Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Twas the Night before Christmas

“What was all the Genocide in Rwanda all about anyway?” my sweet daughter asked. The family was crowded into our cozy family room, the lights winking on the tree. It was a typical Christmas Eve at our house.

I was ready to explain colonialism, the exploitation of tribalism by manipulative Europeans, the collapse of Western dominance, the resurgence of ancient hatreds exaggerated by generations of European exploitation and rivalry.

But my son, majoring in anthropology and languages at the University, said he knew all about it. Ever ready to learn the truth I deferred to him. He prefaced his exposé by pointing out that he had the scoop right from Paul Rusesabagin, the heroic hotel manager on whose life the book and movie Hotel Rwanda was based. Rusesabagin had been visiting Weber State and told the story.

My son’s thumbnail synopsis ran something like this: There had been no distinction between Hutu and Tutsis before the arrival of the Belgians. All these people lived together in peace and spoke a common language. It was the Belgians who, by measuring noses and publishing racial identity cards, created the entire mess. According to our report, Rusesabagin had claimed that “Hutu” and “Tutsi” were even words invented by the Belgians.

I began to smell a rat, not my son, but hero with an agenda. I mentioned that it reminded me of that famous non-Indian American, Ward Churchill, who routinely portrays pre-Columbian America as a virtual paradise of peace until the white man arrived to murder and corrupt the innocence.

My skepticism about Rusesabagin was not received without challenge by the young idealist in the overstuffed chair. He was ready with a barrage of questions of his own. Where did I get my facts? How didI know it wasn't my old-fashioned history lectures that were flawed? Why should we doubt the testimony of a man who actually lived there and experienced the genocide in Rwanda and who had acted to save many by his courage?

A quick check of history reveals that the original people of what would become Rwanda were the Twa, the people I grew up calling pygmies. The Hutu arrived in the area some thousands of years ago and proceeded to all but annihilate the Twa; the few survivors fled to the deep forest to survive. As recently as the 15th century the Tutsis arrived in Rwanda to subjugate the Hutu in a sort of serfdom where the Tutsis remained herdsmen; dominant over their vegetable growing predecessors. A sort of replay of Cain and Able, with plenty of jealously and murder to come.

The Belgians arrived in the 19th century and found things divided. They chose to exploit the division to their advantage. Their alliance with the Tutsis assured the power and position of both against the more numerous Hutu people.

The unbelievable slaughter of the late twentieth century, observed but not interrupted by either the U. N. or the Clinton administration, can trace its origins to many roots; but Rusesabagin’s explanation, which seeks to place all the blame on the evils of Colonialism, is troubling. Which is more demeaning to the Hutu and the Tutsis; that they allowed their already existing hatred for each other to be manipulated by the Belgians and then, once turned lose by the collapse of Western paternalism, proceeded to hate and murder each other once again? Or what seems an even more demeaning scenario that Rusesabagin suggests? That the Belgians were able, in less than one hundred years of dominance, to create artificial lines of separation and train the "natives" to hate each other without reason or history, like so many trained apes, who sought to destroy each other once the trainers had abandoned them to their mindless monkey business.

“What was all the Genocide in Rwanda all about anyway?” It seems a fitting topic for Christmas Eve contemplation.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Below is an article from hizoner...the honarable (and democrat) former mayor of New York Ed Koch...

Before you read it you may ask yourself why a democrat, and a very public democrat at that, would make such a statement. Simple...he isn't running for anything. He isn't trying to win votes or gain power. He has the freedom and luxury to do this one thing...speak the truth.

George Bush Is a Hero

Edward I. Koch
Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006


President George W. Bush, vilified by many, supported by some, is a hero to me.

Why do I say that? It's not because I agree with the president's domestic agenda. It's not because I think he's done a perfect job in the White House.

George Bush is a hero to me because he has courage.

The president does what he believes to be in the best interest of the United States. He sticks with his beliefs, no matter how intense the criticism and invective that are directed against him every day.

The enormous defeat President Bush suffered with the loss of both Houses of Congress has not caused him to retreat from his position that the U.S. alone now stands between a radical Islamic takeover of many of the world's governments in the next 30 or more years. If that takeover occurs, we will suffer an enslavement that will threaten our personal freedoms and take much of the world back into the Dark Ages.

Our major ally in this war against the forces of darkness, Great Britain, is still being led by an outstanding prime minister, Tony Blair. However, Blair will soon be set out to pasture, which means Great Britain will leave our side and join France, Germany, Spain, and other countries that foolishly believe they can tame the wolf at the door and convert it into a domestic pet that will live in peace with them.

These dreamers naively believe that if we feed the wolves what they demand, they will go away. But that won't happen.

Appeasement never works. The wolves always come back for more and more, and when we have nothing left to give, they come for us.

Radical Islamists are very much aware that we have shown fear. For example, we have allowed the people of Darfur — dark skinned Africans — to be terrorized, killed, raped, and taken as slaves by the supporters of the Sudanese government, radical Islamists.

The countries surrounding Iraq — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan — made up of Sunni Arabs, know that for them, the wolves who are the radical Shia are already at their door. The New York Times reported on Dec. 13, 2006, "Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq's Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats . . .

"The Saudis have argued strenuously against an American pullout from Iraq, citing fears that Iraq's minority Sunni Arab population would be massacred . . . The Bush administration is also working on a way to form a coalition of Sunni Arab nations and a moderate Shiite government in Iraq, along with the United States and Europe, to stand against ‘Iran, Syria and the terrorists."

This Saudi response will take place notwithstanding that until now, according to the Times, "The Saudis have been wary of supporting Sunnis in Iraq because their insurgency there has been led by extremists of al-Qaida, who are opposed to the kingdom's monarchy. But if Iraq's sectarian war worsened, the Saudis would line up with Sunni tribal leaders."

The Times article went on to state the opinion of an Arab expert, Nawaf Obaid, who was recently fired by the Saudi foreign minister after Obaid wrote an op ed in The Washington Post asserting that the Saudis were prepared in the event of an American pullout to engage in a "massive intervention to stop Iranian-backed Shiite militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis."

Obaid went on "suggest[ing] that Saudi Arabia could cut world oil prices in half…a move that would be devastating to Iran."

The Times reported, "Arab diplomats . . . said that Mr. Obaid's column reflected the view of the Saudi government." When writing about affairs of state in distant places, unless you are on the scene talking to knowledgeable participants, the most reliable sources to support conjecture with "facts" are the superb reporters of the great international newspapers like The New York Times.

Surely this turn of events in Saudi Arabia undoubtedly replicated in other Sunni-dominated countries — Sunnis are 80 percent of the world's Muslim population. This will give support to my proposal, advanced nearly a year ago, that we tell our allies, regional and NATO, that we are getting out of Iraq unless they come in.

That may well work, and they will come in, in large part and share the casualties of combat and the financial costs of war.

Doing what I suggest is far better than simply pulling out, which is the direction in which we are headed, notwithstanding the president's opposition. I think at the moment simply getting out and not making an attempt to bring our allies in is supported by a majority of Americans and would be supported by a majority of Democrats in the Congress.

For me, staying is clearly preferable, provided we are not alone and are joined by our regional and NATO allies, aggressively taking on the difficult but necessary task of destroying radical Islam and its terrorist agenda if we don't want to see radical Islam destroy the Western world and moderate Arab states over the next generation, or as long as it takes for them to succeed.

Two other requirements are needed to bring the war in Iraq to a successful conclusion: First, require the Iraqi government to allow greater autonomy for the three regions — Kurd, Sunni, and Shia. The second requirement is that the national Iraqi government enact legislation that will divide all oil and natural gas revenues in a way similar to that of our own state of Alaska.

The Alaskan state government takes from those revenues all it will need to finance government and provide services and the balance is divided among the population of Alaska, in a profit sharing program. That would settle the major Sunni problem which has been being cut out of oil revenues because the country's oil is located only in Kurdish and Shiite areas.

If the Iraqi government refuses our demands, our reply should be "Goodbye. You're on your own." This proposal was suggested to me by Mike Sheppard in Chapel Hill, N.C.

It won't be easy to implement this proposal. But President Bush has courage.

Now is the time to use it.

Anonymous said...

I dont like this new format...I cant go back and fix spelling errors! Oh well...tolerate it.

Anonymous said...

Lysis...

I think history is always a bit tainted. I know we have had this discussion before but I think that is because we have so few historians and too many hysterians.

People are. Thats all. Society's are. Thats it. Learn from it.

I have heard the argument that history is slanted because it is written from a white/caucasion/european slant. Hogwash. 'History' and it's texts as it is taught in our schools is written from an 'academia' perspective and has been since at least the 60's when I went to school.

Victimology is not the key but it is a piece. Guilt is another key component.

Sure...the movies showed us war whooping indians as savages, but the history classes showed us peace loving natives destroyed by white men. I dont discount the role the white men played and believe it should be taught...there are lessons to be learned. But teach the total picture for perspective sake. This land's natives were no different than any other country and people. The Mayan culture is a good example, as is the Inca and Aztec cultures. Violence is a component of every people and has been throughout recorded history.

I once has a discussion with a professor who stated that the aboriginees of New Zealand were the exception...that they had never known such problems. Really? Do a little research and what you find is that even these peace loving people have thier history and it continues today. When there becomes a shortage of women in their tribe they simply target another tribe and take women and children and yes, wars occurs, just not on the same grand scale we have become familiar with. And they simply see it as the way it has always been done.

We hear all the time about the Japaneese Americans interned during WW2 and their loss. Do you hear about the many German and italian Americans that suffered an identical fate? No...and why not? because academia believes white people as the dominant culture ought to feel the guilt of the ages. If slavery were taught as a global crime that occured and still occurs in the African countries, why, we might actualloy learn that it was just a small component of our nations history...smaller by far than just about any other country in the world. But because it isnt taught as simply a global fact we in this country STILL feel the impact of slavery. See...victimization is a GOOD thing...depending on your perspective.

Dont believe me? OK...then why dont the ancestry of the Irish that came here for decades as indentured servants remain oppressed, even though 'their kind' were despised in all the places they settled? Why do blacks of different global origin come to this country and thrive?

So many examples of skewed history...the US...South Africa...the list goes on.

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic:

Great piece by Ed Koch! I take great comfort in President Bush. One thing that gives me great confidence in President Bush is the enemies he as. My Dad always told me you could judge a man by his enemies.

