Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

09/18/2008 (5:55 am)

4chan Geeks Erode Culture

Michelle Malkin posted an email from a helpful 4chan geek explaining how it came to pass that Sarah Palin’s email account was hacked and its contents made partly available to the world. It’s worth reading for a couple of reasons. One, it introduces the uninitiated to the world of 4chan, which is widespread enough to be worth knowing about. Two, it lets us know what’s in the minds of unthinking teenagers, a sort of random window into the product of modern education.

For those waiting for the punchline, it does not appear even remotely likely that the Obama campaign had anything to do with the incident. It may be the case that Obama employs nasty, talented hackers, but they did not do this. This was a dumb kid.

That being said, this incident is frightening for a good reason. American culture is virtue-free. There remains practically no place in ordinary culture where a young person learns ordinary virtue. Things like respect for private property, common courtesy, honor, kindness, and honesty have no champions in our culture. They’re not taught by some parents, they’re not taught in schools, they’re not in the popular media, they’re not in the books, TV shows, or movies kids watch — and as a consequence, they’re not in most kids, either. What’s taught in schools as “virtue” is actually leftist politics, sans ordinary morals. The kids are hard leftists by default, but with no moral limits, and that’s how they behave.

You should read the account of the hack, and then notice all the moral failures that occur along the way. Here’s what I caught:

  • He really was looking for some way to discredit Sarah Palin. This child, with no more brains or awareness than the eraser on a pencil, hates Sarah Palin enough to want to destroy her. Somebody taught him that.
  • He genuinely, completely seriously expected there would be something incriminating in her personal email. These kids actually believe the world is like the grade Z movies they watch, where all Republicans are evil corporate orcs plotting to destroy the planet. That’s all they’ve ever seen of the world; there’s no place where they can see or hear an alternative point of view.
  • He knew perfectly well that what he was doing was illegal. He did it anyway.
  • When he decided to stop doing the illegal act, it was because he might suffer, not because it was wrong in any way.
  • Even though there was nothing incriminating in Palin’s personal files, he wanted to post them in a public place anyway. Because, you know, it’s funny to make other people hurt.
  • He really, really hates the guy who let Gov. Palin know what was going on. Telling on him was lame.

Some of the moral failures in the list, above, are the sort of thing kids can fall into simply by being human. The problem is, though, there’s no general instruction showing them how to govern those human impulses with sound moral reasoning. The only moral instruction they get is the kind that says “It’s bad to hate black people, and we have to protect the planet.” Never “you should do what’s right for right’s sake, not because it makes you better than someone else.” Never “virtue is its own reward.” Never “an honest man is never poor.” Never “if you want to know what’s wrong with the world, the first place to look is in the mirror.” Parents act shocked and surprised when their kids don’t display ordinary virtue; these parents need to be confronted with “Where would they have learned ordinary virtue, if you did not explicitly drum it into their heads? Did you suppose they were going to learn virtue by osmosis?”

The point is that hard leftists have positioned themselves to reproduce their own type by default. They own all the information points in the culture, so all the kids ever hear are leftist rants. Plus, they’ve intimidated parents into backing off from actively teaching virtue to their kids. Parents do not want to sound like out-of-touch losers the way the movies paint them and their kids accuse them of being. Parents back off so their kids can “make up their own minds.” Parents defer to cultural “experts” who assure them that their kids lack of control is normal developmental stuff. It takes courage for a parent to actually intervene in their kid’s life, and few sources are encouraging parents to acquire that courage for that task. The end result is that we’re surrounded by budding, virtueless leftists.

No, this is not just another “Old guy decrying the alarming behavior of ‘kids these days’. You may dismiss me in this manner if you like, but you do so at the peril of us all. It’s really pretty simple: if nobody is teaching virtue, kids will not learn it. Virtue is hard stuff. You can’t catch it like you catch a cold. It doesn’t come unbidden from the sky. You have to learn it and then work at it. If there’s no place a person can learn about virtue in our culture, then it’s gone.

Tell me, where might one go these days and just incidentally hear “You should be kind to strangers?”

