Poesy ennobles; silence defames

From Mad, by Jonathan Bowden:

A civilization rests on force and comes into
existence when every scream is part of the design. Inhumanity is always
sacrosanct: we’re not dealing with morality here: that is a matter for the individual.
Collectives deal not in morals but expediency; not in conscience but judicious expenditures
of force. A ruler really has power in his hands, when he can decide what’s
wrong and what’s right. From moment to moment, enforcing this, prescribing
that, the one an offence, the other a beneficence, whilst the blood cries out
to high heaven for a reckoning it won’t receive. Here, each scream has its
place, every anthropomorphic prodding of the system, resolves itself, in a
patchwork quilt of condemnation and reward. Rulers enforce criminal
jurisdiction when they decide what’s crime and who’s committed it. Law was
created from its opposite. Law was created to forestall its opposite. Law is
legalized crime: sanctimonious mendacity for those who mulct the system. Murder’s
still the name of the game. Yesterday it was criminal; today it is the law.

Originally published by Egotist  Press in 1989, a new edition of Mad will be released by Nine-Banded Books in 2009. Check back for details.

Memento mori.

The Importance of Peter Falk’s Bar Mitzvah

The dissident Holocaust documentarian  known as "Denier" (interviewed by The Hoover Hog here) has done the world a small favor by posting footage of a 1994 Donahue program  featuring Bradley Smith, David ColeMichael Shermer, Edith Glueck, and an angry mob. It's a marginally important pop-cultural document made more relevant — and more interesting — by Denier's deconstructive narrative annotation.  Bradley is a mite testy at times, but Cole is in great form, at least up until his mysterious departure between segments. Michael Shermer is simply disingenuous. Donahue is a master of misdirection.

Here is Part One.

Here is Part Two.

Here is Part Three.

Here is Part Four.

Incidentally, I know that people continue to cite David Cole's gun-to-the-head recantation as though it somehow indicates that he truly abandoned his Big H skepticism.  For what it's worth, Cole's last public statement on the issue  (to my knowledge) comes from a 2003 article originally published by The Campaign to Decriminalize World War II History. Here is what he said then:

Rubin put the “hit” on me, I realized I had to get out. In the end,
regardless of my love of history, I didn’t want to die. It was just
that simple. And that’s what happens when violence and intimidation, or
the threat of prosecution, like in Europe and Canada, are introduced
into a debate. Anyone who has anything to lose shuts the hell up, or
gets the hell out.

Holocaust history hasn’t made the field safe from the lunatic fringe –
the anti Semites, the “Holocaust deniers,” the people who have nothing
to lose anyway. All it’s done is make serious researchers too
frightened to say anything that might get them in trouble. And frankly,
it’s irrelevant to me whether the historians who’ve been fined or
thrown in prison are right or wrong in their theories and conclusions.
Historians should have the right to be wrong. To me, this is a
fundamental right that applies to people in every discipline.

needed now is what I call a “post hysteria cleanup.” Whenever society
has one of its episodes of mass hysteria, like the “Communist menace”
scare of the ’50s, or the “satanic child molestation” hysteria of the
’80s, the media and the politicians jump on the bandwagon and people’s
rights get trampled. But after the hysteria inevitably comes the
“cleanup,” when we have to clean up the mess we made when we thought
the sky was falling.

the 1990s, there was a hysteria, especially in Europe and Canada, about
“Holocaust denial,” and one country after another passed laws aimed at
punishing historians, writers, and publishers who step out of line.
Well, the hysteria’s over now. It’s time for a cleanup; time to repeal
those laws. There are a lot of good reasons to do so, but for me, the
number one reason comes down to a basic, simple principle: no one
should be thrown in prison for writing a book.

Memento mori.