Censors for Freedom

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The December 19 issue of National Review, marking the magazine's 50th anniversary, includes a feature in which 10 people offer suggestions on "How to Increase Liberty in America," to which I contributed a few paragraphs about ending the war on drugs. Sandwiched between Clint Bolick on school choice and Ward Connerly on colorblindness is Robert Bork on censorship. Just to be clear: He is for it.

"Liberty in America can be enhanced by reinstating, legislatively, restraints upon the direction of our culture and morality," writes the former appeals court judge, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "Censorship as an enhancement of liberty may seem paradoxical. Yet it should be obvious, to all but dogmatic First Amendment absolutists, that people forced to live in an increasingly brutalized culture are, in a very real sense, not wholly free." Bork goes on to complain that "relations between the sexes are debased by pornography"; that "large parts of television are unwatchable"; that "motion pictures rely upon sex, gore, and pyrotechnics for the edification of the target audience of 14-year-olds"; and that "popular music hardly deserves the name of music."

Treating speech as a kind of assault and redefining freedom so that it requires its opposite are familiar tricks of the left that National Review usually is quick to mock. How are they any more respectable when deployed by a man who has elevated fuddy-duddyness to a political principle?

NEXT: Can We Just Punt These Jackasses Somewhere?

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  1. Are we to presume that Bork favors the regulation of music as well? Not just the lyrics, but music itself? The last sentence of that quote indicates that he does. “Syncopated beat, 4/4 time and a repetitive chord progression? To the stocks with you!”

  2. I get the impression that Bork sits on his porch and yells at the neighborhood kids about their rock and roll music and how they’d better stay out of his yard.

  3. yells at the neighborhood kids about their rock and roll music and how they’d better stay out of his yard.

    Who doesn’t?

  4. Well, when you rock the hot Amish beard like Bork, you don’t need porn.

  5. Oh right, it all makes sense to me now…

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

    We have always been at war with Eurasia, or is Oceana at war with Eurasia? No, we are Oceana and we have always been at war. No wait. Well anyways you got to admit, that Big Brother is one heck of a man.

  6. Bork is like Dennis the Menace’s Mr. Wilson with the difference being that beneath Bork’s gruff exterior lies a gruff interior.

  7. Bork’s analysis of the current state of our culture seems fairly accurate to me — at least the portions excerpted above — but his advice for a remedy makes me happy his nomination for SCOTUS was “Borked” so long ago. Yep, we get the culture we deserve. I can live with that. I just turn most of it off.

  8. He’s free to move to Antartica and remove himself from the brutalized culture of our era. He should simply Bork off.

  9. “Liberty in America can be enhanced by reinstating, legislatively, restraints upon the direction of our culture and morality,”

    Yeah, yeah. The world would be perfect if everybody believed and behaved exactly like me.

  10. Bork Bork

    Scary.

    And sad.

  11. CTD,
    How do you “rock the beard”?

    smacky probably also wants to know.

  12. people forced to live in an increasingly brutalized culture are, in a very real sense, not wholly free

    Translation: as Americans, we have the right to Never Be Offended. And government’s role is to make sure we aren’t.

    I am not at all surprised to find this in National Review; what DOES surprise me is their surprisingly enlightened anti-drug-war stance. Otherwise, their version of “conservatism” seems to boil down to “government must protect me from things I find offensive. Eeeek! There’s a gay couple looking to get married!”

  13. gaius marius is Robert Bork?

  14. Your question offends me, Jason. I am no longer totally free.

  15. You know, some people deserve to be Borked.

  16. And I am offended by your being offended, Jennifer.

    So now what?

  17. Ed beat me to it, but just to reiterate: aren’t you glad this guy wasn’t confirmed to SCOTUS?

  18. gaius marius is Robert Bork?

    I always pictured gaius marius as a William F. Buckley Jr. wanna-be, myself. I can imagine him, slouching in his chair in a wrinkled suit, stuttering and stammering his way through his arguments, throwing in a needless Latin phrase every other sentence, and tapping his huge teeth with his pen.

  19. Jason, Jennifer and Number 6: Off to Gitmo with you. (Number 6, you can keep your current name.)

  20. Sorry, but the enshrinement of pornography as a First Amendment freedom of speech right proves everything Bork says to be accurate. As for “just turn off” our sick society, that doesn’t work when those who do not turn it off end up creating a morally depraved society in which you must try to survive.

  21. One thing I remember from Bork’s original borkification is that he said he’d once been through “a libertarian phase.” Hillary Clinton did also. I’m beginning to think that, just as ex-Commies often make the smartest conservatives (Jerry Pournelle, Thomas Sowell), that ex-libertarians make the most dangerous statists.

    “Censorship as an enhancement of our liberty may seem paradoxical.”

    Ya think, Bob?

    “Yet it should be obvious, to all but the most dogmatic First Amendment absolutists…”

    “Dogmatic” is not the opposite of wishy-washy and unprincipled.

    “… that people forced to live in an increasingly brutalized culture…”

    Good thing I’m a dogmatic First Amendment absolutist, Bob, or I’d give you 40 lashes for misuse of the word “forced.”

    “… are, in a very real sense…”

    And another 40 lashes for using weasel-words. “In a very real sense” almost always means, “not in any real, literal sense at all.”

    “…not wholly free.”

    And another 40 lashes for more weasel-words: “not wholly.”

    Unless you can explain how people who are censored are “wholly free.” Otherwise, it’s no improvement, is it?

    “relations between the sexes are debased by pornography”

    I know of at least one instance where relations between the sexes were rather enlivened and even deepened by pornography.

    “large parts of television are unwatchable”

    Then don’t watch.

    “motion pictures rely upon sex, gore, and pyrotechnics for the edification of the target audience of 14-year-olds”

    Then don’t watch. And control your 14-year-old.

    “popular music hardly deserves the name of music.”

    So you’re going to do a Salman Rushdie on Eminem now?

    Pooey upon you.

  22. I met Bork at Ted Olson’s house during a Federalist Society event the summer of 2001 (a couple of months before the gracious hostess was killed on 9/11).

    Though the crowd in general rubbed me the wrong way, the scene of Bork, much creepier looking in real life Bork, holding court with about a dozen accolytes stands out in my memory. That scene and Borks shilling for Microsofts apponents in the anti-trust case generally lead my negative impression of Bork. (backed up, of course by is draconian ideas for controlling culture).

    Did I mention he was creepy?

  23. “Sorry, but the enshrinement…”

    Hi Jaunita. “Welcome” back.

    move along. and tell the group home monitor to shut off your internet and re adjust the chinstrap on your helmet. thanks, hon.

    Stevo: bravo. may a thousand labrador puppies welcome you home.

  24. Meh. National Review often publishes conflicting opinions. Legalizing drugs is about the only thing they agree with each other on. They like a lot of Bork’s opinions. It’s quite possible they solicited a piece from him, got this, and said, “dammit.”

