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May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:50 PM * 317 comments

Is dead.

In the grand tradition of Your Homework Done For Free, MSNBC used information from a parody site in their on-air obituary.

Details, and video, at Crooks and Liars.

Comments on Jerry Falwell:
#1 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 11:01 PM:

(Stealing) I try to speak only good of the dead. Falwell is dead. That's good.

#2 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 11:23 PM:

MSNBC would never have made that mistake in researching Anna Nicole Smith. (Would they?)

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2007, 11:39 PM:

Falwell was a class act even as a 25 year old:

"[I]f Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God's word and had desired to do the Lord's will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made ... The facilities [for the races] should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line."

Good riddance.

#4 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:02 AM:

I'm taking flak on a listserve I belong to for being happy that the bastard's dead! Can you believe it?

Weird.

These aren't even people who thought Falwell was a good man.

#5 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:11 AM:

Xopher, you should check out the thread at Pandagon. Admittedly, only three trolls at last count, but one is too many.

#6 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:13 AM:

Falwell: Global Warming was cooked up by Satan to delude christians.

#7 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:30 AM:

Here's a meme (in the original sense) to keep alive in his honor:

Fundamentalist cleric Jerry Falwell died today, age 73.

#8 ::: jmnlman ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:33 AM:

"I do question the sincerity and non-violent intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations."
Jerry Falwell on the civil rights movement.

#9 ::: jmnlman ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:35 AM:

And of course the big one.

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen."
Jerry Falwell on 9/11.

#10 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:39 AM:

To echo the sentiments of many others, good riddance to bad rubbish. Now if only the media would stop trying to be balanced and call him out as the force for evil that he was.

#11 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:45 AM:

My first thought echoed #1.

My second thought: "...Not Fred Phelps? Damn."

I know, I know. I'm not a nice person.

#13 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:21 AM:

Here are some other prize quotes, collected by a newspaper-columnist friend of mine:

"I listen to feminists and all these radical gals - most of them are failures. They've blown it. Some of them have been married, but they married some Casper Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That's all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it and they're mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They're sexist. They hate men - that's their problem."

(Wow. I don't think I'd ever realized before that Falwell was a rape advocate, but I suppose it fits with the rest of his positions well enough.)

"The ACLU is to Christians what the American Nazi party is to Jews."

"If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being."

I suggest a bit of quiet warfare on our parts: anywhere we see Falwell's praises being sung, insert these quotes, and any others that people feel like digging up as well. In the interests of "fair and balanced coverage," let's make sure that Falwell gets remembered for everything he did.

#14 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:38 AM:

Why in the name of anything at all that's truly holy should any human being with respect for human decency be anything but glad that that sanctimonious turd is dead? There should be dancing in the streets, and offerings given to any deity who helped out with the eviction notice.

He made it his vocation to try to rip the fabric of American society apart in order to redo it in his own image, and we owe him nothing but disgust and contempt for that.

And Nicole? I am a nice person. Imagine what I might have said were I not.

#15 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:10 AM:

I find myself hoping that when he arrived in Heaven, he was greeted by gays, feminists, pagans, Democrats, etc.

#16 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:18 AM:

I hope he was greeted by an Old Testament Yaweh, who was really pissed at Falwell.

Quite possibly the best writing H G Wells ever did was in a short story about the (almost) Christian Judgement Day, in which God raises you up to his face so He can whisper all the truly embarrassing things you did in your life into your ear.

#17 ::: Alan P. Scott ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:24 AM:

By the way... kudos to Teresa for presciently linking (in Particles on May 14) to Youtube video by the savagely funny musician Roy Zimmerman - whose oeuvre includes the scathing "Jerry Falwell's God"!

#18 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:45 AM:

I wonder who else besides Fred Phelps will be around the Falwell funeral?

If you're a terrorist motivated by a non-Christian religion, it might start to look like a target for a decapitation strike.

(And if you're a fundamentalist non-Christian cleric, you're probably praying nobody tries it.)

#19 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 03:07 AM:

You know, I just can't rejoice over someone's death, no matter who they are. Several reasons, I suppose, most important probably, that one of the earliest bits of abstract morality I learned was that you don't do that. Four decades plus later, I still remember that conversation with my mother - vividly.

(Snarkiest reason and the one I'm least proud of? "Rejoicing that someone's dead? It's something Fred Phelps would do.")

So, do I feel sorrow? No. I do feel a certain sense of relief and some little wistfulness that a man with so many gifts made such poor use of them.

However, I can certainly see why many people feel as if a ten ton weight has dropped from their shoulders and hearts and I won't condemn them for it. Not one tiny bit. I have had the blessing of not belonging to one of his target groups in any meaningful way. I will not say that the people who he tried to opress should not rejoice that their opressor is gone.

Lee at 13, Oh, how I approve of what you're saying - truth is so important!

Bruce at 16, I had no idea that H.G. Wells had visited my personal hell. (Purgatory is having to watch the Mr. Bean movie again - all that social embarrassment.)

#20 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 03:10 AM:

The evil little voice in the back of my head has John Denver singing "Forest Lawn", only in the third person... it seems so appropriate.

#21 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 03:30 AM:

The first thing I said when I heard the news was, "I wonder how shocked the good Reverend was when he got into the elevator and it started going *down* instead of *up*."

#22 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 04:29 AM:

Lee @ 13: Or perhaps a watch and a golden retriever?

#23 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:05 AM:

My first reaction was, well, now he knows whether he was right or not. I wonder what, if anything, he experienced?

My second was, may God have mercy on him, as may He on all of us. I don't think I've done the damage to society that he has (though I am still young and not dead - there's still time!), but I'd hate to find that there was a line beyond which mercy did not apply.

Like Margaret, I try not to rejoice at death, even the death of someone who has done such profound harm. Nor am I glad that he is no longer doing that harm, because his ghost may still haunt America for some time.

I do understand, however, how others may differ from my views.

Requiescat in pace.

#24 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:39 AM:

My favourite blog post on the subject so far is from James Wolcott: Tinky Winky Wave Bye Bye

#25 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:55 AM:

I am reminded of an article from The Onion, titled Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell.

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:31 AM:

abi @ 23... I don't think I've done the damage to society that he has (though I am still young and not dead - there's still time!), but I'd hate to find that there was a line beyond which mercy did not apply.

Isn't there such a line, in the minds of Falwell's ilk? You can be the most moral and the kindest person on Earth, but, if you were a man who loved men, or a woman who loved women, or if you loved freedom of speech more than you loved burning books you disapprove of, or if you believe in beings other than God, or if you believe in no Supreme Being, you know where you'll wind up. (Ever seen the Twilight Zone's 1986 episode Dead Run, based on a Greg Bear story?)

Oh, and by the way, abi, you've made the world a better place, not worse.

#27 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:44 AM:

Serge,

As I said, I'm still young, and not dead yet. There is still time to turn to the Dark Side.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:47 AM:

abi @ 27... No effing way. Never.

#29 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:51 AM:

i'm in Ur Lake Of Fire, Fleeing Ur Doodz

#30 ::: harmonyfb ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:51 AM:

I'm sure Mr. Falwell's family is mourning - there are few so evil that no one loves them, after all. I hope that his children and/or grandchildren find comfort in their faith.

But I can feel nothing but relief and hope at the news that such an evil, hate-filled little man is dead. Hope that his evil died with him, relief that he is no longer around to sway others to hatred.

I try very hard not to rejoice in the death of any human being (though I have done it - Pol Pot and Idi Amin, I'm looking at you), because I really think it makes me no better than they to act in such a manner.

Still, to my shame, my heart is lighter this morning.

#31 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:31 AM:

Jerry Falwell died a wealthy man who was never brought to justice for his evil.

So, am I sorry he's dead? Yes, because he died too soon.

#32 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:37 AM:

Did Falwell wield any real influence anymore? I don't even remember what he looks like.

#33 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:51 AM:

abi @ 27... There is still time to turn to the Dark Side.

Simply avoid creepy old men with bad teeth who keeping going on about this or that being your Destiny.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:52 AM:

abi @ 27... There is still time to turn to the Dark Side.

Simply avoid creepy old men with bad teeth who keeping going on about this or that being your Destiny.

#35 ::: Andrea ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 08:15 AM:

I saw the story in this morning's Toronto Star--and no fears that they're being too balanced there. They hit all the big quotes, and talked to at least one organization that had nothing nice to say about him.

http://www.thestar.com/News/article/214305

#36 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 08:26 AM:

It kind of makes me glad to think that right now he's very surprised.

But I have to agree with this livejournal post; the Christian right isn't one person, it's a lot of people, and they'll find other people to tell them to believe odious things.

#37 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 08:35 AM:

#36: Oh, yes. Falwell, in Circle 8, Bolgia 3 (Simonaics), is awaiting Robertson and Dobson. A better Dante scholar than me needs to write the appropriate verse.

#38 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:05 AM:

abi--

I concur. We can hate the man's actions, hate his words, and hate what he stood for.

But we can do it without adopting his gleeful lack of mercy and his joyous resignation of others to hellfire and damnation.

Sarah

#39 ::: Nic_C ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:15 AM:

Sarah @ 38:

So... love the sinner, hate the sin? *g*

#41 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:29 AM:

I have to say the most amusing (not to mention vitriolic) commentary I've heard on the passing of this particular gas-bag was from Christopher Hitchens on Anderson Cooper last night. I presume somebody has the video somewhere. Sheesh. Talk about being flamed...

#42 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:29 AM:

Serge @ 26

I don't know anything about Falwell's personal theology, even whether he had one or not, but I do know that a significant segment of the Fundamentalist Christian population believes in the Calvinist notion that whether you are damned or saved is inherent in you from birth, decided by God long before. This, of course, gives them license to do anything they want to those who are damned, since nothing can change that.* I've always thought this was a very strange perversion of Christianity.

* Somehow they manage to ignore the point that they have no evidence that they're among the Saved. The logic seems to be that if you act like one, you must be one.

#43 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:36 AM:

Nic C #39

Goodness, no! I feel no compulsion to love, like, respect, listen to, or otherwise tolerate Falwell or his ilk.

I just try to despise them without *becoming* them.

(insert some quote about monsters and abysses...abbesses?...abyssim? here)

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 42... I love this kind of theology. Not.

#45 ::: Dorothy Rothschild ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Jon @ 37: I make no claims to being a Dante scholar, but it's a slow day at work, so here ya go:

In one pit, reeking with self-righteousness,
I found a new arrival, soles aflame.
He stank of sanctimony; waves of smugness

Wafted (with disturbing lack of shame)
And blocked my nose. 'Tell me,' I choked through tears,
'Who are you, punished here? What is your name?'

'Falwell,' intoned the voice into my ears,
'Who should be king among the saved in heaven!
My enemies brought me low. Pagans and queers

told lies upon lies, seven times seven.
Those feminists (and -- but of course -- the Jews),
Not being pleased enough with 9/11,

Forcing themselves into the nightly news
So that their loathesome blasphemies are told
Like unto running sores that weep and ooze,

Condemned me when 'tis I alone who hold
the right to judge. They will be damned together!
They, THEY will someday suffer sevenfold!'

Removing from my cloak a dainty feather,
I tickled Falwell's feet, and so his howl
Followed me and Virgil through the nether.

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:51 AM:

Sarah S @ 43... Coming soon, James Cameron's The Abbess...

"Get thee to a gunnery."

#47 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:52 AM:

abi, Margaret, Sarah,

Please realize that those of us dancing in the aisles may not agree with you, but we (well, I at least) admire the strength it must take to extend your definition of humanity even to this one.

I've come to believe that no matter how great and varied the potential of a person may be at the beginning of life, there are some paths that, once taken, cannot be retraced, that some outcomes cannot be undone, and that at some point, the sinner and the sin* can become part of one thing. And we who remain on the this side of the darkness have to to find a way to deal with those people who willfully pass over into it.** If it takes rejoicing in their downfall to keep us motivated in resisting them, so be it.

* I'm using the term 'sin' for rhetorical reasons; it's not one I find has much meaning in my own view of things.

** The only reasonable definition of 'evil' I've ever found is 'the act of consciously, intentionally, or negligently causing harm to others, with no intention of redress or restitution." There are a lot of things that make the evil greater: taking pleasure in the harm done, or causing harm for its own sake, for instance, but, see Hanah Arendt, sometimes the greatest evil is characterized by causing great harm for trivial ends.

#48 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:56 AM:

Bruce Cohen #16:I hope he was greeted by an Old Testament Yaweh, who was really pissed at Falwell.

No hell in the Old Testament, and iirc, it's pretty vague even in the New.

From what I've heard, Falwell was a rather nice guy in person. I hope he's given a detailed overview of the effects of what he's recommended. From the point of view of the people who's suffering he's contributed to.

I may be one of the very few who are ambivalent about his death. He'd become such a bad example, and I believe more and more people were getting revolted by his views.

#49 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:03 AM:

You have to see Christopher Hitchens's take on the late Rev, in an interview on CNN. He's not having any of this nil nisi bonum stuff.

#50 ::: Peter ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:20 AM:

Falwell also managed to blame 911 on gays and feminists.

Between the time that the owners of the Teletubbies sent a cease&desist to walmart, and filing a lawsuit, Falwell stepped in to start the Tinky Winky is gay slander campaign. At that time, walmart was selling counterfeit Teletubbies, called "Bubbly Chubbies" that they had designed and contracted to be made in China.

#51 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Had roast pork last night to celebrate outliving a horrible, indeed loathsome, person and categorical enemy. My only regret is he didn’t go slowly, painfully, alone & universally disgraced.

My hope is his legacy will be his tens of thousands of sheeple followers miserably trying to someday explain to their more enlightened children & grandchildren how they could have followed such an awful person and his creed.

Jerry Falwall was an object lesson in hypocrisy, venality, and demagoguery.

#52 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Bravo, Dorothy!

When I heard the news of Falwell's death, the words that popped out of my mouth unbidden were "Oh, good!" That may have been a sin, but I'm not going to compound it by claiming that I had a more seemly reaction.

I admire people who achieve seemly reactions on their very first try.

#53 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:42 AM:

Is it too much to hope that Margaret Thatcher will follow him?

(Sorry.)

I am deeply annoyed that he didn't get exactly what he deserved prior to his demise -- but then, so few of us do.

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:44 AM:

I wonder what happened when he got to the pearly gates and found out that God isn't a white male heterosexual Christian(ist). I can see another heart attack on the spot. Followed by a departure for someplace much warmer.

My regret is that his death was much more merciful than the one he seemed to desire for those with whom he disagreed.

