Like everyone, I have been avidly following the news about the National Security Agency's scattershot, warrantless mining of data from the emails, phone calls, texts and social media posts of ordinary American citizens. Fortunately, as I was just telling my editor, Tom the Butcher, I'm not really personally threatened by all this, because the only people who will be targeted for additional scrutiny are those who might exhibit some subtly treasonous patterns of behavior.
T the B: Did you or did you not on more than one occasion write the following: "I am so liberal that I should be tried for treason and executed."
Me: Well, yeah, but I was kidding.
T the B: Right, and the data spelunkers at the NSA are probably experts in the nuances of satire. Nothing to be worried about, I am sure.
Me: One statement isn't going to ...
T the B: Have you researched your footprint on the Web? I have. So I guess you think the NSA won't alert on your advocating terrorism through exposure of law enforcement personnel to biohazards?
T the B: You suggested that a good way to protest the Supreme Court's relaxed strip-search guidelines for police would be to comply with all commands ("drop trou, squat and cough") and then poop. On the floor.
Me: That was ...
T the B: Sure. Satire! Just like when you urged that Wayne LaPierre, the NRA guy, be castrated by gunfire.
Me: I never said that! A fair reader of my online poem about Wayne would conclude I was merely noting the likelihood that, prior to dispatching him to a well-deserved eternity in Hell, the Celestial Authorities will mess with his head little: "A toast then, to our friend Wayne LaPierre / For whom gun deaths have been a lucky totem / Methinks St. Peter will espy him, standing there / And smile, and aim a 30-30 at his scrotum." In short, I never said Ol' Pete would actually pull the trigger, and any suggestion that I did is calumny.
T the B: Want to talk about inciting religious intolerance?
Me: I never did any such thing.
T the B: Quoting you on Twitter: "Let's face it, Jesus was just a little messianic, don't you think?"
Me: That was a joke! Many of my Christian friends thought it was funny! Or I'm sure they would have, if I had any.
T the B: Another time you linked to a photo of a dog's butt that looks like Jesus in robes.
Me: Well, it does!
T the B: Tell that to the inquisitors. The NSA no doubt knows you want to kill Arlo Guthrie with a hammer.
Me: Nonsense. While it is true that I was peeved at the folk singer for becoming a Republican, my musing about what I would do "if I had a hammer" was a literary music-genre reference and not a step in the furtherance of a conspiracy. (I did not, in fact, at any time afterward, procure a hammer.)
T the B: I'm sure they understand, because they are sophisticated people, that it is possible to still be a loyal American even if you trash the Pledge of Allegiance.
Me: I didn't exactly "trash" it.
T the B: You called it a loyalty oath extracted from innocent youths "who are required to parrot incomprehensible ideological declarations in disgraceful, authoritarian public displays of thought control" customarily recited en masse "in a rolling grumble indistinguishable from intestinal gas," an oath that is "as legally moot as the mooing of a cow."
Me: It is a well-established rule of satire that no comparison involving "mooing" can be taken seriously.
T the B: You wrote that in journalism school you took a mandatory class in "how to give aid and comfort to America's enemies at home and abroad," and "a seminar in how to disrespect the memories of our fallen heroes."
Me: I didn't even go to journalism school.
T the B:
Me: I was actually attending a madrassa in Peshawar at the time. HA-HA-HA! THAT IS A JOKE AND VERY NOT TRUE.
T the B: I am sure the NSA will take note of that.
Me: I am toast.
Tom: Burnt toast.
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