This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the month “June, 2018”

And Then The Murders Began

Lviv pogrom (June-July 1941)People tend to think of the Holocaust as an event, or a constant:  Hitler came to power, next stop Auschwitz.   This is far from historical fact, however. The Holocaust was a process, with a beginning, a middle and, if not an end, then at least a near-culmination. There was an arc that took European societies from accepting Jews as neighbors, fellow citizens and even prominent members of the community — if with a dogwhistle here and there, and occasional down-home Jew-hating talk — to wholesale slaughter, with a side serving of unbridled abuse, rape, torture and gleeful psychological sadism.  It didn’t happen overnight.

The proto-Nazis spent the 1920’s spreading vicious, (literally) cartoonish anti-Semitic propaganda.  Those were the Der Stürmer years. Relentlessly, the future “winners” of the German state called Jews animals, vermin, criminals, racial degenerates, ideological enemies of society.  The first race laws began to be enacted in 1933. Then, in 1935, Jews, Roma and other “undesirables” were stripped of their citizenship and civil rights.  Then came the pogroms. Then came the ghettos.  And then the murders began. Sporadic mass executions were followed by systematic, mechanized slaughter of human beings throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.

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Trump Supporters Looking For A Side Of Love

die-frau-meiner-trume-1944-film-rcm300x428u

Screenshot from “Die Frau meiner Träume” (German, 1944)

“I am not a monster,” said every monster ever.

The Serious Journalists of the Both Sides Do It variety know that in the past two weeks, with the avalanche of news of baby jails, baby torture, ICE and Border Patrol straight up disappearing migrant girls, children crying for their mom and dad, fascist goons making fun of children crying for their mom and dad, and more baby torture, the question you’ve really been asking yourself is “But can the best and the brightest among those fascist goons even get laid in the liberal hellhole that is the District of Columbia?”

Take heart, — Serious Journalists of the Both Sides Do It variety have got you covered.

 

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Weird and Unusual Things I’ve Eaten and Drunk:  A Post In Memory of Anthony Bourdain

StillLife

This post was born out of my vague but unrelenting depression over the suicide of Anthony Bourdain (and the predictable Trumpist reaction to it, which I am not going to link to).  I wanted to lighten the mood, so I started making a list of some “out there” foods and drinks that I’ve enjoyed (not always literally) over the course of my life.  

And you know, a strange and wonderful thing happened.

Those who read my blog know I don’t have a particularly sunny disposition.  I tend towards gloom and pessimism, and I absolutely abhor mental exercises meant to be inspirational and uplifting. So it came as a surprise when it occurred to me after making this list:  my life has been AWESOME.  I’ve been so focused on tragedy, danger, melancholy, anxiety, that I forgot, for a long time, to stop and look back and marvel at what an amazing adventure it’s been so far.  I am at once overjoyed, and not a little creeped out by the fact that this unexpected ray of sunshine came into my life from such horror and sadness.

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Not A Real Criminal: An Elegy For Aaron Persky’s Judicial Career

"Timoclea Kills the Captain of  Alexander the Great" (Elisabetta Sirani, 1659)This week, the voters of Santa Clara County, California, recalled Judge Aaron Persky by a large margin.  Good riddance.

In 2016, Persky presided over  the trial of Brock Turner, a Stanford freshman convicted of rape assault with the intent to commit rape and “penetration of an intoxicated woman”. The case generated a tornado of media coverage, and featured a shattering victim impact statement, an  obnoxious dad and  sanctimonious victim-blaming.  Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail (he ultimately only served three) and three years’ probation.  The sentence was widely condemned as shockingly lenient, considering the circumstances of the crime, and ultimately cost Persky his judgeship.

During the nasty, messy recall campaign Persky’s defenders have been both vocal and eloquent in their opposition. The argument of the anti-recall campaign boils down to the idea that Persky merely followed California’s sentencing guidelines, which enumerate factors relevant to considering leniency.* Another, frankly paradoxical, justification for Persky’s sentence is that the guidelines simultaneously give judges a lot of discretion in sentencing AND somehow tie judges’ hands.  If you care about this case, I urge you to read not only the victim’s impact statement, but also  Brock Turner’s statement and Judge Persky’s  sentencing decision.  Having read all those, here is where I believe Persky and his defenders went wrong:

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