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Who taught you how to mourn?

[ 53 ] January 15, 2011 |

The conservative reaction to Thursday’s memorial service betrays both their myopia and desperation.  From the opening prayer — some “Indian tribal thing” according to Powerline‘s Paul Mirengoff  — to the ubiquitous complaints about the audience’s reaction to a speech that even The Corner awarded the highest possible mark, the implication is that there is but a single proper way to celebrate a life and that any deviation from said way diminishes those being memorialized.  The problem with that argument is that it’s false on its face.  Were I to die an Irish cop my life might be celebrated with drink and song.  If I were Ronnie James Dio, my life might be punctuated by heavy metal.  If I were Jim Henson, I would go to my grave to the sound of singing puppets.  Plainly put, if you criticize the way someone runs a memorial service because it differs from how you would, you reveal more about yourself than you might think.

For example, you reveal that you have likely never been close enough to someone of a different religion, race or class to attend a service for or with them.  I can only imagine what critics of the memorial might do if they attended a Jewish one: “Why are these people screaming and ripping off their clothes?  Why is everyone pinning shreds of ripped cloth to their suits?  Who organized all these pins?”  If you actually have been close enough to someone of a different religion, race or class to attend a service for or with them and are still criticizing this execution of this one, you reveal the emptiness of your criticisms and the baseness of your convictions.  By attempting to whip into a frenzy those who have never attended a service outside their ilk, you demonstrate that you care more for the success of your political compatriots than you do those being mourned.

But if a large part of your constituency consists of people who attend mega-churches and you complain about this:

You reveal yourself as a member of the Church of SASQUATCH ISREAL and will never be able to refudiate those who rightfully mock you.

 

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  • hv

    The most hilarious part about the comment thread is watching some people insist this needs to “go viral” in parallel with others explaining how closed captioning works.

    • Davis

      Then there was the one who acknowledged that it was indeed closed captioning, but insisted that the Omamabots probably read it as a command. Never mind that the applause notation occurs afterward.

      • SEK

        I’m still wondering what they thought the “school” above “[applause]” meant.

        • ploeg

          That’s the code word. When Obama says “school”, you applaud. When Obama says “hope”, you cheer. When Obama says “solitaire”, you pick up your Glock and go after Sarah Palin. I saw a documentary about this once.

          • Halloween Jack

            I thought that it was when he showed you the queen of hearts.

    • Well, they’d start applauding AGAIN if they saw the word!!!!eleventy1!! (/wingnut)

  • timb

    Idiot wingnuts. All of us Obamabots know that he tells us to applaud via the chips the government implanted in our heads

  • lj

    It actually helps me understand them better. I originally thought they were just misguided or badly informed. Now I understand that they’re mentally deficient and unable to process simple information. It’s “Idiocracy” in real life.

    • Andrew

      Confirmation bias at work.

    • It’s not intelligence, exactly, that’s the issue. I think it’s the lack of a moral compass or sense of guilt which allows them to use any and all means, including outright falsehoods, against their percieved enemies, and allows them to hypocritically do the same things their percieved enemies did (or vice versa, to accuse their opponents of wrongdoing for things which they themselves did). It’s a sheer instrumentality in which there is nothing but tactics.

      They don’t even have an internalized sense of shame anymore, though they can still, at times, be shamed into some restraint if the right leverage is applied.

      • SEK

        It’s a sheer instrumentality in which there is nothing but tactics. They don’t even have an internalized sense of shame anymore, though they can still, at times, be shamed into some restraint if the right leverage is applied.

        This, a thousand times, this.

      • Ahistoricality,

        Your comment could have appeared in any number of comment sections, on liberal or conservative blogs. Did you ever wonder what’s going on that this is exactly how both sides describe one another?

        • DocAmazing

          Projection, in the case of the blogs on the right.

          • Nice pat answer.

            • DocAmazing

              Thank you. In today’s climate, any longer answer would have been the product of deliberate false equivalence or of disingenuous beclouding of the issue.

            • Projection, yes.

              I’ll admit to having my own political preferences, even some biases, but I’ve spent a long time training to look at evidence rather than guessing or making stuff up. The situation isn’t parallel anymore. The sides aren’t equal, or equivalent. I don’t see how “pox on both houses” can be anything more than a reflexive twitch or defensive crouch.

              • Exactly. You want to talk about “pat answers”, look no further than “both sides do it.”

          • hv

            I think it is a tiny bit more complicated than projection. I think the first time it was employed, it was probably something simple like projection. But it is one of the few moves that is an effective tactic to muddy the waters or deflect criticism in the modern media environment; the media loves a good counter-accusation but hates taking sides.

            So conservatives have become cave-person post-modernists, where everything is a text to be employed as a crude bludgeon to deform the political landscape. Smashing liberals is the only area of traction. So the tribalism and enemy creation aspects get reinforced in a feedback loop, where the only thing that really works is smashing down things liberals like. And soon your raison d’etre is to outrage liberals. It just gets the best numbers.

        • Michael H Schneider

          Back when I was a child of perhaps six or seven, my contemporaries and I would often debate the political points of the hour (when we were not being chased by velociraptors, at least). The discussion often followed this form:

          “you’re a poopy-head!”
          “No YOU are a poopy-head!”

