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Meryl Streep’s Speech

Did you see Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes Awards? They gave her a (well-deserved) award for lifetime achievement, and she took the opportunity to talk about how brave Hollywood is, “vilified” by much of the country, and what an ass Donald Trump is. Here’s her speech in toto:

Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.

Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said: You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.

Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

They gave me three seconds to say this, so: An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.

But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. O.K., go on with it.

O.K., this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing: Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something — you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art.

I don’t strongly disagree with anything Streep said in the speech, aside from her praising her own colleagues for their virtue, and the fact that Trump almost certainly did not mock a disabled reporter for his disability [1]. For the record, I didn’t vote for Trump (or Hillary), and think he’s a pluperfect ass.

But did people really need to hear one of the world’s great actresses use time that she might have reflected on her art and her craft to instead gripe about Trump, however much he may have deserved it?  Actress Patricia Heaton didn’t think so, and tweeted:

Immediately she drew criticism on Twitter for being insufficiently woke. According to Twitter, to wish a great actress being rewarded for her great acting had used her time in the spotlight to talk about acting instead of Trump is to side with the enemy. It was astonishing how they jumped on her for this. It looks as if we are becoming a culture where if you aren’t 100 percent in favor of something, then you are ipso facto the enemy. It reminds me of Milan Kundera’s writing about “kitsch” in The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

Whenever a single political movement corners power, we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch. When I say “totalitarian,” what I mean is that everything that infringes on kitsch must be banished for life: every display of individualism (because a deviation from the collective is a spit in the eye of the smiling brotherhood); every doubt (because anyone who starts doubting details will end by doubting life itself); all irony (because in the realm of kitsch everything must be taken quite seriously); and the mother who abandons her family or the man who prefers men to women, thereby calling into question the holy decree “Be fruitful and multiply.”

… In the realm of totalitarian kitsch, all answers are given in advance and preclude any questions. It follows, then, that the true opponent of totalitarian kitsch is the person who asks questions. A question is like a knife that slices through the stage backdrop and gives us a look at what lies hidden behind it.

Patricia Heaton offered no opinion on the content of Streep’s speech, only that she wished it had been about acting. But Heaton’s failure to immediately declare the speech brave and necessary, or whatever, revealed that there was only one possible correct stance toward Streep’s address: 100 percent whistling-and-stomping in favor. Otherwise, you empower the Enemy of the People. You might even be an Enemy of the People yourself. More Kundera:

Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch.

Two tears flowed in quick succession in that room last night. The first tear said: How nice to see Meryl Street praising us and denouncing Donald Trump. The second tear said: How nice to be moved, together with all decent-thinking people, by Meryl Streep’s praise of us and denunciation of Donald Trump. It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch.

My opinion is that Streep’s speech in this context was inappropriate. It doesn’t make me mad or anything, but it was another example of celebrity moral preening and virtue signaling. Hell, Meryl Streep could have used her Golden Globes time to appeal to all viewers to come to Jesus and buy Rod Dreher’s books, and in this context, I still would have thought it an unfortunate waste of time at best.

But me and my molto pretentioso invocation of a Mitteleuropäische postmodern novelist have nothing on this guy Nick Searcy, who got the gist of what was so irritating about the Streep speech, though:

UPDATE: From reader Alan Cross:

I guess that I just tend to focus more on content than all of the other things like setting, time, place, etc. Because of that, this is the section that really stood out to me and I hope that it is heard by everyone and applied everywhere, no matter your politics or whether you are on the Right or the Left or in between:

“And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”

After a few years of battles over pizza places and photographers and wedding cakes and florists and speech on college campuses in the public square, a wise approach might be to take these words coming now from Hollywood and other bastions of the Left and say, “You know, you are right and this is what we’ve been saying. We will apply this to you if you apply it to us so we can all respect one another, get along, and not use our power to punish those who disagree with us – or with you.”

Perhaps we are at a moment where, before things get worse, we can be gracious and say that this appeal by Streep and others is fundamentally true and is worth being lived out by all of us and we should listen to it – all of us. It should be applied to those in power and those without power and through it, perhaps we can have a more civil and free society.

That was the part I focused on and I was thankful to hear it from her, as I am whenever truth comes from any source. I think that we have an opportunity here to bring peace and to forge a way forward in the culture wars that could benefit us all – if we could see it. Just a thought.

