Is Gaddafi crazy? Or just mad that everyone spells his name wrong?

If you follow the news like I do, you’ve noticed that over the last couple of weeks, one topic has been dominating every news medium.

Well okay, three topics. But I’m ignoring IHOP’s free pancake day and Justin Bieber’s haircut. So when you cross those off the list, you’re really only left with the situation in the Middle East.

I think there are several lessons that we can take out of the turmoil in that region of the world. First of all, it’s worth remembering that rebellions spread faster than mono in a high school. One group of people fight for their freedom and win it, which inspires others to fight their own oppressors. Hence my belief that we should fight the tyranny of Dan Snyder.

But unfortunately, there are some situations that peaceful resistance is futile against. Namely when you’re fighting a psycho with a lot of guns and money. Because as my dad always says, you can’t argue with crazy—crazy does what crazy wants. And in Libya right now, crazy is running the show and mowing down anyone who goes against crazy’s rule like they’re a British agency’s representative standing in front of a drunk secretary on a riding mower in the Sterling Cooper office.

(Please tell me that someone out there got that reference. I can’t be the only one who loves Mad Men, right? I’m going to feel like Dennis Miller if no one got that joke. And I’m REALLY going to feel like him if no one got THAT joke. Where’s Keegan’s bell when I need it?)

I know that I’ve spent a lot of time planning what the world will be like when I take over and rule with a well-manicured iron fist. But in the last few weeks, I’ve re-evaluated my stance on dictatorial rule. And while I hate to quote two of the most famous political assassins of all time (and apparently the t-shirt that Timothy McVeigh was wearing when he was arrested after the Oklahoma City bombing… it’s truly fascinating what you can learn on Wikipedia), I’m starting to see the logic in “Sic Semper Tyrannis.” When a tyrant refuses to step down and do what’s right for his or her people, it’s time to take action.

So for example, Oprah is an example of a good ruler. She led her people for many years, but eventually decided on her own accord to step down.

Although that may not be the best example. Because she just launched her own television network. Which could be seen as an attempt at actually extending her rule over an even wider population. And she’s stepping down now that I’m a published author without first selecting one of my books as her book of the month. I’m kinda mad about that.  But I’ll forgive you Oprah if you pick my book before you leave your show.  Seriously.  Call me.

Okay, new example. Hosni Mubarak put up a tough front, but when it came down to it, he stepped down rather than resorting to extreme acts of violence and a potential Civil War.

Unlike, of course, Dan Snyder and Moammar Gaddafi. But before we lean toward political assassination, it’s worth looking at the factors that caused these deadly dictators to rise to power. And if for no other reason, the US needs to learn that when we step into other peoples’ problems without a solid game plan and exit strategy, it doesn’t end well for us. We do great if we’re defending ourselves—I mean we showed our enemies who was boss in World War II. Because it definitely wasn’t over when the German’s bombed Pearl Harbor.

Vietnam and Iraq, however, gave us a little more trouble. Now in Dan Snyder’s case, military force is absolutely necessary on the part of the US, because it’s an affront that’s occurring on US soil. But in Libya, we need to tread carefully.

So why is Mr. Gaddafi so crazy? Is it something in the water? Has he gone mad with power? I mean, I know Lady Gaga would say he was “born this way,” but I don’t think that’s the case in this particular situation.

Because I understand this particular brand of madness. Better than most people can.

The problem is in his name.

What’s so wrong with his name? Easy. Spell it for me.

I’ve been opting to follow the Washington Post in spelling both his first and last name, but is the Post right?

No. No, they’re not.

They’re not WRONG. They’re just not right. Because there is no correct way to spell his name in English.

And as someone whose name is spelled incorrectly on a daily basis, I understand the urge to go on a killing spree over a wrong letter constantly put in your name. I’m not going to lie. I’ve considered genocide against the people who can’t spell my name correctly when it’s right in front of them on Facebook or in my email address. Of course, I lack Gaddafi’s resources, so I’d be more likely to elbow someone sharply or step on their foot for screwing up my name rather than taking his route of ordering the military to open fire on crowds. But if you gave me military resources, I can’t promise I wouldn’t use them against the people who can’t be bothered to spell my name correctly.

And the people who put leashes on their kids. But that’s a topic for another day.

Gaddafi, however, has way more of a reason to be angry than I do. Yes, I get annoyed when people put an “h” on my name. But he’s got it far worse. Because the English language just doesn’t have the right letters to express exactly how his name is pronounced. So every single English spelling is wrong. I was surprised when he first made headlines and I saw that his name was spelled with a “G” because I’d always heard it as more of a “K” sound. Which apparently is actually a little closer than the “G” that everyone is spelling it with. Because the closest approximation is “Qaddafi.” But Americans fear the letter “q” when it’s not followed by a “u” and therefore that spelling is an abomination to us. Which I understand. I always have a moment of panic on the first day of school if I see a name on my roster that has a “q” followed by a random second letter because I have no idea how to pronounce it without the “u.”

