Dr. Bill Frist, Moral Monster

We’ll come to Tennessee’s pussy hunter shortly, but first a word about his predecessor as Senate majority leader, that bruised son of Mississippi, Trent Lott. How was Lott finally induced to quit the post he loved so much, and from which vantage point he was able to guide so many millions to public works to his home state?

A well primed Republican source confides to CounterPunch that Lott has been promised the chairmanship of the new senate committee scheduled to oversee the vast Homeland Security Agency now in process of formation. So Lott be able to continue dispensing prodigious patronage of the sort that has brightened the eroded downtown of Jackson, Miss, with a colossal new post office I was able to admire last spring. We may expect numberless counter-terrorism facilities, command centers and kindred porkodromes to enrich the concrete pourers and building contractors of Mississippi.

As for Bill Frist, the millionaire Tennessee sawbones, everthing you need to know about this unpleasing man was contained in one short paragraph of a profile of Frist by Michael Kranish in the Boston Globe Sunday magazine for October 27, 2002, covering the years when Frist was in Boston, first at Harvard Medical School and then at Mass General.

“Frist is an animal lover who said his decision to become a doctor was clinched when he helped heal a friend’s dog. But Frist now found himself forced to kill animals during medical research. And his new dilemma was finding enough animals to kill. Soon, he began lying to obtain more animals. He went to the animal shelters around Boston and promised he would care for the cats as pets. Then he killed them during experiments. ‘It was a heinous and dishonest thing to do,’ Frist wrote. ‘I was going a little crazy.'”

So now the US senate is going to be led by the cat world’s answer to Dr Mengele! A man who can do that is capable of any infamy. Can’t you just picture this oily Tennessean cooing and clucking over the tabbies and tortoiseshells at the shelter, solemnly wagging his head as the shelter staff counselled him on proper cat procedures, then dragging the poor creatures into his lab and torturing them to death. I call on the Humane Society to demand that Frist publicly apologize for this appalling, indeed ineradicable stain on his character, and pay substantial reparations out of the vast fortune that has accrued from the Hospital Corporation of America, founded by his father and brother.

As noted by Andrew Cockburn on this site, while serving as an ardent toady of business, especially the health care and pharmaceutical cartels, Frist projected a “caring” image, accepted without demur by all except his former interns at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Tennessee, where he amassed big bucks as a heart/lung transplant surgeon. “He was a complete asshole,” recalled one to Andrew recently. “Arrogant and unhelpful.”

Frist, Andrew writes, “has subsequently let it be known that as a transplant maestro he ‘saw”‘ indigent patients. ‘The equivocation is telling,’ says the former intern, himself now a distinguished practitioner. ‘As far as we could see the only indigent patients Frist saw were the ones he passed on the street on his way to operate on rich Saudis at the medical center.”

If any further particulars are required to convict Frist, we need only say that he has been attracting the toadying attentions of Bono. Bereft of his two prime hosts in Washington, former Senator Helms and former Treasury Sec. O’Neill, the appalling Bono has been calling on Frist and dining with Rupert Murdoch.

The SM Community Lashes CounterPunch

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom complains that I have been unfair both to the Coalition and to Jack McGeorge, the arms inspector who turned out to be a big shot in the bondo/dom and sado-masochist “community”. Among my sins: I called McGeorge “an experienced torturer”. What’s wrong with that? Torture, as defined by Dan Mitrione, was the precise amount of pain, applied in the precisely required amount, to acquire the precisely required result. (Mitrione was a notorious CIA torturer, eventually captured by Uruguayan guerillas and executed.) Surely Mitrione’s complacent description of his craft applies as a useful working definition of SM practices, even though pleasure and not information is the objective.

Susan Wright, writing on behalf of the NCSF, notes in a petulant letter of complaint that “McGeorge is an activist and a leader in the SM-Leather-Fetish community who educates about safe, sane and consensual sexual expression for adults.” His qualifications as a “leader” were proudly invoked by Jonathan Krall, a friend McGeorge dispatched as his emissary, to be interviewed by Slate. Two lines from the Slate piece: “He [Krall] says he has known McGeorge for more than 15 years through his very public participation in various S/M clubs. In the process, Krall believes, he’s routinely witnessed the ‘leadership qualities’ that will make McGeorge a fine arms inspector.

I think Wright was mostly pissed off by my derisive remarks about the semantic career of the word “community”, in the course of which I jocularly yoked the BDSM community to the “cannibal community”.

Cannibal Community Roiled By German Mensch Muncher

The cannibal community is in fact agog over some pretty far-out activities by two of that community’s members, one being well masticated pre and post mortem . There have been abundant rep[orts in the German and British press, but not much here, beyond a brief, demure report on CNN.

Meet first Bernd Juergen B, who finished up on the terminal end of a consensual cannibal relationship. According to police reports he wrote out his will and had it officially recognized by a notary on the morning of his disappearance March 9, 2001. In the will, he left most of his estate including a penthouse apartment to his live-in partner, a fellow named Rene.

Then Bernd Juergen B had told his boss at Siemens he was taking that Friday off “to attend to some personal matters”. He was last seen at a subway station in Berlin. He took a train some 300 kilometers from Berlin to an old house near Kassel. Reason for trip? Bernd Juergen B had responded to one of 80 adverts that read: “Gay male seeks hunks 18-30 to slaughter.” The advertiser meant this literally.

