Tue 28 Nov 2006 6:17 AM
The disturbing thought arrived whilst in the midst of a whiskey shit. Carrying me mercifully away from love’s labor lost was this head scratcher, imprinted as the sole English text on a package of Chinese toilet paper: “Mind act upon mind.” A redundant and misleading statement within the context of Buddhist thought, the phrase is a succinct, grammatically incorrect reiteration of phenomenology’s central thesis.
Was this foresight and kindness on the part of the toilet paper’s manufacturers? Subtle Communist propaganda designed to undermine our way of life? A mental fabrication elicited by William Grant? Whether or not this statement is a message of hope or despair most likely rests with the individual.
Equally unnerving is the slim blue can of Gatsby brand shaving cream, perched on my sink and also visible from my toilet. The identity issues raised by a grooming product named for a character that was little more than a winning smile are further complicated by this apparent mocking indictment of metrosexuality: “For men who want to keep the skin feeling healthy and fresh.”
Go ahead, you straw man pansy, shave up.
In news outside of my bathroom, a Russian spy was poisoned to death in London, representing the second incidence of an unnecessarily complicated Russian spy assassination carried out in the UK. First
it was ricin-loaded umbrellas, now the radioactive substance polonium 210. Next they’re going to be tricking ex-agents into eating shellfish during the summer red tide or mixing diamond powder into their cocaine.
The British police seem to be doing their usual miraculously good job–aided perhaps by their terrifyingly ubiquitous surveillance systems. Whatever the case, their work truly deserves praise, especially compared with that of their American counterparts. From investigative effecicacy, discretion in releasing frightening information, and most relevant this week, restraint in using force, our law enforcement agencies really don’t stack up to those across the pond.
While the London guard was tracking down radiation in sushi restaurants and in general finding needles in haystacks, the NYPD–in an operation akin to taking black off of coal–was busy trying to prevent people from purchasing sex and drugs at a strip club. The operation was appartently prompted by spates of violence against ladies of the night and the normally clean-cut, church-attending strip club crowd’s disturbing upward trend towards drug abuse.
Of course, because current laws make these social problems crimes, it is in the interest of justice system bureaucrats to “sting” those involved, rather than have their law-enforcement officers stand around in uniforms and make sure no one gets hurt at the party.
The net effect of this situation is that rather than the sleazy-but-safe red-light and head shop district of Amsterdam, New York and its environs have a sleazy-and-dangerous flavor everywhere you find big-people fun for sale.
While carrying out their work
in this nerve-wracking environment, five of the seven undercover officers tasked with getting drug-addicted and poverty-stricken hookers arrested and put in jail got jumpy and murdered an unarmed man and bady wounded some of his friends.
Calling this incident a law-enforment or racial problem is a bit off the mark. Law enforcement problems are what they have in Oaxaca and throughout Brazil (or in Atlantic City, where dead hookers can lie next to the road undiscovered for weeks). Racial problems have nothing to do with Michael Richards or the NYPD and everything to do with unfair distribution of Pell grants or indifference to Sudan.
The rub is that if those officers had been in uniform, the fight that sent the groom out to his car for the imaginary gun would likely not have escalated to that point.
Both Richards and those New York officers made terrible decisions in the heat of the moment, but maybe they couldn’t have done anything else. Phenomenology argues that one’s experience is the only reality, a stance used both to exempt one from personal responsibility and to put it squarely on one’s shoulders.
I will go ahead and have my cake and eat it too and say that I think both tacks are correct. I think crime of passion laws are on the books in some places for the simple reason that sometimes circumstances drive people crazy.
Consider the various massacres involving US troops in Iraq. There are two groups at fault, one of which is made up of the most powerful people on earth, attended to as though they were Formula One cars, and the other is the boots on the ground, typically filled with 18-year-old kids from poor towns thrust into a hell-on-earth situation that never should have existed in the first place.
I would more readily blame those in power, who are old enough to have seen Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now and who really ought to know better.
So Michael Richards and Mayor Bloomberg are making the rounds of ministers and offering their apologies, while little is done to correct the underlying causes of either incident.
It’s only been
three weeks since the Democrats regained some power, and it’s already starting to feel like the Clinton years.