The Saintly Victim and other Poisons

This is one of my rare posts that applies to both writing and real life (that boring thing.)

I’ve always mentored people, since I was young enough in the craft that I frankly had no business doing it. But in this as in other crafts I attempt there is ALWAYS someone less clued than I whom I can lead in the rightish direction. (Early on this was often a case of the blind leading the blind. Weirdly, though it can do much harm, it can also do some good. In writing, to quote Heinlein, Too much alone isn’t good – probably because writing is a communication thing. And yes, the heartless individualist has always mentored people. I fail at heartless, sorry.)

About five to ten years ago, I started noticing a disturbing trend. Every fledgeling I had who was younger than, oh, thirty, didn’t understand the difference between victimhood and goodness.

If someone was being kicked around by fate, they were ipso facto good and heroes, even if the book failed to establish any of this and even, in fact, when their own story telling made them self centered and repulsive little maggots.

The worst part of this was the blank looks I got when I said “But what does he do to deserve ultimate triumph?” “They picked on him. So he gets to win.”

I told them that in reality, being “the meek” whether good or bad means the slice of Earth you inherit is six feet by two. But they didn’t hear, couldn’t hear. You see, they KNEW the way stories went.

I was of course dealing with extreme cases of story-absorption-syndrome. Though I’ve met a few, there are almost no people who decide to be writers without being addicted to story. These days about half of them REALLY want to write for the movies but think books are easier to get into (rolls eyes) and therefore aren’t readers as such but movie watchers (as their work shows) but still, they have been addicted to story as long as they can remember.

And this got me thinking. I made a post not so long ago, which I’m too lazy to look for (this convention has had an uphill recovery) about how Marxism has perverted things so everyone is trying to collect victimhood points.

And sure, Marxism is a factor in this weird twist of our culture, but so is Christianity (in perverted form) and possibly older philosophies. What I want to emphasize is that other than Marxism, in which this victimhood points thing is a way to undermine society, this is a perversion of whatever the original philosophy was. And the perversion is mostly because the “victim wins” has become a meme for us in the West

It’s not like that everywhere. One of the reasons Muslims believe that Jesus could not have died on the cross is that in their stories the victim is the loser. Jesus (their version) was a great prophet, so he has to have lived to lead armies and sire children.

You find this ethos in almost every ancient culture. If you’re a slave/on the bottom of society, then you or your ancestors did something to deserve it, so you’re being punished and contemptible.

This was arguably what sped the spread of Christianity, because you weren’t held contemptible for having been born “meek” but instead your greater trial in this life was held as earning worth for your reward in the next life.

The problem in our post-religious world is that the “if you endure with patience and saintliness, you’ll earn your reward hereafter” and we just get “if people are mean to you, you’ll win in the end, in this life, because… magic.”

This is not just false, it’s crazy. Oh, it worked to an extent, if you work in a field where the left dominates and your bosses/publicists are just as crazy. You present as victim, they’ll make you win, even if they have to make awards irrelevant and reward incredibly bad writing and puerile themes.

BUT life outside those cocoons doesn’t follow that script. And outside of school/academia/writing/arts there is no correlation between being oppressed and winning in the end. In fact, even there there isn’t since most who claim oppression are upper middle class white women.

In most endeavors being the victim and not fighting, just means you’re the victim.

But more importantly, and this was the part I couldn’t get through to my fledgelings: being the victim doesn’t make you good.

Terry Prachett is the only writer I know to say so explicitly. But it is an observable fact. As an inveterate “do gooder” (I really suck on the heartless part) I take up lost ducklings as much as I take up fledgelings (sometimes they’re the same.)

About 90% of the time, the people who are starving/lost/can’t rise in life/have no job/whatever are in that spot for a reason. And only about 20% (at a high estimate) are willing to change to get out of it.

I’m not saying they’re all despicable. There are a few of those, but very few. Mostly however, they are … human and very flawed, with the kind of flaw that will keep them where they are: they are unable to figure out things (without being dumb); they are “failed artists” and want to continue there; they have no ambition; they’re not willing to work at skills, writing or otherwise. They are mediocre and comfortable with it, and their occasional crisis are the price they pay to stay in that comfort.

It’s a life choice, and yes, it makes them “victims” in that they’re often in great privation. But they’re not willing to get out of it, which means, no they’re not going to win, and no, they’re not heroes of virtue and cunning or altruism and caring.

Sometimes you’re on the bottom because you belong there. And sometimes you’re on the bottom because you’d rather be there than make an effort to rise. And sometimes, yes, you’re on the bottom because you’re safer there. In a few rare cases, you’re on the bottom because of circumstances, and yep, a hand up and you’ll rise. (Which is why I feel morally bound to keep trying.)

Basically, people on the bottom are like the rest of us, only a little less adapted to life as it is. This doesn’t make them noble just like the life they think they’re adapted for isn’t better than ours (So tired of “radical losers” who think they’d fit in in the middle ages or roaming Amerindian tribes or whatever. Chances are if they can’t make it here, they couldn’t make it anywhere else! We ARE the easy mode.) It just makes them sad. And the extent to which they’re willing to struggle makes them worthy or not.

Someone once said, in a review, that my model for characters was the Fallen Caryatid as explained by Heinlein. You go down to hell, but you go down fighting and you never give up. Circumstances my crush you, but you keep trying.

I suppose it’s true, though I hadn’t noticed before.

This is not because I believe those in poor circumstances don’t deserve help – after all, I give help, on the off chance this is someone who will try – but because I believe help or not, it is your duty as a human being to do the best you can. Because the victim doesn’t win. And it’s your duty to try not to lose completely and become a burden on others.

Strangely, the policies I see from that tend to get me labeled as heartless (I wish.) For instance, I do my charity of my own purse and my own time, because government has trouble distinguishing between deserving and undeserving poor, that is, leaving morals aside, those who can rise above their condition and those who can’t. It subsidizes the undeserving at everyone’s expense and its rules prevent the deserving from attempting to rise.

Also, it does things like mess with everyone’s healthcare for the sake of the uninsured, only to find only about 1% of them sign up.

I also support putting malefactors – human or collective – out of our collective misery by any means necessary. That might make them (briefly) my victim but gives their victims the chance to rise (and live.)

And I believe in equality before the law, which is my most evil belief, because it doesn’t privilege “those who need it most” aka “those someone else has decided are deserving victims.” Or as a “Constitutional scholar” (ptui) once put it, it lacks “positive rights.”

But you see, if you give someone positive rights, you’re taking all rights from someone else. And this only works if someone outside decides who the victim is. Otherwise we’re all victims.

Which is closer to the truth. You don’t know what your neighbor is a victim of, not clearly. You only see yourself. And as such, it’s best to ignore it and do the best you can.

Oh, and if you write, please don’t write “he was kicked, and kicked and therefore he was saintly and then he won.” First, because it’s a cliché. Second, because it’s stupid. Being kicked doesn’t make you win. Third because being kicked doesn’t make you saintly. Martyrs in the religious sense are martyrs FOR SOMETHING and in order to achieve something, not just masochists. Fourth because you should be aware of tawdry tricks. It’s easy to make your reader sympathize with someone who is ‘a victim’ because humans are wired that way. But if you don’t back it up with solid character building, you’re selling gilded cr*p. It might look pretty, but it stinks.

THINK – both in life and in story telling, both as a writer and a reader.

There are lies that have a grain of truth and lies that corrupt the truth.

Make your fiction of the first kind.

For all our sakes.

347 thoughts on “The Saintly Victim and other Poisons

  1. This is why people picture Jesus as a wimp with a sunken chest and the same life is a sour lemon look on their face we see on every picture of a put-upon liberal. The very image of a loser’s god.

    1. He made his living as a carpenter when power tools weren’t even a dream. Your picture doesn’t live in my head.

    2. There’s also the bit in his first recorded sermon (Matthew chapter 5) where he says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The word “meek” is also used about Jesus himself elsewhere in the New Testament. Thing is, people have misunderstood the word meek. The Greek word translated “meek” has to do with dealing gently with people, having one’s emotions in order so one doesn’t show immoderate anger, and restraining one’s strength — the analogy used is a colt who’s been “broken” to the saddle. In other words, the Greek word is about restrained strength, not weakness. Basically, what the word “chivalry” used to mean before that word, too, got twisted into unrecognizability by modern usage.

      So I’m not one of those who pictures Jesus as weak. He verbally blasted the authorities of his day for hypocrisy, he chased a group of rich (therefore powerful and well-connected) men out of the temple with a whip… The people with that “wimp with a sunken chest” image really don’t know what they’re talking about.

          1. Think a hammer handle with multiple leather ropes braided on to the end, often with sharp bits braided into the end of each rope (depending on the damage the wanted to do.)

            1. Yep. It’s the whip that in the movies crazy religious zelots are always whipping themselves with. You can also think of it as a cat of nine tails.

          2. From

            1. a whip or lash, especially for the infliction of punishment or torture.

            I suspect that the noun came first and the verb use came later, but that’s just an impression and not the result of study of the etymology of the word.

                  1. If you have not already discovered the collected William Safire nor read his “On Words” columns from the NY Times you have missed out on a verbivore’s* delight.

                    *coinage Richard Lederer, another excellent popularizer of word distinction

          3. cat o’ nine tails. Well a scourge is a wooden handled whip, commonly with multiple braided ‘flails’, cat o’ nine tails is just the most commonly known variety today, do to its popularity in pirate tales.

      1. The Greek word translated “meek” has to do with dealing gently with people, having one’s emotions in order so one doesn’t show immoderate anger, and restraining one’s strength — the analogy used is a colt who’s been “broken” to the saddle. In other words, the Greek word is about restrained strength, not weakness. Basically, what the word “chivalry” used to mean before that word, too, got twisted into unrecognizability by modern usage.

        Now I’ve got a mental image of a surge of anger being like a horse that’s doing that lope-hop up a ridge that’s less stable than he thought….

        1. Well, that’s in line with ancient philosophy, more or less. The allegory of the chariot depicts the relation of appetite, passion, and reason as two horses and their charioteer…

        1. First link got messed up, but the print review sounded fascinating. I’ll have to look for that book.

  2. Heh. The MC in “Blackbird” gets kicked and kicked and he fights back against the odds and pisses off a lot of people until he wins. Neither the character (nor his author) have any patience for whiners or “saintly victims.” (Now if you’ll excuse me, he has an ambush to get out of and he’s about to find himself between a rock, a swamp, and a larger attacking force.)

  3. One of the reasons Muslims believe that Jesus could not have died on the cross is that in their stories the victim is the loser. Jesus (their version) was a great prophet, so he has to have lived to lead armies and sire children.

    I’ve read the version of Joseph in Egypt in the Koran, and with apologies to any Muslims that might be reading this, it reads a lot like what you describe. The basic story is still the same, at least starting with Potipher’s wife (I didn’t read the earlier portions). Basically, Potipher’s wife tries to seduce Joseph, just as in Genesis, and then tries to accuse Joseph of rape when he resists her. But Potipher’s investigation of the matter reveals that Joseph was in the right in the matter, so Potipher keeps him on instead of sending him to prison. Word gets out about Potipher’s wife drooling over the slave help, and the scandal is an embarssment to her. So she invites all of the local women over for a meal at her home. She has Joseph come in mid-way through the meal, and the women are all stunned by how attractive he is. So they all start throwing themselves at him. Joseph is so embarassed by all of the attention that he voluntarily goes to prison and gets locked up just so the women will all leave him alone.

