the revised devil's dictionary 

vol. 2 no. 19

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Copyright February 22, 2003, by T. G. Browning. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to quote any of the definitions, laws or aphorisms, as long as  proper attribution is given.

Greetings all,

Iím sitting at my desk and frankly, Iíve had better mornings. Some of the problems are minor personal ones that everybody has jump them from day to day and are therefore, of no real interest to anybody, even me. Simply take a moment to ponder a few of the things that make you grind your teeth or feel like swearing until your voice goes hoarse and you run out of air. 

That done, Iíll get to the bloody point.

I had a long time reader, Taliesin MacAran, send me a link to a story he'd discovered on the Net. Tal's, a rather crusty, opinionated soul who is not adverse to telling me when Iím dead on, or completely off the mark. Heís one of the people a writer needs as a reality check.

Let me quote directly from his note:

"I found out about this from the 'This is True' newsletter. Comments from the editor and readers can be found at: http://www.thisistrue.com/bravegirl.html "

I would like to request that each and every one of you take the time to visit the link and read the two stories that you can locate through it. One is of a news story going back to 1999 and involves a suicide by a young girl and the second is a similar situation that has been going on for awhile, that fortunately, hasnít gone to suicide as yet.

Once youíve done that, I would urge to think about things for a bit. 

The story is of intolerance, bigotry, hatred, stupidityólord such huge amounts of stupidityóand most importantly to my mind, timidity. Iím talking about people who know something is wrongóbelieve something to be wrong, but who donít have the simple guts to stand up and say this is wrong.

Hell, they donít even whisper it.

The current case involves a family that professes to be Pagan in religion. Quite a few of you out there are probably saying yeah, so what? The so-what is that the daughter has been singled out in school, tauntedóIíd like to shoot the flaming idiots who used the word teased to describe the treatmentóassaulted and threatened by schoolmates who profess to be devout Christians.

It all starts, innocently enough, with a day-trip to a religious pageant that the school sponsored, cleared with the parents with the usual note home asking for permission for said student to attend. There was only one note that had a no on it, three guesses whose, and the kid got sent to the principalís office. Things kind of went from there.

Iím not going to go into a big song and dance diatribe against Christians, fundamentalists or born-agains. There happen to be a number of such people signed up for RDD and Iíve done my best to keep them on the list, answering their often angry notes over one of my definitions. Why?

Well, they serve the same bloody purpose Tal does. Theyíre a reality check. And I firmly believe that the only way you can convince someone of something is if both sides keep listening to each other. Foolish notion probably but what the hell, itís my newsletter and I like to keep certain cherished myths alive.

The crux of the matter, to me, is probably not something that has occurred to you as yet, having read the story. I fully expect quite a few of you will be enraged. Many simply disgusted. Quite a few will shrug and say words to the effect that what else can you expect from humanity. Weíre all crummy, one way or another.

No, what Iím concerned about is how and why such things happen and donít happen. Let me elaborate.

I asked myself, what sort of schoolteacher would let something like that go on?

How did things get so far out of whack?

I canít believe that everybody in the damn school felt that the treatment afforded this child was right. I canít believe that there werenít some people who figured it was not just not right, but terribly wrong. Disgusting. Evil even.

So, what happened?

The answer is, of course, that nobody said anything. They looked away. They ignored it. They pushed it aside for problems that were less messy, less turbulent, less dangerous to address.

Cowardice?

Perhaps. But not entirely, I think. No, I understand it better if I think of it being . . . messy. Embarrassing. Undignified. All of the arguments people tell themselves when they want to avoid doing something that they know isnít going to be either easy or pleasant.

I next asked myself, why doesnít this happen more often?

Or is it happening and I just havenít heard about it?

I think not. I think, believe perhaps, that itís as rare as it seems. I certainly HOPE it is. So the question becomes, what is being done, right, that could have been done in this case?

Now THAT'S an easy question for me. I merely have to go back to my own high school days and remember. There was always someone who spoke up. Often the same person, sometimes not. Often in loud, obstreperous words. Often at inopportune times. Often making life miserable for every other person within a radius of a mile if such idiocy went on.

I called that person Mom. Well, occasionally Mrs. Browning but Ma or Mom most of the time. My Dad did his fair share of it as well, as did an MD in the town by the name of Matt Gruber. There were many in my hometown. I was very, very fortunate. Ma got more opportunities I think. She got it from her mother. Everything I know about my grandmother (Momís side) fits the above description as well.

I think Iíve done it a few time times myself. I can recall a number of times of stopping somebody in the middle of a sentence to tell them theyíd  better quit using the word kike in my presence. Or nigger. Or any of several other things that I take great offense at.

Now the question becomes, this:

DO YOU?

Youíd better. You and your type are all that stand between some kid out there and death from either suicide or homicide. Mobs get ugly real fast. And they form at the drop of a hat sometimes.

Have a nice day, everybody.

[To those of you who ARE devout Christians, you might want to give the definitions in this offering a clean miss. Cut me some slack this time, if you would, and just skip Ďem]

This one is called . . .

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God Squad

Antichrist (Christian Theology). One who denies or opposes Christ, the Christian Church, and televangelists.

Hill, Paul (person). Confessed murderer and anti-abortionist. An ex-minister of a Christian denomination, Hill typifies Christian reasoning abilities throughout the ages.

infidel n. 1. (Christian). Anyone adhering to the Muslim faith, which believes that a man may have four wives, one God, and no booze. This belief could be considered masochistic. 2. (Muslim). Anyone adhering in the Christian faith, which believes in a Trinity & the Virgin Mary, one wife, and no fun. Hell of a choice, isnít it?

prayer warrior n. (TV Evangelism) A person who is skilled in prayer-to-prayer combat. An evangelic mercenary.

profound n. 1: Obscure. 2: Confusing and obscure. 3: Confusing, obscure and nonsense to boot.

Rapture, The n. A Christian concept based on portions of the Book of Daniel and Revelations of the Old and New Testament respectively. Briefly, the Rapture is thought to occur after the Second Coming of Christ, though there is disagreement among the varying denominations as to What, Who, Where, How, and When. Some Evangelical Christians believe that those who are truly born again will disappear or be caught up into the air to meet Jesus, leaving huge numbers of driverless Volkswagens. The Federal Highway Administration is already studying scenarios on the theory that most of any American administration will be left. As of this writing, the Guild of Air Traffic Controllers has not announced a position, but could at any time.

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02/22/03