So what’s the answer? How do we appease the beast without leaving a mad dictator in power?

It’s easier than you might think. We just need to add a 27th letter to the English alphabet. We don’t need to use it for anything but Gaddafi’s name, and in fact we shouldn’t. We should make him feel special by giving him a Prince-like symbol for his name alone.

Then, while we’re distracting him with his own personal English letter like a carrot in front of a horse, we establish a real democracy.

Everyone wins.

But don’t worry. When I eventually take over the world, you won’t need to invent a new letter for me. Because it’ll be illegal to spell my name with an “h” at the end. Which, in the end, is what’s really important. My happiness. Get used to it people. It’s happening. But if you learn to spell my name correctly, when the revolution comes, you’ll probably be spared. Unless you’re a Cowboys fan. Or a Duke fan. Or Dan Snyder. Because some people just need to be stopped no matter the cost.

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It’s spelled S-A-R-A. But it’s pronounced "Sara-no-H"

There are varying accounts of how I got my name depending on which of my parents you ask and what mood they’re in.

Officially, according to my mother, I was going to be named Rachel Lauren, which my Hebrew name still corresponds to, but when I was born, my dad pulled a fast one because he’d never liked that name. Of course, my mom said that she was so tired by then that she would have agreed to the name Porky Pig, so I should consider myself lucky that my dad’s sense of humor wasn’t more warped than it already is.

When pressed, she says that they had discussed the Sara Elizabeth option before I was born, and chose to leave the H off of Sara because it seemed too old fashioned with the H on it.

If you ask my dad, it’s because both Bob Dylan and Hall and Oates had songs featuring a girl named Sara without an H.

I also remember my dad telling me one time that the reason my brother and I both have four-letter names with two As in them is because he’s the world’s worst speller and this way he would be able to spell our names correctly.

While the latter probably isn’t true, the problem is that no one other than my dad has EVER been able to spell my name correctly.

I’m not quite sure what the problem is. The Dylan song “Sara,” Hall and Oates’ song “Sara Smile,” and even the Fleetwood Mac song “Sara” all were released years before I was born. The Starship song came later, as did the Ben Folds song “Zac and Sara,” and the Rascal Flats song “Sara Beth.” But pretty much all musical Saras lack the H.

If anything, missing that last letter should make my name easier to spell. But you’d be surprised how many of my lifelong friends get it wrong.

I would understand the problem if my name was pronounced “Sara” but spelled Askjdaksdjaskdjasdkajsdhjsdgfshgdosuehfwer. But in this case, it should be pretty obvious.

When I was a kid, it was the most frustrating thing in the world. I could never find those stupid little license plates with my name spelled correctly. Whenever I got a nameplate necklace, my mom had to break the H off for me. In elementary school I would have to surreptitiously scribble the H off of whatever my teachers had set up for us. If I was caught, it was vandalism, even though I was just trying to correct my name.

It was completely beyond my comprehension why such a normal, average name could cause such problems.

 I don’t care all that much if people screw it up when they’re sending me a text message or writing me a note (okay, it still pisses me off. I learned THEIR names. But not everyone is as conscious of the problem as I am). The thing that annoys me most, however, is when people spell it wrong in emails or Facebook comments. My name is IN my email address. It’s at the top of my Facebook page. Is it REALLY that hard to get it right when you’re looking right at it?

On my birthday, for example, about half of the people who wished me happy birthday on my Facebook page got my name wrong. I thought about de-friending all of them, but then I’d be left with very few friends. I think that’s a good measure of true friendship; if they can spell your name, they’re keepers.

Sometimes I think my mother did this to me on purpose. Not out of spite, but out of overcompensation. Her name is Carole with the Carole Lombard-inspired E at the end. Maybe she thought she was doing me a favor by leaving off that letter, so I would never know what it felt like to have someone ignore a letter of my name. She probably didn’t know that her plan would backfire and that I would spend my life pronouncing my name “Sara-no-H.” Sometimes it feels like my real middle name is “No H” instead of Elizabeth.

The good thing about the spelling difficulty is that it creates an instant bond between Saras. We have a united front against the common enemy: the Sarahs. We no-H-ers have to stick together. And maybe someday we’ll figure out a way to teach the world that there’s only one REAL way to spell the name.

And then all the H-ers will know what it feels to have an invisible but spoken suffix at the end of their name when they have to introduce themselves as “Sara-with-an-H.”

Until then, please try to spell my name right. Or else when I’m a famous author and you ask for an autograph, I’m going to spell your name wrong as payback.

Love,
Sara-no-H Goodman