Explicit Designation: A Solution for PC College Campuses, Fake News, and #MeToo

Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and professor at the NYU school of business, is an outspoken free speech and viewpoint diversity advocate, and is the founder of Heterodox Academy, a website dedicated to studying and promoting viewpoint diversity on college campuses.

I consider Haidt, a hero of mine, to be a Classical Liberal politically. He believes in equal rights and views capitalism favorably, although he is not a proponent of the extreme free market solutions that Libertarians such as myself prefer. Haidt’s signature issue, though, is viewpoint diversity.

The word diversity seems to captivate left-wingers like few others. The problem is that many on the left believe that varied skin pigmentation, genitalia, sexual preferences, and gender identity constitute meaningful diversity. But this is not so. An individual’s sexuality and appearance tell you nothing about their beliefs, ideas, fears, experiences, feelings, talents, or much else of importance.

Real diversity comes from the inside. Those who have different concepts of God, different family backgrounds, different innate gifts, different tastes in art and culture, and different opinions on social and political matters generate real diversity regardless of their ethnicities and sexual proclivities.

In a must-watch presentation filmed at Duke University in October 2016, Professor Haidt highlights the social justice wave that has invaded college campuses across America, and argues that social justice values are incompatible with the pursuit of truth that academe has historically waged.

Haidt concludes that there is nothing inherently wrong with a university making social justice its mission. The actual problem is that professors, universities, and programs that focus on social justice have become entwined in institutions that have typically made Veritas (Greek for truth) their actual mission, and that this blurs the lines between the pursuit of the ideal and the recognition of the real.

His solution to this problem is for universities to more explicitly state their overlying objectives. If a university is committed to truth, science, and reason, it should call itself a Veritas university. If its mission is social justice, it should call itself a social justice university. And if its purpose is to serve God’s glory, it should call itself a Christ university.

There are other institutions in which variations of Haidt’s solution, which I will refer to as explicit designation, can be useful in fostering and preserving diversity to serve the most people in the best possible ways. The media and the workplace are two places that could benefit most from explicit designation.

Possibly the most popular term of 2017 is Fake News. While initially used by the media and Hillary Clinton to refer to websites that intentionally publish certifiably false stories, the phrase has since been coopted by Donald Trump and conservative-leaning members of the public to describe biased and sensationalized reporting from mainstream media outlets.

Examples of the former, which typically emerge from the dark alleyways of the internet, are Hillary Clinton and Jonathan Podesta attending human flesh cooking parties and Barack Obama being born in Kenya. Examples of the latter are Trump’s CDC “word ban” and Mike Pence supporting electroshock therapy to reverse homosexuality.

To solve the fake news problem, newspapers, websites, and magazines should explicitly designate themselves according to their biases.

Prager University, which releases 5-minute video clips about social and political issues, makes their conservative biases clear in their mission statement:

Prager Mission Statement

Two larger media organizations that could lead the way in explicit designation are MSNBC and Fox News. Whereas I believe it is generally well-known that MSNBC leans left while Fox leans right, these outlets could enhance their credibility and the public’s level of awareness by outright saying it. MSNBC’s and Fox’s leanings are so obvious that simply labeling themselves left/progressive or right/conservative respectively could be an easy fix.

More supposedly objective organizations like CNN, Reuters, ABC, and The Washington Post could refrain from labeling themselves, but instead provide a score based on their staff’s leanings. If News Channel A has 30 journalists on their payroll, and 16 are liberal-leaning, 8 are centrists or apolitical, and 6 are conservative-leaning, News Channel A could say they are L 33. Here is how a Left 33 score could be determined:

30 Reporters – 8 Centrists = 22 Biased Reporters

16 Liberals – 6 Conservatives = 10 Liberals

10 Liberals / 30 Journalists = 33% Liberal

33% Liberal = L 33 Score

Scores could be given to staff journalists, columnists, and editorial boards separately.

By displaying this score on their website’s about page, within paper publications, and during a broadcast’s title sequence, the media outlet will assist the public in leveling their skepticism and locating a diverse array of viewpoints and interpretations.

