Friday, July 08, 2005

Hell is other places

An amusing quote from Penn Jillette made the rounds last week thanks to The New York Post's Page Six. I've been hoping to get my hands on Mean Magazine to read the whole interview, but that's just not possible down here.

I have managed to find a more complete excerpt, however. I can't say I agree with him entirely about the United States compared to the rest of the world. From time to time, like when I'm sitting in a cab on the Van Wyck after returning to New York from Belgium, I look around at my hometown and think to myself: "I live in a dumpster." Here's what Jillette has to say on the topic:

Every place outside the U.S. is an absolute hellhole ... I hate it all because I am very used to the American way of life. As much as we can complain about the U.S.'s lack of freedom [huh?], I just can't stand when they force women to dress like Batman, when they leave little girls out to die. I mean, at least we address the issues of equality and freedom, which are not even addressed in a place like Egypt or China or India ...


Other countries are pieces of shit, so they have a holier-than-thou attitude ... I'm not saying that the U.S. is better ... I'm saying it's what I'm used to. I think you have to be proud of who you are and what you've done; you can't be proud of being white or black or from New Jersey. Any sort of tribalism, being proud of anything that isn't individual, is anti-American and unpatriotic.

The more he says the less sense he makes. Basing pride on achievement certainly does make sense, but requiring that the achievement be individual does not. I believe that American patriotism is usually fueled by a conviction that we as a nation have achieved great things, not only for ourselves but for others as well. Anyway, Jillette's a magician, for chrissake, so there's no requirement that his worldview and politics should be any more coherent than Bono's, or Bob Geldof's, or mine.


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