Tuesday, November 15

It's The Canadian Border We Should Be Worried About

David Brooks, "Let's All Feel Superior". November 14


An adult male who has sex with young boys is called a pederast. The word--wait for it!--comes to us from the Greek, via Latin, and entered the English language in the early modern period, around the middle of the 17th century, following pederasty, which entered in the early 17th.

A young boy used for sexual services is known as a catamite. Again, from the Greek, via Latin, which got it from Etruscan, it dates to the late 16th century.

A corporation which is treated as a person de jure has no English term, perhaps because the Greeks and Romans would have laughed themselves into societal collapse at the notion. We can trace the idea to a scribbled note in the margin of some 14th Amendment decision, the scribbler in question being, not a Justice, nor a clerk, but, evidently, a stationery salesman trying to get a sample pen to work, and we can trace the idea that such an idea would be taken literally, and not as an inside joke, to the confirmation of Antonin "Fat Tony" Scalia. The concomitant idea, that your good friend Mr. Corporation deserves your silence the same way Aunt Martha did because her bathroom linen was furnished by the Holiday Inn Corporation, is of similar vintage, though no historian of religion need be reminded that the Toad is not merely an amphibian.

So of course in Brooks World the polluted debauchery of a young boy's--a motherfucking ward, fer chrissakes--sphincter would never have taken place without, y'know, Hugh Hefner:
In centuries past, people built moral systems that acknowledged this weakness. These systems emphasized our sinfulness. They reminded people of the evil within themselves. Life was seen as an inner struggle against the selfish forces inside. These vocabularies made people aware of how their weaknesses manifested themselves and how to exercise discipline over them. These systems gave people categories with which to process savagery and scripts to follow when they confronted it. They helped people make moral judgments and hold people responsible amidst our frailties.

But we’re not Puritans anymore. We live in a society oriented around our inner wonderfulness. So when something atrocious happens, people look for some artificial, outside force that must have caused it — like the culture of college football, or some other favorite bogey. People look for laws that can be changed so it never happens again.

First, let me belatedly mention that ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© told us yesterday that Brooks was working this angle on the Sundays, and that, as he mentioned, driftglass has it handled.

And, second, let me say, yet again, that if David Motherfucking Simperer Brooks wants to come right out and say this shit, instead of dancing around it for fear someone will stuff him in his locker again, I'll reimburse his lunch money. (Apparently he felt a little more comfortable around fellow stuffees E.J. Dionne and David Gregory than the readership of the Times, since there he explicitly made it "30 or 40 years muddying the moral waters ".) Here, we're just not Puritans anymore, as though modern life lost the sheet music, or got drummed out for smoking. So evidently nothing like the Penn State Shower Stall Scene could have happened before 1970, because the Hayes Office wouldn't have allowed it. Just like, of course, it could never happen in an institution devoted to Christian morality.

Do we need a return to Puritanism (Brooks really means Victorianism, I suppose, but we'll play along) ? Then fucking say so. 'Cause else, we do not really need to be reminded that we are no longer 16th century English Protestants, though some of us could use a refresher course as to why this is. Victorian morality is laughable today; chalk that up to the developments in that human psychology Brooks imagines himself an amateur master of. The social enforcement of moral concepts, for which "Puritanism" is a poor metonym, would wipe out how many current Republican Presidential contenders in a wink? (And don't look at what's left.) What corporate persons would still be standing if 16th century morality had the force of law, or even the force of magically preventing all transgressions like it did in the old days?

Spit it out. Stop saying, "well, if my preferred historical dream world existed this would never happen, therefore no one should demand the law solve problems". The law does solve problems. This one. Unquestionably there is less child sexual exploitation today than there was in the good old moral days.

How long has this construction been growing mold? Something bad + some vague connection with sex = Dirty Hippies (let's hear David Brooks say this about AIDS). Jerry Sandusky (b. 1944) played football at Penn State in the early 1960s, then went into coaching. This is not Mr. Brooks era, nor--just guessing--was American football his preferred sport. I played--not particularly expertly--at the junior high and high school level in a mid-sized Midwestern city in the late 60s. And not once did I have a coach tell me that if something felt good I should just give it a shot. I was told a couple times to cut my hair, because I looked like a girl. The full import of that bit of wisdom didn't strike me until later.

What of Mike McQueary? Are we supposed to believe he didn't stop the rape of a 10-year-old because he figured it felt good? That the guy who oversaw the Penn State police department was a libertine, and the AD a voluptuary? No one can be that tone deaf, Mr. Brooks. Except, same as they were, for money, because if Jerry Sandusky was a Dirty Hippie, what's that make the Occupiers, eh?

The murder of Kitty Genovese has nothing whatsoever to do with Penn State. Nor Abu Ghraib, not the Holocaust. Try Enron, Dave. Try Arthur Andersen. Maybe Bernie Madoff's dick did get hard cheating people. The smart money still says it was the Money.


gocart mozart said...

"So when something atrocious happens, people look for some artificial, outside force that must have caused it — like the culture of college football, or some other favorite bogey."

I blame Sam Spade.

gocart mozart said...

"30 or 40 years muddying the moral waters."

By my calculations, this ties the source of all moral decline to Watergate and the election of Ronald Reagan. I find it interesting that Mr Brooks would go there.

Anonymous said...

People look for laws that can be changed so it never happens again.

How stupid of them.

xjmueller said...

It seems that all in this fiasco were acting strictly in their own self-interest. So Brooks should be blaming this on the Objectivists. 50 years of Rand's cockamamie bullshit leads to this type of depravity, obviously. Well, money's involved too, but that fits nicely into the hypothesis.

John of Indiana said...

I think it's a mistake to call sexual repression "Victorian". after all, that's the era in which women used to go to their doctor to get masturbated for treatment of "hysteria". I could imagine somebody being "hysterical" often.

Today, they arrest you for getting a "Happy Ending" whether male or female...