Conservative actor and commentator James Woods returns to Twitter
American actor and conservative commentator James Woods has returned to Twitter, the censorious social media platform that suspended him last year.
The occasion for his return? Woods claims that he was inspired by a recent soundbite by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Woods tweeted: “I’ve tried so hard this past year to live without the wealth of knowledge available on Twitter, but this kind of blazing insight can be found nowhere else, so… I’m back!”
Jordan Peterson gave his first biblical lecture in the spring of 2017. From the beginning, he designed the lectures to educate himself, along with his listeners, in the rudiments of Western civilization.
“When I’m lecturing, I’m thinking. I’m not trying to tell you what I know for sure to be the case, because there’s lots of things that I don’t know for sure to be the case. I’m trying to make sense out of this… This is part of the process by which I’m doing that, and so I’m doing my best to think on my feet. I come prepared, but I’m trying to stay on the edge of my capacity to generate knowledge, to make this continually clear, and to get to the bottom of things.
“The idea is to see if there’s something at the bottom of this amazing civilization that we’ve managed to structure, and that I think is in peril, for a variety of reasons. Maybe, if we understand it a little bit better, we won’t be so prone just to throw the damn thing away, which I think would be a big mistake. And to throw it away because of resentment, hatred, bitterness, historical ignorance, jealousy, the desire for destruction, and all of that… I don’t want to go there. It’s a bad idea, to go there. We need to be better grounded.” – Biblical Series I
Jordan’s latest University of Toronto course had ended two weeks prior; his Patreon page boomed with new donors; the media buzzed with his hard-nosed approach to free speech detractors. He finally had the trifecta of time, capital, and platform for his deepest ideas to reach an international audience.
But in a time of internet porn, video games, and church closures, who would care about a dense, technically-worded, two-hour lecture on Adam and Eve? Explained with a fusion of evolutionary biology, behavioural psychology, a smattering of world mythology, and Jungian psychoanalysis, the lectures may have seemed suited for a stuffy university classroom, rather than a 500-seat public theatre.
In the eyes of YouTube’s censorship team, a culture apathetic to biblical stories was insurance too cheap. Perhaps sensing a threat to their radical leftist dogma, they sought to stymie Jordan’s popularity. On August 1, 2017, he was locked from his YouTube account, without explanation, as he attempted to upload a two-hour lecture on Abraham. That same day, after popular uproar and a flurry of online articles, his account was reinstated—again, without explanation.
In enforcement, such censorship has been softened by modern technology. In intent, it remains in lockstep with the raison-d’être of Thinkpol. This is hardly surprising, as the Bible depicts stories of absolute moral rights and absolute moral wrongs: ironic as it may be, these strictures are anathema to those who hold moral relativity above all else.
“God, in the Old Testament, is frequently cruel, arbitrary, demanding, and paradoxical, which is one of the things that really gives the book life. It wasn’t edited by a committee that was concerned with not offending anyone. That’s for sure.” – Biblical Series I
Apathy for the Bible could never last in a culture grown from Christian values. Jordan’s biblical lectures sold out; a fact that astonished the now-best-selling author. Moreover, the 15 lectures have been viewed 21 million times on his YouTube channel. But the strangest part was the focused silence of his live audience, and how they unfailingly filled each lecture’s final half-hour with carefully-worded existential questions.
As Jordan’s supporters well know, his psychological analysis can move from ancient Mesopotamian politics in one sentence to lobsters in the next, and then finish by tying it all to a Jean Piaget theory. But there are core messages — rules, if you will — about being that he has extracted from the Bible and colloquially explained, making those who care to listen all the wiser.
Rule 1: Never resent the structure of existence
Life is a “catastrophe from beginning to end”, suffering is the default mode of existence, and our ever-changing environment demands that we toil in order to persist. You will be betrayed, your loved ones will become terminally ill, and whatever beauty you possess will wither and be forgotten in a matter of decades. Equity is unknown to nature. To make matters worse, be resentful, ruminating on the tragedy of it all and cursing the force that made this mess.
Everyone understands these sentiments. But the most successful among us acknowledge the horror of life, along with their capacity to contribute to it, and decide to hold faith that they can improve reality. They are alive, after all. What else is there to do? Opposed to nihilism, we could say that every action alters reality and that we may as well spend our time aiming at the Good.
