Friday, February 24, 2012
Why Does Valentine’s Day Make Me Cry?
A "Romantic Industrial Complex"? What next? Laurie Essig sounds a very confused young lady below. The second last paragraph sounds sheer gibberish to me
I suspect that she cries because her Leftist hates cut her off from a lot of things that normal people enjoy -- JR
Driving to work yesterday, I was feeling that Valentine’s Day depression that is wont to come upon me on February 14. It’s not just the cliche storyline of boy meets girl, boy buys girl stuff, boy and girl eat dinner, and so it is that love becomes incorporated into the market that gets me down. It is the sinking sense that there is no way to ever escape this story.
So it was that I drove by the church with the billboard that said “Jesus is God’s Valentine to You” and smirked with the ironic distance of my truly analytical feminist brain. But that smirk was quickly wiped off my face as I listened in on a local radio station’s Valentine’s Day special: a real live wedding. Of course it was incredibly predetermined in its presentation—the young high-school friends who were meant to be together but went their separate ways, reunited on Facebook, now marrying live on the radio. Of course their vows said all the right things about for better or for worse as if they were unaware that a lot of marriages don’t really get through the worse times. Of course they played every single cheesy love song in the background as the radio host narrated the bride’s descent down the stairs, the flower girl’s throwing rose petals in her path, the ring boy, the bride’s son from a previous relationship, looking forward to his new life in the “sanctuary” of his new family.
I could have written this scene in my sleep it was so overdetermined by historical, economic, cultural, and narrative forces. And yet I was crying as I listened to it. Why did I cry?
I asked my students in my course on the Sociology of Heterosexuality this very question. “Because,” one of them ventured, “you find their inability to be analytical about the hegemonic discourse of romance depressing?” Yes, of course I do, but that doesn’t explain my tears. This sort of argument—that there is something really and truly inauthentic and wrong about the way the Romantic Industrial Complex (RIC) manipulates us into buying stuff to express our love was beautifully laid out by my comrade in heterosexual studies, Samhita Mukhophadyay over at the Nation. Mukhophadyay points out that:
"There is a romantic-industrial complex that nets billions of dollars from Valentine’s Day and weddings, and it needs you to “buy into” outdated ideas of love and marriage. The more you express your love through candies, chocolates, diamonds, rentals, and registries, the more the RIC makes! Valentine’s Day is only one manifestation of the RIC: Americans spend $70- to $80-billion on weddings each year. With the average American wedding costing $27,000, marriage itself has become a luxury item. This is more than a struggle between old and new traditions—this is about money."
Calling on us to Occupy Valentine’s Day, Mukhopadyay says that we
"Romantic citizens deserve a better, more authentic and sustainable ways to express their affections—whether that be spending time with their friends and families, donating money they would spend on a romantic dinner to a domestic violence shelter, forgoing that expensive wedding for a more meaningful but less costly one. Above all, let’s find a way to honor ourselves that does not rely on buying stuff."
I agree with her completely. In fact I told her that I couldn’t have said it better and there was no reason to post about Valentine’s Day. And then a seriously sad reality began to set in.
It is not that capitalism distorts my authentic human emotion, forcing me to cry over a commercial radio station using a wedding to get me to tune in and hopefully buy stuff they advertise. It is that there is no authentic human emotion floating outside the cultures in which we live. The fact that I experience deep and even desperate feelings of romantic love is not separate from the capitalist exploitation of those feelings; in fact my love is produced by that very exploitation.
And if that doesn’t make us cry on Valentine’s Day, I cannot imagine what would.
Her picture here suggests other reasons why Ms Essig might be sad
The real reason Britain should cut aid to India
When Britain begs India to keep taking handouts, you know aid is more about nourishing soulless Westerners than feeding hungry Southerners.
