Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.Abbie [Abbott] Hoffman (1936-1989)
I couldn’t agree more with the aforementioned quote. It is an a priori way of describing the “Overton Window,” which Glenn restates in a different way:
Whether a society is truly free is determined by how it treats its dissidents, those who live and speak and think outside of permissible lines, those who effectively subvert ruling class aims. If you want to know whether free speech is genuine or illusory, look not to the treatment of those who loyally serve establishment factions and vocally affirm their most sacred pieties, but to the fate of those who reside outside of those factions and work in opposition to them. If you want to know whether a free press is authentically guaranteed, look at the plight of those who publish secrets designed not to propagandize the population to venerate elites but, instead, those whose publications result in generating mass discontent against them.Glenn Greenwald
Psychologically, it also is a useful construct to understand the C. G. Jung’s concept of a complex. In many ways, a complex is a “sacred cow” inasmuch as it has an unconscious feeling tone to it that will provoke a violent (not necessarily physical) response if someone starts poking at it [say a Jungian analyst, a spouse, sibling, etc.]. This is where the gold is in Jungian analysis: identifying a psyche’s “sacred cows” and unpacking them. It is in the unpacking of these feelings that one actually individuates: by bringing them out of the unconscious and into consciousness.
I bring up the preceding paragraph as complexes aren’t just for breakfast [individuals]: Societies have cultural complexes too! And how do we find those cultural complexes? By poking at sacred cows and watching the response. In the quote above Glenn is talking in particular about how the US has violently gone after Julian Assange for making tasty hamburger out of a US “sacred cow” of national security. While we pretend to have a “free society” and 1st amendment rights that are sacred, the reality is that we are persecuting a non-citizen under our laws that person has no fealty to, real or imagined. Can you imagine the uproar that would occur if a US Citizen was imprisoned in a third country’s toughest prison at the behest of say, Russia?
Anywho, I like this quote as it makes me reflect on what my own sacred cows are…and face up to the fact I might have to eat my own hamburger!