Author Archives: David Seri

Unduly and Harshly Punitive?

The summer edition of City Journal showcases a lengthy Theodore Dalrymple essay refuting the typically trendy, liberal nonsense about an unjust and harsh criminal system—this time in Britain.

If a man is held in detention for only five years for having killed two women (his excuses are now acknowledged to have been concocted), it is hardly surprising that burglars should spend only six days per burglary in prison. What is remarkable is that, among the British intelligentsia, the British criminal-justice system should be almost universally regarded as unduly and harshly punitive, and that this belief should be impervious to reason or evidence. In Britain, as no doubt elsewhere, the uneducated sometimes have a better, though intuitive, grasp of reality than do the educated.

Rule of the Right-Thinking

Another Theodore Dalrymple column on the Brexit parody appeared in City Journal.

In other words, true democracy is the rule of the right-thinking, and the purpose of a referendum anywhere in Europe is—as it was under Napoleon III—to provide legitimation for a decision that has already been taken. By comparison with those who have attempted, and are still attempting, to obstruct Brexit in Britain, General Augusto Pinochet—the late Chilean dictator—was a democrat. When he lost a plebiscite, he stood down.

Brexit and the Mirror-Image of the Truth

Theodore Dalrymple weighs in on the farcical controversy surrounding Boris Johnson´s decision to suspend the British Parliament at the beginning of September in his Law and Liberty column. In the standard left-liberal and EU response to a lost referendum or election, it was the majority that got it wrong and, therefore, there must be another referendum—or referenda—until those silly, ignorant voters get it right. Once again, democracy is a glorious gift as long as the unwashed masses vote the way their neo-liberal, globalist overlords wish them to vote. Classic Dalrymple.

To hold a referendum, or plebiscite, and then ignore the result is now a European tradition, but to call it a democratic procedure is surely to twist the word beyond any possible meaning.

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The protesters against Mr. Johnson’s manoeuvre are not trying to defend parliamentary democracy, about which they do not give a fig: what they are protesting against is that the votes of those persons whom they consider ignorant, uneducated, prejudiced, xenophobic, and so forth, have a chance of being taken seriously, indeed as seriously as their own. This is an outrage to their dignity.

Gallic Lycanthropy: ‘It’s not the pale moon that excites me’

The return of wolves to Theodore Dalrymple´s corner of France prompts his latest Salisbury Review essay about the reaction of various segments of French society to this new ecological development.

Permission is given to farmers in special circumstances to cull the wolves, about 40 a year, provided they can show that the wolves have caused damage that cannot be prevented any other way than by killing them; but the penalty for an unauthorised killing of a wolf is up to a year in prison and a fine of 15,000 Euros.

There are many, perhaps most, offences against human beings that are treated far more leniently by the law. Man may be a wolf to man, but not a wolf to Wolf.

Immodest Proposals

In last week´s Takimag column, Theodore Dalrymple lets loose on another immoral, perverted, and absurd suggestion by the typical post-modern academic radical, who has designated himself as our enlightened savior from such old fashioned taboos as cannibalism.

The common factor that unites the proposals to reduce the voting age to 6 and to eat the dead, and the ruling of the French court, is education. No uneducated person would have proposed reducing the voting age or eating the dead, or succumbed to the argumentation that was no doubt put before the French court. You need a refined intelligence—refined in a certain way, that is—to be so silly.

The Ayatollah of Climate Change: Greta Thunberg

The recent, and unusually unfortunate, phenomenon that is the rise of Greta Thunberg is addressed by Theodore Dalrymple in his September essay over at the New English Review. The good doctor goes on to comment on a myriad of his favorite topics including: the perpetual adolescence of the adults of today, the fraudulant field of psychology, grievance-mongering of our liberal education systems, and the slow death of genuine humor in our overly-sensitive, politically-correct culture.

Poor Greta Thunberg! She is to self-righteousness and self-satisfaction what Mozart was to music, namely an astonishing youthful prodigy. Unlike Mozart, however, she is a very unattractive child, her unattractiveness arising not from her natural physical endowment but from the sheer grimness of her humourless puritanism which is inscribed on her face for all to see. She has succeeded in adding a new vision of hell to the many that I already have, namely being preached at by her for all eternity without intermission.

It is said that she suffers from a psychiatric condition, but whether or not this is so, her awfulness (of which, of course, she is blithely unaware) is not really her fault. Her transformation into a celebrity is the work of adults. It is they who have turned her into the Ayatollah Thunberg, the Khomeini of climate change.

A World Empty of Moral Meaning

The September 14 Theodore Dalrymple Takimag column explores the wrong-headed modern obsession of worrying about the individual´s self-esteem after the good doctor is informed that a certain (anti-)social media site will stop showing the number of likes on posts in order to not hurt any feelings.

Self-esteem is one of those psychological concepts by which we empty the world of moral meaning, hoping for a technical solution to our discontents. That world empty of moral meaning is the world in which the number of “likes” is the measure of all things.

The Forbidden-to-Forbid Generation

And we are back. I apologize to our faithful readers for the long break, but the staff of The Skeptical Doctor was on an extended vacation in France and Hungary, with a few stops in between. However, there is no need to fret; regular posting will be resuming effective immediately.

Theodore Dalrymple critiques yet another self-absorbed, narcissistic modern architect in last month´s essay from the QuadrantThank you to our reader, Damian, who alerted us to this new portal that hosts the good doctor´s column. Please note that this is a subscription website, but you should be able to read at least one article on the house.

Narcissistic self-glorification seems to be a characteristic of our age, and almost a requirement for success. Could anything be more deeply self-regarding than the architect’s declaration that “I would rather be rigorous in the questions that I ask than the answers I come up with”? In other words, his pseudo-intellectual musings that seem to wander more or less aimlessly through his mind are actually more important to him than the buildings he causes to be constructed and that citizens will have to live with, and perhaps be physically dominated by, for many years.

Rag & Bone

In Theodore Dalrymple’s August New English Review essay, he recalls some childhood memories and the important life lessons taught by his mother before showing how these lessons are still applicable in the present day.

The pleasure that some people take in the gratuitous humiliation of others to make themselves appear larger in their own eyes (and that comes to be habitual) does not do so in the eyes of others, rather the reverse. All this my mother tried implicitly to impress upon me. Manners maketh man.

Britain’s Uncertain Future

Over at City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple looks back home across the Channel to weigh in on the latest political developments with the ascension of the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, and his plans for the long-overdue conclusion of Brexit. The good doctor calls out the new Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, for her uncompromising and undemocratic view on avoiding the voter-approved Brexit by any means necessary. Democracy is a favorite pet of liberals, except of course when election results do not go their way.

On the other hand, Swinson has made it plain that she would respect the result of a second referendum on Brexit only if it went in favor of remaining. In other words, there can be any policy you want, so long as it is mine.

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Swinson’s statement, that she would do whatever it takes to prevent Brexit, including ride roughshod over public opinion, shows how Europeanized she is. She is young—39—and probably representative of the educated persons of her class and generation, to say nothing of those yet younger. They apparently have no objection to authoritarian rule—provided it is their own, of course.