There's an old riddle that I recall from my childhood that went something like this:
There's a town where each and every man's beard is shaved by the barber. The barber in this town is clean-shaven. Who shaves the barber?
The answer was: "she doesn't shave".
But what if I insisted that the barber was, in fact, a man? Then what we have is a paradox
; two truths that cannot logically be reconciled.
And the world of logic and mathematics, that paradox would be regarded as a proof that no such town exists.
Why am I kicking off my rebuttal to EvilBat's opening statement with this old brain-teaser? Because EvilBat has essentially made my point for me by
introducing a paradoxical euphemism: "a conspriacy of neglect"
. Can there be such a thing as a "conspiracy of neglect"?
Let have a look at how the American Heritage Dictionary
defines the word conspiracy
1. An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.
2. A group of conspirators.
An agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.
4. A joining or acting together, as if by sinister design: a conspiracy of wind and tide that devastated coastal areas.
Other than the metaphorical usage that is #4, it is clear that a conspiracy, by definition, is a deliberate action to commit a crime.
Now let's look at the American Heritage Dictionary
's entry regarding neglect
1. To pay little or no attention to; fail to heed; disregard: neglected their warnings.
2. To fail to care for or attend to properly: neglects her appearance
3. To fail to do or carry out, as through carelessness or oversight: neglected to return the call
1. The act or an instance of neglecting something.
2. The state of being neglected.
3. Habitual lack of care.
While a defining characteristic of a conspiracy is deliberate action, the defining characteristic of neglect is in
action through carelessness
The phrase "a conspiracy of neglect"
, therefore is a contradiction in terms -- an oxymoron -- and just as much of a paradox as is a
clean-shaven man who never shaves.
So, what of a real goverment conspiracy
to destroy New Orleans' 9th Ward, or to sit back and allow it to happen? Well, as my esteemed
opponent seems to have conceded, there was none. But there sure was a heap of neglect in the decades leading up to Hurricane Katrina's landfall, and
incompetence in the days before and after Katrina.
Mayor Ray Nagin certainly demonstrated some carelessness when failing to dispatch a rather large fleet of shool buses to evacuate the populace in the
hours leading up to the disaster. Governor Kathleen Blanco certainly demonstrated some oversight and incompetence when she admitted that she didn't
know that she need to actually request
assistance before federal agencies could be allowed to enter the sovereign State of Louisiana.
If there was one conspiracy that could honestly be said to have taken place in the aftermath of Katrina, it was the Conspiracy of Elected Officials to
Blame Everyone and Anyone but Themselves (the CEO BEAT).
But, attempting to blame someone else for your own incompetence may not be a crime, unless it's done under oath. Then again, in the metaphorical
Court of Public Opinion, a "crime"
is whatever we say it is, even though the only sentence we can impose may be the proverbial "public
When I first read EvilBat's opening salvo, I wasn't sure how I could respond to it. I think it came out all right, but it was a close shave.
, I know, I know...