Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Personal Insults R Us

I don't know if anyone reads the comments here, but I was accused of ... well, not accused, that's too strong. We've been having a friendly conversation. Straw men and compliments. But it was said that I put forward a personal insult in this post. This is incorrect - it may have been offensive, but it wasn't personal. That someone may read it and choose to take it personally is something that is totally beyond my control.

The same person who said this - hi, Patrick!! - also seems to be laboring under the misapprehension that I am a nice person here on the blog and that I want to be seen as polite and objective here. (Puttin' words in his mouth, oh yeah!) This is incorrect. I don't know where he got this idea. But I want to make sure to correct it asap.

I've got the perfect topic here too, it's so great. I just watched an episode of Bullshit, it was about romance, and one of the people they interviewed was 'Dr' John Grey. You want to talk about personal insults ... here's what that looks like. What an unbelievable incredible douchebag!!!! I have to say this in Norwegian too, it just has such a special ring to it. Den fyren må være den største klysa på hele planeten. Just the way he looks annoys the shit out of me. Not to mention the way he walks, and then when he starts talking, FUCK ... !!! You can just tell that he's so full of shit before he even opens his mouth. And everything he says is totally retarded. But the worst part is the thought of the people who actually pay money for the shit he's spouting. I call him retarded, he's obviously not, it's just a figure of speech ... but his customers really must be mentally challenged. Up until now I had only just read about this guy, this was my first time seeing him moving and talking. But hearing him now, wow ... I don't understand how anyone would buy a word of it. Those people must be desperate. For what? I know ... I don't get it either ... but there must be something in them that really needs to get some validation from someone, anyone; someone to tell them what to do. No matter how fucking dumb it is.

He's kind of like a fortune teller, because they also just tell you something painfully obvious and then act like it's some kind of mysterious wisdom. If you have the conscience to live with yourself, it's a pretty sweet deal, I guess, cause there's one born every minute. Or actually, 267. I just don't understand how this guy can spout all that shit and still keep a straight face.

I wouldn't buy a second hand chair from that guy, I don't understand how someone can even consider taking life advice from such a massive douchebag. And then even give him their money. I despair of the human race.

But I would totally read Penn and Teller's self-help book, Men Are From Westchester, Women Are From Hoboken. ;-)


Anonymous said...

"The same person who said this - hi, Patrick!! - also seems to be laboring under the misapprehension that I am a nice person here on the blog and that I want to be seen as polite and objective here. (Puttin' words in his mouth, oh yeah!) This is incorrect."

So, you have no interest in being objective or courteous. OK, but why should anyone take your thoughts seriously then?


Leisha Camden said...

You and your straw men ... can't help but feeling that I'm starting to get a teensy bit tired of 'em now ...

you have no interest in being objective or courteous.
I did not say this. What I said was that being objective and polite is not the purpose of this blog. See the difference there?

OK, but why should anyone take your thoughts seriously then?
Show me where I've said that anyone should??

Before commenting any further here, will you just please READ THE DISCLAIMER already ... !!!

Paz said...

BTW I still read but did not comment after seeing the comments and replies. Been tired of late and have not the mental energy to formulate a comment.
In case you have not seen this http://alphadesigner.com/project-mapping-stereotypes.html

Anonymous said...

I read the "about me" section, and the "note on language section" as well as the "a message" section where you state you don't care if anyone is offended. And I have no problem with any of that. If there was another disclaimer that I missed then I'm sorry.

I said "you have no interest in being objective or courteous". You said "I did not say this. What I said was that being objective and polite is not the purpose of this blog."

OK, but this is a very, very fine distinction then. Your blog's purpose is not concerned with objectivity, but perhaps you personally are? So, if I were to ask you a question should I expect objectivity from your answer or not?

I took your statement "...also seems to be laboring under the misapprehension that I am a nice person here on the blog and that I want to be seen as polite and objective here" as meaning that
you weren't interested in being polite or objective. Maybe I read that wrong, but I'm not sure
what other meaning could be taken from it.

