Who to offend this week?

So many choices, it’s hard to know just where to start… The virtue-signalling clique of the perpetually offended have made it near impossible for me to fail. That’s a shame because failing spectacularly is so my metier!

They’re a curious bunch, the virtue-signalling clique. They embrace whatever the cause de jour of their talking heads is, for today, regardless of contradictions, logic or thought. Yesterday: Guns BAD (especially for civilians). Masks GOOD – if I see you without one I will scream abuse at you, no matter what the circumstance. Today: Guns GOOD (in Ukraine. They’re still civilians) but bad anywhere else (the idea that preparedness, practice and skill with firearms makes the world of difference is too hard for them to grasp). Masks not being worn by any of the Ukrainian refugees, general populace there… or their favorite politicians in a class full of masked kids…

Stats is my background, and colors my way of thinking, and I can’t but help notice that they’re self-selected from a rather narrow group. No, they don’t all belong, but it’s like shooting at individuals in a mob of attacking rioters… sorry, mostly peaceful protesters. The odds of hitting a felon with a criminal record in a randomly selected normal crowd… are slim. Do it three times in a row, and there reasonable assumptions about the crowd proportions to be made. With the virtuous clique, the odds are very high they’ll be white, female (far better than 51% it ought to be), urban or peri-urban, childless, probably from middle-class/ upper middle class parents, not very bright, and with no particular attainments. Often with arts degrees in ‘terribly’ useful things, the only discernible value of which is allowing them to claim this makes them qualified to tell lesser people what to do (they like jobs in government or HR). Often single. Often middle-aged and with time and at least some money on their hands.

Like any population segment they have tastes in what to read (what they are told by their talking heads is good, in general, although I believe quite a lot of them read other books because no-one knows quite what they read in secret in their apartment. I will never forget the two rabid feminists moaning bitterly that more people crammed in to be seen at their panels, than ever bought their books).

Be grateful. They’re there to help us weaker lesser folk. Because we couldn’t possibly be as capable of making our own decisions as they, with their near-zero life-experience and tepid intellect are. We need them to nanny us.

I managed to offend one earlier this week, when I happened on a FB post about an author I enjoy and think valuable to learn from: Georgette Heyer. Now Heyer was a prolific writer, who really had a major formative influence on the Regency Romance sub-genre. She also wrote a number of historicals, set across earlier English History, particularly some very good accounts of the Peninsular wars, and some murder-mysteries. The article was Vox – so had the political left-wing slant one expects, as well as the assumption that because they hadn’t read Heyer all their short lives, no-one, or at least no-one really important, had. They had the obligatory moan about racism etc. etc. and eagerly fantasized about Hollywood remaking these stories into the sort of thing they’d like.

To which my reaction was a devout ‘God, please, spare us Hollywood wrecking Heyer’s books.’

This inevitably provoked one the virtue-signalling clique of the perpetually offended (who, to no one’s surprise seems to fit the above demographic) who informed me that Heyer – who sold her first book in the early 1920’s was ‘already a racist classist antisemitic homophobic wreck.`

Ah. Books set in the Regency era – with the mores and setting of around 200 years ago, written by an author who formed her own mores around a hundred years ago, failed to live up to some pig-ignorant wokie’s wet dream. Heyer’s research is superb. She does put in some anachronisms, but she writes of a small class (the upper ten thousand) of a real historical social group. THEY WERE ‘Classist’. Hell’s teeth, I read one of my own ancestors (a lieutenant in Peninsula wars) crossed letter home. Heyer reflected the attitudes of the group she was writing about so well she brought that letter to life for me. Most of this social group was almost exclusively white, English. That’s because that was reality.

Read some damned real history, and you’ll find that ‘going to Jews’ (borrowing money) was a real term, and also reflected a high degree of reality. There were undoubtably Jews in other areas of life, but they were very much involved in banking – both formal and informal – which, as now, is a vicious business. It was the one area of life the upper ten thousand would have dealt with them, and indeed I suspect her reflection of attitudes at that time to Jews was accurate. It wasn’t nice, or kind, but that was how badly Jewish people were regarded then. Should we accept it was right or good? Don’t be silly. Heyer doesn’t. She just reflects the reality of the time she wrote about, just as I reflect the fact that women were second-class citizens in many of the historical societies I write about. That was the reality, and we are perfectly capable of seeing for ourselves that would be unacceptable now, but was that way then, and most people then… would not have thought it possible to be otherwise. Real history was not always nice, and certainly parts of it are not good to be imitated. But it was real. So were the gin-sluiceries, and drinking habits of the populace, the foundlings, the abandoned mothers, Heyer wrote about. Should the author have pretended it was otherwise?

