Archive for December 6th, 2012

Sheep Dips

One would like to believe that the Americans are redeemable. Problem is, conflicting with such a belief, keep coming the Facts.

For instance, it was previously Known that 58% of those Americans identifying as Republicans either believed, or weren’t sure, that the black man in the republicanWhite House was born outside the US; 52% of these Americans decreed that it was either “definitely true” or “probably true” that the black man “sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world”; while 24% of all Americans had concluded the black man is, in fact, the Antichrist.

Now, the black man having thoroughly thrashed Captain Underpants, some 49% of Republican Americans have Decided that he did not legitimately win the election—because the contest was in fact “stolen” by ACORN, an organization that has not existed for more than two years.

Why is it, one may cry, like Lear mad upon the heath, that so many of the Americans, they persist in dragging their knuckles right down to the ground?

Some doubledome out of Harvard, writing for the New York Times, may have the answer. And that answer can be expressed in one word: sheep.

In a piece titled “Why Are States So Red And Blue,” Stephen Pinker opines that the sort of ur-humans who are convinced the black man is an Islamic Antichrist elevated to office by Acorns, are descendants of people who ran livestock across the land; meanwhile, the Sane people, who eschew such beliefs, sprang from the loins of farmers.

Writes Pinker:

The historian David Hackett Fischer traces the divide back to the British settlers of colonial America. The North was largely settled by English farmers, the inland South by Scots-Irish herders. Anthropologists have long noted that societies that herd livestock in rugged terrain tend to develop a “culture of honor.” Since their wealth has feet and can be stolen in an eye blink, they are forced to deter rustlers by cultivating a hair-trigger for violent retaliation against any trespass or insult that probes their resolve. Farmers can afford to be less belligerent because it is harder to steal their land out from under them, particularly in territories within the reach of law enforcement. As the settlers moved westward, they took their respective cultures with them. The psychologist Richard Nisbett has shown that Southerners today continue to manifest a culture of honor which yeehawlegitimizes violent retaliation. It can be seen in their laws (like capital punishment and a stand-your-ground right to self-defense), in their customs (like paddling children in schools and volunteering for military service), even in their physiological reactions to trivial insults.

Admittedly, it’s hard to believe that today’s Southerners and Westerners carry a cultural memory of sheepherding ancestors.  But it may not be the herding profession itself that nurtures a culture of honor so much as living in anarchy. All societies must deal with the dilemma famously pointed out by Hobbes: in the absence of government, people are tempted to attack one another out of greed, fear and vengeance. European societies, over the centuries, solved this problem as their kings imposed law and order on a medieval patchwork of fiefs ravaged by feuding knights. The happy result was a thirty-fivefold reduction in their homicide rate from the Middle Ages to the present. Once the monarchs pacified the people, the people then had to rein in the monarchs, who had been keeping the peace with arbitrary edicts and gruesome public torture-executions. Beginning in the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, governments were forced to implement democratic procedures, humanitarian reforms and the protection of human rights.

There is More:

When the first American settlers fanned out from the coasts and other settled areas, they found themselves in anarchy all over again. The historian David Courtwright has shown that there is considerable truth to the cinematic clichés of the Wild West and the mountainous South of Davy Crocket, Daniel Boone and the Hatfields and McCoys. The nearest sheriff might be 90 miles away, and a man had to defend himself with firearms and a reputation for toughness. In the all-male enclaves of cattle and mining towns, young men besotted with help me spockhonor and alcohol constantly challenged one another’s mettle and responded to these challenges, pushing rates of violence through the roof . . . .

But then why, once stable government did arrive, did it not lay claim to the monopoly on violence that is the very definition of government? The historian Pieter Spierenburg has suggested that “democracy came too soon to America,” namely, before the government had disarmed its citizens. Since American governance was more or less democratic from the start, the people could choose not to cede to it the safeguarding of their personal safety but to keep it as their prerogative. The unhappy result of this vigilante justice is that American homicide rates are far higher than those of Europe, and those of the South higher than those of the North.

So, there you have it. As to Lenin’s question—what is to be done?—the answer is: a Big Saw. The land masses occupied by the Sheep People simply must be physically separated from the lands of the Sane People. They may then be allowed to drift out into the Atlantic, these Sheep People, where they can fire their guns and guzzle moonshine and electrocute Wrong’Uns, riding all day and all night with Adam and Eve on dinosaurs to church, to their little gnarled hearts’ content.

And if and when they evolve, these Sheep People, the rest of the Americans may allow them to drift back, and dock.


When I Worked

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