Sunday, January 3, 2010

We interrupt this blog . . .

. . . for a little terrorist humor.

One of the duties of a general is to give speeches. At the 1993 reunion of the 90th Infantry Division, my finger must have accidentally struck the "record" button of my tape recorder during the after dinner speeches at the Saturday night banquet. Yesterday I played the tape and discovered a speech by a general.

It's always a good idea to begin a speech with a joke or two, I think that's part of the Toastmasters' credo. So this particular general, whom I shall not name, told a somewhat self-deprecating joke at the beginning of his speech.

A little background is in order. It was still eight years and a few days before 9/11 and six months after the first bombing of the World Trade Center, in which six people were killed and 1,024 injured. But the tower didn't collapse after a large bomb was set off in its underground garage, the incident was downplayed and the true extent of damage, along with the bomb's near success, only became evident in retrospect after the twin towers were brought down. And while that was an act of terror, other incidents that would be considered terrorist today, such as the seizure of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, were mostly referred to as hijackings.

So this general begins his speech with, how shall I say it, a terrorist joke. I'm sure given the hindsight afforded by later events he would have substituted another bit of humor, like "How many generals does it take to change a lightbulb?" (Generals don't change lightbulbs. That's what colonels are for ... I made that up). So this is, roughly, how the terrorist joke went:

A private, a sergeant and a general are captured by terrorists, who hold a quick trial and rule that the trio must be executed. The terrorists tell the three they can have one last request.

The private goes first. "I'd like a Big Mac and a strawberry shake," he says. So the terrorists send one of their group to McDonald's to grant him his request. In the meantime, they ask the general for his last request.

"I'd like to give one more speech," he says.

While they're waiting for the general to begin his speech, the terrorists ask the sergeant what he would like for his last request.

The sergeant says, "I'd like you to shoot me now, before I have to listen to the general's speech."

I suppose the general could still use that joke today, only he'd have to change the word "terrorists" to the phrase "enemy combatants."

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