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The Philosophy of Time Travel (only sort of OT) -- Rob, 15:39:39 03/20/02 Wed

A month or so back, I posted my list of the 10 Best Films of 2001. My #2 choice was the brilliantly twisted "Donnie Darko," an independant film that absolutely blew my mind. Incidentally, it was also a huge hit this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

I'm writing now to inform everybody here that yesterday, it came out for sale on DVD and for rental on VHS. This film was rarely seen outside of New York City and small art house theatres, because its national release was pulled after September 11th, due to a subplot involving a plane crash. That was unfortunate, because it is a superb film, with similar themes to "American Beauty," but far superior, in narrative structure, acting, directing, and overall execution.

I want everybody here to see this movie. It is perhaps the most fiercely original film I've ever seen. It is a black comedy/psychodrama/sci-fi/fantasy about a boy who may have advanced delusional schizophrenia...or maybe he really is being visited by a sadistic bunny from another dimension named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 22 days. And somehow this all revolves around an old lady named Grandmother Death, and the philosophy of time travel. This movie reaches weird heights of sci-fi brilliance that most movies strive to accomplish, but don't. Perhaps because it is a small-budget film, we can can overlook the special effects we're used to seeing in sci-fi (and there are a few, low-budget ones here), and focus on the ideas.

While this film is sci-fi, it is also a darkly satirical look at suburbia. It deals with censorship, small- mindedness, and examines the greying of the universe from the black and white extremes we're taught, as children, to see it in.

The film boasts a uniformly superb cast, including Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, and Noah Wyle. Despite their big names, their fame does not detract from the film, as it sometimes does with low-budget pictures, because all their performances are brilliantly understated and played against type. Particularly excellent is Barrymore, whose very small role as a progressive English teacher in a Catholic school, might be one of (if not her) best screen appearance to date. Incidentally, she also executive-produced the film with her production company, "Flower Films."

This is one mindbender of a movie. After finishing it, I sat in the theatre, completely dumbstruck, and spent the next two hours trying to piece together all the things the movie dealt with. I went to see the movie again the next day, and saw a completely different film! Each scene holds different significance after you know the outcome of the film.

My recommendation...Rent, or prefarably, buy the DVD tonight. Watch it once, to enjoy it and let the film wash over you. Watch it a second time, soon after, to try to figure out what you think the film means. And then watch it a third time, this time with the DVD commentary track, one of the best I've heard for a DVD. The director and author of the work explains what he was trying to do with the story, in-depth, and a lot more things come into focus. I would recommend doing the commentary last, so you can try to figure out as much as you can for yourself. I did that, and was surprised and delighted to find that in some cases, my thoughts and ideas were shared by the author, sometimes not, and in unexpected ways.

I rarely gush about a movie here, but I needed to gush about this one here. No one saw it in the movie theatre, besides me, it seems.

Don't let the same fate befall this film on video!

And to tie it into "Buffy," there is of course the possible schizophrenic delusions of "Normal Again," and the greying of the Buffyverse compared to this film, and philosophy!


[> well, hey, why aren't you helping with OnM's movie stuff? great reviews always welcome! - - Solitude1056, 15:49:15 03/20/02 Wed

[> Re: The Philosophy of Time Travel (only sort of OT) -- Jon, 16:04:40 03/20/02 Wed

Donnie Darko made it out to Portland, OR somehow and I saw it (before 9/11 - I remember thinking shortly after 9/11 "well, I spose they'll have to yank Donnie Darko now"). I loved it. On top of all the great things you point out about it, it also opens with a really great song by Echo & the Bunnymen - which totally took me back to when I was Donnie's age (he's poised to graduate from high school the year after I did in real life). Thanks for the heads up on the DVD release. It's true, I really should buy it.


[> Buffy vs. Frank. Now he'd make a cool Big Bad. -- mundusmundi, 18:19:42 03/20/02 Wed

[> [> Great idea! Actually, I think Buffy vs. that evil gym teacher from the movie would be cool, too! -- Rob, 18:52:07 03/20/02 Wed

[> Re: The Philosophy of Time Travel (only sort of OT) -- neaux, 07:22:03 03/21/02 Thu

I havent seen it yet!! I want to.. but actually the movie did come out to the theaters. It just didnt do well at the box office.

And if it hits a Carmike Theater like it did in North Carolina then I'd say its a pretty mainstream movie.

Great Review though!!

[> [> Re: The Philosophy of Time Travel (only sort of OT) -- Rob, 10:07:00 03/21/02 Thu

It did come out in some theatres, but not a full-scale national release, due to Sept. 11th. It played mostly in major cities, and then perhaps some scattered places around the country...but nothing on the scale of far inferior films, like "Pearl Harbor."


has anyone else noticed.... -- shyviolet, 22:15:30 03/20/02 Wed

....that there have several (at least 3 that I've counted) referneces to Henry V by Buffy and the scoobies of the past two seasons? In Weight of the World, Spike says, "Not exactly the Saint Crispin's Day Speech," when they are about to fight Glory, in All the Way (I think that's the one) Xander says to Buffy "once more unto the breech" a direct quote from the play and in reference to his engagement with Anya, and in Hell's Bells, Buffy says something to Xander about "the breech" in reference to facing his wedding and his realtives. anyone got any thoughts on this? am i just reading too much into this? do you think that Joss and the writers are alluding to something bigger? any comments would be greatly appreciated:)

[> Re: has anyone else noticed.... -- Arya_Stark, 01:05:59 03/21/02 Thu

I'm not up enough on my Henry V to have a theory about what is might mean, but I can add another reference to your list. In The Gift, Spike and Giles banter back and forth from the St. Crispin's Day speech.

"We few, we happy few"

"We band of buggers"

I always found it funny, that it was Spike paraphrasing Shakespeare with Giles.

Anybody with more Henry V knowledge have a theory?

[> [> Maybe -- Darby, 05:20:57 03/21/02 Thu

It's pretty well known that cast and crew get together at Joss' house on weekends for singing and Shakespeare readings (it's amazing how often that gets brought up in various interviews). That would certainly keep the themes and quotes near the front of a writer's reference bank.

[> [> Umm.... that's band of BuggerED... -- Caroline, 06:23:48 03/21/02 Thu

band of buggERS means something entirely different!!

[> [> [> Heroism -- Rahael, 07:05:31 03/21/02 Thu

The interesting thing about Spike and Giles subverting the rousing war cry speech of Henry V is because that play is a examination of what it means to be a hero. We have the contrast between the noble and kingly (or is he?) Henry, and his former companions, Falstaff, Bardolph etc. Falstaff and his followers fight with Henry, but they are shown as cowardly, running away from the fight. Henry, on the other hand is a brave military leader.

But within the play, there is a sharp ambiguity. Yes Henry is brave, but its the poor bloody infantry who get it in the neck. Perhaps the most sensible thing is to run away? The most poignant moment in the play is when 'the boy', a member of Falstaff's gang dies in battle. This prompts Henry's most ruthless action - he kills all his French prisoners out of anger. But isn't he the one asking these men to die for King and Country? for the empty idea of glory?

And at the back of the audience is the knowledge that the young Henry V (Prince Hal, in Henry the IV part I and II) was once a common robber, stealing from people with Falstaff. And in the earlier plays, his lack of nobility and heroism is contrasted with the romantic, hotheaded and brave Hotspur. Henry V shows Prince Hal all grown up. It is signified by his rejection of Falstaff ('I know thee not, old man'). His subjects are pleasantly surprised to find that the dissolute Hal is a good warleader, a good monarch.

I think that the Gift plays with the idea of what it is to be a hero, and Buffy is shown to be a different kind of leader than Henry. When Spike comments 'hardly the St Crispin's day speech, is it?' I think it is meant to be a compliment. Buffy is different from Henry. Rather than asking Dawn to die for her (as Henry obviously expects the innocent boy to), she dies for everyone else. Rather than glorifying death and bloodshed, the Gift talks about life, and points out a different model of self sacrifice - for humanity, rather than nationalism.

What bigger contrast can there be between 'Cry God for Harry, England and St George!' than 'Live for me'?

[> [> [> [> Re: Heroism -- Sophist, 08:29:09 03/21/02 Thu

I agree about differing notions of heroism, but with a slightly different take. Spike's reference to Henry V was ironic when he made it. Buffy had just said: "Remember, if Dawn dies, we all die." Quite the opposite of Henry. In the end, of course, Buffy sacrificed herself instead of her friends, the opposite of Henry in a very different way.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Heroism -- Rahael, 09:19:04 03/21/02 Thu

Heroism in Henry V is so complex, that I can't quite pin it down. Thanks for pointing out the precise context to which Spike makes that comment.

Buffy's speech is threatening, unhopeful, compared to Henry's triumphalism. I agree that Spike was pointing out the difference between Buffy and Henry; my point was that, for us, at one remove, the reference is to Buffy's credit. The notion of heroism which Henry potrays, (as opposed to the notions of heroisms portrayed in the play Henry V) appears outdated, crude by Buffy's stern resolve in the bleakest of situations. Death and battle is not an opportunity for self aggrandization here.

The scene I liked best was where Henry walks around the army camp, the night before the battle, talking to ordinary soldiers. He promise them that the King will remain with them til the end. That he was like them, but that the crown weighed heavily, was full of responsibility. This shows a different, more unsure side to Henry. Fits in with the Elizabethan idea of the King's two bodies - the public and the private. The mortal might die, but the institution never does.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Heroism -- Sophist, 09:30:54 03/21/02 Thu

I agree completely. I just saw the quote as irony in 2 different directions rather than one.

BTW, I love Branagh's movie version. It's my favorite. Yours too?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes! -- Rahael, 09:38:13 03/21/02 Thu

Much better than Laurence Olivier's.

Olivier's St Crispin's day speech was so affected, it made me want to laugh.

Brannagh's is more brutal, visceral. Brannagh is rather laughed at here in England. But there's no denying he is good at doing Shakespeare on film. I enjoyed Much Ado (shame about Keanu), Hamlet and Henry V.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Yes! -- Sophist, 09:59:10 03/21/02 Thu

I like them all, but I think he got Henry V just perfect. To me it was a revelation.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Heroism -- Eric, 15:04:03 03/21/02 Thu

I agree with much of what is posted. But I think Spike's real point is made from a commoner's or common soldier's perspective. Great events are now set in motion, but win or lose we're gonna get screwed.

[> [> [> [> Re: Agincourt, mostly OT -- Philistine, 15:35:37 03/21/02 Thu

In the play, Henry issues his notorious order in Act 4, Scene 6. He's just heard about the deaths of Suffolk and York, but that isn't what prompts the order; he doesn't appear to know about the attack on the baggage train yet. The exact passage is:

But, hark! what new alarum is this same?
The French have reinforced their scatter'd men:
Then every soldier kill his prisoners:
Give the word through.

This is just two scenes after we see the French commanders observe that there are still plenty of French troops in the field to overwhelm the English, if they could only be organized, and to set out to do just that or die gloriously trying. I don't think it was anger, but rather fear and expedience that motivated him in the play; just as it must have done historically.

I don't know how much everyone already knows about the subject, so if I'm going over well-trodden ground for anyone, please bear with me. Historically, the French divided their greatly numerically superior force into three formations, each of which was large enough that it should have been able to overwhelm the English army. But the English had lots of archers, and more importantly the ground favored them doubly: the narrow front allowed the English to concentrate their pikemen and prevented the French making full use of their numerical advantage. The first two waves, each larger than Henry's entire force, advanced in turn to meet the English line under a storm of arrows and were broken. The rear ranks of French troops stacked up uselessly, unable to engage, while the front ranks tried to fight but were packed together too closely to move; then the English archers downed their bows and slipped around to harry the French flanks. French troops began surrendering in droves.

So here we have the situation: Henry's men, already tired, hungry, and sick from the forced march through hostile territory even before the battle, have just beaten two attacks by larger forces. But now they're exhausted, low on arrows, and they have more prisoners than troops. Meanwhile, a third French force, also larger than Henry's, and fresh, is looking on and apparently waiting for its turn to move in. Could the English do it again, or would the third try be the charm for the French? That's when Henry was told that there had been an attack on the baggage train. All of a sudden, he had to worry about yet another French force, previously undetected, of unknown strength, and worst of all behind him. Actually, there wasn't any such force - it was most likely just a mob of disorganized peasants, too many for the small guard contingent at the baggage train but no threat to Henry's main force. Henry doesn't know that though, for him it's Nightmare Time. That's when he gave the infamous order: it removed the threat of surrendered French troops taking up arms again, so that he could deal with the perceived threats to his front and rear. It was callous, brutal, savage, and against all modern notions of the "rules of war," but understandable (not to say excusable) in context.

Closing on a less-OT note, the equivalent act for Buffy would have been pitching Dawn off the tower instead of sacrificing herself.

[> Re: has anyone else noticed.... -- Caroline, 06:58:14 03/21/02 Thu

Noticed it, but not sure what to make of it. Henry V is a wild young youth, hanging out with commoners etc when he is elevated to the English throne on his father's death. Because of his reputation, he has to prove himself to the people of England (ie, that he can be a worthy monarch), so he goes into battle, claiming Normandy and Anjou in France (once owned by the Kings of England). The heir to the French throne, the Dauphin, sends a rather insulting response to Henry's request, so off he goes to war. Henry is a complex character. A good soldier, he can rouse his men to great action through oratory, yet he has no compunction in executing his friends on what some would say was the flimsiest of evidence. He won the war against France and gained the lands he wanted as well as the hand of Katherine, the daughter of the king of France. He died young due to the physical exertions of war and never really got to enjoy the fruits of his battles.

Could this be paralleling Buffy? I don't know. There's obviously some parallels in terms of both Buffy and Henry's positions as warriors and heros. Henry did treat friends rather badly and killed them as Buffy tried to do in Normal Again, so perhaps that was some foreshadowing. Henry fought a war with the enemy and part of the spoils was a spouse the daughter and sister of his enemies - will that be the same for Buffy? Does Henry's short life foreshadow a short life for Buffy?

Thanks for raising this point - have to think about it some more.

[> I think Joss loves Shakespeare -- Sophist, 08:32:55 03/21/02 Thu

It's not just Henry V. There are Shakespeare references throughout the series. My personal favorite is from Doppelgangerland when the Master greets VampWillow and VampXander with "What news from the Rialto?" (Merchant of Venice). It's so subtle, I missed it on first viewing.

I'm hoping someone submits an award category for best Shakespeare reference.

[> [> Oops. The quote is from The Wish, not Doppelgangerland -- Sophist, 10:00:35 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> othello in FFL -- mech, 10:00:39 03/21/02 Thu

Othello ins Fool For Love,
when Drusilla tell Buffy that We (vampires), love well though not wisely. Also does anyone know what the charcters are reciting back in season one in the puppet show. I think the wisdom that come from the secondary characters, regardless of which side they are on, is very reminiscent of Shakespeare.

[> [> [> The Puppet Show was Oedipus -- Sophist, 10:02:28 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> [> that was Crush not FFL -- aurelia, 03:07:32 03/22/02 Fri

[> [> Re: I think Joss loves Shakespeare -- Andy, 11:35:42 03/22/02 Fri

Joss loves Shakespeare so much that he regularly invites the cast and writing staff over to his house in their free time to perform it. So I'm thinking it's no coincidence that Shakespeare gets into the show's dialogue so often.


[> Re: has anyone else noticed.... -- manwitch, 10:59:11 03/21/02 Thu

It is very difficult to use english and not make an allusion to Shakespeare.

The Henry V ones are pretty specific though.

Prince Harry has a station in life that he cannot escape. He slums with the low-lifes, people who enjoy life and participate in life in a way that people in Harry's station generally do not. But Harry is well aware that when he becomes Henry V everything changes. In the realization of that destiny and that calling he necessarily leaves his rebellious youth behind. But those relationships and experiences are not lost on him. "See how he comes o'er us with our younger days, not measuring what use we made of them," Henry says angrily of the Dauphin to the French messenger.

So Henry is a hero, whose place in life and society was preordained, but whose success in that destiny, in contrast to others before him who shared his calling, was predicated on the relationships of his youth with those who were not so called, but who tempered his authority with compassion and who offered him unswerving loyalty.

Which is kinda like Buffy.

The obvious thing about the St. Crispin's Day speech, is that they are going to lose. Henry, and the values of the time, saw honor in the fight, all the more honor because it was hopeless. The contrast with Buffy seems to me to be around the idea of honor. They aren't seeking glory in the way that Henry and Co. were. They are seeking Glory only because they need to save a life that is already in danger. Henry is fighting for France because he feels he was insulted. Dawn's life and all their lives are actually in danger. And Buffy not only doesn't inspire them all, she threatens to kill them herself if they go near Dawn. The effect is to heighten the hopelessness of what they are about to do, because they have not even honor to look forward to, only death.

[> [> Question to those better read than I: -- Darby, 11:12:53 03/21/02 Thu

manwitch's phrasing made me wonder -

is Glory actually an important word in the play? Could there be a reason it was used as the Hellgod's name?

[> [> [> Let's not forget... -- Isabel, 11:41:44 03/21/02 Thu

The scabby minions on the stairs of the tower egging on the fighters saying:

SM1: "This will be our day of Glory!"
SM2: "Good Pun!"
SM1: smiling "Thank you."

[> [> St. Crispin's Day, and a couple of other refs-- -- Dyna, 13:12:38 03/21/02 Thu

It's been too long since I read the play for me to add to the analyses that have been given of the meaning of Henry V's St. Crispin's Day speech in the context of the play overall, but I'm surprised no one has quoted the specific passage yet!

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition...

(The full text of the speech can be found at:

I must have been hanging out exclusively at Redemptionista sites when "The Gift" aired, because this passage is what's indelibly associated in my mind with the use of this quote in that episode. One way to look at it is as foreshadowing Spike's role in Dawn's life after Buffy dies, and/or his increased role in the Scoobie gang, and/or the bond that's developed between him and Buffy since her resurrection.

Other use of Shakespeare quotes I can recall offhand:

- Spike speaking of Buffy (in "School Hard"): "I'll chop her into messes!"

- Dru, in Crush: "We can love quite well...if not wisely." (ref. to Othello)

[> [> [> great post! -- Rahael, 13:18:59 03/21/02 Thu

should have looked that one up, really!

and another reference to blood!

[> [> [> Great point -- Sophist, 13:22:27 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> Something I've wondered about... -- Ixchel, 17:24:46 03/21/02 Thu

When Buffy says she'll kill anyone who comes near Dawn, who is she really speaking to? I find it difficult to believe that even to save the world Xander or Willow could kill Dawn. They might try to make themselves do it, but could they? Also, I don't see them going against Buffy's wishes in that way. One could argue that Anya might be able to do it (seeing it as necessary), but I don't believe she would go against Xander's wishes. Tara was crazy during the threat and I don't believe she could do it regardless. Clearly Buffy wasn't speaking to Spike as she had just appointed him Dawn's protector (he seemed very sincere about his "end of the world" promise). So the only person (IMHO) this threat is meant for is Giles. Could Giles have done it? I think so, though I'm sure it would have caused him great anguish, I think he would have forced himself to do it. Do I think Buffy would have killed him to stop him? No, I simply can't see that. Incapacitate him, yes. Kill him, no.


[> [> [> Re: Something I've wondered about... -- TRM, 18:29:59 03/21/02 Thu

I agree with your assessment that Giles would be the most likely, and I think it's fairly well evidenced.

BUFFY: Come on. Say it. We're bloody well talking about this. Tell me to kill my sister.
GILES: (whispers) She's not your sister.

After Buffy says "And I'll kill anyone who comes near Dawn," we are left with Spike and Giles, the figure who once was a killer and the character who now is. As evidenced later:

TARA: (points to Giles) You're a killer. (Giles and Spike look at her in surprise) This is all set down.

With the whole father-son motif between Giles and Spike, we might be looking at a reversal of roles here, or perhaps a suggestion that Giles (and his mysterious past) is really more like Spike than we have thought -- that Spike is walking down the same path as Giles.

Not only this, but we have Giles acting as the foil to Buffy with his treatment of Glory/Ben... I certainly think this was meant to be compared with Buffy and Dawn. Buffy spares Glory/Ben, Giles does not. Buffy would spare Dawn, Giles would not.

[> [> [> [> Thanks, TRM. -- Ixchel, 20:09:14 03/21/02 Thu

I just wondered if it is the general consensus that Buffy was speaking to Giles.

I have to admit, when I first saw TG I thought Tara meant Spike until I rewatched it. I think the details escaped me because I was so emotionally involved and needed further viewings to process everything.

I like your thoughts on Giles and Spike. It's funny, but I remember when I first saw Restless (the swing scene) and I thought, WHAT?

As to Buffy and Giles, I agree also. It is a fascinating comparison and opens all kinds of moral questions.


Attention: Clem-Lovers! -- Wisewoman, 23:19:36 03/20/02 Wed

Announcing the inauguration of a brand new website, Clem's Homestead, devoted to our hero Clem, the Loose-skinned Demon.

Please visit, then e-mail me with ideas for what you'd like to see included.


[> WW, you are so great. I love your love for Clem. (I got a big smile from that pic, btw.) -- yuri, 00:03:39 03/21/02 Thu

[> Re: Attention: Clem-Lovers! -- Sheri, 00:09:57 03/21/02 Thu

Yeah! Clem is just so lovable, isn't he? Let's see.... well, you need kittens of course (along with lots of "please don't eat the kitties" signs). Oh, and something for the ?/Clem shippers (oh the possibilities). Hmm... Clem look alike contests? How 'bout a poetry section for all our odes to Clem?


[> [> Great ideas, Sheri! Thanks! -- dubdub, 08:42:56 03/21/02 Thu

[> dang it... how come someone else always comes up with the good ideas ;[ -- Poutyt!Liq, 00:28:22 03/21/02 Thu

[> Love the sharing of Clem love -- aurelia, 00:57:26 03/21/02 Thu

[> I think Skip deserves equal attention -- Liq, 02:42:02 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> I agree! -- dubdub, 08:41:37 03/21/02 Thu

And if you weren't so dang busy, I'll bet you'd come up with a knock-out Skip-lovers site! From what we know so far, Skip's definitely more philosophically inclined than Clem...


[> [> [> Re: I agree! -- Rob, 10:05:27 03/21/02 Thu

I would disagree...I think Clem represents the quintessence of existentialism!

No matter what awkward situation he's been in, have you ever heard him complain? (Well, except for the kitten lackage at Buffy's party...And where was Miss Kitty Fantastico anyway? Did Tara come back between episodes and take her to live with her?)


[> Speaking of Clem-Lovers... -- Cactus Watcher, 06:31:44 03/21/02 Thu

Am I mistaken or didn't Xander's special daughter have floppy ears? And Clem sat on Xander's side at the wedding, too. What a rogue! Is that what Wesley meant by rogue demon hunter?

[> [> LOL! Hmmmm.... -- dubdub, 08:44:58 03/21/02 Thu

...perhaps a page devoted to Clem's Indiscretion?


[> [> Re: Speaking of Clem-Lovers... -- dream of the consortium, 11:45:32 03/21/02 Thu

In the "thinking too much about this" category....
I assumed Xander projected his fears about Anya's infidelity onto Clem because Clem is the antithesis of the future-father-Xander of the visions. Clem is officially a demon, and therefore should be monstrous (in Xander's mind), but he's kind, sweet, and gentle. Even his name means merciful. In contrast, futureXander is a man, but he is monstrous.

[> [> [> TTMQ = off the scale! -- dubdub, 12:13:02 03/21/02 Thu

...but I admit I've been thinking about this too. Perhaps the future-Xander demon picked up on the fact that Clem was the only Demon seated on Xander's side at the wedding, and extrapolated that he would therefore be the one that would hurt Xander the most by his illicit tryst with Anya?

Of course, I love your interpretation as well!


[> [> [> And may I quote you? -- dubdub, 12:29:29 03/21/02 Thu

In the page on Clem's philosophy of life?

[> [> [> [> I would be honored *blush* -- dream of the consortium, 12:53:36 03/21/02 Thu

[> A Clem website! Inspired! Can't wait to see what ya do with it! -- Rob--Fellow Clem-Lover, 06:37:53 03/21/02 Thu

[> Re: I somehow sense this good-natured fun is getting out of hand ... -- Dedalus, 08:14:29 03/21/02 Thu

[> Thank you all for responding ;o) -- dubdub, 08:48:01 03/21/02 Thu

Both here and by e-mail. I've got lots of great ideas now, and work on Clem's Homestead will proceed apace. Check in next week to see what's new.

[> Can you possibly find the shot -- Vickie, 09:59:02 03/21/02 Thu

From the poker game? The one with the ace up his, uh, sleeve?

[> [> I've been looking for that one... -- dubdub, 10:45:22 03/21/02 Thu luck so far, but I keep hoping!


[> Attention: Rufus! (Something I think you'll like) -- dubdub, 12:27:11 03/21/02 Thu

I've added a page to Clem's Homestead that I think will appeal to you and all our other cat- worshipping friends,


[> [> Re: Attention: Rufus! (Something I think you'll like) -- Rufus, 15:23:05 03/21/02 Thu

Thank you, this kitty's heart is beating at a more relaxed if we could get my friend who wrote "More fun than a Crypt full of Kittens" to write a Clem centric piece to compliment your page....:)

[> [> [> Re: Attention: Rufus! (Something I think you'll like) -- dubdub, 17:53:36 03/21/02 Thu

That would be purrfect, Ruf!


Buffy Analysis Books Reviewed (Link) -- Darby, 09:29:15 03/21/02 Thu

One of two "scholarly" books on the show has been discussed here (Reading the Vampire Slayer), but I had not heard of the other, more favorably-reviewed one (Fighting the Forces: What,s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). It does sound more interesting.

Go here to The Observer

[> Thanks Darby! -- Rahael, 09:59:46 03/21/02 Thu

Nice review. Ties into the over analysis thread below!

I have heard Fighting the Forces very favourably reviewed on a number of occasions (including my daily broadsheet newspaper,not just Buffy sites).

[> Re: Buffy Analysis Books Reviewed (Link) -- Rob, 10:02:19 03/21/02 Thu

I haven't read "Fighting the Forces" yet, but I do have to say that I strongly disagree with the sentiments that "Reading the Vampire Slayer" isn't as good. Having been put out by the "Slayage" On-line Journal, which is notorious for its snobbery, I don't doubt that "Fighting the Forces" will be of high quality, but I also do not doubt that it will probably be unmercilessly elitist. For what it's worth, I found "Reading the Vampire Slayer" to be an excellent anthology. Yes, some articles are better than others. I'd lump ones like the indtroduction and "What You Are, What's To Come" in the better category, and others like, "Just A Girl," in the weaker one. "Just A Girl," for instance, is an examination of the show through a very narrow feminist lens, so narrow as to be anti-male, and I don't see the show to have an anti-masculine bent at all. Perhaps anti-patriarchy, i.e. Hank Summers, "Family," but not anti-male.

But anyway, I found this review itself to be rather lacking. The author basically talked about herself, and how she wasn't ever completely obsessed with "Buffy." "But if you are," she seems to say, "you should check these out." We're given some cusory examples from each book, but this review lacks the depth that I would want, especially when talking about books whose very purpose are to delve deep into this television show.

For a review such as this, I would want a fan of "Buffy" to review it, to explain for fans and non-fans alike how they racked up against each other. Because the nature of this review was comparing two books on the same subject, I would want an "expert" on the show to give his or her opinion. (Someone like me for example loI...or any of the brilliant minds that come to this board). I think the most insightful opinion of these two books should be done by not this reviewer, but her friends, whom she claims are obsessed with the show. If I were her, I wouldn't recommend the book to them in my review, but recommend that they be the ones to do the review!


[> [> To Rob (OT) -- pagangodess, 10:30:55 03/21/02 Thu

There is an article on the show 'Six Feet Under' in the Entertainment Weekly magazine this week. It's called 'The Joy of Six'. It's not a great article, but I just thought you may want to know.


The Language of BtVS -- Rob, 10:27:19 03/21/02 Thu

The link below about the recent 2 "Buffy" anthologies reminded me to post something I've wanted to for a while. It's a short paragraph from "Reading the Vampire Slayer" that, I think, brilliantly explains the language that the Scoobies speak:

"...Writers of any self-respecting teen show or movie routinely lace their lines with the latest slang, possibly even coining a few new phrases or words in the process so long as it sounds like the way teens speak. Buffy's writers have never felt this obligation. Their dialogue is only loosely based on the reality of how anyone of any age communicates. 'Clever wordplay' doesn't begin to describe the phraseology on a show that makes every episode a love-in with the English language...

"Like reverse engineers hell-bent on uncovering the heart of a machine, the writers routinely dismantle parts of speech and jury-rig them back together however they please. In the free-for-all grammar-implosion of a typical episode, adjectives make themselves verbs (Buffy: 'Gee, can you vague that up for me?'), verbs force themselves on nouns (Giles: 'This leaves me flummoxed.' Buffy: 'What's the flum?'), nouns cling desperately to their turf (Buffy: 'I'm sorry, I've been crankiness all day.'), participles mutate with prepositions (Xander: 'They were in the ugly way of looking.') which pop culture (Buffy: 'I'm the one getting Single White Femaled here') and consumer culture (Willow: 'He's a super-maxi jerk for doing it right before the prom') fill in the remaining cracks. Familiar phrases and expressions don't fare much better, either willfully mangling (Cordelia: 'Well, you've really mastered the art of positive giving up.'), or openly scrutinizing themselves (Giles: 'Buffy, can I have a word?' Buffy: 'You can have a whole sentence even.'). To further confuse matters, Buffy and pals speak to each other in a slangy shorthand, tossing unnecessary words overboard until their utterances are stripped down to the limits of sense and reason: Xander: 'We were expecting a boy, and here you are in a girl way.'


"'Buffy: So, we're cool?

"Willow: Way! That's why, with the party, 'cause we're all glad you're back.'


"'Buffy: Raise your hand if 'ew!''

"This isn't the blather of kids who can't speak well; it's an honest reflection of the way our increasingly odd and perplexing world eludes easy expression. By pushing language to do what it's not supposed to, these lines capture the sensations and images of modern life that Webster's hasn't caught up with yet."

Any comments?


Wilson, Steve. "Laugh, Spawn of Hell, Laugh!" Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to 'Buffy' and 'Angel'. Ed. Roz Kaveney. Tauris Parke: London, 2001.


[> Oddly enough,this brings up a question... -- AurraSing, 10:50:26 03/21/02 Thu

I was watching "Josie and the Pussycats" this morning with the kids (it's spring break here,it's minus 20 degrees out with three feet of snow on the ground and let's just say my pickiness factor has left the building!) and the phrase "Oh,my bad" came up.
Now I've heard this a lot on "Buffy" and there was one other Buffy reference in the movie (regarding some clothing) but does anyone know if this phrase orginated on "Buffy" or was it slanging around before that?

I love going back to my old EW mag that profiled the first three seasons of "Buffy"..they have two full pages of 'Buffy talk' that never fails to crack me up.
I certainly agree with the last paragraph of your article-these kids are simply using a form of verbal shorthand.

[> [> The Phrase Predates Buffy. My friends and I have been saying that since I was, like, ten -- AngelVSAngelus, 11:03:22 03/21/02 Thu

Which, granted, wasn't THAT long ago. Eight years. :)

[> [> [> My dad claims he came up with "My bad." -- Apophis, 17:17:24 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> language -- manwitch, 11:18:03 03/21/02 Thu

"my bad" is urban slang, I think, that has been around for a while. I know its existed in team sports for quite a while.

I think its more than verbal shorthand. Its a delisciously self-conscious challenge to conventional rules of expression, which is really a reflection of what Buffy is on every level. In the renaissance, the ability to create words and phrases and use language in new ways was a highly prized skill. Now we tend to value conformity, and people are quick to correct, to make sure the rules are being followed, without bothering to consider that expressive communication is the issue rather than pretending we're all trying to learn latin. Rules should always be subordinate to expression where language is concerned.

Buffy is a beautiful reminder that our language, like our lives hopefully, is still thriving and alive.

Postmodernism argues that pretty much everything that exists in any meaningful way is linguistically based. I recognize that is a tautology, but the argument they make, if I may vulgarize it a little bit here, is that a great way to broaden our experience is to change the way we talk.

Yet another one of the things I just love about this show.

[> [> [> Sports it is -- Sophist, 12:27:37 03/21/02 Thu

The phrase "my bad" has been used in sports for about 15 years (and probably before). Don't know the derivation beyond that.

Great points about language in general, manwitch.

[> [> [> [> Re: Sports it is -- Cleanthes, 20:56:13 03/21/02 Thu

Yep, it sure is a sports expression.

Here's what the word detective has to say about "my bad":

The phrase has, apparently, been around since the 1960's, although I hadn't heard it used before about 1990.

[> Re: The Language of BtVS -- dream of the consortium, 11:11:20 03/21/02 Thu

I love this aspect of Buffy - the play with words, the ability to turn syntax upside down without ever sacrificing meaning. You always know what the characters are saying, even if they are saying things in ways that are unexpected. I have had friends who do talk like this (I confess, I have the tendency myself, though not so brilliantly, I'm afraid). Generally, they are writers, poets and other people in love with words and word play. Crossword-solving, Lewis Carroll readers all. I think it was a deliberate and very intelligent decision on the part of the writers to use this type of language. The characters seem young and cool, but they aren't tied to the slang of a particular moment. This will no doubt be good for the aging of the show.
My favorite Buffy-ism? Buffy's response to someone Willow?) saying that "everyone" was going to be at the Bronze that night. "Sure. Everyone who is not currently Buffy."

[> [> Re: The Language of BtVS -- clg0107, 12:19:12 03/21/02 Thu

I find that I am sometimes infected with occasion saw me asking, at work, "what's up with the rescheduli-ness" of a meeting.

I knew right away what I'd done...

It's almost too bad there wasn't anyone around to recognize my spontanious internalization of Buf- speak, especially since I wasn't just parroting back something said on the show -- like the time I used "rolling in puppies", unintentionally, of course.


[> [> Re: The Language of BtVS -- Caroline, 12:27:06 03/21/02 Thu

I'm always trying to sneak Buffy into work. I just finished helping a colleague with a presentation and my suggestion for the last slide (which was incorporated) was "Where do we go from here?". I felt a strong urge to footnote it. But often the satisfaction from this endeavour must never be revealed, 'cos the people I work with scoff at any mention of Buffy.

BTW, a Californian friend assures me that the language on Buffy is based on the idiom and speech patterns of teenagers there. Can anyone verify? I've seen other movies about teens in California (Clueless etc) where this appears to be the case.

[> [> [> Re: The Language of BtVS -- Ian, 12:47:51 03/21/02 Thu

Agreement with everyone. One aspect of Buffy-speak that escapes those not in the know is just how incredibly clever their mangling is.

Buffy doesn't mis-speak, or at least, not very often. Nor do they really use slang, which in my opinion is far closer to mis-using English, but in a standardized and monolithic kind of way.

What the writers have accomplished actually requires a broad and deep understanding of English construction and a continually fresh take on it. It's amazing how they have managed to evolve that language without resorting to parroting or mimicing themselves. I wonder if the writers ever sit around diagramming sentences thinking of ways to say something in a new way. At any rate, the language has to be one of Buffy's most outstanding accomplishments.

[> [> [> [> Re: The Language of BtVS -- Rattletrap, 14:05:32 03/21/02 Thu

"Buffy doesn't mis-speak, or at least, not very often. Nor do they really use slang, which in my opinion is far closer to mis-using English, but in a standardized and monolithic kind of way."

Great point. The mangling (a word I'm using affectionately) of English grammar that goes on every week on Buffy is much more akin to Shakespeare's use of the language--the work of someone who understands and even loves the rules, but has risen above them--than it is to the sloppy communication and rampant word misuse that characterizes most common slang.

I love the phrase "free-for-all grammar-implosion" that the author uses to describe Buffy episodes, now I have to figure out a way to work it into casual conversation . . .

[> [> [> [> [> Re: The Language of BtVS -- AgnosticSorcerer, 16:19:18 03/21/02 Thu

As a teenager (16) I can assure you that most teenagers either speak ebonics or standard English. No teenager I know literally talks like teenagers on _Clueless_ and not many speak anything remotely to the way _Buffy_ does, but there are a few of us who watch the show who unconsciously imitate it.

I've once stated, when speaking of a rather irrate classmate, "... and y'know he was all with the grr." I also recall another incident in English class where we were speaking of some rather unpleasant social stereotypes of teenagers and I stated, "And sometimes it just gets so annoying that you just want to nyuhhhhhh" and upon the last 'word' I made a strangling motion with my hands.

Do not be fooled as I do not often speak in the same manner as I type and I usually type much better than this, but for some reason my sentence syntax and structure on this site is different than usual.

Emulating the speech patterns on Buffy is not something I do consciously, but rather something I pick up. "Let's get with the fun and the woo-hoo!"

My favorite Buffidiom is stated by Willow: "You know me... I'm all 'go school, it's birthday!'"

[> [> [> Re: The Language of BtVS -- Darby, 12:51:37 03/21/02 Thu

In an article from around the beginning of the series, I remember Joss saying that they meant to do some research and try to make the language "authentic," but the time restraints of TV made that so difficult that they decided to make up their own idioms (idia?).

And at this time, with Buffyspeak spread far and wide (listen to any "clever" TV show for it), if highschoolers are using it, it's probably filtered the other way.

[> [> [> [> Re: The Language of BtVS -- TRM, 13:30:24 03/21/02 Thu

I think that ultimately is Joss's advantage -- actually, from the Season One DVD i believe the paraphrase wasn't related to time constraints as to the difficulty of actually coming up with teenage slang. The problem I think many can come up with is that an over conscious effort in doing so means that you're bound to fail. And I actually don't find Buffy innovative in this region as per being adept at it. Consider Reality Bites -- the title itself being a play on the word bite/byte (in the "this bites" = "this sucks" category, alternatively, "this bites" = "this stings, and the sound byte definition of byte), or my favorite line from the movie: "Welcome to the maxi-pad."

I do bring in this movie largely because it pre-dates Buffy and it is on the whole seen as a fairly representative and realistic movie of youth at the time (particularly among the Gen-Xers of the time). Let's pull more current (teeny bopper) language, for example, Destiny's Child's song, "Independant Women" has the phrase: "All you momma's who profit dollas."

More interesting, are actually some fairly standard terminology. I've seen an extended article on the value of using the word "like." That it implies meaning as opposed to a strict repetition. So a person saying, "And Mary was like, 'Who the hell are you?'" doesn't necessarily convey what Mary said but what Mary meant. It went on with other uses of the word like as well, which I won't go into.

Valley slang, I've always found to be very subtle, particularly "whatever" and "as if." The word whatever is simply boiling down a phrase like: "Whatever you say" but becomes much more to the point. "As if," of course, is my favorite, because it embodies such a disused tense in English, the subjunctive. "As if", like whatever, is a truncation of a phrase where the rest is assumed to be self- explanatory, generally of the case: "As if that were true."

The phrase "True dat" aka "True that" aka "That is true" is once again an interesting phrase in my opinion, because here the meaning of the phrase is much better emphasized. It's the affirmation that is important here, not the object. Perhaps we can do some word play here with the cases (which is more easily done in English than in many romance languages). "True that is" as one might assume Shakespeare would put it, then truncate the verb is, and then devolving the word "that" so that again, "true" is emphasized. Indeed, the origins of this phrase might not be so far fetched. Think of someone who's intent was to say "That is true" meaning to give affirmation. Couldn't the evolution of the phrase have come with someone saying: "True", self correcting himself adding "that" to make the sentence complete, but meandering off the word "is" because many, when making self- corrections, usually do trail off? Indeed, much of what's been noted in Buffy is largely a question of thoughts forming faster than you can convey them in sentences: "Way! That's why, with the party, 'cause we're all glad you're back." Affirmation, evidence, confirmation. Or more verbosely, Willow's priorities were to (1) agree with her, (2) prove to her that you agree with her, and (3) show that the proof and the agreement are in accord (perhaps recognizing herself the disjointed nature of her sentence).

Returning to the beginning... Slang and interesting word order seem to me to arise naturally. I actually found Clueless to be fairly inaccurate largely because the language seems forcibly contrived and condensed. Buffy tends to have a much truer ring, because this wasn't the center of attention. When it did become a conscious effort (see Welcome to the Hellmouth, locker scene -- incidentally, this is where I think Joss commented on his attempt to use teenage slang), it felt very contrived.

peace out, y'feel?

[> [> [> Fer sure, fer sure -- Eric, 14:55:11 03/21/02 Thu

Yes Southern California girls did tend to talk Buffy. Part of Buffy's speech patterns are also modelled off of "Valley Girls" - girls that grew up in the San Fernando Valley. Moon Unit Zappa sang a song mocking such lingo in the 80's from which the term "gag me with a spoon" comes from. But the lingo may date even farther back. Robert Heinlein wrote a sci fi book about America occupied by the Red Chinese. In it American resistance in California used teen age girls to send radio messages because the syntax confused Chinese intel. He wrote this in the 50's (not one of his better books BTW). It was a character trait Joss uses to good effect to show part of the silly superficial nature of pre Chosen Buffy and her LA click. Of course times change. I haven't listened to a California teen in over 4 years, so hip hop influences and even BtVS itself may influence how they talk now.

[> [> [> [> Re: Fer sure, fer sure (OT) -- Robert, 22:52:29 03/21/02 Thu

>> " Robert Heinlein wrote a sci fi book about America occupied by the Red Chinese. In it American resistance in California used teen age girls to send radio messages because the syntax confused Chinese intel. He wrote this in the 50's (not one of his better books BTW)."

Wasn't this book was entitled "Fifth Column"? I think America was occupied by Japanese rather than Chinese. This was definitely one of Heinlein's more rabid novels. If I recall, the central science fiction theme was a ray gun which was racially selective.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Fer sure, fer sure (OT) -- Eric, 05:44:32 03/22/02 Fri

You're probably right about it being the Japanese. Heinlein wrote many great works of sci fi. This was not one of them. It was filled with a lot of disturbing racism. I read it in the 80's and had to keep reminding myself he was writing as a creature of his times - America in the 1950's.

[> [> [> Re: The Language of BtVS -- MayaPapaya9, 16:51:47 03/21/02 Thu

The one thing I've noticed that only Californians say is "hella". We say that all the time. "It's hella hot today" and "He hella likes you." The slang in Buffy, and the way they talk in general, is not really "Californian," at least I don't think so and I'm in high school now. It's something the writers just made up. Of course, I do sort of talk like that cause I watch the show so much but beyond that...I think it's pretty original.

[> It's better... -- Lilac, 06:49:28 03/22/02 Fri

that ME has come up with a pattern of speech that is unique to the Buffy world, rather than trying to use current slang. Besides being endlessly entertaining, it keeps the characters standing outside of the real world's time and customs. Enough current usage is blended in to make the characters believable, and enough unique material is there to ensure that they have their own reality. I think that this is one of many reasons that the show holds up to many watchings. If the writers tried to stay with the way actual teenagers/20 somethings talk, it would A. be boring and B. become dated very quickly. There is nothing worse than trying to watch a show that depends very heavily on current jargon five years after the day, when what was current then just seems stupid.

[> [> Re: It's better... -- Ophelia, 13:58:23 03/22/02 Fri

Delurking here just a moment to add a comment or two. The S3 DVD's actually have an 'Extra' section on BuffySpeak. Several of the writers are interviewed on the process of creating the language of Buffy. Two things of note that I found interesting:

1. Jane Espenson (as do the other writers) maintains that BuffySpeak is actually JossSpeak. Joss actually talks like that, and the writers have slowly picked up on it.

2. Fury (I believe) commented on how he ends up structuring the language. He writes the script "straight" to get across on paper what he means, then he polishes it up. He'll take a word here or there, twist it, or move it within the sentence structure to make it "fresher".

Thanks for this interesting thread, BTW. I pop over here occassionally to see what's going on. This board always has such intelligent discussions!



Buffy's selflessness -- Curby, 12:53:17 03/21/02 Thu

I've been thinking, and if you have sky or are in America then u will probably groan, but I've been thinking deeply about Buffy's sacrifice in The Gift. If you think, Buffy realises that Dawn has only been "alive" for a few months as a person, and so Buffy thinks that even though Dawn is simply a collection of memories, she now (in the present) has not had time to experience everything, true love (Angel), pure pain (Sacrificing Angel), pure anger (The General in Spiral) amongst others and she figures "Hey, I've felt just about everything, she hasn't, lets give her a chance to at least feel some of the pure emotions" and so lets Dawn experience at least one (pure pain- losing Buffy) and I think that's the nicest thing she could've done- does anyone agree?

[> Re: Buffy's selflessness -- JeniLynn, 13:05:53 03/21/02 Thu

I totally agree. What Buffy did was for Dawn and only for Dawn, at that moment she stopped being the slayer and was only Dawn's Sister. I would sacrifice myself for my sister because she has yet to experience all that I have.

[> [> Re: Buffy's selflessness & counterpoint -- TRM, 13:40:09 03/21/02 Thu

On the other hand, isn't Buffy being slightly presumptuous? There were two alternatives: Buffy jumps or Dawn jumps. Indeed, Dawn was willing to jump, and Buffy taking her place meant that Buffy would be the one making the "sacrifice." But, does Buffy always have to be the one saving the world? This may tie in with the discussion about suicide below. Buffy says that the hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it -- so she chooses to die and forces Dawn to live in the world. In some sense, she transfers "the weight of the world" onto Dawn's shoulders. She is no longer responsible (because she's dead).

I'm not disavowing Buffy's love for her sister, and I largely agree with JeniLynn that the last scene with Buffy and her sister became a scene between sisters -- not between the protector and the protected. Letting Dawn feel one pure pain... I'm a little questioning. Even more so, won't she be giving Dawn some sort of inferiority complex? Both Dawn and Buffy could have saved the world, but Buffy took it as a matter of fact that she would. Imagine a non-resurrected Buffy and Dawn a few years down the line, thinking back about how if she had only had the mettle, she could have forced Buffy to stay alive, she could have sacrificed herself, saved the world and her sister and the Slayer.

[> [> [> Buffy had a duty to save the world. Dawn didn't -- Sophist, 13:44:52 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> [> [> Does she and does that give her the prerogative? -- TRM, 13:56:22 03/21/02 Thu

I'm sure this has been dealt with on this board, so I'll try to be brief.

Where does Buffy's duty to save the world come from and does she have a choice? (Welcome to the Hell Mouth, Prophecy Girl...) She seems to always revert to world-saver, but that's a correlation- causality problem. Indeed, Buffy wouldn't have been simply sacrificing her friends to protect Dawn (refer to Shakespeare discussion below) but the world to protect Dawn if she had, under the original situation, not allowed Dawn to die.

If she has a duty through some fatalistic argument, is she absolved from it? She thought of abandoning it (I think) with Kendra, Faith is there. But she still is a Slayer if not the Slayer...

And even if she does have this duty, does that mean she must be the one to do so? If I'm a public defender, and my client is clearly innocent and he wishes to defend himself and clearly is capable, should I insist on telling him that he shouldn't defend himself? Buffy defends the world, but Dawn clearly can and is capable of saving the world, should Buffy insist that she doesn't?

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Does she and does that give her the prerogative? -- Robert, 14:50:40 03/21/02 Thu

>> "Buffy defends the world, but Dawn clearly can and is capable of saving the world, should Buffy insist that she doesn't?"

How should Dawn's capability of saving the world affect Buffy's desire to save Dawn. Let us not forget Buffy's stated desire that she would sooner allow the world to end than allow Dawn to be sacrified. Buffy's decision was not to save the world; it was to save Dawn. The fact the Dawn could save the world was not relevant to her thinking.

[> [> [> [> [> [> The Strong and the Weak -- Ian, 18:31:07 03/21/02 Thu

I think the argument over whether or not Buffy had the perogative to decide for Dawn rests on a big assumption--namely, that they were equals. From my point of view, they were not equals then and are not equals now. A child can question their parent/protector, but in a healthy relationship the decision rests soley with the guardian, who has a far better perspective of what is in the child's best interest.

Slayer or no, Buffy was Dawn's guardian with the death of their mother. Buffy was strong where Dawn was weak. It is the duty of all people of conscience to protect or aid those unable to help themselves. I agree that Buffy was not really acting as the Slayer on the tower, but as Dawn's sister and protector. Whether or not Buffy's sacrifice was truly necessary may be debated, but I fail to see how the morality of Buffy's decision to give her own life in place of her sisters can be seriously questioned.

Buffy's superpowers may be her tool, but her conscience and her compassion are her weapons. Far from abadoning her post, Buffy was fulfilling her duty as the person responsible for Dawn's best interest. I think her speech to Dawn about "living in the world" was not an explanation or justification of her decision, but rather an admonishment to Dawn to be stronger than her problems.

[> [> [> [> [> "Sacred duty, yada yada." -- Sophist, 15:16:57 03/21/02 Thu

Buffy clearly believes she has that duty (I believe the quote is from Something Blue). Her conflict between that perceived duty and her desire to be "normal" has been the subject of a great deal of discussion both here and on the show itself.

Can she lay that duty down? She doesn't think so. Neither do I -- that's what makes it a duty. As long as she has slayer power, so long the duty lasts.

I suppose you could argue that she could let others save themselves. People could defend their own damn selves from vampires. But then why was she chosen? And what would a duty be if we didn't have to fulfill it?

BTW, I think Robert is right about her motivations on the tower. In that case, my original point, and our discussion here, may be moot.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Does she and does that give her the prerogative? -- Rufus, 02:57:09 03/22/02 Fri

And even if she does have this duty, does that mean she must be the one to do so? If I'm a public defender, and my client is clearly innocent and he wishes to defend himself and clearly is capable, should I insist on telling him that he shouldn't defend himself? Buffy defends the world, but Dawn clearly can and is capable of saving the world, should Buffy insist that she doesn't?

Buffy's choice in The Gift had less to do with duty and more to do with love, not just for her sister but for the world. Buffy chose to sacrifice herself because she was full of love, not forced to out of duty. She saw life and living, though a hard thing to do, valuable and precious enough to want Dawn to continue doing just that, live. Love makes you do the wacky....and sometimes it makes you put others before yourself....for Buffy it was The Gift she felt only she could give.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Buffy's Gift -- Rahael, 10:01:32 03/22/02 Fri

Agreeing with Rufus here absolutely.

The Gift is about Buffy and her personal, emotional and moral journey. It is not about Dawn. It ties into Prophecy Girl, where Buffy reacts with a poignant anger and disbelief that she is asked to die. By the time of the Gift, she offers the world this Gift with calm and serenity.

And as Rufus says, love is what makes the difference. Love led her to her Gift. Dawn offers to die because she feels she must. She already feels that it is her fault. If she had sacrificed herself, it wouldn't have had the same heroic qualities as Buffy's. It would have been tarnished by ideas of duty, and guilt. And everyone could have said, "well, she wasn't real, anyway". TRM's point that ordinary people could be heros to is a great one. But Dawn isn't quite ordinary. In this instance, the idea of her importance, the sanctity of her life, her realness was more crucial.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Well said. -- Ian, 11:24:24 03/22/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> No obligations -- Malandanza, 17:04:43 03/22/02 Fri

"Where does Buffy's duty to save the world come from and does she have a choice?

I don't think that Buffy has a duty to save the world -- other than the enlightened self-interest of saving herself in the process. There is conflicting information about the origin of the slayer -- I haven't read the Fray comics, but from what I've gathered by reading the comments of those who have, the Watchers claim to have created the slayer to combat vampires. My feeling is that this claim is mere WC propaganda. We have conflicting information from the series:

1. As long as there have been vampires, there has been a slayer
2. The First Slayer did not have a watcher (according to Giles, in Restless).

If the watchers predate the slayer, and created the slayer as a reaction to the vampires, then these two statements must be false.

My feeling is that the slayer was part of the price of creating vampires -- just as a demon was created when Willow and the Scoobies brought Buffy back, so might the First Slayer have been created when the demons created the first vampires. Furthermore, I don't believe that the First Slayer hunted vampires exclusively (she slept on a "Bed of Bones," after all -- only very old vampires have bones and in the time of the First Slayer, all vampires were young). Perhaps demon slayer is closer to what the First Slayer was (and with the vanishing of most of the demons, vampires, with their demons inside, became the most common prey), or even just a random force of destruction, killing indiscriminately.

But I prefer the former theory -- that slayers kill demons. It fits with the rules of magic -- the demons create a weapon to kill the humans but get a human that kills demons in the process. Magic is all about balance and poetic justice. Plus, early in the series (and in the movie) the slayer was able to sense "evil" -- either becoming physically ill in its presence or recognizing its presence with what Buffy referred to as her "Spidey Sense". So my feeling is that far from being a force of Truth, Justice and the American Way sent by TBTB to protect the world, the Slayer is a destructive entity, very much like the vampires she fights (Buffy struggles against her violent side just as Angel struggles with Angelus), drawn towards the very darkness that spawned her, just as Buffy's personal demon was drawn to the people who created it.

And somewhere along the line, a group of well-meaning bureaucrats stepped in and subverted the slayer.

[> [> [> Re: inferiority complex? -- Robert, 14:44:08 03/21/02 Thu

>> " Even more so, won't she be giving Dawn some sort of inferiority complex?"

Please tell me you were joking. If I had the choice of causing my sister to die or causing her to have an inferiority complex, I would not ruminate long on that one.

[> [> [> [> Oi, backed into the corner of playing devil's disciple again... -- TRM, 19:42:40 03/21/02 Thu

Please tell me you were joking.

Ouch, this is getting a little painful, but I will persist. However, as a preamble, I would advise that I personally might not fully endorse the following views myself, but what often seems to happen is that when one raises a contrarian view, one is often forced to continue playing that role and even to greater vigor than one actually holds them.

With that stated, my purpose was not directly to bemoan Buffy of some hero complex of Buffy's or that she was wrong in doing what she did. In fact, I think Buffy's actions were noble, courageous, motivated by love, and a true sacrifice. Moving along...

I think the argument over whether or not Buffy had the perogative to decide for Dawn rests on a big assumption--namely, that they were equals.

Thank you Ian. In fact, that is just the point that I wanted to bring up to consideration, and while I agree that they are not entirely equals, I would argue that they are much closer in this instance than one would suppose.

My principal argument is that Dawn is being swept to the sidelines. I can agree with Sophist's argument if you take Buffy's duty as protector of the world as being true (I will bring up one more point about this, however, and that is Buffy is a vampire slayer, though Giles's prologue does tend to give her job description a wider area of interest). However, if the argument is that Buffy's sacrifice is out of sisterly love, doesn't that argument stand true for Dawn?

Why must Dawn be cast in a secondary role? Who is to say that Dawn isn't, shouldn't be the hero? One argument, certainly is that Dawn is too young, in Buffy's care. But Buffy was called to be a Slayer at about Dawn's age. Perhaps that was unjust and Buffy is protecting Dawn from the same injustice that she faced...

As long as she has slayer power, so long the duty lasts.

To what degree is Buffy playing the role of the Slayer here and to more of a point, to what degree is her slayer power necessary? The large argument here is that the sacrifice needed in this instance is the sacrifice of the Slayer. But both Dawn and Buffy have the power to close the portal. They both face the same choice: Should I sacrifice myself to save the world and my sister?

Buffy's superpowers may be her tool, but her conscience and her compassion are her weapons.

I bring back Ian's quote here not to refute it but to agree with it. Yes, her conscience and her compassion are her weapons. But, Dawn has a conscience and is compassionate. She was willing to sacrifice herself to save the world as well? Is her sacrifice no less worthy? My point once again, don't forget Dawn.

I suppose you could argue that she could let others save themselves.

That's hardly been my argument. It's not who should be protected but who should protect, and in fact less so that. It's who should make the decision on who should protect. In this respect, Ian responds to my query directly:

in a healthy relationship the decision rests soley with the guardian, who has a far better perspective of what is in the child's best interest.

Let me roll into this the other point that I made previously, that of the inferiority complex.

If I had the choice of causing my sister to die or causing her to have an inferiority complex, I would not ruminate long on that one.

In fact, I will propose that these two points are both slightly off and I will try to revise them, and see if you agree. The manner in which Buffy sacrificed herself wasn't ideal because she lacked the time. This is why Buffy was justified in dying the way she did, i.e., this is why she was justified in making the decision on her own and potentially giving Dawn an inferiority complex (I take it that Robert doesn't disagree that this might happen, but was trying to emphasize the degree to which it should be considered). This is why Buffy sacrificed herself without the consent of Dawn. Still, it's worth noting that Dawn's arguments weren't responded to:

A child can question their parent/protector

The use of a child questioning their parent/protector is to receive feedback. It is meant to be constructive. Dawn should be able to understand the decisions that their parent/protector are taken if it goes against their wishes. Buffy's statement to the fact was this:

BUFFY: But this is the work that I have to do.

Of course, from Dawn's perspective, this is hardly a convincing argument. Its the conclusion of an argument that Dawn wasn't participating in, or to quote Robert:

How should Dawn's capability of saving the world affect Buffy's desire to save Dawn.

The fact the Dawn could save the world was not relevant to her thinking.

Turning the question around, of course: How should Buffy's capability of saving the world affect Dawn's desire to save Buffy? And don't you think it is relevant to Dawn -- if we are looking at her character -- that her ability to save the world existed, was not used?

Perhaps I haven't addressed the point of bringing up the inferiority complex too well. Notably, my mention of it wasn't "inferiority complex" vs. "dead sister." I had wanted to bring up that sacrificing herself has repercussions, and to take her sacrifice as being simplistically an out and out good thing is in poor judgement. This was in some sense a reference to the very initial comment of Curby:

[Buffy] lets Dawn experience at least one [pure emotion](pure pain- losing Buffy) and I think that's the nicest thing she could've done

If Buffy could have done one of the nicest things she could have done by letting Dawn experience pure pain, the counterpoint is that she also did one of the worst things she could have done by refusing Dawn the role of the savior. Indeed, the fact that Buffy could have sacrificed herself to save Dawn would have made Dawn's sacrifice all the more heroic. Does being a hero cause one to do good actions or do good actions make one the hero? It reminds me of Doyle's sacrifice in Angel; yes, he was in some ways chosen too, but I think ultimately the message of that episode was that normal people (or normal demons) can be heros too. Drilled in by the repetition of his commercial where he is supposed to represent the hero that shines through the normal man (er... half man).

From Prophecy Girl:

GILES: I made up my mine first! I'm older and wiser than you, and just... just do what you're told for once! Alright?
BUFFY: That's not how it goes. I'm the Slayer.

Buffy has a good argument against Giles here, in line with Sophist's statement that Buffy is the vampire slayer. But whose role is it to die in this case? Whose sacrifice should it be? If we are going to be strict prophecy fundamentalists, it seems that Dawn should be the one to die. Dawn's legitimate role is being circumvented by Buffy and Dawn is incapable (as Buffy was with Giles) to stop Buffy.

I fail to see how the morality of Buffy's decision to give her own life in place of her sisters can be seriously questioned.

I want to apologize -- only halfway -- if I came off as seeming to seriously question the morality of Buffy's decision. My reason for the half-apology is this. Buffy's decision must be seriously questioned, not because it detracts from her decision, but because I believed that almost all things need to be questioned. Did she reach the right decision? I would say yes. Are there negative impacts of her making the decision? I would say yes. Did she sacrifice out of love of her sister? I would say yes. Was Dawn adequately involved in her decision? I would say no. Did Buffy have the ability/time to adequately involve her sister? I would say no.

I'm not saying that Buffy's choice wasn't good. It was. But to be claim that all aspects of it were good? They weren't.

[> [> [> [> [> Very well said. -- Sophist, 20:07:46 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Oi, backed into the corner of playing devil's disciple again... -- Robert, 22:32:53 03/21/02 Thu

>> "I'm not saying that Buffy's choice wasn't good. It was. But to be claim that all aspects of it were good? They weren't."

I do believe that we are viewing this issue from orthogonal directions, because I don't understand your reasoning.

I submit that it is extremely unreasonable to expect that Buffy would consider Dawn's self respect in deciding whether to save her or not. If Buffy allowed Dawn to take the dive off the tower, with the knowledge that it need not have happened, what do you think the general opinion would be for that choice? The scenario is constructed to allow only two choices; Buffy saves the world and dies, or Dawn saves the world and dies.

The situation is not symmetric. As a consequence of Buffy's status as guardian and slayer, Dawn doesn't get to choose who saves the world. Thus, the issue is not what Dawn's choice was or might have been. The issue is only what Buffy chose and whether she chose rightly. Dawn will survive taking a hit to her self respect and it beats dying. For this to be the wrong decision would mean that Dawn was better off dead. This I most certainly do not believe.

A similar issue arose in "What's My Line?" from season 2. In this episode, Buffy saves Xander from bullying, thus hurting Xander's respect (self and otherwise). The correctness of her decision may be in question only so long as she did not believe that Xander would have been seriously hurt by the other boys.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Oi, backed into the corner of playing devil's disciple again... -- SiWangMu, 02:04:43 03/22/02 Fri

Looks like I'm the devil's legal aide or some such person, but I couldn't resist making a few comments.

"As a consequence of Buffy's status as guardian and slayer, Dawn doesn't get to choose who saves the world."

I think this is a central part of what TRM is arguing; they've stated that they agree with Buffy's decision and that they do not believe she reasonably had time to take the drawback/pitfall into account, but that they believe the assumption that "Dawn doesn't get to choose" is questionable and/or limiting.

"For this to be the wrong decision would mean that Dawn was better off dead. This I most certainly do not believe. "

I think everybody agrees with this.

Okay, that's all! I am fast falling in love with this board.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Oi, backed into the corner of playing devil's disciple again... -- Robert, 12:30:46 03/22/02 Fri

>> "but that they believe the assumption that "Dawn doesn't get to choose" is questionable and/or limiting."

Assumption? Am I wrong? How does the scenario allow Dawn to make the choice? If Buffy allowed Dawn to jump off the tower, then Buffy made the choice, not Dawn. For Dawn to make the choice, the scenario would need to be symmetric (or nearly so). It was not Dawn's responsibility to make this decision. That responsibility lay solely and completely with Buffy, as guardian and slayer. Buffy could not cede this responsibility without returning to a catatonic state.

[> [> [> [> [> I've enjoyed reading all your recent posts TRM -- Rahael, 02:28:40 03/22/02 Fri

[> no -- vampire hunter D, 13:35:15 03/21/02 Thu

[> Buffy vs. Dawn and Angel vs. Buffy -- Scroll, 21:42:58 03/21/02 Thu

This discussion over who had the right to decide who would be sacrificed in "The Gift" brings to mind Angel's decision to give up his humanity in "I Will Remember You".

(Taken from Psyche's Transcripts:)
Angel: I went to see the Oracles. I asked them to turn me back.
Buffy: What? Why?
Angel: Because more then ever I know how much I love you.
Buffy backs away from him: No. No, you didn't.
Angel follows her: And if I stayed mortal one of us would wind up dead, maybe both of us. You heard what Mohra said.
Buffy: Mohra is dead. We killed him.
Angel: He said others would come.
Buffy: They always come. And they always will. But that's my problem now, not yours, remember?
Angel: No, I won't just stand by and let you fight, maybe die, alone.
Buffy: Then we fight together.
Angel: You saw what happened last night. If anything I'm a liability to you. You take chances to protect me, and that's not just bad for you, it's bad for the people we were meant to help.
Buffy: So what? You just took a whole 24 hours to weigh the ups and downs of being a regular Joe and decided it was more fun being a superhero?
Angel: You know that's not it. How can we be together if the cost is your life, or the lives of others?

Then in "Hero":
Angel to Doyle: The Oracles told me that I was released from my duty. Buffy and I were together until we realized it couldn't be. We don't belong to ourselves. We belong to the world, fighting. So, I went back to the Oracles and I asked them to turn back the clock... as though that day had never happened.

Lots of critics have made a big fuss that Angel made the decision to sacrifice his and Buffy's happiness together without consulting her. But wasn't his decision a lot like Buffy's on that tower with Dawn? Angel, out of love for Buffy, couldn't stand the thought of her dying and so took on the responsibility of being the 'protector', even to the point of dying/giving up life. Buffy, out of love for Dawn, refused to let her sister die and took on the responsibiity that, technically, was Dawn's.

You can say that Dawn was 15, too young and innocent to have to deal with the responsibility with saving the world. But that doesn't really hold up much water since Buffy had the same responsibility at that same age. Dawn isn't the Slayer, but she is the Key and it was her destiny to open the portals between dimensions. How can anyone say it wasn't her destiny to therefore close those same portals?

That being said, I think Buffy made the only choice she could have, given the situation she was in and the limited time she had to make Dawn understand why she had to jump. Like Buffy in "I Will Remember You", Dawn only has a few moments to grasp the sacrifice her sister was making on place of her. I think that being a lover/sister sometimes forces our heroes to make decisions which may seem unfair to the survivor. Perhaps they are unfair, but like Buffy's epiphany on that tower, it is the work that they have to do.

[> [> Re: Buffy vs. Dawn and Angel vs. Buffy -- Robert, 22:47:40 03/21/02 Thu

>> "I think that being a lover/sister sometimes forces our heroes to make decisions which may seem unfair to the survivor."

Yes, this is the central point. Buffy was responsible for making the decision, not Dawn. Whether this is fair or not is irrelevant. The best the survivors can hope for is to honor the sacrifices made for them. Before jumping off the tower, Buffy told Dawn how she could honor Buffy's sacrifice.

What's the nickname for the ABA's? The Clems, the stakeys, what? -- JCC, 14:06:30 03/21/02 Thu

[> Re: What's the nickname for the ABA's? The Clems, the stakeys, what? -- neaux, 14:39:24 03/21/02 Thu

I'm letting Liq design the award. I guess its up to her to decide.

So that way she can design the award in accordance.

Stakes would be easier to make into awards.. but I like Masq's idea of calling them the Clemmies!! So Liq.. go ahead and make the call!

[> [> CLEMmies is it -- Liq, 17:20:22 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> [> Not to be a spoilsport... -- Darby, 07:34:06 03/22/02 Fri

..But assuming that the franchise and this process has some "legs," is it reasonable to base the name on what might be a flavor-of-the-month character?

If this had been done three years ago, would we still be happy with the Ozzie Awards?

