The Thinking 

Brats and Rules

March 11, 2017

ALAN writes:

In “When Feminity was Cherished” (March 6), you wrote that colleges once provided a setting that depended on strict rules. As a matter of fact, that is true. As a matter of morality, it was valid.

There is another setting that involves strict rules. It is called Life.  Life will not appease 18-year-olds who do not possess good judgment. Life is harsh. The conditions of life—“the rules” of life—will not accommodate the whims of spoiled brats.

There are two kinds of people:  Those who find life acceptable or even delightful and try to accommodate themselves to its conditions—its “rules”;  and those who resent the rules of life and try to make those rules accommodate their whims and fantasies.

Hip, cool Americans who are “open,” “flexible,” and “nonjudgmental” exemplify the second category.  The author you cite who believes that strict rules are absurd is a typical hip, cool American.  Such people hate not only rules but the very principle of rules—which means that they hate life only slightly less than they hate responsibility. That is why what is absurdly called “American culture” is now a nationwide playpen of spoiled brats.

Recently I sent a brief essay to an acquaintance who writes an Internet magazine.  He is a thoughtful, intelligent man. In the essay, I argued that some people who pose as “experts” are actually fantasy writers, and to prove my point I cited a concrete example where such “experts” had written palpable nonsense.  He liked my essay, he told me, and would use it—if I agreed to tone it down. It is a little too harsh, he said.  But I would not agree to tone it down, so the essay was canned. I wanted it that way because it is my contention that people who write Folderol deserve no charitable concessions. It is life that such people resent; it is the strict rules and conditions that life imposes on all of us that such people hate and will do everything they can to dance around.

People who claim otherwise are often vilified precisely because we insist that A is A when virtually everyone around us is saying A is B, C, D, E, or X. In one of his books, Albert Camus wrote that there comes a time every now and then in history when a person who says that 2 and 2 equal 4 is punished with death.  We live today in one such time.

College women have suffered a dramatic loss in dignity, you write.  Indeed, that is evident when comparing class photographs like the one you used or similar college or high school class photographs from the 1930s or 1950s with those from today. I suggest that such loss of dignity is a consequence of the abandonment by American white men of their proper patriarchal and masculine authority and the responsibility to uphold strict rules without apology or compromise.  This is just one example of why Americans who enforced those rules decades ago were wiser by far than today’s hip, cool feminists who imagine they are going to redesign the universe.

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