[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Which meant that I owed her an apology for thinking she would never say that, and I did tweet back an apology while accepting hers. I guess you get so used to dealing with unreachable partisans you forget that there are people who can be persuaded. Which is doubly stupid on my part because, well, haven’t I been telling people never to give up on convincing at least some of the people?
Joking aside that makes some of what I say below inappropriately harsh. But I generally don’t “memory hole” my mistakes, big or small, so it will stay as is.
Anyway, here’s the original post…
Sometimes interesting topics seem come in on a common theme. Today’s theme is, well… stupidity.
For starters, we come to Newt Gingrich. As some of you know, Gingrich had an interview on Meet the Press last weekend that most people consider to have been a complete disaster for the Republicans and the ex-Speaker’s candidacy. If you didn’t know this, Greta Van Susteren actually sums up the controversy and how it might have struck a mortal blow to Gingrich’s fledgling presidential run quite well, in the video at this link. (Indeed this might be why he was heckled hilariously in Iowa.) And in the process of trying to walk his comments back on Greta’s show, he actually says this whopper:
Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate[.]
Update: And here’s video of Gingrich’s idiotic comment:
That is right, he is trying to say it is unfair of people to take a recording from that day and play it, because you see he didn’t really mean it. Of course Joe Biden was quoted as saying, “you can do that?”
Seriously imagine what a great rule that would be for politicians. Obama can pretend he never said he wanted to redistribute wealth to Joe the Plumber; or that he visited 57 states; or that he doesn’t mind high gas prices as long as the rise is gradual; or that he is not allowed to use military force unless 1) we are attacked, or congress authorizes it (by the way, we are past the 60 day mark and no one seems to care). Kerry could pretend he never said that bit about voting for it before he voted against it, or about needing to pass the “global test” before going to war. Indeed, come to think of it, I think the majority of the people in the remaining items will change their minds eventually and want to pretend they never said what I am about to make fun of them for saying…
First among them are the clueless defenders of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (who is a man) as he faces charges that he attempted to rape a maid in a NYC Hotel.
Like let’s take Ben Stein. Ben, Ben, Ben… what is wrong with you? I mean you were once a man of such formidable intelligence that they had a whole game show built around beating you in a contest of knowledge. And now you write this?
In life, events tend to follow patterns. People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes? Can anyone tell me of any heads of nonprofit international economic entities who have ever been charged and convicted of violent sexual crimes? Is it likely that just by chance this hotel maid found the only one in this category? Maybe Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty but if so, he is one of a kind, and criminals are not usually one of a kind.
That is from a piece in the American Spectator that includes some decent points, and some really lame ones, but that is the lamest. Yeah, who ever heard of a rich and politically powerful man using his position to sexually exploit women…?
And yes, it’s a similar situation in my mind, because of the Juanita Broderick incident. And while there is no hint of violence, there is certainly illegality in what this man did…
…and many would consider it exploitive, too. (By the way, when talking about the recent Schwarzenegger scandal, Cnn did a retrospective of politician sex scandals which coincidentally left out that Cnn host.) Seriously, abusing the “help” is just what some rich and powerful men do.
Which is not to say I am assuming the guy is guilty, merely that it would violate none of my expectations in regards to human behavior if he was guilty of everything he was charged with.
Meanwhile it turns out that 60% of Frenchmen (and Frenchwomen) are convinced this is all a setup. Oy.
I guess they are waiting for the long-form rape certificate.
Meanwhile at the CDC blog, they are teaching you how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse. Yes, really.
Look I take it as a joke, but this is a government employee drawing a government salary at a time when we are over our debt ceiling. Can you guys at least fake efficiency by not goofing around on the job?
Meanwhile in news regarding economic stupidity, we learn that it is time to stock up on lightbulbs:
Two leading makers of lighting products are showcasing LED bulbs that are bright enough to replace energy-guzzling 100-watt light bulbs set to disappear from stores in January….
The new bulbs will also be expensive — about $50 each — so the development may not prevent consumers from hoarding traditional bulbs….
To encourage energy efficiency, Congress passed a law in 2007 mandating that bulbs producing 100 watts worth of light meet certain efficiency goals, starting in 2012. Conventional light bulbs don’t meet those goals, so the law will prohibit making or importing them. The same rule will start apply to remaining bulbs 40 watts and above in 2014. Since January, California has already banned stores from restocking 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
Ah, so Patrick… sorry to tell you, dude, but you might be screwed. So this is the brilliant plan of Congress (and the stupidity here is “bi-partisan” enough to have passed under George W. Bush): raise the cost of basic goods to obscene levels in the middle of a recession. Oy.
How about a musical interlude to introduce the next segment. Here’s The Beatles singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
Consider the relative innocence of that time. As John Mellancamp said in a fit of nostalgia once said: “holding hands meant so much baby.” Of course there was more sex back then than acknowledged publicly. For instance, the original version of “Under the Boardwalk” said they would be making love rather than “having fun” but given the fact that this song was sung by black men, that lyric was scrubbed as a bow to the racism of the day. But these days many parents would be very happy if their children only wanted to hold hands.
