Re: "In every way, [they] seem to live by the saying, keep it light."

1

It's making me imagine vows columns for history's actual greatest monsters. "'When Madina and I met, I wasn't very centered,' Idi now says. 'I spent too much time eating the brains of my enemies and not enough time really understanding myself as a seeker.'"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:13 AM
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Just for you Heebs.


Posted by: The bride described the color of her dress as 'pigeon-blood red' | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:15 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:16 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:16 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:16 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:16 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:17 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:17 AM
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Is it safe?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:17 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:17 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:18 AM
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Get on up!


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:18 AM
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Is it safe?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:18 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:18 AM
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Stay on the scene!


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:19 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:20 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:20 AM
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1: He just needed to transition from his brain-eating life to his balanced life. It takes a long time. It's not easy.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:21 AM
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Bang a gong!


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:21 AM
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True fact: I almost sent the link in the OP to heebie, but then I thought, "Nah, oudemia has surely already seen this and shared it."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:22 AM
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Get it off!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:22 AM
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Pigeon blood machine!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:23 AM
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"In every way, [Ms. New Booty] seems to live by the saying, get it right, get it right get it tight. Get it right, get it right get it tight.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:24 AM
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Phew.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:24 AM
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"


Posted by: Pigeon-blood red | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:25 AM
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Heebie, that was the best fourmication paresthesia liveblogging I've ever seen. Well done.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:26 AM
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Holy shit. The bride ran over a 5 year old with her car and killed her:

""I got out of the car and this really beautiful little girl with pale skin and blue eyes was laying in the road. Her eyes were glazed over. I knew the spirit had left her body."

Today, she says the accident taught her about fate, her own and the girl's, but at the time she was devastated."


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:27 AM
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18: it's so hard to focus on parts other than the HOLY FUCK YOU ARE HORRIBLE part, but yeah, that was amazing. It was such a challenge to stop having fun and partying all the time and move to doing yoga and meditating all the time! YOU HAVE ACHIEVED MUCH, GREAT SPIRIT.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:32 AM
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Hey, Heebie got me off.


Posted by: The bride described the color of her dress as 'pigeon-blood red' | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:33 AM
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Speaking of stomach-turning, did Bill Clinton just reference two-girls-one-cup, or is that my brain being horrible?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:37 AM
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Once is funny, twice is a pain.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:38 AM
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I guess I can rely on all the interesting Gawker content showing up here a couple days later via oudemia.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:40 AM
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I just read the column, and, wow. The strangest thing for me was the studiedly neutral tone. Surely, the reporter thinks the woman is a monster? Surely?


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:40 AM
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18, 28: that was my favorite part. I mean, I sympathize! But jesus.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:41 AM
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33: I sort of get the sense that yes, the reporter was definitely trying to portray them that way. But that raises the question of why on earth you're trying to do balanced journalism that makes it clear that your subjects are actually monsters in a wedding column in the style section?!? Maybe just... don't write about monsters?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:42 AM
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35: wouldn't you get bored writing anodyne wedding columns? If I had that job I'd rather be writing ones like this.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:45 AM
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37

I really wonder how the part where the bride killed a kid came up in the interview. She views it as part of their "how we met" story?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:47 AM
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I don't want to be drearily earnest, but can you imagine what it was like for the parents to read this column? My God.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 8:48 AM
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I can actually understand feeling like it was wrong to omit the accident altogether. It's just that the treatment of it is so gruesomely light.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:04 AM
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The strangest thing for me was the studiedly neutral tone. Surely, the reporter thinks the woman is a monster? Surely?

If it were a purely ad-supported publication, the obvious conclusion would be that the "Vows" editors had perfected a recipe for plausibly deniable link-trolling (hateworthy subject, ambiguous authorial stance). But since the NYT is kinda-sorta paywalled, that explanation isn't fully convincing. The next most plausible explanation is that the Vows editors have come to hate their jobs and are going out of their way to subvert the whole enterprise.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:07 AM
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37: It's pretty plain that the bride views running over the little girl as the start of the life journey that led to her wedding.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:09 AM
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Clearly, she wanted to share with everyone how, brief as it was, that little girl's life was not without purpose.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:09 AM
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Or, what oudemia said.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:10 AM
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43 -- yours was better!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:11 AM
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Further to 40, the column could be aping the New Yorker practice of bending over backwards to be fair to the subjects of its profiles, which has the paradoxical effect of making you hate the monsters thereby profiled even more ("Under the most charitable possible reading of the facts, this guy is still a monster") while not foreclosing the future market for New Yorker profiles (monster's publicist: "Hey, it's the New Yorker. We need to get your side of the story out, and at least with Jill LePore / John McPhee / Larissa McFarquhar we can be sure it won't be a hatchet job.")


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:12 AM
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oudemia's thread at the other place is, so far, more interesting than this thread. Shame on us!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:13 AM
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Apparently the term "pigeon's blood red" originates in Burma as a description of the color of the best rubies.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:16 AM
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There was some mocking involved by the writer:
"said Mr. De Rosa, who is so knowledgeable about food he can tell you what to eat to feel more grounded, to get over a broken heart or to sleep better."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:29 AM
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I do, a little bit, wonder how much the couple are monsters, and how much the writer is being a bastard. I don't actually know to what extent the couple gets to read and approve the piece before publication, but it seems likely that they don't have a lot of control. And at that point, it seems completely plausible that the accident would have come up in a long interview, but that the nauseating tone of the article isn't how the woman was actually talking about it.

I suppose the answer might be that if something like that happened to you, don't let yourself be profiled in a non-tragic context, and that's fair enough -- they should have known not to participate in a Vows profile at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:33 AM
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She's like a real life Yoga Jones! Except that Yoga Jones is likable.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:39 AM
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47. Whereas the term "merde d'oie" originates in England from the colour of goose shit. In France, where they are less concerned with the polite niceties, it is, apparently "caca d'oie".


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:39 AM
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19 was great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:43 AM
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49.2: Yeah, well, bad things happen to good people. Sometimes, you get run over by a car when you're playing with your little red wagon; sometimes, you don't get to have your wedding profiled in the Times.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:45 AM
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That's probably it. It just seems as if a kinder writer could have written it so as not to make it sound like the woman was quite so heartlessly self-obsessed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:51 AM
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49:
I think my views on this article have changed. I now think the writer was the a-hole. The writer hated this couple and presented them in a horrible light.

They were probably annoying and self-centered. But isn't that the case with almost anyone who will be profiled?

This writer could have presented the exact same information in a sympathetic way or in a straight-forward "Look at what a-holes they are" way.

