Is ill will ever acceptable?

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King Author
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Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby King Author » Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:18 pm UTC

I subscribe to no institutions of thought, religious or otherwise, preferring instead to think thinks through for myself, consulting others where and when appropriate, either for their greater expertise or simply a different opinion. Right now, I'm struggling over the subject of forgiveness vs ill will.

First, let me be more clear about precisely what I mean. When someone wrongs you (and let's keep these wrongs within the realm of faux pas and such, not actually criminal behavior like murder or rape), conventional schools of thought typically preach forgiveness. Some qualify this by adding that one should only forgive if the perpetrater is truly sorry for what they've done. This is a lovely paradigm which rarely fits reality.

Often times, you are either on the same level or even a lesser level than someone who's wronged you, and are in no position to ask them to apologize and then grant your forgiveness. Even if you were above them, it seems pious and arrogant to think oneself so great as to go around judging others and granting or withholding forgiveness. Other times, the person is simply not sorry -- you two simply disagree about the matter and neither is willing to budge.

In such cases, when you've been wronged to a degree that doesn't warrant lawsuit or jail time, you're on the same or a lower level than the person who's wronged you and the person is not sorry for their behavior, is forgiveness still appropriate? Or is it acceptable to wish them ill?

To pre-emptively answer your inevitable question, I'll say that I've come to this quandary because a professor of mine, whom I have treated - like all others - with only respect and deference, has treated me quite rudely, with disrespect, condescention and even outright scorn, none of which was earned. I intend to drop this professor's class, but I first wish to confront her face-to-face to explain to her that she's done me considerable harm (wasted time and money in the class, a W grade in my record forever, among other things). I'm thinking over what I'll say carefully (maintaining civility and respect, despite the nature of the subject) but I'm not sure how I'll ultimately approach this -- from a position of feeling sorry for her, that she's so bitter and treats others so rottenly (she was probably teased as a child, and now takes her revenge on students to make up for it; it seems her entire reason for going into teaching), or a position of indignation, having taken offense at her inappropriate, unprofessional behavior and wishing her ill.

The question is ultimately this -- is forgiveness the "stubborn virtue?" Ought it to be meted out no matter the circumstances? Or if someone is willful in their objectionable behavior, is it morally and socially acceptable to wish them ill? It'd be helpful if you'd give a quick sentence or two, like my first one in this post, saying where you're coming from (a given school of thought, for instance).
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby ianf » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:21 pm UTC

I'm not sure that forgiveness is as broadly preached as you suggest. Counterexamples would be "an eye for an eye", the call for apostates to be put to death, etc. Even in religions which preach forgiveness, the actions of followers of many religions do not demonstrate the principle in action.

That said, my feeling is that forgiveness is probably more for the person doing the forgiving than for the person being forgiven. The person who has "trespassed against you" usually does not care about the it. Either because they are unaware of it, or because they simply do not care. In such a case, you forgiving them benefits you by allowing you to move on. It doesn't really benefit them.

The professor you are talking about is probably unaware of how you feel and so whether you forgive her or pick a fight with her, you are really doing this to help yourself rather than her. As such, it is entirely down to your judgement whether you feel forgiveness or ill will is the preferable option to help yourself. Some people go happily through life forgiving everyone and some people go happily through life cussing everyone. Really, it comes down to your coping mechanisms rather than some overriding principle.

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:44 am UTC

Remember this, the only one losing sleep and getting stressed by hate or un-forgiveness is the one holding said un-forgiveness. It will eat you up without ever harming your enemy in the slightest.

Now, that being said, if you are being legitimately wronged, doing what you can (legally, hehe) to end the wrong is perfectly fine.
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Briareos » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:50 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:Remember this, the only one losing sleep and getting stressed by hate or un-forgiveness is the one holding said un-forgiveness. It will eat you up without ever harming your enemy in the slightest.
Well said. Marcus Aurelius wrote, "Even if you burst with indignation, they will carry on regardless." Stoicism is pretty useful.

EDIT: that's not to say that you have to go back to trusting them or anything. Just because you forgive them doesn't mean you have to forget what they did. You're free to use your reason to determine if you should trust them, be their friend, or what have you. But make sure that you're using reason, and that you're not blinded by the desire for retribution.
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby EMTP » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:32 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:Remember this, the only one losing sleep and getting stressed by hate or un-forgiveness is the one holding said un-forgiveness. It will eat you up without ever harming your enemy in the slightest.


Briareos wrote:Marcus Aurelius wrote, "Even if you burst with indignation, they will carry on regardless."


Or as they put it in AA: "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby EmptySet » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:07 pm UTC

I'm not sure agree with the assertion that you'll be eaten up by resentment and so forth unless you forgive people. If someone consistently acts like an ass I typically just file them under "People Who Are Annoying Morons" and then move on with my life. It's not really forgiving them as such, but I certainly don't sit there going "Grrrr! I am full of hatred! I wish I could hate you to death! Grrr!", or go out of my way to send them a card of evil filled with kicked puppies and misery on their birthday. I guess what I'm saying is that there's a difference between "not forgiving" and actively nursing a grudge.

Anyway, I can't really see the point of confronting this professor in the manner you suggest. It doesn't seem like it will change her behaviour and it may even lead to further problems if she's particularly spiteful (her alleging misconduct on your behalf, for instance). If you think you've been treated unfairly and you want to have it out, I'd suggest lodging a complain with the university through the proper channels. If you've got a student union you should probably go talk to them, since they can help you lodge the complaint, provide advocacy, and give you advice on the best way to handle these things. Otherwise I'd just forget about it.

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby drunken » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:36 pm UTC

The first thing that struck me about the OP was the phrase

King Author wrote:you are either on the same level or even a lesser level than someone who's wronged you, and are in no position to ask them to apologize and then grant your forgiveness. Even if you were above them, it seems pious and arrogant to think oneself so great as to go around judging others and granting or withholding forgiveness.


This seems like a broken and unusable paradigm from the start. Reading on I notice that you are talking about a professor who has some say over your life, in terms of grades and your future so I understand why you worded it this way. This does nothing to repair the paradigm, only to explain why you are using it.

I don't claim you should ever listen to me unless you decide to with careful consideration, I merely offer my opinion as an option. I don't think anything can be gained by confrontation, but I don't think much can be lost either, this person has already done their worst to you. I would personally recommend trying to be friends with the professor in question, find out what problems they have in their life and see if you can find a way to help them out. There is no way that they will change the grade that they gave you but they can feel bad about it and maybe think differently about it in the future. There is no way to make things right and revenge just causes further damage, by definition. If you treat everyone with goodwill and kindness you are doing no harm and can feel justified about your own actions. Let others worry about their actions.

The reason that that they treat you this way is because of the same mistaken belief that some people are above others, on a different level as you put it. I would happily believe this, if someone could offer me one single criteria for evaluating these levels. Given that I don't believe that financial achievements are a viable reason for evalutating the 'level' of people there seems to be few ways of doing it. The way to deal with people who have broken mmorpg understandings of real people in terms of levels is as I said above, in my opinion. This happens to be the same as dealing with people who don't have these misconceptions.

It is very difficult for me to justify treating all beings with respect and compassion in terms of self gain but if you try it you will quickly learn the inestimable value of such behaviour. Just don't let it make you vulnerable, don't let kindness put you in a difficult position. Keep your wits about you.
***This post is my own opinion and no claim is being made that it is in any way scientific nor intended to be construed as such by any reader***

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Amie » Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:18 pm UTC

Why does this teacher of yours remind me of Severus Snape so much? xD

Seriously now, though... I think it is important for you to confront your teacher like you plan to. You are right in not jumping to conclusions about Teach's nature because of what s/he is doing to you. You can choose to bear grudges against this person but what good is that going to do to you? Forgiveness, however, comes from within. You can't force yourself to forgive someone. Hear your teacher out. If you still feel that s/he has done something so atrociously wrong to you, and has caused you immense pain because of biased actions, maybe you won't be able to forgive this person. Which isn't *wrong* if you ask me. Like yourself, I don't subscribe to any one school of thought and rely on my own conscience to help me make my decisions. All I have to say to you is this: Ill will may or may not be socially acceptable depending on where you are - and it doesn't matter. You need to ask yourself if it is morally acceptable to you. Personally, I wouldn't see you at the the "Wrong" end of the morality spectrum.

Forgive when you can. Life is much easier without bitterness. Good luck.
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Sat Mar 06, 2010 6:15 am UTC

EmptySet wrote:I'm not sure agree with the assertion that you'll be eaten up by resentment and so forth unless you forgive people. If someone consistently acts like an ass I typically just file them under "People Who Are Annoying Morons" and then move on with my life. It's not really forgiving them as such, but I certainly don't sit there going "Grrrr! I am full of hatred! I wish I could hate you to death! Grrr!", or go out of my way to send them a card of evil filled with kicked puppies and misery on their birthday. I guess what I'm saying is that there's a difference between "not forgiving" and actively nursing a grudge.



Oh, there's a huge difference between hating someone (or holding ill will or whatever you want to call it) and not wanting to be around them because of how they are. One is an active mindset that often manifests itself even when the person does not currently have influence over you, sometimes years or decades into the future, the other is a normal reaction to an irritant or active threat. Holding ill will would fall into the harsher side of things (it does mean you wish, well, ill will!), and as I said no amount of hating someone is ever going to harm them.
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I knew from that moment that she was something special"


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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Patch » Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:37 am UTC

King Author wrote:First, let me be more clear about precisely what I mean. When someone wrongs you (and let's keep these wrongs within the realm of faux pas and such, not actually criminal behavior like murder or rape), conventional schools of thought typically preach forgiveness. Some qualify this by adding that one should only forgive if the perpetrater is truly sorry for what they've done. This is a lovely paradigm which rarely fits reality.


I've generally found that, if you take the time to understand why someone is doing what they are doing, it is difficult to bear a grudge against them. I think a lot of religions simplify this idea to "forgiveness", which, stripped of the whys, becomes a useless platitude. But the principle behind it is sound: if you truly understand someone, it is difficult to hate them. You may avoid association with them because they are bad news, but that's clear eyed common sense, which is very different from hate or resentment stemming from ignorance. (Heinlein may have had his flaws as an author, but his book Stranger in a Strange Land is a beautiful illustration of the idea -- I'd recommend reading it, if you haven't already.)

That said, I wouldn't expect big dramatic revelations or hugs or anything to come out of a meeting with a professor. You may end up understanding her, but there's no particular reason why she would be expected to understand you -- she's probably just going to be rude and arrogant with you in the meeting, and you're just going to have to deal with that inside your own head.

King Author wrote:To pre-emptively answer your inevitable question, I'll say that I've come to this quandary because a professor of mine, whom I have treated - like all others - with only respect and deference, has treated me quite rudely, with disrespect, condescention and even outright scorn, none of which was earned.


One note about this: One of my favourite professors in college was a writing professor who kicked things off by giving me a D on what would have been, in any other class, an "A" paper. When I protested, she pointed out that I was a fine writer, but my thinking in the paper was sloppy -- I had clearly not put any effort into it, expecting to coast by (which had worked for most of my years in college), and she knew that I was better than that. The "D" was based on the paper's quality relative to my potential, and by that measure, I had probably deserved an "F".

Anyway, I moved from anger to deciding that she was pretty much the best professor ever, and I wound up becoming a much better writer as a result of her continuing harsh criticism (I wish I had run into more people like her, earlier on in my education). It sounds like your situation might not be as nuanced, but I figured I'd tell that story, just in case you are being challenged in a useful way, and failing to realize that you might be able to get a lot out of the challenge, if you look beyond your current emotional reactions.

