Unprotected, Undismayed

“Let a fellow sing o’ the little things he cares about,    
If a fellow fights for the little things he cares about
With the weight of a single blow!”
Rudyard Kipling, “The Native Born” (1894)

Last night an old friend expressed a wish that is, I daresay, familiar to many who have staggered into the oasis of the Orthosphere, parched by the desert and panting for refreshment.  He said that he wished there was someone on his side.  My friend is, like me, a white, Christian, cishet male, without fortune, connections, or compromising tapes of powerful individuals.  In other words, he is a man marked by the stigma of that dwindling class of Americans who are not, today, a protected species.  Anyone is at perfect liberty to mock him and “the little things he cares about,” and if their mockery is sufficiently witty, they may well find themselves employed by the New York Times.

As I wrote in this place a couple of years ago,

“To learn who the truly marginal nobodies are, simply ask who you are allowed to mock, ridicule and call rude names in polite society.  If you can make a group the butt of a joke, or the object of scorn, and still be invited to the next wine and cheese party, that group has no lèse-majesté. They are marginal nobodies.”

I should have written that such a group does not enjoy the protection of laws against lèse-majesté, since lèse-majesté is, properly speaking, the crime, and not the privilege of protection against that crime.  The French phrase translates as treason, and literally means an attack on the awesome grandeur of the state.

It has long been recognized that laws against treason are naturally spongy, and therefore impossible to write or apply in a consistent way.  It is impossible to give a precise definition of the state, or of the interests of the state, and no one can say precisely where a recalcitrant subject becomes a rebellious subject, or when a rebellion becomes full-blown civil war.

Thus, as one legal historian puts it,

“laws in regard to high treason and state treason easily assume an indefinite character” (1).

What he means is that laws against lèse-majesté are, by their very nature, highly mutable.  They have an “indefinite character” because the salient terms of “state,” “interests,” and “war” can be defined so narrowly that it is almost impossible for a citizen to commit treason, or so broadly that it is almost impossible for a citizen not to commit treason.  Is a citizen free to attack his state in any way short of raising an army with which to conquer it?  Or is a loyal citizen constrained to praise his country and its leaders unreservedly and in every particular?

It is very common for laws against lèse-majesté to extend their protection to the ruler, his family, and the ruling class generally, so that physical attacks on the bodies or interests of these persons are treated, not as mere civil crimes, but as attacks on the state.  It is also common for these laws to extended their protection to the reputations of these “men and women of distinction” by attaching extraordinary sanctions to the defamation of noblemen, their families, and the nobility in general.  This sort of special exemption from defamation was said to have begun under the Roman emperor Augustus, who, Tacitus tells us,

“for the first time applied the law to libelous writings, being indignant at the outrageous and scurrilous attacks made by Cassius Severus upon men and women of distinction” (2).

It is worth noting that attacks on the ruling class grew more abusive, and protections against these attacks more robust, just when the Roman republic became the Roman empire.

Finally, it is common for laws against lèse-majesté to extend their protection to the state’s established religion, official cult, or ruling ideology. When Rome persecuted Bacchantes, Druids and Christians, it invoked laws against lèse-majesté.  In refusing to burn that pinch of incense, the Christian became a publici hostes or public enemy, the most egregious form of traitor.

Every state rests on a religious or philosophical foundation, has a clear interest in preserving this foundation, and therefore extends its protection to this foundation. This is true even in a liberal state. As the arch liberal John Stuart Mill explained, there can be no “permanent political society” without a “feeling of allegiance, or loyalty,” and for there to be a feeling of allegiance or loyalty, it is essential that

“there be in the constitution of the State something which is settled, something permanent, and not to be called in question . . . . In all political societies which have had a durable existence, there has been some fixed point; something which men agreed in holding sacred; which, wherever freedom of discussion was a recognized principle, it was of course lawful to contest in theory, but which no one could either fear or hope to see shaken in practice” (3).

