Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
E-newsletters
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join
Username:
Password:

The Lunaris Caeruleus Caseus Journal: 3

| No Comments

This is the third of seven sections.

 

I realize that I could have condensed and disposed, as it were, all of this blue-cheese-moon stuff with a simple 300-word, half-hour-effort, blog post: Truth wins out! Jefferys is vindicated! Farber the Loser loses! Beefy quotes from court transcripts and interviews, links to sources -- and be done with it. But the case, though obscure in one way, is also an important one, and raises some fundamental indeed foundational concerns. Keeping that in mind, I wanted to make what I think are a couple of pertinent connections, and also to put some narrative flesh on the bare bony facts of the case and its two (welcome) verdicts.  

 

First things first: there's the matter of scope and detail. I'm not a lawyer but I can muddle my way through some legalese if need be. That having been said, I'm hardly well-versed in New York State's legal structure, or the composition and hierarchy of its courts, or the specific procedures to be followed in a libel case such as this one, or the appointment and terms (not to mention the individual temperaments and reputations) of judges and justices. But over the last few days I've learned, even if only at a superficial level, something about all those matters -- because they matter to the case at hand, and mattered (and might still matter), anxiously and painfully one would imagine, for Richard Jefferys.

 

If I've inflicted pain upon myself (I haven't) and also on those of you still reading (I hope I haven't) by doing some high-speed research and writing; if I have, adventitiously perhaps, invoked Snyder v. Phelps and battles over the teaching of evolution; and if I've summarized the legal process at greater length than strictly necessary ... Well, let's do some vicarious and metaphorical shoe-swapping: imagine what Jefferys must have endured for nearly four years: these words, and the time, are a trickle merely and a blink of an eye in comparison. (One could argue then, yes I know: why not write 10,000 or 100,000 words etc -- but let's not go there, to that place of particularly tedious tediousness.) Imagine the shock and pain, the steep learning curve, the quotidian hassles, the nagging doubt (however small) that it ain't over till it's over. His long-awaited victory, and its implications, deserve better than simply the "summary judgment" of relief. They deserve, rather, the light of being thrown into stark relief, and more commemoration -- some day by someone better than the present writer.

 

Second, the question of censorship. It's important to remember that no one was censoring, and no is planning to censor, Celia Farber. Plaintiffs, when they sue because of their loony, and mortally -- sub-lunarily -- dangerous beliefs, can spin the narrative, as politicians do -- "I'm suing only because they're bullies and they're trying to shut me up! I'm David and they, the mean and spiteful boys who want to control everything, are Goliath!" The retort, as Bart Simpson might put it: "Au contraire, mon frère!" Nothing of the sort. Farber's suit, in fact, was an intimidatory tactic: don't you, or anybody else, call me out or I'll sue your underpaid ass. There's a grimly delightful acronym for this sort of legal shenanigan: SLAPP: Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. It is SLAPP-filers who intend to silence critics, and it is SLAPP-happy people and corporations (also people now, legally speaking, of course) who are the ones that, directly and indirectly, promote a kind of censorship. In recognition of the harm that these lawsuits do to civil society and public discourse, 28 states, including New York, have some form of "statutory protection" against being SLAPPed around (though the wording of the statutes, and the scope of protection offered, varies widely).

 

From Wikipedia (though there are dozens of other sites on the subject needless to say, some highly technical, some with a great many examples, some with advice on how to proceed if you've been SLAPPed), a good opening and explanation: "A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition." And, with emphasis added for the next sentence: "The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff's goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate...The difficulty is that plaintiffs do not present themselves to the Court admitting that their intent is to censor, intimidate or silence their critics."

 

Next on: Celia Farber can go on spewing her lies for all eternity; she has that right. But does she, or should she?

The Lunaris Caeruleus Caseus Journal: 2

| No Comments

This is the second of seven sections.

 

The irony of it: someone tells the truth about someone who lies, and then the liar accuses the truth-teller, the actual whistleblower in a sense, of being a liar. This is an oversimplification of course. Defamation, libel, lying, slander -- there are subtle but important linguistic, and legal, distinctions to be made with these words. There are also the matters of bias, intent, irresponsibility, malice, and negligence Additionally, Celia Farber sued not only Richard Jefferys but also two somewhat controversial figures once associated with Emory University: Kevin D. Kuritzky (sometimes misspelled "Kuritsky"), an expelled medical student, and James J. Murtaugh, M.D. The legal matters that I've mentioned pertain to Richard Jefferys alone. Welcome to the wonderfully wacky world of nuisance suits -- certainly not Hedi Slimane for Dior Homme, sorry but I needed to be at least momentarily frivolous -- and the tortuously complicated torts of slander et cetera. 

