Fighting the beast: How can Clifford Russell be saved?

Meet Clifford Russell:

“What’s killing us is all these entitlements, we’ve got to get rid of all of them. All this welfare, food stamps, Medicare, and then big government health care on top of it, it’s all just too much! When do we say enough is enough?”

What do you mean, exactly, I ask him. You say people are suffering under Obama, don’t they need some help?

“No. No more help, enough is enough. People have to pick themselves up, take some responsibility. Why should we be paying for people’s mistakes and bad choices? All these illegitimate families just adding to the population, making all these bad decisions, then asking us to pay for it? It’s time to cut them off.”

I ask for some clarification: what do you mean, just starve them out? What if people can’t find work? Let them starve?

“Look, there’s always something you can do. You telling me people can’t make a choice for a better life? We have to help all of them? No. I’ll tell you what really need to do with these illegitimate families on welfare—give all the kids up for adoption and execute the parents.”

I stare at him and blink in a glaze of shock.

Just to be sure I heard him right, I ask him to repeat it, twice.

“Yes, I mean it. Get rid of all of them, give the kids up for adoption, execute the parents, and you get rid of the problem.” (When I call him back to revisit the issue, he elaborates: “put the children up for adoption and execute the parents, and word would get out soon” that poor people shouldn’t have kids.)

The reporter there is Christopher D. Cook of The Progressive, which printed his account along with a response from Clifford Russell, which Russell titled, “Socialistic Programs of Democratic Party Encourage People to Have Illegitimate Children.” Russell’s response was, I think, intended to rebut Cook’s portrayal of him, but winds up instead emphatically confirming it.

It cannot be our only response, and it cannot be our primary response, but at least a part of our response to people like Clifford Russell must be to offer them a chance to be saved — to find redemption, liberation and salvation.

Those are all religious terms, the language of spiritual rebirth and renewal. I can’t help but think that such rebirth may be the only hope for someone like this — a dramatic John Newton-like transformation in which this man who is lost can be found and this man who is blind learns to see.

But I’m not mainly thinking here of presenting Russell with an altar call. I’m thinking of the many different approaches that may be necessary to free him from the multi-pronged beast of lies, pride, hate, fear, willful ignorance, resentment and self-righteousness that have him so thoroughly captive. What can be done? What can be tried?

Education, surely, the presentation of better information — but how can that information be presented in a way that can penetrate the defensive shell the beast has constructed around him? Empathy, conscience, humor, prophetic truth-telling, relationship, breaking bread, ridicule, denunciation, forgiveness, protest, art, music and story all seem like weapons in our arsenal against the beast, but how can those weapons best be deployed?

I’m wholly in earnest about this. The salvation of those who are hatefully oppressive cannot be our priority — that must always be the protection of those who are hatefully oppressed. But one way to liberate the oppressed is to liberate the oppressor — to convince him to just … stop.

What do you think? Is this naive? Impossible? Hopeless?

Can Clifford Russell be saved?

 

  • Worthless Beast

    The word of a worthless beast who probably shouldn’t even be here…

    I made a joke about lightning and a device from an anime that someone else brought up, but I brought up my favorite anime hero – who’s anime/manga is all about him saving people regardless of who they are and living with the consquences – both good and bad.   Myself?  I’d like to think that I wouldn’t care and would just let adrenaline take over in the hypothetical save-the-life-of-someone situation.  It just seems unbecoming to me to approach someone in a  burning car with a checklist of questions to ask them regarding “Why should I save you/call 911?” 

    That does not, however, mean that I think all those in power deserve it, or immunity from having it stripped from them.   I’m anti-killing-and-letting-die, but I’m pretty pro-kneecaps sometimes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So would we all, if we didn’t recognize the person on sight as someone who did appalling things. But there’s a saying that if you save someone’s life, you’re responsible for what they do with it, and I think we all would have the guilt trip of a lifetime should we find out that someone whose life we saved had gone on to murder two people.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I think we all would have the guilt trip of a lifetime should we find
    out that someone whose life we saved had gone on to murder two people.

    I suspect that some of us would not. 
    I also suspect that some of us would feel guilty should we find out that someone whose life we didn’t save died.  
    All of that said, I agree with you that some of us would not feel guilty should we come to the belief that someone whose life we didn’t save would have murdered two people.

  • Worthless Beast

    Definitely – but the fact is, we cannot control others’ lives.  I’d definitely feel horrible if the owner of a life I saved was so *ungrateful* that they chose destruction, but, that really is not on me.  In that case, saving a life would be a matter of personal honor.   I once risked myself saving the life of a horse. I have no idea what that horse is doing now. 

    From what I’ve heard, Firefighters and EMTs are bound (as their job) to save lives without questioning worth – as in, they’re supposed to save even attempted suicides. (Having had the expereince of “changing my mind” mid-peril, I tend to think that’s a good thing, though it’s a whole other can of worms that can be debated forever)… If we really got into “worth” – I… don’t really want to go back to the days when people could refuse to work on people with “unworthy lives.” I heard back in the old days, minorities used to die from people doing that.

