Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser


I’m pretty sure the Ethics Alarms 2016 Jerk of the Year Award was locked up a while ago, but two new challengers for the title at least strengthen the field:

1. Daniel Goldstein, attorney

Goldstein, in the cabin of a JetBlue flight on which Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was also a passenger, verbally accosted the soon-to-be First Daughter before take-off. Holding a child in his arms, the New York lawyer started shouting, “Your father is ruining the country!” Then he asked, “Why is she on our flight? She should be flying private!”

Ivanka, who had her own kids in tow, tried to ignore him and attend to her family until he was removed from the flight by JetBlue personnel. “You’re kicking me off for expressing my opinion?” he yelled as he was led off the plane.

What a rude and obnoxious jerk.

Other observations:

  • Goldstein was traveling with husband Matt Lasner, a Hunter College professor who teaches housing and urban planning. Lasner is also an outspoken Trump critic, and demonstrated though his supportive tweeting during the episode that he approves of harassing public figures when they are just minding their own business and trying to be parents, consumers, shoppers, theater patrons and citizens.

Lasner also revealed that Goldstein’s harassment was premeditated by the tweet above, which I’ll re-publish here for empahasis:


  • Prof. Lasner also showed that he will attempt to airbrush history, tweeting about the incident later,


The tweet misrepresented the incident, as Goldstein was not “overheard,” nor did he, as the prof stated in another tweet, “express displeasure in a calm tone.” Then Lasner deleted the tweets, as in “Me sending tweets that show that I’m as big a jerk as my husband, and that I would lie to support a false narrative, thus indicating that I am untrustworthy as a teacher? I have no idea what you’re talking about!”

  • This episode is even closer to one of my analogies for the harassment of Mike Pence by the cast of “Hamilton” than this one was, where a pro-Trump jerk started gloating about Clinton’s loss to passengers on a Delta flight. That was distinguished by some of the “Hamilton” cast defenders on the grounds that he didn’t direct his harassment at a specific individual. Well, now we have a passenger singling out a Trump-connected passenger just like the Hamilton “gang,” as in “cast behaving as gang,” singled out Mike Pence. Closer still would have been if the flight attendants had publicly lectured Ivanka at the end of the flight.

At at least the professor recognized, in moment of tweeting candor, what this kind of conduct is, either in a theater audience or on a commercial plane: harassment.

  • Twitter has caused more intelligent, supposedly responsible people to publicly make asses of themselves in 2016 than ever before. It is obviously a vile creation of Satan that destroys ethics alarms.

On the good side, though, these Twitter revelations reveal to the rest of us what these people are really like when the alarms don’t ring.

  • Are Democrats ever going to wake up, review their atrocious conduct in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, and think, “Oh, my GOD! What were we thinking? I am so embarrassed!”?

2. Lena Dunham

Actress, writer, feminist Lena Dunham attempted to surpass her own record for shoving both feet into her mouth when she said last week, “I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”

This statement is so clearly wrong in so many ways, and so offensive to women on all ends of the abortion divide except fetus-killing fetishists, if there are such creatures, that I won’t waste space explicating why it caused a furor. Calibrating her popularity quotient and deciding it was time for a walk-back, Dunham today issued one of the most convoluted apologies ever, mixed in with Rationalization #54. The Joke Excuse, or “I was only kidding!”

Read it, if you can:

My latest podcast episode was meant to tell a multifaceted story about reproductive choice in America, to explain the many reasons women do or don’t choose to have children and what bodily autonomy really means. I’m so proud of the medley of voices in the episode. I truly hope a distasteful joke on my part won’t diminish the amazing work of all the women who participated. My words were spoken from a sort of “delusional girl” persona I often inhabit, a girl who careens between wisdom and ignorance (that’s what my TV show is too) and it didn’t translate. That’s my fault. I would never, ever intentionally trivialize the emotional and physical challenges of terminating a pregnancy. My only goal is to increase awareness and decrease stigma. I take reproductive choice in America more seriously than I take literally anything else, and therefore own full responsibility for any words I speak that don’t convey this truth clearly. I know plenty of people will never like a thing that leaves my lips, mea culpas or no, but this apology is for the women who have placed their trust in me. You mean everything to me. My life is and always will be devoted to reproductive justice and freedom. You know how in some households you curse and have to put money in a jar? Well in mine, if you mess up your pro-choice messaging you have to give a sizable donation to abortion funds ( in New York, Texas and Ohio. I look forward to fighting with you all for the next four years and beyond.


I. Oh, it was a joke? How could we have missed the humor?

Nothing about the statement, nor its context, resembled a joke.

Verdict: Lie.

2. “My words were spoken from a sort of “delusional girl” persona I often inhabit” is a version of the “it wasn’t me, it was a character I was speaking as for effect” excuse that comedians and performers often try when they make serious gaffes. The problem is that “I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had” sounded exactly like Lena Dunham, a crude, crass, narcissist.

