Klavan On The Culture

Klavan On The Culture

Mrs. Davis Goes to the Lions

September 4th, 2015 - 8:24 am

To me, gay marriage is the global warming of the right. Right wingers, speaking generally, have a visceral suspicion of social innovation and so will mentally connect the dots from any social change to disaster. In the same way, leftists have a visceral dislike of freedom, progress, wealth creation, and humanity, and so they think oil must necessarily bring on the apocalypse. In both cases, people are confusing their perceptions and principles with the indifferent clockwork of reality.

My own view? Sure, it seems obvious that the relationship between men and women is central to the human experience in a way other relationships are not. Male nature and female nature were made to fit together just like male and female bodies. There is no ancient symbol of yin-yin or yang-yang. But just because something is central does not mean everything off-center is bad or even unlovely. Part of the joy and hilarity of human life is its oddball diversity. If two gay people love one another, I’m glad for their joy. As long as they don’t go around forcing private citizens to violate their consciences or participate in their ceremonies, I don’t see how their getting married affects me one way or the other.

My religion is Christian and biblical (though I don’t take every utterance of, say, Paul to have the same universal or eternal quality as every utterance of Jesus), but, in keeping with my religion, I don’t believe the state has any obligation to follow the Word of God. It is I who am obligated to follow it, even if the state throws me (or my designated surrogate Bill Whittle) to the lions. The state, as the mighty Whittle has pointed out, does not have the power to sanctify anything. It can only allow or disallow. To my mind, if something does no immediate and apparent harm, the state should allow it and, indeed, has no right to forbid it.

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I’ll be starting a new video series, LiveWire, very soon, but this one is strictly from me:

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The First Rule of News Coverage

August 30th, 2015 - 9:45 am

Here is the first rule of “mainstream” news coverage in America: Whenever the prejudices and illusions of left-wingers are confirmed by an individual incident, the incident is treated as representative; when those prejudices and illusions are contradicted, the incident is considered an aberration — and treating it as representative is deemed hateful.

It was by satirizing that rule that Breitbart’s mustache-twirling evil-doer Ben Shapiro once again got himself in hot water this week. The flagrantly brainy provocateur ran a headline describing the heart-shredding murder in Virginia of a local TV reporter and her cameraman: “Black, Gay Reporter Murders Straight, White Journalists — Media Blame the Gun.” The headline violated mainstream media protocol by being completely true while running counter to the leftist narrative. The two straight white people had in fact been killed by a mentally ill black gay Obama supporter who saw micro-aggressions everywhere and played the race card whenever he could.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Not all black gay Obama supporters are homicidal maniacs. Many of them are perfectly nice people who just want to go about their business the same as you and me. It’s totally unfair to judge all of them by the actions of one sick individual. That’s probably why ABC News is withholding portions of the killer’s lengthy manifesto. It is the responsibility of every mainstream news organization to release only that information that is good for people to know and keeps them in line with leftist thinking. Otherwise, each American might run around loose making up his own mind. And we wouldn’t want that.

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Fight Like A Girl

August 28th, 2015 - 6:32 am
Hey, this is actually pretty funny. From comedienne Amy Schumer: a dojo on how to do emotional battle with the theoretically weaker sex.

Summer Movie Update, with Coming Attractions

August 26th, 2015 - 11:07 am

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Ant-Man‘s not bad at all! Marvel’s smallest super hero doesn’t exactly deliver an epic, but he manages to produce a smart, humorous, emotionally sound and exciting addition to the summer super-hero genre. Paul Rudd has mastered the art of being likable, and Michael Douglas has inherited Paul Newman’s mantle of onscreen class: the moment he walks on, everyone else just seems to be in a lesser league. (The coolest part of the film is the flashback to Douglas’s younger self. Some real CGI magic. Wish they could do it in real life!) Lost girl Evangeline Lilly should probably sue the producers for making that sweet face of hers look almost forbidding, but never mind, it’s a good part and she does it well. The smartest thing the filmmakers did is rely on the human interactions to make the story work. They let the theme of father-daughter relationships play out at length before getting down to the ant-sized action. The reason this is such a masterstroke is that Ant-Man just isn’t that interesting as a superhero. Watching a dude shout, “Come on, gang, let’s get em!” to a bunch of ants…  just not that cool. The Thomas the Tank Engine train set chase is fun though. It’s all fun. A nice evening out, especially with kids. (They use the s-word twice. Normally I wouldn’t care, but I thought it unnecessary in a picture so otherwise suitable for 10-year-olds.)

