Saturday, December 22, 2007

Touchy Muslims

Yet another example of Muslim legal intimidation -- from Italy this time -- and the London Times. A Turkish man was offended by a cross on the jerseys of a soccer team from Milan. He files a lawsuit and wants the game forfeited and money damages.

Get over it! This would be funny if it weren't part of a growing trend.

h/t: Roger Kimball

Free Mark Steyn!

Mark Steyn is one of my favorite -- if not my favorite political/cultural writer -- "columnist to the world" as Hugh Hewitt calls him. He is being hauled before some Orwellian creation called the Canadian Human Rights Commission by a bunch of militant or whiny Muslim namby-pambies because of articles he's written about radical Islamofascists and his book "America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. The book is a devastating and eye-opening look at the demographic time bomb awaiting Europe and its possible Islamicization through declining birth rates of Europeans and massive immigration and increasing birth rates of Muslims. He is no bomb thrower and is not one to spout or believe (from all that I've read of his writings) that all Muslims are bad, etc. But a group called the Canadian Islamic Congress apparently doesn't think so and so they have sued him and one his employers --- Maclean's Magazine in Canada before this "Human Rights" Commission.

There is a new blog out called Free Mark Steyn! to keep us all abreast of his travails and to protect free speech from these radical Islamic fear mongering identity politics playing fascists. PC qualifier -- of course most Muslims are not this way, but an awful lot of their Western mouthpieces seem to play this most dangerous game with minimal peeps out of moderate Muslims.

Is this the type of fascistic intimidation that is to come? Let's hope not. Free speech brings with it a lot of trouble no doubt -- but those troubles pale into comparison to the limitation of basic free speech rights related to political and religious opinions and ideas. Free Mark Steyn!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Death of the philistine

One of the books I'm currently reading is called From Dawn to Decadence 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life by Jacques Barzun. It is breathtaking in its scope and Barzun's writing crackles with wisdom, perspective and panache.

Anyway, I was "doing the elliptical" this morning and reading about WWI and the end of the Cubist period and the beginnings of Dada and the "Wasteland" period of the 1920s. He noted one unsung death of WWI -- the philistine. He writes that they "disappeared into the trenches" with everybody else in that war. He then writes four sentences that sum up much of post modern culture:
"By 1920 any [philistines] that survived had been miraculously transformed, not into aesthetes but into but into trimmers and cowards. To this new breed anything offered as art merited automatic respect and grave scrutiny. If a new work or style was not easy to like, if it was painful to behold, revolting, even, it was nonetheless 'interesting'. Half a century later unless the reviewer finds it 'unsettling,' 'disturbing,' 'cruel,' 'perverse,' it is written off as 'academic,' not merely uninteresting, but contemptible." p. 713 of the 2001 Perennial Ed.
This lack of seemingly any standard goes back to the war on the Truth underway in post modern society. The lowest common denominator is the gold standard today. It's not that there's anything "wrong" with pop music, rock music, etc. I grew up on MTV and my iPod is filled with The White Stripes, U2, Radiohead, etc. But I know the difference. The White Stripes are not Bach -- they're not John Coltrane either. They're great at what they do. Many (most?) either don't know or don't care about the difference between art and throwing stuff on a canvas or any of the other junk (sometimes quite literally) that passes for art. The lack of a standard cuts across a lot of different areas -- legal, cultural, educational, etc. I don't think this is a slight complaint either. I think it is a symptom of a serious sickness in our culture -- beginning with the loosening of standards begun in the 19th century that picked up a full head of steam in the 20th.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Nihilism of LA gang life

Here's a great piece from the LA Weekly on LA gangs and the nihilism that defines their existence.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Past is a Foreign Country

I love this article from Mark Steyn from Macleans on rudeness and lawlessness in modern society. He writes about the UK and Canada, but the same is obviously true here in the U.S. and in Southern California to be sure. I teach this idea every semester in my Criminal Law course: that illegal acts are illegal because they are wrong -- not wrong because they are illegal. Malum in se vs. malum prohibitum as they are called in common law. Obviously we criminalize some otherwise neutral behaviors -- curfews, speed laws, etc., but I would be worried if murder were removed from the Penal Code tomorrow. Some -- not even nearly most -- would see that as making murder OK. An extreme example to be sure, but not too far off the mark I fear. A handful can do quite a bit of damage.

It's distressing how many folks think that if the law allows it it must not be wrong -- as if the California legislature or Congress are the final arbiters of right and wrong. The word "wrong" is hardly even used it seems. Things are "mistaken" "accidental" or "incorrect".

Steyn rightly sees customs and traditions as the frontline of this coarsening of modern society. How to enforce that? One parent and one real man in public at a time I guess. A danger of course, is overkill, if people see the need to enforce these rules themselves and then take unreasonable and excessive action. It (meaning action -- not excessive -- who defines? -- reasonable people) might be necessary to protect the 96-year old men and pregnant women out in public.