Editor’s Note: Sometimes, you just want to put a little bit of your English major stuff to work.
A More Perfect Union
language matters, editors consider themselves guardians of grammar and syntax to
whom rules are important. One editorial stricture involves the combining of
absolutes, comparatives and superlatives. For example, “unique” means one of
a kind, so something can’t be “less unique” or “the most unique.”
same applies to superlatives such as “ideal.” “More ideal,” makes no
more logical sense than “most worst.” In binary (either/or) situations, you
can’t use comparative adjectives — e.g., a woman can’t be a “little
bit” pregnant or “more pregnant” than another woman. And combining two
superlatives is redundant: A jet shouldn’t be described as the “most
fastest,” unless it was procured by the Dept. of Defense Dept.
superlatives and absolutes aren’t just linguistically problematic. Those that
involve the concept of infinity also present logical and philosophical
difficulties. One problem is we humans can always envision more. Even living in
an infinite universe, we still ask what’s beyond its edge. Time may encompass
eternity, yet we can speak of a time “before” the moment of creation and
“after” the end of time.
we can imagine infinity, we can’t really comprehend it. According to
physicists and cosmologists, the Big Bang occurred when all the matter and
energy in the universe exploded from an “infinitely small” point, but I
doubt that more than a handful of people on earth can make sense of this. As a
man of modest intellectual gifts, it’s as incomprehensible to me as Sanskrit.
same is true of the theology of an infinite god. By definition, nothing can be
further beyond us than an all-powerful, all-knowing deity. Mankind talks
endlessly about god, but anteaters will master quantum mechanics before mankind
can fathom an infinite being. The concept of omnipotence results in questions
like George Carlin’s classic paradox, “If god is all-powerful, can he make a
boulder so heavy, even he can’t lift it?”
How does one reconcile infinite power and perfect goodness with pediatric cancer? The only people who don’t struggle with this are heartless, brain-dead fundies. And a deity defined as “omniscient” makes predestination inevitable. Theologically, an all-knowing god must have known when he created mankind that we’d sin, damning the vast majority of us to eternal punishment, a less-than-beneficent outcome that makes only evangelicals and Calvinists smile. No wonder so many Americans convert to Scientology.
For example, the Declaration of Independence’s “All men are created equal” clearly had a different nuance in the 18th century. Assuming the meaning of “all” hasn’t changed, “men” must have literally meant “male” (i.e., without ovaries), rather than “mankind.” “Men” also had a racial component that would establish nonwhites as three-fifths of a man in the Constitution. In much of the nation, this would persist for centuries, even after slavery had ended.
Pelosi has good-enough political instincts to know that impeachment, which too
many Democrats consider the “most ideal” outcome for this president, would
surely end in acquittal by a GOP Senate. Even “less ideal,” this might just
assure his re-election. We’d be better off waiting until he’s out of office,
and allowing the Southern District of New York to try to put Orange Mussolini in
an orange jumpsuit.
Besides, removing the president now would leave us with Mike Pence, who shares Trump’s values, with the added blight of being a religious fanatic, which Trump fakes only when it suits him. These days, the GOP offers uniquely “less-than-ideal” leadership.
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