Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Regression to the Mean

I know a fella who is certainly one of the most habitually vulgar non-teenagers I've met. Sweet guy, but there it is. Admittedly my circle of acquaintances is small, so perhaps he skews only slightly to that extreme, on an absolute scale. But I live in a relativistic universe, where my opinion is second only to God's. The other day this fellow asked me point blank if his reflexively gay-oriented humor bothered me. It was, uh, a straight question, so I gave him an honest answer. "It's too much. Just too much. Constant. It gets old." Then I said, "But it's not your job to please me. Except sexually, bitch." And he laughed, and said, "You know, you've just undone everything you said." I'm sure I retained an enigmatic silence.

But that was my intention. I'm done with being anyone else's conscience. I didn't want to be his crossing guard, so that every time he bellowed out his go-to yer a fag responses, he'd have at the back of his mind the thought that I was there, disapproving. I hardly care about anything. One tiresome thing is about the same as another. Maybe put-down humor is something that one really does, eventually, grow out of. I did, right after high school. That was the last time I had a consistent peer group. Remove the stimulus and the response becomes extinct. I might make some half-hearted stab at it nowadays, just to fit in, but what a bore. This fella, I suspect, has maintained the same set of friends, so there wasn't a need to change behaviours.

We have a right to be obnoxious, of course. Of course. I mean, we have the theoretical right. We have the counterbalancing right to respond to obnoxiousness as we reasonably see fit, and thus there is a self-correcting social mechanism which ensures that behaviour regresses to the mean. It generally averages out. Even if it doesn't, though, we have the right to be obnoxious. This truth used to be self-evident, and its occlusion is the reason that some large number of Americans are so annoyed by the Leftist totalitarian dogma of political correctness. You must think only approved thoughts, or you are evil.

It boils down to the fact that there is something in which we actually do have absolute freedom. Certainly not in actions. According to the best precepts of jurisprudence, the rights of one person end where they interfere with the rights of another. The fact that there are inevitable gray areas is irrelevant to the overarching truth of this self-evident reality. But in the realm of conscience, every man is king. I have a right to be a bigot, and a racist, and a fool. One might say, and rightly, that I have a greater duty, to be generous and loving -- but that assertion is itself a function of conscience.

There is no arguing with alien systems of ethics. The axioms are contradictory. A slave who accepts his bondage cannot aspire to freedom -- to attempt even to explain the concept would be futile. It's like arguing religion with an atheist. What a waste of time. Religionists make the mistake all the time. There is no point in quoting scripture to someone who rejects the authority of scripture, for all that God's word does not return empty. God's word condemns, as much as it redeems.

For our purposes, all of that is irrelevant. What is relevant is that only conduct can be compelled, and never conscience. Every man is the god of the universe within his head. It's only when he leaves his head, only when he dies, that his kingdom of dreams must shatter upon an unyielding and higher reality. My point is that people will believe what they will, and it's almost by chance that they are convinced of a new truth enough for them to change. Convictions are just opinions that have stopped moving.

I fancy that I am uniquely qualified to expound upon this topic -- of how conscience cannot be coerced. I have planted myself in my convictions, and borne the bitter fruit of it. For this, I do not urge others to the same course. The price is ruinous. The price of not doing so is also ruinous. Doing the former makes one a fool. Doing the latter makes one a cad or a coward, or if such concepts are outside one's moral purview, then it makes one a ... well, I'm afraid I can't resist: it makes one a pc hypocrite. None of that's quite it though. I'm trying to think of how do describe you. It'll come to me. But we were talking about me, and what a fool I am.

As I've previously noted in sundry places, I do seem to be done with being a father. I did it so well. I loved it. I'm bitter about how it ended. I've retreated into myself, and grown into a silent reserve that I break mostly with awkward and obvious babblings. But as I say, I hardly care about anything. As for this exuberantly vulgar fellow I've referred to, it's not hard to see the cliché of his anger beneath the humor. Same as me, thirty years ago, when I was incapable of making a sincere response, and everything, always, unrelentingly, was a deflection or a misdirection. I don't seem to be able to pick up that armor, nowadays. It was useful, socially, but it just doesn't fit anymore.

As for you, I've thought of what it is. Self-protected. You know it's true. It's true of you, because it's true of everyone. That seems to be the mean, to which we all, almost all, regress.



JT said...

That was sooo gay!

Jack H said...

How vulgar.