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So I've been thinking for the last few days how I should write something about how people have been admiring the anti-war buttons on my coat and the lefty-pie bumper stickers on my car. How, on our way to Madison last Saturday, three people went out of their way to give me thumbs-up or peace signs as I drove along. How nearly a dozen people in the Loop have asked me where I got my NO WAR button because they wanted one for themselves. How it made me feel all warm inside that I hadn't had any negative experiences expressing myself lately, how it must mean that people really don't want this war.

But this just happened:

I was walking home from the train, and just as I passed the cool veggie restaurant in my 'hood, a thirtysomething "business casual"-clad guy walking perpendicular to me looked at the button on my coat and locked eyes with me. I could see his mouth tighten. I was afraid he might bump into me, so I stepped out of his path. As he passed behind me I heard, with startling venom, "Stupid bitch!"

I spun around. "What?"

"I said you're a stupid bitch. You're stupid! You're uneducated!" he said, stepping closer and pointing at his head.

I was completely shocked. He spoke quietly but grew red-faced, shaking with fury. "What did I do to you?" I asked.

"You're a stupid bitch! You're disrupting this country! You're a horrible person!" And then he started walking away.

I wanted to ask what was so horrible about not wanting people to die, about not fighting an illegal, un-American war. I wanted to say that if he believed this war was just, it was because he's been lied to. Which one of us was stupid then, eh? But I was so stunned that someone would be so vicious to a stranger just walking home with her dry-cleaning, not at that moment attending a protest rally or blocking traffic or burning a flag. So what I said was:

"Oh, yeah? Well...fuck you...pal!"

Replies: 21 Confessions

Sometimes you just have to meet people where they are, and this sounds to me like a guy who lived in "Fuck you" space.

elavil @ 03/25/2003 06:19 PM CST

dan savage once wrote "there are no two words which restores one's dignity faster than a hearty 'Fuck You'."

amy I am sorry. what an ass clown.

shechemist @ 03/26/2003 09:41 AM CST

This story reminded me of this Clay Butler cartoon.

jima @ 03/26/2003 10:13 AM CST

Not only is he an assclown, shechemist, he's one of our neighbors!

amyc @ 03/26/2003 10:53 AM CST

maybe I ought to put a no war button on grendel's collar next time I walk him to the video store.

shechemist @ 03/26/2003 11:55 AM CST

Yippee! Hooray! Right On! Thumbs Up! How many ways can I say GOOD FOR YOU!! I'm tired of these goddamn bullies having their way.

ozzy @ 03/27/2003 01:23 AM CST

now, now sweetie.... is that the way a lady should act?

by rights he should've gotten a stiff kick in the balls.

"fuck you" will do this time, but next time around, see if you can't do just a little better now, mmmmkay?

way to go sister.

s. melmoth @ 03/27/2003 08:35 AM CST

The pro-war people are feeling their oats now -- alas, you may get more of this.

I wonder how a response of "Oh yeah? Well, you're probably one of those assholes who doesn't know the difference between bin Laden and Saddam" would have gone over. (You just know a numbnuts like this thinks that at least half a dozen of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi.)

Steve M. @ 03/27/2003 11:40 AM CST

I have to disagree that "fuck you" is an appropriate response, either here or in any similar situation, for many of the same reasons that a response of "stupid bitch" was not appropriate response to the statement of "no war."

Crude, rude, hateful, demeaning and puerile speech is not how civilized people conduct themselves- and no, "he started it," doesn't make it okay. We are, or should be, better than that.

And the statement from Dan Savage that "there are no two words which restores one's dignity faster than a hearty 'Fuck You'," is one of the most self-evidently stupid things I have heard since, well, how about the last time the president spoke...?

jas @ 03/27/2003 11:42 AM CST

Good for you!
It's hard to put up with vilification from business casual jackasses.

And there's really no need to.


Hart @ 03/27/2003 12:01 PM CST

He's a neighbor, eh? Well Amy, you're not "a horrible person." A horrible person would sneak over at night and decorate his house with a bunch of NO WAR signs.

And maybe some toilet paper.

