On tolerance

Conversation was thick at the Cigar Inn today. Mostly over lunatic James W. von Brunnm who walked into Washington, D.C.’s Holocaust museum and murdered guard Stephen T. Johns, who had the bad luck to be on duty. von Brunn was shot, but unfortunately he is still alive. Word is that he is in critical condition, so there is still a chance for justice to take place.

Irv Levine (we call him Lefty because he always grips his butts with his left thumb and pinkie) was holding forth, as usual, but with special passion today, as you might imagine. He raised his Cohiba to his lips, which engulfed the cigar. He was so near apoplexy that he forgot to light it.

“What galls me is that it happened in a place whose entire purpose is to teach tolerance and acceptance of other people’s views.”

“You mean,” I chimed in, “that we should tolerate and respect beliefs other than ours?”

“Exactly. Especially if they’re different.”

“What if those beliefs include the thought that all Jews are evil and should be shot inside museums?”

Lefty didn’t answer and silently chewed on his cigar, glowering.

Finally Bob Greene laughed. “He’s got you, Lefty. All that tobacco smoke has had its way with your noodle. You’re not thinking straight.” Greene didn’t smoke, but the Cigar Inn was close to his corner on 72nd street, where he distributed literature and tried to win converts for The Earth is Doomed. When the action was light, he wandered in and vainly warned us of the dangers of smoking.

“You just never understood, Lefty. Some opinions are so wrong that they just can’t be tolerated.” He waved some non-existent smoke from his face. “You should know that better than anybody.”

“You heard about this “Insolent Braggart” guy, Greene? A blogger who said that people who don’t believe that global warming will be that harmful should be jailed or executed.”

“Global warming is serious business. The Earth is in peril and if we don’t do something now, the end could be near.”

“Maybe so. But I heard Dr. X and others are bandying about words like ‘treason’ and ‘traitorous’ for anyone holding a skeptical view. That the way you see it?”


“And traitors should certainly be jailed, maybe even executed, right?”

“I wouldn’t say…”

Lefty chimed in, “Hey, Greene, how about gassing the skeptics? That outta teach ’em.” He had his cigar lit by this time and blew a choking blue ring towards Greene.

While this was happening, Lefty’s wife Dorothy came in, as she frequently did, to let him know it was time to leave. Lefty refused to carry a cell phone, but he was found easily, as he was either here or at Finnegan’s Wake soaking up a beer.

“Now just you start being nice,” she said. “You shouldn’t talk like that.”

Lefty mumbled a barely audible, “He started it.” Then louder, “I’m not ready” holding up his cigar to show it had barely burned. Dorothy rolled her eyes and looked at her watch.

The TV was on a news channel and a picture of Sarah Palin appeared. Dorothy, already primed to be upset, said, “I can’t stand that woman!”

“I don’t know,” I said, “she’s pretty hot for a governor.”

Greene, whose eyes were tearing from the smoke, added, “She’s evil.”

I said, “I heard that David Letterman made a joke about one of the Obamas’ kid, one of the little girls. They brought the girls when they visited the city last week. Letterman said, ‘One awkward moment for Michelle Obama at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.'”

“WHAT!” Dorothy screamed, “THERE IS NO WAY HE SAID THAT!” She stood over my chair and thrust her finger right at my head. Dorothy was a big Obama supporter and active in women’s rights.

“Yeah, statutory rape is hilarious isn’t it?”

But before she could jump down my throat, I held up my hands and said, “No, you’re right. Just kidding. Letterman actually said it about Sarah Palin’s 14-year old daughter.”

Lefty smiled but kept quiet. Dorothy looked like she had just been asked an algebra question and had her foot stepped on at the same time.

“I think Letterman was irked that Palin wouldn’t come on his show so he could make fun of her in person.”

“Wait a minute,” said Greene. “I heard about this. Letterman later said he meant Palin’s 18-year old daughter and not her 14-year old daughter.”

“Oh, that makes a big difference,” said Lefty.

“Letterman lied,” I countered. “The man’s entire career has been devoted to inane chitchat with half-rate actors and actresses. There can’t be much left upstairs. What else could he think of saying?”

Dorothy had recovered her composure. “Let’s go, Irv. Right now.”

As she was picking up his raincoat, I said, “Slutty flight attendant.”

Luckily, Lefty had stood up to put out his cigar and was able to stop Dorothy from gouging out my eyes.

“Not you. Letterman also said Palin looked like a ‘slutty flight attendant.'”

“NOW, Irv.” Lefty put on his coat. Dorothy marched out the store, Greene trailing behind her, late for his shift. Lefty took another glance at the television and said, “She don’t look bad at that.”

I nodded. “That’s tolerance what is all about.”


  1. No matter how vile D. Chucklehead is, I defend his right to utter offensive tripe. And no matter how sane (or not) museum shooters are, I defend the death penalty for their acts.

