Category Archives: Torture, Trauma & Abuse

Immortal Horrors

However the academic world is divided, the twentieth century has achieved a terrible form of immortality. “It is in the very nature of things human,” Hannah Arendt observed, “that every act that has once made its appearance and has been recorded in the history of mankind stays with mankind as a potentiality long after its actuality has become a thing of the past.” No matter how remote, great crimes have a living power to influence the future. Tradition and taboo are unavailing. “No punishment,” Arendt wrote, “has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes.” On the contrary, “whatever the punishment, once a specific crime has appeared for the first time, its reappearance is more likely than its initial emergence could ever have been.”

It is in this sense that the twentieth century, having introduced into human history crimes never before imagined, or if imagined, never before undertaken, is immortal, and will, like the crucifixion, remain a permanent part of the human present.

It is simply there, an obelisk in human history: black, forbidding, irremovable, and inexpugnable.

David Berlinski, The Best of Times


Ahead of Halloween, Universities Nationwide Tell Students What Not to Wear

Throughout October, universities across the nation are warning their students against Halloween costumes some consider offensive.

Gone are the days when college students could dress up without fear of being reported to a bias response team. In recent years, more and more campus leaders have made it their mission to warn students what not to wear.

Fliers, memos, workshops and more impart the admonitions.

“Unacceptable costumes” listed on a University of St. Thomas diversity flier are “wearing Native American headdresses, dressing up as a ‘Mexican’ by wearing a sombrero, dressing as a ‘geisha,’ any form of blackface.”

“Cultural appropriation is defined as ‘the act of taking intellectual and cultural expressions from a culture that is not your own, without showing that you understand or respect the culture,’” explains a University of St. Thomas diversity memo to students.

“This can be as simple as wearing a Dashiki without knowledge or respect to West African culture, and as serious as wearing a fake Native American headdress without any regard of its sacredness,” adds the memo. “It generally incorporates a history of prejudice and discrimination by perpetuating long-standing stereotypes.”

At UC Santa Barbara, a social justice workshop set for Tuesday will delve into how Halloween costumes abuse “indigenous wear” and teach students how to “spot appropriation with the help of bell hooks’ essay ‘Eating the Other.’”

At a “Conversation Circle” at Princeton University this Sunday, students will “engage in a dialogue about the impact of cultural appropriation, Halloween, and why culture is not a costume.”

MORE: Campus police to probe ‘offensive’ Halloween costumes, students told

guide put out by Northern Arizona University’s Housing and Residence Life warns against African-inspired get ups, a Pocahontas costume, Asian rice hats and more.

A workshop scheduled for Tuesday at the University of Southern Indiana will include a discussion of cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes and culminate with an opportunity for students to make their own costumes that
are “culturally appropriate,” according to an online event description.

An October letter written by members of University of Utah’s student affairs diversity council states: “As you get ready for Halloween here are some tips you can put into practice. Think to yourself: ‘Does the actual name on the costume packaging say ‘tribal’ or ‘traditional’? Does the costume include race related hair or accessories (dreads/locs, afros, cornrows, a headdress)? Does the costume play into racial stereotypes? … If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should rethink the costume and try again.”

Meanwhile, a “Not Your Festival Wear” workshop is slated for Oct. 24 at Minnesota State University Moorhead and Vanderbilt feminists will help to lead an event about cultural appropriation “just in time for Halloween,” its website states.

A “Halloween and Cultural Appropriation Tabling” at Goucher College earlier this month explained to students that the “scariest thing about your costume isn’t what you think,” and a cultural appropriation diversity workshop already took place at Texas A&M University onOct. 9.

The University of New Hampshire went so far as to host an entire cultural appropriation “teach in” last week that didn’t just stick to Halloween but also included Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos.

Original article: Banned Halloween Costumes


Anyone who has read more than one post of this blog knows well my feelings on the corrosive and regressive group-think commonly known as “political correctness.”

Totalitarianism is cruel and murderous.

