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The peremptory discourse of petty power
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works.... (Matt 5:16)
Attention reader: If the shoe herein described doesn't fit you, please don't think I'm trying to make you wear it!
1.When parents complain that a child "isn't listening", they are only infrequently hypothesizing that the child failed to acoustically register or semantically decode what they said. ("Excuse me. I didn't hear what you said." "You lie!")
2."Don't tell me what I said! Why do I have to keep telling you what to do?" ~ "I don't understand." [Implied text: " you can not be saying and doing what you know you are supposed to say and do."]
3."Why can't you be like a normal person? There's something wrong with you. Be normal!" [Unstated subtext: "...but don't do things sociologically 'normal' people do that I do not want you to do.": "Why are you doing [whatever that I don't approve of but which is currently popular to do]? If everybody else was jumping off a bridge would you jump too?"]
4."Why didn't you tell me [whatever]?" "I would have told you if I thought it was important." "It's not for you to decide what is important." ~ "Just answer the question. Don't tell me all the details!" ~ "Answer the question I asked, not the question you want to answer!"
5."You did it!" "I did not do it." "All you care about is whether you did it [Implication: You should should accept responsibility for me being in a mess no matter how it happened -- including if I brought it on myself --, and you should clean it up before I have to notice anything I don't like, including I don't like to have to see myself as a nagging person...]."
6a.There is a chance of freezing rain in the morning, but, evening before, so far, nothing.... Selflessly concerned authority figure (SCAF): "They say the roads are going to be very icy in the morning, so please be careful going to work! -- Maybe you should go in late! I'm worried about your safety." Selfish dependent person (SDP) likes to go to work early, in part because there's nobody there to nag him or her at work at that hour (it should be obvious that dependent person is naggable longer by authority figure if dependent person leaves late to go to work, and also naggable longer by people at work if he or she stays late to make up for coming in late).
6b.Selflessly concerned authority figure (SCAF) is eager to see the mail even though it's raining heavily, and there's not likely to be anything in the mail that can't wait until the rain ends. Authority figure is also, conveniently-for-themself, seemingly oblivious they could go out in the rain and get the mail themself. Authority figure continues talking to selfish dependent person (SDP): "You still haven't brought the mail in. [implication: Go out and get it! ~ Other times authority figure can be more explicit: Are you on strike?]." Because, at that moment, it is raining heavily, selfish dependent person -- who has asthma and is susceptible to bronchitis --, does not want to go out and get the mail, because they fear that if they get wet they may catch cold or even get pneumonia. Selflessly concerned authority figure detects dependent person's reluctance to go out in the rain, and becomes increasingly concerned: "You're the only person I know who never thinks about anybody except yourself! And what do you think you'll melt in the rain? There's something wrong with you. Why don't you go to the doctor? You just want to be sick to avoid having to deal with the real issues...."
7."You never let us talk about your problems, which just keep getting worse. I can only imagine how you must alienate people at [school/work/...]! No wonder you don't have any friends. [Added if needed: And any you think you have either are too polite to tell you how you offend them, or they have something wrong with them, too, like [person's name]." "I do my best." "It doesn't help. You need to do something different." "I'll try to do better." "You refuse to discuss anything real. You only talk about irrelevant things on television. You always get defensive. Something is wrong with you." "I've changed how I interact with people a lot over the years. But I'll try even harder. I try to take into account everything you say." "You never change anything about yourself. You think you are perfect and everybody else is wrong." "I don't claim I'm perfect." "You never accept any responsibility. You only try to do the minimum you think you have to do to not get [specify here something dependent person fears greatly, and which authority figure can in fact cause to happen to dependent person, e.g. homelessness]." "I really do try." "Next you'll probably say then you'll stop trying. I'm trying to help you. Why won't you talk about this with me?" ~ "You never listen to anything I say. You just keep talking to yourself and not listening. I'm only trying to tell you things I think will help you. I don't need this.".... [Whether dependent person tries to argue against any of what authority figure has said, or else keeps quiet, authority figure keeps getting more angry....]
8."You never do anything." "I do a lot of things." "You only do what you want to do, not what needs to be done." ~ "You don't get brownie points for doing what you're supposed to do."
9."Don't yell at me!" [To anticipate any doubt here, these words are spoken by authority figure, and directed at dependent person.]
10.Response of person with power, to dependent person, when dependent person tries to stand up to being bossed, quizzed, nagged, whatever: "Just who do you think you are?" [Dear reader: I apologize for taking your time to read this all too well-known truism, but I feel it is important to be comprehensive. Thank you for bearing with me on this detail.]

Perhaps the most interesting and highly evolved elaboration of this discourse space:

11.Dependent person: "I'm going to do [x], now." -- where [x] is something dependent person thinks (or at least hopes...) will please (or at least appease...) person with power over him or her. Person with power replies: "Why are you telling me about this?", "Why do I need to know about that?".... [Compare: Paragraph #4, above] ~ Dependent person (trying to make sure what he or she is about to do: [y], is really what authority figure wants, since otherwise he or she sees no reason to do it): "So you want [y]?" Authority figure: "Stop asking me!" [Compare: Paragraph #2, above ]

And the most paradoxical:

12."Everything's not about you." [Authority figure is enlightening dependent person, here.]

And the most cloyingly disengenuous:

13."If you happen to go past [wherever], could you [do whatever]?" "If you've got a minute, would you mind [doing whatever]?" Selfless authority figure knows (or could learn...) that dependent person wasn't planning on going past [wherever], that what they want may take a lot longer than "a minute", that dependent person has few if any free minutes, and that whenever dependent person does have a free minute, dependent person vainly hopes to use it for respite from catering to authority figure(s).

And, in closing, from the work world:

14."This meeting is mandatory. Looking forward to seeing you all, [Boss]"
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This (FLOTUS №40) said she could never understand why people in Washington hated her. Her given name should be: "Velveeta".All trash to recycling!

This image is not part of the material in the "Peremptory discourse of petty power" page on my old personal website,

"Just say no."

Another "God's gift to you" smiling face: Martha Stewart. Nasty business woman who was convicted of a number of financial crimes and spent five months incarcerated at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia. She treats everybody badly and is always on the hunt to merchandise everything. She is a corporation: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

This image is not part of the material in the "Peremptory discourse of petty power" page on my old personal website. Click picture of Ms. Stewart to see another mug shot of her: bitches become prunes.

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2022-04-11 06:44:43