“Her name was Asia. His was Europe. Her name was silence. His was power. Her name was poverty. His was wealth. Her name was Her, but what was hers? His name was His, and he presumed everything was his, including her, and he thought he could take her without asking and without consequences”—Rebecca Solnit (Columnist for The Nation)
There’s so much absolutely inspiring music out there, sounds that can spark a revolution of change within yourself, be it a change in thought or lifestyle, it can medicate anxiety or invoke repressed feelings you have for someone. Music in its essence can do wondrous things. The goal, is not to find what you are content with, but to find what will inspire you everyday, something that drives you and moves within you. To think that you are experiencing this as a whole by listening to the radio or ‘indie’ music is foolish. These are but titles, names given to better organize an industry. Music is hidden all around us, next time you drive in the city roll down the windows to hear the city, listen to fireworks at the next celebration of whatever it is your town might be celebrating, hear the echoes of the thunder outside your window or the kids playing in the street. These are ambient sounds we overlook everyday, but these are sounds that no government, no corporation could ever tax or sell. That in it’s own is beauty. Don’t take those for granted.
Damon Fowler sent an e-mail to his school superintendent asking for a sectarian prayer not to be imposed during graduation as it is a violation of Louisiana state law. He stated that he would contact the ACLU if he was ignored and the school backed down.
According to the post on reddit, he is now receiving death threats and threats of bodily harm if he attends his graduation, and is basically being ostracized in his community.
So much for the teachings of Jesus Christ… this kind of shit makes me sick. If I lived close enough, I would love to get a group together to attend with him and form a human shield around him. This is bullshit that in the 21st fucking century someone who speaks out against a violation of state law is receiving death threats for standing up for his rights.
“I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”—Newt Gingrich
A lot of people have been reading and commenting today; I really appreciate all of your thoughts and that you’ve taken the time to share them with me and with other people across several social networking platforms.
Given some of your comments, I thought it important to write up a clarification about the crux of my argument about the death of Osama Bin Laden: the argument I’m making isn’t about whether or not it’s ever appropriate to kill anyone. For one version of that argument, see Judah Oudshoorn’s blog; he argues the following:
(1) Killing is not a helpful form of justice. It doesn’t lead to peace.
(2) It is important to separate out catching people who use terrorism from killing them. Let’s celebrate the former but not the latter and be clear about it.
There’s nothing wrong with taking this position, as far as I can tell (though catching Bin Laden and other terrorists was clearly more difficult than we thought it might be nine years ago); it simply isn’t the position that I hold. My position is that killing and justice aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but the kind of killing likely matters a good deal. In my original post, I made some comparisons between capital punishment and the killing of Bin Laden; I don’t equate the two, however. What I intended for readers to take away was the similarity in the reaction of ordinary Americans to killing of that kind.
My message, ultimately, was that all of our triumphalism about justice isn’t much more than a very thin veneer covering our real feelings about getting our revenge on someone who hurt us.
That said, there’s a real difference between capital punishment and the military operation that ended Bin Laden’s life; both result in executions, one judicial and one extra-judicial, but the latter (however morally problematic assassination might be) seems potentially morally permissible to me whereas the former does not.
That is, I frequently argue in opposition to a capital punishment system that takes a person out of a cage to poison him to death, but I won’t say the same here of the Bin Laden execution. In the latter case, until he was either captured or killed, Bin Laden was a self-declared enemy of the United States; he had put considerable time, effort, and resources into attacking American civilians and military targets.
In any war, people will die. We might all think this is a terrible outcome and we might do whatever we can to minimize the loss of life, but we ought not to be so naive as to suggest that the only answer to any situation is pacifism. As I’ve said in the past, I recognize times when the legitimate use of force can be brought to bear and, while loss of life might occur, we can’t say that an obvious or necessary injustice has occurred. It seems to me that the same can’t be said of capital punishment: we are safe from the criminals locked away on our death rows in a way that we were not safe from Osama Bin Laden; he was intent on attacking us and he might have done so.
My objection is not to the killing of Bin Laden — as I said at both the outset and the conclusion of my original post — so much as with the reaction that so many have had to it. I maintain that no matter whether we acted properly or improperly in killing someone, we ought not to sing, cheer, or wave flags to celebrate the justice of our actions. Just as with capital punishment, this death was in revenge for a terrible crime perpetrated against us. Unlike capital punishment, it might also have been a legitimate military operation against a dangerous combatant. In either case, my sense is that people have clearly mistaken vengeance for justice when they spill into the streets and cheer about an execution as if their hometown team just won the World Series.
No one cheers when justice is done. Justice, more often than not, is the necessary (and proper) conclusion to a series of unhappy incidents.
If only those thousands celebrating in the streets took the time to read this…