Daring to ask a question – paying a high price


If illiteracy is bondage, the moral variety is even more so. The moral illiteracy of our age is astounding. It is revealed yet again in an Irish context in the controversy surrounding a well-known radio journalist, George Hook, who found himself suspended from his job for asking a simple question with insufficient delicacy. In fact, the delicacy was not the real issue. It was that he asked the question at all.

But what exactly did he say? In the context of a rape charge involving a drunken threesome he had no doubt that, if guilty, the rapist had committed a horrible crime. However, Hook’s undoing was that he then had the temerity to ask a universal question, “But is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?

Mr Hook also said: “There is personal responsibility because it’s your daughter and it’s my daughter. And what determines the daughter who goes out, gets drunk, passes out and is with strangers in her room and the daughter that goes out, stays halfway sober and comes home, I don’t know. I wish I knew. I wish I knew what the secret of parenting is.

“But there is a point of responsibility. The real issues nowadays and increasingly is the question of the personal responsibility that young girls are taking for their own safety.”

Noeline Blackwell, CEO of a Rape Crisis Centre, said Mr Hook’s comments were problematic, wrong, and entirely irresponsible. “When someone is raped the only person responsible is the rapist.”

Chris Donoghue, the group political editor at Communicorp, a media company that owns the station Hook works for, tweeted about his colleague saying, “Someone needs to go to town on Hook. It’s disgusting.”

A day or two later he tweeted again saying: “Thanks for msgs, I’m not trying to be a hero or outspoken. It’s a basic thing for everyone to stand for. Rape is never a victim’s fault.”

This is moral illiteracy – showing a total and wanton ignorance of the rational concept of moral culpability, or lack of it.

Put simply and taken out of the sordid context of rape, if I see a “Beware of the dog” sign and, after ignoring it, get badly bitten, at best I am a fool, at worst I am morally culpable of negligence relating to my bodily integrity. If I get into a car with a drunk behind the wheel do I not have to ask myself some questions about my common sense, my moral sense and certainly my sense of responsibility with regard to my own safety and well-being? If my companion drives off the road I will not have perpetrated that act but my injuries – possibly my death – will be a witness to my gross imprudence as well as to the driver’s criminality. Perhaps the moral ignorance which makes people think otherwise comes from the widespread equating of legality with morality.

Camille Paglia, Laura Kipnis, cultural critics and feminists who talk a lot of sense  about drinking on campus have made themselves very unpopular with the moral illiterates.

“If you’re to going drink 11 ounces of liquor, that’s destructive on a lot of levels. In terms of self-protection, you just cannot know what’s going to happen when you’re comatose,”  Kipnis argues in her new book, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus. She also makes the point: “To say that women don’t have to be part of the solution is almost perverse.”

Paglia’s new book, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism, reprises previously published essays. A professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, she suggests less boozing and more “take-charge attitude” might spare young women from rape – or what she described in a 2014 Time article as “oafish hookup melodramas arising from mixed signals and imprudence on both sides.”

Then we had an older and a wiser Chrissie Hynde, founding member of the rock band The Pretenders telling us in her 2015 memoir Reckless that she’d been raped by a biker gang member at the age of 21. The moral illiterates found it incomprehensible that  the singer blamed herself for “playing with fire,”

Poor George Hook thought he might get away with adding his tuppence-worth of moral wisdom to all that. Little did he know the depth of ignorance he would have to contend with as the moral illiterates bayed for his blood and attempt to destroy his career with relish?


The most devastating ecological disaster of all?

Is this something we should be worried about? If even a fraction of what Camille Paglia is saying here is true, it is hard to argue that it is not a matter which should deeply concern us. Our universities, more than ever before, are where the minds of the future are forming themselves – and a true university will always see that the most important work being done there is the work the students themselves do. But if they can form themselves then the reverse is also true. They can deform themselves.

Cultures have become degenerate in the past. Civilizations have disintegrated and vanished. Somehow new civilizations emerge eventually – but the human cost, the loss and the suffering which human kind experiences in the trough between these two peaks can be the stuff of nightmares. Will some scholars in centuries from now, perhaps even millennia from now, find these words of Paglia – and God only knows what medium they will find them in – and say here was the Cassandra or the Tiresias of the 20th and 21st century,  Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs, (who) perceived the scene, and foretold the rest…     

A professor’s probing challenge


Professor Robert George of Princeton tells us on his Facebook page of  a fascinating challenge he makes to his students and of the somewhat depressing response he gets. Perhaps it was always like this? Has every generation been as myopic, as unschooled in any sense of the realities of historic time and place as this one? It again seems to confirm a everything that Professor Paglia fumed about in a post here a few days ago. Frighteningly it seems to be more evidence of the fulfillment of Allan Bloom’s dismal predictions of 30 years ago about the consequences of the ‘closing of the American mind‘.

Professor George writes:

Undergraduates say the darndest things. When discussing the history of racial injustice, I frequently ask them what their position on slavery would have been had they been white and living in the South before abolition. Guess what? They all would have been abolitionists! They all would have bravely spoken out against slavery, and worked tirelessly in the cause of freeing those enslaved. Isn’t that special? Bless their hearts.

Of course, it is complete nonsense. Only the tiniest fraction of them, or of any of us, would have spoken up against slavery or lifted a finger to free the slaves. Most of them—and us—would simply have gone along. Many would have supported the slave system and, if it was in their interest, participated in it as buyers and owners or sellers of slaves.

So I respond to the students’ assurances that they would have been vocal opponents of slavery by saying that I will credit their claims if they can show me evidence of the following: that in leading their lives today they have stood up for the rights of unpopular victims of injustice whose very humanity is denied, and where they have done so knowing (1) that it would make THEM unpopular with their peers, (2) that they would be loathed and ridiculed by wealthy, powerful, and influential individuals and institutions in our society; (3) that they would be abandoned by many of their friends, (4) that they would be called nasty names, and (5) that they would possibly even be denied valuable educational and professional opportunities as a result of their moral witness.
In short, my challenge to them is to show me where they have at significant risk to themselves and their futures stood up for a cause that is unpopular in elite sectors of our culture today.

There are those who may say, “well this is America” and “you cannot say the same for Europe or the rest of the anglophone world.” Oh yes you can. This myopia, this non-sense of history is endemic in much of our culture. All you have to do is look at the documentation of it by the British-based Spiked Online campaign for freedom of speech and related freedoms from ignorance.

Princeton – where some at least are opening minds against the odds.



Camille Paglia bursting the PC bubble – again

Camille Paglia has been talking sense for decades and she is still doing so – but it appears that no one has been listening. Here she talks about her desperation at the state of America’s youth culture – which will be tomorrow’s general culture.

At its root is an appalling ignorance about the world, Camille says:

“They have no sense of the great patterns of world history, the rise and fall of civilisations like Babylon and Rome that became very sexually tolerant, and then fell. If you’ve had no exposure to that, you can honestly believe that ‘There is progress all around us and we are moving to an ideal state of culture, where we all hold hands and everyone is accepted for what they are … and the environment will be pure…’ – a magical utopian view that we are marching to perfection. And the sign of this progress is toleration – of the educated class – for homosexuality, or for changing gender, or whatever.

“To me it’s a sign of the opposite, it’s symptomatic of a civilisation just before it falls: ‘we’ are very tolerant, not passionate, but there are bands of vandals and destroyers circling around the edge of our civilisation who will bring it down.”

And she thinks Hilary Clinton is “absolutely corrupt”.

See more, a great deal more, at Spiked.com or MercatorNet here.