Friday, 17 June 2011

Chris Port Blog #279. The Law versus The Poor: A Drama Lesson Resource

The Red Lily

“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” ~ Anatole France, The Red Lily

Two penniless lovers elope to Paris to get married. The hero’s father disapproves and interferes. He arranges to have his son arrested and the lovers become separated. Alone in the big city, poverty forces our heroine into prostitution, while our heartbroken hero drifts into crime. Can there be a happy ending?

The Red Lily (1924) Part 1

The Red Lily (1924) Part 2 (not quite to the end unfortunately)

If you want to know if there’s a happy ending… here’s the whole story in photos

1924 Film reviews

Anatole France was a skeptic and a satirist who hated and mocked the church. He probably would have approved of Richard Dawkins. One of his later novels was Penguin Island. Penguins are mistakenly baptized by a myopic Abbot which transforms them into human beings. This should definitely be made into a film :)

Read The Red Lily on-line

The Mob

One of my all time favourite slippery uses of philosophy. The Mob adapts the ‘Valjean Defence’ from Les Misérables (From The Simpsons – ‘Bart the Murderer’)

BART: Uh, say, are you guys crooks?

FAT TONY: Bart, is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?


FAT TONY: Well, suppose you got a large starving family. Is it wrong to steal a truckload of bread to feed them?

BART: Uh uh.

FAT TONY: And, what if your family don’t like bread? They like... cigarettes?

BART: I guess that’s okay.

FAT TONY: Now, what if instead of giving them away, you sold them at a price that was practically giving them away. Would that be a crime, Bart?

BART: Hell, no.

“Please don't feed the homeless”
Brian Clark Howard, Mail Online, 6 June 2011

Wretched refuse

The New Colossus is a sonnet by Emma Lazarus engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the Statue of Liberty.

“… Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
~ Emma Lazarus, 1883

“David Cameron’s assault on the homeless is Dickensian”
Johann Hari, The Independent, Friday 4 March 2011

Children in Brazil: Death Squads

City of God

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

A Man Should Always Be of Use

“The danger time with depression isn’t the bad days. A bad day is just ‘flu spiked with rohypnol. You couldn’t even lift your head, let alone kill yourself. But on a good day, everything seems strangely normal. Even dying. That would be as easy as walking into the next room... God, how I dread those good days...” ~ Marty Gull

A man should always be of use
© Chris Port, 2011

Each day I eat a hearty last meal.
It’s tinned soup,
but I eat it heartily.

Then I drink a hearty cup of coffee
Thames brown from yesterday’s dregs,
piecing together a ciggie from fag ends.

The day slacks ahead
like a limp elastic band.
I stretch out the cramp.

A bankrupt system is a terrible thing.
Your creditors took your principles.
I threw mine bricks.

A man can exist on soup and dregs.
But what kind of man
stuffs his face with lies?

Old friend, you were fair
when the weather was fine.
Why judge me so poor now?

You pass me in a shop doorway.
I look you in the eye.
You look down.

It’s only the stench of piss
and irritation. But still.
You couldn’t look me in the eye.

The pretence of fumbling
as your fingers filter coin sizes
embarrasses me.

When my teeth fall out,
I’ll throw them to you instead.
I don’t need them to chew soup.

I’m no elephant, but if they can make
ashtrays out of human ears,
lampshades out of skin,

brothels out of children,
surely you can find a place
for my little ivories?

Perhaps you could string them together
into a kitsch necklace?
A man should always be of use...

The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, 1928

PEACHUM to the audience: Something new is needed. My business is too hard, for my business is arousing human sympathy. There are a few things that stir men’s souls, just a few, but the trouble is that after repeated use they lose their effect. Because man has the abominable gift of being able to deaden his feelings at will, so to speak. Suppose, for instance, a man sees another man standing on the corner with a stump for an arm; the first time he may be shocked enough to give him tenpence, but the second time it will only be fivepence, and if he sees him a third time he’ll hand him over to the police without batting an eyelash. It’s the same with the spiritual approach. A large sign saying ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ is lowered from the grid. What good are the most beautiful, the most poignant sayings, painted on the most enticing little signs, when they get expended so quickly? The Bible has four or five sayings that stir the heart; once a man has expended them, there’s nothing for it but starvation. Take this one, for instance – ‘Give and it shall be given unto you’ – how threadbare it is after hanging here a mere three weeks. Yes, you have to keep on offering something new. So it’s back to the good old Bible again, but how long can it go on providing?

“Daily Mail calls for increase in poor dead people”
The Daily Mash, 27 May 2011

“Therefore any reduction in the overseas aid budget will need to be properly audited, perhaps by using death certificates. I want to see thousands of them piled high on the desks of the department for overseas development.”

“Unfortunately, some people are just dickheads”. World Peace and the ‘Dickhead’ Objection… Q.E.D.

“Approximately 18 million people are killed each year by poverty. Today, 22,000 children will die from it around the world. That’s one child every 4 seconds. Fortunately, we don’t know any of them personally. These statistics are therefore as untroubling to us as the paperwork of ‘processing units’ was to the business-like SS...”

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