Sticks and Stones

SticksStonesby Pat Tarzwell   2/25/16
I heard something recently that explains much about the state of this country and, in some ways, the world. I will start with a simple question that I know every single reader on this site can answer with little thought. Fill in this phrase: “Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will _______________?”
Alright, that was easy. But try a little experiment in the outside world. Ask anyone under 30 today and the answer you get most likely will be different from the one you grew up with. Here is the answer I get, or a close variation anyway:

Sticks and Stones will break my bones but words will cut right through me.

No longer are mere words cast off as relatively harmless things that are best ignored by the civilized man or woman. Instead, the conception now is that the damage done by words is far more hurtful and long-lasting than anything done by sticks and stones, that the scars from words will last a lifetime but the flesh will heal.

Having enlightened a few others about this radical redefinition of an old truism, I’ve had a few so-called conservatives jump down my throat for favoring the original definition. I simply suppose that a knife to the chest would be far more serious than someone calling me an “idiot” or a “moron.” [Pat is, in fact, an imbecile. — The Editor] They instead agree with the redefinition. They believe strongly in the hurtfulness of words, elevating “feelings” beyond sane proportion. I do not sometimes respond to them very nicely, I must admit. Some have even said I was hurtful.

First of all, if we are to live in a free society, with true freedom of speech, do we not owe it to the rising generations to teach them to deal with words spoken by truly hateful people? And do we really want to become such thin-skinned people that we turn the entire society into a vapid “safe space” as you hear about on college campuses where students are unable to deal even with minor disagreements?

The original meaning of “sticks and stones” was not about rearranging the outer world to conform to our most pampered pleasure bubble world. It was about how to handle ourselves in a world that inherently would not always be so comforting and pleasing. (Note: In this political season, we all need to revisit this when we get all butt-hurt because someone does not like the candidate of our choosing.)

This redefinition of an old tried-and-true Western/Christian adage — whose very purpose was to get people to refrain from physical violence, and certainly not to encourage name-calling — is just another arrow in the Leftist quiver, breaking down America. It’s a new way for the forever-juveniles in our culture to find offense and grievance instead of growing up and facing reality.

And it’s a dishonest political tool for the unscrupulous. If I’m saying my piece, no matter how rational and even-tempered, and you can just run home to momma because you claim to be emotionally hurt, you win the argument without even properly engaging in a discussion. The squeaky wheel not only gets the grease but the wheel flattens the very idea of there being two sides to a story or even the idea that there can be a diversity of ideas. Instead, thought and reason are held hostage to insincere emotionalism.

Let this concept sink in for a moment. This is not some fringe idea or movement. The redefinition of “sticks and stones” comes from the government schools and is supported by a growing majority of parents today (yes…including some so-called conservative ones).

As a kid, I heard the normal version of “sticks and stones” whenever I complained about something someone said to me. In other words, my folks would say, “Suck it up buttercup; you can only be offended if you take offense. However, if someone starts using actual sticks or stones — or fists for that matter — on you or anyone else, then by all means kick their ass or at least go down swinging.”

I now see how we have become such a delicate society that, Heaven forbid, someone un-friends you on Facebook; that’s just too harsh. Call the lawyers. Time to sue! Well, women, it looks as if your movement has won. You have cut the balls off every man under the age of 30. I therefore leave this problem to you, the fairer sex: You broke it, you fix it! Maybe the fine writers here at ST can help with this.

I need a shot of vitamin S (Sanity)
Real women of America, help us Please!


Pat Tarzwell was born conservative, runs a successful hi-tech business, and lives a red-state life in a deep blue one. He has stones. • (4808 views)

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44 Responses to Sticks and Stones

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I didn’t read all of this, Pat. By the third paragraph I had to retreat to my safe space. Perhaps someone else here can take in the entire article and provide some rational feedback.

    • pst4usa says:

      Did you take some soft stuffed toys with you, I sure hope so, those safe places can be scary!.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        When I was a child, Pat, my mother got a kick out of the fact that I slept with a whole menagerie of stuffed animals. I would line them all up next to me in bed, about six or eight deep. I had a grandmother who made knitted octopi of various sizes and colors that she would send me as gifts on my birthday or Christmas. I had collected a whole (what’s the word?) tangle of them.

        But I also had a pull-string talking Caspar the Ghost as well as a dragon and some other stuffed animals that have receded into foggy memory. But they kept me safe in what I now recognize was a safe space, long before they had conceived of such things on college campi.

