Good Guy Hunting: In Defense of Matt Damon

Each side of Matt Damon’s face mirrored. A little experiment I did in Photoshop.

Matt Damon suggested that the punishment should fit the crime, and for this thought-crime the public deemed the fitting punishment to be the end of his career.

This is the sad story in which an actor is forced to apologize for reminding us that we shouldn’t exact extreme punishment for minor transgressions. The irony being that he was punished extremely just for saying so, and then forced to recant. Moral of the story: the more extreme the punishment the more effective it is in stamping out … .. .. .. … any opposition, contrary notion, or politely expressed rational counter-argument.

When people become afraid to say what they believe is true, for fear of excessive persecution — and people ARE afraid to stick their necks out — should we assume the force causing such trepidation is fair, kind, generous, open, rational, and forgiving? Should we assume they welcome criticism and an open dialogue? I think not. Quite the opposite.

The social justice movement is overturning what I was taught were the pillars of justice:

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

You are innocent until proven guilty.

Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.

and

The punishment must fit the crime.

Matt Damon went public with a little corrective to the overzealous faction of the #MeeToo movement. While wholly agreeing that sexual harassment and worse has no place in Hollywood and needs to be confronted at all levels, Matt reasonably argued that we should differentiate between patting a girl on the butt and violent rape.

“You know, there’s a difference between, you now, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? … Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?” ~ Matt Damon.

Probably not the best example, since he could have just gone with touching someone on the upper back, which was the accusation that ended Garrison Keillor’s career. True, there were further allegations, such as that he fired a female employee in order to hire a younger and more attractive one, though just because someone is younger and more attractive doesn’t mean they are less qualified or that they are being hired for their appearance rather than their skills.

Yes, I understand that many women have had to put up with decades of sexual harassment, and patting a girl or woman on the butt at work is a sexual power move and absolutely unacceptable (unless, y’know, she’s your finance and she just smacked you on the ass. Love happens.). My sympathies in such cases are with the women and girls, and have been so for decades.

I was ejected from a teaching job in China for calling out a couple male teachers for sexually harassing the Chinese female teachers and staff on a routine basis. My female Chinese friends told me the men were repeatedly asking them for dates after they’d refused, and teaching them words like “jizz”. I suggested the manager explain the Code of Conduct as part of a meeting, without naming names or making accusations. For this I was called a prude and threatened with being fired, at which point I quit. Now I find myself having to defend a dude against overarching accusations and punishments delivered by women. I’m Just trying to remain reasonable and grounded, folks, no matter which side is going overboard. [See the addendum on the bottom of this article for a recent example of me arguing against a conservative defending sexism.]

Over 20,000 people signed a petition to SHUT DOWN Matt Damon for suggesting that a pat on the bottom isn’t tantamount to murder. And SHUT DOWN is the proper phrase here. There was the infamous SHUTTING DOWN of a Bernie Sander’s rally because … white supremacy. There was the attempt to SHUT DOWN a Dana Schutz’ show of paintings because she had a painting in another show in which she tried to empathize with Emmett Till, and that’s impossible because, as a writer for Hyperallergic argued, “Dana Schutz doesn’t know what it means to be Black in America. She doesn’t even know what it means to be white in America”. The petitioners didn’t want any part of Matt, his image or voice, in any new movies because of the heinous thought crime he expressed.

People will resent the reference to Orwell’s 1984 where a thought could be a crime, because, well, it’s authoritarians who designate thoughts as crimes, and the radical left are revolutionary, fighters for justice. How can they be authoritarian? How can freedom fighters be aligned with abuse of power? They will say that when they insist that a painting be burned or that a painting be taken down it is NOT CENSORSHIP!! It’s not censorship because it is being done for the cause of the good (as opposed to being done for the cause of someone else’s idea of the good, which is bad). But, no matter how you slice it, if you punish a thought like it’s a crime, than you are indeed someone who believes thoughts can be crimes. You aren’t waiting for someone to actually DO something wrong. Don’t blame me for pointing it out.

What is so vile about saying that there is a continuum of sexual harassment, all of which needs to be confronted, but some acts are much worse than others? Why does that statement trigger people and make them sign petitions demanding the end to someone’s career? It’s because of the notion of a micro-aggression (not to be confused with a micro-penis, and it’s perfectly OK to place life-sized sculptures of Donald Trump with a micro-penis in public). Micro-aggressions are often not even conscious, hence the unconscious micro-aggression, which is necessarily tantamount to violence, and linked with the oppression and genocide of indigenous people [yes, this argument has been made]. The core notion is that an unconscious micro-aggression is equal to violence (and hence deliberate physical violence is justified as a counter-measure).

It’s systemic and institutional, folks. Thus the unconscious micro-aggression is woven with the same fabric as violent sex murder and the gas chambers. It is now possible to be party to violent crime without actually directly harming anyone, without even knowing you did anything at all. We can see this sort of connecting of the dots with Jodie Foster’s claim that all men over 30 are part of the problem:

It’s not just one socioeconomic bracket or one complexion. Pretty much every man over 30 has to really look and start thinking about their part. And I guarantee, lots of it is unconscious. When you’ve been in a privileged position where you haven’t had to look at your part, you didn’t 100 percent understand you were in a bubble. It’s an interesting time for men.”