3. “I would never, ever intentionally trivialize the emotional and physical challenges of terminating a pregnancy.” That’s odd: this is exactly what she did. If it wasn’t her, who was it? This edged into Pazuzu Excuse territory:

The Pazuzu Excuse: Pazuzu is the demon that possesses Regan, a 12-year-old girl, in the horror classic, “The Exorcist.” Reagan says horrible things when possessed, but of course, it isn’t really her talking. When public figures who have been recorded or videotaped saying hateful, bigoted, or otherwise offensive things claim that they “didn’t mean” what they said and that the sentiments “are antithetical to my real views,” they are refusing to be accountable for their own words by asserting that people just spontaneously, for example, denigrate Jews when they have never harbored an anti-Semitic thought in their lives. This absurd and cowardly excuse avoids accountability by suggesting  that someone, or something else, was speaking…like the demon Pazuzu.

4. I take reproductive choice in America more seriously than I take literally anything else.” Ah! So when you make jokes about abortion, they are only unfunny jokes. Got it!

Verdict: What an idiot.

5. “This apology is for the women who have placed their trust in me.” This may require a new entry on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale: The Limited Scope Apology: I’m only apologizing to the people I care about. Everyone else: I don’t care.


6. “You know how in some households you curse and have to put money in a jar? Well in mine, if you mess up your pro-choice messaging you have to give a sizable donation to abortion funds …” ANOTHER new bad apology variation: the apology bribe. “Here, I’m giving money to a good cause. Now you have to forgive me!”

75 thoughts on “Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser

      • Turning against the current of time is an interesting, and often fruitful, endeavor. But not without its many problems. One of them is that people going along in that current see themselves as ‘progressing’ and scratch their heads when they face someone ‘going backward’.

        Obviously, but self-consciously and not without at least a teensie bit of ironic humor, I deliberately turn against the current. To place oneself in opposition, I am finding, means to have to define a Guiding Myth (thinking of George Sorel here):

        “A myth cannot be refuted, since it is, at bottom, identical with the
        conviction of a group, being the expression of these convictions in
        the language of movement; and it is, in consequence, unanalyzable
        into parts which could be placed on the plane of historical

        Our Present, and an idea of same-sex marriage as an example, in all its absurdity, tumbling forward inelegantly while assuming it is ‘right’ and ‘correct’ and ‘good’, is not necessarily so.

        To be more topical to the issue of this blog post, I do notice that people (like Goldstein and his partner) feel justified and obligated to overtly oppose the people who they see as opposing them. The thing is that I feel I can see and understand *where they are coming from*. Because there are people — like me — who turn against the current and try to work out a way intellectually and even spiritually (also to say ‘metaphysically’) to discredit and in this sense to undermine the ‘myth’ they have hooked themselves up to. What those myths are can be discovered and known. And they can be opposed.

        People seem to say: “If you were just less committed to your ideas, if you would just relax them and not think in those categories, the rest of us could carry on with our ‘Love’! (which is always how they see themselves). To hold to a strong idea is thus to hold to something which shatters someone else’s life-plan, apparently. Radical social conservatism will indeed do that. And it is very unpopular. Therefor, I can see why they would make a fuss in the airport, in the NYTimes, in the comments section, and why they see it as a Dark Current of Reversal.

        • I wonder if for some people, change, any change, at its core represents the opposite of entropy and death; a means of delivering a blow towards that consuming force that claims us all. I wonder if that’s how many people see people who “cling” to tradition, whereas the rest merely see the value and necessity of sticking with what’s tried and true. The past few decades have given many of us a case of cultural whiplash. Maybe a slower pace is what’s called for.

          Okay, that’s my feeble attempt at jumping into your cerebral current.

          • I especially enjoy your terminology, “jumping into your cerebral current.” I’m going to try to remain brief (that is, what is brief for me, and for Alizia), but still hit a point or maybe two or more, without being too ethereal and vague.

            Joe, your mention of a “slower pace” triggered this. Given: (1) that a species can (or, does, or, is observed and judged to) evolve; and (2) that a species can be characterized as consisting of “subspecies” (with nothing pejorative at all intended about “adaptability” or “fitness to survive,” but merely intended to acknowledge diversity within one species); and (3) species can be endangered – even endanger themselves – as a result of conflicts between subspecies, and (4) the human species’ demonstrated ability to fulfill (3), I think that in the political realm, in regard to “spousal” relationships and their diversity, the human species is facing a conflict not only, not merely, between subspecies, but also between subspecies’ inherent and equal adaptability-plus-fitness-to-survive, and an “unnatural selection” imperative that some members of the species have introduced into the social fabric of the species.

            That imperative appears constructed with a purpose to “purify” or “upgrade” the species overall, by means of self-imposed “genocide” of one subspecies (or even, of only one population within one subspecies) in favor of another subspecies. The genocide need not be literal extinction, but merely an induced mass effect (via species internal social controls, hence my use of the term “unnatural selection”), such that the current “targeted” subspecies may eventually be judged to have been “purified” or “upgraded” in some way that is more socially acceptable to the favored subspecies, when in reality the induced mass effect goes only so far as to create the mere appearance of satisfying the original imperative (that, being a reflection of, again, the adaptability-plus-fitness-to-survive of that targeted subspecies). Thus what may be a dominant trait of the targeted subspecies becomes mistakenly observed as a recessive and even ephemeral trait. I don’t know; maybe here I have only succeeded in reiterating truisms that “All politics is local; all politics is ephemeral; politics is a buggering.”

