Thinking out loud

In My Back Pages, billmon explains why he reopened the Whiskey Bar and what motivated his continued approach to blogging:

So what are you supposed to do when high officials in your own government – in power, right now – brag publicly, if anonymously, about committing (or at least enabling) bestial war crimes? What do the Nuremberg Principles have to say about that? And what if said government has just been returned to office in full and reasonably fair elections, by will of the (small d) democratic majority?

I don’t know. I suppose I could have gone down to Virginia and stood outside the entrance to the CIA or the Pentagon with a sign hung on my chest — “Arrest the War Criminals” – until they hauled me away. Or abandoned my job and my family to go join the camp of permanent protestors living across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park – until I, too, could hear the secret radio broadcasts in my teeth.

Or I could have bought myself a gun, tried to identify the fuckers, then hunted them down and shot them in the street like the rabid dogs they are. It’s probably what Hunter would have wanted. But, leaving aside the morality of playing judge, jury and executioner in my own private war crimes proceedings, what good would it have done? They’re replaceable parts. You destroy one and they just run the forklift back into the warehouse and take out another. Meanwhile, you’re on death row.

In the end, I decided the one thing I couldn’t do was remain silent – which as everybody who’s ever watched Perry Mason knows, gives consent. But I also didn’t have much of an interest in writing another manifesto – I mean, war crimes, Nuremberg, Geneva Convention, blah blah blah. Nobody even hears that stuff any more. We learned that after Abu Ghraib. So I simply pulled together some quotes – just the facts, taken from the most authoritative and reliable sources I could find. And I thought, ‘OK, that’s it. You’ve done what you can do. Now you can pull the plug.

(I almost haven’t the heart to tell him that John Perry Barlow wrote the words to “Hell in a Bucket,” not the bard, Robert Hunter.)

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