The Shubert. The Apollo. Carnegie Hall.
So the “Snapple Theater Center” doesn’t provoke the same reverent awe as do the names of those famous New York City landmarks, but hey, a gig’s a gig, right?
Maybe Christina Crawford inherited more of her adoptive mother’s trooper spirit than she’d care to admit.
It’s so easy to imagine Joan Crawford growling, “Snapple, crapple! The show must go on!”
And so it does: the longrunning “Mommie Dearest” franchise, one angry daughter’s single claim to fame — first a blockbuster 1977 memoir, then a cult movie — is back in a rather downmarket iteration: A Conversation with Christina Crawford: Live and Onstage in Surviving Mommie Dearest.
Or rather, was. The show’s very brief run at the Snapple overlapped Mother’s Day.
After more than 30 years of telling all, what possible secrets could Christina Crawford have left to reveal about her infamous mom?
Well, now she’s claiming (sort of) that Joan Crawford murdered her husband Alfred Steele, the Pepsi CEO whose position the widow snatched for herself after his death.
Here’s Faye Dunaway reenacting the power grab in the aforementioned cult flick, Mommie Dearest (1981):
The three women held in the Cleveland house of horrors were treated to the repulsive annual ritual of being served cake on their “abduction days.”
Wednesday brought more horrible revelations about what the captives endured for the past decade, even as they were happily reuniting with family members and friends.
The women watched heartbreaking TV coverage of vigils that were held on their behalf, CNN reported.
Ariel Castro allegedly made this Cleveland house a hellish hostage dungeon.
And their alleged twisted kidnapper, Ariel Castro, marked the anniversaries of their abductions by serving dinner and a cake, the cousin of one victim told The New York Times.
“He would celebrate their abduction day as their new birthday,” the relative told the newspaper.
Overhead aerials of Amanda Berry (in yellow) and her 6-year-old daughter (being carried at the back door of house) arriving Wednesday at their house in Cleveland.
Then there was the police report Wednesday that Amanda Berry, the courageous former prisoner who led the breakout from what had been their prison, had been forced to give birth to her baby girl in an inflatable kiddie pool.
But in a telephone chat with her grandmother Wednesday, the young mom sounded upbeat and even proud of her 6-year-old Jocelyn — who is believed to have been fathered by her captor, Ariel Castro.
“Yeah, she’s my daughter,” said Berry, 27. “Born on Christmas.”
Temple prostitution — the kidnapping of young girls and their sexual enslavement — persists into the modern world. An excerpt of an article from World Outreach Ministries on the fight in India:
Sleeping with the Goddess
BY SHELLY NGO WITH SANJAY SOJWAL
Each year in India, thousands of girls are dedicated to a temple goddess in a ceremony that begins a lifetime of prostitution.
Through the whitewashed arches of the Uligamma temple, Durgamma proudly marches toward the banks of India’s Thungabadra river. Today is the girl’s wedding day. The eyes of her relatives, friends, and neighbors are fixed on the 12 year-old bride.
Close to an overhead bridge spanning the Thungabadra, a priest accepts the goat brought by Durgamma’s family. With a quick stroke of a blade, he sacrifices the animal to the temple goddess Uligamma. The goat’s blood drips into the river where hundreds of worshippers are bathing.
Durgamma patiently submits. to her women relatives who apply a sandalwood paste to her body and bathe her in the river. After they dress her in a white sari and blouse, she listens to the high caste priest chant and pray in Sanskrit, the ancient language of Hindu scriptures, which none in the crowd understands. As his prayers conclude, the priest sprinkles a yellowish mixture of turmeric paste and water over her head and she feels the refreshingly cool liquid trickle clown her head and back.
Durgamma walks up to the temple where a priest puts a glittering string of red and white beads strung on saffron colored thread around her neck. No groom, however, comes to meet this bride. Instead Durgamma is wed to the temple goddess, and her life will be spent as a devadasi, a temple prostitute. Today, Uligamma’s spirit, the priests teach, has entered Durgamma’s body; for the rest of her life, when priests and other men sleep with her, it is not Durgamma, but the goddess they are sleeping with. It is the goddess’s desires the men must appease.
“This simple word, ‘devadasi’ says Dr. I.S. Gilada, one of India’s most prominent AIDS activists and an honorary secretary of the Indian Health Organization, “is a label which condemns 5,000 to 10,000 girls every year into a life of sexual servitude (concubinage) and subsequently into prostitution.
Despite India’s government law forbidding the practice of temple prostitution, the centuries old religious tradition continues. To understand the mentality that permits this sexual exploitation, one has only to think of those in Western societies who are enthralled with the idea of sleeping with models, sport heroes or other celebrities. Young devadasís are regarded by some as deities, and then discarded when they grow old.
On April 10 I published the next step in my developing self-improvement program, an application of Charlie Martin’s 13 Weeks method to my problem of better organizing my research. I looked forward to diving back into a deep reading routine filled with novels and culture while blogging my results here at PJ Lifestyle so all the wiser, more enlightened souls who make it their business to fill the comments section with their manifestos could tell me what an idiot I was for not seeing the world exactly the way they did.
But then on April 15 — Patriot’s Day — bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, resulting in 3 deaths and 264 injuries. The real world had intruded on the Wonderland of Books I’d constructed for myself. As Charlie has pointed out from time to time in his 13 Weeks series, life has a way of throwing off our plans.
For days the country sat in nervous panic as police searched for the killers. Partisans of every persuasion speculated about the motives of the evil monsters who would load pressure cooker bombs with shrapnel to mutilate the bodies of innocent human beings they had never met. David Sirota of Salon longed for the murderous act to serve as fodder for his goal of demonizing his political opponents. I liked the way PJ columnist Roger Kimball put it on on the morning of April 18:
One of the curious, but also most predictable, responses to the Boston Marathon bombings from the Left has been the fervent expression — amounting nearly to a prayer — that the perpetrator or perpetrators of this act of mass murder be “homegrown,” preferably white, male, Christian, and conservative.
Why? Why does the Left prefer to have its terrorism served up by Timothy McVeigh rather than Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad? It’s an interesting question. That the Left exhibits this prejudice is, like Falstaff’s dishonesty, “gross as a mountain, open, palpable.”
David Sirota, writing at Salon, gives almost comic expression to the genre in an essay with the really special title “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.” Why does Mr. Sirota wish that the Boston murderer of 8-year-old boys be a white American? Because a spectral quality called “white male privilege” operates insidiously behind the scenes. If Timmy McVeigh blows up a government building, says Mr. Sirota, only he is blamed. If Mohammed does it, Muslims are likely to be “collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse).”
What do you think of that argument? I think it’s hooey.
But how can intellectual and cultural warriors do battle with hooey level arguments? PJ Media Legal Editor J. Christian Adams offered advice to the Benghazi whistleblowers that is just as applicable to every American striving to fight for these issues in their own way:
I know a thing or two about being a whistleblower. I appeared on the Huckabee show this weekend (see video below) and explained how simply telling the truth is the way to shield yourself from the sinister deceptions from places like the Huffington Post and the George Soros-funded Media Matters. They can try to smear you, but the truth of your testimony will rise above their smears.
All we can do is present the truth about the nature of the enemy. If that doesn’t work, then what else is left?
As an early teen in the early ’80s, it was just about impossible not to like Michael Jackson’s music. It was certainly impossible to avoid it. With Thriller, Jackson and producer Quincy Jones set out to make the ultimate crossover album — one that would gain black and white audiences in equal measure. And equal airplay, too, back when radio stations were even more racially targeted than they are today.
And boy, did they succeed.
But Michael Jackson the person? It was pretty obvious even then that he was one strange dude. What happened though is what happens to too many child performers: The weirdness went up and up, while the quality of the performances went down and down. By the time Dangerous came out in 1991, the magic was pretty much gone. It sold in the millions, yet nobody was buying it. And by that I mean, nobody was buying Jackson’s pseudo tough/tender/ladies man act anymore. The weird was just too weird.
Then came the obligatory-yet-somehow-disappointing greatest hits collection, the horrifying-yet-believable stories about his sleepover parties with kids…
I shudder even to think about it. His last studio album, ironically named Invincible, came out after years of delays and way over budget — and to a tepid response.
It was around this time he was dangling babies off balconies and looking like a bad drag queen version of Elizabeth Taylor. Oh, and he’d somehow managed to go broke buying giraffes and rollercoasters and stuff. The music had hit bottom and the weird was at the top of the charts.
The amazingly talented and abused little boy who never had a childhood, never really had an adulthood, either. There’s so much blame to go around, you barely know where to start.
There’s nothing that makes Hollywood more nervous than portraying Islamist terror. As far back as 1994, James Cameron’s True Lies was denounced as racially insensitive for imagining a chillingly plausible Islamist terror threat involving nuclear weapons. Cameron, anticipating accusations of unfairly linking terrorism with Islam and Arabs, took care to try for “balance” by placing an Arab-American character on the good guys’ side (the actor who played him, Grant Heslov, this year won an Oscar as one of the producers of Argo). Yet the advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) slammed the film anyway. The hysterical 1998 movie The Siege imagined that, in an overreaction to a terrorist attack, Brooklyn would be placed under martial law and all young Muslim men would be interned in Yankee Stadium. Ridiculous.
Since 2001, of course, Hollywood has almost completely avoided showing any Muslim involved in terror, changing the bad guys in 2002’s The Sum of All Fears from Palestinians to neo-Nazis. The 2005 Jodie Foster movie Flightplan, about an abduction on an airplane, used a hint that Arabs might be responsible as a red herring. The actual villain: an all-American air marshal played by Peter Sarsgaard. Several Middle East themed movies like Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies essentially saw a moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Islamists, saying both sides were up to comparably nasty stuff in the War on Terror.
Leave it to Salman Rushdie to bring back the Left’s favorite stratagem: moral equivalence. During the Cold War, leftists used to say the following: “Sure, the Soviets are doing bad things, but so is the United States.” Those a bit more to the left would advance the argument, and say: “The Soviets do terrible things, but the U.S. is responsible, since its leaders view them, as Reagan did, as ‘the evil empire.’ Since we won’t accommodate their just demands, they have to respond to us with hostility.” Those even further to the left would push the analogy even further, arguing: “The Soviets may do some bad things, but at least they stand on the side of progressive change. The U.S., on the other hand, oppresses Third World peoples and supports right-wing reactionary regimes all over the world.”
A good example of the old moral equivalence was to equate the Gulag in the Soviet Union, in which hundreds of thousands were imprisoned, starved to death and executed in massive frame-ups, with McCarthyism in the United States. During the so-called McCarthy era, relatively few were imprisoned or lost their livelihoods, and many actually guilty of being actual Soviet agents portrayed themselves as innocents accused because of their political views. Yet the Left in America argued both were the same.
Now Salman Rushdie has a lot to be wary of. After the Iranian revolution, the late Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa along with a reward for anyone who murdered him. Because of his novel The Satanic Verses, Rushdie had to go into hiding in different safe houses for a number of years, while under the protection of the British government. Intellectuals and writers in the West rallied to his defense. Eventually, Rushdie came into the open, moved to the United States, and became a favorite in the celebrity world, as well as a best-selling novelist.
By Theodore Shoebat and Walid Shoebat
**** WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEOS INCLUDED IN THIS ARTICLE ****
The Boston Marathon bombing by the Tsarnaevs is not the first notable attack upon Americans by Eastern European Muslims. In 2007, a young Bosnian Muslim named Sulejman Talovic opened fire in the Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City, killing five people and seriously injuring another four before being taken out by officers.
There will be more to come, as long as we keep observing the modern world’s sick obsession with multiculturalism.
