Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Rules and Sociopaths

There are any number of people who are in the police – or who think that they are in the police – who justify their nasty treatment of people with whom they deal by claiming that they are “sociopath” - cold, cruel monsters incapable of compassion and conscience.

There are any number of reasons why this is wrong.

First of all, not all rules are created equal. There are any number of rules out there that a conscientious person should legitimately revolt against. If your rule is that you should throw sulfuric acid into a face of a little girl for going to school – or if you should put a chair leg through your woman's eye for arguing with you – or if you should beat your daughter to death and throw her body to the dogs for getting raped – then a conscientious person would be against such a rule. For that matter the founders of America did not follow the rules of the British Empire either. That does not mean that America was founded by sociopaths.

Secondly, not everyone who revolts against wrongful rules is a sociopath. Certainly there are any number of bastards in the criminal element; but there are also any number of bastards in the legitimate world as well. A person who actually is cold and lacking in conscience would typically find ways to adapt in society. There are many scoundrels in politics, and there are many scoundrels in business. Neither politics nor business are illegitimate pursuits; but genuinely cold and manipulative people have a a way of doing well in both.

Then there is the issue of which rules are legitimate and which ones are illegitimate. I can see many reasons to follow a law that has been voted for by people's representatives. I see much fewer reasons to follow an unofficial rule. If people are told to live the same kind of life, have the same kind of relationships, and have the same personality, then that is incompatible with the concept of liberty. Indeed that is a way of creating an unofficial totalitarianism in countries that are intended to be free. Which means that it is not only the right, but I would say the duty, of anyone who holds liberty dear to not follow such an attempt at unofficial totalitarianism.

Indeed, the concept of a “dangerous individual” is absolutely incompatible with the concept of liberty. This is something that one would expect to see in the Soviet Union. I have heard it stated that the people whom everyone else sees as dangerous are people who are misguidedly idealistic. This idea has not been lost on anyone involved in the social debate, including conservatives. I have heard it said in a Virginia church that “we should be dangerous people for God.”

There was a person on the Internet who kept accusing me of being a sociopath. Then he told a 15-year-old girl that she was mentally defective. I would never dream of saying such a thing to a child. Whatever cruelty and coldness he was accusing me of, he practiced to a far greater degree. I do not know whether or not that person was a sociopath; but I know for certain that I am not one.

In case of people who actually are sociopaths, they appear to have a disconnect between two centers of the brain. If someone is a jerk by nature, he is less of a jerk than someone who choose to be a jerk. And this is what we see in people such as the preceding.

Now there can be any number of reasons why someone would agree – or disagree – with whatever the climate of the place and the time happens to be. Many of the reasons for disagreeing with them are legitimate. If you live in Afghanistan, you should disagree with the practices of the Taliban. If you lived under Nazi Germany or Stalinism, you should have disagreed with them as well. This is in no way limited to these extreme examples.

I have known genuinely kind, compassionate people being branded as sociopaths or psychopaths or narcissists. I have also known absolute scoundrels who rose to high respect in society. What you are as a person has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you accept or do not accept your surrounding way of life. We will see good people who accept, and we will see good people who do not accept. We will see bad people who accept, and we will see bad people who do not accept.

A related claim that I've seen especially in Generation X is that the baby boomers destroyed the society. My response is as follows. Societies change all the time, in all sorts of directions, and for all sorts of reasons. The Victorian society was different from 1920s society, which was different from 1950s society, which was different from 1980s society, which was different from 1990s society, which was different from the society of the last two decades. Maybe the 1950s people thought that their way was going to last forever. They were wrong. No way lasts forever; the world changes all the time for all sorts of reasons. That has always been the case. That always will be the case.

What you are as a person has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not you follow the rules of your place and time. What you are as a person is about what you do for the world. I do not deserve to be called a sociopath, and neither does the person who objects to the Taliban or the person who objects to Third Wave feminism. Some rules are right, and some rules are wrong. It becomes the duty of anyone with conscience to figure out which ones are right and which ones are wrong – and to follow the first while objecting to the second.


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