Where is the Outrage?

Guest submission from Laurie DiPadova-Stocks

I have been astonished by the utter lack of outrage among the American public regarding a number of things, including the treatment of prisoners by Americans in Iraq. While the national dialogue focuses on steroids, Michael Jackson, and gay marriage, we hear all too little about the ways in which Iraqi prisoners have been tortured by Americans, the methods of which have included denigration of sexual purity and religion. This is only one of many issues that, quite frankly, leaves me puzzled at best–and ashamed at worst. I am not only ashamed that fellow Americans committed these acts, but also that the majority of Americans–and Mormons apparently–cannot find it in themselves to regard these acts as outrageous.

Outrage is a welcomed emotion. It denotes response to a fundamental denial of humanity. I imagine that perhaps the deepest pain suffered by the Christians when they were thrown to the lions in the Coliseum in Rome, is that people were cheering in anticipation at their fear and pain. The thread of common humanity was so thoroughly broken that people actually cheered –they were "beyond feeling"–while their fellow humans were terrified. And no one expressed outrage.

Are we today any more enlightened than the Romans at that time?

The brings to mind one of Thomas Jefferson’s personal books by Henry Home, Lord Kames, entitled Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion. Published in Edinburgh in 1751, it is located in the Thomas Jefferson Collection of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

The thesis of the book is that as human nature and society becomes more advanced and enlighted, so will the treatment of prisoners.

Jefferson, as stated in the Library of Congress’s official description of the work, wrote a lengthly response in his tiny handwriting in the book.

Here is the Library of Congress official description:

In Lord Kames’ essay on the Laws of Nations, he observes that they mirror the laws of nature and vary with the nature of man and are refined gradually as human nature and more sense are refined by education, culture, and relection. As an example, he discusses the evolution in the treatment of enemies and prisoners of war, noting that at the current stage of moral development it is a nation that is an enemy, not the individual prisoner. Here, uncharacteristically, Jefferson has written an extensive response, noting this as a "remarkeable (sp.) instance of improvementin the moral sense." He traces the evolution of the treatment of prisioners of war from savage nations putting captives to death to the more humanized Greeks holding captives as slaves for life to the enlightened doctrine that victors have no right to either the life or labor of prisoners. Jefferson suggests that the next step in moral refinement will require the relinquishment of the right of ransom, as well.

Several questions come to mind:

What might Jefferson’s observations be of our society today, as we consider the ways in which we treat prisoners, here and abroad? Are these issues something to be outraged about? Is it appropriate—or not–for Mormons to express outrage over these actions of our government? I live not far from the Liberty Jail. I regard the way the Prophet was treated as outrageous. So do most Mormons when we discuss this topic in Sunday School. Is our silence today less outrageous?

Your thoughts?

Comments

  1. What you call the “torture” that went on in the Iraqi prisons goes on daily on fraternity and sorority houses everywhere in the US under the guise of hazing. Grow up.

  2. Minerva says:

    So that makes it okay? What?

  3. It shows that the “abuse” in the Iraqi prison is trivial, and it renders the claim that it is torture sensationalistic to the point of being ridiculous.

  4. I like to be educated about something before I get outraged about it. Are you referring to the famous abuses of a year ago or current, every day occurrences?

    If you’re talking about the prisoner abuse scandal we all know about, I think we were outraged. It got the cover of nearly all the major national magazines. Those involved are in trial and will receive jail time.

    If you’re talking about something else, what? All the google searches I do on the subject lead me to that one particular incident. Can you provide us with any sources we can go to to learn more about what exactly is going on?

  5. a random John says:

    If we are outraged, isn’t this post about a year late?

    Personally, I’m more concerned with the US government disappearing people to be held secretly in other countries.

  6. I, like Eric Russel and most people I talked to about it, was outraged by the Abu Ghraib abuses. Am am glad that the perpetrators are being punished. But I also believe that their actions were not representative of how our civilization treats prisoners. The actions of the military police reservists at Abu Ghraib is even more outrageous because we all recognize it as being alien to our concept of how prisoners should be treated.

    I think Thomas Jefferson was speaking not of how a few errant individuals might treat prisoners, but how the whole society does so. I think the fact that almost all Americans were outraged at what occurred reflects well on our level of civilization, especially when compared to how prisoners (or captured civilians) are treated in the Middle East. Yet we also have a short attention span; the controversy is months in the past, the perpetrators are being tried and convicted, and the 24-hour news networks have moved on.

  7. “Grow up.”

    I’ve found that anyone who needs to tell someone else to grow up generally is the one that needs to do it themselves. But hey, what else should we expect from AT and his proud, “I can do no wrong; courtesy on blogs be damned since everyone should be uber thick-skinned like me; I get banned from other sites and wear it as a badge of honor,” attitude. I’m sure you’ll be ready with your usual witty retort, AT, and I know I await it anxiously. But in the meantime, if you can’t treat posters with respect, feel free to post elsewhere where your kind are welcome, and even encouraged.

  8. This is a touchy subject, but I’m glad you brought it up, Laurie. Since this is a Mormon blog, my own feelings tend to stem from my concern about religion’s influence in this area. I definitely think outrage is warranted.

    I’m concerned that many (but certainly not all) people of faith have a narrow definition of morality. In other words, deaths in Iraq aren’t a moral issue but the death of a single woman in Florida is. Torture, or outsourcing it to Uzbekistan, doesn’t create outrage, but stem cells do. Gay marriage, we’re told, will lead to the destruction of society, but we turn a blind eye to AIDS in Africa.

    Even though I don’t agree with the Pope on a lot of issues, I admire the consistency that is admittedly lacking in my own beliefs. He preaches a true culture of life, unlike a lot of religious people in our own society: No abortion, no death penalty, no war, etc.

    I don’t mind that people value some moral issues over others – that’s only natural and I’m as guilty as the next guy. What troubles me is the ability of some to portray their issues as the only moral issues. If you pitch a fit about gay marriage, at least acknowledge that you’re picking and choosing your moral outrages and that there are others worthy of attention.

    I’m not trying to fan the flames of an already heated debate. I can see Steve in the corner twitching nervously :) I promise to do my best to play nice.

  9. John H: But hey, what else should we expect from AT and his proud, “I can do no wrong; courtesy on blogs be damned since everyone should be uber thick-skinned like me; I get banned from other sites and wear it as a badge of honor,” attitude.

    I’m confused. What’s the point in making fun of me if you already know it won’t hurt my feelings?

    John H: I’m sure you’ll be ready with your usual witty retort, AT

    What? And steel the spotlight from you? You’re on a roll, John! Who am I to stand in your way?

  10. Laurie DiPadova-Stocks says:

    Jonathan, the perpetrators are being punished?? Prisoner abuse is an ongoing pattern in several places–not only Iraqi prisons, and it is by no means an isolated incident. The more current evidence is yet to be made public, but from reports, it is more of the same. And while we may have a few scapegoats, the real perpetrators are those officials who framed the permissive policy exempting the “detainees” from the Geneva Conventions. These real perpetrators are by no means being held accountable by the U.S. government.

    Multiple issues are being raised in tonight’s responses, and these merit thoughtful consideration–especially by Mormons, it seems to me. What I mean by this is that we have a responsibility not to avoid debating (even if heated) the critical issues of our times, and how to embrace the task of framing a Christian response.

    Of course, on this (as with other issues), reasonable people can differ.

  11. danithew says:

    My personal response to Abu Ghraib was to suggest that the prison should be razed to the ground. So many horrors have taken place there due to Saddam Hussein (first) and then due to the American soldiers. In my opinion the very locale has taken on an evil aura and it disgusts me what happened.

    In my opinion what happened at Abu Ghraib qualifies as sexual abuse and rape. If fraternities and sororities are really engaging in those kinds of behaviors, to that extent, then the ringleaders should be charged and sent to prison. Therre isn’t anything laughable or easily dismissable about these sorts of things.

  12. danithew: If fraternities and sororities are really engaging in those kinds of behaviors, to that extent, then the ringleaders should be charged and sent to prison.

    I went to a men’s college, and I belonged to a fraternity. In fact, I was the president of my fraternity. I could tell you some stories, but I should warn you: Most people bust a gut laughing, but from what you’ve said it seems that you’d think they were a pretty decent basis for putting me in jail. That said, I’m sure you’re not alone in believing that I belong behind bars.

  13. danithew says:

    Arturo, where the frat boys you are talking about being hazed according to their own free will and choice? Did they want to be there and engage in those activities? Did they have the option to leave at any time if they did not want to continue?

    Were you asking people to strip naked, to masturbate in front of others, to simulate oral sex and other sexual actions? Were any of the people you dealt with convinced at any time they might be electrocuted? Did your fraternity boys have vicious trained German Shepherd attack dogs poised at them?

    Context does tend to make a difference. I suppose if a person voluntarily wants to strip naked and be in a pyramid with other naked people of the same sex, that is their own business. But it is a different matter entirely in the context of a prison. Especially in the context of an Iraqi prison.

