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April 21, 2007


In all fairness, I must admit that poem is the most disgraceful artistic endeavor since Jonathan Swift endorsed cannibalism.


If set to music, it might make a good National Anthem.

I believe hilzoy called Lewis' article lower than dirt, not Lewis himself. So what was your point again, Mr. Burton?

mattbastard et al: trouble is, the "poem" in question was apparently *not* intended ironically.

Not that its quality *qua* poetry would improve much if it had been.

Ugh: you're quite the dodger.

Full text of the Giovanni poem (and a little context.)

I'm getting curious now. Who precisely is being dehumanized in the Giovanni poem? Steve, if you could tell me what you think the poem means, I think we could better address your concerns. However, if you are simply trying to smear a VT teacher in order to blame the massacre on liberalism, well, words fail me.

So, Mr Burton, do you ever troll FrontPage and take David Horowitz to task for things written during his time at the helm of Ramparts? ("OMGWTFBBQ!!11 You wrote something inflammatory 40 years ago! Have you no decency, sirrah?")

The '60s were a long time ago. People change.
(Ok, no more tidbits for you - apart from delicious pie.)

Cherry pie!

youre usually 18 yrs old when you enter college. you are considered an adult and expected to conduct yourself accordingly. from what i have seen on tv and read in print vt did try to help this lost soul. they can only do so much. they could have kicked him out of the university which would have probably had the same end result. what more could they have done? they dont have the legal authority to commit the guy. the court did but decided no to take such action. this is what it is: a tragedy. a horrible, awful tragedy. sometimes things in life just cant be explained. i feel horrible for all involved. the innocent kids that died, their families, chos family and yes, cho himself. if i have learned anything from studying the life of christ it is empathy. jesus tried to teach us empathy. to put ourselves in anothers shoes. walk someone elses walk and not be so obsessed with ourselves. to not be myopic. he know it was the only way to make the world a better place. even was jesus was drawing his last breath he asked god to forgive the very people that tortured and killed him for no reason! he had done nothing legally wrong. even herod, who wanted him dead, couldnt find fault with him and let him go. at the end of jesus' physical life he had sympathy for his murderers.
blame has become politics by other means. andy phx.

The 60's were not that long ago. That is why we still need affirmative action to correct the wrongs and institutional discrimination. If Giovanni is not responsible for her own words, how can we be responsible for those of others?

That is a fairly shocking poem. It is hard to imagine selecting that author to address a gathering for the fallen.

"Homer, yes."

"(Achilles), spoke and pulled the brazen spear from the body, and laid it to one side, and pulled away from the shoulders the bloody armour. And the other sons of the Achaians came running about him, and gazed upon the stature and imposing beauty of Hector; and none stood beside him who did not stab him; and thus they would speak one to another, each looking at his neighbor:
See now, Hector is much softer to handle than he was when he set the ships ablaze with the burning firebrand."


"(Achilles) spoke and now thought of shameful treatment for glorious Hector. In both of his feet at the back he made holes for the tendons in the space between ankle and heel, and drew thongs of ox-hide through them, and fastened them to the chariot as to let the head drag, and mounted the chariot, and lifted the glorious armor inside it, then whipped the horses to a run, and they winged their way unreluctant. A cloud of dust rose where Hector was dragged, his dark hair was falling about him, and that head that was once so handsome was tumbled in the dust, since by this time Zeus had given him over to his enemies, to be defiled in the land of his fathers."

Well, better than Nikki Giovanni, but still, the things liberal men will do when bewitched by the sight of Helen's breasts.

I can't remember anything about the Sixties, which proves I am the only one on this thread who was there.

Steve B: It was, in fact, the article I called lower than dirt. I have no problem dehumanizing an article, since they aren't human to start with.

Besides that, I don't think of 'lower than dirt' as dehumanizing, particularly. When you call a person low, you're calling that person a low person, as in "that low-down man of mine." Lower than low, lower than dirt -- these are all just ways of saying that someone is even lower than the SNZ's low-down man. So if I had said that Lewis was lower than dirt, I don't think it would have been dehumanizing either.

But I didn't.

And since I did not praise (or in any way characterize) Nikki Giovanni, I fail to see what her poem has to do with anything -- or would have even had it been written ten days ago, not nearly 40 years ago.

jrudkis: The bio I linked to indicates Giovanni, like many ex-radicals, has moderated her views since that time. (Although I suppose the folks at Mademoiselle deserve some vigorous tut-tutting for once naming her 'Woman of the Year'. For shame.)

Regardless, this post is not about Nikki Giovanni and her 'disturbing' Vietnam-era writings (or at least it wasn't until Burton interjected with his well-timed red herring).

(Last post on this from me - the thread is essentially KIA, even without the traditional Godwin violation.)

Everyone please ignore the pearl-clutching concern troll. Things will go a lot more smoothly.

(Although I agree w/jrudkis that with some phat Timbaland beats behind it that would be one heck of a national anthem.)

