But What About
Did I rob the bank? Sure. But what about the bank? Banks commit white-collar crimes all the time—in this case, the crime of having money that I wanted. So that’s on them. It’s called entrapment, and there is a movie with that title where Catherine Zeta-Jones walks through lasers. Incidentally, she does that to commit a totally different robbery, but no one seems interested in talking about that. Hell, they even gave her an Oscar for starring in the so-called “hit” musical “Chicago”!
Makes you think.
Yes, I sold state secrets to a Ukrainian man who introduced himself as Terrorist Hans. But what about the fake state secrets I also sold him to squeeze more cash out of the deal? It’ll take him a little while to figure out which secrets are real, which will delay whatever he has planned. Speaking of—what about all the stuff Terrorist Hans hasn’t planned? We have no way of knowing what that is. Or isn’t. Checkmate.
About the vials of blood that I found and then hid: no, I don’t know whose blood it was, why it was sitting outside that medical truck, whether it’s safe to finger-paint with, or what it was going to be used for. Probably science. Which brings me to science: What about the time I injured myself with a Bunsen burner in high-school chemistry? Science burned my thumb! The thumb is the most important finger, and I will not apologize for using it to hold mugs.
You might think that I’m mindlessly deflecting blame by saying, “But what about . . . ” and then bringing up a wholly unrelated topic. It’s called whataboutism. But what about isms? There are all sorts of them. Atheism, for example. Did you know that some people don’t believe in God? This is in spite of all the church songs. Or what about cannibalism? There was once a thing called the Donner Party, and it was not the fun kind of party. Why aren’t we discussing that instead of how I walk into H&M and compulsively cut holes in the clothes with scissors and then leave?
It’s important that we look at both sides. Of the shirts that I’ve ruined.
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O.K., you got me—I just peed on a bus. But what about Willie Horton? That’s right. I’m willing to go all the way back to the eighties to find a highly charged scapegoat. Make him pay for a new seat.
That seat was no angel, by the way.
No, I haven’t paid taxes in nine years. But what about the accountant I didn’t hire? Where was he when I was sitting on my couch Googling “How to get away with not paying taxes”? He really messed up by not popping the vowels off my keyboard with a pocketknife while I was in the bathroom. Lazy bastard. And now I’m the one who “needs to find an attorney” because I’m “due in court on the 16th”?
Another thing: I just ate two pizzas, so what about you calling up and ordering me a third? Or use one of those food apps. I don’t care. But my phone is all the way over there, and I’m having trouble moving. You wouldn’t refuse a fellow-American who’s incapacitated for reasons totally within his control, would you? Now’s the moment when I disproportionately amplify your guilt to gaslight you. Because, ultimately, if you don’t fetch me a piping-hot pie with sausage and peppers, it will be the most egregious assault on liberty that I’ve seen in my lifetime—it’d make Ben Franklin rip off his own head and kick it through the Constitution.
Breadsticks, too, please. They’re yummers!
Some people don’t like whataboutism. They say it degrades public discourse and reinforces tribalistic views that eventually lead to fascism. But what about fashionistas? That word sounds kind of like fascism, but I don’t know what it means, and the unknown terrifies me.
In conclusion, what about knees? They’re like leg elbows. Gross.
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