Friday, June 30, 2017

Flashback Friday: America the damned?

My own opinion is that things are slightly better now in the United States than they were a couple of years ago, when I originally wrote this piece. There's no hiding the bad, to be sure (as I wrote yesterday), and the culture is, if anything, increasingly decadent, but it could be worse - Donald Trump is no savior, but he's a hope, and at least he's not Hilary Clinton. And maybe, just maybe, this country's descent into Hell might be slowed down just long enough for a miracle. Who knows - we might even watch 1776 this year.

The Fourth of July used to be a special day for me. For a couple of years, I was the chair of the 4th of July parade in Richfield, Minnesota, and in the years before and after that it was always a treat to go to a parade.  We lived for the fireworks show at night; in addition to the shows on the Fourth, Bloomington had a show on the evening of the 3rd; if the weather was nice we drove to the top level of a nearby parking ramp, where we'd listen to the radio and eat popcorn while waiting for it to get dark enough for the show to begin.  The Fourth itself meant movies, almost in the same way that Christmas does - The Music Man, with Robert Preston, and my favorite musical of all time, 1776.  Yes, those were good times.

It's been a few years now since I've paid the Fourth any attention at all, and this year will be no exception.  I can't celebrate it anymore, because in my opinion there's nothing to celebrate. Over the course of these last years, we've seen America go straight to Hell, and last week's obscene Supreme Court decision just emphasizes the fact.  It's not only the decision itself, disordered as it is; it's this whole idea that the American Experiment has finally come to an end.  States' rights are going, if not gone; a relentless political correctness, from which dissent is not tolerated, governs our public discourse, as companies and special interest groups increasingly punish people simply for expressing their own thoughts; religious freedoms are not only done away with but scoffed at; police forces are increasingly militarized; in the name of national security, the Federal government becomes more and more intrusive in our lives; our very history is either forgotten or airbrushed.  Increasingly the world revolves around international financiers, investors more concerned with the bottom line than the High Altar.  To them it is money that makes the world go around, not the laws of gravity.  They've succeeded in reducing man to a statistic in a budget, a mere number that represents not a human soul but a profit/loss statement.  To them things such as gay rights are ideas to be pandered to; they see them not as troubled individuals but consumers with money to spend, and that's the only kind of morality that matters to them.  The poet Allen Ginsburg, in his epic Howl, called it Moloch, as is so evocatively illustrated here:

And who is there to turn to?  Not the humans running the Church; as rights are stripped away and depravities are legalized, we get lectures on climate change. Not political parties: the leftist Democrats, held captive by fanatical extremists, are the driving force behind many of these changes, while the timid Republicans, more interested in retaining power than doing anything with it, stand idly by.  Besides, the parties are just flip sides of the same coin anyway; they both want our money, the only difference being what they plan to do with it.

Man, that is depressing, isn't it?

We're all to blame for it, in a way, thanks to Original Sin.  We've allowed marriage to be corrupted through our own actions, just as we've played our own roles elsewhere.  There's more to it than that, of course; the Devil is alive and well in this world, in these United States, and he's finding many a willing disciple.  This doesn't mean we're helpless, though.  The pessimistic (but realistic) Rod Dreher has advocated what he calls the "Benedict Option," which involves groups of orthodox believers gathering into what might be called community support groups, where they exist to strengthen each other's faith, families and future.  It's not a retreat from the world, as some would have it, but a circling of the wagons.  And it's necessary because, as Dreher puts it, things are not going to get better.  Others advocate a more activist approach, attaching the issue head-on and refusing to be pushed around.  Still others think things can be turned around by electing the right individuals, that America at its heart is still a conservative nation.  The number who believe in that last category grows smaller and smaller, and if you're inclined to believe it I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to discuss with you.

In short, America seems to have devolved into a Godless, licentious nation, consumed with hedonism, basing everything on feelings rather than any kind of logical thought.  Not the sex you want to be?  Easy - just change.  Feel like marrying two or three other people?  Well, why not?  Think killer whales are human?  They probably are.  If you even bother to believe in God, you can create Him in whatever Image you want, knowing that He just wants you to be "happy," whatever that means nowadays.  What's frightening is not the question of where it all ends; it's that, deep in our hearts, we already know what the answer is.  It's not just America, of course, but the whole world.  The whole world isn't celebrating July 4th, however, and I'm not sure how we can, either.

In this atmosphere, watching a movie such as 1776 where we witness the birth of the republic, seeing what all these men were willing to risk their lives for, and then to look at what that cause has become, is beyond depressing.  To see an immoral lifestyle legalized (in the process overturning state laws passed by citizens) by a group of nine unelected officials, the same group (if not the same individuals) responsible for legalizing the murder of unborn human beings, all based on supposed rights that can't be found in the Constitution - well, if I was one who cried, I'd have shed more than one tear over these last few years.

I mentioned above that what's really scary about this is that in our hearts we know where it all leads.  A priest, talking about the various natural disasters that have befallen California recently, remarked that "When you keep giving God the finger, pretty soon he's going to grant your wish and leave you alone."  It's tempting on the one hand to look at anything bad that happens and see in it the finger of God, just as it's tempting to look at those same events and decry the idea that God would punish people indiscriminately, the innocent as well as the guilty.  But as we're reminded in Matthew 5:45, it rains on the just and the unjust.  The fact that there may have been innocent people living in Sodom and Gomorrah did not save the cities from being destroyed.  In fact, the Bible is replete with natural disasters as a sign of God's displeasure.

Speaking of which, it's worth noting that while some conservatives today suggest God is withdrawing His protection of America as a once-special country, there are others who would point out that America was founded on dubious propositions in the first place.  Such are the probing questions asked in Christopher Ferrara's provocative book Liberty, the God That Failed, which suggests that from the very beginning, liberty was a chimera, "the false god of a new political order."  Much the same message can be found in Hans-Herman Hoppe's Democracy: The God That Failed,  So perhaps we've been thumbing our noses at God this whole time, and that the Hell we're going through was predestined to happen at some time or another; it's just our lot that it's happening in our lifetimes.

And yet - it's all been part of God's plan that we are alive here, now.  There's obviously something we're meant to do, some role we're intended to play.  It's not likely we'll be able to determine that on our own, which means we have to keep our eyes and ears open and our prayers constant.  We must live lives that are good and pious, to the best of our abilities.  We must try as best we can to influence those close to us: friends, family, neighbors, workmates.

Most of all, I think, we must realize that we cannot be both Christians and Americans.  We can no longer live this hybrid, hyphenated life.  We give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, following the words and examples of Jesus, but we can no longer excuse what America does simply because it is America.  We pray for our country because patriotism is, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, a virtue, but we cannot go down with the ship - instead, we must head for the lifeboat created by Our Savior for our protection.

So in this weekend of rote patriotism, when for some of us there seems nothing left worth celebrating, try to remember that the things we truly celebrate are those things that are scorned by the rest of the world.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ reminded us thusly: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

That reward is greater than any nation, any flag, any political or judicial victory.  It is the hope which we carry to ward off despair, the true joy that protects the soul from depression, the light that shines in the darkness.  If indeed America is beyond salvation, then damned she will be; our victory will be greater than that.

Originally published July 3, 2015

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Step one in getting rid of the racial divide: get rid of race

Those commercials you see on TV all the time are a scam, according to the wicked satirist Joe Bob Briggs, because - and here is the scam part of it - race doesn't exist.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe for a second that these tests mean anything. If you believe that DNA patterns are so historically accurate that you can discriminate between, say, Ukrainian origins and Tatar origins—it depends on which Mongol horde in which century pillaged which village, right?—then you must also believe that the guys examining your cheek saliva in Twin Falls, Idaho, have an encyclopedic knowledge of human migration patterns that are still considered mysterious by experts at the British Museum.

But what I do believe is that something did occur several millennia ago, 59 miles southwest of Baghdad, at Babel, site of the most ostentatious tower in the world before it was surpassed by Trump Tower. Whatever happened at Babel may not be exactly what the Jewish scribes describe in Genesis 11, but some series of cataclysms caused the one race to disperse into many races, or at least appear to be many races.

But even if you do not believe this—even if you believe, like John C. Calhoun and David Duke and Louis Farrakhan and Baruch Goldstein, in the purity of certain races—aren’t we finding out that Americans are so genetically messed up that everybody is multiracial?

We’re mongrels and we know it.

It's that business about America being a melting pot - remember that from your grade school history books? Probably not; I doubt they teach anything that politically incorrect anymore. But it does seem as if so much of what we face in this country today is based on fault lines created over the centuries by what have now become artificial distinctions. What's the answer? Here, the satirist Briggs becomes provocative - and also, I think, serious:

So here’s an idea. What if we declared, by law, that all Americans are the same race? We’ll call the race “American.” It’s a nationality, it’s an ethnic group, and it’s a race.

