My wife and I used to laugh ourselves silly over the Caligula episodes of “I, Claudius” when it was on TV. Ha, ha, ha—he’s declared himself a god! Now he’s made his horse a senator! Look at this, he’s changing the names of the months on the calendar! Oh, man, the guy is a riot!
But it doesn’t seem so funny now. What must it have been like, to be governed by a raving lunatic who had absolute power? And why did all those army officers, senators, lawyers, and rich, important people always try to humor Caligula and toady up to him, when they should have all defied him? How many of them was he able to murder before they finally turned on him?
Roman culture made this possible. Once upon a time, Roman culture made such things impossible. But it changed. And it kept on changing until they wound up with Caligula.
Our American culture has been changing fast. I remember when it was not only impossible, but unimaginable, for certain kinds of things to happen that now happen every day and are shrugged off, tolerated, or even celebrated.
Just a very few years ago Anthony Weiner’s political career crashed and burned because he wagged his flag at women who didn’t wish to see it. Today Donald Trump is excoriated by the media for calling Weiner a “perv sleazebag”. Huh! You mean he isn’t? But if he is neither a pervert nor a sleazebag, based solely on what he actually did, and more than once, then it has probably become impossible to become a pervert or a sleazebag—at least in our culture.
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We live in the culture like fish live in water: or, in the case of some of our most prominent and influential citizens, like bacteria live in a petri dish.
A few weeks back The New York Post reported on “the top administrator in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office” driving his wife insane by his “twisted sex demands”. This guy—whose job is to see that persons who break the law are punished—was a pip, described in his wife’s divorce petition as “predatory and extreme[ly] depraved.” You won’t believe the antics he got up to. And if his wife’s allegations are not true—well, all I can say is, she’s got very active imagination and should probably go to work for Hollywood… writing more sleaze that can be pumped into our culture and then into our heads.
Can we pull ourselves back from the brink of the abyss by obtaining more education? Surely you jest.
At the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, a highly-paid doofus who is “the vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion” (whatever the dickens that is), is exhorting students to jettison normal English pronouns and instead resort to idiotic “gender neutral” pronouns—like “ze” and “zis” and “xyr”. This is going to cost you how much in student debt? You think it’s going to make you smarter? Acquire wisdom by babbling?
Further down the education food chain—oops, shouldn’t have mentioned “food”—kids come back to public school and the same unappetizing Michelle Obama lunches that they rebelled against last year. Caligula never thought of meddling with the food eaten by ordinary Roman families, although he was known to poison a senator or two. But the Worst Lady, the president’s wife, whom no one voted for, who has no more lawful authority than you do, gets to meddle all the time.
What kind of people put up with this? Why, the same kind of people who put up with their “president” arbitrarily renaming major geographical features when the spirit movies him. Caligula did think of doing that, and did it often. Our emperor, or whatever he is, is only getting started. Today he renames Mt. McKinley “Denali.” Tomorrow, who knows? Which famous peak is going to become “Mt. Margaret Sanger,” as a way of paying tribute—over and above the half a billion dollars a year in public money—to Planned Parenthood?
We imbibe all this. We breathe it with the air. We debase our culture, debauch it, load it with frivolity, and then expect it to produce leaders and governors with anything but debased, debauched, and frivolous character? When they’re not doing evil, they occupy themselves with silliness.
Just look at them. Just take a long, hard look.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.