Giving the JPod Its Due (or, Horton Gaslights a Who)

 

Despite occasional comments of mine that might suggest otherwise, I’ve always thought John Podhoretz a decent and good-hearted man, obviously bright and articulate (if prone to outrageous and sometimes comic hyperbole).

John made a point in the March 9 Commentary podcast that I thought was perspicacious and worth repeating. I give him full credit for the observation, and nothing I say here adds anything of substance to what he said in the podcast. I’m repeating it mostly for the benefit of those who won’t hear the podcast, and also because I want to reaffirm his observations with my own experience.

John referred to the Dr. Seuss incident as an instance of gaslighting. (Gaslighting, for anyone unfamiliar with the term, is the practice of deceiving someone into believing that they are being irrational and/or going insane; in its most classic form by pretending not to notice peculiar events, or pretending that there’s nothing strange about obviously strange situations. The term comes from a British play of the same name in which the villain engages in the practice.)

Anyway, John points out a few things about the Dr. Seuss kerfuffle: that the initial pulling of Dr. Seuss books occurred in a library in response to a patron’s complaints; that President Biden broke with recent tradition when he omitted reference to Dr. Seuss on “Read Across America Day,” which is held on Theodor Geisel’s birthday, March 2nd; that Dr. Seuss Enterprises immediately stopped publication of the six “offensive” volumes in response to “public pressure”; and that eBay immediately blocked the resale of used copies of the “offending” works.

All of that, John observes, was occurring on the progressive side of the cultural aisle.

The gaslighting comes in when conservatives begin pointing out how silly this is. This is where my own experience dovetails perfectly with what John is describing. The left’s response to conservative criticism of the sudden banning of a handful of children’s books has been to suggest that conservatives are crazy to obsess about this. They point out that this is simply an instance of a private company deciding not to publish a few books. Talk of censorship, of purging the public square of unapproved content, of rewriting history, etc., are all delusional.

It is obvious that conservatives must simply be sliding deeper into that insanity that, let’s face it, has been gripping them all along.

This is precisely what I experienced when I posted on this topic on Facebook a few days ago. It was pointed out to me that it’s a private company: surely I didn’t want to force them to publish something, did I? My references to eBay went ignored. There were chuckles about the triviality of this, about how silly it was to get worked up about a handful of children’s books that, anyway, simply weren’t making money for their publisher and as such, should of course be discontinued. Etc.


When a villain gaslights his victim in a work of fiction, he knows exactly what he’s doing. His machinations are part of a deliberate and diabolical plan to drive someone insane. In real life, most gaslighting is, I suspect, performed by manipulative and abusive people who use similar techniques to convince someone (read: abused wife) that he or she is broken, guilty, responsible for bad things, etc. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if most who engage in that practice did it instinctively. My limited experience with sociopathic sorts suggests that they have a gift for that particular kind of evil, and take to it naturally and even without thinking. But I don’t have a mind like that and I honestly don’t know.

The left is certainly gaslighting us about Dr. Seuss. They’re doing the same thing when they say “Cancel culture? What cancel culture?” But I’m not at all sure that most people who respond that way know they’re doing it. While I find it hard to understand how people can blithely accept the creeping suppression of dissent and dissenting ideas, and how they can fail to see what seems to me to be obvious, I have to believe that most of them honestly don’t think free expression is under assault.

Hmm. Or, just maybe, I’m going insane…

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Your post points out that we must be very clear on our values, our goals and our beliefs in so many things that we do. We have to be willing to consider that we may not always be right, but we also know that we are not always wrong. When we verify that we are correct, we have to push back and speak out. I would like to think that most of us know who we are, know what is good and true, and will not stand for others to attack and discount our positions!

    • #1
  2. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Henry Racette: Or, just maybe, I’m going insane….

    Going?

    • #2
  3. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: Or, just maybe, I’m going insane….

    Going?

    Just what kind of doctor are you, again?

    • #3
  4. Kephalithos Member
    Kephalithos
    @Kephalithos

    Henry Racette: When a villain gaslights his victim in a work of fiction, he knows exactly what he’s doing. His machinations are part of a deliberate and diabolical plan to drive someone insane. In real life, most gaslighting is, I suspect, performed by manipulative and abusive people who use similar techniques to convince someone (read: abused wife) that he or she is broken, guilty, responsible for bad things, etc. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if most who engage in that practice did it instinctively. My limited experience with sociopathic sorts suggests that they have a gift for that particular kind of evil, and take to it naturally and even without thinking. But I don’t have a mind like that and I honestly don’t know.

    The left, as it currently exists, is a toxic alliance between sociopaths and narcissists (the radicals and activist types) and overly agreeable people (like the average upper-middle-class American woman, who values “being nice” above all else). The radicals guilt the overly agreeable into compliance via emotional blackmail. “If you don’t do what I say,” they threaten, “I’ll cry! And you don’t want me to cry, do you?”

    This is the logical consequence of the west’s embrace of emotivism. We now have a society which honors not accomplishment, but victimhood. And all of our institutions, from the schools to corporations to the state itself, now seem to believe that their primary function is the adjudicating of interpersonal conflict.

    • #4
  5. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Henry Racette: The left is certainly gaslighting us about Dr. Seuss. They’re doing the same thing when they say “Cancel culture?

    And Antifa.   It’s just an idea…

    • #5
  6. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Racette: This is precisely what I experienced when I posted on this topic on Facebook a few days ago. It was pointed out to me that it’s a private company: surely I didn’t want to force them to publish something, did I? My references to ebay went ignored. There were chuckles about the triviality of this, about how silly it was to get worked up about a handful of children’s books that, anyway, simply weren’t making money for their publisher and so should of course be discontinued. Etc.

    A lot of these people aren’t gaslighting, I suspect. They are being misled by the Media-Democrat-Big Tech complex. They are only aware of the most ridiculous, uninformed things (or caricatures of things) conservatives are saying about Dr. Seuss.

    • #6
  7. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: This is precisely what I experienced when I posted on this topic on Facebook a few days ago. It was pointed out to me that it’s a private company: surely I didn’t want to force them to publish something, did I? My references to ebay went ignored. There were chuckles about the triviality of this, about how silly it was to get worked up about a handful of children’s books that, anyway, simply weren’t making money for their publisher and so should of course be discontinued. Etc.

    A lot of these people aren’t gaslighting, I suspect. They are being misled by the Media-Democrat-Big Tech complex. They are only aware of the most ridiculous, uninformed things (or caricatures of things) conservatives are saying about Dr. Seuss.

    Oh, that’s absolutely true of most people on the left, I’m sure. But the ones who jump in with the list of standard progressive responses — those I mentioned above — seem more active. Given that they are always (in my experience) people of the left, and people who never, in any other context, invoke property rights as a defense of anything, I can’t help but think that they’re actually employing a technique, rather than simply repeating something they’ve heard. They’re motivated.

    That doesn’t mean they know they’re doing it. But I think they’re doing it.

    • #7
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Right on, HR.

    (Looks like there’s a word missing in the last sentence.)

    • #8
  9. Barry Jones Thatcher
    Barry Jones
    @BarryJones

    I am curious as to how many people equaled the “public outrage” referenced…Who are these people and how many of them are there? Wouldn’t it be fun for the publisher (in this instance, but in others, the Corporation or persons attacked) to publish a list of who complained and their emails? Perhaps it is a little extreme, but the Left has been perfectly happy to name names of who contributed to what political cause and to dox whoever they took some offense from. Of coarse, that would mean that the Corporation didn’t agree with the complainer and just needed an excuse to do whatever they did…

    • #9
  10. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Henry Racette: When a villain gaslights his victim in a work of fiction, he knows exactly what he’s doing. His machinations are part of a deliberate and diabolical plan to drive someone insane. In real life, most gaslighting is, I suspect, performed by manipulative and abusive people who use similar techniques to convince someone (read: abused wife) that he or she is broken, guilty, responsible for bad things, etc. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if most who engage in that practice did it instinctively. My limited experience with sociopathic sorts suggests that they have a gift for that particular kind of evil, and take to it naturally and even without thinking. But I don’t have a mind like that and I honestly don’t know.

