The Desire to Vilify

mrburnsI’ve always found this particular piece of human craziness to be puzzling but it happens over such a wide scope that it’s impossible not to pay attention to it.  Why do people try to vilify, to accuse those who don’t have bad habits or do wrong things, in order to somehow feel better about their own misdeeds?

Someone posted an innocuous thread in a forum asking how much people have lost gambling.  I don’t gamble, never have, so I answered $0.  I didn’t say another word, positive or negative, about it, but I have never lost, or won, a single penny gambling because I find the whole prospect pointless.  I have yet to pull the arm of a single slot machine.  I have yet to play a single hand of poker in a casino.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve been in a casino for about 2 decades.  I just don’t have an interest.

But almost immediately, I get attacked for it.  Someone comes back and says, have I invested in the stock market?  Have I done anything for which there was no guaranteed return?  If so, I’m guilty of gambling!  Muahahahaha!  Give me a break.  That’s like someone saying they’ve never driven a car, but if they’ve ridden a bicycle or a skateboard, it’s the same thing!  Gotcha!

This kind of thing happens all the time.  If someone gets wind that I don’t drink or smoke or do drugs, it’s like a game where they have to find some way to catch me doing something wrong, usually to make themselves feel better about what they’re doing.  Every time it comes up, no matter what the topic, someone is out to vilify me, and I’m sure lots of other people, because they cannot imagine that anyone ought to ever be in a position to comment on someone else’s addictions or habits.

It really does get laughable.  I’ve said I don’t drink alcohol, and I don’t, simply because I don’t care for it.  I don’t care if anyone else does, in moderation, but I haven’t had a drop in more than 25 years.  In fact, the last time I had a drink, I went out with a good friend of mine, Tony, to a bar not long after my 21st birthday and had a couple of beers.  I got in the car, went home and have never had another drink since.  I guess I realized that it was never something that I had really enjoyed, I had done it mostly socially before that, when there was that slight risk of getting caught doing it underage.  But thereafter, no thanks.

But you let that kind of thing drop in a conversation and watch people go to town.  No alcohol at all?  Nope.  None?  Nope?  No wine coolers?  Nope.  No cakes made with alcohol?  Not that I know of, no.  No beer-battered fish?  Not really my thing, so no.  And then they get really creative.  I’ve had people say that if I drink a soft drink with sugar in it, which typically I don’t because I’m diabetic, I’m just as “bad” as people who drink alcohol, as if my choice not to drink somehow is a personal affront and attack on people who do.

The same thing has happened when I’ve posted, both here and on forums, about not doing drugs.  Everyone rushes to find something that I’m doing “wrong” so they can use it against me.  It really does get absurd.  Oh no, I’ve taken over-the-counter medications, I’m just as “guilty” as those who are shooting up heroin!  And if they can’t find anything, no matter how hard they try, they then attack me for being “too good”, as though that’s a problem!

I really don’t understand people who think that the only way to justify their own actions are to find things about others they can criticize and when they can’t, they go on a witch hunt for anything that can possibly be used to throw others off the scent.  It’s all sleight-of-hand nonsense.  If I criticize you for doing drugs, trying to vilify me for doing something else, even something entirely innocuous, doesn’t change the fact that something you are doing is wrong.  Clearly, they think it’s wrong or it wouldn’t bother them.  People just don’t want to deal with things.

Want another example?  This is a classic.  We were having a discussion about religious deaths of the 20th century, those deaths that were directly and unambiguously caused by people specifically in the name of religion.   There was one girl who was desperate to foist Hitler on the atheists, she tried to argue that no matter what he said, no matter what he did, he couldn’t have really meant any of it because Christians just don’t act like that.  When we finally showed her all of his quotes where he claimed to be a Christian and where his actions were directly attributable to his religious beliefs, she signed, said fine, and then went “yeah, but Stalin is all yours!”  Whether he is or not is entirely irrelevant to the discussion under way.  It was just a maneuver to say “you’re no better than we are, so there!”  It’s utterly childish.  It’s like saying “I know you are but what am I?”  I’ll tell you what you are, you’re immature.

It really doesn’t matter what anyone else around you does or does not do, you are personally responsible for your own actions and when challenged on them, it rests solely on your shoulders to be able to defend your actions.  Pointing at others and going “they do it too!” or “they’re just as bad!” is irrational and irresponsible.  It’s just a way to shift the blame from yourself to someone else and sorry, nobody with half a logical brain in their head is going to give it any credibility.

Just be responsible for yourself and always be ready and willing to defend your actions, views and beliefs rationally and critically.  If you can’t, then maybe you need to be asking yourself if you should be doing it in the first place.

2 thoughts on “The Desire to Vilify”

  1. Psychologically speaking, it makes perfect sense, but only if you assume everyone ELSE doesn't do it.

    If everyone is entirely without vilification, then your vilification of others will draw their attention away from you. However, if more people than just you do it, they will recognise and ignore it, thus destroying its primary objective.

    1. The problem comes in when people are unable to defend their own actions and therefore have to try to tear down others in an attempt to show that they are no better than you, thus removing the need to defend the original act. I wholly reject that, it doesn't matter what anyone else does, your actions are your actions and therefore, they demand justification on their own merits.

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