Another week of just-short-of-armed-warfare in "The Fray." And the winners are ...
Testifying to just how moribund the debate over Kenneth Starr's investigation has become, the regular combatants in things political shuffled back to the "Politics '98" thread and ... welfare reform. One fraygrant's observation that "welfare folks receive a constellation of benefits" was torn limb from limb--after the gales of laughter subsided, that is. The Internal Revenue Service's doings provoked some debate and soon disintegrated into personal attacks among the fraygrants.
The "Religion" thread showcased the international flavor of the Fray this week. A missionary in Africa and a fraygrant from India argued about the effects of missionary activity. And a participant from the Far East weighed in on Confucianism: Was it really a religion, or was Confucius simply to Chinese morality what Plato was to Greek philosophy? The most interesting post of the week, however, emerged in a of the Crusades that took on a little-known tribe called the Cathars and their 13th century Inquisition.
What is the key to a lasting marriage? Some choices proffered in the new "Marriage and Family" thread: friendship, mutual respect, honesty, humor, and variety. Where does this leave sex and children? One long-married fraygrant says, "We are still in love, still fuck our brains out on a fairly frequent basis." Another's "basic point": "I don't think it's realistic to expect most relationships to be sexually monogamous and to last a lifetime." A third offered a reason why people stay together: "Isn't it possible that a lot of long-lasting marriages are long-lasting because of inertia created by the absence of alternatives to that arrangement?" Most contributors agree that sex and children are desirable but not necessary within the relationship; all agreed children should be the primary consideration in cases of divorce.
Privacy was the topic this week in "Law and Order." Contributors--several of them lawyers--discussed an employer's right to drug test employees and the government's right to monitor our lives. One particularly invoked George Orwell's 1984. Other issues: child porn on the Net, on-the-scene news on television, and whether parents who leave children to suffocate in a hot car should be charged with manslaughter.
William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury remains the focus in the "Reading" thread. This week's subject: the second of the book's four chapters, which is written from the viewpoint of Quentin, a tormented Harvard student who eventually kills himself. This week's burning questions: Was Quentin a classic suicide? Who was the father of Caddy's baby? Next week the Fray will take on the "Jason" chapter. Jump in, and examine the mind of a misanthrope.
The "Person of the Century" thread hosted a humorous and articulate exchange on the importance of M.K. Gandhi. Was he a "sheeted ascetic & do-gooder" or a "major influence" on mass movements everywhere? In addition to this series of posts ('s a sample), the thread also saw a spirited defense of Simone de Beauvoir ("the Man of the Century is a woman") and Walt Disney (nominated in the culture section of the ballot). Computer pioneers John Von Neumann and Alan Turing were also mentioned--big surprise that their names should crop up in an Internet forum. First-round voting closes today, May 6, and Slate subscribers should vote while they can.
Post of the Week
An interesting exchange in the new "Marriage and Family" thread on what a marriage is all about inspired one veteran fraygrant to his thoughts on some of the unexpected benefits of marriage.