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Apr 04 2013

Goddamn cancer

Just days after announcing a slowdown to deal with his cancer, Roger Ebert dies. Of cancer.

79 comments

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  1. 1
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    goddamnit.

    RIP Roger.

  2. 2
    evilisgood

    This is very sad. Fucking cancer.

    Nobody ripped on bad movies quite like Ebert. I’ll miss him.

  3. 3
    Peter Zachos

    I’m shocked. Truly shocked. He prevailed for so long, and his tuesday blog post seemed characteristically in the spirit of his relentless determination. Still, something in me had an inkling, given his absence from reviewing for the past couple of months. What a tragic loss. He was such a good thinker and writer.

  4. 4
    Argle Bargle

    Ebert wrote his own memorial. This is from the Sun-Times obituary linked in the OP:

    “‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoirs. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhapy is where all crime starts. We must try to contriube joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”

  5. 5
    Travis

    Very sad news. He was one of the few people writing about film that I actually enjoyed. His writing was always enjoyable and thoughtful no matter what topic he was discussing.

  6. 6
    Jason Fischer

    This hit me hard. I just read about his recurrence yesterday – but I hoped he still had a few years left…

    His “Great Movies” essays helped me fall in love with movies and his blog writings made him seem like a warm, compassionate individual with a deep love of humanity. His writings about his struggle with cancer are inspiring.

  7. 7
    bwells

    I thought his words from an Esquire magazine article a few years back that is also on his wikipedia page were quite touching…

    “I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris”

  8. 8
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    This sucks.

  9. 9
    bittys

    It’s going to take Iain Banks within the next 12 months too.

    Goddamn cancer.

  10. 10
    grignon

    Ah crap.
    How good was he at what he did?
    I don’t like watching films. It just isn’t an experience that gives any significant pleasure.
    But I really enjoyed his reviews. His love for the medium came through and that was my vicarious enjoyment.

  11. 11
    Ysidro

    And Ruth Prawler Jhabvala died.

    And Iain Banks announced he has cancer and doesn’t expect to last the year.

    Le sigh….

  12. 12
    Travis

    That Sun Times story has some depressing comments, I just saw this one:

    ”I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death.” ~ Rodger Ebert.

    I guess he’s getting a thumbs up or down now, it’s sad he was an atheist who was bitter at the end of his life – like many end up. Death stalks us all, atheists are sad, sad people.

  13. 13
    terrencekaye

    Travis, you’re a fucking idiot. You have ZERO evidence of Mr. Ebert’s state of mind at the end of his life. Why don’t you read the reference above from bwells. If you can read, that is.

  14. 14
    Rob Grigjanis

    I immediately thought of these words (they stayed with me as much as the film did) from his review of Testament;

    In fact, [Jane] Alexander’s performance makes the film possible to watch without unbearable heartbreak, because she is brave and decent in the face of horror. And the last scene, in which she expresses such small optimism as is still possible, is one of the most powerful movie scenes I’ve ever seen.

    From a man who knew about bravery and decency in the face of horror.

  15. 15
    otrame

    it’s sad he was an atheist who was bitter at the end of his life

    He thinks that was bitter? Really? Wow.

    I am almost 63 and probably have another 20-30 years (unless I get cancer, which is not very prevalent in my family), and then I will be dead. I don’t fear death, per se, but I don’t want to cease existing, though I know I will. So I agree with Roger:

    I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do.

    Bye, Roger. You done good.

  16. 16
    mikeyb

    That’s truly horrible. Ebert was one of the critics I truly admired and respected. I can say that I’ve watched many movies, particular his great film recommendations on Roger’s advice which was almost always right on. When he said a movie was great, it was generally great; when he said it was terrible, it almost always was terrible. Sometimes in between I might have disagreed with his opinions. I think he may have liked the dreadful unnamed Mel Gibson film, but you can’t get’m all right. Anyway to his credit, he was also an educated well informed member of the media which in itself is a credit, who didn’t suffer ignoramus fools like Ben Stein, which was also well appreciated.

    I will greatly miss Roger Ebert. Life well lived.