The mysterious one is ‘homophobic.’ I wondered if she put it in just because it was a magic word. Or maybe because she was disappointed that the hero/heroine wasn’t obligatorially homosexual, along with 2/3 of characters (of various Plascon shades, except for the white male villain) as in so many modern books. Yes, I can’t think of any homosexual characters, which I am sure would constitute a reason for virtue-signallers to indulge in a five minute hate and cancelling – but… this reality thing again. At the time, certainly, homosexuality existed – but you got hanged for it. That aside, it turns out that the problem is disdain for effeminate men – because that had to be aimed at homosexuals. Enter Claude Darracot, one of several of Heyers flamboyantly effeminate dandies, and moderately ridiculed – and with a female he fancies. Dandies do make up a reasonable number of her characters, some of which get ridiculed – Sir Nugent Fotherby – married to the dim-witted and very female Ianthe. Oddly, Heyer does take the mickey out of very ‘effeminate’ silly females, plainly preferring courageous, strong-willed female heroines – which put her a generation at least ahead of most female authors of her time. But that doesn’t count, obviously.

Our virtue-signaller however is a hero for her time, or at for least lesser people. She makes a brave announcement that “People need to know that she and her books are egregiously racist (particularly antisemitic), classist, and homophobic. Bad enough that many editions have been expurgated of the most obvious stuff. I really really really don’t want someone, particularly from one of the minoritized groups, to start reading expecting a Regency romp, and be blindsided by that kind of offensiveness.

Ah. She is of finer metal than the rest of us. How BRAVE. She’s read all of them for us, and knows that editions have been Bowdlerized for the reader’s sensibilities. You lesser weak mortals, particularly ‘minoritized groups’ (like women, who despite being a majority are a minority. Amazing, this new mathematics) are being warned and protected by the power of the White Girl.

Look. There is no reasoning with her ilk. They know they’re right. The fact that all books (including the ones being written by darlings right now reflect the mores of their writer’s time, and read twenty or fifty or hundred years from now will have ‘problems’ for whatever the virtue-signalling pack of that time gets their panties in twist about. Ignore them. Write as best you can. A good book is still a great story, and most readers don’t need nanny to know things have changed from when the author wrote it. Sanitizing history stops anyone ever learning from it. But then, to paraphrase Orwell, they do think history is ever fluid to be rewritten to support their present narrative.

53 comments

  1. Effeminate men do not have to be homosexual. There are many cultures where they are dangerously heterosexual — will seduce your wife or daughter.

    1. Agreed. In fact Heyer writes of just such characters. Perhaps the perpetually offended are offended because they not homosexual? They are offended both ways no matter what?

      1. I think it’s more of magic word plus statistical illiteracy.

        Rates of homosexuality run about 2-3%.
        In the media she consumes, and the social sphere she inhabits, the rate is way higher. And will not shut up about it. (I’m reminded of the producers of Onward thinking it absolutely vital that we know a bit character was gay. It didn’t come up in the story, because why would it? But evidently the thing we should be most interested in about a manticore barkeep, is whether she munches carpet.)

      2. I think to them it reads as “conversion” of homosexual men.
        But there was a particular type of masculinity in that time, in that place, that was about rather gaudy display. (Other times and other places, too, mind, but that’s not relevant to her books)
        These men were very much heterosexual. and very au fait and au courrant. They’re not gay in any sense.
        To be fair these men still exist. They buy all the right shampoos, wear the flawless label shirt, etc.
        NOT MY THING. But not in any way by itself an indication of homosexuality.

        1. To the extent that the gaudy men are thought of as repressed homosexuals, that just shows what happens when you look at the past through the lens of current fashions.

          As it is, I was thinking the conversions went the other way. In Powder and Patch, countrified Philip went from being rather rough and ready to quite the dandy to win the girl. In These Old Shades, Leon eventually became Leonie.

          These gender themes have played out forever, including in Heyer. I’ve even heard that some have described certain of her novels, particularly These Old Shades, as touching upon repressed homosexuality. I don’t agree, but understand the impression.

              1. That’s the Georgian one about a wild family of Jacobites coming in from the cold, and rejoining society, IIRC. The daughter is a big, hearty amazon, and the son is a lithe little thing; half the time they cross-dress as the othe sex. But the son’s a deadly duelist, and the amazon finds true Heyerian love in the normal manner. In some ways, if I’m not confusing it with Powder and Patch, it’s Heyer’s novel about the moment when the wildness and craziness of early Georgian rebellion starts to settle down into what eventually will become the mannerism of the Regency.

        2. I vaguely remember some controversy about one of her mysteries having an “officially” homosexual character (meaning the author or the other characters spell it out for the reader) who was a less than sympathetic figure. I can’t remember which book this is or whether I’ve read it, so I have no opinion on what the character was actually like.

