Friday, April 23, 2010

Phoebe Prince’s “Teachable Moment”, and Ours

[Another angry post.]

Ross Douthat quotes Christopher Caldwell:

Getting rid of the old punitive morality that surrounded sexuality seemed like it would do no one any harm, and relieve a lot of unnecessary anguish and guilt. But young people have not reacted to it as theorized. They will gladly skip the ‘morality’ part. But in a world as socially competitive as that of teen dating, the ‘punitive’ part is simply too useful a tool to do without. So people proclaim themselves free of moral hang-ups, and yet throw around words like ’slut’ and ‘whore’ with an abandon that no previous generation ever did. It is unlikely there was any moral disapproval in the taunts to which [Phoebe] Prince was allegedly exposed. It might have been better if there had been. Moral pretensions might have led her alleged tormenters to look at their own conduct, and reined them in. In place of moralism we have nothing but the will to power and the desire to ostracize – a values system that differs from the old one only in its arbitrariness.

As my regular readers know, among the long-running themes of this blog are the sexual mores that characterize our time, what the changes to these mores mean for the future of our nation and civilization, and – most immediately – how these changes create winners and losers inn our society.

The mainstream media is certainly no stranger to stories of winners and losers; in fact, most of their reporting on just about any issue of public interest comes down to its impact on its preferred victim classes: women, racial minorities, and the right kind of poor people. But when the subject turns to sex, well . . . we have that one article in the Weekly Standard, but otherwise the MSM offers nothing but static. Even the story of George Sodini, once it failed to fit the conventional narratives, quickly disappeared without a trace.

It’s not hard to figure out why this is. The MSM, reflecting the values of the class of people from which its members come, are deeply invested in the narrative sexual liberation: how the 60s generation threw off the tired morality of an earlier era, embraced “free love”, and lived happily ever after. The dark side of this narrative, painfully detailed in blogs that have come to be known as the “Roissysphere”, is a story that they cannot – dare not – fathom.

Now comes the tragic story of Phoebe Prince. As Trumwill, newcomer Dan Bloom, and I discussed at length, the MSM, armed with an adorable of photograph of young Phoebe and the well-merited outrage of her community at the apparent impotence of her school’s officials, have quickly established a narrative by which to tell her story:

School Bullying

I apologize if this sounds snarky. My point is not that bullies don’t exist, nor even that Phoebe wasn’t bullied. My point is that this is a very, very old story. I should know.

The earliest memories of my childhood involve playing in our front yard in the afternoon, and dodging the rocks thrown at me by the school-aged children walking home from the bus stop. “The Big Kids,” my brother and I called them. But being a “Big Kid” myself didn’t improve matters: the site of the torment moved to the bus stop itself, and now there was nowhere to hide.

A move, a new school. We weren’t in suburbia anymore, and now the bullying turned physical. And it wasn’t at the bus stop anymore, it was . . . everywhere. On the bus. During recess. In class. It’s malevolent presence determined my daily routine. I took care to stay as close to the authority figures as I could stand, and otherwise did what I could to stay out of everybody’s way. Sometimes this worked. Sometimes it didn’t.

By late Junior High, things got better. Being known as “the smart kid” helped. I’m not saying I had more than one or two friends – candidly, I hadn’t the skills, and a secular school is a bad place to look for social charity. But eventually, I could get through the day without being picked on, and sometimes I could even get included. I guess my classmates developed other interests, or they realized that girls weren’t impressed. I dunno.

But the thing was, nobody cared. Oh, sure, if a teacher actually caught somebody doing something egregious, she would issue a scold. And my parents would console me and offer useless advice like try to be nice to them, or some such rot. But it was the seventies (mostly), they had their own lives, and they basically couldn’t sustain an interest in this kind of thing. I remember, quite recently, telling them some of these stories from my childhood, and being surprised at their surprise, thinking to myself, where the hell were you?

So while a part of me is righteously livid at what was done to Phoebe – and in fact I, too, am not immune to the effect of that photograph; more on this later – there is another, less charitable, part of me that says: Oh, I see how it works. When it was a skinny, nerdy kid getting bullied for, roughly, his entire sentient life, well that’s all just part of growing up, grow a set, deal with it yourself, nobody can be much bothered. But when it's a beautiful girl with an Irish lilt, whose two months of suffering has become a matter of national urgency, now I'm expected to trust the same teacher and administrators and politicians that didn’t care about bullies up until the day before yesterday to make and enforce with the well-being of skinny nerdy kids at heart?

Gaming out the post-anti-bullying-law scenarios is the subject of an excellent post somewhere. This is not that post.

