The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘People Who Are Joined in Collective Hate’

Posted on | April 21, 2015 | 32 Comments

Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) has a smart take on Ron Jonson’s book about social-media shaming:

If I have one complaint about the book, it’s that he doesn’t dive deep enough into what shaming is good for and why we like it so much. . . .
Shame is, after all, a force for good as well as evil. . . .
Shame is one way we enforced good behavior in small groups before there were laws or trading networks. It is a very powerful motivator, and it helps us to come together in large cooperative groups with high degrees of trust and sharing. A hatred of being shamed ourselves and a love of shaming others who have transgressed both literally helped to make us human. . . .

Interrupting here (because I’m a mansplaining misogynist and that’s what we do) to point out that McArdle has correctly situated this in the context of mankind’s tribal nature. It cannot be emphasized enough that our need to feel membership in a larger group is a powerful psychological motivator. Even highly intelligent and well-educated people seldom stop to think why they identify so passionately as a sports fan (“Roll Tide!”) or in any other chosen tribal identity. Our social behavior — in everything from trivial things like online fanfic groups to international terrorist organizations — reflects our instinctive tribalism. And now, having exercised my patriarchal privilege, I yield the floor to Megan McArdle:

But . . . shame doesn’t just punish wrongdoers; it also turns us into our own moral enforcers. Once we’ve been shamed, we are strongly motivated to avoid doing the things that brought it on. Or at least, most of us are — one of the hallmarks of sociopaths is that they don’t feel shame or remorse. To paraphrase Gordon Gekko, shame is good. Shame is right. Shame works.

Interrupting again, because she’s wrong: Sociopaths do feel shame. They feel it very intensely. The problem is that their damaged ego has erected psychological defense mechanisms that involve the evasion of responsibility through the externalization of blame. Sociopaths rationalize their feelings of shame, lash out at anyone who makes them feel bad about their guilty secrets, and try to play the victim. (“DARVO — Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.”) Understanding this aspect of sociopathic behavior was what enabled me to unlock the riddle of Brett Kimberlin. One you understood Kimberlin’s shameful motive, everything else about his hideous behavior made a lot more sense. And, yes: Shame is good. Shame is right. Shame works. We return to Megan McArdle:

In the small groups we evolved to live in, shame is tempered by love and forgiveness. People are shamed for some transgression, then they are restored to the group. Ultimately, the shamed person is not an enemy; he or she is someone you need and want to get along with. This is how you make up with your spouse after one or both of you has done or said something terrible. . . .

Except, of course, (a) tribal societies shun or murder those who offend their basic code or honor, and (b) many marriages end because people cannot forgive their spouse’s transgressions. Folks, I apologize for my repeated interruptions. I agree with Megan McArdle. I like Megan McArdle. I want her to like me. So why do I keep interrupting her to make all these niggling little points? But never mind. This is not about my glaring personality defects. Megan McArdle continues:

On the Internet, when all the social context is stripped away and you don’t even have to look at the face of the person you’re being mean to, shame loses its social, restorative function. Shame-storming isn’t punishment. It’s a weapon. . . .
Outrages are identified using the least charitable, most literal possible reading of what someone wrote or did, rather than trying . . . to think of what they could have meant by it, giving them the benefit of the doubt where two readings are possible. Things that were stupid and thoughtless are turned into deliberate outrages that could only be the work of hardened psychopaths. . .
But forget whether the shaming is excessive. Does it even work?
To be sure, a lot of folks certainly seem terrified by the possibility of being attacked by roving bands of verbal vigilantes. Yet I notice two things about these fears that raise some questions about the tactic’s usefulness. First of all, the fears are strongest among people who are politically allied with the shame-stormers. And second, the people who are afraid don’t fear being found out for their dark transgressions; they fear being unjustly attacked.
Twitter makes it absurdly easy to shame someone. You barely have to take 30 seconds out of your day to make an outraged comment that will please your friends and hurt the person you’ve targeted. . . .
This sort of tactic may buy silence, though it is likely to be the most effective on people who already agree with you and simply said something infelicitous. What it cannot buy is community, beyond the bonds that build between people who are joined in collective hate.