ALL MEN ARE GUILTY!? And if you are guilty of such terrible deeds, than you should suffer the consequences. Here is the recipe we can use, if we wanted to, to punish people we know are innocent.

I think the actress, who is financially more secure and otherwise more privileged than 99.9% of people who have ever existed (so is Matt) may be the one in a bubble, simply assuming that essentially all men are troglodytes abusing power and privilege. In reality, most men work jobs in which they are subordinate to their bosses, and have to subordinate themselves on a daily basis. To paraphrase Billy Shakespeare, they are more subordinated than subordinating.

Let’s pause here and pan back to see the underlying concept bolstering Foster’s argument. It is a brand of biological determinism coupled with behaviorism, two outmoded views of people from the last century. She asserted that because of biology at birth a group of people necessarily harbors deleterious thoughts and beliefs which manifest in actions. That is biological determinism. The watered down but no less lethal version, because the conclusion is the same, is that you are necessarily conditioned in a certain way because of your biology at birth (a.k.a. Behaviorism). This is precisely the underpinning of stereotyping, discrimination, and racial profiling – All people who belong to a certain group are tarnished as necessarily deficient in some way.

Can we use a proven fallacious and destructive argument for the cause of the good? Or should it be a red flag?

I think Foster overstated her case. I’m over 30 and so she directly accused me of being guilty of tacitly supporting the oppression of women and taking advantage of them sexually. I am guilty of Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulting Hollywood actresses? The accusatory finger is pointing at me and demanding that I pay the price. And I am pointing a different finger back, one digit away. I don’t believe people are guilty at birth or that they should be punished for someone else’s crime. If someone wants to punish someone for something they didn’t do, it’s going to be a tough sell to persuade me they do so in the name of the just, or the good. Much, much more likely, it’s scapegoating. 

There’s a problem when we say that something is something else, that a faux-pas is indistinguishable from the worst crime, especially when our reaction is to seek fully conscious dire retribution. Does any of this sound familiar? When we insist that people are guilty by association, and we try to destroy their lives for saying something that merely counters our cherished beliefs, I think there are historical precedents for that which I don’t need to belabor you with.

If Matt Damon should be banned from acting for his statement, than we must assume he was wrong. In that case, the opposite must be true: we should make no distinction between inappropriate flirting, child molestation, and rape — because once you cross the line than you have committed a type of heinous crime and are punishable to the full extent of the law, or whatever the public is capable of dishing out without going through the law.

Alyssa Milano makes this sort of peculiar argument:

There are different stages of cancer. Some more treatable than others. But it’s still cancer. Sexual harassment, misconduct, assault and violence is a systemic disease. The tumor is being cut out right now with no anesthesia.

Because all inappropriate sexual conduct is a cancer, she argues, it should all be treated with the same painful antidote, regardless of degree. Whatever the infection, it’s an infection, so amputate the leg! But is someone who makes a tasteless joke, or mistakenly thinks it’s time to try making the first move, the same as someone who lurks in a car park waiting to assault and rape someone?

Minnie Driver makes a similarly odd argument:

“You don’t get to tell women that because some guy only showed them their penis their pain isn’t as great as a woman who was raped.”

Did she never learn to reverse an argument to test if it sounds preposterous? Does she get to tell a woman who was raped that it’s no worse than some guy showing her his penis? It seems Milano and Driver are doing bizarre rhetorical back-flips to make any and all sexual misconduct equal in offense and deserving equal punishment. Their response to Damon’s statement proves that he was addressing a real phenomenon, as in there truly are women insisting a pat on the butt is as bad as violent rape [remember, he carefully and explicitly said both needed to be eradicated, without question].

And, no, by the way, I’ve never patted a girl on the butt at work, nor so much as touched her upper back, unless we were already in a relationship, and I can’t remember doing that. You don’t have to be guilty of something to defend people from excessive punishment. My concern is that even innocent men, such as Damon, are also subject to the treatment, if they are over 30, or don’t agree with the most overarching claims. I am guilty of THAT.

When faced with such standards, a reasonable person would test if the precedent works in other situations. Should someone who steals a bottle of milk because he’s hungry be considered a criminal on par with an armed bank robber? Should the police, when using force, distinguish between someone who is armed or unarmed? Should the government consider peaceful protest on par with domestic terrorism?

The same people who are outraged that black men are holed up in prison for merely possessing a small amount of marijuana – because it does not necessarily mean they are selling it, or taking or selling harder drugs, or involved in any serious crime – nevertheless insist on connecting dots themselves to condemn men of the most outrageous crimes for making an unwitting gesture. We must ruin an actor’s career for arguing that some things are worse than others. And we can congratulate ourselves for our thwarting the evil oppressor.

