“To admit you want to have a comeback means you have to admit you weren’t what you were supposed to be. You dropped below your own standard.” – Marilyn Manson
I found myself in a situation recently where the conversation got really good. You know those situations when everyone at the table is suddenly engaged, even when the topics scud about with merciless speed and then out of the blue there’ll be two, maybe three, different topics floating about at once and everyone is following everything? The sort of conversation where people can disagree but still value each other and people talk over the top of one another but with enthusiasm for the discourse rather than recourse to bullying? Good conversation that reminds an anti-social divorcee that people are great fun?
Well, that didn’t last long.
One of the guests made a statement. That’s ok. It was racist, xenophobic bullshit but I am not one to judge (stop laughing…). Keeping with the wonderful spirit of the occasion I countered with an alternative view and expected the tête-à-tête to continue with aforementioned enjoyment. But something strange happened. Everyone went quiet. It wasn’t what I said or how I said it. As far as I can deduce, it was the simple fact that I had disagreed with this one particular person. The person next to me actually “shooshed” me. Being a guest, as was this gentleman, I complied. I shooshed. For a time.
You see, they then gave him the floor. I knew there were people present as uncomfortable with what he was saying as I was, but still the floor was his. He was offensive, belligerent, and spoke with the sort of authority that only comes from a frightened person reverting to the kill-switch for fear: anger. And somehow his fear was creating an even greater fear in everyone else.
Everyone just sat there. I engaged with this man a couple of times and found that the angst of the table was directed at me! So I shut the fuck up. All of my comebacks are still festering in me. Later I was told that this man was very sensitive and had strong views. I was asked (told) not to respond. Just let it go, for everyone’s sake! It doesn’t matter! He’s old fashioned! Let it go! Right…ok. And more right. And some more. So much right I walked in fucking circles for a week.
I myself am sensitive. It helps to be when you are creating people to inhabit a made up world you want your readers to believe in for just a little while. Of course Creepy also came up in the tirade. He could understand why I was so “bleeding-heart liberal” (liberal in the American sense) – that was made very clear in the “shit I was peddling”. No response. We don’t want to upset the sensitive Right Wing nor those who are sensitive about it. And bringing up the Bible on top of everything else – well! Screw rational, evidentiary thought! Screw conversation – let’s just move onto the chicken wings…(“How are they coming along, darling?…)
Here’s what I’ve noticed: the Right Wing seems very sensitive to me. And even those who are not Right Wing are terribly sensitive about that sensitivity. My son said to me: “The only argument the right wing seems to have is that you can’t argue with them.”
So much for discourse.