please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Monday, March 29, 2010

Benny the Rat, and All His Pals

I love Yahoo! Answers.

Benedict the Demon from Hell, why do you demand the resignation of your Bishops for your crimes?
It is well documented that you in your role as the Holy Lord Inquisitor of the Faith instructed all the Bishops of this Earth to protect the child abusing Priests in order to save the name of the 'Holy Catholic Church'
You should resign! You are the worst transgressor. You are a child abuser!. You are filth beneath the feet of the children of Ireland!
May you rest in Hell for a while until you are fully sorry for your misdeeds.

(These were the words of someone who called himself Gone Beyond. He got a lot of flack from Catholics -one of whom decided to respond with a lengthy list of Protestant worthies who had been found abusing children- and I responded with:)

Ah. Talkin' about Benny the Rat, eh? Well, let's see...

Okay; they (The Vatican) seem to have decided a while ago that they'd rather pay huge court settlements than fix the problem. Also, they're a sovereign nation whose ruler is also the head of the church: Benny the Rat, that is.

Now, while there's a longstanding tradition of mentoring that includes having sex with your charges that goes back to ancient Greece (at least), the last time anyone was dumb enough to use that as a legal defense was centuries ago. The point is, nothing will be done because the church rarely changes. Gonna convene a council against the big guy? Good luck with that.

But past a certain point they'll have to decide between wholesale bankruptcy and changing their ways. I suspect the result will be a schism between western and European Catholicism.

Not that you care; you're crazy.

And I meant all of it -just to forestall any suggestion of me being a little cavalier on the subject. (Ultimately I discovered that the author probably isn't as crazy as his/her writing style suggests, either: I'm pretty sure it's actually just very elaborate performance art, and said so, for which I recieved a 'Best Answer' award. )

I genuinely think that the Catholic church decided several decades ago that they would rather continue to pay massive out-of-court settlements with no admission of guilt (and let's take a moment to savor the paradox in that one: the whole point of Catholicism is standardized confession of sins) in lieu of doing any serious work in combatting the problem.
But now people are nowhere near as scared to come forward as they once were. So maybe it would be time to make substantive changes, rather than just doling out hush money you no longer really have.

But as it happens, they'll be set for a while, financially. The Vatican is the Mafia, basically, with everyone paying Up, and then some of it trickling back down to dioceses all over the world. They've been doing this for a very long time, and they're pretty set. I imagine that The Vatican's financial records aren't publicly available, but I've never gone looking , either.

Again as I say, The Vat is a sovereign nation. Unless we felt like a military invasion/occupation to topple its dictatorship (and we've been very fond of those lately), there probably isn't much that could be done in the way of official condemnation. Benny the Rat is currently the Pontiff of the Holy See, the Archbishop of Rome, and President of a Country that Professes to have Dominion over Souls. People still listen to him because he's a Double Threat (at least).

The church has also been a giant Closet for centuries, where families all over the world sent their children that they felt were probably homosexual, or at very least just weren't going to be fitting in so hot with society at large. And then there's the doctrine of Clerical Celibacy: so your reward for going into the priesthood or nunnery is that you will never be able to express one of your basic biological drives. As a member of the clergy, you could go wherever you wanted during Carnival and go back to your monastery or wherever no questions asked, but this practice ended in the 13th century, so now you don't even get to have annual sex.

So then these people who don't get to have sex are -for some fucking reason- given dominion over the children in their flock (when they're not delivering marriage counseling). As is often the case when big people are given charge over little people (or powerful people ruling over powerless people, anyway), abuses will occur. It seems that they've been doing so in this case for centuries, and the Church being what it is, they're only now starting to talk about something the rest of us have been nervously joking about for quite a while.

Lastly, the Church is almost certainly not going to discipline its own leader. The last time that happened, the guy was already dead. He'd been accused of everything from rape to murder while he'd been alive, but he was Pope, y'know? Not a lot you can do about that.

So they exhumed him, put his corpse up in a chair, yelled at it for a few weeks, found it guilty and stripped it of its papal vestments, threw it in the Tiber river. Justice was done.

(The problem here is that there have been a lot of crooked Popes. This makes research difficult to say the least. I was thinking of one of your Renaissance Popes -a Medici, a Borgia- but the only one I can find was Pope Formosus, who died in the late 890's. Here's a picture of him.)

And then this morning, Dan Savage quotes the same thing everyone else has been quoting for the last twenty-four hours: Pope Benedict isn't concerned by "petty gossip."

That's pure Chairman of the Board talking there: We Are Not Concerned With The Likes Of You. Have you trampled civilizations underfoot for the Glory of God? I thought not. Well, We Have. Have you been terrorizing small children and other simple-minded folk with other-worldly boogy-men for well over a thousand years, and have seen all of your critics go to their graves, largely unrewarded? No? We Have.

Boy, you always forget exactly how arrogant these fuckers are until moments like these, eh? It seems like some sort of cartoonish grotesque that you've dreamt up, until dude turns around and actually starts talking like this. And then you remember: oh, so this is why I hate religion!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Anatomy of A Meager Amount of Swag

It was brought to my attention that I had won something in the form of an email:

Hey you won in our letters section this week. Send a physical address over to our office manager Brad and we'll get your prizes sent out. Thanks for keeping the comments coming.

Hm. I 'won.' I appreciated that, so I wrote back and said,

I appreciate it. I even sent my address to this...This "Brad".

But I gotta tell you; looking back through my comments of the last several days, I don't see a single one that would qualify as a best of anything if you ask me. I can't think of which one it would be. Anyway, thanks.

