Христос Возкресе! And happy feast of Saint Athanasius the Great!
In her last two weekly columns, Ann Coulter provides Clayton Lockett’s gruesome backstory and then marvels at the Left’s souciant concern for Lockett’s “botched” execution: “Lockett & Load” and “Death Penalty Opponents, Have I Got a Deal for You!” From the latter:
As described in last week’s column, The New York Times and other sanctimonious news outlets censored details about the crime that put Clayton Lockett on death row, the better to generate revulsion at his deserved execution. You might say they buried the facts alive. [J.A.: In the first article, we learn that Lockett buried one of his victims alive.]
For example, the Times neglected to mention anything about the raping that preceded the murdering, which seems odd for a newspaper so consumed with the “War on Women.” (At least Lockett never refused to pay for a woman’s birth control pills!)
The Times also dropped the part about Lockett’s dangerous behavior while incarcerated, such as ordering hits on the witnesses against him, his threats to kill prison guards, and the bounty of homemade weapons seized from him in prison—saw blades, sharpened wires, shivs and shanks. (Old Times motto: “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” New Times motto: “Nobody Likes a Rat.”)
The newspaper also failed to report that Lockett had ended up in an adult prison by the age of 16 and then was convicted of four more felonies before committing the torture-murder of Stephanie Neiman that sent him to death row.
No, that information might distract from the Times’ florid descriptions of Lockett’s execution.
Bless their hearts, they gave it their all, but even the Times could not make Lockett’s “botched” execution sound particularly grisly. Here is the paper’s full, terrifying description:
“According to an eyewitness account by a reporter for The Tulsa World, Mr. Lockett tried to raise himself up, mumbled the word ‘man,’ and was in obvious pain. Officials hastily closed the blinds on the chamber and told reporters that the execution had been stopped because of a ‘vein failure.’ But at 7:06, the inmate was pronounced dead of a heart attack.”
HE RAISED HIMSELF UP? WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY ARE WE???
Actually, I’m not that horrified. It sounds as if he suffered a bit, which is nice, and he’s dead, which was the objective of the whole enterprise.
You want horrifying? Imagine a 2-inch baby being chopped up with scissors. That can’t feel great.
Maybe they—and MSNBC’s similarly high-minded Rachel Maddow—should comfort themselves by thinking of Lockett’s execution as a very, very, very late-term abortion. You know, the kind that liberal darling Wendy Davis filibustered for 11 hours to keep legal.
Since Rachel and the Times are such big fans of partial-birth abortion, would they mind if we took a gigantic pair of scissors, jammed them in the back of Clayton Lockett’s head and let his brain slide out? Let’s get Kermit Gosnell working again!
Or how about giving the citizens of Oklahoma the right to choose an acid bath for condemned murderers? We’ll submerge people like Lockett in a tub filled with burning fluid until he’s mostly disintegrated and can be flushed down the toilet. (If it’s low-flow, flush twice.)
Or maybe an industrial vacuum designed to tear Lockett’s body apart.
Which reminds me: Would the Times ever give as detailed a description of an abortion as it does for the execution of a remorseless killer? The odds are pretty high that the baby isn’t even a rapist/murderer.
Opposition to the death penalty has nothing to do with compassion. Liberals weeping for murderers have zero compassion for an innocent baby trying to escape an abortionist’s cranioclast. Their dead earnestness about monsters like Clayton Lockett is solely designed to demonstrate how virtuous they are.
Coulter treads close to Steve Sailer in her analysis of leftist opposition to the death penalty. I know that she reads Sailer as she links to him occasionally. I wonder if she also read Lawrence Auster’s site. Speaking of Auster, Coulter’s current topic reminds me of a thread from a couple of years ago in which I caused some dismay to Lydia McGrew and others for defending the subhuman characterization of men like Lockett. From “Feral blacks and the image of God”:
The discussion in “Feral blacks and the image of God” requires some useful metaphysical distinctions.
