The Eye of Argon is reputed to be the worst science fiction story ever written.
The Eye of Argon

Yesterday, on one of the network news broadcasts (I was channel surfing so fast I'm not sure which of the big three it was), there was a report on the civilian reaction in Beirut to the attacks which showed a young Lebanese mother in headscarve, who with her children had fled from their home to safe haven, arguing that they--Hezbollah--should return the two soldiers, it wasn't worth all the misery that was being inflicted on everyone. Whereupon a burly older man, hearing her criticism, bulled forward and angrily reprimanded, asking (demanding) to know why she was talking this way to the press, and displaced her in the camera frame to hold forth and spout defiance-militance-whatever.

It was an instructive moment, the male prerogative chestily asserting and inserting itself, and a dramatic reminder that although wars and organized violence have their social-national-ethnic-religious-tribal vectors, they are also brute expressions of patriarchal force...male arrogance and insanity sheathed in metal. The mother was sensibly, rationally decrying the cost of conflict on the lives of her children and other civilians, while the older man (a stranger? a relative?--it wasn't clear) was trying to squelch such talk as ignorant and disloyal. He was the stand-in for every other male blowhard (on every side of the debate) who thinks he knows best and loves to hear himself talk tough. Meanwhile, the children are weeping, or being pulled in bloody pieces out of smoking debris.


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