Violence in America

by Dr. Efram Tinklholland, BFD. LSD, LSMFT

From a recent release “Verbalization – Underplaying Violence in America – The far away threat to do bodily harm

In our hectic lives we encounter interactions which might be perceived as harmful or hazardous. Immediately the fight or flight mechanism shifts into gear, triggering an appropriate (or inappropriate) response from the host human. Stress factors such as freeway driving, mega existence, fiscal status, other people and, yes, drugs and alcohol, can create a Jekyll and Hyde response with the slightest provocation. Verbal attacks and even physical threats can be generated by friends and enemies as well as strangers and acquaintances.
Here are some everyday aggressions, spoken or implied by aggressive body language in a prelude to a conflict:

“You keep that up and you’ll be picking your teeth out of your socks”. Sure it’s cute, and even clever enough but in actuality there has never been a recorded case of this redistribution of bicuspids or dentures, at least in the civilized world. The saying originated at the Little Chef Saloon in Ridgway back in the late 70s and has no application to the modern day town where people prefer lawsuits to fisticuffs.

“In just a moment, it’s gonna be open season on your face.” Popular during the fall hunting seasons even though everyone knows there is no official calendar period for violent threats. Friday and Saturday nights appear to be the most likely time but a mid-week brawl is not out of the question. The reference to “in a minute” shows both restraint and indecision and is misleading in that most perpetrators of violence are far more impulsive in application.

“I’m going to punch your lights out.” Likely reference to the fabled knock-out punch and to 25-watt true enlightenment, an elusive station on a bar stool. Rarely has connection to electricity but could leave participants in the dark over what to do for an encore. Voltage not a consideration although two of our friends Oral and Muriel DesPlants did manage to punch out all of the electric fixtures at Red’s Gravy Heaven one night doing $8 worth of damage.

“Watch your mouth!” This contortion, like so many other figures of speech, is physically impossible to achieve without the presence of mirrors or an embarrassing flare up of rubber lip syndrome. Here we observe the speaker offering the offending party another chance if he will simply stove it. No one expects potential sparring partners to roll their eyes in a downward spiral or perform a dangerous horizontal spin. We have seen people lose vertigo on this one and fall onto their faces long before the first punch has been thrown. Even Bill Shakespeare had some splendid advice on the subject: “Do ye not bother the bullfrog…for he is croaking for ancestors. Watch thine own yapper or he shall wop you in the gob…and away be squashed like a plum under the wheel.”

“I’ll slap you silly.” Usually meant as a recreational or off-handed threat rather than an attempt at industrial intimidation. If the conversation continues to go bad, the threatened slap ends up a punch and the recipient may actually end up silly. More likely the anger will subside before the action is embraced. Brawls and scuffles can leave one silly, which is not to be confused with funny.

“You’re gonna get your butt kicked.” This is the clearest intention to inflict pain, injury, damage or other hostile action on another in retribution for something done or undone. In this episode the potential attacker focuses on a different part of the body to make his or her point. Kicking someone in the butt can jeopardize both parties in the middle of a fracas and can lead to a loss of face. Biting is safer, more specific and certainly employs the element of surprise.

“You’re going to the Moon, Alice.” Sociologically speaking this utterance could be the most famous of all literary, domestic threats since Tennessee Williams, Virginia Woolf or even Charlie Dickens. This familiar early warning was coined by Ralph Cramden in “The Honeymooners”. Cramden was a bus driver in New York and the threat was usually voiced about 2/3 of the way through an argument with his wife, the smart-mouthed Alice, who did not take it lightly. In almost eight years of marriage Cramden never made good on his promise and Alice never left the planet. Living in a walk-up. cold water flat may not have been the epitome of elegance but it provided a great set for the domestic struggle. His intentions were often directed toward sewer worker Ed Norton but rarely if ever toward Norton’s wife Trixie. Men: If you choose to go this route, remember to substitute the name Alice for the name of your significant other.

Filed Under: Fractured Opinion


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