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Re^3: Programming is combat

by brian_d_foy (Abbot)
on Jul 14, 2004 at 20:17 UTC ( #374422=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^2: Programming is combat
in thread Programming is combat

I still haven't found anything that supports your claims. No article I ran across said anything about Enron getting in trouble because of their choice of names (which also included "Ping Pong" and "Get Shorty").

Their name was a poor choice, but as far as I can tell they haven't been indicted for naming a business strategy. If you have specific links to actual articles, please post them.

You told me privately that the "illegal" activities you refer to are really just things that violate your own companies policy. That hardly makes those activities crinimal. That a corporate lawyer told you not to do something doesn't affect the legality of the action: they just don't want you anywhere near trouble so they draw the line further back.

Several non-governmental organizations use a military metaphor without legal incident. The Salvation Army even put s it right in their name. Southwest Airline pilots wear bomber jackets. Private security companies are para-militaries. Mall security guards dress like they expect gun battles. US citizens can wear most of our military's uniforms (without identifying insignia) without even getting a second look from a cop. It is simply not illegal.

brian d foy <>

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Re^4: Programming is combat
by toma (Vicar) on Jul 15, 2004 at 05:47 UTC
    You are right that metaphors are usually not illegal in themselves. But if you get into trouble, they can make your trouble much worse. Your state of mind when you commit a crime often determines which crime you will be charged with. Military metaphors can be a worst-case-scenario for your defense.

    For an example, see In this article, it is clear that the state of mind of the enery traders determines whether or not a crime occured. If I was on a jury, and someone claimed to be in an innocent state of mind while executing manuever that they themselves referred to as 'Death Star', I would be skeptical.

    If you aren't accused of commiting any crimes that relate to your metaphors, there should be no legal problems with choice of metaphors. However, many military tactics are in fact illegal when applied to civilian life. Shooting at your competitors, for example, is generally forbidden.

    Perhaps it would help to shift metaphors to illustrate the point with a silly example. I'm not being serious, here, I'm just trying to explain my point of view. If you don't agree or think it applies, that's fine, too. People who debate crime, punishment, and metaphor often don't agree.

    Imagine that I am an accountant. I unwisely call my tax-avoidance system "Fraudulently avoid paying taxes by illegally deducting business lunches." During an audit of an account which uses this scheme, it is found that I should not have deducted an expensive business lunch that was listed as an expense. Now it is the Revenue Agent's responsibility to assess my state of mind when I made this mistake. Was it tax evasion, or a simple mistake? The name of my accounting scheme is going to cause me a problem.

    Not silly enough? Here's one that's even sillier: What if Scott Adams was charged with stealing office supplies? As the author of "Build A Better Life By Stealing Office Supplies" he could have a real problem!

    There is also a more serious risk in using metaphor, and that is that an opponent takes your metaphor literally, and shoots first. The Salvation Army doesn't have much of a problem with that one, but Mall Cops do take that risk, and sometimes pay the ultimate price.

    It should work perfectly the first time! - toma
      I think you have misread this article. Nowhere does it support any implication that the name they gave the activity meant anything to the court. Change every instance of "Death Star" to "Cute Puppies" and the article reads the same. The state of mind of the suspects is important, but they aren't using the name "Death Star" to do that. You're simply wrong, and it's time to concede. Your "silly" metaphors about crimes have nothing to do with the one I presented in the original post because I never suggested that anyone engage in any illegal activity.
      brian d foy <>
        I can't prove my claims with perl code! So I don't think this is a good forum for debate of legal issues, and I'm truly sorry that I brought it up in the first place.

        There are some very nice links at on marketing warfare, which is the concept that I was thinking about in my original post. They include many of the ideas that have been discussed in your outline and some of the responses. The site also has information about legal concepts in tort law, good faith, etc. They also mention why the marketing warfare books are now on the discount rack.

        I also confess to having been ignorant of your involvement with the military and I apologize if my remarks were inappropriate. I am a big fan of your writing and wish you continued success with it.

        It should work perfectly the first time! - toma

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