          These days the form of the argument seems similar. Liberals will bring some criticism, and the response will be “no YOU’RE the fascist” or “YOU are the racist”.

          So to note the similarities of the accusations offered in response by conservatives may only suggest that they’re arguing like six year olds.

          • hv

            You’re off the case, McGonigle.

            You’re off your case, chief.

            What does that mean exactly!?

            It means he gets results, you stupid chief.

    • RobW

      Either idiocy or insanity would be useful explanations but only if you assume they’re being honest and not just desperately flinging poo.

  • Rusty Wheat

    Pretty telling haywire grammar in Gateway Pundit’s post title, too.

    Why indeed ask for something you’ve already been surprised by?

  • Murc

    Everything you need to know about mourning and the propriety thereof can be found here.

  • Kate

    I think the complaints about the applause are rather silly, but I think you’re wrong about the implication of such complaints. The implication of the applause complaints is not “that there is but a single proper way to celebrate a life,” but that there are appropriate/inappropriate or decorous/indecorous ways to mourn within the context of a particular kind of ceremony. If Omar’s grandma shows up at the wake of the Irish cop and starts singing church hymns, McNulty and the rest of the cops might consider that inappropriate; it would be likewise inappropriate for her to show up at a Jewish memorial service and do the same thing. The sense of impropriety in both instances arises not from a lack of sensitivity to those who are culturally/religiously Other, but from a proper respect for the cultural or religious form of a particular memorial service. I didn’t watch the Tuscon memorial (I read the speech, which was magnificent), but I suspect those who complained about the applause did so because they had some idea of the conventions that govern a memorial for the victims of mass murder presided over by the President. I suppose the problem is that the conventions for that kind of ceremony are vague at best, but in that case your insistence that the complainers were reacting to the “otherness” of the ceremony (or cynically whipping up anger among those who don’t have Jewish/black/poor friends) seems just as silly as the complaints about the applause.

    I might argue that the implication of your post is that we all clearly understand the conventions of this ceremony/memorial, but I think the problem is precisely that we *don’t,* and that the complaints about the applause arise from a lack of clarity or consensus about the conventions of this particular service, and not from conservative xenophobia.

    • Warren Terra

      Kate, there are two levels of complaints about the applause, of which you are focusing on one – and it’s not the one being mocked here:
      1) Was the applause inappropriate? This is the one you addressed. I agree that it’s situational, and my preference would be for a somber affair. But I don’t doubt the kids applauding were sincerely torn up about a mass murder in their backyard. In any case, it’s not Obama’s fault — unless:
      2) Some wingers allege the Obama team commanded the applause through the Jumbotron. This allegation is linked above, and believing it requires a pathological distrust of both Obama’s simple decency and his political sensitivity. The picture in the post of the closed captioning recognizing the existence of applause is taken by these maroons to be evidence of such a command.

      • Kate

        [warren, I added this downthread, but I thought I’d post it here, since it’s a direct reply to you. Sorry — I’m not used to the reply-within-the-thread feature.]

        Warren, the thing about the jumbotron and the closed captioning *deserves* to be mocked; that’s why I didn’t address it. What I *did* address was SEK’s claim that the implication of the complaints about the applause was that “there is but a single proper way to celebrate a life.” I think he’s wrong about what the applause complaints necessarily imply. That’s all.

    • Hogan

      The implication of the applause complaints is not “that there is but a single proper way to celebrate a life,” but that there are appropriate/inappropriate or decorous/indecorous ways to mourn within the context of a particular kind of ceremony.

      And then the question becomes, whose ceremony is this? The answer isn’t simple, but I don’t think there’s any sense in which it includes the likes of Paul Mirengoff.

      When I hear a complaint about the applause from the victims’ families, then I’ll start paying serious attention. So far, I’m not aware of any such complaints.

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  • LosGatosCA

    The ‘conservatives Teabaggers’ have programmed themselves to be outraged. Once they have been triggered, I.e. been awakened and gotten out of bed in the morning, it’s simply a matter of settling on the outrage of the day.

    Trying to understand their motivation, their mental processing is simply a waste of time.

    Teleprompters!!

    Half of America has lost their minds. It’s just that simple.

    • Jay C

      Well, to be a little picky about it, the rate of mind-loss among the American population is more like 28% than 50% – still too high, though.

      And the “Tucson applause” flap is just, sadly typical of the process. No matter HOW bogus the charge, no matter HOW blatantly (factually) wrong it may be, there will still be a (disgracefully) irreducible number of folks “out there” who will believe it – because it has to do with Barack Obama – and render themselves impervious to any argument (even fact-based) to the contrary.

      • Murc

        Well, to be a little picky about it, the rate of mind-loss among the American population is more like 28% than 50%

        You said that immediately, and with some authority.

      • LosGatosCA

        I’d have to your research. My research is based on the % of the electorate that voted for Bush in 2004 and McCain in 2008 plus the percentage of people polled that do not think the debt limit should be raised, 71%, admittedly I have subjectively allowed that 20% of the people misunderstood the polling question and have averaged the 2004 and 2008 votes and the rounded up to the nearest per centage point.

