Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston: Piety or Plain Talk?

A friend wondered why, in the wake of Whitney Houston’s death, the news media focused more on her drug abuse than on her music.  I was castigated for defending them.  I was told that such talk was disrespectful.  I was told that there are times to speak and times to be silent, and that this is the time to be silent.
It is not.
Silence in the face of death and the gruesome things that cause it is simply not right.  At such times, we must give voice to death's victims.  In this case, we must give voice to the voice that drug abuse silenced.  If you liked her voice, then speak out against what stopped it.  This is the time when we must "rage against the dying of the light," when we lament "the day the music died," and denounce openly and precisely what killed it.  This is the day when we say the things the dead would say if they could return to say it.
I get enormously weary of the pensive, demurring, eyes-lowered, hands-folded, church mouse piety that, even in the face of death itself, cannot muster an echo, or the echo of an echo, of prophetic denunciation, and that flatters itself as respectful and prudent when all the while it has done nothing more noble than shamefacedly to slough off its obligation to call things by their real names.  I am sick of the passive-aggressive, self-congratulatory posing of pietists who think themselves too holy to enter the fray.
If you respected Whitney Houston, you’ll denounce what killed her.  If you loved her music, you’ll speak out against what brought it to an end.  You won’t wait until the time is right because that time is now.
As pacifists are to tyrants, silence mongers are to pushers -- a dream come true.
Better far to be their worst nightmare.


Ken Pierce said...

Excellent Dr. B!

Anonymous said...

Great article Dr. Bauman!

Drug abuse, seems to be almost glorified in Hollywood. You've got Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and many more who are portrayed as tragic heroes. The problem with fame and fortune and a certain amount of power, is that once it's lost, a person has nothing to turn to. They lose their identity and everything they had. Whitney Houston lost her ability to sing, perhaps from drug abuse, perhaps from age. Why do we even spend so much time talking about famous people and their deaths? Are they more important than everyone else?! It's really disheartening to have the media filled up with this idol worship of the rich and famous.

Meredith A.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

The little boy who said the emperor had no clothes got spanked multiple times by many different people.

Other adults and children saw the little boy being spanked repeatedly for telling the truth. They did not want to get spanked either. So they kept silent.

The end.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Whitney Houston: Piety or Plain Talk?

Dear Mike,

(If I may drop the formalities) Have you ever encountered this objection to your claim that you are just making honest, plain, and helpful talk: "Mike, you're lacking tact and being insensitive."

I don't know if your wife ever said something like that to you, but what if she did. Whaddya gonna do?

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

I figure that sometimes my duty is not to be tactful as much as it is to be fully truthful, to call things by their real names. It wasn't tactful of Jesus to call Peter Satan in front of all his friends. But it was right. It wasn't tactful for Paul to suggest that his opponents go emasculate themselves (Gal 5:12), but it was right.

By the way, many thanks for continuing to post your comments here. They are always welcome.

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

A few relevant lines from Sir Henry Wotton:

How happy is he born and taught
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dr. Bauman,

I'm so much in your corner (as my blog handle indicates), but let me push you a little further.

"I figure that sometimes my duty is not to be tactful as much as it is to be fully truthful, to call things by their real names."

Tact and sensitivity (often translated as "refrain from speaking a hurtful truth") is oftentimes seen as more loving than speaking the "plain" truth.

When you get criticized as not being loving in your speaking out the truth (on whatever it is), i.e., that you are shouting to people who are deaf to what you are saying, then what to do? Keep on speaking the truth? Criticize those who are trying to silence you? Or withdraw?

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

It's a judgment call that is hard to make beforehand. But there does come a time when you decide to stop casting pearls before swine -- assuming we don't suppose it's insensitive to call folks swine (wink).

But the call is mine to make, not theirs. I'll speak the truth in love, always knowing that sometimes love is tough. But I won't be censored by the word police. I'm not opposed to sensitivity. I am opposed to passive-aggressive tyranny by the gentility mongers.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I am opposed to passive-aggressive tyranny by the gentility mongers."

Suggestion. To be even more tactful and sensitive with this statement, you should include an exclamation point. This is better:

I am opposed to passive-aggressive tyranny by the gentility mongers!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I read this somewhere recently and it pertains to this post:

(Paraphrasing) "The problem with Political Correctness is this: The question is no longer "Is this true?" but instead "Will this offend anyone?"