Note from the Editor

"Defining deviancy down" is the expression coined by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the retired senior senator from New York, to name a process by which an entire culture slowly accepts and tolerates destructive behaviors. This issue of Swans is dedicated to this "defining deviancy down."

First, we are pleased to bring you an exceptional commentary by Ohioan author Geoff Berne that analyzes the war in Yugoslavia with accuracy and lucidity. Berne, a friend and colleague of Greg Elich (another contributor to Swans), details the barbaric use -- is there another qualifier to describe the Westen Powers' deeds in the Balkans? -- of propaganda and sheer destructive power to break the multi-ethnic federation. "Officialdom" may want you to forget about our wicked exactions. Geoff Berne does not; and we thank him for having offered his piece to Swans.

Barbarity is a theme that Milo Clark explores deeper in his two pieces. Don't let your possible unfamiliarity with Tibetan Buddhism get in the way. The first three paragraphs lead to a serious examination of our cultural deviancy, with quite a few historical references and links to other Swans' resources (in particular the piece of Michael Stowell on Hiroshima). You may want to ask yourselves: Are our accepted societal standards indeed barbarian? The use of depleted uranium ordnance by the American and British military is also reviewed. If destruction is the order of the day then we certainly have the right weaponry.

"Defining deviancy down" is exactly what Jan Baughman shows in simple and touching terms. She also refers to a powerful piece by Aleksandra Priestfield, a piece worth reading again. Finally, we publish two short excerpts of a poignant novel that sums up the entire contents of this issue that will remain posted on the front page for two weeks. Thank you for reading Swans. Please form your own opinion.


"Defining Deviancy Down"

Geoff Berne:  War Against Women and Other Civilians in Yugoslavia:
Terror Keyed Triumph of the New Colonialism

[Text of a speech delivered December 7, 2000 on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wisconsin.]

I am happy to stand here tonight with Greg Elich and lend my support to his unusual effort, as an individual American, as a journalist, and as an activist, to throw light on the dark world of American wars in Yugoslavia and Iraq. Greg has put himself in a category all his own by traveling to the scenes of these two controversial wars and bringing back a graphic, ground's eye view of the bombing in Yugoslavia's devastation, in particular, such as Americans have not seen on television since the war in Vietnam: cluster bombs that bore through the roofs of an entire hospital parking lot full of cars, spewing uncountable numbers of mini-bombs leaving walls of entire neighborhoods pocked with puncture holes, uranium-tipped missiles that destroyed an entire factory that once manufactured the Yugo automobile, and bombs that found their way down chimneys to destroy eleven people in a family hiding in the basement of a village home and the rest of their neighborhood as well. What you hear and see...   More...

Geoff Berne is an Ohio writer known for his opposition to American policy in Yugoslavia.



Milo Clark:  ...Dream

Kenpo Tsultrim Gyantso's commentary on Arya Maitreya's Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra is, simply by being, an extremely rare as well as much overdue offering. Overdue because we in the West have so very little of anything related to Maitreya, the coming Buddha. Overdue because he may already be among us. And yet the commentary is both as clear as light itself while being totally opaque.   More...

Milo Clark is a Swans' founding member, advisor and columnist.



Milo Clark:  Addendum to ...Dream

I have mentioned in my last commentary a recent novel, The Advocate. The story concerns a WWII American fighter group decimated by German bombing whose five surviving pilots strike an occupied Belgian town, Helsvagen, used by the Germans as a fuel depot. In doing so, they also take out the town and down one of theirs (who may have intended to report the excess reaction) on the way back to base.   More...

Milo Clark is a Swans' founding member, advisor and columnist.



Jan Baughman:  Freedom to Kill, Right to Live

New Year's eve in my neighborhood used to culminate in the sounds of gunfire from a neighboring community known as Redwood Village, an enclave of Redwood City, California. In 1996, the Redwood City police installed the ShotSpotterTM gunshot technology system, which, according to a U.S. Justice Department report (Random Gunfire Problems and Gunshot Detection Systems),"consists of eight acoustic sensors, a central computer located in the Redwood City Police Department's dispatch center, and gunshot detection and location identification software."   More...

Jan Baughman is a Biotech scientist and Swans' co-editor.



Gilles d'Aymery:  Depleted Uranium: The Balkans Syndrome

"As there is no excess which cannot be exceeded, there is never any shortage of people eager to exceed."

It used to be known as the "Gulf War Syndrome." It must have been a get-rich-scheme invented by greedy Gulf War veterans to get some money from the U.S. Government. Everything's possible in America, the land of opportunities. Even the heroic U.S. soldiers are entitled to a buck, here and there.   More...

Gilles d'Aymery is Swans' publisher and co-editor.



Cynthia Rylant:  I Had Seen Castles (Short Excerpts)

After three months of combat, my sureness of why I was there and why we were fighting completely disappeared. I had seen too many dead enemy boys, the color drained from their faces, which, even in death, too closely resembled my own; and as time went on I could not kill them for words. Not for democracy, nor freedom, and certainly not for religion. No one I knew fought for these words.   More...

Cynthia Rylant is the acclaimed author of more than forty books.



« Previous | Current Issue | Next »


Created: August 16, 2001