January 25, 2015

Now Playing

(Reviewed August 29, 2014)

A portrait of modern sanctity which — very oddly, in my view — asks not to be taken too seriously

(Reviewed August 27, 2014)

The movie it took twelve years to make — about a childhood that appears to be taking much, much longer

America: Imagine the World Without Her
(Reviewed July 31, 2014)

Another foray by Dinesh D’Souza into the lists in order to break a lance on President Obama — and Howard Zinn. At least the latter is effectively unhorsed.

(Reviewed June 30, 2014)

An austerely beautiful film by the Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski that could hardly be a greater departure from his earlier My Summer of Love

ENTRY from December 23, 2014

Leftie Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post’s amusingly named "Post-Partisan" blog is all in a lather because the wife of the national president of Phi Kappa Psi has written a letter to the fraternity at large, members of which at the University of Virginia have been falsely accused of gang rape by Rolling Stone magazine, telling them that "it’s the perfect time to focus our efforts on being gentlemen who are courteous and cultured and showing respect to others." Who, you might ask, could find fault with that? Come to think of it, you probably wouldn’t ask, since it’s no surprise to find that Mr Capehart does. He claims to have been reminded by the word "gentlemen" in conjunction with this non-rape of a rape that actually did take place by a member of the same fraternity 30 years ago. When the perpetrator came to trial for it 20 years later, his lawyer tried to excuse him by saying that he had been guilty only of "a thoughtless college sex encounter during which he acted ungentlemanly."

"Rape," thunders Mr Capehart is beyond ‘ungentlemanly.’" Well, yes it is, and it was the height of disingenuousness on the part of that lawyer thus to suggest that rape was only a social faux pas. But it’s also that, and within living memory it has been the case that a powerful understanding of rape’s ungentlemanliness has arguably been more efficacious in preventing that crime than any sense of its immorality or criminality. When James Stewart’s character in The Philadelphia Story, explaining that nothing happened between him and Katherine Hepburn’s very drunk Tracy Lord on the night before her wedding, said, "There are rules about that kind of thing," he wasn’t referring to moral rules. Of humble origins himself, he looked down on the aristocratic pretensions of the Lord family, yet he never for a moment doubted that the "rules" of gentlemanly behavior applied to him as much as they did to any Main Line toffee nose.

Obviously, it would be great if hormonal young men were imbued with a moral sense so strong that it would be enough by itself to restrain them from sexual violence, but surely we have learned by now that that is by no means the result of our abandoning the former and additional sanction of ungentlemanliness. Far from it. The young man who has learned not to care anymore whether or not he is regarded as a gentleman by his peers is not thereby any more likely to care if he is regarded as a criminal by the law. If, as must be the case with frat-boy rapists, they are prepared to do anything they can get away with sexually, they are also sure to understand how much more likely they are to be able to avoid detection by the law than by their fraternity brothers. And if the fraternity cares about being gentlemen, so will he.  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

Crocodile Tears on the Back Nine October 31, 2014.
Is there anything President Obama could do that the media wouldn’t excuse him for? — From The New Criterion of October, 2014 ... Full Article

The Forgotten Honor of World War I October 15, 2014.
On the differences between the rationale for entry into the First World War of Britain and the United States and what they portend — From The New Atlantis of Spring, 2014 ... Full Article

Talking to Themselves September 30, 2014.
The media just don’t seem to be able to see beyond their naive constitutional attachment to government by brainiacs — From The New Criterion of September, 2014 ... Full Article

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