Mark Steyn Articles

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Here surely is an almost too perfect snapshot of a culture that simultaneously destroys childhood and infantilizes adulthood. The "child" in this vignette ought to be the ten-year-old boy, "hands up against the wall," but, instead, the "man" appropriates the child role for himself: Why, the graduate assistant is so "distraught" that he has to leave and telephone his father. He is pushing thirty, an age when previous generations would have had little boys of their own. But today, confronted by a grade-schooler being sodomized before his eyes, the poor distraught child-man approaching early middle-age seeks out some fatherly advice, like one of Fred MacMurray's "My Three Sons" might have done had he seen the boy next door swiping a can of soda pop from the lunch counter.

The graduate assistant pushing thirty, Mike McQueary, is now pushing forty, and is sufficiently grown-up to realize that the portrait of him that emerges from the indictment is not to his credit and to attempt, privately, to modify it. "No one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds," he emailed a friend a few days ago. "Trust me."

"Trust me"? Maybe the ten-year-old boy did. And then watched Mr. McQueary leave the building. Perhaps the child-man should try "imagining" the ten-year-old's thoughts or being in his shoes.

Oh, wait. He wasn't wearing any.

A society that no longer understands that distinction is in deep trouble. To argue that a man witnessing child sex in progress has no responsibility other than to comply with procedures and report it to a colleague further up the chain of command represents a near-suicidal loss of that distinction.

A land of hyperlegalisms is not the same as a land of law. When people get used to complying with microregulations and "procedures", it's but a small step to confusing "compliance with procedures" with the right thing to do – and then arguing that, in the absence of regulatory guidelines, there is no "right thing to do."

In a hyperlegalistic culture, Penn State's collaborators may have the law on their side. But there is no moral liability waiver.

"The asphyxiating embrace of ideological conformity was famously captured by Nikolai Krylenko, the People’s Commissar for Justice, in a speech to the Soviet Congress of Chess Players in 1932, at which he attacked the very concept of “the neutrality of chess.” It was necessary for chess to be Sovietized like everything else. “We must organize shock brigades of chess players, and begin immediate realization of a Five-Year Plan for chess,” he declared. ...

Look, I’m an effete foreigner who likes show tunes. My Broadway book was on a list of “Twelve Books Every Gay Man Should Read.” Andrew Sullivan said my beard was hot. Leonard Bernstein stuck his tongue in my mouth (long story). But I’m not interested in living in a world where we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells. If it’s a choice between having celebrity chefs who admit to having used the N-word in 1977 (or 1965, or 1948, or whenever the hell it was) and reality-show duck-hunters who quote Corinthians and Alec Baldwin bawling out some worthless paparazzo who’s doorstepping his family with a “homophobic” slur, or having all of them banished from public life and thousands upon millions more too cowed and craven to speak lest the same fate befall them, I’ll take the former any day.

Six years later, the political winds having shifted, Krylenko was executed as an enemy of the people. But his spirit lives on among the Commissars of Gay Compliance at GLAAD. ...

How do you make a fruit cordial?

Be nice to him. Or else."

[ "The Age of Intolerance

The forces of “tolerance” are intolerant of anything less than full-blown celebratory approval."] December 20, 2013, National Review.

The response was:

On the other hand, I can’t agree with Mark that anything of value is lost when derogatory epithets go out of bounds in polite society. They tend to be bad even for humor, substituting stereotype and cliché for originality. People who used them in different times need not be regarded as monstrous, nor must the canon be censored; we could instead feel good about having awoken to a greater civility and make generous allowances for human fallibility.

By way of criticizing speech, I’ll say that I found the derogatory language in this column, and especially the slur in its borrowed concluding joke, both puerile in its own right and disappointing coming from a writer of such talent. [ "Steyn on Speech," JASON LEE STEORTS December 21, 2013 , National Review.

Steyn replied:

It is a matter of some regret to me that my own editor at this publication does not regard this sort of thing as creepy and repellent rather than part of the vibrant tapestry of what he calls an “awakening to a greater civility”. I’m not inclined to euphemize intimidation and bullying as a lively exchange of ideas – “the use of speech to criticize other speech”, as Mr Steorts absurdly dignifies it. So do excuse me if I skip to the men’s room during his patronizing disquisition on the distinction between “state coercion” and “cultural coercion”. I’m well aware of that, thank you. In the early days of my free-speech battles in Canada, my friend Ezra Levant used a particular word to me: “de-normalize”. Our enemies didn’t particularly care whether they won in court. Whatever the verdict, they’d succeed in “de-normalizing” us — that’s to say, putting us beyond the pale of polite society and mainstream culture. “De-normalizing” is the business GLAAD and the other enforcers are in. You’ll recall Paula Deen’s accuser eventually lost in court — but the verdict came too late for Ms Deen’s book deal, and TV show, and endorsement contracts.

Up north, Ezra and I decided that, if they were going to “de-normalize” us, we’d “de-normalize” them. So we pushed back, and got the entire racket discredited and, eventually, the law repealed. It’s rough stuff, and exhausting, but the alternative is to let the control-freaks shrivel the bounds of public discourse remorselessly so that soon enough you lack even the words to mount an opposing argument. As this commenter to Mr Steorts noted, the point about unearthing two “derogatory” “puerile” yet weirdly prescient gags is that, pace Marx, these days comedy repeats as tragedy.

I am sorry my editor at NR does not grasp the stakes. Indeed, he seems inclined to “normalize” what GLAAD is doing. But, if he truly finds my “derogatory language” offensive, I’d rather he just indefinitely suspend me than twist himself into a soggy pretzel of ambivalent inertia trying to avoid the central point — that a society where lives are ruined over an aside because some identity-group don decides it must be so is ugly and profoundly illiberal. As to his kind but belated and conditional pledge to join me on the barricades, I had enough of that level of passionate support up in Canada to know that, when the call to arms comes, there will always be some “derogatory” or “puerile” expression that it will be more important to tut over. So thanks for the offer, but I don’t think you’d be much use, would you?

Steorts replied with

The point is basic courtesy, Mark. It’s that you could mount your opposing argument without insulting people. Sure, you have the right to insult people, but I can’t sympathize much with someone who exercises that right just to prove it exists, which seems to have been part of your rhetorical strategy. What I would like to de-normalize is boorishness, whatever its content. I would do that by criticizing your manners, not by “indefinitely suspend[ing]” you, which would not be my decision anyway. When people are indefinitely suspended from this or that for being boors, I find it “stifling and unhealthy,” as you may recall that I said. I’ll upgrade that to “creepy and repellent,” if it’ll calm you down. But it’s also part of the rough-and-tumble of free expression, which protects equally the right of people to be boors, and the right of people to call for suspensions, and the right of organizations to capitulate, and the right of you and me to criticize them for it, with or without courtesy.

The article at says Steort is a global warming gay marriage Zimmerman's-head-banging-on-sidewalk-wasn't-so-bad kind of gay.