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6 Reasons Good People Turn Into Monsters

6 Reasons Good People Turn Into Monsters

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I want this phrase added to the American flag:

Hating a bad thing does not make you good.

Put it in place of some of the stars or something. It's important. It's one of those things everyone knows, right up until it's convenient to not know it. Hell, hating bad people doesn't even necessarily get you closer to being a better person. The Klan hates ISIS, but we don't count that as a point in their favor. Yet I'm pretty sure that most of what we consider being good in this culture is just having disdain for the right things.

What does this have to do with police shootings, Nazis, immigration, and most of the headlines you'll see this year? And how does it tie into the best Keanu Reeves action franchise? Well, it comes down to how ...

6
We Hate Giving People Second Chances

This subject will be about five outrages old by the time this article goes up, but as I type this, the Trump administration just ended a government program for children whose parents entered America illegally. "DACA" basically allowed these young people to get jobs, pay taxes, go to school, and get driver licenses despite not being citizens. Ending the program means destroying the lives of about 800,000 people for a crime their parents committed. As one Republican congressman put it, "justice" means these people deserve to "live in the shadows." After all, he said, they entered the country illegally. Not even years of productive, law-abiding living absolves them of that original sin.

Experts call it "John Wick morality" (or at least they should), named after the film series in which Keanu Reeves' dog is killed by Russian mobsters, and in response he shoots 738 of them in the head. You wouldn't think any real person considers that a reasonable moral code to live their life by, until you look at the comments under any article about a police shooting and see ...

YouTube

... or see entire comment sections full of people rooting for a guy who shot a car thief to death. The logic almost makes sense if you squint -- if the victim hadn't resisted (or suddenly moved their hands, or smoked weed, or failed to signal, or illegally crossed the border), they'd still be alive, therefore they have no one to blame but themselves.

That "no one to blame" phrasing is key. It implies that once someone breaks a rule, you can do whatever you want to them and you cannot be blamed. Listen for it, and you'll hear somebody using this reasoning once a day, even if it's just over stupid shit. Do you have some poor bastard in your social circle who's gotten stuck with a demeaning nickname based on something they did when they were 13? If you want a famous example, try to find a single discussion about Richard Gere, anywhere, that doesn't bring up the urban legend about him shoving a gerbil up his ass (a rumor that got started during the freaking Reagan administration).

Mireille Ampilhac/Wiki CommonsWhich means people had to devote actual conversation time to the possible contents of this man's asshole, rather than mere tweets.

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We need that one mortal sin which will let us revoke a person's status as a human worthy of dignity, respect, empathy or anything else. It's the proverbial John Wick's Dog, the moral trump card. We cannot be accused of prejudice or pettiness as long as we've got a bloody JWD carcass to jiggle in response to critics.

How does this apply to you, a good person fighting the good fight? I'm getting to that.

5
We Use "Justice" As Cover For All Manner Of Awfulness

"Hold on," says the hypothetical skeptical reader who's been following me from article to article for the last ten years, "you're using immigration hardliners and police shootings as an example of this shit in action? Those are just the result of racism, dude."

I don't think that's the complete truth. I think the reason so many racists could pass an "Are you a racist?" polygraph test is that they don't think minorities are inhuman due to their color, but rather their supposed criminality. The officer who shot Philando Castille as he sat in a car with his girlfriend and four-year-old daughter said that he thought he smelled marijuana. In his mind, this single hint of a single minor crime meant absolutely anything done in response was justified.

St. Anthony Police DepartmentA response which horrifically smelled of gunpowder.

That he would not have done this if the driver were a whimsical white stoner dude never occurs to him -- prejudice almost always hides behind a supposed zeal for justice. Internet hate mobs never flood a woman's inbox with death threats without a JWD to justify it. ("She wouldn't be getting these calls in the middle of the night if she hadn't made fun of us on Twitter!") And where a crime doesn't exist, we'll extrapolate one. "Of course I thought my family was in mortal danger when that Mexican man approached the car! After all, if a guy will cross the border illegally, he'll rape a woman. He's already proven he doesn't care about the law!"

It's an utterly insane double standard, of course -- our own mistakes are singular instances and in no way should affect others' overall opinion of us. ("Just because I lied doesn't make me a liar!") Yet it's so seductive that virtually every hateful asshole you've met in your life has built their fetid nightmare of a personality upon this very foundation. They all think their daily cruelty is in response to some extreme provocation.

pompi/PixabayAnd If you don't already feel like the victim of some perceived aggression, then don't worry: There's an entire industry dedicated to that.

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But this article isn't just about piling scorn on those people; virtually everyone reading this already thinks of them as monsters. My point is that none of them were born monsters, so we should be having the same conversation people do in the second act of every zombie movie. "How do we stop them and, more importantly, how do we keep ourselves from getting turned?" If cruelty wears justice as a disguise, then anyone who believes in justice is at risk. In fact, the more strongly you believe in justice, the more at risk you are.

Once, as a well-meaning child, I asked my Sunday School teacher how it was okay for God to send people to Hell for eternity based on fairly minor infractions, while if an earthly ruler punished rulebreakers with indefinite torture, they'd be considered cruel despots. The answer made sense to me at the time, and went like this:

Because God is infinitely righteous, He has infinite loathing for unrighteousness. His very purity is what makes any tolerance of impurity impossible.

Therefore, our modern pansy-ass attitude toward lawbreakers (insisting on reform and humane treatment) is actually evidence of our corruption. If we were more righteous, we would be more cruel toward the unrighteous. Therefore, not only is that cruelty justified, but it is in fact a key barometer of our own goodness. Petty meanness toward atheists and homosexuals is exactly what God wants. If you're reading this and sure that this kind of medieval thinking only applies to Christians ... well, keep reading.

