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Victimhood, Big Brother, and a slippery slope

by Lori Hoeck on June 2, 2010

BigBrotherRecently I mentioned a few gloom and doom articles on my family Facebook wall. I followed it all up with a rather negative assessment of the world situation.

In reply, one of my Facebook friends wrote in an exasperated tone:

“GOOD GRIEF.

“I feel like everyone is losing their minds, truly… What in the hell is everyone so scared of? [[[[FEAR, FEAR, FEAR, FEAR]]]] ……. :/ “

Here’s my reply:

“Awareness is not fear. Information is not fearful. An opinion is not fear-mongering. A book cannot create fear (so much so as to need banning). Fear is a choice, a response. Blaming others for [[[[FEAR, FEAR, FEAR, FEAR]]]] paints them into controllers of people’s emotional states and thus needing to be controlled for the welfare of all — never a good path to follow logically or socially.”

This back and forth reminded me of my earlier post on the boys in California who wore shirts with American Flags to school on Cinco de Mayo.

In both cases, one person or group is blamed for causing a negative emotional response in another person or group. By claiming the victim role and blaming others, we negate personal responsibility. When this happens, a power and control vacuum is created. Who will come in and save us? Who will make sure everyone plays nice? Who will make sure no feathers get ruffled?

This country was founded on several rights, one of which is free speech. It came with a citizenry who understood personal responsibility and could argue and debate with fervor. Writers of the freedoms deemed them important because up until that time in history, those in power controlled with a heavy hand and the arrogance of class superiority.

Once Americans had the right to speak their mind, specifically on politics and policies, power moved more into the hands of We The People. It was guarded for generations because citizens valued it enough to remain politically educated, alert, and self-controlled.

But now, it seems a talk radio host, a boy in a t-shirt, or a Tea Party sign carrier can threaten the stable fabric of our nation by inciting or causing others to act out.

If something I write or say has the power to control you, then two things — both destructive to a free society — must follow:

1) I will need to be controlled to prevent me from harming you.

2) You will need someone to watch over you because you can’t control yourself.

The result will be Big Brother “helping” us get along and a reduction in liberty.

Am I wrong?

————–

Lori Hoeck

Photo: surfstyle

{ 12 comments }

1 Wendi Kelly June 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Hi Lori,
You bring up a very interesting point. The freedom of expression is an American freedom that I very much would not like us to lose. And yet, in my optimistic nature, I very much can understand the thoughts behind a person wishing that we could all concentrate our focus on the more positive aspects of the world.

It is often said that where we concentrate our focus, there our future will go. AS a nation, I would very much desire our nation to stop the divisive bitter hatred toward one and other and concentrate on all the ways that we are alike and can start to mend our fences and get along. Am I a dreamer? You bet I am. I dream of a world at peace and one that thinks more of how we can love each other instead of hate each other.

That being said, ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds hatred and hatred breeds war. When we can look at both sides of a complicated issue calmly, without malice, take personal responsibility for our part of the conflict and move toward resolution fairly, then I think it is valuable to bring up issues and problems and to shine a bright light on them so we can clean them up quickly.

Evil will not survive in the Light. It can’t be done.

2 Vivienne Grainger June 2, 2010 at 2:26 pm

A slippery slope indeed. We know that the Romans dealt with this issue (”Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (But who will guard the guards themselves?, from Juvenal’s Satire VI), so it’s been around a while.
The best answer seems to be the one in use in the US – the guards are guarded by a well-thought-through overarching dedication to individual liberty.
Does it work well all the time? No. No human plan does, especially the ones designed to govern those sneaky little buggers known as “our fellow humans.”

3 Lori Hoeck June 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Hi Wendi,
Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I disagree on a few levels with this, though: ” ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds hatred and hatred breeds war.” First, I know some ignorant types who are blissfully happy to be who and what they are, plus they productively add to the nation and their communities. I also know it’s too easy to label anyone who has a single stupid or racist thought as ignorant and hateful. I’ve seen social justice types and academic elites who hate “ignorant” people more than any racist hates another race. Labeling someone fearful because you think their ignorance blinds them to “what’s really going on,” is another stereotyping that divides us. Again, I’ve seen elitist intellectuals trash non-intellectuals in horrific, condescending ways. I believe hatred comes the heart, not from ignorance or fear. Wars rarely come from decisions made by the “ignorant” class.