          In English literature, the snarky, slightly catty guy who is interested in women romantically but also has opinions about women’s fashions (and is probably very well-turned-out himself) goes back a fairly long way; all the way back to Henry Tilney, who’s not a personal favorite of mine, but is an authentic creation by an author who lived in the Georgian and Regency eras.

            1. Oh, I’m glad someone said it. I don’t like them either. It does raise a question. How is it that Heyer, who wrote such lovely Regencies, wrote such uninteresting mysteries?

              1. They were supposedly joint ventures with Heyer’s husband, who was more into mysteries and thriller plots than she was, and maybe their flaws come from her trying to please him instead of pleasing herself.

        3. It’s almost like certain people have never met anyone from a Mediterranean culture. Hell or just been to a bar/club in Brooklyn.

  2. An idea for future history writers: a story in which right-thinking people are horrified that someone might do X, which everyone today thinks is normal. The trouble is imagining what the forbidden act will be. Boys using girls bathrooms? Women making dinner for the family?

    “Really, child, I cannot imagine what was going through your head. Eating oatmeal. For breakfast! For shame! How could you be so cruel? Did your parents teach you nothing? I don’t care if those McTavishs do it: they probably drink gin and smoke weed and drive cars. Yes, with gasoline! Filthy savages. I forbid you to go near them again.”

    1. Yep, I had a similar thought… a hundred years hence, readers of aged literature will be shocked to learn that genders were changed and bathrooms were swapped. Not titillated; horrified.

      1. They will be. PARTICULARLY if they develop the tech so people can REALLY change sex. Because right now they CAN’T. It’s all cosmetics and pretending. It would be considered barbaric to be mutilated to PRETEND.
        And to be fair, no skin off my nose what adults choose to do, but it is evil when perpetrated on children.

        1. With the exception of trying to help the rare intersex individual, yeah, barbaric.

        2. Personally I find it highly offensive that certain trans individuals are using their condition to utterly destroy the integrity of womens’ sports competitions.
          And am observing with interest and support that several states are introducing legislation defining permanent medical treatment for gender reassignment of minor children as child abuse. Has a certain subset of the medical profession in high dudgeon.

  3. Dave, you are one of those who turned me onto Heyer–thanks! I wish I could say what happened surprises me, but it doesn’t. Nor does your reaction to the suggestion Hollywood do her books the “right” way. I read an article this morning about how someone is going to do a new version of Fiddler on the Roof and you can probably imagine how I cringed about that. Can’t you see it? Everyone condemning Tevye for not immediately embracing Perchik and his communist ideals. You can just imagine the rest of the changes that can be made to make it more “woke”. Won’t that make for a wonderful remake?

    1. They’re still talking about a Babylon 5 “reboot” and crowing about how Woke it’s going to be. And yes, Firefly as well.

      Everything must eventually get the slimed like Star Trek, apparently.

      1. And they don’t care if old fans won’t spend money on it, because Hollywood is all about the money laundering anyway.

  4. These are the ladies who in the 19th century would have been stalwart members of the Temperance Union and the Women’s Auxiliaries of various churches. (Which is not meant to be a slur on the churches). If they had any writing talent they would have written Edifying Stories for Young People. Of course, what they considered “edifying,” would be quite different – things like hard work, study and obedience – but the purpose would be the same.
    Could some of the current crop of White Girls be motivated by the thwarted (and repressed) need to be mothers?

    1. Yes. So much of modern wokeness seems to be about cleaving off bits of your humanity to confirm to some inhumane idealized form.

      Simply being unable to have kids tears people up. How much more so must it hurt to rip that out intentionally, just to conform to your group’s norms?

  5. > someone, particularly from one of the minoritized groups,

    Um. Yes. “Minoritized.” I had to look at that one for a while.

    Sounds like “minority” might not have the same meaning in Wokelish as it does in my dictionary. (which, being more than 40 years old, is certainly ablist, sexist, racist, and homophobic…)

    “It’s English, Jim, but not as we know it.”

  6. I started reading Heyer at 12 and have re-read her through the years. In other words, I’ve read everything at least twice (‘cept the mysteries–they weren’t my cup of tea). Imagine my joy to learn a few weeks ago that Amazon is selling her short stories for 99 cents each. They are not her Regency novels, but they’re from Heyer and I haven’t read them, and that’s what counts.

  7. Steve isn’t wrong to assert that sharing a civil society with these people isn’t possible.

    It is about peace consensuses, and theories of occult harm. Supposing that a random difficulty isn’t witchcraft, and is not to be addressed by murdering the first person impulse suggests is a witch, is a feature of some but not all religions, or of some but not all cultures.