But long before that it is imbecilic.

The reason why thinking men and women must eventually be shot in dictatorships is because, unlike the legions of the witless and cowardly, the wise and the strong never conform to despotism.

We got a far, far better deal.

Attack in Vegas

Vegas in shock

A gunman turned a Las Vegas concert into a killing field Sunday night from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, using at least 10 guns to rain down a steady stream of fire, murdering at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 others in the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.


Original aritcle: Vegas in Shock


Our thoughts and prayers for Las Vegas today.

What’s the Difference Between Socialism and Communism?

Too many of us are still clueless about socialism and communism. I blame biased media and fuzzy thinking.

Walter Duranty, long the Moscow Bureau Chief for the New York Times, spent many years defending Stalinist Russia. He won a Pulitzer Prize for it. And now, in 2017, theTimes has a series, called the Red Century. As Robert Tracinski notes at The Federalist, it’s mostly “a series of fond, nostalgic recollections about the good old days of twentieth-century Communism.”

Mass Murder

Still, sometimes, the truth leaks out. Last year, The Washington Post published a long piece by Ilya Somin. It’s about the “greatest mass murderer” in the world. Take the time to read the whole thing.

Guess who wins that grim prize. Maybe Hitler? Pol Pot? Stalin? No. It’s Mao Zedong, the leader of China’s communist revolution. “From 1958 to 1962,” Somin notes, “his Great Leap Forward policy led to the deaths of up to 45 million people — easily making it the biggest episode of mass murder ever recorded.” Let that sink in. In under five years, a government led by one man murdered 45 million of its own people.

Scholars have long known the basic stats. But historian Frank Dikötter has shown that the number is larger than previously thought. And many more of the deaths were deliberate, rather than “just” the outcome of bad policies that led to famine. Millions were tortured to death, often for minor crimes like digging up a potato.

Communism Bad, Socialism Good?

Alas, the delusion goes far beyond the media. Millennials don’t seem to know what the word socialism means. And even many who grant the evils of communism still try to defend socialism. Have a look at the comments on Ilya Somin’s piece about Mao Zedong. Over and over, readers chastise him for calling murderous Mao a “socialist” rather than a “communist.”

Lots of people seem to think “communism” just means “bad socialism.” But that ignores the meanings of words and Marxist theory itself.

What Marx Said

Here’s a brief primer: Marx and his disciples claimed that “capitalism” must give way to “socialism,” where private property would be abolished and an all-powerful state would own everything on behalf of the people. That’s what Marx meant by the word socialism, and that’s the main dictionary definition.

This was only supposed to be a stage, though, not the end of all our strivings. At some point, under socialism, people would lose their silly fondness for property, family, religion, and other evils. A “new socialist man” would emerge and then the state would “wither away.” Everyone would enjoy peace, prosperity, and the brotherhood of man. Marx and his acolytes called that final, stateless paradise “communism.”

Here’s the point: Those regimes led by mass murderers with their gulagsdeath camps, man-made famines and killing fields were socialist. That’s not slander. It’s what these countries called themselves. USSR stood for the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”

You gotta break millions of eggs with socialism to make the communist omelet. Socialism, you might say, was the necessary evil to reach the bliss where no state would be necessary.

That was sort of the theory anyway. In practice, socialism has just been evil. Unremitting evil, wherever it’s tried. Have a look at North Korea and now Venezuela. Socialism doesn’t lead to a higher plane of existence or a stateless utopia. It leads to a bottomless pit of immorality, poverty, and death.

Why would we expect anything different? It’s based on a false view of human nature, history, labor, property, economic value, capital, and the role of prices.

“Real” Communism?

In his great Washington Post piece, Ilya Somin asks why the horror of Mao’s cultural revolution has made so little impact on thinking in the West. Part of the problem, he thinks, is that the victims were mostly Chinese peasants. They’re far removed from the culture and experience of the average American. Out of sight, out of mind.

