Foolishness watch: Could hell really be apricot cocktails?

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2016

And other provocative thoughts:
"Hell is other people?" Is there any chance that's true?

The provocative phrase is drawn from Huis Clos (No Exit), Sartre's provocative 1944 play. Last week, a provocative young philosophy lecturer adapted Sartre's provocative phrase, using it as a way to discuss the Brexit vote.

"Hell is Other Britons," he provocatively wrote. Needless to say, the New York Times scrambled to put his people-hating essay into print.

Tom Whyman seemed to say he'd like England better if it contained no people! His provocative stylings sent us back to our most recent book about Sartre. We refer to Sarah Bakewell's provocative tome, which carries this eye-catching title:

"At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails"

Sadly, you read that right. As she starts, Bakewell says that the provocative philosophy known as existentialism got its start in 1933 over some apricot cocktails. At the mandatory web site, Penguin Random House explains the whole darn thing:
About "At the Existentialist Cafe"

From the best-selling author of How to Live, a spirited account of one of the twentieth century’s major intellectual movements and the revolutionary thinkers who came to shape it.

Paris, 1933: three contemporaries meet over apricot cocktails at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse. They are the young Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and longtime friend Raymond Aron, a fellow philosopher who raves to them about a new conceptual framework from Berlin called Phenomenology. “You see,” he says, “if you are a phenomenologist you can talk about this cocktail and make philosophy out of it!”

It was this simple phrase that would ignite a movement...
Warning: Bakewell holds a philosophy degree from Essex University. That's where Whyman lectures!

So far, none of this lets us know if hell really is other people. For ourselves, we sometimes felt that unintentional comedy is Bakewell's book, which has been reviewed, and taken seriously, by all the usual suspects.

According to Bakewell, what happened when Sartre and the others decided they could make philosophy out of their cocktails? Early on, she helps us see how exciting the new philosophy had become by the early 1940s.

During the French Occupation, an ex-student of Sartre's came to him with a problem—or at least, so Sartre later said. Bakewell relates the story in the first chapter of her book.

The ex-student wanted to cross the border into Spain; he would then move on to England to join the Free French forces in exile and fight the Nazis. But the ex-student was his mother's only means of support. Also, if he disappeared, the occupying German forces might take it out on his mother.

In The Iliad, it was Nestor, the seasoned charioteer, who "always gave the best advice." Bakewell tells us what happened in this instance:
BAKEWELL (page 9): As a last resort, the young man turned to his former teacher Sartre, knowing that from him at least he would not get a conventional answer.

Sure enough. Sartre listened to his problem and said simply, "You are free, therefore choose—that is to say, invent." No signs are vouchsafed in this world, he said. None of the old authorities can relieve you of the burden of freedom. You can weigh up moral or practical considerations as carefully as you like, but ultimately you must take the plunge and do something, and it's up to you what that something is.

Sartre doesn't tell us whether the student felt this was helpful, nor what he decided to do in the end. We don't know whether he existed, or was an amalgam of several young friends or even a complete invention...
There's more, but you get the idea.

"Sartre doesn't tell us whether the student felt this was helpful?" Turnabout being fair play, Bakewell doesn't tell us how the student could have thought it helpful!

("Go back to Bulgaria!" That's what Rick said, when asked for advice, at a key point in Casablanca.)

Presumably, Sartre returned to his apricot cocktails; they form the narrative framework for Bakewell's opening chapter. They made us think of something we were told, long ago, by someone with first-hand experience, who said the great phenomenologist Heidegger had a heart-shaped swimming pool!

Bakewell's book came out in March; we cognoscenti rushed to devour it. Whyman sampled Sartre last week. It was sloshed into print by the Times.

Bullroar like this is all we have in place of a western world discourse. What can anyone do about this? If we understand his thinking correctly, Sartre would say we should choose!

Noble Nestor sighting: You're right! Just last week, PBS mentioned Nestor in Part 1 of its new series, The Greeks.

LOATHING THE OTHERS WELL: Prepared to define The Others as "trash!"

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2016

Part 2—The soul of the pseudo-progressive:
Would anyone but the New York Times ever have published such nonsense?

