Tony Woodlief | Author

Set them on fire

The game works like this: Set your sights on someone whose politics you hate. This is the easy part. Everything is politics now, and everything that is not your thing deserves to be hated. It’s what sets you above the others, how stupid and wrong and hateable they are.

Got a target? Good. Now the tedious part: Comb through everything he’s ever posted on social media. (The term social media may seem Orwellian, given that we use it to drive wedges between people, but that’s necessary, isn’t it, because how can we have a good society until we drive out everyone who’s wrong?)

Has your target ever used Impermissible Words? Ever liked a post by a known or suspected black or white supremacist? Any pictures of him that you can craft an ugly narrative around?

And don’t forget the public record. The longer your enemy has been allowed to live unexposed, the longer the trail behind him. Did he ever write anything for his school paper? Give a quote to a sports reporter after the big game? Deliver a eulogy? Speak at a town council meeting?

What about his past classmates, girlfriends, colleagues, business partners? Surely somebody has something to say. Something you can use.

The point is, you have to get creative, because Evil People don’t advertise their true selves. They keep them hidden. You have to dig, dig, dig, until you find the wayward thread. Then tug with all your might. If your timing is right, lots of us will come alongside, and we’ll all pull together. We’ll pull and pull until we’ve stripped away his disguise. Until everyone sees him for what he truly is.

And what is he, truly? Why, he’s whatever we say he is. That’s the beauty of a mob. When we all shout together, we don’t have to listen to lies like “This is out of context,” or “I was stupid and I’m sorry,” or “I’m not who I used to be.”

Because nobody changes, does he? The Bad People have always been bad. They learned it from their wicked parents, maybe, or from the Internet, or from Society. And we virtuous ones, well, we’ve always been on the side of the angels.

Sure, we may stumble. We’re only human, after all—not like the Bad People. We’ve said stupid things. Hurt people. Screwed around. Laughed at jokes with Forbidden Words, spoken highly of authors with Problematic Ideas, had too much to drink and whispered something in the wrong ear.

But that’s not who we really are. We are right-thinking people with the best of intentions. Bad deeds are only proof of irredeemable evil when the wrong people do them.

And who are the wrong people? All of them, darling. Every mother’s son who votes against our candidates, whose religion offends us, who says things that hurt our feelings, who questions our pristine worldview. They are the reason this world is full of pain. They are the ones who must be stopped.

So get a match. Light a thread. Because the Puritans were right—there’s good people and bad people, and never the twain shall they meet. And the bad ones? They were made to burn.

Troy on fire, painting By Daniel van Heil
On Key

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