He does not know it, and almost certainly would never admit it, but Anthony Bradley wants to live in a world where black men can get lynched because of white women’s tears. He has what should be considered the mother of all woke intersectionality problems.
But because it is an intersectionality thing, there is another logical option for him, one that is every bit as bad. This would be him wanting to live in a world where he turns callously away from a rape victim in tears, refusing to countenance her story at all because the political cost would be far too high. This is because her accusations involved a couple of black men, and the summer was already hot and volatile.
Either way he goes, it is bad juju.
Now it goes without saying that he would hotly deny having this intersectionality problem, but . . . he still has the intersectionality problem. Math doesn’t care about your feelings. Now I don’t have the same problem that he does, but I can see it, and I do have some receipts that I would like to hand around.
I am sure he doesn’t understand how he got there, but that doesn’t change the fact that he has, in fact, managed to get there.
The butterfly flits on wings of gold,
The June bug wings of flame,
The bed bug has no wings at all,
But gets there just the same.
American folk song
Let Us Frame the Discussion, Shall We?
This last weekend, a discussion between Karen Swallow Prior and Joe Rigney broke out on X, and things looked promising there for a minute. It started as a discussion of empathy, but Karen diverted it into a fracas over a sexual scandal that occurred in our community about ten years ago. It was this one, in case you were wondering.
One of the reasons why measured discussion of such matters is virtually impossible is because the woke and semi-woke are zero-sum reasoners in this area, just as they are in economic matters. If you ask them whether a woman in a sexual encounter (and now an accuser) was in any way complicit in the affair, it is assumed that you are seeking to minimize the responsibility of the man. When you tot up the responsibilities, so the thinking goes, it has to come out to an even 100%.
In this case, it was sexual immorality between a male teacher and a female student. The student was old enough to know better, and she was old enough for the activity to not be a crime—as the police determined. Even though everyone acknowledges big time that the teacher was being wicked, any assignment of (say) 2% responsibility to the woman is interpreted as though we were trying to reduce the responsibility of the man from 100% to 98%. And this is where the accusation of “rape apologist” comes from. In the woke world, responsibility is like two billiard balls—they cannot occupy the same space.
But in the real world of actual adults with moral agency, it is possible for each person to be responsible for their own actions without diminishing the other person’s responsibility at all. With violent rape, it is obviously 100/0. With an adulterous affair between adults, it is 100/100. In between the two, there can be various gradations. But in the world we now live in, even to raise the question of whether there was complicity or deceit on the part of a victim is to be guilty of “blaming the victim.” But the difficulty is that before we have determined the truth about the affair (using biblical standards of evidence), we don’t know who the victim actually is. Potiphar’s wife was the victim in the story she told; Joseph was the victim in real time.
Of course, when an online discussion breaks out on this or any related topic, it is an invitation to a certain kind of person to jump into a two-minutes-of-hate-swarm, and from the evidence, it appears to be a very compelling sort of invitation. Lots of folks show up, in other words. Just yesterday a clip of my dear wife giving some judicious parenting advice rocketed up to 1.8M views, which is kind of a lot. Many of the comments indicated to thoughtful observers that it was the kind of advice that had not been implemented, or at least not correctly, by many of these commenters’ parents. The advice Nancy had given was on disciplining a child’s emotional reactions, and it was plain and obvious in the comments that the very idea of disciplining emotions was an alien concept.
I suspect that it is the aroma of the discussion that attracts these people, that aroma being the sort that emanates from the garbage disposal unit in Hell’s kitchen, with rancid eggs and rotting fish parts predominating.
Enter Anthony Bradley
The thing to remember is that in this particular swarm the central dogma being advanced was that the woman’s account must simply be accepted, period, stop. Even to raise the question of whether she bore any responsibility at all is to become a rape apologist, not to mention a vile excuse for a human being.
Although I have alluded to the case, I am not getting into all the details of it here, because it is merely the staging platform for what Anthony Bradley decided to do to himself, and out in public too.
At any rate, for whatever reason, Anthony Bradley joined the discussion, and you can see how he did so off to the right. The point to remember here is that Bradley was joining in a melee that was castigating us for not simply taking a woman’s statement about her experience with an immoral teacher at face value. Got that? The point of discussion was over whether Joe Rigney and I were being evil because we wanted to leave room for the possibility that the woman’s story was not entirely complete or accurate.
