The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, December 27, 2003


Colby Cosh smacks New York Governor Pataki around for his "pardon" of Lenny Bruce:


I feel all the more like I must have dreamed that news story. What on earth was the point of "pardoning" a man whose entire creative corpus has been effectively proscribed? If someone tried to do one of Lenny's routines on a New York stage tonight, that asshole Pataki would be at the front of the torch-bearing mob chasing the unwise fellow headlong through the streets.


The posthumous "pardon" is a modern inanity. A person from a more humble age might contemplate our present-day freedom of speech, and feel quietly grateful. The contemporary man comes to the realization that advancements today mean superiority over denizens of the past, that said past individuals are not around to defend themselves, and finally that time spent apologizing for wrongs done by dead person A to dead person B is time that need not be spent apologizing for recent wrongs done to living persons.

Furthermore a posthumous apology can backfire. The Vatican recently made a ridiculous "apology" to Galileo for persecution of his heliocentric theory back in the 17th century. Did this make the world respect the Vatican's tolerance and humility? Of course not; it merely caused some nasty chuckles about how the pope really was infallible, but you had to wait 370 years for the right answer. Then followed by a rush to find other individuals still under a Catholic blacklist. The speculation can easily be imagined: "Maybe in the year 2330, Catholics will be allowed to use the birth control pill!"


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