As part of this law, we would make it illegal to subclassify or hyphenate anyone. Therefore, no more Asian-Americans, no more African-Americans, not even any Native Americans, because that word would become redundant.

Wouldn’t this be the most egalitarian thing we’ve done since 1787?

Provocative indeed. Briggs goes on to savage the ways in which current (and future) census policies not just recognize, but exacerbate, these divides, which is like prodding the lion behind bars. And what happens when it turns out the lock on the door comes free?

Read the whole thing. As is the case with the best satirists, Briggs makes some very serious points, not only about the hypocrisy of the whole thing, but about the elegy we might just as well offer, as we head for the Independence Day weekend, for the quaint notion of an American nation and an American culture, populated not by hyphens, but by - Americans.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Opera Wednesday

This week we have the lovely and famous Intermezzo from Pietro Mascagni's one-act opera Cavalleria rusticana, which takes place on Easter. As the Intermezzo plays, we see the empty village square on Easter morning, just before the villagers come out of church.

It's interesting that this orchestral piece - no vocal, just instrumental - from an opera that, because of its length, is virtually never performed without a companion piece (most often with Leoncavallo's similarly short Pagliacci, which has its own famous aria, "Vesti la giubba") has gone on to become one of the most famous pieces in all of opera.  After you listen, you'll understand why.

This 2009 production was conducted by Georges PrĂȘtre with the Orchestre National de France.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dress code redux and copyrights

A few years ago, I remember my experience at a friend's church in singing a one-off with their choir, as our church's choir has degraded its quality with weekly karaoke performances of Top 40 hits that has grown worse, forcing me to ask why they think such hits have more virtue than sacred choral songs such as Te Deum variants from Haydn and Elder (of which our leader in Summer Chorus debuted in Carnegie Hall), and the Son of God Mass that the Summer Chorus sang this past weekend.  Choir is not for singing top 40 hits with a karaoke machine, folks.  Have the entertainment giants become such powerful groups where they want to control churches with their hits, and dumb leaders down by not letting them see over 500 years of church music from masters such as Bach?

The entertainment giants' material plays on KLVR Radio, but, it's not suitable for church.  One easy rehearsal, they boast, of the karaoke choir.  I did not join the choir to sing in a karaoke bar each week.  The choir is not backup singers for a pop soloist, as some books are pushing.  Instead of each section being its own and working with each other, the modern pop choirs have become soloists first, and teamwork of the choir is last  But sometimes, could it be the advancement of KLVR, the "modern worship" movement of Saddleback, Willow Creek, Newspring, and others, be for the detriment for those who studied choral singing?

Speaking of the Summer Chorus, the dress code issue I noticed years ago with the one-off is no better in the summer.  We saw everything from a blazer and leggings, to blouses and slacks, to the Little Black Dress, and various sleeveless looks without any consistency.  And even the men were now going over the edge, as one singer wore track pants and white sneakers when the rule was black slacks and black dress shoes.  There is no standard choral dress for summer it seems, and churches have decided the standard choral dress gives way to anything.   What has happened?  It's just as bad as the degrading of rules where golf in practice rounds the dress code no longer applies for PGA of America sanctioned events (not the USGA or PGA TOUR).  Can you imagine Phil Mickelson dressing in the same way was the women of this week's KPMG Women's PGA Championship when he does the Skills Competition as three stars of women's golf compete in a KPMG-sponsored skills challenge against a male golfer three years and change away from the Champions Tour?

As for copyrights, two of the tree pieces we sang in choir are protected by copyright, as one was written in 2001, and the other 2013;  the latter's "World Without End" was debuted by our leader's college choir a few years ago in Carnegie Hall.  As we finished our first practice, I had to warn a few attendees that cell phones (and video cameras, except for the conducting candidate's evaluation) were prohibited because they could be used to record the concert in violation of the organiser's agreement that it not be recorded without express written consent of the publisher.  These people who record the copyrighted "Son of God Mass" and "World Without End" face legal issues, and it was decided to warn them of the phone prohibition and the copyright warnings.  Most people would never record copyrighted material, but in today's relativistic world, we sadly have to warn people of such.

Friday, June 23, 2017

I don't think "pride" means what you think it means

You've probably heard it said before that "pride goeth before a fall." Pride is a tricky thing; it's one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and yet one hears and uses it constantly. We're proud of our children, our nation, our accomplishments. Most of all, we're proud of ourselves.

There's a pride festival going on this weekend in the city in which I live, and quite frankly, I'm not really sure what there is to be proud about. We all know what it is that one is supposed to be "proud" about, so I'm sure I don't need to provide any further explanation there. There are many things about it that puzzle me, though. For example, if it is true that homosexuality is genetic, as many seem to believe, then what is there to be "proud" about? It's not as if you've done anything yourself; you might as well hold a festival to celebrate your pride in being tall, or having five fingers, or being born with blond hair. You can't do anything about being tall - it's all in the genes - and unless you're willing to do some messy work with a table saw, you're stuck with five fingers as well. And while it's true that you can change the color of your hair, you can't change what its natural color is.

Ah, there's a point. If you can change your hair color, then it doesn't matter that you were born with blond hair; it all becomes a matter of personal choice. You can choose to identify as a redhead or brunette, to use the vernacular of the day. You can be whatever you want to be - it's a simple case of free choice. But if that's the situation, then it goes without saying that you can also be taught not to make that choice, and once you go down that road you're sure to get caught up in more ideological brawling, as is the case in California. And if homosexuality is something that is freely decided, then it opens one up to the unwelcome possibility of having to suffer the moral consequences for one's actions. I suppose you can have it both ways - that does seem to tie in to our desire to have freedom without having to pay the piper.

At any rate, pride. C.S. Lewis called pride "the anti-God," Jonathan Edwards linked pride to the Fall in the Garden of Eden. The ancient Greeks called it "hubris," and rated it as one of, if not the greatest, crimes. Alexander Pope once wrote that "What the weak head with strongest bias rules, Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools." As you might have gathered from the syllogism above, this whole "pride' thing seems to me to rest on emotions rather than logic, which is what makes it so hard to discuss, let alone debate. Dante saw pride as "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor," which certainly seems to describe the reaction that these proud citizens have to anyone who disagrees with them, so maybe the phrase fits after all.

Regardless of how one feels about the subject, it seems to me as if pride is entirely the wrong attitude to have. If pride is as bad as the philosophers and the theologians say, then we ought to avoid it at all costs. Pride invariably leads to boasting, and this continued hammering away about being proud of the homosexual lifestyle; an old Jewish proverb says that "pride is the mask of one's own faults." After all, nothing undercuts a proud crusade more quickly than self-doubt. (Although self-doubt can lead to self-reflection, which can turn you toward the truth - and if that isn't the direction you want to go in, you're sure not going to engage in that.) It's all easier said than done; Benjamin Franklin wrote that "even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome [pride], I should probably be proud of my humility."*

*Humility being one of the Seven Virtues, along with Chastity.

Even if one agreed with the aims of the pride movement, the use of the word "pride" (which has now been corrupted in the same sense as the word "gay") would seem to be the wrong way of going about it, and I've gotten sick to death of seeing it spring up around the city over the last couple of weeks. One can say that in truth there is nothing in which one should take pride, for fear that such pride will wind up reflecting back on you (directly or indirectly) rather than the focus of your attention. The Book of Sirach speaks of honor rather than pride, and contemplates who is worthy of honor, so that would seem a more appropriate feeling than pride. (Of course, in this case, is the homosexual lifestyle really honorable?) The author of Sirach goes on to say that "The beginning of pride is sin. Whoever perseveres in sinning opens the floodgates to everything that is evil." One might note, in this case, that the end result of pride is also sin.

Lust is another of the Seven Deadly Sins, and this would seem to go rather well with the type of pride we're talking about at the moment. Again, just a personal observation, but it's bad enough to be mixed up with one Deadly Sin; to be involved with two seems to be a bit too much tempting fate. After all, things are bad enough as is; do we really need to compound it by celebrating one sin with another?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The death of opera

We have discussed here the Adams opera The Death of Klinghoffer, built around the 1985 seajacking of the Achille Lauro that lead to the death of 69-year old Leon Klinghoffer by Arafat-aligned Palestine Liberation Front terrorists. Paul Greenberg has made serious comments about the pro-terrorist angle of the opera.

It would be right in line with our morally neutral era, with its aversion to the judgmental, its fear of taking a stand between right and wrong, good and evil.

(T)hose of us who are disgusted by its taste in this instance, and its willingness to lend itself to the most dehumanizing propaganda, have a right to speak up, too. As crowds of New Yorkers have done outside the Met. We have more than a right to speak up when evil is cosmeticized, even romanticized. We have a duty.

Mr. Greenberg's column also compared the opera to the works of pro-Fuehrer filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, and had serious words at the end that had me thinking seriously about our nation's future.

Those of us disgusted by this libretto can only echo the accusation that the opera's Marilyn Klinghoffer hurls at the captain of the Achille Lauro, who's been respectfully and even sympathetically negotiating with the murderers aboard his ship. When the ever-neutral captain must tell her that that her husband has been murdered, and his wheelchair-bound body thrown into the sea, she shrieks at him: "You embraced them!" Which is what the Metropolitan Opera now has done, too.

Art seemingly has become a propaganda piece to advance certain causes embraced by a tiny minority that few support, but they are using their platform of the stage to advance the propaganda.  It is working well in various leftist issues, whether it is cannabinoids or criminalising Christianity, or other social causes.  The Bohemians are sadly in control.  That is the a thought considering what the creator of three popular ABC dramas that air on Thursday night is promoting.  It's everywhere on HBO, Showtime, and Netflix.  They need the propaganda to advance what most oppose.

Originally published November 11, 2014

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Opera Wednesday

Sorry for the more-or-less consistent absence from the blog lately; it's a case of not having enough time, what with It's About TV! and the parallel work I'm doing on a TV book. I feel as if I've been behind for so long, I'm just starting to catch up. I hope you'll see me back here more often, but if you go to It's About TV!, you'll see me all the time!

At any rate, I was inspired to look at today's choice because it was on the Met Opera channel on Sirius. It's Igor Stravinsky's opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex, which at the Met was presented as part of a Stravinsky triple-bill, the other two pieces being the ballet Le Sacre du Printemps (better known as "The Rite of Spring"), and the short opera, Le Rossignol (The Nightingale).

Oedipus Rex, based on the familiar Greek tragedy, is unusual in that it is sung in Latin, and has a non-singing narrator, who presents commentary in the vernacular of the audience. I admit to being a big admirer of Stravinsky's work, and Oedipus Rex is no exception - it's modern, but with a classical touch (or classical with a modern touch, if you prefer). Here is the entire performance, running a little under an hour, with tenor Philip Langridge, soprano Jessye Norman, and baritone Bryn Terfel. The conductor is Seiji Ozawa. There are no subtitles, but if you're at all familiar with the legend, I don't think you'll need them.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The next one in isn’t always the best call

A recent discussion locally about the resignation of a baseball coach who happened to succeed directly a legend reminded me this was a problem in college basketball numerous times with successors to Dean Smith, John Thompson, John Wooden, and other notable leaders.

Television has had that issue directly also, most notably, with the recent announcement that Sony and Turner Broadcasting are planning to do a revival of a 1972-75 (network) and 1977-86 (syndicated) game show (with another variant slightly different in 1990-91). Calvin Broadus will host what they say will be a reimagined show, but will turn away from what the Barry Family (which did the 1990 "definitions" format that later adopted parts of the classic format) had done in all three versions. However, it was the 1977-86 version where this problem that is prominent with coaches took flight.

As The Joker's Wild was continuing its successful run as a Barry-Enright Production, Jack Barry had turned 63 in an era when 65 was a retirement age. In preparation for that, he groomed Wisconsin's Jim Peck for the future transition with an occasional week of hosting during the next three seasons, with the plan being Barry would host one more full season after turning 65. That ensuing season, which he intended to be his final, would include a plan that many stations in the syndication world would see that Barry would start the episode by formally turning over the show to Peck in September 1984. Unfortunately, Barry, who was 66, died in May 1984, after his last show was taped and preparing for his formal departure on the next taping, with the successor he and his producer, Ron Greenberg, had planned to take over. Dan Enright, in one of the worst moves in television, decided to deviate away from Barry's plan and hire Bill Cullen to host what would be the final two seasons, effectively spelling the end of Barry-Enright.

Wink Martindale, who was the other host in the syndication double of Joker's Wild and Tic-Tac-Dough, remembered Barry a few years ago. Ironically, he left Tic-Tac-Dough after Enright's actions, where the show lasted just one season with Jim Caldwell.

Jim Peck later returned to Milwaukee in public affairs, and recently retired from radio. For the sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address, he recorded this piece as part of its observance.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Does terrorism have to be the “New Normal”?