  14. To localize the issue to Abu Ghraib and to assume that Lynndie England and Charles Graner are being punished and therefore to brush our hands and say “That’s that,” or “this post is a year late” is nearly as outrageous as the demeaning and culture-blind assertion that the actions are equivalent to “hazing” (which btw is illegal on an increasing number of campuses and other jurisdictions). What’s going on right now at Guantanamo, and the tight military connection between Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, and the policies which support the export of detainees to even more brutal environments in other countries all point to an overriding administrative mindset that sees religion as a vulnerability and seeks to find ways to manipulate people (whether prisoners or not) through the use or abuse of their belief.

    Even if one is so hardened that they find enforced nudity in an excessively modest culture something to ignore or accept unwanted lapdances as normal interrogation techniques, I’d suggest that as Mormons we should consider how we would feel about similar behavior toward a faithful Latter-day Saint: I can conceive of actions that could demean our own beliefs in similar ways. Who’s to say that only Muslims are vulnerable to attacks on religious views and deepseated feelings?

    The well-known quote by Rev. Niemoller about Nazi behavior should never be forgotten: “They came for the communists, but I did nothing because I was not a communist [and so on through a litany, up to] and then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.” Anyone who wishes to dismiss brutal behavior because it seems to be far distant from his/her life should truly reconsider the nature of the human family.

  15. “The more current evidence is yet to be made public”

    Yet to be made public? Then how do you know about it? Do you have some inside sources in Iraq? Or do you get your information from the quality reporting of The Nation?

  16. Some two-dozen prisoners have died in U.S. custody from torture or excessive force. How many people died from hazing on college campuses this past year?

    I’m the first to admit that at times I have a hard time much caring about prisoners of war or insurgents. Last time I checked, in those photos of Abu Ghraib, the prisoner’s heads were still attached to their bodies, which is more than we can say for plenty of American civilians in Iraq.

    But two wrongs don’t make a right, my mother always said. And this goes back to my point about religion and morality. I find it bothersome that religious people – and let’s be more blunt – we’re talking about Christians here – claim to know all about right and wrong when it comes to other issues. They won’t budge on other stuff, but when prisoners are forcibly stripped and tagged with a dog collar, suddenly morality gets a bit muddy.

    When I personally feel nothing for other people, or don’t bother to care, I can’t help but feel like that’s what the “natural man” is like. Jesus specifically told us to love our enemies, yet we always have a retort ready, an alternative explanation, rather than simply taking him at his word.

  17. Steve S says:

    At some points in my life, I find that it is just about enough to deal with my own immediate concerns, without doing much at all about the rest of the world. Although I sometimes manage to go out of my way to help individuals and I vote in nearly every election, my participation in the political process seldom extends beyond voting, and I am glad that there are others who find the time and the courage to do more. When the last major election came, I tried to express my outrage in a small way by making sure that I did not not vote for any candidate who represented a certain well-known American political party, but I think that Americans who made the opposite choice were probably motivated by valid concerns and were trying to do what was right, or at least to do what seemed to be in their best interest.

    After the 9/11 attack, I was a bit disappointed that many citizens, including my own wife, decided to display the flag as a show of support for the families who were affected, because I thought that it would be misinterpreted as a show of support for administrative policies that would place too little importance on human rights and dignity. Now that some of the abuses have become even more obvious they used to be, I would be a little bit disappointed if the result was a lot of protest from Americans, because I think that it would misinterpreted as a show of support for enemies who have even less regard for human rights and dignity.

    As a nation and as individuals, we have little excuse for doing less than our best in setting an example of morality and respect. It is surprising when we get it right and disappointing when we don’t even seem to try, and the surprising times and the disappointing times are usually one and the same.

  18. Aaron Brown says:

    As I read Laurie’s observations on outrage, I am struck by the fact that there are probably … oh, I don’t know … maybe, 10,000 other “issues” that one could put in place of “Abu Gharaib” and basically make the same argument. I am outraged by the fact that the genocide of nearly 1 million people in Rwanda met with so little notice in the international community at the time. I am outraged by the fact that judges have invented Right X that doesn’t exist in the Constitution, yet so many people don’t seem to care. I am outraged by the horrific, albeit unintended, consequences of Public Policy Y, and how so many citizens seem oblivious to them. I am outraged by the fact that hundreds of thousands of corpses have been found in Iraq (victims of Saddam Hussein’s barbaric regime), and yet these discoveries are met, in certain circles, with perfunctory and hurried acknowledgments of the awfulness, only to be quickly set aside so that we can focus on the more important task of lambasting the administration for moral failings that pale in comparison. I’m outraged by a whole lot of things. Granted that Thomas Jefferson may not have talked about every outrageous issue under the sun, and what our collective response (or non-response) to every issue must say about us. But if he had tried to, there surely would have been much to say.

    I personally believe that what happened at Abu Gharaib is outrageous, and I think that the events there have been met with significant bouts of outrage, both in the media and elsewhere. I suspect that one of the reasons we haven’t seen more outrage is that many general supporters of U.S. policy in Iraq recognize how many of the loudest voices on Abu Gharaib are so committed to trying to turn those events into a public relations coup for the anti-war left, or to attach disproportionate moral hand-wringing to the actions of some U.S. soldiers, at the expense of focusing on a lot of other moral outrages they believe deserve more attention. It’s perhaps unfortunate that not every atrocity worthy of outrage can get its full 15 minutes (or hours, weeks, days), but those of us who bemoan the lack of outrage directed at certain injustices also reveal much about ourselves in what we selectively choose not to bemoan.

    Aaron B

  19. Aaron Brown says:

    John H — I often find myself in agreement with what you say, and I certainly agree that we all seem to have pretensions of moral consistency that really don’t hold water, given their inevitable selectivity. However, your “culture of life” example doesn’t really make the point. Your observation belongs, at best, on a bumper sticker or as a talking point on O’Reilly, but I doubt it could be fleshed into a serious argument. Supporting the death penalty while opposing abortion is supposed to be some sort of moral inconsistency? Please. Only if you refuse to look at the reasoning behind the distinction in anything but the most superficial way.

    Aaron B

  20. No-one’s mentioned the sad Mormon irony here:

    Jay Bybee.

  21. Well, laurie, I am not outraged as a lot of folks here. primarily becasue of this – what happened at Abu Gharib were committed by a small bunch of idiots, in one particular unit, led by incompetent officers. And as we have seen, the perpetrators have been charged with felonies.
    On the larger question of whether or not torture or other vigorous methods ought to be used to extract info from jihadists – I think, in dealing with people from that area of the world, especially wahabis, I think by making a blanket committment to never use rough methods, we will be giving up a valuable tool. Plus, when interrogating a suspect in Iraq, treating said suspect like he was a guy arrested in say, LA, and reading him the Mirands , is one sure fire way to ensure that we will never win the war against Islamofascists. The only way to win is to use superior intelligence, and overwhelming firepower.
    Using any argument to tie the hands of our soldiers is in my mind, a sin in itself. I dont want the 3 guys from my Elders Quorum, currently deployed to get hurt , just becasue some Military Intel guy was unwilling to do what was necessary to extract info from an arrested terrorist

  22. Jonathan Green says:

    Laurie, I think the problem here is with the nature of outrage itself. It is an emotion easily incited and manipulated, an unreliable motivator and a treacherous instrument. There will always be someone willing to stoke our outrage for their own ends.

    I wish more people would be outraged by the things that outrage me, but I have to admit that the outrage of those who do not agree is no less unadulterated. I remember when I could take for granted the idea that my country did not torture people, and that this was one thing that separated righteous us from barbarous them. That torture is now considered patriotic is something that disturbs me very much, but I think our country would be better off overall if we were cured of our addiction to outrage.

  23. “Supporting the death penalty while opposing abortion is supposed to be some sort of moral inconsistency? Please. Only if you refuse to look at the reasoning behind the distinction in anything but the most superficial way.”

    Aaron, I do agree with you on this, and it’s a very fair criticism. No question I’m often guilty of slipping into political talking-head mode :)

  24. danithew, my point is that the prison mistreatment (and it was mistreatment, but not “torture” or “abuse”) is along the lines of something like a college prank. Hence my response to “where’s the outrage” kind of questions.

    Perhaps, as John H suggests, I’m too immature to realize that something really terrible has gone on. Or maybe I’m just reflexively callous to claims of men being humiliated when the primary reason they are humiliated derives from the fact that the acts in question were perpetrated by the gender that they are accustomed to brutally oppressing. (Since I don’t believe that feminists genuinely care about women’s rights, it doesn’t surprise me at all that no feminist I know of has ever made this point; but that’s another issue.)

  25. I thought that AT could be more original than simply regurgitating Rush Limbaugh, or maybe they belonged to the same fraternity.

