What We’ve Failed To Do

*First an unrelated bit of business.  The subscriber space has been updated with new content such as it is.*

Yesterday I lost control.  Those who read my rants in the past might think this is a common occurrence.  After all you’re visiting the blog of someone who wrote an entire book because she was furious.

Actually, though I can get very, very angry, I don’t normally lose control.  Like other people who berserk, I learned early it is easier to keep tight control and make yourself ill than to lose control and have to glue back everything you broke.

The precipitating incident was neither that unusual nor that unexpected – it was simply when it came, both in the sense that it came after the Card attempted crucifixion and that it hit me after a weekend when I had run myself exhausted.

What happened was this, and while I’m not naming names, the names are named in the comment section of “Being Normal” and also in my FB diner, if you read the comment thread (I’m not naming names because I’m mid novel and do not have time to deal with the mess on this blog for the next month): the wife of one of my colleagues – one of the most recognizable names in this field – and herself a performer, chose to write a poem honoring the surviving Boston bomber, or at least glorifying him as a poor victim.

Is the young man – only a year older than my younger son, heaven help us – a victim?  Undoubtedly.  But not our victim.  He’s a victim of his upbringing and his poisonous beliefs.  To the extent the US influenced those it was with the left-America-hate, against which immigrants have less defense than those born here, and which the writer of the poem would heartily endorse.

To the extent those terrorists were homegrown it was because their family didn’t come over at the bottom, with dreams of making it in America.  Those two kids were not working night shifts to pay for community college.  They were wealthy, well-heeled and attended the best colleges: where they were told they were Victims and America something to hate.

This woman clearly agrees that they’re long-suffering victims, more pitiable than the innocents they killed.

Right now you’re going “So?”

In fact two of my Baen colleagues told me just that – one giving me the (possibly justifiable, since by then I was too angry to explain myself) “What is this to us?” answer, and the other lecturing me on how the field is full of such leftists and she, herself, still being cloaked, has witnessed instances of writers being kept back/snubbed by leftist colleagues, because they failed to pass a loyalty test.  That she thought this was news to me, when I was cloaked for ten years and when I’m more sensitive to Marxism than a cat to the smell of poo was almost tear-inducing.

But both reactions helped me home in on why, having read that “poem”, I went from zero to my muscles knotted with fury instantly.

First, let me go over the thesis to my post last week about “Being normal.”  Humans are social animals.  Whether you believe we were created or “just growed” the basis upon which we are built is that of a social ape.  That means most individuals, confronted with a group, will strive mightily to be normal.

This is the power that drove the melting pot.  This is what made blended societies (America is not the only.  I come from a country colonized by Romans, Greeks, Celts, Swabians, Vandals (you knew that) and Visigoths (though those were further South) and the North of which was a target of French crusaders and later the place where Englishmen sent their ne’er do well sons, before they had an empire.) work.

People tend towards the perceived median of their society.  The process of dropping someone in a new society and watching them integrate has a name: Acculturation.  This is where you drop your former culture and adopt the new one.

As someone who has gone through this – and then ran screaming and adopted what my new one should be – let me assure you humans have exquisitely fine-tuned sensors for what models to adopt, what postures will be rewarded, what will be punished.

It’s not a moral judgment, though you CAN apply morals and thoughts to it, which is why I’m not an extreme-left Latino-victimhood college professor, though that would be the most highly rewarded.  (Most people don’t, though.  Because we’re CLEVER monkeys we go with what’s most highly rewarded.)

Weirdly I’m not talking about the bombers, themselves, though I’d warrant a similar process went on there.  I’m talking about us: about America and specifically about any “artistic field” including my own, though I get a little squeamish when people tell me we’re “artists.”  I aspire to craftswoman.

I’m not stupid, though I can play dumb on TV.

Even before I tried to be published; before I attended my first convention and became aware of the politics in the field and among writers, I was aware of the … ah… hierarchy.  The hierarchy, denoted by those who got the big push (ie were on every shelf, were talked about and got awards) was as in every intellectual profession “the more left the better.”

There was little room to be mistaken. The stories talked about at this time, in the waning years of the cold war, were always the ones where somehow the USSR was better than us and won.

I decided early on I couldn’t go all the way in acculturating to the field.  I had seen too much of communists gone wild, and I KNEW history and how much wilder they could go.  After all, one must be able to look at oneself in the mirror in the morning.

But most people didn’t have my experiences or my internal stops.  Most people acculturated, either to enter the field (or before – those who came from excellent colleges) or afterwards.

The problem is this: any isolated group – and writers of science fiction and fantasy are isolated in their own way and by their own peculiarities – will go more and more extreme, because the people who acculturate, want to show how they are “more authentic” than the people already there.

Since the field of competition in sf/f was “weird leftism” (and I mean that.  We’re not talking the leftism of Card or Robert A. Heinlein who, yes, was a leftist most of his life.) that’s what started going more and more extreme over the last thirty years, PARTICULARLY since the fall of the USSR.

No longer having a “great champion” to lionize, they invented causes: feminism, western imperialism, etc etc etc.  They convinced themselves America was the worst possible country ever.  (Mostly because they’re either spectacularly ignorant of the history of all other countries, or they choose to see only the good parts.) They postured as more sensitive, more feeling, more—

Which leads us to where we are today.

And the reason that poem drove me over the edge was the full realization of where we are today.

Orson Scott Card was near-crucified for expressing an opinion one would EXPECT from someone with his religious beliefs.  (I disagree with his opinion but while religious I’m very odd.  Also, my religion is not his.) HOWEVER it is not only permissible, it is ENCOURAGED to publish a poem empathizing with a mass murderer, who murdered in the name of a religion that HANGS gay people, mutilates women, and aims at world-wide dominance.

Wait, what?

But see, the second religion a) has been identified as “of little brown people” which is why we keep getting told being anti-Islam is “racist” – even though most of them look about as dark as I am.  b) it aims to destroy America, and so it must be good, right?

(And before you tell me the repulsive terrorist-glorifying poem was written by one of my colleague’s wife, not himself.  Yes.  Indeed.  However, DO rest assured that in this field we have to watch what our spouses do too – or we had to.  I frankly can go indie and my give-a-d*mn is broken. – Imagine as a thought experiment that my husband wrote a poem about the Koch brothers, sweet Libertarian bachelors who have not in fact ever killed anyone.  How long do you imagine it would take before ANYONE refused to talk to me at conventions?)

So this is the way things are.  Why would they upset me, if I’ve always known they’re that way?

Because I suddenly realized, with a swimming sense of nausea and shame that this is as much our fault as theirs.

ANY field that’s isolated will tend more and more extreme.  The attitudes rewarded will go further and further off kilter.

In our field, they’re not isolated, but those of us among them keep very, very quiet.  We don’t name and shame.  We certainly don’t SHAME.  We do what my colleagues did yesterday, and shrug and go “This is normal for them.”  We even admire the more talented of them, despite their moral aberrations.

This is because for most of us politics is not religion.  We don’t punish apostates.  Instead, we are willing to go “Oh, yes, that’s what he was taught.  But he’s still a superb artist.”

The reverse is not true.  On the other side politics is religion.  Have the wrong opinions and you’ll “never work in this town again.”

The end result is that “the right” in the field (in almost any entertainment field) and by “right” here I mean even squishy libertarians like myself, moderates itself.  I can’t picture in any way shape or form anyone writing a poem glorifying someone who took a gun to IRS agents, say.  I certainly can’t imagining them thinking it would further their career, or make them “hip.”

But the left has no such checks.  They’ve long ago passed the boundaries of what is normal outside the field.  The all-scoundrel-males, all-saintly-abused-females-all-the-time crashed print runs enough.  Now we’re subsisting on a tenth of what our precursors sold.

And yet, none of us stands up in front of the crazy train and screams “you’re going too far and the bridge is out ahead.”

So they try to tune to the group, and they don’t know that the group is now an inch from a yawning chasm.

Think about it: in my professional group, in MOST artistic professions, the “normal” reaction (and yes, I’ve seen it from colleagues who didn’t write posts) to a heinous attack that kills innocents is to feel sorry for the criminal.

We should have stood up and shouted “fire” in this theater long ago.  Because there is a fire and it is threatening not just to disconnect our field from the rest of the country, but to set the country against itself and, ultimately, cost us our lives.

But, you’ll say, if we so much as say “boo” to them, they start a storm of poo flinging.  They accuse us of horrible crimes.  Some of it will stick because people don’t investigate.

Do you think I don’t know that?  Note I’m not naming names IN THE POST because I have a job and don’t have time to deal with this.  And they would surely start a witch hunt.

I’ve watched demonize Heinlein with a constant shrieking of “Sexist, racist, homophobe” even though for his time and place, Heinlein was almost pathologically NONE of those.

We cut them slack, we admire them where they’re right, we do not withhold anything due to their opinions, we do not accuse them of preposterous crimes.

Even the poor woman who wrote the poor poem (well, it is) is PROBABLY not a bad person.  She is, however, a Liberal Arts graduate, and clearly she was a good student.  And there are no cries to tell her “Bridge out ahead” – not in her circles.  She actually can write this, with no one frowning at it, and THINK she’s “speaking truth to power.”  (Because the side that has no say in any artistic field is the power, doncha know?)

And since yesterday I’ve been afflicted by a sense of guilt.  Because we should have screamed long ago.  Our forebears in the field should have screamed before I was even out of elementary.  They didn’t.

Now what?  I’m no more willing to be a martyr than the rest of you.  Some of the poo will stick, and even indie, I have to sell to the public.

I don’t think any of us can in conscience do to them what they do to us.  Politics is not religion with us.  We see the good in them despite the loony beliefs.

So, what?  I don’t know.

This wouldn’t bother me as much if I weren’t religious and if I didn’t believe in a terrible day of judgment when my soul will be weighed against what I’ve done, and what I’ve failed to do.

Or maybe I would.  A friend commented about how eventually, the cold civil war will turn hot, because we can’t talk to them anymore.  And then I was reminded of this passage, from Starship Troopers on house breaking a puppy:

“Suppose you merely scolded your puppy, never punished him, let him go on making messes in the house… and occasionally locked him up in an outbuilding, but soon let him back in the house with a warning not to do it again.  Then one day you notice that he is now a grown dog and still not housebroken – whereupon you whip out a gun and shoot him dead….”

Our colleagues are not dogs.  But like dogs, they try to fit in the pack.  And in many ways we’ve been treating them as the stupid dog owner above treated his puppy.  “They’re just—“ this or that.  “It’s best to ignore their fits.”

Which means the group, as a whole is running around making a mess out of the culture.  Are vague threats to take up arms the right response?  Shouldn’t we try a rolled up newspaper first?

But, you say “poo flinging!”  Yep, indubitably.

And I – even I, even with indie – don’t have time for it.  But it might behoove us to start thinking of making time, and of making fun of the more ridiculous bits of their madness.

Because otherwise it will just get madder.   And because a culture that lionizes those who want to kill it is not long for this world.

UPDATE: BTW, when you’ve managed to get to both Dave Freer and I (given we’re the sort of bums who JUST want to tell fun stories and make a decent, non-spectacular living) you’re burning your good will with the general public.   And while this is not about the poem, it strikes close.

347 responses to “What We’ve Failed To Do

  1. I’ve read the poem three times, and still can’t make it make any sense. (E.E.Cummings she ain’t.)

    • Billy Oblivion

      Poetry it ain’t.

      • Exactly– she ain’t a poet and with that tripe– I can tell she’ll never be a real one… ugh

      • Blank verse for blank minds.

        If you are sufficiently a celebrity, things like rhyme, meter, metaphor, imagery don’t matter; the mere fact you can type sends worshipers into paroxysms of praise.

        OTOH, this may be a bridge too far, in support of which I cite this from Monday’s NY Times:
        Along the Route, Main Streets, Hills and a New Kind of Heartbreak
        By DAN BARRY
        At least in part, the bombers’ intent was to disrupt exactly what events like the Boston Marathon celebrate: the American given, as found along a 26.2-mile stretch of Massachusetts pavement.