Instead the writer presented them as assholes while providing the paper with some thin cover that they didn't.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:52 AM
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The people are super annoying New Agey types, but assuming the girl's death was not her fault, I don't see why she should remain guilt ridden years later. And it's inevitably going to come up given that she met him when she went to the pseudo Hindu something or other to try and deal with her guilt after the accident.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:56 AM
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Stalked Found their wedding website (nothing too over the top), but someone did put an entry in yesterday that said Let them hate you, it can only make you stronger. So I think the reaction is probably widespread. And I suspect there was a short, pointed discussion between the bride and/or groom, and the writer after it came out.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:57 AM
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Also found a write-up of the accident. Did sound completely unavoidable on the driver's part. According to Sarris [police chief], Halweil slammed on her brakes and swerved into the guardrail in an attempt to avoid the accident, hitting an abutment. The child died in the hospital.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:00 AM
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Well, right. What makes the woman sound like a monster is the emphasis in the story on killing the girl as just a step on her personal journey in a cold-bloodedly self-centered kind of way. And that kind of thing, eh, it could be what the woman's really like, and might have been actually the way she talked about it, but it could just as well have been all coming from the writer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:00 AM
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Others have started to beat me to it, but I instantly wanted to defend this woman: accidentally killing a five-year-old girl, when you are not at all culpable, is also your trauma. You deserve whatever language helps you deal with it. Maybe someone with a ton of foresight would have realized how their out-of-context quote was going to sound in the Times article, but if there's someone primarily at fault for how this will sound to the parents, it's the writer. Further, it's not hard to imagine (though I can't be sure one way or another), that the parents and this woman had extensive communication around the death of that girl, and they are in a better position to contextualize her statements, and understand her larger attitude, than any reader of a Vows profile.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:03 AM
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58.last: That's weird, because the bride says, "I got out of the car and this really beautiful little girl with pale skin and blue eyes was laying in the road. Her eyes were glazed over. I knew the spirit had left her body."
(And you know, once you're giving quotes like that to the Times writer of your wedding announcement, maybe pull the plug.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:12 AM
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Right, isn't that why we're criticizing the column? I'm sure the bride didn't say "Make sure to keep the blood-red motif strong through the whole piece!" The bride and groom are awful for very trivial reasons, and then the incredible tragedy is dropped in like a careless pigeon.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:14 AM
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Oh, I thought we were calling the couple monsters. Sure, the column's a nightmare. The couple might be monsters, but it's hard to tell.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:15 AM
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Well then, good thing that someone else has appeared to present her with a challenge that will enable her to grow and focus. The writer is probably more of a prick than the girl, but you take what fate brings you.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:16 AM
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So, whatever language you need to deal with it is one thing, but using that language in an interview with a reporter for a major national newspaper who is writing a fluffy piece about your wedding, that is a whole different deal.

That said, the thing about her placid, peaceful expression as she talked about it was definitely the reporter throwing them under the wedding trolley.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:22 AM
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The language just doesn't seem offensive to me. What's offensive about it is that it's isolated from any emotional context, so it makes the death seem like an esthetic experience. But the isolation from context is on the writer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:26 AM
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65 is entirely correct.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:28 AM
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Oh, I thought we were calling the couple monsters.

I'm happy to do that, too. It's hard to know whether the journalist was justified in portraying them as such gigantically awful people.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:31 AM
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Maybe she wrongly thought any audience would give her the benefit of the doubt, given that she suffered a horrible trauma and all. She's probably mostly right; most of the audience is not like this one. And as I said, she is in a better position to understand her relationship with the parents than any reader of the column. It's unclear who is harmed by her statements. Some people on the internet think she is unpleasant and are chatting about that; others don't.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:37 AM
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66: what's offensive is having a style section wedding column celebrating you and your marriage where part of the story is that you ran over somebody else's kid. You know what would have been an alternative? Say "no thank you" to the vows column.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:38 AM
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what's offensive is having a style section wedding column celebrating you and your marriage where part of the story is that you ran over somebody else's kid

Would you feel the same way if it wasn't her that ran over the kid, but they met at the funeral? I don't really see the difference from the point of view of the parents. Either way they're reminded of their loss, either way she is not responsible for the death, it's just that it would have had a much greater impact on her.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:47 AM
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either way she is not responsible for the death

What? Of course she is. She wasn't criminally negligent (civilly, who knows) in running her over, but that doesn't mean she didn't kill the kid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:49 AM
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What if they met in the supermarket next to a funeral home? Slippery slope, guys.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:50 AM
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People use "responsible for X" in many ways.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:52 AM
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72: From the description (and of course I only know what I read in the papers, like Will Rogers), it sounds as if she wasn't responsible for it in any meaningful sense. Wagon coming down a steep driveway out in front of her? It's hard to imagine how she could possibly have had time to avoid it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:52 AM
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But she's the one who did it, and is that sense is the responsible party, even if we may not think that any guilt attaches to her.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:54 AM
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OH GOD PHILOSOPHY


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:55 AM
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That's why it would make sense for her to be more shaken up by it than a bystander, or someone who, like us, is just now learning about it. It was her! Even though no responsibility-in-an-inflated-sense is involved.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:56 AM
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70: Or the writer could have had the decency to leave it out.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:56 AM
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I actually don't think it should be omitted. Just treated with appropriate horror and awfulness.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:58 AM
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Or mention it as minimally as possible: "After a tragic incident in which Ms Whatserface, who was determined not to have been at fault, was driving a car that killed a small child, she began taking more yoga classes at Mr Whatsisname's studio."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 10:59 AM
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but that doesn't mean she didn't kill the kid

It does mean she didn't kill the kid, the girl died in an accident in which, according to the accounts linked to here, she bore no more responsibility than if the kid had tripped and slammed her head while playing in front of her house. There's no responsibility here in any meaningful sense of the word. Sometimes horrible accidents happen where nobody is at fault. Demanding those who remained physically unscathed to feel guilty over what happened in such accidents is more than a little fucked up.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:01 AM
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80: Instead of being used to add a little spice to a piece of pure fluff? Yeah, that was kind of a bad decision, to use the story of a child's death, despite all the pain that was likely to cause the child's family, to make someone you don't like look bad. Probably another draft or two would have improved the tone.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:03 AM
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Demanding those who remained physically unscathed to feel guilty over what happened in such accidents is more than a little fucked up.

She's being accused of co-opting the tragedy into a tidy detail about her personal growth. Or the journalist is being accused of portraying the bride as such.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:05 AM
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I agree with LB in 66 and mcmc in 79. The writer dropped it in without any context. That quote could have been from a long conversation, and the writer pulled it out and dropped it in just to be an ass.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:05 AM
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No one's demanding that she feel guilt; they're just suggesting that she should maybe shut the fuck up about how much it contributed to her personal growth when she's being interviewed for a puff piece in the New York fucking Times, ffs.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:06 AM
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Flipflopping here, finding the column offensive isn't exactly about demanding that the woman feel guilty. It's about finding it horrible to use a tragic death as a colorful incident in your meet-cute story. "There I was, on my first day as a substitute teacher at Columbine High, and as my students' brains splattered my shoes, I looked up at the assistant principal and realized he had the bluest eyes I'd ever seen." No responsibility for the murders attaches to my imaginary narrator, but clearly she's doing something very wrong talking like that.

I don't think the woman in this story is clearly doing that sort of thing, but if she's doing anything wrong, that's sort of what it is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:06 AM
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88

49 to 89


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:07 AM
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Can't we just agree that everyone who writes for or appears in the Vows section is a monster?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:07 AM
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Hello. I am Wanda June. Today was going to be my birthday, but I was hit by an ice-cream truck before I could have my party. I am dead now. I am in Heaven. That is why my parents did not pick up the cake at the bakery. I am not mad at the ice-cream truck driver, even though he was drunk when he hit me. It didn't hurt much. It wasn't even as bad as the sting of a bumblebee. I am really happy here! It's so much fun. I am glad the driver was drunk. If he hadn't been, I might not have got to Heaven for years and years and years. I would have had to go to high school first, and then beauty college. I would have had to get married and have babies and everything. Now I can just play and play and play. Any time I want any pink cotton candy I can have some.


