Everyone Needs an Enemy

Everyone needs an enemy. That’s what we saw last night when the second suspect was caught in the Boston Marathon Bombing. It took the “other” to bring us all together, to unite everyone in a common cause. The night was reminiscent of the comradery we felt after 9/11. Too bad it takes a tragedy.

But as a parent, especially one like me with teenagers, it’s especially troubling to know the suspect was a teen, one who was considered a good kid, a kid who played sports and hung out with his friends just like your kid and mine. He was some woman’s baby, some teacher’s second-grade student. Where did we go wrong, I’m wondering. And how can we keep our kids tight to us, as parents and as a society, so they don’t wander off and become criminals? (I would not call these brothers terrorists, though they did terrorize a city.)  Say what we want, but that younger suspect, Dzhokar Tsamaev, who was well-adjusted and liked by so many of his peers, must have taken some serious influencing by his brother to turn him against the friends and neighbors of his city. As he lay on the ground, handcuffed, his shirt exposed a skinny, smooth belly that still belonged to a boy.

The parents said their children were good kids; they were in disbelief that their sons could have committed such crimes. That would be my reaction, too. My next reaction would be, where did I go wrong? I would be so angry with myself for letting loose into the world children who could cause so much harm and suffering for others.

A recent Unicef report said that we’ve created a violent society for our kids: we have the 3rd high homicide rate among developed nations. Parents fear for their kids’ safety, even at school, which is supposed to be a safe haven for our children. But it’s kids who are killing us, children as well as adults. This recent tragedy– and it’s 19-year-old suspect. In Newtown, Adam Lanza was 20. In Colorado, James Holmes was a 25-year-old grad student, with a nurse for a mother and a father who is a mathematician a PhD. These are pretty typical young Americans who are terrorizing us. Maybe we need to stop worrying about our kids as victims and start worrying about our kids turning into killing machines.

The CNN headline this morning reads “The Terror is Over.” Until the next time, that is. I know that a bombing is not an every-day occurrence here in America, fortunately, but violence against others is. Whether a person kills one or many, it makes no difference. We need to understand what is making our young Americans so angry and disenfranchised that they feel the only way to get our attention, to speak to us, is through horrific acts of violence.


65 responses to “Everyone Needs an Enemy

  1. It’s sad… 😦

  2. I guess that is the million dollar question.

    I blame part of it on two things: lack of parental involvement and technology. By no means I am suggesting these are the only things or even the main culprits. But I think when you have little idea what your kid is doing because he is always at a friends house, running around on the weekends with various people, and/or frequently on his smartphone doing who knows what, well, bad things can happen. And I am sorry, but many parents are clueless. As someone who spent the past few years at my kid’s elementary school several times a week between subbing and volunteering, I had a pretty good handle on these kids. I would just sit back and listen to some moms who talked about how their kid would never do X, when I just say their kid do that very thing.

    Regardless, I just don’t buy “my kid was a good kid.” I don’t see how someone just goes out and creates bombs with the intent to kill many and shoots people without there being some inkling of something wrong. Do you really think your kids would do something like what these kids/young adults did? I certainly don’t think mine would, but then again my kid is only in 4th grade. But I also know that you can have two kids in the same family who turn out very differently.

    I guess we just have to be vigilant with our kids and others’ kids, remembering that it takes a village. And hope for the best but prepare for the worst, as much as I hate to say it.

  3. valerie bisagni

    As an elementary school counselor assigned to two schools I see a great deal of anger in children as young as kindergarten. Parents are busy with their own ego and social gratification. There is no time in a parent’s over scheduled life to discipline, teach self-control let alone basic manners. Kids run rampant at home, in stores and at school. Then these ill-mannered “mini-mes” are sent to school for teachers to fix, train and educate in groups of 27+ by teachers, administrators and counselors. Parents need to put down their cell phones, turn off the television and control/limit any computer time. Go out to breakfast with you child every week. Leave the cell phone in the car and just sit with your child and LISTEN. There needs to be more listening to make raising a good child successful. Lecturing a child instead of problem solving makes the …….. angry.