[> [> [> [> Actually we might... -- Cactus Watcher, 08:26:22 03/22/02 Fri

It's fun to be part of an inside joke. I like the name Clemmies (with any of the suggested capitalizations) for the award. But, we could refer to the winners as the Anointed Ones. ;o)

[> The ClEmmies! -- Masq, 15:13:12 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> Re: The Oz-cars! (see above) -- Darby, 07:38:29 03/22/02 Fri

Angel and the WB New eps start April 15th.... -- Rufus, 15:02:40 03/21/02 Thu

Angel Likely To Remain On WB

David Greenwalt, co-creator of The WB's vampire series Angel, told SCI FI Wire that rival network UPN remains contractually obligated to pick up the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff if The WB cancels it--but added that he's confident the frog network will renew the show for a fourth season. "They will," Greenwalt said in an interview. "But UPN would also be a happy home for me in year five or year six. Even post-Buffy, UPN could be a happy home for me." Buffy moved to UPN from The WB this season after a highly publicized contract dispute, and the Smackdown network committed to at least two years of Buffy.

Greenwalt added, "But we're going to be on The WB. It's going to be a late pickup, and we're going to be on The WB. You heard it here. Year four. I'm only speaking for year four. I'm not speaking beyond that." Angel is currently on hiatus, but will return to The WB with new episodes beginning on April 15.

[> Good news! -- Masq, 15:11:58 03/21/02 Thu

I have worried fans writing me about 'Angel''s future

Like I'm an expert on the behind-the-scenes stuff. Sheesh. Only have so much room in my brain. : )

[> Re: Angel and the WB New eps start April 15th.... -- Darby, 07:30:04 03/22/02 Fri

I wouldn't be surprised to see Fox enter into it as well.

Angel, with a proper "introductory" arc, could be a worthy successor to The X-Files. With more stations and the benefit of fall NFL game promotion, it could become a real hit. In many ways it's more accessible than Buffy, - easily as much as The X-Files - and there's the comparable Boreanez - Duchovny factor. And, I think, Cordy and Fred can exceed the Scully factor. And who wouldn't rather watch Lilah than that smoking guy?

OT Campbell conversation-- and Dumezil! -- leslie, 15:12:41 03/21/02 Thu

[I'm mostly addressing some questions from Kevin that have already been archived, but first, Ete, I for one would love to see a Dumezilian analysis of Buffy!]

My feeling about Campbell is mixed--he seems to me to be on-target when he is addressing material that fits into his theories, but I also feel that he ignores material that doesn't fit, and can do some bending of material so that it does fit. As with all scholars who become popular, this problem becomes increasingly egregious in his followers. I especially dislike the "hero's journey" type of how- to book (whether it's how to write your own Star Wars script or how to live your life like a hero) that mushes together Campbell with Vladimir Propp's _Morphology of the Folktale_, since these tend to completely miss the point of Propp's work (which is that what he's done is find a--very very complex and confusing--pattern in Russian folktales, and he ends his study by saying "we should look at other bodies of folk tale and see whether this pattern is found there, too", NOT "hey, let's apply this willy- nilly to every traditional narrative we can get our hands on, and write scripts according to it, too!")

My main problem with Campbell is that I feel he extracts myth from its social/cultural context and tries to make it universally applicable, which too often tends to mean "applicable to modern Americans." My own approach to mythology is that it is something that first and foremost means something very real to the real lives of the people who tell it/use it/think it; it is only after you have tried to understand a myth within its native context that you can begin to understand what it might mean elsewhere. To that extent, I prefer Jung precisely because he is using myth as a branch of psychology--he is interested in how myth manifests itself in the lives of real people, whether they realize it or not. So, my problem with Campbell is partly a problem I have with an entire chunk of mythological analysis--he's just the example we happen to be talking about at the moment. (Yes, there's LOTS of people I don't like! Not picky, me!)

My definition of a folklorist--oi, you have hit the real sore spot in the discipline, which is that no-one agrees on a definition, and therefore everyone spends a hell of a lot of time telling people that they are "not really folklorists"--no-one is ever a bad folklorist, or a folklorist that you disagree with, you just are not "real." But my definition of a folklorist is someone who is conversant with the history of folklore studies and whose own scholarly analysis is based within that tradition, whether they are following someone else's theoretical lead or trying to forge a new line--the point being, folklore is not just the collection of narratives, artefacts, beliefs, songs, what have you, but the attempt to understand the mind that creates these things. Originally this was a field that encompassed both folklore (which is, in the most basic sense, the informal, traditional construction of life, often manifested in the things people do to define themselves as "a group") and mythology (which I would define as "narrative philosophy", which others usually define as narratives that explain how the world came to be the way it is today); right now, folklore is pretty well divorced from mythology, and I could give you a whole long saga about how that came to be but it's just too depressing. For a look at how the discipline tends to define itself, I would recommend _Folkloristics_ by Robert A. Georges and Michael Owen Jones, Indiana University Press, 1995 (two people who have told me to my face that I am not a "real" folklorist, by the way, despite the fact that they trained me) and/or _American Folklore Scholarship_ by Rosemary Levy Zumwalt, Indiana University Press, 1988.

[> Thank you :-) -- Kevin, 16:57:33 03/21/02 Thu

Thanks for getting back to me...I'll have to ponder for awhile. Never a quick process for me...

[> Re: OT Campbell conversation--and Dumezil! -- A8, 19:16:43 03/21/02 Thu

I understand your mixed feelings about Campbell's work and would be very interested if you could provide examples where Campbell errs in his use of mythology to support his ideas. I have found his work highly useful in directing me to source materials I might otherwise have overlooked or simply passed up due to the intimidation factor. Furthermore, I have always been in agreement in his idea that humanity is in search of a new mythology in accord with the realities of the world today and that much of the conflict on this planet is due to people adhering to belief systems that aren't up to the task of changing with the times.

Being a terminal "non-joiner," I have always been wary, however, of "followers" of any person or philosophy, Campbell's included. I think Campbell's basic message was to keep an open mind about all ideas. Conequently, anybody who argues too forcefully that Campbell's interpretation is the only one (I actually haven't encountered too many of them) probably never really got what he was about in the first place. Sometimes it seems, though, that the people most vehemently opposed to or supportive of Campbell's ideas drew their conclusions based solely on their viewing of the Power of Myth and have not bothered to read his books or the source materials to which they refer.

In my reading of Campbell (The Masks of God-Primitive, Occidental, Oriental and Creative Mythology , The Hero With a Thousand Faces, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, the aforementioned Power of Myth, and Myths to Live By), he has always made a point of explaining the historical, cultural and environmental contexts of a particular myth before discussing the elements common to other belief systems. Campbell was particularly influenced by Jung's discussions of "archetypes" ("definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere" sometimes called "motifs" in mythological research, but inherited by all human beings as members of the "collective unconscious") and how they could be used to attempt a more general understanding of myths.

I believe Campbell best summed up his approach to mythology in his preface to The Hero With A Thousand Faces, which I will quote in part as follows:

"It is the purpose of the present book to uncover some of the truths disguised for us under the figures of religion and mythology by bringing together a multitude of not-too-difficult examples and letting the ancient meaning become apparent of itself. Once we have learned to read again their symbolic language, it requires no more than the talent of an anthologist to let their teaching be heard. But first we must learn the grammar of the symbols, and as a key to this mystery I know of no better modern tool than psychoanalysis. Without regarding this as the last word on the subject, one can nevertheless permit it to serve as an approach. The second step will be then to bring together a host of myths and folk tales from every corner of the world, and to let the symbols speak for themselves. The parallels will be immediately apparent and these will develop a vast and amazingly constant statement of the basic truths by which man has lived throughout the milleniums of his residence on the planet.

Perhaps it will be objected that in bringing out the correspondences I have overlooked the differences between the various Oriental and Occidental, modern, ancient, and primitive traditions. The same objection might be brought, however, against any textbook or chart of anatomy, where the physiological variations of race are disregarded in the interest of a basic general understanding of the human physique. There are of course differences between the numerous mythologies and religions of mankind, but this is a book about the similarities; and once these are understood the differences will be found to be much less great than is popularly (and politically) supposed. My hope is that a comparative elucidation may contribute to the perhaps not-quite-desperate cause of those forces that are working in the present world for unification, not in the name of some ecclesiastical or political empire, but in the sense of human mutual understanding. As we are told in the Vedas: 'Truth is one, the sages speake of it by many names.'"

IMO, Campbell's approach to reading myths was never intended to be an end all in the field of mythological and/or folkloristic studies, but just an alternative. It's easy to get a misimpression about Campbell when his most vocal "followers" seem to be people who haven't bothered to got to the source materials or read Campbell's more in-depth materials. That's when you are likely to get mindless chants of "follow your bliss" or oversimplifications to the effect that "all mythologies are essentially the same." The bliss thing was Campbell's personal credo which really seemed to have worked in his case. Campbell would have been the first to object to viewing all mythologies as being the same. He probably would have argued, though, that their similarities are just too coincidental not to be investigated.

Thanks for the references on folkloristics, they are now added to my mile-long reading list.


[> [> Re: OT Campbell conversation--and Dumezil! -- leslie, 09:54:58 03/22/02 Fri

Oh lordy. I really can't sieve through all of Campbell to give opposing interpretations of all his examples--for one thing, I have two books of my own to be writing right now. However, one thing I do find problematic in _The Hero with a Thousand Faces_, for instance, is its--unconsciously?--male bias. I quote from p. 136 of the Bollingen edition:

"The traditional idea of initiation combines an introduction of the candidate into the techniques, duties, and prerogatives of his vocation with a radical readjustment of his emotional relationship to the parental images. The mystagogue (father or father-subsititute) is to entrust the symbols of office only to a son who has been effectively purged of all inappropriate infantile cathexes--for whom the just, impersonal exervice of the powers will not be rendered impossible by unconscious (or perhaps even conscious and rationalized) motives of self-aggrandizement, personal preference, or resentment." And so on.

This passage (and most of Campbell's writings on initiation rites) presents initiation as a purely male ritual. It's about the passage of power from father to son, from one ruling, male generation to another. It completely ignores the existence of female initiation rites in many cultures world-wide, and in fact, in "The Power of Myth" series, Campbell actually scoffs at a question from Bill Moyers about the existence of female initiaiton rites, saying something to the effect of "what do you mean, they just go sit in a hut for a couple of days." His paradigm of initiation is based on it being a male ritual, and he refuses to consider the evidence of female initiation and what relevence it might have to his argument.

[> [> [> Re: OT Campbell conversation -- Kevin, 12:32:44 03/22/02 Fri

It appears that you have not read very much of Campbell's work and are basing much of the above very negative bias against his work with little actual first hand knowledge of it. I kept thinking early on in this thread that you had read such pieces as the Masks of God to develop your opinion. But if I'm understanding you correctly, you have only read Hero with a Thousand Faces and read/seen the Power of Myth. You say "This passage (and most of Campbell's writings on initiation rites)", but it would appear that you are not familiar with most of Campbell's writings or you would know that he writes extensively about women's initiation rites.

It would be like my seeing one or two episodes of BtVS and basing and expressing a strong opinion about the whole show on that limited knowledge of it.

I'm not saying that if Campbell doesn't catch you you should go and read him anyway - I read things because I find them interesting, not because I'm supposed to. I just seems that if you're not going to read and author, expressing strong opinions about his writings seems odd.

Off to new threads...


[> [> [> [> Re: OT Campbell conversation -- leslie, 14:36:07 03/22/02 Fri

Well, yes, as I have said, I have not read deeply in Campbell, but I have read broadly in mythology studies, and as I said at the beginning of this whole thread, wherever it started, I find him, how shall I say, much less useful than much of my other reading. And as I said much less long ago, I have no problem with him sparking people's interest in mythology, I just find it sad when people stick to the Campbell line without exploring what are, to me, much more interesting approaches to myth. If I had seen two episodes of Buffy and not liked it, I wouldn't be here talking about it--I would be watching something else and not really caring about all the people who like Buffy. But liking the show, if I come across someone who thinks that, say, Xena is the sine qua non of "unreality tv" (as I like to think of the genre, and by the way, I quite enjoyed Xena), I would still suggest to them that they might want to look at Buffy. And if they tried to tell me that Xena and Hercules were accurate depictions of Greek mythology, we would have a problem on our hands...

[> Many thanks for your inputs.....more reading to do now! -- Caroline, 20:10:35 03/21/02 Thu

Leslie and A8 - thanks for your contributions. My intro to mythology was initially through literature studies and later through psychology - Jung and Freud, and then even later than that through eastern and western astrology and then Buddhism, so I have no real exposure to folklorists except through these prisms. Many thanks for the wonderful explanations and reading suggestions. Also added to my mile-high reading list!

[> Re: Interpreting myths. -- Darby, 07:21:05 03/22/02 Fri

We recently had a discussion here about postmodernism which seems appropriate here as well.

The trap is the assumption that anyone can disassociate themselves from their own particular "worldview" to approach any subject free of inclinations or bias. It's true of scientists (I bristle at the term "collective unconscious" as an archaic and simplistic and largely unsupportable concept, and then realize that a lot of modern evolutionary neurology is presenting the same concepts in terms that fit my worldview and are therefore acceptable), and it's true of anthropologists (some really interesting work out there on the effect of bias and artifact on Margaret Mead's studies, and it's incredible how much modern theory is being shaped by "scientists" [sorry, but I had to put in the quote marks - personal bias] who reject the notion of evolution), and it has to be true of folklorists as well. It's in the recognition of that fact that real discovery lies, and my impression from a distance is that Campbell would see himself as being unaffected by those externals, somehow "above" them. Notwithstanding the reality that I'm close to a total ignoramus here, does that sound reasonable?

That's not to say that there is no value to the ideas; I'm pretty much echoing your "take it all with a grain of salt" advice here.

Preeeeetty O/T: How Blade Kills Cancer Patients -- AngelVSAngelus, 15:46:17 03/21/02 Thu

Color me self indulgent, but I'm a little on the bored side, I've listened to my new NIN cd twelve times now, and I'm a little creatively tapped as far as painting or writing go. So why not post on something that just struck me whilst watching a Buffy rerun?
I saw a commercial for Blade 2 and it reminded me of an immense problem I had with the first movie. I suppose the disclaimer should be given that despite the qualm I still enjoy watching the movie, if only for the general badassness of Snipes' vampire hunter (though he's got nothing on ANOTHER long coat wearing, broody slayer, mind you.)
That's right, the subject line says Blade kills cancer patients. I don't mean that in the literal sense, but I'm using it as an analogy for my qualm. In the movie, contrary to Buffy's portrayal of vamps as demons, vampirism is here conveyed as a viral infection, a medical condition that inhibits those infected from sustaining hemoglobin levels in their blood, and thus needing that of others. Its another question entirely how this grants those infected with super strength, speed, and agility, but I won't address that. The thing is, if you treat vampirism as a virus, then it doesn't necessarily change anything of a person's morality if they're changed.
But the Day Walker's pretty indiscriminate about which ones he kills. So lets say you're Joe or Jane Vampire, just turned tonight by some jerk who decided to bite you but not kill you (for this is also the way it works in Blade). So now you need blood, but you've got a problem with murder, so you decided to take a trip to the butcher or a blood bank instead. You're walking along the alleyway, minding your own business, when who else do you see at the end of that alley but the Daywalker. His sword is drawn, his grin is big, and his propensity for violence even bigger, and you know you're about to die. For doing nothing. For having a virus.
Granted, there ARE vampires in the movie that do kill alot of people. I'm just saying, if its a virus then not ALL of them would intrinsically have to do so, but Blade doesn't care.
Just something that bothered me. Like I said, self indulgent *shrug*

[> Re: Preeeeetty O/T: How Blade Kills Cancer Patients -- Apophis, 16:29:18 03/21/02 Thu

I had some problems with the first movie, too, like when Blade stabbed his vamped mom in the stomach with a bone and she died (Was it a silver bone? Was her heart in her stomach?). As for morality, the movie certainly didn't imply that it was possible for a vampire to retain it's moral compass after infection. Even Blade's mom saw no problem with wasting her own son. I figure that, assuming it is possible for a movieBlade vampire to exist morally, Blade simply doesn't encounter those vampires. They lay low and try not to hurt anyone. If the infection simply drives a vamp crazy with hunger until it kills against its will, than why not put it down? It's a threat to innocent people, like a rabid dog. Even if Blade can cure vampirism now (the movie was kinda iffy on that) it's not plausible to cure every one in existence. Most didn't seem like they'd want to be cured, anyway.

[> Re: Preeeeetty O/T: How Blade Kills Cancer Patients -- BuddyL, 01:41:40 03/22/02 Fri

I can't believe you would impose rules from one universe to the other like that. Please. Blade's vampires seem to be a curious mix of magic and genetics, its not just a virus--a virus was never mentioned anyway, juts a genetic component that could be controlled. On other hand you have blood gods and such, an obvious demonic influence. This mixing of science and magic isn't new, vamps in Blade are fairly black and white, big deal. Blade should kill any and all he sees.

[> Cause Blade's a Bad Mother... Shut your mouth, I'm just talking about Blade -- Vegeta, 14:44:40 03/22/02 Fri

[> [> LOL! I can dig it :) -- AngelVSAngelus, 14:53:30 03/22/02 Fri

The Origin of Willow's Powers... -- Agnostic Sorcerer, 15:59:45 03/21/02 Thu

I've heard many wonderful theories as to where Willow's powers originated. I've heard many people believe that perhaps Amy's mother bestowed powers upon Willow or that some astral entity had been using Willow and "boosting" her powers incremently when she casted the Soul Restitution spell on Angel.

Well, what about Moloch, the Corruptor? He was the demon who promised power, love, and knowledge to his disciples. He seemed rather interested in Willow during that entire incident and there's one scence that really struck me that went something like this:

Xander> "What does he want with Willow?"
Buffy> "I don't know, but let's never find out."

Hm. I just thought that perhaps he would be another possibility.

Moloch> "I want to give you the world."

[> Re: The Origin of Willow's Powers... -- Eric, 21:34:40 03/21/02 Thu

I always thought of Willow's powers originating from her having and using great intelligence, imagination, discipline, and heart. That and living on a Hellmouth. Moloch probably saw her potential and thought he could exploit it. Nor was he the first. During the Sunnydale High career fair, vaguely sinister reps from a large computer company (Microsoft?) tried to recruit her. It was a possible plot development that was never used.

[> [> Re: The Origin of Willow's Powers... -- Robert, 22:56:55 03/21/02 Thu

>> "Nor was he the first."

Let us not forget that D'Hoffryn attempted to recruit Willow into the ranks of vengence demons.

[> [> Re: The Origin of Willow's Powers... -- AgnosticSorcerer, 00:46:40 03/22/02 Fri

I agree entirely, but I thought it was worth considering. Although the theories concerning Willow's powers are all good and valid, I am more inclined to believe it is something that originates within Willow.

[> [> [> Re: The Origin of Willow's Powers... -- yabyumpan, 14:11:54 03/22/02 Fri

I tend to think her powers are innate. I also see her as more of a sorcereress than a witch/wiccan. She actively rejected all the wiccan stuff and was quite derogetory about it.

[> [> [> [> Re: The Origin of Willow's Powers... -- Eric, 16:12:41 03/22/02 Fri

Again I say that Willow's powers are based on a combo of her own personal attributes and exposure to the Hellmouth. But she is a Wiccan. She was derogetory towards it only because the college group was really kind of superficial and silly. Beyond a mild pagan feminist agenda linked to bake sales, they didn't have a clue about what to be. Nor were they wise enough or brave enough to try and find out. So she snagged Tara and split.

[> [> [> [> [> RE: The Origin of Willow's Powers... -- TRM, 09:48:52 03/23/02 Sat

I think the confusion comes in when we are trying to determine the meaning of the word: "Wicca" or "Wiccan." Indeed, it comes from (1) the mixing of the uses by Willow and perhaps (2) Willow's claim to follow the Wiccan religion while not actually practicing it.

The word Wicca has two popular understood meanings. In the more general sense, people understand Wicca to relate simply to witchcraft. Those who practice any form of witchcraft are Wicca.

More accurately though, Wicca is an established religion. I don't know too much about it myself, but the basics of it seem generally to be a very naturalist point of view: everything is divine (rocks, trees, etc.) and represent the faces of a divine duality the God/Goddess.

Willow's claim to be a Wiccan is either because she's using the first definition, or indeed she is using the second definition but not adhering to it. At the very least, it doesn't seem to me that praying to Osiris is a particularly Wiccan practice in the religous sense (unless we are to extract Osiris as having origins in being one of the faces of the Wiccan duality -- perhaps Willow is of a "unitarian universalist" sort of denomination/tradition of Wicca). Indeed, performing magic is not necessarily Wiccan in the religious sense either, it is the faith that counts. Note if Wicca is truly applicable to Willow, the generally accepted "rule of three" would hold: that any energy that she sends out returns to her three-fold. Willow hardly seems to consider this by her "what's the harm" comments (furthering the point that she's using Wiccan in the first sense and not the religious sense). This is not necessarily a magic related statement and refers to other aspects, e.g., emotional, as well.

I wonder what happened to Willow's Judaism? Her mother, who seemed to be fairly orthodox (IIRC from Gingerbread), is probably having a fit.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: RE: The Origin of Willow's Powers... -- Slain, 11:22:58 03/23/02 Sat

Tara is a Wiccan - and by dabbling in powerful magic and messing with lives and minds, Willow did reject Tara's moral code, which I would assume comes from Wicca. You have to remember to separate out the real-life Wiccan religion, and fictional Wicca in BtVS - they're different things.

I think Willow's power comes from herself or from the naural world around her (Wicca), and from her use of the demon realms (sorcery) - the latter being where the dangerous, powerful magic comes from.

[> [> That brings up an interesting question... -- Darby, 06:58:12 03/22/02 Fri

We assume that some Microsoft-like company wanted Willow and Oz for technological hijinks, but what if their interests were somewhat darker? A witch and a werewolf? And aides to the Slayer?

C'mon, would it surprise anyone if Bill Gates employed Wolfram and Hart?

[> [> [> Re: That brings up an interesting question... -- Dochawk, 09:09:22 03/22/02 Fri

LOL, he's probably one of the senior partners (yes I know he's not a lawyer)

[> Re: The Origin of Willow's Powers... -- O'Cailleagh, 02:11:47 03/23/02 Sat

This very thought has been buzzing around my head for weeks...I think I even posted it here at some point but it slipped by, unnoticed! I think its a huge possibility that Willow's exposure to Moloch may have, indeed, corrupted her, but the source of her power is internal, and strengthened by the Hellmouth-mystical-convergence thing (IMO).
Although she occasionally claims to be Wiccan, Willow is not a Witch, but a Magician. Tara is the 'true' Witch of the two.

Right Wing Objections to BtVS -- LeeAnn, 19:42:04 03/21/02 Thu

Buffy,: Call It Irresponsible

"Buffy Goes Over the Edge

And will Smashed be further censored next week?

[> Re: Right Wing Objections to BtVS -- Corwin of Amber, 20:03:45 03/21/02 Thu

I (reluctantly) have to agree that it problably shouldn't be on in the time slot it is. But then I also think that parents should be responsible for what they let their children watch. Buffy is an entertaining show, but it's not for children. It's too graphic and some of the issues it addresses are too complex.
And even though it has a 'good vs evil' premise, it hasn't really defined what is good and what is evil, as far as the show goes. And look at the elements of the show...frequent use of occult powers, demons and vampires running around, some haveing sex with humans, two lesbian witches...I can understand how conservatives would be threatend/offended.

[> [> I am WAY too easily frustrated into the non verbal by this sort of thing, so.... -- AngelVSAngelus, 11:56:10 03/22/02 Fri

I'll offer simply this: When are the parents of America going to stop expecting OTHERS to do their jobs for them? You don't want your child to see sex on television? Here's a thought : DON'T LET THEM. There's always the exception, too, the kid that IS mature enough to handle certain things. Not to mention, if you don't want to be a watch dog twenty four seven, then perhaps it'd be a good idea to try and instill in your child values that would prevent them from watching that sort of thing.
In the end you can't really control completely what your child experiences from the external world. But you CAN influence how they decide to perceive, accept, and interact with it. No amount of censorship can compensate for the loss of that.

[> [> [> Thank you for respecting the parent! -- Kimberly, 12:33:04 03/22/02 Fri

The people who complain and gripe about the effects that sex and violence on TV have on MY child make me more than a little nuts. Especially since I consider their morals highly immoral.

It gets stated that people frequently become more conservative when they become parents. Doesn't explain me: I've just gotten more vocal. (Sent a letter to the Boy Scouts telling them why my son will not be joining them kind of thing.) A woman my husband works with was once complaining about the "Rainbow Curriculum", and how it teaches children that homosexuality is OK (the details are fuzzy). My husband was debating this when she came back with a response she obviously thought would shut him up: "Do you want the schools teaching your son (then an infant) that?" He shut HER up by stating, "If they don't, I will."

We generally allow our son (now seven) to watch Buffy. The sexual content is usually "quiet" enough that it goes right past him. After getting a couple of warning about Smashed, we didn't let him watch it (and I'm glad; way too brutal for him.) Friends of ours with an eight-year-old girl let her watch (with them present). I may disagree with them, but it's their call; she's a good kid, she has a good Mom, and it's a parental/family decision. Our son enjoys Buffy, and understands it on its most basic level: a heroine fights evil to keep the world safe. I feel it teaches appropriate ethics and morals, and has the advantage of having a strong woman at the center (he can use all the good feminist models he can get in our society).

I'm ranting because these right-wingers attack anything with any complexity, with anything that doesn't explicitly state their very narrow view of the universe. And the older I get, and the more I see my son walking into their world, the angrier I get. And the more I refuse to let them have him.

Sorry for the rant: the timing for this was bad, and your post was the last straw (in a good way; I agree with you.)

[> [> [> [> In my book rantage is cool -- AngelVSAngelus, 14:36:03 03/22/02 Fri

I may have somewhat of a bias, I tend to go into soapboxage myself.

[> [> [> [> Argh -- Ian, 16:09:44 03/22/02 Fri

Let me just state at the beginning that it is not my intention to rant or to dismiss anyone's religious or political beliefs. I am really NOT. This is just my reaction to the articles and the thinking I perceive to be behind them. I apologize in advance if I am going too far in this post. (I don't think I am, but then I'm also new to the board.)

Kimberly, I am SO with you on this. One of the many, many, many things that bothers me with right-wing, religious conservative thinking (misnomer if ever there was one--just my opinion) is their assertion (whether implied or stated out right) that only ONE way of thinking, loving, relating and living is correct. Everything else is bad. Not disagreeable mind you, literally bad, in the biblical sense.

I saw a post somewhere on this topic that upheld their right to their opinions. To this I say--yes! Definitely. Although I may find narrow minded reactionist philosophy to be deeply disturbing and laughably simplistic, it's still their right. However, the massive movement to "return" America to a "Leave it to Beaver" world is about far more than simply differing approaches to life, it is about intolerance and the allure of ignorance. However comforting it may be to believe in a world with no shades of gray, that's not the world we live in.
While it may be acceptable to me for them to have their world and for me to have mine, the true danger is that it is not alright with them (watch the 700 Club, then tell me I'm wrong). I am an atheist, gay male, and Jerry Falwell said a few years ago that in an ideal world the military and local police forces would cooperate in "rounding up and shooting" all gay men and women in the US. Although I can't remember just which fundamentalist leader said it, gays and feminists were blamed for the 9/11 tragedy that "they had brought down on America from an angry God." Yes, whoever said this did make an insipid public apology a few days later, but millions upon millions of Americans truly believe this (or are at least willing to believe what their spokesperson for God has told them).

The last thing I want to do with this post is to offend anyone here or sound like an absolutist from the left-wing, but I find it highly bothersome that in the race to eradicate "offensive comments" from American culture so many real currents in society cannot be verbally challenged. Too often critical thinking is lumped together with bigoted or misogynistic comments, but I can't think of how a reasoned (even impassioned) argument that is critical of something could be more unlike the latter.

Yes, Smashed was probably not the best thing in the world for children to watch. Yes, there should have been an extra warning before the show was aired, and yes, it is the right and indeed the responsibility of every parent to do what he or she thinks best for their children, even if I don't respect those decisions. I challenge none of these things. People have a right to live as they see fit, AS LONG AS this does not infringe on the rights of others to do the same. However, the articles and concomitant belief systems are not simply about decrying what they perceive to be the immoral tide, they are actively agitating for the removal of anything they dislike or cannot control.

With so much of American commercial culture denying the influence of history (anyone remember "history is dead?") I feel that all too often social/religious currents in the world are treated with far too little respect. Intolerance is far more than distasteful--historically it is incredibly dangerous.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Argh -- aurelia, 04:28:25 03/23/02 Sat

The 9/11 thing was more of Jerry Falwell fine work and if I recall correctly he didn't even apologize, he just said it was the wrong time to make statements like that. Damn right it was the wrong time, any time is the wrong time to say crap like that. GRRRR, that man makes me so angry!

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Argh -- Kimberly, 06:32:51 03/23/02 Sat

Great post, Ian. (And I was sickened by Falwell after 9/11.) (Well, before, too, but he went way over the line with that comment.)

First of all, I believe in free speech. The idiot right-wingers (opinionated much?) have a right to state their beliefs. I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I believe in this so strongly.

I am also a parent. One who believes that children should be raised to be willing to consider other people as people first. One who believes that children should be taught that it is what a person IS, what a person DOES that defines them, not the color of the skin, the gender of those they love, or the name they use to worship the Divine.

My biggest problem with the Right-Wingers is not what they believe (although I disagree with them with every fiber of my being), but that they believe they have the right to teach my son hate. And narrow-mindedness. And a literalism that robs the world (and even their holiest book) of so much of its beauty.

I am a peacable person at heart; I hate controversy. Becoming a parent made me realize that I have to fight to keep my right to teach my son love, not hate. So, I rant. And I fight (something else I never saw myself doing.) I write letters to the BSA telling them I consider them immoral.

A point that these people miss (probably because they're so busy watching and enjoying, while feeling guilty, the sex), is that there are always real consequences to actions in Buffy. Not the soap opera type, but the type that might happen in the real world (minus the demons, I think.) Sex isn't frivolous; it is portrayed as sacred, as aweful (in the literal sense of the word) and as significant an act which can be performed. Thanks to the hatred these people have of any kind of pleasure, they miss those points.

We never had a Leave It to Beaver world. It was a myth of what the majority of people of that time wanted to believe existed.

I find it sickening that the people fighting to teach my son hate claim to worship a God of Love.

"Your right to be free ends at the next person's nose." A nice, simple way to live; why can't we?

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Argh -- Claire, 10:11:21 03/23/02 Sat

I personally find the taking of live appealing to cetain individuals far more disturbing than gay people living their own lifes without hurting others. But I'm strange that way. If it is really thought that gay people should be murdered on command from God that is truly sick and disturbed.
Its also pretty sad that some people have such a harsh opinion of God. Thinking he made the 9/11 tragedy happen to punish a small minority. Weird! Some people in America today would apparently be happier in Nazi Germany where people they see as different can truly be persecuted. Hitler's example is already bring folloed by certain individuls who are burning Harry Potter books in huge public bonfires. People have a right to express their thoughts and be different from the majority. If people prefer watching 7th Heavon to more risque programes that is their preorgative. No one is forced to watch Buffy or subscribe to the channel showing Sex In The City. Intolerance to other peoples choices is wrong period.
I still haven't forgot how concerned some people were when they believed one of the Tellutubies was gay and their was a world wide conspiracy to convert two year olds into homosexuals. These people are very strange anyway IMHO

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Argh -- yabyumpan, 08:15:56 03/25/02 Mon

I agree totally with what all the people in the above have said. My question is; what is the solution, is there one?
I live in the UK, we don't as yet have our own Jerry Falwell et al, at least not in the public eye. Although there has been quite a lot of controversy over here concerning some schools teaching Creationist theory and chucking out Darwin. I've been comming back to this thread for a couple of days and notice further down the talk has got into politics/capitalism/control of the media etc. I wonder how much of the problem isn't so much what is being said but that these groups have the resources/finance to get their view across.
I'm personally against any form of censorship and I think that using your resourses to get your point across when those with opposing view point don't have the same resourses is a form of censorship. It's a bit like defending yourself with a water pistol when the other person has a colt 45.
I don't know what the solution is, anybody got any thoughts?

Apologies for spelling mistakes and bad grammer, i've got mega insomnia at the momment and haven't slep for 36 hours (ahh poor me)

[> [> [> [> [> To Ian and the board -- Slayed_in_Manhattan, 22:55:25 03/25/02 Mon

As a former gay activist who was finally able to see that in hatred the left is actually worse than the right, it never ceases to amaze me just how hypocritial the left really is. There are certain issues that are absolutes with which the left can't argue. I support neither the right nor the left. The group that pretends to be the sole champion for freedom of speech (the left) actually does more to limit it through perverse political correctness and the new emerging thought police. What many on the left should really say is that they support your right to freedom of speech and won't try to shut you down only if you share their opinion. Dr Laura is a perfect example. The fact that you may not like what she says is irrelevent. The woman has a right to speak her mind regardless of your opinion of her. Joan Garry, Exec Director of GLAAD even stated that if Dr Laura couldn't be stopped, then she had to be controlled. Clearly controlling someone isn't the same as championing for them to have FREEDOM of speech. Hypocrisy abounds on the left, which is why I stopped being an advocate for so many groups like GLAAD. Anytime there is pressure to stop thinking as an individual and to think as a group, you have a problem. I suggest the book THE NEW THOUGHT POLICE by Tammy Bruce. She was also a former gay activist and president of LA's chapter of NOW. The book says it all.

This board is about Buffy.......LOL. As far as right wing people re: Buffy. I don't think it's as much about right wing as it is about idiots. These are the same idiots who criticize Harry Potter because there is witchcraft while letting their kids idolize Superman or watch Bewitched. It's all the same theme of superpowers/magic and it's utterly hypocritical. I will say that Buffy is not a show that kids should watch; however, making television the parent and advocating censorship is stupid. If you are the parent and you feel the show is inappropriate for little Timmy, then turn the TV off. This should be enough. It isn't America's responsibility to make sure your kid is or isn't watching Buffy.

I have a lot of problems with this season, many of which have already been discussed here. I've been a huge Buffy fan since the first episode, and while I acknowledge that change is good, we have this one loan season in which every character has been deconstructed to the most base state and it's sad that it so veers from 5 entire seasons of just what Buffyverse is! Everyone keeps saying that the season is about growing up and not to judge just yet until the end of the season. In the first place, everyone is moving in retrograde and the evidence that they are "growing up" just isn't there. I mean, Buffy tried to kill her friends last ep as a new low. Also, while there has been virtually no character development all season, the list of things that are supposed to transpire in 2 eps makes me a little queezy. Oh, well, I can hope.

[> [> [> [> Re: Thank you for respecting the parent! -- Whose the Hypocrite?, 23:43:05 03/25/02 Mon

"My husband was debating this when she came back with a response she obviously thought would shut him up: "Do you want the schools teaching your son (then an infant) that?" He shut HER up by stating, "If they don't, I will.""


But to force your view down his child is so wrong.

You are the intolerant one. You don't respect other parents. You force down your opinions down their children.

" I see my son walking into their world, the angrier I get. And the more I refuse to let them have him."

But you would "Take" other parents kids. You sound like the Nazi Now.

Oh, you are angry. All your hate is going to consume you some day.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Thank you for respecting the parent! -- Kimberly, 06:31:17 03/26/02 Tue

I don't force my opinions down other's throats. In fact, I will support their right to teach their children their beliefs with every fiber of my being. My real issue is when others try to tell me how and what to teach my son.

BTW, I wasn't actually supporting the curriculum. My point is that that is what we're teaching our son.

And I enjoy intelligent, polite debate.

[> [> [> Re: I am WAY too easily frustrated into the non verbal by this sort of thing, so.... -- yuri, 15:10:31 03/22/02 Fri

" CAN influence how they decide to perceive, accept, and interact with it."

YES!! My parents were extremely open with me about sexuality when I was very young, and talked frankly with me about the difference between real violence and violence on screen. It made me hundreds of times more able to process what I observed than all my friends who weren't allowed to watch rated R movies until they were thirteen.

The tragedy, however, is the amount of parents who aren't able to spend time with their kids because of poverty, illness, even ignorance to the need for their nurturing. They get looked down upon for not sufficiently influencing their children, but they are victims themselves.

[> Is anybody suprised? -- Traveler, 20:07:15 03/21/02 Thu

Well, groups that have an axe to grind will.. um.. grind their axes. People who think that non marital sex is evil will object to sex scenes in any show or movie. Bible thumpers (who totally missed the point the show) might well object to the demonic/witchy/lesbian aspects. I think these articles have been mentioned before on this board, but it's hard to discuss them, because they are not discussions of facts, characterizations, plot, etc. They are just people grinding their axes. I'll come up with a new phrase eventually. I really doubt UPN will do anything further to censor "Smashed."

[> Re: Right Wing Objections to BtVS -- Apophis, 20:10:30 03/21/02 Thu

A) I don't think "occultic" is a word.
B) No one involved in a sex scene on BtVS is 1) under 18 and 2) actually performing the act, so no "kiddie porn."
C) Comparing BtVS to pornography is just plain insulting. As a side note: if this guy's so moral and all, why does he know what porn is like anyway?
If you don't like a show, don't watch it. If you don't want your kids watching a show, don't let them. Sit down and shut up already.

[> [> Well said. -- Wisewoman, 20:34:39 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> Re: Right Wing Objections to BtVS -- shyviolet, 20:43:21 03/21/02 Thu

I could not agree more! people really need to chill out (for lack of better terms) and calm down. there are much worse things ont tv and in the movies that people can see freely. "Buffy" continues to puch the envelope, and that, in my opinion anyway, si part of what makes it such an incredible show. It is not fair that the show is getting singled out for "going too far" and the amazing cast is getting so overlooked. Anything that the show does, they do it in such an artistic and creative way. I am so far away from being a conservative, so perhaps I am a little biased- but i just think we'd all be a lot better off if we'd just relax and enjoy television for what it is- entertainment.

[> Quote without (much) comment -- OnM, 20:32:19 03/21/02 Thu

*** Lecturer, syndicated columnist, television commentator, debater, marketer, businessman, publisher and activist, L. Brent Bozell III, 46, is one of the most outspoken and effective national leaders in the conservative movement today. ***

(Italics mine -- OnM)

Sex is evil-- we get it already! Money and power, on the other hand...

The second article you link to was posted here before, back around the time it was first written, and generated much discussion.

Speaking solely for myself, I find few ways to have a rational conversation with individuals who think mythical beings are real, and that the 'occult rituals' associated with said imaginary creatures somehow constitute a 'threat'.

But then again, the Geek Chorus didn't initially seem like much of a threat either, and they're a lot closer to reality, at least in their level of very human arrogance.

[> [> Thanks for pointing that out OnM -- Rahael, 02:19:49 03/22/02 Fri

Without that little garnish of hypocrisy that article would have lacked something.

[> [> [> Re: As George Carlin once said - -- Dedalus, 07:42:17 03/22/02 Fri

On the subject of Christian conservatives on sex -

"Have you ever SEEN any of these people? My god, no wonder they're afraid of their bodies!"

[> Morons w/ Axes -- Eric, 21:26:06 03/21/02 Thu

I suppose my judgementalism is itself becoming a conservative value. And my judgement is that Fundementalists Are Basically Dangerous Morons. What is it with these people that violence in all its forms is considered acceptable but sex is not? I've seen some fairly grotesque acts of violence in BtVS (though often other shows pushed that envelope first) but we don't hear a murmur from these bozos about BtVS until Spike boinks Buffy? Even the primary objection to Willow's fawn whacking isn't based on the act but the occult motive behind it. As for Willow and Tara, its the most tasteful, well done same sex relationship on TV. (This from an unenlightened homophobe who HATED the idea initially.) The views put forth by these particular idiots is designed to ultimately make themselves a controlling force in whatever culture they belong to, to everyone else's detriment.

[> [> Re: Morons w/ Axes -- Corwin of Amber, 22:35:10 03/21/02 Thu

>I suppose my judgementalism is itself becoming a conservative value And my judgement is that Fundementalists Are Basically Dangerous Morons.

How is having and opinion and expressing it dangerous?

>What is it with these people that violence in all its forms is considered acceptable but sex is not?
Actually, a lot of fundamentalists/conservatives object to the violence on TV too. It's just that the violence has become so mainstream that people think you're nuts if you say anything about it.

>Even the primary objection to Willow's fawn whacking isn't based on the act but the occult motive behind it.

Without the occult motive, it's just slaughtering an animal.
Had a hamburger lately? Same thing.

> As for Willow and Tara, its the most tasteful, well done same sex relationship on TV.

I have to agree with you there. It's actually sweet, and not played for laughs or shock value.

[> [> [> Re: Morons w/ Axes -- SiWangMu, 02:30:28 03/22/02 Fri

"How is having and opinion and expressing it dangerous?"

It's not, but when there seems (unless I'm way off) to be an unspoken but implied desire or goal of controlling other people's ideas and opinions, I bristle.

Added to which, and I realize you stated your support of W/T, I have always considered homophobic, or for that matter racist or sexist opinions to be harmful.


I do not agree with the pro-life stance on abortion, but it makes perfect sense to me that people who honestly see it as murder wish to interfere with the practice.

Similarly, since I believe that homosexuality is both natural and healthy for at least some of the world's population, I am going to take opinions and expressions which directly contribute to the psychological and sometimes physical harm of gays as harmful and dangerous.

Please note that while it may seem I have contradicted my resistance to controlling people's opinions, I wish to imply the existence of a line that marks off some forms of speech which I consider as especially repellent (in this case, hate speech). I don't wish for any legal separation or limit on such, but I do mean to imply that some kinds of speech are harmful and I heartily wish didn't exist.

[> [> [> [> Please don't knock Morons as I frequently am one. -- manwitch, 03:54:39 03/22/02 Fri

What's interesting to me is the total failure of conservatives to recognize the real threats in Buffy. Its not depictions of sex on television, which, frankly, has been done before.

Its a strong single woman, from a broken family who runs the show in more ways than one. She undermines male authority and institutional authority at every turn. She values mystical knowledge more than scientific knowledge, and even that mystical knowledge is not Christian-based. Christian symbols have intrinsically no greater efficacy on the show than pagan, and non-Christian deities are invoked far more often. No priest is required to access them, and the only time church and explicitly biblical themes have been explored (Season 4) the show was intensely critical. It took six years for them to show an even remotely successful marital relationship, and no nuclear family on the show (father-mother-child) has ever been kindly portrayed. It values relationships based on openness and tolerance rather than accidents of paternity.

But they complain that they're seeing sex. Hey, they will never get sex off the television. If they want to obsess about that rather than focus on what's really challenging them, great.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Please don't knock Morons as I frequently am one. -- Eric, 05:34:44 03/22/02 Fri

I'm sure you meant that a strong woman with such attributes successfully used as a central figure is a threat to THEM and not Christian values or in general. And even the few arch conservatives among them realize that challenging anything on that grounds is sheer idiocy. Taking advantage of America's traditional fear of sex is a time proven method.
As for being a moron, don't be too hard on yourself. I'm a moron myself sometimes. But neither of us are professional morons. This keeps our axes, sharp as they may be, by the woodpile where they belong.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Yes, exactly. And strong women... -- manwitch, 06:29:31 03/22/02 Fri

Yes exactly. For how I personally understand christianity, christian values are not threatened, conservative values are.

You are very right. (As in correct rather than wing). I was thinking about that during my 2-freakin'- hour howling windy sub-zero commute this morning, and I think the reason they attack the sex is because they do feel threatened by the rest of it. But you don't motivate the kind of action they seek by having an intelligent argument about a smart show. You do it by rhetorically making the show seem cheap and demeaning and unwholesome. "Where's the good?" indeed!

It really seems a waste of time. The people that are fans of Buffy will never be persuaded not to be. The people that aren't fans of it by now, well, they have other things to do obviously. I know good people who don't watch it. they have other priorities. Fine.

But it just seems like a funny way to spend one's energy. People aren't "on the fence" about this show. And the advertisers know what it is and who watches it and where they spend their money.

My feeling anyway. I could be wrong again. I'm wrong a lot.

As for the strong woman thing, I find it very hard to watch shows or movies without them now. Even the last couple of Angel episodes, they were good and all, but I really miss Cordelia when she's not there. I think the show does too.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> lovin atpobtvs is eeaaseeey. -- yuri, 01:19:59 03/26/02 Tue

I'm referencing an alicia keys song here. A singer who I think misuses her talent. only the "caged bird" outro is asemotive and wondrous as she can be, I think. I'm sorry I'm helping elongate this already perversely extended thread futher with such O/T ramblings. Chalk me up as another who has posted very very intoxicated.

but I must. such feelings as my feelings right now I don't feel should be quite all the time, i'll get a good post out in the next few, hopefully.

wrong and strong, is what my choir teacher tells us. and hello, my shoes are on the wrong feet.

[> [> Re: Morons w/ Axes -- Slayed_in_Manhattan, 00:31:50 03/26/02 Tue

Eric, your logic is flawed. I would think that a fan arguing about the violent component of the show to be rather stupid considering the show has been violent since the beginning. Um, you know, the word "slayer" being in the title and everything? "Slayer" isn't exactly a feel good word. Arguing about this season's mind-numbingly stupid, meaningless sex between Spike and Buffy is COMPLETELY different. The gratuitous sex we've been privy to are clearly unhealthy as is this relationship with Spike. Clearly from the alley sex, physical violence and mind games you can see this. I would think the horror on Buffy's face during sexual encounters with Spike would be enough. But, ah, I digress. Not just sex, but everything really, that has no purpose in showing a story arc should be excluded. Now, I've thought about whether the sex between Spike and Buffy had a point in showing Buffy's self-destructive nature....considering this show's notoriously horrid record with story development this year coupled with mere 2 second intervals of alley sex, I'd say the sex actually detracted from the story and the possible real acting of seeing SMG deal with everything and become aloof...well, I guess they decided that 2 second sex scenes on a dumpster were better than actual compelling acting. Hhhhm, irony abounds. Nobody wins an emmy for that.

[> [> [> Re: Morons w/ Axes & Boinking -- Eric, 06:12:57 03/26/02 Tue

The basic complaint about the type of Spike boinking, nature of Spike boinking, and necessity of Spike boinking versus acting/writing quality is not an issue with Fundementalists. Its Spike boinking or boinking in general. I actually find the idea of Spike Boinking repellent because I'm not an unreserved Spike fan. But if it wasn't Spike it'd be Angel, Riley, or maybe Blade boinking. And the Fundementalists would still object. Violence, however, is only recently a focus for such groups (it helps bring in middle class soccer moms), and still not as much a problem to them as boinking.

[> I say "Give me the occult and raunchy sex, or give me death." -- Ian, 21:41:05 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> Amen -- Eric, 22:03:51 03/21/02 Thu

[> [> Re: "Please sir, may I have some more raunchy sex and death?" -- Amperage, 05:03:30 03/22/02 Fri

[> [> LOL, Ian. A motto to be proud of! -- Ixchel, 19:42:15 03/23/02 Sat

[> [> Re: I say "Give me the occult and raunchy sex, or give me death." -- Slayed_in_Manhattan, 22:57:03 03/25/02 Mon

I've heard this argument, but why do you want gratuitous sex if it does nothing for the story and isn't truly explained (due to lack of character development)? I have to say that all of the B/S shippers have frightened me all season and have revealed a scary element of their psyche. Hhhm, lots of people have built a "relationship" for B/S out of nothing more than sex on a dumpster and physical violence. I'm sorry, run by me again why you favor this relationship? The only thing we've seen this season is Buffy sinking into self-destructive behavior (illustrated by her complete meltdown to Tara, the look of horror on her face when she is having sex with Spike and her secretive attitude). If you care about Buffy's character, then why would you want to see her in this "relationship"? Raunchy, okay, I always thought Buffy was above this. There is no need for soap opera crap in a real show. Sex is fine, but having a purpose for it is nice. It doesn't make me want to watch even more when I see the character that I truly love, Buffy, with a look of horror on her face, having sex with Spike. In fact, in those 2 second meaningless encounters, I usually momentarily flip. If you care about Buffy's character, then you obviously wouldn't want her tangled with Spike. As much as I love Spike as well, this is yet another element that has been handled poorly this season.

[> Personally, right wingers should be madder that S6 sucks. -- BuddyL, 01:35:46 03/22/02 Fri

[> [> Re: Does not. Well, it does, but only makes us watch more. -- LeeAnn, 02:34:05 03/22/02 Fri

[> [> [> Re: Does not. Well, it does, but only makes us watch more. -- beekeepr, 03:08:52 03/22/02 Fri

Twas ever thus...there will ever be morally superior twits insinuating themselves where they are superfluous. Attempting to reason with is an exercise in futility, not to mention raising one's bp. Relegate to status of rodents derriere-don't give one.

[> [> [> [> Re: Does not. Well, it does, but only makes us watch more. -- beekeepr, 03:12:16 03/22/02 Fri

oops-punchy--referring to rightwingers, not you, Leeanne!

[> [> Re: S6 -- Robert, 12:39:02 03/22/02 Fri

>> "Personally, right wingers should be madder that S6 sucks."

Would you care to explain? This usage of "suck" is rather inflammatory.

[> I tried to email the author... -- JennaGrace, 03:22:33 03/22/02 Fri

I am a newbie at this board and this is my first post. I felt very annoyed with the hypocrisy of this article's author, in particular because I am in the middle of reading The Old and New Testaments for school. So, I naivly decided to email the author and tell him off. The email wouldn't go through, but here's basically what I wanted to say.

"I read your column on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Buffy:Call it Irresponsible" on a posting board that discusses the philosophy of the programme. While I have little desire to go into all of the details of my strong disagreement with your article, I will say this. You seem to be obsessed with two things: Christian "morality" and Buffy. Your inability to understand the underlying message of hope and love inherent in Buffy (as shown in the main character's self-sacrifice and in the show's portrayal of family, friendship, and redemption) does not surprise me. After all, you misunderstand or simply choose to ignore fundamental themes that serve as the foundation for the New Testament. Didn't Jesus himself say: "Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye" (Matthew 7.1).
I find your ramblings to be amusing and harmless, but I thought of this passage while reading your article and the hypocrisy became annoying. Take care of your own unhealthy obsessions with pornography and the occult before presuming to judge your fellow human beings.

There, now it's off my back and I can go away feeling all superior and silly for caring about this article at all. Isn't it funny that these right wing, illogical ramblings often make even the most irreverent and unreligious people feel as though they are back in 3rd grade having their hands slapped with a ruler by Sister Mary Whoever?

[> [> Re: I tried to email the author... -- km2, 06:45:39 03/22/02 Fri

The right-wing media hogs do not speak for Christendom, no matter what they think. Buffy is a show rich in imagery and metaphor, religious and otherwise, and to dismiss it as too sexual and demonic, without examining the intent of the show, is to encourage the view of Christians as a bunch of narrow-minded morons. I don't think that Buffy presents evil as good, or good as evil, but it does remind us that those qualities are not always so easily determined. Buffy at its best is a challenging show, and at its worst is still better than much of the bilge out there, so this "fundamentalist" plans to keep watching it.

[> [> Re: I tried to email the author... -- clg0107, 11:42:15 03/25/02 Mon

Mine went through...

My point had to do with the fact that Marti Noxon, herself, has been quoted many times as saying that the show is not for young kids, and that parents should watch with the older ones. They can either turn off the TV, or take the opportunity to discuss what they've seen.

I also specifically called out that much of this season has been about the BAD decisions that people make when they are hurting emotionally. There's a context, and you have to understand it in order to, critically.

FWIW to the discussion board, I am a Christian and basically socially and politically conservative. Right-of-center, anyway, not really right-wing. And, when my mom visits, I tape it and watch later -- she'd be uncomfortable with at least some of what's addressed, and that's fine. But (obviously, since I'm here), the author of the article doesn't speak for all of us.

As far as I'm concerned, the thoughtful construction of the show and it's world, both philosophically and artistically, makes it good entertainment. I do think that there's a lot of crap on TV, and I wish that less of it was made, for a variety of reasons, including "suitability". All things considered, I think that entertainment that is designed primarily to appeal to people's basest instincts is a cop out, and creates a panorama of competitive degradation that makes anyone "normal" or "average" or a member of a functional family seem wildly out of the mainstream. It's a distorted view, of course, but when kids are trying to figure out who they are and what's good and bad in the world, acceptable and unacceptable, that kind of distortion can have it's effect. So, generally, I'd rather see TV that uplifts than that degrades.

But in the end, what parents say and do is a much more important input in forming (either for good or ill) the world view and moral code of their children than any other. And when an intelligent, if materially challenging, show comes along...there's a lot of great discussions that can be sparked by them. And, in the end, communicating with your kids is a pretty good thing, I figure!

I don't know that I'd let a 12-year-old watch -- perhaps just a bit too much information, but by 14 and 16 -- bring on the opportunities to talk, about whatever!!


[> [> [> My email went thru too, but don't know how much good it'll do! -- Scroll, 12:18:40 03/25/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> Re: My email went thru too, but don't know how much good it'll do! -- clg0107, 14:36:46 03/25/02 Mon

Well, exposing your critics to your perspective, politely, at least exposes them. It's not likely to change their views, but then again, if enough reasoned replies say "you're being hasty", a reasonable person (of whatever political stripe) might just begin to wonder if they have been a little hasty.


[> Isn't it odd... -- Lilac, 06:08:05 03/22/02 Fri

that the guy objects to the fully dressed simulated sex, but not to the fact that Spike and Buffy had been beating the stuffing out of each other before they got to that point? That was what I found disturbing when I first saw that scene, the link between sex and violence. Makes perfect sense for those two characters as they have been developed, and we all know because both of them are not mere mortals, they weren't going to be damaged by it. But I did think, "man, I hope no one is letting their kids watch this without discussing this with them". But, what the critic objects to is when they finally do stop hurting one another.

I am also sick of the male characters in Buffy being criticized as weak. This criticism assumes that if the male is not in control, running the show, something must be wrong with him. The characters they criticize, and I will assume they mean mostly Giles and Xander as Riley is cut directly from the patriarchal bolt, are both very strong men. They fight the good fight all the time, rushing into battles they are really not equipped to win. Xander works hard at a "real" job and spends his free time getting bashed around in defense of the world. Giles was a solid father figure not only for the girl he was assigned to guide, but for her friends who also needed him. Not the kind of father who tells children what to do, when, and how, but one who listens and offers support and direction when its needed. What's not commendable about that?

[> [> Couldn't agree more, Lilac, with both of your points. -- Ixchel, 19:44:46 03/23/02 Sat

[> [> [> Re: Couldn't agree more, Lilac, with both of your points. -- Arethusa, 13:43:35 03/26/02 Tue

Me too. Isn't it creepy the way so many men in America think the man should do all the leading and thinking, while the wife should submit to his all-knowing splendiferousness?

[> speech guys -- Rendyl, 07:55:23 03/22/02 Fri

This comes up every so often and everyone seems to miss the point. We all have an opinion. We all get to express our opinions. That includes websites, writers, and journalists with a conservative viewpoint. Like it or not they have as much right to voice an opinion as any of us do.

One article cited was from the Concerned Women for America website. The site lists pornography (okay, maybe stopping pornography-grin) as a topic of interest. I don't sweat the sex or violence on TV because I choose what my child watches. If I don't like a program then she just does not watch it. However, I do understand the frustration some parents feel at (early in the evening) turning on 70- odd cable channels and discovering that yet again, the only thing the young kids can safely watch is Steve wrestling crocodiles or Dexter's Lab.

I agree most people seem not to get it. But they have that right. There is no law that says anyone - has- to be open minded about sex or any of the other issues many TV shows address lately. Sometimes the dissenting viewpoint is not always a popular one. Nothing keeps any of us from flashing up a high-profile website with an opposing view from the conservative sites. We are all on a well-done website now, with discussions, articles, and information supporting our collective view of Buffy and the issues the show brings up. The people with a more conservative ideology are entitled to the same.


[> [> Yes, but. -- Sophist, 08:22:15 03/22/02 Fri

The speech on this board is not intended to prevent the speech of others. Bozo III's (did I get the name right?)article was intended to generate political support for suppression of speech. And for suppression of the values expressed on BtVS which I happen to hold very highly.

Now, this is a democracy, and he has the right to urge political action on any topic. But I can still identify his behavior as immoral in the double sense of trying to prevent other speech and trying to promote what I consider an immoral message of intolerance. That's my right of free speech to criticize him.

[> [> [> Re: Sophist, well, well, well said -- Dedalus, 08:37:10 03/22/02 Fri

[> [> [> Re: Yes, but. -- Rendyl, 09:52:47 03/22/02 Fri

At what point does he urge any kind of political action in regards to BTVS? He sounds off about it, but I did not read where he forbid anyone to watch it. Yes, you do have the right to critize him, but he has the same right.


[> [> [> [> Bozell is a conservative political activist who on other occasions supports censorship. -- Sophist, 10:52:13 03/22/02 Fri

It's merely my assumption, but I think a reasonable one based upon other knowledge, that he is furthering that goal here.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Bozell is a conservative political activist who on other occasions supports censorship. -- JM, 20:58:30 03/22/02 Fri

Well, if the subject is strictly the broadcast medium, I think there is room for honest, patriotic debate. Frankly, I've got two opinions, one that the world is the better for Buffy in it, and I've personally savored every semi-graphic sexual instance this season. On the other hand I think that everything short of national defense ought to be privatized. The existence of the FCC means that there is a medium that will always advance the views of the establishment. However those views may vary from decade to decade.

Bozell and others have a right to maintain what they think that establishment should espouse. Unless their views win at the ballot box, they will never be establishment. Also, naively, I have no idea of the legal and practical logistics required to fully pritavize access to the airwaves. I'm an idealist, not a politician. I will now commense the dance of captialist superiority. I just hope my groom will not leave me at the altar. If he does I'm changing the locks and keeping all his stuff as compensatory damages.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Fair points and I agree in part -- Sophist, 10:28:11 03/23/02 Sat

I do agree that the FCC regulates for content, and that Bozell has the same right to influence that regulation as I do. I tried to acknowledge that in my first post. My real point is that I consider Bozell immoral in his attempts to exert such influence, in part because I consider his goals immoral. That's ok; I'm sure he'd think the same of me.

The question of regulation is very complex. There is a third option beyond the 2 you mentioned: let the FCC regulate the business aspects of broadcast TV, but not the content. That seems to me more consistent with the First Amendment, but the line is not always easy to draw.

Technology is probably moving in a libertarian direction. If there are enough channels and options, the economic pressure to permit niche marketing becomes enormous. Bozell can watch PAX and I'll stick with Buffy.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fair points and I agree in part -- Ian, 11:58:48 03/23/02 Sat

Sophist raises a good point about the FCC: "...let the FCC regulate the business aspects of broadcast TV, but not the content. That seems to me more consistent with the First Amendment...."

As far as the privatization of the airwaves, I have to strongly disagree. The airwaves, and indeed even the air, are not in actuality a commodity. They are a resource, and one that all people, even non-wealthy property holders, depend upon. By privatizing such a fundamental resource, the airwaves would be owned by a person, not by The People. Communication and the free dissemination of information constitute the lifeblood of any democracy. Allowing private ownership of this lifeblood can hardly strengthen the egalitarian ideals upon which the US was founded.

Although I have heard many, many arguments ascribing inherently democratic values to capitalism, capitalism remains no more than a highly efficient economic model: Tit for tat and all that. I am unaware of any ethical strictures for this model, or safeguards against the misuse of power by the very rich. In a democracy, there has to be some corrective instrument in place to keep it a democracy, which of course is where the government, for and by the people, steps in.

That said, I agree that the government isn't doing a wonderful job with its mission, but the solution to this is not to dissolve it, but to fix it. I somehow doubt that Rupert Murdoch is super-concerned with your access to unbiased information that enables you to be an effective citizen; Rupert is far more concerned with the self aggrandizing pursuit of fabulous wealth.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fair points and I agree in part -- Sophist, 12:21:50 03/23/02 Sat

If the broadcast spectrum is limited, then your point about ownership is valid. Technical progress may eliminate that bottleneck, in which case it makes sense to establish a market for that commodity.

The morality of capitalism? Hmm. That's a major topic. Adam Smith was a moral philosopher, more well known in his own day for his Theory of Moral Sentiments than for The Wealth of Nations. Part of his argument in the latter book, however, was a moral one: that repeated dealings between merchants led to improved moral behavior. That is, the desire to make money more than once would assure moral behavior because no one would repeat business with a fraud. He also pointed out that government subsidies usually went to the rich at the expense of the poor; not much has changed there.

On the other hand, this is hardly all there is to moral behavior (which Smith well knew). Have you read Marx's Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844? I recommend them, along with Shlomo Avineri's Karl Marx: Social and Political Thought and, from the other side, Jerry Muller's Adam Smith in his time and ours. All address the moral aspects of capitalism.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I have to agree with Ian... -- Scroll, 12:54:18 03/23/02 Sat

about the problems inherent in privatizing the airwaves. I don't have any actual points to back up my beliefs except that every time people try to privatize, the Big Rich Companies controlled by an elect wealthy group end up doing everything their way. I'm afraid I don't really understand politics and business all that well, it's just that in my area of the world, there's been growing movement to privatizing practically *everything* and it's ruining our economy! (sorry, end rant.)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fair points and I agree in part -- TRM, 14:44:01 03/23/02 Sat

Coming from a very capitalist university, the issue that I've often faced with the privatization of the airwaves isn't a question of it being a commodity or a resource.

What becomes an issue is that airwaves are a public good (television sets and radios, however are not). You can't really conceivably restrict people from receiving airwaves. Anyone with access to a radio or a television set can get it. Once you start broadcasting, anyone can receive it. The problem, of course, is that if I don't have to pay for programming (assuming someone else will), then why should I? Indeed, applying this to all consumers, no one would be willing to pay, but with no income stream no one would be willing to provide. This is known as the free rider problem (compare it with national defense). Indeed, we don't actually pay for certain limited broadcasts in the United States (not so in France, for example, where they have a television tax).

What actually happens in our case is that advertising revenues are paying for programming. To some degree then, broadcast television is reacting to demand by advertisers. In some way then, programming is targeted to the wealthy because advertisers are targeting the wealthy and therefore programming on TV is more likely to be what the wealthy want, not what the poor necessarily want. Nonetheless, the poor have access to the airwaves.

As Sophist argued, there are moral justifications for capitalism. Adam Smith's invisible hand:

[He is] led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.

Indeed, look at public radio and what subsidies the government is giving. The government subsidizes news, jazz, and classical music. All fine and good, but the question is who is this important to anyway? Who are the people that demand news, jazz, and classical music? If you look at the breakdown of the listeners, you'll note that the wealthy are the ones who tend to listen to these genres. How about rap and hip-hop, things that can arguably be associated with the culture of those on the streets? Why doesn't our government subsidize them? In some part, because the private radio stations are already providing them. If you want to make value judgments on classical versus rap, I'll leave that to you, but I will personally not assert that one is better than the other. I may have my preferences as to what I listen to, but I don't think either holds more inherent value.

But you are right. Capitalism is concerned with economic efficiency. In general, capitalism is more concerned with what is considered "social welfare" as opposed to "equity" and the role of government does step in here. What that means, is, assuming that everyone has the same utility for money, a capitalist would be happy to give $2 to a wealthy person if it means taking away $1 from a poor person, because society in general increases its wealth by $1. Equity concerns take such considerations as to what level of society these people are in and generally value $2 in the hands of a wealthy person less than $1 in the hands of a poor person. However, even equity poses ethical dilemmas. If you could raise the income, say of a middle income family by $10,000 at the expense of a penny to a poor family, would you do so?

Regardless of which, privatizing the airwaves doesn't seem to have that much of an equity concern. Indeed, it appears that the politicking of subsidies have made it such that privatizing would indeed afford the poor greater equity than the government currently does.

The role of the FCC, particularly in terms of censoring broadcasts, is an entirely different thing. Here we come to the question of information asymmetries. People generally do not have time to learn everything they can about a program. It would perhaps be better if I stick to advertisements than move into programming because that would make this simpler (though advertisements fall largely under the FTC).

Suppose an advertiser makes a claim that something is "less fattening than the original." What does that mean? About five years ago, Klondike came out with a "lite" version of their bar. Indeed, one serving had less calories than the original, but one serving of their bar was also smaller than the original. The fat content/weight of them both were practically the same. In such instances, the government tries to protect the consumers from receiving false advertisements. Indeed, it is stepping in with a value judgment though. It does believe that many consumers will be misled and is therefore questioning the intelligence of consumers.

And thus, we step from something that seems obvious (as per above), into the sticky ground of censoring programs, the line which Sophist acknowledges "is not always easy to draw." Because what in effect is misleading programming?

NOTE: Before I continue, I'm not trying to promote the conservative agenda here! I will present some of their arguments though. PLEASE DON'T NECESSARILY ASSOCIATE THIS WITH ME.

Even to agree that parents should be responsible for what their children watch, it has been brought up by some posters that some parents, particularly low-income parents, don't have the time to supervise or discuss the programming they watch with their children. They don't have enough time to gather the information. One step -- indeed a much more proper role for government -- is to provide this information to the parents and then allow them to act on it. The cause for movie ratings (which is actually done privately) and the proposal for ratings on television programs. Another option, however, is for government to get this information, evaluate it, and act upon it in lieu of the consumers. Such is the case with the restriction of prescription medications (here under the realm of the FDA), where the government believes that patients are often so interested in a cure or lack the resources that they don't properly evaluate the risks of untested medication -- there's been a recent backlash that the faster approval to AIDS medications are putting AIDS patients at unnecessary risk, though that,s a tangent

Going back to television, what,s a government to do? If a program requires parents to supervise or discuss with their children, perhaps a government may have a legitimate role in not allowing it to be broadcast at a time and in a medium where it can be easily accessible to children without this guidance. Whereas we may object to it, perhaps moving Buffy to a different time-slot or moving Buffy to cable television (which is pay and does therefore prevent the poor from watching it which is an equity consideration, but allows parents the option to restricting it from children through not getting cable) or allowing something such as a V-chip to block the programming may be what,s called for. Such actions give parents greater regulatory control over what their children are watching.

Buffy is close to our hearts, and so its difficult to examine it objectively. Let,s on the other hand consider a program that espouses violent action to protect the environment. While these people have a right to say what they want, it may not be the best idea to give them a timeslot during primetime, especially if the title of the program may seem misleading like "The Fight to Save Our Trees". The argument isn,t complete censorship, it,s adjusting the accessibility. It,s why people are allowed to say certain words on cable but not on broadcast television. The words aren't banned across the US, just on a children-accessible medium.

So there you have it. Privatization is not necessarily bad and may even lead to more equitable results than government regulation, though individual efforts may not be to do so. The FCC,s role in interfering with the market is based on a mix of market and moral concerns. The market decides what they want, they have a demand for a certain level of morality, particularly with respect to what their children watch yet the consumers aren,t faced with enough information to choose what programs to let their children watch (The conservatives would have you imagine a 12-year old child whose mother works until 10 asking her mother if she could watch "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the mother not knowing what the show is about at all). To what degree the FCC is justified in doing this is a subjective question. Ultimately, however, the argument that airwaves should remain public and the argument that the FCC should regulate the airing of Buffy aren,t far too different. Note that if the apparent elitism that occurs with public radio is applied to television programming (which for approximately 15 20 channels are private, including UPN), Buffy probably would never have made it onto the air.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> My opinions on the matter... -- TRM, 15:16:09 03/23/02 Sat

I feel that I've been using this little "not my opinion" escape clause quite often, so I thought I'd throw in my actual two cents on this topic.

I think that as with the case of government regulation/privatization, people often get swept up into the whole: good or bad region. Moderation and constant reevaluation I always thought of as the key. So certainly, don't dismantle our government system and leave it to private forces. And certainly, let's not become a completely government run state (which varies anything from dictatorship to communism). Case by case, issue by issue. It's somewhat long and does cost resources, but I think it's worth it.

With respect to Buffy. I certainly think Buffy is quality programming (I would hardly devote so much time to the program if I didn't). I certainly think that it is also a good program to show children with a certain experience level. A 6 year old shouldn't be watching Buffy, a 21 year old certainly can... a 12 year old, again: case by case. What does this 12 year old know already and how soon is it likely that this 12 year old should know?

Buffy lies at the core of a question, that I've seen as: "How to teach a child to lead a good life?" In La Princesse des Clèves, as I'm sure in other works, two methods have been proposed: isolate the child from all negative influences or introduce the child to all the dangers and tell the child how to deal with them. (In the book, neither of these really worked out all too well, but this book is also highly ambiguous in interpretation). I tend to be more of the latter category with the caveat that it is done at the appropriate time. If I were to have a child, which I don't, I would much rather sit through Buffy with him/her and discuss the decisions that the character made, how I interpret them not only on this whole philosophical sense but also on a moral and an ethical sense -- what would I do as Buffy? what would you do? If we have differing opinions, why and can we resolve them? Indeed, Buffy, because of much of the moral ambiguity that is in it presents a great forum for such discussion. Yet, I did make the caveat of proper timing, and I do believe that at certain stages, Buffy should not be watched because some children don't really have the faculty yet to examine it properly.

If a conservative argument exists to ban Buffy entirely, I am entirely opposed. However, if some conservatives wish to make arguments that Buffy's time slot is inappropriate, I will listen. I may not fully agree, but I will give his argument some merit. Bringing control to the parents is an important goal. Though, subversive as I am, bringing complete control to parents is also something to be watched against. Which is not to say that the government should have the control, but it is to say that children too need a forum for discussion and that, as parents, many are in ways distanced from their children. Thus, to some degree, perhaps some things that I would deem as "inappropriate" for my child to see should be shown to my child -- I believe I do not have the answer, and I believe that at times my child may have a clearer picture on some aspects of his/her life than I would... if I had a child... which I do not.

Well, that's about it. I'm not about to divide all people who think that Buffy should be in some degree regulated into the fanatical reactionary (and frightening) conservative category. I believe there are moderate conservatives out there that may be unhappy with Buffy for some reason who I believe can discuss the issue intelligibly. Whether I've found them...

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: My opinions on the matter... -- Sophist, 16:00:12 03/23/02 Sat

We've now drifted into 2 separate issues here. I'm only going to respond here to the in loco parentis argument you make for government control of content.

The principal problem with the "protect the children" argument (which is really a "make life simpler for the parents" argument) is that it cuts too far. Children come in all ages. To argue for a standard that protects 4 year olds would be to limit TV to Barney and Sesame Street. But there is nothing in the logic of the argument which would draw the line at any age above that.

Another problem is that this argument implicitly endorses one particular method of child-raising, namely, the see no evil approach. If I, as a parent, want my child to see the alternatives and understand why we do and don't do certain things, I have had my parental rights infringed by the so- called protection. This is true even if the show is shoved to a later time rather than banned altogether.

Ultimately, all of us have to face the fact that our children will be exposed to things we'd prefer to avoid. For example, I would prefer that my children not be exposed to Jerry Falwell. If we get into a contest about whose children get protected, we are just imposing our standards on others. The only way for it to work is to accept that the world is full of differences and explain them to the children.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: My opinions on the matter... -- TRM, 17:11:20 03/23/02 Sat

I certainly am not arguing with your method of child-rearing, in fact, I believe that I endorsed that earlier -- that is, that I believe children should be introduced to the dangers of society rather than shielded from them in hopes that they never run into it.

I think the principal issue is to what degree do we endorse either parenting style. You claim that pushing Buffy into a later time slot is tantamount to endorsing the "See no evil" parenting principle. On the other hand, leaving Buffy in its present time slot is also tantamount to endorsing the principle of introduction (as I will call it). As I've mentioned I support the principle of introduction, but because I support the principle does not mean that I would enforce this principle on others.

I think Buffy is perfectly fine where it is, but if a moderate conservative were to tell me that they would prefer that Buffy be shown at 10, because if I wanted to show my child Buffy I can tape it and show it to them, but he/she couldn't prevent her child from watching Buffy because they work until say 9pm, I would consider that person's argument valid.

You are talking about drawing lines, and ultimately that's where the issue lies. I see nothing wrong with normal pornagraphy -- I don't watch it, but if someone likes pornagraphy fine. But we generally don't insist that pornagraphers can broadcast their shows on broadcast television -- we restrict them to cable. Here is a simple situation where I believe most parents would agree and putting it in a place inaccessible to children hardly makes an impact.

But, would you suggest airing Buffy at 4pm? After school viewing? Probably not. 8pm is a more acceptable time. Is 10pm even more acceptable? In terms of preventing children from watching it is, but in terms of allowing children to watch it, it isn't. So where do you draw the line? That's the question. As I said, I endorse moderation, not taking things to extremes. If we were to take things to extremes we would be facing your option of TV acceptable to 4 year olds versus adult material being shown on broadcast stations. Rather, I say draw a line. Where is the line? 8pm seems good to me, but I'm open to other's opinions. Discussion among opposing parties is the only way to resolve this, not polarization.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Line drawing -- Sophist, 20:40:05 03/23/02 Sat

I know that you accept the introduction principle. I wasn't challenging that.

If we move Buffy to a later time slot, my (and your) method of parenting has been negated. If we leave it on at 8, I can follow mine and the fundamentalist can follow his by not letting his children watch. The situation is asymmetric.

My larger point, though, is that the see no evil principle cannot possibly work. There are too many evils defined by different people in different ways. Many of these are mutually exclusive. In effect, I'm denying that the see no evil principle can or should work.

The problem with censorship, even if adopted democratically, is that it is undemocratic. It violates the first principle of government. A democracy functions with the idea that a majority rules, but only for so long as it is a majority. If this were not the case, we would have no democracy, but a tyranny imposed by the temporary majority of a given moment.

Once we recognize this, we must acknowledge that the current minority has the right to try to convince the majority to change it's mind. If a majority tries to censor communication, it is denying to the minority the right to use the arguments it deems best to convince the majority. In other words, the majority is trying to freeze it's rule into place undemocratically.

In order to function, democracy needs rules, just like a baseball game. For example, it needs a rule that the majority can't vote for a dictator. If it did, the democracy would cease to exist. Free speech is one of those rules. It seems, in the short run, to be inconsistent with democratic rule, but in the long run it is the only way to maintain democracy.

It is precisely because I favor "discussion among opposing parties" that I can't agree to letting someone else limit my participation in that discussion.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Sophist, is your brain so big your neck gets sore? I'd believe it. :) -- Ian, 22:09:52 03/23/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Line drawing -- TRM, 08:25:18 03/24/02 Sun

Sorry, as we know from the smiley discussion a while back, sometimes simple text lacks proper intonation. =) I will try not to misread.

The fundament of democracy in my eyes, in fact, isn't majority rule. It's freedom. And freedom implies choice -- that I can choose what to believe, that I can choose to speak, etc. We do have limits on our rights. Our rights are limited to the degree that they do not infringe on other people's rights. If my religion condones thievery, my right to practice thievery, practice my beliefs, ends where your right to property begins. But that means that line drawing occurs -- because to some degree your right to property infringes on my right to religious freedom. We have to draw a line somewhere.

I agree with your stance that minority opinions are important, even fundamental in keeping our democracy running. I further agree that the wholesale banning of programming is censorship and goes against our democracy. That is, when we do engage in line drawing, line drawing should not be drawn to extremes.

And once again, I highly agree with your arguments against the see no evil approach. I believe my child should be introduced to whatever gray areas exist in the world, I want to seem not only like a sounding board for my child so that my child can speak and discuss with me questions that he/she has. Indeed, I want to be more proactive than a sounding board and help give my child the faculties to evaluate gray areas, so that my child doesn't need to see me if he/she runs into gray areas so my child can function properly on her own.

I don't want to argue for the other side, for the "see no evil" approach, because I simply do not accept it. Nonetheless, the way I usually view dissention, is that if we can argue down to a few basic set of assumptions than of themselves are subjective and our disagreement lies in those basic assumptions, I will buy that the other person has a different opinion and a different conclusion. Since we don't have someone here arguing the "see no evil" approach, I will take it that there is someone out there whose basic assumptions differ from mine and where "see no evil" is to some degree appropriate. I will not assume that I am correct. Note further, that the argument to push certain programming later in the evening also does not require a wholesale advocacy of the "see no evil" approach. Indeed, to some degree in the fact that I wouldn't introduce my six year old child to Buffy means that I believe that in the development of a child that all information introduced randomly to a child is not the best method to raise a child. My reasoning here, which I alluded to in another post, is for contextualizing -- to some degree a parent must supplement a child's analytical skills until that child develops it on his/her own. Ultimately, we are once again moving back not to a question of whose conclusion is superior, but the fact that we both have rights to our own conclusions, our own beliefs.

The rights we are dealing with here is the right to raise our children as we see fit. Much of this lies in control -- not from the government but that allowed to the parents. To what degree can I control what my child watches. You assert that pushing programming to a later time slot prevents us from practicing our parenting approach and that is equivalent to wholesale censorship. Thus, by allowing this degree of the "see no evil" approach, we are implicitly engaging in wholesale censorship. On the other hand, leaving programming at an earlier time slot allows for both approaches, a "see no evil" parent can simply turn off the television. This is probably the basic assumption where we disagree.

I don't believe that the parents involved have that degree of control. While turning off the television sounds simple, it's not always possible. On the other hand, my alternate method is equally accusable: that videotaping a program sounds simple, but not always possible. Once again, this is why line drawing occurs. What time do we air this piece of programming? To what extent can I assert my form of parental control while not infringing on your form of parental control?

It seems that we have arrived at the question therefore of what programming gets pushed back and what doesn't. Ultimately, it does lie in some degree to a value judgment: the complexity of the work. What work requires contextualization, indeed where the guidance of a parent is important and what works don't? Why do I choose this particular point? Because the topic at hand we're discussing is how we raise our children. This, as I've noted, is once again a value judgment, which means once again we've moved into the area which is neither black nor white. Discussion.

It seems that often in political debates, opposing parties polarize and go into an "all or nothing" debacle. The "reactionary conservatives" say ban all Buffy, burn Harry Potter. But the left is no less culpable. Leave Buffy in the time slot that it's in, the conservatives have to deal with it. In so doing, we assert our decision over theirs without consideration of give and take.

It's all about zero sum games. Don't play them. Which is to say that, in an argument, it's not a question of who is right, but a question of how to arrive at a resolution -- one which can potentially suit both our needs. A refusal to listen, a jump to attack dissenters simply because we fear that our rights are being limited is counterproductive. We fail to consider the other party because we move into the defensive and we dig ourselves into a deeper hole, once we get into this stance. Indeed, this encourages the other party to react similarly. If we insist it's all or nothing, they have no choice but to choose one or the other and their choice is likely to be the polar opposite of ours.

Sorry for the extended posts again. I need to learn to be more concise! =)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> ulterior motives and your revolution is banned dot com. -- yuri, 12:04:29 03/24/02 Sun

note to Sophist and TRM: I always enjoy both of your posts and especially this last series. The one point that I feel like you haven't brought up in your discussion of censorship is that very often censorship by the government has ulterior motives that are much stronger than the reason they purort to be the cause of the censorship. Okay, bad sentence, but I think you see what I'm saying.

I mean the argument seems to be whether or not television and radio stations that are available to the public should be given moral guidelines based on one faction's concept of morality. However, I would say that the underlying cause for much censorship is not morality, but an agenda to keep the country thinking and acting the way that the people in power want them to. No sex is a big part of that, but so is thinking outside of the box or rejecting consumerism and social norms, and material that promotes sentiments like these are targeted even more than supposed explicitly sexual or violent material.

As a little support for my argument, which I'm a little excited about because I rarely have it, I give you Your Revolution is Banned dot com. This poem was played on one radio station once and promptly banned by the FCC from being played on the airwaves. They ruled that it had "indecent language," when in truth it uses the same language found in many popular rap songs being played on the radio, except in this context it is condemning its use! And here's the kicker - the only other artist ever to be given a similar ruling by the FCC is eminem, I think we all have an idea of the intensity of his lyrics, and he got his revoked a little while ago.

Whaddya think?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I just placed my order for the CD single. Thanks for the link. -- Mr. "I think Free Speech is Groovy" Ian, 14:15:25 03/24/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> wonderful! -- yuri, 01:08:58 03/26/02 Tue

if she's ever in your area (whatever your area might be) you should see her. She's amazing.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: My opinions on the matter... -- LeeAnn, 18:07:02 03/23/02 Sat

The purpose is to get conservatives to put pressure on UPN so they will put pressure on ME so ME will change the story lines so they elminate elements conservatives find offensive.
So the lesbian storyline ends.
So magic becomes "bad."
So the pressure worked.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> holy shite, she's right. -- yuri, 23:13:33 03/24/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Information asymmetries -- Sophist, 16:14:21 03/23/02 Sat

There is fine line between an information asymmetry and fraud. No theory of free speech would justify fraud. While I understand this in a commercial context, I don't see either doctrine as applicable to Buffy or any other show. What is the relevant point of asymmetry? Demons? Sex? Violence? Humor? Short dresses? Libraries? Single parents? Peroxide hair? The possibilities are infinite. That's why these doctrines can't apply to the show itself.

The First Amendment is another issue.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I'm just way too intimidated to even respond to a post titled "Information asymmetries" -- Ian, 16:33:15 03/23/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Information asymmetries -- TRM, 17:46:15 03/23/02 Sat

Sorry, a simple explanation of information asymmetries is this:

Under a perfectly running capitalist system, people have perfect information and therefore can make optimal decisions.

Information asymmetries implies that people don't have perfect information and therefore some of their decisions are suboptimal.

That's about it.

A common example is with used cars. Because I don't know everything about your car I don't know how much to pay for it. But you do, so you could price accordingly... or not. I'll not go on with the pricing problems that arise from this though (more complicated than you think!).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Information asymmetries -- TRM, 17:36:26 03/23/02 Sat

The product we're looking at is programming, the consumer is parents (for their children). The information that needs to be evaluated, our primary hope is by the parents, is the appropriateness of the programming for their children -- a very complex thing indeed. But parents don't always have the resources to evaluate the programming; perhaps they are too busy, perhaps they don't have the skill.

FCC regulation is not simply about disapproval but of approval, and one might imagine -- one would expect if the FCC is reliable by our standards -- that Buffy be approved by the FCC as being appropriate programming. Nor is regulation equivalent to censorship. Rating systems, which I endorse -- not because I would blindly follow them, but because I believe they provide important information to those who don't have enough time to evaluate a program on their own -- is one method of regulation. Indeed, Buffy itself promotes this with its "suitable for..." message before the episode.

Parents are faced with the question "May I watch ...?" everyday. What are they to respond if they've never watched a show? Buffy has a relatively unassuming title -- without knowledge of the show, how would someone know it deals with sexual issues? As a parent and decision maker how do you respond if you do not have the time to monitor your child? Indeed, I may be more inclined to tell my child no since I have no idea whatsover. A rating system would certainly give some information -- it could be flawed but probably better to no information at all.

This is the justification I give for the FCC evaluating television programming.

Before I hear a criticism of rating systems, I acknowledge that they are imperfect. How can you condense the complexities of a show like Buffy into a set of numbers? It's imperfect -- but they're not binding. Further, rating systems come in various varieties and it would be an issue on how to form an appropriate one. Certainly, something that rates the amount of violence and sexual content is less subjective. It needs careful consideration.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Information is not a commodity -- Sophist, 21:06:47 03/23/02 Sat

For reasons set forth more completely in my post above, speech occupies a special position in a democracy. For that reason, regulation of speech is, in fact, censorship.

Let me ask you one question to focus the problem: who decides what gets rated and why? Why are we warned about references to sex, but not about Christianity?

Ok, I cheated, that's 2 questions.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Information is not a commodity -- TRM, 00:20:37 03/24/02 Sun

I will admit that I can't truly answer your two questions.

Regulation, particularly in a rating system, however, is not a question of restricting information. In fact, the point of rating is to disseminate information. Granted this information may hold some sort of bias (which is why I suggested that it be ranked on aspects that are less of a value judgement, i.e., sex or Christian content, if you will). The problem here is that you say "information is not a commodity" meaning information should not be restricted. I agree. However, that it shouldn't be restricted doesn't mean that it isn't -- or that it is distributed equitably. People only have so many hours in a day. Who I'm particularly concerned about are parents who work two jobs and don't have time to sit and watch TV and evaluate it with their children. The best they can hope for is to give guidance to their children when they can and to hope that their children can evaluate television properly themselves.

If we are to accept a parental role in children watching television, we are accepting a limitation on freedom of speech, indeed censorship, which arises not from an governmental organization but from the parents themselves. Whether such censorship is justified, is again opinion based. If parental censorship is not justified, than a rating system is indeed useless. Children should be able to watch whatever they want and evaluate it in whatever manner they do so. If, however, you believe that a proper parental role is deciding, let's not say what, but at what stage a child is exposed to certain content, than we do have to consider the problem that parents lack information or allow children to watch things out of context -- out of context because many things require experience (which is often associated with age) to interpret.

As I think I've established, not all parents have all the information they need to evalaute a television program. While we say that in a perfect world, the parent can sit with the child and discuss the program with the child, in the world we live in that is not true. In this case, the parent must make do with what they know. The role of a rating system is supposed to offer parents more information, make them a more informed decision-maker. And a rating system is a form of regulation. We can compare this rating system to the movie rating system. G, PG, R, X, NC-17, etc. Certainly no one would say that my child being under such and such an age should only watch G movies, but if I don't have the time to view every single movie my child demands, it is much easier for me to say: "You may watch only G movies, and this particular movie which is PG because I have viewed it and can discuss it with you." But honestly, I don't have time to view every single movie my child wants to watch, and information provision via ratings provides an imperfect solution to this problem. I move to say that it is better than no solution at all because in such a case, some parents may restrict any program watching.

By instituting rating systems and placing shows in time slots according to maturity level, we are doing nothing more different than what we do at video stores with movie rating systems and the placement of adult films behind a screen. These movies can still be watched.

So, rating systems themselves do not limit free speech, but purport to offer information on the speeches and lets people better judge what speeches they wish to listen to. Rating systems are not perfect, as I've mentioned -- personal evaluation is certainly better. But personal evaluation requires time which many don't have and rating systems and the information they provide do help to bridge this gap.

I would agree that the position both of adult movies in a room seperated by a beaded curtain and the placement of certain programs at later time slots is to some degree a limitation of free speech because it makes accessibility to these things more difficult to certain groups of people. The target here is children. You seem to suggest that moving Buffy in a later time slot would prevent you from watching it with your child, but as I proposed, taping it and watching it with your child is a viable possibility. However, unless you are asking a parent working two jobs to quit their second job, or to take time off from their second job to return home and sit with their child to discuss programming between 8pm-9pm, which is likely to get him/her fired anyway and thereby risk losing the income needed to support the family, than having a program which may require significant parental guidance at this time slot might not be in line with this parent's needs.

So let's get back to your questions, which I said I could not answer. Who decides what gets rated and why? Hypothetically it would be what the people demand. If parents want to know about the sexual content of many programs (because we are not dealing with Buffy in isolation, but a parent is concerned with many -- unless you suggest the parent should watch them all), the parents put political pressure for a rating system. The same applies to why we are warned about references to sex but not Christianity. There doesn't seem to be significant public concern about Christianity levels in television programming but there are concerns about sexual content and violence. If the degree of Christianity espoused in programming is important and parents find it necessary to put political pressure in making such a characteristic noted, such a rating would be appropriate as well. We are offering the parents the information that they deem most important in their decision-making process.

Information dissemination acts in favor of democracy by allowing people to make more educated choices.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Majority tyranny -- Sophist, 08:11:11 03/24/02 Sun

The purpose of free speech is to protect the minority, not the majority. Let me quote James Madison:

"Wherever the real power in a government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of constituents."

All of your arguments are made from the perspective of a member of the majority. Your example is not that of an orthodox Jew who wants to protect his children from the pernicious influence of Seventh Heaven, but that of a member of the majority who wants to be sheltered from the influence of minority views. That's precisely the illegitimate effect of ratings systems -- they subvert democracy by freezing in place a temporary majority.

Ok, I've said enough.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Closing remarks... -- TRM, 09:28:39 03/24/02 Sun

I take it then, that we are making closing remarks.

You have a convincing argument. A rating system does give the majority a way to avoid listening to a minority. However, free speech allows for individuals to state their opinions. It does not create an obligation for others to hear them. If a member of the majority does not want to listen to minority views he doesn't have to, just as I, if Mr Fallwell's (?) face appears on my television screen, I contest my right to turn it off. A member of the majority does not have a right to restrict minority views.

The direct consequence of rating systems is to provide information, not restrict viewing, though it is arguable that presenting information will restrict viewing by allowing the majority to simply tune it out.

So I accept your argument against rating systems. If at the poles we have something that inhibits the minority to be heard and something that inhibits a person to choose what he hears, you are relatively more in favor of minority voice mine is relatively more in favor of individual choice.

Thank you Sophist and all for a truly challenging debate. =)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Information is not a commodity -- vandalia, 11:57:46 03/24/02 Sun

[i]Who I'm particularly concerned about are parents who work two jobs and don't have time to sit and watch TV and evaluate it with their children.[/i]

Then you're worrying about the wrong issue. Instead of assuming that such a situation cannot be changed and therefore forcing others to work around it, instead try supporting things like a living wage ordinance in your city so that people don't _have_ to take two (or more) jobs just to make ends meet and can afford to spend the time being a good parent requires. No censorship needed!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes! (Glad someone pointed that out.) -- yuri, 12:07:15 03/24/02 Sun

[> They work on UPN not us -- LeeAnn, 08:01:49 03/22/02 Fri

They work through UPN, not us. They encourage people to write UPN with their objections, to boycott advertisers, etc.
They don't care what we think or what we want.
They apply their pressure elsewhere.
The religious right now has a lot of influence with the people in the White House. Which it didn't have before.
If UPN told ME to bring the magic and lesbian storylines to an end they would have no alternative but to comply. Just like they complied when WB told them to cut back on the violence.
Is this why Tara and Willow broke up and magic became a drug? So lesbianism and occult references would be expunged from the show?

[> [> Re: WB and violence -- Robert, 12:41:18 03/22/02 Fri

>> "Just like they complied when WB told them to cut back on the violence."

When did this happen? When did BtVS become less violent?

[> [> Re: They work on UPN not us - and a Question -- Valhalla, 23:41:54 03/23/02 Sat

Well, yeah, they try to work on UPN (or the WB, formerly), but when you're talking about TV, fighting back is incredibly easy; just watch the show. Encourage others to watch. Buy the merchandise if you're so inclined - I bet that helps, too.

If I didn't agree with one of the above posters that the element in the US writing and supporting these articles are MORONS, I would almost feel bad for them. Their ability to influence TV in this cable age is diminishing, as the threshhold for a successful, revenue-producing show gets lower and lower.

Which brings up a question -- I've heard of lots of protests of tv shows -- have any ever been successful in terms of getting a show off the air? I know when the big coming out episode of Ellen aired, some individual network affiliates didn't show it. But I can't recall any other successful attempts.

[> [> [> Um, try Dr Laura; there shouldn't be a double standard -- Slayed_in_Manhattan, 03:16:17 03/26/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> Dr. Laura was a lousy and boring show. -- Isabel, 05:21:34 03/26/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> Isabel--Clearly, you missed the point -- Slayed_in_Manhattan, 06:48:33 03/26/02 Tue

Dr Laura wasn't allowed to be viewed objectively by anyone with the ilk of GLAAD calling in death threats to Dr Laura and threatening anyone who advertised on her show. It was an obvious witch hunt. It was clearly a double standard. They didn't like her message so they felt they had the right to get her off the air. If it were truly just about having a bad TV show, the gay activists wouldn't be pushing even now to get Dr Laura totally wiped of the airwaves. It's wrong anyway you paint it when this is the very group that pretends to champion for freedom of speech for everyone.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I don't think I did -- Isabel, 07:58:49 03/26/02 Tue

You commented that you believe that GLAAD's efforts were what got that show pulled. I commented that the show was not a good show. (As in, Not Well Put together.) It only aired, what, 3 times? If it had a good format, if it aroused lots of people to watch it and stay watching it, the network it was on would not have pulled it, no matter what a small group of people said. People did not watch the show, it was simple economics

Also, I want to say, in case you might not think it, I'm against death threats. (I hadn't heard that by the way...)

[> [> You Seem to have lots of hate -- Unfortunate, 17:58:53 03/24/02 Sun

Even your use of the term "religious right" seems dripping with Venom.

Isn't there a religious left?

This board was fun until people with narrow minded politicans agendas started trolling it.

Here's to a non-politically driven Buffy.

[> [> [> Re: You Seem to have lots of hate -- parakeet, 23:54:43 03/25/02 Mon

Unfortunately (perhaps) there is no such thing as non-political. Yes, one can be fairly neutral in terms of Republican and Democrat, right and left, conservative and liberal (these are not synonyms/antonyms), and no, the personal is not necessarily political. Maybe my viewpoint is tainted by the past few years (socially centrist and economically right viewpoints being presented as non-ideological with an arrogant complacency best suited to the fashion industry) and maybe I'm just tired of the in-crowd pretending that they're martyred outsiders (I believe that this falls predominately on the Right currently, but I can see how this is arguable).
So what does this have to do with Buffy? Nothing, really; the show is that good. So what does this have to do with the discussion of Buffy? Everything, natch; political ideology forms a basis (not the basis) of thought, and mother help us if we ever lose sight of this, for irrational extremism cannot be far behind.
There was another post recently that dealt with censorship and freedom of speech. Somebody (I'm sorry, I don't remember who), implicitly admonished people for complaining about some Right- Winger's complaint of Buffy by refering to freedom of speech. Of course, one only violates this freedom by trying to deny another person the right to state their views, not by stating one's own. To call criticism censorship is a simplistic solution to a complex problem and can only result in either mediocrity or tragedy.
Anyway, about politics and Buffy: the show is too good to reduce to binary politics, but we are too good to avoid responding to its implications.

[> [> [> [> Re: You Seem to have lots of hate -- parakeet, 00:08:49 03/26/02 Tue

I've just realized that the post about freedom of speech et al was contained within this very thread. Oops.

[> "There is no difference between "Sex and porn and "Buffy is just two steps behind." -- Len, 08:30:15 03/22/02 Fri

I think that pretty much destroys any credibility the author had.

[> Censorship, BtVS, and Harry Potter -- Wynn, 08:31:17 03/22/02 Fri

It seems to me that the people that write articles like "Buffy: Call It Irresposnsible" and "Buffy Goes Over the Edge" miss (or ignore) the basic premise of the show: it is a metaphor for adolescence. The key word being *metaphor* They seem to focus on the fact that witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, etc. exist in and interact with the Buffyverse instead of focusing on what they represent. It's the same kind of thinking that leads to the bannings and burnings of Harry Potter. Some people (who obviously have never read the books or miss the point of them completely) believe that Harry Potter teaches children the occult/dark magic. If they would take the time to read one of J.K. Rowling's books, they will learn that the books say that dark magic is bad.

The people that write essays like "Buffy: Call It Irresponsible" (such as the Parents Television Council) and that burn books like Harry Potter do not base their beliefs on actual fact or empirical evidence. It's all fluff- opinion without any substantial evidence to back it up. I just ignore them and enjoy BtVS, Harry Potter, and other forms of entertainment that push the notion of soceity's norm.

Hope this didn't sound too rant-y. As much as I try to ignore articles like that, sometimes I can't help but get mad.

[> [> I'm raving here - don't expect coherence -- dream of the consortium, 09:15:20 03/22/02 Fri

I wrote this and had to go back and add a caveat to the reader - this is an incoherent rant, full of frustration. But I have to let this out.

God, what a bad week for me and religion! I used to be a very deeply religious Catholic, the sort of teenager who actually considered joining a religious order and running off with the missions. Now, at thirty, I believe in spiritual growth, and something like an immortal soul - or at least, I believe that the struggle to lead a good life is worthwhile in some form of eternal sense. I believe that I am not my body, and that my actions have consequences that ultimately I am responsible for. But I don't believe in a personal God, and I can't be a part of a church. I have always tried to look on the best side of the question of religion, mostly because I know so many good people who give credit for their goodness to the strength their religion/church gives them. I don't want to presume that I know better than they do, and I do remember how challenging the New Testament was to me a a religious person, how the beautiful ideals offered me a tmeplate for living. But ultimately, that template fell apart on one issue.


The Christian denominations I have the most experience with just do not seem to be able to develop any sort of rational response to sexuality. This causes such grief for so many people, not just the gay/lesbian contingent of these churches, but anyone whose sexuality is not absolutely mainstream, anyone who is stuck in a loveless marriage, any girl who marries early and badly because she slept with her boyfriend and she believes that to stay "moral" she has to stay with him.

From the papers this week - priests caught in an internet child porn ring, more information about child molesting priest in my state. Also, in a case that makes me actually physically nauseous every time I think about it, reports of Saudi religious police preventing girls from leaving their burning school because they weren't properly veiled. Fifteen girls died in the blaze. (There has been an official denial that this took place, though there are eye witness reports. Didn't hear about it? You're probably in the U.S. The BBC covered this. Apparently, we aren't going to give much media to the less savory goings-on of our allies. But that's another topic, not really appropriate to this board.)

Ultimately, I really do believe that most of the fear of sexuality comes from a fear of female power, of female sexuality. Hence the weird reference in that article to a "weak male". But there are other aspects to the fear that Buffy's sex scenes and other depications of sexuality in the media seems to cause as well, like the utterly unimaginative belief that the depiction of anything implies some sort of tacit approval of that thing. And what's with the weird American complexities around adolescent sexuality - the abstinence-only teaching in the schools, while Bob Dole ogles supposed virgin Brittany Spears in that disgusting Pepsi commercial? Has anyone else following the pedophiliac priest scandal noticed the creepiness hankering after details some members of the media have exhibited? Certain articles remind me of the old movies that would sell on titillation, only to offer up a moralistic ending designed to sooth the conscience of the viewer. (The movie "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" satired that in an excellent, if deeply twisted, way.)

Oh, and in our little listing of the ways in which American culture in general and the religious right in partiular are messed up about sex, let's not forget the assumption that ALL culture should be suitable for children.

Someone(I've forgotten who - could it have been Harlan Ellison) was quoted once as saying he didn't think there was too much sex on tv, he thought there wasn't enough. Not enough sex between unattractive people, not enough homosexual sex, not enough unhappy, lonely sex, not enough giddy, silly sex, not enough sex with old people. Just a bizarrely santized version of sex in which everyone is heterosexual and stunningly beautiful and freshly shaven and presumably sterilized. I have loved the sex on Buffy this season - sweet sex between two loving women, hot S&M sex that ultimately became unfulfilling for lack of honesty and mutual respect in the relationship. Thank God, people with sex lives that are meaningful. The sex this season have been as far from gratuitous as it is possible to be. Of course, there's no getting around the fact that the religious right and I simply do believe different things. They are right, in their way - I do want to corrupt their children. I do want their gay sons and daughters to be out and happy with it; I do want their kids to enjoy sex outside of marriage if they feel they are mature enough to handle the responsibilities (emotional and physical) that come with active sexuality.

Okay, I feel a little better now. Sorry for the lack of structured thinking.

