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Hell Gate’s Guide to Safe Thanksgiving Conversation Topics

Try these on for size for a peaceful holiday meal.

2:22 PM EST on November 22, 2023

Beautiful grandmother carrying turkey for family on thanksgiving dinner....and possibly discussing these topics.

The turkey looks great, but what are you going to talk about? (Shutterstock)

Now—perhaps more than ever—the holiday season is a flashpoint for challenging political discussions. As families gather together to break bread and make merry, it can be tough to steer conversation away from topics that change the mood from festive and seasonal to tense and oppositional. Wars in Gaza and Ukraine, the 2024 election cycle, immigration, income inequality, the housing crisis—talk about a minefield! If you're feeling apprehensive about the prospect of another post-turkey "debate" with your loudest uncle or most active-on-Reddit cousin, don't worry: Hell Gate has your back with a list of topics that are totally, one hundred percent guaranteed to go over easy when you bring them up at the dinner table. 

Of course, you don't need to bring up every single thing we're suggesting—but it could be smart to keep a tab with this article open on your phone so you always have something else to bring up if dinner table talk starts veering into dicey territory. Trust us: Your family will definitely want to gab about all of this stuff. They will not be annoyed or think that you're up your own ass about living in New York City. In fact, you should probably let them know that if they're interested in the things you're bringing up, they should subscribe to Hell Gate

OK, on to the prompts:

  1. Do you agree with federal prosecutors who want to take control of Rikers Island away from the Adams administration after a federal monitor said the situation is so chaotic and mismanaged that it's impossible to know how dangerous and unconstitutional things have gotten?
  2. Would you bring a gun to a protest if you knew, because of your position on the City Council, that you could get away with it?
  3. Would you rather cut City funding for preschools, libraries, or the NYPD?
  4. Do you think restaurant industry workers deserve to unionize?
  5. If you were going to misappropriate campaign funds, what would you spend them on?
  6. Would you rather live in a city with a functioning restaurant scene and COVID-safe dining options or more street parking?
  7. What time is it?
  8. What do you think the NYPD is going to talk about when they further encrypt their radio communications?
  9. What's your favorite way to flagrantly violate traffic laws sans consequence in New York City?
  10. If you had an active text relationship with Eric Adams, how worried would you be that federal investigators seized his phones and an iPad?
  11. Do you think Fran Leibowitz is funny? Fran Leibowitz? She's a… she's a comedian, I think? 
  12. What's your favorite war-induced small business freakout?
  13. What would you film in an NYPD precinct?
  14. Do you think the cops who killed Kawaski Trawick in his home will face any meaningful consequences whatsoever?
  15. Would you date an owl? An actual owl—but he's like, really cool. A special owl.
  16. Who do you think shot the Moynihan train station skylight with a BB gun?
  17. Have you read Julia Fox's book yet? Yeah. Julia Fox. She's an actress. Dated Kanye? "Uncut Gems?"
  18. What's the first game you'd play in Steve Cohen's fantasy casino?
  19. Have you ever participated in a doxxing campaign?
  20. What's your favorite piece of NYPD surveillance technology?
  21. And finally: Want to go on a walk and smoke some dysfunctionally rolled out legal weed with me before dinner?

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