Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Don't take this the wrong way...."

Don't you love the conversations that include phrases like this: "Don't take this the wrong way" or:

"Why are you being so defensive?"

or

"I was just kidding. Man, can't you take a joke?"

or

"I'm sorry if you were offended."

or

"That's a distraction."

or

"You misunderstood."

or

"Sweetie......."

Any one of these phrases comes at you and you just know you're in for it. Politicians are particularly adept at wielding these verbal swords. The point of the slicing and dicing is to end the discussion, circumvent argument and keep control of the dialogue.

Let's just examine the phrase, "don't take this the wrong way" as an example. What, exactly, is the wrong way? The way where the person on the receiving end thinks the person spouting the bilge is a jerk? The way in which the person venting hides behind the phrase because he is saying something hurtful and means it to be hurtful but doesn't want the inconvenience of the recipient actually acting hurt? The way being that the person sharing his perspective is actually avoiding saying what he truly feels and says something shitty but qualifies it so he can attempt to make the other person look weak and lame instead of himself? Is that the way that's "wrong"? This little phrase is verbal Jujitsu that gives the communicator carte blanche to say whatever is rolling around his head. Any response other than, "You're absolutely right and furthermore your rightness is so right that it just highlights my wrongness", is deemed "the wrong way" to take what has been said. How convenient!

It is called passive aggression. It is called controlling. It is bullshit.

Some people, politicians in particular, believe they can say whatever they like. They seem shocked when people actually question them and work very hard employing phrases like those cited above to ensure that the challenging never happens.

So Barack Obama can, with a straight face, claim that any unwanted question is "a distraction". He can bully the press because he doesn't want them questioning his wife's public statements. He wants her to be able to use the press to get her message out, but he doesn't want the press to question her statements so he hides behind the "leave my wife alone" defense.

Hillary and Bill have taken this modus operandi to an art form. This election cycle they are shocked and offended because, well, this questioning is just so new. Back in the day, their magnificence wasn't ever questioned. They received blind adoration. Times have changed. And much to their chagrin, the press isn't in their hip pocket. In fact, the press is in someone else's hip pocket and the only thing standing in the way of what the press wants is Hillary Clinton. So the love fest is over. It' so unfair when unfairness is pointed at her. It's sexism!

Word to the wise: When those phrases are used on you, it feels so shitty because it is shitty. You're being manipulated. And Americans are being manipulated by Obama and the media and would be manipulated by Clinton, too, if anyone was paying attention to her, but of course, they're not.

It's okay, sweetie. You'll get used the manipulation. By the end of Obama's term, you'll come to love it.

3 comments:

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