Friday, July 19, 2013

More on cruelty

Keeping in line with yesterday's post, from The American Conservative, "The Walking Boy", a true story about one man's experience being a boy-racist because he hung out with racist friends and he couldn't help himself?:

All I can say in my defense is that I never hurled a stone at him, or shouted abuse. But I stood by, many a time, as others did those things, and I neither walked away nor averted my eyes. I never held anyone’s cloak, but then I was never asked to. I watched it all, gripping a rock in my hand as though I were preparing to use it — so that no one would turn on me with anger or contempt — and I always stood a little behind them so they couldn’t see that I wasn’t throwing anything. I was smaller and younger than the rest of them, and they were smaller and younger than him. In my memory he seems almost a full-grown man; I suppose he was eleven or twelve. 

We called him Nigger Jeff. I have never doubted that Jeff was indeed his name, though as I write this account I find myself asking, for the first time, how we could have known: I never heard any of the boys speak to him except in cries of hatred, and I never knew anyone else who knew him. It occurs to me now that, if his name was Jeff, there had to have been at least a brief moment of human contact and exchange — perhaps not even involving Jeff, perhaps one of the boys’ mothers talked to Jeff’s mother. But we grasp what’s available for support or stability. It’s bad to call a boy Nigger Jeff, but worse still to call him just Nigger. A name counts for something.
Sometimes I would be playing alone in my yard, and would look up to see Jeff walking by. My heart would then buck in my chest, but he never turned his head to acknowledge my presence. At the time I wondered if he knew that I never threw rocks at him, that I didn’t curse him — for, if my memory is not appeasing my conscience, I avoided that crime as well. But now I realize that he neither knew nor cared about the individual members of our cruel impromptu assembly: with rocks in our hands we were just mobile, noisy impediments to his enjoyment of some of the blessings of life — friendship, comfort, safety — but when unarmed and solitary we posed no threat and therefore, for Jeff, lacked significant substance. He kept his eyes on that day’s small but valued prize, and kept on walking. 

Why didn’t I throw rocks at him? Why didn’t I curse him? Well, obviously, because I felt sorry for him. But not sorry enough to walk away, or to turn my back on the scene; and not nearly sorry enough to stay a friend’s hand or demand his silence. I was young, and small, and timid. I saw one valid option: to stand as a member of the chorus, grasping the rock that was the badge of our common identity. There’s no point now in trying to distinguish myself from the others. But I can’t help it.

First, is it really true that "Nigger Jeff" is better than "nigger"? Arguably worse, right? Because it's both acknowledging his humanity (that he is a human boy with a name) and in the same breath saying that he is a lesser form of humanity. I myself prefer less personal, nameless insults, but maybe I'm not typical that way.

This sort of bullying is not unique to just children, but adults can be equally childish about it. Mainstream media trades in it, despite all of their recent anti bullying talk. One of my friends was recently remarking at how it's amazing that Lindsay Lohan has put up with all of the abuse -- for the past 10 years or so there have probably been no fewer than five negative articles/posts/tweets per day about her. And Lindsay Lohan is not even the most hated human alive, not by a landslide, but apparently she just happens to have a particular suite of personality characteristics that make her a perfect storm for gossip? Bullying, really. But let's argue for a second that she brought it on herself (should that matter?). But when do you finally leave someone alone? Does that give people moral carte blanche to engage in shaming and other ugly behavior about her personal life? But no one really questions their right to do so, I hadn't even noticed it myself until my friend mentioned it. And why are people so eager to engage in ugly behavior in the first place that they're looking for socially "legitimate" opportunities to throw stones?

The American Conservative story reminded of the creepy Shirley Jackson short (fictional but not so far-fetched) story, "The Lottery." Someone gets chosen completely randomly to get stoned, but that doesn't matter -- once the person became marked, everything was fair game because they had the sanction of the group.


