A Mediocre Sense of Evil

This was intended to be a shorter post for the week, as projects and research have taken up most of my time, but it turned out to be about the usual length. Watching the meltdown over the past week over two barely-related topics made me really think about the timing of their breaking: Game of Thrones approaching its humorously absurd conclusion, and the state of Alabama passing what is the strictest American anti-abortion law in living memory.

Let’s be clear who really got owned this week, though: mostly single, predominantly white, wine-drinking liberal women who probably own cats. You know the type—the ones that want to be cool wine aunts, enjoying their youth until they’ve matured into a Susan Sarandon-style old age, having seen the world, worked a career in theater or whatever, and slept their way across Manhattan island. They’re the type that claim for themselves the ambiguous term Ally, presumably of those poor colored folk, those oppressed transsexuals, and those lovely gays and lesbians. They’re the type that, despite charming introductions, nobody ever wants to be around.

Game of Jokes

We’ll start with the innocuous topic first. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, and I have no intention of doing so. Back when its first season was airing, I blitzed through the first half or so at a friend’s party for it, but I was only half-paying attention to it. The only things that stuck to my memory included Sean Bean, a sarcastic dwarf that had the same stupid expression on his face in every shot, and every episode seemed to have a general template formed around when to include sexual nudity and violence. It’s only ever struck me as an edgelord’s fantasy novel written by an over-educated nerd.

This is a show that has captivated the public’s attention for about a decade, maintaining popularity so high that its episodes have coincided with noticeable dips in internet pornography visits. While impressive, it’s not hard to see the connection. The fascinating part of all this is that women tend to love the show, or at least claim to, and the reason seems to be pretty simple. It features women in positions of power as villainous, duplicitous, sensual psychopaths who seem to ruin everything. The blonde White Savior, Daenerys, perfectly fits the bill in this regard: a fairly attractive, blonde, driven, strong woman who can do basically whatever she wants to anyone, since she has a couple of pet dragons and she’s immune to fire. So she decides to invade a few countries and kill a bunch of people.

Long story short, apparently she’s a mass-murdering psychopath now, having embraced a family heritage of being insane. Some paint this as a massive character assassination, and to be fair, my limited knowledge of the show leaves me completely in the dark. But based on what I do know, I fail to see the inconsistency.

But why am I writing about this in the first place? Well, the truth is, the overwhelmingly negative reaction to this turn in the plot has sparked no small degree of bemusement to those of us left who didn’t get dragged into the Game of Thrones hype.

Sure, you had the typical bugmen who were bummed out at the manner in which the show is looking to set itself out to pasture, but none of them are the main centerpieces of reaction videos or Twitter meltdowns or the like. When spotted, they’re easily dismissed as the nonthreatening orbiters of any number of the delusional, rainbow-haired, self-stylized fantasy nerd girl who named her cat Daenerys and her pit bull Jon Snow. Or worse, she named her daughter something of the sort.

These are the fans who put up a reminder of what the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is on Reddit just before the penultimate episode aired, mind you. And yeah, maybe it was a joke, but a quick stroll through the thread reveals that some of them weren’t taking it lightly. I mean, that is Reddit, after all, a place in which the humor amounts to the most sterilized, unfunny content imaginable.

But that’s sort of my point. Here you have a show chock-full of bloodshed, wanton carnage, sexual degeneracy, nudity and lewdness, brutality, and the so-believed ‘medieval realism’ that modern stories are frequently pursuing in their tactless grit, and yet its most vocal fanbase consists of the most sterilized, politically correct, sexually debauched people around. The enraged disappointment with last week’s episode wasn’t simply over a main character suddenly going crazy—it was over a specific character going crazy, a character so many of the fans had come to use a stand-in for their own twisted sense of self-righteous ethic. The story had to act as the vehicle of pandering to their interests and reinforcing their own senses of moral superiority. One tiny flaw in the chink of Daenerys’ meticulously crafted image, and the jig is up.

