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  • David Redding

CHAPTER NINETEEN: Usefulness



While Gootopia shares the five essential factors of tyranny that have marked all Statist regimes (victims, oppressors, absence of limitations, subordination of individual liberty and a utopian vision), it does not have an identifiable and singular leader. Unlike its predecessors, there is no Lenin, Hitler or Cesar serving as the centralized autocratic head of the Gootopian snake. As a result, it is more difficult to see Goo as the Statist insurgency that it surely is.


Like all insurgencies, Gootopia’s ultimate goal is to overthrow the existing social and political order and replace it with a Statist regime. Whereas the Russian Revolution sought to replace the czar with a communist dictatorship, Gootopia seeks to replace America’s Liberal form of governance with one that is premised upon Subjectivity, Liveralism and universal happiness.


Traditionally, an insurgency is characterized by a guerrilla force that attacks the existing governance where it is weak and uses terrorism to cause social instability in order to compel the populace to turn to it for protection. Although there are fringe elements of Goo that periodically engage in that kind of quasi-military activity, the mainstream of the Gootopian insurgency is historically unique in that it a) has no identifiable leader; b) is non-violent, and c) is attacking the social order from within the very institutions that were originally formed to bolster it.


Thus, with the Gootopian insurgency it is not that the barbarians are hammering at the outer gates with a ramrod, but that they are already within the fortress, slowly and (seemingly) peacefully removing the stones of Societal Tradition and Liberal order to undermine the national foundation. Their main tools in this effort are the denaturing of our language and the promotion of Subjectivity over Governing Principles.


The English language is like the United States Dollar. It is the linguistic reserve currency of the World. That has not always been so—first there was Greek and then Latin—nor that it will always be so, but it is certainly so as I write this in the year 2022. English, particularly the American version, is flexible and voracious. Like PacMan, it doesn’t fight with other languages, it just swallows them whole and incorporates them. It may lack the elegance of French or the precision of German, but it trumps both in its usefulness. English is a very useful language.


We Americans are historically stubborn about useful things. While most of the world has adopted the metric system, we remain happy with the customary system of weights and measures that we inherited from our British forefathers. It may lack the mathematical rationality of the metric system, but it’s useful. So even though the federal government passed the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, making the metric system "the preferred system of weights and measures for U.S. trade and commerce", we blithely continue to think in pounds, yards, acres, and gallons. Our government may prefer the metric system, but the people don’t. And because of our Societal Tradition of liberty, the people’s preference is what matters. Like English, the customary system of measurement is useful.


Realizing the futility its effort to pry Americans away from thins that are useful, Goo has set upon an ingenious alternative. Instead of forcing us to speak Esperanto (or something equally Gooish), it is methodically rendering English useless by denaturing the very words themselves.


“So”, Goo says, “you refuse to be reasonable and use the kilogram to measure weight, we’ll just make you question whether there even is such thing as a pound. Does it really weigh sixteen ounces? Even if it does, why such a violent word? Pound has multiple meanings and one of them is very aggressive. Some people have been beaten over the head you know (or are afraid they might be someday), so the word pound should really be replaced with something that doesn’t make them feel so unsafe.”


Goo could never pry us away from the concept of using the pound to measure weight, but it could render the word itself useless. Without the word, the concept becomes useless. That’s how Goo works.


This may seem silly, but in fact it has already been happening for years. Take the word niggardly, which is an adverb that means stingy or miserly. It derives from the Middle English word nigon and first came into use in 1563.[1] As such, it is etymologically distinct from the n-word, which has its roots in the French word for Negro: negre, which was not used as a racial slur directed at black people until 1755, almost two hundred years after niggardly came into use.[2]


Thus, despite the fact that niggardly and the n-word have completely different meanings, originated from completely different geographical locations and languages, and that the first pre-dates the second by two full centuries, the mere fact that they sound similar has caused some people to feel offended by its use and demand that the word be abolished.


