A journey into the far hells of liberalism

Are you feeling strong—strong enough to travel into the heart of liberal darkness? Then you might be ready to read Newsweek’s horrifying, compelling article about 15-year-old Larry King of Oxnard, California. Born to a drug-using mother and an absent father, raised by foster parents, and also half “African-American” (though apparently few people knew it), Larry was an extremely troubled, self-identified “gay” who was permitted by the authorities of E. O. Green Junior High School—particularly a lesbian assistant principal—to act out every sexual perversity, including wearing make-up and three-inch high heels in school and making conspicuous sexual passes at other boys, until, one morning in English class, he was shot dead in cold blood by a 14-year-old classmate.

The author of the Newsweek article, Ramin Setoodeh, sums up the issues raised by this disaster as follows:

How do you protect legitimate, personal expression while preventing inappropriate, sometimes harmful, behavior? Larry King was, admittedly, a problematical test case: he was a troubled child who flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon—it was often his first line of defense. But his story sheds light on the difficulty of defining the limits of tolerance. As E. O. Green found, finding that balance presents an enormous challenge.

So Setoodeh, having written this nightmarish story, is nevertheless unable to conclude that the school authorities in this case showed too much tolerance—way, way too much tolerance. He doesn’t have it in him to state unequivocally that it was a mistake, period, to allow and encourage a 15-year-old boy to behave like a sexual freak in the halls and classrooms of a junior high school. So imbued is Setoodeh with the standardless liberalism that allowed this horror to occur (the same standardless liberalism that has filled our country with unassimilable aliens), that the only thing he derives from the event is unresolvable “problems,” “difficulties,” “challenges.” Even on the brink of hell, even teetering over the Cracks of Doom, the liberal still finds himself “troubled” by “disturbing” questions to which he has no answer.

* * *

While you are reading the Newsweek article, and wondering about the state of society in which a school such as E.O. Green could exist, consider these words from Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose’s short, indispensable book, Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age (available online here):

Nihilist rebellion is a war against God and against Truth; but few Nihilists are fully aware of this. Explicit theological and philosophical Nihilism is the preserve of a few rare souls; for most, Nihilist rebellion takes the more immediate form of a war against authority. Many whose attitudes toward God and Truth may seem ambiguous reveal their Nihilism most clearly in their attitude toward—in Bakunin’s words—the “cursed and fatal principle of authority.”

The Nihilist “revelation” thus declares, most immediately, the annihilation of authority. Some apologists are fond of citing “corruptions,” “abuses,” and “injustices” in the Old Order as justification for rebellion against it; but such things—the existence of which no one will deny—have been often the pretext, but never the cause, of Nihilist outbursts. It is authority itself that the Nihilist attacks….The disorder so apparent in contemporary politics, religion, art, and other realms as well, is a result of the deliberate and systematic annihilation of the foundations of authority in them….

Nihilist rebellion has entered so deeply into the fibre of our age that resistance to it is feeble and ineffective; popular philosophy and most “serious thought” devote their energies to apology for it…. To the modern man whom Nihilism has “enlightened,” this Old Order is but a horrible memory of some dark past from which man has been “liberated”; modern history has been the chronicle of the fall of every authority. The Old Order has been overthrown, and if a precarious stability is maintained in what is unmistakably an age of “transition, a “new order” is clearly in the making; the age of the “rebel” is at hand.

Of this age the Nihilist regimes of this century have given a foretaste, and the widespread rebelliousness of the present day is a further portent; where there is no truth, the rebellious will reigns. But “the will,” said Dostoyevsky, with his customary insight into the Nihilist mentality, “is closest to nothing; the most assertive are closest to the most nihilistic.”[33] He who has abandoned truth and every authority founded upon that truth has only blind will between himself and the Abyss; and this will, whatever its spectacular achievements in its brief moment of power (those of Hitler and of Bolshevism have so far been the most spectacular), is irresistibly drawn to that Abyss as to some immense magnet that has searched out the answering abyss within itself. In this abyss, this nothingness of the man who lives without truth, we come to the very heart of Nihilism.

* * *

LA’s notes on Newsweek article

As I was reading the article the other day, I sent the following three e-mails to the correspondent who had sent it to me:

First e-mail:

I’m not quite half way through this article and my liberalism-as-the-systematic-destruction-of-everything circuits are already overloaded.

Second e-mail:

From the article:

Some teachers thought Larry was clearly in violation of the code, which prevents students from wearing articles of clothing considered distracting.

