Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Who Really Speaks For Mary Jo?

I guess it's always a matter of whose ends and whose means. The Justice Department prepares to investigate CIA agents who may have stepped over the line to protect their country. Andrew Sullivan bristles when a columnist ponders whether it was appropriate to torture the Sept. 11 mastermind to see if he knew of more plots. Meanwhile two writers openly speculate about whether the death by slow suffocation of Mary Jo Kopechne was worth the subsequent blossoming of Sen. Kennedy's legislative career. First, Melissa Lafsky wrote:
Who knows -- maybe she'd feel it was worth it.
Only to be seconded by one of our country's most respected novelists and critics, Joyce Carol Oates:
[I]f one weighs the life of a single young woman against the accomplishments of the man President Obama has called the greatest Democratic senator in history, what is one to think?
As a Christian, I get that redemption can come from tragedy. Kennedy himself seems to have looked at it in that light. Oates's larger point is also about redemption. But this utilitarian-sounding weighing of the large good vs. the one instance of bad -- especially when imputed to the young woman herself -- is beyond the pale in that it would seem to invite the opportunistic to make the case for the purportedly small evil in advance.

No comments: