Caught in the crossfire: Symbolic details in Beslan massacre

allah-akbarThe power is back on here in West Palm Beach (or at least in our neighborhood) and the flood waters are receding — only to be replaced by a flood of email and news. I hardly know where to begin, especially on the hellish reality that has emerged in Beslan.

Most of the mainstream news coverage has emphasized the ongoing nature of the conflict between the Chechens and the Russian government. It is true that the politics of the situation are absolutely Balkan. Nevertheless, I am haunted by a few articles that have focused on the debate among Muslims about this bloodbath and the tactics behind it.

This raises a familiar issue here at GetReligion: To what degree are terrorism stories political? To what degree are they religious?

While U.S. media are stressing the political side of the equation — with a few exceptions — media in England have openly addressed the religious questions behind this carefully planned massacre of children. But let’s start with the New York Times, which did report a controversial detail from one of the victims:

“The terrorists ran in yelling, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ ” said Asamaz Bekoyev, 11, who escaped with his mother and brother and lay in his bed on Saturday at his grandmother’s house, being treated for cuts and minor burns.

At this point, no translation is needed.

It seems that the whole world knows what it means when armed men run into the public square shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” or Allah is great. (This is the script in the painting above.) It means that many people are going to die — soon.

This reality infuriates Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, the general manager of Al-Arabiya news channel, who poured out his anger in a column in the pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. It was then published in the Telegraph. This is one of those cases where a Muslim commentator is allowed to say what others cannot say:

It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.

The hostage-takers of children in Beslan, North Ossetia, were Muslims. The other hostage-takers and subsequent murderers of the Nepalese chefs and workers in Iraq were also Muslims. Those involved in rape and murder in Darfur, Sudan, are Muslims, with other Muslims chosen to be their victims. Those responsible for the attacks on residential towers in Riyadh and Khobar were Muslims. The two women who crashed two airliners last week were also Muslims.

Bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world, were Muslim. What a pathetic record. What an abominable “achievement”. Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies and our culture?

When you add all of this up, it has created a horrific image of a faith that has been seized by what he calls “Neo-Muslims.” Ultimately, the only people who will be able to wrest Islam away from these terrorists are other Muslims. This certainly seems to be the case in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, where it is clear that the worst acts of terror will now be focused on Muslims who in any way seek to embrace the freedoms of the West (and Christian Arabs who symbolize another ancient approach to “infidel” life).

Continuing with the quote from the Telegraph:

We can’t call those who take schoolchildren as hostages our own. We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists, murder civilians, explode buses; we cannot accept them as related to us, whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal deeds. These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained its image.

We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women.

This angry voice is not alone. Here is another quote along the same lines, featured in an Associated Press report by Maggie Michael that rounded up a host of Arab media viewpoints on the slaughter in the Russian school. The terrorists in Russia are, ultimately, harming Islam more than they are fighting for nationalism, or an Islamic state, according to Egyptian Ahmed Bahgat, writing in Egypt’s pro-government newspaper, Al-Ahram.

“If all the enemies of Islam united together and decided to harm it … they wouldn’t have ruined and harmed its image as much as the sons of Islam have done by their stupidity, miscalculations, and misunderstanding of the nature of this age,” Bahgat wrote. The horrifying images of the dead and wounded Russian students “showed Muslims as monsters who are fed by the blood of children and the pain of their families.”

But as Abdel Rahman al-Rashed noted, the problem is that there is no unified Islamic voice rejecting the actions of the terrorists. As the Beslan horrors unfolded, one extremist based in England said just the opposite. If the cause was just, it would be appropriate to bring the same tactics to England. Here is the opening of a report by Rajeev Syal in the Sunday Telegraph:

An extremist Islamic cleric based in Britain said yesterday that he would support hostage-taking at British schools if carried out by terrorists with a just cause. Omar Bakri Mohammed, the spiritual leader of the extremist sect al-Muhajiroun, said that holding women and children hostage would be a reasonable course of action for a Muslim who has suffered under British rule. …

“If an Iraqi Muslim carried out an attack like that in Britain, it would be justified because Britain has carried out acts of terrorism in Iraq. As long as the Iraqi did not deliberately kill women and children, and they were killed in the crossfire, that would be okay.”

