In praise of other writers

I’m going to do something that writers don’t often do, either because of their egos or because it’s frowned upon to talk about the craft (perhaps this being considered to be too boring or too nerdy or maybe even kind of like a magician talking about the technical aspects of magic): I’m going to praise some recent writing that I’ve seen on the ‘Net.

First, there is Bill Moyers’ line about “the creature from the Second Amendment who showed up at the president’s rally armed to the teeth.” “Creature from the Second Amendment” — that’s priceless. (And a potential title should Michael Moore ever desire to make a sequel to “Bowling for Columbine.”)

Now, I’m all for the Second Amendment — after all, we need to be able to protect ourselves from the armed but brainless dipshits who think that bringing an assault rifle to a public political rally is an acceptable form of free speech.

Seriously, though, I am for the Second Amendment — but the spirit of the Second Amendment is that you get to protect yourself from real danger. The spirit of the Second Amendment is not that you to intimidate people by showing up at public events locked and loaded; that is an abuse of the Second Amendment, just like screaming “Fire!” in a jam-packed movie theater is an abuse of the First Amendment.

Moyers also recently cleverly wrote:

Bill Maher asked me on his show last week if America is still a great nation. I should have said it’s the greatest show on earth. Forget what you learned in civics about the Founding Fathers — we’re the children of Barnum and Bailey, our founding con men. Their freak show was the forerunner of today’s talk radio.

And Moyers continues, talking to President Obama:

No one’s ever conquered Washington politics by constantly saying “pretty please” to the guys trying to cut your throat….

Come on, Mr. President. Show us America is more than a circus or a market. Remind us of our greatness as a democracy.

When you speak to Congress next week, just come out and say it. We thought we heard you say during the campaign last year that you want a government-run insurance plan alongside private insurance…. Open to all individuals and employees who want to join and with everyone free to choose the doctors we want.

We thought you said Uncle Sam would sign on as our tough, cost-minded negotiator standing up to the cartel of drug and insurance companies and Wall Street investors whose only interest is a company’s share price and profits….

This healthcare thing is make or break for your leadership, but for us, it’s life and death. No more Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. President. We need a fighter. 

Yup.

That’s some pretty good writing.

Then there is Maureen Dowd’s latest column echoing much the same sentiments titled “Less Spocky, More Rocky,” in which Dowd asserts, as the title of her column indicates, that President Barack Obama could be less controlled and logical and above it all, like Mr. Spock, and instead, like Rocky Balboa, take the gloves off already. (“[Obama] can live long and prosper by being less Spocky and more Rocky,” Dowd creatively concludes her column.)

Now, I often can’t get through a Dowd column. She too often tries to be funny but instead falls flat — I usually hate it when she makes up “comedic” dialogue (if she wanted to be a playwright, she should have been a playwright, not a columnist) — and she seems to love to dazzle us with her cultural references that, if we want to know what the fuck she’s saying, we have to Google. (She doesn’t even do the courtesy of giving us links to her obscure reference.)

But if Dowd came up with “less Spocky, more Rocky” on her own, then kudos to her, because it’s pretty clever, like “the creature from the Second Amendment.”  

Anyway, in “Less Spocky, More Rocky,” Dowd writes:

Sometimes, when you’ve got the mojo, you have to keep your foot on your opponent’s neck. When you’re trying to get a Sisyphean [my link, not Dowd’s] agenda passed, it’s good if people in the way — including rebellious elements in your own party — fear you.

Civil discourse is fine, but when the other side is fighting dirty, you should get angry. Don’t let the bully kick sand in your face….

It was one thing for Obama to delegate freely when he was on the Harvard Law Review, but it’s madness to go play golf and delegate freely to Congress, letting Nancy Pelosi make your case. After signaling that there was nothing he’d fall on his sword for on health care; after dropping Van Jones at the first objection from Glenn Beck — a demagoon who called Obama a “racist” — the president is getting to be seen as an easy mark…. 

Yup. Civil discourse works only with civil individuals.

That’s why I write such things as “Glenn Beck Must Die” as a potential book title and “Just shoot me. (But only after you shoot Glenn Beck.)”

Do I really advocate for the murder of Glenn Beck? Oh, as tantalizing as the fantasy is, no, I do not, and if I had Beck’s face in the sights of my assault rifle that I’d brought to a public rally, perhaps a “tea party” — you know, because I’m all about the Second Amendment ‘n’ stuff — would I pull the trigger? Oh, no, very most likely not, unless it was a clear-cut case of self-defense.

But am I too timid to shy away from anything other than “civil” discourse?

Oh, fuck no.

Most of the wingnuts most likely won’t go any further than issuing words, so it’s pretty safe to issue words back.

When we progressives don’t fight back — when we opt to be “Spocky” instead of “Rocky” — this only emboldens the winguts and they win, even though they are only the vocal minority.

It’s time to shout them back down.

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