I understand that we are in a very libertarian moment. I myself have become far more sympathetic to libertarianism over the years.Wait for it...
But I just can’t get as worked up about David Cameron’s porn crackdown as Charlie can.I think libertarianism is bullshit and even I'm offended by this.
The “who’s to judge?” refrain very often strikes me as camouflage for the more radical claim that judgment is either impossible or simply illegitimate.This is really about standards. If you depict women having orgasms, soon every woman will want one! What then? Fart.
In other words, hand-waving about, say, the peril to free speech of banning Lady Chatterley’s Lover says little about how to view some dimly lit bukkake compilation (don’t look it up if you think you might not want to know).Goldberg moves as easily from a right to say "yuk, bukkake, amirite?" to a right to stop other people from watching it as, I expect, he moves from eating leftover meatloaf with his fingers to drinking salsa out of the jar in his midnight (and 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.) raids on the fridge.
It’s a bit like the death penalty. Opponents always want to argue that the death penalty is 100 percent wrong when the person about to be executed is a somewhat sympathetic figure, or when there is some real or alleged ambiguity about his guilt. But sometimes the evidence of guilt is overwhelming and the convict is a child rapist, mass-murdering demon. Then, suddenly, death-penalty opponents grow quiet as they await a more convenient poster child.That's why they picked rape-murderer Robert Lee Willie as the model for Dead Man Walking. So mediagenic!
Unless you believe that there should be no legal impediment whatsoever to hardcore porn on, say, Saturday-morning broadcast television, you too believe in censorship. Similarly, if you believe there is some information — any information! — the government should be allowed to keep the press from reporting, you also believe in censorship. Now that we’ve established that in principle......Jonah Goldberg gets to be yukmaster general. I wonder if this junior-high debate bullshit works with anyone.
I am not for banning porn (if you could ban it at the local level, I would be more sympathetic to that).I have followed Goldberg for over a decade and this is as classically Goldbergian a "veer in one direction, then another, then disappear into a cloud of farts" as I have seen.
But I find the desire to help parents shield their kids from it entirely reasonable, humane, and laudable — and, yes, difficult.Two separate cheats -- "for the children" blubbering, and "no easy choices" chin-stroking -- in the same sentence. This shit is prime.
Then Goldberg says he's "confused" by Cooke's analogy with King Canute -- no surprise there; he probably thought it was something like "Linus the Lion Hearted" that came on TV after he stopped watching cartoons -- and, feebly grasping that it has something to do with fighting the forces of nature, persists:
Regardless, it seems to me that virtually every major challenge of the human condition is ultimately “unstoppable”: Disease, crime, natural disasters, cosmic entropy, karaoke, etc. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to smooth out the rough edges, go for the small improvements where we can, and muddle through from one generation to the next.No one can prove that oceans of internet porn have done anything worse to humanity than give Goldberg another opportunity to embarrass himself, yet he compares it to disease and crime as something we should do something about, rather than as something normal people just shrug off and learn to live with, like, say, universal health care.
Cooke basically tells him where to get off (politely, though -- a man's gotta eat) and Goldberg actually comes back, this time with buckets on both feet:
...as Charlie is far more knowledgeable about his exotic homeland than I, I’m willing to defer to him when it comes to distrusting the British government.Translation: I didn't know what the fuck I was just talking about but it doesn't matter, I'm a legacy pledge.
Fortunately, Charlie has elevated the discussion from the particulars to the general, and on that ground I’m less deferential. He alludes to what “the story of government in the West” is but I’m not sure what he’s saying. If he’s saying it’s always preferable to keep the government from making mistakes in the first place, rather than trying to fix them later, I suppose that’s fine (though some things, like gas station burritos, only emerge as mistakes after you try them). If he’s saying that once we acknowledge a principle for Orwellian/Statist/Censorial expansion we start riding the slippery slope to ever greater oppression, I’m afraid I disagree.This is literally gibberish. But the next line is killer:
The best one can say about this kind of argument is that it is sometimes true and it’s sometimes false.To match this with our traditional Goldberg signifiers is difficult, but a close equivalent might be Goldberg farting from every pore.
Thereafter Goldberg does his own version of Peter Boyle's "One guy lives in Brooklyn, one guy lives in Sutton Place" speech from Taxi Driver, demonstrates that he can't understand why child pornography is about child exploitation rather than free speech, and actually says this:
Right now, thanks to censorship, it is illegal to put up a giant electronic billboard in front of a school depicting fictional scenes of gang rape or child sex. Given his embrace of free speech absolutism, is that a bad thing?And (I hope this is graven on his monument):
The internet is no billboard, but I think the principle can make the leap.Then he brings up "Plato’s Republic... the Jacobins, the Nazis, the Communists" to show that he is too an intellectual, see?
I give it four farts.