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It was a GOOD day for justice

Of the many stories of science fiction, fantasy and horror that I have read in my time, the one – I think the only one – that for years afterwards I wished I had never seen was It’s a Good Life by Jerome Bixby. That Wikipedia link contains spoilers, obviously, but it is a story some of you might prefer to have spoiled. If not, the full text of the story is here. It is, of course, one of the greatest science fiction/horror stories ever written. If it were not it would not have had such an effect on me when I came across it concealed like a tarantula among sweet fruit in an anthology of science fiction stories for and about children that I got from the library.

Most of the horrors described in the story belong solely in the realms of nightmare. But there is one aspect of life in Peaksville, Ohio, that like all the best fantasy tropes, derives its power from the way it resonates with certain situations in real life. They, the forty-six inhabitants of Peaksville who might or might not be the last remnants of the human race, dared not be unhappy. “Oh, don’t say that, Miss Amy … it’s fine, just fine. A real good day!”

This is the first paragraph of an article by Hugo Rifkind in today’s Times:

Besides the red face, and the shouting, and the hurt indignation, and the mad howls about still liking beer, one thing was very obvious last week about the US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. With a litany of legal achievements behind him, this was not a man who had expected, at 53, to be answering for his behaviour as a teenager.

They really do want to extract the last drop, don’t they? It is not enough to demand that Kavanaugh prove where he was thirty-six years ago when he was seventeen. Correction, approximately seventeen, since Christine Blasey Ford cannot even specify the year in which the alleged crime took place. It is not enough to demand that he defend himself against a baying claque who joyfully proclaim abandonment, not just of the presumption of innocence, but of the very possibility of innocence when the accusation is sexual assault and the accused is male. (Just one example via Instapundit: Students demand professor fired after he champions due process, says ‘Accusers sometimes lie’). That does not sate them. They also demand that the man in the dock must suppress his emotions as utterly as must the slave of a cruel master. Indignation is not permitted him. His voice must remain low and humble. And woe betide him if the involuntary reactions of the body send blood rushing to his face.

Perhaps too much science fiction has addled my brains, but when I read that I really did think of the scene in It’s a Good Life where poor Dan Hollis suddenly can’t find it in him to be happy any more. And I also thought of what followed soon afterwards, not in the context of Judge Kavanaugh this time, but in the context of all those “liberal” journalists like Hugo Rifkind who once upon a time would have been all for due process and the presumption of innocence, but whose courage nowadays – though tested infinitely less than that of the people of Peaksville – stretches only to not being the loudest in the mob:

Some of the people began mumbling. They all tried to smile. The sound of mumbling filled the room like a far-off approval. Out of the murmuring came one or two clear voices:

“Oh, it’s a very good thing,” said John Sipich.

“A good thing,” said Anthony’s father, smiling. He’d had more practice in smiling than most of them. “A wonderful thing.”

17 comments to It was a GOOD day for justice

  • bobby b

    I like the new updated version of “It’s A Good Life” better.

    Pat played “Night And Day” on the piano as everyone tensely watched the new guy, the itinerant wanderer Donald, who lacked the seriousness and the concern and the dread that living with Anthony required.

    Donald, a boorish and brassy man, suddenly caressed Aunt Amy’s breasts, and broke into a song. “I love to go swimmen’ with bowlegged women . . . “, he sang, and that’s when Anthony appeared in the room.

    Jeb, who came from south of town before Anthony had made that an unplace, and who remembered how his brother George had fared with Anthony, hissed at Donald “why can’t you just get along? You’ll only make him angry!

    Donald, with his gap-toothed grin, walked over and stood beside Anthony, and then turned to Jeb and said “Why do you care if he’s angry? Why don’t YOU get angry?

    And then Donald thought Anthony into a grave in the cornfield.

  • cmcsonar

    It’s a Good Life, it is one of Twilight Zone best episode.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie, I recently re-read the Bixby story. You are right: It is nauseating.

    As for my opinion of the Dems’ behaviour in the hearing, I give it quite succinctly here.


    bobby, “Donald”? Are you sure you don’t mean “Lindsey”? :>)

    Props for the re-write.