    Oh, you are spot on about this.  Trust me.  I do know. (EDIT:  Not from the “abused wife” standpoint that you posit.  I just want to make that clear.) What is sad is that so many sociopathic narcissists carry so many dupes along with them in their fantasies and delusions.

    Henry Racette: While I find it hard to understand how people can blithely accept the creeping suppression of dissent and dissenting ideas, and can even fail to see what seems to me to be obvious, I have to believe that most of them honesty don’t think free expression is under assault.

    It’s not so much that they don’t think that free expression is under assault, as that they are so much in love with the wheels turning inside their own heads that they cannot understand why you do not find the revolutions of those wheels as fascinating as they do, why you insist on cutting to the chase, or why you think that factors external to their own revealed “truth” should matter at all.

    • #10
  11. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: This is precisely what I experienced when I posted on this topic on Facebook a few days ago. It was pointed out to me that it’s a private company: surely I didn’t want to force them to publish something, did I? My references to ebay went ignored. There were chuckles about the triviality of this, about how silly it was to get worked up about a handful of children’s books that, anyway, simply weren’t making money for their publisher and so should of course be discontinued. Etc.

    A lot of these people aren’t gaslighting, I suspect. They are being misled by the Media-Democrat-Big Tech complex. They are only aware of the most ridiculous, uninformed things (or caricatures of things) conservatives are saying about Dr. Seuss.

    Oh, that’s absolutely true of most people on the left, I’m sure. But the ones who jump in with the list of standard progressive responses — those I mentioned above — seem more active. Given that they are always (in my experience) people of the left, and people who never, in any other context, invoke property rights as a defense of anything, I can’t help but think that they’re actually employing a technique, rather than simply repeating something they’ve heard. They’re motivated.

    That doesn’t mean they know they’re doing it. But I think they’re doing it.

    They are using our arguments against us. They have been for a long while.

    • #11
  12. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Right on, HR.

    (Looks like there’s a word missing in the last sentence.)

    I don’t think so, but I admit it’s a little awkward (if you’re talking about the part that reads “and can even fail to see”). I’m going to fix it. Thanks. ;)

    • #12
  13. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Right on, HR.

    (Looks like there’s a word missing in the last sentence.)

    I don’t think so, but I admit it’s a little awkward (if you’re talking about the part that reads “and can even fail to see”). I’m going to fix it. Thanks. ;)

    Glad to accidentally help.  Guess I was unclear.

    But I was talking about the last sentence of the prior comment, which looked to me like it was missing a word. Two, actually.

    “That doesn’t mean they know they’re doing it. But I think [they know] they’re doing it.”

    • #13
  14. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Right on, HR.

    (Looks like there’s a word missing in the last sentence.)

    I don’t think so, but I admit it’s a little awkward (if you’re talking about the part that reads “and can even fail to see”). I’m going to fix it. Thanks. ;)

    Glad to accidentally help. Guess I was unclear.

    But I was talking about the last sentence of the prior comment, which looked to me like it was missing a word. Two, actually.

    “That doesn’t mean they know they’re doing it. But I think [they know] they’re doing it.”

    Oh. No, I mean that think they’re doing it. Whether they know they’re doing it or not.

    • #14
  15. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Oh. No, I mean that think they’re doing it. Whether they know they’re doing it or not.

    Jolly good.

    • #15
  16. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: Or, just maybe, I’m going insane….

    Going?

    Just what kind of doctor are you, again?

