Monday, July 18, 2005

She's come undone . . .

The little Mylar balloon Katherine Kersten has finally slipped its moorings and floated off unsteadily into the ether. There is no other way to describe her column in the July 18th StarTribune. According to Kersten, gang violence Minneapolis in 2005, as well as virtually every other societal ill, can be traced directly to the '60s. And all this time, Spotty thought it was just Bill Clinton's fault!

Even for Katherine, this column is a magnum opus. Spotty imagines that the local bloggers will be gorging for days. So dear reader, tie on a bib and let's see what we can find.
Behind our debate over how to deal with gangs is a clash of world views. Many people in social service agencies or university faculty rooms see human beings as basically good and naturally cooperative. They view crime and violence as aberrations, and essentially a result of injustice. If people are given opportunities (jobs and rec centers), they reason, they are likely to behave peacefully and rationally.

Ordinary citizens view human nature more realistically. They see their 2-year-old throw a tantrum over a Popsicle, or their spouse cut someone off in rush-hour traffic, and recognize that tendencies toward selfishness and aggression are innate and universal.

Isn't that second paragraph just a little inductive reasoning gem?

Kersten may be on to something here. Spotty bets a lot of serial killers threw tantrums over Popsicles; if we had only known. Then more of them could have been beaten regularly into submission like James Dobson's dog and turned away from a life of crime. Cutting people off in traffic on the other hand has more to do with cell phones than evil intent.

Kersten is right about the clash of world views, but it's not quite as she describes. It is conservatives who have the dangerous world view, and I will leave it to you dear reader to decide whether they are the ordinary ones. That's why conservatives want to pack heat, live in gated communities, send their kids to private school, and invade foreign countries. They are frightened of the world they live in and alienated from it. They have defective empathy genes.

The column goes on:
. . . But if we all start life with certain tendencies in common with them, why don't most of us behave like them?

The answer is rooted in culture and family. Most of us learned to control our aggressive, antisocial impulses as youngsters. Our mothers taught us empathy. Our fathers taught us not to hit our sister. We don't steal tennis shoes at the mall, but it's not because we fear the police. We police ourselves, exercising the conscience and self-control we were taught.

I have a hot tip for you Katherine, it's called socialization. And it has a lot to do with cooperation, respect for yourself and others that is reciprocated to you. When public schools try to teach values like this, conservative like you scream SECULAR HUMANISM! Let's start a private school!

Next nugget:
The underclass culture that has spawned homicidal youth gangs is relatively new. It didn't exist in this form in the 1930s, for example, when poverty was much more widespread. What has changed?

For one thing, the 1960s "cultural revolution" happened. Some of America's most privileged citizens led it -- intellectuals, lawyers and entertainment executives. They urged Americans to shake off the shackles of "bourgeois" norms -- the very qualities that had helped generations rise from poverty to the middle class.

Katherine, Katherine, Katherin. Gangs have existed just about forever.
Gangs have been known to claim colors such as red or blue, a trend that started as far back as the late 18th century and early 19th century with the rivalry of the Roach Guards and the Dead Rabbits of New York's Five Points district and later with Mexican bandits and roving marauders in what would later become the Southwest/Western United States. (In the United States, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, "gang colors" can refer to the entire design of a gang jacket.)

There isn't much else that needs to be said. Katherine's argument falls flat on it intellectual keister. Would it be so hard to do a little research before you write Katherine?

Spotty thinks Katherine's problem with the '60s is really that she couldn't get a date and missed the fun.



baraka said...
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Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I posted more of the same over at Clever Peasantry.


Anonymous said...

Clever Sponge writes on his blog:

"I have to admit that I have found it harder and harder in recent weeks to capture just how bad and stupid of a writer Happy Katherine Kersten: Minnesota’s Worst Writer™ is. It is literally mind-boggling."

Spotty quite agrees. Trying to critique a Double K column is like trying to eat jello with chopsticks. Her dreck should bear the warning: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter.

Maybe that's Kersten's genius; she induces a gag reflex that puts off all but the most determined critic.

Anonymous said...

On a little bit of a side note, jello with chopsticks can be done. I lived in Korea for 14 months and I saw a little kid do it...with no slurping. I was impressed.


Anonymous said...

I don't know what upsets me more: that you can eat Jello with chopsticks, or that Jello has spread to Asia.