Like I said, I agree with most of what Streep said, minus the self-congratulatory Hollywood guff, but as reader Kgasmart explains in his comment, context is everything:

We are going to endure 4 (or maybe 8) years of this, “resistance” speeches from the left lamenting the “hate” of those who dare to vote inappropriately, etc.

But the question I’d ask is this:

Who was actually converted by what Streep said last night? How many laid-off workers in Ohio or Michigan actually re-thought their political position based on the emotional plea from this old liberal white woman who absolutely marinates in a privilege they will never know?

The flip side of this is Fiat’s announcement that it will invest $1 billion in Michigan and Ohio, creating 2,000 jobs. This, just after Ford announced it was scrapping plans to build a facility in Mexico and instead reinvest in Michigan.

We can argue how much Trump had to do with any of this, but the timing, at least, is very convenient for him.

And I suspect the impression that Trump did this, that his election is behind industry’s seeming sudden interest in reinvesting in America, will change **far** more minds, and votes, than anything said by Streep.

175 Comments (Open | Close)

175 Comments To "Meryl Streep’s Speech"

#1 Comment By sherparick On January 10, 2017 @ 8:42 am

1. Generally, it is not safe to criticize the person who will be President of the United States and whose party control both houses of congress, soon the Supreme Court, and is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the National Security Apparatus of the United States.

2. I am sure the tax exempt status of donations to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that fail to show proper deference to the Conservative Movement and the Free Market will be examine. Currently, political loyalty is actually forbidden as a standard for Government work. That appears about to change. Finally, it is the Right that has a long history of using power and connections to silent the Left in this country, not the other way around, as 30 years of Right Wing radio, Fox News, and most of the newspaper editorial pages in this country (check out the WaPo’s editorial page where right wing and center right pundits outnumber the liberals 4 to 1.)

3. When you write something to criticize, you have to accept that you in turn will be criticized, and that many will resort to ad hominem arguments, but that is the way it goes. When you enter into the pit of political argument, one has to expect some blows.

4. The reporter referred to by Ms. Streep Serge Kovalski, has a disability. I know people who support and voted for Trump don’t want to admit the truth of the character of the man they voted for so will go through all sorts of back flips about what he did that day in South Carolina, but the video speaks for itself. [5]

5. I give Meryl Streep credit, because she trolled Trump and she trolled so many on the right into defending his bullying and piggish ways. Why people are angry at her is for just that reason, that she reminded them of the kind of man they just voted for.

[NFR: Nos. 1 and 2 are ridiculous on their face, and I quit reading after that. — RD]

#2 Comment By sherparick On January 10, 2017 @ 8:48 am

I also see this comment that “The American People Voted” and liberals should just shut-up. Funny, Conservatives did not shut up after 2008 and 2012 as far as I can tell? They held CPAC in January 2009 and Rush Limbaugh led a big Pep Rally to make Obama a failed President. But “America Voted,” except of course 54% of the American People (which at least still for the moment includes Blacks Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asians Americans, Liberals, and Environmentalists, at least until the detention camps can be built) voted for someone else and the losing candidate actually got 3 million more votes than the winner. So no, we won’t shut up. Especially about the mean viciousness that is about to released on the country.

[NFR: No, I don’t suppose you will. — RD]

#3 Comment By sherparick On January 10, 2017 @ 8:54 am

1. Lots of liberals love football, the gods help them. If there was talk yesterday, about the NFL, it should be about how awful those games were (I can’t watch the games on TV anymore, the commercials and breaks this make it interminable compared to the games I watched in the sixties and seventies.)

2. A great college game last night, but I don’t even watch many of those anymore with the break up of the old conferences and rivalries. On these matters, I am very conservative and hate the change.

#4 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 10, 2017 @ 9:21 am

Erin Manning,

Margaret Sanger opposed abortion, actually. I have very little fondness for Planned Parenthood, but to say they’re the spiritual descendants of their founder is, well, problematic.

#5 Comment By edr On January 10, 2017 @ 9:22 am

I was surprised at the bad acting – directors make a difference. It seems politicians really are exceptional actors.

#6 Comment By sjay On January 10, 2017 @ 10:57 am

The point is that the mainstream media emphatically, categorically denied that it happened… even to the point of stating that there was no footage of coverage of the alleged celebrations in its archives. Yet, here we have footage from mainstream media of coverage of investigations of the alleged celebrations.

