This little piece was too good not to reproduce…
A couple of years ago I was interviewed for a different website and was asked ‘Who inspired you to go into politics?’and I replied that as far as I know I am not in politics.
However, if the question had been ‘What inspired you to take an interest in politics?’ I would have responded that it was capital punishment.
Concerning the claim of justice for the victim’s family, I say there is no amount of retaliatory deaths that would compensate to me the inestimable value of my daughter’s life, nor would they restore her to my arms. To say that the death of any other person would be just retribution is to insult the immeasurable worth of our loved ones who are victims. We cannot put a price on their lives. That kind of justice would only dehumanize and degrade us because it legitimates an animal instinct for gut-level blood thirsty revenge…. In my case, my own daughter was such a gift of joy and sweetness and beauty, that to kill someone in her name would have been to violate and profane the goodness of her life; the idea is offensive and repulsive to me.
I don’t know when it was, but I was very young, maybe around 7 or 8, when I first heard about it, and the concept of it filled me with a visceral disgust, and it still does.
Around the same time I saw that famous footage from somewhere in Asia where a policeman walks up to handcuffed kid and summarily executed him by shooting him in the temple. As the boy fell the blood was spurting out of the side of his head. I can still see that image when I close my eyes. I have never really been able to get rid of it.
Although I couldn’t formulate the thought in the way I can now, I knew at a young age that the idea of legislating and then processing a life away was a horrible thing, almost worse than the summary execution I had seen.
As you get older you become more able to analyse the statistics of the thing too. There are always conflicting studies, but the weight of evidence seems to be that having the death penalty does not correspond with a reduction in crime or murder rates.
The death penalty could also be attacked on a financial basis as the costs of maintaining the death system and the legal processes involved are astronomical.
However, that way of attacking it is also a form of surrender to savagery because, in the simplest terms, we are talking about the most fundamental of rights, the right to life. If the apparatus of a state doesn’t exist to protect that then what the hell should it exist for?
In its essence though, it is a moral argument and a simple one, so simple in fact that it seems embarrassingly unnecessary to even write it out here – if murder, and in particular premeditated murder is the worst thing, and most (if not all ) moral codes and systems throughout the world seem to agree on that, then there can be no justification for premeditated murder, even if you change the name and call it execution.
Today is the international day against the death penalty. Remember the innocents who have been and are being executed. Think of all the burned witches and humanists in the medieval and middle-ages, and if you believe someone called Jesus existed then think of him too. Think of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his friends. These people are all the most brutal reminders we have of the sometimes very thinly concealed savagery of our species.
But less frequently said, is that the guilty should also be remembered. The majority of them through history were executed for things that in other times and places would not have resulted in their deaths.
Amongst other things, until this abomination of the death penalty is gone, we haven’t earned the right to separate ourselves out from any group of animals or bygone peoples that we refer to as “savages”.
Denis Diderot was born today in 1713.
The Chief Editor and co-founder of the Encyclopédie contributed much to the enlightenment and I would recommend that amongst anything else it would be worth reading The Nun (La Religieuse) if you haven’t already.
I have always suspected though, despite his humanist convictions, that he was the kind of man who could start a fight in an empty room. I give you some fantastic examples below…
There’s a bit of testicle at the bottom of our most sublime feelings and our purest tenderness.
Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. (I know there is some debate about this one).
To attempt the destruction of our passions is the height of folly. What a noble aim is that of the zealot who tortures himself like a madman in order to desire nothing, love nothing, feel nothing, and who, if he succeeded, would end up a complete monster!
The God of the Christians is a father who makes much of his apples, and very little of his children.
There is no good father who would want to resemble our Heavenly Father
To prove the Gospels by a miracle is to prove an absurdity by something contrary to nature.
We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.
The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.
The possibility of divorce renders both marriage partners stricter in their observance of the duties they owe to each other. Divorces help to improve morals and to increase the population.
The blood of Jesus Christ can cover a multitude of sins, it seems to me.
