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Saturday, December 16, 2017

That Crazy Donald Trump




Sherman

There is currently much media fuss over Donald Trump's “mental stability.” Goodness; how scary! Imagine someone who is mentally ill with his finder on the famous red button. We must impeach now!

This is simply a partisan exploitation of popular prejudice against the “mentally ill.” We should all hope Donald Trump is mentally ill. Some of the best US presidents are known or commonly accepted to have been so while in office: Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson. William Tecumseh Sherman had some sort of mental or emotional collapse at the outset of the Civil War. Winston Churchill was pretty definitely what we would now call bipolar—manic depressive. 

Portrait of a maniac, by Karsh.

Hitler, by contrast, so far as we can know, was perfectly sane. At least until his last days, under pressure of events.

“Normal” people generally do not rise to positions of great prominence, in politics or anywhere else. Barring some crazy spin of the roulette wheel of life, it takes some sort of abnormality to stand out in any such way from the crowd. Something abnormal is driving it; some demon or genius.

With political leaders, we probably have three choices. Perhaps the most common type is driven by a need for approval and for status; the careerist. Perhaps he needs to prove something to Mom. This is the Chamberlain type. He or she is not, by definition, a leader. And he or she is not, in conventional terms, mentally ill. He is perfectly socially adapted. He or she will do whatever those around them consider popular. This inevitably produces mediocrity: no sudden changes, no new directions, any tough decisions deferred. It also tends to produce corruption: the “nice guy” will help out his friends, his cronies, his family, his party, himself. The imperative is to see smiling faces. Such leaders are interchangeable. Over time, they will hollow out the economy and the polity and force civilizational decline.

Good old Neville.

When Americans voted for Trump, they knew they were not getting this type. They voted for Trump because they did not want this type.

The second type is driven by an urge for power over others. This is the Stalin type, or the Hitler type: by instinct a narcissist, a sadist and a totalitarian. Some call these things mental illnesses, but they are very different from other things we call mental illnesses, or illnesses generally: the “sufferer” never suffers. Those around him or her do. Except that, naturally enough, once a sadist has indulged himself to a great enough extent, he can be stricken with something we call “paranoia.” He can become convinced that everyone is out to get him: because his conscience is telling him they ought to be. And in reality, too, by this point, they probably are; not to mention divine retribution. I understand convicted killers on death row often develop paranoid delusions.

But properly, this is not a disease; it is a moral failing, with its consequences.

We surely should hope Trump is not this type.

The jolly, well-adjusted young Stalin.

And the third type is the classically mentally ill: the Churchill type. They are driven primarily by low self-esteem. Thinking little of themselves, they are driven by a need to prove their lives and their existence worthwhile by accomplishing something for their fellow man. This is the classic hero type.

They may sound similar to the first type, the crowd pleaser. A friend of mine objects that depressives could not possibly do well in politics, despite the many known examples of those who have, because in politics you need to be “ruthless” and “thick skinned.”

Hmm—ruthless. That word has indeed been used in relation to William Tecumseh Sherman.

The essential difference between the first, Chamberlain, type, and the third, Churchill, type, is that the former craves popularity, and the latter conspicuously does not. People who are mentally ill in the true sense, melancholics, as they used to be called, are invariably “mentally ill” because they have been emotionally abused in childhood; as Churchill was. This relentless abuse by significant others while growing up has given them their low self-esteem. Accordingly, they cannot be the Chamberlain type and still function: either they have accepted that the immediate approval of those around them is not the gold standard in life, or they have become and remained basket cases at best.

Melancholics therefore crave solitude, not approval: Aristotle and Burton (The Anatomy of Melancholy) both consider this the definitive trait of a melancholic. They are self-directed, inner-directed, guided by their own voices, rather than relying on what others think and say. They learn to turn for guidance, instead, to first principles, to the eternal verities. God, truth, right and wrong.

Which is to say, they are men or women of principle, and govern on principle.

Which then could very well be called a “thick skin.” They care less than the rest of us what others are saying and doing. They know this is not a reliable guide. And this is a necessary personality trait for any kind of true leadership, or indeed for any significant new contribution in any field. You cannot follow the herd, and be a leader.

