Google+
Close
Corrections & Clarifications Time


Text  


Jonah Goldberg

CORRECTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS TIMEFirst things first: Please, please, please put the word “correction” in your subject header when you send me a correction. I get hundreds of e-mails, and when I go back to find the really good stuff it’s very difficult when they’re untitled, or worse, when they have headings like “thoughts on the nature of the Klingon Empire.” (If you have more questions about C&C Friday, please see our FAQ sheet.

Advertisement
Which is a good place to start. I wrote that Alan Keyes should be a moral figurehead like “Kayless,” the emperor of the Klingons. Many really, really, cool people wrote in to tell me that I had spelled the Emperor’s name wrong. The right spelling is Kahless. Now, while I know this is correct, there is something about it that bothers me. Klingon is a totally alien language … okay, wait: First and foremost, Klingon is not real. Second, written Klingon is a totally alien language. All translations of Klingon are phonetic. So who are you people to tell me what the right spelling is? Have you ever seen how many spellings of Qhaddafy there are? After all, it is pronounced “Kay-less,” so I say I’m right and you can all suck Tholian vulture eggs.

To prove my point, let’s address another Star Trek issue that came up the other day. I referred to the Gamesters of Triskellion, a famous episode where a bunch of day-glow super-brains-under-glass capture aliens from across the galaxy (the sector, really) and pit them against one another in gladiatorial bouts (I thought it’d be cool if presidential candidates did the same thing). The brains (send more brains…), or rather the “Gamesters,” bet vast sums on who will win and how, etc. But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what the name of their currency was. I could remember what it sounded like, but I couldn’t be sure. So, I wrote “I wager ten thousand credits that …”

Literally, within five minutes of posting the column, five people e-mailed me saying, “It’s not credits, you bonehead! It’s “quatlooms”! So, I made my Webmaster put down his copy of Juggs and change it to “quatlooms.” At this time I would like to point out that many of these readers — of whom I am quite proud — could probably use a tan. Anyway, we changed it, and over the course of the next twenty four hours I got probably two dozen e-mails from people saying, “No, no, no! It’s kwatloos.” Or, “Good lord, man, don’t you know anything? It’s Quatloos.”

You see the subtle distinctions? The point is this: Shhhhhhh.

I should get back to my comments about Alan Keyes and other statements many of you took as “bashing.” First let me stifle a yawn.

Okay. Many Keyes followers are obsessed with the notion that anyone who speaks out against Keyes is of necessity either a racist, an elitist, or on the take for the establishment. Well, I’m no racist. I am an elitist — but in the good way, just like Keyes himself. As for the “establishment,” well, look: Just because a bunch of self-absorbed, New York Times worshipping, pinky-extending, conventional-wisdom-spouting blowhards think something is so, that doesn’t automatically mean it isn’t. If Jonathan Alter says The Simpsons is funny, that doesn’t suddenly make the show as dull as Bill Bradley talking about his Palm Pilot.

Keyes is a brilliant, substantive, and entertaining guy, but if you think he can or should be president, you’re the one who can’t see things clearly.

As for my comment that I thought he might bring back the guillotine, I was shocked by how many people wanted to know what’s wrong with the guillotine, rather than wanting to know why I thought that about Keyes. “Is it just because it’s French?” many people asked. Well, though a good guess — and a good reason were it true — the truth is that the guillotine is not actually French. The device was used throughout England and Scotland for quite a while before it made it to France. It was named after a doctor in the National Assembly who felt very strongly that all of the beheading by the revolutionaries should be more efficient, and I guess more humane. Beheading by guillotine was long reserved as a method of execution solely for criminals of noble birth. The revolutionaries considered that the common people deserved such a privilege too.

How typical. (As anybody who has read this column knows, I may dabble at hating the French but I — like all good conservatives, Burkeans, and other thoughtful people — despise the French Revolution. That’s typical of that awful cancer on the history of mankind.) Of course, I do not actually accuse Keyes of being anything like the monsters of the Reign of Terror. Still, there’s something about his crusading style that reminds me of that line by Camus, “Absolute virtue is impossible and the republic of forgiveness leads, with implacable logic, to the republic of the guillotine.” Then again, who cares what Camus thinks?

Moving on to more serious matters, many readers were quite dismayed by my less-than-stellar college-acceptance rate. Some of you assumed my phonebook-thick stack of rejection letters reflected various character flaws of mine; like maybe I used to think bong water is a beverage, or that I have a collection of ears in a mason jar sitting underneath my complete collection of X-Men comics. The real story is nothing like that (okay, maybe not nothing like that). The truth is, I was a distracted youth and I did quite fine in classes that captured my attention. Anyway, I used to have considerable hang-ups about this issue, and it was not unknown for me to “call out” various Ivy League Poindexters to see if they could “represent.” “Yo’ man,” I might say “do you know what the cultural contradictions of capitalism are?” The chump would lay some lame Daniel Bell rip-off line, and I’d kick him to the curb. But those days are over, as is, for all time, any attempt on my part to write in an “urban/contemporary” patois.

Still other readers were dismayed by my comments about American University, AU for short — which can also stand for Alcoholics Unanimous. Obviously, I am not one to throw stones at colleges that rejected me, but why should that stop me now? I’ve known many AU grads, and some of them were on the ball. But generally, AU is Rollins College without the weather.

As for my column on the “Battle in Seattle,” generally the response was favorable. But a few people felt I painted with too broad a brush — a few bad apples and all that. Too bad. One woman was quite upset about my statement that “there is a heavy correlation between people who think it is good to hate the French and people who know what they’re talking about.” Truth is, her criticism doesn’t deserve a response, but I thought the line sufficiently funny and her anger sufficiently asinine that I would repeat it out of spite. On the issue of “Moonraker Liberals,” my term for the Lefties who secretly believe the world would be better without humans, I got a lot of agreement and a lot of outrage. I refer the outraged people to http://www.vhemt.org. Here you will find the moral idiots who call for the voluntary extinction of humanity. ‘Nuff said.

And then there is the issue of that spokeswoman for asininity, Rosie O’Donnell and my column on the homeless. A number of people jumped to Rosie’s defense. What is it with liberals that they need to rely on people who barely have the intellectual candle power to warm a can of soup? Only in a Hollywood trailer could you hear such things as: Golly, do you really think we should index the CPI to inflation, Mr. Gere? Oh, Mr. Baldwin, you’re views on moving Social Security off-budget are as incisive as your jaw-line! Rosie O’Donnell got her start on Star Search. ‘Nuff said.

As for the homeless, first a minor clarification: Hillary compared the homeless to Baby Jesus, who, as I said, was not homeless. Rather, His parents couldn’t find a Ramada. However, I was not clear on this point, and several people sent me relevant New Testament (not my strong suit) passages that could be interpreted to mean that Jesus was in fact homeless when He was off working on more important matters. Fine.

But, beyond that I’m sticking to my guns. A few professional homeless and mental-health advocates were extremely angry with my usage of the word “damaged,” in reference to some mentally disabled homeless people. Sorry, but there’s nothing wrong with the word, except perhaps for its lack of diplomatic softness. I don’t mean to say that all people with mental disorders are permanently damaged; I don’t even mean to say that people with mental disorders are damaged at all (I myself have been known to speak in Sumerian and spin like a top every time I hear a Barry Manilow song). But if you’ve ever seen a drooling man walking down the street, pantless, while screaming racial epithets, you’d be willing to say the guy is damaged. If we are to accept that mental disorders are simply treatable medical conditions, then we should also agree that your brain can be broken just like your leg. Thankfully, modern science and medicine are constantly coming up with ways to fix the damage so these people can lead happy lives.

And finally, there is the issue of my goatee. Several people were upset that I did not call it a Van Dyck. Yeah, yeah, I know. But I think you traditionalists have lost that battle to common ignorance. You can’t call a cigarette a “fag” anymore, and “stoned” doesn’t mean “drunk” either (and could someone tell me which word means “can be burned” — inflammable or flammable?).

Among readers who could pause in their anti-Geraldo tirades long enough to express an opinion, views were mixed. In fact, I can’t say I’m entirely pleased with it myself. In fact, every now and then, when I see myself reflected in a store window, I think, “who is that fat guy?” But I said that before too. Now, especially when I’m wearing a turtleneck (or singing “I gave my love a cherry…”), I think, “Damn! I should kick my ass.”



Text  


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review