Armin M was also a computer technician and until recently had a job with a software firm in the Rhine Valley city of Karlsruhe, 30 km south of Rotenburg. He lived with his mother in the 17th century half-timbered manor house, staying on there after her death three years ago.

“He was a mama’s boy,” a neighbor later told reporters. “He was totally fixated on his mother, who he said never let him date girls. After she died, he began to thaw out.”

After some initial pleasantries the couple got down to business. Armin cut off Bernd’s penis, sauteed it, and the two ate it. The proceedings were videotaped by Armin. Police who later watched the tape are, according to the press, now undergoing psychiatric counselling. “The victim appeared to be fully aware of the situation”, one investigator told the press. “Videotape material definitely shows both him and the suspect engaged in eating his own flesh prior to his death.” The video shows the victim willingly allowed himself to be castrated before both men engaged in eating his severed flesh.

Then Armin M removed body parts for later enjoyment and buried the rest. Police found frozen human flesh and skeletal remains, and a cellar which had been renovated into a makeshift slaughterhouse, complete with trough drains and meat hooks.

The best account I’ve seen was by Roger Boyes in the London Times for December 14.

Armin M, it turns out, was a former sergeant-major in the German army who later worked for the council in Mainz. In the old house the cops found 50 videos that are said to be worth thousands on the “very specialised market for cannibal acts”. After snacking on the hors d’oeuvre of Bernd’s penis they set forth for for the slaughtering room, where Armin M switched on the camera, then stabbed Bernd Jurgen B to death. He then hung the body upside down on a meat hook, allowing to allow the blood to drain, and later cut and wrapped the flesh for freezing.

Boyes quotes the head of the Criminological Institute in Wiesbaden, Rudolf Egg, as saying “modern cannibals use[d] deep-freezing to extend and ration out their pleasure. Primitive cannibals used to eat their victims all at one go soon after killing. “If he really derived pleasure from eating a man”, Egg continued raptly , “then he could not possibly eat everything in a single day. And he obviously did not want to eat rotten meat. So he froze the body parts; the act of eating then took on the aspect of a ritual and could be drawn into his sexual fantasies.” Thank you, Rudolf.

German columnists have been blaming Hollywood, specifically The Silence of the Lambs and its prequel, Red Dragon, thereby occluding more humble local fare, namely Rainer Werner Fassbinbder’s Tenderness of the Wolves, gaydom’s an swer to Jaws many years ago. The Teuton scribes are also sprinkling slurs on thr cannibal community at large, with the mass-circulation tabloid Bild expressing concern that cannibals could be here, there, everywhere. “They are invisible behind their glasses, their hairstyles, their families, their work, their seemingly unblemished innocence.”

Boyes reports that cannibalism “hits a nerve” for a whole generation of Germans who “remember the desperate eating of human organs during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, when the three-month siege of Stalingrad saw the starving storm troopers eating the bodies of their dead fellows, though presumably they avoided dead Russians as untermensch and therefore unfit for Aryan consumption.

The Incubator Returns!

So onward into 2003 we go, amid INS round-ups of undesirable aliens in southern California and the grand hunt for Saddam’s “material breaches”, which could be a song out of Gilbert and Sullivan. As Hilaire Belloc wrote in his Ballad of Lord Lundy, “the press is squared, the middle class are prepared.”

Back in January of 1990, I was the first journalist to question the charge, promoted by Amnesty International, that Iraqi soldiers had taken over 300 babies from incubators in Kuwait tossed them on the cold hospital floor, leaving them there to die.

In the end of course the incubator atrocity turned out to have been concocted by Hill and Knowlton, with its main witness being the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US. The story was the best advertisement from that war of the old line about truth being the first casualty.

You can’t keep a good lie down. As FAIR recently reported, CNN did a retrospective on Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and aftermath and guess what, there was the incubator atrocity, large as life, without a blemish to its name.

Most such news “management” is entirely voluntary.

Die Tageszeitung, the Berlin daily, got a world class scoop just before Christmas by getting hold of the 1,1000 page document lodged by Iraq con concerning its overall relationship with weapons of mass destruction. With its habitual servility the UN allowed the US to censor this report before it was handed out to the members of the Security Council.

Swiftly excised were the corporations, mostly from the US, UK and Germany that supplied Iraq with nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile technology, prior to 1991. Such shipments, encouraged by the relevant governments, were illegal under the terms of solemn international treaties and laws. US corporations included Honeywell, Spektra Physics, Semetex, UNISYS, Sperry Corp, Rockwell, Hewlett Packard, Dupont, Eastman Kodak, American Type Culture Collection, Bechtel , and others, 24 in all. In addition, US government departments for defense, energy, trade, and agriculture, were designated as suppliers.

A big story? You might think so. The European press ran good coverage. Amy Goodman did an excellent report on Democracy Now, as did IndyMedia outlets. I heard a good report on CBC radio. The London Independent ran a story by Tony Paterson of December 18. But in the main corporate US press? Nothing that I could find, at least for the week following the first story in TAZ.


Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined!, A Colossal Wreck and An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents are available from CounterPunch.