History is always hard to get spot on. I always begin my classes with a discussion on Orwell’s *1984*. We read the section were Winston Smith is rewriting history to fit Big Brothers agenda. I do this not so much to make my students skeptical of history, but to make them eager to learn as much as they can so they cannot be deceived by those who would reshape it for any number of reasons.

Note: Many Germans and Italians were locked up for the duration of WW II., but these were not American Citizens as were many of the Japanese who were incarcerated. This is a substantial difference. It points to a specific evil, racism. That all Japanese were locked up because of their race, while Germans and Italians were locked up according to their nationality, should have been a red flag reasoning people. It is an important difference to just people and is recognized in the U.S. judicial system now. When American’s found their laws manipulated by racial bigotry they should have smelt the rat.

a quiet listener said...

since school is out and my work is closed for the christmas break i've taken to reading a new book my wife gave me. it's the complete works of oscar wilde. what an incredible writer. i just finished "the picture of dorian gray." i couldn't put it down. i found it fascinating. i kept comparing myself and my friends to the characters and the actions performed in the book. it was intriguing in that i saw much of myself in each of the three characters. i'd say one of the best things i learned from the book is the importance that our influence has; be it for good or evil. christlike basil hallward put himself entirely into adoring and helping dorian who to me represented all mankind. dorian gray started out in his boyish innocence quite naive to the sins of the world and finally lord henry wotton to me represented satan. dorian had what wotton would never have, and esteemed higher than anything. never ending beauty. satan does not have a body but hates us for having one and he would tempt us to mistreat it, destroy it and use it to mock God. henry could not relive his sins and gain that same "pleasure" that one gains for the first time so, just like satan, he took up corrupting others to see them change horribly into sinful, hedonistic creatures. it was to him like watching a play, he didn't care about the people whose lives he ruined, he thought of them as we might think of actors on a stage not really "living" what they act out. eventually dorian grows as bad as henry or worse. i won't spoil the ending but i think this parallels the current discussion. the hutu and the tutsi certainly had a bad influence by the colonial dutch. dorian gray had the choice to listen to the common sense and practical advice that basil gave him or choose to sin and force his portrait to bear the shame after listening to henry's advice. he had the equal capacity for sin before bad influence was exercised. it was him who chose it just as it was the hutu and the tutsi who chose to act on the evil impulses which they clearly knew prior to the belgians. their hatred for the brothers is truly as old as cain and was not invented or caused by the belgians.

to any who have read "the picture of dorian gray" i'd love to hear your opinion. to those who haven't it's only 175 pages or so. give it a read. it will certainly make you think.

Lysis said...

A Quiet Listener:

Thanks for the review of *The Picture of Dorian Gray*. It is indeed a powerful and moving story, one that fills the reader with all kinds of ideas. That is an important part of good literature; it must transfer into the reader’s life. I believe Wilde is the best creator of word pictures of any writer. He truly exemplifies the idea that, “while a picture may be worth a thousand words, the right word can create a thousand pictures”.

Another fun thing about great literature is that it reaches out to different readers in different ways. It has been a long time since I held any pretensions to personal physical beauty; however I have known many Dorian Grays. In my experience most make the right choices in spite of the temptations of Wottons or Satans. Some, sadly, have gone down in flames, marring both their physical beauty and their souls.

I must admit that the last time I read Dorian Gray I found myself wondering if I were a Hallward or a Wotton. The best way to take advantage of positive mentors in life and to avoid those who might mar is for the “beautiful youths” of the world to learn to think for them.

It is the same with the peoples of the world; weather motivated by racism, religion, or another flavor of hate, reason is the only tool that can save them from self destructive folly. Ideas can be Wottons too. For example the silly notion that we can have peace by surrender to evil, seems so attractive – yet in the end it will prove a hollow and ugly lie.

Another idea I have often considered as I read Dorian Gray, is “Handsome is as Handsome does”. I have met many physically beautiful young people; some live up to my hopes and validate my philosophy, that the good, the beautiful, and the true are one. Others prove corrupt, and within a relatively short time, thought their physical aspect does not change, I find, that to me, their beauty is marred by their actions. Many Hollywood types find themselves likewise tainted, and then wonder why they lose their popularity, the adoration of the people. It works the other way too, some who did not at first catch my eye as beautiful have come to be so as I learned their hearts.

I remember what pleasure I received from my first reading in Oscar Wilde. I am excited that you now have such a chance, to discover this beauty for the first time, and see it grow more beautiful by the truths it will revel. I am pleased to tell you that many of the other short stories and plays of Oscar Wilde are even more powerful than Dorian Gray!

Rumpole said...

Dan,

I am, indeed, sorry for having offended you. That was certainly not my intention. As Lysis can attest to, I am very competitive by nature; I hate to lose. I have already suggested here that I am a “reforming bomb thrower”. Unfortunately, when I see the opportunity to light the fuse somehow from time to time “reforming” magically disappears from that phrase. I will continue to work to be better.

As Lysis suggested, a great void was left when his friend left the teaching profession. It was a void that made the lives of the students he would have taught a little less full had he otherwise been there to enrich those students with what he had to offer. The Agora will be the same in your absence. I hope you will reconsider.

By way of unfinished business, I have researched in the archives and have found the substance to back my claim of the suggestion that “Dan did indeed imply that (prosecutorial conduct) does not occur, and went so far as to suggest that prosecutors should not be questioned.”