        The difference was, I was eight years old at the time. I was “pajama boy” but only because that was entirely age-appropriate. By the way, my favorite pair of pajamas — wish I still had them — was a pair of blue ones with Flintstones characters emblazoned on the front.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    They believe strongly in the hurtfulness of words, elevating “feelings” beyond sane proportion. I do not sometimes respond to them very nicely, I must admit. Some have even said I was hurtful.

    At the political level, the self-editing required by political correctness is an attack on free speech. George Orwell was probably the most insightful in this regard. He understood how the Left tries to control the discussion to their advantage. Depending on the political sensibilities of the moment, the Left will also determine which words are hurtful at any given moment. They even go so far as to maintain that some words can be hurtful to one group but not another. They keep everyone on pins and needles this way. Control.

    At a more basic level however, this self-editing creates a more dishonest society. If one cannot express one’s opinion or even point out facts, then everybody starts to hide their true thoughts and society as a whole will have less intellectual exchange which may just make solutions to problems more difficult.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      At a more basic level however, this self-editing creates a more dishonest society. If one cannot express one’s opinion or even point out facts, then everybody starts to hide their true thoughts and society as a whole cooperate will have less intellectual exchange which may just make solutions to problems more difficult.

      I can’t speak for the totality of this article (I’m still in my safe space), but you’ve just articulated the Western ideal, Mr. Kung. To have a free interchange of ideas, you can’t have people using language as a controlling factor. And the free interchange of ideas has been a core benefit of the Western ideal.

      And, good god, although “civil society” does require us to censor ourselves to some extent, and rightfully so, it’s painful for me to watch the Left use this idea that is inherent to any culture to stifle thought. They keep trying to retract what “polite society” can talk about. And this is one element that infuriates me about Establishment Republicans. They have totally caved on this and themselves are promoters of undue censorship. (“How do you make a fruit cordial” “Be nice to him.”) That got Mark Steyn fired from the Establishment Republican rag, National Review, among other things.

      Using reason and good judgment, we can try to eek out the difference between vulgar or inflammatory language and just language or ideas that, although perhaps right or wrong, are just another idea which can be discussed. Consider the idea of affirmative action, for instance (an idea alone, to my mind, which disqualifies Trump from serious consideration as a “conservative” because of his support of it). I consider affirmative action to be inherently unfair, if not outright racist. One might give out scholarships and such based upon one’s financial situation but never on one’s race.

      You might disagree. But the Left (and there is indeed a mental illness component of this) considers any discussion of this to be illegitimate. To question their ideas is not simply to have a disagreement. It’s to be sexist, racist, evil, or “on the wrong side of history,” whatever their word-of-the-week is.

    • pst4usa says:

      The whole idea of “sticks and stones” has been PC’d by this radical redefinition. PC stands for a lot of things, but “Correctness” in not one of them. “Control”, is one of my favorites “C”s in PC, but Cowardice works well also.

    • David Ray says:

      Funny how George Orwell, Whittiker Chambers & Ronaldus Magnus have something in common.

      They both dealved into socialism and saw it’s true consequence. As a result, two wrote books and one read them.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Though Orwell remained a supporter of “democratic socialism” to the end of his life, as far as is known. He certainly continued to be a supporter after Animal Farm, as he explained in “Why I Write”.

  3. Steve Lancaster says:

    I learned that harsh language means nothing from my father and later from Gunny Cox at MCRDSD, God bless you Gunny where ever you are.

  4. pst4usa says:

    Brad resemble that remark! Imbecile indeed!

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ll be the first to admit that there are simple-minded — or just disingenuous — people who use “sticks and stones” as a carte blanche to insult in any way they want, parrying any criticism of their crudeness or vulgarity as the other being “hyper-sensitive” or in violation of the sticks-and-stones rule. Basically it’s “Heads I win, tales you lose.”

    But as Pat pointed out, “sticks-and-stones” was never meant to be a free pass for insulting people or being vulgar. It was meant to de-escalate violence. And in the larger role in Western Civilization, it was meant to foster inquiry and progress which can only happen with the free exchange of ideas.

    However, with an emphasis on subjective feelings, the end result of the “will cut right through me” interpretation is the closing down of the healthy exchange of ideas as the most dishonest or feeble-minded among us claim to be psychological wounded by this exchange. And this is not just in theory. This is happening right now in college campuses and in the culture at large. We have empowered the most dishonest and manipulative.

    But that is what we are left with when society shrugs off religion. As Trevor Thomas quoted from Edmund Burke in his recent article,

    “Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters (chains).”

