Sunday, June 03, 2007

John M. Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #168: Historical Excisions

So, feel up for a challenging, meaty Weekend Assignment? Because I have a topic this week that will require quite a bit of pondering. Ready? Here it is:

Weekend Assignment #168: For reasons best left unexplained, you have been allowed to excise one and only one person from the course of history. Which person would you choose to remove from history and why? That's right: Any one person you think history would be better without, you can now expunge. So who would it be -- and how do you think history would be changed with their absence? See. Told you it was one that would make you think.

This assignment comes with two rules. First, the person expunged has to be a human being; deities (and human iterations thereof) should be left out of this particular exercise, mostly because I'd like to avoid all the ranting such an excision would add. Second, try not to choose Adolf Hitler (because he's too easy) or either the current president or his predecessor (to avoid ranty political rantiness). Incidentally, picking either parent of any of these three folks just to get around this admonition is dirty pool. Other than that, pick whom you would like. This still leaves lots of potentially expungible historical figures.

Extra Credit: Favorite historical-themed movie. Because why not?

Dear John,

I am insufficiently conversant in modern history to do this topic the justice it deserves. And I spent Saturday with my wife on the road rather than conducting the kind of research this would require simply to obtain an overview. If I'd had my druthers, I'd still have spent the day with my wife, so that is merely an observation, not an excuse.

With that said, I do believe I would have seen to it that a wild boar or large python had “wandered” into the sleeping chambers of the young Saloth Sar, a scion of wealthy parents in the town of Prek Sbauv in Kampong Thom Province of central Cambodia along about 1930. I would arrange that said boar or large Burmese Python would choose the juvenile five year-old Sar as a suitable repast for the magnificent beast. Or, perhaps, a distracted servant could accidentally let Saloth slip while bathing, strike his head and suffer a eventually fatal contusion of the brain. Poison in his coconut milk, perhaps? Whatever it took, I'd arrange for it to happen, even if my life was forfeit if I succeeded.

Why would I wreak such a horrible death upon such an innocent unknown? Simple. He grew up to become the man known as “Pol Pot”. Leader of the Khmer Rouge. The murderer of over a million (or two) of his fellow Cambodians.

That's why.

And that is my failing, for I am unable to tell you what the benefits would be to the world of having those one to two million men, women and children back amongst the living. Perhaps a critical piece to the search for a cancer cure? A magnificent new recipe? A ouevre of music composition that rivals Beethoven? A leader who would have fostered the birth of democracy in that nation, thus putting shame to the nirvana espoused by the agrarian communist, Ho Chi Minh. The absence of the war in Vietnam? I can not say, as entropy may play a large role in the affairs of man upon earth. Perhaps a different, sicker man would have risen to power, killing five million Cambodians.

I can only hope that wouldn't have happened.

As I can only hope all is well with you, Krissy and the demon-spawn, Herself.

Wil

Extra Credit: The Killing Fields. Indeed, because you should see it.

1 comment:

boliyou said...

Very good choice, and well-written.