24 July 2016

And farther down we go.

I saw a few links to this article entitled "I'm a baby hater and I'm not sorry". The most obvious comment to make is to point out that if you were to replace "baby" with any other identifiable social, racial, ethnic, gender or religious group, this article would be a stunning example of racism, sexism and so on. However, it is only directed at babies, and  therefore it is an  acceptable lead article at a major liberal periodical with pretensions of being intellectual.  Despite out society's claim to tolerance, we have what may be called our acceptable hates . Babies are among them.

That's the first point.  Then second point is more complicated.  This article is an indication of how far we have descended down the slope, and how close we are to the terrible conclusion.

Before the latter half of the last century, it was held that it a virtuous to accord to people and things the respect each deserved.  A large part of the liberal education was to train people in how to appreciate each thing as was proper.  It was  for this reason that philosophers argued over the difference between the sublime and the beautiful.  Does this work of the hand of Man or Nature deserve to be appreciated as a thing of beauty, or should we feel the awe and humility we are meant to feel before the sublime?

The modern argument against this is simple, backwards, and completely misses the point: who decided that we should honour this more than that? Who decided how we should feel about anything?  What they  are missing is this: no one decided that, just as no one decided that 1+1=2. These were logical conclusions derived rational applications of first principles.

CS Lewis touches upon this (and, not incidentally, the  question of liking or not liking children) in his Abolition of Man:

Those who know the Tao can hold that to call children delightful or old men venerable is not simply to record a psychological fact about our own parental or filial emotions at the moment, but to recognize a quality which demands a certain response from us whether we make it or not. I myself do not enjoy the society of small children: because I speak from within the Tao I recognize this as a defect in myself — just as a man may have to recognize that he is tone deaf or colour blind.

Like the author of the Salon article, Lewis did not care overmuch for the society of children. Unlike the author, he regretted it, and herein lies the rub.

We have rejected the old premises and in so doing we have bound ourselves in a world of uncontrolled appetite, desire and will.  We recognize no bounds, no obligations, no givens.  What we say goes. But, at the same time, we do not allow for others to tell us we are, from their point of view, wrong, and eventually we do not allow the other point of view to exist at all.  In this case, it  goes like this:

It is good and just to find children delightful. (good is good)

I don't find children delightful, and I am sorry. (I recognize that I lack a good, and I regret it. C.S. Lewis' position.)

I don't like children, and I am not sorry. (I deny the good exists in my case You may not tell me otherwise.)

I hate children. (I run contrary to the good.)

Hating children is right and just.  (Evil is now good.)

I hate children, and I deserve to be praised for so saying. (I say evil is good, and I demand you praise me for so saying.  The Salon author's position.)

This is where we have gone in a relatively short span of time.  Naked hatred, directed at those who by definition are utterly helpless and most in need of protection, in a major 'respected' publication, brought to us by an author who courageously faces the applause of her peers for her daring to embrace the very lowest and worst of our passions, and claims it to be the highest of goods. I'm the one who is right, she is saying. My feelings are right and just and you're the one who is wrong and who is deceiving yourself, and she resents those wrong with a burning hatred not for anything they have done or could do, but simply because they exist. She desires that they be not.  History has shown this has never lead to a good place, but you will never be able to tell her that.


LarryD said...

This is a great piece, Bear.

Bear said...