    It’s not about tolerance — it’s about rights. Tolerance is an overused cliche and never was worth spit. I’m intolerant about nearly everything and proud of it. But maybe that’s what you’re driving at, Good Doctor?

  2. Strange times for strange folk, apparently. If David LightWeightman weren’t making CBS at least a bazillion percent of their income he’d be long gone, but such is life. Class no longer counts. We stopped Tivoing DL more than 3 years ago, and though I support his right to be stupid prefer not to waste time watching train wrecks like his show anymore. O’Reilly is funnier and I don’t watch him, either. The “inane chitchat” bit is spot on.

  3. Rich

    Everybody practices tolerance up to a point. It’s where the point should be that we argue about. Too many people want to specify where the line is drawn for everybody else. “Freedom without limit” makes no sense nor does “free speech without limit”. The debate shouldn’t be about “do we have it or not” but “where do we draw the line”. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attempted.

  4. steve

    i love how 49er stopped tivoing letterman after 25 yrs on the air or so.. i’m sure he hardly misses you.. the audience has long since spoken on whether to keep dave on the air or not. You are also completely out of touch with the economics of television advertising if you think letterman is a lynch pin in the overall success of CBS as a network.

    i support your right to change the channel and respect your respect for my choosing to think dave is hilarious..

    ..and everyone knows he meant Bristol the poster child for “teenage knocked up poorly educated fundamentalist idiot” when he said “knocked up”, not the 14 yr old hopefully more realistically educated child.

    rich: i think we should have freedom of speech without limits .. but of course the violent rhetoric should be openly and freely derided.

    I’m for freedom of everything except violence. Harm to a fellow being is unacceptable.. verything else is just personal action and should hopefully be kept private for the general comfort of society at large. what i do in my own home is none of your effin business if it doesn’t directly affect you. I don’t care if it offends your “moral sensibility” you live YOUR life by your ethos.. i live mine by mine using the golden rule as my guide… (the only thing that ever came out of religion worth a crap besides personal comfort for those that feel they need it)

  5. Briggs

    Say, Steve, you think it’s a greater proportion of “fundamentalist idiots” that get “knocked up” or “self-indulgent, non fundamentalist idiots”?

  6. turingheuristic

    I’m not sure if Mike Lester got to this joke before you, regardless, you are on the same page, same sentence even.


    I normally would not have commented, steve made the point about the target of the joke. Though I wouldn’t have bothered to assume she was a “fundie” or an idiot as I can lay no claim to her internal state. Maybe she’s a closet atheist who gamely smiles at the camera in deference to her mother. But I shan’t further posit a multitude of possibilities. It was however fairly obvious that DL was taking a shot at the fairly well plowed ground of Bristol’s kid, marital situation and her famously hot mom’s stance on abstinence education. The general response puzzles me though; to those that found this offensive really think that Dave was suggesting pedophilic rape instead of the now clichèd reference to Bristol? Does the humorous irony of that position not scan? One could imagine the flak Dick Cheney would take if he were against same sex marriage. This is genuine curiosity I’m not trying for derision.

  7. “..and everyone knows he meant Bristol the poster child for “teenage knocked up poorly educated fundamentalist idiot” when he said “knocked up”, not the 14 yr old hopefully more realistically educated child.”

    No, no one knows which daughter her meant except for Letterman and his writers. I thought he meant the 14 year old as she was the one in New York with her mother.

  8. turingheuristic

    For tesla at least I guess the answer is yes, you genuinely believed Dave was making a horrible, offensive joke instead of a hackneyed one. Curious. I guess I should change my statement that is was “fairly obvious” to “it seemed obvious to me”. I’m no huge fan but I guess I’d give the benefit of the doubt to Dave, perhaps that is just my prejudice. I’d like to get a proper characterization of your take Mr. Briggs, as my perception of intention is inarguably flawed; are you suggesting that Dave did use A-rod raping Sarah’s 14 year old daughter as humorous fodder but it was because he is suffering from some cognitive distress related to age? My take is that your narrative is fictional while using autobiographic elements for verisimilitude and broadly for the purpose of contentious humor. I can understand if you do not wish to clarify, I’m not looking to ‘troll’ or engage in some ‘flamewar’, for me this is a fascinating look at how people arrive at conclusion regarding other’s intentions. Perhaps I’m missing the boat completely.

  9. Joy

    Well written, was Dorothy based on Nancy P or was/is she a real person?

    The idea that freedom of speech must contain a caveat is to me a contradiction in terms.
    Should politicians or lawyers be the arbiters of hurt feelings?

    Steve, who’s the Golden ruler? I’d get him calibrated if I were you.

