Woody Allen, Nietzsche, and a Spider the Size of a Buick

The Federalist just published my article about Dylan Farrow’s open letter reporting that her father, the acclaimed director Woody Allen, sexually assaulted her when she was seven years old.  This is the first time she’s told her story publicly on a scandal that broke in 1992.

We ought to pay special attention to Dylan’s statement:  “Imagine a world that celebrates your tormentor.”  Because it’s really all about the fallout from our culture of idolatry and celebrity worship.   Whether or not guilt can be established in this case, we can be sure of one thing:  a system that allows elites to control the lives of others is a system that punishes the innocent.  It’s an amoral system that allows some humans to act as gods who may use and abuse others with impunity:

If nothing else, Dylan Farrow’s letter is a wake-up call. It’s time for us to pour a lot of cold water on the notion that the elites   those controlling the media, Hollywood, politics, and academia — are entitled to a separate standard of behavior or a separate moral code from everybody else. The biggest equality gap today is really one of accountability and personal responsibility.”

You can read it in The Federalist here:  http://thefederalist.com/2014/02/05/god-complex-why-hollywood-thinks-sex-crimes-are-no-big-deal/

 

 

 

 

A Yogi Berra Translation

“You can observe a lot by watching” is probably my favorite Yogi Berra quote.

Of course, you can read a list of Yogiisms  if you’re in the mood (and who isn’t?) and find your own favorite. But let’s first explore the meaning of “You can observe a lot by watching.” This is not pure tautology. What I believe Yogi meant — and what we all know in our gut – is that you can learn a lot by paying attention.  We need to pay attention (watch) if we want to absorb (observe) or learn anything. If we don’t connect the dots, then we don’t get the picture.

Some of us try hard to pay attention. We want to learn. We want to use what was once quaintly called “the imagination.” And we believe in Truth, real friendship, motherhood, brotherhood, and all that’s good. So we throw up our hands in despair when the rest of the world’s eyes glaze over in the vortex of all the shiny objects out there: tech toys and stuff, sex’n’stuff, power’n’stuff, “free stuff.” All that stuff acts like tractor beams pulling human minds into a thick fog. It diverts our attention from what we can learn about ourselves and the real world. The sorry state of public education, along with family breakdown and the excesses of pop culture have rendered so many incapable of paying enough attention to learn anything.

Am I losing you now?  If so, my problem isn’t so much with the facts as with how I’ve packaged them.  Yogi understood this sort of thing, even if he didn’t know it.

Yogi doesn’t tell you to pay attention so you’ll learn something, not in those words.  That’s being a nag.  Yogi’s a real friend.  And he knows about packaging.  So, instead, he just makes a friendly suggestion that makes you do a doubletake and laugh:  Just observe by watching!

When we pay attention we learn that being a scold doesn’t work. Shopworn arguments don’t work, no matter how true. You may believe in the United States Constitution, in reason, and in liberty and justice for all. But if you’re really watching people, you learn that you can’t win when you are competing with so many shiny objects. Today’s culture is saturated with glitter and glam. People can’t let go of it without fearing you’ve come to take that stuff away.

The trick is to make the good stuff look like another shiny object.  Be Tom Sawyer painting the fence.  Come from a whole new angle. Shed unexpected light. Be a friend who says the unexpected, with love. Or just be a happy go lucky truth-teller for those who identify with you and like you.  Sometimes you have to scramble your words to get attention. Sometimes you have to rearrange the furniture when nobody’s looking.

After all, as Yogi might remind us: ninety percent of the game is half mental.*

* Update:  This reference is often attributed to Yogi Berra, but I’ve since learned it is more accurately a quote from Kansas City outfielder Jim Wohlford.  The exact yogism is “Ninety percent of this game is mental.  The other half is physical.”