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March 04, 2005

Comments

Cranky Lawyer

Please pray for Mr. Taibbi and his associates.

Rich Leonardi

I think this newspaper is one of those hip, city "freebies" that people read on the subway. As Fr. Bryce Sibley mentioned on his blog the other day, this little man is in for a real chuckle if the next Pope turns out to be a more forceful disciplinarian than John Paul.

Dan Crawford

Taibbi and Bill O'Reilly were schooled in "New England TV journalism" in Providence and Boston respectively. It's characterized by smart-ass know-it-allism, fancies itself as highly intellectual, relies for insights on faculty members from one of the area's "approved institutions of higher learning", and depends on the conceit that the point of view is considerably more important than the facts of the story. That such an approach to reality attracts wide audiences says volumes about the state of our society.

Meggan

I don't understand how he can say these things about another human being - any human being.

If Matt had said in once sentence, "I'll be glad when the pope is dead because I don't like him" - then I'd understand. He's entitled to his opinion. But this???? You're right, Amy. It's insane. not sane.

Ugh.

Gerard E.

What a surprise. They don't like us. If this is how they feel about our spiritual leader. Odd that this piece of (this is a family blog) has generated angry words from people like Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer. Talk about the enemy of my enemy is my friend. At least in this instance. So now you wonder why there's a Catholic League and a feisty guy like Bill Donoghue in charge....

cathy

substitute the pope with some head of a muslim community (sorry, not familiar with terms) and watch the outrage.

Edward T.

Taibbi is only saying things the vast majority of those in the media and entertainment industry wish they could say. I worked in the news media, very anti-Catholic. Things that would come out of people's mouths in reference to Catholicism that would get them fired if it was directed at jews/blacks/homosexuals/etc.

The media will tolerate mamby-pamby John Kerry Catholics, the ones who toe the liberal cultural line. However, the hatred against the true Church is very real.

The media hates us, it's not being paranoid or accusatory, but the real deal.

"If the world hates you, remember, it hated me first."

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

I admit it! I confess sometimes I've been known to laugh at an insensitive evil joke, sometimes. I'm not proud of it. That having been said none of this crap is EVEN FUNNY!
Yes I agree with Amy these "jokes" are pathological, insane,...etc. But they AREN'T even funny! I'm reminded of the old Middle Eastern say "If you are going to go to Hell for adultery. At least make sure it's not for an ugly woman."
To sum up. This fellow is a low life. But to add insult to injury he isn't even a funny low life.

Hunk Hondo

I don't know how Matt Taibi contrived to enter my house last night, but the fact is evident. I found his heart in my cat's litter box this morning.

KH

Oh, I don't know, I think #26 is a scream, myself. Otherwise I agree w/Edward T.; keep this in mind and never forget it. They often pay us lip service but underneath, yeah, there is that much vitriol and hatred.

KH

Oh, I don't know, I think #26 is a scream, myself. Otherwise I agree w/Edward T.; keep this in mind and never forget it. They often pay us lip service but underneath, yeah, there is that much vitriol and hatred.

amy

The deeper issue for me is not what it says to "us" as Catholics, but as "us" as human beings. And here Meggan and Hunk Hondo get it right - the worldview is disturbing, not because of prejudice against Catholics, but because of the attitude towards a real human being who is suffering.

It's scary.

Paul

One has to have touched a nerve to bring forth a response like this piece of trash.I strongly suspect that the Pope has touched this nerve sometime in the writer`s past.

ajb

I really, really, really hope Hall & Oates aren't contemplating a comeback.

Roz

This is a sign that American society passed a terrible point of no return some time ago. Yeah, this guy wrote it, but SOMEONE PUBLISHED IT. Screams of outrage only serve to convince them that they have succeeded in whatever they were trying to do.

Jesus died for these dudes. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Richard

Fr. Sibley had this up a couple days ago. I second his and Rich's comments about how funny it will be for these folks if the next Pope turns out to *really* conservative.

Haven't been able to access their site since. Looks like they crashed themselves with this story. Talk about unintended blessings.

The article itself is execrable in ways which defy adequate description. It's Elephant Dung Mary, only in writing.

Blue State secular culture at its worst. No question. Surely there are classier ways to up your readership. Like, say, having the editors set themselves on fire outside the front door.

piraeus

I realize that even to ask this confers a kind of legitimacy on this articled it doesn't deserve. But is he correct (in 7,6, and 5) about shutting the Bronze Door when a pope dies? Is he talking about the main doors to the Basilica? Those are only open for Holy Years and Easter no? And there are no gates to St. Peter square. I mean I lived in Rome for a semester and don't remember that.

Donald R. McClarey

Quick, someone send this clown a copy of anything written by Mark Twain. If you are going to attempt humor writing, it is very important to have something at least mildly amusing in it. This tripe even fails as anti-Catholic literature; Martin Luther would shake his head at this sorry attempt at pope hatred. We desperately need more literate anti-Catholics who will produce something worth responding to. This sorry mess isn't even on a par with some poor addled bag lady screeching that the Pope is the anti-Christ outside of a Church.

