January 17, 2011

Remember when Joe Biden said "Say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time"?

That was last June. What counted as "smartass" was a Kopp’s Frozen Custard stand owner saying — in response to Biden's asking what he owed for the ice cream cone — "Nothing, just lower our taxes." A reader — perhaps prompted by yesterday's  "bite me" post — reminded me of what I wrote at the time:
Bite me. When the powerful seek to work their will upon us and demand that we be nice about it, that's the right response: Bite me. Even if he were the one being nice about it, we shouldn't have to put up with it without complaint.

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - "Bite me!" Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, "Bite me!" Then we'll figure out what to do about the recession and the taxes and the oil spill. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "Bite me."
The second paragraph, is, of course, a play on the famous scene from the 1976 movie "Network":

Did you watch the clip? How did it affect you today, after all the talk last week about the need for newly civil discourse in America? What is the role of angry speech? "First, you've got to get mad," we're told. "Mad as hell." You've got to yell. This is a dramatic speech that has resonated with Americans for 35 years. Why? And what does that tell you about the importance of maintaining civility?


Scott M said...

Each and every Tea Party meeting should begin with Hillary's audio in which she shrills "We have the right to disagree with ANY administration..." etc etc.

MikeR said...

Long time since I saw that clip! But people at the office thought I was weird when I started screaming.

E.M. Davis said...

Hollywood needs more Paddy Chayefskys.

Hagar said...

I do not know that is necessary to speak "angrily," but I am deeply suspicious of this sudden chorus of calls for "civility."
I think it smells of a more or less coordinated effort to distract and reduce the opposition.

Wv: waldo - where is Waldo Winchester? Or Waldo, NM?

MrBuddwing said...

In 35 years, has no one noticed that what Peter Finch actually shouts over and over again is, "I'm AS mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"?

Word verification: lodain.

shoutingthomas said...

You are very determined to blow this civility thing to hell, Althouse.

I think it's already been done.

I think Steve Sailer gets the issue more to the point: What are we [conservatives] allowed to say?

This has been the thrust of the great Diversity and hate speech movement from the start.

The left, and particularly the academic left, has been determined to rule a whole range of issues as out of bounds for polite conversation. All those issues are, of course, the ones where liberals define opposition as bigotry.

PatCA said...

The importance of maintaining civility is that it makes one's argument persuasive and practically irresistible.

Read Letter from the Birmingham Jail and marvel at its loving civility and revolutionary principles.

Robert Cook said...

Biden's remark is the updated version of Ari Fleischer's contemptible remark that "Americans should watch what they say and what they do."

In short, it's the mask of false bohnomie slipping momentarily and revealing the true face of our government: authoritarian, pitiless, and punitive.

The wretches in power do not respect us or believe they represent us or work for us...because they don't. They work for their own political and financial aggrandizement, thinking themselves kings, when in fact they are servile lackeys for those whom they serve: the financial interests who will have what they want.

Robert Cook said...

I made a typo in spelling "bonhomie."

shoutingthomas said...

The wretches in power do not respect us or believe they represent us or work for us...because they don't. They work for their own political and financial aggrandizement, thinking themselves kings, when in fact they are servile lackeys for those whom they serve: the financial interests who will have what they want.

You know, Kookie, for once you've written something that I cannot disagree with.

The bailout of the banks and the investment banking houses was a scandal of epic proportions, and it was bipartisan.

Hard to understand how the SOBs are getting away with that insane thievery.

Scott M said...

The guy should have responded, "Bite me, vice-president Biden.

Larry J said...

Read Letter from the Birmingham Jail and marvel at its loving civility and revolutionary principles.

Or listen to his "I have a dream" speech. MLK could've yelled about generations of legitimate grievances and no one could've blamed him. Instead, he talked about his dreams of a better world for his and all other children. It's an amazingly powerful speech by a master orator and it isn't angry.

Anger has its place but it clouds judgment if allowed to dominate your thinking. The proverbial "angry young man" (almost always a leftist) has been romanticized but often, he's just a self-righteous bore.

Scott M said...

The proverbial "angry young man" (almost always a leftist) has been romanticized but often, Che's just a self-righteous bore.

