Three Steps

Elsewhere (37)

Heather Mac Donald on art, vandalism and graffiti chic:  

Graffiti, it turns out, is something that the Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates only on other people’s property, not on its own… Not only would MOCA never tolerate uninvited graffiti on its walls (indeed, it doesn’t even permit visitors to use a pen for note-taking within its walls, an affectation unknown in most of the world’s greatest museums); none of its trustees would allow their Westside mansions or offices to be adorned with graffiti, either.

Even this two-facedness pales beside the hypocrisy of the graffiti vandals themselves, who wage war on property rights until presented with the opportunity to sell their work or license it to a corporation. At that point, they grab all the profits they can stuff into their bank accounts. Lost in this anti-bourgeois posturing is the likely result of the museum’s graffiti glorification: a renewed commitment to graffiti by Los Angeles’s ghetto youth, who will learn that the city’s power class views graffiti not as a crime but as art worthy of curation. The victims will be the law-abiding residents of the city’s most graffiti-afflicted neighbourhoods and, for those who care, the vandals themselves.

Heresy Corner on feminism, fairy princesses and our dear friend Laurie Penny:

The New Statesman piece is typical, indeed archetypal Laurie: not so much a triumph of style over substance as the use of style to obliterate substance’s very possibility. Once she gets away from what she knows - the demi-monde inhabited by her radical friends, of which she remains the peerless interpreter - she struggles to comprehend a world whose lineaments are distorted out of all recognition by her prose.

Ms Penny’s tendency to bury facts and logic under an avalanche of rhetoric has been noted previously.

And Mark Bauerlein on what students learn when dishonesty has no consequences:  

A student at University of Virginia law school, Johnathan Perkins, alleged last month that while walking home from a bar review session, UVA cops pulled him aside, interrogated him, taunted him, frisked him, then followed him home. He made his claims in a letter to the student newspaper, adding notes about his humiliation and his hopes that “sharing this experience will provide this community with some much needed awareness of the lives that many of their black classmates are forced to lead.”

Police responded to the letter by conducting an investigation, then issuing an announcement last Friday that, according to Inside Higher Ed, “Perkins had made up the story.” In a written statement, Perkins admitted, “I wrote the article to bring attention to the topic of police misconduct.”

Feel free to add your own in the comments.



Perkins had made up the story.

Johnathan Perkins and Laurie Penny have a lot in common:
"This isn't a misquote, because no original quote exists. It's a fabrication."


I’m sure it’s very liberating.


Incidentally, it’s interesting to contrast Laurie Penny’s approach to political journalism with that of Heather Mac Donald, quoted above. (Mac Donald’s article on absentee fathers is well worth reading, as is her piece on calculated victimhood and, well, pretty much anything she writes.)

Whereas Mac Donald knows how to construct a logical argument and bolsters it with actual facts and specifics, Ms Penny typically relies on distortion, omission and emotional hyperbole. And while Mac Donald’s quotes and sources are verifiable, Ms Penny’s claims are frequently unsupported or suspect, or simply untrue. And I don’t think the differences between them are just a matter of experience or skill. There are questions of temperament and motive. I doubt that Laurie Penny would ever want her dramas to be limited by reality.


In the article that Min links to, Laurie Penny responds in the comments to the charge of fabricating a quote: "...if you choose to recall it differently, or feel that you have been misrepresented, that’s your prerogative."

You see? She didn't fabricate a quote. The speaker simply chose to recall it differently.


Ms Penny’s claims are frequently unsupported or suspect, or simply untrue.

Ah but she's calls herself a reprobate, David. She's allowed to make shit up.

David Gillies

I have an urge to break into the MOCA in the middle of the night with a can of spray paint and 'augment' the graffiti exhibition. Surely even if I got caught, I'd be let off for being so, ooh, what's the word? Transgressive.

Mr Shifter

Yes, Heather Mac Donald is very, very readable.
That Penny bint is extremely irritating.

carbon based lifeform

what students learn when dishonesty has no consequences

David, 'Labour Studies' at the University of Missouri…

"Professors Giljum and Ancel used a public university class to promote their own radical political opinions and organizations, and to train students and union members in negotiating tactics that are apparently illegal, and profoundly unethical."



Thanks for that. It’s strange how the psychology of communist “activism” bears a striking resemblance to that of an adolescent tantrum. The parents of those students might want to pay more attention to the so-called education of their offspring. Some might then see fit to express their dissatisfaction to the educators concerned, face to face and quite emphatically. Again, consequences.


Incidentally, there’s a follow-up to the Perkins fake allegation story:

“Professors Anne Coughlin and Kim Forde-Mazrui chose to take a different path. Forde-Mazrui — whose website describes him as a specialist in such politically correct topics as affirmative action, race and the law, and slavery reparations — denounced the ‘cavalier attitude’ of the officers, who failed to show Perkins sufficient respect. Again, at the time Forde-Mazrui opined about the officers’ ‘attitude,’ he didn’t know if any incident had even taken place.”

As with the Duke lacrosse saga, it’s interesting how so many of those who rail against prejudice are remarkably eager to rush to judgment in advance of any facts.


