Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

For two weeks I have been working as an EMT. In that time I have transported about 30 people in my ambulance, ranging from an 18 month old baby with severe problems to a comatose 102-year old woman. I have taken their vital signs, tried to comfort them if they were crying, administered oxygen, covered them with blankets, lifted them in and out of stretchers, and helped carry them up stairs in a special "stair chair". Among others, I have carried the psychotic, the severely depressed and the suicidal, and I found out the first day on the job that you stop thinking about your own relatively tiny problems when you spend your day with people who are really suffering.

It is a job mainly done by much younger people, and its been a real point of pride for me that at age 47 I've been able to keep up so far. Its the hardest and one of the best jobs I've ever done. For years I've thought that doing helpful work really meant being involved at a very abstract, strategic level, but I am reminded now that sometimes you do best down on the ground. I never leave a patient without saying that I enjoyed our conversation, and wishing him or her the best of luck.

I can be reached as always at jw@bway.net.

Jonathan Wallace

Dear Jonathan:

Do you remember the article I supplied you last year? Well, the sort of incidental destabilising of Pakistan that I foresaw - though not in detail - is just precisely what is coming home to roost right now. And we missed the boat in shoring things up in the subcontinent. Now if I could tell that these things needed preventative attention, and not just with hindsight, what are they paying all those experts for?

Peter Lawrence peterl@netlink.com.au

Hi Jonathan,

I stumbled on your Orwell 1984 page thanks to a reader's comments.

In fairness, Orwell described 1984 in other writing as a "satire" and said it was not a prophecy, but rather that something "like it" "could happen" if we are nto thoughtful and attentive enough.

He based the tactics of the state not only on Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany but also on his own experience as a British government propagandist in WWII. The themes were drawn out in 1945 period essays like "Politics and the English Language" and "Notes on Nationalism". At heart, almost all Orwell writing is a reaction, not primarily to world events, but to the attitudes of his fellows in the English intelligentsia.


Matthew Hogan Hoganzeroes@aol.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Karla fay's death was a tragedy for the state of Texas because she could have been used to speak to young teens about the evils of drug useage. My opinion is that she was killed because she was female and the state did not want to show favor over men. I think she was sincere and could have been used as a positive force and still remain behind bars.


Joe Shepard Oldshad13@aol.com



The Murder of Officer Danny Faulkner
the real victims--a police officer and his wife

On December 9, 1981, at approximately 3:55 a.m., Officer Danny Faulkner, a five-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, made traffic stop at Locust Street near Twelfth Street. The car stopped by Officer Faulkner was being driven by William Cook. After making the stop, Danny called for assistance on his police radio and requested a police wagon to transport a prisoner. Unbeknownst to him, William Cook^s brother, Wesley (aka Mumia Abu-Jamal) was across the street. As Danny attempted to handcuff William Cook, Mumia Abu-Jamal ran from across the street and shot the officer in the back. Danny turned and was able to fire one shot that struck Abu-Jamal in the chest; the wounded officer then fell to the pavement. Mumia Abu-Jamal stood over the downed officer and shot him four more times at close range, once directly in the face. Mumia Abu-Jamal was found still at the scene of the shooting by officers who arrived there within seconds. The murderer was slumped against the curb in front of his brother^s car. In his possession was a .38 caliber revolver that records showed Mumia had purchased months earlier. The chamber of the gun had five spent cartridges. A cab driver, as well as other pedestrians, had witnessed the brutal slaying and identified Mumia Abu-Jamal as the killer both at the scene and during his trial. On July 2, 1982, after being tried before a jury of ten whites and two blacks, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Officer Danny Faulkner. The next day, the jury sentenced him to death after deliberating for two hours. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania heard the defendant's appeals and upheld the conviction on March 6, 1989.

Officer Danny Faulkner joined the ranks of those courageous officers who have given their lives to keep our nation's streets safe and free. Danny and his wife, Maureen, had been married only slightly more than a year. Now, she was left a widow with only her memories of the young officer to comfort her and dreams of the life they could have shared together. Danny and Maureen Faulkner are the real victims of that horrible night in December 1981. It is for them that we seek justice.


AND IN CLOSING HERE IS A QUOTE FROM THE TRIAL At trial, Gary Bell, Danny Faulkner^s Former Partner, testified that he heard Abu-Jamal say of Faulkner, "I shot that m-----f----- and I hope the m-----f----- dies."

Charles Bernstein cbernstein3@comcast.net

Charles leaves out a few salient facts. Abu Jamal's gun was not tested to see if it had just been fired, nor was the bullet which killed Faulkner ever matched to Abu Jamal's weapon. Two police officers accompanied Abu Jamal to the hospital. One filed a report saying that he was unconscious and made no statement. The other "remembered" his confession long after the fact. This officer testified at trial, while the other took a vacation and was unavailable to testify. Some eyewitnesses recanted, saying they had been threatened by the police into identifying Abu Jamal as the killer. Philadelphia cops have a long, verified history of lying to gain convictions. Here, you have a collection of sloppy or absent ballistics work, suspicious and convenient later recollections of a confession it is extremely unlikely Abu Jamal ever made, and the coercion of witnesses. Though Abu Jamal may have killed Officer Faulkner, the state failed to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. I am against the death penalty under any circumstances, but we certainly shouldn't kill people based on this kind of lamentable performance by the police and prosecution.

I just read your review of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, you've raised some excellent points and although I strongly disagree the clients should not have been able to even attempt the summit without proper training or experience however, can any of us judge anyone's actions in the event of such a catastrophe. Jon Krakauer was there as a journalist and he documented the truth regardless if he's being compensated for it or not but to go as far as saying he's rewritten Lord of the Flies troubles me somewhat. By no means is this an attack on your review I would just like some more in depth parallel's of the two books, if you don't mind responding back. wurthcan@meeny.adgrafix.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just read The Voices of Semi-Automatics. I each incodent you sited the person supposedly purchased the gun legaly. Purchasing a gun with the intent to do harm/murder to another isn't legal. Secondly if these people have the intent of cuicide or what ever they qualify as mentaly ill. which also puts the purchase as illegal as well.

However this does have one fallacy it leaves it up to the individual to regulate himself on those matters.

As a U.S Marine Major, the suggestion to close gun shows gives me a desire to put a 50 cal desert eagle to the person who suggested it chest and exploding them. That is the most idiotic thing i heard in my whole entire life. Can't blame guns for the actions of stupid wihite boys. Might as well blame knifes since they are very common in crimes. Hey, lets bann knifes, people dont need them, they can use their teeth.


The most ignorant and violent mail I get is from the Second Amendment types like this marine. This is the third or fourth email I've gotten over the years suggesting I should be killed (or threatening to do it) for expressing my views on guns.

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Mr. Wallace:

i happened upon your site today from a search engine - i don't remember how. i couldn't stop reading.

i really appreciate how you maintain an even, objective tone throughout, to the point of mentioning other more recent genocides that so many people casually consider an anomaly.

it's really hard to imagine how "people" could be so cruel. the points that stick with me are the "why" page mention of the denial of a bit of water, for no reason, and the story of the little girl saying "it hurts, it hurts." i don't think about the holocaust much - maybe once every couple years i'll read about it - but it's just so ... extreme, it really goes beyond my understanding.

anyway, thanks for the very well-written and well-documented site. of you have a suggested reading list, for example of books where people can find the quotes you used in the site, that would be a good addition


joe joe@joe.to


I've been looking back over your Alphabet page. I have a link to your site...from my site below. http://www.geocities.com/mamashills/GypsyChild.html

(Please turn up your sound if you visit my pages)

I just wanted to say thank you, for caring enough to build this alphabet website. It helps tremendously to enlighten others about what really happened.

Warm Regards,
Donna Porter jimmyporter1@comcast.net

Dear Mr Wallace:

I believe that your Auschwitz Alphabet is a very important contribution to this subject.

I wonder if you are familiar with the ducational materials produced by the SURVIVORS OF THE SHOA visual HISTORY FOUNDATION in Los Angeles.


Jonathan Goldberg jgoldberg@bernsteins.org

Hello Jonathan:

I read with interest and admiration your compilation of an alphabet history of the Halocaust. It seems to have been assembled with care, containing both sobering and interesting stories. A few private thoughts to follow.

I would like to suggest that you reconsider one of your conclusions: That there is no God.

Occam's razor is oft-cited as a cause to accept a reductivist view of many subjects, and although I myself subscribe to Occam's razor, the true sense of Occam's instruction is sometimes lost. For the goal is not to merely reduce all things to their simplest form, but rather to simplify to the simplest workable explanation and no further.

In this case, both reasonable logic and theological truth suggest that it was the sheer absence of God that precipitated the terrible events of the Halocaust. Had God been present in the hearts of the perpetrators, they would not have perpetrated to begin with. This is not merely a philosophical pretense but if you have read history of the Nazis, I am sure you are aware that Hitler desired to control not just all of German society but to suppress the churches as well and replace Christianity and Catholicism as well as Judaism with a form of pagan nationalist religion in which the state reigned supreme.

You may argue that man can survive without God's inspiration, and that God is frequently misinterpreted toward evil ends. The first is debatable; the second is certainly true.

However in the first case, if man relies on his own inspiration he becomes a slave to morality that is self-justified, that does not force him to question himself according to higher principles. In so accepting, he can only conclude that morality is humanly subjective and that any plans and machinations can be justified towards an enlightened greater good.

With humility toward God and toward seeking the truth, this problem can be somewhat assuaged.

In fact as I am sure you have found in your research, it is not the recitation of God's instruction that caused men to brutally and carelessly snuff out the lives of other human beings, but rather, a most perverse and tortured departure from the love that God instructs us to have.

The simplest credible explanation that reason can provide, in my opinion, is that the Halocaust happened not because God does not exist... but because human beings did not humble themselves before God.

Even if you do not accept, I expect that this will offer you a reasonable foundation for the faith that people have. It is not incompatible to have faith in God and wish to do God's will in one's life, and to consider that good or innocent people lose everything to evil in this world.

God may be dead in the hearts of some people, but that does not demonstrate that God is dead.

As for how God can permit lives to end unjustly in this world, that is a matter of faith. There is no question that Halocaust or not, all our lives are subjected to uncertainty and injustice. Life is inexorably unfair, although I strongly believe we can do things to prevent injustice in accordance with God's instruction. I personally have faith that a true God will not fail good people in the end, and their suffering will not have been in vain... even if they do not see it in their own lifetimes.

This places a tremendous responsibility on those of us who have privileges in our lives, to prevent injustice from occurring. It is not an easy burden to bear, but a sincere faith in a loving, caring God inevitably leads to this path of thinking. I would suggest that the presence or absence of God's intervention in this world is not defined by what evil can and does happen, but by our willingness to follow God's instruction in preventing it. This puts a tremendous burden of responsibility -- but also a large degree of free agency -- in the hands of us as individuals and in our fellow human beings.

It may be that in your life, and in the lives of others, the proof of God can be found in subtle things. God may speak to you in ways you did not expect, if you listen with an open heart.

Some food for thought.


Name withheld