But what had Bradley done just a few weeks before all this? He had posted a gruesome photo of a lynching aftermath, a lynching that had occurred because a report (that a man had been shot and a white woman raped) was simply taken at face value, and thrown into the rumor mill. As a result an angry mob descended on the county jail with murderous intent.
So Bradley showed us a photo of the two murdered men, killed by a mob that was inflamed by the report of a rape. Bradley wishes ardently that someone had had the moral courage to speak out against such things at the time. There used to be mobs back in the thirties. Not like today. But then, just a few weeks after that, he showed up to support a Twitter swarm that was inflamed by the report of a rape, and it was kind of amazing how his voice just blended in with the crowd.
Let’s hold these things up side by side. When the two men were lynched, it was because people were demanding “action now.” And, as it turns out, we have the “ready, fire, aim” people with us still. “We don’t need no stinking trials. Weighing evidence is misogynistic and racist.” To voice dissent in such a moment could be perilous to your career. You could easily find yourself being accused of supporting or applauding the rape itself . . . you rape apologist.
This is what happens whenever empathy is untethered. Untethered empathy is the fuel that mobs run on. Untethered empathy is a savage beast. It is the fuel for lynch mobs, and it is the fuel that drives gang rape. So Anthony Bradley hates lynchings on paper, and he also hates rape on paper. How very academic of him. Quite proper. But in the real world, the only thing standing between such crimes and an actual mob would be the kind of vertebrate who can stand up to a mob.
But you do not prove your capability for doing that by joining Twitter swarms and pronouncing on cases that are thousands of miles away, involving people you don’t know, and with facts you never heard of.
Don’t Even Try to Track It Down
I am going to share a story, and so I need to give a brief word to our friends at all the various attack sites like Examining Moscow: I am going to tell a story here that illustrates my point even more clearly, but fair warning. I changed a bunch of things all around so that you have no prayer of tracking down the original story that I share below. This means that you can save your breath for walking uphill, which was thoughtful of me.
I only share it because the core of the story illustrates a true intersectional dilemma for people like Bradley. The basic structure of the story highlights a central and very glaring problem. It is such a glaring problem that even mentioning it might get you cancelled good and hard.
Mr. Simmons was a long-term math teacher in an classical Christian school. Let’s call it Legacy Academy. He was married, with his kids attending the secondary at his school, and he was well liked in the school community. He was also a deacon in a local Baptist church.
Amy Hanson was a student at the school, and took classes from him her junior and senior year. Her close friends knew that she had a major crush on Mr. Simmons, but nothing ever went beyond girl talk at slumber parties. After she graduated, she got an AA at a local community college, and then came back to the school to work as a bookkeeper. Her purpose in taking a job at the school was simply to be around Mr. Simmons.
No one was ever able to reconstruct fully how it actually came about, but after about a year and a half back at the school, she and Mr. Simmons had an adulterous affair that lasted about three months, at which time Mr. Simmons broke it off. She left the school at the end of that school year, and went back to the university. About two years after that, they met up one time for a weekend rendezvous when he was traveling for a conference.
Five years later, the full story came out when the Simmons were in marriage counseling at their church, and Mr. Simmons was summarily fired from the school. He was not fired publicly because it was the summer, but it was nevertheless a scandalous event for their school and church community. As the story circulated in the community, he claimed that he had been seduced by her, and she claimed that she had been groomed by him.
The following year, she had her account of the entire episode published in an online magazine that had a very broad circulation, and shortly after that, just a few weeks later, Mr. Simmons was accosted and severely beaten by three assailants.
Now what is the point of telling you all of this? There is a point, I promise, and here it is.
I have not told you what color anybody is. Nor have I told you whether it occurred in Alabama or Connecticut. In addition, I have not said whether the classical Christian school was woke, semi-woke, or true blue conservative. I have not told you the color of the assailants. I have not told you whether the Baptist church where Simmons was a deacon was LGBTQ+ affirming or not.
If the consequence of all this is that you do not know who to root for because I have not shared enough information to activate your tribal loyalties, then the only thing I have established here is that you should be disqualified from jury duty for life. You might have attached some tribal loyalties to the story on your own authority by filling in some of the things I left blank, but I guarantee that I could come back and tell the full story in a way as to flip it around for you.
And this is why a bunch of people I could mention should spend a lot less time in comment threads and a lot more time reading edifying material.
It is astonishing how many people think they can ascertain the truth about an enormously complicated snarl from three thousand miles away, and all they needed to do was watch three minutes of a video clip. But it is not that easy—that is just how they make it look easy. Why does it look so easy? You see, it is possible to identify your tribe from three thousand miles away, and you can do that in three seconds or so.
Understanding the Landscape
In the great demographic group that Gallup calls evangelical, there are basically three groups. Two of these groups are the combatants—and the full woke and the slo-woke on one end. On the other end, we find our active and very courageous conservatives—but enough about Rosaria and Megan.
In the great middle, we have the group that I would like to call the Hezekiah conservatives. They desperately want to be able to say “peace and safety in my time” (2 Kings 20:19). But the revolution has crept into everything, such that the next flash point could be anywhere. In this contingent we find countless pastors with their heads down, hoping against hope that their little town not become the next Kenosha. Maybe all of this will just pass over. Maybe they won’t ever get embroiled in one of these online stink-festivals.
When Ahab called Elijah someone who was a troubler of Israel, (1 Kings 18:17), I have little doubt that there may have been some friends of Elijah who secretly agreed with that sentiment, and they told themselves that they had believed for quite some time that Elijah ought to tone it down a bit. They never seemed to think that Jezebel should tone it down, but that Elijah, he was a firebrand.
At the same time, these Hezekiah conservatives do know in their hearts what is actually going on, but the crisis of the moment is a crisis of courage. They still pull away from people who say out loud in public certain things that they know are true. Yes. They know them to be true. Why don’t they speak up? Because they also know that saying such true things makes the mob very angry. And so they pull away from something they know to be right.
“I am a reproach among all my enemies, but especially among my neighbors, and am repulsive to my acquaintances; Those who see me outside flee from me.”
Psalm 31:11 (NKJV)
But there is one up side when this happens. When all the respectable leaders put daylight between themselves and “that guy,” the chances are pretty good that we have found in that guy the sort of person we need. The sort of person who can stand up to a mob.
And he, standing alone, can have comfort from the Lord. There is nobody standing with him now (Ps. 142:4), but the Lord sustains him. And the Lord promises him that it will not always be so lonesome.
“Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: The righteous shall compass me about; For thou shalt deal bountifully with me.”
Psalm 142:7 (KJV)
Back to the World that Bradley Thought He Knew
And this leads me to the final point. There was a time when the voices of people like Karen Swallow Prior and Anthony Bradley were heard as the measured, responsible, adult voices. But within the last three years, the ground has radically shifted under our feet. As the demands of the hard woke left have gotten increasingly outrageous, insane, and strident, the measured “adult” responses have seemed more and more like simple . . . dithering.
When the bad guys roll out their ultimate totalitolerance program, the one that makes it illegal to believe that Christ rose from the dead (they identified that as the headwaters of all the hate), and news reporters are scrambling to get comments from the leaders of the evangelical resistance, who will they call? I can guarantee you that they will not call the ones that are already living in occupied territory.
In the meantime, untethered empathy is that which feeds all these warp spasms that we see all around us. And what are our erstwhile premium class evangelical leaders doing? They are still defending untethered empathy. Not only so, but they also appear to be incapable of even identifying a warp spasm when they see one.
Not the need of the hour.
The Household and the War for the Cosmos by C.R. Wiley
LAST DAY for NQN Flamethrower giveaway is Nov 15th: We are also giving away the flamethrower used in the video–to enter add your email at noquarternovember.com (giveaway ends 11/15). If you don’t get win, you can buy a NQN-branded flamethrower for yourself (no, we’re not kidding).
It’s Good to be a Man by Michael Foster & Dominic Bnonn Tennant
New Parenting Documentary Series Release: November 17th:
The entire Future Men documentary series releases on Canon+.
And then, from the Mablog Shoppe, the free book this week is All the Condemnation in the World.
All the Condemnation in the World
A statement of the gospel, that gospel which vanquishes the spirit of accusation.