Ed Driscoll

In Soviet America, Bourgeois Shocks You!

Having just come back from a routine Kaiser visit in the Bay Area, in which I was greeted by a chubby distaff receptionist with more tattoos on her arms than Brian Setzer and multiple facial piercings, this recent post by David Thompson on the rapidly growing demand for surgical procedures to remove such disastrous life choices as large visible tattoos and enormous “flesh tunnel” stretched ear lobes certainly hits home:

And this chap here, he’s upset too:

Until you know that person, you have no right to criticise, judge or alter the life chances for them. Those who make decisions about the future of others based only on appearance, are themselves the shallowest of people, and do not deserve to have such a position of influence.

You see, he should be free to deform his anatomy into eye-catchingly unattractive shapes, thereby announcing his heroic radicalism and disdain for bourgeois norms, entirely without consequence. But you mustn’t be free to run your business without him, regardless of whatever message he’s chosen to send via the medium of disfigured earlobes. No bad decision that he makes must ever “alter his life chances” because… well, obviously, it’s all your fault.

But it works both ways: if you’re going to visibly mutilate yourself for the purpose of what the French dubbed épater le bourgeois almost a century and a half ago, you’ve explicitly removed yourself from societal norms by thumbing — and/or piercing — your nose at them. Phrases such as “not judging a book by its cover,” courtesy, and tolerance towards diversity are also all commonly held bourgeois values, which you’ve renounced with a bullhorn. Why shouldn’t you expect society to return the favor?