Sunday was the St. Patrick’s Day parade here in Detroit. It would have been nice to go. but parades have to have at least a minimal festive atmosphere, and it was 9 degrees when I got up and barely nudged above 20 the rest of the day. So much for the parade, then. Maybe next year.
Kate and I went bike-shopping for her; my favorite used-bike shop had a lovely aluminum-frame Trek road bike, like new, on sale for a killer price, and I wanted her to check it out sooner rather than later. She took it around the block and said, upon returning, that it was a nice bike and also that she couldn’t feel her ears: “Not the outside part, the inside.”
We bought the bike. I asked them to install a second set of brake levers on it, and the guy said it might take a few days. Take your time, son; this spring is still a ways down the road.
And that was about as exciting as the weekend got, although it was lovely and restful and included dinner with friends and a trip to the market and the usual activities. The week ahead will be busy and, if all goes well, should fly. I could use a flying week. Also a warm one.
A few bits of bloggage today, starting with the obvious troll bait: The impending death of Fred Phelps. He may well be gone by the time you read this, and I hope it’s a reflection of my state of mind regarding the relative importance of Fred Phelps that I seriously couldn’t care less. I guess the Westboro Baptist Church was remarkable at one point, but they managed to alienate pretty much the entire world, both right-wing warmongers and left-wing gay sympathizers (and left-wing warmongers and right-wing gay sympathizers), and everyone in between. In the end, the Westboro Baptist Church consisted of Phelps and his extended family, and not even that — the news of his health problems was communicated by one estranged son and confirmed by a second estranged son, with the added detail that Phelps himself had been kicked out of his own tiny church sometime last year. So, mission accomplished! You went looking for rancor and found it, and will now die alone with only hospice nurses attending. May this be the last bit of attention paid to them.
More interesting, in terms of high-profile deaths, is Gene Weingarten’s brief appreciation of Joe McGinniss. It is lean and honest and absolutely correct that McGinniss was unfairly maligned by Janet Malcolm in a lengthy New Yorker profile. It also gives credit where it is due, for “Fatal Vision,” McGinniss’ famous, and infamous, examination of the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case. I’ve always said that a writer’s first duty is to tell the truth, and sometime during what was supposed to be a sympathetic examination of the wrongly convicted MacDonald, the writer became convinced otherwise. And so, as Weingarten writes, what was he to do?
What was McGinniss supposed to have done when he realized, midway through the reporting, that the man he was writing about had lied to everyone? That he had killed his wife and older daughter in a rage — and then calmly, methodically hacked to death his sleeping two-year old, stabbing her 33 times with a knife and ice pick, just to strengthen his alibi? Was McGinniss required to dutifully inform the murderer that he now believed him guilty, and invite him to withdraw his cooperation if he wished, possibly killing the book outright, but certainly killing it as a meaningful, enlightening, powerful examination of the mind of a monster?
There is an implicit covenant between a writer and a subject; in return for whatever agreement you might make for the telling of the story, the subject must tell you the truth. If he lies, all deals are off. It is impossible for a subject to be less truthful than Jeffrey MacDonald was with Joe McGinniss: he misrepresented the central fact of his story, his own guilt.
And while we’re tangentially on the subject of God’s feelings about fags, I also recommend this piece about Scott Lively, the American evangelical minister behind Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws:
Lively is not the only US evangelical who has fanned the flames of anti-gay sentiment in Uganda. As they lose ground at home, where public opinion and law are rapidly shifting in favor of gay equality, religious conservatives have increasingly turned their attention to Africa. And Uganda, with its large Christian population, has been particularly fertile ground for their crusade.
His influence in Uganda is bad enough, but this is the clown behind this charming bit of amateur historical research:
Opponents likened Lively and his colleagues to Nazis and lobbed bricks wrapped in swastika flags through the windows of businesses supporting the measure. OCA’s aggressive campaign, likening gays to pedophiles, was also blamed for a steep uptick in gay hate crimes. In the end, Measure 9 was defeated by a 13-point margin. Undeterred, OCA began promoting measures barring special protections for homosexuals on the city and county levels. Lively, who bristled at the Nazi comparisons, also threw himself into studying the Third Reich and eventually grew convinced that gay men—some of whom occupied senior posts in the Nazi regime—were the driving force behind the Holocaust. “Everything that we think about when we think about Nazis actually comes from the minds and perverted ideas of homosexuals,” he told an Oregon public access television station in 1994.
Surely a closet case himself.
Finally, where is the plane? Where is the plane? And happy St. Patrick’s Day. Hope it’s a little warmer where you are.