And if another actor were to plead that the police should treat unarmed suspects differently than armed ones, should tens of thousands of people demand that he not be allowed to act anymore? Oh, wait, uh, hmmmm.

Now we should take into consideration all the circumstances, the degree of the offense, listen to the story of the accused, have a trial by jury, and so on. Why do we throw out those protective measures when the suspect is Matt Damon? I’ll let you answer that for yourself. Some things are so obvious it’s cringe-worthy just to articulate them (thinks about deleting this entire post for that reason, except that people actually don’t see what I think is blindingly apparent).

And there’s something else strange in all of this, which is a contest of realities. Alyssa Milano made a bold statement about the fabric of American, or Western society that should raise a few eyebrows:

“… they are all connected to a patriarchy intertwined with normalized, accepted–even welcomed– misogyny.”

Apparently, she believes that we live in a patriarchal society in which dislike and contempt for women is normal and welcome! Le’ts pause and think what this should look then look like. Misogyny, like systemic, isn’t just a buzzword, it has a definition, and it is the dislike, hatred, or contempt of women. According to Milano, the majority of men actively dislike and don’t respect their mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends, and female peers because the men have a systemic disease. This is a conclusion that comes out of radical, academic, feminist theory. I learned all about it in grad school in the 90s. It is not a fact born of extensive research and objectively analyzed statistics, but rather a perception which is shared by some women, backed by persuasive arguments and some supportive evidence (kind of like Frued’s Oedipus Complex). It is also dismissed by other feminists and critics. But Milano accepts it as unalloyed reality.

We should clearly understand the difference between a proven reality and a supposition crafted by angry, radical academicians such as Andrea Dworkin (similarly, I wouldn’t take Camille Paglia or Jordan Peterson at face value for their contrary opinions). Milano speaks of her outrage being righteous and seeks to perform metaphoric invasive operations on men without anesthetic while refusing to make a distinction between a minor offense and brutal assault. Perhaps cooler hearts with more objective analysis should be the judges and the jury. Is it possible that Milano’s perspective is distorted by accepting hyperbolic theory as concrete fact?

When confronted with such an overarching and extreme statement about the world we live in, I should be able to look back on my life and see ample evidence that it is true. I don’t. I can’t think of even a handful of people I know personally who are misogynists. I just asked my girlfriend if she thinks we live in a society in which misogyny is normal. No, she doesn’t. She groaned at the idea. If neither of us have experienced this to any significant degree, it’s hard to accept that it is overwhelmingly true.

I’m sure there’s sexism, chauvinism, and some misogyny, but to say that it is the norm is outrageous, as is saying men over 30 are uniformly part of the problem. When you put these things together we have a very negative portrayal of men — all masculinity becomes toxic, and all expressions of male sexuality must be repressed — in which case the argument for endemic misogyny smacks of misandry. And this is the problem Damon was addressing. While we want to support and protect women, eliminate sexual harassment, and obviously anything worse: we don’t want to slip into demonizing or belittling men, nor punishing them for wrongs they didn’t commit. If the goal is fairness and equality of treatment, than what is desirable about turning the tables and disparaging males?

Does Matt’s statement really warrant him being banned from acting? Not in a sane world. Consider that what Jodie Foster said is much more offensive. Is anyone clamoring to SHUT HER DOWN!? Have we devolved into not trying to determine what is right, but instead defer to who is automatically right? Jodie is right because she’s a woman? By the logic of today’s social justice, Jodie Foster’s career should be ended as well, unless double standards and hypocrisy have become systemic and institutionalized. In my world-view, neither committed any crime. They just expressed their opinions on a topic. No big deal here. People are allowed to have opinions in my democracy. It’s not even newsworthy. Not even close.


See my article The Argument for Free Speech & Against Censorship.


In a just society a thought is not punished as a crime. Matt was right, and the people’s reaction proved his point.

In the end he apologized. He said, “But I should get in the back seat and close my mouth for a while”. No, Matt, nobody has to shut up and sit in the back of the bus. Misapplied retributive oppression is still oppression, and of the self-congratulatory variety. Admittedly, I’m really disappointed in him for doing this, in the same way that millions were angry with Bernie Sanders for endorsing Hillary Clinton. Yes folks, I was a passionate Bernie supporter. No, I didn’t vote for Trump. If someone doesn’t agree with your agenda it doesn’t make them a fascist and you don’t get to hit them over the head. Damon and Sanders went against their own principles, and were beaten into submission. But I shouldn’t be upset at them for backing down. Rather, I should steer my ire to those who forced them to put their tails between their legs, because that took a severe dose of oppression. Are we fighting oppression, or are we just shutting down scapegoats?

I believe those truisms which were impressed on me as a child have held up, because I just don’t see anything better. No thank you. I am not going to trade the punishment must fit the crime for those guilty of thought crimes must be made an example of and their lives destroyed.

