by George Rasley
As we know from The Lives of the Saints and the Bible, in ancient Rome and Persia those who refused to worship the gods recognized by the pagan elite, such as Christians and Jews, were executed publicly by having wild animals tear them apart before baying crowds in the arena.
In more modern, but less enlightened times, those who refused to hew to the scripture dictated by the elite were hanged, drawn and quartered in public; they were dragged to the place of execution through the public streets, drawn-up a gibbet, cut down, their head and genitals cut-off, their heart excised and burnt, and their body divided into four parts. That was the sentence originally passed upon St. Thomas More by Henry VIII, but the king mercifully commuted it to simply chopping off More’s head.
The point of this ritualized torture was of course to cow the observers into obeisance and numb potential opponents with fear, but it was also intended to dehumanize the victim to make him and his beliefs less likely to appeal to others and spread.
Today’s radical Left has a similar, and perhaps even more painful, method of public torture and execution – it is called ritual defamation.
Ritual defamation is a term that first gained wide recognition through an essay published by free speech advocate Laird Wilcox entitled “The Practice of Ritual Defamation” and our friend Stella Morabito has an excellent summary and analysis in The Federalist of how Judge Brent Kavanaugh has become the object of the Left’s latest, and vilest, campaign of ritual defamation, which you can read through this link.
In her essay for The Federalist, “Why The Senate’s Ritual Defamation Of Brett Kavanaugh Threatens Every American,” Ms. Morabito analyzes how the eight steps in ritual defamation have been applied to Judge Brett Kavanaugh and points out how the radical Left has followed the ritual posited by Laird Wilcox to the upmost detail.
For the purposes of clarity here are the eight steps of ritual defamation as posited by Wilcox:
- In a ritual defamation the victim must have violated a particular taboo in some way, usually by expressing or identifying with a forbidden attitude, opinion or belief. It is not necessary that he “do” anything about it or undertake any particular course of action, only that he engage in some form of communication or expression.
- The method of attack in a ritual defamation is to assail the character of the victim, and never to offer more than a perfunctory challenge to the particular attitudes, opinions or beliefs expressed or implied. Character assassination is its primary tool.
- An important rule in ritual defamation is to avoid engaging in any kind of debate over the truthfulness or reasonableness of what has been expressed, only condemn it. To debate opens the issue up for examination and discussion of its merits, and to consider the evidence that may support it, which is just what the ritual defamer is trying to avoid. The primary goal of a ritual defamation is censorship and repression.
- The victim is often somebody in the public eye – someone who is vulnerable to public opinion – although perhaps in a very modest way. It could be a schoolteacher, writer, businessman, minor official, or merely an outspoken citizen. Visibility enhances vulnerability to ritual defamation.
- An attempt, often successful, is made to involve others in the defamation. In the case of a public official, other public officials will be urged to denounce the offender. In the case of a student, other students will be called upon, and so on.
- In order for a ritual defamation to be effective, the victim must be dehumanized to the extent that he becomes identical with the offending attitude, opinion or belief, and in a manner which distorts it to the point where it appears at its most extreme. For example, a victim who is defamed as a “subversive” will be identified with the worst images of subversion, such as espionage, terrorism or treason. A victim defamed as a “pervert” will be identified with the worst images of perversion, including child molestation and rape. A victim defamed as a “racist” or “anti-Semitic” will be identified with the worst images of racism or anti-Semitism, such as lynchings or gas chambers.
- Also to be successful, a ritual defamation must bring pressure and humiliation on the victim from every quarter, including family and friends. If the victim has school children, they may be taunted and ridiculed as a consequence of adverse publicity. If they are employed, they may be fired from their job. If the victim belongs to clubs or associations, other members may be urged to expel them.
- Any explanation the victim may offer, including the claim of being misunderstood, is considered irrelevant. To claim truth as a defense for a politically incorrect value, opinion or belief is interpreted as defiance and only compounds the problem. Ritual defamation is often not necessarily an issue of being wrong or incorrect but rather of “insensitivity” and failing to observe social taboos.
As Stella Morabito observed correctly, “In the smearing of Kavanaugh we can identify all of these elements of ritual defamation.”
Recognizing that Brett Kavanaugh is the object of a ritual defamation campaign and supporting him through it to the successful confirmation of his nomination to the Supreme Court is important and recognizing future ritual defamation campaigns is also important for the purposes of self-defense, as Stella Morabito pointed out in her article for The Federalist.
But the radical Left also has a long game at work here that conservatives should recognize: Dehumanizing Brett Kavanaugh to intimidate others so that his beliefs are less attractive and will not spread.
As Laird Wilcox wrote in his original essay:
The weakness of ritual defamation lies in its tendency toward overkill and in its obvious maliciousness. Occasionally a ritual defamation will fail because of poor planning and failure to correctly judge the vulnerability of the victim or because its viciousness inadvertently generates sympathy.
It’s important to recognize and identify the patterns of a ritual defamation. Like all propaganda and disinformation campaigns it is accomplished primarily through the manipulation of words and symbols. It is not used to persuade, but to punish.
Of course, the new radical Left Democrats are punishing Brett Kavanaugh for his beliefs and would like to see his nomination defeated, but what they’d like to do even more is make sure that no one who shares Brett Kavanaugh’s Christian and constitutional conservative values ever again lets their name be put forward for an appointment to the Supreme Court.
In this their goals are exactly the same as the ancient Roman and Persian and more modern tyrants who used public torture and execution as a means of dehumanizing leaders of potential rebellions against the false gods they used to maintain their grip on political power.
Alas for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and his family, unlike St. Thomas More, Kavanaugh’s public torture shows no signs of being commuted, although it will come to what we hope is vindication and merciful end by Friday when the FBI finishes its seventh investigation of him and his nomination to the Supreme Court is confirmed by the Senate.
– – –
We urge readers and friends to call Senators to urge Judge Kavanaugh’s prompt confirmation, starting with four Republicans who need shoring up. RESPECTFULLY urge them to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh: Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona (202-224-4521), Lisa Murkowski of Alaska (202-224-6665) Susan Collins of Maine (202-224-2523) and Ben Sasse of Nebraska (202-224-4224).