        The injuries are still too raw to be easily denied, and the Boston Marathon, an event which honors perseverance resonates too closely with America’s soul.

        In Jewish tradition one feature of the Passover sedar is the four sons: the wise son, the wicked son, the simple son and the son who does not know how to ask. The family is instructed to instruct each in the meaning of the celebration of deliverance, and in the case of the wicked son, who asks:

        “What does this drudgery mean to you?”

        To you and not to him. Since he excludes himself from the community, he has denied a basic principle of Judaism. You should blunt his teeth by saying to him: “It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt. For me and not for him. If he was there he would not have been redeemed.”

        Just so ought we view those denying the autonomy of the two Boston brothers. Calling them victims is to deny their human responsibility, to diminish their humanity for the purpose of asserting our own.

        • I was rereading Myers’ “A Reader’s Manifesto” after the Colonel reminded me of it. A specific line came to memory when this…poem splashed its way across the internet.

          “It has become fashionable, […], to exploit the license of poetry while claiming exemption from poetry’s rigorous standards of precision and polish.”

          I think we could substitute morality for poetry, and it would still hold true…

        • In seeing how this posted I realize I ought make clear that only the portion reading:

          Along the Route, Main Streets, Hills and a New Kind of Heartbreak
          By DAN BARRY
          At least in part, the bombers’ intent was to disrupt exactly what events like the Boston Marathon celebrate: the American given, as found along a 26.2-mile stretch of Massachusetts pavement.

          Is from the NYT. I did not want the whole of it italicized and so eschewed blockquoting, but failed to indicate that subsequent commentary was solely the product of my own deranged mind.

          The mismanagement deeply regrets any confusion resulting from this typesetting error. The mismanagement far prefers that all confusion proceed from deliberate acts.

        • A note: blank verse isn’t free verse. It’s metered but unrhymed. Shakespeare’s plays are mostly in blank; so is Paradise Lost.

          • I think that it is now used as a term to describe the state of mind of the author and the critics who hail it, and not necessarily the structure and form of the writing. 😉

            • That’s what RES meant, sure. And it was a fun play on words.

              And most of modern verse is execrable.

              Thing is: *I* write blank, and there isn’t another word in English that means precisely what ‘blank’ means with respect to verse.

              C.S. Lewis wrote an essay on the tendency of technical terms to be degraded into mere terms of praise and blame. He saw it as a loss to the language: we already *have* the words ‘bad’ and ‘good’.

              • I have written poetry since before I could write ;-). Also I have been published a few of my pieces in literary small mags. Here is the sticky– poems are literary and are treated like the literary genre. So the academics are the ones who get the accolades (English professors and the like). Some of the most prestigious literary mags only publish professors or professorial candidates.

                Further academic poetry goes through fads. The one particularly specious fad came from the deconstructionist movement. It was in full swing in the late 90s when I was going to college. Anyway, there were random words with random placement and the only reason you knew the subject was the title. Then the poet would ask you, “so what do you think of my masterpiece?” They hadn’t pushed to the edge– they had been pushed over and were drowning.

                I have written in the forms. At this time I write in free verse because I find that many folks who rhyme too much have the opposite problem from the academics– singsong nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes do have their place, but it actually imho takes away from the images.

                My personal opinion is that a poet needs to learn form, meter, rhyme, etc before trying to break the rules. Plus a good free verse (Leaves of Grass) has its own rhythm and internal consistency.

                • I had an art teacher who argued that until you knew and could follow ‘the rules’ you could not understand why or when it was proper to ‘break’ them. For example, until you could draw in perspective, how could you deliberately distort it for your purpose?

                • My personal opinion is that a poet needs to learn form, meter, rhyme, etc before trying to break the rules. Plus a good free verse (Leaves of Grass) has its own rhythm and internal consistency.

                  This is a rule that applies far beyond poetry.

                  In partial expiation for (some of) my sins I served a sentence as an employee in a comic shop, back in the early Nineties. Looking at the provender offered it became quite clear that a number of “hot” artists had learned to draw from comic books. The original comics artists has learned their craft in art schools and museums, learning the rules of graphic artistry and how and when to bend or even break them, the young hot shots clearly understood none of that, making for some truly … interesting … cover art.

                  This is true in almost any field of artistic endeavor. Pop music is especially prone to it, although some artists learn their craft after initial success while others never do.

                  • Don’t get me started on “A guitar, three chords, and the truth…”

                  • YES– it drives me crazy when I realize that new poets don’t know the difference between an abstract or an image. Or they don’t know what a cliche’ is — lol. I run into this all the time when I edit poets in a site that will not be named. The difference between a good and bad poet (something said to me by an English professor) is the ability to discern the meaning and feel behind a word. Many people can’t tell the difference between walk, amble, trot, or perambulate. It can be learned, but a very few already have it (hint– it is linked to musical ability).

                    • I learned poetry properly in Portuguese. But when I moved here, I couldn’t “feel” the language. I knew the meaning, I just didn’t “feel” the “color” and the “weight” and by then had, like you, figured poetry would not keep me alive. So I concentrated on prose, instead.

                      I’m a recovering poet. It’s been twenty seven years, six months and three days, but even one couplet would be too much 😉

                    • *sigh I will never recover– when I was learning German, the first thing I did was write a poem in that language. It wasn’t good. It just slips out. Prose also has its rules and grammar, etc. etc. etc. and there should be careful consideration before breaking them (except for adding prepositions at the end of sentences– I realized why so many people do it– comes from Old English and German.) Of course, I am careful when I am in academic mode. Thankfully I don’t have to do it too often anymore.

                      Anyway– memoirs are not that hard to write for me. Once you know the academic paper form, it is actually easy– the setup and looking for reference quotes is the hard part. Also twisting everything into third person can be a strain sometimes.

                      On the other hand, short stories and novels have been very hard to learn. It has only been the last ten years that I have fallen into the short story form. I have written novels, but I think that I am still on the learning curve there. I find the distaste from academics about genre writing as extremely funny because it is much harder to write than their type of form writing.

                      With poetry, if it becomes too easy, I go find a form and spend days trying to write in meter and rhyme. 🙂 It makes me a better person.

                    • Short stories were difficult for me…

                    • Short stories are easier for me 😉 … and lyrical poetry is easier for me.

                    • I find the distaste from academics about genre writing as extremely funny because it is much harder to write than their type of form writing.

                      The Spouse has often observed that people in professions tend to place high value on those skills and talents that they know and have honed in themselves. It occurs to me that this relates to the prior discussion about humans and tribalism at ATH. These people have a sensitivity to those traits because the traits are part of their identity that qualifies them as part of a tribe, one made up of people in their profession.

                    • I would agree tribalism and a little neo-aristocrat thinking.

                • The fads at the beginning of the 20th century and thereafter are the reason poetry is no longer a commercial art, as it had been in Byron’s day. The common man no longer had any use for the stuff. Since it was ugly and didn’t make sense, this is hardly surprising.

                  • That, and the fact that poetry accessible to the common man, such as that of Kipling and Robert W. Service, is disdained.

                    When an art form becomes sophisticated for the sake of being sophisticated, its practitioners have their heads up their arses and are shoving mightily.

                  • I hadn’t thought of that. And when it fell in popularity, the publishers as usual blamed the readers “People are no longer literate enough to appreciate our output.”

                    • The same thing happened with classical music or what we think of today as classical music. It was popular music, once; composer-performers were like rock stars, adored by the masses. Touring performers like Jenny Lind packed in the crowds. And then it all became modern, academic, dissonent, difficult … and the masses stayed away in droves.

                    • A little dissonance is a good counterpoint– but whole-scale? Some of that stuff is not worth the CD it is written on–

                    • There are those who think they can elevate themselves by sneering at “middle-brow” culture. Their folly is aptly exposed by Frank Capra’s Longfellow Deeds in this scene from Mr. Deeds Goes To Town:
                      http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/203225/Mr-Deeds-Goes-to-Town-Movie-Clip-Opera.html

                      While they preen as lovers of the arts, their primary purpose is to be seen as patrons. That is one reason the most expensive seats at the Opera and the Ballet are the ones offering the best view from the audience rather than the best view of the stage.

                      The first thirty years of talkies make clear that filmmakers expected the audiences to appreciate and seek out “high-brow” content in their films. Even the Marx Brothers relied on an audience familiarity with Eugene O’Neill and his Strange Interlude for some of their gags.

                    • Yet instrumental sound tracks for fly off the shelves…. (Vader’s theme, aka the imperial march, ftw)

                    • Until classical re-surfaced in movie soundtracks – starting with Star Wars in the 70s. Is it the Chicago Pops that did all those recordings of old tv theme songs, especially Westerns?

                    • Speaking of orchestral and soundtracks, I’ll listen to almost anything by Hanz Zimmer, and Danny Elfman. Absolutlely love the adventurous Klaus Bedelt/Zimmer score to the first “Pirates” movie (even if it did steal from Zimmer’s other stuff, it fit the movie beautifully). And, for those who haven’t really listened to it, the score for Battle L.A. is awesome.

                      Very often with all of these you get moments where “music is for when words are not enough.”

                    • Probably why Jazz took off. In many ways, jazz was in the melodic and harmonic progression of classical music before classical abandoned scale, key, and melody not generated by algorithm.

                    • That’s why art, music, and literature had to turn ugly. Once the riffraff have enough money to emulate your high culture choices, the only way to seal yourself off from them is to make high culture so unspeakable that even the status attached can not allure.

                    • I’ve often thought this. It’s just the aristos again, innit?

                    • I don’t think it is the ‘Aristos”, at least not in the classic sense of aristo. The old aristocrats patronized art for two reasons. First was to get nice things for their own homes. A king could get really nice music or sculpture done, to his own taste. The second reason was to provide entertainment for the masses, bread and circuses so to speak, in the form of art given to cathedrals, support for theaters or festivals etc. In neither case was he trying to elevate himself intellectually above the masses. He didn’t need to, as his inborn position already gave him elevated status. He didn’t need to be clever, leave that for Jews and merchants, mechanics and artists. Low class sorts.
                      The current rot is from self-elected ‘aristos’ who have no social superiority, just cleverness. They want to be aristos but never will be, so they have to find a different way to segregate themselves. The peak elite of this crowd are those who patronize artists that everyone else hates. We-alls is jist too stoopid to unnerstand good art.

                    • Genuine kings and queens, and nobles, often turned to art to shore up their claims to power.

                    • Yes. But when it became feasible for everyone to appreciate “art” then it had to be changed to be “exclusive”. Too good for the lower orders, I guess….

                    • “Inception” has a great soundtrack. I also have “Escaflowne”, “Myst 3: Exile” and a vast collection of “Babylon 5”.

                    • I can’t reply to Dgarsys above because this is already too threaded, but his mention of Danny Elfman reminds me of his ever popular and relevant to this discussion song “Only A Lad” (Oingo Boingo):

                      Lyrics quoted from the full set at:
                      http://www.lyricsfreak.com/o/oingo+boingo/only+a+lad_20102731.html

                      End of the song:
                      Only a lad
                      He really couldn’t help it
                      Only a lad
                      He didn’t want to do it
                      Only a lad
                      He’s underprivileged and abused
                      Perhaps a little bit confused

                      It’s not his fault that he can’t believe
                      It’s not his fault that he can’t behave
                      Society made him go astray
                      Perhaps if we’re nice he’ll go away
                      Perhaps he’ll go away
                      He’ll go away

                      Hey there Johnny you really don’t fool me
                      You get away with murder
                      And you think it’s funny
                      You don’t give a damn if we live or if we die
                      Hey there Johnny boy
                      I hope you fry!

                • Oh, and I didn’t set out to write in verse. The blasted story refused to be told any other way.

                  It’s fantasy with dragons, sorcerers, and hang gliders. The Literature Snobs can keep their grubby mitts off it. 😀

              • As I was brushing me teef las’ night it struck me as I owt apologise for ‘lowing the joke to lure me inter tol’rance of imprecise word usage. Part o me disdain fer what missy A.P. had done was its been so ‘orrid that it defies describin’, seein’ as how it violates multiple principles of poe’tree in a single stanz. But that’s nowt cause to misuse some puir word.

