“McCarthy And Witch Hunts And Fear, Oh My!” PART I: Director James Gunn

I don’t care to live in a culture where law-abiding citizens can have their reputations and careers destroyed by people maliciously publicizing old or private communications to make them hated or distrusted, or worse, a culture where doing this to people is deemed virtuous. Such a culture is one based on perpetual fear, where individuals cannot express an opinion that they may change later, or make a joke to a select audience, or have a conversation expressing strong but spontaneous and transient feelings without risking personal destruction at the hands of someone who wishes them ill.

That is the U.S. culture, however, that extremists on both ends of the political spectrum are successfully constructing,  unles we stop them. Their tools are political correctness, invasions of privacy, abuse of technology, social media and its attendant mobs, and an utter disregard of fairness, decency and ethics.

Two recent example illustrate how serious the problem is. This post is about one of them.

Talented writer-director James Gunn, the creative force behind the  delightful  Guardians of the Galaxy movies was fired by Disney after his old tweets containing offensive jokes were uncovered and circulated on social media and the web. The tweets were deliberately sought by conservative blogger and activist Mike Cernovich,  to intentionally wreck Gunn’s career. Gunn’s real offense was that he has been a vocal “resistance” recruit and a prominent conservative-hater, so once Cernovich had the goods on him, the Right was happy to use them.

No doubt, Gunn’s old tweets included jokes that many would consider worthy of Roseanne Barr on a careless day, like

  • “Laughter is the best medicine. That’s why I laugh at people with AIDS.”
  • “I like when little boys touch me in my silly place.”
  • “The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!’”

Gunn, realizing that joking about pederasty, rape and AIDS was sufficient to get him Kevin Spaceyed for life, tried to explain:

Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor. It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over. In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it. Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.

I believe him. I believe him, though something nasty in me would love to know if he was telling friends that the Milwaukee Brewers should punish Josh Hader for the racist tweets he made in high school, because this whole phenomenon is a Golden Rule matter. That has been the Ethics Alarms position forever, including during the 2014 Donald Sterling Ethics Train Wreck, in which an NBA owner lost his team, millions in fines, and his reputation after his mistress taped an ugly conversation they had in his bedroom and circulated it. I reiterated this position most recently in May of this year:

The position of Ethics Alarms on these incidents, which also includes spurned lovers sharing private emails to the world in order to humiliate a correspondent, the Democratic Senators who leaked the President’s coarse rhetoric about “shithole” countries that took place during a meeting that was supposed to be private and confidential, and Donald Trump’s infamous “pussy-grabbing” statements, is simple. Once the embarrassing words are unethically made public, they can’t be ignored, Once the embarrassing words have unethically made public, they can’t be ignored. Neither should the circumstances of their making, or the unethical nature of their subsequent use was weapons of personal destruction.

There is not a human being alive who has not made statements in private meetings or conversations, whether  those statements be jokes, insults, rueful observations or deliberate hyperbole, that would be horribly inappropriate as public utterances. Thus the feigned horror at such statements by others is the rankest kind of Golden Rule hypocrisy. In addition, the opprobrium and public disgrace brought down on the heads of those whose mean/ugly/politically incorrect/vulgar/ nasty/insulting words are made public by a treacherous friend, associate or colleague erodes every American’s freedom of thought, association and expression, as well as their privacy.

And yes, to anticipate the objection, I do not regard social media posts by non-public persons who later become celebrities to be truly public communications. They are, in the minds of the foolish individuals who send them, personal messages aimed at friendly audiences, and not intended for public circulation. In reaching this position I am influenced by the legal ethics and judicial rule regarding what is public knowledge regarding a former client that can be used by a lawyer . Simply because information is included in a public document that anyone can access doesn’t mean it is considered public enough for a lawyer to reveal it if the information involves a client. Most people don’t know about those facts because they don’t know how to find them, where to look, or whether the information even exists. Information doesn’t become truly public until it is widely accessible and disseminated. Once Gunn (and Hader) became celebrities, their social media presence was public, but not before. True, both Gunn and Hader should have realized that what they posted when they were nobody special had suddenly become a matter of public interest, and true, people need to start thinking that way, but most of our newly famous just don’t.

Becoming famous doesn’t make you smart.

It was wrong for Cernovich and others to go looking for old tweets to destroy Gunn (Hint: it is unethical to go looking for ways to destroy anyone) and wrong for conservative publications like The Daily Caller to use them. The conservatives are using the rationalizations  “Tit for tat” and Sicilian Ethics (“They had it coming”),   to excuse their miserable conduct, as in this comment on Twitchy:

“Of course, the Left is going to defend fellow traveler Gunn. But among all the outrage, could we please remember the time Sens. Patrick Leahy and Al Franken grilled Justice Don Willett over his old, out-of-context tweets? They wanted to keep him off the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over these?”

