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...at the end of the day, we're specimens to be dissected, examined and studied so that you may teach a "lesson" that you view as important. ...
February 17, 2007 1:01 PM   Subscribe

We Are Not Freaks --from Silber's Power of Narrative--and applicable to all who fall outside the norms.
posted by amberglow (31 comments total)

 
Here's the important part:
I am not a Freak. To those of you who think I am, no matter how subtly, and to those of you who have to exert so much diligent effort in your miserable attempt to "understand" and "tolerate" me, I now have only one thing to say:

God damn you to hell.
I read the whole thing, but I don't think it's great. It's convoluted and seems to be embedded in an involved context, too -- some "overintellectual" discussion of the war, "that lengthy thread at TAPPED." What comes through is anger at being thought of as abnormal, and a dose of more generalized rage aimed at a (perceived) culture of analysis and intellectualism (OMG "we speak of statistics"!!11).

Everybody needs somebody to hate. (Film at 11?)
posted by grobstein at 1:30 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Everybody needs somebody to hate.

(Can I clarify that? I don't mean I'm Pro-Hate; I mean I think the linked rant is hateful and misdirected.)
posted by grobstein at 1:31 PM on February 17, 2007


I read it as him trying to tie it in to a larger view--how this view of "others" (as freaks) runs through the entirety of our policy and discourse about everything.
posted by amberglow at 1:34 PM on February 17, 2007


grobstein, the "everybody needs somebody to hate" is more applicable to those create the "freaks", no?

Isn't that partly his point too--that unless you're one of those pegged that way, you don't really see it, and might even see the anger it causes and the responses to it as the hating, instead of seeing the original actions and attitudes about "others" as the actual hate?
posted by amberglow at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2007


Even if you are not ordinarily "pegged that way" [as a freak], amberglow, you can be seen as an outsider or as abnormal or as an object of hate. People who self-identify as freaks can claim a greater degree of distance from some sorts of centers, but the people in the centers they're far from are still freaks to somebody.
posted by cgc373 at 1:43 PM on February 17, 2007


Is this written by a teenager...or have all the editors in the world been struck down by the blow that was meant for the adolescently, precociously, and overblown self-indulgent?
posted by mongonikol at 2:05 PM on February 17, 2007



I'm 58 now. I first became aware that most of you think I'm a Freak almost half a century ago. You should think about what that means, what it does to a person, and about the survival strategies we are forced to adopt, often so that we can simply get through the day.

This seems a bit overly dramatic and self righteous. The world can be a mean ugly place. Figure out a way to have fun anyway, that's the secret.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:10 PM on February 17, 2007


i was hoping for him to get to the point eventually. I haven't the faintest idea what the hell that was supposed to be about
posted by empath at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Everybody's a freak to somebody.
posted by konolia at 2:40 PM on February 17, 2007


Says the one whose discourse does not a little to make the rest of us freaks.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:01 PM on February 17, 2007


Even though I would agree with I am not a Freak. To those of you who think I am, no matter how subtly, and to those of you who have to exert so much diligent effort in your miserable attempt to "understand" and "tolerate" me, I now have only one thing to say: God damn you to hell. if I got that far, it's hard to get past the first paragraph:

we live in a culture that suffers from severe emotional repression. Those issues that matter the most, that are genuinely sacred in the most profound sense of that word, are kept at a distance.

No, silly, it's just that society gets passionately emotional about stuff like cars and shoes, those being genuinely sacred (to most people) in the most profound sense of that word.

Sheesh!
posted by Listener at 3:09 PM on February 17, 2007


**Proud to be somebody else's Freak.
posted by isopraxis at 3:18 PM on February 17, 2007


oh well--i thought it was interesting.

related, i think: Why's He Gotta Go Making Life Hard for Bigots?
posted by amberglow at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2007


Amberglow, tell me what you thought was interesting. I'm curious. The first paragraph sounded a bit like me when I was 12 years old, so a wall went up that made it nigh impossible to go further. (sorry to be a slacker on this topic. I really should be interested, considering I've always been pointed to as one of those freaks.)
posted by Listener at 3:41 PM on February 17, 2007


He ties together the macro and micro and actually brings up something rarely discussed given the widespread and resurgent "othering" we read and hear every day about all sorts of people and groups. This is the point, and it's important: ... "But, Arthur, why are you so angry? Do you think expressing that kind of anger will help to change anyone's mind, or encourage others to try to look at these issues from a different perspective?" ...
It doesn't fully capture the emotional reality of being marginalized, being excluded, and very often being ridiculed, and even demonized. ...


Why is it Arthur's responsibility (or anyone targeted) to change how they react to it all instead of those who are creating that pain and discrimination? Why is that response so common, and even popped up immediately in this thread?

The whole thing creates victims, and then further victimizes those people who dare to speak up about it. Meanwhile, those who victimize continue and even ratchet it up.

very related:
Faith, hope, love and contrition

posted by amberglow at 4:06 PM on February 17, 2007


(and from the comments there: ...When I try to describe the influence of the rhetoric of the religious right on me, I always come back to the word exhausting. It is exhausting to be someone's political football, someone's scapegoat, someone's focal point of virulent dislake and hatred. And it is especially exhausting because I believe that Christianity has so much potential to move its followers to love their fellow man and instead they turn it into hatred and oppression. ...)
posted by amberglow at 4:08 PM on February 17, 2007


Speak for yourselves.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:13 PM on February 17, 2007


and this was the first response even here: I mean I think the linked rant is hateful and misdirected.