The dangers of resentment have been told for millennia through the hostile brothers motif. In the Cain and Abel story, Cain fails to achieve an aim. He becomes resentful towards the seemingly unfair structure of existence, while his brother, Abel, uses proper sacrifice to thrive. Abel is simultaneously the embodiment of Cain’s ideal, a glowing reminder of Cain’s failure, and a target for revenge. Fueled by resentment, Cain lashes out and murders Abel. But Cain’s ideal, abstract beyond its manifestation in Abel, lives on and judges him with a punishment too great for him to bear.
Resentment is destructive in any form, only adding to our shared plight. When it comes to alleviating suffering, it simply isn’t practical. Neither is passive nihilism (a supposedly careless and neutral state), which causes a lack of meaningful engagement in the world that is both depressing and anxiety-provoking. Depression then causes the amygdala to grow, increasing emotional sensitivity. Suffering intensifies, and thus, reason for resentment. We fragment in the absence of a unifying aim, and our subpersonalities run amok in the cracks.
Rule 2: Listen to your subpersonalities and be wary of their advice
It has been known since the ancient Greeks — and undoubtedly before — that the human psyche is comprised of a multitude of spirits, gods, or subpersonalities. As Jordan noted, “you’re a loose collection of living subpersonalities, each with its own set of motivations, perceptions, emotions, and rationales, and you have limited control over that. You’re like a plurality of internal personalities that’s loosely linked into a unity.”
Some subpersonalities manifest as raw impulses — heated anger, raw lust, arrogant rationale — while others are more subtle manipulations. A timid child, for example, can decide to enter into an “unholy alliance” with an over-dependent parent, to avoid the pains of personal development.
When such voices arise, it is of the utmost importance to hear them for what they are: forces constantly warring for supremacy. Unchecked, they can guide us down a path of resentment. As Carl Jung said, “everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is.”
What we consider to be subpersonalities were, to the ancient Greeks, manifestations of gods, giving rise to both creative and destructive instinct. So, the next time you find yourself inexplicably drawn to a hobby, you can think of it as a divine message, delivered by Mercury, to guide you down a mythical path. The key is to listen and determine if it aids your unified aim, rather than to be blindly led.
Rule 3: Direct personal development with your worst experiences
Order and chaos. Known and unknown. Yin and yang. Darkness and light. These are dichotomies used to describe the abstract field in which we function, and the two sides of a prosperous balance. For those of us living in a democracy, order is usually well managed. The easy part. The task of delving into chaos and using our discoveries to update the order is what puts us at risk. But, uncomfortable as it may be, that is the only way to generate wealth for oneself and one’s community.
No matter the scale of the incident, our worst experiences are, intrinsically, the most instructive. That is because it is within the unknown when we are fools, novices, and most easily dissuaded by anxiety and self-doubt. If a bad experience causes retreat into bitterness and resentment, then chaos has won the battle. But if the experience gives rise to constructive analysis and tenacity, then a new tool has been forged. Superficially, defeat has been the short-term outcome: an aim missed, a pitch rejected, a relationship denied. That could be the end of it. Spiritual defeat, as well as material. But for an individual with faith in their aim, it becomes a lesson that makes them stronger. Wealth has been scavenged from the chaos.
This rule is given to us in the story of Joseph. Betrayed by his brothers, Joseph is sold into slavery, and he later becomes a prisoner in Egypt. However brutal, these experiences do not embitter him. He continues to believe in the good and never uses his misfortune as an excuse to transgress his morals. Each misfortunate strengthens him, and, as a result, his competency becomes indisputable and rewarded.
Rule 4: Have a clear aim, and make it the best conceivable aim
Knowingly or not, everyone interprets reality through an overlaying value structure. Subpersonalities can distort those values and take us down paths against our better judgement. But values can also be clarified by aiming at an ideal. In either case, values limit action, and, as such, they play a substantial role in the creation of aims.
An ideal sits at the top of our value structure, and our relationship to it can cause a great deal of positive and negative emotion. In one example, Cain could not bear to see his brother succeed where he had failed, and so, like a jealous lover, he used his brother’s flesh as a means to attack his own set of values. Immediately, Cain judged that he had become ultimately reprehensible, an inhabitant of the deepest hell, for attacking the successful embodiment of his own ideal.
The opposite of that would be to pursue the best conceivable aim and keep faith that it is worth any sacrifice. But the more ambitious an aim, the more sacrifice and faith required. To make matters more complicated, if one’s aim is merely a crude mimicking of an ideal, motivation (willingness to sacrifice) also proves difficult. Challenging as it may be, the axiom is to embody the best possible set of abstract, transcendent values, and to thereby unite heaven and earth.