    I just see it as better to roll the dice.  I don’t recognize the faces of most politicians. I think it would be funny if one found out it was a POOR person who dragged them in from drowning or was the first 911 caller on the scene.  If they were wearing a KKK uniform or something, I might have second thoughts… but would probably help anyway in the hopes that would be the thing that knocks sense into them. Then again, I am a hopeless idealist.  I score INFP every time I take one of those stupid tests.

  • Worthless Beast

    And just so people don’t confuse things: the idea of “not killing someoneone / not letting someone die” is not the same as “letting them have power.”  If it is possible to strip someone of their power without killing them, then do it. Make sure someone who wants to execute many of the people he is supposed to serve is kicked out of his office on his booty, not allowed to hold office, is shunned by publishers, etc. and maybe only gets a voice on the Internet next to the Time Cube guy.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I find it helpful to remember when talking about the victims of people like Clifford Russell, that he is also one of them. He may be the least victimized of his victims, but he’s still one of them. Some people could I’m sure argue that he’s also the most deserving of his victims, but I don’t want to be in the position of calling any of the victims of a hatemonger “deserving” of their victimization.

  • P J Evans

    described as “a smooth-faced, silver-haired stocky gentleman.”

    He may very well appear to be a gentleman – but I would say that he’d have to reform completely to come anywhere close to being one – and he’d still have a ways to go.

  • depizan

    I’m very confused about everything else you’ve said, but now that I understand where you are on the wishing death on people, I at least get that.  And agree with it.  When it comes to people like Russell, it’s very easy for anger to go to nasty places, but that really doesn’t help.

  • Paul Durant

    The thing is… the guy is a work of fiction.
    Most people here are responding to the question of how to save him as “how do you save a man who wants parents of illegitimate children executed”? That’s not the question because that’s not what he is. He is a man who glibly says the parents of illegitimate children should be executed. They are not the same thing.

    Someone who actually wanted to execute the poor would have made basic analysis of his environment and how to implement his desires and come to the obvious conclusion that this is not an opinion supported by the majority. Such a person would keep his desires hidden, trying to implement them by other means without ever directly acknowledging his true purpose. 

    This guy, though, comes out and says it. This is because people like him do not speak with words, they speak with noises. Words have meanings. Noises are just sounds that they associate with certain things happening. He knows he makes noises about the poor being bad. He knows that  “execute” is a noise often made when people are talking about bad people. Therefore, “execute poor people” is a completely rational and coherent noise for him to make.

    He’s not a liar like, say, Tony Perkins. Lying requires enough respect for the truth to know what the truth is, to be aware of the concept of truth, and to be making a factual statement contradicted by the truth. This man is a bullshitter. The idea that the noises that come out of him are supposed to represent reality in some respect is completely foreign to him. He would see your angered reaction to his statements and make fun of you for it, because the idea that you are angry because you took his statements as intent to cause harm to people isn’t even on his radar. They aren’t statements. They are noises.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t think that makes anyone feel any better about having someone in the world who makes ‘execute poor people’ noises.

  • Joshua

    Well, you hope. And I hope too. Plenty of people expression outlandish opinions are blowhards.

    There should be a degree of caution before dismissing his words as not being in accord with his actual beliefs, just because they are horrendously evil and irrational.

    Plenty of people through history have said horrendously evil and irrational things, because they actually did have such beliefs, and then went on to commit acts just as horrendously evil and irrational.

  • Lori

    I try to treat those I perceive as the “bad guys” such that it wouldn’t
    make me a monster if it did turn out I was wrong – even about such moral
    certainties as kitten burning. 

    And my point is that there are circumstances where not attempting to save someone does not make you a moral monster.

    I just find it disturbing that you alluded to the most “anti”
    quote I’ve heard from the most antihero version of Batman I’m familiar
    with,  while explaining that it would be OK to not throw a drowning man a
    rope because of some things he’d said in the past.  

    A) You’ve missed a lot of Batman, or you didn’t pay much attention to that scene, because that’s not remotely the most antihero thing he’s said.

    B) I really don’t have the energy to get into a detailed discussion of why there’s no duty for one ordinary person to save someone else (and on a practical basis no one acts as if there is).

    C) Publicly stating, and then reiterating, that we should execute some poors to teach the other poors not to have kids goes rather beyond “some things he’d said in the past.”

    D) I suspect we’ll simply have to agree to disagree about this.

  • Lori

    Maybe I wouldn’t put my life in danger if it were someone whose actions, not just his political positions, I find repulsive, such as a
    child molester. But I hope that I would be brave enough to do so
    anyway.  

