Dear Dust

 

I was just reading about how that guy on FOX, Tucker Carlson, said that he thought Michael Vick should “have been executed,” for his role in the whole dog-fighting thing. Carlson then goes on to hammer Obama for saying Vick deserves a second chance. I’m an animal lover, so for a long time I hated Vick, too. But I do think people can learn and change. Our society tends to want to throw away what’s uncomfortable instead of dealing with it. What do you think?

 

Lassie

Dear Lassie

 

If they started executing people for being shrill, provincial, and willfully unaware of the damage their lopsided rhetoric inflicts upon the suggestible, Tucker Carlson would be at the front of the line–blindfold in hand. Barring that, in a sane world his prep-blazer stance on pretty much every issue except repealing the estate tax would at least be widely ignored. But this is not a sane world, and Carlson retains his time slot, so let us look dispassionately at the facts:

 

Michael Vick, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback with a massive fan base and a hundred-million dollar contract, allowed one of his houses to be used as a training center for dog-fighting. Although Bad Newz Kennels, as it was called, was mostly run by childhood friends, Vick himself participated in the “training” of some dogs, which involved what is essentially canine torture. Police found “rape stands,” pry bars, treadmills modified for dogs, blood-stained carpet, and fifty-five pit bulls. Vick admitted to having personally killed “six to eight” dogs by either hanging or drowning.

 

This is, of course, heinous behavior. The reception of pleasure from cruelty. The actions of a man seemingly without empathy, if not outright sociopathic in nature. Warranting swift and commensurate punishment.

Convicted of abetting an interstate dog-fighting ring, Vick spent two years in federal prison at Leavenworth. His NFL contract was voided. He was ordered to repay twenty million dollars in signing bonuses. Owning multiple homes, supporting a dozen family members, and having three children with two different women, he was forced into bankruptcy. As well as vilified by a hysterical press until every last ounce of titillation was squeezed from the story.

 

In this context, I think President Obama’s words were brave. They also raised numerous questions. Was Vick punished enough? Do people deserve a second chance?Is it healthy for society to ostracize parolees, particularly since eighty percent of those currently incarcerated will eventually become one? Did Vick’s celebrity factor into his sentencing? Would Payton Manning have been treated the same, better, or worse? Does race play into President Obama’s empathy for Vick’s situation? Finally, is a fall from grace, a term of imprisonment, a highly public apology, and a vow to radically change one’s perspective enough to forgive a man, regardless of his crime?

 

Michael Vick has returned to the NFL with a great deal of success. He seems to have made, at least on the surface, a transformation. Although it has come about with the help of a team of advisers and managers circling his post-prison earning potential, there’s an evident sincerity in Vick’s astonishment at the cruel stupidity of his actions, and his subsequent willingness to embrace change. Nevertheless, Vick remains a pariah in many quarters, and there will always be a stigma attached to his name, no matter what he achieves or how he lives the rest of his life.

In the meantime, Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson, Ivy League graduate and noted wearer of bow ties, could not be more of a caricature of privilege, inherited wealth, and the brand of conservatism that stems from having no context beyond his limited and rarefied personal experiences. Is he familiar with what it’s like to be locked in a 6×8 cell in Leavenworth for over 700 straight days? While Carlson was attending St. George’s prep, in Newport, Rhode Island, Vick was attending Ridley Circle Homes, the notorious housing project in Newport News, Virginia. Michael Vick is said to have attended his first dog-fight at the age of seven. He was raised in an environment of poverty, violence, and racial stigma. He was also, due to his evident physical gifts, selected as a child for athletic grooming. Much like a pit bull puppy, he was indoctrinated in the mores of an extremely violent sport for the financial benefit of others. A sport that is inextricably tied to gambling, callously discards its injured, and is divided (white, ownership) along absurdly polemic (black, players) racial lines.

 

Is Tucker Carlson fit to pronounce judgment on Michael Vick? Further, does Carlson display a sociopathy of his own, casting himself as an arbiter of justice, a man sure that he alone is imbued with the terrifying wisdom required to de-contextualize a crime?

