Analysizing Palinguage

A reader, OKJimm,  asks:

“Did you come up with the phrase “word salad”?

Alas, no. Wish I had, but I took it directly from the link in yesterday’s story about the latest Palin slaughtering of coherent thought.

I had, to be sure, heard of the phrase before, but in a medical sense.

Word salad is simply the collection of random words, put into phrases that appear to have some meaning, when actually they have, upon examination, none.  In other words it’s what Palin does all the time.

There are a number of medical illnesses that can result in this, such as dementia and schizophrenia. The person believes they are making sense, but the words, taken together, make no logical sense.

Yesterday we referred to Palin’s statement about Egypt. It would be helpful to read her remarks at length

Now, reading it, leaves you dizzy, of course. The words meander around in circles, repeating themselves, and then abruptly end in a period, somewhere, because, oh I don’t know, it just looks like a good place for one.

Let’s examine what thought if any is behind the words.

“Remember, President Reagan lived that mantra trust but verify. We want to be able to trust those who are screaming for democracy there in Egypt, that it is a true sincere desire for freedoms and the challenge that we have though, is how do we verify what it is that we are being told, what it is that the American public are being fed via media, via the protestors, via the government there in Egypt in order for us to really have some sound information to make wise decisions on what our position is.  Trust but verify, and try to understand is what I would hope our leaders are engaged in right now.

Sarah here seems to be asking how can we know what is in the mind of all these people, the protesters, the media, and the government. For some reason what we get is via the media, who get their information from the protesters, who get their information from the government. That’s what all those vias mean. Surely she is mistaken here.

What Sarah seems to be concerned about is how we process the information. Although she has also claimed that since she has a journalism degree, she is ready to help the mainstream media understand how to do their job, she seems unable to understand the concepts of critical reading and critical thinking. That is how we “understand” if this is a true “screaming” for democracy.

And if they are not screaming for democracy in a way that you think is appropriate? I mean, I know you want to know, but it’s THEIR COUNTRY.

Who’s going to fill the void?  Mubarak, he’s gone, one way or the other you know, he is not going to be the leader of Egypt, that that’s a given, so now the information needs to be gathered and understood as to who it will be that fills now the void in the government.  Is it going to be the Muslim Brotherhood?  We should not stand for that, or with that or by that.  Any radical Islamists, no that is not who we should be supporting and standing by, so we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support.”

Now Sarah wants to know how this will come out? Who will be the new leader? She assumes Mubarak will fail to retain office, apparently even in the short run, but shares no information as to why that is. She wants information gathered as to who will replace him. Does she have evidence that this is not occurring?

Shockingly of course, she throws out democratic principles of free choice by the electorate, claiming that we cannot tolerate a government run by radicals. Thus she announces the Palin Doctrine–we will not tolerate governments in the world that are not in our self-interest. Democracy apparently is only for Americans.

Again, she pleads for information.

“It’s a difficult situation, this is that 3am White House phone call and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House it it seems that that call went right to um the answering machine. And nobody yet has, no body yet has explained to the American public what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak. . .”

Sarah seems here to suggest that Obama has no information, that he was not asking questions or talking to either Egyptians in the government or from other foreign governments. Yet no facts are offered to support this otherwise snotty remark. She then suggests that she has a right to know whatever the WH knows, and she infers they know much more than they are telling. But of course, no facts to prove this inferred allegation are presented. Does she really think Obama knows who will replace Mubarak? How silly is that notion?

What she evinces is a shockingly childish understand of the world of diplomacy. Sarah seems to want to know everything we know about “them” even if it means telling what we know that they don’t know we know. But if we do that, then they might know how we know what they know that they don’t think we know, and that would be bad Sarah. Unless you are suggesting that we scrap the method of international communication in use for thousands of years, I think you should just hush here.

. . .and from DC in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt. And in these areas that are so volatile right now because obviously it’s not just Egypt but the other countries too where we are seeing uprisings, we know that now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House.  We need to know what it is that America stands for so we know who it is that America will stand with.  And we do not have all that information yet.”

Yes, we do need strength and sound mind. Yours would not be the one we would want. Again there is the inferred criticism that we don’t have that now, but nothing but innuendo is offered.

