Quotes of the Day

Three assorted quotes.

The first is from Caitlin Flanagan, a wonderfully zesty writer, who takes on MySpace and online predators in the latest Atlantic Monthly (subscribers only). Unlike so many failed attempts to capture this phenomenon, Flanagan opines with originality and humor.

With the Internet, children are marching out into the world every second of every day. They’re sitting in their bedrooms—wearing their retainers, topped up with multivitamins, radiating the good care and safekeeping that is their lot in life in America at the beginning of the new century—and they’re posting photographs of themselves, typing private sentiments, unthinkingly laying down a trail of bread crumbs leading straight to their dance recitals and Six Flags trips and Justin Timberlake concerts, places where anyone with an interest in retainer-wearing 13-year-olds is free to follow them.

A great sentence. And here she is after describing the elite private girls school of Jenna in Los Angeles:

The current resurgence of girls’ schools like Jenna’s is based on the idea that to become strong and powerful, girls need an environment in which they are protected from the various energies and appetites of adolescent boys. Free of the sexually charged atmosphere that will always pervade coed high schools, they can emerge and evolve in ways they never could in the presence of ogling, domineering boys. What contemporary parents of daughters—among them some of the most liberal-minded—have come to believe is not so different from what 19th-century parents believed: The sexual unfolding of a young girl is such a fraught process emotionally as well as physically that she needs to be carefully sheltered from the myriad forces that would seek to exploit or coarsen her as she reconciles the girl that she was with her biological destiny. That Jenna’s parents would pour such a river of cash into her school tuition to grant her that safe and gentle place, and that—at the cost of not one cent—she would have created a MySpace page so dangerously revealing (in every sense of the word) is a terrific irony.


George Will on one of the biggest questions in political philosophy:

Is liberty valuable because it promotes virtuous behavior? Or is liberty merely necessary because, given that there are deep disagreements about what virtuous behavior is, we must agree to leave one another a lot of social space to do as we please, or we shall not have social peace?


Tom Brokaw in his commencement address at Skidmore College:

You’ve been told during your high school years and your college years that you are now about to enter the real world, and you’ve been wondering what it’s like. Let me tell you that the real world is not college. The real world is not high school. The real world, it turns out, is much more like junior high. You are going to encounter, for the rest of your life, the same petty jealousies, the same irrational juvenile behavior, the same uncertainty that you encountered during your adolescent years. That is your burden. We all share it with you. We wish you well.

4 Responses to Quotes of the Day

  1. Jason G. says:

    Interesting posts, Ben.

    Forgive me if I sound crass, but I am sick to death of these “online predator” stories. In fact, I’m willing to go so far as to say that such a risk doesn’t even exist.

    Hear me out: Dateline specials aside, when have we actually heard of any child being abducted from their home by someone they’ve met, or even running away with them? When you get into things like murder or sexual assault, the numbers are even fewer.

    This whole thing is reminiscent of the Satanic Cult scenario in the 1980s; intense media coverage and public fear, but very few facts to support the rather outlandish claims.

    Has there been any investigation as to how many teens each year are actually assaulted as a result of internet encounters? I’ve seen many TV specials of adults PRETENDING to be teens and having the “predator” show up to a private residence, but as of yet, I have yet to see any instance of a child doing the same.

    For let us not forget: Shawn Hornbeck’s and Elizabeth Smart’s cases had nothing to do with the internet.

    Feel free to post your thoughts, everyone. I’m eager to see if anyone agrees, or if I really am crazy.

  2. andrew says:

    hahaha that brokaw quote is as scary as it is hilarious, and at the same time sounds like a serious possibility… you should put up that quote about the dude from dateline saying that ish about “bestiality. what are you doing chasing that cat” hahaha classic

    and to the post above: its not just that these guys are going to kidnap children, they just want a chance to wrestle in the play pen for an hour or two and then vanish…they want their sick perverted fun but still want their “normal” lives (thats at least what my CMC psych prof said)

  3. That George Will quote came from his review of AGE OF ABUNDANCE– How Prosperity Transformed America’s Politics and Culture, by Brink Lindsey.

    I was struck by this passage:

    “Ever since mass affluence, a phenomenon without precedent in the human story, exploded upon postwar America, social and political theorists have wondered, and worried, about the moral and even the spiritual consequences of material conditions. Putting scarcity behind us has been pleasant, but has it been good for us — meaning good for our souls?”

    As a person with some Native American ancestry (Cherokee), it would be pleasant to see an occasional acknowledgment from the vicars of unrestrained capitalism that this ‘wonderful’ prosperity was built on “a sustained and furious assault” on the land rights of the original ‘owners’ of this land.

    I’d like to see the starched collar pundits, those concubines of Wall Street, agonize over the corrosive effect that the ‘doctrine’ of manifest destiny had on the souls of the white people who applied the ‘revolutionary’ notion that “all people are created equal” so imperfectly.

    I’d like to hear the talking heads protruding from their stuffed shirts discuss the spiritual consequences of the holocaust that was visited on the millions of the original inhabitants of this continent by white people.

    I have to suppress the reflex to vomit when I read such sophistry as Lindsey’s “Thus did the miracle of Bethlehem make way for the miracle on 34th Street”.

    There it is! The raw, undisguised faith that this celebrated material abundance accrues naturally to the descendants of the white Christian invaders.

    So the Puritan ethic is alive and well, at least in the minds of George Will and Brink Lindsey.

    The social gospel is sounding better everyday.

  4. nordsieck says:

    Re: George Will,

    Without taking a stand either way, it is non-sensical to say that liberty promotes virtuous behavior – virtue is impossible without liberty.

    That is not to say that one cannot have beneficial outcomes without choice, merely that said outcomes have no ethical component.

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