#55 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:47 AM:

Teresa,

You have to remember I've been out of the US for 14 years now. It's a lot more theoretical for me, a lot less in my face. And rejoicing in death just isn't my particular bent.

My failings lie elsewhere, and I will not confess them here.

#56 ::: Dorothy Rothschild ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:48 AM:

Charlie @53: given that the Falwell death caused my LJ friends-list to burst out in a veritable chorus of 'Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead', I think the immediate demise of Thatcher would cause me to go deaf.

#57 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:49 AM:

The impression I got on NPR this morning is that even those who agreed with his views had started to find him embarrassing.

My first reaction to his death was the uncharitable thought that it came at a point where he no longer wielded any real influence on the American Christian Conservative Movement. Perhaps I can rescue it with: What a shame that when he had considerable power to improve people's lives, he didn't.

I realize this all sounds very Spiderman. Obviously, as his life shows, despite having the means, he wasn't under any obligation to make the world a better place. No one is forced to. People do choose to for all sorts of reasons though. So I'm not condemning him. It's just that, in this case, it's a little sad.

(Imagine, for example, if he had said in the '80s that it is the right and Christian thing to do to take care of our poor, or to make sure everyone has access to competent, affordable health care?)

To drop several levels of importance, it's like listening to your public radio station all the time, having the means to contribute, then not contributing. You don't have to. Chances are really good the station will survive without your contribution, but it's just a little sad.

Also, it's totally possible that he honestly thought he was making the world a better place by systematically marginalizing those who didn't look or think like him. If so, it's too bad that he didn't take a look every once in a while to see how he well he was (or wasn't) doing on that whole world improvement thing.

#58 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:52 AM:

Teresa @ 52 -- my reaction was word-for-word the same. I felt guilty, but not too guilty.

Our toast over dinner yesterday evening was "To Jerry Falwell -- may he meet God."

And as I wrote to my mother, after a few minutes' reflection, "May he experience true forgiveness." It's what I hope for myself, so I can't really hope Falwell gets anything different.

#59 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 11:36 AM:

It simply wasn't soon enough.

#60 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:20 PM:

#27 abi: As I said, I'm still young, and not dead yet. There is still time to turn to the Dark Side.

#28 Serge: No effing way. Never.

Serge, don't tempt fate! The better you are, the worse you get once your eyeballs change to a sinister color. Dark Abi's not a force I want to face.

If this sort of story-logic applied out in the world, then Falwell must have been a very, very good person sometime before he turned. Perhaps as a toddler.

#61 ::: Laurie D. T. Mann ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:43 PM:

While Falwell had lost some amount of influence in the country as a whole, the students at his "Liberty" University still seem very much in his vest pocket.

Falwell was nothing more than a mullah in a badly-fitting Western suit.

There was an almost "fair and balanced" obit of him in a legitimate newspaper - the Times (UK):

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article1795451.ece

#62 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 12:59 PM:

One of my friends says that Falwell's death was typically reported as "Falwell is dead" rather than the more usual "X has died", and that this is a rather subtle way of being pleased. Has anyone noticed the difference of phrasing and if so, what do you think it means?

#63 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:00 PM:

I like how often it's thrown in that he was a "little man". It's still an insult that stings, somehow, however it's read.

#64 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:17 PM:

My feeling is pretty straightforward: the death of Falwell raises the decency quotient of the human race.

I respect the views of those who don't want to speak ill of the dead (since the dead can't reply), though I would ask them what they said on the death of Pol Pot (no, I'm not comparing Falwell to Pol Pot, just asking about the principle).

#65 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Will A #60: I have no doubt that Abi will be like Galadriel.

#66 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Nancy @62, I think your friend is full of it. Here are the headlines from the NY Times obituary page today:

  • Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority Founder, Dies at 73
  • Yolanda Denise King, Daughter of Rights Leader, Dies at 51
  • Thomas Curry, 74, Officer Hit in Infamous Shooting, Dies
  • Robert S. Oelman, 97, Chief Who Led NCR to Automation, Dies
  • Kate Webb, War Correspondent, Dies at 64
  • William Becker, 85, Creator of Concept of Motel 6 Chain, Dies
  • Stanley Holden, 79, a Dancer and Prominent Ballet Teacher, Is Dead
  • Bernard Gordon, Screenwriter, Dies at 88
  • King Malietoa Tanumafili II of Samoa Dies at 94
  • John K. Lattimer, Urologist of Varied Expertise, Dies at 92
  • Leonard Eron, 87, Is Dead; Researcher on TV's Tie to Violent Conduct
  • Alfred D. Chandler Jr., a Business Historian, Dies at 88
  • Lesley Blanch, 102, a Writer and Traveler, Dies

All but two say "dies". The two that say "is dead" are both of people who were pretty obscure to be the focus of media bias.

The other newspapers I've looked at (Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsday) just give names and descriptions in their obituary headlines.

#67 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:32 PM:

He will be judged by his own vision of the Deus, as we each confront our own visions of what lies beyond the world at the end [1].

May his family and friends find peace with their grief. My sympathies go out to them at this time, for it cannot be easy for them. It's never pleasant to know someone you truly loved was disliked by the greater number of people who knew them, or knew of them[2]. May they be granted a measure of peace.

I find I hope his next life is happier than the past one must have been. It can't be pleasant to carry around so much hatred for others.

[1] Personal belief. No guarantees given that this will prove to be accurate, as so far, I appear to be immortal.
[2] Certainly my grandfather didn't enjoy his mother's funeral, particularly when all her grandchildren were swapping stories of what a cast-iron bitch she'd been during her lifetime.

#68 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Fragano @ 64

I guess the more mature and enlightened attitude to have on the death of someone like Pol Pot is, "Good thing he's gone and can't do any more damage; too bad he couldn't have been a decent human being". Maybe after a few more lifetimes I'll be that mature; it's not something I can muster when needed this time around.

Ever have to stomp a scorpion to keep it from stinging you? The relief at not having to undergo the resultant pain usually comes out in odd ways like "Serves you right, you evil little invertebrate!", when you know very well the scorpion is only doing what it's evolved to do. My reaaction to Falwell is a lot like that.

#69 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #68: The last time I stomped a scorpion to death it had already stung me (that taught me to shake out my shoes before putting them on).

The best I can say of Falwell is that I am no more happy at his death than I would be at the death of Robert Mugabe.

#70 ::: Dorothy Rothschild ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 01:56 PM:

Avram @66 - I have to say I feel kinda sad about the death of the guy who started the Motel 6 chains. I have very fond memories of those, thanks to most of my vacations up to the age of 17 consisting of 'waking up real early and driving, stopping only occasionally'. Saw a hell of a lot of America that way, even if the accommodation all looked alike.

#71 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:01 PM:

#18 - David Bell, that's a fascinating idea... Actually, it's non-occurence is likely to be further proof of an observable assymetry: liberals are at some physical danger from some conservatives but there are very, very few documented cases of conservatives done to death by enraged liberals. I wonder why that is...

#72 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:16 PM:

I feel a bit like Auntie Em, at the moment, so I'll just quote a bit from the Toronto Star article:

Former president Jimmy Carter once said Falwell "in a very Christian way ... can go to hell."

I do think, apart from the ingrained teachings which keep me from rejoicing at my enemy's pain, that it's good to be reminded that evil men die in every generation, and are replaced in the next (although with new and different details).

#73 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Also, possibly, the coincident death of Yolanda King might be take as an opportunity to compare and contrast.

(Going now to see if I can wash off the passive voice).

#74 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Avram, 66: Stanley Holden died? Damn. Another great I'll never get to meet.

#75 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Avram, 66: Stanley Holden died? Damn. Another great I'll never get to meet.

#76 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Rats, sorry!

#77 ::: Betty ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 03:08 PM:

I made celebratory dead-patriarch cheesecake. It is delicious.

#78 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 04:31 PM:

A couple random responses...
(1) The correct phrase to use for Falwell and his ilk is "radical cleric", no?
(2) I believe that #42 is a misunderstanding of Calvinist doctrine. It's not that you're saved or damned regardless of your actions and beliefs. You are free to do what you like and you are judged accordingly. It's just that any omniscience worth its salt includes perfect knowledge of the future. Maybe you don't know what kinds of sins you'll commit over the course of your life, but an omniscient being does.

#79 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:42 PM:

Matt, #78: A difference which makes no difference is no difference.

#80 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 05:58 PM:

He so politicized and poisoned the Church that there are congregations who refuse to clothe the naked, cure the sick, succor the weak, shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, etc, for fear that they will be called "liberals."

#81 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:05 PM:

Fragano @65
Does that mean I get to do the "All will love me and despair" bit? I love that speech.

But I'm not sure I'm Galadriel-scale. I think the best I get is "many will like me and be mildly glum".

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Abi #81: I think you underestimate yourself. And yes, you do get to do that bit.

#83 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:20 PM:

Robert @ 80

Some churches may fear being called liberal for doing the right thing, but some won't do the right thing because he convinced them that money and power were more important in the Greater Scheme of Things. (When you get shown the cities of the world, and offered power over them, you're supposed to say 'no', and Falwell and Cheney and Rove didn't. 'By their works you shall know them.')

#84 ::: Matthew ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:33 PM:

@#13, (also #3 and #8) in the interest of remembering everything he said (and did), he did change his mind on the issue of racial equality. He was one of the first white ministers to baptize and welcome black congregants. He is still an evil, dried up old turd, but he was willing to admit he was wrong on race, something my grandparents never did.

@78, re (2), that sounds more like Arminianism. They believe that to be saved, a person must have faith. A person can turn down salvation through their lack of faith (and the lack of faith can be shown by a person's actions)

Calvinists believe the people God picks to be saved will eventually have faith, they have no option to turn it down. Faith isn't a condition of salvation, its handed out by God as a means to be saved. No action can make someone elect or make them unelect. Their actions/belief are caused by their status of saved or not. (See "unconditional election" and "irresistible grace").

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 06:35 PM:

abi... "many will like me and be mildly glum"

That sounds like something from the low-budget version of LoTR.

"Sorry, dear, but we've got funds just for one ring and one nazgul."

#86 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:01 PM:

"Aren't those hobbits a little tall?"

"You're right. Guys, can you slouch down a bit more?"

#87 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:07 PM:

Oddly enough, I wasn't joyful, nor was I sad.

I couldn't, at first think of anything to say.

For irony, he had recently said he expected to be around for some time yet, as he had been praying to God for another 20 years to do His work.

Perhaps his prayer was answered.

I do think his ending is Shakespearean, in that the Evil men do lives after them, while the good is oft interred with their bones.

His embrace of blacks is going to be forgotten, and his continued questioning of the motives of those who were for civil rights will be cradled to the bosom of those who don't want to accept them as equals.

He did more than any other I can think of to make the present return to active religiosity in the public sphere, and his flavor of it is repellant.

But he's gonna be shocked, St. Peter is a Catholic. :)

More, as any impression of God I can keep is one whose love and mercy passeth all understanding, Falwell will be allowed into heaven.

If he can see it for heaven, for I can't really see any denied the presence of God, unless they deny it, so his fellow souls may cause him to think he is someplace else.

How violently he feels this may be the difference between Purgatory and Hell.

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:08 PM:

"What about Gollum?"
"Use a sock puppet."

#89 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:14 PM:

"Ysss, Prcs..."
"What's wrong with Gollum's dialogue?"
"He's been disemvowelled."
"Why?"
"Teresa doesn't like sock puppets."

#90 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:18 PM:

"What about the Riders of Rohan?"
"Borrow Susan's collection of My Little Poneys. Know anybody who has Cabbage Patch Dolls?"

#91 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:43 PM:

"We've got the Lothlorien set together now. As soon as the extras arrive, we can start the scene."
"Hush. I'm on the phone."
"Right. But you should probably know there's some guy in white spangles and a huge collar wandering around the set singing about hound dogs."
"I know. I know...Hello! Is that Central casting? I said wanted elves. E...L...V...E...S. No, not IS. ES. Lots of them. In green. Pointy ears. Bows and arrows. What? No refunds? This is outrageous! Hello? Hello?"
"Hung up on you, did they?"
"Yeah."
"Look at the bright side."
"What?"
"The Return of the King will practically film itself."

#92 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Omniscience is nice, but Omnipotence is the best of the Three Big O's. With Omnipotence, you can grant yourself the other two O's, or even create a rock so heavy you can't lift it, then change the rules of the universe so that you can lift it, then change the rules back to the way they were. It's a great paradox resolver. heh.

#93 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:50 PM:
For irony, he had recently said he expected to be around for some time yet, as he had been praying to God for another 20 years to do His work.

Perhaps his prayer was answered.

"God answers every prayer. Sometimes, the answer is 'No.'"


I have blogged. I am most thankful to this thread and Slacktivist's for giving me a maze of twisty passages, none alike, to enrich the bloggage. And I have attempted to perpetuate Andrew Plotkin's meme therein.

#94 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:52 PM:

abi at #89,

Splutter!

#95 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 07:57 PM:

Oh by the way, today on the radio:

All Things Considered, May 16, 2007 · David Kuo, the former deputy director of the office of faith-based community initiatives in the Bush administration, says that the Rev. Jerry Falwell's most enduring and most troubling legacy is that he almost single-handedly blurred the line between Christianity and conservative politics — to the detriment of both. Kuo is the author of Tempting Faith.

#96 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 08:07 PM:

You win, abi. Again, I am beaten by a girl. Oh, the shame, oh, the humiliation...

#97 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 08:13 PM:

Beautiful and terrible as the dawn. Elvis serves her. All dispair.

#98 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 08:13 PM:

Beautiful and terrible as the dawn. Elvis serves her. All dispair.

#99 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Oh who is that short sinner with the pudgy little face?
And what has he been after, that his end is in disgrace?
And wherefore is eternity, to which he'll relocate?
Oh, they're taking him to Hades for the fervor of his hate.

'Tis a shame to christianity, such awful hate as his,
Hating gays and civil liberties and women who use 'Ms.,'
Blaming victims for September, thinking schools should segregate.
Oh the fascist and abominable vigor of his hate.

Quite a deal of pains he'd taken to keep folk from getting laid,
Finding Tinky Winky suspect for his purple-colored shade,
Thinking AIDS the wrathful vengeance of a god always irate.
Maybe now he'll face some justice for the violence of his hate.

I do wonder what awaits him, buried under several feet.
Could be demons will torment him in the cold and in the heat.
Maybe nothingness surrounds him, and with time to ruminate
He can curse the god he dreamed up in the passions of his hate.

#100 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 08:19 PM:

Abi at #89:
Oh, isn't that just Prrccsssss!

