“All we hear of ISIS is puritanical & punitive; is there nothing celebratory & joyous?” Joyce Carol Oates asks on Twitter.

The immediate reaction on Twitter and in the traditional media was ironic indeed, though unsurprising: a massive stream of insults and threats. One could describe it as puritanical & punitive—in a joyous, celebratory kind of way.  (Ross Douthat was an exception with his thoughtful response on his New York Times blog.)

Ironic, too, that a parallel twitter conversation was happening on the topic of public shaming and free speech.

Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates

Though much abuse is heaped on those who seek to understand individuals antithetical to ourselves, yet it seems necessary. What is the fear?


JCO has never been afraid to ask questions that shouldn’t be asked; to try to understand, at a very human level, why the most despised people do what they do.

When I see a @JoyceCarolOates tweet people are mad at, i usually see a writer toying with our most basic assumptions, which is kinda her job


Alan Scherstuhl ‏@studiesincrap

No other novelist of that caliber uses Twitter as a scratchpad. It’s dangerous & a little mad, but i love seeing where her mind’s going


The Complete Tweet

Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates

Cultures seem to swing between extremes of Puritanism & permissiveness; rigid order & disorder; control & “freedom.”


Joyce Carol Oates@JoyceCarolOates

What is clear is that human beings can’t live for long–do not care to reproduce–without meaning in their lives.


Joyce Carol Oates@JoyceCarolOates

Tragic that “meaning” can be virtually anything–someone will believe it & die for it.


Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates

Portrayal of non-combative life under ISIS so grim & narrow, why would anyone wish to live in such a way? Mass delusion?


I thought about making an argument to this effect last night but who needs the grief so I just subtweeted instead


Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates

Joyce Carol Oates Retweeted Felix Gilman

It was a serious question! How can anyone, even the deluded, wish to live so grimly & so un-naturally?


Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates

Trying to comprehend mentality of cultists, suicidal “true believers,” God-fanatics is (perhaps) like trying to stare into the sun.


Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates

Though much abuse is heaped on those who seek to understand individuals antithetical to ourselves, yet it seems necessary. What is the fear?


Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates

Fortunately scientists who sought to understand what causes virulent infectious diseases like the plague were not consequently demonized.


Always a wonderment to see the endless variation of misinterpretation & aggression in replies to question like this.


Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates

Joyce Carol Oates Retweeted Dan Therriault

Enormous fear of complexities–a mass yearning for simplicity as in fundamentalist mind-sets (like ISIS).


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