Politics and Divided Support

On Politics: Is “Divided Support” Even Among Those Who Happen to Share a Particular Characteristic of a Certain Candidate Cause for Concern, or Simply Par for the Course?

By Ken K. Gourdin

This item, from Salt Lake Tribune columnist Paul Rolly, about the Salt Lake City mayoral race, caught my eye. Seemingly, Rolly makes much ado about the fact that the so-called “gay vote” is divided even though one of the candidates, Jackie Biskupski, is gay. See here, last accessed September 28, 2015: http://www.sltrib.com/news/2991055-155/rolly-lgbt-community-flexes-its-muscles.

I don’t understand all of the handwringing about so-called “divided support.” That’s what happens in elections and political campaigns: one person supports one candidate, and another person supports another, even when those two people share a certain characteristic in common. Some people are of one mind on a particular question or issue, and some people are of another. Even people who happen to share one or more of that candidate’s characteristics won’t think exactly alike on every issue. And even those who agree on one issue are apt to disagree on another. Indeed, to think otherwise is, at best, narrow-minded, and is, at worst, bigoted.

Yet that’s exactly what some people think will (or worse, what they think should) happen when people run for office: if a candidate is African-American, African-Americans automatically will support him regardless of his positions. If a candidate is a woman, women automatically will support her regardless of her positions. If a candidate is gay or lesbian, gays and lesbians automatically will support him or her regardless of the positions the candidate holds.

Or is it really OK to mindlessly cast a straight-party vote—as long as the vote is for the “right” party? (Before you start wondering where my own loyalties lie, while I do lean conservative, I’ve never cast a straight-party vote in my entire voting life, and I don’t intend to start. As for my positions on issues, many of those, too, might surprise you. For example, while I don’t support gay marriage, I voted against Utah’s Proposition 3, which would have amended the state’s constitution to recognize only marriage between a man and a woman, because I felt it would simply encourage litigation. (It took a few years, but I was right.)

I have a disability: if I, in running for office, were simply to take for granted the support of all disabled voters simply because we have that one characteristic in common, I would expect them to wonder why I don’t believe they can think for themselves, especially since autonomy is such a big issue for many (if not most) of the disabled. True, my analogy isn’t perfect, because no two disabilities (even those that are similar) are exactly alike, and disability cuts across gender, race, socioeconomic, and other lines. However, that diversity simply strengthens my argument rather than weakening it.

There isn’t a political candidate alive for whom I’ve voted because I agree with him or her on absolutely everything, or simply because we happen to share a common characteristic. I’ve always tried to bear in mind the old axiom that if two people are of exactly the same opinion on absolutely everything, one of them is unnecessary. And however we might disagree, I certainly don’t think you’re unnecessary.

If I ever run for office and you have an opportunity to cast a vote for that office, I hope you’ll vote for me because we agree on a preponderance of the issues and because you think I’m the best candidate running for that office. Don’t vote for me (or not) because of how I look (or not) or because we both happen to be disabled (or not). I hope you respect me for the courage of my principled convictions even where we disagree, and I will accord you the same courtesy.

Whether you’re African-American, Asian American, Native American, Caucasian, Hispanic, Latino, or the one-eyed, one-horned, pigeon-toed, undergrowed, Flyin’ Purple People Eater; whether you’re a man, a woman, or somewhere in between; whether you’re gay, straight, or bisexual; whether you have a disability or not; vote for (or against) me if I ever run for office, or for (or against) anyone else, for reasons having nothing to do with whatever characteristics you might share (or not).

I’m Ken Gourdin, and I approved this message.

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Kim Davis is Wrong

I Don’t Support Gay Marriage, But Kim Davis is Wrong

By Ken K. Gourdin

Unless you’ve emerged from under a rock very recently or don’t follow current events beyond what happens on the latest episode of Survivor, you know that Rowan County, Ky. Clerk Kim Davis recently was held in contempt of court and jailed for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Ms. Davis is entitled to her fervently-held religious convictions as to what God thinks of gay marriage. She also is entitled to allow those convictions to guide her actions and expressions about gay marriage—and other issues that are likely to be informed by one’s religious convictions—in many arenas of her life. My religious tradition holds: (1) that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God; and (2) that sex outside of marriage is wrong. I suspect that Ms. Davis’s views are similar, and that her views on those issues are informed by her religious convictions, just as her views on gay marriage are.

