24
Feb
10

On Violence

And the Lord God spake “Thine enemies are but cattle, slaughter them as such.” Well, ok, so maybe that’s not overtly in any text I know of, but it could be. In both the recent discussion I had and in the latest animal “rights” terrorist activity, I discovered an amazing convergence between terrorism, violence, vengeance, racism, sexism, etc. This is a convergence of tactics, but there are very similar words used. It is the tactic of dehumanizing the target of their aggression. I note the words “monster,” “sick bastards,” and “evil” appear with rather high frequencies on both of these. Also, most forms of hatred tend to revolve around a dehumanized character. Below are some examples.

In racism:

“Anyone in any major city that has an I.Q. of over 7 can see that blacks are animals nothing more, nothing less”

It can be seen in quotes used often by terrorists:

Surah 8:55 the worst of beasts in Allah’s sight are the ungrateful who will not believe

It can be seen indirectly:

Atheists don’t believe in God. By default they believe in evolution and life just being an ”accident.” So, since they are just basically the same as any other animal (by their own belief system) why should anyone take what they say seriously? Just throw them a banana and tell them be quiet.

Or directly:

Tiller got what he had coming, it’s just too bad somebody didn’t do it before he killed all those poor innocent babies. When there’s a rabid animal loose, you need to put him down and that’s just what Tiller was.

I propose that the reason for this dehumanization is that humans are actually intrinsically against violence against any person within their group and must, somehow, reduce a person to “outsider” status. He or she must be excluded from one’s own group. They must also reduce the intelligence of what the person is saying through these tactics in order to more easily ignore them. This is often done, both in argument (“you’re an idiot,” “no, you’re an idiot”) fashion, in prosecution (“he’s an idiot,” “yea, he is”), and in posse formation (“get the idiots!” “yea, let’s get them!”). I wonder if the drive to dehumanize one’s perceived enemies is something required or simply an effective tactic which is used in desperation.

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1 Response to “On Violence”


  1. February 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Dehumanizing the enemy is a principle practice in warfare. It is hard to kill someone you might admire, respect, or love. To teach violence toward the enemy, the enemy must be made deserving of death.

    I used the opposite practice when working in jail. By virtue of our situation the inmates to some degree considered me the enemy. I wore the badge. My greatest tool in that environment was my sense of humor. It is hard to attack someone who makes you laugh. The laughter is a bond, and it is not easy breaking such bonds.

    I consciously never dehumanized my charges. With the exception of half a dozen persons I have met over twenty years of service, my charges were not evil. They were always human in my eyes. Humans who lived sloppy, irresponsible lives, but humans. They were people dealing with a difficult situation.

    Why do such a thing? Because the attitude communicates. At any given time the situation could deteriorate, and that modest degree of respect could save my life. That is why.

    Also, because I recognized each of them as God’s creature. Flawed and broken, just like me, and given into my care. I was not charged with judging them, but taking care of them. That is why.

    I am a man of violence, tested and proven. Dehumanizing others puts them and me at risk. That is why I do not do so. Building humans rather than breaking them just seems better, to me.

    Mike


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