There are multiple instances of this demand, but the most illustrative comes from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1999, where an offended student complained of her English professor’s use of niggardly while teaching Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The professor, she said, had continued to use the word even after she had told him that she was offended. “I was in tears, shaking,” she told the faculty. “It's not up to the rest of the class to decide whether my feelings are valid.”[3]


That offended student perfectly encapsulates the philosophy of Liveralism and Subjectivity that undergird Gootopia. Liveralism is the the elevation of individual lived experience over Societal Tradition. Subjectivity is transitory personal feelings and emotions. For the offended student, the objective definition of the word and the context of the professor’s use of it were immaterial. All that mattered was how hearing it made her feel—her lived experience and emotions were paramount.


A Liberal would have considered the offended student’s complaint against the measure of the Reasonable Man, that hypothetical person who is governed by an objective standard of conduct. Was it reasonable for the professor to use the word niggardly while teaching Chaucer? Obviously (at least to the Liberal) the answer is yes. The offended student is incorrect in her assertion that it is “not up to the rest of the class to decide whether my feelings are valid”. In a Liberal society, it is always up to the rest of us to determine whether someone’s conduct meets the standard of the Reasonable Man.


Moreover, such demands to abolish words based upon how they make some people feel, rather than their objective meaning and the context in which they are used, are inconsistent with our Societal Traditions—those fundamental beliefs about human nature that form the ligaments of liberty that bind Americans together as a people. One of our most important Societal Traditions is freedom of speech. It is enshrined into the Constitution under the First Amendment and exists proverbially in the form of the commonsense lesson we impart to our children when we tell them that sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.


Ironically, the offended student was an English major. Chaucer being the father of English literature and poetry, and English being our shared and very useful language, it would actually to her detriment to accede to her demand to be protected from words that she finds personally offensive.


Because I am a Zebra Jockey, I’ll take one more step off the Gooist ledge and say that not only should she not be protected from hearing the word niggardly, she also should not be shielded from the actual n-word. For two reasons.


First, the fact that the n-word has become discredited is evidence of the continuing evolution of American Liberalism. A Liberal knows that he cannot enjoy his own inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness if any of his fellow citizens cannot do likewise. Which is why it has been through that hands of Liberals that the torch of freedom has been continually passed from Gettysburg to Little Rock and anywhere else that the hearts and minds of American men have been polluted by racism.


Though once shamefully prevalent, the n-word is no longer useful because the vast majority of Americans have learned that the person it purported to describe does not exist. We are all brothers under the eyes of the Creator regardless of skin color. Thus, there is no such thing as an n-word. How can we possibly understand that truth unless we openly acknowledge the existence of the lie that was once and too often told by our willingness to say the word out loud?


Second, words that offend us are like tiny Obstacles in the path of life. Learning to negotiate them confidentially and fearlessly fosters Durability. Removing those Obstacles would be like mountain biking on a trail that had no rocks and stumps. Negotiating the Obstacles is (after all) the point of mountain biking. It is also, a Zebra Jockey would say, the point of life. It makes us more Adaptable.


As I said in Chapter Eleven, the Creator wants this for us because it is only the Adapter who is a Flow Traveler, free to enjoy the ride of his life without having to worry about the stumps, rocks and narrow bridges that will periodically appear in his path. He wants us to trust Him and accelerate in the face of Obstacles, confident that our momentum will carry us through, and that the effort will make us more Durable. So, while it may seem polite or kind to shield the offended student from the n-word in the short run, in the long run it makes her less Durable, less able to Adapt by making rapid and necessary adjustments to stay in motion.


Racism is an ugly affliction. It is the spawn of the deadly sin of pride: thinking oneself to be the better of another. It is inconsistent with our Societal Tradition of liberty and our deeply held belief that all men are created equal. The n-word is the byproduct of racism, but the word niggardly is not. To allow someone to believe that because they feel that way is to leave them in a lie when the truth will ultimately set them free.


And that is a strange brand of “kindness” in which the Zebra Jockey would never engage because it is not useful.

____________________________________ [1] According to Webster’s. [2] Also Webster’s. [3] Alan Charles Kors (July 1999). "Cracking the speech code".

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