Enjoy Being Human

Danielle LaVaque-Manty

Unit of Rhetorical Corrections Staff Orientation

Congratulations on your new position with the Unit of Rhetorical Corrections (RC). Our agents fit a rare psychological profile: highly successful social manipulators with a strong social conscience and a strict superego. We are sorry to say this means you will suffer at your work. Life would be easier for all of us if we could simply hire sociopaths, but while they can generally be counted on to use effective rhetorical means, we could not be sure they would apply them to appropriately patriotic ends. We are sure you see the irony.

As an RC agent, your task will be to protect the viability and credibility of governmental policies and actions at all times and under all conditions. To accomplish this, you will undermine and silence critics of those policies and actions, whether those critics are domestic or foreign, of upright or questionable character. A substantial number of your targets will be well-intentioned citizens exercising their right to free speech in the hope of making the world a better place. The recent "Mothers Against Thermovolt" campaign, for example—we were sorry to have to quash that, but the occasional childhood mutation is a small price to pay for the energy Thermovolt supplies nationwide.

In addition to the usual social media tools available to civilian Internet critics, you will be provided with an infinite supply of digital avatars that will retweet and otherwise echo your thoughts online. Don't berate yourself too much if the thought of wielding this much social influence causes you a minor thrill. In fact, if you find it entirely depressing, we encourage you to consult the Unit of Psychological Corrections (PC) for evaluation as a suicide risk and provision of pharmaceutical tools for self-care. It would have been better for all of us if you had not accepted this job, but it's too late now.

You are encouraged to collaborate with the Unit of Visual Corrections (VC), which will provide holograms when filming crowds of angry supporters is desirable. VC can also help you generate embarrassing caricatures of governmental opponents for distribution via the editorial cartoon departments of major "news" outlets.

Gauge your audience carefully. We have found that new RC agents occasionally hold back when it comes to mudslinging, slurs, and character defamation, preferring to rely on reason or subtle forms of sophistry when an increasing portion of our electorate is more easily mobilized by overt sadism and vulgarity. Slogans including violent puns and references to weaponry ("Hack Jack, mace his face, his stupid tax is a big disgrace") are surprisingly effective with this contingent.

From time to time, our agents fall prey to counter-critics who apply great energy to undermining an RC message. Fear not: you work for the Unit of Rhetorical Corrections. Counter-critics will be silenced—one way or another.

We hope your first day goes smoothly. We're glad to have you on our side.

About Danielle LaVaque-Manty

Contributor headshot, Danielle LaVaque-Manty

Danielle LaVaque-Manty is a freelance editor living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Sou'wester, The Pinch, New Delta Review, and Monkeybicycle, among other journals. Find more of her work online at daniellelavaquemanty.com.

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