Saturday, March 10, 2007

Words, words, words

Remember when Bush promised to fire anyone involved in the Libby/Valerie Plame scandal? Then as the evidence began to mount that it was his own people manipulating information he rephrased that and said he would “deal appropriately” with wrongdoers?

Pointing out the lack of correspondence between what Bush says and what is true is like shooting fish in a barrel. The nation’s First Politician even has his brain in an external hard disk named Karl Rove, a man who works full time to press meaning into the service of power.

What “means” anything anyway, to a politician?

In Japan, where thousands of girls were pressed into service as prostitutes during World War II by a well-organized and rational modern army (the reason given was to keep the soldiers from rampaging on civilian populations), that fact is now being denied once again by the country’s prime minister. Japanese leaders know which side of their rice balls contains the fish. Like John McCain, who goes lips all a-pucker to kiss butt at Bob Jones University, Abe, like his predecessors, knows that without the fascist right in Japan his hold on power is tenuous. Like in the U.S., where apathy about politics keeps most people blind, the one-eyed snakes call the shots.

So Abe comes out and says it never happened. Nope. Didn’t do it. Some private company may have done some bad things, but the government of Japan was not involved. Bullshit so deep you need rubber to your armpits to wade through it.

Same as with the Yasukuni Shrine insults to China and Korea, when each time a Prime Minister visits the shrine to Tojo and other war criminals people hit the streets in Beijing and Seoul, denial of the sex slave issue has released a barrage of criticism from around the world. This time the U.S. is getting involved, with editorials from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle pointing the finger of shame at Japan. Stay tuned to see how Abe pulls the Japanese trick of saying he was quoted out of context.

Oh, wait. It’s already happening. “My remarks have been twisted in a sense and reported overseas, which further invites misunderstanding.” To Bush, black means white. To Abe, misunderstanding means being caught in a barefaced lie.

Best illustration of the moment, though, of how you can hang words on strings and make them dance comes not from a head of state, but from one of the attack dogs of the American right, Ann Coulter. On March 2, addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Coulter tosses out this goodie. "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards," she said. "But it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards."

Coulter’s insults would now fill a book. In fact they do. Several books, including her latest best-seller, Godless. Remember her reference to Kristen Breitweiser, Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg and Patty Casazza, four women who lost their husbands on 9/11 and demanded an investigation into possible U.S. government failure to anticipate the attack? “Witches of East Brunswick (New Jersey)," Ann Coulter called them. "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much.'' That’ll teach them to question the Decider.

And the doctors killed by Christian terrorists at abortion clinics? “Those few abortionists were shot, or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure with a rifle performed on them.”

Read the blogs and you see the words flying in all directions, some about the just plain viciousness of this woman, and many defending her. Godless reached number one on both Amazon and The New York Times bestseller lists.

People like it that she kicks butt, as we’re so fond of saying nowadays. “So I don't like Edwards, but I think Ann should have split the difference and called him a maggot. This way you get five sixths of the word and you get none of the headaches,” says Dennis Miller on Sean Hannity.,2933,257720,00.html

“Oh give it up,” says one friend. You only encourage them to talk about it.
“Organize, protest, demand,” says another. Apathy is the worst disease on the planet.

I think the evil of the current practice of fearless offensiveness will run its course. I’m guessing that Ann Coulter functions like pornography, or caffeine or television – if you’ve got your shit together and know who you are, she doesn’t hurt you if you don’t let her in. Ann Coulter hurts vulnerable people, and that’s not nice, but ultimately, I think, her endless insistence that she’s just writing satire turns more people against her than it creates fans. The tide has turned in awareness of how much crap gay people put up with, and it’s quite possible her faggot remark will hasten the rise in consciousness. In addition to “give it up” and “organize, protest!” there is also “wait, wait – it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

We’re already moving on to greener pastures. Jerry Falwell and James Dobson now think Newt Gingrich is a fine fellow because he fessed up to cheating on his second wife all the hypocritical while he was pointing the finger at the Bill Clinton for his Monika Lewinsky monkey-business. After all, Falwell says, referring to his ability to support Reagan despite his being divorced, “We wisely made allowance for God’s forgiveness.” The three frontrunners for president in the party of family values are all divorced, two of them twice; the three Democratic frontrunners are all married to their only spouses.

That’s cute.

One of Ann Coulter’s supporters suggests “faggot” has many meanings. Like “bundle of sticks.” And “we shouldn’t condemn her until we learn which meaning she intended.”

And Ann Coulter suggests that she wouldn’t insult gays by comparing them to John Edwards.

And the stupidest man in America calls himself wise.

“When I use a word, “ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is, “said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Actually, Humpty Dumpty’s probably wrong there. That’s not all. There’s always more.

I think Jean-Paul Sartre figured it out. Hell is other people.

But only because they do such things to words.

March 10, 2007

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