So the mentally ill are, almost definitively, thick-skinned. They are not, contrary to common myth, too “sensitive.” They are not wilting flowers or, as they like to say these days, “delicate snowflakes.” They are the opposite, and have had to learn to be, to survive.

Vien, "Sweet Melancholy"

You might also see this same tendency to operate on principle, doing what they believe to be right instead of following the crowd and its desires, as “ruthless.” More correctly, “decisive.” Governing by principle, they will do what is necessary rather than what everyone will think is “nice.” No kicking tough decisions down the turnpike.

It is true that, if Trump is “mentally unstable,” he is more likely than a gladhander and baby kisser to press that proverbial button. And decisive decisions can be bad decisions. Churchill's career is littered with bad decisions. But if it ever comes to crisis, who is more likely to make the truly catastrophic decision, Chamberlain or Churchill?

Necessary decisions deferred are the greater danger.

And short of crisis, whose decisions, cumulatively, are more likely to be in the general interest?

But wait, you may say. Aren't I forgetting something important? The mentally ill can actually become psychotic. They can be in a state in which they do not know what is going on around them, or what they are actually doing.

But this is far less a danger in a position of prominence, in fact, than for an ordinary person in their daily life. It is pretty easy to detect such mental states, if one is always surrounded by various helpers and aides. Any system of government that has lasted any length of time has made provision for this, because, of course, all leaders are human, and such things happen. In monarchies, over the years, it has happened often. The chancellor and cabinet takes over, or a regent is appointed, until King George recovers.

The sometimes psychotic King George III

In Canada, as in other Westminster systems, if a Prime Minister does something his caucus or cabinet thinks is Coco Puffs crazy, he can be deposed within a day if needed by a vote in the caucus or the legislature. If parliament is not in session, the Governor General can step in and recall parliament. If it ever comes to that—more likely, it would all be handled in a cabinet meeting, and an acting PM announced to the press scrum when the doors opened. The mentally ill are not power-mad, almost necessarily not power-mad, and so would be extremely unlikely to make any difficulty over this in a legitimate case. They would know themselves that something was not right.

In the US, the cabinet can similarly vote at a cabinet meeting to remove the President from office for incapacity to perform his duties. This must later be ratified by Congress, but can happen, if necessary, within hours. But it has never even come to anything like this; when Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke, his wife informally took over. A chief of staff might easily do the same, and probably has, from time to time, without us even knowing.

Is Trump mad?

I hope so.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Why Freedom of Speech is Such a Bad Idea


A violent criminal is executed by the state.

My chum Xerxes has recently put the current left-wing case for ending freedom of speech. It is instructive to examine.

He starts out, naturally, enough, with the case of Lindsay Shepherd at WLU. First, he introduces Jordan Peterson to his audience. Just as Shepherd did—isn't he guilty already of a thought crime? He writes:

Over the last 50 years, the revolt against “he” as the proper generic term for any unidentified person, and against the assumption that “man” includes women and “mankind” describes all humanity, has grown into an irresistible tide. But as always, there are holdouts – people who consider themselves immoveable objects stemming that tide. 
One of those holdouts, University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson, told the CBC’s Carol Off, "I don't recognize another person's right to decide what words I'm going to use, especially when the words they want me to use…are constructs of a small coterie of ideologically motivated people."

He probably gets away with admitting Jordan Peterson exists by misrepresenting him. Peterson is not opposed to using “him” or “her,” as he suggests, when specifying men or women. He is opposed to being legally required to use invented new pronouns like “ze,” “hem,” and so forth, at the discretion of some listener.

That is one good reason, perhaps, why Shepherd's professors went so unreasonably ballistic over showing him actually speaking in class. When you let him talk, you are no longer able to misrepresent his ideas.

Xerxes then also at least slightly misrepresents Lindsay Shepherd. He writes:

Wilfred Laurier University master’s student Lindsay Shepherd wanted her undergraduate class to think about the use of gender-neutral pronouns. So she showed them a short video clip of Peterson.

More exactly, what she showed was not a clip of Peterson; it was a clip of a debate in which Peterson participated. Xerxes makes it sound less even-handed than it was.

Then Xerxes comes down strongly against Shepherd and Peterson. He writes:

The issue is not about censoring someone’s freedom of speech. It’s about banishing speech that does harm.