  • Fred Z

    The difference being that nobody could ever punch Anthony in the face or shoot him dead and sooner or later people will start to go postal because of a lefty assault like the one on Kavanaugh.

    It may not even be the one assaulted who turns to violence.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Saw a similar idea in a recent ‘Doctor Who’ episode- a new colony had some ‘helpful’ robots who looked for validation from the colonists’ emotions. However, if something sad happened, like someone dying, then they felt judged, and became lethally angry. With dead colonists no longer emoting, they reverted to being helpful!

  • Ferox

    I doubt many people are fooled into thinking that the American left actually wants to get rid of due process or that they believe that Kavanaugh actually did anything wrong.

    They are simply willing to forgo due process for one of their enemies if it seems convenient … and they are willing to smear and destroy anyone who stands in the way of their rule.

    None of them have the slightest moral investment in all of this nonsense. It’s purely utilitarian.

  • staghounds

    And then Anthony thought Donald into being quadraplegic and waited two years until he went away.

  • staghounds

    There are lots and lots of people who read that story and think the problem is that Anthony is cruel. Just think how great life would be if it were the right Anthony!

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Staghounds writes,

    There are lots and lots of people who read that story and think the problem is that Anthony is cruel. Just think how great life would be if it were the right Anthony!

    That is a profound comment.

  • Pat

    It seems Atticus Finch is to be regarded as a rape enabler.
    I trust Mr. Rifkind is going to retire from public life since even if he can document the entirety of his teen years he will still be found guilty of anything anyone wants to accuse him of.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I slightly expanded the last paragraph before the final quotation from what I wrote last night, in order to clarify the parallel I was making by mentioning the people mumbling after Dan Hollis is killed.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    It’s a Good Life is indeed an amazing story.
    I had not thought of it for years but I now suspect that it was a key influence for several readers here (including me) in persuading us that people are not innately good and should, ideally, have very little power over other people’s lives.

    Would that it were required reading for thirteen year-olds (I include journalists and politicians in this category).

  • There are lots and lots of people who read that story and think the problem is that Anthony is cruel. Just think how great life would be if it were the right Anthony! (staghounds, October 3, 2018 at 7:42 am)

    A key point of the story is that Anthony desires to help. People are terrified of complaining about anything because if Anthony hears them he will attempt well-intentioned help – probably with disastrous results. Anthony himself is happiest in the cornfield gratifying the simpler desires of the tiny creatures who live there and only occasionally getting confused over whether to prefer a spider’s strong desire to catch flies over a fly’s desire not to be caught in its web.

  • “this was not a man who had expected, at 53, to be answering for his behaviour as a teenager.” [Hugo Rifkind in The Times]

    Actually, Mr Hugo Rifkind, he probably was expecting to answer for his behaviour at all points of his life, but possibly not for his behaviour at no point of his life.

    There again, perhaps he was none too surprised at phony allegations. A judge as long-serving as he must have heard some gross “lawyers’ bull” in his courtroom at times, and anyone in the modern anglosphere knows that the PC tell insolent lies when their agenda demands it. In fact, given the Clarence Thomas / Anita Hill farrago, he must surely have known it was on the cards.

    Perhaps he merely saw no reason to withhold his righteous anger, and the acted ‘trauma’ of the accuser may have motivated him not to affect too much of a ‘stiff upper lip’ about the distress she was causing him.

  • Heavy drinking is a symptom of PTSD. Post American Civil War it was called “the soldier’s disease”.

    Addiction is a symptom of PTSD. Look it up.

  • Paul Marks

    This is the Social Justice movement – they hate (openly hate) such things as “due process” or “the assumption of innocence” – because these are “capitalist” things that prop up the “exploitation” and “oppression” of people by evil capitalist white, male, heterosexuals.

    Do not laugh – as your children are being taught these doctrines in the schools and the universities – and it is reinforced by the media. For example, being a Hollywood celeb is far more about attacking “the right” than it is being any good at acting, and being pop singer is (again) far more about attacking “capitalist oppression of people of colour, women, transgender people……” than it is about the ability to sing.

  • Paul Marks October 4, 2018 at 12:33 am,

    Conservatism is the new counter culture. I’m not too worried.