Name calling

I might be an asshole

I have recently been called insensitive, arrogant, heartless and uncaring, all in the same unsigned letter. Then I got an e-mail wherein another intrepid reader avers that because I use the word “retarded” I lack social intelligence, which I can’t argue with. I’ve said before that only children miss out on early socialization that siblings must suffer through, and their development in that regard may be somewhat retarded. Some of us never manage to take up the slack.

She also called me an asshole, on which accusation opinion so far varies somewhat, and then she said that she actually chose her occupation because it was “easier than putting up with jerks like you. I’m offended because you think you deserve the right to throw that word around.”

I’m sure there are myriad jobs that for the average Jane would be less taxing than putting up with me. I took a long time finding compassion and affection for myself, and I’m not offended when someone doesn’t like me. I feel for her.

So my reader was offended by the story she made up about how she thinks I think I “deserve the right to throw that word around.” She apparently accepts no responsibility for the thoughts in her own personal head or the way she feels when she thinks them. Instead, she blames it all on me, who has never even seen her head. I’d’ve expected her eventually to notice that bad feelings accompany certain of her thoughts and not others, but if these bad thoughts came about only because of my assholery anyway, I guess the bad feelings are inevitably also out of her control. I was tempted to allude to the possibility of thinking deliberately, but I didn’t think her likely to take advice from a jerk or an asshole, much less both, so I whipped out my legendary restraint and tried thinking kind thoughts about her. Good practice.

My reader also showed remarkable restraint. She wrote, “I’m willing to bet you’d be the first to pipe up if a white female like myself complained of being worked like a cotton picking nigger, so what gives you the right to use retarded?”

I don’t see the connection between those two clauses, but I am retarded, so I won’t sweat it. Still, the heart of this jerk swells with admiration for my reader’s nice manners and sense of decency, because a lesser person might have come right out and called me a cotton picking nigger. My gentle reader, though, resisted the temptation to resort to an archaic cliché and merely mentioned it in passing, though I suggest hyphenating cotton-picking when used as an adjective.