A mantra for those of a certain age

Reader Bill Boecklen made a comment yesterday that I offer now as a mantra for society. As Bill said,

I would like to see the reaction to a new slogan:

Not Voting = Violence

I suspect that the Millennials would find it uncomfortable given their poor rate of participation.

So, I made a “meme” that you can steal and put on Twitter or your Facebook page. Help yourself; let’s get those Millennials to the polls!


  1. GBJames
    Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink


  2. Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    There’s no logical necessity to dump on the Millennials here. The message is true, brilliant, and to the point without that distraction.

    Besides, I hear some Millenials are getting a little impatient with being everyone’s whipping boy this past decade. No need to alienate them further at such a crucial time.

    For the record, I’m 63.

    • Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Maybe no logical necessity but a tactical necessity. After all, the slogan “silence = violence” came from Millennials.

      Sorry, but I am not going to tiptoe around wokeness just because you think it’s expedient. Remember, Boomers are just as demonized.

      • Mark R.
        Posted June 12, 2020 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

        The balanced generation is Gen X. Right in the middle of Boomers and Millennials. We bring balance to the force.
        Kidding, of course. 🙂
        I like the slogan.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted June 14, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          I have NO idea what millennials, boomers or Gen X are.

          Millennials – are they those weird Xtian nutjobs who thought Jesus was returning 20 years ago?

          Boomers – umm, there was a character called Boomer in Battlestar Galactica. Acted by Grace Park, IIRC. Turned out to be a Cylon ‘skin job’. Not sure where that gets us.

          Gen X? – no idea, maybe they’re fans of Xboxes?

          That’s my best guess, anyway.


    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      For the record, I’m 63.

      Pump your brakes, sonny. 🙂

      • GBJames
        Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        OK, Boomer.

    • Posted June 14, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      The message is true, brilliant, and to the point without that distraction.

      The message isn’t true, at least not literally. Not voting is not violence. For me (not a millennial) it would have the opposite effect of that intended.

      It’s different for those young people that think that everything bad must be violence and maybe it will work for them.

      • Posted June 14, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        And before anybody posts to say I don’t get it, I do understand that Jerry’s post is satirising the “silence is violence” meme and I think it’s quite clever.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    It would be correct to say – Not voting in 2016 = Trump

    • Posted June 12, 2020 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      I want a red baseball cap that says


      • Posted June 12, 2020 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

        My God, you mean you want to live through the last four years AGAIN?

  4. ploubere
    Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think you can guilt young people into doing anything, much less voting. I don’ know that you can guilt anyone into voting, for that matter. They have to see some personal benefit for the effort.

    • Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      There is–they’re committing violence by not voting!

      • ploubere
        Posted June 12, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        It might ring more true if we point out that not voting allows violence to continue, rather than implying that they’re somehow being violent.

        • Posted June 12, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          I used it exactly as those who say “silence equals violence” use it. So it rings just as true as that widespread slogan.

          • ploubere
            Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            “Vote or die” was not successful at all in getting out the youth vote. My feeling is that those with whom such slogans resonate are already going to vote. The task is to motivate the indifferent ones. I just don’t think this will work. Perhaps it needs some focus group testing.

            • Posted June 12, 2020 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

              ok, focus groups. Jeez.
              It’s still funny.

              • sugould
                Posted June 16, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

                I am second to none in my support of focus groups. Yet the internet and all related protests moves way to fast for that. Even if you’ve got the money, no one has the time. It either catches on or it doesn’t.

    • Filippo
      Posted June 13, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      “They have to see some personal benefit for the effort.”

      I’m all ears for them to define that “personal benefit.” (Maybe appeal to their consumer values – the latest digital device in exchange for voting?) Self-interest has always abode across the Fruited Plain. There is some inconvenience in voting. And in getting out of bed, or picking up the trash one drops, or, perish the thought, cleaning ones own toilet.

      I gather that the locution “civic duty” is not in the lexicon of many of them.

  5. Korben
    Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne,

    Why is that you said “I made a meme” and then proceed to explain why you made said meme when you yourself have said that you have no idea why it is you do things other than being determined to do so. Why bother explaining your motive for action (dumping on Millenials) when you could not possibly know why you did it?

    • Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      This is one of the dumbest comments I’ve ever had on this site. I couldn’t have made it without the environmental stimulus of having seen Bill’s post. That’s the only explanation I gave. I did not say I did this to dump on Millennials. It’s funny, for Chrissake, but you apparently lack a sense of humor to go along with your overweening Pecksniffery.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 12, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Attaboy, boss. You’re back in position to say it again: Long hair don’t care. 🙂

        Now, there‘s a “meme” avant la lettre.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 12, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

          Now that’s an oldie but a goodie

      • Posted June 12, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        There is a bit of nit-pickery in a few comments here.
        Maybe its a Friday night thing.

        • Mark R.
          Posted June 12, 2020 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

          And everybody is a bit more tipsy these days. I know I am. 😉

    • Posted June 14, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      There’s a straw man in there. The fact that our behaviour is deterministic does not mean we don’t know why we do things. Nobody arguing against free will has ever done that as far as I know.

