Saturday, 7 September 2002

Bomb the lot of them

AL Kennedy, The Guardian

I love this time of year - the climactic anomalies of summer drift imperceptibly into the climactic anomalies of autumn; the kids go back to school; the really important people return from their holidays and, well, it just puts you in the mood to bomb the shit out of somebody. But then, I'm not a really important person and am, therefore, a touch uncertain when it comes to picking which civilian population centres deserve to be turned into hamburger and grit. I mean, I'm not even clear why it's a good idea to bomb Saddam Hussein's civilians when it was a bad idea to bomb Pinochet's and Suharto's.

If being an evil madman, torturing and killing your own citizens and foreign nationals, and purchasing western hardware to do so are any kind of qualification, then we could have pounded innocent bystanders in Chile and Indonesia into dust ages ago. Pinochet liked to drop people into the ocean (dead and alive); Suharto preferred mass shootings and the odd alfresco castration; Saddam has a penchant for bombings. Which I can see might be a problem: Saddam and the Forces of Light have the same tactical speciality - how embarrassing, like turning up at a party in the same frock as your hostess. Saddam should have picked something more ethnic (snake pits, camel grenades), but we could find a compromise: the west uses high explosive, Iraq goes for anthrax, that would be fair.

People do worry about our Bombing Fairness Ratings; it's second only to poor TV coverage of missile attacks among factors likely to disturb the electorate. Perhaps if the voter could feel more involved. For instance, how hard would it be to add a top 10 of the nation's favourite targets to each televised national lotto draw? We'd be much more firmly behind George and Tony if they could make bombing fun.

For example, we could bomb people who talk in the cinema during films. It's a trivial transgression, but does indicate sociopathic tendencies - we have no real idea what these people might eventually do. Selecting five or six Exemplary Cinemas and bombing everyone inside would leave the rest of us with a sense of completion. You might argue that this kills non-talkers as well, but they have made a decision not to intervene and kill the talkers, so, frankly, they only have themselves to blame.

The simplest legislation could fill sports arenas and large car parks with people who look at you oddly or have offensive lifestyles, are bad whistlers or queue jumpers, use poor grammar or dress badly - just whoever prevents you from having a nice day. Of course, you could be on someone else's list, but that's half the thrill, isn't it? Will they obliterate you and your family before you can puree them?

There are more serious targets, naturally. If you do have a grudge against people inflicting death and misery on others, then the corporations and "green" oil companies could keep your rocket launchers warm for months - with special attention for Big Tobacco and those asbestos companies dragging their feet over compensation. Or you might want to blast the calcium out of all the property developers sitting on low-value green belt farmland, waiting until they've handed out enough brown envelopes to buy its reclassification as essential lebensraum for yuppie box maisonettes. Remember, you have the right to defend your country and your children's inheritance - apart from anything else, it always feels nice when you've finished.

Not that children aren't actually a little problematic - observers can get very sentimental when one or two children die, and 20 or 30 dead sons and daughters can upset them even more. But there is a solution: annihilate a few thousand kids and the impact of your actions mysteriously lessens - too much horror numbs the mind. This means your wisest course of action is to bomb all the children of all the groups you don't like, just to get those numbers up. Naturally, you'll also have to bomb their mothers, aunts and sisters, who will otherwise end up wailing, or demonstrating with annoyingly quiet dignity outside your embassy.

This kind of misogynistic carpet bombing will, unfortunately, piss off the affected husbands, uncles, brothers and so on - and the last thing you want is a mass of aggrieved blokes planning unimaginable revenge against your prudent security measures. So you'll have to bomb them, too, if you really want to defend your freedom-loving way of life and your own husbands, kids and whatnot. In fact, to be safe, you should blast every individual you dislike, their communities, their records, their journalists and any supporters they may have. It's tough and costly, but if it wasn't the only way, George and Tony and all those really important people would have told us, right?

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