Saturday, October 27, 2012


Here's an interesting piece on Cracked by David Wong 5 Reasons Humanity Desperately Wants Monsters to be Real. It goes into the psychology and evolutionary history and why humans are so inclined to demonize out-groups.

What's funny is when the David Wong's own bias gets through.  Naturally, he talks about how when someone disagrees with you they might not be a monster, but the inclination is there  especially if you dehumanize others to justify your own misdeeds.

 Naturally his examples lean a certain way. For example  unpack this conclusion:
So no matter how many times you vote to cut food stamps and then use the money to buy a boat, you could still be way worse. You could, after all, be one of those raping/murdering/lazy/ignorant/greedy/oppressive monsters that you know the world is full of and that only your awesome moral code prevents you from turning into at any moment.
It's fascinating in a piece about dehumanizing those that disagree with you to give yourself moral comfort, the author...  does exactly that.  It's actually very human.  I can give a little slack as it would be hard for him to write an example such as above without some bias.

However, earlier in the article, he has a section where he talks about vigilante fantasies and why they are so satisfying, even to himself. And then he puts up a picture of George Zimmerman.

Nevermind that Zimmerman was injured, attacked first, was defending himself, and that much of what Tayvon Martin's family  "has said in public have turned out to be outright fabrications."   Hell just look at the deliberate use of photos of Martin that are years out of date.

In an article talking about the need for humans to to have monsters, David Wong makes his own monster.  In an article about how people will rush do dehumanize others without having all the facts  David Wong does just that.

Hats off Wong.  Excellent example of man's need to create monsters.

What's funny is that there are monsters.  Or is someone who goes about raping/murdering NOT a monster?

Aren't good and sensible people all about rape never being justified? Isn't that why the Dem's "War on Women" resonates?  They point out examples of people that try to justify/excuse/contextualize rape because it is considered repugnant (and then they conflate it with #MoreFreeStuff).

You can have a point on your list that says "We All Have at Least One Category of People We Think of as Monsters"  and nod sagely on the wages of hate and dehumanizing, but the contra is... what?   To have no behavior  no action that is considered monstrous?  

I'd give Wong credit for acknowledging that he is not immune to this behavior.  He repeatedly talks about this being a universal human trait and gives his own examples, both knowingly and, as we see above, unknowingly    But the title of his piece betrays that he doesn't think monsters are real.

The thing is there are monsters (hah note how the "At Least One Category"  point is such an insulation from this line of thinking).  Or there are at least are people that will do monstrous things to other human beings.

Rape and murder for example. You can even point to people that do monstrous thing and without any "justifiable" (whatever that means)  reasons.  Is the alternative to say that all people would be rapists?   That we are all monsters,  we just don't have the opportunity?

Just look through Weerd's Gun Death files or  Jay G's  Dead Goblin Count  And yes, by calling them Goblins Jay G is deliberately dehumanizing the attackers.

Or if those examples are a bit too pedestrian how about this list of The 7 Creepiest Serial Killers In American History.  Or maybe Cracked's own lists such as 6 Real Murders who Put Horror Movie Villains to Shame  or  The 5 Creepiest Stories in the History of War.

Here's the thing David Wong forgets (in addition to his own making of monsters).  Yes there was a psychological and evolutionary need for humans to develop behaviors that were designed at defeating predators, rivals, and attackers.

But predators, rivals, and attackers still exist. Sure, you can come up with  reasons why the rapist, the murderer, or person threatening to do the preceding to you if you don't give him your stuff is not a monster.  But that doesn't negate the fact that there are people who can and will do those things to you.

Saying there's no such thing as a monster is no comfort when faced with a person perfectly willing to act like one.

Of course, that there are monsters (or those that act monstrous)  does make dehumanizing those that disagree with you much. much easier. Just because you go around saying that some things are wolf-like does not mean that wolves don't exist.

No comments: