“I rant” said comedian Dennis Miller, “therefore I am.” Miller was a funny guy, he also said, “..a recent poll showed that you are very much more likely to be shot by a fat cop if you run.” Miller is spot on about ranting. We rant so that people know we exist. We simmer and finally boil over – The rant comes and the world knows that right here is a person that feels strongly about something and they sit up and take notice.
What is ranting? The Brainy Quotes website defines ranting as – To rave in violent, high-sounding, or extravagant language, without dignity of thought; to be noisy, boisterous, and bombastic in talk or declamation; as, a ranting preacher. If you look at free online dictionaries they tend to define a rant as a violent speech that incites anger. But a rant does not have to be violent a more sedate definition can be found at The Free Dictionary which defines a rant as to – Talk in a loud and excited way.
And this is generally what a rant is. It is a person that has become so incited, so excited or so angry about something that they have to let the world know. It doesn’t have to be angry. The sports fan can be so excited about their favourite team that they can rant about them with joy. In the same breath they can become so upset about an umpires decision that they can begin an angry rant about why umpires are the devils incarnate. People rant about injustice and they rant about joy and they rant about exciting experiences. A rant is just someone expressing their thoughts in an excited and enthusiastic way.
Ranting does not always get the desired result. The sportsperson can rant at the referee for an absurd decision and the referee can show his displeasure of the rant by issuing a red card. The politician can rant about what he she sees as government mismanagement to which the government usually responds by reminding the politician that his party was once in power and now it his their turn NA NA NA!. The wife can rant about the lack of help around the house to which the husband usually responds to by pretending to look busy. From these examples one would think that ranting is counter productive. So why do it?
We rant because we know that our rants, done well, can rally people. On this site we recently had a rant about those awful Cora Barclay Ads. It struck a chord with readers throughout the world. They rallied behind and said how terrible the ads were. When people rally change can happen. Often this is why people rant – simply to voice displeasure and make change.
Rants can be done by voice or they can be done with actions. In 1968 Olympics in Mexico who could ever forget Black Power. The following was taken from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald; It remains one of the most vivid Olympic images – a picture once seen, never forgotten. It was courageous, non violent protest, benign but impassioned dissent. They meant to bring further attention to ciovil rights issues, to give pride to African-Americans, and they succeeded.
Make no mistake the actions of the two black athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos including the white Australian, Peter Norman were a rant. A smart rant, a silent rant and an effective rant. The two black athletes simply had had enough, there anger could no longer be hidden. With their simple black gloved salute they screamed louder than any voice – “Racism is unacceptable, inequality is unacceptable – We and black people have had enough LISTEN”
For their trouble Smith and Carlos were branded black Nazis. They were branded as being disrespectful of the American Flag. They were expelled from the Olympics. They received death threats and rocks through their windows. Smith was thrown out of the army for un-American activities. “There are still threats,” Carlos said. “I was never concerned about those punks. I just let them know it will be remembered, that life doesn’t stop when you leave this planet.” (Sydney Morning Herald) Make no mistake the world did remember.
Ranting can also be used to install fear. It can be used to make people do things that humans would otherwise not do. Hitler, Idi Amin and Stalin were all effective ranters that did enormous damage. Used in the wrong way ranting can cause unspeakable pain. Unfortunately these ranters stand out. They give ranters with true intentions a bad name.
Make no mistake we need to rant. Sometimes we need to rant to make change and other times we need to rant simply to get it off our chest. The late Kurt Cobain once said; My generation’s apathy, I’m disgusted by it. I’m disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not alwats standing up against racism, sexism and all other isms the counterculture has been whining about for years. Simply put, say nothing then nothing changes, you will only have yourself to blame.
Then and again Abraham Lincoln also said; ” Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt” There lies the dilemma of the ranter but remain silent at your peril.