Earlier today, we tried to take a balanced view of Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea, which reportedly included a friendly hangout with the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Un. On the one hand, the story was so bizarre that it provided ample opportunity for joke-making. We took advantage of this opportunity ourselves – as enjoyers of joke-making, we appreciated this aspect of the story.
But there was a darker side there, too – all this joke-making (again including our own), we feared, could wind up by proxy make a joke out of the very real, and ongoing, plight of so many in North Korea suffering due to decades of rule by Kim Jong Un’s family, and their complete lack of interest in anything but power for themselves. (Those feelings are encapsulated well here.) And it was with this in mind that Freedom House, an organization that promotes human rights, had this to say about the trip:
“History is cluttered with the examples of academics, philosophers, renowned writers, and eminent advocates of humane ideals who have aligned themselves with or apologized for the world’s most despicable tyrants,” said Arch Puddington, vice president of research. “Given this context, Dennis Rodman’s choice to pal around with a leader who oversees one massive, countrywide concentration camp is very much in the minor leagues of dictator worship.”
And you know what I’m going to do now, after expressing reservation about making jokes at the expense of a regime that’s caused untold human suffering? Make jokes. Why? Well, let’s revisit that Freedom House statement again:
“History is cluttered with the examples of academics, philosophers, renowned writers, and eminent advocates of humane ideals who have aligned themselves with or apologized for the world’s most despicable tyrants,” said Arch Puddington, vice president of research.
said Arch Puddington, vice president of research
Let’s really zero in on the best part here:
Now, I love me some unusual names (take this, for just one example), but “Arch Puddington” may well be the best one I’ve ever seen. What do I love so much about it? Well – what wouldn’t I love about it? Above all, I love that his name has “Pudding” in it, but I also love that “Pudding” is then graced with the suffix of “-ton,” making his last name sound like a town in the English countryside that consists of a giant vat of pudding. And I also love that his first name is “Arch,” suggesting that of all the pudding vat towns in the English country side, only his is the true version. The rest are pale imitations. Perhaps these conversations, excerpted from Gchat, will further clarify my love for this name:
[friend]: astounding that he isnt british
me: astounding that he isn’t a bowl of pudding with googly eyes
that just gets placed on lecterns at human rights conferences
me: while a person clearly hides behind a podium and talks in a [weird] voice
in character as the ‘pudding’
[friend]: the pudding jiggles slightly as the wacky voice talks, i can see it
me: yeah, probably
[friend]: and a room full of professional people take notes and nod along
me: arch puddington
You get the idea now, I trust. By the way, this is the real Arch Puddington, a serious man, an expert on human rights and individual freedoms:
But in my head, he’ll always be this:
I’m still conflicted on Rodman’s trip. On Arch Puddington? I’ve never been more all-in in my life.