Inexplicably, she tells us that the WH? needs to explain “what it is that America stands for.” Well, yes, but I thought you were the queen of explaining the constitution and our freedoms and liberties? I thought you KNEW what America stands for? You tell everybody you do, and you tell all those who you don’t think understand. So I’m really confused now.

I thought the information about what we stand for is in our Declaration and in our Constitution? Am I wrong? Or are you hopelessly muddled once again dear girl?

Sarah, look, I know you love money and being in front of cameras. But pleeeeeeze, SHUT THE HELL UP! I mean good grief, I know the call that went to your answering service. . .the dictionary people asking for a recent photo to put next to the word–WORD SALAD.

There Oughta Be a Law!

Okay, I’m hanging on by a thread. My brains are slowly seeping out of my ears, nose and eyes. I am as paranoid as a mouse in a cat house. I am so sure that I’ve once again been transported to a new universe, that I’m ready to explore my new possibilities of flying by flapping my arms.

Can you guess why? Yes! STEVEN KING (R-IA) has opened his mouth once more and the black hole of insanity has spewed forth to cover the land. Plug your ears, cover your eyes, wrap yourself in saran wrap, and foil your brain. IDIOT MAN has struck again.

The Reaction has named him CRD (Craziest Republican of the Day). He has won this award now six times, a phenomenal feat. And what has the braincase without contents said now?

It seems our stupid one (I don’t believe he has more than a high school education) has determined that the Affordable Health Care Act is unconstitutional. Why you purr? Because, dummy, requiring people to buy insurance, based on the commerce clause, is tomfoolery. How you mutter?

“There have always been and likely will always be, babies that were born, lived and died within the jurisdictions of the individual states,” he said, “who never cross a state line, access no health care and therefore do not impact interstate commerce. Therefore, to compel someone who fits that category to buy an insurance policy” does not fit under the interstate commerce clause.

When Democratic House member Jared Polis (D-CO) invited King to produce such a person:

“You find the baby that was not born in a hospital or with a midwife, who did not receive inoculations,” Polis said. “You find that baby and identify them and I’ll be happy to have that discussion.”

King replied nonplussed:

“I hate to tell you but they show up in garbage cans around this country, sir,” he said.

I rest my case. We are no longer in the Universe we knew. We have been transported to Xanadu. Iowa has pulled its borders unto itself and seeped into a hole, never to raise its head again in civilized society. We somehow have bred the most lame-brained-still-walking- moron on what was planet Earth.

Calls to his office are unanswered as all his staff, claim they do not know him. The cock confirmed that no one in Washington has ever heard of him.

***

Meanwhile on the extreeeeeeeeeeeeeme right, the lemmings continue to go over the cliff. You may have heard that WND and various other way-way crazy right wingers decided they would boycott CPAC,  that original bastion of conservative groupings. Remember how all GOPer Presidential hopefuls made sure to attend in the past. The reason for the boycott? Why because CPAC has continued to support GOProud as one of its participating organizations, and worse they refuse to sanction a “birther” panel.  Now everyone is bailing, afraid not to look “conservative” enough. Heritage Foundation is the latest added to the list of no.

***

Okay, here’s one for ya. Do you like verbing? Ben Franklin didn’t. I confess I do a fair amount of it. I did it  the other day, quite deliberately. I said that so-and-so “portraits” so-and-so. It’s turning nouns into verbs. We “parent”. We fact-mine. Get it?

Intelligent Life discusses the issue. See what you think. Psst! Shakespeare did it.

***

You recall the piece a few days ago wherein Ms. Michele Bachmann advised that upon reading Gore Vidal’s Burr she was blinded by an epiphany of GOP logic that turned her from a flaming liberal to a crazy GOPer. Well, Mr. Vidal was asked to respond:

She is too stupid to deserve an answer.

Enuf said.

***

I’m having an awful time on some blogs these days getting it downloaded and to leave a comment. Time and again, after 15-20 minutes, I’ve just had to give up. My apologies to Lisa at That’s Why . I’ve tried twice with no success on two different days. It just never stops loading! I’ve had the same problem at WhateverWorks. Sorry to you too Mo. It’s this awful dial-up sometimes, that simply won’t work worth a damn. Now I’m having terrible troubles getting my drafts updated and saved, and when the inevitable lock-ups occur, half my work goes down the drain. Such is life.

