Well, it’s almost Halloween. Would you have what it takes to survive an encounter with Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, or Freddy Krueger? Probably not, but it’s fun to think about, and everyone has thought about it. Why? Over at PJ Media, I consider such timeless and important issues as the use of sex in slasher films:
I’m sure the university libraries of the Anglosphere are full of theses on sex and horror movies, but it seems to me pretty self-evident that horror movies are one way for geeks to enjoy vicariously the suffering of the jocks. Alpha males don’t last long in the world of horror; it’s always the betas and the females who are the most likely to escape. Ridiculous though they often are, horror movies at least force us to evaluate our place in the social pecking order. Everybody has asked himself whether he’d survive a horror movie. There’s this desire within each of us to ignore the actual problems of the world and instead think about wholly unlikely and bizarre scenarios—unstoppable axe murderers, the zombie apocalypse—and whether we’d have the skills to survive them.
In a new piece for PJ Media, I comment on a 1965 interview with Mao Zedong that The New Republic has just republished as part of the magazine’s centennial celebration. Conducted by Edgar Snow, the interview touched mainly on military and strategic matters, but in my opinion one must consider Mao’s private life and habits in order to understand how he manipulated others into following him:
…one is reminded of the way serial killers draw in their prey, affecting a charming and alluring personality, which only conceals their desire to use and dominate others. They care nothing for anyone and are concerned only with their immediate needs; the sole purpose of interacting with others is to manipulate them. Even Mao’s swimming was intended to show his power and dominance, specifically his ability to conquer nature in the form of the rivers’ currents. People are drawn to these kinds of primal displays, and unfortunately this attraction is always behind history’s most brutal moments.
My piece for PJ Media today covers the latest proposal for a ban on smoking in London’s public parks. I then address the nanny state in general, which I believe ought to be called “the molester state” (for more on this, see an old piece of mine from The Daily Telegraph). One notices the swiftness and efficiency with which the molester state erodes personal liberty, while allowing major crimes and problems within the country to continue unaddressed. I also consider that ol’ Popperian idea of unfalsifiability when it comes to removing decision-making powers from individuals. Here’s a snippet:
Those who argue for bans draw from the bottomless fount of power that comes from invoking “health,” “safety,” “animal rights,” and “the environment.” There is room in free societies for protecting and fostering each of these, but the law-abiding citizen will have noticed that these concepts are continually used to dismantle their private lives. Since every civilization relies on the use of animals and the environment for its prosperity and cultural traditions, nothing is safe if “animal rights” and “environmentalism” are enforced to their logical limits. What possibly could not be controlled or banned in their name? Since neither animals nor environments can speak for themselves, there is always an infinite number of arguments that self-appointed proxies can employ on their behalf in order to regulate or ban what the proxies don’t like.
What is freedom? Does everyone want it? Is it a universal desire? At PJ Media, I consider these questions, which arose from an encounter I had with an elderly man in a secondhand bookshop:
Even dictators and murderers love freedom: If one’s only goal is to take away others’ freedom, one must first use their own freedom to do so—the freedom to move, to think, to plot, to carry out an evil plan. Tyrants require freedom to practice their trade, even if it is only freedom for themselves. The opponents of free speech face a similar built-in paradox: they are speaking freely in order to argue against speaking freely. Even if they don’t realize it, those who oppose freedom in theory are usually for it in practice.