I missed the story of Phoebe’s suicide back when it happened, and only discovered it from the reports of the coming prosecutions. I remember what I felt, because I feel it still. A crushing sadness. A burning anger. Indeed, all those pathetic beta-boy white-knight let-me-save-you emotions that I have come to despise in myself. So yes, I had an agenda: Make me understand. Give me a reason, ANY reason, to make sense of this story, to put it in a safe place where it can’t cause pain. Who will deliver me from this body of death?*

Armed with my own, admittedly anachronistic, experience, I began to pick at the anomalies: Why would a beautiful Irish girl get treated like this? Not by one person but a dozen? Not in Junior High by twelve-year-olds, but by high school upperclassmen? Not in an afternoon, but over two months?

What I discovered, didn't help. Slowly, in pieces – inferences, really, but still unmistakable – a picture began to emerge. Not the MSM’s picture, to be sure, but their dissembling had its limits. They couldn’t talk about the statutory rape charges without tipping us off that Phoebe had sex with not one, but two high school football players. They couldn’t talk about “slut” and “Irish whore” without admitting that this fact had become generally known at South Hadley High School. They couldn’t talk about “high school relationships” without revealing that these players already had girlfriends. They couldn’t talk about “cliques” without letting on that these girlfriends were, by the standards of their high school caste system, socially connected. And they couldn’t quote a classmate talking about “giving her a try” without revealing that Phoebe was trying, and failing, to establish her own connections.

And then I realized: at the end of the day, this was not a story about bullying. Or rather, it was a story about bullying in the way that urban crime is a story about gun control. Because like guns, the bullying was a method – a despicable one to be sure, a method used by sociopaths and applied completely out of proportion to even the worst of the inferences I know how to draw. But still just a method.

The story here is about the role that sexual liberation plays in the corrupt, decadent, poisonous, destructive of public high school status seeking. It was a story about how sex, like giving crack to a serial killer, like pour LOX on a fire, amped up all the petty jealousies, alliances, who’s-up-who’s-down scheming and strategizing to murderous intensity. And it was a story about how the lying, rat-bastard MSM, riding hell-for-leather to save their oh-so-precious revolution, were trying to cover it up.

“Will to power,” Caldwell writes. Exactly. Nietzsche had it right: take away morality, and the will to power is all that’s left. Add sex without morality, and this is the hell you have created. These are powerful weapons, and dangerous ones. Used properly, and they can fortify a man and a woman to do something profoundly difficult: spend the rest of their lives together nurturing the next generation. Give them to children to play with, and a pretty fifteen-year-old girl who in a different culture could have had a long and happy life, instead lies dead by her own hand.

As I have written before, if you are looking for metaphysical justice, you’re living the wrong life. You might like to think that a chastened establishment would take a long hard look at the moral sewer that is public education, but they won't. Soon, the name of Phoebe Prince will be forgotten, and the same public school system, armed with their brand new “anti-bullying” laws and policies, will be busy using them – and this is no insightful prediction: these kind of policies are always used this way – to harass the same outgroups they do now.

But I will promise this, and you heard it here first: God is watching. And on the Day of Judgment, when South Hadley High School, the MSM, and all their works are cast into the Lake of Fire for an eternity of wailing and gnashing of teeth, I will be there.

Laughing my ass off.

* Yeah, I know, out of context. But it was still the verse I couldn’t get out my mind.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Died by her own hand is right. Several times over.

She was the willing executioner of her reputation.

The reaction she got for it should have been expected. All she had to do was ride it out, or even appologize to the girls she wronged. She may have even got a few points by pointing out that the boyfriends were the real problem.

Like you, I found it easy to read between the lines of the official story. In fact, no "bullying" was going on. So the prosecutions are for things that in 99% of cases, the state has no interest in. When was the last time you heard of High school sex being prosecuted as statutory rape?

Φ said...

Samson: yeah I know. I wrote this post in the wee hours about a week ago. But I'm back on my meds and doing much better . . .

You are right about the stat rape charge. But the media reports of witness intimidation since Phoebe's death, if true, make me wonder if the prosecutions were the only way to break the stranglehold of what has become a criminal gang.

trumwill said...

I'm worn out of the main topic of conversation, so I'll just tackle the statutory rape question.

They will often pursue them when either (a) their case is so iron clad it's an easy conviction (a pregnancy, for example) or (b) it's something that too many people know about to ignore.

Both apply somewhat to this case. Whatever (I have to think circumstantial) proof they have it's enough that the boys aren't even trying to deny it. And the story is high profile enough that people would be wondering why they weren't filing charges if they didn't.

dan said...

Very very very well said. This screen seems to be one of the very few screens in the known uni-verse where rational minds can still discuss this case, and these issues, rationally. Some bloke user-named sauerkraut keeps going online and dissing me and my POV just for merely bringing up contrarian views as so well expressed here. I am going to invite sauerkraut to drop on by here and dish. he's a good guy, on the side of angels, so he will add some good ideas here too. If he accepts my invitation to visit. DK, you coming over? Dish. Everyone welcome here, and all POVs are welcome, too.

dan said...

''sauerkraut'' in South Hadley says on Slate blog:

''The suicide was the end result of the criminal harassment. That is the criminal aspect of that case. Bullying is what we in society are incorrectly calling it.

As for the stat rape charge, there is nothing ridiculous about charging an 18-y.o. man (not a boy) with having sex with a vulnerable 14-y.o. Fact is, no one knows whether the sex was consensual, but the law in MA sets that age at 16 so both lose out either way. IMHO, both young men preyed on the bullied girl. I'll lose no sleep if either or both are convicted. For those who disagree with the age of consent, go talk to your legislators but I suspect those of us who are parents of 14-y.o.'s will fight tooth and nail to protect our impressionable young daughters.''

dan said...

''Neil H' made an interesting comment, too at Slate, re the *click bait* photo of PP all over the nets:

"Attn: Front page editors,

Please don't use this poor girl's photo as click bait. It's unseemly. Really."

What's does ''click bait photo'' mean? I never heard that term before?

dan said...

Major break in Phoebe Prince case: a survivor speaks out...

''Dear danbloom, ( a sexual abuse survivor named Jennifer wrote on my blog today)....

Firstly what a tragic story this Phoebe Prince case is all round. I want to say that first. That said:

Now to the grit... In this day of political correctness gone to extreme, I thank you for the invaluable and balanced insight you offer with regards to the suicide of Phoebe Prince.

Now days it's P.C. to 'never blame the victim' and to only persecute the 'bullies', but it's political correctness gone mad, it's insane to put a bandaid over the injury or take an asprin for an illness without looking into the symptoms and the cause.

UNmetaphorically speaking, IT IS likely that Phoebe, due to dysfunctions in her past, placed herself in high risk situations, I say this because I'm a 'survivor' (NOT a victim) of past sexual abuse, for years I was placing myself in high risk situations and even provoking verbal and physical attacks because living as a victim was the only way of living I knew, and strangely, what becomes familiar, feels strangely, yet falsely 'safe'.

I used my sexual promiscuity and warped ideologies of sex to manipulate people, subconsciously seeking revenge on both males and females alike, my sexual abuse happened as a child, but much of the bullying, harrasment, and even a rape in later years, COULD have been prevented had I had some insight into why I was behaving the way that I was. So to put it bluntly, all of these do gooders who say that the victim is faultless, are in fact doing more harm than good, a 'victim' needs to understand their behaviors that are putting them at risk, if they are to modify them and eventually quit playing the eternal role of the victim.

So as I'm speaking from experience, and because I can now step outside of myself and see myself as I once was, I have a gut feeling that Pheobe was a very disturbed teenager, and I'd place bets that she's had some kind of sexual abuse go down in her past, it will be interesting to see what comes of this case to say the least...

All of that being said, in NO WAY to I believe that Phoebe deserved what she got or condone the bullying she received, I only think it's tragic that those close to her weren't honest with her about the way she may have been behaving and sought professional help for her.

I don't know you Mr zippy1300 blogger, but I thank you for opening people's eyes and inciting discussion into this matter, it really is about time the bleeding hearts woke up and faced reality.

quit treating the symptoms, and start looking into the CAUSE... All of this is from me, from my heart, from an abuse survivor who has been fortunate enough to live long enough to tell the story as it really is, it's just so heartbreaking and tragic that Phoebe couldn't, may she now rest in peace forever eternally.....RIP, Phoebe''

-- signed


dan said...

An open letter to American poet Maya Angelou: "You got the Phoebe
Prince case wrong, dear!"

Maya Angelou, one of American's most accomplished and moving poets, is
one of those people who seems to be accomplished at everything she

Now, at 82, full of energy and inspiration, she's writing a poem about
Phoebe Prince but it won't be read out loud in public or printed until
next fall.

Hopefully, Angelou will have time to learn that Phoebe is alleged to
have attempted suicide 8 times in Ireland before ever coming to

And hopefully, some of Jennifer's letter below will make it into her
poem as well. [see above]

In her efforts to be continue to be a force with her words and her
constant calls for people to be better to one another, Angelou is
working on a poem about Phoebe, the 15-year-old student at South
Hadley High School who committed suicide in mid-January after an
apparent barrage of bullying and harassment from nine other students.

That's what she told Ray Routhier of the
Maine Sunday Telegram newspaper in a recent Q and A sesssion with the

"I'm at work now on a poem; it won't be finished for maybe six months.
It's about [that] young [Irish girl][Phoebe] who committed suicide,"
Angelou told Routhier. ".....The brutality today is a pandemic, an
epidemic of bullying, and cruelty..."