Thursday, May 21, 2009

Well now, everything dies, baby, thats a fact

Two posts in a week? Maybe three... I'm plotting against ripper. Doan quite know how to keep it vicious yet tasteful...

Um. Well, there's this. I dunno how many of you would be interested in this. Tiananmen was a while ago, and China is changing so fast...

And I'm not even sure how much I sympathize with the protesters. I was in Tiananmen square a few years later (coincidently on the anniversary of the massacre) and I really had a hard time imagining what they could have accomplished even in a best case scenario.

However, the massacre was a horrific reaction. And Zhao Ziyang was one of the victims.

Why am I posting on this? Cuz of two people I respect greatly. Both of whom lived more than 2000 years ago.


And Him.

The important thing to remember about Socrates... he kinda detested democracy. But he believed in the law. His death in no short measure was the result of his standing up for people against lynch mobs. His death sentence was a hypocricy... it was assumed that he would leave Athens for exile.

He didn't. And, as the cliche goes... spoke truth to power, using his death to give a grim authority to his message. As a defender of Athenian law against those who would abuse it... he could not in his final hour ignore the same law as it came for his life.

Now, most of you probably know that... Sima Qian is less well known in the west. Sima Qian is to chinese (and by extension east asian) history what Socrates was to western philosophy.

Sima Quin was a well connected official in the early Han dynasty who decided to speak out against the unjust trial of a han army officer. For his honesty he was sentenced to... well... castration.

Now... this is china. There are ways around this. The first is a big bribe... but because of the political nature of Quin's "crime," he was unable to raise any money.

Like in socrates's case, this was just window dressing... the "criminal" was intended to kill himself rather than suffer such indignity. The wiki article has Quin's thoughts on the matter...

Anyway... he accepted the mutilation. And he spent the rest of his life writing the first modern chinese histories. Which were hidden until political circumstances changed.

There's a story that he sent his writings into the mountains... and wrote to the emperor that on the day of the emperor's death, the histories would return... and on that day, Quin, and truth, would have revenge.

Just a bit of context. This is the tradition followed by such Ziyang. The revenge of the honest man against the pitiless state.

So the next time Keith Olberman bitches about being repressed... well.

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