Just as Ms. Davis does, I, too, disagree with the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges holding that gay marriage is now the law of the land in all 50 states. Just as I suspect Ms. Davis does, I agree with the justices in the minority, who saw no reason to depart from long-established Tenth Amendment precedent leaving marriage as a matter to be decided by the citizens of each of the respective states. All of that having been said, here’s the thing: Ms. Davis is a public official. As a public official, she is bound to follow the law as it is proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court, even if she disagrees with it.

While I would be sympathetic to Ms. Davis if she were to invoke a civil disobedience argument, I suspect that, like many people who proclaim their right to civil disobedience, Ms. Davis wants to have her cake and eat it, too: civil disobedience entails acting upon one’s conscience in contravention of, e.g., a court opinion proclaiming gay marriage as the law of the land in all fifty states—and accepting the consequences of that choice, including such legal consequences as being held in contempt and being subject to whatever penalty a court, in its sound discretion, sees fit to impose for one’s civil disobedience. That is so even if that penalty entails being held in contempt and jailed, or losing one’s job because she can no longer, in good conscience, perform all of the duties associated with the position to which the people of her jurisdiction elected her.

Ms. Davis’s position is no different than that of, say, a police officer who believes, for example, that marijuana is comparatively harmless (and may even be beneficial in many circumstances) and that it, therefore, should be legalized. If marijuana is illegal in his jurisdiction, and if he were to refuse to arrest someone for a marijuana-related offense, I would expect his superiors to impose appropriate disciplinary action. If he were to say, “I’m simply exercising my right to civil disobedience,” I would say, “Fine. Then you will acquiesce without complaint to whatever adverse consequences may ensue as a result.”

I’m reminded of the Scripture in the Holy Bible in which his detractors, in an attempt to entrap Jesus, asked him if it was lawful to render tribute to Caesar. I won’t claim to know the mind of the Lord of the Universe, but it wouldn’t surprise me if, on a personal level, he felt the same way about taxes imposed by the Romans as many of his countrymen did. He probably didn’t like them very much, and he probably questioned many of the uses to which the government revenue they generated were put. On a personal level, he probably had more than a few reasons to disclaim the necessity of paying taxes to the Romans, but he didn’t do that. What did he say, instead, in response to their disingenuous query? He said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s” (see Luke 20:25 in The Holy Bible).

And I would tell Ms. Davis the same thing. As a public official, she doesn’t get to pick and choose the laws with which she will comply and those with which she will not—what she will “render unto Caesar”; she will “render unto Caesar” what the law says she must—or she will face the consequences. Yes, marriage was a religious institution long before the government ever got involved. Yes, there are, in my view (and in the view of many others, both religiously devout and not) important distinctions that make opposite-sex marriage profoundly different qualitatively than its same-sex counterpart. No, I don’t believe that religious “freedom” as those who crafted the First Amendment intended it should be circumscribed to mean (as courts have done so commonly in recent years) the “freedom” to do and to say what one wishes—within the walls of one’s holy place on one’s holy day.

All of that having been said, the fact still remains that Ms. Davis is wrong: She may not agree with the consequences of Obergefell v. Hodges as they relate to how she does her job, and, on a personal level, she’s entitled to feel however she wishes about those consequences. But that doesn’t excuse her from doing her job as the Supreme Court now construes it. She’s entitled to invoke her right to civil disobedience—as long as she is prepared to deal, without protest or complaint (though that does not, in my mind, include foregoing public statements about why she’s doing what she’s doing, lest her act of civil disobedience lose its impact), with whatever consequences happen to ensue as a result, even if those consequences include getting thrown in jail or losing her job.