    The Palin haters simply sound like a group of dirty-mouthed wrong’ans that think it’s cool to throw stones. What a fuss about nothing? How many women have children out of wedlock these days? Whether or not this is in itself wrong, is not the issue. For people to be confused about this and then try and claim intellectual superiority is staggering. The story shows that parents can’t choose who their children fall in love with or what they do. That ought to be your lot. That was the line taken by people here when Tony Blaire’s son was caught with dope.

    Had Palin managed to get her way, no doubt she would have chosen differently for her daughter; if the situation makes her unhappy, she will have her own personal reasons for this. To refer to the barrage of abuse as “well ploughed ground” speaks volumes about your sense of honour, let alone chivalry.
    Really the position is intellectually let alone morally indefensible.

  10. turingheuristic

    Joy, that was not a great choice of metaphor as it certainly can be viewed as a tasteless pun speculating great frequency of penetrative vaginal intercourse with Bristol Palin, I see that now. I was really just trying to make a similar point about the untrammeled reference in popular media. I do think a promoter of abstinence-only education for the prevention of teen-age pregnancy to have a teen-aged daughter who is unmarried with child meets the criteria for irony though perceiving it as humorous or not belies the prejudice of the observer. I’m sure we can agree on that point in that you have speculated so. I can’t argue that it is also a pretty insensitive, cynical kind of humor to which I am given. For example I would find some schadenfreude in the ‘outing’ of a vigorously ‘anti-homosexual’ public figure. I would be unlikely to consider the horrifying internal struggle leading to outragous acts in an effort to convince the world of that which he can not convince himself. Further still the unquenchable desire to seek out anonymous sex with men and the collapse into shame when the act is over. It’s tragic really and all to often the pitiable side is overlooked in favor of snarling cries of hypocrisy. I’ll take your criticisms Joy, under advisement.

  11. Briggs


    Doesn’t matter if he planned the joke for Palin’s old grandmother, it’s the perception that counts. Most, at the time, took it to be an asinine statement about a little girl. I didn’t see the show, and have never seen it. But like I intimated, anybody who spends that kind of life can’t be right in the head and is apt to make the occasional boner. Picking on kids—of any age—is just not playing fair and is not the act of a gentleman.

    Tell me honestly, though. And I really ask this sincerely. If he did in fact make the joke about Obama’s kid, would you think he would find any defenders? Second question: and would he have kept his job?

  12. Mr. Briggs,

    Thanks for the post. It is both wonderfully pointed and truly hilarious.

    Of course the most valuable statement in it is Dorothy’s (“Now just you start being nice,” she said. “You shouldn’t talk like that.”)

    Freedom is only one side of a coin. Responsibility is the other side. If one is to accept freedom of thought or speech or action, then one must also accept the responsibility that goes with it. And it’s one coin – you can’t spend only one side of it.

    The anarchist thinkers covered this the implications of the freedom / responsibility duo already, but I think it is best summarised by also invoking the ideas of Ms. Manners. You may have as much freedom as you want, providing you are polite to other people.

    I would venture that shooting up a Jewish museum would be considered impolite. As would David Letterman insulting a young girl, regardless of who she is. And so would you Mr. Briggs (as you well know), for deliberately taunting Dorothy above. Freedom of speech and action also implies consideration of and responsibility for others before you say or do anything.

    So, just you start being nice.

  13. Doug M

    Mike D, you seem to have misunderstanding of the definition of tollerance. If you will defend my right to say what I believe, then you not “intollerant of just about anything.” Tollerance doesn’t mean that you agree with my beliefs. It means that you will not prevent me from practicing them.

    Of course there are limits to free speech. You can’t yell movie in a crowded firehouse. You can not purger you self on the witness stand. If you incite violence and someone acts on your words you will be held liable. You can be liable for damages due from slander. However, there is a out if you “slander” is intended to be satire.

    MSM loves a hypocrite. It makes the conservatives much bigger targets for their foibles. When Rush Libaugh gets pick up for abusing Oxy, that is news, and that is meat for the Leno’s and Lettermans. When Courtney Love gets busted in the same week for the same offense. Well of course she is on drugs.

  14. JH

    Letterman’s joke is vile and thoughtless, and it’s understandable that Palins defend their children. Well, Palin is still a hypocritical toidi. The less I hear or talk about Palin the better.

    I certainly think that everyone should have the same rights that I claim for myself. People have a constitutional right to engage in hate speech, but hate crime or action should not be tolerated.

    I nodded. “That’s tolerance what is all about.”

