Taboo and transgression

In response to Slouching Towards Idiocracy:

The heck of it is, there are still lines to be transgressed, and taboos that must not be violated.  But all the old ones that made sense – the standards that nourished a healthy society – have been trashed by the Left in a decades-long rampage, to replaced by standards and taboos that serve the interests of leftist politics.  And these new standards are totalitarian political constructs.  The identity of the speaker matters as much as the words..

The most obvious example is the odious “N-word,” which can be used with impunity by blacks and certain hip white members of the entertainment aristocracy, like Quentin Tarantino.  Dinosaur Democrats with solid Party credentials can get away with it too.  But it’s instant career death for anyone else who goes near it.  Not only that, but various completely innocuous words and phrases have been nudged into taboo-space, making discourse extremely difficult.  (That’s a feature, not a bug, for the totalitarian Left, which does not like discourse one little bit.)  For example, the city of Seattle recently banned the phrase “brown bag” – as in, “brown bag lunch” – from official documents, because it’s supposed to be racially insensitive.

Seattle also banned the word “citizen,” because it’s insensitive to non-citizen residents.  That’s just the most absurd example of a long jihad against language that accurately describes illegal aliens.  We’re not only forbidden to demand effective legal action against them; we’re not even allowed to discuss them.  That’s a taboo as strong as any antediluvian reluctance to corrupt public morals by using explicit language in mass media.

For another amusing current example, liberals are currently having a complete meltdown because Erick Erickson referred to Texas state senator Wendy Davis as “Abortion Barbie” on Twitter.  Davis is a complete idiot who doesn’t even understand the law she spent 13 hours filibustering, and claims she has no idea what happened in the Kermit Gosnell trial, but we are required to show absolute respect and deference to her as a towering colossus of leadership, Saint Wendy of the Pink Sneaker.  What’s even more pathetic is that the people having seizures over “Abortion Barbie” were totally cool with Sarah Palin being mocked as “Caribou Barbie.” 

Once again, it’s political totalitarianism at work – it matters who the speaker of “transgressive” words is, and who the target is.  That wasn’t true of the old taboos, which were universally applicable to everyone.  This made transgressive comedy more universally amusing, because everyone is equally provoked by words nobody is supposed to use.  Perhaps more importantly, it allowed comedy to be more subtle.  The satirist could allude to provocative concepts without spraying the audience with dirty words.  Sacred cows could be sniped from a safe distance.  Laughter, and provocative thoughts, were earned, rather than beaten out of the audience.

The really damning thing about our new, debased culture is that the Left perfectly well understands the importance of boundaries and polite standards.  They very loudly insist on such standards for their icons.  No one is allowed to jump the razor-wire fences around their sacred cows.  And they understand why it’s important – you can’t use someone like Wendy Davis as a prop in a morality play if everyone is laughing at her for being a loudmouth lightweight.  But we’re forbidden to use those customs to defend principles that would actually make society better.  We have to forget the wisdom of previous ages, which understood that raising children, holding families together, and building a polite and cooperative society is far more difficult when the air is saturated with libertine doctrine and profanity, or when 10-year-old girls are told where they can pick up morning-after birth control pills, no questions asked.  When it comes to what they consider sacrosanct, liberals are Victorian prudes.


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