[> [> [> Well said. -- Farstrider, 14:28:11 03/22/02 Fri

I agree. The "Christian conservatives" are deeply xenophobic, and that motivates their actions.

Ironic, isn't it, since Christ was all about loving everyone, including the sinner, regardless of how different they are from you?

[> [> [> That was a kick ass post, Dream! -- Ian, 16:31:12 03/22/02 Fri

[> [> An interesting source explaining... -- Wynn, 09:17:09 03/22/02 Fri

...the premise of BtVS. The site references BtVs only through the middle of Season Two, but I thought it was an interesting and accurate explanation of the show's premise.

Here is the address:

[> A Finger pointing to the moon -- Goji3, 12:53:14 03/22/02 Fri

I love it when people argue over menutia. It just prooves how ignorant they are. I'm reminded of an old Zen Saying

"A Finger Pointing to the Moon. The Finger is not the moon"

Buffy's good in that thisd annolgy can actually work, Their is a message behind it. But, these people are focusing on the little things infront of the overal meaning: A Mythological retelling of the trials of Growing Up.

God, Some people are dumb. -- They give Lawyers work!

[> Why can anybody find Buffy to harsh to Watch? -- Lakrids, 16:25:59 03/22/02 Fri

In Denmark they sends Buffy at 15.00 on the Sunday, and with Angel just after. We have only come to season 5. But I have never heard that it was too harsh for kids, I have even tried to get my 13- year-old niece to watch it, but she finds it to childish. The sex scenes is very tame, no naked people, there it is very little blood!. Sometimes it even quiet heavy handed in morally questions, "Beer Bad " springs into my mind, and why can gay people not kiss on tv!. I love Buffy, great stories and ok acting, but it is a dangerous as small Teri. Compared to Danish Teenage television, were sex and nakedness is not a big deal.

[> Okay you smartypants, tell me why... -- LeeAnn, 17:32:50 03/22/02 Fri

There are so many people who post here who know so much "stuff" that I want to ask you, "When and why did Christianity become antisex?"

From my little reading I think it was because sex became viewed as the ultimate reason for infanticide, abandoned children, and starving children, that sex became connected with increased suffering because it resulted in the birth of children who were unwanted or who could not be supported so sex=suffering so sex=bad.

That may be totally wrong. But what is the reason? Jesus preached against divorce, but more in an It's-wrong-to-abandon-your-wife-to-get-another-one kind of way. Some Christianity came to view all sex, even in marriage, as something to be resisted as much as possible.

[> [> Speaking as the child of preachers... -- Jon, 18:11:42 03/22/02 Fri

...I can vouch for the existence of at least two Christians who have very healthy sex lives - and not just healthy enough to produce me and my sister! Evidence that they were boinking just for kicks was everywhere in their bedroom. I was raised on "Where Did I Come From" and gained access to their copy of "The Joy of Sex" when I hit adolescence.

But I know you probably don't mean to be making a statement about "all Christians," and I know the anti-sex Christian attitude of which you speak.

I think that there is some validity to modes of spirituality that exclude sexuality - even Buddha had to overcome lust for instance, and sexual energy can be "channeled" into "higher" purposes (and again this is something they do in East & the West). These things may work when people, of their own free will, choose celibacy - and it's consistent with theologies that consider this world to be "fallen" or "illusion." Why tarry with the confusions of the flesh when heaven/enlightenment awaits up in the realm of pure forms? So in my book, spiritual celibates are okay...

At least they're okay as long as their celibacy doesn't simply mangle their sexuality, transforming them into predators (with big Papal skirts to hide behind). And as long as they don't feel they need to enforce their spiritual/sexual program on me. Me, I'm just trying to be another weak male character.

(I still can't believe they called Xander that! He's not weak! He's very well written. Oh I'm preaching to the choir.)


[> [> Re: Okay you smartypants, tell me why... -- Cactus Watcher, 18:24:22 03/22/02 Fri

Trying would probably start a long pointless religious argument. But, you should realize that sexual hang ups are much older than Christianity. Take the story of the expulsion from paradise for example.

[> [> [> Re: Okay you smartypants, tell me why... -- Ian, 20:42:26 03/22/02 Fri

I'm far from compotent on this subject, but I think the difficulties with sex (or at least enjoying it) are directly descended from the concept of woman-kind as bad.

To my surprise I learned the other day that Muslim women are required to wear veils and billowy clothing to hide their bodies so as not to tempt poor, powerless men from ravishing them. (!!!) Eve tempted Adam and led him, and Men in general apparently, to their downfall. Ergo, Women are just plain bad and exert a powerful influence over Men, who lack self control. (We all get how this is not the Man's fault, right?)

Since it takes two to tango (I'm not even going there) and Men are mindless gupies in the presence of a beautiful woman, women must be controlled and even owned. (Cattle, anyone?)

This is just one specific example, but it's just the tip of the iceberg of misogyny. It seems logical to me that sex plays a part in this.

[> [> [> [> Women are bad, really bad and naughty -- Lakrids, 21:00:44 03/22/02 Fri

and joke aside, it is not required in the Sihiera or the Korean for women to wear veils. But it is more under the guideline Mohammed told about good behaviour for muslin.

And yes Women are good and Men are bad, right?

[> [> [> [> Muslim women... -- Scroll, 13:06:24 03/23/02 Sat

I'm far from an expert here (I'm Christian not Muslim) so if anyone more knowledgeable wants to contradict me, go right ahead. But I have female friends who've been sharing what it's like to grow up Muslim in Cananda. Their parents are believers, good Muslims, but my friends (in their 20s) are the ones who really take a stand when it comes to their faith. They voluntarily wear the scarves and robes, even though in Canada it is certainly not required by law or even by their mosques.

They do it to respect their faith. They do it to be modest. They certainly don't understand why some women always go around dressed in nothing but skintight/see-through/cleavage-y clothes. My Muslim friends pride themselves on their ability to be beautiful without flaunting their "goodies". Now personally, I'd hate to have to cover my hair all the time. But I can understand where they're coming from.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Muslim women... -- TRM, 14:49:15 03/23/02 Sat

It's not the faith, nor the modesty that is protested against. The general belief is that in certain Muslim countries the faith is enforced. I can understand if a woman wanting to dress conservatively does so by I can also understand if a woman wanted to let her hair out. In Canada, these Muslims have a choice and choose to dress conservatively. In other countries, these women often don't have a choice on how they dress. Muslim women as do any women have a right to cover their heads -- but they shouldn't have the obligation.

[> [> [> [> [> Yes, we must all try to be tolerant of Islam -- LeeAnn, 14:47:40 03/24/02 Sun

Punishment For Women

Pakistani Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy

Jordanian Parliament Supports Impunity For Honor Killings

Patrols against Kashmir acid attacks

Egypt Tries 52 Men Suspected of Being Gay

Pakistan fails to condemn 'honour' killings

Malaysia debates Islam after beauty contest row

Nigerian woman sentenced to 100 lashes

You must register for the New York Times articles but can lie about everything but you email but then it's free.

[> [> [> [> [> [> "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." -- Sophist, 16:59:09 03/24/02 Sun

I think it's quite clear from my other posts that I don't approve of such things as these. But I also don't think it helps to single out one religion.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." -- LeeAnn Throwing a Stone, 19:35:44 03/24/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> LOL -- Sophist, 20:14:14 03/24/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Everyone is born left-handed. You turn right-handed when you commit your first sin -- skeeve, 15:14:04 03/25/02 Mon

got from

[> [> [> [> [> [> Some points about Islam and history. -- Ixchel, 18:55:20 03/25/02 Mon

The cultural practices of some Islamic peoples do seem to reflect badly on the religion, I believe this is due to the plastic nature of religion (people make of it what they want). Just some notes about Islam and history:

At the time Mohammed established Islam (622 AD) he put forth some quite progressive ideas (at the time and for any place, Europe or the Middle East) about how women should be treated. For example limiting the number of wives a man could have and how they should be treated equally.

From 711 AD to 1492 AD the Muslim government of Spain was quite enlightened. Jews and Christians lived peacefully under Muslim rule, only having to pay a tax (I believe) for not being Muslim (they could also of course convert). This was far more tolerant than European governments of the same period. Much of ancient Greek knowledge (science, medicine, philosophy, etc.) was preserved by Islam and brought to Europe through Spain. An interesting note is that words such as algebra, alchemy, alcohol come from Arabic. Also it is worth noting that after the Christian "reconquest" in 1492 AD, Muslims _and_ Jews were persecuted (the Inquisition).


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Some more points. Victors write the history. -- LeeAnn, 21:31:34 03/25/02 Mon

Ixchel, if the Islamic rule of Spain was so enlightened how come there was a army of volunteers willing to throw them out. I think you've been fooled by Islamic spin. Remember when Columbus used to be a hero, before anyone looked at his treatment of native peoples. NonMuslims ruled by muslims are not nearly as positive about the experience as some would have us believe.

The repressive and exploitive treatment of women in Islam started with Mohammed. (Marriage and Divorce ) Women were captured, raped and enslaved from the beginning of the Islamic movement. A captive woman had no right to refuse sex. She was merely part of the spoils of war.

NonMuslims in India believe that the Islamic Invasions of India produced the greatest genocide in history. The opinion of the victims seems more credible than the justifications of the conquerors.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Further points... -- Ixchel, 23:16:39 03/25/02 Mon

I'm not in any way religious. I was just offering some (small) historical knowledge that I had.

The people fighting the Muslims in Spain were the descendents of Visigoths, etc. that had entered Spain from the north (consequently dominating the earlier populations, except the Basques). They were expanding their territory, as most groups tried to do.

The enslaving of women by the victors in conflicts has a history far older than Islam. IMHO to imply that it is a feature of Islam rather than a condition of warfare in general is mistaken. Also, the Koran (IIRC) makes points about "rights" of women and this at a time when most women had none.

Most religions have bloody histories. Regarding India, I am sure that Islam's advance caused much bloodshed. When Pakistan was created at the end of the Raj this caused horrible strife. Atrocities were committed by both Muslims and Hindus.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Other conquerors didn't found religions. Mohammed did. -- LeeAnn, 23:30:08 03/25/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> ummmmm -- Rahael, 02:57:58 03/26/02 Tue

I'm having some problems with this line of argument.

Islamic spin? BJP Hindu nationalist spin more like. Please find out what's happening in India. The politics of the subcontinent are very very complex.

And Islamaphobia is on the rise. And its murderous.

You are now equating a whole people ('muslim' people) with a certain way of treating women. A whole religion.

Of course there were enlightened, tolerant aspects to Muslim rule in the past! It is no 'spin'. That Christians and Jews were tolerated because they were regarded as 'peoples of the book'. That respect was paid to holy places of other religions.

Islam is responsible for all kinds of learned, cultured, civilised and beautiful things. Just as Christianity is. Just as Hinduism is.

Isabella and Ferdinand of Castile and Aragon did horrific things. They persecuted Jews and Muslims where they were living in peace. They started a certain form of Inquisition which gave Catholicism a bad name (the Vatican's 'Inquisition' was quite different, until they decided to adopt aspects of the Spanish model).

And the BJP's rewriting of history in India makes me want to vomit. When they razed that mosque to the ground in Ayhodhya, they also got rid of lots of local hindu gods. Because they are espousing a certain vision of Hinduism which they are now propagandizing as the only correct one. They don't like diversity, especially in Hinduism. They despise everything that I respect about Hinduism. They are rewriting Rama as a militant nationalist warrior king, when the Rama of the numerous stories and legends was celebrated for his reluctance, his qualms about such behaviour.

And they are busy murdering Muslims in India. And justifying it by vilifying them. And the current world climate, I fear, is only encouraging them. We should be careful. Careful not to swallow the propaganda. Why is it so hard to see the human being before their religion? their culture? their colour?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> OH. MY. GOD. -- Rahael, 09:16:07 03/26/02 Tue

Okay, I have now spent a couple of hours following the links LeeAnn gave here, and links within these links, with horrified fascination.

I also feel a little unwell.

That's right. Obviously Muslims are Nazis who believed in the 'Herrenvolk' and did carried out a 'blitzkrieg' (the mind is boggling already).

And now I realise exactly what various members of my family, who are more involved in S.E Asian politics have been ranting about. Oh my god.

I'm too shocked even to bother writing a longer post.

And for anyone's information, I grew up in a Hindu community, and my heritage and ancestry is Hindu. I almost feel like renouncing it.

LeeAnn, I'm a little shocked that you speak out against Christian fundamentalists trying to restrict Buffy when the links you provide are to Hindu fundamentalists who are actually doing far far more harm. Lawd's sake, what does a tv programme matter in the face of things like this?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Intolerance -- LeeAnn, 11:54:14 03/26/02 Tue

Organized religion sux. No argument from me there.

But does liberal tolerance extend to the toleration of evil if that evil calls itself religion. If Nazism had been organized as a religous movement would that mean it had to be given tolerance and respect? Islam is to religion as Nazism was to politics.

The more I read about Islam, its history, its practice and its influence, the more appalled I am. I'm not going to pretend that I can tolerate a religion that advocates enslaving half the human race. My half.

This is America and religious intolerance is taboo, even more despised than racism. I call myself liberal and I know that religious intolerance can cause enormous suffering, yet the more I read about Islamic cultures, cultures where the repression, the subjugation of women is the norm, the more intolerant I feel. In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars. They are not even allowed to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative. Can you imagine not having the simple freedom to leave your house, to walk down the street, to visit a friend, not having the freedom to get in your car and drive across town to see your mother, or go to a movie or the mall? Imagine that to leave your house you had to, not only, get someone's permission, you had to get them to go with you, to guard and supervise you like a child, or, more accurately, like a prisoner briefly let out of a cell. Imagine living in a country where the temperature reaches 120 degrees F and you are forced to wear a black shroud covering your entire body except your hands and feet and if you so much as expose an arm to the breeze you can be hit with a stick by a stranger whose purpose in life, whose job it is, is to hit lewd women like you with that stick. Imagine a society where men and women are not allowed to associate. Imagine that you are not allowed to meet different men, fall in love, and marry whom you choose. Your family, your father, will choose your husband and you may not even be allowed to say "no." You will not be allowed to decide who will touch you, penetrate you, father your children, rule your life. Imagine that if you ever did meet someone, fall in love, and express that love, you could be killed like a mad dog.

A few years ago, on PBS, there was a program called Death of a Princess, apparently a true story. The daughter of a Saudi Prince managed to get herself a boyfriend, no mean feat in itself. They ran off together but since a woman can't leave Saudi Arabia without the permission of the father or brother or husband who rules her, they couldn't get far. They were caught within a few days and slaughtered in a public square (actually a parking lot). The program outraged the Saudis. The newspaper reports revealed that that they weren't troubled by the deaths but were infuriated by the revelation that a Saudi girl had probably managed to have sex with someone she wanted to have sex with (as opposed to with someone her father had picked for her and coerced her into marrying). The program's implication that other Saudi women might be looking at men with lust in their hearts and occasionally managing to do something about it enraged them even more. Better dead than free seems to be the Saudi attitude, the Muslim attitude toward women. Don't tell me it's just cultural, some tribal tradition. Whether you eat fried chicken or fried squid is cultural. Whether you sleep in a bed or sleep on a mat on the floor is cultural. But whether you get to make the simplest and most basic choices in your life, that's a matter of human rights.

Change the situation a little, change the protagonist but not the repression. How would you describe a society that did not allow black people to leave their homes unless accompanied by a white person? Would that be "cultural"? How about a society where black people were not allowed to choose their own spouse? Would that be cultural? Where black people were not allowed to work and make their own living and achieve any independence from their oppressors? Where white people could send a black person away at any time and keep their children whether or not it was in the best interest of the child? If 80 million black people had been genitally mutilated to assure that sex would be unpleasant or even painful (as 80 million women, mostly in Moslem Africa have been mutilated) would that be merely cultural? Wouldn't you consider such societies monstrous beyond belief? Isn't it still monstrous when the class of victims is chosen not by race but by gender? And those conditions occur again and again throughout the Muslim world. Don't tell me these women, never having known anything different, do not feel their chains. By that rationale slaves didn't yearn for freedom, blacks in the Jim Crow South didn't year for equality.

Some Americans think that if repression has a religious basis it cannot be criticized or opposed, forgetting that religion has been used to justify many atrocities. Christianity quite comfortably accommodated slavery for most of its history and in some sects it is still used to justify the repression of women. If Nazism had called itself a religion would that have made its goals acceptable? If there were a religion that believed in feeding twelve year old virgins to volcanoes and if those girls were raised and brainwashed so they didn't object, would you preach tolerance for that religion? I think not. I would rather have lived in Stalinist Russia, I would rather have been black in South Africa under apartheid than be a woman in most Muslim countries. In some of these societies, the average Muslim woman is less free and more damaged than the average slave in the pre-Civil War South. I don't think you can expect a woman to view Islam as just another religion anymore than you can expect a black person to view apartheid as just another political system.

I look at Muslim countries around the world and again and again what I see are cultures still in the Dark Ages, cultures that make the old dictatorships of Central and South America seem mild in comparison, countries where religion is used as a justification for a full range of brutality.

I don't know much about Islam beyond what is in my encyclopedia, and what has appeared in the popular press and on the internet but what I read reveals a religion so cruel it's frightening. Of course medieval Catholicism was pretty frightening too and it didn't start softening up until people started having other alternatives they could choose. People in Muslim countries do not have alternatives, conversion often being a capital crime. When I read, not just about the enslavement of women, but about what is done in the name of Islamic Law, I'm appalled. The Saudis have said that if they caught a terrorist in Saudi Arabia, he'd either be executed or, according to Islamic law, have an arm or leg cut off. Are these people supposed to be civilized? None of this "Little Jesus Meek and Mild", none of this idea of love and sacrifice and end up nailed to a tree. They have a warrior prophet. A man who lived to be old, who had 14 wives, led his followers into battle and achieved many of his goals during his lifetime and achieved them through violence and assassination, or so says my Encyclopedia Britannica. Changing your religion in Saudi Arabia is a capital offense. Even the Pope complains that in Muslim countries Christians are legally forbidden to proselytize. I sound kind of religious myself, don't I? But I'm not. I spent most of my life as an atheist and am just becoming a sort of semi-pseudo-Christian with a bit of Buddhist thrown in. I'm repelled by all organized religions but Islam seems, fall and away, the worst, the most repressive, the most violent set of beliefs in the world today. Maybe the real difference is that, in most places, Islam has not been domesticated by a secular society. They don't just preach their repressive dogma, (unlike the American religious right), they get to force everyone else to conform to it - or die.

As angry as the religious right makes me, I have never heard an American fundie advocate that I be forced to wear a black shroud, be denied an education, be forced to marry someone I never met, be genitally mutilated to make sure I don't enjoy sex, be forbidden to drive, be forbidden to leave my house without a male relative, be forbidden to travel without the permission of my closest male relative, be stoned alive if I have an affair, be beaten if I so much talk to a nonrelated male. I've never heard of members of the religious right spraying acid in women's faces because they weren't veiled. I can't imagine the worst member of the religious right forcing me back into a burning building because I wasn't wearing a black shroud, or preventing firefighters from saving women in a burning building because men aren't supposed to approach women. inion/commentary/la-000021569mar25.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dcomment%2Dopinions

But you can go on being tolerant if you choose.
I can't.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Government enforcement of religious beliefs -- Sophist, 12:34:50 03/26/02 Tue

LeeAnn, if you look at so-called Christian societies prior to about 1700, you will see most of the same practices which so shock you in other countries today. The reason for the change,IMHO, is that the US and other countries began getting government out of the business of enforcing religious beliefs.

This historical background suggests strongly that the problem is not in religion, or in any particular religion, but in the unholy alliance of government and religion. We should not blame Islam, the religion, but the particular individuals who commit atrocities. Such people will be found in every culture; only the justification, whether Christianity, Islam, communism, or whatever, changes.

I don't see any reason to assume that the average Saudi is any better or any worse than the average American. Nor would it be fair to tag such a person with the evil deeds of others. The perpetrators themselves, of course, are a different story.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> My last post ever. (I promise) -- Ian, 13:59:33 03/26/02 Tue

This is absolutely my last post in this thread, but since I helped spark some of the debate, I'll weigh in with one last post. Number one, this debate has seen some great points raised--I for one have learned A LOT I did not previously know about Islam, current Middle East politics, and the historical origins and rationale of various political and religious movements. To my mind, such results are the hallmarks of a successful and positive exchange of ideas.

As far as learning more about Islam, I've done some further reading after Aisha's responses to my posts, and the most salient statistic I've come across is the number of predominately Islamic countries that are governed by a theocracy. To my limited knowledge, historically speaking those regions governed by theocracies through time have been governed by the most extreme sect of whatever religion, be it Christianity, Islam, Catholicism, Hinduism or whatever.

Religious beliefs--I believe in large part due to the emphasis on "revealed" or "immutable" laws--are readily embraced by militant groups seeking to justify and consolidate their hold on power. It's one thing to disagree with a political leader, and another thing entirely to disagree with a political leader who has the personal backing of G-d.

In the present day Middle East and parts of Malaysia, we have Religious States ruled by Princes, Assemblies or Prophets who use an extreme brand of Islam to justify vicious political aspirations. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part these countries are ruled by extremists that comprise a relatively small minority of believers in that population.

Perhaps because of this skewed balance, we in the West, or at least I, have been given the impression that this IS Islam. Apparently, it is not.

That said, human rights abuse in the Middle East is horrific and wide spread, and has been facilitated in part by internal religious and tribal/ethnic warfare, a criminal distribution of wealth that has lead to a fantastically wealthy ruling elite and an oppressively impoverished majority, outside invasions, and the West--in particular the US and the former USSR--that has consistently opposed and interfered with internal efforts at democratic reform in a bid to more securely control the flow of oil and thwart their adversaries.

During the Cold War, both the US and Soviet Union considered the Middle East one of the most strategically valuable areas of the Earth and exploited, threatened or interfered with the internal politics of the region, often supporting and arming extreme factions in return for "favorable" treatment of US or Russian "interests."

In short, just about every ingredient you DON'T want in an economically and culturally developing area beset with age old religious intolerance and ethnic warfare has been liberally applied from every direction.

Should we be intolerant of human rights abuse, regardless of justification? You bet. However, as I am beginning to understand it, Western interference in internal affairs, the rise of extremist sects and a culture in transition have all contributed to the sorry situation we have today: the wide spread abuse of women, strict conformity for men, five landmines for each man, woman and child in Iran, and terrorism abroad.

(Interestingly, some of the terrorist's reasoning behind 9/11 that I've seen reported was that they believed that their (heinous) act would alert Americans to the plight the West has caused in the Middle East, and lead to an end to those policies. This excuses nothing of course, but it does indicate the depths of antipathy held abroad for the US.)

And here's where I know I'm going to regret commenting--while I realize that the religion of Islam isn't being accurately represented in the abuse we see today, nor do I believe it to be wholly innocent. When I see mention of the atrocities of the Inquisition, the Catholic Church is not absolved of all responsibility just because there are some wonderful bits to it--it takes its lumps, as it should.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Intolerance -- Aisha, 13:13:44 03/26/02 Tue

Interesting, I assume that this means that I'm a Nazi because I'm Muslim. Perhaps you want us to wear particular markings? (Sorry. Being a bit irreverent there).

Are you seriously deriving your view of a large portion of the world on the basis of the popular media and the coverage of a particular country which a large portion of the Muslim world view as being ruled by what amounts to a religious sect? Most of the laws which they impose are based on their own sectarian interpretation of Islam and that is certainly not the case in most of the Muslim world. And the Muslims have, and still have, far more women heads of state than most Western countries have ever had.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Etymologies -- d'Herblay, 11:38:11 03/26/02 Tue

Ok . . . I know that I should let this thread die, but Arabic etymologies are one of my favorite subjects. They provide a fascinating window into history, revealing just how much Western Europe owes to the medieval Mediterranean interaction with Muslims.

Not only are such things as chemistry, algebra, algorithms and alcohol benefits of this trade, but getting up in the morning would be damn difficult without it. Some of us need our cups of coffee (from the Arabic kahwa). Some of us need a lump or two of sugar (Ar. sukkar). The healthier ones among us prefer orange juice (Ar. naranj).

Did you ever hear the story about the Greeks and Romans not having a concept of the color blue? I was never convinced by Homer's "Wine-dark sea" or the like: it's hard to prove a negative. But the words for blue in the Romance languages cognate with the French azure all derive from the Arabic al-lazaward. Now this may not convince anyone of the debts we owe to Medieval Islam; in fact, it may add up to one big fat zero (Ar. sifr), but it remains undeniable.

By the way, I happen to love the Islam of Averroes and Rumi, the Almagest and ijtihad, but I still despise the Islam of shari'ah, Wahhabiism and the Ayatollahs. I also love the Hinduism of Gandhi while hating that of the BJP; love the Christianity of Millard Fuller and Gianlorenzo Bernini while hating that of Torquemada and Pat Robertson; love the Judaism of Hillel but despise that of Kahane. I must admit that I am slightly fond of the atheism I practice, but I am still repelled by that enforced by Joseph Stalin. Hate is not a part of any religion, and it is not excluded from any sect. Unfortunately, it is part of us.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> But doesn't that mean you find religion neutral..and therefore useless. -- LeeAnn, 14:53:40 03/26/02 Tue

If religion cannot impel people to do good rather than do evil, if religion produces good and evil in equal amounts regardless of the religion..then what good is it?

As I said before, organized religion sux. Organized Christianity sux as well. But I believe that Christian ideals have produced many good results, more good results than bad just as I believe the opposite about Islam.

[> [> [> [> Re: Okay you smartypants, tell me why... -- Aisha, 15:06:59 03/23/02 Sat

>To my surprise I learned the other day that Muslim women are required to wear veils and billowy clothing to hide their bodies so as not to tempt poor, powerless men from ravishing them. (!!!) Eve tempted Adam and led him, and Men in general apparently, to their downfall. Ergo, Women are just plain bad and exert a powerful influence over Men, who lack self control. (We all get how this is not the Man's fault, right?)<

Okay, as a Muslim, I'm going to have to comment. Veils are not part of Islam. They are part of culture. Modest clothing, which does include covering the hair, is part of Islam. Modest dress is also prescribed for men.

In the Islamic tradition, Eve did not tempt Adam. The Qur'an establishes Adam as being responsible for his actions in Surat Taha (20): "We made a contract with Adam before, but *he* forgot. But Shaytan whispered to *him*." It was his mistake and nothing to do with sex.

If you are talking about imposition of certain forms of dress, that varies from culture to culture, and from country to country.


[> [> [> [> [> I learn something new every day here. -- Sophist, 15:44:01 03/23/02 Sat

I didn't know that the Quran had a different version of the Temptation story. Thank you for clarifying.

You mention the obligation (is that overstating it?) to dress "modestly". I'm curious how "modesty" is defined (or if it is) and who gets to decide what is modest. Is this an individual or social question?

In a broader context, I'm not sure what the term "modest" means. It can only really have meaning in a cultural context which defines the human body as shameful. The issue then becomes whether that definition is being used to exercise social control over someone else.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I learn something new every day here. -- Rahael, 15:59:24 03/23/02 Sat

My understanding is that modesty isn't defined in the Quran. Hence the disputes on whether women should wear the hijab or not.

The trend in the younger generation behaving more conservatively than the previous one is due to the rise of a more fundamentalist view of faith. Which by the way is not only occurring to Islam, but also to Hinduism and Christianity.

I used to be close friends with a young muslim woman, who when she went to University wore the hijab. One year later, tired of the attitude of a lot of Muslim men, who seemed to make assumptions about who she was (quiet, conservative etc) threw it away. She said that the hijab attracted more attention to her than she wanted. Plus she wanted to make a stand about the choices she wanted to make. She still prayed; she was still devout, and Islam as giving her many positive things as a woman - the hijab was just something patriarchy used to control her, as she saw it.

She wrote many an angry article about the ill treatment of women in India and Pakistan for the Islamic Society Newspaper. Of course she was stunningly beautiful as well. The fundamentalist men just did not know what had hit them. They wanted to please her, but realised that they were supposed to be outraged by her!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Great story. -- Sophist, 16:18:32 03/23/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I learn something new every day here. -- Aisha, 07:31:49 03/24/02 Sun

>You mention the obligation (is that overstating it?) to dress "modestly". I'm curious how "modesty" is defined (or if it is) and who gets to decide what is modest. Is this an individual or social question?

Technically, for women, it is everything except the face and hands. For men, it's between the waist and the knees. That said, culture then plays a major role on that, and how that is achieved. In the Indian/Pakistani tradition, they aren't particularly bothered about the hair, but very fussy about legs. In the Middle East, they are more particularly about hair but not as bothered about slightly shorter skirts. If you get to Saudi Arabia, or anyone influenced by their odd brand of Islam, they are extremely hysterical about women's bodies.

The current 'Islamic uniform' is a fairly modern adaptation.

Most countries do not 'impose' dress on people - with a few notable exceptions which are always in the news. There is social and cultural pressures, of course, just as there are in the West.

By the way, Islamic law is the only one I know that insists on a woman's right to sexual satisfaction in marriage, and details what she is entitled to!


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Another view of Modesty in Religion -- alcibiades, 11:59:43 03/24/02 Sun

Aisha wrote:

"By the way, Islamic law is the only one I know that insists on a woman's right to sexual satisfaction in marriage"

Orthodox Judaism does too.

BTW, Sophist, modesty as a concept in religion does not necessarily imply that sexuality and the body are bad; what it implies is that unregulated sexuality and unregulated, uncontrolled passion can be very bad for individuals and that this can redound on society in an extremely negative way.

Thus, there is more incentive for a particular religion to provide societal checks to help prevent sexuality or passion from getting out of hand in a negative way. Modesty is understood as a proactive force, something to stand as a bulwark against unchecked sexuality. It is another way to help prevent human tragedies in this regard.

Concomitantly, it's also understood as a way to help people spend not quite so much time with their minds on sex at every moment and instead directing their thoughts to godliness. Which is more or less the mission statement of religion.

To bring this closer to home, we've seen several examples of uncontrolled passion in BTVS going seriously askew because the individuals in question can't handle it. Willow in Something Blue (and in Smashed and Wrecked, although that is a slightly different case as Tara was more than justified in leaving Willow) and Spike in Lover's Walk, frex. Both of these two were unceremoniously dumped by people they assumed they had un/life time commitments to. In Season 5, on the positive side, Spike and Willow both are ready to die fighting Glory for love.

Parker Abrams goes around seducing and hurting young, sexually naive women for kicks.

Anya was so hurt by her boyfriend's infidelity that she become trapped in that developmental moment for a thousand years in her quest to punish all men for it. She is now in the position to return to that developmental moment again at the end of Hell's Bells.

I think that the Buffyverse fully recognizes how scary passion can be at times, how difficult it is for people to handle it when the rules suddenly change. That is one thing that a lot of people like about BTVS. Buffy has been sleeping with Spike for half the season with no rules at all, feeling no obligation to him at all, not even the requirement of basic respect. As Spike comments in As You Were, she keeps flipping the rules to whatever suits her.

To my mind, these five stories all portray universal stories about the problems of love. In contrast, most US TV shows seem to have a much more superficial view of love, that the pains of someone who is rejected or treated badly all go away by the end of the episode.

To move this back to the subject of religion:

The Hebrew Bible is aware that love and sex and passion are always going to be problematic in human existence. This is the reason it has created laws/rules to deal with the entire phenomenon.

In the last 20 years, our society has moved away from this view, seeming to believe that no rules is a better approach or that the two people have to make up their own rules which is another way of saying that the rules can change at any moment. In truth, any societal solution to the problem of love and sexuality and passion in human society is going to be partial and therefore seriously imperfect.

Yet, when a religion recognizes that sexuality or love or passion has the power for great good, it also has to recognize that it has the power for tremendous evil. Thus, it possesses a different imperative than a country like the US, frex, to create laws that help its ideal society regulate this situation.

The Bible is full of stories passion that is wrong not because it is sexual passion, but because there is something wrong about it -- that the person who is involved in it is breaking a law such as adultery, as in frex, the case of David and Bathsheba, or that one person is not fulfilling his legal obligations to another person, frex, the story of Judah and Tamar.

The Hebrew Bible does not blame the woman for this as temptress, rather it blames whoever bears more responsibility. In both of these two stories, the man pays more heavily because it was he who was not fulfilling his legal and moral obligations. David, as King, was supposed to be leading his people on the battlefield, not standing on the roof spying on Bathsheba while she was bathing some rooftypes away and then seducing her and sending her husband away to get anonymously killed in the field. He was in the wrong place, not doing his God given duty as King. Moreover, he knew it.

And Judah was supposed to arrange Tamar's marriage to his third son but didn't want to because he had decided incorrectly, with a limited human viewpoint, not a divine one, that she was inauspicious for the sons of his line.

One other point of interest is that in Jewish apocalyptic mythologization, these two stories of sexual wrongdoing, Judah and Tamar and David and Bathsheba, between them generate the genetic line that will produce the Messiah. The point being that when true and full repentance arises out of sin, as it does for Judah, David and Bathsheba (Tamar is not understood as needing to repent), it can literally give birth to a transcendent moment. That is the reason the Davidic line is considered the Messianic line in Jewish history.

Embodied in this notion is the idea that there is something askew at base which provides the motive itself for transcendence. In this particular case, the mystical epiphany cannot arise cleanly, but requires the taint of sexual sin in its very makeup.

