I won’t waste everyone’s time in a lengthy defense of George Zimmerman. There are countless blogs and websites that are successfully doing that. What I want to discuss about the Zimmerman case is how it has highlighted the real problem with America, the “Spiral of Silence” and its successful implementation by America’s rapidly growing number of pathological narcissists, which has only been exacerbated with advancements in technology, and how this problem goes well beyond this one textbook case of justifiable homicide and is leading this nation down the path of self-destruction.
Of the people who I have heard defending Trayvon Martin, none have been able to do so in any intelligent, commonsense, and in some cases, intelligible way. Some people suggest that George should never have gotten out of his car that night, as if it is okay to excuse a man for killing another in a bar fight, by saying the one he killed was at fault, because he should never have gone to the bar that night. Others blame George for using his gun at all, as if a mother protecting her children from a rapist during a home invasion should wait to see what the rapists intentions are first before pulling the trigger. Yet others suggest that Zimmerman was stalking Trayvon, as if someone who follows me down the sidewalk, into the same grocery store, up the same aisle and stops in front of the same cans of creamed corn should not be surprised when I grab that creamed corn and violently smash it into his face to defend myself from their stalking of me, as if following someone alone in a public place justifies a brutal beating.
The fact is, whatever happened prior to Trayvon attacking Zimmerman is irrelevant, because as a civilized society we do not condone violence as a solution to anything, except in response to violence for self-defense. Regardless of what George Zimmerman did, or said to Trayvon, as a civilized society we teach our children to, “turn the other cheek” and, “take the high road” and, “be the bigger person” and, “not to stoop to their level” and, “treat others as you want them to treat you” and, “follow the golden rule.”
I don’t believe anyone reading this would teach their children that if someone says something they don’t like, it is perfectly acceptable in a civilized society to just haul off and beat the shit out of them for it. How long is it acceptable for a schoolyard bully to heckle another child before that child can beat him up? Five minutes? Ten minutes? An hour? In a society where we believe only sticks and stones can break bones, there is no “right” amount of time. Words are just words and do not justify violence.
George had a gun. Trayvon had fists. If George wanted to kill Trayvon, he was certainly more than capable of doing so without first letting Trayvon abuse his fists with George’s face. The evidence, and common sense, and logic, appeal overwhelmingly to the fact that Trayvon, “cast the first stone” of violence and that George, unable to read Trayvon’s mind, did not know if Trayvon was only going to beat him, or kill him, and so in fear of his life, used the only means available to him to protect his life and that led to Trayvon’s death, which is the risk anyone takes when they are the first to be violently aggressive against another individual.
The truth is, and the evidence supports, that George Zimmerman was defending himself against a violent assault by Trayvon. Trayvon’s defenders often ignore this fact, despite eye witness testimony, ballistic evidence, and injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head. Instead, Trayvon’s supporters are left to appeal to your emotion, and race-based predeterminations. As soon as they heard that George Zimmerman was
white, Hispanic, white-Hispanic, they had already judged and executed him. Facts beyond this one were irrelevant. All that mattered now, was emotion and sentimentality. So what do I mean by that?
America suffers from a classic and well known phenomenon studied since 1974 known as the, “Spiral of Silence,” and this phenomenon has only been made worse by advancements in technology that amplify the social interactions between people, through for example, Facebook.
The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. Spiral of silence theory describes the process by which one opinion becomes dominant as those who perceive their opinion to be in the minority do not speak up because society threatens individuals with fear of isolation. The assessment of ones social environment may not always be correct with reality.
Last night, Facebook was all aflutter with comments lamenting the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Such was their emotional distress, that their profile pictures were soon changed to an obscure figure in a dark hoodie.
