Here's an actual paragraph from an actual writer for the actual New York Times: "But the revulsion aroused by beheading is mostly a moral revulsion. A beheading feels like a defilement. It’s not just an injury or a crime. It is an indignity. A beheading is more like rape, castration or cannibalism. It is a defacement of something sacred that should be inviolable."
Yes, that's right. In his latest "column" (if by "column," you mean, "Dingleberries of pop psychology plopped in a conservative crapper"), David Brooks spends a good bit of time exploring why the beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State is so shocking. Now, you might say, "Umm, because they cut their fuckin' heads off?" But fuck you, you fucking plebe; you have not read books and David Brooks has. And those books say things have meaning so meaning he shall show you.
"But what is this sacred thing that is being violated?" he ponders ponderously before answering anally (now there's some assonance - boo-yah!), "Well, the human body is sacred. Most of us understand, even if we don’t think about it, or have a vocabulary to talk about it these days, that the human body is not just a piece of meat or a bunch of neurons and cells. The human body has a different moral status than a cow’s body or a piece of broccoli."
You may read that and, like the Rude Pundit, think, "Who are you arguing with, Davy? Where is this person who believes that humans and broccoli compare favorably? We eat broccoli. Does this have something to do with the cannibalism?" And, by the way, "Well, the human body is sacred" has to be the least impressive way of stating something that has seemingly mystical meaning. He may as well have written, "Dude, the body is like...yeah." Actually, that's deeper because it implies that some things cannot be understood.
Not David Brooks though. He understands it all. Let him explain further: "We’re repulsed by a beheading because the body has a spiritual essence. The human head and body don’t just live and pass along genes. They paint, make ethical judgments, savor the beauty of a sunset and experience the transcendent. The body is material but surpasses the material. It’s spiritualized matter." Someone's been into Maureen Dowd's candy bowl (and, no, that's not a sexual reference).
Just to summarize: Beheading is bad because it removes your head from your body and then you can't paint.
The Rude Pundit is all about interpreting the world around him, reading it like it's a middle-period Fellini film, a phantasmagoria of symbols and meaning and half-nude dwarfs. But sometimes the distance between the thing itself and its larger meaning is pretty short. Two innocent men having their heads cut off by a crazy asshole with a knife? You don't need to mourn the non-painting, non-sunset-watching souls to think, "Man, that shit's fucked up. And the people who did it are even more fucked up." And despite Brooks insistence that the deaths are different, if the ISIS fucknut had shot them in the face, it'd still be just as fucked up.
Brooks is after some larger point about spirituality and...you know what? Who the fuck cares. It's utter garbage, on philosophical, theological, and ontological levels. All the column is really about is Brooks is grossed out by beheadings and he desperately needs there to be more to it than that.
As if that isn't enough.