Greenwald gets it right (again). The way the U.S. government redefines words willy-nilly, and the way editors and journalists all over the country follow suit like slavish little puppy-dogs, is ... well, Orwellian would be hackneyed, right? So let's say, Eric Arthur Blairesque.
Four out of ten Americans believe that Jesus will walk the earth again by 2050.
To pad my future retirement income, I'm making an offer that these prayerful U.S. Christians shouldn't want to pass up. Here it is: I will give the first believer who steps forward all my savings and earthly belongings, and I'll convert to Christianity, if Jesus returns in the next 40 years.
If the Son of God is still AWOL by 2050, however, you'll owe me or my heirs $25,000 (in 2050, that'll probably be just enough to buy a movie ticket or a latte — but not, I shudder to think, both).
If I lose, I will also make it my mission to tear every page out of every copy of Richard Dawkins' and Charles Darwin's books — with my teeth. If you lose, all you have to is include with your $25K check one measly letter in which you apologize for wasting so much of your life talking to sky ghosts, denying equal treatment to same-sex couples, and perpetrating other bits of silliness that you always knew in your heart would piss the historical Jesus off big-time.
How can you refuse? If you have faith — real faith — you can only win. Just think of it as a divine test. Get your application in soonest, as I'm sure many of your brethren will already be beating a path to my door.
I read a book to my daughter today, cover to cover. Like me, she was hooked after a few pages, which, considering the book in question, is really lovely for a girl who just turned eight — and who, in only the past couple of months, has graduated from The Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew mysteries to Roald Dahl classics like The BFG and Danny, the Champion of the World.
The book I'd bought for her is James Thurber's "The Wonderful O" (1957). It's for kids who don't mind wordplay, references to Greek mythology, and a couple of Shakespeare jokes. I know that sounds both terribly hoity and suspiciously toity, but so what if a lot of it goes over their heads the first few times? They'll still enjoy the zany malevolence of the pirates who take over Ooroo Island and then try to ban the letter O from the language, much to the consternation of the forlorn Otto Ott.
For the politically attuned, the book is also a marvelous satire of lawmaking and officialdom — so silly and brilliant it does Lewis Carroll proud.
Halfway through The Wonderful O, the beleaguered citizens learn that, according to legend, there are four O-words that stand above all, words they must never let fall into disuse. At a secret meeting, they try to figure it out.
"Hope is one," said Andreus.
"And love," said Andrea.
"And valor, I should think," the old man said. And then they tried to find the fourth, naming courage, thought, and reason, devotion, work, and worship.
"None of these is right," said Andrea. "I'll know it when I hear it." And so, until the setting of the moon, they tried out words with O — imagination and religion, dedication and decision, honor, progeny, and vision. ... And they spent the rest of the night searching for the greatest, trying youth and joy and jubilation, victory and exaltation, languor, comfort, relaxation, money, fortune, non-taxation, motherhood and domesticity, and many anotherhood and icity. But Andrea shook her lovely head at every word the people said, rejecting soul and contemplation, dismissing courtship and elation, and many anothership and ation.
Do you know the elusive fourth word, the one that Thurber obviously held higher than any? I know I'm a sap, but I felt my eyeballs sting a little when the author reveals what it is. Click here for the answer.
If you know a precocious kid (8-13), do him or her a favor. But do yourself a favor first, and read The Wonderful O before you gift it. It's an enriching, inspiring bk.
...came into the limelight in just the past few days, including one in Italy, where Moroccan immigrant El Ketaoui Dafani fatally stabbed daughter Sanaa in the throat while she was sitting in a car with her boyfriend Massimo De Biasio. De Biasio is not a Muslim. This fact enraged Sanaa's pious father and, in his warped-by-religion mind, gave him license to slaughter the girl.
These cases are the ones we know of. It's chilling to think how many times the victims just disappear, never to be heard from again (Amnesty International notes that "the majority of so-called honor killings go unreported"). Sometimes we belatedly learn of the women's fate when their graves are discovered.
For instance, in Turkey, earlier this year, police found
...Medine Memi's body in a sitting position with her hands tied, in a
two-metre deep hole in a chicken pen outside her house in Kahta town,
Adiyaman province, 40 days after she went missing. ... A
subsequent post mortem revealed that she had a significant amount of
soil in her lungs and stomach. ... "According to our findings, the girl, who had no bruises
on her body and no sign of narcotics or poison in her blood, was alive
and fully conscious when she was buried," one anonymous expert said.
She was buried alive by her own father and grandfather because they were "concerned" that she had befriended boys. The betrayal and panic and the horrible agony felt by Medine as her lungs filled with earth and chicken dung are just unimaginable. Words fail.
But who are we to judge, right? Allah willed it, the faithful say:
The Jordanian Islamic Action Front (IAF) issued a fatwa
that declared honor-killings are seen as favorable by Islam; male
relatives should punish their female relatives and not leave this duty
to the state. Ibrahim Zayd al-Kaylani, head of the IAF's Ifta'
committee, said that a man who restrains himself from committing an
honor killing, leaving this unpleasant burden to the government,
"negates the values of virility advocated by Islam."
And under orthodox interpretations of Islamic law, these killings are allowed, at least if they are carried out by the parents:
A manual of Islamic law certified as a reliable guide to Sunni
orthodoxy by Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni
Islam, says that "retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a
human being purely intentionally and without right." However, "not
subject to retaliation" is "a father or mother (or their fathers or
mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring's offspring." ('Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2).
Here are my previous (intemperate) thoughts on the absolute fucking shits who perpetrate this evil.
South African soccer fan David Makoeya was killed for wanting to switch the TV channel to a World Cup match. The murderers? His wife and kids, who preferred watching a gospel show. 'Cause nothing quite says God's love like banging a man's head against the wall until his skull cracks.
Swearers in Queensland now face a $100 fine per infraction. "Fuck that shit," I hear you say? That'll be $200 dollars, please. Or it would be if, through some unfortunate set of circumstances, you found yourself within the jurisdiction and earshot of a Queensland officer. That fine might still be preferable, though, to getting roughed up and falsely imprisoned by a Queensland cop for the crime of asking his name.
This is not going to be an eloquent post. Don't know about you, but rage shuts down my ability to choose my words carefully. So be it.
I hate the term 'honor killing.' Excuse me, but there is zero fucking honor in butchering a girl because she's gotten a little too uppity for her father's or brothers' Neanderthal tastes. Hey, Muslims of the world: It's beyond awful that this savagery occurs in your tribal societies thousands of miles from here; but bring your primitive bloodlust and your creepy notions of what it means to be a real man to our shores, and the awfulness will rain down on you. There will be blowback. Oh, there will be fucking blowback allright.
For your information, real men love their daughters more than life itself. Real men will do anything to stop them from getting hurt, and will, without ever a moment's thought, put their daughters' safety and well-being over antiquated, selfish notions of pride.
Muhammad and Waqas Parvez, Pakistani immigrants to Canada who killed 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez because she was reluctant to wear the hijab and had the gall to want a part-time job, are not men. They are shit; they are the reeking, rotting flotsam of a so-called faith that takes the brutal pronouncements of a delusional, child-fucking, seventh-century warrior-prophet, mixes them with the insane machismo prevalent in all clan-based cultures, then uses that toxic cocktail to justify bloodshed in the name of a very fucked-up brand of "morality."
I take outright pleasure from the fact that Muhammad Parvez, who is now 60, was just given a life sentence that will make him ineligible for parole for 18 years; he will most likely die behind bars. And if there is a God, I pray that Waqas will come out a broken man in a couple of decades, after he's served his too-short sentence, and that he'll be gaunt and spent from the forced daily poundings he'll be taking from his burly, tattoo-sporting, Aryan-Nation-worshipping cellmates. Please, God.
And just by the fucking way, the most chilling aspect of this case, and many like it, is not that these murdering sociopaths exist; it's that they get a free pass from so many of their fellow Muslims, who collectively insist (as they do here) that "the girl had it coming." All of these people — and, I should add, their multiculturalist enablers on the left* — are beneath contempt.
* Footnote: To some extent, those enablers include the Canadian prosecutors, who charged Muhammad and Waqas Parvez with second-degree murder even though the killing of Aqsa was indisputably premeditated. The lesser charge was brought, the Globe and Mailimplies, in recognition of the cultural differences that exist between the Parvez family and non-Muslim Canadians.
Preface:It's been ten years since Peter McWilliams died. Unwittingly, Peter gave this blog its name. His book Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do hit me like a ton of bricks; reading it was like coming home, an experience made all the more glorious because it was a home I never knew existed. Someone just started a web page in tribute to his life and work. Me, I'll remember Peter the way I always do, every year. I wrote the commentary below shortly after his death, and I ran it
in the magazine of which I was then the Editor — Advertising Age's Creativity.
I'm publishing it again in this spot, unchanged. It's an annual tip of the hat to a smart, creative,
caring, funny, decent man who was literally hounded to death by a
callous, Kafkaesque justice system. May it change for the better in our lifetime.
The Ad That Killed Its Maker
by Rogier van Bakel
When Peter McWilliams took out an ad, it killed him. Literally.
The ad, an open letter to the movie community, ran in Daily Variety
in December 1997. "Where is Hollywood’s answer ... to the ten million
marijuana arrests since 1972?" Peter asked. "Where is the Gentleman’s Agreement or To Kill a Mockingbird or Platoon
dramatizing the insane cruelty of the War on Drugs?" He also blasted
Drug Enforcement Administration officials as "arrogant" and
It wasn’t unfamiliar territory for Peter. In 1993, he’d published an unputdownable, thought-provoking tome called Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do — the Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country (updated in 1996, and available for free here, in electronic form). The book, which made it onto the New York Times
bestseller list, documented U.S. politicians’ attempts to legislate
what people may and may not see, read, and ingest. Peter launched a
particularly formidable argument against drug prohibition.
In 1996, when AIDS and cancer entered his life, he became an
advocate for medical marijuana, testifying before the National Academy
of Sciences and giving numerous media interviews. "As a recent cancer,
chemotherapy, and radiation survivor who uses medicinal marijuana to
keep down the anti-AIDS drugs that are keeping me alive," Peter wrote
in the Variety ad, "I can personally attest to marijuana’s anti-nausea effect."
Exactly seventeen days after the ad ran, the government responded the
only way it knows how: with a full-scale raid. Eight DEA agents, guns
drawn, stormed Peter’s house in Laurel Canyon, California, and
confiscated his computer, his backup drives, and various research
materials. Peter readily admitted to growing some marijuana for his own
medical use, "in the time-honored tradition of Washington, Jefferson,
and Timothy Leary."
The feds had no arrest warrant at the time of the raid, but they
finally came for him in July of 1998. The indictment against Peter made
much of the fact that as the publisher of Prelude Press, his own
publishing company where he employed eighteen people, Peter had given
an advance to an author for a book on medical marijuana. That writer, a
fellow medical-marijuana patient, used a portion of the money to grow
his own medicine. The feds saw Prelude Press as the source of the funds
the man had used to finance his little crop. So they treated Peter like
a drug kingpin.
It’s an interesting piece of logic. If a Microsoft engineer uses
some of his salary to visit a prostitute, should Bill Gates be arrested
on federal pandering charges?
More importantly, did Peter really break the law? Depends on whom you ask. California explicitly allows
the use of medical marijuana under Proposition 215, which voters passed
into California constitutional law in 1996. The federal government,
however, does not recognize a state's right to adopt its own drug
legislation. So what Peter did was perfectly legal in his own state; it
just didn’t sit well with some drugfighting hard-liners three thousand
miles away in Washington D.C., who decided to dispatch an assault team
to an increasingly frail AIDS and cancer patient.
One of the conditions of Peter's bail was a weekly urine test. Were
he to test positive for illicit drugs, he'd return to jail, pending his
trial. Besides, his mother (in her seventies) had put up her house as
collateral for the bond. The feds could seize her home and evict her if
Peter violated his bail terms. So Peter was forced to be sick as a dog
on most days — much sicker than he would have been if he'd been allowed
to smoke marijuana, a plant whose medical benefits are well-documented. Now frequently unable to hold down down his medication, Peter grew weaker and became wheelchair-bound.
Last month, when he was at home, taking a bath, the nausea overcame him
once more. He choked to death on his own vomit. He was 50 years old. He
died because the government wouldn't let him have a toke. Viewed
another way, he died because he had the temerity to run that ad.
The prosecutors commented they were "saddened" by Peter’s death.
No doubt, so are the smart, well-meaning creatives on Madison Avenue
who make ad campaigns for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America,
propagating a War on Drugs that is making more casualties by the day.