As Lydia McGrew notes, Christians affirm that all human beings are made in the image of God. However, we often fail to live up to the high calling that our nature demands. Church Fathers from Irenaeus of Lyon to Bonaventure distinguish between God’s image and God’s likeness in which we are made. The image is in our essence; we cannot lose that, just as we cannot become oak trees or bullfrogs. However, through sin, we lose the likeness, and thus the way that the divine image manifests itself becomes marred. Therefore, it is correct to call evil people subhuman or bestial if we mean that they are failing to live up to the fully human standard of a rational creature oriented toward the good. This is true of everyone to some extent and at certain times, but it is sadly holds for certain souls to an extreme degree most or all of the time.
Consider the wicked boys who tortured the Haitian mother and her son in Florida five years ago (I wrote about it here). Such boys are human beings in that they have a human nature; they do carry the image of God. However, they have been so fully perverted that it is sensible to say that they are less than human. They are like Dionysius’ demons or Tolkien’s orcs—so fully corrupted that they no longer appear to have the essence given to them by God—though they fundamentally do.
In the Nicomachean Ethics [typo in the original], Aristotle recognizes that repeated vicious actions slowly pervert one’s practical reason, and this process eventually leads to the complete destruction of one’s moral compass. Therefore, the vicious man is no longer fully human in that he has lost his ability to perceive the moral good. Of course, his essence remains human, but his actuality is not.
Such appears to irk certain folks for two main reasons. First, any suggestion that dehumanizes a member of Homo sapiens troubles them greatly. “First, they came for the men who raped and killed infants. Then, they came for the unrepentant matricidal maniacs. When will they come for me?!?!?!” That is a K-Y slippery slope, but Godwin’s Law is absolute. Second, the modern mind has difficulty in grasping “vertical” metaphysical distinctions, as the thread demonstrates.
Here are some links to posts about our sorry academic and general intellectual situation:
“College Students Demand Respect” on The Thinking Housewife with a guest article by Richard Cocks
“The Academy Then and Now” by Paul Gottfried at the the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy site (courtesy of Thomas F. Bertonneau)
“Arguing Over Argument in the Internet Age” by James Kalb in Crisis Magazine
If that was not enough doom and gloom for you, check out this enthusiastic support for constructivism: “Constructivist Learning and Teaching.”
Sigh. I stand by my belief that nominalism has been the chief specific cause of the West’s decay.
Rend your clothes and toss dust.
Below is a comment that I made earlier to Kristor’s Onward, Christian Bloggers Orthosphere post. The readers there are trading words over several issues, and I decided to respond to an objectionable comment:
If you want to talk about CS Lewis and fantasy stories than there’s always Charlton’s blog. Because you know, that is what traditionalism really needs another commentator on the Inklings.
Egads! I find Charlton’s commentary on Tolkien et alia very interesting. Do we really need to reduce ourselves to one thing needful? The inhuman Left is full of tedious bores who fanatically confuse the personal and the political, who won’t ever bury their bone du jour, and who bother everyone around them with their passing obsessions. For the love of the world, we need more folks to comment on the Inklings . . . as well as on patterns of seasonal duck migration, the spiritual benefits of tinkering on old machines, the best ways to incorporate spinach in baked goods, how to entertain jack russells, and so on. This is what we traditionalists claim as our “seamless garment.” Life and the world are unified—the cosmos and our participation in it are divine gifts, and we should comport ourselves appropriately and with gratitude.
I agree that our society is going to hell in a shoddy handbasket, but we cannot reduce our lives to that decay—or to the response to it. If we were really on a sinking ship (not metaphorical), then, of course, it would not be the time to talk of Dickinson or blueberries, but that is due to the allotted time and urgency. Our civilization is breaking beneath the waves, but man cannot live so single-mindedly for long without becoming monstrously imbalanced. Plan, strengthen yourself, manipulate the enemy, but do so as a man rather than an ideologue. And men eat, laugh, play, sing, read, and ponder. Act this and act that . . . this cult of doing is largely how we ended up in this mess. To quote Eliot’s Harcourt-Reilly:
Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.