  6. Posted June 12, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    It’ll do. After all, not voting = a vote for tRump

    • fishnet123
      Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Now that makes a lot more sense than not voting = violence.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 12, 2020 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Unless you voted for Trump in ’16. I have a feeling a lot of Trump 2016 voters will be sitting on the fence like Millennials in 2016. I know of two people in this camp. They’re still not swayed to vote for Biden (yet?), but definitely not voting for the Great Orange One again. OTOH, Millennials seem to be waking up, and understand what’s at stake. I wish they would have when it mattered in 2016, but it matters a lot more in 2020, so better late than never. We’ll see.

  7. Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    The problem is that since you’re not woke, you have no right to tell anyone what is violence and what isn’t. That’s the way they will react to it anyway.

    It also seems to buy into their practice of calling anything they don’t agree with “violence”. You may only be doing it sarcastically but, if so, that’s just doing violence to “violence”.

  8. RenameYale
    Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I am old-fashioned. I think violence is violence, and nothing else. I don’t like eliding the distinction, even for rhetorical effect.

    • Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      This mocks the idea that words and ideas are violence, and I’ve always emphasized the distinction.

      Are you new here?

      • Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        I think RenameYale is making the same point I was. Unless you are Titania McGrath, using “violence” this way is venturing into dangerous territory. I wouldn’t turn you into the Thought Police though. 😉

        • Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

          I am acting like Titania McGrath. And, frankly, I don’t give a rat’s patootie if I’m venturing into “dangerous territory”, whatever that is.

          Frankly, I’m surprised that everyone wants to lecture me about a lighthearted but semi-serious slogan that is, in the end, humorous.

          • ploubere
            Posted June 12, 2020 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

            If you’d done it with a Highlands accent we would have gotten that it was satire.

    • Lance C.
      Posted June 12, 2020 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Mr Coyne have you read George Ellis’ new essay on Aeon? Seems to make a good case against hard determinism. It certainly approaches the whole “randomness = free will” fallacy but perhaps it’s time to revise your hard determinist stance in to a more Caruso-ian Hard Incompatabalism?


      • Posted June 12, 2020 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I read it and it certainly makes no convincing case for free will. (Let me emphasize that I’ve never been a “hard determinist” in the sense that I think that everything could have been predicted at the Big Bang with perfect knowledge. I’ve published several times that quantum effects may make even evolution not predictable if they play a role in mutation.)

        But Ellis makes NO case for libertarian free will at all; his “top down” influences are of course ultimately based on the laws of physics. Perhaps it’s time that you reread his essay and let me know where the libertarian free will comes in.

        Frankly, I’m surprised that so many people have fallen for Ellis’s gimmick, thinking that he somehow makes any kind of case for contracausal free will. He does not–not even close.

        • Posted June 13, 2020 at 5:05 am | Permalink

          George Ellis is a rather rare beast these days, a prominent physicist who is religious. That explains his fudging about “free will”.

  9. Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Here’s your slogan:

    “Vote or I will withhold food from these ducks … for a day.”

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      “Vote or the duck gets it.”

      • Posted June 12, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        No, our host would never harm a duck on purpose. It just wouldn’t be believable. I did love National Lampoon’s famous dog cover. Thinking about it brought a smile to my face during my college years.

      • Posted June 12, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Those of a certain age will get this one:
        Vote or I will shoot this dog.

        Of course that will not go down well these days!

  10. Posted June 12, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know why anyone is getting so negative about this meme. In my mind, not voting does equal (lead to) violence. Example? I just got email from NBC News. Trump has signed something again “to curtail health protections for transgender people.” So in one swoop of a pen, an entire group of people are now non-persons. That’s violence. This meme is appropriate. People had better understand how appropriate it is before their own group is erased with another nuclear strike.

    • Posted June 12, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Re-electing Trump may well lead to violence but I don’t think that’s the point being made by this meme.

      • Posted June 12, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        Memes are what the reader interprets. It’s how I interpret it.

  11. Posted June 12, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant, especially when explained. And those who do not get the meme really have not followed the damage the woke movement does when its intention is theoretically meant to be for the greater good.

  12. ritaprangle
    Posted June 12, 2020 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I thought it was funny and posted on Facebook. Got Likes immediately!

  13. Posted June 12, 2020 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Maybe tRump’s yahoos will take it literally and not vote.

    • KenS
      Posted June 12, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      For tRump’s supporters, we need a meme that says, “Not voting = Owning the libtards!” That might keep a few home on Election Day.

      • drosophilist
        Posted June 13, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        It reminds me of Bill Maher’s New Rule before the 2016 election: “We need to spread the rumor among conservatives that Hillary and the UN have conspired secretly to lace the air at polling stations with a chemical that makes you gay.”
        Too bad we didn’t listen to him!

    • sugould
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      If Donnie keeps up with his scheduled rallies, and (of course) the legal waiver you must sign to be allowed in, I will bet that a substantial number of followers will be too sick to vote by election day.

      And we know how he feels about mail in ballots!

  14. revelator60
    Posted June 13, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Love it. This is the ultimate riposte to the “everything I don’t like is violence” sophists. The wonderful thing is that one can actually make a better case for this meme being true than usual “X is violence” malarkey. A reelected Trump would certainly unleash or allow more violence in this country though his malevolence and incompetence. Anything that shames people into voting is good.

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