I will discuss this on a separate post in an attempt to preserve the sincerity of my apology.

Rumpole said...

Dan,

By way of reminder, here is what I wrote that apparently made you angry: “Dan did indeed imply that it does not occur, and went so far as to suggest that prosecutors should not be questioned.”

Please refer to April, 2005 in the Archives (Dancing the Pelosi Two Step and The Filibuster – The Last Gasp of Relativism) for these posts. This is going to be long, because I don’t want to be accused of cherry-picking or taking statements out of context.

I might add that we were discussing the propriety of Nancy Workman’s (former Salt Lake County Mayor) prosecution, over the application of $17,000 of County money to a boys and girls club that her daughter was an officer, by David Yocum, the Salt Lake County D.A.

My initial shot over the bow was:

“DannyBoy, I can't say I know Yocum personally, but I will tell you there is no way his motives in Workman's prosecution were truth, justice, and the American way. Please spare me the rhetoric if you believe otherwise. We will simply have to agree to disagree.”

Your response to my salvo:

“I have worked in a prosecutor’s office for the last year. I have seen the work that goes into deciding who to charge, and with what violations, based on the law, the evidence, and the specific defendant. The arguments that have been made here, while probably with good intent, are of the most damaging nature to our justice system. I am not saying that the people should not be able to question. But when aspersions are cast on prosecutors as a whole, something usually reserved by Johnnie Cochran type liberal trial lawyers, it breaks down the system from the inside.”

“I cannot dispute that the democrats in Washington do what they do for nefarious reasons. I am sure they are motivated in their attacks on Delay by their political leanings. However, to apply that judgment to David Yocum, a man who has worked as a prosecutor for decades (and believe me, that isn't where the money is) is, in my opinion pretty foul.”

My response:

“Finally, I have to say that your statement that these arguments are of the most damaging to our legal system is the most concerning to me. If you have assumed I believe all prosecutor’s to proceed according to their own agenda, as you imply, you are incorrect. However, every prosecution should be and MUST BE questioned from members of the society that has empowered the prosecutor. As I stated before, I don't have confidence in giving one man that power, or even a committee of lawyers who work for that same man. As repetitive as it is, if all of those prosecutions were pure, why would we need a jury?”

Your reply:

“You have cast aspersions on the District Attorney of Salt Lake County. You have offered no evidence for your opinion, you have merely claimed his motives were not pure. This is dangerous. This is wrong. If you spoke out against a prosecution because the prosecutor breached his duty of ethics, or if you felt there was bias (based on something, not relying on the claim itself), then you should, and can, definitely say something about it.”

Rumpole’s reply:

“That is where the crux of my right to question a D.A.'s motives lie. I must tell you I will not deviate from that questioning. In my view the awesome power to pass judgement has shifted from the committee of twelve to the office of one. Nationally it appears to be shifting from the elected body of 535 (the Congress and Senate and I know my number is probably not dead on), the Executive (the President) and the quorum of 9 (the Supreme Court), to solely the quorum of 9.”

“It appears to me that when we give up the right to question we give up our rights. It is too much power to turn over to one without a critical eye.”

As to your asking for evidence (see your question to me directly below) to back up my questioning, I later (in Filibuster) offered the following:

“Rumpole, I challenge you to give me ANY evidence to back up your claim that Yocum's reasons were less than proper. I give Lysis the same challenge. And it must be more than the fact that Workman and he had different political leanings, and that the prosecution lost the case.”

My answer:

“Apparently, at Randy Horiuchi's (Democrat) behest (see the article), Salt Lake County approved the diversion of $100,000 from the "Municipal Services" fund to go to the same boys and girls club that Nancy Workman sent $17,000 to (that is an $83,000 difference, but who is counting?) in a diversion from the "Health Department" fund.”


Certainly, this entire dialogue is subject to interpretation. You did state that “people should be able to question”, while immediately following up with “when aspersions are cast on prosecutors as a whole . . . it breaks down the system from the inside.

In summary, there is ample evidence here to back my claim on your position as to “casting aspersions” on prosecutors. None of this was “made up” simply to strengthen an argument.

Anonymous said...

Apocalypto...

I saw the movie tonight...still processing...

I have to say I didnt see the struggles of the world today. I saw a pretty inspiring story of family and love. I saw lessons of powerful relationships between fathers and sons (even the "bad guy" father). I saw the "love conquers all" message.

Some things I didn't like.

1-Why is it necessary gratuitously place the F word in every movie? It was little more than a cheap 'pop' and most of the audience (above say...25) didn't grin or snicker or giggle...

2-The predictability. Eventually good triumphs over evil. Very formulaic.

3-The ending was almost Monty Python esque.

I think we had a powerful telling of a story based around some proven aspects of the Mayan culture. I really didn't need it to be anything more than that.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole...

I don't know if Dan will be responding to this and I don't personally have a dog in this fight, so...I am going to respond my dang self.

I don't see the proof in the pudding of your responses. Dan said casting general aspersions is reckless and damaging and instead challenged you and Lysis to provide a specific example of David Yocum's prosecutorial misconduct. I didnt
see the example provided in your exchange. Disagreement, yes. Example? No.

I think it is as reckless as the mis characterization of Judge Alphin as being 'corrupt' and a collaborator as opposed to saying you disagreed with his decision and believed it was within his power as a judge to throw out the case. One is a fair personal assessment, the other is character assassination.