  4. Oddly I think everyone will make this a religious thing. They will say they were Muslims on a jihad. The fact is the older brother having come to feel disenfranchised, had only recently begun (according to his aunt) praying according to Muslim tradition, five times a day. “I would rather he pray than perhaps smoke or do drugs” she said. I believe we will soon find that his marriage was on the rocks, that he had a Christian wife and he turned for comfort to his extremist religion. I have an Ex-wife myself, I know how such a thing can make one crazy. I personally having seen a different personality emerge in my kids after a few hours, have banned X-Box in my home. Not an easy thing with two boys aged 10 and 6 but it does force us all to spend more time together and even if X-box is just a scapegoat the extra time spent “parenting” benefits us all. I leave you with a movie quote:

    ” [addressing a crucifix] From now on, we are enemies… You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty. infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because You are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block You, I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature on earth as far as I am able. I will ruin Your incarnation.”

    -Salieri to God
    Amadeus, 1984

    • @Christopher Hetkey I read that, too, that the older brother had just recently turned to religion, and if you listen and read people’s comments, I’m hearing a lot of the blame going towards his religion. Maybe it was just a personal thing–like you suggested–a marriage on the rocks, mental problems. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find out, maybe not. But there does seem to be a lot of angry kids. I applaud you for banning the x-Box. My kids got their first PS3 a few years ago, but they had to buy it with their own money. They rarely play it anymore. Not that it’s the cause of society’s woes, but it should not be a babysitter or a substitute for parental involvement.

      Thanks for the quote….

  5. The reasons these young men chose to do what they did is very complex. Teenagers and young adults are so impressionable. My own 2 boys are 19 and 22. While watching the arrest of a 19 year old young man last night, I also saw a boy who has yet to become a man. In my mind I saw my own son laying on the ground with the police over him. From what we’ve heard about Dzhokar Tsamaev so far, he seemed to be well-adjusted, intelligent, outgoing with a lot of friends and people who liked him. It appears there were not any “signs” that foretold the magnitude of what he was capable of. Pretty scary stuff. Not everything people choose to do can be blamed on “bad parents.” I am highly offended when people look down on me when my boys make bad choices. Most of us consider ourselves to be good parents and there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our kids. I raised my boys on my own with no help from their father or my family. My constant priority was to raise them to become emotionally healthy, happy, content adults. I didn’t hesitate to utilize every resource available to me: School guidance counselors, teachers, soccer coaches, scout leaders, my close friends, other parents I knew well. Throughout their childhoods, I took my boys on several different occasions to talk to our long-time family counselor when they were battling deep issues with their father and the constant adjustments during their adolescence. I always provide them with emotional support, and I’m in their “corner.” I’m their mom and they know I will always love them no matter what. My kids are far from perfect and I’ve always looked upon them with my eyes wide open. When I thought one of my sons had been playing with matches I took them to the fire department. When I caught them drinking in high school, I took them to the police. When I found out my youngest son had been skipping school I turned him in to the high school resource officer. On and on… I did everything I possibly could to ensure my boys became the best adults they could be. Even so, I do not have any control of the choices they make now. I’m here to help guide them and give them my advice. They’ve made some big mistakes that turned out to shape them into better young men with character and compassion. Even people who were raised by good parents sometimes still make choices with horrific outcomes. Don’t be so quick to blame the bad things people do on their parents. That’s not always the case.

    • @Shelley I agree –“people who were raised by good parents sometimes still make choices with horrific outcomes.” I do think we have a responsibility as a society to create a kind, safer world.

  6. I couldn’t agree more! Our society as a whole does everything on a reactionary level,always after the fact, never proactively.

  7. kathy with a k

    ….and then I read about two teenagers shooting a toddler in Georgia, as his mother is taking him for a walk in a stroller. So heartbreakingly sad. What is happening to our youth? More importantly, what can we do about it?

  8. They were at the age when, I’ve read, young men with emotional problems are most likely to begin acting out. A pattern seen over and over with these mass terror events. Still, when people (of any age) misbehave, I always look to their upbringing. Too many parents today are irresponsible.