    And that’s about where I stopped reading.

    On a completely unrelated note, the old Orson Scott Card (but not so much the current Orson Scott Card) was a great believer in making his protagonists suffer. But they always had something positive about them besides the fact that they were victims.

    1. Suburban Banshee occasionally finds some really odd gnostic type texts– I think she once called them “Bible fan fiction.”

      Like, flying apostles shooting fireballs (or was it flaming eye beams?) at the other guy and going all super-sayan style “odd.”

          1. Well, yeah. Definitely sounds cool. Just sounds weird. (I was raised Southern Baptist, but had a bit of a falling out. But it’s why I know the Bible better than a lot of people who claim to be Christian of whatever denomination)

            1. It reminds me of the Jesus Saves special summon (you can summon Jesus to help you in a fight once per day) in the South Park video game.

        1. Basically, yeah. (there’s a reason I don’t take “lost gospels” very seriously)

          I can’t find the dang thing now, but you can get some decent quotes if you hit and search for “gnostic gospel,” and maybe you’ll have more luck…. or save your sanity and don’t….

          1. I liked one of the infancy gospels where toddler Jesus scolded a dragon while on the way from Bethlehem to Egypt.

            But then I also get the giggles when I think of “Rocket Jesus,” better known as some of the German paintings of the Resurrection where all you see is a pair of feet at the top of the painting, and the empty tomb and sleeping soldiers below.

          2. I remember finding one of those apocryphal “gospel accounts” in the library at my Christian high school (they believed in giving kids access to primary sources). I got a couple chapters in and found Jesus as a kid making bird sculptures out of clay or mud (I’m not quite sure which) and then turning them into real birds, just to show off. That’s the point at which I lost interest in further reading and said, “Yeah, I can see why this was rejected as non-canon.”

            If I were to read it now rather than as a sixteen-year-old, I’d have more interest in it and I’d probably be able to get through it. Because I’d be looking at it as a historical document, to see what view of Jesus it was trying to present, and why. (The old “Why did the author write this? What did he want his audience to believe?” question, highly useful in all sorts of situations.) At the time, though, I was just curious to know why it had been rejected — and the first couple chapters were all I needed to read to find out why.

      1. Heh. It doesn’t surprise me. I haven’t heard of *that* specific type of thing, but I’m aware of other examples.

        My reading of the Koran only really amounts to that one segment above, so I’ve no idea if there are other similar retellings of other Biblical stories I’m familiar with.

        1. Good thing I’m an agnostic, otherwise I’d be offended. That was really funny, and the choice of quotes make it better.

          1. Nah, Most of us can enjoy a joke. However, the story with different characters could be sale-able. I read part of a story by a Steve Lynch, I think that wasn’t half as good and it had rave reviews.

      2. “Like, flying apostles shooting fireballs (or was it flaming eye beams?) at the other guy”.

        Don’t give me ideas.

        1. …Jesus wasn’t a virgin birth, that was the cover story. No one would’ve believed the truth, that Jesus was found by Mary and Joseph in a strange metal capsule that they saw fall from the sky.

      3. Milton has Jesus, before his Incarnation, fighting the devils in a flying chariot that shoots laser beams. Not that he uses the term “laser beams,” of course, but that’s what they basically are.

        1. They are lightning bolts, which is the traditional weapon of heaven, thank you very much. This image is starkly traditional: If you wanted to point up anachronistic weapons in Milton, I would have thought you would point at the gunpowder canons used by the fallen angels (until the good angels hurl mountain peaks on the artillery emplacement).

  4. Conan left Cimeria as a young man of 17 to raid into Hyperborea, where he was captured and placed in chains. He found a way to break break his chains, killed some of his captors with the chains still attached to his manacles, and ran into the night, to eventually be pursued by wolves. He didn’t play the victim role, even when he was made into one, and that made him Howard’s greatest hero. In real life, Spartacus was born a slave, led a revolt to get out of it, and went to his death on a cross as a man. Victim, yes, but enough of a man to fight his way out of it, even though he was doomed. You are right, Sarah. Those are the kind of people I want to read stories about, not some complaining wimp, even though I resemble that much more than Conan. I want to read about the kind of person I would want to be if put in the same situation. There was a great button I had some years ago from Omni Magazine. “The meek will inherit the Earth, the rest of us will go to the Stars.”

    1. Those are the kind of people I want to read stories about, not some complaining wimp, even though I resemble that much more than Conan. I want to read about the kind of person I would want to be if put in the same situation.
      — emphasis mine.

      I fall far short of my ideals far too often, and struggle with my doubts far too long. I want inspiration not pardon.

    2. Aw, you left out the story which begins with Conan conquered and crucified — and biting the head off a vulture that came down to get at his eyes.

      DEATH knew he was in for a fight when Conan’s dice rolled snake eyes.

      An appalling number of life’s victims seek their revenge by writing bad fiction. Extended rant about the bad example set by Obi Wan Kenobi.

    3. My greatest complain with the 80’s Schwarzenegger version of Conan: he was a wimp compared to the original. Stayed a slave until his master cut him loose, and only started to get his act together after that. Took way too long.

      1. Crom! Now there is a god I could respect. 

        “…He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man’s soul. What else shall men ask of the gods?”

        – Queen of the Black Coast

  5. It’s funny that they believe in this, that victim hood makes you saintly, at the same time they will gleefully pile on a designated hate target in real life – Eich, Palin,etc.

  6. I think this is abetted in our culture because we love the underdog. Our stories abound with it.

    You tie this to the increasing cult of victimhood, and one-upmanship victimhood and things get — interesting, but still workable. Until you forget: the part we love about the underdog? It’s the part where he fights!

    Damaged, knocked down, bowled over, rolled over, crushed, bruised, battered, bloody and disheveled. It all works if the character stands back up and fights!

    If not? Meh. At best.

    Slight topic shift:

    The most compelling point in the story of Christ’s crucifixion, for me, has always been that he walked forward knowing what he would face and how he would suffer. He chose to bear all that came in the belief that his sacrifice was meaningful, important and necessary. But (I believe) he didn’t know. He had doubt, and fear. He felt pain and loss. He chose to bear all of this, and sacrifice himself willingly because he believed. That is not a meek man.

    1. Jesus was raised in the home of a carpenter. I’m sure he was required to help at a very early age. That doesn’t lead itself to a wimp — carpentry was hard work. The most telling scene in the New Testament to Jesus’ manliness was his driving the money-changers from the Temple. A wimp wouldn’t have been able to do that, but a man made strong by years of working in a carpenter’s shop would.

      I’m not a superhero. I’m also not a wimp. Writing superheros may be thrilling, but not fulfilling. Writing ordinary people who rise above their limits and succeed regardless of the adversities they experience is what most readers are interested in. Mush is for babies and the very, very old. I’m not that old yet.

      1. Add to this that at least four of the disciples – Andrew, James, John, and Peter – were fishermen before becoming disciples. As in they hauled nets by hand, those men were neither weak, nor poor. Can you imagine a member of one of the crews of Deadliest Catch following a weakling?

        1. I think Deadliest Catch might serve to give people a better feel than has often been the case. Many folks equate fisherman with “relaxing hobby.”

          1. Blame what’s his name’s “A River Runs Through It” with the line about the Beloved Disciple being a dry-fly fisherman.

      2. Re. Jesus the carpenter. Back when PETA or Greenpeace (I don’t recall which) was running their “what would Jesus drive” ads, someone I know responded, “Oh, probably a Ford F-150 or small Tacoma with toolboxes, scrap lumber, a spare gas can, and other stuff in the back.”

        1. Hadn’t ever thought about it (I try to avoid exposure to PETA/Greenpeace type prop) but: Yeah!

          Some variation of the job-site truck seen all over Texas.

              1. I was going to go with Bethlehem, TX or Paradise, TX, but Nazareth, TX works too.

        2. From my quotes file:

          [From a thread entitled “what car would would Jesus drive?” that turned to guns, where someone suggested the Browning Hi-Power over the Colt 1911]
          While I have to admit that John Moses Browning certainly merits the title “God’s Armourer,” I would have to say that the Bible spells out quite clearly that Jesus preferred antique Colt pistols. In Matthew 5:9 in the NIV, Jesus says, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”
          — David M. Putzolu

            1. Fafhrd would be a short-cropped revolving shotgun, the Mauser a dual-barrel derringer?

              I can see a modern bounty hunter telling his target “Come along quietly or answer to Fafhrd & the Gray Mauser.”

      3. Conduct a simple experiment. Build a cross. I am sure the schematics are available, but a quick Google indicates a Roman cross would have been 135 kilos (if he carried just the cross-beam cut it to 45 kilos.)

        Calculate the distance from the Praetorium to the top of Calvary. Carry your cross that distance — Jesus did, after his scourging.

        Now all Him weak.

    2. I would postulate that there is a difference between the victim – who is crushed by more powerful, malevolent forces – and the underdog, who is picking (righteous) fights above his weight class.

      1. Hm. I’m not sure they’re exclusionary categories. Or perhaps I don’t understand the intent of your postulate.

        1. I think they’re pretty different, but I don’t think we’re entirely disagreeing, either (which didn’t come through well above.)

          Abused victim lacks agency and is likely to turn out to be an abuser in turn. Awaits assistance.

          Underdog owns agency and is (imo) likely to turn out to be the one who respects those he struggles against, and is willing to assist others who need help.

          (See how well my conclusion lines up with my moral preferences? Ain’t that great?:) )

          1. I think whether you are a “victim” in a bad way is all in how you react to circumstances. You can have all kinds of bad things happen to you, but how do you react to them? Do you give up or do you fight?

            The underdog is kind of a different thing, although there might occasionally be overlap.

            1. Oh, I agree that underdog is generally a different cultural concept. My idea above is that our love for the underdog empowers a certain narrative that stems from granting victimhood increased status merely because of victimization.

              The story problem Sarah addresses is a weak reflection of the plucky underdog wins because — perseverance. Prospective writers are conflating victim = status with victim = deserving. They deserve to win because they’re victims, just like those underdogs everybody roots for!

              Except, we don’t think the underdog should win because they’re victimized, we think they should win because they just won’t give up!

              One is a powerful story and the other is ‘Huh??’

            2. I actually like one type of damsels in distress in fiction, the ones who keep trying but face bad enough odds that they do need to be saved in the end. And are then properly grateful for it – no gushing and no oh woe me you big hero cow eyes stuff, some slight sarcasm and jokes are appropriate, but no ‘I need no man to save me’ angry bravado (except as a joke) either when she clearly did need it.

              1. Well, sometimes she doesn’t have to try. those are the ones who realize they are over their head and could only create problems. And when they are being rescued, they do what minimal things they can.

                particularly if it’s a situation where it’s obvious that trained help is needed.