Attacks on this foundation used to be known as “spiritual treason” or lèse-majesté divine, and in the old religious societies they fell under the heads of sacrilege, heresy, witchcraft, simony, blasphemy.  Spiritual treason in our society is what we call political incorrectness.

* * * * *

The liberal state was formed in a reaction against the authoritarian states of the early modern period, in which the laws against lèse-majesté had been very wide-ranging and rigorous.  The liberal state was designed to minimize the incentives for treason by opening the political process to all men, the hope being that no man would conspire to overthrow a state of which he was already (theoretically) a part.

The liberal state also greatly relaxed the laws against lèse-majesté, whether spiritual or temporal, and granted an unusually large space to criticism and dissent.  It permitted very vigorous verbal attacks on the superficial arrangements of the political order, and even condoned radical inquiry so long as this remained, as Mill said, explicitly theoretical.  Reversing the position of Augustus Cesar, the liberal state granted citizens a special license to launch “outrageous and scurrilous attacks . . . upon men and women of distinction,” and it of course legalized all of the old forms of “spiritual treason.”

This is why treason is defined so narrowly in the U.S. Constitution, and why so many Americans think a man cannot be a traitor unless he is actually trafficking in military secrets, and that perhaps only in wartime.

* * * * *

The recent shemozzle over Roseanne Barr and Valerie Jarrett reminds us that Jarrett is part of a protected ruling class, indeed a nobility.  It suggests that similar protections may extend to all female politicians, and more especially those of color.  These protections are not written in the statute books, of course, but they are nevertheless amply supplied by the controlled and social media, where public shaming, denunciation and ostracism are a formidable force.

You don’t need me to enumerate the races, religions, and erotic impulses that today enjoy this sort of special protection against offensive speech.  All I will say here is that offensive speech is a verbal attack, unique protection from such attacks is a privilege, enjoyment of this privilege is the mark of nobility,and nobility is conferred because doing so is in the interest of the state.

There was a time when a Black man would be severely chastised for insulting a White man, and more especially a White woman.  An “uppety Black” committed a crime of lèse-majesté because his insult was political, not just personal.  In offering his insult to a member of a protected class, he of course offered an insult to the political order in which that class was protected.  This is why he was looked upon as a traitor, and this is why his punishment was severe.

Today, a White man can expect to be severely chastened for insulting a Black man, and perhaps more especially a Black woman.  He will not be whipped or hung by the neck, but he will most certainly be made “a hissing and a reproach among all the nations.”  He will not be wrenched from his bed by night riders, but he will probably be wrenched from his job by a galloping hoard of twitteratn.  And this is because he is guilty of lèse-majesté, of treason against the liberal social order.

* * * * *

Like my friend, I have often wished a champion was at my side.  When some later-day Cassius Severus launches an outrageous and scurrilous attack on the little things I care about, I am not above wishing that some later-day Augustus would burst in and shove the blowhard’s head into the toilet.  And when I read the thousandth glib defamation of men like me, and am told we are all fools, fiends, or fat cats, I indulge for a moment in the fantasy that we are, instead, a protected nobility, and that the rascal who wrote this libel will be stripped and flogged at public expense.

But this is all moonshine. Men like me are not noblemen, and if a later day Augustus decides to give swirlys, we will be the ones with the corkscrew hairdos.

And to tell you the truth, I prefer it this way.  I don’t want the state to be my helicopter mom; and I don’t want to be rescued by a galloping hoard of twitterati.  I want to fight my own fights, take my own licks, and annoy the world with my own brand of conservative intransigence.

If I am not up for this, I should just shut up.  For as the great man said (this time with the critical emphasis),

“Let a fellow sing o’ the little things he cares about,
If a fellow fights for the little things he cares about
With the weight of a single blow!”

If, yes, and only if.

 

(1) Carl Ludwig von Bar, A History of Continental Criminal Law (Boston, 1916), p. 41.

(2) Tacitus, Annals1: 72.3.

(3) John Stuart Mill, “Coleridge,” London and Westminster Review, 33 (March, 1840), pp. 257-302.