What Hillary Clinton meant by “It takes a village to raise a child” was that we should allow the government to raise our children for us; that’s neo-Marxist garbage. However, the phrase itself, when used by wise observers rather than power-seeking politicians, explains something both true and crucial. It’s not enough that parents teach their children ordinary good behavior, even when that’s happening. Kids need to hear consistent messages outside their homes, in their communities, at their schools, on their TVs and Ipods, if the messages are going to stick. Every one of us has some responsibility to train children in ordinary virtue. We each must make the message of virtue part of the culture again, or virtue will vanish.

And while we’re at it, we might want to get behind the latest vouchered education initiative, to wrest control of our kids’ minds from the leftists who are indoctrinating them to think of Sarah Palin as an orc to be destroyed in order to save the planet.

« « With Apologies, the Blame Game | Main | Bailout Fever » »


September 18, 2008 @ 7:35 am #

Tell me, where might one go these days and just incidentally hear “You should be kind to strangers?”

Try the Boy Scouts. They are reviled by the hard left, but trust me, they are much too busy with their various projects to have the time to worry about whether someone is or isn’t gay.

No conservative or leftist agenda, it’s totally apolitical at the troop level, which is all I can authoritatively speak for.

My son will spend this Saturday on a cleanup of a natural area with his scout troop. And he passed up an opportunity to spend the day sailing so he could participate. There are some positive values being passed along.

September 18, 2008 @ 8:33 am #

Try the Boy Scouts.

They’re trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Or so they say. I remember.

Boy Scouts are an artifact of an earlier, more decent era.

Thanks for reminding me. And “good on ya” for having the wisdom to involve you kid in them. I did not, but I should have.

September 18, 2008 @ 10:37 am #

Hillary’s other book was ‘My Struggle’.


September 18, 2008 @ 10:40 am #

What Hillary Clinton meant by “It takes a village to raise a child” was that we should allow the government to raise our children for us…

Unbelievable. You are so blinded by your hatred of all things Democratic that you’ll even spin the most benign statements to their hyperbolic worst-case.

How could you POSSIBLY come to that conclusion? Have you read the book? What she talks about – at LENGTH – is the ways in which Government currently hinders that ideal, and also ways in which the Government could provide support to help those in unsafe neighborhoods obtain it, so that we PROTECT OUR OWN FUTURE. She’s not talking about frogmarching children into Government-owned training facilities, as your ‘Neo-Marxist’ blather suggests.

You’re lamenting about the decline of positive examples for youth, and yet in the very same post, you blast her for trying to do so. At least she’s doing something about it instead of someone sitting on their ass blaming everything on Liberals.

September 18, 2008 @ 10:43 am #

Leftists have long believed it is all right to ignore laws they don’t agree with. If someone on the Right did that ….. WELL!… THAT’s another matter!

September 18, 2008 @ 11:38 am #

How could you POSSIBLY come to that conclusion?

Hmmm… might it have had something to do with her proposals during the attempt by the Clinton administration to nationalize health care, that included oversight of early childhood parenting by government-appointed health care professionals?

Might it have had something to do with her famous and well-documented support for children’s rights against their parents, and for her vigorous advocacy (prior to becoming First Lady) of making family into a political and governmental concern?

Might it have had something to do with her concurrent advocacy for policies that expand federally-controlled child care and the pushing of more women into the workforce?

Ray, I don’t do anything – EVER – out of hatred. My positions are carefully considered and based on available evidence. Do not ever accuse me of that again.

Now, here’s my question for you. I’ve asked it before, and you have not answered:

Why should I believe a single word of what a politician says — ANY politician, but especially one named “Clinton” — who has deliberately chosen positions in an attempt to remake their image for the sake of electoral politics? Some politicians clearly take positions based almost entirely on what the public wants to see, regardless of their own beliefs; the Clintons are famous for this. Such politicians have not only lied, they’ve lied REPEATEDLY and SYSTEMATICALLY. How can you take a book like “It Takes a Village” as evidence of anything other than a desire to change a public image? Why should I not believe the evidence of their formative years outside of national scrutiny as a better indicator of their real positions than their carefully crafted public images? And why are leftists so damned gullible when it comes to the advertising of political candidates? Don’t you guys know when you’re being lied to?

September 18, 2008 @ 12:27 pm #

In other words, they promote views that the public wants. Far be it for the term ‘public servant’ to actually mean anything in your jaded world.

Look around you with eyes that aren’t from the 50s for once. She’s advocating for positions that help the people who are getting hammered by the current problems with society.