  25. I think Bork is hitting upon a point that I’ve tried to make for months now – nobody really wants freedom. All forms of government could be said to restrict freedoms in some what or another, because “freedom” can be defined however you wish. Societies that grant people the freedom to own property without government interference are also societies that take away people’s “freedom” to take whatever they wish.

    Let’s face it; one man’s freedom is another man’s tyranny. That’s why I think we should epmhasize consensual, constitutional, and limited government, over free government.

    If everyone agrees to a framework by which laws are passed and government is given power, and the framework is followed, then the government will necessarily be small and conform to most ideas of what ‘freedom’ entails.

  26. If everyone agrees to a framework by which laws are passed and government is given power, and the framework is followed, then the government will necessarily be small and conform to most ideas of what ‘freedom’ entails.

    Our government is necessarily small then?

  27. Sorry, but the enshrinement of pornography as a First Amendment freedom of speech right proves everything Bork says to be accurate.

    It does??? Pray tell, how does constitutional protection of an activity prove anything other than said activity is constitutional? The constitutionality of erotica is entirely seperate to issue of its alleged cultural effects.

    Or am I just talking to a troll here?

  28. MH at December 5, 2005 04:43 PM

    Your comment deserves a response, and I’ll give one if I can stop laughing long enough.

  29. had to ask,

    “rock”=”sport”=”wear”.

    your friendly neighborhood slang goddess,

    smacky

  30. Bork Bork Bork!

    Gotta love that Swedish Chef!

  31. must try to survive

    Survive? Come on. Why is it that as people like Bork and Bennett shriek about how “depraved,” “sick,” and “brutalized” the culture becomes every year, the social ills they seem to believe are caused by this “decline” in the culture have been declining themselves?
    Crime levels are down. Teen pregnancy levels are down. Abortion levels are down. Etc.

    Stevo, good deconstruction of his ridiculous arguments.

  32. To Robert Bork —

    Shut your fucking face, uncle fucker. (Uncle fucker.)
    You’re a boner-biting bastard uncle fucker.
    You’re an uncle fucker, I must say.
    Well, you fucked your uncle yesterday!
    Uncle fucker, that’s U-N-C-L-E fuck you!
    Uncle fucker … Suck my ball say.
    Well, you fucked your uncle yesterday!
    Uncle fucker, that’s U-N-C-L-E fuck you!
    Uncle fucker … Suck my balls

  33. Smacky’s definition of “to rock” is correct. I, for instance, am rocking a rather dapper marino wool sweater today. I would rock a beard, but alas, I am not equipped to do so. Clean-shaven is better than scraggly-bearded.

  34. What really curdles my cheese, is the way virtue autocrats like Bork and Scalia refer to themselves as origionalists.

    Yup those pious founding fathers broke with the crown and ordained the Constitution and Bill of Rights so we would all have the right not to exercise our freedoms. And if anyone ever does, well that?s what those robed busybodies on the SCOTUS were put there for. As someone posted on another thread; There?s nothing wrong with this country? But we?ll fix that!

  35. I’m not sure the slang “to rock” applies when you’re talking about wool sweaters.

  36. Survive? Come on. Why is it that as people like Bork and Bennett shriek about how “depraved,” “sick,” and “brutalized” the culture becomes every year, the social ills they seem to believe are caused by this “decline” in the culture have been declining themselves?

    For the very same reason that leftist raise the spector of “mega-corporations ruling the world,” ala some cheap cyberpunk novel, whenever they want to justify statist control over the economy: Scare sells. It’s just a matter of scaring the right audience.

  37. Zach: it’s not like it’s all Cosby or anything, it’s just black. Were it Cosby or Argyle, then yeah, “to rock” would not apply.

  38. Meh. National Review often publishes conflicting opinions. Legalizing drugs is about the only thing they agree with each other on.

    bubba,
    What are you smoking? (sorry, it had to be said due to the context of the conversation) I’ve seen quite a bit of disagreement on the WoD in National Review. Granted, that they had that viewpoint in there isn’t surprising. It’s quite likely that’s a hat tip to ol’ WFB’s view on the WoD.

    I second dFAa’s song.

  39. I don’t support government controls on speech, but I still lament the state of culture in this country specifically movies and music. Censorship did force artists to be subtle and use their craft to put out a message rather than beating you over the head with vulgarity. There is more artistry in the work of someone like Cole Porter, many of whose songs are down right filthy when you get past the double entendre, than there is in today’s omnipresent vulgarity. The same is true in movies. After the initial golden age of 70s film where artists used their new found freedom to explore sex and violence in new ways, we are now left with a race to the bottom where explosions and gratuitous sex take the place of dialog and plot. Censorship at least forced filmakers and musicians to think and work to find sublte ways to explore themes. It also forced them to deal with adult themes in adult language rather than in the infantile simple ways most films do so now. In a choice between freedom and art, I will take freedom, but I am not sure total freedom is that compatable with great art and that is a shame.

  40. Bork goes on to complain that “relations between the sexes are debased by pornography”…

    I wonder if it would interest the originalist Bork to know that founding father Ben Franklin was a owner of the largest porn collection in the colonies? Let’s not forget this Yankee Doodle Dandy was pretty handy with the girls.

    Need I remind him of Tom Jefferson’s private life. too?

  41. I dunno Akira. I love those cheap cyberpunk novels, as they tend to have the opposite effect on me. A skyline that constantly changes because buildings are reorganizing themselves through nanotechnology? I’m in!

  42. John, if an artist makes something good because they were forced to, rather than because they wanted to, that says more about the artist than anything else.

  43. There is more artistry in the work of someone like Cole Porter, many of whose songs are down right filthy when you get past the double entendre, than there is in today’s omnipresent vulgarity

    There are always going to be good artists. The trick is not to forget that 90%+ of what comes out in any given year is dreck that no one will treasure decades later.

  44. I dunno Akira. I love those cheap cyberpunk novels, as they tend to have the opposite effect on me. A skyline that constantly changes because buildings are reorganizing themselves through nanotechnology? I’m in!

    Most of the cyberpunk stuff I read was before nanotech became a popular meme: Neuromancer and Hardwired mainly.

  45. Even if porn does ‘debase the relationships between the sexes,’ I’m trying to remember which amandment says the government is supposed uphold standards of romantic chivalry.

    You know what I think debases relationships between the sexes? The insistence that a woman can either have sex with a man or have the man ‘respect’ and ‘like’ her, but she can’t possibly have both unless she makes him first shell out the money for the Magic Wedding Ring.

    1. Tramp! (joking)

  46. “amandment” = “amendment,” of course.

  47. Zach,

    I just can’t get around the fact that no society in human history has had more freedom of aristic expression than this one, yet no society that I can think of has produced more garbage than this one. I wouldn’t want to live in Helenic Greece or Elizibethan England, societies which were more socially oppressive than anything we can imagine here in the US, but they could sure as hell could write better poetry and plays than we can.