We refer to the anguished, eliminationist-favored essay by 27-year-old Tom Whyman, a young philosophy lecturer who took last week's Brexit vote rather hard.

Poor Whyman! In Hampshire County, where he summers with his mum, 55 percent of his fellow Brits had voted for Leave. Whyman himself would have voted Remain, had he actually managed to vote.

Displaying familiar contempt for The Others, the narrow win by Leave led Whyman to vilify all his neighbors and all his fellow citizens. He specifically cited the 80-somethings who look at him "with blank stares."

Are we sure he wasn't thinking of the unfortunate teenagers in his philosophy classes?

So upset was Whyman by the vote, in which he didn't himself take part, he imagined a better world, in which all his neighbors were dead, or at least no longer existed. An anguished headline topped his piece:

"Hell is Other Britons," the headline dramatically said.

There's no sign that his New York Times editors knew it, but Whyman was channeling Sartre, the deep-thinking existentialist deep thinker. More specifically, he was channeling an anguished line from Sartre's anguished 1944 dramaturgical work, Huis Clos (No Exit).

Here! We'll let the world's leading authority limn it:
No Exit (French: Huis Clos) is a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre. The original title is the French equivalent of the legal term in camera, referring to a private discussion behind closed doors...

The play is a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity. It is the source of Sartre's especially famous and often misinterpreted quotation "L'enfer, c'est les autres" or "Hell is other people," a reference to Sartre's ideas about the look and the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object in the world of another consciousness.
Hell is other people—presumably, all other people! That's the way poor Whyman felt in the wake of the narrow election in which, in best slackistentialist fashion, he himself failed to take part.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, did Whyman find himself caught in the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object in the world of another consciousness? In a sense, but not as such!

At any rate, the New York Times rushed to publish the ridiculous, human-hating madness which had started life as a blog post. And the Times must have loved Whyman's post a great deal. They made the youngster's ludicrous piece the featured essay on the front page of last weekend's hard-copy Sunday Review. Presumably, they dumped some other piece at the last minute, they loved Whyman's essay so much.

(Full disclosure: We were forced to read Huis Clos as a high school senior, part of our French 5 class. At least one local wag rewrote Sartre's famous line at that time. "Hell is being required to read Huis Clos," this local wag thoughtfully said.)

Would anyone but the New York Times have published such an appalling piece? We will guess that the answer is no—but in comments, many Times readers seemed to understand the point of the piece within the New York Times context.

These commenters happily told the world how great the young philosopher's essay was. More specifically, they said the essay reminded them of the hell of the other people in the American towns where they had been forced to grow up.

Progressives, can we talk? In the context of the New York Times, Whyman's essay was an attack on Those People, The Others, the sluggard white working class.

Holding contempt for such people has long been a prominent part of pseudo-progressive culture. Such open contempt lies at the soul of the foppish Times and its low-IQ, self-impressed readers.

There's a long history here. In the 1950s, Hollywood films of William Inge scripts helped the world understand that everyone in the Midwest was crazy. See, for example, Splendor in the Grass and Picnic.

(We especially recommend Rosalind Russell's especially crazy breakdown in Picnic.)

At the same time, Hollywood films of Tennessee Williams and Erskine Caldwell scripts helped us see that everyone in the white South was crazy. (We especially recommend Baby Doll and God's Little Acre.) The mentality behind such works produced a famous moment in December 1972, when Times film critic Pauline Kael expressed surprise that Nixon had won the White House again.

“I live in a rather special world," Kael was quoted saying, by her own New York Times. "I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

She didn't say that she could smell them. But an extremist would say that she was tilting that way.

Existentialists, please! Disdain for the white working class is a long-standing staple of pseudoliberal culture. We'll guess that the New York Times saw its spirit in Whyman's human-hating piece, in which he announced that his home town is "my own personal hell;" that "you will find the demons crawling" if you examine life in that town; and, most gloriously, that "Hell is Other Britons."

Among the right-thinking philosopher class, contempt for The Others can run very strong where The Others are the white working-class. Consider a book review in last Wednesday's New York Times.