Jay Anderson

"One has to have touched a nerve to bring forth a response like this piece of trash.I strongly suspect that the Pope has touched this nerve sometime in the writer`s past."

The only other time I have witnessed virulent anti-John Paul II sentiments (though not quite this bad) was during a conversation I had with a homosexual former religious.

I have been told that a former priest at my parish (before the arrival of our current very orthodox priest) used to fly into fits of apoplexy at the very mention of the name John Paul II.

Tom Kelty

Vile.despicable,cruel,dishonest,abominable,vitriole,
the product of a diseased mind with no forgiveable qualities,debasing,insulting,sacriligeous,scurrilous,beyond all bounds of any humor or crirticism, fiendish,absurd,sophomoric, hate-filled and depressing, calculated to appeal to morons who feed and thrive on this kind of defecation .
And you say that this is a strong under-current in the fourth estate? It is proof of how tough it is to be #1.

RP Burke

Is this for real?

Maclin Horton

In ascending order by level of horror and dismay invoked:

--that somebody would think some of these thoughts

--that he would think they are funny

--that he would think other people would think they are funny

--that he would be right

--that a newspaper, no matter how "alternative," would consider them fit to publish

In point of fact, I don't think "funny" is really the operative word. The sort of glee in evidence here has nothing to do with humor in the normal sense, but rather with the imagined consummation of an enormous hatred.

John M.Esparolini

If he were to be consistent, Taibbi would write a whole series of "52 Funniest Things" about other deaths and tragedies past, present, and future as well.

For example:

"The 52 Funniest Things About the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr." or,

"The 52 Funniest Things About the Death of the Dalai Lama," or

"The 52 Funniest Things About FDR's Polio," or

"The 52 Funniest Things About AIDS," or

"The 52 Funniest Things About the Holocaust"

As you can see, the possibilities for similar such "comedy" are endless.

Of course, if he were to do such a thing you'd never hear the end of the screeching emanating from the outraged and offended.

Julianne Wiley

Jesus saw THIS at Gethsemane, too..

I spoze the thing to do (ok, prayer, fasting, stations of the cross) --- but the thing to DO, politically, is to deprive them of every one of their advertisers.

Where's the list? Who's got the list? Where do I write? Where do I call?

Rick

Where do I call?

Get the Catholic League on this, if they aren't already.

Rick

I see the Catholic League already issued a statement. Looks like they are not bothering to demand an apology. Maybe the New York Press caters to such a corrupt audience that it would be useless to put pressure on its publisher, readership, or advertisers.

RP Burke

Catholic League is a bunch of wolfcriers.

The thing is so outrageous (and not funny, either) that it doesn't merit a response. It will go away on its own soon enough.

WRY

Ah, once again we see that one of the best things about being Catholic is that we are hated by all the right people!

Rod Dreher

New York Press used to publish reasonable stuff under its previous owner, even if the back of the newspaper was filled with ads for escort services. But somebody else bought the paper out around the time I left NYC. I haven't seen what they've done with it. The execrable Taibbi piece indicates that they've trashed the thing.

Anti-Catholic, even anti-papal, invective is one thing. But that piece is so black-hearted that it crosses the line into pathology, or a spiritual disorder so deep that it defies explanation. It is, in point of fact, evil. The fact that it is a petty, grasping, pathetic evil does not make it any less so.

I suspect that New York Press has no idea what it's done with this. The only advertisers it's going to have when this storm blows over are the dildo stores and prostitutes. Good.

caroline

Is there any reason for the number 52?

frank sales

"Petty" and "grasping" is exactly right. I don't even find myself roused to anger by this -- only pity and compassion at the thought of what a dank sewer this writer's heart and mind must be. His need for healing is much more urgent than the Holy Father's.

Christopher Johnson

Wonder if little Matty knows that he's probably made quite a few converts to Catholicism by this middle school bathroom graffiti of his?

stuart chessman

Pure evil. But as Edward T. points out, you would not find this type of thing that uncommon in media, education or "art" in this country(remember the Madonna at the Brooklyn Museum?. and let's not even mention Europe: Spanish, German even Irish media display their hatred routinely. Theatrical productions and their advertising are routinely blasphemous.

Maybe people thought they had reached a modus vivendi with the World. If so, perhaps this article serves a valuable purpose by nudging them out of their stupor.

James Kabala

I used to read the Press online sometimes because they carried one of my favorite columnists, Christopher Caldwell. As Rod mentions, the previous owner, Russ Smith, was also a self-described conservative, although he was pro-abortion in the first trimester. Indeed, I think the Press was originally conceived as a right-leaning alternative to the NY Observer and the Village Voice. Alas, it has now sunk deeper into the pit of hell than any other mainstream or semi-mainstream publication I am aware of. Rod is right that it will probably collapse over the next few weeks, and good riddance.