Update, September 26, 2015: Judge Andrew Napolitano Agrees With Me – One who disagrees with me might dismiss the foregoing as the mere ramblings of a minimally-credentialed, minimally-academically-capable dimwit. Fine. But Judge Andrew Napolitano, who is far better credentialed and far more academically capable, agrees with me. In a recent column that I found at Jewish World Review (see here, last accessed September 25, 2015: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0915/napolitano091015.php3) Napolitano writes:

The Free Exercise Clause guarantees individuals the lawful ability to practice their religion free from government interference. It does not permit those in government to use their offices to deny the rights of those who reject their beliefs. That is the lesson for Kim Davis.

Napolitano also has an interesting solution to Davis’s dilemma which would safeguard her right to remain true to the conscience of her religious convictions. He writes:

I would have removed her authority to issue marriage license applications and assigned it to others in the Kentucky state government, and directed them to issue the applications in accordance with the law. That would have kept Davis free and her conscience clear, and permitted those in Rowan County to get married to whom they choose.

Napolitano’s proposed solution is a good one for the Davis case, but, as an ad hoc measure, it does not address the wider potential problem of public officials in general being compelled to act against their religious conscience. One potential solution to the wider problem is to include qualifying language in statutes that outline the duties of public officials. For example, a statute directing county clerks to issue marriage licenses could state that such duties must be performed by the clerk—or by her designee.

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A Funny Take on Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

Funnier Than Heck and Gorgeous at the Same Time: Shannon Christensen Abbott’s Take on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

By Ken K. Gourdin

This is an interesting combination of “funnier than heck” and “gorgeous” at the same time. (One doesn’t often see those two terms used in the same sentence …) This woman is crazy-talented and wicked-talented. Something tells me her fame eventually will extend well beyond a measly couple million YouTube hits. (Make sure your sound is turned on.) I’m sure all you moms will be able to relate, and everyone—mom or not—is in for a treat:


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Gray Settlement Prejudices Justice

Baltimore’s Settlement in the Gray Case, Along With Officials’ Public Statements, Lacks All Proportionality and Prejudices Justice Against Those Charged in His Death

By Ken K. Gourdin

The city of Baltimore’s recent agreement to settle with the family of Freddie Gray, who died under disputed circumstances while in police custody, raises troubling questions.

This post shouldn’t be read as conveying a lack of sympathy to Freddie Gray’s family and friends. While I’m not comparing Mr. Gray to Hitler in any way, there is that old saying that Hitler’s dog even loved him. As I’ve pointed out on the Blog before, it’s not only those who are preyed upon by criminals who are victimized by crimes; the friends and family of criminals are victimized, too, when they lose the companionship of loved ones who are incarcerated.

For example, the young boy who, with a jam-smeared face, brought his mother a bouquet of sunflowers is not the same person who grew up to commit (and to be incarcerated, and perhaps executed, for) perhaps-heinous crimes. Few, if any, parents set out to rear criminals, and even most who are guilty of bad parenting are, at the worst, indifferent. See the following address, last accessed today: https://www.greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/the-imperfect-balance/. Whatever crimes he did or did not commit, Freddie Gray was probably no worse than an average drug user, and if people still can love even those who commit heinous crimes, they still can love someone like Freddie Gray. In no way am I disputing that fact.

Sometimes, municipalities and other purportedly “deep-pocketed” defendants will offer a settlement, not because they’re liable, but rather to avoid protracted, expensive litigation, and because it’s better to pay less in a settlement initially than it would be to pay for protracted litigation, only to be held liable for a judgment of (possibly) millions of dollars later on (after a verdict at trial). The city of Baltimore’s agreement to pay the family of Freddie Gray, who died under disputed circumstances (although six Baltimore Police officers have been charged with murder in his death) $6 million makes me wonder how much the mayor and the city attorney thought the city might’ve been on the hook for if an adverse judgment had resulted after trial.

Yes, people may have depended on Freddie Gray for their livelihood, but $6 million? That’s a lot of lost earning power. Was Mr. Gray an aspiring rapper or an aspiring athlete? (Not, I’ll hasten to add, that I’m arguing that any rapper or athlete actually is worth that much.) I admit, I’ll never be an aspiring rapper or athlete. Still, I’m at least as smart and as capable as Freddie Gray was in certain areas, but even I’ll never come close to $6 million in lifetime earnings. Another thing that’s often compensated in such settlements is the loss of the deceased person’s companionship. But $6 million? Mr. Gray must’ve been absolutely the life of quite a few parties among his family and friends.

It makes me wonder how much the mayor and the city attorney thought Baltimore would have been held liable to pay if the city had lost a civil suit at trial. (Not to mention the fact that agreeing to a settlement before the cases against the officers charged in his death go to trial likely greatly lessens the chances that those trials will be fair: “The city’s already agreed to pay the family $6 million,” potential jurors might reason. “Why would it do that if these officers were innocent?” The settlement (or at least its timing) is yet another in a long chain of actions by Baltimore city officials that has made it difficult (if not impossible) for these officers to get a fair trial.

There seems to be a troubling trend of intemperateness and unwiseness by public officials in their statements and actions that tends to prejudice justice (and Baltimore city officials’ statements and actions regarding the Freddie Gray case are but the latest examples). While President Barack Obama wasn’t the first (and won’t be the last) such public official, he is perhaps the highest-profile. See here, last accessed today:


In their public statements about race and about the Ferguson shooting and its aftermath, respectively, Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon are two more examples. Before the controversy regarding events in Ferguson had died down I wrote the following about Holder and Nixon:

It remains to be seen . . . , given the facts that Attorney General Eric Holder has publicly said that the U.S. is full of “cowards” when it comes to race and that a large portion of the animus toward President Obama is based, not on disagreement with his policies, but rather, on his race – whether sending Holder to Ferguson will be any better [than President Obama going himself]. . . .

. . . While President Obama has avoided injecting himself into the current controversy, alas, the same cannot be said of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. Nixon should have said that investigators and the grand jury are obligated to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Instead, he presumed the investigation’s outcome – and [now former Ferguson Mo. Police] Officer [Darren] Wilson’s guilt.

Ken K. Gourdin (August 26, 2014) “Holder, Nixon may complicate justice in Ferguson,” Tooele Transcript-Bulletin (Utah) A4.

Baltimore City Attorney Marilyn Mosby made similar statements when announcing the charges that had been filed in the wake of Gray’s death.   Whatever compensation anyone may feel Freddie Gray’s loved ones deserve, it should be remembered that when it comes to such settlements by municipalities, there is no “they” and “them”: there is only us—taxpayers. In an age of increasing rates of municipal bankruptcy, any sympathy for Gray’s family and friends, and any desire to see that they are compensated for his loss should be balanced against that reality.

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Bored, Entitled Teens With Nothing Better to Do than to Try to Get Their (Alleged) Boyfriends to Kill Themselves

A Word About Michele Carter

By Ken K. Gourdin

Michele Carter is a 17-year-old girl whom prosecutors charged with manslaughter after her alleged boyfriend committed suicide following her repeated messages urging her to do so.  The Associated Press’s story on the alleged crime is found here (last accessed today): http://www.sltrib.com/news/2928501-155/teen-charged-with-encouraging-her-boyfriend.  I commented as follows:

I don’t know what this girl did or didn’t do; that’s up to prosecutors to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt (or not). That said, what is that look on her face? Is that boredom? Is that, “I’m a good-looking, entitled, rich, white girl, yet I can’t believe all of the hoops I’m gonna have to jump through before I can finally go home”? Something else? Some combination? Whatever it is, it certainly seems as far from, “something happened that I didn’t intend in any way but couldn’t prevent, and I’ve lost ‘the love of my life’ as a result” as one can get.

I’ll hasten to add that I’m probably not very good at reading people sometimes, and my response to stories that provoke comments on mugshots (which I recognize that this is not, but a similar principle might apply), is, “Duh! Nobody EVER looks good/at his-her best in a mugshot! In a way, that’s kind of the point!” And, “alleged text messages”? While there might be a dispute about meaning and about what consequences (if any) she should face, is there some sort of a dispute about whether she actually sent them? Is she opting for the last resort of so many of the famous after their public relations people (who are incredulous at having to actually say it) tell them, “Ummm, [fill-in-the-blank-with-famous-figure’s-name-here], you realize these messages aren’t gonna make you look good … right?” and claiming her Twitter account [yeah, OK, this is SMS, but still] was hijacked?

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A Snide Comment About Tanner Mangum’s Hail Mary, and My Response

Do Mormons Tell Catholics (or Anyone Else) “We’re Right and You’re Wrong”? A Response to a Snide Comment About BYU Quarterback Tanner Mangum’s Last-Second Hail Mary

By Ken K. Gourdin

At Patheos.com, BYU Professor Dan Peterson commented on something BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum tweeted before departing on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mangum wrote, ““I love it when I hear people say I’m throwing away my career by serving a mission. It’ll make it that much sweeter when I prove them wrong.”

To the professor’s observation that “[h]e may already have accomplished that,” I responded, “One play does not a career make (or a career break, for that matter). Still, it’s not a bad start; not a bad start at all.” Another poster, Dale Wight, then chimed in regarding the apparent irony that someone who (according to him) spent two years in Chile telling Catholics they’re wrong resorted to a “Hail Mary” (a long, usually-last-second, desperation pass in football that is attempted to win the game (hence, the prayer allusion)). I responded to Mr. Wight thus:

Really? That’s what missionaries (are supposed to) tell prospective converts? Wow. Who knew? I even served a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I was in the dark about that for the entire two years, because I never once told anyone of any other religious persuasion (or even those of no particular religious persuasion at all), “I’m right, you’re wrong, and here’s why.” That’s a gross oversimplification, if not an outright mischaracterization, of what I did tell them.

Now, having said that, are there many members of the Church of Jesus Christ, including some missionaries, who are too provincial in their possession of truth? Yes. I had some advice for such people awhile back, a link to which I have posted below. As I said in that linked essay, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ because I believe it is the best way to get the most bounteous harvest of good fruit in my life; I am not a member so I can have an excuse to look down my nose at someone else’s sixtyfold or thirtyfold. My response to someone who says his religious tradition bears good fruit in his life is, “Great! More power to you (and to God)!”

My stance as set forth in the foregoing paragraph notwithstanding, if someone wants to know how (from my perspective) he can increase his harvest; why I think being a Latter-day Saint is the best thing going, religion-wise; and “a reason for the hope that is in me,” I hope I would be prepared to offer some good answers, but even then, “I’m right, you’re wrong, and here’s why” would not be among them.

Here’s a link to the essay to which I alluded earlier:


Another poster accused me of having thin skin, of having a chip on my shoulder, and of failing to grasp Mr. Wight’s obvious humor, to which I responded:

You’re right to the extent that this is a difficult medium to detect such humor. If, indeed, obvious humor was intended and I failed to detect it, I plead guilty. That said, I think the onus is on the messenger who intends humor to make such intent plain rather than on the audience to try to divine it.

While your invitation that I should “get over it” is very kind, I’m unsure just precisely what it is I need to get over. My skin is plenty thick, I have no chip on my shoulder (whether precariously balanced or not), and I’m certainly not ready to explode. Absent any indication I should do otherwise, I simply took the plain meaning of Mr. Wight’s words at their face value and responded accordingly. He’s welcome to clarify if he wishes. With all due respect, I doubt he needs you to speak for him.

In a related vein, in response to a Salt Lake Tribune article about the aftermath of the season-ending injury to Taysom Hill, whom Mangum replaced in the game, another poster (“Reasonable Ute”) said that Hill, BYU, and their fans should simply “get over it,” I responded:

I know you expect me to believe without question [that you’re reasonable] because you put it in your screen name, but there are aspects of this post that I don’t find very “reasonable” … and I say that as a “U” alum who’s had plenty of his dreams “crushed by reality.” What would you say to me if it’d been Travis Wilson who’d been hurt in the Utes’ game against Michigan and I had posted the foregoing? (I’m sure many of your less-“reasonable” counterparts in “U”-fan-land would decry my insensitivity.) While you’re right that, whatever the stakes, in the end, football is simply a game, I would argue that the stakes were considerably higher for Hill than for the typical 5’6″, 130-lb. pimply-faced freshman who gets cut from his high school team, and I think most “reasonable” people (even “U” fans who might not otherwise be “reasonable”) would agree with me. Will Mr. Hill eventually reach the point of accepting his fate? Will his BYU coaches, teammates, and fans? Yes. But that’s a process rather than an event, and I certainly wouldn’t come here singing the Eagles’ tune “Get Over It” to “U” fans if it’d been Wilson who’d been injured instead of Hill.

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(Bad?) Puns

(Bad?) Puns

By Ken K. Gourdin

In response to an invitation calling for puns on Mormon Dialogue and Discussion, I posted both of the following:

The king needed to get an urgent message from one side of his kingdom to the other.  The two sides were separated by a river which was spanned by a bridge.  Ordinarily, such a circumstance would be of no consequence, but this river was home to a giant yellow monster.  Often, the king’s attempts to communicate with the other side of his kingdom via messenger were thwarted by this monster, as it rose up out of the water to molest, harm, or perhaps kill the king’s messengers.  This particular message, however, was of singular importance, and it was vital that it be delivered to the other side of the kingdom.  Knowing the long odds, the king chose his bravest knight as messenger.  Undaunted, the knight donned his armor and mounted his trusty steed.  He rode throughout the night, approaching the bridge at full gallop. As he began to cross, suddenly, a giant yellow hand came up out of the water and pulled the brave knight and his trusty steed to the dark depths below, where they met their tragic and untimely end.  

The king was deeply saddened when word of the knight’s death reached him, but there was little time to grieve.  As I said, it was of singular importance that this vital message be relayed to the other side of the kingdom.  Thus, the king chose his second-best knight as messenger.  Undaunted, the knight donned his armor and mounted his trusty steed.  He rode throughout the night, approaching the bridge at full gallop.  Alas, just as had happened with his predecessor and fellow brave knight, as he began to cross, suddenly, a giant yellow hand again came up out of the water and, again, pulled the brave knight and his trusty steed to the dark depths below, where they, yet again, met their tragic and untimely end.  Yet again, the king grieved when word of the knight’s death reached him, but there remained the task of delivering this singularly-important, vital message to the other side of the kingdom. 

Realizing that he could no longer risk his best knights (no matter how gallant and brave), not to mention the kingdom’s best horse flesh, to this risky venture, the king decided to try a different tack.  From among his servants, this time he chose, not a brave and valiant knight, but, rather, a lowly page.  And this time, the messenger would not approach the bridge at full gallop but, rather, on foot.  This time, it took the lowly (but valiant) page two or three days to reach the bridge.  Gathering his last ounce of courage as he approached, he inhaled deeply and began to walk across.  Again, the giant yellow hand rose up out of the water, the monster ready to claim yet another victim.  Expecting yet another gallant, trusty steed at full gallop, however, this time, the monster’s timing was thrown off, and he narrowly missed grasping the lowly (but valiant) page and dragging him down to the dark depths below, where he would have met his tragic and untimely end (no doubt to be mourned by the benevolent king when word of his death reached the castle).  Instead, the page was able to proceed calmly to the other side of the kingdom, where he delivered this singularly important and vital message.  Moral of the story?  Let your pages do the walking through the yellow fingers. 

:D :rofl: :D

* * *

Many of us are quite afraid of snakes, and, in many cases, not without good reason.  In his travels in the dead of winter throughout the city, Bill chanced upon one such serpent.  He might’ve reacted the way many of us would have, recoiling in horror; instead, however, he found himself fascinated by this snake’s unusual ability.  As he looked upon the snake, it began speaking to him.  The cold-blooded creature was in a truly poor state given the low winter temperatures, and it asked Bill, “C-c-could you s-s-spare a c-c-coat or a b-b-blanket?”  Ordinarily, Bill might not’ve been disposed to take pity on such a creature, but he recognized the unusual opportunity presented by this one’s apparently-unique ability.  “I can do better than that,” Bill said.  “Why don’t you come to my house and warm yourself by a nice, cozy fire.”  The snake was most grateful.  “Th-th-thank you!” he said.  Of course, it wouldn’t do to have a mere nameless stranger under Bill’s roof, so he introduced himself.  “My name’s Bill,” he said.  “N-N-Nate,” the snake replied. 

