How To Explain The Difference Between Tyranny And Paranoia


This may need to be the first of a series in a thousand parts; because there seems to be growing confusion about the word “tyranny” and its meanings for those on the right wing. Or, to put it plainly, some of these folks have gone bat-shit crazy.

Like any sensible conservative (yes, Virginia, like Santa, they do exist), any sensible liberal understands that governments can be a threat to the lives and liberties of their own people — liberals remember Nixon and his minions during Watergate, for example. This is why the Founding Fathers wisely divided power among the three branches of government and hog-tied our leaders and ourselves — just in case the “majority rule” thing started to go wrong — by adding the Bill of Rights to the U. S. Constitution.

How, then, does one tell the difference between tyranny and paranoia? We know the right loves the cliche Hitler-Obama comparisons. So,  tyranny, to pick but one example among millions, is when Sophie Scholl, a German girl, and her brother Hans are arrested for posting leaflets saying, “Down with Hitler!” and calling for the German people to use passive resistance to undermine the Nazi regime. Tyranny is when you are put on trial for treason on February 22, 1943, found guilty in minutes, and executed hours later, with no chance of appeal.

Bat-shit right-wingers might pay particular attention to the fact the Nazis favored all kinds of cruelties, whereas liberals tend to be sensitive about defendant rights and sometimes even oppose the death penalty.

Paranoia, however, is when you beat your liberal foes badly in the 2010 elections, brag about how you’re going to beat us again in 2012, collect and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to do it, and get the crap kicked out of you, electorally speaking. Under a tyrant you get the political crap kicked out of you literally, usually with hob-nailed boots. When you start whining about tyranny in that situation, frankly, you sound pathetic.

We understand that right-wingers hate communists and liberals with equal fervor and we know they can’t tell the difference. Here’s how you tell the difference. A communist (and a tyrant) is when Pol Pot, who ruled Cambodia in the 70s, turns his entire nation into an infmaous “killing field” and one of every six citizens dies. Liberals, by comparison, favor gay marriage. No one has to die for that to happen.

Tyranny is the vast Soviet gulag. Tyranny is the massacre in Tiananmen Square.

Paranoia is listening to Fox News every day and quaking in fear as guest after guest warns that Mr. Obama is trampling the U. S. Constitution, but not noticing that — frankly, this seems hard not to notice —  no one from the government ever comes to get anyone at Fox News. This is as it should be in a great nation where Rush Limbaugh is free to build a following and fill the tedious hours of listeners’ lives with bombast and buffoonery.

Tyranny is Saddam Hussein ordering his military to dump mustard gas and nerve agents on dozens of Kurdish villages, killing thousands of men, women and children.

Paranoia is when you think guaranteeing health care for individuals with preexisting conditions is like dropping nerve gas on villages.

Tyranny is hereditary power — Kim Jong Un taking over from Kim Jong Il, who took over from Kim Il Sung — always without elections — and transforming an entire nation into a vast prison camp. Tyranny is the Assad regime today, Fidel Castro ruling Cuba half a century, and the South African government during the Apartheid Era.

Paranoia is when you can go right down to the gun store and buy up plenty of arms and ammunition; and then you vilify Mr. Obama for issuing executive orders related to gun sales. Even Fox News couldn’t really make them sound scary if anyone who watched Fox News would take time to read them. To wit, Executive Order 6:

“Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.”

In fact, here’s one sure-fire way to tell the difference between tyranny and paranoia: Tyranny almost always involves torture and killing. Paranoia is when you think issuing a letter of guidance to gun dealers is tyranny.

Certainly, we know the whole “Nazism-fascism-liberalism-socialism-communism” continuum confuses paranoid right-wingers. So we should point out for their edification that some of the rightest right-wing governments (Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Augusto Pinochet) have been most adept in the use of torture and the full-blown exercise of tyranny. Remember the junta of air force generals that ruled Argentina back in the 70s? Forget the elections — they employed death squads to silence critics. Political foes and journalists were shot down as they walked out their front doors. After 1976, the generals had thousands arrested and “disappeared.” By contrast, Obama can’t even make House Republicans raise the debt ceiling. Evidence of their fate began surfacing in 1983, after the Argentinian people rose in revolt. Alfredo Astiz, a former undercover agent, admitted having a hand in a number of killings. Thousands of victims were taken to the Navy Mechanics School in Buenos Aires for questioning. Only a lucky few survived. Some were drugged and thrown from airplanes. After the junta was overturned several mass graves were uncovered. One held the remains of 3,000 victims. All had been shot in the back of the head.

See now? That’s how easy it is once you keep a few basics in mind. That’s how you tell the difference between tyranny and paranoia. Tyranny is a bullet hole in the skull. Paranoia is when Glenn Beck tells you there are FEMA concentration camps; but only he can actually see them. Paranoia is when you believe an imaginary tyrant is out to get you.