Pwn to queen
Forgive me for laughing
Guys, I’m not a bad person. Well, I sort of am; I’ve done some things I’m not proud of, and some things I shouldn’t be proud of but secretly am. But I’m trying, really. Like I stopped saying some bad words such as, uh let’s see, retarded (BOOO! HISS!) Sorry I’m sorry I’m trying to remove it.
And I do observe some basic behavioral hygiene; for instance, I try not to “punch down,” as the kids say. And I’m happy to do that — in fact, it comes easily to me, because it’s a logical, ethical, and useful litmus, really close to the Christian Law of Love that I was taught as a boy (which education left me keen to notice when the Evangelicals who overtook Christianity issued their many blanket exemptions to it).
Don’t Punch Down is also easy to observe because, you will not be surprised to hear, conservatives reject it. For example: “The left’s new prohibition of ‘punching down’ is speech suppression in disguise,” says the guy from the Babylon Bee, who thinks he’s a satirist but if you called him the new Voltaire he would probably be insulted and send his bodyguard to fight you.
So between the God of Love who endorses it and the bad people who are against it, Not Punching Down seems good. Which leaves only one direction in which to punch, or (to be more accurate) to direct one’s wrath against the authors of our misery — and that’s upward, at the knobs, tycoons, pashas, and muckety-mucks.
Now, whenever we punch up at the bosses in anything like numbers, you will notice conservative factota throwing their puny bodies in front of the bosses to defend them. For instance, remember when Jeff Bezos got into a spaceship contest with Elon Musk and people really began to notice what a weird waste of resources that was, especially since he was making his workers pee in bottles? Megan McArdle, though a Made Woman in the Conservative Movement and, one would think, exempt from this kind of duty, mortified herself to take some of the heat off Bezos (“while the ultrawealthy wouldn’t be forced out of their family homes, they might be forced to sell off stock of a business they spent decades building,” etc).
The reason was obvious: She is a true believer and also an employee in Bezos’ Washington Post division. Greater love hath no stan!
But yesterday, when large numbers of social media users treated the death of Queen Elizabeth II as something less than an occasion for universal mourning, we got a really good look at how these people react when people en masse punch all the way up. And it was, in addition to funny, revealing.
There were of course all kinds of maudlin displays over the Queen’s passing, from commercial concerns and puffed-up public figures, sometimes showing the late Queen in heaven with Prince Philip or Paddington Bear.
These in themselves seemed funny to anyone with even a slightly twisted sense of humor. And since we were all aware that the late Betty Windsor had been one of the richest people in the world, that her surviving family is at least among the richest families in the world, and that they are all insulated by miles-thick cushions, physical and psychological, from whatever rudenesses may be expressed miles below the salt by us hoi polloi, one may joke about them without a sense of shame.
And the jokes from, for example, Twitter Trending Topic “Ireland” were choice.
But the sputtering dudgeon these jokes raised among the people whose life’s work is performative protection of the rich and powerful from the japes of the lower orders just made it funnier still. For instance, Megan McArdle:
One is reminded of Oscar Wilde on the death of Little Nell — were Little Nell a dead nonagenarian billionaire. The “dying woman” is not Christ on the cross and we are neither piercing her side nor proffering her a vinegar sponge; she is a tycoon who rode a first-class cabin into the next life and has now slipped the surly bonds of earth including Twitter. Many of us, on the other hand, will die in charity hospitals if we’re lucky. Forgive us if we laugh. Or don’t — we don’t give a shit.
Speaking of Irish women unaccountably laving Betty’s feet with tears, Peggy Noonan:
She was a woman of faith. At her 1953 coronation in Westminster Abbey, the most important moment happened outside of television range. It was when the archbishop of Canterbury poured holy oil and anointed the new queen, “making a sign of the cross on the palms of each of her hands, her forehead, and exposed upper chest,” Ms. Smith wrote. (Victoria hadn’t allowed her archbishop to touch her chest.) Elizabeth felt the anointing “sanctified her before God to serve her people.” Her friends said it was the anointing, not the crowning, that made her queen.
“Cor, ye don’t say,” said Spiv Hork of Spitalfields as he shoveled coronation parade garbage for tenpence a year.
…She understood her role. She was the longest reigning monarch in British history, a continuous thread to the past. Decades passed but the thread remained and never broke, which suggested things would hold together, and everything in the end would be all right. She understood that in the tumultuous 20th century the idea of continuity itself was a gift to her country. She had to be reliable, and was.
Perhaps, deep in her cups at deadline, Noonan didn’t realize a full fifth of a century had passed since the “tumultuous 20th” she mentioned, or that while Good Queen Bess stood stalwart Great Britain collapsed into the festering dungheap we see today. If a U.S. Democratic politician presided over so steep a decline for even a single year, and then popped off, Noonan would have been far less dewy-eyed.
All this weepy nostalgic gush and wounded That’s Not Funny talk proceeds from two ancient rightwing equities, neither of which works very well anymore: The Appeal to Old Traditions and the Eternal Demand of Respect, always accompanied by a wagging-finger warning that if you don’t look respectful about whatever you’re told to respect, the ruling class will make bad faces at you, and your friends who are not as cheeky as you and more eager to earn advancement will get the message and spurn you to save their chances.
Except, you know, now the ruling class, though still rich, is not respected by anyone but the McArdles and Noonans of the world — everyone else, when the toffs raise their hankies to dab their eyes, either ignores it or makes rude remarks.
And also: Not even all the opportunists are on board. Those who may have, once upon a time, pretended to give a shit because they knew a good show might lead to advancement now realize that, with capitalism in collapse, the rich folks won’t do shit for them — so they no longer have to pretend.
And it’s bad for the upper classes when large numbers of the lower classes no longer see an advantage in kissing their ass.
It’s weird, right — the rich could certainly come up with the money to buy enough of us off to keep themselves safe from even ridicule, never mind revolt. They came up with some (not enough, granted) through their agents in government in the early COVID days. But so strong is the Gospel of Austerity with them that they can’t bring themselves to give their vassals any more breaks.
So they just stand there, wiggling sub-living wages at us and wondering why we don’t bite the hook.
The Death of Liz made this suddenly clear, and a thousand media blubberfests about double rainbows at Buckingham Palace will not change it. The toffs know we don’t care. This isn’t going to be People’s Princess Geriatric Edition for most of us. They’re just going to get meaner about it, or at least tell their flunkies to.
In the meantime, as Donovan once sang: And as the elders of our time choose to remain blind/Let us rejoice, sing, dance and ring in the new age/ LOL, ROTFLOL [drum fill].
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