Monday, June 4, 2018

Screed by Julie Kelly: Dear Ex-Friends in #TheResistance

There is nothing new here nor enlightening, I've seen Kelly's screed linked several places in my bookmarks, and read it, not particularly interesting either except for, yes, yes, here it all is all at once and you can have fun imagining yourself dredging up all this for your own devastating argument.

I know a guy who actually does this. I've seen him do it to other people, and it is awesome to behold. Right off, actually, to a cab driver who picked up another passenger and then took a convoluted route to his home, then overcharged him for a ride from the airport. He said nothing during the ride and dumped it all on the cabbie at the end while paying him. He ended by saying he intends to call his supervisor when he gets inside. The cab driver was so stunned he gave him his money back. So the ride was free. The sour mood lingered all day.

 Allow me a moment to describe the personality type that does this.

It starts with a bad mood. He ruminates all his objections. During this rumination he's taciturn and you cannot get a pleasant conversation out of him. Drinking exacerbates the mental state. He has his ducks all lined in a row, as drinkers tend to do, then pops them all off in sequence at his stunned victim in a screed of real beauty. I observed this, impressed while also knowing, if I know this guy long enough he'll do the same thing to me so brace yourself and be prepared for that. It's only a matter of time.

We worked together. Sure enough my day came. He barged in, strode straight up to me and unloaded his list of personal grievances. I thought, here it is, listen carefully to each item but don't address them. That would be argument, dismiss it for now. He was talking about what a pig I am. He had every picayune thing that bothered him for two years added up and dumped them on me all at once. He could have addressed each one as they happened but chooses instead to stew and allow things to add up. The items on his list got smaller and smaller and smaller until I said, "I've heard enough for now. I'll talk to you about this later." He stopped.

He left. I wrote down all that I heard before I forgot them. I was in college at the time, it's what we do. I have a response for each item. Frankly, each item was incredibly stupid and small and very easy to respond to reasonably. I knew his list of objections thoroughly, his screed from beginning to end. The next day I reviewed with him each of his items in succession just as he delivered them to me. His uncomfortableness on hearing how stupid he sounds was visible. He's always stunned people with this crap communication technique and no one has ever talked back. Then I finished with a line that I've heard my entire life growing up from my dad, a rather good line, but Dad overused it. Dad actually berated us with this line. And decades previously I thought, I'm going to use this line but unlike my dad I'll use it only once so that it keeps its power. And now is the time. "And I must say, all this sounds very strange to my ears, coming from you as it does, considering you've monopolized every goddamn flat surface in this whole place."

And he did monopolize every flat surface. Exceedingly organized and anal retentively, but still, his correspondence arranged just so, his important papers arranged just so, his magazines arranged just so, his clippings just so as he did in his overlapping style and in rows across entire tabletops in accordance with their importance. But all his things that nobody else could touch or we'd disrupt his organization style. Like a dog pissing on every single tree, marking his territory, marking his path, he loaded every tabletop. And I never complained about that.

Then I never have heard the end of that. The line that Dad overused but that I used only once is now repeated to me again! Apparently it struck a nerve. Forever since then, and he still does it when I see the guy, "remember that time you told me that I monopolize every flat surface? Ha ha ha ha ha. Cuz it's true. I did that." First my dad repeated the phrase endlessly and now this guy repeats the phrase endlessly. And I have only myself to blame for the torment of the repeated phrase.

Julie Kelly's screed is like this. It's a rumination of all she objects to power-packed into one gigantic punch. It's clever and enjoyable to read but it does not promote understanding nor is it good actual communication between parties.

And it's easy to poke holes into. Example:
As the whole charade you have been suckered into over the last 18 months starts to fall apart—that Trump would not survive his presidency; he would be betrayed by his own staff, family, and/or political party; he would destroy the Republican Party; he would be declared mentally ill and removed from office; he would be handcuffed and dragged out of the White House by Robert Mueller for “colluding” with Russia—let me remind you what complete fools you have made of yourselves. 
Great lineup. But charades is a game played in silence. This is all done clamorously.
We already knew about misconduct at the Environmental Protection Agency. We already knew that politicians gerrymander congressional districts for favorable election outcomes. We already knew that citizens from certain countries had restricted access here. 
But American politics became a whole new thing for you.
Politics is a very old thing for them. They didn't have to organize resistance. They came pre-organized. They simply let it all hang out.

And so on. Enjoyable to read but not useful. I'm linking it because I saw it again on the Canadian site, Small Dead Animals and the post got a very large reaction over there with 163 comments. Actually, the comments are more interesting than the original diatribe.

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