The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Back-Pedallling As A Social Tool

There have been two prominent incidents lately where I have gotten annoyed (he says as thought that were a rare thing). Both of these involved back-pedalling in that the main characters in the stories tried to make the public believe that the offenses they commited were less than egregious.

The first instance was a 25 year old woman who was verbally assaulting an older bus driver. You may have seen this video (warning: violent) where the driver obviously has had enough after the female passenger touches him in some unwanted way and he shuffles over to her saying, "Oh you going to jail now!" and then winds up in a comically exaggerated way as though he was in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and hits her with an uppercut of epic proportions. He then throws her off the bus.

Should he have hit her? Obviously, no. She later claimed in an interview, when asked about whether she hit the driver and what her role was in the incident, that she has a lawyer and the she could not comment. She also said that it was, "amazing to see that a man would actually hit a woman that hard..." Again, what the driver did was wrong and he should be disciplined accordingly, but I have to point out that when you are dealing with variables like the other people in your daily life, you have no idea what sort of people they are. You don't know how close they are to their breaking point, what sort of fighting experience they have, or what sort of moral compass they possess. There are, sadly, quite a few guys out there who won't hesitate to throw a bomb at anyone who crosses their imaginary line of offense.

Having no awareness of this is part of the reason that this woman got assaulted. When you are used to acting in the manner she does in the bus video and not getting called out for being overly aggressive, you get complacent about throwing attitude at strangers. That is a dangerous situation waiting to happen.

The difference between the woman in the bus video and the woman in the news interview is striking, however, and that is my point. The attempt to come across as the sympathetic sole victim is just not tenable, in my opinion. It's obvious back-pedalling with near blindness to the fact that anyone interested can watch the incident on video from at least two angles.

The second incident is related to the sad story of Amanda Todd, the teenager from British Colombia who killed herself recently after years of bullying abuse. On one of the memorial pages dedicated to Todd, a man named Justin Hutchings wrote, "Thank God this bitch is dead.", which was then seen by a mother reading the tributes. She thought that the comment was extraordinarily callous, so she found out where the man worked through his Facebook page and contacted the employer to inform them. He was then fired.

Hutchings is claiming that he was doing a, "social experiment" and that he wanted to "stir the pot". Now that he has been outed, his response has become the much more soft-sounding, “I’m sorry if I offended anybody and that it wasn’t portrayed in the way it was supposed to be.” I'm not exactly sure how, "Thank God this bitch is dead" is supposed to be portrayed or how it was possibly taken out of context, but I'd love to hear an explanation. Thankfully, here it is:
“It was more or less a social experiment than anything. Just to see if I could put the most blasphemous thing on there...I did this because if there was so much caring and so much emphasis on the fact that people actually care now that she’s dead, then how come society didn’t step in when she was alive?”
This is a common complaint - that there is so much attention paid to her now, what happened when she was alive?

The answer is that the thousands of people from all over the world who are upset about this terrible situation did not know her or her circumstances until the tragedy. Todd undoubtedly had people in her life who tried their best to help her, but until word of the terrible ending went out in the news, no one could care because they were unaware. It's not a good argument to trot out and is insulting to the people in Todd's life who actually were there and tried.

"Hutchings said he has been forced to deal with the consequences of expressing his opinion about Todd’s death by closing his Facebook account. Aw. Boo hoo. Poor little lamb. If only more people cared. Perhaps someone should design a social experiment....

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