Whenever I hear insults, directed at me or someone else, I always find myself invariably disappointed at the lack of ingenuity used in the attempt; it’s always the same coarse language arranged in the same way.

I lament the fact that people feel the need to be so rude in the first place, but in my opinion if you’re going to be nasty do it in an interesting and/or entertaining way; and who could forget the cold politeness of Jean Luc Picard’s putdowns or the cryptic tones of Bob Dylan? In fact, every time I hear a bad insult, or a crude word, most often used because someone has too much energy to be nice but not enough energy to be creative, I always hear the first chords of Ballad of a Thin Man or Positively 4th Street as if my brain is trying to improve the pathetic offering I just heard.

In fact, the one thing that frustrates me the most about the modern world is how we spend so long doing certain things yet remain so stubbornly awful at them. I’ve always believed a blank face and a cold tone to be superior to an angry threat, yet I never hear any calmly made cutting remarks. Perhaps they’re just always drowned out by large amounts of pointless shouting. Talking with someone you dislike, if it cannot be civil, should at least be the practice of good diplomacy; diplomacy in this case being the fine art of telling someone to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.

Whether we were ever creative in our insults, by ‘we’ I mean humanity, I don’t know, but the lack of it indicates a loss of both creativity and discipline. After all, it takes a great strength of will to keep calm and also manage to deliver an appropriately scathing and clever remark.

Therefore, I don’t believe I agree with the maxim that if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. Rather, if you are unable to be insulting in a competent and poetic fashion, then just be polite.


Photo by torbakhopper on Flickr

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