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The Daily Journal: Tuesday, February 20, 2007

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Homage to Eve Ensler
Bush’s Vaginal Inaugural

The Scrotum in Chief, January 20, 2005

Inspired by a comment by Linda and the recent hoohah over the words “vagina” and “scrotum” in our land of the freaked and home of the brained, I thought I’d revisit President Bush’s second Inaugural address, when he made the case for crushing tyrannies and spreading freedom everywhere—with a couple of changes. I substituted the words “freedom” or “liberty” with the word “vagina,” and tyranny-related words with the word “scrotum.” I also amended references to America or the United States accordingly and consistently, and edited the address for its more boring parts. The original is here. The version Eve Ensler would appreciate, and that I think would resonate better with the Founders and jilted lovers of America everywhere, is below. It's sophomoric as hell, but then this administration has been a lot worse than sophomoric, and lethally so. Enjoy.—Pierre

Vice President Scrotum, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Vagina, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens: At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America’s hard-on defended our own vaginas by standing watch on distant borders. We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and scrotums - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of scrotums, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human vaginas. We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of vaginas in our land increasingly depends on the success of vaginas in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of vaginas in all the world. So it is the policy of the United States of Hard-on to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending scrotums in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Vaginas, by their nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. America’s hard-on will not impose our own style of vaginas on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own vaginas, and make their own way. The great objective of ending scrotums is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. Hard-on's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, Hard-on's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in vaginas' cause.

My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test Hard-on's resolve, and have found it firm. We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and vaginas, which is eternally right. We will encourage reform in other vaginas by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. Hard-on's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of scrotums; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without vaginas, and there can be no human rights without human vaginas. Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of vaginas - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of vaginas ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. American hard-ons, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of vaginas comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent scrotums because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Vaginas will come to those who love them.

Today, America's hard-on speaks anew to the peoples of the world: All who live in scrotums and hopelessness can know: the United States of Hard-on will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. Read the rest...

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Vagicil Secretions
The Hoohah Monologues

Funnier than bans

Random House’s web site includes “reading guides” with some of the books it publicizes. One of the guide questions about Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” reads: “In her introduction to ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ Eve Ensler writes ‘Vagina. There, I’ve said it. Vagina - said it again.’ The word ‘vagina’ is used more than 100 times in ‘The Vagina Monologues.’ How comfortable do you feel saying the word? Would you be willing to have ‘a vagina interview?’ Do you think most women are comfortable talking about their vaginas?”

Don’t ask, if you happen to be driving by the theater in Atlantic Beach, Florida, not far from Jacksonville, where the monologues were to be staged earlier this month. The marquee had “Vagina Monologues” displayed as prominently as any other production. Then a driver went by. She was offended by the word. There. Being displayed. Vagina. Or rather, she was offended that her niece riding with her saw it. The complainer complained to the performing house’s management. The complainer proved not nearly as pinheaded as the management. The word vagina was changed to the word Hoohah on the marquee. I hoohah you not. Hoohah. I went through the index of H.L. Mencken’s “The American Language,” including the supplements. Hoops. Hoover. Hooroosh. Hoople. Hooker. Hooverize. Hoodoo. Even Hooter. But no hoohah.

In fairness to the management, the place is a comedy club, and it made the change as much for fun as for effect, and publicity. It may well enter the lore of the Vagina Monologues. But “parents” applauded the change, according to the television station that reported the—can we say flap, considering the subject matter? It’s all just another day for the Vagina Monologues. At West Chester University in Pennsylvania on February 13, members of the university’s Women’s Center discovered their sponsored sign advertising for the upcoming performance of the Monologues defiled: the word “vagina” had been cut out of a bright pink banner displayed on the right hand side of the student union. In Providence, Rhode Island, Providence College students will be staging the monologues off campus for the second year in a row because Providence College president Brian Shanley, a Reverend no less, banned the play on campus. “My views about it have changed a little bit, based on what I’ve read and seen,” he tells the Providence Journal. “There are some very powerful narratives in it. It makes you want to cry. If the play were all about violence against women, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it at all.” He considers Ensler’s take on sexuality “not consistent with the mission of a Catholic college,” which prompts one to want to say something about scatology and Sherlocks, but why bother: Catholicism has long been the Lost Cause of the North.