#101 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 08:39 PM:

Abi #s89 & 91: This is one film I definitely would love to see.

#102 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:06 PM:

Let us also not forget that in 1985, after a visit to South Africa, Falwell urged his flock to buy Krugerrands to support the South African pigmentocracy.

(Which, at the time, was using the full powers of a police state to clamp down on the anti-apartheid movement, while assuring foreign audiences that the very word "apartheid" was passé and of course political reform would be coming Real Soon Now.)

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:26 PM:

Fragano @ 101... Maybe they could get Bruce Campbell. He is quite acquainted with fantasy, and he once played the King in Bubba O Tep (with Ossie Davis playing John Kennedy).

#104 ::: Emma Anne ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:53 PM:

I can see that is is bad taste to rejoice in the death of another, but why is it morally wrong? I'm not seeing it.

(I smiled the day Milosovich died, myself)

#105 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 09:55 PM:

I just heard on PBS that when Pope Paul IV (founder of the Inquisition) died, Romans rioted in the streets in celebration, trashed the offices of the Inquisition, and dumped the Popehole's statue in the river.

#106 ::: Jonathan Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:01 PM:

I found myself dissatisfied by Falwell's death. So many of his moral peers are still alive and doing such harm that the loss of his life hardly seems something of substance. When his ideology is dead, or at least pushed back into the crevices of our world, then perhaps I will feel that something good has happened.

#107 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:48 PM:

abi, #81: "many will like me and be mildly glum"
You owe me a new keyboard!

Matthew, #84: My comment at #79 applies here as well. You're talking about the equivalent of a flowchart decision box from which both branches immediately reconverge.

Terry, #87: For irony, he had recently said he expected to be around for some time yet, as he had been praying to God for another 20 years to do His work.
Y'know, if I were the sort of person who believed in God-directed omens...
One does wonder how the people who do believe in God-directed omens can get so many events which (if one is of that mindset) are VERY CLEAR messages that God is Not Happy With You, and still utterly fail to take the point.

abi, #91: Tom Smith beat you to that joke about 15 years ago. Still funny, though!

Emma, #104: It's only morally wrong if you're a Christian yourself (or a follower of some other faith which specifically says so). Not that this has ever been known to stop Mssrs. Falwell & Robertson, or any of their followers.

#108 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 11:43 PM:

When I heard that Falwell was dead, my first reaction was a mixture of relief and glee. My next thought was, "Uh oh, girl, you just added bigtime to whatever time in Purgatory you've already racked up."

But I am glad he's dead -- "he" being the Jerry Falwell persona who has been such a nexus of hate and viciousness and ugliness for so long. I don't mourn that persona, and I won't pray for him. But somewhere in the unknown and unknowable state between here and there is a lost, frightened being who was once the human Jerry Falwell, naked before his God, as I will be too, one day. Him I can pray for.

#109 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 11:55 PM:

#95. I really liked Kuo's commentary. Worth listening to.

#110 ::: Matthew ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:09 AM:

Lee @107, not sure what you are flow charting... The difference between the two is choice. In the first example, salvation is dependant on two things: God, and your faith (which is optional). In the second example, salvation is dependant only on God.

#111 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 01:05 AM:

I just read on Shakesville that Fred Phelps and his flock are planning to picket Jerry Falwell's funeral.

*jaw dropping*

#112 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 01:35 AM:

Who said it: Hilter or Falwell?

Take the Quiz!

#113 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 01:47 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 112... Hilter? Have you been channeling Monty Python's Flying Circus again? Anyway, this reminds me of the joke about Pat Buchanan.

"Did you you know that Pat Buchanan's father died in a concentration camp?"
"Really?"
"Really. He fell off his guard tower."

What's with Pat these days? (On second thought, forget I asked.)

#114 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 02:42 AM:

abi @ 89, 91, et al

The only reason you don't owe me a new keyboard is that, while susceptible to coffee, it is imprevious to pretzels. On the other hand, the screen is a mess.

#115 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 02:51 AM:

Lee @ 107

It's only morally wrong if you're a Christian yourself

Although I wasn't terribly clear about it, this is why I said, essentially, that for me it was a matter of spiritual enlightenment. Not being a Christian myself, the moral aspect actually didn't occur to me.

It's not so much that I'm any sort of practicing Buddhist as that I'm a follower of archy.

#116 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:19 AM:

Serge @ 103

Much as I love "Bubba Hotep", I think Bruce Campbell is overkill for the low budget version of LOTR*. This should be made as a fanflick, like "Star Wreck". That way we can really have abi play Galadriel. I believe a budget of $11.98 should be sufficient, unless we, like, actually have to pay somebody.

* I'm talking really low-rent here. All we can afford is a naz.

#117 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:29 AM:

I submitted a comment a little while ago, and just realized it must have had a very bogus url in it. Here's what it should have been:

Lee @ 107

It's only morally wrong if you're a Christian yourself

Which is why I said before that it was a matter of spiritual enlightenment for me, as in "many more lifetimes to go." Not being a Christian, the moral aspect didn't occur to me.

Not that I'm any sort of practicing Buddhist as that I'm a follower of archy

#118 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:49 AM:

Lee @107
Actually, I was so busy stealing the first half of that joke from a British Yellow Pages ad (one man shows up in green to a party filled with people dressed as Elvis, says defensively, "Well, my invite clearly said elves!"), I didn't research whether any else had done the Return of that particular King.

#119 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:53 AM:

Matthew, #110: I may have become confused trying to track the conversation back thru the comments. My point is that as long as you're ultimately talking about predestination, it doesn't matter what the details are. If you were talking about something else, then I withdraw my comment.

#120 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 07:57 AM:

Serge #103: Another film to look for!

#121 ::: L.S. Baird ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 09:44 AM:

I told my partner that I read he had died, and that I had to admit that my first thought wasn't charitable.

she said, "My second and third thoughts weren't charitable, either."

When a man has condemned all you are and encourages others to do the same, and then wraps his bigoted opinion up in so called holy writ, it's hard not to be a little glad he isn't able to bellow his ignorance and hatred anymore. In the end we both agreed that it's a good thing we're not in charge of the afterlife.

'Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.'
'Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.'


('All right then,' said Frodo, 'But I still would like to give the asshole a good punch in the teeth.'
'Well,' Gandalf agreed, 'In that case, I'd be glad to give you a boost.')

#122 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 09:59 AM:

Fragano @ 119... Actually, the premise Based on a story by Joe Lansdale) of Bubba O Tep was funnier than the actual film. I mean, a story about an old-folks home where one person says he's Elvis, an old black man maintains he himself is John Kennedy, and that there is a soul-sucking mummy in the basement, and it all turns to be true...

#123 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:34 AM:

'All right then,' said Frodo, 'But I still would like to give the asshole a good punch in the teeth'.

-- Shepherd, isn't the Bible kind of specific about killing?

-- Very specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzy around the area of kneecaps.

#125 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 10:55 AM:

This discussion is certainly getting interesting! Particular kudos to abi -- and the ones who egged her on -- for the funny bits. (But if you rile her, is the result Nightmare Abi?)

As for Falwell, when I stomp the occasional bug in my kitchen, I inwardly declare "May you go to a better place." Not sure I could wish that for him, without a lot of karmic scrubbing first.

#126 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Faren @ 124... Nightmare Abi? Somebody call Doctor Strange, quick!

#127 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:19 AM:

Faren @124
It was a fun collaboration. I don't think I've ever ended up in keyboard debt before.

But if you rile her, is the result Nightmare Abi?
No. The last time I was really, really angry - about a year and a half ago - I just got very, very quiet and very, very still. Somehow the precise, careful way I phrased my deliberately innocuously comments was a little alarming.

Confirmed grumps came by to have their usual rants, took one look at me, and walked away.

But seriously. Overall, I think that this is the best way to deal with this matter. If we are alive so long as we are remembered, let's forget him. If he spread hate, let's laugh instead.

#128 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Lee@107: Tom Smith beat you to that joke about 15 years ago

What we have here is melancholy elephants

#129 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:31 PM:

Isn't the proper Latin plural of Elvis actually Elves?

That leads to such a trainwreck of mental images that I'm not sure I can even begin to describe them.

#130 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:44 PM:

Serge #121: I'll take your word for it.

#131 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:52 PM:

Fragano @ 129... Trust me on that one. (Yes, Tania, in spite of my liking Wing Commander.)

#132 ::: WordMan ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 01:29 PM:

#87 you said, "But he's gonna be shocked, St. Peter is a Catholic. :"

Not half as shocked as he's gonna be when he finds out Jesus is a dark-skinned, Jew.

#133 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 02:04 PM:

And, WordMan @131, since there were those undocumented years between childhood, death and resurrection, and since there was no recorded marriage and only rumors about a liaison with Mary Magdalene (hush, Yvonne Elliman!)...

(This possibly blasphemous thought brought to you by Folgers coffee.)

#134 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 02:31 PM:

And this Pagan/Buddhist will lapse into the King James Version:

"In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you..."

That said, I can't say I'm sorry he's gone. If that makes me a bad person, I'm sure I'll eventually pay the karmic debt.

#135 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 02:32 PM:

And this Pagan/Buddhist will lapse into the King James Version:

"In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you..."

That said, I can't say I'm sorry he's gone. If that makes me a bad person, I'm sure I'll eventually pay the karmic debt.

#136 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 03:31 PM:

Caroline @ 128: Pratchett used a similar line as a running gag in Soul Music: "He looks... Elvish."

#137 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 04:07 PM:

Caroline @128
I always thought it was Elivides, but I can't explain why. Some sort of third declension Greek noun.

#138 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 04:47 PM:

Farren @ #124
My personal mantra when I kill bugs is "Wrong form, try again".

I hope Falwell has 1000 incarnations as a cockroach.

#139 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Faren 124: As for Falwell, when I stomp the occasional bug in my kitchen, I inwardly declare "May you go to a better place."

I just say "Kali Om."

#140 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 06:07 PM:

L.S. Baird @ 120: I don't know what I would do if I were in charge of the afterlife. Probably poll all the poor, queer, and non-white Americans I could find. Or just, as one of my friends suggested, reincarnate him as a poor, queer, non-white American woman like her. (She added that if it meant he was exposed to the forces she'd seen in her own development, Falwell-reincarnate might just be inspired to right his past wrongs.)

It's a very abstract question, though. I'm never going to be in charge of the afterlife, as far as I know.

I do think he's in Hell, for reasons of the afterlife being a product of what you've spent your life thinking about and working towards it being. (This is, I believe, iterated by Terry Pratchett, but I know I've seen it somewhere else, too.) Few have ever donated so much of their energy to the idea of the Christian Hell. Imagine Phelps' surprise... he is one of the others who've done that.

abi @ 89: You win the Internet.

#141 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 06:26 PM:

AJ Luxton @139
Do I have to pay tax on that?

#142 ::: Rick Owens ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Abi @ 140
Yes... in this case, it's a syntax.

#143 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 08:03 PM:

I cannot celebrate the death of another person. I must say that I have split feelings on this: on one hand, I am utterly grateful that he is no longer going to be spewing his message of hate. But I am very sorry that it took death to do it and that he did not learn and repent of his words and actions in his lifetime.

We need the low-budget LOTR. YouTube it!

#144 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 08:45 PM:

I've been feeling kind of disappointed in his death--that is to say, that he never stopped being hateful. As long as he was alive, there was a chance (however slim) that he would repudiate his earlier nastiness. Now, though we don't know whether people change after death or not, we won't get to see him turn around here.

But I'm glad evil men don't live forever.

#145 ::: Emma Anne ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 09:23 PM:

A.J. Luxton @139 -

I conclude that in Discworld, the afterlife is a combination of what you believe and what you deserve. So, yeah, hell. Or purgatory for a good long time, anyway.

#146 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 11:23 PM:

Sisuile @ 142... We need the low-budget LOTR. YouTube it!

Well, there certainly is enough talent in these parts that it could be made. Of course abi would have to play Galadriel. The very idea reminds me of a film adaptation I once saw of Tom Stoppard's Fifteen-minute Hamlet. Yes, think of the whole plot of that play compressed within 15 minutes and acted out by, to put it generously, very amateurish RenFaire players. Then the lights come on in the movie room and Shakespeare himself is beind the projector, and groans when his noble sponsor asks for further cuts. Which result in the 5-minute Hamlet.

#147 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 12:34 AM:

Will A. @ #99: Bravo!

#148 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 01:57 AM:

Serge @ 142:

"And now, we shall perform it ....backwards!"

Ah, the Reduced Shakespeare Company, always taking things one step farther than was really necessary. Highlights include Ophelia un-drowning by spitting water all over the audience, and the ghost of Hamlet's father saying "oob!"

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 09:08 AM:

shadowsong @ 147... For some reason, I had forgotten the part where they did Hamlet backward. I guess I was overwhelmed by the rest of the movie.

(Meanwhile, it'd be interesting to see a worldcon masquerade where one entry would be LoTR in 5 minutes. The logistics would be quite awesome.)

#150 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 09:23 AM:

LoTR in 5 minutes. The logistics would be quite awesome

There was a "Friends" in ?2 minutes? I think, that just had the characters stand in a row saying their lines.

Treebeard could probably be reduced to a big tall guy saying "Baroom" at one point, then "Dont be hasty" a bit later. It would be interesting.

#151 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 10:31 AM:

abi (#126): If he spread hate, let's laugh instead. Excellent advice!

As for the afterlife, though I don't quite believe in it, I think the most effective version would be karmic rehabilitation via a lot more lives, rather than divine retribution -- providing that some hidebound types *can* ever change.

Sidenote on Nightmare Abbey: When I Googled it to check my dim memories of this Thomas Love Peacock novel, it popped up along with his other classic, Crotchet Castle. Sounds just right for the Making Light crowd!

#152 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 10:43 AM:

#149: Treebeard would walk on, say "Don't be hasty", and the rest of the cast would push him off the stage.

#153 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 10:49 AM:

Or, since it's the shortened LoTR, by the time Treebeard makes it to finishing his sentence about being hasty, everybody has already left the stage.

#154 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 01:42 PM:

Like any other extremist icon of either Left or Right, Falwell was not frightening because of who he was, but because of who his followers were. Had nobody paid him any heed, he'd have just been another carnival-barking roadside tent evangelist: small flock, small reach, small influence.

Alas, people like Falwell and Pat Robertson have collected a huge following, in the tens of millions, and it's this massed group which is the greater concern, because the petty anger and fallacies of a single man can be magnified ten-thousand-fold by the actions (and votes) of those who hold that man in high esteem.