 

Farber didn't actually file suit until May 2009 -- what's a year between soon-to-be legal disputants? -- but after that the judicial machinery started operating, slowly and tediously at times, but seriously too. (Jefferys was ably represented, pro bono, by the attorney Joseph Evall.) Motion to dismiss, opposition to the motion to dismiss, conversion of motion to summary judgment... Well. Finally, on 2 November 2011, Justice Louis B. York of the New York State Supreme Court (New York County) pronounced:  "Now, after careful consideration, the Court grants the motion and dismisses the action as it applies to Jefferys." In other words, Celia Farber didn't have grounds to file a defamation suit in the first place, and certainly couldn't claim that she was owed legal remedy.

 

The end? Not so, because Farber appealed. And it was only last week, on 19 February 2013 -- nearly five years after the (truthful) "liars and frauds" remark, nearly four years after Farber sued, and more than 15 months after the first decision -- that a five-member (appellate) panel of the State Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Justice York. They dismissed the complaint (made by Farber) and affirmed "with costs." ("Costs" here means filing and copying and other fees associated with the bureaucratic aspect of a lawsuit, not "damages" awarded, and also not Joe Evall's fees -- which anyway were zero since he was representing Jefferys pro bono. In other words, Farber, the loser, has to pay, and nothing comes out of Jefferys's pocket.)

 

The end? One would certainly hope so. Technically, however, Celia Farber could drag this on -- and on -- further, if she and her legal team want to. The name notwithstanding, the Supreme Court, in New York, is not the highest court in the state: it's a "trial-level" court. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court is, in practice, an intermediate appeals court; and its First Department (there are four in total), with 19 justices, has jurisdiction over Manhattan and the Bronx. The highest court in New York State is the Court of Appeals: one chief judge, seven associate judges. (Yes, the nomenclatural stuff is confusing, as is almost everything about the vagaries of legal terminology.)

 

Farber has the theoretical possibility of appealing again: that's the bad news. She could ask that all 19 justices of the Appellate Division's First Department consider her complaint (in legalese: en banc). Or, she could take her case to the Court of Appeals; or both. However: the good news is that en banc hearings are granted pretty rarely (I don't have New York's precise statistics at hand) and also that the Court of Appeals agrees to listen to less than 5% of the cases that are presented for petition. As that Court's website has it: "New York's highest appellate court was established to articulate statewide principles of law in the context of deciding particular lawsuits. The Court thus generally focuses on broad issues of law as distinguished from individual factual disputes."

 

The facts are not in dispute here as, first, Justice York, and then (in order of seniority) Justices Tom, Moskovitz, Richter, Manzanet-Daniels, and Clark, found, citing copious case law; a broad issue of law -- who can fairly be called a liar? in what context? what is defamation-in-general? what are the binding precedents? -- is not, it would seem, at stake. So: Jefferys is home safe (let's hope and trust) and Farber has lost and is free to lick her wounds as publicly as she wishes -- apparently, she is a good friend of the New York Post's former Page Six editor, Richard Johnson.

 

The Lunaris Caeruleus Caseus Journal: 1

| No Comments

This is the first of seven sections.

 

If I believe that the moon is literally made out of blue cheese -- it's rather a pleasant thought, actually -- then not only am I free to believe that, but also to talk about it and write about it. And wear a t-shirt that says "THE MOON IS MADE OUT OF BLUE CHEESE." As long as I am not a public nuisance or a danger to myself or others, I have the right, guaranteed by the First Amendment, to express freely my, erm, eccentric views. And that freedom extends to my publishing articles about my beliefs in learned periodicals such as The Lunaris Caeruleus Caseus Journal.

 

But you knew that already. Matters become iffier when personal beliefs impinge, or have a significant impact, upon the lives of others; and that's when lawyers and legislatures enter the picture. Creationists can build and have built a museum in which Adam and Eve are shown cavorting with dinosaurs. (In Petersburg, Kentucky; general admission tickets for adults priced at $29.95.) The Westboro Baptist Church can and does picket military funerals with signs saying "GOD HATES FAGS." (The Supreme Court reaffirmed this right in Synder v. Phelps, 2 March 2011, by a vote of 8-1.) And AIDS-denialists -- people who deny the existence of HIV and ergo AIDS altogether, or those who deny any causal connection between HIV and AIDS -- can and do promote their views in print, in visual media, and on the Internet.

 

But then I'm free, am I not, to fight for evolution to be taught as scientific truth in schools, and not as just one among many equally valid points of view? I am free, also, to agree with the Southern Poverty Law Center when it calls the Westboro Baptist Church a hate group, correct? Yes and yes. And, with the weight of overwhelming scientific evidence on my side which says that X is wrong, along with the exposure that X manipulated data, misquoted and misrepresented the words of others, and aired outright fabrications as the truth -- I have the right, surely, to call X, who is a liar, a "liar," yes? Apparently not -- X can then sue me for libel.

 

Celia Farber is a prominent AIDS-denialist. (There are several other "prominent" ones who could be named -- but why list them here? Or their websites? The recitation of their names and web-caverns would only serve to conjure up a stench of fecal fermentation. Cheap scatological insult? Yes.) The ethics of whether or not a highly-regarded magazine or peer-reviewed journal should publish the work of dangerous quacks is admittedly a difficult one. The journalistic duty not to censor unpopular views is at least an argument worthy of consideration; the ritual genuflection about providing "balance" is mere sophistry -- let the blue-cheese-moon believers have an Op-Ed platform in The New York Times then. At any rate: I was amazed to learn, while looking a few things up for this post, that the enormously prestigious journal, Science, had published a letter in 1995, signed by a dozen "We object" skeptics, including Farber, who represented the "Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis." I knew about the long article Farber wrote for Harper's in 2006 -- a piece so full of holes, so replete with factual errors and logical fallacies, that it could, and was, torn apart by a single tug.  

 

Richard Jefferys works at the Treatment Action Group (TAG) as Coordinator for the "Basic Science, Vaccines, and Prevention Project." He's been involved in the HIV/AIDS research and activism field or fields since at least 1993. On 25 April 2008, Jefferys read an article in the New York Post about a certain Semmelweis Society -- a group which assists those in the healthcare professions who have had their licenses revoked or been otherwise censured or impugned because they have, putatively, been "falsely accused of misconduct... based upon false allegations." It claims to provide justice for those who are punished simply because they dissent from mainstream scientific opinion/propaganda. This Society planned to give Farber, and fellow denialist Peter Duesberg, their "Clean Hands Awards" at a series of events in D.C. called "Whistleblower Week in Washington." The Semmelweis Society was one of the three sponsors of this conference.

 

It's one thing for an obscure group to hand out sham certificates and tinfoil medals to liars, fools, blue-cheese-moon believers; it's entirely another for that group (and its honorees) to receive extensive press coverage, and to claim (falsely) that Farber and Duesberg were going to "address Congress." This, in his own words, is what ensued (so to speak) after Jefferys read the Post article: "I sent emails to a few people and the US-based listserv for discussing Federal AIDS Policy, highlighting this concern about Farber and Duesberg's involvement. I also sent a short comment via a feedback form on the Whistleblower Conference website, and it was this message -- which stated my belief that Farber and Duesberg are liars and frauds and also noted that they alter and misrepresent quotes from the scientific literature -- that Farber obtained and filed suit over."

At the Sundance Film Festival last year, one documentary garnered particular praise and attention: the Oscar-nominated How to Survive a Plague. And let's hope that on the 24th of February, it's David France and Howard Gertler - along with a host of others: the cast who "play" themselves - who get on the stage at the Dolby Theatre to accept those universally-recognized golden statuettes.

 

I don't study the splendid shenanigans of Sundance any more; no longer an earnest young cinephile. So it was a surprise to come across news and reviews of another "break-out" (why use a different adjective, journalists,  when the Dictionary of Clichés is always handy?) documentary about HIV/AIDS at this year's festival: Dylan Mohan Gray's directorial debut, Fire in the Blood.

 

From the film's Facebook (and IMDb) page:

 

"An intricate tale of 'medicine, monopoly and malice,' Fire in the Blood tells the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governments blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs for the countries of the global south in the years after 1996 -- causing ten million or more unnecessary deaths -- and the improbable group of people who decided to fight back.

 

"Shot on four continents and including contributions from global figures such as Bill Clinton, Desmond Tutu and Joseph Stiglitz, Fire in the Blood is the never-before-told true story of the remarkable coalition which came together to stop 'the crime of the century' and save millions of lives in the process."

 

Genocidal indifference: vastnesses of suffering, a fragile half-century of progress shattered in whole countries, a trail of death that requires seven zeroes after the number 1 to be even approximately mapped, enumerated - that's "the crime of the century" being chronicled here. Fiery stuff indeed.

