It’s punishment of some kind

If I’m going to watch auto racing at all, I watch Formula 1 in preference to NASCAR. The former is actual racing, which involves turning in both directions and manuevering in and out of traffic on roads meant for real cars; the latter is lining up in a row and turning left for an hour or so, punctuated by someone crashing into a wall, probably from sheer monotony. The real reason that Americans do not watch F1 is of course it’s “European” – a word meaning “not American” to most American slobs.  Sure, some of the best drivers are from Brazil or Canada or, in the case of the fantastically named Scott Speed, the U.S., but I don’t care, it’s jest not raht, Bubba.

More Americans, however, may pay attention to F1 now given the Führer – er, sorry, furor – over the recent doings of Max Mosley, the chief muckety-muck of Grand Prix auto racing. Seems that last week, Mosley was videoed in the company of what News of the World described as prostitutes, getting (or giving – the article’s unclear) a BDSM session; the reported price was the equivalent of US$5000. (Client #9, call your office.)

The particularly fun part, for the tabloids and everyone else, was the possible Nazi overtones of the whole session: counting the strokes of the lash in German, shouting orders in German-accented English à la Colonel Klink (“She needs more of ze punishment!“), some prisoner-and-captor role play, including a “check for lice” and a reading of a list of personal effects. It gets better: Mosley’s father was Sir Oswald Mosley – yes, as in the guy behind the British Union of Fascists during WWII. The N.Y. Times has the story here, and here‘s some video (appropriate warnings here).

Svefg guvatf svefg – vf vg ernyyl jbegu vg?  V zrna, va gur fgevpgyl cuvybfbcuvpny frafr, vs lbh unir gur zbarl naq lbh yvxr gb trg “dhnyvgl”, gura sne or vg sebz zr…ohg ol qnza, sbhe be svir gubhfnaq ohpxf?  Rvgure lbh unir sne zber zbarl guna frafr, be lbh ernyyl whfg pnaabg trg orngra be shpxrq va nal bgure jnl.  Orfvqrf, V guvax vg’f va gur thl pbqr – naq vs vg vfa’g, vg fubhyq or – gung vs lbh unir gung xvaq bs zbarl sbe frk, gura lbh fubhyq funer gur jrnygu naq trg fbzr sbe lbhe ohqqvrf.  Abg gung V jbhyq unir orra yvxryl gb unat bhg jvgu rvgure bs gurfr thlf ng nal cbvag, ohg vg’f gur cevapvcyr bs gur guvat.

Nf jryy: gurer ner cebonoyl jbzra (be zra, be jngrezrybaf, be jungrire trgf lbh bss) jub jbhyq qb guvf nf jryy sbe zhpu, zhpu purncre.

Sbe uvf cneg, Zbfyrl fnlf gung ur qvqa’g qb nalguvat vyyrtny (juvpu V jbhyq thrff zrnaf gurl qvqa’g pngpu uvz shpxvat ba pnzren), qravrf gung gurer jnf nal Anmv ebyr-cynlvat tbvat ba (yrff qrsrafvoyr), naq qrpevrf gung uvf cevinpl jnf vainqrq (haqravnoyl gehr naq haqrefgnaqnoyr).

There is another aspect to this besides the coded bit above, and by saying this, I don’t mean to sound like Jonah Goldberg.*  (To do so would probably require a lobotomy.)  It is very likely, given the reactions of those in the racing world, that he will lose his job over this, which is problematic.  How Mosley gets his jollies off-hours shouldn’t and really doesn’t have anything to do with his management of a racing organization.  Of course, people are then saying it isn’t that…it’s literally whether or not he play-acted like a Nazi.  Especially in light of his heritage, the implications are of course that he might really be a Nazi, but that’s an open question, and even if true, the situation might remain problematic.**

I think it’s right to say that no one in their right mind would seriously adhere to Nazism, but I also think that about many, many other philosophies held by very prominent people who have important private or even public positions…and I don’t know if I would call upon them to be ousted from those positions due to their beliefs.

There are some wider implications to this.  Do we as a society or a world have a right to outlaw certain types of thinking?  Are some philosophies – not actions, just literal ways of thinking – too dangerous to be allowed?  What if Mosley just said, “Yes, I’m a Nazi and I’m proud of that, and I don’t plan to apologize or change anything about myself.”  Should he then be barred being the head of F1?  from any employment at all?