Now, most of these people are not bad people. Even Falwell himself was probably not a "bad" guy. Nearly all the terrible things that have been wrought throughout history are the result of people trying to do good; as they see it.

But herein lies the rub, because what one person sees as good, another person sees as being very, very bad. And thus the road to Hell becomes paved with good intentions, and Falwell's legacy as a Christian does tremendous harm to the overall legacy of Christ Himself; at least here in the United States.

Were it that all televangelical protestants ceased and desisted. Jesus doesn't need used car salesmen!

#155 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 04:57 PM:

PublicRadioVet 153: what IS a bad person, then? There may be people out there who are thinking "This will be bad, and cause lots of harm, so I'll do it! Bwahahah!" but I suspect such people are vanishingly rare, B movies very much to the contrary.

Are you of the opinion that bad people are vanishingly rare? I think people who believe, for example, that Jews are a scourge upon the world and must be exterminated for the good of the Master Race, even if they really, truly believe that, and really, truly believe that by blowing up shuls they're making things better, are bad people. Evil, in fact. Their true belief does not excuse them.

Conversely, the KKK considers me and those like me evil, a subtype called a "race traitor," among other things. This doesn't actually prove that good and evil are subjective categories, because of course one of us is actually right (me), and the other side is Just Plain Wrong.

I don't think Falwell had even the bad excuse of true belief. He waffled and lied too much for me to buy that. I don't think he was one of those vanishingly rare B-movie villains, either: he was simply indifferent to any harm he might be causing, because only his insatiable prideful gluttony (for money, fame, and power) mattered to him.

For my money, that's a bad person.

#156 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Xopher @ #154,

The KKK would also consider me a race traitor, seeing as how I am of Germanic Scandinavian stock and my wife is of undetermined, incredibly beautiful "dusky" stock. It was something of a scandal in my family when I got married. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little proud of that.

Anyway, when I think of truly "bad" people, I think of people who deliberately do things they know beforehand are going to be heinous and destructive and ruinous to the innocent, but they simply do not care, suffer not a pang of guilt, and/or relish the idea of causing harm.

The kid who went and shot up the Virginia Tech campus is someone I would qualify as "bad" in this way. He was on a self-determined blood mission; a reaper in his own mind seeking to rip down other peoples' faceless lives in some kind of twisted 'revenge' fantasy.

Falwell? Like most televangelicals I think he started out with good intentions in his heart. Unfortunately he wound up more like Jim Bakker than Billy Graham, becoming a shame and a farce and a joke to everyone not part of his true-believing flock. The power and the money and the prestige seem to truly have gone to his head, and he has uttered some truly awful things in his day. Things I have to wonder if, now that he has moved on, he might like to recant?

But to my knowledge Falwell was never directly responsible for the ending of human lives. This did not seem to be a man who relished the idea of other humans in anguish or pain. I think his attempts to discern the blackness and whiteness of the world (no pun reference to his younger years) made him blind to the fact that Christ preached love for the sinner while at the same time railing against sin itself. I believe Falwell allowed his innate loathing of sin, as defined in his religion, to translate into a direct loathing of the sinful; which to my mind is the grandaddy of all honey traps which await all of us who are modern monotheists.

Because once you begin to hate people personally for their sins I think that's an instant trip to a place of hypocrisy; and televangelicals are perhaps America's best-known and ironically celebrated hypocrites. (e.g: Bakker, Swaggart, et al.)

But even being a colossal hypocrite doesn't make you "bad" in my book. It makes you foolish and not worthy of serious trust, but it doesn't mean I think you're evil.

Child rapists? That's evil.
Rapists in general? Also evil.
Cold-blooded murderers? Evil.

Racists and Bigots? I think there is a line here in that anyone who is bigotted or racist without acting on their bigotry and racism, is simply ignorant and in dire need of either exposure, or some form of human tenderness that can touch the core of their rage; rage which is almost always rooted in some lack of self-worth. But the instant a racist or bigot allows their feelings to bring them to act against their fellow humans, through hurt and rape and murder and burning churches or whatever, then, that is evil of a stark and terrible type.

In short, I think "bad" for me often comes down to what people directly do with their actions and their desires; actions which are directly harmful or slaying to the innocent around them.

Falwell doesn't qualify for me. He was an embarrassment to every Christian and I am glad none of us will have to read or hear about his moronic spoutings-off anymore. But who among us has not been somewhat moronic at times? Who are we to judge Jerry and say he was a Bad Person? He just happened to be someone who got on TV and in front of the microphone a lot. His foibles and strange ideas and other lamentable concepts were put on full public display.

That millions of Americans set this flawed, hypocritical man up on a pedestal and took his word as Absolute Truth? Now, that's a whole discussion all by itself, and goes into group psychology and mob mentality and all the crazy and awful and, yes, evil things humans do in masses which they would literally never do individually.

All of the above, is, of course, just my opinion. I'm not saying it's the right one. It's just mine.

#157 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 07:32 PM:

I heard something today I'd never heard before. Apparently in some circles the following phrase is current: The Sevareid effect.

As defined on the radio (NPR's Science Friday), Sevareid once said something to the effect that "problems come from solutions." What's meant is that somebody tried to fix something, and that led to more problems.

Maybe the law of unintended consequences hadn't been formulated when Sevareid issued his edict.

Anyway, I suspect that Falwell saw a lack of Christianity in America and tried to fix it, but his (nasty, mean-spirited, bigoted) methods led to serious and divisive problems he hadn't foreseen.

#158 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 08:41 PM:

Lack of Christianity in America is not a problem. Both because it doesn't exist, and because it wouldn't be bad if it did. On both counts, ask any non-Christian.

#159 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 09:21 PM:

Chris, I didn't say I thought Falwell was correct in that assumption, and maybe that wasn't his assumption at all. Maybe he thought America needed Jerry Falwell to get rich through bigotry and hate.

#160 ::: Cassandra P-S ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Serge @ 26: I'd hate to find that there was a line beyond which mercy did not apply. [...] Isn't there such a line, in the minds of Falwell's ilk? You can be the most moral and the kindest person on Earth, but, if you were...you know where you'll wind up.

I'm not sure if you meant "these people think 'the sinful,' as they define them, will be going to hell," or "these people think 'the sinful' will be going to hell and that they themselves will be going to heaven," or even "these people think that they are sinful and are going to hell themselves," but I'd like to point out that if you think that God in his/her/its wisdom does that particular bit of deciding, that is probably a moot point. (I, for one, am really glad that I don't have to decide that for others.)

Bruce @ 68: Ever have to stomp a scorpion to keep it from stinging you? The relief at not having to undergo the resultant pain usually comes out in odd ways like "Serves you right, you evil little invertebrate!", when you know very well the scorpion is only doing what it's evolved to do. My reaction to Falwell is a lot like that.

But people didn't evolve to cause pain to each other.

Jonathan @106: So many of his moral peers are still alive and doing such harm that the loss of his life hardly seems something of substance.

Did you mean that that in terms of "his bigoted work will be continued, and I didn't know him personally, so I am personally not mourning the man himself?" Otherwise, it seems a little sad...I'd like to think that everyone's life has a little something of substance.

Lizzy @ 108: That is an excellent sentiment, as well as a nice sentence.

#161 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 11:02 PM:

Cassandra @ 159... My point wasn't that God will decide that, for all your good deeds, you'll wind up in Hell if you're an atheist, or an homosexual. I meant that people like Falwell say so, and people who listen to them will spend their life's last moments in terror of what's on the other side. (I probably muddied things even more with this response, but, to paraphrase Doctor McCoy, I'm a software engineer, not a theologian.)

#162 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Serge #160: I think it's more like this: people like Falwell have invested so much effort and rhetoric into persuading people that only those who follow their precise formula will have a happy afterlife that anyone disagreeing is a threat (since they're using the afterlife as a kind of moral club). If we don't believe there's a heaven or a hell, then what's to keep us from doing whatever we like regardless of the effect on others? There are people who sincerely believe that only Christians can be moral (and by Christians they mean people who share their particular view of Christianity, Quakers, Unitarians, Catholics, Orthodox need not apply). If people claim that they can be moral without being Christian, then the basis on which these people are Christian becomes suspect.

#163 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 11:34 PM:

Interestingly, Fragano, the subject of Religion came up in a recent issue of Superman, when Clark asks his mother if he disappointed her when he turned 14 and stopped going to Church. She responds that he could never disappoint her:

"Clark, my faith was my own. I brought it into your life so that you could have a foundation fr making your own choices."

#164 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2007, 11:57 PM:

Serge #162: Has Pat Robertson issued a fatwa against Superman yet?

#165 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 12:12 AM:

Fragano... I'd like to see Pat try. He'd better have a big chunk of kryptonite handy.

#166 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 12:59 AM:

Cassandra P-S @ 159

But people didn't evolve to cause pain to each other.

Perhaps not, but some people are broken in ways that have the same effect. They have denied or abrogated their connection to other human beings (or to some number of them), and by their actions they have caused great pain and suffering.

#167 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 01:09 AM:

PublidRadioVet, #110: In short, I think "bad" for me often comes down to what people directly do with their actions and their desires; actions which are directly harmful or slaying to the innocent around them.

I will ask here the questions I always ask when someone seems to be drawing a very hard line between actions and desires.

Is the person who hires an assassin to kill his enemy a bad person? He hasn't actually done anything directly; does he share the responsibility for that death, or does it all fall upon the assassin himself?

What about the man who stands at the back of an angry mob and shouts, "Kill him!" -- and they do? Again, he hasn't taken any direct action against the target; the most he's done himself was to focus the mob's rage. Does he share responsibility for that death?

You can probably figure out that my answer to both of these questions is yes, he is responsible. And this is why I consider Falwell to be a bad person.

Jerry Falwell wanted me, and thousands of people like me, dead. He wasn't willing to sully his own hands with our blood, oh no -- but he was more than happy to say things which would encourage other people to do his dirty work for him. Look at the infamous 9/11 quote, said only days after the event to a nation still deep in the throes of shock and rage. Can you honestly say that this was NOT intended to suggest that yes, here are some handy targets upon which to vent your grief and fury? And do you think for one minute that if his followers had risen up in an angry mob and killed a few dozen (or a few hundred, or thousand) of all those people he "pointed his finger at", that he would NOT have privately rejoiced at each and every one of those deaths?

I wonder, sometimes, if some people didn't do exactly that. We heard stories about violence directed at people who had brown skin (and how the people doing it weren't any too careful about distinguishing Muslims from Hindus, or Latinos, or even dark-skinned Jews), and that this was a "reaction" to 9/11. But how many gays and pagans and Planned Parenthood workers may have been attacked or killed because of that statement, and the connection simply got lost because they weren't brown?

Jerry Falwell was a man who used good as a cover for doing things that even he had to realize were evil. He was not a good person.

#168 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 01:10 AM:

PublidRadioVet, #155: In short, I think "bad" for me often comes down to what people directly do with their actions and their desires; actions which are directly harmful or slaying to the innocent around them.

I will ask here the questions I always ask when someone seems to be drawing a very hard line between actions and desires.

Is the person who hires an assassin to kill his enemy a bad person? He hasn't actually done anything directly; does he share the responsibility for that death, or does it all fall upon the assassin himself?

What about the man who stands at the back of an angry mob and shouts, "Kill him!" -- and they do? Again, he hasn't taken any direct action against the target; the most he's done himself was to focus the mob's rage. Does he share responsibility for that death?

You can probably figure out that my answer to both of these questions is yes, he is responsible. And this is why I consider Falwell to be a bad person.

Jerry Falwell wanted me, and thousands of people like me, dead. He wasn't willing to sully his own hands with our blood, oh no -- but he was more than happy to say things which would encourage other people to do his dirty work for him. Look at the infamous 9/11 quote, said only days after the event to a nation still deep in the throes of shock and rage. Can you honestly say that this was NOT intended to suggest that yes, here are some handy targets upon which to vent your grief and fury? And do you think for one minute that if his followers had risen up in an angry mob and killed a few dozen (or a few hundred, or thousand) of all those people he "pointed his finger at", that he would NOT have privately rejoiced at each and every one of those deaths?

I wonder, sometimes, if some people didn't do exactly that. We heard stories about violence directed at people who had brown skin (and how the people doing it weren't any too careful about distinguishing Muslims from Hindus, or Latinos, or even dark-skinned Jews), and that this was a "reaction" to 9/11. But how many gays and pagans and Planned Parenthood workers may have been attacked or killed because of that statement, and the connection simply got lost because they weren't brown?

Jerry Falwell was a man who used good as a cover for doing things that even he had to realize were evil. He was not a good person.

#169 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 01:16 AM:

Ack, sorry about the double post. The first one had a typo in the comment # to which I was responding, which I noticed only after I'd hit Post; I tried to stop it, but apparently not quickly enough.

#170 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 01:30 AM:

Public Radio Vet, the kid who went and shot up Virginia Tech was, as seems pretty clear from the videotape he sent the media and his previous history, most likely seriously mentally ill.

That's not evil, that's insanity, even if the result was just as horrific.

#171 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 03:35 AM:

pat greene @ 169

That's not evil, that's insanity, even if the result was just as horrific.

You're sure of that? You're sure that you can tell the difference in this case? In most cases? In all cases?

I don't think we know enough about the mind to say what insanity is*. It's very tempting to say that attitudes and behavior that we don't understand or think are aberrant in some way are necessarily insane, but how is that any less arrogant and more informed than the statement that those attitudes and behaviors are evil?

Is the difference that we can treat insanity? Well, we can't, at least not that kind. We don't know why it occurs, we don't know how to treat it effectively, and there are a number of dead psychiatrists who thought they could and whose deaths at the hands of their patients attest that they couldn't.

What do you do with someone who intends harm to others, and who cannot be convinced or cajoled or treated not to? You stop that person from doing so. You do it humanely if you can, but that's not the highest priority. I don't kill scorpions indiscriminately either, but if I can't keep them away from me any other way, that's what I do.


* And it's primarily a legal term in most contexts anyway.

#172 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 08:06 AM:

Chiming in – "directly responsible for the ending* of human lives" (@155)

Hoping I'm not struck down by Godwin's Law, from all the evidence I've seen, one major touchstone for 'evil', Adolf Hitler, after his WWI military service** never actually killed anyone. He was quite physically squeamish about seeing death & suffering, from reports.

He had other people to do that for him.

Stalin I'm less sure about.

See also the backstory of The Fisher King

Evil vs Insanity? Whoa. That's a whole barrellful of large & vigorously wriggling worms. Certainly at my very worst of times I've skated close to homicide &/or suicide; I wonder what the verdict would have been?