    Unfortunately, people will believe what they want to, perhaps to salve their conscience. Will torturing random Iraqi’s (and the majority of those in Abu Gharib were civilians) protect those 3 guys in the Elder’s quorum from harm? It’s doubtful. Providing them with proper body armor and Humvee armor would. Outrage should be directed at the civilian leadership and their piss-poor planning for securing the peace.

  26. danithew says:

    Honestly Scott, that was my first reaction to AT’s comment as well. The first time I heard the frat comparison, it was attributed to Rush Limbaugh. It is one of the most cynical and innaccurate analogies I’ve ever heard.

  27. On outrage:

    I think it needs to be a two-way street. It’s easy to get outraged at American policies and practices, but I worry those who lean to the left in this country have become tolerant of intolerance. It was recently learned that guards in Guantanamo Bay had placed a Koran in a toilet as part of an interrogation technique.

    Muslim clerics in Afghanistan have said if we don’t hand the guards over in three days, they’ll declare a Jihad on America. What those guards did was stupid, and perhaps they should be punished. But where’s the outrage over the Muslim clerics idiocy? If Jerry Falwell had said we should declare war on France because some citizens burned an American flag, he’d be quickly denounced as a nut. But crazy is crazy and religious extremism is never good – doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or a Muslim. Clerics who declare war because a book ended up in a toilet are crazy.

    Checked outrage has its place. We need to be outraged at religious extremism in all its forms.

  28. Daylan Darby says:

    I think the problem is that too many people (Mormons included) look to their leaders for safety and answers (they, the people are afraid of liberty and freedom). And since the religious leaders are silenced by their mission statements (and possible loss of tax exempt status) we don’t hear much from them. The political rulers are likely part of the problem, so we don’t hear from them. This leaves no recognized ‘leader’ showing outrage, so the people, like the obedient trained sheep they are, barely give a bleat.

    I wonder how much outrage the common people had at the time when the Gadianton robbers infiltrated the government?

  29. You guys listen to Rush Limbaugh? I sure don’t. I’d just as soon listen to NPR. My reaction to hearing of the mistreatment was, “Hmm. Sounds a lot like what we did to freshmen in college.”

    As far as reactions from anything like a conservative spokesman, the only thing I heard was William F. Buckley’s astonishingly stupid claim that America’s outrage over the alleged “abuse” shows her honor. (Laurie apparently doesn’t see the outrage that Buckley saw.) Americans do, of course, readily recognize that prisoners (at home and abroad) should not subject their captives to sophomoric taunts and pranks. But surely the observation that some Americans (at home and abroad) are not perfect is far too banal to warrant the term “honor.” To the extent that any treatment was criminal, America is dealing with the guards readily and unceremoniously—that’s what America does.

    The Vatican went so far as to claim that the “abuse” of Iraqi prisoners was “a tragic episode in the relationship with Islam,” calling it “a more serious blow to the United States than Sept. 11.” Apparently, we lose whether they attack us or we attack them.

    This obsessive compassion for Arab pride obscures the question of whether “Arab manhood” is worth saving from humiliation. If Arab manhood is in any way embodied by the policies of the Arab nations, then it precludes free speech, free presses, and free religious practice; it entails the savage subjugation of mothers, wives, and daughters; it fosters a culture of revenge that precludes peaceful resolutions to political conflicts; it sanctions terrorism, which is to say, the brutal mass murder of civilian men, women and children based on their race and ethnicity.

    One thing I’ve noticed about Arab manhood: In the prisoner “abuse” photos, when anyone’s face is obscured it is that of the prisoners. But it is the captors who hide their faces when they’ve recorded the decapitation of more than a dozen civilians. This displays a cowardice unbecoming those who claim to act in God’s name.

    Where is the outrage indeed.

  30. FWIW, Newsweek is backpedaling on the story, in exactly the way that Dan Rather didn’t.

    http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/05/15/newsweek.quran/index.html

  31. Rosalynde says:

    Arturo: “Since I don’t believe that feminists genuinely care about women’s rights, it doesn’t surprise me at all that no feminist I know of has ever made this point; but that’s another issue.)”

    Apparently you don’t know many feminists. See, for example: http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/views04/0516-02.htm

  32. I wonder too, if Laurie is as outraged at the acts carried out by Islamic terrorists, as she was, or still is, cmpared to the obscenity of death and destruction visited upon ordinary folks of Iraq by the Wahabi suicide bombers. Or, would you label me a Limbaugh-loving, knuuckle-dragging neanderthal conservative, becasue, I refuse to play the game of blaming the USA and the US govt and the current President for all the ills of this world? (BTW, I havent heard the Limbaugh show a single time in my life- used to work for a NPR affiliate).
    It is a different world out there, and if some here who havent lived amongst muslims ( having led sheltered LDS lives) dont understand how muslim culture and society works, I guess you can be forgiven for your ignorance. Bottom line is this – if an Arab , especially a terrorist or a terrorist sympathiser iis arrested, and if no force is used, the interrogator will not be able to extract any info. See, arresting a Wahabbi is not like putting a BYU junior or a couple of Elders in handcuffs.
    yes, idiots i the US Army did mess up in Abu Gharib, but, (1) it is not s system wide problem, and (2) with Newsweek back-pedalling on the Koran flushed dpwn the commode story, I wonder if I should believe anything that talking heads on TV or i n news publications try to tell us.
    Have a great week y’all!!!!!!!

  33. Rosylande, Barbara Ehrenreich bemoans the fact that feminine barbarity can be as savage as masculine barbarity, and identifies as “lazy and self-indulgent [the] form of feminism” that adopts what Bertrand Russell derided as “the myth of the superior virtue of the oppressed.”

    These are interesting points, to be sure. But just the same, you’re wrong.

    Ehrenreich only uses the misogynism of the prisoners to reiterate the tired cliche that we’re fueling the jihad PR machine and making Arab Muslims hate us. This is a rather bizarre way to address the misogyny issue. In fact, it renders her essay incoherent, since it implies that we should avoid confronting Arab misogynism for fear of fueling the jihadists. (If I weren’t already so familiar with the twisted maze that we call feminist reasoning, I’d be mystified how any self-respecting feminist could make such a point.)

    I’m actually standing up for Private England, because I don’t find anything especially barbaric about a woman parading savagely brutal (and I mean mediaeval savage) misogynists around naked; in fact, the term “just desserts” comes to mind.

    Feminist organizations have defended women who severed their husband’s penis and drowned their children (but never someone who has done both). These organizations have been scrupulously silent about Private England. Since Ehrenreich attacks Private England for her brutality, it is truly odd that you chose her as an example of a feminists sticking for women’s rights.

    I stand by my claim that no feminist I know is “reflexively callous to claims of men being humiliated when the primary reason they are humiliated derives from the fact that the acts in question were perpetrated by the gender that they are accustomed to brutally oppressing.”

  34. Rosalynde says:

    Urtaro, a bit of advice, in all friendliness: drop the Bertrand Russell quotes, man, especially if you can only manage to recycle the same one over and over. It doesn’t do you any favors, believe me.

    I’m not at all interested in debating this issue with you, not least because, as far as I can tell, you’re not making any intelligible claim about either Ehrenreich’s piece or the Abu Ghraib matter. As always, though, I’m sincerely grateful for the laughs: the thought of you “already so familiar” with feminist reasoning tickles me almost as much as the image of you presiding over fraternity high jinks. Bring on the good times! I’m all in.

  35. SeptimusH says:

    If you ask me Rosalynde and this Arturo guy need to get a room–a chat room. The sexual tension is unbearable. This is a blog, not an episode of “Moonlighting.” I haven’t been lurking here long, but am I the only one who thinks they’re secretly in love?

  36. Sid-
    Of what value is our outrage over something that does not represent us, such as the wahabi suicide bombers. Of course we think that is outrageous, but what purpose would it serve to make a point of telling the world how horrified we are that it occurs. Do those who participate in these bombings care one wit what we think or feel? I think not. Our government, on the otherhand, represents us. We have a right and an obligation to make sure they represent our values. They in turn have an obligation to listen to us. It is not about blaming any one country or wrong doing more than another, it is about standing up and demanding that the government that represents us do better. I am saying all of this with the firm belief that it is an accepted philosophy of our current government that has allowed the abuse of prisoners to occur.

  37. Rachel – I agree with you in principle. However, t he fact on the ground is that in most uber-macho cultures which included the Arab cultures through mine (Indian from India), the only thing respected is violence. Anyone refusing to use violence is considered to be weak and thus deserving no respect. So, if say, you are interrogating a Wahabbi suspect, and you treat him as you would treat, say a guy in arrested in Detroit, read him his Miranda rights, you are just not going to get any useful info from the terrorist suspect. That is the bottom line. One can argue about human rights, geneva Conventions, morality etc, but the bottom line is this – if we dont behave differently than we are doing now, we will, in the long run, lost the war against the Wahabbis.
    I can bet that , if, instead of the US Armed Forces, the Indian Army had been in action in Iraq, the insurgency would have been crushed by now. Because, they would have taken the necessary steps, and would have had al-Zarkawi and his minions either arrested or dead by now.
    It is like the Mark Ross guy in CT. He deserved to be executed for his acts as a serial killer of at least 8 women. yet, we had a whole bunch of folks protesting teh execution.
    Seems, we are so obsessed with the idea of “no torture”, that like the single-issue anti-death penalty types, some amongst us, will be on t eh anti-torture bandwagon, even if that means that we are ensuring outr own demise.
    BTW – off topic question – I am an Indian convert to our Church. have you guys ever met an Indian convert? Cuz, in my 9 years as a member, I have yet to meet another Indian member. Just curious.

  38. here is a link to an interesting article about the whole AbuGharib, Koran flushed down the toilet etc stories. This gentleman writes much better than I ever will, and y’all might find it interesting, or get angry, depending on your poltical beliefs and assumptions.

    http://austinbay.net/blog/index.php?=323

  39. Sid,
    Are you an Indian in India or in the US?

  40. danithew says:

    Sid, my understanding is that interrogators have plenty of psychological levers to extract information, without necessarily resorting to physical torture or sexual humiliation. I would guess this is true with even people who are from the most super-macho cultures. That might even be a disadvantage because it provides a general insight into a person’s likely outlook.

    A lot of people walk around thinking that they are tough, that unless torture is applied they can refuse to divulge information or simply shut their mouths. I had a roommate who was trained to be a military interrogator. According to him, so many people have this misguided idea. Therefore, the first thing they do in military interrogator training is use their world-class manipulation methods on the person being trained, to prove that the methods work. They have basic personality profiles that are very useful for identifying what will make a specific person respond. For example, they can figure out very quickly how a specific person responds to authority — whether a particular person is impressed or not by rank or status. That’s just one little thing and there are many other psychological levers that they use as well. Most people start providing information pretty quickly under measures and strategies that still respect the Geneva Conventions and the like.

    As to your other comment … I haven’t met Indian converts but I had a roommate once who served his mission in India. I wonder if there are many more Indian converts in Europe? Maybe you ought to create a blog and tell us about your personal perspectives of the Church from your background and cultural perspectives. I’d love to read something like that.

  41. Dan:
    Your roomate was on a prosyletizing mission to India? I had no idea it was open.

  42. danithew says:

    I don’t know the details of his mission and it was years ago … but he was (to my knowledge) a regular proselytizing nineteen year old missionary there. So, yes.

  43. Ronan – I am Indian, but I now live in the USA, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
    Scott – there are indeed Missionaries in India. In fact, from approx ’88 to’94, there were Elders in India – mostly Americans, paired up with a small number of Indian Mormon converts. However, as soon as the Hindu Fundamentalists, i.e. the BJP came to power, the severely restricted the number of Missionaries, and started not giving out Visas. So, now they have only Indian converts doing Missionary work, and other older couples doing Missionarywork, but, as designated “Service Missionaries” only.

    And DT – I completely agree with the points you made about using sophisticated psychological techniques, the kind taught to US Military Intel people. And they do work, with people who are, in a sense similar to the western mindset. In fact, in dealing with committed Muslim Wahabbi and Salafi terrorists, the experience has ben that these techniques dont work with most. Hence the problems teh US and allied militaries are having in extracting usable and credible infofrom teh followers of bin-Ladin or al-Zarkawi.
    Trust em, I am not a crazy who just thinks it is cool to torture Islamist terrorists, heck I used to be onthe board of Directors for the Michigan ACLU. but, I just think that sometimes these harsh methods have tobe used, and if we deliberately refuse to not use some methods becasue they may seem distasteful, we are essentially giving the enemy an advantage.

    Please read the post on Austin bay’s blog – I guess he writes with more clarity on this sissue that I can. lus he has experience leading an USArmy Armored regiment in Iraq.

  44. Stephanie says:

    What bothers me is that Mormons are just as ignorant as the rest of the world when it comes to finding out for themselves about what is actually going on around them and not be spoon fed by Tom Brokaw or the rest of the media hounds.

    I don’t know why this disappoints me so much, but it does. I wonder if Heavenly Father is going to ask us why we didn’t do more to prevent the genocide in Darfur. Is donating $50 to the Save Darfur Coalition and wearing a green wristband around for a few weeks really enough?

    I guess people need to see movies like “Hotel Rwanda” to make them realize the horror – but even the success of that movie hasn’t raised the consciousness of what is happening in Darfur.

    We rant and rave about gay marriage and abortion while hundreds of children are dying every day from needless violence and preventable diseases. Let’s get our priorities straight.

  45. Rosalynde: I’m not at all interested in debating this issue with you, not least because, as far as I can tell, you’re not making any intelligible claim about either Ehrenreich’s piece or the Abu Ghraib matter.

    Always the master of the caustic non-response, aren’t you. Presumably this is supposed to twist me into endless repetitions of my original point. Never mind that your claim to have actually located some feminist interested in women’s rights has been handily refuted…

    Rosalynde: I’m sincerely grateful for the laughs: the thought of you “already so familiar” with feminist reasoning tickles me almost as much as the image of you presiding over fraternity high jinks.

    I knew that when I introduced biographical tidbits such as having been a bartender or president of my fraternity, it would undercut my otherwise carefully honed persona as a serious and high minded scholarly type who just happened to have gotten thrown out of every kind of academic institution imaginable. Sorry about the incongruity, but I’m complicated.

    SeptimusH: If you ask me Rosalynde and this Arturo guy need to get a room—a chat room. The sexual tension is unbearable. This is a blog, not an episode of “Moonlighting.”

    Part of me wants to say, Yikes! Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me no match! Find me no find! Catch me no catch. But yet another part of me might be mildly flattered if Bruce Willis hadn’t gone altogether bald.

  46. Sid,

    I disagree that capturing Al-Zarqawi and his minions will be decisive in crushing the insurgency in Iraq any more than capturing bin Laden will stop al Qaeda. The culture clash spilling out of the Middle East is closer to a war of ideas than a conventional military action and to win we must prove the superiority of our ideas. Islamists fanatics and the Bush administration both understand as indicated by the premium they both put on symbolic acts. As The Economist recently pointed out, if you don’t count the people on the planes, the attack on the World Trade Center killed slightly more people than were murdered in New York in any given year in the early nineties–it’s not about the death tolls. You might still have an argument that it is symbolically important to show that we can be as barbaric as any terrorist and you would find serious people agreeing with you. On the other hand, America won the Cold War because the Soviet populace viewed their own leadership as morally bankrupt and American leadership as a principled alternative. If we willingly surrender the moral high ground we have given up our best weapon and handed our enemies an enormous victory. In such an environment it isn’t hard to fill a leadership void or find replacements for the rank and file. It is difficult to know what, exactly, will resonate with the Muslim population and I don’t think Bush is as bad at this as many assume; there does seem to be a pent up desire for democratic change in the Middle East. But I question the kind of democracy we model when we disregard individual rights and look less and less like agents of change and more and more like heavy-handed oppressors. Whether we are, in fact, little better than the worst elements of the Muslim world is besides the point. We are uninvited foreigner who are already suspect in the minds of the populace-to win the population to our ideas we need to be much better.

  47. Stephanie says:

    Steve Evans, or whoever is in charge: I’m mostly a lurker here, so my opinion isn’t worth much, but I think this blog would be much better off without Mr. Arturo Toscanini. No offense, AT.

  48. No offense? Stephanie, you present me with the possibility of getting banned from yet another eminant Mormon blog, and I’m supposed to take no offense? On the contrary, Stephanie: I’m quite flattered. I was beginning to believe that Times and Seasons was unique in some way, and there really was nothing special about me at all.

  49. Stephanie,

    What are you doing about genocide in Darfur?

  50. Stephanie says:

    Eric-

    First of all, I’ve heard of it, and know what’s going on there. Many people haven’t even heard of Darfur.

    Second, I’ve joined the Save Darfur Coalition and donated money to them.

    http://www.savedarfur.org/go.php?q=theCoalition.html

    Third, I wear a green wristband and tell people what it is for when they ask me about it.

    Fourth, I’ve sent emails to my state and federal representatives in government to tell them I think they should take action to stop the genocide there (military intervention, more foreign aid, etc.).

  51. Rosalynde says:

    “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me no match! Find me no find! Catch me no catch.”

    Ouch! Guess this means the Tracy-Hepburn duoblog we’d talked about is off, AT?

  52. RE: AT.

    The man has verbal diarrhea, true, and he likes to wind people up, but I’ve not noticed anything offensive in AT’s rhetoric here, so no banning please.

    – AT’s Bloggernacle agent

  53. Stephanie,
    So donating money and wearing wristbands isn’t enough, but donating money, wearing wristbands and writing letters to the government is? I don’t get it.

  54. John H. and Stephanie suggest that the church turns a blind eye to issues of violence while focusing on issues of sexual morality. I think this is an interesting issue.

    First of all, I don’t think church members are calloused when it comes to world terrorism and violence. Are Americans in general oblivious and somewhat apathetic to the poverty and violence occurring all over the world? Yes, but I don’t think it’s any more so among church members. If anything, much less. We’ve been on missions around the world, we’ve seen poverty in extremes, and I would guess that members of the LDS church do far more about it than your average non-LDS. The church itself collects money for humanitarian aid and tries to help where it can. But neither America nor the church can single-handedly solve the world’s problems.

    Even still, why do we speak of pornography, homosexuality and gambling in church when such problems are occurring all over the world? I think part of it is because these issues actually are more dangerous to our welfare in the long run. The destruction of the family will do more damage to the lives of many than will death of a number of people.

    I think there’s another reason. AIDS in Africa is due, largely, to sexual immorality of all variations. Isn’t preaching the gospel, then, the real solution to the problem? I don’t think the church has limited morality to sexuality in any sense, but that it properly recognizes its potential danger.

    But I do think that we, as members, have fallen into the Nephite cycle of wealth and self-interest. It would definitely behoove us all to be more generous in fast offering, humanitarian aid, and other worthy charities.

  55. Rosalynde: Ouch! Guess this means the Tracy-Hepburn duoblog we’d talked about is off, AT?

    ROTFLMAO. You’re always at your most lovable when you feign hurt feelings, Rosalynde. But I’d be happy to blog with you, if you felt I could hold up my end of the bargain. It’s just that I’m too protective, paternalistic, and macho to allow you to ruin your reputation through association with the likes of me.

    And Ronin, I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I do appreciate your words of defense. Even so, I can’t help but feel mildly insulted by your characterization.

  56. Stephanie says:

    “I think there’s another reason. AIDS in Africa is due, largely, to sexual immorality of all variations.”

    This is the mentality that makes many Mormons complacent about poverty and disease. It’s their own fault – they just need to live the gospel principles, and their lives would change. That’s small comfort to all the women in Africa (and elsewhere) who are forced to have unprotected sex with HIV positive men. Or tell that to the children dying of preventable diseases as you’re reading this comment.

    It’s all well and good to theorize and blame, but I don’t think there is enough emphasis in this Church on helping those in the Third World. The PEF is a start, but the LDS church is very far behind other churches in this.

    And, the only comment I have in response to your dissing my efforts on Darfur is that at least I’m doing something. I wish I could do more.

  57. AIDS in Africa is due to mostly over-reporting because HIV infection rates determine WHO funding. People get hit by a truck, die, and it gets classified as AIDS. Sending money to Africa for AIDS is a waste of time and resources.

    AIDS is also an entirely different disease in Africa. Most African AIDS cases die from wasting disease, which is rare elsewhere. Funny thing is, the death rates for wasting disease in Africa have remained stable since well before the beginning of the “AIDS Epidemic,” once you account for over-reporting.

    In fact, death rates for every AIDS indicator disease have remained stable in the United States as well. Either AIDS was around well before Gallo began plagiarizing findings on HTVL III, or non-AIDS incidences of the indicator diseases have fallen for no reason at all.

  58. Stephanie says:

    AT: Sounds like you’ve been reading too much Peter Duesberg.

    And I was making a general point – it doesn’t matter if the people dying from AIDS or wasting disease or whatever it is you want to call it. The facts are that millions of people are dying all over the world from preventable or curable diseases, but the devastation in Africa is particularly acute.

    But we’re much more incensed over activist judges and gay marriage than we are about the wretched conditions in which most of our brothers and sisters live. And according to Eric Russell, we’re better off contributing our money to PACs that fund anti-gay marriage activities than we are to Partners in Health or the Red Cross.

  59. Stephanie,

    I wasn’t dissing your efforts, but commenting on the fact that you dissed your own efforts. In 44 you suggest that what you do is not enough. My question is, if that’s not enough, what is? We can’t go there and stop it ourselves. Considering our own situation, donations and the like pretty much are the best we can do.

  60. Stephanie, you’re making the standard utilitarian argument. Specifically, you’re saying that we should use our money in a manner that creates the most amount of happiness and the least amount of misery. This sounds good on the surface. But, as G.E. Moore pointed out, it does not account for loyalty and responsibility. Thus, for example, utilitarianism cannot explain why it is better for me to act in the interest of my 4 children than in the interest of the neighbor’s 7 children, even though acting in the neighbor’s children’s interest makes more people happy.

    Utilitarianism becomes patently ridiculous when applied more generally. For example, according to the utilitarian calculus, the founders of our country were wasting their time and efforts trying to solve the governmental problems of the few inhabitants of the post-Colonial states. It would have been more moral of them to concentrate their efforts on weightier problems of global misery, or (closer to home) getting rid of slavery.

    Bringing this back around the case at hand, non-African parents have a much bigger responsibility to their own children than to African children. For my part, I do believe that trying to shape and impact the political and social environment that my children grow up in is more important than feeding African children. I am not saying that starvation is not an important issue; I am saying that it is not a top priority. That’s the brutal truth of the matter, and we may just have to agree to disagree.

  61. Brother Toscanini – if I try to contact you back channel, how come I end up a a Care-Bears site?
    And what part of my commenst did you find “mildly insulting”. You can email me at: ronin1516@hotmail.com

  62. Stephanie says:

    AT: no problem agreeing to disagree. But I do object to you taking the utilitarian argument to its extreme. This is another trick people use to wrangle out of feeling responsible for intractable social problems. Sure, in the extreme, utlitarianism might say you need to sacrifice your children for the greater good.

    But the more reasonable and appropriate observation is that many Mormons are not doing as much as they could to alleviate poverty and other scourges that do not directly affect them or their families. Mormons, along with the rest of America, are more interested in next episode of American Idol or Desperate Housewives than some sickly, mangy African child with flies swarming all over him while he rots to death in the sun.

    As I said above, I think Heavenly Father will have something to say to all of us who enjoy our comfortable standard of living, while other people suffer so horribly and needlessly.

  63. Ronin, the reason why my URL link is set to the care-bears is a long story, but here it is in a nutshell: I once made a rude comment to Neil Labute to the effect that his movies were about as offensive as the Care Bears (you’d have done it, too, if you saw how obsequious everybody was being and how rudely Labute was responding), and though Mr. Labute was mostly angry at the perma-bloggers for editing his comments, I got the blame for his bout of ill temper, and my exchange with him and my historical unwillingness to cease using the term chick resulted in my being put in blog jail (i.e., the moderation queue) on T&S. Some time later, after I let myself out of blog jail through the magic of TCP/IP routing tables, Jack and I exchanged a few comments about the care bears for old time’s sake on a T&S about Hugh Nibley (Jack is a stand up guy, and was one of 2 bloggers who had spoken up in my defense in my exchange with Neil Labute, though I am not acquainted with him outside of the bloggernacle). Finally, referring to an exchange between Rosalynde and a couple of her immediate female relatives, I made a comment to the effect of, “You crazy Frandson chicks. You make me wish they all could be California girls.” This was edited for content regulation so that it was simply garbled text that linked to the care-bear site. This “chick” comment and a joke about Wilfried being an brown-noser (well, he is) got me banned for good at T&S, at which point, I promptly and proudly appropriated the Care Bears as my own mascot right alongside that badge of honor that John H refers to.

    At any rate, my mild offense was nothing really. Just your reference to verbal diarrhea brought up images of the diarrhea mustache referred to in the title of one of David Cross’s comedy tracks. But my email is atoscanini at mac.com.

  64. Rosalynde says:

    AT, I think you’re getting Ronan and ronin mixed up. They’re distinct, I believe.

  65. Right you are, Rosalynde. Thanks for the clarification. My apologies, Ronin.

  66. Oh, and another thing: As long as we’re categorizing and prioritizing offenses (whether at T&S or the rest of the third world), all this talk about chicks and AIDS at T&S and Africa masks the real outrage: Lou Midgley keeps showing up unannounced at Lighthouse Ministries and rudely interrupting George Smith having fondue with the Tanners. Where’s the outrage there? Given our history as Mormons, shouldn’t Lou Midgely’s fondue antics give us pause? After all the tears shed over dead Africans, who cries for the Tanners and their fondue? (hat tip: a random john).

  67. Agreed, we should be more free-flowing with our outrage (AT, this is one of your strengths).

    Should we be outraged at Abu Ghraib? Yes, but in my opinion those events were not as outrageous as the war in the first place, or a host of other delights the government has performed. I guess the problem with outrage is that it is exhausting, tiring work. I am too busy, and too tired, to be constantly outraged at things (which explains why AT has not been banned at BCC).

  68. John Mansfield says:

    So, all our trivial banter over baseball and pop stars and politics is to be suspended in favor of continual expressions of outrage as long as something bad is happenning somewhere? I’ll just go on sitting on the porch eating watermelon and spitting seeds out on the grass, and anyone so inclined can go on being outraged at my capacity for happy enjoyment.

  69. a random John says:

    My answer to the question, “Where is the Outrage?” is, “Directed at AT.”

    More seriously, this post probably wouldn’t have been half as interesting without his comments. While I think he needs to get off his “I’m so persecuted because I say, ‘Chicks'” hobby-horse, I respect his right to ride it.

  70. Stephanie says:

    Man, this is going to sound so rude, but I don’t think AT brings anything to a well reasoned, interesting discussion. Stirring up controversy for the sake of controversy is not interesting. And since this blog is all about interesting, I don’t think AT belongs here.

    Sorry to waste a comment on AT, but I guess my tolerance for annoying people is lower than normal today…

  71. Arturo may have some controversy stirrers, like comment 1, but I think he’s made some good, interesting points, like comment 60.

    I agree with Arturo’s sentiment against utilitarianism, but at the same time, I don’t think utilitarian notions can be thrown out altogether. Feeding our own children is, of course, more important than feeding African children. But is buying our children designer clothing more important than feeding African children? Seems to me that it’s not, and that you have to draw a line of preference. It can only go so far.

    And I think this idea is central to the topic of this post in general. How concerned, active, outraged should we be with remote problems? Steve’s reaction seems like the most representative of good LDS folks. We are outraged, we are concerned, but we also have lives of our own that get in the way of being Mother Teresa.

    What can we actually do, and how much we can expect of ourselves to do it? We don’t have the time to get outraged at everything we think is wrong, (well, we do find the time to blog about it) but making enough effort to make a drop of difference is another thing all together.

  72. Stephanie says:

    One last post, then I’ll go back to lurking. I think Eric raises a great question – what can normal people do? I struggle with this question, because the world is SO screwed up and people are so needy that it can be overwhelming and consume you if you start paying too much attention to everyone else.

    But, that said, here are a few suggestions. First, instead of a big, expensive Christmas, why not start a tradition of finding a local charity to donate part of your Christmas money to? I know this doesn’t sound like much fun for kids, but I think there are ways for them to get involved and make it a valuable experience – Primary Children’s Hospital does great charity work – and I’m sure there are many wonderful Childrens’ hospitals all over the country where you could, for example, bring presents to the patients or meals to the parents staying with their kids in the hospital.

    Second, consciously decide what standard of living you want, and then donate the rest of your money to people who need it more than you do. Start a scholarship at your alma mater. Get involved in Operation Smile or other international charities, and see just how far $100 can go in Haiti or Mali.

    Third, instead of taking expensive trips, go on a volunteer trip with organizations like CHOICE (which I think was started by Mormons) or other groups where they take two weeks and go work on projects in third world countries.

    Fourth, make it known to your elected officials that you are committed to reducing poverty and spreading prosperity. Political activism works! I’ve seen it in action. If the U.S. just honored its financial committments to the U.N. and other aid organizations, so much more could be accomplished to end poverty. But, instead, the U.S. promises lots of money, and hardly ever delivers on its promises. Mostly, because people don’t ever talk to their elected officials and show them that they care about sharing wealth with people in other countries. We also need to make sure we’re not throwing money away – we need to talk/send emails to officials about reforming the current distribution systems, looking at debt forgiveness, seeing what the root causes are of the more intractable poverty and social problems.

    People need to make a commitment, speak up and share the prosperity we have with others less fortunate. On a selfish note, it will actually help us in the long run to eradicate poverty and to help build more stable societies in Africa and the Middle East (without military intervention).

    Anyway, I know these issues aren’t at the top of your agenda, or the agenda of most people, but more can be done. And should be done. If we truly believe we are all brothers and sisters on this earth today, we have more of an obligation to our brothers and sisters than shaking our heads about how deplorable the genocide is in Darfur, and then go back to eating our dinners and American Idol.

  73. John Mansfield: So, all our trivial banter over baseball and pop stars and politics is to be suspended in favor of continual expressions of outrage as long as something bad is happening somewhere?…

    Great point and nicely said! That’s exactly the kind of point that I was trying to make, only I took up 4 times the space trying to make it.

    Stephanie: Sorry to waste a comment on AT, but I guess my tolerance for annoying people is lower than normal today…

    Two things here: First, you’re never wasting a comment when you use it to talk about me. Second, you and my wife should probably go bowling.

    Steve Evans: I guess the problem with outrage is that it is exhausting, tiring work. I am too busy, and too tired, to be constantly outraged at things (which explains why AT has not been banned at BCC).

    So I’m banned in spirit, but not in letter? This is truly the best of both worlds!

    But seriously, I really do need to behave from time to time in such a way that people like John H and Stephanie feel a need to reach out and castigate me. If I didn’t, then the people over at Times & Seasons who squirm and stew about what I have to say and how I say it would never get a chance to pat themselves on the back for banning me.

    Ronin, rj, and Eric Russell: thanks for the kind words.

  74. Arturo, your smugness is unbecoming. People who might take you seriously discount anything you say when you post heaping helpings of self-justifying reveling into public forums not of your own making. Why dont you start your own blog? You seem to have plenty to say, and plenty of time to say it.

  75. I’m at a loss to explain why someone should take me seriously, Kurt. If my arguments don’t speak for themselves, then I’ve nothing to add. But I will say a few words on the topics of starting a blog, speaking in a borrowed forum, and being smug:

    Whether I’m trying to be creative, profound, funny, interpretive, protective, argumentative, or just frivolous, I’m always doing so as your peer and your equal. I’ve no pretense of authority or prestige. Nor am I ever more critical of others than I am of their arguments. I’ll address without pretense or pedantry anyone willing to voice an opinion. I’ll very frequently offer a lively engagement. And nobody will ever think the worse of you for disagreeing vociferously with me.

    You won’t find me announcing to others that I’ve no interest in discussing something with you. I’ll not scoff or belittle your credentials or your background. I won’t bicker with you over your choice of words or try to lord my morality over you. I won’t purposefully dodge your points under the pretense of being clever. I’ll never suggest that you be banned. I’ll never be in any position to edit or delete your comments if they irritate me.

    But you are right: I am sometimes smug. Indeed, most of what people say about me is probably true. But I am, after all, a very good sport, and I like to think that I pull it all off with a certain effortless aplomb. So in keeping with the topic of this thread, might I suggest that your “outrage” (so to speak) about me is a bit misplaced.

  76. Arturo, you certainly are very impressed with yourself, even if you do say so yourself.

    Isnt it up to readers to decide whether or not you are all you claim to be, as your first sentence implies? Then why do you have to pedantically point out your merits in your own defense? Your arguments do speak for yourself, and that is why you are at a loss to explain why someone should take you seriously.

    Given the evidence you have provided, my suggestion that you go and start your own blog is one that is not misplaced at all. Anyone who has time to post as frequently as you, as voluminously as you, and who can scour archives for examples of his meritorious conduct certainly has 5 min to go to blogger.com and register. Anyone with all the talents you so obviously manifest is certain to be capable of filling up a blog with pithy content and garnering quite a following in no time flat. You could even include a link to Care Bares.

  77. Kurt: Arturo, you certainly are very impressed with yourself, even if you do say so yourself.

    I’m perplexed. Do you that it would be more modest for someone besides myself to indicate that I’m impressed with myself?

    Kurt: Isn’t it up to readers to decide whether or not you are all you claim to be

    I don’t claim to be anything, Kurt. I indicate what my efforts have been. It is indeed up to readers to determine whether those efforts are worthwhile.

    Kurt: Anyone who has time to post as frequently as you, as voluminously as you, and who can scour archives for examples of his meritorious conduct certainly has 5 min to go to blogger.com and register.

    Again, I’m perplexed. I don’t believe that I mentioned time as factor in why I have no desire to make my own blog. But if you’d like more information than I’ve provided above, I’ve given a few other reasons here.

  78. AT: “I’ll not scoff or belittle your credentials or your background.”

    I do remember one thread on T&S where you were trying to compare paychecks with some of the other commenters who had advanced degrees. I wish that I could find the link.

  79. I actually link to that thread above as my example of an argumentative commont, Scott. The comment that you mention is comment #69 in that thread, and I say the following:

    It’s unfortunate (and a little crass) that you’ve brought up credentials. Perhaps you’d also like to compare paychecks? At any rate, as you mature you will both become more comfortable with yourselves, and you won’t need to needlessly brandish your degrees.

    Thus, you can see that I’m using the idea of comparison of paychecks to poke fun at the notion of touting credentials, and I explicitly discuss it in the context of it being crass. I would never seriously suggest what you imply that I suggested, and I’m frankly astonished that you would take it that way.

  80. Arturo,

    Try this out. You don’t fit that definition when you go on about how creative, profound, funny, etc. you are.

    You dont claim to be anything? Then why are you publicly preening over yourself? If you were only interested in letting others decide for themselves, then why the self-labeling and evidence to bolster your claims?

