Saturday, March 2, 2013

Moral Condemnation: Judged Guilty Without a Trial

Some people are well intention-ed but misguided. Others are deeply concerning. Operating under the guise of morality, they would force their views, beliefs and expectations onto others. To some extent, megalomaniacs and dictators start out with such beliefs that their actions are just and for the good of everyone. Sadly, jack boots marching to kick down the door and coke bottle enemas frequently follow for those they believe have violated their rules. It's a fine line between villain and champion.

That said, I want to talk about an article that makes me wonder if some people even remotely understand human nature. Suzanne Davenport wrote an article in the NewsTimes about gawkers that visit Sandy Hook.  I'm sure I will stand alone in this matter as others will disagree vehemently with me. Furthermore, it's likely I will be cast as a despicable person. So be it. Suzanne Davenport uses morality to judge others who may or may not be "gawking" as she calls it. While I agree that the majority of people probably are gawking due to curiosity, condemning them is of little value. It won't change the habit. But my real problem with her article is that she leaves no room to recognize some people use what seem like counter-intuitive ways to understand things they can't put into perspective or come to terms with. Sadly, Suzanne Davenport has opted to serve as judge, jury and executioner in deciding there is only one reason - a vile, morbid curiosity.

I would have let this all go but one single line from Suzanne Davenport's article made me take action and write. Here's her quote:

"Who did this woman think she was to intentionally put into her GPS the address of one of those families so she could drive to his neighborhood?"

Who did the supposed "gawker" think she was? An independent person with free will acting within her constitutional right that's who. As individuals, we can not control the right of others to access a public place regardless of whether or not we think they are being a snoop, a gawker or a butt-head. End of story. Suzanne Davenport might very well be a decent human being. But unlike Suzanne Davenport with her unconditional classification of people as gawkers, I don't know enough about another person to say one way or another what their true motivations are. In the case of Suzanne Davenport, her feelings are something I can understand because the desire for privacy is normal so it actually troubled me to write this. I also dislike it when people gawk or take pictures of tragic situations. It is rude and uncaring. But ultimately its something people do. What it comes down to is Suzanne Davenport's methods overreaching with her becoming the hand-grenade personality type who will blow up at people to drive them away through nastiness. I dislike gawking (which is the action) as it removes a sense of dignity from someone who is in distress and makes them a public spectacle. But I also dislike hand-grenade personality tactics. I had to speak up even if I am misunderstood. The fact is, trying to force others to fall in line with our personal beliefs makes us the villain. Dictators in training. Only the lack of power prevents people from practicing scorched earth policies to enforce their beliefs of, "Who does this woman think she was to do [fill in the moral objection]?"

To provide some background about why I'm sensitive to this issue, it might help to understand that I've been accused of vile behavior not so far detached from this. About five years ago while my mother was in the hospital suffering from a stroke, I was on the receiving end of a belittling lecture. One of my brothers and I had brought my Mom to the hospital after she started exhibiting disconnected behavior. We knew something was terribly wrong. We also knew there was a possibility she might die. We felt the stress. But in our own way, we tried to deal with it by making jokes and laughing to release pressure as we waited.

At the end of the first day of this ordeal, we were standing around joking when a doctor pulled us aside. He gave us a stern lecture that started out with, "I don't think you understand the gravity of this situation." He then proceeded to explain to the two of us (rude boys) how it was unlikely our mother would survive. Out of courtesy, I didn't get into this guys face although I wanted to. What we did do was explain we have our own way of handling stress. My brother and I both understood our actions were our way of relieving tension, the doctor did not. He judged us unfairly.  But that is irrelevant. He is free to think as he sees fit. Fundamentally, I view Suzanne Davenport as the counter-part to the doctor, unable to understand that people have different ways of handling stress.

I'm afraid Suzanne Davenport, that you will be subjected to many more fits of anger before life is over. People are curious about tragedy. Humans are frequently rude and won't play by your rules. People sometimes do things like take photos of accident victims and then publish their content on the Internet, excited that they have something morbid to share. This is life. I don't like it, I have to live with it.

And before anyone accuses me of being uncaring, I stopped visiting Facebook because of similar acts that I considered atrocious. A person from my circle of acquaintances had published a fight video that appeared in the news feed they share with everyone. The person on Facebook who posted this then proceed to talk up the video in how they were proud to be the same gender and race as the "supposed" victor. The people commenting joined in and talked about one of the people in the video in a racist way (argue the point, but when you call someone "that white woman", it is racist just as much as any other usage. Did I like the video or the comments? No, I too, had a fit of anger. Could I do anything about it? Other than try to be manipulative, there as little I could probably do other than explode like Suzanne Davenport did. So to some extent, I am being hypocritical. I know that but the key difference between Suzanne Davenport and myself is that I ultimately acknowledged the core issue is mine, not someone else's. Like Suzanne Davenport, I can't make the perpetrator(s) stop. Sure, I can tell them I don't like what they did or are doing, but that's the extent of my power. They will neither listen nor care because to them, they're actions are clearly acceptable. My moral are not their morals. I wonder if Suzanne Davenport could fathom the difference?

So while my posting this rant is hypocritical, that too, is part of life. Our beliefs and actions sometimes contradict. And I also understand it is me, not Suzanne Davenport who is responsible for my anger. External force(s) act as a stimuli (or stimulus) that I can choose to react to in different ways. That is where my choice exists.