Blaming the Victim

By Cyberquill 02/24/201041 Comments

An attractive young woman suits up in a tight mini skirt and a skimpy peekaboo blouse, paints her face like Irma la Douce, dons a flashy diamond necklace, sticks a wad of 100-dollar bills into each of her exposed garters, puts on a pair of four-inch stilettos, gets plastered out of her mind, and proceeds to take a midnight stroll on the South Side of Chicago, all by herself.

She ends up raped, strangled, and robbed.

Now, if—upon condemning this act of violence—you ever so gently offered for consideration the thesis that the young lady’s choices in the run-up to her demise may not have been among the most conducive to her personal welfare, chances are you’d be taken to the woodshed by every women’s and victim’s rights group under the sun for “blaming the victim” in a disgraceful bid to make excuses for her attacker(s), as if you were implying that on account of the victim’s conduct the crime committed was less severe than had she been stone sober, wrapped in a burlap blanket with a potato sack over her head, and assaulted en route to the grocery store in broad daylight with fifteen body guards and a pack of growling pit bulls at her side.

Some time ago, on The O’Reilly Factor, former child abuse and sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy emphatically put forth that “there’s only 100% of blame to go around”; hence, any allegation of wrongdoing (or dumbdoing) on the part of the victim “by definition” reduced the culpability of the perpetrator.

Not sure whence Ms. Murphy obtains her definitions, but this one smacks of Monty Python’s Flying Circus rather than the Academy of Common Sense.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously remarked that the true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time. Another excellent mind test is the ability to tell truly contradictory ideas from those that merely seem contradictory to lazy thinkers or crazed activists like Ms. Murphy—although I’m sure the good counselor does lots of valuable work in her spare time, i.e., when she isn’t busy spouting half-witted arithmetics into a television camera.

Even lower-rated minds should easily be able to erect a solid wall of separation between the culpability of a perpetrator and his or her victim’s hare-brained behavior, as there is absolutely no contradiction between a criminal being 100% guilty and the victim having acted like a dunce. Given that the units don’t even match up, subtracting one person’s imprudence from another’s culpability makes about as much sense as subtracting your dentist’s hat size from the number of your fillings, or the height of the Empire State Building from the temperature in Midtown.

As per the American Heritage Dictionary—seconded by Webster’s—anytime something bad happens to us, we are victims. We may be victims of our genes, of our own behavior (perchance occasioned by our genetic proclivities), of the actions of others, or of the latter in concert with the previous. Yet although legitimate questions about a victim’s judgment may be raised for having conveniently painted a bright red target on her forehead and worn a “Shoot Me” T-shirt, such questions hardly qualify as mitigating factors regarding the guilt of her assassin. Apples and oranges.

Of course, especially in cases of rape and sexual molestation where the occurrence of the act and its non-consensuality have been established, the defendant and his dream team will play the provocation card in an attempt to wangle a reduced sentence. After all, doesn’t the victim share some blame because she “asked for it” by walking around drunk and half naked?

Such a defense certainly ought to be taken into account, to wit by ordering the perpetrator to serving his time in a zoo instead of a conventional correctional facility. Clearly, his reasoning combined with such paltry impulse control capabilities put him more on par with a mountain lion than an evolved human being.

A few years back, on NBC’s Judge Joe Brown, a guy stood accused of having totaled another guy’s motorized go-cart. The defendant admitted to being responsible for half the damage. Judge Brown inquired what made him think—given that he had wrecked the entire vehicle all by himself—he should pay for only half. The defendant opined that because the go-cart-owning plaintiff had provided the booze, and because being loaded was deemed a factor in the crash, the responsibility ought to be shared. In the end, not only was the defendant held liable for the entire damage, but the judge slapped on an extra fine for the sheer nerve to present such a dimwitted defense. In fact, he jacked up that extra fine after the defendant repeated his excuse, and then hiked it some more in reaction to yet another repetition thereof.

I’d have ruled the same way, except that the plaintiff—because he had furnished the liquor—would have received only part of the money, and the rest would have been donated to charity, thereby holding the perpetrator 100% liable while simultaneously acknowledging the injured party’s complicity in upping the odds for disaster and thus divesting the victim of some of the sympathy he would otherwise have been entitled to.