  48. John,
    Don’t confuse entertainment with art. Besides, I think that there was far more sex, profanity, drug use, smoking etc. in 80’s movies than there is in our so-called coarsened culture. As far as the violence goes, it’s just that the technology of showing fake death has gotten better.

  49. but they could sure as hell could write better poetry and plays than we can.

    AMARYLLIS
    by Thomas Campion

    I care not for these ladies that must be wooed and prayed;
    Give me kind Amaryllis, the wanton country maid.
    Nature Art disdaineth; her beauty is her own.
    Her when we court and kiss, she cries: forsooth, let go!
    But when we come where comfort is, she never will say no.

    If I love Amaryllis, she gives me fruit and flowers;
    But if we love these ladies, we must give golden showers.
    Give them gold that sell love, give me the nut-brown lass,
    Who when we court and kiss, she cries: forsooth, let go!
    But when we come where comfort is, she never will say no.

    These ladies must have pillows and beds by strangers wrought.
    Give me a bower of willows, of moss and leaves unbought,
    And fresh Amaryllis with milk and honey fed,
    Who when we court and kiss, she cries: forsooth, let go!
    But when we come where comfort is, she never will say no.

    Translation: Hooray for slutty girls!

    Yes, in the old days pop culture dealt with loftier topics than today.

  50. Akira, Neuromancer is one of my favorite books. Did you skip the parts about all the fantastic drugs?

  51. I wouldn’t want to live in Helenic Greece or Elizibethan England, societies which were more socially oppressive than anything we can imagine here in the US, but they could sure as hell could write better poetry and plays than we can.

    Could they? Or was it that only the best material was saved, creating the impression that 100% of their creative output was genius.

  52. John, there has been and will always be trash. Trash is forgotten while quality is kept and admired. That’s why the stuff we kept from Greece and Elizabethan England is of a generally superior quality to the stuff that comes out now.

  53. Jennifer,

    No Jennifer, I never said they didn’t deal with the same subjects we do today they just did it better because they had to. You make my point for me. Which would you rather read, what you posted or some vulger lyric out of a pop song today. Its not about the subject its about the execution.

  54. Shit. David beat me to it.

  55. I have previously documented how pornography leads to safer sex, more considerate treatment of women by men, monogamous commitment and eventually marriage. (See “Comment by: Stevo Darkly at September 21, 2005 11:31 PM.”)

  56. Jennifer:

    Let’s not forget the “Song of Solomon.” I just love watching fundies try to twist the sexually explicit language of that section of the Bible into “it’s about Christ’s love for the church.”

  57. David,

    Granted I am sure there was a lot of crap back then too. I am just looking for our Iliad or Hamlet and not finding it.

  58. Akira, Neuromancer is one of my favorite books. Did you skip the parts about all the fantastic drugs?

    I must have. It’s been a while.

  59. John, Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon.

    (Of course, personal taste must come into consideration.)

  60. I never said they didn’t deal with the same subjects we do today they just did it better because they had to.

    Actually, a lot of what they wrote (and which made it down to us today five hundred years later) was, for its time, considered smutty. Like today–phrases like “I’m gonna fuck you, bitch” are considered very vulgar and obscene, but in a couple hundred years when words like “fuck” and “bitch” are obsolete and only historians and literature majors know how to use them correctly in a sentence, such phrases will be considered high art.

    “it’s about Christ’s love for the church.”

    Totally. I wanna suck the hot, white love right out of Christ, myself.

  61. Zach,

    I like that record too and think pop music in lot of ways is really underrated. I have a hard time saying that it rises to the level of Mozart or the classics. John Coltrane or Miles Davis, maybe.

  62. I am just looking for our Iliad or Hamlet and not finding it.

    Greatness is often recognized only in retrospect. Back in the day, Hamlet was a vulgar violent play that legally could only be performed in the same part of town where the brothels were, and the Iliad in its day was basically a comic-book superhero story.

  63. By the way, didn’t Queen Elizabeth loosen restrictions on the subject material of plays as one of the measures that resulted in the Elizabethan era? Or am I just making that up?

  64. Granted I am sure there was a lot of crap back then too. I am just looking for our Iliad or Hamlet and not finding it.

    I’m sure that if you went back to ancient Greece or Elizabethian England, you’d find more than a few moral scolds (such as yourself) who would complain about the sex and violence in Homer/Shakespere and how their contributions were “crap,” or worse, “destroying our culuture.”

  65. Jennifer,

    I know it was considered smutty and a lot of the best stuff was considered pulp at the time. It just seems to me that it was done with more artistry than the “fuck you bitch” of today.

  66. PS: Right now I’m weating black jeans and a maroon sweater, but I’m pretty sure I’m not “rocking” them.

    PPS: “Bork!

  67. Totally. I wanna suck the hot, white love right out of Christ, myself.

    Jennifer,

    After you get a mouthful of the Holy Spirit, you could be a televangelist.

  68. I just can’t get around the fact that no society in human history has had more freedom of aristic expression than this one, yet no society that I can think of has produced more garbage than this one.

    That’s the price of freedom of expression, isn’t it? Lots of expression. A good deal of it crap. More options is going to mean more garbage to sort through to find genuinely good stuff.
    But you can’t say there isn’t generally good stuff out there among the trash.
    All right, I’m a musician, so this is to be expected from me, but American music: Blues, bluegrass, country, R&B, jazz, rock’n’roll, hip hop, etc. I love all of it. And there’s plenty of bad stuff in all those genres. Still, this culture produced those forms of music, and I’m grateful.
    I do see what you’re saying about art being more subtle when there were boundaries that artists had to stick to. I thought about that while watching East Of Eden when Cal is on the ferris wheel with his brother’s girl. “Are you bad, Cal?” she asks as he’s squirming around next to her. The sexual tension is heavy as hell but I’d say a lot more affecting than how many writers/directors would handle a scene like that today.
    But that still is not a good argument for censorship.

  69. Wow, only our culture is depraved and decadent. Pornography doesn’t go back to when man hadn’t left Africa, yet. No sirree. Neither does sex. Or crappy entertainment. Or doing things just to offend other people (particular older people). It’s all brand spanking new, and it’s only this newest generation that dooms mankind forever and ever, amen.

    Bork and his ilk have a little too much in common with our Middle Eastern opposition, wouldn’t you say? I’m all for morals, ethics, and values myself, but I want people to act that way on their own, not through compulsion. For these religious extremists, I have one question: Since God could’ve compelled us to have behaved a certain way but instead chose to let us figure it out for ourselves, why do these people think they need to take on the compulsion role? Isn’t that like hubris or something?

    Speaking of pornography, I noticed a naked woman soaking in a vat of wine on the New York Times‘ web site. I can’t decide if that’s pathetic or a step in the right direction for the Times. I also can’t figure out if that’s a picture of the reporter, which raises an entirely new set of questions πŸ™‚

    1. Not a vat of wine. That might sting a little!

  70. Greatness is often recognized only in retrospect. Back in the day, Hamlet was a vulgar violent play that legally could only be performed in the same part of town where the brothels were, and the Iliad in its day was basically a comic-book superhero story.

