Have you ever noticed how, in recent years, enjoying the work of someone known or accused of being a criminal has become synonymous with endorsing what the criminal was accused/convicted of? People going on long social media diatribes about how they don’t listen to Louis CK or Kevin Spacey or, most recently, Michael Jackson since yet another documentary came out saying he was a child molester. In a twist that could only happen since the tide is coming in on the MeToo movement, the documentary itself has garnered some controversy as many have felt compelled to question those making oddly-timed, unproveable, and/or poorly evidenced claims of sexual assault. Is this good? Perhaps not in the long run, as American culture tends to either overdo everything or not do anything at all, and it will soon be impossible to prosecute hate crimes and sexual assault because of the sheer number of high-profile cases that are proven false or disappear after the desired result has been achieved. For now, let us enjoy a bit of balance with the questioning of the claims made in Leaving Neverland and the claims themselves.
Back on topic, the recent trend of taking the person’s flaws over their work or ideals has become the default stance of the critic. We’ll start from the entertainment world and work our way into the political one. It seems that anyone accused or convicted of a heinous crime becomes persona non grata to the point that its unacceptable to listen to or watch anything that they are part of, quality notwithstanding. In light of this recent Jackson story, we can’t enjoy “Human Nature” or “Black or White”, because of the Joe Paterno story, you can’t be a Penn State fan without having to answer for what he did (when there are already a few good reasons not to be a Penn State fan, said the assimilated Buckeye), and onto Cosby, Louis C.K. and so forth. This extends even to shows, with some millennial wringing their hands over Seinfeld and Friends. We can only hope they haven’t yet discovered Airplane!, Blazing Saddles and Looney Tunes.
This is the generation raised on Family Guy, South Park and George Carlin, by the way. Catholic guilt has nothing on the millennial.
And in the political realm it’s only slightly different, with a more insidious tone when one begins to observe it, after which a humorous tone takes its place. It is a common argument for those on the Left that the Founders were slave owners and that fact negates the validity of their philosophy and the products thereof. Firstly, the Founders were heavily influenced by John Locke; It was his idea, for example, that man was born with inalienable rights. Secondly, from this position, the socialist needs to accept that the founder of Marxism advocated violence against whoever stood in the way of the revolution. Slavery was abbhorent and yet we still must ask at what Marx advocated could be charitably described as political violence, and less charitably described as terrorism.
Does this mean a Marxist or socialist appreciates or accepts the millions of deaths caused in pursuit of his ideals, or that one who believes in democracy supports slavery? I imagine not. However, where the ideas of the founders have led to immense flourishing, a standard of life once thought unimaginable and at one point, a rich and healthy focus on reason, truth and the marketplace of ideas, socialism continues to enslave and impoverish those it does not kill. While I do not believe the socialist has a better leg to stand on, considering the philosophy is based entirely on the death of the indivudal spirit and the use of force by the State, it is a more tenable hill to defend than “well, your guys were bad people too”.
Thoughts, Prayers and Condemnations
I’ve always found the millennial activist declaration of the gun control movement that “Thoughts and prayers aren’t doing anything, we need action and by God we need it now”. Firstly, the gun control movement has already decided on what that action is and, even though the inciting incident took place in a gun free zone or city or state, which it often does, they are not dissuaded in their pursuit of those very same laws and more laws like it. Second, while mocking the platitude of thoughts and prayers, they demand condemnations. Condemnations, for those having trouble keeping up, are thoughts. They are words denoting actions. This happens with every incident that can be taken advantage of politically with the false demand. Some senator or full-of-themselves Facebookland denizen will begin “I./We (the people) demand that Trump/Republicans/Democrats/White people/Black people/Christians/Muslims/ strongly condemn this senseless act of violence”. It’s a bit of a gaslighting stunt. It starts from the assumption that the person you are yelling at to condemn the act tacitly accepts and condones it. Secondly, even without that cynical, rather underhanded ploy, what good is condemnation? The killer already did killed and he clearly doesn’t feel guilty. Is some random public figure coming out and condemning the attack “in the strongest possible terms” going to make him show up in court the next day going “gee, I really screwed up, I’m sorry. How can I make it up to you”? Obviously not
And yet, this act of condemnation seems so very important as to be worthy of demanding lest the one you are demanding to hear from be seen as supporting violence. But is a condemnation? A condemnation is nothing more than sending your thoughts to the killer. The only difference is, you can’t even pretend your condemnation is having any impact. A prayer is a deeply sacred act of a religious person. God and the prayers of his people do grant comfort to those who are mourning. This is not to say the pain of losing a loved one goes away, however I’d argue it’s deeper and more profound than “I’m sorry for your loss” or some other robotic response. This is not to say Christians don’t contribute anything to graveside platitudes, but fervent prayer is not in the same category.