                I should have said “Free verse for minds free of content.”

              • You can write VERY GOOD free verse. I recommend Reiner Kunze, in translation or original. (Though I haven’t read him in the last ten years, so if he’s gone batty since then, it’s not my fault.)

  2. You and a lot of the fellow authors surrounding you have a following of… creatures like me because even when we read scifi or fantasy we can not quite buy into the fantasy of the left when written into a story. Stand by your beliefs and your works and the fans will too. As for the poem I think I said enough on the other post to express my distaste for it.

  3. Not surprised by the poem from the poetess. The Dresden Dolls defined a growing sub-genre that glorifies life in Germany during the end of the Weimar Republic….the glorious and decadent “Cabaret Days”. And we know how that all worked out.

    What has surprised me is the number of SF authors who posted this on their wall or personal site. Maybe because she’s Neil’s wife. Putting aside the politics, the piece is wretched. Therefore it means that those who praised it praise the politics…cause it damn sure ain’t the art.

    And thus we know part of the reason that SF has gone so sucky. It’s hard to be a visionary of the future if the future you see is not worth living in; that life is so bad that the monsters among us need to be lionized.

    • Professional authors admiringly link to that drivel?

      I wish to pause here and apologise for elsewhere deriding the poem as equivalent to the work of soppy seventh-grade girls. I had no cause for such an attack on soggy seventh-grade girls.

      Those authors can only be doing so as a basis for sucking up to Gaiman, in hopes that some of Gaiman’s fans will sample their wares.

      I wonder if the solution is not to join in the praise of the poem, proclaiming it a satirical masterpiece of mockery of those who would empathize and excuse a mass murderer, a demolition of the pretensions of bad poets and an illustration of the moral void that exists in so many modern artists.

      I mean, she can’t have been serious.

      At simes the most effective criticism is praise for the “wrong” reasons.

      • You know… I LIKE the way you think. (Do you ever touch the sides of a cork screw, while sliding down?)

        • If you knew my Beloved Spouse you would know (a large part of) how I got so twisted.

          In confronting our ideological foes our chief weapon is mockery, mockery and sarcasm. In confronting our ideological foes our two chief weapons are mockery, sarcasm and exposure of their innate racism. In confronting our ideological foes our three chief weapons are …

          • Calvin, I just checked out the comments on Amanda Palmer’s horrible poem, and it looks as if she is getting a ration of ridicule from a lot of people. She may just be humiliated enough to take the whole post down, so I hope someone has screen-capped it all.

          • You should come in again!

          • In confronting our ideological foes our chief weapon is mockery, mockery and sarcasm.

            Mockery, yes, but the right tone of mockery is essential. Hopefully the young will start considering it hip to deconstruct the conditioning.

            Hey kids! You know those professors who are preparing you for jobs at McDonald’s? They couldn’t get jobs at McDonald’s.

            Needs work, but you get the drift.

            • Yes – some mockery they will deem a badge of honor and wear it like Yankee Doodle.

              • I find that a calm “you are a pathetic attention seeker willing to use the deaths of innocents to stroke your ego”– delivered face to face– followed by absolutely ignoring them works best.

                Kinda rough on family relations, though. (When totally unrelated topics are moved to, they exist again.)

              • Hopefully the mockery will become a meme within the younger generation. I have a dream: imagine college “diversity” indoctrination, etc met with snickers from “victims” and “oppressors” alike.

                Regardless of how the initial sparks are created, ultimately the fire must spread of its own accord.

                • Saw it happen in the Navy, with our division “racism” training.

                  It was run by a much hated hypocrite, and we spent something like an HOUR coming up with every racial slur except for the one she wanted.

                  • I always snickered when answering “often” to both “Have you seen someone mocked for their ethnic/gender/cultural background?” and “Have you seen people of different ethnic/gender/cultural backgrounds eating together?” on the command climate survey. I always imagined the diversity bullies pulling an Herbie reading that.

                    • The scary thing is, the first time I actually ran into anti-Catholic bigotry in person was from her.

                      Real “prize.”

                    • The constant accusations of “racism” by the left are nothing more than projection. The Democratic party has always been the party of racism, and it remains so. The greatest political evil is to assume an individual is defined by the group, rather than vise versa.

                    • and that culture is genetic. That’s the purest of evil racism. (Don’t get me started.)

                    • “Don’t get me started.”

                      In the finest of Navy traditions: No balls.

                    • This is beyond the politics of our own nation.

                      Reading an article by R.R. Reno about the why he found the particular criticism of Pope Francis from Verbitsky, a member of the Argentinean press and supporter of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, gave him hope for his papacy I came across the following description:

                      This self-image, which in the last half century of Latin American politics certainly has a basis in reality, gives Verbitsky and many on the left a strong sense of moral superiority. In Argentina the left runs under the banner of justicialismo, an “ism” derived from justicia social, social justice. It’s a term that claims monopoly on justice, implicitly labeling those who oppose their policies as immoral. In different ways, this claim to a monopoly on justice — and rationality, and compassion, and “the future” — is widespread in the West. It creates a political atmosphere in which it’s easy to insinuate, or even say outright, that anyone who dissents from leftist ideologies must be motivated by evil intentions like racism, anti-Semitism, greed, class interest, tribalism, and so forth, or simply doesn’t care about the poor.

                      Right now the leftist have a hold on the market place of ideas, but they are loosing their grip. They are desperate to be seen as the only ones who really care, because that very ‘caring’ is one of the excuses they give themselves for doing that — seizing and maintain power — which they hold is contemptible and claim anyone other than themselves to be doing if they govern.

                      So I repeat myself from a comment in a previous discussion on a prior ATH: Remember Human Wave. Think Human Wave. Write Human Wave. Talk Human Wave. And I add: Live Human Wave.

                    • Adding an adjective to justice is nothing more than an attempt to rationalize injustice.

                      Does it count as living Human Wave to tell one’s mother that the twit she linked approvingly is intellectually inferior to Katy Perry and that liberals are, in fact, the polar opposite of the compassionate people they portray themselves as?

                    • Sometimes it is. I’m convinced my family thinks I’ve gone mad.

                    • Catholics are not an Approved Victim Group. Therefore, they can’t be the victims of bigotry – it’s not possible.

                      Mind you, being a woman is an extremely distant third in things that have caused me trouble, behind being a nerd and a Catholic.

    • “What has surprised me is the number of SF authors who posted this on their wall or personal site.”
      This. This is why I am so worried about the future of sf / fantasy in traditional publishing.
      This is why I think there is no place for me there.

    • thinking that they are immune from consequences is part and parcel of whole shtick, sometimes with much more dangerous effect.

      There was a student at his own commencement talking about violence on the streets, getting cheered, and then announcing it was from a Hitler speech — from which, of all things, he concluded that the violence on the street was good, not that it added to its flaws the peril of bringing in a strong man to stem it.

  4. “But like gods, they try to fit in the pack.”

    I think there’s a typo there:-)

    As to the rest of it, I agree, but I don’t work in publishing and generally avoid politics in public. Not sure how I can thwack foolishness without losing friends, so I just contribute what I can to those I consider worthy, and vote for the least-bad alternative.

  5. I think that the other side flings poo because doing anything else would require actual thought. There was an argument about something Rush Limbaugh said regarding pressure cookers and banning of same and sure enough the thread quickly filled up with trolls throwing poo about Rush all over the place and completely disregarding Rush’s point about how absurd it is to try to ban everything in sight. Meanwhile, the esteemed Sentator from New Jersey, Frank the Louse, was proposing stiffer regualtions on black powder.

  6. Martin L. Shoemaker

    Someone should write a tribute poem for an eight year old child who will never see nine because of this poor “victim”.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      They should do that, but they should do a second version (because the first deserves to stand alone), bringing in mockery of the people who would absolve the perpetrator as a victim and put the onus on America. By tying the TRUE victim to the false one, it might make a stronger statement.

    • I guess it’s just too *obvious* and *normal* to grieve first for a child, two young women and a young policeman, or all those who will be maimed for life. We can’t have that, we must have *special* insight, we are much *deeper* than ordinary mortals, after all.

      • Mere quotidian virtues, nothing to mark you out. Why, if you do that, you don’t get a moral charge from it, and you might even have to pony up some money, be nice to someone, or tell the truth when it inconveniences you to think of yourself as good!

    • the little boy
      Stands to watch the race
      someone sets down a backpack
      the little boy
      never to be a man.

    • Tribute to Martin Richard

      he told a mean knock-knock joke
      was good at math
      and at eight years old
      his life ended at the finish line

      a grin showing one front tooth
      a poster
      no more hurting people
      not just a symbol

      a life cut short

      http://www.bostonglobe.com/2013/04/16/dorchester-neighbors-mourn-martin-richard-year-old-boy-killed-boston-marathon-bombings/keiXi55ZFf2YGityy16EuN/story.html

    • Someone did. You sent me back to Dylan Thomas’s “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London. Cumbersome title. Difficult poem, but haunting. The last verse is magnificent.

    • I wrote this in the same style as Amanda did hers… please don’t hate me because of that:

      A Poem to Martin

      you don’t know why Johar and his brother chose to stand behind you, instead of someone else

      you don’t know why Johar set that backpack down at your feet; it didn’t occur to you to wonder why he moved away once he set it down, either

      you don’t know why those brothers didn’t seem all that interested in watching the race and cheering as people crossed the finish line

      you don’t know how it feels to hate strangers — fellow Americans — as much as they do

      you don’t know why they embraced a “religion” which teaches that murdering other people will get them 72 virgins in Heaven

      you don’t know why they committed this act which ensured you’d never grow up

      you don’t know why they ran down the street as soon as the bombs exploded, like a couple of little pussies

      you don’t know how to turn a pressure cooker into a bomb

      you don’t know why they packed the pressure cooker with nails and ball bearings, but you do know the pain they inflicted in that instant before you took your last breath

      you’ll never know why the video camera outside Lord & Taylor’s was so important

      you don’t know why people covered your face with a white sheet

      you don’t know what it’s like to fall in love and kiss a girl, because at 8, girls are still icky

      you don’t know what it’s like to grow up hating your parents because you’re an idiot, angry, rebellious, envious teenager

      you don’t know what it’s like to spend the afternoon shooting baskets with the rest of your high school friends

      you don’t know what it’s like to deal drugs or do them

      you don’t know what it’s like to be on the dole and resent the people who support you

      you don’t know what it’s like to graduate with honors or graduate at all

      you don’t know why anyone would kill a cop in cold blood, just to steal his gun

      you don’t know why some dilletante artiste would write a crappy poem in honor of a murderer and then claim she’s all about the “empathy” and “interconnectedness”

      you don’t know why anyone would write a poem where she wonders how many vietnamese soft rolls to buy or why she still picks at her fingers and think that would be meaningful to anyone or express some greater Universal Truth

      you don’t know why the FBI ignored warnings from the Russian government about Tamerlan Tsarnaev

      you don’t know why so many people want to talk about what “good” boys those Chechen brothers were, because they don’t seem that good to you

      you don’t know why so many people think it’s so very important to sympathize with murderers, because they’re murderers, not victims

      you don’t know Tamerlan Tsarnaev, because he didn’t go to Heaven like you did

      you do know Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Sean Collier — the other murder victims of the Brothers Tsarnaev — but you wouldn’t if you all hadn’t crossed paths with evil that day.

  7. This reminds me a bit of the founding of America. The loud Englishmen of the time complaining about taxes and no representation were told to be quiet by the Englishmen who just wanted to get along and not raise a fuss. Were people ostracized for their political beliefs then, as now? I don’t know. But they reached a point where they could not tolerate it anymore. It sounds like you have reached a point today. The question is: have enough people reached that point as well?

    • The people, as of yet, have not read Common Sence. 😉

      • My Dearest Friend accused me of misquoting! I do not think he intended it as a compliment or an endearment, although perhaps, he could call it an irony. (At least he has never called me pigeon-toed.) At any rate, maybe I should qualify it:

        This time the people, as of yet, have not read Common Sense.