So note well, dear readers, that when fascism ever so briefly came to America, it did come with a smiley face.


The mental illness that manifests as leftism is a combination of Narcissism ,projection and envy.



But surely we need more communism in the classroom? Or, as these teachers and unionistas put it, “emancipation and enlightenment.

It’s for our own good, see?


Re Perkins, something similar at a traffic stop on a university campus in Orlando:

Putting this together with this from a while back in California

I remember in college once, during a night of uhh, chemically-enhanced discussion about education, someone raised the thought of "What if all these professors are just making $h!t up?". We all had a good, abnormally hearty laugh. But in light of Perkins, Vest, Dunn, Madonna Constantine at Columbia, etc., etc., etc., who knows?

I recently attended a "community police academy" and learned much about the social sensitivity training that police need to take these days. I'm sure it has been responsible for more than just the one police officer death that we saw in a dash-cam video. Using the same deception of exception-as-the-norm that many critics of the police use, and the impact it has had on police training, it would seem these academics could stand a good measure of social sensitivity training themselves.


Well, if you're not furious at least 80% of the time, you're a loss as a modern "feminist". I bet the ulcer count is staggering in that demographic.


That “emancipation and enlightenment.” video is pretty terrifying. When I was at school 35 years ago, one of our teachers was known as a card carrying communist, but he never brought politics into the classroom. I wonder when it became acceptable for teachers to behave like this, and is it happening over here in the UK too?



“That ‘emancipation and enlightenment’ video is pretty terrifying.”

Yes, it’s a little creepy; more like a cult than a meeting of educators. At best, it’s a gathering of damaged and resentful people. Perhaps not ideal material for the shaping of young minds.

For one thing, the sheer arrogance is staggering. The first speaker, Sarah Knopp, seems to be in a state of emotional disarray or religious fever. She wants to peddle the “enlightenment” of communism to the children in her care. When they believe as she does – and only as she does – then they’ll be “critical thinkers.” Then they’ll be “emancipated.” Just like her. The second speaker, Megan Behrent, merely intends to subvert the proprieties of the classroom in order to propagate her own politics at someone else’s expense. The preferences of parents, students and those who her pay her salary are to be circumvented in the name of “social justice.” Again, the students in her care will be “thinking for themselves” when they think and act “radically,” i.e., just like her.

And these attitudes aren’t as rare as one might wish, even over here.


"our dear friend Lauri Penny"

Yaaaayyyy!!! I love Ms Privatelyeducated McSilverspoon. Her try-too-hard attempts at pretending she's oppressed yet edgy are so entertaining.

I particularly liked this unintentional irony in her royal wedding whining:

"a fairytale of frilly, sequin-encrusted self-improvement that just happens to involve rigid conformity to the rules of contemporary femininity"

Penny, essentially a cartoon 1970s leftist feminist student brought to life. Complaining about other people's conformity. It's like listening to Alexander the Great accuse you of conquering Persia.

Patrick Brown

Latest from our old friend Amanda Marcotte over on Cif. US Republican politician appears on the cover of Men's Health magazine sporting a surprisingly sculpted torso. Response from Amanda and most of the Guardian comment pack? He must be a poof.

If you're a liberal these days, you must at all costs eschew homophobic bigotry, stereotyping and abuse - unless the person you're abusing isn't liberal, in which case, anything's fair game.



“Response from Amanda… He must be a poof.”

But Amanda is obliged to caricature those who disagree with her – as repressed, misogynistic, racist, fearful, or just “enemies” of everything that’s progressive and fragrant; that way she’s flattered by default. Which, one suspects, is the point of her writing. Evidence, like contradiction, doesn’t seem to matter.

Though I hadn’t realised that wearing white jeans is “associated with homoeroticism in public spaces.” It’s so hard to keep track of all these niche fetishes.

Patrick Brown

True, lefties will always caricature righties and vice versa, but it's interesting that a group of people who more or less define themselves by their political correctness would resort to something as usually politically incorrect as homophobia.


When your only principle is "the ends justify the means", then everything is fair game. There are no such things as hypocrisy or shame. Thus, they are by definition not shameless hypocrites.

Tom Foster


"True, lefties will always caricature righties and vice versa, but it's interesting that a group of people who more or less define themselves by their political correctness would resort to something as usually politically incorrect as homophobia."

Homophobia *was* politically incorrect when it came from white Westerners. It was always a little trickier when it came from black reggae or rap stars. And it's even harder for them to condemn it now that it's coming from Islam. Likewise, lefties always enjoyed mocking 'traditional' family values, but now that all this patriarchal stuff is coming from Muslims, it is contrasted favourably with the feckless, hopeless, slovenly natives – see David Edgar's piece here:

"While researching a play about the 2001 riots for the National Theatre, I was struck by how Oldham and Burnley's Asian districts felt and looked like the family-based working-class communities of the 1950s; indeed, in a way they stood as a reproach to white estates that had lost that sense of identity, cohesion and pride."