Over the past several months, the #MeToo movement has brought abusive treatment of women and children, especially in the workplace, to the forefront of American discourse. Revelations about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, and many more have caused tensions and suspicions to rise. Here, explicit designation can encourage diversity too.

Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street depicts a brokerage firm filled with debauchery like sex, profanity, substance abuse, and testosterone-fueled competition. To many in the #MeToo movement, this kind of office culture would be lightyears beyond the pale.

But what if there are people who feel happier and work more productively in an aggressive and high-energy environment? What if there are people who revel in the midst of sexual tension and an emotionally-charged climate? Should these people be prevented from pursuing their happiness and career potential because others place a higher value on respect and dignity at work?

In another attempt to cater to diversity, places of employment should advertise and offer jobs that explicitly designate their office environments. Designations could work like this:

Designation Speech Code Flirtation Dress Code Humor
Zero Tolerance No foul or suggestive language Forbidden Formal, non-revealing Non-suggestive, politically correct
Playful Some off-color language tolerated Not recommended, but permitted if not-aggressive Respectable, but not particularly formal Some off-color humor tolerated
Politically Incorrect None Not recommended, but permitted if not overly aggressive Individuals have freedom to dress as they please within reason No holds barred
Aggressive None Common None No holds barred

Of course, an aggressive or politically incorrect workplace would still be required to follow the law and respect human rights.

The diversity would come from specialized and varied definitions of certain human interactions. For example, in a zero tolerance workplace, saying “you look nice today” or asking a co-worker out on a date would be treated as sexual harassment. In an aggressive workplace, one would have to be told to stop making advances explicitly before the possibility of sexual harassment could even be broached.

If institutions like higher education, the media, and the private sector do not begin to regulate themselves, the government may seek to. Hate speech laws already exist in Canada and much of Europe. Mayor Bill DeBlasio of New York has expressed interest in city-owned media outlets to filter information in NYC. And sexual misconduct regulations are being pushed by some US lawmakers.

While I certainly have my own personal preferences, I would not want others to be forced into a one-size-fits all scenario. Diversity is our strength. And explicit designation will make us stronger through greater diversity, transparency, and freedom of choice.

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Explicit Designation: A Solution for PC College Campuses, Fake News, and #MeToo

The Democrats are Doing Their Darndest to Elect Roy Moore

I have a theory that right-wingers can fool people into believing they are left-wingers, but left-wingers can’t fool people into believing they are right-wingers.

This is because left-wing views are so ingrained in our media, education system, and entertainment that no right-winger could possibly escape them. The same is not true of right-wing ideas. Many left-wingers have never engaged with right-wing ideas, so they cannot empathize with people who believe in them.

This is on display in the Alabama senate race between Roy Moore and Doug Jones. Democrats are idiotically using celebrities and cries of racism to attempt to persuade Republicans to vote for Doug Jones. This is idiotic because Republicans expect to be smeared as racists by celebrities. The populist uprising that got Trump elected is a response to that more than just about anything else.

If Democrats took the time to hear right-wingers out, they would be able to win their votes easily in this senate race and probably in politics in general. But their commitment to upholding their “everyone is racist except me” delusions makes it impossible.

The following is all Doug Jones would have to do to beat Roy Moore: walk out on stage with a cowboy hat and a shotgun, say something like “no child molester is gonna get his sinful hands on Alabama’s senate seat,” then walk off stage slowly. That’s all it would take. Telling Planned Parenthood to shut down their Twitter feed wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

But instead, Alyssa Milano and Charles Barkley are telling Alabamans who to vote for and everyone on Twitter is calling them dumb and racist. This will make what should be easy (defeating a child molester in a general election) extremely difficult.

The left’s year-long failure to take a look in the mirror and admit that they lost the 2016 election because they sucked (not because of Russia or Nazis or gerrymandering or whatever) is a gift that will keep on giving to Republicans.