As he was killing his victims, Talovic repeatedly proclaimed that Allah was great, and the night before the massacre he told his girlfriend that “something is going to happen tomorrow that you’ll never be able to forgive me about.” He also said that the day will be “the happiest day of his life and that it could only happen once in a lifetime.”
Prior to settling in America, Talovic had a hallucination in Bosnia of a white horse with “two beautiful eyes,” imagery which is emphatically Islamic.
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev may be out of the way, but this should not make us believe that the Islamic threat is gone, or that the world is now safer.
Now is not a time to celebrate, but to study our enemy assiduously. The Tsarnaevs are from Chechnya, a nation of the Caucasus region. Now that the brothers are becoming household names, Americans should inquire into two of the most focal points of Islamic jihad: the Caucasus and the Balkans. Though much of the region remains Christian today, a sizable portion is Muslim, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Dagestan, and, of course, Chechnya.
The Balkans and the Caucasus harbor by far the most fanatic of all Islamic fundamentalists. When they were under the Ottoman sultans, they proved to be the most loyal and fervent fighters for the cause of the caliphate’s universal expansion.
They are not entirely of the same nature as the terrorists Americans are used to — like those of Iraq or even Afghanistan. They are larger in stature, fiercer, and have a higher propensity for sadism and murder than their Islamic brethren in the Middle East.
They are now a part of the backbone of the Syrian revolution, assisting their fellow jihadists with their tenacity and ferociousness. One journalist describes the Chechens as such:
The Chechens were older, taller, stronger and wore hiking boots and combat trousers. They carried their weapons with confidence and distanced themselves from the rest, moving around in a tight-knit unit-within-a-unit. (1)
To help Americans recover from this cultural illness, here is a video showing just how sadistic, heartless, and sanguinary some Eastern European Muslims can be, and the type of mindset of the Tsarnaevs:
But why such cruel violence? This question takes us deeper into our inquiry into the jihadist mindset. For decades Americans have been used to the standard procedure of Islamic terrorism. It began with just planting bombs; then came suicide attacks and decapitations. All of these phases are not part of a cultural evolution, but a gradual revival back to original Islam. Now we are entering a newer phase in this awakening: human sacrifice and cannibalism.
The original state of Islam is not entirely what the West has witnessed these last few decades; it is actually more like what one sees in ancient Mexico or pre-Israelite Canaan. We are seeing this pagan savagery arise gradually, but soon it will be universally known.
Another example of the kind of violent fantasies that one can expect to start seeing bubbling up as the war against America intensifies:
Here’s why Rosenberg hates “neocons” so much. He fully embraces the progressive dogma that every single death in Iraq is a murder and that “neocons” are responsible for it. In Rosenberg’s eyes, anyone who so much as wrote in favor of the Iraq War is morally equal to any terrorist who may only be responsible for a handful of murders:
Reuters reported at 11:54 AM EST on the ideology inspiring the terrorists who murdered and butchered Americans in Boston on Monday:
His “World view” is listed as “Islam” and his “Personal priority” is “career and money”.
He has posted links to videos of fighters in the Syrian civil war and to Islamic web pages with titles like “Salamworld, my religion is Islam” and “There is no God but Allah, let that ring out in our hearts”.
He also has links to pages calling for independence for Chechnya, a region of Russia that lost its bid for secession after two wars in the 1990s.
The page also reveals a sense of humor, around his identity as a member of a minority from southern Russia’s restive Caucasus, which includes Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and other predominately Muslim regions that have seen two decades of unrest since the fall of the Soviet Union.
“I don’t have a single American friend,” one caption quotes him as saying. “I don’t understand them.” [emphasis added]
I will state my position about what has happened this way:
Al Qaeda’s Attack on America on September 11, 2001 = the beginning of World War 1
Two NON-ARAB, WHITE, WHOLLY AMERICANIZED Homegrown Millennial Jihadists Take America Hostage And Launch a New Template for How to Wage A DIY, Low Budget-Download-The-Instructions-Off-The-Internet Terror War = the beginning of World War II.