Molly, NYC @ 03/27/2003 12:57 PM CST

Crude, rude, hateful, demeaning and puerile speech is not how civilized people conduct themselves

Yes, well, thanks for the civility lesson, jas. The point of my post is that I know I didn't respond well. I was too stunned to think of something better to say at that moment. Rest assured, I know that I'll probably be getting more guff from emboldened strangers in the coming weeks, so I've been thinking about how to react without being crude, rude, hateful, demeaning or puerile.

amyc @ 03/27/2003 01:11 PM CST

Someone once told me, "Go to Hell!!", was an appropriate response to situations like the one you experienced. I often face the dilemma of trying to engage in reasoned discourse only to discover it is not possible. I think progressives assume, in a good way, that the other side is willing to deal in good faith. Sadly, many people are just mean and hateful and a comment like yours is the best way to maintain your dignity.

Dan Mark @ 03/27/2003 01:49 PM CST

I love the sheer courage of men making these kinds of remarks to women. It's funny how I never get confronted that way for my anti-war positions. But then again I'm 6'5", 300lbs. Somehow, I'm guessing your assisnine neighbor wouldn't have the balls to call me a "stupid bitch" to my face.

John @ 03/27/2003 04:05 PM CST

Next time(s), gently say "I forgive you". It'll drive 'em nuts.

Jim Lynch @ 03/27/2003 05:02 PM CST


I have reread my post, and your comment to it, and I apologize for not being more explanatory, and clearer about my meaning.

I should have prefaced my remarks by saying that yes, I understand the impulse, and in the same situation would have probably done the same thing.

My disagreement was with some of the comments that followed your narrative of the events, and was not meant to add insult to your injury.

Those who advocate peace have it much tougher than those who advocate war, and I did not intend to demean your efforts to do so. We have to be better than our opponents, and I have no doubt you are, so please accept my apology in that spirit.

jas @ 03/27/2003 05:26 PM CST

Well, thanks! It was nice of you to come back.

amyc @ 03/27/2003 06:35 PM CST

There seems to be an epidemic of pro-terror action people calling us uneducated, I can only wonder where these people were 'educated' I figure the University of Limbaugh (the Wahibi of the West) as usually when there are common, odious speech patterns among bullying pro-warriors that's the source.

The truth is that there is no good way to deal with a person who would accost you over a button- they are so beyond rationale that a 'Fuck you' or a lecture have the equal effect- that being none as they are so ingrained in their own sense of self-worth and sanctimony they could hardly be bothered to listen to any other argument reasonable or otherwise.

elemental @ 03/28/2003 10:25 AM CST

And the statement from Dan Savage that "there are no two words which restores one's dignity faster than a hearty 'Fuck You'," is one of the most self-evidently stupid things I have heard since...

yeah, well, fuck you.

ok, ok, i don't mean that, i just couldn't pass up the chance for a joke. really, i agree, saying fuck you doesn't help.

next time try, "thanks for sharing" or "do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" or my favorite, speaking of mother retorts, "was your mom too busy working at nights to teach you manners? and when her pimp asked her which one gave her the 50 cents, did she say 'they all did'?"

skippy @ 03/30/2003 01:51 AM CST

I was at a protest where I was on the sidewalk encouraging people in stopped cars to honk if they were with us. I got a lot of "fuck yous" and middle fingers from people (though they were the minority, I might add). My response that day was either a big smile and a "Well, YOU'RE not being bombed today, are you?" or else to flash them the peace sign and yell, "Peace, brother!"

You've got a lot of courage, Amy. Way to go.

Phyl @ 04/02/2003 10:54 AM CST

Hello, I just happened upon this page by accident researching ideas about how a lady should respond to rude comments and was fascinated by this. Unfortunately Amy, rude people who can't mind their business are everywhere and in all shapes and forms and I often get hit with one or more comments or insulting looks once or more in the world and it's angering that there seems not to be anything possible to fight back. I am against the war as well, I think leaders should go one on one in a joust rather than having everyone else pick up their peices. Next time you should respond cooly and question his mentality as a "mature imtellectual", because what he did was no better than that of a street thug or corner kid. Take care:)

LadyBean @ 03/12/2006 07:51 PM CST

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