Child Arrested For "Multiplication Denial"
by Michael K. Smith
A high school student in this West Bank town has been arrested for "multiplication denial" after repeatedly insisting that a negative number multiplied by another negative number yields a negative product. A world-wide consensus of mathematicians determined long ago that two negative numbers multiplied together produces a POSITIVE product."
But it's obvious," said the 14-year-old student, Rihab Hanafi, as she was led away in chains by Uzi-toting guards. "Multiplication magnifies; therefore two negative numbers multiplied together necessarily produces a MORE NEGATIVE product."Hanafi's repeating her false claims over and over and refusing to instantly accept the word of others gave her away as a died-in-the-wool Denier right off the bat.
"This kind of superficially plausible reasoning is characteristic of Holocaust Deniers, to which Mathematics Denial is obviously related," said Abraham Foxman, Director of the Anti-Defamation League. "But the underlying motive is obviously hatred for truth and hatred for Jews, the principal bearers of truth."
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Hanafi's antics are just the latest in a series of anti-math atrocities that are making the world a perilous place for number theorists. Last year, a Belgian neo-Nazi announced he had discovered a new whole number that he claimed belonged between 3 and 4. He was arrested for trivializing the integers.
A short time later a Palestinian detainee claimed that Israel's policy of reserving 92% of the land for the Jewish people made it mathematically impossible to achieve equality with the Palestinians. He is now serving a ten-year sentence for denying the decimals.
Given the growing threat to objective numerical truth, Rihab Hanafi has been placed in solitary confinement and her website arguing her case has been removed from the world wide web. ADL officials stated yesterday that thousands of innocent victims around the world have been led astray by her multiplication deviance over the years. The Hanafi family lawyer responded that if Enron can proceed on the basis that a negative plus a negative is a positive then there is no reason his client can't bring "creative accounting" to the multiplication tables. He will soon be charged with numerical anti-Semitism.
Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel, reached for comment at an international conference on Peace Through Guilt, said that the negative numbers fiasco highlights the terrifying fragility of quantitative truth. "Numbers are the foundation of civilization. Once we allow them to be questioned, only disaster can ensue. If Mathematics Denial is left unchecked, buildings will fall, bridges collapse, cities grind to a halt. Just think where we would be if Einstein had deliberately miscalculated e=mc2. World War II might never have ended."
Asked for an estimation of how serious the current situation is, he replied: "Today negative numbers, tomorrow the extinction of world Jewry. Never again."
A spokesman for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has spent years tracking down Nazi war criminals that escaped Allied prosecution at Nuremberg, added his opinion that, "Denying the properties of negative numbers is no different than denying that six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Next thing you know Deniers will argue that Hitler ADDED six million Jews to Europe with his death camps. Obviously, skepticism in any form is but a first step towards a repetition of the Holocaust."
Michael K. Smith is the author of "Portraits of Empire," "The Madness of King George" (illustrations by Matt Wuerker), and "Rise To Empire" (forthcoming), all with Common Courage Press.