Before I start today, I wanted to mention two brief stories about our Europe trip that I’d missed in my column last week.
Please forgive me though, because I don’t want to turn into the obnoxious, elitist jerk who goes on and on about having gone to Europe. (“You simply must see Paris in the summertime. The escargot are to die for!”) We took a cost-saver tour, and the only thing that makes me a little big-headed is that I rubbed elbows with a bad-ass nonogenarian who pissed in Hitler’s bathtub(!)
Anyway, when we saw the armory in the tower of London, we came across two suits of armor made for Henry VIII. (And you know the original Henry must have been a money-maker, because there were 7 sequels!) (And he had his own Herman and the Hermits song.) One was much portlier than the other, and when I read some material on it, it turns out that both had been made for him in adulthood, but the second had been made 20 years after the first.
As an egalitarian American, it made me feel a little schadenfreude at Henry’s expense. We regular folks tend to struggle with weight gain and loss as we age, but the worst ramification is that we have to donate or toss our skinny pants or fat pants from time to time. But although Henry was the immensely powerful monarch of a great empire, endowed with access to anything he wanted — including the power to have troublesome exes beheaded when they became annoying (sweet, sweet consolation of 16th century divorce laws!) – he still had to battle the “coronation 15.”
And because his fancy clothes were made out of long-lasting armor, great crowds of people get to traipse through his armory centuries later, and point like Nelson (the Simpson’s character, not the hero of Trafalgar), and say, “HA, HA! Henry was a pudgy potentate!”
By the way, that’s why my will stipulates that at my death, all of my suits of armor will be melted down and re-cast into a statue of Cassie the Wonder Dog, gazing mournfully at the grave of her beloved master.
The other thing that I hadn’t mentioned is that my world-class wife surprised me at the end of our trip, by booking rooms in an Elizabethan manor house for our last night’s stay in England. We had mostly stayed in reasonably priced hotels to that point, but Gatwick is far away enough from London that she was able to get us rooms in a place built in 1580 for not much more than a good hotel room in central London.
As a guy who’s rehabbed a few houses over the years, I really loved that place! The interior doors were solid wood almost four inches thick, with old box locks that took skeleton keys to open them. Almost all of the interior woodwork and much of the leaded glass windows were original, and the grounds were all sculpted hedges and English gardens. It was a great place to spend our last night in England, and even though marriage isn’t a competition, my wife is somehow winning.
(If you’d like to see a picture of the place, you can check out Martinsimpsonwriting.com.)
Okay, on to some other scattered thoughts.
The bit of my last column that got the most reaction was the part where I chose my pronouns and adjectives (thee/thou, brilliant, handsome). And by the way thank you all for not pointing out that my chosen adjectives aren’t exactly spot on, since I’m average-looking at best, and less than Einstein-ian in the IQ department.
That’s what I love about CO nation – you are blackbelts at the suspension of disbelief in the service of a joke!
But of course my point was that I’m a lot closer to being both brilliant and handsome than a biological male is to being a “she” or “her,” and ultimately it does no favors to someone suffering from gender dysmorphia to pretend otherwise. The “list your pronouns” issue – though well-meaning, on the part of many liberals — is part of a larger leftist strategy to achieve political goals by using language to obfuscate/battle/re-shape reality.
And, as a side benefit, it tends to drive those of us in the reality-based community nuts!
Euphemisms – even well-intentioned ones – also work this way, and today’s elite left have raised euphemism to a misleading art form. The prime objective of “Planned Parenthood” is to prevent parenthood. The practice of preventing reproduction by aborting children is “women’s reproductive health.” Non-citizens who came into the country illegally are “undocumented citizens.” The top earners who pay the lion’s share of the taxes – roughly twice the percentage that they earn, per capita – are “not paying their fair share.”
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. (hat tip to Orwell)
Translucent Elizabeth Warren is “Native American.” (#wemustneverstopmockingher).
I could go on.
The point is whoever controls the language, tends to control political battles.
I’m reminded of a joke that is attributed to Lincoln, though I’m betting it’s apocryphal. It goes, “How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg?” The listener says, “5.” Lincoln says no. “Four. Because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
To class things up even more (though Lincoln is no slouch in the quotable wisdom department), I’m also reminded of a few lines from Hamlet. When he’s telling Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that Denmark feels like a prison to him, they say that they don’t think so. Hamlet replies, “Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.”
Because Shakespeare is a freaking genius, there is some truth to Hamlet’s double-edged reply. Because our attitude indeed shapes our emotional state, anyone can make a prison of Denmark; the glass really can be half empty or half full, depending on our outlook.
On the other hand, Hamlet is either crazy, or pretending to be so (lit critics differ on this point), and in one clear sense he is obviously wrong. He is not in a prison, though his grim, tragic outlook makes it feel so.
