Letter from the Editor - Nut-Rage!
Again I write you from my mountaintop retreat in the Catskills mountains, sipping Gorilla Coffee brought up from the Fair Trade roaster in Park Slope, attempting to foment revolution through the photocopied means of production.
A mama black bear and three baby bears came through my yard and sniffed the BBQ grill and then frolicked in the woods where I toss our vegetables. “Shannon, that will attract bears!” “I know!”
Life would seem idyllic, if it weren’t for my constant nagging outrage.
I thought that maybe falling in love would settle me down. I’ve spent most of my life with my fists in the air, fighting for others, fighting for myself, fighting injustice, fighting shadows. So I was worried that being happy for a change would mean having to put my fists down. But happy does not mean complacent. Happy is having a boyfriend who puts my fists back in my lap when it’s just a shadow or not worth my energy. He knows I need to save my energy for the real battles, where I know he’ll fight alongside me.
So here is a new issue of Pipe Up! Because outrage is as important as love. But it’s gotta be the right kind of outrage, the right kind of love. Many of us have spent far too much time playing nice, choosing our words carefully, politely whispering our reasonable protests because of a deep love for this country and its democratic institutions, while the other side corners the market on outrage, in the sense of “outrages”, violent, unforgivable acts committed in our name, and also through the stranglehold they have on the media that jumps every time they scream “outrage” (in the sense of offending their offensive sensibilities.) Against this onslaught, and seeking peace, many of us had stopped fighting. I think Michael Moore’s movie has done a great deal to awaken us.
So, fists up:
Obviously, outrage defines not only the acts, both the violent ones and the more subjective offenses to one’s sensibilities, but also the anger aroused by the act.
The examples the first kinds of acts of outrage are sadly not hard to find at present. The war in Iraq, needless civilian and military casualties, and prison abuses, vicious attacks on free speech, civil liberties, and reproductive rights. And there arises from these acts a rightful outrage. It’s here, it’s there. It’s buried in thoughtful analysis of situations that no one reads. It is quiet. If it gets any media attention, that quickly fades.
But then there’s a whole other use of the word that gets much play in the mainstream media, personal outrage over “offensive” acts. Limbaugh likes to cry “OUTRAGE!”
At the Senate investigation into abuses at Abu Ghraib: Senator James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma expressed his outrage thus:
I’m not sure why he felt he had to say this, but another way he could have said it is: I am more OUTRAGED by the OUTRAGE than by the OUTRAGES committed. I am outraged that anyone cares about our acts and image in the world.
It was fun
when my brother-in-law was OUTRAGED at the OUTRAGE at the OUTRAGE (about
the prison outrages.)
Outrage from the right gets lots of press, reasonable responses from the left do not.
Some are so good at outrage, they even use it to attack their own from the right. Here are a few about the marriage amendment:
And while the rest of us walked out of the theater shocked, speechless, guilty, depressed, the chorus and chorus masters of outrage were in full force even in advance of Michael Moore’s film. Outraged that he would have the audacity to tell the truth.
I’m not trying to tell people how to mourn their dead, but are they really more outraged by Moore’s film than by the lies and failed policy that killed their loved ones? Perhaps we’d all wake up and go to bed OUTRAGED if our government did not have a ban on photos of the war dead. The contents of those caskets, and the memories of the dead souls within, belong to the families, but in the public spectacle of war, of which we are all complicit as manufacturers and consumers, those images belong to us.
From the left, I found some visceral and musical outrage.
“Perhaps the most entertaining moments of Outfoxed, which almost overcomes its poor production values through visceral OUTRAGE, come from clips showing Fox anchors and reporters parroting Republican Party talking points.” Globe and Mail
To truly love anything, you also have to be ready to be outraged when the things you love are threatened. Did those guys yelling for the marriage amendment really feel marriage was threatened?
So I’m looking for a word to replace outrage here, something that defines anger without the resentment. Because resentment is a poison you take hoping the other will die.
To start, you have to seek the right kind of love. The kind that fills you with the personal, internal strength of your convictions, not the kind that makes you a paranoid obsessive, afraid of any other version of love, trying to subject others to your version of love, trying to get others to share your outrage.
In fact, I propose we do away with outrage altogether. Start by doing away with outrages. Do away with the acts of violence and viciousness, do away with the insults, the righteous posturing, and instead take to the streets, take to the polls, saying, we’re mad.
Yes, mad is a good word. We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore. And then hopefully, we can put our fists back in our laps and enjoy our loved ones, this great nation, and our fellowship with other nations, and rest up for our next big fight.
You guys keep piping up, and I’ll keep printing it, typos and all. Love has made me lazy, but not about the things that matter.
Hey look, bears!
Shannon Manning is a filmmaker and comedian who lives in Brooklyn and edits this magazine.