Road Rage With Missiles


Me, six years ago:



When we react with anger to some­one else, we’re gen­er­ally try­ing to teach them a les­son. A judge once told me that anger is usu­ally the result of either a loss of con­trol or a per­ceived loss of dig­nity; I think that he got it right. When we try to teach another per­son a les­son, we’re try­ing to show them that they can’t take away our con­trol or dig­nity and get away with it.

President Obama, nine days ago:

This attack is an assault on human dignity.

Me, five years ago:

“I’ll show him!” That’s the ret­ribu­tive impulse in a nut­shell, isn’t it? The desire, when some­one angers us by mak­ing us feel a loss of con­trol or a per­ceived loss of dig­nity, to regain con­trol and dig­nity by “teach­ing him a les­son”?…

It dri­ves pros­e­cu­tors to put peo­ple in prison (hold them account­able! teach them a les­son!), it causes domes­tic assaults, and it results in road-rage incidents.

The President, nine days ago:

…I’m confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons….

Me, from the 2007 post:

What is road rage but an effort to teach the other guy a les­son? Dri­ver A makes a mis­take, and dri­ver B feels a loss of con­trol. So Dri­ver B then flips dri­ver A off, and dri­ver A feels a loss of dig­nity. So Dri­ver A brake-checks dri­ver B, and Dri­ver B feels a loss of both con­trol and dig­nity. So Dri­ver B runs Dri­ver A off the road, and Dri­ver A feels a loss of con­trol and dig­nity as well. Soon some­one is get­ting shot on the median and some­one is get­ting charged with mur­der. These things tend to turn bru­tally expen­sive for every­one involved really quickly.

And that’s what the President wants to get us into in Syria. Except of course the consequences will be much more brutally expensive than any run-of-the-mill road rage.

All because his dignity got a little bruised.

Congress would do well to heed a little street wisdom:

Even if the odds are more even, though, being the aggres­sor in a road-rage inci­dent is a bad idea. Unless you plan to stay in your car and shoot the guy who has deprived you of your pre­cious dig­nity (a good way to get indicted), you’re either going to (A) dam­age your car while dam­ag­ing his (explain that to your insur­ance com­pany. and your wife); or (B) get out of your car and risk get­ting your stu­pid self run over (if you get out of your car, in my view the other dri­ver should rea­son­ably assume that you are car­ry­ing a gun and intend­ing to use it on him). There is lit­tle upside to a road-rage inci­dent. It’s much cheaper to swal­low your pride and go home.

2 responses to “Road Rage With Missiles”

  1. I wouldn’t have the job of being President of the United States. It says something about us if we just go ho-hum and let thousands of civilians die because of a moron dictator. OTOH, it’s not our fight. So, it is no easy call and I wouldn’t be in his shoes for all the tea in China. We claim to be a moral people and are expected to behave as such. How long do you watch a neighbor slap his wife around before you call the cops? Toot-sweet I would imagine. So, I’d go easy on the POTUS, unless you would have his job. There is no winners on the Syria issue. So, where can one safely land? No where. I really doubt Obama wants to carry this ball, yet it got passed to him. I think he did the most intelligent thing ever, lateral pass it to the Russians, since they think Assad is OK.

    • Bullshit.

      He moved heaven and earth to get the job. He doesn’t get a pass for fucking it up.

      We don’t get to pretend to be the good guys anymore. We lost that moral authority when we tortured people, when we rendered them to other countries that would torture them, when we locked people up forever without trial, when we executed people extrajudicially, when we spied on our own citizens’ every communication.

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