0198 - In which Caleb is stopped. - 2021.07.19
It can be very unnerving when someone discusses the possibility of you doing something heinous, even while they're acknowledging that you're probably not going to do it. The more realistic the scenario, the worse it is, particularly if you feel that even the hint of this terrible thing wafting over your reputation could change the way people see you (and, in this modern age of Patreon and GoFundMe, your ongoing popularity can often be the difference between success and bankruptcy).
As a visibly straight white able-bodied cismale (with a shaved head, no less), I do have to be careful about unnerving jokes and connotations and hints. I wasn't as good about it when I was younger, and I regret that. I'm fine with being generally off-putting (I don't have much choice in the matter, with a face like this), but a casual "haha I could hurt you if I wanted to, but don't worry, I'm choosing not to" can actually do lasting damage to someone's perception of you, and rightly so.
Of course, the real answer is that anybody can hurt and do irreversible harm to anybody. That's what guns are.
Perhaps I'd feel different about guns if I were American, but, as a Canadian who rarely encounters them, I'd be extremely unnerved, seeing someone walking around with a firearm in a mall or a college campus or my living room. Sure, the odds are very good that any given stranger with a pistol is sane and stable and well-trained, but the one thing they never are is harmless.
The other thing they never are is predictable.
But then, I suppose, the same is true of cars. Any given motor vehicle is completely capable of permanently injuring or killing me, and it's not uncommon for me to pass and be passed by hundreds of cars a day, all piloted by strangers, all more than capable of swerving and abruptly ending my life as a consequence of a single misfired neuron.
How do you demonstrate your stability and your harmlessness, when you're walking around with guns for arms and tires for feet? How do you argue that you'll never shoot anyone, when everyone knows that you could put the gun down at any time, and you're continually choosing not to? How do you convince someone that you have no intention of using the tools that are so inescapably a part of you? How do you assure people that they shouldn't be afraid of you, when even mentioning being afraid of you is construed as threatening?