    Since Dorothy and Irv appear to be an old married, loving couple, the following quote came to my mind (of course, with the help of Google). And I thought it was what Briggs meant. Ha…

    “Tolerance and celebration of individual differences is the fire that fuels lasting love.”
    ~Tom Hannah

  15. turingheuristic

    Thank you for responding Mr. Briggs. You are right about the name, it lacks concision. Then again so do I and that to me lends an aesthetic, so I hope you can forgive this indulgence. It certainly does seem that a large portion of the population did assume DL was suggesting pedophilic rape, also there was a portion (the size of which I’m unaware, perhaps it is just dave and I) that assumed he was making a lame, and thoroughly worn out joke about Sarah’s adherence to a particular policy and the unfortunate reality of Bristol. I wouldn’t argue that making fun of someone’s kids is gentlemanly or fair; it breaks the basic rule of mocking the powerful and helping the powerless. I guess the point at which we would diverge is that I don’t think the joke is even about Bristol. Unwed teenage mothers are a tragic statistic, nothing funny about that. Add a mom who is campaigning to run the country, who presumably advocates a policy that seems to have failed* in a spectacularly personal way is fodder for some jokes. In that sense the joke is really about Sarah (and to lesser degree AR as I hear he is a ‘hound dog’ of some note) not her daughter; insensitive, mean spirited even, but funny to those that see it that way. I think there may be some insight about how one looks at humor and politics though I can make nothing of it now.

    I do think DL might find some defenders but as my favorite Marxist once said “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” More clearly, I wouldn’t want to associate with someone who would think A-rod having sexual congress with Obama’s daughter is funny. I’m sure though that some white supremacist somewhere would find it hysterical. To me though this argument is a kind of false equivalence. There is (however stretched and ineptly applied) a connection between Sarah and someone having ill-advised sex with her 18 year old daughter that is part of the cultural zeitgeist. There is no such comparison with OB’s daughters that I am aware of. If DL were to make such a joke it would clearly be the act of a lunatic and I would participate in the derision with gusto. It is curious to me that you seem to feel that the error that DL would make was more likely to purposely tell a pedophilic non-sequitur of a joke and be forced to backpedal then to mistake the identity of Sarah’s travelling companion. I am certain I don’t understand how that position is more logical or rational but then again I find it hard to separate myself from my prejudices.

    *I would certainly concede that a small sample tells us nothing and I’m not familiar enough with the subject to make any proclaimations about it’s success or failure. As you correctly pointed out it is the perception, not the reality.

  16. JH

    Mr. Briggs, here is a question for you.

    If the Obamas had a teen daughter who got pregnant, what would you expect to hear from people like Hannity, Limbaugh and Coulter?

  17. Oh my. Let’s take it out of the joke arena. My dear State of Oregon elected a pedophile governor, Neil Goldschmidt, who repeated raped the 12-yo daughter of one of his aides while Mayor of Portland. This was well-known to the Oregonian newspaper, but they covered it up and supported Neil for goober, and he won.

    The victim became a drug addict and told her story frequently, but it wasn’t until 8 years later that the facts were outed, by a different newspaper.

    You see, the Oregonian, Goldschmidt, and all that ilk were DEMOCRATS. The Democrat Party is very forgiving, even approving, of real pedophilia.

    The current Mayor of Portland, Sam Adams is a homosexual pedophile. He had sex with a minor he met in the public bathrooms of the State capitol.

    Guess what? Sam Adams is a DEMOCRAT, the Party of Pedophilia. But you’ll never hear a Democrat say boo about either pervert, because party loyalty transcends morality. No jokes from Littleman about real child rape by his cronies.

    Instead they laugh at the “fundies” who oppose pedophilia.

    Thank goodness my children made it through public school without getting raped by any of their DEMOCRAT teachers, although my son was propositioned by an award-winning Far Left teacher who kept her job for years until the School Board was finally sued by the parents of another of her victims. Of course, the School Board was 100% DEMOCRATS, the Party of Pedophilia, Drug Abuse, and any and all other perversions.

    So ha ha ha. Pretty funny, eh? Many are proud to be members of the Party of Sick Twitches. Are you?

  18. turingheuristic

    I agree Mike D. I doubt further discussion regarding the nature of DL’s lame joke will yield insight. I’m curious though about some of your assertions. A a Canadian with no particular religious leaning I cannot count myself among the democrats or the ‘fundies’. Regardless, I cannot avoid the conclusion that pedophilia is an unacceptable behavior for many obvious reasons not limited to the well documented harm, abuse of trust, and lack of consent. I am curious if one who identifies as democratic was found, through careful scrutiny, to not be either a drug user or a pedophile would you concede that being a democrat does not therefore imply those other characteristics? Would you concede that if it were found a person who engages in both or either behaviors and did not identify democratic that it invalidates your hypothesis? I have arrived at an understanding about American politics that there is a deep divide and mistrust between the parties, much as it is here in the icy north. Also there is a curious ‘pigeon-holing’, that is to say, a desire to place one’s ideological opponents in an un-nuanced stereotype. Would you agree Mike D. that you (generally not personally) and your party seem unfairly characterised by the democrats? Is it possible that the same may be happening by folks on your ‘side’? I don’t mean to provoke maliciously, but to question as to whether it is within human nature to unfairly characterize one’s ideological opponent regardless of one’s stance. I hope to gain insight by your response.

  19. turingheuristic

    I wish to offer my apologies to Dr. Briggs, it occured to me that I might be in error referring to William M. Briggs as Mr. as I had not checked to see if you had a Ph.D, that was sloppy thinking. I hope you did not take it as an insult but I can understand that it would seem as a direct challenge to your authority without acknowledging your work. I would not rescind my statements or questions though, even with respect for your station.

  20. Briggs


    They probably, and unfortunately, would blather endlessly. Just the same way the leftists go on about Palin’s pregnant kid. And all of it is tedious, useless, and none of their business.


    The only title I’ve ever liked was Sergeant. “Mr” is fine.

  21. Joy

    Hmm, Those candles look lovely in the cigar inn. I’d plump for Madagascar.
    Stone Henge? What does Stone Henge smell like? Not sure the druids or whoever smelt great after a morning of axing and dragging stones.
    From memory, there was not an aromatic druid in sight for miles around.

    Sgt Briggers, can we have a post on what they smell like?

  22. turingheuristic

    Understood. Thank you for the discourse, I feel that I have learned a great deal.

  23. DAV

    Mike D. , I went to an all male prep school. Not one of us would have considered himself victimized if propositioned by a female teacher. In fact, it would have meant bragging rights. The real danger would come from acts driven by the insane jealousy of the unchosen. We would have considered your son quite strange if he truly feels victimized by his experience.

    I think the real tragedy in ephebophilia incidents is that the ‘victims’ are more traumatized by the confusion over being told they are victims when it isn’t felt as such. There are always exceptions of course. Curiously, the same victimization concept lends itself as a weapon against an unpopular teacher (like the one that make the students work harder for good grades). Why isn’t the conveyance of the idea of backstabbing to get ahead or simply for more convenience also considered victimization?

    Dragging Palin’s daughter into the spotlight was not only unfair to her daughter but it shows a lack of thinking to see humorous irony in one’s offspring not following the parental outlook. Anyone who has raised a child should know that guidance doesn’t equal control. Somewhere along the line they have to make their own mistakes from which to learn — and unfortunately, some of those mistakes will be repeats of yours — probably for the same reasons you made yours. In the extreme: would there be similar humor in the irony of a couple opposed to murder discovering they’ve raised a serial killer? Outside of severity, how is it any different?

  24. DAV

    T. Heuristic, there’s a marked difference between pedophilia and ephebophilia. The DSM IV makes the distinction using puberty as the line. It’s the difference between attraction to what nature makes a fertile mate and attraction to one that can’t be. The latter is a bit more bizarre.

    Many laws don’t make the distinction so actions in one state considered non-criminal are treated as criminal in another. Doesn’t anyone else find that strange? Texas raised the age of consent from 14 just about 5 years ago — more to attack a religious sect than out of true concern for teenage girls. Most states seem to use 16. Are girls in Pennsylvania and Maryland more mature than those in California? (well, probably)

    I don’t have any real numbers but I’m willing to bet that using the APA definition of pedophilia would make pedophilia far less common than widely perceived.

    Much of what we consider outrageous is strangely mutable fashion. The Romans thought of pedophilia as a personal weakness more akin to how we think of drug addiction but regarded oral sex with utmost disgust. Ephebophilia was just a preference much like a preference for green apples over riper ones. Tiberius’s pedophilia was a scandal — not because it was all that bad in itself — but because the foremost Roman had a confirmed weakness. My how views change.

    Just in case: I’m not advocating either pedophilia or ephebophilia but instead noting how humans make varying and sometimes conflicting distinctions between right and wrong.

  25. Katie

    In general, a teacher should uphold some degree of professional conduct, which would include not treating the student body as a dating pool.

  26. turingheuristic

    DAV, you said:

    “Dragging Palin’s daughter into the spotlight was not only unfair to her daughter but it shows a lack of thinking to see humorous irony in one’s offspring not following the parental outlook.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “lack of thinking”. Lack of sensitivity and sympathy? If so I agree. Otherwise I’m puzzled.


    “T. Heuristic, there’s a marked difference between pedophilia and ephebophilia.”

    If I follow your point, I should have said that Alex Rodriguez would be committing ephebophilic rape because Sarah’s other daughter is 14 and therefore likely fertile even while remaining a child in the eyes of our culture. Noted.

    As for the question regarding the raising of a serial killer by parents opposed to murder; it would meet one of the definitions of the word irony, but to find it funny would require a particularly dark sense of humor. Outside of severity it is different because one is about a fairly typical teenage mistake and the other is about someone with a compulsion to murder. Quite literally life and death, so from some perspective, opposites. I have to admit a failure to understand how this makes your point. I would welcome any clarification.

