Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cussed out

“The power of the Web is obvious and undeniable. We diminish it at our peril. But what if the most potent social effect to spread outward from the Internet turns out to be disinhibition, the breaking down of personal restraints and the endless elevation of oneself? It may be already.

“Disinhibited vocabulary is now the normal way people talk on cable TV, such as on ‘The Sopranos’ or in stand-up comedy. On the Web and on the street, more people than not talk like this now. What once was isolated is covering everything. No wonder the major non-cable networks are suing to overturn the FCC’s decency rulings; they, too, want the full benefits of normalized disinhibition. Hip-hop, currently our most popular music form, is a well-defined world of disinhibition.

“Intense language … used to be confined to construction sites and corner bars. Now it is normal discourse on Web sites, the most popular forums for political discussion. Much of this is new. Politics is a social endeavor. The Web is nothing if not ‘social.’ But the blogosphere is also the product not of people meeting, but venting alone at a keyboard with all the uninhibited hyperbole of thinking, suggestion and expression that this new technology seems to release.”

— Daniel Henninger, writing on “Disinhibition Nation,” April 21 in Opinion Journal at

Southern exile

“When I moved to Atlanta in 1985, I thought I was going into exile. Here I was, a dedicated bi-coastal secular urban intellectual, moving to a gigantic suburb full of people who prayed before meals and drawled when they spoke about the ‘War Between the States’ (which I soon discovered was the polite way of talking about it). How could I survive without the bookstores, grad school hangout bars, and cafes — the urban sophistication — to which I’d grown accustomed? …

“Many of my friends and colleagues were also displaced persons from more fashionable environs. Like some of them, I never hesitated to regale all my interlocutors with my opinions about Atlanta’s many shortcomings.

“The native Atlantan who later became my wife responded with an old advertising slogan: ‘Delta is ready when you are.’”

— Joseph Knippenberg, writing on “Exile on Peachtree Road,” April 19 in the American Enterprise Online at

Hot down there

“Most evangelical Christians will usually shy away from discussing hell as a destination for those they think have rejected their beliefs — or even for those who have embraced what they consider an immoral lifestyle — lest they be labeled unloving, or worse, fanatical.

“But as one of those unapologetic Jesus freaks, I don’t think it bothers too many people, other than the infidel-haters, to state that Zacarias Moussaoui can’t be cast into the fiery pit fast enough.

“Jurors heard closing arguments yesterday in the sentencing phase of the trial of the convicted conspirator in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. The sooner they send him off to a weeping fate of eternally gnashing his teeth, the better.

“During testimony this month in his death-penalty trial, Moussaoui emphasized the pride he took from his role in the murder of thousands of Americans that day four-and-a-half years ago.”

— Paul Chesser, writing on “Moussaoui’s Hot Destination,” April 25 in the American Spectator Online at

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