“The horrors of life are, of course, that everything eats everything else, and that everything dies, and that everything’s born, and that the whole bloody place is a charnel house, and it’s a catastrophe from beginning to end. This is the vision of it being other than that.” -Biblical Series IV
To enjoy life is to have so much faith in an aim that we are excited to make the necessary sacrifices. This outweighs the default horror of existence and makes living a net positive. In other words, aiming for the highest Good makes life not only bearable, but desirable. Biologically, this maintains the health of the hippocampus and its inhibition of emotional sensitivity. At the same time, taking action against chaos causes dopaminergic activation: the suppression of anxiety and pain. These reactions may be considered an evolutionary basis for fortune favouring the bold.
Unfortunately, the transcendent alignment that comes with pursuing a worthy aim disappears when it is achieved. A vacuum follows, ready to be filled with another aim. We can think of this as having a singular, ever-transforming aim that clarifies as a result of our effort to reach it. But it also means that an ideal can never be fully realized. This could be considered a consequence of our ability to conceptualize the future, and the meaning of original sin.
Carl Jung and Friedrich Nietzsche disagreed on how to conceive a transcendent aim. Nietzsche believed that Westerners, having lost faith in Christianity, had to create their own values. Jung thought the lack of unity within the human psyche made that impossible. Instead, individuals should utilize their subpersonalities and cultural history to make a “supreme moral effort” in their lives.
Following Jung’s advice, we engage in an evolutionary process of discovering a transcendent ideal. The bible is a guide: “these [biblical] stories are trying to express what you might describe as an unchanging, transcendent reality. It’s something like what’s common across all human experience, across all time.” Along the way, cultures have represented their ideals in artistic form. That which remains can and should be used to inform our behaviour.
Rule 5: Maintain a cultural locus
Jordan highlighted the practical reason for having a cultural locus during the 2018 Munk debate: “we need something approximating a low resolution grand narrative to unite us. Otherwise we don’t have peace.”
Thousands of years ago, a cultural locus could have been as simple as an upright stone in the center of a village. Representing that shared values existed, and that their embodiment resulted in prosperity, was enough. Today, the Chartres Cathedral is one example of a cultural locus, representing, with its labyrinth and cross-shaped structure, that voluntary sacrifice leads to salvation. Another is the Pietà, representing the role of the archetypal Mother.
These works of art speak to an optimum human experience. As such, they are densely packed with information on how to embody a set of values that the creator’s culture deemed transcendent, practical, and divine.
Faith in shared values makes cultures strong and united — confident enough, for example, to start 200-year construction projects that represent the divinity of those values. But if that faith is lost, a person or culture will fragment internally and lose its peace. Cultural loci protect against that by reminding us of the value of faith, and by giving us stable measures for recalibrating our aims. From this perspective, art can be seen as a tool to stave off chaos.
We should study and maintain our traditional art and places of worship, because there is too much about the human experience for us to learn in a single lifetime. We are historical creatures, and it would be disastrous to disregard the behavioural patterns by which we arrived at our current standard of living. But relying too heavily on the lessons of the dead would be to “live on the corpse of your ancestors,” reneging the duty of cultural revivification and inviting the same kind of chaos that comes to those who live too long under parental control. Therefore, we must maintain cultural loci by combining traditional values and new discoveries, updating the loci as we clarify our conception of a transcendent ideal.
Roxane Gay thinks Jeannine Cummins should go cry into her publishing contract. After Cummins’ publisher Flatiron Books cancelled her American Dirt book tour due to death threats, Gay said that was basically no big deal because lots of authors receive death threats. Gay dismissed the concerns of Flatiron and Cummins, saying that it’s “important to acknowledge the death threats people receive for daring to have opinions, for daring to be black or brown or queer or disabled or women or trans or any marginalized identity.”
Gay made the remarks at Antioch University in Culver City, CA, when she spoke on a panel with author Myriam Gurba as part of #DignidadLiteraria (#LiteraryDignity), a movement that emerged after the publication of American Dirt. The purpose of #DignidadLiteraria is to hold the publishing world accountable for not publishing enough stories by and about the Spanish speaking people of the Americas. This panel was part of a national week of action organized by the hashtag’s founders Myriam Gurba, David Bowles, and Roberto Lovato.
Cummins’ book was the subject of much initial fanfare. It was on The New York Times’ highly anticipated book list. It was a pick for Oprah’s Book Club. Movie rights were sold before the book hit digital shelves and Cummins received a seven-figure advance. All this indicates that the book was going to be a literary circle darling. Instead, it has created a crisis in American publishing.
While there were some positive initial reviews, most of the notices for American Dirt were incredibly damning. Once word got out why the book was no good, critics could not stop dishing on the white author who had the audacity to write a story about a Mexican mother and son running for their lives to escape drug cartels.
