Monthly Archives: May 2014

Got privilege, honky boy?

Wednesday 14 May

When I lived in Denver one of the two papers there had a very funny food critic named John Kessler. He writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution now. One day John put in his column a photo taken at the meat and sausage counter of a local supermarket. It was of a sign advertising Cooked White Brats.  John’s caption to the picture: “They finally found a use for them.”

Mr Stephen Parkhurst has found an even better use for them. He makes hipster videos for publication on YouTube. Last September he issued one with actors as snarky Millennials commenting on their white privilege, complimenting (Irony Alert!) us Boomers for all the stupid stuff we did, and whinging about the present state of things in America, for which they, tender darlings, are now taking all the blame. It’s hard to tell if it’s serious or parody, which, one is given to understand, is all part of the fun. Mr Parkhurst replied to a commenter that the vid, while tongue-in-cheek, was seriously meant.

Well, just last week a sequel appeared, “White Guys: We Suck and We’re Sorry.” Maybe it was in response to Tal Fortgang’s recent outburst at Princeton. It features a half-dozen milquetoast pantywaists who, as they brag about their white male privileges, retardedly recognize the terrible and tragic truth. They verbally self-flagellate and confess their sins. These guys are whipped already; they might as well win a few points by abject proskynesis. They want a darn good spanking, please. “Don’t cut us any slack,” says one. Another closes with “We’re terrible people.”

Haw haw haw, made ya think, right?

If you, dear reader, want to “check your privilege,” you can go to a White Privilege Convention for discipline. Charlotte Allen wrote about last year’s conference here.  If you can’t attend, you can always buy a helpful instructional dvd for a hundred bucks, “a marvelous introduction to the topic.” If you’re a white guy, you deleterious slab of undeserved Western advantages, the WPC might even have some intensive training especially for you.

If you’re unsure how privileged you are, and thus how much treatment you need, you can take a quick MyPrivilege test on-line right here! I proudly report that I score 74/100, “Quite Privileged.” And if you’re still not clear on the concept, go right to the source, Peggy McIntosh. Nice lady, Peggy.  She’s got a list of 46 examples of White (mostly male) Privilege, very helpful.

But if you’re still in possession of a normal supply of androgens, men, buck up. In book 12 of the Iliad, Sarpedon and Glaucus, two Lycian chieftains who have recently come as allies of the Trojans, hesitate to join a battle at the Greek palisade. Sarpedon delivers a quick motivational speech to his friend: “Hey, how come we have all the best food and possessions? Why do our people honor and look up to us? It’s because, when there’s fighting to be done, we don’t hang back; no, we’re right on the front line, risking our lives in the thick of battle. We might die, but at least we’ll have earned the advantages and prestige we enjoy.” Sarpedon is a son of Zeus. Talk about privilege. Oh, he gets killed by Achilles’ buddy Patroclus not long after this.

Now, you don’t have to buy a whole package of Homeric ethics to get the message here: risk, sacrifice, and hard work justify preeminence and privilege. It’s an ancient core Western value, especially for men. It is bred in our bones to strive to achieve precisely to enjoy the benefits that result from our exertions and risk — not to apologize for them.

Why should not old men be mad?

Sunday 11 May 2014

Gilford, New Hampshire, 5 May 2014. At a school board meeting open to the public, one William Baer, attorney and recent immigrant from New Jersey, arose to object to a novel that his daughter’s 9th grade English class was required to read. This literary gem, Nineteen Minutes, was published in 2007 by Jodi Picoult, Long Island native, Granite State transplant, and a popular writer of coming-of-age and trendy, edgy family issues stories. The novel seems to center around a school shooting incident. There’s also bullying, gay-bashing, mean teen cliques, parent-child drama, violent video game addiction, murder, suicide – all the good stuff. I haven’t read it.