19 thoughts on “Unprotected, Undismayed

  1. Pingback: Unprotected, Undismayed | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: Unprotected, Undismayed | Reaction Times

  3. Pingback: Unprotected, Undismayed | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  4. I wouldn’t want the state to outlaw criticism of me personally. On the other hand, I do want its power wielded in the service of truth, since the alternative is that it be wielded in the service of falsehood. So in my ideal world, disrespect toward fathers and clergy would carry social and legal penalties.

    Wouldn’t this mean that priests would become corrupt? Of course. Corruption follows power. I want the priests of my religion to be the most corrupt of all classes. That way I’ll know that my religion is the one in charge.

  5. “As I wrote in this place a couple of years ago”
    Yawn………keep scribbling you impotent boomer cuck.
    May your witty frog quotes ease the weight
    of your enslavement.
    Yawn……….

    • Hahaha witty. What little vaginas like you don’t seem to understand is that millions of us “boomer cucks” as you call us will not be enslaved. We’ll either be victorious or dead, but not slaves of the state. Unlike you who will be taking it up the backside from your masters because you really are just a little puppet who will do anything to justify your own miserable existence.

    • Actually, witless; you’ve even mis-spelled your own name. It’s “Fuck You”; and your attempt at the changed spelling isn’t even unique. Quite obviously, you fail to comprehend just where ‘we’ as a nation are in history, and what is headed toward foolish, spineless, liberal cuckolds like you. Understand this, boychild; the enslavement will not be “ours”. When the excitement starts, it will either be all of us – or all of you.
      And so, it shall be all of you. “Beware the anger of the patient man”.

      • They tend to hate the 1960s and their parents, but mostly their parents. Of course not many have true boomer parents, but whose counting?

      • The sixties is an odd thing to blame on the boomers: the oldest boomers at that time were barely in their twenties.

      • Yes. But the anti-boomers tend to conflate college-age hippies and the much older men who were rewriting our laws and history. They also make the mistake of assuming that hippies must have been a majority, since they certainly won the culture war.

  6. It is well that you quote Mr. Kipling. I think the self-appointed Amerikan Nobility would do themselves a favor to read THE WRATH OF THE SAXON. What they fail to realize in their sinful arrogance is us “bumpkins” handed them their asses in 2016. I am hoping the same will hold true in the midterms coming up.
    Yes, as I and others smarter than me have opined in the archives of WRSA, we cannot vote our way out of this. But, we can use our time wisely and get ready for the coming festivities. Keep in mind, my friends, that these Cosmic White Marxist “Journalists” and “Entertainers” are just talking. Talk is cheap and: “sticks and stones…” Just be ready for when things go beyond the talking stage. Bleib ubrig.

    • And so…
      Sticks and stones can break my bones…
      But wad-cutters shatter matter…

      Talk first, then act when the talking is done.

  7. Perhaps a galloping HORDE of twitterati may yet descend on all of us, in which case it is far more destructive than any HOARD, unless, of course, it just falls on you from the sky. I don’t recall ever being here before, but I value this posting as very good. You’ve done very well here, and not only are your points good, but they are valid. Valerie Jarret is a pompous ass, and a traitor. Such leftist scum as she are the perfect example of people styling themselves as some sort of nobility. That she was Special Counsel to Obongo speaks volumes.

  8. Your viewpoint is right on . I have the great misfortune to live just south of Seattle . The far far left is in complete control and the hatred they show for Republicans and Conservatives is quite apparent . When a church burns there is glee , when a lesbian couple kills there six adopted children it is a non story . Liberal elite love their pot , wine ,Volvo and feeling superior . They are the birthplace of AntiFa and have a 20 bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin and they want the Deplorables dead.

  9. Nice post. Toward its end I was reminded of the immortal words of Captain Miller to one of his disgruntled soldiers:

    Reiben [Christian], pay attention – this is the way to gripe.

  10. As Sir John Harington observed:
    “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
    Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

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