Similarly, any molester/rapist who cites his victim’s “provocative attire” or “lascivious demeanor” or whatnot as an extenuating circumstance for his transgression ought to receive an extra year in the zoo, plus an additional six months for every time he or his lawyer have the gall to ditto their risible rationale.

That said, if the victim acted injudiciously, such as walking around drunk and half-naked, her behavior increased the likelihood of the outcome she suffered. Am I “blaming the victim”? Absolutely. However, I am blaming her separately from blaming the perpetrator, as one has zilch to do with the other. A person who smashed a shop window doesn’t get a reduced sentence because the golden watch on display looked particularly appealing and easy to snatch, even though the store owner should have installed thicker glass and had a better security system in place. Why should a crook get time off for having had an accomplice, even if the accomplice was, in fact, the victim by way of facilitating the felony?

There are no guarantees in life. We weave our way through the Red Dust shrouded a probability cloud in which our individual choices either increase or decrease the odds for particular outcomes. The question arises to what extent a victim should be “blamed” by recognizing or—Heaven forbid!—even pointing out that by acting differently he or she may reasonably have averted a particularly infelicitous occurrence. Emphasis on reasonably; after all—to remain with our flagship example of rape—by leaving her house a woman increases her chances of getting raped by a stranger, and by staying home she boosts her chances of getting raped by her spouse, her boyfriend, or the milkman. Strictly speaking, a woman increases her chances of getting raped simply by refusing to commit suicide, yet she can hardly be blamed for electing life over death, nor for either staying home or going out.

Wardrobe choices may offer some opportunity for protection, although this is a murky area. Although many predators will become overly excited at the sight of a girl in a mini and tank top, others may snap at the sight of a fully burqa-ed female, irresistibly intrigued by the mystery of what may lie beneath. As a general rule, though, the tighter the wrapping, the more skin lies exposed, and/or the more closely a woman’s get-up resembles that of an odalisque, the more she’ll attract the attention of everyman, including those she may not wish to attract. Of course, I confess to being rather partial to scantily clad females, and far be it from my European mores and sensibilities to demur to exposure of any degree. Provocative attire and flirtatious demeanor alone certainly do not warrant excessive harrumphing in case a person with a shoe addiction (= a woman) runs into trouble with some troglodyte who can’t keep his appendages properly stowed (such as his hands in his pockets).

I am, however, open to “blaming the victim” for precarious situations which occur in the context of getting lushed up in public while dressed like Pretty Woman on the clock, pole-dancing in a room full of drunk guys, or entering into romantic relationships with men who wear their abusive tendencies on their sleeves. Once again, this line of judgment is entirely separate from locking up the perps in a zoo and tossing the keys into the crater of Mount Vesuvius.

For the sake of political correctness, it shall be stated that men, too, are liable to getting raped, molested, or physically abused by women. And sometimes dogs gets bitten by the mailman. (I don’t mean to suggest that, on balance, women are less powerful, or even less cruel and ruthless, than men; only that, by necessity, footwear addicts are more disposed to causing pain and destruction by resorting to methods other than brute physical force.)

Given that there appears to exist some sort of non-random action-consequence dynamic in this probability cloud called life—the more often we play Russian Roulette the more likely we will end up with a bullet in our head, even though it could happen anyway—is it possible that some people will take actions specifically so as to increase their chances of bad things happening to them? Is it conceivable that, say, a rape victim was indeed “asking for it”?

Sure it is. Two reasons: (1) Some individuals have a guilt complex and feel they deserve to be punished, so they are drawn to situations where pain is likely to occur, or (2) because they feel that the best way to come by genuine affection is to be a genuine victim.

We’ve all experienced that people are generally nicer to us when we’re sick or hurt. And how many hearts had gone out to Haiti prior to the earthquake versus afterwards? Having been on the receiving end of a disaster, a crime, or any type of malice (such as having been lied to) is a surefire way to attract increased amounts of loving attention. (Some people will become very angry reading this, primarily those prone to applying this particular strategy to harvest affection.)

