My case for why words aren't violence
They can cause harm for sure, but they're not "violence"
I believe I qualify as an old fuck by now. Just turned 46 last week, and I know that I reached the summit of the proverbial hill quite some time ago, that I’m on my way down the other side. Most of the time I just try to ignore that problem and hope it’ll go away, which I guess it will sooner or later.
As an old fuck, I’m set in my ways in certain respects. If you spend thirty years or more hearing that certain words mean certain things and then you hear that they’re supposed to mean something else, you’re probably gonna say “No, it doesn’t mean that. It’s never meant that.”
The word “violence” meant, like, physically doing damage to a person or an object when I was ten. Or trying to damage it. Like you swing at a person or an object with a fist or a weapon or whatever, that’s violence. When I was twenty, that’s what it meant. When I was thirty, that’s what it meant.
When I was forty, I think that’s still what it meant…but over the next six years starting I-don’t-know-when, things started to change.
I believe the first time I ever read a post saying that there was such a thing as being violent with words, I looked at it like I would look at the claim that what was previously known as the human race would now be known as penguins, and vice versa.
Like it was written by a crazy person, which it might have been. (I also spent like four decades living in a world where you could call somebody crazy and nobody gave a shit, including people with real mental health issues, so I’m not going to stop that just because it’s supposedly “ableist” now.)
A while later, AOC would claim that anybody saying “Fuck [AOC] and fuck anyone who defends her” was “violence”, after Jimmy Dore had said that about her and people who defend her.
No, that is not violence. And I promised to make a case why not, so here’s my case:
If you die because somebody fired a rocket launcher at you, that is violence.
If you die because you got cancer and it killed you, that is not violence. That is a disease. It’s still bad because it makes you suffer and die, but something that makes your life hell isn’t necessarily “violence”. You don’t need to call something “violence” in order for people to take it seriously.
What if you die because you’ve been subjected to non-stop harassment for a long enough period of time where you just can’t take it any more and you decide to end it all? That’s also bad, and that’s also hell—can confirm, went through exactly that myself—but that is not “violence”, unless the method of the suicide or suicide attempt was violent. If you picked up the rocket launcher from the previous example and used that on yourself, yeah, that’s pretty violent. If you swallowed pills, that isn’t violent. Barring a “violent seizure” or a similar result of overdosing, going the pill route is peaceful, which is the whole reason why people who reach that point do it instead of something violent.
Basically I’m just a stubborn old fuck who sees no reason to start changing the definition of words now. And saying “words are violence” to me sounds as ridiculous as saying “printers are crayons” or “clouds are butter” or “tic tac toe is water polo”.
Words can do damage and I really am sympathetic to people who’ve been hurt by words. Because once again, I’ve been there myself. But AS somebody who’s been there himself, I never thought of it as violence. Because it was all mental or emotional, and that’s different from violence. Violence isn’t just anything that results in any kind of damage whatsoever. Violence is the kind of thing that can cause physical damage.