The Swordfish Oracle

8 June 2001

A Conversation between Stanley & Gabriel

S: War? Who are we at war with?

G: Anyone who impinges on America’s freedom. Terrorist states, Stanley. Someone must bring their war to them. They bomb a church, we bomb ten. They hijack a plane, we take out an airport. They execute American tourists, we tactically nuke an entire city. Our job is to make terrorism so horrific that it becomes unthinkable to attack Americans.

S: How can you justify all this?

G: You’re not looking at the big picture, Stan. Here’s a scenario: You have the power to cure all the world’s diseases, but the price for this is that you must kill a single innocent child; could you kill that child, Stanley?

S: No.

G: You disappoint me; it’s the greatest good.

S: Well how about ten innocents?

G: Now you’re getting it, how about a hundred – how about a thousand, not to save the world, but to preserve our way of life?

S: No man has the right to make that decision; you’re no different from any other terrorist.

G: No, you’re wrong, Stanley. Thousands die every day for no reason at all, where’s your bleeding heart for them? You give your twenty dollars to Greenpeace every year thinking you’re changing the world? What countries will harbor terrorists when they realize the consequences of what I’ll do?

John Travolta Swordfish still

11 September 2001

We know what happened.

We saw the reactions.

We live with the results.

Still, we ask:

How far are we willing to go?

John Travolta Dual Wielding Pistols Swordfish still

6 January 2016

I don’t remember when I first saw Swordfish; I think it was my senior year of high school, which would put it sometime around 2004. I think the movie was taboo in the conservative circles I moved it, not just for the rating but also for its kinds-sorta anti-government message.

Recently, I found it again on Netflix; remembering it as mainly a tecno-drama in which John Travolta shoots massive weaponry and gets away with his scheme to divert $6 billion in government slush money to wage War on Terror [before such a thing existed], I sat down and watched it again.

The conversation stopped me cold. Swordfish came out mereĀ weeks before 9/11. In the aftermath, did we go too far or not far enough? It depends. I wonder what the world would be like if Gore had won Indecision 2000 and not Bush; I honestly think Bush was the right President in 2001, but have second-guessed his re-election in 2004. That may have been a mistake. Dangerous things happen when historians start playing “What-If?”.

Perhaps it’s because Ender’s Game is still fresh in mind, but when I have a free moment, I find myself asking:

How far would I go?

How far should I go?

Thing is, I’m not convinced there’s a right answer.

What do you think?

Swrodfish bus lifted by helicopter


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