Like it or not, we are living in a country where most people can’t survive on one income – many require two incomes, and for single mothers with children, it’s often simply not possible to stay at home and take care of the children.

Yet, in your view of the world as an angry, disingenuous place, all you see is the Clintons as enemies, who somehow will reveal their forked tongues only when they have conquered all and the country is their willing servants.

It’s all crap, Phil. They helped us expand the economy during their time in office by focusing their efforts on those who were hit hardest during the Reagan and Bush years. You said yourself, all that the EITC expansion did was ‘shift some money into poor areas.’ And that’s EXACTLY RIGHT, Phil. In GOP-land, those people will continually be left behind, which drags our economy down and the taxpayers end up footing the bill because they can’t afford health care and even welfare.

I’m not some pie-in-the-sky idealist. You routinely dismiss my comments as just that, or worse, as some ‘socialist agenda’. I understand that there’s a helluva lot of work to do for everyone, I do not expect people to sit on their asses and collect government checks.

But I expect my politicians to understand that the society we live in has outpaced our ability for everyone to live the American Dream over the past 50 years. It is currently not economically feasible for everyone to do so, and worse, they are hit hardest by some aspects of the economy which are almost entirely out of their control.

The Free Market game doesn’t reach those who are at the lowest rungs of our economy. They are forced – FORCED, yes, I said it, because ‘busing them to another country’ isn’t an option – to struggle to make ends meet, and are consistently one missed payment or one unexpected expense away from being out on the street. But really, you don’t care about them. You really don’t.

And maybe Clinton doesn’t either. But at least they understand that they won’t get elected unless they do something to help get people to elevate themselves on the economic ladder, and if that means tackling Health Care costs, or helping people with daycare while they work (because God knows how loud you’d bitch if we simply gave them money to stay at home and raise their kids), then so be it. Again, she’s doing something.

Look at how the country improved under their watch, and look at how it’s declined since they left. I’m not simply talking about the economy.

September 18, 2008 @ 12:52 pm #


That is part of the problem. When you talk about promoting views that the public wants: sure, it has a quick visceral appeal when a politician says, “We need to help the poor and most downtrodden among us”. Especially when he or she says that we can accomplish this and still provide a middle class tax cut at the same time.

But then reality hits the fan, and even though the politician has “worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life”, the tax cut can’t be done at this time. Instead, the government is going to ask the rest of us to make an “investment” or a “contribution”.

I’m not so sure – at least not as sure as you – that this is what the public really wants.

September 18, 2008 @ 12:59 pm #

Oh, to answer your question: “Look at their results.” They campaigned to help those who have been overlooked by the Reagan/Bush years, and they did. They helped drop the poverty rate by 25% during the Clinton years (which, by the way, has risen steadily since they left, so that it’s almost back to where it was when they took office), they created an economy where the working poor had enough buying power that they could afford luxury items (which PCs were back then, thus helping to make PCs commonplace and the resulting explosion of the internet), and they struck compromises with Republicans to get Welfare Reform passed.

They made a HELL OF A LOT more compromises with the other side than Bush has, I’ll tell you that much.

Why can’t you accept ‘Village’ as a politician’s view as to why the current system isn’t working, and what she would do to help get it working again? Why does it have to be some subversive PR attempt? No one reads books anyways, why go through the trouble?

Oh, sorry, I forgot who I was talking to. Of COURSE it’s simply an effort to get people talking about her; she’s an egomaniac. No, there’s no possibility that a politician could actually be attempting to promote policy. No chance at all.

What policies have they shifted positions on in an effort to simply drive electoral politics? What did they promise that they’d try to achieve that they did NOT try to achieve? Where are these lies that you’re suggesting they carried out? If their ideals don’t reflect the population’s ideals, are they suddenly disqualified from governing for what the population wants?

So, Phil, you’re obviously down on the Clintons about remaking their image – whatever happened to ‘Uniter, not a divider?’

September 18, 2008 @ 1:05 pm #


That’s why they are elected officials – if they make good on their word, then they become re-elected.

George H.W. Bush: ‘Read my lips, no new taxes.’ Then he raised taxes. And he was defeated for re-election. (The collapse of the Reagan economy didn’t help, either.)

Clinton’s first two years weren’t viewed as a success, thus the ’94 takeover of Congress by the Republicans. But by ’96, it was clear that Clinton’s economic policies were helping, thus he was re-elected.