***

To all those atheists who insist that that one is either a realist (meaning them) dependent upon evidentiary facts as the only basis of reality, or a theist who believes for no rational reason, well, it seems that there may be reason to combine the two. Most of us theists actually have believed that for a good long time, actually.

Big Questions Online asks the question: is there a quantum spirituality?

 “Physicists explore levels of matter, mystics levels of mind. What their explorations have in common is that these levels, in both cases, lie beyond ordinary sense perception.”

I find this kind of speculation most fascinating. If you do as well, then follow the link to read more.

You Said WHAT???

We had to go to town today. Catching up on all sorts of things we haven’t been able to do for two weeks. Undoing others mistakes in one case, but mostly just errands. The normal crap of life as human.

I figure that’s bad enough. I don’t care much for making all those stops and jumping in and out, standing in lines, you know the drill.

It’s much worse with a husband along I can tell ya. If we lived in the Contrarian’s world, then an alert would go out that he is “comin’ to town.” Everyone would be required to get off the road, and all establishments that he is interested in frequenting would be open and ready for his business.

Still, he would find reason to complain. It’s his nature. And he complains in a completely unique manner I have to tell ya. He mauls and utterly eviscerates the English language. I would claim that he does it intentionally, but mostly it’s just laziness. He’s too important relative to the subject of his speech, who aren’t worthy of being correctly remembered by NAME.

I can give you lots of examples. Sit back, grab a drink and listen up.

Today he told me that he had watched the British version of Antiques Roadshow. A woman, for reasons unknown, showed pictures of a dish she had prepared. It went something like this:

“She had this pie crust, in a pie plate, but not a real pie plate–it had wavy edges, but still a pie plate ya know.”

“She put these sausages in a pin wheel in the center, and then poured in this eggy stuff and baked it.”

“That would be a Quiche,” I suggested.

“No, I”m pretty sure it didn’t have the Quiche ingredient,” he propounded.

“Oh, well, the eggy stuff was in all likelihood a custard.”

“No, it was more scrambled eggs I’d say.”

“Well, when we get to the meat market, you just go right on in, and go ask them to point you to the Quiche ingredient,” I chortled. “And while you are at it, get some of that mozzerelli for a pizza.”

He smirked. “Well, you know what I meant.”

The sad thing is I do.

“Could you put proshotti in that eggy thing do ya think?” he said with all seriousness.

“You are referring to prosciutto I assume?” I replied acidly.

“Funny, funny,” he dryly intoned.

Welcome to my world. Deciphering the Contrarian.

I’m thinking that I need to start a blog called S#*! My Husband Says. You know, like the twitter guy and the new Bill Shatner show? I call him Bill because we are twitter friends, so we can be more intimate name wise.

We’ve been watching a show about the solar system, done by a nice British man who is a physicist. You cannot believe what we went through when he was describing a moon of Saturn which contained methane. The British pronounce it MEthane, instead of METHane. Lord, you would think the poor man was molesting Himalayan mountain goats.

He does that regularly, with the British. Complains that they don’t speak English properly. Coming from a man who refers to Venus and Serena Williams as the “Flytrap” sisters.

When I suggest that the British have been speaking English far longer than we, I get no traction. We Americans straightened out all those mispronunciations. No LaBORatory, but LABratory here! And we got rid of those curious q’s lurking in cheque instead of the correct spelling check. And the idiotic way they spell gaol for jail! Unbelievable.

As I said, the man has chutzpah.

Getting him started on the British can be an awful thing. Soon he is expounding on why they are driving on the wrong side of the road.

I’ve come across a recipe that I can’t wait to try this week, for Tandoori Chicken. Of course he refers to it as Chicken Teriyaki, and Chicken Tandoriev, and Chicken Tandorelli. I tell him it’s neither Japanese, nor Russian nor Italian (or as he would say Eyetalian), but INDIAN.

He then starts to shriek, “it doesn’t have curry in it does it?”

The man has never eaten curry in his life, but he is “pretty sure he wouldn’t like it.”