The bottom line: Who gets to define “in the crossfire”?

Try to square that statement with the opening of a major feature story in the Sunday Mirror.

The details of this report by Euan Stretch are almost too much to endure. The headline was bad enough — “They Knifed Babies, they Raped Girls.” I apologize for using such large block quotations from these reports. But sometimes, you just need to read the coverage for yourself.

… Scores of the 323 who died — including many children — had been shot in the back. While despairing soldiers and rescue workers moved among the growing pile of body bags, it was revealed that an 18-month-old baby had been repeatedly stabbed by a black-clad terrorist who had run out of ammunition.

Other survivors told how screaming teenage girls were dragged into rooms adjoining the gymnasium where they were being held and raped by their Chechen captors who chillingly made a video film of their appalling exploits.

This certainly does not sound like “crossfire,” does it?

This raises a question that makes journalists (me included) very nervous when covering this kind of nightmare. Should the news media do more to cover the religious elements of these events and the moral, even theological, debates they inspire?

How can we say “no”? Let me stresss that I believe that we need to cover this side of the terrorism story in order to defend the rights of moderate Muslims to speak out.

However, after sifting (post-hurricane) through waves of coverage of the Beslan massacre, it seems clear to me that many journalists have been afraid to write about the religious elements of this story.

To test this, just go to Google News and search for “Beslan” and “Allahu Akhbar.” You will not find much in the way of details — although some news organizations are at least quoting the victims.

It seems to me that the chants of the terrorists are a symbolic detail worth reporting — unless this damning detail can now be assumed. If that is the case, then I cannot imagine a more hateful and condescending slap at Islam by reporters than this attitude of cynicism.

Why bother to report that the murderers chanted “Allah is great”? They all do, don’t they? This is news?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a very long post and it really needs one or more pieces of art to go with it. But we have a problem, one shared with many news-related blogs that do not have art budgets. We are dependent on finding digital illustrations that are not under copyright. Thus, the more newsworthy and specific the story, the harder it is to find art that is relevant, but not produced by a news agency for its own use. Any suggestions out there on how to deal with this problem?

Print Friendly

Theodicy on the radio

rowan-williamsThe Archbishop of Canterbury sat Saturday morning for an 11-minute interview (requires RealAudio) with John Humphrys of the BBC about the school massacre in Beslan, Russia. Humphrys asked tough questions the entire time (hat tip: Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans).

Their conversation is an amazingly detailed dialogue about evil, the nature of free will and what it all means for a Christian’s faith. A key excerpt:

In a world in which human decisions are free, even free for the most appalling evil like this, God does not dictate, intervene for outcomes.

Human decisions are free.

Human decisions are free.

Not for the children they weren’t, were they?

The children were held captive. The decisions were being made by others. And that’s how power works in the world, of course, that some are enslaved by the decisions of others.

So when Christianity talks about free will, what it actually means is power.

It means the ability to make a difference in a situation. Now that also means the difference — the ability, tragically — to use others in the way that these terrorists were attempting to use those children. I suppose the sense that we all have that some kind of line has been crossed here is the almost impossibility of imagining how people can not only calculate that the death of children will serve their purpose but actually to sit with suffering children for days, watching that in a calculating way. And that’s the kind of decision that, yes, you have to call evil.

In condemning the terrorists’ actions, Williams cites not only Jesus’ words about the judgment that will come to those who harm children (Matt. 18:6), but also cites the Qur’an’s warning that “Allah does not love people who overstep the limits” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 87).

The interview is a model of how a religious leader can, amid the most horrifying circumstances, speak on behalf of God’s love and justice.

Print Friendly

Qualifying a bishop's words

JonBrunoI’ve sometimes covered the same events as Larry Stammer of the Los Angeles Times, and I’ve found him unfailingly soft-spoken and courteous — especially at press conferences, which so often bring out some reporters’ tendencies toward preening arguments posing as questions.

It’s distracting, then, to see Stammer using the “what he sees as” qualifier in his profiles of Bishop Jon J. Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles (left) and Archbishop Henry Orombi of the Church of Uganda (below, with his wife, Phoebe). Three congregations in Bruno’s diocese have renounced Bruno as their bishop and accepted Orombi’s offer of refuge. Both Bruno and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold have decried Orombi’s action as intrusive and illegal.

