Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What if they had a funeral and no one cried?

When someone dies, and people still can't bring themselves to speak well of them, you know they were pretty awful. The most classic example was H.L. Mencken's eulogy, To Expose a Fool, of William Jennings Bryan, who died shortly after the Scopes Trial ended. Mencken's acid pen uttered:

"Bryan lived too long, and descended too deeply into the mud, to be taken seriously hereafter by fully literate men, even of the kind who write school-books. There was a scattering of sweet words in his funeral notices, but it was not more than a response to conventional sentimentality. The best verdict the most romantic editorial writer could dredge up, save in the eloquent South, wasn't the general effect that his imbecilities were excused by his earnestness--that under his clowning, as under that of the juggler of Notre Dame, there was the zeal of a steadfast soul. But this was apology, not praise.

This talk of sincerity, I confess, fatigues me. If the fellow was sincere, then so was P.T. Barnum. The word is disgraced and degraded by such uses. He was, in fact, a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without any shame or dignity. What animated him from end to end of his grotesque career was simply ambition--the ambition of a common man to get his hand upon the collar of his superiors, or, failing that, to get his thumb into their eyes. He was born with a roaring voice, and it had the trick of inflaming half-wits against their betters, that he himself might shine. His last battle will be grossly misunderstood if it is thought of as a mere exercise in fanaticism--that is, if Bryan the Fundamentalist Pope is mistaken for one of the bucolic Fundamentalists. There was much more in it than that, as everyone knows who saw him on the field. What moved him, at bottom, was simply hatred of city men who had laughed at him so long, and brought him at last to so tatterdemalion an estate. He lusted for revenge upon them. He yearned to lead the anthropoid rabble against them, to set Homo neandertalensis upon them, to punish them for the execution they had done upon him by attacking the very vitals of their civilization. He went far beyond the bounds of any merely religious frenzy, however inordinate. When he began denouncing the notion that man is a mammal even some of the hinds at Dayton were agape. And when, brought upon Darrow’s cruel hook, he writhed and tossed in a very fury of malignancy, bawling against the baldest elements of sense and decency like a man frantic--when he came to the tragic climax there were snickers among the hinds as well as hosannas. "

Well, Jerry Falwell passed last week and he engendered a similar lack of good will. I didn't burst into applause or anything on this news, but I was not the least bit bothered and didn't feel any skinner box, society inflicted, knee jerk remorse at the passing of this divisive blowhard. The most extensive denunciation of Falwell was by the Butcher of Broadway himself, Frank Rich, who penned a piece called The Reverend Falwell's Heavenly Timing in the Sunday Times. Bill Maher offered a funnier homage on his show Friday night in a New Rule called "Death isn't always sad."
“Millions of Americans (upon hearing the news) asked, why, why God, why
couldn't you take Pat Robertson with him? Now I know you’re not supposed to
speak ill of the dead, but I think we can make an exception, because speaking
ill of the dead was kind of Jerry Falwell’s hobby. He was the guy who said aids
was God's punishment for homosexuality and 9/11 was brought on by gays,
feminists, pagans and the ACLU, or as I like to call them, my studio
audience. ”

Zing, bop!


Bruce A. Bateman said...

Regarding your blog of Saturday May 19th: Thanks for the objective view and kind comments, Jeff. Your sense of fairness is what I like most about your writing. I may not agree with your politics, but I will defend with my life…blah blahh. (Truth is I do admire your willingness to tilt with the windmill – even though you mostly feint from the left side). (:-)) You are correct, incidentally about my missing the memo…I’d as soon harpoon the sick and the lame as the fat and sassy. I’m an equal opportunity thorn-in-the-side. (Yeah, I mixed the metaphor).