Me...I believe there are plenty of cases where you can specifically point to prosecutorial misconduct. I think there are a lot of other cases where you can point to a justice system gone awry...the Ruby Ridge case comes to mind.

I think if you said "there are times when prosecutors overstep their bounds for the wrong reasons" I think you would find you and Dan in complete agreement. Scratch that...I KNOW he would agree because he said as much about the prosecutor in the Duke case.

I think where he rises to the defense is when the generalized statements regarding prosecutors are made (which to me are as damaging as the generalized statements regarding scout leaders). I daresay even your namesake would rise to defend MOST prosecutors.

Lysis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lysis said...

Rumpole;

Unlike Mindmechanic, I do believe that you have carried your burden of proof here. I believe the Nancy Workman’s pointless and political prosecution to have been every bit as valid a claim of prosecutorial misconduct as the mess in Maryland. You further proved that by pointing out the Democrat County Commissioner ten timesed the public money given to the same charity and there was praise not prosecution.

Danny Boy2’s put the proof in the pudding by insisting on calling down a general defense of all prosecutors as a blanket cover for David Yocum’s obvious and flagrant partisan shanghais. If anyone was playing at hiding behind generalizations here it was Dan. Even though most scout leaders are excellent people who demand respect, those who abuse their positions should be dealt with without fear of tainting the rest. Not even Old Horace Rumpole would rise to the “most prosecutors are good so don’t say anything bad about them” defense.

Mindmechanic:

I’m glad you went to Apocalypto. My youngest son, who has also gone; was even less enthusiastic in his support than you. He faulted the “jumping over the waterfall” sequence as being “in every action movie” and not only disliked the foul language at the time of the snake bit but the “Hay, I’m walking here” taunt at the falling tree.

As for me, no one giggled at the F word in the Cache Valley Theater where I watched. I choose to interpret it as Gibson’s attempt to tie the emotion of that ancient “gangster” to the mind set of his modern counter parts. If it did not work – it was a less than significant moment. I guess that in the midst of murdering so many thousands of innocent people, one foul mouth seemed pretty petty.

As to the triumph of good over evil; I hoped for it, but I did not predict it. I remember turning to my friend at the end and saying, if it didn’t end happily I’d hate it. Perhaps, you, Mindmechanic, will remember the Pre Star War’s days, when every movie predictably ended in failure, ended with the triumph of evil. Perhaps it was Vietnam that made Hollywood determined to make movie goers expect the worst. I prefer to believe that the triumph of good over evil is indeed inevitable, and that a beautiful young family, one save out of countless thousands destroyed, deserved a moment of triumph. Over the holiday I watched the last third of *Hoosiers* on TV. There was never any doubt that the good guys would win, why else would they have made the movie, but I did not begrudge Hickory the State championship. Sometimes prayers should be answered, even at the movies.

Finally, Monty Python’s producers were professors of history who wove many deep messages into their satires, so I will not consider your comment about the ending as necessarily a slam. As an aspiring historian myself, the powerful image invoked by what I knew was coming for the Native People of America, good and bad, made the arrivals in that scene ominous, as I have said above, in the same way as Ralph’s rescue by a battle ship in *Lord of the Flies*. I can see how it might be interpreted as a joke, but to me it set off a flood of thoughts about weather “what came next” would be good or evil. Surely it could be no more evil than what it replaced, and perhaps that was the not necessarily subtle message Gibson was shooting for.

I too was most impressed by the courage of a young a beautiful family fighting against so much evil to preserve so much good. I did see much of America’s struggle in the world of so much evil portrayed. I am glad you saw the beauty. I wish I could impart some of the other feelings I had, but perhaps that variance of interpretation is indeed an attribute of the unpredictable nature of the appreciation of art

Anonymous said...

Lysis...

"in the midst of murdering so many thousands of innocent people, one foul mouth seemed pretty petty"

My point exactly. I was raised by sailors. I spent 40 years of my life in the military and work with people today that use the word like it's nothing. It really has no impact on me personally (only so much damage can be done). I just object to the gratuitous use of it. No NEED for it. It didnt add to the movie.

See...and I did think the "I'm walking here" line was funny and apropos to the character...so again, perspective is everything.

My wife disagreed with me about the ending too. She thought the very term 'Apocalypto' was significant because the movie showed with the eclipse of the sun, the change in practice of sacrifice, and then the coming of the Spaniards the very definition of cataclysmic change.

She also had more and definitely deeper insights into the movies meaning than I did. I agreed with her (and you, and others) that greater meaning can be found in the movie. My only comment was that I didnt NEED there to be anything more. And not that my position is better...

I dont know how I would have ended the movie. My Python-esque comment is hopefully not a slam as I LOVE the Python movies and list them as my favorites. I think the ending was sealed with the birth of the baby. And maybe that is where the formulaic part comes in. Just SO MANY adversities to overcome that of course there was no way he wouldnt. And it didnt cheapen the movie...just made it's ending sure.

Hey...History question...any historical accuracy to the Spaniards arrival in conjunction with a total eclipse? THAT would be cool...

In the end, this is one of those movies that I DIDNT walk away wishing for 2.5 hours of my life back. I enjoyed the movie. Not once did I ask "hey...is that authentic Mayan?" I just enjoyed it as it was.