  8. I’m sorry. I just can’t get all that wound around the axle about it. Yeah, it’s despicable. Evil, evennn. But they’re on their way out. They will end up on Reagan’s ash heap. The world will pass them by and individualism, the proper relationship among liberty, rights, and responsibility, will win out for the same reason water runs downhill. You can’t be responsible for the acts of others and they’ve had plenty of warnings they choose to not only ignore but poo-fling at for to with. Part of their hysteria must be because they recognize the truth of their situation and they can’t fathom the why of it. Scroom.

    M

    • I hope you’re right.

      • A word of perspective, from a similar matter:

        Hers was truly a life less ordinary
        Thatcher’s death gives Ruth Dudley Edwards cause to reflect on how this radical saw off appeasers and transformed her country says Ruth Dudley Edwards
        [SNIP]
        Apart from those who hate her so much that civilised discussion is impossible, the main thing people say is: “I’d forgotten how terrible things were before she became prime minister.” And then we reminisce about the Seventies, trade-union bullies, sclerotic state bodies and the seeming inevitability of economic disaster. And even unpolitical women remember how incredible were the hurdles of miso-gyny and snobbery that the grocer’s daughter vaulted.
        [SNIP]
        Thatcher never courted popularity, and she shrugged philosophically about being loathed. After two decades of demonisation, her death has caused open-minded people to reflect on how this radical saw off the appeasers and transformed her country for the better. The crass and ill-informed protestors and their “death parties” helped to bring tens of thousands of people like me on to the streets to show solidarity with her by watching her funeral procession on a cold day. I found myself fighting back tears as I watched the cortege from behind a barrier in Fleet Street.

        Further down the route, shouts of 100 or so protestors inspired the thousands within earshot to start clapping her. I went afterwards to El Vino’s wine bar, where three friends and I toasted her in champagne. “She’s won the argument in the past 10 days,” said one of us.

        And, indeed, she has.
        http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/ruth-dudley-edwards/hers-was-truly-a-life-less-ordinary-29210893.html

      • In my usual sterling staircase wit, I came up with this definition of Reagan’s Ash Heap: That place obsolete, wrong-headed, and retrograde ideas go to die, like fatally-wounded animals, in pain and pitiful solitude.

        M

    • Mark wrote exactly what I was going to write. Excellent!

  9. There are already some signs of blowback, as people are becoming aware of just how weirdly extreme the left has made itself. Now, when a murderer becomes a professor at a major university, it becomes news. 20 years ago it would not have.
    They are a minority. If we are lucky, we can outlast them.

    • I think there is some movement in the right direction, yes — but is it too little too late? Like you I think we’re going to need luck, and I don’t LIKE that.

      • Portugal may not be a capitalist heaven on Earth now, but isn’t it much improved from the bad old days when the commies were in power? Sure it is still lefty, but even with its budget woes things got better. Not that I am any kind of expert on Portugal. The US has a stronger individualist root system and less rot. I think we’ll make it.

        • The problem is we’re SO GOOD at stuff, like completely messing up education. Portugal like the US and the rest of western civ worries me on the self-hatred front. I’m hoping it’s mostly a pose…

  10. I went and followed the link from the wretched poetesses’ Facebook page to her blog – just out of wanting to see what the fuss was about. Great leaping Jeebus onna bicycle …
    If it’s any comfort to you, the comments on her blog are pretty severe. Perhaps a lot of other people are getting fed up with a policy of being kind to the cruel, and working out that eventually that policy means being cruel to the kind.
    Boston-Cambridge is one of the bluest of blue, ostentatiously tolerant, diversity-worshipping, minority-welcoming places in the US … and the Beantown Blaster Brothers took direct at citizens there. In spite of every advantage given to them there, they still got radically Islamized.

  11. I will try to send you packages in the camp. If I don’t go first.

  12. What I have observed it that in general liberal progressives are in love with and highly committed to their narrative. Where it gets ugly is when that narrative fails to mesh with reality, which it invariably does. Since they are fully invested with a religious fervor in their pet beliefs the disconnect must be someone’s fault. It must be an evil right wing plot. And even that is an oxymoron. On the one hand we’re knuckle dragging idiots, yet on the other we seem to constantly create insidious plots to foil their every well intended efforts to make life the shining utopia they envision.
    And when they do win and things go south it’s never the fault of their unworkable plans, it’s always their obstructionist enemies. Two obvious examples would have to be the dismal failure to stop crime and killing everywhere gun control has been implemented and the coming debacle of Obamacare and the frantic efforts of just about everyone in its path to claim exemptions from the worst provisions. With countless examples of the failure of socialized medicine and the mad scramble to exempt themselves due to “special circumstance,” they still will wax poetic about the wonderful new health care for all initiative.
    It is after all a fairly simple straightforward pattern, consistent over the ages. Create a glorious image of a perfect society totally ignorant or in denial of basic human nature, force the premiss down people’s throats, then blame them when it just never seems to work. Rinse and repeat, where rinse is a euphemism for bloodbath. You’d thing over the ages we’d have killed the fools off, but it must be a flaw embedded in the human genetic code.

    • That was how they filled up the gulags. They knew that they could bring about a perfect Communist Utopia. Therefore, the only thing hindering it could be people willfully acting against it. Every time removing one batch did not work, they had to find another, or admit they were trying to make water run uphill.

  13. I understand your fury, because I feel it weekly. People who are oh-so-smart and caring are saying the most hate filled things aimed at people who just want them to be prosperous, and live and let live, and praising the groups that want to kill them like infected sheep. And no-one says anything besides, “let it go”, and, “it will blow over”, and “you want to work, don’t you.” And the vile, smug humans who have chosen to turn themselves into this, well, they get petted and praised and given a pass on small stuff and never get the kick in the teeth that they are trying to administer to everyone else.
    I wish I could get a collection of such poems mailed to everyone who was locked down in Boston, or who ran in the marathon, I’d llike to think someone else was as angry as I am. But anger doesn’t do anything but make me say things.

    • They took all the footage off my TV,
      Said it’s to disturbing for you and me,
      It’ll just bring anger, that’s what the experts say,
      If it was up to me, I’d show it every day.

      • YES–
        for when they took the images from the air
        the impact of the horror lessened
        now we see it start again
        our children taught to hate their freedom

  14. > The problem is this: any isolated group – and writers of science fiction and fantasy are isolated in their own way and by their own peculiarities – will go more and more extreme, because the people who acculturate, want to show how they are “more authentic” than the people already there.

    Also there’s a phenomena that Clay Shirky calls, I think, “evaporative cooling”: as the density of crazies goes up, the sane people leave…which means that the average craziness level is higher. So now some semi-sane people leave. Which means that the pool is not full of REAL loons, and the semi-loons leave. So now…

    > Is the young man – only a year older than my younger son, heaven help us – a victim? Undoubtedly. But not our victim. He’s a victim of his upbringing and his poisonous beliefs.

    This is an important part.

    Feeling sympathy for the stupid, the doomed, the troubled, the sinners, those who have thrown their lives away – this is a good and moral thing. It is reasonable and good to despair that so many promising young Germans were either drafted into the Nazi military, or were so poisoned by the propaganda and the hate that they signed up of their own accord.

    …but cursing the waste of human potential doesn’t mean that we should feel any less for the VICTIMS of Nazi agression, or that we should hesitate for even a second to pull the trigger when a German soldier is in our sights.

    Christianity understands this quite well: we are told to hate the sin but love the sinner, and criminals are executed, but are given a chance to repent of their sins first.

    The traditional / conservative world view understood these things and had structures to deal with them…and to deal with our conflicted feelings when a person who is a child of God does something inspired by Satan.

    The modern world, with its anti-Judeo-Christian structure and its moral relativism has no sophistication or approach to deal with this most common of human situations, so every response is ad-hoc and confused (at best) or reprehensible (at worst). …or both, like Palmer’s was.

    • I agree – I have some pity for the one still alive (much less for the older brother), but it pales next to my anguish for the victims and their families, or even for the family of the murderers. Those two set a bomb next to children in the crowd, and they watched it go off. My heart shuts down at the horror of that. I cannot grasp it.

      I want to understand what happened with these two, because it will help stop this from happening again. Cults know how to prey on the vulnerable, many kids go through times of despair, and our universities are all preaching America-is-evil as it is, talk about fertile ground (and how culpable is the college atmosphere in all this?)

      But the danger is trying to make this not as horrible as it is – and maybe that’s what motivates a lot of them. If there’s a reason behind it, that makes the crime a lesser thing, maybe it makes it something bearable. Except that it then becomes Blame-the-Victim.

      • It might be my military training or what I have seen in certain places in the world, but they are/were adults and I have no pity for them. They get the same treatment as a mass murderer (one dead and another hopefully). It bothers me that 19 is still considered a child today– it is legally an adult. period.

      • Your a better woman than I, for the only pity I have for the perpetrators is that it is a pity one of them is still alive. (and not because he will be killed slowly.) As for the family, I pity the one who has denounced them and their actions. The rest who defend them… well as far as I am concerned they should take a deep breath right alongside the surviving terrorist.

        • I hope the puir laddie lives a long life, and that he comes to know the magnitude of his sin and repent it, and live on knowing the futility of his repentance and the horror of what he has done.

          Of curse, since our present penal system provides such coddling for the likes of Charles Manson and Mumia Abu-Jamal, I expect any hope of his realizing and repenting is futile.

        • I always hope for the true repentance for anyone still breathing…

          I also hope the survivor turns out to be a treasure trove of information helping us to tract down and eliminate those who recruit, train, finance, etc., and thereby eliminate many future threats.

          I don’t know which hope would require a greater miracle. The first might lead to the survivor spilling his guts, but whether he knows much of value is a question. Worse, I am not sure our government has the fortitude to follow through and make more than a gesture of action.

          • I’d also like to add that while not thinking it worthy of legal forgiveness, I DO empathize with the surviving (i.e. younger) bomber more than I should. I too had a much older brother I idolized. We’ve diverged greatly in beliefs, but ONLY because I moved across the sea. I’m not sure it would have happened otherwise. My beliefs WERE already different from his, but I didn’t even dare think of them myself.
            It’s hard to overestimate the influence of “adored older brother” and if that person is batsh*t nuts a younger sibling might be dragged along with very little volition till MUCH later than 19. Particularly if as was the case in my own family the center of family gravity was the older son, not the parents.

            • It occurred to me last night while brushin’ me teef (a tedious and lengthy process, I admit) to wonder whether anybody asked the “poetess” the simple question: “What’s your point?”

              If it was merely to evoke sympathy for the lad, then the work constituted bathetic wallowing, a voyeuristic exercise.

              If it was an effort to urge leniency, what does she want? Twenty-five consecutive life terms instead of one hundred fifty? A tenured faculty post at Columbia?

              It is, in fact, one of the meanest criticism one can make of such art, to just look at it and ask “Whass’ yer point?”

            • Umm– I think that being the oldest I didn’t know the gravity pull you are explaining although I think I was the pull– in some ways for my brothers (not the sisters though).

            • Yeah, that’s my take – and I know there are cultures where the older son is a substitute father, and the father is a substitute god, almost – and the older brother is looking more and more like a monster.

              I think we also got a taste of what’s being used to indoctrinate, with that head-scarfed woman at the press conference asking the difference between the Boston bombers, and children civilian casualties in Afghanistan (and the twist in her mouth implying she saw no difference).

              And many kids go through a time when they feel lost – particularly when there’s trouble in the family, and they’re in a new school. Many do turn to religion. Fortunately, most religions out there don’t have influential sects telling their young men to blow up the infidel. (Islam has been sending its young men out to do just since it began, which seemed a particularly cruel way of dealing with excess males in a polygamist society – which was probably going on long before Islam).

  15. I’ve long thought we should be engaging the rest of the culture but I’ve never really understood how. If we call them out specifically on one thing they say or do, the response is always “hater” or the like. They’re so insulated against correction that they can’t see the problem. I get so excited when people who are on our side who are higher up in the hierarchy call some of them on the BS.