P.S. I agree with what Ben Yachov had some other posters have said: I've heard "black humor" jokes that I could understand someone's laughing at, but 90% of this list doesn't even make sense, let alone be funny.

Susan Peterson

I am ashamed to say that the alumni list of my fairly distinguished college recently had about 30 posts with the topic "The pope can die now."

The theme was that the pope said homosexuality was evil and they hate him for it and fear that he influences others to think that way and the sooner he dies the better. From their point of view, how could the next pope possibly be worse?

Any time I have posted on that list anything about Catholic teaching about sexuality, even quotes from documents to clarify what the teaching actually is, when it was previously mentioned by someone on the list, I have drawn incredible vitriol (and, I think, attempts to attack my computer with viruses) on myself.

By the way, these folks also hate Mother Teresa. Really.

Susan Peterson

KH

A little while ago, I heard an interview on talk radio with the NYPress publisher? Owner? Editor in chief? He and Matt Taibbi are friends, they drink together and Matt is a really funny guy who wrote a really funny article. Everyone he knows thinks it was so funny. Anyway, one spin he offered was since the pope is divine to so many, this was a good way to humanize him; you know, take him down a few pegs. Genius.

He said that just like the little old lady in Queens wouldn't buy Playboy b/c she would disagree with the content, his paper isn't for her, either. It's for hip, savvy New Yorkers.

He swallows his "L"s...he could barely get out "little old lady". Now that's funny.

Lynn

I hate to dignify this trash by acknowledging it.

jtbf

"substitute the pope with some head of a muslim community (sorry, not familiar with terms) and watch the outrage"

I doubt that hating a muslim would generate outrage.How about substituting the Pope with Elie Wiesel or Abe Foxman? Stand back - way back - because there is going to be an uproar. Or just make a movie with Caiphas as a character.
Speaking of expressions of hate, which that article was, are the posters who went wild condemning Muslims last January willing to retract their vitriol now that 2 Hispanics who lived upstairs have been arrested for the crime?

Regina

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,149434,00.html

The hatefest was on January 17th (hello, Rich Leonardi!)under "Coptic Family Killed".

Maclin Horton

I've had experiences very similar to what Susan describes above. It's all over the place in the pop music world. Ten years or so ago some enterprising soul brought Al "Year of the Cat" Stewart to my little town for a concert. Having really liked his stuff from the '70s, I went. Somewhat to my surprise it was a great concert, and I signed up for an email fan list, with some idea of finding out what in his post-'70s work might be worthwhile.

Neither Stewart's songs nor his stage patter had any particular religious or political content. But the email list was full of really nasty anti-Christian, and especially anti-Catholic stuff, to which people would resort at the slightest hint of a pretext. I complained and people acted like I wanted them to stop saying the earth is round or something. I think I lasted a total of three weeks or so.

On the message board of a music service recently I heard a discussion about the infamous Norwegian death metal scene, whose participants burned a number of churches and committed a few murders. People had reservations about murders but thought church burning was understandable.

I'm not one to see persecution coming around the corner but it doesn't hurt to be aware of the level of hatred that's out there.

Mary D. Frey Malachowski

What a Shame, and Shame on him! I began to read them, and found that I became nauseous! I agree...Pray for that man, and the editor that allowed it.

Jimmy Mac

I am FAR from a biggest fan of JP II, but that article was disgusting. I'm not sure why anyone would want to continue to read it.

This guy Matt seems to be typical of what passes for macho masculinity in the popular culture of today. Glad it's not my schtick.

esme

Matt Taibbi has made a career (such as it is) by trying to offend as many people as possible. He also writes for an expat paper in Russia, the eXile, where his contributions stirred up equal outrage. (I believe the only topic that stirred his praise was the alleged sexual availability of nubile young Russian women.) Clearly he's successful at garnering attention, if nothing else ...

Liam

This thing is depraved and obscene. Page 3 girls/guys would be less so....

Will

Caroline:

If the number 52 was intentional (as opposed to simply being the length of the list once written down and edited), then it may be a reference to "52 Better Things To Do In Zero-Gravity", a title mentioned in Douglas Adams' Hichhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series. The reference is tangential, but people of a certain age and culture would typically be familiar with the work.

James Kabala

jtbf:
Good grief. There has been almost no publicity about that. When did it happen?

James Kabala

By "that" and "it" I mean the arrest, not the well-publicized original crime.

Chris

Will,

The number 52 probably is deliberate, because it seems he had to stretch to get 52. For instance, 3-4 or 4-5 can be combined, even 3-5 combined. It would make more sense, if you want to call it that, if he had.

This is just plain stupid, as well as being sick. This guy makes a lot of money for not knowing how to write.

Ed

The article is breath-taking in its idiocy.

Fr. Shawn O'Neal

Poor writing such as this gets in the way good humorists doing good work.

This should die as quick a death as the "Committed" episode and the play "Corpus Christi".

Chris

For those who don't think that going to school in Russia can't dehumanize you:

journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/ bullpen/matt_taibbi/backgrounder.html

Chris

About the double negative, sorry.

robin

Lynn, I have to agree with you.

Kate

Can anyone explain why we're giving any attention at to this puerile jerk?

Kate

at all. sorry

Charles A.

... which is why we (Catholics) have to keep insisting that the doctrinal and moral teachings of Catholic TRADITION are not the "policies of the Pope"...

Kathy

This is what you do about it...even if he is juvenile this would in my opinion come under hate crimes. So we can have these people print this about Our Holy Father-Christ's shepherd on earth? No- we do the prayers for him, his editor, the newspaper and for all of N.Y. and then take action. I hate to tell you -this kind of behavior is NOT GOING AWAY no matter how much attention it gets. It's time to deal with it just as you would a temper throwing child! One more thing--because it was made public it IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DEFEND HOLY MOTHER CHURCH and our Shepherd--at ALL COSTS!

[email protected]

Dear Editor:

How could anyone in their right mind allow this to be printed in a newspaper? Do you have a strategic plan in place? Does this follow the plan for the future of your newspaper? I think not. You understand that I and millions of Roman Catholics in this country and around the world will not tolerate this kind of discrimination and offense. I expect and demand that you print a sincere apology made to the Holy Father John Paul II, the Diocese of New York, to all Catholics, and all Christians. I also expect and demand a
retraction of this article.

This article is totally abominable,disgusting, and QUITE OFFENSIVE. There are no excuses for printing and publishing this THRASH article. This would not have ever occurred some 10-20 yrs ago. This shows how poorly your writers were taught in journalism classes and how the editor used poor judgement.

I will pray for this writer, your newspaper and for the Catholics of New York.

Sincerely,
K.A.P.

Ron Van Wegen

No, No, No! It's not "MAD" it's "BAD". Never apply the term "insane" when the term "evil" is required. If the man is insane then we are to be compassionate. If he is bad then we have a duty to say so. This man is bad and not mad.

jtbf

James Kabala:

"There has been almost no publicity about that. When did it happen?"

Earlier today. Screaming headlines, talk show frenzies and the usual blog posters when it could be blamed on Muslims; all quiet on all fronts now that it has been shown to be a robbery by non-Muslim neighbors. Read through the 1/17 posts here and elsewhere to get a look at hateful supposition, religious bigotry and racial condemnation. At least one poster said it couldn't possibly be a robbery. Where is he tonight?

Eileen R

He said that just like the little old lady in Queens wouldn't buy Playboy b/c she would disagree with the content, his paper isn't for her, either. It's for hip, savvy New Yorkers.

Hip and savvy must really have been redefined lately.

Rod Dreher

Susan: Any time I have posted on that list anything about Catholic teaching about sexuality, even quotes from documents to clarify what the teaching actually is, when it was previously mentioned by someone on the list, I have drawn incredible vitriol (and, I think, attempts to attack my computer with viruses) on myself.

I can think of one time in particular I experienced something like this. It was about 11 years ago, and I was living in Washington. I'd spent the morning with four women, all Democrats, one of whom lived in a group house in which I lived on Capitol Hill. I knew two of the women; the other two I didn't. I don't know what we did that morning -- went to a museum or something -- and we ended up at a Mexican restaurant for lunch.

One of the women saw me cross myself before eating. She asked if I was a Catholic. Yes, I said.

"Are you against abortion?" she said, and looked stricken.

"Yes," I said, "but this isn't the place to talk about it."

That was pretty much the last word I got in. All four of them started rhetorically beating the crap out of me. It was amazing how they jumped on me, and didn't hold back. I kept trying to get a word in edgewise, but these for went on and on about how evil the Church is, and Catholics are, etc, etc. It was weird, as if they'd changed somehow. The mousy woman who'd first asked me the question about my faith was literally shaking in her seat. She said to the others, "I'm afraid of him."

And there I am, sitting there staring into my refried beans.

The women got so loud attacking me people started to stare. Finally I threw money on the table for my meal, and walked out. I never saw them again, except for my housemate, who apologized for getting out of hand, but said really, I'd provoked it. How? By holding such an offensive opinion.

I think that these people are literally deranged by hatred.

Richard

Hello Rod,

Sad story.

If I didn't know better...I'd swear there was a possession involved. Then again, I suppose there is.

OTOH, there's this passage in the Catholic League statement:

Its celebration of libertinism leaves it squarely at odds with the sexual reticence favored by Catholicism. It also leaves it squarely at odds with nature, which explains why attending funerals is not an uncommon experience for those who work there.

I bet this would have your circle /coven shaking even more. Harsh. But with an element of truth.

Lynn

That is a sad story, Rod, and I commend you for your courage. I have a similar story that gives me hope.
Several years ago, I joined in a prayer vigil at an abortion clinic that opened across the street from a high school.
One morning I was eating breakfast, and a man and a little girl came in and sat across the restaurant from me After a few minutes the man got up, walked to my table, looked down at me and said, "Didn't I see you standing in from of that abortion clinic?
I braced for anger or a scene and said, "Yes, I was there."
The man looked at the child, then back to me, and said, "Do you see that little girl over there? She's only alive because of what you're doing. Please don't ever stop doing it."
He went on to tell me the story of his wife and his determination to have this child despite many obstacles and the pro-lfe message that saved her life.
Oddly, this family and I became neighbors and then friends. Mandy was the joy of his life.

Lynn

Sorry if I'm off-topic...

Flammer

I do not want to defend Taibbi.

But, could there be a reason for #1? (The marble, bonk.)

In an earlier time medical science wasn't exact, and determining death was uncertain. When a Pope died, they took a silver hammer, tapped his skull, called him by his given ("Christian") name, and asked, "are you dead?"

Or, am I crediting this "humorist" with too much knowledge?

Liam

Lynn

Thank you for being off-topic. It was worth everything else in this thread, and redeemed the idiocy that prompted it.

Faith

Stunningly, abysmally, dangerously ignorant- Amy I'm referring to your posting, and although I did not read all of the comments yet, Rod's posting at 11:31 pm. The writer's attempt at contemptuous humor is rank, and am looking forward to passing up the publishing company's eventual and inevitably unsuccessful going-out-of-business sale. Rod, as for your experience, God Bless you, I've been in that position many times myself- it's like being sucker-punched... to those people who claim we have been brainwashed by the doctrine of the Catholic Church, I have at times had the presence of mind to say in response that my accuser has been brainwashed by the doctine of these pathetically sad times, naming names of the elitist liberals that they idolize and emulate but who shall remain nameless here. And when I ask these people how their lives are better without God, embracing liberal views, and espousing the loud but empty philosophies that could fit on a bumper sticker, their answer is usually painful silence. God help them all.

Paul

I fully support the comments made by others in this thread regarding anti-Catholic/Christian attacks.Remember though, that the internet and blogging provides a chance to witness and declare our beliefs.Circunstances may restrict our means of declaring our faith/beliefs physically eg.praying near an abotion clinic.No one reading this however is restricted from visiting internet sites which are against our beliefs and proudly proclaming the Gospel(even if for a short time only).One can never be sure that every seed will fall on barren ground.

Maclin Horton

Regarding Rod's post above: one of my oldest and best friends is connected by family to some pretty elite journalistic circles. I've heard from him several very similar stories, in which his Catholicism and political conservatism have been discovered at some social or family gathering, resulting in a similarly frenzied attack.

Jimmy Mac

As I look across the spectrum of responders to this bog of Amy's, I am pleased to see that, whatever the past opinion of the various writers might be about different subjects and how much we might agree or disagree with each other, on this topic there is common cause.

Aaron

A lot of people seem confused as to what could possibly be funny about these jokes. Here's a dry, unfunny explanation of why they are funny to some people that might help some readers understand.

With a couple of exceptions, the entire list is a bunch of observations of things that WILL INEVITABLY HAPPEN when the pope dies, but that nobody will talk about because death makes us all very uncomfortable and we don't want to think about it.

The jokes presented pretty much the same idea over and over again, in different ways:

1) The pope is a living symbol of religion, an institution that is attractive to most people primarily because it offers hope of escape from the inevitability of death.

2) The reason the pope is loved and adored world-wide by followers of Catholicism. is that he promises people escape from everything that makes death scary.

3) The pope is inevitably going to die, and everything that makes death scary (and thus makes religion attractive) is going to happen to him.

So why is this funny? This is banana-peel humor. Laughing at this sort of humor is no more evil (or less evil) then laughing at the sight of someone slipping on a banana peel.

Whether you laugh at someone slipping on a banana peel has nothing to do with how cruel you are; it has to do with how emotionally distant you are from the situation.

This type of humor arises from the disconnected observation of suffering that cannot be avoided. There are several formulas for it -- the simplest being tragedy + time = comedy.

When we laugh at someone slipping on a banana peel, we are experiencing an involuntary reaction. We laugh because we recognize exactly what the person slipping is going through. We see that the situation was completely unintentional, completely surprising, and completely unavoidable.

We laugh because we know that we, too, will slip on banana peels (or experience other such miseries that surprise us, are completely accidental and painful) and that despite this fact we will go on living because there is nothing else to be done.

We laugh at the absurdity of life, in which each of us plugs on in the face of unavoidable tragedy because there is nothing else to be done.

The Pope, who has spend his life comforting people who are afraid of death and all that makes death scary, will be inevitably pulled down into the same experience that he's spent his life convincing others not to worry about. He can't avoid it.

