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Words Can Kill, Sez Professor

On National Public Radio on November 7, 1995 I heard a reporter interviewing some professor at Tel Aviv University by the name of Bernard Sussman about the Rabin assassination. Mr. Sussman said, "Words can kill just the same way guns can." Amazing. Do they pay these guys to say this kind of witless thing in public? (I'll leave this concept to the imaginations of all you millions of military and civilian folks out there who actually know how guns work ... and how words work.) Mr. Sussman must be a professor of metaphysics, because while his grip on unreality seems fairly solid, I'm not confident about his grip on reality!

A few minutes later, the objectively-reporting gurus over at NPR gave front coverage to some cheese-monger from the Anti-Defamation League (you know, those people who spend all their time and money defaming anyone who dares to disagree with them--that is, when they are not actively spying on people). This ADL spokesman intoned in the most solemn of voices "Words do kill." Amazing stuff, isn't it? "Words do kill" ... spoken in a most authoritative tone of voice this pipsqueak could muster, no doubt, as if that would help lil ol' me buy this particular bit of quackspeak.

NPR filled its report with noises about how a bunch of angry folks in Israel get together and yak and yell about politics, what they like, what they don't like. The formerly obscure group that spawned Amir (as in no one's ever even heard of them before--and I sure can't remember their name) didn't like Rabin's "land for peace" deal. I must admit, "land for peace" is surely trading the most tangible thing in the world for the most intangible thing in the world ... but then, what do I know about the arcane niceties of Israeli politics? Only what the media chooses to tell me, unfortunately ... and they've left it pretty vague. For instance, NPR didn't see fit to tell me anything the assassin actually said and thought--besides that God told him to do it, which is not very informative. On the other hand, what I do know is that the media is telling me that this yakity yak, this blowing-off-of-steam, this yelling and shouting and jumping-up-and-down has somehow affected the "climate" over the city of Jerusalem! The assassin Amir and his obscure group of "rightwing political extremists" by their words alone managed to alter the weather itself. Nifty trick! I'm sure my cousins the farmers in Ohio would love to learn that one!

"The extremist political rhetoric created the climate surrounding Rabin's assassination"--sounds like Rabin was surrounded by a cloud, a big nasty dark violent cloud. Maybe that's why the Israeli secret service and the Mossad--reputedly the best in their business--couldn't see Rabin well enough to do their jobs and protect his life. At any rate, they were patently unable to stop an assassin from walking up to Rabin and killing him right in front of their noses. I mean, where were these guys? All taking a whiz at the same time? All gone on a smoke break? Nope. The secret service guys were all present and accounted for. I don't know about you, but that excuse about looking for an Arab assassin, so they didn't notice the Jewish one just doesn't make sense to me. That's a pretty weak excuse for anyone, but for these guys, it is ridiculous! "He wasn't wearing a turban and a robe, so we didn't think he was an assassin!" Evidently Amir didn't have the courtesy to wear a neon sign with 3 foot day-glo letters that read "I AM AN ASSASSIN." Do they really expect us to believe this tripe?

In its reporting, NPR made sure to point out that the main climate-altering ingredient involved seemed to be the "rightwing" nature of the "rhetoric." I'm having to imagine this, but presumably all these nasty words like "We don't want to trade our land for peace" made the air so sticky, or made it so cold, or damp, or cloudy, or whatever, that Amir couldn't resist killing Rabin--with his words, apparently ... although I could have sworn he used a gun. (This perhaps explains why the media chooses to run stories like this early in the morning--they're figuring that I'm not quite awake yet and will be more likely to believe whatever silliness they're throwing my way.)

"Rightwing Extremist Rhetoric"--words contained in any statement that could be called RER are to be considered essentially dangerous, having the same physical effect as bullets. Listening to words of that nature could get you killed. Speaking words of that nature could make you a murderer. This, at any rate, is the logical extention of "Words can kill the same way guns can" --especially rightwing, extremist... yawn ... 'scuse me...words have the power of ... what? Nine millimeter? .357 magnum bullets? Hollowpoints? Black Talons? Was that what killed Rabin? Assault Words? Killer Words? In high-capacity sentences? Is this what the quackspeak folks want me to believe? Does anyone else smell sedition laws and rabid censorship right around the corner? And what about leftwing words--do they have the same potential to kill, or is it only rightwing words?

As far as I can tell, Amir did NOT walk up to Rabin and say "Drop dead, Rabin." He walked up to him and shot him with a real gun with real bullets. I would appreciate it if these media folks would ask a few more tough and thoughtful questions about what the hell the secret service people were doing ... or not doing while Rabin was shot to death in front of their eyes. And I would appreciate it if they would quit offending my sense of reality with mushbrained ideas like "Words can kill the same way guns can." And until they do, all media idiots proclaiming such nonsense can just drop dead.

(If they all do, then maybe I'll believe them!)

15 November 1995

Patricia Neill, 1997




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8 Dec, 1997