We’re Failing the Children

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And by “we” I mean writers and parents and teachers, and anyone who is supposed to give them an idea of how the world works.

By “children” I mean those of us who were children in the last 50, maybe the last 70 years, and although the problem is most prevalent in America, it has — like most things — spread from America to the rest of the world.

We’re failing our children by denying the existence of evil, or even of dysfunction with no reason other than because it exists.

Perhaps it’s the Freudian paradigm infiltration in society, that every evil, every dysfunction and malfunction must have a cause, and if you fix the cause it will be all solved, and we’ll have  utopia.  Perhaps it’s an excess of compassion, the same therapeutic mind set that seems to be dismantling Western Society.  Perhaps it is simply that after WWII most people wanted to forget there was evil, true evil, and avert their eyes and think instead that “something went wrong” in the childhood of all those people, who weren’t monsters, not even a little bit.

You can see the problem with this in the way we handled communism.  If what happened in Germany was the result of some sort of society-wide trauma, and not the result of humans being humans, then it won’t repeat itself in every society where you have the power to do it, and the means.  The dehumanization of a segment of population won’t happen unless it’s somehow racial and there’s white supremacy involved.  We’re safe, and sound, as long as we don’t have that many people traumatized at the same time.  Which if you think about, leads not only to ignoring the patent and obvious dangers of leftist (and supposedly non-discriminatory) totalitarian regimes, but also to thinking of “enforced diversity” as a sort of panacea, and the ultimate crime being making someone feel bad.

But it leads to a lot of other things.  I keep coming back to the idiots who thought Saddam couldn’t have Weapons of Mass Destruction because most of Iraq didn’t even have a safe source of water.  Well, hell.  For that argument to be valid, every ruler’s first priority must be looking after his people, not say, controlling them, or staying in power by causing wars with other countries.  To go around the world thinking that war is caused by poverty, or that people only fight when they have no other choice, is to go around the jungle clutching your binkie.  It’s to imagine that every country is American suburbia writ large.  (And the worst part is I think the idiot who said that and volunteered to be a “shield” was a British trucker.  Which goes to show you.)

It leads to private issues, too: from women who think that the downright evil, anti-social son of a b*tch that is aggressive towards them must have suffered a lot to be that mean and how therefore determine to save them by loving them; to private charity and social programs that give and give and give without any requirements of moral or intellectual improvement on the recepient’s part because if only you give enough people will suddenly become like the giver: industrious and capable to running their lives and being frugal and self-controlled.  Of course this causes even more dysfunction.  And circling around again to the public, this is why soft heads and tender hearts want to receive refugees in uncounted numbers and immigrants, illegal, in vast hordes.  Sure, the people at the top might think it’s time to get themselves a new people, but not the rank and file.  The rank and file just have the vague idea that they only did well because they were born in a blessed place of rule of law and prosperity, and therefore they think that if other people were brought to this place, they’ll be transformed.

On the personal level again, thinking that evil has origin in hurt, in some great wrong, that no one becomes evil without being first a victim, leads to people not understanding their own hearts.   It leads to people who are, objectively, privileged, in birth and wealth and who have never suffered discrimination thinking that they are therefore free of evil.  Every cry bully who ever tormented another human being thinks that they cannot do evil, because they haven’t been victimized and their intentions are pure.

This nonsense leads to “pathologizing” natural behavior too, and to idiocy like the mother who turned her child into a psychopath by thinking the fact a teething baby will chew on boobs meant he was some kind of nonredeemable monster, instead of thinking of it as natural behavior that needed to be curbed.

Because everything man or child or woman or possibly cat does that is evil must mean he’s either traumatized or something is wrong at the organic level.

And why do I say writers are included in this?  Oh, hell, writers, story tellers, teachers…

We’ve been told so often that everyone has his reasons, and that no one is a villain in his own mind, that we buy that, and we write that, and we propagate this “evil comes from wounding” idea.

Most popular movies, most books written in the last 75 years, most stories that parents tell children, most historical interpretations rely on that “hurt before evil” model.

We’ve translated this to our education, too.  You don’t smack children, even once and with great deliberation, because of course, if we hurt them, they’ll turn evil.  (“You’ll just teach them violence.”) We look for therapeutic solutions for crime and talk of victims of society.  We try to embrace the evil dictatorships abroad and make them feel loved so they’ll be nice.  (Obama’s insane apology tour.  My brother being very scared of Bush threatening “poor, little, mad North Korea.” because that would only make them worse.  Etc.)

We’re failing our children.  We’re failing them in the peculiar way most of us were failed as children.

Humans aren’t born angelic and perfect.  Evil doesn’t grow in a soul as a result of trauma. No human being is free of evil impulses and desires, ever.

Evil, so far as it admits to a generalized definition, is unrestrained power: personal, national, global.

Evil is doing what you want to do with no restraint, and no thought for others.  And it is the tendency of every human to do so, until he/she runs into obstacles and pain enough that he/she realizes the rest of the world has a vote.  (On the pain, yes, you can do time outs, or, worse, verbal rants that hurt enough to make the kids stop anti-social behavior.  I always thought a quick smack when they’re young enough to respond to negative stimulus is less cruel, in the end.)

A child, a generation, a nation, a group that has never been taught that its impulses must be restrained, that the rest of the world gets a vote, that you have to take other people as self-willed agents in consideration, is evil.  It doesn’t matter if they don’t think of themselves as evil, or if they imagine the result of their tyranny over their surroundings will be peace beauty and harmony (a lot of them don’t.  They just know what they want.)  The result is still devastation, torture, and the dehumanization of anyone else.

Power, unrestrained power, be it over your family or over a continent, will turn anyone into an evil monster, even those with saintly intentions.  And many of them never even had saintly intentions, no matter what they tell you.

Criminals who can manipulate the system and evade the consequences of their actions have that sort of power.  So do children surrounded by adults who assume they’re perfect and that every evil must be treated with kindness and objectively rewards.  So do minorities who can lay their every dysfunction at the feet of “discrimination” and be treated even more kindly.  So do women who have found that yelling “patriarchy” substitutes for effort, hard work and knowledge.

If a strategy brings no correction and is rewarded by the one deploying it being treated as a victim who needs to be consoled, you’ll only get more evil.  Massively more evil.  Until it chokes society.

And that’s because society at large no longer believes in evil, but only in victims lashing out.

We’re failing our children, and have been for more than half a century.  We need to change the tenor of stories, of history, of criminal justice, of our very thoughts.

Evil exists.  No matter how much you have been sinned against, there is no excuse to indulge in it.  And yeah, no matter if you’ve never experienced trauma, evil is there.  The creature in the space behind your eyes wants unlimited power and control.  Everyone does.  It needs no explanation.  It just needs to be acknowledged as being there, as needing to be curbed and kept under control.

There is no amount of devotion to science or social justice that makes you clean of the very basic human impulse for dominion over others from which evil descends.

Prospero’s Island had Caliban.  The garden had a serpent.  And you too are tainted by evil, and if you ignore it it will control you.

Teach the children well.

Let’s turn ‘er ’round.

 

 

 

 

268 responses to “We’re Failing the Children

  1. I saw Black Panther yesterday. The Big Bad “had a disfunctional childhood” and so on. But the story doesn’t explain how he became a US Special Forces soldier and stayed so bad, nor does it point out that his dad and mom were not married, and apparently mom did not have custody or was not living with his dad. No mom appears in Killmonger’s story, as shown on the screen. The minor bad is just a crazy-bad son-of-a-[gun].

    • …the story doesn’t explain how he became a US Special Forces soldier and stayed so bad…

      “Forget it, TXRed. It’s Hollywood.”

    • TXRed Hollywood thinks that all our soldiers are evil baby killers who rape and kill and maim for their own amusement. This has been an article of faith for all of the left since at least the Vietnam War and likely from time immemorial. Special forces are even worse (They killed Bin Laden for no reason didn’t they?).

      • They did manage to push it aside for WWII and a while after. The In the Mood scene in The Glenn Miller Story is pure Hollywood hokum, but in a way that actually feels good. They must be ashamed of it now, of course.

      • Yeah, which makes the layers of “Captain America is good, Special Forces [potentially] evil” even stranger. Not Doc Strange strange, but still *confused cat head-tilt* strange. Ah, Marvel – bordering on Doctor Who-level continuity.

        • Latest Marvel twist on Captain America in the comics has him as a deep cover Hydra operative or something of the sort. So much for “Captain America is good.”

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            That’s over.

            The Real Captain America took down Captain Hydra.

            • And that is a classic comic book plot …

              Oh woes, our good guy is bad! (Hopefully there will be lots of publicity and interest generated due to the apparent reveal.)

              Yeah! The bad guy is not actually our true good guy! (Some kind of explanation how this identity problem occurred / was created.)

              Now: Will the real good guy be able to defeat his evil doppelganger?

              Ya’ think there is any question(s) here?

              Maybe: How stupid do the writers think the readers are? How little do they understand the readership? The readers read the comics in spite of the writers.

              • And this is after they double-dog triple-cross-their-hearts insisted it was the real cap.

              • That’s a classic Author’s Saving Throw: a kludgy ret-con to explain away what you were doing.