I agree we need to find what unites us instead of focusing on what divides us, but until the redneck, blue-collar-snob and the intellectual, highbrow snob find common ground (and every cultural division in-between), how can anyone expect this country to stop the divisive vitriol?

4 Lori Hoeck June 2, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Hi Vivienne,
Thank you for visiting and commenting.

I believe in the past this was true: “a well-thought-through overarching dedication to individual liberty,” but I’m wondering if people are losing touch with this.

5 Michael Ball June 3, 2010 at 8:36 am

Hi Lori,

This is a great piece. I love reading and debating things like this. My minor in college was sociology and that has remained a quiet passion of mine.

Many times, I’ve seen people fall into their fear because, through their own apathy and indifference, they’ve allowed things to grow more than they should have. By not caring much about something, they turn a blind eye to it and allow it to snowball until it gets out of hand. I also believe someone’s fear comes from their inability to defend their own opinions, rights and person.

Simply caring about things and standing up for you own opinions, rights and self can, many times, stop these things before they ever gain traction. We should also do the same for our loved ones which creates a network of caring and protection.

Another great piece, Lori. Keep at it.

Michael :-)

6 vered | blogger for hire June 3, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I agree about free speech. I worry about political correctness and about a litigious society that shuts people up.

7 Hilary June 4, 2010 at 6:53 am

Hi Lori .. you seem to have it absolutely right. People just believe – with no knowledge or expertise or understanding ..

I just thank my lucky stars that I am not controlled by others, and have enough gumph to deal with things and to look after myself ..

Unfortunately we have a nanny society .. and we’re all being brought down levels – heaven knows where it’s going to lead to .. and those who make decisions are not always doing the best thing for us anyway & need to be queried, but people from the other side of the argument – but who can argue and know the aspects of the subject …

Thanks for the points – it’s good to be reminded .. have a good weekend Hilary

8 zaelyna June 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

Diversity = the *only* way to survive and evolve into a better species. If we all shared the same ideas and opinions, there wouldn’t be that one person who has the solution to a difficult problem.

People need to understand that our opinions are different to ensure our survival. Respect each other and move on.

-steps down from the psychological soapbox- ;D

Going back to my journalism class, when we discussed free speech, we agreed as a class that Person A has the right to talk about whatever/whenever/wherever, but he also has to take responsibility for the consequences of that free speech. If what Person A says makes Person B angry enough to incite a physical conflict, A owns that consequence.

BUT at the same time, B must take *equal* responsibility. B has a right to dislike what Person A says as much as A has to say it, but B also has the freedom to walk away and ignore it. Freedom, tolerance, respect.

9 Lori Hoeck June 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

Hi Michael,
You are so right: “Simply caring about things and standing up for you own opinions, rights and self can, many times, stop these things before they ever gain traction.”

Hi Vered,
Great way to put it. Shutting people up or down is not part of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

Hi Hilary,
Nanny society and giving decisions-making to others is become to common-place for my comfort!

Hi Zaelyna,
There is the “fighting words” argument, but if someone is disagreeing about politics, I don’t think it applies. It galls me that if I disagree with a politician’s foolish fiscal policies, I can be labeled as one who hates and thus should be shut down.

10 zaelyna June 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Lori,
Totally didn’t mean that important discussions like politics should be shut down. Important topics should be discussed and argued at length, ideally resulting in the best course of action for a nation.

The *physical* rebuttals are what should be avoided, and *that’s* where personal responsibility comes into play.

11 Lori Hoeck June 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Hi Zaelyna,
Agreed.

12 Lori Hoeck June 12, 2010 at 11:25 am

Found this today and had to add it:

The populist authoritarianism that is the downside of political correctness means that anyone, sometimes it seems like everyone, can proclaim their grief and have it acknowledged. The victim culture, every sufferer grasping for their own Holocaust, ensures that anyone who feels offended can call for moderation, for dilution, and in the end, as is all too often the case, for censorship. And censorship, that by-product of fear – stemming as it does not from some positive agenda, but from the desire to escape our own terrors and superstitions by imposing them on others – must surely be resisted. ~Jonathon Green, “Did You Say ‘Offensive?’,” as posted on wordwizard.com

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