At Boise State University a student writing a column for the student paper was all shriveled up over the fact that at one point in the monologues, a twenty-four year old seduces a thirteen year old and a six year old “describes what her vagina looks like, what it smells like and what it likes to wear.” Jonathon Sawmiller, the incensed writer, calls it all “child pornography.” But as a commenter noted at the bottom of the piece, “It must be difficult to feel left out of the party.” Between the censorious stinks over vaginas and the other ones over scrotum, it’s a wonder we have time left to fight wars on drugs, terror and Arabs. Then again maybe that’s why we’re fighting those wars like our head is stuck in the wrong holes.

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Muslim Societies Radicalized by War on Terror

She wants her MTV—and her Sharia

From the UK Times: “ The War on Terror has radicalised Muslims around the world to unprecedented levels of anti-American feeling, according to the largest survey of Muslims ever to be conducted. Seven per cent believe that the events of 9/11 were “completely justified”. In Saudi Arabia, 79 per cent had an “unfavourable view” of the US. Gallup’s Centre for Muslim Studies in New York carried out surveys of 10,000 Muslims in ten predominantly Muslim countries. One finding was that the wealthier and better-educated the Muslim was, the more likely he was to be radicalised. The surveys were carried out in 2005 and 2006. Along with an earlier Gallup survey in nine other countries in 2001, they represent the views of more than 90 per cent of the world’s Muslims. [...] The findings come in a climate of growing mistrust between Islam and the West. Another recent survey in the US found that 39 per cent of Americans felt some prejudice towards Muslims. The Gallup findings indicate that, in terms of spiritual values and the emphasis on the family and the future, Americans have more in common with Muslims than they do with their Western counterparts in Europe. A large number of Muslims supported the Western ideal of democratic government. Fifty per cent of radicals supported democracy, compared with 35 per cent of moderates. Religion was found to have little to do with radicalisation or antipathy towards Western culture. Muslims were condemnatory of promiscuity and a sense of moral decay. What they admired most was liberty, its democratic system, technology and freedom of speech. [...] This finding indicates the complexity of the struggle ahead for Western understanding. Few Western commentators can see how women could embrace the veil, Sharia and equal rights at the same time.” See the full piece...

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Chinese Torture Goes American
Shooting Pain


William Saletan in Slate: “If you're worried about terrorism, upset about the war in Iraq, and depressed by global chaos, violence, and death, cheer up. We've just invented a weapon that fires a beam of searing pain. Three weeks ago, the U.S. armed forces tested it on volunteers at an Air Force base in Georgia. You can watch the video on a military Web site. Three colonels get zapped, along with an Associated Press reporter. The beam is invisible, but its effects are vivid. Two dozen airmen scatter. The AP guy shrieks and bolts out of the target zone. He says it felt like heat all over his body, as though his jacket were on fire. The feeling is an illusion. No one is harmed. The beam's energy waves penetrate just one-sixty-fourth of an inch into your body, heating your skin like microwaves. They inflame your nerve endings without actually burning you. This could be the future of warfare: less bloodshed, more pain. [...] Unlike projectiles, beams are "directed energy." They travel in a straight line over long distances, ignoring gravity and wind. They cause no more damage at 10 feet than at 1,000. Unlike gas, they're discriminate. Raytheon, the pain beam's manufacturer, points out that the weapon "allows precise targeting of specific individuals" and that the pain "ceases immediately" when the beam is diverted or the target flees. [...] But the ability to inflict pain without injury doesn't just make injury less necessary. It makes pain more essential to military operations—and easier to inflict. To achieve the desired "repel effect," I have to make you suffer. Knowing that your agony will be brief and leave no physical damage makes the weapon easier to fire. It's almost as though, like the imagined flames on the AP reporter's jacket, your pain isn't real. That's the metaphysical gap nonlethal energy weapons exploit. The rain of pain falls mainly in the brain. The long-range acoustic device, for instance, "can target narrow sound beams at excruciating decibel levels, but below the threshold of hearing damage," according to a military account of a presentation by its project manager. Four months ago, Congress passed and President Bush signed legislation to prosecute torture, defined as intentional infliction of "serious physical or mental pain or suffering." But that rule applies only in captivity. On the street, pain administration won't be a crime. It'll be a policy.” See the full piece...

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The Irrepressible Within
Jerome Murat

Don't be misled by the French presenter's very brief introduction. Watch the act. It's a few minutes long. It's rewarding. It's not all about technique. And it's rewarding for lending itself to many, many interpretations. I'd welcome a few here. Thanks to Linda for flagging it.

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