The Weaponizing of Hurt Feelings (Part One)

It’s no longer at all original to comment upon the “snowflakes” among us: terminally spoiled late adolescents symptomatic of our lobotomized college community with their demands for safe spaces, comfort animals, and freedom from threatening speech.  I have chronicled more times than a faithful reader would care to recall my personal run-in with these anemic ghosts of intellectual limbo.  My casual use of the word “suicide” compromised an advanced class in English grammar for the rest of the semester, and in some ways the cloud never cleared between me and the “affected” students.  Naturally, I understand that there are many more severe cases cropping up everywhere.  A petition is circulating around the University of Toronto to dismiss Jordan Peterson from his position, not because of what he has said, but because of what he refuses to say: the nonsensical, idly concocted pronoun “ze”.

So there are certain things we must not say lest they have distressing connotations for someone somewhere; and then there are certain things we must say, because not to say them is to imply a disapproval that makes certain people “feel hurt”.  If I’m teaching a Latin class and a need for the word “black” arises, I had better opt for the poetic ater instead of the commonplace niger—or else I risk ending my career (which, mercifully, has now in fact ended).

Say that the Green Movement should decide that everyone must wear a green streak down his/her/zits left sleeve to show “solidarity with the planet” (whatever the hell that would mean—these phrases never mean anything coherent); then I must produce a green streak on the proper sleeve.  If I wear none, then I want to see us all poisoned.  If I streak my right sleeve, then I’m mocking the movement and giving the bird to the endangered Horned Owl.  If I’m a woman in a sleeveless dress (or a man who feels like wearing such a dress that day), then I’d better reconsider… or, at the very least, paint a green streak down my bare epidermis.

Not to salute at the moment scripted for the masses to salute is fatal.  Not to give the right salute is fatal.  To salute close-mouthed, without voicing the party’s condensed two-syllable slogan, is fatal (for cameras are rolling somewhere, and you will be detected).  To move one’s mouth for the cameras without actually saying anything might prove fatal (for party loyalists on either side of one might quickly become a lynch mob of righteous zealotry).

This is our brave new world.  Notice how I have already veered from the passive to the aggressive. The wilting cringe that follows when Cisalpine Gaul reminds young Chelsea over there of “kiss”, which reminds her of a bad date, which reminds her of how cruel the male sex is… the neurotic wave-effect of such occasions, I say, has now become a phalanx of clenched fists demanding the ban of the word “he” from campus.  Our fading flower, in other words, has mutated into a prickly cactus—and even into one of those tropical fly-catching plants that snaps up whatever haplessly buzzes in its vicinity.

I’m sure that this insight, too, isn’t terribly original… but it hadn’t really occurred to me until this past week, or at least had only been fuming in the beaker without crystallizing.  Psychologically, you see, it has really thrown me back on my heels.  I’ve known plenty of spoiled-brat kids who can’t face up to worldly realities—but I would never have fused their profile with that of the foul-mouthed, brick-throwing “revolutionary”.  A feminist might say that I have been held captive by my prejudices, and she/he/ze might be right.  I conceive of the wilting flower as overwhelmingly female and the fecal-friendly Yahoo as overwhelmingly male.  My recent experiences of being called an “idiot” by people I don’t know on Twitter seem to bear this out.  Male Twitterbirds like to shower those beneath their tree with deposits of “idiot”, “stupid”, and “stupid idiot” before passing on to words that I can’t reproduce here.  The female of the species seems much more likely to accuse one of enslaving or slaughtering millions with one’s views, like the aiai oimai wailing chorus of a Euripidean tragedy.

Yet having said this, I also sense a change.  Let us stay with Twitter for a moment.  Dana Loesch, who has put herself squarely in the crosshairs of the leftwing intimidation machine by defending the Second Amendment, receives almost daily threats upon herself and her family… but largely of the veiled variety, when they come from ostensible males.  Her children will be forever reviled and ostracized, she is told—or else her opponent in this “community forum” expresses the pious hope that her kids will be attending the next school to be shot up.  As I say, these passive threats come from what biology would be forced to call the male of the species.  To the female fall the pleasures of showering Dana with the linguistic spittle of a drunken sailor.  “Comedians” like Samantha Bee and Michelle Wolf (I couldn’t pick either of them from a line-up, but their voices appear to resonate for some reason) unleash comments—usually about other women—that blend sexual obscenity with coprology and fifth-grade narrative talent.  A really badly reared and socially stunted adolescent boy is the typical author of such utterances, in my experience… but now they flow from publicly celebrated female figures, and other females in the chatter-class cheer them on.

