Sunday, January 08, 2017

The gift of perspective: the sequel.

The second Sunday of 2017 strikes me as the perfect day for wading even more deeply into the waters of moral controversy than in my last post. So let me lay this one on you:

Pets and children do not understand the concept of "a necessary evil" or "for your own good." Therefore, from the vantage point of the pet or child, getting a vaccination or a nail trim may well be the same as, say, being sodomized with a pencil. We are the only ones in the scenario who are confident in the propriety of one act vs. the other. If you've ever seen a large recalcitrant dog getting its nails trimmed with a dremel, you know the phenomenon of which I speak. It is traumatizing for both the animal and the (uninitiated) observer; the dog will howl and bark and strain against any confinement as might another dog being frankly tortured (except in the case of a nail trim the animal has no recourse; if it's awake for the procedure, it's usually muzzled and held or tied down). Veterinary pros grow inured to the histrionics and shrug them off...just as I suppose serial pedophiles get used to the whimpers and/or screams of their young victims.

The same applies in the case of the severely vaccination-phobic child who's dragged kicking and screaming into the pediatrician's office.
This would be a good place to reiterate that we are talking from the point of view of the pet or child only. In no way does this post even begin to imply that those of us on the outside should regard pedophilia or torture as no more sinister than nail trimming or vaccinating. I'm speaking only of how your pet or child likely interprets those experiences.
So no, I am not proposing some bizarre false equivalence between pet groomers and/or pediatricians and pedophiles. I am saying that to the pet or child, the abuse is the same: Pain and terror are being inflicted while the people they trust most in life, Mommy and/or Daddy, are standing by and letting it happen. And it doesn't matter that the vet or pediatrician is speaking in consoling tones. Child molesters often do that too.

Think about it. And think about the fact that we often say that young victims of pedophiles are scarred for life. Just think about it. As always, that's all I ask here.


Laurel VanWilligen said...

Man, you do demand a lot of us. I can't disagree.
To the extent that the animal or child grows to have trust in their owner/parent, I guess they come to accept the torture was justified, at least done without malice.
I simply adore you for asking these questions. Bravo.

Steve Salerno said...

Laurel, thank you for hanging in there with me. As this post indicates, I struggle with a lot of easy/breezy dichotomies we set up in life about good vs. bad, right vs. wrong. This post represents one of my milder quibbles; I hesitate to go public with some of the major (i.e. most controversial) ones, as such abstractions have caused a number of very concrete repercussions for me, as noted previously.

When I was growing up, my Dad used to say "There are no penalties for asking a question." He was wrong. There are certain questions we are simply not supposed to ask--we're not even supposed to think them; and there seem to be more questions added to that category all the time. And the biggest latter-day irony of all is that the environment where those questions are most unwelcome is college. So much for critical thinking skills.

Jenny said...

Hi, Laurel and Steve and whoever else is reading. I find SHAMblog helpful in many ways. I'm in another online community where people are currently talking about one of the self-help gurus Steve (and others, including our friend Connie) has skewered in past installments. Today, I entered the name (initials BK, hint-hint) in the search page and was able to quickly find information about this person. In other words, SHAMblog is an information treasure chest, helpful in researching questionable ideas and people.

Keep asking those questions, Steve. So your dad was wrong about penalties. Curiosity killed the (proverbial) cat, too. But think of the alternative to not asking questions as they arise. Ignorance often isn't bliss, and in the long run you might be better off with the short-term consequences of daring to call out what you see— or don't see. The emperor's new clothes, for example.

My apologies for all the clich├ęs. ;)

Jenny said...

P.S. I meant search feature, not page. The little search box in the upper left corner of the web (but not mobile, apparently) version of the blog.

Laurel VanWilligen said...

I taught my kids the 'sticks and stones' saying and I still believe it should be the norm. It is the basis of a free society and I agree with Ayn Rand's assertion that when the ablest men become cowards the average men become brutes.
We (as a society) have encouraged cowardice by punishing those who've dared to question the orthodoxy of the day. I don't need to convince you of that.
And when that goes on long enough, the brutes (isn't The Donald a brute?) emerge. As you so ably pointed out, the chickens are roosting and we may be in for a trying time. But I have faith in our country and its foundations. We can be a bunch of squabbling children arguing over an inheritance, but in the end I think we figure it out.
Everybody wants to believe we're in the 'End Times'. Afterall, who really wants the world to just continue on it's way once we're gone? But it does and it will. Don't you think those intelligent and courageous people alive at the time of the Civil War thought theirs HAD to be the End Times? It wasn't. We recovered. We learned some valuable lessons. And we'll recover from this craziness too.
But we'll always need courageous people to ask difficult questions and risk getting ad baculumed for their trouble.

Steve Salerno said...

I wish that some writer with a rep for being outre, or at least a rep for forward thinking--Gladwell?--would publish a book covering these topics. "A few dozen entirely valid thoughts you're not allowed to think, let alone believe." I'm confident I'm a decent enough writer to pull it off in a purely mechanical/literary sense, but I don't have a sales track record that's sufficient to outweigh the overtones of such a work, and the vitriol it would inspire from some reviewers, self-styled moralists etc. I broached this idea with my then agent a couple years back, and when he phoned me a few days after getting my two-page synopsis, the first words out of his mouth--before hello--were, "Are you out of your fucking mind, Salerno? You debunk just about everything we hold dear, all the sacred cows that reassure us as we go to bed each night. Now what publishing house do you imagine is going to make a sizable upfront investment in a book like that?" The sample insights I'd sent in my proposal included the ones covered in my past two posts, as well as a half-dozen others that begin to get pretty controversial. (smirk) A pity.

Dimension Skipper said...

Off topic, but I had to stop by and lob this one your way, Steve. Seems like the sort of thing you would like. Or could teach. Gotta love the secondary disclaimer...

Yet Another Disclaimer: This website is intended for personal educational use and should be used for informational purposes only. Accordingly, all warranties and forms of liability from your use of this website are disclaimed to the extent applicable in your jurisdiction. Nothing on this website constitutes guaranteed accuracy of any kind. Calls of bullshit represent the opinions of the instructors and are not intended as definitive judgements of fact. is not liable for any loss of credulity you may suffer as a consequence of reading the information herein. Viewer discretion advised. May cause drowsiness. Void where prohibited. No animals were used during testing. May cause excitability. Not recommended for children under the age of 12. Use only as directed. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. Live, except on West Coast. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while using this website. Additional taxes may apply in some jurisdictions. Individual results may vary. Not to be used with alcoholic beverages. I bet you think this website is about you, don't you? Don't you?

Steve Salerno said...

Leave it to Dimskip.

So many times I wished I'd written that book, On Bullshit, that became such a cult phenomenon the same year SHAM came out. I think I could've done at least as good a job as Frankfurt did. And Lord knows I'd have no shortage of real-world examples.