If Roy Moore loses tomorrow, it’ll be because a large portion of Alabama Republicans would rather be governed by people who despise them than side with a sinful man despite the fact that he loves them. It will not be a result of the Democrats’ campaign tactics. But the delusional Democrats will go with that narrative anyway.

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The Democrats are Doing Their Darndest to Elect Roy Moore

My Libertarian Classroom

For the past six years, I have been teaching high school English in Thailand. I love what I do, and I’m good at it. My classroom, for the most part, reflects my Libertarian worldview, and it works.

I certainly don’t preach my politics to my students. This is because the level of respect I receive from most of my classes leads them to treat me as a trusted and benevolent authority figure. And it is against my pedagogical creed to use my authoritative position to inculcate my students. Anytime my views slip out of my mouth, which are rare occurrences, I take responsibility for them rather than allow my students to understand them as fact.

This does not mean my views are never a part of class discussions or activities. When we discuss and debate political and social issues, I sometimes ask questions that allude to the Libertarian thought process if my students do not invoke them on their own. For example, if we are discussing pollution or other environmental issues, my students generally want to ban certain practices or subsidize solutions. If the conversation comes to a standstill, I may try to get their brains going by asking if anything can be done without the government’s participation. This sometimes leads them to suggest privately-organized awareness campaigns, neighborhood cleanup efforts, or innovations that can lead to profitable and environmentally-friendly business ventures.

One chapter of the textbook I use with my 11th graders focuses on the topic of food concerns. Bangkok, where I currently teach, is famous for its delicious street food, which is often less than sanitary and unhealthy. The vendors who sell this food are usually low-income, so regulating their businesses could lead to them having to absorb crippling costs. This winds up being an excellent opportunity for Libertarian thinking.

As a brainstorming activity, I put my students in groups, and have them come up with several specific food concerns they are aware of in Bangkok. They must then choose one and find a solution to improve cleanliness or health.

Next, I use the Socratic Method to lead my students into proving that government laws and regulations do not always serve their intended purposes. I do this by asking them if drugs are legal in Thailand. They say no. I then ask whether drugs are still used and abused in Thailand. They say yes resoundingly, often accompanied by giggles. So, do laws always work as a means of solving problems?

I then explain our activity which is for each group to come up with a solution to their chosen food concern, but bar them from using laws or other governmental methods. This forces them to consider the profit motive, the foundational motivation of many businesses, and find ways to manipulate it so that people will do what makes the world a better place as a byproduct of their own rational self-interest. I am consistently amazed by the creative ideas my students generate when the easy way out, prohibiting unfavorable human activity, is not an option. Their ability for creative and critical thinking, even in an educational system as anti-intellectual and archaic as Thailand’s, blows me away.

In spirit of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, I explain the rules of my class on day one, many of which are a reflection of negative rights. And in honor of the First Amendment, all opinions are welcome, and all ideas expressed are subject to scrutiny (and that scrutiny is encouraged).

Students are allowed to exit the room to use the toilet at will. In fact, they are not even required to pay attention, and I make this explicit. These freedoms are retained under the condition that my students do not disrupt my teaching or their classmates’ learning. I explain to them on the first day of class that they are personally responsible for their individual selves and are prohibited from making decisions for others, such as drawing their classmates’ attention away from my lesson. This is essentially an expression of the non-aggression principle as only acts that victimize others are treated as transgressions. Going to the toilet and missing key parts of a lesson is allowed. Reentering the room noisily is not.

Fortunately, and I do not mean to toot my own horn here, I happen to be quite charismatic at the head of the classroom. The vast majority of my students find my lessons to be engaging, and they eventually respect me enough to behave highly politely (at least as far as teenagers go). I do not know how much of this is a result of my teaching and how much is a result of my Libertarian governance.

There are, of course, instances in which my students break the rules. Some of my pupils seem to lack the ability to remain quiet for more than a few moments during my interactions with the class or quiet work activities.