    • @PiedType Interesting….I didn’t know that: “They were at the age when, I’ve read, young men with emotional problems are most likely to begin acting out. A pattern seen over and over with these mass terror events.”

  9. This last week, we had the opportunity to see the best and worst of humanity in Boston – the perpetrators with their wanton disregard for human life and the heroism of ordinary people who sacrificed greatly to protect us and to rescue the injured. For me it brings the reality of both the good and the evil that we are all capable of into sharp focus. Why some people carry evil to such visible and destructive ends is a mystery to me.

    Being a runner, it has been a long standing goal of mine to attend and someday participate in the Boston Marathon. Last weekend, my family along with several members of my extended family made the trip to watch my son-in-law run his first Boston. With nearly perfect running conditions, we settled in for and exciting day of cheering our son and others across the finish line.

    All of us were sufficiently clear of the finish line area when the explosions took place but the tragedy that unfolded later is disturbing. I have pictures on my phone taken standing in the places where people would die and be so terribly injured just hours later. My son-in-law’s family likely brushed shoulders with the attackers shortly before the bombs went off and were close enough to feel the blast at their backs as they headed to the post-race meeting area.

    The title of your post is “Everyone Needs an Enemy” – I do not. I hold no malice towards the perpetrators and whoever else may be discovered who took part in the attacks last weekend. I choose not to participate in the cycle of hate. The members of my family and I will die someday and it could have been this weekend for any of us. I am at peace with that.

    • @JP I’m really glad that you are your family were not harmed, physically at least. That experience must have been so surreal. I love Boston, having visited many times after my parents moved there when I was 18.

      I agree here: “For me it brings the reality of both the good and the evil that we are all capable of into sharp focus.” And it’s also a mystery to me why some people cannot suppress their urges or redirect them.

      You may not need an enemy, but it is an idea that has held true for many for thousands of years. Enemies do unite a people–communities, religions, nations. Good vs. Evil. Dark vs. White. Muslim vs. Christian. The reality is, life isn’t so polarized. There are many shades of gray. That’s the case with this boy, I think. He was, at one point, not evil.

  10. My opinion is that many parents “parent” too much. By that I mean that I see kids who have never experienced the consequences of their actions, and have never been allowed to fail. For example, I once gently scolded two children (approx. age 8) who had intentionally thrown a ball at me multiple times, while I sat in the bleachers on the sidelines of a gym (scolded in that I asked them to please throw the ball the other direction) and their mothers verbally attacked me! I had to leave the area, as they screamed at me as their kids stood there and smirked. Are these same mothers going to be protesting to the police that their 15 year-old angels could NEVER have done that crime? Or their 19 year-old couldn’t have bombed/shot people? I think so.

  11. Maybe, someday, people will learn what the Second Amendment really means. All it does is give members of “A well regulated militia,..” the right to bear arms. The second amendment was only created because we didn’t have a standing defense force until the Marine Corps (where I served 4 years during the Korean conflict) was created and then it became obsolete. I sent another message to the White House last night trying to get someone there to understand what the second amendment means. Yes, I know the SCOTUS has declared ALL citizens have the right to bear arms but that’s because they’re lawyers, not linguists.

  12. @Gina. I know what you mean. I felt conflicted, too. We are supposed to hate him and see him as a monster (certainly what he did was monstrous), yet he seems so young and vulnerable.

  13. I wondered if something was wrong with me for having compassion for the suspects along with the victims.

  14. Violence has always been with us since before we were humans. It will continue to be something we deal with as long as we are humans. Violence itself isn’t a bad thing. Without violence, we wouldn’t eat. Our focus shouldn’t be on removing violence from our world, which while it may be a nice idea, is a completely unreasonable expectation, but rather should be on how to protect ourselves and our families from being the victims of violence. First, by learning out to minimize the likely hood of being a victim by controlling circumstances you can control, and second by learning how to physically deal with violence in progress. Without understanding and applying those two ideas, you’re just a sitting duck waiting for a predator to come along and victimize you or your loved ones.