Of course, it would be beyond preposterous to suggest that the victims in Haiti were using any sort of conscious or subconscious ploy to draw the world’s attention by allowing themselves to be buried alive by the millions. And clearly, bestowing loving attention on people who are hurting is a good thing, even though in some cases we may not appreciate the psychological complexity of the situation, i.e., we may not be aware that we’re being played. Moreover, the overall number of those deliberately putting themselves in harm’s way with the express objective of receiving hugs in the wake of their victimhood is probably fairly small. Besides, these individuals are victims nonetheless, albeit victims of something else, something much deeper and more painful than the immediate source of their injury.

Some will argue that perpetrators themselves are victims, as they suffer from an uncontrollable urge to do bad things, hence it isn’t really their fault. On some level it makes sense that all so-called “evil” ultimately reduces to limited functionality in certain areas of the brain, e.g., the inability to feel empathy. So then how can we “blame” a rapist if he simply couldn’t help himself due to a medical condition?

This line of reasoning entails the inevitable conclusion that there are no perpetrators, no criminals, and no bad people (except Republicans), because everybody is a victim of sorts. We’re all sinners, because we’re all victims. Enlightened and compassionate—perhaps even imbued with a hue of ultimate truth—as this conclusion may be in theory, in practice it is rather worthless. If free will doesn’t exist, then those arguing in favor of holding people accountable for their own actions aren’t accountable for their personal-responsibility fetish, either, as they simply can’t help espousing the concept of a free will. In a world filled with Manchurian Candidates, the whole concept of blaming anybody for anything would be moot.

In the comment section of my previous post, one of my honorable interlocutors alleged that I was a victim of “the blame the victim mentality that is so rampant in protestant, capitalist society” which is allegedly loath to give “a person willing to work a chance to earn a full-time salary.” In the course of attempting to convince me that I ought to count myself among the plaintiffs in the class-action case of Penniless v. Society, the claimant kindly provided a link to a Wikipedia article titled Victim Blaming.

By Wikipedia’s very nature, the content of their entries is subject to change. At the time of this writing, however, the first paragraph of the entry in question contains the following sentence:

Victim blaming is a typical fascist trait, infamously expressed in arguments like “a raped woman in a short skirt was asking for it.”

It was this statement which prompted me to go off on a lenghty prelude expanding upon victimhood and rape, although my actual point today is to explain why our “protestant, capitalist society” is exactly as responsible for my personal failure to make a living in this world as it is responsible for my cavities and the climate on Venus.

Strikingly, the aforementioned interlocutor dragged society into a debate about the perennial void in my wallet as if society by default were to blame for the existential face plants of its members, without possessing any real knowledge of my personal history and the series of quietly disastrous choices I may have made over the course of my life that would have sufficed to do me in irrespective of society’s attitude at large.

For instance, I grew up in a part of the world where university education is free of charge. Getting a PhD or a Master’s, even several of these, wouldn’t have cost me or my parents a dime. Did I avail myself of this opportunity? No. I politely declined all higher education, confident that I would manage to slide by and succeed in life on my natural smarts and talents.


And now, having worn myself out hopscotching from one menial job to the next on both sides of the Atlantic for close to two decades, I’m feeling too drained, too tired, too listless, and too broke to once again pack my bags and “start over,” whatever that may mean. Next stop Brooklyn Bridge. That’s too bad, but what’s “society” got to do with it? By way of unemployment compensation, the state of New York has been keeping me afloat for almost a year now. Indeed, society is paying my bills. What else does society owe me? Free manicures?

Am I, the victim, to “blame” for all this? Sure, just like I am to blame for my cavities. As I recall, no one has ever put a Glock to my temple and forced me to dig my teeth into a Hershey’s bar. On the flip side, this protestant, capitalist society has never applied force to prevent me from doing damage to my enamel, either.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Well, freedom has rung. Freedom, alas, includes the freedom to take a bath.

Of course, one may adopt the notion that individuals like myself aren’t really “free” but are genetically wired to make cataclysmal choices in life, just as the lady at the top of this post may have been genetically wired to dress up like a hooker, get fried, and take a solo walk on the South Side of Chicago in the middle of the night.

Who knows. But society? Nah.

Perhaps it’s all just a matter of luck. In the immortal words of Jake Blues:

I ran out of gas. I had a flat tire. I didn’t have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN’T MY FAULT! I SWEAR TO GOD!!!