    The point of my comment, which seems to have totally gotten lost is that if you rescue that person good on you, but if you don’t it doesn’t necessarily make you a terrible person. As a society we don’t recognize a duty to save and there are very good reasons for that.

     

    Maybe he deserves to die … but it’s not my decision to make.  

    Not intervening in a situation not of your making doesn’t mean deciding that he deserves to die. It does mean that you’ve made some sort of calculation (practical, moral or some combination of the two) and decided that on balance it’s not a risk you’re willing to take or not an effort that you’re willing to make, but again, that’s not actually the same thing.

    I don’t know what I’d do if I found myself in a position to render aid to someone I believe to be morally repulsive. (Note that I’m not one of the people who said I wouldn’t save Cliff Russell.) I think that’s one of those things where you can’t know how you’ll react until you’re actually in the situation and I have mixed feelings about the value of imagining it.

    On one hand, it’s good to think things like this through, as a means of clarifying beliefs and priorities, if nothing else. On the other hand I think it can all too easily veer into Walter Mitty territory. I think it’s really easy for us to feel good about ourselves because we imagine ourselves doing the supposedly morally superior thing by saving a total asshat in some unlikely emergency, while ignoring actual real world things that we could do, but don’t or that we are doing and shouldn’t.

    I think how a person actually lives (and votes) says a hell of a lot more about him/her than some fantasy about being just too good a person to let some asshole drown or whatever.

  • Lori

    I will cop to being self-righteous on this. The fact that people I
    normally consider reasonable and “my people” are saying that if they
    could murder this man, they would, is frightening and appalling to me. I
    don’t know how to tell them that without sounding self-righteous.  

    Not rescuing =/= murdering. The fact that you implied this earlier and have now said it flat out is appalling to me. Which I guess makes us sort of even, but not in a way that I think is positive at all. I really think that if you can’t distinguish between not attempting to rescue someone (especially at risk to oneself) and murder that it might be time to take a step back.

    Lori, I’m sorry that I hurt you with my language. I know you are a
    thoughtful person and I enjoyed our conversation before my carelessness
    with words derailed it. 

    Honestly, my feelings aren’t hurt so please don’t worry about that.

    My point is simply that the issue of when and were to intervene in an emergency isn’t as cut and dries as saying that you always have to do everything you can or you’re a bad person. That is not how any of us lives and there are good reasons for that.

  • Kiba

    I also want to take a moment to lay shame on
    those commenters who say they wouldn’t save him from certain death.

    Maybe it’s from having a childhood full of mental and emotional abuse
    but guilt trips really don’t work on me. All they do is tend to making me
    angry. I can feel guilty all on my own so I really don’t need the help.

    Now as far as the comments go (mine included) I take them as hyperbolic
    cathartic statements and not actual statements of intent. I’ve said on more
    than one occasion that someone has made me so angry that “I want to slap them until my hands bleed,” however; I have yet to do so.  I’ve also told people that if they get me sick that I was going to kill them. Well, they have and I haven’t.

    Now, as far as this…person is concerned? I think he is pretty much a
    horrible, evil excuse for a human being and the fact that he had an opportunity to walk back his statement but instead chose to double-down speaks volumes about him. If I had the misfortune to actually know him I would tell him exactly what I think about him, that I hope he rots in hell, and then never have anymore contact with him. If he ever came to me asking for help I would really have to think about it, because, depending on the circumstances and who all was involved, I’m not sure that I would. Does that make me a bad person? Probably, but then I never claimed that I was either good, or perfect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Ditto. Oh so frecking much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Just as far as Russell’s self-Godwinning goes, when I finally got up the nerve to click through and read the actual article, everytime Russell said “solution,” for some reason, the word “final” kept popping into my head.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Is this naive? Impossible? Hopeless?

    Yes.

  • AnonaMiss

    All right, I’ve calmed down enough to respond today. I feel like I should clarify a couple things before the thread dies, primarily so that we aren’t on a false footing if we should come into conflict again. If there’s anything you’d like to bring up to me/confront me on, by all means.

    Not rescuing =/= murdering. The fact that you implied this earlier and have now said it flat out is appalling to me. Which I guess makes us sort of even, but not in a way that I think is positive at all. I really think that if you can’t distinguish between not attempting to rescue someone (especially at risk to oneself) and murder that it might be time to take a step back.

    When I said people in this thread had indicated they’d like to murder him, I was referring to the aside about what people would do if they got their hands on a Death Note. While that is unrealistic and thus not a threat in any way, it’s still disturbing to me, and it’s the murder I was referring to in the paragraph you quote.