We are now entering a new phase of the Islamic war to replace liberal societies with Sharia law. This is World War IV, a multi-decade conflict that will be for our generation what the war against Nazism and Fascism was for our grandparents. Except it will probably be worse.
As such, I would like to primarily address those who have not yet given up progressivism, moral relativism, and the Democratic party — the three idols I grew up worshiping for the first two decades of my life. (I realize now that the reason I abandoned progressivism is simply that I didn’t go to graduate school whereas most of my friends did. My brainwashing gradually wore off after I got out into the real world and had to try and survive.)
This is not an oppressive, Corporate Imperial war waged against harmless Muslims. It is a war that Islam has declared against Enlightenment-based societies. The problem is not the Koran or Islam. The problem is radical (as in going to the root of the idea) Islam or Islamism, or Orthodox Islam, or the traditional Islam of history that requires the marriage of mosque and state accompanied by full implementation of chop-your-hands-off-style Sharia. Muslims who reject Koranic literalism and affirm Enlightenment philosophy are A-OK. (See Robert Spencer’s article this morning to see the great Jazz music some of them have made. And note Roger L. Simon today — Islam is not a race.) Muslims who embrace America instead of demanding American submission can enjoy the riches of Liberty just as every immigrant who has come to this land throughout the centuries to worship their God and work hard.
We need to stand with genuine Muslim liberals against both the terrorists and stealth (non-violent) jihadists rebelling against the Modern world.
That requires identifying those in the political and media classes who sabotage these efforts. Here are 10 examples of those whose ideas undermine the safety of Americans and the twin projects to nurture political liberalism in the Muslim mind and Enlightenment values in the Islamic soul.
1. Progressive Filmmaker Michael Moore:
“They know nothing.” It’s very important for Moore to try and undermine the credentials of anyone who can affirm that Sharia is a real threat. In Moore’s world Global Warming is more dangerous and cigarettes and car accidents cause more deaths per year than Islamists. Corporations have killed plenty more people than this “one teenager.”
“I guessed correctly. the bombings were not carried out by women.”
There will be more Jihad Janes, Mike…
Recently, English woman Isabella Dutton admitted in writing that she regrets having her two children. She lamented,
…like parasites, both my children would continue to take from me and give nothing meaningful back in return.
Dutton, 57, was married at the age of 19 in 1975, just eight years after the 1967 decision to legalize abortion in England and three short years after the fateful Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America. Each sent Western culture down the pro-abortion rabbit hole.
This polarizing article has been shared across the globe to mixed reviews, some appreciating the writer’s honesty, others criticizing her coldness toward her own offspring. Similar comparisons of children to parasites became popular and rampant in pro-abortion circles to argue the case for abortion. Found on the hideous far-left rag the Daily Kos,
Anyways, back to the whole fetus= parasite thing. That is how I see them. I don’t see them as cute and cuddly. I see them as terrifying and scary. I see pregnancy the same way.
The Z/E/F sucks the nutrients from the mother.
The “relationship” only benefits the fetus.
The mother’s organs and body parts become damaged.
The fetus controls the mother.
The fetus doesn’t give anything “back”.
The author then goes on to list more reasons a baby is the same as a parasite including specious claims that pregnancy damages the mother’s internal organs.
Now we have the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the mass-murdering abortionist who kept the severed feet of his victims in bottles around his office, ignored by the national media. A doctor who murders full-term babies outside of the womb cannot garner national interest. Perhaps studies like this one by Oxford self-labeled “ethicists” don’t help matters.
What we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.
With public discourse lowered to such a level, is it surprising at all that a mother publicly disparages her children and it is called “honesty” or that the public is more interested in Kim Kardashian’s exercise routine than in hundreds of slain infants in a dirty Philadelphia abortion mill? For all the talk of protecting the children of America by writing more gun-control laws, none of which would have stopped shooter Adam Lanza in Newtown, there is no concern for the millions of nameless children abortionists have literally thrown in the garbage. No one is proposing laws to stop abortion butchers from stabbing full-term fetuses in the neck and freezing their bodies in plastic bags. No one is even asking where Gosnell got such an idea, because the answer would be the undoing of the abortion industry. Gosnell isn’t one monster in a field of saints. He simply shone a light on the ugly truth that abortion results in a dead baby and a desensitized public no matter which method is used.