Quite true—it is as if post-Christian society has perverted Paul’s redeeming the time with anxious busy-ness for some cause or other. Maybe, if we crossed a Yankee Presbyterian with a Zen Buddhist, we might get a balanced human being—geographically and temperamentally, we’d come up with a good Bavarian Catholic who works hard, loves his family, minds his manners, and enjoys beer and dancing on Saturdays.
How I love Bavaria.
Well, spring is reportedly on its way. At least, my crocuses are blooming, and I have the blue orchard mason bee houses hung around the yard awaiting their springtime occupants. If better weather is nigh for you, enjoy the outdoors—and the rest of March.
Some years ago, I admitted that I had never read anything by Ayn Rand. Since then, I have read selections, but I have yet to tackle a major work. However, I did watch the first two parts of the Atlas Shrugged movie trilogy. Although the films had an indie film budget and less than spectacular production values, I enjoyed them. Having never read the book, I could not judge textual fidelity, but I did enjoy the brutal portrayal of leftist malice and stupidity. The American Left gets to indulge in the worst human tendencies toward cruelty every day; the society belongs to it, and it dominates the organs of culture. Hence, we must tolerate a constant stream of film, television, and journalistic material that depicts whites, conservatives, Christians, and the combination of the three in the most revolting way. Rightwingers do not have many opportunities for such pleasure—but, judaeae gratias, Atlas Shrugged provides it in abundance. The story depicts the hypocrisy, inanity, cowardice, parasitism, and idiocy of the Left in a delightfully decadent way! Indeed, as I watched the films, I almost (but not quite) felt ashamed in enjoying the spectacle, suspecting that the depiction might not be fair. “The real ones are bad—but are they that bad?” I just do not like thinking of my fellow men in such a low way. Yet, reality asserts itself and reminds me that, yes, they are that bad—indeed, worse than artifice conjures.
As few weeks ago, I read an unbelievable article by Lynn Shepherd in The Huffington Post: “If JK Rowling Cares about Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.” Shepherd’s main point is that Rowling has enjoyed much success as a children’s literature writer with the Harry Potter series and now her name recognition is leading to success in her ventures into adult fiction. As such, she is crowding out lesser known writers. So, Shepherd reasons, Rowling should mind her place and stop taking up bookshelf real estate.
As I read Shepherd’s opinions, I immediately thought of the regulators in Ayn Rand’s tale. I also reflected how, notwithstanding how much I want to give the enemy the benefit of the doubt, he always justifies my initial misgivings in the end. Leftists refuse to be outdone by their opponents’ mockery of them.
Later, I read the following post by John C. Wright, “The Orcs and the Books,” where Wright describes the same experience—only a thousand times better:
. . . Second, some readers might wonder why a loyal Catholic zealot like myself has such affection for a adulterous heretic like Ayn Rand, the Apostle of the Sin of Pride. Our philosophies are opposite. I say that the greatest evil in the world is to turn away from that self-sacrificing love which is like God and which is God. She says the greatest evil in the world is to live for another or to allow another to live for you.
Well, despite all differences, here is why I like her: Every time I am tempting to think the bizarre and grotesque portrayals of the collectivist villains in her novels are exaggerations, or are simplistic, or are unrealistic, real life sharply checks me.
Every time I think that the jeering gargoyles she portrays in her books could not possibly exist in real life, a Gothic rainspout shakes itself awake and speaks.
There is a scene in ATLAS SHRUGGED where no-talent writers conspire with no-talent businessmen and no-talent political hacks to pass a law forbidding any change in the production of new books or artistic products.
