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I have sometimes thought that, if you want to know, in one easy step, much about how a person was brought up, simply sit down with him or her and put a hunk of cheese between you. I’m a habitually non-interventionist person in other people’s affairs, but when I see someone cut away the rind while leaving a considerable margin of edible cheese on it, I want to jump up and take the knife out of their hands.

What does their practice mean? I’m convinced (and I’ve given this some thought) that it means that they were brought up with lots of money and no urge to economy. I’ve known extremely rich people who were at least as conscious of waste as I—anything but rich—am. I can understand the Fifth Avenue matron who goes around turning off unnecessary lights all the time (based on personal observation), but I’m at a loss when confronted with people who don’t even notice waste.
There’s a British expression of contempt that I know only from fiction: “Cheese-paring.” I imagine that it refers to us who have horror of waste.
In fact, I just Googled the term for the first time:
cheese-paring
adjective
1.
extremely careful with money.
“cheese-paring methods necessitated by desperate shortages”

This must be one reason I get along with the Catalans, since this is traditionally a chief complaint about them by the Spanish.

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We began with a new verdict in which Spanish justice justified a brutal rape. That it is of far more than local interest is shown by the fact that the story has since been picked up by media around the world; and we continued to other stories that seem to be part of the same syndrome of immunity for crime if it’s committed by the right people.

Here’s the video:
http://www.elpuntavui.tv/video/266719191.html

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There have been some distressing instances recently of Spanish judges accusing people, not of actual past acts, but of presumed intentions to commit or incite certain acts deemed by the court to be criminal. From the bench, they claimed to see crimes in the future of people who were clearly completely innocent but whom they imprisoned preventatively.

Jean-Marie Vianney (1786–1859), a priest so much beloved in France that his body is still on display behind glass, earned his renown by his creativity in judging, or non-judging, others. An example of this came when a widow was disconsolate over the recent death of her husband, who had committed suicide by jumping off a bridge—her assumption being that he died unrepentant of the sin of killing himself and thus fitted himself for hell. Monsieur le Curé, far more imaginative than the despairing woman, consoled her with: “Remember, Madame, that there is a little distance between the bridge and the water.” Thus, they had no right to draw limits on what his state of mind may have been before he died. This applies to many situations in which we don’t have windows into the minds of others.

It’s no wonder that the 230 inhabitants of the little town of Ars, where Vianney served the people, became renowned for their thoughtful consideration of human responsibility, which included suspension of judgment against neighbors when it could be justified. This had such a startling effect in the decades after the French Revolution that, by 1855, the number of people coming to consult the Curé d’Ars had reached 20,000 a year.

There is plenty of evil around us, but it’s good not to assume it until we’re forced to.

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VIDEO of this program

Especially to my friends and other contacts abroad:

The Catalan Interior Minister, Joaquin Forn, presided over the response to the August terrorist attacks in Catalonia that quickly rounded up or killed all the terrorists involved. The Spanish state was furious at the efficiency involved.  Abundant actions of the Spanish authorities before and since lend credence to the idea that terrorism in Catalonia could allow them to justify taking greater control of the territory before the referendum on independence that had been legislated by the Catalan Parliament, but—against all the impediments put in their way—the Catalans themselves dealt with the emergency as none of the other places that have suffered terrorist attacks have done.

The Spanish authorities have now admitted in their Congress that the imam who organized the terrorist cell was in the pay of the Spanish secret service. They had chosen not to notify the Catalan authorities of that or of the possible terrorist plot (while also barring the Catalan police from Interpol intelligence, which European police have a right to have). Under Mr. Forn’s direction, the Catalan police (Mossos d’Esquadra) earned the admiration of the world—but the enmity of Madrid, which has harassed them ever since. Their heroic commander, Major Josep Lluís Trapero, was demoted to an office job in which he now makes photocopies instead of deploying his skills and knowledge in defense of the people, and the Minister has been imprisoned without bail or trial since October, in an unheated cell during the notoriously bitter Madrid winter. Unsurprisingly, he now has contracted tuberculosis, and the Spanish authorities refuse to let him receive treatment.

Mr. Forn was thus also a member of the Catalan government that allowed the people to vote in referendum on October 1, and this is the given reason for charging him and others with “sedition and rebellion” and holding them until a trial that is promised for next year! (As you probably know, other members of that Catalan government have been forced into exile in three different democratic countries in order to avoid that treatment and to be free to communicate to the world what is happening.) But the revenge against Mr. Forn now becomes particularly inhumane. The details are too much for me to go into here, but they are shocking—as in fact they are for all these innocent prisoners, separated from their families by 504 kilometers (313 miles) and unable to be seen all through the months and the holidays, even by their small children and a tiny infant, except in short visits through glass.

An appeal to the glacially moving European Court of Human Rights is clearly not the answer. Quim Forn doesn’t have eleven years to wait for medical care, or at least a cell whose temperature is above freezing. Why is the world standing by while this sort of thing proliferates daily under the persistent cruelty of Franco’s heirs who are in control of Spain?

If you have any influence with authorities or media that might help expose such horrors as are going on under Spanish rule at this moment, please use it.

With thanks,

Roger

 

A little later:

I’m often asked by Catalans why I, an American citizen, take this whole matter so much to heart and why it inhabits so much of my time and activity, and I usually answer with a bit of history of the United States and of my own family. But I am far from alone. The leading non-Catalan advocate here for Catalonia’s rights is another American, my friend Liz Castro, and many others—notably in the Nordic and Baltic countries—are energetic supporters. Just today has come this magnificent interview (in English) with a German professor whose thoughts exactly mirror my own:

https://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/axel-schonberger-spain-hasnt-been-a-democracy-since-october-27-2017/

A Half-Hour Life

February 1, 2018

 

Have you ever undertaken to account for your whole life and career in a half hour—and in public? I had that experience the other day with a very genial interviewer whom I was meeting for the first time. The necessary over-generalizations and omissions in such a situation were affected by the fact that, just as we finished the interview, they came out of the control room to tell us that there had been a computer failure and that we had to do the interview all over again. Since both Nicole Millar and I felt awkward going over the same material as though it were a script (complete with her acting surprised by things that she already knew), I said rather different things—though she sometimes prompted me a little with material from the previous go.

Fortunately, viewers sent messages indicating that they found the summary plausible and not uninteresting:

http://www.elpuntavui.tv/video/252729475.html

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http://www.elpuntavui.tv/video/251649571.html

Bon Nadal! / Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2017

May we all take advantage of the blessings available to us in the celebrations that approach!