As I was with Don Imus when he was fired due to insensitive comments, I’m extremely leery of going this route.  It smacks too much of the re-education camps of Mao and other totalitarians, and it doesn’t fit my personal belief that you challenge bad ideas with good ideas, and let them naturally die as a result; the idea of banning speech and ideas seems to assume that society is composed of people who cannot think for themselves and wouldn’t know the difference – a possibility, if one is really cynical.  It also gives the idiots who spout these sick ideas an unwarranted sense of righteousness through persecution.

Finally, there’s also the aspect of placing one’s self in such a situation.  I have no doubt there are plenty of people out there who would love to prevent me from expressing my political, social, religious, or sexual views, and some of them have the potential of gaining power in government or corporations.  A few, frighteningly, already have.  It’s essential to avoid censorship of others’ views no matter what they are, so that ours can’t be silenced reciprocally…and even if they do (which they do), we should remain above such behavior.  It’s morally wrong to go there.

* I’m mentioning Goldberg a lot lately, which is worrisome.  The real reason why is because he’s so transparently wrong and such a nasty, preening little schmuck that it’s very easy to set one’s self up as superior.  The worrisome part is that it’s easy to beat up a third-grader, too, but hardly proof of one’s might.  If the best I can do is say I’m better than Goldberg, I really need to take stock of my intellect.

** And please…let’s not go down the knee-jerk path of “zOMG scooterbird’s defending Nazis” or what I am or am not comparing Hitler to.  My point is, having the right to say something and whether or not something is right to say are two different things.  You conflate them, you end up in the province of groupthink, and that’s not a good place to be.

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3 Responses

  1. Very wise words.

    I would say if Prince Harry (or was it William, I always get them mixed up, and probably will continue to be even when whichever-one-it-is becomes King) didn’t get “fired” (read “forced to abdicate”) for dressing as a Nazi, then neither should this guy. You shold be fired for doing your job poorly, which doesn’t seem to be the case. (I did advocate Spitzer’s resignation because a) his bosses (the voters of NY) were against his behaviour, and b) he essentially paid for his sex from taxpayer’s money. You want hookers? Make your own money.)

    And really, I wouldn’t expect you of all people to get after a guy who enjoys a little S&M and a nice cup of tea. Sounds very much like someone I know … 😉

  2. What on earth is

    Svefg guvatf svefg – vf vg ernyyl jbegu vg? V zrna, va gur fgevpgyl cuvybfbcuvpny frafr, vs lbh unir gur zbarl naq lbh yvxr gb trg “dhnyvgl”, gura sne or vg sebz zr…ohg ol qnza, sbhe be svir gubhfnaq ohpxf? Rvgure lbh unir sne zber zbarl guna frafr, be lbh ernyyl whfg pnaabg trg orngra be shpxrq va nal bgure jnl. Orfvqrf, V guvax vg’f va gur thl pbqr – naq vs vg vfa’g, vg fubhyq or – gung vs lbh unir gung xvaq bs zbarl sbe frk, gura lbh fubhyq funer gur jrnygu naq trg fbzr sbe lbhe ohqqvrf. Abg gung V jbhyq unir orra yvxryl gb unat bhg jvgu rvgure bs gurfr thlf ng nal cbvag, ohg vg’f gur cevapvcyr bs gur guvat.

    Nf jryy: gurer ner cebonoyl jbzra (be zra, be jngrezrybaf, be jungrire trgf lbh bss) jub jbhyq qb guvf nf jryy sbe zhpu, zhpu purncre.

    Sbe uvf cneg, Zbfyrl fnlf gung ur qvqa’g qb nalguvat vyyrtny (juvpu V jbhyq thrff zrnaf gurl qvqa’g pngpu uvz shpxvat ba pnzren), qravrf gung gurer jnf nal Anmv ebyr-cynlvat tbvat ba (yrff qrsrafvoyr), naq qrpevrf gung uvf cevinpl jnf vainqrq (haqravnoyl gehr naq haqrefgnaqnoyr).

  3. @Vval: It’s rot13. The sidebar has a link.

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