                1. That too. But then it should be pointed out that she is not passive as a matter of course, but because she has figured it out and thinks that for the moment just enduring the situation is the best alternative. While waiting for either an opportunity to try something herself, or a rescue, whichever comes first. Or if she knows that the rescuer or rescuers are certainly coming, and should be able to do it much better than she could (a princess kidnapped by the evil wizard or a hostage in a building surrounded by police or something along those lines – people do know what has happened to her and at least approximately where she is, and some of them are going to act as a matter of course).

    3. I’ve been meaning (translation: I think “I really should” and then get distracted before carrying it out, and don’t remember until the next time I go “oh yeah, I really should– SHINY!”) to look up what exactly they meant by “meek.” I know a lot of the implications we get are…. um… iffy. (Like “magic.”)

      There are a lot of other sources that agree with this article:
      which argues that “gentle” is a lot more accurate for modern use; biblehub’s page cites Strong’s concordance saying that the word we translate most commonly as “meek” is more like “exercise power with restraint”– rather than an uncontrolled “look at how much I can do!” type thing.

      1. There’s several threads in the article that more closely accord with my understanding than much of the popular thought.

        My pick for example:

        By gentleness, the virtuous strong protect the vulnerabilities of the weak against their own superior power, but their fierceness reveals itself when they bring their power to bear on those others who intentionally and maliciously threaten those little ones.

        Contrasted with the definition for meek pulled off of [big search engine]:
        quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive
        — emphasis mine

        Meekness as illustrated in the article, conforming with gentleness, is far more in accord with my belief than is submissive.

        1. *nod*

          Much more Christ-like, too. (I love the meme that goes around every so often, that has variations of “Remember: your options for WWJD include tossing tables and driving out jerks.”)

          1. There is a certain type of Christian man, held up in some places as the ideal, who is submissive and weak, a limp dishrag. These men are called Christ-like and celebrated and I grit my teeth.

            It’s irritating enough to be mischaracterized by those outside the faith…

            1. I hit reply and more occurred to me.

              It’s not the submissiveness or weakness that bothers me, it’s the sucking out of every other possible passion, the removal of any emotional response beyond submission.

              Restraining passions is not the same as having no passion.

            2. What was Lewis’ line, something about men without chests?

              I can’t help but notice that the Dishrag is also the “ideal” Liberated Male.

              1. I can’t help but notice that the Dishrag is also the “ideal” Liberated Male.

                Yes. There ought to be warning bells attached, but I don’t think people are hearing the chime…

                1. Yes, because taking a whip to tax collectors and loan sharks is the Sensitive (or was that sensible?) thing to do.

          2. I’ve referenced the Scourging of the Moneychangers on more than one occasion to friends on Facebook. Unfortunately, it’s an incident that doesn’t get brought up very often (for obvious reasons), and it’s an important reminder to people that being “Christ-like” doesn’t mean turning into a carpet (and letting people walk all over you).

            1. Remember that the answer to “What Would Jesus Do?” is sometimes, “Throw a fit and start to toss around the furniture.”

              1. Oh yeah, and one might argue, obey the law, go against the popular grain or trends for what is good and correct despite personal risk, befriend the ones who are disliked by the group, obey Mom when she tells you to do something to fix a problem… and fix problems.

                I’m fairly sure a lot of the abovelisted is very unappealing to a number of people.

            2. The most succinct version of that I’ve seen is, “Remember, ‘What Would Jesus Do’ includes the option of flipping over tables and chasing people with a whip.”

          3. Can’t remember where I heard it, but the word translated as meek was also used in mundane writings to describe a powerful stallion AFTER it had been trained to stop being wild.

              1. I like your description higher up in this thread. Aslan’s reply to ‘are you a tame lion’…..self control is not wishy-washy. Force, when used, is focused and directed instead of wasted; and all the more effective because of that.

            1. Amusingly, “gentled” is how my folks would describe any horse that isn’t a menace. (And when you way a ton, that’s a lot easier than it sounds.)

              Guess I now have another arrow in my “Remember, ‘eye for an eye’ was a restriction, not permission to go wild” quiver.

    4. The low points of <Cool Hand Luke are when Newman appears to have been beaten by Boss.

      One of the recurring high points of The Great Escape is McQueen’s insouciance returning to his cell, ball and glove in hand.

      Beaten, betrayed, cheated and chastised, Longfellow Deeds has been taken to court to have his competency contested and it is when he finally shakes off his apathy and rises in his own defense that the audience cheers. If you’re short on time, jump to 17:25 and watch.

  7. One thing I “hate” about the “Saintly victim” is that he (or she) often isn’t Saintly. He (or she) can be extremely nasty as a person but that’s OK because he/she is a Victim. [Frown]

  8. Constitutional scholar, *ptui* indeed. And squared. You actually have to produce scholarship to be a scholar.

    A claim of victimhood wouldn’t go anywhere without these soi-disant scholars pushing the “positive rights”, aka the enslavement of others, scam.

    1. A constitutional scholar who has been shut out 9-0 a dozen times in the last year.

  9. Sometimes you’re on the bottom because you belong there. And sometimes you’re on the bottom because you’d rather be there than make an effort to rise. And sometimes, yes, you’re on the bottom because you’re safer there. In a few rare cases, you’re on the bottom because of circumstances, and yep, a hand up and you’ll rise. (Which is why I feel morally bound to keep trying.)

    Anyone know clues that someone’s in the bottom because of circumstances? The best I’ve come up with is an anti-clue: anyone proclaiming their victimhood (a panhandler with a sign, a hashtag activist, etc.) will never change.

    1. Clues in American culture . . . are their clothes neatly patched? (This tends to indicate that rather than blowing a few bucks on a new pair of jeans at Walmart/thrift store they’re saving their few bucks and they have the self pride to mend them.) Are they buying ingredients and vegetable seeds with their food stamps and using the all-too-rare ingredient coupons rather than pre-made food? Someone who has fifty pounds of rice and fifty pounds of lentils in her shopping cart is probably a victim of circumstances, someone who has fifty pounds of potato chips and a dozen frozen dinners is probably a victim of choices.
      Stuff happens–I’m familiar with the food stamp rules, unfortunately, on a personal level (nothing like lost jobs in a recession/depression/recovery/whatever-they’re-calling-this-nowadays)–and it has never stopped amazing me that folks complain that food stamps don’t pay enough to feed their families but spend it all on junk food. Really, you can feed your family on food stamps: you just can’t feed them pre-made chicken cordon blue. There’s a reason why subsistence food pretty much everywhere in the world is a grain/legume combination. Rice/soy, corn/pintos, wheat/chickpeas.
      Of course in this country most people who are victims of circumstance are also victims of choices–if you’d taken this job that didn’t go away instead of that job that did you wouldn’t be searching desperately for work now, right? But many of those choices are only obvious in retrospect–so if you want someone who is truly only a victim due to circumstances you are looking outside of the first world countries.
      Something that generally doesn’t get advertised much, possibly since it’s not convenient to the powers that be to have people scattered into rural areas, is that it’s generally much more comfortable to be poor in a America in a place where you can dry your laundry outside, plant a garden, and feed a hen with your food waste.

      1. One major clue of whether someone is a victim by choice or by circumstances is whether they’re trying to do something about their situation or finding a way to be comfortable in it. Most second- and third-generation welfare recipients have found a way to be comfortable in their situation, and don’t want to, or are unwilling to, change.

        1. Don’t forget the third option: Have no clue how to change. Dave Pelzer—the author and subject of A Child Called It—came to talk at our bookstore when a newer book in his series came out. There were a couple of surprises there, including the fact that he is a truly funny man, but one thing’s for sure, he’s not a “victim”, despite being the subject of one of the worst cases of abuse in California history. He currently works with foster kids who have come out of abuse, and one thing he pointed out is that for a lot of them, they *don’t know* that there’s another way to react to circumstances (other than anger/helplessness/other negative emotion.) What he tries to do is to get them to have the realization that they *do* have the power to control their circumstances, because any other thing he could do for them won’t work until they get that.

          If a person is several generations into welfare, they literally have no model for how to succeed. They don’t understand, on a basic level, that it’s even possible. So what needs to happen is to get them to have that revelation—and preferably in a way that makes it desirable, so that self-worth comes out of it. Then the problem would solve itself.

          1. Theodore Dalrymple’s biggest task in his own eyes was persuading his patients that their misery was a consequence of their actions:

            Aided by a few simple questions, it doesn’t take them long to analyze their situation, though at the outset they invariably ascribe their unhappiness to bad luck or fate. Such is the power of self-deception that even the most obvious considerations escape them


            1. “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

              This is known as “bad luck.””


      2. There’s a reason why subsistence food pretty much everywhere in the world is a grain/legume combination. Rice/soy, corn/pintos, wheat/chickpeas.

        Yeah, that, right there, is why I’m so happy my children love beans. I don’t have to fight with them about veg and beans and mushrooms and such, when it’s a tighten the belt time.

  10. I was going back in SF history and trying to understand the point you were trying to make and I couldn’t grasp it. Fara is victimized by empire and helped by the Weapon Shops. There’s Jommy Cross in Slan and Thorby in Citizen of the Galaxy. Where do they fit in? Some examples would’ve helped.

    As for Marxism, I think what we’re seeing is a generic racial and sexual version adapted from Brazilian Paulo Friere’s Critical Pedagogy which taught one’s social and class standing trumps one’s actual talents due to the fact there is no true meritocracy. This was continued by Derrick Bell’s Critical Race Theory and finally in the QUILTBAG intersectionalism of the last 25 years that is the default ideology of the core institutions of the SFF community.

    In truth intersectionalism is a thing that has long since left its original anti-oppression beginnings and now exists only to demonize straight white men and propagandize the spiritual and moral supremacy of non-white gay women. Every single word they write is dedicated to puffing up one at the expense of the other.

    1. Thorby was a victim, however he absolutely refused to become a slave even when so young that he did not remember his parents. This makes him a hero and possibly THE example of Heinleins assertion that you CANNOT enslave a free man. The most that you can do is kill him.

      1. I’m still unclear compared to what. What is “They picked on him. So he gets to win”?

        Isn’t that the basis of the 3 stories I mentioned? If Citizen of the Galaxy is the right way, what’s the wrong way?

            1. Which just reinforces the truth of that old adage that there is no accounting for taste.

          1. I wondered why that was classified as science fiction, honestly. (The other story I had that question about was a lovely period piece, but I kept waiting for swamp monsters. Half a page of hints does not a science fiction make.)

            1. Intersectional extremist feminists simply call whatever their strange obsessions are “mainstream” and act on that. That’s because in their bizarre minds, their sexual identity-narcissism and race/gender parade IS normal, even to the point of ignoring the genre. If they wrote “Westerns” they’d be all about race and gender, and straight white men would be the Indians and gay non-white women the cowboys.

              Intersectionalists claim to represent “women,” though they don’t come even close to that. They claim to write SF but don’t. They just call it that. They claim to be feminists but aren’t, since feminists aren’t crazy bigots. They’re not really even QUILTBAGs since gay people aren’t innately crazy and hateful.

