Saintly Essays & Discussions

A Modest Proposal: Reflections on Charlie Hebdo & Man's Violent Nature

[I have a natural aversion to posting my thoughts too soon after a tragedy.  Before you go getting the wrong idea about me, this has little to do with being too upset to write and more to do with a deep-seated commitment to never expressing anything which may be interpreted as the least bit emotional and unexamined.  There is too much of that sort of emotive knee-jerk commentary on the internet, and I have to believe that more often than not, those who post to the web in a fugue state will look back in a few days with horror, wishing that they had given themselves more time to formulate a response.  Granted, the internet is not really conducive to this kind of reflection; by the time one has had a chance to adequately think through the issues in the light of cool rational reflection, the cyber-herds will have moved on to the next amusement, the next atrocity.  And so, even though it has been over three weeks since the tragic attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and the internet has largely moved-on in anxious anticipation of the next tragedy, I feel compelled to write—both as a tribute to the fallen (a tribute which I hope and pray they would appreciate)], but far more importantly, as a means of contributing a unique perspective to the conversation.  For in thinking about this massacre, I believe that I may have stumbled upon a means by which we, as the enlightened citizens of the western world, might stand united against terrorists of every stripe and creed.  A means by which we might stand upon our greatest principles and prevent such massacres from ever again occurring.

What I am suggesting is a change in policy as concerns the so-called global war on terror; a policy change so profound, in fact, that its benefits will far outstrip preventing ideologically motivated massacres.  This policy will go so far as to cause a global plummet not just in terrorism but in virtually all forms of violent crime.  My proposed solution is quite simple, so simple that I am shocked it has yet to be suggested.  I suppose sometimes it is the simplest solutions that escape our attention, precisely because they are so simple.  As with almost any question of policy—when stripped of all tangential (though by no means unimportant) questions of ethics, societal expectations, and legal norms—any proposal comes down to a question of trade-offs.  That is, a pragmatic balancing as to how well the proposal will accomplish the specific policy aim—in this case preventing massacres—versus the costs to society, both monetary and otherwise.  I imagine we can all agree that providing for the security of its citizens is one of the most basic functions of society and that there is perhaps no more basic duty security demands—with perhaps the exception of repelling invasions by actual nation-states—than that of preventing senseless massacres perpetuated by terrorists—whether they be of the home-grown or the international variety.  If a society cannot assure the safety of five-year-old children as they go about the important tasks of learning the alphabet and finger painting, or of homemakers as they go about the day’s errands, or of businesspersons rushing from one vital meeting to the next, or of satirists and illustrators as they expose the festering rotten flesh underlying western culture, how can society be expected to carry out any of its other roles and functions?  From a position of pragmatic policy analysis then, there is almost no humane cost that is too high to guarantee this most basic right—freedom from massacre, if you will—to society’s citizens.  And herein, my friends, lies the issue: I submit that however stringent the weapons-control laws and no matter how large the state security apparatus, the lone gunman or group of desperadoes hell bent on the senseless annihilation of as many innocent lives as possible will always be among us and will always manage to kill far too many of our fellow citizens.  This state of affairs is simply unacceptable. 

So for all of our technological prowess and intelligence sophistication, these violent murders cannot be stopped employing our current security paradigm.  No, my friends, the modern state security apparatus with its protocols and no-fly lists and spies and wire taps and racial profiling and invasive data mining and GPS tracking satellites and extra-judicial predator drone assassinations simply does not address the root of the problem…the problem of the violent nature that lies within the heart of all men.  And mind you, when I speak of men here, I am not speaking in the politically incorrect parlance of the 19th century; no, I mean none other than the violence which lies within the hearts of the males—those Y-chromosome’d ruffians—of our species.  Notice the correlation: these violent attacks are carried out, almost to-a-man by…well...MEN [granted, there does seem to be a surprisingly large contingent of female suicide bombers out there these days, but I think that we can safely assume that they carry out these attacks on the orders of some wicked and depraved males—these women would obviously choose some other form of conflict resolution if they made up the organizational leadership].  It seems to me (and it is at this point that I should probably make clear that this author is himself a member of this ignoble sex) that the problem is nothing other than men themselves—that the male of the species is simply too violent and too dangerous to be allowed to continue to exist within the confines of normal society.  The answer is right in front of us: the surest, simplest, and most humane method to quell the surge of terrorist attacks and tragedies is to banish men from society.  

