Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"Everything's A Situation"

-- that's my favorite line from "NYPD Blue," which, more than 2 decades after it premiered, is still the gold standard for American broadcast-TV partial nudity.

Gail O'Grady, Amy Thankyoujesus Brenneman, are you kidding me??? Guh...

Where was I?

Ah yes: "Everything's a situation." Scott Allan Campbell (IAB Sgt Jerry Martens) said that to Jimmy Smits (Det Simone) in some situation which also involved Dennis Franz (Det Sipowicz). I have no idea what the situation was, I'm sure I forgot everything about the situation pretty quickly except that line and what it meant. To Dennis Franz, everybody from Internal Affairs was a rat, you never told them anything, you didn't have anything to do with any of them and that was that. To Jimmy Smits, Scott Allan Campbell was a human being standing in front of him telling him that everything was a situation, and the two of them found a way to work together and get something done.

I recently quit a Facebook group because I was unable to resolve an argument with a group member, and the group member was an admin, so I couldn't block him. He insisted that a religion is a set of beliefs, and that you can criticize the beliefs without criticizing the believers. I don't think you can. I think a religion is a group of people, and that this stuff about a religion being a set of beliefs is a convenient excuse for bad behavior on the part of some atheists, who heap scorn and abuse on a religion, and then add, "Now, don't get mad, because I wasn't criticizing any people, I was only criticizing their beliefs."

Of course, anybody who knows me at all well knows that I occasionally insult people. But I freely admit that that's what I'm doing. Watch, I'm going to do it some more right now:

Earlier today I watched a nauseating video of some yahoo who's a rather well-known professional religion-baiter and winner of at least one Atheist of the Year award, spewing abuse on Catholics. It occurred to me that parts of his tirade could have come word-for-word from an anti-Catholic rant by a leader of the KKK; it ended up with something like "[...]the Catholic Church hasn't done good in the world, and fuck you for saying it has!" Huh. 1500-some-odd years, over 1 billion people currently, and they haven't accomplished a thing, eh, Perfessor? And fuck anybody who dares to say something different? As someone who's been homeless and given food and shelter from Catholic churches and clergy, I would be remiss not to point out that I have experienced things personally which seem to indicate that this particular atheist leader is full of shit. He's the epitome of the kind of atheist I don't want to be associated with, the kind of New Atheist who I hope will make New Atheism fail, when atheist leaders emerge who understand how everything's a situation. Atheist leaders who, for example, can appreciate some of the things which Pope Francis is doing.

When you ask a group of atheists what they think of Pope Francis, some will go into the standard Catholic-bashing rant, including, of course, a mention of pedophile priests and the standard charge that the Vatican isn't doing anything against sexual abuse. Some, on the other hand, might have noticed that Francis introduced laws specifically mentioning such abuse as criminal offenses in Vatican City. A year and a half ago. In his first action as Pope to do with the laws of the state he governs.

Some atheists view Catholics the way Sipowicz views Internal Affairs: they're all evil, they're the enemy, period, done, there's no discussing it with them. Some look at Francis the way Simone looked at Sgt Martens: they see an actual human being who wants to change a few things and help. I look at Francis and I see someone more likely to change things in the Catholic Church for the better than all the New Atheists put together. Yeah, I don't believe in God, and yeah, there are a lot of other things besides that I disagree with Francis about: gay marriage and priestly celibacy come immediately to mind. If I ever meet someone I don't disagree with about something, I'll be sure and let you know. I can't recall having met such a person yet. My world isn't black-and-white, it's all grey.

Everything's a situation. These groups that haters hate, they're all people. Most Catholics hate the child abuse and want it dealt with. Most Muslims hate terrorism. Most Germans aren't Nazis. Most Southerners aren't racists -- the yahoo I mentioned above, the one who sounds like a Klansman when he rants against Catholics, he's a white Southerner, and might well become indignant if someone assumed, because he's from the South, that he's a racist -- as well he should. Might mention some of the many white Southerners who've fought and continue to fight for civil rights -- as well he should. I don't assume that he's a racist because he's a Southerner. I don't even assume it just because he's batshit-crazy on the subject of Catholicism.

And I'm also not going to claim that I didn't just insult him, but only his beliefs. Yeah, I insulted him. I felt he deserved it. I stand by my verbal abuse.

PS, 14. January 2017: Apparently I'm not the only one who ever thought that "everything's a situation" is pretty deep for being just 8 syllables long: "NYPD Blue" itself quoted the line. These days the show is on TV about 70 or 80 times a week, and now and then I watch an episode, and recently I was watching an episode which must have aired a couple of years after the one described above, and once again, there was tension between the squad's detectives and IAB, and Simone said something like this to Martens (reconstructed from memory, not an exact quote) : "I try to learn something each and every day if I can. A while ago you said something to me that stuck: 'everything's a situation.' 'Everything's a situation.' That was my lesson for that day." And I don't remember what that particular situation was, but apparently, Simon and Martens were once again able to work things out.


  1. This is good. I really like the analogy and how you carry it through, too. (I'm behind on my blog-reading and catching up - I read you through Feedly, so I'm not sure if it shows on your page count except when I click through to comment or share it.)

    1. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comment. I have no idea about Feedly and the page counts, I'm pretty low-tech. I've had an awesome smart phone for over a month, for an example of my level of tech-savvy, it's a Droif Mini and I love it, and just today I figured out how to take a selfie with it.