The sins of the father

For some reason, certain asshats find it entertaining to send me links to all sorts of silly things. I’ve gotten to the point where my e-mail automatically deletes anything that links to truthout,, and a couple of other pages. Every now and then something sneaks through, and for some inane reason I occasionally take a glimpse at what these asshats think is entertaining or enlightening.

I wish to hell I had just deleted one of them, though, because it’s got me infuriated.

There are a couple of principles I respect greatly. One of them is an old aphorism: “God gives us our relatives. Thank God we can choose our friends.” The Bible, in Ezekiel 18:20, puts it a bit more formally: “”The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.”

Another is from the United States Constitution, Article III, Section 3:

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

The underlying theme behind all three ideas is simple: you do not blame people for the conduct of their relatives. No one should be given grief because they chose the wrong parents, children, cousins, aunts, or other relations. To do so is wrong, and it is worse when you use those relatives — especially children — to attack your enemies. It is despicable, it is loathsome, it is beneath contempt.

I don’t care who does it, for whatever reason. I was disgusted and repulsed when Rush Limbaugh attacked Chelsea Clinton to get at her parents, and I carried the grudge far longer than the Clintons apparently did. (No, I am NOT interested in re-hashing in exactly what Limbaugh did or did not do. I’ve finally put the matter to rest. I still don’t care for him, but I no longer hold him in the contempt I once did. It’s now just a matter of not caring for his style.) And ever since George W. Bush started running for president, his daughters (and the rest of his rather extensive family) have been fair game. And I find that disgusting.

Among the assholes who push the “chickenhawk” argument, the theme that Bush’s daughters are under some sort of moral obligation to enlist in the service and go fight in Iraq is an all-too-frequent one. The idea seems to be that because they were stupid or careless enough to choose as their father the president of the United States, they have to “pay” for his “misdeeds.” The notion that they can simultaneously love and honor their father while trying to live normal, average lives is repugnant to the assholes, who seem eager to add one or two more names to the list of those who have lost their lives serving our nation — as long as those names match those of the president they hate so.

This whole point was driven forcefully home to me when I saw this video. For those who wish to spare themselves, it’s a screen shot of a Bush family portrait, with the sins, peccadilloes, and mistakes of many of the younger members highlighted. Not one of those young people have run for office, and very few have made themselves any sort of public figure. Their sole claim to fame is that two of their relatives have served as president — but that’s enough for one asshole in particular to make them “public figures” for the purposes of scorn and contempt.

I also find it worthwhile to note what the asshole author does NOT mention. I got tired recently of hearing how the Bush twins were party girls all the time, so I did a little digging into what they are up to now that they’ve graduated college. It turns out that they are, indeed, frittering away their lives. One of them is currently an intern with UNICEF in Panama, while the other is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine’s International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, working in Africa with children.

They just turned 25 a few weeks ago.

That prompted me to think about the last president’s daughter. What’s Chelsea Clinton doing? She’s about 18 months older than the twins — it could be a good touchstone. It turns out that she just left a corporate consulting firm and a six-figure salary to join a hedge-fund managing company. She’s apparently interested — for the time being — in the private sector, in her own personal success and private life.

And good for her.

Now, I haven’t liked the asshole who created the video for some time. This particular tactic of his is nothing new; he embraces attacking his opponents through whatever means he thinks will provoke the most anger. His online persona of “General JC Christian, Patriot” is aimed at mocking and insulting people not for their political positions, but their religious beliefs (among others).

And worst of all, he’s good at it. I’m not even a Christian, and even brief exposures to his page provoke me into anger. I’ve gotten into a few arguments over there, but each time it’s been a demonstration of the old principle: “never get into fights with assholes. They drag you down to their level, then they beat you through superior experience.” There’s no room for debate or discussion; it’s all cheap shots and gratuitous insults and personal attacks, all aimed at heading off sincere discourse.

As I have the last couple of years, I’ve kept my distance from the Weblog Awards. That’s Kevin’s baby, through and through. I’ll vote a few times, but I don’t do much else.

This time, though, I’m making an endorsement. Or, rather, an anti-endorsement. This asshole’s currently running 4th in the Liberal Blogs category. So I’m urging folks to go on over and vote for anyone else, and let’s drive this asshole right into the cellar.

One final thought: it might be entertaining to assemble a portrait of the Kennedy family and do a similar thing, restricted only to those who have held or sought public office.

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