Monday, May 14, 2012

Bully


When I was a freshman in college, I was part of something that remains vivid in my memory. In particular, I remember the look on the face of one of the people involved: madness. Along with three or four others, he was tormenting another student on our floor, the only one in a single room, a loner, a little strange. Easy pickings. They were pounding on his door, screaming, and, insanely, lighting papers on fire and shoving them under the door. The victim, panicked, was leaning out his fourth-floor window, calling for help, banging a hockey-stick on the window below until it broke.

I was stunned: these were smart kids, privileged mostly, students at an ultra-elite East Coast college (I was their token West Coast heathen). It was Lord of the Flies in Pioneer Valley. As I ran down the hall, I saw that one kid, cackling, eyes blazing with something I'd never seen before, not in real life anyway, primal, like after a kill, a look I can still see in perfect detail. (Other than the victim, his is the only name I remember of those that were there.) Shouting stuff I don't remember, I pulled them one by one away from the door, and, after the others slunk away, convinced the kid to let me in, where I helped him calm down and clean up his room and the one below. That's when we became friends.

Turns out the mob's behavior would have been familiar to Mitt Romney, as we've all heard by now. I tend to forgive most kinds of adolescent stupidity, and I'd not generally argue that what people do in high school (college, too?) portends much about who'll they become. Pranks. Kids. All that.

But there is something about Mitt's behavior that concerns me: he claims not to remember. Attacking another kid, physically assaulting him, cutting his hair off: you'd think, whether or not it means he's evil incarnate (jury: out), that he'd remember something like that. Others who witnessed it say -- as is the case with me and my event -- they're still haunted by it. So when Rominee says it's simply slipped the surly bonds of his mind, I must conclude one of two things:

He's lying. That, of course, is his modus operandi, in virtually all matters. He's still at it, and always will be. In this case, it would be the least disturbing explanation. Because the other conclusion is that he really doesn't remember, which says something way worse. It says that the behavior was so commonplace, so not out of the ordinary for him, that it simply doesn't stand out. Attacking others, literally or figuratively, is just who he is.

To forget something like that he'd have to be entirely without conscience or empathy. He'd be the sort of person who feels no guilt in harming people, as long as it furthers the goal of his own self-interest. Among his life experiences, it simply doesn't rise to a level of remarkableness. Which perfectly describes his time as a businessman, and the way he ran his primary campaign, drowning his opponents in millions of dollars worth of attack ads.

It's what defines a sociopath. And the more I think about it, it's what seems to define Mitt Romney. Chilling. For once, he actually told the truth. (And if we should give him a pass for youthful indiscretion, his present reaction to it does say a lot about the man: it didn't even occur to him or the people who do his thinking for him to use the issue to address the matter of bullying. But I guess that's what liberals do.)



[Noted after I wrote the above, here's an opinion that goes with the lying explanation. Probably more likely, given who Romney is. And here's another take, more aligned with mine. Oh, and now another. (I often write this stuff days before I publish it. I don't claim unique insights: most of my thoughts are obvious enough that others have them, too. But I did write this before I saw the others. Like it matters, right?)]




10 comments:

Frank Drackman said...

Umm Sid, as my Older-than-her-Years youngest daughter would say,
DUH!!!!( I prefer the more expressionest "DOI-EEEEEE!!!!!!)
Kids do mean thangs, in fact, even a Secular Humanist like Moi'administered a beatdown to a kid at school.
Hey, She asked for it.
Get it? "She".
Cause I'll see your Romney giving some wimpering Hippy a trim, and raise you the Current Evolver in Chief (EICOTUS) pushing a girl to the ground, humiliating her, and totally making her cry.
I mean besides Hillary Clinton in 2008', some girl from his grade school days, when he still answered to "Barry" and looked like that one Black kid on "the Brady Bunch".
No, I can't cite a source, well actually I can.
Mrs. Drackman heard it on Sean Hannity's awful radio show.