  1. Replies
    1. Sceli, it is always nice to see you. How are you?

  2. There was a popular song from the decade of the 1960's called "The In
    Crowd." It was sung by a man named Dobie Gray.
    In the song he boasts about how he belongs to the "La creme de la crem"
    social set. Appearently, the "in crowd" can have everything. They are
    exclusive and can only look down on the commoners.
    There was a saying from the last century: "Everybody wants to get into
    the act!" Everybody wants to see themselves as unique and exclusive.
    Every claim is opposed by a counter claim. This is why there is so much
    voilence in the world. What was World War II except a conflict between
    "The Master Race" and the "Chosen People?" The Islamic religion-which sees itself as the FINAL revelation of God-will grudging permit the
    existance of Jews and Christians (As long as they know thier place) but
    by no means allow the existence of post Mohaddian faiths. The Bahi religion is as gentle and accepting a religion as can be-racial tolerance
    complete equality towards women etc... they are completely opressed by
    The one solution to this whole prediciment is to believe in the following
    two quotes: 1)"I am a citizen of the planet Earth." and 2) "The real
    chosen people can only can only encompass the entire world." Listen to
    "Imagine" by John Lennon.
    I would like to finish this posting by clearifying my viewpoints on
    Asperigers. Please correct my viewpoints if I'm wrong. I was under the
    impression that people suffering from Asperigers syndrome had difficulity
    interpeting social signals, i.e. the emotions coming from others. I never
    ment to say that Asperger people are bullies, killers, or overly
    agressive. I know they are extremely frustrated and angry people. They
    rarely act out but when the do-watch out! With all the suppressed fury
    they feel they can erupt with the force of a vulcano. The great
    intelligence of such people (Ennagram # 5's) ensures that they plan their
    vengence well. That's why the two mass murder events of recent years with
    this highest number of casuties, Virgina Tech and Sandy Point elementry
    school, were committed by people with aspergrs.
    To cut down on the frustration that Asperigers people feel, it would be
    necessasary to provide them with a consistant sexual outlet. I was kind
    of hoping the robotization would be advanced enough so we could have
    andriods almost like "the real thing" (As depected on T.V. shows like
    "The Twilight Zone") but didn't work out that way. Even regular white
    guys are finding it difficult to get girls so I can imagine what it must
    be like for Asper type men. Oh, well as the ancient Greeks used to say,
    "The door is open."

  3. the most frightening thing is that there's nothing behind the sociopath's mask

    1. And what makes you say that?
      Bad experience or were you just bucking to be a twitter star?

  4. I don't know how to address the points brought up in this post, as human nature is simply an incomprehensible mystery to me at best. It's terribly confusing, because while I perceive the cruelty for what it is, I'm always shocked to be judged as worse somehow, quite by accident!

    In short, I don't think I'll ever be 'bad' in the right sort of way, at the right time. Bullying of this sort bores me, I suppose because it seems petty and I'm not one to go along with the crowd out of fear. If I mean to bully someone, I'll be right out front doing it (and I'm likely to eschew backup from any comrades) and I'll be committed to it. If it's not my show, why bother?

    I have stuck up for people who were being bullied as well, I assure you. If things get too unseemly, or detract from what the purpose of the gathering is, I'll speak up. I used to help those being bullied because I thought they might appreciate me, even see a good side to me, I suppose. Unfortunately, in nearly every case, the 'rescued' one eventually comes to crave the approval of the group who was originally persecuting them, and any gratitude is quickly forgotten. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say.

    This reminds me of seeing a woman I used to pick on rather ruthlessly at school, years after we'd graduated. I'd been drinking, and felt a sudden impulse to apologize to her. She looked at me with utter loathing and coldly stated she didn't remember any of it. I went back to my drink and tried to puzzle it out, to no avail. It's not possible that what she said is true, so why not accept my apology? Or just tell me to piss off? You see what happens when I try to be good?

  5. Fred: Ha. she'd wanted to give you no purpose. She was devaluing both the events in school as well as your apology to nothingness. It didn't work. I would have done the same, however I'd have pretended well that I hadn't remembered you at all. I would have asked you for your name and introduced myself. I might have even gone so far as to ask you for your number and never called, My antisocial x may have done the same.

    It would have been a delicious. It would have been a (futile?, not sure, but worth the possibility of) gamblers effort to give you the gift of no meaning, no value, no satisfaction, no narcissistic supply whatsoever. I would have made you seem utterly invisible and neutered in the most naive and simple way. You'd have entertained me and perhaps made my day.

    1. Well, that's silly. It didn't work because I was merely being polite (alcohol makes me magnanimous that way sometimes). She was very unattractive still (and I prefer the company of men). I suppose I should have mentioned that.