  27. DAV

    TH, in both cases the lack of thinking is illustrated by the belief that Palin or anyone else can actually control their teenage offspring to conform to their beliefs. Common sense should prevail.

    I fail to see how one example being a common mistake has anything to do with where the supposed humor lies unless Palin was herself demanding parental control over teenagers as a means to prevent teenage pregnancies then demonstrably failing herself. More likely and presumably though, her daughter became pregnant despite Palin’s attempts to guide her. We will probably never know.

  28. Today at the Farmers Market the gal in the adjacent booth made a big speech about how awful Sarah Palin is, and how she deserved to have Letterman-style child rape jokes directed at her.

    I kept my mouth shut. I don’t think political argument, or even moral argument, is appropriate in the market.

    The vapid cow who spoke those words is a DEMOCRAT and her husband a sometime candidate for County Commissioner (thank goodness he lost). He sat there soaking in her words and nodding.

    I will not be marketing my produce there any longer. I did not smack her in her ugly mouth, nor bust her husband for being a piece of excrement (kudos to my forbearance), but I am intolerant of such barking stupidity and do not wish to be in their presence ever again.

    Turingheuristic asks me if I am unfairly characterizing all Democrats as sicko perverts. I think not. They are what they are. From Barney Frank to Ted Kennedy, the lot of them act like barnyard animals, bray like donkeys, and have the morals of junkyard dogs.

    DAV asks me if my son felt victimized (or proud of) being propositioned by a 50-ish elephantine Libby slimeworm with a mustache. No, he felt repulsed and refused to attend her class anymore. In the modern American public school system non-attendance in required classes is utterly ignored. He graduated with honors and subsequently earned a Masters in Business from a reputable university.

    Does that mean I do not fear for my children and grandchildren in modern society? No. I fear greatly for their future in a society devoid of any moral compass and currently being run into the ground by the Pervert Marxist Party.

    DAV also finds “humorous irony” in serial killers raised by parents opposed to murder, which he compares to pregnant teenagers raised by parents who promote abstinence. I find no humor in either situation. I must again point out that irony is a Post-Modern ersatz substitute value because PoMo thinking has rejected all traditional values. Further, PoMo irony has morphed into ugliness, such as crucifixes in jars of urine. Modern progressive amorality is Ugliness with a capital “U” and the hallmark of the modern progressive Democrat Party.

  29. turingheuristic

    That does clarify things quite nicely, thank you for taking the time. Of course controlling anyone, much less a teenager is at best an illusion. Were I suggesting that I would be wrong. I’m sorry I could not have been clear.

    “unless Palin was herself demanding parental control over teenagers as a means to prevent teenage pregnancies then demonstrably failing herself.”

    This is where I think we diverge, and admittedly it does require some assumptions on my part. For me, choosing to run for the second highest office in your land, one that I think* has some control over the spending in various social education programs would meet the criteria for demanding parental control in a figurative more than literal sense. Further that Bristol and her child would constitute a failure especially if the advocacy of the efficacy of a given social program was prominent. As I said earlier the small sample does not tell us anything real about any social program, at best it could be considered a ‘theatrical failure’; what I think the Japanese would call ‘a loss of face’. That is a lot of assumptions and, as I have learned, ones that large portions of the population do not make.

    I really appreciate how civil and erudite the comments have been, in any other comment thread this could have become a senseless shouting match. It has also been a great example of how trivial and private issues can senselessly override vastly more important ones.

    * I have to admit my understanding of American politics and government structures is not as nuanced as I’d like.

  30. DAV

    Mike D, “DAV also finds “humorous irony” in serial killers raised by parents opposed to murder” Au contraire. Please reread my post and subsequent one to TH. Ok, your son is an ageist. I said there were exceptions. We didn’t have many female teachers but those present were attractive. We were lucky I guess. Parochial of me though.

    TH, you’re right. This is where we diverge. I don’t see a state governor’s control over educational expense (and in some states that’s probably more local than not) as the same thing as advocating parental control over teenage actions but admit it could be used as leverage perhaps.

  31. turingheuristic

    Yes, DAV, I think you have hit upon the nucleation point of these dispirit views. If I may be so bold; the left sees this as a kind of hypocrisy (though it means nothing statistically) the right observes that it is a focus on an irrelevant, anomalous and private situation. This seems to me like a knife’s edge upon which one’s opinion is sorted. I find that I can make no argument as to which view is correct, but it does seem polarizing. Perhaps that is why it is so contentious. To me this is a fascinating digression that may yet provide some wisdom regarding the other, more important issues that are similarly divided. This will provide much fodder for thought. Apologies for anyone who felt this was an unfair characterization. I will submit to any criticism as capably as I am.

