Daily Archives: January 12, 2011

Shorter Sarah Palin

“Today has been set aside to honor the victims of the Tucson massacre. And Sarah Palin has apparently decided she’s one of them,” – Josh Marshall.

According to Sarah Palin in her speech today (thereby politicizing what was supposed to be a national day of mourning):

a) Words do not contribute to violent crime: that responsibility belongs exclusively to the criminal.

b) However, the words spoken about her on this issue are equivalent to the “blood libel” against the Jews — which, of course, led to pogroms, mass murders and genocide.

c) Finally, according to Palin, people just talking about these issues will foment still more violence.

Palin’s rogue logic: Words aren’t dangerous when I speak them about you.  Words are dangerous when you speak them about me.

Here’s a quote from Frye that covers this: “Hypocrisy is more dangerous than crime; self-deception is more dangerous than hypocrisy.”

Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Today is Edmund Burke‘s birthday (1729-1797).

Consistent with our postings this week on responsible speech and the broader social compact it manifests, here’s Frye in The Well-Tempered Critic on Edmund Burke, a  conservative who puts to shame jibbering hysterics like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and company:

If we ask what is the natural way to talk, the answer is that it depends on which nature is being appealed to.  Edmund Burke remarked that art is man’s nature, that it is natural to man to be in a state of cultivation, and the remark has behind it the authority of our whole cultural and religious tradition.  What is true of nature is also true of freedom.  The half-baked Rousseauism in which most of us have been brought up has given us a subconsciousness notion that the free act is the untrained act.  But of course freedom has nothing to do with lack of training.  We are not free to move until we have learned to walk; we are not free to express themselves musically until we have learned music; we are not capable free thought unless we can think.  Similarly, free speech cannot have anything to do with the mumbling and the grousing of the ego.  Free speech is cultivated and precise speech: even among university students not all capable of it or would know if they lost it. (CW 21, 334-5)

That’s true also of politicians who have never attempted to process cultivated and precise speech, and whose idea of freedom is accordingly untrammeled licence for the plutocratic elite they represent and diminishing returns for everyone else.