natural condition of an Ontarian is to be a racist sexist hatemonger, how have all these nice progressive members of parliament somehow managed to rise above such genetic predispositions? Why are they so uniquely equipped to keep the rest of the citizenry in check?

Well, of course, they're not. But a contempt for the citizenry at large is necessary to justify their and Commissar Hall's sinecures.
Now, I don't doubt that this is basically the case, but I think Steyn is overlooking something of equal importance here. Namely: the inscrutably earnest belief that Barbara Hall et al have, that theirs is a righteous cause. Sorry, that theirs is the righteous cause. No doubt Steyn avoids any lengthy discussion of this precisely because of its inscrutability, but it seems to me that a point of some importance is lost by reducing the matter to mere contempt for the public and bureaucratic self-seeking.

For, while Barbara Hall may be many things--dumb, dumb, and dumb, to name but three--cynical she is not. (Indeed, you get a strong impression that if she were asked what cynicism meant, she'd give the definition for pessimism ... the definition being: Grumpy.) Nor, I am convinced, does she have any ambitions towards some kind of moral dictatorship. Not in her own reckoning, anyway. When Babs says, in effect, that she is serving the cause of free speech by limiting free speech, there isn't a doubt in my mind that she wholeheartedly believes it, and that she believes herself to be humbly providing for the good of her fellow men by so advocating.

Wholeheartedly, note. As distinct from whole-brainedly.

The thing about Barbara Hall is that she's just too much a product of the deadening ideology she so clunkily promotes to be palmed off as some kind of ruthless power seeker. Hell, she's so much a product of it that I don't think she could even qualify as an amateur enthusiast. She's more like a Care Bear. A Care Bear, that is, who forgot the way to Care-A-Lot, decided to make a go of it in Toronto, and, on the advice of a passing U of T Women's Studies student, adjusted the face of her Caring Metre to read "Hate" where it used to have the little rain cloud.

'Skinda cute, you know? ... Weird too, obviously, but the best-of-intentions kind of weird. You know?

My point being that the whole "Commissar Hall" shtick isn't useful to the sort of person who knows that Barbara Hall is really just a Care Bear. She's silly, she's vapid, she's for kids. OK, they say, so she's the Care Bear with the thousand yard Care Bear Stare--what did you expect after they showed her Schindler's List?--but she couldn't possibly do anyone any real harm. She's a fuckin' Care Bear, for Christ's sake! 'Sjust a stupid TV show!

Suggest to this sort of person that Barbara Hall thinks him/her on the brink of reverting to their ugliest knuckledragging inclinations and they'll ask you how you were so easily baited by an idiot. They know just as well as anyone else that well-meaning fools can't be tyrants.

They're a little fuzzier on why it is that fools have the habit of preceding tyrants, of course.

But you take my point.

(Tune in next week for a further discussion of Barbara-Hall-as-symptom-rather-than-cause-of-Canada's-woes, in a piece I shall very cleverly entitle The Rise of the Mittelmensch.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is this a joke?!

Steve Gibson, the medicinal marijuana user who's got the owner of Gator Ted's Tap and Grill stuck between a rock and a hard place (i.e. losing his liquor license or being branded a hate criminal by the Ontario Human Rights Commission) is quoted in the Star today as follows (my emphasis):

“People didn’t like the way I smell,” the [medicinal marijuana] smoker, Steve Gibson, acknowledged of one complaint against him from fellow patrons.

“But I don’t like a lot of smells either,” he said. “I can’t bare to stand near some chicks, they’ve got so much perfume on, let alone some ethnics that I don’t like the smell of that much.”

Bravo, Barbara Hall! Nothing tellingly absurd about this. No!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bez Sounds

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Pointless Speech

Well, I've gotta say: these anti-theist ad campaigns have really got me thinking.

You know the thing I'm talking about: began in Britain--on the sides of double-decker buses. The whole "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" business. No less person than Richard "Fossil" Dawkins provided the nihil obstat, declaring "This campaign ... will make people think--and thinking is anathema to religion." (Yeee-ouch!)

And now the campaign's made its way over here, thank Ford!

Because of the efforts of the Freethought Association of Canada, the Humanist Association of Canada, and a chink in Canada's theocratic armour has finally been found: God probably doesn't exist!

I don't know about you, by my mind has officially been blown.

I mean, it's so ingenious and yet so simple! Probably!

How is it that nobody has ever thought of this before? How is it that not a single person down the ages has dared to question the existence of God? How is it that, since time immemorial, there haven't been some men who believed and some who didn't? How is it, furthermore, that for those who weren't quite willing to commit either way, there wasn't something like a "wager" that people made; a "wager" that some non-existent historical personage devised--let's call him Pascal shall we, just for the sake of argument--that might explain their continuing belief in the face of so decisive a doubt: probably?

How is it that this debate isn't already very old, very tired, and very clichéd?

It's crazy, man!

But, alas!, for this completely original, emancipating and bewheeled message, the tight corner of ignorance is proving difficult to round: the zealots at Halifax's Metro Transit have refused permission to put the signs on the sides of their buses. This because, "if anytime we feel there's a message that could be controversial and upsetting to people, we don't necessarily sell the ads." Rendering the matter, needless to say, a freedom of speech issue:

That decision is upsetting to Pat O'Brien, president of the non-profit group [Humanist Canada] dedicated to the separation of church and state.

"It would be interesting to see what vegans think about the KFC ads. I mean, at what point do you stop offending people?" he said.

Hear, hear! (And don't doubt Humanist Canada's commitment to the cause of free speech.)

That the Humanist Association etc aren't actually being persecuted for their disbelief is beside the point; that theirs is, transparently, a boutique enthusiasm, as evinced by the painfully trite (and fallacious) terms of their slogan, is also beside the point. They are trying to start a debate, people! (or, as one member of delightfully puts it, they are trying to "spring up discussion in the public"), and no amount of actual debate--present or past--is going to stop them from repeating this line over and over and over again as though the question of debate was itself somehow the debate.

Inspiring stuff.

Worry is slated to be a distant memory in all major Canadian cities no later than mid-2009.

... And rumour has it that--in the name of disinterested public inquiry--the next mass transit ad campaign will deal with James Watson's (of DNA fame) conjecture that certain human being are inferior to others. The slogan, one assumes, will be something along the lines of "There's probably no racial equality. Now stop/start worrying and enjoy/fear for your life."

ADDENDUM: The United Church of Canada has proven me wrong! Ecce Disputatio! They have responded with an ad campaign of their own: "There's probably a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

I don't know about you, but I'll be spending some considerable time over the course of the next couple of days weighing the respective merits of this expansive and profound exchange.