Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Friday, November 30, 2018

Diogenes the Libertarian Braves a Blizzard

Diogenes the Libertarian Braves a Blizzard
©2018  Ross Williams

Imagine for just a moment a high school classroom.  Thirty or so students sitting, bored, in front of their teacher, indifferent.  Pretty typical.

Next imagine that one student decides he’ll be a petulant contrarian that day.  Still pretty typical.

And finally, imagine that the platform chosen for the petulance is a hat being worn in class.  The hat has a decidedly political patina to it.  It is a baseball cap with a Mexican flag across the front with large embroidered letters framing the flag and spelling out, in Spanish, “Viva la Reconquista!

For those who don’t know, reconquista is the Spanish word for reconquer, or reconquest.  And in geopolitics, it describes a populist Mexican sentiment to retake the entire US desert southwest from Texas to California, south of a line from generally San Francisco to Salt Lake City to Omaha and return it to Mexican rule.  Mexico feels they got rooked out of this land by the westward expansion of the United States in the mid-19th century, and they want it back.

Of course, wearing hats in class violates the rules of all public and private schools that I know of, and this school is no different.  And in fact the teacher informs the petulant student of this.  You can’t wear a hat in class.

The student, petulant and contrarian, quibbles this direction.  Why?

Because the school’s rules disallow hats in class.  Take it off.”

Petulant contrarians being what they are, the student continues the quibble.  Who is it hurting?

And here the teacher dives headfirst into a long, rambling explanation that life is full of rules, many of which are dumb on their face, but that the student will get nowhere in his life if he doesn’t obey those rules.  This is true enough, and the encounter should end at this point with the student either taking off the hat or being sent to see the school’s enforcer.

But it doesn’t end.  The teacher then embarks on a grand rationalization that despite the school having rules, most such rules are continually bent simply for the sake of practicality.  And the rule about hats could be one of them.  Except that this hat contains a message that distracts the rest of the class from the subject being taught, and is interfering with school.  This astoundingly ignores the reality that the class was not being distracted until the teacher told the kid to take off the hat.

Bickering ensues between the petulant contrarian on one side, and the teacher and other students on the other, with one other student chiming in with a snarky comment about illegal immigrants.

The teacher then calls the petulant contrarian a vulgar name and issues an ultimatum: “Take off your hat, or the rest of the class will leave and go to another classroom without you.  The hat remains undoffed, and the teacher and other students get up leaving the petulant contrarian behind.

The ideological fallout from this scenario is trivially simple to predict.  Conservatives will fail to hear the conversation beyond the identification of Rules Violation, and crawl out their own ass rationalizing why it doesn’t matter that the teacher went out of his way to explain that it was the political message at issue.  Liberals and “progressives” will assert that the teacher is a racist xenophobe because it was very clearly the message on the hat which caused the issue.  Libertarians will acknowledge that the message was indeed the issue, and that the teacher tipped his own biased political hand by refusing to stop the discussion at Rules Violation.

False libertarians who are really conservatives will make excuses for the teacher; false libertarians who are really “progressive” numbskulls will ladle value judgments on the teacher.

The teacher, in this scenario, is being a transparent political huckster, arbitrarily willing to allow rules to be “bent” as long as the bending doesn’t bother the teacher.  This is a fascist implementation of policy, where the rules being imposed are dependent on the whim of the enforcer.

Most importantly, this scenario would create a shitstorm of public outrage, carefully choreographed by the popular US media, which absolutely does not have an ideological agenda in its editorial policies whatsoever.  Perish the thought!  The school would investigate, state and federal human rights investigations would take place, the teacher would be fired, and counselors would be provided to mollify any student traumatized by the mere mention of illegal immigration in a classroom.

We can all breathe a deep sigh of relief that this event did not occur. 

Something similar, though, did take place.  The actual event, like the scenario I just described, involved a petulant contrarian student in a high school classroom wearing a hat in contravention of the rules.  Instead of a Mexican paean to the absorption of a fourth of the continental US, the hat being worn said “Make America Great Again.”  There was the same discussion of rules.  The same willingness to dispense with the rules but for the message conveyed.  The same snarky comment by another student, this time the hat was “racist”.  The same vulgar term directed at the petulant contrarian student by the teacher.  The same ultimatum and the same result.

And, in this actual event, the ideological fallout was identical, if mirror image.  It was liberals and “progressives” making excuses for the teacher not stopping his sermon at Rules Violation and continuing on to conveyed message as the true issue.  It was an identically fascist implementation of policy.  What mattered was that the hat bothered the teacher, not that it broke the rules.

Yet this got no coverage.  The popular US media, which absolutely, positively does not have an ideological agenda behind its editorial policies, has utterly failed to bring this to light.  It is only available to those who dig through the bowels of youtube.com.  And those, like me, who find reposts.

There are no investigations, let alone for civil rights violations.  The teacher will not be fired, or even scolded.  If the student’s parents object, it will almost certainly be dismissed as a racistsexisthomophobe tantrum.  Legal challenge will almost certainly be decided in favor of the Unequal Protection offered up by this student not being a member of a Suspect Class.

Because Make America Great Again is, as explained by the off-screen girl in the video, a racist notion.

If truth be told − and god forbid that ever happens − every American wants America to be great again.  It’s just that most people don’t say so, and their notions of what makes greatness differ.  Sometimes wildly.  But, as a unique and singular phrase, “make America great again” carries with it a whole slew of connotation entirely invented by those who are offended by it.

When the offended encounter the phrase on a shirt, a hat, a bumper sticker, a keychain fob, a poster, or through the compression of sound waves in the atmosphere, they come unglued.  The phrase serves primarily as a Snowflake Detector.

Two or more snowflakes, or one snowflake having perceived or actual authority can, as we see in the video, create a blizzard.  Whiny, panty-wetting hypocrisy justified by feelz.

That libertarians willingly join this parade of intellectual anti-integrity is appalling.  Making excuses for any form of official bigotry by denying the landscape on which it occurred is sufficient cause, in my book, to invalidate one’s claim to libertarianism.  And this is official bigotry.  The teacher is a government employee, invoking the undefined power of government to censor some sentiments after explaining that he’d allow others to pass unchallenged.

The correct answer is as follows: Wearing hats is against the school’s rules, but the teacher made the message on the hat the issue.  If you understand this you can be libertarian.  If you don’t, you aren’t.