* There are many ways of speeding or encouraging death, by denying health care, for instance, or other persecutions; plus there's causing or contributing to disablement and suffering short of death.

** Starting a war is: "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." (Nuremberg judgement)

#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 08:49 AM:

The bottom line is that no matter how little blood is on their hands, Falwell and his ilk were not and still aren't interested in helping people be touched by the better angels of their nature.

#174 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 09:38 AM:

Linkmeister @ #156: The Sevareid effect? That's fascinating, I will have to remember that. And yes, I think we see this "effect" play out all the time, currently and historically.

Lee @ #166: You make some good points! In the case of the assassin and the man who hires an assassin, I'd say blame falls equally on both heads, because while the man doing the hiring might not actually pull the trigger, the desire for murder is truly in his heart and he has (we assume) taken direct action towards this goal by putting out money for the hiring of said assassin. In essence, he's one step removed from the trigger, but it's a mighty small step.

The man at the rear of the mob is a tougher question. Mob dynamics have been a fascinating subject for psychologists of all stripes, and in some respects the actions of a mob can be deemed temporary insanity. I think there is a difference here though in that those at the front of the mob actually doing the killing are still making an individual choice. The man at the back really has no control over the people at the front. Yes, the bloodlust might be in his mind and heart, but unless his hand is actually on the weapon that sheds life, I think the wrong done by the man in the back is small compared to the huge wrong of the people at the front who commit the actual murder.

Lee, since I am a relative newbie I am not sure what you mean by "me and thousands of people like me", so I will need a little explanation there. I also cannot recall Falwell requesting or inciting the actual murder of anyone; though again I have not followed Falwell closely enough to be aware of every single one of his quotes.

I think Falwell's post-9/11 comments were the unfortunate mouthings of a man who was desperately trying to remain relevant. He knew that there are a great many Americans who do believe that the U.S. enjoys special divine protection; provided that the U.S. remains a "godly" country. An attack like 9/11 brought a shadow of doubt across the hearts of all Americans, and Falwell obviously wanted to provide a context for everyone who might ask, "Why has God allowed this?" What Falwell failed to see is that he, and just about every other televangelist going, is as much a part of the "problem" as any other group. If America did enjoy any sort of divine protection, it was removed as much for the hypocrisy and fallen nature of Christ's self-appointed used car salesmen as it was for gay marriage or womens rights.

I also cannot recall any specific instances where anyone attacked women, gays, Planned Parenthood workers, etc, following 9/11. We saw some isolated redneck reaction (e.g: man attacks Sikh in turban assuming he is a "terrorist Moslem!") but I don't recall an upsurge in hate crime specifically directed at the groups you named. I am sure boatloads of people agreed with Falwell to varying degrees, and in my religious circle Falwell's raving was universally denounced as whacko. But if Jerry's comments lead directly to the deaths of any gays, women, etc, and this is on record, (e.g: "Jerry said the gays gave us 9/11, so I killed the damned f*****!") then I would be interested in seeing some links. Not saying it did not happen, I just don't know of specific cases where it did.

Pat @ #169: I agree with Bruce in #170. I would add that I have no doubt the shooter was disturbed; the thing is I doubt he was disturbed to such a degree that he had literally lost his grasp on reality and any semblence of right and wrong. I think he was fully aware of the fact that shooting innocent people was not only against the law, but morally heinous; I think he was just so far gone in his own isolated world of hate that he stopped caring and needed blood to satisfy his darkness. I think this is true of many "spree shooters", and it does not spare them (in my mind anyway) the full judgment for their crimes.

Epacris @ #171: I think we enter a realm adjacent to the assassin argument, where national leaders are concerned. In this case, I think the vast brunt of judgment lies squarely on the shoulders of said leader, because the majority of people he/she commands have no choice in whether or not to go along with that leader's desires. This is why I don't think you could blame the average Wehrmacht troop for 'war crimes' because a great many Wehrmacht were simply under orders and were duty and honor-bound to follow those orders; even if the guy at the top of the Reich was as close to evil as you can get.

One other note: I sometimes wonder if the cabal surrounding Hitler was not more evil than Hitler himself. Certainly folks, such as Goebbels, strike me as being at least as noxious and nasty as Hitler himself, and they exploited Hitler's rise to begin effecting their own particular brand of terror on the world around them. Ditto for Lenin/Stalin and Mao and the other great totalitarians of the 20th century. They were enabled by a good many hangers-on who enjoyed power and influence without actually being the man at the top.

#175 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Serge #164: That just requires a trip to Belgrade.

#176 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 11:17 AM:

PublicRadioVet (#173): They were enabled by a good many hangers-on who enjoyed power and influence. Current examples are all too easy to find -- and they're the ones who haven't been forced out of their jobs in DC.

When religion enters the mix, as either motivator or excuse, things get even scarier. Doesn't the KKK have pseudo-religious trappings? When last night's Walter Cronkite special got to the church bombing that killed the young black girls back in the '60s, I couldn't help but think of mosque bombings in Iraq, along with so many other insane crusades and vendettas.

If we are the most collective and "cooperative" sentient species on Earth, we're also horribly subsceptible to "the madness of crowds." That madness claimed Falwell, and he helped pass it on. (I wonder if some SF optimist has written about a spreading plague of sanity -- or is that what it means to be post-human?)

#177 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 12:25 PM:

"a spreading plague of sanity" Would that be Clarke's Childhood's End?

Not altogether cheerful, I remember.

In general, I'm going along with Lady Sisyphus' comments, also PublicRadioVet's remark @153 about Falwell's followers, and Nenya @143 when she(?) says "As long as he was alive, there was a chance (however slim) that he would repudiate his earlier nastiness" – I had the same disappointment hearing of Khomeini's death, because no-one else would have the authority for his convinced followers to rein back on what he'd said.

Apropos of Margaret, Baroness Thatcher's funeral (@ 53, 56): have you ever seen the late, great Ian Richardson as PM Francis Urquhart in the opening scene of The Final Cut (last in the House of Cards trilogy)?

#178 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 12:26 PM:

"a spreading plague of sanity" Would that be Clarke's Childhood's End?

Not altogether cheerful, I remember.

In general, I'm going along with Lady Sisyphus' comments, also PublicRadioVet's remark @153 about Falwell's followers, and Nenya @143 when she(?) says "As long as he was alive, there was a chance (however slim) that he would repudiate his earlier nastiness" – I had the same disappointment hearing of Khomeini's death, because no-one else would have the authority for his convinced followers to rein back on what he'd said.

Apropos of Margaret, Baroness Thatcher's funeral (@ 53, 56): have you ever seen the late, great Ian Richardson as PM Francis Urquhart in the opening scene of The Final Cut (last in the House of Cards trilogy)?

#179 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Faren Miller, Brunner's The Stone That Never Came Down could be considered a "spreading plague of sanity" story.

(Would say more but must go search the Master Gardener's sale for a better selection of peppers than I've so far found).

#180 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Faren Miller, Brunner's The Stone That Never Came Down could be considered a "spreading plague of sanity" story.

(Would say more but must go search the Master Gardener's sale for a better selection of peppers than I've so far found).

#181 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 01:32 PM:

Faren Miller @ 175

(I wonder if some SF optimist has written about a spreading plague of sanity -- or is that what it means to be post-human?)

John Brunner: "The Stone that Never Came Down"

That's one way of being post-human; one I think us old-style folks have to hope is the one that wins the Darwinian competition.

#182 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 02:01 PM:

#171 et al - I recall being told once that the old Scottish law permitted a number of verdicts not used elsewhere, including "guilty but insane". istm that certain leaders of the 20th century might fall into that bucket, or the one next to it of "guilty and insane".
The classic legal insanity is not knowing that you are doing wrong; these others are ways of saying that we believe that you did not care if you were doing wrong. In a fairly strict social contract model, I argue that such a state of mind is far more dangerous than any "normal" criminal intent.
I also argue that in many cases manslaughter should be regarded as more serious than premeditated murder; because manslaughter has the element of not caring if you kill.

#183 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 02:29 PM:

PublicRadioVet @ 173:

I hope you were merely writing carelessly when you appeared to agree with Falwell that God might have removed divine protection from a nation for giving me, and many of the other people here, and millions you will never know, the same rights that you take for granted as a heterosexual male.

If so, please think a little more carefully: you've fallen into a rhetorical trap that has the effect of reiterating the idea that decency and human rights are something a nation will and should suffer for respecting.

Being told that hypocrisy is "as much" a moral failing as feminism does not warm the cockles of this feminist's heart.

#184 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 03:13 PM:

"...the unfortunate musings of a man desperately trying to stay relevant..."

You know, this is starting to sound an awful lot like the posts of someone who recently was banished by Our Hostess. And even the structure of the nom-de-blog is quite similar. I may be wrong. I may be right.

#185 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 03:17 PM:

175 Faren: I wonder if some SF optimist has written about a spreading plague of sanity -- or is that what it means to be post-human

If honesty is sanity, include the story "The Devil's Children" by Spider Robinson.

#186 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 03:48 PM:

To be fair, Serge, PRV is commenting on the topic at hand, not trying to make the discussion all about him, unlike our previous visitor.

If it's the same person, and he's learned the rules of discourse here, then he's welcome. If he's not, but is behaving the way we are all required to to hang out here, well, then, he's welcome.

#187 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 04:54 PM:

abi... You don't think he/she is a troll sounding reasonable just to make harder to spot the trollity? Then I'll withdraw my earlier comment, if allowed.

#188 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 04:59 PM:

There's a tacit assumption in many posts on this thread that I want to take issue with: the idea that the very worst, most evil act, is the taking of a human life. I do, indeed, consider it an evil act under most circumstances, and a deeply regrettable one no matter what. But I can think of worse; the people I most condemn, like Jerry Falwell, are the ones who can think of and commit those worse acts.

Consider, which is more evil: to kill a person quickly and relatively painlessly, or to torture someone to death in great pain over a long period of time? Or even to torture psychologically so as to induce great terror without pain?

The closest I know of to an absolute moral principle is: "Do not treat conscious beings as objects." Evil is acting as if another human being were an object, to be used as you see fit. On that basis, it doesn't matter that Falwell didn't commit the acts he condoned, and it doesn't matter much that he didn't specifically call for anyone's death. He deliberately gave his followers both permission and excuses to commit evil, to treat human beings as less than human. This, in itself, is great evil.

#189 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 05:04 PM:

Serge,

At a certain point, if a troll doesn't troll, then it's not a troll. We are judged not by what we are, but by what we do.

(Mind you, my troll sensors aren't calibrated to the same standards as others' here.)

#190 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Henry 181: Some US states have "guilty but mentally ill" as a possible verdict. It's for people who knew they were doing wrong, and were responsible for their actions, but need mental health treatment; IIRC such a verdict requires the state to provide such treatment during the convict's subsequent incarceration.

Vicki 182: Hear, hear.

Bruce 187: Hear, hear.

#191 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 06:29 PM:

abi @ 188... Neither are my sensors(*). Maybe I was a bit touchy due to what had happened with that other person. Others, whose experience of cyberspace is far more lengthy than mine, think it was indeed a troll and I felt quite foolish about it (**). Oh well. I shall move on to other pursuits.

(*) Cut to shot of Mister Spock, his face bathed by blue light while we hear the device's squeaky chug-a-chug sound.

(**) Darn my being a card-carrying member of the ACLU.

#192 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 07:42 PM:

PRV at 173: because the majority of people he/she commands have no choice in whether or not to go along with that leader's desires.

I call bullshit. Of course people have a choice. Even in the military, you have a choice. In some armies, if you fail to obey an order which seems to you to be morally monstrous, you'll probably end up dead. But you have the choice, extreme though it is. If you are a civilian in the United States, listening to George Bush or Dick Cheney (you said "leaders") of course you have a choice in what you do. Don't be ridiculous.

I don't think you could blame the average Wehrmacht troop for 'war crimes' because a great many Wehrmacht were simply under orders and were duty and honor-bound to follow those orders.

You can blame them. You must blame them. You may pity them. You may, perhaps, forgive them, if you can. But you must blame them, or "We are at war" will continue to excuse all manner of inexcusable behavior, up to and including torture. See many posts on this blog for further elucidation.

#193 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 10:32 PM:

I don't think you could blame the average Wehrmacht troop for 'war crimes' because a great many Wehrmacht were simply under orders and were duty and honor-bound to follow those orders.

You can blame them. You must blame them. You may pity them. You may, perhaps, forgive them, if you can. But you must blame them, or "We are at war" will continue to excuse all manner of inexcusable behavior, up to and including torture. See many posts on this blog for further elucidation.

See also the Nuremburg trials, which I seem to recall (from discussions in various places, including this one) established that 'following orders' is not a sufficient excuse for criminal acts, and the higher the rank, the less it can be used as an excuse.

#194 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 11:18 PM:

Bruce Cohen,

Do not put words into my mouth. I did not say that the Virginia Tech's shooter was insane because his actions were beyond comprehension. I said he was insane because he had a past history of certifiable mental illness.

I would never say that all aberrent behaviors are insane: Klebold and Harris, the Columbine killers, weren't psychotic, but they committed horrific acts. Neither Ted Bundy nor John Wayne Gacy were insane, either. I do not understand what could drive someone to commit such incredibly horrible acts, but I do not count it as insanity, either.

As far as what to do with insane people who present a danger to themselves or others? You put them in institutions. You may not be able to cure them (but they really have made great strides with medication) but you can keep them from hurting others. One of the reasons the Virginia Tech shooter was not hospitalized is that Virginia has one of the toughest commitment laws in the country.

I still maintain that severe mental illness affects moral culpability. Psychotic people think and believe things about the world and themselves that they don't when they are well.

I am not a psychiatrist. But Cho Seung-Hui's statements like "you decided to spill my blood" and "you forced me into a corner" seem to me to be as supportive of a reading of severe paranoia as they are simply evil, especially given his past.

#195 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2007, 11:50 PM:

PRV @173: When I read Cho Seung-Hui's comments, they struck me as being extremely paranoid. Notions of "right" and "wrong" can disappear under circumstances like that.

Regarding Falwell, at the very least, he used his God-given talents in pursuit of power and with little regard for the ways in which he harmed others. And on more than one occasion he lied about what he had said or done.

I don't dance on his grave -- I am saddened by the fact that he didn't change before he died. What a waste: all that talent, that gift for persuasion, used in a way that made the world an even more broken place than it already is.

#196 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 01:46 AM:

pat greene @ 193

My apologies for misstating your position. I happen to believe myself that most evil is insane; that doesn't mean that we know how to cure it. Yes, we should put such people in institutions, my concern is how often we let them out again with no good reason for believing they won't commit such acts again.

As for medication, as I've said before, this isn't anywhere near as effective an option as many would have us believe. It's especially ineffective when we leave it to the patient to ensure that the medication is taken, given that the side-effects are often unpleasant enough to make the patient go off the meds just to avoid them.

#197 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 02:08 AM:

Faren @ #175: That's a fascinating idea, and certainly meaty SF or even F material IMHO. Although I suspect any SF or F writer worth his or her salt would have to admit that breeding insanity out of the human race or curing us forever of our potentially violent mentalities and eccentricities would probably make us dreadfully boring as well as dreadfully safe. Sometimes, it's the nuts who make the world fun. But that's a whole other Oprah.

Vicki @ #182: I thought I gave myself the caveat when I noted that my religious peers and I unanimously agreed that Falwell's 9/11 quotes were batty. But for the record, I do not think gays "caused" 9/11. Nor do I think feminists "caused" 9/11. I'm not trying to lend credence to Falwell. Again, I think Falwell was desperate to provide context for people thrown into confusion by 9/11, while at the same time re-inserting himself into the national dialogue. It's a shame he had to say such things while proclaiming himself a Christian in the process. It was an embarrassment to every true Christian IMHO.

Now, I do believe that the U.S. has, historically, enjoyed a degree of divine intervention, in that we have survived several great upheavals (1776, 1812, 1860-1864, 1941-1945, the 1960's...) that might have destroyed other nations, and yet somehow we stayed more or less intact. But then I don't think this divine umbrella somehow vanished on 9/11, either. God apparently "let" our entire Pacific fleet get ripped to shreds by the Japanese. God "let" the Civil War happen. And so on and so forth.

Bad things happen to good people, and good countries, all the time. It doesn't mean God has removed Himself from the equation out of spite; which is, essentially, what Falwell seemed to be saying in the wake of 9/11, and which I disagree with absolutely.

Bruce @ #187: Those are some great points, but in Falwell's case I have to wonder at what stage Falwell's collective guilt ends and the individual guilt of his True Believers begins?

Lizzy @ #191: I am afraid we're just going to have to disagree here. Soldiers under sworn oath are not allowed the same latitude that ordinary civilians are allowed. It's not fair to blame them for going to war under a bad leader or for a bad cause. I don't blame the Wehrmacht for fighting titanically against Allied troops. They were fighting for their country as much as Tommies and GIs fought for theirs. Especially in the late stages of the war, when it started to become clear that Nazi Germany was about to be obliterated.

PJ in #192 made a good point in that the higher you go in the pyramid, the more culpable you become in any postbellum war crimes trial. Nobody at the top echelon who survived the fall of the Reich could claim innocence, and rightly so. It was the top echelon that was the most responsible for enforcing Hitler's vision, exploiting it for their own gain, feeding it with their own desires, etc. But your typical 18-year-old Jerry down on the line? He's not guilty of anything other than being brave enough to pick up a rifle for his country; something even most Allies on the other side could (and did, and do) ultimately respect.

The few times I think exceptions to this can be (and have been) made, are when specific instances of true heinousness are brought to light in the aftermath of the war. Some of the officers and enlisted who worked the death camps come to mind; men who really did not have policy control within the Reich, yet who were shown beyond a shadow of a doubt to have delighted in the slaughter of Jews and who went above and beyond mere "duty" in prosecuting their orders to effect the Final Solution.

Ultimately, I think it's too convenient for any civilian to pass judgment on anyone who has served in the military, regarding duty versus conscience. Unless you have sworn the oath yourself and worn the uniform, you don't know the intricacies and paradoxes of the position a soldier can be in. Absolute black/white moral judgements too often fail to consider the contexts of actions, the restraint shown, the terrible toll exacted on men and women who must make choices between the lesser of two evils, etc.

#198 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 02:12 AM:

Pat Greene, well said. And perhaps the VA Tech shooter was truly crazy.

But in regards to Falwell and wasted and misused talents, I agree 100%!

#199 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 02:35 AM:

PublicRadioVet, #173:

... since I am a relative newbie I am not sure what you mean by "me and thousands of people like me", so I will need a little explanation there.

I am a liberal, a pro-choice woman, and a pagan. I am also straight, but do not see anything morally wrong about homosexuality, as I do not subscribe to the religion which is the source of those "moral" objections. There's a lot of overlap between those 4 groups, but by the time you count everyone who falls into at least one of them, you're probably into the hundreds of thousands -- maybe even the millions -- not just the thousands that I said originally.

I also cannot recall Falwell requesting or inciting the actual murder of anyone; though again I have not followed Falwell closely enough to be aware of every single one of his quotes.

To be strictly fair, there were several other options that Falwell would have considered acceptable for me*. First and foremost would have been voluntary conversion to his belief system... but that was never going to happen. Mindwipe and/or forcible reconditioning, to make the conversion genuine though not voluntary, would have been the next best. Next would have been the complete overthrow of the Constitution and the installation of a Christianist government, under the laws of which I would have been only property and without civil rights or citizenship. Terrorizing me into being afraid to speak about my faith and my opinions would certainly have been a strong option. Only if all of this failed would my death have been preferable to the alternative of just LETTING ME LIVE AND BELIEVE DIFFERENTLY FROM HIM.

If you listen to the rhetoric of the Christianist Right, one thing becomes rapidly obvious: they are very, very good at using code words and phrases to express concepts which would otherwise be completely unacceptable. One early and fairly clumsy example was the use of the phrase "justifiable homicide" as a cover for advocating the murder of abortion providers and those who associate with them. Of course you cannot recall Falwell directly requesting or advocating my murder; he was a master of the art, and (with the exception of that 9/11 quote) it's all buried in code -- things that you, from the outside, are intended to take at face value, but which are clarion calls to the Faithful.

If America did enjoy any sort of divine protection, it was removed as much for the hypocrisy and fallen nature of Christ's self-appointed used car salesmen as it was for gay marriage or womens rights.

Please tell me that you didn't mean that the way it sounds -- that what you meant to say was, "it was for the hypocrisy and fallen nature of Christ's self-appointed used-car salesmen, NOT for gay marriage or women's rights."

I also cannot recall any specific instances where anyone attacked women, gays, Planned Parenthood workers, etc, following 9/11.

I don't either... but was anyone even thinking about the possibility? Women and gays, after all, are attacked regularly, and absent the attacker being (1) caught and (2) stupid enough to CLAIM Falwell's words as his inspiration, no one would ever make the connection. Clinic workers and known pagans are routinely victims of relgious terrorism (ranging from petty vandalism and harassment to assault and murder), although their absolute numbers are smaller. The only way to tell whether this sort of thing actually happened or not would be to do fairly heavy statistical research and see if there was a spike in the number of attacks on members of those groups in the weeks following 9/11 -- and then further research to rule out coincidental causes. It's the sort of thing that will never be done because no one thinks it's an important enough question to be answered.

* Again, I note: When I say "me", I don't mean myself as a person, but me as a representative of those groups he hated. I was the same kind of demonized non-person to him that the Iraqis have become to many Americans.

#200 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Faren@175 et seq: Arguably, Brunner (1973) is a latecomer; see Damon Knight's "Rule Golden" (1954). A decade after Stone, Knight made a different cause for your idea into the trilogy CV, The Observers, and A Reasonable World (in which the type specimen of the new sanity is someone not committing rape -- an interesting choice for someone of Knight's vintage). Brunner used genetic sanity (with a pheromone component) as one of the driving elements of Stand on Zanzibar -- in which sanity \doesn't/ happen thanks to the U.S. playing dog-in-the-manger. All of these depend on how precisely you want to define "plague"; Stone does involve biological transmission, and of something produced from a nutrient medium (although he explicitly fudges the question of whether that something is living or not), so it's closer to a strict definition than my examples.

#201 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Public Radio Vet, the oath soldiers swear in the U.S. is to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, NOT to blindly obey their superiors. They are required by military law to refuse to obey an unlawful order. Whatever I may
think of soldiers from other countries, I am critical of soldiers of ours who violate that oath.

The people I know who are most adamant that "I'm just obeying orders" is no excuse for illegal or immoral behavior are in fact either active military or veterans. I include my father in this.

Fighting for your country in a time of war -- even a war of aggression, such as Germany waged in W.W. II -- I do not find morally objectionable. Killing entire villages of innocent civilians and depositing them in mass graves, as some German soldiers did, I do.

I pity the soldiers involved, really, I do. But I still find them morally responsible for their actions.

#202 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 01:01 PM:

PublicRadioVet #196:

Faren @ #175: That's a fascinating idea, and certainly meaty SF or even F material IMHO. Although I suspect any SF or F writer worth his or her salt would have to admit that breeding insanity out of the human race or curing us forever of our potentially violent mentalities and eccentricities would probably make us dreadfully boring as well as dreadfully safe. Sometimes, it's the nuts who make the world fun. But that's a whole other Oprah.

ObSF: C.S. Friedman, This Alien Shore. It's not much of a spoiler to say that lbh unir gb or vafnar gb or n ulcrefcnpr cvybg (it's revealed pretty early in the book), but enough of one that I rot13'd it just to be safe. The Madness Season also deals with how deviant or insane behavior may sometimes be necessary to the survival of a society, or a species. Or perhaps a group of species, it's not entirely clear jurgure be abg Qnrgeva fubhyq or pbafvqrerq gur fnzr fcrpvrf nf abezny uhznaf. (Incidentally, do any other common English words form a rot13-pair with another common English word?)

#203 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Chris @201:
...do any other common English words form a rot13-pair with another common English word?

All knowledge is contained somewhere on ML.

#204 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 01:29 PM:

I'm probably dating myself horribly, but when I see the title and the first two words of this post, I start hearing the opening strains of an L.A. Style dance hit.

Thank you. I need to take a pain reliever now.

#205 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 08:01 PM:

PRV @ 196

in Falwell's case I have to wonder at what stage Falwell's collective guilt ends and the individual guilt of his True Believers begins?

The True Believer's guilt begins precisely at the point where he or she acts on the ideas that Falwell promulgated. Falwell's guilt does not end there because he's partly responsible for those actions. Guilt is not monolithic.

#206 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2007, 08:08 PM:

pat greene @ 200

There was a story on NPR a week or so ago about a class at West Point that is intended to teach cadets about morality in warfare. The faculty thinks well enough of it to push it, but because it is an elective, cadets need not take it, and the class is only half-full. I think this shows that officers with combat experience* understand the need for an individual moral stance, but the incoming cadets do not. I also think this argues for making the course mandatory.


* like the officer teaching it, a captain who's been in combat in Iraq.

#207 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Pat @ #201: I apologize if my intent was not clear. I was not (and am not) trying to excuse bona fide war crimes. I'm just saying that it's not fair for civilians who have never earned a uniform to make sweeping black/white judgments on the soldiery; we know better than anyone what it means when one of us betrays that uniform and the Oath that goes with it. Nobody gets more upset than the troops when it is found that other troops have done criminal wrong.

Lee @ #199: Yes, you understood the concept of my "used car salesman" comment. My apology if it was worded in such a way as to convey that I sided with Falwell; because I did not.

#208 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 01:21 PM:

PRV @207
I'm just saying that it's not fair for civilians who have never earned a uniform to make sweeping black/white judgments on the soldiery.
Although I agree with the sentiment that a blanket assumption that the troops are all criminals, I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable with the phrasing here.

"Civilians who have never earned a uniform" are, collectively, the bosses of the military. It is our duty as a citizen body to take due care over how our troops are deployed, and to judge the military on its actions, good and bad. That's the way in the United States - the military is under civilian control.

Anything else invites tyranny, dictatorship, and military coups. So maybe roll back the contempt for civilians a bit in your comment?

Nobody gets more upset than the troops when it is found that other troops have done criminal wrong.
Sometimes. Sometimes ranks close and asses are covered. Soldiers are human too, and value unit cohesiveness over civilian oversight (as in your own comments above).

Ideally, yes, I agree that the troops should be the first to censure criminality. And many times it does occur. But not always.

#209 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 01:24 PM:

...agree with the sentiment that a blanket assumption that the troops are all criminals is false

Sigh

#210 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 01:58 PM:

abi, you are absolutely correct that the military works for the civilian side of the equation. It's written into the oaths we take, in that we serve the Constitution and the elected President, and both the Constitution and the President serve and are responsible to the people.

What I get mad at are civilians who have never darkened the doorway of a recruiter, telling everyone who has served or is serving in Iraq that they're all mercenaries and war criminals. I've seen too much of that these past four years. It's patented ivory tower logic, and it makes me very angry.

#211 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 02:27 PM:

PRV @ #210, I don't make blanket assumptions about the military, having served in it for a couple of years myself, and having grown up with a father who spent 33 years in it. But I'm more and more dismayed at the kind of cover-up and outright lying that its increasingly-PR-minded officers at the rank of Colonel and above seem to condone these days. See the Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch cases.

I also am dismayed that the Abu Ghraib scandal, as far as I can tell, didn't seem to affect the public careers of anyone over the rank of Sergeant.

#212 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 02:38 PM:

PRV @210
Again with the civilians who have never darkened the doorway of a recruiter stuff! Did you not read my comment? My point is that it doesn't matter whether they've never darkened the door of a recruiter, earned a uniform, or been worthy to join the happy, happy few.

A civilian who is telling everyone who has served or is serving in Iraq that they're all mercenaries and war criminals is as wrong when (s)he is worthy to join your Super Sekrit Band as when (s)he is incapable of learning to salute with individual tuition and an instructional video.

If someone is wrong, they're wrong. Skip the elitism - it gives the impression that you discount civilian oversight out of hand. And that is the first step to being, if not a mercenary or a war criminal, at the very least a threat to the good order of the nation.

#213 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 02:39 PM:

PRV,

I've lived my entire life in the noise impact zone of Ft. Lewis. I've got relatives who are career military (Navy, Army, and AF). Don't tell me I lack information to make informed statements about the military, and about soldiers as individuals.

Having served gives you experience of the Army to which I am not privy; having coped with the long-term social impact of a large military base equally gives me experiences which you do not share.

#214 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 03:11 PM:

My Republican father-in-law served as a Navy officer in the late 1950s. And he is disgusted with Bush, faux warrior extraordinaire, for surrounding himself with military yes-men. That certainly gives him the right to criticize the handling of the war. And I have that right too. Either that or I read the wrong copy of the Constitution when I was studying for my citizenship test.

#215 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Linkmeister @ #211: Actually, Janis Karpinski got reduced from Brigadier General to Colonel for her involvement in Abu Ghraib.

My compliments to you and your father on your service, BTW.

Abi @ #212: my apology if I sound elitist, I am just jaded. I sometimes attend class at Seattle Central Community College which is (in)famous for bashing the military and beating up on recruiters. I've had my fill of empty-headed little college poseurs who think they know everything and abuse servicemen as if it's their right; as if they're the ones who know anything about honor or courage or sacrifice. So lame. And I am sorry if my anger over these abuses has crept into this thread. I'm going to try to move on, since this thread is about Falwell, and I really did not intend to launch off onto such a big tangent.

I also agree with the spirit of your post, in that the strength or weakness of an argument often has nothing to do with the person doing the arguing. If your point is strong, it's strong on its own merits.

JESR @ #213: I'm somewhat confused, can you please indicate where I specifically said that you personally lacked experience with which to make informed statements about the military?

#216 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 03:19 PM:

"...I've had my fill of empty-headed little college poseurs..."

Kind of reminds me of the 'C' student in the Oval Office.

#217 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 03:19 PM:

"...I've had my fill of empty-headed little college poseurs..."

Kind of reminds me of the 'C' student in the Oval Office.

#218 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Serge, every American citizen has 110% right to criticize politicians and their policy.

I hope everyone realizes that I have not tried to say otherwise.

#219 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 03:27 PM:

PRV @215
I've had my fill of empty-headed little college poseurs who think they know everything and abuse servicemen as if it's their right
Presuming you mean verbally as opposed to physically, it is their right, under the First Amendment of the constitution. Even if they're wrong in everything they say.

as if they're the ones who know anything about honor or courage or sacrifice.
Irrelevant, as I've said twice before.

Really, are you hearing yourself? Do you talk like this to them, and then expect them, a bunch of cocksure college students, to listen to a word you say? You've even got me hacked off, and I agree with you.

#220 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 03:36 PM:

PRV @ 218

We're arguing that we also get to criticize the guys in the Pentagon who are busy breaking things they don't own because they can't, for whatever reason, speak the truth to their C-student draft-dodging boss.

It hasn't escaped notice that the generals who told Bush what was needed in Iraq, and retired or were fired, were also correct in their estimates. Bush says he listens to his generals, but he doesn't seem to hear them unless they agree with him.

(This is why some of us get unhappy when we're told that we should go along with Bush's plans because 'he's the commander-in-chief'. He doesn't command civilians.)


#221 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 04:29 PM:

abi @ #219: it's been physical as well as verbal. You might have read about where SCCC students threw water bottles at recruiter SFC Due and ripped up his literature and drove him off campus under threat of violence. Such behavior goes beyond mere verbal debate, and my full, uncensored opinion of those involved in such activities against recruiters cannot be printed on this forum.

PJ @ #218: I am willing to concede that the denizens of the Pentagon are wide open for policy criticism, as there can often be a lot of bleed-through between what the White House is doing and what the Pentagon is doing.

I'm just saying that it's not fair to give Private Fuzzy guilt trips for deploying to Iraq with his unit. The immorality of the Iraq war should be laid at the feet of men far, far above Private Fuzzy in the chain-of-command. Men in the White House, in Congress, in the Senate, perhaps in the Pentagon. But no lower.

#222 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Err, I meant PJ @ #220. Oops.

#223 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 04:34 PM:

Darn it, I screwed up my link, too. Sorry.

Here it is: recruiters abused by SCCC students.

#224 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 04:35 PM:

PRV @221
my full, uncensored opinion of those involved in such activities against recruiters cannot be printed on this forum
Just recruiters? Because that would get me very, very angry no matter who was the target.

#225 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 04:44 PM:

PRV @ 218... every American citizen has 110% right to criticize politicians and their policy. I hope everyone realizes that I have not tried to say otherwise.

You indeed said no such thing. But the military is there to serve the People too, which is what I myself was talking about. I'd rather not have the real issue shifted. In fact, I have zero interest in pursuing this exchange. You may see it as a victory if you so choose. I personally think it'd just be a waste of time for me.

#226 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Serge,

You're right. I should give up. PRV is a classic Heinleinian military supremacist, and either doesn't hear or doesn't care about the contempt for civilians that oozes from his every post.

He's "us" and civilians are his "them", grudgingly granted the rights he is sworn to protect, but not really worthy of them.

And he wonders why people react badly to him.

#227 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Public Radio Vet (#215), wrote: I've had my fill of empty-headed little college poseurs who think they know everything and abuse servicemen as if it's their right; as if they're the ones who know anything about honor or courage or sacrifice.


I have never served in the military; I never will, but I am glad to know that this makes me incapable of honour, courage, or sacrifice. I am glad to be disabused of the illusion that I might be any of thise things. Thanks for making this so clear.

#228 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:00 PM:

abi @ #224: unwarranted harrassment and vandalism is always ugly.

serge @ #225: I see no "victory" or "defeat" on these threads, it's all just conversation.

#229 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:16 PM:

abi @ #226: the only civilians I feel deserve contempt are those who express a direct and arbitrary dislike for men and women in uniform because they're in uniform. It's not about being "supreme", it's about feeling dissed by people whom we are charged with defending. Thankfully such people are a minority in this country. But there are enough of them, and they make enough of a nuisance of themselves, to warrant comment.

Fragano @ #227: college students who physically and verbally abuse and then drive off military personnel under threat of violence are hardly displaying what I'd call honor or courage. And unless you yourself identify as a college student who physically and verbally abuses recruiters or other military personnel, I am surprised that you would be offended.

#230 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:20 PM:

PublicRadioVet, I'm going to have to second what Abi said, because you're getting me hacked off, too.

Everyone has the right to criticize the military, whether or not they or anyone else in their family have served. Ditto, whether or not their criticisms are fair or well-informed.

If these students in Seattle said stupid things, well, they said stupid things. It's regrettable, but it's not an affront. The military is not uniquely privileged to not have people say stupid things about them.

If some of those students roughed up recruiters, they were at fault for harassment and (possibly) assault. That's all. They were no more and no less at fault than they would be if they'd taken the same actions against anyone else.

We are all citizens of the republic, and we have an explicitly civilian government. Americans are not obliged to make obeisance to representatives of our military. Historically we have always accorded them respect, and been mindful of their sacrifices. The only way this war differs from any of our previous wars is that the Bush administration is denying our dead their full public honors and recognition. As far as I know, that is the only consistent pattern of disrespectful behavior that's been aimed at our troops.

You say, "It's not fair to give Private Fuzzy guilt trips for deploying to Iraq with his unit." No kidding? Lots of things in this world are unfair, and lots of people have to hear things they shouldn't. What I want to know is who Private Fuzzy was, who guilt-tripped him, exactly what they said on what occasion (with locations and dates, if possible), and how Private Fuzzy says he felt about it when they did. I want his reaction, not yours.

I want to know this because what you're saying is starting to resemble the standard canting mythology about how Vietnam vets were booed and spat on when they returned home -- which, after decades of investigation, has been thoroughly demonstrated to have never happened.

Over the last several years I've seen quite a few soldiers in uniform in civilian venues. Most were traveling. A few were guarding train stations or airports. What I haven't seen is anyone giving them grief.

You know what else I haven't seen? I haven't seen anyone giving our troops grief for reporting to their units and heading off to Afghanistan or Iraq. Sympathy, yes. Concern, yes. But I haven't seen a particle of harassment or guilt-tripping. Pray forgive my disbelief, but unless you provide specifics, I'm very much inclined to regard it as mythological.

And if some students in Seattle made dumb remarks, what of it? Students do that. If having to listen to dumb student remarks were an extraordinary injustice, everyone who teaches undergrads would qualify as a martyred saint.

#231 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:22 PM:

And while you're at it, could you tell me again where and when it was that you served in the military?

#232 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:23 PM:

The mistreatment of military personnel by civilians is a raw topic with me, mostly because I have seen and experienced my share of such poor behavior where I live and work.

We now return you to the Falwell meme. I assume 100% responsibility for getting us off it.

Sorry, all.

#233 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:26 PM:

You must have accidentally hit "post" before you were finished writing that reply.

#234 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Hmm, I read the article you link to, PRV. It sounds to me like a mob got out of control. The Students Against War denied that they'd taken part as an organization, and more or less denounced the violence.

If I were a student on that campus, the next time I saw Sgt. Due I'd go straight up to his table and say "First of all, let me say that I respect you, your service, and the sense of duty that keeps you sitting here against opposition, and brought you BACK here after being subjected to violence.

"Second, I'd like to say that I oppose the war in Iraq, the military's homophobic policies, and the law that forces this college to allow the military to recruit here on pain of losing their funding.

"Third, and most importantly, I abhor the use of violence to enforce opinions that agree with mine; I feel it dishonors me as a holder of those views and as a student at this school, and while I can't undo what others did, I offer my profound apology on behalf of my misguided or malicious fellow students who participated."

And if he listened to all that, I'd leave him a plate of my famous Black Hole Brownies of Death.

See, the main wrong that was done there was personal wrong. Yes, it's wrong to use violence to make your views known, but in that case the violence had one specific target: Sgt. Due and the other recruiter (who was not named in the article). And they're the ones to whom the apology is owed.

(I admit, however, that I wasn't that thoughtful, that articulate, or even that good a baker in college.)

#235 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Teresa, because you asked:

I'm a currently serving Sergeant, U.S. Army Reserve. Based out of Fort Lewis, WA.

I work in Seattle, though, and go to school at SCCC when schedule and finances permit. Capitol Hill has seen several incidents of military and recruiter harrassment, much of it based out of SCCC. Again, if my ire over the bad behavior of certain Seattle area students and adults has bled too much into this thread, my apologies.

#236 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:42 PM:

PRV #229: Did you actually think about what you wrote? The statement that people who haven't served in the military are dishonourable, cowardly, and incapable of sacrifice seemed pretty clear.

#237 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:44 PM:

That's certainly distressing, and the students are idiots. As a former Seattle resident, I'll do my best to refrain from saying anything about SCCC student culture.

#238 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Xopher, if every anti-war activist had your decorum, there would be no problem. I have no problem with the anti-war stance. My wife is a massive anti-warrior. It's the transference of anger that bothers me, when people start taking anger they feel at Bush out on recruiters.

And for the record, I'm 100% opposed to the gay policy in the armed forces. It is a ridiculous policy and helps the military mission not one iota. And I am not alone. Lots and lots of us hate "Don't ask don't tell" and long for the day when this policy is tossed into the dustbin. Who cares who people sleep with? If they are professionals when they are on the clock, and can be professionals in a firefight, that's all that matters to me!

#239 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Military honor is not the only kind of honor. Military sacrifice is not the only kind of sacrifice.

#240 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:52 PM:

Fragano, you misunderstand me. Honor and courage are not the exclusive property of the military. These are universal traits and anybody who wants to have them, can have them. What I was saying is that I thought the college students in this particular instance were behaving in a rather ironically dishonorable and uncourageous manner; when faced with a man who (IMHO anyway) has more honor and courage in his little finger than any of those students has in their whole body.

I was not trying to convey that civilians have no honor nor courage. Just these particular college students in the case of SCCC.

#241 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:52 PM:

PRV, you miss my point. My point is that there's something I think the students who oppose mob violence on that campus should do. NOW, not then.

And I think it's required by (non-military) honor.

#242 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:54 PM:

Teresa @ #239: I agree.

#243 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Xopher: I see. And I agree.

#244 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Public Radio Vet #240: If I've misunderstood you, I apologise. As TNH said, military honour is not the only kind of honour, military sacrifice is not the only kind of sacrifice. I've come across too many people who confuse the categories.

#245 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 06:07 PM:

PRV,

If the attitudes I've seen in your posts aren't representative, good. Because even when I agreed with you, I felt that you were in contempt of me because I am a civilian. You actually managed to turn my initial respect for you into dislike by your tone. Nor was it just me - Fragano and Teresa, both sensitive to the nuances of tone and phrasing, agreed.

That's a thing that builds walls, not bridges. Your might want to look to that.

#246 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 06:21 PM:

abi @ #245: well, I suppose that speaks to the truncated nature of this medium. Unable to see the expressions on my face nor hear the tone in my words, tone must therefore be inferred from the text itself. And my tone came off as haughty? Smug? Rude? Yadda yadda.

And yes, re-reading what I wrote, I can see why civilians would be off-put by a lot of it. It smacks of having a chip on the shoulder, which I suppose I do.

My only defense is that I apologized several times before this for letting my ire over what I have seen happen here in the Northwest bleed into this tangent about the military.

For you, Fragano, and Teresa, I offer that same apology again.

#247 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 07:02 PM:

Bruce Cohen #188:

The closest I know of to an absolute moral principle is: "Do not treat conscious beings as objects."

That depends on circumstances. When I'm in a hurry to get somewhere, I treat conscious beings and mailboxes the same way: objects not to bump into. I don't see it as absolutely evil to refrain from stopping and greeting each person I pass.

If I want to look at the screen on my phone on a bright sunny day, I might well hold it in another person's shadow, treating him purely as a sun-blocking object (e.g. while we're waiting for the light to change). I don't see how using a part of his shadow is evil or immoral.

#248 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:18 PM:

PRV@240: As in another thread, I won't argue about the honor of individual soldiers once they've made the great mistake. However, have you been following what recruiters have been doing recently to make quota? Your friend may not be one of these; but there have been enough reports that the civilian world is entitled to doubt the honor of anyone taking that job.

#249 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 09:48 PM:

PRV, #240: I think that you are genuinely trying not to give offense. However, sweeping statements such as "as if they're the ones who know anything about honor or courage or sacrifice," and "have never darkened a recruiter's doorway," do leave rather a bad taste in the mouth.

There was a time in my life when I was suspicious of people in uniform just because they were in uniform. I grew out of it, largely because I've been fortunate enough to meet some truly fine examples of soldiers who illustrate the concepts of duty and honor by their actions in all venues. Nowadays, when I run into an asshole in a military uniform, I know very well that there are a lot of other people in uniform who would agree with me that he's an asshole -- and you have no idea how much difference that makes.

The one group for which I still retain that suspicion is those who talk about the military as if it were some kind of Elite Club, looking down their Elite Noses at the civilians who aren't good enough or moral enough or right-thinking enough to be members. And Teresa and abi are right -- that is exactly how you've been coming across.

A lot of the people who post here have developed the habit of thinking very carefully about how they phrase things, because they know that these things matter. I'm guessing that you have not had much experience in online venues where this is the case. But it's a skill which can be learned (I did, though I didn't learn it here), and it's one you're going to need if you don't want to keep igniting firestorms and having to apologize for miscommunications.


#250 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 10:18 PM:

Guys, he's handling this with some grace. Let's all take a step backward and catch our breath.

#251 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 10:50 PM:

Seth @ 247

Not quite what was meant, I think.

I do think that the idea was not to treat people as [disposable, unthinking] objects, or, don't treat them like something to be used up and thrown away.

By that standard, what you were doing was okay.

#252 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 11:00 PM:

Hear, hear.

He's apologized, not once but several times. He hasn't been acting the piñata, and treating him like one is beneath this community's standards.

IMHOOOC, NTSOTHPAA.

#253 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Serge (#136): re the five minute Hamlet.

I saw it done by John Houseman's American Theater Troop.

After the five minute, they did the 30 second.

Hamlet comes out, in front of the curtain, "To be, or not to be... Ah, what the hell," stabs himself and falls off the stage.

Shadow (#138): I saw them do the first perfomance of the complete works, abridged. I miss them at the faire, esp. the season they did an imrpov gig for fifteen minutes on the Witches' Wood stage. Often composed of in-jokes (my favorite was the nap. They got in the stage, stretched out (with stomachs for pillows) and "went to sleep" After about half the time, Adam lifted his head, said, "it doesn't get any better than this" and went back to sleep. We sat in rapt attention).

#254 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:00 AM:

Xopher & Teresa: thank you!

All: In the interest of collapsing this whole military discussion back into a thread where it's a little more pertinent to the discussion and not so blaringly O/T, I refer everyone to here.

#255 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Seth Breidbart @ 247, P J Evans @ 251

When I'm in a hurry to get somewhere, I treat conscious beings and mailboxes the same way: objects not to bump into.

No, treating them as objects would mean you wouldn't care about bumping into them as long as you didn't get hurt. I'm not a lawyer; what I stated is a moral principle, not contract law, where the letter is more important than the spirit.

P J, yes, that's what I was talking about. Seth, I think P J is right, you're talking about the same thing I was talking about.

#256 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #255: What you are talking about is the Kantian principle of treating people as ends and not means.

#257 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Teresa (#250), I very much agree. Unlike the totally obstinate arguers and trolls, PRV *has* become a gracious correspondent, and we formerly-ticked-off readers should acknowledge that (thanks, PRV!) and move on to other things.

#258 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:16 PM:

Trry Karney @ 253... Hamlet comes out, in front of the curtain, "To be, or not to be... Ah, what the hell," stabs himself and falls off the stage.

To the point, eh?

#259 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Serge @258
Well, if he dies, probably beyond the point, possibly even to the hilt.

#260 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:14 PM:

abi @ 259... Indeed. Or one could say that was Hamlet in a nutshell.

#261 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Well, apart from the bad dreams, yes.

#262 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:21 PM:

A 5-second version of Titus Andronicus:

"Tastes just like chicken!"

#263 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:47 PM:

#262: or "Let's have your kids over for dinner!"

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:58 PM:

ajay: "Enjoy the buffet."

#265 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:07 PM:

JULIET: Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art...AAAK! [falls off balcony onto Romeo, killing him]

#266 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:12 PM:

MACDUFF: Yeah, well I was a C-section, you regicidal scumbag! [lops off MacBeth's head]

#267 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 2^^8

Yes, that's what I meant, thanks. My reading of Kant is far back in the mists of time, was never very extensive, and was not conducive to my spending any time googling his ideas. So I didn't want to name names without checking that I was talking about it all intelligibly.

I just thank the Prime Purpose I didn't have to read Kant in German.

#268 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Richard III: And if you can't be good, be careful! Where's my horse? [falls off stage, onto Hamlet]

#269 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:32 PM:

Russell and Whitehead and Hegel and Kant;
Maybe I shall, and maybe I shan't.
Maybe I shan't and maybe I shall—
(Kant-Russell-Whitehead, Hegel et al.)

The Space Child's Mother Goose

#270 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:43 PM:

IAGO: She cheated on you!
OTHELLO: You bitch! [shoots Desdemona]
DESDEMONA: I have not deserved this! [shoots Othello, dies]
OTHELLO: You lied, asshole! [shoots Iago] Damn, I was gonna write a manifesto. [dies]

(CONSCIENCE: Is this a little sick?
CHRISTOPHER: Yep. More than a little.
CONSCIENCE: OK. Just checking.)

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 268: a horse is a horse, of course, of course...

#272 ::: Snad (aka Sandra) ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:46 PM:

Feeling the need to interject and lighten things up a bit, here is the commentary I posted on my own website re: the passing of Falwell. The premise is that he was correct about all the cartoon characters he "outed" and that it was all done as publicity.

GAY CARTOON CHARACTERS MOURN FALWELL

"Eh-oh. Sad, sad." Was all Tinkie Winkie could say.

"She was a bitch, but she was great at getting us out in front," said Spongebob Squarepants, referring to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, who made his Ascension this last Tuesday. Squarepants and other gay cartoon characters gathered in San Francisco Thursday to discuss the impact Falwell had on their careers, and to name a marketing successor.

"Face it," said Barney, another gay cartoon icon of the past. "He put food on my plate for years after all those brats were sick to death of me and my purple skin, Honey." The Penguins from the 2006 film "Happy Feet" also expressed sadness at Falwell's passing. They had only lately hopped on the publicity bandwagon after their film was declared "homo-tolerant" by Falwell in 2006. "Well, at least we're woolly, that's all I can say," said one spokespenguin. "We're young, and we can dance, not like that lumpy prehistoric Divine over there."

Squarepants was quick to come to Barney's defense, calling the penguins "tarts in cheap suits". At that point, this reporter started to feel queer and had to step out for a little fresh air. When I returned, the penguins were mixing Cosmos for the group. They quickly settled on Michael Medved as their publicity coordinator, having agreed that James Dobson was just too mean ("like Joan Crawford on meth", according to Velma, of Scooby Doo fame), and Pat Robertson could never be taken seriously with "that cute little Keebler Elf face of his."

The group was working on details for a press conference to announce the successor when Spongebob broke down and started shooting bubbles out of his butt. "Eh-oh," said Tinkie. I couldn't agree more.

#273 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Xopher @ 269

Yes!

Probable, possible, my black hen.
She lays eggs in the relative when.
She never lays eggs in the positive now,
because she's unable to postulate how.

----Space Child's Mother Goose.

#274 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:06 PM:

I have a pet hen whose name is Probable.
She lays eggs in thought, being a sophist-bird.
But not in reality at all; those would be inferior eggs,
For thought is superior to reality.

Are we gonna keep this up? Why or why not?

#275 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:11 PM:

Xopher @ 274... Are we gonna keep this up? Why or why not?

Probably with egg-related puns and, before you know it, their growth will be explosive, downright egg'spunential.

#276 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:14 PM:

I've been trying to come up with a short Lear for hours now, and falling tragically short. It's been too long since I read it and even then, I was more annoyed at the stupidities of the plot than anything else.

LEAR: Love me!
DAUGHTERS: No!
ENSEMBLE: *dies*

#277 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Ah, jeebus, do I have to go find that Magic Box now?

Hey, diddle, diddle,
Distribute the middle;
The premise controls the conclusion.
The disjunctive affirms
that the Diet of Worms
is a Borbetomagic confusion.

#278 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:15 PM:

The yolk will be on Xopher, all white. Shell we begin?

#279 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Yep, we're all bumin' out the puns...

#280 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Shorter Tempest (AKA Storm)

BOOM!
CRASH!
CALIBAN & ARIEL: Boo!
CREW: Eek!
MIRANDA: Wow!
FERDINAND: Yowza!
ANTONIO & ALONZO: Sorry!
PROSPERO: That's OK.
exeunt omnes

#281 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:31 PM:

abi @ 280... A Tempest in a teapot, maybe?

#282 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:33 PM:

How did that song by the Doors go?

This is the hen...

#283 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:55 PM:

OBERON: Give me the boy!
TITANIA: No!
OBERON: I'll make you fall in love with a real asshat.*
TITANIA: Oh, all right.
THESEUS: Everybody get married!
EVERYBODY: YAY!

[much rejoicing]

*I am unrepentant.

#284 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:08 PM:

Shorter Merchant of Venice:
"Bite me."

#285 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Xopher @ 274

... Are we gonna keep this up? Why or why not?

I think I'm tapped out. The book's at home; I have no idea where, and I don't remember any others just now. But thanks for that shot of nostalgia. I think I was 9 or 10 when I first read that book. Maybe younger.

#286 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Short Henry V:

PISTOL: An oath!
HENRY: Arrows!
DAUPHIN: Oh, Crap!
HENRY & KATHERINE: Marriage!
CHORUS: 2 Seconds Early!

#287 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:57 PM:

From Kiss Me Kate, the song Brush Up Your Shakespeare...

#288 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:03 PM:

I dimly remember a parody of Portia's speech from Merchant which began as follows:

"The koala-tee of mercy is not strined"

#289 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:04 PM:

Damn. Once I saw it I remembered the proper spelling:

"The koala-tea of mercy is not strained"

#290 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:05 PM:

Snad @ #272: I had thought that SpongeBob's relationship with Sandy Cheeks confirmed his sexual orientation? Squidward on the other hand seems to be so far in the closet, he'll never see daylight.

#291 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:14 PM:

We had a shower, once, that we called The Quality of Mercy. That was the summer I learned to wash my hair in the bath.

#292 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:20 PM:

"The koala-tee of mercy is not strined"

I would think that almost anything to do with koalas would be Strined.

#293 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:10 PM:

abi @ 291... Clogging problems, caused by your chevelure's Rapunzelian nature?

#294 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:14 PM:

No, but a shower that

is not strain'd
But droppeth from the heavens like a gentle rain

doesn't get my hair wet.

#295 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:18 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #267: An Austrian colleague of mine, back in grad school back in the twentieth century, told me once that he found it easier to read Habermas in English than in German. I suspect the experience with Kant would be similar. Fewer dings in the ding an sich.

#296 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Shorter Twelfth Night

Orsino: I've come to love thee, o my wondrous boy!
Viola: My lord, I have befool'd thee, I'm a girl.
Orsino: Thank God!
Olivia: I've come to love thee, o my wondrous boy!
Sebastian: I am a boy.
Olivia: Thank God.
Feste: When that I was a little tiny boy.

Exeunt omnes

#297 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Abi... Have you ever thought of joining the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists?

#298 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:35 PM:

Serge @297:
I think they exclude computer scientists, and I'm not any other type.

#299 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:02 PM:

abi... Bah humbug.

#300 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:36 PM:

Peter at #292, that's why I left it that way in my first comment. Strined was obvious until I spelt the drink correctly, then it had to become strained.

#301 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:00 PM:

Serge, Xopher, et al:

This is the theory that Jack built.

This is the flaw that lay in the theory that Jack built.

This is the mummery hiding the flaw that lay in the theory that Jack built.

etc.

Side note: 2 of the 4 dedicatees are named Stubbs -- but Harry didn't know anything about it when I asked, so I guess it was coincidence.

#302 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:36 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 295

Ring up for you: *ding*

#303 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:50 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #302: In itself?

#304 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:37 PM:

CHip 301: That reminds me of the simple proof that center embeddings ARE limited, albeit by the capacity of the speaker and listener, not by the structure of language itself:

This is Jack, who the house was built by.
This is Jack, who the house that the grain lay in was built by.
This is Jack, who the house that the grain that the rat nibbled lay in was built by.
This is Jack, who the house that the grain that the rat that the cat killed nibbled lay in was built by.

And if that doesn't pop your stack (read it out loud to someone and it will pop theirs), try

This is Jack, who the house that the grain that the rat that the cat that the dog that the cow with the crumpled horn that the maiden all forlorn milked tossed chased killed nibbled lay in was built by.

I do not believe there's anyone who can just read that sentence, much less hear it spoken, and understand it. Decipher it? Sure. Process it through normal linguistic channels? Nahh.

#305 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 12:03 AM:

We've entered a whole new weird area here:


Bomb Plot Thwarted at Falwell's Funeral
Student Arrested With Homemade Bombs, Three Other Suspects Sought

"A small group of protesters gathered near the funeral services to criticize the man who mobilized Christian evangelicals and made them a major force in American politics -- often by playing on social prejudices.

A group of students from Falwell's Liberty University staged a counterprotest.

And Campbell County authorities arrested a Liberty University student for having several homemade bombs in his car.

The student, 19-year-old Mark D. Uhl of Amissville, Va., reportedly told authorities that he was making the bombs to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral service."

#306 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 12:04 AM:

Shorter Antony and Cleopatra:

Antony: I love you! (Dies.)
Cleopatra: I love you! Pass the asp. (Dies.)
Octavius Caesar: Excellent funeral. Now back to Rome.

#307 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 02:24 AM:

Fragano,

Double drat, that was supposed to read "Ring up one for you: *ding*". Well, I guess it makes almost as much sense.

#308 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 05:15 AM:

abi@298: When I look at the LFHCFS page, I find that the top two entries are computer scientists.

#309 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 05:21 AM:

Just saw Measure for Measure a couple of weeks ago, so I'll try my hand at that one:

Duke: I like to disguise myself so I can deceive and manipulate people.
Angelo: I'm a puritanical hardass.
Isabella: Oh, please spare my brother!
Angelo: Only if you gratify my lusts!
Duke: AHA!
Angelo: Oops.
All: Time to get married!

(All: Hey, if this is Vienna, how come we all have Italian names?)

#310 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #307: It's only phenomenal (or, perhaps, noumenal).

#311 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 06:13 PM:

Has anyone else seen this?

I am laughing. It's a guilty laugh. But I am laughing.

#312 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 10:40 PM:

#309: some of the fragments Mike tossed off before ML was around fell under the title The Bard in Prime Time. A final line is sufficient for the flavor:

Vincentio, where are you?

#313 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 11:49 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 310

I was always impressed at the way Henson's Muppets could teach anything with their songs, even philosophy. Remember that great one that goes "Phenomena, na, na, na, nana, phenomena, na, nana, na"?

#314 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 01:05 AM:

Bruce Cohen #313: Weirdly, my father, who has a strange tendency to joke very earnestly, made that same joke just two days ago. At greeeeeaaaaat length. And then started insisting that he meant it. He's an odd one.

#315 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers)#313: Unfortunately, I got my muppet dose from Sesame Street (which I watched with my kids).

#316 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 03:31 AM:

Shorter Taming of the Shrew

Kate: Make me.
Petrucchio: My pleasure!
[curtain]

#317 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 06:20 PM:

Xopher@304: Was that "pop your stack" comment a really geeky parser writer's joke (as in "you can't parse this with a finite state machine, but a stack machine would be able to do it fine"), or am I reading too much into it?

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