While my students are aware of my rule against audible disruptions, I enforce it within reason. My personal view, as a so-called poor student throughout middle and high school myself, is that not all children and teenagers are predisposed to the capability of learning and behaving in a traditional classroom setting. If I could go back to my childhood and be presented with the option of working a part-time, minimum wage job instead of going to school, I’d jump at the opportunity. I have learned more at work than at school throughout my life, and my main motivation for becoming a teacher was to provide an outlet for students who do not mesh with school like me.

So, I do not lose my rag as soon as a student causes a disruption. I let them get away with a few shushes before taking action. Fascism demands perfection; Libertarianism understands that’s impossible.

When shushes don’t work, I have no choice but to bring the gavel down. And this is when I do something that may seem anti-Libertarian at face value. When I lose control of the class, they lose points collectively. Rather than punishing the individuals who are causing disruptions, I deem all of them guilty by association and reduce all of their scores.

Punishing many for the actions of a few is sacrilege to an individualistic philosophy like Libertarianism. But the lesson learned, not the punishment itself, is the key. What I hope the well-behaved students learn (and I explain this to them if they don’t seem to) is that failing to police one’s neighborhood autonomously eventually leads to restrictions in freedom from a higher authority. If a society (or classroom) can keep itself in order, there is little risk for strict laws, rules, or interventions to be enacted. Peaceful populations are more likely to retain self-governance than chaotic and unruly ones.

It could easily be argued that a public school teacher arbitrating the way a classroom runs is a laughable attempt to illustrate Libertarianism. But as of now, I think I’m practicing what I preach.

***

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My Libertarian Classroom

The New York Times Demonstrates the Left’s Intellectual Dishonesty on Climate Change

At the moment, I am a solid 40-60 pounds overweight. Until I find a way to slim down, I imagine that diabetes and heart disease likely pose the greatest threats to my life.

My goal is to lose a good deal of weight, so the new greatest threat to my life can be The New York Times. Aside from a handful of thoughtful editorials I come across here and there, reading NYT is so maddening that stress-related ailments probably come in second place to my body mass index as far as lethal dangers go.

I just came across a real whopper, even by NYT’s standards. It focuses on a climate change survey.

The survey being reported on asks participants their opinions and feelings about several social and political issues. One question, which is the lead in the NYT story, is whether partakers worry about climate change “a great deal.” A graph displaying the results shows that the more educated Republicans and Democrats are, the more their answers diverge. 23% of the least educated Republicans say they are worried, while 45% of the least educated Democrats do. On the other end, 50% of highly educated Democrats worry about Climate Change, while only 8% of highly educated Republicans answered in the affirmative. On the low education end, the difference between Democrats and Republicans is 22%. On the high end, it’s 42%, a 20-point divergence.

Far more notable than the results is the fashion in which NYT decides to report them. The article’s headline is “The More Education Republicans Have, the Less They Tend to Believe in Climate Change.” This is incredibly dishonest. The story (educated Republicans’ lack of belief in climate change) is unrelated to the facts (educated Republicans are not terribly worried about climate change).

And it’s not just the headline. The article’s introductory paragraph is a textbook straw man (a gross misrepresentation of an opponent’s point of view). The author notes that the scientific community overwhelmingly agrees that the Earth is “experiencing the warmest period in recorded history” and that “humans are the dominant cause” of this. What does the existence and cause of climate change have to do with people’s concerns about it?

The second paragraph, which contains the story’s thesis, reads: “Climate change divides Americans, but in an unlikely way: The more education that Democrats and Republicans have, the more their beliefs in climate change diverge” (the emphasis on diverge is the author’s, not mine). Again, rather than honestly reporting that Republicans and Democrats differ in terms of worry about climate change, the author writes his hallucinations about their beliefs in climate change. And, apparently, the editors didn’t notice or care.

This is the typical false dichotomy that many on the left present when debating (or refusing to debate) climate change and the policies that surround it. They permit two options:

Option A: You believe (1) that climate change is real and manmade, (2) that climate change will result in an inevitable apocalypse, (3) that fossil fuel use must be eliminated quickly to prevent Earth’s destruction, and (4) that international governmental cooperation is the best or only means to accomplish #3.

