January 13, 2007

"The Bad Guys"

Bang, bang! Mr. Kurtz, he dead.

Boyhood, very early boyhood, should be the last time the phrase "the bad guys" comes out of your mouth. The phrase would naturally erupt during a the standard game of "Cowboys" or "Cops and Robbers" and be left behind with the other detritus of childhood as you grow into a man.

Except, of course, that many American boys never grow into men, but remain eternal adolescents in a society that asks only that they leave their testicles in Al Gore's lock-box as they slide into a career that is only a job, and marry girls that will never be women. This is especially true of those who, for one reason or another, never have children. Having a child of your own usually results in the closing of the boy/adolescent circle as you wake up to discover that you have a responsibility that is larger than keeping your wife gainfully employed, reviewing the insignificant plays of a dead medium, hustling for a better table, or letting your proto-kids, the cats, fondle your underwear.

Once you bid a fond farewell to the things of boys, you should also say good bye to such childish locutions as "the bad guys." A good replacement for this kiddy lingo in this day and age would be "the enemy;" as in "a hostile power or force."

Alas, many of our leaders and the media mouthpieces that blather and spew across networks, cables, and newspapers seem to be unable to say "the enemy" by and large and have elected to stick with "the bad guys."

What is a sensible adult supposed to make of the compulsion to cast those who would, and who have, killed us in the thousands and seek to kill us in the millions as "the bad guys?" Perhaps this is some kind of subtextual wish-fulfillment or cultural code that there are surrounding "the bad guys" a lot of "good guys." Just a few little black hats in a sea of white hats. Once we sort them out all will be well so what's the good of calling those that make war on us "the enemy?"

No good at all unless you believe that in war obfuscation of the opponent increases your chances of victory. But then again, the word "victory" has been skillfully submerged in the welter of words that fogs the minds of all Americans desperately seeking fog for their minds, and they are legion. Instead, we've supplanted it with mumblings of "success" as if what was going on in "Terrorist World War I" was just the execution of a some lame Yuppie business plan with a really killer Power Point.

I'm not really sure when plain talk went away in American life. Was it when Norton insisted that Ralph Cramden call that prototypical sewer worker a "subterranean sanitation engineer"? Could be since it seems that since around that time the BS of American life has continued to rise until the mere act of listening to a politician's speech or turning on a newscast or scanning the front page of a newspaper now requires a full-body Hazmat suit with a self-contained air supply just to hold back the stench.

I guess that "the bad guys" will never be known as "the enemy" until just after the New York Times newsroom is filled with shrapnel. But maybe, just maybe, not even then. After all, the Publisher of the New York Times, should he survive, will still be what he is today, a little boy.

Posted by Vanderleun at January 13, 2007 11:58 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Armies of un-necessary lawyers, laboring endlessly to prove the unprovable, have made communication nearly impossible.

A noted language expert, William Shakespear got it right. "First, kill the lawyers".

Posted by: rexrs at January 14, 2007 6:50 AM

I must admit I use this terminology fairly regularly. In my defense, I would state that I do so, perhaps condescendingly, to my ideological "betters" when referring to the various "militants," "freedom fighters," "Iraqi minutemen," and such, in a desparate hope that the phrase "bad guys," although perhaps judgemental on my part, will somehow penetrate their thick skulls and reach some dim childhood memory and strike therein a chord.

Your average Iraqi civilian knows who I mean, as they consistently refer to them as "Ali Baba," the bad guy of Arabian Nights fame.

I've linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2007/01/re-bad-guys.html

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at January 14, 2007 7:13 PM

Agreed. And the leader of the throng of little boys who will never grow up is your very own President. He even wears the right hat.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at January 18, 2007 8:26 AM

I somehow feel certain the that the publisher of the New York Times, despite the electoral and constitutional realities, doesn't think of Pres. Bush as his leader.

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at February 22, 2007 2:32 AM

"A noted language expert, William Shakespear got it right. "First, kill the lawyers"."

I am sure that said "noted language expert" would have loved it, rexrs, if you had actually read the play from which you pulled the quote -- that, and if you would also spell his name correctly.

The line you quoted belongs to Richard III -- who, whatever contradictions the REAL, historical Richard III may present, was one of the blackest of Shakespeare's villains. In that scene, Richard III is lamenting the legal impediments to his machinations, and vows that the first thing he would do once his tyranny over England is established would be to kill those who uphold or invoke the law to his frustration.

You might as well have quoted Hitler.

Posted by: Redisca at February 22, 2007 8:53 AM