              If you want to understand intersectionalism, think neo-Nazis, with their identity the eternal hero and everyone else, especially straight white men, playing the part of Jews, and all will be made clear.

              They are sick and crazy people who’ve been amazingly successful mainstreaming their hatreds into SF. That’s all about to end, because people are starting to wake up to exactly what these fruitcakes are all about. It’s one thing to see that insane asylum at WisCon, and another and much more startling sight to see people sweep the Nebulas who share the exact principles of supremacist neo-Nazis.

              Let’s be honest and stark about this: in what mad world does SF intersect with straight white men? The answer is – none. Rocket ships and aliens, yes. But straight white men used like a Buddhist mantra… in SF? That’s insanity.

    2. Not having read Citizen of the Galaxy I can’t comment on those characters, however. What Sarah is talking about is the cross contamination between culture and writing of the Cult of the Victim.

      Anyone who has been victimized (or can claim to be, however spurious the claim may be) is granted sainthood these days, and too often writers are substituting victimhood for actual characterization.

      This is leaving aside that the vast, vast majority of so-called “victims” are victims of nothing but their own idiotically bad choices.

      1. Oh, and keep in mind Heinlein never EVER wrote victims as we define the term today. Meaning “whining little bitches (if either gender) who can’t take care of themselves and are utterly helpless worms.”

        1. Not quite true. There was the attempted thief in “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls”. After the, inevitable, betrayal, one of the heroes notes that they had been an idiot to give him the second chance.

          1. I believe Pat meant, he never wrote victims as the heros/protagonists. The thief (whose name I’ve forgotten) was a basically unveiled political rant against sainting victims, by Heinlein.

      2. Great. A few more literary examples that would illustrate that point would be helpful since I am not still clear in my mind as to what constitutes the underdog right way and underdog wrong way.

        1. It’s hard to provide examples, because I doubt most of us read anything that works from the premise of victim = deserve.

            1. I think I’ve actually run into the edges of the idea more in Romance than SF. Because gooey SF has gotten pretty easy to spot and so I avoid it like dog shit in the grass.

              I’ve seen more than one character construction in Romance that followed very closely the nobility derived from victimhood idea. But I don’t think they ever get quite as bad as some of the GG SF, because in the end, for Romance to work you have to like the characters. There are some genre constraints at work there.

            2. “Oryx and Crake” (what little I managed to get through) came to mind. “Pollyana” comes mighty close, as does Katie in “What Katie Did” (if you are looking for older examples.)

          1. It tends to be more common in GHH type fiction, yeah– and they’re usually not very good story tellers, either. I can think of about half a dozen books that I’ve started but then stopped because… well, the main character was an ass we were obviously supposed to consider a unicorn because they’d suffered, you see….. (even if most of their suffering was “I have to work” or, in one instance, “I’m too dumb to figure out what foie gra is.”)

            Mercedes Lackey’s 500 Kingdoms comes close to this– but unless she’s making a point, the “suffered so noble” characters do have noble characteristics, even if we only know because we’re informed as such in their mental monologs or as the “voice-over.” (…that sounds more negative than it is– the stories move fast, so there just isn’t time to “show” everything because too much stuff is happening; it’s explained when it comes up)

        2. Underdog wrong way: bend and spread
          Underdog right way: Get off my back

          Underdog wrong way: please sir, may I have another?
          Underdog right way: you’ve got to sleep sometime

      3. I think it’s a bit more than that. I suspect it’s also a belief that victimhood justifies protagonist-centered morality. i.e. we end up with a character that we’d absolutely loathe (and might even consider to be the villain) if it weren’t for the fact that the character in question is a “victim”. We end up with someone who’s cruel and a jerk to others, who we’d refuse to be anywhere near in real life, and are expected to admire them because they were a “victim”.

            1. Well, George doesn’t seem to care much either way about whether one of his characters is deserving of respect. He’ll kill ’em all regardless…

            2. I don’t know that GRRM expects anybody to admire his characters, though. I think he may just have a very dim view of humanity.

        1. Oh, you’re talking about Harry Potter. That little twerp got a total free ride on his nasty behaviors and his (near-total lack of) character just ‘cuz some baddie offed his ‘rents, and I hardly ever hear mention of the fact.

          1. Not really.

            He wasn’t perfect, and he went through the kill-it-now teenage phase, but Potter actually did have character, made some rather hard choices…and it’s supposed to be ignored because everyone (wizard-wise) expected him to be a magical do great things guy.

            Example: his buying the candy for Ron, who he’d just made friends with; going in after Hermionie, etc.

            Dumbledore did let him off easy on a lot of stuff…but from what little we see elsewhere, that was Dumbledore’s thing— being a merciful get-out-of-trouble-free card. We just mostly saw it from Harry because he’s the one the story was about.

      4. The closest thing I can think of are Aliette de Bodard’s Nebula-winning post-colonialist weepers that take place on Vietnamese space stations. The illustrations for the stories should always have an Asian in a cyborg Suzie Wong dress crying with holographic ads in the background that say “Never drink Pepsi.”

        Nothing much happens in the stories other than a pervading sense everyone would have their souls back if whites hadn’t stolen them.

        1. Wait, didn’t Vietnam win Eternal Happiness in 1975, overthrowing and enslaving all those non-Vietnamese types who looked Vietnamese but lived south of the old DMZ? I’m confused …

          1. Of course. Those unsightly reeducation camps. The tens of thousands of people leaving everything they know to sneak off to the coast in the middle of the night, pile into tiny leaky boats, and get robbed and raped by pirates as they try and get to the land of the horrible foreign oppressors, because even with all that, it’s better than home was becoming. The millions dead next door.

            All just the normal settling in process after nirvana settles upon a land.

        2. The illustrations for the stories should always have an Asian in a cyborg Suzie Wong dress crying with holographic ads in the background that say “Never drink Pepsi.”
          LOL! Priceless.

    3. It’s been a few years since I read them, but here’s my take.

      Thorby looked to better himself, and took the opportunities he could find.

      Fara was victimized – but accepted the tools to fight back against that victimization and was willing to help others.

      Slan – I never could get into. sorry.

  11. I am reminded of a scene in Batman Begins. Bruce Wayne is explaining to his old girlfriend that the “playboy” stuff isn’t “the real him.” Her response is “what you do defines who you are.”

    Truth there.

    Too many people appear to define themselves not by what they do, but by what’s done to them.

  12. There are genuinely sympathetic victims…..and then there are whiners. And, frankly, and white middle-class inhabitant of North America who isn’t crippled, in the toils of the State, or diseased is in no position to complain about much of anything.

    White Middle Class women (you should pardon the expression) bitching about “Rape Culture” need to have it driven into their thick skulls that Western culture IS THE ONLY ONE ON EARTH or at any point in history that has or had much respect for a woman’s right to say “no”.

    Also, that since men are larger, faster, stronger, and more aggressive than women, it is quite possible that their whining will bring that (I believe) salutary condition to an end.

    1. Indeed. I’ve seen a number of things online that make me wonder if the writers read Outlaw of Gor and thought the ending was a Good Idea and should be implemented ASAP.

  13. For instance, I do my charity of my own purse and my own time, because government has trouble distinguishing between deserving and undeserving poor, that is, leaving morals aside, those who can rise above their condition and those who can’t.

    Our local Walmart always has folks out front getting signatures for ballot initiatives; few weeks back, it was so we could “vote for more funding for disease research.”

    I said no, thank you, I do not want to sign– government is just not very good at finding good programs to fund.

    The guy then tried to guilt me into it because it “wouldn’t cost me anything.”

    I rephrased it as no, I would not sign, because government tends to waste money instead of getting decent results….and made sure to walk away as fast as I could.

    Guess that magic government money will just have to go to waste. (I hope, anyways– maybe it did get enough signatures to get on the ballot.)

    1. I refuse to give the government more money until they’ve shown responsibility with the money they already have.

  14. But you see, if you give someone positive rights, you’re taking all rights from someone else. And this only works if someone outside decides who the victim is.

    How else are you to divorce “right” from “responsibility”?

    See also: how the victim “identifiers” aren’t the ones trying to force others to do stuff, those who disagree are supposed to be responsible for showing how they’re right. Even if the “identifiers” are the ones wanting to change everything on their say-so.

  15. “If someone was being kicked around by fate, they were ipso facto good and heroes, even if the book failed to establish any of this and even, in fact, when their own story telling made them self centered and repulsive little maggots. …’They picked on him. So he gets to win.'”

    I think the fundamental problem here is the confusion that’s arisen between storytelling as art and storytelling as activism.

    The argument these fledgelings have bought into — and which, in the form in which I here recast it, I actually think is valid — is not that being a victim makes a person ipso facto “good” in the sense of being personally moral, virtuous, courageous or competent, but in the sense that all those who have suffered unjustly are due both justice (here called “getting to win”) and (on a basic moral level) sympathy from the rest of us. In real life, this is addressed by the fact that a victim’s personal likeability or character has (or should have in principle, anyway) nothing to do with whether justice is accomplished for them or not when they suffer: if the worst jerk in the world has his house burnt down and is maimed for life by an arsonist, he still deserves his day in court and the right to sue for damages, and the scope of his loss merits sympathy even if his personality doesn’t.

    However, the critical distinction is that what merits moral sympathy and the obligation towards justice in real life is not, in itself, always enough to create compelling emotional investment and entertaining catharsis on an artistic level. It is possible that some of the fledgelings here considered genuinely were never taught this, or are so naturally empathetic that to them simple suffering is compelling and dramatic — but the ones who have bought into the political thesis that all relationships are oppressor-oppressed power dynamics, and that “deserving victim” is an oxymoron and “undeserving victim” a redundancy, cannot even conceive of this distinction in the first place. (And could not afford to portray or acknowledge it in their stories if they did, as it would be a toxic weakening of those stories’ message.)

    1. You wrote ‘“deserving victim” is an oxymoron and “undeserving victim” a redundancy’. Did you mean that, or the reverse?

      1. No, I meant it as I wrote it — in the mindset I’m talking about, a victim is anyone who is unjustly oppressed, therefore there can be no such thing as a “victim” who “deserves his suffering” because by definition if he deserved it he isn’t a victim. (And that’s also why you don’t have to say “undeserving victim” because you can only be a victim if you didn’t deserve it, so it’s redundant.)

        1. In my experience, “deserving victim” is used to mean, “deserving of help,” not “deserving of suffering.”

          1. Spins off of the “deserving poor” vs the folks who are just poor– ie, the ones that will do something with the help, vs those who will just pad the hammock a little.

            Come to think of it, I don’t think the division is much in use since… the 50s and sixties or so. I mostly know about it because of folks who are violently opposed to it act like it’s a day-to-day thing.
            (Usually combined with much complaining about those nasty religious people who will feed them and give them medical care, but will have the gall to act all religious about it. Or, gasp, will expect them to sit through an hour long church service in a warm, dry place before they are fed. Is my contempt for the complaining from supposedly starving characters coming through clearly?)