Which, to my mind, provides a very interesting contrast with the notion of the virgin birth in Christianity.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I have no problem with religions encouraging "modesty". I do have a problem -- Sophist, 14:37:20 03/24/02 Sun

when governments enforce the "modesty" rules of a particular religion. Or when governments fail to protect from arbitrary violence by self-proclaimed censors those who may dissent from the "modesty" rules.

I'm not sure I agree with you about the implications of modesty rules. What they do, in general, is approve certain conduct and discourage other conduct. The precise details vary, of course, with the religion. When they discourage certain conduct, that aspect of sexuality is fenced off and labeled "bad" or even "unnatural". (I always liked Richard Sheridan's line: "Nothing is unnatural unless it is physically impossible.")

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I have no problem with religions encouraging "modesty". I do have a problem -- alcibiades, 19:49:23 03/24/02 Sun

"What they do, in general, is approve certain conduct and discourage other conduct. The precise details vary, of course, with the religion."

Of course, that is true in non-religious society at large as well. There is always some standard of modesty people are following. Frex, some clothes that people wear now, would seem impossibly immodest even as short a time ago as in the 1980s. Not to mention that most people would feel absurd walking around in beach wear on 42nd st.

All that a religious society does as opposed to a non-religious one is attempt to formulate an objective and unchanging standard about modesty based on its notion of a God-directed society rather than a subjective standard dependent on what the fashion designers say is permissible in any given year.

Nor is it strange that someone born and raised in the West is uncomfortable with the notion of living in a theocracy. We subscribe to Rousseau's social contract, selfish men banding together to make as few laws as possible for self protection. The point of a theocracy is to be God directed.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Democracy and theocracy -- Sophist, 20:30:04 03/24/02 Sun

I agree that Western societies establish standards of modesty. The difference is that those standards are flexible; they change as the citizens change because they are established democratically. A religious society does not formulate an "objective" standard. Rather, it continues to enforce the cultural standard of 2 thousand years ago.

In a democracy, everyone can be God-centered according to their own beliefs about God. In a theocracy, I must abide by another's beliefs about God. Or rather, another's interpretation of the beliefs of someone dead 2 thousand years.

Not to defend Rousseau (because I'm not a real fan of his), but he would not at all agree with the idea of banding together for self-protection under limited laws. Locke maybe. Or Mill. Or Jefferson. I'm happy in that company.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Democracy and theocracy -- Aisha, 10:35:36 03/25/02 Mon

>I agree that Western societies establish standards of modesty. The difference is that those standards are flexible; they change as the citizens change because they are established democratically. A religious society does not formulate an "objective" standard. Rather, it continues to enforce the cultural standard of 2 thousand years ago.<

That does not follow. A "religious" society, or any other society, establishes what the majority regards as correct - unless there is some priestly class legislating from above. What is acceptable will be what the majority regard as acceptable. The fact that their view on that derives from a religious basis rather than the dictates of fashion does not necessarily make it less democratic - those customs would reflect the views of the majority.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> That's a fair point -- Sophist, 12:50:07 03/25/02 Mon

I was assuming that the interpretation of what best complies with the divine word was filtered through a priesthood. I made that assumption based on the original post which referred to theocracy. If instead a society is one in which each citizen has strong religious views, but the government does not implement that religion per se, then that could be a religious society in the sense you use it. If each individual is free to reach his or her own interpretation, then I agree that the process is democratic.

Even in this case, however, the words of ancient texts may put limits on the interpretive process. To the extent they do so, even a society without any priests would be limited by the standards of an ancient culture.

My original post acknowledged that Western societies do impose standards of modesty. That doesn't mean I think they should. My personal view (which I freely admit is not widely shared) is that how we dress is a form of communication which should be protected as speech under the same standards I advocated above.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: That's a fair point -- Aisha, 13:21:26 03/25/02 Mon

>I was assuming that the interpretation of what best complies with the divine word was filtered through a priesthood. I made that assumption based on the original post which referred to theocracy. If instead a society is one in which each citizen has strong religious views, but the government does not implement that religion per se, then that could be a religious society in the sense you use it. If each individual is free to reach his or her own interpretation, then I agree that the process is democratic. <

What if the government implements social rulings which derive from religion, but which the majority of the population want to see implemented? Clearly *not* implementing them would be contrary to the will of the people, or the majority at least.

Define "standards of an ancient culture". Nothing is ever totally static in society, and every culture is based on what was before it. Western society clearly has certain mores which are derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Definitions -- Sophist, 14:06:49 03/25/02 Mon

As I tried to say in my posts above on freedom of speech, a rule that seems democratic in the short run -- it was adopted by majority vote -- may be undemocratic in the long run. There are, therefore, certain rules that have to be recognized in order to preserve democracy as a long term form of government. One of these is freedom of speech (and I'm sure I've talked too much about that already!). Another is the right to equal protection of the laws. This, for example, prevents the majority from, say, depriving Africans or Catholics of the right to vote.

It is perfectly proper for individual citizens to decide what policies they think are best, and to use religion or any other guide to make that decision. Any rule the majority makes must, however, be tested against the rights of the minority to freedom of speech and equal protection of the law. Without these protections, the majority is violating both the fundamental rules that preserve democracy and the religious freedom of any citizens who don't follow the majority religion.

When I referred to the standards of an ancient culture, I did have in mind something static. I believe that is fair if (my assumption) the standards are taken from a particular writing. For example, some books of the Old Testament were written during the reign of King Josiah. The rules of dress and behavior they advocate were rules for Israel (loosely speaking here) in the 7th century BCE. Clearly, culture has moved on since then. But if someone treats those rules as divinely given, then the rules of that time become frozen and not subject to further cultural development (since divine rules are absolute and not subject to change).

To put all of the above into concrete terms, the Book of Deuteronomy, historically though not theologically written during Josiah's reign, arguably prohibits men from shaving. If a law were passed prohibiting shaving because a devout majority considered that a divine command, that would be democratic in the narrow sense, but would violate the underlying principles of long term democracy.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Definitions -- alcibiades, 09:58:14 03/26/02 Tue

"When I referred to the standards of an ancient culture, I did have in mind something static. I believe that is fair if (my assumption) the standards are taken from a particular writing. For example, some books of the Old Testament were written during the reign of King Josiah. The rules of dress and behavior they advocate were rules for Israel (loosely speaking here) in the 7th century BCE. Clearly, culture has moved on since then. But if someone treats those rules as divinely given, then the rules of that time become frozen and not subject to further cultural development (since divine rules are absolute and not subject to change)."

Divine rules are considered absolute, but the interpretation of those rules are always subject to change in a religious society, based on oral tradition and precedent and changing circumstances.

Plus, in a decentralized religion without a figure such as a pope, there are always disagreements as to how to interpret law and in what circumstances. There can be no perfect application of law or rules in human society. This is well known within those religions.

The main difference in a modern democracy and a religious society is what the point of society is about in any case. Democracy lauds the individual and his rights. A religious society believes the individual should subject himself to the will of God.

I get what you are saying about the individual's right to disagree in a religious society, but individualism qua individualism simply has less status on the mattering map. The whole basis of society is simply directed otherwise.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Definitions -- Sophist, 10:43:26 03/26/02 Tue

Your comment about rules changing based upon oral tradition and precedent is absolutely correct for Judaism. Catholicism also recognizes tradition and precedent as valid indicators of true doctrine.

Protestantism, however, takes a different view of it. Both Luther and Calvin argued that scripture alone (sola scriptura) could define doctrine. They expressly rejected both oral tradition and precedent.

While not all Protestants today would follow this doctrine as far as others, it is fair to say that the emphasis on scripture continues to form part of the distinction between Catholicism and Protestantism generally.

The problem of interpretation and the question of individual rights are closely connected both historically and logically. One reason our society today emphasizes individual rights is the lack of a papal equivalent in Protestantism (this is known as the problem of discipline). Ultimately, most Protestants in this country were forced to concede that the only truly religious society was one in which each worshipper was free to follow his or her own religious beliefs. The natural consequence of this was that it became illegitimate for society/government to establish any religious rules at all; any rule whatsoever would infringe on someone's attempt to worship God in his/her own way.

Individual rights are not separate and distinct from a religious society. Without them, there can be no such thing as a religious society. All that can exist is a society in which some people's beliefs are given preference over those of others.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Definitions -- Aisha, 13:00:02 03/26/02 Tue

Your view of a static standard is based on the view of a theocracy as based on a static code - deriving, one assumes, from an assessment of Christian and Jewish tradition. The position in Islam is somewhat different, as the Shari'a developed outside of the governing structure and was independent of the government. There are also a large number of legal principles which give rise to a number of legal schools and a difference of interpretations within those schools. One of those legal principles is customary usage. Hence it is not static. That part of the law which has to worship is, of course, static. But that part which applies to social matters has a certain flexibility built into it. The problem for Muslims these days is the Wahhabi tendency originating from Saudi Arabia which is static.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Scripture and hadith -- Sophist, 13:20:26 03/26/02 Tue

You are quite right that my view had its origins in my understanding of Christianity, specifically differences between Catholics and Protestants. My post above to alcibiades sets this out in more detail.

I believe the Jewish tradition is much closer to that of Islam, with the Talmud and other commentaries functioning in a way similar to hadiths. You and alcibiades can correct me if I'm wrong about this. My very limited understanding is that controversy over the hadiths is one of the distinctions between Sunnis and Shi'ites.

I was, however, making a universalist point: if any government enforces religious doctrine, it violates the religious beliefs and rights of those who don't share that view, whether they are dissenters within the religion or followers of another religion or non-believers. If a society gives preference to certain religious beliefs over others, I would not consider that a democratic society, nor, in the most fundamental sense, even a religious one, because it denies the validity of others' religion.

[> [> [> [> [> My ignorance is showing -- Ian, 17:45:03 03/23/02 Sat

First off, thanks for that information. Second, it is never my intention to purposely misstate or mislead with my posts. Clearly, I am not super (or perhaps even very) informed on the Islamic faith. I apologize for my error.

I just finished reading a book by Sarah Mackey titled "The Saudis," an account of her time in Saudi Arabia. The statement that women in Saudi Arabia were required by law (with severe punishments) to "hide" themselves so as not to tempt unsuspecting males, comes from that book. I agree with you that many things that are ascribed to religion actually arise from culture, but when the culture of male superiority meets scripture, it often happens that the interpretation and implementation of religion of those in power become inextricably linked. (I'm not mooting your point here.)

The whole Adam and Eve thing is my understanding of how women were originally blamed for the human condition in the Jewish and Christian faiths. I obviously entwined Islam in this, in error.

Nevertheless, at least in Saudi Arabia, "tradition commands this position of near imprisonment for women because Arab ethics revolve around a single focal point: the personal honor of the man. And the most important factor on which the preservation of a man's vaunted honor depends on the sexual behavior of women for whom he is responsible, his daughters and his sisters. Responsibility for his wife's sexual behavior resides not with him but with her male relations. Men live in terror that their women will commit a sexual offense. So exacting are the rules that a woman can lose her sexual honor by doing something as seemingly chaste as sitting next to a man on an airplane. And once lost, her sexual honor can never be regained."

In consequence, women are treated as little more than potentially shifty chattel.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: My ignorance is showing -- Aisha, 08:03:31 03/24/02 Sun

Saudi Arabia is not typical of the rest of the Muslim world. They have a very peculiar brand of theology. In Christian terms, they are very much like a Puritanic fundamentalist sect. As they have oil and hence money, they are able to propagate their particular brand of theology. Basically they tend to think that no one in the past has been properly Muslim until they came along to purify everything.


[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: My ignorance is showing -- Caroline, 16:13:50 03/24/02 Sun

Adding to Aisha's point...

The brand of Islam that is practised in Saudi Arabia is called Wahhabism and, at most, is most likely adhered to by about a third of the population. However, the Imams have significant political power due to their influence with the ruling family (the al-Saud family) and they are the religious police responsible for enforcing all the rules etc that you most likely read about in that book. The reason for this is the threat that the Wahhabis pose to political stability in the country.

The veil predates the birth of Islam and was incorporated into its practices in some countries, but certainly not all. There is an intersection of culture and religion that takes place everywhere - witness the Catholic churches efforts to keep its worship free of native influences in Africa and Latin America. It's unsurprising that this should happen in the Arab peninsula.

So perhaps those in the west should stop seeing Islam as the 'other' and give thanks that while Europe was lost in the Dark Ages, Arab, Jewish and Muslim scholars across the entire Islamic world not only saved and translated the classics of Greek and Roman scholarship into Arabic for later use by Europeans in the Renaissance, but that those same scholars added to field of learning including, but not limited to, mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, engineering, architecture, poetry, literature, etc.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agree with Caroline. -- Rahael, 01:50:06 03/25/02 Mon

Especially about the crucial role played by Islamic culture in the European Renaissance.

Once, Christianity, Islam and Judaism were regarded as 'people of the book'. Okay, Islam saw Christianity Islam and Judaism as having a common religious heritage, lol. Now all that seems to have been lost. Rather than being the 'other' these three religions are very close.

[> [> [> [> [> answering several points -- anom, 23:19:46 03/24/02 Sun

I came into this thread in the middle & have jumped around in reading it, so I hope I'm not repeating what others have said. It's also very late & I'm tired, but I want to comment before the thread is archived, so I also hope I'm making sense, even though I need to condense my comments severely, & that I'm identifying other posters & their statements correctly. Apologies if I don't.

First, to Aisha, who wrote: "Okay, as a Muslim, I'm going to have to comment" & went on to be very informative, welcome & shalom aleichem/as-salaam aleikum. I asked awhile back if there were any Muslim posters on this board & got no answers, so I'm glad that's changed. I think many cultures use religion, whether Islam or other ones, as a justification for preexisting attitudes & practices that don't actually come from the religion & may not be supported by it.

I think it was Sophist who wrote about theocracies enforcing 2,000-yr.-old rules & beliefs. I'd say many of them take much more recent rules & claim they come from 2,000 years ago (e.g., the Catholic Church's current position on abortion dates back only ~200 years).

Cactus Watcher wrote: "But, you should realize that sexual hang ups are much older than Christianity. Take the story of the expulsion from paradise for example." The interpretation of this story as being about sex is Xtian, but the story itself isn't. The text itself states that the expulsion was a consequence of Adam & Eve's disobedience in eating the fruit of the tree of life, not of their having sex--which they didn't even do before the expulsion, they were just aware of it & of their nakedness. (Or is that exactly the hangup you were talking about?) Anyway, the Jewish view of that story is not that it means sex itself is bad.

Alcibiades (I think) said in response to Aisha's question that Orthodox Judaism as well as Islam considers women to be entitled to sexual pleasure. I don't think it's only Orthodoxy, especially since that position (so to speak) dates back to before the current branches of Judaism. In any case, yes, in Judaism sexual satisfaction is considered a husband's obligation to his wife (there's even a schedule of how often he's supposed to, um, oblige her depending on his occupation, based on things like how physically demanding his work is & how much it takes him away from home). However, in Orthodoxy at least, much of the burden is on women to avoid turning men on, leading to restrictions in dress, separate seating during services so the men can't see the women, & prohibition of men hearing women sing (yup), which ends up meaning women can't sing in front of men, including for mixed audiences. much for condensing my comments....

[> [> Re: Okay you smartypants, tell me why... -- JM, 21:30:38 03/22/02 Fri

As enlightened an age as we are privaleged to live in, I think we should acknowledge that is a very recent one. Only in the last hundred years have we existed in a world where any hetrosexual encounter did not have a very high probability of leading to conception. The traditional social structures and religious precepts are based around assuring that those very likely children are supported. Even in our own day and age of technology-aided social services, children being raised in poverty or neglect is still a very serious issue. And all political stripes have opinions on how best to address those challenge. On the opposites sides of America's political spectrum there is advocacy of publicly funded contraception and education and advocacy of agressive abortion rights. There is also a movement to strengthen the legal mandates of marriage and legally codemn any deviance from this sturcture. Although the intermediate goals of the various movements vary drastically, I think both have a common goal in the fate of children. One that has been pursued since the dawn of civilization. The ideal that no child grow up in agony, pain, or neglect. That has to be the aim of civilization. Otherwise, it will never perpetuate.

Yes, now we have far more options, thanks to technology, but we are still building the cultural tools to fully leverage those option. And I think it expresses less than our full potential as intelligent people to indulge in a knee-jerk rejection of religious values we may disagree with. Most religions have origins that predate today's contraceptive options, and their precepts reflect that fact. I think it is far more constructive to understand the origins of these opinions, treat them with the respect we would automatically give a foreign culture, and, if we are so disposed, vehemently continue to reject them.

[> [> [> Re: Okay you smartypants, tell me why... (spoilers for Hell's Bells) -- Valhalla, 21:15:42 03/25/02 Mon

I don't think it's quite right that you can't see happy marriages on TV. There are tons of married people on TV, most of them more or less happily married (for some reason that Ray Romano show comes to mind; the Cosbys; 7th Heaven (or so I've heard); Mad About You, etc.) The rule seems to be that if a couple is married when the show starts, that's ok, people will keep watching. You just can't get married after the show starts.

I think much of the reason that people stop watching a show when major characters get together (they don't even have to marry - Moonlighting is the classic example of a show tanking after the main characters hooked up) is that usually, the show has built its audience up around the particular romantic tension between two characters. When the tension's over, the reason people were attracted to the show in the first place goes away.

To bring this back around to Buffy, there's still hope for Xander and Anya. Buffy didn't build its audience around just their courtship, and even if Hell's Bell's never happened and Xander had gone through with it, there are plenty of dramatic post-wedding storylines out there for them. (it would be a mixed marriage after all) Prior to HB, they had been more or less a happy, committed couple for quite a while, and it doesn't seem like viewship for Buffy dropped off because of that. Now if Spike and Buffy suddenly had a happy, healthy, loving relationship, the whole Moonlighting phenomenon might occur, since much of seasons 5 and 6 have centered specifically around the tension in their relationship.

[> [> [> there are other recent changes -- anom, 22:51:38 03/25/02 Mon

"As enlightened an age as we are privaleged to live in, I think we should acknowledge that is a very recent one. Only in the last hundred years have we existed in a world where any hetrosexual encounter did not have a very high probability of leading to conception. The traditional social structures and religious precepts are based around assuring that those very likely children are supported."

They're also based around some other circumstances most of us are lucky enough not to have to think about these days. DNA testing is even newer than effective contraception. Many of the restrictions on women that have been discussed in this thread had at least as much to do w/making sure the children a man's wife bore were his as w/making sure those children were supported. In many societies, the economic system made it extremely hard for parents to support their children adequately. And until the last century or two, there was close to an even chance that any one child would not live to grow up. A primary goal of those "traditional social structures and religious precepts" was to make sure a man's bloodline & name didn't die out. One way to do this was to make sure his wife had lots of babies, so more of them were likely to survive & have their own children. Most men & women believed this was the main value of women; being childless was a terrible fate & a stigma for a woman & didn't become a choice until just a few decades ago (except for women in celibate religious orders).

We need to be careful about projecting contemporary attitudes onto past societies. It's a comparatively recent idea in much of the world, including most of Western society, that children have rights & that it's wrong to abuse them (or women, for that matter). So is the idea that childhood is a time of innocence to be insulated from the world & protected. (I have a book on this someplace; if I find it before this thread goes under, I'll post the title.)

[> [> [> [> The Disappearance of Childhood -- Kimberly, 06:47:44 03/26/02 Tue

By Neil Postman, I think. At least, that is also it's theme.

[> [> Re: Okay you smartypants, tell me why... -- JBone, 21:55:21 03/22/02 Fri

Okay, I'm going in over my head here, but I've had just enough beer to do it. Look at the world that Christianity was born into. Romans takings slaves from those that they conquered and having all those Roman orgies. Christianity was a way of making up rules like "You can't do that, and we're not even Jews saying this." Damn Romans, they just had to push it beyond any reason, and ended up screwing it up for everyone. Then later on all the diseases and the like during the dark ages that was killing everyone, kind of reinforced the "don't screw people you don't know" mind set. In fact, there always seems to be some diseases that should scare most people off of promiscuous sex. But here the world is, screwing their brains out, not protecting themselves or their loved ones. Now having herpes, or whatever is like a badge of being desirable. "Hey, I couldn't have caught this if someone didn't find me attractive."

So, what is a healthy sex life? Just being able to get some at some kind of regular interval to feel good about yourself, or is it finding someone you can kind of trust for a little while to be with until the next Mrs/Mr Right comes along? Or maybe it could be finding someone you can share your sex with that you can commit to for a lifetime and they can do the same for you?

TV shows by their nature are about people who are f*cked up. They can't have a decent relationship, because once they settle down, it gets boring. Oh, those two are at it again, what's on the other channel? I'm probably not making any sense here, but I won't let that stop me. What I was looking forward to with Xander and Anya was there was going to be a relationship on the show that was going have to deal with all the little crap about what it takes to stick together and make a relationship work. I know this unfair considering the age of the characters, but now its just another shot to hell relationship on the Buffy landscape. The only working one we get to see is a brief glimpse at Mr and Mrs Finn. Of course everyone tore it down, it's impossible. There is no way two people can be happily married on tv, because if they were, we would never watch. We watched that episode, therefor, they cannot be happily married.

[> [> [> Re: Okay you smartypants, tell me why... -- JM, 22:37:26 03/22/02 Fri

Don't lose hope yet for Anya and Xander. I think it's a TV first that a jilter admitted to thinking he made a mistake, not a life affirming decision. He was glowing that morning, he just got broadsided by a lifetime of issues. Plus the Harrises (despite their pathologies) and the Rosenbergs are still couples. And Giles, I thought, was envious of the X/A domesticity. And Joyce has continued to speak of her husband and their relationship fondly.

You're probably right about drama though. Who other than Nick and Nora have effectively celebrated on-screen marriage?

[> [> When and why did Christianity become antisex? -- Kimberly, 06:53:51 03/23/02 Sat

As someone who has found the history of Christianity fascinating, Christianity became anti-sex right from the beginning, when Paul created the new religion.

First, the Jewish religion on which Christianity was founded was anti-female (read Ian's post about why; I loved it!). According to my Jewish sister-in-law, it still is, and for the same reasons. Since Paul was apparently a misogynist, he brought that belief in.

The other reason Christianity is so anti-sex is because of its anti-world bias. Right from the start, it extolled a life of the spirit and condemned a life of the world, the body. This tendency probably came from the Hellenic culture of the time. It was a dualistic philosophy; if the soul is good, the body must be evil. And what is more of the body than sex? And what is more of the world than conceiving children?

BTW, although they were probably not as effective as what we have today (I don't know enough about the subject to be able to say), there have been contraceptives around for centuries. But, since they were known to the midwives, the only women allowed any real power . . . See anti-female, above.

That is the real problem Right-Wingers have with Buffy. It's not the sex, it's the fact that the women are all portrayed as strong. (So are the men, but since they use their brains, not just their hormones, that gets missed.)

[> [> [> Re: Very True -- Dedalus, 08:17:05 03/23/02 Sat

There are some delightful passages in I Corinthians where Paul even forbids women from speaking in church. It is "shameful." I saw some program on the Discovery Channel not long ago and they still had remnants of old devices that had been used in the Middle Ages to clamp over a woman's mouth to keep her from talking so much. How in the world the women preachers of today can ignore that is beyond me, although it is funny in a way. If anything, the women of the Right Wing are even more fanatical than the men.

Basically, Christianity was very influenced by two lines of completely nutty thinking that were transmitted into its Scholasticism via Aquinas and Augustine - Platonic dualism, and Aristotelian causality. Neither of which have much precedent in actual nature, at least the way they are established in theology. I hold more to a philosophy of interdependence and correlatives, because that's the real way the world works. One early Christian thinker wrote that "God is the mutual implication of all things," but any such lines like that were greatly oppressed in favor of a deity all good, all powerful, all male, and all perfect.

This dissociation between flesh and spirit has caused great damage to the world, imo. Paul use to actually beat and mortify his own flesh. If you ever doubt that you're your body, just pinch yourself. If it hurts, I guess that settles the whole mind/body split.

As Alan Watts so eloquently put it, "Matter is spirit named."

[> [> [> Ancient Middle Eastern Culture -- Sophist, 09:26:30 03/23/02 Sat

Kimberly is basically right. Paul is the source of most misogynist thinking in the New Testament. But it wasn't just his psychological peculiarities. Most middle eastern societies then were very male dominated. We see remnants of that today in orthodox jewish congregations, but even more "western" cultures -- Greeks and Romans -- had similar attitudes. It's hardly surprising that a religion which developed out of that culture adopted those attitudes.

The interesting thing is, all the evidence we have shows that the new religion's first and most fervent converts were women. From the beginning, there were aspects of Christian doctrine which strongly appealed to women. The pagans of the time even criticized Christianity as "womanish".

The attitudes you see today have less to do with Christianity than they do with the peculiar beliefs of people like Falwell. Sure, they can point to Biblical passages to justify their hate. But there are many messages in the other direction. The Bible can be used to justify pretty much any position. People choose for themselves the position they want to take and only then look to the Bible.

[> [> [> [> Re: Ancient Middle Eastern Culture -- Caroline, 13:06:47 03/23/02 Sat

I can't think of one culture in biblical times that wasn't patriarchal or male-dominated in some way - Jews, Greeks, Romans, Babylonian, etc. And part of partriarchy is the symbolic degradation of the female principle. Things associated with the female principle include sexuality, and all the things associated with female sexuality - menstruation, birth etc. Part of the way that Greek males dealt with their fear of the feminine principle (or anima) was through splitting and projection - women were either harlots or wives. (Those virgins in the temples were by no means untouched!). Either way, women were controlled.

The old testament is also the history of a patriarchal culture and while Jesus Christ may have preached a message of tolerance and allowed a former prostitute to become one of his closest followers, his successors, particularly Paul, reverted back to societal norms, where the negative female anima is projected by men onto women. The remnants remain with us to this day - refusal to allow women clergy in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, sex for procreation only, women wearing veils to church, and, in the Eastern Orthodox churches, women being refused communion when menstruating and being unable to approach the altar, which is the domain of men. So the message is that women are 'dirty', associated with blood, with birth, with sex and orgasm, with uncontrollable lust (oh those horrible multiple orgasms!) and those things must be controlled. How nice of Pauline scripture to allow us a break though - those of us who cannot control our desires are better off married, so that we don't live in sin.

[> [> [> [> Paul telling women not to speak... -- Scroll, 13:26:46 03/23/02 Sat

It's been years since I studied that particular part of 1 Corinthians, but I think Paul commanding women not to speak in church has been taken out of context. In that church in Corinth, there were two women (I forget their names but I think they were Greeks not Jews) who had been speaking heresy. And people were starting to believe them and to drift away from Jesus' teachings. Paul's letters warned the church not to listen to these women. Unfortunately, either Paul made a blanket statement saying not to listen to *all* women, or translaters later interpreted him as saying that, or people nowadays simply try to read that passage as *all women shouldn't speak*, I'm not sure what... But that led to this whole 'women can't speak in church' debate that still goes on today.

I think you're correct in that early Christianity especially appealed to women. Many of its strongest supporters were women, especially some Roman women who had the money and power to protect early Christians from being captured and killed. It's unfortunate that history doesn't remember these brave women more clearly.

As for this Falwell guy, people have always and probably will continue to twist the Bible to fit whatever agenda they are propagating. Think of the Crusades or Hitler. I mean, when did Jesus ever tell anyone to kill Muslims or Jews? or anyone else for that matter?

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Paul telling women not to speak... -- Katie, 14:01:37 03/23/02 Sat

Jesus was Jewish wasn't he? Maybe I'm being ignorant but why would Jesus have told his followers to murder Jews when they are worshipping a Jewish man?

[> [> [> [> [> [> Jesus was Jewish... -- Scroll, 09:21:01 03/25/02 Mon

That's exactly the point I was trying to make about Hitler and other anti-Semites twisting the Bible for their own purposes. They all seem to conveniently forget that Jesus and the apostles and most of the early Christians were Jews. And Jesus was most certainly a pacifist who preached against hatred and killing. That's what makes Hitler's claim to be doing "God's work" such a twisted thing.

[> [> [> I deny... -- LeeAnn, 09:44:01 03/23/02 Sat

As someone who has found the history of Christianity fascinating, Christianity became anti-sex right from the beginning, when Paul created the new religion.

As a semipseudo-Christian I deny that Paul created Christianity.

Christ founded Christianity.

Christ was celibate. But Christ was in no way anti-woman.

[> [> [> [> Re: I deny... -- Kimberly, 10:06:45 03/23/02 Sat

Although Christ was the inspiration, the institution of Church and Christianity as it has come down to us today is primarily founded on Paul's interpretations and teachings of Christ's actions and words. In that sense, Paul can be considered the "founder" of Christianity.

If Christ had truly been the founder of Christianity as it exists today, it would be a much different religion. Much more tolerant, much more accepting of metaphor, much kinder to those who are different, female, have made mistakes. It would also be a much more "Jewish" religion. And it's a shame that Paul had such a great influence over the course of Christianity; much of the things I dislike about it come, not from the Gospels, but from Paul's letters.

As a semipseudo-Christian: I like that. It describes me too; especially if you had "pagan" in there somewhere.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: I deny... -- Claire, 11:56:15 03/23/02 Sat

The Angel episdoe Billy had a man who hated women. He explained his beliefs were caused by women tempting men I believe? Perhaps that is what concerns some right wing people? An inability to control themselves if presented with sexy behaviour on tv? After all if a women is wearing revealing clothing it obviously takes away a mans reasning and justifies any depraved behaviour. Right?
In England a few years ago a young African girl was tortured and murdered by her aunt who claimed the child was possessed by the devil. Sure enough I watched an episode of Kilroy (English chat show) and a preacher was suggesting that the aunt could well have been right and the 8 year old girl was evil. Disgusting!

[> [> [> [> [> [> Prevalent attitudes towards Rape -- Ian, 12:10:12 03/23/02 Sat

For further proof of this barbaric mindset in action today, just think of the societal trend to blame the women who are victims of rape.

"But she was asking for it...."

"She was wearing a revealing outfit; of course she was asking me to forcibly have sex with her."

Once again, it is not the responsibility of men to control their sexual drive, but the failure of women to diffuse that drive.

"How dare that woman look attractive to me or say no to me, because I'm a man and I demand sexual gratification. If I rape her, it's her fault for arousing me and then saying no."

The really, really sick part of all this is how often and how readily our (American) legal system rewards this type of "blame the female victim" mentality.

(Man, I've got to stop reading this thread, because I'm just too icked out by it not to respond.)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> The rape of Mr. Smith. -- yuri, 02:11:25 03/24/02 Sun

A real "open your eyes" piece, this shows how rediculous the questions asked of rape victims can be.

The Rape of Mr. Smith

[> [> [> [> [> Paul & Christianity -- Fred, the obvious pseudonym, 18:18:25 03/23/02 Sat

Remember that Saul (Paul before he saw the light) made his living as a Roman bureaucrat. He applied his former career's knowledge to organizing the Catholic Church.

Since the Church was designed by a bureaucrat, why are we surprised at the result?

[> [> [> Re: When and why did Christianity become antisex? -- Corwin of Amber, 20:12:02 03/23/02 Sat

> As someone who has found the history of Christianity fascinating, Christianity became anti-sex right from the beginning, when Paul created the new religion.

Any religion that is anti-sex dies out. Ask the Shakers...oh you can't, they died out. :)

I think it's more correct to say that Christianity is anti irresponsible sex. Bringing a child into the world, the natural result of sex, without a set of parents to care for it is irresponsible. We have all sort of modern
procedures for getting around being responsible for the results of sex - contraceptives, adoption, abortion - so we've started to forget the reasons for the rule.
> The other reason Christianity is so anti-sex is because of >its anti-world bias. Right from the start, it extolled a >life of the spirit and condemned a life of the world, the >body. This tendency probably came from the Hellenic culture >of the time. It was a dualistic philosophy; if the soul is >good, the body must be evil. And what is more of the body >than sex? And what is more of the world than conceiving >children?

Umm, no. I know thats a heresy...I think either the Gnostic or Manichean, I'm too sleepy to remember, and too tired to get up and look it up. The world was created good, just like everything He created - he said so.

> That is the real problem Right-Wingers have with Buffy. It's not the sex, it's the fact that the women are all portrayed as strong.

Ah yes. Conservatives want to lock women in the basement and have sex with them once a year. Oh yeah, make them cook too. :)

Sorry, it's just the liberal misconceptions about conservatives are funny. :)

I'm a Republican and a Catholic btw. :)

[> [> [> [> Manicheans are dualists. -- Sophist, 20:55:22 03/23/02 Sat

Yes, dualism of gods is a heresy.

However, you are incorrect on the main point of your response. The distinction between body and soul is a different form of dualism. Not only is this form of dualism not condemned by the church, it is an essential part of doctrine (and probably heretical to deny). Kimberly was also correct that the doctrine originated in the dominant philosophy of the Hellenic world in late antiquity.

As for being anti-sex, well, Paul did say it was better never to marry (and therefore better never to have sex), but for those who were weak, marriage was better than sex outside marriage. Whether this is anti-sex or not, I leave to others to judge.