  15. pir faqir: You are mistaken about the intent of the 2nd amendment. The people who wrote the constitution specifically codified our right to bear arms because they understood the success of our country depended on having a population that was comfortable with and knowledgeable about possessing and using firearms. It’s true, we didn’t have a standing army, and in order to be able to raise an army that could defend our nation, we had to have people available to call up who were capable of completing the task.

    Back then the main threat was war with other countries, today the main threat is crime. By disarming the countries responsible citizens, all you accomplish is ensuring our citizens are more vulnerable than ever before, because you will not disarm criminals, and you will not disarm hostile foreign countries.

    My firearms are used for providing food for my family, protecting my family, and for teaching my children how to do the same for their families, and no one will ever take them away from me.

    • I think you misunderstand the Second Amendment. I have been reading and writing English for almost 72 years and have taught our language since 1964. The way you interpret the amendment means that I can walk into a public building with signs that say IN CASE OF FIRE, BREAK GLASS and break the glass just because I want to.
      I don’t know of any place where I could break the glass just because I like the sound or because i need a piece of glass. The words that follow the comma after Militia say “being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms…” Unless those arms are used to provide the necessary security of a free state you can’t have them.
      Yes, I’m well aware that the SCOTUS has ruled that individuals can own guns but that’s because they’re lawyers, not linguists.
      Morally, the only thing you can kill is something you plan to eat or that is a threat to your life or your family. It doesn’t matter if you use a rock, a sharp stick or a neutron bomb.

  16. Dam: You say you are “supposed to hate him.” that makes me wonder who is making these rules for you to follow, and do you always follow other peoples rules. Maybe deciding for yourself and your own family how to react to this would work out better for you than doing what you think everyone else would have you do.

  17. I live in Boston, and the anger I feel is genuine. So was the confusion we were all feeling. Turning off the news when my 7 year old came in the room, hiding it from him because we don’t know how to tell him. It was a hard week. But this boy… He’s 19. He can’t even grow a full beard yet. Lets wait and hear his story before we jump to publicly torturing him for revenge. Pull together, mourn together, and wait to pass judgement together.

    • @Juli This must be a tough time for you and your son. I would have done the same thing when they were little–turned off the TV. Yes, I agree….We don’t know this kids story.

  18. Pir Faqir: You conveniently ignore the next statement in the amendment. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Since, as you claim, you’ve been teaching English since 1964, you’ll certainly understand what is meant by the words: “right” as in something that is entitled, or that we are entitled to, the word “people”, does not refer to the government, or the military, or the police, “keep” which means to own or possess, and “bear” which means to equip yourself with to use when necessary, and “arms”, which means firearms. The second amendment clearly states that ordinary citizens are entitled to own, possess, and equip themselves to use firearms. All of what comes before that statement is nothing more than an attempt at an explanation as to the purpose of it at the time. Regardless of what reasoning went into granting us that right in our constitution, it’s not only a right enumerated to us in our constitution, but it’s among the 10 most important… The Bill of Rights. And on that Bill of Rights, it is listed second. Before your right to not be required to be a witness against yourself, before your right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure…. Before all of the other 10 EXCEPT the the one that grants us the freedom of speech/religion.

    When you talk about the morality of killing, I don’t know where you get off assuming your morals apply to everyone else. It seems to me that applying our morals to others and imposing our own interests onto our neighbors is what has caused the majority of the problems this country has experienced, both internally and externally.

    The only absolute morality we can apply to our neighbors is the rule of law. Try to take away our ability to obtain food for our families and to defend our families against criminals, and you will see the rule of law break down in this country.

    • @TB Bikeman Please be respectful to other commenters.

      Re. your comment here: “It seems to me that applying our morals to others and imposing our own interests onto our neighbors is what has caused the majority of the problems this country has experienced, both internally and externally.”

      Societies, communities, nations– we all have a shared set of morality that is reflected in law (and also in other ways, too). So, naturally, we apply our morals to others in that way.