    As I said earlier, I wouldn’t blame anyone for not rescuing him if they had to put themselves at risk. That certainly wouldn’t be murder. My line is fuzzy, though, on whether letting someone die through inaction when the only inconvenience is minor is murder. I’m assuming here that the poster who said he wouldn’t throw him a rope if he was drowning was saying so from the perspective of an able-bodied person who could throw a rope without any harm to himself; and that the person who said they wouldn’t save him from an oncoming car wasn’t imagining a scene where they’d put themselves at  personal risk. In fact, the lack of personal risk in either of these situations seemed to me to be the point of these statements: ‘I wouldn’t save his life even if doing so would require nothing from me.’ I lean pretty heavily towards considering that murder, yes. But I hope this position isn’t quite so appalling.

    ***

    Now, to all:

    It really bothers me when I see so much of the country demonized – putting all of the people who stupidly agreed on the “47%” issue on a poll, in the same category as “murder the poor” Russell. It strikes nerve in me, because it makes me afraid that I’m buying in to the kind of tribal othering that we routinely criticize here. And I’m afraid that the only response anyone will have to this paragraph is to echo Sam: “But they really are kitten burners!” If you believe that, OK, I guess. But it pains me. It pains me too much for me to believe it, and it smells of tribalism and of propaganda, and when the tribalism gets to the point of baying for blood, I can’t deal with that.

    That’s my motivation in this thread. Just… I hope it helps anyone who’s having a hard time seeing how my statements hang together.

  • Lori

    It really bothers me when I see so much of the country demonized –
    putting all of the people who stupidly agreed on the “47%” issue on a
    poll, in the same category as “murder the poor” Russell. It strikes
    nerve in me, because it makes me afraid that I’m buying in to the kind
    of tribal othering that we routinely criticize here. And I’m afraid that
    the only response anyone will have to this paragraph is to echo Sam:
    “But they really are kitten burners!” If you believe that, OK, I guess. But it pains me. It pains me too much for me to believe it, and it smells of tribalism and of propaganda  

    http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/10/08/974321/republican-candidate-in-arkansas-says-parents-should-seek-death-penalty-for-rebellious-children/

    I think that saying or implying that everyone who votes Republican is _______ (fill in the blank with extreme position) is untrue and not particularly helpful.

    On the other hand, Cliff Russell and Charlie Fuqua exist. They are not alone and they and others like them apparently feel at home in the GOP. Apparently a fairly decent percentage of the population doesn’t consider that a red flag moment as far as their own party affiliation is concerned. That says something. I can’t say with 100% certainty what that is, but I feel pretty confident that it’s not good. That assessment is not tribalism, that’s looking at the situation as it actually exists and trying to make sense of it. How did we get to the point that there are so many people who are willing to publicly advocate positions that are morally reprehensible and frankly, totally batshit? Any honest answer to that question is going to include a discussion about how the GOP goes about getting and keeping power. Republicans have to own that. Recognizing that isn’t something that we need to feel guilty about.

    (And no, my belief that it’s not OK to advocate the death penalty for breeding while unmarried and poor or for disrespecting one’s parents is not the same as people who are really, really upset about abortion. Poor people and children able to disrespect their parents are absolutely, positively persons. Fetuses are not. Not the same. Do not even get me started on the vast irony of believing that it’s murder to terminate a pregnancy, but fine to kill your kid for having a smart mouth.)

  • rizzo

    Anyone can be turned to goodness(I won’t say saved, that’s too religious for me)…people like him are a tough nut though.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    He’s a retired nuclear engineer

    Can I have him banned from anything resembling my profession? Dude like this makes me suddenly not like doing experimental nuclear physics.

  • depizan

    It really bothers me when I see so much of the country demonized –
    putting all of the people who stupidly agreed on the “47%” issue on a
    poll, in the same category as “murder the poor” Russell.

    Calling people on their vile opinions is not demonizing them.  The two things really shouldn’t be conflated.  And it seems that the GoP position on the poor (repeal Obamacare! bootstraps! cut entitlements! bootstraps!) is to Russell’s position on the poor what letting people die is to murder.  Because it is exactly that.

    Maybe you haven’t had the “fun” of trying to explain to someone that poor people die from lack of health care and more poor people will die if the Affordable Care act is repealed.  Or that poor people need those “entitlements” to fucking live.  And no, magical bootstraps aren’t going to appear and turn poor people into rich people if we just cut every government aid program.

    No, of course most conservatives/Republicans/Tea Partiers don’t want the poor to die.  Hell, a disturbing amount of them are or have been poor, or rely on “entitlements” in some other way (remember the “keep the government out of my Medicare” signs?).  The problem is that they want to take actions that will, pretty directly, kill people.  And they are determined not to realize that.  Which is the point at which my sympathy kind of evaporates.

    I have great respect for those willing to continue arguing that “if people don’t eat, they will die” against people who simply say “bootstraps!”, but I don’t have that patience.  And, frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with pointing out policies, platform planks, and opinions that are monstrous as monstrous.

    I think it’s really misguided to say that we can’t call a monstrous idea monstrous because that’s somehow propaganda or tribalism. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    This guy, though, comes out and says it. This is because people like him do not speak with words, they speak with noises.

