How benign is the pink police state?

The University Bookman has published two responses to James Poulos’ pink police state series over at the Federalist, one from Pascal Emmanuel-Gobry and one from myself, in which I make a few points already covered here, and talk about lighting a friend on fire, but not in the pentecostal sense:

One thing that came to mind reading James Poulos’ series on the pink police state is an incident, in eighth grade I believe, in which a friend, with his permission, was dressed up in several layers of old sweatshirts, a smiley face painted in kerosene on his back, and lit on fire. We took pictures, of course, but this being the days before YouTube, we weren’t aiming for a viral video. Call it youthful nihilism, or the establishment of what Poulos calls a “zone of transgression,” at any rate he is fine now and has gone on to a promising career in multimedia. But he damn well could have died.

Poulos has gotten very close to a diagnosis most of us can agree on, and that’s a fine thing. The Tocquevillian notion that things are getting better and worse is something that much of the right could probably do with hearing more often. But it’s hard to read Poulos’s essays and not conclude that the worseness is accelerating. Moreover, despite the distributed nature of the new regime, it is possible to observe a certain logic to it. …

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