HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Sunday, March 14, 2010

 
Beyond Helter Skelter

by tristero

About a week ago or so, in a small town somewhere in America, a horrible mass murder occurred. An entire family was brutally killed in what looked like an extremely bizarre satanic ritual. It was all the over the news. You missed it? I don't know how. It was everywhere.

And did you also miss the interview about the murders with Charles Manson? You didn't see it? Odd. His opinion was so completely unexpected it was repeated at least twice in primetime every day. He astonished the country by saying that he thought the murderers went much too far, that their bizarre deeds were, and I'm quoting Manson directly here, "out of bounds."

"Out of bounds" even for Charles Manson! That must mean those sickos did some major-league perverted stuff.

I guess you also missed the op-eds about the tragedy that name-checked Charley. Today, for example, a well-known, well-respected columnist for the New York Times:
When even the relentless pursuer of Helter Skelter is moved to call a ritualistic mass slaying “out of bounds,” as Manson did in this case, that’s a fairly good indicator that it’s way off in crazyland.
Hold it right there, dear reader.

Doesn't this strike you as all rather...odd???? Since when is Charles fucking Manson an arbiter of what passes for sensible or crazy behavior? Does that mean that if Charley approved of that mass murder, it might be a matter of debate as to whether those killings were a reasonable thing to do?

Of course not. Manson's thinking is so warped and distorted, who knows why he thought those murders, but not the ones he perpetrated, were "out of bounds?" For all we know, it may be that what really disturbed Charley was that the killers smashed some mint-condition Beach Boys singles and sprinkled them over the bodies. What a terrible thing to happen... to those priceless recordings!

It's silly to think that those deeds were too horrific "even for Charley Manson." If the media were truly serious about providing news and information, they'd have understood that simply because Charles Manson is a warped human being does not make him an expert on the relative perversity of others. Rather than pretend a murderous lunatic's opinion is the gold standard for what's beyond crazy behavior, you talk to genuine, and genuinely reasonable, experts on homicide, mass murder, and so on who can offer some serious insight and perspective on how awful a given heinous crime was. Put simply: A mass murderer is hardly a trustworthy source of opinion on the propriety of other mass murderers. Duh.

Or so one might think...

I like a lot of what Frank Rich writes, and I like a lot of this column , but the following trope making the rounds - Rich is hardly the only one to employ it - is totally outrageous::
Among those who have called out Keep America Safe for its indecent impugning of honorable Americans’ patriotism are Kenneth Starr, Lindsey Graham and former Bush administration lawyers in the conservative Federalist Society. When even the relentless pursuer of Monicagate is moved to call a right-wing jihad “out of bounds,” as Starr did in this case, that’s a fairly good indicator that it’s way off in crazyland.
Amazing! Why, Kenneth Starr's opinion of Liz Cheney's character assassinations - "out of bounds" - is identical to Manson's on those mass murderers...

Coincidence? No. I simply made up the murders and the Manson interview in order to make the point that Starr weighing in on Cheney/Kristol's latest outrage matters as little as Manson's would mean about a recent mass murder. It's not that Keep America Safe is too much even for conservatives like Starr. It's that Starr himself is so far out of bounds that his opinion on other extremists can't be used as a gauge to judge anything. (Am I being unfair to poor Kenneth Starr, comparing him to a maniacal control freak obsessed with sex and power? I'm so totally sorry):

To repeat. Starr is an extremist. That doesn't make him an expert on extremism who knows when others have gone "too far." If he were, he'd never have behaved the way he did during Whitewater. His opinion of Cheney and Kristol's latest stunt is no indication whatsoever that that they are somehow out there in crazyland "even for the right."Starr, too is so out there in crazy land, his opinion can hardly be considered reliable.

This is important: Starr said something that appeared - I stress the "appeared" - sensible. What we must remember is that this is the man who tried to persuade the president's ex-girlfriend to wear a wire into the Oval Office. By any rational standard, that was so beyond "out of bounds" as to make his objections to the extremism of others meaningless. Who knows why he really objects to the demonizing of the Gitmo lawyers? Maybe at least one of the lawyers was a close pal of his and he's standing up for a friend; otherwise he simply would have kept his trap shut. Makes sense to me.

Or maybe he confused Liz Cheney with Mary Cheney and thought Keep America Safe was some radical lesbian cooperative mandating contraceptive use by everyone. He's amply demonstrated his kinkiness when it comes to sex, after all.

Again, who knows? To say the least, Kenneth Starr's statements are hardly a reliable source in order to get a sense for how extreme others on the right is. Even when he appears to be making sense? Especially so: Something else must be going on.

Let me put it another way: If you think the reason Kenneth Starr spoke out against Cheney/Kristol is because he shares your disgust of McCarthyite smears, you need to read Conason's and Lyon's book. Starr demonstrated again and again that he has neither the slightest respect for boundaries and nor the slightest problem with McCarthyism. None. In objecting to Keep America Safe, he's just working the angles. Or he's misinformed. Me, I'm betting on the angles and I'm betting Cheney and Co. smeared a friend or two.

So, assuming it would actually be useful know such a thing, whose opinion might actually demonstrate that Liz Cheney and William Kristol's nasty little smear campaign "is a fairly good indicator that it’s way off in crazyland?" Well, rather than propagate Starr's worthless brain-burps, they could have interviewed Susan Herman, president of ACLU and given her opinion as much airtime as they did Starrs . But they didn't. In fact, they rarely quote someone sensible when the right goes "out of bounds." Case in point: Rich's column. We hear only from the crazies - Starr, Graham, Bush-admin lawyers - and they're complaining that other equally crazy people are crazy . That's not helpful.

It's as if somehow an extremist's condemnation proves that there's some mythical further-out-there-beyond-the-pale extremism. It doesn't. It means nothing besides this: liberal - ie. reasonable- voices are not taken seriously when objecting to the madness of the rightwing. In the mainstream media, only the rightwing are empowered to judge when they've gone too far.

This has got to stop. Kenneth Starr and his fellow creeps have nothing constructive to add to the national discourse on any subject whatsoever. As for the trope, "Well, even staunch movement conservatives like FILL IN THE BLANK think Cheney and Kristol have gone too far" that is a worthless construction. Reasonable people, not a roundup of exclusively movement conservatives, need to be heard from when movement conservatives go too far. They themselves are not intellectually or morally equipped to know when that has happened.

To recap:

Kenneth Starr calling Cheney/Kristols's actions "out of bounds" is no different than Charles Manson saying the same thing about a ritual murder. These are not sensible actors and their opinions are worthless for gaining any genuine insight into the relative extremism of genuinely insane behavior and/or dangerously bad social movements. Rather than accept the construction, "even the right thinks that is too extreme," we should strongly object to it. Why does their opinion matter at all? They've been wrong on everything.

The right has demonstrated time and again that they are neither honest nor coherent. Movement conservatives are in no position to judge the relative extremism of their allies and rivals within the movement and their motives for doing so are suspect. Kenneth Starr, of all people, is hardly capable, morally or intellectually, of defining a line beyond which McCarthyite tactics could be thought "out of bounds."