Collaborative Affairs

A group of murderers, rapists, robbers, embezzlers and their attorneys and publicists sit around a huge rectangle of tables set with linen and silver and crystal discussing what to do about the violence perpetrated against them by law enforcement authorities, noting how harmful it was to their aspirations and goals, not to mention their persons and goods.

One of their attorneys had the forum: “Unfair, prejudiced, one could even say immoral” he inveighed.  “You must not continue to tolerate their slanderous allegations, which we know they cannot prove, given the increasing disappearance of witnesses and relevant documents, and the kind collaboration of our friends in the media.  It may cost a bit but it’ll all be worth it in the end”.

“They’re no better than terrorists” the lead publicist echoed, referring to the former rather than the latter … probably.

“I know we gotta increase our spending on legal defense and informational campaigns (propaganda)” responded the presiding malefactor, a lawyer and journalist, as well as a syndicate leader.  “It’s essential that we continue to have the media on our side and judges and jurors ain’t cheap, not to mention our lawyers”.

“Hear hear (or was it here, here, hard to tell)!” shouted the assembled, highly misunderstood and underappreciated (at least in their opinion) malefactors.

“We must make clear” argued the presiding malefactor “that we can’t be held responsible for the collateral damage incident to our wholly justifiable attempts to attain more equitable (in our opinion) distribution of goods and services and affections.”  (Interesting use of the word justifiable rather than justified, demonstrating a keen sense of the use of rationalization as an essential tool, he may sound like a mobster, and he is, but a pretty well educated mobster).

“Hear hear (or was it here, here, hard to tell)!” shouted the assembled, highly misunderstood and underappreciated (in their opinion) malefactors.

“We must make clear”, repeated the presiding malefactor in a cadence familiar to audiences in churches and political gatherings led by charismatic leaders, although in this instance, well, we’d have to admit that charisma was missing, but it was replaced by more compelling and forceful attributes, reinforced by hordes of bodyguards, “that the purported and potential so called victims are the problem, not us.  They’re the ones who are always bitching and complaining, manipulating our honorable adversaries into taking highly questionable and never justified retributive overreactions against us.  Polarizing us.  That must stop!  That must stop now, even if all so called victims have to be eliminated!!”

“Hear hear (or was it here, here, hard to tell)!” shouted the assembled, highly misunderstood and underappreciated (in their opinion) malefactors.

“But” queried a diminutive member of the audience speaking in a somewhat foreign accent but with undertones of New York City, “if we rub out, errr, I mean eliminate all the potential victims; where will that leave us?”

The presiding malefactor paused, apparently puzzled and a hushed silence fell over his audience (apparently also puzzled).  He looked around seeking his counselors and publicists all of whom seemed to be looking elsewhere, evidently deliberately avoiding his gaze, all except for the lead attorney.

“Hmmm, ‘Even if’ is a qualifier Melvin (the name of the inquiring malefactor)” the lead attorney smoothly interjected, “obviously a worst case scenario we’ll never face if we’re careful to merely cull potential victims.  After all we all eat meat but there are still plenty of cows (he meant steers), we all eat fish and there are still plenty of fish, we all eat bread and there is still plenty of wheat”.

“Exactly what I meant” interjected the presiding malefactor staring somewhat threateningly at Melvin.  “Exactly what I meant, … Capish?”

“Ah, of course, right boss” answered Melvin, although his tone seemed somewhat less convinced than that of someone who was actually convinced.  Under his breath he whispered “Schmuck!!!”  but luckily, no one heard, or at least, no acted as though they’d heard.

“Hear hear (or was it here, here, hard to tell)!” shouted the assembled, highly misunderstood and underappreciated malefactors, this time with a bit less certainty and a bit more fear.

Polite applause followed.  And handshakes and high fives, and in the back a bit of a scuffle.

The presiding malefactor and his entourage left, followed by the mob (literally and figuratively) fighting to get through the door in what each perceived to be the appropriate order of priority.  The sound faded as a muffled shot was heard.


The film ended.  Actually the foregoing was only a training film, albeit of a real event.

The actual audience clapped politely.

The seminar moderator addressed them anew (he’d been addressing them most of the day).  “Them” was an audience comprised of politicians, elected officials, administrators, bankers and financiers, and communication industry executives, of course, accompanied by lawyers and publicists.  Interestingly, the same lawyers and publicists who had been in the film.  Also interestingly, many in the audience were also very similar in appearance to many of those in the film.  Uncannily so.  Who says “coincidences” don’t exist?

“This is a video of an actual event.  Everything you saw was real.  And the results have been highly effective.  In fact, they are also clients and interestingly, we’ve used training videos featuring your own meetings to assist them in their endeavors to formulate and implement strategic plans with related tactical guides and reaction frames.  Now it’s only fair that they return the favor, although, of course, while quite similar in composition, your target group has a very different function as far as you’re all concerned, or at least that’s usually the case.”

The moderator smiled, a practiced winning smile, and the audience responded: “Hear hear (or was it here, here, hard to tell)!”

“We’ll break for lunch and continue this afternoon with focus groups, working tables and then tonight, a banquet and ball.

See you then.”

He would not be at the lunch.

He had a planning session lunch meeting for a similar seminar scheduled for the following week with a group of very senior defense and intelligence officials charged with protecting the free world and certain Middle Eastern dictatorships and monarchies from troublesome members of their communities.

A number of them had also been in that morning’s audience.


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved

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