        None of those data points suggest to me that the mass hysteria/dementia is limited to 28%.

  • Kate

    Warren, the thing about the jumbotron and the closed captioning *deserves* to be mocked; that’s why I didn’t address it. What I *did* address was SEK’s claim that the implication of the complaints about the applause was that “there is but a single proper way to celebrate a life.” I think he’s wrong about what the applause complaints necessarily imply. That’s all.

    • ploeg

      Such objections to the applause at the memorial would seem to be cheap and cramped, and are definitely inconsistently applied.

      • Kate

        But that really has nothing to do with my point.

        • ploeg

          If you are doing something that’s “inappropriate”, but it’s sincere, heartfelt, and not wilfully out of bounds, it is preferable to let it go, or to deal with it in a tactful way and not mention it further. In this case, McNulty might not like the hymn, but going into a screaming fit about it would make it so much the worse. Just let it go, or give Omar’s grandma a gentle pat on the shoulder and a whispered “thanks”.

          In this case, however, it seems rather common for people to applaud when the President speaks at a memorial service. Certainly it’s a trivial type of interruption, and it would be tactless to make a big deal out of it. What’s more disrespectful, to applaud a speaker at a memorial service or to bitch about the applause afterwards?

          • Kate

            Again, ploeg, you seem to be missing my point. I have no interet in arguing which is more disrespectful, since it has nothing to do with the point I made. My point was simply that Scott was perhaps too quick to pin the applause complaints on conservative xenophobia. Whether one *should* complain about the applause is an entirely separate question from whether one’s complaint *necessarily* arises from a “false on its face” notion of proper mourning.

            • Anonymous

              Kate, I got your point the first time. Your point was that 1. “there are appropriate/inappropriate or decorous/indecorous ways to mourn within the context of a particular kind of ceremony” and 2. “the complaints about the applause arise from a lack of clarity or consensus about the conventions of this particular service, and not from conservative xenophobia.”

              My point is to agree with 1. but to add that this point binds everybody, and that memorial services above all require tact, empathy, and a generous reading of the rules insofar as such rules exist. A strict reading of “the rules” leads you far away from the meaning and purpose of the memorial. Further, regarding 2., the mere fact that the right-wing nitpicking exists signifies that they have strayed far away from the meaning and purpose of the memorial. And it is nitpicking, nitpicking that attacks the established precedent for Presidential speechifying at memorial services. I can’t issue a categorical statement whether “conservative xenophobia” is the cause, but the comments about Gonzales’ prayer (for example) don’t seem hopeful.

              • Kate

                Fair enough.

            • efgoldman

              1) The complaints don’t live in a vacuum, and they’re not even event-specific. They are just one more poutrage from the wingnuts among hundreds, maybe thousands of similkar poutrages.

              2) As for appropriateness, I have instructed my daughter that I want the Parrot Sketch and Who’s on First played at my service. I’m sure that some people, including my spouse if she outlives me, will find that inappropriate. Well, as the saying goes: Fuckem’ if they can’t take a joke.

  • If you want an extreme example where Monday night quarterbacking of other people’s emotional responses towards death can lead, google “Lindy Chamberlain”, “Evil Angels” and “a dingo ate my baby”.

    • jefft452

      I knew about “Lindy Chamberlain”,and “a dingo ate my baby”,
      but googling “Evil Angels” just bring up some porn studio

      to what does it refer?

      • “Evil Angels” is the book on which the Meryl Streep film about the Chamberlain case was based.

        The book sets out in excruciating detail how Chamberlain’s refusal to react to tragedy the way the public and especially the media wanted played a major part in her unjust conviction for the murder of her baby.

        • jefft452

          thanks,
          sounds like an interesting book, would you recommend it?

        • McKingford

          Yes – one of Canada’s most notorious wrongful convictions (Guy Paul Morin) saw the next door neighbour convicted of sexual assault and murder of a young girl (later exonerated by DNA evidence). One of the “damning” points against him was that he hadn’t attended the funeral; he later explained that he hadn’t been invited – and thought this was protocol.

  • wiley

    The applause struck me the same way frequent and long standing ovations at any event strike me—a change in culture. Not everything is done the same way it was done in my day, and it was a young university crowd. I see no reason to judge it.

  • efgoldman

    @ Warren Terra

    I didn’t know, but it figures.

    There’s no “reply” button on your post.

    • hv

      (That happens when things get too indented/nested. I resort to replying to one post up/out… but I often screw things up.)

  • bill

    I went to a Thai Buddhist funeral many years ago when I was living in Ubonrajthani. The funeral was at the home of the deceased; there were prayers and weeping around the casket, heaps of food and penny-ante card games that lasted until dawn.

  • The conservative reaction to Thursday’s memorial service betrays both their myopia and desperation.

    That’s a nice way of saying petty minded assholery.

  • chris

    Well, I’ll complain about the Jumbotron, but probably not in the same way the conservatives did: I think they should have had the decency to cover up the ads before using it for a funeral.

    There’s lots of ways to mourn, but advertising is truly tasteless.

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