 

If you take Carlson at face value, he is advocating the execution of a dog killer. Which means, by extension, he is also advocating the execution of the perpetrators of all crimes society deems more egregious than the killing of dogs. This would seemingly include murder in any context. Probably also rapists and pedophiles. What about attempted murderers? Incorrigible thieves? Drug dealers? Bank robbers? Enron executives? No matter where he draws the line, since there are over two million people incarcerated in America, by far the largest population in the world, he is advocating immediately executing hundreds of thousands of his countrymen.

 

Tucker Carlson fills the airwaves with speculation, titillation, and quarter-truths aimed at bolstering ratings–a loop that results in unearned celebrity and incredibly cynical economic benefit. In his unwavering allegiance to all things Rove-doctrinaire, he also regularly weaves a narrative of disdain around a call for stronger leadership–while lacking the ability to recognize when a politician is actually displaying it. No doubt President Obama knew aligning himself with Michael Vick was a loser in the polls. But he said what he believed.

Meanwhile, the suggestion of Michael Vick’s execution, and the sublimated racial animus contained within, should be open to its own commensurate judgment.

 

 

Dear Dust

 

Who would play Dust in a movie version of Ask The Dust?

 

Casting Director

 

Dear Casting Director

 

Well, Helvetica 12-point would probably be a good choice. Times New Roman hasn’t done anything good in years, and Courier Bold is deep into that whole tedious method-acting routine. Not to mention, I’ve heard, banging Julia Roberts.

Seriously, though? I’d go with Daniel Day-Lewis. No one else could deliver a line so convincingly about guzzling a Dust milkshake.

 

 

 

 

Most Sincerely,

 

The Dust

 

 

 

 

[email protected]

All contact information is entirely confidential

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J. ANGELUS DUST is not much interested in biography. J. Angelus Dust wants to know where it hurts.

41 responses to “Ask The Dust – Vol. 6”

  1. Becky Palapala says:

    But are you suggesting that because of his race and class that Carlson should not have an opinion, or not speak it? Or that his opinion doesn’t or shouldn’t count or that he should have one more like your own?

    I mean, my point isn’t to devalue or ignore the meat of your argument, which is essentially sound and, indeed, meaty. Certainly worthy of a whole other discussion. But that aside, in this relative outburst and the undercurrent of class warrior’s contempt within it, it is not difficult to discern, to my surprised delight, an actual human being behind the…the…

    What were those things on Dr. Who?

    Weeping Angel? Crying Angel? Those stone critters who ate you alive if you stopped looking at them.

    • Gloria says:

      Are you suggesting Dust might be an actual person and not just an algorithm, Becky? ‘Cause that’s the impression I’m getting, too.

      • Richard Cox says:

        Tucker Carlson is still on the air? I thought Jon Stewart shut him down.

        I’d like to see Tucker Carlson and Tucker Max in a fight-to-the-death cage match. That would be fun to watch.

        • Gloria says:

          Who would you cage fight to the death if you could, Richard?

          Me? Anne Coulter. Hands down. And she’s huge, too, and mean. But I ain’t scared… If Ayn Rand were alive, I’d change my answer.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I guess I can’t fight a chick, though I’d love to see you put the smack down on Nancy Grace.

          I suppose I’d like to smack Glenn Beck around for a while. He’s such an easy target, though. Maybe Sean Hannity. But that’s predictable, too.

          Oh! I know. Eli Manning! Overrated quarterback of the New York Giants.

        • Gloria says:

          How about this: I’ll cage fight Nancy Grace and you can take on Anne Coulter. Deal? I mean, sure she’s a chick but she’s at least as big as you and I’m pretty sure she has a penis. People would understand.

        • Matt says:

          Richard, smacking around Glenn Beck would be like beating up that pudgy kid in elementary school who made no attempt to defend himself other than blubbering and crying. Because, let’s face it, that’s exactly who he is. And you don’t even have to hit him to make him cry.

          That said, I’d like to take a swing at Mitch McConnell. Just to see those jowels wiggle.

          Now, full-on cage match? Hmmm…….

          Ah, got it.