            To close more bluntly: there are homophobes (and I am one of them) who cannot be “converted” to not being homophobic, any more than another person with a particular sexual drive cannot be “converted” such that they no longer have that drive. Moreover, I DO NOT WANT TO BE SUBJECT TO any efforts to “convert” me. Thus in my personal Golden Rule practice, I aim to behave toward diverse others as if they also do not want to be subject to efforts to “convert” them. Meanwhile, my anxiety about phobia about my phobia (that is not a typo – I intended there, to type a nested prepositional phrase, using “about” twice) keeps me on guard for, and wary of, members of my species who behave as if I am unfit to survive, thus I am (in their social constructs) a most worthy target of more literal genocide.

            • Homophobia is a belief system, and an irrational one at that. Comparing it to a genetic predisposition for homosexuality is ridiculous. If you feel that changing your irrational beliefs is just as hard as someone changing their sexual orientation, then you’re admitting you’re a stubborn, irrational person.

              Your suggestion that efforts to change irrational opinions amounts to a “genocide” is abhorrent and disgusting, not to mention incredibly whiny.

              • ‘Homophobia’ is a term invented by those desiring to shame. If it is a ‘belief system’ it is not that of those opposed to homosexuality. But rather those who support it or, importantly, desire it to become normalized. This upends your assertion to some degree.

                For good or for evil homosexuality in most cultures has been resisted and opposed. Tolerated sometimes, rarely encouraged.

                The ‘belief system’ that seeks to normalize it is, in all fairness, the new arrival. Hard to say what will become of this imposition of a belief system (ethics shift).

                Let’s hope that it is pushed back in the closet where it belongs. Present but not so visible. Not treated cruelly but not allowed to ‘advertise’ so to speak.

                • Yes, the term “homophobia” is intended to shame, just like you believe homosexuals should be shamed. The difference is that there is no logical reason to be ashamed of being gay, while there is a logical reason to be ashamed of hating gay people.

                  • Naturally, you have understood nothing of my position. But that is normal where there is a will to misunderstand. However, I fully understand your position, every bit of it, because I have studied it.

                    Possibly you have interpreted ‘going back to the closet’ to be shaming? It is not. Homosexuality is a part of things, has been and always will be. I could as well understand a gay liberation movement to at least get to a point where people oriented that way can live normally.

                    What I oppose is what has actually occurred: It is the marketing effort to establish homosexual lifestyle as normalcy. Or homosexuality when it becomes a political movement, allied with feminism as a rebellion movement, or Black liberation. I am also opposed to the ‘marketing of homosexuality’. The teaching of it as a valid option. The presentation of it as if it is on a par with the male-female relationship. When psychologists who are gay or pro-gay study people’s psychology and come up with ways to break down the natural resistance to homosexuality and collusion between government, media and social scientists to create their vision of ‘ideal society’. I could go on of course and none of this will get through to you. I understand and accept it.

                    What is more interesting (under such circumstances) is to try to get behind the predicates that make you think what you think. To trace the change and the shift. To see how a certain set of values, which tie together, are altered over time. And what is even more important to notice how the battle lines come into focus and how the tenets of a culture war start to take shape as social conflict.

                    While you seem interested in developing something akin to the Social Justice Warrior position, I am interested in developing the position of the radical who turns against the entire freak-show-one-wheels. You perhaps see yourself like a social activist like Alinsky. Whereas I am looking at people like Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. Again, I fully understand your position. You have no way to understand mine.

                    • Your position, as you just described it, is this:

                      –Gay people aren’t normal
                      –Gay relationships are not on par with straight ones
                      –Homosexuality should not be taught as “a valid option”

                      And yet

                      –Gay people should not be “shamed.”

                      Your position is an irrational, self-contradictory sack of shit. Don’t you dare pretend to have come to it more rationally than I have come to mine.

                    • Chris write: “Your position is an irrational, self-contradictory sack of shit. Don’t pretend to have come to it more rationally than I have come to mine.”

                      I understand what you say, and I think I have insight into why you say it: it is the outcome of a hyper-liberal docrine. What I believe that you do not see, and cannot understand, is that your ideology exists in, and takes place in, and is ‘agreed upon’ in a specific environment of thought. That is in your case ‘Sixties Hyper Liberalism’ and a liberalism that look off into extreme forms in the postwar era.

                      The only thing that I can do, and the only thing that really interests me about this Blog and my participation in it (or I should say the man thing), is to better understand an ethical system as it functions in its setting, according to its rules. The ethics discussed here are not ‘universal ethics’, and your ethics are not universal ethics (that there is a universal ethics is a difficult claim to make, in fact a false-claim). Your ethics, and the decisions that you make through your ideological impositions, only functions within your system, the system of Americanism.

