“Silence Is Violence.”
The leftist slogan — which is now current but, like most slogans, has been around for a long, long time — brings joy to my heart.
I know, the Right has denounced its “totalitarian” assertion that people are guilty unless they’re busy proving their innocence. I also know that the slogan has a peculiar emptiness, sort of like that old favorite, “The People United Can Never Be Defeated.” Who are “the people”? Grad students in philosophy? Trump voters? Mechanics in Maine? The spouses of mechanics in Maine? Christian Scientists, perhaps? Or possibly the gentlemen who always write to complain when I disparage the Single Tax? But of course, you’re supposed to know what “the people” means, just as you’re supposed to know what “God’s church” is, and if you don’t . . . You’re not a people. You see what I mean. “People” may mean anything, so it comes down to meaning . . . nothing.
If silence is violence, then I have a ticket to avenge myself on innumerable entities that I detest so much that I can barely stand to speak of them.
And “Silence Is Violence” is even emptier. Imagine that somebody takes the hint and loudly denounces Black Lives Matter. That means he’s a pacifist, right? Or is he a fascist? It’s a mystery.
These objections can be considered, but to dwell on them is to miss the vein. If silence is violence, then I have a ticket to avenge myself on innumerable entities that I detest so much that I can barely stand to speak of them. And not just a ticket to go there, but the reality of being there already. I didn’t know it, but I am already, in the privacy of my own home, ripping, shredding, demeaning, dishonoring (whatever word is right in a given instance) such things as:
- Trollope’s novels
- Cities and counties in which government employees are in the top 10% of annual income
- People who tell us we should all work together
- Businesses that donate their customers’ and stockholders’ money to political or other “charitable” causes
- Vandals, puritan iconoclasts, destroyers of statues, censors of any kind
- People who talk about crime but never heard of crime statistics
- People who can’t talk without saying that what they’re talking about is the greatest or the worst in history
- All men and women who worship at the Mystic Shrine of the Mask
- My Urban History teacher, who made us read Joyce Carol Oates’ cheap and disgusting book Them, claiming it was “a blockbuster of a novel,” while otherwise acting as if he were a thousand miles above his material
- Speakers who present “if it saves just one life” as an irrefutable argument
- People who call themselves “activists”
- People who “advocate for”
- All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs
- All persons who on shaking hands, shake hands with you like that
- The Olympics
- Burt Lancaster (except that he’s dead)
- Anyone who proposes anything “for the children” — unless it’s a tax decrease, which it never is
- People who use the word “systemic”
- People who claim that humor “trivializes” their favorite “issues”
- People who use the word “issues”
I don’t like to talk about these things. I’m sorry I even mentioned them. But rest assured, there are many, many more that I didn’t mention.
And now I find, though I knew it not, that I have the power to ravage them! In fact — ha ha! — I am now ravaging them. Even as you read these words (as I hope you are, because Not Reading Is Violence), they are feeling my wrath!
But ask yourself: am I being silent about you?