Not being a fully committed blogger I don’t read Dengre often. I read a few of his pieces and found him to be far too myopic in his rants. Always it’s the downtrodden but innocent worker suffering at the hands of some conspiratorial Simon Sinister with a business license….or a Senatorial seat. I figure he came to Saipan and sat on a stingray during a dive, or maybe he’s a back seat buddy of Stayman’s and has the same hatred/revenge/hardon that Allen has about things Saipanese. In fairness I must say that he researches well (if onesidedly) and if not for the purpose worn blinders that keep him from balanced reporting he would be a good writer. Anyway, since I don’t read him often I didn’t realize until I read about it in your blog that he/she was inflamed (sorry) about my take on the combustible Nepalese man.

I wondered the other day, some three weeks after penning the offending article, why I would get an email complaining vociferously about my lack of sensitivity. Now I can guess that maybe this Wendy person read the inflammatory (there he goes again) piece Dengre wrote. (Does Dengre rhyme with Angry or with Zane Grey)?

So as to clarify my position regarding the near Tantric enlightenment of Mr. Dhamil here is Wendy’s email letter and my response to it:

Dear Mr. Bateman:

Your column concerning Mr. Buddhi Dhamil, the security guard so despondent about not receiving thousands owed to him, who in desperation set himself on fire was beyond cruel, insensitive, despicable, and appalling. You truly epitomize the "Ugly American". The only thing more shocking than the disgusting column, is the fact that any newspaper would publish it, and allow you to have a voice in their paper.

I can only imagine what his poor daughter, other family members, and friends will think when they read your mean-spirited, thoughtless, hurtful words.

I hope you will make a public apology.

Wendy Doromal
Dear Ms. Doromal,

Thanks for reading Sour Grapes and thanks for taking the time to send me your thoughts on the matter.

If you consider my suggestion to allow Mr. Dhamil to remain here on Saipan with a good paying Government job to be insensitive (and eight other adjectives you keyed off of your thesaurus), just what, pray tell, would YOU suggest be done with him?

Would you like to see him repatriated to Nepal where he will likely be killed in the political infighting there or at best be resigned to a life of abject poverty?

Why do you think he would be willing to perform such a self destructive act? According to him, he wanted to stay here and he wanted a job. My suggestion gives him both of his dreams in one package.

Apologize publicly? For what? For suggesting that he get what he most fervently wants?

Bruce A. Bateman


As a side bar, Jeff, I should note that becoming Cheney is not high on my list of life goals. In fact I have come to believe that there is no real Osama Bin Laden. It is instead Dick Cheney wearing a Castro beard and a towel for a fedora. If you take this postulate as a base truth you can begin to see why the ‘war on terror’ has raged so long and seems to be so resolutely linked to world oil prices. Okay so it’s a bit of a stretch…..but it could be Dick’s Mom.

You are also correct that I would enjoy being the butt of the Liberal’s ire so may go onto his blog and goad them on a bit more. “Go away or I shall taunt you a second time-a”. Says the French Knigiggit to King Arthur. Should be fun. On the other hand, maybe not, it just adds to his preacher-to-the-choir readership.

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

You aren't mean spirited Bruce, that is why I defended you to an extent, unlike Mr. Cheney. You've done good things, and you're ideologically consistent, so I'll give you that, too. I've been to your bar a couple of times, and I heard good things about you from some of the musicians there. Anyone who can assist teachers, musicians and the arts is ok in my book, even if they are economically to the right of Atilla. I don't mind economic right wingers as much as social right wingers, and I'm very politically incorrect for a lefty. I would still urge you to stick it more to the powerful, self important and full of it. There is an old journalism axiom called "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" that I kind of like, but that is a motto, not an obligation. Dengare could use the benefit of coming out here, I'll agree with that as well. There is a lot of economic injustice out here that is reprehensible, but I won't get into a who's to blame on that one. Anyway, enjoy your f(l)ame while it lasts and start your own blog, since that other one seems deader than the CNMI economy.



Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks, Jeff, and I am looking into starting a blog. If nothing else it will keep the fingers limbered up.