    Speech codes, political correctness, and this absurd new reading of “sticks and stones” could be said to be the inevitable result when clumsy and inept secular authority steps in for a traditional personal one. And religion (Christianity, in the West) has been that inner, closer, personal source specifically and uniquely qualified to deal with moral questions.

    As my friend, Pat, has told me (and I paraphrase): “Socialists are not wrong about the idea that we all need to be dependent upon something. It’s just that they’re wrong about government, instead of God, being that upon which we need to be dependent.”

    The redefinition of the traditional “stick-and-stones” adage to “will cut right through me” inherently derives, at least in part, from the clumsy, inappropriate “secular” authorities trying to do something that is clearly out of their purview. What is left to a man who has shrunk his universe down to his ego and feelings but the strident protection of his ego and feelings?

  6. Timothy Lane says:

    Harmful words can indeed wound us emotionally, and sometimes this can be quite serious (as I know from personal experience — there’s a reason I never use my brother’s name). But bad as that can be, physical harm is still a more serious matter; for one thing, it can be unrecoverable. And the consequence of focusing on emotional harm — the closing down of honest discussion in the name of political correctness — is far worse than any such emotional harm can be.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Harmful words can indeed wound us emotionally, and sometimes this can be quite serious

      No doubt. But I always thought one point of the old rhyme was to help the verbally attacked party to buck up, i.e. give them moral support by helping them show the attacker that his attack was ineffective. A way of flipping them the bird without actually extending the middle finger.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        No doubt. But I always thought one point of the old rhyme was to help the verbally attacked party to buck up, i.e. give them moral support by helping them show the attacker that his attack was ineffective.

        That’s a great point, Mr. Kung. In the battle of rhetoric (which we will never escape, at least on this earth) it is a way to show that one is strong, not weak, by way of the “sticks-and-stones” rule. Great point indeed.

      • pst4usa says:

        Excellent way of putting it Mr. Zu.
        Mr. Lane, I have no doubt that you are correct, words can be hurtful. There is a deeper meaning to the whole thing that goes to this point; where do I get my identity? If I get my identity or self worth from what others say or even think of me, than I have lost the battle. Someone else will always be able to jerk me around and control me. (I think this is evident in the T rump supporters, they are being controlled by someone, T rump, using their emotions to manipulate them, anger in their case). But I digress, we are created in the image of God and He is the one that we should look to for our identity or self-worth. What this old rhyme should teach us, is that what God has given you, no man can take from you.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          There is a deeper meaning to the whole thing that goes to this point; where do I get my identity? If I get my identity or self worth from what others say or even think of me, than I have lost the battle.

          Pat, that’s an extraordinarily good point, worthy of an entire essay unto itself. But you’re a busy man, so we’ll just have to imagine all the groovy things you would say about this.

          Again, this points to the vapidness of a “secular” society where there is no identity other than what others say about you. This is, of course, exacerbated by our celebrity/entertainment culture where “I have followers or ‘likes,’ therefore I am” is the watchword. And on this site, I’ve very much resisted adding any kind of facility to “like” a comment or post. I think such things just facilitate imbecility.

          Contrast that with the Left whereby they are shrinking man’s vision to narrow identities such as skin color. And they call themselves “Progressives.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Harmful words can indeed wound us emotionally, and sometimes this can be quite serious (as I know from personal experience — there’s a reason I never use my brother’s name).

      True. And one could certainly draw distinctions between the public domain and the private domain. Calling Obama a godless, anti-American Marxist (while likely 100% true) in the field of politics might be a bit different than calling our friend, Pat, here a stupid, moronic imbecile who has a turnip for a brain and secretly wishes he could follow in the girly-steps of Caitlyn Jenner. (Not sure how closely he adheres to the sticks-n-stones rule, and I don’t want to find out.)

      Families and friends are, by nature, a more intimate environment. Yes, in most ways we can be more frank but there is far less emotional distance, thus we tend to treat people a little more gently. (The internet itself is a hopeless mix of these various aspects…we’re public and yet friendships can and do develop…but we often don’t even agree amongst ourselves where on ends and the other begins.)

      And thus perhaps we tumble upon the crux of the problem: Socialists and Progressives want their damn government — or society at large, including where they work — to be considered their family. I consider my family my family, sometimes with regrets. And I call my friends my friends, sometimes with regrets but with fewer because they are chosen. But I sure as hell wouldn’t take a job in order to be a part of a family. That would be creepy-culty although I might certainly like a certain esprit de corp to exist, one for all, all for one, a shared common purpose and all that.