That would be true, if he and the left had not redefined the word “harm.” In the dictionary (Oxford) it means “physical injury,” and that is how it has always been used in discussions of freedom of speech. As soon as you include as “harm” any speech someone does not like, there is no freedom of speech. None. If speech did not offend anyone, nobody would want to silence it in the first place. “Freedom of speech” defends offensive speech, or it defends no speech at all.

He compares Peterson's words to a poison or a disease, and writes:

Diseases, poisons, and toxins are not optional. One can’t justify them as personal choices.

Surely this is a hysterical claim. As must be obvious to anyone, words are not poisons or diseases, other than as a metaphor. Yes, words can hurt feelings; and in an ideal world, nobody's feelings would ever be hurt. But it is both impossible and pernicious to legislate against hurt feelings. For one thing, there is no objective test or evidence: anyone can claim that their feelings have been hurt, and, unlike a broken nose, it is impossible to adjudicate the matter. Do you, then, need to demonstrate an intent to hurt feelings? Almost as impossible. We cannot read one another's minds. Ban a specific selection of words? Inevitably arbitrary.

Almost as surely as an apple that falls from a tree will hit the ground, unless you strictly favour one group over another, that is, systematically discriminate, everything you might say would then become illegal. Anyone could, in principle, be declared a criminal at any time, because absolutely anything might offend someone. In the real world, of course, those in power would use this only against their enemies; or against some popularly despised scapegoat group.

At the same time, the speech that is most likely to offend someone is the speech that most needs to be heard: speech to express some new or unpopular idea or viewpoint. All new ideas are by definition unpopular—you are not popular if nobody has heard of you; and you are not going to be popular if you contradict what everyone believes to be true. Moreover, as John Stuart Mill pointed out, if any ideas are excluded a priori from the discussion, we no longer know—ever—what truth is. You see here the end of all human progress.

Consider, for example, that by criminalizing unpopular speech, and calling it violence, people like Xerxes are endorsing the crucifixion: they have declared Jesus a rightfully convicted violent criminal. They have condemned Socrates, Joseph Howe, Thomas Jefferson, Gandhi, Galileo, Darwin, Churchill, and Martin Luther King. All of them are now violent criminals. They have condemned those who spoke against slavery in the antebellum US South, or against Jim Crow in the 50s. They all offended with their words.

So, you might imagine, no problem. we will of course only make it illegal to hurt the feelings of socially oppressed groups.

Does not work. To begin with, you cannot count on always being in power yourself. Moreover, in principle, a truly oppressed group is never going to have the government on their side. More or less by definition, if the government is on your side, you are not oppressed. You hold the ultimate social power. Such discrimination will therefore always, necessarily, be in favour of those who already hold political and social power, and against those who do not. If there is even the slightest discrimination in a society, this will exaggerate and intensify it.

An instructive current example: in France, it is illegal to deny the Armenian holocaust. In Turkey it is illegal to say the Armenian holocaust happened.

John Stuart Mill also rightly pointed out that democracy is not possible without free speech. This is why even libel laws do not apply in Parliament. We must be able to freely discuss all ideas in order to come to an informed decision. Denying the general public the right to hear all views effectively excludes them from power. Smart move, for a totalitarian.

As Mill also pointed out, nobody has the moral authority to decide for anyone else what speech they ought or ought not to hear. That idea is intrinsically totalitarian and discriminatory. It presupposes that some people—those in power—are, in effect, omniscient.

Xerxes writes:

Similarly, we do not let our children play with, say, cyanide. Or plutonium. We don’t let them balance on the railing of a 27th floor balcony. We don’t let them run out into traffic. Because we know those things are dangerous.

This is telling. Aside from claiming, wrongly, that words by themselves have physical effects, he is also here seeing his fellow citizens as children. That is the totalitarian instinct. He is demanding the right to think for them. He is assuming his own absolute superiority to his fellow man. Not tenable. Xerxes is a fine chap, but he is not a divine being.

There are, it is true, proper limits to free speech. Libel and slander, most obviously; copyright infringement; perjury; divulging secrets counter to contract; and incitements to violence. The test is clear and simple: does the speech cause material harm?

Pornography, too, might be legislated against, at least without seriously infringing on free speech. Best not to; but not a vital issue. It does not cause material harm; but then too, it does not tend to express any important ideas. Excluding, as the old US Supreme Court formula had it, works “with redeeming social importance.”