Look, Leisha Camden, I have no desire to be an annoyance to you or your blog. I disagreed with you on your post about Obama and the US election. I think you got that all wrong. But this is your blog. You call the shots. If you're a teensy bit tired of me, then give me the word and I will disappear.


Calyx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calyx said...

A very fine example of creative use of insults....I read your original post and all the comments too. You are getting better every day! Very commendable :)

Kudos to you and Patrick for beautifully demonstrating the cultural differences between Norway and the US.

On a side note, I started thinking about Elizabeth Moon's "Citizenship" post, here http://e-moon60.livejournal.com/335480.html, and the huge controversy it caused. Basically she said a lot of important stuff about the duties of the citizen, and then totally sidetracked into something pretty racist. The really interesting thing was all the other blog posts that resulted from this one, and which really brought home to me how polite and respectful Americans are of other people's point of view, even if they don't share it. They really show respect for every opinion, no matter how batty.

Which just goes to show that there will always be a home for the factually challenged.

Btw, that was not aimed at you. Patrick. I wonder what would happen if Americans stopped being so polite and really started debating stuff again?

Anonymous said...


I'm not really interested in insults, creative or otherwise. I take politeness as a given for any worthwhile conversation.

I don't believe Americans are more polite than anyone else. They are debating things back and forth over here now, and it's not polite, believe me.


Calyx said...

"I'm not really interested in insults, creative or otherwise. I take politeness as a given for any worthwhile conversation."

But I do. Creative use of insults is a fine art that combines a powerful temper, a certain idealism and really good language. The European champions must be the British, for example Morrissey.

I remember a radio programme once, that was devoted to the history of insults. As far as I remember, some Khan or other told some local prince to move over and give up his country, whereupon the prince wrote a long and detailed letter overflowing with insults, one of which was "May 10 000 camels drag you through Hell by the short and curlies" (my eupehemism). In other words, a long and proud tradition :)

"...it's not polite, believe me."

Who is not polite? I have a feeling the impoliteness is not evenly distributed. I am, like Leisha, totally aware that the European media would really like to believe that Obama is a lot more progressive than he really is...but he sort of seems.... sane? Is that a description you may agree with?

"George Bush, the whitest of white presidents, took a ton of shit from the press, week in and week out, during his whole term as president.. He was called, and perhaps rightly so, the stupidest president in US history. He was ridiculed and made fun of night after night on David Letterman and other popular TV shows. Obama hasn't seen that degree of negative media yet. "

I don't know what to say....Bush got a ton of shit because he deserved it. On what scale is starting two wars, bankrupting the country, sabotaging the environment and creating an international climate of hate comparable to having trouble ending wars someone else started and being slow at fixing an economic crisis someone else started? Forgive me if I think everything is fucking relative in the US.

Anonymous said...


Yes, satire, parody, insult. It can be good stuff, artistic, witty and entertaining. I love it in comedy clubs, street demonstrations, in the UK House of Commons, etc. What I tried to say with my "I'm not really interested..." line was that if you want to have a worthwhile conversation, or perhaps even tempt a larger audience to rethink an argument or assumption, then insults are pointless.

Most political debate I see is highly polarized. People are staking out their political turf and then simply insulting, demeaning and trivializing their opponents. It can be fun to watch for those who are already on your team. But beyond that I don't see the value.

Maybe in the original post I commented on Leisha's intent was only to vent her frustrations with the US election, deliver some political slams and leave it at that. OK, fair enough.

I never took the insult as directed at me personally, Patrick. She made it clear she didn't know who I was prior to that post, which really, how could she? So, no problem on the personal front.

When someone makes an unkind remark about some of my neighbors, there's a 50/50 I'll speak up in defense. That's what I did. I read the institutional/ideological vs. personal insult distinction, Norwegian whaling and all. That was interesting and I accept the point she's making. I concede that.

But on the larger issue of insults, I still look at it differently than lots of others. I really dislike the insult mode. It's all over the place and there's way too much of it.

What's disappointing to me is the sheer quantity of advocacy by insult. I think 90% of all political discussions on the internet are not worth the time to read, same with all the atheist/religious, evolution/creationism, muslim/anti-muslim arguments. Even with those discussions which don't descend into outright name-calling, which is an ever decreasing percentage, it's simply each side drawing a line in the sand and shooting off their best rhetorical arrows at their opponents.

No one wants to argue honestly. No one is open to the arguments of the other side. No one's position changes. It's just a verbal duel to the death, artistic and delightful, but we might just as well listen to drunk football fans of opposing teams shout at each other. I hate argument with insult.

Now, I want to say what Leisha writes on this blog does NOT fit that description. I really want to stress that. Over the years I've found her to be thoughtful and she presents very interesting posts and arguments. That's why I read this blog. I de-lurked this one time over one post.

On the political stuff you mentioned, Clinton/Bush/Obama, who's responsible for the wars, the economy etc. those are huge discussions that are impossible to address in the comment section of a blog. There's just too much there to deal with. I only wanted to comment on the US election/insult issue.

But I do want to respond to just one point you made:
(patrick, continued)

Anonymous said...

After my mentioning that Bush was treated to an avalanche of negative press week in and week out and, up to recently, Obama hasn't been the recipient of that, you said:

"I don't know what to say....Bush got a ton of shit because he deserved it..."

Putting aside the particulars of Bush's/Obama's policies for the moment, what I took from your statement, and I apologize if I got it wrong, was that Bush deserved his criticism but Obama doesn't.

To me that seems like just a different way of saying that you approve of Obama's policies but not Bush's. That's fine. But there are those who sincerely disapprove of Obama's policies as well, and that's what we just saw in the recent US election. Bush was treated poorly by the press, and now Obama is beginning to see some of that.

When the public disagrees with you, that's what you get. So, Bush versus Obama criticism, I don't see the difference one way or the other.

Take care,

Leisha Camden said...

A lot of interesting points to answer in these comments and finally some time to address them ... :-)


This is the disclaimer I am referring to, top right hand corner:
Sometimes things are so crazy, out there and/or annoying that I just have to share it with someone somehow. Or I feel like I simply must record my thoughts on it for posterity. This is a good place to do that.
Take the contents of this blog seriously at your peril.

Yes, there may be a fine distinction, as you say. But present and important nevertheless. To me it's pretty obvious actually, I'm not sure I can agree that it's so very fine. I think those two things are obviously different.

So, if I were to ask you a question should I expect objectivity from your answer or not?
Um, not? If you ask me my personal opinion, then of course the answer won't be objective. I should think that would be totally obvious too. o_O If you ask me a factual question - how many times have you visited York, how big is it, etc, then yes, my answers will be objective. But if you ask me non-factual questions - what is the best restaurant you've visited there, is it a good place for a vacation, then of course I won't be objective. I couldn't be and still give meaningful answers to those questions. In fact I have to say that I don't think I quite understand your question, it doesn't really make sense to me. o_O

Just to make it clear: I'm happy to have you as a reader and I'm also happy that you've started to comment. Please keep it up. You're very articulate and you make some good points. I'm interested in hearing others' opinions. But straw men tend to get tiresome, that's all I'm saying. I'm sure you agree, since after all that was kind of what you took offense to in the post that started all this. :-) Please stick around - disagreement keeps things interesting. :-)

Leisha Camden said...

@Calyx: I think that the type of behavior you're referring to in the comment below the one I just replied to (whew!) isn't necessarily politeness as such, which Patrick took it to mean, but rather the insidious practice of giving equal time to all opinions ... ? Eg, if we hear an oncologist speak on new treatments for cancer, then we must also hear from some alt.med. idiot as well, in the interest of fairness? Because otherwise it's offensive or whatever to the alt.med. community ... they deserve respect, blah blah. Everyone's opinion is equal and we all have our own truth. That is such bullshit and while going with it may be construed as polite, IMO it's stupid and dangerous.