    And, for me at least, politics is almost religion. It’s one of the driving passions of my life to the point where I’ve turned away from career prospects because I didn’t like the politics I would have to embrace to make it in the field. Teacher? Librarian? Both would be fantastic professions for me but I can’t imaging trying to make it in either profession with a functioning brain. It would kill me. I keep being told that we need conservative teachers and I don’t disagree but it’s going to have to be someone stronger than me who does it.

    • Amen, sister. I spent too much time in the “reeducation camps” (outpatient psychiatry) even before I got out of high school to go through the required brainwashing.

      Ironically, it was all to treat a mild phobia– but led to a trip down a nightmarish rabbit hole that has permanently affected my health.
      ***
      I’m still processing the bombing. I guess she thought it was a “cry for help?” I have always thought of this as the Eloi Problem. Breaking it down makes some frightening things clear.

      First of all, there is this idea that human beings aren’t really violent by nature, only by nurture. Thus all people who actively engage in violence are a victim of their upbringing. These leftists actually define violence as “intent to harm”. Which means, yes, that words can be violent but actually detonating a bomb isn’t. By this light, understanding cause and effect is not a human characteristic.

      Unfortunately, one can reach the level of sophistication (which has the same root as sophistry for a reason) where words mean what you want them to mean. How do you even communicate with people who use language in an entirely different way?

      I think we can only hope that people get sick of the insanity and realize that there has to be a better way to think. Sooner or later the cost of delusional thinking will be too high when reality grows teeth. Then Aquinas will once again become self-evident rather than a dangerous (read: pedantic) religious lunatic.

      • First of all, there is this idea that human beings aren’t really violent by nature, only by nurture. …

        There is an aspect of the practice of if we can understand it, we can control it. If you operate from there, everything must then be assigned to what is considered controllable reasons. It is a result of a bio-chemical imbalance, so we just need to find the right medicine. It is the result of poverty which can be eliminated by eliminating greed. It is the result of bad genes, so we just need to find a way to remove those from the pool…and so on.

        Oh, and sophistry is a good word here … 😉

        • Note: I was examining the beliefs of the sometime poetess, and not my own.

          Just about all the stated beliefs of the left are basically sophistry. For what it’s worth I wasn’t trying to support her or feel sorry for her, but reveal that there is no there there, so it may be seen, and be known.

          I tried so hard to live that way, and discovered i was insane. I decided I wanted to get better, so started examining my beliefs from childhood– plus glommed onto the most functional and stable people I could find, especially those who’d been through great hardship and weren’t bleating about unfairness or victimhood.

          — I feel much better now. I’m not a perfect in my new hepness to reality, but at least I know what is possible.

          • I am sorry if I was not clear. I had not meant my comment as an objection, but rather an extension of what you had written.

            Change is not always easy. The culture shock of being sent out from a major northeastern metropolitan center to attend a Quaker boarding school in rural eastern Tennessee probably did a lot to open my eyes. It still took a while to come to terms with the fact that what I had been raised to believe was true was not necessarily so.

            • I am sorry I misread you. I realized that moments after I pushed the “publish” button. This is what happens when I post when sleep deprived.

              I had plenty of opportunities to wake up, but I had to “hit bottom” and crawl out of the pit, because I thought I would return to a life with a punitive god and vicious self-loathing if I gave up my leftie delusions. (after several key people died in my family, this sort of internal life became intolerable.) Thank God this is not so.

              • I do not presume to speak for CACS, but I will observe that if nobody posted here while sleep deprived the comments would be far far fewer.

                One reason for being a little charitable all around.

              • No problem. You are not the first, nor will you be the last to misread me. I, too, have misread and responded, even without the reason of exhaustion.

                I sympathize with your struggles with family. It is most difficult to look at people who you grew up with, people who have done much that you do respect, but who think in ways and support things which have become anathemas to you. Love and disgust towards the same person(s) are not comfortable brain partners.

                • And yet, are any of us without it?

                • Well, for some of them it was always a problem. I tended to side with my dad, who, being a pilot and trained in solid reason and Natural Law, was a reasonable man. Many of the others were not, and for this reason he was not popular.

                  But for obvious reasons I couldn’t really do this with mom, who had run of the household, and whose happiness had a direct bearing on mine. This acting in one way and believing something else weakened my resolve to the point that I fell into the soup, but in such a way that alienated me from everyone. ‘Cuz I’m cool like that. 🙂 I even could have predicted the outcome, but, alas, my reason had deteriorated, and I thought I was right.

  16. I found the poetess on Twitter, then found a comment by her husband. HIM? I’m astounded, but gratified to save a little money, as I’ll never bother with his books. I mean, I’m pretty sure that the former Trotskyite who writes for Baen (and whose books I’ve loved, with one exception) would never express that sort of sympathy.

    What was MOST amusing to me was to see a tweet from a friend of the poetess, referring to the tweeters who were revulsed by the poem as having responded “violently”. VIOLENTLY? TO DESCRIBE MERE WORDS? Orwell is rolling over in his grave!

    • Rob Crawford

      Everything done TO them — even the mildest criticism — is “violence”. That way they can claim the mantle of victim.

    • I think there was one Gaiman novel I deemed worth the time to finish. Gave up on two or three others before I realized the glowing recommendations said more about my friends than about the author.

      • I still think the Sandman comic is rad. How does learn this stuff above- perhaps I’m just terribly new to all of this stuff? Looked at the peice and went oh and was perhaps bored reading it? I mean between it and the comments, it seemed to me, don’t devalue someones humanity? Still I hope they get any and all information from such a weasel. If he is a US citizen (has that been proven yet?) the government is obligated to give him certain rights- is obligated the correct word here? What point do we end up mimicking the despots and tyrants who just jail or execute those they don’t like or don’t fit the narrative? Why or how does the left not want to say it was because they were radicalized?

        /me shackes head
        My questioning two cents

        • Yes– he became a full-citizen on (the ironic part) September 11th last year.

        • Trav– where do you slide from mockery to jailing and executing? HUH?

        • He’d be better off as an enemy combatant – he’d get life in Guantanamo. If he’s a citizen, it’s the death penalty for sure.

        • Sandman was brilliant, and I have enjoyed much of his later work (shan’t bother listing which*.) It is important to not confuse the artist with the art, although when an artist makes the art “all about me” there can be no such confusion.

          Nobody is under any duty to like an artist because they like his (her) art, nor to like the art because of a fondness for the artist. For one thing, it deprives the artist of honest, objective criticism in both their life and their art — a condition which helps explain why many artists become mediocre and depraved at the acme of their success. It is a terrible height, to be above criticism, and the rarefied air disorients all but the staunchest.

          *Because Gaiman is a great fan of James Branch Cabell, as am I (and, for that matter, as was Heinlein,) his work has a resonance with me that others may well not appreciate.

        • Googled: According to CNN the younger brother, Dzhokar, is a naturalized citizen — sworn in on September 11, 2012, according to CBS Boston. Tamerlan held a green card. According to an article in the Los Angles Times had filed for citizenship six months ago, and although he felt he had been denied, his application was still pending.

          As to devaluing life, it was the brothers who choose to do so when they dropped explosive devises in a crowd of civilians with the clear intent to harm (kill and maim) them.

          • Disagree with “It is important to not confuse the artist with the art, although when an artist makes the art “all about me” there can be no such confusion.”

            If you buy their product, you are their patron, supporting their message. Why do you allow your money, earned by the sweat of your brow, go to support the message of a lunatic? Might as well send it the the communist party, USA. Enough with these people!

            Buy products from those who love America and freedom, not those who seek to poison it. Heard of a lady named “Hoyt?” Pretty good author. That Celia Hayes ain’t so bad, either. Consider becoming their patron! Wouldn’t you rather put one dollar more in their pocket than, Say Stephen King (a gun grabber) or George R. R. Martin (says the Tea Party is a bunch of Racist “Teabaggers”). I don’t care how much I liked what they wrote before, like with Hanoi Jane Fonda–NOT ONE MORE DIME! This Gaiman idiot just joined that select club,

            • I take that position because, in part, if I refuse to distinguish the “art from the artist” I am agreeing in principle with those arguing for boycotting Sarah Hoyt and Baen books, merely disagreeing about who ought be boycotted.

              If an artist crafts true art, then their work reflects reality, not their politics. I don’t give a dang what Dante’s, da Vinci’s, Shakespeare’s, Dumas, Wells’, Heinlein’s, Asimov’s politics were. If you are going to eschew artists for their politics you aren’t going to watch much TV, not Star Trek nor Firefly nor go to many movies.

              I am not willing to withdraw into an artistic ghetto, I prefer to challenge artists to capture the world in their art, and challenge their perception of the world when I disagree. I don’t like polemics even when I share the author’s politics.

              • I kind of take a middle ground on this, most artists I pretty much ignore their beliefs, although leftists tend to let their fantastical beliefs bleed into what they write so much that most of it I can’t stand to read. If they are strong vocal and monetary supporters of something I am strongly against, however, I will avoid buying their books new. Like Tara Harper I absolutely refuse to ever give that woman a dime, knowing where some of that money goes to, but I like what books of hers I have read, so I’ll still pick them up used if I see them. I can still admire the art while refusing to support the artist.

                • If they are strong vocal and monetary supporters of something I am strongly against, however, I will avoid buying their books new.

                  What a wonderful solution to a vexing problem.

                • I’ve noticed that hearing a writer’s views often makes them more explicit in the work — sometimes enough that it’s no longer palatable.

                  • I have been working my way through Terry Pratchett’s Disc World novels in order of publication. When I have needed a pick-me-up, I would pick the next one up. Unfortunately, I came to Men at Arms at altogether the wrong time — just as the most recent gun debate exploded. 😦

              • I only stop reading authors for their politics when my attachment to them was very mild or non-existent.

      • Only one of his books that I liked– 1. The book he wrote with Terry Pratchett (Good Omens).

        • Rob Crawford

          I’ve liked most of what I’ve read of his, but I think he’s going to end up on the list with S***zi.

      • Yeah, I found Stardust, Neverwhere, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book good, but American Gods was nasty, and as for Anasi Boys.

        though “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire” is good. It’s about writing.

  17. I did not see the poem and I’m glad it didn’t. I cannot believe that anyone would think of him (the living) and his brother as victims. What about the three killed and the over 100 maimed and wounded? I didn’t want to believe that the brothers were radicalized here, but the poison is among us, probably at the university. Disgusting.

  18. Billy Oblivion

    Is the young man – only a year older than my younger son, heaven help us – a victim? Undoubtedly. But not our victim.

    No, he’s not a victim. Not at all.

    He–both of them–had free will. They made choices.

    Their extended clan back in Shitholeistan? Those folks are victims. These boys? “We” took them in. “We” gave them access and opportunity that most of us never had.

    They made choices. They chose to cling to their disgusting ideology.

    They chose to plant those bombs, to rend flesh and families, to kill and maim.

    They aren’t victims. Not at all.

  19. “The end result is that “the right” in the field (in almost any entertainment field) and by “right” here I mean even squishy libertarians like myself, moderates itself. I can’t picture in any way shape or form anyone writing a poem glorifying someone who took a gun to IRS agents, say. I certainly can’t imagining them thinking it would further their career, or make them “hip.””

    This is actually a poor example, because Steve Earl is actually leftist, but most of the fans of Copperhead Road are rightwing/libertarian.

  20. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I think it is more correct to say that cultures that lionize murderers have issues about lasting.

    There is something to be said about lionizing soldiers and warriors. A society that does not produce enough people who will fight and die for it cannot last. However, if the fight is everyone’s all consuming passion there are more than a few issues.

    That said, trying to discuss the distinctions between murderers, killers, soldiers, and warriors is probably asking for pointless bickering if one expects the audience to include leftists keyed up for disagreement.

