A few years ago I worked with a guy who was uber passive aggressive. If he was mad at me or disagreed with me or – I can’t say I ever fully understood his motives – he’d stare at me fixedly during a meeting while ostentatiously picking his nose. Or stretch his legs wide apart and thrust up his pelvis while glaring at me.
These sorts of tactics are a bit hard to pin down: you feel quite certain they’re deliberate, but there’s always the possibility that the person is doing it without realizing it.
(People writing comments on blogs and newspaper articles are frequently unpleasant, of course, but I think of comment-writing as a combination of writing a letter to the editor and yelling at the TV: I think you have to expect a higher level of emotion than is usual when we communicate, and adjust your reactions accordingly.)
Nowadays I’m in a group that questions the transit plans of the Region of Waterloo, and we have been targeted by a group, mostly students it seems, who oppose our opposition. This antiopposition group has employed some pretty aggressive tactics, engaging in personal attacks such as calling members of my group liars, saying we are fear-mongerers, and publicly questioning our motives. They have done this on a call-in show on the local Rogers channel, at a public meeting, in an op-ed in the Record, in comments on this blog, and elsewhere.
So I’m wondering... is this just a tactic to dispirit us and keep us down? It doesn’t seem possible that the antioppositioners could really believe that we’re liars and so on: could they really be so partisan and hate us so thoroughly that they really believe any nasty thing about us that pops into their heads? They could just be bullies, but that begs the question of where they got the notion that public discourse is about attempted character assassination.
In any case their nastiness isn't helping their cause, and if anything is galvanizing people against them. I'm more interested in the general question... This issue is a little easier for me to discuss because I'm not the one being attacked this time, but I still don't understand it.