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Saturday, January 11, 2020

In defense of Greta Thunberg

In the past few months there's been a fair amount of contempt directed at Greta Thunberg. I understand the sentiment: why should have to listen to a 16-year-old (she turned 17 on January 3rd) lecture us about the environment? What does she know of the world?

There were a few recent gleeful articles about how she traveled in a first class compartment while on a train in Europe. In fact, any time she does anything which pollutes, it's pointed out, as if this proves her hypocrisy. 

My reaction to this is, well, at least Thunberg's making an effort. She's evidently given up air travel, and is also a vegetarian. And it's basically impossible to completely avoid polluting in the modern world.

The ones who really deserve our contempt are the Al Gores and Leo DiCaprios and Barbra Streisands and John Travoltas of the world, who wax self-righteous about the sacrifices the rest of us must make while themselves traveling by private plane and living in huge mansions. 

Plus, all the antipathy aimed at a 16-year-old seems a little misdirected. Yes, she's a little self-righteous; but I wouldn't want to be held responsible for some of the things I said at 22, let alone 16.

Whenever someone grows up in the public eye, it's inevitably a little embarrassing. Especially when they're being used by others to promote a certain point of view.

To me, the most interesting thing about Thunberg is the intersection between her psychology and her politics. As a child, she was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and selective mutism. She had evidently been depressed for years before she discovered leftist politics, and, according to her father, her activism has essentially made her a happy person. 

This protesting-as-therapy phenomenon is probably far more widespread than commonly realized. Find a cause, feel good about yourself. 

It's generally a good thing when people do things to improve their self-image, or lift themselves out of depression. But should national policy be dictated by such considerations?

One would think that such would be determined by a clear-eyed, rational, coldly realistic appraisal of the available options. 

In the meantime, a young girl who's driven by her heart rather than her head does not deserve our contempt. Our sympathy, maybe, but not our contempt. 

Accidents happen

The NY Post just ran this article about Reeaz Khan:

The relevant excerpt:

The man accused of sexually assaulting and killing a 92-year-old woman in Queens claimed to cops that he's been trying to help the old woman -- but then he lost his balance, his belt broke, his pants fell down and his genitals accidentally came in contact with hers, it was revealed in court Friday. 

The suspect, 21-year-old Reeaz Khan, told detectives that he found the woman, Maria Fuentes, on the ground near Liberty Avenue and 127th Street in Richmond Hill at about midnight on Monday and tried to help her, a prosecutor said at his arraignment on Friday. 

Khan told detectives, "He fell down, his belt broke, his pants fell down and his penis fell near her vagina," the prosecutor, Joseph Grasso, said in court.

At that point, something came over him, Khan claimed. 

"Defendant then stated that he did lift up her skirt and he tried to put his penis inside of her," the prosecutor added. 

Sources previously said that Khan admitted to suffering "uncontrollable urges," and said that this was the first time he acted on them.

Khan is good-looking, though he's more pretty than he is handsome. Once he's in prison, some bigger, burlier inmate will undoubtedly notice this. Maybe, just maybe, while trying to help Khan, such an inmate will lose his balance, his belt will break, his pants fall down, and his genitals will accidentally come into contact with Khan's anus.

And then, who knows what kind of uncontrollable urges the inmate might feel?

Obviously, any sympathy for Khan at this point is misplaced. But I can't help feel a little sorry for him, given the bleak future he faces.

His best strategy at this point would probably be a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea. That wouldn't be entirely unjustified: you'd have to be crazy to think anyone would believe that explanation.