Weak, very weak, in my humble opinion. Trump’s comments about seeing “thousands of Arabs celebrating in NJ” can’t be justified by citing to published reports that allegations of people celebrating were investigated.

#7 Comment By sjay On January 10, 2017 @ 11:01 am

As for who was watching, this leftist heard about the Streep speech from the whining of conservative friends on Facebook. I wasn’t watching anything, but if I had, it would have been NFL football. When I asked one of the whiners why he watched the GG (I’ve never watched an awards show of that type in my life) he said he likes to look at the glitter and the women are pretty. “Well,” I said, “you’ve got to pay the price.”

#8 Comment By lily On January 10, 2017 @ 11:01 am

sherparick says:

I also see this comment that “The American People Voted” and liberals should just shut-up. Funny, Conservatives did not shut up after 2008 and 2012 as far as I can tell?

No, but I also recall the left saying he won and he should be allowed to implement the policies on which he ran. They also encouraged Obama to ‘go around’ congress if congress wouldn’t implement Obama’s ideas. So it seems double standards run both ways.

So no, we won’t shut up. Especially about the mean viciousness that is about to released on the country.

As opposed to the mean viciousness the bully left has been doling out?

What about the small christian-run business that the left has hatefully tried to ruin (successfully in some cases)? And the bully left is currently boycotting LL Bean because one of 50 of the family owners privately donated to Trump. What about the left bullying Brenden Eich out of his own company because he privately supported ‘traditional marriage’ even though people who actually worked with the man said he was tolerant and fair minded with his own diverse workforce.

The left wrote the rule book on vicious bullying here in the US.

#9 Comment By Rossbach On January 10, 2017 @ 11:55 am

Meryl Streep is a fine actress, but her speech at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony proves that she needs a better script writer. No one who has been alive, alert, and oriented at any time during the past 50 years could believe a word of the drivel that comprised her speech. Hollywood, foreigners, and the press are the most vilified group in the country? Give me a break.

#10 Comment By Franklin Evans On January 10, 2017 @ 12:43 pm

Jesus Christ on a pogo stick.

You’d think no one posting here has been alive for more than 12 years.

The only “standard” in American politics is the golden rule: those who have the gold (or are in office) make the rules.

There was a time, before Bill Clinton, when actual rules were followed in Congress, a bit more than lip-service to Roberts’ Rules of Order. That’s not a standard, just a reflection of the realities of governing. Every government, down to the smallest municipality, has rules to follow or things go from out of hand to out of control in a heartbeat.

Again, a reflection of the realities of governing.

Our present reality: a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, that golden rule being waved around like a cudgel, and a small-minded man surrounded by sycophants preparing to take that cudgel in hand… and woe to anyone within his reach, including his own family.

#11 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 10, 2017 @ 1:03 pm

Lily, how many divisions does the “bully left” have? I’m really awfully amused at the varying factions of talking heads who think each other’s red hot rhetoric is a matter of practical significance to average Americans.

Hector is correct that Margaret Sanger opposed abortion. Although the effort to “defund Planned Parenthood” is mean, spiteful, petty, and probably amounts to a bill of attainder (forbidden by the Original text of the U.S. constitution, prior to any amendments), I think it will be good for Planned Parenthood in the long run.

America’s strong tradition of free association and voluntarism has been crippled by reflexive dependence on federal grants. When my mother was a Planned Parenthood volunteer, it was a real volunteer organization, not a business model “non-profit.” It would do well to return to those roots.

#12 Comment By Cocky Bovine On January 10, 2017 @ 1:17 pm

Eh. We as a nation thought that a reality TV star would be a competent president, so if one of the greatest actresses of all time wants to spend her precious time kicking that president-elect before the orchestra starts playing her off, it’s fair game, I guess.

#13 Comment By Sands On January 10, 2017 @ 2:59 pm

But “America Voted,” except of course 54% of the American People (which at least still for the moment includes Blacks Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asians Americans, Liberals, and Environmentalists, at least until the detention camps can be built)

Is that really a concern of yours, or are you just funnin us?