Ah, well, except in one Florida school:
Walking the hallways of many high schools across South Florida and it’s common to see high school kids holding hands whether it’s girls who are friends, or a couple who’s dating.
But at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, it’s against the rules. Two girls who are dating found out when they said the principal threatened to suspend them.
The girls allege anti-gay discrimination and the school claims that this is a blanket policy. Either way the school needs to lighten up. But then the real problem might be the fear of sexual harassment suits in schools, making lawyers the ultimate pinheads in this.
Elsewhere in Florida, a Catholic church is getting ready to pray for the soul of Osama bin Laden:
This calls for another musical interlude, this time from the Rolling Stones:
I think the only thing I like about that idea is that if bin Laden knew of it, he would probably be offended. Of course where he is right now, being offended is probably the least of his problems…
See the Big Update at the beginning of the post.
But for the most spectacular fail we get Angry Black Lady of Balloon Juice who, to her credit, did find the “dumb creature” language I quoted above, but then after accusing the Florida legislature of bad taxonomy, she ends with the bad biology of eugenics.
If the Teabillies won’t get out of the gene pool, then we should forcibly remove them under penalty of law.
You know, because genocide* is funny!
Am I violating Godwin’s Law if the person is actually making final solution jokes? I don’t think so.
Well, I don’t like relaying what happened on Twitter too often, but this was too much fun to pass up. Last night I tweeted a crack about her genocidal humor as follows:
Which prompted numerous, um… what’s the word I am looking for? Oh, right… angry responses. From ABL herself:
yeah right, because I was serious about forcibly removing Teabillies from the gene pool. Wow. SO DUMB.
That’s right, she apparently missed the word “jokes” in my tweet and therefore believed that I thought she was serious, and then calls me dumb. Another twitterer wrote:
Patterico conveniently left out the first half of the paragraph he quoted.
Right, well, leaving aside that I said it, not Patrick (because that is a human mistake), well… let’s look at the whole paragraph from ABL’s post:
Moreover, I think we can all agree that Teabillies are the dumbest of “dumb creatures,” and I, for one, support all laws that prohibit sexual contact between humans and Teabillies. If the Teabillies won’t get out of the gene pool, then we should forcibly remove them under penalty of law.
So the first sentence–which I didn’t include and allegedly makes it all better–has ABL calling “Teabillies” dumb, and suggesting that they are not even human. Yeah, that makes it all much better.
(Recently Tony Katz proposed that we call people who claim everything is racist “racers”—an obvious riff on Birthers, Truthers, etc. Let me propose my own new term “contexters.” These are people who speciously claim that every bad thing said is suddenly not so horrible if you only put it “in context.”)
And then after all that, ABL pretty much repeats the sentiment:
Nowhere did I make a joke about genocide, irrespective of whether my joke appealed to you. My mother is Jewish, you twitiot.
And yes, I do believe that Teabillies are stupid, aka “dumb creatures.” Perhaps you are unclear about what genocide is.
point me to where I suggested that Teabillies be systematically killed. I’ll wait.
So first she claims that because she is partly Jewish she couldn’t possibly say something like that. Heh. And then she suggests I don’t know what genocide means. But the hilarious part is that in truth, she got the definition of genocide wrong, by suggesting it is limited to mass murder. It is not. It is simply any attempt to wipe out a group defined by (real or perceived) genetic traits. Here’s how it is defined, for instance, in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
In other words, mass forced sterilization of an ethnic group counts, as would mass forced abortions, etc. And the extra funny thing about that, is that ABL actually knew that. In this post discussing posters that said things like “the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb” and she herself described those posters as “the black genocide posters.” In other words, she recognized that mass abortion based on color was genocide… but somehow mass forced sterilization is not?
So after making the simple point that she was the one “unclear about what genocide is” and by the actual definition she did joke about genocide, she tries this as a comeback:
nice try. You used the term “final solution,” so don’t scramble to redefine what you wrote.
Except as I pointed out to her, in the Ukraine, Hitler’s plans didn’t involve slaughter but rather mass sterilization. Isn’t that a “final solution” to the Ukranian problem? Oddly, she never replied.
And to philosophize for a moment, really for Hitler the murder was all just a means to an end—the improvement and increase of the German stock, and the elimination of all inferiors (which is everyone but the Germans, including the Japanese and probably the Italians). That is why he killed the handicapped, for instance. Abortion was legal for Jews but not for Germans, and even the ban on homosexuality was based on the concern that those gay Germans needed to contribute to the volk’s gene pool. Hitler believed that history was the story of racial struggle and he intended for the German “race” to win. Of course to us the killing was the worst part of it, but for Hitler it was simply a means to the end of stopping the spread of supposedly bad genes.