    Jennifer,

    That is true, but the reverse is true too. Some eras really do suck. I am quite sure that the Romans of the fifth and sixth centuries thought what they were doing was as good as Ovid or Virgil, when we know now that it was all crap and Roman culture was on the skids. Maybe today is one of those eras.

  71. Even Shakespeare, in Hamlet, “spoke of country matters.” He made a pun on a word that starts with “C” that even most rappers don’t use.

    PS: I think our Illiad was Firefly.

  72. Oh, and Timothy, argyle, like all things Scottish, FRIGGIN’ RULES!

  73. Dylan,

    I am not arueing for censorship, just lamenting the lack of scenes like the one you describe in today’s movies. Another good example is how much sexier the original Postman Always Rings Twice is compared to the 70s remake which showed you all of the sex.

  74. I know it was considered smutty and a lot of the best stuff was considered pulp at the time. It just seems to me that it was done with more artistry than the “fuck you bitch” of today.

    True story: a few months ago, purely for business purposes, my boss and I had to watch the video for a song called “Candyshop” by 50 Cent. My (old Boomer) boss found it very irritating and finally snapped, “Why don’t they just say ‘Let’s fuck?'” And I stopped laughing long enough to say, “Because of Artistry.”

    It’s a pretty vulgar song, but just you wait and see how “artistic” it becomes as soon as our language changes enough that the average person won’t fully understand this (just as the average person nowadays doesn’t fully understand just what Shakespeare is saying in some of his smuttier pieces):

    [Intro: 50 Cent]
    Yeah…
    Uh huh
    So seductive

    [Chorus: 50 Cent & Olivia]
    [50 Cent]
    I’ll take you to the candy shop
    I’ll let you lick the lollypop
    Go ‘head girl, don’t you stop
    Keep going ’til you hit the spot (woah)
    [Olivia]
    I’ll take you to the candy shop
    Boy one taste of what I got
    I’ll have you spending all you got
    Keep going ’til you hit the spot (woah)

    [Verse 1: 50 Cent]
    You can have it your way, how do you want it
    You gon’ back that thing up or should i push up on it
    Temperature rising, okay lets go to the next level
    Dance floor jam packed, hot as a teakettle
    I’ll break it down for you now, baby it’s simple
    If you be a nympho, I’ll be a nympho
    In the hotel or in the back of the rental
    On the beach or in the park, it’s whatever you into
    Got the magic stick, I’m the love doctor
    Have your friends teasin you ’bout how sprung I gotcha
    Wanna show me how you work it baby, no problem
    Get on top then get to bouncing round like a low rider
    I’m a seasons vet when it come to this shit
    After you work up a sweat you can play with the stick
    I’m tryin to explain baby the best way I can
    I melt in your mouth girl, not in your hands (ha ha)

    [Chorus]

    [Bridge: 50 Cent & Olivia]
    Girl what we do (what we do)
    And where we do (and where we do)
    The things we do (things we do)
    Are just between me and you (oh yeah)

    [Verse 2: 50 Cent]
    Give it to me baby, nice and slow
    Climb on top, ride like you in the rodeo
    You ain’t never heard a sound like this before
    Cause I ain’t never put it down like this
    Soon as I come through the door she get to pullin on my zipper
    It’s like it’s a race who can get undressed quicker
    Isn’t it ironic how erotic it is to watch em in thongs
    Had me thinking ’bout that ass after I’m gone
    I touch the right spot at the right time
    Lights on or lights off, she like it from behind
    So seductive, you should see the way she wind
    Her hips in slow-mo on the floor when we grind
    As Long as she ain’t stoppin, homie I aint stoppin
    Drippin wet with sweat man its on and popping
    All my champagne campaign, bottle after bottle its on
    And we gon’ sip til every bubble in every bottle is gone

    [Chorus 2x]

  75. Jennifer all I can say is yuck. My guess is 100 years from now, no one ourside of a few cultural historians will know or care who 50 Cent. Maybe I am wrong, only time will tell.

  76. John,
    Is the language only more subtle because our language has evolved. I’m sure if Jennifer translated some old lit, it would be filthy to. Take for example this poem by Keats:

    Give me woman, wine and snuff
    Until I cry out “hold, enough!”
    You may do so sans objection
    Till the day of resurrection;
    For bless my beard, they aye shall be
    My beloved Trinity.

    Seriously, replace snuff with chron(ic), wine with Tanquaray and woman with bitches and it’s a Snoop Dogg lyric.

  77. Sorry, that was me, not Jennifer.

  78. “they just did it better”

    bullshit. that’s subjective.

    there is a lot of baudy crap from back then, too.

    from your comments about prefering that you think the crudeness was “written better”, i’d note that you’re not well read in older works.

    probably because the lists were censored for your own good.

    this thinly veiled pro censorship argument is just as fucking frightening as that miserable liberal above. you both have shown yourselves for the controlling scum that you are.

  79. John, as much as all these old “masterpieces” are beautiful and great, I think I am the only uncultured bastard who says “Who cares?” Beethoven, Homer, Shakespeare, I studied all of it and once pretended to like it just to be elite, but, guy, that stuff is just booooorrrrring!

    Does anyone agree with me, or I am just lacking a culture gene and a finishing school degree?

  80. Girl what we do (what we do)/And where we do (and where we do)/The things we do (things we do)/
    Are just between me and you (oh yeah)

    That’s nice and moral, right? Monogamy and such? Better than having the things we do videotaped and broadcast on the Internet. Maybe coarse people like Paris Hilton need to pay more attention to the likes of 50 Cent.

  81. And can I ask, why is John the only person that has problems with what name comes up when he posts? Or is Jennifer just arguing with herself?

  82. The problem is, if it can be called a problem, is that we are the most culturally prolific culture ever. The amount of material that gets pumped out is truly immense. I pity the cultural historians of future years. And that’s the thing. The high art that every longs for is a product of socities where the cultural output was relativly low— because only the best artists could get paid for their art, and what art they did was designed to impress the sophisticates (i.e. rich aristocrats, who had nothing better to do than be art snobs) No prole culture need apply, thank you very much.

    So my hyopthesis is that as the channels of information widen, and a culture gets richer (and so everyone can afford to pay for entertainment/art) its not suprise that sensitive souls find the culture crude, because the crude people can actually get entertainment that they want. It’s the inevitable price of wealth and freedom. Not to mention actually living in the culture, before time washes away the shite. The other side of the coin is that the sophisticates, driven crazy by the fact that they can’t control the culture anymore, start creating all sorts of art that only people who are very invested in being sophisticated can force themselves to like (or at least pretend they like).

