Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Says Jordi Casabona in today's El Periódico:

Recently several persons have been seen, totally naked, strolling through the streets of Barcelona. One of them is an older man who, besides wearing old-fashioned shoes and socks, has an ostentatiously pierced penis. A couple of Sundays ago, I saw one on Calle Aragón who was only wearing cowboy boots and glasses. He was tall, about 30 years old, and he walked with a mixture of arrogance and dignity.

A few days an American friend who had been staying in our city told me, speechless, that he had seen the man with the old-fashioned shoes and socks and the pierced penis walking calmly down Calle Ferran. Not only could he not conceive that the passers-by practically ignored him, but that he managed to walk 100 meters without a patrol of policemen jumping on him.

I cold not avoid being surprised one more time how in our society there is frequently much more tolerance for individual behavior than for many people's ways of thinking or believing. Just the opposite of what happens in my American friend's society.

Interesting. Mr. Casabona says that American society is more tolerant of dissident thought or belief, while Spanish society is more tolerant of individual behavior. Spain is certainly tolerant of individual behavior; you can do pretty much whatever you want here. It really is more tolerant, in this sense, than the Midwest; in the Midwest most people wouldn't appreciate gentlemen walking around town indecently exposed. Or teenagers smoking hash in the plazas, or neighborhood fiestas that don't close down until 4 AM, or hardcore porno on the newsstands, or all the drag queens fruiting it up around here. (I swear Spanish society is really into cross-dressing, much more so than you might imagine.) I bet in New York or LA nobody would care.

He's right when he says that the spectrum of opinion in Spain is narrower than in the US, at least among high- and middle-brow circles. Pretty much, over here, you know exactly what most folks who claim to be educated think about every issue. Against the Iraq war, against global warming, against the Church, against big corporations, for bestiality. They all have exactly the same ideas, some sort of vaguely socialist do-gooding pacifist Catalan-but-multicultural green utopian dream.

El Periódico also did a photo-opinion section with five "experts" giving their opinion of the Al Gore movie and traveling snake-oil show. Notice the fact that their perspectives are nearly identical; that is, they all believe in Al's version of the issue. Some are a little more fanatical than others, though.

Josep Garriga, Climate Change Office: "He has done all of us working against climactic change a big favor. (The movie) is aimed at the US audience and those in the federal government who do not believe in (climactic) change. The data he presents are correct, though arguable."

A. Rodríguez Picó, TV meteorologist: "It must be seen, though it is a very American viewpoint. We must extrapolate here in Catalonia because here our society is different. If 2006 was the year of awareness, 2007 must be the year of action. We must change our habits. I sold my car."

Josep Enric Llebot, Autonomous University professor: "It is quite accurate, though sometimes it uses (future) impacts in an exaggerated manner, going to extreme situations. It's a good strategy for convincing people and showing them how we must act as individuals. It is in our hands."

Jose Luis Gallego, environmental journalist: "Climate change is more of an ethical revolution than an ecological one. There is only one truth, which may be uncomfortable for some. The movie and the book are magnificent. The message reaches everyone who has some conscience."

Miguel Á. Rodríguez, researcher: "It has broken down the barriers between scientists and society. The latter is only interested in what celebrities say. At a scientific level, the issue is super-decided. Within 15 years Bush will be criticized more for not signing the Kyoto protocol than Iraq."

So the range of enlightened opinion is:

Mr. Garriga is a true believer. He thinks sin is bad and those who fight it are good.
Mr. Rodríguez Picó wants to mobilize society against sin, and is himself a redeemed ex-sinner.
Mr. Llebot is in favor of lying in order to convince people not to sin.
Mr. Gallego states that there is only one Truth, which can be seen by a non-sinning elect.
Mr. Rodríguez names the Devil himself, the Sinner-in-Chief, who dares to scorn Holy Writ.

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