Are we a generation of wussies? part 2
Eric Hoffer: First Things Last Things, 1967
Eric Hoffer is so admirably succinct that it's hard to paraphrase what he said, it's almost always easier just to quote him.
I've been wondering about this point for a while now. In politics and public life you get insulted, period. If someone thinks your proposals are dumb - they say so. And they should, proposals for government action should always be challenged. Government is just too damn dangerous to be left to run unsupervised.
That is however, a different thing from calling one a liar or advocate of tyranny and mass murder, as in "racist," "Nazi," or "fascist."
I take that particularly ill, when it comes from people who excuse - or actively justify, mass murdering regimes such as Castro's, or belittle the enormities of the Soviet Union as "just Stalin."
We're supposed to be too "civilized" to offer to punch someone in the nose for an insult anymore, much less invite them to the field of honor.
The question I've been raising in recent posts is, have we become too civilized?
"If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, you must be prepared to accept barbarism." - Thomas Sowell
Maintaining civilzation depends on most people accepting lines they will not cross. The vulnerability of civilization is that some people may discover they can get their way by crossing those lines with impunity when people have forgotten how to enforce them.
I think this goes beyond law. A society can survive very high crime rates, and indeed writer Louis Lamour pointed out all dynamic societies have high crime rates.
Defence against criminals is a matter of making it dangerous for them to ply their trade on you. Simple in concept, if not always in execution.
But what happens when criminal conduct becomes normalized in society?
College campuses are full of students today, who probably wouldn't rob you at gunpoint or snatch a lady's purse, but think it justified and worthy to steal a stack of newspapers containing opinions they don't like, or shout down a speaker they disagree with.
What happens? The next stage is they begin to feel that it's a good deed to rough up speakers, to physically humiliate them. To vandalize their property. To make false accusations against them - even in a court of law. To insult them hideously, and wait for the slightest opportunity to misrepresent what they said and prosecute them under "speech codes."
Of course conservatives and libertarians complain about this. To each other, in the pages of editorials read by other conservatives and libertarians.
We've seen this growing over the past few decades. Now it's getting worrisome, to the point many fear the left will soon attempt to shut down right-wing talk radio by bringing back the mis-called "fairness doctrine." The ultimate hecklers' veto!
And I wonder, would these punks be so bold if someone had asked them if they wanted to step outside when they first crossed that line?
Some years back, I was in Bulgaria during the last days of the communist-dominated coalition government, having lunch with the intelligence officer of the U.S. Embassy.
We were talking about the massive corruption, massive inflation, and general thuggish incompetence of the government, and how the people just seemed to take it. (Eventually they did throw the bastards out.)
We fell silent for a moment. Then he blurted out, "These people are sheep! When are they going to get angry?"
"Fuck democracy! Our power is in the streets!" Graffitti seen on a wall at an "anti-globalization" riot in Vancouver.