Wednesday, July 8, 2020

You Think THAT'S an Insult!

     One thing people probably agree on is that our world has become coarser. People don't hesitate to insult people on Facebook or anywhere else online. As Vivek Murthy and Alice Chen wrote on, "The values of social media [are] sensationalism, us-vs-them rhetoric and curating one's life to look perfect."

     And no matter where you go you can't get away from the cursing. It used to be the most common word in the English language was the. Now it's a word that begins with F.

     Of course, insulting people is nothing new. But it used to be done with more class, more panache. Here are some examples:

     Said New York theater critic Walter Kerr about a rival: "He had delusions of adequacy."

     Or Winston Churchill about a fellow politician: "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

     Winston Churchill was always good for a laugh. Playwright George Bernard Shaw once sent a note to Churchill: "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play. Bring a friend, if you have one." Churchill's reply: "Cannot possibly attend first night. Will attend second ... if there is one."

     Or how about another retort. A member of Parliament told Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease." To which Disraeli responded, "That depends, sir, on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

     William Faulkner insulted fellow novelist Ernest Hemingway: "He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

     Another writer, Moses Hadas, sent this response to a colleague: "Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I'll waste no time reading it."

     Okay, here's a groaner from movie director Billy Wilder: "He has Van Gogh's ear for music."

     Some go for the jugular, like this one from lawyer Clarence Darrow: "I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."

     Or Mark Twain: "I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."

     And then American journalist Irwin S. Cobb: "I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."

     Some insults are fairly subtle, but no less cutting. Oscar Wilde remarked about one person: "He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."

     Or British statesman John Bright: "He is a self-made man and worships his creator."

     Then the old Samuel Johnson who said of a fellow Englishman: "He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others."

     Actress Mae West was always good for an insult: "His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."

     American actor Forrest Tucker along the same lines: "He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."

     Here's one from Scottish writer Andrew Lang, to keep in mind whenever you're reading something on Facebook or anywhere else on or offline: "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts ... for support rather than illumination."

     And finally, another from Oscar Wilde: "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."

     And so ... I'd better go!


Juhli said...

Wonderful collection of clever, deadpan insults. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Baby bomers are already being abused in the retirement homes, and the only way you baby bomers will escape this fate is by killing yourselves before you reach the stage of life where you are old and helpless.

You deserve this for destroying your own children's future. No one is coming to save you. Suicide is your only hope.

Arkansas Patti said...

These were fun and clever. Brevity and wit will always leave the biggest impression.

DJan said...

These are sure fun. I just read them to my hubby and got a good laugh from them again. Thanks! :-)

Celia said...

These are great. May have to steal some.

Sue said...

People back then had a way with words. i am old enough to remember when nobody, except the lowest gutter-snipes, used foul language in public.

Kathy @ SMART Living said...

Hi Tom! These were exactly the sort of laugh (and sense) I needed today. Thank you! ~Kathy

Janis said...

Great collection of intelligent insults. Anyone can use fowl language and childish put-downs. Thanks for the laughs!

Wisewebwoman said...

Wonderful collection Tom, some I'd heard before. I've always like Mark Twain's "News of my death has been greatly exaggerated" and the wonderful wit of Dorothy Parker:
"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”
“In youth, it was a way I had, “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

gigi-hawaii said...

All hilarious!

David @iretiredyoung said...

Another from Winston Churchill which makes me laugh:

Lady Astor: "Winston, if I were your wife I'd put poison in your coffee."

Winston Churchill: "Nancy, if I were your husband I'd drink it."

Bob Lowry said...

Just great, Tom. Effective insults require careful crafting of all one's language skills..something too few of us possess in sufficient quantity anymore.

ApacheDug said...

My gosh Tom, what an entertaining read! I hope such days of clever retorts aren't behind us. I was in downtown (Pittsburgh) yesterday waiting for a bus, and 2 men at my bus stop kept yelling "F--- YOU!" and "WELL F--- YOU!!" back & forth at each other, I just thought how sad that's the go-to expression for so much now.

Susan said...

Loved this post! Thanks for sharing~

Tom said...

Thanks for the additions ... I'll start a collection for a post on More Insults.

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Nancy Coiner said...

Such fun! Thanks!

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