But there’s also, he argues, “the general tendency to downplay crimes committed by communist regimes.” That tendency is on full display in the New York Times series. It’s “overall thrust,” Robert Tracinski notes, “is summed up in a call to try Communism again, but maybe this time try not to have any gulags.”

This is the old chestnut that “real” communism just hasn’t been tried yet.

Frank Fleming had the best response to this claim on Twitter:

Frank Fleming Twitter

What does it mean to say “real” communism hasn’t been tried?

It could mean that no one has tried to apply Marx’s communist theory. That’s false. Lots of folks have tried it. And the results are always horrendous.

On the other hand, it could mean that no one’s tried to implement the stateless nirvana at the end of Marx’s story. (Remember, that’s what Marx and his followers meant by “communism.”) In that case, why aren’t those who say “true communism hasn’t been tried” calling for the abolition of the state altogether?

Yet more evidence that when it comes to communism and socialism, too many Americans are still clueless.

Original article: Communism v. Socialism


More of a primer than an technical analysis, but very good in the broad strokes.

Berkeley: The Modern Mind Prison

Given the endless circus of persecution of free thought at the University of California, Berkeley, it is well past time to declare this institution intellectually deceased.

The original motto of Fiat Lux (“Let there be light”) has long held little meaning at the University. One wonders if Fiat tenebrae (“Let there be darkness”) would not be a more apt, modern motto for this place.

The Portuguese Inquisition was established in 1536 and lasted officially all the way until 1821. The Auto-da- fé (“act of faith”) was an integral ritual of humiliation for anyone who dared to challenge the pathologically anti-Christian paganism, militarism and sadism of the Roman Catholic Church.

Remember them? Well, in our day and age we may not have to endure their voice, but we can still hear the echoes of their abuses.

Like hundreds, even thousands, of cults before and after it, Berkeley is openly hostile to any ray of light that might enlighten the trapped minds of their students.

If your “truth” cannot stand cross-examination…

odds are good it isn’t true — What good is it?

Doctrine is proved.

Dogma is beat into someone.

The Cadaver Synod: Low Point in the History of the Papacy

“And thereafter Stephan put Pope Formosus out of his tomb, and placed him in the Apostolic throne, and a deacon was delegated to answer for him, and his apostolic vestment was stripped off, and dragged across the basilica; and blood was flowing from his mouth, and he was thrown into the river.”

The Annales Alamannici describing the events in Rome for the year 897

The event this chronicler is talking about is the notorious Cadaver Synod, when one Pope put on trial the corpse of one of his predecessors. Perhaps the lowest point in the history of the Papacy, the story of this trial is as murky as it is strange. However, recent work by historians is starting to shed light on his this could have happened.

The accused in the Cadaver Synod was Pope Formosus, who occupied the Papal throne from 891 to 896. Before becoming Pope, Formosus had an eventful ecclesiastical career, serving as Bishop of Portus. He gained some success in converting the Bulgarians to Roman Catholicism, but this also made him some enemies within the Papal court – he was accused of plotting to become the Archbishop of Bulgaria, even seeking the Papacy too, and was excommunicated by a previous Pope. However, when that Pope died he was restored to his bishopric and later on was elected to become the new Papal leader.

Meanwhile, in the rest of western Europe the Carolingian Empire was near its end. Attacked in the north by the Vikings, and in the south by Muslim raiders, the once powerful state was failing. After seven years of inept rule, Emperor Charles the Fat was deposed, dying just a few weeks later. However, no strong ruler would take his place, with several men taking their share of the empire. The chronicler Regino of Prum expertly sums up the situation in the year 888, following the death of Charles the Fat.

After his death the kingdoms which had obeyed his authority, just as though a legitimate heir were lacking, dissolved into separate parts and, without waiting for a natural lord, each decided to create a king from its own guts. This was the cause of great wars; not because the Franks lacked leaders who by nobility, courage and wisdom were capable of ruling the kingdoms, but rather because the equality of descent, authority and power increased the discord among them; none so outshone the others that the rest deigned to submit to his rule. For Francia would have produced many leaders capable to controlling the government of the kingdom, had not fortune equipped them to destroy each other in the competition for power.