Never let it be said that conservatives are any better at ethical analysis than liberals, for this is pathetic, even for a rationalization.  Willett, a judge, posted such un-judicial tweeted comments as “I could support recognizing a constitutional right to marry bacon” in a discussion of the rights of gays to marry. ” It was absolutely relevant to his fitness as a judge that he would make such a tweet; I don’t think wise and prudent judges should use Twitter at all. That crack, for example, undermines the dignity and credibility of the judiciary. In contrast, what do bad jokes have to do with a film director’s skill or talent? Not a thing.

Unfortunately, we cannot condemn Disney for acting once Cernovich’s hit job on Gunn was complete. The Cognitive Dissonance Scale

…had taken over. The Guardian of the Galaxy movies were a +10 on the scale, and thus Gunn, attached to that franchise, was a 10 as well. But now trivializing rape and Aids, plus endorsing pederasty, had been linked to Gunn, and all of those views are deep, deep in negative territory. Disney knew they would drag Gunn down the scale, and as long as he remained with the films, the franchise and Disney would be dragged down with him. Disney had to fire Gunn.

And that’s exactly what The Daily Caller, Cernovich and others taking part in this hit job wanted.

What happened to James Gunn is modern McCarthyism in action. In those bad old days of national panic over the rise of Communism, an anonymous letter to a company showing that an executive had once expressed an interest in Marxism was often sufficient to get him fired. The process was forever linked to to the term “witch hunt” after Arthur Miller’s metaphorical drama “The Crucible” compared 17th Century Salem, where someone could destroy neighbors by accusing them of being witches, to Red-fearing America. During the Obama era, progressives embraced the Salem and McCarthy technique, using “racist,” “sexist,” “xenophobe” and “homophobic” as the new “Commie!’ accusations, and added expansive definitions of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment to their weaponry as well. (It is well to remember that there have been some genuine racists, misogynists, rapists, harassers, and homophobes, etc. exposed too, just as there were–and are— real Communists.)

If anything, this destructive tactic is becoming more pervasive, as conservatives, late to the game, now have decided to “enforce the new rules” the Left has forged against prominent progressives. How do we stop it? Again quoting that May post:

This is punishing people for what they think, or rather what people choose to think they think. This is how freedom dies, as free expression of opinions is replaced by fear. How is this process, where a trusted associate runs to the news media to destroy you with your own words, different from Soviet children informing on their own parents for disloyal sentiments in the kitchen? It isn’t.

The only way I can see to end all of this is for the same public consensus to develop that ultimately ended Joe McCarthy’s reign of terror, but to have it focused on the likes of Cernovich, the race-baiters,  and the political correctness mobs on social media. They are they real villains. They are the ones creating fear and division. They are the ones defying the Golden Rule, and who have “no sense of decency” at all.

 

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49 responses to ““McCarthy And Witch Hunts And Fear, Oh My!” PART I: Director James Gunn

  1. “It takes a big man to cry. It takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.”
    – Jack Handey

  2. valkygrrl

    You typoed Twitter in the paragraph starting with ‘Never let it be said that conservatives are any better at ethical analysis than liberals’

    Side note, when you mentioned McCarthy I thought you were going to talk about uncovering Russian infiltration in the highest levels of government.

    I don’t know why I would think something like that. Anyway if you need me, I’ll just be over here watching The Sound of Music.

    *sings* How do you solve a problem like Maria…..

  3. Inquiring Mind

    The problem was conservatives appealed on the basis of decency and it was ignored.

    Appeals to decency having failed, some conservatives now seek to establish deterrence through mutually assured destruction. For most, it is done with regret, but they have come to believe that unilateral disarmament is tantamount to suicide.

    That said, James Gunn, not 48 hours before he got fired, was among those who bullied Mark Dupress for suggesting people follow Ben Shapiro. He lived by being a bully and a McCarthyite – and he goes down by that.

    • Two wrongs don’t make a right. Still as valid an ethical principle as there ever was.

      • Sure it’s unethical.

        But maybe it’s a 3rd cousin to the NTP? But it’s the people who engage in character assassination don’t get to complain when their character is assassinated?

      • Isaac

        Gunn has tweeted in support of others suffering the exact thing that eventually happened to him. If he hadn’t HIMSELF been a gleeful informant, rejoicing in the death of the careers of anyone he didn’t like, he likely would have kept his sweet Disney job.

