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    Al-Qaeda's Secret Weapon (Extra Butter, Please)

    osama_popcorn.jpgQuote:  “Maybe because popcorn explodes?”  Brian Lehman, owner of Amish Country Popcorn, in the New York Times.

    Figure of Speech: charientismus (cha-ree-en-TIS-mus), the figure of gentle irony.

    The Department of Homeland Security lists Amish Country Popcorn of Berne, Indiana, as a “national asset” at risk of terrorism, along with Ole MacDonald’s Petting Zoo and the Mule Day Parade.  Figaro agrees these are national assets.  But are terrorists so evil they would take out parading mules?

    Mr. Lehman clearly doesn’t think al-Qaeda is about to weaponize his popcorn.  He’s just poking mild-mannered, Midwestern fun with a charientismus (“graceful joke”), a figure that employs an inoffensive sort of irony.  Ironic humor takes many forms, all having to do with saying one thing and meaning another.

    So why did corn-fed Indiana end up number one for terrorist targets while the District of Columbia is in 42nd place?  Do the Islamists plan to snack us to death?

    Surely we can do that ourselves.

    Snappy Answer:  “Did that man just leak a national secret?”

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