Note til skribenter: Brug aldrig et ord, du ikke forstår

Det kan gå grueligt galt. Så blot, hvordan det gik my man Robert Browning:

In 1841, Browning published the long dramatic poem Pippa Passes, now best known for the lines “God’s in His heaven/ All’s right with the world.” Toward the end of it, he sets up a kind of Gothic scene, and writes:

Then, owls and bats,
Cowls and twats,
Monks and nuns, in a cloister’s moods,
Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!

The second of these lines created no stir at all, presumably because the middle class had truly forgotten the word “twat” (just as it had forgotten “quaint,” so that Marvell’s pun on the two meanings in “To His Coy Mistress” has fallen flat for six or eight generations now). A few scholars must have recognized the word, but any who did behaved like loyal subjects when the emperor wore his new clothes, and discreetly said nothing. No editor of Browning has ever expurgated the line, even when Rossetti was diligently cutting mere “womb” out of Whitman. The first response only came forty years later when the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary, collecting examples of usage, like Johnson before them, and interested to find a contemporary use of “twat,” wrote to Browning to ask in what sense he was using it. Browning is said to have written back that he used it to mean a piece of headgear for nuns, comparable to the cowls for monks he put in the same line. The editors are then supposed to have asked if he recalled where he had learned the word. Browning replied that he knew exactly. He had read widely in seventeenth-century literature in his youth, and in a broadside poem called “Vanity of Vanities”, published in 1659, he had found these lines, referring to an ambitious cleric:

They talk’t of his having a Cardinall’s Hat;
They’d send him as soon an Old Nun’s Twat.

“Twat” blev altså i Brownings kilde ikke brugt om noget, en nonne kan tage på hovedet … sprogbloggen citerer Oxford English Dictionary, der som sin mest konkrete betydning har pudendum muliebre. Av.

Civile i Libyen: Nej tak til vestlige bomber

Som Politiken skriver:

Et halvt døgn efter at de første krigsfly fløj ind over Libyen, er mange lokale allerede godt trætte af angrebet.

Det fortæller øjenvidner til en række internationale nyhedsmedier, efter at Frankrig, USA og Storbritannien natten igennem har kastet bomber og granater ned mod mål i det nordafrikanske land.

En af de utilfredse Tripoli-borgere er ’Sami’, der til The Guardians udsendte giver luft til de stærke anti-amerikanske følelser, der hersker i Libyen og resten af regionen.»Folk er trænet til denne slags konfrontation. Vi blev også bombet af USA i 1986. Disse folk har en agenda: De vil ruinere Libyen og trække landet ned«, siger ’Sami’.

I Twitter-universet – hvor der også er masser af USA-kritiske røster fra libyere – vælger ’OnlyOneLibya’ en modsat tilgang. Som han skriver:

»Jeg vil blot minde det libyske folk om, at luftangreb ikke fjerner Gaddafi. Vi er selv nødt til at gøre det. Libyen må rejse sig!«

I The Independent udstiller Robert Fisk de vestlige regeringers moralske fallit ved at spørge sig selv, om man mon ville være lige så hurtig til at blande sig i et lignende opgør i Mauritanien eller Elfenbenskysten – og påpeger, at de oprørere i Benghazi, der i dag vifter med franske flag,  meget hurtigt kan rette gå hen og rette geværerne mod de vestlige styrker:

Why not, when Gaddafi tells the people of Benghazi that “we will come, ‘zenga, zenga’ (alley by alley), house by house, room by room.” Surely this is a humanitarian intervention that really, really, really is a good idea. After all, there will be no “boots on the ground”.Of course, if this revolution was being violently suppressed in, say, Mauritania, I don’t think we would be demanding no-fly zones. Nor in Ivory Coast, come to think of it. Nor anywhere else in Africa that didn’t have oil, gas or mineral deposits or wasn’t of importance in our protection of Israel, the latter being the real reason we care so much about Egypt.

So here are a few things that could go wrong, a sidelong glance at those bats still nestling in the glistening, dank interior of their box. Suppose Gaddafi clings on in Tripoli and the British and French and Americans shoot down all his aircraft, blow up all his airfields, assault his armour and missile batteries and he simply doesn’t fade away. I noticed on Thursday how, just before the UN vote, the Pentagon started briefing journalists on the dangers of the whole affair; that it could take “days” just to set up a no-fly zone.

Then there is the trickery and knavery of Gaddafi himself. We saw it yesterday when his Foreign Minister announced a ceasefire and an end to “military operations” knowing full well, of course, that a Nato force committed to regime-change would not accept it, thus allowing Gaddafi to present himself as a peace-loving Arab leader who is the victim of Western aggression: Omar Mukhtar Lives Again.

Libya is not Egypt. Again, Gaddafi is a fruitcake and, given his weird performance with his Green Book on the balcony of his bombed-out house, he probably does occasionally chew carpets as well.Then there’s the danger of things “going wrong” on our side, the bombs that hit civilians, the Nato aircraft which might be shot down or crash in Gaddafi territory, the sudden suspicion among the “rebels”/”Libyan people”/democracy protesters that the West, after all, has ulterior purposes in its aid. And there’s one boring, universal rule about all this: the second you employ your weapons against another government, however righteously, the thing begins to unspool. After all, the same “rebels” who were expressing their fury at French indifference on Thursday morning were waving French flags in Benghazi on Thursday night. Long live America. Until…

Jeg forstår godt dem, der mener, der kan være bedre at gøre noget, og at selv om en aktion ikke er perfekt, kan den godt være bedre end ingenting. Jeg kan bare ikke se noget som helst tegn på, at den igangværende vestlige aktion mod Libyen ikke er værre end ingenting. Jeg håber meget, jeg tager fejl, men de fleste vil give mig ret i, at Vesten ikke har nogen god track record i området. Bortset fra, da vores flyveforbud og heroiske indsats i øvrigt reddede indbyggerne i Srebrenica fra massakren. Eller hvad det nu var, de gjorde.