    Paul Durant:

    There may be people who interpret those “noises” as being directives. What then? Is this man still harmless?

  • AnonaMiss

    *sigh*

    I never said it wasn’t true. I said the discussion felt like tribalism and propaganda. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

    I was the one who brought up the moral equivalence of taking away welfare to standing by and letting someone die; I don’t need you educating me on that analogy. Though apparently Lori and Alsafi think it’s a false equivalence, so you may prefer to turn that argument on them.

    Even though it’s true that the Republican party has gone off the deep end, I find it deeply unsettling to have my tribalist instincts pulled on. No matter how accurate the statement, “They are actual kitten burners” triggers my propaganda warning bells just as much as an actual, scientifically verified pheromone’s advertising would trigger my “sex sells” advertising warning bells.

    At this point I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m just trying to explain why this conversation makes me uncomfortable, and why everyone’s efforts to convince me “But they really ARE that terrible!” just makes me more uncomfortable. I know the policies are terrible. I know that some of the people advocating them are terrible. But I hate, hate, hate being invited to condemn Them, even though lower-case-they may deserve it.

    Again, at this point I’m not attacking or even scolding anyone. (I was earlier, yes, but I hadn’t quite put my finger on what was bothering me yet at that time; and the only part I still feel requires scolding has long since been beaten into the ground.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    At what point does the Republican party actually deserve condemnation?

    When they actually set up “sanctuary districts” for homeless and the unemployed?

    Or when they graduate to full-on gulags for same?

    Sometimes there really is a slippery slope, especially when there is a lack of moral courage to cease greasing the rails towards heightening ever-more-vicious resentment against those citizens unfortunate enough to land in those situations.

    Spoiler for the DS9 ep:

    Vg’f abg na nppvqrag gung QF9 rcvfbqr unq gur “juvgr” crefba erfphrq vagb n cbfvgvba bs pbzsbeg naq yhkhel, juvyr gur “aba-juvgrf” (Onfuve – Zvqqyr Rnfgrea nccrnenapr naq Fvfxb – Nsevpna Nzrevpna nccrnenapr) jrer qhzcrq vagb gur Fnapghnel Qvfgevpg. Gur QF9 rc jevgref xarj irel jryy gur enpvfg nfcrpgf bs gur fbpvrgl gurl jrer ubyqvat hc n zveebe gb.

  • alsafi

     I think you misunderstand me–I don’t think it’s a false equivalence to say that taking away welfare is similar to standing by and letting someone die. What I’m saying is a false equivalence is to say that people commenting on a blog to say that they wouldn’t cross the street to piss on this guy if he were hypothetically on fire is morally equivalent to people advocating and working toward–in the real world–the abandonment of the poor to deaths from starvation and preventable illness (cutting food aid and repealing the ACA), and lamenting to the press that they can’t just murder them outright and have done with it.

    The first is totally equivalent. The second, to my eyes, is way not.

  • Lori

    Though apparently Lori and Alsafi think it’s a false equivalence, so you may prefer to turn that argument on them. 

    I wasn’t mad before, but now I’m starting to be a bit.

    That isn’t what I said. I think there are significant differences between a single person opting not to take action to save someone based on the criteria of that person’s choosing and attempting to destroy, or at least opt out of, the social contract that’s designed to make our civilization slightly less unforgiving than the jungle. If folks want to talk about that I’m game, although it’ll have to be later because I’ve got to get ready for work.

    But I hate, hate, hate being invited to condemn Them, even though lower-case-they may deserve it.  

    So what exactly is your solution? What kind of discussion of the things that actual members of the GOP, including staff and elected officials, say & do and the fact that people keeping voting GOP either because of or in spite of those things would be comfortable to you? Without concrete boundaries that still address the actual issues this is starting to verge on “calling someone racist is worse than being racist” territory.

  • http://mostboringradical.tumblr.com/ Lori

    I think, though, that hoping he can be saved is the kind of naive and impossible and hopeless that Christianity is supposed to be.  Believing that even somebody like Clifford Russell can be redeemed, that even his heart isn’t totally closed, that God loves him infinitely and so we should extend that love, too, seems to me to be exactly the kind of foolish shit that Christians are supposed to believe (as opposed to being foolish because they think the earth is 6,000 or so years old).

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I’m just trying to explain why this conversation makes me uncomfortable [..] I hate, hate, hate being invited to condemn Them, even though lower-case-they may deserve it.

    (nods) For what it’s worth, I share your discomfort.

    That said, and for good or ill, condemning those who deserve condemnation (either for their own acts, or for the acts of others whom they explicitly or implicitly support) is seen as a positive good by a large number of voices here, and anything that explicitly or implicitly counters such condemnation (including the articulation of discomfort with it) is generally treated as at best misguided, at worst malicious or hostile.