The review was written by Dwight Garner, a perfectly reasonable New York Times book reviewer. The new book bears a daring, provocative title:

"White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America"

The new book is by Professor Isenberg of LSU. We often marvel at her political pieces in the new improved Salon. We soon found ourselves puzzled by aspects of her new book.

As he started his review, Garner indicated that Isenberg's sentiments lay with the lower-income whites whose history she was writing. More specifically, it seemed that Isenberg was writing in protest of the way this group has been reviled down through American history.

That said, we were soon puzzled by some quotations from Isenberg's book—by this one, for example:
GARNER (6/22/16): America did not develop a House of Lords, yet we imported the rigging of the British class system, Ms. Isenberg argues. This was hardly a land of equal opportunity. Brutal labor awaited most migrants. There was little social mobility.

“Puritan religious faith did not displace class hierarchy, either; the early generations of New Englanders did nothing to diminish, let alone condemn, the routine reliance on servants or slaves,” she observes. “Land was the principal source of wealth, and those without any had little chance to escape servitude. It was the stigma of landlessness that would leave its mark on white trash from this day forward.”
It would leave its mark on white trash, full stop? White trash, with no scare quotes around the pejorative term?

That seemed like a strange thing to write. But as we continued along, Garner dropped a few similar quotes:
GARNER: From this beginning, Ms. Isenberg moves confidently forward, through, for example, the class issues that undergirded the Civil War and the popular eugenics movement, favored by Theodore Roosevelt, that marked many as targets for sterilization. Slavery and racism are hardly discounted in this book, but she maintains her focus on poor whites.

She singles out North Carolina as “what we might call the first white trash colony.” It was swampy and, thanks to its shoal-filled shoreline, lacked a major port. It had no real planter class. Its citizens were viewed as sluggards, “cowardly Blockheads” in the words of one early writer. Another referred to the state as the lawless “sinke of America.”

[...]

Trailer parks, redolent of “liberty’s dark side,” come under her appraisal, as do movies like “Deliverance.” (She finds its redneck caricatures to be loathsome.) The careers of Dolly Parton, Jimmy Carter, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and Bill Clinton are analyzed. Mr. Clinton’s dalliance with Monica Lewinsky resulted in a spectacle that the author likens to a “white trash outing on the grand national stage.”
Really? We might call North Carolina the white trash colony, full stop? Bill Clinton's affair could be likened to a “white trash outing on the grand national stage?"

We were puzzled by the use of this pejorative in a book by an august professor. And alas! When we got a chance to examine Professor Isenberg's actual book, it seemed to us that she was strangely cavalier in her use of this ugly pejorative.

Her carelessness seemed to have infected her publisher. This text is taken live and direct from the book's dust jacket:

The wretched and landless poor have always been a part of American culture from the time of the earliest British colonial settlements. In her ground-breaking history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg explodes our comforting myths about equality in the land of opportunity, uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present poor white trash.

"The ever-present poor white trash?" That strikes us as unusual language—but at the Penguin Random House web site, the formulation is even stranger.

The lofty publisher refers to, and yes we're quoting, "the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash." That formulation strikes us as deeply strange, and yet as highly familiar.

Darn those poor white trash! They're always embarrassing, if occasionally entertaining! So of course are the pseudo-progressives who produce the weekly Sunday Review, perhaps the most foppish Sunday section American journalism has ever produced.

"Hell is Other [People]," a rather peculiar young Brit declared. The New York Times rushed his craziness into print.

Reading comments, it seemed to us that readers had discerned the message. The finer folk always seem to know what people like Whyman have meant.

Tomorrow: Hell is the white working class

Later today: Deep-thinking Sartre's apricot cocktails

LOATHING THE OTHERS WELL: Philosopher loathes The Others well!

TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2016

Part 1—The soul of the New York Times:
Tom Whyman, age 27, had a rough go of it Thursday.

Whyman summers in Alresford, by which he seems to mean this small town and civil parish in the City of Winchester district of Hampshire, England, as opposed to Alresford, Essex.

Whyman summers there with his parents; this seems to trigger his loathing of everyone else on the face of the Earth. We say this based upon Whyman's account of what happened to him last week.