  83. I never got the sonnets but love the plays. As far music goes, a lot of great music is just hard to listen to and takes a while to appreciate because there is so much there. Pop music is easy because it has a hook and a great tune if its done well. Other more complex forms a music are not that easy and you have to pay attention to appreciate it. I never got jazz for years until finally I got old enough and had the patience to listen to it and understand what was going on and it hit me how brilliant it was. Same is true of books. It takes a lot more effort to read the Brothers’ Karamozov than the Davinci Code but the its a hell of a lot more satisfying when you get done.

  84. Quickie example of smut and sleaze in Shakespeare, this from Romeo and Juliet (by the way, Mercutio’s speeches were all basically dick jokes–read them carefully):

    A little later as the Nurse is reminiscing about Juliet, she tells a story about the day before Juliet was weaned. Juliet had fallen and bruised her forehead, and the Nurse’s husband had picked her up and made a joke which three-year-old Juliet made even better:

    “Yea,” quoth he, “dost thou fall upon thy face?
    Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;
    Wilt thou not, Jule?” and, by my holidame,
    The pretty wretch left crying and said “Ay.”
    To see, now, how a jest shall come about!
    I warrant, an I should live a thousand years,
    I never should forget it: “Wilt thou not, Jule?” quoth he;
    And, pretty fool, it stinted and said “Ay.” (1.3.41-48)

    A woman would “fall backward” to have sex, but of course little Juliet doesn’t know that, so when she says “Ay” it’s hilarious in a truth-out-of-the-mouths-of-babes kind of way. The Nurse thinks the story is so funny she tells it twice, laughing and probably imitating the cute, innocent way the child said “Ay.” Juliet is present (and blushing?) as this story is being told, and then her mother urges her to marry Paris.

  85. JCoke,

    There is a lot of truth to what you are saying. I think that high culture and low culture have to constantly interface for the good of both of them. High culture needs folk culture as a resource to regenerate itself and keep it grounded and accessible. For example, many of the great classical pieces of music were based on folk songs. High culture takes low or folk culture and raises it to another level. Folk culture takes high culture and uses it to have something to aspire to and rise above its vulgar tendencies. In the end, they both help each other. What I would hate to see happen is for that relationship to end and wind up with high culture that is completely esoteric and unapproachable and low culture that is completely vulgar. My fear is that that is the state we are approaching now.

  86. “As for “just turn off” our sick society, that doesn’t work when those who do not turn it off end up creating a morally depraved society in which you must try to survive.”

    Seems to have worked for the Mormons and that whole “Utah” thing…

  87. John, I’m no fan of 98% of the artistic output today, either, but I think you’re seriously underestimating the quality of western culture. If you want to say that movies in the Aughts are worse than in the Seventies, well, okay, but from the historical perspective that you’re taking, we probably should be comparing the “Best of the Twentieth Century” with the “Best of the Fourteenth” or the “Best of the Fourth, B.C.”, not wringing our hands about the last ten years. We’ve produced some very great works in the modern era (I won’t start any debates by naming names at this point), works that will surely last centuries. I’m sure you can think of a couple yourself that you think are worthy if you try.

    I do tend to agree that our crap output is at a historical high, but I think that’s because we have an order of magnitude more people publishing and producing new works. The point has already been made than the cream is always a small percentage of the overall works of any era (look at the Billboard charts from the 60s, for example), and I think the sheer number of works produced today makes things seem even worse now. Not to mention that we’re going through a totally unique level of change–technologically, culturally, etc.–which most assuredly screws up our artistic production. We’re very confused, in other words, and have no great themes to focus on.

    As a side note, I suppose I might agree that we’ve been sucking at painting and philosophy for a prolonged period, but that probably reflects my classical/Enlightenment biases as much as any real flaws in what’s going on today.

  88. Jennifer, love those 50 Cent lyrics. Over Thanksgiving, while visiting my father, we went to lunch and picked up a friend of his in an assisted-living facility. A staff member was getting ready to hold a sing-a-long in the lobby. She said the seniors sing their favorite tunes from from ’40s and ’50 karaoke style. My wife and I mused about what those tunes would be like in 50 years, yo-yo-yo.

  89. Mo:

    as a medieval lit major, i can assure you that the language contained in many works was VULGAR!

    needs very little translation.

    DH Lawrence, in general (but 20th cent)

    Cantebury Tales.

    Tom Jones.

    Arabella Fermor’s work.

    the decameron is sure clean.

  90. My favorite example of old school hard core entertainment will always be Macbeth. I’m sure I’m missing some subtleties that an English major could point out, but even the stuff that I’ve picked up on is pretty bad:

    -Somebody’s getting killed in every other scene
    -These goth chicks are going around, screwing with people’s heads
    -Lady Macbeth talks about dashing a baby’s head against a wall
    -For no particular reason, a doorman feels compelled to deliver a long speech about erectile dysfunction and alcohol.

    Translated into modern language, that doorman’s speech would probably be in a Tarantino movie:

    Doorman: Man, you know what it’s like when you drink too much, and you’re all horny but your dick won’t get up.

    Other guy: Man, what the hell’s your problem?

    Doorman: Dude, don’t tell me it’s never happened to you?

    Other guy: Hell yeah it’s happened to me but that don’t mean I go around talking about it.

    Doorman: I’m too drunk to care right now. I remember when I was with this one bitch, and I’m all ready to go, and she’s all bent over asking for it, and then I’m like damn! All that gin made me soft.

    Other guy: Dude, that’s fucked up.

    John’s great-grandchildren will think that this is profound dialogue.

  91. Pro Liberate,

    You bring up a good point. Music and movies are easy ones and perhaps this really is a golden age of those. I also agree that there have been some great novels written in my lifetime. I would take A River Runs Through It or The Unbearable Lightness of Being over 99% of all the novels ever written. Philosophy and painting are real issues. I am sorry but I am not taking Warhol over Vermeer and I don’t think that there has been a significant work of philosophy since Being and Time or a significant work of political thought since Hayek. I am like you, I am seriously biased.

  92. Some eras really do suck. I am quite sure that the Romans of the fifth and sixth centuries thought what they were doing was as good as Ovid or Virgil, when we know now that it was all crap and Roman culture was on the skids. Maybe today is one of those eras.

    Doesn’t that imply that, even if you’re right, that things can turn around eventually? I know you say over and over again that you’re not for censorship, but if all you’re saying is that we’re in a bad phase right now, so what? I think the scare factor being used by the Borks of the world is the implication (or maybe they say it outright) that we’ve entered a new era because of our unprecedented freedom and that in lieu of a reinstitution of some kind of social control (not everyone of this mindset so overtly backs government censorship per se), the downward direction of our culture is absolute and irreversable. Where do you stand on that, John? And again, if a permanent downward spiral is not what you foresee and this is just a phase, what, besides getting some grouchy harumphing off your chest, is your point?

  93. As a side note, I suppose I might agree that we’ve been sucking at painting and philosophy for a prolonged period, but that probably reflects my classical/Enlightenment biases as much as any real flaws in what’s going on today.