  17. 17
    Travis

    terrencekaye,
    Feel free to read the first line of my post. I will quote it here to make it easy for you:

    That Sun Times story has some depressing comments, I just saw this one

    Also, generally blockquotes are used for, you know, quotes. Things other people have said. I was posting an example of a quote that I found to be depressing and sad. Not agreeing with it.

  18. 18
    Travis

    Okay, rereading it I can see where someone might think I just did a poor blockquote job. The entire blockquote is the comment from the Sun Times article.

  19. 19
    Ben P

    Okay, rereading it I can see where someone might think I just did a poor blockquote job. The entire blockquote is the comment from the Sun Times article.

    I thought the quote was pretty obvious.

  20. 20
    Travis

    At least the comments are being cleaned up. The one I quoted seems to be gone, as well as the other posts made by that user. At least one Burzynski fan showed up as well and that comment rapidly disappeared.

  21. 21
    Inaji

    Oh no. Roger Ebert was a joy, he made his intelligence, humor and love of movies a gift to the world. He’ll be missed.

  22. 22
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    One of my favorite columns By Ebert (despite a very few minor quibbles)

    Win Ben Stein’s Mind

  23. 23
    okstop

    Oh, man. Ebert was an erudite and humane critic; even when I disagreed with his conclusions, I always felt enlightened after reading his work. Besides, even without anything else, he deserves to be remembered for his truly historic smackdown of Rob Schneider.

  24. 24
    WharGarbl

    R.I.P Ebert.

    Reminds me of this.
    http://xkcd.com/931/
    Fuck you,cancer, fuck you.

  25. 25
    Lee Bowman

    I’ll miss him, as well. Enjoyed in particular the exchange over Ben Stein’s ‘Expelled’, which Roger reviewed here, in one of his most extensively commented review.
    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/12/win_ben_steins_mind.html

    After twenty or so comments, we agreed and disagreed on a few things. My fav was this exchange on Dec. 31, 2008, emphasis Ebert’s:
    .

    Roger,

    I enjoy your blog, and the stimulating discourse, although sleep might be a more healthy choice (it’s 4 am). Some would say I’m rehashing Creationist canards, but you could say the same for evolutionists, that bring up the same old ‘bad design’, long time periods, infinite regress, and so on. The human mind cannot comprehend many of the issues, although we do try. That’s the best we can do.

    Much of the discourse is philosophical, although science plays an important part in empirical pursuits of design inferences. Religious arguments don’t count for evidence, and despite what some believe, the ten-year-old ‘Wedge’ strategy (not theory) is essentially dead meat.

    The scientific pursuit of design inferences can only go so far. It will never define or dissect the spirit world, although it cannot preclude it. We may personally find answers upon ‘passing’ (don’t like the ‘d’ word). As for judgment, I would tend more toward a grading system.

    But if there is one ‘central’ deity, it won’t likely reveal itself, or even allow scrutiny, perhaps. If there is an argument against pursuing ID, that would be it.

    On the other hand, if it did, go public, how would the Sun-Times or the Trib headlines read?

    Ebert:

    Sun-Times: GOD!

    Tribune: GOD SPEAKS, MAN LISTENS (Editorial, A18)

    Onion: God to Man: Drop Everything

  26. 26
    markabbott

    I’m sorry to see Roger go, and to see him suffer in the later years like he did. But the woo this guy promoted through recovery programs, specifically the AA wacky-ass spiritual-based higher power nonsense; makes me glad he ain’t spewing that nonsense anymore. He was an admitted alkie, and had a great chance to help promote science-based addiction treatment. Instead, he advocated on behalf of twelve-step nonsense. Crazy promoted by an atheist is still crazy.

  27. 27
    Inaji

    markabbott, how lovely of you to stop by and spit. Don’t let the door hit you, now.

  28. 28
    Jason Fischer

    Ebert used his public platform to advocate for a wide variety of progressive and secular causes. I’m not going to condemn him or be “glad” he died because he got some things wrong.

  29. 29
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Roger Ebert is one of the people who taught me to love film as art and not just entertainment, while never losing sight of the value of entertainment for its own sake. I’m going to miss knowing what he would have thought of all the movies that he’s never going to see.