If you honestly choose the latter, I think you gotta’ go look in the mirror. It’s time for some self-reckoning. And take a look at the date while you are at it. You are 34 years too late*.

*to be a character in 1984, of course.


Addendum:

People assume that if you aren’t on board with their agenda you must be on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, or else just clueless in the milquetoast middle. Uh, no. It could be that you have learned over time to get away from the shallow banks and swim in the deeper current in the middle of the river. The Zen types were right that moderation in all things is a sound general notion.

Here’s a comment I made yesterday on a female singer’s YouTube video — Can Sexism be Justified — in which she argues that it can:

Nah, Doris. It’s not A or B, it’s C. True, there are biological differences between men and women. False, we are dictated by our biology. Sure, there are some things we just can’t change without dramatic effort (ex., women’s muscle mass), but you defined us by our bodies, and if you do some research you will discover some interesting things about our minds.

First off, go back to Descartes and what was the one thing that proved to him that he existed. No, it wasn’t “I have a penis”. It was, “I think, therefore I am”. In other words, he was “conscious”. Many creatures have bodies and gender, including mosquitoes, but they are not conscious, and they certainly don’t have rational, abstract thought, nor the ability to imagine. It’s those things (like your singing) which all take place in consciousness that make us human, much more than our bodies. If you could put your mind in a frog, and a frog’s mind in your body, which creature would you be? Yup, you’d the frog with your mind.

Well, Doris, science can’t find consciousness. It doesn’t exist as a physical property. Consider that a moment. The one thing that assures us that we exist does not even exist according to science. Therefore, our core being is non-physical, timeless, spaceless, and non-gendered. So, the next question is, do we define ourselves by our minds or by our bodies, and which controls the other? When you sing and play the keyboards it’s your mind controlling your body. That’s the answer. So, while biology is definitely a factor, the more you involve the mind, the less it is so.

Consider that George Eliot (her real name was Mary Anne Evans) wrote under a male pseudonym so she wouldn’t be discriminated against as producing “women’s literature”, and her novels fooled everyone. How is this possible? Because her imagination was powerful enough to jump the gender divide, and she could imagine what it’s like to be a man. Her mind wasn’t limited by female biology.

So, when you talk about some things, sure, the biology applies, but the mind is far more powerful than the body. It’s a mistake to think the physical controls the psychic, that unconscious anatomy controls the conscious mind. So, don’t underestimate your own mental potential. You are more than a woman or a man or both.

I’m not siding with feminists, because this isn’t their message. They are busy saying men are bad. Either way, you guys are arguing that we are biologically determined, or else conditioned socially because of our biology to be a certain way. We are better than that and not so easy to pin down or restrict.

You guys are rockers, and you instinctively know the unfettered power of the imagination. That’s the real you. What you see in the mirror is like your computer case, important though that is. But it’s the user who really matters, what’s in the case. And the user is like a ghost without gender or any form. Our minds just associate so much with our bodies we think we are the same thing. Nope. If we could put your mind in a different body, you’d still be you in that body, even if it was a guy’s.

Cheers

~ Ends


If you like this sort of independent art criticism, that doesn’t need to answer to anyone and has no outside limitations, consider throwing me a bone. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art back on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). Ah, if only I could amass a few hundred dollars per month this way, I could focus entirely on my art and writing. See how it works here.

Or go directly to my account.

Patreon-account


Or you can make a small, one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).

donate-button

If an advertisement appears below, I have no control of it and get no proceeds.


 

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Good Guy Hunting: In Defense of Matt Damon

  1. Here, here! I’m still waiting for things to cool down so that real dialogue starts. The movement is losing its legitimacy by equating groping with rape or punishing men for expressing conciliatory thoughts.

    Sadly, I don’t believe women are being necessarily hypocritical. At this point, drawing from the collective rage, they might very well feel as devastated from a butt squeeze as from something far worse. And it goes to minorities too… when a discussion on “pink” is seen as a personal affront. How insecure must one be to feel attacked from every single direction? #MeToo has got me revisiting some past incidents too, and it all looks far more painful through this new lens. I don’t think this approach is benefiting anyone and I certainly can’t imagine how unbearable it must be for any rape victims out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just added a little section about Alyssa Milano’s assertion that we live in a patriarchal society in which misogyny is normalized and welcome. This conclusion comes from feminist THEORY, but she accepts it as scientific fact. Her perceptions are colored by that paradigm.

      You mention this “rage” and she mentioned it as well, and that it was “righteous”. But is the rage at the real situation, or at a world seen through overarching theoretical conclusions (which are highly debated)?

