April 1, Birmingham, AL: A new software tool from the University of Alabama may help resolve the lingering confusion as to who is a dictator. Prof. Ted Snydman was inspired to develop his Automated Dictator Detector software (ADD) when he heard actor Sean Penn emphatically state that Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was not in fact a dictator.
“I had always thought of Chavez as a dictator, and I wondered how Mr. Penn came to his conclusions,” said the political science professor. “That is why I developed the ADD, to objectively determine who is a dictator.”
The ADD software analyzes video footage of individuals to correlate such dictator traits as lengthy rambling speeches, arm waiving, obesity in comparison to his fellow countrymen, and outrageous fashion sense. The software grades individuals on a percentage confidence scale.
Mr. Chavez, for example, scored a 98 on Snydman’s dictator confidence scale. His arm waiving speeches ramble on indefinitely about any topic except for Venezuela’s crippling electricity shortage and hyperinflation. His bright red clothes correlate well with someone who is out of touch with what regular Venezuelan’s wear. Finally, Chavez’s potato like physique suggests someone who is immune from the suffering of average Venezuelans.
“Hugo Chavez’s 98 score on the dictator scale clearly confirms that he is an elite cruel dictator who is willing to ruin his country to maintain power. I think Mr. Penn should consider my research into ADD before going further with his Chavez infatuation.”
Among Dr. Snydman’s other favorite dictators, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi scored especially high. “Interestingly, Gaddafi scored even higher on the ADD scale when we set the software for a female subject,” the researcher added.
Snydman sees further improvement in his ADD software. “We would like to consider people like N. Korea’s Kim Jong Ill whose isolation from reality has caused them to think they are of normal height instead of the pudgy midget trolls they actually are.” Sometimes Snydman’s ADD software simply does not work, as in the case of celebrity Rosie O’Donnell. “Even though O’Donnell appears to be an obese blathering fool with no connection to reality, the software scored her as a zero. It’s as if she is speaking in some foreign language that is beyond comprehension.”
Snydman was particularly fond of O’Donnell’s nemesis, Donald Trump. “While Trump’s overall ADD score was unimpressive, he earned a perfect score in megalomania, and self-satisfaction. We actually calibrated much of our software based on Mr. Trump.”
What of Mr. Penn himself? Snydman ran his ADD software on recent footage of Mr. Penn ranting about how his political enemies should die painfully from rectal cancer. “Mr. Penn ranks above average on our dictator scale, but his behavior is only 60% consistent with an insane third world dictator. He has the delusion that whatever he thinks is the unassailable truth, but his speeches are fairly short and to the point. I am afraid that Mr. Penn will need several years more development before anyone confuses him with a power hungry tyrant.”
Other celebrities also fail to make the dictator grade. While V.P. Al Gore scores high in obesity and detachment from the rules he would impose on others, Snydman says Gore peaked too soon. “While it is expected of dictators to make rambling nonsensical speeches, the Vice President should have consolidated his power before his insane claims about sea levels rising 20 feet.” Still Snydman says Gore has potential. “Anyone who expects people to take his environmental haiku poetry seriously has ADD potential.”
Snydman thinks his software can provide a valuable service to people all around the world. “For some reason, people rarely understand that their leaders are becoming megalomaniac dictators until it is too late. I hope my software will enable people to recognize the tell-tale signs of dictatorship while they still have the power to remove the junior tyrants from office.”
Signs of leaders in danger of slipping into dictators include: an ideological bent that makes the leader think he knows better than the majority of his people, a sense that the leader can run private institutions better under government control, repeatedly referring to new laws and regulations as “gifts” to his people, and a tendency to paint his political enemies as violent threats to his party’s safety.