    As an aside: Can we respect the person and their contributions upon their death without immediately putting their flaws to the front? At least until the body is in the ground?

  30. 30
    markabbott

    I never said I’m “glad” he died, Jason. I said I’m glad he isn’t spewing spiritual nonsense. That spin on my comment was a nice touch, though.

    The faith healing Ebert promoted in alcohol addiction community, and yes, he promoted it often; was no less damaging than if it came from a preacher or homeopath. Just because he was an atheist doesn’t give that a pass. Kind of like a “Hitchens on Falwell’s death” kind of thing.

  31. 31
    denaturesd

    Ebert consulted a doctor and found something that worked for him. Not sure what else he was supposed to do in 1979. His experience with agnostic addiction groups was that they were more interested in talking about beliefs than changing behaviors. His well-written blog post on AA.
    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/08/my_name_is_roger_and_im_an_alc.html

  32. 32
    robro

    Two thumbs down :-{

  33. 33
    Inaji

    denaturesd:

    Not sure what else he was supposed to do in 1979.

    There wasn’t anything else. There was still a struggle going on in regard to viewing alcoholism as an addiction and serious problem in ’79. Societal views didn’t make dealing with it any easier, to say the least. “Party! Party! Party!” and “hey, nothing wrong with social drinking!” were the attitudes of the time.

    I got married in ’79. I are a dinosaur.

  34. 34
    Rob Grigjanis

    denaturesd @31: I liked this sentence from that article;

    One sweet lady said her higher power was a radiator in the Mustard Seed, “because when I see it, I know I’m sober.”

  35. 35
    anchor

    Roger was a good and smart man and a wonderfully insightful writer. He wasn’t just a ‘film critic’. He was a razor-sharp observer of the human condition.

    He knew what movies really are – what the powerful phenomenon of film in its strong emotional influence on people – is actually all about. He knew the good stuff as well as the bad were all a reflection of the mind of society projected onto that big screen for us all to contemplate, and that it was a serious mistake to dismiss them, as so many do, as ‘just movies’, ego-trip fantasies, or mere commercial entertainment engines to make big bucks.

    He sought to improve the artistry of that reflection in his critiques, but it went far beyond that. He took the opportunity to relate that projected reflection – laced as it is with all the fears, stereotypes, presumptions, prejudices, and most every other human foible as well as humanity’s finest virtues – to a better understanding of ourselves and he was unique in his ability to condense out of those reflections, from both the good and the rotten, the happy existence of possibility latent in each of us that could and can improve the actuality and raise up that collective mind up and out above the mire commercialism and political propaganda constantly threatens to drown it in.

    That made him an artist on a par with the most esteemed and awarded filmmakers and actors in the industry, and it made him a crucially important voice of that rare caliber within and outside the film industry none of us can afford to lose.

    I will miss him.

    Fucking cancer indeed.

  36. 36
    Inaji

    markabbot:

    I never said I’m “glad” he died, Jason.

    No. Instead, you stopped by to sneer about his being an alkie and deride him for finding effective help with his problem. Roger Ebert never used that to advocate a god belief, nor did he ever insist it was the only way to deal with an addiction.

    What you’re doing, Mark, is intruding on a memorial thread, calling attention to yourself, then urinating on the carpet. You’ve done enough of that now. I’m sure you have many more sites to announce yourself as a fuckwit on. Go get ‘em, Cupcake.

  37. 37
    markabbott

    I liked this sentence from that article;

    “One sweet lady said her higher power was a radiator in the Mustard Seed, “because when I see it, I know I’m sober.”

    Really? You liked that? Is this really PZ’s blog? Wow.

    You know there are people who, like Ebert, who convince others that they can give their lives to a higher power of their choice, and wind up giving their lives to a doorknob or ‘radiator in a mustard seed,’ expecting that it will cure their addictions. These are people with real physiological and psychological problems; who need real, evidence-based treatment.

    I’ve seen the consequences of this mind-fuck manipulation. It ain’t good. But if it it gives you a warm and fuzzy, have at it.

  38. 38
    markabbott

    “Instead, you stopped by to sneer about his being an alkie and deride him for finding effective help with his problem.”

