Please Advise! Is it OK to Yell at Trump’s Apparatchiks in Public?

Public shaming might not work, says Dr. Steve. But it sure feels good.

By Steve Burgess 11 Jul 2018 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Public shaming seems to be a thing these days. Various Trump functionaries are being shouted at while dining or even getting takeout, chased down the street and generally showered with abuse. Do you think this is justified? Is it wise or misguided?


Concerned Pedestrian

Dear CP,

Your correspondent has a confession to make. He was recently involved in just such a public shouting match himself, albeit with an individual considerably further down the ladder of power than a Stephen Miller or a Sarah Sanders.

It happened at Continental Coffee at Second Avenue and Commercial Drive. (Still accessible during road construction!)

A customer strolled in wearing a Trump/InfoWars shirt. It may have been the InfoWars part that pushed Dr. Steve over the edge — it is his considered medical opinion that Alex Jones requires emergency heart, lung and brain surgery, using the same sort of surgical tools currently being used to rip up First Avenue — or it may have been the Trump logo.

Either way, your good doctor immediately suggested that the gentleman take his sorry ass elsewhere. Others in the cafe seconded the opinion and soon the obnoxious dullard was beset on all sides. The Trump shirt model kept saying we couldn’t handle the truth and should check out some informative websites, etc. One staffer refused to serve him and, unlike the manager of The Teahouse in Stanley Park, she was not subsequently fired. A shame for her, really, as she would instantly have been declared Emperor of the Breakaway Republic of Commercial Drive.

But after a bit more shouting some of us shouters looked at each other and shrugged. There just wasn’t much point. If it’s all about drawing a reaction, there's not a whole lot of good in yelling. It’s mud wrestling with a pig.

The public shaming of Trump officials is different though. These are not just sad-ass morons looking to start fights — they are people with power, doing the bidding of the Moron-in-Chief. And they have recently been served with hearty helpings of spittle in American eating establishments. Sarah Sanders departing the Red Hen without a doggie bag, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen discovering that Mexican food was not invented by the Confederacy, Steve Bannon in a book store getting trashed like a new Dan Brown novel, Senator Mitch McConnell being pursued through a parking lot and displaying unusual speed for his species, and then-EPA head Scott Pruitt confronted by a young mother and child possibly while making plans to fill the Grand Canyon with Styrofoam peanuts just to trigger the libs. (Happily, Pruitt is now gone and there is a new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, someone who will no doubt eliminate graft and corruption from the ongoing rape of the environment.)

And then there was professional child kidnapper Stephen Miller, recently set upon by an employee after grabbing $80 worth of takeout sushi. Angered, Miller threw the sushi away.

This is a disturbing story — you have to question how we are ever going to develop a sustainable fishery if people keep making Stephen Miller angry. Soon the ocean's bounty will be spread out over our sidewalks and gutters. On the other hand, it opens up the tantalizing possibility that with enough concerted effort we could starve Miller to death.

This is the dilemma. Do such public shamings accomplish anything? Or do they merely provide ammunition to Trump propagandists who point out, rightly, that similar public attacks on Obama administration figures would have been greeted with horror by Democrats?

And yet, just how much licence should public officials receive? Clearly there is a continuum here — this is not just a dispute over farm policy. The recent incidents have all come in the wake of the official snatching and imprisonment of children, a practice that has pushed many Americans over the edge into incivility. Emily Post never did write any rules for this situation. Which fork do you use to stab someone who is putting children in cages?

The question comes down to how one should best direct their efforts. Lashing out at Trump stooges ultimately helps the targets more than hurts them. It only gives Tucker Carlson another opportunity to soak his bow tie in salty tears over the injustice of it all. One is perhaps better off taking that Michelle Obama high road while working tirelessly to rob these swine of political power via the ballot.

And yet, if you were to find yourself with a genuine opportunity to make Stephen Miller throw away his expensive takeout meal... well, Dr. Steve could never judge you for seizing that once-in-a-lifetime chance. Maybe you'll even get some slightly distressed sushi out of it.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Get The Tyee in your inbox

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Do not:

  •  Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully, threaten, name-call or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, downvote, or flag suspect activity
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls and flag violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Stay on topic
  • Connect with each other


The Barometer

What do you think? Time to fully extend the subway to UBC?

Take this week's poll