    Modern theory is basically that every concept and behavior that is outside of the current left is witchcraft, and hence super harmful to disabled, homosexuals, ethnic group members, females, and members of every other category of ‘victim’ allegedly protected by the left.

    Conversely, accusing everyone and their dog of witchcraft, demanding struggle sessions and trying to restrict employment, is a wee bit poisonous. There is the ‘suffer not a poisoner to live’ translation.

    1. “Poisoner” is an implausible translation of the original Hebrew מכשפה makhasheifah, and not necessarily the correct translation of the Greek φαρμακοὺς pharmakous.

        1. In the case of the Hebrew original, there’s no basis for assuming the words are remotely connected.

          (There’s a stronger case, though I’m not convinced, that the roots כשפ KShP “sorcery” and כזב KZB “deceit” are etymologically related; in which case there’s the implication that every ‘sorceresses’ is really a charlataness.

          (In fact, Jewish tradition on the topic is clear that the prohibition on the various forms of magic—kishuf, nichush, ‘onen, ’ov, yid‘oni, “enquiring of the dead”—applies equally to one who actually practices the magic and one who fraudulently claims to be doing so. )

          1. Yes, but even in Hebrew, one person who sold you a potion to kill your uncle and hasten your inheritance was like another.

          2. Thing is, leftism is also a magical/religious practice.

            Probably treating leftism as legitimately a capital offense is going much too far.

            I understand that the poisoner translation was basically dubious stretching by people who wanted to justify magical practices, and justify toleration of magical practitioners.

            My thoughts are in the direction of wondering whether the new agers, and tolerance of the same, have anything to do with the crop of elderly psychopaths making themselves obvious in politics. Of course, this may be magical thinking itself, because there would have been a lot of psychopaths in that cohort anyway, because it had very many people in it.

  8. Having spent my whole life being “helped” like this– I reflexively flinch when someone starts up a news story with mention of Female Veteran Takes A Stand, because it’s 50/50 on if they’re appointing themselves to speak for me in a direction I would actively oppose, or if they’re making the reputation I’ll have to overcome yet again because the guys they choose to emulate are the ones anyone with sense avoids.
    /grumble

      1. Those supposedly elected can be worse. You could pick a couple random people from the phonebook who’d be less destructive speakers for America than Biden* and Harris.

  9. I’m thoroughly boggled that the author of the linked article was convinced that ‘no one’ outside of romance readers had ever heard of Georgette Heyer.
    I’m also a bit boggled that the Vox author approves, in a round-about manner, of authors of historical fiction willfully committing “presentism” in their stories – that is, willfully and malignantly bolting on current attitudes and opinions onto characters set in another time. Essentially, she wants scribblers of historical fiction to basically write present-day people all dressed up in period costumes.
    No, that’s not how it really works, in getting people to comprehend and understand past times and events…

    1. I thought “A Knight’s Tale” with Heath Ledger was a fun, silly romp of purposeful anachronisms, not an example of the “right” view of history.

      1. D&D webcomics tend to be the “modern day with some medievalish filigree” setting. Order of the Stick and Rusty & Co have a lot of fun with it.

    2. That seem to be allowing that ‘presentists’ have any desire for people to comprehend and understand past times and events, they’re just a little confused,

      I strongly doubt that’s the case.

  10. *SIGH* “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” [“But it’s not a different planet!” MacAvoy’s addendum to Hartley’s Law.]

    I had to explain the other day that medieval Chinese women didn’t embrace the women’s movement because they didn’t have one. They didn’t know about “the Women’s Movement” and it probably never occurred to them to demand the vote and property rights and equal pay and access to the civil service exams. The young person absolutely boggled, because it had never occurred to them that the modern western women’s movement was, well, modern and western. They didn’t know what they didn’t know.

    The individual accusing Heyer’s books of being “Shibboleth of the Week,” however, does not have the excuse of youth and lack of education.

  11. Wait, they’ve Bowdlerized Heyer? I must double check my copies to make sure I have the uncensored ones.

  12. The number of current beliefs or mores which may a century from now be considered unfathomably evil or just ridiculous: abortion on demand, much less at taxpayer expense; blithe acceptance or even advocacy for early teen sex, constitutionally authorized and limited government -already under attack for a century or more, the right to self defense and the means with which to do so, and the right to choose the sort of education given one’s children. Just look at the attacks on government being prohibited from engaging in racial and sex discrimination, and by the very groups which once advocated for those prohibitions. The right to start and operate a private, profit-seeking business and to keep those profits. Keeping pets aka enslaved animals. Eating animals, and of course, hunting and fishing. Being allowed to read what one wants. All are always threatened by one group or another.

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