For a moment, the goons are puzzled as to how such a law would be played out, but the no-talent writers are relieved to hear that under this plan, their old books would be ceaselessly reprinted, and offered in bookstores, and the bookstores will be punished at law if they fail to sale the exact same number of books next year and ever after as this year. The obvious impossibility of this is not a defect in the plan, but the point. The laws are made so that everyone will be in violation of one part or another.
Under the fair-share law, successful authors have to share their success with unsuccessful authors, and the talented be punished, and the lazy be rewarded.
The argument made above that successful writers should bow gracefully aside to allow unsuccessful writers a fair share of the market is so economically illiterate, so childish, so vile, so shocking to the mind of any honest man, that it acts in part like camouflage. Upon hearing the orcs talking in their orc-talk about ruining the writing field, making the writing field worse, driving good books away and shoving bad books into their shelf space in the name of fair play, and, in short, talking about heaping the writing field high with warm filth and stinking ordure, flies and rivulets and urine, the sane people react with a blankness of mind akin to shutting one’s eyes at too great a shock. We cannot believe the orcs are serious. We assume they cannot mean that.
You want J.K. Rowlings, the most celebrated writer of our age, to write LESS? The mind reels, we think the orcs do not mean it, we do nothing to shut them down or shut them up, and then the orcs carry out their program, while we scratch our heads, puzzled that no one told us that this was exactly what they meant all along.
But it is what they mean. . . .
“Every time I think that the jeering gargoyles she portrays in her books could not possibly exist in real life, a Gothic rainspout shakes itself awake and speaks.” How marvelous! And apt to the situation!
I often notice that others in the traditionalist realms of the internet have had the same insight or made the same point on a given topic. For a recent example, I read George Michalopulos’ observations about the Winter Olympics a few days after I posted “Sochi Sour” and found quite similar arguments. We posted the entries on the same day, and yet we independently came to the same conclusions. When I find such cases, I wonder for a moment if perhaps we are suffering from a hive mind, but I do not think so. Rather, we dissenters witness the madness of the world on a daily basis and, being sane, call lunacy its proper name. The real shock is why more people do not have the same response.
Concerning Shepherd’s argument about Rowling, I find it abhorrent and shamelessly self-serving. If we want the world to become better, then why would we ask someone who makes it better by creating works of value to stop such production? Why would one wish to deprive the world of more treasure? It is wicked! Shepherd admits that she has never read any of Rowling’s books, but she questions the literary value of Rowling’s adult works based on others’ criticism. So, maybe Shepherd’s position could be defended as simply sensible aversion to hype. Yet, that hype developed from millions of readers’ experiences with her books rather than a suave media blitz, and the reputation has held up well over the last seventeen years. It is not a passing fad. Of course, a million Brits could be (and frequently are) wrong, but it is niggardly of Shepherd to refuse to grant Rowling her laurels of talent—especially when she refuses to read the author whom she judges so. Shepherd’s position is not that Rowling writes worthless drivel. In Shepherd’s own words, “when it comes to the adult market [Rowling has] had [her] turn.”
I think of Nietzsche’s reflections on Raphael in On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, “That a Raphael had to die at the age of thirty-six, for example, is offensive to morality: such a being ought never to die” (page 48, tr. Preuss). Consider what mankind lost at Raphael’s young death. Think of what such a man could have done with another forty years. Only demons rejoice at such facts. I am not equating Harry Potter with the Italian Renaissance, but the principle applies regardless. We should rejoice at the enrichment of the world. Only the servants of hell want to make the cosmos worse rather than better. And Shepherd desires such perversity from egoism . . . how satanically fitting. It is ironic that Ayn Rand, the preacher of selfishness, should be the one who delights in the excellence of others while the “altruistic” Left allows egoism to blight the world.