Xerxes writes, in support of a limit on free speech:

I doubt if Professor Peterson would pepper his lectures with words like nigger, gook, chink, jap, or kraut. Or for that matter, with broad, floozy, or nympho. Let alone fairy, faggot, or – well, no, let’s not go there. Because we know how derogatory words can legitimize prejudice.

I am sure Peterson would not. But Xerxes is missing the point. It is one thing to say that using such words is bad manners—it is. Good manners are good; bad manners are bad. Yep. It is a very different thing to make what Michael Coren calls “social rudeness” illegal. Such things do not even rise to the level of immorality, let alone criminality, which requires a higher bar.

The law is a blunt and damaged instrument, subject to inevitable injustice, great expense, and to bullying by those with greater financial power. And any law is necessarily a limit on everyone's freedom, and so must be justified. We want to use the law sparingly. It is a last resort.

I think there is a current strong push on the left to end freedom of speech precisely because the governing bureaucracy—let's call it that, not “elite,” as the latter introduces too many ambiguities—feels endangered. People are thinking for themselves more and more. They are no longer dutifully listening to their betters. The gloves now come off. I think the attempt to clamp down is bound to fail; and the collapse may be sudden. But it may also get much nastier before it gets better.



Sunday, December 10, 2017

Help! I'm Being Oppressed!







It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

I just watched video of a rally at Wilfrid Laurier University in which a few dozen students and faculty condemned the school administration for its failure to support “or even recognize the existence of” transgender students. This, weirdly, while the rest of us have been condemning the school administration for trying to deprive Lindsay Shepherd of her right of free speech in the name of transgender rights.

It is, for me, a bit of an epiphany. I begin to see what is going on here.

To understand things clearly, one must understand that “The left,” broadly, is the party and the program of the bureaucrats and the professions. And they think like bureaucrats. They have no fixed principles. They do not really give a damn about transgender rights, or women's rights, or immigrants, or anything else. Their prime concern is to keep the system in place which gives them their privileges and their power: the bureaucracy.

If this or that group complains, and sounds upset, the automatic response of the bureaucracy is to appease. Dramatic or decisive action is never in the best interests of a bureaucrat. It makes you a target. The natural strategy is, whenever anyone threatens to get disruptive, to try to buy them off. Not their money; no principles involved.

People who often engage with the bureaucracy learn how the game works. Threaten to make a loud noise, to go to the papers or to the streets, sound angry, and you get stuff.

This makes the left look strident and upset. But it is not really the left; it is their various client groups. Nor are the client groups really upset. This is just how the system works. They have, over time, been trained to act this way. Make a big noise, and you get what you want. And the bureaucracy is, at the same time, provided with cover: they are helping the “disadvantaged” and “oppressed.”

Recently, we have seen that there is no real ideology, no particular rhyme or reason, to what groups come under the leftist client umbrella. It is just whoever sounds really upset.

And so you see, for example, the strange current coalition between Islam and feminists. As recently as a year ago, the feminists and the Muslims were the opposite ends of the spectrum. Feminists were demanding international action on female genital mutilation; Saudi Arabia was the real enemy; women who wore burkhas were oppressed; and so forth. But once the Muslims, or some Muslims, conveyed clearly the impression that they were very upset over something, the bureaucracy responded promptly by giving them stuff. They quickly came under the umbrella as one more client group.

Now, however, we may have come to a crisis point. Until perhaps two weeks ago, it was always the safest course to give in to the demands of the LGBT lobby, or Black Lives Matter, or feminists, no matter how bizarre; and so they threw Lindsay Shepherd to the wolves. But now they are increasingly caught between a rock and a hard place. Too many different groups have learned how the system works; and their various non-negotiable demands are increasingly irreconcilable.

The insistence of the gay lobby, that they are “born this way,” for example, has never been reconcilable with the feminist system that “gender is a construct.” Nor is it reconcilable with the new idea that you can change your gender. If you can change your gender, can you also change your race? Logically, yes. So then what happens to the idea that certain races are oppressed? No need any more for affirmative action: just declare yourself a member of the preferred race. Both feminism and the gay lobby are irreconcilable with Islam. Support for immigration and illegal immigration is not compatible with support for the working poor as a grievance group, leading notably to the rise of Trumpism. Support for large-scale immigration is not compatible with the interests of African Americans. The contradictions of this appeasement approach are becoming obvious and insupportable.

