December 8, 2022
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Rags and Bones

by Jonathan Wallace

Recall Elections

In my 13,700 page Mad Manuscript on free speech (no shit), I Coined a Defined Term, "Bird Dogging", to describe the act of flagging a topic for further investigation. I want to read more about and better understand the trend, which I think started in California, towards referenda and recall elections, which I believe were invented and put across by popular movements to add more democracy to the system, but which, like so much other originally democratic tools, have been preempted by dishonest and dishonorable people with lots of money. People who have won an election should have their entire term as a runway to consolidate their relationship with the electorate and express their policy views. Recalls chisel away at the system by encouraging impulsivity based on falsehood or a rush to judgment. For much of my life, referenda were deceptively phrased so you barely understood what you were being asked to vote for-- though today I am inclined to cut them a break as the voters in one red state after another remind their "masters" that women wish to retain bodily autonomy to the greatest extent, of deciding what intruders to tolerate in their domains.

Alex Jones

One unexpected phenomenon of my lifetime has been the increase of appalling cruelty in mainstream public discourse. The parents of Newtown have provided the most unbearable and heartbreaking example: first your child is murdered by a mass shooter, then your life is threatened by insane Internet trolls who claim you never had a child, you are a "crisis actor", etc. Alex Jones, who has promoted this and a myriad of other toxicity, mostly I am sure without believing it, richly deserved to be held liable to the Newtown parents for a billion dollars.

Yet I have concerns. Jones, as disgusting as he is, is being financially destroyed for pure speech. This lines up with a very disturbing precedent that has also been applied against the left, and for much gentler speech. When you find someone who cannot be bullied or chilled into silence by threats of social consequences such as disapprobation or blacklisting. you take their money. Recently I read a very disturbing case in which an attorney facing a scenario he believed was corrupt, in which it appeared the judge had colluded, correctly and courageously defended his client by standing up to the system. Because, in his emotion, he may have exaggerated some of his otherwise truthful claims, he was financially sanctioned and driven out of the case.

The best yet unavailable solution to this very Wicked Problem be better humans. The First Amendment--as few recognize, and even fewer say-- was designed for a very different world: in which, as radically as we may disagree, we all believe that we belong together, and therefore, we self-censor amicably and intelligently, by refraining from certain speech, including lies about, and calls for violence against, each other. We no longer live in that world (if we ever did). But I am certain that the punishment applied against Alex Jones will soon be used against others whom I don't believe deserve it.

Mad Mothers

It took me about sixy-years of life to understand what kind of intelligence I have. I am not good at math, chess, or languages, am unable to understand the rules of football or maps of military battles. My brain instead is a Connection-Engine. Here is a very nominal one: in the streaming content I watched during the Pandemic, a strange Trope turned up, in which our hero went back in time, or traveled in space or through alternate or fantasy universes, to save a Mad Mother. This was the plot of Moon Knight, and the second seasons of Picard and Undone. I believe it was also the plot of the second season of Russian Doll, which I have not seen. In each of the shows, the Mad Mother's sanity was saved and she became a Happy Person-- and in a kind of superficial and reductive Freudianism I don't like, typically this was accomplished by avoiding or fixing the events of a single day. Having had a Mad Mother myself, I can testify that you could assemble a team and a budget equal to that required to get to the moon in 1969, and make many forays into Dr. Eleanor Wallace's past, and still not achieve the easy, satisfying and cinematic result of making her a Happy Person. Sigh!

Police are guns

Speaking as we were of possibly surprising Connections, here's one. To understand social issues around policing better, such as controversies about defunding the police, try thinking of the cops as weapons. In New York City, easy-going, friendly Community Affairs officers used to police demonstrations. Now even groups of pacifist, seventy-five year old Catholic Worker women find themselves at protests facing Strategic Response Group officers with huge, impressive semiautomatic weapons and bulky body armor. Why? Is that really a sensible use of my taxes? What does it communicate, socially and politically? Is it democratic?

Elon Musky

Elon Musk is a particularly dangerous Billionaire, because he is youngish, charismatic and looks like he should be voting for Bernie Sanders. The month's Ethical Spectacle was him retweeting a lie that Speaker Pelosi's husband was attacked by a male prostitute, undoing in a second all the crap he had uttered about a better, more structured Twitter with consummate FIrst Amendment values. Not only is a lunatic in charge of the asylum, but the lunatic is the richest man on earth. Sheesh.