                • To quote Eliza Dolittle, ‘Hey, what is you sniggering at?’

                  Comic books are not just pulp mags for children … Theys real art they are.

              • Any tips for someone with a few graphic novel type things noodling about that might work for that audience? (other than let heroes be good?) Available reading recommendations also appreciated. (Got several on the manga end from here. h/t of thanks to all who helped with that.)

          • Nah, they ‘fixed’ that by undoing the reality-altering cosmic cube thing that turned him bad, and it turns out it wasn’t the ‘real’ Cap at all. The ‘real’ Cap got summoned by a cosmic cube that a not-mutant (Inhuman) vomited up, because his not-mutant power is to vomit up needed items like a deus ex machine (I’m not kidding).

            And the ‘real’ Cap went on a road trip, accidentally got frozen and sent forward in time seven years into an America turned into a dystopian dictatorship by a Trump stand-in (I’m not kidding) and had to be saved by his new sidekick, a steroid-popping lesbian.

            Not kidding.

            But at least they took him in a brave new direction from being a Trump stand in to beating up a Trump stand-in.

            Yay?

            • As I’ve said in other places, I can name at least 10 channels on youtube that are making good money by mocking how bad comics, especially Marvel comics, have become. Yes, they are losing money (heck, IDW’s net income dropped 91% in 2017), so higher-ups are apparently suddenly paying attention, but you don’t fix something like that overnight.

              But at least they’re about to kill off fake-she-Thor, so that’s something.

            • a steroid-popping lesbian“? Well, I guess she doesn’t have to worry about her testicles shrinking.

              I cannot recall when last I read anything that made me so glad I stopped reading comics.

      • Chris Nelson

        If you want to hear about a recent MoH marine, give a listen to the story of Dakota Meyer at Jocko podcast.

        Be prepared to be mad and grieving at the same time.

        Nothing in Pervywood compares to real life. Nothing.

      • That’s the same-old-same-old that I remember Hollywood applying to Vietnam veterans. It infuriates me no end, that they are applying it again to more recent veterans.

    • Dan Hamilton

      He went to the Academy at a young age.

    • I think that’s from the comic book– and there are broken military folks, some were even before they got in and after they got out, but…dang it gets used a lot, doesn’t it? And there’s usually a secondary organization involved. (Family in the one case I know of– more passively dangerous than supervillain– and there’s the gang problem that pops up at times.)

      • Yep. All the gang guys who go in specifically to get weapons experience and so on. And probably a few others that don’t make the media, for Reasons.

        • I’m rather OK with not making too much public knowledge, especially since that means they have to convict folks on stuff not related to whatever they want hidden…but I’m paranoid like that.

        • I keep hearing the “gangbangers joining the military to get weapons experience” thing, but… it doesn’t pass the WTF? test.

          First, they could just go to one of the private schools that teach such things. Some of them are fairly shady and don’t care who their customers are. Or for that matter, it ain’t rocket science; they can download the operators’ manuals from the US Government’s open web sites, then watch some YouTube videos.

          Then I’m expected to believe that they’d accept military discipline, at least long enough for “weapons training,” without getting booted out.

          Then they’d have to pass regular drug tests for their whole time in the service.

          Then they have to *get* the weapons they’d been trained to use… you can buy AR-15s and AKs anywhere, and converting them to full-auto is trivial, but you’re not going to find LAWs or MGs at the local gangbanger boot sale.

          There’s way too much that doesn’t hold up in that scenario.

          • Except, anyone with serious time in the military has actually seen it. They usually do (or try to do) combat arms or some other short-timer job.

          • FWIW, the instances I’m familiar with, they joined to find out about weapons— as in, what the security procedures around them were, where they were stored, who had the keys, what the inspections to make sure they were where they should be were…..

            Basically, the same reason that less dedicated thieves will take a job at a store, and not show up to collect their paycheck. “Work” enough days to find out what the security is, and how to defeat it.

            Also for sales opportunities, and to bypass other gangs’ security. Recruitment, too.

            As you put a finger on– there ain’t a lot who make it to an honorable discharge!

            Quite possible that one of the guys who washed out of my class was that sort– he came through the main gate with pot on the dash board about a month before graduation. (Technically intelligent, had never been charged with anything; a guy a few classes ahead was a drug dealer who’d never been charged, but he seemed to be making a real go of going straight, for his son. We ended up at the same assignment. He couldn’t get a clearance, and they put him on security anyways. /headdesk )

          • It does happen… they tend to wind up mortal enemies of the the guys who joined to get away from the gangs. (One of my Sergeants was the ‘get away from the gangs’ type. He was good enough to try the sports route, but there was too much chance of crash and burn, so he went Army instead.) One of the best sergeants I had, but had ZERO tolerance for anything gang related.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Fanon from someone who hasn’t seen a single MCU movie, yet, and perhaps hasn’t seen the inside of a comic, other than Jim Zub’s Wayward, in twenty years.

      Killmaster was originally a good guy. He got into Special Forces due to inherited residual Wakandan super serum. There he made friends with the true hero of Captain America: Civil War. But then the US government experimented on him with Winter Soldier formula. Then he and his best friend discovered that his father had been murdered by the Wakandan Dictator. Combined with the effects of the winter soldier serum, the knowledge broke him. His friend goes on to bring the murderous tyrant to justice in an attempt to heal Killmaster’s broken mind.

      Makes perfect sense.

  2. Saddam couldn’t have Weapons of Mass Destruction because most of Iraq didn’t even have a safe source of water.

    Odd thing, that. Nobody would have ever made such a defense of a right-wing autocrat, such as General Pinochet. Heck, they wouldn’t even grant Reagan relief on that, demanding to know, “Why are we building and deploying cruise missiles when there’s kids in America going to bed hungry?”

    • richardmcenroe

      From what I recall, Pinochet kept the water running.

      • Okay, I grant that seems to be more than Socialist dictators can manage, based on reports from Cuba and Venezuela.

      • Puts him one up on his Soviet-backed counterparts

      • I’m not sure why it is that right-wing dictators seem so much better at that. Those like Pinochet are bad, true, but they don’t seem to leave their countries in quite the same ruin that the Commies do.

        • They seem to lean towards autocracy, not totalitarianism. So they make less take if the taps don’t run, since ideology comes in a very distant second to profit and glory.

        • People like Pinochet want people to obey them but otherwise you can live with them in most cases. Not nice or good but can be placated.

        • Because they don’t want to remake humanity.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          It makes perfect sense when you think about information science, controls theory, and thermodynamics.

          Thermodynamics tells us stuff doesn’t just happen. Energy and organization has to get put into a human system to fix it faster than it breaks.

          Controls theory tells us about feedback for system stability, and optimization theory tells us that there a better and worse ways of making decisions. Ways of making decisions that are more or less efficient, demanding less and more energy be spent fixing things.

          Information science tells us why the communist and socialist solutions to these problems are hot garbage, driving the energy costs high, and shifting society to a more broken equilibrium. Then the communists get pissy about it not working, not justifying their grasp of power, and murder and torture to make people lie about things working well.

          It is more of a mystery why the communists don’t make things much worse, much faster. (I think the answer is because of the limits to the power of real governments.)

          • Cultural inertia is a thing- people tend to do things the way they’ve always done them. You can tell when communist governments start tinkering with the culture because a famine happens.

    • i was under the impression that we (the u.s.) sold him wmd, and that he used them against his on people

      • IIRC his chemical weapon equipment was sourced from France

        • my bad

          • 11B-Mailclerk

            Chemical weapons manufacture requires the technologies of:
            Petroleum refining
            Fertilizer manufacture
            Pesticide manufacture

            That is all.

            Sarin, for example, is very similar to common insecticides, working the same way, but is very much more potent.

            The -delivery- of chemical weapons is something of an engineering art, but no more difficult than crop-dusting with a particularly hazardous pesticide. The binary agent chemical shell is a complex device, but we’ll within the means on 1930s tech.

            Iraq had everything needed to homebrew and deliver the stuff, since the 1950s. No one had to help them. All it took was intent and a little hate.

            • This. Big time. ANY country with a 1915-vintage chemical industry (meaning they can make their own pesticides) can manufacture chemical weapons. Which are, by definition, weapons of mass destruction.

              The big question is not capability (which just about everybody has), but intent and willingness. Having a pesticide factory is one thing. A pesticide factory plus a million unfilled chemical weapon artillery shells…another. A pesticide factory, a stockpile of unfilled CW artillery shells, and a history of having used chemical weapons recently? Hell, yes, it’s a threat!

        • Dan Hamilton

          Bought by France from the US.

          • Byzantine_Corporal

            X … … Y. This is the argument from association. The entire propaganda industry, notably including advertising, runs on counting such “impressions”. No actual connection need exist, it works directly on folks’ neural architecture. See Bernays, Skinner et al.

            It’s possible that you think you’re making an argument that the US supplied Saddam with WMD, but it’s more likely you’re a mis-educated cretin. Although US-hating shill is always on the table. Say some more, help us judge you fairly.

        • And some from Germany. France mostly sold hardware, they were second to the Russians in supplying Saddam’s military hardware.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I’ve “heard” that Saddam’s French friends (including those in the French government) told him that he could ignore George W. Bush because “they would stop the US from taking action”.

            Well, they stopped the UN from taking action but couldn’t stop the US. 😈

    • The idiot idea that Saddam did NOT have WMDs is a key to a lot of current moonbattery.

      Suck it up, Proggies. Saddam DID have WMDs. He had chemical shells. We knew he had them, and we found them. He also had a lot of weapons systems he wasn’t supposed to. He had literally tons of yellow cake uranium, which he wasn’t supposed to. We found biomass feedstock, and chemical weapons precursor chemicals, and a bunch of hidden laboratories.

      He did not have stockpiles of bioweapons actually ready to go. He did not have stockpiles of chemical weapons. He did not have nuclear warheads ready. That means we moved in time. It is clear from what we found he DID have that he intended to make all three as soon as he could.

      Of course, that means that the Iraq war was not only justified, but just in time. Amdmthe Proggies can’t admit that.

      • The fact that we have pictures of those WMDs and soldiers who were treated for exposure to some of those gasses is immaterial to the true believers, who know for a FACT the evil Bush invaded Iraq for the oil.

        Still no rational explanation for the truck caravans to Syria except for the idea they were removing weapons stockpiles to an ally who wasn’t about to be invaded.

        • There’s a lot of effort to conflate “WMD” with “functional nukes.”

        • one of the arguments the fools that harassed Cars over at Elf Life liked to point out the WMD we found did not count because it was either “too old” or it was marked by the UN for disposal, ignoring the fact old shells can still work, and the marked for disposal rounds had not been disposed of like Saddam claimed.
          And they forever refused to consider what was transported to Syria because supposedly Saddam and Assad hated each other too much, or it was humanitarian aid, even if it never showed up in the aid area. Never got a good explanation for what it was the Russians went in a pulled out. They had a far too large amount of free-range tech wander off during the break-up.

      • Let’s keep in mind that Teddy “Lying of the Senate” Kennedy apparently believed in Saddam’s WMDs and loudly warned of the disaster that would ensue should we invade.

      • Oh! Forgot a quibble– he didn’t have stockpiles of chemical weapons we didn’t already know about.

        Some of them had moved, and he was refusing to let us look at them, sometimes period and sometimes “just” with exceptions that violated his agreement, and some of the ones we knew about vanished entirely.

        That violated the cease-fire and was enough justification all on its own……

        • Oh, Saddam never came within shouting distance of meeting the cease-fir conditions. And that, ultimately, is why we had to invade Iraq. If we wanted future terms with others in the middle east to be taken seriously we had to be seen to enforce the ones we had with Saddam.

      • He *said* he had them.

        And that he would use them against the USA.

        If he didn’t have any “weapons of mass destruction”, too bad.

        “Words have consequences.”

        • Nyah – you know those tinpot dictators lie all the time. Except when they put up signs in English saying things like “Baby Milk Factory” and “Nothing To See Here!”

  3. Great post. You’re right on the money… I’m glad I homeschooled and am sending my kids to a private school instead of the sick public ones. I gave it a shot in the beginning, they are far worse than when we went to school, I tell you that. I volunteered the whole year my son was in Kindergarten. I learned a LOT about just how messed up and politicized the “school” system is…

    • Heh. If you’re following along in the Thomas Sowell reading of “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” you will find his essay on modern education enlightening. To call him scathing is to describe a fusion bomb as “a bit of a boom.”

      • *…thinks of Jackie Gleason describing what a huge bomb ‘You’re in the Picture’ was…*

        Gleason: Last week we did a show that laid the biggest bomb—it would make the H-bomb look like a two-inch salute.

  4. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of minor children, and non-minor children, who need to be spanked with the axe; because you’re never going to be able to “fix” them. And our “kinder” and “gentler” nation doesn’t have either the brains or the courage to do it.

    Due process requires we wait for them to pee on the rug, or chew up the furniture before we lop their heads off; which is kind of rough on the rest of us being peed on or chewed up.

  5. There’s also the reverse story: X only became a hero because of trauma. I rather liked Young Avengers when it first started appearing, and I particularly liked Kate Bishop, a young woman who admired superheroes and set out to become one by intensive training in suitable skills—a thing that some people would surely do if there were superheroes, just as some people set out to become athletes. Then one of the writers apparently decided that wasn’t an interesting origin, and gave her a backstory where she had been raped in her midteens and superheroism was her way of dealing with the trauma. And okay, dealing with being wronged is a possible origin story—it was Batman’s, and before him the Count of Monte Cristo’s—but it’s been done a lot, to the point of cliché. (And I understand that it’s now a commonplace to show female superheroes being raped, which I think is a really disturbing trend.) What they came up with originally was a lot more original and interesting.

    And as TXRed points out above, Killmonger had the same origin story. Though I took the movie as being less a story about childhood trauma than a classic aristocratic story of familial conflict and vengeance, the sort of thing you might base an opera on.

    • I am severely displeased with the writer who changed Kate Bishop’s backstory have her raped as the motivation for training to become a superhero. What he, or she did, was send a message to all women that they can never excel until they’ve been raped and victimized. Which pushes them to finding as many things to be victimized as possible to explain their success rather than attributing it to plain old hard work and dedication.

      That’s kind of like saying nobody can be in the military special forces unless they’ve been brutalized by their parents, classmates, local bullies and gang members.

      • Yes, exactly. Why shouldn’t we have a story about someone whose motivation for becoming a superhero was that they wanted to achieve something, do something good, protect people, and the like? It was good enough for Captain America (at least until Marvel’s current writers started messing around with him!). I don’t see how it’s a “pro-woman” message to say that a man can aspire to the good for its own sake but a woman has to have been traumatized.

        I have to say, Marvel’s current comics writers shouldn’t be trusted with any good character. You can say what you like about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but its heroes make the comics versions look like moral pygmies. (Unhappily, most of DC’s film writers are at least as bad as their comics writers; the Superman vs. Batman story was a major disappointment.)

        • There was a Charles deLint book that had a character who helped with feeding the homeless—and she felt weird about the fact that she had no trauma in her background, unlike most of her coworkers, until one of them pulled her aside and said that they appreciated her help all the more because she didn’t have to have a “reason” to do so aside from pure altruism.

          • Huh. Awaiting moderation. I wonder what the term was.

          • I had a group of friends where most of us grew up a little rough. Some poor, some with abusive or missing parent(s). The usual. We also had one friend who had a particularly idyllic childhood. When we would get together and swap “war stories” about the trouble we would get into, our golden child would get upset (especially after a glass or two of wine) and apologize because she felt guilty for having such a nice childhood. We would all tell her not to feel bad because we liked the (rare) times when we could get her to tell stories about nice things. Catered birthday parties, family vacations (stomping grapes in France, and her mom refusing to drink wine for the rest of the trip because ew feet), her dad trying to hide a new pony in the garage (hilarity ensued). It was nice to know that the kind of childhoods that we all dreamed about were real and that somebody actually lived them.

            • SheSellsSeashells

              I always considered my childhood to be mildly unconventional, if that. Nothing really to fuss about. Then I scholarshipped my way into a froofy university and was trading stories with some other freshmen. My funny-story-about-my-dog started out with “well, when Dad bugged the phones to get evidence on Mom, she had to call the repairman…”

              I realized at that point my definition of “conventional” might be a little…off.

        • Clark Savage, Jr. is not only forgotten nowadays, he’d be incomprehensible to most people if they brought him back.

          Doc Savage worked *hard* to be who he was, every day.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Ah, but Doc was the victim of a father who wanted a “Super-Kid”. 😉

          • I’ve started reading the original Doc Savage book. It’s a wee bit übermensch. As in “super human by mere determination, good breeding and excellent education.” It’s… wow.

          • Yes, exactly. Doc Savage was supposedly the result of the, “give me the child and I will give you the man” concept. Although if you take PJ Farmer’s approach, Doc Caliban was a result of both mutation and intensive training from an early age. Most people would consider Savage’s childhood to be child abuse; although the character himself appears to be largely free of any mental illness. A bit socially awkward, especially with the opposite sex; which probably appealed to the young teen boys who were the target audience for the stories.

            • Terry Sanders

              In one of the middle-period books, Dent repeated his origin elevator speech, then mentiuned that Doc sometimes wondered what kind of a father would do that to his son. Then he’d shrug aod go back to work.

              • Clearly Doc had an engineer’s mind.

                Clark Senior sounds pretty much like a typical Victorian Era American dad.

                • Terry Sanders

                  Except no other Victorian-era American dad would’ve had the resources. And even then, I suspect most of them would’ve flinched when it came time to actually ship the kid off to Scientific Orphange Hell.

                  • Check out the biography of John Stuart Mill. His father, James Mill, raised him with an insanely intensive regimen of mental training. Mill actually ended up as a really brilliant and knowledgable man, but also one who had some emotional problems that he had trouble recovering from.

          • He was deliberately forgotten.

            Conde Nast owns the copyright to the stories, and had been diligent about not letting them be republished or escape into the public domain.

            • That will probably change, as Shane “Lethal Weapon” Black discusses:


              They aren’t going to pass up the tie-in loot.

              • Dang. While I don’t know an incredible lot about Dwayne Johnson, I do know his family background*– and I think if he’s go even slightly decent directing and script, he is going to slaughter that role.

                *Union of two wrestling families, but dad doesn’t seem to have been around later on. Dude doesn’t talk about it much, I’m not going to dig more than that.

          • I’m not so sure he would be incomprehensible. Doc is in many ways a stereotypical Olympic-level athlete. He’s borderline obsessive about what he does…because it’s what he IS.

            The real key would be to make him believably superior. He’s good, but not unstoppable.

            And tempting as it would be to make him brood about the normal life he can’t have, I’d avoid it. Smarter to play the noblesse oblige card – he’s the Superior Man who takes on the burden of fighting Evil because he’s he only man who can.

            • Terry Sanders

              THE BLACK DAGGER, I think it was, started out with Doc taking a vacation. He’d read that stress relief was important, so he decided to try it.

              He used is amazing disguise skills to make himself up as a more or less ordinany guy. He preflighted one of his planes made for undercover work–again, ordinary-looking. He skipped his morning ungodly exercise routine and flew to a randomly-selected airport, went into the greasy spoon next door, and had the first meal he could remember that wasn’t scientifically planned, cooked, etc. (Dent’s description of Doc’s reaction to his first greasy-spoon hamburger was worth the whole book.)

              Then a mysterious villain destroyed his plane and hung a huge black dagger in the sky above it, and he had to go back to work. He was greatly relieved.

        • DC suffers, at least in part, from the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any overarching idea behind the setting besides “Make Warner Bros. lots of money!” Movies and ideas are being thrown out pretty much at random just to see what sticks, and the only thing that ties them together (at least so far) is the obligatory Batman cameo. For instance, Superman hasn’t even had a proper solo sequel yet, and they’ve already got a Shazam movie slated for next year.

          For those not familiar, Shazam is the character formerly known as Captain Marvel (name changed to by DC to avoid confusion with Marvel’s multiple characters with the same name), who was originally created by a non-DC company to be a thinly veiled copy of Superman. To this day, he’s still pretty similar to Superman as far as powers and ideals are concerned. So instead of giving Superman himself a chance to grow and develop in his own films, DC is already pushing his copy out in front of movie viewers.

          • Shazam/Capt. Marvel is not a Superman copy, really. He’s THE classic “magical boy” hero, complete with a boy temporarily, magically, becoming a man hero, after being chosen for his worthiness.

            His sister, Mary Batson/Mary Marvel, was the first “magical girl” hero who had an adult alterego. (And she was invented by sf writer Otto Binder, of Eando Binder fame.)

            • His origin and transformation is different, of course. But Marvel’s powers are suspiciously similar to Superman’s (aside from the Wisdom of Solomon bit), and in setting filled with today’s modern cynical superheroes, he tends to be one of the more idealistic superheroes (though I admit it’s been a little while since I last checked in on him).

            • He’s such a copy that there were several lawsuits that only ended because DC bought Fawcett. And then promptly had Otto Binder continue writing the same sorts of stories he’d been writing for Fawcett, only with Superman in the central role.

              That last, of course, did absolutely nothing to help differentiate the two characters.

    • Well, Hollywood (and comics, these days) are completely devoid of any creative spark.

    • I’ve heard complaints that I ought to show more of a character’s backstory to explain how he got that way.

      Which is why there is a work in progress where a whole bunch of characters all explain that a certain event had a deep impact on them. And all explain it differently.

  6. The dehumanization of a segment of population won’t happen unless it’s somehow racial and there’s white supremacy involved.

    I note with apprehension the recent legal revisions in South Africa allowing confiscation of property from caucasian farmers without recompense, for purposes of redistribution. As I understand it, the SA diaspora that has been underway for a while is accelerating as the writing on the wall becomes more starkly explicit, and I just read where Oz is figuring out how to open their immigration categories wider to accommodate those fleeing.

    But those racist confiscatory laws against a segment of a population, and the horrors I’m sadly sure will follow, are of course justified by that historical arrow thingee.

    • What I want to know is when the Zulus and the Xhosa are going to give back the lands they seized from the original Capoid inhabitants. Fair’s fair.

      • Dan Hamilton

        That would be the Whites, you know. The Whites were there before those Johnny come lately Blacks.

        • I had the impression that peoples related to the Bushmen were there before either of the other two groups.

          • Dan Hamilton

            True, but the Bantu (Blacks) were killing them as they moved south. The Whites didn’t kill them, just took their land and gave them jobs. It would be hard to find any today.

      • Yes, well the Zulus and Xhosas have the same skin color as the original inhabitants of the land, and thus them taking it is almost as good as giving it back to the “rightful owners.”

  7. One big problem is public schools trying to build self esteem and it turning people into narcissists, which is really not good.

    Western world has moved from religious society, where Adam and Eve ignore message straight from God, to more self centred society that embraced Rousseau belief people are great as long as other people leave them alone.

    In Scotland, there are three verdicts in court cases, guilty, not guilty and not proven(jury thinks defendent is guilty but not enough evidence to convict). My scottish grandmother thought court system should get rid of not guilty because all humans are guilty of something.

    • The sad thing is that the self-esteem movement grew out of Ayn Rand’s ideas, by way of Nathaniel Branden, whose first book on psychology was titled “The Psychology of Self-Esteem.” But Rand, and Branden, when he was with her, emphasized that self-esteem had to come from striving: on one hand, to achieve things, and on the other, to be morally worthy. That kind of got lost as self-esteem was popularized (and I’d bet most of its proponents would shudder in horror if they learned they were adopting a phrase from Ayn Rand!).

      It seems to me that infants do gain unearned self-esteem from being valued, especially by their mothers; and that may be a desirable jumpstart to human development. But for adults, self-esteem is worth what you paid for it.

      • Interesting about Rand and I agree that self esteem should be earned, be good at something and you are contributing to society in a positive way. Most humans are hard wired to think positively of ourselves, life would be long indeed is you thought poorly of yourself.

        Over the years, I’ve had a number of women in my life mention they wish they had as much confidence as many men do. Public schools have been taken over by females and I think focus of self esteem is them trying to raise confidence of girls but it is not working.

        • Self confidence is not quite the same thing as self esteem. And I’d say at least half the boys in public schools lack self confidence.

        • Self esteem means nothing if you are given it. You must earn it. Self esteem comes from doing one or more things good or great; a good job done right & you know it is right, not “just good enough” or “good try”. Even, especially, if no one else knows what you did.

          • I generally agree, but as I said, I think it works differently for infants. A year or so of being the most precious thing in the world to someone seems to help get a better start.

            • Agree with infants & toddlers. But at some point kids have to learn, yes I will always love you, but I won’t always like your actions & actions have consequences.

              • “Kid, I love you.  Because I love you, see the best in you, want the best for you, I don’t ever want to see you hurt others or yourself.  Don’t do x, y, or z.”

                Love no more means accepting everything or anything on the part of the loved one as if good than tolerance requires affirmation.  Those two mistakes presently are running hand in hand, much to the detriment of society.

              • Sure. I don’t have a problem with that. Human beings aren’t meant to remain infants forever, except perhaps in the perfect socialist Cloudcuckooland.

                • My grandchild is about to turn one. He has approximately eight adults who think he is the most wonderful child ever and his mother does.not.permit him to pull hair or steal glasses. And he is proud of himself when he sits in his grandfather’s lap and does *not* take his glasses. Self control starts early.

    • There were some studies done suggesting that the common-among-educators belief that self-esteem was necessary to make sure people lived happy and productive lives was exactly backwards: criminals and other anti-social types tended to have very high self-esteem, believing that they’re so important that other people and their rules just don’t matter. Really, what needs to be done is to build a little more humility into the system.

      • On the other hand, I’ve seen the destructive effects that chronically low self-esteem can have on people’s behavior. I think this may be one of the cases where Aristotle’s idea that the middle course is best is good advice.

      • I reckon you can trust social scientists to get things ass backwards most of time.

      • I worked in a state prison. Had an inmate assistant one time, my age, mid 50’s at the time. He told me what a great father he was. He had 10 kids- from 10 different women. He had spent half his adult life in state prisons, 2 years at a time. A criminal, but not a bad criminal. His male children had all spent time as government guests, or were currently spending time. His daughters all had kids before 18 and were all on welfare. BUT, he was a great father. Told me so himself. No lack of self esteem at all. Was taking all the recommended counseling courses in prison also to boost his self esteem.

        My one time neighbor was a chaplain in the prison system for a few years- and quit. said no one, no one at all, should be allowed to work in the prison system for more then 4 years, even it involved drafting prison guards. Said it corroded the soul. I think he had a good point. Judging from the people I met who worked there for a long time.

    • Some people find it useful to view the question as one of self-respect rather than self-esteem. Rather than “I’m the best!” it’s more “I refuse to demean myself by…”

    • Self-esteem is important. There are different kinds of esteem that are valuable.

      It is important to understand that you have value, simply by your mere existence. You were made, and therefore you have value, and you shouldn’t ever let go of that.
      There is also the esteem you have from holding firmly to your values, and not wavering. Sometimes called “being true to yourself.”
      Then, there is the esteem from accomplishing something.

