Monthly Archives: June 2012
I was worried there for a while. The narrative that the professional race industry and its subsidiaries across the spectrum of the American Left puts forth about what constitutes racism in the United States changes so often that I’m not sure from one day to the next whether or not I am a racist. But the latest missive from an authority no lesser than the Congressional Black Caucus has clarified the issue for me, and I have never been more relieved.
If I think Obama is “cool” and use the word to describe him, I am a racist (had I used the word to describe him when Ebony magazine and CNN did, I would have been fine). Logically, therefore, if I don’t think Obama is cool, I am not a racist. I’ve never really thought Obama was cool. Most of the time he bores me to sleep. So you might say I was a racist when Ebony/CNN thought it was ok to say that Obama was cool, since I didn’t find him cool then. Now, though, my racism has been revoked.
Of course, I may be jumping the gun. Logic is not exactly high on the priority list of people who manipulate emotions with hysterical rhetoric for raw political power. At some point, expressing one’s opinion about Barack’s uncoolness may well be considered racist again, or even simultaneously with a belief in his coolness. Both could be racist, or neither, in which case it might be racist not to have an opinion one way or the other. What will we do then?
We can always look to the emotional cues of our enlightened superiors in the political and media establishment. At a moment’s notice, we can, like the citizens of Oceania, change our opinion on the racist content or lack thereof in the notion that Obama is cool. We can hysterically denounce all those who hold the currently racist opinion one day, then rehabilitate ourselves when the non-racist opinion becomes the racist opinion the next.
What happens if we find ourselves far from a telescreen to tell us what to think and show us how to react to the latest meme? We find a way to believe that Obama is both cool and uncool at the same time. All we have to do is discover how to double-think, which is:
The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.
So there you have it. As diligent consumers of the mainstream American media, you should already have an advanced degree in the subject. Avoid the stigma of racism, which we have been psychologically programmed to fear more than the boubonic plague and nuclear annihilation, with vigilant double-think. If you don’t, you’re a racist.
On June 15, a book tied in with the For Greater Glory movie will be released by Ignatius Press. Bearing the same name as the movie, it is a history of the Cristero Movement. The author was recently interviewed by Zenit:
ZENIT: Neither a film nor a ZENIT interview is sufficient to explain all the historical intricacies of such a complex epoch. Still, could you give us a brief overview of the Cristero War?
Quezada: The Cristero War is a chapter in Mexico’s history in the 1920s, when thousands of Catholics answered this crucial question [of religious freedom] at the cost of their very lives. President Plutarco Calles launched a direct attack on the Catholic Church using articles from Mexico’s Constitution, which created this uprising and counter-revolution against the Mexican government during that time. The original rebellion was set off by the persecution of Roman Catholics and a ban on their public religious practices.
There are two important dates to point out here.
The persecution began on Aug. 1, 1926, when the government re-enacted the penal code and forced the closure of all Catholic churches throughout the entire country with its new anticlerical laws. However, the first coordinated uprising for religious freedom did not occur until Jan. 1, 1927.
It was not until mid June 1929 when the truce was officially signed, bringing an end to the Cristero War.
ZENIT: Is For Greater Glory a historically accurate film?
Quezada: Apart from some “artistic license” the film is essentially accurate.
ZENIT: The movie alludes to some discrepancy between the Vatican’s position regarding the religious persecution, and that of the Cristero fighters. Could you explain this?
Quezada: When the oppression was about to begin, the Vatican granted permission — requested by the Mexican bishops — to cease any Catholic religious services in order to avoid confrontations. Additionally, the Holy See wrote letters to the government requesting they abolish the Calles Law. The government ignored each request. As the war intensified, Rome continued to have direct communications with President Calles to ask for leniency. Not only were Vatican officials [in Mexico] dismissed, but diplomatic relations were broken off by the government. Lastly, Pope Pius XI wrote an encyclical letter to the clergy and the faithful of Mexico to give them courage and hope during this persecution. There was really not much else the Holy See could do. On Nov. 18, 1926, the Pope sent the encyclical letter Iniquis Afflictisque (On the Persecution of the Church in Mexico) to offer prayers and encouragement during this difficult time. Continue reading
The woman formerly known as beautiful and author at Huffington Post, Shannon Bradley-Colleary, had an article recently with the declarative title “Abstinence Got Me Pregnant.” It’s a “family planning” story meant to demonstrate that people should not be expected to follow a moral code when it comes to sexual intercourse, and probably many women (who don’t think about what words mean) can relate.
The author describes how she was raised by religious parents and a father that scared off boys while cleaning his gun, how she fell in love in college and “relinquished” her virginity unexpectedly on Cheez-It crumbs behind a couch in an off-campus apartment while “roommates farted and belched like cannon-fire in adjacent rooms,” how she began taking birth control pills and used them for the next five years as a “serial monogamist,” how after she had her heart broken and broke a few herself she decided to take a “leave of absence” and become abstinent, how a broken-hearted young man still pursued her with roses, poetry, and silly declarations of love, how she got pregnant and to her relief miscarried so she was “spared, making a choice” that might “haunt” her for the rest of her life, and finally how some ten years later she gave birth to two daughters with her husband “at just the right time, with exactly the right partner.” What does she credit for things working out well? Birth control, because abstinence got her pregnant.
Her point: “…sex should NOT BE a MORAL ISSUE, it should be a PRACTICAL ISSUE.” [Emphasis hers.]
She plans to take her daughters to Planned Parenthood when they are in high school because although she hopes “they will only give themselves to men who cherish them” she believes it is better to be “practical” and dispense with any “moral imperatives” so they won’t ever experience shame or blame. She concludes, “Knowledge is power.”
Take a deep breath, relax your face muscles, and let’s examine the logic of this statement because this is a serious issue that needs to be clarified. I once thought this way too, until I realized 1) everyone needs a moral code, and 2) words mean things.
Bishops, That is a Pretty Nice Tax Exemption You Have There. Wouldn’t Want Anything Bad to Happen to It.
Modern liberals are not noted for their subtlety. Case in point is Melinda Henneberger. A writer for the Washington Post, she is a liberal in good standing and a Catholic, a graduate from Notre Dame in 1980, who has written for the New York Times, Commonweal, a Catholic journal for those who like a dollop of incense with their leftism, and was a contributing editor for Newsweek, the magazine that is almost worth the buck its latest owner paid for it. Henneberger is pretty ticked at the Church in regard to what she perceives as political attacks on the South Side Messiah. Her recent column on this subject is deserving of a fisk, and I am happy to oblige:
The Catholic Church practically invented politics, so it may be asking too much to expect American bishops to steer completely clear of affairs of state.
Good, a snide start illustrates the fury with which this column was written as the good ship Obama begins to take on water. Liberal writers are usually at their nastiest when they start to perceive that a political pasting of Biblical proportions is on the way for their team
There are times when they couldn’t if they wanted to, and they think this is one of those times.
Ah, but you know better, don’t you Ms. Henneberger?
The upcoming “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign to push back against this administration’s health-care mandate for contraceptives, however, sounds so much like a “Fortnight to Defeat Barack Obama” that I’ve gotten to wondering what our prelates would have to do to cost the church its tax-exempt status. (IRS rules are pretty clear that churches have to give up their exemption if they campaign for or against a political candidate.)
Please, that paragraph is a bad joke. Democrat candidates for decades have campaigned in black churches and many of those same churches are quite forthright in their political advocacy. Think of the Reverend Wright, the man who Obama, hilariously, claims led him to Christ, and his sermons which were merely long political diatribes. The IRS has long turned a blind eye to this type of blatant political activity.
That is not going to happen, and I’m not suggesting it should. But as a thought exercise, what would it take to provoke such a thing?
She is certainly right that it is not going to happen unless the Democrat party has a true death wish.
If a bishop compared Obama to, I don’t know, Hitler and Stalin, would that be campaigning against him?
Oh, but wait, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria tried that already. Jenky wasn’t exactly a household name before that tirade.
We can see from the above that whatever Ms. Henneberger studied at Notre Dame, reading comprehension was not high on the list. What Bishop Jenky actually said was:
In the late 19th century, Bismark waged his “Kultur Kamp,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.
Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.
Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgement seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.
This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries — only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.
No Catholic ministry – and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries – can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions.
What Bishop Jenky was doing Ms. Henneberger is called issues advocacy and is perfectly permissible under IRS regulations. Nice try however to ignore the obvious.
What if, however, the best-known bishop in the country — and among the most likeable — said “the White House is strangling the Catholic Church”?
No again; Cardinal Tim Dolan of New York did that, too. And Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland said we have reason to fear “despotism” under Obama.
What Cardinal Dolan actually said:
The exemption given to the church is so strangling and so narrow and it’s also presumptuous that a bureau of the federal government is attempting to define for the church the extent of its ministry and ministers,” said Dolan on CBS’s “This Morning.”
What Bishop Cordileone actually said:
My own experience, I sort of backed into this religious liberty debate by my involvement with her Siamese twin–the definition of marriage in the law. And I got swept up in that, not exclusively, but in large degree because I was enlightened by Dr. [Robert] George and other people of his kind as to the erosion of the rights of religious institutions to serve the broader community in accord with their moral principles precisely because of this issue. As well, the rights of individuals to have their freedom of conscience respected.
When I saw what was happening my eyes were opened, it made me fear that we could be starting to move in the direction of license and despotism.”
Once again, both examples of issues advocacy.
(Even Pope Benedict XVI has joined the fray – though the former Joseph Ratzinger is really not much of a fray-joiner. “Many of you, he told American bishops, “have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection…with regard to cooperation in instrinsically evil practices.’’ Abortion, he means. Birth control, which is barred under church teaching, must be provided free to employees of Catholic institutions as part of their health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. Where does abortion come in? Some opponents argue that the Part B ‘morning-after pill,’ which is also provided as part of the bill, is an abortifacient, though science doesn’t support that claim.)
Ah, how Pope Benedict does set the teeth on edge of “progressive” Catholics! Go here to read the Pope’s warning of the erosion of religious liberty in this country. Once again, the Pope’s remarks would be considered issues advocacy. The fact that Ms. Henneberger brings up these remarks indicates the depth of her ignorance on the subject of political activities deemed impermissible by the IRS regarding churches. Continue reading
Twenty-five years ago, on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged Premier Gorbachev of the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall. Just a little over two years later, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall did fall, a casualty of the movement for liberation in Eastern Europe, started by Solidarity in Poland, and supported throughout the Eighties by President Reagan and Pope John Paul II. Those who were not alive during those days, or too young to remember the events, I suspect have a difficult time understanding how truly miraculous those events seemed to those of us who grew up during the Cold War. The Soviet Union and the Communist regimes it imposed in Eastern Europe seemed like a permanent fixture of the World. Reagan however, never believed this.
In a speech in the House of Commons on June 8, 1982, President Reagan made this startling prediction:
Since 1917 the Soviet Union has given covert political training and assistance to Marxist-Leninists in many countries. Of course, it also has promoted the use of violence and subversion by these same forces. Over the past several decades, West European and other Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, and leaders have offered open assistance to fraternal, political, and social institutions to bring about peaceful and democratic progress. Appropriately, for a vigorous new democracy, the Federal Republic of Germany’s political foundations have become a major force in this effort.
We in America now intend to take additional steps, as many of our allies have already done, toward realizing this same goal. The chairmen and other leaders of the national Republican and Democratic Party organizations are initiating a study with the bipartisan American political foundation to determine how the United States can best contribute as a nation to the global campaign for democracy now gathering force. They will have the cooperation of congressional leaders of both parties, along with representatives of business, labor, and other major institutions in our society. I look forward to receiving their recommendations and to working with these institutions and the Congress in the common task of strengthening democracy throughout the world.
We plan to consult with leaders of other nations as well. There is a proposal before the Council of Europe to invite parliamentarians from democratic countries to a meeting next year in Strasbourg. That prestigious gathering could consider ways to help democratic political movements.
This November in Washington there will take place an international meeting on free elections. And next spring there will be a conference of world authorities on constitutionalism and self-government hosted by the Chief Justice of the United States. Authorities from a number of developing and developed countries — judges, philosophers, and politicians with practical experience — have agreed to explore how to turn principle into practice and further the rule of law.
At the same time, we invite the Soviet Union to consider with us how the competition of ideas and values — which it is committed to support — can be conducted on a peaceful and reciprocal basis. For example, I am prepared to offer President Brezhnev an opportunity to speak to the American people on our television if he will allow me the same opportunity with the Soviet people. We also suggest that panels of our newsmen periodically appear on each other’s television to discuss major events.
Now, I don’t wish to sound overly optimistic, yet the Soviet Union is not immune from the reality of what is going on in the world. It has happened in the past — a small ruling elite either mistakenly attempts to ease domestic unrest through greater repression and foreign adventure, or it chooses a wiser course. It begins to allow its people a voice in their own destiny. Even if this latter process is not realized soon, I believe the renewed strength of the democratic movement, complemented by a global campaign for freedom, will strengthen the prospects for arms control and a world at peace.
I have discussed on other occasions, including my address on May 9, the elements of Western policies toward the Soviet Union to safeguard our interests and protect the peace. What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term — the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history, as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.
Run of the mill politicians deal with crises as best they can, usually on an ad hoc basis. True statesmen have a vision that allows them to shape the future, and to leave the World better than they found it. Reagan was a statesman. Here is the text of his Tear Down This Wall speech: Continue reading
I never use the term “pro-choice” but always use the term “pro-abort” to designate those who are perfectly fine with the unborn having no legal protection from contract killing in the womb. Here is an example of why I do so:
Melissa Clouthier, a conservative blogger, attended the panel and reported on how one member urged attendees to applaud women who had killed their unborn children in abortions:
In an act of public bullying, one of the three speakers, Darcy Burner of Washington (the others being Elizabeth Warren and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii), asked women who had had an abortion to stand up in front of other attendees. It was difficult to estimate the number of women as they were sprinkled through out the audience. They stood alone while Burner admonished the attendees to hold their applause.
Then Burner asked the others seated in the audience to stand and give these women a standing ovation. The audience complied enthusiastically. I sat during this spectacle.
Burner said,”If you are a woman in this room, and statistically this is true of about 1/3 of the women in this room, if you’re a woman in this room who has had an abortion and is willing to come out about it, please stand up.”
She continued, “Now, if you are willing to stand with every woman who is willing to come out about having had an abortion, please stand up.” Nearly everyone stood.
Burner said, ”This is how we change the stories in people’s past. We need to make it okay for women to come out about the choices they make.”
The left will say that they’re not pro-abortion, they’re pro-choice or they’re pro-women. It was clear, though, that abortion itself was elevated as something good and something to be celebrated. The speaker and the audience was honoring women who had an abortion as though the action was an objectively good thing. Continue reading
The hard working film mavens of Just Seen It give For Greater Glory an enthusiatic review in the video above. It is one of the more perceptive reviews of the film that I have seen. The two reviewers come at the film from a purely secular viewpoint and had little if any knowledge of the Cristero War prior to viewing it. The message of religious freedom that the film conveys is obviously the most important part of the film, but even leaving that aside the movie is a masterpiece of the filmmaker’s craft.
Hattip to Don the Kiwi for reminding me of this anniversary. Seventy years ago on June 12, 1942 the Marines landed in New Zealand. They were the vanguard of some 20,000 Marines who would train in New Zealand before going on to hellish battlefields throughout the Pacific, including Tarawa featured in the above video. In the memoirs of the Pacific War that I have read, US troops stationed in New Zealand and Australia viewed their time there as paradise and the Aussies and the Kiwis as some of the friendliest and most hospitable people on the planet. Some US servicemen settled in both nations after the war, and some 15,000 Aussie and 1500 Kiwi women went to America as war brides. Continue reading
In a National Review Online article, Ann Carey summarizes the mainstream media’s reaction to and fallout from the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
In short, the reporting reveals “ignorance/laziness/bias.”
No surprise there, because this lack of reporting of the facts furthers the mainstream media’s ongoing “David versus Goliath” narrative. Except, of course in this version, it’s “All of those poor, disrespected, and enslaved Sisters versus THE male Vatican apparatchiks.”
One difficulty with this narrative, at least as it’s being reported by the mainstream media, is that most of those Sisters don’t belong to LCWR. According to Carey:
The grassroots sisters in religious orders do not belong to LCWR, and have neither voice nor vote in the organization. Many of these sisters have told me they resent the LCWR claiming it represents them.
Then, too, Carey points out that most of the mainstream media has ignored the serious doctrinal problems identified by the CDF, indicating a “rejection of faith.” These include: undermining the doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture as well as embracing radical feminism. As Carey notes:
These are all major doctrines of the Catholic Church, not just “basic, nonheretical questions about gender equality in the church,” as the Times editorial claims.
The Motley Monk notes that in this narrative—pitting the Church’s mission against a secularist agenda—the mainstream media doesn’t seem to be much interested in reporting the facts. After all, the ideological target is the Church, which may explain why those facts aren’t being reported.
Worse yet, Carey thinks, the truth may be that those who are reporting the story may not have even read the CDF’s documentation.
To read Ann Carey’s article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
I am shocked, shocked to learn that the Obama administration cares as little about religious freedom abroad as it does religious freedom at home:
The U.S. State Department removed the sections covering religious freedom from the Country Reports on Human Rights that it released on May 24, three months past the statutory deadline Congress set for the release of these reports.