      But only imbeciles, morons, or those who have had no good experience with family would ever pine for the government (or one’s workplace) to be a family/friends substitute. And yet because I think this is now a common attitude, why then of course the public/private speech domain (each with different rules) is merged into each other by the collectivists. And, of course, the propensity has been to throw out the public aspect (except when denouncing Republicans) and to treat everyone to the speech code of the family where you just have a different sensibility.

      And although we can acknowledge that words can hurt, it is a humanizing act to learn to not be beholden to them. “Like water off a duck’s back” is a better ethic to learn. It’s better to smartly de-sensitize in regards to jibes and insults rather than to sensitize. And “smartly” means that we do not become a doormat, but rather we pick and choose the fights that are important to us and won’t be baited into someone else’s.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        “Imbeciles, morons, or those who have had no good experience with family” — I wonder in which category you would put the welfare mamas who, in effect, marry Uncle Sam (at our expense, of course, as the semi-banned game Public Assistance demonstrated). All three, perhaps?

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I wonder in which category you would put the welfare mamas who, in effect, marry Uncle Sam (at our expense, of course, as the semi-banned game Public Assistance demonstrated). All three, perhaps?

          I think “moocher” is the best description of those who take from government regarding things they could, or ought to, provide for themselves. This is where libertarians and others err regarding “reason” and the supposed primacy of intelligence. I would not necessarily ascribe to welfare recipients the label of “moron” because many are extremely clever and devious about getting the maximum out of Uncle Sam.

          To those who are truly dictionary-definition imbecilic, I would want to help them. A compassionate (but not politically stupid) society would make such accommodations. But I do not want to help those who can, and ought to, help themselves.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        But only imbeciles, morons, or those who have had no good experience with family would ever pine for the government (or one’s workplace) to be a family/friends substitute.

        Instead of;

        imbeciles, morons, or those who have had no good experience with family

        you could have simply written, the Left

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          LOL. Well, I guess I was a little un-selfaware and verbose, Mr. Kung. But “the Left” might indeed capture the essence of it.

          I was having a conversation with a friend the other day (in a series of conversations with friends about aging parents) and he/she affirmed to me my own misgivings about “the greatest generation” — the ones who birthed the Red Diaper Doper Babies, despite winning WWII. Lord help me, we all get old. The aches and pains of aging, as well as the awareness of our own mortality, don’t tend to generate warm, fuzzy feelings. They tend to generate fear, dissatisfaction, and grumpiness.

          But has it always been this way? Were we always such whiny and grump fussbudgets? Is the idea of facing our problems and pains with grace and humility an extinct idea? I guess we won’t know until we ourselves are tested. Perhaps I simply have a plank in my own eye.

          But, good god, the stories I’ve heard from a sampling of friends is alarming. In every single case, their aging parent wasn’t just a difficult duty but a nightmare because of the caustic, sour, and fussbudget attitudes of their parents.

          This is a whole topic unto itself. But when you mentioned that all that I said could be condensed to “the Left,” it reminded me the central to the Left is grievance, anger, dissatisfaction, and generally just being a pain-in-the-ass fussbudget. Is it really as simple as Social Security (as many have argued) acting to break the bonds between parents and children, setting them up as adversaries? Did, as one friend opined, “the greatest generation” spoil their own children, hoping they could avoid the hardships they faced, to the point of ruining them (and thus themselves)?

          My own family I can often take or leave. I’m sure some feel the same about me. Fair enough. I’m no picnic. But consider that our society right now is moving head-on into an attempt to try to transcend the family and, for all intents and purposes, make the state the surrogate parent or spouse…the family head, if you will. If there are a lot people feeling alienated because of bad families, then isn’t the cure to try to repair the family instead of acting like a spoiled child and trying to break it up?

          Thank god for friends and spouses, the family we choose, or else we would all go crazy. But families are irreplaceable. Yes, you might get a bad daddy or mommy or an abusive sibling. But only daddy or mommy, all things being equal, are ever going to care about you. The government will just pretend to. And as more and more people look for utopia via transcending the family (and gender, and economic realities, etc.), this will cause nothing but further bitterness….we’ll get lots more imbeciles and morons.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            But has it always been this way? Were we always such whiny and grump fussbudgets?

            Besides the loss of Christian stoicism, I think a large part of it is due to the fact that we are living much longer than just 50 years ago.

            Most of us died before we could bitch too much.

      • pst4usa says:

        “But only imbeciles, morons, or those who have had no good experience with family would ever pine for the government (or one’s workplace) to be a family/friends substitute.” At least I’ve got stupid and turnip brained to add to the list. Brad I don’t have to pine for the “Call me Caitlyn” effect, here in Washington I don’t even have to say I feel like a girl to go into their showers, I just go. Seeing as how I can finally come out of the closet and declare I am lesbian trapped in a man’s body, I am free at last. Ain’t leftism grand!