 

I haven't seen the film, so I can't comment on its cinematic power, its technical prowess, its structure, and so on. Those who have seen the documentary, however, give it very high marks. (A sampling of reviews and quotes, below.) And many have commented that Fire in the Blood is a "global sequel" to How to Survive a Plague.

 

*        *        *

 

Check out the movie's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/fireintheblood) for news of screenings, more assessments, comments and conversations, and videos (interviews, the trailer). But here are a few other sites you might want to visit; I've extracted a few passages from them, to provide a sample of what it is that this documentary documents.

 

(1) www.pbs.org/pov/blog/docsoup/2013/01/fire-in-the-blood-a-must-see-film-at-sundance/#.URVr1vJ7xmg

 

"And the one film that I'd put to the top of your must-see list is Fire in the Blood. This World category entry, directed by Dylan Mohan Gray, who's based in Mumbai, is about how Western pharmaceutical companies block access to cheaper medicines in developing nations, in turn denying people access to AIDS-combatting drugs. Gray speaks to survivors, doctors, and activists. He lays it all out...

 

"This may be a must-see film but don't think of it as spinach. (Or, if it is, it's as if it were prepared by Alain Ducasse.) Gray crosses the planet and manages to set up a lot of breath-taking wide shots of faraway places that make this a beautiful film to watch. And he talks to people who give great interviews, including Bill Clinton and several mavericks who've led the fight against the pharmaceutical companies.

 

"Really, Fire in the Blood should be considered a companion film to David France's much-championed Oscar-nominated film, How to Survive a Plague, about the AIDS activist movement of the 1980s and 1990s. That was history. But the plague continues in the rest of the world." (Tom Roston)

 

(2) www.variety.com/review/VE1117949149/

 

"While How to Survive a Plague and We Were Here have commendably essayed the U.S. end of the AIDS crisis, the devastation the disease has wrought in the developing world is a topic that has long merited a documentary of equivalent substance. Enter Fire in the Blood, a basically constructed but rivetingly researched examination of the global fight for affordable antiretroviral therapy against Western pharmaceutical companies, whose restrictive patent laws amount to a death sentence for millions of Third World HIV/AIDS patients. Impassioned, persuasive film won't have trouble spreading its essential message across the fest circuit and beyond."

 

"[A]fter a mid-2000s breakthrough that led to a 1,000% increase in African patients receiving treatment by 2012, the door looks ominously likely to close again at the behest of the World Trade Organization." (Guy Lodge)

 

(3) www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/fire-blood-sundance-review-413424

 

"Picking up more or less where [HTSAP] left off, Fire in the Blood is in a sense a global sequel, showing how AIDS activist groups [a provocative claim about activists in the affluent "global north" - JV] and government bodies turned their backs on the plight of Africa, a continent that by 2000 had more than two-thirds of the world's cases of HIV infection.

 

"Given the prohibitive pricing of branded drugs and the trade restrictions that kept cheaper generic alternatives out of reach, Africa had minimal access to lifesaving medications for years after they became available. According to one statistic cited by George W. Bush in his 2003 State of the Union address, out of 30 million Africans with HIV, only 50,000 were receiving treatment.

 

"The explanation for how that genocide of indifference was allowed to continue for so long and now risks a recurrence after some years of reprieve is simple. It boils down to blatant manipulation by the pharmaceutical giants. The most profitable industry on the planet strictly interprets the word 'patent' to mean 'monopoly.'

 

"Just as France's film identified heroes within the movement, so too does Gray focus on a handful of individuals who made a difference. Among them are James P. Love, an American intellectual property activist; Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, head of the largest HIV treatment and research center in Uganda; Zackie Achmat, a South African AIDS activist; and Yusuf Hamied, the Indian scientist behind the socially conscious pharmaceutical manufacturer Cipla."

 

"Gray's central narrative outlines the plan spearheaded by Hamied to slash the cost of generic antiretrovirals for poor countries, and provide their governments with the know-how and technology to manufacture their own drugs. When that offer found no takers at the European Commission in Brussels, Hamied and his colleagues then returned with a second proposal that eliminated all overheads, charging only for the ingredients. That step made sense purely on a humanitarian level, not an economic one.

 

"The wall of willful ignorance put up against this strategy by the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and by U.S. and European governments in the stranglehold of the pharmaceutical lobby is expertly outlined. But mounting political and public pressure ultimately broke the blockade.

