language & grammarThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that ye will stop misusing the word “hero”

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I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree No. 111-11-1111-11/X: The Emperor calls for an end to the improper use of the word “hero.” A hero is a person who performs a heroic act (The Emperor’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 332). While many people should, for instance, be deeply praised for choosing selfless and noble careers (firemen, for example) or for exemplifying great courage (surviving cancer, for instance) we will, henceforth, reserve the use of the world “hero” for those who have performed heroic acts. The fireman doesn’t become a hero when he gets a position in the department; he becomes a hero when he saves a life. The cancer survivor doesn’t become a hero for surviving cancer; she becomes a hero when she dedicates her life to raising money for cancer research. (Oh, shut up. The Emperor, himself, is a cancer survivor and would never claim the title of “hero” because of it.) There are many wonderful, important and praiseworthy people out there who are not heroes. Heroes are a special category of wonderful people — unless, of course, we continue to call all wonderful people heroes.

The Punishment: Those who continue to misuse this word will be forced to spend the next ten years of their lives wearing their underwear on the outside of their pants, in public.

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning.

Chris Matarazzo is a writer, composer, musician and teacher of literature and writing on the college and high school levels. His music can be heard on his recent release, Hats and Rabbits, which is currently available. Chris is also the composer of the score to the off-beat independent film Surrender Dorothy and he performs in the Philadelphia area with the King Richard Band. He's also a relatively prolific novelist, even if no one seems to care yet. His blog, also called Hats and Rabbits, is nice, too, if you get a chance...
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7 Responses to “The Emperor decrees that ye will stop misusing the word “hero””

  1. I am a kilt wearer: no pants and …

    So what now?

    *sticking out tounge at emperor*


  2. Above all, someone does not become a “hero” by getting killed.

    Contrary to the display at the WTC site, Alicia Titus, Chris Karstanjen and the rest were not “heroes”. They were VICTIMS!

  3. Hermann — you have done what few could ever hope to do: confounded the Emperor. We could use men like you at court.

  4. Will — How one dies is the only determining factor in heroism, in the end. Not all victims are heroes, but they can be; one act (either seen or unseen) can determine the difference.

  5. It that is the ONLY determining factor… there can be no live heroes?

  6. Oh — no — of course there can be live heroes. I thought we were talking about determining when a victim IS a hero, in the end. I’m just saying, it can happen — a victim can also be a hero, but a victim is not always a hero, just for having been a victim.

  7. …and, in the end, we don’t know what happened in those buildings, so there is a chance some great acts of heroism were committed (along with less impressive displays).

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