Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just Enough Of Me, Way Too Much Of You

Today is Earth Day, which according to Earth Day enthusiasts, is "all about awareness": awareness of the need to be "eco-friendly" and awareness of the need to "save the planet".  Mostly, though, I am aware that if one more person tells me I need to "go green", I'm going to start burning truck tires in my back yard.

What is most unsettling about the current wave of "eco-friendly" enthusiasts is the resurrecting of the late '60's - early '70's phenomena of claims for the need for "population control".  Back then, the idea was that the world's population would soon outgrow the world's resources, resulting in mass starvation and disease.  From 1968 to 1990, the world's population did grow; in fact, it more than doubled, from about 2.8 billion people to about 6.4 billion people.  However, deaths from famine and disease decreased worldwide by 16%.  Furthermore, there has never been a famine in a country with a free press.  This fact left even the most ardent population control advocates with the realization that humanity was more than capable of producing enough food and services to sustain itself, if only allowed the freedom to do so.

However, falsehoods never really die, they just go in search of different justification.  In this case, the impetus behind calls for population control is not "we won't have enough to go around", but "we're killing the planet."  Nice.  Too many people was to have us all starving, which is bad.  We found ways to produce enough to keep us alive...and that is bad, because it hurts the earth.  So instead of "population control" because of the earth not having enough resources, we are called to "population control" because humans are able to extract the resources that we were told we didn't have.

There is quite a bit that disturbs me about this line of thinking.  First of all, I am quite suspicious of folks who employ shifting justifications in the advocation of a plan of action: these are folks with a solution in search of a problem.  In this case, it is folks who desire a radical reduction in population through widespread birth control, abortion, and euthanasia.  They claim it should be "voluntary", but such a claim does not match their rhetoric: the "direness" of the situation as they tout it would quickly and logically lead to enforced birth control, abortion, euthanasia, and in the end, genocide.  A better example of what the late Richard Neuhaus' meant when he coined the phrase "Where orthodoxy is optional, it is sooner or later proscribed" would be difficult to imagine.

Where does such a mindset come from?  As noted by the National Review's Wesley Smith:

...environmentalism itself seems to be evolving from a movement dedicated to conserving resources, preserving pristine areas, and protecting endangered species into an anti-humanistic ideology that increasingly disdains humankind as a scourge that literally threatens the existence of "the planet."

As Smith notes, as this evolution has progressed, this mindset has crept into entertainment.  In the last year, two major films were released touting the "mankind as a virus to be exterminated" message: M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening featured the planet's plants rebelling against their human overlords by releasing pheromones that caused humans to commit mass suicide.  The story for The Day The Earth Stood Still, a remake of a 1951 film of the same name, was reworked from the original's "alien on goodwill mission to earth to help humanity save itself" to last December's "alien on mission to destroy humanity to save the earth".  Gee, great Christmas movie, huh?  "Joy to the world! Now die."  In both films, the clear intent of the filmmakers was for audiences to sympathize with those seeking to wipe out humanity, and though humanity gained a reprieve in both films, it came with the threat that we'd better "go green" or else.

On the small screen, the Discovery, National Geographic, and History channels have all run documentary series detailing various hypotheses about what would happen to the earth if all humanity were to suddenly vanish.  What struck me while watching the History channel's production this week was the note of hopefulness and hint of joy expressed by the narrator and those interviewed, and the idyllic state they imagined for the world if only humanity would disappear: apparently, nothing harmful ever happened to any creature before humans appeared, and all such occurrences would cease once humanity left.  The impression that lingered with me after I had changed the channel was that none of these people seemed to grasp the amount of human suffering that would be required for the earth to return to this (supposedly) idyllic state.  Furthermore, none of these people seemed to grasp that if all this came to pass, it would require their death in particular.