It’s a me-me-me thing. The story doesn’t matter, the plot doesn’t matter, the violence and spectacle don’t even matter if all of them are in the service of themes that aren’t servicing whatever narratological moral biases I’m holding onto at the time. To some degree, this is true of all entertainment—since, after all, a good story by necessity must have good morals, i.e. evil must be punished, even if it’s not obvious, and good must be uncompromising in its existence, even if it’s not obvious either. But this presumes that good and evil are real and knowable in the first place, and a culture increasingly unaware of, say, Tolkien’s deep-seated Catholicism and how it informed the writing of Lord of the Rings, and in particular, a culture willing to critique that story for it’s supposedly simplistic view of the world, is a culture that refuses to confront evil and would rather attempt to redefine it out of existence.

Alabama: Closed for Abortion

On that note: how about something a bit more serious?

It seems pretty obvious that the pro-abortion advocates in Alabama torpedoed their own case when one of their guys stated, on the record, the truth about abortions in such a frank manner as to leave plenty of pro-lifers stunned. The words of John “You Kill ‘Em Now, Or You Kill ‘Em Later” Rodgers, a Democrat state representative for Alabama, did more damage to the abortion lobby than anything the pro-life movement has been able to muster in recent memory.

He stated his case simply. He didn’t think a man should tell a woman what to do with her body, and some kids are simply unwanted. Unwanted things go in the garbage, presumably, even if they’re children. While I wouldn’t call the logic here airtight, the levity with which he spoke back in early May is refreshing after decades of corny euphemisms being used to describe a medical procedure designed specifically to kill the patient. His statement, coupled with hundreds of statements from people weighing in on Twitter, all mean that yes, finally, the honest truth about the procedure is certain and clear even in the minds of those who defend the practice.

Behind the rhetoric about whose choice belongs to whose body lurks the staunch belief that life isn’t worth living. Abortion advocates recognize those unborn children as being, at the very least, a form of life distinct from the mother—in some cases going so far as to unconvincingly argue that they’re parasites. Most of the time, when pressed hard enough, they’ll even recognize that they’re essentially people. And yet, they stick to their position. A woman was raped and is now pregnant? Who cares about the kid, he deserves to die so the mother isn’t “forced” to carry her rapist’s child. A woman was sexually abused by a family member? Who cares about the kid, he deserves to die so she isn’t “forced” to deliver the product of incest. A woman was sexually promiscuous with a guy, wasn’t married, and doesn’t want to have a kid yet? Who cares about the kid, he deserves to die so she isn’t “forced” to embrace the motherhood she claims to have inadvertently triggered.

In the statistically few cases of pregnancies that come about from rape, there is a misapplication of justice as well—the confusion of attempting to deliver death upon an innocent life for an egregious crime of flesh inflicted upon the new mother. Rape doesn’t simply happen to women; it’s perpetrated by rapists. They’re the ones to hold accountable for the crime. A mother who decides to have a child resulting from rape aborted is deciding to have her child killed out of a misplaced sense of fairness. It isn’t fair she was raped, no doubt. But infanticide doesn’t make the crime disappear, and it doesn’t make the woman’s life any better, either.

For a vast majority of cases in which abortion is ‘chosen’, it’s treated as a form of contraception and often pitched as such—usually because these pregnancies are terminated well before the end of the first trimester, before any outwardly visible signs that the woman is pregnant to begin with. It’s much easier to cloak the developing person under labels like “a clump of cells” in order to keep an easy conscience, and the procedure usually doesn’t involve anything more complicated than taking a few drugs and waiting a couple days.

On the surface, both issues are tied to inconvenience; in the latter, a woman isn’t ready for a life-changing event after she’s engaged in sexual behavior that has already triggered that event to begin; in the former, said-life changing event was made in the most traumatic fashion imaginable, and she finds herself unable to live with the consequences of it when given the option to abort.

But there’s something deeper about the arguments used to defend abortion. After all, proponents of the practice will also defend premarital sex and general sexual promiscuity, which carries legions of dangers for either sex, but particularly for women—things they acknowledge themselves. Yet they pretend like the alternative, abstinence, is either logistically impossible (untrue) or oppressively limiting to a person’s freedom (also untrue).