It's fun watching the leftists tying themselves up in knots trying to find some kind of consistent moral position. The trouble is, what with having to take into account things like 'hegemony' (remember, racism isn't just prejudice, it's 'prejudice plus power') and therefore having to modify their views of people's behaviour depending on things like skin colour and religion, they just can't do it.

Horace Dunn

I rather wish I hadn’t read that Amanda Marcotte article. I mean, I knew, when I clicked on the link to an opinion piece on the Guardian site that I would encounter a degree of smugness. Smug is, after all, the house tone at that particular publication. But the degree of snobbery, condescension and outright misanthropy in Mandy M’s piece was biscuit-taking even by Guardian standards.

The thing is, though, isn’t her whole argument merely an elaboration of the old saloon-bar standard: men who are vehemently homophobic probably react thus because they have certain – ahem – secret leanings which they can’t own up to?

To be sure, there have been cases where rabid gay-bashers have turned out to be furtively gay themselves. But this whole line of argument remains, nonetheless, in the realm of pop-psychology.

I wonder then, why no-one at the Guardian, when reading Marcotte’s piece, thought “oh but this is just thin stuff dressed up with lots of clever-sounding words”. Surely someone must have spotted it. Or perhaps they spotted it and just didn’t care.

Oh, but the Guardian is a terrible newspaper, don’t you think?


I think Freud’s description of Neurotics as suffering from ‘the omnipotence of thoughts’ could easily apply to Ms Penny. What is crucial for them is not the reality of experience, but the reality of thought. They live in a particular world where only Neurotic currency is valid. They are affected by only what is thought with intensity, imagined with emotion, whereas agreement with external reality is a matter of no importance. They repeat in their attacks, experiences which have only occurred in their imagination.



“Smug is, after all, the house tone at that particular publication. But the degree of snobbery, condescension and outright misanthropy in Mandy M’s piece was biscuit-taking even by Guardian standards.”

I guess it’s a function of overlording, which is another Guardian staple and a feature of the left more generally. As so many Guardianistas have taken upon themselves the task of fixing us, of making us better people (i.e., people like them), they or their proxies have to be in charge. Egalitarian sentiment is an ideal rationalisation for those who wish to exert power over others. Much as a professed disdain for inequality is a way to signal one’s own moral, intellectual and social superiority. As noted previously, incoherence and insincerity are beside the point; these outpourings are essentially displays – of class and moral elevation. Despite all the blather about altruism, caring and feeling the pain of others, the whiff of something less glorious is difficult to conceal.

David Gillies

There's always a tendency to be a bit hyperbolic when faced with the likes of Marcotte or Laurie Penny, because their Weltanschauung is so refractory to common sense or reason, but I do get the sneaking feeling that given the whip hand, they would be very unpleasant indeed. I'm quite content with the sort of finger-pointing mockery that occurs so wonderfully in this forum. But if they really did control the levers of power, I think it would go very ill for people like me. I'm probably over-reacting, but then people like me always think they're over-reacting right up until they're marched off the bus, bewildered, and shot in a ditch.


I'm probably over-reacting, but then people like me always think they're over-reacting right up until they're marched off the bus, bewildered, and shot in a ditch.

Your perceptions are spot-on reality. Of course you're over reacting. What you need Mr. Gillies is some psychological counseling from trained professionals. If you'll kindly step this way...


Incidentally, Heather Mac Donald follows up her essay on MOCA and “radical” graffiti chic with a podcast interview. Here’s a taste:

It was as if the whole question of graffiti’s illegal status and the destruction of property didn’t exist. I decided to test their attitude towards graffiti myself by a few times making to write my tag on their walls and of course was stopped immediately by the guards. They also are selling aerosol spray paint in the book store, where they’re selling their $40 paperback and $60 hardback catalogues for the show. So I said, “What happens if I take the spray paint and use it inside the show?” I was told, “Oh, you’re not allowed to take the spray paint inside. What you do with it outside the show is your own decision.”

Worth hearing in full.

Horace Dunn

Hi David

Thanks for alerting me to the Heather MacDonald podcast. She was given rather an easy ride by the interviewer (it was rather like listening to a communist sympathiser being interviewed on the BBC) but she was nonetheless cogent and convincing.

I am reminded of an edition of Midweek (a regular Wednesday morning BBC Radio 4 slot – for the uninitiated) from some years ago on which one of the guests suddenly began extolling the virtues of graffiti. She, the guest, lamented the fact that The Establishment was blind to the virtues of graffiti art and expressed distress at the fact that so many people saw it purely as vandalism. She went on to liken graffiti to a delightful lichen-like growth that imposed a natural beauty on the city-scape. I can’t remember the exact phases she used but I stand by this as a broadly accurate representation of what she said. I was rather disappointed at the time, as the programme’s presenter, Libby Purves, is very smart and certainly doesn’t fit the usual BBC presenter mould (urban, left-wing sophisticate), yet she allowed this silly little bit of editorialising, which was greeted by affirmative grunts from the assembled company in the studio, to stand unchallenged. Needless to say, had someone painted rude words across the front doors of the well-to-do types in the studio, then they might not have harboured such warm feelings for the artists.

The comments to this entry are closed.