This is a common and, in my view, rather despicable trait amongst population control advocates: when they talk about reducing the number of humans, they are never talking about themselves.  Go up to any activist calling for a reduction in human population, hand them a cyanide capsule, and say "Sounds great.  You go first."  You will likely find no takers.  However, for quite a few of them, such a challenge would not seriously deter their advocacy of the removal of other humans from the planet.  See, they themselves can't be the ones to go, because they are needed to guide and "educate" humanity in its need to restrict its numbers.  And if all, or most, of humanity were to accept these views, wouldn't that then remove the justification for their exclusion from the huge death lottery to follow?  Why no, since it was they who were the ones who spread the gospel of population reduction and saved the earth, they would be entitled to enjoy the (supposed) fruits of a radically depopulated world.  You will never hear an advocate of population reduction champion any course of action that does not contain a provision for their personal survival and autonomy.  Whatever dire situation they cite as justification for the demise of millions, the situation is never so dire that it requires their own demise.

The bottom line is this: the population control crowd's view has shifted from
For the good of humanity, a good portion of you need to cease to exist.  I shall supervise the process.

For the good of the Earth, a good portion of you need to cease to exist.  I shall supervise the process.

Whatever the justification, I find their views monstrous, and their intent for personal avoidance in sharing the consequences of their views to be despicable.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Luddite Manifesto

I do not 'Twitter'.

The very name itself sounds like a synonym for "incessant, meaningless babble".  I cannot imagine anyone, except perhaps my dog, who would find a constant play-by-play of my life, in 140-characters-or-less messages at a time, the least bit compelling.  I have yet to find myself in a situation where I absolutely need to communicate a 140-characters-or-less message to anyone, unless that person was in the room with me, i.e. "My clothes are on fire.  Please put them out."

I do not 'Facebook'.

I am immediately wary of any noun that suddenly attains verb status.  Any one growing up in the ‘70’s remembers this happening with "dialogue", which morphed from a sophisticated way of saying "a conversation" into "using vague terms to dance around important issues, in order to accomplish or decide on absolutely nothing".  Now everyone is "Facebooking", spending hours on their personal Facebook page, much the same as folks used to do on their "personal home page", and it’s not the slightest bit more interesting.  Since I already keep in touch with everyone I care about, I am not in the least interested in maintaining a Facebook page or becoming the "friend" of people I don’t know or haven’t heard from in years, and I certainly have no desire to keep myself informed on the minutia of the daily lives of such "friends".  I received an email through the site about a month ago from "Steve".  We were basketball teammates in high school, and though we barely knew each other, he wrote to urge me to "get on Facebook, man!!"  Yeah, I’ll be sure to sign right up.  I have neither heard from nor thought about you in 25 years, but I sure am interested in keeping up with what your favorite breakfast cereal is.

I do not 'Instant Message'.

Want to have a real-time back-and-forth correspondence with me?  Great.  Pick up the damn phone.

I do not 'Text'.

This is largely for the same reasons as my avoidance of Twitter and IM, with the added rationale being that I didn’t pay for texting on my cell phone plan, and every text I receive costs me money.  Also, the texting and IM craze is turning America into a nation of grammatical morons.  Every once in a while, someone tells me, "Jerry, you are such a good writer."  I used to think that this meant "Jerry, you write interesting things in a thoughtful, compelling manner."  Now, I take it to mean "Jerry, in your writing you use elements I rarely see anymore, like words and punctuation."  Yes, it’s true: I prefer my written communication to be in complete thoughts, using actual words.  I don’t want to know WUD, if MWBRL, if you’re CRBT, or DOS.  I have no desire to be LOL, or LMAO.  I think the whole IM, Twitter, and text message thing is a CWOT, and IHBTTDOTTJAFDOSAATUTMAWA**.

[**- I Have Better Things To Do Than To Jabber All Freaking Day One Sentence At A Time Using The Most Asinine Method Available.]

I do not own a Blackberry or iPhone.

My cell phone cannot not play movies, surf the web, or play music.  At home, I have a TV for watching movies, a computer to surf the web, and a stereo for playing music.  If I leave home, it is because I want to do something other than watch a movie, surf the web, or play music.  "OK," you would say, "but what if you have to wait in line or in a waiting area...then what?"  Oh, heavens!  God forbid that I’m not able to watch Braveheart for the 43rd time or retreat into my little world of my music.  I might actually have to talk to someone or read a magazine not tailored to my interests that I otherwise wouldn’t read.  The horror.  If I absolutely must, my cell phone will allow me to access sports scores and movie times, and if I need to go to the bathroom while out shopping, I can play Tetris while sitting on the john.  That’s all a man really needs.