So it’s not true that defenders of abortion are defending a woman’s well-being. They may claim to defend her freedom, but what good is freedom when she’s keeping herself alive with anti-viral medications, she’s rendered herself infertile, and she has no family to help her grow old? The defense there is moot, and those that already live that life basically know it, even if they may not want to admit it.

No, abortion is and always has been about promoting death. The state representative comments I mentioned earlier make this fact, which had managed to stay under the radar for decades, abundantly clear. Save the child from the misfortune of having to live, he’s saying. The child didn’t have a choice in whether he was born or not, but the mother has a choice in whether she can spare him the pain of living out an existence that, all defenders of abortion will have to admit, is painful, full of suffering, difficult, and unrewarding. The defense of abortion and the belief in God are mutually exclusive, and anyone who claims to do both is lying about one.

You seem to have two camps of people now that defend abortion. Those that know it’s about child murder, and, while cloaking it in various euphemisms, defend it because it child murder. These people seem over-represented on social media and, by my estimate, are probably possessed by demons. The second, and in some sense, more dangerous camp, are those that defend the practice, knowing it’s about child murder, but consider it a form of mercy with a regretful side-effect. I say more dangerous, despite the general lack of outright maliciousness that you see in the former camp, because these proponents weave a rhetorical narrative that’s slipperier to combat. This is what I mean by an attempt to redefine evil out of existence; they know exactly what they’re doing, react strongly when it’s stated outright, demand we speak in euphemisms, and have no interest in calling a spade a spade.

A positive defense of abortion can only be given in a world emptied of the sacramental spirit. God doesn’t speak in euphemisms, nor does He ask that of us. He’s been known to use symbols and parables, but never the contrived, sterilized talk conjured up by human resources departments in order to avoid language’s direct contact with the truth.

Embracing Denial

So what does Game of Thrones have to do with the Alabama abortion decision? On the surface, nothing. One outrage is against a self-insert character going crazy, and the other is outrage at the fact that people can be legally charged with murder for performing abortions in Alabama. And yet, the link is right there: the reaction to being denied an indulgence in evil; the use of authority to tell hysterical crowds of mostly women, “no!”

There’s probably truth to the idea that the writers for Game of Thrones really don’t have any clue what they’re doing, and maybe they thought the twist in last week’s episode was a good idea. For what I’m talking about, their motivations don’t really matter. The writers made a decision, albeit maybe a bad one, and the reaction by the fans is to concern troll people into reminding us all of what the suicide prevention hotline is.

When authority calls out evil, it shines a light upon it, makes it clearly observable in all of its disgusting incoherence. Authority may not always be good, but at the very least, drawing evil out into the visible places remains a work of charity. How this applies to Alabama is clear, but it isn’t so much in the case of the ravenous audiences of Game of Thrones. For those audiences, the defilement of their self-insert character isn’t perhaps, a defilement at all, so much as an unpleasant reminder that the precious values that Daenerys stood for are actually arbitrarily-motivated and rooted in an insanity that was alluded to in the very first season. They’re so upset that some three hundred thousand of them signed a petition to remake the season. This is the same sort of self-righteous indignation over intellectual property that eventually spawned the Star Wars sequels.

What both of these things highlight is the elevation of self interest over realty, the apotheosis of liberalism. Unlike what might have been expected, such as some kind of Nietzschean Ubermensch or a Last Man, which each come about, in their own way, after some sort of catastrophic rise to power, the fully-realized liberal identity is a mediocre advocate of evil. He is mediocre in his taste, because he rejects any authority other than his own as a moral arbiter, which hamstrings his ability to make valuable judgments on the beauty of a work. He is mediocre in his thought, as the entire LGBT narrative—flimsier than a house of cards—proves. He is mediocre in will, embracing his passions rather than disciplining them to suit their proper ends. And he is mediocre in experience, as all of these things lead only to a tasteless, dull life of material indulgence. The liberal’s passions are inflamed only when the suggestion is floated that perhaps he is wasting his life—or worse, that he is wasting his entire existence, that his life does have value, it is important, and there is always God who loves him, in spite of his own failings. And yet, the liberal will not turn to face Him.

This is what the useful idiots of the Devil look like.

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