Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Every day it seems like we hit a new bottom in the world of politics, a new "holy shit how is this even happening?" Couple weeks ago Brett Kavanaugh seemed like a travesty, but now we got the White House openly blaming the victims of pipe bomb attacks, despite, like, Trump's frequent endorsement of violence against reporters, the latest one a few days ago. And almost as awful, in my opinion, is the barely contained glee that liberals on social media seem to be expressing over the situation, the seeming victory lap they're running over everything they were warning about coming to fruition. These pipe bombs have just become the latest tool with which to bludgeon the other guy.
Meanwhile, one of these bombs could go off at any time. Meanwhile a copycat somewhere could see the havoc and decide they want in on the game. Some maniac's gonna decide to retaliate. And those theoretical pipe bombs aren't going to explode anywhere in the vicinity of a Clinton or a Trump, they're going to kill some poor lady in a USPS processing facility who has three grandchildren and is a week away from retirement. They're gonna dismember a kid walking past a mail truck. They're going to blow up some hero cop who puts herself in harm's way to protect others. And still the right will shriek "Lock her up" and still the left with post memes of Trump and Putin kissing, and still the right will blame the left and the left will blame the right and not one of those twats is gonna acknowledge their own role in fanning the flames of hatred and discord and violence.
Don't mistake this for a "blame on both sides" sort of argument. We're not the side with the Nazis and the Klan and openly racist rhetoric. This is a "someone has to be the rational adult" argument, and it's sure as hell not gonna be them.

So anyway, I was just thinking about some stuff I learned working at a group home for people with mental illness. And while I'm not diagnosing anybody with anything, you can't really deny that people who spend all day reposting wildly inaccurate memes and unsupported conspiracy theories aren't at least a little delusional. 
They say you should never argue with a delusion, because it only serves to make the delusion more entrenched and makes the person think you're part of the conspiracy. But you should also never indulge a delusion, for obvious reasons. A shrink once told me that his strategy was to ask questions that would help them discover the holes in their own logic. So like "It must be really scary to hear demon voices from your sink. I can't hear them though. Can your roommate hear them? What do you think it means if you're the only one who can hear them?" I don't know how that translates to convincing people who believe that George Soros and a migrant caravan did 9/11 and turned the frogs gay, I'll let you figure that out on your own.

So another thing I figured out working with troubled folk is that it is not possible to de-escalate a conflict by shouting louder than the person who is acting out. I guess the far right bad guys are already incredibly pissed - that's how they got so entrenched in this mentality in the first place. I know the fact that they're pissed isn't our problem and it sounds a lot like I'm saying that abused women should avoid abuse by being better wives, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that my plan going forward, when I try to engage hateful people, is to go in with a genuine desire to change their mind a little, rather than to be right. Because I'd prefer not to find out the next new bottom.
Let's see, what else did I learn working in group homes and such? If someone bites you, push into the bite rather than pulling away... that probably doesn't apply here. Nothing helps you find common ground like music and food. Kindness can be surprisingly contagious. Don't let people off the hook for being shitty to you, but also never let them see they got to you. Recognize the sacred in others, no matter how ensconced they are in profane. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

On Wednesdays we wear blue

I've got a beef about liberals for once. And since I'm only preaching to the choir anyway, here it is: stop acting like god damn playground bullies. Now I'm not talking about real, passionate acts of protest - I firmly believe the world needs more people brave enough to shout at senators in elevators, not fewer. I'm not talking about things like kneeling during the anthem either - if you can't see this gesture as the reverent form of peaceful protest that it is intended to be, then I don't know what to say to you. Climbing statues and confronting elected officials in public and committing acts of civil disobedience are all, to me, not just brave, but necessary if we're to bring about change, if we're to draw attention to the real folks being hurt every day by the toxic policies of the people in power. That's not what I'm talking about when I'm talking about bullying.
No. I'm talking about this sort of nonsense that liberals on social media post in every political argument and in response to every Trump tweet.

Like, just stop. After 2 years in office, we've all heard allll the Trump tiny dick jokes. They're not making anyone laugh, they're not convincing anyone of anything, they're just making us look childish and dumb and inarticulate and like we're unable to support our opinions with sound reasoning and logic. Personal attacks, name calling, all that, they're like big neon signs announcing "I have nothing of substance to say." That's not helpful. 
And for god's sake stop it with this horseshit:

Joking about how homophobes are secretly gay is not only infantile, the joke is built around the notion that being gay is fundamentally shameful, so that in attempting to scold someone for homophobia, you are, in fact, spreading homophobia. Members of the gay community have repeatedly asked straight "allies" - including Handler specifically - repeatedly to stop it with this lame punchline. Dude, if you're straight, freaking listen to the people you're supposedly allies with and just don't. If not because it perpetuates shame then because IT IS A VERY TIRED OLD JOKE AND NOT FUNNY TO ANYONE FOR GOD'S SAKE WRITE SOME NEW MATERIAL.

Y'all, we're supposed to be the good guys, and yet the "r" word gets tossed around freely by liberals in every big Twitter debate I happen upon. The other day someone on a local activism group I belong to used the word "republitard." Dude, that is so wrong. 1, because it's deeply offensive, and 2. because it's the stupidest sounding insult I've ever heard. What the hell is even wrong with you? Do your mommy and daddy know you're playing with the computer? 

To the liberals who are contributing to public debates with tired memes and grade school insults, I say please, please stop making us look like idiots. Just, go yell at people on a Twilight fan site or something. Social media offers us an opportunity unprecedented in the history of the world to have real, substantive discourse with people we'd never meet or interact with otherwise, people we have a chance of reaching an understanding with. But we can't do that with a bunch of bozos jumping up and down screaming stupid insults and seeing who can post the most offensive picture with text on it.

What I'm saying is: quiet down now. The grown ups are trying to have a conversation. 

Yes, this was triggered by the whole Kanye West thing. I don't have any special affection for the dude, except that his crazy speaks to my crazy. Like, I'm not qualified to diagnose what's going on with Kanye specifically, but I can say that people with mania often get to where they just can't stop talking, but they can't form a coherent sentence, and they jump from subject to subject, and it's near impossible to follow what they're saying. It's so frustrating and scary to feel this incredible urgency to communicate something and to have no one understand a word you're saying, and it makes me feel really sad that Kanye seems to be doing exactly that while all of society points and laughs and calls him stupid and uneducated and a minstrel and an uncle tom and worse. 
It doesn't make me sad for Kanye, so much as it makes me sad for all the people like me, who are getting to hear loud and clear what society really thinks of people like us.
The only acceptable mean Trump meme.