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  • dafna

    just beginning the read but F. Scott Fitzgerald said THAT -- did Robert Sapolsky forgot to attributed the quote? memory fading and old

    • dafna

      and a bit lazy

    • Cyberquill

      No idea what Sapolsky has to do with anything.

      • dafna

        @ approximately 34:35 Sopalsky speaks of humans unique ability to hold two contradictory ideas. i was to lazy to look up attribution -- it went to keirkegaard.

  • dafna

    well done, witty. also long and convoluted. and you missed the point.

    true, your unwitting “debater” had nothing of your history to go on but your own words; plus I’m an extremely hard worker, as evidenced by having waited tables full-time for 14 long years, up to 60 hours per week, with nary a day of calling in sick and your own claim to virtues I’m punctual and reliable to a fault, I have no intoxication-related issues.

    but my intentions were virtuous -- you seemed very unhappy about your finances and would rather blame it on an invented illness. your last blog never implied you had actually done something to deserve your situation. (as yet you have not proven to me that you deserve your financial fate)

    blame the victim mentality extends far beyond blaming the poor for being poor -- it has infinite applications. cancer victims are blamed for not having enough hope, not fighting hard enough. haitians are blamed for not having enough religious faith, those godless wretches.

    so how do you compare to the scantily clad victim in your story?

    think “disparity”. it applies to many situations. at what point do you say i’ve done my best and it’s not my fault?

    blame the victim mentality is a plague.

    the premise is that some people cannot accept the fact that bad things happen to good people through no fault of their own. blame must be assigned. the victim must have done something to deserve their fate.

    of course there is personal responsibility, but the free phD or masters degree would not have guaranteed you happiness nor your financial future. there is a world outside yourself which includes many happy waiters paying their bills successfully.

    thank you for your blog, truly. as amusing or confusing as i now am, that is how much of a muse i used to be in a past life long ago.

    • Cyberquill

      Speaking of missing the point, I never blamed anything on an invented illness. What I said was that IF gender identity disorder is a real medical condition THEN my DDD (dollar deficit disorder) is a real disease as well. That’s like saying if dolphins are fish then I’m the Avon Lady.

      A PhD or Master’s would not have guaranteed financial independence, and certainly not happiness. No one said so. In fact, I specifically stated that life was a probability cloud and that there were no guarantees.

      Haitans were blamed for not having enough religious faith by Pat Roberson, and he got roundly skewered for it. And few people are blaming cancer victims for their lack of hope. In a free society, you’ll hear all sorts of clashing views and mentalities. You can’t just select a handful and highlight them as if they were representative of society at large. I think you’re seeing a lot more uniformity than there actually is.

      Oh, and then there’s disparity. Precisely. People are disparate. Hard to find the perfect dose of government intervention (i.e., laws that are being enforced by men with guns) to distribute wealth as evenly as possible without setting off a civil war.

      I’m sure there are many happy waiters paying their bills successfully. Good for them. Any occupation that aligns with an individual’s personality type and natural abilities will produce a measure of contentment.

      We don’t want to blame victims too much, but at the same time we must recognize that our choices have consequences and that we may be producing results we don’t want.

      At what point will I say I’ve done my best and it’s not my fault? Well, I sincerely hope I have not done my best so far. If I did, that would be tragic.

  • dafna

    perhaps i missed your point on the previous blog. My aim is not to dispute or even to debate the merits of such classification.this led me to believe you were NOT disputing the validity of GID. i ran with that.

    i really don’t wish to debate. nor do i wish to be the target of your financial dismay. you are really itching for an argument.

    it is your blog, lets make this about ME for a second. i have stated numerous times that i have a very weak earning history. i have gone through what you are now going through, one difference is i am now twice your age and with a son to support, still impoverished.

    another difference is that i have come to terms with the “reasons” for my financial poverty. unlike you i long ago dismissed the “threadbare advice” and accusations of lazy. i decided that an able bodied person without “intoxication-related issues” and with many other virtues who works their ass off SHOULD NOT have to stay up all night with fears abut their finances (your words). it is my personal opinion that this is wrong. that is the disparity to which i was referring.

    the point you missed is about blame -the-victim mentality. you can explore it more, or not, and decide whether it applies to your situation. i have already reached my own conclusions concerning my situation.

    one last link:

    again, decide for yourself if this information applies to you. i am not interested in convincing or persuading you of anything.