I discovered a disheartening but interesting list while reading one of John Derbyshire’s recent posts on Vdare, “The HANDLE’S HAUS List Of PC Purges—And Dogma, Dissent, And Duty.” Derbyshire, who makes the list for the Lowry treatment at National Review, shares the moment that inspired him to stand athwart the spirit of the age, yelling “Liar!” He further analyzes the record to see if there are temporal trends in contemporary leftist witch-hunting (answer: inconclusive). I commend Handle for compiling a list of contemporary shame; read it: “Bullied and Badgered, Pressured and Purged.” On it are so many people whose attachés our cultural elites are not worthy to loosen . . .
Merry Christmas, blessings on this feast day of the Lord’s Circumcision, and happy Saint Basil’s day!
Weapons history enthusiasts were sad last month to see the passing of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47. The Telegraph posted a short article with photographs and video: “Kalashnikov inventor dies aged 94.” Correspondence between Kalashnikov and Patriarch Kirill has publically surfaced; read “Kalashnikov ‘feared he was to blame’ for AK-47 rifle deaths.” Alfred Nobel had similar concerns about dynamite, but he willed his fortune to award the Nobel Prizes as an atonement. Maybe, the Russian state could offer a similar honor in Kalashnikov’s memory. However, the Russkies should ensure that such awards not end up in the hands of men like Le Duc Tho, Yasser Arafat, and Al Gore and that they would go to worthy recipients—unlike Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama not even nine months into his first term.
Speaking of weapons history, I recommend that you visit the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum if you ever get the chance. It used to be at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, but the military is moving it to Fort Lee in Virginia. The place pretty much has every kind of gun, ammunition, and tank ever made. The museum director used to be an eccentric but genial officer who knew everything about the evolution of arms. He may still be there. He was a tough guy and may live forever.
Mikhail Kalashnikov—memory eternal!
Yesterday, Kristor offered a short but thoughtful essay on pedagogy and human nature on the Orthosphere, “Life & the Limit.” I recommend it as well as its comments thread.
Enjoy the weekend and Christmastide, but remember the holy innocents tomorrow (December 29/January 11)—both the original slaughtered boys and the children killed by wicked people in every age, including our own. Their blood cries out to the Lord from the ground! I’ll also think of the murder of Alexei Nikolaevich—may he pray for us and for his longsuffering people.
As I mentioned a few years ago in “Fine Art Remakes,” I don’t know why the date for the holy innocents differs in the various Churches—the memorial is observed on December 28 in the Roman Church, December 29 in the Orthodox Churches, and December 27 in some Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches.
مسیح برخاسته است
Several weeks ago, Kristor posted two essays on the Orthosphere about politics that I highly recommend: “The Metastasy of Wickedness” and “A Modest Proposal: Enclose the Commons.” In them, Kristor diagnoses a disease and proposes a treatment. His diagnosis is obviously correct, but I am not fond of the suggested health regimen. Read it and ponder.
I do think that Kristor’s corporatization of politics, if ever possible, would be better than the dysfunctional and insane commontheft that we have now. However, there is no substitute for an outright principled rejection of modernity’s many idols, including and especially the liberal, egalitarian, democratic republic. Kristor’s idea is fascinating—just like fascism, Falangism, distributism, syndicalism, neo-corporatism, salafism, and other “reactionary” models for modern society. They are pretty good on noting the problems of the liberal commonwealth, the socialist state’s corrosive, enfeebling effects on its people as well as its tendency toward hard or soft tyranny, and the soul killing and flattening natures of capitalism and democracy, but they all carry a somewhat unpleasant odor. When they are not guilty of pendulum swinging overreaction or subtle or cowardly submission to leftist folly, they appear as politics’ version of a snake oil peddling crank. I think that is because they are revolutionary movements that have begun in the imaginations and mental abstractions of intellectuals rather than having slowly emerged from the trials of life through the centuries. A sane and stable political system must organically develop among civilized people with generally wise and virtuous leadership. Tragically, the last three centuries have turned every traditional society upside down and destroyed every virgin forest of the pre-revolutionary soul. Any way forward (or shall we say back to the good path) will necessarily be reactive, intellectual, and crankish—but it is a frightfully dangerous business for men to presume themselves equal to the accumulated wisdom of generations. How rare a wise lawgiver and founder of a new regime is!