      “Try to take away our ability to obtain food for our families and to defend our families….” First, we have no problem in this country obtaining food. Cheaply, I might add. You do not need guns for that. Nor to defend your family. It’s not you and your “family” against the rest of the world. We’re not your enemies just because we don’t share a bathroom and kitchen with you. What is family anyway? The wife you chose to marry who could one day walk out the door? (I’m speaking of you generically, not specifically, of course.) The children you defend that could have been born of an affair? Such possessiveness is dangerous….

      It’s just so ironic that people want to keep God in our pledge, on our money, etc, etc, yet they also stand ready to take down their neighbor.

      • Bikeman forgets that 40 per cent of the food sold in this country ends up in a landfill. (ABC News 4/10/13) There is more food dumped in land fills than either paper or plastic. Those who are religious insist on pushing their morals on everyone else, even those of other religions they consider inferior to theirs. Organized religions exist so that an individual, a Dali Lama, or a Pope, or a group of individuals, monks, mullahs, preachers, priests, and rabbis can live a life of ease on the labors of their followers.
        “Every culture in the world brainwashes its children in order to maintain its cultural identity.”…pir faqir
        “If all the world’s peoples would get beyond the brainwashing they received as children and learn to think for themselves, peace and security would surely ensue,”…pir faqir
        What we don’t have in this country is freedom FROM religion. Churches own billions of dollars in property and don’t pay a cent in taxes.

        • @pir faqir Interesting–I didn’t know that about the US and New Zealand being the “only two conutries in the world that allow the advertising of prescription drugs….” I really thought the big reason they were so expensive is R&D and then the patenting process.

          Also, about the food. I know, it’s sad how much food is wasted.

          And, yes, I think we all agree about churches should be taxed.

          • Somewhere in my files I have a note from TIME that says half of all the food produced in this country goes to waste. Another note says that half of ALL the food produced in the world goes to waste. Meanwhile, 800 million people never have enough to eat and 65 per cent of the world’s population goes to bed hungry every night. Another food fact I remember is that we throw away enough food in this country every day to feed 28 million people.
            In the summer of 2010, BBC World News American did a report including video of 30 tons of food discarded in Las Vegas but it didn’t wind up in a landfill–instead it was ground up and fed to beef cattle.

            • @pir faqir That’s an interesting idea about feeding the leftovers to cattle. I do feel bad about all the food waste. I know that, because of liability reasons, grocery stores and restaurants cannot donate their food, which is truly a shame….I think they are some of the biggest food wasters, if I remember.

  19. Because I have so much respect for everyone here, let me just offer that it seems not everything is as it appears in this attack. On another blog, I got slammed for mentioning that my initial reaction to high profile incidences like this is wondering whether they may be a false flag. There seems to be a lot of things that don’t add up, and it’s yet another coincidence where they were running “terror drills” concurrently with the event.

    Human beings are notoriously easy to manipulate. Disinformation campaigns are the stock and trade for the Masters of the Universe. I wish it were not so.

    Like that line in the movies…trust no one.

    • @LanceT As with most things, what comes to us is hearsay. I said that, too, that some things don’t make sense. But I’m sure we don’t have the whole story. No one does.

  20. (formerly “CHope”)
    LanceThruster, I totally agree with you. Government, religion, military, the police force, big pharma, and big business all too often have the money/power to influence what we hear and see in the media for their own agendas, and greed.

    I don’t know the specifics for Boston, but I do know that in most of the mass shootings in the US the young shooters were either on or withdrawing from antidepressants. I was on a low dosage of effexor for just a few months, and had the worst dizzy spells when I quit cold turkey. I really can’t remember much of anything at all during that time of being medicated, including my oldest’s first day of kindergarten!

    I am also well aware that religion is one of the biggest tools of politics, and I keep thinking of that regarding all things Boston this past week. Governments throughout the world use it to play us all, and put us against each other because most people wear their religion on their sleeves. Religion is the best pro war propaganda.