    • Cyberquill

      By saying that virtuous and hard-working folks should not have to stay up all night worrying about their finances, you’re basically saying that society ought to reward plain effort, and if our efforts aren’t properly rewarded, then we’re victims of the system.

      In other words, your argument boils down to the infamous From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.

      An ant expert once summed up Marxism thus:

      “Wonderful theory. Wrong species.”

      • dafna

        that is not what i am saying. i am not a marxist. neither is the blame-the-victim” theory.

        i also don’t think you want clarification. but i will give it if you ask.

        a wise man once said “Friends and contacts will ask for clarification when they’re not sure how a comment was meant, but not when they’re sure, mad, and mistaken.”

        • Cyberquill

          Friends and contacts will ask for clarification prior to terminating all further communication, which was the context in which the statement was made. Given that I wasn’t planning to terminate all communication with you, and further given that you are being afforded ample opportunity to clarify to your heart’s content, the wise man’s words do not apply here.

          No idea what you were saying, but this is what you wrote:

          i decided that an able bodied person without “intoxication-related issues” and with many other virtues who works their ass off SHOULD NOT have to stay up all night with fears abut their finances

          If you wish to clarify in what regard your statement does not plainly translate into from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs, please go ahead.

          • dafna

            your conclusion was not plain to me. thank you for the invite to clarify.

            your financial reward should be proportionate to your effort. why blame yourself ONLY if it is not? what ‘ism” is this?

            it is a case of “ought v.s. is” but in my opinion it is not solely the individual to blame if you are working 60 hrs/wk and still living hand to mouth.

  • Exuvia

    I remember that evening as if it was yesterday. My sister drifts out from the bathroom in a leopard gown; tight to the bones. A long drawn V pulls the cloth to just above the navel and a halo of perfume and colorful cosmetic glamor separates our ways for ever.

    “Please do not go out like that” were the words of my brotherly solicitation. But, girls at age 17 have abandoned the nervous circuit that captures family concern. Their welfare is none of your business.

    At 6 am we meet again. Her eyes have a Marilyn Manson look, her hands are trembling and through tears she sobs the nightmare of the last hours of her disco inferno. Two sailors, visiting port, had been trying to make their way into the small safe house of a barred toilet in which my sister had taken refuge.

    Some metaphysical luck charm saved my kin and no harm had came to her physical integrity. Could have.

    What can you say to a drunken sailor, what can you say to a drunken sailor, what can you say to…

  • Exuvia

    Some metaphysical luck charm saved my kin and no harm came to her physical integrity. Could have.

    And, had it been up to the drunken sailor, should have.

    As for me “I just had to let it go”.

  • http://none Anne Johnson

    I feel the nail was hit on the head. To put it simply here is the advice my Mother gave me,” Boys are never to hit a girl, but if you hit a boy first, you asked for it.”
    When I was young and wanted to convince myself I was saving myself for that someone special, I was a tease. When I was called out on the issue I defended myself that boys need self control. I was not only a tease, I was stupid and asking for trouble. If my spouse tried to tease me now, I guess I would take him. Also in marriage I prostitute myself. I have withheld sex to get my way many times. But if my husband “took” me when I said no, I could legally say he raped me. The community would think this man is awful. What is fair here?

    I hope I am sensible. I grew up in a State Capital. I was an outcast in the 80’s because I would get on the band wagon for some kind of thing ( I can’t recall). If enough states passed it women would have more rights. (someone surely knows what I am referring to)

    I made it clear I could vote, get a job, go to school etc… I made it clear I did not want to be drafted for the military and I loved having a man open my doors. The group said I was a sad women. I still am proud of the stance. I also made a decision not to go back to that town if I ever got out.

    Let’s put Irma la Douce in a different situation. She wins a huge lottery. She has business cards printed with her name address and phone numbers. She goes out and hands the cards to perfect strangers. “OH NO!” Most of you feel she is putting herself in danger. Of course she is. She is ACTING weak and flaunting money. That is what I got from the authors description. All I needed to know was she was putting herself in a venerable position and was flaunting money. Enough on her. She’s like the fool who warms up the care and goes in the house to wait and wonders why the car is stolen.