“No curry. Just yogurt,” I giggle, knowing the look he will give me now.

“YOGURT? You gotta be kiddin’ me. That’s like that TUFO stuff isn’t it? You can look at that stuff and know it’s not eatable.”

“NO! Yogurt is made from milk. Tofu is made from soy beans. One is a dairy product, the other is a protein. Good grief!”

“Well, as I always say, if God hadn’t wanted us to eat meat, he wouldn’t have made animals. So no TUFO curry yogurt crap for me!”

“Damn pay per view only has that stupid Siley Mirus movie on. I don’t wanna see that!”

“Yes dear, Miley Cyrus is probably not your cup of tea.”

“Hey, they are having a show of outtakes on what’s her name, woman who pulls on ear!”

“Okay, go ahead and tape Carol Burnett my sweet. That should be good for some laughs.

But then, home is a good place for laughs isn’t it?

An Island in the Storm 07/23/10

I am interested in purchasing water futures. Iowa seems poised to have a good deal more water than she needs. Since this is the upside day, we are not going to grouse about rain, but rather, focus on heavenly stuff. I know there are states that are rather desperate for water, and I figure we should get involved in exporting the stuff. Oelwein, which is northwest of here abouts, got nearly ten inches of the wet stuff yesterday.

The Wapsipinicon, the usual tepid river that flows through the hamlet of Troy Mills, is raging, and frankly flooding may be in its future. Amazing to contemplate in late July for sure. So, I’m just sayin’, if you are water challenged, send me some dough and I’ll be sure to send some H2O your way. Just make the check out to me. I’ll be sure it gets deposited to the water consortium. Oh yes I will.

I ran into this funny post this morning about atheism. Not a rant, but actually funny. So you might want to stop by and read How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Atheists. 

Probably the most prestigious religious teaching facility in the USA is the Union Theological Seminary in NYC. It’s president, Rev. Dr. Serena Jones, sent this letter to Glenn Beck. I thought it was a hoot. Hope you like it. With thanks to Telling Secrets.

I’m guessing, but that’s good enough for me, that humans separated from other life forms most specially because we yack all the time. We are wordy people. We can communicate with precision because we can move beyond grunts, cackles, screeches, and gestures. Where would we be without words? How would we think? Well at least one person thinks words inhibit us. See if you agree or not.

You can hurry on over and see the top 10 new species of 2009. Fanfare! Lights! Red carpet! Here they come down the runway. Ewwww, yuck, ugly, creepy. I think they should have remained undiscovered. I guess we have already found all the cute critters. All that’s left are the butt ugly ones.

Just thinking about Desmond Tutu brings a smile to my face. The fact that he has announced his retirement from public life is sad, but understandable. What a lovely man.

I was just thinking. What is your favorite comfort food? The one you can eat almost endlessly? For reasons that defy explanation, I realized that mine is creamy mashed taters with a big fat pat of butter melting in the well. It’s simply glorious, always, every time. The Contrarian thinks it’s sacriledge of course not to have G R A V Y with said smushed potatoes, but I think that’s gilding the lily, destroying  the fine fabric of the carbohydrative smooth silky essense of the tuber. The faint tatoey delicate flavor is lost in a crecendo of meat derived goop. I stick with buddah, none of that oleo crap either. There are no bad ways to fix taters I don’t think. ( Well maybe German pototo salad–that is ugly crap!) But this is the best.

I don’t know about you, but I do follow the blog 1,000 Awesome Things. He wrote a book now, and is rich no doubt. I skim the posts but I’m not so impressed. Makes me wonder why some blogs take off and others don’t. Makes me want to start a blog called 1,000 Shitty Things. I think I can think of 1,000. But that’s the kind of optimistic person that I am. Hope you caught the irony there. And chuckled. But I’m looking forward to the new TV show with William Shatner called “S&#T My Dad Says–from the Twitter account. That dude got seriously rich. I’m not rich. I wonder about that. And about this. And why not.

Have a smashingly wonderful and glorious lovely weekend.