      I rather think some of the more extreme beliefs are creating extreme reactions out of proportion to the actual situation, hence this article about the treatment of Damon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eric,
    1984 scared the crap out of me when I was young. Now the nightmare Orwell imagined seems to be coming to life. Not only here in America but I read an article that said by 2020 China will be scoring all of its citizens by their internet use. If you play too many video games your score goes down. If you have a bad conversation with someone you can give them a bad score, if your score is low you won’t be able to dine at some of the best restaurants or won’t be able to get flights and such. I’m sure that will just be the beginning of much worse to come. Technology might be the great but it could also be the end of life as we know it. Now just about anyone can ruin the life of a good person with the click of a button. But you can’t stop them by arguing that they are idiots so they shouldn’t be allowed to speak their mind, even though that is exactly what they are doing. And unfortunately having an intelligent response to them doesn’t work either, as I can tell by the fact that almost no one reads your blog. Sorry for that comment but it’s true. And I consider you to be one of the most intelligent people I have ever read. I know none of the people who think the way they do have thought past today. If you actually play this forward you would realize the outcome is bad for white men, but I think much worse for all women and gays and minority’s. What happens when a group of people are told they are horrible because of something that is out of their control. Well they definitely don’t love it. Sooner or later all the anger is going to blow. The longer it’s bottled up the worse it is. If people are not allowed to speak their mind for fear of being publicly tarred and feathered they will keep it in. When the people who are keeping it in are in the majority as white men are in America that could be another Nazi germany in the making or worse. We are not great at learning from the past as a species I guess. But what could be done to stop a freight train going 100 on a track that’s coming to an bridge that’s down. You Might have to jump off before it’s too late.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Matt:

      You have me so much to think about. Thanks. I’m afraid my response to your comment will be so long it might be better as a blog post. I mean, I slept on your comment, and so I have lots of ideas about it that I’m still processing. I’ll try to be concise.

      I’d heard about China’s new rating system for all citizens. I think we can all sense this is bad, but how to articular precisely why? Sure, part of it is the intensive monitoring of individuals. Then there’s the invention of a new kind of caste system: a hierarchy of people. And, of course, who is watching the watchers? Right. Nobody. They are left to monitor themselves as they see fit, and are probably as exempt from the rules as Chairman Mao when he cultivated his harem of young girls in order to increase his manliness. The same man who had people killed for not upholding the cause of the elevation of peasants took advantage of peasant girls, infecting them with STDs. I’ve lived in China, and, well, quite often morality is for the worker and underling, while the boss gets drunk, smokes, and whores.

      Worse still, perhaps, is the policing of the imagination and making people into cookie-cutter subordinate beings. One may wonder why an enormous country teaming with tens of millions of brilliant, highly educated people doesn’t produce anything like the innovations of America. When you crush individuality and oppress, suppress, and repress the imagination, there goes novelty.

      And yes, I think the same thing is going on in America, though we also have a very strong, tooth and claw reaction against any such suppression of the individual and the imagination. That shit’s not going to fly for very long in the States. This crap just inspires me to be more heretical, more rebellious, and less constrained. I’m sure millions of other people feel the same way.

      Don’t worry about offending me saying nobody reads my blog. You ain’t gotta’ tell me! You forgot to mention that nobody looks at my art, either. I think about the reasons for that, and, I’m just not reaching my audience because they don’t know I exist. If you like my stuff, so would other people.

      True, if I knew I’d have this paltry of a following for my blog or my art 5 years ago, I might not have gone down this path. But I’m looking at the same prospect for the next 5 years and it’s not stopping me. Why? Because what would be the meaning in my life without art and even writing and thinking and expressing my ideas? Well, yeah, like every other thwarted artist and intellectual I could find pleasure in pizza, beer, movies, sex, and so on. But if I’m able to continue making art and writing I’ll do it (also would make more videos…), because for me it’s more meaningful. But the freedom to develop ones mind, to discover, and to share is strangely considered irrelevant. You can see this in the dramatic change in the goals of college students. Used to be they went to university to expand their minds (that’s why I went), but now it’s to make money, and more young people are majoring in business related classes than ever before, last I checked.

      And this is where visual art comes in. It’s an arena where the imagination can go wild, outside of the margins of enforced social proprieties, and even outside of linguistic structures. Some of my more Surrealistic drawings are a big FU, and I say things in them I know I’m saying, but which I would not dare say in words. Believe me, if I can keep working I’m only going to unleash more.

      Thinking about this crap – all the oppression, suppression, repression – I thought the only way to fetter the imagination, and you’d have to blot out dreams as well (I had some last night that tested my metal), is to physically damage the brain. Short of that (and I hope people have seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), those of us who are already individuals are not going to entirely crushable. And the more there is an effort to strangle and constrain the imagination, the more it will rebel and find cracks and fissures to leak out from and renew itself.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

  3. I’m happy that there are artists and thinkers such as yourself who are not afraid to swim against the current, strong as it may be. Your blog has been one of my anchors to sanity in regards to todays media and art world, and I have been coming back since I discovered it through your post on skill in visual art (which was just what I needed at the time, working through a personal crisis trying to reconcile my craft-oriented approach to art.)

