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In search of an idiom: not-quite-killing Desdemona

Wall with writing on it saying "only dogs urinate here" in Indonesian
“THOSE WHO URINATE HERE ARE DOGS!!! FORBIDDEN TO URINATE HERE. WARNING!!! APART FROM DOGS, NO-ONE MAY URINATE HERE” – an example of Killing Desdemona because it defaces the area it’s trying to keep clean.

That death’s unnatural that kills for loving.

Shakespeare – Othello – Act V Scene ii

I’m in search of an idiom for “to destroy the thing you’re trying to protect.”

It’s not cutting off your nose to spite your face, it’s not killing the goose that lays the golden egg, and it’s not The Tourism Paradox. If you know a good phrase for this please let me know.

For now – imperfectly – please avoid “killing Desdemona“.

2 thoughts on “In search of an idiom: not-quite-killing Desdemona”

  1. “Arnettian”, perhaps, given that Peter Arnett was the original source of the quote which became “We had to destroy the village in order to save it” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Arnett]. We owe to Alice Cooper the album title “Love It To Death”. Perhaps there is also something in all this of the Pyrrhic Victory [https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory]; and also of Oscar Wilde’s lines from “Reading Gaol”
    Yet each man kills the thing he loves
    By each let this be heard,
    Some do it with a bitter look,
    Some with a flattering word,
    The coward does it with a kiss,
    The brave man with a sword!

    1. Thanks Robert!
      I think “Arnettian” is closest for this particular type of Phyrric Victory – not as vivid as I’m hoping for, but the best so far…

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...