Rod Dreher doesn’t want to know

I am not even going to get into Rod’s fellating of racist pig Sailer, nor his par for the course straw man attacks on “liberals.” But this struck me as a stupidity worth bothering with:

“Also, I wrote a while back about the importance of maintaining the concept of forbidden knowledge, that is, things that can be known but should not be known because of what we are likely to do with that knowledge. Unless you believe that plans for building atomic bombs and how to poison a city’s water supply with ricin should be distributed freely on the Internet, then you too believe in the concept of forbidden knowledge. If you believe the government has no right to vacuum up your private information, then you believe that some things shouldn’t be known because of what use we are likely to make of the power that knowledge gives us. My point is simply that all of us believe that some facts are too dangerous to be known; they are like the Ring Of Power, in that the temptation to abuse them is too great for our natures to bear.”

Um, no Rod. Privacy is NOT the same thing as “Forbidden Knowledge.” I don’t want folks looking at my private stuff NOT because of “what use they are likely to make of the power that knowledge gives them,” but merely because it is none of their damn business, even if they don’t “use” the “power that” blah, blah, blah. Or, indeed, even if they don’t “use” the information at all. What I write to my brother in an email, poems that I may have written showing my love for Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus, or Cyrus the Great or Cyrus McCormack, or whatever, no one can actually hurt me all that much by making them public. But they are still private.

Forbidden knowledge is another thing entirely. The concept that there is knowledge that is of general use to mankind but might tempt us to do evil (with atomic bombs, water poisoning, and, of course, the Ring of Power being the shopworn cliché examples–Rod loves him some middle brow referentialism), is a different one than the concept of privacy. Making public the info about atomic bombs or water poisoning, or not, is merely a variant of that other issue. “We” (meaning the human race) already have the knowledge, but that is a little different than every jerk having it. But it too has nothing to do with privacy.

Knowledge about my private shit is of no importance whatsoever, to the human race generally. The human race will neither progress by knowing it, nor will it endanger itself. Nor is it likely to lead to any terrorist act. Whatever one feels about the notion of “forbidden knowledge” and the question of whether it would be better if the human race had never discovered atomic power, and whatever one feels about the subsidiary issue of what is the appropriate regime regarding publication of the info about how to make an atomic bomb or poison a water supply, much less how one feels about humans acquiring the ultimate, “Ring of Power” type knowledge, is all pretty much irrelevant to one’s feelings about privacy.

So, no Rod. Wanting my to keep my private stuff private does NOT mean that I buy into the concept of “Forbidden Knowledge,” neither the full fledged “humans in general can’t be trusted with this power” notion nor the lesser version of “not every clown on the internet should be able to know this.” I might believe in one or the other, or both, or neither, but wanting to keep my love letters and so forth private (or not) has no bearing on that.

And thus you see the problem of even dealing with a guy like Dreher. He is actually earnest in many ways. He is not nearly as dogmatic or closed minded as many on the right. But he is simply stupid. Before registering your disagreement with his typical post, you pretty much have to spend a whole blog comment’s worth, or more, of argument on clearing out the brush of all of his mistaken notions, faulty reasoning, incorrect factual statements, logical fallacies, etc. He is a guy with a BA in journalism. Now, not having an advanced degree does not mean you are stupid. But it is the case that, partly for lack of education but also because he just isn’t that bright, Rod is simply not knowledgeable or smart enough to take on most of the issues he writes about.