The new human rights reports–purged of the sections that discuss the status of religious freedom in each of the countries covered–are also the human rights reports that include the period that covered the Arab Spring and its aftermath.
Thus, the reports do not provide in-depth coverage of what has happened to Christians and other religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East that saw the rise of revolutionary movements in 2011 in which Islamist forces played an instrumental role.
For the first time ever, the State Department simply eliminated the section of religious freedom in its reports covering 2011 and instead referred the public to the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report – a full two years behind the times – or to the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which was released last September and covers events in 2010 but not 2011. Continue reading
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air saw a rough cut of For Greater Glory back in March, so I was curious to read his review, and here it is:
For Greater Glory tells the story of the Mexican government’s attempt to stamp out the Catholic Church under President Calles (played by Ruben Blades), and the uprising that followed, a civil war that killed 90,000 people. Calles attempted to enforce the anti-clerical laws put into Mexico’s 1917 socialist Constitution by demanding the expulsion of foreign priests, banning public demonstrations of faith (including the wearing of clerical garb), and making criticism of the government by priests punishable by five years in prison. A boycott organized by the Catholic Church prompted Calles to get even tougher, and open war broke out. Enrique Gorostieta (Andy Garcia), a general who had fought for the winning side in the revolution, chose to lead the Cristero rebellion, and the film focuses mainly on Gorostieta, two of his lieutenants, and a young boy named Jose Sanchez del Rio, who was later beatified by the Catholic Church.
Back in March, I was fortunate enough to see a rough cut of the film, and wrote a semi-official review at the time (from which I borrowed the synopsis above) with the caveat that I would wait to see the theatrical release. Last night, my wife and I saw it in its limited Twin Cities release, and the final cut has significantly improved the narrative flow of the film. One of the few areas of concern I had from the rough cut was the difficulty in following the constant shifting between subplots in the first half of the film, and some ambiguity about the intent in some scenes. Those problems were resolved nicely, with additional footage in some areas and smoother transitions throughout. Continue reading
When Corpus Christi rolls around I always think of Saint Thomas Aquinas and his great eucharistic hymn Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium written by Saint Thomas at the command of Pope Urban IV to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi instituted by the Pope in 1264. It says something vastly significant about the Church that perhaps the greatest intellect of all time, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was not only a Doctor of the Church, but also capable of writing this magnificent hymn.
The last portion of the hymn, Tantum Ergo, has vast significance for my family. My wife, who is a far better Catholic in my estimation than I am, is a convert. A Methodist when we married, she converted to the Church a few years later. She had questions regarding the real presence, and this line from Tantum Ergo resolved them: Faith tells us that Christ is present, When our human senses fail. When our kids came along she would whisper at the Consecration to them: First it’s bread, now it’s Jesus. First it’s wine, now it’s Jesus.
Here is Saint Thomas on the Real Presence: Continue reading
Something for the Weekend. Some of the reactions to my post with the ABBA song Waterloo in it were so, I think the term I will use is “special”, that I decided that S.O.S. was warranted. Don’t make me bring out Dancing Queen! 🙂
When the Lying Worthless Political Hack, aka Nancy Pelosi ex Speaker of the House, opens her mouth in regard to her purported faith, The Catholic Church, you know the results are going to be unintentionally hilarious:
CNSNews.com asked Pelosi, who is Catholic, whether she supported her church in the lawsuits it has filed, which argue that the administration’s regulation violates the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.
“What about the 43 Catholic institutions [that] have now sued the administration over the regulation that requires them to provide contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacients in their health care plans?” CNSNews.com asked. “They say that violates their religious freedom. Do you support the Catholic Church in their lawsuits against the administration?”
“Well, I don’t think that’s the entire Catholic Church,” Pelosi responded. “Those people have a right to sue, but I don’t think they’re speaking ex cathedra for the Catholic Church.
“And there are people in the Catholic Church, including some of the bishops, who have suggested that some of this may be premature,” Pelosi said.
It is unclear why Pelosi would have pointed out that when an archbishop—such as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. or Archbishop Carlson of St. Louis—sues the federal government in actions designed to protect the First Amendment rights of American Catholics he is not speaking “ex cathedra.”
“Ex cathedra” refers to the infallible authority that Catholics believe the pope exerts when he makes a formal and solemn declaration on matters of faith and morals. It is not a term to describe lawsuits the church files in civilian courts.
In a 1993 audience, Pope John Paul II quoted the first Vatican Council in explaining the Catholic understanding of the “ex cathedra” authority of the pope.
“When the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in exercising his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians he defines with his supreme apostolic authority that a doctrine on faith and morals is to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, he enjoys that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining a doctrine on faith and morals,” said the Vatican Council.
The Catholic teachings that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong—the basis for the suits that the archdioceses, dioceses, universities, schools and charitable organizations have brought against the Obama administration–are in fact inalterable teachings that the church says are rooted in natural law. Continue reading
When I was a boy I devoured science fiction, and I still read quite a bit half a century later. Ray Bradbury, who died at 91 on June 5th, was not one of my favorite writers when I was young. A bit too complex and little if any of the space opera that I enjoyed so much. However, even then I knew that what I was reading in “Dandelion Wine” or “The Martian Chronicles” was writing of a very high order indeed. In my teen years I came across “Something Wicked This Way Comes“, and this passage has always stayed with me:
Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles & smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he’s covering up. He’s had his fun & he’s guilty. And all men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors & smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit appetites. Hear a man too loudly praising others & look to wonder if he didn’t just get up from the sty. On the other hand, that unhappy, pale, put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt & sin, why, often that’s your good man with a capital G, Will. For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it & sometimes break in two. I’ve known a few. You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog. I suppose it’s thinking about trying to be good makes the crack run up the wall one night. A man with high standards, too, the least hair falls on him sometimes wilts his spine. He can’t let himself alone, won’t let himself off the hook if he falls just a breath from grace.
Bradbury was a native of Waukegan, Illinois, his family eventually moving to Los Angeles. A child of the Depression, Bradbury lacked the funds to go to college and instead educated himself in libraries as he pursued a career as a writer. For ten years he visited libraries three days a week. He wrote every day, a trait he recommended to all writers. (It certainly is a handy habit for a blogger!) He endured endless rejections and kept pecking away on rented typewriters until he became not only a financially successful writer, but, much more importantly, a good one.
Although Bradbury is known as a science fiction writer, Bradbury rejected the label, holding that almost all his fiction was better described as fantasy, and I tend to agree with him. In any case, he is the last survivor of the Golden Age of Science Fiction to pass beyond our mortal sphere, and that thought leaves me sad.
In a field dominated by liberals, Bradbury was a fairly outspoken conservative. He gave the execrable Michael Moore hell when he named one of his idiot bait films Fahrenheit 9/11. Go here to read some of his unvarnished opinions on some of our recent presidents.
His masterpiece is widely regarded as Fahrenheit 451, a cautionary tale of a future totalitarian regime with a friendly face that bans books. For a book lover like Bradbury there could be no greater crime:
The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They’re Caesar’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.’
The book, which came out in 1953, has several prophetic passages: Continue reading
One of the professional requirements of being an attorney, especially an attorney engaging in litigation, is developing a tough hide when it comes to criticism. Most of my brethren and sistren of the bar develop such hides. Alas, some do not:
Alan M. Dershowitz’s Perspective: State Attorney Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case, recently called the Dean of Harvard Law School to complain about my criticism of some of her actions.
She was transferred to the Office of Communications and proceeded to engage in a 40-minute rant, during which she threatened to sue Harvard Law School, to try to get me disciplined by the Bar Association and to file charges against me for libel and slander.
She said that because I work for Harvard and am identified as a professor she had the right to sue Harvard.
When the communications official explained to her that I have a right to express my opinion as “a matter of academic freedom,” and that Harvard has no control over what I say, she did not seem to understand.
She persisted in her nonstop whining, claiming that she is prohibited from responding to my attacks by the rules of professional responsibility — without mentioning that she has repeatedly held her own press conferences and made public statements throughout her career.
Her beef was that I criticized her for filing a misleading affidavit that willfully omitted all information about the injuries Zimmerman had sustained during the “struggle” it described. She denied that she had any obligation to include in the affidavit truthful material that was favorable to the defense.
She insisted that she is entitled to submit what, in effect, were half truths in an affidavit of probable cause, so long as she subsequently provides the defense with exculpatory evidence.
She should go back to law school, where she will learn that it is never appropriate to submit an affidavit that contains a half truth, because a half truth is regarded by the law as a lie, and anyone who submits an affidavit swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Before she submitted the probable cause affidavit, Corey was fully aware that Zimmerman had sustained serious injuries to the front and back of his head. The affidavit said that her investigators “reviewed” reports, statements and “photographs” that purportedly “detail[ed] the following.” Continue reading