Fighting anger management

By Andrei Codrescu

Oh, it’s nice to be nice and all that, but as for myself I’d rather see the bastards pay for it. “Some people love the interior monologue,” wrote Ted Berrigan, “I just like to beat people up.” Anger is such a great feeling. I would hate to see it lost to management. It’s management that makes us angry in the first place. If management didn’t unemploy us, de-benefit us, and cooly downsize us, we’d be nice as pie, but there’s the rub, Barrabas. You can turn the other cheek, but when they’ve picked your pockets clean and are starting to go through your underwear, you may be forgiven for taking a swing.

Without anger, we’d still be living in colonies or on plantations picking up after the masters, or working eighteen hours in unsafe factories along with our half-blind children, or drinking from color-coded fountains, or answering every question with “Yes, Sir.”

The English king would have loved anger management workshops for the good citizens of Boston in 1773. Instead of dumping tea in the harbor, they’d have sipped it with a pinkey in the air. And wasn’t it rude for the people of France to interrupt the royals during dinner? Couldn’t they have waited until after desert?

Of course, there is anger and anger. There is divine wrath, which is God’s way of answering an argument He can’t win, there is the wrath of rulers when the ruled disobey, and then there is the people’s anger, righteous and unrighteous, which sometimes looks like senseless fury or blind homicidal rage. The scale is the phenomenon, Poincare said.

Sure, it’s bad manners to lose your cool, and you might end up in the pokey, which is run by cold-as-cucumber justice. You may even meet a company C.E.O. in there, the rare victim of impartial Law, and you can discuss calmly your differences. He stole millions to keep the cool lifestyle he was accustomed to, while your angry parents beat you senseless, the priest molested you, and the economy he ruined spit you out. Oh, and he had you arrested when you took a walk through his hood. Now you can workshop your respective angers. C’est la vie. That’s the breaks.

Well, there’s never been a better time then now for Anger Management. The people are stewing like they haven’t in a long time: the government sends us to war with lies, the feds are poking into our private business, the cynics are turning language inside out, and the rich are sewing extra pockets on their long coats. If we don’t learn some self-control and manners soon, we’ll end up in the streets, throwing rocks. And that’s just plain, old, unmanaged anger.