Anonymous said...

"Even though most scout leaders are excellent people who demand respect, those who abuse their positions should be dealt with without fear of tainting the rest. Not even Old Horace Rumpole would rise to the “most prosecutors are good so don’t say anything bad about them” defense."

True! Indeed!

The point...

A more accurate and honest comment would be "MOST scout leaders are awesome, honorable, and do their very best, but SOME scout leaders are lazy, careless, and in some cases exploit children. For example..."

And I think the same goes for prosecutors. And cops. And lawyers. And counselors. And teachers. Etc...

Rumpole said...

Mind Mechanic,

My “generalization” that Dan implied “(prosecutorial misconduct) does not occur” was wrong. My “specific” that David Youcum’s motives were less than pure was dead on point.

I might also add here that Lysis is correct when he points out that it was Dan who leapt to the generalization in the instance of Yocum and “prosecutors as a whole.”

My memory also did not fail me when I pointed out that Dan suggested “that prosecutors should not be questioned.”

Generally speaking, how can we determine if prosecutorial misconduct occurs if we do not ask questions?

I pointed out that Yocum’s motives were less than pure in his prosecution of Nancy Workman. Dan’s response was “You have cast aspersions on the District Attorney of Salt Lake County. You have offered no evidence for your opinion, you have merely claimed his motives were not pure. This is dangerous. This is wrong.”

Dan suggests here that it is “dangerous” and “wrong” to question. I don’t know how this can be clearer.

How is it possible to gather evidence if we do not first ask questions? Do you routinely look for something that you have not lost?

Is a prosecutor such as David Yocum (a Democrat) afforded the right to “cast aspersions” in the search for prosecution while a private citizen is denied that same right in questioning the prosecutor’s motives?

Additionally, Dan’s litmus test (and this is not sarcasm, Dan did delineate a litmus test here) was met.

“Rumpole, I challenge you to give me ANY evidence to back up your claim that Yocum's reasons were less than proper. I give Lysis the same challenge. And it must be more than the fact that Workman and he had different political leanings, and that the prosecution lost the case.”

Randy Horiuchi (Democrat) pushed through the appropriation of $100,000 of County funds to the same club that Nancy Workman (Republican) sent $17,000. Was the money Horiuchi sent for a good cause, while the money Workman sent somehow dirty? Did Horiuchi send the money to curry favor with Workman because he knew of her daughter’s association with the club?

By Dan’s litmus test, I have no right to ask any of those questions until I have evidence to back them up. No need to search for something that hasn’t been lost.

Apparently Yocum has the ability to selectively apply Dan's litmus test, while citizens do not.

I have clearly stated “If you have assumed I believe all prosecutors to proceed according to their own agenda, as you imply, you are incorrect.”

I have also stated “every prosecution should be and MUST BE questioned from members of the society that has empowered the prosecutor.”

I see no conflict. I struggle mightily when it is offered that no questions should be raised until evidence is put forth. It makes no sense to me.

Even Saddam’s prosecutors needed to be questioned.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole...

I dont really believe we even disagree.

"I have no right to ask any of those questions until I have evidence to back them up"

No...of course you have every RIGHT to ask questions and to challenge. I think the difference comes when the immediate jump is to call into questions people ethics and motives. I think we can see here in this forum...good people can have honest disagreements...and it doesnt mean either sides ethics are lacking. Unless of course they ARE. They CAN be lacking...just not necessarily are.

I suspect that is what Dan rose to challenge. I know in the recent posting regarding Judge Allphin, that was why I was motivated to engage as well.

Rumpole said...

Mind Mechanic,

Perhaps we are closer than I realize, but I still have a few questions. Maybe I am guilty of what I suggested Dan was, that of not understanding tone, but where is the “character assassination” in questioning someone’s motives?

I am not a D.A., but doesn’t the D.A.’s fundamental responsibility lie in establishing motive? Is that right bestowed upon him alone when he assumes the mantel of District Attorney? Is he the only one who can question and determine if motives are pure?

And can he be selective in that application? According to Yocum, Workman’s motives were obviously contrary to that of the law and of good judgment when she appropriated funds to the club. Horiuchi’s motives for an appropriation more than five times greater to the same organization, on the other hand, apparently had no need to be questioned.

Where is the “character assassination” to Yocum’s good name? I don’t see it.

Additionally, why would anyone be so defensive about being asked such questions? Call me crazy, but it’s been my experience that where there is smoke there is fire. Who can forget Clinton’s righteous indignation? “I did not have sexual relations with that girl!” Sure, and it all depends upon the meaning of what “is, is.”

My point here is not to suggest that Yocum is similar to Clinton. But I see nothing in my “tone” that suggests Yocum’s character was impugned. When one’s motives are questioned, wouldn’t it be better to say . . . “I can understand why you might think my approach to this case was misguided, but here is why it was not,” rather than . . . “How dare you question my motives for my actions, I am, after all, the District Attorney!”

As I suggested before with Judge Allphin, if the open meetings law had indeed been violated, why didn’t he just say so? Wouldn’t that have been better than issuing a time-out? Where is the “character assassination” in making that suggestion? Perhaps the offense I have committed is that I called Judge Allphin spineless. Should he be protected from such criticism?

In my estimation, both of these examples are great illustrations of members of the judiciary becoming insulated from scrutiny. It strikes to the very core of that which both you and I abhor, judicial activism.

