Monday, April 12, 2010

“Bite Me” is Not an Argument

I’m concerned that I have begun to supplant meaningful responses to negative value judgments with my go-to idiomatic expression of discontent.  At least, so far,  this response has been limited to what goes on in my head (and, occasionally, on my shirt), but I fear that the more often I apply this idiom, even within the confines of my own thoughts (or under my coat), the more difficult it will be to live without the instant soothing satisfaction it offers me.

It’s like running cool water over a burn.   

I may be addicted.

The worst part is that because the expression has a back off – I don’t like what you’re saying sense, it sometimes lends its speaker (i.e. me) the vague notion of bad idea managed, when in fact, nothing of the sort has occurred.

While I have always been rather prickly and opinionated, I am becoming less and less interested in personally defending my freedom to act and think and live as I choose through the constant repetition of the basic principle of individual rights. This is particularly true when overwhelming statism is flung at me using a doubly-loaded sling shot of altruism and emotionalism from the left or right political perspective. Within the current climate of extreme political polarization, my imagined use of the slightly vulgar expression has increased tremendously. 

So why does this nonsensical nastiness so appeal to me?

First, it strikes me as a form of self-defense. I am never going to talk an altruist out of his supposed love for all mankind (excluding me, of course), as he is never going to talk me out of my love for myself and my values. When the altruist is my friend, I am inclined to let our differences lie and deliver the expressive afterthought as a means to scrub away any goo he may have attempted to throw upon my character.  It allows me to continue in a friendly manner as I let go of my anger and frustration.

Secondly, unlike the pat “We’ll just agree to disagree” that, it is argued, most reasonable people could conclude, “Bite me” gives me an imagined edge.  It provides a space and time to regroup but speaks of an intention to continue the offense.

I cannot, however, ignore the similarity of my use of the pseudo-decisive idiom to a form of self-deception. This, admittedly, does not reflect well on my argument. It is here where I need to weigh its instant gratification against its instant disqualification even when the battle takes place entirely within my own mind.   

If I have chosen to rely on the truth of my statements, then statements of truth I must continue to make.  I really have no interest in flinging crap back and forth, because regardless of the spirited volley, it’s still crap and must be judged and disqualified as such. I must stay on task. Other than providing me with a temporary shield against bad ideas and a reminder of my particular approach to those who would seek to destroy me, “Bite me” does nothing to further my real objective. 

What I really need is a good dose of moral endurance.


Stephen Bourque said...

You sound very discouraged. Don't lose heart. I think "Bite me!" is a perfectly natural response to the sheer saturation of madness around us.

I know firsthand that you pull more than your own weight in defending reason and liberty, so stop beating yourself up. Not every situation demands or even permits a full scale articulation of individual rights. Sometimes "Bite me!"--or one of the more colorful, less printable interjections that you come out with sometimes--is the best you can do.

Lynne said...

But you should know well, silence is a manifestation of my discouragement or confusion. My frustration, of which "Bite Me" is merely an expression, usually means I have something to learn, to overcome, or to change about myself.

This is a good thing.

Whether or not it's wise to work that out here is another matter. :)