You’re probably familiar with the “what he sees as” construction, in which a reporter notes that a subject sees something in a way that someone else would see differently. It can imply that a person is eccentric, if not detached from reality. A reporter could qualify virtually any belief this way, but I’ll admit to seeing it as a label applied more often to conservatives than to others. Throughout the 1990s, the church-owned Episcopal News Service so often favored the phrase “what conservatives see as the church’s drift toward liberalism” that I figured ENS must have stored those words as a word-processing macro.

I’ve almost certainly used the device at some point in my career, and let me repent now in case anyone turns up some damning proof. I Googled for it myself, but my admittedly cursory search turned up nothing.

Here are examples of the form in Stammer’s profiles:

In the last two weeks, three conservative parishes in his six-county Los Angeles diocese had left the Episcopal Church, alienated by what they said was their church’s drift toward heresy and wrongful affirmation of homosexuality.

. . . Orombi, 55, has a reputation for two things: welcoming refugees from the civil war and ethnic strife in neighboring Congo and preaching fiery sermons against what he sees as the Episcopal Church’s fall from historic Christian teachings.

Compare this with Stammer’s characterization of a cornerstone in Bruno’s teaching:

For conservatives, those issues have become a test of fidelity to biblical tradition. To Bruno, they test something equally important: Christ’s message of inclusion.

(Christ’s message of absolute inclusion would have been news to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who could not have felt very included when Jesus called them a brood of vipers; see Matt. 12:34.)

OrombisStammer’s profiles of both bishops include good details — such as Bruno’s saying of himself, “I am one of the most Christo-centric men in this world,” and Orombi’s perspective on keeping faith with the apostles: “There is a tradition on human sexuality that was passed to us by the apostles, and if we’re an apostolic church, how come the Episcopal Church claims they are better than St. Paul?”

Another difference in how Stammer describes the two bishops: the gentle Bruno is disturbed “in the predawn stillness” and must force himself back to sleep, but Orombi has brought “evangelical intensity to his denunciations of the American church.” The deck headline says Orombi “berates the American church.” One could come away with the impression that Orombi is personally responsible for disrupting Bruno’s circadian rhythm.

Nevertheless, Stammer closes his profile of Orombi with a deft contrast in how the two bishops describe reconciliation:

Speaking of the three breakaway parishes, Bruno said, “I will have my hands open to welcome them back anytime they choose to come. I hope they’ll make that decision. I hope they’ll move back toward this reconciliation.”

Orombi spoke of the entire American church. “There is an opportunity to repent and come back,” he said. “There’s always an opportunity if you injure your brothers to say, ‘I am really, really sorry.’ If this is not going to happen in the Anglican Communion, this fragmentation is inevitable.”

Print Friendly

The perks of "breeders"

pregnantIt’s one thing for prolifers to believe this, but quite another to hear it from a writer whose heart is with the prochoice side: The future belongs to the fecund.

That’s the conclusion of pundit James Pinkerton, writing for Tech Central Station about a Planned Parenthood fundraiser featuring Lou Reed and several other celebrities. Pinkerton’s essay is a mix of on-site reporting and trend-spotting.

First he notices that some prolife protesters don’t fit the expected profile:

Politely penned up by watching cops, the peaceful and proper sign-holders weren’t a bunch of little old ladies from Dubuque or Pasadena; they were mostly young, mostly female, mostly non-white. Amidst the familiar messages — “Planned Parenthood Kills” and “It’s a crime that a child must die, so you can live as you wish” — were other signs that were in themselves a sign of the times: “Pro vida, sin excepciones.”

He soon gets down to numbers-crunching:

The basic freedoms guaranteed by Roe are still intact, to be sure, but as both sides in the debate argue, just one more anti-Roe justice on the Supreme Court could reverse that ruling.