Has the morbidly vulnerable sensitive plant, then, interbred with the hell-raising sociopath because we have inverted gender roles—not erased them, but inverted them?  The more I think about this formula, the more justified it appears to me: not because I understand it at this point, but because it describes what I see.  The flurry of female ruffled feathers in my grammar class didn’t project any inclination to tears or deep, silent pouts.  These were killer-sparrows from an Alfred Hitchcock nightmare.  A rational explanation on my part wasn’t enough.  An abject apology (which I didn’t offer—not for a remark no more hurtful than, “You could have knocked me dead”) wouldn’t have been enough.  Upon reflection, I think the terms of the truce would have run something like this: “You agree hereafter that you are a person of diminished sensibilities who will continue to utter offensive remarks despite yourself, and who will therefore stand in constant need of our sufferance.  We agree, for our part, to tolerate you only to the extent that you admit to the moral inferiority inherent in your nature.”

Or, to put it a little more succinctly, “Shut up!  No, don’t open your mouth to explain.  Are you trying to speak?  What did I just tell you?  Shut up!  SHUT THE **** UP!”

This is how educated young women, increasingly, are “interacting” with their adversaries in public.  It’s been going on a while.  I’m only now, I confess, reading the copy of Professing Feminism that Daphne Patai sent me about twenty years ago… and the book is full of such incidents in Women’s Studies programs of the late Eighties and early Nineties.  Perhaps my comfortable exile in the backwaters of academe insulated me at that time.  Now the piranhas have swum upstream and populated every puddle.

Meanwhile, “men” are copying the feminine style of grievance and victimhood ever more often.  Even school shooters are turning out to claim intolerable bullying as a motivation.  The Mahdi of the anti-gun holy war is David Hogg, holding his slender feminine fist aloft and leading curious chants about defenselessness.  “Protect us!  We cannot protect ourselves, and we shouldn’t have to!  We won’t endure this vulnerability any longer!  We’ve had enough!  Put down all your guns and make us feel safe… or we’ll write down your name and make your life hell on earth!”

And thereafter follows an online shaming and slandering campaign that would lead a less stalwart, more adolescent character than Dana Loesch to… commit suicide.

In the not-too-distant future, will there be a David Hogg shooting the stuffing out of an NRA convention?  Hasn’t that already happened—didn’t something in the genre occur in Las Vegas?  We know that Stephen Paddock was a leftwing-fringe type who thought that Country Music and NASCAR fans needed to die in large numbers.  How different is this from the Hogg message?

So the offended people are now out for blood… and the blood-soaked mass-murderers are now victims of hurt feelings.  I’m not at all sure what’s going on here—but I’m certain that it’s insane, and I’m convinced that it is a manifestation of genuine evil.  I’ll try to parse it a little better next time.  For now, I can do no better than extend Jordan Peterson’s observation.  Forcing me to say or write certain words and never say or write certain others is an implicit species of violence, and not a normal expression of wounded sensibility.  Choosing words carefully is what you do in a civil society; demanding that others banish Word X from their thoughts because it clashes with your subjective vision of harmony is maniacal despotism.

(Since I will be preoccupied with the chore of moving from one state to another throughout this coming week, I’ll post Part Two tomorrow and then go silent for a while.)

Author: nilnoviblog

I hold a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (Latin/Greek) but have not navigated academe very successfully for the past thirty years. This is owed partly to my non-PC place of origin (Texas), but probably more to my conviction--along with the ancients--that human nature is immutable, and my further conviction--along with Stoics and true Christians-- that we have a natural calling to surmount our nature. Or maybe I just don't play office politics well. I'm much looking forward to impending retirement, when I can tend to my orchards and perhaps market the secrets of Dead Ball hitting that I've excavated. No, there's nothing new (nil novi) under the sun... but what a huge amount has been forgotten, in baseball and elsewhere!

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