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It’s not Terrorism, it’s activism…or something

Given the current assault (literally, in some instances, as we saw in Paris) on free speech, the fear of Islamic terrorism and the desire to be politically correct at all times (so that one can get invited to all of the right parties), one can imagine this scene occurring regularly, in various forms, in media newsrooms around the world.

Daily editorial meeting that includes the managing editor and several others:

Phil Heffenburger, Managing Editor: Folks, it looks like a busy news day. There are several big stories today. Maclin, what do you have?

Maclin: More, ahem, activism in Europe, this time in Germany. It seems a few activists who call themselves members of al Qaeda blew up a brewery and bar in Dresden. They have claimed responsibility.

Heffenburger: How many dead and injured?

Maclin: Actually, none. They did it at 4:00 in the morning. It was closed. We guess their watches were still on Yemeni time.

Heffenburger: What time is it in Yemen?

Maclin: I don’t really know, sir. The building was leveled, though. There were hops all over the place. And suds, lots of suds.   It turns out the name of the place was Moe is Hammered. The bombers’ translation of the German language apparently wasn’t very good; they thought the bar was slandering the Prophet of Islam.

Heffenburger: And we know that the future does not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam. Besides, that’s a dumb name for a bar. They probably had it coming. How do we spin, er, report this? Can we blame it on the Nazis? What is the White House saying?

Maclin: Probably not the Nazis. Officially, the White House isn’t saying much, except the standard line that Islam is a religion of peace. Josh Earnest also stressed that the President has a personal fondness for beer. When asked for a comment, Biden said something about how he and Barbara Boxer were soulmates. I’m not sure he understood the question. Merkel said the same thing.

Heffenburger: About Boxer being a soulmate?

Maclin: No, about Islam being a religion of peace, blah, blah, blah. We’ll take the usual stance that this had nothing to do with Islam. Phillips, do you have the list of standard White House approved reasons to use instead of blaming Islamic terrorism?

Phillips: Yes.

Maclin: What have we used recently?

Phillips: Let’s see…we last used acid reflux. Before that it was the infield fly rule, paisley ties and partially hydrogenated oil. For the shoe bomber, we blamed it on a bunion. We could blame the Koch Brothers.

Heffenburger: Let’s wait until Harry Reid is feeling better to use that one. Don’t want to steal his thunder. What about the Tea Party? Some of those folks don’t even drink. They’ve surely got an axe to grind against beer, right? Or, maybe, the new Republican majority in the Senate?

Woodsworth: Um, shouldn’t we just report the truth? You know, that a bunch of Islamic terrorists blew up a brewery in Germany.

Heffenburger: Maclin, who’s this guy?

Maclin: Actually, sir, it’s a woman. June Woodsworth. You just hired her.

Heffenburger: Oh. Well, why is she asking such dumb questions? Does she want to get us all killed?

Maclin: Drop it, Woodsworth. Just drop it. Now, we still need a reason and somebody or something to blame besides, you know, Islamic terrorists, I mean activists. Maybe we could blame it on Windows 10?

Heffenburger: Can’t do it, Gates sits on our Board of Directors.

Woodsworth: Why don’t we blame it on the new college football playoff system?

Maclin: It doesn’t really make any sense, but I think we could sell it. If we can push it on social media, it could be a winner.

Woodsworth: (Muttering under her breath) Oh, my God. I was kidding. This is nuts.

Maclin: What was that, Woodsworth?

Woodsworth: Nuts. I’m just looking for some peanuts. No, wait a minute! This is nuts! I’m a journalist, not a fiction writer.

Heffenburger: Dammit! There’s a fine line between journalism and fiction.

Woodsworth: There appears to be no line!

Heffenburger: Maclin, will you shut her up?

Maclin: Woodsworth, shut up!

Heffenburger: Do we have pictures?

Maclin: Yes. We’ve got before and after photos.

Heffenburger: (Looking at the photos) We can’t use these. The before picture shows the name of the bar. It’s still a stupid name, but it’ll make us a target of Islamic terrorists, at least those who can’t translate German correctly.

Maclin: We don’t use the word terrorist in relation to Islam, we say it’s activism, sir. It’s terrorism when we talk about a Tea party gathering or when anybody criticizes the current administration.

Heffenburger: I thought we called that racism?

Maclin: Well, we call it racism and terrorism, not to mention extremism, Islamophobia, micro-aggression, ignorantism, sexism, classism, zootheism.

Heffenburger: Zootheism?

Maclin: For social media purposes we throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. For some reason, zootheism seems to catch on. We don’t even know what it means, but who cares?

Woodsworth: (Still muttering under her breath.) This is so nuts.

Heffenburger: Good. What’s next?

Maclin: A bunch of students at Oscaloosa State want their college administration to disinvite another conservative from speaking on campus.

Heffenburger: Which conservative?

Maclin: I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter. But, as members of the press and guardians of free speech, we should naturally take the side of…the students. We’ll get quotes from some students and a few faculty members who support the students. We’ll accuse the conservative of being a racist, terrorist, extremist, Islamophobe, micro-aggressor, ignorantist, sexist, classist and zootheist. We could throw in ageist, just for fun too.

Heffenburger: Will we get a quote from the conservative?

Maclin: You’re funny today, boss.

Woodsworth: (No longer muttering under her breath.) This is nuts!

Curtice Mang is the author of the two books, including the new book, The Smell of Politics: The Good, The Bad, and the Odorous. He  is also co-host of the radio program Graceland with Jennifer Meadows.  He can be contacted at, where one can also purchase his books; or contact Curtice at mangwrites at


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