Originally Posted: 2002-08-20 6:57pm
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favorite this post Re: yesterday's knife fighting ad hide this posting unhide

Woah there! Simmer down all you crazed masses! Subdue! Subdue!

I got a couple of responses to my "teach me to knife fight and I’ll teach you to sew" add yesterday day, and responded, and then when I checked my email last night there were 92 messages, mostly from irate, could-probably-benefit-from-my-advertised-conflict-resolution-introductory-course, still-seizing-from-box-cutters-on-those-planes-trauma, name-calling … individuals … (note here the SUBDUED classification of my inbox tar-and-feather camp) who found my request for a lesson in knife fighting to be, and I don’t feel I’m exaggerating here, like, THE MOST HORRENDOUS PROPOSAL EVER TO BESMIRCH THE PIXEL WINDOWS OF CRAIGSLIST EVER EVER.

Forgive me. I am agitated. I have taken a mild sedative and should be okay any minute now.

I went to sleep last night with images of torch-bearing townsfolk shattering my windows with openhand pounding, chanting something in unison – I don’t know what but something scathing – and enacting some horrible semblance of vigilante justice upon me.

(Digression – I find the term "vigilante justice" to be not only an oxymoron, but within the very nature of its oxymoronic quality, a somewhat sad testament to our society and our lack of personal responsibility or autonomous act when in a group dynamic. If you distrust the criminal justice system so much that you must take matters into your own hands to ensure "justice," where’s the deliberation? Where’s the protection of human rights? Doesn’t it seem a whole lot like execution (or attempted execution) without so much as a last meal? I’m against capital punishment, and I’m SHO against civil punishment. So here’s a call to arms for ya – how about we meet half way? We can still hold the belief that the criminal justice system is a foil, a sham, a debacle of epic proportions and that the fate of our fellow citizens is better left in our own hands. But fuck "vigilante justice." What about "vigilante due process," huh? Instead of beating a guy to death (even if he just did something maaaaaad shady), why don’t we citizen’s arrest the guy (or gal), form a mob and hole up in a warehouse and hold our own trial?
"Quick, is there a lawyer in the house? Preferably two!" "I need twelve people and two alternates! No, not you three, you’re holding guns, you smack of bias!" "Bail? No bail! None of us are leaving until we, as vigilantes, thrust due process upon this alleged n’er-do-well!" I can see it so clearly. What if next time an angry mob congregated, they really did that? What a strange and wonderful population of humans that would make us! What a coup!)

My dreams were dreams of symbolic persecution, I awoke several times in sweats (the wet kind, not the pants kind) and by morning I was dehydrated and skittish. Thinking I’m through the woods, I come in to work this morning to over fifty new emails of sanctimony and scolding! And yes, several were from my own mother! Actually that’s a damn lie! It just seemed like it would follow "sanctimony and scolding" like a "u" follows "q!" And now I can’t stop shouting in my head!

But by now you are probably wondering (unless you are, you know, for whom the proverbial tolls) what I could possibly have received via email that I found so inflamatory. Since I find myself without a pie chart handy, I will list the top 5 names/complaints that people called me/had about me. I will also take a moment to respond to each:

5) Very oddly, six DIFFERENT individuals thought that I was a middle-aged black man, and based upon that assumption, chastised me harsh harsh harshly for openly and casually setting such a bad example for black young men who as it is "only have violent black males as role models." (Yes, Don P., hang your head in shame, you actually wrote that.) And five other quotes to that effect. I am a bad black male role model. I need to take a good long look in the mirror and ask myself how funny my little antics really are. Young men read that kind of ad and think that knife fighting is this fun and silly thing that can be traded for muffins. Bad dog. No biscuit.

* To this I respond: I am a white 22-year-old female. I do not understand how the exact characteristics of middle-aged, black and male where communicated through my ad, and after reading over it again, I will go out on that there limb and postulate that there were NO indications of any of these characteristics AT ALL and there are six individuals out there with some pretty serious projection problems. That’s right – after deliberation I have come to the conclusion that IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU.
* Disclaimer: For the record, I do take seriously the issue of ghettoization along racial lines as a foundation of the very inception of this fine nation and the subsequent present-day troubling statistics of incarcerated and deceased black men under the age of 25. I take this seriously, but I do not claim to understand anything beyond statistics. I will absolutely not comment regarding violent black role models, for as said white 22-year-old, there are realities of experience different from my own to which I simply will not step.
* Oh yeah, and the only thing I solicited was information and skills training, and unless it’s really 1880 and I’m just suffering severe delusions, women are generally not deemed evil for seeking those out.

