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October 03, 2016

You're Not Gonna Believe This, but the Media Is Seizing Upon an Out-of-Context Quote of Trump's and Making a Federal Case About It

What they report: that Trump said some veterans are "strong" enough to handle the horrors of war, but some aren't.

What he actually said, in context:

Now this is actually a gaffe. I was thinking last week about how Trump could address this problem.*

One of the biggest problems with helping people with depression or similar mental problems is that people -- particularly men, and particularly warriors who are supposed to be Invincibly Strong at all times -- have a great deal of trouble confessing they need some help themselves.

They define themselves as strong enough to lift up others who need carrying; it hurts them to say they might need to be carried for a spell themselves.

The point is, it's a mistake to refer to the problem here as being insufficient strength to carry the burden, as it is precisely that mindset that causes men of strength to avoid seeking help for their problem in the first place.

Still, it's very hard to talk about these things without making this occasional error. Earlier in the post, I wrote "depression or similar mental problems." That is also the wrong thing to say. That stigmatizes people who have such problems, and that in turn causes them to avoid treatment.

When I wrote that, I tried to think of a more artful way to say it -- but then I decided to leave it as I'd written it to demonstrate the problem here.

The problem here is that you're talking about problems, but to call these things "problems" helps contribute to the problem itself.

Yet such mistakes in wording are common. It's difficult to avoid these traps, as I just learned myself two minutes ago.

So I do agree this is a gaffe-- but I would also suggest that even those who appreciate that improper wording can help contribute to warriors' refusal to seek help has difficulty avoiding all the verbal traps himself.

An incorrect word choice, but one made without malice. But of course this is no longer permitted in today's society, unless you're a liberal, in which case all of these Speechcrime laws simply don't apply to you.

If you're a liberal, you're a First Class Citizen, and First Class Citizenship has its rewards. Among them -- the unfalsifiable assumption that everything you say is intended with the best of intentions and filled with the highest possible quantum level of wisdom.

For Second Class Citizens -- everyone who isn't a declared progressive -- all presumptions run against you, that you are full of hatred and ignorance and that everything you say must be read with the least charitable assumptions.

* I only got part of the way through thinking about what someone could/should say, but the basic gist was this: War exposes people to superhuman levels of mental stress. Some people will break under such stress.

Warriors understand that there are some superhuman stresses laid upon the physical being that will cause a break, and no one calls themselves weak or morally unfit should that happen. If you put a man under a two hundred pound load, he's not going to be able to hustle for more than a hundred yards or so. Then he'll collapse.

If a man takes a running step into an unseen pit, his ankle will turn and his leg will break from the physical stresses acting on his bones.

All warriors understand that breaks are common and utterly unavoidable when we speak of the physical body, and no amount of willpower or spirit can change the fact that the body has physical limits.

That sort of understanding should be extended to the mental being -- there are superhuman stresses the mind can't take without suffering a strain, tweak, sprain or break, too.

And similarly, there is no amount of willpower, spirit, or courage that can change that.

So no stigma or feelings of weakness should attach -- no more than attach to your thighbone breaking when hit with a rifle bullet.

And just as you shouldn't try to "tough it out" and "be a man" if your thighbone is broken by a bullet -- you should see a damn medic, post-haste -- so too should no warrior avoid seeking therapy for a mental stress that's causing pain or immobilization.

But even that sort of exhortation is problematic. Because men who have been trained to never accept that some strains are too much for them are still going to recoil from the idea that their brain has been strained or broken by psychic stress.

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posted by Ace at 06:45 PM

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