    I’d have to say one of my biggest problems with the kind of radical intersectional thinking you described is the way it dismisses all criticism and seems to have any notions of contrary points of view woven into its own theory apparatus: The very act of disagreeing is automatically judged to be nothing but a whiny temper tantrum thrown by a thin-skinned, privileged and clueless oppressor (even if a passive one.) The other is the notion that those deemed as the oppressed supposedly know better what the oppressors are REALLY thinking and feeling, even better than the oppressors themselves. I guess this makes me a bit of a coward, but I very rarely speak out against these things, except with people I know. It just seems so futile, especially on the internet. While I agree with you whole-heartedly, I admit that just the fact that enough angry people with pitchforks would condemn even agreeing to this kind of writing as automatically deplorable makes me question myself. Seems I’ve allowed myself to fall to the tyranny of the (supposed) majority.

    I’ve often though how grueling your post-grad must have been for you. Thankfully the kind of spirit you’ve often described in your blog isn’t as of yet the dominant one in my country’s upper education, at least where I went for my degree. Still, its becoming apparent that in at least the more cutting-edge art institutions radical feminist theory seems to slowly but surely gain ground. Every new movement and theory seen in the States seems to reach Finland eventually, often with very little consideration for the very different historical and cultural backgrounds.

    Y’know, another book which has eerie similarities to some of the ways of thinking of these social justice warriors is Solzenitsyn’s ‘The GULAG Archipelago.’ To be sure, were not at the stage where those deemed deplorable by the new order are carted of to slave-labor camps, but the theory and rhetoric used to justify this is almost word for word: The oppressed are the only ones with an objective view, the rage of the oppressed is just and justifies any disproportionately harsh punishing of the oppressors, the trampling down of the former oppressors is mandatory for the reaching of a new equality… and I could go on.

    So, hats off to you. Keep on doing what you do, and don’t let the bastards grind you down. Both your articles and art have provided much food for though, as well as enjoyment over the couple of years I’ve been aware of them.

    – Elias

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elias. Thanks for commenting, and it’s great to know I have some readers out there that I don’t know about who have read more than just one article after doing a Google search. I’m also glad to know that artists find some of my writing helpful in sloughing off the net of various kinds of overbearing and proscriptive theories, paradigms… Actually reaching an intelligent audience is the best reward for writing a post like this.

      Right, I’ve heard about ‘The GULAG Archipelago’ via Jordan Peterson, when he warns that the left can be as tyrannical and barbarous as the right. I’ll have to read that soon (I found audio book versions I can listen to while working on art) to expand my knowledge base, but, I’m no especially looking forward to it as it sounds like it may darken my world view another notch or two or three.

      Of course similar things occurred in Cambodia and China, both places I’ve lived in for years. Your comment had me thinking yesterday about how people can be in the very act of torturing or murdering someone and justify it under the guise that the person is an “oppressor”. On a much smaller scale notice how feminists were insisting that Matt Damon shut up and take a back seat, rhetoric he echoed to salvage his career. Similarly, “SHUT IT DOWN” is the rallying cry of the anti-oppressor. Oh, how they fight fire with fire in a war against fire, even when there isn’t a fire.

      That’s the thing that really annoys me. I’m NOT the oppressor, or the evil other, or the bad guy, or privileged. I went to grad school 25 years ago, and only recently I’ve cobbled together arguments as to why everyone has a right and obligation to strive to realize themselves. Also, I don’t think anyone respects the person who meekly subordinates themselves and assumes the burden of guilt for someone else’s crimes. I’m not going to take a back seat for more than 25 years.

      Also, right that there is the idea that the supposedly oppressed know what it’s like to be the oppressor. I wrote about that in connection with the attack on Dana Schutz. Ryan Wong, writing for Hyperallergic, stated that Dana didn’t know what it means to be black in America, or white in America, but Ryan apparently knows what it’s like to be both, even though he’s Chinese. Thus, there is the very popular idea in academia and social media that all POC know what it’s like to be white, and each other, and white people don’t even know what it’s like to be white. All of this stuff is recycled biological determinism, behaviorism, and other nifty forms of regressive reductionism.

      I’ve noticed that my critics tend to resort to name calling and can’t string together a coherent argument. Well, if I get a good adversary than he or she will serve up tortuous Postmodern academic speak, the regurgitated rhetoric of radical theorists read in college (the same material I had to slog through).

      A huge irony here is that there is the notion that anything I have to say is irrelevant because I am a white male, and I’m NOT deconstructing my white male privilege, either. In reality I come from the working class, have not had an easy life, and am being actively oppressed by these theorists who tell me I need to shut up for 5 minutes. I would feel better if I was fairly confident I am actually better off than them to begin with. If they’ve truly had a harder life, than they have my sympathy, but I’m not the one pointing the finger at them telling them they don’t matter and to shut up. I’m defending my right to exist and to express myself.

      IT’S OK TO BE ME.

      Again, thanks for commenting, and I’ll look into the Gulag Archipelago soon. I’m sure I will learn some major lessons from it.

