Daily Archives: 01/04/2013

Letter to Neil

Neil Steinberg
Sun-Times
Chicago

Dear Neil,

In regards to your letter to Cardinal George in today’s paper, thanks for “boinking,” a new word for my urban dictionary. Oh. No such word. Your substitute for something vulgar. Ho-kay, it’s not easy to make sense when you’re so boinking mad. [had “hoinking,” was corrected by its originator]

However, please distinguish between what’s essential to something and what describes it. You can say no marriage without sex without saying marriage is nothing but sex, can’t you? You can’t figure that out?

Moreover, is it possible you missed the cardinal’s argument, which is based on what a word means — its essence, we might say?

We could put quotes around same-sex “marriage,” but that would not stop the argument, though it would be a start. A new rule for copy editors? Put quotes around “marriage” when it’s been declared such by legislators in a sort of red-queen maneuver?  The Trib had quotes around “natural law” in a recent headline. So come on. Wide disagreement about a term, slap on the quote marks. Fair is fair.

And Neil, would you like to rethink your justification of something based on poll data. Everybody’s doin’ it, pickin’ their nose and chewin’ it is not a good framework for deciding things. Please. Look into that approach of yours.

And would you also reconsider your exaggerated dependence on biology. “Doin’ what comes natcherly” was a great show-song shtick. But as a norm for decision-making? Not so much.

Finally, Neil, do you want to spend your life going with the flow? Heraclitus, of all-is-flux fame, was a heavy thinker, but we can do better, I think.

Finally finally, not since the Albigensians has anyone accused a Roman Church official of overstating the importance of sexual activity. They preached sexual abstinence even in marriage, 800 years ago, and paid grievously for it, I am sorry to relate. Neil, you mean well, but look out.

de Tocqueville on getting used to boiling water . . .

. . . bit by bit, like lobsters.

“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd . . .

We get used to it, you see: “Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people . . . “

Pete Stark in his mirror

Retiring from Congress, was bad banker, forced money from others to “make a difference” in people’s lives.

The mirror tells the story.

Oh?

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