Friday, February 1, 2019

Homo make-me-a-sandwichensis

Margaret Leahy in Buster Keaton's Three Ages (1923). H/t Mary Ellen!

Two weeks ago David Brooks issued a column about "The Cruelty of Call-Out Culture" about an anecdote set in the "hard-core punk music scene in Richmond, Va." in which Emily, a performer, takes to Facebook to denounce a friend and fellow musician who has been caught sending some young lady a dick pic (I think, Brooks keeps it vague). The Facebook post ruins his life, he drops out of his own band and moves to another town, and nobody ever speaks to him again. Whereupon karma does her thing and Emily, who once bullied a girl victim of online abuse when they were in high school, is outed by a guy called Herbert and ostracized in turn, only it turns out that Herbert was abused sexually as a child, so it's all pretty sad, though it's not easy to see what anybody's supposed to do about it unless the solution is to just put up with abuse because you don't want anybody to really get hurt. In the society of niceness, you'll just suck it up.
Society enforces norms by murdering the bullies who break them. When systems are broken, vigilante justice may be rough justice, but it gets the job done. Prominent anthropologist Richard Wrangham says this is the only way civilization advances that he’s witnessed.
Really? Do we really think cycles of cruelty do more to advance civilization than cycles of wisdom and empathy? I’d say civilization moves forward when we embrace rule of law, not when we abandon it.
Though Emily explained pretty carefully that the rule of law didn't exist at the time, in regard to the time she was raped herself:

“I didn’t want to cause a scene, I just wanted him gone,” said Emily. “But that was a few years ago, and back then there was no way to make him gone,” said Rosin. “This band had power and status in the scene, and there was a feeling that well-liked guys were protected from accusations.”
Also Richard Wrangham is a primatologist, and in his 2010 Catching Fire he argues that the chief driver in human evolution is cooking:

"Sued", lol.

No, I'm not buying it, though there's more evidence for controlled cooking fire more than 300,000 years ago than I would have expected.

Anyway today he's back with "Kamala Harris, Call-Out Star" discussing how combative Harris is, making her the perfect choice for the Democrats' 2020 nominee because
she seems to have no inhibitions about hitting her opponent with full rhetorical force and landing the full blow.... Harris’s fearless, cut-the-crap rhetorical style will probably serve her well in this pugilistic political moment.
Then again he doesn't use the word "call-out" anywhere in the column, just in the headline, which he may not have written himself at all, so I'm not sure if we're supposed to put it together with the two-week old column and draw some kind of conclusions, like former California attorney general Kamala Harris doesn't embrace the rule of law, or what.

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