    I won’t speculate on the decline of philosophy, but as for painting, maybe painting has declined for the same reason carving pictures into stone with chisels has declined: it is no longer the only method by which one can create a picture.

    Is it surprising that there should be less portrait-painters in an age of high-quality color photography? And motion-picture technology, no less? I wonder if the past masters would have spent their talents on paint, if you brought them into the modern era, or if they would make use of some of our amazing new stuff.

    If you use computer graphics rather than oils to create the same picture, is one inherently less “arty” than the other? Is it the medium which determines whether or not something is art? I’s like the people who insist that “music” can only be played on instruments which existed a century ago; anything played on something electric (like keyboards or a guitar) cannot qualify.

  94. Fyodor,

    You are right, things can get better. If I knew how they could, I would be a great artists and start a revival. Since I am not, I am not sure how they will.

  95. “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”
    — Cicero (106-43 BCE)

  96. There’s lots of great new literature being presented all the time. A Baghdad magazine, with some US funding, is presenting a serialized novel by some new author called Dickens. They insist that it’s original, never before published stuff.

    They also had some really clever writing about how Iraqi soldiers fight for freedom where ever there’s trouble.

    Those guys are totally original and innovative! Good thing we established a liberal beacon, because the output of new ideas is already blooming!

  97. Jennifer,

    You might have a point if no one was paining or few were painting anymore. But we have lots of painters, more probably than any other time in history, yet what they produce doesn’t seem very good.

  98. I should add that I suspect Bork pretty much agrees with me, but thinks that controlling the culture according to the tastes of the elite is a good thing. Since he is a part of the elite, for him, at least, it would be an improvement.

  99. John, that’s because you’re comparing most of the stuff painted in the last couple decades with the very best painting of the last several thousand years.

    You know those awesome, stirring cave paintings that we see? Those are the ones that didn’t get erased. The crap, however, was erased by cave-women who were like “Put down that paint and carve out a shelf in the cave wall! I need more storage space.” And he’s like “But, honey, this is art.” And she’s like “It’s crap. We’re getting rid of it so I can have a shelf.” And he’s like “Yes, dear.”

  100. I don’t think that there has been a significant work of philosophy since Being and Time

    So, in other words, there haven’t been any revolutionary philosophers since 1976. What? Do you want Plato to be reborn every twenty years?

  101. If people like Bork are complaining about the lack of censorship, you know that at least somebody is doing something right.

  102. I never got the sonnets but love the plays

    Then you either don’t understand what you are reading, or you have a taste for naughty, vulgar and even kinky humor. But I consider the latter a desirable trait in a person, so that’s not meant as an insult.

    But we have lots of painters, more probably than any other time in history, yet what they produce doesn’t seem very good.

    Have you ever noticed that old paintings of the Virgin Mary always showed her dressed in blue? That wasn’t because the Bible said she wore blue a lot; it was because at the time, the only known way to make blue paint was to take a certian blue gemstone and crush it into powder. If you have an expensive paint that is literally pulverized gemstone, you’re only going to use it for the best of occasions.

    Yeah, paint was THAT rare and THAT expensive back then. So the only people who could ever paint were either the ones who were already rich, or the few who could convince a rich person to sponsor them. Nowadays, though, anybody can afford to buy paints iin a full array of colors. Art supplies are actually often used as children’s toys. Anybody can afford to try painting if they wish. And you think this is bad?

  103. You should see the crappy pictures my friend’s three-year-old daughter produces. You NEVER saw paintings that hideous during the Renaissance.

  104. MarkP,

    I wanna address what you said way back there, even if it’s long been forgotten.

    Have you ever heard the phrase, your freedom stops at the tip of my nose? In a sense, what you say is accurate. But it’s ignoring one big factor, that violating someone else’s freedom is a forfeiture of your own. The libertarian’s view of liberty is that such a case, i.e., the case of violating someone else’s freedom (in a tangible way) is the only justification for someone’s freedom taken away. This is taken for granted in our discussions of liberty, and in a sense, perhaps everyone’s. Perhaps what we are really discussing (and what we are disagreeing about with statists) is where the tip of my nose is. Bork is apparently trying to claim that he has a “right” to control his culture. Some discussion here is centered over a certain empathy with his sentiment. We’d all like to live in the world we’d like to live in. But where’s that tip of my nose? Bork ignores that all the horrible Hollywood movies and vulgar rap music doesn not harm one hair on his head or one iota of his possessions. At the same time, he ignores that to get the world he wants, others who have not harmed anyone else’s person or property would be punished for merely doing things that others find offensive, or (to be as magniminous as possible to a view I find abhorent) nonconducive to the world they want to live in.

    So while it’s true that all forms of political and social organization will have their winners and losers, not all are equally conducive to what we mean by liberty or freedom.

  105. “You should see the crappy pictures my friend’s three-year-old daughter produces. You NEVER saw paintings that hideous during the Renaissance.”

    I Am Better Than Your Kids

  106. You are right, things can get better. If I knew how they could, I would be a great artists and start a revival. Since I am not, I am not sure how they will.

    Patience, m’boy!! Since you’re talking about trends that last centuries, let go and let it be! The answer will come long after your death.

    Again, even though you say you don’t favor censorship, I think you’re expressing sentiments that feed censorship and statism in general. Problems come, probems go, the human story is just a big ebb and flow, would-be statists should suck it up and learn to let go, things are never perfect, but we seem to get by, wouldn’tcha know…

  107. People who complain about violence in television have obviously forgotten that public executions were once common entertainment for thriving and productive societies. We’re a culture of simpering, milktoast pacifists now. Don’t even see the good, harmless fun in going out on a Saturday and watching a dozen 12 year old vagabonds strung up. My British ancestors got a great kick out of it 350 years ago, and they were a society heading towards its peak, not to decay.

    It wouldn’t hurt for people who complain about rap music to take a historical perspective that extends beyond their own lifetimes.

  108. Maybe it’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. To argue that restricting freedom makes us more free is just stupid. To argue it just because he doesn’t happen to like popular entertainment is offensive.

    Personally, I agree with much of his assessment of movies and television. So I just don’t watch it.

  109. JULES: ‘Sooth! I shall travel to fair Europa, it’s soil to tread! Upon my very soul, I shall!

    VINCENT: It’s soil upon thy very sole, indeed! Thou would savor it most among all mortal men! …But of all that Continent’s fair wonders, doest thou know what causeth me greatest laughter?

    JULES: Nay, gentle Vincent. What sights upon the Continent doest drive thee to incontinence?

    VINCENT: ‘Tis not the mightiest, but the merest things. Much there verily abides, the very same as in our homeliest hearth — yet within the smallest crannies, the greatest differences be.

    JULES: What might be one of these great small wonders? Prithee tell!

    VINCENT: In fair Amsterdam, good coz, thou might purchase the fairest ale — not in a public house, but in the very theatre! Nor ’tis a mere thimble-cup, but a goodly flagon!