Editor's Note: Today, for the first time in a long time, I have the chance to introduce to you a new member of the “In Other Words” family! If you read It’s About TV, you’ll recognize David Hofstede as the author of the Comfort TV blog one of the best classic TV sites around. As you will discover, however, David has insights and opinions that run far beyond the world of TV, and he will make for a valuable addition to the team. It’s my pleasure to welcome him to the site, and to present him to you for your consideration.

Over the past few years there have been several prominent news stories about police officers shooting African-American citizens – many of whom were unarmed at the time.

Varied opinions have emerged as a response: some see this as an epidemic of irresponsible authority, and a reminder of the racism they see inherent in our culture. Others find an attempt to conflate isolated incidents into a national trend, and point to federal and state crime statistics that suggest no such pattern exists.

But here’s one reaction you won’t hear from either camp: “This is just something to which we all have to adjust. This is the price we must pay for having a police force.”

Can you imagine the outraged response if some sheriff or politician advanced that outlook? Unacceptable, their communities would say. This cannot stand. We have to do something, so these horrific acts don’t keep happening.

Okay. So why don’t we have the same attitude about Islamic terrorism?

Why have the deaths of a dozen or two African-Americans galvanized public demonstrations and the formation of an advocacy group purportedly designed to remind people that black lives matter, while the deaths of tens of thousands of people since 9/11 evoke only sadness, followed by a resigned shrug over how the world has changed?

Of course, efforts to curb terrorism are ongoing. Plots have been stopped. Precautions have been taken. But when the next Manchester or London Bridge happens, it will produce more heartbreak than anger, and more calls for calm than decisive action.

As David French opined in the National Review, we have become comfortable with terrorism, and those of us that are not are being told by our leaders that we should.

This is the “new normal,” we are told. But it doesn’t have to be.

We monitor terrorist cells and recruitment networks when we could be dissembling them. We put known meeting places under surveillance instead of under a wrecking ball. We “contain” (to use the previous president’s word) the threat of ISIS when we could be destroying the caliphate once and for all. We make relativistic arguments (hey, some Presbyterians are bad apples too!) to avoid being labeled a bigot, instead of clearly identifying the one and only specific credo that perpetuates and inspires mass carnage.

Yes, we now have a president who has clearly identified the threat, sometimes inelegantly to be sure. But even if he expressed himself with the eloquence of Daniel Webster on this topic, the response would likely be just as hostile.

Why is that? I don’t think it’s just anti-Trump sentiment, because for all of the tough talk Republicans muster in election years, the reluctance to mount a more aggressive response is largely bi-partisan: No boots on the ground in the Middle East. No travel restrictions from countries where extremism flourishes. No profiling.

If we do these things – if we even think about them, we are told, the terrorists win. They have won because we have compromised something in ourselves that makes us “better” than they are. But what is this aspiration that is so important it is worth preserving in the face of such barbarism? At some point, it must be weighed against the ever-increasing scores of innocent people around the world whose lives are violently ended by terrorism. Is there a number beyond the thousands already lost when, once reached, that scale no longer balances?

The alternative is to accept the world as it is now, with this prevailing threat that could strike anywhere at any time. Acceptance acknowledges that there will be more attacks. More airports and concert halls and parade routes turned into crime scenes. More dead children.

Don’t the terrorists win then too? If they win either way, what is the rationale against more definitive action?

Yes, there will be consequences. Some will be unexpected and some will be ugly. But it’s long past time we started asking whether those consequences are worse than 8 year-old girls dying at an Ariana Grande concert.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The irony of CNN firing Kathy Griffin

The inappropriate picture of actress Kathy Griffin holding the headed of a "beheaded" caricature of President Trump bloodied led to CNN, a division of Time Warner (NYSE : TWX), which could be acquired by American Telephone and Telegraph (NYSE : T), removing her from New Year's Eve programming. Now that was the correct behaviour since it was inappropriate. But what people forget is this very same Time Warner, through its NetherRealm Studios, is responsible for producing Mortal Kombat, a 25-year old video game franchise where one of the glorified moves is the character "Sub-Zero" pulling the head and spine off losers in the game's signature "fatality" move. Further games in the franchise include beheading (Kitana's fan), cannibalism (Mileena's eat and spit the bones, Liu Kang's dragon), and other copious amounts of violence that led to video game ratings that has furthered the advancement of even more violent video games for "adults only" ratings.

Has anyone noted how TWX will fire Kathy Griffin for doing to Donald Trump what Sub-Zero does to losers in their own video game?

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