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Somebody’s Gotta Know

earlyhominidOkay, perhaps I have too much time on my hands. But this issue has been bugging me for a couple of years at least, and I have never had an answer from anyone. And I’m not particularly sure where to look anyway to find an answer, other than plowing through obvious tracts on brain physiology and evolution.

You see I got the idea from watching something or other on dogs and cats and how they think. And it occurred to me, that at some point in human evolution, hominids must have faced the same issue.

The question is exactly how do you think when you have no language? Ha! bet I caught you on that one. Have you ever thought of that? Do you have time in your normal lives to even contemplate such issues? Well, for whatever it means, I seem to. I fear this disease is catching. On the road today, the Contrarian in the midst of driving on the freeway with cars and trailer trucks zooming willy nilly left and right, he pointed to the glove box and said, “why did they call it a ‘glove box’ do you think? Why not the flashlight or tool box or map box or registration box?”

Well, that set me back a step or two. Like a gnat buzzing around my ear, interfering in my life, he drops this lovely little notion into my unprotected and not prepared for combat, ears, and I have to start contemplating that instead of the fine look of the passing cornfields. But we aren’t going to discuss glove boxes so just stop thinking about it if you were.

We are discussing thinking, in general, and thinking without language in particular. Now, I am firmly aware that all of us, at least those considered sane, and those not proficient in the meditative arts, are engaged in a general conversation with self all our waking hours. We chatter about the past, rerunning any number of old films about what could have been, what should have been, what didn’t happen, what did, and what we should have said, not said, and so on. We wander around the future in the same way, playing out plans and scenarios that we hope, want, plan, expect, are afraid, will happen to us or others we care about, love, dislike, hate, wish were dead in the near, middle or far future.

We chat along, as if there were indeed two of us, all the time explaining to self what the self is drudging up in memory. It’s all quite strange and odd when you come to think about it, but we all do it, and we don’t often talk about doing it. I don’t know if we are mildly embarrassed or what. We are somewhat curious about others doing it, since on occasion, we inquire, “penny for your thoughts,” or just the mundane, “whatcha thinkin’ about?”

Anyway, we spend a lot of time, and goodness knows how many words we might utter in this silent talk, if they were all written down. I’m rather surprised no one has done a dissertation on that, but of course, maybe they have. Given the output of the planet in terms of written material, I can hardly be expected to keep up with it all. It’s hard enough to keep track of the grocery list most weeks as it is.

So, there was a time before language. That seems obvious. Chimps don’t have a verbal language, and neither do the apes. We have a common ancestor, and we once were even more like them than we still are, so language developed from grunts and pointing, to grunts that had lilts and drops and became at some point multi-syllabic I assume. I assume, since I’m way too lazy to look all this stuff up. That’s what blogs are about, I trust somebody out there knows and can save me the trouble!

Anyway, when Oscar, (the hominid) had put the kid to bed in the cave, and the wife was tidying up the campfire, and Oscar was burping from a fine meal of mastodon, or cave lion, picking his teeth with a stick, and looking up into the night sky, he starts to wonder what that big old pock-marked grey thing is up there. How exactly does he contemplate it? How does he wonder? How does that conversation go with no words?

This drives me nuts to think of actually, since I spend some time every day, doing my darnedness to stop the yackety-yack of my head so I can ummmm, reach a higher plane of “being.”  Inquiring minds want to know!

The best answer I’ve come up with is what I came up with for dogs and other less intellectually stellar creatures, namely that their heads are filled with pictures, that flash one after the other. Now with animals it may function crudely enough that they can’t string them together in long “movies” if you will. Which is why animals seem easily distracted into new pursuits so readily. Perhaps we can string pictures together in our mind that tells a story of sorts, and is akin to “thinking.”

How else do we “figure” out how to shape a cutting tool, or a spear or throwing spear? We must be able to control the sequence of pictures in some coherent manner than allows us to progress in “thinking” through a  difficult problem with  some degree of sophistication. Anyway, the more I think of it, the more my head hurts. If you have an answer, why I’d be happy to hear it.

By the by, in closing lets go to something completely different: I’m wondering what you like, dislike, would like more of, less of on this blog. I write first for me, but also because I think some of you enjoy reading. Too much churchy stuff, not enough? More politics? More humorous nonsense like this post? More reviews of the news today? Something else you’d like to see? Can’t say as I’ll comply, because of course this is a personal thing first and foremost, but I’ll consider ideas certainly with great interest. Let me know!