        This isn’t so much conservatives saying “let’s stoop to the progressive Twitter-mob level” as conservatives pointing out an INSANE double standard: The same company that fires people over a single nasty tweet was gainfully employing Gunn, who had ten years of undeleted racist, sexist, Holocaust, and child rape jokes out in cyberspace for anyone to see.

        This is really just another regrettable casualty of the same Leftist mob. They insisted upon this being the standard and Disney looks like complete phonies if they only hold a select few to it.

        • Material distinction, though: Rosenne’s tweet was contemporaneous, Gunn’s was not. He wasn’t even working for Disney when the tweets at issue were made. Barr’s tweet related to a show’s star now. Gunn’s is irrelevant to him now. Nobody tracked down Barr’s tweet to destroy her. She did it to herself, 100%

          • I’m pretty sure Gunn’s tweets 1) were deleted because 2) this issue surfaced before the premiere of 2014’s GotG movie. Disney was made aware of his public statements 4 years ago. Something else is going on here, and this is all I can come up with:

            A) Perhaps Ms. Dungey who snap-fired Roseanne (Disney Television) is ideologically opposed against Alan Horn who snap-fired James Gunn (Disney Movies). Perhaps this was Alan Horn’s personal retribution in a tit-for-tat war?

            or

            B) While James Gunn’s comments from years ago may have gone by the wayside and don’t represent who he is today, we can still look at his work on GotG and see that perhaps he’s still “oozing” onto the screen. The Marvel comic movies don’t exactly follow the original back-stories of the characters from the comics. The comics are usually written in a very silly way that don’t make sense, so the film adaptations are usually re-worked in a way that fixes the story until it becomes coherent. So – with GotG vol 1, we learn Peter Quill was abducted as a boy and raised by pirates and in vol 2 that his dad is Ego the Living Planet and that Ego has been kidnapping all of his children to exploit them and when he can’t exploit them, he murders them. The tweets coupled with the already pushing the edge backstories that Gunn was creating for Marvel might have pushed Disney to take this action.

            Keep in mind that Disney parted ways with Colin Trevorrow for Star Wars Episode 9. This came after he pitched his story ideas for Ep.9 as well as after the release of his indie film “Book of Henry” which touched on child abuse.

            or

            C) Disney is about to complete a purchase of 21st Century Fox (read: Rupert Murdoch) Who knows if that ever factored into the discussion. However, if I were Bryan Singer who thinks he dodged a bullet with the allegations he faced a few years ago and was able to continue making X-Men movies….. well…. he might want to start considering other projects with other studios.

    • adimagejim

      This is the road on which we find ourselves. Does the conservative side defer to better civics and manners and potentially allow itself to get steamrolled by, well, shite; or, does it fight back in a similar less well mannered way as its opponents to keep the shite at bay.

      Like in the movie A Christmas Story, even the most even tempered, well mannered kid when cornered and bullied will curse you out as he beats your face without remorse.

      This is where we are.

      • dragin_dragon

        Irish?

      • This is the road on which we find ourselves. Does the conservative side defer to better civics and manners and potentially allow itself to get steamrolled by, well, shite; or, does it fight back in a similar less well mannered way as its opponents to keep the shite at bay.

        I’ll take the Third Option… 😉

        • dragin_dragon

          Since you are suggesting a third option, what would it be? I confess, I am at a loss to postulate such an option.

          • Jack wrote: “That is the U.S. culture, however, that extremists on both ends of the political spectrum are successfully constructing, unless we stop them. Their tools are political correctness, invasions of privacy, abuse of technology, social media and its attendant mobs, and an utter disregard of fairness, decency and ethics.”

            Adimagejim previously wrote: “As it happens, despite the truly unethical tactics, McCarthy was right about the threat. That threat is now is close to full fruition.

            If extremists at each political end are constructing what we notice dividing the Republic what is obviously needed is an elimination or a defeat of that extremism. If that is so, neither option offered by Adimagejim is the right one. According to Jack’s analysis, it is the center which must ‘stop’ the extremes. That would be the ‘third option’. I was making a facetious reference, yet the question opens up into a more complex area.

            Since all I have, unfortunately I suppose, are questions (because I do not understand what really is going on in our present nor where it will lead and should lead, nor what precisely I should serve) my current idea is that we desperately need clarification. Because how one orients oneself in relation to these events, will reveal substantially one’s very basic predicates (the ‘items’ of one’s belief and understanding system). Yet me impression is that most people employ a simplistic analysis.