Egypt’s pound has fallen by 40% since last December, from 6 to the dollar to 8.25 to the dollar on the black market. The prices of basic food items like beans and milk have risen by more than that, pricing all forms of protein out of the range of the half of Egyptians who live on less than $2 a day. And the worst is yet to come: according to the U.S. embassy, the Muslim Brotherhood government has vastly inflated its estimates of this year’s wheat harvest in order to keep export orders down — because it doesn’t have the money to pay for them. Egypt reportedly got $5 billion in emergency loans from Libya and Qatar (although it is not clear how much of that can be spent), but that barely covers the government’s arrears to oil companies operating in the country. I published an update on Egypt’s economic free fall in Asia Times Online this morning.
Mohammed Morsi’s Islamist government is living hand to mouth, stiffing suppliers and exporters, and cadging emergency loans, but it hasn’t ordered a shipload of oil or wheat since January. When things get this bad, everyone who can get dollars out will. The ship is sinking, and the cry is, “Women and children last!”
Here’s an example.
Just after I filed the story, Al Ahram reported that the country’s cotton exports had dropped 40.6% between September-November of 2012 and the same period of 2011 (hat tip: Daniel Pipes). According to the Egyptian daily, the drop is due to much larger domestic purchases of cotton by local textile companies:
Egyptian textile companies bought 415.8 thousand metric quintals of the local cotton in the period September-November 2012, a whopping increase of 326 percent compared with the corresponding quarter a year before.
That makes no sense, because Egyptian textile exports also fell by a big margin.
From Richard Metzger, publisher and lead blogger at Dangerous Minds:
I’ve written in the past about the big impact Metzger had in introducing me to counterculture and my disappointment following his embrace of Orthodox Marxism in 2009 — the same year that I started working full time as a conservative new-media troublemaker in the Breitbart tradition. I’m not offended by Metzger’s poor taste, rather just at how predictable and nonsensical it is. Two observations of the paradoxes inherent in the strange tradition that has emerged of using social media to emotionally unload on recently deceased public figures:
1. It’s sort of strange the way that atheist Marxists are so happy to declare belief in an afterlife childish except when they feel a need for a hell to stick in everyone they hate.
2. It’s even stranger the way people who normally roll around in moral relativism all of a sudden gain the confidence to label the most effective opponents of Communism as not just evil, but “pure evil.”
In The Company You Keep, Robert Redford stars in as well as directs a story of an ex-Weather Underground radical who has been living quietly as a public-interest lawyer in upstate New York for more than 30 years. His true identity is discovered by an annoying reporter (Shia LaBeouf) after the apprehension of one of his co-conspirators (Susan Sarandon), who was one of four terrorists who robbed a bank and murdered several security guards in the process.
Redford, that noted “liberal activist,” shows where his sympathies truly are. This is a movie that argues:
1. The Weathermen were fighting for peace.
The Company You Keep begins with a montage of real news clips (and a fake one) edited together to tell the story that the Weather Underground grew out of the antiwar group Students for a Democratic Society and that its activities were meant to end the Vietnam War by “bringing the war home.” Nonsense. The Weathermen loved war and wanted more of it. They were a murderous group of Black Power and Marxist revolutionaries bent on the violent overthrow of the United States. After the 1970 accidental explosion that killed several terrorists who blew themselves up with their own bombs in a downtown New York City townhouse, the true intent of the bombs was revealed: They were meant to be used to blow up a library on the campus of Columbia University. Not exactly a military target.
Michael O’Hare whose death at age 60 I just heard about today came as a special shock. He died of a totally unexpected heart attack. Of everybody I know I would have thought of Michael as the most indestructible, full of life and vitality.