So what happened? I think a lot of the answer can be found in birth-rate differentials — demography is destiny. To put it bluntly, in the name of “empowerment,” the Left has birth-controlled, aborted, and maybe also gay-libbed itself into a smaller role in American society. Yes, it was their personal-is-political choice, but others will benefit politically. We might consider, as just one example, what’s happened to New York City. In 1973, the Big Apple had a population of about eight million; the population of the United States overall was 211 million. In 2004, the Apple was still at around eight million, but the country’s population, in the meantime, had increased by nearly two-fifths. It’s not automatically a bad thing for a population to stay stagnant — unless, of course, the goal is to wield power through the ballot box.

The heart of his essay, at least for GetReligion, comes when Pinkerton considers the work of Charles Galton Darwin, grandson of Charles and the author of a Malthusian text called The Next Million Years (1952):

And so the more recent Darwin offered a grim prediction: the future of the world belongs to illiberal religions. Or, if you prefer, conservative religions, including not only Christianity, but also Islam and Hinduism. How come? Because those faiths that emphasize traditionalism, including traditional sex roles, are more likely to be procreative. In modern countries, feminists are free to be feminists, but if they don’t have feminist children — which is to say, boys and girls who sustain the “free to be . . . you and me” philosophy — then the politics of the future will be shaped by those hands that do, in fact, rock the cradle — after putting a baby inside.

Print Friendly

The GOP's in-house comic

stine_bricksBrad Stine landed the gig, sort of. The conservative and Christian comedian, who really wanted to perform at the Republican National Convention, didn’t win the same billing as Michael W. Smith or Third Day, but NPR’s Talk of the Nation mentions that he performed at “R: The Party,” hosted by the hard-partying Bush twins (click here for Talk of the Nation‘s interview, which lasts just over three minutes).

A radio actualities page on the convention website describes him as “Brad Stein, Convention Comedian” (click here for Stine’s one-minute paean to George W. Bush).

The GOP convention is not the first venue to botch Stine’s name. In an interview on Thursday with Terry Gross of Fresh Air, Stine joked about people who confuse him with Ben Stein, the former Nixon speechwriter, harried teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and egghead host of the campy game show Win Ben Stein’s Money. When Gross said his name “sounded so Jewish,” Stine talked about wishing he could be Jewish (or left-handed). Perhaps most amazing of all, Stine managed to make Gross — not your typical patron of Christian-subculture comedy — laugh several times.

If Stine finally realizes his dream of performing on The Tonight Show, he may have to drop his career-defining complaint about being held back because of his faith and his hairy-chested patriotism.

Print Friendly

Watch the conscience clause: GOP ready for pro-choice era?

fetus_gopWhile I hesitate to jump-start the no-way-to-win debate about abortion opinion polls, I owe it to people on both sides of that stat fight to pass along a Newsweek article by Karen Fragala entitled “A Fight for the GOP’s ‘Heart and Soul.’ ” It includes this amazing summary:

The GOP’s largest pro-choice advocacy group, the Republican Majority for Choice (RMC), was a chief proponent of the new language in the platform preamble and regards the change as a small step in the right direction. Far from viewing itself as a renegade faction, the RMC touts a recent American Viewpoint poll that found that 73 percent of Republicans claim to be pro-choice. The organization says it is an outspoken minority that has overwhelmed those voices and established the party’s agenda.

This a fascinating statement, but ultimately meaningless — because it does not include the language of the poll question these Republicans were answering. Does “pro-choice” mean that they do not favor overthrowing Roe? Does it mean that they do not want a total ban, but support restrictions after viability? Stripped of this language, the figure is meaningless — except to say that the GOP is not a party united in its defense of the unborn.

So this would mean that 27 percent or so of God’s Own Party is “pro-life,” contrasted with what percentage of the Democrats? You might recall the fairly recent Zogby International poll indicating that 43 percent of Democrats agreed with the statement that abortion “destroys a human life and is manslaughter.” And 78 percent of Hispanics agreed that abortions should be outlawed. These numbers are hard to deal with, but much better than the totally vague Newsweek number.

So 43 percent of Democrats are pro-life, but only 27 percent of Republicans? Whatever. As I wrote a week or so ago, this just shows you the degree to which the great middle of American voters are defined by the questions they are asked, as much or more than the answers they give. Journalists must give us the information to know how to judge these statistics.

Meanwhile, there are interesting developments in the two party platforms. You may recall that the Democrats’ 2000 platform said their party is “a party of inclusion. We respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue, and we welcome all our members to participate at every level of our party.” Then the 2004 platform replaces this conscience clause with a statement that Democrats “stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine” abortion rights.

Now, the Republican Majority for Choice lobby is hailing a change in the 2004 GOP platform preamble, which now calls on Republicans to “accept and respect” each other’s divergent views on social issues. Thus, that Newsweek Q&A with RMC executive director Kellie Rose Ferguson gladly proclaims:

The pro-choice position is certainly the Republican position. Our core beliefs are limited government, personal responsibility and individual freedom. That’s the Republican base. The party has strayed a bit from that, and we’re doing everything we can to bring it back.

Do you envision a shift in the next few years toward a more libertarian stance in the Republican Party regarding social issues?

We certainly hope so. The party leadership is understanding that moderates are a key voting bloc and that to win elections, you need to turn out the moderate base, specifically in key states. We respect the president’s personal views on these issues, but we don’t think his personal views should be turned into policy issues for the country.

So the question is whether the Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudolph Giuliani, Andrew Sullivan party will continue to rise with the tide of mass media and the splintering of mainline and even evangelical Protestantism. This is a political stance that even plays well in prime time on Fox News.

Meanwhile, President Bush did include what some might call a “James Dobson” passage in his acceptance speech. But note the lack of specifics in this text:

Because family and work are sources of stability and dignity, I support welfare reform that strengthens family and requires work. Because a caring society will value its weakest members, we must make a place for the unborn child. Because religious charities provide a safety net of mercy and compassion, our government must never discriminate against them. Because the union of a man and woman deserves an honored place in our society, I support the protection of marriage against activist judges. …

My opponent recently announced that he is the candidate of “conservative values,” which must have come as a surprise to a lot of his supporters. Now, there are some problems with this claim. If you say the heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood, I’m afraid you are not the candidate of conservative values. If you voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate of conservative values. If you gave a speech, as my opponent did, calling the Reagan presidency eight years of “moral darkness,” then you may be a lot of things, but the candidate of conservative values is not one of them.

Thus, the leader of the far, far right — to read the “moderates” who favor abortion on demand — is now vague on abortion and somewhat specific on the definition of marriage. Perhaps that is a poll-data thing. Nevertheless, this language was still too much for Sullivan, as a “moderate.”

I CANNOT SUPPORT HIM IN NOVEMBER: I will add one thing more. And that is the personal sadness I feel that this president who praises freedom wishes to take it away from a whole group of Americans who might otherwise support many parts of his agenda. To see the second family tableau with one family member missing because of her sexual orientation pains me to the core. And the president made it clear that discriminating against gay people, keeping them from full civic dignity and equality, is now a core value for him and his party. The opposite is a core value for me. Some things you can trade away. Some things you can compromise on. Some things you can give any politician a pass on. But there are other values — of basic human dignity and equality — that cannot be sacrificed without losing your integrity itself. That’s why, despite my deep admiration for some of what this president has done to defeat terror, and my affection for him as a human being, I cannot support his candidacy. Not only would I be abandoning the small government conservatism I hold dear, and the hope of freedom at home as well as abroad, I would be betraying the people I love. And that I won’t do.

Print Friendly

So little time to write, here in the path of the storm

FrancesBelieve me, there are all kinds of things I would like to write about these days on this here blog.

Let me give you an example.

* I have long thought that if you wanted to understand where a man is really coming from, if helps to pay attention to the life and beliefs of his wife and children. President Ronald Reagan leaps to mind, along with his administration’s very mixed track record on moral and cultural issues. With that in mind, I have wanted to pause and write a bit about the performance of the Bush twins the other night. Do you think the religious right folks are chatting that up these days?

Here’s one of the best takes on that disaster, drawn from John Podhoretz at the New York Post. The evening included sublime moments for the political right, and then:

The ridiculous — politically, culturally and sociologically speaking — was the joint address by the Bush twins. In their debut on the political stage, they acted not like the daughters and granddaughters of two presidents, but like aspiring contestants on an MTV Spring Break dating show. I’m surprised they didn’t come out wearing wet T-shirts.