          Michael Bay.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        If he’s not human, he’s definitely terrestrial. I don’t think they teach postmodern socio-political theory in the ether. Then again, I’ve never been there, except metaphorically.

        • Erika Rae says:

          I realize I’m a bit late to the game here, but if I could cage match someone to the death, I would have to say Nicolas Cage’s mother. Just, um, wanted to throw that out there.

  2. dwoz says:

    Dust, I have a question, not having been particularly up to speed on the whole Vick thing:

    …is the phrase “rape stands” something that was actually bandied about vis a vis the breeding of CHATTEL?

    If so, I must, with utmost chagrin and remorse, turn myself in to the authorities for the vicious and heinous crime I committed last year, that of turning two year-old ewes out to pasture with a virile ram, allowing them to be raped for the express purpose of obtaining ill-gotten economic gain, in the form of their three cute little lamb offspring.

    I just assumed that the classification of chattel pretty much included the right to decide those things. I never really gave the ewe’s feelings and desires any thought.

    Am I going to hell?

    (to the room: I don’t however condone or suffer cruelty or mistreatment to animals, at all.)

  3. dwoz says:

    Dust, you strike me as being a Lucida Sans, or possibly Copperplate Gothic.

    Decidedly fresher and more modern than a Palatino or a Caslon, with their willowy long ascenders and petit x-height.

    Not as boldly colored as a univers, and well, helvetica is just too busy these days.

  4. Gloria says:

    What Vick did was gross and perverse, Dust, and I do feel like his punishment wasn’t inline with the crime – it should’ve been longer and harsher. That said, a whole jury and a judge or two disagrees with me and that’s the punishment he got. So, he’s done his time for his crime. Natural athletic ability aside, I’d prefer to see Vick have to take a job as a locksmith or doing surveys online or selling his blood – or whatever else the average ex-con is forced to do after being paroled, rather than going back to his multi-million dollar paying sports gig, but, again, what do I know? I was raised with a skewed need for poetic justice (thanks, Hollywood!) so I, unlike Tucker Carlson, will admit that I’m the last person on the planet qualified to mete out justice to anyone beyond my own children, and even then I’m not always sure I’m doing it right.

    Tucker Carlson is a spoiled moron and I’m really glad that he can say what he has to say without actually being able to enact any of it. Dumb-dumb.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      If given the opportunity to choose whether or not Vick was executed, do we think Carlson would choose the option?

      Or are we decontextualizing a bit? Isn’t this simply the kind of ratings and chatter-winning rhetorical bluster that we are willing to acknowledge as such whenever we aren’t trying to use it as commensurate proof that one of these talking heads is the embodiment of evil?

      • Gloria says:

        Do you mean that if Carlson were handed a gun and license to execute Vick without any legal repercussions, do I think he’d change his tune?

        I do.

        I think he’s just blah, blah, blahing because he can and there aren’t any actual consequences for the hot air he’s expending in the form of words.

        Now, whether Carlson embodies good or evil is a whole other discussion.

      • Richard Cox says:

        “…the kind of ratings and chatter-winning rhetorical bluster that we are willing to acknowledge as such whenever we aren’t trying to use it as commensurate proof that one of these talking heads is the embodiment of evil?”

        Of course. It’s the culture of 24 hour cable news and opinion shows, not particularly Carlson or Olbermann or any of them.

        Except Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace. Just kidding. Or not.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Well, that’s another thing.

          As far as conservative talking heads go, Carlson is fairly tame. Even moderate, all things being relative.

          Liberals aren’t ashamed to trot him out if he says something sympathetic to their cause, which he does, on occasion.

  5. Becky Palapala says:

    Okay. I can’t keep in the serious commentary any more:

    I’d be willing to bet that any number of people who aren’t Tucker Carlson, including any number of more vehement, leftward-leaning animal rights people have said the exact same thing Carlson said about Vick. Many of them not rich, many not even white, and most of them, most adamantly, I’d assume, not conservatives.

    That Carlson’s reaction to Vick is necessarily or presumptively a function of his wealth or whiteness or politics or that any indictment of his statements even need involve a treatise about his wealth and whiteness makes no rational sense to me. It makes no sense to go there except for from an utterly dogmatic/demagogic perspective. Like, you’re talking about Tucker Carlson, but you’re not talking about Tucker Carlson. He’s serving as a vehicle for a whole host of loosely-related political grievances.