I can’t help but think of the young, impressionable Americans – I hope it’s not too many — who fall under the influence of leftist thought leaders, and end up with a correspondingly distorted view of the world. They live in the freest, richest, most opportunity-laden country in the history of the world, but when they look around, they see a hellhole of racism and sexism and bigotry. They enjoy freedoms and comforts and security that kings and emperors could never have dared dream of even a few centuries ago, but they feel like victims, vulnerable and hopeless.
They have been taught since grade school that a tail is a leg, and now they feel like they’re surrounded by five-legged predators who don’t exist.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, Lighten up, little AOC followers! The world’s not going to end in 12 years, and you’re not being persecuted by a shadowy white supremacist cabal. And assuming you don’t vote in a raft of socialists in the next several elections, your lives are not going to be nasty, brutish and short.
Let’s end on a happier note, and one that always makes me smile: stories of hypocrites being hoist on their own petard.
Already in the last month we’ve had Grandpa Socialist Sanders get caught not paying his campaign drones the $15 wage that he’s been hectoring the rest of us to pay for several years now. (HA!) And we’ve had Ol’ Joe Biden – purveyor or racism accusations galore – getting caught saying that – I’m sure you’ve seen this fantastic quote – “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” (HA!!)
When I first heard that quote, I immediately thought of the greatest character on tv today: Ron Swanson. If you haven’t seen Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness yet, drop everything and google that and watch it. I’ll wait.
My favorite square on the pyramid is the one that’s as tongue-in-cheek funny as Old Joe’s latest gaffe is unintentionally funny: “Capitalism: God’s way of determining who is smart, and who is poor.”
Which brings us to Sarah Silverman, someone who I think is actually a pretty talented comedian, when she can pull her head out of her politics. Which, sadly, is not that often lately. She’s been an outspoken leftist, of the “Trump is racist and conservatives are terrible and anyone who doesn’t agree with me is horrible” type.
Which means that she’s not been funny for a while.
But those days are over, because I just saw an article about why she lost a recent movie role. According to lefty Brit paper The Guardian, she was fired because of a 2007 skit she did in which she wore blackface. The original skit was intermittently funny, and involved her getting into an argument with an African-American guy over whether Jews or blacks have had a harder time, resulting in an experiment where she went out in blackface to see “how the other half lives.”
Not the most original concept in the world, but she handled it well. And the whole point of comedy is that you should be able to poke fun at everyone. But more than a decade after that sketch, when she was on the verge of starting what she called a “sweet part” in a movie, the producers found out about the old skit and fired her.
To which any compassionate, empathetic person could only respond, “BWA HA HA HA HA HA”… let me pause to get my breath – “HA HA HA HA!!!!”
Is that situation really worthy of a “BWA,” 10 “HA”s, and four exclamation points, you ask? Yes. In fact, if it weren’t for my mild, adult-onset asthma, I would be tempted to add another “BWA”, many more “HA”s and at least two more exclamation points.
Because it’s not just that a hypocritical leftist racist-baiter should get a karmic come-uppance. But the way she reacts is perfect, archtypically lefty: convinced that right wingers are to blame, with not a smidgen of self-awareness.
She says, “It was so disheartening. It just made me real, real sad, because I really kind of devoted my life to making it right.” Which is ridiculous, because she didn’t kill somebody in Reno just to watch him die. She did a comedy sketch 10 years before the p.c. police declared that no racial joke can ever be funny again.
She certainly has the self-flagellation move down pat, saying, “I cringe at material I did 10 years ago.”
But don’t think that she is actually accepting the blame for this. Let her explain who is really at fault. “I think it’s really scary and it’s a very odd thing that it’s invaded the left primarily and the right will mimic it,” adding that she dubs it “righteousness porn”.
First of all, I cannot think of a worse type of porn than “righteousness porn.” Ugh.
Second, “it invaded the left,” did it Sarah? Like maybe it came from outer space?
Look at her verbs. “Invading the left,” makes leftists passive victims. But then the right “mimicked it.” It didn’t invade or infect or contaminate the right – in which case the right would be victims, too. No. It invaded the poor, victimized left, and then the evil right wingers picked it up and took it from there.
She closes with the most unintentionally perfect summary of the leftist mindset possible: “It’s like, if you’re not on board, if you say the wrong thing, if you had a tweet once, everyone is, like, throwing the first stone. It’s so odd. It’s a perversion. It’s really, ‘Look how righteous I am and now I’m going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness.’”
Yes, Sarah! It’s EXACTLY like that. If only we could figure out what group started this awful political correctness that has turned on you, and caused you to lose a sweet job. Because then maybe we could see to it that people with the mindset that started this trend could be made to suffer the consequences.
BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!