Posted by: Kurt Vonnegut on a Bad Day | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:08 AM
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"There I was, on my first day as a substitute teacher at Columbine High, and as my students' brains splattered my shoes, I looked up at the assistant principal and realized he had the bluest eyes I'd ever seen."

That's awesome.

As to the article, if the accident had to be mentioned, obviously "I was pretty shaken up by this terrible thing that happened and started doing yoga as a way to deal with and that's where I met X" would be preferable.

I don't know what the interview process for these kinds of articles is like, but I'm open to the possibility that at some point during extensive conversations the writer lulled this woman into an unguarded mood and then used the resulting material for a hatchet job.

I'm also open to the possibility that the couple are monsters.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:18 AM
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88 But this is not that, it's 'after being splattered with brains at Columbine High I went to thingamajig group to deal with the trauma, and there I met him'. I see her saying that something horrible happened to her, and then in the process of dealing with it she reassessed her life and also met her future husband. What's monstrous or even callous about that?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:20 AM
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93: You're just convincing me that there was absolutely no way to write it up sympathetically.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:23 AM
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I think Lizardbreath's 88 is onto something, but I'd go farther. The genre of the Vows column subordinates all details to the triumphant story of the coming together of a couple. There is simply no way, within that genre, to mention the girl's death without implying that it was somehow all for the good in the end. (The putatively neutral phrasing of 82 implies this just as strongly). So the bride may well have had all those powerful and deeply human emotions Tia attributes to her, but there's no way of telling that story in a Vows column--and any minimally sensitive person would have realized that. Which brings me back to how the bride is a monster.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:26 AM
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I'm unfamiliar with the Vows column. Is it reliably the case that 90% of the readers read it specifically to hate on the featured couple?

If so, I suspect a deliberate hatchet job by the writer.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:31 AM
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Angel of the Way It's Going to Be From Here on Out: "OK, so you folks in section 7a bear no responsibility for the death(s) and/or serious injury(ies) you were involved in. So you're fine, go on about your lives, maybe you can even use it as a personal teaching moment. Whatever floats your boat. But ixnay on making a 'thing' out if it in public or in any other way that could get back to the family. Okay? Got that? So just the one little restriction there, but one we take seriously. Otherwise you're free to go"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:32 AM
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And I can go almost all the way with 95, except with the 'any minimally sensitive person would have realized that'. I think it's a forgivable error from an interview subject who didn't write it up themselves.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:32 AM
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96: Yes, it's exactly that way.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:33 AM
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97: Perhaps this could be printed on cards, to be handed out to people present and innocently involved in tragedies. It's good advice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:34 AM
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Is it reliably the case that 90% of the readers read it specifically to hate on the featured couple?

I'll be more cautious than heebie in 99: one certainly hopes that's the case.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:35 AM
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The telephone rang and rang while he unlocked the door and fumbled for the light switch. He shouldn't have left the hospital, he shouldn't have. "Goddamn it!" he said. He picked up the receiver and said, "I
just walked in the door!"

"There's a cake that wasn't picked up," the voice on the other end of the line said.

"What are you saying?" Howard asked.

"A cake," the voice said. "A two-hundred-dollar cake. It is gluten-free and organic, and modeled after Versailles. Its icing is pigeon-blood red."

Howard held the receiver against his ear, trying to understand. "The cake sounds beautiful," he said. "This will be an important step into the new, adult phase of our lives."
talking about?"


Posted by: VOWS, BY RAYMOND CARVER. | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:38 AM
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102

Oh, goddamn it. Gordon Lish would have fixed that.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:39 AM
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79: I feel like any interaction with the journalist that depends on them having the decency to leave something really noteworthy out of the story is an interaction that is not going to go well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:39 AM
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But it's supposed to be a kindly fluff piece. 104 is totally "You fucked up, you trusted us."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:41 AM
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83: yeah I feel like there are worse things in the world than hoping that people who accidentally kill other people with their cars feel guilty about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:44 AM
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I can easily see these Namaste-pantses naively believing that the reporter will portray them kindly, because of the good vibes, fend-shui, etc. Regardless of the underlying pathology of monsterhood.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:44 AM
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105: don't ever tell a reporter something you don't want so see in print! Especially when they're interviewing you on the record! I mean, that's not like some Machiavellian, paranoid way to approach the world. That's just basic, basic thoughtfulness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:46 AM
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The couple are selfish narcissists, and so is the reporter. Welcome to New York, welcome to America, welcome to the rest of your life!


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:47 AM
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107: probably right. Which makes them a mildly, but not particularly materially, different kind of monster.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:47 AM
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yeah I feel like there are worse things in the world than hoping that people who accidentally kill other people with their cars feel guilty about it.

Sure, you could always take up hoping parents of little kids who died of some horrible disease feel guilty about it.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:50 AM
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105: Based on my friendship with a few reporters I can confidently say that "you fucked up, you trusted us" is the right thing to expect in interacting with them as the subject of a story. A punchy story beats being nice to the subject every time. It's not so much an asshole thing as it is the demands of the trade. A lot of reporters are very conscious of this and not entirely comfortable with it, but leaving out some juicy detail in the interests of not upsetting someone you'll likely never see again is not going to sit well with the editor and is easily enough swept under the rug of conscience. By the broom of necessity, ignoring the dustpan of righteousness.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:50 AM
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111: there is a notable difference between driving a car and being related to somebody with a disease.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:53 AM
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108: But but but but but -- you're conflating "Don't make them aware of facts that you're trying to keep secret" with "If you tell them anything that they could use to write a horrible, tacky story that will hurt people's feelings, it's your fault if they do."

And that seems very different to me. I mean, it's not like Whatserface told the reporter about something wrong she did, and now she's complaining that the reporter publicized it. She told the reporter about something tragic that happened to another person, and far less intensely, to her, and then the reporter wrote it up as if the other person was a meaningless prop. There's an excellent chance that the only wrongdoing was the reporter's.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:53 AM
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Also, analogies are definitely still banned.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:53 AM
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LB, Tia, and mcmc get it right. It's perfectly possible that this person is a moral monster who feels no remorse about a child's death and has suborned it all to a selfish narrative of personal growth. But there's absolutely no way to tell that from reading the article, and the horrible portrayal in the piece is entirely the product of decisions by the column author.

I think a "good" column, even one sympathetic to the woman, is certainly possible. The story could have been pitched as "even those who are involved in an unthinkable, unbearable personal tragedy can still find love use a practice like Yoga to help recover" which is, I think, both true and humane and a story of surviving tragedy that is life-affirming without being ridiculously shallow. It's certainly likely that this is how the couple wanted their story told, and perhaps even what they thought the author was doing.

Instead, the author throws in the story about the kid in a "gotcha" paragraph and writes "Today, she says the accident taught her about fate, her own and the girl's, but at the time she was devastated." That is all on the author.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:54 AM
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114.last: yeah, not buying that at all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:55 AM
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111: there is a notable difference between driving a car and being related to somebody with a disease.