  32. Yes quite. Embracing the eclectic banner of “multiculturalism”, “feminism”, “agism” and “ism-ism” is the primary theme of many narratives concerning semiotic postdialectic theory used to deconstruct elitist perceptions of society.

    The knife’s edge of opinion is part of the paradigm of culture, or rather the rubicon, and eventually the failure, of class polarization. Marx suggests the use of the textual paradigm of context is used to exploit postdematerialist minorities. Baudrillard, however, uses the term ‘the textual paradigm of discourse’ to denote the difference between sexual identity and culture.

    Perhaps that is why PoMo discourse is so contentious. It lacks meaning as in “meaning”, yet serves to deconstruct subcultural society, in a sense, if social realism holds, toward a dialectic socialism that debases communication altogether. Criticalism adjusts the PoMo dialectic so that a self-justifying totality exists apart from the reality of child rape, ironically subjugating contextualised discourse into a bucket of crap.

  33. turingheuristic

    Nice, Mike D. that was very funny. Kind of reminded me of the Sokal Hoax. If you are not already familiar with it you might find it amusing.


  34. Rich

    Joy, I confess it’s not obvious to me that freedom of action and freedom of speech are inherently different. We accept, I think, that freedom of action within limits is still freedom otherwise we would be defending some imaginary “right” to steal, murder and rape. In what way is speech different so that putting limits to its free expression necessarily negates its freedom?

    MikeD, mine’s a pint. Thanks.

  35. Joy


    …‘putting limits to it’s free expression necessarily negates it’s freedom’?

    Speech being the subject, putting limit’s to it’s free expression, i.e. speaking, necessarily negates Speech’s freedom?
    The answer is yes.
    Isn’t that simple subtraction? I’m not joking now,
    Thinking about a bird, with its wings clipped. It is free to wander round the garden, but it can’t fly! So it’s not free to be a bird.
    If something costs nothing it is free. If something costs nothing plus a penny, it’s not free.

    Free means without impingement to me. So the bird in the garden might be quite happy with it’s lot, but it isn’t free as a bird. The prisonaliSed man has freedom then within certain limits?
    Negates means nullify. The bird with his new clipped wings isn’t the bird he was before, he is now a different thing, a whole new circumstance. He is without the thing that he had before!
    You see freedom as a relative term. Always with respect to something else, in which case it should always then be expressed with it’s boundaries. That is a contradiction. Don’t tell me I can fly to the Maldives for free as long as I enter a prize draw and expect me to believe it. Everything costs, except physiology. I regard my speech as part of my body.
    I would no sooner give up the right to move as the right to speak.
    If I’m in an MRI scanner, I must not move, but I have the right to move and spoil the image, if I am foolish, frightened, or I have an itch.
    What’s a good reason to give up the right to speak?

  36. JH

    Joy, you know, a bird with wings clipped can still speak and sing. So, I see one difference between freedom of action and freedom of speech. The government can put a ban on sale of alcohol to youth and hence limits youth’s freedom of alcohol consumption. However, with intact vocal chords, we are free to speak… unless you believe that it’s reasonable for our governments to remove our vocal chords.

  37. Joy

    That was probably the silliest thing I’ve ever heard you say in earnest! But I love you even though you hate Palin without a good reason because love,like hate, is unconditional.

    The bird analogy is a reference to flight, not singing or quacking or squawking. Given to show how restriction does necessarily negate freedom. The difference is, that no one claims that we have freedom of action. We say ‘I am a free man’ we never say I am a free man but I must not murder, rape or pillage! That is the argument Rich and you were looking for.

    No western nation has freedom of action, anyone who thinks they have are deluded. You can, in the states I think, say ‘I have freedom of speech’ and mean exactly that. It is for that reason that it can be argued that you are still the land of the free. It’s not the guns you want to be worrying about, it’s the red riding-hood laws that you are buying into that need to be watched. Believe me, you will not like it when you go the way of the UK.

    What is a good reason? The alcohol to youngsters, medicine in hands of children, or any variation on the nanny theme are not good reasons for restricting freedom of speech (a contradiction). Call it like it is. Removing freedom of speech is not a vote winner but it’s the truth.

    On Sarah Palin,
    The conversation in the cigar inn would be illegal- apart from the part about Sarah’s intellect, and the airhostess. She looks like a flight attendant because she wears suits, smiles freely, looks feminine and makes enemies before she opens her mouth. Many people, women and men couldn’t hide the green-eyed monster if their life depended on it.

  38. komikos

    Check out the link below.

    “Letterman certainly has the right to ‘joke’ about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. And this is all thanks to our U.S. military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America’s right to free speech – in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect.”

    I didn’t realize that our right to free speech was secured by our military forces.

