|Tales of the IWOGS
Updated 29-Jul-2003 16:13:58
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Originally, it even started badly. In some military and police circles, IWOG referred to someone in the field who was ISSUED WITHOUT GUN, essentially rendering them useless, incapable of defending themselves. IWOG very quickly became a term of scorn and pathos, those forced to suffer an IWOG status drawing pity, frustration, and outright anger from their peers.
It wasn't long before an already-mocked name slid downhill even further. A whole host of puns arose to fill the acronym, always used with derision: Atheists became ISSUED WITHOUT GOD, for example. Bad dancers were ISSUED WITHOUT GRACE. Unrepentent criminals were ISSUED WITHOUT GUILT. And so on.*
But now, perhaps appropriately in this iron-tense political climate since the 2000 presidential election, all the scalding ridicule heaped upon this poor defenseless acronym has culminated into the worst insult of all: ISSUED WITHOUT GOOD SENSE.
Undoubtedly you've seen, heard, and maybe even known many of these new and "improved" IWOGs. They aren't just lacking ordinary good sense. Chained to the throes of zealous beliefs they have become attackers of whatever and whomever they don't agree with, while developing a willing blindness and armor against the faults and flaws in their own ideas and heroes. They are the extremeists, the narrow-minded, the hypocrites...and not to mention the loud, those whose best defense against their opponent's argument is to shout that opponent down.
When they even bother to listen to your contrary argument, they will demand of you far more sources and facts to back up what you're saying than they will ever demand of themselves or those in their camp. And should you provide what they demand, they will attack your sources and call you a dupe of propaganda. Worse still, they suddenly become experts on whatever they happen to be talking about and are easily enraged by your mere disagreement with them.
IWOGs are self-serving at best and destructive at worst. They are the politicians who attack the opposite party for irregularities that get a blind eye when committed by their own party. The Hollywood stars who offer "expert" testimony to Congress because they presented the subject they're testifying on in a movie. The socialists who practice corporate or bankruptcy law. The religious leaders who utterly spurn science or rewrite it to fit their own beliefs, and the scientists who ignore or gloss over flaws in their pet theories to salvage some kind of greater conclusion. The generals who send thousands of men to die needlessly in a battle not out of military tactics but stubbornness, pride, or rage.
And they are anyone...anyone...who claims to be a defender of Free Speech, while doing their damnedest to destroy the free speech of anyone who disagrees with them.
Sometimes they'll repent...but don't count on it. Sometimes they'll even feel guilty about what they're doing while they're doing it...but not likely, and it won't stop them from continuing. Their IWOGness becomes a disease, an addiction. But for most it's simply a pleasure, a bad habit, or considered a divine or moral duty.
Listed below is a slowly-building Hall of Shame for famous IWOGs throughout history and up to our own time. Many are cruel and brutal. Others are simply foolish or deluded. All of them, though, are shining examples of zealots who would oppose something to their last breath until such time as it came to serve them, their fellows, and their followers...or give lip-service to fighting it while secretly using it to their own ends. Read and remember.
THE WORST NEW IWOGS:
The second IWOG MEDAL OF DISHONOR must go to the various U.S. STATES who sued tobacco companies for multibillion dollar settlements, claiming that the money would be used for smoking-related health care and helping smokers kick the nicotine habit...and then decided to spend most of the so-far $21 billion payout elsewhere.
According to a report released in August 2001 by the National Conferences of State Legislatures, 5% of the money has been allocated for "smoking cessation," 4.5% to medical research (though not necessarily tobacco related), and 32% has gone to "health care programs of every imaginable type," according to Los Angeles Times reporter Stephanie Simon ("Little of Tobacco Money Goes to Kicking Habit", 8/26/01).
So where is the money really going, then? Writes Simon, "Instead, lawmakers in state after cash-strapped state have tapped the money for needs deemed more pressing: college scholarships in Michigan, new schools in Ohio, flood-control projects in North Dakota. Illinois used part of its money to give a tax rebate last year. Tennessee is spending every penny of its bounty to plug a budget gap."
But then again, maybe by this point more than 41.5% of the people in the United States think the tobacco lawsuits were little more than big money grabs anyway.
The third Medal of Dishonor is awarded for a more hideous reason. It goes to the government of ZIMBABWE, for having the cruel gall to attend the August 2001 United Nations Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. While demanding reparations from the United States and western European nations for the slave trade, Zimbabwe itself not only still carries out slavery both against native Africans and white Christians, but has also been systematically removing white farmers from their land by eviction, burning their buildings, and even murdering the farmers themselves. Yet at the conference they called the United States and Europe racist, and demanded monetary recompense.
To those states showing their true budgetary colors, and to that African nation which seems to assume only the West can be murderously racist, you hereby receive from us the official IWOG Medal of Dishonor. Congratulations.
ACADEMICS - 600 Weeks Ago
ACTIVISTS - 587 Weeks Ago
CORPORATIONS - 583 Weeks Ago
ENTERTAINERS - 524 Weeks Ago
JOURNALISTS AND NEWSPAPERS - 512 Weeks Ago
MILITARY - 621 Weeks Ago
ORGANIZATIONS - 587 Weeks Ago
POLITICIANS - 524 Weeks Ago
RELIGIOUS FIGURES - 587 Weeks Ago
NOT-QUITE-AS-FAMOUS IWOGS - 588 Weeks Ago
HEADS UP to David Burwasser, Tina Deloughery, Dan Fulghum, "Magyckme," Walt Stoneburner, and Emily Weed for their contributions to this page. And to Paul Cavanaugh for starting the spread of the word about it on eGroups. Thanks!
Other sources for IWOG material include AP, the Boston Globe, Business 2.0, Capitol Hill Blue, CBS Radio News and CBSNews.com, CNN, CSPAN and CSPAN-2, the Environmental News Service, Paul Harvey, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the London Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, the National Review, the New York Times, the Palm Beach Post, Reuters, U.S. News and World Report, WABC, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Washington Times.
*As with most things in life, this too has a handful of exceptions. Stamp collectors will protest that IWOG first meant "Issued Without Gum," which would only offend people obsessed with stamp glue. There are also some fine organizations like the Imaginary World of Gaming, the International Womens' Organization of Greece, and the Insurance Women of Greeley. They all sound perfectly fine to me, or at least they haven't gone out of their way to make me dislike them.