                      I could say, for example, that I oppose this specific evidence of your liberalism and, as I have, I could express a different ethical base with which I could express to you a different ethical choice that is possible in relation to yours. I have done this to some extent. But even that is not what ultimately concerns me.

                      What I hope that you will understand is that a battle is brewing and it is a serious one, such that you have only gotten a small taste of what is to come. Your brand of hyper-liberalism and your near-religious defense of it and yourself as messenger and activist of Righteousness, and your insistance not to accept a significant gain as the Gays have achieved, but to want to extend all your gains and to blot out a deeply foundational and pre-liberal understanding of the value and importance of marriage, the male-female union, and other foundations of traditional culture, must be brought to a stop. What you do not understand is the connection between your ethics and hyper-liberal values and a larger structure of liberalism and hyper-liberalism which functions throughout *your culture*. Your American assumptions, your ever-extending wars of *liberation*, your ideas of economic liberalism, the disease-like extension of these value-impositions into cultures that you must *modernize* to your standards, is now being resisted rationally and self-consciously.

                      I refer to a larger world, a world of which you are anaware and unconcerned. It is a world of resistance to your brand of Hyper-Liberalism, which you have no way of really seeing, because you cannot turn round to look at YOURSELF. You are so sure of your ideas, so certain that you know the truth, and so self-absorbed in your self-understanding that, I suggest to you, you overstep proper bounds. I do not so much mean ‘proper’ as I mean bounds that will be accepted. You are given an inch, a foot, a yard, and you want to extend your *values* by miles and miles. You wish to dominate and control.

                      I wanted to provide what is, in a sense, an example of *opposition*. Dugin is new to me and somewhat strange. But he represents a very good example of an *opposition* to American Hyper-Liberalism and a reactionary note which is developing outside of America. Are you aware that there is a larger world outside of America and its value-sytem? Are you aware that *you* do not control and do not decide all the ethics and values of the whole world? Are you aware that it is *possible* to oppose your spurious, and oftentimes destructive, assertion of your own values? What I wish to suggest, and what I have attempted, is just to demonstrate, to alert to, the existence of other modes of thinking and other modes of valuation.

                      Since it has come up recently (all this stuff about Russia influencing the election of Trump) I thought this interesting discourse by Alexandr Dugin would be germane. While I do not know if I accept his analysis (in other talks he reveals a strange epistemology) I think this should be placed here to get a better sense of what is brewing, internationall and to a small extend domestically, but yet will become much more visible and determinant in coming years.

              • Your OPINION is that it’s irrational.It’s also just another of a series of attempts by progressives to give any behavior or belief that they don’t approve of a name with a negative connotation. This is how they attempt to control people, because they’re control freaks.So if your opinion is that homosexuality isn’t right, natural, and good (maybe even preferable to heterosexuality), or maybe you have no problem with gay people at all, but are concerned by what seem to be frantic efforts to override parental authority in the teaching of human sexuality, or even if you’re indifferent to the whole thing, but just couldn’t imagine ever trying it or being turned on by the sight of gay sex, you’re a homophobe. If you don’t use words like Xir or zyr, you’re a trans-phobe. If you think that islam is a dangerous ideology that brainwashes its young and is behind over 30,000 terror attacks since 9/11, and that maybe we should try to come up with alternatives to just let the Syrian refugees in by the thousands absent a carefully worked out plan for vetting them, you’re an Islamophobe who doesn’t care for the weak and needy. I’m a claustrophobe. It’s not a system of beliefs, but a fear of enclosed spaces, particularly being buried alive. I doubt many people live in fear of homosexuals, unless you have a roommate who has musicals on every day. Nobody’s afraid of Islam, either. It’s the bullets and explosions that make people jumpy. Nothing to be concerned with, though; this, and other silly permutations of language are falling out of favor and losing their power, like “hate-speech”, “micro-aggressions”, and the beaten-to-death accusation of “racism”

      • If one is the husband, does that mean one is possibly the wife in this arrangement? How do they make the distinction? Wait, I don’t want to know. I’m just going to assume that they’re both the husband.

          • Knowing many same sex couples, I have heard male spouses refer to the other as both husband and wife (not the same couples.) I have not personally heard a female spouse call a female spouse “husband.”

            Jeez, if anybody’s not seen “The Bird Cage,” I highly recommend it.

            • Even the couple I know where one woman wore a tux and the other wore a dress to the wedding call each other “my wife.”

              PS: Some same sex couples of both genders have a large gap in masculine and feminine traits in the couple; some do not. It is rude and offensive among those that don’t have much of a gap to ask “who’s the man” or “who’s the woman” in the relationship. They’ve heard it many times, and resent the stereotype that they should fit into too.

          • I have found the solution! I do this in the Christmas spirit of course.

            (This is from the Free Dictionary by Farlex (App). It’s really good. A great App for the phone).