Peace Out,
~ Patch

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Sat Mar 06, 2010 8:03 pm UTC

Patch wrote:I've generally found that, if you take the time to understand why someone is doing what they are doing, it is difficult to bear a grudge against them. I think a lot of religions simplify this idea to "forgiveness", which, stripped of the whys, becomes a useless platitude. But the principle behind it is sound: if you truly understand someone, it is difficult to hate them. You may avoid association with them because they are bad news, but that's clear eyed common sense, which is very different from hate or resentment stemming from ignorance. (Heinlein may have had his flaws as an author, but his book Stranger in a Strange Land is a beautiful illustration of the idea -- I'd recommend reading it, if you haven't already.)

That might have something to do with it, but I suspect that the fact that most religions involve the belief of everything on this earth being temporary having more to do with forgiveness. What I mean is, this too shall pass, don't get too worked up over it.

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby King Author » Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:43 am UTC

I should clarify further. By bearing this...let's say "person" ill will, I mean approaching the confrontation with an indignant, "I've been nothing but deferential and polite and you've treated me like crap because you've let your position of power go to your head. You're a terrible person and I hope your life is miserable." And then it's done. I didn't mean nursing a hatred for years; I probably won't even remember her name this time next year. I'm talking about in the moment, how do I approach this confrontation? On the other hand I could go in with, "I'm dropping your class because I don't think you're grading fairly. Just wanted to check with you to see if you have anything to say about that before I go on my way." And then, again, it's done, and I never think about this wretched..."person" again.

That said, I'm the kind of person who pretty much never stands up for himself. It's not what you think, though -- the typical shyness or self-depreciation or what have you. Not at all. In fact, my self-esteem and self-image are rock solid enough that most daily servings of crap I get (someone flips me off in traffic, a fast food worker is short with me, etc.) don't have any effect whatsoever. In either situation, most of my fellow American would shout an obscenity or at least drop an insult. As for me, even if you specifically set out to offend me, you won't succeed, because I simply don't care what goes on in the massive, hollow head of Joe Blow enough to get upset.

However, in this case, this professor's abuse of power has me absolutely indignant and boiling with rage. I think letting this..."person" have it would let off the steam, and then I can go my merry way. But I'm not sure.

I can say with certainty, however, that this woman is beyond reason, and that there's no way I could go over her head and have any of my complaints taken legitimately. Thus, talking things out calmly won't solve anything (as I said, I've been deferential and polite all along -- I've been calm and polite this whole time and gotten nothing but shat on) and complaining to the student union won't solve anything. Which is part of why I'm so indignant; this fu-- "person" can just sit there and abuse her power, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. Well, actually, I plan to get the word out about her so that nobody signs up for any of her classes, that's something I can do, but it's not like it's a sure thing that anybody will listen to me or even believe me in the first place (although those close to her seem to be sympathetic; those who work with her most closely know all too well what a tyrant and miserable human being she is).

That being said, I appreciate the viewpoint of "maybe her being so hard on you is a good thing," but that's absolutely not what's going on in this case. In fact, I already had a teacher like that. I still got straight A's in that class, but the professor and I were at odds; just two very incompatable people forced to play nice. After the course was over, I realized that, in fact, she'd been the best teacher I ever had. But that's definitely not what's happening in this case. In the former case, I just dismissed said teacher as a nutjob idiot who I'd be glad to get away from. This bi-- "person" I'm dealing with now is a complete tyrant; I wanna see this asshole's career ruined; I want revenge.

@Amie: But Snape was only Snapish to Harry, so the real question is, why do I remind you of Harry Potter? Heh.

@drunken: That's quite an afterschool-specialy way of looking at things, but you're ignoring the fact that I actually do treat everyone respectfully and compassionately. The first few weeks of term were just dandy; I had no particular feelings one way or the other towards the professor. The trouble started when I asked her to explain in great detail the answers she marked wrong on my first batch of assignments. Her attitude was "how dare you waste my time asking me to explain myself -- I put a red mark, that means it's wrong; figure out why it's wrong yourself." Which is absurd; I'm paying really good money for this education, I expect to be able to interact with my professor, to get help and get my questions answered and so forth. And since I just kept on with the questions, she's taken a really foul attitude towards me.

At any rate, you're sounding too extremist. I treat the people I interact with respectfully and with dignity, but if someone is a horrible person, it's wrong - in my view - to treat them with anything but cold indifference. Hostility is rarely warranted (plus it seems immature), but if someone has proven themselves to be a rotten human being, I don't owe them a warm smile and a handshake. Case in point, if I ever met George W. Bush, I would refuse to speak to him, shake his hand or even withstand his company for more than a moment. I would simply explain that I find virtually everything he's done to be morally offensive and harmful to the public good, that I hope he's prosecuted for his war crimes and that I won't consent to spend a moment in his company, then say goodbye and blow him off.

But, like I said, this isn't an issue of massive, measurable harm -- this mean-spirited jerk is simply being harsh on me because she personally dislikes me (I wrote out the words "does not exist" rather than using the abbreviation "dne" on one problem, but otherwise got it 100% correct, and she marked it as 1 out of 4 points! three points off for spelling out dne!). She's scum, but she's no George W. So, the question becomes, can I still justifiably hold her in contempt?

I will say this -- the whole "flowers and sunshine smiles to everyone" attitude is uniquely American. If you're living in a tribe in the middle of the jungle and someone routinely treats you like crap, you try at first to clear up any possible misunderstandings, but if they're obstinately rotten, you treat them with cold indifference. That's my general stance -- make every effort to be on friendly terms with someone who you're not getting along with, but if they willfully treat you poorly despite your efforts, you don't owe them any further consideration. Besides, we're all constantly being reinforced and operantly conditioned, and rewarding miserable behavior with blind forgiveness and indiscriminate compassion is counter-productive and undesirable.