Anyway, am I reading you correctly? :-)

@Patrick: I think maybe that was what Calyx is getting at ... ? At least after I'd thought it over. :-)

Leisha Camden said...

What I tried to say with my "I'm not really interested..." line was that if you want to have a worthwhile conversation, or perhaps even tempt a larger audience to rethink an argument or assumption, then insults are pointless.

Yes and no.

It's definitely true, as far as I can tell, that the political debate in the US now has degenerated to such a point that sensible conversation about real issues seems impossible. This is actually rather tragic. I hope it isn't as bad as it seems. We are far more fortunate in this country, the crazies are a small minority (although rather vocal) ... but then again we don't have a fraction of the problems you have landed yourselves in.

Anyway, where was I ... oh yes, I disagree with the last part of your statement. That you can't get others to rethink their position in this way. An example: I don't know if you are familiar with the TV show The Atheist Experience ... ? I mention it every so often here on the blog. It's a local show in Austin, Texas. (Isn't the internet great?? :-) They will often rip into people something awful when they get a really crazy theist calling in. And they are sometimes asked whether they think that being so disrespectful and insulting will do anything to change that caller's mind (although they rarely are as bad as those asking this type of thing imagine). The thing is that they don't think that. What they do think is that there may be people, theists of whatever stripe, in the anonymous mass of viewers who, hearing the AE crew brutally dismantle the claims of other believers, may get the push they need to start examining their own religious beliefs and eventually come to the logical conclusions. And this really does happen. They get responses from viewers all the time confirming this.

Now, obviously, in this way they will only 'catch' those who are already in some way open to the arguments. They won't get through to the real crazies. They will just always feel offended - by real arguments, usually, as well as by actual insults. But that's the thing. Those people are a lost cause anyway. Fuck 'em. There's no hope for them. The only ones that can be saved, if you'll pardon the expression, are the ones who were only on the edge of the crazy to begin with. But they can actually be reached by the impact of insult on someone with whom they think they should identify.

It's like Ray Comfort and the people who read his blog. You can insult the former all you want, in fact it's all you can do, because he's so utterly beyond the reach of any argument, rational or otherwise. He's the stupidest person in the entire world. He's a liar and a cheat. These aren't insults, btw, just facts. If they were insults they would have to be more creative and elaborate. And while they could never hope to effect Ray himself, they could be a wake up call to those who follow his ... I hesitate to call it work ... and make them examine what it is that they actually profess to believe.

Leisha Camden said...

Thank you for the compliments in your second to last comment, I really appreciate hearing that. I hope you will continue reading the blog and get something out of it. But it's really important to understand that this is a personal blog that I keep for personal reasons. Because I have things I want to share with the world - thoughts, opinions, pictures, stories, links, etc. And feelings. Mostly feelings of frustration and aggression. :-) Sometimes - or, to be honest, often - I will read or hear or see something that I find unbearably stupid, or offensive, or that makes me angry or sad ... and I wanted some way to be able to vent those frustrations easily. Partly because I live alone, so that there's no one here around the clock into whose ear I could spew my frustrations ... but mostly because my friends pretty much agree with me about most things. Or I agree with them, whichever. So even calling one of them to bitch about it is kind of pointless because we'd just be agreeing with each other. (Seriously, you should listen to us sometimes. KAS especially, it's nuts. We can discuss things we totally agree on till four in the morning. :-) So I set up this blog, in part to have a place to vent about all the things that provoke me in my daily life. Personally I think that this ought to be very obvious to anyone who reads this thing over any length of time. It's a personal blog, I don't aim for objectivity. What I post here are my random thoughts & ponderings and they are not objective, nor are they intended to be objective. And you know what - I think everyone who reads them would find them much less interesting and entertaining if they were. :-)