It’s Nothing Personal

I am not mourning the death of Michael Jackson. It’s nothing personal. And by that, I mean that’s the reason I’m not mourning. I didn’t know Mr Jackson. I don’t even know anyone who did know him.

It’s like the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The world wailed and cried. I was sorry that she had left two young sons without a mother. Likewise, I am sorry that Michael Jackson’s young children will be without their father. I am also sorry for the thousands each day throughout the world who become orphans and feel the same loss as Prince, Paris, and Blanket (otherwise known by their real names: Michael, Paris, and Prince). But grief and mourning are based upon a personal loss.

He was a significant contributor to popular culture, though I can’t say that’s necessarily a particularly laudable thing, either. I don’t know that we are better off for the moonwalk, the crotch grab, or faux militaria and the single glove. Like I said, it’s nothing personal.

I am also sad for the thousands of people who appear to be beside themselves at his death. They seem lost for meaning or purpose and shocked that he is no longer “with us”. Why it should be remarkable that a 50-year-old man who constantly abused his body with surgery and drugs has died, I don’t know.  It speaks volumes about state of world.  Those volumes make up a very sad story (again, about the world, not about Jackson).

When it comes to people I know, with whom I have a relationship as family, friend, or even acquaintance, when they mourn, I mourn, for I participate in a small way in their loss. This is why as Orthodox Christians we have panikhida services in our parishes. We share each others’ love and temporary loss in hope of the Resurrection of the Dead and the life of the world to come. We light our own candle for a loved one now beyond the veil, but we light our candles from each other and they shine together. Together we sing, “Memory eternal!”

The wall-to-wall coverage of the death of Michael Jackson cheapens death itself. It shares something with the constant images of violence and death that are the substantance of so many films and video games. We no longer see it as our common end, a pointer to our own mortality. It is a spectator sport.

Let Michael Jackson’s family and friends grieve and mourn his loss. He has secured his place in history. Let it be for us to remember that as he has become, so shall we all one day be, awaiting the Final Judgement.

Advertisements

The Decline and Fall of the English Language

I was going to blog last month about how a BBC2 documentary found that 80% of Britons cannot recite a single verse of poetry. This is not helped by the fact 58% pupils never study poetry in school. Not a line. The ones who do read Carol Ann Duffy, the Scottish lesbian who was just named the new Poet Laureate. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with Miss Duffy’s poetry, but reading a single living poet does not constitute a sufficient literary education.

Like I said, I was going to blog about it, but I’d just be whinging once again about the state of education in this country. Then yesterday I was having a conversation with a couple of 14-year-olds. It start with me telling off one of them for using a participle that is an inappropriate term derived from an innocuous noun. He had no idea what a participle is. Okay, that’s not a big surprise. I probably didn’t learn about participles until at least the 9th grade, maybe even the 10th.

The disturbing thing is that neither he nor his friend knew what a noun is. This is something I learned well before the 5th grade, because by then we were parsing sentences. Now with the average 14-year-old, I have trouble getting them to write in sentences. I had a 16-year-old who handed in an entire 1500-word coursework without using a single mark of punctuation. I’m not exaggerating. But back to the boys in Year 9. . .

They had heard the term “noun” before. They just couldn’t agree on what it was. One of them thought it was a “doing” word. The other thought it was a “describing” word. He contended it couldn’t be a “doing” word, because that was an adverb.  These were not pupils in the bottom English set. They were not pupils with special educational needs. Because I was teaching a mixed-ability group, there was a top-set girl who actually knew that a noun was a “naming” word.

No poetry, no grammar. Is it the end of the English language or the end of civilisation?

One thinks of Eliot. . .

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends

No, wait. That would be trite  to anyone who has seen this over-used reference to Eliot.  And on the other hand, clearly it would be lost upon anyone with a secondary education in Britain in the last decade. I believe the general response would be, “T. S. who?”

Buying Drugs

Paracetamol (as it is known in most of the world) or acetaminophen (as it is known in North America) is the most commonly overdosed drug. Nonetheless, in the US you can go to Wal-mart and get a tub of 225 of them, since they are perfectly safe when taken as directed. In the UK you can get 16. That’s right. The biggest pack of paracetamol is 16.

Legally you can buy six packs, but most stores, convinced by propaganda, will only sell you two. In fact, when the discount store Poundland started offering three packs for £1, there was quite a kerfuffle. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is ‘extremely concerned’.  The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency wants to change the law because they accuse Poundland of exploiting a loophole.