I bet no one's ever had the guts to stand up to this..."person" before. Maybe if I really let her have it, she'll be shocked into seeing what a horrible person she is, and decide change. Unlikely, but either way, how she lives her life isn't my concern or right to meddle with. But I can certainly chew her out for my sake.
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Amie » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:19 pm UTC

Dear Harry Potter,

You should confront her, yes. But be polite. You say that no matter what you do, there's no legit way for you to make her stop doing what she's doing. I think it also means that if you overstep the borders while talking to a teacher, your school might actually blame you. You never know what sort of sordid consequences pissing off a teacher can have.

This doesn't mean you they can give you shit and you should lie down and take it. Just make sure it doesn't lead to further issues. I don't know how your school is when it comes to such matters, but some members of the typical school faculty wait like VULTURES for a chance to make a mountain out of a molehill. Don't let them.

Speak up, but be safe.
Summer is miles and miles away, and no one would ask me to stay.
And I, should contemplate this change... to ease the pain.
And I, should step out of the rain... turn away.

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby stubborndogmom » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:00 pm UTC

I subscribe to the 'How to win friends and influence people' code of ethics in my public life ( a great book for anyone who deals with the public routinely - even though written in 1934 the advice it offers remains contemporary- at least it works for me...)

Although there are many maxims in the book the one that fits the situation you are describing is this: In a nutshell I strive to never argue nor correct others. (At least I strive for this. What comes out of my mouth in the heat of the moment is often not HTWFAIP approved but at least in the aftermath I know where I went wrong)

I don't follow this 'guide' because I believe it is better to be all sunshine and roses about it - no I follow this guide because in my business it works better than anything I have ever found. When my business partner and I began implementing the principles in everything from emails to personal interactions business picked up in a big way. On the surface the ideas are simple but in application they are some of the best ways to manipulate people without actually manipulating them. I am sure there may be plenty of people who would disagree with some of the basic principles the book focuses on, who may say it is outdated for our modern times - maybe for some things, but people are people and they seem to respond just like the book forecasts.

This teacher will not change and in fact will get another little thrill over your challenge. She will again get to 'lord' over you as you are powerless to modify her behavior. There is no way on earth that your comments to her, no matter how well reasoned nor perfect in their execution, will manipulate her to be any different than she is.

Now, being that nothing will change on her part, would this be a good exercise for you anyway. Should you "chew her out for your sake"? I am not sure that you would benefit. Standing up for yourself to prevent misuse is one thing and that is something we should all practice. Chewing someone out because we think that it will ease the boiling pot of rage stewing within us is not something we should practice.

First of all, that little pot of rage is never reduced when we let it spill over. If we practice feeling it, it just gets bigger. It would especially get bigger because there is almost no doubt that confronting this instructor will bring on more derisive behavior on her part. But even if she didn't add to the initial insult it would still not reduce your rage. This is because what you focus on increases.

This is actually rather a fascinating thing as it is true both in a physical sense as well as a mental one. For example if you wished to increase your muscle strength it has been shown that focusing on the muscles as you contract them in exercise enhances the muscle building process. Another example was done in a study where they deliberately made people angry (sorry, can't think of which study or I would point you to it) - in this study some of the people made angry were made to sit quietly for a couple of minutes. Another group in the study were asked to beat on a pillow for a minute or two. They did a simple fill in the blank word test for both groups afterward. Those who sat quietly for a few minutes filled in neutral or peaceful words. Those who beat on the pillow filled in angry and violent words. So, to express our anger seems to make us think more angry thoughts -and probably be more likely to act out in angry ways.

So - if your life is going to be filled with "chewing people out" then your confrontation will help build that ability in you. I am not exactly sure what kind of job needs this "chewing out" skill. Most of the things we do in life that involve other people need a different skill set. I suggest practicing what you need in life. Now if clearly stating your point while damping down your emotional reactions while under the assault of someones ridicule and contempt will benefit you later - then sure - this would probably be good practice.

On the note about forgiveness - I follow that forgiveness is only merited when the person who has done the offense apologizes for their behavior and changed their actions for the better. Otherwise they just remain in my 'I will be polite to them when I must, but otherwise I ignore them' pile.

Best wishes with whatever you choose to do.

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Briareos » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:11 pm UTC

King Author wrote:I should clarify further. By bearing this...let's say "person" ill will, I mean approaching the confrontation with an indignant, "I've been nothing but deferential and polite and you've treated me like crap because you've let your position of power go to your head. You're a terrible person and I hope your life is miserable." And then it's done. I didn't mean nursing a hatred for years; I probably won't even remember her name this time next year. I'm talking about in the moment, how do I approach this confrontation? On the other hand I could go in with, "I'm dropping your class because I don't think you're grading fairly. Just wanted to check with you to see if you have anything to say about that before I go on my way." And then, again, it's done, and I never think about this wretched..."person" again.

[...]

As for me, even if you specifically set out to offend me, you won't succeed, because I simply don't care what goes on in the massive, hollow head of Joe Blow enough to get upset.

However, in this case, this professor's abuse of power has me absolutely indignant and boiling with rage. I think letting this..."person" have it would let off the steam, and then I can go my merry way. But I'm not sure.

[...]

This bi-- "person" I'm dealing with now is a complete tyrant; I wanna see this asshole's career ruined; I want revenge.

[...]

I will say this -- the whole "flowers and sunshine smiles to everyone" attitude is uniquely American. If you're living in a tribe in the middle of the jungle and someone routinely treats you like crap, you try at first to clear up any possible misunderstandings, but if they're obstinately rotten, you treat them with cold indifference. That's my general stance -- make every effort to be on friendly terms with someone who you're not getting along with, but if they willfully treat you poorly despite your efforts, you don't owe them any further consideration.
(bold mine)

There's nothing wrong with cold indifference, but every other part of the post indicated that you don't want to treat this professor with cold indifference. You want to let off steam; you want to chew her out; you want to ruin her career.