    • @Charity. I agree with you here: “Governments throughout the world use it to play us all, and put us against each other because most people wear their religion on their sleeves. Religion is the best pro war propaganda”

    • The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow the advertising of prescription drugs and that’s why ours are so expensive. Drug manufacturers spend 15 billion dollars each year on advertising and 14 billion on research and part of that comes from our taxes. The pharma industry has more lobbyists in Washington than both houses of Congress. What many doctors know about prescription drugs is what they learn from the drug salesmen who provide them with free samples. I have personally been given free samples of prescription drugs by a doctor.

  21. Blaming it on technology or lack of parenting doesn’t explain why there are daily occurrences like these in other cultures. It could be poverty, or just plain indoctrination. It’s envy or manipulation, it’s hatred of another. The death rates are worse in places that don’t even have electricity, much less TV. Yet, it’s not poverty in and of itself, because there are many poor people who remain compassionate, far more than those who are not.

    As to the use of antidepressants, I have been on them since 1993, and they have saved me. They allow me to lead a normal life. Now, I was on Effexor for a short time, and for me, that stuff was poison. So, I do get that the effects are different for everyone. Venlafaxine was way worse, by the way. I’m going to stick with good old Prozac. But the kids were depressed in the first place. Why? Biology? Environmental toxins? Social reasons? The soothing effect whatever it was that they latched onto was so profound that it led them to kill. It was like a drug to them. They got the same high from what they did as those responsible for 9/11. Until we understand the human brain better, we won’t be able to solve this.

  22. “Human beings are notoriously easy to manipulate. Disinformation campaigns are the stock and trade for the Masters of the Universe. I wish it were not so. Like that line in the movies…trust no one.”
    Well said, Lance.

  23. @dam – you paraphrase one of my heroes quite well –

    “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”


  24. I myself am grateful to prescription meds that help keep my bi-polar tendencies in check, I also know friends whose spouses experienced extreme reactions on the same meds I was taking and said they were in danger of suicide or some other irrational acts. As has been pointed out, other events have a behavioral medicine tie-in. I would guess, in some cases, the mental illness is so pronounced, that these meds may have served a delaying action rather than a direct cause, but that’s hard to establish and a cause and effect case is also plausible.

    I found this a great read — http://thetyee.ca/Books/2010/10/06/MarkVonnegut/

    Mark Vonnegut lost his mind in the wilderness of British Columbia in the early 1970s. His account in The Eden Express of his journey in and out of madness is still the best description of psychotic experiences that I’ve ever read.


    Mark is very clear about the fact that the ongoing stability and success of his life has been built on his willingness to use lithium to keep his bipolar disorder under control.

    • @LanceT Thanks for sharing that read. A good friend of mine was on lithum for years. Two other good points that Vonnegut made…when you have this illenss, you don’t realize it. Also, people tend to think mental the illness is related to people’s inability to cope, but that is not so…

      “It’s the most breathtakingly ironic things about living: the fact that we are all…alone. Singular. And yet what we seek – what saves us – is our connection to others.”
      Wally Lamb

  25. @juli – One always wants to shield the young and innocent from the harsh realities of life.

    “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

    Sorry to the KWR regulars for this Mister Rogers redux.

    • @LanceT Thanks for posting that again. I should put it in the sidebar–it’s such a good thing to teach the kids (and adults, too).

  26. @Lorraine – TYVM

  27. @lance. I like that! Thank you.

  28. My sentiments exactly. Thank you for voicing yours so eliquantly. I have a 19 year old son. As tragic as it must feel to be the mother of one of the victims, it would feel so much more horrifying (to me) to be the mother of these young murderers. I would be questioning every thing that I had ever said or done as a parent, or not said or done. I get so tired of the American lynch mob mentality. These guys are someones babies. We just keep perpetuating our violent culture.

  29. @dam – Your sidebar Einstein quote is a gem.

  30. Wally Lamb rocks!

    Hella-kewl quote

  31. Having an almost 18-yo in the house we had a lengthy discussion. I am glad that my son seems to be having a “healthy” opinion on the “what” while he is more at loss with the “why”. I guess we adults are as well.