4) A larger (but significantly less perplexing) faction of people wrote that if I am the sort of person who goes out looking to get into knife fights, I deserve to get stabbed and killed. One gentleman referred to this scenario as "natural selection." I do have to give the creative writing award to this group, however (with honorable mention in the name-calling department of another group, but more on that later). Some were just angry and volatile, but an actual majority of these messages were sort of flowery and expository compositions, painting a vivid and emotionally engaging picture of the exact way in which I should be vivisected. I got a definite hint of a fantasy theme, like one might be inclined towards after playing Magic or Dungeons and Dragons. Not to clown … I’m just sayin…

* To this I respond: OH MY GOD. Definitely the creepiest of all on a literal level, especially considering the time, imagination, and probable enjoyment invested in conjuring up such rich scenes of my gory, painful, torturous, bloody, slow death. I will probably be afraid of humans for the rest of my life from this point forward. I may never sleep again. And, uh, I’m REALLY hanging on to that knife now.
* I would also like to mention that this group of people (and others, but this group AND HOW) flagrantly ignored one of my most staunch requests: to please please please take a moment to assess oneself as creepy or not creepy, and if the arrow lands on the former, you NEED NOT APPLY. Perhaps I was remiss in specifying "apply." Perhaps I should have said "need not harass me with graphic images of my own murder." My bad. Live and learn.
* Oh yeah, and the only thing I solicited was information and skills training, and unless it’s really 1880 and I’m just suffering severe delusions, women are generally not deemed evil for seeking those out.

3) More than five women wrote to me, aghast that I would even consider sticking a knife into another human being. On the plus side, these women did give me the benefit of the doubt and infer that I was in the self-defense way. Quite less fortunately, however, each of these five women, in very different ways but to the exact same point, wrote that it would be much less traumatizing to be raped than to stab someone. Three of these women actually recounted their own rape experiences (oh … my … god) and (hey, we all have to cope somehow, and if this works for them, god bless it) referred at some point to the incident as (in hindsight) being (very very eerily using this EXACT PHRASE each) "not so bad." One wrote, "I can live with the trauma of being raped, but I know I could never live with the trauma of taking a life, and I doubt you could either." Well, thanks for the vote of confidence, however…
* To this I respond: I’m not looking to kill anybody. You hear that? You – way in the back – you hear that? I’m NOT looking to kill anybody. I’m just saying, as much as I could not live with having taken a life, I could also not live with having been raped, especially if I could have defended myself but thought rape would be "not that bad" compared to using a knife in my hand. I refuse to choose one over the other, and as a human being, I feel that it is my right to not. It’s real easy for me. I try to look at myself as I would look at my mother, or my sister, or a daughter or friend, each of whom would invoke the fury of a thousand suns from my soul should anyone attempt to harm them. Would I stab someone to save my mother from being raped or killed? You bet your ass I would. And until the day I genuinely do love myself as much as I love my mother and sister, I am content to simply act as though I do.
* Disclaimer: I am truly very sorry for the horrifying act(s) of violence, betrayal and thievery that the women who wrote these letters endured. I do not judge any way in which you choose to deal with your pain or your choices (even though I know I made a couple judgy comments), and simply by virtue of each of your abilities to write about your experience and even just do that getting-out-of-bed thing, I think you’ve proven that the way you deal is working, and the choices you have made were right.

5) A pretty banal but by far the largest population of people (quick count made 66) who were just shocked, shocked I tell you, that they were innocently roaming around craigslist, cruisin for a barter or a trade, and ran headlong into such a vile and distasteful ad as my own. A couple of individuals said that they "flagged" me to be reviewed by the craigslist staff because surely such a posting is (as one person put it) "against the law." And the name-calling! Whoo-boy! Those fuddy-duddies sure do have mouths on ‘em. I was called everything from a "homewrecker" (Hello? Do we have a history? Have you been drinking? Homewrecker?) to a (and I’ll have to do some "sounds-like" things here, not for censorship’s sake, but because it’s about me and it gives me the wiggins to call myself this) "tofu (starts with c, rhymes with hum) (starts with c, rhymes with hooter) (rhymes with fuck)." Didja get that? A tofu c*m c**ter fuck! I don’t know what the hell it is or what the hell it means, but I do not want to be one, nor do I suspect that I may already be one. Tofu? (the less original ones, just to give you a sense, included savage, delinquent, thug, hoochie, skank, murderer, baby killer (???), animal, psycho, blah blah blah. Oh, and one woman actually said that if she were my father, she would beat me unconscious! Oh! Child abuse! Brilliant!
* To this I respond: you have to be kidding me. Is this seriously the kind of reaction I deserve? Or have I just interfaced with a band of merry verbal abusers and sanctimonious pains in the proverbial that plagues everyone on craigslist and this is all just some rite of passage to which I am grossly overreacting and therefor failing miserably?
* Boy… it’s a pretty good thing none of these potential barter/traders went clicking through the "casual encounters" page.
* "Against the law?" The law? What law? Is this website some kind of sovereignty of which craig is king? I know craig! Well, not actually, but a whole bunch of my friends do and I’ve sat at large tables with him occasionally and was invited as someone’s date to one of his parties, and from what I can see, he’s this great guy who would love to be king of his own land (as would we all) but is, like, not completely delusional. So consider this the throwing down of the gauntlet: if anyone can provide me with an actual law that states that it is unlawful to request over the internet that someone teach you how to properly handle a knife, then I will stand on the stage outside the planetarium and actually perform hari kari upon myself. Hell – I’ll even be more generous than that – given that no law, irrespective of common sense or decency, has been updated to this strange world of Info ‘Round the Ether, and a knife could be conveyed as a mere cooking utensil by a wiley attorney, I’ll amend the statement to: "if anyone can provide me with an actual law that states that it is unlawful to request in a public forum that someone teach you how to properly handle a knife as a weapon…" There. Gauntlet down. Bring it.
* Oh yeah, and the only thing I solicited was information and skills training, and unless it’s really 1880 and I’m just suffering severe delusions, women are generally not deemed evil for seeking those out.