#14 Comment By Kathy On January 10, 2017 @ 3:39 pm

This is what I wish she had said;
Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you I am so grateful I can use this platform to give thanks to God. Please remain standing. Please remain standing this is important. God loves you all. So sorry I have lost my voice because I can’t express his love to you enough. Thank you Jesus, all of us in this room really belong to the most high Father. But who are we? We’re just a bunch of imperfect sinners. We must remember to forgive and love one another. God has performed many many many miracles this year, his majesty will take your breath away. He is so passionate for us!
I feel compelled to tell all of you about something that just completely stuns me it has really sank hooks in my heart. He died on the cross for you and for me! He died on the cross for you and for me! Thank you Jesus!!! This is real friends it is so powerful I can’t ever get it out of my head or my heart. What he has done filters down to all of us in such a powerful way. When we spread his word, worship and praise him he is pleased. So I only ask all of us in our community and around the world to join me in giving him all the Honor and Glory because friends we need him. He will always tell us the truth and keep his promises.
One more thing, let us stop whining and start praising! It is such a privilege to have a personal relationship with Christ.
Friends, take your brokenness and give it to our Lord. Thank you. Thank you.

#15 Comment By Art Deco On January 10, 2017 @ 4:20 pm

We as a nation thought that a reality TV star would be a competent president,

He runs a business with 22,000 employees and $9.5 bn in revenue, but why let reality get in the way of a banal snotty remark?

#16 Comment By Art Deco On January 10, 2017 @ 4:23 pm

Although the effort to “defund Planned Parenthood” is mean, spiteful, petty, and probably amounts to a bill of attainder (forbidden by the Original text of the U.S. constitution, prior to any amendments),

It does not amount to a bill of attainder unless you fancy Planned Parenthood has a property right to public money. I’m sure Laurence Tribe is ginning up some bit of specious pettifoggery making that case, but no one’s compelled to take him seriously.

#17 Comment By George Marshall On January 10, 2017 @ 10:31 pm

Mr. Dreher, you claim that Mr. Trump “almost certainly did not mock a reporter for his disability.” You link to Catholics4Trump which says: “During the rally Trump pointed all of this out and paraphrased Kovaleski’s backtracking as he impersonated a groveling reporter changing his story under pressure. While he did this, Trump moved his hands around quickly, acting flustered.”

The problem is that Mr. Trump did not impersonate “a” reporter. He impersonated a specific reporter, namely Mr. Kovaleski, who does have a disability. He almost certainly did mock a reporter with a disability.

#18 Comment By M_Young On January 10, 2017 @ 10:31 pm

“And the bully left is currently boycotting LL Bean because one of 50 of the family owners privately donated to Trump. ”

Uh oh. First the African-American community, and now this…

[6]

#19 Comment By Cocky Bovine On January 10, 2017 @ 11:45 pm

He runs a business with 22,000 employees and $9.5 bn in revenue, but why let reality get in the way of a banal snotty remark?

There is no lack of people in this country who run similarly-sized or larger businesses. And most of them do so in relative anonymity because they haven’t spent the last several years firing people on national TV.

Pointing out that the man’s single most successful business venture is selling himself on national TV is neither banal nor snotty, but the truth. What would be banal and snotty would be to point out that it’s something that he has in common with the Kardashians.

#20 Comment By M_Young On January 11, 2017 @ 4:15 am

“The problem is that Mr. Trump did not impersonate “a” reporter. He impersonated a specific reporter, namely Mr. Kovaleski, who does have a disability. ”

Kovaleski is a print reporter. Had Trump met the guy or otherwise seen him before this alleged mocking of his disability? There is no doubt that he mocked the reporter, who has a disability. But the article is convincing that Trump was not mocking the disability, but rather doing his standard schtick of mocking someone who is backtracking.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 11, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

It does not amount to a bill of attainder unless you fancy Planned Parenthood has a property right to public money.

I expected some banal remark like that from Art Deco. I am happy to explain in more detail. A bill of attainder, in its most narrow sense, rendered an individual subject to arrest and either imprisonment or execution because the sovereign, or parliament, had decreed or voted to condemn him (or her) as a criminal or an enemy of the state, without trial for specific acts violating specific statutes, pre-known to all and on the books for general application. For instance, someone could be “attainted of treason” by declaration, or attainted of any crime, or attainted for no particular crime.

The founders of our republic wished to ban such measures. More broadly, any act under color of law that singles out a person or group for disparate treatment can in effect be an act of attainder. In this instance, IF the federal government offers grants to provide certain medical services, or IF the federal government offers reimbursement to qualified medical providers who serve patients who have qualified for coverage, e.g., Medicaid, then, to single out a particular organization, and ban such funds being paid to that organization, because some politically well connected people don’t like that organization, even though it provides the designated services with the requisite level of quality and standards… amounts to a bill of attainder.