You're angry at her and you want to hurt her. But what does it get you? Do you think you'll feel better if you're able to hurt someone else? You already said that, all other things being equal, you'll forget about her within a year and never see her again. So what's the point of being angry right now?

My advice would be, in the moment -- right now -- let it go. Anger is like a fever that grips your brain, but if you give it some time to subside, you'll avoid doing anything you can't undo. (At this point I'm stealing shamelessly from Seneca's On Anger, so if you want a more eloquent treatment of this problem, I highly recommend picking it up.)

You seem to be proud of the fact that you can treat most people you don't like with cold indifference, and that it's nigh-impossible for anyone to offend you. These are indeed admirable. But are you treating them that way because you truly believe they're irrelevant, or because you hope someone will come along some day and gush over how Stoic you are? I only ask because, first, I was the same way for a long time (going through the motions of Stoicism) so I hope I can recognize it, and second, most of the rest of your post doesn't really seem to fit with how you're describing yourself.
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:18 pm UTC

Another word of advice; do not blow up on this teacher. You yourself admitted that there is nothing you could do to change the teacher's mind, and strongly suggested that she holds a fair amount of power. At best, you will come out of this feeling even more frustrated. At worst, she'll get the pleasure of bringing even more punishment down on you; I have seen students kicked out of programs because they ticked a professor off enough. If half of what you said about this professor is true, she may try to do just that.
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby King Author » Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:36 am UTC

Amie wrote:Dear Harry Potter,

You should confront her, yes. But be polite. You say that no matter what you do, there's no legit way for you to make her stop doing what she's doing. I think it also means that if you overstep the borders while talking to a teacher, your school might actually blame you. You never know what sort of sordid consequences pissing off a teacher can have.

This doesn't mean you they can give you shit and you should lie down and take it. Just make sure it doesn't lead to further issues. I don't know how your school is when it comes to such matters, but some members of the typical school faculty wait like VULTURES for a chance to make a mountain out of a molehill. Don't let them.

Speak up, but be safe.

Well, it is college, not high school, so the faculty by and large are slightly less irritable and unpleasant, but not by much. However, I'm not too worried about consequences because A) I'm submitting my "drop course" papers before speaking to her, so she'll have no power over me, and B) there's going to be no witnesses to our conversation, so it's my word against hers. People typically like me, and as I said, the faculty pretty much knows what a bitter, impossible-to-deal-with person she is.

Plus, all I'm gonna say is "your behavior was way out of line, you've done me exceeding amounts of harm, I think you're a terrible person and I hope your life is a miserable one." It's not like I'm gonna say, "fuck you, biyatch, lick my nuts."

stubborndogmom wrote:I subscribe to the 'How to win friends and influence people' code of ethics in my public life ( a great book for anyone who deals with the public routinely - even though written in 1934 the advice it offers remains contemporary- at least it works for me...)

I'll suspend my judgement until I get a look at the book myself, but from the fact that it was written so long ago and it's titled "win friends" (as if it were a competition), I'm doubtful I'll find it at all enlightening.

stubborndogmom wrote:Although there are many maxims in the book the one that fits the situation you are describing is this: In a nutshell I strive to never argue nor correct others. (At least I strive for this. What comes out of my mouth in the heat of the moment is often not HTWFAIP approved but at least in the aftermath I know where I went wrong)

As it so happens, not correcting or arguing with people is one of my person policies. Not for the sake of sunshine and rainbows, but because most people are irrational, unreasonable and have very large yet fragile egos, so trying to correct or argue doesn't work and often makes them hostile.

stubborndogmom wrote:I don't follow this 'guide' because I believe it is better to be all sunshine and roses about it - no I follow this guide because in my business it works better than anything I have ever found. When my business partner and I began implementing the principles in everything from emails to personal interactions business picked up in a big way. On the surface the ideas are simple but in application they are some of the best ways to manipulate people without actually manipulating them. I am sure there may be plenty of people who would disagree with some of the basic principles the book focuses on, who may say it is outdated for our modern times - maybe for some things, but people are people and they seem to respond just like the book forecasts.

Don't tempt me. I'm good enough at manipulating people for my own purposes and I strive not to do it.

stubborndogmom wrote:This teacher will not change and in fact will get another little thrill over your challenge. She will again get to 'lord' over you as you are powerless to modify her behavior. There is no way on earth that your comments to her, no matter how well reasoned nor perfect in their execution, will manipulate her to be any different than she is.

Now, being that nothing will change on her part, would this be a good exercise for you anyway. Should you "chew her out for your sake"? I am not sure that you would benefit. Standing up for yourself to prevent misuse is one thing and that is something we should all practice. Chewing someone out because we think that it will ease the boiling pot of rage stewing within us is not something we should practice.

Of course it won't change her. Well, nothings 0% or 100% when it comes to human behavior, so there's a slight chance, but I don't really care about that. Like I said, I'm gonna try to get her fired, and even failing that, I'm gonna get the word out so that no one will take any of her classes.

This book you're referencing, by the way, sounds quite high up in the clouds for my tastes. I'm more of a "bare feet in the dirt" sort of person. I like to think I'm, in the words of Maslow, "a good animal." It seems like a strained effort to be "civilized" to deny that telling someone who's wronged you to fuck themselves feels good.

stubborndogmom wrote:First of all, that little pot of rage is never reduced when we let it spill over. If we practice feeling it, it just gets bigger. It would especially get bigger because there is almost no doubt that confronting this instructor will bring on more derisive behavior on her part. But even if she didn't add to the initial insult it would still not reduce your rage. This is because what you focus on increases.

