L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 908, January 29, 2017
Dignity—Who’s Got It—Who Has Not
by Paul Bonneau
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
I’ve been noticing something strange lately. Leftist groups have been going on about “dignity”, seemingly without irony or joke. It appears to be the latest activist buzz word.
When referring to dictionaries I like to go to the 1913 Webster’s, which was published before the recent tendency to make all words devoid of meaning or distinction. Here is their entry for “dignity”:
Dig"ni*ty (?), n.; pl. Dignities (#). [OE. dignete, dignite, OF. digneté, dignité, F. dignité, fr. L. dignitas, from dignus worthy. See Dainty, Deign.]
1. The state of being worthy or honorable; elevation of mind or character; true worth; excellence.
2. Elevation; grandeur.
3. Elevated rank; honorable station; high office, political or ecclesiastical; degree of excellence; preferment; exaltation.
4. Quality suited to inspire respect or reverence; loftiness and grace; impressiveness; stateliness;—said of mien, manner, style, etc.
In a little newsletter they were talking about a “women’s march”: A chance to show solidarity with marchers across the country, supporting women’s rights, human rights and dignity for all.
I have to ask, is it even possible that there be “dignity for all”? If humans are all the same in this respect, then there is nothing making one stand out from the crowd. In fact, if everyone were the same, then they would have to be equally dignified, and equally undignified, all at the same time—a nonsensical notion. Clearly, the author of this blurb has not thought things out.
A leftist umbrella group in my state talks of its various constituent pressure groups as being “human dignity groups”. It always helps to put makeup on that pig.
Then we have the various actions that have been taking place, demonstrations and riots. I wonder how a rioter can be dignified? This idea looks a bit fishy to me. Perhaps I don’t have a good enough imagination; maybe one can have a “degree of excellence” (as the definition specifies) in blocking traffic or smashing windows or burning a cop car.
Do dignified people publicly wear clothing from the opposite sex? Do they have operations to change their sex? Do they have tattoos and nose rings and nipple piercings? Is “gay” dignified? Do dignified people shout into bullhorns?
What I mean is, do these people do things that “inspire respect or reverence”? (See the above definition.) For this to happen, it has to happen in the minds of the observers. And if you think some more about it you will see it has to happen in the minds of the vast majority of observers. It’s no good if half the people think you are dignified and the other half think you a fool or a poseur.
Like anything else, these leftists seem to want dignity, want to be considered dignified, without bothering to do what actual dignified people do. They are satisfied with a fake version of the thing as long as they can get the label to stick—even if it requires bullying, or employing government coercion, to make it stick. Why would something so counterfeit satisfy them?
This is not to say that, for example, gays should not have organized and pushed to have some place in society without persecution. But we can recognize that in accomplishing that, there wasn’t much dignity involved! People observing the tactics gays used were not impressed with the dignity; instead, the observers only increased their tolerance of something they were formerly intolerant of. They decided to endure “the presence or actions of objectionable persons”. This is a far cry from being inspired to respect or reverence!
I guess precision in language is no longer important. No, it’s more of the same-old, same-old. Take a concept, slap a warm and fuzzy euphemism on it, and call it good—like the early 20th Century fascists who called themselves “progressives”.
I should add that most people on the right are similarly lacking in dignity, for the most part. True dignity is actually quite rare. The difference here, though, is that rightists are not trying to sell their own version of activism as having anything to do with dignity. At least in this respect, they are being more honest than the leftists.
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