There. I figured it was a typo and took the liberty...

Comrade X said...

"OK Vice President Smartass. You don't want it for free. That'll be 40% of your annual income."

loudogblog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
loudogblog said...


(I'm especially mad about making a typo in the previous post and having to delete it.)

Stephen A. Meigs said...

I don't think anger is like fear. Fear is useful quite generally, because there is lots of dangerous stuff out there. But anger is mainly useful by way of maintaining emotional inertia or, what amounts to almost the same thing, momentum. Very rarely it might be useful to get angry in ordinary circumstances, when, say, people are trying to verbally manipulate you in an argument you can't avoid, but the strength of such abuse is pretty limited and thus mostly unworthy of much anger, actually. Unlike fear, anger is mainly only a useful emotion in fighting addictive depravity, by way of maintaining one's resistive emotional state or bearing even after the addictive depravity has happened.

Of course, if one doesn't give anger any place because one doesn't believe in the significance of addictive depravity (sodomy), then one's emotions will tend to find something inappropriate it can be angry about. People recognize this inappropriate anger, and they get sophisticated about it and resolve to not be angry about anything, which they find they can't do very well. And so they become dishonest with themselves, encouraged to see the motives of others in excessively rose-colored glasses, more the pity, and to minimize the significance of evil, just because those beliefs make for the sort of emotion they think they want. This pooh-poohing of evil is indeed a fault, perhaps as great as that of getting excessively angry about stuff. But one must not lose sight of the main harm of denying anger--as regards things not particularly related to sodomy, maybe even the advantages of sophistication discouraging anger in rants about things makes up for the disadvantages of it encouraging people to dismiss the danger and reality of evil--hard to say. The main problem with dismissing anger is that it encourages people who have become addicted to depravity to be true to the earlier less adventitious emotions that could free them.

I don't much get angry at non-depraved things--I have a place in my understanding for anger, and so the emotion seeks no other. I think the banking system is majorly messed up, causing a great harm to our country and the world, but I don't much get angry about it. For instance, though I think his columns are mostly good because they are among the rare few that heartily admit the evil of what Goldman Sachs, etc., have done, I get annoyed at Matt Taibbi for calling banksters, etc., "fuckers". Whether intentional or not, it manipulates the fears and angers of ordinary people to make them more angry. People have this Hollywood notion that the banksters want money because they need it to sail their yachts off the coast of the Riviera waving thousand dollar champagne bottles so the topless sunbathers will swim out to them to engage in orgies from whorishness, and of course that makes people extra mad. It's not mostly that way, I suspect. Probably the elites are too busy worrying that if their kids don't get tutoring and entrance into the most expensive pre-school they won't get in the right kindergarten and will get screwed for life for having fallen off the Harvard track. It's easier to convince people that sex should mostly be about money if one can convince people that the financial system, etc., rewards according to worth, in which case there would be less moral need for females to do so, e.g., by sometimes having children outside wedlock from love or sexual pleasure.

Part of the libel at Sarah Palin might actually be an attempt to provoke her to inappropriate anger. The sucker punch is an effective argumentative technique in dealing with sophisticated people, since anger can lead to hyperbole and carelessness that results from excessive haste. Elites have no reason to believe the technique they use among their enemies among themselves won't work well with people more devoid of elite sophistication; in fact, they might well be foolish enough to think provoking works better against those who don't make a conscious decision to avoid anger.

Florida said...

"I want people mad." - Barack Hussein Obama

"I want you to get in their faces." - Barack Hussein Obama

"Punch them back twice as hard." - Barack Hussein Obama

"Punish your enemies and reward your friends."" - Barack Hussein Obama

""We bring a gun."" -
Barack Hussein Obama

Fighting words.

Then ... 6 dead, 18 shot, a 9-year-old girl and a Congresswoman's brains splattered into the soup aisle down the Safeway.

"We need to be civil." - Barack Hussein Obama

Scott M said...

There are two kinds of anger, though, aren't there, Stephen? One is a cognizant, self-aware feeling one gets when one has time to think (even if it's a mere moment) about what's going on.