In DOC 2 we were required to attend an outside meeting by a NOW activist on the topic of abortion . . . We asked for a counter-balance speaker to that and were offered the super-hokey "Silent Scream".

This is, quite honestly, hilarious.

My word was *dehumanizing*.

my bad. but now that means you are even less accurate than i initially thought. awesome.

In my opinion, the phrase "lower than dirt" is about as *dehumanizing* as it gets.

oy. you can't be serious.

from the article you're defending:

    ...which is currently leading the charge for Islamic fascism through such creatures as George Galloway.

now there's some literal dehumanization.

But if you were to really internalize multiculturalism, you would know that being "lower than dirt" is in fact a specific negative put down for Arab culture, to the point where simply pointing your foot toward someone is often taken as an insult.

I actually like the poems (though I am not much of a poetry lover), but it does seem to support and promote violence against "innocent" people, much like those killed.

I am sure that she moderated her views since then, but I wouldn't have chosen someone with that background to be the speaker at an event like that, since I am sure there are plenty of people with out that background who could have given a similarly appropriate speech.

Before I launch into this, I should say that I appreciate you hanging around.

However, with all due respect, I don't think you (nor I) should have any damn thing to say about who the community of VT chooses to speak, because it is _their_ ceremony. I realize that you may be simply responding to the troll, so don't take this as a personal attack, but this illustrates how easy it is when people with a desire to knock the conversation off track can create a situation where people can suggest they have some say in this.

Again, apologies for being the recipient of the disgust I feel for someone who really wants to make political hay out of a memorial service. But that kind of behavior is what makes political discourse the cesspit it has become, I think.

But that kind of behavior is what makes political discourse the cesspit it has become,

always has been. humans don't change - only our tools change.

Speaking of cesspits, the NRSC is advertising in its prowar TV ads.

But then I cleverly closed the browser window in which I was composing, and lost it all.

Hilzoy: Upgrade to Firefox 2 and it won't let you close a window you're composing in without a prompt. Even if it crashes, it restores your session, but it might not restore what you typed. Anyway, Firefox 2 is good stuff.

"Even if it crashes, it restores your session, but it might not restore what you typed."

It has in each of several cases of my experience.

I wondered about that comment of Hilzoy's, but was in a mood of being fearful that I'd sound overly pushy if I addressed software that wouldn't let that happen.

I don't mean to be dismissive, but I've gotten a bit sick of this 'it's always been this bad'. I mean America is founded on the notion of the future being something better than the past, so pulling out the 'humans never change' elides the point that things are supposed to, in some way, be getting better. Anything else is anti-american ;^)

From what I have read (news may be different, I was on vacation, Cho started as a business major and was one for 3 years before switching to english. So maybe it was those teachings of ruthless modern business practices and crass capitalism that taught him to hate. Just saying.

"I mean America is founded on the notion of the future being something better than the past, so pulling out the 'humans never change' elides the point that things are supposed to, in some way, be getting better."

Sure, but that is no excuse to forget that human beings really have been this bad before.

By that measure, we can't really complain about anything because we've already seen it. Judges gotta be activists, pundits gotta be hacks. If that's the case, why bother commenting on anything?

LJ: I can see both sides of this. Emotionally I’m with you.

But I think Sebastian is correct in that any cultural memory we have of “gentlemanly politics” is more a desire to want there to have been such a time than a reality. I think that the pursuit of power has probably always been just as brutal as the culture at the time would allow.

It was 1804 when Burr won his duel with Hamilton.

Cleek had a great point about “tools”. At one time newsprint and word of mouth was all there was. In 1924 radio came into play. 1948 - First political TV ad. 1960 – Kennedy/Nixon debates. 1964 – The “Daisy” ad. 1973 – Watergate hearings. 1980 – Cable news born. 90s – Talk radio. 2004 – Blogs. 2008 – YouTube… 2012 - ???

I think that the cesspool has always been there. It is now just easier for anyone to add to it, and more people have a view and catch the odor wafting up.

This is not to disagree with your larger point – politicizing the service was disgusting.

Argh, my NPR station, WAMU, just had a "news" segment interviewing fraudster John Lott, who among other things explained how Prof. Liviu Librescu survived the Nazi gun laws only to be killed by US gun laws.

I'll take emotional sympathy any day. But my point (and there was a reason why I deployed it in a comment to Cleek rather than to anyone else, which is because I don't think cleek has been someone who tries to short circuit discussion by invoking shapes of shades past) is that the 'it's always been this bad' is often used in just such a way.

Here is Barney Frank speaking about Chris Shays' (!) delaying tactics. One would imagine that if Clair Engle were alive today and, as he did in voting against the Civil Rights filibuster, pointed to his eye to cast a vote to stop a filibuster because he was unable to speak, we would be treated to a flurry of motions claiming that the gesture did not meet the requirements of an affirmative vote.

LJ: No doubt you are right.

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