But if all are agreed that you're not at fault in this case, why should you feel guilty? I mean specifically guilty—if you're not at fault?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:55 AM
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By the broom of necessity, ignoring the dustpan of righteousness.

Around the traffic circle of Confusion, across the speed bumps of Friends.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:56 AM
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Absolutely wrecked over what happened, very bad for a long time—it would be inhuman not to feel that way. But guilt?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:56 AM
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I'm on Team Hatchet Job, but also on Team The Couple Probably Sucks on Less Grave Matters, In General.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:57 AM
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I actually said "not criminally negligent", which is a whole different thing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:57 AM
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122: Well, right, if you're actually thinking that the woman really did commit wrongdoing that led to the girl's death -- that she was driving carelessly, or too fast, or whatever -- then this all looks different. I don't know why you'd think that, but it would certainly change things.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:59 AM
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I actually said "not criminally negligent", which is a whole different thing.

Yes, that is a very different thing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:00 PM
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I don't know why you'd think that, but it would certainly change things.

She was driving a car, you know.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:01 PM
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I admit, it sure does sound like -- outside of not driving a car, which, you know, is an option I would like to have more widely available -- it wasn't her fault at all.

Anyhow talking about this is sort of brutally depressing, so I will from here on out restrict myself to agreeing that the reporter was thoughtless at best and a shithead at worst to write the article they did. Actually I guess I will further contend that anybody who says "I want to be in the Vows column!" is a fucking idiot, but I guess shouldn't necessarily feel guilty about that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:02 PM
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I dunno. If I accidentally killed a five year old girl, I think ending up as a slightly annoying yoga practitioner who does some new agey things to help survive and move on with one's life is a pretty good outcome. If I did what she did, I certainly wouldn't be able to bring it all into a narrative of personal growth. Instead, I'd probably kill myself. That doesn't seem like a better outcome.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:04 PM
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Actually, I nearly crapped my pants last week - I was driving on a medium-sized road, and a dog ran out, pulling a kid in a wheelchair. It was not a close call, I had room to brake, but the randomness and luck scared the piss out of me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:06 PM
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If something like that happened to me I would not be a fucking bit interested in talking about it to anybody, let alone a freakin' reporter from a national newspaper.

Something not totally different from this happened to my grandfather, from what I understand. He certainly never talked to me about it. He did become a minister.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:08 PM
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"that" in 129.1 is the incident in the Vows article, not what happened to heebie.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:08 PM
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Something not totally different from this happened to my grandfather, from what I understand. He certainly never talked to me about it. He did become a minister.

"I've got to get into that Vows column, no matter what."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:10 PM
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I would sure as shit want to talk about it to somebody.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:12 PM
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Actually I guess I will further contend that anybody who says "I want to be in the Vows column!" is a fucking idiot

I think we have comity.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:13 PM
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Minister, yoga teacher... o tempora o mores!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:16 PM
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The fervor of my belief was also tempered by the fact that the reporter for Sag Harbor Online managed to make her sound a lot more sympathetic than the Times reporter did, even with the handicap of only describing the immediate facts of the car accident.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:16 PM
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134: exclaimed the classicist upon eating a dinner of eels fried in a Japanese batter.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:21 PM
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So, an elementary school teacher is being prosecuted for homicide involontaire for sending an eleven year old kid out of the classroom for forty-five minutes when he was misbehaving. This is significantly longer than the normal 'timeout' for kids that age in France. The kid hung himself hallway. My instincts say that this is an excessive punishment. Thoughts?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:22 PM
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I don't know anything about the French criminal justice system, but if that's at all comparable to what it would mean to be convicted of pretty much anything here, I'd agree that it seems very strange. The relevant negligence is leaving an eleven-year-old alone for forty-five minutes after yelling at him? That absolutely doesn't seem criminal. Probably illadvised and overly harsh, but nowhere near criminal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:27 PM
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Minister, yoga teacher... o tempora o mores!

"A faithful Christian can no more say they are practicing yoga for Jesus than they can say they are committing adultery for Jesus."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:30 PM
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I try to be a gentle and forgiving soul, remembering that most people, most of the time, are doing their best, but if you are defending this bride, you are wrong. She killed a child and built not only her own wretched trauma-to-self-actualization plotline out of it but threw in an extra just for the victim, who has no one to defend her memory in the Vows column. The least we owe the defenseless and forgotten (except as some [very bad word omitted for reasons of thinking better of my first instinct]'s talismanic formative experience) is not to let the bride's stupid fucking hippie bullshit be the last word on her brief life.

Where is all your appetite for attacking privilege now? What privilege is greater or less deserved than surviving a kid who ran out in the street?

My wrath is bob-esque about this.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:34 PM
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It's very easy to imagine her talking movingly and at length about how horrible and sickening the experience was, and the slow process of getting over it, which the reporter then crammed into "at the time she was devastated" and also minimized by leading off the sentence with how she feels now.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:35 PM
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140 was me. Stupid iPhone.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:35 PM
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What privilege is greater or less deserved than surviving a kid who ran out in the street?

Getting to live a life without having to live through that.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:38 PM
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And in what sense does that woman have the privilege of surviving the kid that you don't?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:39 PM
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143 Afuckingmen to that.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:39 PM
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What privilege is greater or less deserved than surviving a kid who ran out in the street?

So … she doesn't deserve to be alive?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:48 PM
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I don't use the kid as an anecdote about my spiritual growth.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 12:49 PM
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147: No, you just use the kid to argue that this woman deserves to die.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:00 PM
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Very superior of you.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:00 PM
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In fact, it's generally a good thing when we start talking about which ones of us deserve to live more than others, right?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:01 PM
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126: I admit, it sure does sound like -- outside of not driving a car, which, you know, is an option I would like to have more widely available -- it wasn't her fault at all.

There was what looked to be a transcription of a Newsday "local" write-up (but link is dead) in this forum*. The additional details seemed to even further confirm the lack of ability of a driver to avoid tragedy under the circumstances: winding drive, up a slop, obscuring trees. I believe I know almost the precise location on the Montauk Hwy. from the description.

*MyDeathSpace.com! (Actually I believe I've heard of them.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:02 PM
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There's no real evidence, other than speculation about how annoying she must be (as a yoga practitioner? someone who is stupid enough to talk to the New York Times?), that she is guilty of the crime accused in 147. The article quotes her as describing the child's death, and the author of the piece writes "Today, she says the accident taught her about fate, her own and the girl's, but at the time she was devastated" -- almost certainly, as Minivet says, a shorthanding of a much longer conversation. Again, it's not impossible that she's a horrible person, but this article doesn't really give us enough to know, either way.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:04 PM
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I deserve to live most of all.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:15 PM
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All I can say is thank God I do not live in a truly just world.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:18 PM
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Is that a threat? Come at me, bro.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:21 PM
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Is that a threat?
That's a clown question, bro.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:24 PM
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I keep thinking of Bernard Williams's essay "Moral Luck" in this context. If I'm recalling it correctly, he argues that our lives are as much constituted by bad accidents as by good and we need to find a way to think about our relation to, say, the child we inadvertently kill. It's certainly not right to say that the woman is to blame, but it's callow to say that she's not as if that dispatches the question. I can't remember, though, how Williams resolves this. Neb? (I promise to read the next thing you link to!)