But that’s not what lit Mr Baer’s fuse. No, it was a passage in which two teens have sex in the date-rape style: “She could feel his erection, hot against her stomach. …  ‘Yeah,’ he groaned, and he pushed her thighs apart. And then suddenly Matt was inside her, pumping her so hard that she scooted backward on the carpet, burning the backs of her legs. … Semen, sticky and hot, pooled on the carpet beneath her.”  Classic stuff, that. And there’s more! The girl gets pregnant, considers abortion, has a miscarriage, commits murder, goes to prison, etc. 

Anyway, Mr Baer asked the Superintendent, one Mr Hemingway, to read the passage out loud. Ms Sue Allen, prim School Board chairperson, put the kibosh on that by limiting public comments to two minutes, prohibiting anyone from speaking a second time, and refusing to allow Board members to read aloud any material submitted at the meeting. She must have known something was up. When another parent protested that Mr Baer and others who shared his antiquated views would become censorious and dictatorial if allowed their way, Mr Baer responded to the absurdity of the remark with appropriate ridicule. A Board official asked him to be respectful, to whom he replied, “Like you’re respectful of my daughter, right? And my children?” In making these and other animadversions he exceeded Gilford parliamentary rules.

So a local police lieutenant then clapped the perp in manacles and hauled him off to the calaboose, right in front of his daughter Marina. Ms Baer, an icon of poise and controlled outrage, then returned to the meeting, respectfully asked to speak, and said the following:  “I just watched my father get arrested because he broke the two-minute rule at a board of education meeting. This just shows you resort to force at the first turn of conflict and I’m appalled. I don’t trust you. I haven’t. I honestly don’t feel safe around you people.” Without Terence’s irony, Domi habuit unde disceret (She had at home an example from which to learn).

Gilford HS freshmen have been assigned this trash since its publication, always with an opt-out notice for parents. Except they forgot to send the notice out this year. The Board is now revising its policies. But they and the Principal defend Nineteen Minutes for its “thematic importance.” And they “apologize for the discomfort of those impacted.” Oh, okay, then. As long as everyone’s comfortable. Fox News’ Todd Starnes asked Mr Hemingway about the quality of the work, to which the Principal replied “I’m not going to make a decision on pornographic material.” Ms Picoult claims that this and the rest of her oeuvre help parents and children engage in meaningful conversations. Or something.  She has an M. A. in Education from Harvard and she taught English in school for a year or two, so it’s all good.

Only a few miles north of Gilford is Squam Lake, where much of the 1981 movie On Golden Pond was shot. In that film a cynical brat named Billy Ray (played by Doug McKeon), about the same age as Marina Baer, is forced to live for a summer month with Norman, a crabby old retired professor, and his wife (Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn, respectively), while Hanoi Jane, playing Norman’s estranged daughter Chelsea, and Dabney Coleman, as Bill Ray the divorced dentist dad, dump the kid there to run off to Europe and get married. In one memorable scene Norman asks Billy Ray what he normally does to keep himself occupied.  The kid tells him that he likes to “suck face” with girls.  Old Norman bosses him upstairs to read Treasure Island. This of course is a metaphor for the restorative recovery of innocence — through good books —  in a jaded, soulless, sensually-addicted generation. It works for Billy Ray and for Norman also.  But it’s also a joke: even in 1981 this was yearning for a vanished world. No free “empowering” internet porn, no thematically important porno-pop novels then.

We’re much more sophisticated now, thanks to cool writers like J. Picoult. Now we have the honorable members of a School Board in a Rockwellian New England village arresting a man for doing his moral human duty as a father to protect his virtuous daughter from temptation and evil delivered by the State. Tell me, why should not old men be mad?



say that I am a man that love my own opinions

Sunday 4 May 2014

Herein, kind reader, will you find my desultory thoughts, should you wish to know them, mostly on such matters as education, American political economy, the state of the family, Diversity and Progressivism, along with an occasional book review. Once an oilfield truck driver in the Rocky Mountains, later a scholar and teacher of Latin and Greek classics, for over twenty years a true-blue liberal Democrat, I have come to see things differently and, I hope, more truly. I begin this journal to clarify my own thoughts, to hone my writing, and to communicate with my fellow man.  Oh, yeah: and to accommodate my vanity.