Archive for June 19th, 2012

For men…, however apparently contradictory to common sense, and the very principles of all their knowledge; have let loose their fancies and natural superstition; and have been by them led into so strange opinions, and extravagant practices…that a considerate man cannot…avoid thinking them ridiculous, and offensive to a sober man.  –  John Locke

The human mind is an astonishingly complex system which contains so many separate and often conflicting schemata and cognitive mechanisms, both conscious and unconscious, that there will inevitably be times when the mind holds two contradictory thoughts, ideas or feelings at the same time.  This induces cognitive dissonance, an unstable (and emotionally unpleasant) state which must be remedied in order to restore psychic equilibrium.  The rational person usually resolves the dilemma by conscious introspection, while the typical person generally clings to his beliefs or emotions and denies the facts which conflict with them.  But some deeply delusional individuals are such masters of doublethink that they can accept two completely contradictory cognitions at exactly the same time, and when they reveal these schizoid thought processes to the world via word or deed the rational person cannot help but feel a sort of fascinated pity mingled with fear, disgust or contempt.

Take, for example, the Ukranian protest group Femen, which protests topless because according to founder Anna Hutsol, women “have the right to use our bodies as weapons”.  So far, so good; people have the right to use their bodies as they please.  So why does Femen oppose sex work?

The controversial women’s rights group known for their provocative protests of world affairs, has taken to the streets of Hamburg…armed with…wearable sex toys…their bodies painted with Swastikas and Hitler mustaches, gesturing their way down the streets in similar fashion to Hitler’s regime nearly 70 years ago…chanting, “Sex slavery is fascism”…

So according to Femen, it’s OK to use one’s sex appeal to get in the news, but not to make a living; even by neofeminist standards this is psychotic.  But the cognitive contortions involved are no worse than those in this article about male strippers from The Independent, whose writer (one Francesca Steele) manages to convince herself that male stripping is “empowering” while female stripping is “demeaning” (she tells us that male strippers are “gods on stage”, but female strippers are “objectified”, presumably because the girls make a lot more money than the guys do).  The funniest part?  Steele seems completely oblivious to the fact that most of male strippers’ clients are other men.

The police are another group who are masters of schizoid thinking:

Police in Ottawa are calling a case in which two 15-year-old girls are charged with human trafficking “shocking.”  They say they have never seen anything like it before…[they] allege that on three separate occasions, the girls lured three female victims ranging from 13 to 17 years of age to a city residence…[from which they] were driven to other locations for the purposes of prostitution.  The accused girls face multiple charges, including human trafficking, robbery, procuring, forcible confinement, sexual assault, assault, uttering threats and abduction…the victims were confined and somehow forced to engage in prostitution.  Police said there was no indication pimps or men played any role…

In plain English:  the two 15-year-olds figured out how to place escort ads and talked their three friends into it.  But since anyone under 18 is an innocent, asexual “child”, they couldn’t possibly have gone along for money and kicks; they must have been “forced” by “traffickers”.  Remember:  breaking a law, no matter how stupid or arbitrary, is the one thing which can cause the magic Shazam lightning to strike even one second before midnight on a person’s 18th birthday, thus transforming an innocent child into a ruthless adult criminal.  The Kanadian Kops claim they’ve “never seen anything like it before”, so they must not communicate with their American counterparts; teens here are often arrested for “sexually abusing” their consenting partners and prosecuted for “child porn” when they take nude pictures of themselves.

But the undisputed champion of contradiction, the Schizoid Sultan, the Duke of Doublethink, is New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.  Regular readers are familiar with the way he criticizes others for restricting women’s sexual choices while advocating the restriction of those choices, decries the “exploitation” of women while using lurid “sex slave” porn to sell ads for his employers, and attacks some instances of government meddling while praising others and simultaneously stating that it’s natural and good for government intrusions into private affairs to continually increase.  Even so, I think he surpassed himself last week:

I’m generally an admirer of Obama’s foreign policy, but his policies toward both Syria and Sudan increasingly seem lame, ineffective and contrary to American interests and values.  Obama has shown himself comfortable projecting power — as in his tripling of American troops in Afghanistan.  Yet now we have the spectacle of a Nobel Peace Prize winner in effect helping to protect two of the most odious regimes in the world…[Sudan’s] leader has been charged with genocide, has destabilized the region, has sponsored brutal proxy warlords like Joseph Kony, has presided over the deaths of more than 2.5 million people…and the Obama administration doesn’t want him overthrown?  In addition, the administration has consistently tried to restrain the rebel force here…Likewise, in Syria, the United States has not only refused to arm the opposition but has, I believe, discouraged other countries from doing so…we should make clear that unless the security forces depose Assad in the next 30 days, our Middle Eastern allies will arm the Syrian opposition.  We should work with these allies, as well as with major powers like Russia and China, to encourage a coup…That’s not too much to expect of a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Yes, you read that correctly:  Kristof says that Obama should prove he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize by starting two new wars.  I can’t believe that absolutely nobody outside the libertarian press noticed the glaring contradiction, so I suspect that nearly everyone who read any of these stories recognized the conflicts in them immediately…and then promptly discarded such realizations as sources of cognitive dissonance when juxtaposed with their fawning respect for self-proclaimed authorities.

One Year Ago Today

Whores in History Revisited” is an extended review of a fantastic book I cannot possibly recommend enough.

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