What might’ve been a brief visit turned, instead, into a more long-term relationship, as the more Bill and Nate talked, the more they realized they had in common with one another, and they became genuine friends.  Bill and Nate became inseperable, as Bill took his new serpentine friend everywhere: Out to eat, to the movies, to work, to the pool hall he often frequented after work, or even to church.  Given that they were inseparable, it was inevitable that many of Bill’s friends became Nate’s friends, too, of course.  One night, the two friends were watching a late-night newscast in which a bulletin was broadcast about a dangerous lever that was reported to be somewhere in the city.  Reportedly, if the lever were pulled (whether inadvertently or on purpose) a bomb would go off, destroying a significant portion of the city. 

Their sense of civic pride and duty to their home city welling within them, Bill and Nate felt they had to do something about the lever. They had to at least try to find it before someone with malevolent intentions did, or before another curious, unwitting, unwary citizen chanced upon it and triggered it out of curiosity.  They thought their chances would be better if they split up, so that’s what they did, and of course Nate’s litheness allowed him to wriggle into many places the bigger, less agile Bill could not go in search of the dangerous lever.  They searched diligently for several hours before Nate rounded a street corner not far from the duo’s house and, lo and behold, found the lever.  Nate quickly sidled up to it.  Not long afterward, Nate saw Bill’s very recognizable car turn the same corner.  Realizing the acute need to warn his friend of the impending danger, Nate jumped up into the air and used his body to begin spelling out letters like mad:

S-T-O-P, L-E-V-E-R!

S-T-O-P, L-E-V-E-R!

S-T-O-P, L-E-V-E-R!

Alas, though Bill knew something unusual was afoot, as sometimes happens, he was unable to put two and two together quickly enough to figure out exactly what.  Though this choice may have been borne less out of conscious thought than out of instinct, by the time it dawned on him that it was his friend trying to warn him of the lever, Bill was faced with a choice: He could either hit the lever and harm a significant portion of his fellow citizens, or he could sacrifice his friend and save them.  On instinct, he did the latter. Crestfallen, Bill got out of his car to survey the damage, his deceased friend’s body now splayed across his windshield.  A mutual friend of the pair had seen what happened, and went over to console the snake’s best friend.

“I saw what happened,” the mutual friend said.  “I know that you and Nate were great friends,” he continued, “and it’s never easy to lose a friend, but, well,” and here he paused, searching for the right words before finishing, “Better Nate than lever.”


* * *

The King knew that treasure was buried somewhere in the kingdom, and he suspected one of his Counts knew, as well.  Alas, “gentleness, and kindness, and love unfeigned” had not succeeded in his attempts to persuade the knowledgeable party to share his knowledge, and in circumstances such as those, the king certainly wasn’t above using … Ahem! … other, less pleasant methods.  When he decided that less extreme methods would not work, the King turned to his executioner, the Marquis de Sade. One by one, the Counts were called in; one by one, they were threatened with the most extreme punishment if they did not divulge the treasure’s location; one by one, since one cannot divulge what one does not know, each of them met his untimely, unpleasant end under the sharp blade of the executioner’s guillotine.  Down to his last few Counts, the King summoned the next victim. Just as the others had been, he was interrogated; just as the others had done, he denied knowledge of the treasure’s location; and just as the others had been, he was placed in the correct position on the guillotine, his untimely end imminent.  But this time, just as the switch was thrown, the Count cried, “Wait!”  But it was too late. Down came the blade, and off came his head, knowledge of the treasure’s location now forever lost to the king due to this botched interrogation.  The King, of course, was furious.  “You idiot!” He berated the executioner. “How could you do such a thing!  How many times have I told you?  Never hatchet your counts before they chicken!!!!!!!!!!!!”

:D :rofl: :D

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