You can and should read the whole thing. It was that phrase — “people who are joined in collective hate” — which caught my eye in McArdle’s piece, for this reason: Most conservatives cannot comprehend the intensity of hatred that motivates and unites the Left. Any attempt to out-hate them is futile. For example: No matter how much you hate Amanda Marcotte, you can never hate her as much as she hates you.

Amanda Marcotte exudes an all-encompassing hatred from every evil cell of her wicked anatomy. She is also compulsively dishonest, because a vile sadist like Marcotte fears nothing so much as she fears the exposure of her despicable hatefulness. Once you understand that, once you have unlocked the hidden shameful motive of Marcotte’s otherwise mystifying madness, everything else makes sense.

Like I say, “Scratch a feminist and a kook bleeds.”

Also, “Bad causes attract bad people.”

So I am grateful to Megan McArdle for her essay on shame-storming, and apologize again for my repeated interruptions. Nobody’s fault but mine.



32 Responses to “‘People Who Are Joined in Collective Hate’”

  1. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 21st, 2015 @ 11:36 am

    They seem to feed off the hate, I see it all the time on social media.

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  5. M. Thompson
    April 21st, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

    And we cannot make them fear.

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  7. RS
    April 21st, 2015 @ 1:16 pm

    Hatred is fascinating emotion. I suppose it gives us a goose of “feel good,” but in reality it is worthless. Over the years, I’ve found that people who express endless vitriol and scorn at something tend to be the most unhappy. Hatred expressed toward others is merely a means to camouflage one’s own hatred of self.

  8. DeadMessenger
    April 21st, 2015 @ 1:26 pm

    Has the definition of the word “hate” changed over the years? Maybe I’m a hopeless old fogey, but I can’t think of anyone I actually hate. There might be some I dislike…and even that’s too strong…maybe prefer not to spend time with is more accurate. But there’s a lot of people I feel very sorry for…Amanda Marcotte would be one…who are so consumed by negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors that they can’t possibly truly enjoy life.

  9. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 21st, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

    How true is that.

    I do not “hate” most liberals. I disagree with them and find it curious how many people hold such views. What I hate is the behavior of demonizing the opposition. And that is definitely growing.

  10. DeadMessenger
    April 21st, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

    James 3:8 sums it up, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

  11. RS
    April 21st, 2015 @ 1:35 pm

    My aversion to certain people morphs into pity very quickly.

  12. Southern Air Pirate
    April 21st, 2015 @ 2:31 pm


    Don’t forget that for some folks their minds are messed up enough that they feed on the hate and it makes them feel even better. Take your feminist who has attacked you after you have highlighted thier thoughts and words. They all stand around in the square and say, “see this is what I have to put up with and this is why I am angry. I hate them because they have chosen to hate me a small insignificant woman who is trying to be big” then the crowds roar and the hate is replaced by pleasure. So they go out and seek higher and more ugly forms of hate to create even more spectacular events to get even more applause when standing up for “Help”. Mind you this is how some people also have the idea that being beaten till blood is drawn and welts are left is something sexually pleasuring (side note have you noticed most feminists are big into the BDSM world? )

    So it only make sense that folks would want to foster hate because it makes them feel warm inside and they know the only way to get hate directly is to send hate out. You are right we will never hate enough to out hate these folks. It’s an emotional response and almost animalistic in nature.

  13. Dianna Deeley
    April 21st, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

    It certainly explains why they identify every single thing as “hatred.” They’re consumed by it.

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  15. The original Mr. X
    April 21st, 2015 @ 2:49 pm

    That’s because you were raised in the days before hatred became a virtue.

  16. robertstacymccain
    April 21st, 2015 @ 2:51 pm

    What you say is very true. This is why we have to expose feminism for what it is. Sane people don’t like craziness. Decent people do not like hatred. Honest people do not like dishonesty. If you could make people see that crazy, hateful, dishonest movement for what it really is, its collapse would be sudden and irreparable.

  17. JadedByPolitics
    April 21st, 2015 @ 3:00 pm

    the lost particular in people wanting to BLAME the internet is that for the all the bad and really we are all animals at the end of the, the good, the information, the TRUTH that is put out from behind state run media filters is well worth the price of admission.

  18. Daniel Freeman
    April 21st, 2015 @ 4:11 pm

    It’s the endgame of the fight-or-flight reflex. The question is, what are they so afraid of?

