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Collateral damage, like its cousin terrorism, is a term denoting the politically-motivated killing of civilians. The difference is that while terrorism kills people who are very important, collateral damage kills people who are laughably unimportant.
Collateral damage is distinguishable from murder in that, while murder is illegal, collateral damage is hilarious. For example, upon committing murder, an acceptable response is "My God, what have I done?" Upon committing collateral damage, one is expected to exclaim "Holy shit, dude, did you just see all those fucking people I just fucking killed?"
edit A Structured and Diplomatic Geopolitical Analysis of the Phenomenon
Collateral damage is an asymmetric phenomenon. Unlike most acts of aggression, in which justice is supposedly "blind," in the case of collateral damage, the character of the aggressor and the victim is taken into account. Specifically, the following three questions are considered:
- Is the victim a sand nigger?
- Is the assailant wearing extremely tight American flag pants?
- Was there anyone around to report the assailant's assault on the victim, and if so, did the assailant deal with that problem?
If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," the act of violence can be reasonably considered collateral damage rather than terrorism. This is considered a Good Thing, as it helps remind people who is good in the world, and removes those of lower quality.
edit Scoring System
Under the U.N. Points System Charter of 1984, the score obtained for collateral damage is the same as that for friendly fire, except without loss of bonus multiplier. Furthermore, the friendly fire thirty second ceasefire and fall back 200 yards penalty does not apply in cases of collateral damage.
For point-impact collateral mortality such as death from gunfire, stackable multipliers no longer take effect - however, for splash damage such as explosives, napalm or really really hot soup, provided at least one of the dead is a bogey, you can use the simple explonentiation rule as explained in section 5.4.11 of the Charter.
However, one can still claim body count from collateral damage when claiming kill-frenzy vouchers at Wal-Mart. Similar promotions run throughout the year; keep checking the United Nations website for a comprehensive list.