The Line, Part III

There are three parts to this consideration. Here is Part I. Here is Part II. The subject is the Bring the Troops Home from Iraq march and rally of Saturday afternoon, March 11, 2006. Both papers estimated 500 people attended, which is a lot. Here is a decent recap.

Chalk Line

There’s a joke that I recalled before the march and it crossed my mind again during the speeches. It’s Jewish-Yiddish in origin. And try as I might, I could not make Google come up with some authentic version of it to paste here.

That’s good, because even though it’s a political joke, that would be found funny in the Gulag told among Russian Christian Orthodox (and probably was), it’s vile. Without documentation, I am free to revise the joke. It should have the exact same impact without the sexism.

A pair of pamphleteers is working in their rundown apartment on the next broadsheet when two members of the national secret police break down the door. They apparently already know who’s who between the men and take the editor to the bedroom to try to beat information out of him. The young printer is told to stay in the living room.

“Don’t bother thinking about escape. Lots more agents are in the hall and outside,” one agent tells him. Then the official takes a piece of chalk from the pocket of his trenchcoat. He draws a line on the wood floor well away from the door, windows and telephone, and pushes the young fellow across it.

“Stay on this side of the line, or you’ll get it worse than the old guy.”

An hour later the agents leave. The editor limps from the bedroom, collapses into an armchair and gasps, “I didn’t tell them a thing.”

The young printer smiles conspiratorially. “And I stepped across the line 10 times!”

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