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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Let Us Now Chide Famous Men Persons

A number of... oh, for pete's sake, they are all men, a number of men on whom fame and fortune smiled most winsomely have died recently.
Much ink was spilled, many pixels employed first to mourn them, then to say, in at least one case, hold on, wait one mo...

Likewise, there have been a number of protests, and in some cases tantrums, of late, at honors given long ago to men long dead whom many today find not so honorable.
In the US, most of this involves honoring men who fought and died in defense of the right to hold other human beings as chattel slaves, (oh, or who were revered football coaches.)
At Oxford, it involves Cecil Rhodes, who is accused, (I can't find the details,) of "mass murder," by students who have no problem attending university on his dime, it should be noted.

One of the things I've always been drawn to in the stories of the saints is the quirks to overcome and the sins of which to repent most of them, all of them, had.
In the "great men who did bad/awful/bizarre/shady things" stakes there are those like Martin Luther Kin Jr who betrayed their wives and marriage vows, there are "freedom fighters" who are indistinguishable from terrorists like Menachem Begin, there is Wagner who was a self-centered egomaniac, there is St JP II who treated Oscar Romero with less than saintly kindness.
And speaking of saints, there was Augustine of Hippo who delighted in his transgressive nature, Thomas a Becket's whoring and roistering, "Gypsy" Mary...
For that matter, there is Blessed Theresa of Calcutta who suffered agonizingly "dry" periods, the kind of spiritual torture that non-spiritual people seem to think is evidence of some sort of hypocrisy - see! she had DOUBTS!!!!

Oddly, secular society, despite celebrating and lionizing some sins, can't wrap its mind around this. Ooh, she did something evil? he had doubts? not a saint, off with his (statue's) head!!!!
So you get the Guardian, in a piece enumerating the lapses in Mohandas Gandhi's c.v., reminding their readers, "there's no such thing as a saint."

Reading around Those Interwebs about Mahatma, I gather the details of what is claimed as proof of his feet of clay may indeed be accurate but the big picture painted thereby? very likely not.
One "writer" (although I am unsure that one can claim to be a writer and type a phrase such as, "if Hitler would of [sic] heeded Gandhi’s words") believes, like so many today, that anyone who thinks any limits should be put on sexual expression is "sex obsessed," (he betrays his own obsessions, with his gratuitous boot licking of one of the more prominent demi-gods in The Cult of Atheism's little pantheon and even more gratuitous swipe at the Church.

Why are we such seekers after all or nothing? why can't we accept that all good men have their flaws, all bad men have some redeeming characteristic?

Why can't we admire whiteout being hagiographers? criticize without seeking to wipe every previous word of praise from public discourse?
In Anhalt's screenplay from Lucienne Hill's translation of Anouilh's Becket... so i don't know who gets credit for the line.... Becket fondly chides a newly devoted disciple, about being such "a creature of excess."

Aren't we all?

Look, just LOOK at the lunatic words spilled in the wake of David Bowie's death!
I'm not the Grief Police and I'll take people at their word that others have indeed "pissed on" their mourning, telling them how they should or should not express their sorrow, but I did not see any of that.
I did see unctuous and incomprehensible tweets, and overblown encomiums that seemed to betray the principles of what should have been the tweeter's first priorities, and well as ludicrous brushing aside of mentions of the singer's pretty publicly known and acknowledged sins crimes - I had no idea that statutory rape isn't rape if the now grown victim was okay with it at the time, and that it is "condescending" to say that a victim "is entitled to believe" that she was not a victim, or that that is "brushing aside an adult woman’s agency and replacing the narrative of her own life that she knows for herself to be true" with, umm.... facts.

Thanks to a great moralist, I know that great artists don't, or maybe can't, commit "rape rape" but one wonders if, say, one of Jerry Sandusky's victims said their encounter was no big deal, or if the predator being eulogized were a priest, how different the reaction from all the Internet Tribes would be.

That being said, while a great and true point is made by writing, "it can’t be a crime when rubbish entertainers sleep with children, and all fine and dandy when great ones do," saying "one would have had to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the lush smorgasbord of lachrymosity that accompanied his death earlier this week" is a snark too far.

Because while, yeah, some of wailing and gnashing of teeth is from "the chorus of people with nothing to say, but who’ll say it anyway, for a fee," plenty of it is simply authentic expressions of emotion from people who want to share their love for the late singer and his music with the wonderful immediacy that social media now allow.

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