I am fascinated by those instances in which the thin façade that covers the throbbing, ever-present American mob mentality suffers a temporary breach. Much has been made lately of the growing chorus of outrage regarding the bailouts and the health care reform bill, but that vitriol is largely confined to a small contingent of loutish, inexplicably disaffected rich white men. No, your prime entertainment value ("entertainment" in the public lynching sense) comes from smaller human interest stories, primarily those regarding racial issues or child endangerment. STLtoday.com has become notorious among my circle of friends for its comments page, which routinely exposes the unabashed racism and reactionism that typify much of the Post-Dispatch readership (i.e., those who live in the county and the sticks). Alas, throw enough tinder into the national pit, and you can warm yourself on an even bigger pyre, one which burns intensely, if only momentarily. (Give it up for that other classic American trait, zero short term memory.)
CNN.com recently covered a story about a four-year-old boy who was beaten to death for having wet his pants. The alleged perpetrator was the child's new rent-a-father-figure, who had been living with the boy's mother for about six months. Beating and/or killing children fulfills the societal need for emotional absolutes, in the same way that Hitler and 9/11 provide an easy knee-jerk reference to pure evil. People who would otherwise keep a tight lid on their anger feel safe to express themselves under such circumstances, knowing that they can vent their innermost rage without fear of recompense. Factor in total anonymity and a public forum, and you've got a perfect incubator for hysteria.
The comments page on the CNN article jumped off immediately with calls for extreme violence against the defendant, including castration and prison rape. As generally happens, the hostility fed upon itself, increasing at the same rate as the deterioration of grammar and spelling. Sample comment (verbatim):
I wish I was present in this situation I will beat this bastard to a pulp and have my dogs drill is ass , and I will take is teeth’s with an hammer and dose acid over before put a bullet on him
Sensing a raw nerve, I decided to push it.
Articles like this are great because their comments pages consistently expose the mob mentality.
What do you suggest we do? Provide him with some therapy? Kids are OF LIMITS!
Mob mentality? are you nut ? are you from San Francisco? is call People justice You moron!!!
or maybe we should give him a cookie and pat him on the back?
JoyGrenade is right. For days I have read Americans spewing hatred at each other over idiotic and petty political disagreements. Now, everyone has a common enemy to spew their hatred toward, but what is most revealing is the level of aggression that is ever present in people in this country. Everyone is on simmer, ready to boil over. For "the greatest country in the world" people are sure angry and vitriolic.
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CeNsoriNg, what the hell are you talking about? Have you read the article? What do you expect people to do? Laugh and give high fives? If you don't get upset after reading something like this, you might have a problem.
JoyGrenade and CeNsoriNg you two are complete brainwashed drones, devoid of any emotions. You obviously didn't read this article...
No, I did read the article. I believe he should be tried and convicted and sent to prison. I do not feel the same inclination as you to fantasize about him being gang raped, strung up by his balls, tortured, killed slowly, had things rammed up his ass etc etc....I think the crime was horrible, and truly tragic and sad, and that is what I feel - sad. The world is an ugly place, and people do ugly things, and I don't think doing more ugly things stops ugly things from happening.
then next time you decide to comment you may want to at least acknowledge the brutal heinousness of this crime before you lambaste 99 percent of contributors to this forum with a stupid comment about mob mentality.
This is far too easy.