May 19th, 2005

pod

I poop on your book!

I've finally found something to agree with the conservatives on. Sort of.

This whole flap about the Newsweek article is stupid on so many levels. For one thing both sides have a point. Given what we know has gone on there and in other U.S. detainment centers it is almost certain that someone did flush the Koran. I know that if I were in their position I'd at least consider it, and I wouldn't really see a moral quandary about it either*. On the other hand Newsweek was a little hasty to print the story, and one of the rules of journalism is that you have to source even the obviously true stuff, otherwise you just end up printing conventional wisdom, which is of no help to anyone. Newsweek should not have printed it, but the fact that they did and were forced to retract does not make it untrue.

More importantly it does not make it relevant. What are we actually talking about here, people? A book in a toilet. This is the great human rights violation? If this were the worst thing our government had done in Guantanamo Bay I would drop to my knees and kiss the ground in thanks because it would demonstrate a remarkable level of restraint beyond what I thought we were capable of. It's a FLUSHED BOOK. What other devious tortures have we devised?

Guard: Hey Abdul, I've got some gum for you. What's your favorite flavor?

Abdul: I enjoy the spearmint.

G: TOO BAD! You get Juicy Fruit.

A: NO! It is too juicy!

G: Maybe if you want to talk about Al Qaeda I'll see about getting you some spearmint.

A: Never! I WILL RESIST THIS OUTRAGE!

G: Then your breath will never be fresh.

A: I will kill you, infidel.

G: One more outburst like that and I'm replacing your Diet Pepsi dispenser with TAB.

A: This is the greatest outrage in the history of mankind!

Or

Guard: AND, you won't find out what happens to Ryan unless you talk.

Hamad: But but but, will he ever get back together with Marissa?

G: I know the answer...

H: Tell me!

G: I'll NEVER tell!

H: Curse you America! Curse you and your O.C. cliffhangers! I'll see you in HELL!


Now I know that in the Middle East the Koran is considered an incredibly holy book and to insult or damage it is considered a grave act of blasphemy. Guess what. I don't give a fuck. It isn't America's job to worry about the irrational and stupid beliefs of other people. Muslims want the Koran to have special privilege in the world? Fuck them. They burn our flags, they shit on our holy books, they degrade and insult our way of life...fine...but turn about is fair play. If one of our detainees was forced to watch a Muslim captor shit on the bible, or the constitution, or whatever, I wouldn't care. I'd be glad he wasn't beheaded and consider him extremely lucky to have dealt with such minor offenses.

Then there are the riots that killed something like 16 people in response to the story. Some people are claiming that Newsweek should be held responsible for those.

Uhh...no?

Those people chose to riot and kill one another. They are ALWAYS rioting and killing each other. They are living in the stone age, and I mean that literally. They still stone rape victims over there, on a regular basis. If I consider the death penalty abhorrent for anyone, including a terrorist (which I do) then the thought of killing the victim makes my blood run cold (as I'm sure it does pretty much everyone else's). They kill one another at weddings by firing automatic weapons into the sky (sometimes the bullets come down and hit people, sometimes they take out low-flying planes, at least in areas where they actually have flight.) Blaming Newsweek for their rioting is like blaming Colonel Sanders for the Avian Flu.

The Muslim countries need to get their act together. They need to improve their economies and work on moderating their culture so their people don't behave like rabid dogs when given half an excuse. The U.S. is under no obligation to honor the Koran or think twice about their cultural standards. These are people who regularly call for the death of all Jews on their shitty television stations. If they can't take a book being flushed, well then they should be the next ones in the toilet. We are responsible for our unjust invasion of Iraq, for our mistreatment of prisoners under our care in Abu Ghraib AND Guantanamo, for our violation of people's civil rights, and for a host of other ills.

We are not responsible for censoring our press, nor for the actions of crazy people taken in response to an imagined insult to their imagined god. On that score our hands are clean.



*Waterboarding a prisoner? That's wrong, I would never. Stripping one naked and making him think I was going to electrocute him? If someone asked me to do that I'd call Amnesty International first chance I got. Flushing a book down the toilet without causing any physical harm to another person? Okay. Sure. Not a problem. Do we have a plumber on staff?
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Fans Fans Fans

One of the many things I do not understand in this world (Up there with teenyboppin' and why nobody makes a set of sunglasses that looks okay on my oversize head) is fandom. Now obviously I have entertainments and people whose work I enjoy and appreciate, but fandom, as defined by me, is something...else. It is something more intimate and much more intense. It's everything from born again Christians, to Bush worshipers, to those people who dress up as Anime characters and go to conventions WITHOUT a heavy sense of self-irony. It is the mighty man-faye. It exists all over Livejournal in communities where people say things like *squee* and relentlessly support their favorite celebrities or television programs or whatever. They write "Fanfiction," which is a concept that's sort of cute until you realize that some people write so much of it that they actually outproduce the actual programs on which the fictions are based. This is puzzling. With that much creative energy why not create your own world? Why build on someone else's work? And why all the gay sex? We may never know.

Fandom confuses me because I don't have the urge to worship that others seem to. I was never religious, for one, but I've also never seen any piece of entertainment or thought that's so spectacular that I just want to genuflect at the feet of its creators. I respect Plato enormously but were I to encounter him and find he could understand me I would have a large number of bones to pick with his political philosophy. The same thing with Aristotle, and, well, just about everyone else. In the modern world of people I could potentially meet someday I am tremendously impressed with Larry David, but his work is certainly not perfect and I'd probably offer critiques to it too. I certainly would not find myself lost in his piercing green eyes, drifting towards him as if in a trance. I would not reach out to touch the smooth smooth skin of his bald pate and stroke the wiry hair surrounding it, feeling the bristles between my fingers. I would not run my finger over his developing waddle and say "Oh Larry, let me show you a world of pleasure that up until now you have had only the faintest imaginings of." Why would I?

I also don't feel that I am on intimate terms with the people whose work I admire. Larry David is more Mr. David than Larry to me, and if I were ever to meet him I would probably feel formal rather than familiar. In the Daily Show community on LJ, which I was forced to leave after I got very very scared of the inhabitants, people referred to performers by their first names and just generally seemed to be TOTALLY INSANE.

I don't get it. Where's your pride? Where's your "I could do better" haughtiness? Where's your competitive spirit? Appreciation is important, but worship is useless and sets you back. Whether it's Jesus or John Stewart they are not worthy of anything but your respect and admiration.

Now celebrity sex obsessions are more understandable, though I lack those as well. What makes you think Angelina Jolie would be an appropriate partner besides the fact that she looks like 110 pounds of raw sex? Like I said, I get it to a degree, but can't you find someone more interesting and local? Lusting after the unobtainable and mass market manufactured just seems silly. MOCK power, don't let it stiffen the soldier in your pants.

I guess I just don't buy into any sort of deity culture, celebrity or otherwise. I consider myself a peer to every human being in the world and have confidence in myself up against anyone else. I think everyone should think that way. We're all peers, right? All humans with brains and feelings and vulnerabilities and the rest of it. Pedestals are for statues.

Cult of celebrity? Count me out.
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