“Ludens Locutus” (or something similar, correct me if you like, it’s been a while), can be loosely translated into having “spoken a joke,” and it’s a common enough trope these days that I think it needs to be called out as some sort of flourish, rhetorical at best, cowardly at worst.
The latest person to jump aboard the Ludens Locutus Locomotive is our friend AOC, who’s now claiming that her unequivocal, like, statement that the, like, world is going to, like, end in, like, twelve years (giving her a bit of wiggle room to say, like, eleven or thirteen), was a joke all along, and we are nothing but a bunch of unsophisticated morons for not spotting her mordant wit. Since she made the original statement in January, I don’t believe she’s distanced herself from it at all, and she’s doubled down a few times to the effect that if we have not reduced greenhouse gases by at least 50% by 2030, we’re done.
I don’t know who “Dwight from The Office” is. But I do know that no-one who was present laughed when she made that statement, (including AOC herself, nor did her interviewer, Ta-Nehisi Coates, who was nodding his head and murmuring approval all the way), nor was there a “pause” during which expected laughter might occur. (There was a pause for vigorous applause.) I also know that when she was challenged on it after the fact by those who disagreed with her, she said in an Instagram post: “for everyone who wants to make a joke about that, you may laugh, but your grandkids will not.” It appeared, until yesterday, that she was perfectly happy for us all to take her literally, as well as seriously. Salena Zito, please call your office, and perhaps you can sort this out.
Come to find out the underpinnings of her statement appear to be a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report from October of last year which states that we Earthlings have until 2030 to turn our handcart around, otherwise we’ll be at the Point. Of. No. Return. and droughts, floods, extreme heat, and worldwide poverty will be the irreversible result. Literally. Something you might think that AOC could point to today, to at least back up her January assertion that something really, really bad is going to happen in twelve years.
But, never mind that. United Nations, meet bus wheels. She was totally funning.
Perhaps someone has finally impressed on her giant brain (which I’m sure is considerably larger than that my sea sponge-sized one, and even larger than a grain of rice) that she made a total fool of herself, that she’ll look ridiculous when snippets of that interview are played in next year’s campaign ads, and that most of us, even assuming her worst-case fever dream, will still be alive to call her to account in early 2031 when the bill comes due.
So, after letting her version of “settled science” sit out there since January sometime, instead of womaning up and saying, “you know what? I made a mistake, my data were flawed and I was wrong,” or “you know what, I exaggerated some, but look, here’s the UN IPCC Report I was referencing,” or even saying something like, “yeah, I stand by my conclusions but I collapsed the time frame a bit, it’s going to be more like 150 years” (a much safer bet in that we’ll all be dead by then), she decided to lash out at, and insult, all those whose time she’s been wasting in the intervening months, and then do an Emily Litella.
Pro Tip for AOC, and anyone else who occasionally puts their foot in their mouth by speaking without thinking, or saying things they might later wish they’d left unsaid (incorporating DJT and a few others by reference): If people take what you say at face value and try to answer your concerns or engage with your argument, just fess up and say you misspoke. Or, if you actually were joking, say that you were joking. Right then. Don’t waste other people’s time and energy. And don’t wait more than four months, or eighteen, or twenty-four months, to see if you can get away with it, or until you realize you’re looking like a booby, or until you decide it’s not advantageous to defend your position any more, and then pretend it was all a joke, while mocking and insulting the intelligence and perceived lack of sophistication of those who didn’t spot your brilliant, dry, sarcastic, wit all that time ago, or those who’ve been trying to have a rational conversation with you about it. Nobody’s going to laugh when you do that. Not your supporters, who’ve gone out on a limb for you and who’ll feel betrayed. And not your detractors, who’ve wasted their time marshaling arguments against you and who’ll think you’re a jerk.
And they’ll both be right.