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You Rude Man, You Hurt Her Feelings!

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Surely you’ve heard that saying, though nowadays it’s fallen out of favor: Call me a name, and you’ve wounded me to the core of my being. My self-esteem is in the toilet. I’m depressed. I have suicidal thoughts. Get me to a therapist!

Such is our touchie-feelie culture. Our response: Get used to it. That’s life. Buck up, baby!

So we were amused by a certain Ellen Rufft, a Sister of Divine Providence, who begins a column in America (Aug. 16-23) by trashing the “sticks and stones” aphorism. Her photo shows her without any habit. So we knew what to expect.

Says she: “A recent letter from a friend described an incident that she had witnessed in a downtown department store. She had stepped on to an elevator and was followed by a well-dressed young man and two professionally dressed women. A third woman began to enter the elevator when the young man said to her, ‘Don’t get on here; you’ll break the cables.’ The heavy-set young woman stepped back with a very red face. My friend spoke up immediately, told the man that his comment was rude and got off the elevator. The other women got off, too, surrounding the embarrassed younger woman and encouraging her not to let the man’s rudeness upset her. The woman, who was obese, said that similar incidents had happened to her before and that it was really difficult to feel good about herself when people made such remarks.”

Feel good about herself? It’s the usual therapeutic mantra. The last time we checked, we didn’t notice that everyone is born with an inherent right to feel good about oneself.

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Briefly: September 1999

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