Tuesday, April 16, 2013

FTT Off-Topic: Crossing Lines

Arrogant For Money
Not sports, but this seems to be a day to not be about sports. I promise I'll get back to it soon.

"There are some lines that just shouldn't be crossed today. Especially the finish line."
- Anthony Jeselnik, 4/15/13, 6:22pm, later deleted, on Twitter

I'm not going to speak very much about the Boston Marathon tragedy today, because, well, I have nothing new or unique to add, and repeating what other people say isn't why you, well, read anyone. I think what Patton Oswalt wrote was spectacular, and what Jeselnik wrote was hackery, and that's right up there with saying water is wet and fire is hot. But for the record, here's Oswalt's contribution.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."


So there's that and Oswalt is a national treasure, and he's 100% right. But let's discuss Jeselnik for now, a reasonably talented comic whose bread is buttered on not just being offensive, but also clever. He's good in a roast, solid on his own show, and destined to have a longish career because, well, we're going through a pretty sizable comedy boom right now, and it's not as if he said something truly insane. And in so doing, he exposed a base level of hypocrisy which interests me, to be simply addressed like so... if this attack had happened in, say, Paris, would Jeselnik be getting as much heat today? How about Moscow? Or Pyongyang?

The answer, of course, is no; there would be a little tutting, and the people who never like this kind of red meat comedy wouldn't laugh or like, but they also wouldn't chastise. But since Boston is an American city, and a place where it's really not hard to think of someone you might know that lives there, and children are among the victims, it's clear that this was beyond the pale.

But it should be beyond the pale everywhere. No matter what the age of the victims. Life is life; we don't get to, at least not in any coherent faith or morality, feel more or less about it, assuming there are no personal relationships with the victims. Patriotism may or may not be a virtue, and laughing at tragedy may be a way to keep from succumbing to despair, but only caring about terrorism when it's local is, well, crap. (Not nearly as much crap as saying something awful after a tragedy because people expect you to, but close.)

And as for the propriety, and the outrageous nature of it... well, there really aren't any 9/11 jokes, or Oklahoma City jokes, or Pearl Harbor jokes. I guess there are JFK jokes, and I've repeated a Lincoln joke ("Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?") more than a few times to illustrate a ridiculous sop situation. And that I'm really looking forward to the criminals getting caught and brought to justice, and to be able to go back to hating Boston's teams and their fans.

We'll heal, because we don't really have any other choice. And we might even get to a place where people are simply shunned, regardless of occupation, for saying awful things. If only we didn't have so many opportunities to heal, and so many candidates for shunning...

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