I gotta confess, this book (I presume these gems of wisdom you're giving are from the book) is creeping me out and I haven't even seen it.

stubborndogmom wrote:This is actually rather a fascinating thing as it is true both in a physical sense as well as a mental one. For example if you wished to increase your muscle strength it has been shown that focusing on the muscles as you contract them in exercise enhances the muscle building process. Another example was done in a study where they deliberately made people angry (sorry, can't think of which study or I would point you to it) - in this study some of the people made angry were made to sit quietly for a couple of minutes. Another group in the study were asked to beat on a pillow for a minute or two. They did a simple fill in the blank word test for both groups afterward. Those who sat quietly for a few minutes filled in neutral or peaceful words. Those who beat on the pillow filled in angry and violent words. So, to express our anger seems to make us think more angry thoughts -and probably be more likely to act out in angry ways.

What you need to realize, however, is that experiments like that merely note a given trend for a given phenomenon in a given situation. What I mean to say is, just because most people act X way in Y situation doesn't mean all will. As it so happens, for me personally, beating a pillow actually does work better than sitting quietly. Actually, I do physically draining yard work rather than pointlessly beat a pillow. It's hard to be full of anger when you're so tired you can't stand up straight. Again, this "sit quietly and wish away the anger" thing sounds like a strained effort to deny the base aspects of humanity.

stubborndogmom wrote:So - if your life is going to be filled with "chewing people out" then your confrontation will help build that ability in you. I am not exactly sure what kind of job needs this "chewing out" skill. Most of the things we do in life that involve other people need a different skill set. I suggest practicing what you need in life. Now if clearly stating your point while damping down your emotional reactions while under the assault of someones ridicule and contempt will benefit you later - then sure - this would probably be good practice.

Yikes, where did that come from? When did I say I go around yelling at people all the time?

stubborndogmom wrote:On the note about forgiveness - I follow that forgiveness is only merited when the person who has done the offense apologizes for their behavior and changed their actions for the better. Otherwise they just remain in my 'I will be polite to them when I must, but otherwise I ignore them' pile.

Ignore, yes, but do they deserve politeness? I freely give out politeness and respectful and dignified treatment because I have no idea what kind of person someone is when I first meet them, or only casually know them, and I like to give the benefit of the doubt. Is it really proper to be polite, however, if someone's demonstrated that they're exactly the kind of person you disdain?

stubborndogmom wrote:Best wishes with whatever you choose to do.

Thanks. And I'm glad you didn't say "God bless," heh.

Briareos wrote:There's nothing wrong with cold indifference, but every other part of the post indicated that you don't want to treat this professor with cold indifference. You want to let off steam; you want to chew her out; you want to ruin her career.

A volcano can lie cold for thousands of years once it erupts. Plus, how I feel and how I behave are not always correlated. I feel fiery rage towards this professor, and I want to let her have it. Once I do, I think that rage will subside. Even if it doesn't, my planned attitude towards her from then on would be cold indifference.

Briareos wrote:You're angry at her and you want to hurt her. But what does it get you? Do you think you'll feel better if you're able to hurt someone else? You already said that, all other things being equal, you'll forget about her within a year and never see her again. So what's the point of being angry right now?

Again, it's a nice afterschool special sentiment to say, "we choose to be angry, so pile up all your anger in an anger balloon and release it into the winds of happiness." But come on.

To explain, chewing her out would simply feel good. As for getting her fired or some such, it's because I don't feel this woman deserves to be a teacher. She pretty much hates students, hates young people in general, and even me - an exemplary honors student who is adored by every single one of his other professors - so I really don't think it benefits anyone for her to be teaching. I think a lot of people have gone through her class and come out the other end worse for the wear. She's a tyrant who's abusing her power and she needs to be stopped. Getting people to stop taking her classes and even getting her fired is the right thing to do.

Aside from that, revenge feels good. I won't deny that's part of my motivation. Still, she shouldn't be teaching. She's a detriment to the learning environment.

Briareos wrote:My advice would be, in the moment -- right now -- let it go. Anger is like a fever that grips your brain, but if you give it some time to subside, you'll avoid doing anything you can't undo. (At this point I'm stealing shamelessly from Seneca's On Anger, so if you want a more eloquent treatment of this problem, I highly recommend picking it up.)

You seem to be proud of the fact that you can treat most people you don't like with cold indifference, and that it's nigh-impossible for anyone to offend you. These are indeed admirable. But are you treating them that way because you truly believe they're irrelevant, or because you hope someone will come along some day and gush over how Stoic you are? I only ask because, first, I was the same way for a long time (going through the motions of Stoicism) so I hope I can recognize it, and second, most of the rest of your post doesn't really seem to fit with how you're describing yourself.

Who said I was a Stoic? I actually consider myself an incredibly passionate person. And I never said I treat most people I dislike with cold indifference; only people who I really think are rotten. I merely avoid those I dislike. Also, I know you can't really judge by anything other than my posts in this topic, and you're just trying to point out all the possibilities you can to be helpful, but it's a pretty big insult to suggest that someone's only acting a certain way to garner praise. Either way, I have no "pride" in any way you'd understand it. "You" because you're not like me, I don't mean anything personal by it.

SummerGlauFan wrote:Another word of advice; do not blow up on this teacher. You yourself admitted that there is nothing you could do to change the teacher's mind, and strongly suggested that she holds a fair amount of power. At best, you will come out of this feeling even more frustrated. At worst, she'll get the pleasure of bringing even more punishment down on you; I have seen students kicked out of programs because they ticked a professor off enough. If half of what you said about this professor is true, she may try to do just that.

It's technically illegal for college professors (at least at public universities) to kick people out of programs just because they made them angry. They sort of have to have legitimate reasons.
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby somebody already took it » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:36 am UTC

King Author wrote:Plus, all I'm gonna say is "your behavior was way out of line, you've done me exceeding amounts of harm, I think you're a terrible person and I hope your life is a miserable one."

