What if there was an opinion cascade about pet rocks?

Availability cascade” is an academic term that basically has to do with manufacturing public opinion approval for a policy of some sort.  Any kind of policy at all.  In fact, think about how you might make an implausible idea seem plausible in public discourse, an idea no one ever even considered before.  Next, think about how to create a public opinion “cascade” in favor of that strange idea.  Availability cascades involve injecting a new idea into public discourse, which makes the idea more “available” to people to consider.  If you saturate the media with praises for the idea, and add just the right celebrity endorsements, you may well get a bandwagon effect and even get a majority to go along with it.  It can involve a lot of hype, but with political correctness it can also involve push back against those who don’t go along with the hype.

Let’s take an apolitical example of how an availability cascade might work.  In the 1970s there was a silly fad called “pet rocks.”  The pitch was that you didn’t have to feed or care for your rock, so it was the perfect pet!  Below is a youtube video that revisits the sort of narrative that would have gone with the sale of pet rocks.

Obviously, the pet rock was just a marketing gimmick and a passing fad.  The whole thing was tongue-in-cheek.  But just imagine what might have happened if anyone who called the idea of pet rocks “silly” was labelled and publicly smeared in the media as a “bigot.”  Repeatedly.  Imagine if Hollywood made films seriously praising the merits and the heroics of pet rocks and cast skeptics as villians.  Next, imagine if you could be fired from your job or socially shunned if you didn’t start talking respectfully about pet rocks and honoring them. My guess is that a lot of folks would start taking pet rocks very seriously, even if they privately found the whole thing ludicrous.  They would refrain from passing judgment.  They’d shut up about the silliness.  Or, to gain public approval, they might express great admiration, just as the crowds admired the Emperor’s non-existent New Clothes. And with a surging opinion cascade and great public acclaim for pet rocks, everyone would “ooohh and aahhh” before them, enthusiastically praising them, and giving them a special protected place in public policy.

Sure this idea seems far-fetched.  But we should consider how easy it is to get people to climb on board such a bandwagon.  Because with certain propaganda tools and insights into human behavior, it’s far too easy to do that.  Especially given a citizenry unaware of how propaganda affects them as individuals, which makes them even more vulnerable to psychological manipulation.  There are many social psychologists (virtually all on the political Left)  who study and measure the process of opinion cascades and how propaganda tactics can be used to tease out improbable trends.  (One such trend currently is the saturation of the media with agitation and propaganda to get the population on board with the transgender project.)

So an “availability cascade” is a bandwagon effect in public opinion that can be teased out through just the right propaganda and agitation techniques. More next time. . .

Fetish Celebration and Baby Organ Harvesting Go Hand in Hand: Both Represent Social Decay

The media and Hollywood do little but feed and cultivate attitudes of self-absorption.  Academics also foster self-absorption in their college students who now can’t read literary classics because the content is too “triggering” for their tender emotions.  We should ask: How on earth can people have real relationships or establish any kind of true community if everyone is so obsessed with their own delicate sensibilities?  The answer is: we can’t.

Healthy personal relationships need a foundation of common reality and common language through which people can communicate.  Most of all, they need a common belief that there is inherent worth and dignity in all human beings, not just themselves.

So as more folks sink deeper into believing life is all about them, they are more liable to end up like Bruce Jenner: obsessed by the urge to project an imagined persona everywhere and eager to suck up whatever oxygen might be in any given room. Or like abortionists who must callous their souls  in order to  live day  to day.

As the Arthur Ashe award in honor of Jenner’s gender transition proved the other night, we seem close to hitting rock bottom.  Turning one’s fetish into a cause celebre might be a nervy thing to do, but it doesn’t resemble the virtue we’ve traditionally called “courage.” All the less so because of the heaping helpings of adulation, support, doting, protection, fawning, and heavy shielding the media and special handlers have been giving Jenner for doing so.

In fact, nary a word has been spoken about Bruce Jenner’s fault in a February car crash that killed a woman and left several others injured.  (Though one of the drivers involved has publicly pointed out that Jenner’s lack of personal responsibility made him ill suited for the award.)

Against this scenario of craven self-worship and self-obsession, it shouldn’t surprise us that a top abortionist and director at Planned Parenthood would brag about harvesting organs from unborn children.  Deborah Nucatola told undercover associates of the Center for Medical Progress how she personally goes about this with babies up to 24 weeks gestation.  She was videotaped saying:

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

It’s a ghoulish business that shocks people of conscience.  But we live less and less in a society that respects and understands the value of conscience.  Instead, Planned Parenthood reflects the attitude of Dr. Josef Mengele who conducted experiments on prisoners in Nazi Germany.  And, of course, of its founder Margaret Sanger who was a full blown eugenics enthusiast whose counsel the Nazis sought in the 1930’s.