It always had within it the seeds of its destruction. It is Danegeld. It inevitably leads to more of the very thing it seeks to avoid, social strife and hostility to the establishment and the system.

Perhaps, then, it is deserved. Poetic justice.



Friday, December 08, 2017

Franken Resigns







It must be awful right now to be Al Franken. I saw his resignation announcement, and to me, he did not look well. But how must it feel? Two months ago, he looked like a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000. He was getting a lot of coverage for his grillings in Senate committee hearings. Now he must resign his seat.

And really, his misdeeds don't seem to warrant this. Unless I missed something, we are talking about grabbed bottoms and forced kisses. Boorish, creepy, and requiring an apology, but not more than that—no serious harm done.

Franken is trapped by circumstances. His party wants to make a big deal of the alleged sexual offenses of Roy Moore, during his current senate campaign in Alabama. They want to make a big deal of Trump's comments on videotape about grabbing and kissing women. They want to paint the Republicans as the party that wars on women. If they do not make a big deal out of Franken, they look hypocritical. So they turned on him.

Besides taking out Franken, the current wave of sex scandals probably takes out Joe Biden. He is too vulnerable to similar accusations of creepy behaviour. They take out Hillary Clinton, if she was not already taken out by Donna Brazile's revelations about her fixing the primaries in 2016. It would be hard to avoid Bill Clinton's history in a 2000 race, and her part in defending him.

This is not especially worrisome for the Democrats. They prefer a fresh face anyway; someone will emerge out of obscurity, just as Bernie Sanders did last time. Or, in their day, Howard Dean, Jimmy Carter, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Gary Hart, and so on. Democrats prefer a dark horse.

But to a Canadian, it is shocking how Americans treat their prominent people. One day you are a god, the next day you are the devil. It seems inhumane.


New Eruption of Racism in Toronto





A Toronto music teacher has sued her principal and school board for calling her choice of the traditional Canadian campfire song “Land of the Silver Birch” for a school concert “racist.”

Here are the offensive lyrics:

Land of the silver birch
Home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose
Wanders at will
Blue lake and rocky shore
I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, boom de de boom boom
Boom de de boom boom, boom.
Down in the forest, deep in the lowlands
My heart cries out for thee, hills of the north
Blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, boom de de boom boom
Boom de de boom boom, boom 
High on a rocky ledge, I’ll build my wigwam,
Close to the water’s edge, silent and still
Blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, boom de de boom boom
Boom de de boom boom, boom 
Land of the silver birch home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose, wanders at will
Blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, boom de de boom boom
Boom de de boom boom, boom.

Surely she has a good case. And such lawsuits may be the only way to end this madness of calling everybody and everything racist. If everything is racist, nothing is.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Perils of a High IQ


Multiple studies show a correlation between high intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, and depression, anxiety disorders, autism, ADHD, and autoimmune disorders like allergies and asthma:

Depression:

Jackson, P. S., & Peterson, J. (2003). Depressive disorder in highly gifted adolescents. Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 14, 175–186.

Wraw, C., Deary, I. J., Der, G., & Gale, C. R. (2016). Intelligence in youth and mental health at age 50. Intelligence, 58, 69–79. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2016.06. 005.

Manic depression (“bipolar disorder”):

Gale, C. R., Batty, G. D., McIntosh, A. M., Porteous, D. J., Deary, I. J., & Rasmussen, F. (2013). Is bipolar disorder more common in highly intelligent people? A cohort study of a million men. Molecular Psychiatry, 18(2), 190–194. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ mp.2012.26

MacCabe, J. H., Lambe, M. P., Cnattingius, S., Sham, P. C., David, A. S., Reichenberg, A., & Hultman, C. M. (2010). Excellent school performance at age 16 and risk of adult bipolar disorder: National cohort study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 196, 109–115. http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.108.060368.

Smith, D. J., Anderson, J., Zammit, S., Meyer, T. D., Pell, J. P., & Mackay, D. (2015). Childhood IQ and risk of bipolar disorder in adulthood: Prospective birth cohort study. British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 1, 74–80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjpo. bp.115.000455.