      Like

  4. “It is now possible to be party to violent crime without actually directly harming anyone, without even knowing you did anything at all.”
    I like this. In fact I like the whole post. I confess that I often read your blog posts ( yeah one of them ghost readers) but don’t respond. Partially this is due to the thoughts like sparks that fly upward that linger for days or months in my head. I’m still pondering the one regarding your flight to Hawaii and and whether or not coincidence and serendipidty are real substantial elements/occurences or ‘just’ a human preference for giving things meaning. I , in fact , have had some really apparently ,unusual coincidences occur. Sort of like Creationism vs Evolution. Once you accept that life in all it’s sophistication can occur from both random coincidence and frequent trial and error it somehow becomes easier to believe that all ‘chance’ events are intentionally meaningless. Is the ‘story’ there or are we creating it by trying to simplify and give meaning to complex events. Anyway, y’see this is why I don’t comment, ha! You’re posts are that good and stimulating.
    Yeh, so back to your topic! ha . The other day on my facebook art page I posted a meme which I made from a photo of Kwai Chang Caine (Kung Fu) and his master examining lit candles. I put in the words “Patience Grasshopper. The Art Muse will return at the Right Time” I heard a pin drop so-to-speak in one dark corner of my mind. “Did I just insult 2 billion people” I did not intend to because to me it was all about context. Yet since the last decade or so context seems to have less and less importance. As you say, murder, rape, etc..No…these are not good (to understate it). However as you point out, we need those”pillars of justice” before we go back to a time of sacrificing needless, innocent victims to the volcano gods of our own making ( an old Spider-man cartoon comes to mind). We need context. I have also been thinking of this in terms of mental health. I am from Canada and Canada is a relatively liberal country. The hashtag movements of the past that would have been ,had they existed (I’m 54), would have condemned many a soul that were otherwise mentally challenged or simply not accepted by the scientific community as exhibiting ‘normal’ behavior. Even murder/ serial killing, is now seen in a more’forgiving’ way ( maybe not the right word) than it would have been but it becomes ( a little more) complex issue with context provided. My point is that those accused of ‘thought crime’ today may in the very least (Matt Damon and us excluded,lol) simply be considered mentally unwell in the future and not in needed of banishment or exile and death on a desert island. In fact such, so called, thought criminals may be only pitied. (And no ,like you, I am not condoning bad behaviour ). I hope I’m making some sense as I do agree with what you are saying. For example: Although Harvey Weinstein and others have acted badly and should be pursued by law, etc these cases may in fact be considered mental health issues ,some 50 years from now, by the very same (ultra?)liberal types that would have them crucified today! It would seem that in a world of more shared ideas there is also much less thought. I hope I haven’t rambled too much. Keep up the good work! K

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kevin:

      Great to hear from you. You are the first person to acknowledge the exploration of coincidences in my posts from Hawaii. I have one really powerful coincidence that raised those questions to a higher degree that I might right about in the future. It is a fascinating topic if one is a very rational sort of person who is nevertheless willing to entertain the possibility that there are phenomenon that transcend reason in one way or another. It’s a kind of grappling with reality, but without the reassuring tools of logic to neatly package an answer.

      Incidentally, I believe Darwin’s theory of evolution has been expanded upon in recent years. Some scientists now think the mutations aren’t completely independent of the environment and need, hence not 100% random. I’m trouble by the extraordinary camouflage of some leaf geckos. You have a lizard that looks exactly like a leaf, and this high specificity needed to take place completely randomly without becoming less specific. If mutation is completely random, than the chances of a gecko being born looking more like a leaf than its predecessors are infinitesimally small, and this is increasingly so as the lizard approaches seamless camouflage, in which case the mutation needed is the equivalent of rolling double sixes hundreds or thousands of times in a row. Think of the increased luck needed toward the end of a Backgammon game but multiplied thousands of times.

      There’s that analogy that given enough time a troupe of monkeys could randomly type out the collected works of Shakespeare. Uh, no, because with each additional word or letter the odds increase exponentially against it. People start with the conclusion that it must necessarily be that everything is random and purely the interaction of physical properties, in accordance with the laws of physics that we’ve already discovered. I tend to think that the ways of the universe are as infinite as it is in terms of space, and the likelihood we’ve already figured it all out is pretty damned slim. Reality just keeps going and there are always new discoveries to be made.

      As some of our best scientists now say, reality is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine. That doesn’t exactly sync with a Cartesian model of the universe that sees everything working like a clock.

      I love Kwai Chang Caine, he was a role model and inspiration for me when I was a school kid. Was the idea that you insulted the Chinese by quoting a fictional show staring David Carridine, a white man playing an Asian? I’m not sure the Chinese would be offended. Asians that haven’t been radicalized tend to be flattered by Western cultural appropriation, or at least the bluejeans wearing ones don’t have such a problem. But I get what you are saying, I think, about policing your own mind based on political correctness.

      Your idea that Weinstein and crew could suffer from a mental illness is new to me, sort of. I did think a bit along those lines in terms of Chuck Close, wondering how being paralyzed would effect ones sexual desire, expression, and gratification, and if it was too easy to condemn someone in his physical condition. But now that you bring it up, you may be onto something. It does seem to be a sort of addiction linked with sexual stimulation and risk, and we know that sex provides the sort of dopamine gratification that drugs do, in which case addiction is a real possibility.

