Part One: Hammers & Nails
1. Scapegoating & Mimesis
I recently had an exchange with a Christian reader on Faceborg. She posted–not for the first time–about how pedophiles should be put to death. I disagreed.
My disagreement with sentiments of this sort is a strong one. It’s not that I am ipso facto opposed to killing child rapists (I can still halfway enjoy a good Hollywood revenge fantasy now and then); it’s that to argue for the death penalty for anyone is to endorse the legal and political system and the notions of crime and punishment. Like the Christian idea of Hell, these notions are based on the myth of agency. They also conveniently ignore how the legal system was established. To argue for the death penalty for pedophiles sidesteps the reality that, those with the power to implement the death penalty are, in many cases, also pedophiles, and worse.
My other objection to the Christian zealot was that social problems can no more be separated from the society that gives rise to them than physical symptoms can be separated from the body. To suggest that a particular group of individuals or behaviors can be identified and removed as a way to restore balance to a social system is not good medicine. It’s religious thinking; in fact it’s the basis of religious thinking: scapegoating. The convenience and the allure of scapegoating is that it bypasses the question of how or why undesirable behaviors come about in the first place. It lets us off the hook regarding our complicity with the condemned.
The only thing scapegoating requires is a collective agreement about the guilt of the accused; that, and collective condemnation. It’s ironic that these kinds of measures are so popular with Christians, since their own “savior” died as an erroneous sacrifice. According to Rene Girard (who converted to Catholicism late in life), the purpose of the Gospels was to expose this scapegoat mechanism and offer a new understanding of the divine, along with an alternate way for people to live together: love of our neighbor, non-resistance to evil, turning the other cheek. To remain open-hearted no matter what kind of adversity we are faced with.
Any attempt to address a social problem like pedophilia by destroying the smattering of individuals who bring it to our attention is both futile and counter-productive. Yet as I offered these arguments up to the Christian on Facebook, I quickly realized I was faced with a conundrum. Even as I was arguing, as gently as I could, against the desire to condemn individuals based on their behaviors without taking the time to try and understand them, I felt a strong desire to do just that with this Christian. I wasn’t calling for her execution, true, but I did unfollow her on Facebook so I wouldn’t have to see her posts anymore. The symmetry and irony was as obvious as bleeding stigmata: I came away from the exchange feeling more or less about Christians as she felt about pedophiles. Such is the nature of mimetic violence, even when it is “only” the violence of disagreement.
2. Totem & Taboo/Order through Chaos
While this person’s views were extreme, as only Christian views can be (she claimed St Paul preached that all effeminate men should be put to death), they aren’t really all that different from the viewpoint of many, perhaps most people, when it comes to the subject of pedophilia and other (agreed upon) “pathologies.” Along with a daily increasing awareness about the depth of depravity underlying our social structures, there is a corresponding outrage, anger, frustration, despair, and desire to do something about it. Extreme circumstances give rise to extreme measures. A community that’s being torn apart from the inside cries out for the blood of a scapegoat to bind itself together. The blood of the scapegoat is necessary because of the seeming impossibility of loving our neighbors as ourselves, most especially when they hold views which we find abhorrent.
The reason I’ve been attracting readers of the Christian persuasion is that much of my recent work has been exploring these same kinds of atrocities in our culture. As someone commented at this blog recently: “Interesting that since you are one who shines a light on Satan, the christians are drawn to you like flies to shit.” But it’s not only Christians. There’s a growing tendency for people to see these problems as relating to a specific class and type of individual, and to believe that, if only these types (the psychopath-elite) could be identified and eradicated, all our societal problems would go away. This sort of belief is based on the falsity that traumatized human beings driven by unconscious forces possess agency, that they are solely responsible for their actions. The myth of agency argues that human beings are a mysterious exception to the rest of the physical universe in possessing autonomy within the system they are part of. Yet agency is something even the gods (planets and stars) do not appear to have. I guess it’s all part of our exceptionality–a quintessentially American myth? This idea (exceptionalism) is equivalent in irrationality to the commonly held Christian belief that humans are born in original sin and yet given a choice (free will) to choose grace (Jesus Christ): a choice bestowed upon them by the same God who gave them the burden of original sin (i.e., no-choice but to sin), and who condemns us to eternal agony if we make the wrong choice. Isn’t it odd how so many Christians, knowing all this, still choose to sin? Turning the other cheek is the non-choice to override that reptilian reactive drive within us, surrender the illusion of agency, and give up the ghost of ego to God.