  • depizan

    I really have no idea what you’re arguing any more.  People on this thread have condemned specific people and specific beliefs/policies/etc.  For the most part people have expressed horror at the ideas Russell expressed, and, because he’s capable of trying to implement them and capable of encouraging – by expressing those ideas – other people to implement them.  Hell, he said he thinks the government should implement them.  He’s fracking self-Godwining.  Who knew that was even possible!

    I don’t have to compare him to anything, I can simply flat out say that I do not want anyone who thinks that mass murder is a solution to poverty to have any kind of power.  Because they may fucking implement their solution.  In fact, it seems like no extrapolation at all to assume that, if they had the power to, they would.

    Now, it might be, that, faced with actual poor people and actual poor families, Russell would realize that “oh, hey, these are people” and not be able to carry through on his ideas.  I can imagine some type of Twilight Zone-esque horror in which a man like that gets his policies put in place and then – depending on one’s taste in evil twists – either finds himself subject to them or meets a poor family right before they’re hauled off, realizing too late what he has wrought.

    But until he does realize that his desired policy is evil, I don’t see anything wrong with condemning him for his stated belief that poor parents should be killed. Because that’s a pretty damn condemnation worthy belief.

  • depizan

     Can you explain why it’s bad to condemn people who deserve condemnation?  (Your own words, there.)

    What do you think people should do when faced with other people saying evil things?

  • Lori

     

    anything that explicitly or implicitly counters such condemnation
    (including the articulation of discomfort with it) is generally treated
    as at best misguided, at worst malicious or hostile.  

    Because of course this isn’t hostile or condemning at all.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Can you explain why it’s bad to condemn people who deserve condemnation?  (Your own words, there.)

    I don’t think I said it was bad, so I’m not sure in what sense that is my own words. I certainly didn’t intend to say that. Can you point out more specifically where I did?

    What do you think people should do when faced with other people saying evil things?

    That’s a deceptively complicated question, and I can’t give a simple answer to it that has more substance than “the best thing available to be done under the circumstances.” Which I appreciate is too vague and general to be satisfying, but I don’t know how to give a better answer to such a vague and general question in this context.

  • depizan

    That said, and for good or ill, condemning those who deserve
    condemnation
    (either for their own acts, or for the acts of others whom
    they explicitly or implicitly support) is seen as a positive good by a
    large number of voices here, and anything that explicitly or implicitly
    counters such condemnation (including the articulation of discomfort
    with it) is generally treated as at best misguided, at worst malicious
    or hostile. 

    The specific phrase is bolded.  The sentence sounded to me as if you didn’t agree that doing so was good.  Perhaps I was mistaken.

    Edit: Though I suppose you could consider it neither good nor bad. I just had the impression of disagreement.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Because of course this isn’t hostile or condemning at all.

    I tried my best to express myself in a way that wasn’t, but I infer from what I take to be your sarcasm that I failed. I’m sorry for that.

    More specifically, I expected that you (plural) would endorse the idea that countering the condemnation of things that deserve to be condemned is at best misguided and at worst malicious or hostile, and I was trying to follow the guideline of phrasing others’ positions in ways I expect them to endorse.

    If you happen to have any suggestions for how I could have expressed myself instead that would not have been hostile or condemning, I would appreciate them.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Regardless of what I think about the matter, I was operating under the assumption that y’all think condemning those who deserve condemnation is a good thing, and would therefore not mind being described that way.

    Evidently I was mistaken… both you and Lori took exception to it.

    I apologize. I was attempting to find a way of describing that position that its proponents would endorse, and I clearly failed at that.

    Regardless.. if you genuinely want to know my beliefs on the matter, I’m willing to have that conversation with you, but would prefer not to do so in this forum, as I don’t feel safe or comfortable doing so. Let me know if so, and we can look for a more private setting.

  • AnonymousSam

    In the nicest possible way I can state it: Please refrain from speaking on behalf of others if you have nothing to contribute and no desire to be seen as making a judgment upon them.

    Not in the nicest possible way I can state it: Because that post and the two following it remind me of the shit aunursa would write.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Please refrain from speaking on behalf of others if you have nothing to
    contribute and no desire to be seen as making a judgment upon them.

    Excellent advice. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t (and don’t) consider myself to have nothing to contribute, though clearly you disagree about that.

    Regardless, I probably do best to generalize your advice to “STFU, Dave!” before I’m explicitly labelled a troll.

    So, OK. Shutting up now.

  • AnonymousSam

    “No, I wasn’t saying anything. But I was saying something important. I wasn’t judging anyone though. Well, how can I possibly reply when your questions are so vague?”

    Yeah, fuck you too, Dave. Piss off.

  • AnonaMiss

    I started off trying to say that maybe we were overreacting a little, because all sane people agree that mass murder is wrong, so weren’t we being kind of Anti-Kitten-Burning to be so outraged about this? Or, to cite an older source,

    We are the Folk Song Army
    And every one of us cares:
    We all hate poverty, war and injustice
    Not like the rest of you squares.