  19. Daniel Freeman
    April 21st, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

    Folks, I apologize for my repeated interruptions. I agree with Megan McArdle. I like Megan McArdle. I want her to like me. So why do I keep interrupting her to make all these niggling little points?

    Man, I’m the same way. I finally figured out that it’s a direct consequence of her style and goals. In order to keep her blog “punchy” and drive straight to a Big Point about a Big Subject, she inevitably has to breeze past many side paths worthy of extended discussion in their own right. Once I accepted that, I was able to let go of my frustration with what she didn’t say, and enjoy what she did.

  20. K-Bob
    April 21st, 2015 @ 5:03 pm

    The only real solution to getting control of what one thinks the “real” message is, is to write it and publish it, and let others critique that.

    It’s not much fun quibbling over stuff with people you think of as allies. Although Quartermaster and I like to arm wrestle about once per year. You know, to keep in shape.

  21. Daniel Freeman
    April 21st, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

    If I were to start a blog, where should I start? Should I get my own domain? It would take about 0.3 seconds for me to offend the Flaming Rage Nozzles of Tolerance, so there’s no point in joining a service where they could get me kicked off.

  22. K-Bob
    April 21st, 2015 @ 5:18 pm

    Running a blog is a serious pain in the ass. That’s why I live in the bleachers here. (Although I do have a couple of special-purpose blogs that are not “discussion” sites.)

    But getting posting privileges at another site is probably a good way to start. If you have the chops, there’s folks that would probably welcome another writer.

  23. Daniel Freeman
    April 21st, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

    Hmm. If I were to write a whole article, I would want the freedom to speak my mind, wherever it might take me. But it could be a good way to start. I’ll have to think about that.

  24. PCachu
    April 21st, 2015 @ 5:56 pm

    Starting off by buying a domain is putting the cart in front of the horse. And believe me, as a resident of Michigan, those rear-horse-drive carts have absolutely zero traction on anything that’s not 100% dry asphalt.

    But seriously. If your concern is that the Flaming Rage Nozzles of Tolerance (have I mentioned what an awe-inspiring band name that is yet?) can get you shit-canned from any known blogging platform, remember that once they put (what passes for) their mind to it, they could apply the same tactic to your ISP. And the only companies that welcome the prospect of more lawsuits are the ones that make a practice of filing them.

    …I guess what I’m driving at is that the Known Blogging Platform should primarily be regarded as just a starting point, anyway. I have a Blogger account, and my primary discovery has been that I really don’t care enough to maintain a blog. (Hell, I tend to flip multiple calendar pages in between posts to Facebook.) Make sure to keep personal copies of everything you post, because even the pros are known to have Bad Days.

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  26. K-Bob
    April 21st, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

    I know several folks who started out that way. You aren’t exactly the front page owner, but when your article is linked, it’s all your own work.

  27. Steve Skubinna
    April 21st, 2015 @ 8:38 pm

    Regarding psychopaths, I’d suggest that while they do feel shame, it isn’t about the things normal, healthy people feel shame about.

    You or I would feel shame if we did something that offended our codes of ethics. Psychopaths feel shame at being outsmarted by their inferiors (which to a psychopath is everyone) or at not having their superior brilliance recognized.

    And now I realize that I have just described Khan in the Wrath of Khan. Oh well, if the shoe fits…

  28. Daniel Freeman
    April 21st, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

    Hmm. That reminds me of a Sherlock scene… Distinction without a difference, or is there?

  29. meepbobeep
    April 22nd, 2015 @ 6:07 am

    I think we need to distinguish between shame and guilt.

    sociopaths do feel shame, i agree. it has to do with how other people see them.

    they do not feel guilt, which has to do with having an internal moral compass, regardless of other people’s attention.

  30. theoldsargesays
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 9:32 pm

    Al Sharpton must really hate himself.

  31. theoldsargesays
    April 23rd, 2015 @ 9:37 pm

    Its like a cancer that eats away at them, yet those around them are affected too.
    While its hard to show compassion towards these kinds of individuals I take solace in knowing that at least I don’t sinknto their levels.
    (Most of the time, anyway)

  32. News of the Week (April 26th, 2015) | The Political Hat
    April 26th, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

    […] “People Who Are Joined in Collective Hate” Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) has a smart take on Ron Jonson’s book about social-media shaming. […]