What Nate and Rick are onto explains why a lot of us are going to have to strap on our dance shoes and tip-toe through the holiday season. Because anyone who has a “mixed” family (Democrats and Republican base voters) knows, conservatives in families usually have license to rant and carry on and even pick on liberals, but it’s considered impolite if not scandalous for liberals to push back.
Of course, a lot of the double standard depends on other patriarchal double standards—family conservatives tend to be older and more male than family liberals, and thus they are permitted to have the floor and even harangue other family members without being resisted.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said, “Let’s not talk about politics” and had it met with evenmore offensive bullshit than whatever offensive bullshit provoked my demur in the first place. Far as I’m concerned, you get warned off the subject twice, and if you persist, you deserve the mental and verbal ass-kicking you receive. You’re a grownup, talking to another grownup, you want to be rude ain’t my place to stop you but you’d better bring your A-game.
And most of them don’t:
They can’t get around the fact that you’re right, but they can’t change their mind, either, so they’re stuck. It’s really evocative of being provoked to argue religion with a believer who wants to know why you’re an atheist. I far prefer to drag that battle into a forum that’s public, instead of in a personal, face-to-face conversation where your advantages make you feel like a show-off asshole.
Which position, while admirable and nicer than mine, assumes that being a show-off asshole is something you’re not assumed to be anyway by whatever rude mouthbreather you’re arguing with, by virtue of all that book-learning and reading and shit that you do. As usual, my position is that if you’re gonna get tarred you might as well slap some feathers on top because there’s no reason not to. I don’t know if it’s getting older or what but I’m finally starting to lose my patience with being talked to like I’m five, and my new’s years resolution is to stop feeling like I should apologize for living to assholes who cannot take a hint.
This is not a particularly new or newsworthy problem; the mystery to me is why on earth anybody still thinks it’s a good idea to taunt the liberal (or conservative, let’s be honest) at the party. At some point we have lost the concept of fucking polite behavior. We need to dig up Edith Wharton and have her zombie-fied so she can explain to us how this shit works in a society where we cut our food up before we eat it. She’d glove-slap half the people on this planet, I swear to God.
Sometimes I think we stray into these controversial topics is that we have a hard time communicating, people in general, and you might not know this from watching me here but I’m actually not in my element in a large loud party of people I only kinda know, so I resort to asking a billion questions so I don’t have to talk. I think in many cases all the years I spent reporting are a great help here, because that’s basically talking to strangers about the things they care about, so you learn very quickly how to make somebody feel comfortable and important and how to learn all about them, but that’s not something that comes naturally to everybody, andgod damn sometimes it is a lot of work. Which is how I spent Christmas afternoon last year watching Super Bad with Mr. A’s teenage cousins upstairs.