    On another note, Wendy Murphy lost me during the Kobe Bryant situation. She stated when a woman gets raped she will often go out the same day and have sex with others. Most of us who know one who has been raped knows this is not true and is an insult. Murphy was trying to make the DNA panties fit. Shame on her! Some people might act out later, but the first days are usually for healing and beating oneself up for causing it. There are many innocent rape victims and some might have used better judgement, in the end we all must protect ourselves from crime…period.

    • Andreas

      What an honest woman you are.

    • Cyberquill

      Wendy Murphy lost me when she kept referring to the Duke lacrosse accuser as the “victim” (it later turned out that her accusations were fabricated), thus tossing all presumption of innocence right out the window. This is what happens when a person’s well-meaning yet rabid activism knocks out even the most rudimentary sense of open-mindedness and justice.

      The most fascinating legal dispute regarding rape I ever heard was the case where a couple had consensual sex, in the middle of which the woman suddenly told the guy to stop, and he withdrew after about five seconds. Now the legal issue was whether the man should face criminal charges because he “raped” the woman for five seconds.

      It’s a real conundrum: how much time should be allowed to pass between a woman’s “stop” and a man’s withdrawal before an initially consensual act turns into rape? If the guy keeps going for five minutes, it’s clearly rape. Five seconds, that’s just silly. But where exactly is the demarcation? Ten seconds? Twelve seconds?

  • http://none Anne Johnson

    I also need to mention I said on facbook that we need to do more for American’s in need than Haiti. One of my smartest friends ( eduacation wise) replied,” Oh Anne, not even you are buying this one.”

  • Andreas

    You can strengthen your basic point by choosing more and different examples. Choosing the rape scenario gets everybody riled up unnecessarily so that nobody can think clearly any longer (because everybody is uptight about and angry at the opposite sex anyway).

    But take for example the case of World War I (as opposed to WWII). How do you apportion blame for starting it? Germany is a likely candidate, but so is Austria, and Serbia and every place around it, and even Russia and France and Britain….. In fact, the real culprit seems to have been a “system”: The alliances were such that each country would AUTOMATICALLY mobilize upon certain trigger events, and one country (the one in the middle, facing all fronts simultaneously) would then necessarily have to invade the one to the left in order to have any chance of then dealing with the one on the right, and so on….

    Put differently, in real life, it is usually the case that ALL participants in ANY situation, being human, have done something sub-optimally and even wrong. Eg, Palestinians AND Israelis; Catholics AND Protestants in Ulster; Hindus AND Muslims in India, etc. Each individual, being human, is thus “primed” with the memory of previous slights, humiliations and fears to overreact, and poof goes proportionality. Then something stupid and banal happens, and the result is an atrocity.

    • dafna

      well said. what an honest man you are.

      “proportionality” is a much better word than “disparity” to use when attempting to understand “blame-the-victim”.

      it can be found in many different situations. it might have been relevant to your financial situation, which is why i introduced the term in your last blog.
      it’s a very complicated concept to wrap the head around.

    • Cyberquill

      Beautifully spoken, Andreas. And what’s most impressive, judging from the time stamps on your two comments, this second one took you less than ten minutes to compose. That’s what separates the working writers from the perennial waiters.

  • Exuvia

    ANY AND ALL “have done something sub-optimally and even wrong. ”

    It’s no relief but it sounds really true.

    • Cyberquill

      Yeah, but by acknowledging sub-obtimal behavior by any and all, we are, in essence, blaming everybody, victims included—are we not?

  • Exuvia

    “we are, in essence, blaming everybody, victims included”

    We are indeed.

    This is hard to swallow lest you open the bag of Karmic trickery and assume a cosmic credit card service by which you can buy in this life and pay in the next.

    The Bible has an interesting reference to the vanity of looking for innocence in those whom bad things happen to. Can’t remember it off of my head; I could find it.

    Dangerous ammunition for spiteful minds wallowing in self righteousness. You get what you deserve… tough luck; deserve better next time.


