Thursday, February 2, 2012

Addressing Evil

Promised follow-up to the brouhaha on Empire Burlesque some weeks ago.

Plot summary: one "Martin Timothy" shows up on Mr. Floyd's site in the comments section, discussing how all Jews should be gassed.  Mr. Floyd responds by censoring him.  This one suggested that censorship was bad, and that addressing problems was the only way to fix them.  Mr. Floyd ultimately refused, saying that Martin Timothy's comments were too inflammatory to be allowed on his site.

In a rare (teehee) moment of sardonic behavior, this one posted:

After much consideration, I support your decision. We all have the right to express our own desires in our own places. Allowing these kinds of extremists venues to communicate their radicalism only empowers them further and exposes their message to more people. They need to be repressed and sealed away so that the rest of us can get on with what's important in the higher echelons of the mind.

The language chosen here is not coincidence.  What is the traditional cause of many adult behavioral problems?  Repression.  Burying troublesome thoughts away in the subconscious leads to breakthroughs, as well as manifestations of absurd behaviors that represent the subconscious trying to express the problem in an allowable way.  Like repressed sexual urges coming out as sexual abuse of a child, repression doesn't tend to go over well.

On a larger scale, when human societies repress their unsavory elements, rather than dealing with them, the repression does not go well.  It seems to go well, for a little while.  Shut all of the dissidents up in the madhouse, and stuff will be fine, right?  After all, the streets will be clear.  Don't say troublesome things.  Don't talk to people who just don't get it.

Doesn't work.  The reason that Martin Timothy and other Martin Timothys exist is that, when unabashedly genocidal urges come out in our culture (as opposed to the well-disguised genocidal ones of, say, Congress or Sarkozy or anyone on the staff of the NYT), we tend to shut them away.  Crazy people too crazy to be addressed do not get addressed.

As a result, like ignored malignant cells, they metastasize.  Instead of being disproven and helped--or just exposed for all to see, after which they stomp off to their basement--they emerge the triumphant victor.  Their opponents are so afraid that they can't even deal with their arguments.  They have proof--they got censored.  No one could handle them.  The truth is out there.  And when you drop someone down the memory hole, not only do you prevent their viewpoints from endangering anyone further, you also prevent their viewpoints from serving as an object lesson--a vaccine--to help us the next time someone like that comes along, with whose terminology we are initially unfamiliar.

In the alleys of our collective subconscious, they whisper their hatred to unsuspecting ears, and gain more strength more for their points of view.  They find others like them--the only persons willing to talk to them--and engage them, rather than engaging people who might try to talk them out of murderous ways.

Perhaps even more insidious, the repression causes many people to believe that such hatreds do not exist.  After all, if madmen like Martin Timothy are never given a public platform, many people might grow up believing that "wackos like that are only imaginary."  Why, then, ever prepare to deal with such people who truly exist, and who come to power?  Learning to deal with Martin Timothy's madness will, ultimately, make it easier to deal with Obama's madness--and letting people see that this sick soul is out there will help them realize that there might be others, and seek to address them.  War might well grind to a halt.

When you seek only consensus and compromise, your end result is an unchallenged one.  You might be right; you might be wrong; you might be powerful; you might be weak.  But you're not changing.  Your outlook is then limited to only those perspectives that you, and those who agree with you, can ever present.  Refusing to commingle with the rest of your fellow humans loses you whatever good things they might bring you--including the learning experience of dealing with the bad things they bring you.  It also loses them the ability to learn from what good things you might bring.  Such as, in the case of Martin Timothy, the ability to help him understand that gassing Jews is not good or right, and would not solve any of his problems.

The traditional "ostrich's head in the sand" is a bit of "common sense" that makes sense, but which is not often used.  Like CNN or the presidential debates, Empire Burlesque makes itself a bastion only for those who already agree with it.  How is culture to be shared?  How is the Empire Burlesque ever to learn about the mistakes it may make dozens of years in the future, or the mistakes it may make tomorrow, if it refuses to interact with those who disagree with it?

How is Empire Burlesque ever to prove that it cares about humanity if it is unwilling to counter and assist in the curing of a genocidal madman who walks into its very doors and proclaims himself?


  1. i'll sound like a jordan peterson fanbot, i know. but i'm curious about how dr. peterson would line up on this censorship question.

    on the one hand, he believes there's evil. he believes in the "sacred" (things that are inviolable). from this, one might expect him to take the same hard line as regards "the evil".

    on the other hand, he's also a psychologist.

    he tells the story of his nephew, who at one time suffered from terrible nightmares. he relates that the boy was undergoing a period of uncertainty (starting school, parents divorcing, &c., if i remember correctly). one night, while visiting, the boy wakes from nightmare. once the boy calms down, peterson asks the boy about his dream. boy relates that, in the dream, the boy is surrounded by creatures with sharp beaks. they're not large creatures, but they are numerous. and wherever the boy wanted to go, the creatures would jump up and snap at him with their sharp beaks. boy also relates that, in the background, there was a large, fire-breathing dragon. and whenever the dragon spewed fire, the fire would turn into a slew of the little beaked creatures. peterson asks the boy, so how would you defeat the dragon that's creating all this trouble? boy responds, i'd take a sword, and go with my father, and jump down the dragon's throat and cut out a piece of the box where the fire comes from and make a shield out of it. after this, boy is cured of his nightmares.

    peterson takes this as an amazing event. the cure, sure--a nice feature of the story. but even more, rather, amazing that reality often presents itself to humans as myth & allegory. and just as amazingly, humans capable of facing up to reality on those terms--to create a personal hero myth (story) that helps to cope with an uncertain reality.

    and so the question is, suppose martin timothy/mt's ideation = dragon/beaked creature. do we create a heroic persona for ourselves to vanquish? if so, how?

    peterson's main theme is: life occurs at the boundary between chaos (the unknown, the risky, the dangerous) and order (the known, the safe). if we're situated in total chaos, we become overwhelmed, defeated, lost, nihilistic, etc. things are too difficult. (my sense of ioz' following, fwiw.) if we're situated in total order, we become dead, robotic, unfulfilled. things are too easy. in both cases, we become depressed, perhaps suicidal. (possible tie-in to artist kelley?)

    so one analysis: for those offended by the martin timothys of the world (and their ideations), there's a choice. retreat into the safety of order, or confront (with a foot in chaos and a foot in order) on that boundary separating chaos from order.

    but it's hard to say what the right place to be is. i think peterson would say it depends on where you yourself are. sometimes, what you need is the safe haven. other times, what you need is to venture out beyond your confines, to test, to engage, to dialogue. that's the challenge for blog censorship. sometimes, the "safe" space is not (what it seems).

    (i think it's funny that i take the wwjpd? approach, given the lecture i most recently watched [as linked in other comment] has peterson suggesting that christ is the embodiment of man living on the edge of [and bridging] chaos and order. that is, all humans living as humans [and not asea in chaos or shackled in order] are jesus christ. so, wwjd?, indeed.)

    1. Puppylander,
      G.K. Chesterton didn't need psychology to see the necessity of myth, nor did the ancients.

      We moderns will wise up eventually.

  2. the reply links don't seem to work for me, so i'll respond here.

    gabe, maybe.