 

"The film is extremely moving as it illustrates the overwhelmingly positive impact of affordable ARVs in African countries. But that uplifting chapter ends abruptly. While Big Pharma conceded the battle, the industry won the war by enlisting the World Trade Organization as its global bully to protect future profits." (David Rooney)

 

*        *        *

 

And so the battles and the wars continue, on many fronts. And stories, an infinitude, continue to be told. And, sometimes, movies get made that chronicle the victories and defeats, movies that look into abysses and stare, as well, at the empyrean;  movies which become part of the chronicle itself. Let's hope many of us get to see this one.

 

JV

 

20 January 2013, late afternoon

| 2 Comments

Got on the 9 o'clock bus at Alewife in Cambridge. Decent Wi-Fi. Read the newspaper. Reached the Penn Station area by 1:15 or so. Grabbed some food (foot-long Veggie Delite) at Subway; yep I'm a culinary connoisseur alright.

 

Then headed to the Penn Station toilet, the handicapped stall. Changed from my jeans and t-shirt/sweater into my suit. An excruciating (but, in retrospect, also comical experience). Walked briskly to The Cutting Room on East 32nd Street, near 6th Avenue. By 2:45 the room was already packed, background music playing. The occasion: A Memorial Service for Spencer Cox, and a Celebration of his Life. Spencer died of AIDS on 18 December 2012. He was 44.

 

The program was a "Playbill" -- Spencer, I'm told, would have loved that. One sheet, recto-verso, recto-verso, a play on words I hope I'll be pardoned for

 

I didn't know Spencer, though I certainly knew of him; we also had many friends in common. I didn't have to travel to NYC to be at the service in person, since a video of the whole thing was being made and will soon be made available on the Interwebz. But I knew, just knew, that I did, in fact, want to be there, in that Cutting Room; my cluttered mind thought of the three Fates, and of Atropos in particular, who cuts the thread of life.

 

I had seen the superb Oscar-nominated documentary How To Survive A Plague twice. I had also read many obituaries. (The one by John Voelcker  -- Huffington Post -- was one that I admired for its insightfulness, its focus on certain often-overlooked concerns, and also for its being the product of Voelcker's long friendship with Spencer.) No doubt there will be more obituaries, appreciations, tributes, reminiscences. I am simply recounting, very selectively and briefly, some of my impressions of two hours on a Sunday afternoon.

 

Klutz that I am, I tripped on some of the folding chairs. I had no idea where to dump my coat, small bag, and suit-zippy-thingy. But once the presenters started, I listened to every word and saw every image. Gripping eulogies -- friends from Benninton, brothers-in arms and also Spencer's brother, a former lover. Video tributes (Dr. Anthony Fauci and Larry Kramer being the two most famous names, I suppose). Musical performances. Photographs and movie clips (Bette Davis, Liza Minelli, pics from childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, friends, beefy Chelsea guy, leather gear, pic or two of a tired and older-seeming face, a face that was partly the result of an off-on addiction to crystal meth, an addiction not glossed over in the memorial). I didn't sit in one place; every 20 minutes or so I wandered round the large room to look at not only the stage from different angles -- how theatrical! -- but also at the "audience," laughing and crying, whispering to each other, holding hands.

 

I bawled when Spencer's mother spoke, for a few minutes only. (She wasn't on the program actually.) What a model of unproud grief and unqualified dignity!

 

Two hours. I'm not reviewing this event as a film. (But Spencer perhaps might have liked me to?) He hated sentimentality, I was told; but of course he was a sucker of a sentimentalist -- I could be wrong, but my intuition about that is strong. Two nearly flawless hours of tribute -- but not of hagiographical sanctification. A few false notes, a few unnecessary bon mots, but these are trivialities; and considering that the organizers -- opinionated all, I have no doubt, "early ACT UP" as Peter Staley said -- managed to pull off this "extravaganza" in a month -- they were on the phone just one hour after Spencer's death -- is humbling, satisfying, exalting.

 

Belatedly, on the bus ride back to Boston, I thought of some lines (thank you iPad) from two of James Merrill's most hauntingly beautiful poems, the closing lines of both in fact, "Days of 1964" and "Days of 1994."

 

Where I hid my face, your touch, quick, merciful,
Blindfolded me. A god breathed from my lips.
If that was illusion, I wanted it to last long;
To dwell, for its daily pittance, with us there,
Cleaning and watering, sighing with love or pain.
I hoped it would climb when it needed to the heights
Even of degradation, as I for one
Seemed, those days, to be always climbing
Into a world of wild
Flowers, feasting, tears -- or was I falling, legs
Buckling, heights, depths,
Into a pool of each night's rain?
But you were everywhere beside me, masked,
As who was not, in laughter, pain, and love.