      Of course, if the first one loses the “why”, it becomes meaningless and empty and simply a spot upon which hubris will grow. And hubris leads to evil.
      The second one is only beneficial if the values to which you hold are actually good ones. If you hold to evil values, then you are evil and we shouldn’t let you take pride in that.
      The third one is why the “compassionate” among us* went for that “self-esteem” thing. Because esteem based on accomplishment can be really low if you’re not equipped to actually excel. So, because we don’t want anyone to feel bad (because… TA-DA! they might turn into an evil person! It’s a friggin’ mobius strip) we downplay the third and emphasize the first – while taking away any reason for the first.

      (* Yes, those are air quotes around “compassionate”.)

    • The modern way of instilling self esteem is by empty praise- participation trophies and the like. It’s empty and meaningless, because you don’t know how you really did, because there’s no useful feedback. Which leads to even more self doubt.

      • So the usual getting-it-backwards of cause and effect, incidentally doing major damage to the genuine article.

      • scott2harrison

        Have to disagree. Such things tend to cause you to base your opinion of yourself on other people’s expressed opinion of you. This makes you desperate to control other people, because if they ignore you you don’t exist. In other words Narcissism. Or to put it bluntly the modern way of instilling self-esteem is not empty, it is and creates evil.

  8. “Prospero’s Island had Caliban.”

    Ah, but Caliban was just the innocent victim of the evil European colonization of the island. If only Prospero had stayed away, Caliban and Ariel would have frolicked happily around the island, enjoying the beauty of nature and living in harmony.

    (I had a friend who had to take a class on “Reinterpretations of the Tempest” in college. Believe me, I’ve heard all about Caliban and COLONIALISM!!!)

  9. No feedback, no regulation, and things blow…
    The utter horror of when some/everyone is consequence free, or considers the consequences of no real meaning.

  10. On the personal level again, thinking that evil has origin in hurt, in some great wrong, that no one becomes evil without being first a victim, leads to people not understanding their own hearts.

    This sounds a lot like Original Sin, stripped of free will… sort of Christianity lite, now with less requirements.

    • I think this might be some what related to the whole “psychopath/sociopath” thing where they’ve basically defined what was normal– nobody outside of my group is “really” a person, I can kill them elaborately for entertainment and it’s totally cool– into a mental disorder. It’s training, a world view. A really good world view, based off of the results, but failure to hold the view at least in theory that all humans are human isn’t actually insane.

      But that’s the only way to say “no, that’s evil” they’ve left open.

      • Pretending that this isn’t true and, yes, normal makes it impossible to understand History or even current events.

        I think that it’s a very good thing that we are moving toward seeing all humans as “really a person” but in marginal environments it’s rational not to do that. And in Historical contexts it needs to be taken into account as something that might have been normal, depending.

        • Oh, the horrific failure mode… realize, Dear Humans, that if you can’t sort out who is and is not Evil amongst yourselves…. You all look alike to us “monsters.” And the worst of us will use that, with glee and abandon. And that will be NOTHING compared to the human monsters unleashed.

          You see…
          We tire.
          We eventually have our fill of your flesh.
          We eventually have “enough” territory.
          We eventually are even sexually sated.
          BUT..
          We have NO pretense it is “for your own good.”
          That, dear Humanity, is not ours; That is your own Special EVIL.
          You poor bastards.

          Alternately, you mighty clever monkeys can get this sorted and have… the whole Universe. It’s just sitting out there, waiting for you.

          Your choice.

  11. You don’t smack children, even once and with great deliberation, because of course, if we hurt them, they’ll turn evil. (“You’ll just teach them violence.”)
    This always makes me want to hurt people.

    • Right?

    • To be fair, you have to know the personality of the child in question. Time outs are really effective for one of my kids, and spanking is not a good option* for another.

      *You have a kid who can’t read emotion well, and pain is just a beating, no connection. We eventually figured out good methods, but kept him in a harness so he wouldn’t run into the street. 🙂

      • Oh, it’s not the “not every kid should be spanked” that annoys me. It’s the “no kid ever should be spanked” and particularly the “it just teaches them to solve things by violence” stupidity that gets me seething.

        (BTW, there was an intended joke in there, too. *sigh* )

        • This. The only way we could stop Robert mid-gallivant (usually something stupid or dangerous) was to smack his bottom hard enough that he stopped and HEARD us.
          His brother? We could distract him with a toy, then explain.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          I think my kid got about five spankings before she was too old to be spankable. All of them *hugely* effective. She didn’t file it under “pain”; she filed it under “this is a tangible reminder that I have Lost Face by screwing up and THAT IS INTOLERABLE I WILL NOT LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN”. Weird kid in some ways… 🙂

          • I think younger son got about that many. Older son got swats on butt almost everyday by age 4. After that didn’t need them. Signally the only two occasions he deserved a REALLY BIG spanking (both endangered life, one his, one his brothers) I didn’t even touch him. He remembers those. I went very white and told him to get out of my space and that if I saw him in the next two hours, I’d probably beat him, and I was afraid I couldn’t stop.
            He remembers those.

      • We called it consequences. Never resorted to the swat or time out for our (one) child. Never had to. OTOH, we did use the harness & leash. Then the consequences at Yellowstone, etc., since we are big natural park & back country hikers were pretty severe, & ones we were not willing to make.

        When he was older he learned consequences of breaking his arm while making not good choice of going down a ramp at the school (also known as the school slide) … But, different consequences when he broke the other arm learning physics when a bike suddenly stops (due to a rock) & the rider doesn’t (not the same year). Former, since broken arm was result of bad choice, not only did he have to repeat what he did to EVERYONE, repeatably; everything planned or came up, requiring arm use, until arm healed, was off the table. Later, since not result of bad choices, yes he still had to repeat what happened*, but only once & got sympathy. Everything planned or came up, that required use of arm, work around was found.

        * Ever take a kid in for medical care with broken/bruised anything lately? Kid had a classmate who broke both arms at once on playground equipment at recess. His mother swore she was going to get T-Shirts made that front & back stated “IT HAPPENED AT SCHOOL!!!”

        • Thankfully we haven’t had anything bad enough to go to the hospital….but one of the littles discovered that yes, mom did have a reason to say “don’t run” in the store.

          Tripped turning around to smirk at me, landed face first at full speed on the bottom support of the shopping cart.

          No blood, got an ice pack on it fast, but still bruised up the whole side of her face… canceled a couple of publicly visible things until it went down, the last thing we need is a well-meaning nurse looking at the mom who yells** and the beautiful little angel* with a huge bruise and calling CPS.

          Once it didn’t look so bad, we stopped worrying.

          * Satan is an angel, don’t you forget.
          ** four please no, ignored; one FIRST SECOND LAST NAME, dead stop.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            I had then-toddler Kid at the grocery store once, where she was being awful and crowned the whole thing by scampering blithely away while I was pinned in between other shoppers in the checkout line. My resulting growl of “get over here *now*”, made the woman in front of me flinch, the kid in the next line over hide behind his dad, and the young cashier in front of me remark “daaaaaaamn, you sound just like my momma.”

          • Not visible break, more hairline fractures, so hospital not involved. Went to After Hours Child Clinic. First instance of unending questions by clinic staff, both medical & non, involved kid slipping & falling while playing cul-de-sac basketball at a kindergarten birthday party. Thought it was really bad road rash. But, decided that night to get it double checked. Little finger had hairline fracture. Questions stopped when kid started yelling/screaming at staff because they kept asking “what went wrong”. I just let him (to make my/his point). They started it. Learned our lesson. That was just the medical questions, school started it up the next week! He had classmates helping with telling the story, so that died down fast.

            Next trip was the roller skating incident (7 years later). Question process started immediately, looked at them & said, “yes (son) what happened?” then to receptions staff “Fyi. Telling what happened is part of his punishment.” He got asked once. Ditto on the bike accident, although, second half was missing, as (although technically physics was the cause of both breaks) bad decisions weren’t involved.

            After seeing the relentless questions my son went through, it is amazing to me that true child abuse is not rooted out immediately. Neither medical clinic staff nor school would let me (us) provide ANY explanations as to what happened, kid had to provide them. I know child abuse problem is a lot more complicated, but not having any experience with it …

            • They don’t ask the nasty, violent ones.

              You know that reaction you get when someone is really upset, and you just sort of avoid them?

              A mom that’s upset because her kid is hurt doesn’t have that…aura… of subconcious “dangerous to do anything.”

              So folks explain things away. Unless the abuser gets REALLY dumb.

              And the long term abusers tend to be *smart* about how they do it.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Satan is an angel, don’t you forget.

            Dad reminded Mom of that after she got a local “Angel Award”.

            She gave him her “Dark Brown Look”. 😉

        • The Grumpy Professor (blog gone inactive) had to take daughter #2 to the ER for a broken wrist after the 8 or so year old fell out of a tree. After the umpteenth time a nurse said, “It’s OK dear, you are safe, you can tell us what happened,” a little voice came from the back of the ER and announced in piercing and carrying tones, “For the eighth time, I fell out of a tree. Damnit, why are you not listening to me!” End of questions.

          • Terry Sanders

            It’s not just kids. My late wife went to a clinic with some bruises, and they tried to get her to say I did it. I had been driving my truck through several other states for weeks at the time, and was not present. So they tried to get her to say the friend who’d brought her in did it.