            According to Adimagejim — and what he says is not merely an exaggeration nor indulgence in conspiricist generalization — the radicals of the Progressive Left, allied with some industrial and economic players, are bringing to fruition the ‘communism’ that McCarthy sought to expose. You can get that view from the John Birch Society, I will note. But my view is that though Cultural Marxism is a real thing it is not quite the same as ‘Communism’. And therefor what has happened to the Republic is not a ‘communist takeover’ and cannot be seen through such a simplistic filter.

            I do not think I am asking unfair (nor rhetorical) questions, and it seems to me that no one that I am aware of is speaking to the larger issue here. But what is it? What is that (or those) larger issue(s)?

            Cernovitch and Gunn are each very very low on the *idea-pole* and their struggle seems more like bickering (though I do not minimize the consequences of having one’s livelihood undermined, I am certainly concerned when the websites and intellectuals I admire are attacked, de-monetized, and slandered as hate-sites or as fascist). They do not, therefor, define in any sense the idea-battle that has begun.

            But who is talking about what that larger ideological battle is? Or to put it another way, who is talking in real and clear terms and defining what is going on?

            Moving out of any facetious territory, the Third Option would be doing that, and then deciding on what side of the divide one stand on.

            • adimagejim

              The third and correct option is to play by the rules we once agreed upon, in social contract fashion, the Constitution. The very extremes seem bent on power and privilege over people.

              This cultural Marxism you reference is only the predicate for political and economic Marxism. One step at a time. Once complete, they will kill each other over whether the funding source corporatists or real Marxists get to rule.

              In the mean time we are left with the simplistic filter of do we fight back or naively rely on the better angels of our opponents nature to see the error of their ways. (How many tens of millions were killed domestically under Stalin? He died in office didn’t he and was succeeded by others like him.)

              I am not prepared to become a undefended or defenseless martyr to good manners as the social contract know as the Constitution is obliterated.

              • Adimagejim wrote: The third and correct option is to play by the rules we once agreed upon, in social contract fashion, the Constitution. The very extremes seem bent on power and privilege over people.

                Well, in response I would draw to your attention — as an provocative example — that in the 1860s a radical deviation from ‘the rules we once agreed upon’ was set in (radical) motion. There have been numerous such revisions and deviations. (Social engineering is the term I’d use).

                I bring this up because in my view the *agreements* are now coming undone. This is not coming about because I am saying it, it is really coming about. Organically. Necessarily. The conservatism with which I am familiar — a different variety than yours, I gather, and others who write here — is very concerned for the manifold ways in which the ‘original agreements’ have been modified, restructured, violated even. The 1965 Immigration Reform, and conjunction with much that came out of Sixties radicalism and progressivism, is now, right now, profoundly questioned by thoughtful people.

                Social contracts function when people stand in genuine accord, and only in such an accord do social constitutions function, but when the social matrix is radically modified, the society becomes a different society. Not the same society as forged those *agreements*.

                Therefor (and I attempt only to speak for those who have political and social opinions I can’t imagine that you appreciate or respect (or perhaps understand), they/we operate out of a sense of ‘agreements violated’, and yet we are as much a part of the polity as anyone else. All that I mean to demonstrate here is that the simplistic idea of ‘playing by the rules we once agreed upon’ will likely not function as remediation in the developing present.

                By your own definition you have asserted that the country is being taken over by Marxist/Communists. But it is those people who have fiddled with the ‘rules we once played by’ by engineering a dramatic social and cultural shift. What can oppose that? How could it be opposed? You do not seem to take into account the dramatic shifts and what they portend. So, ‘play by the rules’ is a form of pseudo-conservatism. The structure has so far deviated from the situation in which even the late (Lincolnian) rules were formed that the entire situation needs to be revisualized.

                This cultural Marxism you reference is only the predicate for political and economic Marxism. One step at a time. Once complete, they will kill each other over whether the funding source corporatists or real Marxists get to rule.

                I am not sure about that. I am not sure if that is a correct assessment. But if what you say is true, then we are indeed at a far more dangerous point, and a radical response will become, at one point or another, necessary. It seems to me that, again, you are employing a simplistic analysis for something far more complex. But to begin to postulate futurisms involves the use of a dystopian imagination. NSA monitoring by an aggressive de facto police state that also controls military power and is a far-flung world-level economic system … and you speak in terms that sound something like Mr Smith Goes To Washington.

                In the mean time we are left with the simplistic filter of do we fight back or naively rely on the better angels of our opponents nature to see the error of their ways. (How many tens of millions were killed domestically under Stalin? He died in office didn’t he and was succeeded by others like him.)