    We talked about the repercussions and the fact that the older brother was able to destroy not just the lives of his victims but also his own family to a great extent. For a typical teenager know-it-all it was probably a good thing to be forced to think that his actions DO affect others and vice versa.

  32. It’s a horrible idea to feed leftovers to cattle. Do some research on the health benefits of eating meet from cattle that are raised/fed the correct way — 100% forage-fed. Cows are not equipped to process corn or other assorted junk correctly — and that leads to all sorts of health problems for people who eat standard beef in this country.

    • I stopped eating beef in August of 2003, initially because of the smell while it was cooking. Then I began to learn about what beef cattle are fed that no bovine is supposed to eat. I grew up on a farm and you can put and ear of corn in front of a cow and it will do nothing because they’re only supposed to east grass. I just last week read the text but didn’t watch the video of a report written by a man who pretended to be an inspector in a slaughter house–I couldn’t believe how disgusting what he saw was and you don’t want to know.

  33. @pir faqir – I had forgotten about all the things they shouldn’t be feeding cows that aren’t quite as bad as the slaughterhouse scraps that brought about Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease. This was done to save pennies on the ton of feed.

    • I have no idea what cattle should or should not be eating….but it makes sense that they stick to the diet they were designed for. Look what happened to humans when we didn’t stick to the diets we were designed for. Although it would be nice to use food scraps in a better way, the best I know of, as a layperson, is composting…

      • I compost everything in my kitchen except egg shells, citrus peels and any meat scraps because those should never be added to compost. Any vegetable matter is OK but not meat.

    • I was just discussing mad cow disease with my ESL students last night and with my older sister night before last. A few years ago I learned that in England they had been feeding sheep that had died of ‘scrapie’ disease to cows and thought that was the origin of mad cow disease. Then I learned that for years the British had been collecting human skeletons from the mouth of the Ganges River in India. Eventually they learned that nothing they did destroyed the prions in those skeletons and that led to mad cow disease, known as Jakob-Kreutzfedlt (?) disease in humans.

  34. Didn’t they realize that praying does not work after the first kid died?

  35. didn’t they realize that praying does not work afte thier first kid died?

  36. @pir faqir – Absolutely right. I saw a PBS Frontline explaining the near indestructability of these prions, and my jaw dropped.


  37. The part that stuck out was how once these prions got into the environment, how nasty and long-lasting they were – http://www.plospathogens.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.ppat.0020032

    • @LanceThruster. Hey. Did you hear Julie Sweeney on NPR today? She was talking about a book she wrote, If It’s Not One Thing it’s Your Mother. Sounded funny. I know you like her.

  38. @dam – I did not hear the NPR segment, but saw her interviewed about it on Morning Joe (not a plug, I can’t stand him, but they have a clock continuously displayed so it gets me to work on time). Kinda of a cool book and a switch from her usual topic (how your family can drive you bonkers). She really has a great outlook on life.

  39. When I hear, “One of us…”



    Which brings us to the scene’s signature chant, and the film’s greatest cultural legacy. What’s interesting is that, while there are three elements to the chant, people tend to remember only one or two of them. “One of us, one of us, one of us” reliably gets trotted out in situations involving an individual being forced to conform by the masses—I can recall seeing homages on both The Simpsons and South Park, and there are probably dozens of others out there. The creepy nonsense phrase “gooble gobble” was co-opted by the Ramones as “gabba gabba hey” (as introduced in “Pinhead,” a song directly inspired by Freaks). Until rewatching the scene this week, however, I’d forgotten that the freaks chant “we accept her” as frequently as the other two. That’s crucial. “One of us” implies Borg-like absorption. “Gooble gooble” suggests insanity. “We accept her,” on the other hand, undermines that apparent malevolence with a message of unconditional love—one made more poignant by the fact that it comes from a group of people who themselves have known very little acceptance from the outside world. It’s the paradox of the entire scene in miniature, and it alleviates a lot of my misgivings. Whiff of exploitation or no, any movie that adores freaks as fervently as Freaks clearly does has to be okay.

    What remarkably sweet and special human beings.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s