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Stuck on Words

words

 

 

 

 

I ran across an article in the NYTimes today, that caught my eye.  (Isn’t that an odd remark though? I don’t want anything really to catch my eye. It sounds like it would hurt!) I digress again.

The Times  has an embedded gizmo that when you hover over a word, it hyperlinks it to the dictionary and you can see what it means. Some higher-ups in the organization figured it might be interested to know what words people were looking up.

This makes sense to me, since who wants to use words that your readers don’t know? I assume people can give up and go elsewhere, particularly when there are so  many elsewheres to go to on the Internet.

I looked at the list of words, which can be found here, and well, I have to say, I didn’t actually know the meaning of a good many of them. I have seen most of them in print before, but if asked, I couldn’t give a very good definition.

That raises two big issues for me. Why do I apparently read so many words, not really knowing what they mean without bothering to look them up? That is a deep failing on my part, to be sure. I can of course come up with plenty of excuses. One doesn’t always have a dictionary at hand, I’m too busy sometimes, I have a good idea from the context? (usually wrong I find), and well, got an hour? I can come up with more.

For instance as to context. I have seen the word laconic hundreds of times. I actually thought it meant lazy, drowsy, uninterested, something like that.It certainly soundslike a word that would be lazy doesn’t it. It kinda falls off the lips in a languid late summery kind of way. It actually means “concise.” Who would have thought. Like law, things are not always, or even usually what they sound like, look like, or logically should be.

The second thing I realized is that, although I read more than say the average person, (I figure I do at least), and I write a good three thousand words a day between posting, commenting and so on, I have a rather abysmal command over all of the language. I mean, I seriously didn’t do well at defining most of these words.

A few weeks ago, the Contrarian and I watched the finals of the kids spelling bee. We had never watched before, and it was amusing and rather amazing to watch these kids spell truly awful words, almost all of which I had never heard. I learned that they learn not only thousands of these obscure words but they also are experts at language, original languages, word structure, and all that goes into building words. The area is called I believe, linguistics, LIN GUIS TICS.

I had actually learned a bit of that in thinking at one time I might like to be a medical transcriber. You learn root words and then it’s often pretty easy to figure out what a word means.  You just break it into its constituent parts.

Still, it didn’t occur to me frankly that I was so word stupid. Now if someone like me, who writes reasonably coherently, with something a bit beyond the “Dick meets Jane” vocabulary, is really fairly wordless, then what does this say about the state of English in America at large?

Especially so, when we face the onslaught of “twittering” and “texting?” This says nothing at all of those old standbys “black English” and probably other ethnic “sub languages” that are prevalent in our larger cities. Are we facing the demise of English as we know it?

I don’t know, and I further don’t know if it really matters or not. If we can communicate in the manner necessary to get our point across, then perhaps it doesn’t. I would argue that the plethora of words at our disposal is intended, at least in part, to make available to us a precision in statement. No doubt in diplomatic circles, business, medicine and physics, to name a few, such precision is essential. It might literally mean the difference between life and death. As to whether I need it to chat with a friend over coffee, not so much.

I guess what is troubling is how this wordiness is acquired. It doesn’t seem to come with the “territory” of writing. I can testify that it doesn’t come with “reading the dictionary” either. The Contrarian professes that he did just that as a young man, and well, he can’t spell at all, and doesn’t seem to use especially confounding terms either.

So, are all you users of “big words” people, who wear out dictionaries surreptitiously looking up words, doing it to astound and piss off the rest of us? Again, I have no clue. Sorry, I not being at all laconic here am I? (*smirk*)

So if you have a clue how I got so dull in the word world, please give it to me. I would dearly love to know. Perhaps I’m just sui generis, who knows. Or perhaps I’m more of a abstruse individual. In any case, I’m——

stumped

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Just Ordinary Words

JesusweptI’ve been kicking around a couple of ideas for the past twenty-four hours, trying to conflate them into one post. It isn’t working, unless I write a couple of thousand words, and that violates most known rules of blogging. So, I’ll spare you a tome and split the two.

