November 21, 2011

A Culture Dedicated to Creating Hell on Earth

In my remarks last week about the Penn State story, I explained why the repeated statements by virtually everyone that we all must "protect the children" are largely meaningless. Most people say nothing about the common forms of cruelty to children that occur all the time; the majority of people perpetrate such cruelties themselves, in the name of "discipline" and "proper" upbringing. This is especially true when we speak of emotional and psychological violence against children; in our culture, such violence takes place every moment of every day.

And the bullying children described in this story may be monsters -- but they are monsters created by the adults around them (in almost every case, beginning with their parents) and by the culture generally:
The boy who first came forward to accuse former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual assault has been harassed so intensely that he had to leave high school, prompting ousted coach Joe Paterno to speak out against bullying.

The mother of the alleged victim, who set off the investigation that has rocked the world of college sports and led to 40 counts of child sexual assault against Sandusky, told ABC News that students at her son's high school blame him for triggering the sex abuse scandal that led to the firing of Paterno, the beloved head coach who oversaw the university's Nittany Lions football team for 46 years

Speaking exclusively with "Good Morning America," the attorney representing Paterno said that the former coach denounces bullying, and called for respect in the name of the school.

"Coach Paterno strongly condemns harassment or bullying of any kind, and he asks anyone who truly cares about Penn State to conduct themselves honorably and with respect for others," attorney J. Sedgwick Sollers told ABC News
"Coach" Paterno is a goddamned fucking liar. I say this with absolute confidence in the correctness of my judgment, on the basis of what is already known about what happened at Penn State.

In this culture, goddamned fucking liars of this kind are the leaders in business, in politics, in every field including sports. Our culture loves goddamned fucking liars like Paterno.

From "Bullied, Terrorized, and Targeted for Destruction: Our Children Have Learned Well":
[Our children learn] that cruelty and violence are not to be condemned, but constitute the coin of the nightmare realm of our culture: cruelty and violence are enacted many times every day in films, on television, in our personal lives, and by our government on a national and international scale. You will be rewarded for cruelty: the crueler you are, the greater the reward.


Our children learn all this, and many more lessons of the same kind. Of course, they are often vicious bullies. Our government is a murderous bully on a scale that beggars description; most politicians are bullies; the majority of adults are bullies to varying degrees. Why wouldn't these children be bullies? It's what they've been taught. In the most crucial ways, it's all they've been taught.

These children are the perfect embodiments of the central values of our culture. They have learned well.
In that earlier article, I also wrote that our children learn that "the extent of your awareness of the world around you, and the extent of your sensitivity to and concern for the sanctity of human life, will be the extent to which you are punished." This is the awful lesson that the boy who was forced to leave his school is now being taught, in a particularly terrible way. If we seek to end evil, we must first name and identify it. That is what the boy did. Evil reacts as it must: it will try to destroy him.

A culture like ours -- a culture so uniformly dedicated to inflicting pain, to cruelty, to violence, to destruction, to creating hell on earth -- does not deserve to survive for another moment. Many signs lead one to believe that it may not survive much longer.

Good. May there be some measure of justice, a vindication of humanity, compassion, empathy and basic decency, at very long last.


On the same themes, see "A Depraved, Violent and Indifferent Culture," which includes this passage:
[A]ny signs of decency, of compassion and empathy, of being willing to say, No, and to mean it, any signs of healthy, vital life are ignored or, still worse, sneered at and made the target of mockery. (For much more on that last issue, see the discussion of high school students who peacefully protested the Iraq occupation and were then threatened with severe punishment, including expulsion, in "When Awareness Is a Crime, and Other Lessons from Morton West.")

In the most crucial sense, this is not a culture that deserves to survive. In all those ways that are conducive to fulfillment and joy, those ways that concern the sanctity of life and the possibility of happiness, such a culture is already dead.