Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: 9/11 obsession, and an eco-friendly guide to human sacrificing Ashton Kutcher

Matt Labash Columnist
Font Size:

Editor’s Note: Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here

Dear Matt, I’ve been seeing this woman for a couple months now. She’s great except for one problem: she’s completely obsessed with 9/11. She watches all the documentaries, pores over articles and pictures, talks incessantly about the memorial, and has a commemorative box set of silver coins she purchased from a late-night TV channel. She wasn’t even there when it happened. She’s from Albuquerque. As the 10-year anniversary approaches, I’m wondering if it also has to be our 3-month (and final) anniversary. Is there any way she can Never Forget while I simply Tune Out? How can I make this relationship work? — Thanks, Richard Jance

I sympathize with your lady friend. September 11 affected each of us in different and strange ways. As I wrote in one of the many poems on the subject that poured out of me in a fever in the days that followed, so that I, like so many others, could internalize this senseless tragedy in order to make it about me:

Was no nine-one-fun

For months afterwards, all I could do was watch news coverage around the clock, while collecting 9/11 commemorative dolls — Bernie Kerik being my favorite. Combing his walrus moustache brought calm in the face of the New Uncertainty. The party was over. After years of decadence and rampant materialism and Internet IPO gluttony, that fateful day in many ways ended the innocence that we’d all been guilty of, giving way to an illusion-shattering solemnity and a creeping sense of vulnerability. America realized she was no longer an impregnable fortress. We now saw that any ill-intentioned imposter from some distant shore could slime his way in (Mohammad Atta, Nawaf al-Hazmi, Piers Morgan), thus changing our way of life forever.

No longer were Muslims considered benign figures, admired for their plaintive folk singing (Cat “Yusuf Islam” Stevens) or for their awesome sky hooks (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). They came to be feared, as we were now locked with their hardliners in a clash of civilizations, since our religions of peace seemed unlike theirs, as Presbyterians don’t evangelize with suicide bombs. Sometimes, it was hard to tell who was on which side, even amongst our so-called own. As my good friend Greg Gutfeld once editorialized on the Huffington Post: “Last night, Scott {Gutfeld’s flight attendant roommate} played me a song called ‘9/11 is a Joke,’ by a rap band called Public Enemy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find terrorism of any kind to be ‘a joke.’”

A reader named Tom responded that perhaps Gutfeld was being ironical, but the song was released long before the attacks, and was actually a protest song about the slow response time of emergency personnel in black neighborhoods after 9-1-1 is called. But Gutfeld wasn’t being ironic — irony had died. So Gutfeld vigilantly thundered, “Thanks Tom, but the fact that the song was released long before September 11, 2001, makes it even more chilling, for it suggests perhaps that there was prior knowledge of the terrorist attack.” For a while, that’s the way it went: Greg vs. Tom. Jesus vs. Muhammad. Brother vs. brother. We no longer knew who we were. We just knew that we’d never be the same again.

That lasted until about 2002. We’re back to normal, now — with the exception of your girlfriend. She’s an odd duck. But while she’s busy collecting 9/11 cigarette lighters, she’s probably failed to notice that she’s several 9/11’s behind. From protracted unwinnable wars, to our never-ending recession, to our future-threatening debt crisis, practically every day these days brings newer, lesser 9/11s, as anyone who has watched a Ke$ha video can attest.

I’m not minimizing what happened. It was a colossal horror show, and I saw the heartbreaking toll firsthand, as I reported here and here. But before you pack it in, try to make your girlfriend understand that there’s no percentage in getting permanently mired in past misery when there are so many new miseries to be endured. Variety is the spice of life. That’s the thing about tragedies — you don’t have to fixate on any one of them for too long. They’re pretty good about making more.

So, who do we have to sacrifice to Ra to make the sun less angry at us? I suggest Ashton Kutcher. That guy’s been trying to fool us into thinking he’s a movie star for far too long now. — Gopher Trace

While I don’t support all of Ashton Kutcher’s creative choices, I suspect that a lot of your anti-Kutcherism is jealousy-based, since you’re presumably not having sex with Demi Moore, then tweeting about it, and he is.

Come to think of it, those two are cute enough to burn at the stake. But even if we made an Ashton bonfire using Demi kindling, it wouldn’t call off the sun, which has turned into a hot-headed, vengeful ogress hellbent on scorching everything in its path. Whether Mother Earth is truly angry at us or just having a hot flash, I’ll leave to trained scientists like Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. But even as I write, I am sweating it out in a half-shirt and Daisy Dukes, meaning that the temperature isn’t the only thing that’s hot in here (come see the goodies on flickr, ladies).

The truth, as stated by an article that I randomly Googled a few seconds ago to make myself sound well-informed, is that the surest way to make the sun angrier would be to offer a human burnt sacrifice. According to, even cremating your average corpse requires 1,800 degrees of heat over two to three hours, releasing 573 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And that’s not accounting for harmful vapors released by burning dental fillings or bionic johnsons, the latter of which Kutcher presumably has (how else would a goofball like him keep Miss Moore interested?)

It’d be much more environmentally responsible, when sacrificing Ashton Kutcher, to put him in a resomator — a device that is catching on in the mortician trade. It’s a steel chamber that uses high pressure and chemicals to emulsify a body, while expending only about one-seventh of the energy required for cremation. Sure, it’d be more satisfying to watch him get barbecued during a “Two and a Half Men” episode, right before it was (finally) canceled. But resomation is the way to cleanly and greenly offer up a human sacrifice. The Sun God will be a little less angry. Demi will be freed up to have sex with the rest of us. And there will be no more embarrassing Ashton tweets, such as “I nevr know wht 2 post after paying respect 2 sum1 who died. Just seems lk anything funny is inapprorpriate. mayB I’ll just go C HarryPotter.” This way, the environment wins, and so do we.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.