    JULES: Speak thou truly?

    VINCENT: ‘Strooth! The wonders endeth not there. In gay Parree, thou might purchase ale at the rudest MacDonald’s meat-house!

    JULES: Zounds, at such a meat-house would’st I fain meet!

    VINCENT: Doest thou know how the Parisians call a Quarter-Pounder With Cheese?

    JULES: What trick is this? Doest they call it not a Quarter-Pounder With Cheese?

    VINCENT: Nay, simple knave! With their foreign measures, they wouldst not know a Quarter-Pounder from a Carronade!

    JULES: So thou sayest. What call it they in Parree then?

    VINCENT: They grant it a kingly title indeed — a Royale Crowned With Cheese!

    JULES: A Royale Crowned With Cheese! What call they a Big Mac, then?

    VINCENT: That article be the very same, yet with a different article be: Le Big Mac!

    JULES: (clapping his hands with delight) What call they a Whopper, then, good Vincent?

    VINCENT: I know not, for I entered not the Burgherhouse of the King… But doest thou know what, down in the Netherlands, they put upon their pommes-frittes in homely cat-sup’s stead?

    JULES: I am confounded. Prithee.

    VINCENT: Mayonnaise.

    JULES: Zounds!

    VINCENT: With mine own eyes I have seen it! Nor do I speak of a mere side-dollop, coz — they fair drown their victuals in vasty waves of that vile condiment!

    JULES: I am undone!

  110. Hee, Steve. Good work!

    AML: And bear-baiting, cockfights, dog fights…

    John, clear your AutoComplete for web forms.

    This is my favorite smutty poem (Keats):

    O blush not so! O blush not so!
    Or I shall think you knowing;
    And if you smile the blushing while,
    Then maidenheads are going.

    There’s a blush for won’t, and a blush for shan’t,
    And a blush for having done it:
    There’s a blush for thought, and a blush for naught,
    And a blush for just begun it.

    O sigh not so! O sigh not so!
    For it sounds of Eve’s sweet pippin;
    By these loosen’d lips you have tasted the pips
    And fought in an amorous nipping.

    Will you play once more at nice-cut-core,
    For it only will last our youth out,
    And we have the prime of the kissing time,
    We have not one sweet tooth out.

    There’s a sigh for yes, and a sigh for no,
    And a sigh for I can’t bear it!
    O what can be done, shall we stay or run?
    O cut the sweet apple and share it!

  111. Zounds, Stevo, you could give Tom Stoppard a run for his money.

  112. AML,

    We’re a culture of simpering, milktoast pacifists now.

    Right on!! That’s a very good point, and I second it.

    However, in case you weren’t being silly, and just for your own edification, it’s “milquetoast.” Though actually, the word comes from a comic strip character, whom I think was named for the homonym you used, so of course you’re ultimately and in an abstract way quite right, but still technically, you’re wrong! πŸ™‚

  113. RE: Painting, past and present

    Next time you’re at the bookstore, check out some of the magazines aimed at the graphic designer/illustrator set like “Print” or “How”.

    There are works being created today as technically great and beautiful as anything ever put to canvas. What is different is today’s patron. It was the church, or the king, now it the corporate advertiser. So, instead of a fresco on a church ceiling, it’s a full page ad.

  114. Maybe the problem today is not the quality of artist, but the quality of the patron.

    People will work as hard as they need to satisfy those who are putting food in their mouths.

    If Michelangelo could, he probably would’ve worked half as much and spent the rest of his time getting stoned and playing Xbox.

  115. poco,
    What does it mean, “nippin’ the pips”?

    smacky probably already knows.

  116. Stevo, I do say, tis fair good satire thou dost.

  117. Maybe the problem today is not the quality of artist, but the quality of the patron.

    I blame the hippies.

  118. there’s a band from somewhere in S. Illinois called the Woodbox Gang, or some such, I saw once at a bar…they had one memorable chorus:

    “The Jews killed Jesus
    and Hitler killed the Jews
    Peace and love killed the Fascists
    and Hippies killed the Blues”

  119. Yes, yes. Milquetoast. I knew that. It’s been one of those days.

    Stevo, I’m going to have to save that one.

  120. I don’t know if you guys are being fair. Remember that video she got naked in?

    Wait, that Bjork.

  121. I thank thee for the inspiration, gentle thoreau.

  122. I’m guessing “pips” = Brit Engl for seeds. (Also rapid dial tones, but…) And I read in a Penguin Keats anthol that it was supposed to be “loosened hips”. “Amorous nipping” I’m not exactly sure about, but it sounds Tom Jones-y.

    Stevo, you should send that in to McSweeney’s.

    Is drug legalization NR house policy bc of Buckley?

  123. Jennifer, I actually deleted another block of text (I’ve been getting a little wordy lately) on how the real talent that might have gone into painting now dabbles in digital art and photography. And film, of course. Still, you made a great point, and I think to be fair to the people who are still painting, it’s tough to compete with computer-assisted art.

    Looking at this from another perspective, I think painting does best with big themes, which is one reason why the Renaissance artists have stayed so popular. They were great, too, because of their humanist themes. Maybe a culture that seeks the noble in man rather than turning its nose up at our lower qualities has an advantage when it comes to producing that kind of art.

  124. Oh dear Christ, he’s serious, isn’t he?

  125. John,

    If you’re interested in modern painting that’s technically impressive as well as incredibly beautiful, go to your local comics shop and ask to look at books by:

    David Mack
    Bill Sienkiewicz
    Dave McKean
    Kent Williams
    Jon J Muth

    Do Andrew Wyeth and Norman Rockwell count as modern? I don’t know, but I think they’re pretty fucking great.

  126. Bork wouldn’t like Wyeth, though, since he drew those nekkid lady pictures.

  127. Les,
    The problem is that Norman Rockwell lived in the brutal, repressive state of commie America and didn’t have any of the freedoms we in democratic America have.

  128. Look at the geologic clock man!

    BTW – I just paid $150 for Queen tickets – without Freddy!!!!

    They are now a classic, in ’74 in think they were just a bunch of vulgar fags.

  129. The problem is that Norman Rockwell lived in the brutal, repressive state of commie America and didn’t have any of the freedoms we in democratic America have.

    LOL! How far we’ve come!

  130. I used to be with it. But what I was with isn’t it any more. And what’s it now is strange and terrifying to me.

  131. Well, since NR has an article entitled “How to Increase Liberty in America” and it has Jacob in it, I’ll actually buy an issue, that one at least. It’s been awhile.

  132. National Review: Oh, what a terrible tragedy that this brilliant man wasn’t made a Supreme court justice!

    Bork: We should execute people at random and ban everything I don’t like.

    National Review: Isn’t he cute folks! Those fucking liberals, how dare they keep this great man from deciding the law of the land!

  133. I’m sure that if you went back to ancient Greece or Elizabethian England, you’d find more than a few moral scolds (such as yourself) who would complain about the sex and violence in Homer/Shakespere and how their contributions were “crap,” or worse, “destroying our culuture.”