    • You just reminded me of a scene from Curse of Chalion by Lois Bujold, where the protagonist, Cazaril, tries to talk some common sense into a fourteen-year-old prince. They’re discussing a man who had a reputation for fighting (and winning) duels with his fellow soldiers, and was kicked out of the army for it:

      Prince: “But surely a skilled duelist must be a skilled swordsman. Just the kind of man you’d want in your army.”
      Cazaril: “But, your highness, a skilled swordsman kills your enemies. A skilled duelist kills your allies. Which one would a wise commander want among his troops?”
      Prince: “Oh. I’d never thought about it that way before.”

      If you’re talking to someone who’s merely naïve, as opposed to fully committed to the leftist narrative, you might be able to get through by emphasizing the difference between soldiers and murderers. Soldiers kill their society’s enemies, and stop killing when ordered. Murderers kill their own enemies, which are probably within their own society, and don’t follow anyone’s orders. Which one is safer to be around?

  21. Right now screaming might not work anyway. The screaming should have been done a long time ago. But the way they got in the ascendant was by starting with a slow creep, so I’m hoping it can work the other way too now that indie makes it possible for us to get our stories out there. Enjoyable stories, with characters anybody would want to root for should be the first priority, then having the world view show in different degrees in different stories and by different authors, including ones where it’s not at all obvious in order to get even some of those to whom politics is a religion to read them.

    As you have said, what the establishment is publishing now is mostly grey goo, not fun. If we managed to get to a point where most of the stories people actually read and talk about, and especially most of the new bestsellers, are our stories, hopefully in time in most of the other branches of entertainment too, just beginning with the written stories – money speaks a language even the most ardent leftists believers are usually more than willing to listen to.

    But that will take time. So I guess the big question is whether there is enough time left?

    I do feel sorry for those bombers, somewhat, because I think they were one kind of stupid (like a couple of nasty immature brats who will start the house on fire just because they know it’s something they shouldn’t do and they think it would be cool to have the attention that will get them, not truly realizing all the possible consequences of that to their own lives, including ones like possibly burning to death themselves, they might talk about those but inside they think they are too cool for that kind of fate so they don’t really believe it could happen to them, or if it did it would some sort of fantasy version where it makes them look very good and does not hurt, not like it’s in real life which is very painful and not at all good looking way to go) more than actually evil (evil would rather be found in anyone who encouraged them to go down that path), but I have no wish to start writing poems about them. Least of all sympathetic poems. At most maybe some equivalent, in words, of a four by four smacked with full strength on the top of their heads, if I was that good with words which I am not.

    • I do feel sorry for those bombers, somewhat, because I think they were one kind of stupid …

      An article in London’s Telegraph exposes what I think may be a large part of their motivation: Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the Boston bomb suspect, told a friend that “tragedies can happen anywhere in the world,” just a day after the attack which claimed three lives and injured more than 170.

      Translated, it comes out as “How can you be so happy when there is so much misery in this world; I’ll show you how the rest of the world feels.”

      It is a social equivalent of cutting, of self-mutilation, and likely derives from the same psychological source.

  22. I’m beginning to come to the realization that we’re living in two different nations — the “red” nation based on the US Constitution, and the “blue” nation based on “feelings”. It may be time to separate once more, on a county-by-county basis. Give people 90 days to choose their allegiance, and then close the border between us. Let them live with their idiocy, and suffer the decline and destruction that comes with that ideological idiocy. In the meantime, we can grow and prosper, and be ready to absorb the “blue” areas as they collapse.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Not going to .happen. The “Liberal Religion” is a “universal” faith. IE everybody that believes in it, think that everybody should “live under” it. No way could they accept us “withdrawing” from the “blue areas”.

      • Birthday girl

        Convert or Die.

        • It is an evangelical faith that brooks no dissent and no apostasy. That is part of why they can sympathize so readily with Islamists and why they hate conservatives — especially apostates like Reagan — so fiercely.

  23. I tweeted an “understanding” poem of my own to her:

    Poor Richard Speck
    Why’d he kill all 8?
    We must respond to him
    With care, not hate.
    Burma Shave

    So far I haven’t been lionized as a morally superior “caring” person, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

  24. Rob Crawford

    Contrast this “poem” to NPR’s assertion that “the right” concerns itself with Hitler’s birthday.

    They accuse us of lionizing murderers. While they do it.

  25. Someone responded to her “poetry”:

    This isn’t a poem for Dzjokhar, it’s a poem for yourself because you imagine you know how he feels. This just makes you the CNN of poets, though – you didn’t know this boy, but you’re putting words and feelings into his mouth when he can’t anymore. Sometimes a huge crowd and the lack of a time delay turns an act of creative response to tragedy into something hurtful and presumptuous, and this feels like one of those times to me. You are trying to be empathetic but you are papering over his real personality with one you’ve constructed for the purpose of empathy. Please don’t make this about you, and don’t make your own feelings into his feelings using the megaphone you wield. Be better than CNN.

    I think the person that wrote this was trying to be kind. It’s still a b***hslap.

    • Sweeeeet. Exposing her racism in denying Dzjokhar’s identity in favor of the identity she’s created for and imposed upon him. All without leaving her anything to complain about. A nice example of Christian correction that many a Christian could emulate.

  26. Did quick Google for the author’s name. Salon’s tag on their article has called the poem trollish, and Gawker’s tag says it is the worst poem of all time. Rolling Stone has the following, which, if true, still does not render the piece itself a decent poem in my opinion:

    … attempts to enter Tsarnaev’s mental space and directly addresses him with a series of one sentence statements of things she imagines he didn’t know. “You don’t know how to make sense of this massive parade,” she wrote. “You don’t know how to believe anyone anymore.”

    • Worse than Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings? That’s harsh!

    • So, is it the Accidental Racist of poetry?

      Maybe the lady just made a mistake and missed that April Fools’ Day is only on the First.

    • Rob Crawford

      Calling it “trollish” and “worst poem ever” is distancing, and avoiding the point.

      • Excuse me, but according to the Rolling Stone it was a condemnation of the understanding and actions that Tsarneaev took. That being the case, perhaps the problem is that the poem is ambiguous as to its meaning, and thereby it does not serve its purpose.

        • Rob Crawford

          Rolling Stone is blowing smoke.

          • Rolling Stone usually does…

            • UM — literally.

              I recall Robert Downey, Jr.’s reply to a RS reporter who was interviewing him before the release of the first Iron Man movie and had asked him which co-star he most wished to smoke pot with — Downey, was not amused and replied to the point: you mean which co-star with whom I would most wish to share a jail cell?

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Considering how his drug problems almost killed his acting career, I definitely don’t blame him for his response. For that matter, I’m not sure that I’d blame him if he had slugged the reporter.

                • Robert Downey, Jr. came close to it when Ricky Gervais made a snarky joke about him at the 2011 Golden Globes, but decided to handle it with class, thus one-uping Gervais:

        • I thought it a “justification and excusing.” Sorry, but what kind of boy, here for years doesn’t “understand a parade”?

          • Ordinarily I would encourage people reading and reaching their own conclusions, but … as almost no one disputes that it is bad poetry, what difference does it make whether the author was reaching for “condemnation while understanding” or “justification and excusing” — either way, she failed resoundingly.

            As for your question:
            a) a very stupid boy
            b) a very badly educated boy
            c) a very wicked boy
            d) all of the above
            e) none of the above

          • The kind who, who unlike you, did not know why he came here. He probably never was exposed to the good influences, such as RAH, either.

            Once he was here, he was sent to the best of schools, where he was taught all sorts of reasons to hate this country. There are plenty of our home grown children who don’t understand a parade. Then his parents, claiming they were nostalgic for the old country, left him behind when they returned to Chechnya. Nostalgic for Chechnya? What does that say about their probable influence upon him?

            NONE of this in anyway absolves the guilt of the two young men who choose of their own free will to manufacture and place explosive devices with the intent to create mayhem, to harm and to kill.

          • Rob Crawford

            He was just an excitable boy.

            (I hope a Zevon reference isn’t lost in this crowd.)

  27. The poem is a new media deja-vu experience. There’s a moment like this in every national conversation. (Last time it was was “I am Adam Lanza’s mother.”)

  28. Here’s a suggested title for the poetess: “Ode to a Small Chunk of Shrapnel I Found In My Leg One MidApril Morning”.

  29. I’ve made other comments above on the bombing, but in response to your other points –

    On THEM in publishing – I read a book last year, a big literary fantasy award winner, so I was expecting something very well written (I was looking for very good writing at the time). Instead I got a cheesy fantasy romance, not even intelligent or well written – not a terrible book (there’s a place for cheesy fantasy romances), but certainly not award quality (one Amazon review I likened it to fanfic, and while I have nothing against fanfic (I’ve written my share), it’s not something that should be getting literary awards). I did finish it – I kept thinking it must get better, after all, it won this big award – but it didn’t. I couldn’t think how this happened – until I saw the author photo and bio, and yeah, this was a political correctness award. (The sad thing is, I think this is hurting her sales, because I have friends who’d love a cheesy fantasy romance, and they’ll never pick up the book because it’s being marketed as literary, which it ain’t.)

    As for what to do about the PC crowd – as you say, they’re not evil people, they’re just ignorant and irrational (we need to bring back the original Liberal Arts degree, which required math and science and such – these people wouldn’t make it through college). The trick is to educate, in a way that will work. Laughter is always good, too. But I’ve become so angry, I’m liable to make people defensive and that just makes things worse.

    • As for what to do about the PC crowd – as you say, they’re not evil people, they’re just ignorant and irrational (we need to bring back the original Liberal Arts degree, which required math and science and such – these people wouldn’t make it through college).

      I disagree — some of them are evil people, in that they demand their ideas be accepted without debate and without limit. That is tyranny, no matter how you slice it. The very IDEA of “politically correct” is tyrannical, and needs to be hounded from society, along with those that practice it. It’s “their way or the highway”. It’s time the sane members of our society gave the heave-ho to “political correctness”.

      As for changing the requirements back to the original requirements for a Liberal Arts degree, universities will do it when the funding for the current crop of idiocy is cut off, either by bankrupt state legislatures or the end of student loans, and not before. There’s too much money to be made. Besides, the “progressives” have so destroyed secondary education that no one would qualify for college at all if the rules were made more stringent.

      The trick is to educate, in a way that will work. Laughter is always good, too. But I’ve become so angry, I’m liable to make people defensive and that just makes things worse.

      I’m not so sure. I think it’s time those of us that still believe in personal responsibility, individual liberty, human decency, and the Constitution of the United States let the rest know we’re tired of their stupidity, and we won’t tolerate it any more. That may very well require applying the “Board of Education” to the “Seat of Understanding”.

      • I disagree — some of them are evil people
        Yes. But those, we don’t have a chance of changing them – those are the ones who want power. They spout ideology but that’s not really what’s going on.

        It’s the useful idiots there’s a chance of reaching – the ones who think the way they do because they’ve spent their lives in an echo chamber. But it has to be handled carefully (I find starting out by showing what a disaster FDR’s reign was is a good place to start).

        • I have no interest in changing them, merely in destroying their ability to persuade others, their charisma. As happened to Sauron in the Silmarillion.

          To do that the useful idiots must have their eyes opened.

      • For some reason, when the subject of political correctness comes up, I hear, from 1776, Scene 3:

        HOPKINS: So it’s up to me, is it? Well, I’ll tell y’ — in all my years I never heard, seen, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous that it couldn’t be talked about. Hell yes, I’m for debatin’ anything — Rhode Island says Yea!

        Of course, I then recall learning that, as Rhode Island was against changing the Articles of Confederation, they dealt with it by failing to turn up at the Constitutional Convention.

        And, YES! something needs to be done about what is and is not being taught in the schools and universities.

        • Dang Dang Double Dang Dang. I typed a double K in the close blockquote. Hopkins speech ended with: Rhode Island say Yea!

          The observation on the state of Rhode Island, the Constitutional Convention and hearty agreement on addressing education are my own comments and are not attributable to Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards marvelous musical.

        • I just have to say, apropos of nothing, that it warms the cockles of my heart to see so many people quoting 1776 around here. That is my absolute favorite Broadway show.