Still being perhaps a bit of a slacker, Whyman had failed to make arrangements to cast his Brexit vote in Alresford, the beautiful town where he summers. For this reason, his time was wasted on trains last Thursday, and he never quite managed to vote.

That said, Whyman hadn't shown much interest in Brexit until Jo Cox was killed. Did we mention the fact that Whyman may possibly still be a bit of a slacker?

In the ridiculous piece which headed the New York Times' Sunday Review this weekend, Whyman described his ennui-flavored lack of engagement in best existentialist fashion. Only the New York Times, no one else, would publish such manifest crap:
WHYMAN (6/26/16): Since my late teens, every effort I have ever exerted has been with the intention of escaping Alresford. And yet, I am an early-career academic and so I am forced to move back, every summer, to live with my parents because I cannot afford to pay rent elsewhere after my temporary teaching contract ends. Then, sometimes, I think: What if I’m actually secretly comfortable here? What if I have chosen the security of death in Alresford over the risks of life elsewhere? What if I am in fact fully in the clutches of Alresfordism?

It was for psychological reasons, as much as anything else, that I didn’t register to vote in Alresford. Registering to vote here would have felt like actually moving here. I registered in Essex, where I live during the academic year, for the recent local elections, so I just thought I’d retain that registration for the Brexit referendum. I also don’t like filling in forms, which is why I didn’t register to vote by mail or look into how I’d amend my registration.

I admit that I was very complacent about all this. I didn’t think one vote would make a difference. And besides, I wasn’t particularly motivated to use my vote anyway. Brexit, supported by some very bad people, would definitely have some bad consequences, but on the other hand, who knows what positive effects it might have? I wasn’t willing to endorse it, but, hey, I certainly bought the argument that it might be a worthwhile shake-up to the system.

My complacency lasted until June 16, when Jo Cox, a Labour member of Parliament and a vocal defender of immigration, was killed;
the man charged in her death, Thomas Mair, had ties to far-right groups and introduced himself in court by the name “death to traitors.” That shocked me into a realization that this referendum wasn’t really a referendum about whether or not we should remain in the European Union. It was a referendum on immigration and on race—on whether to have our borders open or closed.
Do we detect the hint of a tonal borrowing from Camus? Whyman, you see, isn't just any "early-career academic." According to the New York Times, he's a "lecturer in philosophy at the University of Essex."

By his own more specific description, he's "a philosopher who works at the University of Essex. In my day-to-day life, I do research about (and teach) critical theory, German Idealism, and ethical naturalism. This blog is a place where I publish what I guess I would call ‘cultural criticism’. Philosophy is the most serious thing of all, but in order to meet the immense stupidity of reality today, it cannot confine itself to pretensions of academic seriousness."

Do we detect the hint of a borrowing from Camus? In part, we ask because the title of Whyman's revealing piece—"Hell is Other Britons"—is a reference to immortal Sartre, as we'll note below.

At any rate, you can detect the hint of the slacker in Whyman's account of his emergence as a despairing anti-Brexit hard-liner. Two weeks ago, he didn't much care one way or the other! By Sunday, he was condemning the whole human race, over the result of a vote in which he didn't take part.

You may think we're exaggerating about his alleged condemnation of the whole human race. Surely, you will think, this young philosopher issued no such blanket denunciation—and if he did, the New York Times certainly wouldn't have published such a manifesto.

In fact, that is precisely where Whyman was led by his existential despair concerning a topic he didn't care about until June 16 or later. Inevitably, the outcome of the Brexit vote has filled him with loathing for The Others, pretty much for the whole human race.

He seems to want them all to die, or at least to disappear. Here's part of what he wrote this Sunday. It stems from his vast existential despair about the place where he grew up and summers:
WHYMAN: My parents’ house stands in the middle of a 1980s housing development of suburban ugliness, all detached red-brick blocks and generously proportioned driveways. There is not supposed to be nature in the suburbs, but in Alresford (pronounced AWLS-fud) nature is still powerful—every year the grass at the top of the road will suddenly grow tall, and fill with wildflowers, hedgehogs, little birds of delirious and unusual colors. Every morning the birds wake you up at 4 with a chorus of hoots and trills.