    *coff*Plato*coffcoff*

    Stevo-Nice Fisking of Bork.

    Sometimes I wish someone would make my name into an adjective. Then I remember what happened to Santorum and I reconsider.

  134. I find arguments like Bork’s highly ironic, and not just for the fact that it amounts to censorship = freedom.

    The most caustic, corrosive force acting on our society today is the general belief in the use of aggressive force to accomplish objectives. Need to help out your poor neighbor? Rob your other neighbor and give the money to neighbor #1! Afraid that your neighbor might shoot you? Rob your neighbor of his gun, and if he resists, beat him up or kill him. If his family gets hurt in the process – well, its just collateral damage. Want to protect your neighbor’s family from his drug addiction – put him in jail for 10 years, ensuring that they live a life of poverty. Then see example #1 for how to fix that.

    Now you have Bork – it’s okay to use physical aggression on a person, impoverish his family, impose your will on others by force, and risk all sorts of collateral damage, just to avoid the possibility of being offended by something you don’t have to see in the first place.

    Yep, the cultural values espoused by Bork certainly are high ones that provide for a strong society…

  135. “I can imagine him, slouching in his chair in a wrinkled suit, stuttering and stammering his way through his arguments, throwing in a needless Latin phrase every other sentence, and tapping his huge teeth with his pen.”

    Akira, this is the most priceless description of WFB’s pompous self I have heard in a while! Thanks for making my day and putting how I have always seen this guy in the perfect words! Don’t forget his patrician accent that he works so hard on…

  136. So, when the same people who complain about what happened to Bork insist that they only want “judges who will adhere to the Constitution”, pardon me if I get skeptical. I know that those words are music to our ears, but they aren’t using those words the same way that we are. It’s nothing but a siren song when they sing it.

  137. Stevo,

    That was fricking hilarious ! How about an elizabethan version of “Scarface” ?

  138. “If you’re interested in modern painting that’s technically impressive as well as incredibly beautiful, go to your local comics shop and ask to look at books by:”

    What, no love for Alex Ross?

  139. Scott,
    I suppose you have heard Return Of The Champions?
    It’s not too late to pawn those tickets.

  140. If we’re talking classical vs. modern culture, shouldn’t we be lumping everything from the past hundred or two hundred years into one big stew? It’s not fair to pit “the 1980s” against the whole of “classical Greece.” I’m sure any single decade from any single glorious past era would prove just as dismal as the current one, full of awful lute players singing lewd songs about fawns.

    And I’d say that for the past hundred/two hundred years or so, in both scientific and artistic terms, we’ve done relatively well despite the continued presence of dreadful television shows and the rockety roll and the hippity hop music.

    And of course we’re going to produce more garbage. We have more people and easier means of production. If classical Greeks or Pax Romana Romans had blogs, there’d be just as much lowbrow garbage, and just as many blogs written from the perspective of someone’s pet cat, Mr. Whiskers J. McCuddlesnuggly (I’m pretty sure he belonged to Hadrian).

  141. Stevo – that fuckin’ rocked!

  142. So, when the same people who complain about what happened to Bork insist that they only want “judges who will adhere to the Constitution”, pardon me if I get skeptical. I know that those words are music to our ears, but they aren’t using those words the same way that we are. It’s nothing but a siren song when they sing it.

    It’s always a siren song. Anyone who’d really want to adhere to the Constitution would never be nominated.

  143. Whoa, like, Stevo, dude, have you ever, like, considered writing for a living? πŸ™‚

    ‘Coz, like, you totally should. πŸ™‚

  144. If you’re looking for high culture at the local googolplex, then you’re bound to be disappointed.

  145. I am going to stick up for Bork just a tiny bit and say that he’s actually pretty good when he sticks to writing about the philosophy of law and what happens when “law” means whatever the people in power want it to mean. Unfortunately, the other half of his writing seems devoted to proving the truth of the first half, since he goes off the rails whenever he starts talking about popular culture.

  146. Thanks, guys, for your positive comments!

  147. Stevo, I’d like to pile my praise upon your heap of positive comments. That was cool.

  148. PS: Right now I’m weating black jeans and a maroon sweater, but I’m pretty sure I’m not “rocking” them.

    Stevo, you rock my world! uh, forsooth.

  149. O sigh not so! O sigh not so!
    For it sounds of Eve’s sweet pippin;
    By these loosen’d lips you have tasted the pips
    And fought in an amorous nipping.

    had to ask,

    As poco suggested, I bet pips = seeds.
    And if I were less virtuous, I might think that this passage is a fairly explicit metaphor for intercourse. And I think “lips” is probably supposed to read “lips” (as it is), albeit not the lips you might think of at first blush. (Oops! A blushing pun. How embarassing.)

    (pushes nerd glasses up nose)

    verily,

    smacky the slang goddess of the bork thread

  150. It says much about the decline of Western culture that “pop” music used to be Viennese waltzes, then swing, then rock ‘n’ roll, then, finally, at the absolute bottom of the barrel, rap and hip-hop. I can’t imagine anything worse, but I’m sure it’s just over the horizon. Maybe naked savages beating two bones together. Can’t wait for the video.

  151. This is my favorite thread of all time. Time for some huggin’. C’mere, you — you know who you are.

  152. I have to say I appreciate Bork’s views. They lead me to flip through a collection of H. L. Mencken quotes that I greatly enjoy. They become fresh with renewed prescience supplied Mr. Bork.

    “Immorality: The morality of those who are having a better time”

  153. “PS: I think our Illiad was Firefly.”

    And Fox cancelled it. They probably saved us from seeing, somewhere down the line, the bad final season or two where Joss Whedon got distracted by some shiny new project.

    I’m too old to really love hip-hop, but I have a son who listens to it. If Eminem’s album of last fall didn’t make chills run up and down your spine, you might as well admit that you are not listening. I mean, listening.

  154. Speaking of cultural assault, what about all the advertising of junk food targetting children? As George Will recently pointed out. Coca Cola has higher profits than Exxon.

    And according to a report, by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) at the National Academies of Science, food makers continue to market products high in fat and sugar and low in nutrients to children, aiding a growing trend in poor nutrition and childhood obesity. The marketing efforts have grown more sophisticated, crossing over into virtually every entertainment venue.

    Your magistrate:

    Should a vendor be allowed to shout “Coke Here” in a crowded stadium?

  155. Jeez, y’all sound like you’re about to come out in defense of Britney Spears, Jewel, Paula Abdul, and Debbie Gibson.

    Sure, they’re just puppets, but haven’t we all long since agreed that the music publishing executives who ginned them up and their like should all be lined up against a wall and shot?

    Furthermore, *sure* it felt weird to have Bork arguing against Microsoft, but he was right. MS execs need to be lined up against the same wall.

    If we’re going to revile Bork, it should be for good reasons, such as toadying for Nixon.

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