If you can't speak of things (that repression Silber talks of), and if your reaction to the real pain caused by others and their actions is to accuse those being hurt of being hateful and misdirected instead of dealing with the essential wrongs themselves--who's actually misdirecting things? what is it that makes us do this? why? what does it do? is there any way to actually deal with these things or talk about them? Has reducing and impersonalizing things really done anything to fix or even lessen any of this in regards to any of the "othering"? Is there no solution then and people should just shut up and suck it up? etc...
posted by amberglow at 4:19 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know--maybe Silber doesn't explain it well, and i can't explain it well, but it's important. (Look at how dirtynumbangel was treated here, (just one example) and how his responses were considered over-the-top and out of proportion to the things he was responding to. People responded to his reaction to things instead of those things themselves--as if that was the real issue.)
posted by amberglow at 4:27 PM on February 17, 2007


amberglow : "if your reaction to the real pain caused by others and their actions is to accuse those being hurt of being hateful and misdirected instead of dealing with the essential wrongs themselves--who's actually misdirecting things?"

Depends on the individual case. Some people respond to being hurt without being hateful/misdirected, some people respond to being hurt by being hateful/misdirected. Some respond to being hurt by hurting others, some don't. Being hurt sucks, but it isn't a get out of jail free card.

(Note: all generalities, not specifically related to this particular link)
posted by Bugbread at 4:43 PM on February 17, 2007


I don't want to get too MetaTalky, here, amberglow, but are you saying you think dirtynumbangelboy's behavior in that thread was appropriate? 'Cuz where I'm standing, it sounded shrill, almost crazy. If you're drawing an equivalence between the "fruity callout" thread and the ideas behind this post's "Power of Narrative" stuff, I'm worried that I missed something important, something I'm failing to see at all about courtesy or victims or something.
posted by cgc373 at 5:24 PM on February 17, 2007


Dying in a fire--now that hurts. Being considered a freak by people who are themselves pretty freakish--meh, what's for dinner?
posted by jfuller at 6:10 PM on February 17, 2007


i don't want this to be about dirtynumb. it was just to show that when you speak up, people focus on you and how you spoke up instead of the point and those you spoke of.

try this one: He hates me-- ...sometimes frightening messages are projected through very large microphones.

And sometimes the result is devastating. ...
(ESPN)
posted by amberglow at 7:11 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, some of us look at the norm and we want to be freaks. I'd much rather be odd, then be fascinated by T.V. stars.
posted by oddman at 7:39 PM on February 17, 2007


you may as well be hung for a wolf as for a dog
posted by pyramid termite at 7:39 PM on February 17, 2007


You're either with us or against us

Jesus, the article in question links to this one. How's that for dividing the world into freaks and non-freaks?

And he is a freak. I mean that in the strictest definition, he is not the norm. He is different than the majority of the population.

I have a cynical view about the world. I pretty much believe that the separation of groups, and the persecution of the "other" is pretty ingrained into the human conscience, by nature and nurture. That not an excuse. One of the things that separates us from most animals is the ability to take our instinctual reactions and tell them to go to hell.

Like I said though, I'm cynical, and being blusteringly angry at this reactions seems ineffectual. Rail against the rain, but the rain still falls, so to speak.

cgc373: I think amberglow was referring to the response given by the other participants in the metatalk thread. I disagree that the thread had the tenor it did because of his/her sexual orientation. It was just the backdrop. The real reason was the self-righteous indignation. If a fat person had made a similar thread, sooner or later there would have been a "HURF DURF BUTTER EATER" post. In this case, assless chaps. You steal your sister's doll because she will cry, you kick the dog because it will howl.
posted by zabuni at 11:52 PM on February 17, 2007


What's wrong with a little freakiness or abnormality?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:34 AM on February 18, 2007


From PBS, What's Normal?: Overcoming Obstacles and StereotypesNormal...Defined?:
We're born how we're born, whether it's with a disability or with impossibly frizzy hair. We are who we are, because of our personalities or our ethnic backgrounds or our sexual orientation or our wacky families.

Normal. You have to define it for yourself, just like everything else in life.
We're all different, and new differences appear every second.
posted by cenoxo at 2:29 AM on February 18, 2007


I'm not a sports guy at all, but that Page 2 article was excellent. The main link was interesting, too, but that one was the real powerful one for me. Thanks!
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 8:50 AM on February 18, 2007


I don't get it. I read the article and I understand his point about how being "othered" for your entire life is a huge emotional burden and it's wrong for anyone to place another person in the "Freak" category... but what the fuck does any of that have to do with the government sanctioned torture and murder he brought up in the first section?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:49 PM on February 18, 2007


grapefruitmoon writes "I read the article and I understand his point about how being "othered" for your entire life is a huge emotional burden and it's wrong for anyone to place another person in the "Freak" category...what the fuck does any of that have to do with the government sanctioned torture and murder he brought up in the first section?"

I think he's exhorting us not to consider government sanctioned torturers or murders as freaks, as it's wrong for anyone to place another person in the "Freak" category.
posted by Bugbread at 5:51 PM on February 19, 2007


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