A bit of background on this. In the 1980s I wrote to Richard Green, the then New York City Schools Chancellor, about the horrible slovenly way school kids dressed, how destructive that had to be to any kind of learning or civilizing environment, and suggesting a simple dress code: shirts with collar for boys (no t shirts, sweat shirts, etc.), and regular pants, not jeans.

He wrote back explaining that under federal court decisions, schools could place restrictions on pupil dress ONLY if it “disrupted the learning process.” (Typical John Stuart Mill extreme liberal reasoning, like saying that all behavior must be permitted by the state and its institutions, such as public schools, except for physically attacking people, stealing from them, endangering safety, etc.) So total slovenliness was allowed. But, say, spiky orange hair might not be allowed, as that might lead to fights and disrupt the learning process.

However, in this case, even under the existing hyper-liberal (and outrageously unconstitutional) restrictions on school authority, Larry’s clothing, hair, etc. was clearly disruptive and should not have been allowed.

Third e-mail

The article continues:

On Jan. 29, every teacher received an e-mail with the subject line STUDENT RIGHTS. It was written by Sue Parsons, the eighth-grade assistant principal. “We have a student on campus who has chosen to express his sexuality by wearing make-up,” the e-mail said without mentioning Larry by name. “It is his right to do so. Some kids are finding it amusing, others are bothered by it. As long as it does not cause classroom disruptions he is within his rights.

Ok, here’s how they went beyond the “only disruptive clothing can be prohibited” rule to “boy dressed as girl is permitted” rule. In the first stage of advanced liberalism, as delineated in the federal court guidelines that Richard Green told me about, all clothing is permitted, except for clothing that is disruptive to the educational process. But in the second stage of advanced liberalism, an exception is made to the “disruptiveness” exception: in the case of a boy dressing as a female, the rule prohibiting disruptiveness is trumped by the rule prohibiting discrimination against sexual expression, or at least homosexual expression. In other words, if clothing, hair, or personal apparel that would otherwise be considered disruptive, and thus to be prohibited, is worn in order to convey the pupil’s supposed homosexual orientation, then the disruptiveness exception is canceled. and the John Stuart Mill principle of unrestrained liberty is restored.

Then this:

A few days later another teacher claims to have gone to the school principal, Joel Lovstedt. The teacher says she told him that she was concerned about Larry and she thought he was a danger to himself—she worried that he might fall in his three-inch stilettos and injure himself. [See? The John Stuart Mill principle in action. A boy can only be prevented from wearing three inch high heels in school if the heels endanger his physical safety.] Lovstedt told the teacher that he had directions, though he wouldn’t say from where, that they couldn’t intervene with Larry’s sexual expression.

This is now the third stage of advanced liberalism, going beyond dress to behavior. An eighth grade boy dressed as a woman (or rather like a prostitute or a male prostitute) is sexually taunting other boys in school, and this cannot be stopped because it would be discriminatory against homosexuals.

The obvious question now is whether Larry’s death could have been prevented. “Absolutely,” says Dannenberg. “Why do we have youngsters that have access to guns? Why don’t we have adequate funding to pay for social workers at the school to make sure students have resources? We have societal issues.”

Perfect. Under the first, second, and third stages of advanced yiberalism, liberals allow total societal and individual moral chaos to flourish, leading ultimately to murder. Then the liberals say that the murder and the other bad consequences could easily have been avoided if only the government had hired a sufficient number of social workers to manage the total societal and individual moral chaos that the liberals permitted and encouraged.

That anger [of Larry’s father] was made worse when he heard this summer that Epstein [the lesbian vice principal who encouraged Larry to act out] would be promoted to principal of an elementary school.


One gets the impression that no one involved in this event has learned anything, except maybe a vague feeling (and it is allowed only to be a vague feeling, not a fully formed thought) that the school allowed Larry to act out just a tad too much.

I guess this is what liberals would call a “troubling” situation.

- end of initial entry -

Kristor writes:

I have been reading J. Budziszewski’s What We Can’t Not Know. It is a pellucid primer on natural law, which I highly recommend to any traditionalist—I’m learning a ton. Just this evening I read a passage that struck me like a thunderbolt, illuminating the entire liberal nisus to level everything, to make everything equal and the same—which, by the logic of the lowest common denominator, means making everything equally base and stupid, sordid and wicked. I logged on to share it with you, and find that it is precisely apposite to the pathetic story of Larry King and Brandon McInerny. Budziszewski writes (on page 152):

Human beings … are designed for a partnership in good life with our kind. Because transgression casts us out of the partnership, one of the first effects of [the] guilty knowledge [that all men have of their sinfulness] is loneliness and a need to reconcile. If we refuse to restore the bonds we have broken [by our immoral behavior], then we must find substitutes. Thieves seek thieves for company; drunks seek drunks; molesters seek molesters. Just because these bonds are counterfeit, they cannot satisfy the need for reconciliation, so it presses us harder still. … The need for reconciliation explains why the movements for disordered sexuality—homosexual, pederastic, sadomasochistic—cannot be satisfied with toleration, but must propagandize, recruit, and convert. They do not suffer from sexual deprivation, for partners are easy enough to find. They suffer from social deprivation, because they are cut off from the everyday bonds of life. They want to belong; they want to belong as they are; there can be only one solution. Society must reconcile with them. The shape of human life must be transformed. All of the assumptions of normal sexuality must be dissolved: marriage, family, innocence, purity, childhood,—all must be called into question, even if it means pulling down the world around their ears.

The staff of Larry King’s school were convinced that they ought to form themselves in reconciliation to his perverse ways, and that they ought to force his classmates to do the same. But to become a member of a society, one must reconcile oneself to the ways thereof. By coddling King’s anti-social behavior, by forcing their society to accommodate to him, rather than vice versa, his teachers and administrators effectively eviscerated that society; Larry then had no coherent society to join, and his desperate search for the social limit—the search in which every child engages, so as to discover the right way to behave—became ever wilder, ever more frantic and deranged. Larry pulled his world down around his ears, and his teachers facilitated the procedure.

Now this is just what liberalism is doing to our whole nation. Chesterton says,

In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us. Thus in all extensive and highly civilized societies groups come into existence founded on what is called sympathy, and shut out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery. There is nothing really narrow about the clan; the thing which is really narrow is the clique. The men of the clan live together because they all wear the same tartan or are all descended from the same sacred cow; but in their souls, by the divine luck of things, there will always be more colours than in any tartan. But the men of the clique live together because they have the same kind of soul, and their narrowness is a narrowness of spiritual coherence and contentment, like that which exists in hell.

Liberalism would turn the nation from a great clan into a great clique, where everyone is the same, and so anyone is welcome to join because everyone who joins is the same. To do this, it is pulling down every tradition we have, so that no one needs to suffer any traditional limitation, clannish or familiar, to his free agency. It is deforming our society so as to reconcile it with its opposites, with its antagonists, with its enemies. It is demanding that we forswear the very concepts of opposite, antagonist, and enemy. The attack on traditional standards of behavior is its modus operandi. Has Larry failed—has his school administrator failed—to meet a traditional standard? Tear it down, says the school administrator; the new standard is no standards. Larry and his school administrator will make their own rules. Loss of tradition is the rot at the root. Budziszewski again (page 162):

Consider … traditionlessness in religion. A good many parents decline to give their children any religious instruction, saying that they think it is better to “let them make up their own minds.” But declining to teach [religion] is itself a way of teaching … a very definite creed with eight articles: (1) It is not important for children to know anything about God. (2) The questions which children naturally ask about Him require no answers. (3) Parents know nothing about Him worth passing on. (4) To think about Him adequately, no preparation is needed. (5) What adults think about Him makes no difference. (6) By implication, He does not make any difference either; God is not to be treated as God. (7) If anything is to be treated as God, it will have to be something other than Him. (8) This is the true creed, and all other creeds are false…. [A person thus] raised to “make up his own mind” … [will have] the habit of not taking important things seriously, and the habit of considering the way things really are as less important than what he thinks of them at the moment.

Traditionlessness thus inculcates atheism and nominalism, which provide “philosophical” support to the destruction of tradition. Nominalism is iconoclasm of the mind. At its logical end it makes society impossible by defacing all symbols of their reference to any truth, so that communication itself becomes impossible. Noise then overwhelms signal, wild clamor drowns intelligent discourse. It’s Babel all over again.

Michael P. writes:

I should have learned my lesson, never to read your blog at the beginning of a weekend, when thoughts ought to turn to more pleasant realities. [LA replies: I know, sorry about that. But I was too impressed by the article to wait until next week to post it.]

From the article:

“On Jan. 29, every teacher received an e-mail with the subject line STUDENT RIGHTS. It was written by Sue Parsons, the eighth-grade assistant principal. “We have a student on campus who has chosen to express his sexuality by wearing make-up,” the e-mail said without mentioning Larry by name. ‘It is his right to do so.’ “

Since when is it a “right” to express one’s sexuality in junior high school?

“Sarah Ranjbar, one of Larry’s principals. ‘He was slightly effeminate but very sure of his personality.’ “

That was the last thing the kid was sure of.