Anxiety disorders:

Lancon, C., Martinelli, M., Michel, P., Debals, M., Auquier, P., Guedj, E., & Boyer, L. (2015). Psychiatric comorbidities and quality of life in adult individuals with high potential: Relationships with self-esteem. Presse Medicale (Paris, France: 1983), 44, 177–184. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lpm.2014.11.018.

ADHD:

Rommelse, N., van der Kruijs, M., Damhuis, J., Hoek, I., Smeets, S., Antshel, K. M., & Faraone, S. V. (2016). An evidenced-based perspective on the validity of attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder in the context of high intelligence. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 21–47. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j. neubiorev.2016.08.032.

Allergies, Asthma, and Immune Disorders:

Benbow, C. P. (1985). Intellectually gifted students also suffer from immune disorders. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8, 42–44. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/ S0140525X00001059.

Benbow, C. P. (1986). Physiological correlates of extreme intellectual precocity. Neuropsychologia, 24, 719–725.

Autism:

Clark, T. K., Lupton, M. K., Fernandez-Pujals, A. M., Starr, J., Davies, G., Cox, S., & McIntosh, A. M. (2016). Common polygenic risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with cognitive ability in the general population. Molecular Psychiatry, 21, 419–425. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mp.2015.12.

These citations come from a recent study by Ruth I. Karpinskia, Audrey M. Kinase Kolba, Nicole A. Tetreault, and Thomas B. Borowski, “High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities,” in Elsevier (Karpinski, R.I., Intelligence (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2017.09.001). The authors surveyed the membership of Mensa, the High IQ Society, and found the frequency of each of these factors among Mensans to be double or triple the rate in the general population.

“It is hardly a new notion,” they note, “that unusually high rates of adult psychopathology are displayed among some of the most eminent geniuses with the poorest in mental health being among imaginative writers such as poets, novelists, and dramatists.” And they cite:

Jamison, K. R. (1993). Touched with fire: Manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament. New York, NY: Free Press.

Ludwig, A. M. (1992). Creative achievement and psychopathology: Comparison among professions. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 46, 330–356.

Ludwig, A. M. (1995). The price of greatness: Resolving the creativity and madness controversy. New York, NY: Guilford Press

This is just what we would expect based on the Dymphna complex: each of these factors, depression, autism, allergies, and so forth, have also been found to correspond with childhood abuse. The exceptionally intelligent child attracts envy and resentment from the narcissistic parent, and so is more likely to be abused. Envy from siblings or the general population is also more likely.

The best test of the hypothesis would be if a similar correspondence could be found between these symptoms and unusual beauty in women. I predict a similar match, but I do not know that anyone has done the research.


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

How Extremist Are You?



I just took this opinion survey from CBC, and was a bit surprised to find myself right in the centre among all respondents. You might like to try.

Surprised, because I think Jordan Peterson, for the most part, is speaking common sense, and I think Milo Yiannopoulos is funny and inoffensive. Yet I am reliably told by professors at WLU that they are both just like Hitler.

My ranking might be skewed left by some of the questions. For example:

Agree or disagree: 
Canadians have a unique set of values that set them apart from the rest of the world.

My guess is that, had I answered “strongly agree,” their algorithm would put me over on the right. However, I must strongly disagree. There is no such thing as “Canadian values.” That is an offensive term, as offensive as speaking of “Aryan values.” Values are universal, or they are nothing. If values differ, for example, it would be impossible to objectively judge “Canadian values” as better than any other arbitrary set of values: Nazi values, perhaps. People either have values, or they do not. On the whole, in world terms, I say Canadians are unusually moral people. But that is not the question that the survey asked.

All immigrants can retain their cultural identities without being any less Canadian.

I had to somewhat agree. I suspect the algorithm puts that on the left. But I think it is true. Look, for example, at Leonard Cohen or Mordecai Richler: essential Canadian writers, but also deeply Jewish in their identities. And it is not just Jews who can do it. Dennis T. Patrick Sears is both a deeply Canadian, and a distinctly Irish, writer. There is a way to be both ethnically distinct and entirely Canadian. I has to do with not seeing your particular ethnicity as opposed to and isolated from the mainstream, but as a facet of it. Nothing is more truly Canadian than this tendency. We really are a mosaic, and it is our necessary destiny, thanks to French Canada. It is this tendency to get along and feel united in our diversity that we seem to be losing.

