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Well I had to say something




Color me purple

This business of dividing the country up into blue for democrats and red for republicans is piquant. Given the results of the election, blue is appropriate for the democrats. Given the traditional association of red and communism, and the red-baiting proclivity of the republican party, it is ironic that they rejoice in the redness of the election map.

Perhaps, though, it is appropriate; the republicans and democrats seem to have traded places. The republicans used to be the paranoia party, seeing communists under every bed and crying "Who lost China!" Now it's the democrats who are seeing vast right wing conspiracies every where and crying "Who stole the election."

Mining the past

Recently I went through large stacks of old APA:NESFAs and extracted my contributions to immortality I found therein. I also took out the stuff I had written. Regrettably I then trashed the old apas. I felt bad about it - after all they are a part of fannish history. However they had their problems. Mimeo paper gets a bit ratty over time. They had been resident in a damp basement for quite a number of years, and they dated from a time when I smoked heavily. To be blunt, they didn't smell very good. So much for history.

I will be mining them for anything resembling an article I can put on the web site. I don't expect that there will be much; most of the "good stuff" has already been reprinted. Expect some strange stuff for a while though.

Angry young men

Whilst going through the old apas I encountered the events of 1975. For the non fannish, NESFA prefigured the election of 2000 by indulging in a messy and unsavory fan feud in 1975. Large quantities of hurt feelings and animadversions were spattered about the fannish landscape. Yours truly was caught in the middle as the Designated Dispenser Of Justice, a position complicated by the desire of all and sundry for revenge rather than justice.

This time around I noted with interest the sayings of a young man whom I shall call LY. At the time he was a teenager. I suppose by now he is fat, balding, on his second marriage, sells insurance, and votes republican. Such is the fate of angry young men.

At the time, however, he was a lean, mean, disputing machine. He also was excessively self-centered, highly deficient in his awareness of the feelings of others, and harshly condemning of that which did not suit his immediate wants and fancies, all of this dressed in the language of moral indignation. I rather fancy that is the norm for angry young men.

Phoenix

Robert Campbell in the Boston Globe, October 31, 1976:

How does it feel, everyone asks, to be back in Boston after two months driving around the United States?

What feels best is the blast of shivery air that greets you when you open the front door. After coming back through the Sunbelt, every pore feels alive for the first time in weeks. I feel confirmed in a deep conviction that all civilization arises from chill and that nothing worthwhile will ever emerge from Phoenix.

One can scarcely argue with his conclusions about Phoenix. As you can see the Massachusetts sense of being apart from the United States is one of long standing that predates the election of 2004.

For some reason it has been my fate to live within the periphery of the United States. I grew up in SD and am currently retired there. I lived for many years in MA. Each in its own way is distant from the cultural foci of the United States, MA by its contrariness, and SD by its sheer distance from anything.

Wait a bit

On my last sojourn East I put on five pounds that are quite stubborn about not coming off. I am not quite sure why this is. It cannot, I am certain, have anything to do with a fondness for Halavah, good wine, and good cheese. It must have something to do with the climate.

I'm from the government and I'm here to help you

Government employees all too often suffer from the librarian syndrome - those people wanting to take out books interfere with their proper business of being librarians. In a really good library the public would not be allowed to get near the books.

Similarly, government employees tend to be obsessed with their jobs and their missions; the public and its good is lost from sight. In the name of doing good, of administrative efficiency, or of national security, one can perpetrate almost anything. This tendency is exacerbated by the fact that people will do things as part of an institution in the name of that institution that they would not do in their own right. One reads regularly of government officials, particularly in the injustice department and the infernal revenue service pushing the rawest of deals, whilst apparently believing themselves to be good citizen.

The "war on drugs" and the "war on terrorism" are rationales for horrors. There are numerous instances of special drug units dressed in plain clothes breaking into people's homes by mistake and terrorizing them. Talk of the knock on the door in the night. It is the classical example of the totalitarian tyranny in action. It happens in our won country. And it is defended by those sworn to defend our liberty.

There are those who say that the IRS should be entitled to get any information it wishes so that it may collect all the taxes it feels that are due. There are those who feel suspension of due process is warranted to put down the traffic in drugs. There are those who feel the same in the of national security. There are those who feel reporters should be sent to jail if they don't reveal their sources, and those who feel that the media should be responsible, as they see it. There are those who wish to know all sorts of things about us, and to regulate us in all sorts of ways, all for the of reasons.

There is the continuing refrain - if you have nothing to conceal, if you are not guilty, then you should be willing to cooperate. Those who are pure of soul need not fear the inquisition; therefore only those in league with the devil would denounce it. It is an evil claim that these people make, and their demands are evil demands. And it is all too often uttered by those who believe themselves to be good, in the name of a good cause.

There is a great American tendency to pass laws to solve social problems, to feel that the government exists to make people be good. It is a dangerous tendency. Those who would compel us to be good are all too ready to sacrifice our freedom in the name of their "good".

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This page was last updated December 1, 2004.
It was reformatted and moved September 8, 2006

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