    No, Cain. I did neither, as I am both. Again, you’re making shit up. But, it’s still a nice spin. And a nice ad hominem. Sweeeeeeeeet.

    I guess I should just say that he promoted lots of crazy-ass spiritual healing woo, but he did some secular shit, too. So, we’ll pretend the former didn’t happen.

  39. 39
    Rob Grigjanis

    Really? You liked that?

    Yes, I thought it was funny.

    Is this really PZ’s blog?

    Yes. Know how I can tell it is? Because some clucking twerp always shows up to piss on the rug.

  40. 40
    Akira MacKenzie

    markabbott

    It’s a little soon to be nitpicking the man’s alleged beliefs.

  41. 41
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Roger Ebert was one of the main reasons why I started reading newspapers over thirty years ago.

    He also fought the good fight, trying to keep newspapers relevant and honest even as he worked for two of the worst newspaper owners ever (Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Black) and as he moved on to social media.

    We still need more people like him.

  42. 42
    Inaji

    Janine:

    We still need more people like him.

    We do. I recently read his memoir. I’m very glad he decided to write it and had the time to do so.

  43. 43
    markabbott

    “markabbott

    It’s a little soon to be nitpicking the man’s alleged beliefs.”

    These aren’t his “alleged beliefs.” This is the program he promoted:

    1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
    10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
    11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

    Of course, he did say one could replace a chicken or doorknob or any other object in place of “God,” but I don’t think this makes what he advocated any less crazy, or harmful to those who bought it.

    But make sure to call me an asshole for pointing this out.

  44. 44
    Ing

    Fuck you Mark

  45. 45
    Argle Bargle

    So markabbott shits on Ebert’s memory because markabbott doesn’t like 12 step programs and Ebert thought they helped him with his alcoholism.

    markabbott, your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Or not, as the case may be.

  46. 46
    markabbott

    This was a heartwarming exchange.

  47. 47
    Ing

    Are you done trolling?

  48. 48
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I heard about this on WBEZ (WFMT is begging) on my way back to work after the Redhead’s afternoon commode/lunch visit. Got to work, and the IT guy had hijacked my computer to make some upgrades.

    I enjoyed his reviews even if there wasn’t a chance of me seeing the movie. I really enjoyed his TV show with Gene Siskal. I usually sided more with Siskal, but recognized his sincerity. If there was an afterlife, I can easily Ebert and Siskal separated by some popcorn, eying both the movie and each other, and figuring out how to do the best review for that movie.

  49. 49
    andyo

    And a nice ad hominem.

    Please don’t use “ad hominem” again until you’ve learned how. Thankyouverymuch.

  50. 50
    Inaji

    Nerd:

    I really enjoyed his TV show with Gene Siskal. I usually sided more with Siskal, but recognized his sincerity.

    I loved Siskel & Ebert. We never missed it. I generally sided with Gene Siskel too, but there was never any doubt of Roger Ebert’s absolute love of movies, and everything about them. I often found myself giving a movie a chance that I normally would have passed because of him, and I always enjoyed them.

    His TED talk about voice software was very poignant, too. I’m glad I saw it.

  51. 51
    Inaji

    andyo, please ignore the asshole. In this case, there’s no point in giving them the attention they so desperately crave. Let this be what it should be, a remembrance of Roger Ebert.

  52. 52
    andyo

    Sure.

    —————–

    Ebert sometimes seemed to make me disagree vehemently with him *cough*AVATAR*cough*, but mostly his reviews even if he liked or disliked the movie, it would tell you if you’d dislike or like it, respectively. He was great at that. But what made me really like him, and I’m sure most of us here, is that he was a curious, scientifically minded and kind non-soul until the end. Cool guy.

  53. 53
    birgerjohansson

    Indirect ly relevant to cancer treatment?
    “First turtle genome shows beauty more than shell-deep” http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2013/04/turtle-genome.html
    A turtle species can hibernate and freeze solid, despite using the same genes that also exist in humans. Definitely something for medical applications (and space travel).

    I was thinking, when someone gets a cancer diagnosis it mightbe possible to do biopsies and then put the patient into hibernation while the time-consuming work of analysis and finding treatment combinations for the specific kind of tumor/tumors is taking place.