In essence, the pope is slipping on a banana peel. Those standing next to him (Catholics, many other religious people) are too close to the event to laugh. The banana peel is too close, they are too aware of their own vulnerability to the banana peel to see the humor in it.

Some are distant enough to laugh. They don't laugh because they enjoy the Pope's pain. They laugh because they recognize the unavoidability of tragedy, the absurdity of life and our flailing efforts to avoid the unavoidable. They laugh because they know that they, too, are stuck in this tragedy, but there is nothing to do but laugh and press on.

It is important to note that there's a huge difference between laughing at someone slipping on a banana peel, and laughing because you CAUSED someone to slip on a banana peel.

That said, there is a risk of harm here that also exists when one laughs at someone slipping on a banana peel. When people who don't "get it" -- people to close to the tragedy -- are exposed to someone laughing in this way, more pain is caused. This is unnecessary, and probably cancels out any positive effects from the laughter.

Thus, just as it's not a good idea to laugh at someone slipping on a banana peel when that person or someone who deeply cares about them can hear you, it's not really a good idea to laugh at the pope's tragedy in front of him or those who care about him. They aren't ready to laugh yet, and may never be. They're too close to the tragedy.

In the same way, this article probably caused suffering. That wasn't the direct intent of the writer, in my opinion -- rather the writer was to self-obsessed to care that his laughter would be heard by those who would be caused pain. Is causing pain his primary purpose? No. But he was irresponsible, in my opinion, in that he may well end up causing more pain than laughter.

Which is kind of tragic/funny in itself, if you really think about it long enough ...

Mark Shea

In the same way, this article probably caused suffering. That wasn't the direct intent of the writer, in my opinion

This whole maudlin piece of crap reminds me of Bloom County's "Steve Dallas: Time-Traveling Lawyer" as he stand in the bunker with Hitler and barks, "Say it again!"

To which Hitler replies, haltingly, "I'm. a victim. too!"

Aaron, with no due respect, you're full of crap. Of *course* the guy intended to hurt people.

Aaron

I'm sorry I couldn't help you understand, Mark. You're closer to the banana peel then most, so its understandible that this would hurt you more than most.

Therese Z

Aaron, let's go over and see your aging grandparents and say the same things about them in front of you. Do they struggle to speak? Or limp? Do their hands shake, so you have to be careful when you pour them coffee? Hey, maybe your mom or dad could be there, too, so we can ridicule their dying parents in front of them?

Whoo-weee, won't we have fun? You couldn't possibly be offended, could you?

The Church is our FAMILY.

Jay Anderson

"At least one poster said it couldn't possibly be a robbery. Where is he tonight?"

I'm not sure you're on topic here, but since you've addressed it, I think I need to respond.

I don't know if you're referring to my 2 posts of 1/17 (if not, just ignore the rest), but if so, I have 3 points:

(1) Go back and read BOTH of my posts on 1/17 (again, if you're not referring to me, then never mind). I don't think either say that robbery was an impossible motive. In fact, my second post acknowledges the possibility.

(2) Read my post on the topic today (under "Arrests Made").

(3) Sometimes I turn out to be right, sometimes I turn out to be wrong. I post under my full name (not a screen name, or my initials, or just my first name, or just my last name) so people know who I am either way. Sometimes facts come to light that show me to be mistaken - when that happens, I come right out and acknowledge it. Sometimes facts come to light to show me to be correct - when that happens, I try not to carry such a big chip on my shoulder that I run around Amy's blog posting off topic and looking for people who disagreed with me in order to rub it in their faces.

Mark Shea

Aaron:

Please learn to read. I didn't say the piece hurt me, so please quit with the free psychoanalysis. I said the guy manifestly intended to hurt. What he succeeded in doing was acting like an a$$hole. It is possible for people to recognize that somebody is an a$$hole without being hurt by that recognition. In the same way, when a two year old calls me a doodyhead because I tell them it's time for bed, I don't lose sleep over it. I simply recognize that I am not dealing with a psychological and emotional equal. Same with Taibbi. Except the two year old has an excuse. Taibbi's just an a$$hole.

Aaron

Mark,

By your reaction, you clearly seem hurt. Either that, or you are simply filled with hate and anger with no cause, which wouldn't make much sense. This kind of anger almost always comes from pain.

Therese is reacting in the same way you are -- lashing out in anger. This is an understandible response. My intent in trying to explain what appears to be going on here was to help you folks through the anger, by showing you the underlying human motivations of these jokes.

But I understand if your pain makes you unable to see underlying human motivation of this guy. It's not your fault -- he was certainly inconsiderate of your position. He has caused a lot of pain, with his attempt at humor. If you're unable to believe he wasn't intentionally hurting you, that's understandible -- in your position I might lash out angrily, too.

Therese Z

You enter here in the middle of our sorrowing anger and pain, and instead of empathy, you devalue it.

How superior of you.

Anger? Hardly. Merely mirroring your disdain back at you. You're pretty easy to figure out.