Frank

Sid Schwab said...

ZZZZZZZT.

(the sound of a point being missed)

Frank Drackman said...

Speaking of Missed Points,
EICOTUS made Hilary Clinton cry, and only 4 yrs ago, not 50.
And Hilary is a GIRL, who's had a rough life, has Body-Image Iss-yews, and She's just bein set up as the Fall Guy when Israel Starts WWIII(I Hope!) later this fall.
Mark my Words, when My Hero Bibi-Net-in-Yahoo(Great Name)opens up a Can of Kosher-Wup-Ass on Ama-nid-ejad in October, Barry's gonna be sorry he made "Corretta" skin her knee back in 4th grade.
All kidding aside, the thought of Biden a hair-plant away from the nuke-ular button doesn't scare you??
Not even a little??

Frank

Sid Schwab said...

In Israel, it's pronounced Net-un-YOW.

Biden shoots off his mouth, not his trigger finger. He voted no on the bin Laden raid, as you know.

No, I think the idea of The Rominee's finger on that button might be even scarier than the idea of his hands around the throat of the economy. You know how bullies are, right? Insecure, afraid. Needing to show how tough they are.

His rhetoric on Iran, China, the Taliban is scarier than Palin's. She's stupider (I'm assuming), but she never had a chance.

The Rominee will do whatever it takes to make John Bolton think he's a tough guy.

Wild-Ivy said...

I agree. The "I don't recall" comment was so dismissive and instructive of his character. How do you NOT RECALL doing something so assaultive, even as a then culturally tolerated "prank"? Something along the lines of "I was a dick then, but I know better now..." would have seemed appropriate. But no, still a dick, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. S: Regarding your use of "sociopath" to describe Romney;it seemed a bit extreme, albeit he is a liar (I assume that is because he is a politician, not a sociopath). In the NY Times magazine yesterday there was a disturbing article on the manifestation of psychopathy in children as young as 5. The article (the link follows) used 'sociopath' and 'psychopath' interchangeably. Not sure if one incident of cruel or bad behavior meets the criteria.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/can-you-call-a-9-year-old-a-psychopath.html?_r=1&hpw
DD

Frank Drackman said...

@ Sid,
Your makin my point...
"He voted no on the Bid Laden raid"???
You know damn well ain't no way no Hah-vud Ed-ja-ma-cated Egg-Head's cares what some Pubic College Grad from Scranton thinks.
And "Doi-EEEYYYYY!!!!!" Biden was wrong, IIRC,
I mean even JIMMUH CARTUH would have gone after Bin Laden...
Thats a good one, Romney should use it...

Frank

Sid Schwab said...

I read that article, too, DD, and I was surprised to read that "psychopath" and "sociopath" are considered interchangeable. I associate the former with a higher degree of danger and psychosis, which is why I used the latter term (incorrectly, evidently) for The Rominee. I take the word to mean one who doesn't have empathy, who doesn't care about the consequences of his action to anyone but himself.

To the extent that Mitt resorts to lying in virtually every situation, that he's done many things that have had adverse consequences to countless people, and laughs it off, literally: to that extent I think the word is apt. But, yeah, sure, it's also a bit of hyperbole.

Still, a guy whose first instinct is to lie, who seems to have grown up knowing there'd be no consequences, is surely a somethingopath, whatever the precise word might be.

Sid Schwab said...

Now, you made me look it up, DD.

Here's a couple of links. Don't know what to make of it.

From some online school or other.

Another source.

Another (sort of the same).

Source material?.

Anonymous said...

Dr. S: I too thought sociopath was less severe of a condition (than psychopath) but your many sources indicate that the terms are not absolute synonyms.
PS: I saw your post on the Pittsburgh Post Gazette print gaff--it made me laugh, but I missed it in real time(since I no longer get that paper delivered)and check the on-line version sporadically).
DD

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