I’ve been reading Aldous Huxley’s Ape & Essence recently. Quite an unusual book to say the least but worth the effort. Given that it was published in 1949 I think you could say he was ahead of the game here…
“‘These wretched slaves of wheels and ledgers began to congratulate themselves on being the Conquerors of Nature. Conquerors of Nature, indeed! In actual fact, of course. they had merely upset the equilibrium of Nature and were about to suffer the consequences. Just consider what they were up to during the century and a half before the Thing. Fouling the rivers, killing off the wild animals, destroying the forests, washing the topsoil into the sea, burning up an ocean of petroleum, squandering the minerals it had taken the whole of geological time to deposit. An orgy of criminal imbecility. And they called it Progress’.”
This is my latest video offering which I made last night.
It uses an audio clip from episode 9 of the Chris Morris Music Show. I believe Chris Morris is the greatest satirist of his generation. I just got a hold of Four Lions too, though I haven’t watched it yet.
I have added some images and a video to hopefully give a little more impact.
You can listen or download all the Chris Morris Music Shows at cookdandbombd.co.uk
Have you ever read the parental advisory bits for films on IMDB?
It is worth a laugh and you will discover that there are some extraordinarily sensitive people out there.
Let’s take a relatively calm film like Meet the Parents.
Numerous moderate references.
Pam and Greg prepare to have sex two or three times, but are always interrupted before it gets beyond passionate kissing.
Jack tells Greg to “Keep his snake in it’s cage for 72 hours.”
1 use of the ‘f’ word by Greg, as well as 2 other incomplete ones and several uses of the ‘s’ word. There is also a lot of other profanity, including 3 damns, 2 hells, 2 S.O.B.s, 1 ass, 5 uses of “Oh my G**,” 4 of “G-d***” and 2 each of “For Christ’s sakes” and “Jes**” as exclamations.
Greg’s surname is essentially a constant play on the f-word.
Smoking: Gaylord (Ben Stiller) is a smoker, but because his future parents in law don’t like it and don’t know that he does, he just chews nicotine gums most of the time (a cat gets into it one time). In one scene, he has to climb the roof, finds his cigarettes that had been thrown up there earlier and smokes one.
Alcohol: Brief drinking throughout the movie especially during dinners.
Drugs: After Jack begins playing the song, “Puff the Magic Dragon,” in his car, Greg jokes about what the song is allegedly really about (smoking pot), but Jack won’t believe it and then asks, “Are you a pothead, Focker?” (Greg replies that he isn’t).
A couple of nice culture jams from the Wooster Collective…
Another day another god knows how much spilling into the sea.
Here are a series of oil related posters and culture jams I have picked up over the years. If you were the one that made any of them then email me and I will put the link. There are more than just these three on the continuation page. I made the first one…
There are positive and negative stereotypes for every country and usually they are just convenient ways to label people and have little grounding in fact.
For example, I have spent time in Italy and I found the people to be neither lazier nor more stylish than people from other countries. Nor do they know more about food than other places as a lot of them are very nationalistic about this and don’t try food from other countries. Then again, a lot of them do so it is a dangerous thing to label people altogether in this way.
Similarly, in Korea I did not find the people to be obsessed with politeness and honour etc. All that bowing business only occurs on the rare occasion that you can’t actually avoid it. They do seem to work more than in some other places but they are as p*ssed off about that as anyone else would be. There wasn’t the deference to authority that we are always told about. There is a long history of striking and vehement protest in Korea. Take this photo as an example.
There is one Scottish steretype that has always baffled me though, which is this thing about saying “Och aye, the noo”.
I have NEVER heard someone say this except when taking the p*ss out of the fact we are supposed to say it.
It means basically, “oh yes, just now”. Doesn’t this strike you as rather odd thing for a nation of people to walk around saying?
Try to think of questions that go with this response. There are a few, but there aren’t too many.
I don’t know how the idea that this is a commonly used phrase came about except that it is often repeated that we actually say it. Maybe it is a species of self-reinforcing myth. The steps go like this…
- Someone said we say it
- Other people heard we say it
- We heard that other people said we say it so we started saying it to make fun of the fact that they said we say it
- Other people heard us saying it so they believe that we actually say it
However, having said all this, I should point out for the record that having spent some time there I can confirm that Italians really do say “mamma mia” quite often.