    Much like Vick, for Tucker, was just a vehicle for a whole host of loosely-related (and potentially symbolic) grievances against Obama.

    The way to dis-ally Tucker from that potentially very liberal group is to ignore the reaction to Vick and focus on the criticism of Obama. While many of the more vehement animal rights folks probably don’t have any love for Obama’s defense of Vick, it is probably true that most would not flame him publicly for it.

    But if you ignore the Vick thing, you’re left with this headline:

    “Spectacle News Journalist Flames President from Opposing Political Party; No One Even a Little Surprised.”

    • Fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Becky Palapala! Mr. Dust says:

      “In answer to your question as to what I’m suggesting, it’s that Tucker Carlson, in his position as a fair and balanced commentator, clearly has not overcome, let alone examined, the ingrained biases of his background. Those biases make him ill-equipped to recommend the death of another man. A recommendation that should not be allowed to be dismissed as mere posturing. I am also suggesting that with a history of making snidely ignorant, purposely divisive, and comically classist statements, his denigration of President Obama’s stance on the matter is not one I’m inclined to agree with.”

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Well, of course, your disinclination to agree is certainly something you have every right to.

        What I find interesting is how much you’re able to draw about Carlson’s personal inner workings from his political stance. This is why I mentioned demagoguery.

        Out of curiosity, I checked into his educational background. He appears to have been a history major. I find it difficult to believe that he never crossed paths with race/socioeconomic theory in his years at Trinity College. The likelihood that he is ignorant of or has never been forced to give thought to his background and the privilege thereof seems low to me.

        Especially since he is in a line of work where it is his job to take flak and hear from people who disagree with him how his failure to agree with them, naturally, could only result from lack of thought on his part.

        I suspect, for better or worse, that he has given plenty of thought to it and simply arrived at a different conclusion.

        I also suspect that his history of divisive statements is more owing to his job than any deep-seated intellectual shortcomings. I don’t know about classist. Were they classist statements, or just conservative statements and therefore, in your opinion, classist in the way that anyone who isn’t conservative and/or Tucker Carlson is, theoretically (I only guess because you haven’t spoken to it), perfectly free to think, say or hope that animal abusers be likewise abused without threat of similar accusations?

        I’m saying, I guess, that I find your reaction a bit dramatic. A bit of a caricature of race/class politics. While it is likely true that Carlson’s life of privilege influences his views just as anyone’s life influences his/her views, the incredible personal contempt you clearly feel for him or anyone you deem like him and the condemnations you’re willing to draw down upon him for what was, relatively speaking, a tame remark and one that countless animal lovers across the country have likely made, betrays a lack of objectivity–and, frankly, a divisiveness–that makes me disinclined to trust your opinion. Mostly because it makes me wonder how different from him you actually are.

        That said, for what it’s worth, Tucker is sorry, confirms my suspicions that he is simply a dog lover.

        http://voices.washingtonpost.com/early-lead/2011/01/tucker_carlson_says_he_overspo.html

        I mean, that explanation does have Occam’s Razor working for it, you’ve got to admit. That’s the reason just about any person would say it, and the reason most other people in the world would suspect a person said it, were that person not on FOX News.

        • Richard Cox says:

          “This is what happens when you get too emotional…” clarifies Carlson.

          Perfect example of why his job and the entire industry are destructive. He can express a desire to have a man executed, and then appear on another biased journalist’s television program and recant and that makes it okay? I’m no fan of Mike Vick, but I have to admit his contrition seems a lot more honest than Tucker’s.

          And further, this is also why it’s difficult to trust any political pundit’s point of view on anything to do with real government. Their clear hatred for the opposing party and their leaders is not journalism, and we consumers of those entertainment news programs should be ashamed at ourselves for supporting their efforts.

          My opinion of what Tucker’s really saying is, “This is what happens when you get so consumed by your hatred for Barack Obama that you’ll say anything to incite the lay public into sharing said hatred. Now can someone get me the overnight Nielsen numbers?”