Both secular and (faux-)Christian perspectives demand active opposition to the forces of nature, within us and outside of us. In contrast, my own view is clearly an unfashionable one. My own view is that only total, blanket acceptance of all “evil,” both inside and outside us, can ever bring about any sort of meaningful change, because only acceptance of and surrender to what we are unable to consciously control or comprehend (Satan, as much as God) will allow for a full integration of our unconscious fragments, for a restoration of wholeness and harmony both within and without. But I’m afraid language itself (the “doing” of awareness?) rebels against this idea and turns it into so much mystic mush.
Based on countless exchanges I have had, this view—that of not-doing—is seen as no different from passivity, lethargy, or avoidance. Those who have been religiously conditioned to philosophize with a hammer can only see every question as a nail.
Divide and conquer is a commonly heard phrase and one that has probably never been more relevant than it is today, in the wake of the Trump election and the “liberal” uprising against it. What’s less acknowledged is that external division is only possible when individuals are first divided internally, against themselves. Internal division as the means to order and control society (order through chaos) relates to the use of taboo.
What’s taboo? I doubt if kids even know the word today, so here’s a primer: Society depends on norms and norms require ab-norms, things considered unacceptable and for which we will be held accountable if we mess around with them—even if we too rashly express acceptance of them (it’s potentially “taboo” for me to write a piece that suggests the need to be more understanding of pedophiles, say).
In today’s social media climate, public shaming has taken on the force of legal punishment, and many, maybe even most, taboos relate less to behaviors than they do to values, beliefs, opinions, thoughts, and feelings. When Lindsey Stone posted a picture at Facebook of herself mock-shouting and giving the finger to a sign that read “Silence and Respect” at Arlington National Cemetery, she ended up losing her job and being vilified on a mass scale. The reaction (at least as Jon Ronson tells it in Now You’ve Been Publicly Shamed) was so extreme that Stone’s life as she’d known it effectively came to an end. Technically, Stone was being judged for her action, but really she was being condemned for her values.
Stone’s actions were harmless, but since they were disrespectful of certain values, they upset people and she was punished. You could say that she was punished essentially for hurting people’s feelings, and much so-called “hate crime” amounts to the same thing. It’s fitting in its way that the most common punishment for hate crime is public shaming, since being shamed is also all about having one’s feelings hurt. The difference is that Stone was an individual who offended a whole amorphous group of people, and was then targeted by that same group. Stone’s act did not really impact the lives of soldiers or their relatives, except that they got indignant about it. Their combined indignation had the power to turn her life upside down, however. That’s how a community binds itself together around totem and taboo: by choosing a scapegoat that everyone can agree is beyond the pale (a pale is a barrier made of wooden stakes and came to mean “the area that is enclosed and safe”).
3. Homosexuality: Not Controversial Enough?
Warning: what follows is guaranteed to offend some people. I am now about to wander “beyond the pale.” On my own head be it.
If actions that were once seen as taboo are now condoned by society, questioning the values that are condoning them has itself become taboo. Clearly these two facts are related. Gay marriage is socially endorsed; questioning it is generally seen (though not among Christians) as “homophobic.” Homophobia is close to being a crime today, and is certainly a social misdemeanor, at least among people I know (and even ones I don’t but who follow my output and are reading this blog). I don’t personally care whether homosexuals get married or not, socially speaking. I’m not someone who wants to defend the sacred institution of marriage. I think the whole thing is stupid and fucked up, and certainly nothing to be happy about; but then I feel that way about most things in society.