September 18, 2008 @ 1:06 pm #


Well said on the Boy Scouts, they really truly are an artifact of an earlier, more decent time.

At every formal meeting the Scoutmaster has a “Scoutmaster’s Minute” in which he gives a brief 2-3 minute presentation on arcane subjects such as doing a good turn, or how the kids should reach out to someone who isn’t considered “cool” or who is “different”, or resisting peer pressure, etc.

The kids aren’t perfect, they are teenage boys after all. But they are decent kids, a pleasure to be around, and many of the older ones are simply outstanding citizens. My son’s Scoutmasters are, simply put, some of the best human beings I’ve ever had the good fortune to know.

I’ve been involved since my son was a Cub Scout at various levels and it has only done good things for him. And my life has been vastly enriched as well.

Sad that this type of institution is actually derided or even a target of destruction by some.

September 18, 2008 @ 1:15 pm #


Agreed that the good economy was the primary reason for Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection. Perception is all, though. As I recall it, Pres. Clinton had to compromise or “triangulate” counter to what he truly believed or wanted to do, as per Dick Morris’ successful reelection strategy. For example, I remember welfare reform was something he signed on to kicking and screaming, rather than a case of compromising so he could get something he wanted to do accomplished.

September 18, 2008 @ 1:27 pm #

No, Bill Clinton has a storied history of taking on the far-left of his party.

The ‘Sister Souljah’ moment was regarded by the left as a PR stunt, then after he was elected, they were stunned when he didn’t capitulate to their views on gays in the military (granted that ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ doesn’t have much to be proud of on either side, but it’s a good example of him attempting to govern from the middle). Then he approved NAFTA, which REALLY riled the far-left Democrats.

September 18, 2008 @ 1:36 pm #

Oh, and RM, ‘kicking and screaming’ is what the Democrats did when Clinton didn’t veto the bill for a third time. Clinton, again, decided that there was enough good in that version of the bill that offset not getting ‘all’ of what he wanted.

If that’s not compromise, I don’t know what is.

September 18, 2008 @ 4:57 pm #

[…] Plumb Bob Blog » In Case You Were Wondering […]

September 18, 2008 @ 6:13 pm #

But really, you don’t care about them. You really don’t.

I care more in my little finger than liberal shits like you do in your entire lives. And I know this, because I know how much I PRETENDED to care back when I was one of you — with other peoples’ money, and never lifting my own finger to do anything except fiddle with politics — and I know how much I care now, and what I do PERSONALLY with MY OWN FUCKING MONEY AND TIME. I’m no longer a thief like you, doing “good” for people with other peoples’ money, in ways that actually harm them.

You’ve crossed a line here. You have no right to tell me what I care about and what I don’t. You’re not just wrong, you’re a self-righteous prick with no manners, completely unable to see a human being outside of your own bigoted point of view. I will not converse with you any longer.

September 18, 2008 @ 7:50 pm #

Psshh. How many hours in a soup kitchen have you volunteered for, Phil? How many years did YOU spend in low-rent housing while your single-mother-studying-to-get-into-law-school wasn’t home because she was working two jobs? How many years on welfare have YOU lived, Phil?

I’ve had this very same argument with you, years before, and you exploded in much the same way. I wonder what happened to you that makes me questioning the politics you support – that JUST SO HAPPEN to routinely fuck over the very poor – such a volatile subject.

You may not tell me my experience with the poor. I was one of them for a long, long time. Tell you what, YOU go volunteer in a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter, once a week, and listen to people’s stories who you meet there. Then try supporting the policies you currently support.

September 19, 2008 @ 3:59 am #

Zanzibar —

When one brags about one’s charitable acts, one was probably doing them mostly to be noticed, or to look good in one’s own eyes. My religion frowns on such behavior, so I’m not going engage in a contest comparing charitable acts; it was foolish of me to bring it up. Yes, I’ve done soup kitchens, I’ve done Habitat houses, I’ve also done a lot of one-on-one stuff that I’m not going to describe further. Life isn’t a contest where we try to pile up good deeds and then beat each other over the head with them.