          And yes, it works both ways. The latter Bush received his fair share of meaningless media hatred as well.

          It’s so fucking depressing.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          The more I read, the more I’m inclined to believe it was a bit of emotional hyperbole. Tucker is no fan of the death penalty, and sources recounting the event describe it as having been offhand or interjected as an emotional comment might be.

          That said, I’m in no position to take an impassioned stance on whether or not Carlson–or Vick, for that matter–is being sincere or how deeply/humanly they’ve been affected by their respective scandals. That’s sort of a pointless thing to ponder as far as I’m concerned. No one knows those men’s minds but them. And maybe their wives/girlfriends.

          The obligatory retraction/rollback is nothing new in PR and in both conservative and liberal politics. It was to be expected from both of them. Their behavior will tell if they learned anything or not.

          God knows the American public won’t learn sheeeat.

    • dwoz says:

      I just don’t see how the words “very liberal” can EVER apply to today’s political spectrum.

      I mean, BERNIE SANDERS would likely have voted with Barry Goldwater about half the time, had they been contemporaries.

      “liberal” doesn’t exist any more, except as a punching bag for radio commentators.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        dwoz, if you think you couldn’t find a “very liberal” person (even many of them) within the ranks of an organization like PETA, which is the context in which I used the descriptor, then I am baffled. If you’re talking about anything else, I am still baffled because this is a total non-sequitur.

        • dwoz says:

          It really isn’t too hard to find, if you’re looking for it. It’s like finding leaves on the ground in autumn.

          The MSM has completely redefined the word “liberal” and you’ve used it in EXACTLY the way they use it. The new definition of “liberal” is (*for example, when used by Rush Limbaugh) “less conservative than me and probably a retard.”

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I’m talking about “more vehement, leftward-leaning animal rights people.” Who I called “potentially very liberal.” Do these people exist or not? Is there or is there not the potential for very liberal people in an animal rights group?

          Aside from refusing to join the tedious and predictable, intellectually lazy parade of violent fantasies and demagogy that ensues whenever anyone brings up anything related to Fox News around here, I have said nothing here that aligns me with Rush Limbaugh and certainly not MSM. I’m liberal arts all the way. What the MSM does is none of my concern, I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, and despite being the lone conservative, I apparently watch less Fox News than everybody else in this room.

          Whatever pointless pot-stirring or invitation to tangential banter this digression is, I’m not interested.

        • dwoz says:

          so then your invocation of “liberal” was just a straw man? The thing is, whatever Tucker Carlson’s humanity-based outrage over animal cruelty may be, the issue is his conservative take on crime and punishment.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Oh! You mean the one where he’s against the death penalty?

  6. Joe Daly says:

    Letter 1: Agree. I’m a longtime animal rights supporter, and when the Vick allegations were borne out, I would have been happy to see him shot in the face several times. My rage was insatiable. I would go for runs listening to super black metal and in my mind, picture vignettes of him being tortured and killed like the beautiful spirits that he terrorized and extinguished during his pitiful life. My anger tasted great.

    I heard the arguments that his upbringing contributed to this behavior, and that he was raised in a culture where this cruelty was not just tolerated but celebrated. Such apologies held no water with me, because they essentially say that where someone grows up surrounded a condition, that person’s ability to reason and to separate good from bad is impaired to the point that their bad behavior is excused, it not expected.

    But I also believe in second chances and redemption. It was with enormous reluctance and guilt that I found myself forgiving Michael Vick (in my mind), for his inexcusable horrors. I don’t care what price he paid- what matters to me is whether or not he can be redeemed, which I think means that he truly recognizes his conduct for what it was, that he comes to a deeper understanding of the consequences, and that he gives a good faith effort to make amends where possible. He might just be there, but it’s not for me to judge. I can, however, allow myself to condemn his behavior, while hoping that he finds new perspectives that align against cruelty and in support of decency.

    Tucker Carlson strikes me an analytical simpleton who promotes populism and extremism over reason and thoughtful debate. While I would have found myself supporting his revenge fantasies, I see that in doing so, I would have been indulging my lower impulses. The law is a living, breathing body that is the reflection of hundreds of years of practice and debate. It cannot be set aside on a case-by-case basis, where we find circumstances to be particularly egregious. The law has been carried out as prescribed. Like it or not, it is small-minded and short sighted to advocate new grounds for the death penalty, absent a careful review of law, society, and public policy.

    Letter 2: Disagree. John Forsythe (RIP) would have been the best candidate, reprising his Charlie’s Angels voice acting role. Currently the only actor who could credibly play the Dust would be James Remar.

    • Dana says:

      Comment 1: Agree. Wholeheartedly.

      Comment 2: Disagree. Dexter’s daddy is a scary man. I feel a real sweetness emanating from the Dust, so my pick would be Abe Vigoda.

      • Gloria says:

        I’d like to vote for Alan Alda.

        • Fabian says:

          Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Dana and Gloria! Mr. Dust says:

          “Vigoda and Alda may indeed have some truth to them, but I know when we turn off the lights, Mrs. Dust sees a twenty-two year old David Niven.”

    • Richard Cox says:

      Well said, Joe. I can’t believe I ever called you a pundit. You’re the opposite of that.

      P.S. Received the tickets.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      This whole discussion has touched off an interesting round of internet perusal for me.

      I knew very little about Tucker Carlson, except that, among the ranks of conservative pundits, he was generally considered by my liberal friends to be among the more palatable.

      One thing I was surprised to discover was that the first thing that seemed undone was the notion that he is unthinking or unintellectual or uninterested in thoughtful debate.

      Believe me when I say that I expected to find just another Spectacle News shitbag, and though he may be one of those in a number of respects, he left me relieved on many accounts.

      For example, unless he has changed his tune, he appears to support gay marriage, is “uncomfortable with the death penalty under any circumstances,” and was perhaps the only pundit calling for a civil, exhaustive, and objective debate on the death penalty during the 2000 pres. race, during which time he also went toe-to-toe with the Bush campaign for publishing some deeply unflattering, mocking remarks Bush had made about a death row inmate.

      He did much (though not all) of this while he was with CNN. Whether or not his position at the VRWC-decried “Clinton New Network” forced him to greater balance just as being at Fox may encourage more vitriol, I at least can say that the impression he gives is not one of the unthinking/unthoughtful neo-con robot that most people, by reflexive action, are inclined to assign to anyone associated with Fox.

      Many signs point to him being, in fact, among the more thoughtful and independently-minded among pundits.

      The fact that he is inherently distrustful of the death penalty suggests that his comment was not the least bit intended to suggest that Vick should, in fact, receive it. It sounds as if the spirit of it was much more akin to Joe’s reaction.

      I maintain that the hysterical public outcry over this is a tremendous and embarrassing case of the people allowing themselves to be dutifully led around by warring news organizations who literally survive on the contempt they can cause among half the populace for the other half of the populace.

      That goes for both the Fox shitbags and whatever anti-Fox shitbag snatched hold of this unnews soundbite and trotted it out under the headline, “Carlson wants death penalty for Vick!” for the American public going, “WOO HOO! The next big scandal! This should be good for another month of sinister, willful balkanization!”

    • Becky Palapala says:

      (Sorry, Joe, for referring to you in the 3rd person in a comment to you. I’ve got responses to about 3 different comments crammed in here, I think.)

    • Fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Joe Daly! Mr. Dust says:

      “I too support animal rights, and remain disgusted by the details of the crime. But I didn’t feel that was germane to the argument. I do think there’s an interesting additional train of thought regarding a peculiarly American allegiance to dog’s rights as being more important than those of many other animal’s. But that’s a whole other discussion. In any case, I admire your ability to separate your emotional response from a more nuanced take on the nature of forgiveness.”

  7. Regardless of what was said about Michael Vicks, I get the feeling we in Philadelphia and bordering counties will be waiting to see if he would lead the Eagles to an actual Superbowl victory in this existing universe before we execute him or let him go back to his multi-million dollars condo. GOOO EAGLES!

  8. […] — Michael Vick, Tucker Carlson, and who is the bigger asshole […]

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