I imagine at this point you, my reader, are preparing to cry foul.  “Surely”, you say to yourself, “this man must be joking; this cannot possibly be a serious proposal!  What does he expect us to do, go out and round up all the men and kill them?  At the very least (all questions of humane treatment aside) this would surely mean the end of human civilization as we know it; for, how might we expect the human race to perpetuate itself without the male of the species?”  My dear friends, nothing could be further from my mind than the horrid suggestion that all men should be rounded up and killed!  The answer is much simpler, in keeping with the values of enlightened civilization, and far less gruesome.  I sense that you are still not convinced, so I urge you to consider the following: is there anything, any role, which men perform in society that women simply couldn't live without or perform for themselves?  The obvious answer is reproduction, but with this (albeit important) caveat lain aside, I proffer that there is no job currently performed by men that women could not do just as well, if not better.  Ours is not the age of Victorian prejudices and outdated gender-role scruples.  There was a time when serious minded men (and some women) vociferously argued that a woman’s place was in the home and that all productive (non-Reproductive) roles in society—be it lawyering, doctoring, soldiering, or manufacturing—must be carried out by the male of the species, leaving the so-called 'gentler sex' to the running of the home lest anarchy ensue.  Our experience has burst asunder these pompous prognostications; in our age women excel in all endeavors both foreign and domestic and the sky absolutely refuses to fall.  Not only is the modern woman capable of performing any professional task the modern world has to offer, but she by-and-large remains the primary manager on the home front as well.  With our bread largely earned by women and our homes largely tended by women, what else is there left for men to do but get in the way?  If the only issue were of men indolently loafing around their homes—watching sports, playing video games, and passing wind—we could perhaps defend the status quo, but the unnecessary man is prone to violent outbursts.  For in his winter of discontent, what choice does he have but to assuage his impotence with acts of violent mayhem—whether he kills according to the auspices of a despairing nihilism or under the guidance of some ideology which proposes to show him the hidden source of his ennui if only he will kill in its name?  The answer, for a sizable minority at any rate, is that the only agency left them is to kill.  Quite the opposite of a productive member of society—the human male is in fact primed to become a destructive member.   

So as you can clearly see, from a day-to-day point of view, any society might function quite well without its male members.  “But surely,” you ask, “without men to perpetuate the species, before long society will shrivel away and die.”  Now please rest assured that this author is by no means suggesting the killing of any now existent male person.  The immediate suggestion is merely to separate males from the female population so that they can cause no further killings of the productive members of society.  Males have forfeited their right to societies’ concern by their innate aggressiveness, so the female society need not trouble themselves with whatever harms the segregated males cause to one another—one can be reasonably assured that no matter how many of them fall victim to the bloodlust of their fellows, surely there will be some who survive the inevitable self-imposed culling.  I will leave the details of this segregation to minds more nimble and unbiased than mine (namely, to females), but the important point is that they be segregated from the female population and concentrated in an area where they may be monitored and controlled.

“But surely,” you retort, “surely even though the males are still alive, procreation will prove difficult under such a scheme.  What good is it to protect the lives of our daughters if they are doomed never to have their own daughters in time?” And surely, I respond, as long as men remain in even modest numbers, procreative materials will not be in any short supply.  Perhaps those males who have shown some special aptitude, or those who are especially good looking or fertile, should be kept separate from the rest in order that their genetic materials may be preserved, or in case there remained some women who (for reasons I find hard to fathom) desired congress with men.  This would ensure the perpetuation of the species and likely alleviate some of the ill-feelings that the more unenlightened males (namely, most of them) are likely to feel regarding their new situation, especially if they could be made to feel that any one of them might have the opportunity to be used for stud purposes.  Furthermore, compulsory sperm banks could also be established wherein vast repositories of semen could be stored virtually indefinitely as a population bulwark against the coming plummet of the male demographic.    While, undoubtedly, men will not be pleased with such a situation, it is unlikely given the general habits of men—especially when deprived of female company—that there will be any lack of contributory material to such a scheme.

Our genetic structure is currently so formulated that a more or less equal proportion of men and women are conceived.  This is obviously a situation that should not long be allowed to continue, as it would soon become unduly cost prohibitive to feed and house a population of useless and unproductive males.  Studies would need to be conducted to determine the ideal number of males that should be maintained in order to ensure genetic diversity.  Perhaps over time new scientific techniques would allow genetic modifications enabling an “unnatural” natural selection of female as opposed to male conceptions in the correct ratios.  But in the interim, after the quota has been met, I fear that it would be necessary to abort those male fetuses who find their way into the mother’s womb.  I know that this is likely the most unappealing aspect of this program to the souls of the tenderhearted amongst us, but I assure you, dear readers, this is a most necessary and humane sacrifice to save the lives of thousands…nay millions…in the future.  In fact, as scientific advances may eventually find means of curbing those more destructive violent tendencies in men (though I fear that such speculation belongs to the realm of mere fantasy), such apartheid may be made to come to an eventual end and a new enlightened man may be reintegrated into society and allowed to regain his former population density.  Thus, in curtailing—for a time—the perpetuation of “man”-kind upon the earth, these enlightened women may in fact be acting for the future good of man himself as much or more than for society as a whole.  In the best tradition of enlightened self-interest, in acting most directly for the good of herself and her daughters, she is effectuating the ultimate good of the offending party—man himself.  

Sacrifices must be made; human males have had over 5000 years of recorded human history and millions of years of evolutionary development to reign in their violent tendencies, and yet they have failed to do so.  1000 generations of violent sociopaths is enough.  We have advanced as a civilization to such a level of enlightened ethics and sophistication that we no longer have any excuse not to take some little control of our genetic destinies.  We must take our tutelage from that most virtuous of living things—the industrious bee—who has banished the male of the species so far from the center of her communal life as to hardly notice his existence.  The drone has been so reduced that he is no longer even tangentially a threat to himself or to others, having lost his stinger.  Let us pray that we may have the courage to act and to act quickly, my friends.  Let us banish the violent male to the outskirts of the hive of human society before it is too late!  How many more children, women, satirists, and yes, even men, must die a horrible death before we allow ourselves to be awakened to the fact that men are simply too dangerous to be suffered any longer?  I pray it does not take another massacre to open our eyes to the obvious.  This is a hard truth, but for the sake of our children, let us have the moral courage to take the steps that our humanity and common sense demands!