Subject: Mind My Dust
Re: "Jurisprudence: Habeas Corpses"
From: The Bell
Date: FriMar 15 11:29 a.m. PT
The state—acting as the agent for the whole of society—deserves the final word on the disposal of any corpse because, in the end, it will inherit the ultimate stewardship that temporarily passed at the time of death to the next of kin. … That which is essential and eternal is already supposed to have moved on—ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Who owns the dust? Who owns the grass? ... Whatever happens to me after my death remains the ultimate mystery. However, I retain at least one sense of immortality in knowing that, given the constancy of human bureaucracy, someday in the future the state will be erecting signs somewhere admonishing the living not to walk on my hair.
Subject: Big Con
Re: "Press Box: Who Duped Slate?"
From: James J. Cramer, director and co-founder, TheStreet.com
Date: Wed Mar 13 11:26 a.m. PT
Congratulations to Jack Shafer for being persistent enough to try to bring "Robert Klinger" to press justice. Ravi Desai, the alleged perpetrator, relies on elaborate ruses, snottiness, outrage, and cunning to game the system in a way that would have made him a shrewd executive assistant to Ken Lay or Jeff Skilling. It is a shame: If the alleged perpetrator were to work for the CIA, his fantastic charades and ruses might be put to excellent use. The man has distinctly missed his calling. I await for him to resurface as someone else shortly. My hope is that when he does, Jack's work will, at last, stop the endless game of impersonation.
Subject: Shared Interests
Re: "Foreigners: Did 9/11 Snuff the European Left?"
From: Joseph Britt
Date: Tue Mar 19 10:13 a.m. PT
Many Americans get way too excited about anti-American pieces that appear in British and European newspapers and miss this crucial point. Europe is not the Muslim world; voters there do not reflexively blame their countries' problems and failings on the United States, and sooner or later will hold their governing class accountable for how effectively it promotes their interests in security and economic growth. Those interests are entirely compatible with ours, which means that official anti-Americanism in Europe is neither sensible nor sustainable.
Subject: The Impossible Issue
Re: "Chatterbox: Slavery Reparations—Con or Meme?"
Date: Wed Mar 13 10:21 p.m. PT
The reason the administration isn't correcting the public's misapprehension about slavery reparations is because, if it went public on this issue, the national political debate would suddenly include … slavery reparations! This is an issue that Bush quite simply can't win. He certainly can't come out for them, and if he comes out against them, what can he possibly say that won't make him look mocking, unsympathetic, petty, or all three at once?
Fray of the week was on the "Jurisprudence" on the rights of dead bodies: the usual mixture of well-argued replies and good jokes, plus a post with the splendid title "I expect uncontrollable sobbing" and History Guy's discursions on how the amendments to the Constitution affect corpses. Check out the Fray Notes at the end of the article.
There were also some excellent posts to Dahlia Lithwick's other recent article, "When Parents Kill," on the Andrea Yates case. Motives, our view of families, and the possible culpability of Yates' husband, were all discussed at length.
The Fray has its say: "Culturebox" contributor Tim Carvell debated the Peter Pan story with star poster Ghost of a-z, taking the initial mention in his article on Steven Spielberg much further. And Timothy Noah graciously accepted a correction from a Frayster—see the note at the end of this "Chatterbox" on Doris Kearns Goodwin.
The Fray has its say 2: LM made a terrific post to "Dear Prudence" celebrating the styles of different regular posters. D.I.D. identified the most misused words in the Chatterbox Fray: "ignorance," "racist," and "mean-Spirited." And a star poster (using the—possibly false—name Etiquette Edith) pointed out that Fray team's instructions to posters include " 'Follow the rules!'—not 'holler at fools!' "