                It is not that don’t, on some level, understand what you are saying nor do I necessarily disagree with you, but what I do not see you taking into consideration is that the unity that you hope for, in my own view at least, has come undone. This is no simple affair though and it needs to be explored and explained. It simply doesn’t really exist anymore. I mean social unity, a shared vision of ‘America’. It exists in simulacra but not really. It is now a sort of enforced idea, the stuff of propaganda quite frankly and slick PR. What horrifies is when the control-structure — that would mean the power-factions that have ‘taken over’ or are in that process — use that sort of terminology: the enforcement of a political simulacrum. When what they seem to be after is enforced ‘unity’ to keep the markets functioning.

                I am not prepared to become a undefended or defenseless martyr to good manners as the social contract know as the Constitution is obliterated.

                Actually, that is precisely what you have become. I mean ‘conservative America’ spoken of in general terms. In my view (really, the views of many I read) those who should have protected and defended conservatism didn’t or perhaps couldn’t (given the force of hyper-liberalism and radical sixties machinations). But now, — what now? The ground has to be reconquered. And I suggest it begins in the idea-realm.

                • adimagejim

                  If what you assert, or what I think you are asserting, is true, then a new social contract consensus needs to be built and defended in short order. Alternatively, those clinging to the Constitution, like me, can defend it in the hopes others see it as the most expedient way forward without a complete redo.

                  Do enough people see the Constitution as viable in the 21st century? No idea.

                  Do enough people see the neo-Marxist threat as acute enough to reassert the Constitution? No idea.

                  Do enough people even understand the danger, near or long term, to care enough to defend the Constitution? No idea.

                  Perhaps I and others like me are the dinosaurs destined for economic-socio-political extinction. As for me, I’ll hang with the wisdom of Madison, Hamilton, Jay, Jefferson, Adams, Washington, et.al. and the imperfect, ever seeking perfection, execution of their flawed, but truly beautiful, idea.

                  • Adimagejim wrote: If what you assert, or what I think you are asserting, is true, then a new social contract consensus needs to be built and defended in short order. Alternatively, those clinging to the Constitution, like me, can defend it in the hopes others see it as the most expedient way forward without a complete redo.

                    Because I am interested and see the utility of getting to the bottom of *what is really going on* (in the US now and also in Europe), the only means I have at my disposal are questions. I do not, yet, have a conclusive stance. Because I admit that I do not understand and therefor cannot propose solutions, I would start from the position of laying out on the table-of-consideration that if one were to speak to straight ‘Constitutional’ principles, and to the ‘agreements’ that you refer to, that very serious ruptures occurred and were, shall I say, exploited in order to deviate from the basic principles of the Constitution and to create a nationalized, centralized, non-democratic and really rather autocratic national regime. This is a different area of concern than that of mere conservative of liberal social policy or attitude. What I am trying to point out is that this in itself is a large and demanding project of analysis and interpretation. How to undertake it?

                    You yourself have been speaking of ‘communist takeover’ and this means, I assume, undermining Constitutional principles through various sorts of machination. One would have to go back and lay out for all to see and think about how these machinations began and how they have led to the distorted present we now live in. I do not get the sense that you have any interest at all in such pointed and careful historical analysis. I had previously mentioned that last go-round that right around 1900 there were furious debates within the Republic about the un-Constitutional project of invading and occupying the Philippines and Cuba. I suggested then that these are the origin (or one origin) of the tremendous and destructive distortions we notice in our present. You cannot involve yourself on one hand in anti-Constitutional and anti-democratic adventurism and hope to continue the same at home. These are two radically opposed projects.

                    Now, what I find amazing is that you seem to have no knowledge of nor appreciation for that fierce debate that shaped the developing country, nor do you have any means to understand (and you do not wish to understand nor even to consider) how destructive these anti-Constitutional machinations were to the ‘truly beautiful idea’ which you seem to use as a shield so not to face certain discomfiting facts.

                    The Republic and its ‘beautiful ideas’ have been slowly undermined by a network of nefarious interests. This was not brought on by ‘Communists’ but came about rather organically by the machinations of industrial and military powers in combination with a radical and anti-Constitutional undermining of important (*beautiful*) principles. Those principles seem now to be honored romantically but not in fact. They are the stuff of slick propaganda and propagandistic manipulation.

                    And it is within this self-initiated and self-maintained self-deception that we now locate the so-called ‘Conservative’. Since I do not know how to describe how this person gets so wrapped up in distortions and self-deceptions, I can only ask questions about this person (and about American Conservatism). What I notice is that *you* use horrible rhetoric to condemn and undermine someone like me who asks completely valid questions, and how you thus align yourself with the same factions which have undermined Constitutional principles. That is, the ideas and the idealism underpinning the *beauty* you extol.

