#40 On Outrage and the Outrageous
Originally published on MARCH 09, 2005
ON OUTRAGE AND THE OUTRAGEOUS
I’ve been thinking (and no-that’s not a straight line). The problem with the thinking is that I have been doing it alone. I don’t have to do all the thinking here, but after close to three weeks of doing it alone, it has occurred to me that I should do that part of the thinking that affects this publication-well, here. And why not?
OutlawHistory.com was set up to address the criminalization of Holocaust revisionist arguments, and I planned for the Outlaw Newsletter to follow in that needed direction. It is obvious from the first 43 issues of Outlaw that once I (my Webmaster) created the layout for the page, I did not follow the concept. I was all over the place. Of course, life itself is all over the place, a fact that I find intriguing, and which accounts for the form I chose long ago for my writing.
My literary form has always been the journal. I have never deviated from it in any substantial way, no matter how many times I should have. No matter in which direction life pushes and hauls me along, my inclination is to record the situation, what thought and memory (if there is a difference) do with what’s there. This can be terribly boring for the reader, but those who find it boring leave my company and go about their more focused interests.
My friend Ted was down here in Baja with us for three days. He’s smarter than me and when I told him that I was considering replacing the Outlaw Newsletter with some kind of blog, but not a real blog, he said, “Why not? Everything you’ve ever written has been a blog.” I suppose what he meant is that what I do is anecdotal, autobiographical, and with no formal structure. Agreed, though I am more concerned with structure than it sometimes appears. It’s a structure that is pretty subjective in nature.
I have been surprised, with regard to this newsletter, that I do not quite like being associated with an “outlaw” image. OutlawHistory.com is a good domain name for a page that is dedicated to arguing against the increasing “criminalization” of Holocaust revisionism. Governments in one European nation after another (and Israel) have made it a criminal act to discuss openly what many of us discuss online in a routine manner. Aside from that strict construction of the concept, I just don’t feel like an outlaw.
“Outlaw” suggests a man who is anti-social. Memory recalls (with no help from me) the final heist that Jesse James and his partners were going to make. I think it was a bank job. He was shot and killed before he could carry out the gig. Part of the plan was to slit the throat of a key employee in the bank. I don’t recall anything else about the incident. But I was shocked to discover that Jesse, a charming and still romantic “outlaw” hero to many of us in the 1930s and 40s, was going to perform such an ugly act.
The “outlaw” is not usually thought of as a man who is against the State, but one who is willing to exploit and perhaps even brutalize ordinary citizens for his own gain. When outlaws are against the State we call them revolutionaries, insurgents, guerillas, patriots and so on, and invariably-invariably-they are willing to kill the innocent for the deeds of those they hold guilty. In that sense, I just don’t have “outlaw” sensibilities, “outlaw” thoughts.
I am sometimes outraged by what I perceive to be an outrageous act, but that passion soon passes. Life itself is outrageous-Dafour, the East Indian tsunami, Iraq, Palestine and so on, to mention only what I listened to on CNN over coffee this morning. On the odd occasion when I am afflicted with a surge of outrage, I usually look for ways to see the other in myself. I usually find it.
I do not have to feel outraged to argue against the outrageous. To argue against the outrageous law, to defend my family against an outrageous neighbor, my community against an outrageous attack. In the moment, outrage can be helpful. In the long run it produces more outrage, followed by more outrageous acts for you to feel outraged over.
Ho hum, eh?
I know. I’m all over the place here. And what’s worse, it’s to be continued .