Friday, April 4, 2008

The Ox-Gore Incident

A good and true friend the other day mentioned that he had read my post labeled "The Fat Of The Land". His reaction, quite unexpected, was, to more or less quote, "What I thought was 'Oh just shut the fuck up! He's just talking to hear himself out loud.'

Certainly nowhere near the reaction I was expecting. After a moment of wit gathering I asked, "Well okay so do you disagree with the idea that not all social problems need a government solution?" To which he answered, "No but doesn't it all depend on whose ox is being gored?"

This might well be the ultimate in pragmatic reductionist viewpoints. It is the assumption, cynical but not entirely unwarranted, that the act of wanting to impose one's own ideas of proper behavior on society is an ideologically neutral enterprise--i.e. everyone does it. Everyone of every ideological stripe, left, center, right, ad nauseum, supposedly wants the government to enforce their own personal herd of political and social hobbyhorses--one's own "gored oxes". It might even be said to be true of the pure anarchist whose personal choice is no government at all.

This isn't so much reductionist as de-constructionist for is even the ideological thrust of the radical centrist, which favors as little government intervention as possible, merely another species of goreable ox? Is there a way out of this hall of mirrors? Perhaps not. After all any ideogical enterprise breaks down at the margins of human interaction. Humans don't handle "purity" very well. Well to extend the old saying a bit, better is the enemy of good enough and perfect is the foresworn arch foe of both. My "good enough" is to intellectually, if of course imperfectly, resist the progressive tendency to view every conceivable "problem" as amenable to legislative remedy.

I,for instance, despise much of hip-hop "music" which I find irretrievably crude, thuggish, and mysogynistic but do I want it legislatively bannned? Absolutely not. I think gay marriage ultimately pointless and maybe even slightly injurious to the social order. Do I want any government, local, state, or federal, to prohibit it? Nope. As a recently "reformed" smoker do I want laws that prohibit smoking in every conceivable public space? Nuh-unh. And so on. Many of my own personally gored oxes will just have to recover from their injuries by themselves.

It is at least arguable that any actions of any person bears, even if minutely, on the actions or welfare of some other person. However the hard leftist and to a lesser degree the progressive tendency to want to ferret out and ban all human behavior that might, even in the tiniest degree, deleteriously affect other humans may be laudable to many but I submit is stiffling and liberty threatening to many more.

So very much of the heavy lifting of humans attaining a high degree of freedom from want and oppression has been done that much of what we see now is pernsickety fiddling about the margins. At these margins lies much silliness and opportunity for mischief. One of my jobs is perforce to hold up such opportunities to the light of reasoned analysis, and of course smart-alecky ridicule.

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