I guess I’ve been hearing it for years now as the country has slid into knee-jerk relativism. Till now though, it’s merely been an equivocating grandfather clock in the background, metronomic, at worst nettlesome. It was at the beginning of l’affaire Polanski, though, that I realized how much I’ve come to detest the word “but.”
One liberal pundit or another (banality = interchangeability) was bleating on and on, and I actually heard the words “what Roman Polanski did was wrong but …” and it hit me like an air horn in a Trappist monastery. With a simple wave of the conjunctive wand, we now believe that we can explain away absolutely anything!
I know man does not live by declarative sentences alone, although you can certainly do a lot worse than Hemingway. Purely and simply, there are certain times in life that you have to pull up short of the logic abyss that is the word “but” and pitch camp on the near side of it. This is one of those times.
To apply a caveat to the forcible rape of a 13-year-old girl by a 40-year-old euro-lech armed with quaaludes and bubbly (and ably assisted by a brain-dead parent) is akin to sailing around the Cape of Good Hope to visit the corner store.
Now while I’m pretty certain Whoopi Goldberg is going to try to put a Roadrunner cloud between herself and her “not a rape-rape” gem, I’m not even sure she has to anymore! I think our society is so inundated with misinformed faux wisdom these days that her swing and a miss moment has already passed. The dogs bark, the caravan/news cycle moves on.
And where do you most often find this contorted gibberish masquerading as insight? Invariably on the backside of the word “but.” Liberals have commandeered “but,” conservative bunko artists favor “nevertheless,” and moderates put you into an induced coma with their incessant “howevers.” Pick your poison, fact is we’d all be better off staying on this side of the “but.”
If you feel you’ve got something so wise, so precious, so singularly sagacious, that you want to tag it onto Polanski’s atrocity to “shed some light on it,” light is, in fact, your biggest problem because you’ve got your head shoved so far up your tuchus that they’re gonna have to cut in switchback trails to get to it.
The Roman legions came over the hill flying a single flag, the liberal one. Make of that what you will, I guess occasionally a man is going to be pushed too far. Think Van Heflin in “Shane.” Evidently some liberals felt pushed too far by the arrest of Polanski. No doubt some airtight progressive notion about the day of the rape paling in comparison to the days since the rape. Now, I can’t tell if Polanski’s defenders are completely underthinking this or overthinking it. Either way, they’re obviously not thinking. Theirs is a flat-line electroencephalogram.
If we don’t have unanimity on the rape and sodomy of a 13-year-old girl, well, we’re never gonna have it, are we? If “but” appears as a fulcrum in a sentence about an occurrence this horrific, it signals a brokenness in the American spirit that even a card carrying, “eyebrow-raised-higher-than-Pelosi’s” skeptic like me could never have imagined.
“But” appears to have become America’s verbal Continental Divide. Rainwater falls down one side, drivel the other. Polanski is a monster and the evil he perpetrated on that child demands punishment. No “buts.”
Author’s Note. Short of its parenthetical use to remind the reader which word was the butt of this screed, not one “but” was used (at appreciable difficulty I might add), in the composition of this piece.
Comedian and commentator extraordinaire Dennis Miller appears regularly in the “Miller Time” segment of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, as well as his daily talk radio show that is heard on more than 250 stations across the country.