"L'esprit de l'escalier – The Wisdom of the Staircase"


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Dude! A scandal.


1. Best Behavior


A recent front-page article in The New York Times mentioned two specific attacks used by bullies at summer camp. The first was, "I'm the boss of this camp, and if I don't like you, you're in trouble," and the second was, "Don't be a girl." ("A Preventive Eye to Bullying, Once Held to Be Camp Custom," by Jane Gross, reporting from West Copake, N.Y., The New York Times, Monday, June 28, 2004.)


In a weeklong orientation, counselors under the direction of a visiting psychologist, offered suggestions for remedies to the first insult above: "(1.) put kid in contact with other, nicer kids; (2.) contact the bully's parents; (3.) demand an apology from the offender and a signed contract about future behavior; (4.) put the kids in different bunks."


The article went on to suggest a particularly astonishing remedy: "(5.) give special attention to the typical victims, children easily humiliated because they are unathletic, timid, disabled or less attractive than their peers."


Hello! Everybody gets bullied! It's everywhere. To say only the truly weird get bullied is such a lie! (–Source: taxi1010.com stargate39)


When I told an attractive female attorney in my taxicab today the second insult, aimed at boys, "Don't be a girl!" she added, "Oh, yeah, and what about, 'Don't be emotional?' Lawyers sometimes say that to female attorneys in a mediation."


The day after I read that article, I registered VerbalTools.com on the Internet. Because what's missing? Nobody ever says, "Teach kids [especially bullies, who learned by being bullied!] how to respond!"


This is VerbalTools.com. It's strange none of the experts registered that URL before.


Sometimes I think there's a taboo against teaching people how to think. So, let's see ... You're going to go swimming ... We'll just throw you in the ocean and let you explore? You're going to build a tree house ... We'll just give you some wood, and maybe a long section of rope? You do get the idea.


Rhetorical tools solve specific problems, and are quite optional. They simply augment what you already know! Shouldn't people add to their choices of how to build a tree house? Even a teenager or 5th-grade kid can use hammers, saws, nails, rope, knives, drills, screwdrivers, electrical cords and other tools when they're in the mood, and at other times simply go up in the old shack and play with friends.



I got a funny invitation early this week. Grabbing a wet towel to wipe overnight salt and grime off my steering wheel, I encountered someone emerging from another part of the restroom who had clearly been disgusted by what he'd seen. He invited me to come over and take a peek by saying, "You'd think some of these people live in pigsties, wouldn't you?" Not feeling like jumping into the sewer with him, I said, "Dude! A scandal." and walked away without further commiseration.


When people tell you what to say or do, you don't have to — You can just say something funny!


"You'd think some of these people live in pigsties, wouldn't you?"
—Dude! A scandal.


"Entities don't live above water."
—Dude! A scandal.


"I'm not myself today."
—Dude! A scandal.


"BANK OF AMERICA Balance Inquiry 5379 BALANCE $0.01."
—Dude! A scandal.


"Is everything okay?"
—Dude! A scandal.


"Uh-oh! Trouble in paradise?"


Hmm. This is a problem ... In this case, "Dude! A scandal." doesn't really work.



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