Apu: "I need you to make a delivery to an elderly shut in but to get there you must go through the Forbidden Zone!" [He waves his fingers in a “scary” motion.]The joke is that something frightening and horrible, the Forbidden Zone, has become so ordinary that not only are there several different Forbidden Zones but Bart is unsurprised, unimpressed, and unafraid. Indeed, life has gone on as before. What were once horrors have become mere inconveniences, like potholes.
Bart: "Yeah yeah, which one: radioactive, smallpox, eternal midnight?"
That joke came to mind when I heard about Muriel Degauque, “Europe’s First Woman Suicide Bomber” and to my knowledge the “First Ethnic-European Suicide Bomber”. Two dubious achievements for a twice married 38 year-old Belgian.
Muriel may have been the first Western, ethnically European Muslim convert suicide bomber but she will not be the last. In a few years this will have become so common we will no longer keep count.
We were all shocked by the filmed beheading of Daniel Pearl 4 years ago. Now beheading videos don't even make headlines. Who among us even knows how many Westerners have been beheaded by jihadists? What was once stunning and noteworthy passes into routine. Evil becomes cliché.
I fear this pattern of taboo-once-broken-becomes-commonplace will continue. Today an unspeakable horror is front page news. Next year that same horror is mundane, a paragraph on page A12 next to a truck ad.
What shocks you (nerve gas? mass rape? child terrorists? cannibalism?) Imagine something so terrible it could never become 'standard', could never become an expected event. Now try to prepare yourself psychologically for its occurrence and re-occurrence. Again and again, each atrocity blurring into the next until they are simply features of the world. Like traffic. Or bad weather. Or eternal midnight.