Category Archives: empathy

Welcome to Libertarian Island! A Play in One Freedy-Free Act.

Libertarian Island

Libertarian Island

SCENE I: A busy urban street. Two middle-aged white men, BOB and JOE, are waiting at a stoplight, having a spirited political discussion. They have been friends for years and the discussion has the feel of ritual.

BOB: Look, I just don’t trust the government to run my health care. In fact, I don’t want ’em doing anything for me at all. I just want to live my life without government interference. What’s wrong with that? Besides, the American health care system is the best in the world!

JOE (sighing): Oh, forgawd’ssake, BOB, give it a rest already. I wish just for once you could live in that Libertarian Paradise you’re always talking about. I’d bet you’d be begging for government to come back in about half a second!

(The light changes. BOB and JOE start walking across the street, too absorbed in their conversation to pay much attention to where they’re going.)

BOB: No, seriously, JOE. The only thing to do is make government so small we can drown it in a bathtub. Every man for himself. It’s the only way we can be free!

JOE: Ahhh, BOB, don’t you get that all corporations care about is their bottom line? I’m telling you —

(Out of nowhere, a bus, out of control, careens into the intersection and smacks right into the hapless friends. Strangely, the marquee on the top of the bus reads “Liberty Express.” BOB and JOE fly in opposite directions as the scene fades to black.)

SCENE II: A lush island Paradise. The sky is a lovely blue festooned with decorative, puffy white clouds. BOB is lying on a hammock strung between two palm trees. Behind him, the facade of an impossibly luxurious resort hotel can be seen; in front of him is a beautifully landscaped infinity pool, complete with waterfall and fat-free bathing beauties in bikinis. BOB is unconscious, but appears to be otherwise unharmed by his encounter with the Liberty Express. Slowly, he opens his eyes and takes in his surroundings.

BOB (wonderingly): What the fuck?!

(One of the bikini-clad babes, perfectly tan and blonde, strolls over to BOB with a drink in her hand.)

BLONDE (liltingly): Hello, Bob! Welcome to Libertarian Island. Care for a complimentary beverage?

BOB (confused): What – what happened?

BLONDE (comfortingly): That’s really not important, Bob. Everything will be explained to you shortly. I’m just here to provide you with your complimentary beverage. Do you want it or not? It’s got a cute little umbrella and everything!

BOB (totally lost): Uh…yes???

(The BLONDE hands him the drink, which he sips tentatively. A huge smile blossoms across his face.)

BOB: Wow! That’s the best martini I’ve ever had. How did you know it was my favorite?

BLONDE (wagging her finger, flirtily stern): Uh-uh-uh! Drink up!

(BOB finishes his drink. His eyelids lower to half mast as the potent alcohol kicks in.)

BOB (tipsy): Thanks, uh…what did you say your name was?

BLONDE (coldly): I didn’t. (lifts her wrist to her mouth) Okay, he’s ready.

(She walks away, completely indifferent now that she has performed her duty, and happily situates herself on the lounge chair from whence she came.)

BOB: What – where are you going?

(He starts to follow her, but a man clad all in white robes steps in front of him, blocking his access to the BLONDE. The man looks like a Ken doll, the ultimate Republican idea of perfection. In fact, his name is KEN. Cool, huh?)

KEN: Now, BOB, let’s just calm down. My name is KEN, and I’m here to officially welcome you to – Libertarian Island!

(A banner unfurls from the palm trees between which BOB’s hammock is tied. The pristine white, beautifully-inked banner reads, of course, “Welcome to Libertarian Island.” Below that declaration are the words “Freedom IS Free! Free, Freedy, Freedelicious Freedom!”)

BOB (in awe): Cool!

KEN: I’m here to be your guide and to help make your stay more enjoyable.

BOB: How could it be more enjoyable? I mean, (gesturing) LOOK at this place!

KEN: Well, BOB, this place certainly is beautiful. But this is not where you’re going to be staying. Step this way, please.

(KEN leads BOB past the bikini babes, who loftily ignore him, and towards a dirt path in the elegant green sward. After a minute of walking, BOB notices something strange.)

BOB: Hey KEN – is that a door?!

KEN: Yes it is, BOB. You see, you were in the visitor’s section of Libertarian Island. When you go through this door, you will see the rest of the island. I promise, you’re going to love it!

BOB (confidently): Of course I will. I mean, this is Libertarian Island, so I’m assuming we’ve got that damn government out of our lives and are free to create a better society through choice and competition!

KEN: Ab-so-LUTELY! (opening the door) And heeeeerrrre we are!

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Empathy for the Devil

I posted a while ago that You Gotta Have Heart. I am hereby proving I’m a good liberal gal by demonstrating that I unnerstan’ what it’s like to be George W. Bush these days.

See, in the early days of his appointment to the Presidency in 2001, Bush was riding high. “Heh-heh – Ah really CAN create mah own reality! Ah wasn’t even elected and Ah’m still Preznit!”

Soon, his popularity sank like a stone as people realized he was no brighter than a monkey with a lobotomy. But then – the beautiful, the amazing trifecta was hit on September 11, 2001. The whole country united behind him, and he gained an all-purpose shield for every law he broke. Moreover, the press, never exactly adverse to Dubya’s “charms”, felt it was unpatriotic to do anything but lie down at his feet and grovel. They came up with adjectives that beggar belief – “Churchillian” being one of them, “a treat in jeans” another. This self-affirming hall of mirrors, though reflecting only Bush’s own opinions and those of the pundit class, lasted right up until the devastation of Hurricane Katrina cracked them.

And thus, the nightmare of George W. Bush began, accelerating ever faster after the disaster (for him) of November 7, 2006.

I can imagine that being Bush is like being me, in some ways. I’m of a body type, for example, that was much more popular 50 years ago, in the age of Marilyn Monroe. Everywhere I go, I see images of “beautiful” women that look nothing like me, and that furthermore, I could never emulate even if I starved myself into anorexia. These images are so prevalent that every morning, I’m still briefly surprised that their created reality is not the same as mine, and that I have not, in fact, turned into a 6-foot, 110-pound supermodel overnight.

Bush must be feeling some of the same confusion. After all, he’s moved from his own reality, where he is, in fact, the dictator and everything he does is legal and praiseworthy, to the fact-based reality of Nixonian disapproval ratings, GOP desertions, forced resignations and criminal indictments abounding, and the increasing certainty of his party achieving permanent minority status.

Empathy is a good liberal quality, and I’m glad I have it. But sympathy for this murdering, traitorous bastard? That, I just can’t drum up.

You Gotta Have Heart

When I was a tiny tot, my mom and dad taught me about the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

In order for you to put the Golden Rule to work, you must have a quality that has fallen out of favor in today’s hyper-masculine, over-militarized age: empathy.

I believe that people who lack empathy are capable of accepting almost any outrage without feeling the slightest twinge in their complacent minds. As long as they feel that whatever it is – poverty, hunger, torture, illegal wiretapping, imprisonment, irradiation with depleted uranium, PTSD – is not happening personally to them, they just couldn’t care less. In other words, these unfeeling people are the hard core of today’s Republic Party. Thus, they are able to support the President no matter what he does.

Remember when Bill Clinton’s refrain “I feel your pain” was relentlessly mocked as being somewhat, er, effeminate? Now, Republic candidates like Mitt “Magic Briefs” Romney (h/t Sinfonian) scream that they want to DOUBLE GITMO!!! More torture! More war! I’m so manly, I can only grunt!!! ARRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!

If you’re going to be President of the United States, you are presiding over hundreds of millions of people. Anyone who can’t follow the Golden Rule should not, and must not, get the job.