It was wrong of me to react that way to your comment, and I apologize for doing it. The correct response would have been to note, instead, that the standard liberal interpretation of conservatism as “they just don’t care” is not only the least charitable interpretation from a number of possibilities, but also a remarkably self-serving conceit. It also happens to be false. I do not “routinely f*** over the poor.” I routinely HELP the poor. I also routinely try to keep the government from f***ing over the poor. I don’t really consider that charitable activism, but probably I should.

You actually think I’ve never seen poverty, let alone lived it. You’re wrong. I’ve been there, too — ghetto apartment, long-term unemployment, roaches running over the kids’ beds, driving a 12-year-old car with the hood tied down, no money to keep the lights on, the works. So what? Do you genuinely believe that the only person who could ever be a conservative is one who has never felt poverty, nor seen it? You really have not the slightest idea who your political opponents are. You should actually get to know us. We’re not what you think we are.

Enough. Any further discussion of personal issues will be deleted. If you want to discuss this further, send me email.

September 19, 2008 @ 5:19 am #

My political evolution matched my economic one. I worked my ass off to get to where I could support my family on one paycheck, so my then-wife could stay home with the kids. I worked and went to school. I worked two, and sometimes three jobs in order to be productive. I found a better job and worked at it, and am still there 20 years later.

You want to know how the village works? My in-laws helped with child care when we needed it. My wife worked second shift when she worked so that one of us was home most of the time. That’s why we stayed in the smaller town, when I work in a larger one. That’s why I commute 50 miles, because I’d rather live here, where I could afford a house, and where all of her family were.

The harder I worked, and the more I earned, the more that went into the government maw. I can accept a need for some social programs, but I can do a much better job of providing for my immediate family with my own money, and so can most of America. We don’t need someone else to take our money, and give it to someone else, especially to those nameless poor others seem to care so much about. I’ve been poor, and I didn’t like it, so I did something about it. There’s nothing much stopping any other poor person from bettering themselves than their own work ethic. If you show up on time and work hard, you will be rewarded. It really is that simple. If you can’t do that, then why should I help you out?

And by the way, most local charity is done by the churches in a community. Locals know they can go to a church and get food or money to tide them over. Church members know they can count on their fellow congregants to pitch in when they need something. That’s the village in action.

September 19, 2008 @ 8:53 am #


I agree ENTIRELY with your post. But I’ll point out that you had two incomes, exactly according to my point. There’s an entire class of people that live in run-down urban areas that can’t afford to live elsewhere yet have only one income – single mothers. THEIR village is entirely unsafe, and their children are growing up alone in it because Mom is working an extra shift. Who are THEIR role-models? The drug dealer down the street who rolls up in his Mercedes?


I’m sorry if I came off as ‘bragging.’ I was incensed about you suggesting that I am doing works with ‘other peoples’ money.’

September 19, 2008 @ 12:50 pm #

I’m sorry if I came off as ‘bragging.’

I wasn’t actually saying that you did, although I can see how you would take my comment to mean that. We were both going down a road leading to “mine’s bigger than yours” sorts of claims, which is just too infantile to pursue. I started it (not really meaning to), so I decided to end it. Call it my bad. But please don’t tell me I don’t care; I do care.

I can’t say anything about what you do with your time, Ray, because I simply don’t know. Good on ya for whatever you do yourself.

However, I regard advocating charity with tax dollars as attempting to help the poor with other peoples’ money, as it uses government-enforced collection to distribute charity according to your view of proper charitable action. You can say whatever you like about religious people and their coercive impulses, but nothing we do compares in sheer, tyrannical impact to the left’s impulse to force us all to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to their favorite charities by way of our income taxes. (This is entirely apart from consideration of whether those charities actually do any good.)

I will probably write tomorrow about the road I followed leading from liberalism to conservatism, so you’ll probably have a better explanation then. Until then, however, note that I have no objection whatsoever to justice for the poor where justice has been denied, nor do I object to empowering the poor where they truly need power. My objection is to empowering the government. The basis of my objection is that government activism almost invariably hurts the people it’s intending to help, increases corruption and bureaucracy which is inherently dehumanizing, and removes all our liberties in the process. I regard individual liberty as a greater imperative than any sort of economic benefit could ever be, and I regard economic liberty and property rights, including the right to keep one’s wages, as inseparable from individual liberty.

I suppose there are conservatives who truly don’t care about the poor (you’ll probably find them among the Objectivists, devotees of Ayn Rand,) but I don’t know any personally.

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