How to negotiate with terrorists
Never compromise, never back down, never surrender
Welcome back to Field Research, a weekly dark humor and satire publication written and produced by me,.
Today’s post mashes up parental and geopolitical horrors and riffs on the concept that “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.”
Terrorist: I dohn wan eat my broc-co-li!
Freedom fighter: Don’t eat then. World’s got plenty of people.
Terrorist: Our special military operation aims to recover and de-Nazify our historic lands.
Terrorist: I hate brushing my teeth!
Freedom fighter: Hope you like Ensure.
Freedom fighter: Saudi Arabia’s a pariah state, with a long, sordid history of human rights abuses, including the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. We’ll treat them as such.
Terrorist: Today OPEC+ announces cuts to global oil production.
Freedom fighter: Look, Buddy, I can tone down the rhetoric, but will you just do us a solid and turn on the taps?
Terrorist: Sure, we just need you to pose for a few quick photos…
…and today OPEC+ announces further cuts to global oil production.
Freedom fighter: What a load of mularkey! See Kids, this is why you should never negotiate with terrorists.
Terrorist: I wan gummy beawrs for dinnah!
Freedom fighter: Hulk eats broccoli, which is why he’s big and strong and green and has a big, strong penis. Do you want a big, strong broccoli penis like Hulk? Or a flimsy, flaccid gummy bear penis?
Terrorist: We are the rightful rulers of the “Island Which Shall Not Be Named” and, if necessary, will reclaim it by force.
Freedom fighter: Dear Comrade Xi, have you ever tried swallowing a porcupine?
Terrorist: I want to stay up late! I’m seven!
Freedom fighter: Let’s make a deal.
I buy you a smartphone.
You download TikTok, make your own videos, become an influencer, and monetize yourself, which means you’ll have enough money to move out, rent your own apartment, buy your own clothes, groceries, books, dolls, and toys, pay for your own transportation, internet service, cell phone service, gas bill, electric bill, water bill, and trash/recycling bill, procure your own health, life, and renter’s insurance policies, purchase your own entertainment services like Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Marvel Unlimited, pay a cleaning person to wash your dishes, do your laundry, vacuum your floors, clean your bathrooms, water your houseplants, and make your bed, and then, once you do all that, you can stay up as late as you want.
Terrorist: That’s ridiculous! I’m only seven!
Freedom fighter: Then go to bed.
Terrorist: Our special military operation has turned into an unmitigated clusterfuck. We’re suspending all remaining nuclear arms control pacts and are prepared to deploy strategic alternatives to defend our sovereignty.
Freedom fighter: [NATO aims thousands of nuclear weapons at Moscow]
Terrorist: I not eat my broc-co-li. I kick you in tha face!
Freedom fighter: Generations of fathers in your paternal lineage have abandoned their children, but I don’t think anyone’s ever gone full Oedipus. Please, Son, I implore you, put me out of my misery, and add patricide to our proud heritage.
Terrorist: Look, you’re welcome to be angry. But know this: everything I tell you to do is for your benefit. The best years of my life are over. I’ve been a star athlete and a high-performing student. I’ve read Catch-22 and Brave New World and Blood Meridian and The Sellout. Seen Predator and Citizen Kane and Spy and RRR. I went to college and drank too much and did depraved sex acts. I’ve been to a Michigan-Ohio State football game and a Duke-UNC basketball game. I’ve earned not one but two useless Master’s Degrees. Lived in Miami, Ann Arbor, Chapel Hill, Boulder, Hoboken, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago. I’ve listened to Mozart in Vienna and swam with marine iguanas in The Galapagos. I’ve been a scientist and a globalist and an artist. Made lots of money doing bullshit work and no money doing meaningful work. I fortuitously got married and foolishly had children. At this point it doesn’t matter if I brush my teeth. Or get enough sleep. Or maintain a healthy body. The only significant life event in my future is death.
But you! You have everything to live for. You think Frozen 2 is the best movie ever, which means you’ve yet to experience one interesting thing on this godforsaken planet. So when I tell you to do tedious things like get plenty of sleep, and ample exercise, and don’t watch too much TV, or eat too many sweets, and make sure to tell the truth and be honest and trustworthy and learn how to distinguish between right and wrong, that’s all so you can grow up and become a healthy, independent, productive, engaged citizen. I already did that! My life was the bomb, but now I’m cruising toward senescence and senility. Your entire life’s still in front of you, but you’re also just a kid, which means your only goddamned responsibility is to try — sometimes! — to follow goddamned directions.
Freedom fighter: I’m telling Mom you said potty words.
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Subversive, not cynical
Last Friday I launched my first ever paywalled thread, where I solicited feedback and brainstormed ideas for future posts with readers. Paid subscribers can check it out here:
Of note, I had an interesting exchange with reader, who writes the bighearted Out Over My Skis. He said he sometimes tunes out my edgier political and satirical writing when he feels it becomes too “cynical.”
I fully admit to being a cynic at times, but it’s not my intention to reflect hopelessness or nihilism in my writing. Believe it or not, I’ve come to see my pieces — and satire broadly — as overtly optimistic.
By ridiculing the world’s obvious villains (e.g., Putin, MBS, Elon Musk, Davos frauds, Tom Hanks, crypto bros) and subverting society’s chronic ills (e.g., structural inequity, right-wing nutjobism) I'm calling attention to things about the world I despise, and wish were different. In a sense, I’m attempting to refract the world I don’t like into the version I’d rather see.
While I won’t always hit the right notes, I encourage you all to approach even my darkest pieces with an underlying assumption of hope.
On Friday, March 3 at 9:30 a.m. CT I’m planning a scorching hot takedown of my HOA. It’ll definitely be cathartic. Hopefully it’ll be funny too.
See you then!
Great closing Freedom Fighter/Terrorist bit!
I truly loved this post. Perfectly balanced internet nutrition.
The TikTok influencer tirade was my favorite bit.
"Broccoli penis?" With all the penis shaped vegetables there are out there? I know. This post wasn't about penises. But if you say it enough times... 🥒🍆🥦