            Word History: The English word husband, even though it is a basic kinship term, is not a native English word. It comes ultimately from the Old Norse word hūsbōndi, meaning “master of a house,” which was borrowed into Old English as hūsbōnda. The second element in hūsbōndi, bōndi, means “a man who has land and stock” and comes from the Old Norse verb būa, meaning “to live, dwell, have a household.” The master of the house was usually a spouse as well, of course, and it would seem that the main modern sense of husband arises from this overlap. When the Norsemen settled in Anglo-Saxon England, they would often take Anglo-Saxon women as their wives; it was then natural to refer to the husband using the Norse word for the concept, and to refer to the wife with her Anglo-Saxon (Old English) designation, wīf, “woman, wife” (Modern English wife). Interestingly, Old English did have a feminine word related to Old Norse hūsbōndi that meant “mistress of a house,” namely, hūsbonde. Had this word survived into Modern English, it would have sounded identical to husband—surely leading to ambiguities.


            In a sense I think the root of this word offers a way to conceive of same-sex couples: ‘to live and dwell (together); to have a household’.

            I remember a scene from the movie ‘American Beauty’ when the gay couple comes to the door of the military new neighbor with a basket of gifts. One of them introduces himself and says ‘And this is my partner …’ The marine acts suspicious, like they are business partners! ‘What are you selling?’ I watched the movie for the first time about a year ago, except I watched it as a ‘cultural text’ and read it backwards. There you have the gay agenda at work! The only normal people in the entire film are the gay couple! They are happy, kind, smiling, friendly, well-adjusted. Everyone else is on the verge of psychological collapse. I reasearched the man who wrote the screenplay and it was more or less his personal story. The angry sadistic marine, his father.

            In my (retrograde) view it should be out of respect that the union of a man and a woman is in a special category. It is the only relationship that generates humanity. It is just bad form to allow imitations. But I can say this, and at least understand what I mean and what value I am representing and defending, while at the same time understanding that many others do not understand, and do not want to understand, and disagree with, and oppose, the value which I hold in special regard. Such are the times we live in.

            I notice that Beth has a selected post which (at least to appearances) seeks to bridge divides for the Holidays. But these divides cannot be bridged. They are not meant to be bridged. They should not be bridged. They have to go to their final points. We are just seeing preludes. As I have said not a few times: all these struggles have been previously outlined in early 20th century Europe (a fact I assume those older than me already know quite well). . To understand the battles we face now, again, which are now coming out of the woodwork, or seeping up out of the ground, or rising up in psychology, a whole block of history has to be grasped. What a daunting task!

            • “In my (retrograde) view it should be out of respect that the union of a man and a woman is in a special category. It is the only relationship that generates humanity. It is just bad form to allow imitations”

              My girlfriend cannot have children. When we get married, we will not be able to “generate humanity.” Will our marriage be an “imitation?”

              My great-grandmother married a man when she was 90 years old. They were not able to “generate humanity.” Was their marriage an imitation?

              My step-sister and her husband have chosen to never have children. They will not “generate humanity.” Is their marriage an “imitation?”

              If your answer to each of these questions is “no,” can you see why our culture and the courts have decided that the “generating humanity” argument of the anti-SSM crowd is absolute horseshit, and is in fact a pretext for discriminating against same-sex couples?

              • You are arguing past her.

                Your rebuttals would work if she’d said the traditional argument of “the purpose of marriage is to produce children”. But she didn’t actually assert that this time.

                It would be easier to see if you work her assertion in reverse. Essentially: the only thing that generates humanity is a union of the male and female. And as far as I can tell, that is an accurate statement. Because any clinical rebuttal would still ultimately end up with “genetic material from a male combining with genetic material from a female”.

                Unless of course science and bio-engineering has gotten past that.

                Then she goes on with her analysis, again, reworded: “because of this, I think male and female relationships deserve special status”. In which case she assumes that non-producing male and female relationships still count as male and female relationships.

                That being said, her assertion is still able to be rebutted…I just think yours is a weak form.

              • That is a rather silly argument. You only need start from the real fact: only a man-woman relationship generates humankind. Just stick with that core idea and the rest will fall into place.

                It is a substantial truth and it is one that has applied and been understood as such for all time. Except within a small sliver of present time. The reasons why this has come about can be looked into. It is neither necessary or sustainable.

                I try to read behind the lines of what you write (unfortunately in English with the drop of the you-singular (thee) one is left with a ‘you’ that if you want it to be plural and general you have to say ‘you-plural’, but this is the ‘you’ I use). I am interested in the patterns of ideas and the patterns of idea-sentiments that stand behind and motivate our beliefs. While I am uncertain if you are aware of your own determining predicates, because you would likely feel no compelling need to look into them, I have determined that in relation to this blog, and the discipline of ethics, that this is the only way possible to understand how it is and why it is that we have different ethics and why we so profoundly differ.

                Ethics is then a system of agreements and, at least in many particulars, does not stand on a very solid ground. For example, Jack’s view (which I respect) is that we are evolving in certain directions and he describes acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage and such to be evidence of a progress in ethics. There is no factual foundation to this assertion that I have been able to find. It’s a choice essentially.

