Time to Polish Up That Manifesto

September 3, 2010

Writing a “manifesto” means you’re serious.  You mean business.

The other day, I read that James Jay Lee, longtime protestor at The Discovery Channel headquarters, had taken hostages inside that building with guns and bombs.  He was later shot by police after about four hours.  Fortunately, no one else was hurt.

Since then, Lee’s “manifesto,” which he presented to the station’s employees, has been released for our enjoyment.  You can check it out here.  The gist of it is that people are evil filth, we should stop having babies, and The Discovery Channel should save the planet by being the ones to tell everyone though the awesome power of television and Mike Rowe.  (He’s not really named.)  That’s why he was there, to make his demands known, through his manifesto.

I had hoped that for once, a would-be terrorist would have a manifesto that was not incoherant and childish sounding gibberish.  But, yet again, I was left disappointed and wanting more from Mr. Lee, but his example also brings up questions worth pondering.

It’s time to perfect that manifesto you’ve been working on, so take a few notes from these highlights of Mr. Lee’s manifesto.

A Manifesto on Writing a Manifesto

Give Us an Opener

I appreciate seeing someone show ambition and a go-get-em attitude.  But most people these days don’t open a resume by writing “GIVE ME A JOB, YOU CAPITALISTIC SWINE!”  They give a summary of their qualifications.  Mr. Lee made the classic manifesto mistake of not telling us a little bit about himself first.  Maybe he enjoys model airplanes or walking on the beach or can fix a car.  Instead, he just starts right in with his “DEMANDS.”  Bad form, bad form.  I don’t even know who you are, much less why I should be caving in to your demands, other than the fact that you are armed and extremely dangerous. 

This leads me to my second piece of constructive criticism…

JUDICIOUS USE OF THE SHIFT KEY

I know it can be confusing where and when you are supposed to capitalize letters.  If you are a little fuzzy on your grammar rules, there are many handy books you can purchase to brush up.  What is never good is simply tapping CAPS LOCK and capitalizing whole words at a time.  You may not be aware of it, but readers may think you are actually yelling at them through your manifesto, and that’s not something you ever want to convey.

Speaking of things you never want to do…

Never Use the Word “Froggies” 

Among the short list of animals Mr. Lee listed that humans are harming, “froggies” inexplicably made his list.  Just a tip: it is never okay to copy off a six-year-old when writing your manifesto.  Plagarism is a crime that can land you in a lot of hot water, and possibly jail.

Also, you don’t want to show favoritism.  When you end your list of “must save” animals, with “of course, the squirrels,” you risk offending the other animals by sounding like, given the choice, you’ll save the squirrels first.  Somewhere, some hot-shot jock baboon is giving a poor little nerd squirrel a swirlie for being your “teacher’s pet.”

And when you’re checking your word use, be sure to do the following…

Get a Thesaurus

On your word processor, online, or in book form, you can’t go wrong!  When you repeatedly use words like “filth,” especially when describing humans, you come off as uncreative.  The thesaurus has many fine suggestions.  For example, I’ve programmed my computer’s thesaurus to suggest words like “amazing,” “handsome,” and “chiseled” as a reminder that I shouldn’t be referring to myself in the third person too often.

Don’t Blame Babies

Manifesto writing 101: people tend to like most babies.  Heck, people usually like moist babies.  Their cooing sounds, gentle demeanor, and general lack of motor skills or ability to destroy and take over the world are endearing.  So endearing, that most people forgive them for constantly defecating in their pants for the first two years of their lives.  Children are, by and large, believed to be our future, and that we should teach them well, let them lead the way, and show them all the beauty they possess inside, rather than blaming them for the firey destruction of humanity.  I think you lost a lot of people with that bullet point.

Ironically, Christians are prone to this same line of thinking.  Some people get so down on humanity that they believe that God doesn’t really love us, and we’re basically “pond scum,” as I’ve heard it said.  Once you stop believing humanity has a reason for being here, you’re in trouble.  I’ve come to think that a person who believes God is mad at humanity, actually struggles with the belief that God is mad at him.

