B: You realize what you've done, don't you?
A: Drawn a link between the spreading of malicious falsehoods and the practice commonly referred to as "lying"?
B: Well, yes, that. That's not allowed.
B: Right. You can say, "Sarah Palin's statement is false," because, you know, it is. And you can say, "Sarah Palin's statement is malicious," because, again, it's generally regarded as a mean thing to say about other people that they want to set up a death panel and kill your handicapped child.
A: I suppose it could be worse. You know, she could have accused health reform advocates of setting up a "buggery panel" in which bureaucrats would take turns …
B: Yes, well, let's not go there, OK? The point is you're not supposed to mention that her false and malicious statement was also a lie.
A: What, then, am I supposed to do?
B: You're supposed to clutch your pearls, put the back of your hand against your forehead and pretend to be massively, personally offended by her "death panel" comment. Swoon and complain of the vapors and keep it up until Palin responds with her lines.
A: Her lines?
B: Until she says she's sorry that anyone took offense over what she said and that she hadn't intended to hurt the feelings of the bureaucrats lining up to kill her parents and her handicapped son.
A: And what, exactly, would that accomplish?
B: This is America. That's just, you know, how we do it.
A: But that doesn't help. It doesn't fix anything. It leaves her malicious falsehood uncorrected and allows her to skip off tra-la-la with no consequences, without having to account in any way for what she just tried to pull. That just encourages her to try again with something even more ridiculous and outra —
B: But you're not allowed to fix anything. You have a role to play here and if you don't play it properly. Well …
A: Oh, crap.
B: Yes. Since you failed to clutch and swoon and feign the vapors while taking extravagantly over-the-top offense, that just means somebody else is going to have to do it. They're going to have to pretend that your accusing Palin of lying is even worse — far, far worse and more outrageous — than her accusing health care advocates of wanting to set up a buggery panel for her parents and children. They're going to have to pretend that you've accused everyone who disagrees with you of being irredeemably evil.
A: That's what she said.
B: I don't get it.
A: No, I wasn't making a "That's what she said" joke, I was just pointing out that that is, in fact, what Gov. Palin said about those who disagree with her. She didn't use the words "irredeemably evil," but the whole "death panel" for handicapped kids thing attributes lethal, Satanic malevolence to everyone who wants an alternative to the current American health care system. So how does her saying that lead anyone to accuse to me accusing others of …?
B: You know the game. Just play the damned game.
A: But the game is pointless and boring. Aren't they bored by now with this same shtick? I mean …
B: It's the ritual. This is what we do in America. You're going to have to play along. Stop accusing liars of lying and just say they offend you, like you're supposed to do. This is American politics, it's not about true or false or right or wrong, it's about your feelings. You're just going to have to learn to play by the rules. Those pearls won't clutch themselves. Now come on, you've been accused, so now it's your turn to apologize.
A: Fine. I'm sorry if anyone was offended when I said that the governor was lying when she accused us all of being homicidal Nazi bureaucrats. I'm sure it was an honest and innocent mistake on her part. That seems the likeliest explanation for what was certainly an incidental and inadvertent misstatement on her part.
B: There. Was that so hard?