It is not “character assassination” to question such motives. It is a civic responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole...

I have to revert to the recent argument and comments re Judge Allphin. I cant speak to the discussion you had with Dan. I hope he will.

To me...citing Judge Allphins decision and branding him a co-conspirator without an assessment of HIS responsibilities as a judge is character assassination. I have no problem that you disagreed with his decision. I do have a problem with automatically assuming that because he made the decision he did he most somehow be corrupt or have made the decision for his own selfish reasons.

I also have a problem with your comment that he is spineless. Again...the only reason you deem him spineless is because his decision disagreed with yours That his decision was the RIGHT decision as dictated by Utah law (and rightly cited) is not even a consideration to you.

And to be honest...the 'spineless' comment sort of proves the point. It is an attack against his character. I dont know if you know the man or not. I do. I know your characterization is wrong. I am not a lawyer but since we started discussing this topic I took the time to read the Utah law regarding closed door meetings. Whether you like it or not, the school board violated Utah code. No judge...Allphin included...has the RIGHT or AUTHORITY to ignore law. Its the personal attacks against a man.

Rumpole said...

Mind Mechanic,

I have apparently evoked similar emotion from you that I did from Dan. Apparently I haven’t reformed from bomb-throwing nearly to the point I thought I had!

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I do not recall labeling Allphin a co-conspirator. If I have done so I am wrong. I did call Judge Allphin spineless for issuing a meaningless time-out. That being said, I would suggest that I have assessed his responsibilities while considering my position.

Is he not responsible to rule according to the law?

Have I not proffered that if indeed, your research is correct and the law was violated, Judge Allphin should have so ruled? If that had been the case, have I not also suggested that perhaps we would be discussing bad law rather than a meaningless injunction at this juncture?

You actually prove my point here. If indeed, as your research has borne out in your estimation, the school board violated the code, why didn’t Judge Allphin just rule that way? I emphasize to you that my argument here is not with a violation of the law, or even with the law itself, it is with a ruling that avoided, in your estimation, the truth!

I will happily acknowledge I was wrong in calling Allphin spineless if there is a legitimate reason for avoiding the truth. Please, point it out to me.

As for my “spineless” comment, I respect your view that it could be construed as “character assassination”, but I do not agree. As Lysis offered about his friend who left the teaching profession, some responsibilities require a little thicker skin.

Is there a line of decorum that should not be crossed? Certainly. Humor me with a sports metaphor as an example. Terrell Owens should have never spit in the face of the defensive back that was covering him.

I don’t think I’ve done that. I have aggressively questioned the ruling of a judge, that by your own assessment, delayed ruling according to the law.

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic:

A couple of thoughts; first to Judge Alphin; I also have always had a high opinion of his character. However, I disagree with you on two points. One, the School Board did NOT violate the Utah code. The Boundary Committee may have done so, if the statute applied to them. I think Rumpole’s problem with Judge Allphin is that he did not rule that the law applied to the Boundary Committee. Rather he punted that ball somewhere, and left the School Board no other course than to appoint a single consultant to make the recommendations. These recommendations are due to come out in a matter of weeks if not days, and all the work of the Boundary Committee and all the input that the community gathered over months of careful and open interaction with all aspects of the Davis County citizens will be lost. Point two, I take issue with your claim that, “No judge. . . Allphin included. . . has the RIGHT or AUTHORITY to ignore law”. In principle I might agree with you – this is as it should be – but in fact judges rule contrary to the law all the time. Because they have this power they should use it justly. I point most recently to a county judge in Kansas who tossed out charges against an abortionist named Tiller. Not only had Tiller violated the law repeatedly but the excuse the judge used for throwing out the charges was something entirely of his own concoction. The country seems to have no problem with the Kansas Judge’s action, nor would I had Allphin shown some similar initiative in this case. This brings us back to my original claim, that judges should do justice. Since they have the power to do so, they are open to criticism when they do not.

My second thought deals with name calling. It is my observation that there are many relativists who, while pointing out often imagined flaws and failings in their opponents with zeal, (Examples include the endless baseless attacks on President Bush, V. P. Cheney and former Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.) these same zealous name callers pretend such outrage when their own flaws are pointed out. Examples here: Point out to a neo-lib that his consistently claiming the U.S. has lost the war in Iraq, that the perversions at Au Grebe were some how the policy of our military or the Administration, that U. S. troops are murdering babies, or torturing terrorists held in American Cuba; gives aid and comfort to our enemies. This is an irrefutable fact, but the neo-lib puts on a pout and accuses one of challenging his patriotism. I submit it is his unpatriotic behavior that indicts him, but he retreats behind a pout and accuses those who have pointed out the truth of his actions as unjustly impugning his honor.

These remain the facts in the High School Boundary mess. The “Randy lawyer” brought his lawsuit, not because he cared one wit about open meetings, but because he did not want to have his child attend school with people he conceders unworthy. Judge Allphin was not required to hummer Randy’s tantrum and had the POWER to see justice done; he choose not to. It was not my intention to impugn Judge Allphin’s character, but rather to impugn his uncharacteristic behavior.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole...

