When thinking about composing this post I realized Ayn Rand had invoked the Comprachicos almost 50 years ago. Rand’s post, astonishingly, seems almost naive now. But let’s return to that later.
Victor Hugo, in the phenomenal novel The Man Who Laughs, tells the story of a 17th-century youth featuring a peculiar facial deformity – his mouth is shaped so widely and openly that he perpetually appears to be laughing hysterically.
The deformity was not congenital though. It was inflicted purposefully by a diabolical Iberian cult called the Comprachicos. The Comprachicos‘ business was the physical reshaping of children and orphans they would obtain mostly by kidnapping. A circus is in need of a man with the shape of a cone? The Comprachicos would plant a boy in a cone-shaped restraint for the duration of his childhood. Need a persuasive beggar? The Comprachicos would blind a girl and remove a limb to top it off.
Whether the Comprachicos had really existed as a unified community or a kind of devilish guild is not clear. Hugo may have used some poetic license. He did have a unique talent for dramatic flare – in The Hunchback of Notre Dame Quasimodo and Esmeralda end up as two embraced skeletons that crumble into dust when found a century later. In any case, Hugo didn’t completely make things up. The practice of purposefully stunting and disfiguring children for the joys of kings and circuses is not unheard of in human history.
Clearly, this is a blood-curdling metaphor for the stunting of children at a young age. This was not lost on Ayn Rand who used the metaphor to attack the hippie methods of Montessori schools and other “progressive” institutions emerging during her time. And she might have been right. But oh man, how innocent and naive this seems now! Ah that we could return to the days when bad education simply meant hippie experiments in weird socialization!
The Comprachicos of today do not settle for playing the guitar as a replacement for teaching Jane her figures. They actually disfigure Jane! Exploiting Jane’s whims as an excuse, they eagerly send her on a path of hormonal therapy, often leading to “top surgery” in which her female breasts are removed to mimic the bodily shape of a male.
Johnny’s fate is worse, even if sometimes less grotesque. Male camaraderie is now “toxic masculinity.” Competitiveness, daring, risk-taking and original thought are punished severely and contained within the iron constraints of politically correct idiocies. Diagnosed with “ADHD” three times more often than girls, energetic boys who need exercise and stimulation are instead prescribed drugs to keep them docile and in check. Often it becomes a lifelong habit, to the delight of friends who thus gain a reliable source for party drugs to be snorted for fun.
Yet chemical modification, surgical alteration, and vitality-suppression are not enough for the Comprachicos. The goblins and harpies of the public school system dump a whole avalanche of anti-education on America’s youth. With mandated “ethnic studies,” an annual liturgy of Black Month and Pride Month, and a never-ending dose of “equity,” America’s disfigured victims are programmed to despise themselves, their nation, and their own heritage.
An average public school pupil can no longer find stability in the constant of gender (“There’s a whole spectrum of them! You too can be non-binary!”), no comfort in belonging to a congregation (“That’s unfair privilege! Waa!”), no strength in the family (“Patriarchy! Bring it down!”), and no solace in the ties that bind him to his own country (“America is systemically racist! You must repent!”).
The end result of this disfigurement, as is becoming evident with each wave of Antifa rioters or maenads screaming for abortion, are legions of disturbed youths, as unwholesome as they are insane, as angry as they are dysfunctional, as ignorant as they are resentful.
The old Comprachicos, perverted and hellish as they were, at least did things for a simple profit motive. Perhaps they even knew that they were evil. Perhaps at night, amongst the screams of tortured children, they even feared the wrath that would certainly come upon them in another world. They thus worked under the radar, in the shadows of a chaotic world, leaving few traces and certainly not developing an ideology to justify their ways.
The new Comprachicos, alas, are supported by our civilization’s most vocal moral sources – the universities, the media, celebrity culture. No longer is it required to perform the disfigurement in the dark; instead it is a virtue to do it as openly as possible, with vast evidence proudly recorded to support career advancement and personal prestige.
Neither Hugo nor Rand could have imagined such horrors. A gaping mouth in perpetual laughter seems indeed almost comforting by comparison.
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