The Part of Yourself You Used to Own

The media world passed a milestone of sorts when the British tabloid The Sun decided to discontinue its "Page 3" topless photo feature thus "delighting the legion of critics who have branded the photos of bare-breasted models sexist, offensive and anachronistic".  Welcome to 2015, when hardly a day passes without some new stricture against smoking, drinking, ogling pretty girls or speech.  It is as if we were back in the days of Queen Victoria, with all the prohibitions against demon rum, devil lust, swearing and  blasphemy being reinstated under other names.

The West flatters itself by thinking it lives in a world of tolerance and individual freedom. Recently Marine Le Pen wrote an op-ed in the New York Times extolling the virtues of "laïcité, France’s distinctive form of secularism" which in contrast to the strange taboos of religious fanatics, liberates the human spirit. But the distinction between the two is rapidly becoming a sham.  To an ever-greater degree the "free man" of the West is an unarmed, frightened, policed and browbeaten cipher whose first reaction to any crisis is to 'shelter in place'.

Through some strange process which doubtless some French sociologist will soon explain, our vaunted secular society is progressively reviving every taboo found in religions past or present as if we were experiencing some global religious revival without even the benefit of having a God.  It's like a joke, and it's on us.

We are far along the road. Already we've reintroduced sackcloth and ashes, in the form of Green Living.  We purchase indulgences in the form of carbon credits. Our daily lives are now being prescribed to the minutest detail of acceptability not on the basis of divine revelation or ethical teaching, but because some politician or celebrity said it must be thus.  We do this even as we congratulate ourselves for being free of religious cant when in fact we are as full of it as ever.

Consider the piteous regard that liberal, enlightened newspapers have for the members of Christian Health Ministries, who share the cost of medical treatment among their members.  The liberal papers readily admit the arrangement provides a much smaller monthly bill than Obamacare, but are full of contempt for the Christian rules of "clean living" its members must observe in order to keep this pool low-risk.  To join a health sharing ministry "certain conditions are excluded, particularly those that arise as the result of a lifestyle that does not meet the guidelines of the organization, such as drug or alcohol abuse, or extramarital sex."  Tut tut.

Yet the supposedly secular Obamacare is just as full of "Wellness" provisions  as any Christian Health Ministry.  The Wellness programs punish disapproved lifestyle choices with heavy financial penalties. The American Interest writes: "pretty soon your mom might not be the only one nagging you to quit smoking or lose weight—and it won’t stop at nagging. As the NYT reports, workplace penalties for non-participation in wellness programs are on the rise. The ACA gave employers more freedom to offer rewards or penalties in order to make their employee pools less of an insurance risk, and apparently they’re running with it."

Reuters says the trend is wellness -- or else. "For some companies, however, just signing up for a wellness program isn't enough. They're linking financial incentives to specific goals such as losing weight, reducing cholesterol, or keeping blood glucose under control. The number of businesses imposing such outcomes-based wellness plans is expected to double this year to 46 percent, the survey found.  'Wellness-or-else is the trend,"' said workplace consultant Jon Robison of Salveo Partners."

The difference between the lifestyle commitment of a Christian Health Ministry and an Obamacare Wellness Program is the spelling.  That and the fact that you don't have to join the former, but increasingly have no choice about the latter.  There is no escape. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. For example, Jose Pagliery of CNN reports that the administration is sharing your health data with third party providers.

Healthcare.gov, the federal website where you sign up for Obamacare, is quietly sharing your personal information with private companies.

The evidence is in the computer code on the website itself. It shows that Healthcare.gov is relaying certain information, such as your zip code, income level, pregnancy status and whether or not you smoke....

That information is being shared with several third parties. DoubleClick is a Google (GOOG) subsidiary that serves up advertisements and tracks your movements online. Healthcare.gov also shares your data with Google, Twitter (TWTR, Tech30), Yahoo (YHOO, Tech30), YouTube and others....

The Associated Press was the first to report these details on Tuesday.

Because when the government pays for your healthcare the government will have ownership over your health records; if not now then soon and for always. The Lowell Sun writes "By now, no one in this country should have any expectation of privacy, especially when accessing the Internet."

However, in light of the Sony hacking scandal and the president's call for stronger cybersecurity measures to protect consumers, it's disturbing to note that dozens of data companies are allowed to troll the government's own health-insurance website, unbeknown to the millions of Americans who have signed up for Obamacare.

Transfats are the new haram.  And Wellness is the new temperance. Ed Driscoll asks the crucial question when he wonders, ‘Why is Beheading Always in the News, is This Really 2015?’

Yes it really is 2015 and the only mistake is to imagine that beheading is not part of the 21st century.  We are living in the most cult-ridden age of the last 100 years. The most telling sign is the cascading collapse of the distinction between God and Caesar -- which as I will argue in a moment is the distinction between private and public life.

Once upon a time most people were familiar with the words "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's". These old white people's words which nobody reads any more are the foundations of privacy. They are the thing without which secularism is impossible. That boundary is necessary for the kingdom of the private to exist; it is  the charter of the "not of this world", into which Caesar may not intrude without just cause.

"And they were amazed at Him," it says in Mark, as Jesus drew the distinction. Without a private world no true faith can survive. The only thing which can flourish in a world totally owned by a Caesar is a cult.  One of the things that Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and authentic secularism share is the need for a place where the state cannot go.  When Jesus taught "my kingdom is not of this world," he was incidentally marking off the realm of  freedom. By contrast the dogma of modern political correctness is founded on opposite maxim: "all your base are belong to us."

For freedom and secularism to survive it ironically needs a  "kingdom not of this world"  -- the universe of privacy, where the do-gooders operating at the behest of some political messiah have no business intruding. Without privacy, there is no freedom. The First, Second and Fourth Amendment are mutually interlocking intellectual structures. Absent these "negative rights" we will descend into a kind of religious obscurantism, made all the more bizarre for the fact that is  as full of scrupulous observance as it is empty of transcendence.

Kevin Williamson in the National Review argued we are now witnessing the abolition of private life. Citing the black brunch protesters who are determined to invade spaces where behavior they don't approve of may be going on, Williamson says "the message these protests send is that there is no private space — and, therefore, no private life — so far as this particular rabble is concerned."

But Williamson stops short of giving that rabble its true name.  The leftist mobs perform the function which in a strict Islamic society would be fulfilled by the mutaween or religious police. That's exactly what they are and there are ever more of them each day.

The mutaween circulate among us endlessly, looking at the third page of the paper you're perusing, checking the spread of your legs as you ride the subway, parsing your words for forbidden phrases, investigating suspicious Greek fraternities, ensuring the requisite Wellness, retaining all the data passing through your ISP to be sure you have had no impure thoughts recently, even as they remind you that "yes means no" -- all the while denying that there is an ultimate meaning to anything. Why all this busyness? Well that's the irony. They don't even know why.

Well, just because.

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