How did our culture get to this place?  I think, in part, by accepting the antiquated notion of “modernity” or “progress” as though it is something enlightened.  Using abortion as a means of sexual “liberation” only serves to numb us, to separate ourselves from the humanity of others.  There’s no room for true human connection in such putrefied places devoid of human worth.

 

Some Recommended Reading about the Bruce Jenner Hype

At the Magazine Stand: Bruce Jenner on cover of People Magazine, January 2015

Bruce Jenner’s Vanity Fair stunt, photo by Annie Leibowitz, June 2015

Today I just want to offer some links for reading about the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner hype.  I have not yet weighed in on this with a published article of my own, but I hope to soon.

So, the other day we had a much-ballyhooed Vanity Fair cover story in which the gold medal winner of the men’s decathlon in the 1976 Olympics “came out” as a woman.  Whether or not Jenner looks convincing or glamourous on the cover is neither here nor there as far as the endgame of the Transgender Project is concerned.  The endgame is to erase all sex distinctions in law.  The Jenner publicity stunt is basically a tool to affect and direct public opinion as a means of moving forward on that goal.  The agenda is far more expansive and invasive than normalizing the desire to “present” as male or female in public.

I commend to you the following articles, if you have not already read them. These four all appeared in the Federalist:

Bruce Jenner is Not Brave, by Nicole Russell

How the Hypersexual Trans Movement hurts Feminism, by Libby Evans and David Marcus

Bruce Jenner’s Transformation is a Lose-Lose for Leftists, by Daniel Davis

Bruce Jenner: Selfie Culture Hero, by Amy Otto

And Matt Walsh wrote an excellent article in which he calls the transgender movement what it is:  basically, a war on reality.  Read it here:

Calling Bruce Jenner a Woman is an Insult to Women

Many prefer just to turn their heads away from all of this, and I understand that.  But it is crucial that we pay attention and weigh in – and push back – because it affects all of us: through the corruption of our language, through modification of our behavior, and through coercion and anti-speech laws.

We have already seen how the forces behind this movement have been conducting a war on language in which any “misgendering” of pronouns is considered an act of discrimination, or even hate.  None of this bodes well for liberty in society.  A good way to push back is to question the pronoun protocols and to resist them.  Why resist?  Because it’s not really about “gendering” the transgender person.  It’s about de-sexing you, by default.  It does this through the enforced language, which pulls you into accepting the fiction that everybody’s sex — including yours — does not exist in physical reality, but only in the mind.

I’d like to add, incidentally, that I don’t object in everyday life to calling someone by their preferred name, transgender or not.  But there is a difference between that and being lured into a trap of language corruption through pronouns usage that basically redefines humanity for everyone.  I hope to write about that soon.  This corruption of language also has the effect of short-circuiting our ability to communicate freely with one another.  It sows distrust and that is a force that aims to separate us all.  As George Orwell noted, the corruption of language puts us at the mercy of tyrants.

In short, we really are dealing with a war on reality itself.  Sadly, it’s a train wreck that’s been a long time coming.

Transgender Propaganda, Part II: TV’s Potemkin Villages

Propaganda often seems to start with a Potemkin Village.  The Wikipedia definition of Potemkin Village happens to be pithy: “a fake village built only to impress.”  It’s a facade that masks a false reality with an attractive illusion. Today we have “SuperTrans” figures cherry picked by Hollywood to present a impressive picture of transgenderism, to promote it particularly for kids and steer them down the rabbit hole of “gender identity.” Below you’ll see a clip of one of the daytime talk drones, Katie Couric, interviewing a transgender homecoming queen.

The idea here is to destabilize the audience’s sense of reality by presenting a very female looking person with male DNA.  Nevermind that just a tiny fraction of less than one percent of the population might identify as transgender.  (From the Hollywood juggernaut, you’d think it was something like 25 percent of the general population.) And nevermind that sex change regret is so real that 90 percent of all transgenders are lost to medical follow up.