Michael was an actor who is best known for playing the lead during the first year of Babylon 5 and who should be best known for originating the lead in the Broadway play, A Few Good Man [I wish I could share with you his jokes about the play but to put it mildly he thought it was a travesty on the honor of the U.S. military], for which he was passed up in the film version in favor of Jack Nicholson.
But that’s not why Michael was important. He was a friend beyond measure; a brave and funny and noble person. His brother was killed in a naval flying accident and Michael himself was grossly mistreated by those with power over his profession.
I will always regret that I did not stay as closely in touch with him as I should have done and it makes me resolve not to make the same mistake again. To say that he was not into social media is an understatement. But it is completely my fault that we got too far out of touch.
I can only tell you this: If you have friends you appreciate stay in touch with them. If there are people you want to tell about your good feelings about them be sure to express them. Because one day you might lose the chance to do so.
Left is Michael as you might have seen him; in the center is how I knew him (close to the way he looked joking at my wedding about how he put on his best space station commander act to impress my future in-laws). A truly great person and may his memory be blessed.
Jazz and Islam, Part 7
See last week’s part 6: The Questions Nobody Wants to Ask About ‘Moderate Islam’
The debate over James Holmes’s sanity has raged hotly ever since he murdered twelve people and wounded 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012. But now the controversy can be laid to rest: Holmes is sane. The clearest indication of his sanity came last week, when the Daily Mail reported that he had converted to Islam.
The Mail reported that Holmes is apparently quite devout: he has grown a lavish beard, eats only halal food, prays the obligatory five daily prayers, and studies the Qur’an for hours every day.
Holmes’s conversion reveals that instead of being unaware of what he did, or utterly remorseless, as one might expect of a psychotic or a sociopath, the murders must trouble him a great deal. For it is souls that are troubled — intellectually, morally, spiritually, psychologically — who cast about for some solution to what troubles them, and often find it in religious conversion.
But it is what Holmes converted to that is significant. Had Holmes converted to Christianity, he might have found relief for any remorse he might be feeling for the massacre in the proposition that in Christ his sins, no matter how great, were forgiven; if he had explored Buddhism, he might have focused upon developing right intention, right speech, and right action, and eradicating the illusions that led him to kill in the first place.
Instead, Holmes chose Islam. A prison source noted: “He has brainwashed himself into believing he was on his own personal jihad and that his victims were infidels.”
Something vile and horrific happened in a courtroom in Ohio last week, and as I’ve reflected upon the event, I’ve been disturbed by the thought that we have become a nation of compliant sheep that no longer produces citizens capable of standing up to injustice.
At a sentencing hearing for school shooter T.J. Lane, who gunned down six high school students, killing three and paralyzing one from the chest down, Judge David Fuhry gave Lane three life sentences in prison, to be served consecutively.
In what should have been a day of closure and justice for the families of the victims and the community of Chardon that suffered so much in the wake of the school shooting last year, a courtroom full of people stood by and allowed T.J. Lane to victimize the families in a base, contemptible way that likely added exponentially to the heavy burden the families already bear.
The courtroom for Lane’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday was packed with families of the victims, students, teachers, and members of the media. As the hearing began, Lane slipped off the button-down shirt he was wearing, revealing a t-shirt onto which he had written “KILLER” with a marker. A collective gasp filled the courtroom. As the families of the victims gave their statements, Lane smiled and leered at the families, almost seeming to enjoy the moment.
After the sentence was read, Lane had the opportunity to make a statement. At that point, he said something so horrific that I’m not even going to write it here, simply to spare you if you haven’t already heard it. (You can read it and watch the video here.) Trust me, you will have to bleach your soul once you hear it. It should be added to The Book of Things That Shall Never Be Repeated. Then Lane flipped the families the middle finger as a parting shot and said, “F*** all of you!” As a mother, I had a visceral — almost physical — reaction. I almost vomited, thinking about the pain his contemptible words caused the families and how they’ll never be able to scrub them from their minds.
People called talk-radio programs that day to vent their anger. Along with vicious prison-retribution wishes, caller after caller said they would have been arrested had they been in the courtroom. They wouldn’t have stood by while Lane visually and verbally tortured the parents.