This wave of emotionally fueled and vacuous Facebook assaults on George Zimmerman was met with silence, the Spiral of Silence. Only those who were seeking out confirmation that George was a murderer, and those willing to provide it, and thus confirming themselves in the process, were publicly discussing the case. All those with an alternate opinion were not speaking up because, “society threatens individuals with fear of isolation,” and as social creatures, isolation is one of our greatest fears. This allows the sentimental narcissists to define the narrative and make the majority believe that the minority opinion represents everyone. This is why it is important for those of a diverging opinion to risk sharing it. You may be surprised to discover how many others agree with you, but were in silence.
These emotionally-based sentimentalists swim in an ocean of self-reinforcing group-think where how you feel about something is more important than spending the time and effort to apply rational cognitive energies using facts and common sense to draw a logical conclusion based on the available data. Humans, like the rest of the natural world from lightening to rivers, seek out the path of least resistance. Drawing conclusions on anything based on emotion is significantly easier than applying oneself to the task of mental calisthenics.
The conclusion of such a mental effort, in this particular case, would most likely produce the opinion that George Zimmerman defended himself against a violent assault and, albeit regrettably, had to kill his assailant for fear of his life. At a minimum, if one were so inclined to apply an even more stringent critique, they would conclude that George Zimmerman must be acquitted because the facts of the case, such as they are, are not sufficient to surmount the, “reasonable doubt” requirement for a conviction. There is in fact a reasonable doubt as to what happened, and in America, where we value freedom above all else, it is more important to let a guilty man go free than to imprison an innocent man, and therefore in criminal trials, the facts must overwhelmingly support the conviction; not mostly support, not somewhat support, not almost support, but beyond a reasonable doubt support. The Founders knew that in a criminal case, a man’s life, possibly an innocent man’s, hangs in the balance, and that we must lean towards the mistake of freedom and away from the mistake of conviction. Without this calorie-burning exertion of mental effort, we are left with a public opinion driven entirely by the simple-minded lethargy of sentimental emotion.
America today is largely composed of the sentimental mob. What is most important to the mob, is the drama, the actors and the climax. All reality is now a Reality Show, with the same expectations. When the curtain was raised on the Zimmerman Show, the media defined the cast and laid out the plot for those that cannot be bothered to think on their own; a white man that brutally slaughtered a young black child who just wanted to eat his Skittles and iced tea. The sentimentalists gulped down this dramatic nectar, watching the story unfold, reveling in its emotional tenseness, engaging in apoplectic indignation at the hero being struck down by the villain.
They satisfied their insatiable desire to claim superiority over everyone, in their own eyes, by enjoying the misery of others, by feeding voraciously on the melodramatic prattle laid out before them by the media and the Government like a starving vampire feasts in a morgue. The apocalyptic final act was to be the righteous conviction of George Zimmerman to the sound of thunderous applause by the the mob, the media and black racists everywhere. Throughout this performance, Facebook and Twitter comments by the righteously acrimonious sentimental mob overcame all dissension, striking swiftly at the mere utterance of Zimmerman’s possible innocence by wielding venomous personal assaults and racially based invective. Nothing shall disturb the narrative. Unfortunately for the mob, six sane individuals capable of critical thought, perhaps lacking Facebook accounts and immune from Government coercion, unlike the Judge, were able to determine logically that George Zimmerman was not guilty, or at the minimum, sufficient doubt existed to make a guilty verdict impossible. Predictably, the mob, the black racists, the media, and the Government are now responding with anger, rage and bitterness at having been forced to view the alternate ending.
It took just mere moments before Facebook and Twitter were overrun by this emotional, race-based tsunami, etching the “Spiral of Silence” into stone. We saw it then, and we see it again today on Facebook regarding George’s acquittal. So while there are many who believe that Zimmerman was justly set free, the minority who enjoy the drama of race-based tensions, who believe everything the media and the Government and Jesse Jackson and Obama tells them to believe, who at a personal level feed off of the drama and ankle-biting narcissistic gossip across the virtual tops of their neighbors white picket fences on Facebook and Twitter, are the ones in control not only of the public opinion about George Zimmerman, but about every challenge that America faces today.