            1. Or even worse, the religious people who offer to help, but only those who are sober and willing to pitch in, make their bed, tidy their cubby, and put effort into learning how to get out of whatever hole they’ve found themselves in.

            2. Sometimes gets used today. Like this

              To treat her as an especially deserving case, after all, would be to imply that there were undeserving cases; and to say that there were undeserving cases would be tantamount to admitting that one way of living is preferable—morally, economically, culturally, spiritually—to another. This is a thought that must at all costs be kept at bay, or the whole ideology of modern education and welfare collapses in a heap.,

              Doubtlessly it will surprise you that this is by Theodore Dalrymple.


      2. Though I see what you mean, and yes, it could be reversed if you take “deserving” to mean deserving of recompense and justice for suffering, not deserving of the suffering in the first place.

  16. It’s not what you have, it’s what you do with it. It doesn’t matter how much potential a human has if they don’t use it. If someone isn’t going to put forth the effort to improve their lot or use their talents, they deserve scorn.

    If someone has been victimized they have, IMAO, two choices: Find a way to get past it or wallow. If your house gets destroyed by a fire, which is going to be more effective, crying about it or finding a way to get it rebuilt?

    Just because something bad has happened to you doesn’t mean you deserve to win. Working hard to get ahead means you deserve to win.

    I think that is one of my problems with the idea of not keeping score. In life there are winners and losers and typically the winner worked for it.

  17. “He was kicked, and kicked, and kicked. Then he died. And the smile on the face of his corpse was terrible to behold.”

    1. A victimhood story as written by HP Lovecraft?

      No, no; if it were, his smile would be “eldritch” & cause everyone with a college degree to go irrevocably mad.

  18. Larry Corriea’s Monster Hunter series does really good at destroying this “saintly victim” meme. Right at the beginning, in the first chapter of Monster Hunter International, the main character has a choice: be a victim, or go down swinging. In the first choice, sure, you can embrace your victimhood and curl up into a ball of trembling self-righteousness (that just soiled itself) and bask in your victimy saintliness… Right up until the monster tears out your spine and plays jump-rope with it. Or you can go with the second choice and fight back. With the second choice, you still might die, and die ugly, but at the very least, you can give the beastie a bit of indigestion. And there’s always a chance you might win.

    Needless to say, Larry’s main character, Owen, chooses the second option — which is why Monster Hunter International is a multi-book series and not a hideously depressing short story (though, it probably would have won a lot of awards). Perhaps, I’m just a meanie, but I see no virtue in digging your own grave while your executioners look on with contempt. However, I see a world of virtue in getting shot trying to cave one of their skulls in with the shovel. Yeah, you’re still dead either way, but in this case, they’ll have to do the digging, and if your swing was true, they’ll have to dig a second grave as well.

    1. Advisory, foul language.

      The movie Dog Soldiers, the character ‘Spoon’ Witherspoon, while boxing with a werewolf (preface to inevitably dying):

      “I hope I give you the shits, you fucking wimp.”

      1. Awesome movie! You have exceptional taste, Eamon. It’s one of those really well made, but kind of obscure films. And it’s obscure in the good way: the kind of movie that few people have seen, so when you lend it to them, they bring back the disk and say something like “Holy crap that was awesome!” (or, in one case, “Thanks a lot, you jerk — you just ruined the ‘Twilight’ werewolves for me.” I still get warm fuzzies thinking about that one)

        When reading the Monster Hunter books, I visualized the werewolves as similar to the ones in this movie — some of the most badass werewolves I’ve seen in film to date.

        1. As mentioned downthread, I first saw it in the MMR tent in Kuwait. Bunch of ADVON personnel sitting around the port camp with nothing to do ’til the next ship docked.

          So, my memories of it are forever colored by a bunch of guys cheering and shouting and jeering at the screen. Good times.

      2. Warning: the DVD of that movie is almost unwatchable, and the bluray got bad reviews for picture quality. Darned pity, I liked that movie, except for the left-wing trope of “special forces training requires you to be cruel to animals” at the beginning. I thought it was going somewhere else, because the Browning High Power the hero is handed is obviously empty (no magazine, and the gun has a magazine safety.)

        1. i.e. if you have a round in the chamber but no magazine in the pistol, pistol won’t shoot.

                1. Clayton Cramer and I own the same model gun we use for carry purposes, and I recently shared with him how to disable the magazine safety on it. Benefits include the mag drops out cleanly, and it no longer gets scraped by the safety.

                  I dislike the concept because it’s a control that can prevent my weapon from going bang when I want it to, even if it has a round in the chamber, and there’s no control I can manipulate to change that. (The perfect example is being in the middle of a tactical reload when the Goblin makes an appearance, you have a round in the chamber, the mag in your hand, and you can’t shoot. Not good.)

                  1. Well, yes, but the legal eagles on handgun defense say you can get into serious trouble in criminal and lawsuit courts by shooting a burglar/robber with a handgun that has had any safety feature removed. Or has had a “trigger job.” Or is loaded with handloads. Their advice is, for self-defense, buy a pistol that already has all the features you want – you can get a 1911 with no magazine safety, no hammer-drop safety, and whatever trigger pull you want, right out of the box. And get a box or two of good cartridges and save the handloads for target practice.

                    1. You know what? I would rather be alive to fight it out in court, than dead because my gun wouldn’t go bang when I pulled the trigger; just to try and satisfy some anti-gun nut who will never be satisfied as long as I own any firearm.

                      The ‘safety features’ on a firearm should be designed to keep the user and possibly innocent bystanders safe, not to keep somebody attacking the user safe.

                    2. Memorize this phrase: “Hunh; I wonder how that broke off? Poor manufacturing quality control.”

                      Think the prosecution can “prove” to a jury that it couldn’t have broken off?

                    3. My2Cents on this:

                      If you don’t like the feature why buy a gun with it?


                      It not about them proof, it about you making a clear cut case that you had no choice but to defend yourself with deadly force.

                      Self-defense as an affirmative defense. It’s up to you to prove that that you were justified in doing what you admitted to having done.

                      If they can paint you as being so reckless and and inconsiderate of safe that you disabled a safety feature on your weapon, the prosecution will.

                    4. I don’t really expect the issue to come up. I especially don’t expect the lawyers to be knowledgeable enough about my gun to think of this.

                  2. Marlin semi-auto rimfire rifles have that ‘feature’, I know multiple guys who while out hunting have lost their clip while crawling through the brush (they also have a poorly designed magazine release) and have gotten to game, only to discover that while they may have plenty of ammo, their gun will not go bang.

        2. I agree — the picture quality on the disk is pretty crappy (whoever did the transfer should be beaten with a stick). But, since I got it for $5 in the bargain bin at Walmart, I can’t complain too much.

          1. I first watched it in the MMR tent in Kuwait, since watched it on one cable channel or another, but I’ve never picked it up on disc.

            That frustrates me, ’cause I’d like to have it.

            I took the “be cruel to animals” bit as more reflective of the individual character’s (um) character than of special operations personnel in general. Given what sort of fellow he went on to be.

            But it’s been awhile since I saw it, so it may be more egregious than I remember.

            1. The director later did the even more awesome “The Descent.” But he has a probelm with story. I found some bits in “Dog Soldiers” confusing — did the SAS squad that got eaten mean to lure the hero squad into a werewolf trap? After the good guys find the dead men’s weapons, they abandon their own blanks-only rifles for the SAS men’s guns, and I saw nothing wrong with the way they handle those weapons, but that High-Power at the beginning with the empty grip turned right toward the camera was very annoying.

              1. Um… Guy is boxing a werewolf and winning! (’til the other werewolf shows up) I give him a pass on some gaffes for that scene alone.


      3. I like that one. Only mild complaint is the same one I have with all of the modern horror movies I have seen: the story went for the standard cliche ending of horror movies – either no survivors or almost no survivors. I would like to be surprised sometimes. Like having more of the good guys survive occasionally.

        1. Yeah, it’s kinda defined by the modern genre, though. It’s tough to have escalating levels of horror and violence without wiping out a big chunk of the cast. And if somebody’s so gauche as to want emotional impact in the movie, you have to get the audience somewhat invested in the characters before you kill ’em.

          Which is one of the reasons I’m not much of a fan of modern horror movies. Gore and slaughter tends not to shock me, and if you know going in most of these folks aren’t going to make, why would you let yourself get invested?

          I’m like you, I’d like to be surprised by the story arc sometime. And I’d be doubly surprised if I ever was.


        2. *cough*Tremors*cough*.

          Added bonus, the monster can be killed with sufficient ammunition:-).

  19. Actually what most of them lack is patience. Both with suffering — which is why they whine so — and with the hard work needed to accomplish anything.

    1. Whining can be quite therapeutic when you are having a bad time. For the whiner. 🙂 But yep, at least some level of awareness is appreciated, meaning the whiner can figure out that listening to it can become tedious fast and will show at least some restraint occasionally.

  20. An additional thought. Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography, related a case where he explained that being oppressed does not confer virtue, that an oppressed peoples will often, given the opportunity, turn around and be the oppressor. Someone said “what about the Jews?” Asimov gave an example which I don’t remember and, not being a scholar of Jewish history, can’t reconstruct. The person who had asked about the Jews responded with “But that was the only time.”

    Asimov’s reply was “that was their only chance.”

    IIRC (and I might not be–it’s been more than 20 years since I read the autobiography) this would be sometime in the late forties to early fifties so the “oppression confers virtue” idea in political/social “discourse” goes back at least that far (otherwise there would have been no need to refute it).

    And that far back at least some of the more liberal folk got it.

    1. Judah the Maccabee (or one successors), after successfully winning independence from the Syrian-Greek Seleucid empire, found he had to deal with the Idumeans who had moved in to the country: so he compelled them to convert to Judaism.

      This was a bad move on several halachik grounds; as Asimov points out, on moral grounds; and as history showed, on practical grounds: the Hasmonean ruling family was deposed by the Herod the Idumean.

      1. I’d add the actions of Jacob’s sons re: Shechem, etc (Gen 34) to that list of opportunities taken advantage of. People are *mean*.

        1. That one’s more complicated, and commentators have disputed whether the action was justified. (Jacob disapproved, but was that on moral or pragmatic grounds?)

          The primary possible justification goes something like this: The townsfolk not only neglected to exact justice for Dinah’s rape, but also went along with Simon and Levi’s follow-up suggestion. On one hand, the lack of justice is grounds for a just war, waged in the normal manner for that era; on the other, the townsfolk had made themselves accessories-after-the-fact.

          (And if you think that’s a weak justification—Jacob thought so too. Funny thing about Bible stories is that you can’t always tell whether the narrator—or Narrator—approves of what the characters have done.)

          As it happens, I’ve also read Asimov’s autobiography (or something else where he spoke of this same story), and being somewhat more familiar with Jewish history than David, the details stuck in my mind so I’m able to say what Asimov was referring to. (I also doubt Asimov considered the Genesis account to be historical.)

          1. >>>considered the Genesis account to be historical.