Option B: You (1) do not believe in science or (2) are greedy and have no concern for Earth, nature, or future generations.

I hope the absurdity here is explicit and needs no explanation. But just in case, here are a few other options at your disposal:

Option C: You believe (1) that climate change is real and manmade, (2) that climate change will cause some serious problems, but is not apocalyptic, (3) that cleaner forms of energy (including nuclear power and natural gas) should be used more regularly for the sake of the environment, and (4) that the free market combined with some governmental subsidies for research and development are the best way to accomplish #3.

Option D: You believe (1) that climate change is real and manmade, (2) that the problems caused by climate change will occur at a slow enough rate that mankind will be able to adapt as they occur, (3) that the benefits of plentiful, reliable, and cheap fossil fuels outweigh the risks they pose to the environment, and (4) that giving governments authority over the climate and energy industry will lead to far more problems than solutions.

Option E: [insert combination of Options A, B, C, D, and additional opinions here]

There are innumerable valid, intellectually honest, and ethically sound opinions one can have about climate policy from both sides of the discussion. Only those who are afraid to defend their positions are reduced to straw man arguments.

False dichotomy and straw man are not the only argumentative fallacies that pollute the topic of climate change. Ad hominem is everywhere too.

The New York Times article does not mention compassion or greed, but the comments section beneath the article on NYT’s Facebook page does. Here are the top two comments:

“Correction: The more education Republicans have, the more they’re willing to lie for short term economic gain. If there were a test that could measure selfishness, you could sort people into Republican and Democrat with 99% accuracy.”

“Maybe better educated Republicans are wealthier and more likely to invest in energy or other companies that would have to spend money to address carbon emissions and the like. So they are more likely to be in denial of climate change since they believe it would affect their pocketbook”

When Option A individuals discuss climate change and are confronted with opposing views, a last resort is often to point to poor communities living in coastal areas (such as fishing villages) that they say are at greater risk to be affected by rising tides and other effects of climate change. This is an appeal to compassion intended to persuade one’s opponent into changing their position out of concern for others.

Aside from the unproven claim that these people will be affected by climate change, and aside from the implicit presumption that they will be unable to adapt to environmental changes, this is a dishonest point too. No one is consistently willing to change their ways or sacrifice their livelihood to save people.

Hypotheticals are not always the most intellectually valid modes of explanation, but I’ll use one for argument’s sake:

Let’s say that 97% of scientists agreed that if homosexual intercourse were banned, deaths via the AIDS virus would decrease by 99%. Would the same people who are willing to upend the energy and industrial sectors of the global economy to save a few fishing villages be willing to ban gay sex to put an end to AIDS?

My guess would be “no.”

Those whose position on climate change is in line with Options B, C, D, and E must not fall for emotion-based arguments. You may be called a shill for the oil companies, a greedy pig, a corporate bootlicker, and far worse for standing your ground. But the pursuit of Veritas, peace, freedom, and prosperity is worth the hatred you’ll encounter along the way. Besides, slander and polemic aren’t half as dangerous as obesity.

Keep speaking.

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The New York Times Demonstrates the Left’s Intellectual Dishonesty on Climate Change

The Person vs. The Politics: Starring Judge Roy Moore

I’m fortunate to have a few Constitutional gurus in my life. Some are people I know personally, others publish content online.

KrisAnne Hall is a lawyer who travels across America to teach and promote the United States Constitution. I am a firm believer in her general interpretation of the Supreme Law of the Land, and I support her efforts mightily.

One of Hall’s mottos is “Liberty over security, principle over party, and truth over personality.” I concur on all three accounts.

But what about policy vs. person? When choosing the legislature for your country, are personal character flaws that seem to have no bearing on the way an individual will govern important to take into consideration? Or should voting records and political philosophy be all that matters?

The Washington Post recently reported that about 40 years ago, Alabama Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore had sexual or nearly sexual encounters with several teenagers while he was in his early 30s. The worst of the allegations are that Moore temporarily dated a 14 year old girl, and that they kissed and touched over their underwear. The other accusers who have come forward were above 16, the legal age of consent in Alabama. There are no accounts of forcible rape (unless you automatically count statutory rape as forcible rape), full on intercourse, or anything more severe than touching the surface of the body. Moore has vehemently denied any illegal activity.