Donald R. McClarey

"As I look across the spectrum of responders to this bog of Amy's, I am pleased to see that, whatever the past opinion of the various writers might be about different subjects and how much we might agree or disagree with each other, on this topic there is common cause."

True Jimmy Mac, and it was nice. Then Aaron came along.

Maclin Horton

I did not, needless to say, find the Taibbi piece amusing. But Aaron, with all due respect, I did smile at your attempt to explain Taibbi. In fact I wondered if you were putting us on. Assuming you're not, I give you credit for attempting to be charitable to the guy, but I don't think your analysis is accurate. At all.

Aaron

Well, folks, I have to admit that I laughed at almost the entire list. I didn't expect to -- when I read the title I couldn't imagine laughing. But I did. At the same time I kept thinking "Why am I laughing? Obviously, these are hurtful to some people. I don't want people to hurt."

But there was nothing to be done -- I can't help laughter. Real laughter is an involuntary response.

So I tried to explain here why the list is funny to some people, including me, in hopes of reducing the hurt that people here were obviously feeling. Maybe that's not possible, but I tried.

Ultimately, we're going to laugh at everything, I hope. When enough time has passed, that is. At some point, when death and evil and pain are just memories, we'll all laugh at all of this. Popes included. That's what I hope.

Gerard Van der  Leun

Live in hope, die in despair.

GetALifeAgain

Get A Life!

Victor Morton

Aaron:

In the abstract, much of your description of the nature of "banana peel" humor, and its relationship to cruelty, makes sense as mere truism. And I agree that much dark humor is a talisman to remove the pain from much-more-serious subjects.

Still, your descriptions don't take their own distinctions seriously enough, as applied to Taibbi's article. The relationship to cruelty has to be masked for the humor to be maintained (and so even describing it or trying to apply it to a particular case like Taibbi is in some ways self-defeating ... insert metaphor about frog-killing and humor, or the little boy who cut open his drum to see what made it bang). And precisely *because* this sort of humor presupposes a certain anonymity or abstractness or as you put it, "distance." (Or, I suppose, total contempt and hatred for the subject matter in general or the object lesson in particular.)

Taibbi didn't do that, or even try to. He didn't describe what was funny about the death of "Generic Old Person" or the death of "Fictional Character Who Doesn't Exist" or "Fictional Character Set Up As An Abstract Audience Foil." (You're talking to a huge fan of the film KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, so I'm not squeamish about having fun with death, even multiple murder.)

Taibbi joked (or tried to) about the death of a real, live human being of too, too solid flesh. It doesn't matter that many of the jokes were generically about things that will happen to you, me, and everyone else when death comes. He said them specifically about Karol Joszef Wojtyla. And that's crossing the line.

Mac

I'm with Aaron. I laughed at this, I have to admit. But what I thought was funny was simply how incredibly mean, shocking, and totally brutal this is.

Taibbi is an atheist. To him, all the media hubbub about "the Pope came to his window today, cycled incessantly on CNN/Fox/MSNBC is too absurd and meaningless to bear. So he fires back with a rather bizarre, surreal rant that basically says "I don't give damn about the pope." Yes, it is designed to anger Catholics, just as an Ann Coulter column is designed to anger liberals. This is America; the guy can say what he wants. You don't like? Read something else.

Donald R. McClarey

"This is America; the guy can say what he wants."

Yes, and so can we. The difference being that we aren't moronic jerks who can't write.

michigancatholic

Infantile.

If I had been plastered enough to write this slop, I'd slither to court and change my name ASAP.

This guy has to live with this forever. Ewwwwwww.

Kevin Walsh

If you've read enough of Taibbi's stuff over the past couple of years in the NY Press, you would know that he seethes with hate over everything that doesn't meet his political standards, and the Catholic Church certainly fits those parameters.

I believe hatred of the Catholic Church is greater now than ever before in the USA, at least.

That makes two papers I have quit on in one month's time, after the NYPost in February. Looks like I'm on a roll.

www.forgotten-ny.com

Andrea Harris

Aaron spaketh:

the entire list is a bunch of observations of things that WILL INEVITABLY HAPPEN when the pope dies, but that nobody will talk about because death makes us all very uncomfortable and we don't want to think about it.
Yeah, lying in the coffin trying not to think about eels -- that will INEVITABLY HAPPEN when the Pope dies. Me, I guess I'll be lying in mine trying not to think about amateur psychiatrists dumping squidgy, mewling, patronizing commentary on blogs. By the way, I'm not Catholic, so I have no particular dog in this hunt, except the usual dogs of wondering where basic civility and decency have gone.

Maclin Horton

I'm more shocked than ever now, hearing that at least two people ("Mac" and "Aaron" above) found this thing funny. I have a fairly dark sense of humor myself. I even think Ambrose Bierce's defintion of worm's meat is funny ("The end product of which we are the raw material.") Victor's analysis gets to the difference between this kind of humor and Taibbi's whatever-it-is. (I like "Kind Hearts and Coronets" too, by the way.)