            Of course not. He was Jewish, not Baptist. 😉

            Yeah, I’m inclined to read the story as “two crazy teenagers met, decided they had fallen in love, and commenced to screw up everything for their respective families.” It even makes sense in the context of the father’s reactions – it’s not that big a deal of the father’s favored son takes an outlander wife, particularly if her relatives are wealthy, but a dad wants his girl to marry a guy of a proper family, and besides her brothers are hotheads. So Dinah’s crying in her tent and refusing to eat and blaming her father for ruining her life, the women are all pissed because now NOONE is allowed out without an escort and it is severely cramping their style and Jacob has been stewing over this for days, trying to figure a way out, and probably finally says to the boys *fix this* – not meaning ‘go kill the sob’, particularly by lying about it, but, you know, *boys*.

            A stiff necked people indeed.

            1. This topic came up on another forum last week, where someone made some of the same points you are. But—where does anyone get the idea that this was “teenagers in love”? The text says it was rape, and that Dinah didn’t go home from her rapist’s house until her brothers rescued her.

              The kid went out with some girlfriends and never came back. Dad’s frantic, hears the young local clan-chief is involved, and the whole village thinks everything’s just fine, but there’s nothing to be done before the boys get home.

              Clan-chief’s father comes by to visit: she’s pregnant (it’s implied that Simon later adopted the boy “Saul the son of the Canaanitess”); his son wants to regularize things; he’s willing to buy the girl for whatever the family wants, and loves her too much to let her go home. Well, now we know what sort of town we’ve moved to—we’re not getting any help from anyone.

              Boys #2 & #3 seem to have a plan: put all the town’s men in bed for a few days and get their sister back. Sounds good. (If Dad were concerned about lying, that’s when he should have said something.)

              Three days later: “You boys ever hear the term ‘overkill’?” “Look, Dad: at least nobody’s going to mess with us anymore.”

              1. I suspect those who talk about “young teenagers in love” believe the rape story is what the writers of Genesis said to make the sons look better. IE the rape story is a lie. [Frown]

                1. Ayup, those ancient Hebrews polished up their history more than a Democrat running for president.

                  1. <sarc>Yeah, with how the people were always loyal, and their kings all virtuous, and their military victories all glorious, their priests wise and their leaders saints…</sarc> 😐

                1. I think the “Teanagers in love” part was probably one of the least offensive things about “The Red Tent”.

                2. Nobody warned you not to get me started on this subject, huh?

                  From reviews I’ve seen, the only connection The Red Tent has to the Biblical stories is that some of the characters have the same names. Everything of significance in the book, starting with the titular red tent, is not only invented (which is within the scope of historical fiction) but is designed to undermine the Biblical story—and not based on any scholarship, either.

                  (E.g., separate tents for menstruating women? Not ever in that part of the world, and not much at all anywhere in that era. [And the author fails biology as well, with some of the details.] But to an audience that kinda-sorta knows just enough about the rules of niddah to reject them, this is a comfortable anti-Biblical story to undermine those rules.)

                  In other words, there’s good evidence that Diamant did do actual research for this book: there’s almost no way she could have gotten so many things so very wrong if she weren’t working at it. But people quote that book as if it was bound into their Bibles… 🙄

                  1. well, I’m trying not to get ME started. It was recommended to me by my agent, editor AND a Jewish friend. (Rolls eyes.) I never read such a load of claptrap in my life. Also profoundly anti-human-wave. No one in that book was good, except of course, when acting as sock puppets for American feminists.
                    WHERE did this soap box come from, and why am I standing on it?

                  2. I started out enjoying the book, but there were so many things that made me go, “Hey, wait a minute,” that by the end I was hating it.

                    At one point, I even re-checked to see if it wasn’t written by a man, after all, any woman would know how menstruation worked, right?

                    And taking away one of the concubine’s sons (which was Rachel’s by proxy) and giving him to Leah. IIRC (it’s been a few years), the author had many indications in the book that she didn’t like Rachel.

                    (Really, if Leah had had seven sons, do you think the poets throughout history would have shut up about it?)

                    1. At one point, I even re-checked to see if it wasn’t written by a man, after all, any woman would know how menstruation worked, right?

                      No. I got an amazing amount of really, really bad information from women based off of
                      1) their (sometimes highly unusual) cycle,
                      2) some of the strange “science” books they’d read
                      3) ….maybe taking jokes seriously? Or symbolism?

                      There’s nothing quite like having an actual argument about if all women get cramps or things even more detailed; choosing cramps because it’s the least icky and has a lot of mythology around it.
                      (Nope. My mom and I never know anything is going to happen until it has; my sister and aunt are dang-near bedridden, and they’re not wimps. Similar genetics, similar gestation and raising, similar activity level, similar diet for years…still opposite ends of the spectrum.)

                    2. I used to know — until I got on the cycle of early miscarriages — to the minute when my period would come because my cycle was 28 days and 12 hours. Exactly. So I’d pack for it when we went out to like the beach. Took me years to figure out not everyone was like that.

                    3. Heh. It’s always funny to watch the other guys cringing and making their excuses when a bunch of women start talking about such things. Being more clinically inclined, it doesn’t bother me.

                      Yeah, I’ve known women on both sides of the scale, including one poor young thing who literally was bed-ridden for about a half day at the beginning of most of her cycles.

                    4. But you were at least aware that every woman in the world was not having their periods at the exact same time that you did, right?

                    5. I have been informed that I must be having my cycle because someone else who lived in the same berthing was doing so.

                      The observed occasional tendency for women who live in close contact to synchronize their cycles has been extrapolated to “all women who live in the same area are going to cycle at the same time.” (used humorously in one of the Chicks’n’Chained Males books, and done well enough I could ignore that it Doesn’t Work That Way)

                    6. Why, when I hear about “every woman is going to cycle at the same time”, I think of many of the sexually active woman (pre-birth control) going into labor at the same time? [Evil Grin]

                    7. From personal observation, I’d always assumed that the “women tend to sync up” was based on memory bias, and the fact that random tends to be clumpy, rather than smooth.

                      Certainly, I never synced with either my mother, sister, or daughter more often than every six months, at the most.

                      I have heard first hand stories from other people, including someone who was talking about how all the women she worked with was having their own cycles, and one more woman joined the group, and suddenly everyone (including the woman who had gone through menopause and thought she was through with it) suddenly syncing with the new woman.

                      So, I’m willing to accept that it must happen sometimes.

                    8. With good nutrition, no stress interfering, hormones not confused in any way, and… probably some other stuff, maybe if they’re all single, too? And their cycles are already established? I’d believe it happens sometimes….

                    9. I believe the women syncing up thing is true on a percentage basis. Yes, they are more likely to have there period at or close to the same time, but not all of them will all of the time. By the way, this isn’t only true with women, it is well known phenomenon with dog breeders as well. Get a new female on the place, or race a litter of pups out of one, so they are totally out of sync, and if kept close with the other females they will have synced up within a year, until all the females are coming in heat within the same month nine times out of ten. And most female pups raised on the place will come in heat for the first time very close to the older females, and if not, they will have synced up by their second heat cycle.

                    10. Um… It might not be the best idea to be comparing women and dogs, especially on this subject…

                      (Backing away from bearcat and trying to watch all directions at once)

              2. Personally I find what Levi and his brother did entirely reasonable. If your sister is kidnapped and raped, and you don’t believe their reaction was reasonable; I might still associate with you, but I won’t trust you alone with any of my womenfolk.

                1. Killing the rapist, definitely; his father who was protecting him, sure; the rest of the family and all the neighbors… okay, that might have been a bit excessive.

                  1. Not by the standards of the time. By the standards of the time and the culture it was only good sense, otherwise they were facing a blood feud which could last generations.

                  2. It’s entirely reasonable, they not only didn’t do anything to stop Dinah from being raped, but by my reading of the story (and I really should go back and reread it) they were complicit in the kidnapping while knowing full well she was being raped.

                    I understand Jacob’s point, that this may bring the whole country down on us, and we can’t hold off the whole country, but I still find the killing of everyone complicit in your sisters rape entirely reasonable.

                    And remember they didn’t kill all the family or neighbors, just the adult males, those that were in a position to either prevent or stop such goings on, or on the other hand to follow in their leaders footsteps and do the same themselves to other Israelites sisters and daughters.

                    1. The approve/disapprove discussion has been going on for some 3,500 years, and shows no signs of being conclusively argued either way… 😉

                    2. Right. Well this family has three (ethnic, non observant) Jews and is proof that some things are genetic, not just cultural. Most common yell down the hall “Boys, you’re each arguing three sides of this dispute, and I’m trying to write. Can you put the argument on hold a little while?” (And yes, then they draw me in.)

    2. You may have heard that the key to the Holy Sepulchre is held by a Muslim family to prevent strife among the Christian sects. What you are less likely to hear is that there was no strife at the time when the state of Israel compelled them to do so — that is, strife was an excuse for petty spite.

  21. I personally like revenge stories, like Mel Gibson’s Payback or A.J. Quinnell’s Man on Fire (the movie version, though quite different, wasn’t bad either).

    1. “Payback” revenge?

      “Payback” revenge? Silly movie… Silly studios forcing the director to cut/edit the movie to make the main character likable. Watch the directors cut, if you can, Porter (Parker) is less sympathetic as it should be. In the books Porter is just getting what he thinks is his nothing more nothing less.

      If you haven’t, read the Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake) Parker Series of books; well worth the time.

      Hmmm… Man on Fire was a book? How did I miss that must look it up. Thanks.

      1. Actually, it was because of the movie that I discovered Stark and bought my first Parker book, Breakout. Parker in the series is significantly different to the character portrayed by Gibson. Still, I enjoyed the movie. Saw it a couple of times already. It’s not without its faults, but I can forgive things if I like an actor or if the movie overall is enjoyable. Besides, a solid action movie is pretty rare these days.

        As for Breakout, I liked the book. I love Stark’s voice.

      2. My dad introduced me A.J. Quinnell’s books. Here is a link to a free short story of so you can test his voice:

        Click to access Gladiator12.pdf

        Sadly, Mr Quinnell (Philip Nicholson) died of cancer in 2005. The Perfect Kill and In the Name of The Father are two very good books which I enjoyed.

        1. Thanks for the info.

          Downloaded Man on Fire Kindle. Took a leap of Faith.


    2. I don’t know about the book, but the movie for Man on Fire was a redemption story disguised as a revenge story. Throughout the story the main character is trying to find redemption for something he did (in the movie it is hinted at and never outright stated). SPOLIER. First he tries to kill himself and fails, then he decides to befriend the little girl and fails, then he takes it upon himself to rescue the girl and by sacrificing himself for the girl he finally redeems himself.

      (I’ve had this argument before about Man on Fire 😉

      1. The ending of that movie irritated the hell out of me. Mom drives safely away with the daughter, and…nothing. The bad ass that’s been counting coup for the last 30 minutes or so gives up to people that he knows (or should know) are going to torture him to death in ways that might make the Spanish Inquisition squeamish. At a minimum he should have pulled a grenade when he got to the bad guys – as was said above, if you’re handed a shovel to dig your own grave, try to brain the bastard that’s going to shoot you anyway.