    Cancer cells have great genetic variation, a subset might be vulneraable to one treatment, another subset might require another.
    I do not know if it is practically possible to do MRI on a subject that is hibernating, if that works maybe the lack of movement will make even greater detail visible.
    How about microsurgery on a frozen patient? Implanting stents with cytotoxins “upstream” of tumors to reduce the total dose.

  54. 54
    McC2lhu doesn't want to know what you did there.

    Double tragedy for me; Ebert was the only film critic that I agreed with 95 percent of the time. Losing someone whose movie advice I could depend upon that consistently is a serious downer. Such is the nature of being stuck in a random and unsympathetic universe. It was nice to read that, even when things were at their worst, he remained glad for the time able to enjoy the randomness and to make an inspiring effort undoing some of that “unsympathy” by making things better for others. If only everyone was able to understand that final gift of advice, the universe would at least seem more concerned with us.

  55. 55
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    The Onion’s obit for him is quite touching. Funny and sweet.

  56. 56
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Yes AA sucks.

    Yes AA is full of woo.

    Yes I would have preferred that someone I respected chose a different path to help himself deal with his addictions.

    He didn’t/

    Oh, well.

    I got over it. His columns were still awesome.

  57. 57
    esmith4102

    God Damn cancer is right! My family and I will miss him very much.

  58. 58
    sherylyoung

    When I saw he had died just a few days after I saw his cancer had returned I got the same empty feeling as when Gilda Radner died. I’ll miss them both till my last day.

    (I know another AA member who’s an atheist — he says that he gets great power from hearing the way other alcoholics give thanks to “woo”.

  59. 59
    Ing

    My first exposure to the idea of films as art came from Siskle and Ebert’s appearance on Sesame Street

  60. 60
    Eddy Cara

    Roger Ebert was a good man with some misinformed and misguided ideas. Why is it an affront to mention those when speaking of him, given his impact on culture? To discuss a man who never shied away from honest criticism himself? He also personally believed women shouldn’t get abortions unless under direct harm (no rape/incest exception), he swallowed gender essentialism hook, line and sinker, and he once remarked that he’d rather be called a n****** than a slave when discussing changes being made to Mark Twain’s Huck Finn. Those are also things that made up part of him, and seeing as Ebert can’t possibly be disrespected by us mentioning those things, I’m a bit at loss for words. Aren’t we especially keen about avoiding idol worship here?

  61. 61
    Ilse Thompson

    Eddy, This thread knocked my socks off, and you perfectly articulate why. Thanks.

  62. 62
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Aren’t we especially keen about avoiding idol worship here?

    We expect our idols to have feet of clay. And if you had bothered to read the thread, his faults were mentioned. They just weren’t given more importance than praising what he did good. Like any eulogy should be.

  63. 63
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Aren’t we especially keen about avoiding idol worship here?

    Your definition of idol worship is pretty broad.

  64. 64
    Inaji

    Eddy Cara:

    Why is it an affront to mention those when speaking of him

    It isn’t. However, isn’t the time to criticise a person is when they are alive? Strikes me as base cowardice to show up in a memorial thread to grind an axe about AA. It’s not as though Mr. Ebert ever shied away from talking with people, that’s why he had a blog! Goodness me and all that. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by people who don’t have the slightest idea of memorials, or obituaries or anything else. Well, perhaps when you die, someone will do you the kind favour of listing every single thing in your life they felt deserving of criticism.

  65. 65
    Eddy Cara

    We’re people who don’t believe in life after death. The fact that someone may choose to point out some of my unsavory beliefs is amazingly not much of a concern to me. And I did read the thread, the guy pointed out how sad he was to see Ebert go yet correctly pointed a flawed belief he held. What on earth is cowardly about that? Because you assume he didn’t voice that opinion when he was alive? I’m sorry, I don’t like that assumption because he’s gone, we can’t respectfully discuss everything, even the ugh parts, of a cultural icon. He did good things and professed good beliefs. He also had shitty ones that we are still struggling to fight against in our culture.

