When you can’t break fingers...

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Now that we’re no longer allowed to duel, it’s hard to know what is an appropriate response in the face of an assault on your principles or honour, writes Lisa Scott.

Lisa Scott
Lisa Scott
Duel (VERB): an arranged engagement in combat between two people, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules. In the 17th and 18th centuries, duels were mostly fought with swords (the rapier, and later the small sword), and later using pistols. Duels were fought not so much to kill the opponent as to gain satisfaction and restore one's honour.

Now that we’re no longer allowed to duel, it’s hard to know what is an appropriate response in the face of an assault on your principles or honour. There’s no glove slap. No little pistols at dawn. The intricacies of the correct etiquette are nuanced, and I’ll be the first to admit my own conflict resolution style needs some work. Back when I was seeing a fat bald Welshman, we clashed over individual moral codes. I was of the opinion that a man should date one woman at a time, while he thought three was the correct number. Strongly disagreeing and feeling an offence to my honour, I reached out to the neighbour, a lovely man, who happened to be an ex enforcer of a well-known gang.

"Could you have someone break his fingers for me?" I asked. I had been crying and my eyes looked like pistachios in the shell.

"We don’t do that kind of thing, Bub," he said. "Have you tried talking it out?"

This didn’t seem to gel with their marketing and may, in fact, have been a breach of advertising standards. However, he was right. Tolerance and acceptance are key to maintaining harmony amongst mankind and asking ex mobsters to break people’s fingers is illegal.

Anyway, elections are another minefield, a time when one must discover the correct manners for coping with vexation. My specific area of difficulty is people who are blatantly of a different political stripe - despite trying really, really hard, I’m apt to dislike them and be unable to appreciate other qualities they might have that I might find worthy, like kindness to animals and the ability to make beetroot chutney. I’m the same with anti-vaxxers. I can’t help it; I think they’re mental.

In a non-election year, you only find out about people’s political bent at Christmas time, when the only course of action is to pour more wine. Just keep pouring, saturate that sh*t, drown it out before there’s a food fight. You can call it out at another time when your mum hasn’t been cooking all day.

Before the Government we have now was elected, if it wasn’t Christmas you couldn’t find a National voter for love nor money. There obviously were some, because, John Key, but danged if they’d put their hands up and admit it.

Things have changed and Facebook banner culture means folks now wear their political affiliations on their profile pic. And while no political party has a monopoly on obnoxiousness, hysteria or foolishness, I’m constantly having to remind myself of the importance of tolerating political difference, remind myself that National voters are people, too. But, Lord it’s hard. The conspiracies, the leg tattoos, the misogyny. Yes, everyone thinks they are rational. That their point of view is valid. Flat earthers are always posting pictures of the horizon and saying "See? It’s flat!" Confirmation bias means you don’t need to disprove things, you just need to create doubt. Plandemics ... lockdown is a chance for the Government to change the batteries in the spy pigeons ... confirmation bias is like the yellow brick road: it leads you where you want to go, but what’s behind the curtain isn’t always what you thought it was.

Due to algorithmic factors, the Facebook banner culture has seeped into Tinder, where it’s a very good thing indeed that people are declaring they vote National right there on their profile picture. Because just imagine if you shagged them and they started moaning on about "Cindy" or talking about Socialism with the same ignorance Alanis Morrissette demonstrated about the meaning of irony. It would be awkward, so awkward. This way, you know exactly what kind of person they are and can just swipe left. Which is all very well - but how do you cope when people disagree with you politically in real life? First, ask them to explain it. When they do, it will sound messed up to them, too. If that doesn’t work, pour more wine. Just keep pouring. No matter how grievous the assault on your principles, do not resort to a rapier and whatever you do, don’t have sex with them.

 

Comments

Since you mention the unseemly practice of sooty shearwatering people, here's a surefire way of putting intellectuals off their stroke.

Say "Marx". They will deflate instantly, and start upon the ponderous practice of Thinking.

If you want to lose a Tory, take him to the Railway yards. Fear of meeting railwomen sends them scarpering.

Unless the Lefties control 100% of the conversation, they're not happy.

They love debate, as long as everyone agrees with them and they don't have to think too hard.

Jack, are you having a dream?

This is not a Conversation. It's an Opinion piece. In this form, the columnist riffs on her own experience. The comment thread is by a nonentity.

Curmudgeon.

I loved the bit about the "fat bald Welshman" thinking that a man should date three women at a time. That really cracked me up.
I guess the dating pool is getting very small.
The complaint I hear most is that Kiwi men don't know how to date. Maybe they don't fancy having their ear bent to get laid.
I guess that's why the "fat bald Welshman" was in with a chance but then he decided it was time for an out.
Great line. It had her stewing for days and it still occupies her mind.

Iaccheda! Since you speculate, the fbw is certain to be in a brown study, bach,
distressed, playing the country song "I'm not Lisa", having lost because of rampant priaprism.

It is Not A Man's World.

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