          1. I haven’t seen Man on Fire, but the ending of The Professional made that movie. Without that ending it would have been a mediocre movie, but the ending vastly improved it.

            1. The book is far more brutal with what happens. The sequel to it, The Perfect Kill, kicks the revenge setting even higher, and The Blue Ring and Black Horn were just as good, if not better, and sadly he passed away before writing more Creasy. There’s a related novel Message from Hell but is sort of separate from the rest.

              He has a couple of stand alone books, The Madhi and In the Name of the Father – and of the two, I liked the latter better, though Madhi made me chuckle at the end.

        1. I think you might have missed a subtlety (been a while since I saw it, I could be wrong). The impression I had was he died from his wounds in the back of the car as they drove away. He traded himself for the girl knowing the bad guys were going to get — a corpse.

          1. That is correct. They shot two endings. In the one he dies in the car and in the other, he had explosives up his bum (the same way he did that fat cop). They never show the explosion, if I remember correctly, but you know it’ll happen. I think the movie ends just as he is about to explode.

      2. Oh, I don’t think there is an argument here. We each interpret things our own way.

        For instance, Creasy kept the bullet he wanted to shoot himself with. He never actually pulls the trigger, though he came really close, if I remember correctly. Coupled that with his alcoholism and despair because of the past thing, he was at a pretty low place in his life. The girl changed all that. They became friends and through that she gave him back his humanity. And then they took her from him and left him for dead. He made them pay dearly for doing that. The way in which it ended, there one can consider redemption as a factor. But it only came in near the end when he had captured the main bad guy’s brother. Life for a life.

        Did you know there were an alternate ending as well?

        1. I saw the ending as a pragmatic way NOT to continue the series, because perhaps The Perfect Kill would have been too stomachturning for people to handle in terms of concepts (never mind The Blue Ring and Black Horn; but then they probably wouldn’t be able to handle Lorenzo Carcaterra’s Apaches by any stroke of imagination because of the sheer evil that the villains are capable of.)

          Yet the interesting thing about these books – especially in Apaches is that the characters are… human here, capable of great good, great evil, the good guys are Handicapped Badasses all the way, and oh dear gods the sheer evil of the villainess cannot be understated. ALL of the books I’ve mentioned is Very Harmful To Minors in-story, but at no point do the books pretend that adults who are hurt are expected to curl up into balls and ascend to Saint Victimhood, or are ‘worse off’ than the children harmed in the story… In fact, with Apaches it’s kinda illustrated how the adults have explicitly every choice open to them in ways children don’t – and how they deal with things is exactly what makes the heroes and the villains.

          Hmm, on that note I probably should pick up more Carcaterra and Robert K. Tanenbaum. I’ve fallen behind on their work and they’re consistently fun reads for me… Probably after I’ve finished nibbling through Nemesis and Skin Game.

          (Nibbling, because that way I enjoy the book longer as opposed to blowing through it in two hours in a haze of awesome!)

          1. I don’t know Tanenbaum and I had no idea Carcaterra wrote Sleepers. I’m seriously curious now. I agree with you on The Perfect Kill or even The Blue Ring. They will probably have to change it as dramatically as they did Man on Fire to film it.

            I like it when characters are human, when the evil portrayed isn’t made pretty or stylish, but kept brutal as it is in real life. It makes the revenge/payback/justice part all the more sweeter.

            1. Tanenbaum’s books cross over with legal thriller / crime investigation; though lately terrorism also seems to feature in. He’s one of the regulars we’d go after in the author list along with Carcaterra, Quinnell, Clancy, and Ludlum. Haven’t gotten into Ludlum though…

              People seem to have mixed opinions about Apaches; a number of people seem to think the evil described in the book is ‘overdone’ and ‘unrealistic’. I liked it and it gave me nightmares (I picked it up when I was a brand new mother… Talk about it hitting home hard.) The reactions on the amazon reviews make me laugh though. Reality is far worse. I mean, Gunslinger Girl is gut-wrenchingly brutal in its premise, but the crimes that lead to the girls to the Social Welfare Agency…? Not so much fantasy there, I think.

              The thing that amused me in later years was the fact that in this story, the Left are portrayed as the ones willing to use horribly traumatized little girls as experimental combat cyborgs, with the Right being idealistic terrorists looking for separation (the story is set in Italy in an indefinite 20 minutes to the future type setting, so the political premises may be different… not so sure really.)

              1. Hmm, I loved Ludlum, but can’t read Clancy. I have often said that Clancy writes books that make really good movies. That is because to make a movie they cut out all the unnecessary filler detail that ruins his books.

                1. Oh, no argument there; though I think the later books, featuring Jack Ryan Jr. were much easier reads than his older works – primarily because he focuses quite a bit more on characterization and action. Either starting with The Teeth of the Tiger or Rainbow Six – the latter of which, incidentally, was my gateway book to Clancy.

                  In fact, I blew through those as quickly as I did MHI, since I found them quite the page turners. I was in Melbourne for the holidays at the parents in law with a brand new copy of Threat Vector and ensconced myself in a nice chair near a fire one afternoon. Father in law wandered in and out of the room on various occasions, and noticed that I was about to finish the book. He asked me if I’d only started the book after lunch, and pointed out I’d soon have nothing to read.

                  Me: “Aww, I wanted to make this one last.

                  But yeah, it’s hard to go back to the older Clancy books because he’s a bit more focused on the political tales (which kind of makes sense for the first Ryan, and I laughed a lot about Ryan being rather annoyed at the curtailing of his movements and hating his job, but darn it ‘I gotta do this being a President thing because the alternative is a rapist glory hound who’ll wreck the nation!’) but his later ones do read much, much easier.

                  1. Haven’t tried any of his newer stuff and it has been fifteen or twenty years since I read anything of his, so it’s possible my tastes have changed. I’ll note he has good plots, I have liked every movie I have seen based on one of his books, but I struggled through The Hunt For Red October and couple more of his books, and have to say he is about the only author I have ever read where I think the movies are better than the books. The last one of his I read was A Clear and Present Danger, great premise, but when he spent three chapters explaining some Japanese coming to the coast of Oregon and picking out a specific old growth to be cut a certain way and loaded on a ship to be sent to Japan so that all of the timbers in a temple could be made out of the same tree. And then had the logs come loose on the ships deck in a storm, all to explain why there was a log floating in the water for a submarine to hit. Yeah, that made think he must be getting paid by the word.

                    1. The older books are almost jarring to read when someone’s started out with the newer stuff. (Oh, and the typos….!) I think you’re right that back in the old days he was definitely being paid by the word, but on the other hand the technical details of the works were a big draw for some people (my dad liked his work because of the researched details as well as the story). I think you should give the newer ones a go; they’ll surely be in the library. Myself, I rather regret that he died because now the character development he’d been doing with Jack Jr. will not continue…

              2. Gunslinger Girl is not quite so clean cut politically.

                There is one bit in one version that identifies the antagonists as right wing money funding left wing terrorists.

                Yeah, by inference, the politicians behind the Social Welfare Agency are leftists.

                There was a bit talking about certain members of the Social Welfare Agency, and how they were misfits who couldn’t find other work. Some of them were explicitly identified as right wingers or supposed right wingers who the establishment oppressed for that reason.

                I take it as some combination of the creator being a bit of a political idiot, and having to make compromises for the sake of the Japanese market.

                1. Yeah, it struck me as rather confusing on the politics. The military bent was very much not a Left thing… I did notice that the fan translations tended to call the opposing force Padania, or ‘Blues’ and the ‘in-story left’ identified with the ‘red’ color. You’re right though that it probably was greatly altered politically to make it understandable for the Japanese audience; or changes were made in the official translations versus the fan-made ones (for example: Jean forgets Rico in the end but this is clearer in the fan translations I read, not so much in the official, so I’m not sure if he does forget who she is at the end of the story.)

                  1. Idiocy: a) Mixing left and right in a political organization, especially a violent one, makes a leftist organization, because Leninist organizational weapon and crap/Ice cream. b) The opposing forces are clearly operating on the leftist theory of how to be successful in terrorism.

                    Of course, if I assume this as basic knowledge, the SWA doesn’t do much that a good secret police couldn’t have done better. I think the writer just wanted to do a story with magic girls with guns.

                    Market: I get the impression that Japanese political demographics are such that a hardcore discussion of the stupidities and evils of leftist revolutionaries and terrorists would turn off many potential customers. I think Japanese media creators often deliberately confuse the issue to avoid this. One case being Full Metal Panic. The early world building had me enjoying it as one of the proxy wars of the Cold War. If what I’ve heard of Sigma is anything to go by, the actual ending dumps that, sweeping all that potential under the carpet and having an apolitical ending.

                    (One of the books has students in a airplane being kidnapped by the opposing forces to North Korea. The author makes a fairly transparent claim in the afterward that there was no particular reason for this.)

                    Jean forgetting Rico? He has a picture of her on his desk, IIRC.

                    1. Ya know what, it’s been a while since I’ve read the series. I should probably do that again, since we have the omnibus sets on the shelf now.

                      …sweeping all that potential under the carpet and having an apolitical ending.

                      It’s not uncommon though for Japanese authors to try jerk a story into neutral after a bit, which isn’t a surprise since Yukio Mishima. (Probably because of him…? I could be wrong, but now that you mention it…)

    3. A.J. Quinnell’s books were part of my reading list when I was a teen. I made a point of getting extra copies of the books in the Creasy series, since they’re out of print and he’s dead. My father was quite amused at how often San Miguel Beer got mentioned.

      And The Perfect Kill was even more fun to read. We liked Creasy a LOT.

      On a similar vein to his stories, my parents found this book, and I enjoyed it as much as Quinnell’s.

      1. My dad died well over a decade ago, but I owe a lot of my reading habits as a child to him. My dad loved Creasy’s no nonsense attitude and his deadly silence, and I liked it, too. No fancy action. Just a straight forward death-dealing to those that deserved it.

        Also, that both the author and his protagonist lived on an island amplified my interest in the author and his books. Unfortunately I’ve had no luck getting any copies. I’ve lost mine a long time ago. I only have a copy of The Mahdi and In the Name of the Father. I know they reissued most of his bibliography as ebooks on Amazon, but for some authors, in my opinion, you need their books in print.

        Thanks for the suggestion. Was it first printed in 1990 and then reissued as an ebook in 2012? I love the premise, btw.

        1. I loved the premise of Temple Dogs too; I mourned the copy I had being wrecked by flood damage (As you said, some books really need to be in paper print) but I found another copy somewhere in a secondhand bookshop (I tell you, those things are treasure hoards…)

          Quinnell’s books are insanely hard to find in print, even on ebay. There are some sellers selling them for 7 AUD with 6$ shipping from the UK, but the Creasy books are often in the realm of $30 each or higher. Yeah, we’re not the only folks looking for the man’s books. It absolutely blows that they refuse to reprint them. But still, worth a look around and a hunt to see if you get lucky.

              1. The one I have is from Orion and the other from Futura Publications, Australia which is a Division of McDonalds & Co.

                I took a chance on I might have found a copy of Snap Shot. Hot damn! I’ll let you know.

