Today is the centenary of Alec Guinness. I picked out a few favorite films from his long career in the SteynOnline weekend movie date.
~THE INVISIBLE MAN: I first wrote about mass murderer Kermit Gosnell three years ago:
From the Office of the District Attorney in Philadelphia:
'Viable babies were born*. Gosnell killed them by plunging scissors into their spinal cords. He taught his staff to do the same.'
This is a remarkable moment in American life: A man is killing actual living, gurgling, bouncing babies on an industrial scale - and it barely makes the papers. Had he plunged his scissors into the spinal cord of a Democrat politician in Arizona, then The New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC and everyone else would be linking it to Sarah Palin's uncivil call for dramatic cuts in government spending. But "Doctor" Kermit Gosnell's mound of corpses is apparently entirely unconnected to the broader culture.
He never did make the papers, notwithstanding that he has the highest corpse count of any serial killer in American history:
There used to be a formulation of cynical news editors to determine American news priorities for mass murder. It ran something like: 1,000 dead Bangladeshis = 100 dead Italians = 10 dead Americans.
So how many dead American babies does it take to make the news..?
The U.S. media's unanimous agreement to see no evil is sick and totalitarian. A very small consolation is that, with news judgments like these, the wretched American press is doing a pretty good job of sawing through its own neck.
For me, the silence of the broader culture became as disturbing as the mound of corpses:
Gosnell's murderous regime in Philadelphia reflects on him. The case's all but total absence from the public discourse reflects on America.
Phelim McAleer and his missus Ann McElhinney have determined to break the silence. They're the enterprising Irish couple who made the documentary Not Evil Just Wrong to challenge Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, the film that made Michael Mann's hockey stick a Hockeywood star and was at the time being rammed down the throats of every schoolkid in the western world. For obvious reasons, this is a subject close to my heart at the moment.
McAleer & McElhinney are now planning a documentary on Gosnell's abattoir - the first and maybe the last such film, given that James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Michael Moore et al do not seem to be engaged by "Dr" Gosnell and his astonishing corpse count. So the pair went to Kickstarter to "crowdsource" the film's funding - only to find themselves Kickstarted off:
Kickstarter had previously helped producers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer raise over $200,000 for their documentary FrackNation. But the filmmakers say the crowdfunding company slow-walked their project once it learned about the topic. McAleer and McElhinney say Kickstarter did not respond to multiple e-mails for several days and finally responded with a request that the project video be amended before it could go live.
We ask that the phrase '1000s of babies stabbed to death' and similar language be modified or removed from the project," a Kickstarter representative identified as George said in a March 27 e-mail to Ann and Phelim Media. "We understand your convictions and the horror of this person's crimes, however we are a broad website used by millions of people. Our Community Guidelines outline that we encourage and enforce a culture of respect and consideration, and we ask that that language specifically be modified for those reasons..."
McAleer says the Gosnell project was singled out for these changes. He points to the Kickstarter campaign for a film project about the Swedish-American serial killer Belle Gunness, which he says had "a picture of a dead body on the project page."
Other controversial Kickstarter projects that McAleer says received funding include:
- 16 projects about stabbing
- 5 projects about incest
- One project with the "C" word in the project description
- 44 projects about rape
- 28 projects with the word F**k or F**king in the title
"Some of these projects were based on true stories, some were works of fiction, but all were allowed onto Kickstarter," says McAleer.
When I launched my legal offense fund for my big-picture free-speech pushback against an extremist Big Climate coterie that has bullied too many people for too long, a lot of people wrote to me and said, "I don't want your crappy books and lousy CDs, Steyn. Why don't you crowdsource this campaign? It'd be a lot easier." And the reason I didn't go to one of the big crowdsourcing sites is precisely because of what befell Mr and Mrs McAleer. Kathy Shaidle has been saying this about "the landlords of social media" for years - and years: "We don't need another conservative website ...with a faux-ballsy name like TakeThat!"; we need versions of YouTube and Blogger and now, apparently, Kickstarter. The Internet is built by people who are smart and savvy and "think outside the box" in technological terms - and on everything else are as conformist as the dreary obsolescent hacks at the dullest Gannett monodaily. And at some point or another, on abortion or "climate change" or Islamic imperialism, they'll yank the rug out from under you to "enforce a culture of respect and consideration". That's why I'd rather go my own way. It's hard work, and it's certainly tough on my rather small staff. But it's less frustrating than being told by CrowdSourcer.com that they'd like you to tone down your remarks on Michael Mann's false claim to have been exonerated because the League of Climate Conformists is threatening to damn them as deniers.
~THE CONFORMISM OF COOL: As an example of the groupthink of the cutting edge of new media, consider an exception that proves the rule:
Mozilla CEO Resists Calls to Resign Amid Furor Over Anti-Gay Marriage Donation
The "anti-gay marriage donation" was $1,000 that Brendan Eich gave to California's Proposition 8, which in November 2008 was approved by the same electorate that voted for President Obama and which banned same-sex marriage in the state - until the Supreme Court ruled that the voice of the people on this matter was "unconstitutional". A five-year-old one-grand donation to a losing cause is apparently enough to render Mr Eich unfit for office at an American technology company. Because what matters in this brave new world is that everybody think alike - or at least pretend to. Invited to eat gay crow, Mozilla's CEO is for the moment holding his own:
In a blog post last week, Eich expressed "sorrow at having caused pain" but stopped short of saying his beliefs on gay marriage have changed... Eich says it remains to be seen whether pressure from the community forces his ouster. But given another chance to offer support of gay marriage, he wouldn't take it. Asked whether he would support Prop. 8 today, Eich responded, "I hadn't thought about that. It seems that's a dead issue. I don't want to answer hypotheticals."
I would doubt Mr Eich's views have changed. He appears to hold the same definition of marriage that 99.99 per cent of the civilized world held until the day before yesterday, and which even today half of America still quaintly believes in. But the author of this piece, "senior reporter" Casey Newton, seems to think it entirely normal that in order to keep his job a man should be bullied into a false public recantation of his personal beliefs. Mr Newton's publication covers all the cool stuff - "the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture" - but the assumptions underpinning the story are as thuggish and totalitarian as any state commissar prescribing re-education camp for ideological deviancy. And nobody young and hip seems to find that in the least bit weird.
~DUCK Ã€ L'ORANGE: This seems as good a time as any to confirm, for those California readers who've queried my absence from The Orange County Register, that I will not be returning to that paper. They declined to publish my column on "Duck Dynasty", which is their choice but which is also in breach of my contract with them. And, if you're going to spike a column, then one about how in a cowed and craven culture the bounds of public discourse are becoming ever more shrunken is probably not the one to pick. This narrowing of the parameters in which we are permitted to think is what I called, in the Gosnell context, "the collapse of the American skull". Whether it's Kickstarter or Michael Mann, Casey Newton or The Orange County Register, the default position of more and more of American life is: You can't say that.
Oh, yes, I can. Screw off.