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:28 PM
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156: That's a clown question, bro.

Bryce Harper, moral philosopher.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:32 PM
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157: That's odd. I've heard the term 'moral luck' before, although I hadn't read the essay, but I thought it applied to situations where one was faced with a more difficult moral decision than most people have to deal with: an antebellum plantation owner was doing something terribly wrong by owning and abusing slaves, but also had the bad moral luck of being in a position where avoiding wrongdoing would have been terribly difficult -- he would have had to have abandoned most of his property and estranged himself from his family to act rightly.

This kind of situation, where the person really didn't voluntarily do anything wrong, seems completely different -- I hadn't known that was how the term 'moral luck' was used.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:34 PM
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(I promise to read the next thing you link to!)

Yours for the linking, neb.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:35 PM
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I'd settle for some immoral luck from time to time. Just sayin'.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:36 PM
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149: Somebody gets it. There is so much the rest of you reprobates can learn from Benquo.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:37 PM
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I also can't remember the conclusions of Moral Luck.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:38 PM
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Vastly more people remember the title "Moral Luck" than anything else about it. I certainly don't remember more than those two words.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:44 PM
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163: I believe that makes you morally unworthy while the rest of us who have never read it may qualify as merely morally unlucky.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:46 PM
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159: it's used in both senses, describing different flavors.

The Wikipedia article is actually both reasonably informative and brief:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_luck#Four_Types_of_Moral_Luck


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:48 PM
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People may use the term "moral luck" for the kind of thing you're talking about, LB, as well, but Williams's example is Tess. She's riding along on the family's sole horse and falls asleep because she's exhausted and the horse ends up impaled or something (I can never bring myself to re-read that novel, so I'm weak on the comically grim details) and dies and the family descends further into poverty. Clearly, we think of that as bad luck, which has nothing to do with who Tess really is, but on that view, Williams points out, we'd have to think of her beauty as having nothing to do with her either. So, we need a conception of responsibility that embraces both. But what that conception is, Ben and I can't remember.

(On preview, clearly one of us should re-read it and report back. I feel like I should volunteer since I'm on sabbatical, but I'm hoping someone else will instead).


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:48 PM
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Wikipedia, even better!


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:49 PM
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I guess, come to think, I've also seen it used for circumstances where someone does something wrong, but that could be expected not to have any consequences, but by chance something terrible happens -- Chappaquiddick, say. Kennedy had probably driven drunk dozens of times before without hurting anyone, but that one time he killed someone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:49 PM
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167: Huh. I find the idea of assigning blame to someone for an unforeseeable consequence of actions that weren't in any way wrong in themselves really unappealing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:56 PM
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It is important to underline the distinction between internal and external moral blame or praise. Wolf believes that the outsiders should blame the lucky and unlucky drivers equally despite their intuition that the two of them should not feel equally bad (i.e., the unlucky driver that ran over a pedestrian should feel worse). However, the unlucky driver himself should voluntarily accept the notion of the special connection between his actions and the unfortunate consequences, and assign more blame to himself than the lucky driver should.

Comity! And, actually, I would argue that it is this intuitively-grasped framework that the woman in the column (may have/seems from the article to have) violated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 1:57 PM
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So, it would be wrong of you to blame her at all (given that her actual actions were blameless, and the bad consequences were completely due to luck rather than to her fault at all), but on the other hand blaming her vigorously if you suspect that she may not be blaming herself enough is A-OK. That seems like complete lunacy to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:01 PM
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I second 172. Blaming this woman for possibly not sufficiently blaming herself for her tragic but blameless role in something horrible seems like a waste of blame, especially when truly blameworthy people are not hard to find (*ahem* Ted Cruz *ahem*).


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:10 PM
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172:

I don't know "I blame you for not blaming yourself for this event for which I hold you blameless" has kind of a nice ring to it.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:11 PM
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173: Fortunately, the supply of blame is infinite, inexhaustible.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:17 PM
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You really think it's lunacy? Clearly, it would be inhuman for me to inadvertently kill a child, remind myself that I wasn't to blame, and blithely go about my business. We intuitively feel that there's some connection between the death and me, and the question is what kind. Tia proposes that I'm a second victim, also traumatized by what happened. But it seems to me that doing something that inadvertently causes something terrible is a crisis of agency, not victimization. So the idea that others shouldn't blame me, but I should blame myself captures that this terrible thing was *something that I did* even if it wasn't something that I did wrong.

Put another way, it's an incoherent ethical claim because it's trying to address a highly ambivalent psychological state.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:20 PM
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The 'blame' language doesn't seem very helpful, but I would certainly be put off by someone who just ran over a child and didn't feel emotionally shaken up and moved to make gestures of contrition*. Precisely because so many things are fated and outside of an individual's control, I think we esteem people who take ownership of the negative consequences of their actions and try to make things right in what way they can.

*I am on team non-hater about the woman in the OP, though.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:22 PM
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pwned


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:22 PM
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Criminally Bulgur is Bernard Williams! I think that's how he resolved the problem, actually.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:24 PM
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Also, there is a thing in relationships where an emotion needs to get expressed, in some fixed amount, and if the person in question doesn't express it, or expresses too much of it, then those around them feel pulled to balance it out.

So we've got this closed system of emotions, and it shows up with remorse. If the woman doesn't express sufficient remorse, we (the onlookers) feel like we have to pick up the slack. If she's expressing more remorse than appropriate, we want to soothe her and help her feel better.

I know everyone will roll their eyes at this comment, but I'm writing it anyway.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:33 PM
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I guess when I think of someone taking the blame for an unforeseeable bad result of their innocent action, it seems to me that what's usually going on psychologically is that they're making a mistake of fact. Trying to get inside such a person's head, the sort of thing I picture them saying is "If I'd just reacted faster, I could have avoided her," "If I'd been paying better attention, I would have seen the wagon through the trees and had enough warning to stop in time," or something similar. I'd think someone who both fully accepted that there was no way they could have avoided the bad outcome, but still blamed themselves for it, would be unlikely.

Obviously, someone who was an innocent participant in the death of a child who wasn't profoundly shocked, regretful, and saddened by it would be emotionally bizarre. But I don't think self-blame would be an ordinary reaction in the absence of some (even if knowingly irrational) belief that the actor could have avoided the bad outcome by behaving better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:35 PM
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Because I'm Professor Middlebrow, with her subscription to Psychology Today.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:35 PM
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The cases aren't the same. From Wikipedia:

There are two people driving cars, Driver A, and Driver B. They are alike in every way. Driver A is driving down a road, and, in a moment of inattention, runs a red light

This is Driver A and B, who both erred but by the chance of a pedestrian, only A hit a kid. Both were at fault (perhaps minor, if it is a moment of attention, perhaps major, if it is driving drunk) and A should indeed be more aware of the fault, since someone died because of it. If A didn't feel really bad about that fault, then A is a sucky person. B should also regret the fault, but chance has kept her from the realization so far.

The bride/driver in the Vows column was apparently not at fault (assuming that's the case). If she didn't take her eyes off the road or do something else wrong but she hit a kid that shot out in front of her on a wagon, she's not blameworthy. She doesn't have a driving error to regret, even if a child died.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:35 PM
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We can all agree that the bride, in a moment of inattention, decided the Vows column would be awesome. I bet she feels remorse.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:38 PM
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177 seems totally right to me and very smart. I think it also cautions, as a general rule, against being unduly judgmental about the precise ways in which someone else's emotional-shaking-up happens and/or the precise gestures of contrition someone else makes (so long as there's some emotional shake-up and/or contrition).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:43 PM
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Unfortunately, the impossibility of precisely meeting these highly variable expectations of a sufficient level of remorse add up to a certain level of collective blame of the presumably blameless person. Annoyingly, the best thing the person can do to minimize that blame is to go all out in your public self-flagellation because wherever you stop, someone will feel you have been insufficiently remorseful. And the self-flagellation, while sometimes an important step in dealing with the trauma, is unlikely to be the best route to long-term mental health.

Shorter me: Halford got it right in 127.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:55 PM
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I think the more extreme anti-bride sentiment here is based on mistaking etiquette for deeper moral matters. It's tacky to bring up this experience in this context, but people who are traumatized often do worse.

Miss Manners would say that while it's appropriate to try to get past such a tragedy, it is never appropriate to admit in public that you have succeeded in getting past it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 2:56 PM
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Miss Manners is smart.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 3:06 PM
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187.2 and are better for having experienced it -- this takes it from thoughtlessly rude to actively obnoxious.

That said, people who read the Vows column are getting what they deserve. Ditto people who appear in it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 3:11 PM
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Miss Manners is always smart, but so are you, Heebie! I think you're right to press us to stop thinking about the woman's feelings in isolation and start thinking of them as part of a dynamic. We don't want her to blame herself full stop. We want her to blame herself, so we can reassure her that she wasn't to blame, because that double move captures the less tort-based conception of responsibility that Criminally Bulgur and Raymond Williams were trying to get at.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 3:23 PM
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I blame Rio.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 3:26 PM
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Whoever was supposed to be watching that kid should feel like shit for making us talk about a crappy Vows column for nearly 200 comments.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 3:35 PM
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I feel like any interaction with the journalist that depends on them having the decency to leave something really noteworthy out of the story is an interaction that is not going to go well.

Almost every story that I have known anything about has been reported inaccurately.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 3:59 PM
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re: 193

A friend of mine stopped reading New Scientist [not exactly a sleazy tabloid] because every time he read something in his field [pure maths, but with some applied stuff happening in other fields] it was so wrong it made him angry.

News stories seem a whole order of magnitude worse than that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 4:03 PM
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We might want to think about applying a negligence standard whenever someone unintentionally causes harm, such as causing the death of a child, even when the child was himself negligent, reckless, or worse. The question would be: should the hippy woman reasonably have been able to foresee the risk and would it have been in her power to take a (reasonable*) precaution to avoid it? If so, and her action was a "but for" cause, then she should feel bad, and we would announce that she should feel bad by making her pay the family of the bereaved. Obviously that's not going to make the family feel much better, but it's a way to think about fault. And it might be a way to make future hippy women more cognizable of risks to children running out into the street, or not doing their homework, or what have you.

*here, given the magnitude of the harm, a reasonable precaution would be most any precaution that she could actually have taken in the given circumstances.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 4:16 PM
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I think Mme Merle is rejecting a standard like that as insufficient. That is, in this case, it seems like the best guess we can make as to the facts shows that Mlle. Yogini wasn't negligent in any way that affected the outcome -- there's no more care she could have taken that would have saved the kid. Nonetheless, an argument is being made that she would be wrong not to blame herself for killing the kid, because her self-blaming lets us forgive her for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 4:31 PM
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A more interesting question I think would be determining how to assess blame in a mythical situation where you know something bad will happen, and you know that you can't change it. In that situation, is the ethical course to warn of impending doom -- thus removing yourself from immediate culpability but making the others involved in the events feel, in retrospect, even more at fault when the tragedy occurs -- or to do nothing? I generally feel worse about harm if I've been warned about it ahead of time, or if, in retrospect, I think I should have been able to foresee it. It kind of turns the problem on its head.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 4:32 PM
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News stories seem a whole order of magnitude worse than that.

Although I didn't at all want to be included, I was still a little surprised to find myself erased from my ex's big ol' bio in the NYT (it had been a 13-year cohabiting relationship) because it interfered with the writer's cheesy story arc (lonely madman magically finds true love, is rescued from misery, wins big prize). That's not quite how it happened. Ex actually called to apologize, which was rather weird. I'm sure that had I been included I would have been written as a cross between Cruella de Ville and Hitler.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 4:34 PM
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a cross between Cruella de Ville and Hitler.

That at least sounds visually interesting. I'm thinking black&white hair, but with the Hitler flop, and both a mustache and a cigarette holder.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 4:36 PM
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196: If there's no precaution she could have taken then I don't think it does anyone any good for her to torture herself over it.

Bringing it up in her Vows column is a new act, however. She should know that in doing so, she is likely to cause harm to the family of the dead child. So she is negligent in that regard. She doesn't have to torture herself, she just has to be quiet about it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 4:36 PM
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Every single story that I've known anything about from experience has been mis-reported by the press. Every single one. Sometimes the errors aren't that significant, or cancel each other out, but often they're significant enough for the story to be substantially misleading.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 4:38 PM
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Yeah, I think everyone agrees with you that it is bad for the death of the child to have been brought up in that manner in the column, the question is whether the wrongful act is that of the reporter who wrote the column or of the subject of the column.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 4:39 PM
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(lonely madman magically finds true love, is rescued from misery, wins big prize)

How about lonely madmam paired with somebody way too good for him gets dropped and finds a partner so inferior to the last that he spends all his time at work, wins prize?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 5:06 PM
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202: Looks like I'm still just catching up on this thread. The reporter is also culpable if he knowingly prints details that will upset people. Of course, that's also the reporter's job, so the question would be whether the given details are actually newsworthy in any regard. Legally that's extremely difficult to determine, so it's rare if not impossible for a true report of facts to constitute any sort of tort. But as a moral matter, the reporter would be negligent in this case I think. He includes the quote for laughs at the woman's expense.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 5:12 PM
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||
LB. The Laundry & Cold Comfort Farm mashup is available at Tor.
|>


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 5:13 PM
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Sorry for being such a dick lately. My dickishness is morally negligent.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 5:15 PM
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197: Otherwise known as "The Bakula Conjecture"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 5:32 PM
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||

Halford: Do you have this in LA yet? Maybe you could franchise it. (I saw the fellow peddling through my neighborhood today -- seemed very fit.)

https://www.facebook.com/BuffaloByBike

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 5:34 PM
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I saw the fellow peddling through my neighborhood

If he'd stopped to peddle he probably would have sold more.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 5:45 PM
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Eh, I figure he was going at about the right speed. If anyone eats bison around here, they probably want to skin it themselves.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 5:53 PM
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If so I'd make a really pretty skirt.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 6:01 PM
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IMO a great deal can be understood about the Vows column by thinking about its intended audience: Upper-middle-class, highly status conscious people who are reliably anxious about their own or their adult children's matrimonial prospects.

Once you know that, then so much else falls into place: why so much attention is paid to how the couple met; why prior relationships, careers, even children are minimized or erased; why the column only occasionally features actual celebrities.

Like a lot of journalism, the object is to create a fantasy for the reader -- but it has to be believable for this particular kind of reader, and that's what makes it different from your run-of-the-mill wedding column.*

*Of which I am a devoted fan, to be clear.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 6:14 PM
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I assume 197 is talking about jellyfish.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 6:24 PM
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205: Hah, I just finished it and was coming back here to point people to it myself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 6:55 PM
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I assume 197 is talking about jellyfish.

Fixed.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 7:15 PM
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>> save money; check each other for ticks nightly
>> to prevent Lyme disease; let the other person win sometimes

This is good advice.


Posted by: wolfgang | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 7:20 PM
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How about lonely madmam paired with somebody way too good for him gets dropped

Certainly that's how my Modern Love column is going to slant.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 7:22 PM
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I'm thinking black&white hair, but with the Hitler flop, and both a mustache and a cigarette holder.

This called to mind Antonin Artaud. Turns out he never had a mustache though.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 7:33 PM
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Day-brightener:
http://lastrealindians.tumblr.com/post/62160690455/lakota-and-dakota-grandmothers-captured-the-nazi


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 7:50 PM
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The discussion of moral luck in this thread is interesting.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 7:54 PM
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||

Oh, hey, if any of the Boston people are around, there's a big bookstore closing, 80% off, in Hopkinton, MA. Ending pretty darn soon, by this weekend.

The website: http://www.vintagebooks1.com. See Store closing details for info.

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:15 PM
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205, 214: THERE'LL BE NO BUTTER IN HELL!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 9:22 PM
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221: Do you think they will sell a banjo to someone who would bring it to me? I don't know who that is, but I'm optimistic, because bookstores are friendly places.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:37 PM
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Bookstores sell banjos?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:38 PM
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In any case, I suspect the banjo industry has been relatively unaffected by the rise of ebooks and so forth.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-24-13 11:46 PM
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Anyway, my last word on the controversy around the OP: Clearly, the best thing for both the reporter and subject to have said was something along the lines of:

[It was at this time that Mrs. X was involved in a car accident that killed a young girl. While she was exonerated of any blame for the accident, she refused to comment on it to protect the privacy of the victim's family. The Times respects her wishes.]


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 5:45 AM
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The reporter doesn't get to make up what the subject says, and has an obligation to report what is said accurately and completely.

Some people suffered a tragedy. Included among those people was the driver of the car. To say we ought not report that tragedy is an error. To say we ought to report that tragedy only from the point of view of the surviving family is an error - and it's a particularly egregious error in this case because it's based on the assumption that the surviving family wants to silence the poor woman driving the car. That's not necessarily the case.

In the end, the reporter's responsibility is to convey the facts accurately and in appropriate context. If we assume that's been done here, then I don't see a legitimate gripe with the reporter's work.

Absence of Malice, a great journalism movie, contains this bit of dialogue from the kindly editor, speaking to the Sally Field character:

I know how to print what's true. And I know how not to hurt people. I don't know how to do both at the same time and neither do you.

Posted by: William Randolph Hearst | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:11 AM
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You furnish the pigeon's blood red dress, I'll furnish the insufferable couple.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:16 AM
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Because I'm a feminist, I woke up this morning thinking about this goddamn thing, and in particular the striking (but somewhat understandable) asymmetry in the "rules" for the parents (and family members) versus someone like this woman. It is not uncommon for people to incorporate the death of a child in their personal narratives, and although I (and I'm sure others) find some of them a bit unseemly, in general they fall within social norms. Of course there is no doubt that whatever the circumstances*, your own child's death is a profound event in your life, although I'm sure we would find it in us to bring the snark if someone presented it in a "frivolous" way, which is similar to the charge being leveled against this woman here. No big judgment or insight here, but it is an interesting thicket of ethics and manners, and one which most certainly varies significantly between different times and places.

*In this particular case, if there is any potential adult culpability, it lies mostly with the father. From the one account, he had left girls out front in lawn chairs as he went into the house to get something. They were preparing to go to the beach and presumably the wagon being out was part of that program.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:26 AM
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227: Eh, I see that argument as it applies to things that are news, but surely a traffic accident that had no noteworthy features with a single fatality from several years before doesn't exactly pass the "man-bites-dog" test.

Furthermore, reporters and editors choose to occlude "the truth" all the time -- when my journalist friend OD'd a couple years ago, all of her cronies agreed not to publish the circumstances of her death to spare her family additional pain, even though, as a young US woman working in a foreign country, it might otherwise have made a juicy bit of news.

We see the same thing every day in the discrepancy between, say, the way the disappearance of a young white woman vs. the murder of a young African-American man will be reported.


Posted by: William Howard Taft | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:34 AM
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It's so terrifying to contemplate trying to pick up your life and keep living, after the death of your child. Sometimes I just want someone to confirm that there is life on the other side of that grief, eventually. The guy I know who lost a son seems to have become really great at compartmentalizing, which is probably the best you can do. And that was twenty years ago, I think.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:34 AM
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228 would have been better with the couple and the dress reversed. Sorry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:35 AM
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My ex had an article written about her in our main paper. The article described her as a single parent raising two children, including a developmentally delayed autistic daughter. They had a couple of other sentences about how difficult it was raising "her" daughter.

The article did not specifically say that the father (aka me) was a slacker who abandoned the children, leaving my poor ex to fend for herself. But that was the clear implication. Multiple friends immediately called me outraged.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:50 AM
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Outraged on your behalf?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:53 AM
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Or that I would abandon my kids like that. I can't remember now. But definitely outraged!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:56 AM
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231: I wish I could say that everything is great for my friend who lost her baby. But unfortunately, the dreary circumstances of her life keep dragging her down. I think her time with her daughter is relatively positive and uncontaminated by grief, but I know it is getting harder for her as we approach the anniversary of her son's death.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:57 AM
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230: Certainly there are a bunch of tricky issues involved, but we seem to be talking about two different things.

I'm talking about how journalism ought be practiced, and you're contrasting that with how it is practiced. (I'm assuming here that you aren't bringing up the coverage of vanished white women to suggest that this is how reporting ought to be done.)

In the specific case of your OD'd friend, the ethical responsibility for the journalists was clouded by the fact that they weren't simply journalists in this case - they were also friends of the deceased, and thus had obligations that were additional to their professional obligations.


Posted by: William Randolph Hearst | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 6:59 AM
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237: they were also friends of the deceased, and thus had obligations that were additional to their professional obligations.

Friends of the deceased, the business leader, the politician, the <insert xyz powerful person here>. Various additional obligations have been fucking the world up the ass pretty continually of late.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 7:32 AM
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The dyspeptic comment in 237 was from me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 7:34 AM
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Shockingly.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 7:35 AM
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And 238 not 237.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 7:35 AM
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238: No argument here.


Posted by: William Randolph Hearst | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 7:49 AM
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231: I didn't meet my sons and it must be worse for parents of children they've gotten to know as people, not just potential.

A year and a few months out from the first, the fact of their deaths is still astonishingly awful and stupidly pointless and unredeemable. Nothing will change it or make it better. It is actively on my mind probably half the time. I am easily reminded the rest of the time. I dislike pregnant women and people who had healthy babies without going through this (I'm a little sorry about that because it is unfair, but I also don't really care.). I often cry during commutes and read that it is common to do so.

The fallout from the losses (the pain the rest of the family felt and the cost and the toll on my body) has been maybe half as bad again, but that's clearing up.

That said, for the past three months or so, I've gotten energy back and remembered that I used to have interests besides babyloss and grief. If I stay on this trajectory, besides the big horrible thing, I'll have a life that has lots of daily pleasantness and have goals and community again.

There was a good story in the NY Times about overcoming trauma. Basically, if people didn't have coping skills before and learn them to handle the trauma, they may do better over all afterward. I could see the bride creating that narrative for herself, but not the parents. For the parents, nothing is worth the giant wound, not even new coping skills.


Posted by: anon for this one | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 8:01 AM
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243: So sorry for your loss.

It is occasionally useful for privileged people like me to reflect on the triviality of the shit that we have been permanently scarred by.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 8:12 AM
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243: Thanks for periodically updating us, by the way. I keep you in mind.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 8:16 AM
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Here is a Vows column that is the complete opposite of the norm / and the OP -- may deserve its own thread. Quote:

She was raised in a Virginia suburb by a black Baptist mother and a Jewish father and had been a 100-meter national champion at age 10...."I was an inner city Miami kid," said Mr. Haslem, now 33, "with a drug-addicted mother, a stepmother who never married my father, and a son from a high school fling. I fought on the streets, watched friends die from drugs and violence, and learned to shoot hoops in Liberty City. I had no idea if she even liked me."

Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 8:24 AM
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"I got out of the car and this really beautiful friend of mine with dark skin and deep brown eyes was lying in the alley. His eyes were glazed over. I knew the spirit had left his body."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 8:50 AM
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243: What Heebie said.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 10:55 AM
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Thanks for commenting, anon. You cross my mind occasionally as well. I am happy to hear that the last three months have improved.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 12:03 PM
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If you're still around, is there any new information on the medical front? IIRC, it was going to be 3-6 months before you got genetic tests back.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 12:36 PM
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Link to the column mentioned in 246.

After gab sessions with several members of her family, Ms. Rein flexed her muscles by moving to New York to pursue a career in sports broadcasting.

"Faith and Udonis were crazy about each other," said her older sister, Shanelle Rein-Olowokere. "But she needed to make her own money and see how it feels to be independent before becoming a basketball wife. I pushed her to go to New York."

Mr. Haslem respected her decision, but once again questioned the differences in their backgrounds. He was baffled by her family sit-downs. "In my house," he said, "we didn't talk things over."

[My appreciation as well to anon for continuing to share]


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 12:49 PM
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All of the genetic tests we did came back normal. We don't have an explanation for the hydrocephalus yet. But, we did have our application to the Center for Mendelian Genomics approved. Yale will sequence our boys' exomes for us, with money from the National Institute of Health. That's worth (depending on what insurance pays for) $3,000 to $15,000 to us. Exome sequencing only gives an answer 35-45% of the time. So next February we have about a 50% chance of getting an answer.

That is the best technology can do, for now. Even if we don't get answers, it is some satisfaction to have pursued it to the end of the line.


Posted by: anon for this one | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 1:09 PM
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Do you guys have a next step for what's right for your family? I realize that's ridiculously phrased, but it's none of my business and yet you've generally been pretty open to nosy questions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 1:14 PM
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Sure, you can ask. I don't mind questions.

We still want children and our current choice is biological children. We are trying to conceive.

If Yale does find the genetic cause, IVF with PGD will be an option. (Pre-implantation Genetic Determination. They take one cell from the fertilized embryo and check its DNA. Usually they're looking for trisomies, but they can go further and check individual genes if there is a known mutation. They only put back non-affected or carrier embryos. Then, you wait two weeks to find out whether you just wasted $40,000.) We'll make that decision if we get that far.

We also looked into whether it is possible to conceive twins with the hopes that at least one of them will be unaffected. Twins takes our chances of a viable pregnancy from 75% to 93% (of at least one live baby). Fertility drugs don't increase the chance of twins much, though, so there isn't any real leverage there.


Posted by: anon for this one | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 1:29 PM
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So you're in a holding pattern until February, at least? That itself is an awful kind of limbo, not that that's news to you. But I've been struck by what a long time-scale this unfolding tragedy/situation has taken on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 1:33 PM
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Oh wait, I misread the second sentence of the second paragraph. That makes sense, as well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 1:35 PM
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I hate unknowns. I'm sorry you have to go through so many.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 1:36 PM
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Not really a holding pattern. We aren't putting off trying to conceive until then. Every month I want to be pregnant, but looking back at the seven months since the second loss, I've been very grateful for the break. It is taking that long to return to anything familiar.

If I knew for sure that we'd have living children (or one living child), I'd be happy for the break between pregnancies and the time for working through the grief. Without knowing that, it gets more scary.


Posted by: anon for this one | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 1:39 PM
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Thanks for the update, anon. This may sound weird, but as someone who's obviously a vocal advocate for raising non-related children, I also think it's great that you know you want to try for children with a biological connection to you.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 1:39 PM
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Very sorry for your losses, anon for this one. It's such a horrible, horrible thing. My friend has also been having a hard time dealing with her perception that people want to change the subject or ignore her when she talks about her son, as though she's being rude for mentioning him or her grief over his death. I hope that you have not experienced that so much.

One aspect of the whole thing that I have a hard time wrapping my head around (and there are several) is that she never got a gravestone for him. Some people donated money, but that got eaten up by living expenses. And if there was money right now, it would go for the same thing. She does have her daughter, after all, who needs supporting like any other kid. I'm torn between feeling like "pray for the dead and fight like Hell for the living" should guide my own and others' actions, and feeling like it is just wrong on a very fundamental level to have no marker for his grave. There's so many aspects of the whole thing that are marked by her class position and the relative lack of affluence of the families involved. It really raises my middle-class hackles that she and her daughter have been on the brink of homelessness again and again when she has close relatives and in-laws who have nice suburban houses and steady jobs, though almost everyone tops out at lower middle class. It just adds to the unfairness, even though it's already a singularity of unfairness that can't/shouldn't get any deeper. So fucked up. I don't know how else to think about it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 1:46 PM
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That really sucks about the gravestone. My experience is that you get to keep so very little of your baby and do so little for him that you'd want him to at least have a gravestone (urns, in our cases). I hope your friend finds stability and security soon.

I don't generally try to talk to people about it. It is a rude assumption on my part, but unless they've lived through something similar, I don't think they have much to offer me. A few people had the emotional skills to stay close throughout and I like them because I can keep them updated like I would for any other unfolding story. But the chasm between me and people who have live children is huge. I don't think they want to be reminded that bad things happen for no reason and then they stay awful, and I mostly assume (maybe unfairly) that their first efforts at addressing someone else's grief will be ineffective and pointless. So I don't try to talk about them much.


Posted by: anon for this one | Link to this comment | 09-25-13 2:10 PM
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