However, I do find myself (mostly silently) objecting to the unquestioning endorsement of homosexuality as a normal, healthy behavior. This isn’t because I believe it’s a sin but because I don’t think the psychological causes of homosexuality have been sufficiently explored. Homosexuality has gone from being a sin, to being a crime, to being a secret, shameful activity, to being something to be proud of, to being fully embraced–or rather, enforced–as something wonderful and wholesome. Despite what liberals believe, this has not happened as a result of a growing understanding of homosexuality, but after a thorough and well-organized social and ideological drive to promote it as a lifestyle choice, one that paradoxically, people have no choice about because—we are told—it’s their biological orientation. According to Wikipedia:
Scientists do not know the exact cause of sexual orientation, but they believe that it is caused by a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences, and do not view it as a choice. They favor biologically-based theories, which point to genetic factors, the early uterine environment, both, or the inclusion of genetic and social factors. There is no substantive evidence which suggests parenting or early childhood experiences play a role when it comes to sexual orientation. While some people believe that homosexual activity is unnatural, scientific research has shown that homosexuality is a normal and natural variation in human sexuality and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation. . . . Same-sex sexual attractions, behavior, and orientations per se are normal and positive variants of human sexuality; in other words, they are not indicators of mental or developmental disorders. [emphasis added].
Now maybe I’m a homophobe, but while skimming this Wikipedia article I started to feel like I was being subjected to an intense barrage of propaganda. The last point above, for example, is listed as one of several “scientific facts” about homosexuality, though it looks conspicuously more like a theory to me. Then there’s the statement: “There is no substantive evidence which suggests parenting or early childhood experiences play a role when it comes to sexual orientation.” This isn’t merely presumptuous, it’s an out-and-out distortion of the truth (the use of the word “substantive” might reveal the bias of the whole article). There is ample evidence that parenting and early childhood experiences play a role when it comes to sexual orientation, but I guess it has been downplayed, insufficiently followed up, or simply suppressed enough for the collective mind of Wikipedia to ignore it. So why the bias?
The same applies to the statement: “There are no empirical studies or peer-reviewed research that support theories attributing same-sex sexual orientation to family dysfunction or trauma.” This seems to be a case of the liberal doth protest too much. “Empirical,” as in condoned by Empire? Peer-reviewed, meaning condoned by Academia. And so on. What’s implied here is that there’s been a withdrawal of support, peer or otherwise, for any studies which do support said unspeakable theories. I’m not sure why they are so unspeakable, but maybe it’s a clue that, for further proof of its bias, the Wikipedia article cites the Kinsey report as evidence; this being the same Kinsey who was exposed many years ago for using pedophiles to sexually manipulate children against their will and then presenting the findings as “proof” that children are sexual beings. So we may well ask, whose interests did that serve?
We already know–because it can be observed in one’s daily life and interactions–that some cases of sexual orientation do relate to sexual trauma. We know that trauma affects the psychological development of children. And we know that psychological imprinting is a reality, one that profoundly influences our sexuality. To then deny any and all connection between homosexuality and family dysfunction or trauma makes no sense at all, unless there is an ideological agenda at work (conscious or otherwise). The scientific theory about homosexuality cited by Wikipedia allows that “environmental factors” determine a person’s sexual orientation; yet the same theory totally rejects trauma or family dysfunction as being possible among those factors. As logical argumentation, this is starting to look like the Warren Commission’s magic bullet theory. We have to twist our own rational faculties into pretzels to keep up with it. Simply stated, it is absurd.