The complaints were that Cummins shouldn’t have written the story, that the story wasn’t hers to write. The authors who trashed her book know that the story sprang from Cummins’ imagination and that she spent years researching the subject. And primarily, the harsh critics of American Dirt were other authors, like Gurba and Bowles, who take issue not only with the work itself, but the fact that it was published at all. They’re using it as a bludgeon with which to beat the publishing industry into submission to identity politics.
It’s possible, however, that some of the reviews were written by people who hadn’t read the book. For example, this Jezebel review from Shannon Melero notes that “There is no sense throughout the book that Cummins is familiar at all with the landscape of Mexico, outside the names of towns. At times it reads as if she was purposely vague on the description of a neighbourhood so that the reader could imagine they were anywhere else. But the lack of specificity is precisely why such a book appeals so massively to a mainstream white gaze: they can put themselves in the story and imagine they are practicing a type of empathy, when in fact they’re just perpetuating erasure.”
Journalist Jesse Signal points out many passages that show the specificity of the location Cummins writes about.
This is not the first time a book has been trashed by people who probably didn’t read it. A year ago, Amélie Wen Zhao’s unpublished novel Blood Heir was brought up on charges of being racist. It was mostly a play to get people to buy the books of the complaining critics, instead of the one that received the big advance and heavy push from publishers.
In Gurba’s review at Tropics of Meta, she writes that she was predisposed not to like the book based on a publisher’s letter, and she hates it thoroughly. “Unfortunately, Jeanine Cummins narco-novel, American Dirt, is a literary licuado that tastes like its title,” Gurba writes eviscerating both Cummins and the work. “Cummins plops overly-ripe Mexican stereotypes, among them the Latin lover, the suffering mother, and the stoic manchild, into her wannabe realist prose. Toxic heteroromanticism gives the sludge an arc and because the white gaze taints her prose, Cummins positions the United States of America as a magnetic sanctuary, a beacon toward which the story’s chronology chugs.”
For this review and for speaking out, Gurba says that she received threatening messages as well. To Gay, the threats Gurba received are more worrisome than the threats Cummins received.
“People need to realize what real censorship looks like,” Gay said. “They need to understand how unsafe it can be to challenge authority and the status quo. These are not things that should be taken lightly, nor should this level of harassment be dismissed as mere trolling. You never know when one of those so-called trolls is going to take his rage from the internet into the physical world.”
Ideally, well-known authors would decry all threats made against authors for their work. Gay was asked about the intimidation that caused Flatiron to cancel Cummins tour. “This woman is going to be set for life,” Gay said to the panel. “This book is going to earn royalties in perpetuity, and so it just reinforces what publishing already knows, which is as long as white people are translating the experiences of people of colour, it will sell very well.” Perhaps she thinks that the threats don’t matter if the author is successful.
To publicize the threats made against those authors who wrote against American Dirt, an online “death quilt” was organized so everyone could see. While Gay is saying that this is what “real censorship looks like,” neither bad reviews nor cruel missives from internet trolls are what censorship actually looks like. Censorship looks like a political and cultural ideology that demands adherence to rules about who is entitled to write what due to the fact of the genetic background. Locking people into prisons of ancestral experience is what censorship looks like, whether it comes from government or organized advocacy to correct publishers for transgressing these rules.
South Park is trending on Twitter these days. People don’t like it. Well, many do, but they just quietly enjoy the show from the comfort of their own home. The ones who don’t like it, need you to know about it because it’s not too late for you to change and be like them. I don’t know what it is these days but activists hate comedians.
Wait, I think I might know. It’s probably because while many activists are atheists, they are vehemently religious about their particular cause and if you don’t share that same passion, you’re a heretic. You, as a comedian may joke about a broad range of issues, just not their issues.
This seems to be a recent trend on social media, funny how politics today is just like fashion. I’m curious to see what’s next, what are going to be the new hot political spring issues. I never want to be behind on the times.
In an interview with CBC, feminist author Lindy West said of the show, “South Park is obsessed with irreverence. … But I think that irreverence needs to be deployed strategically, tactically.”
In other words, only deployed when I, Lindy West, agree with the premise. She went on to say: “And I deploy irreverence to tear down, or to sort of puncture ideas that I think do not deserve reverence, whereas South Park has always fetishized irreverence in this way where it’s like irreverence for irreverence’s sake—anything that anyone holds sacred deserves to be lampooned and satirized. I think it’s really tragic that we’ve sort of let some of these institutions be so completely defined by a certain white male sensibility that they become inaccessible to everyone else. I can’t watch South Park and not feel kind of gross.”
