“The frivolity of evil” -- that’s the phrase coined by British author and physician to the poor, Theodore Dalrymple. The words appear in his 2005 book, Our Culture: What’s Left of It. Dalrymple’s analysis of the precipitous decline of British society provides a salient response to the “motive” question that currently permeates our media in the wake of the “senseless” murders in
Vegas and Sutherland Springs.
Dalrymple’s professional life as a psychiatrist working almost exclusively with prisoners and
underclass gave him a perspective miles apart from shrinks who massage the egos
of celebrities and millionaires on New York’s
Upper East Side. Dalrymple
(nee, Anthony Daniels) actually has
the temerity to focus on the self-destructive actions of his patients and
especially on their abysmal family lives.
Dalrymple speaks of “the frivolity of evil” (a telling modification of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil”) to fit the self-conscious actions of women whose serial romantic choices condemn both themselves and their luckless children to neglect, assault, and rape. The same applies to aimless, drug-addled men who, without compunction, sire children by various women and thus multiply the number of souls who’ll endure the same paternal abandonment they themselves curse.
When considering why such irresponsible behavior has become endemic in
Britain, Dalrymple points in two directions --
first, toward a welfare structure that undermines personal responsibility and
even rewards irresponsible choices. In
this system mothers without husbands or employment are set up by the government
with housing, food, and enough money to focus on something that gives their
lives meaning. Often that something revolves
around romance and domestic trauma -- even at the expense of their children.
If one asks why the government supports this dysfunctional system, that query points in another direction, toward intellectuals and their cohorts in the media, including “novelists, playwrights, film directors, journalists, artists, and even pop singers.” According to this mélange of moral miscreants, the poor must be viewed as victims who aren’t responsible for their actions. External factors such as poverty, “food deserts,” and capitalism are seen as the true culprits -- an analysis that bolsters the ego of nonjudgmental elites and places ever more power in the hands of government officials, therapists, and social activists “who have themselves come to form a powerful vested interest of dependence on the government.”
Moreover, these benefits showered on the poor are seen as theirs “by right.” Thus, no moral stigma attends failure to make personal choices that would secure these basic benefits, and no government is so callous as to suggest that most folks should care for themselves.
In addition to these beliefs, intellectuals and their media cohorts have embraced the notion that the elimination of taboos constitutes the royal road to personal and social Nirvana. In the world of entertainment, I note, this process is uncritically hailed as “pushing the envelope” -- where taboos like cursing, adultery, drug use, and ever-increasing depictions of violence and sexual perversity fall by the wayside. Dalrymple observes that “the prestige intellectuals confer upon antinomianism soon communicates itself to non-intellectuals. What is good for the bohemian sooner or later becomes good for the unskilled worker, the unemployed, the welfare recipient -- the very people most in need of boundaries to make their lives tolerable or allow them hope of improvement.”
Instead of obligations, especially to one’s children, emotional self-fulfillment becomes the primary basis for action. After all, as the popular saying goes, “How can you love others unless you first love yourself?” Ignored in this self-destructive psychological calculus is the fact that self-respect derives precisely from fulfilling one’s obligations.
My conclusion: Who better in contemporary American society to symbolize the philosophy of taboo-breaking than a member of the media establishment who embodies the very antinomianism he disseminates constantly to the general public -- namely, Harvey Weinstein. And lest we dismiss Weinstein as an anomaly, let us not forget the standing ovation given at the Academy Awards to child rapist Roman Polanski.
In an environment where personal responsibility is undermined by Socialist dogma and where intellectuals and their media groupies constantly tout the elimination of taboos, is it any wonder that some folks (as in
Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs) will take
these beliefs and actions to their logical destructive conclusions.
I’m not responsible. Others are the reason for my failures and disappointments. Child rape is now ok. Harvey Weinstein got away with all kinds of illegal acts. Society owes me. Now “society” is going to pay for my misery -- Quentin Tarantino style!
A culture with over a million abortions each year and illegitimacy rates well north of 70% in some communities shouldn’t have to scratch its head when mass murders occur. Intellectuals and media powerbrokers, however, never look at the destruction their ideas and actions have wrought. If they did, “they might feel called upon to place restraints upon their own behavior” or give up the cherished notion of their moral superiority. Consequently, “neither pols nor pundits wish to look the problem in the face.”
Nuclear families that eat together and acknowledge legitimate obligations and reasonable moral boundaries are what hold a society together. Socialism, intellectuals, and Harvey Weinsteins in the media pull it apart -- sometimes violently.
Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern
whose book Moral
Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?" is also available on Kindle . This article appeared in American Thinker Magazine (online), California