They say I need to understand 'he should be taken seriously, but not literally.'
I'm told he's not like other politicians who are careful with words, and I need to take that into account before I accuse him of saying stupid things.
This expectation is considered reasonable because "Trump is a new kind of leader."
I hear that.
I can even understand it through the fog of flawed logic.
But just to be clear: I am not gonna to do that.
Seriously. Fuck that.
And if you don't like me cursing on a blog where I rarely curse - if you think that interferes with the potential for a reasonable discourse - you are sure-as-shit on to something.
You see, words intended for public consumption have an impact. They matter because they are out there for anyone to hear. Even if it is not my intention to offend, I need to take the potential impact of my words into consideration, right? Fuckin' a, right.
The president-elect says "Muslims,"
but he wants me to understand
what he actually means is
"potentially dangerous people who are Muslim."
If I react to the word he used
and point out that laws applied exclusively to a religious group
are against the Constitution and basic human decency,
the president-elect and his supporters will whine,
"Don't take the words so literally.
You're just looking for an excuse to hate on a political opponent."
But what about the president-elect's political allies
Who is explaining all of this to them?
The people asking me to take the president-elect's words with a grain of salt are failing to take into account all of the people who are listening to the man.
I am not looking at the president-elect. I couldn't care less about that silly man.
I am looking at the country he plans to lead.
That's what I do. It's my training.
I look at the spaces where words have an impact, and I study what happens when new words are introduced.
This does not make my opinion more valuable than anyone else's.
But I hope people will understand why I can't simply 'stop taking the president-elect's words so literally.'
If there are people who want to take those words less literally, I'm not going to stop them. I may occasionally point out how dangerous that choice could be, but they probably won't take my words very seriously.
It is unreasonable, however, to ask me or my professional peers to take our eyes off the words of a leader.
So, stop asking.
Both of the professional organizations I'm affiliated with have put out strong statements related to this. Each statement explains why the public must consider all of the potential meanings that can be derived from the president-elect's words.
I am more proud than ever to be associated with these organizations as well as the entire community of rhetoric and composition scholars.
Our mandate is clearer than ever, and I see people I respect stepping forward to act on it in bold and thoughtful ways. We know this is important.
Even if it doesn't matter to you, this is important to us.
Living in a civil society requires all of us to live with these kinds of differences.