Trials of Tribulation
Premiered 9/9/9 (9 September 2009)
The continuation of The Myth and Legend of D'PTah, an original novel by Dan Sewell Ward.
Trials of Tribulation
As Chief of Staff, perhaps I should have voiced some major reservations with Senator Layde's idea about a live interview between the Regency and Johnny Ceal... maybe even argued forcefully against it. On the other hand, we knew at the time that Ceal's primary handler, Rob Carlson, was history – or so intelligence believed. That would have to be considered promising. And I must admit that the chance to put a fanatic on the stand had a lot of appeal to me. Hopefully, those who were capable of independent thought would be able to see the level of Ceal's detachment from reality. In fact we might even be able to contrast Ceal's religious view that ancient truths were forever carved in stone... against the reality of an ever changing universe.
When I later suggested as much, Sally, of course, had the audacity to suggest to me, “Fat chance.” But I preferred to think I had a better handle on such complex, intellectual issues. Okay... I just figured it might work. Very risky, sure; but there's a degree of excitement in taking risks. Maybe it's a guy thing... whereas Sally as very much a female couldn't be expected to understand. “Fat chance”, so to speak.
Her suggestion that the planned interview kept reminding her of some kind of deal with the Devil did not dissuade me either. I simply referenced the positive results that Giuseppe Tartini had attained with his supposed deal with the Devil in composing the Devil's Sonata . Admittedly, the fact that there had been no further positive deals with the Devil since the 17th century did not bode particularly well for my argument. But at this point, I was already beginning to formulate a fall back plan... just in case. As they say, "it's an ill wind that bodes no good..." at least for someone!
Meanwhile, Sally's more definitive come back was... again... a repeat of my own advice: “Never argue with someone who is insane. All fanatics – particularly religious ones – are insane. Ipso facto: don't allow or provide such insanity media coverage. Rule XIX b) 3), or some such.”
I really hate people who use my previous bits of wisdom against me! From my viewpoint, it's rude, dastardly, and seriously lacking in modern sophistication -- the latter the kind that never, never tells me when I'm wrong. Sally accordingly forced me to rebut in any way I could. I offered the excuse that if nothing else, it would provide for some excitement. But this, I knew, would likely go over like a pregnant pole vaulter. I had to fall back on the fact that politicians, most of whom were demonstrably crazy, had regular access to the media... and thus why not a religious fanatic? Sally simply looked at me as if I was demented to the point of being an average voter with memories as short or non-existent as my own.
Okay I will admit that, yes, my vision of any possible benefits of cross examining a fanatic may very likely be horribly flawed. After all, science  has begun to demonstrate that the liberal/feminine brain is hardwired in the anterior cingulated cortex (no kidding) to alter its views based on new evidence, while the conservative/masculine brain is hardwired to automatically discount new evidence as a distraction (and a nuisance) from maintaining a consistent and steady opinion. Accordingly the receptivity of the feminine/liberal mind provides for new and creative thought with a greatly increased store of data, while the masculine/conservative mind is able to focus and thereby solve many difficult problems, in itself a bit of a creative endeavor, or at least within the limitations of available data. Any presentation of evidence, therefore – as in the case of placing a fanatic on the stand -- will be rejected by preconceived schemas and all logic, rationale, and emotional appeal can be swept aside. Only the mind with the capability of using both talents, and the wisdom to know when each is most appropriate, can be considered to be the evolved Homo sapiens. The latter is, unfortunately, currently so rare as to be placed on the list of endangered species. Sigh. At the same time, the latter is also more and more the target audience for everything the Regency was attempting to do.
As if in answer to my concerns, no sooner had the word gotten out that such an interview was to take place, than we were besieged with demands that the interview be transformed into a trial. Suddenly, every religious and knee jerk reactionary on the planet was declaring Johnny Ceal guilty of a host of Regency inspired crimes – including conducting circumcisions, preventing women from legitimate abortions or for that matter even seeking birth control information... and of course, stirring up homophobes into a killing frenzy directed toward any homosexually oriented person on the planet. These had become the targeted areas of debate inasmuch as a “lack of righteousness” did not quite have the details and specifications to make for a good case against the Regency.