    I dont recall attributing “time” to you as a factor. I was simply pointing out you obviously have plenty of it, as evidenced by your frequent and persistent activities here and elsewhere. Why don’t you use some of it to make your own blog where you will not have to worry about bannination, since you are so concerned about it. Or is that just a badge of honor for you? Look at me, I make admins squirm and stew.

    I think you are just a contrarian, who revels in the attention he gets by acting out negatively, and thats why you dont want to start your own blog. Because nobody would pay attention to you. Here you have a built in audience who bristles at you when you make rakish comments, and you love it.

  81. Kurt, you should probably just let it go.

  82. Kurt: You don’t claim to be anything? Then why are you publicly preening over yourself? If you were only interested in letting others decide for themselves, then why the self-labeling and evidence to bolster your claims?

    I’ve corrected you once on your mistaken reading of my earlier statement. Nevertheless, you continue to carry on with your poor reading of my earlier comment. Let’s be perfectly clear about what I said:

    Whether I’m trying to be creative, profound, funny, interpretive, protective, argumentative, or just frivolous, I’m always doing so as your peer and your equal. (emphasis added)

    I don’t think that I can be blamed for trying, and I’d never presume to insist that I’ve succeeded. At any rate, next time you accuse someone of publicly preening themselves, you’ll do well to make sure you’re perfectly clear about what they’ve said.

    Kurt: I think you are just a contrarian, who revels in the attention he gets by acting out negatively, and thats why you don’t want to start your own blog. Because nobody would pay attention to you. Here you have a built in audience who bristles at you when you make rakish comments, and you love it.

    Am I to understand this as an ironic attempt to deny me the courtesy that I’ve explicitly extended to you? Or should I take this as your substitution for an actual response to my arguments here or elsewhere?

  83. Well, that’s a problem with blogs; you can lose the context of a comment, especially with a quick read. I thought it was funny when I first read it, that is probably why I remembered it- You and a bunch of lawyers going over your tax returns.

  84. a random John says:

    Kurt,

    Once you learn to laugh it off it isn’t too bad. Unless you are his wife… I am assuming that you are not his wife. He is certainly getting what he wants out of you either way.

  85. Methinks there is a popular revolt brewing to banish AT from BCC. All those in favor, say aye.

    Aye.

    P.S. AT – I think you need to take your ball and go home. The only support you have received around here is that you have “diarrhea of the mouth” or something like that. Of course, this is a decision to be made by the higher echelons of power at BCC, so they may actually enjoy your antics that stir up controversy and provoke people to comment on your ridiculous posts. Maybe if we all ignored you, you would go away?

  86. Nay.

    I quite enjoy reading AT’s back and forth and methinks that is one of the strengths of BCC as compared to, say, T&S. I could list why, but there is no doubt in my mind that AT could handle all his detractors en masse a la Neo in the second Matrix. Nonetheless, this is my support that doesn’t include the words “diarrhea of the mouth.”

  87. a random John says:

    I vote that those who choose not to identify themselves be banned!

  88. rJ, the anonymous are kidding themselves if they think they are truly such. The Admin knows all.

  89. a random John says:

    They are anon to me. Unless I have hacked your server… I say stand up and be counted!

  90. Brandy B. says:

    Laurie: as human nature and society becomes more advanced and enlighted, so will the treatment of prisoners.

    Well then we’re probably moving in the wrong direction. Consider Abu Ghraib.

    But don’t we already know this? How many times have we heard church leaders tell us that the world is getting more wicked than it’s ever been before?

    Maybe that statement is not just refering to gay marriage or abortion like many church members seem to assume. Maybe it’s talking about torture too. There’s a quote that I’ve seen before that goes along the lines of “the forces of evil have never been so well organized.” I turn on the TV and see Abu Ghraib, and I think maybe that statement is talking about what we’re doing in Iraq.

    Stephanie: I guess people need to see movies like “Hotel Rwanda” to make them realize the horror – but even the success of that movie hasn’t raised the consciousness of what is happening in Darfur. We rant and rave about gay marriage and abortion while hundreds of children are dying every day from needless violence and preventable diseases. Let’s get our priorities straight.

    Amen, sister!

  91. Since this thread has mostly gone to the dogs anyway, I’ll put in my support for AT. He has interesting things to say (and equally interesting ways of saying them).

  92. Steve Evans, Why should I let it go? Because anaylyzing Arturo’s behavior is a waste of time? Or, does he have your endorsement? Or, both? If he has your endorsement, then I’ll wander off to other places and not waste my idle minutes in this place anymore.

    Arturo, You corrected me once? OK, forgive me for seeing no significant difference between trying to be creative, profound, funny, etc. with supporting evidence provided and actually claiming such. You would never presume to insist you have succeeded, you would only include substantiating links as evidence of your trying. If thats not intent, I guess I dont know what is. Nevertheless, I will allow you to backpedal, I will retract my accusation of public preening, and allow readers to draw their own conclusions.

    You are to take my “I think…” statement as my thoughts. There is nothing implicit in the statement, it is quite direct, and addresses my original comment, in No. 74, which you ignored in your original response in No. 75, and I brought up again in 76, and you attempted to sidestep in 77. Upon reflecting on your behavior I came to a conclusion, which conclusion I stated. You should take it as such. Would you care to respond directly to my observation, rather than side-stepping it again with two questions?

    a random John, he wants more than just attention. While that is part of it, he wants to be respected as an authoritative voice. My original point in No. 74 implicitly points out to him that he can get the former, but not the latter.

    Anon, I never suggested bannination. Him getting his own blog doesnt preclude his posting on others. He is the one who brought bannination up.

    Pris I havent seen the second Matrix, but am confidant Arturo is flattered by the comparison. I dont see Neo as a kung fu code kicker, I see him as a false Christ, an immoral and unethical deliverer that saves people without requiring them to change.

  93. Kurt, I suggested that you stop because analyzing AT is a waste of time, and worse, it’s a horrible threadjack that detracts from Laurie’s wonderful post. I am not interested in discussing AT; Laurie is similarly uninterested. It’s simply rude of everyone to have derailed this thread starting at comment 63 or so for this tired discussion about AT, which has already occurred in divers places over time.

  94. a random John says:

    Kurt,

    It is useless. If you find it unplesant to “discuss” things with him then don’t. If you’ll notice, most have given up as they don’t get any satisfaction out of the conversation.

  95. Arturo used to put me off, but I started paying attention to his content, when he posts on topic. I think he’s a pretty smart guy.

  96. Laurie DiPadova-Stocks says:

    Steve, I disagree with your point that there has been a threadjack that detracts from the original post. For one thing, I have seen some outrage in these responses!! :-)

    But more seriously, I have also detected serious thought. It would strengthen the blog to have more emphasis on substance and less on form–that is to say, to have some resolve for civil discourse and not reactive assertions which distract from the ideas being expressed. Reasonal people can differ. We can disagree with one another without being disrespectful.

  97. What I find outrageous, perhaps even more so than the abuse (which apparently is still the exception rather than the rule), is the fact that so many of these people are still being held even though they may not have done anything wrong. It’s simply not right. They should either be put on trial or let go.

    And at the risk of hijacking this thread, which isn’t my intent, does anyone have thoughts on Luis Posada or what will happen to him? Here’s a guy who has admitted committing terrorist acts (although he says now that he was just pulling the New York Times’ leg in his admissions), and there’s a strong case to be made that his is at least partly responsible for a plane bombing (although, in fairness, he was acquitted twice of those charges). Yet the United States seemed to be in no hurry to bring him to justice, until he in essence started thumbing the nose at immigration officials by showing up on TV repeatedly.

    I certainly hope Bush doesn’t have the gall to grant Posada asylum. Posada should be deported to Venezuela or Cuba, but I don’t see that happening either.

    What Bush does will say a lot about whether he really opposes terrorism, or only the terrorism that our enemies commit.

  98. danithew says:

    As far as I’ve been able to tell Bryce has been the least polemical and most reasonable person in the ‘Nacle to date (at least of the male bloggers). When he cares to comment he has served the invaluable service of blogspat referee or fairness judge over and over again. So when he says to let AT continue to post comments, that pretty much settles it for me.

    At the same time it seems that Arturo has received sufficient negative feedback that he should give it some consideration? Maybe? Just a little? My thinking is that sometimes dialing back the rhetoric a little bit would be really beneficial to him and to the general tone of the threads he cares to comment on.

  99. Lamonte says:

    Laurie – Great post. I’m sorry to be entering the fray so late but it’s been a busy week. I haven’t had time to read read all 98 comments but there seems to be a theme – Arturo Toscanini against the world (and common sense.) May I just comment on AT’s initial comment – “What you call the “torture” that went on in the Iraqi prisons goes on daily on fraternity and sorority houses everywhere in the US under the guise of hazing”. People have died because of this “abuse”. Let me repeat – PEOPLE HAVE DIED. How can you dismiss these actions as simple hazing?