    This is what helps me keep going in this crazy time…

    • #16
  17. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    She (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: When a villain gaslights his victim in a work of fiction, he knows exactly what he’s doing. His machinations are part of a deliberate and diabolical plan to drive someone insane. In real life, most gaslighting is, I suspect, performed by manipulative and abusive people who use similar techniques to convince someone (read: abused wife) that he or she is broken, guilty, responsible for bad things, etc. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if most who engage in that practice did it instinctively. My limited experience with sociopathic sorts suggests that they have a gift for that particular kind of evil, and take to it naturally and even without thinking. But I don’t have a mind like that and I honestly don’t know.

    Oh, you are spot on about this. Trust me. I do know. (EDIT: Not from the “abused wife” standpoint that you posit. I just want to make that clear.) What is sad is that so many sociopathic narcissists carry so many dupes along with them in their fantasies and delusions.

    She, if this is what I think it is, you are completely accurate.  That was a damned shame, with long-standing friendships ruined.  People can create entire false narratives for others. 

    I have a friend who is on the left.  He’s not even that woke – he’s very politically incorrect, pro-gun, pro-nuclear, and skeptical of government.  However, he buys into a lot of the left’s narrative that the culture war and cancel culture do not exist.  He only hears part of the story.  He used the same line about the Seuss books being nothing worth discussing and a made up controversy

    • #17
  18. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I agree with this post.  The left attacks their own because they can, and it sets precedent for them to expect us to comply with the new standard.

    This is why they are attacking Cuomo.  They know that the right won’t rise to his defense.  They get to eliminate a politician who is getting too powerful for them to have absolute control over, and the position he is elected to is sure to vote for their patsy at the next election.  They get to establish a new standard for removal which they will soon be demanding in all elected and unelected positions.

     

    • #18
  19. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Stolen election? What stolen election? What does a little cheating at the ballot box matter? Keep those crazy MAGA-types away from the Capitol at all costs.

    • #19
  20. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: Or, just maybe, I’m going insane….

    Going?

    Just what kind of doctor are you, again?

    “I’m an orthodontist!”

    (Victor Buono in a classic episode of “The Odd Couple” where Felix is convinced their air conditioner is haunted.)

    • #20
  21. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Good post, Hank.

    I write to agree with your attitude toward JPod.  I continue to have a fondness for him, though for me, both the Commentary podcast and GLoP came to exhibit an excess of Trump Derangement Syndrome, which led me to stop listening.  This is disappointing, as I previously liked both of them.

    Nevertheless, I agree that JPod is a fine fellow.  As are Jonah and Rob.  At the moment, they’re a bit like friends who’ve gone a bit kooky, so I’m avoiding them in the hope that the disagreement will diminish with time.

    • #21
  22. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Good post, Hank.

    I write to agree with your attitude toward JPod. I continue to have a fondness for him, though for me, both the Commentary podcast and GLoP came to exhibit an excess of Trump Derangement Syndrome, which led me to stop listening. This is disappointing, as I previously liked both of them.

    Nevertheless, I agree that JPod is a fine fellow. As are Jonah and Rob. At the moment, they’re a bit like friends who’ve gone a bit kooky, so I’m avoiding them in the hope that the disagreement will diminish with time.

    And still right on most things–where the Trump blind spot doesn’t get in the way.

    • #22
  23. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Good post, Hank.

    I write to agree with your attitude toward JPod. I continue to have a fondness for him, though for me, both the Commentary podcast and GLoP came to exhibit an excess of Trump Derangement Syndrome, which led me to stop listening. This is disappointing, as I previously liked both of them.

    Nevertheless, I agree that JPod is a fine fellow. As are Jonah and Rob. At the moment, they’re a bit like friends who’ve gone a bit kooky, so I’m avoiding them in the hope that the disagreement will diminish with time.

    They probably will heal faster if we leave them alone for a while. (The only one of those I have paid any attention to in recent years is Jonah. I used to read Mona’s columns many, many years ago.) They could also get worse without intervention, but that’s a chance we’ll have to take. Intervention doesn’t have a good chance of working.

    • #23
  24. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: Or, just maybe, I’m going insane….

    Going?

    Just what kind of doctor are you, again?

    See the source image

    • #24