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Friday, September 12, 2008

527's unleashed

Presidential campaign ads by liberal 527 groups have started to appear. If this ad about Palin's support of aerial wolf-hunting is any indication of what's to come, it looks like the left is bringing a gun to a knife fight.

Barack Obama said he would do this back on June 13, 2008, as reported by the New York Times:'"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."'

Sarah Palin a wildlife-hater? Release the hounds!

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Anonymous charlton heston said...

Actually, bringing a gun to a knife fight is not necessarily a very wise thing to do. A gun is not a close-quarters weapon, it is a medium-range weapon (assuming we are talking sidearms). If you are already in knife range of a bladework-drilled adversary you're fucked even if you have a gun. Of course you could try to get a shot off beforehand, say when you walk into the room saying "Hello, I've come for the knife fight": then you can shoot your opponent when he is still 12 feet away. But I trust you can appreciate that the precise spatial logistics are crucial.

Barack Obama's promise to bring guns to knife fights is slightly alarming, if he means it as a general principle. Is he going to respond to the slightest skirmish or roadside bombing with a shower of nukes?

As regards the advert, it is an interesting assumption that the "brutal aerial hunting" of animals is going to cause more outrage among American voters than the brutal torture of prisoners, or the brutal bombing of wedding parties etc. What is frightening is that the assumption is probably true.

6:04 PM, September 12, 2008

Blogger Jeff Hussein Strabone said...

Charlton is no doubt right that cruelty to animals offends voters more than killing civilians and torturing real and imagined enemies. I don't think that's particular to Americans. No news account or footage of torture or mass murder has ever moved me as much as de Sica's film Umberto D.: I wept like a blithering idiot because a fictional old man lost his dog.

These are the dog days of the campaign season. If calling the Republicans dog-killers plays to our inter-species sentimentality, I'm all for it. Bow wow wow.

9:04 PM, September 12, 2008

Anonymous 42 said...

I don't know if the 527's can do any worse damage to the Wicked Witch of the North than she did to herself in the Gibson interview. I am actually looking forward to the V.P. debate. That is bringing a gun to a fist fight.

As an avid reader of this blog, may I suggest a future(after the elections) blog & comments on the issue of censorship v. choice.

9:19 PM, September 12, 2008

Anonymous Major Dundee said...

Charlton, old friend, what's this I just noticed?

As regards the advert, it is an interesting assumption that the "brutal aerial hunting" of animals is going to cause more outrage among American voters than the brutal torture of prisoners, or the brutal bombing of wedding parties etc. What is frightening is that the assumption is probably true.

Who is making this "interesting assumption"? The ad? It was paid for by Defenders of Wildlife. As a longtime member, I am aware that they have been campaigning against aerial hunting of wolves for years, and have been targeting Sarah Palin's government on this very issue for the past two years. Defenders of Wildlife is smart to be putting an ad out at this time: they are drawing a wider audience into their longstanding concern about aerial wolf-hunting in Alaska. Indeed, one might assume the opposite: the ad is necessary because there has been so little outrage over brutality towards animal and nature.

But Charlton, I'm curious about your statement that it is "frightening that the assumption is probably true"? Obviously, the "assumption" is not true in that "it" is not making the assumption you assume it is making; but if we take your case seriously - that exposure of brutal aerial hunting is going to cause more outrage than brutal torture or brutal bombings - should we accept your assumption that this is "frightening"? I know that you are familiar with Derrida. After all, one of your more famous roles of the late 1970s was playing Jurgen Habermas to Kirk Douglas's Emmanuel Levinas in The Untimely Philosopher, which, when re-released in the late 1990s, was called by The New York Post critic "a fantastic film, a Grumpy Old Men for the post-Heideggerian set! Four Stars!" and was perhaps most famous for earning a Best Supporting Actor nod for Anthony Quinn as a fiery young graduate student named - yes, you guessed it - Slavoj Zizek. With this in your background, surely you would be familiar with Derrida's take on the ethics of violence towards animals in The Animal That Therefore I Am. Falling somewhere between Heidegger's controversial ability to name the technologizing of the murder of animals but not his ability to name the Holocaust and Elizabeth Costello's later after-dinner talks on the holocaust of animals, Derrida finds the origins and the telos of ethics in the relation to the animal, "the absolute other", not the Levinasian human other. Why is this at all relevant, other than as a heady reminder of the denouement of The Untimely Philosopher when you famously fell to your knees in front of Kirk Douglas and howled, "Is this what a man is made of, this eternal referent to the forgotten subject?" It's relevant because the assumption that people might be more outraged by the brutal aerial hunting of animals than torture is not necessarily frightening: that is, it is not self-evident that it should be frightening to be more outraged by the "brutality" towards animals than towards "humans", if it is possible that the former is what permits the latter, what allows the latter, what feeds the latter. The first step away from the ethical as compassion for the other in all its impossibility is to look away from the other: Derrida seems to suggest that this other is not the human other but the animal other. The assumption that human suffering comes first is the foundational step in permitting ongoing human suffering: that once we have suitably acknowledged our humanity, we can begin to make the case that within humanity, there are lives that come first. Hence the brutal torture and brutal bombings you oppose - good for you! I do too! - are justified . . . because they "save American lives." Hence Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The power of this statement is not just polemical, though it does put the opponent in the unfortunate position of either disproving this fact (actually impossible, given the fact that it is necessarily hypothetical and retrospective; no amount of evidence would bring the certainty required to transcend belief) or of joining in the comparison and saying that American lives aren't in fact worth it. The power of this statement is that it taps into precisely the fundamental ethics you seem to support: that humans must come before animals.

By the way, to see these contrasting ethics at work, please compare the Defenders of Wildlife ad with another ad, one from 2004, which also involved wolves . . .

10:24 AM, September 17, 2008

Anonymous charlton heston blumenthal said...

Hitler was very fond of dogs.

12:35 PM, September 17, 2008

Anonymous minor edinburgh said...

Oh, Charlton, despite all that NRA stuff, you've always had a peculiar fondness for bringing a goldfish to a knife fight.

4:51 PM, September 17, 2008

Anonymous charlton heston sydney blumenthal said...

As Sun Tzu tells us, bringing a goldfish to a knife fight is excellent strategy. There is the other guy, all tensed and testosteroned, congratulating himself on having initiated what he fondly thinks is going to be a big ol' macho knife fight, gazing in tumescent pride at the size of his glinting blade, and the master of ichthyo-fu brings casually, slowly, from his pocket a goldfish, damp and still flapping, to prove to him the futility of his mincing aggression.

"See," the master says, "your life and mine are like the life of this goldfish, rapidly expiring. Does the goldfish hold a tiny knife in its flipper, stabbing blindly at immaterial Fate? Anyone can see that there would be no use. And so, my friend, there is no use your waving that knife at me."

At which point, the knife-fighter sees the error of his ways, the uncouth and self-defeating nature of his desire. He begins to weep quietly, dropping the knife, which makes a soft phlump as it falls to the shag pile. The master goes to boil some water for tea.

6:08 PM, September 17, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:55 AM, September 18, 2008


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