I learnt yesterday of the death of Mrs. Barbara Willke this past Sunday evening. The Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati posts the details: “In Memoriam: Mrs. Barbara Willke”:
With great sadness, Cincinnati Right to Life mourns the loss of Mrs. Barbara Willke, who served as co-founder along with her husband and as chairman of the organization for 28 years. She died peacefully Sunday night at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, after suffering a severe head injury due to a fall. Funeral arrangements are pending.
“Mrs. Willke was a woman of courage and intelligence whose lifelong commitment to preserving the sanctity of human life is a moving legacy,” said Paula Westwood, Executive Director Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. “No one can fill her shoes.”
Barbara Willke was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and internationally known author, lecturer, and expert in human sexuality. She held B.S. and R.N. degrees from the University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing & Health, plus graduate studies at University of Dayton.
Mother of six, grandmother of 22, foster mother of several teenagers, Barbara headed the Department at the College of Nursing for five years before her full-time career as wife and mother. She is the wife of Dr. John Willke, past president of National Right to Life, president, Life Issues Institute and president emeritus, International Right to Life Federation. They would have been married for 65 years this June.
With Dr. Willke, Barbara co-authored twelve books on human sexuality and abortion. Together they created audio and visual materials that were proven to be basic teaching tools throughout the world. Their materials have been translated into 30 languages on all five continents. She and Dr. Willlke frequently appeared on radio and TV shows. They have spoken in 64 different countries.
Mrs. Willke was awarded honorary doctorates from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and, along with Dr. Willke, Cincinnati’s Xavier University.
Congressman Henry Hyde’s words bring to mind Barbara Willke:
When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God — and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world — and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him, because he loved us!’
I used to volunteer at the Right to Life office in North College Hill when I was a teenager, and I would always find Mrs. Willke tirelessly working in her office, though she was decades older than retirement age. Even though she and her husband were instrumental in founding the right to life movement in America and were internationally celebrated in prolife circles, Mrs. Willke humbly remained in Cincinnati and toiled in our small, unpretentious R.T.L. headquarters. She would frequently come out to say encouraging words and to show her appreciation to the volunteers while we helped stuff envelopes and did other clerical tasks in the back workroom. She was always kind and grandmotherly, manifesting a quiet but radiant and peaceful joy. May her memory be eternal! And of that, I am certain. I do not have definite views on the afterlife, but if souls may converse in the presence of the Lord, then I suspect that her friend the late Nellie Gray was there to welcome Mrs. Willke home.
Yesterday, Baroness Margaret Thatcher died. May her memory be eternal.
The Telegraph lists reactions from British and world politicians and other public personalities, including the following tribute from Nancy Reagan:
It is well known that my husband and Lady Thatcher enjoyed a very special relationship as leaders of their respective countries during one of the most difficult and pivotal periods in modern history.
Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end communism. The world has lost a true champion of freedom and democracy.
As Prime Minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to ‘rock the boat’.
As a result, she helped to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of millions of people. Ronnie and I knew her as a dear and trusted friend, and I will miss her.
The United States knew Margaret as a spirited and courageous ally, and the world owes her a debt of gratitude.
Here is the lady during her last few days as Prime Minister arguing against the latest levellers to plague Albion:
An admirer who maintains the Youtube channel thatcheritescotthatcheritescot has compiled bits of speeches into two videos that will surely bring a smile to your face:
Thatcher now joins the other formidable and courageous persons of her generation, including Ronald Reagan, Václav Havel, John Paul II, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who have fully graduated from their service to the common good and have journeyed to better climes. Let us pray for their souls, and, God willing, may they pray for us in troubled times.