The Circumcision, Abortion, Homosexuality Debates, however, were enormously closer to home -- something most everyone could identify with from their own experiences -- and thus from the media viewpoint they contained the common ingredient to sell their wares, i.e. Sex. Suddenly, people who had condemned much of the social agenda and its accompanying laws were now demanding that the new laws be followed to the letter, and as one high ranking Catholic had declared, “lest we all be cast adrift.”
Even Mr. Compassionate, the Deli Llama had refused to rebuke Johnny for his passionate position. This stance by the King of the Delicatessans was the clue that should have told me that we might be in serious trouble. The monk's credibility was not so easily challenged, even if he was the latest incarnation of someone who began it all in 1391 A.D. Every other religion on the planet could dismiss the Buddhist monk for his stand and belief in reincarnation. But when he could be used as a poster boy to challenge the Regency, suddenly the 14th in a long line of Tibetan Buddhist head honchos was given far greater respect – albeit only to attack the Regency. Se la vie.
Senator Layde had to be given some credit for fortifying the Regent with a lot of information on Johnny Ceal, his current and former handlers, as well as some of Johnny's favorites spiels. There was in fact a degree of confidence welling up within the Inner Circle; even David seemed to be ever more passionate about the whole affair and had stepped up to be the point man in making arrangements for the pre and post game activities. David's enthusiasm had been bolstered by Senator's Layde support, and the fact Layde was going to let David take point. 
The fact that David had no clue what "taking point" really meant was probably relevant! The one thing clear to me was that the Senator was setting himself up for plausible deniability in the event things went sour. Of course, such things were common in D.C., just part of the game; so perhaps this was not something to be overly concerned about. Still... when rats are rushing to the sides of the ship in preparation for taking their chances in the waves... well... suffice it to say that both Sally and I were not completely at ease. From my experience (and supposedly hers), religious fanaticism can never be underestimated for its deceit, dishonesty, and sheer malevolence. It's as if they had become believers in the dictum, “Never be the last to deceive.” 
In a rare moment of prescience I arranged to have two additional recording devices, both of which were top secret to everyone but myself and the two trusted recording technicians who were of course working independently and without any knowledge of the other man. Yes, I know: I sometimes appear to be a bit paranoid, but I've actually been besieged enough in my life that it's not really paranoia when they really were out to get me. In any case, I wanted to be absolutely certain that every slight facial expression was included with an accurate description of the event. Such precautions might end up being very useful to me. Of course, in hindsight, it's clear what I had failed to consider was that in an era of faked photographs and computer generated fantasies, no photographic evidence was going to be definitive – particularly for anyone intent upon not seeing, acknowledging, or accepting the truth.
For the purposes of such attention to detail, the following is a transcript of the “interview” slash “trial”. For purposes of historical accuracy, I've intentionally limited my interpretations as to their physical responses. It was hard for me to do, as reading about the event falls far short of watching it.
After a quick introduction and some unimportant initial proceedings whereby it was clear that everyone was there willingly, voluntarily, and knowingly – i.e., not under duress, or some such – and that everyone was comfortable, the two men, one gently smiling and the other slightly on guard, were allowed to get to the meat of the meeting.
Regent (R): We've been told you wished to talk with the Regency, and to express your views.
Johnny Ceal (JC): You have a great responsibility upon you. Listening to your people, even those without powerful friends is one of the many tasks you must shoulder.
R: Then we're in agreement on that point. Still, you must realize that listening to the heart felt feelings of billions is not entirely practical.
JC: Does the practical have a greater worth than meeting one's responsibilities?
R: We do what we can. In this case, talking with someone who represents a point of view held by others allows for a higher quality conversation, in lieu of the quantitative. Who, for example, can it be said that you represent?