      I did contemplate the fact that it’s easy for someone like me to condemn these powerful men for taking advantage of young women, as if I’ve been resisting such opportunities myself for decades on end. And, dare I express this thought, if you are a woman, well, it’s infinitely easier to keep your male sexual drives under wraps. I get a little less judgmental over time.

      Whether or not it’s a mental illness, and to what degree that is an excuse (is it a mental illness that is a self-fulfilling prophecy), what I addressed in this article is punishing men who just happen to share with those characters the fact that we are also men.

      I’m not Harvey Weinstein and I’m not going to let someone smear me with his crimes. Further, the person who tries to do so is the immoral one who reduces people to their biology at birth and seeks to sadistically punish innocent people out of a misplaced and overzealous notion of retributive justice. I think Alyssa Milano’s idea of extracting cancerous tumors from men without using anesthesia because they necessarily have the endemic disease of misogyny sounds a bit too much like gleefully castrating innocent men and patting oneself on the back for it.

      On the other hand, I have no sympathy for men who in reality have sexually assaulted the actress and am not defending them in the slightest.

      Gotta go.

      Thanks for writing. It’s great to know I have another reader, and it makes it worthwhile to have taken the time to pen this post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. New
        Hi Eric. Yes I watched Kung Fu as well. I guess as you said, it wasn’t so much that I knew what, where or how I may have insulted the Chinese but against a milieu of heightened awareness my brain said “Guilty” before I even knew my transgressions. Your article on coincidence resonated so much with me that I actually copied a paragraph to paper-“” I should have been hunkering down all these years…not only could I pay for storing my art, there wouldn’t be any to pay for”. No I’m not a creepy groupie, but my own personal experience plus the ingenious way in which you worded it really resonated, as I said. Yes also, I am no huge fan of evolution or should a
        I say, a dogmatic one. The universe, multiverse , *whatever* seems far too complex “reality is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine”. Agreed. On coincidence: I used to have a lot of odd ones when I worked in a music/Cd store. Maybe it’s what listening to music all day does to the brain. maybe it connects the mind to something else(?). One example is that after spending a few hours ‘facing’ Cd’s i.e. individually reorganizing them -I would often stop and feel ‘drawn’ ( miss my italics)to something about a CD and begin to just get momentarily lost in either a song or title or artist. Often this resulted in odd coincidences like when a customer came in requesting that very same song (remember -after arriving there alphabetically) while I was standing there staring at it in my hand! Let me tell you it wasn’t a top 40 or popular song or artist. The chances of that happening after dealing with hundreds and hundreds of CD’s would be mesmerizing. Stuff like this happened quite often and at certain times or what seemed like periods of activity. Then would not occur for a time. Similar things happened so often I thought the place was haunted, ha. I don’t think Richard Dawkins’ explanation by use of coin really cuts it. (Why Coincidences are Meaningless-Dawkins, Youtube)
        Just for the record and to be doubly sure that some future reader who might stumble across my thoughts here like they would the ancient stonehenge ruins ,and wonder what they mean, let me say :I do not condone or excuse sexual harassment by associating it somehow with mental health. All I’m saying is that there may come a time, not unlike what we’ve seen certain ‘crimes’ in the past , become less ‘demonized’ in a sense. Society fifty years from now may be less inclined to use the metaphorical guillotine, or shock therapy, et al on sexual harassers. Right now it looks like the guilty or even accused are subject to total erasement. Although it may be more inclined to excise criminal thought in some way..again , thought control or “castration”. Yes. You are correct “the sins of the fathers should not be visited upon the sons” so to speak. Thank you .

        Like

        1. Thanks for writing back, Kevin, as I also find your writing and thought processes — how shall I say this — substantiate my sense of reality and self-worth because grounded in humanity. Something like that.

          For example, I can see how listening to music all day could put the mind in another state — and I’m sure science could support this with brain scans if it hasn’t already — and in that other state might bleed into other subtle capacities.

          Yes, exactly, no excuses for the bad behavior, but not trying to erase the perpetrators from history (and we really should hesitate when we find ourselves doing something right out of the pages of 1984)

          Essentially, you are arguing for more scope and compassion. The horror! There does seem to be a heavy inclination right now for people to NOT seek compassion for ALL (as intellectuals traditionally did in the past, ex., Capote’s “In Cold Blood”), but to have it very selectively, and make many people automatically not worthy of it. I’ve become convinced that scapegoating is a fundamental trait of human psychology.

          Also, you made me laugh at my own paragraph, presenting the prospect of not having made art as part of a double benefit along with not having to pay for storing it. If you write enough you get a good line here and there.

          Thanks for the conversation, and feel welcomed to comment in the future. Incidentally, right now I’m listening to “Free Hand” by Gentle Giant.

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s