Thursday, December 01, 2011

When the Good Guy is Bad

In their own way, The Post yesterday raised a point that has been bothering me about the Penn State craziness.

Jerry Sandusky was an outstanding figure in his community, loved and respected by the public. He spoke inspiringly, helped lead his team to victory, and cultivated little boys so he could rape them.

There is no better cover to hide behind than that of the sanctimonious blowhard. Everybody knows what the good things are to say, anybody can repeat patriotic and pious phrases and chastise those who doubt them. It takes real courage for an ordinary person to stand up to a tidal wave of self-righteousness, and they will almost always be beaten down for trying.

One of the worst fallacies we teach children is that bad people are ugly. Misshapen monsters do most of the mischief in fairy tales, cartoons, movies, TV shows -- you know who the bad guy is the first time you see him; the evil stepmother has a pointy chin, warts, and narrow eyes and the fairy godmother just stepped out of a beauty pageant. But in reality evil is done in equal measure by people who are charming, cheerful, articulate, handsome. Our sense of good and evil is dominated by snap-judgments based on the appearances of people. It is almost like an optical illusion when we can not see the terrible things that attractive, popular people do. Once we have determined someone is a good person we become blind to the bad things they do.

You probably saw the story, but let me quote you some of it:
Jerry Sandusky was an icon. He was fun, motivating, successful, trustworthy. He was a coach, a mentor, a family man, a churchgoer and a dedicated philanthropist who split his life between two pursuits: Penn State football and helping disadvantaged kids.

Now, Sandusky is alleged to have repeatedly courted, groomed and abused young boys for at least 15 years. Those who know him well can’t believe the accusations.

But police, prosecutors and sex crime experts say that Sandusky’s alleged abuse is illustrative of sex predation across the country. It is an extremely high-profile version of what police departments and social services offices see regularly: A man in a position of trust is accused of abusing those who are most vulnerable.

Capt. Bill Carson of the Maryland Heights, Mo., police department, a 32-year veteran who has studied imprisoned sex offenders, noticed similarities between his cases and the Penn State case right away.

“I interviewed a lot of charismatic people that would appear to be really nice people if you didn’t know what they were in prison for,” he said. “They came across as being very pleasant. A lot of them had been in a position of trust. They were youth pastors or school teachers or YMCA volunteers, Boy Scout leaders, Little League coaches.

“They were well respected and well thought of in their career,” Carson said. “And when the charges came down, everyone was shocked.” Penn State case paints familiar portrait for police, experts, victims

The shock these people feel, the surprise, is a pure expression of stereotypes that are just plain wrong. Somehow white men who prominently enunciate lofty sentiments are supposed to be better people than, well, than the rest of us. In reality the stereotype only provides a mask, the stereotypical "good guy" is a script that anyone can learn.


Blogger Theresa said...

I don't think so.
For one, I think Sandusky is really kind of ugly.

And I try very hard not to judge people by how they look, being an overweight person myself.

I find it really amusing that you would put up a post about how people are judged by their appearances, and you shouldn't judge by appearances (implying libs don't judge by appearances and conservatives do..), when you allowed a post to go through by Dana calling me a dyke and masculine looking, etc, etc, etc.

you guys are all over the map on standards, as usual.


Hey, what is your position on all the redevelopment plans going on across this area ? The most liberal person on our list serve and I just organized a meeting on the Kensington redevelopment, pretty unbelievable, they are zoning for high rises throughout this area .... we got over 100 attendees

did you know they were doing this, because most folks seem to be unaware

December 02, 2011 12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'd heard of the development planned for Knowles and Conn. My feeling was anything would be an improvement to the collection of gas stations there.

Also, we know that Chevy Chase Land is panting over the monorail on the Capital Crescent Trail because they are planning a bunch of development at the Chevy Chase Lake area, which I'm not as enthusiastic about.

What else is going on?

December 02, 2011 6:26 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

well in Kensington they are letting 75 foot buildings and FARs of 2.5 up and down Connecticut Avenue. and actually, where the developers are currently looking at building are not the gas stations, but hardware city (75 foot on that corner down to summit), etc.

