Tuesday, January 09, 2007

National Review's False Modesty

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with National Review.

In the plus column, they're much more reliably pro-market than a lot of "classical liberal" magazines out there (I'm thinking in particular about Reason and The Economist) and give cogent economic arguments for their positions in layman's terms. They're also very useful as a Washington watchdog. Unlike a lot of more "radical" commentators, who mostly peddle their ideas in exaggerated terms and ignore the actual mechanics of Capitol Hill, National Review keeps tabs on what the competition is saying and takes the time to point out the flaws, contradictions, and hypocrisy in their statements. They're especially good for dissecting stories in The New Republic and The New York Times. Also, they have standards. You gotta love a rag that fired (I'm sorry, "fired") Ann Coulter for being offensive!

In the minus column there's only really one thing, but it's a doozie: they're religious. People who know me will say that's the end of the story - but it's not. I'm not really as anti-religion as I come across. True, I myself am not religious, and I do think that religion is inherently irrational and therefore damaging to humanity - and I do say all this quite publicly. But at the end of the day, there's a reason why we don't require people to prove negatives. It's philosophically well-established that I can't say with any certainty that there is no God and no mystical dimension to the universe; there well might be. And for people who think they have found that, I'm in the camp who leaves them to their business. What I really object to is any attempt to bring religion into the public sphere, where it clearly doesn't belong. Here I'm not talking only about laws. I'm talking just as much about addressing the general public about religion as though it were established fact when it isn't. It's the same in private conversations with my friends. I can stay friends with a religious person provided shared assumptions of religiosity are left out of our conversations. But I think I would find it pointless and unworkable to be friends with someone who constantly talked about Jesus casually. National Review crosses all of these lines for me.

Ayn Rand once called it the "worst and most dangerous magazine in America" for this reason. Or, more specifically, because "it ties capitalism to religion." I don't think it's all that bad. And Rand was probably being disingenuous anyway. National Review famously slammed Atlas Shrugged when it was published in 1957. You can read the review here. I will simply say that it was extremely unfair - and that there is reason to think that the reviewer didn't read her book carefully. But Rand, in any case, has good grounds for a personal grudge. (Whether Atlas Shrugged is a good work of literature or not is a highly complicated point for me, and I'll probably blog about it in detail eventually. For now suffice it to say that I can definitely see the case against it - even so, Mr. Chambers' review is unfair.) And that's probably what's behind her calling it the "most dangerous magazine in America."

But I still agree with the substance behind the overstatement. National Review's religion fetish is nowhere more a mark against it than in its cultural criticism sections. Here, every complaint that NR raises against its opponents on the left is played out in full, only from their point of view, which is apparently why they don't notice. But if ever there were a publication that allowed political rectitude to get in the way of an honest reaction, this is it. Of all the reviews I have read in their pages, I don't think I've ever once felt that the reviewer engaged the work directly and told us what he or she really thought. First comes concern for what the public should think, and conclusions are styled accordingly. Very East Germany.

A kind of case in point comes up today. Here's a rambly, long-winded review of Courtney Cox's new TV series Dirt, in which she plays an icy, Machiavellian tabloid editor. I haven't seen it and never plan to (despite being one of the apparently few men who would "imagine [her] in the masturbation arena" - click the link to see what I'm talking about. Cox was easily the hottest of the three on Friends for me - with Aniston in a very distant second and what's-her-name not even on the charts.). I can tell by the ads that it is what most of the reviews say it is - a timid show that pretends to be edgy without taking on any real issues or really even portraying its subject matter accurately (it's specifically accused of not dealing with the impact of the internet on the tabloid world, giving the impression that it's dated even as it airs). And National Review's take on it is no different.

But it bugs me to hear this opinion from National Review, and that's because I know they would like the show even less if it really were edgy. I mean, this is the magazine that practically had to give its readers permission to laugh at the bit in Nacho Libre where he says "People think I don't know a buttload of crap about the Gospels, but I do." Or thought it was insightful to say that Seinfeld was a critique of nihilism (as if anyone missed that). I can't imagine that the reviewers here would be pleased with a television show that really dug into the dirt on the tabloid industry. But more than that the way they bring up the big "masturbation controversy" (see above) gets on my nerves. Here's the quote:


In short, Lucy Spiller's battery-powered orgasms led a critic at the San Francisco Chronicle to publish an unfortunate and possibly (it's debatable) unchivalrous comment about the fair Courteney. Jimmy Kimmel is also involved. As this is National Review Online, not Drrt, or, for that matter, the San Francisco Chronicle, I am not prepared to go into the distressing details, but, if, on the other hand, you are one of our more broad-minded readers, or just plain nosey, the offending review can be found here, Jimmy Kimmel's dramatic encounter with the poor, possibly slighted Ms. Cox can be seen on YouTube (of course), and, in a desperate attempt to draw a conclusion to the whole shocking affair, the Chronicle's caddish critic has now published an 'erotic retraction' on his blog. Make of it all what you will.


Yes, those "here"s are links in the original. So they're above the subject, but not above linking it? Please! Is this self-parody? I sincerely hope so because otherwise it's simply ridiculous! If you're really too coy to bring something up...then don't. Having brought it up, why not elaborate? How many kids do they honestly think are in their audience? What kind of adults do they think are reading? Do they honestly imagine that there's someone out there who needs to be warned away from Dirt because of the masturbation scenes, and that this person also deserves the courtesy of being given the option of not dealing with the subject in their review after it has already been brought up? It's this kind of silliness that gives prudes a bad name. I mean, what could possibly be offensive about masturbation? Is there, in fact, even a single capable person on the planet older than 13 who doesn't regularly masturbate? Why is it scandalous to put this on television? And even if it is, what kind of a standard does one really set by refusing to mention it in public?

This kind of stuff is just bullying. Take away the schoolyard, neglect to mention lunchmoney, fine - the principle is the same. It's a cheap, self-gratifying assertion of superiority based on a superficial standard. This is the kind of religion I don't like.

It reminds me of an (pointless) argument I got into with a Christian "colleague" in Japan. This guy - let's call him Brian ('cause that's his name) - wouldn't cuss at all. When I asked him about this he explained that Christians have to keep to a "higher standard." I then glanced around his never-been-cleaned apartment and asked him why saying "shit" counts as a low standard? Well, standard response, you can find other words to say. Alright - but other words for what? The same feeling, no? I mean, saying someone is a "flippin' idiot" is different from calling them a "fuckin' idiot" how, exactly? It's got more to do with the tone than the word itself, I think. For a good example, see the new Battlestar, where "frak" is used in place of "fuck" to please the FCC. Point being, the only reason "fuck" is a remotely shocking word is because we've seen people cringe when they hear it. It's because they agree to make it dirty that it is. It depends on people like Brian for its existence. Which is nothing if not an amusing irony, I guess. Another similar "good one" was a feminist I knew who used to go on about "disempowering words." She followed up this speech by saying that "There is a certain c-word that has way too much power in our society."

A "certain c-word." Classic! The feminist who's sitting here preaching about disempowering words can't bring herself to say cunt! Who, I ask you, is the victim?

Oh well, it's nothing if not amusing. But the bottom line is that religion is everything that the Religious Right likes to say Marxism is. It's a 24-7 censor living in your head telling you what to think and how to react. It's unnatural, dishonest, unhelpful, and it makes having sincere opinions and reactions near impossible. Certainly not qualities you look for in any kind of commentary.

3 Comments:

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

[b][url=http://www.bestbagsonlinestore.com/]louis vuitton handbags[/url][/b] The point of Rocks Brunswick MD Harpers Ferry WV spot is an extremely scenic spot to observe and photograph trains. In excess of 60 trains a day endure there. Point of Rocks is in which lots of trains leave the southern department of CSX and commence northward straight to Baltimore, bypassing the Washington DC region..

[b][url=http://www.cheapuggsonlinesale.co.uk/]discount ugg boots[/url][/b] The various ovoids jewellery put on somewhere close to Masai individuals rings although not only flaunt skills and persistence but will also their options in modern-day modern society. Possibly this will be specifically exactly the same with lavish customized manufactured jewellery. The Louis Vuitton decoration tribal engagement rings will identify don't just your fashion perception and your riches and ethnical standing.

[b][url=http://www.uggsoutletonlinemarket.com/]uggs outlet[/url][/b] No person would like to do like that. Likewise, don't saturate your wardrobe with any one design or silhouette. So moderation is a lot more essential to us.. XBRL specifies that XBRL syntax have to b . Sub is a very interesting requirements. Most companies inside the retail, advertising, finance, or are linked to the conversation.
Park Service primary reservations line at 1.877.444.6777. Specify the Washington Memorial as well as day of your respective pay a visit to. Make sure to incorporate little ones while in the ticket count. As every one of us know, design and style Handbags appear in all measurements, colours and kinds to satisfy all women's want today. Which range from enormous and pocket-size, purses meet up with the necessities of all stunning girls and ladies of any age and varieties. Handbags are presented in lots of different colors to meet the requirements of every fashion girl nowadays.

[b][url=http://www.uggukwebsite.co.uk/]www.uggukwebsite.co.uk[/url][/b] In addition, your modem could abruptly decline the connection from line sound or any other difficulties. This is able to induce the email you just composed to get lost. On an e-mail customer, everything is saved on your pc, therefore you isn't going to eliminate anything by getting disconnected..

