Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Twilight of our Civilization. The New Moon of Oppressive Nannydom. The Eclipse of Freedom and Reason. Breaking Dawn of...what?

I deliberately inserted all the titles of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series into the title of this blog. Thought I'd capture a number of folks who are googling them. Dirty trick, I know, but I happen to have a comment on the series—despite never having read it (though I fully intend to, or be it possibly as an audio book) and despite not even (as of yet) having seen the first movie of the same name.

Actually my comments aren't so much on the books themselves, but on certain individuals' and organizations' reaction to them. Right now, for example, many, if eventually not all, primary schools in Queensland, Australia, and possibly other states, are pulling the series' novels from their shelves. Those kids who have them in their private possession will be discouraged—whatever that means—to bring them to school.

The public reaction has ranged from "assholes" to "bloody Nazis" to "censorship!" to "good on them for not letting our kids read this filth". Stephen King, the famous and, as it turns out, mind-numbingly small-minded author, who commented unfavorably on Meyer, her novels and her ability to write decent English, would probably approve, though not necessarily of the reasons why the books are being pulled. The reason why they are being withdrawn include that they were too 'racy' and that they 'conflicted with people's religious beliefs'.

Now here's the joke, OK? So sit down, because you're going have a hard time standing up while you're laughing at this:

(Warning: SPOILERS. Even tough I haven't read the books, I have read synopses—which BTW I have no problem with, because unlike a lot of people I have no issue with 'knowing the story', at least in outline. The essence of a story isn't contained in the plot anyway, but in the characters, and so if you happen to know the gist and even the general tenor of the ending, it isn't really a big deal.)

Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon. She's an anti-abortionist, doesn't drink or smoke, and certainly, like her main-hero vampire, doesn't believe in sex before marriage, definitely believes in God and an afterlife and has the Mormon notion that families might actually like staying together, maybe even to the extent of living together. So, there's no sex beyond kissing until she marries her vampire, and the heroine won't abort her baby and risks her own life to ensure that it can live.

That's the stuff these people really don't want primary school kids to read? Reverence for life, even if unborn. No sex before marriage. No drugs. Really valuing your family and your connection with them.

Why don't they want them to read the books, which, according to some are 'obscene' and 'filth'? Because they are racy and have sex in them? How sexy can they be, coming from a Mormon? How can they possibly instill the wrong sexual values?

Seriously, what is it with these people?

First of all, I wonder how many of these librarians, or whoever tells the librarians to 'withdraw' the books, have actually read the books? Actually I don't wonder. If more than 10% have read them, I'd be very, very surprised.

Secondly, how many of them, even if they haven't actually read the books, know as much about the author and the books' contents as I have just conveyed to you in a few words above? That would be more than 10%, I'd say. Or maybe not. And then I wonder how many of them, given that 'religious beliefs' were included in the reasons given for withdrawal—hey, should someone point out to these people, about the sexual connotations and possible interpretations about the term 'withdrawal'?—could it be that those 'religious reasons' actually relate to the author's Mormon associations? Knowing what I know about religious bigotry, I wouldn't be surprised; not at all.

And another thing about 'racy'. What's that mean anyway? People have sex? That's probably the healthiest and most satisfying activity people can possibly indulge in for recreational purposes—with due care, of course, and in today's world that's become a major issue. There are some very bad people out there. But the reason why they can exist, those 'bad people' I mean, is that we're living in such a sex-repressed society.

Don't I watch TV or movies or ads, you ask me? Well, I do, and I stand by my statement. Just because sex is out there, doesn't mean we're not repressed over it.

Things is, if we weren't repressed over it, a lot of the sex-charged ads wouldn't work, because they wouldn't have the 'naughty' factor. The sexualization of young children, and especially girls, wouldn't be half as successful for the bunch of cynical commercial exploiters who right now get a huge amount of mileage and profits out of this distasteful business. It simply wouldn't work, because 'sex' wouldn't be fashionable; again, because it would lack the 'naughty', i.e. 'forbidden', factor. Sexual predators wouldn't be able to operate with the same level of success, because kids would talk much more freely to adults they trust about it, and there would be many more such adults around; not like now, where kids are scared to even raise the topic of sex with adults, who by and large seem to have forgotten how confusing it all was for them. Or else they're still confused. Yeah, that's it, I think!

The same people who are ordering, and agreeing to having this done, the withdrawal—go on, think 'withdrawal', 'withdrawal', and I dare you to get the other connotation out of your head the next time you hear of books being 'withdrawn'!—of these books from school libraries, are thereby actually instrumental, and therefore directly responsible, for the continued existence of, and indeed the increase in, all the grim results of social sexuality-suppression I alluded to above.

They'd vehemently deny this, of course. They wouldn't even understand what I'm talking about. But their and their powers' ascendancy is indeed one of the symptoms of the twilight of certain kinds of civilization. And, yes, there is a dark new Moon of oppression of a kind that shrouds itself in nanny-state benevolence. This does indeed show the dark shadow of a major eclipse across such values as personal responsibility, liberty and the use of reason.

The only question remaining is whether this eclipse is indeed like the celestial variant. It if is inherently transient, and will ultimately be followed by a break of the dawn of something more conducive to furthering humanity's development—and if not humanity as a whole, then maybe of some parts of it, who drag themselves out of the paternalist morass which, right now, they're burying themselves in.

A final word and a disclaimer. As most of my readers will probably know, I don't hold religion in much regard. In fact I think by and large most of it is poison. But, like with all things in this life, even the things you dislike often have elements that you might find yourself surprised to share. And so, despite my ubiquitous railings against 'religioids', and despite my usually rude objections to having inflicted upon me visiting missionaries at my door, I find myself wholly on the side of a Mormon—which must surely be terminally ironic!—because I really cannot find fault with most of her values—even though my own heroines usually qualify as 'kick ass', because that's the way I like them best.

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