There is much to discuss here. First off, when two people tell contradicting stories, at least one person must be saying something untrue. Secondly, as the United States Constitution guarantees the right to presumption of innocence until guilt is proven, anything short of a conviction in a court of law leaves Moore a law-abiding citizen. The court of public opinion, however, is unburdened by these restraints. Third, at this point in the Alabama special election, it would take an incredible effort for Moore to step aside, for the GOP to nominate a new senate candidate, and for that candidate to campaign sufficiently enough to compete with the Democrat challengers. Considering the inconvenient political timing, is it fair to ask whether alleging an otherwise unknown, decades-old transgression by a lifelong public servant and public figure is politically motivated? Lastly, is it fair for the United States populace to judge 1970s Alabaman behavior by 2017 standards? Or is it possible that this was another time and another place, and applying today’s ethics to yesteryears’ is unfair?

Let’s assume the worst. Let’s say that Judge Roy Moore is lying about his personal life and subsequently calling his truth-telling accuser liar. Let’s say that allegations of misconduct ought to be believed. Let’s say that the victim has wanted to speak up about these instances for years, but has only now been able to muster up the courage. And let’s say that regardless of laws, locations, time periods, or anything other factors, what Roy Moore did was morally reprehensible and inexcusable.

What should the Alabama electorate do?

Alabama is as red as any state and has not had a Democrat serve as senator in 20 years. President Trump won over 62% of the vote there in the 2016 election. It seems safe to assume that Alabama favors the Republican agenda as the best means to promote their safety and prosperity.

If Alabama wants to be represented by a Republican, and if the only way to make sure that happens until the next senatorial election is to vote for an individual who has done something despicable and lied about it, would individual Alabamans be justified in casting their ballots for Roy Moore?

Analogies are often stupid. Here’s a very stupid one that illustrates what I’m alluding to:

You’re a member of a tribe of elves.

A tribe of dwarves is poised to topple your kingdom and enslave you and the other elves.

The only one who can stop the dwarves and save your tribe is a wizard name Roimore.

Roimore the wizard murdered your parents when you were a child and has been tormenting you about it ever since.

Do you accept Roimore’s help? Or do you succumb to the dwarves?

I told you it was stupid.

Electing a Democrat to the senate will not result in the enslavement of Alabama. Roy Moore is far from certain to affect US politics in a positive way for Alabama voters. And kissing a 14-year old girl is not as bad as mass murder.

Here’s a better analogy. Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of sexual misconduct by several female comedians. Louis has admitted the stories are true and apologized. As a result, HBO and several other companies have parted ways with him and cancelled the releases of some of his upcoming projects.

As a fan of comedy and entertainment, this punishment seems counterproductive. Who deserves to be punished for Louis’s actions? Him or his fans? Does Louis’s behavior make his work less funny or enjoyable? It seems unfair that I lose the opportunity to enjoy Louis’s work because he did something wrong.

In Alabama, voters might be punishing themselves as much as if not more than Roy Moore if they decide not to vote for him. They would be choosing to be represented by someone who opposes their political agenda.

Part of what made me a Libertarian was losing faith in politicians, namely Barack Obama, whom I voted for twice. I learned that government is essentially a monopoly on force, that taxation is theft, and that power corrupts. Since then, I have focused on voting records and consistency in principles when choosing which politicians to support. Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, and Justin Amash, though not technically my representatives, never disappoint me, so I trust them to vote on bills and carry out the government’s duties.

If I found out that Rand Paul robbed a liquor store as a member of a black bloc protest 40 years ago, I would still be rooting for him next time he is up for reelection. Partially because people are not whom they were 40 years ago, and partially because having Rand in congress is, in my opinion, ultimately a force for good, I would still support him after the skeleton in his closet surfaced.