JC: I am but one among many who believe in God, who seek the path of righteousness, and who find elements of evil rampant within your ill-advised laws and pronouncements. While we may have rejoiced at your apparent attempt to bring together the religions of the world into the true light of God, we found your methods to be less than what we might have prayed for.
R: To which specific laws and pronouncements do you and your followers object?
JC: Those which violate God's Law.
R: And those are?
JC: Your lack of seeking righteousness, your unwillingness to adhere to God's will in your many earthly laws and strictures.
R: Can you be a little more specific? Perhaps an example or two?
JC: There is, for example, your clear tolerance of homosexuals who are violating God's Laws in the most horrific manner. Your compassion for the wicked and sin-ridden is commendable, but not when fortified with law – the same law which allows and condones their evil actions. What is clearly needed instead are laws to strictly prohibit such heretical actions. There is in addition... because you wanted specifics... your unfortunate and misguided attempt to foster, if not encourage, the murder of innocents, the destruction of life in the genitals of humans. Furthermore, your homicidal acts against unborn infants cannot be continued. There is yet another example: your unholy condemnation of that covenant between God and man in which new born infants are not given the opportunity to participate in God's holy communion by being circumcised on the eighth day as clearly required by the only true source of knowledge and wisdom. Such a view is fundamentally blasphemous. That is why I and others have given of ourselves to ensure that the holy covenants are honored and that the man-made and heretical laws that contradict holy scripture are violated and ignored.
R: Violated? Are you saying you are guilty of a crime?
JC: I am guilty of many crimes. I am guilty of lacking discernment in the choice of those who would speak in my name, of those who have been my trusted and most ardent supporters. I am guilty of lacking faith and true communion with my God when I fail to hear his words coming to me. I am guilty of lacking courage when opportunities to witness are missed.
R: My question might better be phrased, are you guilty of any crimes against others?
JC: I am guilty of not being the example I should be...
R: Are you guilty, for example, of treason?
JC: Against God, no. Against your government... No, for I am not bound by any oath to adhere to laws which violate God's Laws.
R: Did you break the... admittedly man made law... or if you like, the Regency made law... that was recently imposed regarding circumcising young male infants?
JC: It is said that the wise prince does not make laws that he knows the people will ignore out of a sense of true justice and righteousness. Any law which is written for the purpose of enticing the people to violate it is a law of entrapment, and by the very laws of which these alleged laws are a part, entrapment cannot be condoned... even by the prince.
R: That's a very clever argument. But can you not apply this argument to any law with which you personally disagree?
JC: I can not apply this argument to any of God's laws.
R: Why not? If your god's laws are entrapment, are they not null and void? If Adam and Eve were enticed to commit a transgression, that a serpent was allowed to be in the Garden in order to tempt them... is this not entrapment?
JC: God does not entrap.
R: Are there any laws made by man to which you can not apply this argument of entrapment?
JC: The only valid man-made laws are those which agree in every respect to God's laws.
R: And how are we to know 'god's laws'?
JC: Through the holy scriptures.
R: Which holy scriptures?
JC: The Holy Bible.
R: What about the Koran?
JC: As long as the Koran does not conflict with the Holy Bible, then it is valid.
R: But Muslims believe the entirety of the Koran to be perfect.
JC: They are regrettably wrong, and I pray they see the light and follow the one true God.
R: Which god exactly is that? Ra? Thor?
JC: Jehovah, the God of Genesis, the God of Jesus Christ.
R: What about the Ningish?
JC: They are not real.
R: Not real? Are you saying that the United States of America, arguably the most powerful nation on earth at the time, surrendered to an illusion?
JC: Perhaps the surrender itself was an illusion. Perhaps there was merely a regime change, dressed up and passed off as an adversarial conflict gone awry for one side. Who can know for certain except those who planned and facilitated the transfer of earthly power?
R: What about the other nations who followed in the surrender?
JC: Merely a brilliant facade calculated to bring about a new world order of the domination of the many by the very few.
R: And the demonstrations which prompted the nations to surrender?
JC: Photographs can be retouched. Movies can be fantasies.
