Logomachon






Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words

 

   
  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.

   
   
   
 

2006-01-31
 

The Dems' Platonic Constitution


Once Judge Alito becomes Justice Alito, there's no turning back the Senate confirmation vote. We don't get to "take a mulligan" when choosing a Supreme Court Justice. . . . Will it matter if we speak up after the Supreme Court has granted the executive the right to use torture, or to eavesdrop without warrants? Will it matter if we speak up only after a woman's right to privacy has been taken away? Will history record what we say after the courthouse door is slammed in the faces of women, minorities, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor? No. History will record what we say and what we do now.--John Kerry, 31 Jan
The march towards knocking down the walls of discrimination that permitted us to pass a 1964 Civil Rights Act in public accommodations so people whose skin was not white could go into restaurants and go into hotels. Public accommodation. The 1965 act for voting rights. 1968 Act for public accommodations. The 1973 act to say that women are going to be treated equally. The Americans with Disabilities Act that said the disabled are going to be part of the American family. All of that is the march to progress. And my friends, the one organization, the one institution that protects it is the Supreme Court of the United States.--Ted Kennedy, 31 Jan


So much for the Democrats' understanding of the Constitution. They have so convinced themselvesthat the SCotUS is a super-legislature of angelic wise men--or are so desperate for control--that they have forgotten the Congress and the Executive.

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2006-01-30
 

The Lion, the Bitch, and the Preview

I just saw film of the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was a very satisfying cinematic experience.

I say that as someone who is not a fan, neither of fantasy in general nor of Narnia in particular. I read the book in—well, I’m not sure when—high school, college, after the Army, sometime at least before grad school, and I didn’t remember much about it except that I didn’t like it. Last Fall when the movie was imminent, I knew enough about C.S. Lewis that I got the kids’ set from Katie and read all the books, in order. I found the books a good read, and every time the story seemed to flag a bit, Lewis threw in a twist that restored interest. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is probably the meatiest of the chronicles, A Horse and His Boy is the most humorous, and The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ drags most often, though the restoration of Narnian rule to the island has some good economics.

The movie wisely does a bit of extra scene-setting by dramatizing the bombing of London in WWII to explain why the children are sent off on the train to some whistle-stop in nowhere. As I looked at the meticulously reproduced sets of the train station and the clothes of the travelers jamming the platform—parents, children, a good number of soldiers on medical leave—I thought that these Englishmen were my parents’ generation. I compared their experience and behavior with the experience and behavior of my own wartime generation in ’60s America. English cities were bombed through the war, first by the Luftwaffe, and toward the end by the V-1 cruise missiles and V-2 ballistic missiles. Some villages lost an entire generation of young men after D-Day. England was near famine before the US learned how to break the U-boat blockade; in the late 1940s, when Lewis wrote the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, rationing and other wartime austerity measures were still in effect.

In contrast, what a bunch of self-indulgent whiners the “Vietnam generation” were. People who expected that the bad feelings they experienced when they watched TV entitled them to be treated as though they had suffered an actual injury. When they weren’t whining about how much they were oppressed, they were driving their cars or buying plane tickets to go scream about the oppression their country was laying upon the rest of the world, and they clutched at any lie, distortion, and irrelevancy to justify their anger. They continue to this day, even though we now know that everything the peaceniks said was a lie. (At least the Communists have had the candor or effrontery to admit that they were messing with our minds.) That was the “Vietnam generation”, the obnoxious sliver of the upside of the Baby Boomers deemed authentic by the press.

It’s momentarily and idly interesting to ask what Lewis, could have done with such a brood, had he waited 20 years to write his books. Perhaps the children would slip into Narnia through an old sweat-lodge at the commune, to return later to chastise their feckless elders for their promiscuity and vapid utopianism. Come to think of it, Lewis took a smack at the counter-culture in The Silver Chair, where a couple of loser kids—toughened by martial adventures in Narnia—on their return bring down the corrupt administration of their oh so progressive and oh so free-thinking school.

As it happens, the movie’s release is an opportunity for the progressives and free-thinkers to get their smacks in. Ordinary secular film reviewers seem to think that ætheists and other non-Christians are bigots or fragile flowers who have to be warned away from Lewis’ “heavy-handed” Christian symbolism or reassured that it’s really all pretty ignorable and won’t hardly hurt a bit.

The actual ætheists are made of sterner stuff and will say anything to deride the books and the movie. In England, before LWW opened, Polly Toynbee wrote a strident and noxious column in the Guardian:
Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to? Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart. Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus' holy head every day that you don't eat your greens or say your prayers when you are told. So the resurrected Aslan gives Edmund a long, life-changing talking-to high up on the rocks out of our earshot. When the poor boy comes back down with the sacred lion's breath upon him he is transformed unrecognisably into a Stepford brother, well and truly purged. [my emphases]
I suppose you could look at it that way, if you were inclined to write about the demons dancing behind your eyeballs rather than about what is happening on the screen in front of you. Otherwise you would have to report that Aslan comes down with Edmund and tells the other three children that what has passed is past and will not be spoken of; otherwise, you would see that Edmund, who was, after all, helping the White Witch try to kill his brother and sisters, is just as glad as they that their family is whole again. Families are wonderful and powerful things, as the source of Miss Toynbee’s spitefulness shows, or perhaps she thinks that fratricide is the mark of the fully realized human being. (“Narnia and Its Enemies” is Cathy Siepp’s extended look at the baseless carping.)

Miss Toynbee notes that Disney has made a special marketing effort in the US to reach Evangelical Christians, and she gloats that in England “Disney may come to regret this alliance with Christians . . .
Most British children will be utterly clueless about any message beyond the age-old mythic battle between good and evil. . . . only the minority who are familiar with Christian iconography will see Jesus in the lion. After all, 43% of people in Britain in a recent poll couldn't say what Easter celebrated. Among the young . . . that number must be considerably higher.
I wonder if she will revisit this point. LWW has been in the top ten in box-office receipts since it opened in the UK, and last week, when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire dropped off the top ten, Narnia led in cumulative receipts, at £41,684,522 ($73, 731, 588). As icing on the cake, on a per capita basis, UK citizens have spent $1.23, while Americans have spent $0.91 on Narnia tickets.
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