      Yet another occasion when I was supposed to feel badly, I take it? :D

    2. Please prove you're not a robot.

    3. The vitriol (in her response and that of Anon) is mysterious to me. I was not brought up well (to say the least) so I'm essentially flying blind when it comes to doing the 'right thing,' in almost any human interaction. But I've followed the anti-bully campaigns that are so pervasive today, and I genuinely thought an apology was appropriate.

      I can't be expected to change the past, now can I?

    4. Yeah, she clearly wants your meat.

      She wants to tenderize your flesh and feast on your intestines.

    5. I am confused as to why you wanted to apologize to her.

    6. oh i just reread.

      it was appropriate. ok. No of course you aren't expected to change the past.
      there was no guilt, so why the apology? do people addicted to being mean go around making amends like the alcoholics do?

      I have vitriol for people who go around trying to act like they feel guilty. It's very see-through for me, very phony, very annoying.

    7. How are you feeling, Fred?

    8. Being polite is a very good trait.

      It is hard to do when you have vitriol. i like that word vitriol. i have VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVitriolE

    9. How do you know "there was no guilt" @ 10:39?

    10. shall we talk about guilt?

      according to some theories on narcissism there is a passing feeling of guilt, however it is not remorseful. It's a selfish kind guilt, I think.

      I know it because my parents and sibling say I'm sorry all the time. They have no recollection of having made you feel bad in the past, they don't remember. And when you point it out, they say or think you are sensitive and then explain themselves as if there is a valid reason like "I just tell you the truth. Am I supposed to edit myself, be your "yes man" . I just trying to help / have my opinion" They discount your FEELINGS.

      May I ask the sociopaths a question? ALso Machiavellian Empath? I under the impression that empaths (and idk maybe sociopaths) make a nice impression. They really do not obviously judge. They won't let on they criticize you in their head. They may explain to you your feelings but in a validating sort of way. It may be a selfish nonjudgment based on the fact they always would like you to feel good and accepted so they may use you or something else "selfish" but one walks away feeling good.

      Am I accurate or delusional Mach Empath? You have studied here a long time.

    11. There's the rub: I cannot put any "feeling" into my apology, because I don't feel much (if anything) at any given time. I can do a nice apology, I think, but I've a very hard time conveying deep remorse in a sufficiently convincing manner.

      Shame, really, because, from a purely mental standpoint, I AM sorry. I recognise that I was needlessly unkind.

      Oh well. She was never the most pleasant person anyhow.

      Anon 10:10, I try very hard to make a cultured and polite impression. I DO judge people, but not according to most conventional norms, I don't think. I like excellent manners, a pleasant appearance, and civility. If a person has these qualities, I'm generally happy to converse with them. Sexuality, race, social standing, political opinions, background, etc., take a very distant back seat.

    12. Fred what makes u angry besides rudeness?

    13. I understand this dull feeling inside when u feelnan apology is in order but u think it isvfor them not u. I thin the same thing goes for when a person says "apology accepted" but they know you are just being polite about apologizing. That is also feeling dull to me.

    14. @ 10:10
      re: judging.

      I judge. Just differently than I used to. Life has smacked me around enough to teach me that I am not the nicest, smartest, prettiest girl who DESERVES only good things. I have disappointed friends and I divorced the father of my four children. I am no angel and for that reason, understand that it is hypocritical of me to judge other people as "good" or "evil". We're all a mix and if we are still alive we are still in process.

      So how do I judge? I pay attention to people who are desperate to ascertain who is "in" and who is "out" and then contort themselves to align themselves with the current "it" person. Those people tend to make great small talk partners, but can be problematic if you reveal more than your feelings about the weather.

      Also- those who don't understand that everything changes, and that the person you are today has everything the choices you make NOW. It doesn't matter if you made the honor roll last semester and saved a box of drowning kittens last semester if you are coasting on that reputation to disguise the fact you are really insecure and manifest that insecurity by scapegoating someone who is not positioned socially in a manner to defend themselves against your attacks... those people? I judge. They suck.

    15. Thank you fred and mach empath.

  6. BUT ITS OK WHEN BLACKS DID IT and the black parthers to openly adovocate murdering whitw babies

  7. Shit happens.

    Niggers happen.

    It's life.

  8. She lost me when she included Israeli's as seductive people. I spent 6 months there, and can't imagine how anyone could find Israeli's to be particularly versed in the seductive arts. They might be the least seductive people I have ever lived with.


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