I do not own a Playstation 3, Xbox 360, or a Wii.

Once I got married, and was now living with an adult who spends her time at home either a) doing productive things, or b) watching reasonably intelligent TV programs, I felt like an idiot playing video games in my living room.  I do, however, own a few other "home entertainment systems":  they’re called "books".

I have never played Guitar Hero.

Here’s an idea for all the Guitar Hero aficionados out there:  what if, instead of spending hours mastering the video game, you spent those same hours, you know, learning how to play an actual guitar?  Might be a bit more fulfilling, no?

Hell, for 4 years, I didn’t even have a radio in my car.

It is possible, and even preferable, for me to drive my automobile, alone with my thoughts, and just enjoy letting my mind wander.  I do not recommend this for people under 25 and/or Obama supporters, as their minds are too small to be out wandering alone.

If someone needs to reach me, I have a simple cell phone, an e-mail address, this blog, and a mailbox.  That’s all.  That’s enough.  If something important happens, I know how to get in touch with the people who may care.

Other than my wife, none of these people live close enough to me to do anything other than pray, though in case of my death they may want to know as soon as possible so that they can get a head start on coming up with excuses to skip the funeral.

I eagerly await the development of new technologies, so that I may ignore them too.

So there.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Thank you Irish Rover

In my letter to Father Jenkins criticizing his decision to bestow upon President Obama an honorary degree, I made this assertion:

The most prominent Catholic university in America honoring the most pro-choice President in history will serve to legitimize pro-choice policies in the eyes of the Catholic faithful. No nuanced explanation about honoring the President for his other accomplishments will mitigate the scandal.

Greer Hannan's article in the Irish Rover explains why that statement is true. (go to page 3 of the PDF)  Here is the crux of her argument:
The sophists have hijacked our political culture, so that politicians’ rhetoric has overcome dialogue, and the projection of images has overcome complexity. Honoring Obama at Notre Dame provides an opportunity for the President to make the visual statement that his political life is laudable to the Catholic Church. Such an honor is particularly pernicious because Obama’s rhetoric of hope and change was based on his emphasis on social justice, but he takes an approach the Catholic Church cannot endorse. In a society where the projection of image through modern technology threatens to obliterate the search for truth, Catholics sometimes must call ‘Bullshit’ to particular ideologies in witnessing to the truth.
How can Obama claim to support social justice when he seeks to deny basic human rights to an entire class of human beings simply because they are not wanted?

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A ten minute lesson on government

This is worth the ten minutes it takes to watch.

Vagina Monologues Canceled at Notre Dame

First the Queer Film Festival was cancelled, and now the Vagina Monologues.

For the first time in eight years, Notre Dame students will not perform The Vagina Monologues at an on- or off-campus location.

Junior Miriam Olsen, a producer of last year's show, said the group of students in charge of organizing the production of "The Vagina Monologues" this year decided not to continue the show.

Instead, Olsen said she, along with several other students, declined to produce the show because they believed the controversy on campus that follows the show is ultimately counterproductive to the show's purpose.

The "show's purpose", as stated by VM creator Eve Ensler and those who champion the production, is (ostensibly) to raise awareness about violence against women. How on earth the contents of the Vagina Monologues serve to "raise awareness about violence against women" is question that I have yet to encounter a coherent answer to.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

More News from Notre Dame

Reported by the American Papist.

Let me make one thing clear.  The fact that new Dean of the ND Law school supports Democrats does not bother me one bit.   The fact that she supports pro-abortion Catholic politicians really does.  I would be just as concerned if she supported Rudy Guiliani or Governor Arnold.

I am not going to jump to conclusions about her views on Catholic morals.  I cannot make that determination based on her political contributions.  However, this does raise some red flags.

The Notre Dame Law School has a reputation for Catholic Orthodoxy.  Let us hope it continues under the new leadership.