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Jared, Ashley and the Innocent Dead

August 24th, 2015 - 12:02 pm

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Those who regularly read this blog will probably be able to guess my first reaction to the news of Jared Fogle’s arrest for sex crimes: “I’ll never feel quite the same about ordering a six inch at Subway again.” But the more I thought about it, the more the whole story seemed almost Biblical to me. One could imagine the Lord saying to this shmoe: “Jared, you have no discernible talent and you’re neither good looking nor terribly intelligent. So to prove my omnipotence to the nations, I am going to make you rich and famous. No need to thank me, just don’t have sex with any children.” And I hear there are some people who still don’t believe in original sin!

My reaction to the Ashley Madison hack was similarly detached. I actually had to search “Ashley Madison” to remind myself what it was. When the site came up, I was, like, “OMG, how do I erase this search before my wife finds it???” No, I’m joking. My wife knows I’m her love slave. It’s pitiful. But it keeps me off Ashley Madison!

My whole life I’ve felt indifferent to other people’s sex lives. It’s my nature. I just don’t care. When I was a little kid, I saw a gay couple at a grown up party. I asked my father about it. He told me — what was not bigotry then but the best wisdom of the time — that it was a sort of mental illness. I shrugged and said, “They’re not hurting anybody.” Which was not the wisdom of the time at all! The only exceptions to my laissez faire attitude are the condemnatory anger I feel at those who break up marriages with still-at-home children, and, of course, at those who rape, which includes the seduction of children and the use of animals, neither of whom have the wherewithal to give informed consent. In both cases, it’s not the sex per se that bothers me. It’s the destruction of something sacred and irreplaceable for the sake of sex: a child’s moral universe; a fellow creature’s self sovereignty.

Otherwise, judgementalism when it comes to sex is just plain bad for you. It’ll leave you pompous, frustrated and angry. Because the thing is, as a social system, sex doesn’t work. Women, as a rule, want affection and commitment; men want variety. Both genders are turned on by things that aren’t good for them. Both have fantasies that would be disastrous if played out in real life. In men, the drive is so urgent, we will sell out our most deeply held convictions for the briefest of empty pleasures. In women, the drive is so entangled with emotion they will follow an absolute schmuck into the fires of hell. And when it comes to sexual crime, every single one of us has the motive. Sure, a guy like me graced with a loving marriage can afford to feel pretty snazzy about himself. But don’t get smug. The urge remains Dionysian. Pass judgement on your fellow male or female today, tomorrow you may be the one to find yourself on the front page of the New York Post being led away in handcuffs with a jacket over your head.

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Ben Shapiro vs Planned Parenthood

August 21st, 2015 - 10:25 am

Ben Shapiro and I are each launching a new video series this week and next. Ben comes out swinging first with the lead-off edition of HardWire. Watch with caution. Ben goes at Planned Parenthood with his usual take-no-prisoners honesty and the result ain’t exactly musical comedy.

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My own video contribution, LiveWire, is due to start next week.

Conservative Pundits Gone Wild

August 19th, 2015 - 10:51 am

The mighty-yet-lovable Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit (and believe me, it’s no small trick being both mighty and lovable, as I well know!) frequently remarks about climate alarmists, “I’ll believe it’s a crisis when they start acting like it’s a crisis.” Which is to say, if these alarmist clowns really thought there was a globe-threatening disaster looming, they wouldn’t be flying around in private jets, buying energy-sucking mansions near the perilously rising sea, or selling their TV stations for big oil money.

Well, as far as I’m concerned, the same Insta-principle applies to conservatives. For the past six years, I’ve heard nothing from conservatives but despair and woe over the lawless perfidy of the Obama regime. The republic is falling — has fallen! The Constitution is in shreds! Liberty is a thing of the past! Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world! My alternative theory — that Obama is a hapless schmuck who can’t see his own slapstick failures because he (one) suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder and (b) is protected by a corrupt news media — has been repeatedly shouted down as way too rosy. I’m a fool to think the president is merely a Bozo who has created a terrible mess that will take at least a decade to clean up — so conservatives tell me — when it’s clear he’s actually an Alinskyite super-genius Islamist sleeper agent who has masterfully undermined the very fabric of our democracy.

So okay, answer me this: If our republic is in such crisis because of Obama and his fellow travelers, why are conservatives currently launching vicious personal attacks against…  other conservatives??? For the past week or so, I’ve been seeing our pundits — people I know, respect and like — saying the ugliest things imaginable about one another and about some of the Republican candidates. This is not a matter of disagreeing. We’re freedom-loving Americans. We’re supposed to disagree and argue our sides without fear or favor. But this is dark-alley-knife-fight crap. Disgraceful, low insults I wouldn’t even hurl at…  well, at a Democrat! I won’t be specific. I won’t call out these people I like and admire so much. But the folks who read PJM are politically savvy enough to know who and what I’m talking about — and so are the people slinging the mud.

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Science Plus Politics Equals Politics

August 17th, 2015 - 4:37 pm

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“In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win,” wrote Ayn Rand. And, with considerably more charm, Mark Steyn wrote, “It’s a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog feces and mix ’em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former.”

Nowhere are these axioms more true than in the field of science. Science — that process of hypothesis, observation and experimentation by which humans understand the workings of material things — mixed with just about anything becomes more of that other thing than itself. Mix science with theology, for instance, and you have theology.  If you strip Richard Dawkins of his eloquence and undoubted scientific erudition, his argument against the existence of God can be restated like this: “Gawrsh, Mickey, it looks random to me, so I guess it’s random, uh-huh.”

Likewise, if you mix science with meddling overbearing government, you get meddling overbearing government. Note these recent stories about nutrition. The scientists who help compose the federal nutritional guidelines that govern what goes into subsidized school lunches have finally admitted that eating cholesterol — as in eggs, say — doesn’t actually increase your cholesterol, and skipping breakfast, well known to make people fat, doesn’t make people fat. At the same time, the researcher who once found important evidence for the existence of gluten sensitivity recently proved pretty much beyond a doubt that gluten sensitivity (barring celiac disease) doesn’t actually exist. 

Put all these discoveries together and what you realize is that when a meddlesome overbearing government fronted by Michelle Obama mandates school lunches that are universally decried as “gross” by people who eat school lunches, that’s not science — it’s just meddling overbearing government.

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Mission Impossible: How It’s Done

August 14th, 2015 - 5:04 pm

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is virtually a handbook on how to make a big summer action picture. Everything that Mad Max: Fury Road got wrong, it gets right. Openly silly and fun, the fifth MI installment milks its superstar and attractive co-stars and deluxe locations for all they’re worth. It constructs a plot that somehow gets you to stop asking questions after the first ten minutes (the bad guys are doing… what again?). It delivers broad emotional arcs without ever taking itself seriously. And, maybe most impressively — and most unlike Mad Max — it provides a female action character you can believe in, albeit in the unbelievable world of the picture. (ProTip: the secret is in those long, long legs.)

Of course, none of this works if you don’t have a star of the magnitude of Tom Cruise, which means you have to have Tom Cruise because, at this point, there is no other star of his magnitude. The guy has been at the top of his game for over thirty years, which is more than three times the normal run. But he’s still likable and real even when, as in this, he’s completely unreal. They really don’t seem to make em like him anymore.

Kudos to Christopher McQuarrie, of Usual Suspects and Edge of Tomorrow fame, who wrote and directed with a story assist from Drew Pearce, who had a writing credit on Iron Man 3. It really is a master class in the genre. Great summer fun.