HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Sarcasm is the language o...

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:04 PM

Sarcasm is the language of the powerless. It trains our thinking to embrace powerlessness.

I was reading this article:
https://redtentliving.com/2017/02/23/the-day-i-ditched-sarcasm/


The Day I Ditched Sarcasm

“It’s not helpful right now to get sarcastic,” she said, and then continued, “You’re better than that, Natalie, more clever and kind.” I had been blindsided, completely unaware I was even being sarcastic. It had been a habit, a well-worn pattern for me when tension was high.

In the moment of our conflict, I felt threatened and afraid. But rather than acknowledge the fear (which requires way more vulnerability, thank you!) I chose a more dominating route: I picked up my sword and lashed out before my fear turned to helplessness. Obviously, this was not the first time I made this move.

Flashes of childhood moments when I felt powerless came to mind. Sarcasm was not foreign to me. I was drawn to this cunning form of combat – an effective way of protecting myself and demonstrating superiority at the same time. So, in the instant with my friend, I reached for what I knew and had used in order to survive. I rolled my eyes in disgust and secured myself, as if to say, “I’m above you and I refuse to be hurt by you.”


Words are powerful. They're important. They don't just express what we're thinking, but also shape how we think. The fancy word I'm looking for is paradigm, my frame of understanding. But too much of a frame becomes a box. And if I box in my thinking, I limit myself. I limit my power and I limit my room for growth.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE sarcasm. It's great for popping balloons, for accepting my helplessness and sharing the moment with a fellow oppressee. It's economical, which as a writer I adore. I think of the Spartan warrior who was threatened by an invading army with the boast, "Greek, our archers are so many that when we rain our arrows down upon you, they will black out the sun." The Spartan laconically responded, "Then we shall fight in the shade."

It was a brilliant response. But then all the Spartans died. In such a small dose, it sweetens a bitter moment. It can offer a little smirk in the face of death. But the soul of sarcasm is, like the plucky Greeks, embracing defeat. It's a surrender of hope for a better situation. It's not the dark side of humor; it's the lighter side of despair. So I like sarcasm in tiny doses. It can give perspective in tiny doses. But I loathe defeatism.

Sarcasm is a linguistic sugar, a syrupy sweet that rots the teeth if overconsumed. And yet it gives a certain rush of energy. But like sugar it weakens the muscles. Overused, it saps our natural anger at injustice. It too quickly festers into resentment and diverts our will to change. It turns off optimism, which I've always found to be the soul of the Democratic party. Our best moments come from when we as a party have inspired hope and progress.

I think of FDR and the New Deal, laughing at fear of starvation while 25% of the workforce was unemployed. Kennedy pointing at the moon and saying "Go there" when our totalitarian adversaries were already circling the Earth overhead. Johnson defying a generation of Jim Crow centered in his own backyard (and personal past) and proclaiming "We shall overcome."

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama grounded their winning campaigns on the simple message "HOPE" against smarmy Republican tactics of division and distraction. And sure, these were all imperfect administrations. Government spanning across a wealthy vast continent is always going to be messy and imperfect; it will have pockets of terrible abuses of power. From Roosevelt's internment policy to Obama's drones program relabeling every dead civilian a terrorist. From Johnson's Vietnam to just about every one of them supporting some pretty rotten human rights abusers around the globe.

But that only means the work of progressives isn't done. We need the fire of anger at injustice and we need the real muscle of determination to fix what's not yet right. Anger, if not balanced by hope and moral rectitude, can easily fester into hatred, as today corrupts so many conservatives. Or it can crust over into a resigned sarcasm, as unfortunately plagues too many embittered progressives.

I suggest to yall that sarcasm, if overindulged, becomes a self-weakening habit of mind. It's a sugar fix when your political body is craving protein and veggies. We need a good cause. We need clear and shared goals. Hell, we have great things to accomplish right before us if we can only find the way to see them and plot a steady path.

Democracy is a messy business. We're going to have to argue with each other a lot as we fumble our way toward a righteous cause. But I ask that we all belay the sarcasm--particularly if it points at our fellow pilgrims. But even temper it when it comes to those who stand in the way of a better country. I don't find the work "Rethuglican" to be any more obnoxious than what the Republican Party has come to represent. I don't tarnish Trump more by calling him names. I find the name "Trump" to be enough of a term of derision.

Okay, "Don the Con" is kind of funny. But I'm gonna need to practice the rhetorical habits of civil debate in coming months. I want this website to be a place to practice. DU is a great resource for arguments. But I need the wheels of my arguments to not be so caked over with sarcasm and scorn that I can't maneuver when it comes time to reach out to swing voters. As Michelle Obama reminded us, "When they go low; we should go high." That's not just about legalizing marijuana arguments (sorry) but good advice when the time comes to play to our core strength as a party this fall and in the spring and fall of 2020. Let us uplift. Let us inspire. Let us win over those who despair under Republican misdirection and hate-mongering.

Let us be Hope.

8 replies, 789 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Sarcasm is the language of the powerless. It trains our thinking to embrace powerlessness. (Original post)
Bucky May 2018 OP
DashOneBravo May 2018 #1
Bucky May 2018 #2
dalton99a May 2018 #3
backtoblue May 2018 #4
pbmus May 2018 #5
Bucky May 2018 #7
pbmus May 2018 #8
Girard442 May 2018 #6

Response to Bucky (Original post)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:07 PM

1. Yeah I'm betting that post will do real well here

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to DashOneBravo (Reply #1)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:08 PM

2. LOL

maybe it's all about timing Well done

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Bucky (Original post)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:14 PM

3. GOTV.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Bucky (Original post)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:24 PM

4. K&R

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Bucky (Original post)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:28 PM

5. Sarcasm works because .....

The obvious Doesn’t .....

You can smack someone in the face for so long your hand becomes numb,

but sarcasm can do the job in record time without lifting a finger....

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pbmus (Reply #5)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:55 PM

7. Agreed

Like I said, in moderate doses, it can be very efficient at creating perspective. It's a way to bond over frustration.

But you're fooling yourself if you think sarcasm doesn't easily turn into another form of "smacking someone in the face". It's a big turn off to people who don't know you. Which is, of course, a self defeating process in a political year.

Please use with caution. One weakness of smart people is that we're not always as clever or as understood as we find ourselves to be.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Bucky (Reply #7)

Mon May 21, 2018, 10:01 PM

8. Frankly, I do not look at myself and say smart you are....

I am just so fucking fed up with the obvious corruption of our world....that sarcasm is my release valve or else I could become catatonic....and I quite frankly could care less about people being turned off by my sarcasm....I am turned off by there turning a cheek and saying god will take care of him....

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Bucky (Original post)

Mon May 21, 2018, 09:48 PM

6. Sarcasm, dark humor, satire...

...these are the tools of those who toil down in the engine rooms of society. "No good deed goes unpunished" isn't a cry of rage or resignation -- it's a recognition of the fact that good deeds are best done because they are good and that rewards are, at best uncertain. Humor is how we educate ourselves that our adversaries are most likely small-minded people who can be defeated, but making that happen isn't going to be pretty. And, humor is one way of making sure that we ourselves don't turn into the people we hate.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread