5 thoughts on “Escalatingly uncomfortable

  1. I disagree … Developing nukes may be rational, but there’s any number of other things North Koreans do that fail to serve their interests in any apparent way, done simply because of “aggressive, fizzing nonconformity”. What was achieved, and what could have possibly been achieved, by the most recent round of escalation? Was it really in North Korean interest to close Kaesong? Was it in North Korean interest to put yourself in position where a DMZ accident could have provoked a full-out war that would have resulted in turning both Pyongyang and Seoul into rubble in 72 hours?

    Also, the reference to Tourette’s did not imply twitching. It implied involuntary swearing/cussing. (Apparently this happens much less often in real Tourette’s patients than in fictional TV/literary characters.)

    • Nameless:

      1. It was Parry who argued that NK’s nuke actions were rational. I was taking his word for it; I don’t know anything about that country.

      2. Coprolalia, like twitching, is noticeable, can’t be stopped, and does no harm to anyone else involved. So I still think it’s a poor analogy for nuclear weapons escalation. Presumably the North Koreans were doing what they were doing for a reason, not because it became escalatingly uncomfortable to keep from doing so.

      Also, you can have Tourette’s without being a patient.

  2. I like the end especially. My aversion for illness analogies has grown a lot over the years, and I recently found myself fighting against the inclusion of the word “schizophrenia” in a press release. I don’t like it when we take any syndrome or illness to qualify a position that is rationally controlled. It creates unnecessary stigma, as if schoolyard jokes and cruelties were not already harmful enough to those with handicaps and illnesses.

  3. Hey Andrew — I saw this when the new issue of the LRB popped up in my feed reader. Good for you for objecting. The writer probably didn’t mean much by the analogy, but then that’s the problem, isn’t it?

    • Hi, Vance! Yes, it just seemed odd for the author of the article to make a big deal about the rationality of the NK govt’s behavior, and then to analogize it to something that’s not rational or instrumental at all.

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