Belmont Club


The Hill explains how rules are just guidelines:

CNN’s Candy Crowley, the moderator of Tuesday night’s presidential debate, plans to disregard the rules the campaigns signed on to and wield more control in the conversation between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

Tuesday night’s debate at Hofstra University in New York, the second presidential showdown, will be a townhall organized around audience questions. The Obama and Romney campaigns agreed in advance on rules specific to the town-hall format that rule out “follow up questions” and “comment” by the moderator.

But Crowley never signed such an agreement, and told CNN in an interview on Tuesday that she plans on “facilitating a discussion” by asking follow-up questions and pressing when necessary for a response.

It’s too bad that not all of us are as fortunate as Crowley. Most mortals have to abide by agreements. But then we’re not her.

Meanwhile 3 of the 5 men who plotted the September 11, 2001 attackers were allowed not to attend their court hearings and to wear special clothing, including camouflage items as tokens of their status as warriors so long as the items were not a US military uniform. The AP reports:

lawyers for the men said the threat of forcible removal from their cells would be psychologically damaging for men who had been brutalized while held by the CIA in secret overseas prisons before being taken to Guantanamo in September 2006 …

Saudi defendant Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi and Pakistani national Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, a nephew of Mohammed, also chose to boycott the hearing. Neither provided any reason for their absence but a lawyer for al-Aziz Ali had said on Monday that his client’s father had recently died in Kuwait and he was grieving for him….

Mohammed and bin Attash had wanted to wear camouflage clothing in the courtroom at their May arraignment, apparently to portray themselves as soldiers, but the prison commander refused to allow it. The judge ruled they could wear some camouflage items as long as they were not U.S. military uniforms.

Back in the day the response might have been “you’ve got some nerve”. Today nobody dares say that to the killers of thousands. They have what is called moral ascendancy, also known as occupying the moral high ground, which is the condition of being better, more virtuous or being upon a higher plane than others.

There is no obvious way to challenge self-designated moral superiors except to tell them, rather rudely, to shut up.

But Mitt Romney is probably too polite to tell the Crowley that she ought to abide by the rules.  That would be an offense in itself, especially coming from a Republican.

In the case of three men who killed thousands of people in New York the judge is probably reluctant to make them to toe the line to avoid raising charges of racism and Islamophobia. The judge doesn’t want another “video” on his hands. There’s no telling what consulate might be burned down next and it will be his fault. In an age where religion is supposedly in decline the power of “moral ascendancy” and fear of blasphemy is stronger than ever.

But it is only stronger for the Left and Islam. Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Mormons and Rotarians need not apply. No ordinary person can invoke moral ascendancy. That privilege belongs to gays, lesbians, Eric Hobsbawm and Jimmy Savile. What is it about them that gives them this power?

Jimmy Savile was a British Broadcasting star for many years who was later revealed to be a serial pedophile. He told his victims ‘Nobody would believe you anyway – I’m King Jimmy’.” Savile is now dead. But his former employer the BBC is being asked why, given the number of victims and the BBC people who now admit they knew, how it tolerated this person for so long.

Answer: he was a celebrity. As to Hobsbawm, an apologist for mass murderers,  answer: he was on the Left. Therefore he ‘meant well’.

Damien Thompson thinks “moral ascendancy” isn’t quite the right word. The proper term is “entitlement”. What we are watching in Candy Crowly and among Jihadists is an exercise in aristocratic right. They have appointed themselves our overlords and are merely acting in the manner. This two-tier behavior was quite common in feudal times. Hanging was capital punishment for commoners and beheading for the aristocracy.  One reason why the French invented the guillotine was to ensure, in accordance with egalite that everyone was decapitated equally in style. Thompson writes:

When the death of the historian Eric Hobsbawm was announced this week, BBC reports noted admiringly that his works were “shaped by his commitment to radical socialism”. The fact that this commitment extended to ideological support for Communist mass murder was obscured and excused. “He was too shrewd, too open-minded to pursue a narrow Marxist approach in his work or his politics,” explained a correspondent.

Yes, and Sir Jimmy Savile was too shrewd to exploit underage girls. Or so the BBC was still implying until an ITV documentary on Wednesday forced it to confront the testimony of Savile’s accusers….

It’s true that the word “entitlement” has been flung around a lot recently … but it could equally be applied to Britain’s public sector, of which the BBC forms a well-nourished part.

Anyone who has complained to the BBC about bias is used to the experience of being flicked away like dandruff on a Whitehall mandarin’s suit. … Did they feel that tabloid scrutiny was beneath the dignity of the institution?

The BBC should remember that, when the Catholic Church was unable to answer similar questions, it lost the support of many of its most devoted adherents. Bias is one thing, but you can’t swat away allegations of covering up apparent paedophilia, however strong your sense of entitlement.

Yes you can swat away allegations. You just fly to Lima and from that great distance you can cover up anything. Today’s institutions are so distant, so powerful they believe they need reckon with nothing. One thing they have going for them is crowd has accepted them as overlords.

Entitled institutions will remember nothing until they experience the consequences of that other vintage word: “outcry”. Outcry is a mob word. It comes from the clamor of a crowd which realizes its been swindled, lied to or betrayed. In the small cities of an older agrarian world, the word outcry was intimately connected with tar, feathers and fence rails. It is gone from public discourse. What remains of it is blunted by layers of lawyers, spin cycles and bureaucracy.  The power of outcry has to be brought back somehow, without the unruly mob. But the question is how?

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