Pope Formosus would be enemies with Guy III of Spoleto, the Holy Roman Emperor, and according to one source he convinced Arnulf of Carinthia, King of East Francia, to invade Italy and push Guy away from Rome. In exchange, the Pope crowned Arnulf the new Emperor at a ceremony in Rome on February 22, 896.While the various rivals clashed throughout Europe, they also got involved in Papal politics. Ever since the coronation of Charlemagne in the year 800, the Papacy was viewed as the only legitimate body that could officially name an Emperor. But, as Michael Edward Moore explains, “by the time of Formosus, the ability to anoint the emperors was proving to be a curse more than a blessing. Because of their ability to crown the emperor of the west, and their position at the center of the political and religious world, the popes were engulfed in the violent politics of this period of rapid change.”

On April 4, 896, Formosus died and was buried in a Roman church. His immediate successor was Boniface VI, but he only last 15 days on the Papal throne before dying of gout. He would be replaced by Stephen VI, a longtime rival of Formosus.

As this was happening, Emperor Arnulf suffered a stroke and returned home north across the Alps. His health would never recover and he died on 8 December 899.

In January of 897, Pope Stephen VI ordered that the tomb of Formosus be opened up and his body exhumed. He wanted the former Pope put on trial, allegedly for supporting King Arnulf in becoming Emperor, and for coveting the Papacy years before. He was charged with breaking canon law, as well as of perjury, and of illegally serving as a bishop. Even if Formosus had been dead for several months, Stephen was eager to have his revenge on his corpse.

The decaying body was propped up onto a throne, and a trial was held with Pope Stephen acting as prosecutor. Meanwhile a young deacon was given the responsibility of defending Formosus, while a stunned audience watched the gross spectacle. According to various sources, Pope Stephen shouted at his dead predecessor, demanding he answer his charges. One chronicler, Liutprand of Cremona, noted that Stephen asked, “When you were bishop of Porto, why did you usurp the universal Roman See in such a spirit of ambition?”

The macabre and bizarre spectacle would soon reach its foregone conclusion – Formosus was found guilty. His body was stripped of its Papal vestments and three of his fingers were cut off from his right hand – those that he used to bless people. Finally, the body was tossed in the Tiber River, however the next day it was recovered by some monks and secretly buried in a monastery.

William Monroe, speaking at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, offers another theory on why the Cadaver Trial took place. He believes that when Arnulf of Bavaria entered Italy he actually forced Formosus to crown him emperor. The fact that the Pope died just five weeks later hints it might not have a natural death. Some evidence suggests that in the months following his death, Formosus was being viewed as a martyr and saint by the Romans.

Meanwhile, the new Pope, Stephen VI, was a creature of Arnulf, according to Monroe. However, when Arnulf became sick and abandoned Italy, Stephen began to fear the wrath of Lambert, the son of Emperor Guy III of Spoleto. Therefore, he decided to put the body of Formosus on trial as a kind of peace offering. The act also nicely synced with his own hatred for his predecessor, hoping that it would prevent him from becoming a saint by having his bodily destroyed.

If that indeed was Stephen’s plan, it would not save him. Within months Lambert had returned to Rome, and the Pope was imprisoned and strangled to death. A new synod was created, which destroyed the records relating to the Cadaver Synod, and proclaimed Lambert as emperor. Meanwhile, the remains of Formosus was returned for a proper reburial.

The terrible events of the Cadaver Synod seemed to have foreshadowed an era of decline within the Papacy. Throughout the tenth-century the Papal throne was fought for among local Roman elite families, who would bribe and kill each other. Several Popes would be murdered, others found themselves caught up in scandals. It would not be until the reforms of the mid-eleventh century the Papacy would regain some of its respectability and importance.

Original article: The Cadaver Synod