                I find that our ethics, and perhaps all of our beliefs, are founded on myth-structures. That is, a group of ideas or notions or senses about ‘what is right’ and what seems part of a ‘natural order’, cosmically or terrestrially. In your case, you have to have some structure of belief that determines that you will see any relationship as *the same as* or *comparable to* that of the primary human-creating man-woman relationship. Or that you do not see the man-woman relationship as particularly special or even important. You have to see the natural order of things as allowing that, determining that. If you didn’t you would of course turn against some sort of inner, driving predicate, and that would lead to dissonances. So, your view must surely be honest. (One can be, as I am sure you’d agree! honestly in error…)

                What I see, and what I say, is that symbolically a homosexual union even though it might be beautiful and good and productive in many ways cannot function symbolically in the same way. Yet I am pretty sure that you would have a hard time understanding what I mean. It is unquestionably a religiously-derived idea and one of former times, times passing away (at least for now).

                But a man and woman, and a family that is generated out of that relationship, is deeply symbolic (on one hand) and its meaning comes out of that symbolism. It appears manifest visibly in paintings and poetry and such.

                “Marveling I look upon you; I hear voices and sweet song
                As from an ancient time, and the music of strings;
                Brightly now my spirit wings
                Spheres.” [Holderlin]

                Literally unthinkable thoughts since symbolism and a feeling for *higher dimensions* has come crashing down into a brutal, leveled market-world.

                Yet you appear such a *modern* product that certain ideas cannot even appear to your mind’s eye. See, I would say that the shift away from this particular symbolic valuation will eventually lead to many different levels of destruction, even the destruction of culture or a nation. You hear such a statement and it can only be understood as lunacy. That describes the gap that separates us. And just as I might say that you destroy, advertently or inadvertently, the symbolical order which I value, and which is the base of culture; you say exactly the same thing about me (or us): we seek to destroy value and beauty. For you that is ‘discrimination’.

                It is not only some *symbolical* and thus metaphysical entity or concept though that I am defending. The ‘higher aspect of things can be expressed symbolically and poetically and metaphysically but there is also the issue of the manifest material plane. And again, I would not deny that you have a *higher, imagined world* that motivates you in the here-below. But what interests me more is that our views will not ever coincide and you are, in fact, my enemy. That is a very hard idea to take in and internalize as truth I am finding. But I know, again, that you very much feel the same way. All the moral fury, all the shaming, all the overtowering certainty that your position is the right one and even that you know the truth!

                Asserting and fighting for minor values you (I mean this like you-plural, to a general *you*) seem to destroy the approaches to greater values.

                Higher orders of values are conceived in the higher orders of the mind and spirit.

                I know, it makes no sense …

            • Who are you talking to, Joe? You’ve referred to someone being “offended” and someone “sniveling,” but I don’t see either of those as accurate descriptions of anyone’s behavior here. Be specific about what you mean.

            • Ok, I think I know who you’re talking about now; lucky, who said that homophobes are the victims of “genocide” by those trying to change their opinions. Yes, I agree, that is sniveling.

      • [Reply to Jack’s Dec 22 at 7:16 pm]
        Also heeeere (also never going away): Institutional re-definition defiance – like for example, my defiance of referring to Donald Trump – a Democrat, albeit elected as a candidate of the Republican party – as a Republican. Such defiance is actually rational, in contrast to “not my president” denial.

    • [Reply to Alizia’s Dec 22 at 5:47 pm]
      Yeah, I had a similar, momentary “disconnect” while reading Jack’s post. But, I quickly figured it out. The first place I heard the new use of the old spousal terminology was while watching an episode of ABC’s “Modern Family.” I’ll have a little more to say in reply to Jack’s Dec 22 at 7:16 pm…

      • Are you serious? Modern Family, a show that has only been on the air for about seven years, was the first time you heard a gay male couple refer to each other as “husbands?”

        And they say liberals live in a bubble.

  1. Another year of bitter disappointment. I feel some of my posts certainly make me deserved some consideration for Jerk of the Year. I’ll try hard this coming year.

  2. I keep waiting for Lena, or Seth Meyers, or Colbert to apologize for not being funny. Actual comedians like Bill Burr, Seth McFarland or Louis C.K deserve an apology from those who claim to be funny, and frequently make use of the “comics-pass”, when they say something stupid. When Louis C.K. says something stupid, it’s STILL funny. The deal is-you can get away with almost anything, if it’s funny, NOT-you can get away with almost anything because you claim you’re funny.

    • Maybe you just have a different sense of humor? Colbert and Meyers are hilarious, Colbert especially. Girls is kind of funny in a train wreck way, though I admit I haven’t found Lena’s public statements or “persona” funny at all.

        • They are all talented, but Maher is always angry, and he’s such a smug bastard, not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. He’s as much of a misogynist as Trump, maybe worse, and one of the worst race-baiters—and he’s a coward, never putting more than one conservative at a time on his show, always making it clear, with his hooting sycophantic mob-crowd, that that any Republican is one stray word from a lynch mob. I dare him to have James Taranto on, or better yet, Rush, Marc Levin, or Laura Ingraham. If he does have a genuine conservative wit, like P.J O’Roarke, he buries him with so many liberals that he can’t get a word in edgewise.

          I can’t watch the guy. Smug is unwatchable.

          • I have to agree with Jack on Maher. I’ve never seen him be funny on anything. I’ve laughed at Colbert and Meyers jokes even when I’ve disagreed with the premise of the joke (though 9 times out of 10 I agree with them).

          • Maher and the rest are also evasive / uncountable. He’ll spout on and on, making endless political commentary, but the moment he’s caught in any way, he uses the “comedian” dodge. Whether it’s caught in hypocrisy, logical fallacies, inaccuracies, or offensive conduct, he uses the same dodge.

            I have an acquaintance who likes the jerk. When he chimes in on anything Maher says I’ll comment “You get your unbiased news from Maher, I get mine from Marc Levin.”

  3. Lena Dunham seems to be making a career out of being a jerk: For one, she slandered a man at Oberlin who was falsely identified as having sexually assaulted her leaving clues in the pseudonym she used to identify him in her trashy book. She then followed it up with a non-apology apology claiming that she regretted any confusion she created. I second your nomination.

  4. I actually do have a few questions about Trump’s daughter traveling:
    1) On JetBlue
    2) In what I’ve always called ‘tourist class’
    3) Her Secret Service detail (I assume she has one. If not, why not?) Where were they?

    • The SS detail was evidently a few rows back and the incident resolved itself without their either knowing about it or their being involved. So says The Daily Mail article. I forget which. You’re right, dd, it’s kind of strange she’s flying with the proletariat. But maybe that’s a good thing? Good for her kids? Maybe it says something good about the Trump family?

  5. The left seems to be perfectly ok with raising jerkiness to a profession – I decline to call it an art form. I’ll be the first to admit sometimes I don’t use my brain and turn to vicious attacks. Jack was absolutely right that I am not helping myself in my lucid moments when I do that, and, in all fairness, he isn’t the first. Actually a judge here in NJ has seen both sides of me, and said to me once, in a rare ex parte discussion (as part of a “breakout” settlement conference) that “there are two of you, apparently, the thinking Steve and the angry Steve. I would request that only the thinking Steve appear here.” I’d also say that some other people here aren’t helping themselves with the same approach, BUT, that’s for Jack to say more about.

    There are plenty of scholars and pundits on both sides politically, and they are of varying quality, from the very erudite to the not much more than trash talkers. Most of us, when we are in our thinking mode, can tell the one from the other, and would place more value on Victor Davis Hanson’s perhaps overly sonorous pronouncements than on Michelle Malkin’s near-rants, and more value on Alan Dershowitz’s legal analysis than on Jonathan Alterman’s self-important poking.

    What there aren’t, I am sorry to say, are a whole lot of good conservative entertainers. That’s fine with general entertainment, I can enjoy someone’s acting or singing or whatever without really giving a damn about who they voted for or what they do with their money. What’s a problem is when people like Bill Maher or Sarah Silverman or a few others that Jack has names try to make political statements into entertainment, often mixed in with an overly generous helping of profanity and insults, and expect this entertainment to be actually taken as serious political thought. It certainly isn’t serious political thought to a thinking person, it’s often not as entertaining as they think it is, BUT it encourages the less thinking viewer to engage in the same sloppy or underdeveloped thinking and to substitute mockery and insult for actual engagement with other thoughts. Often it encourages open hatred and contempt for the other side politically, and there are a few pundits (I’m looking at you, Dan Savage), who make their points using the same kind of shtick, further blurring the line.

    If someone feeds himself a steady diet of this often hateful infotainment (and even that’s probably too generous a term, since infotainment also refers to cold case shows, etc.), it should come as no surprise that, confronted with the very object of the hatred of his favorite late-night comedian or columnist, a member of the very family he’s been hearing is evil, vile, villainous, racist, hateful, xenophobic, etc., he’s going to take his chance to spew the same rhetoric he’s been swallowing for a year and a half at them, maybe shoot a video that will go viral, run up the score with worthless “likes” and go to bed feeling like he somehow made the world a better place by “speaking truth to power” or some other nonsensical phrase.

    This is exactly what happened here, I think, and to think that the men involved were a lawyer and a college professor disgusts me. Those in either of those professions can and should do better than that. Jack wrote at some length and with some substance that Trump was going to make the US into a nation of assholes, but, so far, more than half the assholery that’s followed this election has come from the other side, and this is a pretty gross example of public assholery.

    I think a lot of what I just wrote is a different path to the nation of assholes than that which Jack wrote about, BUT, since most of us had our eyes on Trump (and let’s be fair, he was VERY hard to look away from), we didn’t pay as much attention to this one.

    We’re already starting 2017 off with a generous portion of assholery as all the entertainment industry seeks to freeze the incoming President out and fans attack a blind man and a 16-year-old girl for daring to sing at his inauguration, while columnists and a few bitter politicians turn up the rhetoric not just of loyal opposition, but of hatred and defiance. This harassment is just one part of that generous portion, and it’s looking more and more like this is going to be a very long four years.