“And he told a teacher that he wanted to be called Leticia, since no one at school knew he was half African-American. The teacher said firmly, ‘Larry, I’m not calling you Leticia.’ “

Is this a “black” name? So, it would have been OK if the kid’s racial makeup were known?

“Some teachers thought Larry was clearly in violation of the code, which prevents students from wearing articles of clothing considered distracting.”

Note that a boy wearing lipstick and eyeliner is not “distracting,” it is just “considered” distracting, as if this sort of thing is a simply a matter of opinion, and anyone’s opinion is as good as any other.

“One student remembered that Larry would often walk up close to Brandon and stare at him. Larry had studied Brandon so well, he once knew when he had a scratch on his arm—Larry even claimed that he had given it to Brandon by mistake, when the two were together. Larry told one of his close friends that he and Brandon had dated but had broken up. He also said that he’d threatened to tell the entire school about them, if Brandon wasn’t nicer to him. Quest, Brandon’s defense attorney, says there was no relationship between Larry and Brandon, and one of Larry’s teachers says that Larry was probably lying to get attention.”

See the attached quote, below.

“My class was in a frenzy every day with Larry stories,” says a humanities teacher who didn’t have Larry as one of her students. He wore a Playboy-bunny necklace, which one of his teachers told him to remove because it was offensive to women.”

Yes…it is all an effort keep from “offending” a protected group. Who cares that the entire situation underscores an offense to civilized culture?

“We have a student on campus who has chosen to express his sexuality by wearing make-up,” the e-mail said without mentioning Larry by name. “It is his right to do so. Some kids are finding it amusing, others are bothered by it. As long as it does not cause classroom disruptions he is within his rights. We are asking that you talk to your students about being civil and non-judgmental.”

But, whatever happens, we don’t want to make a judgment.

“The teacher says she told him that she was concerned about Larry and she thought he was a danger to himself—she worried that he might fall in his three-inch stilettos and injure himself.”

You could not make this stuff up. When adult thinking is as absurd as student behavior, what can you expect?

Tim W. writes:

Kristor wrote:

“It’s Babel all over again.”

And note that the solution to Babel was the dispersal of the collective, the scattering of the people abroad across the face of the earth. The late Sam Francis would have called this scattering “external diversity,” as opposed to the “internal diversity” that is today being forced upon us.

It is this modern liberal obsession with internal diversity which is the crowning manifestation of nihilism. It is what leaves us with governments which exist simply to perpetuate their existence and expand their power. For having degraded every other source of authority, the only one remaining is the state, which is needed by liberals to force everyone to conform to the “tolerance” paradigm.

Liberals war with tradition because they can’t permit any authority preceding the state. They war with the family because they can’t permit any authority outside the state. They war with God because they can’t permit any authority above the state. They war with private property because they can’t permit any authority independent of the state. Once authority is concentrated in government, it is then ratcheted upward, with nations conceding power to regional unions (such as the EU) and the final end being the world government longed for by the left, a government from which no one can escape.

Nihilism is a void, but something fills it. And that something is the all-powerful regime.

Bill Carpenter writes:

I once characterized the abortion and AIDS carnage as a gnostic holocaust: gnostic because arising from a disdain for the limits inherent in the order of being, which disdain is connected with erroneous convictions regarding divine and human nature. For the gnostic the divine is a passive transcendental principle, which the human can assimilate and master by acts of sacrifice and will. Here the principle is self-realization, the self being identified with perverse whims. What is sacrificed is life in society enjoyed in obedience to its norms. The norms include duties of caring and protection that if fulfilled might have led the child out of his prison.

The holocaust has now claimed another pitiable victim, and the perpetrators in the school administration will likely continue to enjoy the unaccountability and invulnerability that are the perquisites of gnostic sainthood.

Jonathan L. writes:

I think this extreme case reveals the true modus operandi of liberalism, which is no less insidious for the fact that it may not be entirely premeditated:

Step 1: liberate a historically oppressed minority under guise of equal rights and fairness.

Step 2: begin allowing said group unequal moral and material advantage, including the right to delegitimize and demonize members of the majority.

Step 3: let said minority group run amok to the impotent howls of conservative right-liberals.

Step 4: act “surprised”, “concerned”, and “shocked” when said minority’s predation becomes intolerable and inhumane even by liberal standards.

Step 5: co-opt dominant majority group after it is so battered it willingly seeks protection from the liberal order and proceed to fragmentize it into several new minority identity groups.

Step 6: pick new minority to liberate.

We have already seen this cycle play out with boys and girls with respect to education, with pitiful “men’s rights” groups petitioning for redress of the education gap between thriving girls and sinking boys (see also a new push to apply Title IX to college science), and I can easily imagine the day when they will start pleading for the incorporation of extreme sexual harassment laws and Antioch College-style dating rules in order to protect heterosexual males from the advances of homosexual ones.

Stewart W. writes (July 27):

I noticed that Larry’s behavior failed to elicit one of the normal responses, quite startling in its absence. When I went to school, and at all times in the past, Larry would have been subject to frequent, severe beatings by his male classmates, as a way of regulating his abnormal actions. The article talks about “taunting,” and being shoved around in the locker room, but that is nothing compared to what would have happened in the past.

However, our feminized schools now have such draconian “zero tolerance” rules, and such strictures on boy’s behavior, that the normal boys were not able to keep this poor young man in line. With a militant lesbian vice principal, backed up by a PC-cowed administration keeping close watch on everyone else, it was left to another damaged boy to take the most extreme action possible to fix Larry’s problems. Eventually, the steam finds a way out of the pressure cooker.

The heartening part of the article is that it seems many parents, teachers, and students understand this (as an unprincipled exception, of course), as the petition to have Brandon tried in juvenile court testifies. Even Larry’s stepfather recognizes that his son’s actions helped create this tragedy.

Michael P. writes:

Here’s news from the E.O. Green Junior High School PTSA:

Dear E.O. Green Parent/Guardian,

You are invited to participate in a project we are calling “Begin the Healing”. We recognize that the tragedy that occurred last month requires us to begin conversations on how to heal and plan ways to prevent all forms of community violence.

E.O. Green PTSA is going to partner with the Oxnard Family Power Project to hold a series of conversations on how to transform the Larry King tragedy into an opportunity to create positive changes for our families and our community. We are asking that you be part of our first pilot program that will be composed of 50 participants…. Our request is that you come ready to share, learn and plan. Our desire is to identify ideas to support the healing within our own families, develop strategies to make our communities safer, and increase unity among us….

So, the answer is to “begin conversations” and the goal is to prevent “all forms” of “community violence.” I note that the message is also posted in Spanish. I wonder what language the conversations will use?

It seems from the picture that, if nothing else, the white soccer moms are feeling pretty good about themselves as they host their mulitcultural poster.

These people haven’t a clue.

LA replies:

Right. They’re addressing the “violence.” There’s not a sign that they are concerned about the social and moral chaos which made the violence inevitable—the social and moral chaos which they continue to harbor and encourage.

A small move in the right direction would be to change the name PTSA back to PTA.

Terry Morris writes:

I agree with your article completely. And though I’m setting myself up for a little instruction on the point (which I don’t oppose, by the way), I often wonder why it is that liberals cannot see the destructive nature of their ways.

LA replies:

They can’t see the destructive nature of their ways, because seeing it would require that they recognize that their core beliefs—which are the organizing principles of modern liberal society—are false and destructive. It would be like expecting them to admit that their god is a devil.

It’s one thing for a person to admit that something that he happens to believe is true, is really false. It’s one thing for a person to admit that he’s on a wrong road and needs to change directions. That happens all the time. It’s another thing for a person to admit that his most sacred beliefs—everything that distinguishes him from evil, reactionary, racist, repressive people—are false.

Liberalism is an entire, false, construction of the world. Liberalism is gnostic, because it doesn’t recognize itself as an imperfect human attempt to understand and follow the good, and therefore as subject to correction; it sees itself as the only good in a world of darkness. In reality liberalism consists of a rebellion against the good, against the order of existence, which it denigrates as inequality, discrimination, and exclusion. So, as liberals see it, they are not just following the good, they are personally identical with the good as against all the surrounding evil, which is identical with the universe itself. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Given liberals’ gnostic identification of themselves with liberalism as the only good in a world of evil, we can expect that in many cases only horrendous, repeated, trauma will suffice to break them of their belief in it. But many liberals will never be able to give up liberalism, no matter how much disaster it causes, as suggested by my reference to the Cracks of Doom.

Terry Morris replies:

Thanks! I hope that you don’t find my statements to be completely ignorant. Sometimes I’m simply at a loss as to why liberals cannot see how utterly destructive liberalism is to themselves and their country. I can imagine, therefore, that other VFR readers somewhat like myself, might require further explanation.

Your article is a fantastic illustration of the self-destructive nature of liberalism, by the way. It elicits nothing less than the highest respect from me.

LA replies:

Thank you very much.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 26, 2008 01:57 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):