Often the Simplest Explanation is Best

I came across this post by Mark Steyn. It is short, so I will reprint it in toto.

I wrote recently about a small victory for freedom of speech in Canada, but, as always, it’s two steps forward, one step back. Here’s the backward one: Gai Écoute in Québec has announced the launch of the world’s first “register of homophobic acts.”

I don’t mind gay groups keeping a vast database of anonymously-reported homophobic thought-crimes if they feel that’s a productive use of their time. But it is preposterous that this sprawling directory of  cobwebbed flamer cracks and swishy-gait titters will be publicly funded by taxpayers under the Québec Government’s “action plan for the fight against homophobia,” which apparently also includes redesignating Jean-Marc Fournier, the minister of justice and attorney general, as “Minister of Justice, Attorney General, and Minister for the Fight Against Homophobia.”

As usual with these censorious types, “act” is defined with the broadest of brushes to include “moquerie blessante” (offensive mockery) and “couverture médiatique inappropriée” (inappropriate media coverage). The right to mock and be “inappropriate” are about as basic to a free society as any, so nuts to that.

To announce the launch of their secret files of inappropriate mockers, the leaders of Gai Écoute were flanked by Montréal Police Chief Inspector Johanne Paquin and Commander Alain Gagnon. In a sane world, no self-respecting gay would attend such an event. The fact that this sight — policemen publicly announcing a dossier of dissident citizens suspected of thought crimes to the approval of supposedly “liberal” “progressive” groups — is now entirely normal in Western societies is far more disturbing than any problem they purport to be addressing. To modify an ancient joke, how do you make a fruit cordial? Evidently, it’s a lot harder than it used to be. You can have that one for free, lads — just in case things are a bit quiet on the homophobia-epidemic front.

PS I’ll be interested to see how much room the database has for persons of a, ahem, certain background who say things like “all male homosexuals should be killed for their deviant behavior.”

Those of you too finger-weary to click through the link, allow me to present the highlight of the opinion piece to which it refers:

Philips, a Saudi-educated cleric, … is considered controversial because he is on the record saying that all male homosexuals should be killed for their deviant behaviour…

Shortly after his sermon about the importance of gratitude, Philips clarified his views on homosexuality in a one-on-one interview.

In short, he only thinks homosexuals should be executed in Muslim countries and only after four people have witnessed the homosexual act.

“The media tends to take my words out of context,” Philips said.

My comment: As a science fiction writer, I am well aware that there are certain absurdities too absurd for any reader to take seriously should I put them in a space opera.

For example, if I were inventing some Orwellian dystopia where the state, in the name of aiding the poor to afford health care, should instead as its very first public act command the Roman Catholic Church institutions like universities and soup kitchens and orphanages to purchase abortifacients, contraceptives, and fund sterilization procedures; and when the Catholics, as their holy teaching commands, refused to participate in this abhorrent sin, the state called it a “war against women” — no reader would believe such a far fetched scenario, absurd to the point of comedy.

The readers might believe that the cowed and ignorant slaves of Airstrip One would call killing babies in the womb a ‘health’ practice performed by ‘doctors’, but only in the same way the readers accept the dark and morbid humor of Orwell, where Big Brother blithely calls ignorance strength and war peace.

An practice which calls itself a success when and only when the baby is born dead can be called many things, but not a ‘health’ practice.

But no reader would imagine that anyone, no matter how cowed or craven or insane, could with a straight face call the polite refusal of churchmen to hand over their own money to fund and support the fornications and abominations and infanticides of the giddy whores of whoreland an act of war against womanhood.

Such polite refusal has killed fewer women than Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick by a ratio of one to zero, or, in other words, an infinite ratio.

No reader would believe that anyone could say or could believe the perfect nonsense of calling the refusal to aid and abet in harlotry or self-mutilation or child-murder an act of bloodthirsty military aggression against the harlot child-murderesses. Not the outlawing of the fornication or aborticide, mind you, and not even the public denunciation of either: merely the refusal to pay money for those who freely and voluntarily join a Catholic University or Hospital or Charity to violate deeply held Catholic moral teachings.

And this, not as the first public expression of, say, the Plenary Porcine Right to Copulate Act of 2001, or the Atheist Anticlerical Empowerment Act of 2008 but instead as the first public expression of an Act allegedly meant to lower the cost of doctor and hospital visits to the ragged orphans from Oliver Twist or the penniless Okies from Grapes of Wrath. Visits to the cathouse or to the confessional booth do not seem to be anywhere in the scope of the debate.

And yet, somehow, by some odd coincidence, the first thing done by this benevolent law was to have an unelected bureaucrat arbitrarily decide to command the Church to trample the crucifix.

Now, of course, as a science fiction writer, my whole art and craft is to take some manifest absurdity, such as time travel or faster than light drive, and give the reader’s imagination some excuse to exercise a willing suspension of disbelief.

In this case, the reader might be willing to believe the Orwellian absurdity if the story at the outset postulated two counterfactual premises:

First, all the characters involved in the tale, small and great, and all their ancestors back to their first parents suffer some severe and radical depravity which both corrupts the moral sense and darkens the intellect, so that whole political parties and nations and peoples and ages of history can be led into hysteria and madness, neurosis and depravity while at the same time congratulating themselves with excessive self-adulation on their enlightenment and clearheadedness.

I mean, as a science fiction writer, I can postulate an entire race of creatures with radically unstable and self destructive psychology, can I not?  Country of the Blind, or a Nation of Cowards, or a Fallen World?

Second, and because readers love Hitchcockian paranoid thrillers, the tale could postuate a master spy or super-villain of immense, nay, superhuman intelligence and power bending the wills of his victims, even without their conscious knowledge, against the one institution in the West which has always opposed him. As a crowning irony, this Dark Lord could be so subtle as to rob the current generation of knowledge of his existence, despite that all the fathers and all the beloved leaders and founders of days past knew of this Dark Lord and hated him.

More brilliant than any Bond villain planning to ignite a supervolcano or unleash a bioterror plague, this mastermind can get his enemies to destroy each other. For the purpose of drama, we can take an extreme case:

On the one side, we have ardent homosexual activists who (and here the reader will have to stretch his imagination to swallow the incongruity) regard the practice of an unnatural vice as a race or nation, like the Negro or the Irish, so that the practice chastity and decency created by natural affection can be regarded as oppression, the theft of a civil right akin to the Democrat Party’s Jim Crow laws, or even an oppression akin to the slavery in the in Democrat Party’s Antebellum South.

Naturally, since the activists see themselves as facing universal condemnation, which they interpret to be not concern for the welfare of decency and society, including their own, but as an incomprehensible and cosmic conspiracy against them, they will scruple at nothing to defend themselves from what seems to them an irrational yet all-powerful opposition. Their first resort will be to “strong arm” tactics, special laws to protect them, special prosecutors, nay, inquistors to ferret out the enemies who lurk in every nook and shadow. Since the activists are rebelling against nature herself, they will be constantly surprised at how pervasive the opposition to them is. To them, the normal world will seem an endless throng of brain eating zombies, implacable and beyond any power of reason to reach.

So, naturally, the first enemy of the activist will be the centers of moral probity: the Boy Scouts, the Christian churches, and particularly the Catholic Church.

However, despite the overblown rhetoric of the activists, the Boy Scouts do not stone homosexuals to death. There is another group that does this.

Our Dark Lord, at least in this story, can erect a false prophet to announce a religion remarkably akin to Christianity but without the Christ, the redemption, or the humanity. We can call this heresy “the Submission” because the peoples regard themselves as slaves of God rather than sons. The Submitters can be homicidal maniacs who live in a constant foam of rage, eager to knife film makers or behead journalists, or any who oppose the imposition of an inhuman theocracy called Sharia Law on all all mankind.

Now, one would think the bloodthirsty religious maniacs and the paranoiac secular activists would be the worst enemies in the world, since they oppose each other violently at every point but, in this tale, we have to come up with some reason that they make a common cause with each other and gang up against the West in general, Christianity in particular, and the Catholic Church especially.

Of course in our story, we have already set up the explanation at the outset: the innate depravity of man, which we might call a genetic defect or (to use an older language which means much the same thing) an original sin; and this is combined with the malice of a superhuman and implacable enemy of God and Man.

But here is a question for my readers of any persuasion.

1. Do you think that persons of an, ahem, certain background are going into that database in Quebec? More imams than bishops? Really?

2. For those of you who do not believe the tale, the one true tale of the world which makes sense of the world, what account can be you make of the repeated pattern that the efforts of the activists ignore the efforts of the maniacs, but instead concentrate on the Holy Mother Church, as if she, rather than each other, were the frightening formidable enemy of both?

How do you account for it?

If you cannot account for it, I suggest you examine your axioms, question your unquestioned assumptions, and find a philosophy, or, to be precise, a faith, which forms and accurate and explicable model of the word.

You know your model is inaccurate when it cannot, you know, serve as a model to explain what it purports to explain.