    Maybe I misunderstood Fred’s initial AKBC post, but I didn’t think the editorializing AKBC people explicitly said “So many people are pro-kitten burning and we vehemently disagree with them!” It was the very vehemence of the reaction, I thought, that gave the impression that they thought the PKBC existed. Same with the sort of songs the Folk Song Army parodies – it’s funny because no protest song would ever come out and say that everyone else loved poverty, war, and injustice, but it’s usually pretty heavily implied.

    Since this particular kitten-burner is a member of a tribe we don’t like, the dog-whistling throughout the thread has been deafening. There’s not been a whole lot of explicit tribalism, though there has been some, e.g. “People like this are why I consider the entire Republican party to be a satanic death cult.”

    But when I tried to say, hey guys, I see this implicit tribalism – I don’t know, I guess I didn’t say it very well. People in the thread took it as invitation to tell me more about how terrible Those People really are. 

    I don’t know how I can make it any clearer: I’M COOL WITH CONDEMNATION OF BAD THINGS, INCLUDING CLIFFORD RUSSELL. Really. I’m not shaming or tut-tutting any condemnation short of saying you’d kill him. It just makes me really uneasy when we present “being against mass murder” as a tribal position.

  • Worthless Beast

    I think one of the main reasons I so foolishly hold onto the shreds of my Christianity (besides the whole “God is stuck in my brain and won’t go away” factor) is the idea that of hope – I don’t have any faith in Humanity to fix itself, so I’m still hoping that miracles exist.  Then again, I’ve said I’m the kind who would preserve life and hope for change, but to paraphrase a favorite sci-fi character: “God said nothing about kneecaps.”

    When I think about it, sometimes “forgiveness” and saving someone’s life can be a WORSE thing for them than death. If Death is a universalist Heaven or sheer oblivion, I bet getting kneecapped hurts a lot more.  These guys that are blowhards and used to some semblance of “power” – having it taken from them and them knowing they are “just like the Time Cube guy” is a painful lesson they have to live with for their remaining years – potentially worse than burning to death for a few minutes in a car. 

    To be an Idealist doesn’t mean you have to be a Pollyanna and to have an Honor Before Reason respect for Life doesn’t obligate you to give anyone a *good* life.

  • Kiba

    It pains me too much for me to believe it, and it smells of tribalism and of propaganda, and when the tribalism gets to the point of baying for blood, I can’t deal with that.

    What? Tribalism? I don’t think the commenters would change their tune (I know I wouldn’t) if Russel or Fuqua’s statements/positions were said/held by a Democrat. Russel and Fuqua are horrible, vile, contemptible people because of what they are advocating, not because they are Republicans.

    Where’s the propaganda? No one is spreading lies or rumors about what those two have said. They are being tarred with their own damn words (one wrote a book in which he advocates this shit and the other doubled-down in a rebuttal he wrote himself).

    Those people who “stupidly agreed on the 47% issue?” They are agreeing that poor people shouldn’t have food let alone access to things like healthcare. You call that stupid; I call that vile and it is these people that are the driving force behind the Republican party today. I do not see tribalism or propaganda in pointing this out. Are there moderate Republicans out there? Yes, but in today’s political climate they aren’t exactly listened to by their own party. 

    I’m assuming here that the poster who said he wouldn’t throw him a rope if he was drowning was saying so from the perspective of an able-bodied person who could throw a rope without any harm to himself; and that the person who said they wouldn’t save him from an oncoming car wasn’t imagining a scene where they’d put themselves at  personal risk.

    And I think you are missing that these statements are hyperbolic. Would I save Russel from getting hit by a car? Yeah, if I could. Would I actually shove him out in front of one? No. Are those statements kind? No. Are they the same as what Russel and Fuqua have said? Hell no.  

    It really bothers me when I see so much of the country demonized 

    Yeah that bothers me too. It bothers me that many in this country see no problems with people saying the poor should suffer even more if not outright calling for their deaths. I bothers me that when people are actually angry and pissed off about it and pop off with hyperbole and vitriol, or actually call the bastards out that they get accused of tribalism and propaganda. 

  • AnonymousSam

    But what does it say when being for mass murder becomes a tribal position?

    How exactly do we find reconciliation with people who genuinely want to kill us?

  • depizan

    I don’t even… what…???

    You know what, I am perfectly happy to say that I am in the tribe of humanity that thinks mass murdering the poor is BAD.  I would hope that that tribe includes most of humanity.  I don’t have a problem with Russell because he has a little “R” next to his name on his voter registration.  I have a problem with Russell because he ADVOCATES MASS MURDER.

    I’ll have to reread the thread, but right now I feel like you’re having an argument with some alternate reality version of the thread wherein all of the anger directed at Russell was directed at all Republicans/conservatives/Tea Partiers/some group larger than one man.

    Edit: Also, you started out arguing that you didn’t believe he existed. I am really confused as to what argument I am having. And why.

  • alsafi

    I think I kind of understand where you’re coming from, actually–I personally do find it worthwhile to check myself to make sure that I’m not just knee-jerk reacting, and to try not to paint with too broad a brush. So we’re in agreement there.

    I guess where I see the difference is that, in Fred’s words: “[T]he central concern of the Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition is not a defense of kittens, but an accusation against most other people. They are not driven by their opposition to kitten-burning, but by their opposition to a make-believe faction of other people whom they imagine favor kitten-burning. That this vast bloc of pro kitten-burning people cannot be found and does not exist does nothing to dampen their enthusiastic campaign against these supposed monstrously cruel others. It is a delusion, but the AKBC enjoys this delusion.” (Bolding mine)

    So I see an important distinction. I don’t see people making up something to be appalled by–what this man said is appalling, all on its own. That he is considered to be mainstream enough in his views to be entrusted with some power in the GOP structure is, I think, also somewhat appalling, and yes, it does make me wonder what the people whose cause he serves really think but don’t have the courage or bad form to say out loud, if they are ok with him representing them. I know that if he were ostensibly on “my side,” I would still be loudly appalled, not to mention completely embarrassed. So there’s a difference, I think–I haven’t had to invent something monstrous and invent a conspiracy of people to be for it–he came right out and said it. Out loud. More than once. Without anyone else there calling him on it.

  • AnonaMiss

    You know what, I am perfectly happy to say that I am in the tribe of humanity that thinks mass murdering the poor is BAD.  I would hope that that tribe includes most of humanity.  I don’t have a problem with Russell because he has a little “R” next to his name on his voter registration.  I have a problem with Russell because he ADVOCATES MASS MURDER.

    Slow. Down. I’m not usually this bad at communicating, so I’m inclined to think I’ve tripped some kind of switch that makes everyone read me with the least charitable interpretation. Of course we would condemn him if he weren’t a Republican. But the fact that he’s Republican is lighting up our tribal brain circuits. It’s pumping us full of condemnation-dopamine. He is validating our worst prejudices. He’s giving us the hatred rush. The fact that he’s a Republican is bringing out our worse natures in a way that he wouldn’t if he were unaffiliated.

    I’ll have to reread the thread, but right now I feel like you’re having an argument with some alternate reality version of the thread wherein all of the anger directed at Russell was directed at all Republicans/conservatives/Tea Partiers/some group larger than one man.
    That’s what a dog whistle is, yes. I’ve explicitly stated that I think the anger in the thread is directed against all Republicans. And a lot of the responses I’ve gotten have brought up more “moderate” Republican positions e.g. the 47% and accused me of defending them. So yeah, I definitely think the anger against Russell is directed at all Repubs.

    Edit: Also, you started out arguing that you didn’t believe he existed. I am really confused as to what argument I am having. And why.

    I started out speculating that he might not exist, because he seemed like a Strawman Republican. The same way if I read about an animal rights activist saying we should mass murder non-vegans, I’d speculate that ze was a Strawman ARA. Generally, if I hear about a partisan advocating mass murder, my first instinct is to assume that the story is false. The same as if someone told you that a Green Party staffer set a lady on fire for wearing a fur coat.

  • depizan

    he came right out and said it. Out loud. More than once. Without anyone else there calling him on it.

    And that’s where most of the more general responses have come from.  How can you have this guy on your side (so to speak) and not be all “Dude, NO.”?

    Also, many of us have encountered other people (often in double digit numbers) who agree with the basis for his appalling solution – the idea that the poor are to blame for their poverty and that if we just stopped helping them they’d be forced to pull themselves out of poverty.  An idea that has so much wrong with it one could write books on the subject.

    Again, I don’t have any problem saying that I am a member of the tribe who thinks that poor people are not to blame for their poverty and are entitled to our help if we’re going to call ourselves a civilization.  That tribe should not be a partisan tribe.  It freaks me the hell out that it apparently is.

  • alsafi

    “It freaks me the hell out that it apparently is.”

    Me too, but I axed the graph about thinking there’s also a difference between giving ourselves self-righteous high-fives for not being awful people like those tax-collectors, which is what I got from Fred’s description of the AKBC, and being depressed and freaked out to find out that apparently there’s a chunk of Our Fellow Americans who actually are on board with the whole “Are there no prisons? No workhouses? … Then they should die, and decrease the surplus population” thing. I mean, Dickens was caricaturing an awful, hateful, soul-shrivelled person with those words. E. Scrooge should not be a pattern for behavior. And I really feel like I shouldn’t have to point that out to anyone, no matter what party they identify with.

  • alsafi

    (Which is not to say that I feel like I’m pointing it out to you, depizan–I mean just as a general thing.)


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