NEW YORK, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- If I ever get a political talk show, it will have the following rule:
You're not allowed to make any statements that would be supported by 100 percent of the population.
Such as: 1. "I think the children of this country are our future."
Why do people say this? What are you supposed to answer to this? "No, you're wrong! Dogs and cats are our future!" Or "I respectfully disagree. I think the children alive today have more influence on our PAST than on our future."
Or how about this one?
2. "I just want justice."
Well, so did Plato. This is not exactly a "Crossfire" hot topic. "On the Left, the case for justice! And on the Right, the case for injustice and random application of the law, lottery-style. Senator X, let's start with you. Why do you think it's better to set criminals free, especially when they're guilty?"
3. "Especially post-9/11."
This is not a statement, of course, it's just a phrase used to justify anything you want to say so that the audience will nod approvingly and say, "Yes, I see what he means. Post-9/11. Normally I would think he's an idiot, BUT, you know, post-9/11."
Listen to me. There is no post-9/11. Everything from now until the end of time is post-9/11. Many things have nothing to do with 9/11 at all. The price of cat food did NOT go up because of 9/11. You don't need more attic insulation because of nine-eleven. Nine-eleven did not change the words of the Constitution. We didn't start numbering the years all over again beginning at 9/11. Anyone who says "especially post-9/11" should be ejected from the set with a jack-in-the-box spring mechanism under his or her chair.
4. "At the end of the day ..."
OK, another phrase. As in, "At the end of the day, it will be decided by money." Every time I hear this phrase, I want to scream, "We're not AT the end of the day yet! The reason we're sitting here talking about it is that we're in the MIDDLE of the day." People use "at the end of the day" to say, "I don't really wanna talk about all the arguments pro and con, because I know where this is gonna end up." "At the end of the day" is a way of saying "at the end of MY day," which might be a bad day indeed for someone else. "At the end of the day" is so evasive and anti-intellectual that I'm surprised talk-show hosts don't physically attack people who try to get away with it.
5. "These are the people who built this country."
Well, yes, OK, I guess the people who are descended from laborers who contributed to the development of the country would pretty much be ... EVERY PERSON IN THE COUNTRY! The slaves built this country, and the plantation owners, and the Pilgrims, and the robber barons, and the founders of Marvel Comics -- ALL these people "built this country."
Usually this is code for, "Give 'em some money." After all, they BUILT THIS COUNTRY.
6. "My heart goes out to the victims."
Of course, this is only spoken aloud when you're talking about universally POPULAR victims. If you're saying this, then you're talking about dead people that we all wish weren't dead. We knew you were on their side before you said it. We never for a moment expected you to say "My heart goes out to the killer." So you can just put that insecurity away and KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.
7. "I couldn't have done it without my family."
First of all, how do you know that? What if your family had been killed in an automobile crash one week before you did it? You might have STILL DONE IT. Secondly, even if it's true, it only has meaning to you and people off-camera who have absolutely no emotional or physical connection to the viewers of the show. Variations on this: "I couldn't have done it without God." "I couldn't have done it without my manager Hakim Ali." "I couldn't have done it without L. Ron Hubbard."
You know what? We're only interviewing you right now because you DID SOMETHING. So it would help if you would DESCRIBE how you did it instead of portraying yourself as Pinocchio the talking puppet.
8. "It may not be a perfect system, but it's better than any other country in the world."
How do you know that? Have you studied every system of every country in the world? And even if it's true, the only reason you would say it is to avoid FIXING something that's WRONG WITH THE SYSTEM. It's the refuge of lazy people. It's like saying, "Well, sure we execute a few innocent people, but at least we don't eat babies." It's what people say who don't have the time or energy to actually think about something. And, of course, it always gets applause.
9. "I think there are things to be said for both sides."
Well, yes, of course there are things to be said for both sides, otherwise we wouldn't be DEBATING IT. This is the ultimate vain milquetoast invisible-man's pronouncement, because it allows the speaker to feel righteous and above it all while simultaneously refusing to debate. It's a way of belittling all the people who would stoop so low as to actually argue. It's also a favorite of the intellectually lazy who genuinely believe that all opinions have a portion of the truth and no solutions are inherently better than others. These people should be crushed underfoot like gooey insects.
10. "Well, no one can predict the future."
Oh really? OK, we won't book The Amazing Kreskin. The variation on this is, "Well, only time will tell." Both phrases are the favorites of television idiots with a spiritual and mystical bent. We are just clueless sojourners here on this wayward talk show. At some point some higher power, or simply time itself, will make us see clearly, but right now we're wasting our time. I mean, I WOULD tell you what will happen, but that would be interfering with the divine plan.
You know what I'd say to these people? "Can't predict the future, huh? I predict that five seconds from now, my right fist will make contact with your septum."
This is why I'll never have a political talk show.
(Joe Bob Briggs writes a number of columns for UPI and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his Web site at joebobbriggs.com. Snail mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221.)