January 28th, 2009

exceptionalism

Laurels Wither, or, It Just Doesn't Work That Way

Two parallel, connected, simultaneously-but-independently written rants are kludged up together here, rather than try to clean them all up and polish them into one long masterful MegaRant, since that didn't work so well last time.

The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Scepter and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.

Some men with swords may reap the field
and plant fresh laurels where they kill;
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still:
Early or late,
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
When they, pale captives, creep to death.,

The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
Upon Death's purple altar now,
See, where the victor-victim bleeds:
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb,
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.

From The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses Ajax,
by James Shirley (1596-1666)



When a bad behavior is common enough that no one person is principally to blame for it, I - not being quite as much of a Cast-Iron Bastard™ as either I or my enemies like to think - will frequently deliberately avoid calling out any specific random offender without other good reason to do so when addressing it, because it's a distraction and depending on the circumstances, unfair. (This is the opposite of the frequently-seen conservative troll behavior of finding and scapegoating some particular, usually female blogger and ignoring everyone else making the same arguments.) "Good reason" for me usually involves either 1) the need for concrete documentation of the bad behavior/bad arguments' existence, 2) someone formulating the argument in a way that is unique or singular in some relevant way, 3) someone who is especially noted for their rank or importance in some relevant sphere. [I admit that a 4th one, "someone who has really, REALLY pissed me off in some way" does factor into it, but I try to suppress it, for the sake of fairness, though sometimes that becomes problematic in itself.]

When the Nielsen Haydens start accusing Willow, and the rest of us by extension, of being trolls, sockpuppets, fools, and bad-faith arguers, #3 qualifies. Most definitely qualifies.

The paradigm I have usually considered all this sort of behavior under is one I coined the phrase, "The Dark Side of Feudalism" for - the seamy underbelly of what is often presented as a benevolent patriarchalism (I know, no such animal) where, far from disinterested chivalry and noblesse oblige, the reality is one of powerful people "doing things" for those with less power and whom they invariably regard as inferior, whether or not those things were requested by the weaker people, and whether or not they are things wanted or that are even helpful, let alone not harmful, to those on the receiving end) AND this "generosity" is used as justification for those on top to a) stay there, b) get the lion's share of all life's goodies as "their due" for their selfless giving, c) be granted impunity for any bad things they do, as another part of the reward due for being so generous.

These days, it isn't (mostly) knights in shining armor making this argument, but parents, teachers, first responders, nurses, doctors, priests, even politicians - they have given up SOOOO much to serve and those damn ingrates dare complain about the quality of service! Or about the TOTALLY JUSTIFIED BECAUSE MOM/DAD/SPOUSE HAD SUCH A BAD DAY AT WORK smack for not moving out of the way fast enough, or not being completely silent when I didn't want to hear your voice, or not having all the dishes done, or burning dinner, or...all the way up to shooting and killing a helpless prisoner, again, there will ALWAYS be this excuse - and, moreover, just as always, other coattail excusers, who vicariously identify with l'homme armee, or the Lawgiver, or the Chirurgeon, or the Parent Who Stands In For God, or the Landlord-Millowner who so generously allows the technoserfs to labor for only the greater part of the fruits of said labour.

Growing up with this mindset held up before me as God's Will, I perhaps bridle at it more than many who were not so indoctrinated - it's an autoimmune reaction of the soul, wherever I detect modern feudalist attitudes towards those in positions of wealth or authority, let alone those who invoke their rank and success as proofs positive of virtue and the entitlement to continued/further power/freedom from challenge. (Thog says otherwise, and often.) Collapse )


INTERJECTA - the political is never impersonal.

The whole thing has been extremely triggering for me, because for about a quarter-century, on a daily basis, I was subject to nigh constant invalidation on the basis of "tone." And I could never moderate my tone enough, to have my objectios to being verbally or physically abused be worthy of being addressed. NEVER. (I watched this done to everyone else in the household, too.) Likewise, academic sophistry was used to "prove" to me that women were inferior, or I personally did not deserve any rights; that the bullying that i experienced did not, *could* not have happened, because the bullier was a Moral Person who disavowed bullying as Unworthy of a Christian, and unless there were multiple witnesses too many to be dismissed, it was invariably dismissed as "a misunderstanding" - I didn't/couldn't have said you were a worthless loser, I couldn't have threatened to kill your cat, you must have just misunderstood me! I must have been joking! Collapse )
ship

Not a Trick Question

Canonically, there is one individual whom John Silver trusts in the whole world, by his own attestation. Without looking this up, what is:
a) this person's race?

b) this person's gender?

c) this person's relation to Silver?


So why aren't there more fanfic stories about them?

--That wasn't part of the quiz. Or was it?

...Yeah, trick question after all I guess...