dude, not my fault

Years ago, before Academia and I decided we weren’t really compatible, I taught a variety of criminology and sociology courses — including courses on criminological theory. You know — what is crime, why do folks commit crime, how do we explain what’s going on? That sort of stuff. One of the theories I taught undergrads was Matza and Sykes’ theory of neutralization.

Matza and Sykes studied juvenile delinquency back in the 1950s. People, they said, are aware of their obligation to follow the law, so in order to skirt that obligation and do stuff they know they’re not supposed to do, they concoct a series of techniques to neutralize that obligation. In other words, they find ways to escape responsibility.

I mention all this because if you paid any attention to the news over the last week, you saw Matza and Sykes’ theory in action. Here are their five techniques of neutralization:

  • Denial of responsibility — Dude, it’s not really my fault.
  • Denial of injury — Dude, nobody really got hurt.
  • Denial of the victim — Dude, really it’s their own fault.
  • Condemning of the condemners — Dude c’mon, it’s not like you’re innocent.
  • Appeal to higher loyalties — Dude, I did it for my friends (or family, or god).

We saw ALL of these techniques in play over the last week. Every single one of them. We saw them employed by Comrade Trump, by his followers, and by most Republican politicians. Denial of responsibility: “Dude, Trump didn’t mail any of those bombs.” Denial of injury: “Dude, the bombs weren’t even bombs; they didn’t detonate and nobody got hurt.” Denial of the victim: “Dude, the people who got the mail bombs wouldn’t have gotten any mail bombs if they hadn’t tried to undermine the president like that.” Condemning the condemners: “Dude c’mon, it’s not like Democrats are innocent; I mean, a Bernie supporter shot a Republican congressmen who was playing softball, right? And people were rude to Sarah Sanders in a restaurant.” And yeah, even an appeal to higher loyalties: “The people who got the mail bombs were traitors and the real enemies of the people.”

Dude, don’t look at me, it’s not MY fault.

Even this morning, Trump was obliviously tweeting out neutralization techniques with all the desperate need of a spawning salmon.

There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!

He really can’t help himself. Trump seems to be completely incapable of accepting the notion that by labeling the news media as ‘fake’ and the ‘true Enemy of the People’ he’s not only inciting the anger he’s condemning, but also emboldening his followers to act on that anger.  Dude, it’s not my fault if the Enemy of the People get hurt; I’m just talking and words can’t really hurt you; besides, it’s the Enemy of the People who are at fault for being the Enemy of the People; and it’s not like they’re innocent, just look at how mean they are to me; and if I call the Enemy of the People the enemy, it’s because I want peace and harmony. Bitches.

It’s sad and infuriating that the only way to explain the behavior of the President of These United States is to rely on theories developed to explain criminality. Jeebus in handcuffs, we used to be a semi-decent nation.

People, you have GOT to vote. If you value decency and truth and science and integrity and compassion, you have GOT to fucking vote.

8 thoughts on “dude, not my fault

  1. I find that this is one of your most idiotic rants to date. You 100% give the criminal a full pardon because you hate Trump. Trump had zero to do with this guy. You are such a hypocrite. You just explained how criminals try to justify their actions and you 100% do not hold the perp accountable for his actions by blaming Trump.


    • Aw, Billy, I’m afraid you’ve completely misunderstood this post. This wasn’t at all about the MAGA bomber or the synagogue mass murderer — it was entirely about Trump. Of course Sayoc and Bowers are entirely responsible for what they did. What I’m saying is that words have power.

      Trump himself acknowledges that. When he complains about the news being critical of him, he’s admitting that words have power to shape opinion and action. But he refuses to accept that his OWN words also have the power to shape opinion and action.

      Liked by 6 people

      • Let me also say this: Billy is partly correct when he accuses me of hating Trump. I don’t hate Trump as a person; I think he’s a horrible person, but there are a LOT of horrible people out there. But I DO hate him as the president of a nation I’ve been proud to serve. I hate what he’s done as president to undermine democracy, what he’s done to damage the office he holds, and what he’s done to tarnish the reputation of the United States.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Greg, saying it ^ better than I say it to myself. Again.

        Donald Trump is just another bad guy in the world. The world is full of ’em. We accept that not everyone has a decent moral compass, not everyone understands the sympathy and empathy thing, and that some are only self-serving, and we just move on past them and don’t hang around ’em. We want better people than that in our lives.

        And we also want better people than that in our leadership positions. Donald Trump is the very epitome of everything we’ve ever despised about leaders anywhere in the world at any time in history. Now we know the answer to the age-old question: “how did people allow a guy like THAT to rise to power?” It’s because the spiteful minority won an election, and gave the guy a free pass on everything.

        Luckily, hopefully, we live in a society where there’s enough of us that realize this was a big mistake, we fell asleep at the wheel, this is bad for the country and humanity, as we gonna set this right. Pronto.

        Maybe even as soon as this week.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Journalism as Art and commented:
    He really can’t help himself. Trump seems to be completely incapable of accepting the notion that by labeling the news media as ‘fake’ and the ‘true Enemy of the People’ he’s not only inciting the anger he’s condemning, but also emboldening his followers to act on that anger.

    Liked by 1 person

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