The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Farewell, Grasshopper

David Carradine hanged himself in his hotel room in Bangkok early this morning. Good night, Grasshopper...

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ᅠᅠNo, I don't see the situation of "Iraq is connected to Al Queda, Al Queda caused 9/11, therefore the administration is saying that Iraq caused 9/11" because I was against the invasion, although I was.

I have seen people use that kind of formulation to avoid conveying information all my life. "Mommy, is there a Santa Claus? The kids at school say there isn't."

"Well, Tommy, children are often wrong about things like that."

Mommy can say that she didn't lie. But she can't say that her intent was to honestly answer the question. I've done that myself, and smiled about it. I remember listening to Tom Bradley, mayor of L.A., during a press conference, and was boggled that he spoke for an hour and never said anything. I just couldn't believe the degree to which he twisted logic and words to convey zero information, or avoid answering questions.

I can accept that human beings, and especially those called politicians, will do that in order to promote their agendas or avoid problems. But if you want me to believe that the administration didn't know that a big proportion of the American public believed--and in some cases STILL believes that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, I can't go there. And to me, if the intent is honest communication, then you go out of your way to say, plainly: "while there are some connections between Iraq and Al Queda, there is NO, I repeat NO connection between Iraq and 9/11." And say it more loudly and with less equivocation than anyone is saying "Iraq is connected to Al Queda"--because you KNOW people are misunderstanding, and it is critical to the survival of a democracy that people be able to trust their leaders.

Unless you take secret joy in the misinterpretation, when it comes to something that will involve hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives, there is an obligation to do more than use syllogistic constructions that, while technically may be true, leave vast swaths of the American people believing something you know is wrong.

Perhaps you don't run your life this way. Perhaps you would accept such behavior from your wife, children, business partner, and friends. And I must assume that you yourself would do the same things, and consider it completely fair play.

Which disappoints me, seriously, because I could not associate with someone who hid behind language in such a fashion. Language is all we have, and it is a damned poor substitute for mind-reading. When someone is either oblivious to the effect of their words, or deliberately avoids phrasing that will communicate accurately, this is not someone with whom I can associate. I don't play that, and never have. Perhaps it is necessary to function in certain corners of the world. But there is an expression in Neuro Linguistic Programming: "the meaning of a communication is the reaction you get."

The reaction the administration got from this formulation was "Iraq was responsible for 9/11." I heard countless people and pundits arguing this very point. For me to believe Cheney's words were not deliberate obfuscation, I'd have to believe he read no papers, watched no television, listened to no radio. If people's misunderstanding disturbed him, he should have spoken up, said "Iraq was not connected to 9/11" MORE often than he said "Iraq was connected to Al Queda." If you scream the second and whisper the first, yes, people can find a couple of instances in which the truth was told. But not for a second do I believe that the result--misinterpretation--was not the intent. And if you don't agree about that...I have to believe we're playing by very different rules, that you would deliberately omit information if the result would support your point of view. I'm sorry, but does anyone really trust people who think that way? If it's just about Santa Claus, that might be funny. But when lives are on the line, that's what I call human evil.

I'm sure some of you disagree. And would accept such behavior from your own circle of friends and associates. I myself would not. Maybe that makes me too rigid, or naive, or something. But you know what? I can live with that.

8 comments:

Dan Moran said...

I knew Carradine slightly; our sons went to the same kindergarten. Charming man, if a little reserved when out in public. It was a shock to find I was taller than he was (with both of us in our cowboy boots.)

salina said...

im saddened by this. Trying to stay away from the comments ... you can IMAGINE what folk are saying about this.... RIP

Jazz said...

It looks like it probably wasn't suicide after all but a sex game gone wrong.

http://www.imdb.com/news/ns0000002/#ni0818207

Sad either way.

Anonymous said...

Having been to Bangkok and Pataya, there is a three quarter possibility it was a sex game gone wrong, no doubt. No one goes to Bangkok for auto-eroticism. I, of course, didn't know the man, but enjoyed his work.

Mike Ralls said...

I'm trying to think of a politician who when trying to pass what they regard as an important piece of work, goes out of their way to loudly point out facts that will discourage many from supporting that work.

None come to mind.

Steven Barnes said...

Mike, you're right. It's one of the things I hate about politics. Certainly, Clinton wasn't trying to communicate honestly when he said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" even though I've known for years that many use the specific term "sexual relations" to mean intercourse. Technically not a lie, but also not honest. I feel that being honest in this case might have prevented what I see as the single worst foreign policy decision of my lifetime. Of course, if you agree with the Iraq war, this won't matter as much. If like me, you thought the reasoning was bullshit from the get-go, this feels like something pretty close to pure human evil

Frank said...

Steve said

I'm sure some of you disagree. And would accept such behavior from your own circle of friends and associates. I myself would not.

I would not, and here is where we disagree: I don't believe Bush was attempting to mislead when he connected Iraq to al Qaida.

It was a fact that Iraq and al Qaida had ties. And it was fact that Iraq was perceived to have WMDs and it was a fact that Saddam was an enemy of the US.

So my point is Bush legitimately could have been concerned and I don't have personal knowledge that he wasn't. I know I would have been.

What's interesting to me is that you seem to believe that I am OK with misbehavior I don't believe happened.

You, not I, believe he attempted to misrepresent the situation. And I find it interesting that you think that I think otherwise.

Marty S said...

I think Frank has a point. When Bush was talking up the invasion, my wife and I's thoughts on the subject were that nothing he publicly said justified an invasion. We both thought that only possible justifiable excuse for him invading would be if he had classified intelligence that Saddam was planning something really bad.