But no sooner has nature started to assert itself than the grass gets cut back and the mornings return to being silent and still. Alresford becomes human again. Human in a normal, provincial English way, in a place where people own homes, save for pensions and vote to leave the European Union—as 55 percent of the population of Hampshire county did on Thursday.

Sometimes, in the summer, I walk up the hill and I look out over it, the housing development on one side and the Georgian town center at the bottom of the other, and I have this fantasy image of how it once was, before Alresford was founded in the Middle Ages, when all of this was untouched: just the wild, untamed nature that it keeps wanting to turn itself back into. And sometimes, I think: I wish that would happen. Because all that humans have ever done here is ruin things.

Alresford is my personal hell.
Whyman doesn't seem to like the fact that Alresford is "human." More specifically, fifty-five percent of the people in Hampshire County disagreed with the judgment he only recently reached about Brexit, and he seems to be taking it hard.

The town in which mummy and daddy live "is my personal hell," Whyman explained in his anguished essay. As he continued, he sketched his loathing of The Others in crazier, ugly detail:
WHYMAN (continuing directly): We are not used to thinking that a place like this—a pleasant town with a pretty center—might actually be hell. There is almost no poverty and only the occasional act of violence. There are good schools, a range of shops, a heritage railway. In fact, it’s somewhere that a lot of people, apparently, actively want to live: Houses in the center easily sell for upward of a million pounds. (What they will cost once the vote to leave the European Union makes the economy crater remains to be seen.)

But dig below the surface, and you will find the demons crawling. You can see them in the looks that residents give you when they pass; sneering snobs glaring down their noses with entitlement; small-minded townies, bullying you with eyes that you recognize from the primary school lunchroom; the old people, 80 and above, wearing blank stares. You can hear it in their bothered tutting at the bus stop (especially if they ever hear a visitor mispronouncing the name of the town), the shots that constantly ring out from across the countryside as they set about murdering as many of the local pheasants as they can.
Whyman can see "the demons crawling" everywhere in the personal hell he's too lazy to abandon. More specifically, Whyman can see "the demons crawling" when he looks at The Others.

Forty-five percent of the people in his county voted the same way he would have voted, had he managed to vote. But Whyman seems to loathe everyone in his town. An instinctive democrat, he loathes them all the same.

He even loathes the 80-somethings, who he imagines snubbing him through their imagined "blank stares." Newtown may have started like this, a sensible person might think.

By the end of his piece, the philosopher is explicitly wishing that everyone in Alresford would cease to exist. Everyone in all of England, in fact!

"I want a demented, throbbing, fecund nature to overrun this whole country," the disappointed philosopher-king writes at the end of his piece. He wants that demented nature "to overturn the wretched consequences of the laws that we have, in our stupidity, set for ourselves."

As noted, the headline on Whyman's essay says this: "Hell is Other Britons." It's a reference to Sartre's demon-infested Huis Clos (No Exit), in which one of the characters makes the eternal declaration:

"Hell is other people."

More on immortal Sartre tomorrow. For today, let's note what makes Whyman's piece so revealing.

Whyman's cry for the death of all humans started as a blog post. Incredibly but inevitably, the New York Times became aware of the post—and sure enough!

Instead of suggesting that Whyman seek help, the Times decided to publish his piece! ("Sorry for selling out," the philosopher declares.)

Indeed, the Times didn't just publish this slacker's lament; they made it the featured piece on the front page of last weekend's Sunday Review. We'd call that decision revealing.

Whyman is still quite young; we'd be inclined to say he seems depressive, and quite foolish at this point. That said, his loathing and contempt for his neighbors captures a cultural style of the pseudo-left over the past many years.

That cultural style is ugly and self-defeating. On the merits, it's breathtakingly stupid, but it's very much ours.

Sensible people of the left can learn a great deal from the loathing expressed in Whyman's piece. Americans can learn a great deal from the fact that the New York Times published his troubling blog post.

We'll assume that young Whyman is well-intentioned—but on its face, his essay is a paean to loathing and the desire for death. It's also an instructional manual in the loathing of the underclass, The Others, the subhumans who create Whyman's personal Hell.