 

                        *

 

Not dead, O never dead!
To wake, to wake
Among the flaming dowels of a tomb
Below the world, the thousand things
Here risen to if not above
Before day ends:
The spectacles, the book,
Forgetful lover and forgotten love,
Cobweb hung with trophy wings,
The fading trumpet of a car,
The knowing glance from star to star,
The laughter of old friends.

 

And on that bus I cried again. Bitterly cold night , welcomingly warm home. "Barcarolle whose chords of gloom / Draw forth the youngest, purest, faithfullest..." I won't regret that I spent a few hours in New York on the 20th of January. In Memoriam. Patrick Spencer Cox. 1968-2012.

 

Second Start, Ten Reasons, Five Significant Facts

| 5 Comments

Prologue as well as Special Pleading: please don't be put off by the relative length (about 2,200 words) of this piece! I spent a fair amount of time on it, and I'd like you, Gentle Reader, to do me a favor and read this through. My future posts will almost invariably be more specific and much shorter.

 

*        *        *

 

Hulloos again. I've been on a hiatus from this blog for a while. Quite a long while, nearly two years. (My last post, on 2 February 2011, was titled "Alphabeticalist 2.1.") I'd like to think of this, this return, as a second start. I hope that everyone is over being hung-over, after celebrating the first few hours of 2013 (or saying "Good riddance!" to 2012 in that year's final hours). I hope, too, that the list-making and resolution-forming phase, a ritual many of us perform in the early days of every January, is over too. I just finalized my list tonight. On Saturday, a little before midnight. One of those resolutions, you will be right in supposing, is to have a livelier (or at least not comatose) social life this year. To plagiarize a little from my favorite poet, Philip Larkin: Last year is dead: Begin afresh, afresh, afresh. At any rate--Happy New Year, y'all!

 

I'll be writing about "stuff" again of course -- that is, whatever's on my mind, as long it has, most of the time, some relation, however tangential or penumbral, to the overarching "theme and variations" of HIV/AIDS. "Tangential, "some relation," "most of the time" -- I do not mean, by using these qualifiers, that I'll be writing about literally anything at all: the Duchess of Cambridge's morning sickness, a maddeningly overpriced book, or developments in patristic scholarship...

 

But hey, wait a minute. I might write about patristics--the study of the early Fathers of the Church, some who wrote in Greek and some in Latin, all men, most of whom have been dead for a millennium or much longer--since there could be "tangential" (perhaps revelatory?) connections between our concerns today and those old moral and  theological preoccupations. For instance: what role does society in general, and the government in particular, have in caring for the sick and the poor? Does the nature of the sickness matter? Or how it is acquired? Is compassion a moral imperative--and if so, why? How can discrimination (against prostitutes and lepers, let's say) ever be justified? What about practical, therapeutic actions--tested ones, before the scientific method was articulated? Should quacks, peddling salvation and "cures," be allowed to do their peddling (the First Amendment was ratified only in 1791)? What about end-of-life care? Ambrose, Aquinas, Augustine, Gregory, Jerome, Irenaeus--all of them, and scores of others, were deeply concerned with all these questions. So: some tangents might not be irrelevant after all--or at all.

 

I suppose what I'm saying is: allow me some latitude. I should add that I do not plan on posting many longish essays such as this in the future. Shorter pieces, mostly: better for me (I think) and better for you (I hope).





Archives

 

Blog Roll

Subscribe to Blog

Recent Comments

  • George M. Carter: First, the HIV pandemic is NOT over in the United read more
  • Javier: I have studied Spencer Cox at university and I find read more
  • Simon Vallance: I live in the UK and had heard of Spencer read more
  • Calvin: Welcome back to the scene..it's nice to have you back read more
  • Anonymous: Click on his name at the top to find his read more
  • Marshall: PLEASE tell me I am missing the link/info somewhere and read more
  • Sudha Lakshmi: Excellent stuff! Really looking forward to what you might write read more
  • John Treat: Welcome back, Jay. read more
  • Jay Singh: Hi Jay, Your blog is really interesting. For the first read more
  • aryan: hey jay, so which part of india are u from? read more

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed by the bloggers and by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong and/or its employees.

Smart + Strong is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information contained in the blogs or within any comments posted to the blogs.



© 2014 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy