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Imagine that you have a friend who wants to clean the public golf course of chipmunks by dumping rat poison by the bucketful from helicopters. You think this is a... misguided idea. But the friend has the ear of the town council and convinces one member to introduce a bill mandating mass quantities of arsenic to be dumped on the golf course. You show up to a hearing and suggest the poison could cause other problems. The friend then goes to a local newspaper and for months trashes your good name, suggesting that you are a dishonest scumbag who furthermore likes the golf course chipmunks and probably profits from them by selling them to research labs by the minivan load. For what it's worth, the friend suggests that you also support killing the town's seniors with tainted heart medication imported from abroad.

When the town rises up to reject the rat poison bill and suggests that, perhaps, some less barmy idea might work, your friend then repeats all his old allegations while throwing in new ones about "abuse of power." But when defeat is clear, your friend calls you up on Saturday afternoon and expresses his thanks that you agree the golf course has a chipmunk problem. He hopes you can both sit down and work out a rational compromise—though not one that starts from your own idea, which was simply to employ a full-time golf course cat.

"We are rational beings," he says, "are we not?" You agree with him because that's the sort of polite person you are, but in reality you harbor doubts; wasn't this the guy with the nutball rat poison idea who spent months calling you names? And didn't he get you so furious that you sometimes lost the grip on your own steely logic?

Rationality, you think to yourself as you hang up the phone, might have been possible once—but it's going to be tough to find now.

RIAA still raging against Google, Wikipedia for "misuse of power" in SOPA battle

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