Let’s begin with a story:
Imagine you live in a decent suburban neighborhood. You spend your Saturdays making minor repairs to your house and trimming the lawn. You don’t fancy yourself a professional landscaper, but you have a few trees and a few flowers and the Kentucky bluegrass looks nice and even once you’ve mowed.
Your neighbor, a decent enough bloke, you suppose, buys a dog. Say, a golden retriever. The dog, quickly named Skipper, is a normal enough beast. He likes playing with a disgusting tennis ball and really likes sniffing your neighbor’s grass.
All is well until one Saturday morning when you head out to mow the lawn and end up stepping in Skipper’s poop. You don’t think it’s a big deal; dogs crap on the wrong lawn on occasion. You don’t say anything because you understand that Skipper is just being a dog.
It happens again the following Saturday. Then twice a week. Then three times a week. Before long, you have dead patches in your lawn and you can’t take three steps without planting your foot in a giant fly-occupied mound of turds.
Skipper is the authoritarian left. We like our friends well enough, but we can no longer allow them to defecate on our public discourse.
A couple weeks ago, a couple of the stars of the new Avengers movie made the mistake of calling a fictional character a “slut” after a long day of answering the same exact questions. The director of the film, Joss Whedon, left Twitter after countless members of the authoritarian left excoriated (and sometimes threatened) him for the way he wrote one of the characters. The film enjoyed the second-highest grossing opening weekend of all time.
In preparation for his own junket marathon, Jurassic World star Chris Pratt released a pre-emptive apology for whatever he might say while doing publicity work for the film:
- No matter what you say, the authoritarian left will pillory you.
- The mainstream media will run with the story and Salon and the usual suspects will employ questions to make you Public Enemy Number One for at least a single news cycle. (“Did Chris Pratt Mean to Erase the Lived Experience of Transgender Actors?”)
I loved the way Mr. Pratt addressed the criticism that he knows will come. The authoritarian left maintains laserbeam focus in their attempt to pick the smallest nits representing deviation from their dogma. Mr. Pratt’s “future-pology” illuminates one of the authoritarian left’s most pernicious qualities: in seeking to police and homogenize language, the authoritarian left is also doing what they can to restrict thought.
There are more than seven billion people on planet Earth and each of them think a little bit differently. Any time you interact with another human being, you run the risk of stumbling across uncomfortable differences in opinion. For most of us, particularly those on the sane left, that’s okay. I simply can’t understand most of the justifications of fiscal conservativism…but I am happy to engage in a discussion about the idea. Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps my debate partner will realize he or she is wrong. Perhaps we both realize were were slightly wrong and alter our positions a little.
What I’m describing, of course, is the marketplace of ideas. The authoritarian left does not like the marketplace of ideas. They seek to homogenize language so we all resemble disciples of Crash Davis, spouting meaningless cliches that sound good, but say absolutely nothing.
What do I think of Hillary’s candidacy for President? “You know, you have to go one primary at a time. It would be exciting to see a female President. Hillary has accomplished so much and Good Lord willing, the right person will get the job.”
The authoritarian left wants all of us to resemble awful talk show guests. Think of some of the big stars when they did Letterman. (We love you, Dave!) Some big stars–I’m thinking of Dwayne Johnson–are really interesting and say unexpected things. Some guests, particularly reality stars, are boring as hell and say nothing. Watch Dave try to communicate with Kristen Stewart:
She’s not giving anything back to Letterman, but she’s serving her purpose. She looks good and is telling people to go see whatever movie she’s publicizing.
Homogenized discourse is comfortable and safe and inoffensive. That’s why the authoritarian left loves it. Such discourse is also easy to police; you can be punished once you deviate from the script. The primary problem with our extremist friends is that homogenization eliminates dissent and it eliminates creativity: two of the greatest threats to authoritarian ideologies.
If you haven’t read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (that’s the real name), you should do so immediately. In a way, poor Winston is someone like Chris Pratt. He has real thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, he makes jokes that others may not find funny. He even has thoughts that are unfair or unpleasant. But he can’t voice them, lest he find himself sent to Room 101. The rest of us are subject to slightly lower stakes, but they are there. If we say the wrong thing and it happens to go viral…we’re going to get hammered until we promise we love Big Brother.
The odds are very good that the Salon faction is going to hammer Chris Pratt over something he says in the next month. If that happens, please fight that irrational rhetoric with the sane version of same.