The other is reflexive and wholly hind-brainish. Like me walking out to my car with an armful of stuff yesterday, then dropping my keys. Only to bend over to pick up the keys and drop my mug (insert heavy sigh cuz that's what happened). Only to bend over for my mug and DROP MY KEYS (insert loud !!FUCK!! here cuz that's what happened).

michaele said...

This is why I am a tea partier in spirit and have stirred my bones to go to some events. It's important to show we are fed up with the ever growing size and power of the federal government.

dont tread 2012 said...




I remember reading this type of stuff in Mad magazine.

Methadras said...

I know this clip well. All it does is inspire me to be pissed off and defeat leftards wherever they crawl and hide. They are like cockroaches scurrying when the light of conservativism shines on them. Like vampires caught in the sun of it.

dont tread 2012 said...

@Scott M


Been there, done that!!!

Self anger is the best kind, it promotes growth :)

bagoh20 said...

I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!

Now, anybody up for pizza, or some Chinese?


"I'm a human being. my life has value!"

Are you sure about that?

Florida said...

Let's remember:

In March of 2010, then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Reps. John Lewis and Emmanual Cleaver ginned up a stroll into a crowd of protestors, hoping to provoke violence.

Getting none, they then enlisted fellow liberals in the media to claim that regular Americans protesting health care taxes had cried "nigger" 15 times and spat on them.

Despite journalist Andrew Breitbart putting up $100,000 to any liberal who could produce one second of video of one person saying "nigger" one time ... not one liberal could produce one piece of video of it.

Because it never happened. It was all a vicious lie.

These are blood libels ... fighting words. No begging for civility by Democrats can follow such actions.

We will give you fucking bastards no quarter; you deserve none.

P.S. Salon still has their libelous article up on the web:


Phil 3:14 said...

love that scene. Typical Chayefsky. Similar to a rant from The Hospital

Hospital rant begins here (go to *:30 mark)

and continues here (from beginning to about 4:00 minute mark)

Chayeksky is an equal-opportunity destroyer of hypocrisy and conceit. He also seems to like disturbed actors shouting out the window. He was clearly ahead of his time in assessing the Zeitgeist (yeah, I used that word) of our time.

I saw "The Hospital" as a teen and it was a major motivator for me to go into Medicine. Still one of my favorite medical movies.

Scott M said...

...we're a verbose crowd today, are we not?

Pogo said...

And here I thought that if you aren't angry or outraged, you haven't been paying attention.

It's so hard to keep up.

Is saying nice things one of the new healthcare rules?

edutcher said...

Halo Joe has never had a problem playing the smartass, although he's hideously under-equipped for it. He's spent a lot of time over the years telling people to shut up because he's smarter than they are.

Larry J said...

Anger has its place but it clouds judgment if allowed to dominate your thinking. The proverbial "angry young man" (almost always a leftist) has been romanticized but often, he's just a self-righteous bore.

To wit

Lincolntf said...

"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation,..."

Possibly the scariest statement ever made by a sitting U.S. President. Of course, I hear "...a tool of The Party" where he says "empowerment".

knox said...

He's a total dumbass, but I still like Joe Biden. I would be sooooo happy if Obama stepped down and he was Prez. We could at least laugh it up while the country goes down the tubes.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Let fury rule the hour, anger can be power, if you know how to use it!"

- The Clash

MadisonMan said...

Back in 1976, my Mom walked out of Network, because of the language. It's the only movie -- that I recall -- that she ever walked out of.

Gene said...

bagoh20: "I'm a human being. my life has value!"

Are you sure about that?

You may have perhaps heard of the Desiderata's oft-suppressed seventh paragraph:

You are a fluke Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back.

John said...

Which branch of government is VP Joe Biden in?

Executive or Legislative?

He didn't know. Palin did. She even knew a bit abotu the duties of the VP.

Perhaps the Althouse Hillbillies (I am proud to be one)know which.

It will make you smarter than slow Joe. Pretty low bar, I admit, but we have to start somewhere.

John Henry

chr1 said...

This makes me want to go and join the Coffee Party.

madAsHell said...

I think my handle says it all!!