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Chernynkaya On January - 14 - 2011

I am going way out on a limb here. Maybe all the craziness has gotten to me, but among other things, these past few days I have been struck by contrasts: Contrasts between strong rhetoric and actual hate speech, contrasts between hope and fear, contrasts between healing and wounding, and contrasts between reason and insanity.

I am not sure what exactly insanity is, but I know an insane action when I see it. I know what it sounds like.  We have all been taking a lot about language —language as speech and language as grammar. Can we not propose that a jumbled mind is expressed through incoherent speech? I was taught back in the day when teachers made us diagram sentences. I don’t know if we can diagram the mind, but diagramming a sentence provides insight into the mind of its perpetrator. The more the diagram is forced to wander around the page, loop back on itself, the more it reveals that the mind that created the sentence is either a richly educated one—as shown by the famous Proust sentence diagram—or such an impoverished one that it can produce only twaddle. Or the insanity of a disorganized brain. Which brings me to two people in the news who have both had trouble with language– and grammar.

I am not implying that Sarah Palin had anything to do directly with Jared Loughner’s heinous actions, but I can’t completely dismiss the idea that she “spoke” to him. In some ways, they spoke the same language: Insaniotics.  Palin in not insane, but I aver that she is worse than merely inane.

The following is an imagined discussion between Jared Loughner and Sarah Palin, based on their actual quotes on a variety of topics:

Loughner: My hope – is for you to literate! If you’re literate in English grammar, then you comprehend English grammar. The majority of people, who reside in District-8, are illiterate – hilarious. I don’t control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure.

Palin: Refudiate, misunderestimate, wee-weed up. English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!

Loughner: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.

Palin: It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where—where do they go?

Loughner: Terrorist: If I define terrorist then a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon. … If you call me a terrorist, then the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem. You call me a terrorist. Thus, the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem.

Palin: When we take up arms, we’re talking about our vote. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms, by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.

Loughner: Why don’t we just strap bombs to babies.

Palin: The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Loughner: I planned ahead.

Palin: I didn’t really have a good answer, as so often — is me (…) But then somebody sent me the other day, Isaiah 49:16, and you need to go home and look it up. Before you look it up, I’ll tell you what it says though. It says, hey, if it was good enough for God, scribbling on the palm of his hand, it’s good enough for me, for us. He says, in that passage, ‘I wrote your name on the palm of my hand to remember you,’ and I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m in good company.

Loughner: No I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!

Palin: What I scribbled on the palm of my hand tonight too — it was the dollar sign, and I’m — we’re going to talk about the practical needs too for this cause, and this will remind me to — because I didn’t write it in my speech, I have to ad lib that part, so to remind me.

Loughner: Loughner is a United States Military recruit.

Palin: I know that John McCain will do that and I, as his vice president, families we are blessed with that vote of the American people and are elected to serve and are sworn in on January 20, that will be our top priority is to defend the American people.

Loughner: I realize now that this is all a scam. We are examining the torture of students. This is my genocide school. I haven’t forgotten the teacher that gave me a B for freedom of speech.

Palin: You mentioned education and I’m glad you did. I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving.

Loughner: If B.C.E. years are unable to start, then A.D.E. years are unable to begin. B.C.E. years are unable to start. Thus, A.D.E. years are unable to begin.

Palin: I do have a strong belief in God, and I believe that I’m a heck of a lot better off putting my life in God’s hands, and saying hey, you know, guide me. What else do we have but guidance that we would seek from a Creator?

Loughner: In conclusion, reading the second United Sates Constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.

Palin: I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Representative Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that HE would propose a law that would criminalize speech that he found offensive!

There are anarchic and delusional types who think we’re all in cahoots, that it’s all one big conspiracy, and grammar is part of it. They believe we’re part of this elitist attempt to keep the masses down through language.

Margaret Edson, who teaches social studies at a middle school in Atlanta, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play “Wit.” It is a genuinely brilliant piece of art.

Ms. Edson said,“If you don’t have grammar, you don’t have sense. You don’t have one another. You can’t say ‘I love you’ without grammar.”

As we have recently seen though, you can express hate without it.

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

32 Responses so far.

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  1. iconoclast says:

    Very insightful, Cher. As our nation becomes a two-culture society, I think we’re going to see poor grammar and illogical thought become a badge of honor, perhaps even enforced as a social norm among the working class. It’s yet one more symptom of false consciousness.

    The low-info voters of this society have been sold the bill of goods that “plain folks” somehow live differently from the “elitists;” i.e., those who are educated and care about their world. Meanwhile, they consistently vote for the same bunch of millionaires, because these people mimic so-called “plain folks” speech and convince their followers that they spend their time hunting possum and tossing back a few generic brewskis.

    A stupid reason on its face to vote for someone, but even more so when you realize that as I type this, Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin are sitting in their Gulfstream jets, sipping Cristal and laughing their αsses off at the utter gullibility of their “plain folks.”

  2. SueInCa says:

    A poster over there posted this comment from Sarah Palin a year or so ago and I thought, what the hell? It is the same old I can do it, but you cannot mantra of the republican party.

    “Palin, Rushbo, Glenduh et al are not responsible for the tragedy with their words but David Letterman would be responsible for a different crime because of his words? Bible Spice and Friends have a strange way of looking at situations, always in their favor.

    “”……..­… -- that acceptance of inappropri­ate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone’s daughter, contribute­s to the atrociousl­y high rate of sexual exploitati­on of minors by older men who use and abuse others.'”

    • iconoclast says:

      And what is truly sad about it is, MSM and the public seem to have bought it. Conservatives get a Get Out Of Jail Free card despite the vile poo they fling. Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann and Rosie O’Donnell get fired.

      Michael the Savage Weiner once said that people who think as I do “should be taken out and shot.” Where is the national outrage over that, hmmm?

  3. Questinia says:

    When you think about it, certain types of paranoid delusional people and people like Palin and her adherents have a lot in common.

    Palin is “fringe” but fringe is now front and center for many with conservative leanings. Stocking up on assault rifles and ammunition, fearing higher education, rumor as fact, loving to hate things that are different or “puzzling” like foreigners, over-valued ideas that lead to murder as in the case of abortion doctor slayings. People who take the Bible literally, read it incessantly, are obsessional about the Rapture…
    Well how can any of these people form a stable society, economy government, or any other system that doesn’t include their specific fixed ideas?

    The fact they they both try to so fervently persuade others of their beliefs further shows the parallels.

    Fantastic concept, making the juxtaposition of thought and word usage styles of the not-so-fringe.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I’m glad you thought so! As I read those quotes, I couldn’t help but see a real similarity, and how just a few steps further along the continuum, and Sarah would be there with Jared.

      The grammar thing is just one manifestation of the paranoia and insecurity, but not uncommon. I accidentally found hundreds of pages on Google about “grammar nazis.” People apparently get highly insulted if anyone corrects their grammar. 😯

  4. SueInCa says:

    Thanks Cher, you always get to the heart of things.

  5. whatsthatsound says:

    Really insightful, Cher! It has been so weird these days, hearing SP saying, “when we talk about reloading, we’re talking about voting” and coming across Bacchmann’s infamous “I want them armed and dangerous about the facts” line over and over. What makes these people so weird? And I don’t mean SP and Bachmann, but the people they very carefully choose such words to appeal to?

    I despise the diet of violence and hatred and revenge that Americans are served as entertainment! The lack of intelligence. In the movie “Armageddon” the script went out of its way to show the “heroes” as slovenly, disrespectful, not very intelligent, etc. But they got to save the world!

    I’m convinced Bruce Willis could get elected president if he wanted to. He’s the icon of disrespect for authority, violence as solutions, “regular guy” street smarts but no book learnin’, etc.
    At some point I feel our culture is going to overindulge so much on this inanity that we’ll end up just puking it out of our system. The question is, will that be before, or after, we end up electing a SP or Bachmann president?

    • Chernynkaya says:

      What’s you are so right! I seriously do not fully understand the exultation of the crass and ignorant. Are we so insecure that we have gotten to the point that the Bruce Willis types are our role models? It seems so and that is so sick.

  6. Questinia says:

    A short vid on what it’s like to have schizophrenic symptoms (as described by actual schizophrenics).


    (put out by Janssen Pharma)

    • Khirad says:

      And little shock here, there was a history of mental illness. From the day after I found it curious that the father didn’t work.

      I don’t know what he had, or if one mental illness can be a predisposition for another, but more details out about the family history.


        • Khirad says:

          Creeps me out that I’ll be enrolling there for classes…

          I couldn’t get all the way through that.

          For an insanity defense that’s all the attorney really needs to submit as evidence.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Bito, that video was upsetting on so many levels, but I’m glad I watched it. Thanks!

        • Questinia says:

          bito, wow. That is a great documentation of evolving illness. Nightmarish, particularly as he walks up the stairs with a slight maniacal laugh.

          • bito says:

            I’m glad you saw that and commented ,Q. It was a bit like the video you posted last night.

            • Khirad says:

              Yes, having watched Q’s first you can almost hear the voices in his head. His narration is probably repeating some of them.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        I don’t know what we as a society can or should do with a family like this one seems to be. We can’t force them to get treatment as long as they don’t bother anybody. They could have stayed isolated in their house, and the most we can and should do is give them some disability payments.

        But what we can and must do is to really, honestly, in a scientific and empirical manner look at the environment that this family--and all residents of the country--are living in. It is not a healthy environment, any more than if we lived in a toxic waste dump. THAT we can change. maybe we need a M/EPA: Mental/Environmental Protection Agency.

        Of course, that could become Big Brother, but I think there are many small, cultural things we could do. Nobody would think it healthy to allow children to watch pornography; why is OK for them to be exposed to graphic violence? we don’t sell cigarettes or alcohol to minors-- that’s not Big Brother, but some would say a Nanny. Fine by me. We seem to need a good nanny.

        • Khirad says:

          “M/EPA: Mental/Environmental Protection Agency.”

          -- loves it!

          Yes, and that’s my response, too. Look at the obesity and adult onset diabetes rates in this country.

          My simple answer to that is also that maybe we really do need a nanny!

    • kesmarn says:

      I have to say that is scary as hell.

      This chemistry set of a human body and mind that we operate with is wonderfully and frightfully delicate, isn’t it? A bit too much of this, not quite enough of that and off we go.

      I also feel so sorry for this poor kid. And his parents.

      • Questinia says:

        On some level, he probably knew he was going mad but could do nothing about it. His parents were probably living in a constant state of now knowing what to do and being intimidated by his behavior. Insane people tend to rule the family while the sanest in the family tend to be scapegoated.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Gosh, Q-- I wake up like that! 😉 The only difference is the continuum--MY voices don’t tell me the coffee is out to get me, but I do tell myself what a waste of space I am occasionally.

          But seriously, it did make me think about how much--as kes said-- we are at the mercy of our chemicals. And since much of pathology (I think--correct me if wrong) IS on a continuum, can we not say that most of our dysfunctions are maybe 50/50 chemical and environment? Which means, I can talk to a therapist and still only get some tools with which to deal with whatever chemical crap hand I was dealt. Implications are interesting! And to think, when I was MUCH younger, I was enamored of RD Laing, and thought there was no such thing as “crazy” at all!

          BTW--I was interested in becoming a therapist at one point, and while in school had a lab class where I counseled people. I spent 90% of my time with people who needed basic life skills more than in-depth therapy-- things like calling one’s boss if sick, and how to break up with a girlfriend politely. It was really shocking. I wasn’t cut out for it.

          • Questinia says:

            My simple view on that, Cher, is people can alter their environment (i.e. how they perceive it) which can in turn affect their chemistry in a feedback loop. It’s really all chemistry, including how the environment affects one.

            All antidepressants really do is “re-set” the brain’s own chemistry to perceive the environment in a more benevolent way, thereby making a favorable feedback loop.

            Kinda like what Adlib does for us here at POV. :)

            • Khirad says:

              By the way, ‘feedback loop’ was totally a phrase I was looking for earlier.

  7. javaz says:

    When I first read the things that the killer wrote online -- he wrote anti-government and about gold in relation to our money -- and my first thought was -- “He’s quoting Glenn Beck”, and I stand by that.

    When it comes to crazy or insanity, well, that scares the hell out of me because crazy runs in my family and runs in me.

    I do not say that lightly.

    The thing that really gets to me though, if this was a black person or Hispanic, or any person not white -- would we even be having this discussion into the killer’s psyche?

    John Hinkley, is that his name? Tried to kill Reagan, and he was ruled insane, but remember, his family had money.

    He gets out regularly for visits with his family for holidays and special occasions.

    He was the guy that tried to take out a president to gain the attention of a movie star.

    This kid, and he’s only 22 years old, is very much a kid.

    The “Phoenix New Times” in Arizona has published photos of this killer from the time when he was a small boy, and the article’s author says that the photos are chilling and creepy.


    I disagree.

    I look at the photos of a young boy and think what a cute, handsome little boy, and what happened to him to make him change into a monster.

    I know that it’s wrong of me to pity the monster, and I question myself if I would do that if the perpetrator was not white, and my heart and mind aches.

    This is such a tragedy on so many levels, but I wonder if I’d be struggling so with trying to understand had he been black or Hispanic, and that is what I struggle with the most.

    Do you know what I am trying to say?

    Does it make sense?

    And am I a bad person for having these thoughts?

    • Khirad says:

      No, as more came out about him feeling awkward around girls and lonely and everything everyone said, I did feel sorry for him. I hate what he did, but it’s obvious he had lost it. I still can’t speculate how much control he should be held responsible for over his actions in prison -- rather than just sent to a state hospital for the rest of his life, but no, I don’t think he’s evil, or creepy ——- except for those photos he took with his Glock in a red g-string. Yikes.

    • choicelady says:

      Good heavens, NO you’re not bad. The loss of a young person to mental illness IS a tragedy, and even when he’s done awful things, doing them in the grip of delusion is horrid for him as well as the people he’s harmed. No one understands why his age group is so often and so massively afflicted. There appears to be a physical reason, we just don’t yet know what or why.

      I have read a great deal about his ravings. He is the typical “lone wolf” whom we have long feared. Many others have been the same. In 1999 the Williams brothers from Redding, CA firebombed three temples in Sacramento, murdered a gay couple back in Redding some weeks later, then returned to Sacramento in one victim’s car to torch an abortion clinic. They belonged to no groups, were not actively political, but they were infused with RW ideas and gleaned much of their animus from internet sites. Loughner did the same.

      Jared is more overtly insane than the Williams brothers, but it’s a matter of degree, not kind. Loughner WAS targeting a Congresswoman, organized and planned the shooting. Prima facie -- it’s political. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Public Eye who study these things have found waaaay too much information that shows what he’d been reading and to whom he was paying attention that link his thoughts to RW ideas. Why the MSM seems hell bent on exempting him from the realm of RW politics is unclear. He was influenced. It’s beyond question. The Lone Wolf is precisely that -- the movements love them because they do NOT belong, and that gives them a shooter AND plausible deniability.

      So yeah -- I feel terrible for him and the loss of possibility his tortured mind created. What fresh hell he lived with day after day. Not everyone -- not even most -- mentally ill people do harm. But some do, and if they’ve been seduced by conspiracy discussions, a sense that “someone” is the “enemy”, then whoever is pointing this out of control person those ways does share culpability.

      What simply amazes me is the skedaddle every single RW person does when the inflammatory words actually produce violence. If you don’t WANT it, don’t PROMOTE it. But then please do NOT indulge in Insaniotics by pretending your armed and dangerous phraseology just mean -- voting. People died because of your words. If you did not want that to happen, then shut the fuck up.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Javaz, I think insanity scares the bejeezus out of all of us. I always wondered if the insane know they are insane, and if they do, I can’t help but feel terribly sorry for them!

      I can’t help it, but I also feel compassion for the kid. When I read about how many resumes he’d sent out, how he couldn’t hold a job, and how he’d posted questions asking how many resumes were too many--well, my heart melted. I also saw photos of him looking normal, and smiling. Even when he’d already lost it, he posted that he was accepted in the army, and he wasn’t. He seemed so lonely and lost.

      The other night, I posted something about some dear friends of ours whose son was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and it was tragic.

      I think it is possible to hate him for what he did, and to still feel sad for him. It must be, because that’s how I feel, and I sense you do too.

  8. AdLib says:

    Very cool post, Cher! Let’s tell everyone that we coordinated on our posts and they’ll think we’re big geniuses!

    I like how you’ve juxtaposed Palin’s ignorance and obliviousness with Loughner’s paranoid and disturbed obsession with the meaning of things.

    Both people display an inability to relate to other people and reason, they lack empathy and self-awareness and both walked around feeling misunderstood and persecuted by the majority out there.

    Both think they have the answers to the problems they see with their society but they only reflect destruction, not construction.

    And as for making sense, that would be a real PPV competition that might not be able to be decided.

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