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is all fair in love and war?

Posted by Smokey Stover on January 27, 2006

In Reply to: is all fair in love and war? posted by Bob on January 27, 2006

: : : : : is all fair in love and war?

: : : : Absolutely not. There are rules.

: : : Could Erika be asking about 'All is fair in love and war?'

: : ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR -- "The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war. The proverb has been traced back to John Lyly's 'Euphues' . First attested in the United States in 'Horse-Shoe Robinson' . The proverb is found in varying forms. The proverb is frequently used to justify cheating." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman ( Random House, N.Y., 1996).

: Which is why I repeat, absolutely not. There are many people who would, for example, trample on our civil rights, invade our privacy, claim the right to spy without judicial review, blow away centuries of traditions about search warrants, while wrapping themselves in the flag of "we're at war, so anything I say goes." If they make the right sort of pious noises, the yokels would never impeach them.

I haven't read Lyly's Euphues, but I'm not sure that proverb is the right word. Aphorism, yes. But I'm thinking that one of Lyly's characters might have used the expression to justify behavior that went beyond the permitted, without the approbation of the author. Perhaps instead of believing that the phrase is true, we should remind ourselves of that other "proverb," "good fences make good neighbors." When Robert Frost wrote that, he made it plain that it was not his belief, but that of his boorish neighbor. SS