Instead of that, would you be willing to say "...exceeding amounts of harm, I think you are acting terribly and I hope you mend your ways?"

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Chen » Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:21 pm UTC

King Author wrote:Plus, all I'm gonna say is "your behavior was way out of line, you've done me exceeding amounts of harm, I think you're a terrible person and I hope your life is a miserable one." It's not like I'm gonna say, "fuck you, biyatch, lick my nuts."


Depending on how anal the teacher is even the first statement could be considered harassment. Remove the last bit and it shouldn't be an issue. Just making yourself feel better isn't necessarily worth the risk, depending also on what kind of power the teacher holds. Remember a lot of bad professors get to keep their jobs because they are cash cows for the university. This can result in them having powerful "friends" even if they are annoying assholes.

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby spartakip » Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:22 pm UTC

Ill will is more than acceptable. The only things that separate man from other animals are our ability to make tools to make tools and malice. Tolerance and understanding are for dolphins and gibbons.

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Bli » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:45 am UTC

complicated question.


i do not subscribe to any philosophical or religious dogma (that i know the name of).
so, with that said:
is the vocal realization of ill will acceptable (e.g. telling your professor off)?
depends on your definition of "acceptable". can you define this?

in the meantime, i will say:

don't be lazy and just damn them: if you want their life to be crap, work on it! plan ahead!
kidding.



if she has done something legitimately terrible or has slighted you in some way, it is my opinion that you should go through the proper channels to have this rectified.
if she marked you unfairly, ask for a grades appeal.
if it is a matter of being treated disrespectfully, with condescension or scorn, i would speak with her about it, but not in an accusatory or angry manner. if this gets you flipped off or your concerns are disregarded, i would then speak to a student's union or what-have-you, as someone above had suggested. saying you tried, and tried politely, to address the issue is also a point for you if it ever comes to mediation.

or, shit, This post had objectionable content.. Not appropriate for SB ~~Fatstaff

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Bright Shadows » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:54 am UTC

I'm of the opinion that people can earn ill will, but also that they can earn back good will. Is it a points system? No. Honestly,earning back good will should amount to little more than demonstrable change, and in some cases, even a genuine attempt at change is good enough. We have to do that much, or everyone is pretty much gonna be on the bad side of us, right?

In this case... Well, I'll let this clear up where I stand.

Bli wrote:in the meantime, i will say:

don't be lazy and just damn them: if you want their life to be crap, work on it! plan ahead!
kidding.

You say kidding, I say "Why?"
If you want to get this teacher fired, you really are going to need to plan ahead.

Steps may include:
-Do everything, literally, that is available to you before confronting the teacher.
-Talking to whomever runs the school. This is included above but warrants further mention.
-Confront the teacher in a public place. You have witnesses, she has the knowledge of witnesses.
-Arrange for the witnesses, if you really want to make sure the teacher is bound to her statements.

Because I may have been unclear on the general issue, thinking about it:
Some people go the extra mile to earn ill will. Retaliation is not off the table if things pass a certain point. However, that retaliation must leave room for the person to change. You must be able to stop it at any time. If the person has a genuine change for the better, you must stop it, or you risk destroying that change.
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Bli » Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:05 am UTC

Bright Shadows wrote:
Bli wrote:in the meantime, i will say:

don't be lazy and just damn them: if you want their life to be crap, work on it! plan ahead!
kidding.

You say kidding, I say "Why?"

moral/legal culpability, mainly. :D
but my ideas on the topic seem to me to line up pretty squarely with what you've expressed.

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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby Fathomless » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:02 pm UTC

Is ill will ever acceptable.

Why would you seek to justify your feelings and thoughts through someone else? Let your own moral guidelines choose your path.

I am sure that if you have had a relationship with this person that did you "ill will" there is probably more to the story than what we are getting. I know that you think that this is completely unjustified and unwarranted, but through your posts you seem to posess a lot of pride concerning yourself. If this teacher is calling you out and giving you this grade on such a small thing such as writing out a pre defined acronym, is this in effect retaliation on something that you have done in the past?

It is hard to believe that all but the most petty of people would do something like this unwarranted. Is there a time in your relationship that you called the teacher out for something just as silly, and used that to bludgeon the teacher?

Was there carefully outlined rules on what syntax the answers should follow?

If you just want to rage then rage, if you want to find out the why, then excercise more empathy and think it through that way.

I think that voicing your opinion to the teacher is a good thing, to actively seek to do "ill will" to this person, such as try to get them fired or what not, places you directly into the category of person that has offended you in the first place. While that is perfectly acceptable to some people, some try to use their experiences to change themselves, or progress themselves.

No matter what you think of this person, i would like to suggest that every person in the world at some point or another has done something similiar. Perhaps you have had a bad day, or were under a lot of strain, etc, and berated a fast food employee for ringing up incorrectly, what you yourself ordered incorrectly. Might be a poor analogy i admit, but nobody is perfect, and most of the things that people complain or get offended about are things that we the complainers have done at some point in our life.

Do what you will. It is your life and you have to accept responsibility for your own actions. Myself, i have too much empathy to do something like that. No matter if it is an idiot, a straight up mean person or otherwise, i have trespassed against people before that did not deserve it.

What is it that you need to get from this to be satisfied? Just being mean to a person that was mean to you, or are you really trying to change things for the better for future students. Are you trying to help this teacher to be a better person? What are your motivations?

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Re: Is ill Whill Wheaton ever acceptable?

Postby King Author » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:48 am UTC

somebody already took it wrote:
King Author wrote:Plus, all I'm gonna say is "your behavior was way out of line, you've done me exceeding amounts of harm, I think you're a terrible person and I hope your life is a miserable one."

Instead of that, would you be willing to say "...exceeding amounts of harm, I think you are acting terribly and I hope you mend your ways?"