The historically false but nevertheless educational consideration that Nero fiddled while Rome burned could just as easily be applied today. America suffers from pathological narcissism, an “inward turning” of the individual, where all of their efforts and activities and opinions are structured in such a way as to elevate themselves above those around them, often in some morally or ethically superior way, even if that superiority is misplaced or misguided (as in the case of the Zimmerman trial), and then broadcast on the internet using Facebook and Twitter so they can bask in their own self-righteous glory, feeling superior to their fellow man, as other narcissists stroke their egos with thumbs held up high, while their country burns down around them. This creates a phenomenon where one individual supports another individual’s opinion in exchange for that individual’s future support for their own equivalently narcissistic self-righteous comment creating a short-circuited closed loop of self-congratulatory narcissists, also known colloquially, albeit vulgarly, as this.
In his book, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations, cultural historian Christopher Lasch explored the roots and ramifications of the normalizing of pathological narcissism in 20th century American culture. The book proposes that post-war, late-capitalist America, through the effects of “organized kindness” on the traditional family structure, has produced a personality-type consistent with clinical definitions of “pathological narcissism.” This pathology is not akin to everyday narcissism — a hedonistic egoism — but rather a very weak sense of self requiring constant external validation.
Unfortunately, Christopher Lasche died in 1994, about a year before I opened my first AOL account with a dial-up modem so he was unable to experience the impact that Facebook and Twitter have had on the ability to rapidly spread this pathological narcissistic epidemic throughout America. The, “organized kindness” he speaks of where individuals maintain a weak sense of self, defining themselves through constant external validation with the world (via the closed circle of other self-congratulatory Facebook narcissists mentioned earlier) has not only lead to the abandonment of critical thinking in developing opinions based on fact by appealing instead to the weak minded refuge of emotion, but that this way of thinking goes beyond this trial and is impacting the lives of every American in incredible and far reaching ways. It is redefining this nation, its citizens, and the role of Government.
People are hungry, so we must feed them. People are homeless, so we must house them. People are sick, so we must heal them. People are jobless, so we must support them. People are old, so we must assist them. People are poor, so we must enrich them. People are phone-less, so we must connect them. People are uneducated, so we must teach them. People are here illegally, so we must legalize them. People face discrimination, so we must discriminate against others for them. There is no pain, no suffering, no discomfort, that is beyond the redistribution of your money…according to the will of Liberal Sentimentalists.
The process of lifting people up is matched harmonically with the tearing down of people from above, when one uses the violent, clumsy, inefficient fulcrum of Government power to make everyone, “equal.” Narcissistic sentimentalists only see one side of the scale, ignorant of, or worse ignoring, the lives destroyed in the exchange that they demand to feed their moral superiority over everyone else.
Pathological narcissism prevents individuals from considering the unintended consequences of these, “morally superior” positions where it is easier to decry someone as a racist or bigot or mean or evil or too rich or too greedy, than to consider the financial, societal, and economic ramifications of, in essence, ensuring that nobody feels any pain or suffering or discomfort at any level from anyone or anything forever.
There is no consideration of the cost of eliminating all pain and discomfort in America, no consideration as to the loss of freedom, or income, or standard of living by engaging the Government to solve all of our problems. No thought as to the impact that enforcing such “moral values” through Government threats of violence will have on other Americans. Pathological narcissism is destroying critical thinking, and with it, how Americans approach and weigh the various challenges we face in America, that choices have consequences, and costs, that life is a balance of trade-offs where what is gained versus what is lost must be considered, and it is happening in such a way that Government is more than willing to lie, and promise a solution for every problem, with no cost or trade-off, in exchange for anything and everything in our lives including our freedom, jobs, standard of living and incomes.
The pathological narcissists are more than willing to sign us up for all of it, and to control the narrative, to define the actors, and to set the stage and maintain the excitement of the drama, reveling in their own self-righteousness, while silencing those who would object to their blind-to-consequences “moral superiority” through the vicious use of the “Spiral of Silence,” while we slowly decline as a society, as a nation, and as a People into poverty, tyranny and irrelevance.