Can't really say if you're right about Conservatives and their wives, but if you say so.......... :).

[> [> [> [> [> Anti-Sex -- Sophist, 07:01:41 03/24/02 Sun

I was paraphrasing Paul from memory last night. A better paraphrase (and a stronger one for Kimberly's point) is this: It is better never to touch a woman, but if a man is weak, it is better to marry than to burn. I Corinthians 7:1-9.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Manicheans are dualists. -- Kimberly, 07:41:31 03/24/02 Sun

Thank you Sophist. You made my points better than I could myself.

[> [> [> [> [> [> :) -- Sophist, 08:16:54 03/24/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> didn't make myself clear -- Corwin of Amber, 10:52:33 03/24/02 Sun

>Yes, dualism of gods is a heresy.
>However, you are incorrect on the main point of your >response. The distinction between body and soul is a >different form of dualism. Not only is this form of dualism >not condemned by the church, it is an essential part of >doctrine (and probably heretical to deny).

Yeah, everything you said is true. I was mainly objecting to the idea that Christianity believes that the world was created evil. My brain is still trying to cough of what that particular heresy is's been over 10 years since I took Early Christian History in college.

Not that their aren't Christians that believe that, but it isn't an actual Christian teaching.

[> [> [> [> [> [> that particular heresy -- alcibiades, 12:32:43 03/24/02 Sun

"I was mainly objecting to the idea that Christianity believes that the world was created evil. My brain is still trying to cough of what that particular heresy is called..."


[> [> [> [> Re: When and why did Christianity become antisex? -- Kimberly, 07:36:21 03/26/02 Tue

It's taken me a while to respond to this for the very simple reason that you made a very valid point and I had to figure out how to reconcile your view with mine. Before I go any farther, I will state that, although I was raised Christian (Methodist/Presbyterian to be exact), I have rejected the religion. So, I come at it skeptical of "official" teachings.

Any religion that is anti-sex dies out. Ask the Shakers...oh you can't, they died out. :) Well, yes, you're right. If the anti-sex doctrine that was part of the foundation of Christianity had been stronger, we'd be Mithraic or Muslim, or something else. It was there and effected the way it developed. However, early Christianity was also forgiving of man's flaws (something I suspect Jesus would have approved of) and gave those who couldn't follow a religion that forbade sex a way out-- marriage.

I think it's more correct to say that Christianity is anti irresponsible sex. I don't think this had much to do with the foundation of Christianity. The ascetic tendencies of early Christianity, including that a man would only have sex with his wife and vice versa, may have increased its appeal in its early centuries. (I don't know enough about Roman culture at the time, but the impression I have is pretty licentious.)

Yes, complete dualism is a heresy. But in the history of early Christianity (before Constantine) is one in which what became Christianity was one of several different forms. What is now called a heresy was then as "valid" as any others. (I'm not debating which is the most valid set of beliefs. I'm merely talking about history.)

At the same time, Christianity as it exists today does have dualist tendencies. I'm not as familiar with Catholicism as with the Protestant beliefs, so it may not be as strong there. (There is no such thing as ONE Christianity; there's lots of variations.)

I always enjoy being forced to clarify my own muddy thinking. Thank you.

[> [> [> Re: When and why did Christianity become antisex? -- anom, 21:08:07 03/25/02 Mon

"First, the Jewish religion on which Christianity was founded was anti-female (read Ian's post about why; I loved it!). According to my Jewish sister-in-law, it still is, and for the same reasons. Since Paul was apparently a misogynist, he brought that belief in."

Not sure which of Ian's posts you mean--the one in the "smartypants" subthread? It doesn't seem to be specific to Judaism, & the "fall of man" concept, especially the idea that it was because of sex, is definitely not Jewish.

I don't know which branch of Judaism your sister-in-law was brought up in, but I certainly wouldn't say Judaism as a whole is "anti-female." In fact, I wouldn't say it ever was (certainly it didn't consider itself to be); it was more that the men were making the rules & often didn't take the effect on women into account, as people in power generally don't consider the needs of people without it. (In some ways, I actually have more problems w/the way rabbinical tradition treats women than w/the way Torah does.) BTW, do you mean Paul was a misogynist personally, or because he was a Jew at a time when Judaism was "anti-female"?

Someone else talked about attitudes toward women in terms of menstruation, but in Judaism any discharge in any person--whether in the form of menstrual blood, semen, or a running sore--rendered the person unclean, which meant they couldn't enter the Temple. There's a lot more to this part, w/more detail than I can go into here & now (& probably more than anyone's interested in), plus I'd have to look stuff up to make sure I got it right & I don't have time.

What it comes down to is that I think calling Judaism at the time of Jesus (or now) "anti-female" is too much of a blanket statement.

[> [> [> [> Re: When and why did Christianity become antisex? -- Kimberly, 07:06:03 03/26/02 Tue

Ian's response is way up in this part of the thread. I put in the comment as much because I liked the way it was written, although there is certainly some truth to it.

First, I was raised Christian. I grew up in an area in which I don't think any Jews lived. We're talking small-town, rural Appalachia. Although I've done lots of reading on the subject, I don't claim any real-world knowledge of Judaism, and may be attributing things to it that properly are from Christianity.

From what she's said, my sister-in-law was raised as a Conservative Jew, but she has relatives who are very Orthodox. And, although it may be that the laws, customs, etc. are just the result of men making them without taking the women into account, the way she describes some customs sound pretty extreme. (Again, this may be the customs of a sub-culture than anything else, filtered through customs that I know are from anti-female customs.)

I state that Paul is misogynist based on his writings. I'm not entirely sure of the attitude of Jews at that time towards women.

One question I have for you: I once mentioned to her that I understood that in Orthodox Judaism, a woman was entitled to sexual pleasure from her husband. She said that it was sexual activity (for children), not necessarily pleasure. You have stated my original understanding. Where is it found? (I want to look at the originals now; my curiosity is up.)

Thanks for the information.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: When and why did Christianity become antisex? -- alcibiades, 10:10:44 03/26/02 Tue

"One question I have for you: I once mentioned to her that I understood that in Orthodox Judaism, a woman was entitled to sexual pleasure from her husband. She said that it was sexual activity (for children), not necessarily pleasure. You have stated my original understanding. Where is it found? (I want to look at the originals now; my curiosity is up.)"

One well known source is in the writings of Nachmanides, a late Medieval commentator. Don't know precisely where it is in his writings, but if you really want it I suppose I could email around and get it. The original however will be in Hebrew. It may exist somewhere in translation but I don't know that offhand.

[> It's sad this Board has become Political -- just disappointed, 12:23:36 03/24/02 Sun

Most people don't come to this board with a political agenda. It's sad when someone does. There are many political boards where the left and the right can call each other names. This is supposed to be BUFFY Board.

It seems like those who call for "tolerance" is often the most intolerant of them all.

[> [> Re: It's sad this Board has become Political -- Ghostwood Developments, 14:05:43 03/24/02 Sun

"This is supposed to be BUFFY Board."

Not according to the words at the top of my screen.
This is supposed to be a *Buffy&Philosophy Board*.
Political Philosophy is a branch, Philosophy.

Are you also saddened when this board gets ethical or metaphysical?

[> [> Re: It's sad this Board has become Political -- Ian, 14:07:13 03/24/02 Sun

I don't really think this board has become political so much as recent posts have sought to explain and/or explore the world views BEHIND some of the polictical and moral objections to Buffy. I'm not aware of any posts that say "you shouldn't think or believe something." In fact, most vehemently uphold everyone's right to think and believe as they see fit.

The world of ideas and the various explanations for why the world is the way it is seems a completely valid topic to me on this board, especially as Buffy itself grapples with these same issues--albeit in a more artistic and metaphorical sort of way.

[> [> Re: It's sad this Board has become Political -- JM, 16:02:45 03/24/02 Sun

Don't be said. We're all political -- isn't man a political animal? Some of us probably more consciously than others define our world view in specifically political terms. It's been very refreshing to see the intelligent, principled, and respectful discussions going on. (Though granted the whole specturm of even American political sentiments is not porportionally represented. That's simply a function of the fact that 'Net communities are one of choice and membership is self-selecting. There will always be less variety than is encountered in the world at large.) The delicate balance between tolerance and principle is a difficult one, one that changes throughout each of our lives. I suspect that each of us are more and less tolerant than we believe, depending on context and circumstances. It's a factor of all of our unconscious assumptions.

[> [> [> Re: It's sad this Board has become Political -- Agreed with Disappointed, 17:20:33 03/24/02 Sun

Some people try to push their political agenda into every aspect of their lives. They claim to be "tolerant" but have a distinct intolerance to those who might disagree with their political viewpoint.

I enjoy Buffy. I hope that because I don't belong to a poltical party, or have a left leaning political agenda, that's ok with you.

But even if it isn't, too bad.

[> [> [> Re: It's sad this Board has become Political -- clg0107, 11:54:57 03/25/02 Mon

>isn't man a political animal?

Yep, and in the end, all politics is local. What matters to you, personally, will in some way become political. Since we're all intelligent people who believe things, sooner or later our political leanings are going to get involved in what gets discussed here.

No biggie!

As for tolerance, I'm a Republican and...for the sake of the example I'm going to make...I'm pro-life. Not picket on the street, bumper sticker, in your face pro-life. But sittng in my house thinking it's stopping a beating heart pro-life. Whatever. Anyway, let's just say that my sentiments have not always been met with tolerance by the breast-beating NARAL members that I've encountered in my day. All sorts of rash assumptions have been thrown at me -- I'm "anti-choice" so I must be in favor of women being oppressed by the patriarcal establishment, or of bleeding to death in an alley somewhere, or that all women should stay home barefoot and pregnant, or that girls who are molested should just deal, or whatever...all of which is tripe.

Tolerance is relative. It's a lot easier to preach it than to exercise it, like most values in the world.


[> [> [> [> Re: It's sad this Board has become Political -- Darby, 07:13:02 03/26/02 Tue

I gotta ask, why a heartbeat?

Sorry, but it's a question I discuss with my classes - I have them pick a time when they believe full legal rights should be granted, and "heartbeat" shows up in a very small fraction (more than mine, though, which involves brainwaves). But part of the discussion includes "Why at that point in time? What makes it 'human' then?"

I know that this won't help the "Eeek! We're political!" assertion, but, hey, extended reruns!

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Not surprising this Board has become Political -- clg0107, 14:53:43 03/26/02 Tue

>I know that this won't help the "Eeek! We're political!" assertion, but, hey, extended reruns!

Exactly!! Naturally, the dialogue is going to meander!

As for the beating heart thing, that was pretty much me repeating a bumper sticker I've seen. And, in so doing, becoming an example of why that doesn't really contribute to debate.

I belong to the school that says that now that we define the end of life by the absence of brainwaves, the opposite should also be true. Since brain activity is detectable around 7 weeks gestation (if I remember correctly) "begins" pretty early.

Of course, that's a biotech take on the situation. The more litigious part of me says that if in other decisions about termination of life (like the imposition of the death penalty, for example), we give the object of the discussion the benefit of the doubt, we should have a parallel approach to the inception. Thus, if there is any doubt about when life starts, aren't we bound to adhere to the most strict (early) standard that is presented?

Then, there's my gut that says none of that really matters, because if you just leave it in the oven to grow, it will be a person, so the issue of *when* that moment is becomes irrelevant. Which means that in my heart, I default to conception/implantation.

Seeing how complicated it is for me, it's small wonder that the overall societal discussion is so very VERY messy!!


Thanks for the follow-up!

[> [> Re: It's sad this Board has become Political -- Rahael, 07:13:10 03/25/02 Mon

What we are having on the board is a free exchange of ideas and information.

So if you feel the majority of the board espouse a certain line of thought, and you disagree, it would be great if those who don,t follow it to speak up. That,s what I thought the board was about. I,ve never been afraid to speak my opinion here, even when I,ve thought that the vast majority would disagree with me. There,s a reason why we have a reputation for civility.

Hey, I,m not a Jungian! Or even a Campbellist! and the lauding of Spike and the degrading of our heroine irritates me. But I don,t feel threatened, nor does my world view feel threatened, nor do I feel personally attacked just because someone disagrees with my point of view. I just get stuck into a debate with relish.

What I would have a problem is with being told that a certain conversation is off-limits,. So being told don,t come here with your anti-Spike agenda, would not make me a very happy poster.

I can only echo the comments by other posters and in particular JM (whose posts I always read with pleasure, and who, if I remember correctly, stated some time ago that he/she was politically conservative) that politics can and must come under our purview. Please note the words at the top of this board. I feel that this site offers something special. There,s a gazillion sites out there about Buffy with message boards. This board offers something slightly different, and that,s why, I suspect, most of us come here. We aren,t trying to make, Buffy something it isn,t. We all have our interpretations, and we are entitled to discuss them.

As far as I,m concerned, free and open discussion (which is non-hateful) is a vital part of democracy, whether on this board, or in society in general. If someone is rude or intolerant, other people will attempt to reason with that poster. If people disagree, they so so.

If you want to say that politics shouldn,t be discussed here, tell us why. Give us reasoned arguments. We aren,t all left-wingers, here. We have all shades of opinion. And we aren,t all anti-religion,. I may condemn hypocrisy in the Christian church precisely because I am a Christian. As instructed, I,m taking the beam out of my eye before trying to take the speck out of someone else,s. This board is neither secular, nor anti-religion, nor left-wing,. We have all shades of opinion here. And I don,t feel particularly offended or threatened by the criticisms made here regarding Christianity. I would say so if I did. I haven,t hesitated to tilt at windmills here in true quixotic manner at imagined insults or intolerance against anything or anyone. And last I heard of it, right wing wasn,t an insult. It,s a pretty neutral term. And in fact, most of the right wingers I know are proud of being thus labelled.

I would say with confidence however, that we are intolerant of hate, intolerant of oppressive behaviour, intolerant of cruelty and unkindness. If that gives us an agenda, I embrace my agenda with open arms.

If you disagree with my opinion, say so. I can,t promise that I,ll agree with you just for the sake of achieving consensus. I,ll change my mind if you offer good arguments surely that,s the kind of respect to you that you would want? I,m slightly puzzled at the anonymous posts talking vaguely of intolerant behaviour. Which behaviour? Whose? And which political agenda in particular?

[> [> [> Here, here, Rahael! -- clg0107, 11:59:18 03/25/02 Mon

That's genuine agreement, not just for the sake of consensus!


[> [> [> Re: It's sad this Board has become Political -- Agree with Disappointed, 18:45:12 03/25/02 Mon

"So if you feel the majority of the board espouse a certain line of thought, and you disagree, it would be great if those who don,t follow it to speak up. "

I do think this board tends to lean to one side of the political spectrum, and at least from some of the comments above is very hostile to certain viewpoints.

For example Eric said "And my judgement is that Fundementalists Are Basically Dangerous Morons". Not a very open viewpoint to alternative views.

As well the term "right wing" was used. I for one don't see how that term has any relevance in Modern American Political discourse as it seems to come from another time and another country. And it seems, all to often to be used to lump some people with other people in an attempt to demonize.

I think demonization is one of the most ugly things that has happened to modern Political American discourse. It goes back to the Frankfurt School,and perhaps before that.

Demonization has really destroyed honorable debate in America. And that is ashame.

How terms have been abused in modern American political discourse.

The Origins of Modern American Political Correctness

[> [> [> [> Our bad? -- Ian, 20:03:54 03/25/02 Mon

I actually completely agree with you that the "demonization" of American politics is harmful to the ethos of democracy; once one can disparage the validity of an idea not by challenging the merits of that idea but by attaching the stigma of a buzzword--like dismissing a "left wing" belief as "big government, tax and spend"--intelligent, reasoned debate becomes nearly impossible.

However, to then chide your fellow posters with a "left leaning political agenda" (your statement) for using the term "right wing," could be construed as hypocritical.

Mind you, I'm not calling you a hypocrite. After all, I agree that "name calling" isn't in anyone's best interest-- as long as they have a viewpoint that can argued on the basis of merit rather than belief. However, in a shared cultural background such terms as "left wing" and "liberal" and "right wing" and "conservative" do have descriptive power. Also, "liberal" is now such a stigmatized word that even liberals hesitate to use the term. In contrast, "conservative" is still a badge of honor for those who so believe. Demonization works both ways, my friend.

My "argh" posting in this thread is not one of my proudest moments. In it, I went beyond espousing my point of view to actively degrading another, and not in a reasoned and fair-minded manner. I add this to point out that while I really do intend to TRY to be polite and fair minded, I often fail miserably. I hope that doesn't make me a hypocrite. :)

With respectful regards,

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Our bad? -- Agreed with Disappointed, 21:30:27 03/25/02 Mon

You set the terms of the debate. Just responding to the term "right' with the term "left'.

I am through debating with narrow minded people like you. Thank you for proving my point.

By the way, you are anything but respectful to people who don't share your point of view.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Just Sad -- just disappointed, 22:18:57 03/25/02 Mon

This is too bad to see this board go the political route. Do you think Buffy and Spike will get together again? Will Dawn find a boyfriend? Will Anya seek revenge against Xander? Will Willow Abuse magic again?

Oh, Hell forget it. Just go on with your poltically bashing. Relgious Right wing people are facists. They should be locked up. Ok, guys. Now can I be part of your little club?

Well forget it. I came here because I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not to shove any political agenda down anyones throat.

Have fun demonizing your political enemies. I for one will find another board that actually discuses the show.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> But 'disappointed' you've been coming here longer than me!!!! -- Rahael, 02:18:56 03/26/02 Tue

One must conclude there's something here you like reading!!!!

I'm puzzled you pick out Eric.

And for your information, plenty of conservatives can be critical of religion. And plenty of socialists are Christian. I can't see the monolithic aspect to the debate you see - I see many gradations, many views. And some very polite, but interesting disagreements in this thread.

Read TRM's posts? Sophist's? Aisha's?

Hey, and as for the demonization part, I can only echo the feisty Cordelia - "demonize me, already!"

[> [> [> [> [> Ian, Eric -- Rahael, 02:31:28 03/26/02 Tue

Don't engage.

I hate to see sincerity wasted. I could be being all nasty, suspicious and paranoid, but I have my suspicions about our little angry friends.

As far as I'm concerned we've been having a lively discussion.

And only one person has been throwing mud around.

I wouldn't post this publicly except for the fact that Ian is new, and he might not perhaps realise who they are. And I can't come to chat and tell you this privately because my home computer has now officially ceased to be.

And who needs the stress?? I'm willing to take the chance of being wrong to spare the feelings of two people I like and respect. Seeing as you two are being picked out in this unpleasant manner.

Ian, your posts seem to strike me as both polite and courteous. Don't for whatever reason come away thinking that there is a host of people here with a different impression.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I THOUGHT the style and basic theme looked familiar - only the angle of attack has changed... -- Darby, 07:20:50 03/26/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Afraid so. Feeding time is over. -- Sophist, 08:40:27 03/26/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> An historical note on name-calling in politics -- Sophist, 20:55:25 03/25/02 Mon

The practice (in this country at least) long predates the Frankfurt school. Newspapers in the 1790s, the first decade under the Constitution, launched vicious and very personal attacks on Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Adams. Hamilton and Jefferson encouraged these papers, each criticizing the other side for unfairness. Each of these revered figures made blistering comments about the others.

The tradition of abuse in politics continued even after the disappearance of the Federalist party. Most of it centered around the slavery debate, with Southern politicians the worst offenders (but not the only ones). Tempers ran so high at various points that members of Congress came armed to the sessions. On at least 1 occasion a gun was drawn on the floor of the Senate, and on at least 2 occasions one member assaulted another with a cane, inflicting extremely serious injury in the second case. This does not include duels fought by members of Congress out of doors.

The relative level of courtesy is pretty subjective. It's probably fair to say that courtesy gradually increased after the election of 1876, when Hayes agreed to end Reconstruction in return for his election to the presidency. Courtesy prevailed in Washington, but the losers, of course, were the former slaves.

Discourse was much more heated in the 1930s, as conservatives hated Roosevelt and he criticized "malefactors of great wealth". WWII calmed things down a little, but the Cold War and the civil rights movement heated them up again. Who you choose to blame depends largely on which side you are on.

Some historians have compared the 1790s to the 1990s in terms of vitriol. Again, the fault is variously apportioned.

A quick note on the use of "right wing" and "left wing". The conservative parties were happy to characterize themselves as "on the right" because the word "right" has connotations of Right and Justice, whereas "left" has more sinister (in French, literally) connotations. The terms "liberal" and "conservative" have been used to praise or blame depending on the speaker. I personally doubt they have much actual descriptive power, but they are common and it's hard to avoid them.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: An historical note on name-calling in politics -- Agreed with Disappointed, 22:03:11 03/25/02 Mon

I think what makes people like the Frankfurt school so different is the degree of demonization they placed on their enemy.

To people like Adorno who developed the pseudo-scientific F-scale, you disgree with their paradigm, then it's not only a matter of disagreeing with them. They label you mentality ill similar to what happened in the Soviet Union.

Later so called social scientists expanded on the F-scale with the RWA scale. Today it has gotten so bad, especially on the college campuses that mere disagreement with the progressive paradigm draws immediate punishment.

A case that proves the outright hostility that progressives have against anyone who disagrees with them is the case of Zewdalem Kebede. He was a student at San Diego State Univerisity. On September 22, after overhearing a group of Saudi students saying in Arabic how pleased they were with the September 11 attacks, Kebede, who is fluent in Arabic, said, "Guys, what you are talking is unfair. How do you feel happy when those 5,000 to 6,000 people are buried in two or three buildings?

He was arrested for that. Serves him right for standing up for America.

Maybe you progressives don't realize how ugly you have gotten. You like to call other people Nazis, but you are the ones behaving like them.

This board has suddenly gotten very hostile. It's obviously very intolerant to people of certain viewpoints. Ian, Eric, and several others on this board has stopped talking about Buffy, and instead have engaged in the most vile of attacks against groups of people they have grudges against.

I don't know if intolerance is the norm on this board. But I for one am not sticking around to find out. I will find a board that really talks about a show I love, instead of a board that teaches to hate people of alternative viewpoints and religions.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Addison and Steele -- Rahael, 04:31:52 03/26/02 Tue

I know virtually nothing about early American politics, so thanks for that post Sophist - very interesting.

Is there a link here with early press culture and political activism in 1750s London? Might that have been exported to America?

The Tatler and other periodicals sprung up as propaganda arms for the Whigs and Tories. Addison and Steele, much as I love them, virtuously portrayed themselves as 'neutrals' speaking out boldly against Government (tory) corruption. They were soon unmasked, but lively political debate in London, the growth of parliamentarianism and calls for the franchise all went hand in hand together.

In early modern elections, the voters could expect to physically injure candidates. One unpopular candidate swayed the crowd to vote for him, when he laughingly dismissed his broken arm as just 'an accident' caused by the jollity of the crowd. Only one prime minister managed to escape being mobbed by the crowd. You might not have been able to vote for him necessarily, but you were free to turn up outside his house and hurl a stone at him. And get away with it. One senior politician ran down the streets of London, followed by the crowd, dogding missiles and attempting to save his life. Eventually ran into a shop and hid.

It's not surprising therefore, that the suddenly booming print culture was irreverent (portraying Walpole as a thief and robber) and combative. Swift in his prose and poetry bemoaned the corruptness of Walpole, the deleterious effect he was having on politics. What he doesn't reveal is that he had earlier offered Walpole his services as propagandist and supporter!! Walpole turned him down.

Reminds me of the famous quote

"You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God! the British Journalist
But seeing what the man will do,
Unbribed, there's no occasion to!"

Not that i'm not a big fan of Swift. Just that 18th century politics did not mind the rough and tumble. Did not shirk from it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> The difference between trolling and dialogue -- Sophist, 08:32:16 03/26/02 Tue

If you don't like the Frankfurt school, I'm not going to defend them. Never a fan of theirs anyway. What I would say is that whatever the validity of your comments about Adorno, they don't seem to have much relevance to the original claim that the current lack of civility in politics stems from the Frankfurt school.

I limited my comments to the US after the Constitution because that seemed most relevant. Rahael has offered some interesting facts about British politics in the immediately preceeding period. Anyone familiar with Catholic/Protestant polemics from the 16th and 17th centuries would see far less civility. So would anyone knowledgeable about Greek and Roman politics. The point is, political name-calling is a human failing, not the fault of one isolated group of leftists (and I seriously doubt that even 10% of the posters on this Board have the slightest idea who or what the Frankfurt school is).

I'm baffled by the remainder of your post. Nothing I said in my historical note was particularly controversial, and it certainly did not attempt to assess blame on anyone now alive. In other posts above, I defended an extremely broad interpretation of freedom of speech. It's not clear to me why you felt it necessary to include in your response an attack on "progressives" in general based upon an isolated incident involving a few people. That would seem to be the very conduct you've criticized others for.

[> [> [> [> Yes they are... -- Eric, 05:59:03 03/26/02 Tue

Fundementalists are basically dangerous morons. Did I specify Christian (or Hindu or Moslem)? I DID add the caveat that it was a judgemental viewpoint. Dear old Grandpa was a Church of God minister. He gave the family the skinny on Fundementalist hypocracy 20 years BEFORE Jim and Tammy Baker made it a televangelist laughingstock. So this judgement predates my liberal college education (which wasn't THAT liberal or accepted unconditionally). But don't condem this board for being judgemental on my account. Here we have spirited defenses of soul less murdering vampires. Patriotism after 9/11 is vehemently defamed AND defended. Some posters are radically left, others right, most in the middle. Most posters try not to be derogatory to individuals. But they WILL call a few of your opinions on life, the universe, and everything into question. So a certain amount of intestinal fortitude is required. My advice? Don't take it too seriously; suck it up or pop smoke and move out. Finally, these discussions are cyclic. But they don't represent board's focus by a long shot. Raheal, I know you think this is a wasted effort. But I too would like this discussion archived.

[> [> [> [> [> Not wasted at all.... and who am I to talk? -- Rahael, 06:34:34 03/26/02 Tue

Hey, I'm the person who consistently engages with them!!

I always read these threads, mainly because the posters will find a way of civilising and engaging in a way which redeems other less civil comments.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Yes they are... -- Just Disappointed, 06:46:08 03/26/02 Tue

I think ideologues are dangerous idiots.

How many people died in the 20st Century due to all the -isms?

It seems like the ones who claim tolerance for others are the most intolerant ones themselves.

You hate people with legimate disagreemnts. You label them, you bar them from speaking at college campuses.

I see very little openness in your ideology driven mind.

[> Where does the term Right Wing come from anyway? -- Non Political, 17:45:15 03/24/02 Sun

It just seem like a term some just like to throw out against people they don't like.

What's the history of that term?

[> [> Where does the term Right Wing come from anyway? -- alcibiades, 19:37:07 03/24/02 Sun

Doesn't it come from the layout of the late 18th century French Parliament?

The third estate sat on the left and the nobles sat on the right.

[> [> [> No, the English parliament, for the reasons you mentioned -- Caroline, 06:51:14 03/25/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> hmmmmmm -- Rahael, 07:27:00 03/25/02 Mon

That's a new one to me. I thought Alcibiades' reason was the correct one.

Thinking about it, how could it have arisen from the English parliament? Its a rectangular room with rows on either side. We didn't have a 'left wing' party in British Politics until the early 20thC. Before that we had the Tories and the Whigs/Liberals who were in government and in opposition interchangeably. Neither occupied one side of the house in a long enough time for it to be associated with one party. And at no time during the early modern period were the words 'left wing or 'right wing' being used. Court and country, whigs and tories, placemen and backwoods men, yes.

My memory for French history is appalling. Specially for someone who was doing in-depth research for it only 5 or so months ago. But I think the left/right thing came from some sort of National Convention/Parliament/Assembly, which sat in a sort of horse shoe shape, and which sat in party groupings. French politics had genuine revolutionary, radical groupings closer to power long before British/English politics. With all these thoughts in my mind, I would plump for a French origin for Left and Right.
Not conclusively (I would have to look it up) but most probably.

[> [> [> National Convention, 1792. -- Rahael, 07:36:20 03/25/02 Mon

The Girondists, the moderates favoured opposed executing the King (sitting right of the chair) and the Montagnards favoured it (sitting left of the chair).

Apparently. I could be wrong.

But in any case, it couldn't be the English Parliament 'for the reasons Alcibiades stated'. Cos in England the third estate did not sit in the same house as the first. The House of Lords and the House of Commons are separate entities. France has a different structure. It has a whole complex of parliaments for different regions. And it has a National Assembly which is constituted when the king so wills it. The political structure of early modern France is far more complex than that of England, at least to this poor benighted (ex) student.

[> [> [> [> Alcibiades is correct -- Sophist, 08:43:22 03/25/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> Colour me corrected -- Caroline, 09:20:25 03/25/02 Mon

[> What "conservative" and "liberal" really mean -- Farstrider, 14:25:26 03/26/02 Tue

Interestingly, these terms were originally applicable only to the government's fiscal conduct. A conservative government was one that taxed and spent in a conservative fashion (i.e., smaller amounts), whereas a liberal government was one that was more liberal (i.e., larger amounts) in its taxing and spending.

Later these terms came to include the degree to which the government controlled its citizen's lives (which is obviously closely related to the government's fiscal activities). Thus, a conservative government was like a 'conservative' necktie or a 'conservative' estimate - self restrained, non- invasive and deliberately small. A liberal government was like a 'liberal' serving of mash potatoes - meaning, literally, "a lot".

Ironically, the Republican and Democratic parties have been associated with these terms, albeit often inappropriately. For example, Republicans are generally opposed to expanding new government programs, which fits with their "less government intrusion" identity, but some favor censorship, the drug war, capital punishment and many oppose abortion. So, they are not really conservatives at all. A recent example: Bush, as a "conservative" should favor the market as a forum for determining economic allocation, but recently imposed tariffs on steal imports.

Democrats fare no better in terms of ideological consistency. They favor a larger government role in citizens' lives, and advocate more taxes and government programs than Republicans, but more democrats than republicans favor legalizing drugs and abortion, making them less "liberal" than on these issues than the Republicans.

[Obviously, these are just examples. A million other considerations factor into these stances, like the role of law in society, the role of the courts, state's rights, etc. So, put your flamethrower down.]

Thus, suppose someone thinks sex on TV is bad, and wants it stopped. The conservative/liberal distinction comes into play only when the person advocates the manner in which it should be stopped. If they advocate government action, they are a liberal and if they advocate boycotts, protests, and letter writing campaigns, (i.e., they want the free market to resolve the problem), they are conservative.

Note this has nothing to do with whether the person should be in favor of the "occult and raunchy sex" on Buffy; instead, being a conservative or liberal should only determine how you advocate that the government should react to this display. Any time you are no longer talking about government action, you are no longer having a conservative v. liberal debate.

How did these terms become the answer to the question "what type of moral system do you adhere to?" instead of the question "what role should government have in society?" I dunno, but this first question is not one that can be summed up with a one word answer (liberal=large or conservative=small). Therefore, "conservative" and "liberal" are spectacularly unhelpful when framing the debate on anything other than government conduct.


[> [> Ummmmmmmmm. Not really -- Sophist, 15:08:32 03/26/02 Tue

Historically, Liberals (note the capital L) were believers in a completely free market, no government intervention at all. Thus, John Stuart Mill was a Liberal. Ironically, 19th Century Conservatives frequently favored government intervention in the market place. For example, in Britain the Liberals favored repeal of the Corn Laws (take my word that this involves eliminating government subsidies), while the Tories/Conservatives favored keeping them.

The terms began to acquire their modern meaning in the US after WWI. The real change came during the Roosevelt administration, when liberals (small l) came to be associated with government intervention in the economy. This use of the term generally remains true today, but with an obviously wide spectrum of views on the issue among all parties. The only party today favoring the traditional Liberal system would be the Libertarians.

The term Conservative did not become common as a political label until the late 19th Century. Again, the association between this term and economic issues, in the modern sense, began in the 1930s.

The terms nowadays get applied not just to economic issues but to social ones and to civil rights. This makes the whole spectrum very confusing, and I doubt that the clean distinction you made would fit many people.

[> [> Re: What "conservative" and "liberal" really mean -- clg0107, 15:09:45 03/26/02 Tue

Though your functional descriptions are pretty good, Farstrider, there's an even more succinct (and "orignal"??) way of looking at it ~

In a macro sense, conservatives generally favor(ed) the status quo, whereas liberals generally favor(ed) change.

The further extremes of these are reactionaries, who favor some sort of reversion to a previous status quo, and revolutionaries who favor immediate and far reaching change. It is therefore an irony, or paradox, or juxtaposition of opposites, to think of the Iranian revolution which was a reactionary revolution!

Of course, where the rubber meets the road, at some point in time, certain slates of "status quo" or "good old day" beliefs and "we need a change" beliefs got hardened into platforms that retained the descriptors "conservative" and "liberal", and began to accrete all sorts of related political detritus, so that we now have commonly understood meanings that are implied by the terms' useage(s).

I'd say that a lot of what we understand as the partisan beliefs about liberal and conservative views, as they are exist now, date from the civil rights movement, Great Society and Vietnam era of the 1960s (and related stuff). Prior to then, the political canvas was pretty different, dating back to the Depression and war years. It's pertinent to note that Ronald Reagan was a Roosevelt Democrat back then! Changing times re-aligned party philsophies....


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