            At which point she might have done some violence herself if another doctor hadn’t come in and got the first one out. Something about being accused of adultery *and* of letting her “lover” beat her didn’t go over well…

            • I have vague recollection of reports that, under Obamadon’tcare any medical personnel who fail to make such inquiries were potentially liable.

              I could be wrong, there was so much else problematic in that legislation …

            • Hubby & kid had to take me to the ER one weekend. Nurses asked what happened that I was “safe”. Kid was so helpful. “We waited forever not knowing where mommy was. Mommy got to came down the mountain laying on the sled.” With pantomime visuals. Which he was willing to repeat & repeat. Staff was entertained.

              Part of the problem I bruise very easily. So my tumble on the “easy” ski slope, my knee with the ACL, slightly torn, was swollen, & extremely bruised, so was anything I managed to hit as I tumbled & landed. I had bruises on my cheeks, arms, stomach, back, other leg, ass, probably everywhere except the back of my head.

              • It occurs to me to wonder whether such abusive inquiries occur when men arrive at the ward, especially considering that ample evidence exists showing that men are equally victims of physically abusive spouses (of all genders — remember, Jeffrey Dahmer talked his way out of multiple police stops by indicating he and his victim were gay lovers.)

                Even if the stats are slightly off, it would be potentially amusing to call out nosy parkers over their assumptions

        • OTOH, we did use the harness & leash. Then the consequences at Yellowstone, etc., since we are big natural park & back country hikers were pretty severe, & ones we were not willing to make.

          We were early adopters when we got The Daughter a leash and harness so we could all go hiking at Pilot Mountain.  She enjoyed the trip immensely.  We were able to do so as well.  Yes, the consequences of a sudden lunge was not one we were willing to make.

          • We only used the leash in international travel. Considering Robert decided he was not going to walk, and I had to drag him by it across JFK (he was one and a half) you can imagine the looks I got.
            didn’t work on younger, aka houdini.

        • My littlest broke his leg this year. I do know, from training my mother got, that abuse damage does not always look quite the same as normal kid damage.

      • Looooong boring lectures worked best with the Daughtorial Unit, especially if I could keep them randomly incoherent.

      • With The Daughter A smack on the butt used to gain attention worked.  Spanking was a complete bust, because the spanking itself would become the whole issue on her mind.

        I found that humorously stated explanations with fun to say words worked pretty well.  “Why don’t we run into the street?  Because you could get squished.  If you were squished it would make Daddy very sad, because Daddy can’t play with a squished little girl.”  

        On the other hand the use of the harness was presented a trade-off, “You can walk around with me holding on to your hand tightly the whole time OR you can wear your harness and have some freedom of movement.  Pick one.”

        • Yes, that worked when kid was old enough to express a choice. But mine started running at 8 months, & still hasn’t stopped; 8 months is/was a bit young for negotiations. Crawled @ 6 months, started standing @ 6 months, walking & running before 8 months. First & last time he did anything early, but I’m headed off topic.

          • We got the harness and leash for The Daughter shortly before we went to visit Pilot Mountain. They were pretty new to the market and she was nearing 18 months at the time.

            I recall walking down the street with The Daughter in her harness and being approached by one of the neighbors, an older lady who was in high dudgeon. She informed me that she had never seen anything like it, The Daughter was not a dog, but a human. I should be holding The Daughter’s hand. I acknowledged that she was a person, but suggested that the woman take an hour walk with her arm raised above her head as if she were a child walking with an adult. She looked sharply at me as she thought on this. Although she was obviously not happy with the idea of putting a harness and leash on a child she never again said a word about it.

            • Exactly!!!

              I’m only 5’4″. So kid could actually reach my hand, by the time he was about 3. Dad is 6’2″, nope, not happening, not until much older when harness not needed.

            • I got much the same reactions from older women – Oh look at that poor child, being treated like a dog! – but other young mothers like myself thought the thing as a brilliant idea (and would ask me where to purchase the leash and harness.)

              Son liked the thing since it allowed him to run a bit ahead of me in the mall, but have that reassuring limitation and he couldn’t lose me in the crowd. If I’m blessed with toddler/s again in the future, I’ll have them on their safety lines.

              Interestingly, the concept of ‘safety harness as a reassuring tool’ is used as an important plot device in one of Anne Bishop’s recent books – the Others series. The heroine presents it as a comforting ‘buddy safety line’ to a severely emotionally traumatized werewolf child, which reassures him of her presence and ‘he won’t lose her that way.’ The other werewolves don’t like it because as far as they’re concerned, it’s a leash, and makes him look like a pet, and react violently. For a series that is full of trauma and horror and cruelty, it manages to also bring about a great deal of heartwarming and funny. But because of the related traumas I’ve cautioned my husband against reading the series once I got to a certain book (I know it would spoil his enjoyment.)

    • Better they should learn it at home than on the street corner or playground.

  12. You’re talking about Original Sin. No more and no less. If something has to happen to make someone “bad” then they started out innocent and perfect and pure instead of fallen and in need of redemption.

    It’s true that being abused can mess people up, but I just realized that this reminded me of my SiL who grew up in foster homes and was listening to some Christian show and they were saying to pick a partner who had strong and stable Christian examples growing up. Well where did that leave her? On the one hand, it’s far easier to make it in life if you had great parents, which is why we all want to *be* great parents. But no one really is a great parent either. And SiL is about as close as people get to being a great parent and a wonderful person. Partly because she tries.

    Which is the other thing and was mentioned up above… all those people who think they don’t have any work to do because nothing in their life happened to “make them bad.”

    • If something has to happen to make someone “bad” then they started out innocent and perfect and pure instead of fallen and in need of redemption.
      And this is the intended result of modernism – to remove sin (and God) from the equation so that man is preeminent.

    • I don’t think you need original sin to explain that some people do gratuitously bad things. You just need free will.

      Alex calls this one in A Clockwork Orange (the book, not the film): No one discusses “what is the cause of goodness?” so what discuss “what is the cause of evil?” As Alex sees it, he’s just patronizing the other shop. And there may be reasons to be a good person rather than a bad one, but if you have freedom of choice, you can choose not to act on those reasons, right?

      • Arguably, “What is the cause of goodness?” is a much more interesting question. Seeing a stranger suffering by the side of the road, someone who is no one to you, not even a distant relative, and choosing to help that person…well, let’s just say that the Good Samaritan was not a typical example of humanity. What makes someone like that?

      • /sigh

        I really hope Anthony Burgess was deliberately alluding to Chesterton, there. (“On the negative spirit.” )

        • It seems very improbable that an English author of his generation and education would not know Chesterton, nor expect his audience would. He graduated Victoria College, Manchester, with a B.A. in English in 1940 and, per Wiki:

          Although Burgess was predominantly a comic writer, his dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange remains his best known novel.[2] In 1971 it was adapted into a highly controversial film by Stanley Kubrick, which Burgess said was chiefly responsible for the popularity of the book. Burgess produced numerous other novels, including the Enderby quartet, and Earthly Powers, regarded by most critics as his greatest novel. He wrote librettos and screenplays, including for the 1977 TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth. He worked as a literary critic for several publications, including The Observer and The Guardian, and wrote studies of classic writers, notably James Joyce. A versatile linguist, Burgess lectured in phonetics, and translated Cyrano de Bergerac, Oedipus Rex and the opera Carmen, among others.

          [SNIP]

          Burgess started his career as a critic. His English Literature, A Survey for Students, was aimed at newcomers to the subject. He followed this with The Novel To-day (Longmans, 1963) and The Novel Now: A Student’s Guide to Contemporary Fiction (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1967). He wrote the Joyce studies Here Comes Everybody: An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader (also published as Re Joyce) and Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce. Also published was A Shorter ‘Finnegans Wake,’ Burgess’s abridgement. His 1970 Encyclopædia Britannica entry on the novel (under “Novel, the”) is regarded as a classic of the genre. Burgess wrote full-length critical studies of William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway and D. H. Lawrence, as well as Ninety-nine Novels: The Best in English since 1939.

          Emphasis added.

    • Not so much original sin, as we’re all broken. falling angel meets rising ape.

  13. On the “no restraint” angle, if you don’t have massive power or money (a form of power, admittedly), you *will* be restrained. You can either restrain yourself (because you learned to do so, and hold to a moral code of some sort) or someone else will do so. In gov’t this translates to “American gov’t is only workable with a moral people.”

    As to parenting, you restrain the kiddos until they learn to restrain themselves. But that entails teaching your morals to your kid. Which you can’t do nowadays because “I don’t want to force my religion on my child” and “They should get to decide.”

    Which, again, makes me want to hurt people.

    • “I don’t want to force my religion on my child.”

      The people saying that don’t believe, then. Same goes for anyone saying that in general (“People shouldn’t force their religion on children.”) They not only don’t believe, they don’t understand belief. Because if you actually believe that your religion is all that’s saving your children from perdition, why wouldn’t you instill it in them?

      • The people saying that don’t believe, then.
        Yep.

      • Bingo.

        “I don’t want to force my child to believe in gravity.”

        “I want to make sure my child makes up their own mind about what happens if you walk into traffic.”

        It’s a philosophy. A view of how the world works. Slapping the label “religion” on it doesn’t change that.

