Solve the problem, or just continue to complain about it? According to Dalrymple at Taki’s Magazine, finding a solution to life’s problems is often not as satisfying as we might suppose:
…the fact is that there is something profoundly comforting and enjoyable about complaint. It can continue indefinitely, whereas a solution occurs but once and destroys the problem forever. Once one has—as I have—reached a certain age, one does not like change, and solution to a problem means change. And change confronts one with one’s mortality.
Read it here
Arguing for leniency toward criminals, especially those who have confessed and expressed remorse, would seem to serve the cause of compassion. But what if the crimes are as depraved as those of Myra Hindley’s?
What does it mean for someone to say, “I now realize that kidnapping and torturing to death small children is wrong, and I deeply regret having done it”? She was comparatively young at the time of the commission of her acts, no doubt, but she knew perfectly well that they were wrong: their very wrongness, in fact, is what made them attractive to her. And how long after the commission of the acts does the realization of their wrongfulness and the regret at having done them have to be before they are deemed relevant to the question of the length or severity of punishment? Suppose they come instantaneously. Do we therefore say, “Well, that’s all right then, so long as you realize that what you did is wrong and regret having done it, we shall not punish you at all”—because to do so would be pure vengefulness?
Dalrymple at the Library of Law and Liberty
The publication of a book critical of Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) gives us another opportunity to enjoy Dalrymple’s insults of the totalitarian architect:
Like Hitler, Jeanneret wanted to be an artist, and, as with Hitler, the world would have been a better place if he had achieved his ambition. Had he been merely an artist, one could have avoided his productions if one so wished; but the buildings that he and his myriad acolytes have built unavoidably scour the retina of the viewer and cause a decline in the pleasure of his existence.
One of Jeanneret’s buildings can devastate a landscape or destroy an ancient townscape once and for all, with a finality that is quite without appeal; as for his city planning, it was of a childish inhumanity and rank amateurism that would have been mildly amusing had it remained purely theoretical and had no one taken it seriously.
Why it’s wrong to call terrorists cowardly:
The danger of using the word “cowardly” in so obviously mistaken a way is that it gives the impression that, if the attack were not cowardly, if to the contrary it were brave, it would not be as bad and indeed might even be worthy of admiration. And since to blow yourself up in a truck is conspicuously brave by comparison with what most of us would be prepared to do, it follows that these denunciations perversely invite us to consider terrorists acts as in some way admirable—which, I need hardly add, they are not.
In New English Review Dalrymple writes of the mistreatment of immigrant waiters:
I could imagine what it was like to be a waiter, but I could not imagine what it was like to be one of the fat, shaven-headed, tattooed monsters who behaved towards them in so vile a fashion….
…my sympathy and imagination, like everyone else’s, is limited. I can sympathise with waiters, servers in shops, washers-up, peasants, office cleaners, street-sweepers, dustmen, mortuary assistants, delivery men, taxi drivers, illegal immigrants, and a thousand others, but not with them. There I draw a line; and if, underlying all, they are miserable rather than evil, I can only say they are not nearly miserable enough or as miserable as they deserve.
We missed this piece from last month in New English Review, on the differences between projection, prediction and prophecy:
We love projections, however, because they always lead to immoderate (if only imaginary) results. The human mind loves the dramatic and the sensational and abhors the banal and the ordinary. La Rochefoucauld said that there is in the misfortune of our friends something not entirely displeasing; he might justly have added that there is in the contemplation of future catastrophe something extremely pleasing. No one ever gained notice by pointing out that a deleterious trend was now at an end, and that the rapid growth of a particular problem was over; but many a person has enjoyed his quarter of an hour of fame by projecting exponential growth of something or other to the point of the abyss.
That way being, of course, fraudulence:
On catching glimpses in the past of American television evangelists, it was always a cause of wonderment to me that anyone could look at or listen to them without immediately perceiving their fraudulence. This fraudulence was so obvious that it was like a physical characteristic, such as height or weight or color of hair, or alternatively like an emanation, such as body odor (incidentally, pictures of Guevara always suggest, to me at any rate, that he smelled). How could people fail to perceive it? Obviously, many did not, for the evangelists were very successful—financially, that is, the only criterion that counted for them.
On the website of the Library of Law and Liberty Dalrymple parses the arguments for and against assisted suicide:
There are many subjects on which decent people may disagree and some subjects on which a person may not entirely agree with himself, in so far as he can see both sides of an argument at the same time (assuming there to be only two sides, when often there are more).
One such subject is that of assisted suicide and euthanasia. I can easily conceive of circumstances in which I should want it for myself, and circumstances in which it would be the kindest thing for others. And yet, at the same time, I can see the objections to it.
Questioning the police and crime commissioner at a recent town meeting:
The editor of the local newspaper, the Journal (which my neighbour calls the Gerbil), piped up, ‘How many of the culprits have you actually caught?’
This question the commissioner dismissed with contempt as if it were a low blow in boxing. Surely anyone with the slightest brain could see that it is far easier to identify the victims than the culprits, and that therefore it was a far more efficient use of police time (in very short supply) to attend to the former rather than to the latter? It did not seem to have occurred to the commissioner – a Conservative, by the way – that most victims of crime would be more reassured by the arrest and punishment of the culprit than by counselling carried out by men or women in stab-proof vests.
A book about slaughterhouses raises questions about eating meat:
On the matter of animals and meat I am, as amateur psychologists would put it, conflicted, veering between the ruthless and the sentimental. In my heart, I believe that I ought to be a vegetarian, though I continue to enjoy eating meat. A couple of months ago, for example, I had the best veal chop of my life, furnished by our excellent and amiable butcher. But even while enjoying it, I knew that my enjoyment was bought at the cost of avoidable suffering.