[Yes, that's a judgement. Anyone who does not see that response as reprehensible is ... well, reprehensible. Look the word up]
Most of those who have accepted the most likely situation have divided into two camps. We know these camps well; in our lives we've had hundreds of similar conversations about people, both personally known and in the celebrity spotlight. Is this person aware that they are totally full of shit, or do they actually believe their shit?
I think this says more about the person landing on one side or the other than it does about the subject. We know said person is absolutely full of shit; and we know that whether or not the person believes what they're shovelling or not, we're agreed that the shoveler needs to be told to put down the shovel and shove off. So why does it matter to us as individuals whether or not the shoveller is lying or deluded?
It matters because of how we see ourselves.
On the one hand, we think, "I would never lie like that to anyone; I'm a good person. Lying like that would be hurtful and abusive on levels I don't aspire to and would never consider. I would have to be a fucking villain before I let myself do something like that."
And on the other hand, "I'd have to be fucking nuts."
Some of us can imagine being self-aware and devious on this level. We've perhaps had moments when we realized we could seriously fuck someone over by saying the wrong thing or by giving away the secrets of others ... and we're concious of the decision NOT to act like a monster. So we presume that when we see a monster, it's someone who has decided to throw away the rule book and embrace the evil.
But some of us cannot imagine that. The tiniest tickling of the slightest possibility of having the vaguest notion of saying something cruel to someone has never entered their head, and when such things have been suggested to them their brain produces a null-program. They can't remotely imagine such a thing. When they see a monster, they don't see a human being moving the levers. They see a monster.
There's plenty of evidence ~ oh, about 150+ years of research ~ that shows neither of the above are the case. Sometimes the human inside the monster is pulling the levers and sometimes the human is fast asleep and the monster is rampaging at will. Sometimes it's a matter of pointing the monster at the problem and then turning off and letting the monster handle it. Yesterday, I had a long discussion about how to write a post about Mandy & Zak, decided I would write about the effects the MeToo movement has on invisible, hidden people ... and then the monster in me took over.
Then I reread what the monster had written about four times and decided to let it stand. On this occasion, I agreed with the monster.
We see ourselves do this all the time ... and we see others make excuses for us, we see others vindicate our monster's behaviour, we have still others rake us over the coals and settle into grudges that never cease. It is a factor of being human.
|A simple scientist goes about his business of bettering |
the plight of fellow human beings.
There's no debate in the damage that's done. That's settled. We're all in agreement. There is only so much meat to eat in saying, "Wow, he was bad; what a bad guy he was; can you believe he was that bad? I knew he was that bad; I should have known; I didn't know until I did; and can you believe others don't think he's bad?" The real gristle, the bits we can grind in our teeth for days, is the why. Why is he bad? Well, me, I think he's just a monster. No, no, I think he knows he's a monster. Look at this sentence; it proves he knew what he was doing; actually, I think that sentence proves he had no idea.
And on it goes.
This is human. It is a way we have of resolving the issue, of settling our minds about something that's upset us by making sense out of it. Of course, we'll never know the real answer. We could grab Zak and chain him down for decades and never get the real answer.
"Mr. Manson, why did you kill those nice people?"
There is no answer. There's just the bullshit we tell ourselves, as we settle into the question of whether we're running the asylum of our own brains, or if the asylum is running itself. When you shit, dear sir, how does it smell to you?
Zak isn't on trial here, dear reader. YOU are on trial. You and your beliefs, your decision-making process, your willingness to drink the potion and your tolerance of the Hyde that results. As you point the bony finger at the criminal in the dock, are you ready to accept that you're pointing at a mirror?
We know we've done at least a little of what he's done. All the people rushing about posting snippets of dialogue, celebrating his downfall with the same tactics and methods that Zak himself used to burn others who were posted to the pyre before it became his turn, all the commentors feasting on the bones and tearing through the gristle on Reddit, are just poor reflections of the criminal on trial. Must I paint the image of the French Revolutionaries cheering in the stands as the guillotine dropped and dropped? Is this post itself not just one more echo of those cheers, of Zak's cheers, of the cheers of every villain who has been executed in turn to the roaring crowds of the murderers who clap themselves on the back and say, "Job well done"?
So it goes. So it goes. Note that I've been careful to produce examples that predate the internet. Note that I haven't tried to blame any of this on our ability to "live in bubbles" or receive "confirmation bias." We, dear fellow humans, have always been like this; only we used to stand shoulder to shoulder as we laughed at the witches as they pleaded not to be burned, creating arguments with our words that they surely knew they were witches, they were only pretending not to be witches because they were obviously lying ... and pity in our minds as we thought, "The poor woman. She has no idea she's a witch." But no matter which, the wood still burns.
I don't ask you to stop what you're doing. I only ask that you stop pretending.