Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When Deviance Becomes the Norm

Until I can convince my friend Jack Niewold to start his own blog, I'll just have to keep posting his columns here. At least a few of them anyhow -- they're just too good to go without the attention of a larger audience. Yes, those of you on Facebook can "Friend" jack and read his stuff there. But for those of you who are afraid of Facebook (and not without reason, I might add), you'll have to find the occasional Niewold commentary over here. The one I print below is "The Road to Costco."

Today after church as my wife and I were driving to Costco for the weekly shopping, we saw a young dark man on the sidewalk: no shirt, red headband, kerchief around his neck, tight jeans, tattooed torso, cigarette, swagger, general defiance—in short, as the Hispanics of the Central Valley of California would call him, a Cholito.

Victor Davis Hanson sometimes tells of a not-so-hypothetical general surgeon at a Tulare or Fresno hospital forced off of a downtown sidewalk and threatened by a group of such individuals, the same surgeon who, later that night, will perform a pro bono procedure on one of those men—now stabbed in a knife fight—in order to save his life.

The questions of citizenship or insurability are never even raised in such situations.  To do so may well be a crime.

A few moments later, we rolled into the parking lot and got out of the car, when we heard a portly lady nearby complaining loudly that the store wouldn’t give her a refund on a package of cakes. A package of cakes? Well, we inquired, why wouldn’t they do so? “Because I don’t have a Costco card! Do you think that’s right? Why would they require me to have a card?”

Well, duh, we thought, of course you’d have to have a card, especially if you didn’t have a receipt. At Costco, as everybody knows, you have to have a card just to get in the door. My wife and I exchanged incredulous blank glances similar to those Internet animations with the funny voices, and walked off, wondering what else we’d see during our great shopping adventure.

It occurs to me, based on these passing scenes and a multitude of others like them, that there are two kinds of societies: those primarily safe for normalcy, and those primarily safe for deviancy. Most democratic societies strike a balance, but up until recently the civilized West has favored normalcy over deviancy. That is no longer the case; deviancy now threatens to overwhelm the normal.

Try speaking out against almost any kind of deviancy, and you may face possible hate crimes charges. Speak out against normalcy, and you are considered “cool.”

These days we’re expected to show equal respect to anyone or anything that wanders into the Star Wars Cantina that our culture has become.

I know, I know, the good progressive will at this point actually look up from his light-emitting diode and ask in a voice both wise and weary, “Who’s to define what’s normal, and what’s deviant?”

The question itself is an example of deviance. No society has ever survived where a  permissible range of human behaviors expanded without limits. The glories of the secular democracies has always been their ability to both foster and to assimilate dissent, nonconformity and aberration. The death of those same societies is ensured when they no longer recognize where moral boundaries lie. 

Of course, we all know the difference between normalcy and deviancy, even when we’re too intimidated to admit it. (So completely have we internalized multicultural agnosticism.) Still, the wanabee gangbanger is deviant, no matter how you romanticize him. The clueless woman is deviant, no matter how you might want to identify with her small-minded populism.

What’s different today is that we have a pop culture, a legal system, an educational establishment, and even a presidential administration directed towards enshrining the rights of deviants while deriding or penalizing the normal. This can’t end well.