His piece is all about loathing The Others, us humans. Inevitably, the New York Times rushed to publish the piece on the highest platform it holds.

Tomorrow: Immortal Sartre's apricot cocktails. Also, lessons in loathing "white trash"

Court watch: Ultrasound walks, at least for now!

MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2016

The Court scolds Rachel Maddow:
We were happy to see the Supreme Court strike down the Texas abortion law, which seemed like a fraud on its face.

We were also glad to see the Court let Governor Ultrasound walk, at least for now.

The Court's decision on Ultrasound was unanimous. Let's just say it: The Court delivered a telling blow to the Creeping Maddowism our tribe has been getting sold.

What's involved in the set of beliefs the experts now describe as "Maddowism?" In its essence, Maddowism involves the belief that an accusation is the equivalent of a conviction.

It involves the desire to see everyone sent to jail, especially if they're from the other tribe and you're too self-involved and self-adoring to be able to figure out how to beat them at the ballot box. It involves the desire to see their children humiliated in the process, where possible.

Maddow has been selling this philosophy for years. It's a small, crabbed, unintelligent approach which, in Maddow's case, borders on a type of fanaticism.

Rachel Maddow has never heard of prosecutorial overreach, even as a theoretical possibility. Today, in a unanimous decision, the Court said Maddow was over her skis during the endless segments in which she taught us to hate Ultrasound over a bunch of trivial matters, up to and including the body wash he uses.

Why was Ultrasound allowed to walk? In this passage, the Washington Post's Robert Barnes offers part of the explanation:
BARNES (6/27/16): The McDonnell case stems from more than $175,000 in loans and gifts—a Rolex watch, vacations, partial payments of a daughter’s wedding reception, among them—that the governor and his family received from Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. Williams, the chief executive of Star Scientific, wanted state universities to perform important clinical tests on a dietary supplement the company had developed.

The gifts were not barred by Virginia law, and the tests were not conducted. But federal prosecutors said Williams’s generosity was part of an illegal quid pro quo arrangement. McDonnell’s part of the deal, they said, came in the form of meetings arranged to connect Williams with state officials, a luncheon Williams was allowed to throw at the governor’s mansion to help launch the product, and a guest list Williams was allowed to shape at a mansion reception meant for health-care leaders.
The gifts were not barred by Virginia law! The tests were not conducted! In our view, it's probably a bad idea that Virginia permits such gifts and loans. But Virginia does permit such gifts and loans, and the "payoffs" to Williams were always absurdly trivial.

For that matter, so were the gifts and loans. Some of that $175,000 comes from value imputed to letting McDonnell use Williams' less-than-spectacular vacation home in southwest Virginia for occasional vacations.

Warning! Democratic presidents have been accepting free use of fancier vacation homes since 1993. A lot of pols will end up in jail if we follow the road of unfettered Maddowism, in which a crackpot corporate media star fills our heads with unintelligent, small-minded junk.

Concerning that corporate media star, you might consider this:

Maddow is reportedly paid $7 million per year by her own corporate bag men. When Maddow kept hunting Ultrasound about the price of his body wash, a person who accepts such massive largesse was trying to get a political enemy thrown into jail for pennies on the dollar.

Maddow isn't a public official, of course; she's simply a corporate hack who pretends to do "the news." But make no mistake—there's almost nothing she won't do to please the bosses who bribe her and affect her conduct with that $7 million per year. She's been feeding us liberals ridiculous bullroar for the past several years in exchange for that corporate swag, dumbing us down in the process.

Maddow's money-grubbing corruption dwarfs that of the man she loathes. We were glad to see McDonnell walk, at least for now.

He got to drive a Ferrari one time. On a certain cable news channel, his Javert pockets the moon.

PROVOST/PROFESSORS/TEENAGERS/DOGMA: Ambiguity versus dogma!

MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2016

Conclusion—The provost can't be disturbed:
Was the sentence given to Brock Turner too lenient? Was it much too lenient?

We can't answer your questions. For starters, we aren't fans of punishment culture. We're not sure we've ever been happy to hear that someone is going to jail.