* I could write about that, but there isn’t really time. I could even find a way to link that story to the latest Britney news. It seems that THE WEDDING will be Catholic, not Kabbalah. What will her Southern Baptist parents say?

* I have also wanted to comment on another AP Stylebook issue that is sort of in the news. When a married man is accused of seeking gay sex, why do people say this proves he is gay — instead of bisexual? I mean, even the Kinsey Report said human sexuality is a spectrum of behaviors and, in many cases, not a matter of either-or. Is bisexuality a tougher legal sell these days? Just asking.

* Yes, I could write about that, but there’s just no time at the moment. And what about all of those Contemporary Christian Music stars at the Republican National Convention? The Democrats have real music stars and the Republicans have niche-market stars. Something tells me that this is not a fair fight, in terms of star power. But a born-again Alice Cooper gig sponsored by the Family Research Council would be cool. Don’t you think?

* And then there was that Zell Miller speech, a vivid reminder of life in the Democratic Party before pro-life, culturally conservative politicians were banned from public events. Wasn’t it fascinating that the most overtly religious speech in prime time at the GOP rally was given by a Democrat?

Anyone who wants to remember what the Southern half of the old FDR-Truman coalition used to sound like can read this this Miller quote about W. Bush:

I can identify with someone who has lived that line in “Amazing Grace,” “Was blind, but now I see,” and I like the fact that he’s the same man on Saturday night that he is on Sunday morning. … I have knocked on the door of this man’s soul and found someone home, a God-fearing man with a good heart and a spine of tempered steel.

Gosh, so many things to write about these days.

But, you know what, I am really more interested in requesting the prayers of GetReligion readers who are into that kind of thing. The hurricane shutters on our house are almost totally up and we have just made the decision that, unless something changes radically, we are riding the storm out here in West Palm Beach. We are not in the evacuation zone and we live in a post-Andrew house. If you don’t know what that means, I don’t have time to explain it.

And one more thing. Palm Beach Atlantic University, where I teach, is on the canal in downtown. If we take a direct hit and Palm Beach island goes under water, the campus will suddenly be facing the storm surge. This has not happened since 1928 or so and the city is a radically different place now. No one really knows what will happen downtown.

So I may or may not vanish for a few days on the blog.

This morning, I took the “essentials” out of my campus office. It is an interesting thing, trying to choose what goes in one box to take out of the flood zone.

All my academic books are still there on the shelves, covered by plastic trash bags. Then there are the four tall filing cabinets full of notes from 25 years of reporting. They could be ruined. All those manila folders full of notes scribbled in Flair pen — the ink that runs when it gets wet.

I saved things that cannot be replaced, like lecture notes, icons from Greece, a few marked-up books and old video tapes. Oh, that and the large oil painting of Aslan. Further up and further in.

One box. To go. It was a sobering process. And not a bad thing to have to do, every now and then.

Print Friendly

F Bomb true confessions

bauerNearly 20 years ago, I thought my habit of cursing was under control. Then I went to work at a daily newspaper, and I soon tumbled off the wagon. I usually give up cursing for Lent, but I spend the rest of the year in such verbal decadence that I have something to give up again by the next Lent.

The Hill reports that Gary Bauer, who once built a stereotype-defying friendship with Richard Gere, dropped the F Bomb in response to some of those charming protesters who have made Republicans feel so welcome in Manhattan this week. If GetReligion is to go medieval on Bauer for this moral failure, the moral indignation will have to come from Terry. Don’t hold your breath, though: my hurricane-threatened colleague, knowing of my decades-long weakness for invective, has goaded me into writing this.

Nor can I pretend to feeling a greater sense of scandal when Dick Cheney told Sen. Patrick Leahy where to stick it. Considering that the Senate floor once was the scene of a thrashing, I find it impossible to work myself into a lather about the vice president’s speech habits. (Among the pundits, Charles Krauthammer wrote the most candid column on the carnal pleasure of letting the F Bomb fly.)

None of this is to say the F Bomb is a good thing, or that our culture would be better off with more of it. I prefer to keep it behind a Break Only in Rhetorical Emergency glass, then to spend at least a day or two in self-loathing. But if you’re a tailgater, an especially aggressive panhandler or a mincing motives-basher, it’s your fault. Peace out.

Print Friendly