Friday, September 09, 2005

Freedom = Sterility

From today's Washington Post (who should be good and ashamed of themselves for ever touching this idiotic thing with a ten-foot barge pole):
The [Freedom] march, sponsored by the Department of Defense [and, RIP Katharine Graham, not the Washington Post, they do not add], will wend its way from the Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and "sterile," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense.

The U.S. Park Police will have its entire Washington force of several hundred on duty and along the route, on foot, horseback and motorcycles and monitoring from above by helicopter. Officers are prepared to arrest anyone who joins the march or concert without a credential and refuses to leave, said Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford.
Interesting word, that. Sterile.

We think that means "free of germs," maybe, or "cleansed" or "disinfected." That's obviously the sense in which Ms. Barber is using the word, as police and crowd-control jargon. Let's leave aside the slanderous implication that anyone who might not wish to join this festival for Embarrassing White People (Clint Black, anyone? How many fans does ol' Clint enjoy among the evacuees of New Orleans?) is a potential source of sepsis.

But actually the dictionary, font of far more Everlasting Wisdom than any -- that's any -- other book, Good or otherwise, reveals an interesting subtlety. My desk Webster's Ninth gives two major senses for "sterile."

The first sense is of barrenness: "failing to produce or incapable of producing offspring, fruit, or spores." Well, we know the Embarrassing White People reproduce like hamsters, so the parade route won't be sterile in that sense -- unless you use the word metaphorically, where for "offspring" you read "anything of value." That might apply.

I think the second sense works better here: "Unproductive of vegetation, free from living organisms and esp. microorganisms." Yes, that's the ticket. Free of life. I think sense c) offers the most applicable definition:

Lacking in stimulating emotional or intellectual quality.

Let's see: Meet at the Pentagon; marshal the protection of the entire force of the Park Police of Washington, DC, on foot, on horseback, and in helicopters; march around Washington with 3,000-10,000 of your Embarrassing White People brethren through a parade route demarcated by razor wire and snow fencing that is characterized approvingly by its organizers as sterile; to watch a concert put on by one of several hundred indistinguishable Nashville jingoes* that will be capped by a song titled with a pun so fucking moronic I can't even bring myself to type it;** all of which is meant to buttress the most deadly lie ever told to the American people by its leader.

Yeah, that's sterile, all right.

I want to know the answer to something I haven't seen asked in the paper: What the hell are these people afraid of? Are they at this point in US history seriously going to try to convince us they're afraid of a terrorist attack? Really? Or is it something else they want to keep out?

Could it be the, you know, infectious?

*(I've stopped trying to tell them apart, and just lump them all together as "some asshole in a cowboy hat" -- Dwight Yoakam being the sole exception: Dwight Yoakam: Not an asshole, despite the cowboy hat)

**"Iraq and Roll." I can copy and paste it.


Kevin Wolf said...

If there's anything good to take from the article you linked to it's gems like this (my emphasis):

"Pettiford said officers would patrol to keep interlopers out because the Pentagon restricted the event in its permit application. 'That is what their permit called for, so we have those fences to keep the public out.'"

MUSSOLINI!! Oh, sorry - did that just slip out?

bunny said...

Steve Earle is also not an asshole. Pretty much the only country musician of recent vintage I can listen to.