It is true that the federal government has no constitutional obligation to fund any medical services whatsoever for anyone. It is true that many federal grants are allocated through a competitive application process, and Planned Parenthood might well be among the losing parties whose applications are not funded. But a categorical ban because “we don’t like Planned Parenthood,” outside whatever competitive processes or uniform regulatory requirements may be generally applied, would be a bill of attainder.

It should not need to be repeated, but neither Planned Parenthood nor any other medical delivery service receives federal funding for abortion, because this is, across the board, as a law of general application, denied to all. There is no federal funding for abortion services. Most Planned Parenthood clinics are not set up to perform abortions, although they may do referrals.

All that said, I repeat that it will be good for Planned Parenthood in the long run if they do lose federal funding. They will learn to stand on their own two feet and maintain themselves through voluntary subscription that does not depend on the arbitrary and capricious winds of political fortune.

#22 Comment By Dorin Gutu On January 11, 2017 @ 8:01 pm

Chicago torture video: 4 charged with hate crimes, kidnapping. A few days just before her speech and she didn’t bother to mention this, but she goes into politics because she cares about disabled people lol

#23 Comment By Martha On January 14, 2017 @ 4:19 pm

Meryl Streep gets to use her speech time to say what she sees fit. It’s not unusual for a star receiving an award to talk about something other than acting. And you get to criticize her speech as you see fit. And yes, I agree that Hollywood is self-congratulatory, and that it’s obnoxious.

But . . . it’s intellectually dishonest to claim that Trump wasn’t imitating that reporter. Everyone who saw him knows he did. Pretending otherwise is beneath you.

#24 Comment By Martha On January 14, 2017 @ 4:22 pm

@M_Young
“Had Trump met the guy or otherwise seen him before this alleged mocking of his disability?” Yes. They had met numerous times, because that reporter had covered him for the NY Daily News. Trump says he didn’t remember any of those meetings.

#25 Comment By Christine On January 14, 2017 @ 5:24 pm

To Meryl Streep and all of the “Follywood” snobs who are filthy rich, undeservedly celebrated and obnoxiously ignorant: without us “deplorables” out here who make up most of America, you wouldn’t be where you are. Oh, and by the way, we’re black, white, Asian, Mexican, Polynesian, Latin, Native-American and everything else that makes up the melting pot we share… you know… the one that’s called the United States of America. One way or another, we’re ALL foreigners blessed with the opportunity to either support our great country and our President, or destroy it. So show some respect and stop acting like treasonous buffoons. You don’t deserve the success that America has bestowed on you or the acknowledgement millions of fans have given you. We gave you that fabulous career and lifestyle Ms. Streep. That’s right! Us! The American people! Remember us? The little nobody’s who work hard, love our country and our traditions (like football), and struggle to put our own kids through college. Yup, we put you there the same way we put politicians in office, and we can take it away, just like we took it away from Hillary. Have you thought of that or do you have the ability to think beyond the confines of the liberal bubble you live in? It would be most entertaining if you, the so-called queen of Hollywood, ended up as the woman who notoriously initiated the decline of box office revenue that ultimately upends Hollywood. Now, THAT would be REAL entertainment. Imagine movie theaters closing down nationwide, just like video stores.I’m sure there’s plenty of people who would enjoy watching you drive mini-vans instead of riding in limos. Unfortunately, we helped create your self-delusions with our generous contributions to your success. But the monstrous result of our stupid, star-struck culture is finally reaching a threshold. Millions of people are repulsed by your odious, pompous conceit and unwarranted sense of self-importance. We’re revolted by the degenerate cultural climate that IS Hollywood. You’re nothing more than entertainers. You’re not heroes. You don’t save lives. You don’t put yourselves at risk to protect or defend others. You make films, and the truth is, many of them aren’t worth watching or paying for. More and more, I hear people say they rather spend their time and money on other things, so imagine what life would be like if a few million people stopped purchasing your product? Don’t think it will ever happen? Go ahead… toss your heads and laugh. Make your snide, small-minded comments. You laughed and said Mr. Trump would never become president and that Hillary would never lose and THAT’S how piously disconnected you really are. Americans should put you in your place and remove you from your self-righteous, sanctimonious pedestals. Maybe then, you’d learn some humility.