But still let there be no confusion on that point. Angry Black Lady didn’t clearly call for the killing of anyone and if somehow you got that impression that she did because of something I wrote, that would be a mistake. So the most charitable interpretation of her remarks was that she was joking about a mass sterilization program. Which means that she does not echo Hitler’s call to “kill all cripples”; she merely jokes about applying the policy enunciated by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that “[t]hree generations of imbeciles are enough.”
Oh, except that she is not even clearly willing to wait two generations before acting, at least in her joking imagination.
There isn’t that much better?
And no, her skin color and her partly Jewish heritage should not prevent us from noticing she was joking about genocide. And it’s not the worst crime anyone could commit to crack a joke like that. But, ABL, don’t act you didn’t say it.
And there is nothing necessarily wrong or bad about a person not knowing the fulsome definition of genocide or that bit of World War II history. But maybe it would teach her to be a little more reticent before calling another person dumb or a Teabilly. And maybe the fact that despite belonging to two demographics historically subjected to genocidal violence and mistreatment she realized through our exchange that she herself was cracking genocide jokes and maybe that would lead her to re-examine some of her own assumptions about claims of group immunity and perhaps she would even examine her own biases. I mean this might lead her to really grow as a person and become a more thoughtful, less hateful, dare I say… a less angry black lady?
Okay, it’s not frickin’ likely, but one can always hope…
Finally, I will get a little less mocking and a little more serious with this article:
Germans delve into sins of Nazi grandparents
Piercing family secrets helps third generation lift burden of guilt over regime’s atrocities
Rainer Hoess was 12 years old when he found out his grandfather was one of the worst mass murderers in history.
His boarding school’s gardener, an Auschwitz survivor, beat him black and blue after hearing he was the grandson of Rudolf Hoess, commandant of the death camp synonymous with the Holocaust.
“He beat me, because he projected on me all the horror he went through,” Rainer Hoess said, with a shrug and a helpless smile. “Once a Hoess, always a Hoess. Whether you’re the grandfather or the grandson — guilty is guilty.”…
Some, like Hoess, have launched an obsessive solitary search. Others seek help from seminars and workshops that have sprung up across Germany to provide research guidance and psychological support….
“When I investigate and read about my grandfather’s crimes, it tears me apart every single time,” Hoess said during a recent interview at his home in a little Black Forest village.
As a young man, he said, he tried twice to kill himself. He has suffered three heart attacks in recent years as well as asthma, which he says gets worse when he digs into his family’s Nazi past.
Today, Hoess says, he no longer feels guilty, but the burden of the past weighs on him at all times….
Hoess is no longer in contact with his father, brother, aunts and cousins, who all call him a traitor. Strangers often look at him with distrust when he tells them about his grandfather — “as if I could have inherited his evil.”
Now, there is stupidity there, but it is very deeply human stupidity. I don’t say it out of anger, or mockery but instead sadness. I honestly wish I could find these people and straighten them out (as though they would listen to me anyway).
Both Hoess and the unidentified gardener who attacked him are getting something fundamentally wrong here. There is curious phrase in our Constitution. In the middle of the Treason clause, discussing what many consider the worst crime one can commit, the Constitution says “but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood[.]” That term “corruption of blood” refers to a legal principle that held there the family of traitors responsible for their relative’s treason. And by those words that doctrine was repudiated in our constitution. It is a talisman of a broader principle that it is wrong to hold a person responsible for the crimes of another. There are some exceptions reasonable people make—for instance if a family member is dangerous, and you know it and don’t inform anyone, some jurisdictions might hold you civilly or even criminally responsible for that failure. But the mere fact that your father or grandfather committed a crime bears no taint on you.
Indeed, much of the hatred directed at Jews is based on a failure to apply that principle. To some anti-Semites, Jews are Christ-killers because Christians believe that long ago some people who were Jewish had Jesus killed. Never mind that the same logic would lead one to hate modern Italians given that the Romans actually did the deed, because bluntly, logic is not the average anti-Semite’s strong suit. Still, to pretend that the grandchildren of those who participated in the Holocaust are somehow stained engages in exactly the wrongheaded kind of thinking that contributed significantly to popular support for the Holocaust.
So that gardener was wrong to attack the young Hoess. It was stupid, even. And bluntly the gardener should have gone to prison for what he did (if it was true). I mean I am not saying that the gardener’s life experience isn’t a serious mitigating factor to consider in sentencing, but it was a crime. And while some of what Hoess says suggests that he gets that he doesn’t inherit his grandfather’s evil, obviously he very humanly (but yes, very stupidly) takes his grandfather’s crimes personally. And he shouldn’t.
But then again, I always tell people about how my grandfather worked on the aircraft of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart (not the one she disappeared in, of course), and helped on a very low level in the Manhattan project (he was so low on the ladder he had no idea what he was helping to build). It is human and yes, even a little stupid, to take pride in the achievements of your ancestors, or to feel guilt for the things they did wrong.
[Update: Dang it, I accidentally said father, when I meant grandfather in the story in the last paragraph. Sorry, fixed.]
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]