It’s not the price. You can get three 16s at Asda cheaper. Of course you would have to buy two packs,  take them out to your car, go back into the store and buy another pack, because this is apparently effective suicide prevention. The Goverment here thinks that you will buy the 32 (enough at once to damage or kill you anyway), and then think, “I’d like to do the job right, but since I’ll have to walk back into the store and pick another pack off the shelf, and go to the self-checkout, and fish out another 30p from my pocket, and take my receipt, and walk back out to my car… I’ll just go ahead and get on with my life.”

But the propaganda war as virtually been won. As reported in the Daily Mail,

Nurse Nichola Sheehan, who was stunned to spot the offer at her local branch in Chatham, Kent, said the offer could prove deadly and accused the chain of the ‘height of irresponsibility.’

Mother-of-two Mrs Sheehan, 47, who has worked for the NHS for more than 20 years, fears the offer could lead to tragedy as a dose of just eight paracetamol can prove fatal.

If eight is fatal, it’s seems like one pack of 16 would be more than enough. By Mrs Sheehan’s logic, they shouldn’t be selling it over the counter. In fact, they probably shouldn’t be selling it at all. It should only be available in a hospital administered by a doctor and locked in a cupboard.

Do we ever wonder why this country is going down the pan? The Government is busy micro-managing our lives, telling people how much paracetamol they can buy.

On the Death of George Tiller

I don’t know when I first became acquainted with the name of George Tiller. When I lived in Arkansas, I had friends and acquaintances who were regular protesters at his Kansas clinic. “Tiller the Killer” we called him. There was a time when I prayed Psalm 109 on behalf of the unborn with Tiller in mind. After all, while all abortionist equally take lives for money, Tiller was a special breed of abortionist. He was one of the few who would do late-term killing.

It is possible to make rational arguments about when life begins. People can have reasons for questioning the full humanity of the pre-born in the early stages of gestation.  Some people try to argue that fetuses in the earliest stages of development do not feel pain, though the scientific evidence is growing that this sense begins much earlier than previously thought. I think it is an irrelevant argument with regard to whether or not the fetus is fully human, and it was irrelevant with regard to the practices of George Tiller.

I’m not sure when Tiller believed human life begins, but even if believed it is at or sometime after birth, this does not excuse his actions. The Nazis didn’t believe the Jews were fully human, but that doesn’t excuse what they did. So many of those children who met up with George Tiller were in the latter part of development. Their organs were fully formed. Their brains were working, their blood circulating. And they died. Because George Tiller killed them.

Even now op-ed pieces are being published in newspapers blaming me for Tiller’s death. That’s right. Me. As Mike Hendricks of the Kansas City Star says:

And if we’re right about that [that Tiller’s murder was motivated by anti-abortion sentiment], then we already know the identities of his accomplices.

They include every one who has ever called Tiller’s late term abortion clinic a murder mill.

Who ever called Tiller “Tiller the Killer.”

That’s me. I called a spade a spade. Or as Hendricks puts it, I fomented blind hatred. Refusal to adopt the spirit of the age, whether it has to do with the unborn or creating rights based upon sexual preferences or any of the areas in which the supposedly radical right wing won’t budge, it always called hatred. Not “disagreement”, not “principle”, not “conviction” – only “hatred”. In fact, any opposition to abortion of any kind is so irrational that the bloggers of the left, like the Daily Kos, call us “Wingnuts”. They make it sound almost unbelievable that dangerously crazy hateful people like me want to the see the unborn born. What an unhinged idea.

Tiller’s chosen profession, and the violence of police against those who protested against it particularly in the late 80s and early 90s, motivated one of the songs I wrote and used to perform. I used to have people walk out of my shows when I sang lyrics like:

I saw perfect baby girl
Wrapped in a plastic blanket
In a garbage can
Lying in a bed of arms and legs
Dismembered remains of children
Slightly less fortunate.

The inviolability of property
Used for the worst atrocity
To take away the sanctity of life
While black-jack toting riot police
With orders from human deities
Crush all who dare object

So am I dancing up and down with Tiller’s demise? No. As the Lord said through the Prophet Ezekiel: “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”

Probably unlike the man in his 50s in the powder blue Ford and currently in custody, I don’t think that the death of George Tiller has saved any lives. He may have been one of the few in the US to perform very late-term abortions, but there will be someone to take his place. This man, like Paul Hill, John Salvi, and Eric Rudolph, took the law into their own hands and rightly must suffer the consequences. If anything, this act will have the opposite effect, because Tiller will become a martyr to those who do not value the life of the unborn. With a pro-abortion president and a pro-abortion Congress, this will be used to further facilitate abortion and further restrict the lawful actions of those who oppose it.

May God have mercy on the soul of George Tiller. In the Resurrection he will receive his reward, not because God or anyone else hates him, but because of his own choices.

May God have mercy on a country where George Tiller was allowed to ply his trade and where the blood of the innocent cries out like the blood of Abel.

May God have mercy on us all.