I would, but I must not tell lies.

Chen wrote:Depending on how anal the teacher is even the first statement could be considered harassment. Remove the last bit and it shouldn't be an issue. Just making yourself feel better isn't necessarily worth the risk, depending ALSO YOU GUYS: on what kind of power the teacher holds. Remember a lot of bad professors get to keep their jobs because they are cash cows for the university. This can result in them having powerful "friends" even if they are annoying assholes.

Heh, honestly it might be worth it. I'm getting pretty jaded with college. It's such a scam. And it's all kissing ass and sniffing crotch. What? "Sniffing crotch" isn't an acceptable metaphor for "stroking ego?" I think it is.

spartakip wrote:Ill Whill Wheaton is more than acceptable. The only things that separate man from other animals are our ability to make tools to make tools and malice. Tolerance and understanding are for dolphins and gibbons.

Animals are just organic computers; input and output with no appreciable cognition inbetween. Animals aren't tolerant or "naturey" or whatever other flowery idea you can try to pin on them. Wait, animals are organic computers? They're cyborgs! Man, technology needs to play some serious catch-up with mother nature.

Fathomless wrote:Is ill Whill Wheaton ever acceptable.

Why would you seek to justify your feelings and thoughts through someone else? Let your own moral guidelines choose your path.

Thanks, Buddah, that point's been pressed several times already. Now if we could continue with the topic?

Fathomless wrote:I am sure that if you have had a relationship with this person that did you "ill Whill Wheaton" there is probably more to the story than what we are getting. I know that you think that this is completely unjustified and unwarranted, but through your posts you seem to posess a lot of pride concerning yourself. If this teacher is calling you out and giving you this grade on such a small thing such as writing out a pre defined acronym, is this in effect retaliation on something that you have done in the past?

It is hard to believe that all but the most petty of people would do something like this unwarranted. Is there a time in your relationship that you called the teacher out for something just as silly, and used that to bludgeon the teacher?

Was there carefully outlined rules on what syntax the answers should follow?

I've told you everything. This crazy bitch is literally the only teacher I've ever had a problem with in my twenty three years of life. And I did absolutely nothing to her to warrant her actions. Absolutely nothing. And by "absolutely," I don't mean "practically" or "virtually," but "absolute" as in 2.000... + 2.000... = 4.000... absolute. And as a psych major, let me tell you, there's a lot you'd find hard to believe that's actually completely routine. Maybe I resemble someone from her past that she loathed and she's displacing, maybe she's just as loopy as Anne Rice, I don't know and I don't care.

But even if I had done something, the only reasonable response from teacher to student is for teacher to take student aside, tell student what student did wrong and ask that it not be repeated. I mean, you've gotta be pretty hardcore insane in the membrane to try and ruin some random student's college career because they chewed gum in your classroom or something.

Fathomless wrote:If you just want to rage then rage, if you want to find out the why, then excercise more empathy and think it through that way.

Again, thanks Buddah. And by "Buddah" I mean "captain obvious."

Fathomless wrote:I think that voicing your opinion to the teacher is a good thing, to actively seek to do "ill Whill Wheaton" to this person, such as try to get them fired or what not, places you directly into the category of person that has offended you in the first place.

No it most certainly does not. I did nothing to her and she's been giving me hell; that's some kinda crazy. If I do something to her now that she's given me hell, that's retalliation. It's categorically different. Now, morality is a different issue, but it's as categorically different as night and day. Well, noon and dusk at least.

Fathomless wrote:While that is perfectly acceptable to some people, some try to use their experiences to change themselves, or progress themselves.

You have much to teach me, Wise One.

Fathomless wrote:No matter what you think of this person, i would like to suggest that every person in the world at some point or another has done something similiar. Perhaps you have had a bad day, or were under a lot of strain, etc, and berated a fast food employee for ringing up incorrectly, what you yourself ordered incorrectly. Might be a poor analogy i admit, but nobody is perfect, and most of the things that people complain or get offended about are things that we the complainers have done at some point in our life.

I dunno what kinda guy (or girl or intersexed/transgendered person; I don't like to assume) you are, but I've never actively screwed over someone innocent by abuse of my vested powers for eight straight weeks. I've most certainly taken my anger out on someone, but it's always a single lash or one bad day, and it's always followed by guilt and copious apologizing and maybe hugs (because I'm the Scrubs John Dorian of Illinois). This crazy bitch has been marking me down because of some weird personal beef for eight friggin' weeks. That takes dedication; the average person literally can't hold a grudge that long. There've been studies; most people forget about trifles and have to start making a conscious effort to stay angry with someone after a median three weeks.

Fathomless wrote:Do what you Whill Wheaton. It is your life and you have to accept responsibility for your own actions. Myself, i have too much empathy to do something like that. No matter if it is an idiot, a straight up mean person or otherwise, i have trespassed against people before that did not deserve it.

Wise One and Saint. I like that in a person.

Fathomless wrote:What is it that you need to get from this to be satisfied? Just being mean to a person that was mean to you, or are you really trying to change things for the better for future students. Are you trying to help this teacher to be a better person? What are your motivations?

I explained my motivations already; this person is actively harmful to the learning environment. Everyone I've talked to about her gets the same "ugh, not her" expression on their face the instant I mention her name. I'm an exceptionally goodie-goodie teacher's pet type of student (I admit it -_-) and she's screwing with me for no good reason, so imagine what she's doing to the college careers of the typical student who doesn't care one way or the other? This bitch needs to go down.
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Re: Is ill will ever acceptable?

Postby jakovasaur » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:50 am UTC

If you want to be mean to her, then do so. I don't see the point in arguing over it here, since pretty much everyone has suggested you let it go and move on. In the overall scheme of things, it doesn't matter at all. The real question is why do you need to justify this to yourself?


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