Thursday, December 8, 2016

Those People Were Always Ugly

William F. Buckley wrote on Sept. 8, 1964 about the Beatles: “They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as the crowned heads of anti-music.”

I seem to recall WFB calling Lennon a "vulgar Liverpudlian" on TV when Lennon was killed on this day in 1980. I couldn't confirm the quotation though. But from the National Review in 2005 this:

Dear Mr. Buckley: Request for a judgment call: It's about the use in the press of the verb "assassinate." 

It's been my understanding all my life that private citizens are "murdered." To be "assassinated" you have to be either a head of state or at least a political figure, and by the way doesn't your murder also have to be politically motivated, or at least appear to be? Gandhi, JFK, and Lord Mountbatten were assassinated. Bob Crane, Bonny Lee Bakley, and the Notorious BIG were murdered. Right or, wrong? 

I bring this up because, for 25 years now, I've been hearing from the news media that John Lennon was "assassinated." With the 25th anniversary of Lennon's murder approaching, I expect to hear it again. In my view, to claim "assassinated" status for John Lennon is to imply that he was an important political figure, which I'm sure is the intent of certain balding, pony-tailed journalists, nostalgic for the '60s, as they hum Give Peace a Chance, puff pot, and swill Metamucil. 

I say Lennon was murdered, not assassinated. What say you? 

Sincerely, K---

Dear Mr. K---: I agree. But perhaps the assassin--murderer-was putting on airs? 

Cordially, WFB

Isn't this just like those people? The letter writer sounds literate and reasonable, if a bit preening with vocabulary and tone, then takes off the mask and wallows in nasty stereotypes about the old hippies swilling Metamucil. And then there's Bill being puckishly mean, implying the killer was pretending to be more powerful than he was by killing somebody who mistakenly thought he was more influential than he was. Taking the occasion to sneer and jeer instead of simply noting a story of one troubled soul senselessly killing another troubled soul. 

But then those people express ugly, cruel opinions not because they hold those opinions. They are saying mean things for an effect, to disconcert and bewilder people like us, people they don't like. We had better not give them the satisfaction of getting a rise out of us. "You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength," said Marcus Aurelius.

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