Cat-calling, free speech, and the continued cannibalization of the Left
The National Review has an excellent piece out by Charles Cooke on that video about catcalls that recently went viral (if you haven’t seen it yet, or don’t know what it is, here, and get out from under that rock). The article highlights well the continued crisis that Leftist circles have been in since the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Aside from continuing to defend the likes of Fidel Castro at the superficial, political level, the intellectual depravity of the Left is on full display thanks to the work of the people who made the video. Here is Cooke, for instance, on one of the more popular versions of the Left’s criticism of the video; the one arguing that most of the men – who were largely black or Latino – catcalling the girl were forced into doing so simply because of the white power structure in place (no seriously):
To contend that the minorities depicted in the video are mere victims of circumstance and that they have been forced by their conditions into badgering innocent women on the street is to contend that those minorities lack agency, intelligence, sensitivity, and the capacity to reason — that they are child-like figures who act on their base instincts and who need excusing and explaining by their betters. Oddly enough, it is also to contend that the victim was either a “white gentrifier” herself, or a proxy for white gentrifiers, and that she therefore deserved the treatment she received. This presumption, it should go without saying, is typically anathema to the arbiters of feminist thought. One cannot help but wonder whether, weighed down by their own contradictions, the champions of “empowerment” have at last become what they despise themselves?
Eastern Europe knows these contradictions well. It’s a damn shame more Westerners don’t. Here is Cooke again, on the attempt by the organization (“Hollaback”) to defend free speech by advocating legislation that would ban catcalling:
The case for a robust — almost impregnable — protection of freedom of speech stands on its own and applies to all people. It is as tyrannical an act to prosecute a rich man for his utterances as it is to target a poor one. Nevertheless, should Hollaback get its way and provoke the passage of an anti-cat-calling law, it would likely be the poor who would bear the brunt of its force. Such rules would be enforced capriciously, and those without power would find themselves hauled into court more than those with connections. As has been demonstrated by the new anti–“rape culture” rules that are sweeping the nation’s college campuses, there is always a price to illiberalism, and that price is often paid by a downtrodden and less powerful group. As kindly as possible, I would recommend that if anybody believes that the problem of unwanted male attention warrants the infringement of the First Amendment, they should re-examine their priorities.
Again, the entire piece is well worth the read. I’ve only highlighted the general issues Cooke takes up with the video controversy, but his work pointing out how the Left is essentially eating itself is quite lucid.
In some ways, the post-socialist Left has remained relevant since the fall of the Berlin Wall, as the growing-in-number anti-“rape culture” rules highlighted above attest, but in the most general, important way, the Left continues to become more and more irrelevant as its ethnic and gender elements contextualize and re-contextualize themselves into irrelevancy. At the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of individuals and nobody should get special treatment because of the color of their skin or the thing between their legs. The fact that humanity has a long history of doing just this – awarding special privileges to some at the expense of the many – is both a) a testament to the radicalism and the simple brilliance of libertarianism, and b) a really, really good reason not to continue to pursue policies that do just that (even if such policies are meant to correct past injustices).*
It’s also nice to see that the Right-wing National Review is becoming more libertarian when it comes to issues of race and gender. I also see the Clintonian Left becoming slightly more libertarian (thanks in large part, I think, to the realization of what Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid have been doing to our purchasing power parity).
* I support some kind of reparations system, here in the US, for stolen land and stolen labor but this has nothing to do with skin color or gender when you think about it.