A few days ago, I posted about the death of Dr. George Tiller. I offered the hypothesis that the inflammatory words offered by some, make them at least morally responsible for the actions of their listeners. Most “liberals” seemed to agree, most “conservatives” seemed to feel otherwise.

Worse, this issue was raised by others on a forum. For the first five or so comments, the same sense of sadness and outrage was expressed. Then came the “call me what you will, he got what he deserved” post, and the gates burst open. What followed was a barrage of ugly “we reap what we sow,” “murderous, bloodthirsty, killer,” “residing in hell for eternity, meeting all the dead babies he killed so mercilessly” and on and on.

Throughout was strewn the usual “I don’t condone,” “it was wrong,” “I hope he had time to repent,” rhetoric all followed with “but. . . ” and then one of the self-righteous remarks from the paragraph above. Of course they don’t really mean any of this stuff about “I hope he had time to repent.” They don’t of course hope that at all. They hope, want, and are mostly sure that he is in hell and that’s where they think he belongs.

These are Christians, or so they claim. One woman said, “I shall not shed a tear.” I remarked, “If a Christian cannot find it in themselves to shed a tear over the killing of another human being, then what are we to say to the non-believer whom some say can have no moral compass in the first place?”  Of course I got no reply.

My argument there, the same as expressed here, was met with mostly derision. I was aligned, by a number of the religious right, with Hitler and the death camps, masters who mercilessly beat slaves, Muslim fathers who murdered daughters who were unchaste, and any other horror that came to mind. We “pro-abortionists” were as inhuman as the above.

No way they were morally accountable. They but “spoke the truth” as God most clearly told them to. Legalities cannot stand in the way, nor can stupid juries who can’t see the truth. The man was an inhuman waste, and fuzzy liberal feel-good sympathy was just the sort of thing that hampered the “cause.”

I often think that types such as this don’t often read the Bible. They of course say they do, but it seems they only know the parts that give them, through their selective interpretation, the permission they desire to think what they think, hate whom they hate, and do what they do. The rest, well, it’s that liberal fuzzy feel-good stuff. First we got to shape up the ship, separate the chaff from the wheat, wreak all that vengeance upon an evil world.

In this they always claim to speak for God. Given what I know of the bible, I find little solid ground upon which to base any conclusion that would give me the comfort to “speak” for God. And I’m not sure it’s not a bit presumptuous to do so in the first place. The only theme I get, and really get again and again, is that Jesus said that God was love, and the most important thing we can and should remember is to love God and to love neighbor. Somehow that “love the neighbor” thing seems to be a major impediment.

It doesn’t say “love the neighbor you think is worth loving.” It pretty much is absolute, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. And I don’t think it means, say the words in your mind, all the while telling your neighbor he’s a good for nothing sinful piece of crap.

I think, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, that I am to love my neighbor as myself. Because, dang, much as I try, I’m a sinful person still. My neighbor undoubtedly is too. And no where do I find a test or method by which I can separate some sinful neighbors from others as worthy of my love. We all share sinfulness, and we honestly have no clue how God views it all. “

I have my view. To me, God upholds our goodness, sees only that in us, and encourages that. He weeps at our failings, and comforts us. That is what forgiveness is all about isn’t it? Isn’t that they most wonderful way to encourage us to do better? Well I may be wrong. Certainly my extreme right wing Christians tell me that all the time.

But it seems to me, that if you want to change a situation, you don’t engage in divisive language. You don’t harden hearts. You don’t inflame mentally deranged individuals to destroy lives. This cannot be what God wants. It is not fuzzy liberalism to mourn the death of a human, no matter how sinful we may privately feel he or she might be. It is our small and meagre attempt to mimic our Lord, if we are religious. If we are not, it is our human attempt to recognize the human condition is not perfect and that we all share in our successes and failures and are responsible for each other as a species.

So I’m sad. Sad that those I would look to to uphold this as the tragedy it was, are sadly absent from the scene. I trust, however that they are but a minority of those of faith. I trust that most people of faith see this event as the ugly horror that it was. Words matter, and if we are ever to heal our many wounds, we must learn the language of love, forgiveness, empathy, and compassion.

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