4
We Start Hating People For All The Wrong Reasons

A critic of any female politician/pundit/activist can't resist pointing out how ugly/fat she is (if she's pretty, then the insult is that she's a slut or that she only got her position based on looks). Racists will start with high crime rates and unemployment, but will quickly move on to how rap music is shitty, how ghetto women wear trashy clothes, how blacks can't speak proper English. Never mind that it's impossible to justify music, fashion, and dialect as examples of moral failure. For some reason, it's not enough for their enemies to be merely wrong; they have to be disgusting on a visceral level.

siseeit/iStockFeel free to swap race with "People who like the wrong team / political party / brand of smartphone" if you need proof this is everywhere.

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It's crazy how those racists do that, isn't it? Those dirty, toothless, inbred hillbillies. They're almost as bad as the gamergaters. You know, those fat virgin neckbeards in their mothers' basements? They all probably voted for Trump -- that guy with the gross weird hair and fake tan and tiny hands. Disgusting, right?

"Well, but that's different! In those cases, the targets deserve it!" Oh, I get it. It feels great to poke our enemies in their sensitive spots. We know Trump is insecure about his hair, that Chris Christie is probably sensitive about being fat, that social outcasts are so ashamed of their virginity that some of them will blow their brains out rather than live with it. So why not use those weapons? This is total war, after all -- everything about the enemy is fair game. And remember, the more cruel we are to bad guys, the better we are as people. God himself said it.

But what about all of the good people out there with weird hair, those insecure guys shyly trying to hide bald spots? Or your allies who are unattractive, nervous, and unsuccessful at sex? How are they not supposed to take home the message that personal appearance apparently matters just as much as their moral choices, and that sexual failure is something to be deeply ashamed of? That it doesn't matter if you're one of the good guys if you also have poor grooming and social skills?

Well fuck, now look what's happened. We've not only justified cruelty toward our enemies based on their past sins, but justified cruelty to totally unrelated people. Just throwing out collateral damage like John Wick's stray bullets, mowing down passing tourists with gun-fu until the whole city is brought to a panicked standstill. We certainly don't stop to ask if the dog would even have wanted this.

Summit Entertainment"All I wanted was to sleep and eat cat poop. Killing more people than a natural disaster is a fitting tribute to that dream."


How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


by on Sep. 13, 2017 at 9:59 AM
Replies (31-34):
Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Sep. 15, 2017 at 3:58 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting survivorinohio:

The natural evolution is toward tighter and tighter criteria for what behavior gets you shunned from the group. The end result is that the central cause, the group's JWD, can be as pure as the driven snow, and yet the tone will get more and more toxic over time, the members becoming less and less charitable with each other.

Here, for example, is what my Twitter timeline looks like:

"Nazis are bad and must be opposed."

Agree!

"People who enable or defend Nazis must also be opposed."

Makes sense!

"Unlawful violence is perfectly acceptable when opposing Nazis and their enablers."

Wait, I'm not sure I'm on board with that ...

"Anyone who opposes the use of unlawful violence against Nazis is also a Nazi enabler."

What? No! I'm one of the good guys!

"Also, if you think about it, all American institutions and capitalism itself help support white supremacy, therefore all are Nazi enablers and eligible for violent retribution."

Hey, I think you just declared war on literally everyone who isn't currently in the room with you.

I love it.

A combination of purity, black-and-white binary thinking, and slippery slopes.

X is ultimately evil, therefore anything is justified in the cause of opposing X.


I guess this is why charismatic leaders of groups so often go out of their way to do over-the-top vilification of enemies.

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Sep. 15, 2017 at 4:02 AM
1 mom liked this

That wasn't my reading of the text.

I thought it was equally applicable to, for example, a green fanatic who won't talk to anyone who doesn't bicycle to work, and mentally excludes a larger and larger number of people from his circle of "those who truly care about the environment".

Quoting billsfan1104: I will have to disagree. I disagree because it's basically an article blaming republicans and Trump for things that go bad and only republicans do this and that. That's why most people won't make it through an entire article, not because they are stupid or ignorant, because they get tired of being pigeon-holed into a class or group of people that don't think like them, just because they are republican or voted for Trump.
Quoting handy0318:

Hands down, this is the best article I have read on CafeMom...

I wish it would become required reading in every sociology class in every high school. Maybe if the next generation could internalize this, the future could become just a bit brighter than it is right now.



EarlGrayHot
by on Sep. 15, 2017 at 9:50 AM

There are no words on the flag.  That's a crazy thing to suggest.  The flag is the SYMBOL of the good things our country stands for.  If people don't follow the good things it's NOT the flag's fault.

Sundance8
by Silver Member on Sep. 15, 2017 at 10:37 AM
Agreed. Extreme views and isolating oneself from mainstream sources of information can do a lot of damage, whether the focus is the alt left or alt right.

I've met obnoxious people who feel their way us the only way on both sides of the spectrum.

Quoting Clairwil:

That wasn't my reading of the text.

I thought it was equally applicable to, for example, a green fanatic who won't talk to anyone who doesn't bicycle to work, and mentally excludes a larger and larger number of people from his circle of "those who truly care about the environment".

Quoting billsfan1104: I will have to disagree.
I disagree because it's basically an article blaming republicans and Trump for things that go bad and only republicans do this and that.
That's why most people won't make it through an entire article, not because they are stupid or ignorant, because they get tired of being pigeon-holed into a class or group of people that don't think like them, just because they are republican or voted for Trump.


Quoting handy0318:

Hands down, this is the best article I have read on CafeMom...

I wish it would become required reading in every sociology class in every high school. Maybe if the next generation could internalize this, the future could become just a bit brighter than it is right now.

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