I may be mistaken, but I highly doubt Mike Allphin is a lurker here. If he is reading, I doubt being called spineless is the worst that a judge has been called. He isnt here to take it personally. I dont take it personally. I do know him and I know your characterization is wrong. But thats OK...if it makes YOU feel better...by all means...carry on. I just do not for the life of me understand the need to.

And again...I dont think we really disagree.

We just see this entire exchange differently. You write...

"Is he not responsible to rule according to the law?

Have I not proffered that if indeed, your research is correct and the law was violated, Judge Allphin should have so ruled? If that had been the case, have I not also suggested that perhaps we would be discussing bad law rather than a meaningless injunction at this juncture?

You actually prove my point here. If indeed, as your research has borne out in your estimation, the school board violated the code, why didn’t Judge Allphin just rule that way?"

Yes...he IS responsible. He is a judge. He has an obligation to rule accordingly to Utah law. He did so.

Why didnt he rule that way? What way, Rumpole? He was presented with a request for an injunction and he ruled that due to the school boards actions, an injunction was in order. Anything more would be beyond his scope. Anything less would be unconstitutional. It is such a simple procedure...I honestly dont see how come it continues to get such play.

My position...the judge (I'll take the personality out of it) was presented with a motion that was written based on Utah law. The judge ruled that the motion made was valid IAW Utah law. Nothing more. Nothing less. No cowardice, no bravado, no arrogance...it was a simple and just ruling.

And I think the fact that the school board didnt challenge the ruling proves it.

yeesh...its the post that never ends...

Anonymous said...

Lysis...

"One, the School Board did NOT violate the Utah code. The Boundary Committee may have done so, if the statute applied to them."
OK...granted...

"I think Rumpole’s problem with Judge Allphin is that he did not rule that the law applied to the Boundary Committee. Rather he punted that ball somewhere"

This one I disagree with. He wasnt presented with a trial on which to judge. I dont know MUCH about the law but I do know that everyone has to play by it, including judges. He was presented with an injunction. He granted it IAW state law. It wasnt punted...it was granted. Thats ALL that was presented.

We dont disagree about the reason the motion was filed. You and I both agree (and I think it is pretty obvious) why it was filed. I wish it wasnt. I wish the zoning board had been more careful. Maybe they thought they did everything right...I dont even doubt or question them.

I would bet that if Judge Allphin had refused the order it would have gone to the state courts and it would have been granted there.

OK...let me try this...since we both agree that Judge Allphin is a man of character, isnt there some leeway for allowing for his character AND his knowledge of the law and what is required? EVEN if we disagree with his ruling? Isnt it POSSIBLE that a man is his position knows what he can and cant do, should or shouldnt do?

Or not. Maybe he is just a goofball that fell into his position.

Lysis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lysis said...

Mindmechanic;

Accepting Judge Allphin’s admittedly unimpeachable character, we are left with only his ruling to critique. You accept, based on the character of the judge (which I do not dispute) that the decision was forced on him by law. I will grant that the Judge did as he believed he had to, and that based on the quality of person he is, he therefore could have done nothing else. Perhaps that is why Edwards shopped Allphin up – knowing that he would become another “willing” victim of Edwards’s deception. It was never my intention to make this a matter of Allphin’s character.

I DO DISAGREE with his ruling. Others (not you, Mindmechanic) have taken that disagreement and made it a personal matter between the good judge and myself. This goes directly to the examples I have given of the Bush haters. They invariably assert that any disagreement with their claims is a personal attack on their character and thus defend their erroneous positions by accusing others of character assassination. What is particularly painful is that while doing this they drum up such slogans as “Culture of Corruption” to have the media randomly stick on their opponents. They make the politics of personal destruction a sword and shield at once.

The proper response to my claim, that the ruling allowed injustice to happen; a claim I have continually demonstrated; would be to show how I am wrong in making such an assertion. The defense of the character of the judge who made it is not at issue; it is whether or not his decision hurt the children and citizens of Davis County.

I also agree that we agree on the nefarious nature of Randy Edward’s request. So we are left with this question: Is it the nature of the process to force judges to support nefarious activities, or is it the purpose of the law to allow judges to consider all aspects of a case and rule according to justice. Your response, and perhaps Dan’s too - had he not left us - would be to say that judges cannot make such decisions on their own but must follow the law. But that in itself is a decision. Judges make such decisions all the time. I have repeatedly given you the unfortunate example of the judge in Kansas. You reply that eventually Edwards would have found a judge who would have supported his injunction anyway. That does not seem to me to be a justifiable reason for ruling in a way that supports bigotry. If a judge must get into trouble with the community which he is empowered to serve, or with the superior courts under whose sway he functions, it seems to me to be a “better way” to choose to uphold the right rather than to allow the wrong. If judges should really be the form-bound automatons some are claiming, let’s cut to the chase and replace them with calculating machines.

Please do not confuse my opinion of Judge Allphin with any words used by Rumpole. Had Jesus Himself made this decision, I would still ask for an explanation, and that wanting; consider His choice mistaken.

Anonymous said...

Lysis...

"Edwards shopped Allphin"

My VERY LIMITED knowledge of the courts system says this really isnt possible. The motion is filed and assigned. He wasnt shopped or targeted. it fell on his desk. He acted. I understand that you disagree with his decision and totally respect your position as well.

No matter what and for the sake of ALL involved, I hope it will soon be resolved.

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic;

Thanks for the info on “judge shopping”. I guess Edwards just got a bargain.