Monday, March 02, 2009

Happy Birthday to You! [John J. Miller]

Today is the birthday of the late Dr. Seuss. (Have you seen Google yet?) He certainly wasn't a conservative. The Lorax is a parable of anti-capitalism and The Butter Battle Book is a peacenik's morally equivalent take on the Cold War. Even so, I've always maintained that his book I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew is deeply anti-utopian. Others have extracted a pro-life rallying cry from Horton Hears a Who: "a person's a person no matter how small." And a few have detected anti-socialist themes in Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose...
Later Miller follows up with further deep thoughts on a goddamn children's book from a reader whose sign-off -- "Please withhold my name... untenured professor in the academy, don't you know" -- revives my suspicious that the half of The Corner's email that isn't written by National Review interns is written by undetected pranksters.

The proper response to this sort of gabble would be silence or an offer to hail the gabbler a cab so that he can get home safely. Instead it gets Lisa Schiffren who says The Lorax is "unhappily well-enough written and illustrated to capture the sentiments of children and those who read to them," which single repulsive clause explains the conservative attitude toward the arts better than anything at Big Hollywood.

She then explains the conservative messages in other Dr. Seuss books, which were revealed to her "when my children were very young and I was intellectually underemployed" and, one supposes, doctors were freer with prescriptions for frustrated housewives. Later Schiffren expands her contribution to the arts by reproducing a piece of Randroid doggerel to which she submitted her children -- who, to their great credit, didn't appreciate the attempted indoctrination.

I wonder whether Schiffren noticed her own children's resistance to an attempt to replace literature with propaganda, and whether she would be proud of them if she did.

Somewhere in the middle of this Jonah Goldberg express his customary incomprehension of Will Wilkinson's "liberaltarianism," and suggests that libertarians should feel more at home with conservatives because they share the same feelings about "culture." In what little bit of their horrible bloggingheads discussion I could bear to watch, Goldberg explains that "political speech is more important than other kinds of speech," especially "quote unquote artistic speech." I expect Wilkinson continues to engage him, and the rest of these people, because they invariably help make his points for him.

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