  30. scott2harrison

    A rabid dog is not evil. It may be beautiful. It may be a much loved pet. It may be talented. It may in fact be a champion with multiple ribbons.

    It is still rabid.

    • A rabid dog didn’t have a choice on whether it contracted the disease or not. Evil is about choice.

      • This.

        Exactly. The two young men made a deliberate choice. Others in similar position did not. They did not have to do what they did.

  31. Because we also need to give praise for proper action, this baseball story:

    Jonny Gomes’s bat features tribute to Boston Marathon bombing victims
    By Julian Benbow, Globe staff

    Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes paid tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack by taking a specially engraved bat with him to the plate in the first game of the Red Sox’ doubleheader with the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

    The mantra “Boston Strong” was imprinted on the barrel of the bat along with the names Martin Richard, Lu Lingzi, Krystle Campbell, and Sean Collier, who all lost their lives in the past week as a result of the bombings at the finish line of the marathon and the manhunt that ensued in the following days.

    His agent suggested the idea and they had four bats made. Gomes used them in his first two at-bats Sunday. He intends to have the other two signed by the team and auctioned off to raise money.

    “Such a unique situation like that and how it touched all our hearts,” Gomes said. “From just being scared and locked down to some people losing their lives, so I think everyone is up to something individually or as a team to help the community out. It’s definitely not about me by any means, it’s about who’s on the bat and the cause that it’s going to help out.”
    http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/2013/04/jonny_gomes_bat.html

  32. Not my usual style, and really more of a rough draft, but:

    Running, run, run
    Running through the morning,
    Running all day.
    Heart rushing
    Lungs burning
    Legs feeling like fire.

    Almost finished. Almost at the end.

    When suddenly

    A giant fireball of hate,
    Burning hellfire,
    Sharp as nails,
    Blinding in the sunlight.

    Then silence.

    Blood like red paint
    Scattered over the roadway.

    No more running.
    Breath is stilled.
    No more heartbeat.

    Weep, O Nation.
    Weep for the fallen.
    Weep for the innocent ones.
    Weep and mourn.
    Then stand.
    For the time has come
    To face the Evil One.
    Face him where he stands.
    Drive him from your midst.
    Let his name be forgotten forever.

    (And in case WP made a real mess of my formatting: Link:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1o9SRALxFAH4TuefGqkUhNhp-KoEEdtNC87UpSnBfwoU/edit?usp=sharing
    )

    • Okay, doing you the credit of honest criticism.

      Generally, I like. Strong imagery, good beginning, although “running all day” is perhaps overstating it; my understanding is that the average qualified runner completes the marathon in 3 – 4 hours, so not “all day” (OTOH, I ran the two-mile in HS and can attest it feels like all day.)

      Some other minor quibbles, probably because I am now looking too hard at it and like a soap bubble such things evanesce if clutched too tightly.

      Consider using only “suddenly” instead of “when suddenly” and “silence” in lieu of “then silence” — although the phrases you’ve used may better suit the rhythm you seek.

      I think the last stanza may be too strong, a clash of declarative cymbals when a mournful flute might better suit.

      As said elsewhere, I am no poet and your work may amply express your intent. If you feel inclined to work it further you could add some consideration that nobody just ups and runs a marathon (well, not since Pheidippides) you could evoke the preparation, the training, the discipline, the competing in a qualifying event, the culmination of effort this race represents. You might also consider adding more about the anticipation of being celebrated by friends and family upon completion, bringing up more strongly the emotional disruption at the end.

      Consider as well whether putting this in the perspective of one of the injured instead of the dead might make your point more strongly. For a runner, having just completed such a feat of endurance as the marathon to suddenly have to begin the long arduous recovery and rehabilitation process entailed might a) serve to echo the trial of character that is the race and b) represent the resilience our nation is called to pursue in the wake of this tragedy. Death is the end of everyone; struggling on in the wake of terrible loss is Human Wave.

      Again, good effort, nice poem. It is entirely possible none of my suggestions would improve it.

      • Thanks, RES. I appreciate it.

        I’ll consider your comments if/when I get around to revising it.

        • If you decide to expand it (not that any such is necessary) I suggest a little research into what the runner’s body goes through during a marathon, and why Heartbreak Hill has that name. Finishing such a race is a true feat of human will and determination and using the structure of the race as the structure for the poem might work effectively — if, of course, you feel it worth while to extend your poem.

          The poem which triggered this all, of course, lacks any such formal structure and doesn’t even reach the level of doggerel. It squeals of “inspiration” and “talent” in lieu of thoughtfulness, craftsmanship and skill. Gaiman could only have endorsed this as a parent puts a child’s “painting” on the refrigerator. Too bad this particular refrigerator is on view to the world.

          • masgramondou

            If you decide to expand it (not that any such is necessary) I suggest a little research into what the runner’s body goes through during a marathon, and why Heartbreak Hill has that name. Finishing such a race is a true feat of human will and determination and using the structure of the race as the structure for the poem might work effectively — if, of course, you feel it worth while to extend your poem.

            Feel free to ask me if you want – seeing as I ran that race and finished it a couple of hours before.

            • And thereby almost gave me a heart attack… And Dave Freer too, I think.

              • Yes– my husband called me and said look at the news and then he said that our friend (won’t name here) and her family were fine. She was also running the Boston Marathon and had crossed the line a few hours before the bombing.

                • My uncle didn’t run it, but lives in Boston and usually goes down to watch the finish and have a couple beers with friends (while waiting for friends to finish). Luckily this year his car didn’t pass emissions, so he was at home working on it instead of at the finish when the bombs went off. The last I talked to him he still hadn’t gotten a hold of a couple of his friends, due to the cell towers all being shut down.

                • An old friend’s son failed to qualify for it, fortunately.

      • RES,
        I second all of your comments expect for “running all day.”

        Janisi,
        Great poem.

      • Actually I know a couple who did just ‘up and decide’ to run a marathon while on vacation a couple of years ago, and I myself decided I would last summer, except that the one where I was at when I decided it was not open to that day registration, registration closed the day before the marathon. While training is important for those with sedentary lifestyles, or if a fast time is desired, anyone in reasonably good shape should be able to finish one, considering that most open or qualifier marathons have a 6-8 hour window for finishing.

    • Beautiful Betsy, thank you.

  33. It’s like folks’ brains just don’t work– I had someone seriously insist, today, that Batman is the same as Rorschach, except with a bigger bank account. This, shortly after someone made a call for “psychopaths” because we need warriors. This, among folks on the right who think, most of the time.

    It’s possible that he’s never seen anything but the Grimdark Batman, but… wow.

    Mom says that the way you play is the way you live; you’ve mentioned that stories form how one sees the world (in different words, I think). It’s like we’re being poisoned by “good enough” stories full of sweet corruption, unable to recognize the stuff and take antidote.

    • Psychopaths do NOT make good warriors. SOME sociopaths do, but there is a big difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. Really an argument can be made that a sociopath is just an overly rational person, who isn’t hindered by emotions. While a psychopath is an overly emotional person.

      • “Out of control” + “heavily armed” = BAD.

        Several other folks have tried to explain this. It’s not getting across. They just don’t recognize that one can do violence and NOT be out of control.

      • Borderline anti-social disorder is what you really should look for. Repeat: borderline.

        The Armed Forces’ rigid discipline springs from the way it’s necessary to channel these cases the way you want them to go.

  34. I came across the poem earlier today on Ace of Spades. I thought you might like his comment: We’re now in the Conspicuous Compassion Floor Exercise of the Moral Peacocking Olympics.

  35. I’m glad I’m too brain dead to go look at this piece of . . . eh, I’m too tired to come up with invectives. Eight hours of microfilm, no cerebral cell left functional. See y’all in the AM.

  36. Legal Insurrection has a fun time with Palmer.

    The winner in the competing poems according to Jacobsen?

    Jim Treacher: “You tried your best, Jahar, but here’s why you lose / You’re now in a hospital run by the Jews “

  37. Rick Boatright

    if you husband writesa poem aboutthe the Kochbrothers, I promisetotalk to yo at cons.

    • I’d be more likely to write it than my husband. I have a friend who worked for them, says they’re lovely men. Actually if I wrote any poetry you’d have reason to stop talking to me forever 😉

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Pft. Are we going to have to have a Vogon poetry contest? I’ve tried to write poetry before. Without even reading it out loud, I could hear heads popping.

  38. Kitteh-Dragon

    For those who may not be aware of exactly how bad it is, here’s what they’ve done to a multiple-Tony Award winning playwright who saw the light. They’re out to destroy him, utterly.

    http://frontpagemag.com/2013/andrew-klavan/the-new-york-times-vs-david-mamet/#.UXVZBrP4ecs.facebook

  39. Contrast John M. Ford’s poem “110 Stories.” (http://nielsenhayden.com/110.html)

    It’s also about a horrific current event, but it focuses on the victims and heroes and how we all reacted, not the killers.

  40. “‘Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’ is Chechen for ‘Bill Ayers’.”

    — shamelessly stolen

  41. OT, do you choose the passwords for subscribers?

    • Er… there’s only one password. You guys are on a trust system, though every password is a family password.

      • You mean you actually trust us? I’m not sure whether I should feel honored, or should send you in to have your head examined 😉

        • Both?

          On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 7:35 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

          > ** > bearcat commented: “You mean you actually trust us? I’m not sure > whether I should feel honored, or should send you in to have your head > examined ;)” >

        • Examined– now looking for a head doctor in your area.

          • Much though I care about Sarah’s welfare, I think that a chief assistant doctor would probably suffice, and might possibly be the better choice.

  42. Dorothy Grant

    Congratulations, Sarah. You have passed the threshold, and are now well on your way to becoming that most terrifying of American stereotypes: the little old lady, with her good manners, graces, etiquette, and pearl-handled revolver kept in her purse, while the shotgun she has deadly accuracy with after decades of duck hunting is either in the truck, or easily reachable further back in the house.

    You are the reason young louts straighten up in a hurry and start reflexively saying ma’am, leaving young rebels without a clue looking and feeling as useless and foolish as a discarded nursery toy on a courthouse bench. Tolerating neither bad manners nor fools, you wreck the illusions of those who want to be “cool like the in crowd” as unsparingly and uncaringly as a passing hurricane demolishes badly-built subdivisions.

    When you no longer give a damn what people think, and can no longer be brought to heel by shaming, and worse yet, carry the conviction of not only being correct, but knowing that your correctness is the secret fear in the hearts of those who cry against you… then, you have become dangerous indeed. I salute you, ma’am.

  43. If mocking them works… we’ve been joking for *days* on a blog I read that when this kid gets out of prison he can get a job teaching at Columbia.

  44. So which one of your books was the one you wrote because you were furious? You may have mentioned it before, but I can’t remember offhand.

  45. “Our colleagues are not dogs. But like dogs, they try to fit in the pack. And in many ways we’ve been treating them as the stupid dog owner above treated his puppy. “They’re just—“ this or that. “It’s best to ignore their fits.””

    Dead-on. However:

    “Which means the group, as a whole is running around making a mess out of the culture. Are vague threats to take up arms the right response? Shouldn’t we try a rolled up newspaper first?”

    Some of us have been trying to warn them for years, if not decades; the problem is, our efforts have been undercut by the “polite” wing.

    The time has come to pick a tactic, and run with it: Either cut away from them altogether (in essence, create a fandom “in parallel” with mainstream LitFendom, to which they are conspicuously Not Invited); or destroy them outright.

    You see: The reason Lincoln was elected was that the Democrats could not pick a single candidate to march behind — so they put up three of them (Douglas; Breckinridge; Bell), which naturally split the vote three (unequal) ways, and allowed Lincoln to walk to the White House. Remember how that ended up?

    http://www.elyrics.net/read/q/queen-lyrics/one-vision-lyrics.html

    • I vote for a separate fandom because I have not had good results with integration. 😉

    • Since I’m the resident curmudgeon, I vote we don’t use either the shotgun or the newspaper, but the foot. Properly applied to the necessary portion of the anatomy, it both gets their attention and gives them a reason to fear us. Continuing to be kicked there can do wonders for engaging brain cells, which will undoubtedly bring them around to being conservative, since no one with more than two functioning brain cells could continue to be part of the PC, liberal “elite”. So, therefore, I urge you to go forth and…

  46. I’ve worried at commenting on this a while, because I don’t want to write an essay, and because of the usual twitter caveats – things can get so oversimplified that even a wordsmith of Neil’s caliber can manage to misstate himself.