It was pointed out to me that this letter would be appearing in the print edition. But it was something I'd said on their site. Matter o' fact, here it is:

A point I'd like to throw out there is that I don't think so much that Campbell was killed specifically because he was black. It strikes me as more like the officers involved behaved stupidly, communicated poorly (a sniper with no radio contact?) and ultimately fucked up about as badly as a police officer can - and knew that they *could get away with it* because Campbell was black. So far, they're right.

What are we gonna do? The grand juries always side with the armed people, and there is no effective police oversight in this town. The cops themselves have proven themselves entirely unwilling to hear even the slightest criticism, but also factor in that Saltzman's attempt to discipline Humphreys was too little, too late, and arguably for the wrong offense.

So far, I'd say that Saltzman ought to step down, I'd like to see Westerman removed from his post (not that you and I have anything to say about that), and Rosie Sizer needs to rein in her rogue cops because she has lots of them. Then we can begin this conversation.

Alright? Because as it currently stands, you can kill someone in this town as a city employee and publicly call it persecution when the worst thing that happens to you is paid leave.

And what did I get? For all my trouble and pain? The equivalent of sixteen dollars cash.

That would be two tickets to a movie at the Laurelhurst theater (which would cost six dollars), and a ten dollar coupon to No Fish? Go Fish! , a restaurant I have never wanted to go to, and yes that's because of its name.

As to the Dramatis Personae in the letter:

"Campbell" is the late Aaron Campbell, shot in the back by the cops.
"Saltzman" is Dan Saltzman, city councilman with what certainly seems to be oversight vis a vis the police bureau.
"Humphreys" is Officer Chris Humphreys, who shot a girl in the leg with one of those bags of lead shot that is euphemistically referred to as a 'bean bag'. He also was one of the cops who killed James Chasse, by crushing him, basically. He received a (short lived) reprimand for the bean bag thing, until...
Scott Westerman, head of the Portland Policeman's Association, (until just the other day when he stepped down) held a protest march of uniformed cops that staked itself out front of city hall and made it clear that they wouldn't be intimidated by those who pay their salaries. Or supervised by their supervisors...
Like Rosie Sizer, who is Chief of the Portland Police Bureau.

So anyway...Fame! Uh, it's odd to note that just in the time since I first started writing this one (Fourteenth of March), there's been at least one more story about a cop who started firing at someone who had no possibility of killing him, rendering the suspect dead.
Or the fact that the particular controversy being discussed in my award-winning letter could have been written at any point in the last twenty years in Portland. I'm told, however, that San Francisco cops are worse.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Item, and Report

(NPR recently ran their apparently annual contest in which you write a story based entirely off a single image. It is referred to as the Three Minute Story, and has a word limit of 600 words.

The deadline for submission was the last night of February. I blew it. But the reward, such as it was, was to have some poet read your story on 'All Things Considered', I believe. So I kind of don't care about the reward aspect anyway.

Anyway, there's the picture. Let's rumble.)

First of all, I would like to object to the obviousness in the placement of the drop. He is supposed to be a professional, not some sort of false-flag. If he thinks that it's acceptable to just get up, throw his empty coffee cup in the bus tub and just casually walk away from his "newspaper," then someone needs to speak to his superior. There are people watching who know exactly what this really means.

Now I am forced to sit here and actively ignore the thing. He did do an excellent job of not acknowledging my presence in any way, knowing as he probably does that the people who "work here" are probably Unfriendly. They ignore me too, except to serve me coffee that I carefully observe the preparation of, accept my money and a little too convincingly wish me a "good one."

But after he so cavalierly tossed away this drop, I cannot access it to see what the message was. It's too hot. Probably every fourth person in here is working for someone, and I can't even say if that was even my Guy. For all I know, that isn't a message at all, but a deadly virus delivery system, and every fourth person in here will soon get up, flee as casually as possible, as the rest of us are left to slowly expire, struck down by a silent killer.

I betray no outward sign of all this, though. I was trained by people who knew their business. Serious people. People who were so good at the basics of Turning and Instruction that they sounded like my own voice. Like they were literally in my head. I cannot thank them enough for the training I received, as it has probably saved my life more times than I can tell.

And this Operation, if I may say so, has been interminable. Seemingly as long as I've been alive. I have seen Operatives come and go. They never seem to stay very long. That is the nature of the game: they get reassigned, they get transferred, and yes, sometimes they are liquidated.

Worst of all, we who reside within the parameters of this game are never allowed to know its aims and ends. It's best not to ask, and just understand that each of us fulfills a vital purpose within it, but still it can occasionally chafe, even on the most seasoned professional.

For instance, I cannot even talk to my own family about this. My sister says that I am crazy, and unfortunately I can do nothing to allay her concerns in this area, since not only must I keep my silence on this, but she would scarcely understand anyway, were I to tell her. How could I? Some of us are watching out, while the rest of you sleep.

The battle goes on, and there is no one to help with this problem in my head. A growing doubt, a crisis of faith, that there may not be anyone watching anymore, or listening. What if my handlers are all dead? Or have turned their backs, as sometimes they must do? How will I know? How can I?

But I have the best cover of all. That's right: just some guy in a coffee shop. Pay no mind. It's just like I'm living my life. That is why I keep my silence, over here in this chair, staring but not so anyone would notice, at the headline on the page, UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES SKYROCKET, and try not to look suspicious as the server comes over and asks how "everything's going over here."