    • dafna

      interesting exuvia. but i can not tell if you mean that the phenomenon of blame-the-victim is a product of “spiteful minds wallowing in self righteousness” or if you are being facetious. hmm

      those who engage in blame-the-victim tactics apply a disproportionate amount of blame on the victim, hence the term. for many reasons, spite, self righteousness, survivors guilt, racism etc. they also conveniently ignore context.

      there was another blog that told a tragic story about a vehicular homicide (drunk driving death). it could be said that the victim should not have entered a car where the driver was drunk therefore his death was entirely his own fault. or it could be said the blame (i really like the word responsibility better) was shared, the onus falling on the drunk driver.

      that wold be a very simple permutation of blame-the-victim philosophy.

    • Cyberquill

      Use every man after his desert, and who shall ‘scape whipping?

      • dafna

        “”God’s bodkin, man, much better: use every man after his desert, and who shall scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity — the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty?”

        • dafna

          lest i be called a marxist AGAIN, i would consider hamlet’s remark charitable and honorable.

  • dafna

    for the record. i am with forrest gump -- humans are neither “masters of our fate” nor “victims of destiny” . life is a little of both.

    we have different opinions.

    • Cyberquill

      I agree that we’re neither 100% one or the other, but all of us favor one theory over the other, and our inclinations mirror our liberal/socialist vs. conservative/capitalist leanings.

      your financial reward should be proportionate to your effort.

      The cleaning lady works just as hard as the CEO, so both are entitled to equal compensation for their efforts. Unless you can explain to me how it is not, this strikes me as a purely Marxist tenet.

      why blame yourself ONLY if it is not? what ‘ism” is this?

      According to the master-of-our-fate theory, we don’t blame ourselves only if it is not. We also “blame” ourselves if we’re rich and successful.

      it is a case of “ought v.s. is” but in my opinion it is not solely the individual to blame if you are working 60 hrs/wk and still living hand to mouth.

      What specifically do you propose this entity called society ought to do about this other than to engage in the process of “recognizing”? Ultimately, concrete policies must be put in place to effect concrete change. So what do you suggest? Minimum wage laws for cleaning ladies and an earning ceiling for heart surgeons, all based on “effort”? Should a person who wrote a blockbuster movie earn less than the person who wrote a turkey if the latter put in more hours and worked a lot harder?

      • dafna

        we have different opinions.

        i would not mind the liberal/socialist label. capitalist societies do recognize the problem of “the working poor”. unless the cleaning lady is able to live beyond hand to mouth, she is defined as the working poor.

        he, he, he, thanks for the compliment but if the question about how to deal with it has/is being addressed by great minds, i don’t think i qualify.

        many programs have/are being put to the test. you could make use of some of them. there are training grants available in all states for anyone earning less than $37,000. there are FAFSA grants. there are some crazy capitalists, pierre omidyar, that believe in something called social philanthropy (the “microloan”). then there is bill gates and warren buffet that attack the issue with charity.

        • Cyberquill

          If you qualify to criticize society, I figured you may also qualify to offer practical suggestions as to what ought to be done to fix those ills you are lamenting.

          For instance, if you feel you’re being undercompensated for your efforts, you should be able to articulate who is supposed to pay you the extra amount you think you deserve for your efforts, and by what mechanism exactly this person or entity ought to be compelled to pay it in case they don’t want to.

          Are you in favor of a wholesale raise in minimum wages to a level where sheer effort is properly compensated by employers, or should the government send the underappreciated among us a monthly check to cover the difference, all paid for by taxes obtained from the affluent?

          Of course capitalist societies recognize the problem of the “working poor,” and it is being addressed all over the place by that horrible capitalist/protestant society you appear to view as an obstacle to your success. You just cited several examples yourself, and I had mentioned that I’ve been collecting unemployment for almost a year now; as we speak there’s a debate in our horrible capitalist/protestant Congress to extend unemployment benefits yet again, and only one Senator out of 535 delegates (all of them elected by the people which comprise this horrible capitalist/protestant society) appears to be against it.

          • dafna

            wow. you seem very angry. please point out where i wrote that capitalist/protestant society is horrible. that is your filter. and even if it were my intent (NOT) why should it cause anger?

            bill gates and warren buffet are my heros. both products of a capitalists society.

            although you say that everyone has ample opportunity to clarify to their hearts content, i would choose to disengage from this blog topic since i feel i have clearly stated my opinions already.

            we have different opinions. i hate debate, it is not in my nature.

            we might,/i> agree on ONE point, it is easier to recognize a typo than to fix one?