So is Couric talking to just an ordinary teen-ager from an ordinary family?  Don’t kid yourself.  This looks like a “Ryland” situation, i.e., another fantasyland poster family for transgenderism. The youtube video for the child Ryland Whittington is a professional production. And so is this Couric number.  The LGBT lobby is extremely well-monied with a huge power agenda that serves to cultivate gender dysphoria, particularly in kids. The parents who have signed on with it get loads of accolades and support.  Those who don’t — like Joshua/Leelah Alcorn’s parents — are pilloried with threats to remove the child from the home.  In any event, it’s very difficult for vulnerable children who look at this seemingly perfect situation and let their imaginations — and whatever past hurts they harbor — trigger them into believing that they were perhaps always the opposite sex inside.  Plus, if they go along with it, they are protected thru the “anti-bullying” agendas that, incidentally, were developed to protect only LGBT kids and virtually nobody else.

The parents who are enabling this agenda have — for whatever reason — bought into the hype.  Their message to all other parents and all other children is this:  if you don’t reject the physical reality of sex, you can expect to be attacked and vilified in the public square.  According to them, your existence as either male or female is all in your mind.  Couric and Oprah Winfrey have taken on the mission of pouring this PC kool-aid down the throats of all Americans.

What we have here is a Potemkin Village interview.  It’s meant to show a facade of the Trans-Agenda, implying:  “Gee, if only kids could be given hormone blockers so that their bodies don’t develop in puberty, then wow, they can look more like the sex they claim to want to be.  Everyone should let go of their doubts and drink up this koolaid.  Doubt, by the way, is the equivalent of ‘hate.'”

We ought to all just spit out this koolaid and give it a rinse.

Fifty Blobs of Grey

“Fifty Shades of Grey” Vermont Teddy Bear

Planned Parenthood recently helped produce a video to introduce teen-agers to the sexual practice of sado-masochism.  As though it’s a good thing.  If you click on the link, you’ll see a rather ditzy young woman gush about it.

The hype for that sexual practice in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon has taken over like a science fiction Blob on the land.   The “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie based on the bestseller (over 100 million copies sold) serves to mainstream sado-masochism as a perfectly normal sexual practice.  In the process, youth are being bombarded with it like never before.  Even the Vermont Teddy Bear Company has cashed in on it.  My latest Federalist piece addressed the trend by introducing the reader to pediatric psychiatrist Miriam Grossman’s five-part blog series “A Parent’s Survival Guide to Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Dr. Grossman has performed a major public service with her writing on the topic, which is important reading for everyone, not just parents.

It’s odd that anyone would have to explain why Bondage/Domination/Sadism/Masochism (BDSM) is not a healthy thing, particularly for children and teens.  But we’re living in odd times.

The BDSM lobby (yes, they have one) claims that sadism and abuse is just fine as long as both parties “consent” to it.   That’s utter nonsense.  Domestic violence shelters are filled with women who thought they had to consent to real life abuse in order to achieve intimacy.    And now the “role-playing” of sexual abuse gets a Planned Parenthood imprimatur for teenagers.  That’s not just irresponsible, but cruel.  Dr. Grossman explains that her patients are damaged by all of the mixed messages over intimacy and relationships.  The 50 Shades trend adds even more weird and mixed messages into their consciousness. It shows a blatant disregard for the vulnerability of youth.  And for anyone lonely who is having a difficult time understanding and finding true intimacy.

It’s important to expose the BDSM snake oil for what it is, especially with your kids.  So, damn the teen eye-rolling. Full speed ahead!

Transgender Propaganda, Part I

Below is an Oprah Winfrey propaganda clip from about five years ago.  In it she interviews transgender supermodel Lea T.  The idea was to promote and glamorize sex reassignment surgery.  Today a primary goal of the transgender lobby is to push hard to get everyone to accept the transitioning of children.  Before that, the focus was primarily on adults. We can look back and see Oprah working to soften the ground here, as always prodding us to align our attitudes and beliefs with hers:

Of course, we’ve reached a new stage in the propaganda war to force feed transgender ideology to America at large.  Last night the TV series “Transparent” won several awards at the Golden Globe Awards.  The series centers around a family in which the father comes out as transgender. Audiences undergo a lot of emotional manipulation and emotional blackmail in this sort of propaganda.

My Friday Federalist piece on Leelah’s Law was about the transgender lobby’s exploitation of a teen’s suicide to push their agenda a whole lot harder.  The proposed law would essentially criminalize any counseling and psychotherapy that does not affirm transgenderism, and any parent who did not get with the Trans program would be guilty by association.  Of course it uses the catchphrase “conversion therapy” to imply that this only applies to one type of therapy.  It doesn’t.   You can read my article here:  “Leelah’s Law is Bad Law and Bad Medicine.”