The debate about whether Britain should continue giving aid to India will surely rank as one of 2012’s most ‘Alice in Wonderland’ political moments. An outsider to the world of international aid probably imagines that it is cash-strapped countries in the South who do the pleading, sometimes having to humiliate themselves by asking Western nations for financial assistance. Yet in the surreal affray over aid to India, it was the well-off giver – Britain – which was on its knees, begging, beseeching the Indians to continue accepting our largesse because if they didn’t, it would cause the Lib-Con government ‘great embarrassment’.
This unseemly spat sums up the problem with modern aid: it’s all about Us, not Them. The reason British ministers were prostrating themselves before India, effectively begging the Indians to remain as beggars, is because aid is now more about generating a moral rush in the big heads of politicians and activists over here than it is about filling the tummies of under-privileged people over there. It is designed to flatter and satisfy the giver rather than address the needs of the receiver, which means ‘aid to India’ is way more important to Britain than it is to India. And for that reason, because aid has been so thoroughly corrupted by the narrow needs of its distributors, it would indeed be a good thing to stop foisting it upon India and other nations.
There was something almost Pythonesque (and I never use that word) in the sight of British politicians saying ‘We must continue giving aid to India’ while Indian politicians were saying ‘We do not require the aid. It is a peanut in our total development spending.’ Those were the words of India’s finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, who told his parliament that the nation should ‘voluntarily’ give up the £280million it receives from Britain each year. Cue outraged - and panicked - ministers and do-gooders in London kickstarting a PR campaign to show that the Indians are wrong - they do need British aid, because otherwise, according to Britain’s minister for international development Alan Duncan, in an article illustrated with a photograph of him accepting flowers from grateful little Indians, ‘millions could die’.
But it soon became clear that it is Britain, not India, which needs this aid set-up – existentially speaking. Indeed, during last week’s weird clash, it was revealed that, last year, British ministers sent a private communique to India begging it not to free itself from Britain’s apron strings. According to a leaked memo, the Indian foreign minister, Nirumpama Rao, proposed that India should ‘not avail of any further DFID [UK Department for International Development] assistance with effect from 1 April 2011’. Officials at DFID subsequently contacted the Indians and told them that cancelling British aid would cause ‘grave political embarrassment’ to the British government, not only because Britain had spent £1 billion of UK taxpayers’ money on aid to India over the past five years, but also because it has expended much ‘political capital’ on ‘justifying the aid to their electorate’.
‘Political capital’ – that’s the key phrase in this topsy-turvy situation where a relatively well-off Western nation pleads with a developing nation to continue taking alms. Aid is now all about the political capital it provides to the givers, the moral mission it creates for politicians and NGO types who can say ‘WE CARE’. Aid is less about feeding the poor than it is about feeding the egos of Western campaigners who, lacking direction in life, leech off Third World unfortunates in an effort to advertise their own moral decency. This outlook, this use of charity to boost the moral fortunes of the givers rather than dramatically improve the lives of the receivers, is beautifully summed up in a promo leaflet currently being distributed by the British charity Plan – it shows a poor but smiling African girl, wearing rags, alongside the words ‘She can change your life forever’. That is, by giving charity to this girl you can turn your empty, consumerist life around by becoming Good!
This is what poor Africans and Indians now represent to many in the aid industry – symbolically destitute creatures who can help change our lives by allowing themselves to be cooed over and cared for. Forget the days when aid or charity was about trying to change their lives, about improving the lot of the properly downtrodden; now it’s about improving the moral lot of modern-day missionaries in the West. The problem is that, in order to sustain this moral charade of caring Westerners ostentatiously ‘saving’ smiling African girls and empty-tummied Indians, the receivers of British largesse must dutifully play the role of skinny, bewildered, desperate people, because if they don’t, then the self-serving magic of the aid relationship, its ability to change our lives forever, will be lost. And modern India is simply no longer willing to play that role.