I am no fan of Roy Moore. As is the case with most non-Libertarians, I agree with some of his ideas (like anti-interventionism) and disagree with others (like using government to legislate morality).

But I would not blame any Alabama voter for supporting him, and I would not see it as an endorsement of his misconduct. They would be displaying rational self-interest in an imperfect, nuanced world.

***

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The Person vs. The Politics: Starring Judge Roy Moore

Rhinoman: A Short Story

Rhinoman

By Glenn Verasco

There was a 7 inch shard of windowpane lodged in Rhinoman’s right ribcage. It was thick glass from a shattered sliding door on the balcony of a 32nd floor hotel room. As he burst through the glass, his foot caught the door’s frame. It tripped him up, and gravity pulled nearly all of his 235 pound mass downwards, squeezing the upward pointing shard between his flesh and the tile floor.

He was fine, of course. Few materials were hard enough to pierce the leathery coating of Rhinoman’s vital organs. The flesh wound was excruciating, but would heal in due time.

Rhinoman cracked open a beer, flipped the television on, and slowly and carefully sunk into his couch. He grimaced with every slight twist of his torso, the shard mangling every nerve it touched. Rhinoman gently placed his beer on the couch’s arm, and drew in his hands towards the impalement.

The evening news was covering the event Rhinoman had put to an end minutes earlier. The pundits were promoting their policy agendas predictably.

The shooter’s face flashed through Rhinoman’s memory. His arms ceased and dropped down to his thighs. His face drooped, which was unusual for the stoic character.

Denying criminals their ends was not out of the ordinary for Rhinoman. Just a day earlier, he had rammed a suspect through a brick wall to save a damsel in distress. The suspect wanted to rape, the teenager was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the unthinkable would have occurred had Rhinoman not sensed the trouble. One plus one equals two.

Rhinoman knew his contemporaries, men, were weak. He understood the creature beneath his own skin long before becoming aware of his superhuman abilities.

But the shooter in the hotel room did not correspond to the evil Rhinoman typically faced. There was no visceral release, no vengeance, and no bounty to be had. He had not fallen prey to desire. Surely, death would come for the shooter. He must have known this. Had Rhinoman not gotten there first, the police would have blown him away. And surely nothing would be accomplished by the hornet-sized missiles he buried in his victims’ backs and limbs. Nothing signified efforts to achieve hallucinations of a greater good.

And this is what made Rhinoman’s leathery heart sink: it could have been him. If just once, just one day, just for a moment, Rhinoman stopped doing good, the bullets could be flying from his fingertips. Absent duty, self-esteem, devotion, and routine, Rhinoman’s capacity to inflict torment unto himself and others was tremendous. All it would take is a flinch.

The motive for evil is built into the man, and Rhinoman knew this. Man was not made to be a blessing. Man blessed the world by his own accord. Rhinoman was a traitor to his nature. And that, far more than his unusual abilities, made him a superhero.

Across the ticker at the bottom of the news broadcast were reports of a hostage situation across town from Rhinoman’s place. A glass shard, soaked in the blood of a hero, lay next to a crushed beer can on a vacated couch.

***

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Rhinoman: A Short Story

A Brilliant String of Thoughts from Norm Macdonald (and some okay ones from me)

I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across one of Norm Macdonald’s tweets. Here’s Norm’s tweet (which I will discuss a bit later on):

I love Norm and have spent hours listening to his stand up, podcast, and other media on YouTube, but I hadn’t been followed him on Twitter. I followed his page immediately after reading this tweet, and headed over to see what else he had been saying. I was pleasantly surprised to find a long sequence of tweets related to the Trump presidency and our current state of affairs, many of which I found to be incredibly insightful.

I’ll share Norm’s tweets now with a few thoughts of my own between each. My thoughts are my own, not Norm’s. I don’t know what takes place inside his head:

This brings the recent outrage over General John Kelly’s Civil War remarks to mind. Did Robert E. Lee believe he was doing the right thing in leading the Confederate Army? Did he weigh the options and determine that the closest he could come to righteousness would be to orchestrate a military strategy with the aim of secession from the United States of America?

