- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Devil's perspective

"In the first three weeks since its release in February, 'Hannibal' made $128 million at the box office.

"It's clear that fans weren't turned off by the talk about 'Hannibal's graphic violence or grim subject matter. But Hannibal is about a lot more than the story of a shrink turned cannibalistic serial killer… .

"Hannibal Lecter is what Boston College philosophy professor Thomas Hibbs has called a 'demonic anti-hero.' Your regular anti-hero, like your traditional hero, is a protagonist whom the audience is expected to identify with. The anti-hero usually did the right thing often despite himself… .

"Unlike the garden-variety anti-hero, demonic anti-heroes like Hannibal are unfettered from any moral system. That's what makes them monstrous. Not only are they free from moral codes of any kind, they bid the audience to celebrate this freedom. As Hibbs writes … the audience sees the world 'from the devil's perspective and [is invited to] share his comic take on the bankruptcy of all moral codes.' "

Roberto Rivera, writing on "Hannibal's Good & Evil," in Boundless at www.boundless.org

Porn as norm?

"It is troubling enough that hundreds of local cable-television providers apparently consider pornography channels just as normal as CNN. Now the telecommunications giant AT&T;, known for so many years as Ma Bell, has decided to become Madam Bell by offering the Hot Network which prides itself on being more explicit than the Playboy Channel as a pay-per-view option on its cable operations …

"Nobody questions that AT&T; can hit paydirt by offering pornography to its customers. But AT&T;'s critics ask what such crass pandering to people's instincts does to the corporation's soul …

"Too many Americans know the pain of dabbling in pornography or becoming addicted to it. AT&T; built its empire by providing an essential utility to the rapidly developing nation. Surely it can now do better than becoming just another smut-peddler.

from "Ma Bell, Madam," an editorial in the March 5 issue of Christianity Today

Muted message

"The issue of perceived moral decline … is a crucial one for conservative Republican strategists… .

"Republican strategists did not do as good a job as they could to rally voters on this issue in November. While Gore's core constituency was smaller than Bush's, he did a better job of coalescing them around his candidacy. Seventy percent of those who believed that we were on the right track morally (that is, nihilists, libertines, relativists, and radical individualists among us) voted for Gore. They were the source of 57 percent of his total vote.

"Of the much larger potential constituency of Americans who believed there was a pending moral crisis, Bush was able to attract only 62 percent … . Gore thus solidified his base. People who acquiesced to the culture of the liberal elite got the message that they had an investment in Gore's election. But the majority that is concerned about our country's moral condition did not perceive to the same degree that Bush's election was relevant to their fears.

"This was because Bush tended to muffle moral issues in his campaign, while Gore sought to reassure those morally concerned voters by selecting the religiously conservative Joseph Lieberman as his running mate and making anti-Hollywood noises that he was on their side."

Steve Wagner, writing on "Will Americans Bury the Hatchet?" in the January issue of Crisis

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