The World According to Humphrey

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Can something good come of this?

Posted by humphreysworld on September 1, 2010

Must have an earnest desire to
save the world. Apply in person.”

That is the ad that prompted that main character in Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael to begin one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read. Do you think James Jay Lee thought he had an earnest desire to change the world when he stormed in guns blazing at 1 o’clock this afternoon?

I began with that quote because in his manifesto/list of demands, James purports to be speaking the truth from Quinn’s principal message. For some time now, Lee has waged a protest against Discovery Communications, and in fact was arrested in 2008 and served 2 years probation for his antics. Probation that ended just two weeks ago.  So why did Lee hold a grudge against Discovery and what does that have to do with the books?

Nothing. And everything. There’s no real way to summarize the books of Ishamel into a talking point. But this blurb from an Amazon review might give you a glimpse into the books message, and and Lee’s perverted thinking:

Once more, Quinn focuses on the Leavers and Takers, his terms for the two basic, warring kinds of human sensibility. The planet’s original inhabitants, the Leavers, were nomadic people who did no harm to the earth. The Takers, who have generally overwhelmed them, began as aggressive farmers obsessed with growth, were the builders of cities and empires, and have now, in the late 20th century, largely run out of space to monopolize.

Leavers and takers. We, human kind in our current form, are the takers. And you may disagree,  but I believe everything Quinn talks about from an ecological perspective is the truth. And even so, Lee managed to twist this into a tirade aimed at immigrants , war, the environment – and points to Discovery Communications as the medium behind a destructive message. Why Discovery?

American Loggers. Surviving the Cut. 19 Kids and Counting. Jon & Kate plus 8. Machines! Top Sniper. Future Weapons. These are just some of the shows that can be found on Discovery Communications programming. Shows that one could say glamorize exploiting the environment, over-population and the art of killing. Not to mention Discovery’s new show with the former Governor of Alaska, who has advocated on many occasions the need to tap the earth of its oily riches to support our energy needs. I can’t help but wonder. Do we need to rely on oil for energy, or is there a cleaner way to power our world without disrupting the balance of the earth and its creatures. Should we be tuning in every week to watch a family who continues to create babies without consideration of their environmental footprint? Has war become such a part of our every day lives that Discovery has en entire channel dedicated to all things military and destruction?

I am in no way supporting what James Jay Lee did or what he stood for. He spewed a lot of hatred in his list of demands, including deplorable things which I will not repeat here about immigrants, forced sterilization, etc. And he twisted Quinn’s quest to make us stop and think into a hateful message. Much like people of faith claim God hates gays or justify to themselves that its o.k. to kill abortion providers. More importantly, his dementia took him to the point where he put people and children in danger. With violence no less, something he claimed to detest! I am all for protest but this was NOT the way to do it. But his beef with Discovery and some of the programming its farming out to the public is perhaps enough to make a few of us think.*

Although the tale continues with Quinn’s sequel, the ending of Ishmael begs the question we need to all think about as we decide our place on this earth:



You tell me.

*There are many things about Discovery that are wonderful. Those of you who know me know that much of my t.v. enjoyment comes from shows on these channels. They have brought many- including myself- closer to the awesome power of nature and the beauty of our world than we ever imagined.


One Response to “Can something good come of this?”

  1. The Yapper said

    LOVE This Dionna! I read a news article about how Lee was influenced by Quinn and Al Gore. Of course, people are going to jump to blame these two very scientifically-based, very peaceful conservationists. It makes me sad and I sincerely hope we can all learn from this tragedy instead of using it as an excuse to call all people who care about the environment “hippies” or “radicals.”

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