University and college officials should have the right to ban people with extreme views from speaking on campus.

I had to somewhat agree, which probably threw me towards the left again. The issue is religious schools, and the problem is not “extreme views.” There is no such thing, properly speaking, as an “extreme view,” and to the extent that there is, these are the very views you want to hear on a university campus: new and unfamiliar ideas. But a school with a religious charter must have the right to find certain views unacceptable, if they are heresy for that religion. Otherwise there is no meaning to the concept of a “religious school.” So it is necessary for religious freedom to allow such restrictions. Even if not religious, if a school has some statement of principles in its charter, it seems proper too for its officials to prohibit speakers who differ from these principles from using campus facilities. Support for the UN, universal human rights, liberal democracy, for example. Freedom of speech is not thereby infringed, because students have implicitly signed on to those principles by choosing voluntarily to attend the institution.

This would not apply in the recent controversy at Wilfrid Laurier University. There is nothing in WLU's charter or mission statement that would prevent the discussion of any issue current in the wider polis. In this case, the views were simply banned as an exercise of arbitrary power by a group of officials imposing their own views, in a public university.

Road signs across Canada should always be written in both English and French.

I have to strongly agree. This probably got me tagged as on the left. But the one part of Canada where this is not currently true is Quebec. I cannot fathom the attitude of those who object to seeing the other language on a sign or a cereal box. Doing so seems to me to simply fall in the category of common courtesy and neighbourliness. You ought to want to encourage it if only to promote tourism. Who does it harm?

Indigenous Peoples in Canada should be free to govern themselves.

I have to agree again, which again probably puts me on the left. Indigenous people have the same right to govern themselves that everyone has. They do this, in the first place, by participating in Canadian elections. They have the additional right to associate and to set up rules among themselves, just as anyone does by, for example, joining a Rotary Club. This is freedom of association. Nobody should stop them if they so desire. They even have the theoretical right to declare independence and become sovereign, just as we recognize that Quebec has this right. It would be a self-inflicted catastrophe for them if they did, but they have the right.

By the same token—and this is more important, but this question is not asked—every individual Indian equally has the right to walk away from any form of aboriginal government, and not suffer a loss of rights for it. Such associations, within Canada, must be voluntary—freedom of association. This is the pressing issue currently.

Francophones and Anglophones should be able to receive public services in their own language anywhere in Canada.

I had to somewhat agree. They ought to be able to receive services from the federal government in their own language. It seems to me impractical to expect services from provincial and municipal governments in either language where numbers do not warrant it.

On other questions, however, it seems to me I should register as on the right: no, we owe no more to the natives; no, it is not important to have more visible minorities in senior positions; I am “very proud” of Canada's history. No, rich provinces should not share with poor provinces (there is such a thing as moving for work). Yes, the effects of climate change are exaggerated. No there has been no cultural genocide of native people in Canada. No, people who were born male but identify as female should not be allowed to use women's washrooms (at least, not without some objective standard, like a surgical change or a change of status on their birth certificate; but such qualifications were not allowed by the question). No, people should not be allowed to cover their faces for religious reasons when receiving public services—but only because nobody has to cover their face for a religious reason. The claim that Islam does is a scam, and allowing it is only too likely to enable scams. Arab countries do not allow it, and we should not. If any religion did require this, the matter would be different. No quotas for women; quotas for women are discriminatory, as are quotas for “visible minorities.” No, white privilege is not a thing.

I begin to suspect that Canadians as a whole are not nearly as leftist as we are claimed to be, or as our “elites.”


Monday, December 04, 2017

Proverbs



It is impossible to accuse another of arrogance or of lack of humility without hypocrisy.

Whenever the problem is with “all foreigners,” the problem is not with foreigners.
Whenever the problem is with “all men,” the problem is not with men.

Never marry a good dresser. A man who is loyal to an old pair of shoes will be loyal to his wife.

A wise man does not fight with the person who does his cooking.

People defend most fervidly 
What is most certainly wrong.

-- Stephen K. Roney