For decades liberals have lobbied against punishment and for rehabilitation. The argument was that a mugger or murderer was just a victim of his environment, someone caught in the crosshairs of bad nurturing and neighborhood. Accountability is unwarranted because the person bears no responsibility: he knew not what he did. And so successful was this movement that our penal system was largely reorganized based on the rehabilitation model. Why, I’ve even argued with people who insisted that “punishment doesn’t work” (apparently, they’d never heard of Singapore, caning and virtually zero crime).
So, question: where are the calls for rehabilitation, as opposed to punishment, for “racists” such as Clippers owner Donald Sterling?
And the rehabilitation mentality’s absence isn’t just apparent in the social ostracism and career destruction visited on those accused of the One Liberal Deadly Sin of “racism”*. (*Some exceptions may apply.)
It isn’t even just apparent in the social persecution of supposed “haters” in general, from Brendan Eich to the Boy Scouts to devout Christians.
Just consider leftism-disgorged “hate-crime” law. It proves ever so explicitly that, somehow, liberals have discovered the utility of punishment; after all, they will justify this legislation by saying that since some crimes target whole communities, they’re so destructive that a message must be sent. It appears that when their own ideological ox is being gored, the people who authored the atheist version of “the Devil made him do it” want Devil’s Island.
A good example is Donald Sterling. It’s not enough that he has had his reputation destroyed, been fined $2.5 million and been “banned for life” by the National Bolsheviks Association. There are people who want newspapers to stop accepting his ads. And the bigoted Al Sharpton — proving hypocrisy knows no bounds — had actually said that the Clippers should be disbanded. Yes, and maybe we should adopt the North Korean model of purging Sterling’s family and friends, too. But how much punishment is enough? How many pounds of flesh will sate the rapacious and blood-stained leftist palate? Would only a gulag and a long, slow, painful death suffice for the world’s Sterlings?
None of this is a surprise if you understand that liberals don’t operate based on principles, but feelings; in keeping with this, liberalism isn’t an ideology. It is a process. Even Marxism has a vision for how society should be (unrealistic though it is), but liberals do not. The only consistent definition of liberalism is “a desire to change the status quo,” which means there will always be, without a guiding vision, directionless, unprincipled change and action. Liberals are the children who ever fight the parents simply because that is the nature of the brat, and they do this even when yesterday’s liberals have become the parents.
How does this relate to punishment? A person operating on principle, on a vision, will try to tame his emotion and say: here’s the crime, here’s what justice dictates, so here is the proportionate punishment. But with liberals there is no justice — it’s “just us” as they’re governed by the shifting sands of convenience. Their feelings tell them that they hate the transgressor and that they want revenge, and it’s never enough to satisfy them viscerally. It’s as with the feeling of hunger: no matter how much you eat, there’s always another appetite mere hours away.
This governance by emotion helps explain why “*Some exceptions may apply.” It sheds light on why liberals haven’t made a federal case out of Bellville, NJ, Democrat mayoral candidate Marie Strumolo Burke, who lamented proposed tax-rate changes and was caught on audio exclaiming, “This is gonna be a f*****g n****r town!” It illuminates why they did nothing when then NBA owner Jay-Z threw a 2010 party in which no whites were allowed. It even explains why Sterling, whose views were long known, received not only a special dispensation but also acclaim and awards from the left. As part of their political phalanx, liberals don’t hate Burke; they don’t hate bigoted blacks such as Jay-Z; they don’t even hate rich, old white men who pay their dues and pay off the cause. And disconnected from Truth and thus having “situational values,” it’s easy for libs to live in a world of rationalization. Just give them plausible deniability in their own minds, so, as Mark Cuban once said about Sterling, they can shrug off the sin as the eccentricities of a fellow who “plays by his own rules.” But don’t you dare out yourself if you’re a white guy. Don’t become a liability to the cause. It’s as if the mistake isn’t the act (at least if you’re one of the initiated) — the mistake is getting caught.
But with those who aren’t part of their phalanx, liberals will hate, hate, hate; they will hunger for vengeance and, since vengeance never eliminates hate (only forgiveness does), there is never an end to their retribution.
To be clear, I’m not saying that outrage over “racism” is always mere artifice. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s reminiscent of medieval heresy accusations, which could be leveled against an individual by vindictive people with an axe to grind. But much of the time if not most, the anger is real.
It’s just selectively triggered.
In rare cases, the transgression itself may be enough to induce the emotional response. Most of the time, however, it’s some combination of transgression+transgressor+situation. Transgressor can negate transgression, as when a black person makes a bigoted remark; or transgressor can magnify transgression, as when a white Republican makes a corresponding remark. If a white Democrat or Democrat enabler does, transgressor status plus a situation in which you somehow maintain that plausible deniability gets you by. If it’s a wealthy, powerful black man whose success is necessary for the cause, as with Barack Obama, well, then you’re bulletproof. Then again, if you’re a wealthy, powerful white man whose failure is necessary for the cause, as with George Allen and “macaca,” you’re history.
This isn’t to say that most liberals are fully conscious of what animates them. Self-awareness is often lacking among man, and this is especially true among philosophically dysfunctional men (who we today often call liberals). All most leftists know when spewing venom at a supposedly “racist” conservative is that they hate the person, and they assume it’s only because of his transgression. Living situational lives where everything is compartmentalized, they generally don’t know what truly drives them or consider, at the moment they’re wallowing in hatred, that in the past they’ve reacted very differently to liberals in the same boat.
Of course, another factor is that liberals don’t view these transgressions the way a normal person would. They often “feel” — “think” would be the wrong word because, again, leftists generally operate emotionally — that a black’s or liberal’s uttering of a racial remark is of a very different moral species than when a white conservative does so. A black has a right to such sentiments because of the “legacy of slavery.” As for a white liberal, it was perhaps just a weak moment, a slip of the tongue; after all, the person has proven his credentials with his public face as a good leftist foot soldier. If a white conservative says the same thing, however (which never seems nearly as common), it just reflects the deep-seated bigotry that you have to know resides in his dark soul.
Going even deeper, understand that this accords with liberals’ favored reality-denying modern isms. Nominalism states there is nothing that objectively makes both a tiger and a buff tabby “cats,” categorically speaking — we just happen to view them that way. Likewise, a normal person may see two bigoted statements or two acts of punishment as occupying the same category, but there is, objectively speaking, no such thing as a category called “bigoted statements” or “acts of punishment.” Such classifications only exist in our minds, so we can assign these labels as we see fit. And in deference to relativism, which boils down to the notion that there’s no right or wrong, neither punishment nor rehabilitation can be inherently good or bad, and consistency can be no better than inconsistency.
At bottom, this is how devout leftists view the world. Subscribing to the Protagorean proposition “Man is the measure of all things” and the apocryphal one “Might makes right,” when they win culture wars and take control, they make themselves the measure of all things. Perhaps the best characterization of their philosophy is occultist Aleister Crowley’s formulation, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
And what they wilt do is persecute you. Remember that, nice-guy conservatives, the next time you want to fight them using Queensbury Rules.