Indeed, Indian officials said the reason they want to reject British aid is not only because it is ‘peanuts’, but also because DFID has a tendency to present Indians as financial and moral basket cases who need the help of their now-reformed former rulers. A leaked Indian memo railed against the ‘negative publicity of Indian poverty promoted by DFID’, while an Indian journalist said his country is ‘increasingly exasperated at being treated as a needy beneficiary’. As well it should be. India has grown exponentially in recent years and there have been corresponding leaps forward in social life – life expectancy has risen eight years over the past two decades, to a new average high of 66.8 years. Of course, development is uneven in India and there is still much poverty - but it’s just not on to expect India to play the role of the bowl-waving nation, not only because that’s an inaccurate image but also because it is one cynically drawn up by Western campaigners who need India to stay in that position in order to sustain their own life narratives.
In sending the signal that it no longer wants British aid, India is implicitly rebelling against an aid system that is now more about nourishing the souls of the givers rather than boosting the living conditions of the receivers. Today, it is a lack in the hearts and minds of Western activists, rather than in the stomachs of Southern peoples, which motors the massive aid and NGO industry. At least the old colonial missionaries to the Third World actually had a mission – one which involved trying to ‘improve’ dark-skinned people by giving them the Bible and teaching them English and manners. In contrast, today’s mission-less missionaries, from officials like Alan Duncan to the army of do-gooders who staff Plan and Oxfam and other patronising Third World charities, go to the South in search of a mission and they fundamentally need the poor to stay as they are, as symbols of destitution, in order to prop up the billion-pound piece of moral theatre that is modern international aid.
British historian William Hutton once said, ‘The charity that hastens to proclaim its good deeds ceases to be charity, and is only pride and ostentation’. That is pretty much all that remains in the world of aid: pride and ostentation. Indeed, it is striking that, in 2010, when DFID announced cuts to spending on the publicity side of ‘fighting global poverty’, various NGOs went ballistic, slamming the focus on ‘output-based aid’ over important things such as ‘increas[ing] public understanding of the causes of global poverty’ – that is, who cares about providing on-the-ground stuff, when there’s so much awareness-raising about the wonderfulness of NGOs to be done? Britain’s aid budget should be slashed, not because it costs the taxpayer too much money, as Daily Mail moaners argue, but because it costs too much in terms of the self-respect of nations in the South. Britain should have an emergency aid budget, of course, so that, like all civilised nations, it can assist quickly and generously when people are immediately threatened by starvation or disease, such as after the Haiti earthquake or the Pakistani floods. But the rest of the time, even sometimes struggling peoples don’t need the massive side orders of moralism and fatalism that come with Britain’s ‘peanuts’.
Official Inquiry into misbehaviour by some journalists has created 'chilling atmosphere that threatens free speech in Britain,' says Tory minister Gove
The Leveson inquiry into Press standards has created a ‘chilling atmosphere’ that threatens free speech in Britain, Michael Gove warned yesterday.
In an outspoken defence of the Press, the Education Secretary cautioned against allowing ‘judges, celebrities and the establishment’ to set the boundaries of free speech because they had a vested interest in shackling the media.
Mr Gove, one of David Cameron’s closest allies, also appeared to question the Prime Minister’s decision to set up the inquiry last year, warning there was a danger it would produce ‘a cure that is worse than the original disease’.
Addressing a Westminster lunch, Mr Gove acknowledged the need to investigate alleged wrongdoing at the News of the World.
But he said there were already laws to prevent reporters ‘going rogue’, including specific offences of intercepting voicemail messages and bribing public officials.
Mr Gove, a former senior journalist at The Times, said there was a natural temptation for politicians to ‘succumb’ to demands for an inquiry by ‘establishment’ figures in the wake of a major scandal.
But he warned there were ‘dangers’ in the wide-ranging inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Leveson.
He said: ‘There is a danger at the moment that what we may see are judges, celebrities, and the establishment, all of whom have an interest in taking over from the Press as arbiters of what a free Press should be, imposing either soft or hard regulation.
‘What we should be encouraging is the maximum amount of freedom of expression and the maximum amount of freedom of speech.’