        • St. Augustine had a funny/sad bit about this. “I want my child to learn religion only from the Holy Spirit directly” was the thing in his time and place. So he asked if people also wanted their kids to learn how to read and write from the Holy Spirit directly. Also, if they wanted to wait until the kids were old enough to choose their own language for them to start learning to speak one.

          • ….did St. Augustine’s friends have a variation for “oooh, want some ice for that burn”?

            #TotallyStealing

          • Terry Sanders

            We stupid Baptists don’t believe a child should be baptized until he has made his own peace with God. But even we aren’t stupid enough to think he doesn’t need to know Who he should be making peace with.

        • Well, you know, gravity would force your child to believe in it with or without your help. “I do business with the law of gravity too.”

          • So will the way that the universe works, it’ll just take longer, and hurt more.

            • Yes, but there are things you can really only learn by actually colliding with the universe a few times. That’s why prudence is a characteristically adult virtue; its essence is knowing the stuff that living an adult life gives you a chance to learn.

    • There’s also that a lot of the raising is being done by people who aren’t the parents– and there’s enough variation in morality to make that a hand grenade with no pin. Starting with parents whose functional morality is “my child is perfect.”

      • How the hell can someone believe that?!! Nobody is perfect. Children need to be taught how to act and how to believe. It’s an integral part of raising a child. I think that the old fashioned method of doing things had a lot of good points. You might want to tone it down, or change an emphasis but to abandon it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

        • You would think that anyone who spent any amount of time with his/her own child would quickly be disabused of the notion.

        • Studied ignorance.

          There are mothers who ask teachers to give a character reference for the son caught with a knife in school on the grounds that he’s a good boy.

        • How many kids are around younger kids before they have their own, these days?

          Parents are “urged” to wait until the elder is in school before having another, there aren’t many cousins, babysitting is not very normal…..

        • I have certainly met enough parents who thought so, to the point of flying into a screeching rage if anyone implied their Precious Darlings had done anything untoward.

  14. Human beings are born Sociopaths. Face it, babies don’t really care about anything but their own needs (nothing wrong with that btw… it just is what it is). No trauma required. They have to learn to care about others as they grow up (some take to it naturally, some you have to work at). Fail to teach them, and they grow into adults who are Sociopaths. Note, I’m not saying this is the ONLY way you get adult Sociopaths, just one of the ways. Some people have great parents, but they grow up and are s#!theads (still, no trauma required).

    I’ve known a few people who lived through severe trauma and became wonderful people. They KNOW how horrible things can be, and in spite of that (or because of it) they just want to help others.

    Sadly, I’ve also known a few who had severe trauma happen and are horrible people. One in particular constantly reminds everyone about her trauma and uses it as an excuse for every bad thing she does. All while demanding that everyone around her validates her and her trauma. Frankly, I remember her before the bad stuff… She would mix perfume and makeup together and feed it to her little brother hoping to make him sick (luckily, it was kiddie makeup, and… mostly… non-toxic). She would make him eat flowers, some of which did make him throw up, but didn’t cause any permanent damage. Now, I won’t say that she wouldn’t have grown out of it without the trauma… but I can’t imagine how that one would have ever grown up to be a nice person.

    • Part of growing up is learning that those other human things are people like you, and you aren’t the center of the universe.
      Some kids never get taught that lesson, and thus you have the modern snowflake who believes everyone should stop what they are doing because it triggers them, and makes them uncomfortable.

    • I’ve known a few people who lived through severe trauma

      Yeah, but look at how those Jews who survived the Holocaust went genocidal afterward, ruthlessly waging war on their neighbors in the Middle East, launching missiles inaccurately into villages and blowing themselves up in their neighbors’ schools, restaurants and even on their busses.

  15. Reblogged this on The zombie apocalypse survival homestead and commented:
    Sarah’s encapsulated r/K in a nutshell. (She might disagree ;o) Spoil a critter, he gets rotten. Humans too, or maybe especially.

  16. A major reason why the Establishment Left has downplayed the existance of evil is that if one knows it exists it isn’t hard to find in, say, the Soviet Gulags or the Chinese Logai. Or in the behavior of, say, Che.

    Since the Establishment Left has amhistory of writing love letters to Communist Russia, Communist China, and swine like Che, they can’t admit that their idols strongly resemble a certain Austrian monster.

  17. This is ultimately another problem that can be booked to the account of Rousseau. The idea of the Noble Savage mutates into the idea of the Inherently Virtuous Person very easily.

    The Christian (and particularly Catholic) idea of Original Sin may seem harsh, but it’s better that a saint think himself a sinner than a sinner think himself a saint. Safer for his neighbors.

    • Or the idea that a criminal is a basically good person forced into crime because of circumstance, a person that deep down wants to be good.
      That many humans get pleasure out of doing evil, of being feared, never crosses their minds.

      • “No man’s really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he’s realised exactly how much right he has to all this snobbery, and sneering, and talking about ‘criminals,’ as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he’s got rid of all the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he’s squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees; till his only hope is somehow or other to have captured one criminal, and kept him safe and sane under his own hat.”
        ― G.K. Chesterton, The Complete Father Brown

        • Exactly. Until you know, and accept in the depths of your soul that you — you personally — could be capable of committing the most horrible of evils … you are in danger of blindly walking into evil. Just because it is expedient, and you are not a bad person. Until you admit honestly to yourself that you can be tempted, that you yourself, your precious self could be tempted into doing the most hideous evil — you are in peril.
          In the old Lutheran liturgy, it goes, “Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against thee by thought, word, and deed. Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and
          imploring Thy grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
          You, not some random stranger, some faraway Nazi, some godless heathen — you.
          (He … where did this soapbox come from…)

          • Sounds like the ceremony at the start of modern Catholic Mass where we ask forgiveness. (Source of the phrase “mia culpa” in old books– translated now as “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” or “through my own fault”.)

            Don’t know how much it sinks in, but at least the idea is there.

            • Martin Luther was a devout Catholic-trained theologian, in good repute with the Mother Church, until he got some ideas about … reforming certain systemic abuses of the system, so of course there would be a certain resemblance in doctrine and practice.
              The Counter-Reformation picked up on most of his ideas, but too late to do anything to bring back the Lutherans and Calvinists. Offhand, I think about the only two serious differences remaining between hard-shell Lutherans and Catholics is the primacy of the pope and married clergy. Could be mistaken – it’s been a good long while since catechism classes.

              • Let’s just say about Luther that there is disagreement on how well trained or devout he is, primary evidence can be given for either side if anybody is interested enough to go dig, and leave it at that before we have a lot of heat and little light.
                ******
                You might get a kick out of the RPO from my boot camp, though– her dad was an Army chaplain. (Maybe still is, if they haven’t booted him from age!) She was doing the teen rebellion thing and decided she wasn’t Lutheran any more.
                …so she went as close to Lutheran as she could get, and identified as Catholic. Had some fun discussions with her and another Lutheran gal.

                (If anyone thinks this sounds familiar–yes, same gal whose dad was in the Pentagon when it was hit. He hurt his ankle helping the secretary out.)

            • “Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame, But I know, it’s my own damn fault.”
              -Thank you Jimmy Buffett

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I learned a lot about evil in preschool. Not because of any abusive adult. The other brats, and more importantly from seeing myself.

            I am the basis of much of my understanding of human evil.

            You may have had or seen someone having the experience of arguing with me over what ought to be done with substance abusers. Notice how resistant to persuasion I can be?

            Generally, I figure other people can be as stubborn as I can be when I have chosen something that is evil. For that reason, I am skeptical of the palliative value of persuasion, of physical abundance, or of my not having had my childhood trauma.

          • Hmm, if I’m recalling right, we used that in the longer liturgy on Communion days. (LCA in the ’60s) It was missing the last time I visited an ELCA church (2014) on a communion day. The things we lose that we really shouldn’t.

            • And to put a more outrageous point on it, here’s a “hold my akavit” moment:

              https://pjmedia.com/faith/pro-lgbt-lutheran-seminary-president-unceremoniously-purged-for-leading-ex-gay-group-17-years-ago/

              (She had a 12 year history of advocating for LGBT people, but the “horrible” group she belonged to shared the same doctrine as the ELCA did prior to 2009.)

              The ELCA church in the city seems more conservative than others I’ve visited on trips to visit family. The abject surrender to the LGBTWTF activists is impressive, and downright spooky. I’ll have to check out the MSLC version the next time we make it to the city on a Sunday.

              (On the bright side, the way ELCA is shedding members, it won’t be around much longer…)

      • And also:
        “There is a limit to human charity,” said Lady Outram, trembling all over.

        “There is,” said Father Brown dryly, “and that is the real difference between human charity and Christian charity. You must forgive me if I was not altogether crushed by your contempt for my uncharitableness today; or by the lectures you read me about pardon for every sinner. For it seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. So you tolerate a conventional duel, just as you tolerate a conventional divorce. You forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven.”
        ― G.K. Chesterton, The Complete Father Brown

    • Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ should be plumbed in on Rousseau’s grave, thereby righting two injustices.

  18. Well, hell. For that argument to be valid, every ruler’s first priority must be looking after his people, not say, controlling them, or staying in power by causing wars with other countries.

    Late to the discussion because I spent yesterday bedridden and sick, I’ve run into the rather unsettling mindset where people believe that the government is ‘there to look after the people’ – and frankly these are also the same kind of people who are of the mindset that Duterte will become Dictator, like Marcos. (Duterte’s response to that was to gather the police and the military, and tell them that if he shows signs of wanting to change the term limits, or similar things, they are on standing orders to kill him.) They’re the same people whining about how people fleeing the war zones in Mindanao ‘are having their human rights violated by not being given Halal food’ instead of focusing on the fact that these people are alive and more immediate needs are sources of worry (like clean water, shelter, basic food, medicine, oh and safety. Have I mentioned how much I despise human rights investigators? Their definition of human rights do not fit reality’s.)

    It is the same kind of disconnect of brain that seems to have it that people do not need to be armed, because the police will get there in time eventually and all you need to do is run and hide, oh and by the way the person lecturing you about guns is also on their way to a BLM rally to protest against police brutality and abuse.

    • Duterte’s response to that was to gather the police and the military, and tell them that if he shows signs of wanting to change the term limits, or similar things, they are on standing orders to kill him.

      *literally stands up and claps*

      • I found it particularly amusing actually. Apparently his detractors derided that as ’empty grandstanding’ and continued to behave for a while as if he really were still going to go for dictatorship anyway.

        Personally, I think single term presidency is a bad idea; even though the length of the term is 6 years, not four, and really isn’t long enough to get any real changes done – but I guess on the flip side, a really damaging president can’t make lasting changes. Oh wait…

      • Same reason it gets annoying for Pinochet to be spoken of as if Stalin or Mao. Great person, no. But orders of magnitude less destructive than almost any communist government.

        • At the time I said that if Pinochet’s ‘crimes’ justified trashing 400 years of diplomatic usage and tradition then Castro’s justified targeting a cruise missile on his bathtub.

          All the smug idiots who were crowing about Pinochet’s arrest got real quiet around me for some reason.

          🙂

        • I read a biography of Pinochet/ history of the period written by a Socialist who had to grudgingly admit that Pinochet had been bad to those who opposed him, but for a lot of people, times had been decent to pretty good, and the economy of Chile had diversified and recovered some from earlier problems.

    • The idea that any government agency is directly accountable to the public is part if the same thing. How responsive is your local water Dept. Same as the desire to increase the control companies like Google or Facebook have over internet while restraining isps. One of those I have a contract with. It ain’t Google.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I have recently become convinced that the origin of government is armies holding territories and extracting resources from them. That this is the true purpose of government, and that failing to do so creates vacancy.

    • As I recall there are duress exemptions for halal (and kosher).
      I am NO expert at all, but I do believe they can be summed up as:

      First, keep yourself alive – even if it means/requires breaking the rules for a while.

      • I think there are some sub-groups that don’t allow that, but generally, yes. As Jesus put it, the law is made for man, not man for the law.

        I remember one teaching story with a Rabbi and his student where they were guests, ate the offered food even though they were supposed to be fasting, and when they left the student was taking heads of wheat and getting the wheat out to eat.
        The teacher said to stop it, student pointed out they’d already broken the fast, teacher pointed out that was due to respect for hospitality– but there was no such reason, now.

  19. The creature in the space behind your eyes wants unlimited power and control. Everyone does.

    So, everybody wants to rule the world?

    EEEhhh, not really. I just get itchy behind the eyeballs at the thought of the number, and the types, of people who want to rule ME. Especially in regard to matters which are none of their damned bidness.

    • not anymore but when you’re an infant

    • I don’t remember how old I was when I realized that ruling the world would be an awful lot of annoying work, but it was pretty young.

      • I decided I didn’t want to be the ruler of the world when I realized that if I were the ruler of the world I would there would have to be dealing with people — and all their complaints — ALL THE TIME.

        • Lots of well trained* folks here.

          Elf and I had the same reaction.

          If we had the job, we’d have to do it right, and to heck with that.

          * AKA, civilized. Only idiots think that wild animals are delightful, and a bigger one to think feral ones are.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Yep, I don’t want to “take charge” of anything.

            I couldn’t stand the stress of “wanting things to go RIGHT”. 😆

    • When I’m the omnipresent ruler of the human race
      Ain’t gonna spend my life being no one’s fool
      I was born to rock and I was born to rule

  20. The cause of our society’s problems comes sown to lack of personal accountability and a loss of self control. Thanx!

    • Responsibility and accountability are the keys to freedom. People find them so very, very uncomfortable that they will do almost anything they can to avoid being free. Not only will they avoid them in their own lives, they will actively seek to help others avoid them, too. Thus, we have excuses ranging from “my life sucks because the system/the Man/evil capitalism/my boss/my spouse is so unfair” to “little Jimmy became a serial killer because his parents were cruel.” Seldom do we hear “my life sucks because I made decision after decision that sucked” or “Jimmy became a serial killer either because Jimmy’s parents didn’t intervene early when he started showing signs of really bad behavior” or even “Jimmy became a serial killer because Jimmy is just a bad man and we have failed to lock him away from everyone else.”

      • Those may be the key, but equally important is realistic ideas about how dull, stupid, and annoying running other peoples’ lives is likely to be.A well person wouldn’t want to do that.

  21. Excellent post. Now I want to re-read A Conflict of Visions.

  22. Christopher M. Chupik

    What’s really galling is seeing how the anti-gun crowd wants to ban JROTC from schools after a JROTC cadet died saving several students during the Parkland shooting. I swear, the Left’s idea of fighting fire is to throw gasoline and then ban fire extinguishers.

    • Keep in mind that these were the same types of people who happily banned ROTC from university campuses (there were a number of ROTC groups that literally had to hold classes and meetings off campus)… right up until Congress linked banning ROTC with banning government grants. i.e. if the university banned ROTC, then the government would ban that university’s federal grants.

    • Three JROTC cadets. Peter Wang, Alaina Petty, and Martin Duque (a completely legal young immigrant from Mexico, brought in by his completely legal immigrant family).

      The sick thing is that Cruz apparently nabbed a JROTC uniform shirt in order to scarper out in the crowd. (He apparently was never in the JROTC program himself.)

      • The JROTC would have either made him into the kind of person who wouldn’t pull this stunt, or else likely kicked him out, had he been a member.

        At least, that’s my guess on the matter.

    • These are the same people who were screaming “BURN HER!!!” at Dana Loesch during that CNN Town Hall freakshow.

      I think at this point it is safe to abandon any faint, lingering hope that the Left is still thinking of the People or the Nation. They’re filled with nothing but hate, and they will say -anything- they think will forward their motion.

      I fully expect them to actually try burning somebody one of these days. If the Trumpulator wins another term they’ll do it for sure. Probably in the name of public safety or anti-Fascism.

      • When they manage to do that. That’s when our Civil War will go hot.

      • I think the term is TWANLOC: Those who are no longer our countrymen.

        • I think that grants them entirely too much importance. I propose TUBOA; ‘The Usual Bunch Of @ssholes’. They aren’t new, they aren’t important, they aren’t even very surprising. They are just another collection of self-appointed ‘betters’, morally no different from the Spanish Inquisition or the European Upper Class who blundered into WWI.

        • I really don’t want to have to shoot someone, especially if they’re caught up in a mob. I don’t want to waste a round on a warning shot either. I might need that extra round.

    • Keep in mind, the ‘crisis’ they are currently addressing is seldom (if ever) of any actual concern to them. hey want power. They want control. They are prepared to lie like rugs to get either.

  23. One of the JROTC cadets was buried at Arlington.

    • scott2harrison

      On rare occasions, one can be very proud of our government and the upper levels of our military.

  24. It is ironic that so many people seek to explain away evil with poorly understood psychology, because acknowledging the existence of evil is psychologically uncomfortable. The evil is (often) allowed to spread because people value their comfort over limiting evil.

    • It’s simple. If you are committing an evil act, you’re evil. We can do whatever it takes to stop you. (Notice this is also the logic behind the leftists’ “Whatever It Takes” movement), but they have a different definition of what evil is from the rest of us. Violating the 10 Commandments is a pretty good guideline as to what constitutes evil; but today’s leftists seem to think adultery is fine, coveting everything under the sun is their right, hatred of God is fine, disrespecting their parents is great, and using some other group to steal for them is absolutely grand.

      “You youngsters keep using that word, ‘evil’. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  25. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil . . .

  26. MadRocketSci

    I dunno that I can complain too much. I was raised by, in my family, what in hindsight must be a gloriously functional culture. The values that my parents and grandparents taught helped us all be very successful. (If there are any faults with my subculture, it’s in this reflexive and compulsive sense of fairness and trust in others/authority (ie, being a doormat or a chump.)) That probably wasn’t always as maladaptive as it is now.

    It was funny, recently listening closely to my parents tell stories about their neighbors as kids though – As a child, I knew I was strange, but I didn’t realize just *how much* of an alien we all were.

  27. One of the things that I’ve believed for a long time is that the concept of “people are basically good” is incredibly dangerous. Personally, I believe that people are basically sinful, but that stop them from being capable of good. Maybe it’s a pessimistic way to look at the world, but I think is it’s a more honest one.