The article even states that “environmental factors may be sociological, psychological, or involve the early uterine environment,” then intones its mantra: “There is no scientific evidence that abnormal parenting, sexual abuse, or other adverse life events influence sexual orientation. Current knowledge suggests that sexual orientation is usually established during early childhood.” These last two statements are actually placed back to back, yet somehow we are supposed not to notice how they contradict one another. Perhaps we are supposed to square this circle by deducing that only positive life events influence sexual orientation (unless it is pedophilia)? It’s a neoliberal New Age paradise in which all parenting is good parenting and all forms of sexual expression are healthy, and any that aren’t healthy (like child abuse, done by bad parents, who don’t count) only exist because those people were just born bad. It’s original sin for some, but not all. Paradoxically–just to show that doublethink is never far away in the noosphere of ideology–the problem is that these people haven’t been rightly educated.
That such blatant doublethink goes unnoticed and unremarked upon is probably the most compelling evidence of a covert agenda to misrepresent the reality around homosexuality, and sexual orientation in general, that I have seen to date. Initially, this present essay only referred to homosexuality in passing, as an example of ideological thought control pertaining to taboos. I went to Wikipedia to check some of my facts and discovered this morass of internally contradictory “reasoning” and straw logic, and was compelled to unpack what I found just in order to relieve my astonishment. And yes, I admit it, my indignation. How is it even possible we fail to see this kind of fact-distortion? The answer is that when information is actually propaganda, it is all tied up with social taboos and we are deeply invested in not questioning it, because to do so would be to risk stepping outside the pale. This agenda is one we have all been roped into, unless we’re Christians, that is (and I am starting to understand why they cling so tightly to their Bibles!).
Meanwhile, the supposed biological (evolutionary) basis for homosexuality has never, as far as I know, been convincingly addressed.
The bottom line about why homosexuality is emphatically not a “disorder” seems to be how well adapted to society its practitioners can be: “Thus, mental health professionals and researchers have long recognized that being homosexual poses no inherent obstacle to leading a happy, healthy, and productive life, and that the vast majority of gay and lesbian people function well in the full array of social institutions and interpersonal relationships” (emphasis added). Woopty-doo. High-level pedophiles are quite able to function within their social circles and intuitions too, and they are highly productive (look at Jimmy Savile). Is this really the best basis for judging whether a sexual preference is healthy or not? (And no, I am not equating homosexuality with pedophilia; I understand how hard it is these days not to let ideology do your thinking for you, but please try.) The notion that we live in an enlightened society whose institutions are geared towards human growth and happiness is so far from the truth as to constitute a “mental disorder” in and of itself; so on what criteria are homosexuals being sold a clean health bill, and to what end? Cui bono? And am I even allowed to ask this question without being branded a hater? And if not, again: cui bono?
The other primary criteria for why homosexuality is, emphatically, not a disorder is that of harm: since no one is harmed by it, the reasoning goes, how can it be a disorder? Two points here, firstly: while a disorder is something that, I think without exception, results from harm done to a person (usually as a child), not every disorder is observably harmful to others, not even to oneself. (Alcoholism is an example: how many years can go by before it becomes clear that a person has a drinking problem rather than simply a habit?) Homosexuality might be harmful to a person even in so subtle (and conversationally unsayable) a way as to isolate oneself from a loving sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex, which could be essential to a person’s spiritual development. Shock, horror, yes, I know, this is an unpardonably heterocentric view and gay people can tell me I am restricting my own spiritual development by not exploring the joys of homosexuality. Whatever. They could be right. But so could I.
The other point is even touchier still, though it is not restricted to homosexuality and homosexual sex doesn’t necessarily involve it. It is the question of whether sodomy is a potentially harmful act, to both parties. There is no mention in Wikipedia’s sodomy article of the physical effects, and it’s not easy to find anything online about them either (except at Christian websites). Yet there’s not much doubt that it can and does cause physical damage. Of course, circumcision is a harmful act, too, in ways probably barely imagined, and there are no proscriptions against that. So once again, if the nature of institutions and the moral standards they manufacture is that they are means of social control, then why on earth would we place our unthinking trust in these standards?