The message behind the proposed law is that if you do not accept the ideology of transgenderism, you are morally responsible for any suicide of a transgender child who does not feel accepted.

I think there are at least five factors that make the onslaught of transgender propaganda different from other types of propaganda in the past.

1.  It seems far more organized, focused, faster-and-more-furious than any propaganda campaign in history. (Which means it can’t withstand much scrutiny.)

2.  It requires more than ever that the bystander reject physical reality in order to accommodate ever-shifting perceptions of others.  This is huge.  It comes with the territory that such laws require us to reject our own physical reality and question our own “gender identity.”

3. Under the phony guise of “anti-bullying” this type of propaganda exploits children and their peers as never before –physically, emotionally, and mentally.

4.  The scope of the endgame is enormous:  to legally and universally impose upon every human being a new definition — or rather, a non-definition — of what it means to be human.

(Even if for the moment it seems like everybody simply has the “freedom” to identify as one wishes, that’s not sustainable.  Because ultimately, the ideology of transgenderism rejects biology. It’s already begun to erase  everybody’s legal identity as either male or female simply by writing into law the presumption that your sex is merely “assigned at birth.”)

5.  It serves to abolish the family.  When male and female are eliminated as legal categories, it goes without saying that “mother” and “father” must also be eliminated as legal categories, along with any inherent right to a relationship with your biological children.  That’s the logical path transgender propaganda leads us down.

If we want to survive, it’s high time we spit out this kool-aid.

Utopia and Terror are Inevitably Linked. North Korea is Proof.

“Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century.” You won’t regret ordering these lectures. They’re superb

Do you have an idea about what constitutes the “perfect society?”  As you imagine your utopia, you’ll realize that there is one absolutely mandatory ingredient: Universal Compliance.

Aye, there’s the rub.

From time immemorial, all attempts at Utopia have required terror to put down dissent, whether active or passive.  You can get a grasp of the history and the scope of all of this in a superb series of lectures called “Utopia and Terror in the Twentieth Century,” by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius.  They’re available from The Great Courses, and are engaging and filled with astonishing connections in human history.

My take is this:  As long as human beings are unique, as long as even one of them thinks independently of others, Utopia is a total pipe dream.  Compliance must be forced.  Or human beings must cease to be human by giving up their uniqueness.  Either way, what you end up with is something that always morphs into dystopia.

In a dystopia people usually take one of two routes:  1) They are unsettled and self-censoring as they battle “living within the Lie,” as Vaclav Havel wrote. Or 2) they simply become automated and content to live a machine-like existence.  Nothing utopian about either alternative. So the whole idea of utopia is self-refuting.  At least for humans.

Which brings us to a regime like North Korea.  Just look a little bit at the video above in which its citizens wept hysterically over the announcement of Kim Jong-Il’s death three years ago.  What does this tell you?  Its citizens are utterly dependent upon the government and have psychologically succumbed to the Cult of Personality.  Out of fear and conformity and compliance, they ape one another in their grief, which is in one sense real and in another sense not real — not natural –at all.  It suggests total psychological isolation of people who cannot freely associate. Slaves. I’m especially amazed watching from 1:19-1:25, two youth are standing behind the man who is in paroxysms of wailing.  They aren’t sure what to do, but looking around they realize they are *supposed* to get down on their knees.  So they do.

Earlier this week Sony bowed to that regime’s pressure not to release the movie “The Interview” because it was offensive to Kim Jong-Un’s regime.  Setting aside the whole issue of cowardice on the part of Sony, let’s focus on why North Korea would go so far as to conduct a cyberwar to get Sony to back down.

Suggesting the Supreme Leader could be assassinated?  Well, yeah, there’s that.  But it goes even deeper.  The movie (which doesn’t look to be a very good one, anyway) disrupts the North Korean narrative that it’s achieved Perfection rather than the institutionalized slavery of all of its people.  Such regimes are always subject to any straw that could break their back since their whole existence is built on a lie that will collapse under its own weight.

 

 

 

 

 

Strange-Bedfellow Politics of “The Hunger Games”

In today’s Federalist I have an article that examines how people of different political stripes have enthusiastically embraced the “The Hunger Games.” Below you can watch the trailer for the third movie in the series entitled “Mockingjay, Part I,” which was released last month.  (There will be a fourth and final film next year.)