[b][url=http://www.louisvuittonpursessalenow.com/]louis vuitton purses[/url][/b] You don't have to go anywhere. So, make your unique occasions additional exclusive and unique with all the existence of dominos voucher codes. They are going to allow you to have some wonderful style of dominos pizza which employed for being away from variety sometime ago. Cook this seasoned turkey using the your oven and in addition get ready supper a almond. Nike air jordans is undoubtedly indexed by wide range alongside with month ended up manufactured. You definitely should have a wide selection below as we offer you with to the motive that in numerous varieties, colours and measurements.

 
At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

[b][url=http://www.cheapuggbootsukwebsite.co.uk/]cheap ugg boots[/url][/b] We all realize that nose is the centerpiece of the deal with along with a defining feature. Cosmetic surgery has become the most effective as well as the only alternative so far to change one's nose from ugly to lovely. All those of you who have been worried about medical procedures and its charge or not sure of the way you will glimpse following operation have maybe resigned to dwell together with your unattractive noses.

[b][url=http://www.uggsunitedkingdom.co.uk/]ugg boots uk[/url][/b] The 3rd difficulty dealt with with the court is what constitutes a flag eradicating a supplier from harmless harbor. Place another way, the circumstances needs to be quite blatant for being throughout the definition of the red flag. In this instance, the fact that content material was downloaded from the file sharing internet site wasn't a red flag, considering the fact that file sharing internet sites have genuine takes advantage of.

[b][url=http://www.uggsunitedkingdom.co.uk/]ugg uk[/url][/b] One more trick is to use brown bottle Lysol model cleaner to wash all the things except their litter box and food items bowls. Most cats tend not to such as the scent of Lysol and may steer clear of spraying in close proximity to it. I've experienced cats refuse to work with a litter box, for a number of weeks immediately after cleaning it with Lysol..

[b][url=http://www.lovelouisvuittonbags.co.uk/]louis vuitton purses[/url][/b] Observe Bands For the maker. (We do not deliver this service). Observe Band The Watch Bands by Shade Watches: Gals Watches for the producer. Most Individuals grow to be emotional on their pay a visit to to Dallas. It is, just after all, the town during which President Kennedy got assassinated. Producing your technique to the Texas E book Depository could be pretty sobering while you stand to the place in which Oswald waited for your late President's cavalcade to move well before pulling the set off.

[b][url=http://www.seekingbestbags.co.uk/]louis vuitton handbags[/url][/b] Julie de Libran has a lot more encounter accumulating in certain well known company. Such as, in advance of Versace, she is an assitant for Gianfranco Ferre in Dior. She also worked for Miss Prada for more than ten years. When e-filing your software, make sure that the application has become productively submitted to USCIS. If you get a receipt quantity on the web affirmation web page along with your software no longer appears during the listing of saved software during the "My Forms" display, it indicates your software has been filed efficiently. Should you acquire Type I-797, Detect of Action, with the mail inside of 10 times of e-Filing your software, it implies your application was filed successfully.

 
At 3:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

[url=http://culturadigital.br/longchampsacsa/]sac longchamp[/url] There are gym bags for virtually every sport as athletes Welcome to buy Women Mulberry Lizzie Leather Tote Bag Brown,Shopping mulberrys handbags on mulberry factory store online. such as basketball players, gymnasts, and tennis buffs provided input as to the features they needed in their bags. Now just about everyone can find the gym bag that suits their needs and their style. The fun part is that, from duffel bags to backpacks, each style of gym bag is designed to help the health nut or athlete to keep all her gear in separate compartments.
[url=http://www.kiwibox.com/longchampbagsd/blog/]sac longchamps[/url] 8. Mediterranean Shrimp Salad: Almost everything you need is on the salad bar at your supermarket. For each serving, toss 4 ounces shrimp, 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and 1/4 Mulberry Bags Has many Different Styles And Colors, Shop Favorite Mulberry Zip Printed Leather Purse Light Coffee for Women supply cheap cup chopped roasted red peppers.
[url=http://sportsrantz.com/longchamppliagea/]sac longchamp[/url] I ended up getting one of the Kate Spade handbags as a gift for my birthday. While I actually appreciated it since I was taking into account one and wouldn't buy one for myself, I am still not certain I think they are worth the cash. Sure, they're cute, but they appear to be very overpriced for what they are, and they do not seem closely as common now as they were three years ago... If your budget is medium sized, you can look at buying replica handbags and purses wholesale. These are handbags which are inspired by designer originals. These can cost a bit more than the mass produce designs but still not much as designer goods. Love the look of layered treats and recipes in bottles. Mulberry Factory Shop outlet sale Mulberry Mini Alexa Leather Satchel Camel Bag sale for you They are easy to put together and make a nice gift. Frozen cookie dough.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home