R: Pick a location, or locations, and we will have you taken there to witness and investigate every aspect of what has become a set of lasting demonstrations.
JC: Can you make the same offer to everyone on the planet?
R: We can make the offer, but we seriously doubt that everyone on the planet would be willing to go and see for themselves – to look through the telescope, so to speak.
JC: Then I shall not go. I am one of my people; I deserve no greater honor.
R: Then you are refusing to witness these demonstrations for yourself.
R: (pause) Do you believe in free will?
JC: (surprised) Yes. I do. With all my heart. God has given us the right to choose good or evil, and to reap the consequences of our choices.
R: Do people have the Free Will to choose to be willfully ignorant?
JC: Your phrase of 'willfully ignorant', which I have heard before, can be applied to those who seek not the truth of God – and in which case I would agree that such choices are to be condemned. But your phrase can also be applied to those who seek not your truth, or what you pretend or wrongly believe to be the truth. And such choices are not wrong. They are instead attempts by the faithful to resist the temptations of the flesh which you so easily and unwisely offer.
R: You do indeed have the inalienable right to choose to be willfully ignorant on any subject. But is not such a choice a rebuke to the god you profess to honor, the god who created within you the curiosity and the thirst for knowledge and truth? If humans have the inalienable right to choose to be willfully ignorant, and obviously they often do... isn't it a sorry waste of a gift from your god?
JC: All that God has made is for God's purposes and His alone. If He provided man with the freedom to choose, He did so for His unfathomable purposes, perhaps to separate the wheat from the chaff, to window the true believers from those choosing eternal damnation.
R: But for what purpose? Why would God choose to toss aside or allow to fallow in the field a large portion of his creation?
JC: God works in mysterious ways. I am not so honored to know his innermost thoughts.
R: And yet you have chosen to interpret his words, and thereby assume that you understand the meaning of his words.
JC: God's word is clear to the righteousness. There is no interpretation.
R: Is it true that you have urged people to ignore certain man made laws, to demand an end to the dissemination of birth control information, to demand an end to abortions.
JC: Yes. Such has been my calling: to allow God's nature to take its course.
R: Have you also urged your people to demand an end to artificial insemination and other “assisted reproductive technologies (ARTS)” -- that all such activities are unnatural activities?
JC: God has commanded mankind to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth. We are following that law.
R: Have you called upon your followers to put homosexuals to death – as required by your Bible?
JC: I have urged that homosexuals be prevented from practicing their blasphemous acts.
R: And when they continue to do so, have you demanded their death?
JC: If that is the word of God, so be it.
R: Does your Holy Bible say that “Thou shalt not kill”? How can you obey this commandment and still kill homosexuals?
JC: Taking the lives of nonbelievers in defense of the one true faith is not a crime, nor is it against God's Will.
R: Are you saying that killing nonbelievers is acceptable to your god, but only because they are nonbelievers? Are your true believers allowed to commit those acts which cannot be condoned for other true believers, but which can be applied against nonbelievers without any restraint whatsoever?
JC: Such is the natural order of things. God demands His creation choose the righteous path.
R: Do you have any doubts as to your actions and beliefs?
JC: Doubt is Satanic.
R: Is there any possible compromise between what you believe and what others believe?
JC: God does not compromise. His word is everlasting. It cannot be questioned.
R: We think we just did. Have you performed circumcisions on infant males?
R: How many?
JC: Since your ill-considered and unjust law was levied upon the people, I have had the honor to participate in five such acts, wherein the people have exhibited their allegiance to God's Covenant.
R: Did the infants proclaim their allegiance?
JC: The infants have honored their parents, as is commanded by God.
R: How do eight day old infants choose or not choose to honor their parents?
JC: They will learn in the natural course of time of the choice made by their loving parents, and will rejoice in knowing the manner in which they were loved.
R: Assuming of course that they will have forgotten the pain, and will never have known or even suspected the true joys of sexual interaction.
JC: The only acceptable reason for sexual activity is for procreation. All else is temptation and must be resisted and overcome by all true believers.
R: A well respected Muslim Cleric has said that God's creation is perfect, and to practice genital mutilation upon unknowing and unwilling infants is against God's law. How is circumcision a natural act?
JC: The believers in Islam may be devout searchers of God's Truth, but I believe they are in error. It is not possible to reconcile God's perfect creation with God's demand to change the natural order of things as a means of man honoring the covenant between him and his God.
R: Do you intend to continue to perform circumcisions?
JC: Yes. It is my calling.
R: Are you aware that in performing circumcisions you are breaking the law – a law imposed by man and the Regency -- and that you must suffer the consequences of doing so, even if such consequences are limited to the power of man and the Regency?
JC: I am breaking no law of God's. I am fulfilling His Will.
R: Do you understand that the Regency has the power to inflict punishment upon you, even to put you to death for these acts which you have knowingly and willingly committed, and which you are stating you will continue to perform?
JC: I understand you believe you have such powers, but even with the termination of my body... my life and consciousness will thereafter bask in the glory of my Heavenly Father and I will continue to live in the memories of the people.
R: Do you wish to remain silent on this subject, to be represented by legal counsel, or to ask for the mercy of the court.
JC: Is this a trial?
R: It has apparently become so.
JC: Then I state before God and man that I will not remain silent, that my only counsel will be that of God, and that I will not ask mercy of any earth bound court. I have committed the acts I have already described, I relish the opportunity to commit additional such acts, and I willingly accept any punishment you believe I am worthy of. And I will forgive you... even as you commit such crimes against God.
R: You are clearly guilty of breaking the law, a law which is punishable by imprisonment and/or death. Do you have anything to say before we pronounce sentence upon you?
JC: You may think you are my judge, but you are not. Your pronouncements carry no weight with me. You may imprison my body or even terminate it. But you will accomplish nothing.
R: Is that all you have to say?
JC: I have nothing more to say.
R: Do you believe that we have been fair and just with you?
JC: I believe you are in error, but that you may mistakenly believe yourself to be fair.
R: (long pause) Johnny Ceal, we find you to be insane. While we do not always find insanity to be a defense against crimes against the state, we do find it a mitigating circumstance in your case.
Inasmuch as you have denied to five young, helpless and defenseless infants their future ability to enjoy the full fruits of their sexuality and life, you will also be denied the full fruits of interacting with others, enjoying their laughter and companionship. You will be taken from this place and lodged in one of possibly many secure locations, where the input from others will be denied you. You will, however, be allowed to continue your study of your chosen religious texts – your incarceration consisting of what has been referred to as the G'Kar Treatment. You will be, in addition, allowed to communicate your beliefs to others via the written word and otherwise. This privilege is given you, inasmuch as those you have injured will also continue to enjoy their inalienable right to voice opinions and express their beliefs.
JC: (long pause, with a slight bewilderment) You are sparing my life?
R: Have you murdered anyone?
R: Your life is thus spared. Not because we find your actions worthy of compassion, but because taking your life would be giving aid and comfort to you in the form of making you a martyr and thereby rewarding you with what is apparently your greatest desire. At the same time, however, you will no longer be afforded the opportunity to continue to break the law by genital mutilation of infants and dependent children, nor to forcibly restrain others from exercising their free will with regard to birth control, abortion, or sexual orientation.
JC: But I have broken your man-made laws... intentionally! You must not be... To die for my beliefs is my destiny!
R: Not everyone thinks so. Many in fact may find your views intolerable, and thus they may wish to threaten your life. Your sentence will be carried out so as to ensure your protection while in custody. You will remain in custody for a minimum of nine years -- after which time we will consider leniency or pardon.
JC: You can not prevent God's Will, even when you pretend to do so.
R: In preventing your god's will... We can try.
JC: And are you thus washing your hands of me?
R: Obviously not. We're not only not washing our hands of you, we're assuming responsibility for the protection of your life. Who exactly do you think you are?
JC: You cannot protect me. I am in God's hands.
R: Let's not be overly dramatic.
JC: But is that not the case?
R: Are you also offering someone else to be granted leniency in your stead?
JC: I cannot speak for others. You must make your own choices. If you wish to free others, so be it. That is your choice.
R: And we choose to be lenient with you. We are not interested in an eye for an eye, if only because half your sight is not worth the loss incurred by those five infants. We are treating you just as we would treat an uneducated and delusional child. (pause) We're done with this matter. (R stands up and leaves, with JC looking distinctly uncertain of himself.)
When it was all over and the entire staff had congregated in what had become the 'debriefing' and 'staging' area, congratulations were exchanged all around for the excellent handling of the situation. After several smiles, compliments, and words of encouragement -- all diplomatically acknowledged by the Regent -- someone, perhaps thoughtlessly, begin turning on the various monitors to obtain a slightly more independent... and heaven forbid, objective... analysis of the evening's events.
Hell hath no fury like a religious paradigm challenged by logic, rationally, and a liberal [pardon the pun] dose of compassion. Hell, in this case, manifested itself in a carefully orchestrated, spin-at-any-cost series of analyses, using every art and artifice of deceit, chicanery, and fraud known to man. Without exception... according to the party line... the “Trial” had been a travesty, foisted upon an innocent victim without remorse by the demonstrably evil Regency. Spontaneous remark after spontaneous remark – dovetailing with one another better than most best selling suspense novels – were offered as a means to dealing with what had just been witnessed.
Woven into the ever tangled web were public demonstrations caught on film by cameras in the most advantageous of viewing positions. The sheer breath of the coverage was impressive, an indirect compliment to the organizers, writers and directors of the multiple, interconnected events. The effect was even more notable when one had access to seven separate channels, all apparently orchestrated to convey the same message in a diverse set of venues.
The 'debriefing' room was silent except for the various forms of subtle diatribe spewing from the various monitors – until, finally Joy stepped forward to shut off the monitors' audio. Then the silence in the room was complete. A 'deadly silence', if you will. Every one in the room was simply too shocked to grasp how exactly the events of the evening had anything to do with the diatribes and pre-programmed cataloging of barn carpeting that had been parading across the monitors.
I watched the Regent as he took it all in. There was no smile, no frown really, and in fact no expression that was readable. It was a studiously acquired poker face. We weren't going to be able to read his inner thoughts tonight. As Chief of Staff, that bothered me.
Several tentative comments were made to ease the tension, and they did elicit a slight smile from the Regent. From my perspective, the only comment of note was the observation that the “spontaneous backlash” seemed extremely well planned and orchestrated. What had happened that night had nothing to do with the analyses, and was instead simply the trigger for the free-for-all media feeding frenzy.
Then Joy – bless her heart with all appropriate honors – said, “With your permission, Sir, I will initiate the 'reasonable voices' response previously prepared. These responses can then be easily supplemented to counter the more egregious... crap.”
This has been the first hint that maybe, just maybe we really had prepared for what we were now seeing. Then she added, “Of course, we haven't even see the real shit happening yet!” When I saw that she was serious, I felt a cold shudder. The only good news was that the Regency, or parts thereof – obviously not the Chief of Staff -- had not been totally blindsided. Perhaps the Regency was precognitive... or else had some really excellent sources of intelligence that he routinely did not share with all of us.
The Regent turned to Charlotte Joy, gave his silent consent, and then his hand on my arm, headed back into his main office.
Once the Regent and I were alone, I had intended to offer my own words of praise, when suddenly Daniel swiped an object off the table and sent it flying toward the far wall, where upon impact it shattered into a hundred pieces. I didn't have a clue what the object was, and whether its fate had some hidden meaning. It was simply breakable. The crash, however, was enough to elicit two doors being immediately opened by four security personnel, collectively armed with enough firepower at the ready to thwart an invasion of Normandy. Only when the Regent indicated, after a brief pause, “No problem, gentlemen. Thank you for your attention to duty,” did they relax, desist, and sheath their weapons. The doors then quietly closed, even while each of the four took turns casting a studied state in my direction, just in case I was suspected of voodoo, telekinesis, subliminal suggestion, or any other form of mind control. Their looks were a bit unnerving, but failed utterly in comparison to the look of disgust that had returned to the Regent's face after they had exited. I had just enough sense to keep my mouth shut... for the moment.