1) Which brings us to number 1. The number one most horrifying response group. Actually, this group is really two groups, but my stomach can’t hold addressing them one at a time. The two categories are A) nazi or neo-nazi name-calling, and B) terrorist accusations/references. Actually, tho I had intended to lay this out more, I’m tired and my soul hurts. Abridged-abridged version: I’m a nazi. I’m a terrorist.

Hell. At least people still think those are bad things.

HOWEVER, not to neglect some of the sane, lovely, benign, friendly emailers out there, I would like to take this time to thank a few people, some to whom I have managed to reply, some not so much, not yet. Here goes, and bless your hearts, each and every one, bless you good good souls.

The Avenger.
* Just straight tried to answer my questions. He’s a sharer of information. Willing to take time out to answer questions if he could. Also, he’s called The Avenger, which is of particular comfort to me at the moment, because I may have an untimely demise to avenge any day now. And thanks for not including verbal abuse or aspersions cast upon my very character.

Angelica
* GIRL – I WILL TOTALLY TEACH YOU HOW TO USE YOUR SEWING MACHINE. It’s fine that you know nothing about knife fighting! Neither do I! Hence my whole inquiry! And don’t worry about trying to find something to trade, I love sewing machines and the whole sewing thang, and I’d be more than happy to lend a brain. Your lack of verbal abuse or aspersion casting upon my very character is exchange enough.

P. Largo (montego, baby why don’t we go, to bermuda, bahama, come on pretty … sorry)
* P, I’m glad you saw the ad for what it was – a lighthearted flight of fancy. Yes, perhaps my fancy is of a somewhat off-center disposition, but is that, bobby brown, or is that not, my prerogative. Thanks for saying it made you laugh, thanks for totally understanding the soul behind the posting, as evidenced by the comment "I wonder what you’ll be looking to learn next week. Fondue?" yes, p, that is precisely me. Sometimes I just realize I don’t know something and figure that if someone wants to teach me, boo yeah. You’re a good man. And thanks for not including verbal abuse or aspersions cast upon my very character.

Matthew K.
* Bless your soul matthew. Don’t know nuthin bout knife fighting, but you just wanted to write to say hi. Bless your heart bless your soul bless you bless you, you blessed man.

David N.K.
* And speaking of blessing your soul … like matthew, not up on your knife fighting, but you’d love to learn to sew, and all you know how to do is darn socks (which is an objectively adorable task). I consider it to be the PG version of … okay – caught myself before I made a highly inappropriate reference to having sexual relations with socks. I apologize. It’s been a long day, david n.k., a very long day indeed.

Zak, the American Indian Guy
* And last but heavens to betsy not least, zak., the self-entitled American Indian Guy . zak has not only written back several times, but was both respectful of my desire to learn to knife fight, but also concerned for my personal safety and said as much. You see, he was unclear about some things, put them out there like a civilized human being, and I clarified. He gave good advice as to the personal, physical as well as social ramifications possible when a young lady carries a knife, and though I do not delude myself with the notion that this person actually cares about me (as we do not know each other from 1’s and 0’s on a screen), I consider him to be of the blessed breed that treats others with a generic kindness – which is not to say insincere, just that he considers all people deserving of it right off the bat. I could be entirely wrong and he could be an ax-murderer (don’t trip, zak, so am I, evidently) but his messages were kind and considerate and respectful and thoughtful, and for that I am appreciative. And thanks for not including verbal abuse or aspersions cast upon my very character.


I will now bid so long to any souls remaining at the end of this monstrosity of a tirade. If anyone is there - you’re a soldier. I salute you. I’m not sure I could weather reading this over if I wanted to. Luckily I don’t.

In closing, I would like to request that anyone with anything negative to say to me after all this, please address your emails to … to nobody actually. Suck it up. I’m over it.

Oh, and anyone interested in implementing that whole "vigilante due process" thing, let me know. Structured and rational rebellion! Woo hoo!






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