Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bad people

Another antic right-wing Ottawa Citizen columnist speaks out today. Leonard "anti-globalization protesters are terrorists" Stern succinctly defines the essential difference between far-right conservatives and the rest of us.

His homily is about "bad people," and his text is an article in
Chicago Magazine by a well-meaning journalist who was roughed up by one or more teenagers last year. John Conroy wanted to find out why it happened--the root cause, if you will, since it's that time of year again.

It's best to read Conroy's piece directly. Stern, quite frankly, makes a hash of it. Conroy's narrative of the event, his subsequent meeting with one of the youths, and his contacts with the boy's indifferent family, are rife with ambiguity. Indeed, the power of his piece is precisely that ambiguity, as, Rashomon-like, various people offer their take on what happened.

It was racial. No, it was territorial. It was a hate crime. No, it was a pointless, motiveless assault by teenagers with brains in neutral. The author begins by stating straight out that it was a racial incident, but by the time he gets to the end of his piece, he's no longer sure. Want the messiness of human life and understanding in microcosm? Read the whole thing. Did Conroy find the neat tied-up-in-a-bow meaning that he sought? No, but I believe he found truth.

Stern, however, is no Conroy. For him, there is a message in the article, and that message is clear. There are bad people out there who contradict--wait for it--the "
liberal faith in the inherent worth of all human beings." [emphasis added] What does a conservative of Stern's stripe believe instead?

There are people who cannot be fixed, only restrained. Society would be better off if Conroy’s assailant — high aggression, no conscience, likely low IQ — had never been born.

And there is one unadorned, unambiguous statement for you, which, more effectively than a hundred blogposts of mine, defines the moral world-view of those we fight.

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