WTAM host Bob Frantz said: “I would have been shot dead today. I would have leapt tables to get to that kid.”
Everyone stood by and let it happen.
Freelance writing is a financially precarious career – you’ve always got to be on the lookout for new opportunities, or you’re screwed. So when I found out recently about a relatively new online magazine called Inspire, my first thought was: hmm, what can I come up with that they might want to use?
Now – and hey, here’s a tip for you kids looking to move into the fast lane of the media game – the first thing you do in situations like this is to study the publication in question and try to determine its worldview, its style, its tone, its intended audience, and so on. Inspire, as it happens, is published by an organization called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Not al-Qaeda itself, mind you, but a branch of al-Qaeda with a similar but longer and more geographically specific name. It’s published in English and is apparently aimed at jihadist fanatics and aspiring jihadist fanatics.
A Fox News writer helpfully noted in 2010 that the magazine is “designed to encourage would-be terrorists into acts of violence,” and quoted Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution as saying that it’s “clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the U.S. or U.K. who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber.” Useful info for an aspiring contributor! A while back Inspire ran an article titled “I Am Proud to be a Traitor to America” by an author who, not long afterward, was taken out by a U.S. drone in Yemen. For a freelancer, this sort of thing is great news: when a publication’s regular contributors are being systematically decimated in anti-terrorist strikes, it’s more likely that there’s always going to be room for fresh blood.
For a long time doctors were subject to contradictory imperatives with regard to AIDS. On the one hand they were enjoined to treat it as they would treat any other disease, without animadversion on the way in which the patient had caught it; on the other hand they had, before testing for the presence of HIV, to seek special permission of the patient and to ensure that he or she had had counselling before the test was taken – quite unlike the testing for any other disease, syphilis for example. So AIDS was at the same time a disease like any other and also in a completely different category from all other diseases.
It cannot be said that pre-test counseling is universally popular among patients. There was an Australian clinic that famously offered the test with “guaranteed no counseling” and it did not lack for clients. For quite a number of years, however, HIV-test counselling has provided a living for the kind of people who like to hover around the edges of human catastrophe.
However, the recommendation by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), reported in an article in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, that henceforth the screening of adults for HIV infection should be routine will, if adopted, put paid to all such pre-test counseling. One cannot counsel scores or hundreds of millions of people.
Seven years ago the USPSTF came to a different conclusion on the question of screening for HIV, believing that the benefits were insufficient to recommend it. Since then, however, evidence has accumulated that treating people early in the course of their infection not only prolongs their life but reduces spread of the infection.
Picked this up from USA Today.
Bonnie Franklin was best known for her series “One Day At A Time”, playing a divorced mother of two girls, played by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli. I remember the series fondly, mostly because I thought all three of them were hot. The show was known for all sorts of dumb firsts, starting with first sitcom based around a divorced woman, but really worked because Franklin, Phillips, and Bertinelli played real, warm, flawed people. Franklin was also an accomplished musical performer, with lead roles in Broadway musicals.
She died today of pancreatic cancer, and is survived by her mother and stepsons.
Trying to locate people I knew long ago through Google and other searches is something I seem to engage in when I’m at a standstill, unable to come up with something else to do. And that situation, since I’m excessively busy, tends to occur late at night, when I should be going to sleep but feel the day is not quite finished, still lacking something.
The problem here is that late at night, before going to sleep, is not the best time to engage in searches that may be emotionally risky.
As a few nights ago when — rather suddenly, without really thinking about it — I Googled “Bill Wiley” (not his real last name) and the name of the high school we both went to, Shenendehowa. It’s in Clifton Park, New York, a small town a bit north of Albany.
Boom — I found his obituary. Shown on the original page of the newspaper of the small California town where he’d been living. Dated March 21, 1994.
So his death was not exactly breaking news. Bill no longer played a huge part in my thoughts, but memories did come up occasionally, and I had even told Tami some stories about him. Memories and stories, it turned out, of someone long gone from this world.