I guess my question to Lindy West is why keep watching it then? Surely being an author she’d have better use of her time than to watch a show that makes her feel kind of gross. I’m not much for gore myself, it makes me feel kind of gross, haven’t watched a horror film in years. They keep making them, I keep not watching them, somehow it all just sorts itself out.
South Park is undoubtedly dangerous, if creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone get you in their sites, look out. They lampoon with ruthless ferocity and that’s what people watch it for. The Caitlin Jenner character is a good example of this. When everybody, and I do mean everybody, was scared to talk about an incredibly famous person who’d been in the spotlight for decades coming out as trans, South Park drew a scathing depiction of Caitlin Jenner and routinely had her carelessly running over pedestrians with her car. This, of course, is a reference to a car crash that killed someone with Jenner behind the wheel. Any mention of it, however, is misconstrued as being transphobic, so it’s rarely discussed in the media outside of South Park references.
South Park has always run head-on towards controversy in the name of laughter and the only way they ever manage to come out unscathed is because they happen to be just so damn funny. You have to be pretty funny to go after Scientology, Mormonism, Islam and China. They are pretty hard on Christianity too, but who cares? The others are all well-organized groups who could seriously retaliate, many did in fact threaten to do so violently. It doesn’t just take enormous talent to do what these guys do; it also takes brass.
It’s not as if they’ll set the jokes aside momentarily if it’s convenient for them personally either. Trey Parker and Matt Stone received a rare invitation to the Oscars after being nominated for best original song “Blame Canada.” A once in a lifetime career opportunity right? Anybody in show business should be so lucky. So what did Parker and Stone do? They shaved their legs, put on wigs and dresses, took a couple hits of LSD and walked the red carpet. They have never wanted acceptance from any revered institutions, let alone a social media mob.
Let’s face it: these guys are badasses. They are a couple of high school buddies from Littleton, Colorado who bonded over their mutual love of anti-authoritarian comedy and don’t look like they’re stopping anytime soon.
Update: On Thursday, Facebook accepted our appeal and reversed its decision. Our article and post were restored and it was determined that The Post Millennial and our author, Libby Emmons, were not in violation of Facebook policy.
Facebook has flagged The Post Millennial for hate speech … against “white women.” In an article entitled “Why are white women signing up for workshops that tell them they suck?” Our senior contributor Libby Emmons explored the phenomenon of white women self-flagellating over issues of race. The story was widely shared and written about workshops that affluent white women partake in to better learn about their own unconscious bias.
Emmons is a white woman, and by the rules of identity politics, a person of a given group is allowed to tell hard truths about that group, even if they’re not always easy to digest. Unless the rules of identity politics don’t apply to white women. Which was, in part, the point of the article.
Hate speech is a serious charge, one that we don’t take lightly. Bashing a group based on their race, sexual orientation, or ethnicity is not an acceptable means of discourse. But that’s not what this article does. Instead, the article points out that a person’s race does not determine their perspective or their worth. The article advocates against racial stereotypes and assumptions based on background.
Additionally, the article lists several articles that call out white people for being racist, based entirely on the colour of their skin. None of these articles were flagged for removal by Facebook. These pieces that specifically target white women for their complicity in racism were featured in The Washington Post, Salon, Jezebel, The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, AlterNet, and other sites, and some of them were written by writers of colour. Why were these articles acceptable but Emmons’ wasn’t?
This is what identity politics does to people. Some algorithm or some staffer at Facebook saw “white women” and “suck” and came to the wrong conclusion about our content. It was a provocative headline, but the meaning of the piece is that no one should be made to believe that they are lesser because of the colour of their skin.
This is our first “strike” and of course we are appealing. These allegations are simply unfounded. Social media platforms are an essential part of information dissemination, and those who patrol the feeds know this. When they flag items for content violation, much of what they are doing is interpreting user complaints. But social media users who complain about content are not neutral, objective observers. In fact, most of them have larger axes to grind that we do, and they take the job of deplatforming as a means to remove views that they disagree with very seriously.
Facebook should reverse their ridiculous decision. Our post and our article were not in any way hateful and did not violate any community standards. Exploring cultural phenomena is not “hate speech.” If Facebook doesn’t come to its senses, then it’s just a propaganda machine for identity politics apologists. It’s pretty clear that Mark Zuckerberg is actively trying to avoid this by hearing views from across the political spectrum, and refusing to police free speech. Perhaps his staff should try to limit their own bias by being more tolerant of a wide range of perspectives.