And Now the Trigger Warning: I’m Not Writing for the Meek and Mild

(Trigger Warning: If strong language and discussion of any kind of abuse upsets you, you may not wish to read even one word further.)

I’ve had it with overly sensitive people who find metaphorical comparisons to objectionable things, people or acts worthy of censorship and opprobrium.

I have written two essays in the last two months that generated more criticism for my choices of metaphor and satire than for their arguments. I’m not a novice writer, nor am I stupid. I know exactly what the rhetorical strategies were intended to do, and I don’t apologize for either. They were fairly well-executed essays.

My readers on Daily Kos didn’t read the essay that way. Eight out of ten of them thought I was making light of domestic abuse. Umm, no. Not in the least.

One was a satirical letter from Antonin Scalia’s murderer, clearly a mob guy who was owed money. I wrote the essay not to imply that Scalia was a crook but rather to use the persona to tamp down Donald Trump’s attempts to get mileage in the press out of Scalia’s demise. Trump was beginning to push the whole conspiracy bullshit blah blah blah, and the press was there when he said it, of course. My intention with the essay was to deliver the punchline, from the point-of-view of a jaded mob assassin, that we should

“…stop listening to nut bags trying to say it was more mysterious than me killing someone over money owed. It was, as I said, business.

Now get on with yours, you idiots.”

That tiny and innocuous bit of black humor/satire was taken off of Daily Koswithin the day because it apparently made fun of someone who died. The actual intent of the piece, as often happens with satire, was ignored in favor of a literal reading.

Jeezus God. Seriously?

A few weeks later, I wrote an essay about Hillary Clinton, this time implying that her repeated lies and political deviousness were indicators of an abusive relationship with the American public. I drew a comparison between the blatant lies and mischaracterizations perpetuated by her surrogates on her behalf — all targeted at Bernie Sanders — with domestic abuse. Those instances featuring Gloria Steinem, Madeleine Albright and John Lewis were all followed by public apologies. And then Clinton herself followed them all with the now infamous hagiography of Nancy Reagan, saying that Mrs. Reagan helped start “a national conversation” about the AIDS epidemic. Less than 48 hours later, Clinton issued a public apology for the faulty and stunningly misguided statement.

The seriousness of political abuse needs to be seen as equally or even more destructive than things like domestic abuse. The actions of the political abuser are no less callous or brutal in their effects than those of domestic abusers.

My point was that Clinton (and her husband) have been noted, particularly in the light of this presidential campaign, as a candidate that makes really bad choices, and then apologizes for them. Supporting NAFTA and TPP. Backing the 1994 crime bill. Publicly supporting welfare reform that has devastated the poor and working classes. At what point, I was urging readers to ask themselves, do we realize that we are being taken for fools, abused on a grand scale, and hurt dramatically by the decisions and callous assumptions of a corporate-owned politician.

My readers on Daily Kos didn’t read the essay that way. Eight out of ten of them thought I was making light of domestic abuse. Umm, no. Not in the least.

Of course, the point of the essay does come out in some way because of their reactions. They tried to make the comparison seem too harsh: Clinton’s repeated lies aren’t really that bad. Actual domestic abuse is too vile to compare to these trivial political abuses. Just like the victims of domestic abuse often do, these people were minimizing and excusing the political abuse.

Other readers of the essay clearly required a trigger warning. They were emotionally troubled just by the subject of domestic abuse being raised. I suspect the essay’s title, “This Is Becoming Abusive, Hillary” wasn’t indication enough that the subject might be broached. The picture of Marlon Brando as the abusive Stanley Kowalski was likewise insufficient.

Let me say that I come from a family that was disrupted by emotional and physical abuse. I am well aware of how troubling and serious it is. I in no way take it lightly. That assumption was erroneous and unfounded. Because I know it first-hand, I made the comparison fully cognizant of how serious my accusation regarding Clinton was. Pulling punches was not my goal. The seriousness of political abuse needs to be seen as equally or even more destructive than things like domestic abuse. The actions of the political abuser are no less callous or brutal in their effects than those of domestic abusers. Minimizing such acts has led us where we are today, a political and legal environment that gives politicians and their corporate supporters little more than wrist slaps for destroying the environment, impoverishing millions of Americans, and imprisoning over 2 million others. These same people keep telling us that we just don’t work hard enough to succeed. And then they ignore us until they get caught up in their next lie. At which point, they pooh-pooh our concern and tell us it’s nothing serious. No one got hurt.

Criticize me if you want to, but I won’t hold my tongue, nor will I soften my words. I’m angry at the inequities our government perpetuates against its people, people who often trust that government far too much. I don’t believe that we should be so polite about this either.

But people do get hurt. The American social security net is hanging by threads, and our citizens are falling through it at unprecedented rates. Yet politicians are vying for the Presidency on platforms of the same old do-nothing-hate-minorities-you-gotta-work-hard-like-us-millionaires bullshit.

So yeah, I fucking meant that metaphor. The destructive impact of political abuse is dead fucking serious. It isn’t something to be taken lightly.

I appreciate that people can be sensitive. I appreciate that people may have endured traumas that impact them. I am one of those people. However, if you think I should not say what is on my mind because you can’t stomach it, I suggest you just ignore any essay with my name on it. Criticize me if you want to, but I won’t hold my tongue, nor will I soften my words. I’m angry at the inequities our government perpetuates against its people, people who often trust that government far too much. I don’t believe that we should be so polite about this either.

I hold the same contempt for corporate media when it tries to manipulate the news rather than report it. When self-idolizing egomaniacs get 23 times the news coverage of someone like Bernie Sanders, that’s fucking wrong, unethical and contemptuous of the public trust. If you don’t get mad about things like this, it will most certainly continue.

Let me be clear though. I’m not nor have I ever encouraged violence or hatred of people. I am furious at a system and the particular players in that system that abuse the majority for their own benefit. Specific individuals are to blame and should be held accountable. I encourage scrutiny, honest scrutiny, of those people’s actions. If that scrutiny is discouraged or censored by the media or the government, then whoever does the discouraging or censoring deserves our contempt and harsh judgment.

Am I being too harsh myself? I don’t think so.

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