a call for help, a plea for sanity

I need a word. Perhaps I’ll call on the verbivores to help, but you, gentle reader, might know of one already. Here’s the definition: “To become what one ostensibly opposes, often in the course of that opposition.” It may sound like hypocrisy, a la “if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s intolerance,” but this new thing needs an element of menace, of tactics employed to win the battle. Think of Serenity‘s Operative, who hunted down sinners by commiting every sin he ascribed to them.

Why the sudden interest in this meme, you ask? I recently ran across a creepy missive about how to “win the war on terror”. It presented, in methodical and persuasive language, the idea that we should discourage terrorist attacks by carrying out insane, violent acts each time one occurs. The catch phrase for this exciting new idea? “Nuke The Moon.” I am not making this up.

At first I thought it was just deranged kookery, but then I noticed that there were lots of apparent supporters of the idea, smiling and cheerful in their “Nuke The Moon” t-shirts. Was I missing something? I tried re-reading it as a tongue-and-cheek Onion piece, but there just wasn’t enough actual humor in it to make that plausible. [1] Could there be some merit that I was missing, then? I reread it again from the devil’s advocate perspective. It certainly had some rhetorical interest, so why was it so obviously wrong? Worse yet, why did it feel so dangerous?

Then it dawned on me. Attacking the innocent in order to send a message to the guilty is terrorism. It’s the core principle of terrorism. Whether it’s bombing a plane to focus attention on oppressed people, or killing the judge’s spouse to stop a mafia investigation, or attacking a nation to make an example to its neighbors, or exposing a CIA agent’s identity because her husband broke the rules, it’s all terrorism.

Does that seem a bit extreme of me? After all, calling one’s opponent a terrorist has been the neocon M.O. for five years now. Just look at the dictionary definition of terrorism, though: “The use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims.” All of my examples fit that definition handily, while the neocon usage of the “terrorist” label applies to things like refusing to show ID or exposing unjust policies to the press. So yes, I think I’m justified in calling this “Nuke The Moon” business terrorism.

But I digress. I don’t need a rant, I need a word. A word that describes “protecting marriage” by outlawing it, “supporting our troops” by not removing them from harm’s way, “balancing news” by only reporting one side, and “promoting freedom” by becoming a police state. I need a word for this thing so I can go on the record as opposing it… and make damn sure I don’t become it.

[1] Yes, I understand that IMAO is intended to be funny. It’s not ironic funny like The Medium Lobster, but instead slightly-exaggerated funny like Rush Limbaugh. The difference is that IMAO’s readers laugh because they agree.

4 thoughts on “a call for help, a plea for sanity

  1. I think you may need to bring the verbivores in on this one. I feel like there must be such a word, but I just cannot think of what it might be.

    Funny enough, I understand and agree with your post. But what bristled the hair on my neck was the phrase “nuke the moon.” It’s like “stone the baby.” What the heck? The moon never did anything to anyone!

  2. Hm. I like the definition given for Tautological Rationalizers:

    “Tautological Rationalizers are not hypocrites because their beliefs and perceptions of reality conform to support their own desires and imperfections. They can not be hypocrites because their beliefs and perceptions of reality are rationalizations for their actions and are without objectivity. When a state of hypocrisy arises, tautological rationalizers conform their beliefs around their actions to eliminate contradiction, rather than conforming their actions around their beliefs.”

    It would be nice to have something catchier, though.

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