Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Common Man Sings

In his essay The Common Man, G.K. Chesterton posed that, despite the supposed emancipation in Western society over the previous several centuries, the ordinary man who was supposedly the beneficiary really has just found himself a victim of new persecutions by the State. For the regular person really had no interest or use for the new freedoms being offered by society, but rather, 
If [society] has emancipated anybody, it has in rather special and narrow ways emancipated the Uncommon Man. It has given an eccentric sort of liberty to some of the hobbies of the wealthy, and occasionally to some of the more humane lunacies of the cultured. The only thing it has forbidden is common sense, as it would have been understood by the common people. is the boast of recent emancipated ethics and politics not to put any great restraints upon anybody who wants to publish a book, especially a scientific book, full of psychology or sociology; and perhaps unavoidably full of perversions and polite pornography. As that modern tendency increased, it was less and less likely that the police would interfere very much with a man publishing the sort of book that only the wealthy could publish with sumptuous artistic plates or scientific diagrams. It is much more probable, in most modern societies, that the police would be found interfering with a man singing a song, of a course and candid description, bawling out a ballad of the grosser sort, or even using the more restrained medium of prose with a similar lack of restraint...
Chesterton was writing this nearly a hundred years ago; of course by now society has progressed a bit beyond the occasional pornographic book put out by some upper-class crank...

Continuing on with Chesterton...

...the Common Man does not generally want to write a book, where as he may occasionally want to sing a song. He certainly does not want to write a book on psychology or sociology — or to read, it. But he does want to talk, to sing, to shout, to yell and howl on due and suitable occasions; and, rightly or wrongly, it is when he is thus engaged that he is much more likely to fall foul of a policeman than when he is (as he never is) writing a scientific study of a new theory of sex.
Was Chesterton right? Do we live today in such a society, in which the upper class, who justify their perversions with a thin veneer of 'science' and other fine abstract notions, are allowed to be as obscene as they please, while an ordinary man in the street can no longer open up his mouth to sing perhaps even a slightly bawdy song? 

Well, there is this: Last summer, Jim Osche of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was assaulted by police shortly after he was caught in the incendiary act of singing the Beach Boys' 'Barbara Ann' in front of a fancy downtown steakhouse. Apparently his crimes were: 1. Singing, and 2. Being less than nice to the police officer who ambled over to inquire as to what he thought he was doing. For his gross indecency of trying to entertain people with his singing, the 61 year old Osche was bodyslammed to the pavement out of 'self-defense' by the officer, who apparently didn't like having a finger pointed at him. Seems about fair. Perhaps he should have sung Wrecking Ball, rather than some innocent Beach Boys song. Video below: 

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