He added: ‘Journalists should be more assertive in making the case for Press freedom, and politicians should recognise that we have nothing to gain and everything to lose from fettering a Press which has helped keep us honest in the past and ensured that the standard of debate in this country is higher than in other jurisdictions.
‘The big picture is that there is a chilling atmosphere towards freedom of expression which emanates from the debate around Leveson.
'I think that there are laws already in place that we should respect and principles already in place that we should uphold that are central to ensuring that this country remains free.’
Mr Gove said previous inquiries into national scandals had produced reports that ‘give birth to quangos, commissions, and law-making creatures that actually generate over-regulation, over-prescription, and sometimes a cure that is worse than the original disease’.
He said the Food Standards Agency, which was born out of the BSE crisis, had gone from being a ‘body that was responsible for governing the safety of our food to one that became yet another meddlesome and nanny organisation that was telling us what we should eat and in what proportion’.
And he said 800 pages of guidance produced in the wake of the deaths of Victoria Climbie and Baby P was ‘impenetrable and has still not ensured that our children are safer today than they were two, three or five years ago’.
He acknowledged that he had sometimes been ‘irritated’ by Press coverage of his own conduct, but insisted that the media had a key role to play in holding politicians to account.
Sources close to the Education Secretary last night said he supported the decision to set up the inquiry but was concerned about the direction it had taken.
Downing Street said the Prime Minister stood by his decision to order the inquiry, but insisted he valued the role played by the media.
His official spokesman said: ‘He has made very clear on a number of occasions since how important he thinks it is that we have a free Press and free media that is able to challenge governments and others.’
GOVE'S SPEECH: 'A CHILLING ATMOSPHERE TOWARDS FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION'
“One of the things that struck me over the past few months is that a new set of stereotypes every bit as misleading and caricatured as those about politicians, have grown up around journalists and about the media and the way in which it operates. I am thinking in particular about the Leveson inquiry and the debate that has surrounded it.
“One the things that struck me about politics is that there is a particular tendency to which all politicians are tempted to succumb. In the aftermath of a specific crisis, when an undoubted wrong has been done, there is a desire to find a judge, a civil servant, a representative of the great and the good, inevitably a figure from the establishment, to inquire into what went wrong, and to make recommendations about what might be put right.
“It is a natural thing for politicians to do, but there are dangers associated with it. Sometimes the recommendations of that report may be modest, proportionate and sane. But sometimes they give birth to quangos, commissions, and law-making creatures that actually generate over-regulation, over—prescription, and sometimes a cure that is worse than the original disease.
“If we look back at government’s response to various crises in the past, there have been some profound crises that have affected all of our consciences. And because they have affected our consciences, people have wanted to be seen to act. So for example in the immediate aftermath of BSE and the problems associated with the quality of our food, the Food Standards Agency was quite rightly set up,
“But one of the problems is that the Food Standards Agency morphed over time from being a body that was responsible for governing the safety of our food to one that became yet another meddlesome and nanny organisation that was telling us what we should eat and in what proportion.
“The same thing applied to the vetting and barring scheme and also to the Every Child Matters agenda in the wake of the tragic deaths of Victoria Climbie and subsequently Baby Peter. In both cases the tragic death of two children led to an attempt to ensure that we more effectively policed those that worked with young people but the result of that was a situation where Phillip Pullman had to apply for a Criminal Records Bureau check in order to go into a school to read to children.
“In the same way we developed guidance which is 800 pages long, is impenetrable and has still not ensured that our children are safer today than they were two, three or five years ago.
“I see the same dangers in the Leveson inquiry and in the way in which the debate on press regulation are moving now. It is undoubtedly the case that there were serious crimes which were committed, but we know those crimes were serious because they broke, if the allegations are proven, the already existing criminal law. There are laws against the interception of messages, there are laws against bribery, there are laws that prevent journalists like any other professional, going rogue. Those laws should be vigorously upheld, vigorously policed. However, there is a danger at the moment that what we may see are judges, celebrities, and the establishment, all of whom have an interest in taking over from the press as arbiters of what a free press should be, imposing either soft or hard regulation. What we should be encouraging is the maximum amount of freedom of expression and the maximum amount of freedom of speech.
"The reason why I say there is a particular danger at the moment is that because we all know that newspapers are under threat, under threat from the pressure of advertising migrating online, under threat from a variety of new news sources, that is why whenever anyone sets up a new newspaper, as Rupert Murdoch has done with the Sun on Sunday, they should be applauded and not criticised, and that is why journalists should be more assertive in making the case for press freedom, and politicians should recognise that we have nothing to gain and everything to lose from fettering a press which has helped keep us honest in the past and ensured that the standard of debate in this country is higher than in other jurisdictions.”
“The big picture is that there is a chilling atmosphere towards freedom of expression which emanates from the debate around Leveson. I think that there are laws already in place that we should respect and principles already in place that we should uphold that are central to ensuring that this country remains free.”
Murderous animal rights fanatic
I was once myself a registered dog breeder so I was quite inclined to remember the local dog's home in my will. Animal rights extremists do however seem to be infiltrating such traditional charities so they'll now get no money from me, sadly -- JR
An Ohio woman who compared animal-welfare work to the liberation of World War II concentration camps has been charged with soliciting a hit man to fatally shoot or slit the throat of a random fur-wearer, federal authorities said.
Meredith Lowell, 27, of Cleveland Heights, appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, where a magistrate judge ordered her held by the U.S. Marshals Service pending a hearing next week, court records show. One of her defense attorneys, Walter Lucas, declined comment when reached by phone after the court appearance.
Investigators say the FBI was notified in November of a Facebook page Lowell created under the alias Anne Lowery offering $830 to $850 for the hit and saying the ideal candidate would live in northeast Ohio, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the court on Friday.
The affidavit says an FBI employee posing as a possible hit man later began email correspondence with Lowell, and she offered him $730 in jewelry or cash for the killing of a victim of at least 12 years but “preferably 14 years old or older” outside a library near a playground in her hometown.
Here’s exactly how the Facebook post read according to the local ABC affiliate:
"I would like to create an online community on facebook which would allow me to find someone who is willing to kill someone who is wearing fur toward the end of October 2011 or early November 2011 or possibly in January 2012 or February 2012 at the latest. The person willing to do this job would hopefully live in northeast Ohio, somewhere in Ohio, or be able to commute to Ohio and should be against people who wear fur products. I am willing to pay this person up to $830-$850 which is far more than I was originally willing to pay. Groups such as the Animal Rights Militia (also known as Animal Defense Militia) that are willing to kill people who wear fur are welcome to join this page. I welcome members of the Animal Liberation Front, the Animal Rights Militia, and similar groups that are militant to join and anyone else who believe that people who wear fur should be killed."
“You need to bring a gun that has a silencer on it and that can be easily concealed in your pants pocket or coat. … If you do not want to risk the possibility of getting caught with a gun before the job, bring a sharp knife that is (at least) 4 inches long, it should be sharp enough to stab someone and/or slit their throat to kill them. I want the person to be dead in less than 2 minutes,” says an email reprinted in the affidavit.
She told the undercover employee she wanted to be on site when the slaying took place so she could distribute “papers” afterward, the affidavit says. She hoped to be arrested so she could call attention to her beliefs and to get out of the home she shared with her parents and brothers who eat meat and eggs and use fur, leather and wool, investigators said.
Reprinted emails also say Lowell wrote that she sees nothing wrong with “liberating” animals from fur factory farms and laboratories since “soldiers liberated people from Nazi camps in World War 2.”
She also criticized a new aquarium in Cleveland — saying “it is wrong for animals to be taken against their will and put into their (equivalent) of a bathtub” — and research by the Cleveland Clinic, where she said animals should be “liberated and put somewhere where they are not tortured.”
Lowell faces a hearing next Tuesday to determine whether she will be given the opportunity to post bail or be detained without bond pending resolution of the case.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.