Dispatches from the wilds of Barbaria

(Wherein our intrepid hero exudes a raw, primal masculine energy in an extremely hairy sort of way)

Throughout history, some of the greatest minds that our species has spat violently onto the world have sat mere inches above fine, noble, dignified beards – Socrates, Leonardo Da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, George Bernard Shaw, Lord Kelvin – this is just a smattering of those great intellects who saw fit to adorn themselves with a fine set of whiskers – and let us not forget the moustaches: Einstein, Tesla, Twain, Nietzsche – it is fair to say that enwhiskered personages have made no small contribution to civilization as we know it.

Then consider the un-bearded, the clean shaven, the childlike simps who have smooth-cheeked their way through history – Kant, Napoleon, Edison, Nixon… jerks, the lot of them! Maybe if Sartre had grown himself so much as a ‘tache, he wouldn’t have been such a downer. And yet, one rarely sees a beard these days. Worse still, when you do, in the media, the bearded person is almost always a shattered husk of a human being. If you see a man with a beard on a modern television show, you can be sure that he’s either a drunk, his marriage is failing, he’s crazy, or he’s unemployed, &c., &c., &c…. And the less said about the portrayal of bearded women in the media, the better. One cannot wonder if, were they to make a mini-series on, say, the life of Abraham Lincoln, it wouldn’t end with him divorced, drinking himself to death in a log cabin in the woods after having lost the civil war. He did have a beard, after all.

Indeed, just the other day I had some clean-shaven simpering moron yell at me as I was crossing the street, calling me “Abraham Lincoln” as though it were derogatory. What marvellous things, I wonder, must this man have done to consider being compared to the great emancipator as an insult? He must, I assume, have been driving that battered old minivan to the launch-pad of the rocket that he built single-handed to fly to the moon – in his spare time, of course, when he wasn’t busy creating peace in the middle east and ending world hunger. He must, of course, be a truly amazing man. After all, he’s mastered the complex science of shaving.

What truly disturbs me, however, is the commentary I receive from people I know – people who, I had presumed, were intelligent, rational beings (though it is, I must admit, a personal failing of mine that I tend to expect intelligence and rationality from my fellow human beings). It cannot be described as anything short of unashamed prejudice. What’s more, it is apparently considered reasonable to expect this prejudice. I was warned, before going on my latest trip, that my beard would result in frequent “random checks” by airport security personnel. I’ve also been warned that my beard would hurt my chances of getting a job, damage my romantic prospects, and just generally result in my being treated as a second-class citizen. I find it astounding that people take the growth of facial hair to be indicative of anything other than a desire to grow facial hair, and yet, I find myself the recipient of perceptions that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I am now a person of diminished intelligence, competence, and general respectability. And for what? Because I choose to comport myself in a way that some of the greatest minds in history have done? Do we truly imagine that, were I ever – in a fit of brain fever – to attempt to enter one of those smoke-choked sweat-factories filled with wannabe-epileptics that we call “nightclubs”, that the bouncer who would almost certainly squeeze some idiotic concoction of a reason for not letting me in from his pea-sized intellect knows better than Socrates? And can we really, in this modern age of “tolerance” excuse such naked prejudice? Oh, certainly, I could remove my beard with far greater ease than one could change their gender, race, or sexual preference, but does that really make the prejudice any less disgusting? And does it not disturb anyone that we haven’t had a prime-minister with a beard since 1914? The only thing that gives me cause for hope is knowing that I will, single handed, bring back the beard. Indeed, not to long after I visited New York, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien grew beards. Coincidence? Hardly!

Oh, you could tell me that there are far worse forms of discrimination going on, but really, if relativity’s your only justification, then we oughtn’t complain about anything, because no form of suffering that we’re undergoing could possibly compare to what’s going on in the Sudan at the moment. The sad fact of the matter is this: the human race is, and always will be, filled with ignorant, unthinking jerks – and no matter how hard we work to change perceptions and end discrimination, all it will ever result in is a change of the criteria of discrimination. Ultimately, I think we all know the sad truth that there is only one solution: we must kill everyone.

Except the people with beards, of course.

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Published in: on January 20, 2008 at 11:31 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. The sad fact of the matter is this: the human race is, and always will be, filled with ignorant, unthinking jerks – and no matter how hard we work to change perceptions and end discrimination, all it will ever result in is a change of the criteria of discrimination. Ultimately, I think we all know the sad truth that there is only one solution: we must kill everyone.

    I love you Spence, but you’re starting to sound like Hitler. He had some facial hair too.


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