More specifically, we don't know much about sentencing decisions in cases of this general type. Check that! In fact, we don't know anything about sentencing decisions in cases of this general type. Of course, neither do the million fiery pseudo-progressives who signed Professor Dauber's petition to get the local judge fired.

We don't really know what we're talking about. This rarely stops us modern pseudos when we stage one of our hunts.

Alas! We modern pseudo-progressives are highly skilled with our various species of dogma. In this case, our dogma tells us that we mustn't discuss the culture of campus drinking in connection with a case like this, in which a jury found that Turner was guilty of sexual assault.

The intersection between campus drinking and these endless cases is painfully clear. But our dogma tells us we mustn't go there, and we modern pseudo-progressives are happy childish slaves to our various dogmas.

In the current case, our love of dogma and moral dudgeon led us to stage two of our hunts. First, we chased down the college freshman who was convicted of assault.

People can judge that as they wish. After that, more remarkably, we chased down the local judge.

Our perspective on these matters is somewhat different. If we wanted to get a lynch mob running, we'd chase the provost and president first, then inquire about the availability of Stanford's highly august professors.

In modern pseudo-liberal culture, Homey don't play it that way. We tend to go after the little guy while letting august figures slide.

Our love of dogma intersects with our other known skill, our skill at inventing scripted stories replete with heroes and demons. If we have to disappear or invent facts to make our stories less ambiguous, we're typically willing to do it.

If we have to stress irrelevant facts, we're willing to do that too. See this morning's postscript.

Our mainstream press corps has worked in these ways for several decades now. We pseudo-progressives have come to feel that we like this culture too.

As we've read about the current case, we've been struck by the elements which add a bit of ambiguity to the wonderfully admirable outrage we've derived from the application of our various dogmas. Mainstream journalists have tended to skip past these elements as they push for maximum outrage about the outrageous behavior of the local judge.

For ourselves, we'll speak today on behalf of ambiguity. Understanding that others won't follow us there, we'll at least mention these points:

The case of the prior arrest: According to the Los Angeles Times, Turner "was arrested before the sexual assault in an unrelated incident." The on-line version of the report fails to explain that statement. But Rocha and Mejia do at least say this:
ROCHA AND MEJIA (6/10/16): According to prosecutors, Turner and members of his swim team were stopped by a deputy after they were spotting drinking beer on campus and then tried to run away. He was wearing a bright orange tuxedo and smelled of alcohol. Turner wasn’t 21 years old and had a fake driver’s license, according to prosecutors.
This incident occurred in November 2014, two months before the events in which Turner committed the assault. In this prior incident, Turner and others were chased through the Stanford campus because they were drinking beer.

We'll only note that Turner still "wasn't 21 years old" in January 2015, when the fraternity party in question occurred. (In fact, he was still 19.) But so what? At that party, he was served alcohol until his blood alcohol content reached 0.17, more than twice the legal limit for driving a car.

Turner was 19; presumably, serving him that alcohol was illegal. But where a campus policeman once chased him around, now the fraternity proceeded to get him shit-faced drunk, in apparent violation of state law. This is why we'd start by chasing the provost, president and professors around, long before we'd try to launch our death threats at the local judge.

Turner's victim was over 21, but she was served so much alcohol at that party that she was black-out drunk by the time she left (0.25, three times the legal limit). A bar and bar-tender would face legal sanctions for serving her that much booze, then letting her walk out the door. This is why we'd be inclined to chase the provost around in this latest case, along with Stanford's august professors, before we'd to get the tribe sending threats to the judge, who had to sort out the tragic results of this deliberate, enabled mess.

The recommendation of the heroic professor: When we get our lynch mobs running, we quickly create our heroes and demons. This keeps our story on second-grade level, where we prefer to live.

In this case, we invented the heroic professor, Professor Dauber, who was also a long-time family friend of the victim. We'll only note this:

In a letter to the local judge,
Professor Dauber seemed to recommend a sentence of 2-3 years. Beyond that, she seemed to anticipate that Turner, who was 20 years old at sentencing, would serve only a portion of that time.

"If the court adheres to the statutory minimums, Turner will be out of prison by the time he is 22," the heroic professor wrote. "He will have plenty of opportunity to finish his education, put this behind him, and have a second chance at his life."

This heroic professor specializes in the very important matter of sexual assault. She may have done lots of good work in this general area.

We only note that her recommendation was rarely cited by journalists when they helped us gather our rope to chase the local judge. At the Los Angeles Times, Rocha and Mejia framed his unfeeling behavior in this more typical way:
ROCHA AND MEJIA: Turner was convicted in March of three felony counts: assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person.

He was facing a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, while prosecutors asked Persky to sentence him to six years in prison.

Instead, Persky sentenced Turner to six months in county jail
and three years of probation. Turner is likely to serve only half of that sentence due to California’s felony sentencing realignment.
Good work! Readers weren't told that the probation officer had recommended a sentence of 4-6 months. Nor were they told that the heroic professor only seemed to recommend 2-3 years, with less time actually served.

Readers were given a more exciting framework, helping them stoke their glorious anger. The judge could have given him 14 years! Prosecutors asked for six!

This selective presentation helped stoke our fury at the local judge. The death threats began rolling in.

Concerning those letters: The local judge had to assess a selection of letters and statements about the case. Readers were told about the foolishness and the apparent dissembling in two or three of the pro-Turner letters. We weren't told about the possible shortcomings in statements supporting the victim.

If we might borrow from Mr. T, we pity the judge when we see the statements he had to consider. In our view, parts of the letter from the heroic professor were completely foolish, given the circumstance which surrounded the case. In her own statement to the court, the victim discussed her history of drinking in a way which may have been as disingenuous as Turner's discussion of his own prior drinking.

The victim wasn't charged with a crime, of course. Still, we felt sorry for the judge when we saw some of the nonsense he was forced to sift. Because of the dogmas which keep us from discussing the intersection between alcohol abuse and sexual assault, the public never had to hear about any of this.

The protest by the heroic juror: After the local judge announced the disgraceful sentence, a juror stepped forward to protest. He was quickly cast in the role of the heroic juror.

There was no sign that this heroic juror knew his aspic from his elbow when it came to sentencing practices in such cases, but when we get our lynch mobs running, nobody cares about that. Beyond that, might we ask a question?

How did the jury find Turner guilty of "assault with intent to rape?" Even the heroic professor only said this in her letter to the unfeeling judge:

"Had Good Samaritans not intervened, [the victim] likely would have been raped in public."

We're not sure how the professor can feel she knows even that. But "likely" isn't "proven beyond a reasonable doubt." Somehow, though, the jury felt it knew enough to convict Turner on that charge. Is it possible that the jury may gotten a bit out over its skis? You will never see such a question discussed in the wake of such a case.

A few ancillary questions: What did you think about the 19-year sentence the teenager got in this recent case? What did you think about last week's long-delayed resolution of this police homicide case?

Oh, that's right! Those cases don't fit the standard templates through which we're fed our childish tribal gruel. You'll never see those cases discussed. Simple put, we pseudos don't care about the people involved in those cases.

"Hell is other Britons," a brave fellow has now declared. Needless to say, the New York Times thought his statement was great.

Tomorrow, we'll build a new line of inquiry out of that stirring declaration. For ourselves, we'll only say his: increasingly, hell is the childish conduct of other pseudo-liberals.

Ambiguity isn't our friend. We prefer our heroes and demons straight.

We like the chase the local judges around. Within the realm of our childish minds, the provost can't be disturbed.

A bar tender faces legal trouble if he behaves as that Stanford fraternity did. That said, the frats just keep on pouring, with the same results again and again and again.

Young people are hurt again and again as this crackpot culture proceeds. In the realm of our simple and childish minds, the provost, president and professors know nothing about this problem.

Cast in the role of the Skittles: We enjoy inventing fake facts. We enjoy disappearing facts which introduce complexity into our games.

We also like to stress irrelevant facts which set the tone for our morality tales. In this case, the dumpster was the irrelevant player. It was widely cited for its bathetic effect. It was cast in the role of the Skittles.

This is the way our childish minds actually work. As the great existentialist declared in Huis Clos, "Hell is other people!"