Article first appeared in DearHabermas, March 14, 2004



Dear Habermas
A Journal of
Postmodern and
Critical Thought



VOL 19 NO 8


by Jeanne Curran A site maintained by Richard Ames Hart and devoted to teaching us non-escalating verbal defense against bullies and other thoughtless creatures who make our world uncomfortable and damage our self esteem.

See especially Mind Candy Caution. The f-word appears very infrequently in some of the quotes. (I think I saw it once.) I'm sure not in the Kids' section, but in Mind Candy. I did not find it objectionable at all. But warning is for our children viewing material on their own. If you've got kids around, or never gave up your own childhood, try Children's Stories by Amoret Sprunt Phillips & Sam & Bonnie & Who's That Bird?

I liked the art and the crazy sense of humor, the honesty, and the style. It's a big site. You'll need to immerse yourself in it a little. You'll have to be able to understand illocutionary discourse, and be willing in good faith to go along with the premise of preparing ourselves to deal competently with interpersonal relationships in which the Other offends us, especially when the offensiveness is intentional or due to the Other's insensitivity in failing to allow respect for our answerability. That's important stuff. But it's handled lightly and with humor. There's even art like we include on our site.

I didn't have much time, but think the essence is that you don't have to take offense in silence. There is answerability, remember. And this site helps teach us some of the skills needed to answer by letting the righteous anger go, and walking away. What do you say when . . . is not really something you can memorize, but I like the suggestion that actors get a lot of practice, and that we need some of that same practice. Gee, maybe there's a project here? Meanwhile, I thought you'd have fun with the site. I've been reading MIND CANDY and trying to remember to give crazy responses with abandon. Unfortunately, I didn't have a ready crazy response to "we don't believe in censorship." Maybe, "neither do I, so why are we engaging in it here?" instead of just repeating "I am offended by the image, and you need to deal with that offensiveness here and now." I did ultimately walk away, but I hadn't released the anger. See, we need this stuff. If someone's going to do a project for the Spring, maybe I could work with the team, too? jeanne

For starters, you might want to look at this quote, from Elixir of Taxi:


"The pictures on these pages come from a hidden place deep within. Seeing them, our 'deep self' connects to our early childhood. The moment we see a buried trauma of our youth, we free ourselves. We can convert depression into intelligent expressions of anger. We can sense fear as adrenaline, rather than letting fear chain us and immobilize us. We can divert negativity into winds that blow our sails across the oceans of emotion."


[Jeanne Curran, Ph.D., Esq., Department of Sociology, California State University, Dominguez Hills, CA, USA. Professor Curran's specialties include classical and modern theory, methodology, statistics, feminist theory, social theory (including philosophy), law and social justice, and different approaches to research and to understanding Others and the social world in which we live.

Note. «Esq», for Esquire, indicates Jeanne is a member of the California Bar]



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Illustration by Amoret Phillips /