Click here to read “The Strange-Bedfellow Politics of the Hunger Games.”  Both liberals and conservatives have enthusiastically embraced the movies, which are based upon a trilogy of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins.  It’s set in a dystopian society in which youth are chosen by lottery to fight in brutal gladiator style “hunger games” that entertain the ruling class.

The political left views it all as a tale of socio-economic inequality, police brutality, and environmental pollution. Resistance for them means uprisings like “Occupy Wall Street” the unrest in Ferguson, movements which it seems the makers of the film hope to encourage.  But conservatives see in the “Hunger Games” a strong warning against unchecked centralized power, i.e., Big Government.

Most interesting to me is the chagrin and shock of some on the left – most notably Donald Sutherland who plays the evil President Snow – to discover that conservatives, including the Tea Party, love the story as a warning against policies of the left that grow centralized power.

But why should this be a shock?  It seems everybody ought to know that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  But apparently not.  So how did this interpretive divide happen?

I think the answer lies in what we euphemistically call political correctness.  By silencing people who disagree with the politically correct line, advocates of PC have essentially cut off civil discourse. PC serves to isolate and polarize people so much that there are no avenues for mutual understanding.  Only mutual vilification.  So, in the end, PC only serves centralized power and big government, what Carl Jung refers to as “the mass State.”

I discussed some of this in my previous post quoting Carl Jung.  The silencing of dissent has got to stop.  If we continue to tolerate it we’re at risk of descending into a dystopia ourselves.

 

When a Rock Duo Took on Abortion in 1974

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e0/UnbornChild200.jpgI hope you’ll look at my blog post over at The Human Life Review today:  Unborn Child at Forty.  It’s about an amazing choice made by the famous 1970’s rock duo Seals and Crofts.  They released a pro-life song right in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision to legalize abortion.  We may view this as a courageous decision, but they viewed it simply as the right thing to do.

In so many ways abortion serves as machinery for destroying and poisoning all human relationships.  The abortion culture not only kills children, but it drives a wedge between mother and child, which I think is the most fundamental of human relationships. And, of course, between man and woman.  The implications for all other relationships are vast.

In 1974 when James Seals and Dash Crofts released “Unborn Child” as an album under the Warner Brothers label, they were at the pinnacle of their fame and success.  You may remember their gold hits, which included “Summer Breeze” and “We May Never Pass this Way Again.” Those songs are still played frequently on oldies radio stations.  But you probably don’t remember “Unborn Child,” because it was boycotted.

Warner Brothers strongly advised Seals and Crofts against releasing “Unborn Child,” but they proceeded as a matter of conscience, and it damaged their careers.  You can imagine.  Roe vs. Wade was already sowing very deep seeds of division and bitterness in American society and culture.

They could have chosen risk-free career advancement.  Instead, they chose an act of mercy.  A glorious choice.

“The Wave” and the Cult Mindset

Human beings — especially Americans these days — don’t seem to understand how susceptible we are to group think.   A cult mindset can be very contagious if it is left unchecked.  Cults grow where people feel a sense of isolation, when they don’t ask hard questions, and when they are weak on discernment.  Below is a short movie called “The Wave.”  It’s based on actual events at a high school during the 1960’s.  It started with a teacher-supervised class experiment in group think, but it took on an ominous life of its own.

If you want to delve into the background, click here to look over the website www.thewavehome.com which was put together by the original participants. Here is an excerpt from the website:

In spring 1967, in Palo Alto, California, history teacher Ron Jones conducted an experiment with his class of 15-year-olds to sample the experience of the attraction and rise of the Nazis in Germany before World War II.  In a matter of days the experiment began to get out of control, as those attracted to the movement became aggressive zealots and the rigid rules invited confusion and chaos.  This story has attracted considerable attention over the years through films, books, plays and musicals, and verges on urban legend.  It serves as a teaching tool, to facilitate discussion of those uncomfortable topics of history, human nature, psychology, group behavior, intolerance and hate.

As an aside, I don’t want anyone to get too put off when they discover that Norman Lear produced this 1981 TV movie.  That’s fascinating, of course, because Lear is about as far left/statist as one can get in Hollywood.  And yet “The Wave” is an important story with urgent lessons for all of us. There seems to be a pattern among those who claimed to fight for independent thought in earlier eras, but who push political correctness so hard today. One can only wonder if the hijacking of stories and images warning against totalitarianism serve only to promote their power agendas of today.