    That said, a reply to a twitter poster mocking and castigating his wife’s poem (though I never saw them post anything that could be construed as urging Neil to take action and tell his wife what to do or say, or addressing Neil at all…) read: “Anyone who thinks I should tell @amandapalmer what to write or think or sing or say is probably best off not reading my books.”

    Where to start?

    0) Having had, over the years, friends who were devotees of Gaiman, the fluffy -bunny-hugger wiccans, etc., and feelings-first types, I sortof get what he was trying to say.

    1) Not sure why he directed THAT answer in that direction – insofar as I know that poster never called for him to “say something” to her, or addressed Neil, or even commented on him.

    2) If he was going to defend his wife,something like “be respectful” would be appropriate. Or “it’s not your place to tell me what to discuss with my wife, and how”. I also agree that as her husband, if he does feel the poem was “beyond the pale” – he should say so privately.

    3) Whether or not he considers her poem “beyond the pale”, I’m utterly shocked that rather than expecting civil argument or addressing other people’s rudeness, he is de facto stating that there are no mutual obligations or scopes of authority where he may have a right to tell her to knock it off or to judge her behavior as unbecoming. Apparently not even when it reflects badly upon or is hurting him.

    That’s a very one-sided relationship, one where one person has the power to do as they please without consequence and the other person not only gets to live or deal with the resulting messes, but is powerless to speak up or stand up for themselves.

    4) A litmus test. seriously? I should not read your books unless I agree that I should not ever hold my wife, as an adult human being, accountable for her behavior or what I consider acceptable? I’m sure he’d agree that she has the right to say what behavior of his she finds acceptable if she felt it was hurtful to him or others.

    Actually, despite his wifes poem, etc., it wasn’t until I came across that litmus test that I decided, even with the books I’d enjoyed in the past, I had a lot of other books to read first.

    • I don’t want to get into the weeds on this, but I think Gaiman’s position defensible on several counts, and think you may have misinterpreted his view. To pick just a few f’rinstances:

      2 & 3) I am not sure whether Gaiman is defending “his wife” so much as he is defending artistic freedom — including the freedom to say stupid and regrettable things. In that context his tweet is recognition of her artistic autonomy.

      4) It follows, therefore, that he is not establishing a litmus test but suggesting that those who would demand some people tell others what to think are probably going to find his books not to their liking and should save their time and money for other entertainments.

      I suggest this as merely one interpretation of his intention with that tweet. Given time and appropriate lubricant I could doubtless come up with others. I think it a very dangerous thing to hold artists accountable for their spouse’ opinions, especially as it would mean I must reject Dashiell Hammett because of how repellent I find Lillian Hellman (for whom I am inclined to share Mary McCarthy’s summation: “every word she says is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the'”). A basic meme of literature is that no person controls the will of the human heart, so how should I demand that of authors?

      • Yes. My problem was not with the young (she is) “lady’s” post so much as with it and its reception in my field — compared to what the opposite outburst would do to her spouse’s career. And I’m not saying boycotting is good on either side, just that we perhaps hadn’t told the left to “hey, knock it off” or “you’re goofy” to the point they lost all sense of proportion.

        That said the original interpretation of Gaiman’s tweet is exactly how a lot of my male friends handle their wives. And I’ve told Dan if he ever treats me that way I’m leaving. These men seem to think they’re being “enlightened” but in fact it assumes that women are irrational and incapable of self control and the only thing a man can do is endure her irrationality.

        • Hey, why are you staring at me?

        • FWIW – as I said, I used to be in those crowds despite my libertarian leanings and that was exactly what a lot of them would have meant. “I wouldn’t dare try to place acceptable boundaries. That might impede her growth/finding herself” Hell, even outside of those crowds – “If momma aint happy, nobody’s happy” excuses a lot of tolerance for bad and immature behavior.

          For various reasons I won’t go into, perhaps even a bit of overcorrection, but I’m a bit oversensitive to that attitude these days.

          • We could rack up another kilo-comment post if we open that can of worms. Beloved Spouse is an adult and can defend any comments without my help, and I would not diminish the B.S. by thinking my support is in order. NOR would I want the Beloved Spouse to be held accountable for some of the things I put up when commenting while cranky.

            There is a balance between being supportive of a person’s right to be stupid and defending their stupidity that every couple (married or not) must reach.

            Part of the problem here is that Gaiman is so much a presence in the field that, sorta like Nero Wolfe in a canoe, when he wriggles his butt people go overboard.

            I admit to lacking perspective, but are there any other SF/F writers with Gaiman’s stature in the mundane world? Rowling, not so much now, she’s left the ghetto. George Martin? or is he only a short-term phenomenon, destined to sink below the horizon when GoT is over? Mostly SF/F seems to have big fish but is in reality a very small pond — perhaps the best thing we can do for the field is expand the pond (producing stuff people actually are happy to read) rather than cannibalize the other minnows.

            Heck, how many authors of ANY sort have as much cultural influence as one cleavagey actress? [Insert snarky Kardashian joke of your choice.]

        • I fully expect The Spouse to be honest with me. I also expect that what might be painful will be addressed in private.

          I know no one who would respond well to a loud declaration, rising above the noise of the crowd, of, ‘Oy, twit! What a load of ill-timed rubbish. How can you be such an insensitive git?’ (Even, and possibly especially, if it is true.)

          • Well, my dad does that type of thing. I have on several occasions pointed out to both parents — in private — that it is not appropriate. As in shouting across a party “She’s telling it all wrong.”

      • Note — I’m not saying that this is the right interpretation, merely that it “could” be based on what I see in our circle of acquaintance.

        • I have no idea what the “right” interpretation ought be, either — which is why I incline toward charitable interpretation — of Gaiman’s tweet. It is entirely reasonable to accept a person’s right to say stupid things without defending the stupid things said, and many a spouse has to tread a fine line between supporting the spouse and supporting what the spouse has said. (In that line, I find especially deplorable the MSM trick of trying to compromise the wives of Republican candidates over the issue of abortion, trying to elicit a personal statement which could be used to proclaim: George Bush [either one] has a position so extreme even his wife doesn’t agree!” Are only Democrat politicians granted the privilege of representing their party’s view — and not their own — on such issues as the right of women to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace?)

          The retweeting by sycophants and favor-curriers are a different matter, as is the fact that the industry bias is what it is.

      • Points taken, RES. .. .and one of the reasons I put in the caveat about twitter-brevity and oversimplifying.

        Also, nothing that has gone on here will prevent me from watching Stardust again, or finishing plowing back through American Gods, or (eventually) seeing Coraline. It’s just that I have so many books to read from Tom, Sarah, Larry, Orson, Brandon (the next Soullight archives isn’t until november dangit), the next “James S. A. Corey”, Neal Stephenson, Stasheff (to catch up on), ad infinitum that the priority is no longer quite what it was.

        And actually – despite my dislike of the way in which it was phrased and some of what that may (twitter caveats) imply, I believe his stepping in to say that no, he’s not going to pile on his wife, is good. It’s part of what you sign up for (that mutual obligations thing).

  47. The poetess put a blog post up today about the poem and its reaction. A few interesting thots, but mostly I noticed that she doesn’t use capital letters there, either.

  48. You know, I have thought about this, read the ‘poem’ and conclude my initial reaction was wrong. Given my vast esteem for the kind of depraved Muslim loser who chose to target which he had to know would kill, maim and disfigure small children, let alone anyone else, and the little I seen of the quality of her work – she’s got Vogons licked with one hand behind her back, and I have to wonder if she came from Redditch and did not in fact perish with the destruction of Earth – she was the right talent to ‘praise-sing’ Djerkha. Perhaps an appropriate punishment for both would be to have her recite it to him until his own large intestine leaps up his throat and strangles his brain. Maybe we could get the ‘likes’ and cite on their own pages to join them.

  49. “It was pity that stayed his hand. ‘It’s a pity I’ve run out of bullets,’ he thought.”
    (Bored of the Rings)

    Just happened to come into my mind as a suitable comment. . . .

  50. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    I have a huge issue with the entire Boston thing. It’s simple.

    The accused bomber has not yet been convicted.

    I’ll agree that it looks like he and his brother are probably responsible. But I’d really like to see proof, in a court of law. I’m picky that way. It’s just too easy for the government to declare someone “evil” and nail them to the wall. We saw that during the G20 when Byron Sonne was held in jail for eighteen months, and the case against him ended up being dismissed for lack of evidence.

    Byron lost his house, his marriage, his business…

    But we are safer, right?

    Wayne

    • If the news is correct, the surviving brother has already confessed and is, to some extent, cooperating with the investigation. Yes, the matter should and will go through the court system. Whatever happens, the bombing was act of evil. That does not change.

      • Yep and yep and for the love of BOB they have pictures of the fight with the police and of these lovelies setting off bombs. No, we don’t have the full story (do we ever?) but we do know who’s done what to whom.

        • Unlike that poor schlemiel Elvis impersonator, arrested so that they could get the ricin mailings out of the news. Nor that dumbschmuck “film” producer who thought that in America you could make a film treating “Mo” the way Hollywood routinely mocks “J” — especially as one was the Creator Incarnate and the other a mere prophet.

      • Sounds like it. And if the news is correct, the boys were on welfare– so in a round-a-bout way, we were the money suppliers. Ugh.

      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

        And then of course Clark over at Popehat posts an excellent answer as to why Government can’t be trusted. People are just doing their jobs.

        And that’s scary.

        Wayne

    • The suspect has admitted guilt, so that argument is moot. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/04/25/tamerlan-tsarnaev-vowed-to-die-for-islam-judge-prematurely-stopped-brother/

      I do understand what you are saying, and from what little research on Byron Sonne I did (I hadn’t heard of him until you mentioned him, although I do recall a suspect being arrested at G20, he must have been bigger news in Canada) he is a good example. A raving idiot undoubtedly, but still not a terrorist. But those idiots complaining about it being unfair that he was refused entry to the US at the border, after being released, need a healthy administration of a cluestick. No one has the ‘right’ to enter the US, just as no one has the right to enter my home.
      All that being said, most of us complaining either dislike the leniency of the legal system, or distrust it. Whether he had admitted guilt for the bombings or not, nobody is argueing he is guilty of having a running gun battle with police, where one policeman is dead (unsure of which terrorist actually pulled the trigger on the gun that killed him). Look at Nadal Hasan, no arguments that he is guilty, and only a few liberals (unfortunately those in charge) arguing that it wasn’t both an act of terror and and act of war; but not only did we waste a tremendous amount of the taxpayers money saving his worthless live, instead of letting him bleed out; (I would have triaged him, and worked on his victims since nobody saw fit to give him an ‘insurance’ shot) but he is still sitting a cell awaiting a tribunal, all the time wasting more taxpayers money.

      • [quote]most of us complaining either dislike the leniency of the legal system, or distrust it.[/quote]

        Both please!

        *runs*

  51. Maybe it’s my mixture of ethnic backgrounds, and no all “white guys” aren’t the same ethnicity, but when I get cranked up I tend to raise general cain. Pleases my wife no end too. NOT!

    Anyway, when people start making the criminals victims I tend to become terminally enraged and only the fact that such people are a goodly distance away, and I don’t want to spend my last years in some prison keeps them alive. This applies to a Mslm punk bomber or a punk of any other religion or ethnicity who happens to get killed because he thought to rob someone or rape someone or beat someone else up. He’s a criminal of some kind or the other, and got exactly what he (or she, I’m an equal opportunity bigot) deserved. If that makes me a bad person or a bigot or hateful, well I’ve been called a whole lot worse, and like old cattle and horses have a pretty thick hide.

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