The Sound of Silence
“I also feel very sorry for people who have to toss salads in prison.” –A blogger (whose hilarious site also contains some very bad misinformation about anal sex from, sadly, a medical student.)
In these times of global distress (though, really, when hasn’t there been global distress?) it’s comforting to note those stories of genuine heroic behaviour. The Scotsman has this list of recent recipients of the Scottish police’s meritorious award. The lead example is of a teenager who saved his neighbour by bonking an attacker on the head with a frying pan. Unbelievably, the teen’s mother was not singled out for a medal, as well, even though it was her idea… and even though she provided the frying pan.
Okay, so there’s chaos in the suburbs of Paris. This is a complicated issue that I want to give serious time to in the future, so I won’t get into it too much today. It’s just interesting to point out that all the right-wing boards, blogs and news sites are complaining that the rioters have been insufficiently labelled as “Muslim”, while all the left-wing boards, blogs and news sites have been complaining that they have been inappropriately labelled as such. What’s the correct perspective? Maybe we should worry less about who they are and more about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, how to stop them doing it, and how to prevent them from wanting to do it in the future.
Meanwhile, the right continues to obsess over the 2004 murder of Theo Van Gogh. Yes, it was a tragic, hateful thing, and the murderer deserves some serious justice. But get this quote from conservative journalist/blogger Andrew Sullivan, who is actually one of the more reasoned “conservative” voices:
“The silence on much of the left about van Gogh is as telling as the silence on the right about torture.”
Now, while I appreciate Sullivan’s continued beratement of the Right for its complicity in the U.S. torture of detainees, I think he’s a tad off-base here. Van Gogh was murdered by a single demented individual who was tried in a court of law. Torture is an on-going, systematic abuse of power leading all the way to the White House, for which no one of influence has yet been made responsible. Van Gogh’s murder does have a political dimension, but I find it ripe that these people who argue that not enough public attention is being paid to the sociopolitical implications of his murder are often the very same people who denied that Marc Lepine’s 1989 muderder of a group of women had any political implications. Hmmm.
In short, Van Gogh was murdered by a criminal who was perhaps influenced by other criminals. There is no disagreement on this point; hence any accusations of “silence” are ludicrous. The torture of detainees, however, is a systematic criminal enterprise that taints an entire society; silence on this matter is tantamount to approval.