Changing the Rules
The rules have changed since September 11th may have set a record for a catch phrase becoming trite. Can you hear me now? Good! How you doin? You are the weakest leak, goodbye. Had enough of those yet? The latter examples may grate the nerves more than the former, but there is a nefarious element to the rules changing phrase that has become buried by its usage.
Catch phrases in our day and age are almost entirely a product of Madison Avenue. On occasion a saying will spring up spontaneously or an old phrase will be invested with new life. Lets Roll, took on new meaning after 9/11. More often though the originators of catch phrases are Ad Execs trying to sell you something. But, what are those that use the changing rules slogan like a mantra trying to sell? Its all tied into what the rules are.
Rules are set by mutual agreement. If playing Poker all parties must agree what values the cards represent. While the urge to argue for 7, 2 8, 6 and 4 being wild might seem a good idea, like when your holding them, the game ceases to be Poker if all parties dont agree to the rule set.
Rules, by their very nature, are also defining. The distinction between Poker and Blackjack are in the rules. Both games use the same deck of cards, but the games are vastly different. It is only the rules that make them different. If you mess with the rules you change the game. Ive tried to convince more than a few Vegas Blackjack dealers that my 22 being higher than their 17 should make me the winner. Vegas card dealers know the integral nature of rules like few people ever will.
We all have our own personal rules as well. I wont eat uncooked fish for example. You can call it sushi, make it look like modern art and tell me its sexy. It matters not. All persons attempting to challenge my rule on sushi will be rebuked and called fish breath.
Its a rule I have and its one I am unfailingly dedicated to upholding. I have an entirely different rule regarding sake. For those that are unfamiliar with just how creative the Japanese can be with rice, sake is the fermented essence of all that is good and wholesome in the world. My rule is to liberate sake from close proximity to any uncooked fish and store it in my gut. Rules can be a burden, but duty has its own rewards.
There are rules for everything in life, great and small. Politicians agree not to be avowed Satan worshipers, or worse, atheists and voters agree not to pay attention while they generally mess things up. The attendant at the movie theatre agrees to say Enjoy your movie and we all agree to say You too knowing damn well she isnt seeing a movie. The world gets along after a fashion in this manner.
Since 9/11 many in America have argued that terrorism justifies drastic changes in opinion and policy. A rule change basically. It is a change that fundamentally alters the experience of being an American. It is no longer acceptable, they argue, to criticize the government and its policies. Not now, when the threat is so great. Its like my sushi rule they say. If I were starving wouldnt I eat raw fish? If my very survival were at stake wouldnt I happily eat Charlie the Tuna wet, raw and wiggling? Yes, unabashedly yes.
Well there you go they say. America is fighting for its survival and that changes the rules. Protesting the President or his policies, while fine during peace time, simply cant be tolerated now. Observing rights of due process, the right to a speedy a trial, the right to be informed of the charges against you and the notion of being innocent until proven guilty simply cant be indulged right now. Protesting and criticizing the government, they claim, will cause harm to the country and comforts our enemies. When things have settled down and the threat of terrorism is eliminated we can go back to being Americans again.
So those who use the phrase the rules have changed since September 11th are trying to sell people on the idea that we cant continue to function as a nation in the manner we did prior to that tragic date. In short they are selling people on the idea of changing the game-by changing the rules. Go directly past due diligence and right to police state. This is a fundamental change. It changes the definition of being an American. Terrorism can claim its first victory. If those who hold the principles of the Constitution above fear and reactionary rhetoric fail to defend what remains our most important American document terrorism can claim final victory.
That defense starts with refusing to buy what the current administration is selling. Thomas Jefferson once said, Those who would trade safety for freedom deserve neither. The implication being that those who trade their freedom in order to be safe also trade away the only defense they have against those that provide that safety. It is a fact that black slaves in the south were almost never murdered. They were far safer than free whites in that regard. All they had to trade for that safety was their dignity and freedom. It is a paradox our founding fathers were keenly aware of. Trusting in the magnanimity of a government which wields absolute power was something they were not willing to do.
Patrick Henry summed up the feelings of his peers when he said, Give me liberty or give me death. Patrick Henry knew that liberty came with certain risks, but facing those risks was far superior to living safely in chains. So while I would indeed eat sushi to survive I will not trade my freedom for safety from terrorism. Furthermore, I consider any politician that barters my freedom for the illusion of safety to be a traitor of the first order and a terrorist of the worst kind. That is one rule I will never falter on.