  39. JH


    <Joke> Silliness. What can I say?! It’s my strong suit. You must know that it’s the most sought-after skill in a work place full of smart people. </Joke>

    I don’t know what Rich was looking for, but I wasn’t looking for arguments of any kind. I only wished to point out, after reading your comments, that freedom of speech differs from some forms of freedom of action when it comes to imposing sanction or limit on them.

    So you (and other readers) will love me more if I tell you why I don’t care for (hate is too strong a word) Palin politically? I hope you get the point of this silly question.

  40. John M


    “I didn’t realize that our right to free speech was secured by our military forces.”

    Only if you consider the right to free speech NOT to be part of our freedom.

    Otherwise, I guess you have a fight with Obama on your hands as well, but I guess you wouldn’t find that idealogically appealing. Or maybe the folks at the Daily Kos, where you seem to be getting your talking points, didn’t read Obama’s quote either.

    “After placing the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the president arrived at the ceremony’s majestic marble-columned amphitheater, where, against the backdrop of three giant American flags, he paid tribute to “those who paid the ultimate price so that we may know freedom.” ”


    Oh, maybe just an aberration? Ooohh, lookie here!

    “I have just received a very fine briefing from our military leadership on the status of our forces in the Persian Gulf. Before I left the Pentagon, I wanted to talk to you and all those whom you represent the men and women of our military. You, your friends and your colleagues are on the front lines of this crisis in Iraq.

    I want you, and I want the American people, to hear directly from me what is at stake for America in the Persian Gulf, what we are doing to protect the peace, the security, the freedom we cherish, why we have taken the position we have taken.”

    Bill Clinton, 1998


    And of course, there’s always that famous nutcase, JFK, who also seemed more confused about the military and freedom than superior intellects like comic-os.


    comic-os against the world!

  41. Candy

    “That was probably the silliest thing I’ve ever heard you say in earnest! But I love you even though you hate Palin without a good reason because love,like hate, is unconditional.”

    Joy, what a belligerent, virulent bait you’ve set up! I didn’t realize this until I read John M’s comments. Don’t waste your time trying to convince me otherwise.

  42. Joy

    Not looking for the argument in the Monte python sense. Neither seemed to answer the original ‘argument’ / ‘point’
    It also occurs to me that there is no such thing as freedom of speech anywhere because slander laws Prevent it. This IS a good reason to give up the right to ‘free speech!

    On tolerance,
    Most go through life and try not to cause hurt or harm by what they say. Some try harder than others, and some have never thought to try. That’s life.

  43. Charles

    Though I don’t find JH’s comments silly at all, I, a quiet reader, enjoy reading silly, funny, terse-but-not-curt posts. Keep them coming, fellow readers.

  44. Rich

    Joy, OK, good presentation. Where’s does the same line of argument go when you talk about freedom of action?

    “What’s a good reason to give up the right to speak?” There are a lots of good reasons to give up the right to speak. Caring about the feelings of others would be one. But I don’t think the discussion is about voluntary silence, is it? Surely we’re talking about coercion? Threat of punishment is a form of coercion and we use it to discourage murder. I don’t want to kill anybody (well, not really) so is my freedom to act non-existent or merely circumscribed?

    “What’s a good reason to prevent speech?” would be closer to the point of the argument, wouldn’t it? Would it be reasonable to prevent someone publishing the idea that AIDS can be cured by vitamin supplements on the grounds that thousands of those who are persuaded will die?

    Why is the act of speech so much more special than any other act?

  45. Joy

    Rich, We don’t talk about freedom of action. If we did, it would go the same way as talk of freedom of speech. We have choice of action. Some make good choices.
    Saving someone’s feelings by saying nothing is not giving up the right to speak. It is just good manners. Do we need lawyers for that? I have the right to speak, I choose not to, at no time have I given up that right.

    The reason we don’t have it is the same reason we don’t have ‘free speech’. (Free speech being defended by myself initially until I realised I never had it in the first place and it didn’t need defending!) The right to speak is different; isn’t that a basic human right?

    ‘Circumscribing Freedom of action’. It is circumscribed, so it isn’t free.
    Same question, same answer. The law removes your freedom to murder. Therefore, ‘freedom’ has now been changed. Like infinity to circumscribed infinity. (I nearly wrote circumcised infinity. I’m getting dizzy.)

    From your perspective, Communist Russia was free?

    Vitamins? That’s false advertising and there are already laws preventing this. The advertisers are ever more cunning to outwit the regulators, as you know. Hope you see why I say the ‘free’ word is exactly that, false advertising.

    We all love it, but none of us have it. However, since I see that both sides of the political spectrum are using it, I suppose each side will see contradiction but not in it’s own and I’m beginning not to care as probably you are too.

    “If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.”

  46. Joy

    “If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.”
    Ten thousand wouldn’t come close. THAT is my objection, apart from the principle.

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