‘Hurt Mail’ and ‘Hate Mail’

I came across a Carl Trueman article yesterday (thanks to a tweet from John Piper) and was engulfed in it.  If you ever read this blog it is worth following the link to read the full article for yourself.

Here is a portion of what I really liked:

…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.


By using the categories of hurt and pain with reference to arguments, one plays the ace in the postmodern hole and effectively focuses attention not on the substance of a position but on the style; or, perhaps more accurately, one transubstantiates the style into the substance….But the modern world seems to have taken this to the next level: everything with which I disagree is so hurtful, every time I suffer a trivial setback I have to process my pain and ethics and argument are all about aesthetics, not truth or falsehood.


…I confess that I have a serious problem with all this alleged pain and suffering because these terms and associated words are, by and large, being used in vacuous and trivial ways.  What, for example, should I do when I receive a note from someone who claims to be “hurt” by something I have written which she described as a “personal attack,” despite the fact that I have never heard of her and was completely unaware of her existence until she chose to contact me?


Expressions of hurt are too often really something else: cowardly attempts by representatives of a cosseted and self-obsessed culture to make themselves uniquely important or, worse still, to bully and cajole somebody they dislike to stop saying things they don’t want to hear or which they find distasteful.   My advice to such is akin to that of the counselor in the Bob Newhart sketch: Stop it!  If somebody’s writing or speaking hurts you, ask yourself “Why?”, don’t whine about the discomfort. Get a grip, get yourself some trousers, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and please, please, please, don’t hide behind the aesthetic pietisms of the tiresome and clichéd `feel my pain while I process my hurt’ posse.  Have the backbone, have the decency – nay, have the honesty – to take your licks and move on, either to addressing the substance of the argument or to some area of endeavour that is, well, perhaps less painful and hurtful for you.

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