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OP/Ed The "New" Form of Aggression: Insults and Innuendo

By Samantha A. Torrence     May 29, 2007 in Lifestyle
Psychological Warfare: Is our society truly enlightened or have we found a new form of non-physical warfare that is protected by the law?
Shall quips, and sentences, and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humour? Senior Benedict, Act II of Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.
Insults have been around since language was invented. They have always been considered the civilized man's way of handling his problems with another. As the society developed, so did the complexity of non physical aggression. One rumor, one look, even a phrase could do considerable damage to a person's "good name."
We can see examples in literature through out history as to how insults and innuendo have been used to win favor with women, favor in the court, or even minor house wars. This behavior has enriched both fact and fiction alike. In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, he calls these actions the "Game of Houses." Much like Chess, when one embarks in this game, you must not only have a strategy, but also must anticipate the other person's move.
Shakespeare is another author of amazing insults and innuendo. Most of his plays are rife with clever insults and puns. You can see this notably in the character of Mercutio who is Romeo's good friend in Romeo and Juliette. The entire play of Much Ado About Nothing is centered around a war of words between most of the characters but mostly between Beatrice and Benedict.
There are games which center around insults and have been around for years. In my generation the 80's and 90's were a host to a game that pitted the quick witted against their unsuspecting prey called the Crack Off. Usually initiated by some verbal bully to make them feel superior to another person who did not spend their day thinking up the best insults. Today the tv show "Yo Mamma" shows this game in a fun light.
You can also see insults and innuendo in every form of politics. Only small parts of wars are waged with physical aggression. Right now nations are in full onslaught of slander, media plays, and politics. Media wars are a new player in an old game that tries to tear the enemy apart from within and alienate it from its allies. Yes, insults and innuendo are a major part of war that is not acknowledged by most modern citizens.
So how is this a new form of aggression when it has been around forever? It has to deal with the new turn it has taken and the new weapon that is being used to sling the insults and lies.
Right now insults and innuendo, even down right harassment, is being hidden under the guise of free speech. It is defended by people who accuse and abuse others on a daily basis. We have all heard the lines, " Grow a thick skin," " Take it like a man," " Don't be a baby," "If you don't like it ignore it," even though it is in your face and screaming unresolved in the depths of your psyche.
The Internet has also encouraged insults, lies, libel, slander, and the mob reactions from its users. We have seen this to a lesser extent in message boards and chat rooms, but have also seen the fruition of this recently when a man killed himself live on the Internet while in an insult based chat room. Indeed Cyberbullying has made the headlines time and time again in these past few years.
The reality is that insults can no longer be reciprocated in the ways they were handled in the old days. One could be looking at a pop in the mouth, or ostracising from others. Today in the "developed" world, those who insult are protected by the law. They receive no repercussions for their actions, and keep goading and baiting, harassing and lying. They continue to be protected as they ruin a person's good name, their reputation, and do damage to their emotions. Today, they are given multimillion dollar careers as shock jocks, celebrities, talk show hosts, and news anchors. Those who insult are cheered and congratulated by the average citizens of today as they mutilate a person's psyche.
The emotional or mental damage caused by harassment and insults can be far more painful or debilitating than physical wounds caused by a retaliatory punch or smack. Insult warriors now used their victims fragile emotional state to inflict more pain on them than they could have by just physically confronting them. Even worse the pain and frustration caused by this psychological warfare does take on physical form in depression, self mutilation and suicide. (Many effects of Depression are physical and very painful. The weakened immune system from depression can cause illness, and contributes to various conditions such as G.E.R.D., and Ulcers.)Protecting this type of behavior, even encouraging it, has lead to a generation of bullies and a rise in anti-social personality disorder. We can see that being cold and heartless has been accepted as popular and kids are aspiring to be the next great insulter.
We do not live in an enlightened society, nor can we boast of being peaceful while we protect and excuse this type of behavior.
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