Whatever the outcome of this particular idiot story, what horrified me was the commenters who decided that the brain-dead neighbours should be punished by the law, and that a law should be made if there wasn't one, because there SHOULD be one, and if that doesn't work, then everyone should go over to their house and work them over in the most painful and violent way possible. They didn't have any involvement in the matter, but by God, they were going to GET involved and smack a bitch!
This should worry all of you. It certainly worries me. Bad judgement makes bad laws, and hasty actions frequently lead to fatal consequences.
(If you do, get off my journal immediately. You're not welcome here.)
Forget about the incident I linked to yesterday. Go out on the intertubes and find yourself a story about someone who got killed accidentally. Read the comments section. It should give you chills, and not good ones.
We call ourselves civilized, yet at the slightest whisper of something unfair, we turn into a raging mob with torches and pitchforks. Forget facts, forget mitigating circumstances, forget even that being an asshole is not a criminal act; that's not the point. We are the mob, and we're coming for Frankenstein's monster. Fuck reasonable response, we want blood!
We all want things to be fair. Life should be happy daisies, and when it isn't, we get mad, even if we're not personally involved. It's called empathy, and it's a good thing, but the sense of injustice that comes to the fore when we read or hear about something that seems totally unfair can cause primal emotions to ride to the surface. At this point, we (as a generalized bunch), throw empathy out of the window and go for the jugular vein.
The thing to remember, especially on the 'tubes, is that stories from one source are always skewed to the viewpoint of the teller. This is a grand tradition in journalism, dating back to Beowulf, who got his story in to Saga Enquirer's Monthly first because Grendel's mother got held up in traffic. The phrase "yellow journalism" exists for a reason, and how often do we roll our eyes and tell each other "don't trust anything you read in the paper"? So why is the internet any less untrustworthy when it comes to reporting the facts?
It's a bad idea to rush off to administer justice without all the facts, but it happens every day. Should it? No.
Even if they're clearly assholes? No.
No. And clean your room.
It is normal and right to feel anger when something horrible happens to someone who didn't deserve it. It is a step backwards in our mental evolution to want to jump in and get involved in a mass beating rather than let the authorities handle it. Let's go back to yesterday's story (because I know you're all thinking about it still); how do you deal with an incident like this, where the law says there's nothing to be done?
(Put down the flaming bag of poo.)
Raise awareness of how bullying can really hurt. Help to reduce the stigma of mental illness by giving it the respect it deserves, and encouraging others to do so. Inform. Get the facts out there about how young teenagers often don't have the emotional maturity to deal with assholes on the 'net. Heck, teach parents how to use the parental controls on their computers. Teach kids that bullying is sleazy and that bullying on-line is the same as bullying in school (I saw a good ad for this on TV the other day). Do anything and everything you want, as long as it is constructive.
Destruction is for bullies. And anyone who thinks threatening to harm someone for doing a dumb, unfortunate, idiotic thing isn't bullying, is a hypocrite in the worst way. Stop cyber bullying.
And keep your kids off MySpace. That thing rots your brain.