Why Some Distrust Victims

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I have a difficult time discerning whether the times I live in are crazier than the old days or if we simply spend more time digesting headlines.

In the “old days” the Federalists claimed that Thomas Jefferson had died so that citizens wouldn’t vote him president and Jefferson suggested that John Adams was a hermaphrodite in return. That kind of craziness doesn’t happen today, but every snarky remark seems to be given an equal level of attention.

It’s all reinforced by trends on Facebook and Twitter and a 24-hour news cycle that always needs a story (scandal) to keep ratings up. Lately, things that many of us care about have come to the attention of our federation through demonstrations, most recently in Baltimore and Texas.

I work in a field of predominantly liberal-minded people; anyone who says otherwise is incapable of paying attention to their surroundings. As such, my feeds typically contain posts suggesting outrage that many people are skeptical of the determined victim in a situation.

Each case and opinion is unique, and I’m not making statements about anything that has happened, but I thought, “Why do some people resort to victim-blaming so easily?” There is a healthy level of skepticism that should come with any accusation, that’s why we have habeas corpus, but there is a level of disgust that some show in their reaction toward a man or woman claiming to be a victim.

Well, yesterday started my vacation, and when somewhat away from work I think, so here’s a thought on why some people are so eager to blame victims. This isn’t in defense of opinion or person, but I think it’s always good to walk into situations with context.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved”

-Mother Teresa

Most of the civilized world believes that we have a duty to help others. Value has historically been given to those who sacrifice the most. Be it riches in place of love or vice versa, those who avoid balance in life benefit in popularity. It is why saints live celibate, impoverished lives and so many rich/powerful folks have ridiculous, unhinged personal lives.

Many of us get a strange feeling when coming across a homeless person on the street. We know that we should help, and yet more times than not we imagine that the human no longer exists. As a species we like to simplify, and so the people with means, feeling sorry for those without, found it simpler to pool money together to distribute among the poor than to give individually. The safety net was born.

The problem here is not the safety net, but the mindset that supporting victims has imposed on our leaders. Businesses and governments create more and more steps between the consumers/constituents and their leaders. The simple reason for that is that we easily forgive those we perceive to be victims. If no one can be responsible for a decision, more can benefit from forgiveness.

People hate to see those with power abdicate responsibility, and so unrest grows as we watch person after person commit scandal after scandal and never pay a price. Who was fired after the financial collapse? Are students, alumni, headquarters, universities, states or TFM responsible for fraternity’s decline? No one group or person is truly responsible for an activity, and so everyone is protected just as they are.

This has created a “boy cries wolf” scenario around being a “victim.” We’ve seen too many despicable people evade scrutiny to afford that privilege to anyone else.

I adore my family, but I basically grew up listening to get-rich-quick schemes. I’ve learned to be skeptical of the things people say, to expect evidence, to know what is going on around a situation before getting involved.

Lots of others are the same way, but their language clouds the principle behind their skepticism. I assume many who don’t immediately take the side of the victim are not any kind of bigot, but simply believe that the accused and accuser are equally open to inspection.

Protests from those in Baltimore to the Tea Party protests back in 2009 are all based on demanding that those in positions of power accept decency and genuine responsibility as a condition of their employment. That means firing bad employees, accepting punishment when you fail as a leader and not sweeping skepticism under the rug.

If a debate is to be healthy, something that’s impossible to do in 140 characters, it needs to be in context.

Much of what we believe is based on distrust in a type of person. Some inherently distrust businessmen, some distrust a certain ethnicity, some distrust a certain gender, and some distrust victims. Folks on all sides of every aisle tend to blame those they distrust for the challenges we face. The Westboro Baptist Church blames gays and the Human Rights Campaign blames the GOP.

A great part about our country is the protection of speech so that the unpopular, downtrodden and loathed can make their opinions heard. Being open-minded has nothing to do with changing your mind. Being open-minded means you can listen to an opposing view and give it and the human from which it came the credit of a mature response.


Just be nice. Chances are you don’t know everything about a person’s background, hardships and perspective.