Monday, November 16, 2020

Insults And Apologies

     Have you ever been insulted? Not differed with; not told that you’re ignorant of important facts; personally insulted, i.e., meaning that your intellect, ethics, or character have been disparaged. I’d imagine it’s happened to most people at least once.

     It can be maddening. The insulted one can be moved to behavior as low or lower than the provocation that elicits it. Oftentimes, both parties are filled with “woulda / coulda / shoulda” regrets and rewrites of the conversation at issue. The long-term effects can be cause for great and prolonged sadness.

     What’s particularly poignant about such events is how reliably they’re seen as avoidable, with the benefit of a cooling-off period and some candid hindsight. And indeed, an occasion for a justified insult is a truly rare thing. Not that justification makes an insult a good course to follow. Dale Carnegie probably clucks down from heaven whenever one comes to his attention.

     I’m no angel. I’ve done it, and more than once at that. I’ve been on the receiving end as well. I’ve known the regret-filled aftermath. I’ve also known the hopelessness of ever patching up the relationship sundered by the insult. It’s near to impossible, for a basic, easily understood reason that very few people ever reflect upon.

     No apology can close and heal the wound made by a true insult. The essence thereof is the implied premise: that the insulter – i.e., the person who delivered the insult – is the insultee’s intellectual, ethical, or moral superior, and that therefore, the former is entitled to judge the latter. How does anyone recover from that?

     Back when dueling was still licit de facto — to the best of my knowledge it was never legal here de jure — most duels were fought over personal insults. The old convention of dueling was that unless agreed otherwise beforehand, neither of the duelists would attempt to kill the other. The aim was to inflict humiliation. Wounds were to be disabling at most, but preferably painful or disfiguring. Satisfaction could come merely from having compelled the other party to face such fire. No wound need be inflicted; it need not come to anything more.

     Considering the amount of insult and venom in contemporary discourse, dueling might just be on the verge of a comeback. There are an awful lot of arrogant, self-righteous, and supercilious types out there, and they’ve angered an awful lot of folks.

     It's not looking good, Gentle Reader. People are talking about secession again. Were the differences between Left and Right mere matters of policy, we could find a way to get past our political differences in the name of social cohesion. But that hasn’t been the case for some years now.

     Forgive me, please. I’m in a “down” state of mind. Yes, it’s because of an insult delivered to me by someone who clearly thinks himself my superior. I don’t know him; he insulted me from behind an anonymizing moniker. I’m reasonably sure he doesn’t know me. But the sense of personal disparagement and belittlement is no less for that.

     File this among “Challenges to one’s Christianity.”


Mark said...

I've been reading your works (blog and fiction) for at least 10-15 years, now. Any insults to your intellect and clarity of thought are (at best) the result of envy on the part of the issuer. Or, an attempt to silence you (and the rest of us who feel the same way).

Your writings are part of my daily routine -- I can't imagine not being able to read through your ponderings (and those of the co-conspirators). Folks like the aforementioned cretin insult because they lack the intellectual capability to string any more words together.

Illegitimi non carborundum

Ragin' Dave said...

It's no longer a divide between policy differences, it's a divide between those would rule us, and we who say "No".

I would point out that this election was STOLEN. That means that the number of people who refuse to be ruled is still larger than those who would rule, and I expect that percentage is going to remain large, if not grow, in the coming years.

Will there be bloodshed? Possibly, even likely. People who I know and respect have predicted that for some time. I take comfort in knowing that I'm on the side of people who won't be ruled.