Today’s Defendant: Randy Pausch, America’s Favorite Corpse
Statement of the Grand Inquisitor: Professor Pausch’s “Last Lecture” is already forgotten by the Oprah fans who leaked cheap tears at his televised death, this middlebrow false martyr. They ask little of a saint, and he had nothing to give. All spiritual consolation is contemptible, but Pausch’s last lecture was so starved of meaning it amplified the breath of the grave. He told America that you can’t change the hand you’re dealt, just how you play the hand. He had other insights, such as “Don’t complain,” and “Brick walls let us show our dedication.” This was the gruel he offered at his own elegy.
Statement of the Defense: Surely this is too harsh. This foul country breeds Calvinist demons in every suburban puddle, and yet you choose to harry this harmless deist beyond the grave? Grant that he, at least, had the decency not to drag God’s name into the Oprah-gutter. He was far from the worst of a very bad lot.
Verdict: Indeed, Pausch’s crime was his bland decency. Recall the words of Saint Carlos Marighela, who preached that it is the “good” people who must be killed most ruthlessly. To give the ordinary people any vision of a supposed escape from mortality is a great crime in itself, and the blandness of his vision does not constitute a mitigating circumstance. On the contrary; he is condemned to spend eternity behind an actual brick wall, with food and water just out of reach, that he may learn what he meant by “dedication.”
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