They are also zoning for mixed use apartment buildings.

There is a Wheaton sector plan, and Chevy Chase Lake Sector plan, a White Flint sector plan and a Kensingon Sector plan. All allow mixed use high rises, I believe. At least in Kensington they are not funding any infrastructure changes (roads, schools, etc) before they zone to allow developers to build high rises.

Given that connecticut avenue is already awful, and rockville pike is undriveable most of the time....
lots of us believe that is nuts.

December 02, 2011 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, Wheaton is a worry

I wonder how hard it would be to get a historic designation for the Triangle

also, could we make a law that the Little Tavern has to come back?

I think the whole White Flint Plan sounds appropriate for that area

December 02, 2011 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Despite a stark drop in the national unemployment rate reported Friday, economists warned it will take decades for the labor market to return to pre-recession employment levels if the economy's achingly slow growth continues.

The U.S. economy added 120,000 jobs in November -- falling short of economists' expectations -- while the unemployment rate dipped from 9.0 to 8.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning. But most of the decline in the unemployment rate came from the 315,000 Americans who dropped out of the labor market last month, a reflection of the slow pace of the recovery, economists said.

"When unemployment is this high for this long, it's very likely that most of the people dropping out are doing so because they can't find work," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, who has studied the shrinking labor force during the years since the recession began. "There is some movement here, that's true. But it's just so slow."

120,000 may not be 250,000 -- the lowest number most economists look to for a really healthy recovery -- but it's also better than zero, the headline number of new positions created in August, when fears of a double-dip recession really began to take hold.

The job gains are not coming in primarily high-wage industries, and annual average wage growth is not keeping pace with inflation. Worker in the retail sector -- which had the biggest gains last month -- pull in median hourly wages of $10.94 an hour, according to the Labor Department, and that sector's growth is one factor that explains the 2 cents dip in average hourly earnings last month. Another key factor is that the weak labor market provides employees little leverage to bargain with their employers over pay, economists said.

Two million Americans have been out of work for 99 weeks or more -- up from 1.5 million last November -- according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The percentage of workers who are working part time but still seeking full-time work is also up from a year ago, according to a recent Gallup poll.

And the U.S. economy still needs to regain more than 6 million jobs lost during the recession -- plus some 4.6 million jobs to account for population growth -- to reach pre-recession employment.

It's stark numbers like these that have led economists to dub the years since the Great Recession officially ended "the jobless recovery."

"After previous recessions, hiring soared. What has come roaring back this time is profits. They've reached a peak," said Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institute.

December 02, 2011 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...While many Occupy Wall Street protest camps have been cleared around the country, the income inequality that brought thousands of Americans to the streets since mid-September remains as strong as ever, according to this latest government snapshot. And even if job growth began to rebound in coming months, that income inequality, which has been growing for decades now, would still remain.

"Even if we could magically return to where things were in 2007 and the issues of the housing market disappeared, we would still have the three decades of cumulative growing inequality problems," said Lawrence Katz, Professor of Economics at Harvard University."

December 03, 2011 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt was fighting for the 99% when in front of 30,000 folks in Osawatomie, Kansas he said:

"“I stand for the square deal. But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the games, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.”

“Now, this means that our government, national and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics.”

“We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that people may know beyond peradventure whether the corporations obey the law and whether their management entitles them to the confidence of the public. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs”.

“I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective - a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate”.

"I believe that the natural resources must be used for the benefit of all our people, and not monopolized for the benefit of the few.”

“..[T]here are many people who will go with us in conserving the resources only if they are to be allowed to exploit them for their benefit. That is one of the fundamental reasons why the special interest should be driven out of politics.”

"Roosevelt also quoted Abraham Lincoln in part of his speech:

"I hold that while man exists it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind."

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

The concentration of wealth in America in 1910 was almost as great as that which exists in today. It is amazing to hear Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln speak to the problems that exist today.

It is even more amazing knowing that both of these presidents were Republicans."

December 04, 2011 10:20 AM  

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