Did he believe slavery was wrong? Does believing slavery is wrong 1861 Virginia, USA mean the best and most moral course of action is to drop what you are doing and become an abolitionist?

Do you think eating meat, watching porn, applauding sex reassignment surgery, and posting your political views on social media will be considered ethically acceptable forever?

The healthy and unhealthy are objectively healthy and unhealthy? Unlike, say, Republicans and Democrats, neither of which are possible to define? Republicans and Democrats are not that far off in terms of agenda? The healthy and unhealthy cannot empathize with each other for legitimate reasons while enraged political opponents are just being silly?

I was so excited for the 2016 election. Having officially made the conversion from Socialist to Libertarian, I was ready for politics and to promote my newly found truth. My positions were, in my mind, well-thought-out, persuasive, and well-intentioned.

But so many who are now involved in politics are incapable of or uninterested in rational and productive political discourse. So few of those participating have taken the time to think the issues through, to have their views challenged, and to explore new ideas. The dividing line, as opposed to individual property rights vs. collective property rights, originalist Constitutionalism vs. living documentism, or body ownership vs. legislated morality, is often Trump vs. Anti-Trump. And that is not fun.

I did not plan on defending President Trump when he won the election. I figured I would remain in the middle of the political landscape as I had been in the latter years of the Obama presidency.

But the behavior of Trump’s loudest and harshest detractors has been so despicable and so revealing that I find myself defending Trump more than criticizing him. I do not want Trump to win, but I do want those who hate him so belligerently to lose. I cannot imagine them having power over me.

Those who admonish Weinstein do not impress me. Are they perfect people?

And it’s not like anyone is taking the “maybe Weinstein isn’t an animal” position. People can say the most horrendous things about him without ever having to worry about their words being challenged. Taking something other than a pro-unequivocal-extreme-condemnation position is viewed as being pro-rape.

I wrote this within a few days of Trump’s election victory last year. It’s about challenging the Left’s self-proclaimed ownership of love.

Love Trumps Hate was always a hilarious lie.

Norm switches gears here.

I do not see Trump as simply a celebrity, though perhaps I should. I see him as someone who has been involved in politics as an activist and commenter for a very long time.

On the other hand, if Trump decides to run for re-election, I believe the Democrats would be insane not to run a celebrity against him. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would demolish Trump. Kamala Harris would be annihilated by him.

Composing a fantastic album/compelling motion picture/brilliant comedy special is hard? Sex tapes and public intoxication are easy?

The moment a celebrity dies, another is beyond ready to take its place?

Is the computer our collective consciousness online?

Ken Bone, Anthony Scaramucci, James Comey, Sean Spicer, Milo Yiannopoulos, Linda Sarsour, Sheriff David Clarke, Joy Reid, Tomi Lahren, Brian Stelter, Maxine Waters, Steve Bannon, John Podesta, Vladimir Putin, Jack Posobiec…

We need virtue. Fame is not virtue. Many are pursuing fame without ever considering virtue.

“Swiss Candidate” would be too boring to attract an audience. That’s for sure.

Norm said he heard about this a number of years ago. A number of years ago, I would not have been perceptive enough to be frightened by this idea.

There was a South Park episode that aired during Britney Spears’ “meltdown” years ago. The twist ending was that society needed to coerce celebrities into suicide via overwhelming paparazzi activity in order to reap a successful harvest. This tweet made me think of that.

Keith Olbermann, Stephen Colbert, and Rachel Maddow will be worse off when Trump is out of office.

This also makes me think of the hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of people who show up to protest small scale “Nazi” marches. What would these people do if there weren’t a handful of outright racists for them to scold? Who would they have to look down upon?

It makes me think of racism hoaxers too. Who benefits from Trump supporters spray-painting swastikas and racial slurs on public grounds? Racists or race-baiters? Trump lovers or Trump haters?

Cheers to Norm Macdonald for sharing his nuanced and wise thoughts. And I hope mine meant something to you.

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A Brilliant String of Thoughts from Norm Macdonald (and some okay ones from me)