Just Another Effin' Observer

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Location: Huntsville, Texas, United States

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Michelle Malkin Crosses a Line

I saw this post on Michelle Malkin's blog, and I must say that I am a bit incensed.

I'll not have you dissing Clifford, Michelle.

I worked for Scholastic for almost two years (from January of 2001 through October of 2002), helping to put together a product called Read 180 – a reading-intervention program for students who are reading below grade level. Every week, a local dry-cleaner’s van would pull up to the curb in front of 524 Broadway in Manhattan (the building in which I worked), and the driver would carry the Clifford suit into the building; I feel like I got to know Clifford very well in the course of those months.

Now, you can say what you want about Scholastic, the company that publishes the Harry Potter books in the United States, and was also responsible for Charles In Charge. But there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Clifford, the Big Red Dog; he is the symbol of the two best years of my life (with the exception of one absolutely dreadful Tuesday, but that's a subject for another time).

And I will countenance no disparagement of him.

UPDATE (23 June 2005): I neglected to mention that the voice of Clifford was performed by the late John Ritter, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, very briefly, at Sardi's, on the occasion of my birthday. My date and I were going to see The Producers; Mr. Ritter was grabbing a quick nosh with his co-star in The Dinner Party, Henry Winkler. I made an excuse to pass near their table, on the pretext of going to the Men's room (actually, it was not a pretext: I really did have to pee like a Peruvian pack-mule -- damn Martinis!). As I passed, I said, "Hi, Clifford." He smiled and nodded; Mr. Winkler looked at me like I was some rare species of idiot. Okay, so it was my night in the barrel.

And that was it: my brush with celebrity.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

No, I’m Hitler – er, I mean, Spartacus. Yeah, that’s it. I’m Spartacus!

Bill at INDC Journal linked to it. So did Michelle Malkin. In fact, just about every blogger on the Web has linked to it (if the trackback list is anything to go by), so I might as well, too. What is “it”? It’s this item, courtesy of Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities (and I won’t even begin to go into why I love that name – suffice it to say that I do).

It seems like everyone and his cousin Phil is being compared to Hitler these days. And frankly, this meme is starting to wear a bit thin.

What does it mean, exactly, to compare someone to Hitler? Basically, it means that the person making that comparison is an idiot. Sorry if I have offended anyone (actually, I’m not the least bit sorry), but Hitler was a unique figure in world history (thank God!); comparing anyone to him (with the possible exception of Stalin) reveals one to be: a) an historical illiterate; b) chemically free of any capacity for moral or ethical discernment; and c) intellectually lazy, or more accurately, utterly bereft.

But it turns out that some people have a better claim to the Hitler mantle than others, if the research of Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams bears up to scrutiny. The Pink Swastika, originally published in 1995, with an updated fourth edition released in 2002, is an examination of homosexuality in the National Socialist German Workers Party, or as they were known at the time, the Nazis. Yes, you read that right, sports fans: the upper echelons of the Nazi Party were as gay as Christopher Street on a Saturday night. Sounds like somebody at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force got some ‘splainin’ to do.

As tempted as I am, I am not going to trot out the “Hypocrisy!” charge so favored by the Left. Despite the fact that the antics of such gangs of hooligans as ACT-UP and Queer Nation are ominously reminiscent of the head-busting tactics of Ernst Roehm – a notorious flamer in his own right – and his SA (Sturmabteilung, or storm troopers), I don’t believe it serves any purpose to throw those similarities in anyone’s face. I’ll just remark – quite casually, mind you – that the fact that these similarities go so completely unnoticed by the Bushitler Brigades is indicative of the historical illiteracy I alluded to earlier.

The Pink Swastika made for riveting reading, and I have been following up reading the book by checking out the bibliography. (Don’t tell my boss; he thinks I’m actually working!) So far, Lively’s and Abram’s work checks out. I have not examined all of the book’s 200-plus source documents, but those I have been able to locate – I found a couple of them on my own bookshelves, a side-benefit of being an indiscriminate and voracious reader – support the authors’ thesis: that the Nazi Party, which rose to power during Weimar Germany, was founded by the original “radical fairies”. In fact, Germany in the early years of the last century was the birthplace of the “gay rights” movement in Western culture, and homosexuality was known in Europe of the era as “the German vice”. Berlin of the 1920s occupied a position very similar to that of San Francisco today.

The Pink Swastika is a hard book to find; Barnes & Noble doesn't carry it, Amazon.com says to allow 2-4 weeks(!) for delivery, and all I got from the clerk at Border's was a blank stare. (No, I'm not going to comment; it just wouldn't be sporting.) But you can find it, in its entirety, on the Web. It's a damn good read, and well worth the bandwidth. And it will drive the gay activist in your family completely berserk.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Not Guilty

The verdict is in: Michael Jackson has been acquitted on all ten of the charges against him. Now, I am not a fan of Michael Jackson’s, and I never have been. I think his music pretty much sucks, and you don’t even want to get me started on what I think of his – for lack of a better word for it – dancing. And as for Jackson as a person – well, let’s not go there. (Well, not yet, at least. But we will, in a moment. And if you want to take that as a threat….)

Now that the verdict has been rendered, we can only hope that, if nothing else, he will take his recent experience as a wake-up call. A report from the BBC implies that this may be the case. But somehow, I doubt that he will. More likely, he (and his teeming hordes of sycophantic followers, a.k.a., “fans”) will see yesterday’s verdict as permission to “carry on”, which means that we’ll probably see a replay of this circus in, oh, I’m guessing about ten years down the road.

For what it’s worth, let me say that I agree with the verdict the jury handed down. Nor am I at all surprised by the verdict, but not for the reasons you might think. I refuse to believe that we, as a society, have become so jaded, that we have “defined deviancy down” to such an extent, that accusations of child-molestation no longer rise to the level of criminal behavior. I think the reason for the acquittal is much more prosaic than that.

Ever since the infamous McMartin child-molestation case (which took place in California in the ‘80s), prosecutors have had to be relentlessly careful in bringing formal charges of sexual abuse of a child: the evidence has to be rock-solid, the witnesses above reproach. This, I would argue, is as it should be; the potential consequences of mistakes – whether it be losing a case against someone like Arnold Dean Corll (who actually never went to trial) or John Wayne Gacy, or a wrongful prosecution against innocent defendants, as in the McMartin case – are too great to allow any carelessness or half-measures in building the case. This was where the prosecution failed the test. The principal witness against Jackson (the alleged victim’s mother) was, shall we say, less than sterling, and the jury was reluctant to convict on the basis of her testimony; there was simply too much extraneous baggage carried into the courtroom, too many questions about the mother’s motives. This is not to say that the jury concluded that the charges against Jackson were baseless: at least one member of the jury acknowledged that she had reason to believe that Jackson had, in fact, molested two of the prosecution’s witnesses; unfortunately, neither boy was Jackson’s accuser, and the jury could only convict or acquit Jackson of the charges with which he was accused. The verdict, therefore, was the correct one.

That said, I do have a few thoughts with respect to Mr. Jackson himself. (I did warn you.)

You can say all kinds of things about Jacko and his general weirdness (and just about everybody with a Web presence has), but for reasons that I really don’t want to explore too deeply, I feel kinda sorry for the “guy” – and yes, those were irony quotes. Not in any Shakespearean, tragic way, mind you (although God knows there is ample cause for that); no, this is a more detached, clinical-researcher type of response. Every time I see photographs of The Gloved One, my first – and only – reaction is an intense desire to snag a tissue sample (just be close-by the next time his nose falls off) so I can count the chromosomes.

Jackson has been in the public eye for more than forty years, since he was five years old, when he made his singing debut with the Jackson Five. As a result, he was deprived of a normal childhood, so he has had to compensate for that lack by indulging in an abnormal childhood since his mid-thirties. Much speculation has revolved about the name of his Neverland Ranch, and I am personally of the opinion that a lot of it is valid: he really regards himself as a modern-day Peter Pan, because he really is the “boy who never grew up”; he never had the opportunity. This in no way excuses his behavior over the past couple of decades, but it does offer an explanation of sorts. He has spent his entire life as a rich and famous celebrity, and he has undoubtedly been convinced that there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that he cannot get away with; he has been surrounded by people whose job it is to make all these troublesome situations “go away”, to shield him from the consequences of his actions. Not only did he never have the opportunity to grow up when he was a child, he has never known the need to grow up after he became an adult. The result is the tragic-comic farce of a human being we see before us today.

So I guess there is an element of Shakespearean tragedy in this story, after all. It is a common thread in all of the Bard’s tragedies that a fatal flaw in the central character’s makeup is the trigger for all of the unfortunate events that ensue, without which none of those events would have taken place. Michael Jackson’s flaw is that he never grew up. And I think it’s too late for him to start now.

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