March 8, 2007

Justice is done...

This is a piece by Stefan Sharkansky I saved back in 2004, and never got around to blogging. Such a junk box my computer is. Well, better late than nevva...

The Comedy of Left-wing Justice

The Beverly Hillbillies was a very funny sitcom and a wonderful example of the use of status in comedy. Stage comedy is essentially all about status. Every character has both social status and situational status. Social status is relatively fixed and derives from one's wealth, occupation, organizational rank, etc. Situational status is more dynamic and has to do with how the character performs his role -- bearing, body language, control of space, use of language, and also what happens in the scene -- is the character a victim or an aggressor, does he succeed or fail at the task at hand? Characters are generally described as high-status or low-status. Comedy happens when a character gets his status lowered, or when a low-status character raises his status at the expense of a high-status character. That helps explain why The Beverly Hillbillies was so funny. The low-status Clampetts had their status raised with their new found oil wealth, and they somehow always ended up lowering the status of the banker Mr. Drysdale and his high-status wife. Did Mrs. Drysdale ever get the better of Granny? Of course not, because that wouldn't have been funny.

Left-wing notions of justice are also about status. There is a whole ladder of characteristics where some people are assigned high status and others low status. Now I'm not making any value judgments in the following list, I'm simply reporting my understanding of progressive thinking: Men are higher status than women. Caucasians are higher status than Asians who are higher status than Hispanics who are higher than Africans. The rich have higher status than the poor. Management has higher status than labor. The able-bodied are higher than the disabled. Heterosexuals are higher than homosexuals. Christians and Jews have more status than Muslims and Hindus. Americans are above everybody else on the planet. You get the point.

Left-wing justice is very simple. As long as the outcome is one where a low-status person wins at the expense of a high-status person, justice is done. No need to be concerned with the circumstances or the particular individuals involved, all that matters is group-based status. Case closed.

Think of all the examples of public issues or controversies and how most lefties respond. They all fit into this framework. Every single one. How else would the Sept. 11 attacks get turned into a discussion of American oppression of Muslims? Why else would so many on the left identify with Saddam more than they do with Bush? Why did college lefties get their knickers in a twist over Apartheid, but couldn't care less about Zimbabwe or Sudan? Why do some people call Ariel Sharon a "war criminal" because of Sabra and Shatilla, but never even mention the Christian Arabs who carried out the massacre? Why do university administrators impose harsher discipline against those who dress up as the Jackson 5 than against those who commit violence in their protests against Israel? It's all about the dynamic of elevating the low-status (Arabs, Muslims, Black people) while lowering the high-status (America, Israel, white frat boys).

And that also helps explain why so many people find it so easy to ridicule the left. Because so much of what the left believes in is essentially, well, comedy.

Well, it sure doesn't look like much has changed in the last two years. Did you notice the reference to "white frat boys?" It's not the slightest bit odd the the Duke Lacrosse guys were betrayed by their own teachers.

Posted by John Weidner at March 8, 2007 6:07 PM
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