                    Therefor, when I (and *we*) confront *you* we wonder how it is that you have come to be, and what, in fact, you serve. The hypocricy in American Conservatism is made visible by the fact that you do not seem to serve high ideals and truth, but rather that of convention and systemic power. Therefor, I do not need to be on the lookout for some hooded Commie, but really only need to ask questions about *you*.

                    Michael West referred to the need for ‘bold speech’ and telling things as they are. I very much agree with him. And that is why I work hard to embolden and clarify my ideas here. Not to offend you personally. This is a totally non-personal issue.

                    Do enough people see the Constitution as viable in the 21st century? No idea.

                    Do enough people see the neo-Marxist threat as acute enough to reassert the Constitution? No idea.

                    I would say that you are in no position at all — ethically nor morally — to have much to say in respect to these questions as long as you show yourself committed not to *getting the facts out in the open for genuine discussion*, but for showing how to go about stopping this from happening. What I say here, despite appearances, is not directed to you in a personal sense, but is directed to an entire *intellectual class*. What I hope to bring to your attention is that there is a rising class of persons who do not believe you any longer! Because you you do serve truth but rather conventions and also power.

                    Do enough people even understand the danger, near or long term, to care enough to defend the Constitution? No idea.

                    As I suggest I do not think you are genuinely concerned for the Constitution but are rather enamored of an emotional appeal to its preservation, which your own failure to address history, fact and reality employs as a tool.

                    You are part of the problem, not a part of any sort of solution.

                    Perhaps I and others like me are the dinosaurs destined for economic-socio-political extinction. As for me, I’ll hang with the wisdom of Madison, Hamilton, Jay, Jefferson, Adams, Washington, et.al. and the imperfect, ever seeking perfection, execution of their flawed, but truly beautiful, idea.

                    You will become ‘dinosaurs’ to the precise degree that you continue to serve deception, anti-intellectualism and un-truth through projects of obfuscation. Ad as long as you remain invested in these modes you become, more and more, not a friend to Republicanism but an enemy of its possibility.

                    If you really were to hang with ‘Madison, Hamilton, Jay, Jefferson, Adams, Washington’ I think you would have to show yourself as much more bold and definitely more honest.

                    The questions remain: What is going on in Our Present and how has it all come about? And what are the Solutions?

                    • adimagejim

                      Got it. You are smarter, more perceptive and more honest. You continue your allusions to knowledge you possess, but never state it to edify us.

                    • Since you seem to have no substantive response — you have not thought these things through obviously — your only manoeuvre is to kick back with ad hominem. It is a weak ploy.

                    • Having thought about this for a number of days now I think I would be forced to disagree with your assessment (though it is appreciated). I do not think that the term ‘smart’ and ‘smarter’ mean a great deal. After all, very *smart* people often get into a great deal of trouble. There must be some other quality that admixes with ‘smart’. Because what we are seeking is not smartness but wiseness.

                      But remember that a question has been asked: “What is going on in Our Present and how has it all come about? And what are the Solutions?”

                      Maybe, therefor, the ‘smart choice’ is to admit that one does not know? To go back to the drawing board. To insist that one not think (and in your case speak) from out of false-surety? Conventions. Determined thought. Prepared phrases. The pontificating habit? (I thought not to mention that one given my own predilections! 🙂 ).

                      But I would agree with you that to be *smart* one must also be perceptive and honest, but there I have inserted a value.

                      In your case the proper question might be: How can I avoid acting and talking dumb?. To avoid becoming and being a ridiculous ‘dinosaur’. But if you could eliminate at least the outward manifestation of it (silence? circumspection?) I still could not guarantee you that that alone would lead to *being smart* (whatever this means, and I am uncertain). I guess I would have to go with what you have suggested: become more *perceptive* and definitely be more honest!

                      More from James Burnham (writing from a perch in 1941):

                      Ideologies, we have seen, are the cement that binds together the social fabric; when the cement loosens, the fabric is about to disintegrate. And no one who has watched the world during the past twenty years can doubt the ever-increasing impotence of the bourgeois ideologies.

                      I suggest therefor that if we are concerned about *our present*, and the situation in America, that we might be wise to consider the notion of the loosening of the ideologies that hold the social fabric together. I am uncertain what “Madison, Hamilton, Jay, Jefferson, Adams, Washington, et.al.” would have to say about the distressing conditions manifesting before us. I doubt that they could have pre-visualized it though.

                      There seem to me very wide ramifications to the failure of ideologies and the loosening of the binding cement. One of those being that people cannot even speak to one another…

                    • There seem to me very wide ramifications to the failure of ideologies and the loosening of the binding cement. One of those being that people cannot even speak to one another…

                      I agree that discourse has fallen out of fashion. That loss prevents non violent resolution of many of these issues.

            • dragin_dragon

              That was a serious question and bot you and Jim answered it as though it was. Thank you. However, you both raise salient points. I need to think about this maybe overnight and see what I come up with. Thank you both.

  4. dragin_dragon

    I’m lucky…I’m 73 and retired and I have a reputation for having no muzzle brake on my mouth. I simply don’t CARE who I offend.

  5. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Situations like this are where ethics and basic survival clash. It is absolutely wrong to look for ways to ruin others. However, if only one side shoots, the other side will soon be dead. The right has picked up the javelin of scorched-earth tactics and thrown it back at the other side, now it’s picking up the javelin of personal destruction based on expressed thoughts. Kinda hurts when it hits, doesn’t it? The left has no more right to expect that the right won’t turn their own tactics on them any more than the Germans had any right to expect that the Allies wouldn’t bomb their cities into ashes after the Blitz or than the Japanese had any right to expect the US wouldn’t use the atomic bomb on them after Pearl Harbor and the Bataan Death March.

    It’s also frankly counter to most people’s formative experiences. Who among us didn’t grow up with classmates who passed along damaging, embarrassing, or troublemaking stuff, whether it was fact or rumor, in an attempt to climb the social ladder by damaging someone else? It should come as no surprise that kind of behavior continues in adulthood, even in the high-stakes game of politics, where the easiest and quickest way to make the numbers move is to go negative.

    The left has started this game, but the right may be the one to finish it – this kind of stuff is just what the days of the French Revolution were like, and those ended when a certain somewhat short but brilliant Corsican military officer came on the scene. Are we going to get a latter-day Napoleon?

    • Chris Marschner_

      Steve
      You make a powerful and compelling argument but I think the rules of engagement should be returning fire only if fired upon first and only at the person firing at you. I don’t think that it is wise to indiscriminately attack because you can. No one should have to live in fear of economic harm resulting from holding unpopular opinions, makes a joke or is judged guilty of verbal crimes against humanity by opposing political forces. If everyone tried to keep their rhetorical powder dry then perhaps we might see the society begin to mend. With that said, no one should allow themselves to be whipping boys. That too is unethical.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Michael Collins knew that the other side couldn’t come after him if they didn’t have the people to do it. Maybe it’s time the right took some proactive action, targeting some of the left’s key people for character assassination or sidelining by seeing what kind of dirt it can dig up about the Congressman who said he was a big male feminist but smacked his wife around, or the big-mouth lefty actor who plowed through girls like dirty tissues, or the obnoxious gay activist who had an affair with a guy a year short of a driver’s license.

  6. valkygrrl

    The right has picked up the javelin of scorched-earth tactics and thrown it back at the other side, now it’s picking up the javelin of personal destruction based on expressed thoughts.

    Said unironically in response to a post that directly references Joe McCarthy.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      McCarthy’s been dead for 60 years. The GOP turned away from his approach almost immediately after he drank himself to death at the age of 48. Don’t you dare try to link the current returning fire by the current GOP after two years of relentless personal attacks to that man.

    • adimagejim

      As it happens, despite the truly unethical tactics, McCarthy was right about the threat. That threat is now is close to full fruition.

      • As it happens, despite the truly unethical tactics, McCarthy was right about the threat. That threat is now is close to full fruition.

        If that is so then one would have very good reasons to resist their project with the full force of one’s being. If the nature of the struggle that is taking shape (of which the wee spat between Cernovitch and Gunn is a very minor octave), then the Conservative/Rightist and whoever is allied with him, is fighting, or should be fighting with everything at his or her disposal to completely destroy this Communist of Trotskyist menace. That menace will, if prior history is a gauge, eventually lead to the purging or imprisonment of those who oppose that commie-socialist project. ‘What happened once will surely happen again’.

        That would mean that instead of opposing the hard right — the radical right even — one should align with them and become aware that the nature of the struggle in front is dire indeed. For who (what faction) within America (and I guess Europe too?) is capable of mounting resistance?

        It all seems to echo, bizarrely, the Interwar Period in the 1920-1930s. The real and present danger of Communist take-overs and a climate of social hysteria that went along with it.

        Of course the simplistic model of ‘communist takeover’ cannot work as a model for action. It is way too simplistic. Is it popular factions outside of power (who do not have power) that desire to get hold of real and substantial power? Or, is it that the (so-called) ‘deep state’ (systemic and entrenched power) which include existing economic forces including that of industry and the military that have become or are becoming communist-socialist? What sort of a world is desired by *them* if they can be spoken of as a block?

        Again what really is going on? Within the larger systems and among those who have substantial power? Who has the position of understanding from which to visualize it, interpret it, explain it?

        I admit that I do not. I see Cernovitch and Gunn as engaging in mere *bickering* (which in the present ethos and economy does have repercussions) while the larger issue remains undefined.

    • Isaac

      Somewhat lost in the fog here: not one on the Right even hurled a javelin. Gunn wasn’t fired by a right-wing company.

      • Ganereg

        But he was outed by a right-winger.

        • Isaac

          Which wouldn’t have mattered if they weren’t counting on Disney being SJW-ish enough to actually do something about it.

          I guess it’s in some sense an “outing,” but anything you post on Twitter is already so “out” that you might as well have used sky-writing.

  7. Chris Marschner_

    Very well said. Nothing more to add except that we each need to model the behavior of allowing free expression without imposing costs on the person expressing them. We do not need to accept those ideas or statements which we find objectionable nor should we repeat them for the purpose of endearing ourselves with our following at the other’s expense.

  8. Opal

    It wouldn’t have been as easy to call for Gunn’s firing if he hadn’t proclaimed on Twitter that Roseanne had a First Amendment right to her bad joke, but ABC had an absolute right to fire her. It’s rather like the family values politician caught with his mistress.

  9. Glenn Logan

    I find it amusing that the Left, in it’s zeal to destroy the right over wrongthink, has discovered that it’s sowed the seeds of its own destruction.

    Generally, the Left is more famous for controversial speech. You would think, realizing their own potential vulnerability to gotchas like this, they would walk back all this attempted First Amendment suppression.

    As Forest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  10. meskimen

    Excellent essay. Thanks for articulating it.

  11. AAAAaaaaaannnnnddddd a well earned “I told you so!”

    I have been predicting this little twist of events (the new right using the tactics of the left against them”) for months, if not years, here at EA. I am saddened but not surprised to see this trend.

    You see, should a former conservative decide to take this path, he or she has several advantages over your average progressive:

    1. Conservatives have had to think in order to remain conservative, many times against the very types of attacks this blog discusses. Progressives can be (but not necessarily always are) lazy, simply following the doubleplusgood groupthink of the moment. It does not take great effort to mimic the trendy and the popular. This confers an advantage simply because of the habit of analyzing, of consideration, of reflection.

    2. Conservatives have had to remain consistent, if they are true to their principles. This requires in depth reflection, and a well rounded critical understanding of issues and history. Progressives, in the main, change their position at the whim of their thought leaders. They have lost the ability (and the will) to examine the issues critically, and have made themselves ignorant of history. Once one understands an issue, a machine, or a tactic, one can manipulate it to one’s advantage.

    3. Conservatives have long understood the means by which they have been unfairly beaten and vilified; they simply refused to lower themselves, sacrificing their principles, morals, and ethics, to reply in kind. Progressives have relied upon the principles of their opponents to get away with their abuse. Therefore they are not prepared to take the kind of fire they have been sending out for decades. Liberals have been in power for at least 40 years. Presidents changed, but Congress and the unelected bureaucracy have become quite liberal in that time. As is true of all such empires (see, here is where that historical knowledge comes in handy) they have become complacent. Power is owed them, not because they earned it, but because of who they are. Thus, progressives and liberals are not equipped to withstand challenges that use the unfair tactics they themselves are accustomed to in maintaining their power.

    4. Progressives pushed their advantage too far, actually attempting to establish one party rule too quickly. Doing so tipped their hand in a way that the right could not ignore: the right, understanding history, could see the trend starting with loss of career, reputation and income to the ending of re-education camps and summary death squads. (One only has to watch what socialism becomes to see examples within the last 100 years) This has become an existential issue for the new right. Civility has not worked, and matters have devolved to the point of physical violence to suppress dissent of ideas (See ‘Antifa’ and BLM for examples). Thugs only understand what they CAN or CANNOT do: ‘should’ does not come into the conversation any more with progressives.

    5. Progressives, given the nature of their life choices, are far more vulnerable to these attacks than conservatives, who have had to tread carefully for so many decades. Progressives chose to live life without guiding principles, and thus have a history of unethical ‘anything goes’ blathering, much of it on the trendy new social media platforms. It is EASY to find something a progressive said years ago that is no longer acceptable to progressives under the new SJW jihad. Once the new right is willing to act, look for many more ‘friendly fire’ incident as the left consumes their own, tipped off (manipulated) by the new right.

    In short, former conservatives will be GOOD at this game. Look for more progressives to be taken down as this little trend continues.

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