Their Punishment Is Their Life

I just finished a fascinating book on the disintegration of French culture and national life, but one of the most striking things about the book was a comment the author (Denis Boyles) made in passing on the last page.

“I was once a college teacher, and as those who teach know, the politics of the English department are more ruthless and cut-throat than the politics of the real world. Once, while trying to help a friend with five kids and a pregnant wife keep his job, I was forced to realize that the guy I was trying to help was working behind my back to get me fired so he could take my job. I didn’t know if I should go after the guy or what. So I turned to my own mentor, an old Joycean Jew from the Bronx, and asked him what he thought I should do. He told me to forget it. ‘His punishment,’ he promised, ‘will be his life.’ And so it has been, to this very day.”

His punishment will be his life.

I immediately thought of our odd collection of secularist intoleristas and their evangelical fellow travelers. The situation here in Moscow is getting stranger and curiouser by the day, and the only question now is when the city fathers . . . oops, can’t talk like that any more. When the city parents . . . I don’t like that either. When the city caregivers will make a public announcement that they are going to reintroduce the criterion of sanity, and they will not allow those who have petty grievances wound tight around the axle of their hearts to fill out a complaint that requires everyone else to throw common sense out the window.

For those who want to read the news stories on the latest doings, you can find them here. But the short form of it is that the bogus zoning charge filed against New St. Andrews happens to apply in exactly the same ways, and for the same “reasons,” to Moscow High School. And one public-spirited citizen, in order to illustrate this fact, has now filed a complaint against Moscow High School.

Please keep in mind there is a vast difference between those who are filing complaints in order to run certain Christian schools out of town, and those filing complaints in order to illustrate and prove (in real time) that an equitable application of these laws would be crazy. And it is worth stating here that an inequitable application of them would be illegal.

In the midst of this hooplah, if those individuals who are the cause of all these troubles were found in Friendship Square under a full moon at midnight, sticking pins in voodoo dolls with the names of all the Christ Church elders on them, they would still brazen it out. “Oh, we are doing this for the love of the code, for the safety of the kids, for the future of Moscow, so that (our kind of) tolerance can reign once more, for the rule of law, and take that, Doug Jones!” For those who have come to this impasse, their punishment is their life.

But what are we to say about those city officials who are responsible to see to it that our laws, appeals processes, complaints, filings, and so on, are not abused by people with personal problems? When will they say that enough is enough?

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