While waxing my car this afternoon I tried to think of anyone at all of whom I could say that the vision of his or her brains being eaten by beetles would strike me as funny. Anyone in my personal life, anyone in public life, anyone in history. Nope, nobody. Nobody whatsoever--not Hitler or Nero or the BTK killer, not anybody who ever offended or hurt me personally, not any political figure no matter how much I detest him.

What I could imagine is that if someone I loved had been killed by, say, the BTK killer I might contemplate the above image with savage, furious, vengeful hatred. But this is not what I at any rate mean when I use the word "humor."

It's back to Amy's original point: to think, and even more to speak, this way of any actual suffering person is pathological.

Aaron

Andrea, I agree that the pope probably won't think about eels. You just failed to include the words "with a couple exceptions" in your blockquote. So your point that one of the 52 won't inevitably happen doesn't actually contradict my post.

But, doesn't anybody else irrationally worry that they'll still be conscious when they're dead and buried? I do. Sure it's irrational, but that doesn't keep me from being scared of it -- which made the idea of it happening to the pope kinda funny, because I could relate.

Andrea Harris

*Stares blankly at the talking teapot*

Ken Summers

In all fairness, Number 26 was funny.

George Kloss

This poor little boy Matt Taibbi needs prayers, fasting and Christ's mercy. Strange, not even carrying an impact because it is so way over the top. Not even worth time to refute or care. This is just an outright call for prayers by someone who wants to follow the Pope but cannot admit it.

John Paul II we love you! Long live John Paul II. God is good!

Colin

Thank you all for sharing your insights and reactions to the disgusting and heartless Taibbi "article". I stumbled upon the NY Press at my gym on Saturday afternoon and was absolutely apalled to see that ANY publication would publish such rot. I'll keep Mr. Taibbi and his editor in my prayers, but I will also write to demand a retraction and an apology. I have tried to explain to people the hatred that we Catholics encounter, and I am rarely believed; perhaps this ridiculous stunt will make that more clear to the public at large. Or not.

I am reminded of the time in high school when I confronted a teacher after class about remarks he frequently made about the Church that offended me; he told me that was "my problem" and repeated to me that the Church is a "sexist" institution. Blah blah blah.

d f

funniest thing about the death of MLK Jr.: someone shot that nigger in his head, and got away with it

funniest thing about about the death of the dalai lama: the current benevloent chink isn't dead yet

funniest thing about the holocaust: skeleton-faced jews are funny

funniest thing about AIDS: you have to have sex with some skank-ass ho and not wear a condom to get it

funniest thing about FDR's Polio: his dick probably didn't work at all correctly at the end of his life

3 funniest things about you idiots:
1. you think that you need to save someone by praying
2. you are all clearly racists
3. you don't lnow what a joke is

Average Berkeley California Resident

This anti-Christian gold is what we residents of Berkeley live for. Everyone who has been properly educated knows that God is a myth and all organized religion is for the weak-willed! UC Berkeley requires this teaching in the curriculum, and there is no finer or more sober center of objective learning anywhere. And just because we here in the enlightened Bay Area have nothing left to do in life other than fight to flog to death the same old drug and gay-related issues in the press, and to spend our lives in coffeehouses being fucking dismal and pretending to be intellectual and superior to everyone, doesn't mean that these God-believers are really happier, even if they pretend to be. After all, we know it's more important to call yourself intellectual than to be happy or secure. We've even gambled our lives on the premise, we can't afford to lose now, with no afterlife to go to. Oh yeah, and as our local university and media teaches us hourly here in Berkeley, "Bush is a liar". Repeat the mantra daily as we do, lest you forget it. Happy Solstice, fellow Secularists!

Average Religious Idiot

That's so funny! I fucking HATE smart people. Why would anyone choose to be aware of reality rather than happy? I love being a fucking idiot. Now we have a mandate! That's so awesome! Take that, intellectuals!

I hate fags, but I want to blow the President! I always pray for him every night because I'm a fucking deluded retard. Yay for stupid!

Sick of Catholic bigots

Just anti-bigot.... and the pope was a BIGOT... just like most of the people who have blathered on on here...

The pope calls Gays and Lesbians "Evil", and that's OK.... but someone writes something about the evil pope and you're up in arms...

Jesus, save me from your followers

J.R. Herbaugh

Matt Taibbi's words are infalliable. I believe every word He writes. I worship Him. He is my savior. I devote an hour every week to Him. I read and re-read His words every day. If only you would believe in Him would you be saved too. If you know people who have wandered off from Taibbi's truth, don't write them off. Go after them. Get them back. I want all of you to know that each of you is accountable to Taibbi. I will pray to Taibbi for you. May Taibbi have mercy on you. Taibbi Bless You and Taibbi Bless the USA.

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