    I’ve written my Senator (John Warner) who as chairman of the Armed Services Committee has previously vowed to properly investigate this stain on American integrity. His responce to me was that the report by the Army’s inspector general is enough to restore the credibility of the military and the country. Maybe he (and a few bloggers) should get out of their houses and into the world and talk to citizens of other nations to see much our credibility has been damaged and continues to be so.

  100. a random John says:

    Lamonte,

    Before you let the frat boys off so easily, remember that there have been a number of deaths in the past few years attributable to hazing.

  101. danithew: At the same time it seems that Arturo has received sufficient negative feedback that he should give it some consideration? Maybe? Just a little? My thinking is that sometimes dialing back the rhetoric a little bit would be really beneficial to him and to the general tone of the threads he cares to comment on.

    I appreciate your evenhandedness, danithew. I have always found you to be a levelheaded and intelligent commenter. In this case, I’d urge you to consider the sources. The T&S crowd? (And for the record, I seldom use the term chick anymore; nor have I engaged in any top-that-insult contests since my exchange with Neil Labute–though I still maintain that it was the editing of his comments that angered him more than my heckling.) Some anonymous whiners? Aside from my initial post, which dismissively counseled the outraged among us to “grow up,” I challenge you to find on instance of my rhetoric in this thread that is over the top. Are people here seriously upset that I find a claim by William F. Buckley to be “astonishingly stupid”?

    On the contrary, and as usual, the wave of vituperation in this thread has been directed more toward me than emanated from me. Though there have been exceptions, I’m generally much more polite to others than they are to me, including many of those who have banned me (or would have me banned) for being “impolite.” I like John H, but I do believe that I was more polite to him than he was to me. Am I wrong? I’ve even gone so far as to enumerate my ground rules for polite engagement, each one of which has generally been broken at one time or another by the ban DKL/AT crowd.

    I can’t say for certain why people react to me this way, but I can guess that it occurs for the same reason that set Kurt off. I provoke iconoclastic resentment because I’m terribly, terribly arrogant. Thus, it is not any one thing I say in my posts, but more the over all tone in which I say it and in which I generally conduct myself. My arrogant disposition may or may not be a good thing, but it is not the kind of thing that can be fixed with a minor adjustment.

  102. Mark N. says:

    Anon: The only way to win is to use superior intelligence, and overwhelming firepower.

    Now, if I could just find a statement from Jesus in any of our scriptures that would be a clear paraphrase of that idea, I’d feel a lot better about it. Unfortunately, I doubt I’m going to find anything close. You might want to cite Laban’s beheading as such a case, but that was in an Old Testament setting. We’re clearly supposed to be operating on a completely different basis in these post-New Testament times.

  103. Tom Friedman has a wonderful op-ed piece in today’s NYT thinking about the outrage stirred by reports of a Koran being placed in a toilet and the lack of outrage at suicide bombers targeting civilians.

    Oh yeah, and AT is a bad person.

  104. Arturo, yes, you are arrogant. There are a couple more things though. First, the veneer of politeness. You are a sophist, clever with words. You twist your way out when you get caught and you unfairly accuse people of things in an effort to cast them in a bad light. Just as you did above in your exchange above with me. You respond to questions with more questions, running down tangents rather than addressing the issue. Youre really not more polite than your detractors, youre just more polished, like a good used car salesman.

    Second, is your nome de plume. The reason I have been badgering you about getting your own blog and you have been avoiding it is, I believe, you already have one. It seems likely to me that you are in fact already an active participant in the bloggernacle and you are hiding behind a nome de plume to post anonymously without fear of repercussions on your public blog. This is just oily. Even if youre not, youre still hiding from everyone. If I am totally wrong, then prove it.

    iggy, Friendman’s piece is interesting. But, he fails to mention the outrage about the allegedly toileted Koran really isnt what set the people rioting. Thats just an excuse by anti-Karzai forces who were already out looking for a reason. If it wasnt that, they would have found something else or made something up, which is why they keep rioting and protesting even after the Newsweek retraction. What? You expect them to say “Ooops, sorry!” Facts and the truth are irrelvant as long as you win, just ask any sophist.

    And, AT isnt a bad person, he is a bad persona.

  105. a random John says:

    Kurt,

    Beating a dead horse here. Most people here know AT’s name. He’ll probably give you his phone number if you ask nicely.

  106. Kurt, thank you for recognizing my facility with language. You seem to believe that I should have included “sophistical” in the list different moods that I’ve aimed at. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one. At any rate, I wish you’d have read the example comments for the moods that I did mention. At least one of them was made under my real name, and it is that real name that almost everybody already knows (as rj points out).

    And I don’t believe you’re being entirely fair to iggy. Specifically, you’re wrong about me. I’m am a bad person, a very bad person.

  107. I think I have located the outrage. It is here, at this crappy threadjack.

  108. Where’s the outrage?

    Right here. Now what can I possibly do about it? I can’t very well go kill the morons who perpetrated these crimes, or I’d land in prison myself.

    But know that I am outraged.

  109. That’s true, he will give you his phone number and his e-mail. He’s nicer in person, too.

  110. This thread has become a troll feeding frenzy!!!

    Have we learned nothing from the Three Billy Goats Gruff?

    http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0122e.html#gruff

    Thanks for the post, Laurie. Not sure if this was quite the outrage you were going for, but maybe that’s your whole point.

  111. I haven’t read any of the other comments, I was responding to Laurie’s original post.

    I am outraged, but so what? What can I possibly do about my outrage?

  112. Sorry, Steve. I tried to lay off, because I figured I’d done enough damage. But it just kept going and going and going. And once you have people with manners as impeccable as those of Bryce and danithew posting off topic, you can pretty much stick a fork in it.

    And Tess, it’s only been a Troll feeding frenzy to the extant that a group of anonymous posters insisted on proposing that I be banned. This sort of comment adds nothing to a discussion at all, and I think the lesson to learn is that they should just been deleted without further ado. As it is, I have been flattered to see people actually speak up in my defense (thanks, everyone). Even so, I’d much rather be responding to John H’s slings and arrows–at least those were closer to the topic of outrage.

    annegb, have we met? Where might you have heard that I’m actually nice in person?

  113. Well, I didn’t mean in actual person, I meant e-mail. But it feel like in person. I’m sure you are very nice in person.

    Remember when I said I wanted to smack you up the side of the head?

    Now I’m careful to read your posts and disregard the smart aleck stuff and I think you are a very good and sensible writer.

    As far as outrage at treatments of prisoners overseas, I’m sure nothing we have done can be as bad as what they have done and do to each other and would do to us if they got the chance. I’m not proud of what happened at Abu Guraib (sorry for the mispelling), if it were my child who did that, I would come down on them good and hard. But I don’t think it compares to the brutality of what those people are capable of and I am not so quick to jump on the “outrage” bandwagon against our troops who are between a rock and hard place, risking and giving their lives every day.

  114. danithew says:

    LOL. I comment on a thread sometimes and forget to check back. Interesting commentary from all, including AT. Sometimes a threadjack takes over … what can you say. Besides Steve, you know you need material for that Bloggernacle Times zeitgist thingie. :)

  115. Steve Evans, if youre not happy with the crappy threadjack, as you put it, then do something about it besides complain. You have the power. You’ve already deleted inane comments from people about “censership”. Why not enforce some real discipline, starting back at No. 63, which is where you said this thread was derailed. People will do whatever you let them get away with. If you had pulled the trigger at 63, none of this “crappy threadjack” would have happened.

    Arturo, kudos on ingratiating yourself on bcc by brown nosing your benefactors. Your sophistry is better than I had initially estimated. But, still not good enough to address subjects that hit a little too close to home.

    As for the name “David King Landrith”, yes I looked at the links, and how am I supposed to take that seriously when you make comments like this and either do not provide contact information or provide obviously bogus contact information, just as you do with your Arturo pseudonym. Its not unreasonable for me to conclude DKL is probably another pseudonym when it is backed up by nothing more substantive than your current pseudonym. Especially with a middle name like “King”, not that there is anything wrong with that. Which begs the question: Why did you switch from your alleged real name to the next pseudonym? Banned too many time? Why change your behavior when you change your name?

    Your apology to Steve rings hollow. You dragged this out by attempting to back out of something you said, and insinuating ignorance on the part of others. And, it was you who brought up the subject of banning, in No. 73, not some anonymous posters. That others, anonymous and not anonymous, followed up with what you initiated doesnt get you off the hook for that. Dont blame what you started and sustained on others. Take responsability.

    Pris, I am still waiting for Neo…I mean Artur[Ne]o…to knock down all us Agent Smiths. Havent seen anything even remotely like that so far, just a lot of carefully polished words.

  116. John Mansfield says:

    Why is it I can’t get Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam off my mind now?

  117. Steve Evans says:

    Kurt, your wish is granted.

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