  7. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The link below is to an odd story which highlights what whimps many American men have become.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/06/25/rhode-island-restaurant-owner-fires-son-for-insulting-customer-as-fatty-on-bill.html?intcmp=hpbt4

    A bartender wrote on a customer’s bill “Fatty”. This was keyed into the register as some sort of customer identifier. The customer saw this and posted it on social media.

    The restaurant owner found out about this and fired the bartender, who was his son, apologized to the customer and to make amends offered the customer a US$50 gift certificate. The bartender also apologized.

    The offended customer says he is not yet ready to accept the gift certificate. But the most priceless comment the customer made was, “but it kind of ruined my self-esteem a little.”

    Christ! Look at the man’s picture. He is a fatty. And while I am not suggesting people go around calling others names because of their weight, this man should grow up. If such a small thing ruins his self-esteem, one can only wonder what words would cause him to crumble.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Maybe the guy should lose weight instead of expecting the rest of the world to ignore his obesity. Granted, to live in a civilized world means a reasonable amount of civility (read: ordered and proportional lying…such as about the obesity of another person).

      But, here was a fatty simply looking to be offended and have a moment of girly drama. A real man would have ignored it and perhaps redoubled his efforts to put himself in better shape. Meet another one of our culture’s Little Monsters.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, as someone who has been obese for decades, I can certainly say I’d be annoyed by seeing that on a bill. But I wouldn’t make a big deal about it. Let’s just say that a waiter or waitress who left such a message had better not count on a tip from me. (It might not work the same way with bartenders, I guess. As a teetotaler, I certainly couldn’t say.)

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Go around looking for offense is a game for losers. Making the choice simply not to tip or to find another eating establishment is what civilized people do. And we know we’ve all been caught (or nearly caught) doing similar things. I sometime write puns or funny things on the job orders that only my brother sees. Most are not in the least offensive, per se. But I wouldn’t want a client reading over my shoulder.

          This is a case where people need to lighten the hell up. Only a pussy-boy goes on YouTube or Facebook and tries to gain chops by portraying himself as a victim. A real man might have noted that it’s not good business to make fun of customers but, by gum, the guy was right that I am overweight. Maybe I should lose some weight and come back later and thank him for the wake-up call.

  8. pst4usa says:

    Brad, we now have the perfect image for pussyboy. He is the first CoverBoy on the mag, CoverGirl. I kid you not.
    http://www.mrctv.org/blog/covergirl-announces-first-male-covergirl

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      What a weird looking dude. Assuming I got the gender right. I just clicked on the video. To me, that looks like mental illness. But what is normal these days?

      His balls must have been punctured because all the testosterone leaked out of him.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The choice is no surprise; liberals seem fond of androgyny. This is why their women (if the term is still acceptable for liberals) are allowed to be stronger than their men (again, if).

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      we now have the perfect image for pussyboy

      Wow! Pussyboy! Really? Where is your respect? Don’t you understand that you must respect every deviant, pervert, mental case which is foisted on society?

      I thought I knew you, but clearly you are someone other than you seem to be.

      (Pat, on the slight chance you don’t know what I am talking about ask Brad about certain holier-than-thou willing dupes.)

      • pst4usa says:

        Well, I forgot the hyphen, in the term “pussy-boy”. I thought this was the perfect example, in pictures, of what Brad was talking about. And a perfect example of where we have come as a society.
        Respect? I just do not know about that with this guy, but hey, who am I to complain, I slept through my grand daughter putting make up on me while I asleep on the couch. She was 5 or 6 at the time and I am sure her grandma helped pick out the colors. So maybe I should be hurt they did not choose me?
        I could have been a contender! Brings a whole new meaning to it doesn’t it.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Your reply came too late for me to post some more pictures of pussy-boys which I came across on Drudge. I just deleted them. But believe me, it is worse than you think.

          We used to quarantine those with contagious diseases. Maybe these types should be quarantined as well.

          I slept through my grand daughter putting make up on me while I asleep on the couch. She was 5 or 6 at the time and I am sure her grandma helped pick out the colors

          What tones fit you best, Autumn, Spring, Winter or Summer?

          • pst4usa says:

            I not sure, but there were a lot of colors, blues and bright red. So what tone is that? Sorry to take so long to reply, I get wrapped up in work sometimes and it can be weeks before I get back. I know, customers, right? think they can just demand my time by paying me?

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