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July 29, 2015

Camille Paglia on "Snark Atheism," and How Jon Stewart Has Debased Political Discourse

Via @rdbrewer4 in the sidebar, she's on to something here.

The whole interview is worth reading, but I'll just excerpt the zestiest bits.

You're an atheist, and yet I donít ever see you sneer at religion in the way that the very aggressive atheist class right now often will. What do you make of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and the religion critics who seem not to have respect for religions for faith?

I regard them as adolescents. I say in the introduction to my last book, "Glittering Images", that "Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination." It exposes a state of perpetual adolescence that has something to do with their parents-- they're still sneering at dad in some way....

Iím speaking here as an atheist. I donít believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced. We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system. They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny....


But this sneering thing! I despise snark. Snark is a disease that started with David Letterman and jumped to Jon Stewart and has proliferated since. I think it's horrible for young people! And this kind of snark atheismĖlet's just invent that term right nowĖis stupid, and people who act like that are stupid....


I think Stewartís show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark.....

As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then heís partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States....

The resistance of liberals in the media to new ideas was enormous. Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but thatís simply not true! Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers. Itís so simplistic!

Now let me give you a recent example of the persisting insularity of liberal thought in the media. When the first secret Planned Parenthood video was released in mid-July, anyone who looks only at liberal media was kept totally in the dark about it, even after the second video was released. But the videos were being run nonstop all over conservative talk shows on radio and television. It was a huge and disturbing story, but there was total silence in the liberal media. That kind of censorship was shockingly unprofessional.

She argues for the liberal view of information, which is to say, we should have that information, whether it helps the right or left, and we should not suppress it, whether it helps the right or left.

That latter idea -- suppressing information based upon what politics the information might help or hurt -- is of course as illiberal and authoritarian an idea as you can have.

Paglia has an interesting mind, despite her incurable leftwing political tendencies, and interesting minds despise the make-the-world-simple-to-understand-by-censoring-any-unpleasant-or-politically-troublesome-information world we live in.

Whether the Planned Parenthood videos help or hurt the abortion lobby is quite beyond any possibly-legitimate point. It is information, and human beings, possessed of reason and moral intuitions, ought to have this information, so that they can make judgments about it.

Otherwise, we are simply cattle in one of Temple Grandin's slaughterhouses, in which the cows are led through a serpentine course which prevents them from ever seeing what's up ahead, what's happened to the cows further up in the queue.

That's fine for cows. The slaughterhouses are intended for humane treatment -- of animals.

Humans should not be subject to the "humane treatment" of a media-enforced serpentine ramp. We should know-- we should see -- what's happening to the other humans.


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posted by Ace at 02:03 PM

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