    4. There were two movie versions of Man On Fire, the recent one with Denzel Washington is good, but I actually liked the older one with Scott Glenn from 1987 is my preferred.

  22. Isn’t “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.” properly translated as “Grow a pair, and get your butt off this rock!”?

    1. “The meek shall inherit the earth; the bold are going to the stars.” 😉

      1. From Steve Savitzky’s Inherit the Earth:

        The stars now are calling to mankind
        To abandon the world of their birth.
        The bold ones will answer them gladly,
        And the meek will inherit the Earth.

        I think I’ll email him and see whether he remembers the source of this quip.

        1. Steve said he remembered a version of that line from L5 Society literature.

          Further research turns up mention of an L5 Society poster, c. 1976:

          The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth—
          The Wise and Strong Keep Moving.

          Also from the Society’s L5 News #12 (August 1976)

          The Space Migrant’s reply to the socialists’ complaint is, of course, “let the meek inherit the earth; we have farther-out plans.”

          The idea may be older yet, but that’s as far back as I’ve found so far.

  23. What have you done lately to deserve “Happiness”… Success”… “Winning”?

  24. Reblogged this on The Worlds of Tarien Cole and commented:
    There is a definite truth in this. Too often the protagonist (especially if of the distaff variety) is, in TVTropes terms, a “Woobie.” Not a “Hero.” Making your protagonist the curbstomp victim of fate may make for sympathy. But it does not equate to heroism unless they can believably overcome the worst the world throws at them. See Harry Dresden for the rare example where one is both a Woobie and Hero. That said, Harry has never, ever, to the best that I can recall, considered himself a ‘victim.’ At least not without getting a righteous measure of payback in the end.

    1. Harry is not in any way a Victim, which is what makes him awesome. Michael, even now, is not either. None of them are, which rocks as well. This isn’t to say they don’t bend or break, but they get the hell up and refuse to stay down, scars or no scars, bleeding wounds or not.

      But then again, it makes sense to be a Badass in a World of Badass or end up being food.

      1. And that’s what makes it an awesome series. Sure, they don’t like the fact they’ve been curbstomped more than once. And yet, they refuse to simply ‘take it.’

        We should never blame the victim. I also don’t believe a victim is a hero simply for being victimized.

        1. Yeah, ‘victim’ and ‘hero’ are not by default interchangeable or synonymous with each other. I think the Saint Victim worshippers need a crash course in English as a Foreign Language certification. Or be hit by an Oxford dictionary…

  25. I’ve seen a number of stories that go severely bullied kid, sudden super powers, awesome badass.

    Choices are habit forming. Make the choice for years to be prey, to be a bread shuttle, and having magic somehow change that all of a sudden is unrealistic.

    Furthermore, if one is successfully targeted due to weaknesses in character, a sudden power up does not necessarily grant the strength of character to exercise restraint or avoid being a target in the future.

    A story doesn’t have to be realistic to be enjoyable. Knowing where one is taking liberties is idea fodder.

    I also must repeat something I’ve said before. I prefer to own some of my problems as being something I’ve caused.

      1. Yeah.

        I think I tend to prefer ‘wimp gets martial arts and becomes chivalrous’ to ‘loser gets magic, snaps, and goes on a killing spree’. One might say Naruto over Elfenlied.

    1. Heh… Spider Man.

      Peter Parker gets super powers and doesn’t change at all. He’s like… not my business dude! He only decides he has to fight crime when his uncle is killed by someone he personally could have stopped but didn’t because it wasn’t his job. Until that point he was using his super powers to make money and make his life easier.

      1. Notice that he was given a foundational upbringing, and didn’t act on it. Then character development, and choosing to do things.

        Use the gap between what one likes in a protagonist and where they start as part of the story.

        Challenging self improvement can be both realistic, and add depth.

        1. Use the gap between what one likes in a protagonist and where they start as part of the story.

          And this brings up my absolute favorite heel-face turn: Prince Zuko in Avatar, the Last Airbender. He is raised in a thoroughly septic environment, basically a situation where no one can really expect to turn out “well”. His abusive father sends him off on a fool’s quest, but he makes one mistake. He send Uncle Iro with him. Iro spends much of the time undoing the mess the boy’s father had made of Zuko and finding the decent person within.

          Wonderful arc and the difficulties, the backsliding, and the eventual redemption were so beautifully and powerfully done.

    2. the Cracked site today has an interesting list of “bad habits you get into being poor.”

    3. What the heck was the name of that recent ‘super’ story (told as ‘found footage’) where three friends find something mysterious in a cave and after that find out they are gaining superpowers, but the woobie one starts to turn into a supervillain when he realizes he is superpowered now and can finally bully everybody who ever bullied him + pretty much everybody else too? While the two guys who were more successful in their lives – I think they were something like popular jocks – stay moral. It was a bit depressing, and the story was told in a boring way, but I liked that part since it seemed pretty believable.

      1. And the victim aka burgeoning supervillain was kept rather obnoxious, at least to my eyes, although the two good guys seemed to feel sorry for him and keep liking him way past the point when they should have just lost their patience – one of the parts I didn’t like about the movie, I got the urge to use a clue-by-four on those characters.

        1. Yeah, that one. I wanted to strangle the good guy characters, or whack them with a Cluestrike… but yeah, the villain broke in a very realistic way, to me. His father though… made no sense whatsoever. Well, made sense if I looked at him as a typical ‘never my fault, everyone else’s fault’ mold. Ugh.

    4. Captain America seems to be a counter-factual to this trope; at least, the movie version. Sure, he was a weakling asthmatic who was bullied…but part of the reason he was sometimes bullied was because he tried to stand up to bullies, and did the best he could against them, because it was the right thing to do.

      Of course, that was a major point about the super-human experiments: the doctor who made him a super-hero had also created the Red Skull, who became who he was because of his bad character traits.

      1. Steve Rodgers was never a victim. Physically shortchanged by nature, yes, but victim? No way. In the comics one of the reasons he was picked for the Super Soldier project was that he kept trying to get into the army. Get rejected, find a new recruiting center, try again with a different fake name. He was driven to fight the good fight long before he was ever given the Super Soldier Formula.

        1. The comics’ Steve Rogers was a man who refused to abide by his limitations. If you tried to tell him he was a victim his response would be to say it had just been a bad break or two, that there were real victims who needed his help.

          The Red Skull’s receipt of the Super-Soldier serum was a cinema-only invention, although the later comic book presentations might have tried to back form it into the continuity.

          1. My uncle’s old comic collection had a 50s or 60s comic (probably a re-issue?) that explained that a bunch of other folks had been given the serum, but the only one it was successful on was the Cap.

        2. It’s all in the attitude. My 15lb poodle mix thinks he’s a dire wolf (when he doesn’t think he’s a people. He’s been known to complain about kibble.)

      1. After reading the ‘choice comment’ I realized I had no need of blood pressure meds, and so didn’t bother following the link.

  26. Sure, everybody loves a victim! That’s what made Harry potter so popular, staying in the cupboard under the stairs and feeling sorry for himself.

    It is also why so many more fans of Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire root for Sansa, and can’t stand Arya.

    In Lord of the Rings don’t most people think Frodo should have just tossed the ring into the pits in Moria and headed back to the Shire?

    Don’t even get me started on that pampered, privileged priss of a Princess and her exploitation of the workers (in the person of Curdy.)

    1. Oh, yeah — Perelandra is pretty good until Ransom thinks he can grow a pair and screws things up by inflicting his morality on this untainted planet.

      Asimov showed, in his Foundation series how “just waiting for events to work out” can be an effective strategy and Niven’s Ringworld proved that all you need is a little bit of luck.

      Arguing that you can and should act in your own interests just facilitates the philosophies that make Rape Culture possible.

      1. Perelandra is pretty good until Ransom thinks he can grow a pair and screws things up by inflicting his morality on this untainted planet.

        YEAH! Violence never solves anything! He should have kept talking! Eventually it would have worked! He just didn’t try hard enough to understand the other guy’s motivations!

        (Choke, choke – I think I just hurt myself)

        1. Comics have been ruined! Superman has renounced his American citizenship, and he doesn’t kill the villains.

          1. Nit. Superman doesn’t deliberately kill has long been a part of his mythos.

  27. It strikes me that a semi-comfortable indolence is an easy way to get absolutely nothing useful done with one’s life. If you truly want to go do something great, one should put forth the effort to go do it, and see it rise or fall on its own merits, rather than sitting around saying “If I only had the time/skill/knowledge/whatever, it would have been awesome.”

    The only thing that makes us anything worth remembering is what we do ourselves, not what anyone does to us or for us.

  28. So I spent my evening playing in a concert, patriotic, of course, because this is small town America and we do Independence Day in a big way. (This concert is always on the second because the third and the fourth are already over-booked.)
    There was some history in the narration and it occurred to me that the American favor for the underdog is probably baked in the bone. No one else really thought we’d win the Revolution when we started it, after all. So the saintly victim is a perversion of the patriot.

    1. July 02, 1776 is the day the Declaration actually was approved in the Continental Congress, so you got the right day for your concert and the July 3rd & 4th concerts are for losers.

          1. sarcastic.

            I was just reading a list that agrees with me that “Born in the USA” tops the list of songs people think are patriotic when they only hear the chorus.

              1. Considering Springsteen’s singing ability, the chorus is just about all you can understand, and then, only through the repetition.

  29. “Terry Pratchett is the only writer I know to say so [being a victim doesn’t make you good] explicitly.” Can’t get much more explicit than H. Beam Piper’s ‘A Slave Is a Slave.’

  30. “The poor man has one plea, his want and his standing in need: do not require anything else from him; but even if he is the most wicked of all men and is at a loss for his necessary sustenance, let us free him from hunger.”

    -St. John Chrysostom

  31. “About 90% of the time, the people who are starving/lost/can’t rise in life/have no job/whatever are in that spot for a reason.”

    Studies have shown that the ability to defer gratification is important to financial success. There’s a reason why Rent-A-Center and the like are typically found in poorer areas.

    1. I’ve noticed that the guy’s at work who make a habit of bowering a couple of buck’s for lunch also tended to be the one’s with the nicest clothes/car/personal ectronics ect ect

  32. “I’m one of the undeserving poor, that’s what I am. Now think what
    that means to a man. It means that he’s up against middle-class morality for all of time. If there’s anything going, and I puts in for a bit of it,
    it’s always the same story: “you’re undeserving, so you can’t have it.” But my needs is as great as the most deserving widows that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same ‘usband. I don’t need less than a deserving man, I need more! I don’t eat less ‘earty than ‘e does, and I drink, oh, a lot more. I ‘m playin’ straight with you. I ain’t pretendin’ to be deserving. No, I’m undeserving. And I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it and that’s the truth.”

    Alfred P Dolittle – My Fair Lady

    1. To paraphrase Garak:
      I tell you over and over not to trust me, I am not trustworthy, and it makes you trust me all the more…..

    1. It’s the risk you take, shooting at folks these days. Some of ’em know what they’re doing, and they shoot back.

      Hope he enjoys the time in the hospital.

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