April 25, 2004

· Internet

In a bold commercial move, you Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden now have a Cafe Press Store where you can buy various Nielsen Hayden wit and wisdom on mugs, shirts and aprons. Weirdly, though, I remembered one of the reified sentiments—a superb phrase I will doubtless be using at a later date—backwards from the version for sale. The mugs and shirts say “Just because you’re on their side, doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” But my brain had transposed it to “Just because they’re on your side, doesn’t mean you’re on their side.” The first warns against the danger of giving support to people who will betray you in the end or turn out to be driven by interests very different from those you imagine. The second warns against the danger of accepting support from people you don’t know, whose views happen to overlap with yours one area but in fact are part of some bizarro ideology you want nothing to do with. Not so different, I suppose, but I clearly thought the second version was more compelling somehow.

Three points on this. First, it’s actually quite common for great quotations to be edited and rearranged in the process of becoming part of the culture. But I think we can safely say that this is a case of my wonky[1] memory rather than some general push from the conscience collective. Second, I think I’m going to buy the “Nutbar Conspiracy Theorist” jersey once I get back to the U.S. And third, I think we need some CT merchandise. Perhaps a version of the full lineout. Or just our banner. Or some of the pearls of wit that flow like, um, honey from our, uh, wellsprings of, erm, knowledge. (Any nominations for favorite CT quotes?)

fn1. In the English rather than the American sense.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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