(Editor’s Note: In the past couple of years the increase in hate crimes, division and demonization of just about everything, as stoked by the media, has resulted in the present moribund state of intelligent, informed discourse, understanding between people, and simple polite conversation. From this morass has risen one whose presence has been recognized everywhere. We refer of course to the Asterisk. STAND Blog caught up with the Asterisk the other day long enough for this sitdown interview.)
STAND: Thanks so much for making the time for us, Mr. Asterisk.
ASTERISK: Oh, think nothing of it. And please, just call me “*”—that’s what my friends call me.
STAND: All right, er, “*” —well let’s get right down to it. How have things been for you lately?
ASTERISK: Oh! [laughing] It’s been a whirlwind! I’ve NEVER been this busy—not even during that whole Barry Bonds thing with “did he really beat Maris’ record or was it the steroids?” I seem to be everywhere, especially in stuff that’s written and quoted: “Get that ***** off the field”; “You feckless ****”; “Grab her by the *****”; “****hole countries,” and on and on. You know, I actually got a movie offer!!
STAND: Really?! Can you tell us anything about it?
ASTERISK: Well [coyly], all I can say is the title. It’s called “*****.”
STAND: Catchy. So things are looking up for you these days?
ASTERISK: That’s putting it mildly. Just look around. Everyone is surly. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else. Everyone is calling everyone else nasty names and not even taking the time to think. Bigotry, racism, suspicion of foreigners and minority religions are on the rise. I’ve never felt more blessed.
When we eliminate ALL language, ALL intelligent discourse, ALL facts, ALL mitigating circumstances and explanations, we’ll have nothing left but free and open recreational hatred.
STAND: So what do you see as your role in all this?
ASTERISK [after a moment’s reflection]: I see myself as a portal into imagination. You see, right now I’m used in the more obvious offensive verbiage, such as **** and ****. You already know what those words are, so there’s nothing new there. Ho hum. BOR-ring! But suppose we EXPAND our horizons, and get into *********, for example, or even whole sentences, such as “All those ********s are just a bunch of *********ing *********s”? There’s some room for creativity there AND we are being democratic in our hatred because the person quoted can insert ANY group, religion or race they’re irked about, and SO CAN YOU!!!
STAND: You mean—?
ASTERISK: YES! You get more bang for your asterisk! Ultimately, I’d like to simply take over the whole alphabet. Those 26 letters have been getting too uppity for their own good, if you ask me. I say **** ’em all. But that’s just my opinion.
STAND: Wait a minute. If you replaced the whole alphabet, there wouldn’t be anything left to say. Nothing civil, anyway.
ASTERISK: Good for you! You got it! You see [seriously] it all starts with education. Rodgers and Hammerstein said it best:
“You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.”
I absolutely believe in that. And when we eliminate ALL language, ALL intelligent discourse, ALL facts, ALL mitigating circumstances and explanations, we’ll have nothing left but free and open recreational hatred. Open season on everyone! Be mad as hell at whomever you want to be mad at, because once all you’ve got is “************,” the sky is literally the limit! Can you tell I’m excited?
STAND: Well, we here at STAND believe that people are intelligent enough to come to their own conclusions based on love and survival, that the current toxic atmosphere is just a blip on the upward march of history, and that you will, in the course of time, once more assume your proper place as a symbol used merely to mark printed or written text as a reference to an annotation.
ASTERISK: “Annotation!” [snort] You *******s are all the same! Why don’t you just all go ******!