In his latest contribution to New English Review Dalrymple devises a test to determine which distastes reveal everyone’s – note: everyone’s – inner authoritarian.
Read the piece here, take the test yourself, and submit your answers in the comments section.
In the course of explaining the principles involved, he offers this (to my mind accurate and insightful) description of the current ideological warfare that marks the present moment:
With the cacophony of opinion that now seems to envelop us every minute of the day, thanks to the media of mass communication, virtue has become the expression of the right ideas, which is to say of ideas that coincide with one’s own. In the beginning was the Word, but the word is now the beginning, the middle and the end. In a logocracy such as ours, he is best whose words are best; and those who say things that differ from our opinion not merely think differently, but are bad people. Those who merely behave badly are not bad, provided they believe the right things; while even the best, kindest or most considerate of personal conduct will not save the reputation of someone who expresses incorrect ideas.
The three things I would prohibit:
1) Pop music in public places.
I agree wholeheartedly with Dalrymple’s inclusion of this one. In fact, I blogged this piece and am writing this comment while wearing ear plugs in a coffee shop where the music is absurdly loud.
2) Women wearing yoga pants in public.
I consider this crass and semi-vulgar, and the women who do so strangely seem to wish to deliberately display their rear ends to all onlookers, while also expecting men not to stare or to evaluate them physically. It also sets off a kind of arms race (a butt race?) of the display of bare skin, leading to more and more semi-nudity. And it encourages mens’ natural (and unfortunate) tendency to be overly concerned with a woman’s outward appearance. (Note: I don’t doubt that there is a closely parallel behavior by men, of which I am probably not aware because of my sex.)
3) Swearing in public. I hope this is self-explanatory.
Note the use of the word “public” in all of my submissions. It seems obvious to me that we have greater responsibility to limit our undesirable behaviors in public than in private.
Of course, in hindsight I don’t actually want to ban any of those things. If anyone did propose banning them, I would argue against them. These are just things that I think are causing problems and challenges, so they came quickly to mind without serious reflection.
Which I guess was his point.