            • Cyberquill

              Of course you hate debate. Specifics are frustrating.

  • Exuvia

    To Forrest!

    A little bit victim and a little bit not would entail a little bit guilty and a little bit not. I.e. if I am a little bit victim then the other bit of me is to blame; a rather balanced view. Brings LIBERTY to my mind; our Lady of the scales.

    All or nothing seems very unbalanced: All victim or no victim at all vs. All guilty or no guilt at all. You are yellow or red, never orange.

    Are there other options?

    The issue of guilt or blame must take into consideration the idea of free will.

    Do we or do we not have free will?

    Are we cards dealt or cards jumping out of the deck or a little bit of both?

    The cards appear randomly after the shuffle but they never come out better than an ace or less than a 2. We perceive luck but fortune or conditions are limited and are there from the beginning.

    Shall we add to the annals of philosophy?

  • Exuvia

    “Use every man after his desert, and who shall ’scape whipping?”

    Say some more.

    • Cyberquill

      O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain! My tables—meet it is I set it down, that one may smile, and smile, and be a villain…

  • Exuvia

    @ dafna

    I’m glad I know of the Online Etymology Dictionary. I love to go there.

    1590s, from Fr. facétieux, from facétie “a joke,” from L. facetia, from facetus “witty, elegant,” of unknown origin, perhaps related to facis “torch.” It implies a desire to be amusing, often intrusive or ill-timed. “Facetiæ in booksellers’ catalogues, is, like curious, a euphemism for erotica.” [Fowler] Related: Facetiously; facetiousness.

    “It implies a desire to be amusing, often intrusive or ill-timed.” Yes…

    but no,
    not A PRODUCT OF “spiteful minds wallowing in self righteousness” but something someone with such a bend of mind would do, a favorite sport of sorts, blaming-the-victim.
    Not CAUSALLY RELATED but coming together as the pig and the trough. As hunger and food, that kind of hunger and that kind of food.

    Do excuse my capital letters. I don’t know how to make it appear in cursive in order to put an emphasis. The following should be read in font size 8 and as a whisper: I never shout online.

    • Cyberquill

      I always thought facetious meant faceful, as in “having a face.”

      “The Bible has an interesting reference to the vanity of looking for innocence in those whom bad things happen to. Can’t remember it off of my head; I could find it.”

      “Do excuse my capital letters. I don’t know how to make it appear in cursive in order to put an emphasis.”

      You seem generally ill-prepared. Keep in mind that karma favors those who do their homework.

    • dafna


      most browsers still have the option to “view source”. if the html makes any sense to you, “copy and paste”. it is always a pair of bracketed commands i will use the wrong type of bracket and see if it shows up [i]lorem ispum[/i] = italics

      here is any easy link:

      for wordpress, only italics and hyper link commands are usually available to the audience. sorry you can’t speak softly by way of font size, but you may be able to carry a big stick.

  • Exuvia

    The impression I have given you of being ill prepared is no doubt a true reflection. But I get better as things progress.

    I now call my favorite teacher to the witness stand; his invitation to collect books of reference, to recognize a source and identify how to access it rather than absorb the text made me lazy; a lazy collector of reference works.

    The Bible is such a dense volume. I pick at it as a bored bird without hunger. Still, now and then, I stumble through a few topics in it using a software identified as the SwordProject. It works for me.

    Shall Karma deal harshly with me? Each according to guilt; blame me, if you must…

    The impressive production on your blog shows me that you are yourself vastly prepared. I guess that is what makes coming here a pleasure. My personal digital avatar has a much smaller audience; on the web it is known as natural selection, being visited by virtue of intellectual strength.

    Write well and survive is the imperative.


    Thanks dafna. A good link can go a long way.

    • Cyberquill

      Glad you are deriving pleasure from stopping by.

      Speaking of impressive production, it seems that the total word count of the comments you left on my digital avatar in the last three days exceeds that of all your entries on your own digital avatar in the last three months combined.

      Regarding readership, I worked hard to build up my audience of at least five visitors per day. I’m sure you can do the same.

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