Then the dam broke. “What is the fuckin' point?” Letting the rhetorical question lay, I waited for the next shoe to drop. It didn't take long. “Why even bother to save the willfully stupid? Is our species so demented that it can still act with such abject ignorance as what we've just seen? How much further does this kind of insanity penetrate into the rest of humanity?”
For a moment, Daniel took a breath. (The Regent had apparently taken a long awaited coffee break.) Then he looked at me, as if he really wanted a reply. “Or perhaps... the stupidity is mine in thinking I could do anything. Against such odds, and with such fundamental lack of intelligence? In what frigging millennia are these people living?”
I said the first thing to come to my mind. “I didn't think we had a choice.”
For a moment, Daniel simply stared at me. Then he seemed to understand something. “You may be right. It's a matter of choice. Okay... I can live with that.” Inexplicably, the Regent had apparently returned early from his coffee break – probably there had been too long a line for people rushing to obtain their caffeine fix. And Daniel had never liked queuing up. “We'll let them make their choice. All those useless commodities calling themselves human beings can bloody well do as they please, hoist themselves by their own petard.” For just a moment, he almost smiled. “We'll let them pee in their own chili. It's high time for everyone to choose sides.” I could almost guess now where he was leading. “Those earnestly striving to raise themselves up by their bootstraps, they will, with our help, survive and live to propagate the race. The rest can choose their own fates. Today, we begin fighting fire with fire. It's triage time.”
Of all the times in our relationship, I knew at this moment I needed to be the Light bringer's Advocate.... assuming of course that the option for his tenure was going to be picked up. The problem was that I just wasn't sure I was up to it. I kept thinking I needed to be in the Regent's confidence to do any good at all. By that logic, now was not the time to challenge him – despite what Sally might have thought. And so I compromised. “Will we in doing so, continue to honor diversity?”
The Regent looked at me with a calm if not somewhat calculated expression. “In a manner of speaking, yes. Everyone can choose their way, without any obstacles imposed by us. But we will also be doing our damnest to assist those who are choosing the path we've been trying to travel. In fact, it could be said that we have a moral obligation to save those with the same morals... that is to say those who are willfully increasing in intelligence, evolving, growing, making the most of their lives. As the leader of this chain in the evolution of the species, we will be taking care of our own, our peers."
“The good news, I suppose, is that there will certainly be less traffic, and thus the prognosis for the recovery of much of the race is much, much better.” I almost smiled at my rationalized wisdom, to which he seemed to join.
“Everyone chooses their own path. We will hold up a beacon, a Pharos for those who might see our example as something worth emulating. Others may find their own way to something worthwhile – and more power to them. Meanwhile, we will be severing our reality from those who would choose stagnation, reactionary conservatism, and willful ignorance. We will take them on in terms of their attempts to force others, but otherwise allow them to hold onto their own demented views. And perhaps... as they take their old accustomed paths, we will sincerely wish them... Vaya con Dios.”
For a moment, he managed a serious expression, one of pragmatic resignation. As I watched him take a deep breath and approach an exterior window to look out, my mind kept asking, “Just how long will this new policy be in effect? Are we talking permanent resolve? Or merely a product of the emotional content of the moment?” It would be some time before I knew the answers. Had I asked the questions aloud, I might have known the answers a lot sooner.
 “The Biology of Political Orientation”, The Week, September 28, 2007, page 21.
 "Taking point" is a military term, whereby one soldier (tank, ship, or whatever) takes the position in a formation at the "point" (of an arrow), and where thereby that soldier or whatever is most likely to be "in immediate danger or peril".
 From the song, Nobody's Side ("Never be the first to believe; never be the last to deceive") , Lyrics by Tim Rice, in the musical Chess, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_(musical). [Music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, formerly of ABBA.]
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