    And ya know what, I’ve seen friends break down in tears over beliefs like Ebert’s held by legislators so I’m not sorry about discussing why his thoughts on abortion were selfish and indicative of a larger problem we have.

  66. 66
    Eddy Cara

    And again I don’t feel anything wrong about honoring how great the man was, he was. He inspired so many and was a wonderful writer. The way some seemed to jump on the guy who correctly brought up some less great beliefs of Ebert is the only thing I found icky.

  67. 67
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    What on earth is cowardly about that?

    Why are you seeming to require more bad than good in a eulogy? What is your problem?

  68. 68
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Eddy Cara, your opinion about those who criticise the pointless sniper is a matter of great indifference to me, but your misrepresentation of the situation triggers my SIWOTI.

    And I did read the thread, the guy pointed out how sad he was to see Ebert go yet correctly pointed a flawed belief he held

    Bullshit; I quote: “I’m sorry to see Roger go, and to see him suffer in the later years like he did. But the woo this guy promoted through recovery programs, specifically the AA wacky-ass spiritual-based higher power nonsense; makes me glad he ain’t spewing that nonsense anymore. He was an admitted alkie, and had a great chance to help promote science-based addiction treatment. Instead, he advocated on behalf of twelve-step nonsense. Crazy promoted by an atheist is still crazy.”

    This ain’t pointing out a flawed belief, it’s a poisonous peroration attacking his character and deeds.

    [On Topic]

    Roger Ebert was a giant in his field.

  69. 69
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The way some seemed to jump on the guy who correctly brought up some less great beliefs of Ebert is the only thing I found icky.

    This I don’t comprehend. Your initial post seemed to imply we weren’t being sufficiently condemning of his bad attitudes. Why the sudden change?

  70. 70
    markabbott

    I made the mistake of subscribing to email notifications of comments to this post.

    I really did not mean to start a shitstorm or offend anyone. I wasn’t trying to not offend anyone, either. I suppose I was just wanting to speak the truth as to how Roger Ebert’s influence affected me personally; and I assumed it would be understood in context of a broader conversation of that influence, both good and bad. In hindsight I suppose I could have been more sensitive. Not in what I expressed, because it is what I believe, but in my timing. I didn’t realize this was memorial thread. I just thought the comments were more a retrospective. So I apologize for anyone whose sensibilities were offended.

    I’ve read this blog almost every day over the last few years, although I rarely comment. Maybe half a dozen or so times. It helped to change my worldview, and it helped me to embrace the idea that there are no sacred cows. One of the first blog posts here that I remember was of PZ mocking Jerry Falwell’s ideas shortly after his death. Not his death, but his ideas. It was titled “Jerry Falwell struck dead; not yet found worthy of resurrection.” The comment section was littered with comments continuing the joke. It was also well-deserved. Falwell earned it, not because he was a Christian who believed some ridiculous things, but because he was a public figure who used his influence to spread those ideas. Nobody screamed for a moment of reflection or called for a moratorium on Falwell criticism, nor should they have.

    Roger Ebert was no less shy to put his opinions out in the public forum. He intentionally used his platform to create a dialog on issues which he cared about, including atheism; and including AA. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute, if this is what some of you are looking for, than to have that dialog he helped to create. Most here know him as an outspoken advocate of atheism. I do, as well – and I admire that about him. I admire his dignity in dealing with his cancer treatment. I also have seen his influence in perpetuating spiritualism as a treatment for addiction. I’m not going to beat this to death, largely because it offends the sensibilities of some of you. Mostly because I’m not interested getting shit on by anonymous internet people for doing so.

  71. 71
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I also have seen his influence in perpetuating spiritualism as a treatment for addiction. I’m not going to beat this to death, largely because it offends the sensibilities of some of you.

    Gee, most of us agree with you. And it has been mentioned. Why should it offend us to mention it? What I think most of us see is that this thread is that this is an encomium to his life, warts and all.

  72. 72
    andyo

    Caine,

    However, isn’t the time to criticise a person is when they are alive?

    I don’t agree with this though.

    Strikes me as base cowardice to show up in a memorial thread to grind an axe about AA.

    But this I agree with and it was what annoyed me. Blown WAY out of proportion considering the context.

    Lest I sound like a hypocrite, many of us including me did have some harsh and even ridiculing words to say in the Steve Jobs thread.

  73. 73
    andyo

    …Though my excuse *ahem* is that context matters. If people are clearly demonstrating an emotional attachment to the deceased, it’s more dickish to go about putting down the person in a non-tactful manner.

  74. 74
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I’m fine with critical looks at people when alive or dead. Hitchens is a great example.

    His razor sharp attacks on religion are and will remain some of my most favorite things to read on the subject. But he was a motherfucking bastard in a number of other topics.

    That doesn’t change my appreciation of the words written that cleverly slice through nonsense, I just don’t have to put him as a person on any pedestal of worship.

    Like any anyone, Ebert included.

    No idols indeed.

  75. 75
    markabbott

    “…Though my excuse *ahem* is that context matters. If people are clearly demonstrating an emotional attachment to the deceased, it’s more dickish to go about putting down the person in a non-tactful manner”

    I highly doubt the response to my comment would have been different had it been the first one, before others had shown their “emotional attachment.” I suspect I would have still been labeled a ‘fuckwit’ and a troll, told to fuck off and whatnot.

    This reaction wasn’t because I gate-crashed a eulogy. The same type of comment applied to a recently dead Pope or Mother Teresa would have been lost in the mix of even shittier and snarkier comments, and ignored. This was about hero worship. I just said what I said about the wrong guy.

  76. 76
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    markabbot –

    I don’t think anything you said was out of bounds for a pharyngula thread. I don’t know about his woo, ‘cuz I never paid attention to him. I had no idea he was an atheist or that he praised AA.

    I think you clearly did push buttons by using “alkie” but I can see how in other spaces I would push buttons by using “dyke”.

    Of course, I don’t think anything anyone said back was out of bounds for a pharyngula thread, but I would have liked to see the 3 post rule observed here. i think it would have made for a better thread.

    I personally am happy to know more about the good that he did, and I’m not at all distressed to learn he promoted woo – all of us do, at one point or another. Some of us are lucky enough to be educated in such a way that we can stick to the evidence fairly early in life. Others of us stick to the evidence on most things, but can’t let go of the tendency to prioritize our own anecdotal experiences.

    F, I’m just dragging this out. I’m happy to have info about Ebert. It’s sad to see die someone who is obviously trying to positively contribute to society. I think the 3 post rule would have helped the thread. I’m out.

  77. 77
    Argle Bargle

    markabbott,

    When you wrote:

    But the woo this guy promoted through recovery programs, specifically the AA wacky-ass spiritual-based higher power nonsense; makes me glad he ain’t spewing that nonsense anymore.

    I read that as “I’m glad the bastard’s dead so he won’t be pushing something I hate any more.” That may not be what you meant to write, but my interpretation is a reasonable one.

    When Falwell died I had a celebratory drink to commemorate the death of an evil man. Falwell was a vile, loathsome, malicious monster and the world is a better place without him. Ebert had some opinions I don’t share but he wasn’t poisonous like Falwell. The world is not improved by Ebert’s death. That’s the difference.

  78. 78
    markabbott

    Hey, Crip Dyke.

    “Alkie” is an often used term among recovery groups among its participants. It’s a term we (yes, I’m an alkie) use to self-identify. So is “drunk.” One way atheists do the workaround to the word “God” in a twelve-step program is to make the AA group itself their higher power, and change it to an acronym “Group of Drunks.” I’m not sure how praying to a group of drunks is supposed cure alcoholism, but that’s the way it works. Anyway, I wasn’t using it as a pejorative, and I’ve heard it and used it so much amongst those who self-identify with the term, that I didn’t really consider how it might be viewed by others. I probably should have. I would by my dog that Ebert used the term as a form of self-identity.

    Ulysses,

    You quoted my entire first comment, but eliminated the opening sentence where I specifically stated that I was sorry to see Ebert die. Then you said that you interpreted the remaining bit you quoted as me being happy the guy died. Jesus Howard Christ is this thread maddening!

  79. 79
    markabbott

    *meant to say “bet my dog”

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