Years ago, I tried (and by general consent failed) to develop as my party trick an impersonation of the Hollywood actor, Christopher Walken. When I donned his identity, I just said the one line: "I'm going to hurt you." To anyone familiar with Walken's films, the line, if not exactly side-splittingly hilarious, was supposed to be at least vaguely amusing: Walken had, after all, made his career on the back of playing psychopathic megalomaniacs whose sole purpose in life seemed to be to inflict unnecessary pain on various hapless victims. As I have never been a good mimic, however, I usually had to explain who I was trying to impersonate, at which point whatever little strength the joke possessed vanished like the morning mist in summertime.
That line - "I'm going to hurt you" has come back to my mind more times than I care to remember over the last few years as the language of pain and suffering has come to permeate mainstream modern discourse. Everywhere I look, I find people "processing their pain," "feeling the hurt," or reacting to comments from others that are variously described as "hurtful," "insensitive," or "cruel." It would seem that the world is being overrun by the evil spawn of Christopher Walken, to whom the "hurting" and the "pained" are now responding en masse. I might even propose a new law, to go alongside that of Godwin's. In fact, let's call it "Trueman's Second Law" (Trueman's First Law is known only to a few close friends, but, trust me, it has never been broken). Trueman's Second Law would be formulated something like this: in any exchange of views, sooner or later one or more of the participants will describe themselves as hurt or in pain as a result of somebody else's comment; and at that point it is clear that they have lost the real debate.
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