Subversive humor

How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg?

The dog has four legs, because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. — attributed to Abraham Lincoln

History

“The problem about the triumphalist, Whiggish view of History upon which many of us were brought up is it indoctrinates its victims with the idea that the Goodies always win; that the winners must therefore have been the Goodies. That this is not so is one of the most important lessons to be learned…” — The Beautiful City: ANZAC, April 25 1915

War, maybe

Measured, proportional response? No.

“Get a real coalition together. Exterminate Islamic State in Libya, with a ruthlessness and thoroughness that would terrify the foes of ancient Rome. Impose order on Libya. Take sides. Shoot until the bad guys stop moving. Sign a paper and take some pictures. Keep a head-busting squad on standby. Recognize that peace doesn’t keep itself, and do what’s necessary instead of complaining about it.

“No, Barack Obama isn’t capable of any of that.” — Now Egypt joins the air fight against Islamic State – in Libya, by J.E. Dyer

Can’t see any of that happening.

Another Islamic massacre

There’s been another Islamic massacre, far larger than the one in Paris, this time in Nigeria. Boko Haram overran a town and killed everyone. The government “soldiers” ran away. Western news won’t cover this as much, which is too bad. They could post tweets in solidarity – “we are all Nigerian government soldiers.”

Use of force

Somebody said the cops in New York choked a man to death for selling untaxed cigarettes. That’s dishonest. The man wasn’t choked to death for selling cigarettes, he was killed while resisting arrest.

Law enforcement by its nature is coercive. The cops tell you to stop. If you don’t stop, they tell you you’re under arrest. If you resist, they take you by force. Maybe they use a taser and then handcuff you and take you in, or maybe they use a taser and your heart stops. Maybe they tackle you and you hit your head on the pavement and you die. If you resist to the point of endangering the cops or bystanders, maybe they shoot you.

The cops did not set out deliberately to kill Eric Garner, but the force they used to arrest him did kill him. Anytime the law is enforced, even over a parking ticket, there’s a risk of somebody getting killed. Think of it as the “force” part of “enforcement.” You might say if selling untaxed cigarettes isn’t worth killing for, then it shouldn’t be illegal. Okay, but taxes must be paid.

If you sell drugs or steal a little money, you may be arrested. If you resist, they’ll take you by force. If you resist enough, they’ll kill you. That’s how government works, and that’s a good reason to keep the government as small as possible. It’s ironic that people complaining about law enforcement work hard to make us subject to ever more laws.

Government is not simply another name for the things we do together. Government is the institution that can legitimately kill you for defying it.

Squanto was Catholic

According to Scituate Chronicles, by Ted Clarke, Squanto was a Christian, and probably a Catholic. He seems to have been a decent enough regular guy, but not notably pious.

More than once he was captured and sold as a slave. He crossed the Atlantic multiple times, and lived in England for years. Having gone back to America and been captured and sold into slavery again, around 1614 he was rescued in Gibraltar by Spanish monks who taught him about Christianity and baptized him.

Squanto did give the Pilgrims critical help with farming, and it’s not a exaggeration to say the colony likely would have failed without that help. He also seems to have used his position and knowledge to prey on the ignorance of the local native Americans, and tried to manipulate the Pilgrims into attacking a particular tribe. So, pretty much a man of his time, or our own.