Bob's Links and Rants

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Monday, March 27, 2006

They never stop

Via WIIIAI and CNN, I learn that unfortunately-not-new-NFL-Commissioner Condiliar Rice was getting very creative yesterday:
Saddam Hussein, and we have said this many times, as far as we know, did not order September 11, may not have even known of September 11. But that's a very narrow definition of what caused September 11. If you think that what caused September 11 was that the people who flew airplanes in caused September 11 then, no, Iraq has no relationship. But if you think that this was a broader problem of an ideology of hatred, of terrorism becoming an acceptable means in places where there was a freedom deficit and there was no possibility for legitimate political discourse, then you realize that you have to have a different kind of Middle East. And a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein at the middle of it is unthinkable.
Rube Goldberg would be proud. It would have been simpler and just as accurate to blame the Port Authority for building those giant skyscrapers right in the path of those low-flying airliners.

Also, I hate it when anyone says that any idea is "unthinkable." It's just another one of those rhetorical tricks which means, in effect, "SHUT UP." Condiliar had to think it to say it, meaning it's not "unthinkable," even by the smallest of minds. The intention, of course, is to make the listener feel guilty and ashamed to have actually thought the thought. Similar rhetoric from the right includes charges of "not supporting the troops," of "putting the rights of terrorists ahead of the safety of Americans," of being "unpatriotic," or of wanting to "cut and run." From the left, you'll hear charges of racism or sexism or homophobia or supporting "states' rights," all frequently presented not as legitimate criticism but simply in the attempt to get the other person to shut up.

But "unthinkable" is especially Orwellian (okay, that's one "SHUT UP" I use myself)--anyone who actually thinks the thought is guilty of a "thought crime." I find this particularly threatening, because I can think just about anything. In fact, I can't think of anything I can't think of! When I was in engineering school, I was in a drawing class where we did lettering exercises (this was pre-AutoCad days). In these exercises, the teacher would ask us to list novel uses for some everyday object, like a paperclip. Most students would come up with five or ten, maybe; I regularly had thirty or forty. So I can think about Saddam at the middle of the Middle East. I can think about nuclear war. I can think about fetal rape rooms and aardvark crucifixions and writing bad poetry in bad Russian. I can envision purple rickshaws tunneling under the Alaskan tundra--and I don't even do drugs! Heck, I can even imagine President Condoleeza Rice.

Doesn't mean that I like or approve of everything I think.