    As for Lena Dunham, this is just the next step in a long string of ridiculous and outrageous things that no thinking person should take seriously – voting for Obama is like having sex with the right guy, voting is like a party to wear a little black dress to, her molestation of her sister, etc., etc. Lena is definitely someone who could benefit from some kind of psych treatment, but you can’t help someone who doesn’t think she needs help.

    • I still have hope that they will snap into reality, realize that their position on the Pence ambush is pure bias, and indefensible, as my theater colleagues, especially the good friend who hung up on me after screaming despite making three of the worst excuses for the Hamilton cast I had heard, realize their purely partisan view violated everything they knew and stood for as performers.

      Really: it was a disgraceful episode, unethical beyond defense, and all the defenders should be ashamed of themselves. I have continued to ask anyone, anywhere, to give me a single example in modern theater history where any professional cast has done something equivalent. Nothing. This is the “Trump justifies the suspension of all principles and professional ethics, values and the Golden Rule because he’s EVIL!!!EEEEEEEVIIIIL!!!

      Both unethical and stupid.

      I’m still kind of pissed of about it, frankly.

        • It’s the holiday season. Discussions will slow down.

          But rest assured, we’ll learn rapidly what spin there is, and how it breaks down the knee-jerks into clusters of:

          A) “Hamilton is substantively different, the airplane episode was wrong was Hamilton is still completely justifiable.”

          B) “Hamilton IS substantively different, but the airplane episode is completely fair anyway”.

          C) “Hamilton and the Airplane incident are the same in essence and totally cool”

          I have a sneaky suspicion that most of the knee-jerks will fall into category A, but an uncomfortable number will fall into category B.

          I can’t wait to see if any stoop to category C.

  6. 1. Lena Dunham is a horrible human being.
    2. While she is a horrible human being, she is not horrible for this. This was part of a lengthier quote from her podcast, which was taken out of context to spice up a slow news week. What Lena was trying to say, and she flubbed, was that she didn’t think there should be a stigma associated with abortion. Go listen to the whole thing, if you can stomach her.

    • Like I said, she is a candidate for psychotherapy. Same with Sarah Silverman and all those other folks who make a profession out of being rude, offensive, and transgressive.

      Should there be a stigma? Like anything else, it depends on the totality of the circumstances. I do not look down on a woman who has to choose between aborting or suffering an otherwise fatal or debilitating illness. I can easily see abortion of a rape conception, with the sad understanding it does not undo the evil the child’s father did. Still, the victim of a crime should not be saddled with additional permanent consequences.

      I dislike the idea of procured abortion as a matter of convenience. It reflects irresponsibility, lack of restraint, and a low opinion of life. None of these are good qualities, and none speak to being intelligent or wise. We are supposed to be better than animals, and supposed to be better than the slaves of our passions and impulses. We’re supposed to grasp the concept of actions having consequences and the concept of some risks being necessary while others aren’t. Those qualities should carry a stigma.

  7. This Lena situation has got me to thinking about the path I took to get to some of my positions… It’s been a ride, I’ve probably at one time or another been on all sides of the debate for any given issue, and developed my views as I’ve been exposed to more information.

    This might SOUND like how people develop opinions, but now more than any other time in my memory (which admittedly isn’t exactly historic) people seem to be in this perpetual stage of arrested development, where party line is more important than principles. Do you care about corruption for instance? If you do, you should be grilling Trump right now. But If you do and you’re grilling Trump, but you thought the Clinton Foundation was a legitimate charity, you might want to reevaluate your standing, is corruption a value of yours, or is partyism?

    Tangential! Regardless, the reason Lena reminds me of my process is that she embodies one of the boogeymen that I slowly convinced myself weren’t real: The excited abortionist.

    Abortion was a topic that I was never really on the pro- side of the debate for… But I’ve calmed down a lot (believe it or not), and one of the ways that I justified my more authoritarian of positions was the perception that there were women getting abortions for kicks, or using it as a form of birth control. I don’t know where that came from, maybe it was the rhetoric of people even more extreme that I was, maybe it was the misinterpretation of activists trying to get some buzz, or maybe I met an earlier incarnation of Lena Dunham…. Someone so odious as to give proof for every bad stereotype about her associations.

    The beautiful golden lining about this is that almost no one is defending her on this. It genuinely warms my heart to know that even abortion activists recognise this as bullshit. That there IS, in fact, a bridge too far. It also acts as a test: If you actually come across someone who defends Lena on this issue, you’ve probably met a bad person.

    • “that there were women getting abortions for kicks, or using it as a form of birth control. “

      I don’t think a lot of the anti-abortion crowd really make that argument or have made that argument with any frequency. I have seen them make the argument that a lot of abortions are for life-convenience and then they make the hyperbolic comparison that to devalue life that much for your own comfort and convenience is as frivolous as “getting abortions for kicks”.

      • not “getting abortions for kicks” as much as “too lazy to prevent a situation” and then needing (in their minds) to kill the resultant life when they got caught.

        Pregnancy is, for the most part, controllable (spare me all your exceptions: I refer to the 95% plus majority) if one has control in one’s life.

        And there lies the root problem.

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