Get Your Priorities in Order

You could say this is the most important thing when developing your radical manifesto.  See, when you condemn Western children for using “30 to 100 times” more resources than third world children, you’re not really saying anything about Western children.  You’re praising third world children for living in extreme poverty, and you’re implying that they should not be helped out of their misery.  Look, most people at some point struggle with “the meaning of life,” and figuring out why we’re here.  I sure have.  And I’ve come to think that we exist to extend justice to the less fortunate.

I don’t believe Mr. Lee hated humanity as much as he struggled with hating himself.  He felt worthless, and believed no one was listening to him, and no one was able to reach him.  Why do you think this sort of thinking, this self hate seems to pop up every so often?  Even Mother Teresa wrote in her diary that she struggled with self hate and the idea that God hated her!  Is it just one man against the world, or is there something bigger at wok here that’s making us feel guilty for even existing?

14 responses to Time to Polish Up That Manifesto

  1. Wow! That manifesto you linked to is bizarre. I thought your summary must have been exaggerating until I read the manifesto. There is so much ridiculousness in it I’m not even sure where to start making fun of it.

    I always wonder when I hear people say that humans are scum destroying the planet why they have chosen to stay alive so long. A little hypocritical don’t you think?

  2. A few thoughts –
    – Mr. Lee should have had his cable unplugged long before this.
    – Mr. Lee won’t be creating any babies where he is going.
    – I am not sure that I think Mike Rowe shot him. 😉
    – Why don’t we start with Americans getting off of OIL! (shift key on purpose.)
    – And finally, we are evil filthy humans, that’s why we need Jesus Christ. In fact, if we never see our selves as inherently evil, the gift of redemption is worth little.

    In Christ there is amazing love, security for who we are, and forgiveness of sin. The very fact that we might have a little self-loathing for our sin is probably a very healthy thing.

    • And I am doing MY PART. Your My Charity Water blog is featured on http://www.fireandgrace.com today – and a little about how you drink a lot.

    • I’ll agree with you, David, to the extent that we need the message of our sin in order for grace to have worth. Everyone confronts their own immorality at some point in time. However, I think of Paul telling Timothy that they have been given a spirit of power, not of fear, and it occurs to me that self loathing, for the Christian, at least, really has no place. Where is the condemnation? There is none. When Mother Teresa felt those feelings of utter self condemnation, I don’t think it was from God.

      • Maybe I should have said “conviction.” I guess my point is that if we never feel about our sin, it is so hard to see a need for a savior. Good point, Matt. Now you know whay I will never be a pastor!

      • The church lady would say, “Could it be….SATAN?”

        There. I have just established my age range.

  3. Are your last questions serious? satan loves to make people hate and steals away gratefulness and whatever pinpoints of hope. And some people just are not well. Still, as you suggest there should be a takeaway from the event. I AM thinking about writing a manifesto. If I use the word froggies, it will mean the puppet kind.

  4. Hah thanks for the tips! I’m going to get started right now.

  5. Good stuff, Matt. As per usual…

    ~Luke

  6. The reason he acted that way is NOT logical – he’s apparently mentally ill.

    But I do know what you mean about how everyone at some point, on some level, feels badly about themselves, engages in some kind or amount of self hate. I think there’s 2 reasons for this:

    1. We are terrible. Humans do have that natural propensity toward evil, sin, selfishness.

    2. The enemy of our souls came to rob, kill, & destroy and self hatred is an effective way to do this.

    • I thought someone would probably guess that he’s mentally ill, and I’m not sure about that. I’m not arguing with you, I was just waiting for someone to bring it up. I think we throw that term around a lot, though we’re still unclear about who’s truly ill, and who just doesn’t fit in. But you make a good couple of points about how self hate robs kills and destroys.

  7. I was assured he was out of it when I read his condemnation of the shows that “promote procreation” on Discovery-owned networks. If you watch Kate Plus Eight and feel the desire to have a child any less than 48 hours later, you weren’t paying attention to the show.

  8. Great post, Matt.

    I had a dream last night where Mike Rowe was called in to end the standoff and had a camera crew. He walked in the lobby, looked at the camera and said “Hi, I’m Mike Rowe.” Then he shot the guy. He turned back and said “And this is my job.” Then he spent the next half hour with a crime scene cleaning crew.