4. When Fear Drives
Of course, homosexuality is still condemned in parts of the world and violence against gay people is still a reality. So it’s understandable that people would attempt to counteract this kind of hostility by enforcing a belief that homosexuality is “normal” (whatever that word means). But is it effective? Even if were true, it’s unlikely to neutralize “irrational” fear and condemnation of homosexuals, because this kind of drive (like that inexorable Wikipedia article) essentially steamrollers over all opposing views. Rather than seeking to prove such views wrong with the weight of evidence, it literally criminalizes them. Ideology is not proof, and instead what we get is a case of one form of moralism replacing another. Where once homosexuality was immoral, now homophobia is. The same applies with racism: where once people of color where considered untouchables, now racists are seen as “deplorables.”
Meanwhile, the anti-racists exalt themselves and their views to a higher moral plateau and do the same with whatever “minority” they are defending (the liberals’ pet-cause; for my grandfather it was blacks, gays, and murderous mobsters doing jail time; almost certainly pedophiles too). This creates privileged “minority” classes (I put minority in quotes because the definition isn’t always based on numbers), and, as everyone knows, these “minorities” get special treatment—for having been discriminated against previously. Yet if I (Joe Average guy that I am) am not permitted to express my opinions or feelings about someone or a group of people (or even national policy that relates to certain people, such as immigration laws) without being stigmatized; and if that same (latter) someone or group of people is not merely protected from “prejudice” but is receiving special treatment (being idealized, essentially) and being presented as in some way beyond reproach (since any reproach is seen as discrimination), there’s only one thing that can happen, and it’s not increased tolerance. When those associated—rightly or wrongly—with the original perceived persecution drives (misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc.) become the persecuted “minority” (the underclass), naturally their anger, frustration, and hostility increases; and their numbers too.
Regardless of which minority or which kind of “prejudice” is being addressed, it is all scapegoating. It is the same social principal being applied to achieve the ends of an actual privileged minority class. What can be said about this group is very little. But they may not even be racist, homophobic, or misogynist at all; they may be something far beyond such limited and limiting terms (terms they would have created deliberately to befog the rest of us). It’s likely they view themselves as superior to all humankind, as we think of the term, regardless of type or orientation. And the worst of it is that, even by trying to identify and categorize them (the Kakistocracy), we are potentially playing into their hands.
The result of this long-term divide and conquer plan is to polarize people even more than they were before, and even as they are being mashed together into one great, happy, homogenous blob. Someone who might have been willing to accept homosexuality as a mostly harmless deviation will not be so willing to accept it as an ipso facto good thing. If they are forced to choose between ignorant intolerance and the neoliberal libertine avocation of just about every last form of sexual variation, they may well take refuge in the “homophobia” camp just to cling to some vestige of sanity (I know I have been tempted). We saw the same basic pattern played out with Trump’s election. When forced to choose between the advancing neoliberal lockstep represented by Hillary, and a reactionary revolt against all things PC in the form of the id-monster Trump, people “chose” the id. I don’t blame them, though I do blame them for being stupid enough to think Trump is an outsider or “wild card” in the oligarchical game, for not realizing that the oligarchy hold all the cards because that’s what makes them the oligarchy (they create their own rules, they decide which cards are wild, which ones trump the rest). But then, the aim of the divide and conquer game is to ensure there is no dialogue between opposing points of view, no comparing of the data, no middle ground, so everyone who plays it plays without a full deck. Divide and conquer means creating points of view that oppose and reinforce each other while being equally erroneous because devoid of true context.
From a long term view, it’s possible to see how the same social programs, values, and agendas (and even the same groups) that, for example, practiced slavery, over time adjusted it into less obviously exploitative social arrangements, how they then endorsed and pushed anti-racist ideologies while at the same time continuing to exploit people of whatever color in more or less the same ways. Like what corporations did with cigarettes: get us hooked on them and then tell us how deadly they are. Internal divide and conquer strategy means implementing racially (and sexually) exploitative social programs and ideologies (ones that have a basis in territoriality, i.e., that correspond with deep biological programs, something neoliberalism denies), then tell us racism is wrong, morally speaking. Ditto with women and misogyny, homosexuality and homophobia, and so on.
Social engineering employs taboo to control, oppress, and exploit the populace regardless of color, race, sex, age, or ideological affiliation. How it works, as far as I can figure it (I am still trying to wrap my mind around it) is by creating taboos out of the very things which the ruling classes are doing behind closed doors (in dungeons, basements, occult lodges, churches, schools, night clubs, or Pizza restaurants), as well as some of the things they are doing openly (corporate crimes etc.). Taboo-fearing people will keep to the behaviors prescribed to them in order to avoid the consequences. I am sure anyone who’s alive can relate to this, and if they can’t, they are probably among the ruling class (“psychopaths”). Ordering society by using taboo is like corralling cows with electric fences and cattle prods. You create the structures you want them to enter into, then you provide the “shocks” to ensure they do. When fear drives, the devil rides.
This may be observable historically in how the bourgeois class aspired to become, and tried to imitate, the aristocracy: on the mistaken assumption that the aristocracy was a highly moral class (don’t laugh), the bourgeoisie became moralistic. The aspiring bourgeoisie never suspected that the aristocracy were getting up to the most licentious behaviors imaginable; all the bourgeoisie knew was that they weren’t being invited to the pizza parties, and never would be. And while they were aspiring to the imagined morality of the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie had an unconscious awareness of what the aristocracy was really up to. In fact (as we’re seeing with Pizzagate), the aristocracy aren’t even that careful about covering their vices up, because they know that fear blinds. This is how parents have programmed their children throughout the ages: “Do what I say, not what I do.” It only works up to a point, however, because we are hardwired for imitation and not for obedience. Deep down, the bourgeoisie know that avoiding taboos and keeping within the moral boundaries provided by their superiors will never allow them to level up. They know that becoming socially empowered requires imitating the hidden behaviors of the ruling class, and breaking the taboos, so that’s what they start to do.
Maybe this is what’s happening now in Washington, as the creepy-hipster culture becomes darkly visible through Pizzagate. Despite the links to the Clintons and the Podestas, maybe this isn’t so much a case of the autocratic elite being exposed (though it may come to that), but the aspiring bourgeoisie getting caught with egg on their faces, holding the wrong cutlery? The satanic hipsters, the libertine artists, the deranged liberals and leftists, all formerly oppressed, now learning to ape their oppressors, never suspecting that, while imitation never really persuades the people you are imitating, it does make you extremely useful for drawing enemy fire.
Try to break the taboos without inside access to the totems, and you may end up as a manufactured scapegoat.
(To be continued in Part Two)
 It would be easy for me to get disqualified from jury duty: not only do I disagree with the death penalty, I disagree with the entire legal system; though I do enjoy a good courtroom drama, as well as revenge fantasies.
 The word also designated an area in Ireland, Scotland, or France controlled by England, and places outside this area were considered dangerous for the English to wander into. To be beyond the pale was to be outside the area accepted as “home.”
 The authors of a 2008 study stated “there is considerable evidence that human sexual orientation is genetically influenced, so it is not known how homosexuality, which tends to lower reproductive success, is maintained in the population at a relatively high frequency.” They hypothesized that “while genes predisposing to homosexuality reduce homosexuals’ reproductive success, they may confer some advantage in heterosexuals who carry them.” Their results suggested that “genes predisposing to homosexuality may confer a mating advantage in heterosexuals, which could help explain the evolution and maintenance of homosexuality in the population.” Maybe I’m just not educated enough, but this sounds like scientistic gobbledygook to me. One friend suggested homosexuality was a form of population auto-control; if so it failed.